Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bah Christmas!

Like the Dr. Who special, Christmas this year didn't really live up to its promise!

I've had a real bugger of a cold. Which has persevered... I spent Christmas Day in bed, and ate only a little bit of cheese (well I was in France) and a few chilli-chocolates, left over from Christmas eve.

On the whole, Xfe didn't connect with the presents that I gave him, which felt especially bad because in contrast he had put so much thought into his :(

Now it seems he has picked up my cold, and is sleeping in bed.

Well, I guess normal service will be resumed soon...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mistletoe & Wine

Sorry I've been intermittent with my postings. I feel spread all over the place lately.

Last weekend I was out of town:

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Monday night I had a rehearsal. Tuesday I was working in the office until past 10pm. Wednesday I did the pro bono legal clinic that I mentioned here. Thursday night I was working late, again, then managed to hit the west end for some shopping. On Friday I flew to Scotland, to help my parents put up their Christmas decorations.

Last night it was back to rehearsal (I thought that Paul In London bloke was from down under, though tonight I think he might be American). I guess it's fitting that I feel about 80% ready, having attended some 71% of rehearsals. That means I'm pretty good. If I'd managed all of them I'd be 115% ready.

And how that show is long. I felt somewhere else less than half-way into the second act. Someone needs to cut. Cut, and cut.

Here's the itinerary for the next couple of weeks:

Today, Tuesday - lunchtime reception at the House of Commons; Xfe home in the evening. Buy Christmas tree and decorate pm.

Wednesday pm - last rehearsal.

Thursday - it's Sunset Boulevard at the Comedy Theatre. Can't wait. I saw the original first with LuPone, and later with the potato actress, first Lady of the London stage.

Friday afternoon is the tech, with the first performance at Cadogan Hall. So I've had to take the day off work, which means...Christmas starts for me on Thursday. Yay!

Thus, Friday means this kind of thing:



Saturday afternoon - more of the same thing. I'm not doing Saturday night-we're off to Sadler's Wells to see Edward Scissorhands. It is so good and so Christmas. Besides see ab(ove)r long.

Sunday we are doing a traditional Christmas dinner chez nous for 7 of us and 2 children (the first children to come to our flat). With all the trimmings.

On Monday we leave for Annecy. Beautiful home of Xfe (and this guy - oh wait, that is mon C), in the Alps, only 40 mins from Geneva. Then it will be Christmas, with snails and all...

We come back on Friday pm.

That Saturday it's off to the Menier for dinner and A Little Night Music (Sondheim is so much work).

Sunday afternoon and we're back to Sadler's Wells. Don't tell Xfe yet. I'm hoping he will so fall in love with Edward Scissorhands that he would like to see it from another angle. Let's hope they do the winter rain curtain thing again.

Then on Monday before New Year we are off to the Royal Court for Wig Out. Yet another drag.

Tuesday 30th takes us to Newcastle to visit my brother for New Year. We travel back to London on the 1st because the next day mon C leaves for China.

That weekend I hope to catch some zzzzzzzzzzzs.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Announcement

If you have persevered, I have a friend who has dipped into celebrity. But basically, despite his natural gifts (scroll down to his pic in the link to that last post), he is lacking confidence and self-esteem.

He has been playing around. Well, fucking around. Well, FUCKING around.

We talk a lot about "what's the problem".

When I suggested he should write it down, he suggested that maybe we could blog it. So that he could have a diary to think over.

I had to be honest and admit that I had enough on my hands. But I suggested he could email me and I might post it on the vanilla site.

In which case, watch that space.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Non-Stop

I'm off to T5 once again tomorrow. It's Christmas-with-the-parents weekend. We spent last Christmas with my parents, so this Chrismas we're back in Annecy at the beaux-parents. I can't believe that it was 2 years ago when peoples of the world were stranded at Heathrow because of the fog. Remember that?

I had two freaky experiences in Israel last weekend.

The first was when we woke up in the morning to discover someone had been standing (perhaps for some time) outside our room, doing something...

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See, no other prints. Like they came and went from nowhere.

The other was seeing this window display in Daliyat Al-Karmel. I mean, it's just not right on so many levels. Fashion at the least.

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Take a closer look, and see what I mean?

Auton children?

More Auton Childrenhttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d3/Villageofthedamned1960.jpg

It's not natural. Village of the Damned, Midwich Cuckoos...

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/79/Spearheadfromspace.jpg

Auton Invasion, Barry Norman anyone?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Thursday Night, Friday Morning

This was the scene on Thursday evening, when I left the office to go to the airport.



And this was the scene on Friday morning, in Tel Aviv...

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On Saturday we headed off to the Druze village of Daliyat Al-Karmel, via Mount Carmel.

Druze

The Druze are a small middle eastern ethnic group spread out between Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. There are around 200,000 in Israel, and some two million globally. They're distinguishable from Arabs, despite a common tongue, by their religion, which split from Islam a thousand years ago.

They get along well with the Israelis, because their religion compels them to support whatever country they live in. Therefore Druze serve in the IDF and are highly regarded for their military prowess. They're considered the fiercest of Israel's soldiers, largely on account of their attitude towards death. They not only believe in reincarnation, but that they return to the earth as Druze.

The Druze religion is mainly kept secret from outsiders. There is a holy book compiled by their prophets, off-limits to non-Druze.

Our friends had promised us typical Druze fare. I imagined sitting in on Persian-style rugs in an incense heavy dining room. Instead, we sat under an oak tree and ate some of the most delicious simple food I've eaten. The stuffed vine leaves were especially delicious, and I've never, ever tasted such fragrant olives, gathered from the trees around us.

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No health and hygene police here!

From one fairly obscure religion to another, it was off to Haifa to visit the Shrine of the Báb, considered to be the second holiest place on Earth for Bahá'ís, and their gift to humanity.

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We did manage to eat in one of my favourite Tel Aviv restaurants on Friday night - GooCha. Yum!

Then on Sunday morning I was back on the beach.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Loved, Much Loved

[unfinished post]

I'm very bad at looking after myself when mon C is away. Actually, it is probably laziness. So I ask mon C to stock up for me before he goes.

I have to say that I'm slightly surprised by what's in the fridge this time.



Forget the top shelf, the champagne is my choice. But as for the sauerkraut and pickled fish and the rest of that pickle stuff-c'mon. When mixed with cheese this stuff gives bad dreams. I mean, BAD dreams. The stuff of nightmares. That which plagues me and denies me of a decent night's sleep. With cheese...



Oh look-the next shelf is stuffed full of cheese. Yum!

So, do I really look Polish? I may have shaved my head, but it's not Warsaw chic these days. So I'm told. Ouch.



I don't think I'm dark enough to look Polish actually, though on the other hand I think the skinhead look suits me. Chemo-thug, though lord knows why I'm lifting my shirt*


*Note to self: me the shirt-lifter

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sunday, From The Beach

Just a good morning all, from Frishman beach, where it's 27°C.

In fact, so hot that I've had to come back inside. Though, in less than 10 hours I should be back in London where, currently, the sun is shining (according to BBC.com/weather) but at a cool 6°C.

This trip I've spent on the beach in Tel Aviv, on Mt. Carmel, in Dalit El Carmel and Haifa.

Yet again some fine food has been had.

At the moment I'm "slumming" it in Sheraton Towers (the airport lounge-type private suite for Starwood platinum guests), where I've just discovered that as a platinum guest, Xfe has butler service. In our room as well.

Now, if you'll excuse me I'm going to have a bloody mary. Maybe I'll loose my passport and stay another week....


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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Here We Go Again

Exactly two weeks ago I woke up a little after 1am, and couldn't sleep.

This morning I woke up at 12.10am. Ironically I had thought it was time to get up for work. The news was on the radio and I was listening to this report by Nick Robinson. I groaned when I looked at the clock and saw that I still had the whole night to sleep...

One of the reasons I thought it was wake-up time in the morning was because I'd already had a night full of dreams.

Perhaps, once again, I'm too tired to sleep. Yesterday I woke up rather early and had difficulty getting back to sleep again. The cause last night was one of the most vivid and strange dreams that I've had for a long-time.

I was at work. I was told that I had to go to Argentina on business, flying out Saturday night, returning on Monday night. Literally a flying visit. I was there to close a deal for a client, an investment fund principally dealing in gold-backed investments.

I remember feeling excited going to Argentina-a place I really want to visit, but concerned about the timing. Flying back over Monday night would mean missing a rehearsal for the Christmas concert I'm doing (in real life), which in effect would mean I'd struggle to be concert-ready and possibly have to drop out.

Part of the briefing for my trip was that I had to watch a specific film from Argentina. I sat down to watch this on a small square portable TV in my office with my secretary and another secretary that she is friendly with (both of whom were clearly the real-life people they represented in my dream).

The movie was about this guy-he was Argentinian, tanned, dark-haired and with a hairy chest and legs. He had a baby. In a test tube. He lay it down in something like a guttering channel in a kerb whilst he did something. When he went to pick it up again, it had been swallowed by what looked like an undulating red hose. I understood it to be some kind of worm-serpent, even though it looked like a thin red hose rather than a snake.

He extracted the baby in a test tube from the belly of the hose, via the "mouth", placing it in his white, short-sleeved cotton shirt top pocket. He talked to it, as if it were his child-a real child. There was nothing in the dream to suggest this wasn't a normal baby/child.

Suddenly the test tube baby morphed into a long, thin black snake. Or rather, the snake slithered out of the test tube. It wrapped itself around the Argentinian and became invisible. Only the Argentinian could see it when he looked hard enough. He could also hear it. It spoke to him.

The serpent was his tormentor. It was there to cause him pain and to chastise him. It would contract-around his chest-causing him sharp pain.

At that point I became the Argentinian. It still looked like the guy in the movie, but I understood it was me. I was in Buenos Aires and I was going jogging. The worm-serpent had wrapped itself around my left foot. It tightened it's coils and I was crippled. I looked down at my foot and say the thin black snake wrapped around it, coiling 4 or 5 times. Simultaneously I also saw it as a barbed wire tattoo around my calf.

It talked to me. But sometimes I'd only hear the voice in my head-on those occasions it didnt move it's mouth. But when it was talking in the conventional way, using it's mouth, I would see it's long angry fangs. I asked it if the only pain it would inflict was the crippling pressure I felt as it contracted around my body (still my foot). It said that it would also sink it's fangs into me-which it then did into the bridge of my foot. I'd been fearing it's bite. As such it was agonising, but at the same time it wasn't as painful as I had feared.

Then I wasn't the Argentinian. He was taping up his upper body, like a boxer tapes his hands, to go jogging and I was standing by him. Even although he was naked and he was taping up his upper thighs to go jogging, this seemed normal.

I was talking with him, watching him tighten the tape around his thighs-still tanned, thick and hairy in a very sexy, masculine way. As we were talking he partly taped his dick and balls. I remember being struck by how masculine he was, and I clearly remember feeling this in a sexual way.

At the same time that this was going on I was also myself and separately, but concurrently, as the Argentinian and the serpent tale was unwinding, I was at my parents' house getting ready for my business trip to Argentina. I was getting information on the client who I hadn't done any work for previously, though who were established clients of my boss. I had their client number-they were called something like M&P, and I was trying to better understand their business.

I was going to Argentina to take back the proceeds of sale of some gold backed bonds. For some reason there was a "heavy" at my parents enquiring of them what my business was in Argentina. At the same time he was both threatening, intimidating, but from the client. There was some suggestion-perhaps concern on my part-that what had gone on was slightly underhand.

I gave my parents my phone so that they could explain to my boss how this guy was threatening. Then I texted my boss to say the same thing.

And that's all I remember.

I woke up sensing someone in the room, unable to move and unable to place myself. I didn't know where I was. I could see the person, standing at the foot of the bed. They were tall and thin. Staring at me. I couldn't move. It's not the first time I've had that sensation.

Then I woke up properly and realised I was in my bedroom at home. The person was actually a cabinet with a pile of DVDs on top.

OK. It's now 2.43am. I really need to try to sleep.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Random Stuff

Red ribbon

I hadn't realised that when wearing a red ribbon the safety-pin is meant to be showing on the outside, to symbolise safe sex. I was told that by more than one person, so I'm guessing it's not a myth...

Sadly, I was more interested in whether my ribbon was showing shiny side up. With the green shirt I thought it looked entirely festive.

I'm still on the look out for a crystal encrusted AIDS ribbon for some future bling if anyone knows where to find me one?

Mon C

Xfe was home for just a week. In the last few months he's been to Israel and back, then to Cyprus and back, followed by Istanbul and back-and he's off to Israel again. Track those journeys and consider-should we be living in the eastern Med perhaps?

Just to prove the exception to the rule he did have 10 days in the Caribbean somewhere in between.

Fortunately I'm popping out to see him tomorrow for an extended long weekend. Now here's a thought: one of these is the 5-day forecast for London, the other Tel Aviv. Can you guess which is which?



So, it looks like I will need that sunblock after all.

No more champagne (and the fireworks are through)- M&S vs. Waitrose

It may be a little after the event, given that I have 3 cases of M&S champagne, which I rather like because it is super dry. However on Saturday I popped into Waitrose at the Barbican, where they had an offer on their champagne.

Mmm. A nicer dry I think. Only £12 a bottle.

Mind you, if I was going for price before quality I'd have gone to the outer limits to find a Woolworths, who had a bottle of champagne last year for-what was it-£3?

There's a salutory lesson. Just look where they are one year down the line? Down the drain, like their £3 champagne.

Its the end of the party
And the morning seems so grey
So unlike yesterday
Now's the time for us to say...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Saturday On The Tube

This guy looked rather sweet, I thought, heading home on the Metropolitan Line after a hard week's work. Face of an angel, boots of an eastern European living in Stratford.

Right, I'm off to investigate flights to Helsinki for next summer. Looks like I'm off to Helsinki Pride. You might remember mon C and I went there on part 1 of our honeymoon in 2007, for a Eurovision mini-break.

I'll head back from Helsinki and go on to join Xfe in Tel Aviv for our summer holiday.

All about me?

It's not all about me, though.

Saturday's concert with the gay men was part of the outreach stuff they do. I've sung with them at memorials and at dedications. Sometimes I've had to stop singing while I've cried. It's worthwhile, but I can still give more.

It's time to put some of my professional experience to community use. My firm runs a pro-bono legal advice clinic. It's like citizens advice. I'll be doing 2x45 minutes one night a month advising those who need help but can't afford the £408 per hour I'm charged at (let's face it-I couldn't afford me). On debt, housing and a variety of other social issues.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Advent 1

Here's a little advent bonus.

World AIDS Day 2008


Today, the 1st December, is World AIDS Day. 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day.

On Saturday I (and about 45 other gay men) sang at a World AIDS Day London event - a concert at St Pancras Church. It was free to attend, donation to HIV-AIDS charities optional.


My life has largely been unaffected by HIV-AIDS. I vaguely know some people who are HIV+. The chances are that I probably know others who either don't disclose or who don't realise that they are.

I am fortunate not to have lost a loved one. However it was clear that many of those who attended on Saturday had.

The audience was mixed. Young and old, women and men. Black and caucasian. There were gay men, some came alone, other together. Perhaps to remember friends, lovers, partners.

There were couples who came with their children. Some were the sisters and the brothers of someone living with HIV-AIDS. Others the mothers and fathers of children lost to it.

For some, whose sons and daughters with the passing of time can be remembered with more joy than sorrow, it was a poignant moment to celebrate a loved one's life. But for others it was still so obviously painful.

Although I felt that our start was a questionable choice (the organiser from THT dedicated the event to a colleague from London Lighthouse who had died, immediately after which launched into It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, with gusto), I couldn't suppress my tears during Silent Night, empathising with those who were still feeling even the slightest pain of loss.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

St. Andrew's Day 2008-Rick's Pics



St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland. Today is Scotland's official national day.

To celebrate I thought I'd show some patriotic pics from courtesy of Rick's Picks' Photostream. We really do wear our kilts with pride in Scotland.














These are all taken from Rick's pics. Rick is a Flickr contact of mine (and an acquaintance from Scotland). I have to say he takes some amazing pictures, from the Highland Games and Scottish shows.

Happy St. Andrew's Day one and all.

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