World of Chig   

Busy, busy, busy

I've been off work for two days after a bizarre 'getting washing out of the washing machine' accident, in which I bent down awkwardly and felt a sharp pain in my back as I pulled a muscle. (One of my friends, who lives with his parents, said, "That's why I don't do my own washing." Wise words indeed.)

There are lots of things happening today and tomorrow:

The 10th anniversary of Diana's death and the memorial service in London.
- See my diary below.

The ending of the football transfer window at midnight.
- If Villa don't buy some decent players today, I will be very cross indeed, as we can't survive until January with the current, depleted squad.

My friend Eduardo's 32nd birthday.
- ¡Feliz cumpleaños Edu!

The Mr Gay UK final in Blackpool (and Doctor Who turning on the illuminations beforehand).
- The Birmingham twink seems to have disappeared from the list, so we won't be winning it for the fourth year (effectively) in a row. (We wouldn't if he were still in it anyway.)
- We're not overly impressed with this year's bunch, to be honest, but we'll go with Mr Blackpool to win it on home turf. Mr. Nottingham's not too bad, but it has to be said; where's the beef?

The Big Brother final.
- Bumbling Brian must win, not the dopey twins. And will Davina reveal the washing machine in the garden? How stupid are they all going to feel, after handwashing for 94 days?

However, I'll be missing all these, because I'm off to Cardiff for the Mardi Gras. A meal tonight with gay rugby players from various parts of Europe. I may get drunk and speak to the French ones. Oh, gay French rugby players. Be still my beating heart!

Tomorrow, an international gay rugby tournament on the castle fields, hosted by the Cardiff Lions, with me in attendance as official photographer. It's bigger than before, with 9 or ten teams, and includes women's teams for the first time.

Then the Mardi Gras event itself tomorrow afternoon and who knows what on Saturday night and Sunday? I probably won't even be watching the first ever Eurovision Dance Contest tomorrow night, hosted by the BBC (and Graham Norton) from London. With Brendan and Camilla as our imported entrants (from New Zealand and Denmark respectively), we might even have a chance of winning. Half of Austria's entry is British too, so vote for them. She's from Liverpool.

Must dash. Cardiff, here we come! Have a great weekend. Vote Brian!

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Diana - the unseen Chig diaries

After a fierce bidding war with the Daily Express, World of Chig has secured the exclusive rights to the first ever excerpts from Chig’s diaries to be published. No one has ever read these words before.

Before I reveal what I wrote in my diary, ten years ago today, when Diana died, some context is necessary. I was already having the worst time of my life, feeling anxious, depressed and helpless, because three days previously, at 8am on Thursday 28th August 1997, I had received a phone call from my sister, telling me that our Dad had suffered a heart attack. He was a on a bowls tour of Northern Ireland at the time, so we couldn’t just rush off to see him straight away and we were agonising over what to do. Unbelievably, Dad had actually had the heart attack a few days earlier, on the coach journey from the Midlands up to the ferry for Northern Ireland. I had no idea before then that anyone could have a heart attack without realising, but apparently it’s not uncommon. As early treatment is crucial after MIs (to give them their medical name), it was a miracle that Dad was still alive, but we weren’t sure at all what the prognosis was for the next few days, and if or when we would see him again.

On top of all that uncertainty, I was also being tormented by some kind of skin irritation or infestation, possibly scabies caused by mites or fleas from the carpet of my new house, the first I had owned, which I had moved into just a month before. (The previous owners had a cat and left a carpetful of fleas behind in the lounge.) It wasn’t a comfortable time, physically or emotionally.

On the Saturday night, I had gone to bed just after 1am and written my diary in bed, as usual. The car crash in Paris was just about to happen as I wrote this first entry. I then wrote another entry at lunchtime and a third one later that night. I think they give an interesting insight into what was going through my mind that day, even if some of it seems a bit daft now.

Sunday 31st August 1997 1.16am

It’s very hard not to think about Dad all the time that I’m not feeling mites (or whatever they are) on my face and ankles.


[My sister] spoke to Dad today. I didn’t. She said he was very solemn, and they’ve told him the heart attack was ‘bad’. Lucy [a friend of mine from Northern Ireland, living here in Birmingham] advised flying and hiring a car, when I went round to Deb’s this evening.

Sunday 31st August 1997 (again) 1.00pm

Princess Diana is dead. Along with Dodi Al-Fayed and a Ritz chauffeur, she was in a car crash in Paris and died at 3am British time (4am Paris time) from heart attacks in hospital, after two hours of medical attention.

I got up at 11.03 to come down and watch Hollyoaks. I noticed that the Archbishop of Canterbury was on BBC1 and BBC2, and though the Queen Mum had died. Then there was a shot of a wrecked car in Paris and the news that it was Diana.

As if to add to the misery, it’s raining heavily here, although not in London, where flowers are piling up at Buckingham and Kensington Palaces. Pleasingly, the BBC reporter there has said that lots of gay men are turning up because of her support for AIDS charities.

I rang [my sister] – she and [her partner] didn’t know, and we wondered if it was a bomb, but it was a pursuit with the paparazzi on motorbikes, crashing in the tunnel. Dodi was pronounced dead at the scene.

Poor Charles had to tell William and Harry. There’s uncertainty over whether she’ll have a state funeral. I don’t think the nation will forgive the Windsors if they don’t allow one.

Tony Blair’s comments moved me, and Earl Spencer, her brother, said he “always believed the press would kill her,” but didn’t expect that they would “take such a direct hand in her death”. Strong words indeed.

There’s solemn music in Radio 1, all BBC programmes suspended for continuous news. How considerate that they’ve just mentioned that Eastenders will be shown next Sunday. I was wondering.

In the midst of all this, I also rang Mum and left an answerphone message. [My sister] says she’s with [a friend] from Cambridge, out walking somewhere. I rang Dad at the hospital but they were busy and he had to ring me back. Our conversation ran out when his money did, but he didn’t complain that I told him [my sister] and I were going out there, with one of us accompanying him back. I wish it were easier to talk to him, but the payphone doesn’t have a number.

There’s a heavy atmosphere of gloom. It’s even dark now. I was going to go into work, or to Ikea, but I don’t think I’ll bother now. This is a uniquely depressing day.

I can’t help thinking that Diana lived her life like a film script, and it has ended in tragedy, and romance like a story by her step-grandmother, Barbara Cartland. No one would have been happy with an ending written like this.

Even Tom Cruise is on now, talking about the press harassment. She was the most photographed woman in the world. I would guess only Michael Jackson is more famous. No other person has so much attention paid to them. It’s an unnecessary tragedy.

Sunday 31st August 1997 (yet again) 11.56pm

Three diary entries in one day – and what a sombre, miserable, grey day it has been. All day I’ve been thinking we’ll wake up tomorrow and the Diana story won’t be true. At the same time, I’m worried about Dad. I only got to speak to him for about a minute, long enough to say we were going over, earlier today. I’m petrified of flying there, regardless of any other fears.

It has been a “horrible” day, as David Dimbleby said at the end of another tear-inducing tribute tonight. Radio 1 is still playing the same rotation of quite nice easy listening tunes. The only one I know is Sylvian & Sakamoto’s ‘Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence’. It seems to crop up every hour. Oh, and Enigma too. People were saying on TV tonight that because the press (albeit the mercenary paparazzi) killed Diana, we shouldn’t buy tomorrow’s papers. It’ll be hard not to. Of course, no one knows if the chauffeur had a heart attack, skidded on oil, etc., but the photographers chasing them have been condemned already by the self-righteous TV journalists, as Bob Geldof pointed out.

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Ten years on

It's what Diana would have wanted... 09011 21 22 16

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Astonishing Big Brother clip

No wonder Ziggy was unhappy with the quiz on Sunday. The bits they showed in the highlights programme were bad enough. Here's a bit they didn't show:

While we're here, shall we declare the final order for Big Brother now? Why wait for Friday?

6th Carole
5th Jonty
4th Ziggy
3rd Liam
2nd Brian
1st Samanda (The twins)

I can live with any of the others winning, but not the twins. Why? Why? Why? What do people see in them? I can't even understand a word they say, most of the time.

Vote for Mr Entertainment! Vote for Mr Grateful! Vote Brian!

09011 21 22 16

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Olawale Mohammed Brian Belo to win!

09011 21 22 16

Don't let the useless twins snatch it away. Brian must win Big Brother!

09011 21 22 16

...and only seven days left for the housemates to find the washing machine.

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They're on Maltese TV again!

My Brum chums the Schlagerboys are touring Malta, funded by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office*, to thank the country for the UK's 12 points in Eurovision this year (which the boys themselves achieved). It was Russ Scooch's idea, the day after Eurovision, to reward Malta by UKers going there on holiday. The Schlagerboys have taken him at his word. They are doing this by investing heavily in the island's economy (vodka bars) and clearing dancefloors with their overly expressive fan-dance routines. (I heartily recommend reading about their week. It's hilarious.)

They've been stalking Chiara and Olivia Lewis, leaving gigs early for reasons best known to themselves and even been recognised, following their appearance on Maltese programme Xarabank, which was live from Helsinki in May. I just love this bit from their blog, about Chiara's hotel gig:

We finally got “Angel” at about 11:00. There was a fab bit when the Maltese family on the table next to us joined us in singing the chorus. The man said “Eurovision Chiara!” and we said something like “We love Chiara. We love Maltese Eurovision songs”, to which the woman replied “We know; we watched you on Xarabank!”
How utterly fabulous! Boys, you are national heroes! In both countries!

Tonight, they're live on Maltese TV show Pjazz! We can watch it here at 20:30 CET (or 20:40), just before watching annoying Tracey and dull Kara-Louise being evicted from Big Brother. Hurrah!

* The funding bit's not true, but it damn well should be.

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Occasionally in life, one has to make sacrifices in order to help a friend in need. So on Friday, when I received a call from my friend at The Nightingale Club, saying that they needed someone to come and photograph some real life firefighters who would be wrestling in oil on stage on Saturday night, I selflessly shelved my plans for the night, which involved a pizza and my television, and agreed to help them out. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it, and it was for charity. While I was there, we decided I might as well photograph their Wet'n'Wild competition afterwards, which is basically an amateur strip competition with the added gimmick of a shower on stage (with real, wet water). It's a cross I was prepared to bear.

So, last night, I forced myself to take 971 photos, of scenes like this:

And then this. He won the Wet'n'Wild competition (easily and deservedly):

Later on, some of the punters forced themselves in front of my camera lens, snatched a business card off me and made me put their number into my mobile. Like him:

More of the photos will be coming soon to a magazine near you (if you live in the Midlands) and The Nightingale's website. This photography thing is a tough gig, but I'm learning to cope with it.

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Welcome to Dermot day

Is he taking over our media? Do we care one iota? No.

Today's schedule:

16:30-18:30 BBC Radio 2. The Dermot O'Leary Show.

19:40-20:40 ITV1. The X Factor. (First programme of the new series, with Dermot hosting at the auditions.)

20:30-21:15 BBC1. The National Lottery - 1 vs 100. (Dermot overlaps himself. Also the first in a new series.)

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The best single and album sleeves of the year?

Sob, sob, hurrah!

The self-proclaimed "most best-known Greek in the UK" is back on the streets.

No, it's Gerasimos Vallerio Stergiopoulos. Gerry and Carole were conclusive proof tonight, by getting the most votes this week, that it's the last 48 hours which dictate who gets evicted from Big Brother. It doesn't matter how good you've been for the last eleven weeks (and Gerry has been my favourite since he entered the house), but if the editing of the Thursday highlights programme makes you look like an arse, you're out. In that respect, Carole and Gerry only have themselves to blame, as last night's programme was all about food, the shopping list, Carole crying and Gerry being argumentative.

It's a damn shame he's out, on only 24% of the vote. (Carole had 49%, and has caused the housemates to have a basic food budget next week, and yet she stays. It's so unfair.) I haven't felt this gutted about a BB eviction for four years, since this night, four years ago, when the lovely Scott left BB4.

Look out gay London - Gerry's back on the market! (Just in time for Soho Pride on Sunday!)

UPDATE: My favourite single camera shot of this whole series so far was the shot of Gerry dancing and looking up at the camera, with his hair greyed for the soap opera task. He looked so happy. It was a brilliant shot. But tonight, they didn't even show it in his best bits! Shocking.


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Elvis Presley died here far as I'm concerned.

This week in 1977, we were on a family holiday, staying in one of the fixed caravans in this picture. (They may well be the very same ones. I don't know how old the photo is.) It's Treyarnon Bay Camping & Caravan Park, near Padstow in Cornwall. Long before anyone had heard of Rick Stein, I think we had two family holidays there in the '70s.

On Wednesday 17th August 1977, I was up early as it was gloriously sunny, and it was my turn to toddle off to the campsite shop, probably for milk and a newspaper. (I can't bring myself to tell you what 'news'paper my parents bought in the seventies, but I feel I should point out that they are not fascists, despite this.)

At the campsite shop, I somehow found out that Elvis Presley had died the day before. (I think the news only reached the UK in the early hours of the 17th. I've heard the 7am BBC Radio announcement from that day replayed on BBC Radio 2 today.) I think it was too late to be in the paper that I must have bought, but I must have heard people talking about it. I then had to go back and tell my parents, who were still in bed in the caravan. This was BIG news. I think the fact that, thirty years later, I still remember some details from that morning, tells you what a big story it was. We then put on the radio and had the news confirmed. I'm not saying it ruined the holiday - I was only eleven after all - but that's all I really remember of that 1977 trip.

The thing that strikes me now about Presley's death is that, to me as an eleven year-old (looking like that, in this photo), Presley already seemed old hat and...well, just old. Obviously he had piled on the pounds and he was a figure of yesteryear, in my eyes. I had mainly seen him in his films, which I seem to remember were on TV in the mornings in the Summer holidays. (That's the only time I have ever seen any of them.) I was far too young to have realised that Presley's 'Jailhouse Rock' includes one of the most blatantly gay lyrics to ever hit the music charts. But it really hit home this week that Elvis died at the grand old age of 42, and here am I at 41. That's really scary.

Where were you when you heard that Elvis had died?
(One my colleagues said, "In my Dad's ball bag" when I asked him this today, which was a blatant lie, as he is 31 next month.)

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Happy India Day!

It's nice to see the Big Brother housemates (unknowingly) getting into the Indian theme of today's anniversary by dressing as swamis. (I did warn you that the India coverage here today might be tenuous, and so it is, but here's a picture from the BBC.)

Which brings us to the Big Question of today: has Gerry blown it? Will he be out on Friday? I think he's undone all of his good works of the last eleven weeks by turning into a moody moaner and admitting to the housemates, because of the lie detector, that he has lied about his age. (We knew from the start that he was 31 but only admitting to 29.) But will it be Jonty and Kara-Louise who get the most eviction votes and then face the gurus to decide who goes? Somehow, I think not. The public won't actively vote to evict the less interesting latecomers. I think they'll go for Gerry.

78 days gone and only 16 days left for them to find the washing machine. The manufacturers who donated it must be furious at the lack of exposure.

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Happy 60th Birthday, Pakistan!

As we have one person of Pakistani descent in our office and one of Indian descent, with the two countries' big anniversaries coming up today and tomorrow, Chig playfully suggested last week that it might be a good idea if said colleagues each brought in some food as a celebration. This was a blatant attempt to have some good, authentically ethnic nosh for free in the office, but it was hailed as a good idea all round.

A shame then that my colleague of Pakistani descent forgot all about it and only realised this morning that it was Pakistan's 60th birthday. Also a shame that my colleague of Indian descent has taken tomorrow (the official 60th anniversary of India's independence and partition) as holiday.

Still, I did have a curry tonight. Does that count as marking the occasion? It was in the unlikely location of a corporate box at the ground of our third best local football team, shortly before watching them (West Bromwich Albion) beat Bournemouth AFC 1-0 in the third round of the Carling Cup. It was a dull game, in which neither team really seemed to be trying until the last ten minutes, but the goal was one of the best placed, nearly-impossible efforts I've ever seen.

So, why was I in a corporate box for free, being fed, watching two teams I care little about, on a Tuesday evening? All will be revealed at the weekend, when I'll be back there...

In the meantime, we'll be back with something irrelevant to India's big day tomorrow, and on Thursday we'll be asking where you were exactly 30 years ago, when Elvis Presley died. Like it or not, Chig will reveal where he was. It's not that interesting and won't take very long, but these morbid anniversaries are there to be 'celebrated' and Elvis does have two singles out this week. And a lovely box.

Pakistan photo from BBC News website.

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Chig's showbiz friend Philip Olivier (see above photo for conclusive proof) has hit the news today. Some story about him and a house and a court case. Here then is a picture of him. In a house. Probably not the same house, admittedly, but it is, undeniably, Phil in a house. Unless it's a set, constructed for TV.

Topical, that's us.

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Tragedies? We got 'em....

The Premier League season has started and Aston Villa swung into action on Saturday embarrassing own goal and a defeat at home to Liverpool. Start as you mean to go on lads, why don't you?

After one match for each team, Villa sit at 14th in the almost meaningless Premier League table, helped largely by alphabetical order. (Fulham, Middlesbrough and Wigan are 15th, 16th and 17th respectively, although they all lost 2-1, like Villa.)

Enough of the real world. Chig has also signed up for the official fantasy league this season. My team is in a league of Eurovision fans. Yes, in a shocking breaking down of stereotypes, there are at least thirty people in the world interested enough in Eurovision and English football to play along. Along with fans in the UK, our league includes people in the USA, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Kazakhstan and (quite possibly) Estonia and Turkey. How fabulous!

Our league, hosted by a guy in the States (thanks Darrell!), is called Salvem el Gol, which gives a nod to Andorra's Eurovision entry from earlier this year. I have named my team Lanto Silva United, in homage to an entrant in Portugal's Festival da Canção in 1966.

Well, that's what I told the Eurovision listers, at least. It may not be true. Can you work out the real inspiration?

After all the weekend's Premier League games were completed, I checked our Salvem el Gol league table, and guess what? Chig's team is proudly sitting somewhere with real Eurovision significance.

Rock bottom.

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Come Outside Off It!

Methinks Wendy Richard is going senile. She's just told Dermot and us BBLB viewers that her Number One single (with Mike Sarne) was at the top for six weeks. In the real world - of 1962 - it was two weeks. Still better than Northern Line, admittedly, but quite an outrageous exaggeration of the truth.

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Chig was saddened to hear, late last night, of the death of Anthony H Wilson, AKA ‘Mr. Manchester’, at the age of 57. It seemed very soon, after his recent announcement that he had kidney cancer (although he has died of a heart attack while receiving treatment). One of my colleagues also lost his sister to cancer yesterday, so there were two reminders in one day of what an unforgiving condition it is.

I would have liked to meet Tony Wilson. I think we could have talked about music for hours on end. Someone I have met (once, on a train) is Stuart Maconie, who was clearly upset at Wilson’s death, judging by his voice and his comments on his Radio2 show today, which he opened with Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. I had a lot of respect for Wilson and always found him immensely watchable on TV. He was opinionated and often slightly smug, but I liked him anyway because he had interesting views on music and the arts and was a real music enthusiast. He had probably earned the right to be arrogant anyway, by bringing us Joy Division, New Order and the Happy Mondays, so I think we can forgive him.

Never mind those groups though. I owe Tony Wilson a huge debt of thanks for the Haçienda. The six or seven nights I spent there, all but one of them at the legendary monthly Flesh nights, were the most exhilarating and happiest club nights of my life. Sadly, I know they will never be bettered, but the memories are still there. Flesh at the Haçienda was so good – and on a Wednesday, of all nights – that I used to take Wednesdays and Thursdays off work once a month to make my pilgrimage to Manchester and meet up with a bunch of studenty friends, who I had met out clubbing in Manchester in the first place. One of them was one of the lost loves of my life. (Lost to the evil clutches of heterosexuality and marriage, although it didn’t stop hi…oh, let’s not even go there. I’m getting all wistful and nostalgic, but that’s why I have such happy, warm and fuzzy memories of clubbing at the Haçienda.)

Flesh at ‘the Haç’ (as we used to call it) wasn’t just a club, it was an adventure, differently themed every month, at a time when one of The Verve’s later songs most definitely didn’t apply. I loved it. Bless you Mr Wilson for building the Haçienda in the first place, and for giving it a Factory Records catalogue number, FAC51, as if it were one of your record releases.

I guess it’s about time I watched my 24 Hour Party People DVD for the first time, isn’t it?

* Haçienda photo courtesy the CerysmaticFactory.
* Flesh flyers photo courtesy BBC Manchester.

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08/08/08 @ 8pm

The next Olympics start in exactly one year. Hurrah! It's just a pity they're going to be in China...

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En vacances

Brighton, here we come!

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