Sunday, January 31, 2010

#2: The Little Dog Laughed @ The Garrick

Before we saw The Little Dog Laughed at the Garrick theatre yesterday, the only think I knew about Rupert Friend, one of the leads, was that he is the current beau of Bend It Like Beckham star Keira Knightley.

I suspected that he might therefore be a semi-successful male model riding (as it were) on the back of his association with Ms. Knightley, hoping to breakthrough as an actor.

It turns out that although Friend is making his professional stage debut in Douglas Carter Beane's comedy as Mitchell (the Hollywood star with a "slight recurring case of homosexuality") his theatre programme resume credits him with a number of films (none of which seem to be both notable and successful) and a training at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts.

So, what's it about?

Mitchell is a handsome up-and-coming movie star whose secret is that he is gay. When he calls upon the services of male prostitute Bryan - real name is Alex (an ever sensitive Harry Lloyd), who sees himself as a straight guy servicing other men only to pay the rent - he falls in love with him.

In their respective best interests Diane (the excellent Tamsin Greig), Mitchell's savvy lesbian agent, wants to keep her client firmly in the closet.

She knows an out homosexual leading male has no place in Hollywood. With one exception:

"Are you British? Do you have a knighthood? Then shut up!"

But when Alex's friend Ellen (Gemma Arterton), who he occasionally sleeps with, falls pregnant to him ever-cynical Diane sees a way of giving everyone at the table what they want...

Are they any good?

Sadly Rupert Friend (yes that is him there) doesn't seem to have the depth necessary to carry the scenes that portray emotional closeness drawing the two men together.

His body language suggests that he is equally uncomfortable stripping off to his Emporio Armani black briefs on stage (which he often does, gentlemen) as when - I'm guessing as written but not acted - passionately kissing the even more handsome Harry Lloyd, as Alex.

He isn't alone in looking uncomfortable at times.

When Gemma Arterton comes on stage in her t-shirt and panties, she sits in the most unnatural looking position, as if only to keep her modesty in tact. Hands firmly grasped and consciously shielding her, the unfortunate result is her thighs look out of proportion - and not in a good way. Methinks that energy should instead be going into her angst. Or was it pathos... See I couldn't tell.

It is possible that Rupert Friend uses too much of his acting and concentration on keeping up an American accent - something I often find when it comes to Brits doing American.

This means there's not enough left over for depth of character and emotion.

It's not that he is bad. He's just not convincing. Neither as a nervous drunk closet homosexual calling on the services of a rent boy, nor as a closeted homosexual with so much to loose. I can't even give him the benefit of the doubt that it might be because he is so in love with Alex.

In fairness, the writing is partly at fault for the latter. Even before being smitten with Alex, we never believe that he's concerned about his secret.

Nevertheless, as Mitchell, Rupert Friend gets by.

He certainly pleased the many gays in the audience. No more so than when dressed only in his underwear, he kneels in front of a naked Harry Lloyd, whose pale bottom appears to hold the focus of the audience, just about to...

Only to have Diane burst in on them, in one hugely comedic OMG moment.

I have to admit that in all my theatre-going I have never felt such erotic tension than as I did then, at that moment. (Probably because, since seeing him in Doctor Who, I thought Harry Lloyd incredibly sexy; so imagine having him stand in front of me, dropping his underwear and standing there).

In any event I'm glad I did. It meant that I was so rewarded with such a laugh-out-loud relief at what I should have seen coming but didn't -I was so caught up in the moment; there was only Mitch about to go down on Alex.

So, should I go and see it?

Yes, do.

It's funny, it's got up-and-coming stars Lloyd and Arterton. It has sexy men (but for me Harry Lloyd) in pants, in bed together.

But most of all it has Archers star Tamsin Greig.

She has a few, early vowel-consonant our-side-of-the-Atlantic dialect slips - even Xfe picked up on them - but (and I suspect thanks to coaching) her accent is more than the two-dimension stereotype we always get offering a more-than bland Brit-ear to US accents.

It's not that I want to concentrate on language, but if we're meant to be in America I need to hear America, otherwise I know I'm in a theatre listening to players, acting.

She blows us away as lesbian Diane. Fierce, savvy and knowing. But really knowing.

Harry Lloyd and Gemma Arterton

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Problem With A Little Prick

If you like this, you'll love:
Friday Night:

Greek Pete on DVD. A dull and empty life. Some guy and his sexy tragic entourage sharing a sad drug f*cked Christmas.

Saturday Morning
28 September 2009*:

Early flight to Aberdeen. No cash. So, instead of getting the bus (to get the tube to get the train to get the plane) at my usual stop I walk down to the next one. I can get some cash from the ATM outside Tesco. I only need enough for small pocket change.

Out pops the statement. Fraud, fraud. Tear it up, and bin it. There's a bin at the bus stop. Fraud fraud, so even in pieces I can't risk them just lying there. Here's the bus, so no more tearing. I'll push them down the side to make sure they're out of sight.

FUCKING ouch. Hand jerks up, syringe stuck in my thumb. What the fuck, what the fuck. Taking it all in I feel sick the needle is dirty my thumb has a rusty blister junkie shit infection ouch fainting caused by needles short on time plane to Aberdeen dirty infection should be sick parents mother will be disappointed and she is still poorly and there's another bus and there was dark dirty orange fluid inside and my thumb is rusty blister suck out the infection

Before I know it I'm at Moorgate sucking my thumb. No tube to take me to Paddington. Time running short. Work it out while constantly thinking I had an AIDS infected users dirty used syringe jabbed into my thumb....

Next thing I know I'm on the plane. Having an orange juice thinking that it's fine. My brother is meeting me at the airport, and I can get him to take me to ARI. I feel extremely comfortable there. I lived over 30 years there and they are my people.

Bro - can you take me to A&E. But don't tell parents...

At A&E they ask me my details. They still have me on record from my flat in Aberdeen. The one I really regret selling and often dream about. How ironic and comforting that computer says hello (you never left us). I knew ARI was a good idea.

Worrying now about the time it will take until we get to my parents (and how we explain it), I'm soon called to triage. Thank you targets. To ensure patients are seen to within target times, you almost immediately see a triage nurse for an initial assessment, before being sent back for a 3 hour plus wait.

Oh lovely, comforting Aberdeen nurse, I feel safe in your care. Make things better, please.

She comes back after consulting a doctor for me. No I definitely don't need a tetanus**, but I do need to make sure I'm tested for hepatitis and HIV when I get back to London, a risk with needle-stick injury.

Oh lovely, comforting Aberdeen nurse, with whom I thought I'd find assurance, you have only reinforced my initial paranoia leaving me more worried than I'd calmed down to when I came to you. HIV is, you tell me, a possibility. But there's no treatment offered here in Aberdeen. Maybe I don't need any...

But, I have my computer and I can do the research, so I do...


Meet Kent, my HIV+ boyfriend who guarantees my PEP

* read about it almost real time in the until now when it happened unpublished post
** having had it even more than 10 years ago

A Prophet @ Screen On The Green

Last night Xfe, R-1 and I went first for dinner, then onto the cinema.

I can't remember my last time at the cinema. I don't enjoy the company of everyone else around me.

But the Everyman cinema was comfortable, and perfectly formed.

French film A Prophet, about the power struggle in a French prison between Muslim and Corsican gangs, has been critically well received.

The violence may be grim, but it's not as gory as Inglorious Basterds.

It didn't feel over long, but at times I did have difficulty keeping up with who was a good bad guy and who was a bad bad guy.

All that and Anthony Worrall Thompson too.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Walk This Way, Moorgate

It's the third section of my walk to work, which I'll be doing just as soon as these pics are uploaded. You can find the first two elsewhere on this blog.

I'll split this section into two parts.

So, you last found me arrived at Old St, but cutting across.


To the back of the eye hospital. Which looks great at night when lit up.


Through the estate.



Looking back down to Old St roundabout along Old St, before crossing over.






Down the back of Bunhill Fields graveyard, where there are various notable graves..




There's a right turn coming up...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Events Horizon

Today I saved £222 on theatre tickets for Xfe and I.

Get Into London Theatre have fantastic theatre ticket deals available as part of their Get Into London Theatre promotion, now extended to March 26 (so long as you book by early February).

These days I tend to shop for my ticket bargains at the official half-price tkts booth. I did use an old site which was taken over by LastMinute. Since then I've never bought from them; I'm never sure how good those seats will be.

However, with GILT you see the tickets allocated before you buy.

I always check Theatremonkey to see where the seats are, and if they're any good.

Between now and the end of February we'll be seeing:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Picture This

Just some pictures that were lying around and I wanted to share...

These two were taken on 5th November last year. I took them for Stephen's 5 on the fifth.

The theme was colour.

In the event I left my camera in the office and so didn't use them, and I only got round to uploading them at the weekend.

Autumn hung around quite late...

This one I took last weekend when I was in Kent Island, MD, and the sun was rising on a cold morning.

This marina on the Chesapeake bay was frozen.

Here's a block of flats, close to where I live. I've played around with the tones on this one using Aperture, but all the others are "au natural".

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Burns Night Redux

It's that time of year again.

Xfe's actually at home, but ironically I'm not having a Burns supper this year. Instead we had the neighbours (Miss Hugo and Fred & Seb) up for drinks and nibbles last night.

Our nibbles were themed to mark Burns Night - mince and haggis tortilla minis and tablet. All made by me.

Fred & Seb are our millionaire neighbours. Them what won the lottery. But, money isn't the be all and end all. Before I knew him, which was over 9 years ago, Fred had lymphoma. He was in remission, but now he's not.

He's been having treatment off and on for the last 2 years, none of which appears to have been helpful. Now he is on something experimental and stronger. But he's lost all his hair.

Miss Hugo's TV production company are looking to strike gold.

I often see her busy on her Mac. Working, social networking or just renting out her mansion in Tuscany.

She is still fiercely guarded by her dog and I think has moved back into the downstairs bedroom...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

London Eclectic

Swiss ReIn the shadow of wealth....

I took this picture yesterday afternoon.

In it you see 30 St Mary Axe (aka the Gherkin or the Swiss Re building), seen from Petticoat Lane market on the east, looking west.

Situated in the City of London (which is the main financial district) the building and the surrounds are buzzing with wealthy bankers, financiers and insurers.

Contrast that wealth with the poverty (I suspect) of those who live under its shadow, on the estate you can see at the end of the road, just in front of the tower.

This afternoon I had to pop out to the corner shop; we had no tomato puree.

On my way I saw a 55 (ish) year-old woman struggling with two stuffed Ikea bags, opening a front door entrance to flats above the shopping parade.

Her bags were brimming with standard Ikea starting out fare. You know the things you buy when you first move into a rented flat. Plates, candle holders, glasses, place mats, bathroom mats, laundry basket...

I could only guess her circumstances, but I imagined the worst and felt January at the sight of this wretched woman moving into her shitty little flat with the dirty communal entrance and kicked in door.

Divorced, rehoused. Struggling, alone.

Her only comfort the drunken treat offered by the bottle of wine she was also carrying. An evening's escape before the shitty reality of her life in a makeshift flat or bedsit has to be faced again and again and again.

With only a twist of fate separating her from the rest of us...

Right Now

What do I feel right now?

My hands hurt; the joints. That's my arthritis. I need to take some ibuprofen.

This morning (the date of writing, not necessarily of posting) I dreamed of pills. I took 2 ibuprofen, then 2 more a few hours later. Then, like sweeties, I had a mouthful. In my dream.

OK, now I'm thinking not feeling. What am I thinking?

When I dream of trying to find somewhere to piss, and it's really difficult to find, or I'm interrupted, but eventually manage, as difficult as it is to piss, does that mean I'm wetting the bed? I know that when I wake up in the middle of that dream I have to go pee.

Why did I think of that? (Ah, ok i was thinking of dreams; I've had the Aberdeen/London dichotomy dream twice this year already)

Feeling. What am I feeling?

It's 5pm and I've had 3 glasses of spicy red wine. I'm relaxed. But, do I need the wine to relax, or am I drinking the wine bacause I'm feeling reaxed?

I think I drink to escape? Probably maybe. But - what am I escaping from?

Not Xfe. That's for sure. He hardly ever drinks, and right now he's in bed snoozing. I still look at him and smile inside. I still reach out in bed for him. You know, I'm sure he's worried about thinning on top, and concerned. But I find him so alive.

Today we were crossing the road. I was standing in the middle and he was halfway across to the middle. Waving to Miss Hugo, who was getting out of her car. While I was shouting at him (I never do) to move as a car he hadn't looked to see, was racing up the road. I felt sick. What if I wasn't there?

Life - work. Probably.

Life - I feel for everyone. I see an old person. I worry they are alone.

I see someone with Ikea bags stuffed full of things her children should be having fun buying as they start on the adventure of life in their own place. Instead I see her loneliness and regret.

Do I feel guilty? They say guilt is a driver. Sometimes I feel guilty that I don't give enough to others. I think myself conservative, but I am also socially responsible. I payroll donate to 4 charities each month. They each get over £1k pa.

THT, the Food Chain, Alzheimers (selfish-I've always been convinced I will suffer) and a 4th I cannot remember.

Additionally I donate to arts organisations and charity.

Donate - how did I get onto that? What was I trying to justify? Obviously I have caught myself in mid-prose and am thinking again.

I feel aware of the privileges I have, but my mother sacrificed so that I may have, and I am here because I worked hard at school and onward.

Should I blog this or leave it in draft.....? (I'll probably blog it, leave it until I see I post-blogged it and then remove it when I'm back in touch with sense.)

Considering all, does it make a difference? I'm here for -

- and then I'm not, and neither are you and we don't get recycled I'm sure.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fine Weather(man), We're Having

Flipping heck! BBC weatherman Tomasz Schafernaker hasn't half been working out.

Until now, best known for his "muddy shite" slip of the tongue, Tomasz is said to have shocked his bosses after appearing almost naked, in skimpy shorts, in UK gay mag Attitude. From that...

to this......

(for those who couldn't believe it's the same guy I've added another pic where you he's somewhere between his old and new look.)

Yum! Let's have more weather please.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Midsummer @ Soho Theatre

midsummer (a play with songs)
On Saturday night Xfe took himself and, in my absence, his pal E to London's Soho theatre to see the Glasgow's Traverse Theatre Company production of Midsummer (a play with songs).

It's Midsummer's weekend in Edinburgh. It's raining. Two thirtysomethings are sitting in a New Town bar waiting for something to turn up. He's a failing car salesman on the fringes of the city's underworld and she's a high-powered divorce lawyer with a taste for other people's husbands. She's out of his league and he's not her type at all.

They absolutely should not sleep together. Ever. Ever... Which is why they do.

I was really excited about going to see it. The Edinburgh Festival production received good notices last year.

In the event, I wasn't able to go. But Xfe thought it was very funny (laugh out loud, which is unusual for him at the best of times), and he even enjoyed the songs; both actors, he reported back, were very good.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Grief Is Contagious

Like happiness, grief spreads.

I was one of six pall bearers at Mrs R's funeral. Her son, her son-in-law, two nephews (one on each side of the family), a nephew-in-law, and me.

I was honoured.

The casket was far heavier than I imagined. Much heavier.

That wasn't the only honour - I was seated right behind her husband and their 4 (adult children). The front 3 rows were immediate family.

The first row was the Col. and the 4 children, the second and third a combination of the spouses, grandchildren...and me.

Today, my friend (and former roommate) told me on the way to the airport that her cousin's 16 year-old daughter asked her this morning (before I got to the house),

"Remind me again how we're related to the guy from Scotland?"

Because Mrs R took it upon herself to make me part of the family all those years ago.

The grandchildren, ranging in age from 16 to 5, were so very upset at the loss of their grandma. One in particular, was sobbing so very heavily all the way through the ceremony and had to be supported.

It was hard not to feel their grief.

But of course I shed my own tears over my own fond memories.

I once introduced her to HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, in Covent Garden.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Little Pointer

So, the Department of Homeland Security has raised the level of national security here in the U.S. to orange alert, the second highest (high, below severe).

On our way to the U.S., in Heathrow, we had 2 levels of security screening. The regular airport security, and then for wannabe guests of Uncle Sam, a hand luggage and a full body search.

That's because the Transportation Security Administration issued new security directives to all United States and international air carriers with inbound flights to the U.S. effective January 4, 2010.

Interesting that here in the U.S. on the way back security is less thorough. There's no hand luggage search, no pat down.

I even made it through regular security with some anti-bacterial hand gel in my bag that I'd forgotten was there.

But I shouldn't worry, because no-one could anticipate a threat to airline security from within the US. I mean, it's not as if a terror1st or group of the same would try and board a plane somewhere inside America's borders.

Could you imagine such an event?

I'll comfort myself with that thought as my plane flies past/over DC, New York and Boston en route to London...

Really, someone needs to have a quiet word with Homeland Security. Perhaps I need to call Anyelina and suggest that airport security needs to be equally strict on the way out...

I know she's only an immigration information officer, but given the one-way nature of the TSA guidance I'm sure the information passed on to Anyelina would be just as effective as Barrack's "kick up the ass".

Wish me a safe flight home. I feel I need it!

God Loves America

I forget so many things about America, but it all comes flooding back as soon as I return.

Like, why do American toilet bowls contain so much water in such a low-rimmed piece of apparatus?

It's not good for peeing. My legs always get splashed.

Are men meant to pee sitting down - is that what you have to do dear American readers?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

No Fun In Funeral

I had plenty to think about on the plane coming over to Dulles airport (for Washington DC).

The last time I traveled to Dulles was 21 years ago - my first visit to the US. Sitting on the plane 21 years later I can't feel the excitement that I must have felt then.

It's not that this trip is tinged with more than a hint of sadness - it is. It's just that I fell out of love with America. Not the people. Well, not the people I knew. My problem was with what America came to stand for, summed up as follows:

George W. Bush.

I'm a person who votes with my feet. So, with one exception, I chose not to come to America while he was in office.

My other gripe, which still exists to a degree, is how US immigration assume that I want to live here and stay over beyond my visa.

I know that a lot of people do, but I do have a life, a partner a successful career that isn't here. When I tell immigration I'm coming for a holiday, please choose to believe me. Just look at my record of visits in and out; always punctual and always within the period of my visa.

The process of coming to America - security and immigration - continues to put me off.

This trip reminds me that I really haven't fallen out of love with Americans. Certainly not my friends.

My friends, are my friends are my friends, and 20 years ago when we were kids and I was sailing with them from Annapolis to Martha's Vineyard (and back), and over the course of that summer became a member of the R family, I gratefully benefited from the generous hospitality of real Americans!

It was the best summer I ever had.

Today we remember Mrs R.

I knew that if I didn't come for her service I would have regretted it. Now I know how much my coming over is appreciated.

Twenty summers ago we sailed form Maryland to Massachusetts for the wedding of cousin S. This morning at breakfast she came over to say hello, and with her mother too, who all wanted to say how fond Mrs. R was of me and how much my coming over means to Mrs R's husband and kids, my friends.

The surrogate family I spent my summer 20 years ago with.

Last night and this morning from my hotel room- chilly.

Where I am:


Friday, January 15, 2010

DC Jan 2010

Just about to start the journey to Washington DC.

Actually I have to get myself over a little from Annapolis (MD state capital) to where the memorial service will be. Sounds like its going to be a bit trains, planes and automobiles...

Oh well.

10am update

At a rather foggy Heathrow airport...waiting. I think that will be today's theme: waiting & patience.

Now here...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gay Men: "Spaced Out" Substance Abusing Sex Addicts

This article on caught my eye.

Although it was tongue in cheek I did find it ever-so slightly, lightly self-defeating, in a naive way. Though often that's the way when we employ stereotypes as a good-humoured "defence".

More concerning are some of the replies, such as this one:

I'm sorry, but all of the gay men I've known (and I've truly known - as friends - quite a few) have been heavily into gay pornography, substance abuse, and late night sexual encounters with anonymous strangers. This generally translated into a "spaced out" persona very similar to what you see with long time pot smokers. Homosexuality is not a personality trait anymore than alcoholism is, but like alcoholism it is a serious sexual addition that ultimately affects every aspect of one's life - just look at the life expectancy for gay men! As a senior associate at a large US firm I would exercise more scrutiny when deciding to hire a gay man (at least if i knew he was gay) just as I would someone with known addition problems. Doesn't mean I wouldn't ultimately hire him. He may be one of the very few homosexual men who have achieved stability in their lives and relationships. But I would be cautious nonetheless. And no, I am not going to apologize for my "homophobic" comments because they have nothing to do with phobias.

"Homosexuality... like alcoholism... is a serious sexual addition that ultimately affects every aspect of one's life - just look at the life expectancy for gay men".

Wow! Shades of Jan Moir. Anyway, I hope Jack Vance appreciates the gratuitous picture of straight cocky mockney type Danny Dyer. The gays will... (being gay porno/sex addicts).

But as was pointed out:

Jack Vance -
Many of the straight people I have known are heavily into pornography (along the spectrum from triumphantly straight to pseudo-lesbian and bisexual), substance abuse and late night sexual encounters with anonymous strangers.
On occasions this has translated into their taking unscheduled time off work and other commitments while they nurse their weary bodies and a sexually predatory attitude towards friends and strangers. This has resultant lapses in their efficiency, productivity and reliability.
But like you I am open-minded enough to look past these indiscretions and "truly know" them as "friends".
I forgive them for the fact that despite the backbone of church, state and law reinforcing the stability and ultimate preeminence of the heterosexual relationship so many of them choose to disrupt this paradigm through extra-marital affairs, casual sex and divorce.
My heart is so big that I am prepared to work with and would even recommend as employable many of my heterosexual counterparts, despite the fact that many prominent rapists, murderers and child molesters also happen to be heterosexual.
Indeed I believe so strongly in diversity that in a managerial position I would never dream of personally discriminating against my straight brethren, even though their proclivity towards reproductive activity means that may need to take time off for childcare obligations.
But unlike you - who can confidently say he has no fear of the homosexual - I must admit that as a gay man I have on occasion feared heterosexual individuals. Especially when the intertwining of sexual addiction, violence and ignorance leads to gay men being killed for holding hands in public spaces.

Hmm. Although not sympathetic to Jack Vance's point of view, there is something more overt in the acting-out of gay sexuality than straight sexuality.

For example, I'm not yet aware of a straight equivalent to Grindr. (See Joe's post on gay positioning system for his thoughts on that).

But then I don't pay much attention to the hetero shenanigans. Though this time Joe not only has a view but has recent experience...

I think that it's because as gay men we feel less constrained by society's "norms"; less constrained by a morality that benefits a different ideal.

At work plans are afoot to set up a diversity working group and I have volunteered to offer my services.

Some law firms are really into LGBT networks. I've been in two minds about that one. I need to get my thoughts together in a considered way before I set forth my views; in the meantime I thought this debate - as recently as January 2010 - would be of interest.

Although like Tom, I'd like to think that "hopefully one day this whole topic will be irrelevant in any case!"

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Aperture Photography Projects

I'm trialling Aperture to see what it does, and how easy I can make it work to make my pictures look better.

So far, without really understanding what I was doing and what I needed I turned this pic

tel aviv beach

into this

Tel Aviv alt-2

and this

Tel Aviv alt-1

and then some...

Tel Aviv

So, it looks like it could be fun to play with?


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