Monday, 31 October 2011


My run tonight was much quicker than of late with a pace of 5'17" over 4.35 km in 23'02". And as I ran around the Bay tonight I saw two kids dressed up as bats for Halloween. They were ringing a doorbell but there was no answer. They looked a little confused, glancing back to the gate where their mum stood in a Puffa style jacket, smoking and talking on her mobile. In a competition for the most frightening, she'd've beaten the kids every time.

We never had halloween when I was a kid. We were too busy; either collecting wood for our bonfire for Guy Fawkes night or trying to set light to other kids' bonfires. Of course, we'd heard of Halloween and knew what it was but we didn't mark it in any way.

It seems that over the last 30 to 40 years it's grown in popularity here; a US import of the 80s along with Dallas and Dynasty. A pagan festival adopted by the early church and preserved in Catholic heartlands, it first took a grip in America when the Irish and Scots émigrés took it over with them in the 19th Century.

It has now become embedded and commercialised (inevitably) here with whole families dressed up in the cheap, supermarket bought costumes of assorted ghouls and witches. Out for a mid afternoon stroll, replete with halloween themed sweets, cakes and biscuits, Mum, Dad and the kids can be seen in MacDonalds or BHS - zombied out with their made up ashen faces, sunken eyes and weeping sores.

At the other end of the spectrum you have the nearest Saturday to Halloween populated by hoards of revellers hell bent on getting rat arsed and dressed up as something but, it often seems, nothing Halloween related. Santas, Elvises, Village People, Smurfs and the odd slutty nurse seem to be the order of the day - although what they've got in common with Halloween, who knows?

My one attempt to celebrate it a couple of years ago (pictured above) was the result of much vodka, lots of eye make-up, a long black fur coat and excruciatingly painful snake-eyed contact lenses.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

I mean to have you even if it must be burglary...

I've been a little at odds today; thrown completely by the clocks going back. I've not known what the time was because my internal clock has been at odds with every clock I've seen; whether they've been displaying GMT or BST. This finally resolved itself with darkness setting in a whole hour early and me accepting that winter is close upon us.

Close it may be but you'd never guess by this afternoon's sunshine. I spent it cycling around Cardiff Bay in the good weather this penultimate day of October delivered. After yesterday's hangover, it was good to get a little active and enjoy being out. Who'd've believed it; a shorts and sunglasses day on October 30th - unseasonable indeed.

I went for a swim this afternoon for the first time in a while. The pool was quite empty and set at its full 50m length and so my swim felt quite serene. In the late afternoon I watched Withnail & I. I'd seen much of it before; years ago when it first came out but I think I was drunk when I saw it then and ended up falling asleep. It was good to borrow the DVD and get a second chance at it.

I've never really liked Richard E Grant as an actor, although I can't help but be impressed by his performance as Withnail. I don't think he's an easy actor to like. Richard Griffiths as Uncle Monty is quite brilliant and a delight to watch. Everything I've ever seen him do has been quite wonderful; one of those actors you can never get enough of.

And Paul McGann as Marwood delivers the most understated performance in the film but quietly, perhaps, the best. Is it just me or is he quite handsome as Marwood? He's certainly got the phwoar factor. I would! Indeed, he still looks good in later publicity shots. I feel like I'm turning into Uncle Monty... "I mean to have you even if it must be burglary."

Saturday, 29 October 2011


I went out with some friends from work last night and today I have a hangover. What seemed like a good idea last night has resulted in a bit of a sorry day today. Hangovers are apparently caused by dehydration of the brain and an irritation of the stomach lining.

Potential hangover cures include:
Fruit juice
Hair of the dog
Pickle juice
Fried breakfast
Spicy food
Vitamin B
Ginger tea
If only I could summon the energy to opt for one of them...

Friday, 28 October 2011

How gay does that sound..?

What is it that makes some men sound camp? Delving beyond the stereotypical weak R, lisp or high pitched squeal, what exactly is it that denotes a somewhat less than butch voice?

Compare the voices of the following gay men: Kenneth Williams, Frankie Howard, John Inman, Julian Clary, Graham Norton, Dale Winton and Boy George. Although they're all very different voices, there's no mistaking them as anything other than camp sounding. Of course all the above mentioned are performers and their voices are manufactured to a certain degree. Nevertheless, they portray a truth, albeit an amplified and distorted truth, refracted rather than reflected.

What makes a voice sound camp? Is it an over enunciation, an elongation of certain vowel sounds, a pervading sibilance or a languid louchness in pronounciation? Could it be where the voice is produced from? I think that certain voices which originate at the back of the throat as opposed to the gut sound more camp. This is a technique that Julian Clary employs and was also used by (for those of you who remember) Danny La Rue. Could it be a musicality of tone that's the distinguishing factor? Frankie Howard and John Inman displayed this trait; their voices soared and swooped through octaves from one pitch to another. Graham Norton emphasises the musicality of his vocal delivery in a similar fashion.

Accent and dialect play a part. In themselves they are neither camp nor butch but in conjunction with other vocal effects they can accentuate campness. Paul O'Grady used this to great effect in his creation of Lily Savage. Sometimes campness can be found in someone trying to change their accent. In Peter Nichols play, Privates On Parade, he describes Terri's accent as, "Shaftsbury Avenue pasted over Lancashire". Similarly Boy George's voice betrays his aspirations to a more refined image, likewise Dale Winton.

Kenneth Williams was the master of all these techniques; accent manipulation, monumental pitch bending shifts and grotesque vowel elongation to the point of completely distorting everything he said. Yet he kept his homosexuality under wraps. Or so he thought. How could he be anything other than queer with a voice like that?

Of course, not all gay men speak with camp voices. And equally, not all straight men enjoy a furniture rumbling, bass, butch timbre. Listen to Little Britain creators, Matt Lucas and David Walliams in interview and it is heterosexual Walliams who sounds camp and not homosexual Lucas.

Could it be that these subtle vocal clues are some of the elements our subconscience tunes into when we first meet someone? When we talk about gaydar we usually refer to visual clues but surely the aural clues should not be underestimated?

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Variations on a theme...

As you know (if you're more than an occasional visitor to this blog), it is during my run every night that I process my day; where I file things away, discard those things that I know are of no use and cogitate on the expreiences I've had and the decisions I've made. I think I've said before that it is my segue into settling down for the night. It's my way of drawing a line under the day. I often think of things on my run that invariably find their way into this blog.

Tonight was an exception. My run seemed to whizz by before I'd had the chance to think of anything. I certainly did not whizz by; judging by my pityful average pace of 5'45"/km over 4.29 km in 24'42" I did anything but whizz by. And whatever had occupied my mind during the run had escaped into the ether by the time I finished. What could I blog about tonight? There wasn't an original thought in my head. I had writer's block.

In 1820 Niccolo Paganini published 24 Caprices for violin. The last, Caprice No 24, has captivated audiences and composers ever since. Franz Liszt based his Grandes Études de Paganini on it, Brahms' Paganini Variations, Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Lloyd Webber's Variations were also based on it. Other composers from Schumann to Rochberg have all written variations on it.

Clearly there is nothing wrong with developing someone else's original idea. In his book Impro, Keith Johnstone explores spontaneity, making the point that the more effort actors put into trying to be original the less spontaneous and truthful they become. "An artist who is inspired is being obvious. He's not making any decisions, he's not weighing one idea against another. He's accepting his first thoughts."

Mozart said of his ideas, "Why my productions take from my hand that particular form and style that makes them Mozartish, and different from the works of other composers, is probably owing to the same cause which renders my nose so large or so aquiline, or in short, makes it Mozart's, and different from those of other people. For I really do not study or aim at any originality."

And so it is with writing; very often the best writing flows like a stream of consciousness. The transfer from thought to written page seems effortless. Is writers' block no more than censorship? Do we not jettison certain thoughts bacause they are too obvious as we strive to be more original? Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, author and literary critic, argued that there are only 7 basic plots, everything else is a variation upon them. If this is so then originality was sated a long time a go. Why bother to force feed it any more?

The blogoshere does not so much depend upon original ideas but upon the repetition, extension and development of ideas or memes. And as those memes spread via linkage from website to website so they develop and grow. Our blog culture is enriched not by a few original ideas but by their development and the variations that spring from them, in much the same way that our culture has been greatly enriched by all the variations based upon Paganini's Caprice No 24, especially Rachmaninov's quite brilliant Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Here come the planes...

I had one song stuck in my head tonight as I ran:  O Superman by Laurie Anderson from her ground breaking album, Big Science. Don't ask me why; I don't think I've heard it anywhere recently. But round and round it went like a mantra in my head to the beat of my feet pounding the pavement. It didn't help my run tonight; in fact, I ran at a slower pace than last night. But then, it's hard to run at full tilt whilst singing Laurie Anderson songs; all that panting doesn't help. I ran 4.23 km in 23'51" at an average pace of 5'38"/km. Certainly no superman...

I know that this has been written about before but has anybody listened to the lyrics of O Superman? I mean, really listened? They're a little inpenetrable and, if you're anything like me, they probably don't mean very much to you. That is until I mention 9/11.  I'm no conspiracy theorist but I was a smidge unnerved by how prophetic they are regarding 9/11 and the subsequent fallout. Listen again with 9/11 in mind.
O Superman. O Judge. O Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad. O Superman. O Judge. O Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad.
Hi. I'm not home right now. But if you want to leave a message, just start talking at the sound of the tone.
Hello? This is your Mother. Are you there? Are you coming home? Hello? Is anybody home?
Well, you don't know me, but I know you. And I've got a message to give to you.
Here come the planes.
So you better get ready. Ready to go. You can come as you are, but pay as you go. Pay as you go.
And I said: OK. Who is this really?
And the voice said: This is the hand, the hand that takes. This is the hand, the hand that takes.
This is the hand, the hand that takes.
Here come the planes. They're American planes. Made in America. Smoking or non-smoking?
And the voice said: Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
Cause when love is gone, there's always justice.
And when justive is gone, there's always force.
And when force is gone, there's always Mom.
Hi Mom!
So hold me, Mom, in your long arms.
So hold me, Mom, in your long arms. In your automatic arms. Your electronic arms. In your arms.
So hold me, Mom, in your long arms. Your petrochemical arms. Your military arms. In your electronic arms.
The track was released as a single in the UK in 1981; that's 20 years before the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. At first, it seems strange and not a little disturbing to see now how well it describes the events of 9/11 and our reaction to those events. However, I think it's a false connection to use it as a prophecy.

Personally, I think it's a beautiful song. I well remember buying the single when it first came out and subsequently the album. I also think that it was truly ahead of its time - but only in a musical sense. I think its references to 9/11 when held up to the light are, at best, coincidence. It's easy to colour match, in retrospect, such vague and tantalising lyrics.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Fear and hatred...

Well, I heeded last night's advice and left my running jacket at home for tonight's run, only to get soaked to the skin by the downpours of rain and the spray from traffic on the roads. To be honest, I quite liked it; that blissful feeling of feedom, of madness and of joy knowing that you can't get any wetter. I'd like to take this opportunity to personally thank the driver of the tanker who took such pleasure in driving so close to the gutter over the A4232 bridge across the Bay that he sent a wall of water over everyone he passed (including me). Despite this, I ran 4.01 km in 22'10" at an average pace of 5'31"/km.

We had a conversation in work today about phobias. It got me thinking as I ran tonight. I realised that I don't really have any phobias. Yes, there are many things I'm not too keen on and some things I actively dislike but I don't think anything falls into that special fear and hatred, cold sweat category. I admit that I don't like spiders very much and whilst I don't really want to go anywhere near them, I'm more than capable of brushing them into a mug and throwing them out through the kitchen window.

One colleague admitted to a phobia of whales. She said that she'd had nightmares where she's been swimming and felt something brush past her in the water only to discover that it was a Blue Whale. Another colleague has a phobia of Star-nosed Moles. I didn't know what a Star-nosed Mole was until he explained. Not the cuddliest of animals but (said in a Texan accent) "they's all God's creatures". I once worked with a woman who had a phobia of Quavers. Strange. Here's a list of phobias - how many can you tick?

Of course, these phobias are all very silly and inconsequential when compared to the fear and hatred felt and dished out on a casual basis by some people. I read today of the murder on the weekend of Stuart Walker whose partially clothed, beaten and charred remains were found by Strathclyde Police on the weekend. Police are not ruling this out as a homophobic attack. Following the attack, a Jay Miller (pictured, should anyone spot him in the street and wish to discuss his homophobia with him face to face) used Twitter to post a string of homophobic abuse about the attack under the profile @mabsmiller. His tweets included, "Better dead now than infecting people with #Aids," and "Bet when they put you out you was like a frazzle!"

It's frightening to think that fear and hatred to this degree still exists in the UK.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Words of advice...

There are two doctors that I see at the practice I attend; one I get on with really well, the other less so. On my way back from work tonight I got off my bus early and called in at the surgery and, as luck would have it, saw the one I get on with. As I left the surgery, it was getting dark and it started raining quite heavily. This was made worse by the sharp gusts of wind that seemed to splash the rain at me from every angle. I was drenched.

All I could think of on my 1,500m walk home was that this was awful weather to walk home in but perfect running weather. I was so looking forward to a lovely run and enjoying the rainy, windswept, cloudy and dark Autumn evening. Once in, I quickly changed into my running kit and hurtled out the door, eager to enjoy this weather.

Tonight I ran a route I'd not run in years. After crossing Clarence Bridge, I followed the Taff up Taff Embankment and then turned right onto Penarth Road. I followed Penarth Road behind Cardiff Central onto Tresillian Way and across Callaghan Square, then briefly onto Herbert Street before turning right onto Lloyd George Avenue (Boy George Avenue for those in the club). I followed Boy George Avenue back into the Bay and then cut across the Oval Basin and through Mermaid Quay and home. It made a change form the usual route.

I would have done well to contemplate the phrase less haste, more speed before setting off.
  • Jumping over walls and taking shortcuts down dirt tracks on a route you've not run in ages, as you know, isn't advisable in the dark; not with your appalling night vision. Stick to the well lit pavements.
  • Take a note from yesterday: look where you're going rather than at your new Nike+ watch. That way, you might outlive the watch's warranty.
  • You will feel hotter than you think when you're out running. This you know. There is no reason to wear your running jacket just yet.
  • You really shouldn't feel disappointed that your route isn't strewn with new personal bests, especially when it's blowing a gale and, for the most part, in the opposite direction to which you're running.
  • Go for a pee before you set off. Remember that all that jogging about will exaggerate that bursting feeling.
  • If you run with that stupid grin on your face, don't be surprised when people stare at you.
Advice is rarely followed and we seldom learn from experience. I came close to accident and injury so many times tonight; how I didn't trip, slip, fall, overheat or wet myself I don't know. I shall take it as a warning shot from the Baby Jesus.

Tonight, another faultless performance from my Nike+ Sportwatch and another so-so performance from me: I ran 5.08 km in 28'50" at an average pace of 5'40"/km.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

A matter of taste...

And so another beautiful, blustery, bright and bouncy, autumnal day here in Cardiff. Time for another test drive of my new Nike+ Sportwatch. Again, it locked on to the pedometer in no time and within seconds had found those pesky global positioning satellites. It's facinating watching the distance increase and the pace waver as you run. After nearly getting run over by a cyclist, I decided it would be wise to look where I was going rather than at the ever changing display on my watch. And, as I concentrated on the run rather than the running watch, my mind drifted...

Taste accounts for a lot of the decisions we make in life. Taste is a badge we wear with pride; a facet of ourselves we show to the world. I have good taste whilst you have bad taste. Whether that's taste in foods or taste in wine, taste in furniture and decor, taste in music, taste in men or taste in women or taste in both (Rosie Bothways) and, not forgetting, taste in style and the clothes we wear.

When it comes to fashion, Karl Lagerfeld (right), the Chanel designer, thinks one of the biggest mistakes people make is buying clothes that don’t flatter their figure or fit properly. He advises, “Buy what you know works for your body and only buy something if it fits well.” He also emphasises the importance of keeping things simple, “Never underestimate the power of a simple T-shirt, jeans and a jacket. It always looks very chic." Taste is personal and entirely subjective and, as Mr Lagerfeld proves, there's no accounting for it.

Taste is often individual but can also apply to groups of people such as nations and ethnic or religious groups. There is a perception that the Italians have a certain taste, as do the Germans, Spanish and (let's not forget) even us British. We consider Scandanavians to have a taste for pickled fish and good functional design whilst the French to have a taste for molluscs and plush decor.

Imagine meeting a Frenchman who didn't enjoy a plate of escargot! My ex is Danish and (uncharacteristically) he doesn't like pickled fish, whereas I'll happily eat rollmop herring for breakfast (followed by a glass of Gammel Dansk, " make the fish swim"). One thing he and his family did turn me on to was cheese and jam. It doesn't matter what cheese or what jam; they all taste pretty good together - although there are some magic combinations. There can be no finer breakfast than a sweaty brie spread over crusty toasted bread with a liberal spoonful of blueberry jam.

Now, some people turn their noses up when I mention the combination of cheese and jam but, in essence, it's only that age old combination of fat and fruit. Consider pork and apples, duck and oranges, strawberries and cream, rhubarb crumble and custard and, of course, lemon cheesecake. And what do you think cheese and tomato is if it's not fat and fruit?

If there can be no finer breakfast than the combination of cheese and jam, then lunches don't come much better than a bacon and banana sandwich. There's something about the salty crispness of the bacon combined with that soft sweetness of the banana. I've been trying to get Ozzy from the excellent Sandwiched In The City in Cardiff to include this on his menu but no luck yet.

Elvis is reputed to have enjoyed a bacon, banana and peanut butter sandwich but I don't want to die of a heart attack whilst sat on the loo, so I'm gonna skip the peanut butter:
Crispy bacon
Raw spinach or lettuce
Sprinkling of nutmeg
Crusty bread

Combine and eat.
Just shut up and try it.

And my run...? Well, it was enjoyable for the beautiful weather bathing the Bay this afternoon. I did 4.94 km in 26'46" at an average pace of 5'25"/km. It's not gonna win me any prizes but it aint bad.

Saturday, 22 October 2011


I spent most of this morning researching GPS watches and then, this afternoon, went out and bought a Nike+ Sportwatch GPS. I was initially drawn to the Garmin Forerunner 610 but it's a bit pricey and I don't think I need all the features it boasts.

The man at Run and Become in Cardiff, in explaining the Garmin to me, ended up talking me out of the sale: he claimed that the Garmin comes with a pedometer whereas it doesn't (the pedometer will cost you another £60) and he didn't really seem to know much about the features of this watch and, instead of explaining them, kept trying to get me to watch a YouTube video about it. The thing that clinched it for me, however, was his assertion that the Garmin Forerunner 610 was the most advanced watch on the market and could do everything that other GPS watches could do and more. I didn't doubt this assertion but it set the cogs in my mind whirring.

I left the shop a little confused; I'd entered the shop hoping to part with my money and leave with an impressive piece of gadgetry. Instead, I hadn't spent a thing and there was no impressive kit in my bag for me to race home and play with. I said that I'd watch the videos and maybe call back later. After watching a few of the videos about the Garmin on an iPad at the Apple Store, I couldn't help but agree that it probably was the most advanced watch on the market but, "Did I really need to spend just short of £400 for a watch and pedometer when I wouldn't use half of its features?"

The Nike shop in Cardiff isn't far from the Apple Store and so I strolled over to get a closer look at the Nike+ Sportwatch. One of the main things that attracted me to the Nike+ watch was it's design; both the physical design of the watch and the way that its navigation is laid out. It didn't disappoint up close. I don't want a watch that's endlessly configurable but where I have to carry the manual about with me to make it work. I don't want a watch that I have to squint at to see how I'm doing. Undoubtedly the Garmin Forerunner 610 is a great GPS watch but its a bit too feature rich for me. No, the Nike+ has advantages over the Garmin because of its cool styling, its elegant simplicity, the clear and easily legible face and the fact that it comes with a Nike+ pedometer.

When I got home I took it for a test run. It locked onto the Nike+ pedometer easily enough and within 15 seconds had locked on to the GPS satellites. A press of the main button and I was off. I could easily read the face and I was able to navigate through the various displays whilst running. The backlight worked well and the strap was a comfortable fit. I did 3.03 km in 15'21" at an average pace of 5'04"/km. It mapped the run accurately and there were no wild veerings off into the Taff. It felt simple and easy to operate and it uploaded the results to the Nike+ website effortlessly and without some of the niggles reported by some other users. Well... that last point isn't strictly true. When I first connected it to the computer after my run, it wouldn't respond at all but after 10 minutes of cursing I realised that I had the USB plugged in the the wrong way round. Panic over. Duh!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Apocalypse now and then...

Harold Camping, who incorrectly predicted that the world would end last May, has claimed it will now happen today. Camping, 90, stated that Judgement Day would take place on May 21, when Jesus would return to Earth and the righteous would be taken up to Heaven.

He predicted an Apocalypse once before, in 1994, though followers now say that only referred to an intermediary stage. Those earlier predictions having failed, he now claims that today, October 21, will be the actual Apocalypse.

As I ran around the Bay tonight, I had one eye focused on the sky, on the lookout for an old man with grey hair and a full beard shaking his fists at me from a break in the clouds, pointing and then sending a plague of locusts and all manner of catastrophes my way. The clouds didn't part and I didn't see anyone.

After my run I was going to tidy the flat in time for the big bang; I wouldn't want God and a heavenly choir turning up and me embarassed by some cleaning I'd neglected. But then I got to thinking; let's face it, in the first few days after the Apocalypse who out of the survivors is gonna be concentrating on the state of my skirting boards? In the unlikely event that I'm chosen, I think it would be a little churlish for someone to point out a smudge or smear I'd missed on the mirror in the hall. I expect they'd be far too preoccupied with their own rapture.

But then, they do say that cleanliness is next to godliness.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

I woke up screaming...

I tried ever so hard to maintain my running cadence tonight but it wasn't easy. My right leg feels as if it's been put through a mangle. My calf muscle feels as if it's been shredded and my shins feel like they've taken a good kicking. It's been causing me quite some discomfort all day and continues to do so even now. I knew tonight's run was going to be a challenge and, despite a prolonged warm up, a challenge it certainly proved to be.

At about 3:00am this morning I woke screaming. I was beset by the most searing and fearful pain I've felt in a long time. It ripped deep into my calf muscle and scraped and gouged its way along my shin bone. My leg was bent back on itself and I couldn't straighten it. I breathed deeply and forcefully, blowing air out and gasping it back in short gulps. Lights flashed before my eyes as the acidic pain flared, quelled and surged again. I struggled to keep calm and remain still as the spasms of aftershocks sent me into renewed and repeated agony.

Cramps are unpleasant, often painful sensations caused by muscle contraction or over shortening... so says Wikipedia. Cramp, Wiki states, has a number of different causes: hyperflexion, hypoxia, exposure to large changes in temperature, dehydration, or low blood salt. Muscle cramps may also be a symptom or complication of pregnancy, kidney disease, thyroid disease, hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia or hypocalcemia, restless-leg syndrome, varicose veins and multiple sclerosis.

I'm not sure of the reason I suffered with it last night but, judging by how sore it still feels, I'd say that the muscle has been damaged, hence today's discomfort and tonight's difficulty in running.

Anyone want to give me a massage?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Shake ya booty...!

I watched Origins of Us tonight on BBC iPlayer. It's a new 3 part series looking at human evolution with Dr Alice Roberts. Last night's episode looked at our bones and what they tell us about our development from a tree climbing primate to a Savannah dwelling hominid. From the rotation and dorsiflexion of the ankle we can now pinpoint when we ceased to climb trees. From the adjusted angle of the foramen magnum in the base of the skull we can pinpoint when we became bipedal and from the development of a waist and a cranium ridge we can pinpoint when we started to run.

I've written here before that we are born to run and, indeed, this theory was supported in this programme; it seems that our ability to run long distances in pursuit of our quarry was key to our survival as a species. And what is it about having a waist and a cranial ridge that allows us to run? Well, the waist allows us to rotate our bottom half to counter balance the rotation of our top half. This is crucial if you need to run and not fall over within the first few steps. The ridge on the back of our skull allows the attachment of a ligament that stops our head being thrown forward with every footfall; again, essential if you want to run and you need to see where you're going.

I demonstrated my pitiful dorsiflexion, my vertically adjusted foramen magnum and I put my pronounced waist and cranium ridge to the test again tonight with a quick scamper around the Bay. What Dr Alice Roberts won't be able to find in any of the skeletal remains that she unearths is the sense of smug pleasure and smiley joy brought about by even the tiniest of jogs. And if that isn't enough to entice you out, what about the promise of an aesthetically formed gluteus maximus (beautifully sculpted butt to you and me) to boost that smug feeling even more?

Shake ya booty...!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Still going strong...

My concentration on keeping my running cadence bouyant continues. It's not easy to increase your stride rate by 10% or more but certainly not as difficult as I'd originally feared. And tonight, unlike last night, I did it without a whiff of dog shit.

However, as fit and adept at running as I may become, I don't think I'm ever going to be running marathons aged 100. Fauja Singh became the oldest marathon runner by doing just this at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon with a time of eight hours, 25 minutes and 16 seconds. I can't even imagine being alive at that age, nevermind running a bloody marathon.

As we get older, physical exercise becomes a bit of a trade off: our bodies become more suseptable to injury but the benefits of remaining physically active into our old age brings with it a whole host of benefits - both mental and physical.

I don't think I'm alone in expressing doubt as to whether I could run a marathon at his age (or whether I would want to). However, he does put us all to shame with our over indulgence coupled with our sedentry lifestyles. When you think of what he's accomplished, there is no reason why all of us couldn't try a little harder to look after ourselves...?

Monday, 17 October 2011


Throughout tonight's run I continued to build on last week's efforts of ensuring that my running cadence is above that in which I've recently been languishing. My concentration was so focused on this that I stepped in dog shit. Twice. I was not impressed.

It followed me round like a bad smell. At least I imagined being able to smell it. And not every now and then but constantly throughout the rest of the run, despite wildly kicking my legs through the long damp grass in an effort to clean my trainers.

Isn't it lucky to step in dog shit? Or is it lucky when a bird shits on you? I forget. Anyway, I didn't feel very lucky. Were I superstitious, I'd say, "I don't think I'm over the bout of bad luck caused by the last mirror I broke, without adding to my woes through this one." But I'm not superstitious, so I'll shut up.

A week or two ago I broke the mirror door on a cabinet I have in the bathroom, so on the weekend I bought another cabinet. I did try and find out if I could get hold of a new door separately but seemingly not. It was the whole cabinet or nothing. Judging by its weight, this one is a much sturdier model.

Tonight, I got out my hammer action drill (not a euphemism) and I fixed the cabinet to the bathroom wall. After much measuring, a fair bit of vibration and a lot of dust; it looks good, it feels solid and it seems level. More than I could have hoped for, really. I also managed to replace two halogen spotlights with two LED spotlights (green tick in the box) and I got the clock on the microwave working again. If I carry on like this, I'll have built an extension by Thursday.

As for luck, I've yet to be convinced that such a thing exists - despite the dog shit incident. I believe in coincidence, happenstance, serendipity even but not luck. The only effect of me breaking my bathroom cabinet mirror door is that I've been without a mirror door on my bathroom cabinet since I broke it. And for the record, the fates had nothing to do with my treading in dog shit tonight either. That was all down to a diverted focus. Dame Fortune and Lady Luck are best left to romantic fiction and pop songs.

Take it away, Ms Lovich.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

I could taste her Charlie...

I awoke to screaming this morning. The Cardiff Half Marathon passes close(ish) to my flat and the spectators and supporters were out in strength. At least, I hope it was they who were screaming rather than the runners. I had breakfast and two cups of coffee whilst the screaming continued. Eventually, I went out to cheer them on myself.

And why wasn't I out there running with them? Well it's never really appealed. I love running but I think I prefer doing it on my own because it de-stresses me. I enjoy getting lost in my thoughts. I don't think the Cardiff Half Marathon would have the same effect; I'd get a headache from all that awful dayglo lycra.

I went for a swim at lunchtime and Cardiff International Pool was empty and serene (well, the International Pool was); only two other swimmers and all the noisy kids were contained in the leisure pool area next door. It was so wonderful to swim in the calm coolness of an empty 50m pool. I love it when it's empty like today. My only complaint was the woman who must have doused herself in cheap perfume before getting in the water; I could taste her Charlie in the water!

On my way back, I called in at the supermarket and bought some umami paste. Yes, you heard me right; umami! Umami is Japanese for delicious savoury taste. It is the fifth taste after sweetness, sourness, saltiness and bitterness. It was identified in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda. Foods rich in umami include: fish, shellfish, cured meats, mushrooms, ripe tomatoes, spinach, green tea, cheese, shrimp pastes and soy sauce. It's a taste that is unpalatable by itself but has salivating inducing properties when used with other foods.

What I didn't know is that you can buy umami in paste form; delicious savoury taste in handy squirty tubes to add to your cooking to give it that depth of flavour. It's probably a rip off but it did taste nice in my spicy tomato sauce tonight.

And all in the best possible taste...

Saturday, 15 October 2011

A strange day...

After watching Wales narrowly lose to France in this morning's Rugby World Cup semi final, everything felt a bit flat. Undoubtedly, we deserved to win and would have done, had it not been for the harsh decision to send Sam Warburton off early in the first half, thereby reducing the Welsh team to 14 players. I watched the match like an eight year old watches Dr Who: from behind the sofa - too afraid to look at the screen directly.

Cardiff had been so full of hope and anticipation in the lead up to the match. Every other person seemed to be wearing red. There was such an optimistic belief that Wales would make it to the Rugby World Cup final; such a wonderful atmosphere throughout the city. And during the game, it was like Christmas morning; there wasn't a car on the streets.

Afterwards, as everyone tried to reconcile their former belief that we would succeed with the now undeniable knowledge that we had not made it, those red shirts worn by every other person seemed to lose some of their vibrancy. In the centre of Cardiff the fans still spilled out of the bars onto the streets singing the national anthem interspersed with Delilah but all in a minor key.

I went for a quiet swim and later met a friend in town. It all felt a little flat and disappointing. Such a shame, as Wales had played some brilliant rugby both today and throughout the tournament. Play us out Tom...

Friday, 14 October 2011

I've got a little list...

In last night's post I said that I would go to a music shop at lunchtime today and buy a cheap electronic metronome so I could set my running cadence. I forgot. I also meant to pick up my prescription. I forgot. There was another thing I was supposed to do but I'd have to remember what that was before I could say that I'd forgotten it.

Consequently, tonight's run was sans metronome. However, I did run at my new quicker pace and, once again, finished in good time and not in a gasping, purple faced, I'm about to have a heart attack kind of way. And on my way around I felt frustrated at being let down by my shocking memory.

Time was when I didn't need to keep notes, a diary or a list because I remembered everything: from things I needed to do on a daily basis to dentist appointments six months down the line. I remember thinking what a waste when someone bought me a Filofax for my birthday in the 80s, "Why would I need a personal organiser? I can do that myself!"

Those days are long gone and now I have to write everything down or else (quite literally), forget it! There have been reports that physical exercise is related in some way to mental fitness. Physical exercise is key, so it seems, in keeping dementia at bay. Mens sana in corpore sano... and all that jazz. But here I am running like Forrest Gump on acid and my brain has turned to mush.

In his final years, my father's Alzheimers got progressively worse. Some of its effects gave me the fondest memories I have of him. I'm not quite sure what he thought of his Alzheimers but I hope that he died smiling as much as I'm smiling now. There is, so it's said, a genetic element in the cause of this dementia. I guess I'm at an increased risk.

As we get older, things work less well than they once did. Often this is not a measured and uniform process: you go for years at a time with very little change indeed but then you go to bed one night and you wake up an older man. Age is, as my gran used to say, a terrible thing.

And I've just remembered what the third thing I was supposed to do today... make a little list!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Running cadence...

Yesterday, a friend of mine (@tippettsimon) tweeted about adjusting his running cadence. Now when it comes to running, I tend to listen to Simon - he's got quite a bit of experience. And when I read his tweet, I had to Google it to find out what he was tweeting about - what the hell is a running cadence? Once Googled, I realised that by coincidence on Tuesday night's run I had tried the exact same thing. I just didn't know the term running cadence to describe it.

Cadence is defined as the beat or measure of something rhythmic. A running cadence is another term for a stride rate. Elite athletes have a running cadence of 110 (that's 110 left or right footfalls in a minute). Seasoned runners should aim for 90+.

I have often thought that other runners seem to move their legs quicker than mine and so, on last Tuesday night's run, I quickened my pace. Banished was my giraffe like langourous cantor to be replaced by a squirrel like scuttle. I've no idea of the cadence of my giraffe nor, for that matter, the cadence of my squirrel. What I do know is that I consistently ran faster that night and I knocked a good couple of minutes off my run.

I repeated the exercise tonight and, again, I managed to reduce my time. I guess it's obvious; if you move your legs faster then you are going to run faster. What surprises me most is that the energy spent to do so isn't nearly as much as I'd expected. I wasn't gasping for breath as I thought I would be and this made me wonder how lesiurely my runs must have become over the last year or so (none so leisurely as Rob Sloane's runs).

I don't have any fancy pedometers or running watches to measure my running cadence. I have a Polar watch with a stopwatch that I can never switch off and I used to have a Nike+ pedometer but it kept giving inaccurate readings or missing runs. It was infuriating and took a lot of the pleasure out of running. But without such equipment I really have no idea what my running cadence is. I think tomorrow I will go to a music shop at lunchtime and buy a cheap electronic metronome so I can set my running cadence. Look out for the scuttling squirrel around the Bay.

You can read more about running cadences at Marathon Training Tips.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

This way lies madness...

Updating my iPad to iOS 5 is a long and laborious process. Restart ad nauseum. I have now made 7 attempts, of which 2 failed to download the update and 5 have come unstuck over "The iPad could not be restored. An unknown error occured". I have consulted the iTunes: Specific update-and-restore error messages and advanced troubleshooting but to no avail. I've had so many different errors; an error 3200, an error 3014 and I think I saw an error 3002 - bingo anyone?

I have updated iTunes, updated my operating system, unplugged all USB devices, disabled my security and restarted my computer (several times). The only thing I have not done is used my iPad as a frisbee (although I have come very close on several occasions).

I wouldn't say I'm stupid but (quiet at the back please), admittedly, I don't do as well as I might when it comes to navigating the far flung corners of technology and the interweb's myriad technicalities. I have no inner geek. I am now at the point of giving this upgrade an 8th and final try before resorting to physical violence as a revenge and to give myself some long needed relief. Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity was "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".

Don't push me cause I'm close to the edge, I'm trying not to lose my head, ah huh-huh-huh. It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under...

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The men's underpants special edition...

I was pulling on my shorts to go running tonight when I noticed a tear in the in-built underpants. Such a shame as they're one of my favorite pairs of shorts. They'll last for a few runs more but they've had their day. I'll soon have to throw them out or run the risk of chafing or even worse; suffer the indignity of a wardrobe mafunction. I guess I could turn them into dusters like my gran. Anyway, it got me thinking about yesterday's post as I ran.

In yesterday's post, I wrote that after a night on the tiles celebrating my birthday on Sunday I'd spent yesterday "lying on the sofa, watching TV and eating Weetabix, wearing nothing but underpants, flip flops and an old fleece top." And a couple of you picked up on the fact that I'd been lolling about in my underpants. Nobody questioned the flip flops, the fleece top nor the Weetabix but several of you mentioned the underpants.

I must admit that I was a little perplexed because whenever I'm home that is what I wear: flip flops, underpants and a fleece top in the autumn and winter. I know some of you buy sweatpants to lounge about in but, given that I live alone I don't see the point. I should point out that my underpants for lounging around the house are not the underpants that I've worn to work and they're not the underpants that I'd change into were I going out. No. These are underpants that I've bought for the express purpose of lounging about at home. My work underpants are Calvin Kleins whilst my going out underpants are AussieBums. My lounging about underpants are Lonsdales. I would never dream of wearing one of the above sets of underpants on an occasion for which they were not bought.

I once started a facebook group called I Like Walking Around the House in my Underpants... It was a bit of a joke that no-one got (I guess the joke's on me) but, please, feel free to join if, like me, you lounge about at home in your pants.

I've given away far too much personal information in this post but I think we know each other well enough now...

Monday, 10 October 2011

Wearing nothing but underpants, flip flops and an old fleece top...

I went out last night to celebrate my birthday. I drank far too much and danced (loosely speaking) my little legs off. Consequently, today has been a slow day lacking impetus and with no dynamism whatsoever. I wouldn't say that I'm hungover but, let's say, I've seen better days. My proudest achievement thus far today has been to eat my own weight in cereal and to watch 4 episodes of Downton Abbey, bringing me bang up to speed.

I haven't had a day doing nothing in such a long time. I felt guilty initially but I think it's just what I needed: to spend the whole day lying on the sofa, watching TV and eating Weetabix, wearing nothing but underpants, flip flops and an old fleece top.

Such a glamorous life...

Sunday, 9 October 2011

On this day...

On this day in 1962 threats were being traded between the Soviet Union and the United States of America in the run up to the Cuban Missile Crisis, Uganda gained independence from Britain and Telstar by The Tornados was number 1. Oh yeah... and I was born.

Also on this day...

1201: French theologian, Robert de Sorbon born.
1757: Charles X of France born.
1776: A group of Spanish missionaries settled in present-day San Francisco.
1908: Actor, Jaques Tati born.
1936: Actor, Brian Blessed born.
1940: St Pauls bombed but dome is undamaged.
1940: Rock musician, John Lennon born.
1958: Pope Pius XII died.
1958: Rock musician, Eddie Cochrane recorded 'C'Mon Everybody'.
1963: Over 2,000 people were killed in northeast Italy when the Vaiont Dam was overrun by water.
1967: Guerrilla leader, Che Guevara is shot dead in Bolivia.
1969: Rock musician, PJ Harvey born
1974: Oskar Schindler died in Frankfurt, Germany.
1975: Man killed in Picadilly bomb blast.
1985: Actor and director, Orson Welles dies.
1990: McDonald's opens its first restaurant in China in Shenzhen
2007: The Dow Jones industrial average closed at an all-time high of 14,164.53.
2008: The Dow Jones industrials fell below 9,000 for the first time in five years
2009: President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

My inner Imelda Marcos...

Is it wrong to sneak a look up the pool attendant's shorts? For such was the sight that befell my eyes as I clung onto the side of the pool after today's swim. I think it was God rewarding me for cleaning the flat this morning and then bothering to do some physical exercise. Except that I don't believe in God...

After oggling at the pool attendant until I went blind, I went into town and bought a new pair of shoes and a new jacket. I don't need a new jacket and I certainly don't need a new pair of shoes but they looked so irresistible. A pair of ox blood red brogues calling out my name. And so, surrendering to my inner Imelda Marcos, I offered to find them a good home. It would have been cruel not to.

And speaking of Imelda Marcos; has anyone else heard the David Byrne and Fatboy Slim concept album about her life? There are some wonderful songs on it. My favorite is the title track, Here Lies Love, featuring the magnificent Florence Welch.

Friday, 7 October 2011

It's the freakiest show...

You know when you get a song stuck in your head and you can't shift it; that's what happened to me tonight on my run. Round and round it went in my head as I quietly hummed/sang my way through it time and again, much to the bemusement of the people I saw on my run around the Bay.
Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man! Look at those cavemen go
It's the freakiest show
Take a look at the Lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know
He's in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?
Bowie's Life on Mars was one of the first singles I ever bought. Aged eleven, I can remember hearing it for the first time and being totally mesmerised by it and by him. I remember watching him on Top of the Pops and seeing that look of bewilderment on my Dad's face. This only served to heighten my interest in this alien stranded on earth (a role he was to play 3 years later in The Man Who Fell to Earth).

In the 1970s we'd never seen anything like it; the cross dressing, the make-up, the casual admission of bisexuality, the futuristic sounds and the tantalising lyrics. We were entranced.

As for my humming/singing Life On Mars, which was stuck in my head as I ran tonight - I guess it could have been worse; I could've been singing Shaddup You Face.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Nun's the word...

I noticed this morning that Sister Act was scheduled to be screened (yet again) on Film 4 tonight. I love Sister Act. I've seen it countless times but never from the beginning. I'd intended to watch it from the beginning for the first time tonight, however, I got stuck in work and didn't really think about it until I was home, changed and about 5 minutes into my run.

What is it about nuns that I find so funny? The nuns in The Sound of Music are often the butt of jokes. There are other films; serious films that feature nuns which make me smile such as, The Nun's Story, Black Narcissus and The Song of Bernadette. That's without naming the numerous comedy films to feature nuns. In fact, the only nun film that I haven't ended up sniggering at is The Magdalene Sisters; a harrowing experience from beginning to end.

There's an order of nuns called the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. They were founded by gay men in San Fransisco in the 1970s; they use drag and catholic imagery to draw attention to LGBT issues and to raise money for related causes. Often to be seen in an outlandish wimple, complete with full habit and on rollerskates, the order has a structure, including a Mother Inferior, and a number of saints. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence rollerskate but I wonder if real nuns jog?

By the time I returned from my run, Deloris Van Cartier had transformed into Sister Mary Clarence and I'd missed the beginning of Sister Act, yet again. However, as I sat down to eat my dinner they started to sing Oh Maria and as I continued to eat the film played out before me. I finished eating just in time to sing along to I Will Follow Him.

I'm in rapture now...

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A night at the opera...

I'm off to see the WNO's production of Mozart's Don Giovanni tonight. I'm quite looking forward to it. It's on at the WMC in the Bay. I've never seen this opera, despite having played Don Giovanni for the WNO back in 1984.

[Pauses, allowing his audience to digest this.]

In actual fact, I was a drama student in Cardiff at the time and the WNO wanted actors to walk the stage for their technicians to focus the lights etc. The world of opera was so far away from the world of theatre I was used to: in theatre actors were expected to turn up for technical rehearsals whilst opera stars paid actors to do it for them. My abiding memory is running around the the stage in a red shirt, twanging swords sticking out of the rock on the lip of a volcano whilst the director repeatedly bellowed, "Schnell!"

The director's name was Ruth Berghaus, married to Paul Dessau, friend and colleague of Bertolt Brecht and, at one time, director of the Berliner Ensemble. I was studying Epic Theatre and Brechtian techniques at the time, so, to be shouted at by this legend, I felt, was an honour.

The more she shouted, the more I smiled.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Teaching your granny to suck eggs...

A friend of mine, Gareth, has just returned from a week in Berlin (I'm envious). We have a standing joke that I think he'd be very popular with the gay community (whatever that is) because of his bear/cub like looks; he just needs to change his sexuality. On his return from Berlin, he'd bought me some Gummi Bears as a souvenir of his trip - apparently, they originated in Germany. And today I ate far too many of them.

On my run tonight I felt laden with a coagulation of half digested, multi coloured, gelatine lumps in my stomach. It was the revenge of the Gummi Bears. As I ran I was reminded of Hedwig and the Angry Inch because of the Gummi Bears scene between the black US soldier, Luther, and Hansel (later, Hedwig). This is one of my favorite films: a rock musical about an East Berlin transgendered rock singer on a tour of Bilgewater Restaurants in the US; as she tells her life story and persues her ex boyfriend, who has stolen her songs and hit the big time. Hilarious but also quite moving.

The other thing that I thought about on my run was Bearforce1, a group of four gay bears who cover gay dance anthems. Gareth introduced me to these earlier in the year. Again, hilarious (especially when Gareth does his dance).

Talk about teaching your granny to suck eggs...

Monday, 3 October 2011

Why don't you try acting...?

Whilst out running tonight, I spotted my dentist. He was running on the opposite side of the road to me. I waved at him and shouted hello. However, as he got closer, I realised that it wasn't my dentist. To cover my mistake, I smiled like I knew him and shouted over, "How are you?" He just looked perplexed as he ran past me. He's probably sat at home now, feeling guilty and trying to recall where we might know each other from.

My dentist is a keen runner and whenever I see him we always talk about it. Or rather, he talks about it whilst I blink responses back to him, as he's usually elbow deep in my mouth. When I first met him we talked about running and this conversation segued into him mentioning that one of his favorite films is Marathon Man. I pointed out to him that, perhaps, it mightn't be the best of conversations to have before a course of dental treatment, given the torture scenes between Dr Szell and Babe.

I heard a wonderful story about an exchange between Lawrence Olivier (Dr Szell) and Dustin Hoffman (Babe) prior to filming the torture scene. Hoffman, an advocate of method acting arrived on set looking tired and dishevelled. Olivier saw him and said, "Dusty, what's wrong? You look awful." Hoffman explained that he wanted to bring as much realism to this scene as he could and so he told Olivier, "In order to prepare I haven't been to bed, I haven't eaten and I haven't washed." Olivier, looked baffled and simply replied, "Why don't you try acting?"

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Heterosexuals say the funniest things...

If I was religious I'd say that today has been a beautiful gift from God. I'm an atheist so I'll avoid references to bearded men in the sky dishing out rewards and just say, "What an abso-bloody-lutely stunning day!" I've done some cycling and swimming and a good bit of general mooching around in the sunshine.

As I swam this afternoon, I thought about a very recent exchange between me and a straight friend. I commented to him how pleasant this unexpected sunny weather was. His reply was, "Yeah, there's some horny sights to be seen in Cardiff", meaning the amount of female flesh on show. He continued, "Shame there's nothing for you!" I drew breath and then patiently pointed out to him that the warm weather had the same effect on men and that there was quite a bit of male flesh on show too. I assured him that I was being entertained. He thought for a moment, "...Oh yeah, didn't think about that."

I think some straight men sometimes have great difficulty in seeing life from any viewpoint other than the viewpoint of a straight man. It reminds me of when I witnessed a conversation between two work colleagues in my old job, where one guy complained to the other that he didn't like "the sneaky gays who don't tell you they're gay." I questioned what he meant. I was, he tried to reassure me, not one of the sneaky ones, "I actually like you but I can't deal with the ones that don't tell you: sneaky, see; can't stand them." I suggested that the reason they'd not told him might have something to do with the attitude he was now displaying and nothing to do with a sly subterfuge designed to trick him. "What d'you mean...?" was his response.

This same guy once protested to a group of us in the pub that political correctness had gone too far and that the balance had now tipped too much in the opposite direction. As he worked himself into a bit of a froth his argument climaxed with the line, "The world is prejudiced against me now... and all because I'm normal!"

We might have won a couple of battles but winning the war is still a long way off.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

There is Nothing Like a Dame III...

Just this last one then I promise I'll shut up about Maggie Smith. Honest...

Re-reading my previous two posts about Maggie Smith, I notice that I allude in both posts to the fact that she is liked by gay men and that this liking is to be expected. But is this fact; is there any truth in this? Well, if tweets by the gay tweeps are anything to go by, then yes. And of the gay friends I've spoken to, I seem to be the only gayer on the planet who hasn't got Downton mania and missed the series when it was first broadcast.

Let's assume that Dame Maggie does have a sizable gay following. The interesting question for me is, why is that so? What is it about Maggie Smith that a lot of us gay boys like; what has captured our imagination? I think as good a place as any to start looking is in Maggie Smith's own assessment of some of the roles she plays. These are roles such as Lady Hester in Tea with Mussolini, Constance, Countess of Trentham in Gosford Park and Janet Widdington in Ladies in Lavender; roles that Maggie Smith herself refers to as her "gallery of grotesques" - formidable, redoubtable, rather grand, sarcastic and sometimes rude characters.

I think that gay men such as me are drawn to such characters; drag fascinates us with its broad, almost cartoonish and muscular (sometimes vulgar) portrayal of women and how those female characters survive in (what is still) a man's world. Look at Dame Edna, Lily Savage, Divine, RuPaul and Hedwig (from Hedwig and the Angry Inch); all formidable, redoubtable, rather grand, sarcastic and sometimes rude characters. Of course, drag isn't the sole domain of gay men; I think that some women such as Bette Davis, Liza Minelli, Joan Rivers, Bette Midler, Alison Steadman, (even) Dolly Parton and (yes, sometimes) Maggie Smith play that broad, almost cartoonish and muscular (sometimes vulgar) portrayal of women.

What is that fascination about? I think there's an enjoyment in watching a female character have the balls to take men on at their own game and a delight in the elegant and devastating put downs they employ. For me, I think it's about role reversal and flipping the world on its head, where the minority role is given all the best lines. Let's face it, you don't heckle a drag act; not if you want to escape with your dignity intact.