Monday, March 28, 2011
Studentbeans are offering a free VIP Upgrade to Beach Break Live for all students when you buy 4 or more tickets.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Teaching Expertise is a new site for teachers. I recommend it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006
I've moved. My new blog is here:

Come on over...

Sunday, January 22, 2006
I had my first driving lesson yesterday morning, and it pretty much passed without incident. OK, at one point I mounted the kerb, but didn't kill any kids or cats, and I kept getting the brake and accelerator mixed up. But apart from that, it was cool. It felt surreal actually being in control of a car. Well, dual control. The instructor said that I have good clutch control but poor steering. I'm trying to work out if this is some kind of metaphor. My next lesson is Wednesday morning, before work. Hopefully by summer I'll be cruising up and down Hastings seafront, top down, blasting out anthems with the other boy racers. Or rather, I'll be carting a baby and about a million nappies around.

I'm very excited because the Arctic Monkeys album is out tomorrow. Even though I've got 6 or 7 of the tracks already, thanks to their online generosity, I can't wait. I've also just bought tickets to go and see the almighty Morrissey at the London Palladium in May. Morrissey is the closest thing we have to a living deity. Perhaps we could call the baby Morrissey. I just suggested this to Butter and she didn't look too horrified.

I'm writing this on my new iBook, as paid for by the insurance company. It's a thing of beauty. I'm slightly paranoid about the burglars coming back and want to carry it with me everywhere. Hopefully the burglars don't read this blog.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

We got our new camera today - 6, count 'em, megapixels - so to celebrate here's a pic of me with my new short hair. I can't work out if it makes me look old. It's the first new hairstyle I've had in years. Have ditched my glasses for contacts too. It's an official Mark makeover.

My first driving lesson is on Tuesday. I was shaking just making the appointment. Butter keeps trying to tell me interesting things like how to indicate on roundabouts, during which I zone out and think of other stuff like Celebrity Big Brother. Why was everyone so horrible to poor Jodie Marsh? Should I throw away my old Dead or Alive records? Was George Galloway pretending to be a cat the most cringesome thing ever ever ever?

Yep. It was.

Saturday, January 07, 2006
So I promised you a big New Year announcement, and here it is: Butter is pregnant. Yep, the Butterbird is expecting a Butterchick. We had the 13-week scan this week, which was quite frankly mind-blowing - you could see it's arms and legs and heart beating and everything. It's weird, because Butter isn't showing at all yet and hasn't had any morning sickness so it's hard to believe, even after the scan, that there's anything in there.

The most common question I've been asked when telling people is 'Was it planned?' Yes, it was. It just happened a lot faster than I thought. About a month. Nice to know I wasn't wasting all that money I spent on condoms through the years. The baby is due on July 10th, one day after the World Cup Final, so I've warned Butter that she's not allowed to give birth on the 9th (which means she probably well) and that if England win the baby is going to be called Rooney. Or Roonetta. Luckily Butter never listens to me.

Anyway, it's all very exciting and scary and daunting and I've already had a few sleepless nights, getting into practice for later this year. I'm also planning to learn to drive, which is also very scary. Perhaps even scarier for the drivers of Tunbridge Wells than for me. So expect lots of tales of comedy driving lesson mishaps and antenatal adventures over the next few months.

Monday, December 26, 2005
I'm stuck at home on my own and am going insane with boredom, even though Buffy is on. I realise that I must come across as a bit of a sad billy-no-mates. Poor thing - his girlfriend goes away for a few days and he has no one to go out with. The thing is, everyone else has gone away too. It's just me and the rats. And Buffy. Unfortunately, despite some of my favourite and most thought-through fantasies, Buffy is not actually my friend.

Christmas Eve evening, while I was sat watching the entire second series of Peep Show on DVD, Syd got into the bedroom and started rifling through the Xmas presents. Or rather, chewing through. I had bought my grandad a box of diabetic chocolates and some hankies. Classic old person presents. Syd found the chocolates, ripped the wrapping paper off, gnawed into the box and ate an entire choc. She also chewed the hankie box. So poor grandad got no present this year. I didn't think he'd want an incomplete box of chocolates. Ah, twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring apart for a rat.

Saturday, December 24, 2005
It'll be lonely this Christmas - in fact, it already is. Butter has gone to see her family in Yorkshire leaving me alone. I was supposed to go with her but have had to stay at home to look after the house. Here's why:

We came home on Monday to find that someone had scaled our garden fence, taken the hacksaw out of the shed and sawed a hole in the back door around the cat flap. It must have been kids, unless it was a professional burglar taking part in 'bring your kid to work day', because the hole was too small even for a skinny git like me to get through.

They made off with my Apple iBook, the digital camera, Gameboy and a load of DVDs. The eMac was unplugged, and they took the mouse, bizarrely, but luckily it weighs more than Jordan's first kid, ie too heavy to make a quick getaway with. If they took the eMac I would be screwed because my whole life is on this computer: pictures, music, everything I've written, all my emails. Oh, OK, not my whole life, but it would have been disastrous. The other stroke of luck is that we're insured. Actually, that's not luck - it's called being sensible.

The insurance co are going to replace the door but can't do it till the new year because the suppliers are shut for Christmas. So I didn't want to leave the house with a hole in the door for 3 days, with a sign outside saying, 'Burglars - help yourselves!' and before you ask, yes, we've boarded the hole up but it's hardly the most secure piece of board in the world.

I'm going to spend Xmas day at my sister's now, which will be nice, but it means I have to go another few days without Butter. I'll be waking up on Christmas morning alone. Is this the saddest story you've ever heard, or am I being melodramatic.

Whatever, I hope my MarkCity readers have a wonderful Christmas. I'll have some big news to impart in the new year. Yep, really big.

Happy Christmas
Mark x

Sunday, December 11, 2005
I'm home alone because Butter has gallivanted off to Houston on a business trip. I hate being at home on my own; I go a bit crazy when I'm stuck in the house with no-one to talk to. Unused to keeping quiet I start gibbering away to myself, or the rats, and spend endless hours surfing the web and feeling my life essence being sucked into the screen. Fortunately I have two work night outs to enjoy this week, including our Xmas party. I must not drink too much. I must not... oh I probably will. I drank quite a lot at Butter's work party and nearly fell over several times. Debbie and I were the first people on the dancefloor, but the DJ sucked. Butter and I snuck off early because her company has paid for us to stay in a suite. Posh.

I have a pile of presents here waiting to be wrapped. Good old Amazon. Apart from grandad's pressie, this year I bought everything from Amazon. Damn, should have got them to wrap it all as well.

I went to a fantastic photography exhibition this week: Nobuyoshi Araki at the Barbican. Hundreds of photos, many of them borderline pornographic but mixed with some fantastic images of Tokyo. I think I irritated my friends by saying, 'Ooh, I've been there' and going on about Japan for the umpteenth time.

Have you heard the new Katie Melua single? It's an atrocity. She's taken one of the giddiest, most brilliant pop songs of all time, 'Just Like Heaven', and sucked all the joy and life out of it. It's horrific and she deserves to be punished. Speaking of dodgy pop songs, my prediction for Xmas No.1 - and this is not an original prediction - is The JCB Song. No, it has nothing to do with Bob the Builder.

Here's a Christmas Joke:
Q. What is Good King Wenceslas's favourite kind of pizza?
A. Deep pan - crisp and even

Sunday, November 27, 2005
Thanks to the magic of Friends Reunited, I met up with one of my best friends from school on Friday. David - who reads this blog and who featured in the goth photos that appeared on here last year - lives in Melbourne now. I hadn't seen him for 12 years, so I was nervous about meeting up. What if there were long, awkward silences? What if we didn't have anything in common any more? Thankfully it went really well and it's a shame he's going back to Oz tomorrow.

Only four weeks to Christmas. My God. The effort of buying presents and being jolly is just too much. We're going to be spending Xmas in Yorkshire this year. Butter's Grandma rang today and said, 'Don't bring them rats with you.' Poor little unwelcome creatures. I've bought tickets to see Edward Scissorhands at Sadler's Wells as a treat for Butter. Yes, another Matthew Bourne ballet. What have I let myself in for?

Sunday, November 13, 2005
We've just had a rat photo session which wasn't very successful due to excessive wriggling. No, not me: Muffin and Flake. They just won't sit still. Here's what we got, anyway. The solo pics are of Flake, who is a lot braver than Muffin.

I'm becoming increasingly obsessed with the X Factor this year. Last night, a terrible travesty of justice occurred when Louis 'Son of Satan' Walsh sent home the very sexy Maria over the very sexless Conway Sisters. The Conways sang 'Hold On' by Wilson Philips, which is apt because both groups contained a fat girl who stood at the back. My favourite this year is Chico, a lonely goat-herder who can't sing but sure can move. He claims to have bedded over 100 women - hey, it's quality not quantity that counts, Chico - but is a strict Muslim who wants to marry a virgin. After the X Factor finished, I watched The Simon Cowell Story. Yes, it was a Saturday night. I should repeat that. While the rest of the world was out having fun, I was sat at home watching The Simon Cowell Story on ITV2.

My excuse is that I was recovering from the previous weekend's revelries, when a triple-whammy of late nights marked my 35th birthday. Thursday night I got very drunk with my 'London' friends in a pub called The Slaughtered Lamb; then on Friday, Butter took me to the v posh Hotel du Vin for a slap-up binge; and on Saturday we went with Richard and Debbie to the Bowlplex, which was empty, and we ended up being the only 4 people left in the place, with the dancefloor to ourselves. We got the DJ to play various indie hits and went ker-azy. It was a fun end to a fantastic trio of days.

Sunday, October 30, 2005
I've just uploaded our holiday pictures.

South Beach

The Everglades

Hurricane Wilma

In more exciting news, we got two new rat girls today! We got them from a rat rescue place in Surrey. One is pure white, and the other is silver fawn. The woman who was fostering them has called them Podgemuffin and Pooflake. We're trying to decide whether to change their names to Fred and Wilma, after the hurricane and continuing our tradition of rats with sexually-ambiguous names. But it's quite hard to get out of the habit of calling them Podge and Poof. Syd is meeting them right now and seems quite excited to have two new friends.

Photos will, of course, follow.

Friday, October 28, 2005
Uuurgh.. jetlag. I'm in that weird half-dead state that comes from being awake for 24 hours, most of that time sat in an airport or on a plane. We just went to pick Syd up. She's looking very perky. We're thinking of getting a couple of little sisters for her. Watch this space.

Holiday snaps will appear here during the next couple of days, when I've gathered the energy.

It's good to be back though. In the land of boring weather.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005
We survived Wilma! The highlight was when the hotel window blew in and the power died. We've been without electricity for over 24 hours (last night was surreal; we sat in the hotel lobby with a couple of candles eating Pringles and drinking tepid Budweiser) but the power has just come back. Miami isn't devastated - just badly damaged. Trees lie in the road along with traffic lights. Shop windows are gone. Crazed people roam and all the shops are shut. It's post-apocalyptic, man.

At the moment, the airports are closed but we're hoping everything will be back to normal by Thursday when we're due to fly back. We're now waiting for the restaurants to open so we can get some hot food. Oh, and it's cold outside. Not England cold, but not sunbathing weather.