Friday, 31 December 2004

You've got Aladdin there - Review.

I have been living in this country for over four years now and it has been a real journey of discovery: during that time, I witnessed the strange things people do to food, the fact that they place traffic lights after a crossing or the completely illogical way in which supermarkets are (dis)organised (I remember seeing a sign attached to a display of Christmas puddings informing me that bleach had been moved to another aisle or being directed by a hesitant member of staff to find tissues in the pet food section!). Tonight for me turned into another anthropological study of this most myterious of things: the British Psyche. I went to my first ever pantomime

Now, what is pantomime (or panto as they call it)? The answer is pretty simple if somewhat perplexing for the unsuspecting mind: Panto is a theater show taking place in the Christmas season, where a series of stock characters will perform the silliest antics. The performers mainly comprise men in drag and the lines are ridden with lame puns and sexual innuendos. All of this for the entertainment of children and families... Audience participation required

Even if I look behind me at my, now fairly broad, experience of theatre going, I don't think I have ever seen anything like it. The show I went to see was Aladdin at the Old Vic with Sir Ian McKellen (aka Dame Ian McGandalf) playing the Widow Twankey, which was the original attraction for me to be honest, added to the fact that I had never been to panto. I did not really know what to expect and I was totally right in that. The plot, know by everyone, was stretched to its minimum and took the back seat; the occasion being solely devoted to goofyness. We were presented with a series of tableaux, some including dancing and/or singing, most a pretext for the actors to banter at the audience. A few "topical" jokes were heard about a blanket safe pass and fast tracking, some "spacey" figs, one ring to rule them all (this from McKellen) or the fact that a certain act took less than forty five minutes; all this drowned with a very thick lashing of threadbare puns.

The decor (by John Napier) was very colourful (as were the costumes) and by their flimsyness reinforced the impression of amateur theatricals not to be taken seriously, an impression totally contradicted by the high quality of the production and of the perfomances. The boys in the "chorus" were sometimes wearing some very tight outfits which highlighted the...errr...qualities of some very nicely, one could not help but notice! Oh, yes they did!!! As for the principal actors they were very good indeed. Aladdin was played with the (sometimes annoying) boyancy of a kids TV presenter by Joe McFadden with a sexy smile and Glaswegian accent. The villain was played by Roger Allam, very reminiscent of Tim Curry (Frank N Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show). As for Ian McKellen, the shock of seeing him in all his various outfits as Widow Twankey was just too much! See for yourself.

Of course this is the first performance of panto I have seen, and I have a feeling I could have chosen much, much worse for my debut. Yes, Panto is about tackyness but tonight proved it can also be high quality performance. Certainly it is it good fun.
In the end if I don't find myself any closer to understanding the Brits, who cares? We all know it is part of their charm to be unfathomable for the aptless continental mind. Corset is

Aladdin by Bille Brown
Directed by Sean Mathias
Old Vic Theatre - London SE1
17 December - 23 January
Box Office: 0870 060 6628

Thursday, 30 December 2004

Different Stage, Same Animal.

It is that time of the year again. Christmas! It's cold outside, the shops are full and you have to write those bloody cards! As you might have guessed, I am not exactly a fan a crimbo...

Although it is passed as the season of good will, I usually end up feeling lonely at that time of the year; I also fail to see why there should be a particular season for good will to blossom. Christmas has now turn into the commercial celebration of tackiness and “fakeness”, Christmas decorations are like a mask people use to hide the daily, mundane grime of their lives. They expect that a little (sometimes, they need a lot of it!) tinsel and light will transform everything and make the world and other people nice. Breaking news: IT WON'T!!!

Another problem I have with Christmas is that it is a religious celebration. I am not religious: I was dipped in holy water when a kid and kept on wading there for quite a few years but I have finally seen the light (or stopped seeing it?!) and have decided spirituality was not for me really. While I recognise my Christian (catholic) heritage and the profound mark it has made on me (Jesus’ message, taken as a life philosophy (NOT a religion), is quite pertinent, I think), religion makes me cringe and I religiously avoid it with all its proselytes (especially the proselytes!!!). So, given that Christmas is (should be, anyway), first and foremost, a Christian celebration, why should I celebrate it? I should say: “be forced to celebrate it” since there is hardly any way you can escape in this country… Even my favourite Chinese restaurant is closing!!!

It has been all the more difficult for me to avoid it this year, as I have been part of the celebrating. Now everybody complains that Christmas start earlier each year: for me it started all the way back in September and is likely to last till the beginning of March. Lucky me!
As I might have mentioned earlier, I am a member of a choir: the London Gay Men’s Chorus. After our big summer concert and the tour in North America (in which I did not take part), the big thing for us was a Christmas concert at the Barbican, one the big concert venues in London. We had been approached by Raymond Gubbay (the biggest show producer in the country) to put on a show for his Christmas concerts series. Something very exciting for the choir, since this is was the first time that we did not have to produce the show ourselves: We only had to put the thing together, rehearse, turn up on the day and weave our magic (try to, anyway!). This is why we found ourselves on a darkening Monday late afternoon at our usual rehearsal place, singing Christmas carols. In September!!! We haven't stopped since. And we will be keeping up the madness till The beginning of March as I said. We are going in studio to record this repertoire and produce a CD for next year. Our fifth CD.

The concert took place on Saturday the 18th. We had had a whole page in the Independent and a few mentions in the Times and on the radio. Gubbay had put on a national ad compain in the main stream and gay press. About a week before the show, we sold out. All 2204 seats. Despite a huge amount of pressure, the show went really well. The first part was more serious with Traditional Carols and poems read by our MC, Simon Callow but for the second part, we let rip in the way we know so well how to do. We had "choralography", panto, camp and cheese and a small group of dancers of which I was part. All good fun and this was followed by the usual high/buzz you get when performing in front of a receptive audience. Shame I hurt my back dancing (my muscles had cooled down) and had to walk like a gran all week after that!

Last week, we gave ourselves to a different type of audience. We had been hired by Selfridges, mecca of gay shopping, I am told, to sing Christmas Carrols in the store on Oxford Street. That's twenty gigs (twenty minutes each, four times a day). I did twelve of them. That was also quite fun: we made friends with the security guards who escorted us around the shop (one of them might want to join the chorus, considering how friendly he was...) and apparently Victoria "posh" Beckham watched us sing (hopefully she was taking notes!).

Now we are having a short break and on the 10th we are off again to keep the repertoire alive and fresh. Recording scheduled for the end of February, beginning of March. Can't wait!!!

Happy New Year to whoever is reading this and thanks for taking the trouble.

Keep the Yuletide Gay!

Friday, 24 December 2004

Who Cares?!

On wednesday afternoon, I somehow got releaved of my wallet. When I realised I did not have it with me I cast my mind back on the past day to try and see if I could figure out how this had happened. Either I had lost it, which seemed unlikely, or it had been stolen. After several minutes of anxious probing of my memory I seemed to remember an individual on the bus with a slightly out of the ordinary behaviour. I came to the conclusion that he had taken advantage of the fact that I was reading to pick my offered and willing pocket.

I was with a friend at the time of discovery (we had just been for food and were about to pay). It was late-ish in the evening and I still had to check at work the next morning for the unlikely event that the wallet had fallen out of my pocket there. Past the first moments of shock and the attempt at divination as to what might have happened, we moved on to other subjects and, I have to say, I forgot about it! It only came back to my mind on the next morning as I was getting ready to leave home for work.

Now, considering that I had my credit and debit cards in there, plus my French ID card and driving licence (which are going to be a bitch to replace!), the odd tenner and a few other bits, I should have been much more worried or at least concerned. After all I do not usually go anywhere without my wallet. The fact is: I don't really care. Of course I have cancelled my cards and I have been to the police to report the loss but further than that, I am oblivious. I actually feel strangely liberated. I was told I should get new cards within six days (it being Christmas I expect them for the end of January!) and I am considering getting only a new driving licence (which I don't really need anyway as I haven't driven for a while now) and not bother with the ID card. The wallet I got for my eighteenth birthday (that's way before the war!!!) and it was starting to fall apart.

Knowing myself, I should be fretting like mad; I would have been only a year ago, I am sure, but I just don't! Must be age!

Friday, 10 December 2004

A Political Animal on Stage.

For a long time, I wasn't sure I was going to go. I don't like finding myself in that sort of situation. But then I thought, as always in those cases, that I should give it a try, not be my usual self. Plus it would have been rude to have said no... So last night, after work, I got in a bus and made my way to a party. Well, drinks and nibbles. A room full of people I don't know whom I am expected to talk to! The friend who had invited me is a partner in a small design agency. The event was taking place at their studio. They were organising this for Christmas as an opportunity for networking. Both business contacts and friends were there.

I have to say I think I did rather well this time. I talked with most people: usually I stick with one or two persons during the whole night. I stayed there a good three hours, so it can’t have been that bad: it never is really (apart from once in sunny Sidcup but that is a different blog!). It’s just that I am not good with people I don’t (and with those I know too). I would love to be able to talk easily to them but most of the time I find myself tongue-tied and people have a tendency to just ignore me (even when I talk, which is usually not often). Not sure where that comes from. I find myself like an actor on stage performing a play where all the other actors know their lines while he doesn’t know his and therefore has to improvise… badly.

In London when you meet someone new, the first few things that they will ask you is where you live and what you do. Now, this is not for small talk purposes. They use this to size you put and to know in what social class they can categorise you in. This is something unique to this country, I think, that people are so class conscious (which makes it perhaps less surprising that Das Kapital, the manifesto of class struggle, should have been written at the British Library). Of course, a good amount of snobbery underlies this. One of my objections for not going was that the people attending would all have interesting jobs in a creative environment; jobs they like and that I would like myself. They did. My job is as menial and boring and uninteresting as they come. On two counts, I was therefore in the weak position: envying them their positions and having nothing to show for myself. And the dreaded moment, which I can always feel coming, when after a slight pause someone turns to you and says: “So what do you do?”, did happen and each time I find myself apologising for what I do, saying first own boring it is and adding that it pays the rent. As I watch myself doing this, I know this is the right thing to do and say but I just can help myself.

OK, as I said, last night wasn’t that bad and I did even laugh at some point but I am sure no one will remember my presence and there were moments of unease where I wished I knew what to do…. I still do.

Thursday, 18 November 2004

Civil Partnership Bill - Victory!

Got this from Stonewall this morning. Only have to find a hubby, now!!! easy stuff!!!!

Time to celebrate!!
The Civil Partnership Bill was passed by the House of Lords tonight!!

It's wonderful news and we wanted you to be the first to know.

It could be another year before the first civil partnerships can take place while registration systems are set up across the country. We'll be in touch soon to let you know how it is going to work.

The Bill represents a historic step forward for lesbian and gay people in Britain.

A huge thank you for all your support and encouragement over the past few months - we couldn't have got here without you.

Ben Summerskill,
Chief Executive

Tuesday, 16 November 2004


First I have to declare my interest in this: I am non-smoker and I don't like cigarette smoke.

When I was about five (I am not sure of the exact age, but I was quite young), one of my slightly older neighbour friend offered me a cigarette (a Marlborough, I remember that much!) on which I drew one puff only to immediately cough my lungs out. I have never been tempted to go near a cigarette since. This incident is probably not the only reason why I have never smoked (I could cite the fact that no one smokes in my family, or simply my total disregard for dependence on anything other than books (!)) but I am sure it helped.

It seems that after long debates on the subject in the media, the government has finally come up with something and is planning, within the next two to three years (!), to ban smoking in England (and Wales?) in public places serving prepared food (restaurant, cafes and some pubs) and in workplaces (see the BBC's website). This raises the questions of what pubs not serving food and clubs are for people working there, if not their workplace? And what is "prepared food" anyway?

While, like campaigning associations, I rejoice in this; I do also think that this is not going far enough. Effectively the ban should reach about 80 to 90% of public places. That leaves a lot of pubs out. These are traditionally the hangouts of the poorer members of society, who are also the ones who smoke the most (I know I am generalising there), have lesser access to health care and information and generally are the more in need of help and incitement to stop smoking. I heard smokers say that a ban would be an incitement for them to stop smoking. Let's not forget the many smokers are dependent on their cancer lollies and, although they want to, are finding it very hard to quit.

People like Frank Dobson, Former Labour health secretary, hope that pubs outside the ban will soon join the rank and apply a voluntary ban. If we look at what is happening in Ireland (where there has been a total ban on smoking for over a year now), we see that profits made by pubs have fallen as a result of the ban. Why should a landlord take the risk of making less money if he doesn't have to by law? This scepticism on the pub owners' part could be reinforced by actions from the powerful tobacco industry. Why should they not start using the restriction on the ban attached to food sales to put pressure on pub owners and landlords to stop selling food and therefore allow smoking?

Apart from a few life long smokers, I don't think anybody contests the fact that smoking is dangerous. Even the cigarette manufacturers have relented, I believe. Pro-smoking people therefore brandish the flag of their undermined civil liberties to justify their opposition to the ban. First they still have the liberty of smoking at home or of blowing their smoke in our faces when outdoors. More importantly and unsurprisingly, they are blithely forgetting about the civil liberties of none smokers. A fundamental point in the definition of liberties (set out in the 1789 French Déclaration Universelle des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen - article 4) is that the person creating the disruption is the one to be penalised and forced to restrain themselves, not the victims of the disruption (one's liberty stops where that of others starts). I don't care if smokers have decided to ruin their health and die early. What I don't want is to have their cigarette smoke forced on me. I have no choice in that. And don't tell me I should just go somewhere else: why should I have to? What about my liberty to be and go where I want to without being molested? If I started walking around with a radio playing loud music (which people would have no other choice but to listen to), I would be accused of disturbing the peace and would be forced to stop. And the lasty time I checked music was not dangerous for people's health...

The Tories, who oppose an outright ban (or any sort of ban for that matter), have clearly decided to use this contentious issue for their political gain. As often, their arguments are specious: they agree that is bad in public places but are ready to bow to the rich industry lobby groups. Their method of "voluntary agreement" means a lack of uniformity in the access to no smoking establishments. We also know what smokers can be like: they have no respect for non-smokers and always try to have their way: this is why we need an intervention from what they call the "nanny state". However sad this is, it is a fact that most people are lost if they don't have a nanny to wipe their bottom and tell them what to do! They also argue that if prevented to do so at the pub, smokers will stay home and smoke in front of their children and damage their health. Do they really think smokers will wait for a ban to smoke in front of their children?! Is it better to endanger stranger's health rather than your children's? what kind of argument it that?

To sum up: smoking is dangerous and is an imposition on none-smokers. It should therefore be totally banned in public places. This current proposition is not good enough! If we push the argument to it's bitter end; tobbaco should be banned altogether, like other drugs. However, as I said I am happy for people to do what they want with their lives as long as they don't impinge on mine. Is that fair?

Finally, I would say that yes, a ban is an important step but just as important is the need for making it harder for people to start smoking, for educating people and for providing help for smokers to give up on their sad habit.

For more information on the subject:

And for the "arguments" in support of smoking:

Monday, 15 November 2004

And they think it is funny!

In an unprecedented (and let's face it, short lived) attempt at fairness and balance on this blog, and after posting a link where US people said sorry about the results of the election, here is the link put together by the Republicans to basically tell the world to fuck off, which what they seem to be doing best, really!

Those two lads in Hastings

My fellow traveller has now read the entry to this blog relating our trip to Hastings. He was particularly interested it seems by the appearance in my blog of the two lads from the caf.. As I remember, he completely ingnored and dismissed them as soon as they showed up. They sat right behind him which meant he could not see them, while they were in my field of vision all the time. They were, I assume, in their late teens, reasonably goodlooking (although I would say "sexy", I think, to qualify them), wearing shellsuit bottoms and polo shirts in blue-ish/grey colours. Very much conforming to the stereotype of the "scally". So much of a stereotype in fact that they lost all individuality and depth for my friend. As I was watching them interact, being easily intimate and companionable, I suppose I started to project things on what I was seeing and what I imagined to be their story. I do agree that as individuals they are indeed probably quite average and insignificant (not a nice thing to say, I know) but it seems to me that these young men usually live in packs where they have to play a social role and they don't get to relate that much on a one to one basis, if at all. In that case, it felt like they had let their guards fall and were being genuine, thinking themselves unobserved. They were actually quite touching. The fact that they looked so much alike probably re-enforced the impression of closeness. They seemed to be in some sort of bubble, although I thought I felt some sort of tension external to their pair directed towards the young waitresses. I think what attracted me there was the mundanity of the situation and some sort of yearning for an (almost arcadian) simplicity which I can only look for in my social interactions. Who knew I could be such a romantic!!!

Friday, 12 November 2004

It is all about nuances

"Moral values" you say?
Mmmm, maybe... What is it you call "moral values" anyway?

A fucking interesting link

The language doesn't add much to the argument but this is an interesting point with some even more interesting statistics...

Adventures in the English countryside.

Last Sunday I found myself in a friend's 2CV on the way to the south coast. We went down to Hastings, spend half the day there wandering around and buying second hand books (I just can't stop myself! and neither can he!) before moving to Beachy Head, a huge cliff overhanging the ocean, and finally to Brighton before heading back to the lights of civilisation. Photos available here.

I have been living in London for about four and a half years now and have had few opportunities to leave the place during that time. Not that I am complaining, mind you. I was brought in a small village of 700 odd inhabitants. If I have decided to move to a big city like London there is a good reason; trust me! I am a true city boy these days.

Driving through the woods and the fields (with the soundtrack of the Rocky Horror Picture Show competing, not always successfully, with the racket of the engine), I found myself in very well known territory. Even though my eyes had never set foot in those regions before, the north east of France is not that different to the Kent and Sussex countryside that I did not recognise in what situation I found myself.

Perhaps it is because it was November, perhaps it is the usual state of things; Hastings can hardly be described as a hub of animation and excitement. From what I was told the place is roughly divided into an old and a new town (new as in "because of WW2") and is spreading itself in the folds of a tortuous valley without ever really managing to reach the top of the hills. On the sea front you find what seem to be the staple offerings of a small English sea-side resort: a mini golf, a games arcade, a pier and a pebble beach... oh! and fish and chip shops gallore!

After having wandered about all morning, having taken a few pictures, visited a couple of antiques shops and bookshops (fondling a welcoming pussycat in one of them: that was a real treat!), we thought it was time to have something to eat. Up and down and up and down the streets we went, not able to settle on any particular place as is our wont (in London the dilemma is usually solved by a trip to Wong Key, the infamous Chinese restaurant).

We finally chose an interesting looking caf. Nothing unusual in those parts to be sure but something almost exotic in its quaintness for our London minds. It was 3pm by then and only two other customers were there having their Sunday lunch. A bit later two lads came in as well. A nice thing to have a "mate" close enough to have a relaxed Sunday breakfast (that is what they ordered) with. The striking (and possibly the only really interesting) feature of the place and of the whole town it seems, is how everything is cheap compared to London: to give but one example, a POT of tea is £1.50 over there when you can not even buy a cuppa for that price in central London.
Over our (homemade?) cheeseburgers, we decided we had exhausted the charms of the place and made up our minds to go somewhere else. My friend (dare I spill the beans and ruin his reputation?) has lived in the area at some point in his life and suggested we go to Beachy Head, which he had pointed out looming in the distance earlier and which he recommended for interesting pictures and suicide.

Off we therefore went. To get there we had to go through miles of those monotonous rows of similarly-looking houses like only British suburbia can produce. This was very depressing in the already dimming light of a grey Sunday afternoon. I started to thing about what it would be like to be living there, seemingly miles from anything of any cultural interest. I almost saw myself back in my parents' small village and breathed a sigh of relief on thinking that I would be back home in London by the end of the day. Beachy Head, in its rugged, desolate way, proved as depressing as its man made surroundings; not wonder it should be favoured by suicides... Once again the camera went into action. After walking about a bit and raising the concern of my friend who is scared of heights, it was time to make our way home. Rather than going back through Eastbourne, we decided that we would be less likely to get lost if we went via Brighton even though this meant a slightly longer journey. By then the night had fallen completely, aided by a light drizzle.

When we got on the outskirts of Brighton, we decided that since we were there, we might as well stop and perhaps grab something to eat. Brighton is the place in the UK and outside London where I have been the most. To the grand total of three times, actually! I can even find my way round the lanes, to the Royal Pavilion and the west pier now.

Once near the pier, we parked on the seafront. It was ten to six, which prompted us to wait in the car for ten minutes until parking became free. An inspired decision it was too. As we were chatting about music and stuff, a man and a woman appeared accompanied by another (good looking) man wearing a wet suit. They all stopped by the car parked in front of us, putting us in the best seats in the house to enjoy the show which then took place: The man in the wet suit proceeded to divest himself and get changed; stripping to his underpants and, wrapped in a towel, to even less... revealing an altogether rather nice, toned body. Although we were trying not to gawp too much, he must have noticed us and I must say, it took him a inordinate amount of time to get changed, going back and forth between his car and his bag left on the pavement a few feet away, wearing nothing but a pair of white shorts... Eventually, he got dressed (shorts and fleece!) and walked away with his friends. Last year already, the last time I was in Brighton on the last week-end of November, I had seen a (more than) half naked man swimming in the sea (not for very long it must be said). I have the pictures to prove it! The words "madness" and "inbreeding" come to mind...

Needless to say that it was well passed six when we finally left the car and directed our steps towards the west pier! The place was rather deserted and after walking to the very end of it and taking a few pictures, we turned towards the lanes. This is probably the most picturesque part of Brighton; a series of ancient tortuous and narrow alleyways, which have now been invaded by trendy shops. Not very busy at the time to be honest. And only a few metres away from that mad thing which is the Royal Pavilion, where I let my camera loose once more.

It was then time to try and find a place to eat. That same old problem! Few places were open and nothing that really caught our (uncooperative) fancy. We ended up miserably eating cheeseburgers again with the smallest portion of chips on a bench on the pier with the mist moving in from the sea. We were soon joined by a couple a loud roadies and beat a hasty retreat to the car. The drizzle was getting stronger and Brighton's appeal was diminishing fast. It was time to start the uneventful journey back to the capital, thus closing the loop on this rather strange day.

Aaaaaaah! Home Sweet Home!

Rant: Them bloody buses!!!!

As every morning I was on my bus to work this morning, quitely reading a print out of the columns Salam Pax wrote for the Guardian; laughing and welling up at the same time. Very good stuff!

I was on one of those new "bendy bus" number 12s; Fare thee well, good old Routemaster. At some point, I slowly became aware that the bus had stop for longer than usual. I kept on reading but with the thought still at the back of my mind. After a while I suddenly heard a voice saying that the bus was stopping here and what were we waiting for... It was the driver. He had already got out of his cabin and was putting his coat on, ready to leave. How on earth could we guess that the bus was terminating there if he did not tell us?! Ok the doors were wide open and the sign at the front of the bus probably did mention where the bus would stop, but who would notice this? I quickly got out, muttering. The driver did the same and walk away!!!! The doors still wide open, the engine still running, the bus plonked smack in the middle of a bus stop.... As far as I know the bloody thing is still there. Unless someone decided to "borrow" it!


Monday, 8 November 2004

Oh, ok then! If you insist.

I know I said the picture in the previous post did not require any comment, but I am afraid I just can't shut up! Sorry.

Ok the picture is a good summary of what seems to be going on at the White House at the moment: i.e. that W is letting his religious beliefs take over when it comes to governing the US. This is why most people who have voted for him did so, it seems. However I sort of object to the choice of Jesus to make that point. I think the pope or an American televangelist (which no one would have recognised outside the US. I take your point!) would probably have been more accurate a representation of W's religious beliefs, since this is what Jesus stands for here.

I guess I should say first that I am not religious. Although I have been brought up as a catholic and have all my certificates, I have given up on religion and religions a while ago now. I find religions scary (simply look at all the bad things which have come out of them) and I certainly do not like religious people shoving their faith in my face. I let them do what they want, let them let me do what I want. Why people feel the need to govern other people's lives is beyond me. Have they got nothing better to do with their boring little lives? Like concentrate a bit more on doing some good around them?

Being brought up as a catholic however is not an armless business; like any other religious upbringing, I suppose, it does not leave you unscathed. In my case what was left behind when the blinding tide of religiosity ebbed away from my hazy little mind was a set of what I would called humanist values, of which I must admit I would be rather proud if pride was not one of the deadly sins (!). I am convinced that Christianity limited to being a philosophy of life could be a good thing (a "force for good"). It is therefore a shame that religious hard liners should want to tinge it with fanaticism and dogma. I think a big problem with Christianity and the reason for some Christian’s schizophrenic outlook on life is the Bible and the presence in it of both the Old and New Testament who are obviously irreconcilable. In one you find a god of wrath and vengeance and in the other a god of love. The latter finds himself overshadowed by the former far too often.

And this is why I am a little uneasy at the choice of Jesus for this picture; even if I understand the need of a recognisable Christian figure; an icon so to speak. I don't really find anything wrong with Jesus and what he has to say. My problem is with all the Bible-wielders all over the world who seem to know their god's will better than himself and forget far too often the basic (and most important) Christian (as in "Jesus Christ", i.e. New Testament) message of loving one's neighbour. Or perhaps they actually know it all too well: after all the second part of this "command" is to love as one loves oneself... and that's "very little", it would seem!

Sunday, 7 November 2004

That explains it.... too

No comments required, I think:

Saturday, 6 November 2004

That explains it.... (on a slightly lighter note)

Now that IS an interesting statistic... Of course there is always the possibilty that this is a hoaks

The aftermath of the election. Although exit polls suggest that one in five gay people voted for W (when even the Log Cabin (the gay republicans group) refused to endorse him), some of us are still lucid (they might find this helpful):

And finally:

More seriously, this map compares the results of the 2000 "election" with those of the one which just took place (although Alaska seems to have been left out for some reason. I seem to remember that W won that state this time round):


Last year, as part of the Tour of the British Isles, organised by the choir I am a member of, we went to London, Wavendon (near Milton Keynes), Dublin, Manchester, Brighton and Belfast. You can look at the pics here. Everybody had told me I would love Dublin and I was quite prepared to do so, but in the end I only found it very provincial and too cute and boring. Belfast was the surprised however. A place with such vibe, very much on the fence between its past and its future. A real sense of anticipation. I have been in the choir for nearly three years now and Belfast was probably the most special gig I had the luck to take part in. It wasn't the most glamourous venue or the biggest crowd by far but something special happened that night. We were there in support of the first Gay Pride for the city. Our audience had to pass a group of 20 odd bigots (Christians Against Sodomy I think they called themselves, which does say a lot about where their minds are), who had decided to demonstrate outside the venue where we were performing. After the show, we all went to a party organised in our honour in one of the local gay pubs (the Crows' Nest, I think). Everyone let their hair down and we all really had a great time. What was so special about performing there, was that in addition to feeling that we were making even more of a difference than usual, we had to realise how easy we had it being gay men in London and how easy it was to forget about that.

Last Saturday night, several people got mugged on the South Bank; all of them were gay and the police still believe at the time I am writing this that the attacks were motivated by homophobia. One of the victims, David Morley later died of his (40!) wounds. The cruel irony is that five years ago he had survived the bomb attack at the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho where he was working at the time. Another reminder that things are not as rosy as they may seem. This one quite literally much closer from home: it happened about ten minutes walk from where I live, in a part of London where I regularly find myself alone at night, walking home. Tonight I took part in the vigil organised in Soho to remember Mr Morley. There, with the LGMC and a several hundred people, we tried once again to make a difference through our singing; we tried to make sense of what had happened and of our grief and anger.

As of tonight a total of 7 people have been arrested in relation to this; apparently all of them teenagers. Commentators point out that reported homophobic crimes have very much been on the rise in the past few months citing as a reason for this the increased confidence in the way the police will deal with the victims inciting people to reports attacks more easily rather than an actual increase in the number of attacks. There is probably a good amount of truth in this; after all these people have the figures and studies to support their arguments. However I would like to suggest another possible reason, which I can only support by a few observations I have made in the past few months. I think that it is actually possibly the case that the number of attacks is on the rise, simply because gay people are feeling more confident about affirming who they are these days. Since, say, the beginning of this year, I have notice more and more frequently gay couple holding hands in areas quite remote from the relatively safe haven that is Soho. Is it not possible that the increased visibility of gay people, not supported by education is perceived as a taunt by homophobes, some of whom can not resist it? We also learn that at least two of the persons arrested for Saturday's attack were black. Is it not possible to draw a link with the current campaign led by Outrage! and Peter Tatchell against the so-called "murder music" of a very limited number of jamaican dancehall singers? Bigots getting angered by the good results of the campaign?

Whatever the reasons, and even in London, the struggle is not finished. We have come a long way; we seem to have found most of the silver lining; let's not forget about the cloud just yet!


A last minute piece of news:

On the Evening Standard Website


Friday, 5 November 2004

My first time - draft

Ok, here goes: see how bad that was: the draft I am referring to above:

As the world learn the news that Senator Kerry is about to give up the fight and let Governor W have his way with our destinies for another four year, I am reading the book (the Baghdad Blog) made from a now very famous blog: Where is Raed. A truely inspiring example. A few days ago, although I vaguely new what a blog was, I had never really read one, let alone considered writing one and here I am, at work, trying to find something to say for my first post. Not a good start I would imagine. If I don't have anything to say, why bother? I am sure I will find something. Life, at the moment, seems to be sufficiently frustrating to provide plenty!

The all important first time

How do you start a weblog? What do you put in it? I am clearly not the right person to answer those questions.

It all started last Wednesday, galvanised and inspired by my starting to read the
book made from what is probably the most famous weblog in the world (even though its author would probably hate me for saying that). As the world was learning that W would be having his way with our destinies for another four years, I created my account. Let's make it clear now that, like many people around the world, I was not exactly impressed by the choice the Americans made. The only (very slight and bitter) compensation is that the people who know are predicting that the proverbial is going to hit the fan in the next four years (economically at least; something to do with the huge deficit they are building up thanks to all of Bush's tax cuts (and there are more to come apparently), and with China, Japan and a few others starting to cash in on all the dollars they are currently buying or something like that: sorry, forgot the details): W will therefore be there to clean up his own mess or at least take responsibility of it. The worrying bit (and what makes this bitter) is that if the States are in trouble economically, Europe and the rest of the world will probably suffer too. The rest of the world should have been allowed to vote to, considering how important this election is. Ok, ok, Kerry would probably not have been much different in content but at least his style would have been different and that might have done a huge different in several quarters.

Anyroads, once the account created, I pondered: Why? What have I got to say? I started a draft first posting which was not really satisfying (I might decide to include it here for posterity (!)) and then it was time to leave work to go to a dance rehearsal, thinking I would carry on in the morning.

That did not happen as, on opening my inbox, I found a message from the chairman of the marketing committee of the choir, asking for volunteers to design the programme for our Christmas gigs at the Parish Church of St John the Baptist in Pinner ( that's just outside London in zone 6; Yes, there is one!). I volunteered and that took up most of my day. I am far from finished yet but I think I have finally found inspiration for this. And what a strange thing inspiration is really: here I am on the night between Thursday and Friday (3.30 am!), suddenly waking up and thinking: I know what to write in this blog and having to switch the laptop on and write it down.

If you are still reading (if anybody is reading this at all), you must know but now that the title of this blog is no deception: I will really by ranting aimlessly on here… I hope this can be enjoyable though.
Time to try and post this (see how badly it goes with the URLs) and then back to sleep, hopefully...
Comments and suggestions most welcome...