January 4, 2011

Sad about Pete Postlethwaite. Always good to see a haggard British actor stealing a scene from a bunch of plastic Hollywood faces.

We saw him once, me and Steven, in a Shropshire country pub. It was a Sunday lunchtime and he was propping up the bar looking like a permanent fixture. Which he probably was.

We’d just been for a walk in the hills and had worked up a bit of an appetite, so we ordered that hearty British dish braised faggots in gravy.

We made ourselves comfortable at a table by the window. Eventually a woman appeared bearing a couple of plates.

“TWO FAGGOTS,” she bellowed and looked around the room with a questioning air.

There was a slight pause before we gingerly raised our hands.


Please stick around

October 17, 2010

Joel Burns is the son of a Texas cowboy. He’s also a city councillor in Fort Worth. And faced with a spate of teen gay suicides, he used a council session to give an emotional speech addressed directly to troubled teens:

“I know that life can seem unbearable. I know people in your household or in your school may not understand you and that they may even physically harm you. But I want you to know that it gets better…”

He then talks a bit about his own experiences of being bullied for being different, concluding:

“Yes, high school was difficult. Coming out was painful. But life got so much better for me. And I want to tell any teen who might see this: give yourself a chance to see how much better life will get.”

He goes on to talk about some of the good things that happened to him – including proposing to his husband in a field of cows under a Texan sunset. Which leads him to make a heartfelt plea:

“To those that are feeling very alone tonight, please know that I understand how you feel. But things will get easier. Please stick around to make those happy memories for yourself.”

Do watch the video. It’s much more effective hearing him speak the words. And not just because of the Texan accent.


August 14, 2010

Friday night is ready-meal night. (Unless we’re feeling really rock and roll, of course, in which case it’s take-away night.) So last night, I picked up a rather splendid looking moussaka from the M&S Gastropub (TM) range. (Love that name – it promises the feeling of going out and rubbing shoulders with real people without all the inconvenience of actually doing it. After all, the idea of other people is often so much more pleasant than the reality.)

I followed the simple instructions. “Pre-heat oven.” There was a panel with the correct temperatures underneath, so I duly turned the dial to to 200C, and forgot all about it for a while as me and Steven caught up on the day’s events.

The little orange light on the oven clicked off, and I dutifully read the next instalment. “Remove sleeve and film.” Twas but the work of a moment. I turned to the last item on the list.

“Place on a pre-heated baking tray.” AAAARRRRRGGGHHHHH!!! Now you tell me. The stone-cold baking tray sat in front of me accusingly.

Dear Gastropublicans – instructions in chronological order, please.

Amiable uncle or aunt

July 22, 2010

Stephen Fry in a video ramble on ‘What I wish I’d known when I was 18’:

“I suppose the thing I’d most like to have known or be reassured about is that in the world what counts more than talent, what counts more than energy or concentration or commitment or anything else is kindness. And the more in the world you encounter kindness and cheerfulness, which is its kind of amiable uncle or aunt, just the better the world always is. And all the big words – virtue, justice, truth – are dwarfed by the greatness of kindness.”

(via the always worthwhile Frank Chimero)


May 23, 2010

Jarvis Cocker, Pulp frontman and ‘National Treasure’ according to the scrolling display of my digital radio during his BBC 6music show, is this week’s subject of The Observer’s always worthwhile This Much I Know column.

“The muddling through life is the exciting bit of it,” he informs us. How very true. And what a splendid word to describe it. (A word I’m also rather fond of in the context of what you do to mint to make a Mojito.)

Jarvis also tells us his greatest talent: “to sing and move my hands at the same time. It’s not something I’ve thought through; it’s not that I’m trying to do signing. But it’s nice – you can move your hands and shape the words. Shirley Bassey’s very good at it.”

It’s so true. From the wild hand movements of his youth, movements that dragged his whole body across the stage, to the gentler gesticulations of later years, the hands added a whole dimension to his performance. One that seemed to involve absolutely no muddling whatsoever.

A scaring sentence

May 23, 2010

Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, two men in Malawi who had an unofficial marriage ceremony, have been convicted to 14 years in prison for gay sex. The judge said it was a “a scaring sentence, so that the public be protected from people like you; so that we are not tempted to emulate this horrendous example.” Scaring indeed.

It’s easy for those of us in the UK (and other Western countries), with all the advances in gay rights over the last 40 years, to forget how bad things can still be elsewhere. But before we get too judgemental, it turns out that the law under which they were convicted was introduced under British rule.

Let’s just hope that what’s happened since then over here will happen over there.

“Everyone thinks that Beethoven had his string quartets completely in his head – they somehow formed in his head – and all he had to do was write them down, and they would kind of be manifest to the world. But what I think is so interesting, and what would really be a lesson that everybody should learn, is that things come out of nothing. Things evolve out of nothing. You know, that the tiniest seed in the right situation turns into the most beautiful forest. And then the most promising seed in the wrong situation turns into nothing. And I think this would be important for people to understand, because it gives people confidence in their own lives that that’s how things work.

If you walk around with the idea that there are some people who are so gifted – they have these wonderful things in their head but you’re not one of them, you’re just a normal sort of person, you could never do anything like that – then you live a different kind of life. You could have another kind of like, where you say, well, I know that things come from nothing very much and start from unpromising beginnings. And I’m an unpromising beginning, and I could start something.”

– Brian Eno, via Magical Nihilism

Debut the bacchanal

April 17, 2010

On Tuesday, the glad tidings flew round the interwebz – the Scissor Sisters have returned once more to spread their gospel of joy and love among the human race. Their website is currently bestowing upon us the gift of a play-as-much-as-you-like (and we like) new track ‘Invisible Light’, guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a tap in your toe. And to top it all off, there’s a fabulous thriller-slash-two-tribes-esque monologue – could that really be the voice of Gay Knight Ian McKellen? By Wednesday, the suspicion had been confirmed, it was indeed Sir Ian (or Serena as he is apparently known to his thespian chums).

“Painted whores, sexual gladiators, fiercely old party children all wake from their slumber to debut the bacchanal,” intones the voice of Gandalf and Magneto. “Come to the light, into the light, the invisible light.”

Sing it, Sisters!

I actually found Ricky Martin’s coming out article quite moving. Despite going over the top here and there (“…the blood that runs through the streets of countries at war” took me a bit by surprise), the things he talks about are familiar to many of us. The years of keeping a secret (“Many people told me: ‘Ricky, it’s not important'”). The journey to self-belief (“acceptance has to come from within”). The decision to tell everyone (“Enough is enough. This has to change”). The strength (“But fear of my truth? Not at all”) and joy (“The word happiness takes on a new meaning for me as of today”) that flow from that decision – and flow right through his words. And in his case, there’s the extra motive of doing it for his “two beautiful boys that are so full of light and who with their outlook teach me new things each day”.

“I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man,” he concludes. “I am very blessed to be who I am.”

And you can’t argue with that.

The thing about Prague

March 25, 2010

“The thing about Prague is it’s where Satan came out of the ground.”

So says Fred, demonologist (quite a title) on Most Haunted Live: Gothic Prague – The Evil Within (also quite a title).

Just a run of the mill comment on a show which is Blair Witch meets reality TV with scrolling text messages from the nation’s viewers thrown in. (Louise in Woking’s lights dimmed when something happened on screen. Spooky.)