Thursday, December 31, 2009
Out with the old, in with the new
Tomorrow's the main event for for Doctor Who, as David Tennant's v.10 becomes Matt Smith v.11 and I'm guessing that we just might see a new Christmas 2009 ident in use after The End of Time part 2.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Christmas presents. Yet, despite the impossible expectation of Christmas past, I am always excited by the new promise that Xfe's gifts are so thoughtful. That he thinks differently from me, yet thinks of me.
The only thing that I put on my Santa list for him was the PS3 Singstar Take That. I never got it. On Christmas day my cousin asked me if I had got it, because she knew I has asked for it.
Look closely. It's not here.
Still, at £14.84 it's my first New Year sales bargain!!!
Though I am not, certainly not complaining. For mon C is the giver of fabulous, fantastic, thoughtful gifts, and yet again I have reaped the benefit.
I just hope that I can do the same.
In what must be a first, I didn't get any Cds. no DVDs, no books. I don't think that a Christmas has gone by when I've never even had at least one. Xfe mentioned the thing I asked for, but said he couldn't remember what it was. A real sign of the gent! (Honest - he was thinking of what would be good for me).
Of course, we do think about Christmas presents well before Christmas. One day I went shopping with Chadwick, when she was still here with us, and she chose a couple of presents (as cats do - they even sign Christmas cards, don't you know?).
You can see what she bought, right?
She bought the Go-Go Pet. One of Christmases must have toys. She bought it for £7.49 or thereabouts. Though by the time Christmas came I was itching to sell it on e-bay for over £60.
Here she is, and as fate would have it, she's the colour of Chadwick. Thus, despite her go-go pet name, I've decided to call her Chadwick2.
Cecilia says, "Thank you".
And, if Chadwick you are missing this first Christmas after 18 with us, you'll see that Cecilia loves the gift you left her so much, that she's doing an impression of you.
(only joking - she's just yawning)
In the land of the living, we still have plenty presents. In fact, and here's the truth, we have too many.
While I earn, I like to give. That may not be forever. This time last year I wasn't certain whether I'd still be in a job this time now. This time 6 months ago I was certain I had survived the credit crunch.
Now, if you ask, I'm not certain whether I'll be working this time next year.
Here come the 000 boys; Paul Smith and Ted Baker.
Switching back to Xfe, whose values are different, the artist to my planner, here's the gift I asked for and hoped for.
We once had a beautiful glass Buddha, from China. But one day when Xfe was cleaning it fell to the ground and shattered.
Lo, I was sad. So saddened.
Here is the new one he bought me.
And here, from my Mum and Xfe is the most fragrant of my Christmas 2009.
I'm going straight back to buy more of what they have. Better than Comme des Garçons, the Czech & Speake fragrances are the most wonderful I have ever had the pleasure of.
At the moment, Xfe's in bed, reading. Christmas brought him plenty to read.
To look at...
and, to listen to.
So, despite the ghost of Christmases past, I'm rather happy, and thankful, for those Christmas presents.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
A really festive time for celebrating. For JOY. After all, " 'tis the reason for the season".
Yet, beneath the surface there's a melancholy. For each of us.
We may not be able to express it; but I see it as well as you do, whether you choose to acknowledge it.
Mine started yesterday, brought on when I left my parents at the airport. My mother is always delighted to see us. It wasn't easy for her to accept my partner, and me, her gay son. But she does now, with the support and love of our family. For her it was the fear of the shame it would bring. The unknown of what others would think.
Now she knows what they think. They love Xfe. Not maternal or family love (yet). Just love him as a special, thoughtful guy.
But my Mum loves him as family. She loves him because, with a mother's eye, she sees how much true happiness he brings me; and she sees he is genuine.
She is especially delighted to see us at Christmas, and never more than this year, one that has been very difficult for her.
When I left her at the airport, she said, tearfully, "Thank you for making my Christmas".
What I thought, but failed to say, was "no - you made Christmas. You made it what it is for me, all my excitement and delight. You taught me the warmth and comfort of family".
She burst into tears when we said goodbye. She doesn't usually - although she did do the same thing in November, the last time we visited.
I said to Xfe that I think it's because each time she says goodbye now, she thinks that it will be the last time she will see me. It's a very real fear for her... When she was in hospital earlier this year (for the best part of 2 months), the night before her 3rd operation, she thought she was not going to see the next day.
Her fear was so real that the hospital phoned her oldest sister, at 2am, to come sit with her.
My Mum told my aunt that she was sad that she wouldn't see me again; that she felt that she would not recover from the op she was scheduled to have before I would be back in Scotland.
My sadness at Christmas comes knowing that the promise and expectation of Christmas present can never match the ghost of golden Christmases past.
When I was a child. When all I wanted for Christmas from Santa was a red balloon.
Xfe is in the shower, back from Yoga. We have our presents to open. Yet I know that the promise of wrapped gifts waiting to be opened will never match the reality and the inevitable disappointment that expectation has not been met.
I realise that it's nothing to do with the gifts themselves, rather the unattainable ideal of Christmas past.
The comfort of childhood, of the safety of being dependent. Loved, warm, content, and not having to face (or even exposed to) the reality of life's varied and difficult challenges.
We all deal with Christmas and the melancholy it brings in different ways. Some of us escape.
Others have to or choose to spend it alone (plans don't always work out that way however). Some put up with a family Christmas before the short sharp shock of real life has to be faced again.
But right now I can't dwell on it. I'm going to open some presents...
Monday, December 28, 2009
We leave from Dundee (not my home I hasten to add - sorry Dundonians) later today and should be back in London early evening.
And when we wake up tomorrow morning, we'll enjoy the thrill of Christmas morning all over again, waking up to a tree-load of presents (unless we've been broken into while we've been away, in which event someone else will have had the excitement; I just hope they can fill Xfe's underwear as well as he can).
I just love Christmas...
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Another Christmas Day survived.
Now we sit out the fag end of the year and countdown to the start of a new decade. The empty time that sits between the spent excitement of a Christmas past and the clean promise of a new year.
About 3 weeks ago I was puzzled as to why a Saturday supplement was featuring the best (records, I think - though it might have been books) of the decade when there was another year to go. It wasn't until the next week when another similar feature was heralded on the front cover that I realised that indeed it was the end of the first decade of the new millennium.
This time last decade, we were stressing about the millennium bug. Planes were going to drop out of the sky come the midnight hour. Technology was going to cause the world as we knew it to come to an end, although not in a Terminator kind-of way.
Do any lawyers remember the Y2k compliance clause we were arguing about in negotiations?
Of course, on 9/11 (2001) planes did fall out of the sky and the world as we knew it changed...
Friday, December 25, 2009
When I think, though, how uncomplaining my mother was all those years, plucking, stuffing.
I don't think I was ever meant to get my hand inside here, you know.
It just doesn't feel right to me.
So, I guess I'll leave it to all of you instead.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
We are at London City airport. We arrived to scenes of chaos at check-in. The AirFrance/CityJet queues were a shambles. It seems that the first Dundee flight this morning was canceled. Angry, angry people.
I'm not sure why.
All the stressed-out people around me are stressing me out...
We're on the second flight to Dundee. We could have flown to Aberdeen, but on balance Dundee is easier to manage. Last night I was rather pleased we had chosen the Dundee option. Aberdeen is suffering heavy snow...
So, the news that the first Dundee flight was canceled left me a slightly sick feeling.
However, the plane that I'm assuming was the 9am flight to Dundee was probably the one that came down from Dundee and was scheduled for an 8.25am arrival. It was delayed but arrived at 9.40am.
So I'm guessing, hoping, that it will be the plane that takes us to Dundee at 11am.
The screaming babies are stressing me out. Just like the 3 people who all went through the scanner/security ahead of me with liquids. DON'T YOU BLOODY WELL KNOW BY NOW, STUPID PEOPLE??
Fingers crossed. When I'm on the plane and we have taken off I'll finally relax...
...Until I start worrying about whether the propeller is going to shear off and slice through the plane mid-air.
Christmas Eve update:
We made it. But this from BBC News at 05:29 GMT, Thursday, 24 December 2009
Icy roads and freezing fog warnings for Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve travellers face another day of disruption as the UK wakes to widespread ice and to freezing fog.
Warnings were issued across England, Wales and Northern Ireland after rain showers fell on already icy roads, sparing only south-east England.
In Scotland, temperatures plunged to minus 16C in the highlands and minus 11C in Edinburgh overnight.
In Lincolnshire, one person was reported killed as black ice caused some 40 crashes, police said.
Eurostar, after suspending services on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, ran about two thirds of its normal number of trains on Wednesday and hoped to operate a similar level of service on Christmas Eve.
However, prospects of a white Christmas receded for most of the UK, as the BBC weather centre said the only snow expected on Christmas Eve was in the Scottish borders and the Welsh hills.
And the only part of the UK likely to see snow falling on Christmas day is the north-east of Scotland, with a dusting from light snow showers.
Temperatures fell as low as minus 16C in the highlands of Scotland and minus 11C in Edinburgh on Wednesday night, with many parts of the country set to suffer more below-freezing daytime temperatures.
In northern England the temperature sank to between minus 2C and minus 3C in Northern Ireland to between minus 4C and minus 6C.
In Wales the temperature hovered around zero C, while southern England was spared frost with temperatures of between 2C and 4C.
A Ryanair plane slid off the runway at Prestwick
The BBC weather centre said many parts of Scotland were set to suffer sub-zero daytime temperatures, while pockets of freezing fog in the central lowlands and in Northern Ireland that were likely to linger throughout the day.
Scotrail says services will be restricted between Glasgow Central station and Ayr, Largs, Ardrossan, Gourock and Wemyss Bay.
Liverpool Airport reopened on Wednesday night after a deluge of snow forced it to close briefly, with travellers warned to expect delays.
Delays are also expected at Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Prestwick airports - where staff have had to clear snow and ice from runways.
On Wednesday a Ryanair passenger jet with 129 people on board skidded off the runway at Prestwick after hitting a patch of ice. No-one was hurt.
EasyJet has already cancelled a number of Thursday flights, with British Airways saying that the majority of its flights were operating normally but warning passengers should check before setting off for the airport.
Gatwick Airport said it was operating normally but warned of minor delays, with Heathrow also telling travellers to expect disruption.
When I thought that it was 5am, instead of an hour earlier, I considered that I had slept reasonably well. Given, especially, that we will be getting up about 6.30am to get organised for our journey...
Sleep was cruel to me last night/this morning.
But I saw through its deception.
Whilst I thought myself lying in bed awake I was actually sleeping, just dreaming about being awake. I worked it out.
Firstly the orientation of the bedroom wasn't wrong. I clearly remember in my dream thinking that it wasn't quite the orientation that I was accustomed to.
Then, it wasn't Xfe with me in bed. The dream had morphed into the ghosts of boyfriends past dream. It was 7-year Simon. Lying in bed with him, awake, I said to him that I knew I wasn't with him. Therefore I knew that this was a dream, and therefore I knew that I was actually asleep.
(For my other recurring dream themes, see here.)
So, I stopped being anxious about not being asleep and having another long night ahead.
But the dream wasn't finished with me yet.
I heard our gate, footsteps and voices. They might have been real, but I could just have been dreaming.
After Electric E's Friday night boozy hysteria, I've been cautious about them. Whilst I sense that mr D-DJ is fairly sensible and tries to be considerate, it's a different kettle of fish with Electric E. She seems, from my limited exposure to her, immature and silly. I think she could be vindictive; if we complain about the door slamming then (when mr D-DJ isn't there) she'll show us what a slamming door really is, kind-of-thing.
I'm also-and this has been a concern for a while-bothered by some of the company they keep and the hours that they seem to keep it, with people coming and going just as quickly at very odd hours in the night.
Back in bed, I heard the voices get closer. Then footsteps on the downstairs decking.
This time the orientation was right. But then it stopped being correct. I could hear those voices side right (correct) and front left (not correct) where I was thinking the front door was.
Then I heard keys in our door, and the door open. (This is another theme in my dreams I experience from time to time; our front door locks are ineffective, and really any keys will open them.)
I got out of bed, and there in the hall (which was on the reverse side from where it is in our flat) were strangers. I couldn't talk. I tried to warn Xfe-for it was now him who was in bed with me-but no words of warning would come.
When I could speak the 3 blokes grumbled but left. I was worried that these strangers knew that their keys would let them into our flat - whenever they wanted. Then, down the hallway came my friend Liz. I was relieved to see her, to know it was her and that she (and by default) her friends wouldn't come back in.
There was more to the dream, but fairly normal stuff.
Not a daydream
Later, when Xfe was back and in the bath I was standing in the doorwar, chatting to him, when I heard a man's voice again. It was so clear I went to look to see if there were workmen/tradesmen on the roof or elsewhere. There were none!
All rather strange, but there you go.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Just what I can watch/read/see that doesn't have David Tennant in it this Christmas?
Even the BBC idents have him.
Just shows how much Dr Who is back as part of the British iconic-ography!
Google gets me a lot of people wanting to know whether Ben Whishaw is gay, or whether Ben Whishaw has a girlfriend.
If you want to know if Alexandre Despatie is well hung, you'll probably find me.
Even me and Matt Smith (with a smattering of Russell Tovey) didn't bring as much traffic.
The world wants to see Gareth Thomas naked; and if you want to know something even more intimate about him, well, it seems I'm Google's number 1 hit.
A good night's sleep just doesn't seem to come easy anymore. I don't usually have a problem getting off (ahem). It's just that I tend to wake up early, unable to get back to sleep.
I'm still stressing. This time it's about the weather and whether we're going to be able to escape London. We're should be leaving on Wednesday. The weather looks less cold, and no snow is predicted for then. But there might be freezing fog.
We're flying from City airport which, currently, is closed.
I'm excited about going to my parents for Christmas. My brother will be there with his 1-year old. This will only be the second Christmas that I have spent with my brother since he was a teenager.
My mother loves Christmas-a tradition that has been passed on to me!
And, I can look forward to sleeping well there. Really well. It's the middle of nowhere, the back of beyond. The perfect antidote to a busy life in London.
Having spent the last week caught up at work, I missed our office Christmas parties. I was left behind, working.
So, to make up, we did some festive activities over the weekend.
On Saturday night we went to the Barbican to see the Brighton Gay Men's Chorus Make the Yuletide Gay. It didn't really help. Although there were sing-along-carols and stuff, the chorus on stage were as half empty as the Barbican hall was half empty. Despite having a "west-end" director, the chorus moving around was a bit of a shambles!
There were some very good soloists, but otherwise the choir lacked shape and purpose, offering such well known Christmas pieces as Aquarius, Let The Sunshine, Big Spender and Bring Him Home...
Sandie Shaw was a rather pointless Ice Princess, or Snow Queen with 2 other hosts/narrators popping off and on.
However it was something to see her sing (and sing along to) her well known "festive" hit (There's) Always Something There to Remind Me.
Today, because he has never been to one, and doesn't really understand the concept despite my attempts to explain, we're going to a panto; Aladdin at the Hackney Empire.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Electric E was up the other night, with her father, challenging Xfe's bemoaning their thud, thud, thud. Her father, apparently left with the hand to Xfe on our doorstep, telling him and her that he (Xfe) "was not a person worth trying to talk to".
On our doorstep, our house. Electric E, as Xfe recounted, had an oversized glass of wine in her hand while she, and her father, were challenging Xfe, at 11pm, over his complaining about the noise from below.
On our door, safe entrance to our flat, the two of them and Xfe, inside...
Saying along the lines of how could he complain when he had never told her*...
Of course I was in bed asleep only vaguely hearing. I heard the hysterical Electric E, and the seemingly calm Xfe - though I chastised him for his use of the f-word.
If I had known her father was there, I would have come out to support him. Still, maybe the next time I see her I'll say I want to chat, but can she wait until I get my Dad on the phone.
*pardon me if that mentions 7-doors-a-slamming (well, it's Christmas).
I can't remember exactly when, though I could work them out.
The first was probably Christmas 1997, when after over 5 years together, Ben left me for a life in Canada. The next was December 2005, before meeting Xfe, and the end of a 7-year relationship.
On each occasion I spent Christmas with family, though it wasn't celebrated.
There were no Christmas decorations at home. I sent and received Christmas cards. The cards I received were unopened.
A sad reminder of those bitter Christmases past, that is the 2005 bunch which stay in one of the Christmas decoration boxes, to be discovered each year.
One year I might open them. But not yet.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I don't dress them up or anything. I just picture them, looking festive. Chadwick especially; pure white there was always something festive about her.
But this year, sadly, we're down to one.
Even though I catch myself still referring to the cats, Chadwick was put down last month. She didn't make it to her second decade. She was almost there, but not quite.
Still, that's our lives.
So. Here they are. In memory of Chadwick, and cursing Cecilia (who we love, as much as Chadwick - when it's averaged out).
There's nothing like second day soup, so I'm told. So, the scotch broth (or, at least, my take on it) is underway.
This evening, after the concert, Xfe is going to make a traditional trifle with his own custard. He has never made one before!
Before we got down to kitchen stuff there was, first, some DIY to attend to...
Pure Evil is well hung
In November I bought a graffiti piece by Shoreditch based Pure Evil, from the Hammer exhibition. It arrived earlier this week. We had to hang it.
It's rather heavy, stenciled on black glass. I mentioned that I was worried about it pulling chunks out of the plaster.
Challengingly, it came with fixed hook fixings, rather than a wire or hanging string. This meant there was no give. If I wanted it well hung (i.e. straight), I needed to get the wall fittings exactly in place. Luckily, I was reasonably good at maths when I was at school, and I seemed to get them where I needed them.
And, Yellow Vampire well hung, it was time to get on with the broth. Time to make the stock with the rude looking chicken...
Take some Borough Market veg (I was down there at 8.30am to beat the crowd-actually to go to the ginger pig to buy some meat for tomorrow and for Christmas), corn-fed chicken and broth mixture (dried peas and pulses, which first need to soak for 10-12 hours).
I fry off my chicken first to give it some colour. Then add chunky cut carrot, onion...
and celery. Fry, then steam...
Now it's ready for the water. Boiling water. To cover and then I let it simmer very gently, for 3-4 hours and then to cool, completely.
ps - the original
Gareth Thomas is a successful international rugby player, having captained both Wales and the British Lions. So coming out as a gay man is a big step indeed for Gareth Thomas.
So, of course, as another self respecting gay man, the first thing to do is Google for Gareth Thomas Naked. Results in post below...
Ex-Lion Gareth Thomas reveals he is gay
Thomas won 100 caps for Wales and three caps for the Lions
Former Wales and Lions captain Gareth Thomas has broken one of the major taboos that surround sport by revealing he is gay.
The 35-year-old joins stars like basketball's John Amaechi and hurling's Donal Og Cusack who have come out.
"Just because you are gay, it doesn't mean you fancy every man who walks the planet," Thomas told the Daily Mail.
"I don't want to be known as a gay rugby player. I am a rugby player first and foremost. I am a man."
Cardiff Blues utility back Thomas said he had been through "all sorts of emotions" over the issue, since first knowing he was gay in his late teens.
He revealed that he was "anxious about people's reactions" to him being gay and that he felt he could not have come out earlier in his rugby career.
"It is the toughest, most macho of male sports, and with that comes an image," Thomas said.
"In many ways, it is barbaric, and I could never have come out without first establishing myself and earning respect as a player.
'Time is right'
"Rugby was my passion, my whole life, and I wasn't prepared to risk losing everything I loved."
Thomas went on to win 100 caps for Wales and three for the Lions, and has played for Bridgend and Cardiff and spent three years in France with Toulouse, before returning to south Wales in 2007.
He feels attitudes have changed and the time is right for sport to start accepting openly gay people in the same way other professions have in recent years.
"I just happen to be gay," he added. "It's irrelevant.
"What I choose to do when I close the door at home has nothing to do with what I have achieved in rugby.
"It's pretty tough for me being the only international rugby player prepared to break the taboo.
"Statistically I can't be the only one, but I'm not aware of any other gay player still in the game.
"I'd love for it, in 10 years' time, not to even be an issue in sport, and for people to say: 'So what?'"
Thomas retired from international duty after captaining Wales' exit from the 2007 World Cup.
But he admitted it was on Wales duty at an earlier time when he first broke the news to former Wales caretaker coach Scott Johnson over his sexuality and the break-up of his marriage to his wife Jemma.
"My life seemed to be falling apart," he added. "Jemma and I were splitting up, and I was scared of the future and being single again as a gay man.
Rush of relief
"Somehow, the coach had guessed," said Thomas. "He took me out of the team room to the medical room, locked the door and I told him everything.
"After keeping it secret for so long, I felt a huge rush of relief.
"Scott said: 'Right, I've got to speak now to three or four players in the Welsh team because you need the boys to surround you and support you. You can't cope with this on your own,' and he was right.
"He told two of my team-mates, Stephen Jones and Martyn Williams, and as I sat in the bar waiting for them, I was absolutely terrified, wondering what they were going to say.
"But they came in, patted me on the back and said: 'We don't care. Why didn't you tell us before?'
"Two of my best mates in rugby didn't even blink an eyelid."
But Thomas said one of his lowest points was cheating on Jemma, which drove him to the edge.
"Sometimes I felt so alone and depressed," he added.
"I used to go to the cliffs overlooking the beach near our cottage in St Brides Major and just think about jumping off and ending it all."
As a self respecting gayer the first thing I did was google the internet for pictures of Gareth Thomas naked.
As every good gayer knows, there's something sexy about sportsmen; rugby players especially so. We've grown accustomed to Les Dieux, for example...(see Maxime Médard on the left).
Although my Google search for pics of gay rugby player Gareth Thomas didn't reveal too many naked pics, I quickly realised there is something, erm, uniquely British about Gareth Thomas.
All credit to him for coming out.
So, let's hear it for Gareth Thomas. Gay rugby player. Beauty and beast.
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