Contessa

May 14, 2008

When booking something online the other day, I was asked to select my title from the above list. And what a fabulous selection it contains. (And how curiously British.) There are a few oddities in it – doctors can have either male or female partners, but vicars have to have female ones – so I guess lesbian priests are OK, but straight female ones or gay male ones aren’t. A professor can’t have a male partner unless that partner is a doctor, while military folk have to stay resolutely single.

After careful study of the list, I choose ‘Contessa’, naturally.

Bunting is back, people. We saw some fabulous mixed-fabric examples on the art trail in Brighton, leading me to predict that all the well-dressed parties will be sporting jaunty triangles this season. 

Best of the bunch is the ‘Bad Bunting’ from the ever-brilliant Twisted Twee (in the ‘Grown Up’ section). Your event can now boast one of the following mottos: “Life aint no party”, “It will end in tears” and my personal favourite “Don’t feel obliged to stay”. The makers claim this is “guaranteed to put a dampener on any occasion.” And who could ask for more than that?

While in Brighton, we went and had a look at a couple of the Artists Open Houses. Basically, during May you can pop into various homes belonging to artists or their friends, and look at their art, as well as having a good old snoop at their interior decorating. It’s very Brighton and rather nice.

After much deliberating in someone’s front room, we eventually bought the Nigel Peake work shown here. (Picture by Steven, hand model yours truly.)

It’s got lots of interesting words in it, like “The alien and dog know best” and “The tremendous neon fails tonight” (though it’s actually hard to tell which words go with which, so I might be picking out phrases more exotic than originally intended). And the words make interesting shapes and textures too.

We like.

Last weekend, I was browsing in our local children’s bookshop and picked up a copy of a new book called ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go’.

“The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk,” it begins, “is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say.” 

That was enough to make me carry on through the first chapter. Which was enough to make me buy the book and spend the next week reading it. It’s a story about a world where people (and animals) can hear each others’ thoughts, and it’s just what a book for 12-year-olds should be – exciting, unpredictable, eloquent, awkward, moving and occasionally funny.

By Wednesday, I got round to Googling the author, Patrick Ness. I discovered from his blog that he too was gay and in a civil partnership and liked Scrubs and cookies and stupid statistics about his iTunes collection. OK, time to close down the browser before crossing over into the realms of cyber-stalking. But not before discovering one final fact – that he was speaking at an event in Brighton on the Friday entitled ‘So You Want to Write for Children?’ Well, yes I do and he seemed like the guy to tell me how, and I do like a sunny weekend in Brighton, and why stop at cyber-stalking when you can actually stalk the guy in the flesh?

And so two days later, Steven and I boarded the train from Victoria. (Thanks to Steven for the picture of me finishing the final chapters on the journey.) At the other end, I had to run to the theatre to get there on time, arriving hot and sweaty and looking slightly deranged. It was a good event, both authors read from their books, and they and their publisher gave some interesting answers to all sorts of questions. Afterwards came the signing bit, at which point I’m afraid that I completely lost the Wordage poise and turned into stumbling fanboy, babbling incoherently about how much I liked the book.

Thankfully, the incident ended without any restraining orders being issued, and Steven and I could get on with enjoying the traditional pursuits of a Brighton weekend – catching up with friends, window-shopping, paddling in the sea and touring trashy gay bars.

Back in London, I checked Patrick’s website again (Stalker? Moi?), half-worried that there might be some allusion to the fawning idiot who’d cornered him.  Brighton was fun, he reported. And, to my relief, he added that the audience contained “no apparent crazies”.

Thanks, Patrick. You’re too kind.