It’s that time of year when the newspapers are filling pages cheaply and easily with their ‘best of the year’ round ups. Although this site is by no means neither newsy nor papery, I thought it would be rude not to comply with this hack tradition. Plus, I’m sitting here loading a bunch of ska CDs onto my iPod and am scratching around for stuff to do in the meantime.
1. FUNNYMEN by Ted Heller. A very, very funny novel by a brilliant writer. Details the showbiz careers of a comedy musical duo written in the style of a transcription of a documentary script. Absolute genius from start to finish – the characters are brilliantly constructed to the finest detail and it fairly rattles along.
2. FRIED EGGS WITH CHOPSTICKS by Polly Evans. Polly’s now a good chum of mine, but she wasn’t when I read this, honest. Excellent warts’n’all account of Polly’s trip around China that also educates you about the history and culture of the place in such a way that you hardly notice.
3. IF I DON’T WRITE IT NOBODY ELSE WILL by Eric Sykes. Frank autobiography by a comedy great. My copy’s signed too. So there.
1. Being made the official ambassador to England of the breakaway republic of Uzupis. It’s a district of Vilnius that seeks autonomy and international recognition – and seems to get it. Having met the government in parliament (the pub) I was duly made an official amassador, and England is my domain. Here’s me being inducted by the President Romas Lileikis, and here I am being given my ambassadorial credentials by Foreign Minister Tomas Chappatti. And here I am at the border with Lithuania. It was chucking it down.
2. Sitting between Barry Cryer and Kate Adie at an Oldie lunch while Kate whispered a Dustin Hoffman impersonation in my ear as her breasts rested on my left forearm.
3. Attending a Mills and Boon romantic fiction writing course in a pink castle in Scotland. If I hadn’t seen it on the telly myself, I’d never have believed it.
4. Performing ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ in a duet with Uzbekistan’s biggest pop star on Uzbek national television.


1. The Star & Garter, Poland Street, Soho. Expensive, crowded and smoky. BUT, cracking rolls, beer and friendly bar staff.
2. The Three Compasses, Hornsey High Street. Effectively my local at the moment. Again, nice beer and a barman who can be your best mate or the rudest bugger you’ve ever met, with nothing in between. I keep seeing Minty out of EastEnders in there (and in fact everywhere I go in Hornsey) and that Simon bloke who did Spaced and Shaun of the Dead.
3. The Africa Bar, The Africa Centre, Covent Garden. Can always get a seat however mad busy it is everywhere else in Covent Garden. Kenyan Tusker Beer and a barmaid with the best bouffant you’ll see in your life.
1. Wenche from Norway. Still as smashing as the first time we met on Utsira some three years ago now.
2. Assorted Uzbeks for being the nicest people in the world, even to complete strangers like me. This bloke, for example. Didn’t speak English, I don’t speak Uzbek, but he had me as a guest in his dacha outside Tashkent, plied me with booze and amazing food and even persuaded me to shed clothes and jump in the river.
3. Lesley Double, or ‘Lil’, as readers of Attention All Shipping might know her. Lesley wrote to me in the summer to reveal that she was indeed the ‘Lil’ of Choxaway Cafe at Land’s End airport fame. What a lovely lady. The text of her e-mail can be found here.


1. Overheard In New York always sets me up for the day when I first log on. And we trust that country with nuclear warheads.
2. Beedogs. A website for people who like dressing their dogs up as bees. Of course.
3. Bombay TV. Add your own subtitles to Bollywood films. Often maddeningly addictive.
Only one winner, and that’s Michael of that ilk. Mr Winner slagged off Kate Adie and I in his Sunday Times column with no grounds whatsoever. The fact that he was late, pompous, ill-mannered and lacking any charm or charisma whatsoever, and gave a speech of unutterable drivel is some consolation.
Geoffrey Boycott when Glenn McGrath injured himself warming up for the second test: “If I’d been in that England dressing room and I’d heard that Glenn McGrath had put himself out of the match, well, they’d have heard me laughing in Australia”.
I found it impossible to separate the claims of this story and this one.
Not many people could make you watch old clips of news in French, let alone make your heart go all a-flutter, but Melissa Theuriau pulls it off. *Sigh*