Friday, 25 November 2005

I'll Have a Double Standard, Please

This week sees what can arguably be called a historic change in the country’s social habits. The licensing laws around drinking hours have been relaxed after years of governmental promises for all sides. As soon as the change was announced and it looked like it would happen this time, voices could be heard forecasting all sorts of evil fall on the country as a result. Of course, it is probably safer to wait until the week-end to see how things pan out but so far, it is very much a case of a storm in a cup of tea (so to speak). Few establishments have actually applied for the extended hours and the first reports say that the civil war announced has not started yet.

We were also informed that allowing people to drink longer would mean they will drink more. I am not sure how this can happen. First of all, once you are “legless”, as state people already managed to attain under the now defunct system, there is not much you can do to make things even worse. Secondly, there is an economic factor, which seems to have been over looked. Alcohol costs money and people will quickly find themselves limited by the size of their wallet if not by that of their stomach. Thirdly, it was already possible to drunk non-stop, just not in a pub, and those who wanted to indulge around the clock did not wait for the change of law.

Once again, I might be underestimating the allure of the charm of what is after all a national sport in this country, but I don’t think the new law will make much of a difference in a negative direction. It might however allow people to pace themselves a little more and, while drinking as much as before, not feel as much the worst for wear.

Finally I can’t help but drawing a comparison with the row over the smoking ban (about which I have blogged before) although the two issues are slightly different. While I can avoid drunken behaviour and drunk people fairly easily, I can not avoid inhaling smoke in a crowded pub or club. While I think there is call for banning smoking in ALL public places, I do not find it right to restrict people to do something (which most of the time harms only themselves) only at certain times. This smacks of double standards. Another example of this, comes from the Tory calling the smoking ban the actions of the dreaded “Nanny State” while finding perfectly acceptable to tell people when they can have a drink…




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Thursday, 24 November 2005

Shameless

Buy one hereYesterday turned out to be a busy day indeed but an enjoyable one too. I had booked the afternoon off work to attend the pre-launch of LGBT History Month 2006 (which will take place in February next year), before going to a meeting for the Chorus (my third evening this week taken up by that Blooming Chorus, not to mention the whole of last Sunday!).

Thankfully I had brought my own scribe with me which saves me having to toil away telling you about the fun, the momentum (in more ways than one) and the dizzyness of the event. Read it all here.

Once you are done, do not forget to go and buy one of the badges designed by Master Slightly by clicking on the picture above. Thanks.


Sunday, 20 November 2005

Cold Frustration

How frustrating it is not to be able to relate to the people around you; people you know are worth knowing; people who seem to want to know you.

How so much more saddening it is not to be able to relate to someone you fancy, one of the very few people you fancy, and watch other people (who might feel like you but who probably don't) fare much better than you in relating to that person you admire...

Even though you have tried, there is this invisible wall between you and him, between you and them; a wall against which you keep banging your head. This crystalises your feelings of solitude and makes you wonder what you are doing wrong.

Not nice thoughts for a bus ride in the early night of a cold, already festively iluminated, November evening.


Monday, 14 November 2005

Eye Candy

After all those serious posts I have made recently, I thought I would provide a bit of light relief.

For those of you who have never heard of it, the Dieux Du Stade calendars first appeared in 2001. It was made of nude pictures of the Stade Français rugby team and was sold for charity. The concept is still the same by has been extended to French sportsmen in general. Needless to say the calendars have been huge successes, especially in the gay community.

Here is a clip of the making of of the 2005 calendar.



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No Gay Priests for the Vatican

I have blogged about this before when it was only a rumour. I will not repeat my arguments here. It seems this is however getting ever closer to becoming reality although the policy seems as ill-thought and contradictory as it seems when we first heard of it. Of course this is only a report on an Associated Press report of a newspaper report! Hardly first hand information. This means that the information can get diluted and skewed but this article raises more questions than it answers. Why should "men with "passing" homosexual tendencies that were never acted on" be allowed to ordained when "those who support gay culture cannot become priests"? Could they not be themselves supporters of the "gay culture" even if they do not take part in it?

Also, how is the Church going to acertain that "they have overcome [their homosexual tendencies ] for at least three years"?
According to the paper, the document says gay men can't become priests because their lifestyle represents an "obstacle to a correct relationship with men and women."
This short sentence is probably the most outrageous part of the article. It shows the Catholic Church in all its irrational and prejudiced bigotry. Why and How can being homosexual preclude someone from entering a "correct relationship" (whatever that is!) with other human beings? In what way is the homosexual desire more difficult to control than the heterosexual one? This is such a patronising statement and obviously part of the Vatican's campaign to demonise homosexuals and present them as abominations (to quote the Old Testament); immature people with no control over their behaviour.

We are a long way off from the official doctrin of "hate the sin, love the sinner".

Thanks.



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Friday, 11 November 2005

A Comment

I have received the comment below from my previous post on the subject of the recent riots in France:
Zefrog,
I enjoyed your article, but it seems to me that there may be an additional problem here,open borders, that is shared by many other countries as well.
Perhaps there are many Frenchmen who do not want "Cheap" labor flooding the country and vying for the same jobs they themselves need. When you add to this the tendency of many of these people to not want to assimilate it creates resentment.In addition,because of the high birth rate of many of these immigrants, and the lower birth rate of the French, it is estimated that France will lose it's national identity in forty years. Personally, I feel if a person does not want to become "French", but instead retain his own ethnic identity, perhaps he should remain in his own country and work to make it better rather than immigrate to another mans country and expect them to accommodate his customs.
I am very sorry to have to say this to a new visitor to my blog and someone who took the trouble to leave of comment, of which I am grateful, but this opinion shows nothing more than a complete lack of knowledge of the current situation in France.

The problem has very little to do with immigration, not the immigration allowed by the Schengen treaty, which is refered to in the above. If immigration has to be included in this equation, one has to go back to 1950's during Les Trente Glorieuses, a period of incredible econimic growth during which France had to resort to a workforce recruited mostly in what was left of its dwindling colonial empire. There was also a strong migratory flow coming from Poland, Italy and Portugual the same time. The country was more than happy of this extra workforce feeding its economic growth. The people forming this wave of immigration on the whole integrated quite nicely. There were after all not economical insecurity to creat social tensions. It is probably fair to say however that the european immigrant probably integrated better than the mostly north african ones. I do not think however that this is due to an unwillingness on the part of these poeple as is suggested in the comment but simply because the cultural differences were far greater and the gap more difficult to bridge.

In any case the people rioting today in the street of France are not immigrants. They are French people, born in France. The third and fourth generations sons and daughters of the 1950's immigrants. Far from expecting other French people "to accommodate [their] customs", the lifestyle of these young men (I assume here, perhaps wrongly, that there are few women involved in the riots) is as european as can be and probably bears very little resemblance to the one their forefathers left behind them when they were invited to France. The problem, as I have stated before does not stem from an unwillingness to integrated but from the fact that, although most of them are citizens of the country, they are still made to feel like foreigners because of their origin. When someone feels rejected, their first instinct is to reject even further in return.

Finally, I am not sure what relevance to I can attach to the demographic argument developped in the comment. It seems to me to be pure and simple xenophobia, which, I think at the root of the crisis. If I understand my reader's position and if it is shared in France as he assumes it is, then surely the rioters should not be the descendant of immigrants who are currently rioting but rather those evanescent and hypothetical "true French" who fear that demoraphic invasion or those "many Frenchmen who do not want "Cheap" labor flooding the country and vying for the same jobs they themselves need". All of them happily forgetting in the process that France had always been a terre d'asile which stemmed from and continuously strived on foreign influences.


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From My New Friend

I had another email from my new friend last tonight. I had posted details of an event on the Chorus' mailing list (a list he had flamboyantly announced a month ago he was unsubscribing from), for people's information. Not commenting and certainly not saying that I would be attending, which I am not going to.

A few hours later, I received this:
I'm tempted to warn anyone about going to a social event with you...

To which I responded (borrowing from Oscar Wilde):
There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.



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Thursday, 10 November 2005

Flames in France

A couple of friends have emailed me to ask for my opinion on the current events in France, so I thought I would share my tuppunce worth with the expecting world as well.

One of the cités outside Dijon - May 04After more than 5 years in the UK, I must say I feel rather disconnected with my country of origin. Not only do I sometimes find it difficult to express myself in French, I have very much lost touch with what is happening there. However, I have to say that I am not altogether surprised by what is happening at the moment. There had been (much smaller) outbursts in the past and I think it was only a question of time before a full blown crisis happened. As I am writing, this has been going on for fourteen nights and the State of Emergency has been declared in several cities (including the one where I was born and lived for several year while at Uni: Dijon). Things are finally calming down a little.

To be perfectly honest, I haven't been following the events very closely. I got an email from my mother yesterday, listing places and things which routinely get burned (schools, cars and so on) and saying it was all quite frightening. I am not sure the tiny village where she lives is about to make it to the headlines just yet though. The media in the UK have been reporting on the events though and I have caught a couple of things on Radio 4.

It seems everybody is trying to find reasons for what is going on. Some blame it on the apparently increasing antisemitism to be found in the country (saying that the crisis is now Europe wide), others on a terrorist plot. I am not really convinced by either theory. Although a journalist on From Our Own Correspondent reported that this time round the rioters have included islamist rationales to their discourse, I do not think religion is much of an issue in this case.

Others again blame it on the French social model. While I do not think there is one single easy and neat answer to the problem, I thing we are getting warmer with this hypothesis.

Contrary to the UK's multicultural approach, where ethnic and cultural minorities are allowed to live next to each other and retain their identity, the French model expects people to adhere to the French ways and become French themselves. This is an attitude I find myself reproducing naturally; not hanging out with other French people here in London and trying to conform as much as possible to the local ways of doing things. The idea is fine in theory but not really happening in practice. The problem with this is that it should be going both ways. The minorities should make an effort to integrate but the majority needs to be willing to accept them. Radio4 again had a report on the total lack of minority representation in the media and it is notoriously difficult for someone with a non-French name to get a job. Although I don't think there is much overt racism (even though the far right came second at the last presidential elections), people seem to be quite averse to change and difference and xenophobia expresses itself in a more covert but, probably for that very reason, much more effective way. The result is that ethnic minorities (and especially second and third generation immigrants) find themselves ostracised, sitting on the fence between their discarded identity and a society they are refused access to.

Because of this and huge financial difficulties (in a country where unemployment is at 10%, the figures rise to 40% in those "cités"), they end up cooped up together in ghetto like "cités" ("council estates" or "projects") in the suburb of the cities. These places are famously horrible places. The police and firemen, because they have been attacked there so often, refuse to go there; shops have closed down; and violence, drug dealing and idle youths own the place.

When there is no hope and nothing to, when the "rule of law" has disappeared, when you have been used to see violence since you are a child, what do you do when you get a chance? You riot...

For years the government has done nothing about all this. It is only in the few years since I have left that proper anti-discrimination laws have been passed. As I said there have been incident before but nothing on such a scale. This is a wake up call. Let's hope the government hears it.

My response to a comment left on this post can be read here.

Further reading:
* C’est l’économie, stupide – the real reason why the cars of Paris burn - Times (08/11/05) [Basically my position although I am slightly surprised by the Schadenfreude in the article]
* The Riots
* More Notes on the Rioting in France
* Why is France Burning?




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Wednesday, 9 November 2005

A Conversation

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my attendance at a show with other Chorus members. It seems that some kindly soul, probably in the interest of reconcilation and peace, has forwarded a link to this post to one of the persons described in it. Tonight I received communication by email from this person and the following exchange ensued (you will need to refer to the original post to understand what this is about):


[Zefrog],

Read your rousing blog about our night out at Hedwig. I was so glad to find out how shallow and 'in love' with you I am. Had I not read about my love interest for you (apparently shared by everyone else who came into contact with you), I might have forgotten that you were there at all.

No, honestly, no hard feelings. The blog was a good source of humor for me and others who read it.

Well, I am off to shop for expensive watches to base my self-worth on,

[SL]
Shallow, Philandering American
xx

I am glad to have been of help. Perhaps I should buy a watch to get closer to reality myself...

All the best,
[Zefrog]

Have one of your adoring fans by [sic] you a watch...

Actually, better not, that "lifestyle" doesn't suit you.

x
SSL

Unfortunately, as you so justly reminded me, my powers of seduction do not extend that far... so yes, like the delusional Cinderella that I was on that night, I will keep away from the "lifestyle"...
[Z]

It seems I have made another friend, I am so good at that... SL and I do not know each other and it looks like we probably never will. It is important however to remember that this episod is not about personalities but about perceptions and assumptions that people make when interacting. Assumptions are unavoidable and necessary. The point is to remaind open-minded and ready to reassess one's assumptions as one progresses; using them as tools and not being imprisoned by them.


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The Silly Tests Series

Close enough (except for the sex bit: Being open-minded in this matter doesn't mean you get lots of it!). The children bit is wrong too but the alternative ending sounds about right.

If we needed confirmation, I am a spinster, aka:

The Bachelor
Deliberate Gentle Sex Master (DGSMm)

Straight-up. Studly. Congratulations, you are The Bachelor.

You're an honest, good-thinking guy, and though you're very sexually active, people don't perceive you as a male-slut or man-whore or guy-dick-putter-inner or whatever. You have a sterling reputation.

You're a careful person, perhaps too much so for your friends' tastes, but guys like that in you. You probably don't kiss & tell. And you definitely don't brag. You know you don't have to prove anything to anyone. It's as if you believe in monogamy, so long as it's with lots of different people.

Our guess is that you've got some kind of word-of-mouth going with the boys out there, and that in the future, your sex partners will get even more plentiful, and more attractive, too.

Your exact opposite:
The Manchild
Random Brutal Love Dreamer

You will settle down eventually, and make an excellent husband. You seem like the type who is into the idea of making copies of yourself, so you'll probably adopt lots of kids. Bear in mind, meanwhile, this can get expensive.

ALTERNATE ENDING: You will die broke and alone. Vermin will feast on your ragged body for five days before the groundskeeper notices. The thing is, when somebody dies in a public restroom, the natural odor of his decomposing flesh is often masked by the feces smell.


ALWAYS AVOID: The Manchild

CONSIDER: The Bachelor, The Backrubber


Take the 32-Type Dating Test.

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Manual Spam

This is a message to the Polish twat who has been posting (what is probably straight) porn links in the comments of 27 of my posts. Their IP is router.innet.insite.pl.

This is a gay blog. My (few) readers are not interested in your junk. You are wasting your time and mine. You will have noticed that I have restricted comments to registered users and, something you are not aware of, I have reported you to Blogger (the host of this blog).

So just bugger off, will you and give us both a break!



Monday, 7 November 2005

New Blog

I have just added a new blog to my blogroll (on the right hand side). It is an account of the 07/07 Bombings and their aftermath by on of the survivors. It was forwarded to me by Slightly; check it out.

Rachel From North London



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Friday, 4 November 2005

What Sort of Friend is That?

Slightly just sent me an email telling he had just been on the phone with IP, a guy he thought he was interested in and sort of dated for a while. After a few weeks of drama, the guy told Slightly he was sort of back with his ex and then that he was dating someone else.

From what I can gather, there has been a few since then. I met IP once. Slightly had organise a meeting in town. A visiting friend of IP was there too. He didn't leave a great impression in my mind and added to what I know of how attention seeking he seems to be, I can't say I am enamoured with the guy.

The phone call was apparently to moan (read cry) about the ex boyfriend again. It turns out that IP also asked from my phone number and that of another of Slightly's friends because he apprently found both of us cute and wants to take us out for coffee.

And what does Slightly go and do, knowing how desperate I am and how used I am to weirdos? He refuses to give our details and tells the guy to call him "when he gets back to reality"...

Too right!!!!



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Happy Anniversary


A year ago today, I created an account on Blogger and posted my first entry on this blog. A year on, I am still not sure what this blog is about. Readership is growing slowly. I enjoy having a readily accessible soapbox even if it is more or less to the wilderness so I think I'll be there next year...


Thursday, 3 November 2005

The Silly Tests Series

Well, actually surprisingly accurate this time...

ColorQuiz.com

I took the free ColorQuiz.com personality test and was told that I "feel obstructed in my desires and prevented from obtaining the things I regard as essential", which is exactly right.
Click here in you can be bothered to read the rest of the results.

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Tuesday, 1 November 2005

The Silly Tests Series

tortured conceptual artist
You are a Tortured Conceptual Artist. Your fellow
postmodernists call you an anachronism, but
you've never cared much about the opinions of
others. After all, most of them are far too
simple-minded to appreciate the nuances of your
work. They talk, while you are part of a lived
tradition.


What kind of postmodernist are you!?
brought to you by Quizilla.

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