Sunday, 3 March 2013

It's all so coded these days!

It was Adrian’s fault – he started it all with an imessage™ this morning asking me whether I was NSIT. At first I wondered whether he was asking about my Post Office savings account, then I pondered whether he was referring to some long forgotten fetish I may have once had, then I thought he must be checking if I’m still in a union. But no, apparently he wanted to know whether I was ‘Not Suitable in Taxis!’ Well, I have been in many taxis over the years, and I can assure you I have had my moments, but please, let’s not stray down that alley.
Apparently it’s all the Duchess of Devonshire's fault, her and her meddling aristo’s concocting codes in order to inform each other and their daughters of which bachelors to avoid during the season. The other one Ade threw at me was MTF, which apparently isn’t anything to do with being Trans, but rather ‘Must Touch Flesh’. You’ll be pleased to hear that since my NSIT and RWH days are over, so are my heat seeking missile style men crawls, so no, I am not NSIT and I am not MTF, well not all the time anyhow. And remember– I’ve been in taxis with a lot of you too – so mum’s the word!
But it was all codes in the day, especially for the Gays, and they’ve been using them ever since the wheel was square. Polari for example was a wonderful code used for saying something impertinent or risqué or for importuning under the radar.
‘Did you manage to drag yourself up on deck?’ ‘No, we just wore casuals’.
After the ‘I’m Julian and this is my friend Sandy’ years, further codes were adopted by the Gays. One of the most obvious codes was dress. As you know Tony Blair introduced many ground breaking moves towards similar equality, importantly enshrining in the 1994 Village People Act, the stipulation that Gay men must at all time take on the drag of either a construction worker, a Native American, a policeman, a cowboy, a leather man or a soldier.
‘You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal, you can hang out with all the boys!’
But you couldn’t always tell just from having a ‘Vada of his dolly old eek’ which side of the bed a young gentleman liked to fold his pyjamas. (I’ve just made that euphemism up by the way, but already feel it to be some of my best work). And those night discos were a little smoky, and they did play their Dansettes very loud. And also remember, these were furtive times, Gay men often didn’t have the protection or acceptance of the law or society, and so the comfort of strangers was therefore essential and very important, but to be arranged and had on the sly.
‘She’s the Queen of the Silver Dollar, and she rules this smoky kingdom, and her sceptre is a wine glass, and a bar stool is her throne.’
So this is why the Heath Government introduced the 1972 Hanky Code Act, which pioneered an easier, chat free option for determining the suitability of a courting partner’s hobbies. The key part of the legislation was the detailing of a strict colour code system which made it easy for a gentleman to let it be known where he liked to be kissed. And no I’m not talking about under the mistletoe, but I will just check my Dictionary of Euphemisms just to be doubly sure.
Details of most of the code are not appropriate for a mixed audience, but checking through Hansard I can see that if a gentleman had a wide range of multiple interests he would wear an Orange hanky in either his right or his left back pocket. The left pocket signalling an interest in sharing his wide range of hobbies with another, and the right pocket signalling that he’d like to have a wide range of hobbies shared with him. Light blue would indicate a penchant for kissing downstairs, and black, that detailed he was in need of a smacked bottom.
Moving swiftly on.
So, as you know, I don’t have any children, nor a wife, and very few friends that pop round, so most of my free time is spent on my own, which is a good thing as I am unsociable and like peace and quiet. So what have I been filling my time with most recently? That’s a very good question. I can tell you firstly that it does, much to my disquiet, involve the taking up of a new addiction. Which I know some of you will applaud, having registered your boredom with my no smoking, no drinking, and no touching lifestyle. So what is this new addiction? Well its caffeine, and who is my dealer? Well that gets a bit muddled with the no touching rule as my dealer(s) are the sexy Italian sales folk at the Regent Street Nespresso Boutique. And the Bennies I’m scoring from them? Arpeggio and Fortissio! Oh my good Golly, they are nice, although I’m going up to score some decaf off them next Saturday as I think that will be a better way to take this addled lifestyle forward.
I can do you an espresso, a cappuccino, a latte, a flat white, or an Americano. Don’t ask for anything else punk, because you’re not going to get it in my coffee house. Which, for your information, has been named ‘The Reene Roberts Memorial Coffee House and Anticbac Wipes Centre.’
And how am I shooting up this shit? Well it’s a very glamorous system known as the Magimix Citiz and Milk, and I adore it. I’m having my whole kitchen redesigned as an altar/homage/shrine to the Nespresso, and with proper storage for the accoutrements and biscotti.
But don’t think it is just the leather men and the Duchess of Devonshire who have the monopoly on codes, no, the Nespresso does too. 16 Grand crus, all colour coded for strength, flavour and how intense the caffeine hangover feeling is. So if you’re down the disco and you see a George Clooney look alike with ear plugs in, his duffle on, and with a gold hanky in one pocket and a purple hanky in the other, it’ll probably be me begging you to get me out of there, take me home, whip out your cowboy outfit and make me a Arpeggio Cappuccino or a Fortissio latte.

Friday, 4 January 2013

What's in a Name?

For the last 44 years (looks 34) I've been officially and statutorily known as William. Just William, no middle name, just the one. Austerity naming if ever there was such a thing. I’m not bitter, not that you can tell anyway.
Neither overly complicated nor unusual; I don’t think, just a plain, classically tasteful, sartorial, traditional English name. I'm not sure whether it would be allowed in Iceland though.
But I think their list is an attempt to try and avoid people calling their kiddies Stanzena, Deslulu, Rogarbra or Dollybraham rather than by a proper name.  I must look into that though, for as you know my first born is currently scheduled to be called February Godwin. I’m sure it will be ok.
However, it has come to pass that at work my name has suddenly, and with increasing regularity, become Godwin. Not in a boarding school or military sort of way, just people seeing my name in an email or on the phone display and then for some strange can’t read properly or getting too old to really be working type reason, take it that the Godwin part is my first name. Queer!  
At first I put it down to the fact that Godwin is a first name in some African countries. I didn’t know this initially, but I looked it up at the lending library. And so people originally from Africa could easily confuse, like I might if someone was called Dame Tallulah Jacqueline Suzanne, which name would come first? Oh I can just imagine the quandary. This made sense as well, for the first people to reorder my moniker in the office were African. But then, like many international trends, it crossed the continents and all sorts of people who had no link, affiliation or even football team in common with Africa, and probably only knew foreign as anything further north than West Bromwich started to join in. Bandwagoning some might say – Queer I say.
I have been dealing with it mostly in the same way I do when people call me Mr Goodwin, by simply saying my correct name back at them immediately, and then pretending nothing erroneous has taken place. I replied to one colleague by email, informing her that I was very happy for her to call me by my first name if she liked. On the phone, I say 'It's William' when they say, 'Ah, Hellooo Godwin'. But really should I have too? It's not as it I am Thomas Thomson Tomley Tompkinson or anything silly like that.
So I am baffled.
Previously the only banter or badinage I'd had regarding my name was lying to people when they asked me if I was related to 'The' William Godwin, to which I always answer yes. But this new linguistic conundrum has no fun to it. Apart that is from the miniscule pleasure obtained in correcting people. But to be honest even that is negligée-able. No one has done a grand 'Oh, I can't believe it, I am so sorry I called you by your surname, how insulting!' The best I've had was for someone to momentarily look up from their pot noodle and give me a 'whatever – yeah, that thing you just said' look.
If it happens again I may have to do a Danny a la his wonderful slightly incoherent (sherry?) ‘Does God give churches Sunday off?’ LBC rant.
 'you’re very rude my dear'
44 (34) years in the business - how very dare they!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Our Survey Said.....

In a recent survey we asked one person whether they thought getting up early was a good thing. 100% of respondents said that if they really had to express an opinion, then they considered getting up early was probably, on balance, in most cases a good thing.
So I decided that if I am going to try and move to the seaside in the Spring……… oh, have I not told you? sorry, yes I have decided to sell up and move to Whitstable - mmmmm SEASIDE. 
I was reading the Whitstable Times on Thursday morning, (I have it delivered) and I see that there is a lot of concern about shop rents rising on the high street. It was the same in East Dulwich a few years ago, but we, (nothing to do with me actually) we all fought against it, and the independent traders remain to this day! Up the people! And may the rich continue to be able to spend their disposable income on organic home weaved baby clothes and genuine Cornishware durries and Artisan hand blown tajines (no homo).
So yes, Whitstable, well why not. I had already made the decision that I would troll down the A2 and have a vada into Kent about an hour away or so in order to get a bigger place hopefully with a bit of countryside at the end of the road. And then, from nowhere, I realised that for only an extra half of your English hours journey time I could actually be genuinely resident at the seaside in a little town I know and love, which was BY THE SEA!
Commuting, I know is a bore, but the payoff would be so tumescent.  And the price of property is cheap, so I could buy a little house and have some change from the sale of my flat in London. And I do so want a little house, by the sea. Oh the SEASIDE.
So, much more on this as I get it, obviously, as my agent says the whole move should become the basis for my blockbuster autobiographical émigré journal. I’m sure it’s just the sort of thing the independent traders in East Dulwich would love to sell. Then there will be my Whitstable coffee table photography book and matching coaster set to follow. It’ll be the Diary of an Edwardian Country Lady all over again. And we sold a lot of that range in Boots Cookshop in 1986; I know this, for I was there.
So why the getting up early - good question. As many of you will know, I am not a natural lover of the dawn, and do tend to cling to my duvet until the very last possible minute. But I thought if I am to live at the seaside, I am going to have to get up very early in order to get the train to old London town, so I should start practising a programme of dawn familiarisation activities.
And it was fine actually, and so on Friday I got up at 6.30, which is probably when most people get up anyway, and I got lots done and then walked to work. I’ve only lived in East Dulwich for 13 years, and have always thought it would be too far to walk to work, but it only took 45 mins for heaven’s sake. I read that if you are to train yourself to get up early it’s good to have a purpose for the extra time, so a walk to work seemed liked a good plan. I also put a wash on,  riddled some clinkers (or is it clinked some riddlers), sided some pots, cleaned the tops of the kitchen cupboards, arranged a bulk waste collection with the Council for some junk I have in my cellar, chucked loads of stuff in the recycling and had 2 cups of tea.
All good practice for when I LIVE BY THE SEA at the seaside, in Whitstable.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Working the Chat Lines

A friend once told me about the time he called his boyfriend at home and the boyfriend answered thinking it was the person he'd just been talking to on a chat line. Tricky one to worm your way out of, that one, and a relationship defining moment if I recall. But there again, if your boyfriend wants to be on the chat lines, he is probably hankering after the single life, or has gone off you anyway, so best to let him go and then crack on with something more useful.
So chat lines.
Many years ago, in a Bronksi Beat stylee time long forgotten, in the offices of a long forgotten pink publication moniker of Vada, I escorted a friend to one of the darker corners of Grays Inn, as he dropped off 800 words on queer theory vs. thongs and poppers. It was all faxing, catching the last post and in an emergency using couriers in those days, and then presumably some poor boy or girl had to retype it all into the 'desktop publishing' software, or have it sent to the typesetters. Publishing certainly appeared to be run on a cocktail of Windows 3.11 and steam up until the mid 90's.
So it was a large one room operation. The room was zoned into four areas, entrance area, office corner, sofas and tea and coffee corner and then in the last quarter was a long table at which was sat a solitary young skinny gay in a headset. Whilst the copy chat was taking place with the editor and next week's piece being planned, I wandered over to the table to take a closer look and to try and work out what the skinny boy was doing. He smiled and motioned to me to take a seat. He was chatting encouragingly into his head set. 'We've got a new caller from Nottingham, hi, do you want to introduce yourself.' My eyes were drawn to a large sign on the wall which said  'Do not cut silent callers of for at least 30 mins'. So there I was, I was sat at a chat line. I had seen all the adverts on the back pages of the Gaypers, but I had never been drawn to call any of the numbers, knowing intrinsically that the hunks in Speedos in the ads would never be on the line and wouldn't be throwing their heads back and guffawing with me over cocktails after that first call. Somehow even though I had no idea about how they were run, or that it was just a table and a skinny boy in Grays Inn, I knew they would mostly be silent callers from Nottingham.
At the other places around the table were more headsets presumably waiting for other skinny boys to come on shift and jolly people along 'Why don’t you introduce yourself and tell 'everyone' else on the line all about yourself?'
The skinny boy motioned for me to put a headset on. This was too good an opportunity to mainline straight into a richly flowing voyeuristic vein, not to take up. So I slipped the headset on and listened. There weren't many people on, and it was all very pedestrian, depressing and only really kept going by the skinny boy's jollification. 'Well I live in Nottingham and like going to the bars, and I live with me Nan and have a Capri'.  Stop, stop why don’t you, you're turning me on, it's too much, I can't hold back - NOT.
There were a lot of accents, perhaps indicating more of a social need outside of the southeast, but these poor buggers were being fleeced, for nothing. There was no sauce, no spice, no 'tantalizing hot chat'. The ads offered 'chat with guys like you' but that is not what people wanted. They didn’t want to chat with guys like them; they wanted to chat with guys like there were in the ads, in Speedos with big muscles and an XR3i. But there was no trades’ description act breech. They were chatting with other guys like them.
Whilst I was drinking it all in, the skinny boy looked straight at me, smiled and said 'We have a new caller from London on the line, why don't you introduce yourself and tell everyone else on the line all about yourself'. Ideally I've have taken the silent caller option, but here I was I was on a chat line and I had to say something. I felt so sorry for the skinny boy trying to make a handful of dull callers who were not inclined to chat, sound as close to guys guffawing in Speedos as he could. Now as we all know you can't gold plate a turd, but then I remembered that you can roll it in glitter, so I launched in. 'Hi I'm Martin from London, Hi everyone', ’Hi Martin'. The skinny boy then said 'So Martin tell everyone what sort of guys you like'. So all I could think to say was that I liked tattoos. This then prompted the 'host' to ask the other callers whether anyone had any tattoos or also liked tattoos. Oh but it was like pulling teeth. You know when you are at an ice breaker session at a the beginning of training and no one is in the mood to talk, or even be there - well it was just like that, although these poor fuckers were paying through the nose for the displeasure.
The whole thing must have been such an anti-climax for all involved, apart from the company who would have been pocketing a good chunk of the 0898 fee. No hunks in Speedos, just some twat from London saying he likes tattoos and then ringing off. I suppose it is like dates, most of which you go along to thinking you are going to meet some interesting, fun, intelligent, sexy guy, whereas you get some nervous burbite with whom you share no cultural reference points and whose jumper is made from manmade fibres. You know I once went on a date with someone who had been working as a temporary postman after having completed a doctorate in something really complicated and interesting sounding. He didn't spend the evening bamboozling me with theses and romanticising me with dreams of faraway galaxies, or showing off with his plans to rule academia, no, he spent the whole date talking to me about the little red card they pop through your door when you are not in. He made the 'sorry you were out' card last a whole date.
The only other 0898 number I have ever experienced was whilst working in a shop many years ago. The ad, my colleagues decided to ring on speaker phone during our break, promised all sorts of pornographic delights and titillations beyond hither too chronicled arousal levels. What we got was something along the lines of a very poor Carry On film, with a lady explaining that she worked on the buses, and how the men were forever looking at her. She then repeated at regular intervals 'Oh my uniform is so tight. Oooohh! so tight!' and that was as filthy as it got and all for a pound a minute.
You see no Speedos and no astrophysicists just Kenneth Williams screaming 'I was once a weak man' and Hattie replying 'Once a week is enough for any man' and then someone popping a red card through your letter box saying 'Sorry you were out'.

All life is here, but it will cost you a pound a minute.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

It's what she would have wanted

Fresh from the publishers - the mock-up promo for my new syndicatable London series.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Sartorially Yours

I got to work far too early today by mistake - well it was actually by design, but it felt like a design mistake if you ask me.

I managed to dodge the rain, which was lucky, as today was the first day I hadn’t unnecessarily carried my brolly and my Mackintosh into work - too warm to wear the coat, too much rain forecast to leave it at home. I saw a couple of homosexuals on the way, so that was nice, and a lady who I thought was topless jogging. She wasn’t actually - just flesh coloured camisole/tankini styled outerwear, but she was dappled in sunlight and came from behind a tree, so it was a bit like being in a Ken Russell movie or a Sunsilk advert.

I walked behind a short man with a big bottom for quite a while. It is strange how some men continue just to dress in cheap school uniform syle garb. Nasty cheap shoes and poorly fitting polyester trousers. I know work clothes are only a uniform of sorts, but I think as we get older we should aim to become a bit more stylish and adhere to a few basic principles of classic dress, and not simply ape our George at Asda roots (not that my roots are George as Asda, but this is a generalisation I’m trying to make here). The reason this chap’s mother might have bought his school uniform at Asda was because it was cheap, she had kids, and they can be expensive - if you feed them. But he’s grown up now with a job at the hospital, so he could always choose to wear something nice.

Slacks and disproportionately big bottom aside, from the back he looked like he could have been quite good looking. But you do have to be soooo careful when judging looks from behind. I think we’ve all fallen in love from the rear, and then filed for divorce the second the visage of terror was presented in all its heinous glory. The worse thing is if they smell great, have nice clothes, a shapely neck and well groomed hair. Then, it is too easy to convince yourself that there is no reason in hell why they won’t be A+ on a heel turn. But alas, there is many a gargoyle with a good barber and a sharp tailor.

Turning the corner I was momentarily panicked by an old lady actually saying good morning to me as she walked by. I rallied just in time to return her pleasant but alien salutation. But really, doesn’t she know this is London. Then the basketball court was empty - usually filled with very tall youngsters on roller-skates slam dunkin’, but I suppose it was too early for them what with all the staying up late watching videos; probably at home having some skunk, or a pop tart.

So when I finally got to work, and Olympic™ themed pleasantries with the security staff were out of the way, I mounted my floor only to find people already there! Not from my team, I hasten to add, otherwise I would have still been in bed. I thought about smiling, but please remember it was still very early, so I simply jollied along with a ‘do you two sleep here?’ I suppose if you’ve got kiddies and a partner it must be blessed relief to be able to come to the office at dawn and return home just after dusk.

I wondered what the policy on wearing face packs in the office might be. I could have done with something cucumbery on my lids by the time I got to my desk, as I must look my best you see, for a social event I have tomorrow evening. I can’t tell you much about it due to the numerous security clauses I’ve signed, but let’s just say it’s not in Kent as my co-partier had alleged - but rather practically in Rye. I shall wear that poor KA out! But it’s an outing, and I don’t often get invited to parties, so I thought why not. I’m told they will have a full-size fun fair in their grounds - yes grounds. I wonder whether my patch of grass and small sun terrace (bush and bench) could pass as grounds. Well I think I’m going to run with it until the Trades Description people catch up with me.

Chase me!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Fur the Love of Money

The only problem with wearing furs to work is where to hang them during meetings. I'm quite versatile regarding office based attire, but generally find the middle ground suits me best. A smart casual slack, a Banana Republic crisp cotton shirt and a sumptuous silk tie (often striped) does me just fine. I have also been known to wear a smart jean with my BR shirts, although one of my correspondents worries that this look is too far along the trendy teacher spectrum to be without fault. But what I don't wear is a suit. You see I've long held that if you wear a suit every day, then when you need to step it up a gear; you have limited places to go.

But furs, no I think furs would be great for the office, save for moral and ecological hurdles caused by the barbaric inhumane production, and the issue of moths. For if you were a suit wearer and found yourself at that crossroads with regard to a need to 'turn it up', then the addition of a stole, cape or muff, could just tip the style balance in your favour, and help you with that work based situation you believed elevated dress was required for. That inspection to pass, that interview to excel in, that new boss to impress, that work colleague who you accidently slept with (no homo) following an evening of Lambrini fuelled, squinty eyed, slurring lust, and who has now caught twins - and with whom you find yourself needing to make peace. I know a lot of you like a few pearls splashed across your neck, but nothing says Blake Carrington meets Prince Andrew at Annabel's like fur.

So why all this talk of fur, pearls and Blake Carrington? Oh my friends, but of course you don’t know yet do you? You see I am a lottery millionaire; well not exactly a millionaire, but I have won £83,000 in a work Euro Millions syndicate. Yes me a millionaire (83K) who'd have thought it? Or at least I will be when we win tomorrow. I must say I am a little concerned about the man on the Euro Millions ad. Is he supposed to be 'European'? There are so many looks which encompass the Euro feel, that's the problem with the choice of a single image for such a vast cultural and geographical cocktail. Personally I prefer the dark swarthy, just draped in a towel, at his villa, by his pool, in glorious Grecian sunshine, with meaty forearms stylee if I were to pinpoint a specific continental identifier which suited the milieu.

Three things - Duran Duran's Rio, Creed's Virgin Islands Water and an Arabian promise (new euphemism), they sum up for me, as well as my milieu from above, the Millionaire lifestyle choices I am already making as I plan for my new life away from London. I did want a yacht, and as some of you might remember, I had it out with my Father about him not buying one for me. I firmly questioned what this was really saying about how he felt for me and more importantly how seriously he took his responsibilities as a father.

The waves are already lapping over my toes and I'm drifting back to memories of Ibiza; Spain as you know is where my heart is, and where my retirement Bordello will be. But before I have my Volver years, I need to have my Rio video meets Shirley Valentine years. So I'm off to the sun with my winnings and a grin to find my Euro man and to have a swim in his pool. I'm sure there'll be a mountain café where the lady will make something gorgeous with olives, big juicy tomatoes, goats milk and fresh breads, and we'll laugh and watch the sun go down and drink honey and wild fruits or teas or something. And I shall spend the evenings writing poetry and sending my journal extracts to you all. I miss you already, you are very warm.

Adiós and kalispera

Monday, 23 July 2012

A Moment to Shine

One moment in time……... I've got this song going through my head as I stroll, sun blazing, towards my south circular vantage point for the Torch. It is so nice to finally see the sun, it really is. I walked in to work, worried that getting into the car park would be a nightmare, and that all the roads in the locale would be marshalled by burly outriders roughly blocking my passage and manhandling me at every turn, but unfortunately all was normal, and If I'd had a blue badge I could have even parked right outside the Town Hall if the fancy had taken me. But there were loads of people around, and the Torch route was satisfactorily lined with kiddies and old people alike, and they all seemed quite cheery even though it was far too early and they hadn't been given anything free yet. Quite a few of them had union jacks (or union flags as we now call them), and a couple had stuff with Lisa Simpson committing a sexual act on them.

So before you actually see the torch (and I'm not sure I did actually see the Torch mind, one photo came out black, and the other had a big head in the way) there's all sorts of tomfoolery. First of all there are a number of support vehicles. I'm not sure whether I'm allowed to use the word vehicle - I'll check with LOCOG. Some have got tea ladies in, some have got people with puncture repair kits in, then there's one with all the lovely torchbearers being bussed to their drop off points in the next borough - very much like the shopping service we run for old ladies. Then there's another one, not sure what that one was for although it says 'Your moment to shine' on the side of it which chimes in well with my humming. My moment to shine... well today it's all about my new tie  - gorgeous, certainly the smartest tie this side of Dulwich. Then there are sponsor lorries. Like pride, but with fewer homosexuals. All the 'extras' are doing their best to channel a carnival atmosphere by waving pom poms, swishing their hair playfully to over loud Heart FM stylee music, smiling stage school smiles, and someone, someone even said over a megaphone…. 'Lovin' the noise'.  Somebody shoot me - at least if it had been ITV I could have turned over. So there is a Samsung lorry, then a Coke Lorry and then a Lloyds Lorry, then there's another van carrying spare grey shorted security people in case any of the running ones pop a vein. Then there are some more lollipop ladies, then a film crew and then, then the shell suited flamer (and I've known a couple of them in my time) themselves. Apparently they were stood just near me for a couple of minutes lighting up, but I missed all that as I was busy enjoying the sunshine, the roar of the greasepaint and avoiding getting touched by anyone in the crowd.

And the low point? Well for me, apart from the strong urge to take my own life when the man shouted 'Lovin' the noise', it was probably not getting a free Frisbee.  

Although not wild about the outfit, I'm surprised I wasn't asked to be a torch bearer, and now that I know that you get to keep the torch, and you were allowed to nominate yourself, well, it seems like a lost opportunity if you ask me. And maybe if not a torch bearer then perhaps a volunteer. I said to my brother at the weekend, that's not his name, it's a calendar identifier, that we should have applied to be dream catchers, or dust makers or whatever they are, and then we could have had a lovely contrast trimmed trilby (could be a new euphemism) and a coordinating fleece with NEXT on the lapel. I really could have had my moment in time then, my moment to shine, new tie or no new tie?  

So up west it's all about union jacks and things on lamp posts - a lot of them let over from the jubilee I know, but the Queen doesn't mind and it's cheaper not to have to take them down betwixt events - much like my Christmas decorations. All sorts of artistic japes and hoots going on in the name of T'Lympics festival - painted phone boxes, people in hats, and lots other things like that. Many of the dust catchers look a bit churchy and over keen though, which did put me off a bit. If you're going to be sharing a mini bus with someone from zone 3 you need to be able to rub along and like the same sort of sandwiches. But I suppose a free big Mac's, a free big Mac, whether or not the Lord's (Jesus not Coe) work is affected by your additional time commitments.  

I'm not sure these Games Lanes are going to work though, although I am very taken with the name, 'Games Lane' - perhaps my favourite bit of the programme so far. I was traversing adjacent to the Olympic Village yesterday evening, and behind a Hungary support BMW if the truth be told - just to check on things for you and wink at the armed police, and it's all games lanes this, games lanes that. And they swap over from the left to the right and back again, so staying in the correct lane could increase the chances of travel sickness for a young or an invalid if you ask me. You're allowed to use them until Wednesday, but I wasn't taking any chances as I didn’t want to get a ticket on a school night and the last time I swerved that much I closed the M40 for half an hour. But by George, I'm not going out in my car once it all starts. London roads are going to be a frigging nightmare. I'm tellin' you. Lovin' the noise? Maybe, Lovin' the traffic - not on your Nellie!  

So to conclude, I only have one remaining question and that is 'do the Athletes from London have to stay in the Olympics village or can they stay with their mum and just get the bus in for their races?' I think we should be told.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Showbiz and Ironing (or the fine line between Domesticity and Diamonique)

‘So many men, so little time, how can I lose? So many men, so little time, how can I choose?’

The neighbours must have been thinking that Dame Kiri had moved in but not taken her hormones. What was actually happening below them was that Danny La Rue was rehearsing his next disco classics album. Yes I know. So on Saturday morning, as well as discussing t-shirts and men with my Australian no.1, preparing a season appropriate look for my 11 o’clock ménage (mélange) a trois in Clerkenwell, splashing the social networks with badinage, persiflage and intellectual rigour, I was also channelling Danny.

Dan was singing Miquel Brown’s ‘So many men, so little time’, in a very deep voice. You couldn’t pay for this stuff, (although paypal, using my usual email address, is a quick way to get financial benefice to me, should the urge take you). Gloria had got me to thinking about drag queens – it’s the New York meets Black Cap state of mind you see, and preparing my brunch outfit took me way back to an evening I spent in the company of Ruby Venezuela, her from madam Jo Jo’s, in her own intimate (tiny) club, one dark, cold night in early 1996. 

I had been reviewing the club for Time Out, (it was part of my divorce settlement), and due to the period and the prevailing trends of the time I was wearing an Yves St Laurent shirt – 10 a penny in those days and they all had a little logo on the bosom which said ‘YSL’. I don’t remember the exact colour of the shirt, but the evening was very red as I recall; red wine, red decor, red eyes, and lots of red faced mature gentlemen on the lookout for some restorative firm flesh. MATRON!

‘Larger than ever, Ruby stands over suitably cute barmen, not to mention the doormen, even though with the amount of red wine passing her lips, perhaps she should be lying down.’

‘I’m not saying this space is tiny, but I can see the whites of the act’s eyes, and I’m standing at the back.’

So dear reader, why did I remember this particular evening as I was steaming a chemise, and why did I remember what shirt I was wearing all those years ago? Well I’m glad you asked. 

The shirt I was ironing for my 11 o’clock mélange was a Ralph Lauren shirt, and it had a little RLS logo on the front, which reminded me of the YSL shirt from all those years ago. The reason why I remembered what shirt I had on that night, and the reason I was transported right back to January 1996 was because of a bit of a 'to do' I’d had with Ruby whilst I was there. 

On meeting me, Ruby had given me the once up, and clocking my market grade rags she said ‘Oh are you one of those YSL queens then?’ Innocent enough I suppose but I’d misheard her you see and thought she’d said ‘Oh are you one of those LYC queens then?’

‘LYC’ was abbreviated parlance in the day for the Long Yang Club, which we understood (although my solicitors tell me it is, and never was anything of the sort) to be an inter-nationality loving organisation whose membership was 50% older white gentlemen, and 50% younger oriental gentlemen. I wasn’t a member of said club, and didn’t want to be badged as an old lech, (I was 27 for heaven’s sake!) and so I excitedly (drunkenly) challenged her assumption of my peccadillos, only to realise once the hoo ha had died down she’d only been on about Yves. 

It was a bit embarrassing to say the least hence the file in the memory banks. It was also I suppose the immediate end to what could have otherwise been a long and mediocre acquaintanceship. Anyway 3 letters and the whoosh of a steam iron was all it took.

Please be careful out there and iron safely!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Tom Wakefield - 13 December 1935 - 26 March 1996

From the Archives  - January 2010 (edited)

Tom lived around the corner form my sister Mary when she was on Gillespie road. How many of the Arsenal fans who roamed up and down her street every Saturday during the football season knew that they were but yards away from literary history is hard to say, but I bet it wasn’t very many.

My dear friend Tom was a wonderful man, full of love, fun, history, intrigue and a good thick dose of mischief. He loved a bet on the gees gees and wrote some of the most beautiful books I have ever read.

Before Tom became a full time author he had been a headteacher. Not any old headteacher but one managing special schools in Hackney. The education system was a little different then and Tom had freedoms with his charges - even if no funding, that would not appear on an OfSTED checklist these days. He wrote about some of these wonderful and inspiring times in his books ‘Special School’, and ‘Some mother’s I know’.  Both these books are wonderful personal accounts of someone making a difference and giving life and worth to children usually passed over where opportunity was concerned. He transformed lives and gave so much to the parents, the children and indeed the local community.  Reading about his time as a headteacher is, like reading his fiction, utterly liberating.

One thing about Tom that always had me smiling was that each time he had a new book out, the author picture was always a good few years old, with him smiling up with his pseudo handle bar moustache. I'm sure most writers do this - well I know they do, and I know I would.

Tom’s house in Arsenal played host to many good times, and often when I visited he would present me with a copy of another one of his books to add to my growing collection.  I remember one morning waking up to the phone ringing; it was Tom. We’d been for dinner the night before. Tom would regularly produce some of the strangest concoctions for dinner, and would often serve a hardboiled egg as a starter – with a bit of garnish of course. I loved him even more for this strange avant-garde cuisine. I answered the phone somewhat groggily. The night before we had enjoyed, not the usual boiled egg extravaganza, but instead a beautiful soup. It had been so full of flavour that it was worthy of much discussion. Tom had taken great pleasure in describing in detail the ingredients – many, and the various stages he had gone through in preparation and cooking. The description was as magical as the taste. Tom was on the other end of the phone. ‘I feel so bad; it was out of a tin!’ As if that could ever matter, just being in his company was more of an honour than I could ever have wished for. But the apology and confession were so wonderful and so in character. There was no hesitation and I immediately forgave him, must to his relief.

When I came out of a long relationship in the autumn of 1995, Tom was great. He would have me round to lunch and be cheeky and playful and help me look forward to the future and not be sad about the past. He knew so many people and so when I started dating someone new, it came to pass that he and Tom were friends, and Tom loved being able to meddle and mix and play the role of gossipy fairy godmother.

Tom’s magical books, of which there are many, are inspirational and glorious. Tom’s plots and characters are filled with brilliant observation and commitment to showing the extraordinary lives of those usually considered very ordinary. His contribution to gay fiction is to be celebrated. He wrote fiction which included gay characters as they are; part of the world, just like everyone else, and with a strong sense of understanding that families are made up in many different ways. I don't imagine that Tom ever set out to be a liberationist, but he was, and as a reader and a friend I am eternally grateful for this.

He was only 61 when he died on 26th March 1996, and in the days that followed there were obits in all of the broadsheets, and he received many fitting reviews, celebrating all his wonderful achievements. Amongst his papers a half finished novel was found. The novel ‘The Scarlet Boy’ was eventually completed by Patrick Gale who was a friend and colleague of Tom’s. Patrick wrote ‘To “complete” it seemed a monstrous breach of writer etiquette, yet what I had read was so enchanting that to leave it unpublished would have been an act of cruelty to his readers and to him’. It is strange to think that Patrick is now my favourite author and I drink up his every work in the same way I did with Tom. 

There was a wonderful procession for Tom’s funeral from his house in Arsenal to his local church.  At the service there had been a number of speakers. I remember Rabbi Lionel Blue telling a great story about Tom repeatedly squeezing his leg at a dinner party and then Patrick gave an eloquent and honourable eulogy.

I will never forget Tom and I celebrate his memory surprisingly often and consider myself so lucky to have had the pleasure of sharing a short window of his life, and being able to call him my friend.

Tom Wakefield 13th December 1935 - 26th March 1996

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Crossing the line of beauty

So I remembered 2 things today; quite good going considering I’m not actually on any senior assistance medications yet. Although saying that, I was reminded of one of the things by a good friend, so I can’t really take the credit for that memory. ‘Thanks for the memory……..’
So what was it? What was what? The memory! What memory?........ Oh yes.
That I am in love with Bruno Langley, he from off the Coronation Street previously. Let me first swim then drown within thy dark beauty, and gaze, forever yours, into the dream like pools of love’s abandon, your eyes, your soul, my love.
Anyway, I would lift my ban for just one sniff of his hem.
The second thing I remembered (well remembered) was that I am so pleased that the end of this week welcomes a full year off the booze for me. I’m not a non drink harper, as you know, and am very free and easy about other’s drinking. I’m still a bit of a smoker and a drinker at heart even if I’m nil by mouth in the actual.
So why was I reminded of this? Good question and thank you - it may be best if I speed to the point as I know some of you are very busy and some of you aren’t that interested.
So, bona to vada your dolly old eek. Yes I was at the second Mrs Godwin’s literary salon this evening, to hear and say hello to the most wonderful Patrick Gale, he of my favourite author fame. There were some other top turns reading as well which was great, but Patrick was our raison d’etre and wonderful his reading was too. And so handsome, and very well turned out.  He read from his latest novel ‘A Perfectly Good Man’, and I was gripped, yes I was. Although that could have been the Yasi Katsu repeating – I digress.
Now having trolled there with another unmarried mother, I wasn’t expecting to see anyone else who knew me - lots of people there that I knew mind you, but they don’t know who I am these days, it was 20 years ago after all, and they weren’t wearing their bifocals.
But as chance would have it I did bump into an old chum who I don’t think I had seen for about 15 years – no names, no law suits. Lovely to see her, and her male friend (carer). Now she’s obviously been at the barmaid’s apron prior to our arrival, but she was still walking the line, as Johnny Cash would say. Like us she was very excited about seeing and hearing Patrick. However by the end of the session, the Chardolini had kicked in and she wasn’t at all happy about Patrick’s new novel.
‘Why is he always writing about the past? Why doesn’t he write about more contemporary issues?’ she asked.
Oh dear, she was off - she’d got messy, and this ladies and gentleman is the one thing on the wine list of sobriety I don’t like people ordering.
So, messy, schmessy, what’s a bit of mess between old friends – it usually wipes off doesn’t it?
She proceeded to march up to Patrick at the end and start having a ‘discussion’ at him for being so stuck in the past and only writing about the 80’s. The excerpt Patrick had read hadn’t obviously been set in the 80’s I had thought; perhaps it had a warm summer’s evening glow of vintage times about it, but nothing obvious. Anyway we prised her away, so his fans could say hello and get their books signed. He was unharmed.
When I got back to my seat having had my book signed, she was still at it, defending her right to discuss his lack of contemporaneity with him.  Then she launched into her manifesto.
“Why’s he still writing about the 80’s, he’s done that already in that thing he wrote about the Tory boy, beauty something, set in the 80’s”
“Line of beauty?” we enquired.
“That’s it, they did a version for the telly” she said
“That was by Alan Hollinghurst” we said
“Was that not Alan Hollinghurst?” she asked