Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Farewell

Life is apparently very much like the sea. It sees tempests and gale force winds, lulls and quietudes. It ebbs and flows, creates and destroys. People, like the pebbles on a beach, come and go with the flow, are united and scattered.

Tonight, I bid farewell to a Petr, about whom I wrote a few weeks ago and for whom I designed a website, on his last night in London before his flight back to the Czech Republic tomorrow. While on our past few meetings we had seemed to have grown apart (perhpas in preparation of his departure), the strange and fragile bond we seem to have was back in full force tonight. This made the last good byes (almost on the platform of a train station) a little bit awkward.

After I posted about his present (see link above), another friend of mine from the Chorus, by the strangest of coincidences, recognised who I was talking about and sent me a few photos to confirm that we were talking about the same person. He had met Petr about two years ago at a party organised for his best friend's birthday who was living in Prague at the time. I had wanted to tell this episode in the same semi fictional way that I told the story of the cup but had unfortunately not found an appropriate angle for this.

His departure marks another schrinkage in my already almost inexistent social life. Petr was the one person in the past few months which I have seen socially on a regular basis if not that often.

To counterbalance this and as an example of the creative forces of life, we learn from the Other Side, that Slightly has got himself engaged to his (still fairly) new man. All my wishes to the lovebirds.

He is also getting all exciting about his future new bike... Kids!


New Blogchild

You may have noticed a new blog appearing in my blogroll on the sidebar. This is the brainchild of a new friend who is now also my latest blogchild.

Diary of an Addict will probably be quite different in tone to Slightly's efforts (Slightly being my first blogchild) but I hope you will find yourself coming back to it regardless.


Tuesday, 20 February 2007

When in the UK, Do as the Romans Do

This is gist of the somewhat confusing piece of advice I received from Slightly this morning. We were discussing Shrove Tuesday (that's today) and the fact that the Brits have pancakes whereas the French, who call the day Mardi Gras have sweet fried dumplings usually served as 5cm wide, 20cm long strips of dough, one extremity of which is passed through a slit in its middle.

Of course the French also have a pancake day. It is called Chandeleur (the Brit's Candlemas) and is celebrated on 02 February. As I felt a sudden, and mostly unheard of, urge for cooking this morning and because dumplings would have been to complicated to do (I don't have the frying bits), I decided to follow the aforementioned advice and make pancakes. Well, not pancakes really but rather, going halfway between total aculturation and French stubbornness, crêpes.

Since I don't cook (while the Brits may do so, a self respecting Frenchman (and in light of this factoid I must be one) would not consider doing pasta and rice, cooking), I had to nip out to Tesco and get the ingredients after a quick google for a recipe. Soon I was mixing the stuff away...

Getting started

Put 500gr of plain flour in a bowl, add a pinch of salt, 6 eggs and one liter of milk. Mix carefully to avoid creating lumps. I missed that bit and did get lumps in my mixture. I managed to skim most of them though. When you are done, add 2 or 3 spoonfuls of rum.

The lumpsOne coming...

I then greased my pan (not the proper sort of pan for crêpes, which should be flat and with very low adges) and started cooking the darned things. I am pleased to say I didn't went to badly and in about 40 min, I found myself with enough crêpes to feed the French army. Did I mention that the figures I gave above were for 8 persons?

Help yourselves

I had a few but there are still plenty left. It would be nice to have someone to share them with but no one was available (as they say of Cabinet Ministers on the radio).

Go on, give me a hand, help yourself.

Happy Shrove Tuesday!

And, yesh, jey do tashte rajher nishe... shank you.

Friday, 16 February 2007

No, Americans Are Not Stupid




Thursday, 15 February 2007

Valentine's Day Aftermath

I received a piece of rather sobering news today that, if I wasn't already such a cynic, would probably have made me one. Last night's excitment, related in my previous post, is all but dead and I am back to my usual stupor. Gone is the fairy godmother, back is the spinsterly old bitch.

TH just told me that nothing would be happening with SC for the very good reason that he (TH) already has a boyfriend. They have been going out for three or four weeks apparently and things are going well. SC has apparently been made aware of the impossibility this creates.

TH has apparently committment problems which lead him to do things "unconsciously" that will endanger his relationships. I was apparently one of these not so unconscious things. He said he was going to cancel, had I not said we were only meeting as friends.

We were chatting on MSN about that so I don't have much details. I know that lots of people show that type of behaviour. I have met such people before and I can understand why this is happening but I have problem accepting this particular example of the problem. Not only did TH actively seek someone else to be unfaithful to his boyfriend with but he also did that on a highly symbolic day. It's not like he just succumbed to temptation or had a truely unconscious reaction. And yet he says he is committed to the guy.

I know that a big issue I will have to face, if and when I enter a relationship, will be that of trust. I am not here talking particularly of sexual faithfulness (which, contradictorilly perhaps, I don't think I really care about) but rather of the fact that I need to trust the people I have around me (all the more so in the case of a partner). I need to know that they are not trying to decieve me, that I can rely on them and that they will be truthfull with me.

I guess also, that although this has very little to do with me (and even though I am not blaming him for anything), I feel slightly betrayed myself by TH's behaviour presumably because he acted apparently so resolutely and cold-headedly to deceive, well, both his boyfriend and myself. We have quite clearly clicked and it looks like we are going to be great friends. This episode however is a set back of the evolution of the friendship and one that will require some effort to overlook.

I have also often dwelled on the fact that, from my observations, love and relationships seem to be more often than not a source of pain and suffering rather than happyness and growth. This episode will do little to alleviate my doubts and while I will probably keep on pining for my princely soulmate, like the good prepubescent teenager girl that I can be, I also find myself comforted in the idea that I perhaps am not so bad on my own after all, however miserable a situation it can be.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Valentine's Day Romance?

I am feeling quite excited and chuffed tonight, which is admitedly something you will rarely get to read on this blog. Enjoy the feeling! I certainly do.


(I know I used this pic last year already but it appeals to my cynical nature.)

As chance would have it, I meant up with two guys, today of all days. Both were met on the Internet, in one of THOSE websites.

The first one, let's call him SC, I had actually already met several years ago at a dinner party held by a mutual friend. We had not been in touch after that, until he spotted my profile a few days ago. After lots of chatting online, and since we seem to get along nicely, we had decided to test the water in the "real" world, choosing Valentine's Day without much purpose other perhaps than a slight post-modern thought.

The second guy, TH for you, I also met a few days ago and similarly, upon seeing how great we went on online, we had decided to meet up "for real". Today's meeting with TH actually not quite the first one either. We very quickly met last night at the Age Concern Cabaret night where I was singing. I had let him know about it and he had decided to come along. We only exchanged a few words at the time.

I spent a good time with both guys but had, like with too many others before, to tell them, that the only relationship we would have would be a friendly and platonic one (and I am not implying that men are queueing around the block for me but simply that I would like to meet one I don't have to do that to).

Once I got home, as I was chatting to SC on msn, the idea suddenly struck me that since TH has physical features similar to mine, SC might be interested in him. I showed TH's profile to SC who immediately confirmed my suspicion. I now had to confirm with TH that he might find SC of interest. I gave him a quick phone call to tell him to log on once I got home and when he did so, showed him SC's profile to which he gave his seal of approval.

The last step of my machiavelic plan was to actually introduce the pair to each other, which I forthwith did by the means of a "threeway" MSN chat, asking the guys to add each other to their respective contact list and to make me a braidsmaid when the time comes. They greeted each other, exchanged a few jokes and quickly logged off for the night.

This is probably the most exciting Valentine's Day I have ever had. Not only do I meet two guys on the day but I also get to play matchmaker... A dream come true, surely for a meddling old spinster like moi. SC also showed me the profile of one of his contacts whom he says is a "nice bloke". He certainly has a great body...

On a side note, it was amazing how many couples were out tonight wallowing in their rosy tinted happyness and brandishing roses and other bunches of flowers. A surprising number of visibly gay and lesbian couples had also joined in the fun.

Let's hope this story ends well for TH and SC... I'll keep you posted.

Friday, 9 February 2007

My LGBT History Month So Far

I have attended events (and helped organise some too) since the inception of LGBT History Month, three years ago. I am a big fan of what it does and what it can acheive. This year, however, going to History Month events have had the extra benefit of getting me out of doors and out of my funk.

The first event I went to this year was a two hour guided walk around the West End (Soho to Trafalgar Square and back). The walk is organised by Kairos In Soho as a fundraiser for their other activities and they run them all year round. I had meant to take part for quite sometime now but I never got round to it. Perhaps because of my long held breath in this respect, I was slightly disappointed, especially after having shed £5 for the privilege. They have four different guides for these walks and perhaps I was just unlucky. Our guide claimed he had been doing this for seven years. The walk was mostly a succession of stops with a few tidbits and facts thrown at us without much background on the area or the larger context of LGBT history. Yes I did learn a couple of things but I also spotted a couple of mistakes and some major oversights in what was said to us. AS I got home, I quickly committed what I had heard to paper and have been spurred to do some extra research. I find myself with a 5 page Word document of notes; the backbone of possibly two LGBT walks around the West End. I have just received a book which will probably add some material to this and I still haven't read one I bought last year at the Museum of London's study day, which will also be of interest. I also plan on re-reading a third one I have had for a while. I am not sure what to do with all this material now but I might end up organising a few walks myself.

The speakers at the launch of LGBT History In Focus
On Monday, I skipped rehearsal with the Chorus to attend the launch of a photographic exhibition commissioned by the Southwark LGBT Network evocating Gay Pride in London since the early days in 1970. We had several speakers, included a surprise intervention by Peter Tatchell who is a local resident. From left to right on the picture above (click on it for more pictures of the event): Howard Barnes (Head of Culture, Southwark Council), Dax Ashworth (LGBT Community developement worker for Southwark), Sue Sanders (Originator of LGBT History Month in the UK, Co-chair of Schools OUT and local resident), Linda Bellos (then Co-chair of the Southwark LGBT Network), Peter Tatchell (Activist and Southwark resident), Pam Isherwood (the photographer whose pictures were used in the exhibition) and Robert Thompson (from LAGNA, the Lesbian and Gay News media Archive). (Slightly has blogged about the event too)

Howard Barnes promised he would explore the possibility of creating an LGBT resource in Southwark which would be easily available to the community. Peter Tatchell saluted the work of the Network insisting that the saying “think global, act local” is the only way to achieve anything for the LGBT Community.

Linda Bellos highlighted the importance of the visibility brought to the LGBT community by events such as History Month. She also rejoiced in the fact that some people are in a position to enjoy such a celebration; not forgetting that others especially in eastern Europe but even in London are not so fortunate.

On Tuesday afternoon I went to Hyde Park with a friend and took some lovely (if I say so myself) pictures in the cold winter sun (you can view them on my Flickr account). This however has nothing to do with History Month. In the evening I went to the screening of Where There Was Silence, a video short produced by Stephen Bourne for his graduation in 1988 from what is now the London College of Communication in the Elephant and Castle. The short documentary, which has not been shown since the 1989 San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, presents the highlights of the real testimonies of "five gay men, all portrayed by a single actor, recall[ing] the film Victim and how it affected their lives. Ending with reference to Clause 28 of the Local Government Bill, the video also questions the future of gay (and by implication lesbian) representation on film and video". This was followed by a preview of Bourne's 15 min video evocation of his adoptive black aunt, Esther Bruce, who was born in Fulham in 1912, the daughter of a Scottish mother and Guyanese father who was the son of slaves.

Wednesday was rest...

Thursday was the Annual General Meeting of the Southwark LGBT Network. After a word of welcome and the Chairs' and Treasurer's reports, we proceeded with the election of the executive team for the Network. Linda, my co-chair had decided to stand down after five years of service.As no one else decided to stand, I am now the lonely Chair of the Network. Although we are hoping to find someone to become co-chair soon, preferably a woman. I will try to get a little more involved than I have been so far and I particularly want to look at how the Network is marketing itself. I would also like to increase the number of Black and Minority Ethnic people, disabled people and younger people attending our events... That should be interesting!


Next stops
:
13 Feb. - Age Concern cabaret night in which the Chorus is performing
24 Feb. - Study day at the Museum of London and performance with the Chorus. I am disappointed to be missing a guided walk of Bermondsey on the same day at 2pm (starts outside the Evans Cycle shop opposite London Bridge Station)
28 Feb. - LGBT History Quiz Night at the Rye Hotel in Peckham (8pm start) - I am still making up my mind on this one though.

I will also try to go and see the Out in Time exhibition at the Museum in Docklands. I have until the 9th March for that.

For a list of the events happening near you this month, click here.

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Confused Zealots

GP (doctors) are supposed to be eductated and intelligent people. They spend about seven years at univeristy learning complicated things by heard, having drugs, lots of of sex and drinking too much (that's the reputation of French medecine students anyway). They have huge responsibilities over people's lives and should they not be percieved to be made of a better cloth, people would perhaps hesitate to trust them.

So I am wondering which part of the word "No", Dr John Lockley from Bedfordshire is finding difficult to understand. Dr Lockey has asked Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt to provide an avoidance clause for GPs similar to that in abortion legislation. Section 4 of the 1967 Abortion Act give doctors the right to refuse to be involved in an abortion if in doing so they would be forced to act against their own conscience or ethics. He said he had a "very good relationship" with gay patients on his list but if asked to provide detailed information about their suitability to bring up a child in a same-sex partnership, "on Christian conscience grounds" he would find it difficult.

Only two weeks ago, the Catholic Church was asking for something similar and was clearly told by the government that this would be possible. I have made the point earlier that faith based adoption agencies who provide public services (and receive tax payers' money) should act like any other public service organisation and therefore can in no way discriminate. This is, in my view, even more the case with GPs. Because of their high level of qualification, their patients are forced to entrust themselves to their hands almost blindly. They have to be able to trust that they will be treated fairly, whoever they are, whatever their circumstances. A opt-out on religious grounds, when religion has nothing to do with medecine (unless you are a shaman, perhaps) would go against all this principals and should therefore not be allowed.

In the meantime the Scotish head of the Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, said that equal rights were a sign of a "deeply hedonistic society" (do read the readers' comments on this article too), where ancient morals were being replaced by "issues of life-style and choice". No explanation is provided however on how equal rights are a sign of hedonism.

As with Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's original claim that Catholic adoption agencies would have to close, this outburst comes with threats and blackmail: That the two Scotish Catholic agencies would have to close too but also that the 800,000 members of the Scotish Catholic church and more importantly the thousands of Polish immigrants now working in Scotland will vote against Labour in support of Scotish National Party and Scotish independence, which O'Brien and senior Church figures have recently started to support publicly.

Around 40,000 immigrants are now working in Scotland, 90% of them Poles, who are in turn almost all practising Catholics. The Roman Catholic Church is urging Poles to vote "with their conscience," a thinly veiled reference to their objection to a range of measures introduced by the ruling Labour executive in Edinburgh, from gay adoption to civil partnerships. There are reports that the Church is even considering producing its own election literature in Polish.

Again, this has little to do with gay adoption but about power. O'Brien's hopes are clearly to stir his flock into flexing their political muscles at the coming parliamentary election, thus proving in the process the degree of influence the Catholic Church has in the country.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Tempus Fugit

As people grow older they tend to complain that time goes faster. Is it because, as we grow old we become aware that life is a one off chance, not a rehearsal for something grander and better? Is it because time actually does go faster as we grow old? Or is there a psychological reason for the feeling? I don't have the slightlest idea. If you were starting to expect an answer, please accept my apologies for not coming up with the goods.

Not knowing the reason for this, does not stop me from experiencing it myself. The fact that my days are spent doing mostly nothing and certainly nothing intellectually challenge could suggest expension rather than constriction of the space-time continuum but this actually compounds the impression as each day blurs into its borthers into an unrecognisable mass of hazy meaninglessness.

Slightly more worrying (if possible), is that whole days seem to be disappearing from my life. For the second week running, my thursday has disappeared. Here I was on Wednesday, thinking that tomorrow would be Thrusday, only to suddenly realise the next day with a start that it was actually Friday. No trace of Thursday.

I know I am getting on a bit but I don't think I am senile quite yet. I could hypothesise that Slightly is playing with my mind but he is way to busy playing with other things. It's probably simply that my mental health is an even worst state than I thought. Again I have no idea where this is coming from. And again, I apologise for not coming up with the good.

Not a very successful day, I am having, hey?


Thursday, 1 February 2007

Tomorrow May Be Another Day

My earlier mention of the first day of LGBT History Month brought me to ponder on my long lasting interest in History and by extension my just as long lasting love of reading and Literature.

The easy and obvious explanation stands in one single little but seminal word: escapism. Using all those stories I tell myself to fly from the grim reality of life. To sore towards pastures new. To an extend, I suppose it is true but not entirely.

I think that this need to loose myself in other people's stories is in fact almost the opposite of escapism. It is, I think, a way for me to actually have a life, rather than fleeing one. It is a way to fill the emptiness, to feel and experience, to live.

People reading this will probably think that I am being melodramatic. And they would be right. This is exactly the point: I absorb stories to feed on the drama I don't otherwise get. Others could call me miserable. To be fair, I probably am too. But as it happens nobody cares enough to bother and if someone actually does, they are certainly not here to say so. No difference to me really.

Almost a year ago, now, I quit my job; with great relief it must be said. This was going to be the start of a whole new life after only a few months of expected barrenness. Yet another attempt to try and change my life. To take the cards in my hand and deal them myself. As usual it didn't work. Barrenness remains such and does not blossom into fertility. I have spent most of that time doing very little that could be termed as productive and certainly nothing that would be recognised as financially viable, by anybody's standards.

The upshot is that I am sitting tonight in front of my screen, typing this in the dark with a huge sense of emptiness weighing on my chest. If emptiness does actually weight anything that is. Should I cut my losses and try and go back to something similar to my former life, knowing that the current apathy will be very hard to shake? Or should I just simply let go. Not something I really know how to do.

The options are limited and dire. If I was lucky enough (!) to have a faith, I could just go down on my knees and relinquish all responsibility into god's lap. I can not even do that. I know that I am the only one who is in a position to get me out. And yet I don't seem to be in any position to do that. I am clueless as to what to do next. This is not a new experience for me but so far this had not been so crushingly all encompassing a one, either.

I am probably just a bit tired though, which usually brings me down. I'll go and watch a film or start on that book for the next reading group. Tomorrow is another day. Probably not different from this one but another day anyway.

Third LGBT History Month UK


Today is the first day of the third edition of LGBT History Month UK. To find out what is going on near you to celebrate LGBT lives, please visit the calendar of events on the LGBT History Month website.


Petr's Website

A few weeks ago, I wrote and posted a slightly fictionalised story of a Christmas present received from a Czeck friend, Petr. In the post, I mentioned that he is an artist. He is an illustrator and sculptor to be precise.


In order to help him find more work, I have designed a very simple website which he will be able to use as an online portfolio. Hopefully many people will see the site and commission Petr.

Feel free to commission me too if you need a website (other examples of websites I designed are available by clicking on "do" in the right side menu)...

Click on the image above to visit the site yourself.