Saturday, June 13, 2015


That's it. Don't leave the sofa. You will eventually lose weight.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


After a night on the tiles at Brighton's premier gay disco "Revenge" (Jägerbombs £2 a shot, very classy), I was up early this morning for another LGBT/alternative wedding fair, my second in four months. Officially I was representing Pip Wyatt and but Robbie came along too in case there were any hot men around (there were).

As a now seasoned gay wedding fair delegate, I was actually expecting Quaint Queer Weird to be wackier than it was: more camp men, more funeral directors (there were two at the Gay Wedding Fair including the Co-op), more drag queens and at least a smattering of bondage. Quaint Queer Weird was rated 18+ by the organisers and I had high hopes that the Corn Exchange (which normally hosts jazz quartets and the like) would be magically converted into a scene of wild bondage-themed abandon, oozing sexuality and awash with scantily-clad, body-painted wood nymphs. There was also talk of a "fetish duo" plus the Mayor cutting a ribbon, in a non-fetishistic way, clad in a revealing crimson cloak and tricorn hat with feathers in it.

Sadly we missed the Mayor and couldn't find the fetish duo but Robbie practically passed out with joy when we saw a shirtless Ryan Gosling lookalike stretched out semi-naked having his arm tattooed and we both had to be forcibly restrained from jumping on the PolarSnap guy.

Olly Dall (aka Mr PolarSnap) is a sort of one-man, mobile Polaroid photo booth who will not only take snaps of people with a range of props, but also load the pics up to facebook. Olly is considerably cheaper than a stationary photo kiosk or taxi photo booth and I imagine it's also easier to get people posing if you're wandering around interacting with them (especially if you look like Olly).

Hats off to Feathered Fantasy who make ravishing headwear concocted out of feathers, fur, bone and other bits and pieces hand-foraged in woodland mainly inhabited by elves, fairies and centaurs. Beautiful.

Also stunning was Freya von Bulow’s paper couture wedding dress - although maybe a bit impractical and I'm not sure what the flammability rating would be.

Fat Cakes Design’s tiered wedding cakes were amazing, super gothic and looking like something Tim Burton might have thrown together. The skull one was fantastic but I couldn’t discuss it with the owner because she was busy having a tatoo done.

Thanks to the organisers, especially Lesley Taylor, for a thoroughly entertaining morning and a lot of pretty inspiring suppliers. The best are above but honorable mentions to the following:
  • - nice couple with a cute vintage-styled VW camper van.
  • Jaunty Twig, an app which allows guests to take and share photos during the event – and view all the pics live at the venue.
  • Antoinette Hoogstrate who makes photographic prints on wood

  • Pauline Moore De-Lights – cool “MR & MR” Hollywood lights, and their facebook page also has one saying LOVE

Hotel Pelirocco - Brighton's original rock'n'roll boutique hotel. Amy and Cecily were the lovely girls running the hotel's stand and got us plastered in about a minute flat with something called Cheeky Milkshake (Bols, yoghurt liqueur, Stoli Chocolate Raspberry, lime guide, vanilla).

Things I’m gutted I missed:

  • Louise Tyler’s “bespoke crochet table centres” (I googled one of her crochet mushrooms – staggering!)
  • Death & Glory Taxidermy - as I can’t think of anything much nicer to wear to a wedding than a dead, stuffed animal (only these morning I was wondering I could get away with wearing stuffed zebra finches)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


The Fairmont has had such wild success with its €5 "corkage" rule on food and beverages that it's extending its policy to cover a wide range of other items that guests might try to sneak in to their room.

At present, guests are charged €5 for any item of food or drink that they bring in to the room themselves (this includes water, or any life-saving medicine that you might have brought with you, decanted into plastic water bottles).

Fairmont cleaning ladies are briefed to check dustbins for evidence of "introduced items" and this is then added to guests' bills.

The policy has gone so well that the Fairmont has now decided to charge corkage for ANY item which could conceivably be obtained from the hotel. So any guest now found bringing their own shampoo, conditioner or bath gel, cotton wool ear buds, shower cap, shoe cleaning equipment, flannel, towel or loo roll will now be charged €5 per item.

You must NOT use your own condoms because the Fairmont supplies plenty of these in the mini-bar. And if you want to have sex, you MUST use one of the many prostitutes available in the lobby. Even if you just want to talk all night or "cuddle up and spoon", you will be charged corkage if you try to do this with a woman that you brought yourself.

Obviously this will come as a relief to some people because they can now tell their wife or girlfriend that, although they would love to take them to Monaco, they can't afford the "corkage" costs. The Fairmont has also been considering ways to charge corkage for any photographs guests take as the hotel sells perfectly good postcards in the gift shop, but this idea is still in development.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Background info ... Oscar Chica Lucena appears to be a freelance Vueling consultant whose role is to answer awkward posts on Vueling's facebook pages in the guise of an independent third party. Here's my reply to Oscar!
Oscar... that's sweet of you to defend Vueling and their fantastic social media team. I am something of a fantastic social media team myself so I always appreciate fantastic work in others.

However if you look at all my posts on, you will see that their only reply - sometimes repeated three times in one post, was "Hello Mad, please send us your claim through, and our team will answer you as soon as possible. Regards". Also, in response to my emails, they have replied (three times) with a form letter which you can see at the bottom of my blog: It doesn't matter what I write to them, that's the answer I get.

Passengers are not obliged to know a thing about about "aeronautics culture" or "EUROCONTROL" in order to pursue their legal rights to compensation which is very clearly outlined in Have you read this? Extraordinary circumstances are situations "beyond the control of the airline", for example, "security risk, political instability or severe weather that makes flying dangerous". I'm sure it's "very hard" finding a specific slot between two airports, but as that is what airlines are supposed to do, I don't see this as "extraordinatry cicumstances". And, as nearly all the flights were running from Orly during the time period I was there (13.00 - 19.30), then we can certainly rule out "severe weather". I could see the weather out of the window and it was mainly drizzle plus the odd snowflake (and I do mean one or two!).

What I CAN tell from my brief foray into "aeronautics culture" is that it is verging on airline policy to ignore complaints from passengers who have been denied boarding in the hope that a wall of silence or repeated stock responses will cause them to give up. Airlines are clearly banking (and I don't mean this in the aeronautical sense) on the fact that not many people will continue to pursue their rights faced with this kind of response. This is what "aeronautics culture" actually amounts to.

However the law on compensation for cancelled flights is extremely clear - and is also referenced in section 7.2.1. of Vueling's own Conditions of Carriage The form letter that I have been sent repeatedly ignores 7.2.1. entirely, and quotes 7.2.3 of the Conditions of Carriage which refers to reimbursement and delays (a wholly different situation and not one relevant to me).

Saturday, February 16, 2013



The good ol' days... 

But all good things come to an end, Alex Cruz ...
Below is the kind of message I send you, which you DON"T read!

This is how you like to respond!!!
Or sometimes like this!! Three times in a row.

Below: attempt #3 to get Vueling to read the EU Denied Boarding Regulations - or maybe just their own facebook page..
You love this response! You've sent it six times already!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

On Sunday, February 10, I was booked on to Vueling flight VY8017 which was supposed to depart from Orly to Barcelona at 15.20 but was cancelled. I opted to take the re-routing option departing on flight VY8021 at 19.30.

Under EU Denied Boarding Regulation 261/2004, it is absolutely crystal clear that I am entitled to €250 compensation along with all my fellow passengers on cancelled VY8017. The re-routed flight left four hours, ten minutes after the one I was supposed to be on. However under the European Regulations, it states:

The (compensation) amounts stipulated are:-
  • 250 Euro (£217) for flights under 1500 kilometres (932 miles) (Short haul)
 However Vueling have replied to me three times saying I am not entitled to compensation EVEN THOUGH I provided them with a direct link to the European Regulations so they could read the legislation for themselves.

I was a very enthustiastic fan of Vueling until Sunday - and a member of the MyVueling/Punto loyalty scheme. I am VERY disappointed that Vueling think they can fob me off with emails and ignore their legal obligations.

If anyone else has similar Vueling stories, please let me know. I'm starting my campaign for justice right now!!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


In the lift on the way to breakfast today, I met an excited 18-year-old. I had taken the back lift (which no one knows about) in the vain hope of avoiding excited 18-year-olds when my face looks like it’s about to hit the floor. Never mind. He was a charming boy.

This is his first EPT and apparently he’s working as a location runner for the TV crew. Let’s call him “Matt”.

“This is my first EPT”, said Matt. “I’m VERY EXCITED!!! How many have you done?”

“Mmm”, I said. “I think about 85. I am also very excited.”

He looked at me as I was actually 85, and probably wasn’t going to make it to the ground floor without a defibrillator.

“Actually, it’s not just my first EPT”, continued Excited Matt. “It’s my first ever JOB! I’m still at university. I’m on a sandwich course.”

I am so tired (already) that for a couple of floors I was trying to work out how a sandwich-maker gets a job as a location runner and then realized, of course, that getting sandwiches is probably a location runner’s main occupation.

I was still wondering what sandwich he could get me when we reached the lobby. “Have a nice day”, he said excitedly, racing off to order his first BLTs of the day.

Hotel lifts are vastly under-rated in my opinion. My former colleague Howard Swains turned me into a New Yorker subscriber simply by describing to me a fascinating article he was reading that was all about lifts.

Every aspect of lifts was covered in enormous detail. Who makes lifts, how these people got into the lift business, which companies make the best lifts (Schindler, obviously – because then you can say “Schindler’s Lift” to fellow travelers and make them all laugh), lift technology, lift decor, lift quirks.

One lift fact Howard told me about is that, in most lifts, the button that says it will close the doors is actually fake. According to Howard’s New Yorker article, by the time people actually press this button, the doors are going to close anyway. It’s just a placebo feature installed by lift manufacturers to make you think you’re in control. I regularly test this theory (mainly to exclude people that I can see running to get into the lift) and I think it’s true about 50% of the time.

In my job, we all stay in hotels all the time so lift discussions are pretty frequent in the media room. Good lifts, bad lifts, particularly fast and slow lifts. Annoying lifts (any lift that requires a key card) and utterly infuriating lifts (the Swissotel in Tallinn which doesn’t tell you that the restaurants on Floor 7 and 24 are closed, it just makes sure the lift buttons don’t work).

Another colleague - Frank Op de Woerd - had a lift theory which we tested extensively somewhere in central Europe. Frank’s Lift Theory is that if you hold the “close doors” button AND your floor button simultaneously, the lift will go straight to your floor without stopping. Apparently this is so that firemen, ambulance drivers and other emergency services like media coordinators can get where they need to go quickly. Unfortunately, this theory did not pan out empirically.

I’ve also done some of my best interviews in hotel lifts. My first lift interview was with Canadian EPT2 Grand Final finalist Marc Karam. This was in the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel where, thoughtfully, they provide little bench seats in the lifts so that, if you ARE doing an interview, you can all sit down.

Karam and I got through a lot of his life history in that lift and since then, I have found lifts a really great place to tackle players, especially those that don’t really want to give an interview.

My favourite lift of all time is in the Meridien Hotel in Monte Carlo. This lift has stunning (possibly real) zebra-skin fabric lining the walls, lots of chrome and mirror, and intense House music playing at all times of the day and night. Every time I get in to a Meridien lift, I immediately feel like swallowing three Es and spending the rest of the day in there clubbing. I am going to the Meridien next week and already pretty excited about the lift.

It’s quite possible my interest in lifts (aka obsession) dates back to early childhood. When we were very young, my parents had a holiday flat in Mallorca. The lift was a rickety metal affair with grubby glazed door. It was always breaking down and was always full of sand. I take some responsibility for the sand as my sister and I spent every summer holiday taking up bucket-loads to our fifth floor apartment so we could have a REAL BEACH on our apartment balcony.)

Anyway, the psychologically significant factor here is that you were not allowed to use this lift (unless accompanied by an adult) UNTIL YOU WERE TWELVE YEARS OLD.

I spent most of my childhood YEARNING to be 12 simply so I could use this lift without waiting for a grown-up. People who know me well will be surprised that I didn’t just use the lift anyway but I am strangely obedient to semi-useless legislation and am pretty sure I stuck it out to 12.

If this was a New Yorker article (and obviously it should be), then I would work out in comprehensive and exhaustive detail, exactly how much of my life I have spent in lifts. As I’ve been stuck in a lift (an exciting story, covered previously in this blog), I imagine it amounts to quite a few days.

Next week: In The Shower