Thursday, 31 August 2006

Aimless Shopping of Zefrog

If you are a regular visitor to these pages, you will know that I am a fairly big reader. Until now, I was content to link to the relevant Amazon page for the book I was "Currently Reading".

I have now become a associate with Amazon. This means that if someone follows one of those links and buys the book, I get 5% of the sale. I am not hoping to become rich out of this scheme but if I can make a few bobs while directing people towards interesting reads, why not.

On the right hand side, you can also find a link called "recommendations" which will from now on take you to a mini Amazon store listing a selection of books I would really recommend. This link previously called "books I liked", used to direct traffic towards my Amazon List Mania list. Take a look. If you have any questions about one of those books, please feel free to contact me.

You can also visit the page directly from HERE.

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Wednesday, 30 August 2006

Currently Reading - Time and Place

Time and Place - Alan Sheridan
Time and Place by Alan Sheridan

Mark Sheridan, a descendant of R.B. Sheridan's elder brother, and an ancestor of the author, is 'stage-struck'. Though his theatrical ambitions are thwarted by a slight stammer, he joins Beerbohm Tree's company as an unpaid 'walk-on'. He tells the story of his two years in the company and his relationship with Esmond, a young actor. Interspersed with this narrative are flashbacks to his earlier life: his childhood in China; his schooldays in Paris, visits to London and its theatres, his university days in Cambridge, eighteen months in St Petersburg, where he witnesses the beginning of the 1905 revolution. Famous names appear in these pages: Bernhardt and Duse; Irving and Terry; Mahler and Massenet; Melba and Caruso; Gide and Proust; G.E. Moore and E.M. Forster; Isadora Duncan and Stanislavsky; Lytton Strachey and Maynard Keynes. Sheridan brings back to life a long gone world in this elegant and erudite evocation of the turn of the 20th century.

I am reading this for the next meeting of my reading group where the author will be attending.

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Who Cares about Same Sex Couples!

The British Fertility Societyhave released today a statement on social criteria for NHS funding of fertility treatment (word doc) in which they assess access to fertility treatment in the NHS and set out of list of recommended social criteria to help every Primary Care Trust in England and Local Health Board in Wales meet government fertility targets.

The statement clearly states that "Single women and same sex couples should be treated the same way as heterosexual couples"; yet BBC news online chose to report on the fact that the BFS recommends that treatment should be refused to obese women, whithout mentioning same sex couple.

BBC radio4, in their news bulletins, chose a similar line using the obesity angle as headline and only mentioning single mothers and same sex couples when developing.
They did broadcast a clip from an interview of Josephine Quintavalle, the co-founder of Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE) in which she expressed the view that allowing single women and lesbians couple was denying children the right to a father and undermining the role of fathers in general.

This is, of course a completely spurious argument; the only way to do what Mrs Quintavalle claims is being done would be actually restrict parenthood to fatherless families. This is not at all what is happening.

What is really interesting here, however, I think, is the shift of emphasis in the way the story is told. It seems that the fact that the BFS want to allow equal treatment for same sex couple is not as news worthy as it used to be not so long ago. A step in the right direction, if you ask me.

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Thursday, 24 August 2006

Shop Against Bigotry

Help make those nasty bigoted people at Focus on the Family (a highly homophobic american right wing group) go bankrupt. Wherever you are in the world, get yourself $100 worth of free homophobic material curtosy of FOTF and see their bank account dry up...

Here is how to do it.

Easy, Simple, Efficient!

Thanks to the Coterie for the link.

Update - same day, 5.30pm
I have just passed my order (101 frequently asked questions about homosexuality and 19CDs box set of The Chronicles of Narnia), worth just under $100. The order went through without a hitch. Will keep you posted of whether I recieve anything...

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Far too simplistic, Simon

On the 16th of August, Simon Fanshawe wrote a piece in the Guardian advocating the need for gay choirs to move away from camp and try and focus a bit more on quality of performance; Something I, as a member of a gay chorus (the biggest in Europe), completely agree with.

In the same article, Mr Fanshawe made a few comments about what it is nowadays like to be gay in Britain. I did not agree to this and was not the only one:
Far too simplistic, Simon

I am fed up with Simon Fanshawe thinking he is being clever by sucking up to his straight friends (Telling tales, August 16). It may be fine for a writer and broadcaster who lives in Brighton to pontificate as he does, but for the rest of us being gay is still fraught with threat and difficulty, as well as joy and love. He needs to expand his gay world view and realise that all is still not well.

I would suggest he: try being a gay man who is a teacher, a builder, unskilled, or a professional footballer; a young gay man in one of our schools; a gay man who prefers hip-hop to opera, or football to ballet; a gay man who lives outside a major city; a gay man who, outside one of our few "gay-tolerance zones", wishes to display the same signs of public affection to his partner that heterosexuals daily take for granted; a gay man who wishes to marry his partner in a church, temple or mosque; a gay man who wants to give blood; a gay man born into any family or community where homophobia still runs rife, where abuse and violence remain a day-to-day reality.

In fact, try being any gay man who does not inhabit the cocooned world of Simon Fanshawe.
Paul Patrick
Paul Patrick, an aquaintance of mine, is the co-chair of Schools Out and is also involved with LGBT History Month.

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Tuesday, 22 August 2006

Zefrog updated

A long overdue update of my website has now gone live. A selection of poems and other short pieces of prose accompanied with some of my pictures are now available for your unreserved pleasure.

You can find the pieces of immortal glory by visiting and following the links to the portfolio part or by clicking on the DO link on the right hand side menu of this blog.

Enjoy the visit.

Monday, 21 August 2006

Summerskill on C of E

While I have reservations on the way Stonewall operate, with their tendency to go solo (not including other community/militant groups) or to claim sole credit for results the achievment to which they have only contributed, I have to say that what follows, taken from their latest newsletter, gets my vote:

The Times was once regarded as the top people's paper. That accolade is now held, of course, by Heat magazine. But it remains compelling how many people in power are still prepared to talk to the paper. And they often seem tempted to say things they clearly don't think will be subject to public scrutiny, as if they were sharing an offensive opinion in the bar of a London gentlemen's club.

Just three months ago, the Archbishop of Westminster disingenuously told The Times that he didn't believe in discriminating against homosexuals. Four days later the upstart Mail on Sunday revealed that the Archbishop had, in fact, recently summoned in one of his press officers and sacked him on the spot just for being gay.

Last weekend, a representative of the Church Commissioners - the people in charge of the Church of England's assets - wrote to The Times. His demand? That more public money should be provided to support church buildings "that act as hubs for social cohesion and community care". Perhaps the Church Commissioners have forgotten that it's only two months since the C of E wrote to Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly demanding permission to exclude gay people from "counselling, accommodation and day-care" provided on their premises when our new "goods and services" protections are introduced in the next few months.

But the Church of England can't have it both ways. If it wants millions of pounds of public subsidy to keep its premises intact on the grounds that they're there for the community, it should be required to make those premises available to all.

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Sunday, 20 August 2006

The Green-Eyed Monster (with pink polka dots)

Someone, who can not be named for legal reasons, as they say, has just found himself this most rare of commodities: a boyfriend.

In the past few days, I have spent several hours with the new lovebirds, for lurve it is we are talking about, apparently. Holding the candle (as the French say) is not exactly my favourite sport, but the groom is quite personable and friendly and, for my benefit, they seemed to make efforts to refrain the incontrollable urge that for ever pushed them to touch and do those other revolting things new lovers do in public.

I am afraid that this might be due to my acerbic tongue and the fact that I tried to be discrete and give them some space to get on with their story. I also felt like a spinster aunt from time to time, benignly looking over two rosy-cheeked children. The fact that I felt at times rather envious of what they have might have transpired too. My impression is that they might have misinterpreted my feelings.

I am very happy for them both but being around them brings starkly home the fact that I am unable to relate to people which in turn makes the eventuality of my finding myself in a situation similar to theirs most unlikely. What I feel is not jealousy as might be the first impression but rather, as I mentioned earlier, envy.
Envy is not wishing that you don't want someone to have what you want, it's wishing you had it too.
How do you get from jealousy to envy?, by Kimiko, property of Soulhuntre.
I simply don't think I will, as per the previous post and others, and that is sometimes a little close to the bone for comfort.

An unexpected expression of my diseased mind took the form of a strange feeling of identification by which I find myself vicariously partaking into the feelings exposed before me and tending towards sharing (to a very tenuous degree) those of the "someone" referred to above for his friend. This when, in other circumstances, I objectively would not have an interest of a similar nature, in the "friend". I am almost feeling bereft not seeing him now and mildly longed for his touch/contact (not sexually, though) when we were all together. Again, this has nothing to do with the persons involved but is simply some strange optical illusion of the mind and the result of frustration. This could have happened with almost anyone.

If you, my dear readers, didn't already know that I am weird, here is the proof you needed and were waiting for.

In the meantime, I would like to wish the best of luck to our two heroes. They will need all the luck they can get. And this is not another expression of my bitter, twisted, cynical and spinsterly mind but the result of circumstances I can't go into here.

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Tuesday, 15 August 2006

Blues and Tomato Sauce

Yesterday was a fairly quiet day at the office. Just after lunch, the internet started to die gently, one site becoming unavailable after the other. And then there was none. Slightly decided it was a good time to implement a reorganisation of the studio he had been talking about for a few days and so we set to work. The result is not bad, the place looks more spacious and probably more inviting. However I am in the same position with my back to everybody (something I don't like).

All the redecorating however meant that the afternoon was soon gone and Slightly and I ended up ordering a pizza and other bits of highly healthy food to inogurate the new meeting room. Presumably ebbed on by the inebriating influence of this self imposed caloric surge, we soon found ourself in half-drunken confessional mode. After discussing Slightly's current squeeze we moved on to the more serious matter of accounting. That's how many men Master Slightly has had over the years (that's 12 years).

Let's just say for modesty's sake that he reputation as a tart is more than truely justified. When we tried the same compilations on my record (over about 17 years), the number we came up with was, by a large margin, much more modest. The figures remains much higher than the average for a straight guy though.

I tried to find figures for gay men but couldn't find anything conclusive or serious: figures vary from "10 to 1000 a year" (that's 3 a day!!!), to 308 in a lifetime according to a 1991 Study in NYC to just 50 (no source). It is interesting that figures can only be found, it seems, on homophobic websites...

Sunday evening saw (for both of us I believe) one of such encounters. I don't know about Slightly's but the guy I met was quite nice looking, a slovenian architect with, it seemed, that most rare of things: a brain in working order. Although, he didn't have much use for it in that case... He seemed, in any case, pleased with what happened and even mentioned keeping in touch, presumably for a rematch.

I must have been fairly pleased myself. Normally my kitchen activities are limited to producing rice or pasta and the heating up of frozen chicken. I simply can not be bothered to cook (and, more importantly perhaps, to wash up afterwards). When I got home, however, inspiration took hold of me and I recklessly launched into the concoction of my first ever tomato sauce. This without the help of a recipe. The surprising thing is that the result tasted rather nice. Life was good! Well, not bad...

For those interested:
In a frying pan, heat up some olive oil.
Add chopped red onion, fines herbes (dried in that case), salt, pepper.
While the onions fry, chop tomatos and add to the pan. Stir.
Add water as needed to keep mixture from burning.
Add a tea spoon of mustard (proper Dijon mustard, please!)
Leave to simmer for a while.
Mix with pasta and enjoy...

That took about 10/15 min to do. All made, with no idea as to what I was doing!

Monday morning, as it should be, was, of course, a different affair. The aferglow had dimmed and the starck light of reality was shinning high and bright. The guy had removed the "foot step" he had left on the website we met on, indicating he had visited my profile (presumbaly so that I could not see and therefore access his profile again). This, of course, triggered a spate of (over?) analysis of the previous night's "house call", from which I emerged with all the necessary arguments to conclude that perhaps he had not been as into me as I had imagined at the time...

A few days ago, I rejoined Thinkbox. The first time round, noone had bothered looking at my profile and I had soon given up and deleted that said profile. Slightly who joined at the same time, has been doing very well there and had been pestering me to re-join. Following his advice, I am posting on the forums and it is a little different. Some people are looking at my profile and I have even received a few messages, but I can tell, that this is not really going to happen. Already the number of visits is dwindling, and my comments on the message boards are usually ignored. For some unknown reason, thinkbox is not for me.

For some unknown reason, gay men and social interactions are not for me. For years I have been trying to figure out what I am doing wrong but to no avail.

This is compunded by a series of small health problems and unease which tell me that my body is now at the stage that it is start to fall apart, slowly betraying me. A new development to an old theme whereby I perceived myself as having a body rather than being one...

All good fun really... I enjoyed the sauce though...

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Currently Reading - Lake Wobegone Summer, 1956

Lake Wobegone Summer, 1956 - Garrison Keillor
Lake Wobegone Summer, 1956 by Garrison Keillor

I have also just finishedDancer from the Dance, by Andrew Holleran. A nice page turner, if perhaps rather bitter sweet. I read it so fast that I didn't get the time to post about it here. This was for my reading group.

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Monday, 7 August 2006

How Lovely?!

I had my first nasty comment on this blog today (attached to the previous post). Someone asking my why I didn't go back to where I am from and including derogatory remarks about my being gay. As always in that sort of situation, the author finds himself incapable of mustering enough courage to reveal his identity and therefore give some legitimity to his words.

As for the reason, why I am staying in this country, I could say that it is because I love London, that is feels like home to me. A place of increadible opportunities with a vibe of open-mindedness not to be found anywhere else in my (limited) experience. And this would all be true.

But I have now a whole new reason to stay: because it bothers dear Mr (or Mrs) Annonymous...

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Saturday, 5 August 2006

Happy Birthday, WWW... or not

The BBC tells us that tomorrow will mark the 15th anniversary of the World Wide Web (not the Internet, mark). CNN doesn't quite agree.

Things have moved along quite a bit since I started to use the web myself (sometime around 1995, as far as I can remember) and will probably keep moving very fast for sometime still. Stopping a moment to take stock, I realise how much surfing the net has become part of my life. I used it to communicate with most (if not all) people I know, I bank online, I buy things online (mostly books), I meet people online, I met my best friend (who is also now one of my business partner) online, and of course I use it to find information. Rarely a day passes by when I am not online.

Does that make me a nerd?

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Thursday, 3 August 2006

Currently Reading - Secret Lives

Secret Lives - EF Benson
Secret Lives by EF Benson

I have also just finishedThe Snow Garden, by Christopher Rice. A nice page turner. I read it so fast that I didn't get the time to post about it here.

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