Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Teaching Expertise

Yes, I did wander back from Wolverhampton eventually...

I've been ridiculously busy recently, hence the lack of blog action. Readers of Sara Sizzle will know why things have been so crazy. Then there was the fact that my daughter Ellie went to live in Australia. There are some pics of her last day in the UK here: Ellie Xmas.

Another thing that's taken up a lot of my time was launching a new site, Teaching Expertise, which includes resources for teachers. We want it to be one of the biggest education sites in the world.

I promise to blog more after Christmas. Promise promise promise.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Wandering to Wolverhampton

I write this on my in-law's PC. I have no iidea where Buffy is right now, but we're spending the weekend with her parents because it's the Extended Buffy Birthday Weekend.

LAst night was party time. Sara's v cool friend Kaz came round, plus various family freidns and relatives, including the legendary Auntie Maggie, and we got the Singstar out. I actually managed to beat Buffy 3 times,s in a row, although she blamed her dad, who kep bellowing into her microphone. Buffy's dad is a secret karaoke fiend and very entertaining.

So what plans do we have for Buffy's 24th? Well, I've got her lots of pressies, most of which I'm excited about. There's a mixture of the serious and silly, and I hope she will reveal what I got her on Sara Sizzle soon.

It's a work day tomorrow, and we're going out for lunch with work friends, then going for dinner in the evening. I'm hoping she will have the bestest birthday ever.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sing when you're losing

Sorry, it's been FOREVER since I posted.

It was my birthday this weekend, and you can read all about it on Sara Sizzle, including the small but perfectly formed hotel she took me to and the amazing array of birthday pressies I got. Best of all was Singstar, which must be the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Or perhaps with your clothes off. I suggested a game of Strip Singstar to Buffy earlier, but unfortunately I would end up naked while she remained fully clothed. Because she beats me nearly every time. I'm convinced there's something wrong with my microphone. Or perhaps it's my vocal cords. I always thought I was good at karaoke! Or maybe it's just that Buffy's amazing.

Whatever, it's sooooooooo unfair. But it is the best game ever.

Next, I want Guitar Hero. She'll whup my ass at that too.

Book recommendation: The Ruins by Scott Smith. It's The Beach meets Day of the Triffids, and it's the book of the year. Well, that and the Smash Hits book, which is swing-orilliant, ackchoooerleeeeeee.

It's Buffy's birthday next week (yep, scorpio + scorpio = a hell of a sting) and I'm quite worried that she's not going to like her main pressie. However, she definitely will love one of her little presents, which is the silliest present of all time and will, hopefully, feature on Sara Sizzle soon.

Right, back to Singstar. Toniiiiiggggghhhht, I'm gonna have myseeeeeeellllffff a real good time...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Oh smelly carpet, oh smelly carpet...

I'm sitting here waiting for our landlady to turn up. She's going to measure the carpets (I just mistyped it as crapets and should have left it like that) so she can replace them. This is because our flat has one serious problem: it stinks. Stinks like a thousand cats have scaled the walls, slunk through the window and used the kitchen carpet like a flower bed. Buffy can't enter the kitchen without being hit by crashing waves of nausea. I'm a little hardier, but not much. So I've got up early to clean the flat and hide the rat cage.

Speaking of those-to-whom-we-pay-most-of-our-wages (is there a gender neutral word for landlord/landlady?), the Sheriff Fatman (obscure early 90s indie reference there) who rented us our last place hasn't given us the compensation he promised. And he won't respond to our emails. He is a big fat dishonest lying bastard. Does anyone know any trained armies of winged monkey assassins? Or have a one-way ticket to a North Korean nuclear testing site?

Buffy met my 3-month-old daughter, Ellie, yesterday. This was quite a big occasion and went very well. Ellie was pretty much on her best behaviour and only cried a little. Buffy didn't cry at all. I'm very happy because it means that she can accompany me to Tunbridge Wells now on Saturdays and we won't have to spend a huge chunk of our weekend apart.

I think there's something wrong with me. I quite like the new Muse single (playing on XFM right now). Help.

I am addicted to brackets (even though they make prose less elegant).

Louise and I have had a sniff of interest from an agent. I will keep you posted, but it's bound to go horribly wrong. That's not pessimism speaking; it's experience.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Still ill

No, not me... Buffy is still sickly and I'm worried. Whenever she eats she feels really sick afterwards. We think it's probably caused by stress. I wouldn't be surprised if she was suffering from some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder, after the year we've had. It's been like 'Nam. I am now doing all I can to ensure that her life is stress-free. Shame she has to go to work...

I'm listening to the new Killers album. It's very... Meat Loaf. I like it, but my albums of the year so far are still Razorlight and Arctic Monkeys. I've bought fewer albums this year than ever before. This is mainly because I've been so skint, but I'm worried that I'm finally reaching the age where I'm less interested in new bands. Eek! I never thought it would happen. I didn't buy NME last week or the week before, though I forced myself to buy it today. It came with a free Rave vs Indie CD. Rave! It's back, apparently. This is what happens, though, isn't it? Music moves in cycles, and when you've seen it all before it's harder to get excited. I barely even felt sad when Top of the Pops was terminated. However, I am going to listen to this Rave vs Indie CD and try not to mumble cynically about how music was better in the old days.

Anyone got any good album recommendations?

I'm trying to quit smoking at the moment. I'm down to four a day, which isn't bad. I want to get to the point where I can just enjoy one occasionally without being addicted. I'm sick of feeling out of breath and giving loads of money to evil companies.

Buffy has booked a hotel in a mystery location for my birthday. Apparently lots of celebs go there. I'm excited! Very excited! One month today and I'll find out where it is...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Call me Florence

Buffy (who has gorgeous new highlighty hair; see her blog for pics) has been sickly since Friday so I've been nursing her. This involves:

1) Pouring glass after glass of Lucozade.

2) Doing all the housework.

3) Not minding when she sits beside me on the sofa wrapped head-to-toe in her sleeping bag.

4) Feeling her forehead every few hours and saying, "There there."

5) Going to the shops and fetching nice things like Pick Me Up (who haven't published our poem yet), salted popcorn, make-your-own-mobile-buddy bead kits and the aforementioned fizzy glucose drink.

Some things I've done that probably wouldn't be recommended by Florence Nightingale:

1) Making her watch Alien and Saw II on DVD.

2) Suggesting that sex might make her feel better.

3) Getting grumpy when she disagreed with 2).

Okay, I made those last two up for comedy value. I am actually very understanding and lovely. As long as she's better by tomorrow... ;)

All the things that I said I was going to write about during the dark days of our No Internet period have been covered by Buffy on her blog, far more entertainingly than I would have done it.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Adsense and Sensibility

A couple of weeks ago, I was interviewed about an aspect of my job: making truckloads of cash using Google Adsense. The article was published today and you can read it here.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Back back back!

No, I didn't perish on the move from Herne Hill - we just had to wait two weeks for BT to fix the phone line. According to Sara, the engineer who turned up today reminded her of a cross between Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and that bloke from the Hills Have Eyes, ie well scary. But he got the job done, even if he did murder the neighbours with a rusty screwdriver on the way up the stairs.

We're on our way out to celebrate our return to the 21st Century. I will blog later this week to tell you all the stuff we've been up to in the last fortnight, like carrying heavy boxes, trying to eradicate the smell from our kitchen and going to see McFly. My ears are still ringing. But more of that later...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Bye Bye Herne Hill

So the flat is packed up into boxes and the fridge has been scrubbed. We were half-tempted to leave the place looking like the black hole of Calcutta, but I'm not sure what the black hole of Calcutta looks like. Except it's probably black. And hole-like.

We both feel a little sad to be leaving this flat because it has a lovely atmosphere... but we're twice as excited about moving into our new place. And staying there for at least a year!

This year, since being together (in February) we have lived in the following places:

1. Feb. Itchy Towers.

A hotel-cum-apartment-block in central London. The kind of place they put the long-term homeless. We lived there for 10 days, and named it Itchy Towers because, well, it made us itch. There was a mouse in the bathroom. Quite cute, but nevertheless...a mouse in the bathroom! Perhaps it was said mouse's fleas that caused the itchiness. In an attempt to stem the scratching, I went out and bought a new quilt. I got it at Argos on Tottenham Court road then went to meet my friend Helen for a drink in Soho. It must be one of the lowlights of my life, walking in to a pub carrying my quilt. It was the nearest to homeless I've ever felt. We drank cheap boxed wine every night. But we were happy because we were together.

2. Feb-March. Belsize Park.

After leaving Itchy Towers, we moved back to Buffy's old flat. The night we moved in, on a rainy February evening, we discovered that the previous occupant (her ex) had taken everything. Everything! Including the lightbulbs. The bedding, most of the furniture, half the patio heater... Most people think Belsize Park is posh, but there is an un-posh bit. This flat was in the un-posh bit. We had to find someone to rent it, so spent the next few weeks showing people round, hoping the Beast who lived upstairs wouldn't be singing along to her James Blunt records. We eventually offloaded it to a fuckwitted couple called Jim and Jose. Jim was a girl, in case you're wondering. We sold them the remains of our furniture for £20 and they repaid us by complaining to the landlord that we'd left it in a dirty state (we hadn't) and we had to pay for a proefessional cleaner. They're on my shit-list now.

3. March-April. Docklands.

We stayed in a friend's house while they went backpacking. It was a nice place but living in Docklands is like living on the moon. But with less life. The only entertainment was at the local Asda. It was a very good Asda. And the less said about the DLR the better.

4. April-September. Herne Hill.

You know about Herne Hill already.

And tomorrow we continue our great voyage around London by moving to Tulse Hill. You will, of course, be able to read all about it, right here and on Sara Sizzle (the best blog in the world).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Landlord of the Flies

I'm fuming!

(If this was Sara's blog there'd be a pic of me fuming here.)

Our landlord, who forced us to leave this flat 8 months early, because he's a bastard, promised us compensation. This wouldn't have made us rich by any means but it would have helped chip away at the edifice of our debts. So, today, after endless calls and emails he finally turned up - on his scooter - with our deposit in a brown paper envelope. Loads of £50 notes. Nice. "There's *insert amount of depost here*," he said.

'What about the compensation."

"Oh, I forgot my cheque book."


He has, though, agreed to sell us his rubbishy second-hand telly, bought in a special landlord's shop, for £50. £50! It might actually be a collector's piece, though, because it's made by Nokia. Who knew that Nokia made TVs?

Anyway, like I said, I'm fuming and am thinking of selling our keys to Dave and inviting him and his wife to move in and squat.

I just might do it.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Hills Are Alive

A very very quick post as I know my readers are crying out to hear whether we got the flat.

Yep, we sure did. Hurrah! We move on Saturday...all the way from Herne Hill to Tulse Hill. It's an up-and-coming area, you know. They're building, wait for it, an All Bar One. But we will be sad to leave HH and our new mate, Dave, behind. I'm still waiting for him to share his wealth with me.

Now, we just need to get our money back from our current landlord. Stay tuned for the next exciting instalment.

BTW, I changed my template because on PCs all the stuff that looks so lovely on the side on my Mac appearsat the bottom. Rubbish!

More tomorrow. I almost promise. (I'm going to go and annoy Buffy who's having a peaceful bath now.)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Burns on a girlfriend

Buffy is really in the wars. We thought it couldn't get worse after the waltzer incident. But this afternoon she dropped her hair straighteners on her arm and gave herself second degree burns. (You can read about the full horror on Sara Sizzle.)

As soon as she did it, I leapt up and yelled, "Enough is enough. I have had it with these muthaf*cking hair straighteners on this muthaf*cking sofa."

Yep, we've just got home from seeing the hilariously dumb Snakes on a Plane. It must be the stupidest film ever, but is also brilliant.

(There should be a YouTube clip here.)

Anyway, Buffy has been very brave, apart from a major stress attack in Boots in Brixton while we were trying to buy onitment, gauze, scissors and tape. Which took three attempts. Brixton High Street must be the most hellish place in London - apart from Oxford Street. Crowds amble along the pavement like extras from Shaun of the Dead and the classiest eaterie is a particularly wino-choked branch of Wetherspoons. I HATE it.

We're going to look at a flat tomorrow. Wish us luck.

Manchester Vibes in the Area

I've got a new friend. His name's Dave. He comes from Greater Manchester and lives in a car in Herne Hill with his wife, who owns a gold ring. I don't know his wife's name.

Friday night, Buffy and I were staggering back from our company sports day (see Sara Sizzle) when a guy came running out of the garage and grabbed us. "I'm not a beggar!" he proclaimed, before proceeding to beg for cash because there was something wrong with the magnetic strip in his car. "I've just got down here from Greater Manchester and my wife's got a gold ring and I just need someone to help me out." I gave him all my loose change and he went away.

"That's the oldest trick in the book," said my worldly girlfriend. "Pretending there's something wrong with your car."

This morning, walking back from the newsagents, someone ran across the road towards me. It was him! "Excuse me, mate. I've just got down here from Greater Manchester and my wife's got a gold ring and I just need someone to help me out..."

"Hang on," I said. "You told me this story the other day and I gave you some money."

He informed that he had been sleeping in his car since then and needed some money for breakfast. Like a fool, I gave him some. And a cigarette!

In return, he gave me a hug.

"You've got a kind heart," he said. "When I make it, I'm going to share my wealth with you."

So I gave him my address.

(Not really.)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

'Astings, mate

I'm feeling much better now, thanks for asking.

This weekend Buffy and I went to visit my hometown of Hastings - or 'Astings Mate, as cousin Martin always calls it, as in "I'm from 'Astings, mate." We stayed with my sister who lives in a massive house on the outskirts of town with her two kids and five pugs. I've never been a massive pug fan, but they are very sweet, except for when they snort saliva in your face. My sister is one of the nicest people on Earth. Both my sisters are, in fact. But I digress.

We slept on a blow-up bed in the attic room. Inflatable beds are great - except when they become deflatable beds. We blew it up at midnight, when we went to bed. Then woke up at two to find ourselves lying on the hard ground. So we inflated it again. Then again at six. And again at nine. I realise we should have got our lazy, slightly-bruised and everso-achy butts out of bed at that time but, hey, it was a Sunday. We need our lie in! Even if it is on a bit of flat rubber.

Buffy got to meet my entire family, then we went into Hastings and I showed her the wonders of the Old Town. I used to be slightly scared when walking around Hastings because so many shadowy figures from my shadowy past live there, but fortunately we avoided any unpleasant meetings. Plus these days I don't give damn anyway.

We went to one of my old stomping grounds, Ye Olde Pumpeee Houseeeee (I might have overdone the Es; half the clientele had, boom boom). We went to a restaurant called Fagins where the menu - and the prices - haven't changed since 1993. Hastings - the town that time, industry and taste forgot. Oh, I don't mean it. Parts of Hastings are lovely. OK, so I've been sitting here for ten minutes trying to think of some examples, but 'Astings Mate will always have a place in my 'eart. Mate.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Buffy and I are poorly. Dizziness, fatigue, aching bones...all that horrible stuff. I was slightly concerned that it might be meningitis, but couldn't find a rash to do the glass test on. Then Buffy suggested that it might be carbon monoxide poisoning after our windows were painted yesterday and we slept with them shut.

But it's probably just a virus.

I had to come home early from work and spent the afternoon in bed. Buffy bravely soldiered on, then came home armed with Lucozade (which I spilled all over the kitchen floor) before we slumped on the sofa and ate comfort food: veggie sausages, Smilies and beans. Followed by coconut cakes, Pringles and Maltesers.

Now I'm too fat to get up. Expect to see me on Jerry Springer soon, being winched out of the flat, clutching a tube of Pringles and drooling.

Yep, I'm delirious. Bedtime. Now.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Reality bites

Today's mission is to find ways of wringing money out of real life magazines. I've already mentioned our Pick Me Up poem (see It works a treat. Perhaps I should expand on Buffy's (and my) growing obsession with real life magazines first...

Every night, before falling asleep, Buffy needs a bedtime story to help her switch her brain off. So she lies with her head on my chest as I tell her a sweet tale about one of the following:

a) A middle-aged divorcee who got laid by a 23-year-old Turk/Tunisian ne'er-do-well on holiday before giving him all her money and watching him run off with a pregnant German;

b) A weedy bloke who is imprisoned in a caravan by his wife and her new lover. With only a goat - whose name has been changedto protect the innocent - to keep him company;

c) A woman who was tortured by her ex-boyfriend/next-door-neighbour/ex-boyfriend who lives next door, lovingly and graphically detailed for vicarious thrills;

d) A family of 'monsters' ie chavs who terrorise the street, revving up their motorbikes and generally murdering each other before inevitably appearing at Leicester Crown Court;

e) A 19-year-old woman who has seven kids who is 'finding it quite hard to cope' so agrees to become a drugs mule then gets caught and slung into a foreign jail (and not even paid for her story);

f) A miserable husband (all husbands in real life magazine world are miserable) who doesn't want his wife to run up massive credit card bills or have any fun, so she sleeps with his friend for revenge (and gets paid for her story);

g) Another middle-aged divorcee who got laid, etc, etc, and has a convenience store named after her.

Among all the fun you'll find top tips - "If your hands are too cold to pull your card out of the ATM why not carry a peg with you" - plus pictures of pets doing 'hilarious' things, toddlers doing even more 'hilarious' things, hubbies washing up in the nude while wearing their girlfriends' knickers, and so much more that if I went on I'd run out of blog space. I particularly enjoy the psychic pages, where someone sends in a picture of a piece of fluff that landed on their sofa and Mystic Mary tells them that it's their guardian angel, named Kevin.

The best thing about these mags is that they pay for everything. So, as I said, we've been trying to think of ways of getting paid . Today, as well as our poem, we've sent in a picture of Buffy with super-frizzy hair, asking for advice on how to get sleek chic hair for a party she's going to; we've taken a picture of the rats' cage and are going to pretend we found it at a boot fair, for the Boot Sale Tales section of Take a Break, and if they print it we'll get £50. I also posed for a 'Hubby in the Nuddy' pic but am too chicken to send it in. It's yours for £50.

I will keep you posted on our attempts to become real life magazine stars. Now we just need to persuade Flake to do something funny... Come on Flake, you can walk across that tightrope while holding a flower in your teeth...

Friday, August 11, 2006

A week in the life

For the last few days, Buffy and I have been battling chronic fatigue - a result of six months of emotional ups and downs - so we've taken today off work. Last night we decided, despite being totally skint, to treat ourselves to a night in a posh hotel, dinner in a veggie curry house and LOADS of booze. It was one of the fun-nest nights ever.

This morning, dried out and headachy, we staggered down Tottenham Court Road and breakfasted at Garfunkels (hmm, classy). The toast didn't have butter on it, which caused a great degree of consternation. Then, when the rather-too-jovial waiter brought some butter, it wouldn't spread. Cue Buffy spending 30 minutes rolling a clump of rock-hard butter across her soggy piece of toast, muttering "I'm gonna spread this butter if it kills me."

Buffy's friend Rachel is staying with us tonight. Like us, Rachel lost a rat this week, Gytha, who died after an operation. I expect she and Syd have met up and have launched celestial rat blogs. Maybe. Muffin and Flake are missing their older sister.

The worst thing that has happened this week is that our landlord has put our flat on the market, breaking our tenancy agreement. So not only will we have to find somewhere else to live, which is a major pain in the ass, coz we love it here, but we're going to have loads of people traipsing through our space. There are 5 of the f*ckers coming tomorrow. He's offered us a paltry amount of compensation which we've turned down; were going to fight for more.

What else happened this week? Ellie, who had been constipated for 5 days, did the biggest poo ever while sitting on my lap. She weighs over 10 pounds now. Well, she did before the poo incident.

I also read a hilarious and supremely entertaining book called Liz Jones's Diary, which is kind of like Bridget Jones but real, crossed with American Psycho, without the gruesome murders. It's like American Psycho because she's as obsessed as Patrick Bateman with beauty products. It's the story of a disintegrating marriage and is v funny and sad and I think buffy must be fed up of listening to me bang on about it.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

he he he

Buffy writes:

Hey, buffy here...

Mark's left his blog logged in on my mac book so felt I should take advantage. Welcome to chicken's roost. It's a hoot.

I feel like i'm in his mind. This is fun.

Mark is running a bath and having a wee simultaneously.

He rocks.

Peace out.

Sara Sizzle


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Jobs for the Boy

The other day, Buffy listed her worst jobs of all time. I feel like I need to do the same. Here, in no particular order, are my worst jobs ever.

1. Kleeneze salesman.

I was 14 and needed some cash for a family holiday. What could be easier than trudging the streets of Hastings putting small catalogues full of essential cleaning products through doors, then going back to collect them a few days later? One woman bought practically everything in the catalogue (paying for my holiday fun). Nobody else bought anything. Including the woman with 100 cats whose house smelled like every Kleeneze product in the world couldn't make it smell of anything other than cat piss.

2. Paper boy

Also when I was very young. For years, I spent every Thursday evening delivering the free paper. I was assigned Hastings' roughest estate. The place where single mums go to smoke crack. Blocks of flats that smelled like the aforementioned cat woman's abode, with rottweilers instead of cats. Every week, I delivered papers - getting one penny for each one - while fearing for my life. The highlight was when a three-year-old called me a f*cking c*nt.

3. Broad bean picker

Summer as a student, standing in a field in the middle of nowhere, on my own, picking broad beans with just a crackly radio for company. I toiled in the fields for days. Then, at the end, the bastard farmer (who lived in shack because his wife had caught him shagging his young female farmhand in the barn) told me that 75% of the beans were "too small" and refused to pay me for them. After working out my wages were 76p an hour, I stomped off. Oh alright, I slouched off. I hate farmers.

3. Child Support Agency maintenance officer

I did this for 5 years after leaving uni. 5 years of being called what that three year old called me on a daily basis. 5 years of ruining people's lives. 5 years of listening to men cry on the phone. What a laugh. Still, we had a subsidised bar. £1 a pint every lunchtime. That's why I stayed for 5 years.

4. Factory worker

I worked in two hellish factories in Hastings, the food-packing capital of SE England, but they all blur into one. Whether standing by a conveyer belt picking out the black cornflakes, or shovelling carrots into pickle vats, or separating the siamese twin jelly babies from the normal ones, there was always one thing you could rely on. Actually make that two. One, it was always mind-meltingly tedious. Two, all the people who worked there were c*nts. Oh how I loved being addressed by my colleagues as 'poof', 'student poof', 'you lazy f*cker' or 'Rambo'. Still, I did wear eyeliner to work, so I guess I asked for it.

5. Connex customer services executive

If I ever hear the words 'leaves on the line' or 'is it beyond the wit of man?' I start to twitch. Then I start to cry. Everybody knows the rail service in the UK is crap. At the CSA, we used to joke that the only job that could be worse would be working for a rail company. So I went to work for a rail company. I can;t really describe what it's like being on the phone all day listening to people rant at you about dead pigeons, rude ticket inspectors ("I'm not racist, but he was black"), blocked up toilets and lost laptops. I feel tense now just writing about it. I need a beer. 'Let the train take the strain? You must be joking!' Aaaaaaaaaargh!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Rat in Peace

Today was a very sad day. Syd, the coolest rat in the world, had to be put to sleep after losing her battle against The Tumours. Syd was 38 months old, which is bloody old for a rat. But dying pets are my weakness so I've spent a lot of today blubbing like a big baby.

At the pet shop, when I got her, all the other rats were huddled in a scaredy heap at the bottom of the cage. But Syd knew there were better things out there. She pushed her way to the top of the cage, stuck her whiskers in the air and declared, "Choose Me!" Syd's favourite things were choc drops, chewing large holes in my best clothes, leaving droppings everywhere she went, climbing clothes horses, playing with her little sister Nancy, weeing on my books and more choc drops. She was endlessly entertaining and naughty. She had rat-titude. She was a punk rat.

Syd's gone to the Rainbow Bridge now to be with Nancy. Bye, Syd. We'll miss you. You rocked.


Saturday, August 05, 2006

While the Chicken's Away...

...Buffy will play.

Don't believe all you read on Sara Sizzle about her spending the day working. She was blogging about working! Only joking sweetheart... Buffy is a workaholic with a perfectionist streak. It's a great quality to have because one day we're going to start our own business and become a Power Couple. The downside is that she allows herself to get overly stressed about her job. I love my job too and spend a lot of time outside office hours thinking about it, but I try not to at weekends. Nobody ever lay on their deathbed wishing they'd put in more hours at the office.

Double trouble: Sara and her twin sister

I feel so loved up at the moment. I have for the past six months. I don't want to get all gushy and gooey on here, but... oh, I can't help it. I'm in a permanent state of feeling like Charlie Brown when he kisses the little red haired girl.

This is despite the fact she's listening to Gareth Gates at the moment. I hope she never thinks she made a stupid mistake.

We're going to have a quiet night in tonight with a takeaway and an assortment of DVDs. We've got The Ring (US version), Cherry Falls, 50 First Dates and the brilliant Ghost World, one of the bestest films ever. After the social whirl of the last few weeks, it's gonna be well lovely. Innit.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Keeping up with the Buffys

My cousin, 'Marv', has told me in a comment on the previous post that I need to blog more to keep up with my 'handful' of a girlfriend. I'm trying, I'm trying! Marv's blog is here. He lives in scary Florida - scary not because of the crocs and Miami vice-style drug dealers, but because of the goddamn hurricanes. Last year I went to Marv's wedding and nearly got blown off the face of the planet. Anyway, check out Marv's world for the latest news...if he hasn't been swept up and blown into a Wizard of Oz-style world. His mum, my Auntie Jo, has started a blog too. But there's nothing on it yet. Come on, Auntie Jo! Keep up!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The write stuff

Woo-hoo! I finished my latest novel today. It's a thriller about viruses called Catch Your Death which I wrote with my friend Louise Voss, an extremely talented novelist. We wrote a book together called Killing Cupid a few years ago, which was optioned by the Beeb. Unfortunately it got stuck in development hell and then we fell out with the producer because they wanted to turn it from a thriller about a stalker into some weird comedy about a single mother. With a different title! CYD is much more commercial, we reckon. Of course, it will probably all go horribly wrong.

Buffy and I had a lovely day yesterday, which you can read about on Sara Sizzle. It was really nice to meet Buffy's friends, one of whom lives in Japan, giving me the chance to talk about a subject that normally sends most people to sleep.

The last ever Top of the Pops is on telly right this second. Like every other pop-picker in his/her thirties, I was weaned on TOTP. I gave up cubs because I didn't want to miss it on Thursday nights. That was in the Adam Ant/Duran Duran/Legs and Co era. I watched it every week for years and years, never missing it. I remember once, at a party when I was in my mid-twenties, proclaiming pompously that when you stopped watching TOTP you were old.

I got old three years ago.

Another sign of being old is that at the gathering yesterday, everyone was going on about MySpace. I just don't get MySpace. I mean, I understand what it's all about, but it just doesn't do anything for me. And I'm not exactly web-phobic. I've been blogging for 4 years. I'm a web development/online marketing manager. I know exactly why Web 2.0 is so great. I just don't like MySpace!

Now, where did I put my slippers?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

It works a treat

I'm starting to fall behind and haven't written about last weekend yet. On Saturday I made one of my thrice-weekly visits to see Ellie, who now weighs 8 lbs 12 oz and is cuter than ever. She smiles now and is able to lift her head a little; I sit and read stories to her and take her for walks in the park. She's lovely.

Sunday, Buffy and I went to help my fellow Nova*-victim Tamara celebrate her 26th birthday in Clissold Park, Stoke Newington. The journey from south to north London felt like the journey from the south to north poles. What is it about hot weather that f*cks up the trains and buses so badly? Heat on the line? Drivers absent due to sunbathing? Is it beyond the wit of man, etc, etc? It was good to see Tamara, though, and there were deer and turtles and toilets just like the ones in Trainspotting. We drank two bottles of wine in about two hours, resulting in us being in the following state:

There's a hole in my memory where the journey home should be, but apparently I disgraced myself by loudly mocking two goths on the bus (being an ex-goth is a bit like being an ex-smoker; we're the biggest critics). Well, one of them was wearing a T-shirt that said 'Dark is my call' which doesn't even makes sense. I also have a vague memory of wandering around Sainsbury's in Brixton holding a tin of boilable veggie hot dogs. Boilable! It's not even a word!

Buffy has already written about our journey home from Bletchley - where we saw that famous code-breaking machine plus some really cool old BBC computers and ZX Spectrums; I didn't know they had them during the war - which was truly epic. We entertained ourselves for 30 minutes by writing a poem. This is part of our get-rich-slowly scheme. Every week, Buffy's fave real life mag, Pick Me Up! publishes a poem sent in by a reader, for which they pay £25. Read this, and you'll see we already have that £25 in the bag. It's written in the voice of a typical PMU reader:

Thursday morning - get kids dressed
Leave the house, feel really stressed
Late for work, the boss is grumpy
This uniform is really frumpy
I hate this shift, it's oh-so-busy
Come five o'clock I feel quite dizzy!
Oh no it's raining, forgot my brolly
At the shops can't find a trolley
Lug my basket down the aisle
The magazine stand makes me smile
When you need a tonic, there's one you can't beat
That's Pick Me Up - it works a treat!

*Nova was the language school in Japan where I 'taught' (in the loosest sense of the word) English for a year.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sara - and England - Sizzles

Buffy has gone into direct competition with me by launching her own blog, Sara Sizzle. I think these blogs need to be read in tandem, so if you want to find out what we got up to last night, go see Buffy's blog. Just remember to come back here. Please. I feel like I'm going to have to raise my game now to keep up. There was a thing in the paper this week about how there are about 7 billion blogs being created every second. I'm quite proud to have carved out my own niche, with a huge audience of four readers. Oh okay, five. I need some promotion, I think. The best way to get people to visit your blog is to put the words 'naked girlfriend' in every post. Naked girlfriend, naked girlfriend. Now let's see my Google rankings soar.

The word of the week has been 'hot'. As in 'it's too hot'. 'I'm hot.' 'Oh god, it's hot hot hot.' 'I'm TOO F***ing hot!!' Soon we'll be watching polar bears basking in the English Channel (like cuter versions of David Walliams) after the ice caps melt, just before we all die in a global environmental apocalypse. I think I might move somewhere colder. Like Mars.

Buffy and are so skint at the moment that money has become a kind of fantasy concept. I need some way of making money and would appreciate your ideas. I'm too old to sell my body - except maybe to take part in some gruesome Bodies art exhibition - and not desperate enough to sell my girlfriend's body. Here are some possibilities:

1. Become a world-class poker player and win millions of pounds on PartyPoker, with a name like Money Mark, or the Royal Flusher. I'll be famous, appearing on Channel 5 at 3am with an audience even bigger than this blog. Problem: I'm shit at poker.

2. Go on Dragon's Den and get that Theo bloke to give me half his fortune to fund my amazing business idea. Problem: So far I've only come up with the idea of selling ice cream to eskimoes and coals to Newcastle.

3. Go on Big Brother (are you spotting a theme here?) and become incredibly famous, then become a Nuts/Zoo girl. Problem: I'm not a girl.

4. Rob a post office.

Next week, I report on what it feels like to share a cell with a tattooed biker who calls me Mary.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Last Waltzer

The Brockwell Park Country Fair came to our part of London this weekend, bringing with it crowds of 120,000 people (we spotted one very minor celeb: Alex Zane from Popworld); some owls (mysteriously difficult to find); large quantities of curried goat; and a posse of slack-jawed troglodytes. Said troglodytes were operating the fairground rides. Clutching £20 pocket money that her dad had just given her, Buffy ran excitedly around looking for a ride to go on. 'Let's go on the waltzers,' I suggested. It seemed like a good idea.

It was all to end in tears

It was fun at first. Round and round we span, the ride attendants, who looked like they'd escaped from The Hills Have Eyes made us spin faster... and faster. Suddenly, it was all going too fast. I was sure we were going to die. I gripped the not-exactly-secure bar while Buffy - who had moments before been proclaiming how much fun this was - cried out that she wanted it to stop. My poor girlfriend's head was pinned back by the force of the waltzer and she couldn't move her neck. I was too busy trying not to die to help her. It finally, mercifully, stopped and we staggered off, feeling like we'd just consumed vast quantities of mind-bending drugs.

Now, 24 hours later, Buffy is not at all well: she's suffering from whiplash, has a sore neck and back and can't breathe properly. I'm considering going to InjuryLawyers4U.

Here's the latest picture of Ellie, who's piling on the ounces and doing really well. Earlier this week, she peed all over me. A truly bonding experience.

Buffy is not the only poorly creature in our flat. Syd, our ancient rat, is on her last legs. And Freckles, our pet leopard, has turned to the fags for comfort. I have photographic evidence of this, but will save it. In the meantime, here's a picture of him snacking on a Rolo. Our last one.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Rock the boat, baby

Last night Buffy and I went to the wedding reception of one of our colleagues, Lillian. It was held on a boat moored on the Albert Embankment. Rock the Boat, they call it.

As the tide rose, water ominously creeping up the sides of the boat, the revellers partied like it was 1979, kickstarting the 'Oops Upside Your Head' revival. A crazy female MC stood on the stairs and bellowed at us, instructing us to enjoy ourselves...

...which we did. We drank enough to sink a battleship, let alone a small barge on the Thames. When Lillian threw the bouquet, I tried my hardest to catch it. Oh well, maybe next time...

Before going out, Buffy and I indulged in one of our favourite pastimes - taking pictures using Buffy's sexy little MacBook. It's so much fun.

We've spent most of today recovering, lounging around in bed till noon, then watching an old episode of Dawson's Creek and a stupid film called Flightplan. We're not going to drink today. We're on a health drive starting today. I'll keep you posted on our success.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Park Life

How to stay cool on a sweaty, sticky, sultry swelterer of a day:

Go to Brockwell Park (loved-up couple central, South London), avoid the lido and head straight for a tree. Drink a bottle of wine, avoiding the advice of the experts - what do they know? Eat dip. Kiss. Lie on your back with your mouth open and get your partner to pour bottled water in, swallowing as much as you can. If you don't drown you'll feel awash with coolness, refreshed as ten.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

New arrivals

After intending to be really really good and keep this blog updated regularly, everything went a bit haywire last week when my ex rang me while I was on my way to work telling me she was in labour. One panicked dash to Crowborough later, I was a father. Ellie, born 2 and a half weeks early, weighed 5 10 and is a tiny little bundle of loveliness. I go to visit her most days and am attempting to instill in her good musical taste by singing Embrace songs to her while changing her nappy. I realise this might not be a great strategy.

Buffy and I have taken possession of the rats: Syd, Muffin and Flake. Syd is about a thousand years old and has tumours that make her look like she's on wheels. Actually, with her front tumour that hangs from her chest and scrapes the floor, she looks like Lea from BB. I've already had to make one dash to the vet this week after Syd got an infected bite.

Muffin, on her first foray into the flat, scarpered behind the fridge and hid there all day. When we pulled out the oven to retrieve her, we discovered that Muffin had made some friends. Dead friends. There were four dead mice under the cooker. Eeeewwwwwww. Times a zillion. I bagged and tagged them while Buffy tried not to puke.

What with all the dashing back and forth between London and Tunbridge Wells, I've hardly seen my lovely girlfriend this week, but last night we went to see a play in Hampstead, which had some of the worst acting ever. We hid around the corner from our violently anti-smoking boss, smoking secretly like teenagers. Then, after some Guinness and wine (which makes you feel fine) we endured the hottest, most crowded tube journey in the history of the universe, before buying some chips from the world's least hygienic chip shop (I bet they have more than four dead mice under their cookers) which were drenched in sugary ketchup. It was a v v fun evening though, and we have all day together today. We're spending it slumped on the sofa going 'I'm tooooo hot.'

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Welcome to the Roost

In a past life, I lived at MarkCity, but now things have changed and to go along with my new start, here is my new blog. If you're an old MarkCity reader, you know what to expect. Me waffling on about my life. I now live in Herne Hill, south London, with my girlfriend, Buffy, and two Macs. I still work in online marketing. I'm still an aspiring novelist, though the only things I've had published recently are articles about online marketing. Dan Brown isn't having any sleepless nights.

Buffy and I just got back from Brixton where we saw Hard Candy, a pleasant tale of castration, paedophilia and torture. The audience laughed a lot. I felt a bit light-headed when we came out. Maybe it brought out my deeply-repressed fear of having my balls chopped off by a psycho teenager.

It's almost unbearably sticky and hot in London right now. I'm not equipped for it. Most evenings, it's all I can do to lift the remote control to put Big Brother on. I was kind-of pleased to see Grace go (great exit; chucking water over her executor) but the entertainment quotient is going to dip now. There are still 9 weeks to go. I'll post my predictions on here later in the week so you can see how horribly wrong I get it.