Saturday, 12 December 2009

You Bet Your Sweet Potatoes Honey

Back in the heady 90's I was lucky enough to get some work writing for the Independent. Here are the unsubbed results of the joyous couple of hours I spent with Margarita Pracatan published in August 1995.

“I sing Hell-or, and la Bamba, and a few more, you know. And then people say you know people really like it, you wanna send another video? I say yes, send another video, another song. And last year people they say you know they want to know something about you more, can you send a resume. So I send my resume and then after that they say, you know, they really want to know more about you do you want to have it by satellite with, Clive James? I say of course I want to do that, so they did that the last May, 1994. So they did the satellite, and everybody love it, so after that they say do you want to come here and do it, and I say yeah of course and I am here!”

If only all evolutionary theories were quite so simple! Margarita Pracatan arrived in Britain hurtling down the entertainment superhighway that was ‘The Clive James Show’. The homes of 7.5 million innocent bystanders have now been hit by this Cuban bolt of lightning, doing the strangest things to some very well known tunes.

Wild and vivacious, colourful, flamboyant, camp and capable of some very ‘individual’ signing, she was first introduced in a previous series as one of James’ satellite link ups to that strange and warped world on the other side of the Atlantic. She sang Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’ and with one foul blow had the population humming “Hell-or, is me you look for” in a pseudo Mexican accent. Now she is back as James’ regular end piece, each song sung making it harder and harder to define what constitutes music.

If Margarita Pracatan had not existed, Clive James would have had to invent her. As it was, a lady called Ingrid got in there first. “I guess one day I was playing piano in a party, and then this lady that name is, Ingrid, so she a programme in television over there. She say, do you want to play the piano and sing one day on my programme? I say O.K because we are drinking, you know. So she called me the next day, then I went and I play.”

Following Ingrid’s cultural coup, Margarita decided to get her own Public access show, which has now been running for four years; it was here that Clive James spotted her. “People say, Margarita that is nice, so then I went to the public access, and I fill out an application to see if I can have my own programme. And then they accept it.” When Margarita was initially prompted by a friend to send her tapes to Clive James she was very relaxed about what this new horizon could offer her. ”I didn’t care, because I never think about nothing.”

Except she does. She has had to think about it all on her own for a long time. She has done all her own promotion, printing of flyers, arranging of venues. “I’ve been doing my show from my own pocket, I pay everything, whatever I do. I’ve been doing that all my life, nobody help me.” She realises of course that she is not a classical performer who will reach the top through skill and expertise, but rather through her appeal and wit. “I think that the audience like me because I am different, and I got the guts to go in front of the audience and do things you know, because sometime people they are very professional and things like that and they do things. I am very natural, like the audience I make part of my family.”

James on the one hand has presented her as a circus act. Still Watchmaker Productions seem to be pulling out all the stops. As well as interviews and the possibility of performances in clubs and even a fan club, Margarita will be performing at this year’s Edinburgh festival. The press release says simply ‘Bob Downe meets Jackie Stallone for an evening of triumphant cabaret’. I just hope that the Fringe has enough diamonds and feather boas hanging from it. She is very grateful towards Clive James and stresses that his plucking her out was the first time someone else had wanted to do anything for her. “I’ve been doing that all these years, and no one has said, come on we’re going to do this seriously, you know, we’re going to do something for you and I am happy that I have been with Clive James, he takes me seriously, and I am so happy that I want to do my hundred percent, yes.”

Margarita regards fame in much the same way she regards sex; She may have had her fifteen minutes, but it’s what happens after that counts. “It’s only a hobby, you don’t have to have sex, because sex will be like ten, fifteen minutes, O.K you fool around maybe you get thirty minutes, maybe you do it one hour, maybe all night long, but the essence of sex is when it is stopped.”

For now Margarita is happy to sit back and enjoy the ride. She says she loves performing for her audience as much as she hopes they enjoy her performance. She has a special place in her heart for God, children, Gay men and everybody at Saks 5th Avenue, but is open to receive and give love to everybody. “I think they like me because I am natural and I talk to people like they are part of my family, like a human being. Come on! I am here, accept me. I am here to have a good time. I like it to be a big party, you know, when I am with my audience, not like to be there to adore me, want me. I want to be reciprocated.” I’m not sure whether the Windsor’s will have booked their seats for the festival yet, but they need fear not. “I wish they would invite me there, I would love to go there to see the Queen Elizabeth, and Diana, and the husband, to see Prince Charles. Oh that would be good. To be normal, don’t be too much ceremony, to like a family reunion, a private party, not too many people. And then to film it, and then put it on television, with their permission, that would be beautiful”

Only time will tell if Margarita Pracatan sparkles for as long and as bright as her diamonds and eyes, but at the moment there is no way of avoiding her. Her energy and charisma are her strongest cards, both being played to full effect. “I don’t have sex” she confides, “I am celibate, I mean it I am celibate.” Then pointing to her crotch says, “This thing is closed forever. I have a more good time, and have more energy. People say how come you’re so happy all the time, I say it’s because I have everything inside of me.”

Margarita Pracatan will be performing her one woman show at The Palladium, Broughton Place, Edinburgh.(venue 26) On Tuesday 22nd August at 7.00 pm. Booking information: 0131 556 6969 10 am - 6 pm.

At the end of the interview Margarita looked at me and said 'What is your name?' I told her, and she said 'William - I love you!' A very special day.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Christmas Stops Here

So no Ambridge panto this year then!

Whatever next, no pillar box? no pavement ?

However having fully reviewed the information currently available I have reached the decision that all seasonal activity, not just the Ambridge Panto, including merriment, gift exchange, peace and good will to all (wo)men, bread sauce making and consuming and Wassailing should cease with immediate affect anyway.

The reason for this ardent decision is to give the inhabitants of this fair city some distraction free, focused 'them time' to spend doing all they can to get a better handle on:

  1. Use and otherwise of another person's personal space
  2. The downside to dawdling - how to simply keep moving and not get in my, I mean other people's way
  3. Use of ears and eyes to constantly monitor one's immediate surroundings and to take evasive action as and when required for the safety and comfort of others (me).
It would seem to me that as most of the population will need to have intensive behavioural and attitudinal retuning, henceforth referred to as BAR™, in order to meet the required standards, quite a considerable amount of time will need to be earmarked and Christmas will only get in the way and sway focus due to eggnog and mistletoe related distractions.

I know a lot of you have already put a lot of love and effort into lubricating the path of enjoyment, both for yourself and those close to you, and I am sorry if this new ruling comes as a blow. But don't worry as most gifts and yuletide accessories will keep, and everything is returnable with a 'gift receipt' at this time of the year.

So there you go. Can you imagine how fresh the New Year will feel with all peoples 'retuned', moving, looking and listening, getting on with it and utilising a range of consideration based common sense skills. Oh joy!

Do have a lovely Christmas.

And finally from the old jokes home:

Q - Why do Mary and Joseph really like mini babybel so much?
A - Because they love the baby Cheeses




Saturday, 14 November 2009


It’s been a busy few days, I am practically strangers with my sofa, but there seems to have been so much to do. However I don’t know how I get anything done at the moment what with it being night time from about 4pm in the afternoon.

Here are some notes from the last two weeks, and I offer them by way of a chronicle for your amusement and interest.


I seem to be too tired to think today. I have reached brain overload, and achievement burn out. It is only Thursday but I feel like I've squeezed two weeks’ worth of work into 4 days. It is only 5 pm but it feels like midnight. It has been a very busy week, and these early dark evenings don't help, but I think that perhaps the truth is that I am now too old to work and should be given early retirement and or 25 years gardening leave. At least that would mean that the grass would finally get cut, and the gates painted. I have started to obsess a little recently about the spine tingling horror, knowing that early retirement is at least 15 years away and probably more like 20 years away, induces! To think I'm going to have to work for as long as I've already been working is a concept too far. There's always marrying up, but I'm very happy on my own at the moment. There's a lottery win, but that requires guessing the correct numbers - harder than it sounds. So I don't know, but I am reviewing my options and hope to have my master plan fully functioning and risk assessed sometime within the next 10 years. I can't begin to think how tired I'll feel by the time I'm 65.


Thursday saw Robbyn and I going to a wonderful wine tasting class, yes I know, horse, stable door etc, but it was excellent. We had to do, swirling round the glass, smelling and some ‘yes I’m definitely getting some driving gloves here, and maybe a spot of roasted duck’ we did swilling round the mouth and gauging how the wine worked on different taste buds, we did holding the wine in the bottom of our mouths whilst drawing air in to make sure all our receptors got a good blast. Absolutely wonderful.


I met one of my neighbours last night. He came round to share some sad news about another neighbour who has been taken unwell, perhaps terminally. Now my elderly neighbour, who is ill, I have known her for the 10 years I've been in my flat, and we chat and share the time of day and swap ailment stories etc, like a pair of gooduns. But this man who came round I didn't know him from Adam. I said 'have you just moved in next door?' he said' No I've lived there for 10 years' How can someone have lived next door to me for ten years and I didn't know, let alone have never said hello and introduced myself. I felt very bad about that, so shook his hand extra sincerely and told him to keep me posted, and let me know if there was anything I could do to help.

Sadly my neighbour died a couple of days later – end of a mini era for me and very sad.


I got a wonderful message from a blast from the past, someone who I haven’t seen for at least 10 years. Anyway when I first met ‘Alice’ he was just 19 and now he is 30, which made me feel terribly old myself. He came round and it was wonderful to catch up, laugh about the past, remember silly things from long ago, and to hear how lives have moved on, grown and the ups and downs of in between. So my top life advice today is say hello to someone you haven’t said hello to for years and spend a bit of time laughing and catching up.


I had a long and intense sms extravaganza with Adrian mid week; let’s just say he’s not overly happy with my stain control, laundry temperature and general adherence to strict, but basic principles. He’s put me down for retraining. Hotter, longer, stronger, more powder! No it’s not an 80’s porn remake it’s a way of life!


Well all I can say is what a week for me to return to the Archies. Who would have thought that a radio drama based around people saying things like......

‘Have you seen Shula?’
‘You mean Kenton’s sister? No sorry, why?’
‘Oh it’s just that Ian..’
‘Adam’s civil partner?’
‘Yes, it’s just that Ian wanted to ask her where Susan was’
‘Why, is it about the lambing?’
‘No it’s just he wants to crush her skull and burn down the fucking shop so she stops her incessant whining!’

.......could be so wonderful and so compelling. Have another large gin and tonic tiger, that’s all I have to say on the matter.


I wondered this morning at about 10.30 whether it was too early to have a cocktail. I called my Sommelier immediately and she said yes, unless you added tomato juice to it and called it a bloody Mary. Then it’s all kosher and guardian reader and even children can have them.


So on Wednesday night I rehashed one of my old roles, no not Diamante Alas, but rather as international master of ceremonies and glamorous compére for the world renowned Community Education Student Awards ceremony. It is a very popular evening, a little more Argos than BAFTA perhaps, with some church heating fund jumble thrown in for good measure, but it went mostly smoothly. I announced student after student and stumbled through some very tricky surnames, but we all got there in the end and everyone had a fantastic evening. Apparently in the event feedback, some people had commented on how good the Compére had been. It actually said Compeer though.


Well that’s me; I’m just splashing a bit of bleach around now a bit like a priest with the holy water at the blessing of the boats. I’m also roasting some almonds, and then before I go to see the gurlz and my goddaughter I'll try and pen down some ideas for my new rock opera/concept album.

Friday, 23 October 2009

I learnt some important life lessons tonight.

1. It’s not so bad going to concerts on your own.

2. The city is a bitch to traverse and trying to get across it just following your nose isn’t always the best option.

3. I can no longer read tiny print in half light – problematic when one is relying on the A-Z when lost in the city.

So I have been to a wonderful wonderful concert at the Barbican. Whenever I say the word Barbican I remember a rant, I think by Alexi Sale, about the Barb-e-can! I heard Diamanda Galás, Arthur H, Momus, Camille O'Sullivan, Arno and Marc Almond singing Jacques Brel songs – beautifully. An amazing venue and lots of hair on the back of the neck moments.

I’ve returned, finally, to see Question Time with Nick Griffin which seems to be the political story of the week. People have been making reference to the rise of the NF in the 70’s which made me remember discussions at primary school during the 1979 elections. None of us knew anything about politics, obviously, we were 10! I don’t know if we even knew what the NF stood for. I don’t remember being aware of what racism was. But I clearly remember someone telling me that that if the NF got in, they would abolish schools, so we wouldn’t have to go any more. Milk Snatcher got in anyway, and the rest, is, unfortunately, history. Maggie Maggie Maggie – out out out!

Someone asked me today whether I wanted to donate to the postal worker’s support fund. I said that I would if it went towards getting my fucking letters through the door. I’m sure the CWU has a very extensive strike fund, so I won’t be donating.

Getting back to the TV, which I seem to have started watching again after several months of none/very little. I have mostly been enjoying Escape to the Country, Ru Paul's Drag Race, Newsnight and This Week, but last night I caught Secret Millionaire. I haven’t blubbed so much for ages, apart from the breast cancer care QVC special last week, you’ll have to excuse me for that one. And talking of Breast Cancer Care - please do send them some money this Christmas - they are an amazing charity. I know many people give charitable donations at this time of year so once you've sent a few quid to the Albert Kennedy trust at please send some money to BCC at

Oh well, Friday tomorrow – thank frig!

PS: as always - better to view this at the website - then you'll see any video links

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Are you comprehending my definition?

So, yes I know I'm as street as the next honcho, or is it poncho - oh it's all so confusing these days.

But anyway thems of you what wish to hipity hop in a batty boy stylkee now have a get out of jail free card with new 'no homo'.

This allows one to go jigggy jiggedy wid it, but not to actually be a batty boy. So you suck, then you say 'no homo' then you fuck and you say 'no homo'.


From the urban dictionary:

Phrase used after one inadvertently says something that sounds gay.

His ass is mine. No homo.

As this is quite a complex concept, some americans have produced an instructional video.

Enjoy and learn.

No Homo!

(PS: you'll need to actually go to the blog website to see the video

Sunday, 18 October 2009

The Joy of Reading

My Mother’s bedside table was always piled high with books, like the walls of a great castle. There was strength in those literary walls, and she certainly obtained a great deal of strength from her literary life. She loved books of all kinds, but in particular poetry. Her favourite author was Thomas Hardy, and from her love for him she developed a love of Wessex. We used to decide what books to buy her based on their weight rather than necessarily the content. At each birthday and Christmas I would scour book shops and the internet to try and find a new take on an old favourite, or a new collection of poetry, or an otherwise hidden literary or historical gem.

When she died earlier this year Dad invited me to take some of her books if I liked. So over the past few months I have brought a handful back each time I have gone to visit him. I have now amassed what is known as the Zena Godwin memorial library. I have tried to take books which I remember as having significance for her, and one day hope to get through them all. There is Betjeman, Hardy, Byron, Woolf, Seamus Heaney, Vera Britain, Tennyson and Brooke to name a few.

Growing up in our house one would often hear or ask the question ‘Where’s mum?’ this would usually be answered with ‘upstairs, reading’. It’s where she went to get away from us I suppose, and to revel in a fantasy world a million miles away from family life in Leamington Spa (Royal).

I'm with her on that one though, as I too have used reading to create a little bit of time out and personal space when sharing a home. And there is nothing worse than the noise of someone else’s TV viewing when all you want is a bit of peace and quiet and time on your own. The bed and the book can therefore be a wonderful refuge, a place of quiet escape.

So I do love reading, and have become a bit like mum with several books piled high on the bedside table. Some I have given up on, some I am reading, some I will come back to, some are good for little bits of dipping into, and some are sitting their enticing me to finish my latest so I quickly move on and start to enjoy them. Some I may never pick up and will move back to the shelves or be given away as presents. I am usually focused on one, but like to keep my options open. You'll see from the pic that I am starting to build my own castle walls and have plenty to choose from.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Hey Mr Postman - post a fucking letter!

I decided to write to the Deputy General Secretary of the Communication Worker's Union (CWU) this evening as I've reached the end of my patience with this 'action'.

Just fucking deliver our letters for fuck's sake why don't you!

Dear Mr Ward

Can you please tell me why all these weeks of disrupting my post is supposed to make me support your claims? Won’t it simply make customers and companies choose other post distribution options?

You really are pissing the nation off now - so when are you going get a grip and start thinking about the customers. Yes I am a union member, and yes I understand the issues, but ultimately the delivery of services is about the service user/customer’s needs primarily.

I work with a lot of social workers for example, and yes if they had an industrial grievance I would support them, but ultimately I would be more concerned for the old ladies who were going without a service, and would put their needs above an industrial disagreement.

You are digging your own grave which is a shame as the royal mail used to be a good service when your members went to work. But someone else will come along soon who will deliver the post – face it you aren’t.

You will win or lose the people’s hearts based on whether you deliver their post on time or not. If Christmas stuff sits in sorting offices, and isn’t delivered like last year, you’ll find plenty of labour voters hoping that Mr Cameron, when he gets in next May, will get another company to manage the nation's post.

William Godwin

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Too Much Service

Don't get me wrong I like a good service as much as the next man, and I know I would be quick off the mark to complain should I receive a bit of your actual usual standard British customer service. But you can go too far I says.

Having ordered some music from the the other day I perchanced upon this email in my inbox this morning.

'Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved "Bon Voyage!" to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, October 5, 2009.

We hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. In commemoration, we have placed your picture on our wall as "Customer of the Year." We're all exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!'

Do you think they are taking the piss?

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Give, Give, Give - Run, Run, Run

After a hard week in the office ensuring the infirm of South London are smiled at, the Rozzers are up to speed with the hoodlums, and enough Library books have been checked out I don’t know about you, but I like to relax with a marathon. In fact I’ve just finished my cool down session pre typing.

It does feel good though, and I am so pleased with myself. Today’s first marathon, my second of the weekend, was actually a slightly shorter than marathon fun run in aid of Breast Cancer Care. It started at 11.30 am and the first place winner came through the tape about 17 mins later. It was sometime later that I finished, but still.

My first marathon of the weekend took place last night on the Southbank and took 3 and a half hours. Some of it was really tough going, but I think once I’d reached the halfway stage the adrenalin started to kick in and by the end I was really enjoying it.

My third marathon, well snickers actually, is waiting in the fridge and I shall be running into the kitchen to get that just as soon as I’m able to crank the winch up!

Ok so I haven’t just become a super fit Lycra wearing bond girl/beardy boy conglomeration (although I think it is good to have something to aim for in life) Last night’s marathon was Brecht at the National - Mother Courage and her Children. It had its ‘drama workshop’ moments and there were a couple of songs which we could all have done without, but it was a vibrant and interesting production with great live music throughout. At the interval it seemed that nearly everyone in the audience needed to do a big elephant wee. There are never usually queues for the men’s loo. But I suppose everyone has a drink before they go in and the interval wasn’t until we had already ploughed through 2 ¼ hours of the great man’s work.

The fun run was real though, but I was treasurer and marshal not actual runner. I gave all the runners the clap they so richly deserved - handing out the ‘taking part’ medals (you all know my views as to whether it is actually the taking part that counts or not) No silver blankets as it wasn’t that hard. All I can say is ‘Vada the omee-palone bona lallies’. But as well as having to carry around all the entrance fee money, so being a key mafia target – we did make a lot of money for breast cancer care, I also had a walkie talkie. The thing about me is, that at heart I am a boy, so boy’s stuff is great, and a walkie talkie is in the top 10 of boy’s stuff all time greats. Now I didn’t use it for a lot more than asking for more tea, and asking for lost property announcements to be made over the tannoy. Next year I’m hoping I can be promoted so I can whizz round the place in a golf buggy. In fact I might even get myself a golf buggy for personal use anyway (more like a mobility scooter).

So that’s me - all culture and good works. Now all I’ve got to do is get through all the weekend papers, finish last weekend’s papers, read Time Out, finish Attitude and Intelligent Life, finish The Hours, start Michael Palin's new dairies, then it will be bedtime and another week will start. The circle of life is a heady one. Only another 15 years until I can retire!!!

Keep warm, as it is Autumn/Winter now. I’ve heard scarves are in this winter as are warm jumpers – so get knitting and look out for your neighbours.

Monday, 28 September 2009

News Just In

So apart from my clever brother being 3rd story on BBC entertainment news today a few other stories have caught my ears and eyes.

Firstly Delroy Smellie - now how does one get through school with a surname like that? I ask you - near on impossible. It surely has to be the worst possible of all monicas. Anyway whatever pain he felt at school it all seems to have been worthwhile as his bully boy tactics were caught by the hippies on camera - and he is going down. I mean you can't just go around hitting ladies with sticks just because they look a bit pikey. It makes me want to cancel my application to be a special constable.

Worry not dear friends I am not really up to be a bobby, but at work we are all being encouraged to sign up to be special constables. What is the world coming to? Now I look as good as the next man in a uniform - (for pictures please send an SAE and a 47p postal order to the usual address) but I can think of better ways to support my community other than by being a hippy beating traffic warden. Don't get me started on kettling! although I do love a nice cup of tea.

Now there was nothing about tea in the news today - more's the pity but can I please get some thoughts from you as to Roman Polanski. Have I entered an alternate reality, has society's views on sex with minors changed overnight?

It seems so strange - no one is calling him a Paedophile and there is no baying for his blood. People whose babies have pierced ears aren't marching on wapping - no homeless people have been burnt for accidently looking a bit shifty. Am I missing something here? He seems to be in receipt of world wide support. I am sure there is a perfectly good explanation, and it'll simply be that I am not paying enough attention.

Cage fighting - now I've heard of dog fighting and chicken fighting - but cage fighting? But even better to be known as a  former cage fighter. It does have a certain ring about it. Anyway him wot i refer to is one of the securitas robbers and he's been banged up courtesy of the Morroccans. The answer is, of course, that if you don't want to do the time - don't do the crime. Aparently we have good extradition arrangements with Morrocco - Polanski better not go there for his hols should he ever be freed!

Oh yes and now over to our health expert.

I wouldn't have the flu jab if I was you, probably do you more harm than the flu.

And on that note I shall leave you, apologise for being so irregular with my ponderings and then only coming up with this drivel.

Food for thought, if nothing else.

Over and out.

Monday, 31 August 2009

And the Lord said - Don't do today what can be put off until tomorrow!

I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something but have been putting it off for a while now.

Procrastination, don’t you just love it. It is a safe place, a place within boundaries known, it is here. However it stops us getting up there. But if we go there something awful might happen and we may even end back down there. Best to do nothing and put up with the status quo.

Today I took procrastination by the hand, well throat actually, and throttled it, I swung it around the house a little, put it down and wondered whether I was in fact doing the right thing, but then picked it up again. I killed it, and I am up there, not still here or back down there, I have moved on, successfully and positively to a better place. I have won. Savoir faire!

Now what is this life changing event I speak off, it must be mammoth, of rapturous importance, of life changing significance!

Well it’s not actually, but that is how things are in life, we procrastinate about small, little easy things, we put off, we play safe, we don’t oil the squeaky hinge, we don’t change the washer on the drippy tap, we don’t cut the grass, and we don’t upgrade our broadband.

For it is the very medium on which I traverse to you via, that I have been procrastinating over. I wanted to upgrade my broadband from 2 Meg to 10. It was a couple of quid a month extra and dead simple they told me. That was over six months ago. I’ve been paying since then of course, but it hasn’t got any faster. Why? Because they sent me a huge box which would have suited an electrician planning a maisonette rewire. This was going to be a huge, huge job, a job I would get wrong, a job which would require endless calls to India, a job which would need me to enter passwords and set up codes long lost. I couldn’t do it.

But I needed to do it. It was silly to pay for a quick service and waste the money receiving a slow one. So I added it to my list. The Bankers get a round to it list. Having been away for the last two weekends I was looking forward to a long weekend at home getting on with things. I was going to cut my grass (my most common procrastination since the gardener left), repaint the kitchen floor boards, sand down and repaint the front door door frame, fit a new bolt to the back door, get my hair cut and wire in my broadband upgrade.

The list was there, as plain and simple as daylight. There was nothing between me and completion. So on Saturday I got up late, and thought, well it’s the first day of the bankers I can take it slow today, I’ve got Sunday and Monday to chore it up. So I pottered into London’s west end and had my piece tweaked at the barbers, I then came home and enjoyed and evening of reading, laundress duties, fine dining, juices and cordials and slow speed internet communications.

On Sunday I was up with the lark, listened to Fi, Sandy and the Archers and cracked on. It’s like when you are putting off jumping into the pool, you know it is going to be cold and you teeter on the edge for ages, then you just flop in, screech and the all is fine. So I got to the front door, sanded it down, got into the car went to Wickes and got some paint, came back, painted the door frame, started to paint the kitchen floor, went back did second coat on door frame, braced myself for the coldest swimming pool ever and then dashed into the garden for a very sore back making half an hour of grass cutting – a bit like going at Rapunzel with some blunt toe nail clippers, but I got there. Later on I did more kitchen floor and then relaxed with some Colin Firth and some Malbec. I had done very well, I was very pleased, and I had beat procrastination, for that day anyway.

So today, without thinking I get all the pieces out from the various drawers and cupboards and look at the huge pile of wires, the splitter, the new connectors, the 5 set up guides etc, etc,. And then I do something I hadn’t done before. I used my highly evolved analytical skills and reviewed all the contraptions, wires and manuals. It then dawned on me, like a message from the Gods via lightening, that for my set up I required only a small fraction of the parts. I guessed which these would be, quickly assembled them, turned everything off and on again, and do you know that in less than 4 minutes I had broadband and having tested my speed it is giving me 9.6 mbps compared to the 0.96 I had before.

Now I still have the bolt to do, but I feel quite confident about that, and I have added a new item to the list – put the books in order. I didn’t have time to teach the finer points of the Dewey Decimal system to the librarian before he left, and they need to be put back in author, rather than size order.

Don’t put it off, it probably won’t be as bad as you thought, and it’ll be over quickly and then it’s done! I’m a fine one to talk!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Don't Eat Too Much

As I motored through glorious south west London it seemed to me that everyone in Clarhm and ButterSeah was jogging. Now I've seen joggers before - I am, after all, very cosmo - make mine a large one - politan. The difference is that these joggers look fit, streamlined and lovely. The joggers near me are often of the jogging slower than walking brigade and some have bottoms large enough for a family of four with au pair and large SUV!

I shouldn't be discussing the spread of the cheek though; I should be grabbing it, not the cheek, but the spirit and running after them in an ONJ head band! Why? I hear you say. Cos - I DON'T WANT TO DIE!

But I am to die, though hopefully not for many years, but I'm thinking if I donned a velour leisure slack, borrowed a walkman and got trotting myself along the Rye - I may increase the number of years between now and the final countdown. I know I am a wonderful specimen of a man, but I also know that I am a bit fat. As my father said to me yesterday in one of those father-son stylee moments

'You're Getting FAT!'

How we laughed about his usage of the word getting - how. The truth is though that I'm actually not too bothered about girthage, but more concerned with being fit. As long as my heart, lungs and circulation are happy, I'm not so bothered about being larger than dear Pater would have me.

So - yes,.... um, so.......

Well I have been looking into it. Since the Wii Fit has left home I won't be able to ski board my way to a healthy heart. I could go jogging but my bum is far too pert, and far too small. So there is only one thing for it - I'm joining the army. Private Godwin - get down and give me ten! Yes sir - I mean Sergeant!

Well I'm not actually going to join the army - that would just be silly, and it wouldn't be anything like those art movies I've seen. But I have found a place whose website did put me in mind of the New Avengers and there was a picture of a black Land Rover Defender (my sort of car porn).

BMF - British Military Fitness. They do it in my park and they do a slow beginners class for unhealthy people like me. So it'll be me and lots of yummy mummies wanting to lose their post breeding rubber ring. I think our class will run at the same time as the class for fine fit things, so there is always the potential for a glimpse of a firm man thigh to keep me from, or lead me to, cardiac arrest. Basically it is PE outdoors, but without the need for producing the obligatory 'Sorry my son can't do games again this week - he's still gay' letter from your mum.

So there you go. I am yet to sign on the line, there's a bit more sitting on the sofa contemplating it over a glass or two of fine Bordeaux to do first before I sign up and get off, I mean get on.

But you never know - I did give up smoking - so anything is possible.

However, to be on the safe side I have also updated my will. So if you get a visit from a solicitor clutching 2 brass candle sticks, an arts and crafts book shelf and some 1968 ‘The Killing of Sister George’ Lobby Cards, then you'll know the Bordeaux got me first.

Yours, in peep toe sports espadrilles.

William H G Godwin III

Monday, 10 August 2009

Does my bum look big in this?

So what is it about being slim? Why are people obsessed about being a size 8, when actually most of us look fine as a size 12 - or even a little more outsize?

People are forever stopping me in the street and asking me 'Will how do you keep so slim?' Well they don't actually, and no, it has nothing to do with my mashed Swede diet. Sometimes though, people who haven't seen me for a while and remember me being slim with a goatee are a little surprised to see me with the full Captain bird's eye and maybe an ounce or two (llb or 7) extra. It does cast me in a slightly different light - (certainly casts a slightly different shadow).

When I was a young man (think Sepia, think Boer war) I was very svelte - I had the metabolism of a very fast thing, I could eat what I wanted - and did, and never put on an ounce. I liked being slim and accidentally showing my flat stomach if the occasion merited it, and all that is fine and dandy when you are young and bouncing around and regularly going to night discos, rallies and cabaret.

But these days I am happy to be a slightly less slim middle ager – in fact it suits me down to the frigging ground. With turning 40, I think I finally reached my actual age and everything about me fell into place. I can finally turn into my dad and not be embarrassed by it. Not everyone is so happy though with anything non svelte, and a lot of the boys out there worry about whether they’ll get the looks and the dates. Last week a friend of mine who is a little older than me and as svelte as the day is long and as svelte as I ever was in my heyday, was bemoaning the fact that being older and no longer slimmer of the month are two key obstacles against securing either benefits, friends with benefits or a potential mate.

However I think a fixation with being gym perfect and as light as a feather are unnecessary as we approach the afternoon years of our life. I don't think you can only hook a mate if svelte, I know plenty of people who like a slightly chunkier man (thank god). But also one's allure, I believe, changes with time, one's attractiveness matures and develops and the things one is attracted to also change and mature. I’ve certainly never been adverse to a bit of meat on a man (some vegetarian I am).

I think people shouldn't worry about it so much. You're all gorgeous, and slim or large there is someone out there who will find you gorgeous and go funny in the tummy when they think about you in your pants.

Personally I've had all my mirrors adjusted by the Council so when I look into them I am 13 stone 6 ft, slightly tanned with dark blue eyes and muscular hairy forearms. It's only £3.40 a month so I thought - why not?

Oh well – don’t ask me why, but it's good to share.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Surely everyone's met Lulu?

It all started this morning with muscles, big man arm muscles. For some reason the sorting office had a queue – very unusual for a weekday morning, but I think like most other people in the world they were just going a little bit too slow, until the fast man came on and the queue went down in a minute. I like the fast man he is always friendly and efficient, whereas some of the other guys just dodder and botch. So where do the muscles come in, well whilst I was waiting I had time to idly vada a workman over the road. He was sweeping and his arms were moving like the pistons of a steam engine. They were accurate, firm, purposeful moves which resulted in an efficient sweep and a pleasant observational study for me.

So chopping block in hand, for that was the purpose of my trip to the sorting office, I began to motor on to work. The shoulder muscles of the workman must have stuck in my subconscious for I started to recall other muscle extravaganzas from the dusky archive. I remembered in my early days meeting a theatrical troupe over from America. They were performing in London and my companion and I were entertaining them in our Zone 2 Georgian duplex. One of them was so nice, and so sweet and so lovely and had such unnecessarily large muscles and a very tight t-shirt, but in a nice sexy gorgeous way, not a plastic, over tanned sterile way – which you see a lot of these days – or you did, maybe you don’t so much now. What would I know anyway – the last time I went anywhere where people wore tight t-shirts Princess Margaret was still alive! I digress. Anyway I remember taking every opportunity to accidently touch his lovely arms – he didn’t seem to mind. And if I just add that their would have been opportunities a plenty for bouncing nickels – you get the picture – let’s just leave it at that.

So that got me thinking about D-Ream – things can only get better – don’t ask me to explain my thought processes as I don’t control it. I did have a bit of a thing for Peter Cunnah – I thought he was, what the young people call, a dish. Somehow and I can’t remember how, I think I was at some launch or something, or chatting to mutual friends in a bar, and he asked me whether I’d like to come to his party at Heaven. Well of course I did – tartan trousers withstanding. Well the wine was flowing and Peter was very friendly – a really lovely guy. My drunken exit found me scouring the party to find Peter to thank him and bid him farewell. Well I got a kiss good bye, so as I was walking out, I thought, I think I’ll go and say good bye to him again – how sweet. Blame youth – the eternal get out of jail free card.

So that got me thinking as to whether I’d ever been to any other celebrity parties. Well yes I have as a matter of fact, just the one or two. I remembered going to the after show party when Babs last played in London. Now she was far too famous to grace her own party, but I did get to see Barbara Knox and Lulu – so you can’t say I actually missed out – celebrity wise.

So then I got thinking about Vivienne Westwood. I did once go to a tea party at her house which was very nice, and she was lovely, but I also remembered being at a publisher’s bash and being stood next to her, in a Westwood jacket, saying to her ‘Vivienne I hear you have an eye for fashion, what do you think of my jacket?’ She leant over and said ‘Don’t be silly William, I know it’s one of mine’. That was quite a good night actually - it was in Kensington at that lovely roof gardens place. We had to cross a picket line of angry lesbians though who were protesting at some of the publisher’s raunchier, steamier publications. But there was wine to be had. Never let Politics get in the way of the Grape – now who was it who told me that…………….

And just as I started to recall the night at Claridges with Julie Burchill I arrived at work, so the thinking had to stop. Ah well it leaves more for another day.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Everybody Needs Good Neighbours

I have just inducted, I mean met, my new neighbours. I thought someone must have moved in when I heard the shrieking and banging yesterday and last night. I can't help it that I take myself to bed this side rather than that, of midnight. At my age you need as much beauty sleep as possible.

I've been neighbourless for a while which is a treat as it means no noise, but the poor woman who owns upstairs needs her revenue so I can't not let her get tenants - although if anyone does know of a legal loophole do pop it on a postcard to the usual address.

I'm so glad I did get to see them though as I don't get to know all the people who come and go upstairs, but I like to let them know who I am and that they've got a warm gay man living below.

So they were four young girls, they all came round and we had some wine and the chat - all lovely, I'm so pleased as girls are always best as neighbours as they do care and can be bothered. They are all in their second year at Kings and love sex and the city. One of them looked so like Cynthia Nixon I had to mention and then Charlotte was also there I think. They agreed with me that Carrie Bradshaw has a face like a horse, so I gave them some wine as a house warming present to cement our friendship.

The key thing for me, and why it is so important for me to say hello in the first week, is that their kitchen is over my bedroom. So when they are chilling out in the kitchen having a wine, cocktail, Panini, or entertaining a man friend or someone from church, it has a lot of potential to keep me awake. And don't get me started on their spin cycle and the possibilities that has to make me need counselling.

I heard them shrieking with laughter as they returned to their flat so they must have found some amusement in their new neighbour and his abode.

But I am pleased, they seem lovely and I look forward to sharing my wine and wisdom with them.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Down or Off!

The lady in the bakers was being asked 'thick or medium?' by the girl, but the lady was deaf, so could only reply 'pardon' so the girl went, a little louder 'thick or medium?' but because the old lady was deaf she could only say 'pardon' so the girl put her face right up over the counter and directly in front of the old lady. She was so close there was probably condensation on her specs from the old girl's breath, and shouted 'THICK or MEDIUM?' The old lady did hear this time, but couldn't quite make her mind up. The need to make this decision gave her a little panic. Finally she opted for medium, which I suppose has something to do with the war and needing to make a loaf last. I was only in for a sandwich myself, would have been quicker and quieter to drive home and make one myself, but then I wouldn't have the joy inherent in sharing.

So I don't watch the telly anymore, I can only have quiet or classical music. It's not so much an illness, but it is potentially a disorder. Since coming back from the Hebrides, outer, which was so peaceful and just me and the mountains, I've tried to keep up the quiet. Going to work on Monday was a big shock. If you can imagine being sat in a dark quiet room for a long while, getting nice and comfy, calming down, soothing, meditating blah blah, and then the lights going on - full beam, and hundreds of people shouting 'SURPRISE!!' and blowing kazoo style apparatus - well coming to work was a bit like that.

I mentioned at the management board meeting that we should introduce a no talking at work policy to try and keep things a bit quieter. After all, as I said by way of explanation, 'people don't come to work to talk - this is a place of work' It wasn't agreed. Oh well. In a previous office, I worked with someone who was unable to ever, ever shut the fuck up, and who spent the whole blinking day mumbling away to herself, giving a frigging running commentary of every action and every thought, and an announcement of what she was going to do or think next - you get the picture? Firstly I put up a big sign on the wall behind my desk which said 'Talking in this area is strictly prohibited' Throughout the day when my dial clicked over to full - I would point at the sign forcibly - with a stick. She would then laugh and continue her inane blabber. In the end I managed to persuade my boss that my computer was broken and unfortunately the only other spare desk with a computer on was at the other end of the office. It was bliss.

Some people have to have the telly on whether there is anything on or not - like an armour against boredom perhaps, or in case there is an awkward silence.

So to conclude today's sermon has been about having a bit of P&Q and the wonderful health and spiritual benefits thereof. I'm not actually thinking about taking holy orders, although listening to Radio 3 I do get to hear evensong and it does make you want to be in a beautiful church, listening to beautiful voices, singing beautiful music. I'm sure as many people are regular church attendees for the music as are for the religion.
God bless and keep quiet.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Travel Delays

Dear Reader, I have just come back from enjoying 5 days in the Outer Hebrides. I did a lot of chronicling whilst I was there and will blog accordingly over the next week or so, but here is the tale of a man delayed, a man with low blood sugar, low battery, and low tolerance for common people.

Hoorah my flight from Barra on the little 20 seater was great. It took off from the beach and all went smoothly to plan, although I was a bit worried that we were going to hurtle out of the sky at any moment. People don’t use the word hurtle so much these days do they -I digress. We landed at about 5.50 pm so I had an hour to kill at Glasgow airport before I could check in for my London flight. I used the time to catch up on emails having finally returned to the land of t-mobile coverage.

So yes, lovely, mmmmm, it's now 9.30 pm and my flight is NOW not due until 12.30 am, not the 8.45 pm as scheduled. Cunting, tit, tit, fuck, shit!

All I can say is that I've seen more nasty blouses to last me a lifetime. Who styles these people? And they are all either shouting or running for their gates at the very last minute - no doubt too busy eating fried food to keep an eye on the boards. Everyone seems to have silvery bags and children with NHS operation haircuts.

400 Rothmans and some Cinzano Len - HURRI!

I've been using my phone so much to pass the time on the interwap and to ask my brother to come and pick me up that my chuffing battery has run out of juice and my charger is in my case - note to self there me thinks.

'Tracey Marie - stop hitting Jason Carl!

There's a girl on the phone telling her mate she's delayed and hasn't got any money to even buy a drink. I might give her a couple of quid - why doesn't she have a switch card though - even the queen mum had a switch card.

They're calling each other now using grunts and groans - from pub to KFC the family can still communicate. Like whales across an ocean. Thank heavens I'm so tolerant I hear you say - thank heavens indeed.

I'm now thinking she can't be normal if she hasn't got a switch card. She sounds a bit Sloaney too, so maybe daddy's stopped her gold Coutts card.


I gave in and gave her £2 - last of the big fucking spenders I hear you say. Oh it doth runneth over. She's shimmying to Boots as we speak - as it closes.

Now I'm worried that she might want to come and talk to me. If that is the case I may offer her more money to go away.

I wonder whether a cocktail might be in order?

2 and a half hours to go.

There seem to be lots of old people in capped sleeves with shaved heads and sports gear. VERY scary, very barrow boy (man). They look like the sort of people who'd burgle you.

It feels as if it must be at least tomorrow - am v v tired now. I would have been due to land in about 10 mins - had all gone to plan.

Now there are lots of girls in matching black and pink outfits - I suppose it must be for a hen party trip - how local! Everyone else seems to have left - a few people sat behind me - all look normal so must be on the London flight.

Oh no - 3 more Magaloofers have just scuffled by - can't actually lift their feet up - leggings are too heavy obviously.

7 more lads with sports tops and NHS operation haircuts - I hope they miss their flight - that'll teach them a lesson in punctuality. Sorry am tired now - no need to be so bitter about the differently gifted.

It's just us and the delayed Bristols (Phnar!) now.

I suppose there'll be 3 final calls now for some backward magaloofer and their feral kin.

So sweet the sound of charity as his kind words doth flow from his heart of give, of fairness, of kinship. Oh Joy! and unto thine.

Earlier a very pregnant lady (cushion no doubt re benefits) tried to get me to sign a direct debit for the Red Cross. She asked me where I was from and when I told her she said 'We love handsome guys from London - they're minted!' I asked her how long until she dropped - 2 weeks. I can only hope that the disappointment of not securing my direct debit won't bring on her contractions - well you can only hope!

4 magaloofers are delaying the departure of their flight so the announcement says - not quite sure why they don't simply go rather than holding the whole flight up. It's actually Bourgas - Bulgaria I believe, but it's not steeped in as much degrading snobbery as the term magaloofers so think on. It's not so pleasing to me, the writer, the tired London writer.

She's not actually emptying the bins - she's just grabbing the top layer of detritus with her bare hands and transferring it to her cart - Bring out your dead!

Down or off - someone is playing Norman Cook very loudly. I suppose if you haven’t had too much opportunity for education - sorry I can't help myself. I'll stop now before I start a class war. I do like Zoe Ball though.

My 8.45pm flight left at 3.10 am.

America's Next Top Fatty

Saturday, 20 June 2009

For Your Queen

Now I know I don't have the oldest one in stock, but my grandmother could give Bobby Old socks, I mean World War I veteran Henry Allingham, who is now the world's oldest man, weighing in at 113 years, a good run for his money. She certainly doesn't need another person to hold her champagne glass for her. But she isn't quite 113. But she is on the cusp of her very own world record. For in a couple of weeks she turns 100.

Now, I know what you're all thinking and I agree, yes, what would the queen mum do? Well first of all she'd have a very large gin unt tonic - well they are German aren't they? I don't know it's all pickled cabbage to me. Now the Queen mum, gawd bless 'er, reached the ripe old age of 101, and yes I bet Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was a bit ripe towards the end; cat, pants and Lilly of the valley - that sort of thing. My gran looks like she might out live us all - god forbid, and after a recent short stay in a bewilderment therapeutic facility, she is now back in her old people's home asking where's Daisey repeatedly, don't ask but it is normal for her. Daisey was her sister, but towards the end of mum's life gran kept referring to mum as Daisey. and there were a few heart stopping moments when asked ' Where's Daisey?' us thinking she meant her sister, we said 'she's dead' when all along she'd meant 'Where's Zena?' We then had to explain that Zena wasn't dead, just avoiding her as she found Gran's confusion and endless repetition, well let's say she found it a challenge.

Anyway, why have I got on to the Queen mum, well because when she turned 100 it was very simple to get the queen to wish her all the best. She simply had to toter out of Clarence house in something yellow, have an aide hold her G&T and her daughter would waft passed in a carriage waving and saying 'Happy Birthday Queen' for that is how she referred to her late mama. In addition there was probably some sort of wonderful banquet hosted by Charlie, and they probably would have put the old dear near to her daughter, so again there would have been plenty of opportunity for familial banter along the lines of happy birthday old girl.

So we mistakenly thought it would be equally straightforward to obtain the customary telegram from the queen, although it's probably a photocopied email these days, wishing our old girl all the best from her Maj! But alas we were all mistaken. Our first foray, when I say 'our' I refer to my brother, found that a form was to be completed and a copy of the birth certificate sent in way of application. It couldn't be done more than a couple of weeks in advance so as to avoid the tax payer having to cough up for unnecessary photocopying if the recipient didn't quite reach the allotted number. However we have subsequently found out that a social worker has to go and meet with gran, to make sure she wants it or something or other. All very strange to me. Anyway as with all these things it has turned into a palaver and required dad to speak firmly on the telephone telling people what he will be happy to assist with, and which of their suggestions need to be revised.

So having told the lady that he would meet her at the nursing home to attend the meeting, but not at 'some time' between 10 and 12 which they were hoping to flog him off with, they agreed on 10.30. And she got a bit of customer service re-education into the deal, which I thought was nice.

So there we have it, all finally sorted, someone will come out to make sure my gran wants the telegram, and then at the allotted time she'll get it, be non plussed by it and ask 'Where's Daisey'.

But no, the plot thickens. I receive a mysterious telephone call today from someone with no communication skills. It goes, a little like this:

Lady: Is that Dr Godwin?
Me: No this is his son William Godwin
Lady: Only I meant to give him a message earlier
Me: Well would you like to tell me and I can pass it on to him?

At this point you notice that she hasn't told me who she is, where she is calling from, or what the nature of her interruption is.

Lady: you see on the 26th there's an appointment between 10 and 12

I flick to the relevant page in the desk diary by the phone, and quick as a flash...

Me: It's actually at 10.30, dad has spoken to them and agreed that it will be 10.30
Lady: Oh I see, it's just someone will need to be there
Me: who, someone from the nursing home?

The lady hadn't mentioned she was from the nursing home, i thought she was either from the telegram depart or the social.

Lady: No, a member of the family
Me: Well Dr Godwin s attending at 10.30
Lady: will, he be able to arrange to bring a member of the family
Me: He is a member of the family and he'll be attending so there will be a member of the family there.
Lady: Oh thank you

God only knows what is wrong with the world that people who spend all day dealing with other people including liaison with their families on a regular basis can't even begin a telephone call with 'hello, this is nurse swifthalf calling from the facility'.

Gawd help us all. But I think it means she will be getting her telegram, although Liz won't be delivering it herself or throwing a banquet. I may score her some chocolate Brazil nuts if she's very lucky.

All the best, keep warm and don't answer the door to any strangers.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Pulling no Punches

Part 2 of my occiaisional and non chronological memoirs.

I was interviewed - if you can call it that by a lady who looked a bit Like Miss Diane from Crossroads but with darker more Suzie Quatro stylee hair. It is strange but I can picture her so clearly. She had a nasty little regulation waistcoat in purple with the brewery logo on the breast. Nicola was the bar staff supervisor. I don't know whether that was an official title bestowed on her after reaching spirit level 2 at the Birmingham headquarters or whether it was a common law title which she took and the poor tired landlord couldn't be bothered to argue with. He was too busy arguing with his wife! I think it was probably because she did it as her full time job whereas the rest of us were jobbing actresses - university in betweeners, second jobbers, evening jobbers, heavy metal fans who wouldn’t be able to hold down a normal job or college students topping up their grants.

We were a motley crew, colourful, came in all shapes and sizes, were roughly all of a similar age 18 - early 20's. Apart from Gloria, who was about 70. She helped out at lunchtime, and again I think had been doing it since just after the hop had been invented. She was very good at mending the glass washer, looked a bit like Dolly from Personal services -'Dolly - you're a man!' and once told me a story during one of our many cigarette breaks out the back, about going away with her brother and being told off for using too much toilet paper! How friends confide.

The interview took place in the loose box, yes how quaint. The pub you see was called the coach and horses, and the old bit of the pub which I used to prefer to work in where all the old biddies would drink too much too early in the morning was known as the Coach, but the newer, ‘livelier’ bar next door was the loose box. It was where the ‘younger’ crowd would go. The Burton’s brigade, girls who drank taboo and coke, their boyfriends in identikit smart casual. How divine, just my cup of tea. Drinks were more expensive in the loose box to take account of this swish, ‘clublike’ experience. And yes there were bouncers on the door who had a baseball bat for when things got a bit out of control, as they usually do when you get drunken teenagers without any brain cells together in one small place with girls to impress and ancient rights of masculinity to master.

I do remember the front of the pub being smashed in one night when someone wasn’t allowed in. How quaint – how Dickensian more like. I always tried v hard to secure shifts in the coach. Although often worked in the loose box during the day where it was more of a shoppers’ lunch stop - very convivial and fantastic roast potatoes which I used to consume by the ladle full. Thanks heavens I was svelte in those days – I was unable to put on any weight and remained a glamorous size 10 well in to my thirties.

Ah yes the interview – it was in the loose box mid afternoon just after the lunchtime shift had finished. Nicola was very impressed with my academic achievements - 3 A levels and 7 O levels under my belt with a place at UCL to read Philosophy on the horizon, my substantial CV – Boots the Chemist (cook shop), babysitting, adult literacy teaching (it was years before I could add dog handling, art appreciation, care for the elderly and wine tasting). I suppose I would have been very polite, very well presented, had good experience of dealing with people in a retail environment. But let’s face it I could be relied upon, string a sentence together, could add up quickly in my head and wasn’t going to start a fight, at least not unless provoked!

The job was mine, and I loved it. I think shift work really suited me, and it was a very social job, most of my friends drank in the pub, I liked chatting to old ladies, what more could I ask for. Oh and those cheese salad baps!

One of the first things that struck me was how bossy old people were and how much they would drink (Pot and kettle I hear some of you saying). Firstly there was Mary, Irish, tight black perm. Now woe betide anyone who was in her seat when she came in. It just wasn’t done. Like the poor bastards that did sit in her seat I had no guidance, no briefing sheet handed to you on arrival. So when I first served her a half of Guinness, I didn’t know she only had it in a certain glass, but she did, and I only made that mistake once. It had to be in a ladies glass. A ladies glass for heaven sake she looked like a bus driver in a bad acrylic wig! Then there was the old guy who always had a glass of water with his Pint of Guinness. Again he didn’t ask for it, we were simply expected to know and accept the grimace and snarl (good name for a pub) when you didn’t give it to him. He was like the Benny Hill Character with the thick specs – Cosmo Small Piece, but skinnier and older – mac wearer. There were a lot of mac wearers, but I’ll come to that later. My other old bossy person of whom I did wrong on first serving was another little old lady (with hidden strength) who would come in of a morning after she had done her shopping. She’d always have a sherry. And why not, a sherry after shopping is a lovely thing. So on our first meeting she walked up to the bar, half Ethel from Enders and half faded Barbara Castle, and asked for a schooner of sherry. So I got a sherry glass out and filled it for her. But no, that wasn’t a schooner, a schooner, as I was soon to became acquainted, was a vase like looking half pint glass masquerading as a sherry receptacle. So a half pint of sherry it is madam, anything else – a wasp to chew per chance? Oh I am sorry is that madam’s normal face. Then there was a very funny old French woman who looked a little bit like Maureen from driving school meets SuBo but with a touch of Piaf about her. She was a dying breed, for she was a mild drinker, and half a mild in a glass with a handle is what she required, and what she was duly served.

I think there is something very important for these old timers about being able to walk into the pub, be greeted with a ‘hello enter your name here’ from the youngster behind the bar, followed with a ‘your usual?’ and to find your favourite seat by the gas appliance to be devoid of stranger. So to that end I fulfilled my role and made them feel as if they were important even if they weren’t.

So to the mac wearer. His name was Brian and he was a weasel of a land that time forget stylee nhs specs wearing weirdo. Again a bit of a Benny Hill dirty old man. He did actually wear a dirty old mac. He would always sit on the bar stool at the end of the bar next to our escape hatch, so we had to pass him every time we left the safety of the bar to go and collect glasses, have a fag, empty an ashtray etc etc. Now I think about it I don’t like it that he was sat in such close proximity to the young firm flesh that was us the staff. One night when I was in socialising on a night off, me and John, one of the other bar staff, had been playing the fruit machine, forever in the hope of a big win, and having a general laugh. Brian was always on the machines and we knew him to be a bit of a gambler. Earlier in the night he had shown me a photocopied sheet detailing the alphabet and for each letter there was a rude drawing. This must have been very early Gestetner porn. I can picture his screwed up Steptoe face now, looking to see if there was a glimmer of excitement in my eyes. B is for Big Boobs!! Hold me down won’t you – call the nurse! I don’t think so. So towards the end of the evening he said, and I have to apologise here for my ridiculous naivety, he said ‘I’d like to play with you’. Now I thought because of all the gambling chat etc etc he meant, and I’m so sorry for my stupidity, I thought he meant he wanted to have an after hours game of cards or something. But I wasn’t sure. So I asked him what exactly he meant, and he said ‘I’d just put my hand down the front of your trousers, I’d give you a fiver!’ A fiver – I didn’t get out of bed for anything less that £42.50 in those days. I was shocked, I was appalled, and I was confused as to how to handle this vile unwashed, slightly damp proposition. So I thought on the spot and said to him that the answer was a definite no, that he should never speak to me or any other member of staff like that again and if he agreed to that we could consider the matter closed. He sheepishly agreed, and he actually didn’t come in ever again. I told everyone anyway. But really I was prime teen totty, a fiver, the shame of it. It was the first and last time I was offered money for favours of the flesh.

Working in the pub wasn’t all plain sailing, getting frisky offers from dodgy old men and having to find the right glass for the right old biddy. No, there were the dogs. All pubs have dogs, part security, part communal companion, but the dogs here were like the ones from the Omen. Not once did I think they weren’t going to have one of my limbs off. Nasty Rottweilers, barky, make you mess yourself scary, fast running thug dogs! Each time they came down into the bar I would stand flush to the wall in hope of my life. They would usually be following the Pug Princess, one of the most annoying and ugly young ladies I have ever met. She thought as she was the land lady’s daughter that she was some sort of cut above the rest of us. What she didn’t realise was that actually she lived in shit boozer and was way ugly. Anyway the dogs would follow her down the stairs like Satan’s foot soldiers. She would frolic with them as if they were toy poodles. But I wasn’t going to take any chances.

Every morning we'd have to bottle up. This meant counting how many spaces you had on all your shelves and going out back to replenish appropriately. But to get to the store shed where all the bottles were kept, you had to cross the yard and pass the kennels, or even worse the dogs may actually be out in the yard. Their owners you see were under the misapprehension that these devil dogs were in fact homely play things. We would work in pairs keeping look out and if necessary throwing hunks of meat in the opposite direction in order to create the smallest of windows of safe passage. Once in the shed you were fine, but then trying to get back to the pub was just the same. If you remember from Tom and Jerry, Tom creeping past the big sleeping dog in the yard, it was very much like that. Luckily my time at the pub passed mostly without scar.

I think if anything scarred me during my time it was the night Duncan left. Duncan was one of the key bar staff and previous to my arrival had been the stalwart of the rota and a smiling permanent fixture. He looked a bit like Alan Davis if I remember correctly, in fact it might have been Alan Davis, I’ll check that later. For Duncan’s last night they had arranged a bit of a surprise. The word went out that there would be a bit of a lock in after for a private staff and key regulars only party. So there we were, we’d cleaned up and I’d kicked off my mules and was on my second brandy and babycham. Obviously people had been buying him drinks all night, he was a popular member of the staff and the locals liked him. What he didn’t know was that all night long the manager had been topping all his drinks up with vodka. So come the end of the shift and the start of the celebrations he was unable to stand up shit the bed drunk! Then in they came, San and Trace aka the fat slags. I’m not sure where they’d been hiding, but they probably been upstairs in the flat powdering their love bites. It was real reader’s wives from hell stuff, they soon had themselves and him stripped off. He was lying helpless on the bar floor as these whores of Beelzebub mimicked sitting on his face and riding his shit the bed drunk cock. It was cruel; it was like watching an animal being bated for entertainment – dancing bears, monkeys in top hats, that sort of thing. I knew it was wrong, and it made me so angry. I remember everyone else thinking it was so funny, and laughing; no one thought it was out of order, offensive or a cruel circus spectacle. Presumably for many of the assembled gaggle this was the first and perhaps last time they would ever see the flesh of another human being and so they were making the most of it. Anyway I left as soon as I could after a struggle with the drunk land lady who was refusing to unlock the door in a ‘forty two and no bra – not bad eh’ sort of way.

However, don’t get me wrong I did enjoy my time and as I draw this sorry tale to a close, the thing I remember most is how John used to swap all the Radio 2 stylee tapes sent by the brewery to be played during opening hours with mix after mix of gay dance anthems and HiNRG, not one punter noticed, they all bopped away, never knowing that they were listening to poofs music! You should have seen the Burton’s brigade getting on down to Man to Man’s Male stripper, Sinitta, Divine and Hazel Dean – they’d have messed themselves if they’d known. Oh well and Hoorah!

Monday, 1 June 2009

On Mother Kelly's Doorstep

Danny La Rue - the world’s most glamorous woman
And the most charming man in the business gone but not forgotten.
I know you were sad when dear Jack Hanson died,
And now we are the sad ones and oh how we’ve cried.

My brother let me know - it was all over the news
Annie Galbraith told the world and now everyone is sharing their views
I’m glad she was with you and you’d not been ill too long.
All the papers are saying you were a huge huge star, and they are not wrong

I remember I met you once, you seemed to me so tall
In a blue velvet suit with fancy trim it was at the Drill Hall
You had a huge smile and said ‘I’m so famous you know’
You beamed and announced ‘They call me Mr and Mrs Soho!’

I even went to your club once, but just for a drink,
this was in the 90’s so was it still yours? I don’t think
I have over the years become such a huge, huge fan
I’ve got all your stuff, pics, autographs, movies and show programmes

My prize possession apart from come spy with me -
‘Settle down, get out of town and say bye bye, bye bye‘ on DVD
Is the menu from La Rues – all French and fancy, very outré
Mixed grill la Rue, oeufs au lard and my great favourite – crepe Danny!

So now you are top billing - drag queen to the stars
Dear Daniel Patrick Carroll we remember you, so fond in our hearts
Who will now sing mother Kelly and all the other old songs,
We’ll miss you, your drags and your riches we’re so sorry you’ve gone

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Can You Smell My Charlie?

If like me you require to be informed of all the news you may be interested to hear that I have been holidaying in the Balearics? If not please sit quietly whilst the adults talk.

What can I say except what a fucking lovely place, what a vista Bonita. Truly I think Ibiza is up there with some of the most wonderful places I have ever visited - Capri, Rome, Teignmouth etc. As Adrian said when I told him 'Now you understand why I go to Spain so much!' yes i do. We stayed in a lovely area (I won't use the word resort if you don't mind - it has so many connotations, which I choose to avoid) called Santa Eulalia - on the Radio 4 side of the island. Our favourite hangout was a bar/restaurant right at the end of the strip and right on the shore. The view was so Shirley Valentine meets The Beach - truly wonderful. Our villa was also gorgeous, two suites, two pools, several terraces, gardens formal and less so, patios - the works - very 'Hello' or 'HOLA' as I think we say in Spain.

And what a great time to travel - we were the week or so before the season began so the place was quietish, although all restaurants etc were open, there was only a splattering of visitors. Most of these were to be avoided and slightly overweight.

We flew Easyjest which wasn't my first choice, but our only choice at that time of year, and it was actually a very good service. We payed the £10 each to be first on board which meant we got the legroom seats which made all the difference. Lovely friendly staff etc etc, and the panninis - couldn't be surpassed by anything you could have microwaved at home.

So as not to have to be dry on our first night, (I had no idea of what the shopping or restaurant possibilities would be on arrival) we up wined at the airport and arrived appropriately stocked. A lovely Marlborough for Justin and a nice Merlot for me. Trolling through duty free I decided upon the name of my autobiography having called out to Justin that I would be requiring 'Makeups and Cognacs!'

So we were all set. Our key stewardesses were lovely one was Mexican - very Gloria Estafan, and even though she did sneeze I didn't hold it against her (or importantly develop swine fever symptoms) the other was English and a bit simple. Her name was Jo so every time I called to the real Jo, she would look round. So when I called 'Jo - can you smell my Charlie?' you can imagine there was a some room for confusion, consternation, contemplation and sheer 'What?' I soon cleared up the fact that I wasn't talking to her and explained that my baby mother was also of the Monika. She got that. But then she wanted me to explain what 'can you smell my charlie?' meant. Well I started at a safe place - Victoria Wood - dinner ladies? Julie Walters, Thelma Barlow? No - she'd neither seen or heard of any of them. So I had to explain that Charlie was a cheap but popular perfume from the 80's - still nothing. I then had to, I'm even dreading the typing, try and explain the potential double entendre between a popular strong smelling parfum and a part of the body with comedial potential for being slightly unwashed and therefore of fragrance. Luckily it was all too much for her, she was completely bemused and tottered on with warming the pilot's baguette and giving the safety demonstration - Holy PHEW Batman!

Whilst I’ve got your attention I think it is only fair to share with you that I think I may be on the turn. And no I haven’t developed an insatiable desire to become a lady gardener or anything like that, not that I’m against heterosexuality – it does, after all, have some wondrous outcomes ‘ahem’, but it’s just not for me. But I am worried that I am losing some of my homo sensibilities. Firstly I thought I’d found the gay district of Santa Eulalia, but it turns out that Homologado means accredited not gay log cabin action. To make things worse there was a shop on the same strip called MAN – you can see how I got confused. It turned out it was the boat building district. Plenty of double entendres available I am sure – cheques to the usual address please. But no, the big hint to my ungayness happened last night. Whilst the gay men of Europe were gathering at each other’s houses with boas (feather not constrictor) cocktails, flags, glitter eye shadow and Terry Wogan RIP banners we were busily settling down to some course grain mustard mash and a wonderful sweet potato and goats cheese pie (Oh dear I think I have just exampled my way back to Gay). Our lifestyle Gaydar is just not working. We didn’t know it was the Eurovision Frigging Song Contest. Luckily I realised in good time - thank heavens for the BBC website being my home page. Like Graham himself we weren’t sure whether he was going to be able to replace Terry, but actually, and I don’t usually say nice things about Graham Norton, he did very well. A hard act to follow but I think he made it his own whilst maintaining some of the style and necessary feel/temperature etc required.

But what a great show, some really good songs. I went immediately for France (Chanson) Sweden (Classical cross over - lots of white) and Moldova (fantastic dancing I could only dream of being able to copy – it hasn’t stopped me trying) And UK was ok and we came 5th which is very good for us. Silly Norway won because the lead singer was apparently cute – looked like Harry Potter with a squashed face and a bit cross eyed, but lots of people go for that look I suppose. So well done dear Norway – they have had more nil points than most of their neighbours. So to Oslo we go next year. I will put it in my diary so I don’t forget, and make sure I have some glitter eye shadow in hand just to be on the safe side. The other thing I forgot was the Dulwich festival which is usually the fine purveyor of a range of middle class artistic adventures including an Open House. I have already emailed the organiser to ask for next year’s dates – But I can’t complain – the key reason for missing it was my sojourn a Balearics. Muy Bueno.

However, as Rolf does so does Justin - yes I am being a bit Queen like today after all in as much as I am having my portrait done. Justin has just sketched me and taken a number of photos of my features. I’m hoping he’ll knock a couple of pounds off and have me looking around 28. We shall see and of course I will share all in good time. So maybe not all is lost.

Getting back to Spain, and can I just add that as hard as I looked there was not a sombrero or wicker donkey to be found (much to my disappointment). Now I’m as Eurocentric as the next person, happily speaking louder and clearer for a second or third time if at first I don’t succeed in getting my point across. But surely there are no ‘directives’ outlawing the continual loop like singing of ‘Volver’ or at least the chorus (for chorus read shouting VOLVER at the top of my voice in a Brian Blessed Stylee). I saw it as a tribute to the majesty and grandeur of my Spanish environs, but the looks I got! However I digress.

In other news there is a lot of anger on the east dulwich forum regarding the removal of the clock at Sainsbury's 'Yes we wash everything by hand too'.

But as with real life this drivel must now come to an end.
All the best and keep warm.


Thursday, 30 April 2009

Bea Arthur - RIP

I was very sorry to hear about the passing of Bea Arthur last week. Yes I watched the Golden Girls; it was part of the new gay man lexicon , so was unavoidable. But there was so much more to her, which I am finding out about only now. For example I never knew about her long running series 'Maude' which was her first big break on TV.

I was reintroduced to her some years ago when, whilst channel hopping one evening, I came across an episode of 'Malcolm in the Middle' where she played Dewey's babysitter. The episode was a two hander, not all the usual manic rep, just Dewey played by Erik Per Sullivan and his babysitter played by Bea Arthur - it was magical.

I have just found a clip of this wonderful piece of theatre which culminates in them dancing to Fernando and Bea being taken off in an ambulance - please go and look. She won an award for the piece.

When I heard last week I had a look on amazon for things of interest relating to Bea Arthur and I saw that she had done a one woman show on Broadway a few years ago. It is a very tried and tested format, some would say tired and tested, of songs and anecdotes, but with the right actor it can still be lots of wonderful fun. And this one was - great stories and great songs.

At one point she is talking about working with Tallulah Bankhead and they talk about a gay colleague. Bea tells the story of what Tallulah said - 'Let’s face it Beatrice, there’s a touch of the homosexual in all of us. It’s not the cock and it’s not the twat, it’s the eyes don’t you know and sometimes the smell of lilac’.

So there you go. Rest in peace and well done everybody.