Friday, 16 April 2010

My pair of perfect and precious pussy-pals. (Well, nearly perfect.)


In human-year equivalents Blackso must be about my age now while Noodles is middle-aged. You can see the road that Blackso crosses every day to visit the park opposite, sometimes several times daily. Despite my repeated severe warnings to him he insists on taking his life in his hands, perches himself on the low wall and looks back at me defiantly while I frown at him from the window, my heart racing. The little devil has aged me considerably in the ten years I've had him. The wonder is that he's survived so long. Noodles, on the other hand, rarely crosses this road - and when he does it's usually at night or early in the morning when there's little traffic. Sensible chap.

Monday, 12 April 2010

A welcome addition to my 'happy list' - Scott Joplin

I really think this deserves to be on my 'List of Things that make me Happy' (to go along with - watching animals play, stroking my 'pussies', flowers, seeing other people laugh, saki/margaritas (in moderation), Woody Allen comedies etc.
I recently bought on eBay a book of the sheet music of the complete Ragtime piano solos of Scott Joplin (including some marches and waltzes). I'm working my way through them and they really are a delight to play. Of course they aren't exactly profound - they weren't meant to be - but they are skilfully composed, with some of them having very daring and unexpected key-change lurches. I suppose a parallel music type would be trad-jazz - undemanding stuff, yes, but positively cheerful. It's difficult to listen to (or play) one of these pieces without a smile creasing one's features.
I already knew two or three of them - including the ubiquitous, but still clever. 'The Entertainer' - among them the 'Maple Leaf Rag' in a finger-friendly G major but I see that that version had been transposed down a semitone from the trickier and far more challenging Ab original, so this is how I'll be playing it from now on. Lots more delights in store. Happy music!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Other people's habits that irritate me.

It may be no wonder as to why I've never had a really close friend, either M or F, let alone having a partner - and it's highly unlikely that I ever will have one, though I'm not closing off the possibility for evermore.
I've never been able to abide noisy eaters. In my 'living-in-a-bubble' life this irritation comes to the fore frequently in trains. Sometimes I just want to yell out when a nearby passenger tucks interminably into a packet, or packets, of crisps (potato chips in U.S.) It's so damned disruptively distracting. Eating apples is almost as bad. I think such practices ought to be permitted only in private, either individually or with co-consumers. I direct almost the same level of 'aaaaaaargh!' at mobile phone users who seem to insist that their side of the conversation must be heard by every single person in their carriage. Why? One doesn't (usually) hear every word of a direct conversation going on at the far end of the same carriage, at least not with the same regularity. Why do phone-users have to raise their voices so? (I take heart in knowing that in this case at least there is a substantial numberof people who are on my side.)
Talking of travelling on trains, I also can't abide those slovenly and uncaring passengers who place their shod feet on the seat opposite. Doesn't it even cross their parochial little minds that another passenger is inevitably going to have to sit directly down on the street-dirt that the offending person has brought in on the soles of their shoes? One sees the same practice in cinemas and theatres with certain, usually younger, members of the audience draping their entire lower legs over a vacant seat in front of them, again resulting in their dirty shoes coming in contact with the seat-fabric. It's so ill-mannered! This unsavoury behaviour only started to happen within the last 2 or 3 decades but now it's omni-present. I don't mind in the least if a train passenger first removes his/her shoes. Just simply placing a newspaper on the seat opposite indicates some degree of forethought and care, but seeing such is so rare.
I was going to go on with several more pet peeves but just reading what I've written above I seem to be coming over as a cantankerous, intolerant, old fart, which may be true ("Things were so much better in my day. But now the world's going to the dogs!") so I'd better call a halt - for the time being. But it may be clearer now as to why I've gone through my life without ever having had an especially close companion. Actually, when I put it down in black-and-white it's becoming clearer to me.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Film: 'I Love You, Phillip Morris.'

Passable entertainment, though only just. Although supposedly 'based' on a true story, I found it completely unconvincing - but I don't suppose it was seriously aiming at veracity. Jim Carrey giving a relatively subdued performance, at least by his standards, and not without the occasional hint at subtlety. While knowing that a large number of viewers are getting fed-up with his manic gurning and high-powered histrionics, I am not one of those. In fact I generally find his antics highly amusing, though in this film he is largely, but not entirely, reined-in. The Ewan MacGregor character was unbelievably colourless and insipid - and I just found him irritating and wondered how anyone could fall for him. I didn't find anything really offensive in the film despite there being occasional glimpses of stereotypical ways of how some straight people see gays, though I did think it came close to the edge on a particularly sensitive topic towards the end of the film. But all-in-all, a film to see, maybe just the once. 5.5/10.

Friday, 19 March 2010

A Fine Read - Radclyffe Hall's 'The Well of Loneliness'

I first read this truly ground-breaking novel in 1987 (at the suggestion of my most beautiful-ever gay friend. - The friendship lasting barely 6 months, breaking down after a disastrous trip to Paris together. Perhaps a story for another time?) But I'm now coming to the end of a re-read and it's striking me, much more than the first time, how remarkable the book is. It was the first novel dealing with lesbian relationships which I'd read and for that reason hadn't been immediately enthusiastic. (Silly me!) First published in 1928, it was soon involved in a notorious trial in the British courts which, unsurprisingly for the time, judged it to be 'obscene' and banned it - thus consigning it to Limbo for some decades. Of course one winces now at the writer's description of lesbians as having the 'mark of Cain', referring to gays generally as 'inverts' and homosexuality as a burden (as indeed it would have been then and in that society) and as a somewhat unwholesome characteristic, those having it being individuals to be understood with sympathy channeled through pity. But once one gets over where Hall was coming from in those repressed days it really is an extraordinary work, beautifully and sensitively written There is nothing in the least pornographic or even explicit in the book ("And that night they were not divided.") nor anything more graphic than the occasional kiss on the mouth. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone interested in historically significant gay lit. If you are so interested, do please read - and let us know what you think.