Friday, 28 December 2007

Confessions of an Economic Hitman



Controversial author, John Perkins, a man who says he knows because, often, he was there, reveals the real reasons behind the Iraq War (part 1) and what is currently happening in South America (part 2) before answering a few questions (part 3). This was recorded at the Veteran for Peace National Convention in Seattle on 11 August 2006 (lasts about 1hr).

And it all rather makes sense...

part 1 | part 2 | part 3

This interview by DemocracyNow.org summarises his thesis and gives some background on Perkins in about 10min.
John Perkins - Wikipedia

Friday, 21 December 2007

Palladium

Logo

The view from the stage of the Palladium during the technical rehearsal on Sunday 16th, showing the gobo whose artwork I put together.

The concert went very well. I am glad to say I made very few mistakes and as usual the next day the back-slapping emails were flying fast on the Chorus' mailing lists.

The good news is that, having sold out we will be giving I think £5000 to the Terrence Higgins Trust and they got another £2000 from the raffle and bucket shake organised on the night.

For fuller reviews of the show click here, here and here.
More pictures available here

Saturday, 15 December 2007

RIP

RIP
The camera I bought in 2002 just before going to Sydney with the Chorus, has died on me. It doesn't switch on any more and remain miserably stuck as if it was on (the zoom in unfolded).

This was my first digital camera. It wasn't perfect but it helped me learn a lot. It's ease of use and flexibility not to mentioned the great results I got from simply pressing the button (compared to my previous camera: a cheap and nasty autofocus), really encouraged me to take more pictures and gave me a taste for it.

No more pics for me until I can buy a new one... (everybody sigh of relief here) that will take a while :O(

Unless some generous Santa gives me a nice new SLR... As if!

Monday, 10 December 2007

Other Gigs

For those who don't fancy sitting through two hours of choral music, watching Accentuate the Positive in support of the Terrence Higgins Trust, on 16th December at the Palladium, but would still like to see a bunch of gay guys make a fool of themselves in public for Christmas (and yes that includes moi), a few opportunities present themselves to view parts of the London Gay Men's Chorus in action (and for free, apart from the Barbara Cook gig).

World AIDS Day
Saturday, December 1
St. Pancras Church, Euston - 12 Noon

Barbara Cook and friends
Word AIDS Day Concert
Sunday, December 2
London Coliseum - 7:30 pm

Covent Garden Carols
December 13, 18, 20
Covent Garden Piazza - respectively 6.30, 7.30 and 9 pm on the 13th and 5.30, 7, and 8.30 pm on the other two dates. (I won't be there on the 13th)

Selfridges Carols
December 22 & 23
Oxford Street shop - 12.30, 2.00, 3.30, 5.00 (and 7.30 on Saturday only)

first published on 28/11, updated on 10/12

Saturday, 1 December 2007

World AIDS Day

I was going to simply post the picture of a red ribbon to mark the day today.

But then a friend of mine told me yesterday about World AIDS Day: "Don’t really have any response to it, I’m afraid. Feel like I’ve done my bit." His former partner is HIV+

My response was:"It's not about response, it's about taking part. The response is expected from governments and society. It's a way to remind them that there is still work to be done I think while remembering "our" dead."

More controversially perhaps, and with reference to Armistead Maupin's ideas on Desert Island Discs this morning, the day could also almost be seen as a day of thanksgiving for what the advent of the "gay placgue" did to advance the LGBT cause.

AIDS both forced and allowed society to talk about LGBT lives. It made us visible and showed us as caring and grieving people not that dissimilar from members of the norm.

The epidemic also had positive repercussions within the LGBT community. The sense of anger, frustration and helplessness that many faced in the first few years led to the creation of tighter bonds, new organisations and support groups and networks. To an extent, it also rejuvenated the gay liberation movement.

However to you mark the day, whatever your reason to take part, be safe.

World AIDS Day


Tuesday, 27 November 2007

The Children Want to Know

the Hall at the Royal Courts of Justice being readied for the event

Last night, I attended the pre-launch event of LGBT History Month 2008. This was the fourth event of this kind and I am pleased and proud to say that I have attended all of them. In 2004, the first ever pre-launch event took place at Tate Modern, the following year, we were at the Met Police's Empress State Building. Last year, the TUC welcomed us at Congress House and this year, we were in the grand surroundings of the hall at the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand. This was also the event with the most guests, several hundred, I would say.

After a few nibbles and drinks, people moved towards the end of the hall to take a seat and listen to the various speakers. After a quick word of welcome by the co-chairs of the Month, Sue Sanders and Paul Patrick, the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC took the stage for a speech where she retraced the legal history of gay rights since 1967, highlighting the work done by Labour in fighting discrimination (read more here).

The next speaker was Dru Sharpling, Chief Crown Prosecutor London who chairs the London Criminal Justice. She highlighted the work of her organisation on prosecuting homophobic hate crime. She then received from Peter Burton (TUC) the silver plate which is passed on each year to the hosts of the pre-launch event. The list of the different hosts is engraved on the plate.

left to right: Patricia Scotland, Dru Sharpling, Barbara Follett, Richard Kirker and Stephen Whittle.left to right: Patricia Scotland, Dru Sharpling, Barbara Follett, Richard Kirker and Stephen Whittle.

It was then the turn of Barbara Follett to take to the lectern. She is the MP for Stevenage and the Minister for Equality and for the East of England. Although a politician herself, her speech felt much less formal than the two preceding ones and she felt more sincere in the way she expressed herself, highlighting issues of discrimination and pledging her commitment to fight against those.

By then, the hall was getting a bit cold and some people were starting to leave, probably to catch a train to get home but also perhaps because on the whole the speakers were not as inspirational as they could have been.

The night was also sponsored by Channel 4 who sent two cameramen and provided footage of Quentin Crisp alternative message from the Queen which was shown at this point of the evening.

The next speakers were the Reverend Richard Kirker, chair of the Lesbian Gay Christian Movement and Professor Stephen Whittle, founder and vice-president of Press for Change.

The next speaker was playwright, director, actor, singer songwriter, Rikki Beadle-Blair. He explained his work tackling homophobia in schools through his plays, drawing the conclusion that "the children want to know". Something he also found held true in his encounter with grown men when he went to Jamaica for Radio 4 a few years ago to investigate homophobia there or for himself as a growing child. He explained that homophobia comes mostly from ignorance and that most people are ready to change their mind if someone comes and talks to them. "The children need to know", he added, praising the effects of LGBT History Month.

photomontage of Elly Barnes and Rikki Beadle-BlairElly Barnes and Rikki Beadle-Blair

This was very clearly examplified by what the next speaker had to say. Elly Barnes is a music teacher in the London Borough of Hackney who decided that LGBT History Month would be celebrated in her school with very positive and impressive results. She was a great speaker and an obviously inspirational teacher. Her work has been noticed it seems and will now be taken to other schools in the borough. An article about her work is available in the Socialist Worker of 17 March 2007.

To close the event, the Diversity Choir sang a song by gay composer Leonard Bernstein and another one by lesbian suffragette and musician Ethel Smythe.

It feels like that History Month has passed an important landmark after last night's event, a little like it has come of age. The audience was by far the biggest so far and the speakers also provided acknowledgment of the Month's work from the highest levels of society. It was I think a slight shame that the historical side of things had been a little lost. In previous editions of the event, there had been historians or witnesses at hand to provide us with some insights in particular episodes of the LGBT past experience. What the event had gained in gravitas and prestige, it probably lost in fun and human interest. Still last night represents an incredible achievement we should be proud of.

part of the audience and the stage
A selection of my pictures of the event can be viewed here.
Slightly posted some of his pictures on his blog.
The official report of the event can be read here.
The full text the Attorney General's speech is available here.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Accentuate the Positive

Accentuate the Positive poster

The London Gay Men's Chorus debut at the London Palladium on Sunday December the 16th 2007 with a stunning concert raising funds for the Terrence Higgins Trust.

Featuring a celebrity host and special guests including West End star Alison Jiear, the evening will be an upbeat and poignant celebration of how people's experience of living with HIV and AIDS has changed.

Including songs such as House Of Fun, One Night Only, Je Ne Regrette Rien and Being Alive, the evening will uphold the London Gay Men's Chorus' tradition of entertaining, informing and uplifting.

Marking 25 years of the Terrence Higgins Trust, this will be a night to remember. Bring your lovers, families, friends and memories and join us in marking a quarter of a century of support, education, love, loss and life.

Accentuate the Positive
The London Palladium
Argyll Street, London W1
7:30pm Sunday 16th December
Box Office: 0870 890 0144
Tickets from £20
Performance will be BSL Interpreted
www.lgmc.org.uk

Friday, 16 November 2007

Zavvi

Imagine your are the managing team of a big company and that you find yourself will a little spare dosh. You look around for what you can do with it and suddenly realise that, Richard Branson, the owner of your company is keen to get rid of it because, like its competitors, it is in trouble and is losing money.

So you decide to buy Virgin Megastore.

And because you have been working there for a while and you obviously know what a bad brand it is, that people don't like and don't recognise very well, you decide to rebrand the chain of shops with a new snazzy name that you are sure will work wonderfully: Zavvi...

I am speechless!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

That Amused Me

Salut Zefrog,

I came across your blog and wondered if you'd be interested in a
website I've set up called MenuLover.co.uk. I'm collecting menus for
local takeaway restaurants and posting them on the site so that local
people can easily find different sorts of takeaways.

If you have a moment to take a look, and if the thought of takeaway
food is not anathema to your French sensibilities, I'd really
appreciate any comments you have. (The website's just a beta version,
but hopefully it gives you a rough idea.)

Also, in case you're trying to promote your blog, feel free to list it
on Localmouth.com. It's (another) site I've set up which I hope will
help people get more involved in their local communities. There are a
few South London blogs there already, but I'm pretty sure yours would
be the first gay(?) French one ;-)

All the best.

Cordialement,

Matt


Monday, 12 November 2007

Dog Walking

Today, I planned I attended an all day event organised by the Southwark Alliance. Or so I thought. The event was billed as their November conference.

In fact it turned out to be a consultation exercise on the future of Burgess Park. The vast majority of the 60-odd people attending had no direct involvement with the Park and it seems to me it would have been more efficient to consult users of the Park and local residents.

After people had been divided into groups, we were taken for a site visit of an area of the park with the instruction to put ourselves in the boots of a type of user. We walked around the area, we took pictures and registered our impressions of the park. Back to our base, we had to find words to describe the experience. Later on, we had to make a collage with pictures cut out from magazines showing our vision for the Park in 2025.

That was more or less what the event was about. Because of our lack of knowledge about the park and the ares, the points we made were and had to be quite general and obvious. I can't see what help it would be to the members of the Trust about to be created to take ownership of the Park.

No chance to discuss community cohesion at strategic level as I had expected. No chance to make the points I alluded to in my previous post. I suppose the positive point is that the poofs had been invited for once.

I was in the dog walkers group...

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Unequal Equalities

I am just back from a meeting of the Southwark Anti-Homophobic Forum and I am feeling elated and disappointed at the same time.

The meeting was great. Good company and good food were the least of its positive points. Yes, Columba Blango, Executive member for citizenship, equalities and communities (Lib. Dem.), had left mid-meeting during a presentation on domestic violence in the LGBT community but the whole meeting was very positive and in many ways empowering.

Simon Hughes, the local MP, had suddenly remembered his (in more ways than one) communihttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifty (I have never seen him at any of our events) and was present at the meeting (although not for long), talking about working with us on several local issues and asking for advice on the current Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill and the government's proposals to introduce a new offence of incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

This was followed by an intervention by members of the equalities team of the Borough who are in the process of updating the Council's equality scheme and policies. They asked us about what we thought were the important points the council should look out for, which part of our community are most in need of support and attention. We particularly asked that the council worked more with the community and realise that LGBT people are part of all other communities. It felt great to be consulted for once and it really felt that they were listening to us. I caught myself dreaming that this little meeting with all the good points that were raised would actually make a difference.

And then it was time to leave the building. On the reception desk, I saw a glossy brochure entitled Celebrating Southwark - Community Cohesion in Southwark. I picked it up. It is actually a folder holding three leaflets, all produced by the Southwark Alliance (whose website doesn't even seem to work properly). The first leaflet is called A Sense of Belonging and is mostly about ethnic minorities and the hot issue of Britishness. the second one, the thicker one is about faith (A Mark of Faith) and the last one, "How to... build community cohesion in Southwark" gathers a series of case studies.

I looked and looked. There is obviously much about race and faith. There is a little about gender and even less about age and disability. And guess what, there is nothing about sexual orientation. Nothing at all.

Interestingly enough, this is probably representative of the order of importance the different strands of diversity have in people's and organisations' minds. Race is the big one, sometimes the only one. Faith and religion has been propelled to the foreground by the combined actions of fundamentalist Islamists and the media. Gender (women) can sometimes make their voices heard but not often and the same goes with older people and disabled people. Almost nobody outside the community seem to give a damn about LGBT people. This probably sounds bitter and cynical but isn't too far from reality I think.

I happen to be attending an event organised by the Southwark Alliance on Monday (which happens to be described as "an opportunity for various forums in Southwark to get together (faith, disabilities, older, Muslim etc etc)."!!!). I shall certainly raise the issue of our absence in their literature.

Watch this space....


Sunday, 4 November 2007

Bonfire night

DSC00412.JPG

Slightly dragged me to Blackheath last night to watch the fireworks. Rather than joining the crowds gathering near where the fireworks were taking place, we decided to stand back a bit and stayed about halfway in the middle of the heath. The view was good. We apparently missed the music though.

As for the fireworks, I might be getting blaze but I don't seem to have enjoyed the last few I have seen. Last night's were rather boring. This was mostly due, in my view to a lack of rhythm. There were long periods with little happening and all in all the event was a bit too long.

After that we went nearby to the place of one of Slightly's friends who was having drinks. That was quite nice.

I got home very late after a bus driver waving at us rather than stopping! and a punch up with police involvement on the bus I finally managed to board. Ah! Deptford!

Sunday, 28 October 2007

RamPANT Homophobia

"Sagging" is becoming increasingly contentious in the US. The fashion trend of wearing jeans sagging low displaying the underwear, favoured mostly by young black men was popularised some years ago by hip hop artists. It is said to originate in American Jails with their ill-fitted uniforms and the lack of belts (for security reasons).

Several communities and schools in the US have recently been trying to ban this way of dressing and black organisations have been quick to point out possible racist undertones to these moves.

Now the attacks against sagging are coming from a different angle. Texan rapper, Dwayne Brown aka Dooney the Prince, has released a single titled "Put Your Pants Up". When interviewed last week on BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight, Brown explained that sagging is another example of "moral decay". Despite the title of his song, Brown claims not to be trying to tell young people how to dress but simply to educate them on what is for him the real meaning of wearing their jeans low-slung.

It seemed a strange item for the BBC's newsteam to include to the programme. There is no mention whatsoever of Brown and his song on the internet and this is hardly a topic that would interest the regular BBC Radio4 listener, although the item was also included to Pick of the Week...

Brown is not campaigning against the possible glorification of criminals as one might have thought. No, according to Brown, sagging indeed originates in jails but rather than being the result of practical circumstances, it is a signal used by certain men that they are making themselves available to other inmates.

The word was never pronounced aloud but what is disturbing Brown is what he perceives as the homosexual undertones of the trend. While there is an undeniable sexiness linked to someone showing their underwear like this, it is highly unlikely that the majority of the young men who adopt the fashion have an interest in men. Why Brown should have decide to highlight this facet of hip-hop culture, is not clear.

Of course, any black Same Gender Loving or LGBT person can discuss at length the many occurrences of homophobia they experience at the hands of their own community. Many black men also seem to have issues around masculinity and how it should be expressed. And it seems that the reasons of Brown's stand can be found these two traits of the black community.

His "crusade", however futile, while only serve to raise the levels of prejudice even further. I should be used by now to the apparent lack of logic and true relevance, some people (mostly religious right-wingers) apply to the definition of their priorities but it seems to me that Brown's energies would have been much better employed in the production of a song titled: "Put Your Guns Down"


Sagging - Wikipedia
Are Your Jeans Sagging? Go Directly to Jail. - New York Times


Friday, 19 October 2007

Slightly is Taking the Piss Again....

Down at the Police Station

I am just back from the Police Station and the experience there was as dismal as I expected it to be.

This was the third time I had set foot in a Police Station. The first time had been to report problems I had had with a friend of my first landlord (I might blog about this someday - I don't seem to already have) and the second time was to report the theft of my wallet on a bus. The theft report had been quite uneventful but during my first visit, I had not been taken seriously (despite the seriousness of what I was reported) and nothing came of it.

As I got to the bus stop to start my way home earlier today, I found a battered mobile phone. Being the good Samaritan that my mother taught me to be, I picked the thing up and decided to bring it to the Police. The owner might be glad to get it back.

I went to Vauxhall Police Station which is one I know of and close to where I live. When I entered the place I found myself in a small hallway with only two seats and several people already waiting. The space faces a glass wall with electric doors behind which is a counter also protected by a glass wall. This was as unwelcoming as it could be.

There was no one at the counter. The clerk in attendance was busy with two women in another similar space on the side. After a while the clerk opened our glass door and most of the people who were waiting before me walked up to the counter, gave their names, signed a piece of paper and left(presumably something to do with probation). I walked in too and when I stated my reason for being there, I was told that I would have to fill in forms and that the clerk would be "a while" yet. That was about 17:25.

I didn't get out of the darn place until 19:00. In the meantime, the other person in the room behind the counter stopped surfing the net and left the building, presumably to go home. Other people came in and out having signed in. Two young women came in to pick a young boy who had been arrested. the next person in line after me was a young (cute-ish) French man who came in to report the loss of his wallet. He had a discreet little cry about it and when I left I wished him "bonne chance".

The deposition of the found phone itself took about 2 min. The clerk who eventually filled in the form (a different one from when I arrive as the first one finished her shift at 19:00) didn't even bother to take the details of the location where I found the phone properly.

In all, I spent about 1.45min there and to be honest, I think the next time I find something I will think twice about picking the thing up and reporting it. The media are full of calls for closer social bonds, for people to be more good citizens, to be more civically minded. But it seems that very little is done to actually encourage people who are trying to do something in this direction.

Still, looking on the bright side, I could find myself the happy owner of a tattered red Samsung mobile phone within four weeks if the rightful owner is not found by then and if I can be bothered to claim the thing!


Homophobia turns young people off Christianity


What goes around comes around!

A study of American youths (aged 16 to 29) by The Barna Group shows a declining respect towards Christianity in this age group. It seems that this is at least partly due to the negative attitude of the religious rights (and most established Churches) towards homosexuality.

91% of young non-Christians and 80% of young churchgoers said "anti-homosexual" describes Christianity. Both groups feel that Christians "show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians." They also mention the tendencies of Christian groups to turn homosexuality into a "bigger sin" than anything else while doing little to help young people apply Christian principals to their relation with LGBT friends.

75% of young non-Christians and 50% young Christians also think that Christians are too involved in politics.

Read more about the survey here.


Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Hairspray - A Review

Hairspray poster

It seems that life has made a come-back to the desolate shores of my existence. After the busy past week at the Cycle Show and starting work on the remodeling of the shop, today, I received a phone call from a recent new member of my reading group inviting me, for some incomprehensible reason, to share the bonanza of free tickets to the musical Hairspray at the Shaftesbury. The previews opened on the 11th and the show opens properly on 30th.

The guy is an actor and a friend of his, who seems to be managing the Front of House team (or something like that) had lined up for him two circles tickets complete with complementary Champagne and 3 track CD sampler of the original Broadway recording (the tracks can be downloaded here).

The show is based on John Waters' 1988 film and stars Michael Ball (in Divine's role of Edna Turnblad), Mel Smith (as Edna's husband), Leanne Jones (as their daughter, Tracy) and Ben James-Ellis (as Tracy's love interest).

While Michael Ball is an old hand of musical theatre, Mel Smith, although famous for has never appeared in a musical. And neither has Leanne Jones, the lead, who until a few months ago was still working in a bank. The same goes for Ben James-Ellis, a reject from the BBC's "Any Dream Will Do" competition.

Michael Ball and Leanne Jones in Hairspray
Apart from James-Ellis who doesn't have much presence and whose appearances were rather unmemorable the whole cast is very good indeed (particularly perhaps Johnnie Fiori as "Motormouth" Maybelle). Ball is very good at making us forget that he is a man in drag and the love duet with Smith is actually rather moving. Both the singing and dancing are generally great and the show was a huge amount of fun while still dealing with the serious subjects of difference and acceptance.

The show, which had its premiere at the Neil Simon Theater on Broadway in 2002 and, in 2003, won eight Tonys, including Best Musical. Several transfers to the West End have been rumoured over the years (2003 and 2005) but the show is only reaching our shores now.

On the month marking Black History Month in the UK and after researching content for this Month to publish on the LGBT History Month website and confronted with the dearth of material available, I felt particularly proud that this story had originally been written and filmed by a member of the LGBT community.

Hairspray: The night a new star will be born by Baz Bamigboye, Daily Mail, 12 October 2007
Hairspray - the 1988 film on wikipedia

Hairspray
directed by Jack O'Brien
book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan,
music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman
Shaftesbury Theatre, 210 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8DP
7.30pm
from 11th October
Running Time: 2h40 (15min interval)
tickets: £20 to £60
(no website available)


Saturday, 13 October 2007

Cycle Show

As I think I mentioned earlier, I am currently attending the London Cycle Show at Earls Court.

For those really desperate to know what I am up to, they can visit the Witcomb Cycles blog, where I blog each day about what has been happening on the stand.

For those less interested, let me just say that it is going very very well indeed; far beyond our expectations in fact, and that I am rather tired but also quite excited.


Saturday, 6 October 2007

Maman (Mother)

Maman (Mother) by Louise Bourgeois outside Tate Modern at dusk


Sculpture by Louise Bourgeois. It was part of the first Unilever Series in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern in May 2000 and is made of bronze, stainless steel and marble and measures nine meters high and wide.

"The Spider is an ode to my mother. She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver," the 95-year-old Bourgeois said in a statement as quoted by Reuters.

This is a taster for an exhibition of 200 works by Bourgeois that will open on October 10 and run to January 20, 2008.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

October is Black History Month

LGBT Black History Month logo
To mark the month, LGBT History Month UK have put together resource pages on their website. These include some information about prominent black LGBT people and black LGBT organisations. Their blog will also feature specific posts throughout the month.

You can view these pages by clicking here or on the image above.


Saturday, 29 September 2007

Yellow Beetle

I don't normally remember my dreams. It's probably just as well. The other day however, I remembered the appearance in my slumbering psyche of a yellow beetle flying towards me in my room. Nothing else.

A day or two before that Slightly, who into all these things, told me about two dreams that two members of his family had had about him. Both were apparently good omens predicting financial success.

When I first remembered the nightly insect the morning after, I mistakenly remembered it as a scarab. My friend Google quickly confirmed the hunch I had that scarabs meant good luck in ancient Egypt. Slightly confirmed to me that dreams of any yellow (golden) insect (apart from spiders, who are not insects anyway) announce a windfall.

Perhaps the insect was simply announcing the arrival of the cheque I mentioned in my previous post but I want to believe (and why not), that, coupled with Slightly's own dreams, this has to do with the new venture we are starting together.

On 14th October, I will be at the London Cycle Show. As an exhibitor. This will be the first official outing of the new life of an old south London brand: Witcomb Cycles.

The Witcombs father and son (Ernie and Barrie) have been hand-building bicycle frames since the late 1920's. The company's fortunes have fluctuated over the years but the quality of the bikes has always remained and although the general public has now more or less forgotten about them, those in the know consider Witcomb bikes some of the best bikes to be found.

My mission (and I have accepted it, together with Slightly and our other business partner) is to give the brand the prominence it deserve without diluting the quality and craftsmanship of the products. Initial feedback is very positive already and everyone is very hopeful indeed. In addition to cleaning up the image, we are going to tidy up the workshop based since the beginning in Deptford and create a new range of exclusive products. Details of those will soon appear on the website.

Notices of financial success (even ones as unreliable as dreams) as therefore most welcomed.


Friday, 28 September 2007

Easiest 200 Quid Ever

Tube 3

A couple of weeks ago, I received a message through my Flickr account. It was about the picture above.
I'm from a design company in Covent Garden and would like to use the shot for a brochure for LU. We would of course pay you, but would need a higher resolution image if you have one.
I took the picture around 5.30 one morning in April this year. I am not sure why I was up so early and looking out of the window that day, but the fact is that I did, saw this lovely sight and snapped it.

The brochure is internal to London Underground but I should get a copy anyway. Today I received a cheque for £200 in payment for the use of the picture. That's my now aging digital camera having almost paid for itself (It cost me £300 in 2002).

Funnily enough, a few days later, I received another message by the same channel and about the same picture, although from an American fondery, this time.
I recently just finished developing a series of typefaces based on the London Underground typeface and was wondering if you would mind if i used one of your photos ([link]) for a small informational/promotional PDF file that I would post online. In return for usage of your photo, i am willing to offer licensing to the regular medium weight of the typeface.
I responded that I had little use for license of a typeface. I haven't heard anything more but in any case, I am well chuffed. The unexpected money is nice, of course, but more importantly, and probably wrongly, all this interest tells me that I am perhaps not too bad with a camera.


Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Discriminatory Planned Legislation - Please Help.

The DfES is in the process of consulting the public for the introduction of a bill on barring people from working with children and vulnerable adults.

They are considering a series of offences which would automatically disqualify an individual without a chance of appeal. Among these offences it is surprising to find references to the Sexual Offences Act 1956, notably with the offences of buggery and indecency between men. Both these offences, which were aimed directly at gay men, have now been repealed from the statute books and should therefore not be considered any more.

This would means that some people (older gay men) who might have been convicted of these offences several decades ago would be disqualified while other people who would not have been convicted for the same acts (because no longer an offence) would not be rejected.

There is also an implicit suggestion that gay men are not suitable to work with children and vulnerable adults.

These elements of the consultation seems to have been kept very quiet by the DfES as major gay rights campaigning organisations (Stonewall, Schools Out and others) have not been unaware of them until now. The consultation process closes this Friday. Please try and make a submission to the consultation before then if you can.

Consultation documents:
www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations/conDetails.cfm?consultationId=1476

Schools Out's submission to the consultation:
http://blog.schools-out.org.uk/blog/_archives/2007/9/11/3221862.html


Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Busy

I had a rather busy day today; something I am certainly not used to any more.

I rolled out of bed at 8, had a quick shower and put a suit on, then walked round the block to the Imperial War Museum. I was there as chair of the LGBT Network to attend the Peace Breakfast organised by the Southwark Multi-faith Forum and the Volunteers Centres Southwark to mark the anniversary of 9/11. There were of gay and lesbian people with me and we spread ourselves as much as we could. We didn't really know how we would be received as we had to more or less beg for an open invite to the event. It all went very well and we hope that this is the start of something important.

The Deputy Borough Commander, the Mayor and the rabbi from the South London Liberal Synagogue spoke, awards were given, we ate and had facilitated "discussions". All very civilised and friendly. What was perhaps the most surprising was the the rabbi, during his speech mentioned his involvement with Jews Against the Clause, when he and other prominent (and straight) members of the Jewish community got together to protest against what was to become the infamous Section 28.

He also used a quote from a poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller, which I had just been googling on Sunday after seeing a version of it on placards in footages of some 1970's San Fransisco Pride in the documentary Word is Out.

The event finished just after 11. I had then planned to go and do my food shopping but we had been given free tickets to the Camouflage exhibition at the Museum so I had a kick turn of it. Thankfully it is not very big. I then went home to quickly write a post for the LGBT History Month blog which I had promised for today.

I was supposed to meet Slightly at 1pm to take to bus to North London for a business meeting. Thankfully he was running late and give me 30 min respite which allowed me to do what I had to.

The meeting lasting till about 5 by which time I took the tube (something I haven't done for quite a long time, I tend to either take the bus or walk, these days) to Waterloo in tow of Slightly and boyfriend's. The pair is apparently addicted to Krispy Kreme dough-nuts (the regularity of their visits to such establishments certainly support this affirmation) and today was my day for a first taste of the things, so they had decided.

As we were queuing, a woman suddenly taped on my shoulder asking is this was mine. This was a fiver. I didn't have the presence of mine to say that it was (it wasn't) and she happily went to catch her train home.

I had a Vanilla Cake. The pastry was very light and fluffy but I am still wondering about the name of the damn thing as it had the blandness of taste my (limited) experience tells doughnuts always have. I couldn't really taste any vanilla.

We then walked to the South Bank and along the river to London Bridge Station. From there I walked home by the back streets and so my day ended.

Tomorrow should be much quieter.


Thursday, 30 August 2007

Honouring Mandela

Nelson Mandela
The following comment was left on the picture above on my flickr account:
Hi, Zefrog.
I salute your promptness in getting these photos up and running. This is a great shot, and so I have borrowed it for a piece on www.londonist.com
Thanks.
You can read the article in question here.


Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Madiba

Richard Attenborough, Wendy Wood (widow of the artist, Donald), Ken Livingston, Gordon Brown, Nelson Mandela, Dame Graça Machel (Mandela' s third wife) and the statue
This morning I put my legs on and got myself out of the house for a short walk up the road to Parliament Square where a new statue of Nelson Mandela was being unveiled.

The ceremony was scheduled for 11am but the blog on which I found this information suggested to get there at about 10. This is what I did and was grateful for it as people were already waiting when I got there.

While a short film on Mandela's life was shown on the giant screens, we watched as guests arrived and were directed to their seats by GLA staff (I recognised the Mayor's LGBT advisor, on the breach). Most faces were unknown to me though I spotted (Dr) Brian May (former Queen), Darren Johnson (leader of the Green Party at teh GLA), David Cameron, John Prescott and Peter Hain. There was even a representative of the BME LGBT community which was a nice touch.

Jesse Jackson was there too but he arrived late. The ceremony had already started. He was quick however once it was finished to step up to the statue itself in what I could not help but feel was an attempt to crab people's attention. Soon, a group of people including journalists had joined him...

When Mandela arrived the seated guests stood and everyone cheered. At 89, he had to be helped and walked very slowly but he still seemed very perky.

The poet Benjamin Zephaniah welcomed us and after arendition of Something Inside So Strong (a favourite song of my choir) by the London Gospel Community Choir (who sang with us at Singing River), Richard Attenborough (chairman of the Nelson Mandela Statue Trust) took the stand and introduced the various speakers as their time came to speak.

First is was Wendy Wood, the widow of Donald Wood originated the idea of a statue and designed it. Then it was the turn of Ken Livingston who had given his support to the project several years ago. Finally Gordon Brown took to the mic before unveiling the statue helped by Livingston and Wood.

Brown actually seemed a little star-struck, even muscling in on the wife a couple of times to take the great man's arm and help him along.

Mandela speaking
Mandela said a few words after this, saying how Oliver Tambo (his companion of struggle) would have been proud to see the statue of a black man in Parliament Square, a few metres away from that of Jan Christiaan Smut. He informed us that he intended to be back in London during the summer next year when a concert would take place in a park to celebrate his 90th birthday and raise fund for his anti-AIDS charity: 46664.

The events was closed by a performance by a group of young dancers (Notting Hill Carnival style) and another three songs by the London Gospel Community Choir.

Although the guests had by now left, the crowd seemed to linger on enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. Quite unusual to be honest: strangers talking to each other. Rather unheard of in London. The Mandela Magic, I am guessing.

I walked back home.

This is of course not the only picture of Mandela that can be seen in London. There a giant head of the man on the side of the Royal Festival Hall, on the South Bank.

The picture at the top shows Richard Attenborough, Wendy Wood (widow of the artist, Donald), Ken Livingston, Gordon Brown, Nelson Mandela, Dame Graça Machel (Mandela' s third wife) and the statue. The second picture shows Nelson Mandela speaking to us.

You can view my pictures of the event here.

See also:
* Nelson Mandela statue is unveiled - BBC News
* Mandela 'honoured' as statue unveiled - The Guardian

Saturday, 25 August 2007

High Ranking Islam

Just when I said I had nothing to blog about, I had a look at the traffic counter for this blog (to be found at the bottom of the sidebar) and realised that a picture I uploaded in February 2006 is ranking second (out of just under 2M) in the Google Images search for Islam. I am getting quite a few hits from there.

This was at the time of the controversy surrounding the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by a Swedish paper. I had used the pic to illustrate one of my posts on the subject (the others can be found here, here and here).

So far, I haven't received any comment or reaction but I am fully expecting some nutter to take offense of my western liberal anti-religious views on the subject. This extra traffic will probably not even bring me any extra readers since, just like the other high ranking pic on this blog (number 8 out of about 4.5M), it probably won't be the favorite search term for people who would be interested by the content of this blog.


Blank

After several weeks without a computer, I am indeed finally back online and I know I should be blogging like there is no tomorrow. However, and please note that I am not moaning or being depressed (or even asking for help) about it, my life is currently a complete blank. I have no social interaction to speak of with any one and I spend most of my weeks at home. I went out only three times this week. Once to Tesco for my food shopping, a second time was a lovely outing of the Southwark LGBT Network at the National Portrait Gallery for a queer view of a few of their paintings. Finally, yesterday, I had a meeting with my business partners. The rest of the time is more or less a blur of nothingness.

If you are really missing reading what I can come up with (although you won't find opinion pieces), you can find me on the LGBT History Month blog of which I am the editor. The blog provides information and events details of events linked to LGBT History. I hope you find it interesting.


Monday, 20 August 2007

It's New, It's Shiny and it's Mine

After 8 weeks of customer service comedy, phone calls and toing and froing of all kinds, I received on Saturday a voucher to replace my laptop which had been deemed irreparable after having been lost and found (more on this later). So today, I went to PC World on the Old Kent Road and gave myself over to the dark side.

TADDAAAAH!

A Macbook!

In the first few weeks of my troubles, I had been lent a laptop running Vista and I have to say I was not impressed. What I like(d) about PC's is that you can fiddle. You can tweak things, go behind the screen and adapt. To an extent.

Mac on the other hand runs smoothly, is all about integration and in many ways is for people who are more interested in results than in learning how to use a computer.

Vista, in my few, unfortunately and unhappily sits on the fence and ends up to be more frustrating than anything else. This herralds the end of the fiddly PC as I liked it.

Mac is also the machine of choice for people working in the creative industry (as I do now), so that should make things easier at work.

Last week, Slightly was on holiday and he lent me his own Macbook, which gave me the opportunity of a test drive before buying. There are a few things, nagging little details (and those are always the most annoying ones) which I am going to have to learn with. There is also an issue with some PC-based software I am used to (and can't do without) with no equivalent on Mac... Bootcamp, here I come!

Technical specifications:
* 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
* 4MB cache
* 1GB RAM
* 80GB hard disk drive
* 13.3-inch screen
* Height: 1.08 inches (2.75 cm)
* Width: 12.78 inches (32.5 cm)
* Depth: 8.92 inches (22.7 cm)
* Weight: 5.1 pounds (2.31 kg)
* up to 6 hours of battery life
* More


Thursday, 19 July 2007

Interuption of Service

About a month ago, my laptop decided to die on me. It just refused to start up. I sent it to the repair people via courier. Repairs were going to take two weeks (and that was only changing the CD player (which was also not working) so that I could restore the whole: ie do the work myself!

I still haven't received my laptop back although apparently the repairs have been made. The laptop has apparently been lost by Parceline the courier company (who are not very good: they have apparently been several times but can't be bothered to use my mobile phone. Slightly has had problem with them with the reasons why his stuff wasn't delivered changing at each new phone call).

I am not really bothered about the laptop. It was getting oldish (3 years) and all my data is backed up. Getting a new one seems like a good thing after all.

During all that time, the nice people at LGBT History Month (I am their webmaster, now remember) have lent me a laptop and by the same token, life! Today however I have to give the laptop back, as it is needed for something else.

I am supposed to hear from the PC people by tomorrow to see how things are going to happen but for all I know it could be another couple of weeks before I am back online.

I have plenty of reading to catch up with, I suppose but to be honest, and I know it is a bit sad, I don't know how I am going to cope...


Wednesday, 18 July 2007

London Gay Men's Chorus - Bad Boys

Bad Boys flyer



Let loose and on the run!
Fresh from the Scotland leg of the Bad Boys Tour, the London Gay Men's Chorus is back in London; brace yourselves for one of the sexiest, sassiest celebrations of villainy ever seen on stage.

Including music from James Bond, Chicago, Carmen Jones and Jerry Springer - The Opera, and songs by Queen, The Eagles and Wham, everybody knows Bad Boys get the good tunes and this show has them all.

It’s about low lives lived on the wrong side of the tracks. It’s about going off the rails. From the back of the classroom to the depths of the underworld, it’s one hell of a ride. Tickets are going fast!

Concert includes:
Queen: We will Rock You, Don't Stop me Now, Bohemian Rhapsody
Wham: Bad Boys
Carmina Burana: O Fortuna
The Eagles: Desperado
Jerry Springer: The Opera "I Just Wanna Dance"
Tom Lehrer: Machismo Tango
Frankie Goes to Hollywood: Relax

Bad Boys
Cadogan Hall
5 Sloane Terrace
London SW1X 9DQ
July 20 and July 21 2007 - 7:30pm
Box Office: 020 7730 4500
Book online for Friday
Book online for Saturday

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Salvation Madness

A friend of mine with an interest (bordering on the mania) in the history of theatres and cinemas regularly asks me, usually after imparting some obscure point of trivia, if I think he is mad. I don't think he is particularly. People with a passion, especially the kind of passion that doesn't hurt anyone, are usually interesting and for me admirable, since my enthusiasm is a rather lethargic beast.

After tonight, I think I might have to become the one asking the other whether I am mad.

The shop on the ground floor of the house I have been living in for about 4 years now has recently changed owners. For about a month, there has been some extensive works in the shop and tonight the fascia and signage of the old shop were taken down and unceremoneously dumped.

Just after midnight, to be sure that all workers were gone, I sneeked out and from the pile of unwanted plastic retrieved one of the panels that used to hang perpendicularly from the first floor outside wall of house.


It seemed like a good idea at the time. After all that sort of thing usually disappear with the establishments they announced and no one thinks about conserving them. I thought the thing could become some interesting to hang from my walls when I finally move on to my own place. This with the added value that it welcomed me to this place and I spent part of my live at that sign.

The sheet of plastic, at about 1.2 square metre, is however bigger than I imagined and it takes rather a lot of place in my current cupboard of a room. The colours are also a little bit garish. Now that the thing is all cleaned up and staring back at me, to be honest, I am not sure what to do with it now.

Do you think I am mad?


Friday, 13 July 2007

Gloria Gaynor homophobic?

Gloria Gaynor is currently in the uk for a series of shows. This morning she was interviewed by Radio4's Woman's Hour. The singer talked about her youth, her career, about some of her most famous songs, several of which have become gay anthems. She also talked about her becoming a born again Christian.

Finally the interviewer asked her about her status as a gay icon. She said she was really pleased with this and that saw it as an opportunity to lead her fans towards Christ. The interviewer then asked several times if there might be a contradiction between her faith and her having a gay fan base, if she considered homosexuality as a sin. Gaynor each time refused to answer the question directly. She only said that she is leading her fans to Christ and what he has to offer to them.

The interview can be listened to for a limited period of time here.

More details here.


Thursday, 12 July 2007

Serious Serendipity

Serendipity is like a benevolent fairy godmother for many a gay man looking for his roots. The fact that our history as a group has been so carefully hidden and pushed into the proverbial closet for so long makes any new discovery like a victory, even if that very discovery has been and will be made over and over by fellow solitary travellers.

I had such moment of serendipity earlier this week, itself the result of another such moment for someone else. A Friend of mine with an interest in theatre and cinema brought my attention to a BBC Radio 2 which had delivered to him more than the original unpromising expected few comments about a certain film. The programme, about the evolution of the representation of sexual moors in British cinema, included some un-trailed remarks about a few moments of cinematographic LGBT history which my friend thought worth sharing.

DVD jacket of VictimThe programme of course mentioned the well known film Victim which was released in 1961. The film was quite a risky career move for its star, Dirk Bogarde, then at the pinnacle of his art. This depiction of a respectable lawyer risking his life and reputation to unmask an unscrupulous blackmailer is often credited for having helped the change of mentality started in 1957 by the release of the Wolfenden Report which would lead to the partial decriminalisation of sexual acts between men in 1967. It is also hailed as the first positive representation of a gay character in British cinema.

If first heard of the film about 3 years ago by chance (serendipity again) while listening to an interview of Sylvia Syms (who plays Bogarde's character's wife) on Radio 4's Front Row to mark a retrospective of her career at what was still the National Film Theatre (NFT). The programme mentioned the film, what it was about and that it was being shown that same night at the NFT. I had recently moved to my current home which is located very close to the South Bank where the NFT is. I grabbed my chance and made a dash for it, something which would have been futile to attempt only a few months earlier when I lived further out. I made it in time and was able to enjoy the film which not only was good and moving but also clearly an important landmark for gay history.

In addition to Victim, the Radio 2 programme mentioned above made reference to another film released in 1959. The film is Serious Charge of which I had never heard of before. The film was released a Touch of Hell in the US in 1960. Directed by Terrence Young, it tells how an unmarried vicar in a new parish, Reverend Philips, (Anthony Quayle) accuses a local youth of being partially responsible for the death of a teenage girl. In defiance, the young man claims the vicar molested him. His story is backed up by a local woman (Sarah Churchill), vexed that the vicar rejected her advances. I searched the Internet to try and found more about this film and impulsively decided to buy a cheapish copy.

I watched the film last night. What a strange idea for a film! The fact that it is now presented and packaged as Cliff Richard's first appearance in a film (which probably saved the thing from total oblivion and allowed me to find it on DVD I guess) makes it even weirder. Also featured is the second daughter of Winston Churchill.

The film has this empty small-town feel you find in 1950's British films. The performances are really quite good despite a rather unfocused, drawn out and sometimes unrealistic plot. There are long and slightly pointless sequences of exposition showing the group of local "juvenile delinquents" which is led by the future accuser although you should probably remember that what we now call youth culture was only just out of diapers and therefore probably still fairly exotic.

In 1959, homosexuality was still illegal, yet once the accusation of sexual assault by the vicar becomes public knowledge, the local constable does not pay a visit to the man, unlike the hire of the righteous inhabitant of the village which is visited upon our man of the cloth through ostracisation, stones thrown through windows and anonymous letters. In the end, however and probably quite unlike the reality of the time for other men accused of homosexuality, everything ends well as the truth is finally victorious.

DVD jacket of Serious ChargeThe film is an early and tentative foray down the ill-lit alley later explored by Victim but it is also quite different. Reverend Philips, the main character, is for a start not homosexual, unlike Melville Farr in Victim. This meant that audiences could empathise with the hero in good conscience. Homosexuality seems little more than a plot device and the fact that it is homosexuality that we are talking about doesn't seem to matter much other than that if the producers were out to denounce parochial prejudice, this was probably what would be likely to generate the most violent reactions. The reactions remained pretty tame but the film was still given a "X" certificate thereby restricting even more what must have been an already limited constituency.

In the end, it is not very clear what point the makers wanted to make with this film. It is however a departure from the hitherto standard depiction of gay characters who were usually killers and psychopaths. Something for which the film must be lauded. In Serious Charge, audience members were offered an opportunity. They would require little effort, should they want to, to view Philips as really gay and therefore as a victim of society and from then start sympathising with his predicament.

In 1960, The Trials of Oscar Wilde was released. I haven't seen the film and don't know much about it but Oscar Wilde's story can certainly be viewed as that of a victim, a martyr, some would say. This theme of victimhood epitomised in the title of the third film on the subject released at the time is the result of the new attitude towards homosexuality heralded by the Wolfenden Report. The report recommended that homosexuals should not be considered as criminals any more but rather safeguarded "against exploitation and corruption".

From monsters, they (we) had become victims and from then on, gay characters made regular if sporadic appearances on British screens along with other social rejects (more about this here). The representation of gay people in film followed closely the level of acceptance they received from society as a whole.

In my view, Serious Charge is not as good a film as Victim but it remains an interesting period piece and a document of its time; a time when the light was just about starting to shine at the end of the dark tunnel of discrimination.

Saturday, 30 June 2007

Gay London


Despite the recent discovery of two bombs in the West End on Friday and the unwelcoming weather, the streets of London got invaded by hords of festive homosexuals today.

Neither above mentioned circumstances seem to have managed to deter people from making a stand. The heavens truely opened just before the Parade got underway at 1pm but then the skies became more clement and the rest of the afternoon went ok in that respect.

This year for the first time since my first Pride (in 2003), I wasn't stewarding the parade but simply took part in the fun. I was walking with the Southwark LGBT Network (of which I am the Chair, as some may remember).

Last year (like the two previous years) the Network had a float. I was a "wheel Stewart" for said float. This year we had decided to go for something a little less honerous (both financally and in terms of organisation) and had simply hired 4 bug bugs (with "drivers") and had invited people to come with their wheels (bicycle, pram, wheelchair, whatever).

Since I wasn't busy preventing people from throwing themselves under the wheels of a lorry, I had brought my camera with me and have come back home with almost 200 pictures. A selection of which can be viewed here.

There was the usual assortment of strange costumes, naked muscle men, whistles and loud music. The Christians were once again caged off in Waterloo Place. There were many of them and people on the parade seemed mostly amused. We waved at them and blew kisses. One of them, rather cute, seemed ready to be rescued, waving back at us as he was.

A new addition to the mix (it seems to me) were a handful of members of the National Front with a rather elaboratedly made banner asking to outlaw "homosexual marriage" and a few placards calling for a ban of the Gay Police Association.

Once the parade was over, I had a quick wander around Trafalgar Square. Listen to Ken's speech and went round the stalls, collecting badges, a few prospectuses and a few free books.

All of the above an more in the selection of pictures. Enjoy.

Tonight (and last night already) the London Eye has gone rainbow to celebrate Pride. Unfortunately my camera refuses to show the lights' clours for some reason...

I can hear fireworks just now but I have no idea where they are and/or this is part of today's rejoicing.

Ha

Slightly:


is not aging well:

Old Bunny



Friday, 29 June 2007

On the RSA

Some trawling of the net I was doing earlier today for research purposes took me to the website of the venerable Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce.

RSA

I had a bit of a schock there as I recognised bank in the middle of the front page a picture I took a few months back. This was in Trafalgar Square for an event called Eat London where community groups had recreated a map of London with food. I took the picture on the steps of the square as a good illustration of London's diverse population.

I am rather chuffed, I must say.

Below you can view the original pic and the credit on the RSA website:

London diversity proof

Monday, 25 June 2007

What I Heard about Iraq

by Eliot Weinberger, London Review of Books, Vol. 27 No. 3, 3 February 2005

A prose poem drawing on reports, newspapers, official utterances and eye-witness accounts to paint a terrifying picture of the war in Iraq.

In 1992, a year after the first Gulf War, I heard Dick Cheney, then secretary of defense, say that the US had been wise not to invade Baghdad and get ‘bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq’. I heard him say: ‘The question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is: not that damned many.’

In February 2001, I heard Colin Powell say that Saddam Hussein ‘has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours.’

That same month, I heard that a CIA report stated: ‘We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since Desert Fox to reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction programmes.’

In July 2001, I heard Condoleezza Rice say: ‘We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.’

On 11 September 2001, six hours after the attacks, I heard that Donald Rumsfeld said that it might be an opportunity to ‘hit’ Iraq. I heard that he said: ‘Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.’

I heard that Condoleezza Rice asked: ‘How do you capitalise on these opportunities?’
Read the rest of the poem...

On 11 May 2007, BBC radio 4 broadcast a version of the poem adapted for radio by Simon Levy, featuring Tony Pasqualini, Bernadette Speakes, Darcy Halsey, Marc Casabani, Ryun Yu and directed Tim Dee.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

The Touch Typed Diary - Closure

And so ends this tiny glimpse into my psyche of 2002. I hope you enjoyed it or at least found it of interest.

Most of the people you have met in those few pages are now no longer part of my life. MPB, the polish woman, I decided to let go after a while when I realised that the relationship was too strongly tipping to her advantage for my liking. I perhaps did not do that at the best time for her, and I am slightly ashamed of that timing but I had to be done.

Right after my trip to Paris, PFM decided to cut all communication with me, without explanation. This did not come as too much of a surprise as I had seen her do the same thing to other people in the past. My guess is that she got back with K. and that my insistance, when I saw her in Paris, that it was probably best for her that the relationship should have stopped did not endear me too much. I don't know.

MFS gave up on my after a while when she saw she could not interest me in her buddhist practice. She also found herself a boyfriend and moved on with her two teenage sons.

I can not quite remember what happened with P. I had completely forgotten about him actually until re-reading these pages. I think that we kept in touch electronically for a while but never met again and he stopped responding after a while. I have also lost touch with my former landlords and flat mates.

F. I hear of from time to time, usually via a message on Gayromeo. He had a relationship for a couple of years with a guy and is now at the beginning of another one, I think.

GSJ are still good friends. He is now one of the people I have known the longest in London and one of my closest friends (although that is quite a relative title as we only meet every few months, usually for a play). He has been living with a guy for a few years now.

It is interesting to see how naive and judgemental I was at the time. I hope I have move on from this but I am not convinced at all that I have. Those 15 vignettes also show how little my life has moved one in five years. Of course, I have moved house, given up on a job and found another since then but I am still hanckering for companionship. My hopes still find themselves raised by what seems to be new beginnings when it is only a false start.

"Plus ca change, moins ca change" as you say in this country.

All the installments are here.


Tuesday, 12 June 2007

The Touch Typed Diary - Final

Some background to what follows can be found here. Other installments are here.

I started this as a way to train at touch typing (hence the title) which I have finally taken up learning more or less seriously. At first I was typing what nonsense came across my mind and deleted it once I had finished. Gradually, it just turned into a diary relating the events (not very numerous) of my life. This has also the advantage of keeping me relatively busy at work when I have nothing else to do which seem to happen rather frequently these days.

02 April 2002

A long and busy week-end that was. It was Easter and for that reason the week-end comprised two Bank Holidays.

I went for my run on Friday morning and although I ran for an hour I did not feel as tired as the previous times and felt it was altogether easier than usual. The training seems to be starting to have an effect at last.

In the afternoon I went to MPB’s in Twickenham to help her rearrange the furniture in her room. In the evening, it had been arranged with my flatmates that we would all be going to a bar in Soho and then to Heaven.

I had just the time on my way back from MPB’s to grab a bit of food before heading to Barselona on Old Compton Street accompanied by T. who had been waiting for me. B. and J. were there already together with several of their friends, all of them in different degree of drunkenness. We did not stay very long and soon decided to make a move towards the club as we had to be there rather early for our vouchers to be valid.

We never made to the club though. It took sometime to settle down the bill (about £100 !!!) and then J. was sick on the pavement outside the bar and started to cry.

After a while everyone decided to go home and the party broke off. I will not comment on this evening, as it is not far away on my list of the worst parties I have been to behind the Polish party related earlier on these pages. I had a short stroll around Soho and then went back home.

Saturday was uneventful. On Sunday I had arranged to meet with P. at one at Waterloo Station. We had decided to go to Hampstead Heath but the weather proving a bit menacing at the last minute, we decided for a stroll around the West End. We ended up at the Wallace Collection of which we did not see much as we very quickly sat down on a sofa and started chatting. After a while we made our way back to Soho and went for a drink at the Box (We saw Aiden Shaw on the way).

We spent a couple of hours there bitching about our fellow patrons and rather enjoyed ourselves a as result. We also discuss my taste in men and that sort of thing. P. seems to be very eager to see me “hitched” as he puts it. And is actually rather helpful with his advice. I am getting rather desperate myself regarding this and would really like to meet someone soon. We then walked aimlessly in Soho, not really knowing what to do or where to go until we settled down for having some food at a small, cheap, tacky Italian restaurant on Old Compton Street where we related our respective experiences with men. We said good night at Piccadilly Circus around 8.

On Monday afternoon, I went to Camden Town with T., J. and a girlfriend of hers, E.. We went from café to café, and from shop to shop and had a really good time. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the crowd there. I think I will go back there more regularly.

I tried on a leather long coat and a kilt but was not sure about either purchase and ended up buying nothing. This is just as well as my six month contract starts this month and I will be without much money until pay day at the end of the month.

Towards the end of the day, we went to Old Compton Street (again!) to meet up with B. and E.’s boyfriend, A., who had been working at a recording studio and were now waiting for us at Bar Italia. On the way I had a glimpse of GSJ was has given up any contact again. He was seated on a terrace at the corner of Frith Street. He seemed to have dyed his hair blond.

I did not stop to talk to him but managed a bright and foolish “hiya” totally out of place since he did not seem to pleased to see me.

Apart form the aborted night on Friday, I had very good time this week end and was feeling a bit down at the idea of going back to work. Next week end might be quite enjoyable too but things can still change.

I really want to try and meet someone now as I am really fed up of being on my own. I have a profile on 3 different Internet sites and hope that someone interesting will finally take notice of me. I have also decided to go to clubs where I am more likely to meet muscley guys. I will go to Peckham’s gym tonight to enquire about their price and will seriously consider joining (I might meet someone there but most of all I do not think I can hope catching a guy like I am dreaming about if I am not more stocky and also I would feel more at ease with myself and more confidant if I like the way I look).


Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Singing River

Following yesterday's post, here is more (official) information about the event (although we are not officially doing the Saturday gig. It looks like individuals will be invited to come along if they want):

Six London Choirs perform on a converted barge as it sails from Tower Bridge up the Thames to the Royal Festival Hall, culminating in a grand choral piece composed by Orlando Gough (The Shout) and performed together with a 150 strong choir from Southbank Centre’s Voicelab led by Mary King and Matthew Morley.

Choirs: British Gospel Arts, Velvet Fist, London Bulgarian Choir, London Gay Men’s Chorus, Raise the Roof, Maspindzeli, Voicelab Surge.

Soloists: The Shout - Melanie Pappenheim, Carol Grimes, Manickam Yogeswaran and Jeremy Birchall; Megaphonistas: Philip Canner, Matt Broadbent, Luke Bateman, Mark Wright, Ayozi, Ciara Burrows, Tom Giles, Eliza Wren-Payne.

This Southbank Centre commission of Singing River is based upon an original commission by Marie Zimmermann for Theatre Der Welt.
Direction and Choreography : Tom Ryser

Many thanks to:
Bob Anderson and crew, London Fire Brigade; Christopher Mendoza and Geoff Buckby Port of London Authority; James Gilbert, London River Services; Tower Life Boats - Royal National Lifeboat Institute; Michael Barnett and Bryan Hopkins, Maritime and Coastguard Agency; Paul Wilson, City Cruises; Tom Naughton, British Waterways.

Friday 8th & Saturday 9th - 10pm
(start time from Tower Bridge 9.20pm)
RIVERSIDE TERRACE

You can view pictures of the rehearsals here.

www.southbankcentre.co.uk/overture
www.lgmc.org.uk

Originally published on 31 May


Saturday, 2 June 2007

The Touch Typed Diary - Men

Some background to what follows can be found here. Other installments are here.

I started this as a way to train at touch typing (hence the title) which I have finally taken up learning more or less seriously. At first I was typing what nonsense came across my mind and deleted it once I had finished. Gradually, it just turned into a diary relating the events (not very numerous) of my life. This has also the advantage of keeping me relatively busy at work when I have nothing else to do which seem to happen rather frequently these days.

25 March 2002

The previous weekend had seen me going to the Box with J. on Friday night. I was on my way out when B. proposed that I took her out for a drink as he was going to work and she was feeling a bit down. It took us a long time to get there as we had troubles finding a space to park the car. Once there we managed to find a table and started to chat while checking out the boys.

At some point a guy literally dumped himself on the chair next to me were I had left my coat. He then proceeded to stare at J. and finally introduced himself. His behaviour was quite strange a bit like he was drunk. He told us some ridiculous things like the fact that he was tired because he owned a bakery. But when I asked him whether he would be going to work soon, he said he had staff working for him. J. and I proceeded to ignore him and he finally left. As the bar was closing, we had a stroll in Soho and then made our way home.

I went for a run on Saturday morning and decided to make my route longer so that I would be at it for about an hour. I had to take a nap in the afternoon.

I went to Heaven that night but did not really enjoy it. I left after only two hours although it felt like I had been there for 3 to 4 hours! It was not altogether a waste of time though as I was checked out by several guys and even had a smile.

I was looking at a group of guys some of which I thought had been looking at me earlier when I noticed a guy dancing between me and the group. He was slightly smaller than I am and even though not strikingly beautiful, he was rather handsome in a discreet Jewish sort of way. Our eyes met several times and I finally smiled at him and he smiled back. I was already imagining how things would develop from there when the guy that was with him drag him away from the dance floor and out of the room. The guy looked back at me once or twice but it was so unexpected that I did not even think about following him. It was still quite early anyway and I thought that he would come back after a while so I decided to wait there. He did not come back though and I decided to go around the club to see if I could find him but to no avail…
I met T. at the bus stop in Aldwich and we got back home together.

On Sunday, I went to a meeting of the reading group. The book we were discussing did not really raise the enthusiasm of the masses and we soon drifted to other subjects. We got so engrossed that three hours later we were still at it. The longest meeting we have ever had by far.

The next day, I got an e-mail from F, the German member, telling me that he could not wait for the next meeting to see me and asking me for a drink.

We had decided to meet at 2 at the statue of Oscar Wilde behind St Martin in the Fields and then go to see an exhibition at the National Gallery on Baroque Paintings in Genoa. When we got to the museum the crowd was streaming out very tightly packed. This was due to a fire alarm, which we were told would mean the museum would be closed for at least half an hour.

We decided to go to a cafe and enjoy the sunshine on a terrace. After erring for a while, not able to find any suitable place (we went all the way to Old Compton!) we ended up at the Box, yes the dear old Box! and spent 2 hours there chatting or rather have a discussion as we talked about rather serious things. We then retraced our way to the NG and viewed the exhibition and had a bit of a wander around the galleries (The exhibition is nothing to write home about really, as it comprises about 20 paintings and a film).

The museum was closing at six, so we were promptly thrown out.

We decided to head back to Old Compton to have something to eat and ended up at the Stockpot, a tiny cheap place towards the unfashionable end of the street. Once our strength rebuilt, F. suggested that we go and see a film: Gosford Park, the latest Robert Altman. So off we went. Although the plot is very predictable (I can not see how they got an Oscar for best Screenplay), it is a good film with a nice depiction of the life in a large country house. If you liked Remains of the Day, you will enjoy this film as well.

I have now seen the 4 last films by Altman (Short Cuts, Pret a Porter, Cookie's Fortune and Gosford Park) and I am become a real fan I have to say.

Anyway, when I got back home it was past 11.

It was a very enjoyable afternoon and we both agreed that we should do it again. I am still a bit concerned about F.'s motives though. And if I am certain that I will not want anything more than friendship with him (and it is more than a lack of physical attraction, I am not attracted to him in any way), I am not convinced that he is ready to stop there.... I did drop a hint though, regarding musclely guys (we were at newsagent and saw the cover of a bodybuilding magazine. The guy on the picture was really massive and I pointed him out to F. who said he could not get it. I said I could or rather I wished I could get it!).

On Sunday I felt a bit depressed about the whole business. I think this was one of the first dates I had ever been (or if it was not one I think it is very close to being one, probably because of the way I perceive F.'s motivations) and I had felt like cuddling at the cinema; not because it was F. but because I was alone in the dark with a nice guy and that is what you do in those circumstances and that is what I long to be able to do with a special someone.

Once again, I am very close to the special someone but it is not him and it feels like it is never going to happen.