Thursday 31 December 2009

An Englishman in New York

Was looking forward to watching this last night, having recorded it from a couple of days ago. (John Hurt reprising his playing of Quentin Crisp.) Unfortunately I'd only just read Peter Tatchell's article denouncing Crisp, quoting several truly appalling sayings which could have come from the most rabid homophobe, so this detracted from any enjoyment I might otherwise have experienced. (Can't imagine how these odious pronouncements had passed me by - although must admit I haven't been active on the gay scene for a couple of decades now. The kindest interpretation I can put on what he said was that it was down to the ramblings of his then advancing senility.) John Hurt gave, as expected, an astonishing performance, but the only controversial issue that the programme dealt with in any depth was Crisp's dismissal of AIDS as a 'fad'. Anyway, when I first saw 'The Naked Civil Servant' way back in the mid-1970s it made a deep impression on me, and gave me much-needed renewed confidence in my having 'come out' just a couple of years before, belatedly, in my late 2os. Maybe 'Englishman' is worth a watch, especially if one is ignorant of his remarks as reported, as I had been. But even if one still doesn't know of them, I've spoilt it now, haven't I? .......Sorry!!!

Saturday 26 December 2009

Went Christmas Day well? On the whole, not too bad.

Woken up at 4.15 a.m. with the Stones' 'Street Fighting Man' being blasted out from flat below. Hopeless to try sleeping further. Letting Blackso out, seeing light from under neighbour's door, tried to be extra quiet to avoid him coming out - but failed. His door opened - "Merry Christmas, Ray!" a seasonal greeting from alcohol-fuelled beaming red face (Stones still playing in background - Wait, did I just say background?). Muttered reciprocated wishes , not at all heartfelt. (Did he notice? Probably not.) Returned upstairs to watch news channel report of attack on Pope. Female member of congregation interviewed after midnight mass at London's Westminster Cathedral - "How can anyone do that to such a lovely man?" (I offer no comment as to the adjective employed!) As it was quiet downstairs by now, to enter Christmas spirit put on a section of vintage recording of 'Messiah' (Klemperer - ponderous interpretation but still fascinating) - but not too loud as didn't want to disturb neighbours! At 7.30 back to bed to recover some sleep. Just drifted off when phone rang -my sister to wish me. (Bless her. She wasn't to know.) I can never return immediately to sleep after being unexpectedly awoken, so remained out of bed once more. Read a bit more 'Gone With the Wind' - still every bit as splendid as ever on this, what must be a 5th read. Watched the Orson Welles film of 'Macbeth', recorded few days ago - so dark, both literally and moodily, but also quite funny in parts. Bed again - success this time! One-plus hours catch-up achieved. Christmas dinnertime - egg, chips and beans (as stated in previous post) all of which went down beautifully. Satisfyingly replete, sat down to watch 2008 film of 'La Boheme'. Two hours uninterrupted bliss - with Blackso on my lap entire time. Then played around on computer, catching up on emails, blogs, news stories, some porn sites etc. Watched first hour of old extended interview with, again, Orson Welles. (Part of BBC 'Orson Welles Season') But even 10 o'clock is getting late for me these days........ so to bed.

Wednesday 23 December 2009

My Christmas Dinner - decision made!

I'd thought I'd decided to have beans on toast with maybe a few sprouts on the side. But now I've hit on something even tastier! I shall indulge in a cholesterol-busting three - no, dammit, FOUR fried eggs with a HUGE mound of very well twice-fried potatoes - and, in a separate bowl, those baked beans perked up with a large pinch of curry powder. And all washed down with a glass or three of port. Now doesn't that get your salivary glands working? My tummy's already rumbling. Mmmmmmmm. Roll on Friday!

Thursday 17 December 2009

It may feel cold around your parts but I'm getting chilblains on mine.

I do so dislike the cold - and for a few days now and for at least a few days more the weather here has been nithering. I know that when I say that temperatures have been hovering only just above freezing during the day and just below at night, some may find that positively balmy - even torrid. But I just ain't used to it. Goodness knows how we grew up in a house that didn't have any heating at all. Once in a while my Dad would fix an open fire in the living room only and that is all we'd have the entire Winter through. Memories of waking up on ice-cold mornings and finding that all the water pipes had frozen so we had to wash in a metal basin filled by a kettle from the stove. In fact it wasn't until I was well into my 20s that I first experienced living with central heating. Now I couldn't survive without it. Even my cats don't like the cold - especially Blackso who sleeps under the duvet with me, warming himself with my body-heat in the crook of my arm, while I struggle to maintain some semblance of comfort for both of us. Unlike Noodles, who'll pester me to be let out in the middle of the night by coming to the bedroom and jumping on and off the bed, Blackso will snooze the entire night through. Only trouble is, he snores like a foghorn - whereas Noodles doesn't snore at all. Wish it was the other way round. Anyway, hope this cold snap is just that - temporary - and roll on Summer. (Yeah, dream on! - for another four months at the very least!)

Saturday 12 December 2009

"Oh Gawd, Miss Scarlett. Dis gempmum's readin' 'bout us - agaaayyyn!"

Every December I like to give myself a self-indulgent treat by luxuriating and wallowing in re-reading a book which thrills me again and again. Was surprised to find that my last reading of GWTW was December 1994 - which must itself have been at least my fourth time, so there's absolutely no competition this year. Must confess that as I get older I wonder if the time I re-read a particular book or re-watch a favourite film will also be the last time. Morbid thought, yes, but that's the way it is. Anyway will embark on this wonderful biblio-journey in tandem with another work by a favourite author whom I also tend to re-read in December, but this time as I've recently bought half-a-dozen books of his which have escaped me up to now, I'm choosing Stephen King's collection of short stories (a form he's particularly good at) 'Just After Sunset'.
Can hardly wait to start them - both have to finished before the New Year (one of my little self-imposed regimes) - but first I've got some 200 pages of a P.G.Wodehouse to get through. Busy weeks ahead - but such fun!

Thursday 10 December 2009

The Divine Miss M. gives mouth to a male part (or two?)

'Twas good to be watching TV a couple of evenings ago at around 7.10 when Bette M., appearing on our main BBC channel, uttered the expletive "Oh, bollocks!" at one of the presenters. Nothing gets viewers in such a tizzy as 'bad' language used before the 'watershed' of 9 p.m. When it was pointed out to her what she had said she was unrepentant - and good on her! All this idea of 'corrupting the young' really takes the biscuit. One now hears 8 and 9 year-olds using words I didn't even know existed when I was their age - and it would be another decade or more before I started using them myself - but only in moderation and only when absolutely necessary, you understand! ;-)

Wednesday 9 December 2009

The latest film to 'spook' me out.

I've now seen over 4,000 films (counting only those seen in a cinema) and every once in a while one comes along that lingers in the mind for having been especially disturbing. It's now a fortnight since I saw 'Paranormal Activities' and it's been, well, 'haunting' me every time I retire to bed. Everyone has their own particular trigger point of fear and though I declare myself as agnostic-going-on-atheist and therefore really doubt an after-life, I still feel there's something going on here which we can't yet explain. Of course I know this film is complete fiction but it does bring to the surface an issue defying rationality. While not for a moment suggesting that seances are conclusive proof of an after-life - surely most of them are trickery of some sort - I do feel there's at least something niggling enough about some cases of seeing 'ghosts', experiencing poltergeists etc. to give pause for thought, though I've never had such an ancounter myself. I wish I could dismiss all these reports as fantasy but I think there's something more to it than that.
The points of this film which really got me (I'll not spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it) were not so much the more conspicuous haunting events, but when the couple were asleep in bed and suddenly the hall light is switched on. That really made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. And it's that in particular which I think about when I'm alone in my bed, head under duvet, trying to get off to sleep.
Another film which had a similar effect when I first saw it was 'Blair Witch' - and especially when the trio thought that they'd been walking for several miles only to discover that they'd arrived back at the very point they were at ages before. It felt like my blood was chilling at that point. Whoooo! Spooky!

Friday 4 December 2009

SuBo from below

My neighbour-from-hell under me continues to playhis 'music' loudly for several nights a week until the wee small hours of the following day. I've had to try to live with it as there's no viable alternative - my landlord being unsympathetic (probably, after my informing him of the problem, regarding me as a trouble-maker) and the neighbours in the attached house being unaccountably silent. Anyway, it was with some surprise the other day when I heard the sounds of Susan Boyle's unmistakeable voice drifting up - quite a change from his usual taste of heavy rock and Rolling Stones. It was her recently released album, which he has now played to death. Actually I shared the general amazement a few months ago on first hearing Ms Boyle's voice and even now I still find it quite extraordinary - steady, strong and, usually, accurate. (I read on a certain celebrity gossip website that she's once again started behaving bizarrely. She's clearly very vulnerable and overwhelmed by her world-celebrity status at lightening speed and is in need of good professional care and advice.) Anyway, at 4.30 this morning I heard my neighbour going to bed after I, and presumably, all others living around here, had been hearing Ms Boyle exhorting us to 'cry (me) a river' over and over again. She almost had her wish!
Regarding the singer herself I'm slightly apprehensive about being told that she's a regular church-goer, as well as being a spinster (and, some have said, a virgin, but what does that matter if she is? Are we supposed to read between the lines? - nudge, nudge.) Anyway, I'm just ever so slightly nervous that, were it not for her occasional erratic behaviour, some Christian group would be eager to claim her as their own and use her to trumpet their 'faith' - and bigotry. I bet some are already waiting to jump. Maybe needless fears - but at least for the moment, even though I don't dislike the Stones myself, I'd rather hear her voice than that of Mr Jagger.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Isn't this a cutie?

I'm not sure how well this picture is known - it was on a card sent to me for my birthday six weeks ago ;-) by my brother and his wife. Like everyone else, they know I'm a great animal lover, and an ailurophile above all. I fail to see how anyone can not be won over by this heart-warming, winning image. Just wanted to share it with you.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Ain't he a handsome hunk?

One can find pleasant surprises in some unlikely places - like when I was riffling through our current TV/radio listings guide and came across this advert for bread - and I just had to stop. What a bear! Beautiful smile with more than a hint of sensitiveness underneath. Of course I'm aware that he almost certainly isn't the farmer he's posing as, but what the hell! And wearing those camo pants is the final macho touch to a glorious masculine image. I was also wondering if there was, say for the sake of argument, a whip in his hand instead of that wheat...... It's all just too much. This is the kind of guy from whom I want bear-hugs - Yeah!

Thursday 19 November 2009

Sad time for me

Last night the wife of one of my very few friends rang to tell me that he had passed away. John had been magnificently influential to me since we first met in a gay bar in Amsterdam in the early 1980s. He was at that time about as old as I am now and I could see that his then conspicuous age in a place where youthful looks was everything was isolating him. So, yes, out of pity, I started talking to him and what a fruitful friendship it turned out to be! Although he lived with his wife in an isolated part of England I did visit them once. But he visited me when I lived in Germany, we made further trips to Amsterdam together, as well as twice to Berlin, one time even with his wife. Even when I first talked with him he told me that he had six adult children and was a grandfather several times over. His wife was aware of an 'alternative' side of his personality, as were his children who, apparently, were all relaxed about it. (His youngest daughter thought it was 'hilarious'!) But John had a giant philosphical intellect which would put most, including me, to shame. He was also a Wagner-worshipper - a composer I can live with but don't adulate quite as much as he did.
In one very surprising respect John opened up a new feature of my life - disco-dancing. Before our acquaintanceship the thought of twirling alone on the disco floor so embarrassed me that I would always stand on the sidelines looking on longingly and enviously. But John found it so exhilerating he didn't care what anyone else thought. It certainly looked, erm, 'unusual' to see a white-haired old man energetically jigging around among youngsters some of whom looked askance or bemusedly at him. (By the way, he wasn't just sober - he was also teetotal.) So one day I forced myself onto the floor with him and started letting go. It was indescribably great. In fact for the next ten years there were hardly greater pleasures for me than shaking a leg or three on the disco floors of Gay Europe. I doubt I would ever have done that myself were it not for John's example.
He was 87. Last year he'd had a heart by-pass and a few years ago had had a hip replacement so the end was not totally surprising. But he was active right up to the last - caring for his very large garden which he and his wife let out for public viewings. I hadn't actuallyseen him since he visited me in 1997 when I lived in Brighton but we kept phone contact about once a month. It's unusual for me to lose a friend by means other than through the big 'A' but it makes it quite as devastating. I'll miss him one hell of a lot.

Sunday 15 November 2009


Am I unusual in feeling giddy almost to the point of nausea when looking at this photo? (Yes, I know it's a well known pic. - 'Rockerfeller Center 1932') I think I read somewhere that there was actually a platform below the men just out of camera-shot, though still far enough under them to cause injury if anyone fell. But my imagination doesn't allow me to look at this photo for any length of time, feeling a disturbingly unnerving tingling in the soles of my feet as well as between balls and spine-base (why?). I keep having the curiously inappropriate thought "What if one of the men's shoes fell off?" when knowing full well that laced shoes hardly ever do so. I get a similar feeling of dizziness, though not quite so acute, while looking up at a very tall structure from ground level. Very strange

Thursday 12 November 2009

Day of Shame

Just been announced that the Government has abandoned its attempt to make hatred on grounds of sexual orientation a criminal offence - as a result of sustained opposition from our unelected House of Lords who argued for 'freedom of speech and conscience'. This is the very same body which tried to stop the repeal of the blasphemy laws a few years back - unsuccessfully then, thank God (if there were one!). There are already such laws protecting against hatred on grounds of race and religion but, it seems, that, unlike this attempt to criminalise public expressions of homophobia, the former are really necessary! This sexual orientation provision was part of a larger Bill which the Government feared would be entirely lost due to lack of Parliamentary time if it continued to insist on all the clauses, so they've shown the white feather on this one. No doubt the religious bigots will be crowing at their 'victory'. Shame on this lily-livered Government! Anyway, what other democracy has an entirely unelected governing chamber (including 12 Church of England bishops, for goodness' sake!) with so much power? Whenever I hear that our system of Government (along with our system of justice, our police, army - in fact everything!) is the 'envy of the World', as is regularly claimed, I don't know whether to collapse with hilarity or to puke!

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Disproportionate sorrow?

When I looked out my front window in the 5 a.m. gloom today my heart jumped when I saw a largeish shape lying in the middle of the road. It was twice the size of even my larger cat and anyway the I could see under the road light that the colours were wrong. I went down and gingerly approached it, fearing that it was another cat or a dog. It was a fox, clearly dead by being run down, but a big handsome beast it was. I know that others would describe such animals as vermin, a danger to other beasts which would have killed one of my own cats given the chance, even attacked a child or adult if cornered etc etc. Nevertheless I did feel more than a little distress as I nudged it gently to the side of the road. I do so hate to see a life snuffed out, any life at all, needlessly. Of course I've seen a few dead foxes lying on or by the roadside in my life, but not that many, and certainly never touched one before, albeit with my shoe. I had to wait until 9 0'clock until the Council offices were open to report it. The men came an hour later to remove it - before which naturally curious schoolchildren were walking past and stopping to gawk at it - some of them laughing, which I also found difficult to take. I've only just come back home after seeing M.J.'s 'This Is It' at my local cinema but all the while I felt a heavy feeling in my guts caused by seeing this creature - the sadness is still with me even now. I wish I had a thicker skin but I do feel for the suffering of all animals. Even if in this case the fatal blow was sudden I'm now thinking about whether it had a mate and cubs. I'll just have to wait until this particular mental scar heals over. Yes, I know, I know. There are far more important things to get distressed and to worry about. But I am what I am.

Saturday 31 October 2009

Feline Fear of Fireworks

One of my cats, Blackso, hates this time of year especially. Of course it's Hallowe'en tonight, but for us in the U.K., the kids are only warming up to the 'proper' bonfire/fireworks just five days from now - and there'll be occasional or frequent bangs right up until then when, for poor animals, it must seem that all hell has broken loose. He's right now cowering, terrified, under a large, easy-chair where I've put down a multi-folded large bath towel to give him something soft to lie on and draped old curtains down the sides to give him a sense of safety. I had to push him outside this afternoon because he'd been refusing to go out since yesterday evening. Just ten minutes later he was down at the front looking up at the window with eyes pleading to be let in. He's particularly frightened by the fireworks that whistle before exploding though it's odd that my other cat, Noodles, doesn't seen half as bothered.
When I was growing up Hallowe'en wasn't marked as a special day. It was only after I moved to Oxford in 1975 that on this date I had my first taste of the annual event when a young lad came knocking at my door and when I answered he kept saying what sounded like "Triggertree?". After repeating this mysterious word several times with a smile on his face, he saw that I hadn't a clue what he was going on about and he gave up with an "Aw, okay." and disappeared. When the next day I mentioned this in the office I was told what it meant.
That was then. Now, due entirely to American influence, it's all over the place - pumpkins, 'scary' costumes and, of course, fireworks. I'm not complaining. I'm sure if I was at a suitably young age I too would be participating. Just sorry that for poor animals it must be mental torture - even moreso because here, as I say, the two dates are so close together so that as far as fireworks are concerned it's a prolonged relentless period of bangs for successive evenings. At least after next weekend it ought to die down - but only for a couple of months until New Year when we have the influence from the continent taking over, which we also didn't have until some thirty years ago, and all it starts again!

Thursday 29 October 2009

Tony Blair - President of Europe? Gawd help us!

Much heated debate here about whether the 'grinner' should become the first long-term President of the Council of Europe - an (unlected) figurehead, a post he apparently wants very much. Up to now there has been a rotating 6-monthly tenure so that each member state has a crack of the whip sooner or later but it's been felt that one unchanging leader (though only with limited powers) would be better able to represent the Union. I don't detect much support for his nomination, even here in the UK, apart from those political allies who stood by him through thick and thin. But I think it can fairly be said that for the majority of Brits he just carries too much negative baggage with him, in particular his disastrous foreign policy adventures as well as his inadvisable cosying up to 'Dubya' despite reservations from all over the continent, not least from his own country. Nevertheless he does appear to be front-runner - in fact the only other candidate, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, is so far behind it's all but settled. But if Monsieur Sarkozy and Frau Merkel get their way it's too early to give up hope that he won't be accepted. Actually it seems that the only other major European leader who supports Blair for the post is that joke-on-legs, Silvio Berlusconi. Say no more! Blair, like Thatcher and Gorbachev (and B. Clinton?) historically carries more respect outside his home country than domestically. I did indeed vote for Blair back in 1997 - not just to kick out the tired old scandal-ridden Conservatives but at that moment he did seem to be a breath of fresh air - though that same air grew fetid remarkably quickly. Having said all that, we gays must never forget that it was his dogged determination, more than anyone else's, in the teeth of strong and often hysterical opposition, which was responsible for bringing us legal parity across the board. So we must be eternally grateful for that, of course - though there are still religious leaders and others still yapping on about their right to discriminate against gays on 'grounds of conscience'. So no surprise there. But now, after he converted to Roman Catholicism shortly after leaving office and his active support for religious foundations (of whatever faith) Blair has tarnished himself in a way I find difficult to overlook, though it would be the appalling historic legacy that I would regret most of all in him as President. I certainly wouldn't want someone with such a C.V. to speak for me! - and, I repeat, it'll be an unelected post. Mind you, he might have had his ambition's guns spiked by the Conservative opposition (who will almost certainly win next year's election) declaring that they would regard the appointment of Blair to the post of President as a 'hostile act'. Nice one! So, we'll wait and see what happens. Interesting days ahead.

Monday 26 October 2009

My next read.

I'm not going to mention in my blogs every single book I read - anyway, my rate has been around 70-80 books per year for at least the last decade. But I'm currently with Joseph Heller's 'Closing Time' (1994) which is basically some of the characters from 'Catch 22' some 30 years on. I've read C.22 at least five times to date - you might guess correctly that I'm a fan. The film wasn't that bad either, though of course, translating a brilliant book into another medium is very nearly every time a flawed achievement, if it is indeed a success at all. But for me, now halfway through 'Closing Time', this doesn't have the easy flow of the earlier work with all its outrageousness. The effort involved in producing it is almost readable between the lines. But one can hardly blame Heller for not being as youthful as he once was! Nevertheless I shall proceed and try to prevent my mind from wandering too much. I've read others of Heller too - 'Good as Gold' being one of them but I've yet to read anything from that period as joyously anarchic as 'Catch 22.

Sunday 25 October 2009

Augusten Burroughs - my verdict after reading one book.

'Running with Scissors' - hugely entertaining. Can't remember the last time I found a book so amusing. Many laughs. Highly recommended. My next read of this author when I get round to it - 'Possible Side Effects'. Hope it's even half as good. (Thanks particularly to you, Wonderboy, for mentioning A.B.)

Monday 19 October 2009

Augusten Burroughs

I never even knew the name until Wonderboy (aka Idle Eyes and a Dormy) mentioned him a few weeks ago on his blog. Surprised that the name had been unfamiliar to me as I'm a positive glutton for books. However, feeling I was missing out on something worthwhile, I ordered two of his works over the Internet - 'Running with Scissors' and 'Possible Side Effects'. As the first was out of print here I had to wait a while before they eventually did send both books. They arrived three days ago. I'm already a third of the way through 'Scissors' and must say I do find it quite a hoot! I was a bit afraid that it might be 'too American' for a Brit, in that such readers as I would miss a significant number of the American cultural references - e.g. one of the puffs on the cover calls it 'The Brady Bunch on Viagra'. I've never ever seen 'The Brady Bunch', though, of course, I'm familiar with the name. I dare say that I am indeed missing the contexts of some of his remarks but even so I've already laughed out loud several times. And though it's such densely packed writing it's an undemanding read. So, going well. I'm only hoping it doesn't falter - but there's no sign of that so far. Grateful thanks to Wonderboy for bringing the writer to my attention.

Friday 16 October 2009

Reds are STILL baleful.

Two blogs ago I wrote of buying sweatshirts including, and daringly for me, a burgundy one. I probably haven't worn a shade of red in a main garment since as long ago as my teens when I starting observing that whenever I did so things rapidly went awry. So, thinking that I'm just being silly about it all, (how absurd to think that a mere colour can have such a negative effect!) today for the first time I put on this reddish sweatshirt - and, boy, I wish I hadn't! What an exasperating and maddening six hours I've just spent - all trying to get a replacement TV remote control. Things went so wrong. I've now divested myself of the 'culprit' shirt - but, alas, too late to avoid now being up to 2 weeks without TV. Too complicated to relate the full story (and boring for readers) but after no less than three back-and-forths between my flat and the TV dealers I'm now left with no remote at all and with the TV set locked into child-safety-lock mode - which can only be got out of by using - yes, a remote control!!!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Being the news-junkie that I am, seeing the news as well as listening to it is absolutely essential. Of course the temporary solution is that I'll just have to use the computer as a substitute until I get a remote again - but a computer is far more fiddly to set up, tune into, and less comfortable to watch, but I'll just have to grin and bear it. But one thing is clear - no more reds!

Friday 9 October 2009

An odd and very scary fantasy situation.

I've always suffered from a certain degree of vertigo, though not so acute as to be disabling. A few nights ago I had this thought during the 'twilight' period in bed just before one actually drops off into sleep - and it's been haunting me ever since.
A thin pillar-like structure rises so high that it dwarfs all surrounding buildings, even nearby skyscrapers. At the very top there is a tiny platform about 2-foot square. I am standing on it. There are no barriers. I am unsupported and unharnessed. (In the irrationality of dream-like situations, there is no indication of how I came to be up there.) I'm frozen in fear, yet fighting the overwhelming desire to throw myself off because of the feeling that it's just not right that there should be this huge distance from myself and the ground - and I'm actually conscious of a 'moral obligation' to close the gap. I daren't even sit down with my legs dangling over the edge as, apart from falling off myself, I'm afraid one of my shoes would come off and drop down into the immeasurable depths! Meantime as I stand paralysed into inaction this desire to eject myself manifests as an infuriating itching, specifically at the base of the spine and also between balls and bum-hole. Heart is thudding like a Zulu drum. How long can I hold out? I can foresee the acute relief that I would feel the moment I stepped off. The thought of the bliss of being released from this tension is overpowering. The open-endedness of the situation precludes any conclusion. Even now I'm still up there.
I'm wondering if there are others who can identify with my feelings and share the same fear of ever being in this, frankly impossible, situation - which in the stillness of night almost brings me out in a cold sweat.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Reflecting colours.

In a couple of weeks I hit twenty-one, yet again (for the third time, actually!) and I've been musing how, as one ages, the options of colours in what one wears become seriously restricted. Of course some might say "Just wear what you want!" but when I see mature, very mature (or even post-mature!) guys trying to carry off an image that is so inappropriate it looks not just glaringly conspicuous but plain silly too. The subject has come to the fore because last week I received the three 'Fruit-of-the-Loom' sweat shirts which I'd ordered over the Internet. Although they were the colours I'd asked for after seeing them on-screen, when I had them actually in front of me, those in Royal Blue and Emerald Green looked so garish, almost like neon lights, I simply wouldn't wear them outside, so they'll have to be relegated to under-the-jacket wear. Odd that that even though all my life I've eschewed wearing reds (laugh if you will, but reds clash with my 'aura' and always make me feel nervy and jumpy - blues, greens and browns are my 'comfy colours') for the third sweatshirt I thought of being a little adventurous and opted for a burgundy - and this one turns out to be the only one of the three I'd feel happy for people to see me wearing.
It's a long, long time since I gave up wearing jeans in white or light blue - they just look so wrong on older men, even moreso on those with a substantial waistline. (Why don't people tell them?). I think - and I've absolutely no expertise in fashion - men of my relatively advanced age are always safe with blacks, most browns (though avoiding light beiges which can add still further years onto one. Too near white, I suppose) and dark, maybe also medium, blues. But bright reds and yellows are two big no-nos. Even when I was as young as 30ish I once bought an orange T-shirt, but on getting it home soon realised that even then I was too old to get away with wearing such a day-glo colour so I gave it to one of my teenage nephews. (Maybe middle-aged and older men should only wear orange if it's part of high-visibility safety workwear!)
Perhaps in other societies there'd be less looking askance at men wearing flamboyant colours in everyday dress, but as it is I don't much fancy standing out in a crowd - unless I was in somewhere like Hawaii, of course, where a man wearing sober colours might be the conspicuous one.

Saturday 26 September 2009

Oh Goody! His Hole-iness is coming!

It's been announced that Pope Bene-dick-t will be coming to England in a year's time. My oh my! It's the first time we're been 'honoured' with a Papal visit since, well, all of 27 years! How have we managed to survive so long deprived of blessings from the Holy Father in person? However the question remains as to whether such an increasingly frail old biddy will himself last another year - to be replaced (through God's personal choice, of course) by yet another aged reactionary who parades that essential Papal qualification, rampant homophobia. There could well be the added 'attraction' of his successor quite likely being the first black Pope for over one thousand years, probably even the first in history. No doubt this added 'feature' will be used to trumpet extra validation to the proclamations of his Papal Bulls.
The 2010 Papal itinerary will include the city where I lived 1975-88 and where I'd like to retire back to in order to live out my final years - Oxford. (A small city steeped in arts and culture, which I revel in.) Interesting to see what kind of reception he'll get there from the University authorities and the student bodies. Although superficially conservative through long pro-establishment history, a significant and vocal proportion of University students are actually quite radical = some very much so. I can't imagine they are going to miss out on the chance of delivering a loud raspberry or two.
One of the random people of Oxford interviewed on TV was practically having orgasms of delight at the news. "He's a good man!" she gushed - while I thought "Hmmm. Moot point!" - as though the phrase 'good man' was the clincher which justifies his bile-spouting pronouncements causing suffering, misery and alienation to hundreds of millions. Oh dear, better stop now. Got to keep an eye on the old blood-pressure.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Christians get their turn - and don't quite get it right.

After a splendid few days when our railway stations were displaying on large-lettered posters the slogan "SOME PEOPLE ARE GAY - GET OVER IT!" (posters were paid for by 'Stonewall', this country's foremost and highest-profile national gay organisation), pretty much those very same spaces are now taken up by posters advertising the Christian 'Alpha' course with the question "IS THERE A GOD?" and then a choice of three boxes to tick as though it was a questionnaire - 'YES', 'NO' and 'PROBABLY'. Hmmmm. That seems rather weighted in one direction. Where's the box I would have preferred to tick ? - 'PROBABLY NOT' (ideally with the addition of " if there is one, S/he or It doesn't give a flying f*ck about us!") Or, alternatively, shouldn't the 'PROBABLY' option have been either 'PERHAPS' or, even better, 'MAYBE, MAYBE NOT'?

Sunday 13 September 2009

BACK POCKET BLUES - A Little Froth in Verse.

Seeing that my good computer-pal 'Idle Eyes' (aka 'Wonderboy', at least to me) put up a poem of his a couple of days back, I'm similarly inspired to post this little effort of mine which was knocked together a few years ago. It might get a wider audience here, perhaps raising a ghost of a smile in the process. It relates to an actual incident in the early 1990s when I lived in the London suburbs and my finances were really rock-bottom - even worse than they are at present. I only escaped a likely dreadful fate by being able to outrun my tormentors, something I doubt I'd be capable of doing now.


Woke up this morning.
Pulled on my Wranglers.
'Golden Brown' on the radio,
that hit by 'The Stranglers'.

The colours weren't right
for those in MY shoes.
Without any cash
life's colours are BLUES.

That bulge on my right hip
don't mean I got plenty.
My wallet's right there,
but it's practically empty!

Appearances can be
so very deceptive.
My wallet's compartments
are sorely defective.

Not even a fiver.
No sign of a ten.
I do have some coins, though,
for moments like when -

I'm asked "Can you lend me
10 pence for one cup of tea?"
"LEND? Yes. But when
will you return it to me?"

A chain on the wallet
connects to my waist.
It shows only where
my wallet is placed.

So don't bother mugging me.
You won't think it funny
when I tell YOU to
"PISS OFF - or show ME the money!"

Saturday 12 September 2009

New neighbour gets 'stoned' so often he's driving me to drink.

This morning, repeat morning, at o5.10, there was the clear sound of the non-dulcet tones of Mr Jagger - sorry, SIR Michael Jagger - drawling out 'Honky Tonk Woman' coming from below. Luckily this was around the time I get up anyway so I personally didn't suffer too much - but the neighbours? Actually the volume was probably about what one might expect in the daytime, but at that unearthly hour when everything else is near-silent, well.......
He's been ensconced below me for 3 1/2 weeks now - and it's not been a dull time, to put a spuriously fine complexion on it. Every evening at some point there's high-volume sound of his record-playing (he's a great fan of the 'Stones') or TV/radio. When he's got the telly on it's so loud that if I found his channel I could mute my own set and watch it using his sound. And it's not only that - he's constantly talking to himself (or his dog), sometimes yelling - even late into the night. He clearly has a problem with drink but, as far as I can tell, is getting no help over it. He probably doesn't even realise the commotion he's causing. To be fair there are times, lasting a day at most, when he's so quiet that I think he's turned over a new leaf, but then each time so far my hopes have been confounded. He's clearly oblivious or just couldn't care about the disruption to the lives of others. About a week ago I was awoken around 3 a.m. by his hammering - as though he was assembling furniture or something. This went on for about an hour. Then the night before last heard him going out at 11.30 p.m. slamming doors as loud as if it was deliberate. (I normally retire around 9-9.30) He returned half an hour later in same loud fashion, went out again (likewise) and then couple of hours later came back, with the same 'fanfare' of slamming doors. My sleep had been so inadequate that yesterday I tried no less than 5 times to catch up on it, only finally succeeeding with the help of a large Jack Daniels. Not good for my health - and sanity. At least one particular neighbour is also suffering, with her 12-year old daughter using the room directly neighbouring his living room as her temporary bedroom. Neighbour tells me that this guy's every drunken word can be heard from there. (I normally just hear mumblings unless he's really firing on all cylinders, which, admittedly, isn't every day.) She's trying to approach my landlord who seems to be avoiding her. But he knows the situation from me - and doesn't want to get involved. As long as he's not actually breaking up the place, it seems, it's up to me to ask him gently to "keep the noise down". (Quote: "I'm not a social worker!") I don't know if my landlord has ever asked a guy who's frequently sloshed to 'act reasonably'. Being the lily-livered person that I am who just wants a quiet life, I don't want to say anything to him for fear of retaliation not just against me but to my two pussies who are already scared out of their little wits in seeing his huge dog in the garden below, so close - the very spot where they, until he arrived, could doze in the sun undisturbed. So what to do? I'm just hoping that somehow things will move on by themselves, such as him putting a brick through his own window (not mine, please) so that the landlord tells him to move out. Ain't I the coward? Now I've just heard him coming in downstairs, with an ear-cracking door slam. (Great!) Developments will be chronicled.

Thursday 10 September 2009

An 'M Butterfly' situation - but with a cat.

Took Noodles, my 'tabby' cat, for 'her' first visit to the vet yesterday for a general check-over, as well as getting her started on the course of the vaccinations necessary in order to be able to put 'her' in a cattery when I'm away from home. Yes, 'she' turned out to be a 'he' - and demonstrated in spectacular fashion by squirting a jet of piss onto the young lady examining him. Actually I'd always suspected it was a tom even though his previous owner with two little girls which it had run away from kept describing it as 'she' - it never possessed teats, unlike my other cat, a neutered tom. They'd both left their previous separate homes (on this same road), preferring to live with me. Efforts to return them were all failures as they insisted on moving in here, so the two previous owners just gave up and I was too much of a softie to shut them out. I could never give them up now. They are truly my best friends.
As for the new neighbour in the flat below me - the nightmare goes on unabated. Don't know where to start in describing the present dreadful situation - so for the moment I won't bother. I'm just too depressed about the whole thing to make it feel even worse by putting it down in writing. But I'll get round to it sometime.

Thursday 27 August 2009

'Liberal' and 'socialist' as terms of abuse in America.

I was very interested to hear an item on our BBC Radio main morning news programme today which said that in America the word 'liberal', which was formerly used as a political insult, now no longer seems to carry the weight it used to, whereas 'socialist', when voiced by the 'right', does still carry the same disparaging clout. (I ought to say that in the UK neither word is used in particularly condemnatory fashion - indeed, even some Conservatives here are proud to declare themselves as 'liberal' on social and/or economic matters! ) The subject came up relating to the sad, but not entirely unexpected, demise of Senator Kennedy - almost universally liked and admired here, I dare venture to say. But it seems that defining him merely as 'liberal' is not pejorative enough for right-wing American commentators and politicians - the word 'socialist' carries more demeaning weight. Actually, to call Kennedy or Obama as 'socialist' or even Obama as being just 'liberal' is almost outside our comprehension here - though, of course, one sees things through the political prism of one's homeland and its history. But if there actually is this change of mood in American right-wing thought, it is something to be welcomed.

Sunday 23 August 2009

New neighbour and his dog + my latest food fad

Although there hasn't yet been a repetition of that dreadful experience of my new downstairs neighbour's first night there are occasionally still disturbingly loud thumpings and bangings coming from his flat. However last night was also rather disruptive. I was awoken at 1 a.m. by his TV or radio at loud volume - it seemed to be some programme about The Rolling Stones' (a DVD of 'Shine a Light'?). He turned it off about 45 minutes later though I was left wide awake for at least a further hour. I fear that this might turn out to be regular disruptive behaviour on his part. A couple of days ago as I went out, having to pass his flat, his door was left wide open (hardly any furniture, the floor strewn with bits and pieces) his dog came out to greet me, tail wagging, jaw slack in 'smiley' fashion. It's a big, handsome beauty which allowed me to stroke it. But in the four days it's been here I still haven't heard an audible peep from it - certainly no barking and no whining either. I can't help wondering if the poor thing has been 'de-barked'. There's no discernible sign of it being mistreated, thank heavens. When I see him taking it out it holds its head up, tail erect, with no appearance of cowering in his company. And so far my own pussies have successfully managed to avoid it though I suppose a confrontation sometime is inevitable. Anyway I still haven't exchanged a word with the guy though it's only a matter of time before I'll bump into him when I'm going out or returning. So, my apprehension about what the future holds between us is undiminished.
About a week ago I decided I'd really like to take a further step on my road from vegetarianism to veganism, at least while I've still got the time to do it. So I started buying soya milk instead of cows', though I still have to get the latter for my cats - they won't go anywhere near the other. It's taking me some time to get used to it. That caramel-like taste was initially quite off-putting but slightly less so now. I do appreciate how carnivorous humans can be irritated by the presence of or just hearing from veggies/vegans. The latter can seem to be preachy just by their conspicuously different food intake - with a condescending unvoiced air of superiority. But although I hope I'd never try to talk others into changing their own behaviour to accord with mine, my zoophilic conscience has been nagging me all my life and I feel a bit more at ease now that I'm moving in the right direction for me. The question is "Will this soya-milk phase last?" However, getting weaned off eggs (my favourite food of all, together with potatoes, tomatoes and cauliflower) is going to even more problematic. I have been eating only 'free-range' for decades - but, to be truthful, I'm not quite sure why one should deprive oneself of a natural product, when, as far as I can see, as long as the eggs are unfertilised, there has been no animal suffering involved. But no doubt someone will tell me that hens shouldn't be reared just to produce eggs and then be slaughtered at the end of their egg-producing lives. Meantime my conscience in that respect I oh-so-conveniently put on hold.

Thursday 20 August 2009

New neighbour moved in - could he turn into the neighbour from hell?

Yesterday a guy moved into the flat under me - by himself. So, sadly, it wasn't the possible gay couple I was told it might have been. I've not properly met him yet, only having seen him through the window. He looks to be in his 30s, but nothing in his mien makes me think he might be gay - but, of course, one can never be sure. He was talking to my next-door neighbours quite cordially. Then yesterday evening I was wondering why my two pussies were being so cagey about going in and out of the kitchen back window. I assumed it was just that they'd noticed a stranger, but then to my surprise and alarm saw a fully-grown Alsatian in the back garden. (Not that I personally mind. All animals are my friends.) But that was totally unexpected. Then I retired last night at 9.30, noticing that downstairs was in complete darkness so I assumed he was maybe out walking the dog. Then at 10 o'clock there was the sound of his coming in. The nights have been so sultry that I've been sleeping with all windows open with my bedroom looking out onto back garden. Then I got the smell of his smoking out there - and soon the 'nostalgic' smell of Amsterdam bars - grass being smoked. Although I've never tried it myself - not even smoked a 'normal' cigarette, actually (Ooh! Get her! 'Virgin Lips!' - at least as far as cigarettes are concerned! ;-) ) I've got nothing against cannabis smokers - loads of my past friends smoked it regularly, and I certainly didn't mind then. But with whatever combinations he was inhaling and probably imbibing, at first there was a mumble which grew and grew until his slurred words were discernible. I couldn't decide if he was talking to himself or to his dog - but the language was certainly 'colourful' - 'effing and blinding' loudly. That lasted for about an hour. He then went inside where I heard him bumping around - sounded like he was either knocking things over or falling down himself. For a brief period he had pop music on - loud! - then he went back to stamping and bumping around the flat. I was still awake at 3 a.m. I had to rise at 5.30 to put out the bins for collection. (I had feared I might be subject to a canine attack, having to enter the back garden to get the bins out. But I haven't seen or heard at all any signs of that dog since yesterday afternoon - so I hope he was only temporarily minding it for someone. Should find out today.) So as at this moment I've just got out of bed once again after trying to catch up on missed sleep. I've already heard him stirring about this morning. So I'm full of trepidation how this may turn out. He doesn't seem like the type of guy whom I could trust to care for my pussies if I'm called away. Meantime I'm hoping madly that last night was just an aberration and that he may turn out to be a nice, reliable guy after all - though the signs don't exactly look encouraging.

Monday 17 August 2009

Thrills on the telly

I'm really in my element watching the current World Athletics championships from Berlin. This competition is second only to the Olympics. Phew! - watching those big, beefy, often hairy, bodies working up a monsoon of sweat as they pump their taut muscles up, down, this way and that, it really gets me so excited. And watching the men is even better!

Friday 14 August 2009

American health issue - Feathers ruffled here.

The appearance of Daniel Hannan, a British Conservative MEP (Member of the European Parliament) slagging off our National Health Service on Fox News (where else?) has certainly caused a stir here. So he 'wouldn't wish (our NHS) on anyone', would he? Well, he can afford to buy his own private health care. The vast majority of us can't and (you know what?) I wouldn't change the present system for the world, just the same as, I believe, over 90% of the British population! Knowing that one has the safety blanket of pretty good or very good care should one need it, no matter what one's income and resources are, even if they're nil, is a great comforting thought ever-present in the background. Of course there are particular areas of the health service which can be improved. There always will be. But I've got no complaints at all about the services I've received throughout my life - and I don't think anyone I know, including those who've been in hospital, somewhere I've never been myself (touch wood), would hold a different view. I heard it said by American commentators that here one has a doctor assigned to one and one has to make do with whomever one is given. That's news to me. I can apply to be registered with any doctor I wish and, when granted one, I can change to another without giving any reason.
I always feel reluctant to pontificate and criticise on the political systems of other democratic countries when, heaven knows, we have so many faults of our own, though I was at first bemused at seeing the nature of the campaigning against Obama on this issue but it really has turned distasteful and nasty now - even distressing. Portraying the man as Hitler is just so ridiculously OTT. But then the word 'socialist' is uttered by these same people with the same repugnance as they say 'paedophile' . It strikes me sometimes that even being 'liberal' is akin to being a rapist. Oh, and by the way, the said Mr Hannan has been rapidly slapped down and (alas, too tamely) dismissed as an 'eccentric' not only by our Conservative Party leader who re-asserts that the National Health Service here is his 'number one priority' but by an array of seniors from that very same party - as well, of course, by any number of government ministers and prominent spokesmen from our own socialist (at least in name. I wish it was more so) Labour government. Okay, now that I've got that off my chest let's move on!

Friday 7 August 2009

Relief for my pussies

My landlord came into the flat yesterday for the first time in several years. He needs to do repairs on some rotting window frames. At first I said I'd give him a ring when I was ready to let him in but then decided to get it over with and told him to come straight up. Both my cats were here in the kitchen - it's the first time he's seen them. (Under the tenancy agreement no pets of any description are allowed) But from his initial "Hello there!" I could see he also was a cat person. I plunged in and told him the truth that they had both chosen me to live with rather than stay with their previous owners. To my great relief he wasn't at all fussed and doesn't seem to be going to make an issue of it. And here's me for ages working out what I could do if he'd insisted on my parting with them - they are my best, in fact my only friends 'in the flesh' as it were. So I can now exhale a huge "phew!" Only potential problem now is the still-to-materialise new tenants in the flat under me. He said it could be one of several, including a couple of men in their 40s (interesting!). But that's all for the future. In the meantime my greatest fear hasn't materialised. Lucky pussies - and me!

Sunday 2 August 2009

Brighton Gay Pride

I wrote a little while ago about this, the country's largest such annual event outside London - and that for me it feels like the loneliest place on earth when you've no one to go with . Well, it took place yesterday and I went this time determined to at least talk to someone there, anyone! But it turned out to have the usual outcome. Came back feeling unwanted and dejected. Something is stopping me from participating fully, but exactly what, I don't know. Well, I do know, actually. It's that fiendish demon inside which grins and gloats whenever it succeeds in making me feel inadequate through my own actions/inactions. I can even now feel it swelling with the satisfaction and schadenfreude it has 'earned'. Having said that, even though the event was very well-attended (it always is - surely at least 100.000, probably a lot more) the weather left a lot to be desired. So those religious zealots who each year pray for God to rain on our parade, this year, very unusually, got their way - though it only really started after the parade had reached the park for the funfair and festivities. But even though I was there for only a little over 3 hours all that standing around and walking with very slow-moving crowds took their toll on my legs, especially feet and knees. When I got back home felt completely 'plum tuckered out'! And this morning could only hobble painfully to the newsagent to collect my usual Sunday morning paper (liberal-leaning, natch!) So it seems that age is quite evidently taking its toll too - which must additionally delight that little demon inside. Oh well, so that was 2009. We'll have to try harder next year - but that very same resolution is also a repeated annual event.

Tuesday 28 July 2009

A film that ought to have been so much better.

Just seen the new film 'Moon' directed by Duncan Jones (David Bowie's son) with Sam Rockwell and the voice of Kevin Spacey, which I was looking forward to so much in the light of many positive reviews. But my enjoyment, such as it was, was much diminished by the ever-present irritation of a science fiction film yet again depicting sound in an atmosphere-less environment, in this case the lunar surface, as well as a couple of sequences in space. Why do they always do this? I could never enjoy any of the 'Star Wars' series for this very reason, depite the obvious cartoonish intentions of the film-makers. In fact there have only been a couple of films that got anywhere near the reality - '2001 - A Space Odyssey', of course (my all-time favourite film) - but then Kubrick was working with the brilliant, relatively recently deceased, scientist and author Arthur C. Clarke - and also, I think, John Carpenter's 'Dark Star' a few years later - though I may be wrong about the latter, not having seen it again since that first time in the mid-70s. But now over 40 years on from '2001' and we are still treated to a comic-book style of film-making when there's simply no justification for it. Another thing that bugged me about 'Moon' was this body having the same gravitational force as on earth (apart, oddly enough, for a brief passage towards the end) as well as lunar shadows having diffuse edges, like terrestial ones. The first of these might be forgiven as it would be virtually impossible and very expensive indeed to produce an entire film depicting a gravity force of less than 1g. About all these features maybe it's just me being pernickety - but Astronomy has always been a great interest of mine. In my childhood it was an obsessive passion. I'm sure that if I knew more about, say, chemistry, geology or medicine I'd be tearing my hair out over inaccuracies there too. But with space films the errors such as the ones I've mentioned pervade the entire film rather than for just a few seconds or a passing comment. An especial pity because in other respects I found 'Moon' a significantly superior film. And while we're on the subject of film-makers treating their audience as just too stupid to know - why do all films have sound travelling at the speed of light? Even if we see an explosion taking place miles away the resulting sound of it is always heard simultaneously. I would have thought there'd be real dramatic possibilities in showing the reality of an aural delay, but no, they just have to take the easy way out - as though we were just too 'simple' to understand how things really are! Grrrrrrrr!!!!!
Having got that of my chest I'll just also report that (a) there's been no sound from the dog next door for some days now, so I imagine they were just minding it while the owner was away - and (b) still no neighbour has moved in under me. I like it like that but still a bit apprehensive about the new arrival/s when it happens.

Saturday 18 July 2009

Dog days - and nights.

I'll be going to bed with some trepidation tonight. The last two nights, my sleep (such as it was) has been punctuated by the yelping of a dog which the family next door have acquired either for themselves or, I'm hoping, are watching for someone while they are away. They lock it alone in a downstairs room and, anyone with half a brain knows that such a pack animal will suffer mental agonies being left for hours locked away in solitude. It sounds youngish so I fear they may have got a puppy for themselves. Even keeping my bedroom window shut doesn't make that much difference - its pathetic crying is so piercing. I can't understand why the people aren't so disturbed by the noise themselves that they find it somewhere physically closer to themselves, but I've always been a light sleeper - in fact almost, but not quite, an insomniac. It's the distress of the animal that upsets at least as much as the noise. The suffering of animals, any animal, causes me such mental torments it's debilitating. I'm afraid to say anything to them as up to now I've had good relations with the large family and it could so easily turn nasty. So at the moment I'm taking the coward's way out and hoping that a new tenant soon moves in below me and they, being even closer to the poor animal, maybe will say something. (White feather time!)

Thursday 16 July 2009

Summer musings

Blissful couple of hours sitting on the pier here in very warm sun in one of the best Summers we've had in many a year. Reading short stories by the hugely enjoyable Patricia Highsmith, alternating with listening to cassete - one of about 100 I've compiled over the years of relatively obscure classical works (today - Max Bruch's First Symphony). I always used to take a handful of these tapes with me when I visited my dear mum, increasingly frequently as she steadily deteriorated until the inevitable happened and she died four years ago. I'd played these tapes over and over again when on the train travelling up and down and also while I was with her so I got to know them pretty well. Today is the first time I've started playing them again since her passing so one can imagine the powerful poignancy. Bitter-sweet indeed.
The apartment below me still vacant though two days ago I saw the landlord arrive and heard him talking below with what sounded like a single female voice, though I didn't actually catch a glimpse of her. I assume that the expected Czech young lady with infant didn't materialise (she had been due to move in some 10 days ago) and that this is a potential replacement. So I'm still in suspense waiting to see the new tenant's reaction to my pussies.

Friday 3 July 2009

Refelections on past Pride events

The first Gay Pride event I ever attended was in London 1976 - and what dour affairs they were then! I'm pretty sure they weren't called 'Pride' - more something like 'Gay Equality March' (this was when the age of consent here was 21 - and then only in a strictly defined 'private'.) I well remember the sombre tone of that particular event (no bands, only chanting) as we were allowed only to follow a route through the back streets of central London, accompanied by police, some visibly smirking and sneering, and being jeered at, even spat upon I once witnessed, by by-standers. How things change! Now they are truly a celebration - colourful and in-your-face. It's something no serious politician can afford to be openly hostile to. The party leaders this year are tripping over each other in order to demonstrate that they are most pro-gay. For the first time tomorrow's event in London will have the Prime Minister's wife among the march leaders - though not yet the P.M. himself - maybe next year? For some time already they've been graced by the presence of the Lord Mayor of London. A few days ago the Conservative leader even publicly apologised for the anti-gay legislation introduced by Margaret Thatcher's government. What is the world coming to? And all this on top of the truly wonderful news from India. (Let's all hope the religious groups there don't get the ruling reversed.)
But although I went to quite a few of the ensuing rallies in London I gradually became aware that it's the not the sort of thing one likes to go to alone. In spite of being among thousands of like-minded men and women I realised it can also what seems like the loneliest place in the world. At least when I used to frequent bars regularlyI could use alcohol as a 'prop' to enable me to start chatting to someone I like. Rarely drinking to excess, I'm glad to say. (I thank heavens that I'm not alcy - though I do realise how easy it is to become so.) But at these events if one is alone it seems to me that no one wants to know you.
Next month is Brighton Pride, the largest such event in this country outside London (Brighton, for decades being the gay 'capital' here.) I usually go to that because it's so easy to get there and back in 20-30 minutes. It always raises my spirits in particular to see the Gay Muslim group marching. They are so brave and gutsy. I'll go to this year's but I know I'm almost certainly going to come back feeling lonely, deflated and empty inside - but there's always the chance.......

Incidentally, I'm still waiting with considerable trepidation the arrival of the new occupant of the now empty flat under me. As I write this my two pussies are here sleeping beside me. If there's trouble over their presence ......well, I daren't think what I might do.

Sunday 28 June 2009

Anne Frank's Diary - and its effect.

I'm re-reading this (in a German translation from the original Dutch) which I first read some 20 years ago when I was doing an intensive German language course in Cologne. I now find it almost unbearably poignant. So very painful in a way which I don't recall experiencing first time round, though I would certainly have found it profoundly moving, not so much in what she actually writes about from day to day, but in the light of our privileged hindsight knowledge of the ensuing fate of Anne and her family. I mention this because for some time I've become increasingly aware that with advancing age I'm becoming ever more sensitive to the sufferings of others depicted either in reality through newsreels, or otherwise represented and depicted. Even within the fictionality of the cinema, some of those films which I saw decades ago with little or no emotion on my part, I now find so harrowing that I've got to turn away or switch the damn thing off. A recent example is a video I've got of the film 'Straw Dogs' which in the early 70s I had to travel 30 miles to a nearby town to see because it had been banned by my local town council (as were also 'A Clockwork Orange', 'The Devils', 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' etc. They now get shown on prime-time TV!). But I found I had to fast-forward this 'Straw Dogs' video and look away for the rape scene, even though I knew what would happen - a practice I despise when I hear of others doing it. (It shows such disrepect for the film-makers, I would argue.) Similarly, I saw 'Sophie's Choice' at the cinema when it first appeared, of course. But a few years later I bought the video - and I've not even once played it. I just dare not subject myself to those harrowing emotions again that I remember so well. God only knows why I bought the video in the first place!
So the transformation within me, while not necessarily unhealthy, certainly gives reason to ponder. Is it part of my becoming more intolerant and reactionary as I get older? No, I'm NOT advocating banning others from experiencing what I've experienced just because I don't now approve of it for myself. Been at the wrong end of those thoughts too long not to realise the tyranny that leads to. But it's all food for thought. So back to dear Anne - I don't have to finish reading it, of course, but I feel that putting my emotions through the wringer for her cause might at least help to make me into a better person while I've still got the time.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Not a good sign.

Oh dear! Just heard that my new downstairs neighbour is to be a single (former) Czech young lady with a 2 year-old child, due to move in in a couple of weeks. Why the "Oh dear"? Apparently she's been very nosey about the financial circumstances of the family moving out - things that are none of her business. It sounds like (although I may be proved quite wrong, I hope) the type of person to complain about my having the two cats when I'm not allowed to have any pets at all - though the flat-owner was aware I had at least one and said he'd "turn a blind eye to it" - but having two!!!! That could make him tell me to get rid of them. If that were to happen I don't know what I would do. They are my best friends in the world - and my only friends 'present and in the flesh'. Hoping and praying that I'm only thinking the worst and that it doesn't work out as bad as I fear.

Friday 5 June 2009

Apprehension again.

My regular concern comes round once more. Just heard this morning that my neighbours in the flat (apartment) below me are moving out in one month's time, just one year since they arrived. The previous tenant had been there for only 10 months and those prior to her lasted 18 months. The story is the usual one - the flat (on the ground floor) is just too cold - as well as being too small for a couple with a young baby. So my main worry is - what will the incoming tenant(s) think about my having two cats when I'm not really allowed to have any pets at all? All the previous neighbours have been cat-lovers or, at least, not cat-fur allergic, but I've been really lucky. Will the same luck hold out? If I had to part with my treasured twosome....... well, let's not go there. The thought is too upsetting to contemplate. Landlord is bringing someone round this afternoon to look at the to-be-vacated flat. Have to make sure there aren't any green eyes looking out the windows when he arrives. Meantime started biting my nails.

Monday 25 May 2009

My flat-mates.

My two pussies - whom I love to bits.

Sunday 10 May 2009

Film 'Religulous' - what a hoot!

I was aware of the many criticisms of this film before finally catching up with it yesterday - "cheap pot-shots at easy targets"; "puerile subtitling of interviewees' unintentional mistakes"; "mischievous and misleading editing": "not as incisive as Michael Moore's best work" etc etc. - but, hell, I really enjoyed it - a lot! Even though Bill Maher isn't anywhere near as well-known in the U.K. as he is in the States and I only vaguely knew the name myself, I soon warmed to his sharply direct way of questioning and his evident prior research into the subject of religion, both generally and in particular. It was virtually always a case of "give the interviewee enough rope and he'll hang himself". ('She' in a few cases.) Particularly funny is the way in which 'believers' very soon become indignant that anyone could dare to challenge their faiths. I can identify with that, having been one myself for longer than I'm proud of. Of course its major audience will be religious sceptics like myself. That's a pity because it does deserve much wider play. The other members of the disappointingly small cinema audience seemed to find it every bit as hilarious as I did, though also, at turns, despairing at the fact that such high proportions of otherwise seemingly sensible people can hold as true such frankly batty ideas. All in all, a 'comfort' film for the likes of 'us' but also absolutely recommended.

Thursday 7 May 2009

Tightening the belt - figuratively this time

Had a fit of spending insanity over the last few days, buying things I really can't afford - 2 pairs 'quality' jeans; boxed CD sets of complete symphonies of Sibelius and Vaughan Williams + the Rachmaninov piano concertos; volumes of sheet piano music of Mancini, Bacharach, Frank Loesser, plus other bits and bobs. All in all, although I like everything purchased, this self-indulgence has been very unwise in terms of my limited financial means. Don't quite know what brought it about. Part of it must be my brooding on one's mortality. I can't have that many years left - one of my brothers died just 6 months ago and he was elder by only 2 years. So maybe this splurge was just to cram everything in while I still have the chance. Nevertheless this nonsense has to stop, otherwise I'll be advancing my own demise through worry.

Saturday 2 May 2009

Slender progress

Still happy at the way my waist is reducing, though the closer it gets to the desired goal the harder it is finally to get over the finishing line. But now when sneaking a look at my reflection in passing store windows (as one does) there is hardly any bulge at all to be seen. It's only when on getting back home I drop my jeans in front of a mirror (as one does) there is still a discernible bulge at the belt level. But the achievement so far is certainly satisfactory. There's one oddity worth mentioning - Having reduced food intake quite significantly, the consequent feeling of hunger (which is, of course, never particularly pleasant) is now accompanied by a positive mental 'buzz' at the state of being hungry. The latter never overrides the former, it's more a sort of parallel feeling which I don't recall having had before. Just wondering if this is the same emotion that anorexics experience - though I don't seriously think there's the slightest chance of my going in that direction, certainly not at my age.

Friday 1 May 2009

Maybe life begins here - (again?)

Just joined a gay website which has the emphasis on older bears with the possibility of actually meeting up with one. It's the first time I've done this and must confess I'm a tad apprehensive about my details being up there 'in the ether' for the ostensible purpose of 'dating'. (There are already half-a-dozen gay sites I visit daily just to view, of course.) Bit early to think whether I ought to drop something into my back pocket for a 'just in case' scenario, but who knows what may happen? So watch this space.

Tuesday 28 April 2009

Standing up to difficulties

Bought my first ever 'V' today, my doctor's requisition for which I placed between the other prescription requests. But it was bound to stand out(!) as all my other medication is free (thanks to this country's National Health system - hurrah!) whereas 'V', being non-essential, I have to pay for. The need is occasioned by my blood-pressure medication leaving me somewhat, erm, 'wanting' in a certain department. Was hoping that there'd be no one in the chemist (pharmacy/drugstore) when I went in. There wasn't - but as I waited for my prescription to be prepared no less than four other customers entered. Then the chemist himself came out - He said to me "On the 'private' matter, have you used these tablets before, Mr C.?" Responding negatively he proceeded to tell me, in front of all the others, the same advice my doctor had just told me, while I squirmed and turned just slightly (I hope) red. But the mini-lecture came to an end and I exited heaving a sigh of relief. Won't try the first one out just yet - I don't have the need to as there's certainly no particular person in mind to be the object of my attentions. But at least I've got the hardest(!) part over with. (Maybe I'll regret posting this blog, but what the hell, I'm slightly pissed and I can delete it later anyeay.)

Saturday 25 April 2009

Back with my much-missed little furball friends.

Returned from very successful 'away' yesterday. But now I'm really happy again with my two feline chums - one at my feet at the moment looking up at my face, the other sleeping contentedly after the excitement of the last few days in the cattery. When bringing him back yesterday he was so overjoyed he started rolling over in his carry-cage, purring loudly, despite the swerves and halts and starts of the taxi. When back in the flat he was initially disorientated until he'd explored around, checking that everything was in its rightful place. Then last night he slept with me in my bed again - so all is well and he's forgiven my 'betrayal'. The other pussy apparently had a rather more upsetting time. My neighbour says she was on the window sill as I'd feared, pawing at the window and crying loudly - and eating very little despite food being put out regularly. When I arrived she was actually still right there waiting outside the window. But after letting her in she was also quick to forgive me for the trauma and last night slept beside my bed on the carpet. While away they were both constantly on my mind so it's such a relief to be back with my little 'children' again. Barring any emergency, could be the last time I go away again this year at least. Now we can all purr together.

Sunday 19 April 2009

Tough few days ahead - no pussy.

Five hours ago I delivered my beloved tomcat flatmate to cattery for a few days stay while I go off tomorrow to visit my sis. Although this is the third time he's been there (previous time was a year ago) I feel as low and mean as anything - it's like a weight being carried round in my stomach. Missing him terribly already and feel that he thinks that in spite of all the affection he gives me I've still betrayed him. To make it worse, he spends all of every night sleeping inside this flat even though, in this milder weather, I leave a window open for him to come and go as he wishes. Every couple of weeks or so he changes his sleeping location as though he wants a change of scenery and, just a couple of nights ago, he re-started sleeping with me in my bed. So tonight is not going to be easy (sob sob!). But that's only the half of it. I've also got a tabby whom I'm going to have to lock out when I leave in the morning. (No, it's too complicated to explain.) She' s going to be fed out in the back garden by my kindly downstairs neighbour but will have to sleep somewhere alfresco for the whole time I'm away, probably under a hedge or something. But I know that when I go she'll be at the back mewing pitifully and pawing frantically at the kitchen window to be let in (sob double-sob!). I know this will happen because she did this when she ran away from her own home, five houses down the road from here, and insisted on living with me. (Both her former owner and I tried to get her to go back but she only wanted me as 'daddy' so we both gave in to her intransigence even though I'm not supposed to have any pets at all in this rented flat.) But I'm already counting down to my seeing them both again by doing the mental exercise - "My return is only so long in the future as such-and-such happened in the past." It's a dead cert that I'll be updating that exercise every few hours at least until we're all together again; meantime it's a case of having to endure the bitter pangs of separation.

Friday 17 April 2009

Criticising religion? What cheek! (I jest, of course.)

After reading this morning Wonderboy's blog (Idle Eyes and a Dormy) on same-sex marriage I also saw an item which is not a million miles away from the subject. It seems that there has been, up to now, over 100 complaints about an episode of 'Coronation Street', this country's most-watched TV soap, in which one of its oldest and most stalwart characters criticises his son for allowing the grandson to be 'indoctrinated' by religion in a school which also teaches Creationism. This same character goes on to refer to God as a 'supernatural being' and, horror of horrors, faith as 'superstition'! The sheer audacity of it! But not to worry, the Broadcasting Standards Authority is going to consider the complaints. (Consider? What is there to consider? Just tell the complainants to "EFF OFF!") By the way, I ought to point out that the programme is fiction, for goodness' sake, although some of us may prefer that it wasn't. This is precisely the same myopic mindset that brought about the 'Satanic Verses' furore/fiasco.
Richard Dawkins argues, why do we allow religionists the prerogative of being allowed to complain that their feelings have been offended when we don't allow the same unique privilege for any other facet of life? If members of a political party said that certain remarks aimed at their views were 'hurtful' they would, quite reasonably, be the object of derision. My observation also informs me that more often than not such persons who maintain their right not to be offended are also those who mock so-called 'political correctness'. Of course we hear about the cases where the latter has been taken to extremes but I think that in many such circumstances the heart is usually in the right place viz. not wishing to hurt people by abuse aimed at what they are, which cannot be changed (even if it was wished) rather than the opinions they hold, which at least can be argued about. But what is 'belief' but opinion? So why the special "you're not allowed to offend me" treatment? With religion it goes even further. It's selective. Included are only the three Abrahamic religions plus Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism (There may be a couple more - though what I know about Buddhism in particular is that in the West at least they take little notice of being criticised. Would that the others were so mature.) But I would defy the others to defend Paganism, Animism. Humanism and other polytheist or atheist beliefs with the same zeal that they moan about their own 'persecution'. Oh well, I'd better stop now before my blood pressure hits the ceiling.

Still wa(i)sting away. Hallelujah!

Just a week and a half ago I was bemoaning the fact that I couldn't get into some army pants I was wearing regularly only last Summer. Well, rejoice! I've got them on right now! Admittedly it's a tight fit but 11 days ago couldn't even envisage getting anywhere near doing up the waist, so if progress continues they should be comfy to wear again soonish. Phew, it's certainly been worth the effort! But recently I started getting a new feeling - a 'buzz' from feeling hungry. This is uncharted territory for me, something totally different. I wonder if this is what anorexics experience. I don't think for a moment that I'll succumb to this condition, certainly not at my age, but it is helping to avoid eating anything my body doesn't really need.
My regime - Breakfast is either a bowl of cereal or a small sandwich. Lunch - a small sandwich with a cup of soup. Dinner - a 'proper' meal, but about 2/3 of size that I'd have had before + for dessert a small yoghurt or piece of fruit, usually an apple or banana. Add to that a mug of (decaff) tea first thing in the morning and 3 mugs of coffee in the rest of the morning/early afternoon + about 2 litres water throughout the day and voila! = my total intake. Seems to be working - and well, too. Now seeing just seeing the result is giving me another buzz. Happy, happy, happy!

Wednesday 15 April 2009

re Mel Gibson and his religion- just a thought.

Reading about the possible financial consequences to poor(!) Mel Gibson on his impending divorce I am actually wondering about another aspect of the split. Being the rabidly devout Roman Catholic that he is, one who apparently considers the last few Popes since John XXIII to have been 'too liberal', I assume that he will in no circumstances re-marry while his ex-wife is still alive. My understanding is that divorce in his Church (also formerly my own) may be permitted in particular circumstances as long as the Roman Catholic party or parties do not re-marry before the former spouse is deceased. (I remember Jackie Kennedy being openly condemned by the Vatican as a 'public sinner' because she married the divorced Aristotle Onassis while his former wife, Maria Callas, was still alive.) Of course I don't wish to prejudge the man as he may well adhere to the inviolable tenets of his Church and remain celibate but I shall be watching his romantic attachments with more than a little interest.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Remembrance of things past

Just looking for a 'decent'(!) pic of myself to post here, I found this golden oldie taken in Amsterdam in (okay, okay) 1985. Time was when I had looks which some, at least, thought worth exhibiting. Ah, plus ca change!

Monday 6 April 2009

What a bummer!

To go out this p.m. decided to wear some green army pants which I don't think I've worn since last Summer. Could I get it fastened? Could I hell! Not even close. So with time getting on thought I'd better put on a pair of combats instead. Same outcome. So disheartening. After weeks of going hungry every day, re-starting occasional morning runs, my waist is still nowhere near what it was just a few months ago. Must have really let myself go during the Winter. Why doesn't the extra fat get distributed all over instead of all going to the belly? (Everyone's asking that question, I know.) Looks like my intention to submit an entry to Mr Bristles' Undie Monday will have to remain just that for longer than I'd hoped. Oh well. But got to keep going. (Boo hoo!)

Sunday 5 April 2009

Who accused me of being a bitch? I did actually.

I'm not an advocate of astrology. How could it be when I've had a passion for AstroNOMy since a kid? They are mutually exclusive and incompatible pursuits. But somewhere tucked in the memory is my reading that Librans are supposed to be the ones who find it most difficult to forgive others when crossed. That certainly is true of me. Wish I didn't bear grudges but the fact is I store them up, leaving them to fester for maybe a liftime long, and I fantasize about how I'd get my revenge. One frequent such flight of imagination is that I win the top prize in the National Lottery - say at least £4,000,000 - or even several times that figure in the weekly European Lottery which I also enter. It goes without question that I'd be as generous as I reasonably could to my surviving family members and the few friends I have. But most people would do that anyway so it's nothing special . No, the 'fun' would be had in trying to trace those past affairs which both myself and the other party would prefer to forget. But with me, forgetting is not an option. With maybe a few of them I would, in fact, offer them a fair sum of money - just enough to embarrass them but simultaneously to make them think how magnanimous I was. (I'd say to them "Well, you'd only be doing the same for me." while knowing full well that they wouldn't.) But there are at least two guys from my past whom I'd want to make certain knew that I was in the money and that I was giving out part of it only to those I considered 'deserving' of something - and to make sure that they were aware that they were losing out because of their previous conduct towards me. Oh, that delicious feeling when I would see their faces! I'd really like to tell them personally and watch their expressions fall. If they felt like lashing out at me (which I hope they would) I'd be protected by the bodyguards I could afford to employ. Then I'd go back to my fortified luxury mansion and laugh myself silly into my G&T. Aren't I THE prize bitch? Ooooh, scratch yer eyes out!

Saturday 4 April 2009


Feeling upbeat today - helped by it being sunny and quite warm, which is hopefully a portent of the coming Summer, so variable in this country. Also by my really being drawn into the Proust, much more so than last time - some of the images are just astonishing, jumping over the translation barrier with ease. Then there's the presence of my two cats, lying in the sun and soaking it up as only cats can do. Shortly I'll be doing my main meal for today (in fact the only one) - a purchased-as-ready mushroom & veg. stir fry - being almost the height of labour-intensivity as I ever get to be in the kitchen. Mmmmmmm! (To be candid, felt I owed the Blog this happier entry to balance the rather negative one of yesterday. But it's still honest.)

Friday 3 April 2009

Vatican appoints anti-gay Archbishop to lead England's Catholics.- What a surprise!

But they could hardly do otherwise since any member of the Catholic clergy who expresses even mildly pro-gay sentiments can be certain that his future promotion chances will have vanished. Archbishop Nichols, currently Archbishop of Birmingham, has today been appointed Archbishop of Westminster, the most senior position of the Catholic Church in England. No doubt his credentials in sternly and vociferously opposing civil unions, gay adoption, repeal of gay discriminatory legislation as well as defending the teaching in schools of homosexuality as 'sinful' and telling our Members of Parliament that measures proposed to combat homophobic bullying are unnecessary, all of which would be music to the ears of our 'Beloved' Hol(e)y Father, Pope BeneDICKt . Why should I care? Well, the last 10 years or so has seen in this country a gradual but distinct marginalisation of homophobia, particularly in institutions and public bodies whereas up to then homophobia had been definitely mainstream. Of course anti-gay feelings still exist both in society and certain media organisations (e.g. in Rupert Murdoch's press), but it does seem to me that in this country the tide has turned, and not before time. But the Churches, particularly the conservative strand (majority?) of the Anglican Church, as well as the entire Roman Catholic Church, still hold firmly to their bigotry, which just postpones the inevitable complete marginalisation of homophobia. I won't be satisfied until such prejudices are, if not entirely expunged, then at least reduced to a small gang of 'crankies'. Progress is slow, but it's getting there - though moves like this appointment, further evidence that the Catholic Church is irrelevant, still have the capacity to fill me with despair.

Thursday 2 April 2009

Proust et toast au fromage.

Embarked on a re-read of 'A la Recherche......' (in English translation, alas) which I'll do at the rate of one book per month. It's only 5 years since I first read all 7 books but, somewhat morbidly, I'm more and more aware of wanting to do things before my number is called, and a second read of this is high on the list - and a third, or even more, if granted the time. But it is a remarkable work and the language, even second-hand, deserves to be savoured - every bit as much as when he tasted his madeleine dissolved in tea, even if the result isn't quite as spectacular. So, 50 pages down - and 3,000 to go.
Now I'm off to 'cook' my main meal of the day - cheese toast. (Oh, this pesky dietting!)

Tuesday 31 March 2009

Tummy progress - and a hairy matter.

Waist reduction continuing - but still imperciptibly slow. Only know it's happening at all because this morning got another belt-hole to bite the dust. Determined to get to the stage of being able to contribute to Mr Bristles' 'Undie Monday' - perhaps even as early as Easter Monday. Thought I'd decided which undies to wear but when tried them on in front of a mirror it looked grotesque - there's still a conspicuous 'spare tyre' starting upwards from half-way between bush and belly-button. (Note - no shaver, I! - Hair rules OK!) But we'll get there. I've got the incentive.
Talking about hair, but this time on top, my tonsure carries on expanding - but it's been doing so for about 30 years. Don't really think I'll lose it all - I'm repeating the pattern my Dad had, and he never lost everything - and his also retained it's dark colour to the end (aged 69) like mine is doing, in spite of the beard going salt-and-pepper. But the bald crown must make me look from the back like a monk in mufti. Saw the film 'Duplicity' (Julia Roberts) a few days ago which featured an attempt to steal a much-prized formula for curing baldness. Oh, if only! But not in my lifetime, I fear.

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Satisfying day.

Took my little black pussy to get a jab this morning - an annual event. Nothing wrong with him. Just a booster. He was a little sweetie, just tensing up at the key moment rather than trying to escape - just how I'd try to be if I was having a prick (I should be so lucky!)
In town today had a sneak sideways peak at myself in a shop window reflection (which we all do, don't we?). Pleasantly surprised to no longer look 8 months pregnant - perhaps just 4 or 5 months. Now when I'm more concerned about what undies to wear for Mr Bristles' 'Undie Monday' than showing any significant paunch, I'll have arrived. We're getting there. Such a shame that all these weeks of hard work can be undone just by a day or two's over-indulgence.

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Mystery continues.

Well my doom-laden prognosis hasn't (yet?) come to pass, but this odd smell from 'inside' is still here - and it's very strong. What on earth can it be? Don't recall having experienced it before. For the moment I'm putting it down to my B.P. medication - a week ago my doctor doubled the strength of one of the daily tablets I take (he's been messing around with various doseages and combinations for 9 years now in a, so far, vain attempt to find the magic formula that'll bring it under control) But this odd feeling began quite suddenly just the day before yesterday. Perhaps it took a few days for the effect to 'kick in'. If it's not that, just can't think what's causing it. Not due to see the doctor again until mid-April. Rather troubling, though trying not to be obsessively preoccupied with it.

Monday 16 March 2009

Morbid musings.

Yesterday got the strangest feeling. A 'smell' within, not originating from outside or emanating from another part of my body (thank heavens!) but 'inside the nose'. At first I didn't know why I put a morbid interpretation on it, namely that it was somehow a premonition of my imminent demise. I have no particular reason to think I'm about to keel over - my health is good, very good for my age, in fact. But the thought was there throughout the night. Even had the idea that I may not wake up this morning. My greatest concern at present is not in actually dying but, as I probably wouldn't be missed for at least a couple of weeks, making sure that the back window is open so my cats can get out. Then this morning I realised that what might have brought these morbid thoughts about is the books I'm currently reading - 'The Tibetan Book of the Dead', which I'm reading in slow piecemeal fashon at about one page per day - and also Sebastian Faulks' excellent 'The Fatal Englishman' - a one volume biography of, actually, 3 semi-famous men who died relatively young earlier last century, 2 of them gay who were, incidentally, also the 2 of them who committed suicide. Not that I have suicidal thoughts myself - never have, apart from the fleeting notion that surely everyone now and then gets, but it's never been serious. So that's probably the reason for thoughts running along those lines. But nevertheless the strange internal 'smell' is still here even now - together with a vaguely-defined but oddly real sense of unease and foreboding. Going out this afternoon to the cinema. Must take special care when crossing the road!

Sunday 15 March 2009

World news that makes me despair.

Every so often (quite frequently actually) an item in the world news hits me like a blow to the stomach - and the pain lingers there. This week I've experienced a double-whammy.
In Nigeria the unfolding saga of the attempt, which will almost certainly succeed, to make gay marriage illegal makes me want to give up all hope in humanity. A 'marriage' will be defined as two gays living together whether or not they've undergone a ceremony. This on top of the fact that gay sex in any circumstances is already a criminal offence, but the new measure will allow the police and authorities to take further action where there is even just suspicion of a relationship. To see children wearing T-shirts bearing the slogans "Gay Marriage is Unnatural / Un-African / an abomination" makes me just want to weep! I've unbounded admiration and respect, but also great fear, for those few very brave Nigerian activists in their own country who are speaking out against the proposal. It comes as no surprise that the Catholic Church vociferously supports the measure.
And then a couple of days ago on one of our news channels here in the UK (Channel 4) a report came from Cape Town, already 'honoured' with the title of the 'Rape Capital of the World', where now any woman known or just thought to be Lesbian is targetted for rape, often gang-rape, as a 'corrective' measure. A man was interviewed who thought it was justifiable to 'remind' these women of the bodies 'God' had given them. I've been seething inside ever since I saw the report and I only hope rationality and reason will dawn on these people before anyone else is hurt. But I somehow doubt it.
But on a more pleasing final note, I only read this morning of the breaking off of the engagement of Sarah Palin's unmarried daughter/mother. Of course it's not the latter's situation that one takes any schadenfreude from (that would be perverse!) but what a calamity for the 'traditional values' family matriarch! Oh, what an embarrassment! - my heart positively bleeds for her. But could this be the instrument for a Damascene conversion? I'm not holding my breath.

Friday 13 March 2009

Kitchen thoughts.

Wish I had an interest in cooking, but it's such a huge bore! Never seen the point of slaving over a stove for even half an hour, let alone an hour or, possibly, several hours, when the end product takes just a few minutes to consume. Why bother, especially when one lives alone? I doubt if the attitude would change if I actually lived with a guy (which I never have). So the most I 'cook' is the weekly omelette or boiled/fried/poached/scrambled eggs - apart from that, if it's not boiling vegetables, it's a case of warming up prepared food from packets and tins. Sad life? Not really. Despite how it sounds I do make a point of eating healthily. But rather than cooking, much prefer to be using the time to read or going to the cinema or playing my keyboard - so many things that are nowhere near as dull as damn cooking!

Wednesday 11 March 2009

'The Waist Land' (again!)

Couple of years ago, after I'd admired some pics an Aussie pen-pal had sent me of beautiful-bodied Aussie labourers working under the hot sun wearing nothing but brief khaki shorts, he sent me as a birthday gift several pairs of these same 'worker' shorts, partly to tantalise me but also to wear. But seeing guys at my sort of age wearing too-short shorts I find such a turn-off that there's no way I would wear them outside - you need a good body to carry it off as well as being no more than middle-aged. However, not wanting to waste them I've taken to wearing them under the jogging bottoms I wear in my flat outside warm-weather season. When I first got them I could do up the shorts' button-fastening-waist (size 34") but then last year I found my waist had expanded so as to make it impossible. But this morning I found that once again I could fasten it again. Small thing, perhaps, but it's a real sign that my hardship diet is working. I dare even say that in the mirror, although there's some way to go yet, there's certainly some progress. So feeling a bit pleased with myself, though the foot will have to remain on the accelerator for some time yet. Who knows, before too long I might even be sending Mr Bristles (Breenlantern) a pic of my lower regions in undies!