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

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Savin’ all my love 4 me or 0 out of 10 for effort

Dear Readers,

As we approach this most joyful time of year for Hallmark, Thorntons, Champagne style wine producers nationwide, and Hugh Grant, let us just reflect for a moment on the joy togetherness alleges versus the known peace of the holy state of single.
I’m often asked whether I am ready to put the sturdy walking boots of love back on and set off up dating hill. But let’s just say I am still having therapy inducing flashbacks on a daily basis from last time. If love comes knocking, tell him I’ve got one of my heads.
You see you have to be so so careful with the suitors, as there is plenty of opportunity for poor choice and misguided judgement. This can be brought on by sentimentality, sherry, sex hormones (sorry ladies), and in some - thank heavens not me, desperation and a phobia of being alone. 
But surely I hear you call, surely we are all finally well-adjusted enough in our dotage, having been through the mill enough times to have learnt all those silly silly lessons and recognise all the silly silly games. Surely now we are strong enough in our understanding of what we need, and importantly for the mature dater (other websites are available) what we certainly don’t need, to stand up and not take any nonsense. Surely?
Well if only it were that simple. Beware!
For they have tricks ready to conjure from up their sleeves, they are wily and will tantalise you, not with a true picture of themselves, but with carefully edited highlights of their personality. Putting a positive spin on their dysfunctionality and hiding away the more annoying family members, they will pounce. They will lure you towards a Truman Show version of a beautiful sunset, then when they’ve got their feet under the table (your table), and you have started to grow fond of them - BAM!
This is when they start to put their master plan into action; they work quietly and without warning to turn otherwise pleasant moments or occasions nasty at the drop of their twisted witches hat. This will come completely left field to you and you will be to blame. You will have triggered this crash of happy energy by unknowingly not living up to one of the many points on their exacting, but never shared, list of what they want you to do and say, when and how.
No wonder you weren’t sure what to do and missed your cue - no one cued you! No one even showed you the script. You didn't even know there was a fucking script; you thought you were having a nice relaxing afternoon. Wrong! STUPID! DUH!
Now, I have regaled you with stories of my track record (derailments) in loving before, and some of you have even had the unadulterated (if only there’d been some adultery) joy of experiencing a lot of my traffic in the actual. So to those of you, I apologise if I am repeating the same old stories, but for the rest of you, and by means of my Valentine gift to you all - here for your amusement and hopefully your education are some comedy highlights from some of my spine chilling less successful forays.
For one, my greatest fault was I never got the right gift at the right time. Very poor I know. This would be explained to me through the expressive use of mood and inharmonious disquiet. So for Valentine’s Day I might have bought them a new jacket, some new trainers, some movies, books or music, you name it – all lovely gifts yes? No, don’t be silly, they were wrong – they weren’t romantic enough gifts, so I shouldn’t have given them (I was actually told this). My desire to be nice and give lots of lovely things was, I thought, the way to go. Generosity and imagination have always been my words du jour regarding gifting and I thought the gesture and the motivation were the romantic parts of it all, not the detail of the stuff itself. But no, silly.
Another time I planned on buying a nice ring, as this was a big, big issue. You see this one had bought me a ring, but I had also had it taken off me several times, and told that I didn’t really deserve it and it should never have been given to me in the first place. So I realised that a ring was the thing, and a big want at that. So I thought, I don’t want to marry this fucker, but I am happy to lavish a token of affection if it will calm the old goat for five minutes. But no, silly.  I did it wrong again, I told him I would like to get a ring for his birthday, and asked for hints at a preferred style, and confirmation of ring size. I’d seen the ring Aidan bought Carrie, I know how these things can go. So all good, a sensible plan, can’t go wrong! No, silly. He didn’t want it for his birthday - that was the wrong time to give a ring.
Oh dear, what was I to do? – well you’ll be pleased to hear - that straw led me to inform this one that he was ungrateful and impossible to please, and so mean not to share this detailed rule book by which he was expecting me to live and by which I was failing on a daily basis. I also made it clear that he had just ruined any chance of ever getting a ring at all! Yay me – go William!
Now I don’t want you to think it was just my lavish gift giving that I wasn’t very good at. No, silly! I also got greetings cards wrong. Once, on opening a very fine Christmas card, I was told ‘I didn’t know that we were going to buy humorous cards for each other!’ I said that we hadn’t actually discussed the type of cards we were going to buy, as I hadn’t known there were right and wrong cards (silly me). He wasn’t having any of it, he didn’t like it, and it was very unthoughtful of me. How dare I!

The real problem I suppose was that he wanted one which said 'To my darling boyfriend on this our special Christmas together, may the angels and the baby cheeses bless our love and cement our union, for thine is the kingdom the power and the glory, world without end Amen. Well no, it didn’t say that. But it did come with more presents than you could shake a stick at. Just not good enough William!
Oh and I could never get the TV right either. As you know, I don’t really care for the TV that much apart from Take me Out, Downton and anything with Joanna Lumley or Sue Lawley in. I think the problem with this one was that he was a bit too ITV for me, although he tried to pass himself off as a BBC3/Channel 4 combo. The other thing was that he wasn’t that keen on P&Q so the TV provided the correct dose of white noise he needed to function. This went head to head with my desire for quiet. So even though I smiled and put up with the TV, feigning great interest in all sorts of valueless shit, I did like to turn it off whenever I got the chance. There was one wonderful instance where we were watching some drivel, and he said that he was going into the bedroom to do his exercises. He normally took about 30 mins to workout, so I thought I’d be alright to turn the TV off. But 30 minutes later when he came back, he asked why I had turned the TV off ‘I WAS WATCHING THAT!’ My protestations that he had left the room and gone to do something else fell on deaf ears. I should have just killed myself then, I know. But I found it easier to just have another large wine and tell him to fuck off.
Once I got told off for watching a documentary with my brother about the Royals if you please. This one had had a real go at me afterwards saying he hadn’t enjoyed it and ‘hadn't known what to do or where to put himself’. I said he could have always mentioned that he wanted to watch something different or left the room and gone and done something else. But no, Silly! That was the wrong answer and not in the script. How dare I!
ENOUGH ALREADY! I’m exhausted remembering all this joy.
Oh my, what a lot of to do do, but some sound reasons I think you’ll agree for why the walking boots of love remain hidden under the stairs, and why I say tread very wisely in love my pretties. Be open to its glorious possibilities, yes, but by God be ready at a moments’ notice to run for your fucking life.

Happy Valentine’s Day my Darlings

Post Script
Can I just say to those happily together, and those looking forward to the joy a good relationship can bring, please do bear in mind that the above is a) mostly written for comedy purposes, and b) only using one person’s extra bad experiences.
For all of you who are in a happy pair, or who are looking for love, I wish you every success, and unless they are a twat, have serious baggage they omitted to tell you about, or are just plain rubbish, then there is every chance that you could be happy. And I do hope that you will be. But please, the second they start to get on your nerves, aren’t nice to you anymore or start demanding that you change or put up with a sub quality standard of happiness in the name of keeping the relationship going – run like the fucking wind, and don’t leave a forwarding address.

We all know people who have stayed in relationships longer than they should have done simply to avoid an argument or because it’s cheaper to share the cost of the verruca cream, I am one of those people. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and now that we are all grown up and the masters and mistresses of our own lives and destinies there really is no excuse. Only stay in a relationship if you are really happy and the other person is nice to you, and the whole thing enriches your life. Otherwise pack a bag, leave a note, catch the next stage coach out of town, and get on with your life in peace.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Spent, but not Spending

I’ve nothing left; I’ve given it all up. I’m just a shell, left empty by my former addictions. I’ve even given up two new things as part of my New Year’s Resolution (Revolution) Suite (NYRS).

I’ve now given up spending money on stuff and nonsense, and will be ploughing the millions saved back it the Godwin Foundation’s Charitable arm*.

I’ve also given up wasting so much time on the internet** (also helps with the not spending)

So how do I plan to fill the void left by all my newly former vices?

Good question!

Well for a start, the Godwin Foundation will keep me busy planning an extension to the east wing, and having the windows washed on the back bedroom. And I have decided to actually read all the piles of books I’ve bought over the last few years. This, like my diet, has taken quite a bit of building up to. I have so wanted to read more; all of last year I tried to make myself read more. I have the books, I have the time, but I haven’t quite been able to put two and two together. I had several serious chats with myself about it, even a couple of rows. But now I have done it. You see the beauty of an NYRS system (NYRSSYS) is that it is a Paddington hard stare in the face of procrastination.

And after all that, it was very easy, I just went to bed 30 mins earlier and picked the book up, and opened it (not rocket science you see, although it felt like it was when I was trying to talk myself into it last year).

Luckily because of the day job I hadn’t forgotten how to read and none of the words were too big. AND I really enjoyed it. I will be doing it again, every night before lights out even. All I need now is a light I can operate through a series of claps - now that would be good.

I’m thinking I should write a guidance pamphlet called ’Beating off Procrastination - how to stop and start all the things you really want’

Chapter 1:     JUST DO IT FOR CRAPS SAKE - IT’S NOT THAT HARD, and it’s not going to kill you, you just think it will - it’s an h’illusion!!!

Chapter 2:     Please disregard advice given in chapter one if you had Astro physics or a serious heroin habit on your list.

Chapter 3:     I’m hoping chapter 3 will be ghost written by someone with an ology so as to give plenty of Eat, Pray, Love, film stylee option opportunities. Although I’m not having Julia Roberts play me, oh no. Goldie Hawn is more my rank. I’ll get my NY production people onto it - that’s you Glo, just as soon as I’ve checked the vegetarian options and found someone to write the score. Is Elgar still working? Didn’t he do that Chatterley thing with Kenny Russell and Ollie Reed?

My only sticking point with using the NYRSSYS advice in chapter one is I haven’t quite been able to make it work for exercise. Although I have traded in my weekly car park permit at work for a half weekly one, so as to force regular walking half of the time. I suppose reading is easier because it doesn’t hurt, not spending doesn’t hurt, not drinking doesn’t hurt - but walking up the chuffing stairs instead of taking the lift! Julia Roberts or no fucking Julia Roberts, are you trying to kill me?

With all this talk of NYRSSYS, and all the solution focused love I have to offer the world it makes me think that maybe, after all, I should have done a Christmas Message to the Commonwealth.

Each year I do always plan to do a round robin stylee Christmas newsletter to share, packed full of dry comedy value and tongue in cheek (or tongue and cheek as Charles Aznavour once said to me) yearlong observations. But I never do get a round tuit. One of my closest advisers said if I was pushed for time I could always produce it as a New Year’s message, like the one David Cameroon does, we’ll if it’s good enough for him why not the Duke of Dulwich himself?

But what could I offer?

Well I would notably review how myself and the commonwealth has fared over the past 12, very well thank you for asking. I would pick out some of the key Royal visits, I am out of my post Switzerland counselling now so that would have been OK to use. I would showcase some of the cultural inebriation I have wallowed in, as highlighted in my previous instalment, even though as I hadn't seen Charles Dance in anything last season, some of you have suggested I shouldn’t have wasted the ink.

The laughter, the tears, the formula 1 racing drivers and their Monaco love nests, the gastronomie, the great British countryside, the rough hands of the French military, the hats and the hair pieces and of course the roar of the greasepaint.

I would then, importantly, want to offer some lubrication to eeze you into the New Year. A glimmer of hope perhaps, an offering or two by way of sharing, and some sturdy advice from my 42 years of patient learning.

But I haven’t really got time, you’ll be relieved to hear, so I’ll just leave you with my key thought from the family planning leaflet I’m pulling together for the ED WI. I’ll be off cataloguing my collectables if anyone needs me.

‘Keep yourself nice and don’t mix men and Margaux’

* all foreign coins to charity
** Independently verified by me

Saturday, 7 January 2012

A Year in Culture

As Camus always says ‘Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle. This is why any authentic creation is a gift to the future.’ My thoughts exactly!

If Music be the food of love, play on, and pride comes before a fall, a stitch in time saves nine and nothing for a pair, not in this game.

I do like a spot of culture, I can’t deny it, although it must be said I am a creature of habit and don’t often stray too far from the National or the Tate. I love the Southbank; in fact it is one of my favourite things in London, being next to two of my other favourite things - the river and the view from Waterloo Bridge.

But saying that I do sometimes stray, and have, like so many adventures off the beaten path, often found some great joy in cultural corners less trodden (both mixing our metaphors there Mrs O).

And even if what you see isn’t the best thing ever, no boat was floated, no tears were formed as you screamed ‘author!’, it’s been a new experience, a night out, your horizons have been broadened a little and you’ve been taken away to somewhere new for a couple of hours or so. All culture is good for the mind and soul, even if you question its quality or validity. Look it’s made you question, got you thinking and discussing.

So as 2011 drew to a close, I went off piste, otherwise in a good mood, to Sadler’s Wells, where I hadn’t been since I saw the Rambert on the opening night following the SW’s major refit of 1998. My sister’s company was a major sponsor at the time, so I got to have a canapé, a good seat and some nice men in tights (lords a leaping) all courtesy of a FTSE contender. 

My fond return after so many years was for Matthew Bourne’s Nut Cracker. Well I suppose it all depends on how well fitting the tights are. My lady accompanist asked by way of deciding which seats to purchase ‘How close do you want to be to the balls?’ Really! I mean! But that’s the ladies for you, very forthright in their approach and always focusing on the nuts - I find. Anyway an excellent production, very much enjoyed, although with ballet, I do keep expecting someone to say something and then think it feels a bit strange when they don't.

How we love the ladies. It must be said, I do spend a lot of time with the ladies. My brother, for it is he, always asks when I say I’m going out; yes we do live together in a big showbiz house, ‘are you going to the theatre with a lady friend?’ And of course invariably I am. Well if I am ever to take/find a wife, I must practise curtsying, pinning a corsage and laughing at ponies. How gay the ladies are.

The new cultural year, for it is now 2012, was joyfully christened with some Gerhard Richter at the Tate Modern last weekend. This was followed by a skinny latte and a brie and grape sandwich in the Members’ Room with my afore mentioned brother. I only buy soft drinks now, and spend the tax saved on shoes. And excellent it was too.

2011 was certainly varied in its cultural pursuits, and looking back, as I am just about to do in edited highlight form, reminds me that it was a very fine vintage. So which cultural puddles did I splash in during 2011?

First there was Gaugin and Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds at the Tate Modern. Now the Ai Weiwei was very good and terribly interesting even though my companion kept on trying to get me to distract the security guard so she could assist some souvenirs into her handbag. The Gaugin I could take or leave, and wish I had left. But I was still on the wine then so the day was saved by a large Sauv Blanc or was it a suave blond?.

Then there was a visit to one of my favourite places in one of my favourite places, in one of my favourite places. Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall. Gorgeous, very much looking forward to going back in June!

Next up was 12th Night at the Cottlesloe. Excellent and very funny. It was a very special production as well, as former Director of the National Theatre Peter Hall returned to direct to celebrate his eightieth birthday. Tickets were very much along the lines of hen’s teeth and ginger nuns. The only down point was the lady with the zip and the speed of the old people – thank heavens there wasn’t a fire. Full details previously blogged here.

Later on in Feb I experienced some young people doing a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and some other young people talking and rustling their crisps throughout. Well it was Catford. Not bad though apart from the scene where the set started to smoulder. Well if you will use lampshades to set the scene what can you expect!

Two days later I made two debuts, the Southwark Playhouse and some Sondheim. Now I know I’m a Gay, but I don’t usually go in for musical theatre. This was very good though and I thoroughly enjoyed it, apart from Mark Curry’s American accent, him from Blue Peter. The wine wasn’t up to much either. Cheap roadhouse whiskey! Great venue though and I am looking forward to returning to it in a couple of weeks for a bit of Harvey Milk.

March saw a return to an old hunting ground of mine, and if you’ll excuse the indelicacy, very good hunting it was too (well mostly). To the Stag pub, which now has a theatre upstairs. In our day it was a disused function room. But a very good programme they have up there and we went to see a stage production of the film My Beautiful Launderette. All in all very enjoyable and some very good acting in parts. The lead was very handsome, but I will never be able to work out quite how he kept his shirt so perfectly tucked in throughout the entire performance. He must have had the tails velcroed to the tops of his socks. Well it’s an outing.

April and May saw two visits to the second Mrs Godwin’s literary salon Polari at the Royal Festival Hall. Some wonderful writers reading from their work, and even the glorious Fenella Fielding doing an excellent if not rustly reading (papers very close to microphone). I must say it is a very good idea, and a great opportunity to hear new Gay authors reading from their published and unpublished works. I shall be back in March as the wonderful and very talented Patrick Gale will be reading from his forthcoming volume. He lives with a farmer in Cornwall don't you know!

Local art for Local people was the focus of the wonderful Dulwich Open Studios 2011. I won’t bore you again with the amazing variety of art I enjoyed, but there was some great stuff and there’s nothing nicer than walking round the neighbourhood on a lovely sunny day going into strangers’ homes and looking at their things. I wrote about it all here with pictures.

May also saw a lengthy but excellent evening with Zoe Wanamaker in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard at the National. If you ever go and see it I strongly advise a cushion and maybe even a hamper. Slow to start, but very gripping and really enjoyable. She’s very good at the acting.

June, now there were two very wonderful culturals this month. First there was the magnificent wonderfulness that is Mx Justin Vivian Bond at the Soho Theatre in their great new downstairs cabaret space (Oh look I’m all New York) – quite unsurpassable really, in many ways. I first came across Mx Bond in the film Shortbus, and have been mesmerised by Mx Bond and v’s music ever since. Wonderful.

Later in June and another joy to behold, apart from the old people grunting hysterically in the adjacent seats (very strange and disturbing), was the sing-along version at the Prince Charles of one of my most favourite films. The Wicker man (1973 version of course). Luckily I have the soundtrack and so know all the words, as did my trusty companion. This is currently my most anticipated blu ray release.

The Royal Opera House beckoned as La Wainwright and family took residence for a week in the middle of July. Of all the nights on offer, I was drawn to the one where he was double billing with his father Loudon III. And what a voice Loudon has - excellent. And together they were really great. Very teeny tiny seats far far away, but the beauty of the place is that it was still an excellent view. Gorgeous ice cream, and what a place the ROH is - another first for me. Champagne for Rufus! So glad I got to see them together on stage - brilliant.

The end of July heralded a return to the National for a cleverly staged production of A Woman Killed with Kindness. Written in 1603, set in 18somethingorother and produced in 2011, quite a mix of the visual, aural and moral, but an interesting domestic thriller and a night out at the theatre in some very good seats, and no riposte. 

August was dry culturally but I made up for it at the start of September with some art and a very intriguing installation. In the end I could take or leave The Vorticists at Tate Britain, but was completely spell bound by an intriguing installation by Mike Nelson called The Coral Reef. This piece is a disorientating network of 15 interconnecting shabby, seedy and slightly post-apocalyptic feeling rooms. You find yourself somewhere which has obviously been very recently abandoned and clues are strewn around as to what had gone on before. Not quite sure why you are there, what has happened or what you are going to find, this was very exciting and I think a real winner for me.

Then there was the Miro exhibition at Tate Modern which I also adored.  I love a bit of Spanish, art, and even though it was sometimes hard to work out which of the 3 red dots represented the fate of the peasants and which the oppression by the fascist regime, it was great, so much colour and life all expressed with that vibrant Spanish exuberance. When I retire to Andalucía to run my brothel – you’re all invited by the way – I will hang a Miro to remind me of my middle years spent in the galleries of London.

Towards the end of September I ventured back to the National to see Arnold Weskers’ The Kitchen. This was a wonderful production, and the way the work of the kitchen and the lives of the characters were brought to life was very clever and captivating. I once worked with Arnold Wesker’s daughter, or was it his niece – I forget, anyway the production was brilliant and far less forgettable, and again in my favourite seats. I’m so easy to please.

October brought music in the form of a wonderful evening at the Assembly in the Royal Spa of all places, with Mr Marc Almond, singing very well in an evening of chanson, torch songs, and Russian romances. I think it is a miracle that he is still with us; he is like a cat with nine lives. But thank the baby cheeses that he is. And what an oeuvre! A most enjoyable evening in an excellent newish venue so close to the ancestral home.

Dashing back to the National for 13 – OMG, got to see it to believe it. Across London, people wake up from an identical, terrifying dream’. Edge of the seat stuff and one of the most inventive exciting sets I have ever seen there. Action packed and good looking - a bit like me I suppose.

A return to musical theatre later in November, this time for a slap up evening at Priscilla Queen of the Desert with a few showbiz pals. This was a glorious reimagining of one of my favourite films and the music and the performances were just divine. And my first visit to the Cambridge Theatre, and I got eyed up by a handsome man with a beard! Well done everybody - they could certainly all get their Mabel to the back of the gallery.

And so to the penultimate outing for 2011 and this time to St Martin in the Fields for a spot of your actual Messiah at the end of December. Excellent seats and some very rousing performances, even if the second violin was chatting to her mate throughout! The key thing for me was the timps, we were sat right behind and I was fascinated by the many many adjustments the timpanist was constantly making to his drums. Now there’s a euphemism waiting to happen. Either he was a perfectionist or he slept through his sound check/rehearsal. The life of a jobbing orchestrati is a busy one I imagine. Absolutely lovely and such a wonderful prelude to Christmas - completely made up for the lack of mulled wine over the yule tide.

So, there you go. I don’t spend my entire life on the sofa in my pants, as some of you imagine, after all. And there’s plenty more where that came from. Here’s to even more Kultcha in 2012. Let me know if you hear of anything good!