Thursday, March 30, 2006

I've been riding on my bike...

I have been cycling quite a lot recently. I have, in the past, been very much a fair-weather cyclist... using my bike for relatively short journeys and only when the day was kind of jolly and I knew cycling would be a pleasurable experience. But something has changed. I've had a change of attitude and I fear I might have become (pause, dramatic chords)... a cyclist.

On Friday last week and on Monday and Tuesday of this I've been working in Ladbroke Grove (working on an opera as it goes (don't ask)) and I have cycled each day from Bethnal Green to the office where this work takes place. On Sunday night I went to watch the recording of a Radio 4 show in Hampstead. I cycled there too. It was raining. I put on waterproof trousers.

This is clearly quite a radical shift in attitude. This makes me one of those people who brushes aside hardship and does things simply because they are "good for you" or worse still, the kind of person who enjoys discomfort. I've never trusted the people who claim to enjoy a 5am swim in a freezing ocean on the grounds that it is "bracing" and while I don't think cycling to Hampstead is quite in that league - I did after all want to go to Hampstead - it does make me worry about myself. I'm probably becoming quite annoying company too because a small part of me is really quite proud of having cycled somewhere. I'm a little holier than thou about things... not quite reaching the heights of piety achieved by reformed smokers but quite possibly heading in that direction. Oh dear.

One of the reasons is, of course, my decision to take part in the London to Brighton bicycle ride on June 18th. I don't have any time for training as such and so I have decided to use my bike as and when the journey is do-able. Even if it involves getting wet and there are more sensible options available.

A friend of mine told me that he had entered the ride one year. This is an extremely fit friend of mine. He's run the London marathon before now. He didn't finish the London to Brighton ride and not long after he and his companions decided to call it quits one of them threw their bike in a hedge in frustration. They were, apparently, coming last. I'm not sure why he told me this story. It isn't very motivational. It certainly hasn't filled me with confidence.

What do you mean you haven't sponsored me yet? Go on. You know you want to.

I was made all the more aware of my changing attitude towards cycling by today's events which have seen me gadding about town quite a bit ... but not in the saddle. For the first time in a long time I have been on the underground. Now that I am a proper cyclist (and yes, a week's activity is enough to qualify) whose lungs are used to breathing in fresh air (and petrol fumes) I find the tube unpleasant and crowded. I look at my fellow travellers and think, you fools, travelling in this cramped and unpleasant fashion, you are nothing but drones, cogs in the machine... you should experience life from the saddle of your bike, we cyclists know a joy that you will never experience. You see - holier than thou. I told you.

I was travelling on the tube because my day began with having to carry something too large and heavy for transportation by bike. It has been really quite traumatic. My computer is dying. I don't know quite what the problem is but every now and then - and with increasing frequency - the picture freezes. There are lots of warning shots where the graphics go all crazy. For a second or two the picture freezes and the graphics jump. It is hard to describe but if you imagine the screen to be a woven fabric well, for a split second it appears as if it has been badly stitched together. All of the threads are there, but they are not aligned with each other in the intended way. This will happen a few times and each time it snaps out of it until finally it gives up the ghost and just freezes.

To begin with I have a reluctance to try and deal with things like this. For a while I kid myself that it is a temporary glitch and that it will soon sort itself out. I do this because the idea of losing all of the information on the computer is just too much to bear. It contains so much stuff that carries so much importance. Stuff that I've written, photos from way back when, music... stuff that helps to define me. And stuff that helps to pay my mortgage. I can't afford to lose some of this stuff (or at least I feel like I can't) and so I put off doing anything about if for a while.

But today I decided enough was enough. I did what I could to transfer as much information from the desktop computer to my laptop computer and I struggled to teach my laptop how to connect to the internet using my normal desktop set-up. (Hence, I am able to update my website and this entry exists.) Then I boxed up my big computer and got a cab into town to the shop where I bought it from.

"Is it still under warranty?" asked the young man on the counter.
"I don't know," said I, "can you look up the serial number and check for me."
"Well, how long have you had it?" he asked.
"Isn't that the same question?" I said, a little peeved. I was about to entrust my life (in digital form) to this man and I wasn't in the happiest ofmoods. If I was to walk away from the shop leaving my computer in his care it would have been nice to do so with some degree of confidence and stupid questions from him weren't helping.
"What do you mean... 'isn't that the same question?'?" he asked.
"Well, you just asked me if it was under warranty and I said that I didn't know. Then you asked me how long I'd had it... surely if I knew that I'd know if it was still under warranty," I explained.
"Right," he said, "have you got the serial number and I'll look it up."

The computer is still under warranty. This is good because obviously it will be repaired for free but bad because it means their products aren't very reliable and prone to break down with very little use. Given how much time I've spent away from home in the last year the computer can't have had more than 2 or 3 months worth of use during the time that I've owned it. I expect more from Apple. Oh dear.

I've saved what I can from the computer just in case but I haven't been able to transfer my e-mail correspondence. If the problem is with my hard drive (he wrote, as if he knew what he was on about) all of that will be lost. Gulp.

After dropping the computer off I then had to head to Kentish Town for a meeting. This is a journey that I would have wanted to make by bike under more-reliable-computer circumstances but seeing as I was already in town I hopped on the tube. Ugh. Tonight I am playing poker. I will cycle there.

Total sponsorship raised so far for the British Heart Foundation: £1441.87.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Never Mind...

I spent the last two days finishing my commitment to Annually Retentive which has continued to be fun. Almost everyone involved in the show is playing themself, or a slightly more grotesque version of themself and I suppose the show as a whole is mocking a certain kind of panel show. Which made today all the more ridiculous as I had to leave the filming at 1pm in order to go and film a panel show.

The show I was guesting on was called Never Mind The Full Stops which is already strange because the title is a play on Never Mind The Buzzcocks which itself is a play on Never Mind The Bollocks... Obviously I was appearing on it as a form of field research that would allow me to bring something more real to my behind-the-scenes scenes on Annually Retentive.Well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

As you might guess from the title, the show is about grammar, punctuation and the English language. It's for BBC4 and it should start going out later this year. Oddly it's hosted by Julian Fellowes in a stern schoolmasterly fashion. I say oddly because he's an Oscar winning screenwriter and an actor of note and not really the kind of person you expect to find hosting a panel show on BBC4.

It also seemed a little odd to me because he seemed keen to eschew some of the normal conventions of presenting. As a viewer, even if you know the presenter is reading from an autocue, you assume they have chosen to say those particular words and that they reflect their own opinion. Julian seemed inordinately keen to tell the audience that he wasn't responsible for the script with lots of "this is the one they've given me to say"s and "I don't know why they want me to say that"s and so on.

This might turn out to be a stroke of genius on his part and it will endear him to viewers. Either that or he'll wish he'd used his Oscar winning pen to write the show himself.

I've been very impressed with the initial burst of sponsorship money raised for my London to Brighton bike ride. As I'm writing this the total donated is up to £990. If you're a UK tax payer and you tick some boxes and fill in some details while you're donating, the British Heart Foundation gets to collect even more money thanks to an automatic tax bonus. This tax bonus (Gift Aid) means that so far a further £267.38 has been raised taking the total to £1257.38. I'm pretty impressed - I only decided to do it for sure four days ago.

Thanks to everyone who has donated so far and go-on-you-know-you-want-to to everyone who hasn't. Sponsorship.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

London to Brighton

I have decided to cycle from London to Brighton. This might be related to the fact that I have recently turned 35. It might be an effort to prove to myself that I'm not really getting older. But then again it might not. Of course I'm not just going to set off by myself and cycle to Brighton - that would be foolhardy. No, I'm taking part in a big organised event in which everyone pretends that it's not really foolhardy and uses the fact that so many other people are doing it at the same time as evidence.

You'll have guessed by now that the event is of a charitable bent. It's organised by the British Heart Foundation which is a damn good cause, I'm sure you'll agree. Of course my participation is entirely selfish. I'm hoping that the money I raise will be the exact amount needed to develop some radical new life-saving treatment that I will then take advantage of in later life.

Having decided to take part I've been inundated with advice. It's the kind of advice that makes me wonder whether or not I've done the right thing by deciding to take part but of course it's too late now because I've told people. If only strangers had thought to tell me how arduous the trip is before I'd told them I was making it... then I could have decided not to do it and nobody would have been any the wiser. Heigh ho. Shopping list: talc, vaseline.

The ride takes place on June 18th so I have 3 months to do my worrying in. And my fundraising. If you'd like to sponsor me then please visit: and give what you can. When I'm cycling towards a daunting hill and my legs want me to give up it will be much easier to carry on if I can remind myself why I'm doing it in the first place: misplaced vanity. No, not that... I mean the British Heart Foundation. Yes that's it.

I do hope you will sponsor me and I really do mean it for the right reasons. You can also help by spreading the word and linking to my fundraising page.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


In the article about flickr that I mentioned a couple of days ago I said that I didn't really know how to pronounce it. Should it be pronounced flicker or flick-R? As I should have expected, many people got in touch to tell me the answer. Of course loads of people told me that they knew for a fact that it was flicker and a similar number seemed to know for a fact that it was flick-R so I didn't come much closer to an answer. But then an e-mail arrived from one of the founders of the site which cleared things up for sure. It's pronounced flicker and had the correctly spelled domain name been available it would have been called flicker too. But it wasn't. So it's flickr.

Some people seem to be upset by the article although it seems to me they're assuming it's meant to be reportage when it's quite clearly an opinion piece. Papers are full of my-favourite-this-that-or-the-other or why-I-love-thingummy pieces and I wonder if they all make people's blood boil in the same way?

I spent yesterday filming a few more bits for Annually Retentive... it really is one of the most enjoyable jobs I've done.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


A few weeks ago a scribe from the Guardian stumbled upon my photos on flickr which led them to ask if I'd write a short article for their online edition explaining why I use and like the site. It took me longer than it should have done to get round to it but the article was published today. It's true by the way - a Brazilian magazine has asked if they can publish my photos of East End grafitti. Life's odd isn't it? Maybe I should get some business cards printed up: Dave Gorman: International Photographer. Or maybe I shouldn't.

In other unrelated yet Guardian related news I've agreed to be a judge for the Guardian Student Media Awards. I've done this twice before. The first time I was one of the panel judging the travel writing section and the second time I was looking at the websites. This time I'm back to the travel writing. The judging takes place over a very fine lunch at the Ivy and that's reason enough to accept the invitation as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Last July I took part in a show called Vorderman's Sudoku Live for sky one. You can work out what it was from the title. It was live, it was about sudoku and it was hosted by a Vorderman (in this case they'd wisely opted for the one called Carol which is good because she's a TV presenter and I think all the other Vordermans are probably her unknown relatives and that would be silly.)

Anyway it was a bit of a laugh and Carol is dead nice so when I was asked by the same production company to take part in a show called Vorderman's Big Brain Game it was easy to say yes. Which is why this afternoon I spent time on a team with Sara Cox and a guy called Ajay trying to win a game against Lisa Rogers, Rufus Hound and a girl called Jimmy. Or maybe Ginny. Yes, Ginny makes much more sense even if I've spent the whole day thinking she was called Jimmy.

Ajay or Ginny - or for that matter, Jimmy - had the opportunity to win up to £10,000 while I had the opportunity to solve some puzzles and to dress up in a boiler suit and try to dodge some lasers like a fancy jewel thief might, which is better. I won't spoil the show by telling you what happened.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Like an onion

Annually Retentive is a TV series about a TV series. It stars Rob Brydon. The TV series it's about is also called Annually Retentive. It's a panel show. It's hosted by Rob Brydon who's being played by Rob Brydon. I'm playing one of the team captains who's called Dave Gorman. The other team captain is Jane Moore and she's playing herself.

The panel show doesn't really exist... except that right now it sort of does. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week we recorded two episodes each night with 4 guests on each show. The shows will never be seen as complete episodes but bits of them will appear in the show about the show. So right now the show within the show exists and the show that they're within doesn't. But it will.

It's been remarkably good fun so far and the audiences have been great. After the first pair of recordings the producers decided that as the audience was enjoying them so much and we were all relaxed doing them they might as well add a few rounds in and give themselves more choice when it comes to choosing how much of the show is about the show and how much is the show.

Everyone involved has been a pleasure to work with thus far. Especially Rob Brydon and don't let the fact that he asked me to write that lead you to conclude it's not true. It is true.

More Genius

I'm delighted to say that Genius has been recommissioned by Radio 4. We haven't worked out the dates for the recordings yet but there's definitely going to be a second series and that means we open up the search for genius ideas once again. Last series a few people e-mailed me direct with their ideas which just goes to show that they're not geniuses. The only way to have your idea considered by everyone involved in putting the show together is to send it to the show. The phone number and an e-mail form are here.

I'm sure you're all really enjoying my persistent pursuit for justice in the world of ebay so you'll be delighted to know that one month and six days after I paid for a Peep Show DVD that turned out not to exist I've managed to get a refund for it. I doubt I would have managed to do so if I hadn't published the e-mail address of the perpetrator on this page like the petty-vigilante I am.

Somebody else who read about the incident got in touch to tell me that they had recieved two copies of the DVD for their birthday and would be happy to let me have the other. It seems Series 1 DVDs are rare and valuable so I've sent them what we both thought was a fair price. There's a happy ending.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Truth, justice and don't mess me around on ebay mister

We recorded two episodes of Annually Retentive last night - or at least the show within the show. I think everyone decided that we should do the show as well as we could rather than seeking to make a deliberately bad panel-show. The end result was a very enjoyable night with some remarkably good guests. The whole project feels much more real this morning and I'm really looking forward to the next couple of days.

Now... I have a few loose ends to tie up relating to my two recent ebay related fiascos.

The most recent of these concerned the attempts of a certain Jon Hogg to defraud people by selling them nothing but the belief that they were taking part in a TV show I was making. I wrote about it a couple of days ago and you can also read about it in this Chortle story here.

Now Jon Hogg turns out to be a 17 year old lad who in his father's words can be "a bit of a d*ckhead". (His Dad didn't say * he said i )

The truth of the matter is that Jon was doing something wrong and even after it was obvious that he'd been caught doing it he was prepared to carry on, ignoring e-mails from me and others on the subject. Sadly it was only the threat of serious consequences that persuaded him to put a stop to it. Still, at least he acted before ebay... their first response was to tell me that they couldn't remove the listing, which makes no sense at all. They've since removed it. Which makes sense. Odd.

The second ebay related series of events is certainly more trivial but has been running a little longer. I first mentioned it in this parish at the end of February. It concerned my attempts to purchase a DVD of the brilliant sit-com Peep Show which was in part prompted by the ridiculous news that Channel 4 had decided not to commission a new series (see Chortle.) Since then it seems that someone at Channel 4 has seen sense and a new series has been commissioned after all. (see Chortle again.)

But I digress. The point is that the seller concerned was actually trying to sell counterfeit copies of the first series. Ebay discovered this and ended their listing but I'd already paid for it. I requested a refund to no avail. The seller then disappeared from ebay and removed all the money from their paypal account. No refund came. No DVD arrived either.

Oddly just after I put their name and e-mail address on this page they got in touch to say they would sort it out. While I'm sure they will be true to their word I'm slightly confused by the e-mails I'm receiving from them which seem to be very insistent that it wasn't their fault. Now it's possible that she is telling the truth - in which case it is her brother who is responsible for this whole thing and she was on holiday at the time. Of course that would involve her brother having her passwords and registering a paypal account in her name and using her e-mail address but in a way that was to his financial advantage... which I have to say seems a tad unlikely. In any case if that is what happened I think she should probably be directing her anger at her brother.

I'm told that it should all be resolved today. I hope so.

Monday, March 6, 2006


I don't have a lot to say about yesterday's Showbiz Poker other than to say that, much as I like the game, it can be incredibly infuriating. Good company, bad cards. No doubt some bad play on my part also.

Harumphing over - I now have something more serious to actually grumble about. Oddly it's another ebay related menace but this one is more serious than the apparent theft of £6.99 I mentioned a few days ago. Someone is basically claiming to be me in an attempt to rip off innocent people - up to 1000 of them - of £1.01 each. So far I think three people have fallen for it so he's only made £3.03 out of his fraudulent ways... but if his masterplan was successful he'd make over a grand out of 1000 tiny frauds.

The item is titled Dave Gorman ebay experiment - take part now!. It claims that I'm making a TV special about ebay and essentially that people can help out/take part by purchasing an imaginary widget for £1.01.

Obviously this is a lie and I'd like to think that anyone reading it would know it's a lie. There are several give-aways in the listing. For a start whoever wrote the listing can't spell. It's existence not existance, imaginary not immaginary and alleged not alledged. Anything that was meant to come from me would be better proof read than that.

It also shows a ridiculous paucity of imagination. I guess I'm used to this. When I first did Reasons To Be Cheerful I was inundated with e-mails from people suggesting other songs I could examine for future shows. When I did Better World I started to receive emails with suggestions for shows of an altruistic nature and when I did Are You Dave Gorman? my inbox overflowed with people suggesting things related to namesakes... other people's namesakes, lookalikes, people who share a birthday etc. etc. Now that I've done the Googlewhack Adventure people seem to have me labelled as some kind of internet-humourist and so I get lots of suggestions along similar lines. It seems very odd to me. The last thing I want to do is something-a-bit-like-the-thing-I've-just-done. The last thing I want to do is live up to some kind of label. Anyway, I guess it's this perception of me that made this ebay user (eb_ayflash) think his fraud seemed plausible and I suppose it's also the reason that the (satisfyingly paltry) three fools fell for it too.

I wrote to ebay about this yesterday and nothing seems to have been done about it so far. I've written an e-mail to the seller in question too. He hasn't taken it down yet. A few days ago when someone 'sold' me something on ebay and then disappeared with my money I posted their e-mail address on this page. I was narked that they'd taken my £6.99 but my tongue was in my cheek as I typed it. I thought it more amusing than anything else to take a small and petty grievance and discuss it here. I certainly wasn't intending to turn my page into some kind of ebay watchdog.

However this instance seems to be altogether different and rather more serious. And it isn't me who's being conned. Oh well. Here goes: His name is Jon Hogg. His address is ********edited******** and his phone number is 0151 *** ****.

Keep checking back at to see which miscreant's personal details I publish next!

Sunday, March 5, 2006


It was my birthday on Thursday. Because my birthday features in the Googlewhack Adventure a lot of people know about it so I get a lot of e-mails from strangers wishing me well. Which is nice. Unfortunately there are too many to reply to - but it really is appreciated. What's also in the Googlewhack Adventure is the fact that as I began my early 30s I was struck by the (unpleasantly vain) notion that I should make my living in a more respectable fashion. I sort of failed to do so but then spent 3 years making a living by telling people the story of my failure in a way that was, by and large, received as being my most mature work to date... so maybe I kind of succeeded. In any case there was no such crisis of confidence as I turned 35. I spent most of the day working on an opera that I'm contributing to (don't ask) and you can't get more grown up than that.

In the evening I went to see The Boy Least Likely To who I'd interviewed a couple of weeks ago when hosting on 6Music. Oh yeah, I might be 35 but I can still groove on down with the kids. They were great when they played in the studio but obviously better at a gig where their happy, uplifting energy creates a great atmosphere. I was surprised and flattered when part way through the show they stopped to give me a slice of cake (victoria sponge, cake fans) for my birthday. Aw shucks.

I had to have a relatively early night as I was up the next day for more opera-related work followed by some more filming on Annually Retentive where the hardest part of the job seems to be not corpsing at Rob Brydon. We have the studio records for the show at the start of next week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) which I'm looking forward to. I think when they're happening we'll really feel like we're making the show proper and the whole project will come alive.

Right now I'm wishing I'd spent the day in a poker bootcamp because this afternoon I'm playing a game for Showbiz Poker (I think that's the new title for Celebrity Poker Club) and the competitive side of me is desperate to do better than I did on my last appearance a year ago. That was my first ever game. I've played a fair bit since then. I've definitely got better. It should be a fun afternoon if nothing else.

When I'm writing this I sometimes wonder whether anyone will be reading it. Then sometimes an entry strikes a chord and I get a flurry of e-mails and it's clear that I'm not sending this news out into the ether unread. A few days ago I mentioned how someone had fleeced me on ebay by not sending me an item I'd ordered. I'm certainly not alone - I received a host of e-mails from people venting their spleens about similar things happening to them, many of them worse than my £6.99 incident. I also received an e-mail from the seller. Which is odd because I'd e-mailed her before and had no response and yet, when her e-mail address was on my site, something prompted her to get in touch. She's promised to reimburse me... I'll let you know if it materialises.

Now... poker.

Thursday, March 2, 2006


Yesterday was a very full but satisfying day. I made my first contribution to a new TV show that I'm very excited by. It's a peculiar beast but at the same time the pilot show (that I wasn't involved in) is one of the funniest things I've seen. It's called Annually Retentive and it's sort of a panel show but not really, in fact it's more about a panel show than anything else. At the heart of the show is the very, very funny Rob Brydon. If you want to come along to see the studio recordings (March 6, 7, 8) you can get tickets here.

The evening was then spent recording two episodes of Radio 4's Quote... Unquote. This is a real life and far more straight forward panel show of some 30 year standing so you can't help but be aware that you're stepping into an institution when you take part in it. I was in particularly esteemed company (John Lloyd, Simon Brett anyone) and I was very pleased to discover that the other pannelist Stephanie Merritt was also making her first appearance on the show. Needless to say everyone involved was really very jolly and the evening flashed by.

A book I like...

You can tell I haven't read much this month because I'm recommending a classic. I was re-reading a section from Side Effects a few days ago and I thought I'd have to recommend this on the site. Then I started thinking about Without Feathers and whether that collection of writing was more worthy. Then I discovered that the two of them are collected in one volume and with a third, Getting Even, also in the package. Whatever the pieces in Getting Even are like - and I won't pretend to have read them - yet - the book is worth it already for the great comic writing in the other two. It's easy to forget quite how good Woody Allen has been down the years but it's great to remind yourself of it by dipping into these. Quite, quite brilliant.

Complete Prose of Woody Allen

See all the books I've recommended so far here.