World of Chig   


Excitement on the doorstep. It's like Christmas at Chig Mansions this morning, with five packages of albums* from Singapore dropping through the letterbox, ordered from BangCD, including the Scissor Sisters' limited edition, hard-to-open-and-even-harder-to-shut-without-creasing-the-booklet-and-poster version of Ta-Dah!/Ta-Dah. (Jonathan's comment was quite right.) But there's also a surprise. I've received an advance copy of a new book, about which I knew nothing at all. It's called Nul Points, written by Tim Moore. He has travelled around, meeting and interviewing all of Eurovision's nul pointers. Yes, even Jemini (Chris, left). It's one of those great ideas for a book which I wish I'd thought of (and done) myself. Damn him.

My first thought was 'do I know Tim Moore?', but I don't think I do. But what's this in the Acknowledgements? "Thanks to...Martin Faulkner". I know him! Well, sort of. We're on the same Eurovision mailing list and we've met at Eurovision a couple of times. I'm intrigued now, so I've asked Martin what he's contributed to the book. I will endeavour to read it ASAP. It's available officially on 5 October. You can see it here on Amazon. Other book sellers are available.

("Customers interested in this title may also be interested in: Your online guide to Stoke-On-Trent." What? Why?)

*For the sake of making a list:
Scissor Sisters - Ta-Dah - limited edition 2CD version.
Justin Timberlake - Futuresex/Lovesounds.
Placebo - Meds - special edition CD/DVD version (because it was worth waiting for it to become ridiculously cheap).
Lordi - The Arockalypse (because I'm seeing them live next month and it seemed rude to only know two of their songs).
Eminem - Curtain Call (because it's free when you order three new albums).

The Kasabian limited edition CD/DVD boxed version of Empire arrived yesterday.

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It's the last day of Summer today, heralding a weekend which is leaving little space in the diary to write anything; Jewish New Year tonight/tomorrow, the first day of Autumn tomorrow and the start of Ramadan either tomorrow or Sunday, depending on which diary you look at and whether you're looking for the moon above your own country or over Mecca.

Tomorrow also sees three of us going to Chig's first Villa game of the season, at home to Charlton, in a rather more optimistic mood than when the same three of us went to the equivalent fixture last year, a 1-0 win for Villa, when it was so cold that my body went into shock afterwards and left me bedridden with 'flu and off work for the whole of the next week. Admittedly the match was on 26 November last year, but the signs aren't good this week either. I've been suffering from sinusitis for the last week, I'm completely knackered all the time and I'm currently on antibiotics, which should make tomorrow's pre- and post-match drinking session fun.

I wonder whether any of this lot, snapped at Brighton Pride last month, will be at the match tomorrow?

Can't see why they would be? Take a closer look at the Charlton tattoo on the central lad's back:

It's been a weird Summer, hasn't it? Or is that just my perception? A hot July, part of which I missed through staying indoors, again due to illness. (Yes, that quiet month on this here blog.) Then a dull August, followed by a brief Indian Summer in September. In the last 48 hours, we've had the extremes here in Birmingham. Yesterday was hot and sunny all over again, and Summer finally exited today with a dramatic mini-monsoon season. All very odd, but probably just a taster of even stranger weather to come in future years.

I've probably been away more weekends this Summer than ever before. I've also taken loads of photos. Loads and loads and loads of photos. More than ever have been published (including my Brighton Pride ones in the current (October) edition of gaytimes), which pleases me a great deal. It seems a shame to let the rest go to waste. It also seems a shame to admit that it's Autumn tomorrow. Summer is always over too quickly for me. Therefore, starting next week, some of my favourite, as yet unseen, photos from my travels this Summer will be featured on here. Ever mindful that one or two people have, on occasion, accused this blog (ergo me) of being shallow - the swines! - we will endeavour to live up down to that expectation, in a series that I think we'll call The Boys Of Summer. My lesbian reader and my heterosexual male reader may like to look away for the next week or so. But in the meantime, bring on the vernal equinox! Bring on the totty!

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Sorry. Couldn't resist. It's David Tennant's turn to trace his family history next week. Presumably, the travelling back in time will be a lot quicker than usual.

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Hello God. Your favourite person in the whole world is back!

Silvia Nott has returned to the media spotlight (in her homeland, at least), with the best on-screen caption since...oh, just watch it!

How soon can I move to Iceland?

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Unless you've been living on the moon, it can't have escaped your attention that the second Scissor Sisters album is released in the UK today. (If you're in the US, you have to wait another week, but then you did ignore their first album, so why should you get preferential treatment now?)

Mike has already done a track-by-track review of the single disc version here. My double disc version is in the post from Hong Kong or wherever it is that BangCD have their warehouse.

Scissor Sisters were all over Radio 1 on Friday, then all over Channel 4 on Saturday and Sunday. Their Red gig on Saturday night in Trafalgar Square looked awesome. So good that I watched it live on Saturday on C4 and then watched the repeat yesterday. (And it surely was live, as the technical breakdown during I Don't Feel Like Dancin' seemed to prove, where a nice picture of the Telecom Tower and some contact details appeared on screen before the signal died completely for a minute or so). I was so jealous I didn't win tickets in our intranet competition at work. (Our company was one of the sponsors.)

I was also impressed by Westminster City Council and the police for allowing not only the fountains to be on when Trafalgar Square was full of people, but people to dance in them as well. (Watch the clip - it's great!) It really added to the atmosphere on this last Saturday of Summer, but it's the kind of thing that you expect to be stamped on by Health & Safety fascists before it even gets started these days, so well done to whoever took that decision. I'm guessing no one died.

Anyway, the real point of this bit is to commiserate the release of the album by showing you (in case you missed it on Popjustice in July) how good the album sleeve could have been, were it not for Scissor Sisters' record company, Universal, cocking up what was originally a brilliant idea for a title.

Mr Popjustice of Popjustice has given Chig his personal permission to reproduce this album sleeve that he did, for which we are extremely grateful. Here's what we should have had today; a title that somes up the theatricality and dramatic flourish of Scissor Sisters perfectly:

Sadly, because record company graphics and marketing people are all seemingly idiots, this is what people are actually getting in the shops:

It has all the theatricality and excitement of a puddle.

We are not alone either. I was delighted to hear Simon Mayo start his Radio 2 album show this evening with a track from this, then say, "That's from the new Scissor Sisters album, Ta-dah, which is a great title, but it should really have an exclamation mark."

Exactly. Simon Mayo, Popjustice, World Of Chig... That's enough people to march on Universal and demand a correction, methinks. Who will join our revolution?

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There is life after Eurovision

...or 'attempts' at Eurovision.

(Yes, it's World Of Chig's inaugural YouTube special!)

Saturdays seem to be Eurovision has-been day on the TV now. How many people noticed the last auditionee on the X-Factor this weekend?

This is Kerry out of Kerry and Do-Re-Mi, who came very close in 1997 to being the funniest and rudest Eurovision entry that the UK has ever had, with their wonderfully stupid 'A Yodel In The Canyon Of Love':

If only Kerry hadn't had the misfortune in the Great British Song Contest (as it was called that year) to come up against one of the strongest entries we've ever had, from Katrina & The Waves, which went on to be the UK's most recent Eurovision winner, Kerry would have been at Eurovision in Dublin. Just look how close it was.

Download or listen to A Yodel In The Canyon Of Love here. This is the whole two minutes and forty seconds, not the abridged version that was available at the time on the Great British Song Contest sampler CD. Cherish its tacky gloriousness now - it won't be here for ever!

It has been claimed by some smutty people that 'A Yodel In The Canyon Of Love' is a euphemism for a sexual act that sounds a bit like an Irish airline. We're far too prudish to mention such dirty things on here. Much was made in 1997 of Kerry being a wheelchair user. As she explained on The X-Factor, she fell out of a tree at the age of 13 and broke her back. Ouch. She's now 31 and she has a good voice. She was successful in the audition, so we'll be seeing her again, in the boot camp stage.

One person on a Eurovision mailing list to which I belong declared that it couldn't possibly be the same Kerry, because he'd never seen anyone in a wheelchair in the UK's national final. We clearly have a long way to go in educating people about disability. Does he think that people who use wheelchairs for mobility actually spend all their waking (and sleeping) hours in their wheelchairs? How does he think they wash, sleep and go to the toilet? It doesn't occur to him that a disabled singer might actually be able to shuffle into a different chair for a TV appearance. That's why the phrase 'confined to a wheelchair' makes me shudder. No one is confined to a wheelchair. A friend of mine who uses a wheelchair for mobility and is only around three feet tall due to being born with brittle bones, actually drives a car. Rant over. Anyway, wasn't I talking about Eurovision?

Ah yes.

Kerry's appearance is nothing compared to last Saturday, when I saw not one, not two, but three other people with Eurovision links on my telly. The boyband Avenue's story was all over the tabloids last weekend, as they'd broken the rules by having a management deal already. The situation is even more complicated than that. They're now saying that they've left the management company, but it's not clear whether or not they made it to boot camp, or if we will see them again. It'lll be a shame if we don't, because the main singer in the group is one Mr Jamie Tinkler, most recently in the charts as a quarter of Pete Waterman's three-hit-wonders Pop! This once led Jamie to share his chips backstage with me after one of their PAs at the Nightingale, which I'm sure was one of the highlights of his career. He was lovely (and so were the chips), so I'd like to see him have more success. He's now in trouble himself though, as he apparently had a solo deal too, with Simon Cowell, of all people! Watch Simon's face as Avenue walk into the audition, and then notice that he says, "I don't get it" after they sing. It all makes sense now...

Before he was in Pop!, Jamie was, like Kerry, also one of our Eurovision contenders. In 2002 he was an entrant, under the name Level Best, in the penultimate A Song For Europe, with a song called Every Step Of The Way. He, like the other two acts, was trounced by the vocal brilliance (and post-Pop Idol fame) of Jessica Garlick. He came a poor third, but never mind. Ironically, Jamie also made the last 50 of Pop Idol. It will be interesting to see if Avenue grace our screens again. In the meantime, here are some pictures of Jamie:

L-R: Jamie in 2004, taken from his (seemingly now defunct) own website, playing a charity football match, on a Pop! CD cover and with the rest of the group. (Ah, there he is! Bleedin' MySpace, of course!)

Now then, the links continue. The other bloke in Pop! with Jamie was of course Glenn Ball, who this year danced with the Turkish entry Sibel Tuzun at Eurovision:

Here's a pic I took in Athens of the 'Turkish' dancers, who were actually all British-based:

Glenn is on the right, and the guy next to him is Arthur, who now appears as one of the dancing waiters in the superb new Basement Jaxx video, Hush Boy. Here it is. There are very clear shots of Arthur at 01:45 and 02:05.

Also last Saturday, on How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? (but not in last night's final, which won me about four pounds - well done Connie), was dancer David. He was one of Russia's British dancers at Eurovision 2000, famously referred to as 'big girls' blouses' by Wogan. Quite rightly, as it turned out, but that's where this line of discussion has to end, for legal reasons.

So, Eurovision, or trying for Eurovision, needn't necessarily mean the end of your career!

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Maria? Or a million?

My money's on Connie (quite literally). The odds on her are so short though that it was hardly worth bothering. It seems obvious to most people that she's the best Maria. Good luck Connie!

Someone wins a million quid on WWTBAM? tonight as well. Or at least they start to - they finish the job in next week's show. The million pound question, concerning a big man, a gong and lots of films, was so EASY that I could have answered it without even seeing the options. Dumbing down anyone?

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Chig is unable to write anything meaningful today, due to being traumatised by watching the end of the Hollyoaks omnibus three times this weekend. (Thank goodness for E4, E4+1 and T4 on C4.)

HOW MANY DEAD? Nooooooooooooooo!

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Pop quiz!

Okay pop kids, who the hell are these two, enjoying a lovely Chig sandwich in Cardiff? Answers in the comments box please...

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It was 60 years ago today...

...that a musical legend was born in a foreign land. But enough of Loudon Wainwright III, except to say that I hope you bought Daddy a card, Rufus and Martha.

Also born that day was one Farrokh Bulsara, destined to become the most famous person ever to come from Zanzibar, even if some killjoys there now want to spoil the Freddie Mercury party.

Two coincidences on Freddie's birthday:

The Mercury Music Prize is decided tonight. Despite sharing his name and being instigated the year after Freddie died, it's actually nothing to do with him, but still named after the phone company which sponsored it originally. This despite the fact that Mercury became one2one, and was then swallowed up by a very big German company, to become the company where I now spend my working days. I find it very odd that the Music Prize still bears the name of a sponsor that doesn't exist, in conjunction with its new sponsor, so it's currently the Nationwide Mercury Music Prize. Anyway, Richard Hawley's my tip, but what do I know?

Far more importantly, is it just coincidence that BBC One is showing Panorama on Freddie's birthday, about Jill Dando's murder and the conviction of Barry George, AKA Barry Bulsara? (He used to claim he was Freddie Mercury's cousin, hence the assumed name.) I'm so pleased that the BBC is drawing more attention to George's case, at long last. After following his trial, I was stunned that he was found guilty and I remain convinced that the wrong person was convicted of Dando's murder. Even without the forensic evidence that's due to be revealed in tonight's programme, there didn't seem to be any reason for convicting Barry George at the time, and I remember The Independent being similarly bemused and suggesting that this could be one of the most dreadful miscarriages of justice in legal history. It's bad enough that an innocent man may be in jail, but what it also means it that Dando's murderer may still be at large and we're no nearer knowing who it was. Let's see what the programme reveals.

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I'm off to Cardiff!

Another weekend, another country, as Chig’s ‘three festivals in three countries on three consecutive weekends’ tour comes to an end. Edinburgh Festival two weekends ago and Manchester Pride last weekend were both superb. So let’s ask my showbiz wife, Nicki French, on stage four days ago in Manchester, how many weekends are left in this Summer’s UK Pride/Mardi Gras calendar?

That’s right Nicki, just the one. Which means it must be time to see you again tomorrow, for the second time in a week, this time at the [deep breath] Lesbiaid a Hoywon Caerdydd – Cymru 2006. Or the Cardiff-Wales Mardi Gras, rounding off the Summer season. Luckily, the gay rugby tournament is on again tomorrow (10am, Blackweir Park). Unluckily, the weather forecast is for rain. Luckily, that's what the weather forecast was for last weekend in Manchester, and it was mainly wrong, so let's just see.

Hang on a minute. I've just taken a closer look at my gay Wales badge. Look what it says around the edge:

Wales is, apparently, ‘not suitable for small children’. Who knew?

So, see you from tonight until Monday in Cardiff...but don’t bring the kids.

Now then, where the hell am I going to watch tomorrow's England v. Andorra match, in gay Wales?

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The fourth stage of the Tour Of Britain cycle race finished at Millennium Point here in Birmingham today. They managed to make Wolverhampton to Birmingham a journey of 90+ miles, which took three hours. It would have been much quicker on the bus, but not as scenic. As the finish line was ten minutes from my house, I popped along.

Sadly, the people responsible for Birmingham's road signs seemed to think the tour was taking place in 'Brittain', wherever that is:

Here's today's stage winner, Frederik Willems from Belgium, as he crossed the finish line:

This is the overall leader, Denmark's Martin Pedersen, after being presented with the yellow jersey:

Highlights of the Tour Of Britain so far are on Grandstand on BBC Two on Sunday (and on the BBC Sport website) from 14:30, followed by live coverage of the finish. I doubt if you'll see me, as I was standing on a wall, almost inside a tree.

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