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.



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.


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)

You can view pictures of the rehearsals here.

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.