Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Weekend of Two Halves

After a lovely little gig last Wednesday at the Comedy Cafe, I was really looking forward to this weekend at Camden Jongleurs.

I love the venue for all kinds of reasons, and there was an interesting line-up, so I was very very excited about it as I jumped on the bus on Friday evening. Lovely Dan the sound man was there, and its always a treat to see him and my old mates Carey Marx and Andrew Maxwell were on, so it was great to catch up with them. Carey - who did an Edinburgh show two years ago called Marry Me, has gotten himself engaged and Maxwell's only gone and bought himself a house, so there was lots of congratulations flying around.

In addition to those two were Martin Coyote who I haven't seen in years and who is on great form at the moment, and new to me, a comedy magician called Pete Firman who's got some great tricks and a very winning persona.

The audience on Friday night however, were one of the oddest mixes of people in a room I've ever encountered. No matter what I did they never really gelled as an audience, more a collection of distinct little groups.

The layout of the club is not easy for a performer. It goes a long way back and you have to grab the people right back there at the bar if you want to have a good gig, if they don't feel engaged, they begin to talk and it rolls forward like a wave of apathy at best, hatred at worst!

Jongleurs try out new acts here and at Battersea, and in general, they tend to be pretty experienced comedians, who are used to doing 20 minute sets at other clubs, so by the time they get here they are ready to shine. Otherwise it is simply too daunting. I can remember coming to Camden to see shows when I first started and thinking that it was as massive as Wembley, by the time I did my open spot I was comfortable with crowds, and I cracked it.

Friday night's try out didn't have the requisite energy for that spot, and I suspect, didn't have the experience either, and I have to say it was one of the most painful experiences I have ever witnessed. I really felt for the guy, tho opening with a routine "borrowed" from Bill Bailey did him no favours either. I did admire his tenacity tho, he held fast, got some good lines out, and did his time. It's gigs like this that make you examine what it is you're doing, and whether or not you want to carry on doing it.

Friday's highlights for me were Carey and his Teddy Bear - if you haven't seen him recently, do, he's on fire, and Andrew Maxwell's swagger as he demolished the disruptive elements in the crowd and had a blinding set.

Needless to say I wasn't that thrilled about Saturday night, I tend to blame myself when things don't go right, especially when I am the MC, so I spent the day going over what I could've done differently. I decided to dress up a bit, rather than the jeans and smock top combo I'd worn Friday, thinking if I looked more businesslike the audience might behave better. It might sound shallow, but I know it works.

As I walked into the club I could feel a totally different atmosphere in the room, lots of stags and hens, lots of birthday parties and lots of more chilled people out for a really good time. I relaxed immediately, with the right amount of discipline they would be a proper audience by the time I brough the first act on.

As we all congregated in the dressing room, we agreed that Friday's bunch were odd, and that tonight would be better. We were right!

From the minute I walked on, we were off and running for a great night of comedy. The crowd were so up for it. The first half was a dream, Martin and Carey kicked ass and after the break it was time for tonight's try out. An American comic called Erich McElroy, he played it beautifully and went off to a huge cheer. Pete stirred them in all kinds of ways, and Maxwell was just a pleasure to watch. He was less hard hitting than on Friday, cos he didn't need to be, and went off on a tangent that was just soooooo funny and brilliant to watch. It's a delight for me to see someone who really is on top of their game.

So, all in all, 2-0 to us. Yay!


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Theatre Daaaaarling

My quest for stimulating culture continued last night with a trip to the National Theatre to see Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo with my pal Paul. Zoe Wanamaker is in it, and before last night I can't say she provoked any kind of feeling in me. After two and a half hours spent in her company I am smitten!

What a fantastic actress she is, I was totally caught up in the events unfolding onstage, I can honestly say its the first play I've ever seen where I kinda forgot it was a play and just lost myself in it.

Paul had gotten really great seats near the front, which I think helps. Whenever I go to the movies I like to sit close to the front so I feel I am in the movie and having other people's heads in front kinda detracts from that. It's the same at the theatre too I guess.

In the interval we sat on the terrace and looked out over London, all twinkly and magical looking, and both of us took a moment to drink it all in. We are so lucky to live in this city. I first came to London when I was four years old and from that day on, I dreamed of having my own little flat here. Sometimes we take these things for granted. I've lived here for 28 years now, and most days I forget just how amazing the place is, but sitting out there on a warm evening with a great friend, I realised just how lucky I am.

Earlier in the day I'd been for a wicked new haircut, got a bag full of freebies from the Origins counter in Selfridges and slowly walked from Oxford St to the South Bank ... damn, life is good!

Oh yeah and I am four and a half stones lighter than I was in the middle of January!


My Humps!

Good Lord! Alanis Morissette has a sense of humour!!!!!!!!!

Check out her version of Fergie's My Humps!


Monday, April 23, 2007


Sooooo after a fab time at The Funny Side of Covent Garden on Wednesday night, I was up bright and early to get to Leeds on Thursday for a weekend of gigs at Jongleurs.

The train journey was painless enough, and the hotel we stay in up there is (usually) fabulous. I got to my room and was a bit dismayed to see I'd been given what they euphamistically call an 'Access' room. What that means is, a sink at knee level, two emergency cords to pull, and no sodding bathtub!

Turns out that as we get a special rate for our rooms, we also get the rooms they have most trouble renting out. I was informed there were no other rooms available, but when Dave Johns checked in a few hours later he was given a bathtub room, so that was obviously a load of old tosh.

Determined to be positive I decided not to dwell on the fact that my legs continue to remain hairy till I do my next weekend away, and look forward to the gigs. The line up was fantastic, Andy White, Andy Askins and Dave Johns, with me in my comfort zone as MC.

It was great to see everyone again, and the first time I'd spent any real time with Andy White. In fact it was the first time I'd watched him perform, he's fantastic.

The gigs on Thursday and Friday night were pretty good, we all did the business, but they weren't up there in the top 10 of all time Leeds' shows. Saturday night they have two shows and these are usually pretty tough, but not this weekend. We all had a pair of cracking gigs....they were such fun.

The rest of the time was spent shopping, I got a pair of jeans and half a dozen tops from Primark and various other shops for less than £50...being average size is soooooooooo much cheaper! The jeans were only £6!

The journey home yesterday was a classic British railway Sunday trip. For reasons known only to themselves, GNER had decided not to run trains to London, so it was the Midland Mainline Magical Mystery Tour. Towns visited included Sheffield, Leicester, Market Harborough, Bedford and about a trillion others.

Four hours and an aching ass later (aching from the sitting, nothing untoward) I emerged into the bright sunlight of St Pancras.

I was knackered after the trip and the early start - not to mention doing 5 gigs in 4 days! - so I went for a nap at 4.30. Woke up at 5.45 this morning!!!!!!!! The dinner that I had left out to thaw still sitting on the kitchen counter, the washing machine full of the weekend's clothes waiting to be hung up to dry.

I cannot remember the last time I slept that long, but I must've needed it, cos I feel fantastic this morning! And while I wouldn't advocate missing meals, this morning on the scales I have lost the grand total of 60lbs since mid January.

Off to meet Gina for lunch for a massive catch up, aint seen her since December, can't wait!


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Like Err Totally Surreal, Maaaaaan!

So today was another glorious sunny day and where did I spend a huge chunk of it? In a museum of course! I am just such a rebel.

To be fair I walked most of the way there so I got plenty of sun on my skin, and the exhibition I went to see was just awesome.

It was the Surreal Things at the V&A and hats off to the curators for gathering a really comprehensive cross section of works by the main players in the movement.

They've got all the well known pieces from Dali's Mae West Lips sofas and Lobster telephones to Rene Magritte's Portrait of Edward James, from the most amazing frocks by Elsa Schiaparelli to some fabulous pieces by Joan Miro.

There's not a single part of the exhibition that doesn't enthrall and educate. Theres some amazing pieces of furniture by Isamu Noguchi that made me wanna rush out and buy a new couch right away.

There's a fabulous scale model of Frederick Kiesler's gallery from Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century show complete with miniature reproductions of all the artworks.

Perhaps my favourite single piece tho is the one right at the end, Max Ernst's Bed-Cage which I so want in my home now!

The show is on till July, so get yourselves down miss this one would be a crime!


The 34 Stone Teenager Update

Dunno if anyone saw this on BBC3 the other night. It follows the progress of 19 year old Bethany who weighed 34 stones (hence the title). She was given a gastric by-pass in the first programme, and this one follows her progress.

I remember seeing the original programme long before I had a date for my op, and to be honest I learned more about what it would involve from this than I did from any of the doctors!

Instead of the fairytale ending I was expecting, they showed that Bethany was existing on a diet of crisps and cheese and so her weight loss was below target. Finally she and her mum realised that she needed some kind of therapy to help her break the emotional attachment to food, and they found an amazing behavioural therapist who soon got her back on track.

It was inspiring to see her blossom as each pound dropped off. The poor girl's self-esteem was shot to shit, but with the help of this therapist, she began to become aware of her achievments at college, not to mention the amazing 7 stones she's lost already! She's gonna go on to have the life she truly deserves.

I'm 20-odd years older than Bethany, and I know the hell of spending your life struggling with your weight. Even in my advanced years I feel like a whole new world, in fact a whole new life is opening up to me as I can finally imagine laying this burden to rest.

I'm 58lbs lighter than I was in January this year, I'm wearing stuff I haven't been able to fit into for 3 years, and I have more energy than I've had in a long, long time. Anyone reading this, if you qualify for the by-pass....get it! It really does transform your life.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sun is Shining

Mmmmmmm what a glorious morning! The one tree outside my window that wasn't decimated by the tree surgeons a couple of weeks ago has suddenly sprouted a cloak of bright green leaves, all but obscuring the one pidgeon that really really likes sitting on one of the branches and watching me type.

The gigs this weekend were great fun. I was at the Comedy Cafe, which meant I could sleep in my own bed every night - yay - and I was MC'ing for the first time in a while.

Thursday night was very much a 'suits' night with several works outings in the place, but they were good natured rather than rowdy, so it made for an excellent night. In the middle section we had a couple of half spots, Henry Parker and Prince Abi. Both pretty new, and both really promising. I remember my first half spot at the Cafe, it seemed like such a massive space, I was terrified of screwing up!

Friday night was a new thing for me, they do an early show starting at 7.30 rather than 9.0 and I have to say its a great idea. Since my op I have stopped drinking fizzy drinks, so my addiction to Diet Coke has been kicked. In the first few weeks after I stopped, I assumed my lack of energy as the day wore on was down to the tiny amounts of food I was eating. Then I realised it's cos I'm missing out on all the caffine I used to get from the Diet Coke!!!! The result of this is, that I am ready for bed by about 10.30, so on gig nights I have to have a couple of cups of coffee to keep me awake. Doing an early show meant I didn't need that extra kick. God I am getting old!

When I got there on Friday, the club was in semi-darkness. A power cut had wiped out half of "London's trendy Shoreditch" . The house lights worked as did the pumps at the bar and the till, and there was one lone spotlight on the stage. When I went on, half the club was blackness. Bizarrely, it made for an excellent night. Call it the Blitz spirit, or the fact that a huge chunk of the audience couldn't be seen or see each other, but the crowd were just amazing.

The bill was Marc Lucero, Susan Murray and my old mate Tony Hendricks, and one after the other they all just killed. It was another one of those classic nights where it just got better and better as the evening wore on. Fabulous.

By last night the power was back on and while the audience were great, it didn't quite have the extra spark that Friday had. I think this is what keeps us doing comedy. You have this extra special gig and spend the next few gigs chasing that same high. Bit like smoking crack I assume.

To round of a fantastic weekend of gigs tho, Tony - who was on fire this weekend - gave me a lift all the way home, going about a gazillion miles out of his way to do so. I didn't even realised what he was doing, I thought he was taking me to Liverpool St tube, but nope, right to the door bless him.

I've always said that the kindest bunch of people I've ever worked with are comedians, and have a billion and one theories as to why, but I am still touched when a colleague shows me kindness. Blimey, not only am I getting old but sentimentality seems to be creeping in too! Better nip that one in the bud asap!


Thursday, April 12, 2007


I'm officially a sufferer!

Six days after the official opening of the Oxford St Primark and the ensuing riots, I decided things would have settled down a bit in there, so yesterday I made my first pilgrimage.

Boy was I wrong! Big time! It's still Easter Holidays innit? The shop which is huge, was packed to the gills with perhaps the widest cross-section of humanity I have ever witnessed. Gangs of feral children clutching their huge baskets full of 50p necklaces and nasty looking socks, very chic looking fashionistas clutching their Fendi Spy bags close to their bodies as some kind of armour, groups of pilgrims from all over the UK come to pay homage to the great God of bargains, and most tragic of all a gaggle of bemused boyfriends who looked totally shell-shocked at the whole thing.

As an addict myself I can totally understand what drove everyone (apart from the poor boyfriends) to enter Marble Arch's very own Valhalla, the adrenaline rush was amazing! I had this huge grin on my face the whole time I was in there. It was better than a fat, juicy line of coke! Mind you it has been a while since I had one of those so could be my memory playing tricks on me there.

There were some amazing items to be had, the £20 maxi dress I saw several girls trying on there and then in the shop. I was tempted to pick one up myself but realised that should I actually wear it anywhere there was bound to be a gazillion other women in the same thing.

There was an aged leather jacket in light brown for £45 that almost had me, as did the electric blue oversized parka for £15. In the end I resisted them all in favour of a cute little printed cotton top for £6. The queue to pay was huge but even that didn't phase me as it would in any other shop. You know, there's an urban myth that the casinos in Las Vegas pump oxygen into the rooms to keep people alert so that they continue gambling? Well I think Primark are doing the same damn thing! It really does embody everything I hate about shopping, crowds, unable to find your size cos there's no system at all, long queues, urgh! In Primark tho, none of it matters...this is Disneyland for the fashion addict.

Clutching my little brown paper bag and exiting into the bright sunshine, I notice that crash barriers have been erected outside the entrances and really hulky security guards are in place restricting entry. Wow it feels like I was just in the most exclusive club in the world...and I got in on the guest list!

Having sorted out the bank's cock-up with my finances on Tuesday, my wallet was yearning for more exposure, so I dashed off to Uniqlo and bought just about the most unsuitable thing a 46 year old woman can buy - a pair of skinny jeans!!!!!!!

I'm a long way off a size 0 and a long way past 21, both pre-requisites for wearing the aforementioned item, but I was so overwhelmed when I looked at myself in the changing room mirrors that I just had to have em. Not quite the bargain basement price of Primark, they did have a fiver off, so I handed over the cash, reminiscing about the last time I wore jeans this figure hugging. It was 1977 and I was 16 and in those days we called em drainpipes. You couldn't even buy them at that point, but a bit of nifty work with the sewing maching and a pair of flares were quickly adapted. I used to wear em with my red jelly sandals and a shirt of my dad's that I'd dyed shocking pink ... hmmmmm it was the early days of punk and there weren't any shops in Preston that sold anything remotely resembling Seditionaries' stuff. That's my excuse anyway.

Could be that I've just always had dodgy fashion sense tho eh? Oh well at least the little top looks ok. I think I'll wear it for my gig at the Comedy Cafe tonight...just don't tell anyone it came from P*****k ok?

* Post-Primark Stress Disorder


Monday, April 09, 2007


See what I did there? Perhaps I should leave the puns to an expert like the fabulous Tim Vine eh?

Anyway it is still the Easter Bank Holiday, and I've spent the majority of it in Nottingham.

I was at Jongleurs with Miles Crawford, Hal Cruttenden, and Simon B Cotter, and what a strange weekend it was. On Thursday night it wasn't actually Hal but the lovely John Simmit who damn near gave me a heart attack when he came up behind me on the walk down to the gig!

I hadn't worked with Miles in ages and it was fantastic to see him, same goes for Simon who was doing one of his mad 'fly from Canada to UK for three gigs' trips! Now that is dedication! I whinge enough about getting the train from London! Thursday's gig was a bit odd, it was busier than usual, but the audience kinda weren't with us really. No-one died but you never really felt like you'd 'got' them.

Nottingham Jongleurs is on the redeveloped canal site and the hotel we stay in is at the top of a rather steep hill. I can honestly say I've never been lazy enough to take a cab there, but I have taken a cab back as it's uphill on the way home. Now with my newfound knowledge of the benefits of walking, I was looking forward to this weekend because I knew that if I climbed that hill three nights running, it'd be brilliant for me. So Thursday I did it with only a minor amount of breathlessness. I could feel the newly-formed muscles in my legs really working on some of the steep bits, thank god for those squats!

Friday morning I was on a mission, I wanted to hit the shops in a big way. It's somehow easier to have a spree when I am out of town, places are usually less crowded, so I went to the bank to get some cash out only to be told I didn't have any! I got on the phone to India and to cut a very long story short, a huge chunk of money just wasn't in my account!

Being out of town on a Bank Holiday meant there was sod all I could do about it, so I revised my plans and had a go at being a budget girl instead of a splurge girl. Of course, food shopping is easy, there's so little I can eat these days that less than a tenner in M&S covered all my meals for the weekend I needed some toiletries from Boots but had enough reward points to get what I needed without handing over any cash, and the book that I am currently engrossed in meant that I had no need to splash out on magazines.

It was bugging me tho, where had this money gone? I knew I'd paid it in, but unless the receipt was at home somewhere, I had no way of proving it. I spent so much of my early years ducking and diving with my finances, that the thought of not being believed when I am being honest freaks me out.

It played on my mind so much that Friday night's gig was not great. Partly it was the crowd that were there cos nobody else enjoyed it either, but my head was in totally the wrong space. Just goes to show how life can get in the way of art!

By Saturday I had resolved to put it to the back of my mind - thanks Buddha - and went out for a wander. I found Nottingham's branch of Primark and I was in hog heaven! Having heard about the riots at the opening of the new Oxford Street superstore, I was glad to be going to one that hopefully wouldn't have people ripping the clothes and each other to shreds in the hope of getting a bargain.

I only discovered Primark when I lost weight four years ago, and I was hooked. Sadly their clothes aren't exactly generous in their cut so no sooner had I fallen in love than heartbreak ensued as I grew too fat for their stuff. I still wasn't sure if I was small enough to fit into anything, but I went in anyway. Finally I spotted it, a purple smock top for £8. Sounds vile but it isn't. I took a chance and bought it with my now rapidly dwindling funds, then rushed back to the hotel to try it on. Not only did it fit but it was loose! Damn! How fantastic is that?????? My first Primark purchase of the new era!

I'm a simple girl and that's all it took to put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. Consequently, Saturday night's gig was a real cracker! Not just for me, but for Miles, Simon and Hall too. Hal by the way is on top form at the moment, if you see his name in a line up at your local comedy club, go see him, he's on fire!

I did the hill climb all three nights and was handsomely rewarded this morning when I got on the scales. I'd lost 3lbs over the weekend! I'm now 2lbs away from losing 4 stones!!!!!!! I'm also at a weight that three months ago I'd have been more than happy to be at. I'm a big gal but I aint fat no more! I cannot tell you how amazing that feels. Now all I need to do is write some new jokes!


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Harry Potter's Cock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've seen it!!!!!!!!!

As a lady never tells, all I will say is it's perfectly in proportion to the rest of him.

Yep last night I got me a bit more cultcha. Me and my pal Paul went off to the Gielgud Theatre to see Equus, and while I am no Nick de Jongh, I can say it was a thrilling performance.

The scary horses on their Vivienne Westwood-esqe hooves, the minimalist set which worked so brilliantly, the lighting and staging, Richard Griffiths' brilliant performance, all of it worked wonderfully.

I know less about theatre than I do about art and I'll be the first to admit that it was a photo of young Mr Radcliffe on the Holy Moly website that inspired me to get the tickets, but I do know it held me spellbound for the entire time.

Daniel Radcliffe was amazing, even when he had his clothes on, he's a great actor. I've never seen a Harry Potter movie so this was my first experience of him as a performer, and I was definitely impressed.

Mind you it to use a well-known quote, 'You can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her think', after the curtain calls, Paul who knows about these things said 'It was brilliantly directed. My first post-play comment.... 'I think he had a semi on'!

God I am so, so, so wrong!!!!!!!!!!!


Monday, April 02, 2007

Lovin' It

So Friday morning, back in London, the sunshine of Paris a fast fading memory, back to reality.

Since my op I've been getting weighed every morning, which I know you *shouldn't* do, but the fact is we all do it when we're watching our weight. I've been lucky, as the worst that's happened when I get on the scales is that I have simply stayed the same. I've not once gained which is an incredible thing for me.

I was a bit apprehensive tho cos while I was away I did eat more than I've done in the last few weeks. Needn't have worried tho, I lost four whole pounds in the three days I was away! Just goes to show that walking is the best exercise ever.

My gigs this weekend were at Reading Jongleurs, and again I was doing sets, this almost feels like not working at all. The bill was fantastic, Al Barrie, Dan Evans who I haven't seen in ages, and The Raymond and Mr Timkins Revue, who are the brothers I never had.

Both nights I had really wonderful gigs, the only mild blot on the landscape is that I am in some kinda wardrobe hell. I'm too small for the clothes I was wearing two months ago, and not small enough for the stuff I was wearing four years ago. Everything seems to be either hanging off me, or just that bit too tight to be comfortable.

I'm not inclined to buy stuff that fits me today as it probably won't fit tomorrow, so I'm still wearing the baggy stuff. Its very bizarre looking at tops that did'nt seem particularly big a while back, and thinking 'my god it's massive' now. Nice feeling tho.

The best thing about doing the gigs in Reading - aside from the fun I had, I've even got new walk-on music, Private Dancer by Tina Turner, just to freak the boys out - was that both nights I was back in the house by 11pm! Bonus!

It meant I was up and out early on Sunday too, so I heard the call from New Look and ran to Oxford Street. God I love that shop, I got a fantastic black t-shirt for £7!!!!!!!!!!

Had a great phone chat with my new comedy pal Ninia Benjamin too. She really is one of the funniest women I know. Her and Gina are off to Thailand this week to do that whole 'spa' thing. What I wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall as those two get colonically irrigated!

Big shout out too to Gina who came third in this massive American comedy competition on Saturday night....proud of ya girl!


Gay Pareeeeeeeeeee

So Wednesday morning saw me up really early - 7.30am!!!!!! Not sure why I woke so early, but made good use of it by getting my now middle-aged ass outta bed and into the shower, after I'd done my morning exercise regime. I do squats, crunches and all kinds of stretching every morning, just as well really with the amount of walking I'm doing here.

I switched my phone on and it dinged with a couple of 'Happy Birthday' texts. I'm not really one for making a huge fuss of my birthday anymore, I used to be - when I was young - but I had a day of treats planned that really meant something to me, so yes I intended to have a very Happy Birthday.

I got my credit card out of the case, and headed off to Galleries Lafayette to buy myself a 'little present'. It might sound ridiculous but the weight loss has shown itself in all kinds of weird places, not least of all on my wrists. I am a sucker for a good bit of silver, but the bracelet I'd been wearing for the last couple of years was now far too big and heavy looking on my new delicate wrists, so there was a definite goal of getting something nice to celibrate this.

I found it within about 15 minutes of entering the store. To be honest I spotted it last night, but I was still a bit apprehensive as to whether it would fit. Most bracelets don't. I have a couple of Tiffany ones that I've bought over the years and both of them had to be made bigger at extra cost before I could wear them. I tentatively held my arm out and let the saleslady put it on...blimey it fits and it ain't even tight! It's also very gorgeous, so I wouldn't even let her put it in the box, I wore it out of the shop.

Outside the shop there were loads of stalls selling all kinds of tat, and one of them caught my eye too, selling fake 'Chanel' rings. Now rings are another thing I've had to have made over the years, unless I wanted to just wear em on my little fingers. I found this really over the top white ceramic and 'diamonds'. That fit too and at 20Euros seemed a bargain. It really is huge and ostentatious, I swear I am turning into Liberace in my advancing years!

Shopping over it was time to head to the Louvre and brave the crowds. Blimey there were some crowds too! The place was heaving. I'm sure its very uncultured of me, but while I can appreciate the grandeur of the old buildings, I M Pei's glass pyramid was the part that made me a bit moist! it's a stunning structure, made all the moreso by the contrast with the ancient buildings that surround it. Once inside it was really difficult to appreciate the works on display due to the amount of tourists swarming around, the noise levels were unbelievable. Decided to just go see 'the' painting and get the hell out.

I was shocked by how small it was! I always imagined the Mona Lisa to be this enormous piece, but it really is quite tiny. Bit like when you see famous people in the flesh and they are always smaller than you imagined. There was a massive queue to get remotely close to it, which didn't seem to be going down at all, so I crept along the side of the queue and checked it out. It was almost like 'ticked that one off the list of things to do'. It was more interesting watching the guards getting really quite aggressive with the Japanese tourists who were taking photos of it, illegally.

I practically ran out of the Louvre, back up into the sunshine and found a little cafe for a much need coffee and a smoke. Refreshed, I headed up to Monmatre on the Metro to visit the Salvador Dali gallery. I got off the train and thought it bizarre there there was a lift to take you up to ground level at this station - I seemed to have done nothing but climbed stairs so far - so I decided to make use of the lift. Except I didn't as it was out of order. Myself and several others began our ascent, endless stairs later I saw daylight. At least I think it was daylight, I could've been having a mild stroke! I musta climbed about 150 stairs! That brought home to me just how much weight I've lost, I wasn't even the last one up! There was a woman, slimmer and younger than me who was lagging behind. If that had happened 3 months ago, I know I'd have given up and gone back down and gone somewhere else!

As I got onto the street my phone began to ring, a couple more friends wishing me happy birthday, I'd just about got enough breath back to be able to speak to them, then it was on the little electric bus up to the gallery.

It seems like Dali is everywhere at the moment, the V&A have just opened a massive Surreal Things exhibition, and while some of his stuff is over familiar - the melting clocks etc - there is something very special about seeing his work 'in the flesh'. They had the Mae West's Lips sofa, sadly we weren't allowed to sit on it, plus tons of sketches and sculptures. It was a great little insight into his world.

I checked out Sacre Coeur which is astonishing, but then it began to chuck it down, so I hopped back on the bus and got the Metro to the Place Madelene. I sheltered from the rain in a lovely cafe, you can still smoke inside in Paris at the moment, and watched the world go by. Apart from the art, this is my favourite part of any trip. Somehow it's never as good in London.

By now my legs were really aching, I've never walked so much in my life! So it was back to the hotel for a bit of r'n'r and a read of the Guardian. At the start of my day I'd bought a baguette for breakfast, and I still had 2/3rds of it left, so far it had done two meals, turns out it was my dinner too, and sadly went stale before I could finish it! God I am a cheap date these days!

In the evening I wandered over to the Bastille and had a look around but I really was feeling knackered and there was no point in ordering a meal anywhere as I was still stuffed, so I went back for a bath and bed.

Thursday morning and home time. Once I'd packed and checked out, I left my case at the hotel and went to treat myself to a wander round the Pompidou Centre, after breakfast in the Cafe Beauborg.

I remember seeing the Pompidou Centre when I came here last time and thinking what an amazing building it was, this time it had less of an impact as the world seems to have caught up with it, but there's no denying that the art collection is fantastic.

It wasn't as crowded as the Louvre, so I could really enjoy this one. Plus of course it's modern art which I love, it really was a case of leaving the best till last. There were all kinds of great works, but the Max Ernst stuff really struck a chord with me. Loved it.

With only a couple of hours to go before my train home I treated myself to a lunch of Moules and Frites... they were delicious. I'm starting not to care what people think now about how much I leave and beginning to break that thing of 'its a waste of money if you don't eat it all' mentality that led me to need to have the operation in the first place! That's a huge breakthrough for me.

After stocking up on cheap cigarettes, I headed back to Gare du Nord and checked in for the train home. For some reason the bitch at customs stopped me and made me show her my fag stash, I was within the limit, and could prove where I'd bought them, so fuck knows what her problem was. Luckily her superior stepped in and told her to stop fucking about, and she just shrugged and let me go.

You know there's a myth that the French are rude and arrogant, but until I encountered her, I'd met nothing but really friendly and helpful people, shame she had to spoil it, not even an apology.

On the train, I had a right result. A gorgeous boy to look at, and best of all, no-one sitting next to me for the entire journey! Mind you I think I need to work on my pulling techniques. The boy smiled and I smiled back, then I promptly fell fast asleep for about 90 minutes, and it was only my own snoring that woke me up! Oh well, he was too young anyway!