21 February 2007

Slan go foill

Those of you paying attention will recall that one returns to Ireland tomorrow morning, so it is time for us to part!

One imagines this is distressing for you, gentle reader… but do imagine how much more distressing it is for me! Please try to amuse yourselves in my absence, but not so much that you don’t miss me most dreadfully… a deluge of Calling Cards to that effect will be expected upon my return.

One does welcome the opportunity of catching up with friends, particularly my best friend, who is struggling to adjust her habits to acommodate full-time child-raising. This is quite understandable: except for under the most adverse circumstances - such as homelessness, unsafe living conditions or lack of spouse and child care - it was not meant to be a full-time activity. Until the middle of the last century, no developed culture on earth had ever deployed one woman per child without simultaneously assigning her such major productive activities as weaving, farming, gathering, temple maintenance and tent building. The reason is that full-time, one-on-one child raising is not good for women… or children. Home life is no more natural than a cage is natural to a cockatoo.

Recognising her need to escape from what must be an ordeal, one proposes to distract her with champagne and social outings… yes, of course we’ll bring the child, for one is quite looking forward to bonding; one might even change a diaper.

In tribute to all those who endeavour to remain sane while working full-time in the home, one presents a selection of carefully chosen tracks, providing a soundtrack for a day of the working week… known as the Desperate Housewives Collection.

Please enjoy!

Trapped in a box

  1. Introduction – Queen of the Crime Council
  2. Ode to Oren Ishii by Vince Tempera & Orchestra
  3. Trapped in a box by No Doubt
  4. Long time woman by Pam Grier
  5. A chicken with its head cut off by The Magnetic Fields
  6. Cvalda by Bjork
  7. S. O. S. by ABBA
  8. Tu Mira by Manuel Lole
  9. Kiss me like you mean it by The Magnetic Fields
  10. She wants to marry by The Beverley Sisters
  11. You’re with stupid now by Aimee Mann
  12. Woo Hoo by The’s
  13. You’re so bad by Tom Petty
  14. Love Resurrection by Alison Moyet
  15. Bedtime Stories by Madonna
  16. Stabbed in the heart by Jim White
  17. Time enough for rocking when we’re old by The Magnetic Fields
  18. Smile by Lily Allen
  19. Super Trooper by ABBA
  20. In the musicals by Bjork
  21. Bang Bang (My baby shot me down) by Nancy Sinatra
  22. Sunday morning by No Doubt
  23. Heaven of my heart by Jim White
  24. Green hornet by Al Hirt

Sappy pathetic little me, sick and tired of everything, head in the oven, but wicked like Medusa and with crazy killers that would slice right through you: no wish but to cut your day short like the winter solstice, darling, but I’ve been trapped in a box of tremendous size and it distorts my vision and closes my eyes. I’ve never been on my own this way, just sat by myself all day; I’d trade places with you any day. My sister got lucky, she married a yuppie and took him for all he was worth. All I do is sleep and sleep and sing in a world gone mad. Where are those happy days? They seem so hard to find. Been locked away so long I’ve forgotten my crime. Don’t know what time of day or what colour of clothes I’m wearing: I cannot decipher this arithmetic, and there ain’t nobody around to please; got unnatural feelings like a bad disease. My mind rides and slides as my circuits are fried. When I feel this way, I think I’m going crazy, so what can I do to make light of this dull, dull day? What switch can I pull to illuminate the way? Reality gone with a single click; I just hope that the switch won’t stick. I know I’m not alone; I know others with a box as their home, but I don’t know how to manufacture sturdy bones with a hairline fracture; a warm injection is all I need to calm the pain. Lets get unconscious, leave logic and reason to the arms of unconsciousness. Yes, I found a light in the tunnel at the end: this is a musical, and there’s always someone to catch me if I fall. For the longest time I’ve sat here trying to remember why do I love him so much? What kind of magic is this? How come I can’t help adore him? Why I’m floating… then the memory returns as the pain comes flooding. Still trapped in a box, with no room for thought: watch the world as it flocks to life’s paradox. This is not enough for a human to grow, so today is the last day that I’m using words, because they are useless, especially sentences: they don’t stand for anything. They’ve worn out, lost their meaning, and don’t function anymore; how can I explain how I feel? Trapped in a box, my life becomes void: all I thought for myself is now destroyed. Controlling my mind, what to eat, what to buy: subliminal rules, how to live, how to die. So imagine I was glad to hear you’re coming: suddenly I feel alright; when you’re near me, darling, can you save me, S.O.S! Why, he is my Lord, he is my Saviour, and he rewards my good behaviour. He is my light and my salvation; he’s always right, he’s always patient. It’s going to be so different when I’m on the stage tonight. Eligible, not too stupid: knowledgeable, but not always right; salvageable and free for the night. I pinch myself; it’s like I’m dreaming. There’ll be time enough for talk in the nursing home, darling; time enough to write an epic poem, and we can rock all day in rocking chairs of gold. There’ll be time enough for sex and drugs in heaven, when our pheromones are tuned up to eleven; tonight, we don’t have to be stars exploding in the night or electric eels under the covers; I think I’d rather just go dancing. All that you’ve ever learned, try to forget. I’ll never explain again.

People in Hell just want a drink of water

Mrs. Tinsley, intensely modest, sensitive and abhorring marital nakedness, suffered from nerves; she was distracted and fretted by shrill sounds as the screech of a chair leg scraping the floor or the pulling of a nail. As a girl in Missouri she had written a poem that began with the line “Our life is a beautiful Fairy Land.” Now she was mother to three. When the youngest girl, Mabel, was a few months old they made a journey into Laramie, the infant howling intolerably, the wagon bungling along, stones sliding beneath the wheels. As they crossed the Little Laramie Mrs. Tinsley stood up and hurled the crying infant into the water. The child’s white dress filled with air and it floated a few yards in the swift current, then disappeared beneath a bower of willows at the bend. The woman shrieked and made to leap after the child but Horm Tinsley held her back. They galloped across the bridge and to the river’s edge below the bend. Gone and gone.

As if to make up for her fit of destruction Mrs. Tinsley developed an intense anxiety for the safety of the surviving children, tying them to chairs in the kitchen lest they wander outside and come to harm, sending them to bed while the sun was still high for twilight was a dangerous time, warning them away from haystacks threaded with vipers, from trampling horses and biting dogs, the yellow Wyandottes who pecked, from the sound of thunder and the sight of lightening. In the night she came to their beds many times to learn if they had smothered.

People in Hell just want a drink of water, Close Range, Annie Proulx

19 February 2007


To speak in the third person might strike a gentle reader as odd, irritating, or a little cold, perhaps?

One first heard this antiquated style used by the Queen of England addressing her subjects, and you might imagine that a child growing up in a former colony didn’t appreciate her tone. It sounded forced; by association it was considered false, artificial and insincere.

In later years, one discovered that it also made an appearance in books written before one was born. In such cases, ‘one’ was used by those of propriety whenever referring to themselves, or alternatively to convey standards held by an imaginary upper-class member of society who must know exactly what ought to be done in any given situation. A moral imperative and a sense of superiority were implied, along with distain for whatever one was not, which helps understand why use of the term was reassuring for those who felt included and so provoking for those who did not.

Although perhaps ‘one’ is not quite so reassuring as it first appears, for its use necessarily implies the existnce of ‘them’ as well as ‘us’. What if you suffered from self doubt and weren’t sure to which group you belonged?

There is a certain distance implied whenever 'one' is used; certainly a distance from those who are not one, but also a certain distance from oneself. Whether the speaker is acknowledging a distance that already exists, or choosing to impose a distance, can often be implied by the context.

Returning to the Queen, arguably it was more honest and appropriate for her to acknowledge social and geographical distance by adopting a formal tone.

It is not so difficult to imagine why someone might want to impose a distance, whether between oneself and others, or oneself and one’s public persona. For some, it’s a form of self defence; keeping at a distance, or keeping things at a distance, can be a way to feel safer.

Another curious thing about ‘one’ is how unity and wholeness are suggested whenever the word appears. There is a tendency to speak of the individual's character, despite all contractions and idiosyncrasies, as forming a single complete whole… not something fractured or broken. There is a tendency to speak of a singular entity when reference is made to the ‘gay community’, which invokes a notion of a homogenous group, capable of being identified and represented.

So many interesting aspects to my much-used little word.

One… it is also the loneliest number that you’ll ever do; much, much worse than two.

It does have limitations, of course. I am perfectly aware of that. Let me assure you, no one speaks like this in the place where I grew up, and before returning, there are a few words that I would like to say.

Sincerely grateful to those who return to visit my humble bloguette, in particular those who have taken trouble of emailing or commenting on occasion, I would simply like to say... thank you for reading.

Well, it's too late tonight to drag the past out into the light

Did I disappoint you, or leave a bad taste in your mouth?
You act like you never had love, and you want me to go without

We're one, but we're not the same
We hurt each other, then we do it again

We're not the same
But we get to carry each other

One, U2, Achtung Baby 1991

Drole De Monde

A delight, gentle reader!

Cirque du Grand Celeste have extended their season of this until 4th March

If you are in Paris and need an excuse to laugh at yourself or others, it's well worth checking out

Laurent Drelon

Last Tuesday, Laurent Drelon (36 years old) presented a claim of discrimination because he was refused permission to donate blood.

On 16th November 2004, in response to a campaign asking the public to come forward and donate, he attended Saint Louis de Paris Hospital. He was given a health questionnaire to complete, following which he had an interview with a member of staff because of his refusal to complete a section detailing his sexual preferences. He replied that it related to his private life and the doctor concluded he was homosexual; he was refused permission.

On 9th August 2006, almost two years later, he decided to try again. This time, he ticked a box, indicating he was heterosexual. Staff challenged him, whereupon he was informed that a file existed allocating him a reference - ‘FR08’- which is a code used to signify ‘member of the gay community’

Director of Medical Science at EFS (l’Establissement francais du sang) defends the decision on the basis ‘the risk of HIV is about sixty time higher than the general population; because that poses a grave risk to patients, donation of blood by homosexual patients is refused.’

To rely on the fact that homosexual males are more likely to test HIV positive can hardly be a legitimate basis for what amounts to a discriminatory practice. Imagine the outcry if a sexist or racist employer relied upon statistical evidence showing a higher rate of crime among a particular minority or that women took more leave from the workplace to refuse consideration of job applications from that group

One assumes that all donated blood is thoroughly screened before use?

La Nuit Blanche

Gentle reader, exploring the streets of Paris by moonlight… what could possibly be more delightful?

On the night of the full moon in October, the city celebrates ‘La Nuit Blanche’ (The White Night) by keeping public museums open to midnight or beyond, with several private galleries and exhibition spaces open until 7am, all completely free of charge.

Concerts, contemporary dance, street theatre and art events are staged: many venues open impromptu café bars in their courtyards, serving mulled wines or hot chocolate.

One of the best ways to explore is by hiring a bicycle at one of the several locations set up around the city.

The result? An invigorating atmosphere with young and old alike…

...worth visiting for!

Sergi Lopez

How vexing!
Mr Sergi Lopez arrives in Paris to perform
a monologue at Theatre du Rond Point... just as one departs!

What classic movie are you?

And this is the result, gentle reader: surprisingly accurate, don't you think?

Although the head of a dead horse turns up in a stranger's bed halfway through... something to worry about?

18 February 2007

Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

One in four of the inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa lives in Nigeria. Most of the 130 million population live on less than 1 euro (1$ or UK 60p) per day; one in five children does not reach the age of five. A country with the largest oil reserves in Africa, it ought to be the powerhouse of the continent, yet for decades it has languished, paralysed by military dictatorship in a slump of corruption; and until 2003, it rejoiced in the unenviable reputation as the most corrupt place on earth.

But something has changed… for the better; not an awful lot, but something, thanks to a single woman, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Now 51, she had worked at the World Bank in Washington DC, U.S.A. as an economist, where she lived for 20 years along with her husband and children. But in 2003, under a UN scheme designed to repatriate Africa's best brains to help resolve economic problems on the continent, she took charge of the finances of Nigeria.

Predictably, Mrs Ngozi saw corruption as her number one problem, with the worst sector undoubtedly the oil industry. She must have been daunted at the task before her, but something had to be done; talking in vague terms about making a change wasn't going to work.

For those who prefer vague terms, one suggests leaping to the next posting.

Mrs Ngozi’s first move was to get President Olusegun Obasanjo to sign up to an international scheme called the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative - under which oil and other companies agreed to publish what they pay.

Her next move was to ensure that the government opened their accounts for inspection by voters; she also audited the oil sector and put the results on the internet to reveal exactly how much the country produced and earned.

Then, in 2004, she gathered all of these detailed figures, breaking them down to what the federal government paid to each regional state and published this in Nigeria's national newspapers.

What did all of this achieve, gentle reader?

Transparency… information flowing freely, available to all members of society… accountability.

To illustrate: if the local hospital in village x receives four annual instalments of y$, it’s no longer possible to persuade villagers that the local hospital is so under-resourced by the central government that they cannot provide services.

That is why she has made so much information public. Availability of these figures became so popular that the President ordered they be published in a volume every year; column after column of figures, it must be the most boring best-seller every produced.

Mrs Ngozi also identified another key anti-corruption area - government contracts, costing almost five times as much as those in neighbouring countries. So she set up a unit known as Due Process to audit value for money on those contracts; it saved Nigeria the equivalent of $3bn in three years.

One of the other things she did was to remove the link between government spending and oil revenues. She based her 2004 budget on a very conservative oil price - $25 a barrel, when the price was actually more than $40- and she then announced to Nigerians how much she had saved each quarter.

Then there is the small print, as it were: she privatised loss-making steel plants and removed restrictions on telecoms, producing an increase from just 450,000 landlines to 16 million. She reduced import tariffs. She increased civil servants' pay but slashed their perks. She introduced reforms in banking, insurance, pensions, income tax and foreign exchange.

All of which doubled economic growth in Nigeria to an average of 7.6%, cut inflation from 23% to 11%, and achieved exchange-rate stability.

Not least of these achievements was the deal Mrs Ngozi secured to get $18bn of Nigeria's $30bn debt wiped away. In the past, the country was excluded from all debt deals because of its oil, but Mrs Ngozi argued with the rich world's finance ministers that while an oil-rich nation, Nigeria was not a rich nation, but rather a poor nation. In an unprecedented deal, she persuaded them to allow her invest billions that should have been used for service payments in health, education, power and water programmes.

All this has made our friend Mrs Ngozi powerful enemies. A smear campaign was launched to discredit her, implying that the fact she continued to be paid her old salary (by the UN, please note; that is how the transfer scheme operated) was improper, claiming that she bought herself a swanky house in Washington D.C. with ill-gotten gains she acquired as Finance Minister (in fact, she had owned that house while at the World Bank; details of her mortgage were publicly available) There were wilfully dishonest attacks on the internet, which included printing her home address, where her husband and children continued to live (she sees them for only a few days each month) Her family received death threats, gentle reader… from other Nigerians, after all that she had done.

Mrs Ngozi remained undeterred. So passionate was she about staying the course, last year she gave up the $240,000 salary and now earns $6,000 like other Nigerian ministers; two of her children, whose tuition fees she was paying, dropped out of college to make it possible.

And given her solid reputation, the smear allegations didn't take.

Across Africa many are again looking to Nigeria to become what, four decades ago, it was predicted to be - the giant economy of the continent. Of course, the danger is her reforms will be set aside when she leaves office, but now there is an appetite for openness, it will be hard to stop the information flow.

Transparency… information flowing freely, available to all members of society… accountability.

When people know what is happening, it’s harder to get away with injustice. The internet is a great ally in our fight; provided people make a choice to remain informed and do something about what they find out, free-flowing information enables individuals to make a real difference to help improve respect for human rights around the world.

How? Accountability… by shouting and screaming at the appropriate body of officials.

Individual people can make a difference, as Mrs Ngozi proves…

… and so can we, gentle reader.

So read the next posting.


Nigeria Fails Obligations to Fundamental Human Rights

Nigeria’s criminal code (chapter 42, section 214) penalizes consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex; the penalty stands at fourteen years’ imprisonment, while Sharia penal codes (since 1999 introduced to northern Nigeria where the population is largely Muslim) continue to criminalize what is termed “sodomy"

Laws criminalizing homosexuality act as a licence for torture and ill-treatment. Amnesty International considers the use of ‘sodomy’ laws to imprison individuals for consensual same-sex relations in private to be a grave violation of human rights, including the rights to privacy, freedom from discrimination, freedom of expression and association, all of which are protected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Nigerian Federal government is considering new legislation that, if passed, will bring further criminal penalties in contravention of Nigeria’s obligations under international and regional human rights law.

On 19 January 2006, Minister of Justice Bayo Ojo proposed legislation to the Federal Executive Council, with broad sweeping provisions that could lead to the imprisonment of individuals solely for their actual or imputed sexual orientation, and for a number of other reasons, including consensual sexual relations in private, public expression of their sexual identity, or public advocacy in support of the rights of lesbian and gay people. It would introduce five years imprisonment for any person who "goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex" or "performs, witnesses, aids or abets the ceremony of same sex marriage." And if that is not shocking enough, the law would provide five years imprisonment for any person who "is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private." The draft bill also prohibits the registration of gay organizations, any public display of a "same sex amorous relationship," and adoption of children by lesbian or gay couples or individuals. In addition, it would invalidate same sex relationship formally entered into or recognized in foreign jurisdictions.

The bill already received its first reading in the Nigerian Senate on 11 April 2006 at which the provisions were widened further still. It is now proposed that any individual who witness, celebrates with or supports couples involved in same-sex relationships would also be subject to a prison term.

Reinforcing the existing provisions with new legislation displays an intent to intensify prejudice based on sexual orientation. By criminalizing acts of peaceful expression or association in defense of LGBT rights, the bill would strike at the fundamental freedoms enjoyed by all individuals in Nigeria’s long-vigorous civil society. By institutionalizing discrimination, these laws act as an official incitement to violence against lesbians and gay men in the community as a whole, whether in police custody or prison, on the street or in the home.

Even before the bill has been passed or even submitted to the National Assembly for consideration, reports from human rights activists in Nigeria suggest that some individuals are already interpreting the draft legislation as a signal that the government will not prosecute people who assault or otherwise intimidate LGBT individuals, which may lead to a situation of impunity for attacks on LGBT individuals.

This bill would also impede effective HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in Nigeria. While the prevailing pattern of HIV transmission, as elsewhere in the continent, is overwhelmingly heterosexual, the government will damage its own prevention efforts by driving populations already suffering stigma for their sexual conduct still further underground – not only making it more difficult for outreach and education efforts to reach them, but potentially criminalizing civil society groups engaged in that vital work. (For what it’s worth, Nigeria’s AIDS prevention programs have previously been criticised by their neglect of the particular risks facing men who have sex with men)

Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation contradicts fundamental freedoms under the Nigerian Constitution and is prohibited under other international human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.

  • The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights affirms the equality of all people, with Article 2 stating: "Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status." Further, Article 3 guarantees every individual equality before the law, and Article 26 prescribes that "Every individual shall have the duty to respect and consider his fellow beings without discrimination, and to maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance."
  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Nigeria acceded without reservations in 1993, protects the rights to freedom of expression (article 19), freedom of conscience (article 18), freedom of assembly (article 21) and freedom of association (article 22). It affirms the equality of all people before the law and the right to freedom from discrimination in articles 2 and 26.

States cannot curtail the enjoyment of human rights on the basis of sexual orientation: the UN Human Rights Committee has urged states not only to repeal laws criminalizing homosexuality but also to enshrine the prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation into their constitutions or other fundamental laws.

This proposed legislation is contrary to Nigeria’s obligations to all people in Nigeria. It not only contravenes internationally recognized protections against discrimination, rights to freedom of expression, conscience, association, and assembly, but also undermines the struggle to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. Under international human rights law, the country has the obligation to respect, promote and protect the human rights of its population, without distinction of any kind.


Transparency… information flowing freely, available to all members of society… accountability.

Gentle readers, in the knowledge this is happening, to remain silent is to be complicit. All of this information is available on Amnesty International's website, but the email feature to send your complaint has not been updated; please consider sending a letter, in English or your own language, to the appropriate authorities. (In addition to the President, there are several other figures that it will help to lobby: addresses here)

For your convenience, one provides a sample letter (based upon AI suggested format) Please adapt to your own style, particularly if you have any relevant personal connection with Nigeria, as it lends a certain persuasiveness to your concern

Open letter... to His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo

His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo
President of the Republic
The Presidency
Aso Rock

Dear President Obasanjo,

Nigeria – Failure to honour fundamental Human Rights obligations

I am a insert personal information; gender/age/profession/race if you will, presently living in location.

Reason for interest: eg. In recent years, having travelled on several occasions to Africa, I follow international news coverage of events in Nigeria.

Like many international observers, I have been greatly impressed by improvements and progress made under your government, particularly economic reforms to combat corruption introduced by one of your apointees, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Across the continent and around the world many look to Nigeria, anticipating the country will become the most powerful economy of the continent; the example set by your government is an important one.

I write to express concern that your government proposes legislation that will move Nigeria backwards, failing to protect a vulnerable minority in your own country and damaging your own government’s international standing, by discrimnating against people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered.

As you are no doubt aware, the majority of countries in the world have decriminalised homosexuality. All people are equal, and I believe that all governments are obligated to ensure that the human rights of every individual are fully respected, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Laws that criminalise homosexuality act as a licence for discrimination, torture and ill-treatment; the proposed legislation introduced by Minister of Justice Bayo Ojo give official sanction to this behaviour.

I urge your government to act in accordance with Nigeria’s obligations under international and regional human rights law and withdraw this bill. In addition, I ask you to consider repealing Chapter 42 (section 214) of the Nigerian criminal code, and equivalent provisions in the Sharia penal code, to decriminalise homosexuality in line with international human rights standards.

Your government is obligated to ensure that the human rights of every individual in Nigeria are fully respected, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. potentially criminalises not only gay men, lesbians and bisexual people in same-sex relationships, but is vague enough to permit the prosecution of individuals for activities such as campaigning for LGBT rights or anyone providing sexual health information or services. No-one should be imprisoned or detained solely for their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity for sexual relations in private between consenting adults, or for advocating LGBT rights.

Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation contradicts fundamental freedoms under the Nigerian Constitution and it is also prohibited under other international human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party, in particular the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which affirm the equality of all people.

The proposed legislation could be used to prosecute individuals who are campaigning for this law to be reformed or providing sexual health information or services; this is clearly unjust and detrimental to civil liberties. In particular, it would also impede effective HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in Nigeria, damaging your government’s own work by driving populations already suffering stigma for their sexual conduct further underground, not only making it more difficult for outreach and education efforts to reach them, but potentially criminalising civil society groups engaged in that vital work.

I further call on you to publicly commit to ensuring that national, state and local laws prohibit all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Anyone imprisoned or detained solely for their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity should be released immediately and unconditionally, including those detained for consensual sexual relations in private between adults and those held for advocating LGBT rights.

Thank you for your consideration of this letter. I would be very grateful for any response to the concerns I have raised.


17 February 2007

Ni hao, China!

Bejing, Xian, Mudanjiang, Changsha, Jinan, Anqing, Zhongxiang... regular and irregular daily visitors from all... One confesses it is intriguing! Admittedly, one spent two months travelling in your fabulous country, but one didn't even have sexual intercourse with THAT many gay gentlemen!

While appreciating that in a population so large, it is inevitable that there will be some discerning gay gentlemen who appreciate my unique take on the world, can any of you please shed light upon what draws so many Chinese people to my humble bloguette?

My first worst sexual experience

One hardly knows whether to thank or blame JoeMyGod for encouraging one to cast a backward glance and consider what was one's worst sexual experience.

One of the first things it brought to mind was a friend of mine called A, who kept an encyclopaedia on STDs on her bedside locker, to eliminate the risk of failing to practice safer sex (an effective device for those who find it difficult to change unhealthy behaviour and discuss putting on a condom) For if there is anything more unpleasant than contemplation of a photograph of someone with genital warts or syphillis, it is one's worst sexual experience... quite guaranteed to kill the mood. One does reccommend this tactic whenever someone finds oneself on a date that is going nowhere.

But you want to hear about one's own worst sexual experience, one expects? Very well.

On 1st January 1992, aged 20, shit together in many respects- completing a University degree; good grades; working to support oneself; sociable, likeable, devastatingly handsome, but acutely aware that one had not accepted one’s homosexuality- one made a resolution to change one's life... for the better, obviously.

Despite living in the Republic of Ireland's third largest city, there was no place where gay gentlemen and lesbian ladies gathered to socialize, so one’s options were limited.

Answering an advertisement of a personal nature in Hot Press (to anyone fortunate enough not to be familiar with Ireland, that is a music magazine; the only publication in the country that carried such advertisements, at the time) one corresponded with a gay gentleman who was resident in the capital city. His name was Paul, a gay gentleman in his early 30s which I considered positively over the hill.

One remembers little about our correspondence, except that I didn't like his tiny spindly hand-writing, and yet one still looked forward to receiving each letter.

Paul sounded sane, so I considered him to be a rare find among those with homosexual tendancies, and so I (insanely) agreed to travel to meet him, making arrangements which inevitably involved spending the night.

No photo had been exchanged, there had been no discussion of what could or could not happen... nothing!

One lied to all friends and family about where one was going on Friday February 13th (ominous date, I know) and arrived outside Connolly train station on a typically dark grim night, the city smelling as miserable as it always does and always will, with rain spitting down... as you would expect. Arriving early, one was not yet nervous, although one certainly wasn't excited, sexually or otherwise. Already, call it a sixth sense preminition if you will, one had a sense of being on the verge of doing something that one had to get out of the way and move on from.

Paul arrived wearing a green bomber jacket. He was short, balding and had a mangy beard. Suffice to say, we recognised one another at once.

After we spoke for a few minutes (he had a slight and effeminate voice that one didn't like at all) one realised that if attraction could be measured on a numerical scale, mine registered in the minus figures.

Gentle reader, do not expect this anecdote to explain what possessed me: that comes with an understanding of twenty years of past-life, not to mention hundreds of years of gay repression in my country.

One cannot altogether blame Paul, for although he had plenty of experience before that miserable night and he knew my own circumstances, he had also grown up in the same fucked-over country, and he had a problem of his own, so one makes allowances for him on the basis that he didn't twist my arm much.

Yet in his shoes, it must be said that things would have been different: one would have sensed reticence in the other, younger, more vulnerable person and not allowed things to go any further.

Which they did, sadly.

Few first sexual experiences are pleasant, from what I've been told. In my own case, it was nothing more than clumsy half-hearted mutual masturbation, so it could have been more scarring and unpleasant than it was.

When Paul undressed, it was the first time one had ever seen another man naked. Erect, his penis measured smaller than one’s thumb, perhaps the size of a champagne cork; one genuinely didn’t know quite how abnormal it was. One felt like a freak of nature by comparison.

At that stage in my development, one had never fantasised about kissing a man; it wasn't a simple question of "that's something you can't do with another gentleman", it was something so far beyond the realms of possibility that it wasn't even possible for me to imagine. So one never kissed him, or any part of his body. Masturbating with another man's naked body was the full extent of my fantasy, so that's what we did together. Suffice to say, that it wasn't a fantasy fulfilled.

One could tell you so much more... if only you didn't want to know.

But to end upon a positive note, one spent the remainder of that night, and all of the following morning, happier than one can ever describe.

For the next morning, not only was it liberating to be out of that room, not only had one proved to oneself (yet again) that one could suffer just about any pain or degradation without letting else anyone know how I felt... one was happy to find oneself in the safe and loving arms of a bittersweet delusion.

For you see, at some point that dreadful night- for which one was responsible- one had convinced oneself that this all meant one had been mistaken. For in my understanding, a gay gentleman was a sexual creature capable of enjoying any sexual contact with another gentleman, while I'd hated every excruciating moment of my experience, therefore one couldn't possibly be what one most dreaded that one was.

How fucked up is all of that, gentle reader?

Beyond a doubt, that was my worst sexual experience... and however unpleasant things get in the future, one believes it will never be surpassed.

16 February 2007

Worst sexual experience 2 - on a lighter note!

Still innocent and naïve, the summer of 1994 was spent in the great and pleasant land where the majority of my own gentle readers reside.

Possession of a finely-tuned Irish accent made seduction of the local gay gentleman easier than usual, and given one worked as a bar-back at a gay venue called Napoleons in Boston, MA (one anticipates a cult following, after revealing that) one had plenty of opportunities.

By far the worst of my disappointing sexual experiences that summer involved a handsome gay gentleman named Ken, who invited me back to his admittedly fabulous apartment and offered to share himself in a king-size bed, replete with a giant mirrored headboard, neither of which would have been out of place in a Southern bordello before the civil war.

When our sexual interaction commenced, one was distracted and perturbed by his insistence on talking on and on… and given Irish people- oneself included- have a tendency to while saying nothing at all, this really was rather a lot.

Most of his enquiries pertained to one’s schooling; had one attended an all-boy’s school? (no, one had not) were there other boys in my school? (yes, there were) did we wear a uniform? (yes, a drab nasty thing) had we gotten changed together before and after playing sports? (yes, we had) had one fantasised about fucking those other boys? (er… no, one most certainly had not)

Suffice to say, all the while Ken was indulging in fantasies about having sex with an admittedly young and boyish-looking gay gentleman, he kept checking his own appearance in the mirrored headboard. One quickly realised what was going on.

Despite one's own desperate need for a little man on man action, there was no alternative: one pointed out that his little fantasies were just that - his fantasies - and had no relation to the person he had invited back to his fabulous apartment. They were best enjoyed in the pleasure of his own company and his mirror, since this exchange involved offering me no pleasure whatsoever, and so one duly left.

Worst Sexual Experience 3 - The bigger, the better

You ain't a baby no more, baby
You aint no bigger than before
I'll rub that cheap gack off your lips, baby; take a swallow, as I spit

My skin tonight is a blazing, baby
But I don't think you're my type
What I need tonight's the real thing; I need the real thing tonight

The bigger, the better?

Bang, bang, bang -the bigger, the better
Yeah yeah yeah

Oh, come on

As a fuck... son, you sucked

Bang, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, 2001

No longer innocent, but still somewhat naïve, one also recalls a sexual encounter from 1998, pissed as a newt in a gay venue called ‘Midnight Shift’ on Oxford Street, Sydney, Australia.

A gay gentleman spent a long time with his hand inside my trousers before we went back to my place for an intimate exchange: one hasn’t realised quite why this man was so interested in the contents of my trousers (well, one expected a certain degree of interest, but really with so much more on offer, such obsessive behaviour seemed inappropriate)

Suffice to say, and it would have been obvious to anyone with experience who was not inebriated, this gentleman was a size queen- not something one approves, not something one finds repugnant... except when a gay gentleman allows this single physical attribute to exclude of all other considerations, which is quite puerile.

It has to be said that his own appendage was distressingly oversized. But bigger is not necessarily better, gentle reader: whale sharks do not impress me any more than the goby Trimmatom nanus. Somewhat old-fashioned in one’s ideas about what is attractive in other gay gentleman, one has never been impressed - or put off- by size or girth alone.

Granted, one had invited the gay gentleman back to my place for the most superficial of reasons, but one had certainly not invited him back to do nothing more than wonder over the size of my cock and wonder over the size of his. One expected something more... so did he, but we were not expecting the same things. He wanted to re-enact porn; and that was all very well and good, but one expected to be treated like a human being, with a little respect, preferably with a social interaction before, during and after.

When this gay gentleman discovered that on a first night, one had no intention of letting anything that didn’t fit comfortably inside one’s mouth anywhere else, he became rather impolite… rude… aggressive, even.

Before one had a chance to tell him to leave, he left.

Worst sexual experience 4 - Last but not least!

After a period of self-enforced abstinence (a two year relationship, a one year hiatus while backpacking in Asia) one returned to Europe and started to make up for lost time, while residing in London.

Attending a gay venue for Popstarz (the last night of before it moved to La Scala) one found oneself dancing in close proximity to a couple of attractive gay gentlemen, who at first appeared to be a couple, but then appeared not to be a couple, who also appeared to be flirting with me.

Confused, one waited until approached at the bar, by the shorter of the two gentlemen (who happened to be, in my humble opinion, the more desirable of the two)

It transpired G & M had been a couple, and while no longer together, occasionally they invited people to join them for a threesome.

One had partaken of such arrangements in the past, but one expressed a genuine disinterest in a threesome, while admitting that one found both of the individuals concerned attractive, G in particular.

G seemed pleased at this news, and in due course we departed for a night of violent lovemaking at his fabulous apartment. Suffice to say, we were both so inebriated that upon arrival (it was almost dawn) we both amused ourselves by kissing and touching, with no significant bodily fluids exchanged. We made up for that early the following afternoon, with jets of steam rising from underneath the navy-coloured sheets (a significant detail, gentle reader; unlike that detail about the threesome, which although perfectly true is quite insignificant, undoubtedly included because of my own insecurities about remaining single) and after a long, vigorous and pleasurable session of mutual masturbation, we came simultaneously in a darkened room, with most of our respective bodies hidden.

Upon rising to refresh oneself, one discovered… to my great consternation, a bloodbath. Further investigation revealed that my hand, my torso, my sexual organ, G, the sheets, the mattress… everything was covered in fresh blood. For a brief moment, it seemed one or both of us had been ejaculating the substance.

But then, to my great distress, one discovered that in the course of vigorous masturbation, a tear had appeared where my foreskin was attached to the head of my exquisitely formed sexual organ (while strangely sensitive, it did not hurt) and although at first it seemed inconceivable that such a tiny cut was capable of producing so much blood, so it was.

Apologising profusely, one rushed to the bathroom… incapable of coherent speech.

Imagining the cleanup operation taking place in the next room, one felt mortified and distressed, and not only that; in the circumstances, one imagined that G would be –understandably- quite traumatised by the whole affair, and find it difficult to imagine a renewal of sexual activity with oneself in the future.

But in fact, G handled the situation with aplomb (a credit to upbringing, if you ask me)

When one emerged from the bathroom one found he had made me a nice cup of tea (with sugar, quite necessary after such a great blood loss, he assured me) and we had a very late breakfast together, laughing about the whole experience.

One duly invited him to dinner, by way of an apology… and so it was that we dated for two months, until the affair reached a pleasant and natural end.

So you see, gentle readers, one can find something of beauty, and not just a story, even in the worst of one’s sexual experience! Never let it be said that one considers a half-full glass to be half-empty... while waiting for it to be topped up.

A new saviour is born?

Madonna wants to be like Gandhi?

Who does that old fraud think she is fooling?

Does she mean Indira? Presiding over a third world country while she lives in unabashed luxury?

No, it's Mahatma, apparently: obviously, La Cicada fancies a new look with sandals, spectacles and a wrap-around white sheet... sorry to disappoint, but Mama Teresa already beat you to it.

Never mind, though: if you really want to try, why not make a start by donating all of your wealth to the world's poor and needy... then one might stop pissing oneself with laughter about your latest publicity stunt, perhaps the most pathetic and desperate of your career.

Did she actually have the gall to say on live radio (Sirius Radio in the US) "I want to be like Gandhi and Martin Luther King and John Lennon... but I want to stay alive." Well, she can't be accused of guile!

Oddly enough, one finds credible another part of the interview where she adds "For me, the best thing in the world is to see something or hear something and go 'damn, I wish I did that, damn, I wish I could do that."

See something like acting? Or hear something like a voice singing in harmony, perhaps?

But it got worse! For that was not all the Material Girl had to share in order to enlighten us. She followed this pile of horseshit with the following remark (clearly, she has been reading my bloguette, and intended to get on my delicate nerves)

"We all need to be Jesus."

Er, I beg your pardon, but don't you mean SNOG a statue of Jesus in a music video to promote an album?

No, apparently:

"We all need to BE Jesus.... we all need to be Jesus in our time... Jesus' message was to love your neighbour as yourself"

Amen... and thank you for sharing your profound insights with us all. One must suppose you're the next best thing to Jesus, if you're Madonna. How many comings have you had? No, that's not what I mean, you dirty old tart... I mean incarnations, of a non-immaculate nature... oh, never mind! For those of you retching, in lieu of the nearest available sickbag, one reccommends a Madonna album sleeve... and still she went rambling on:

"I'd like to think I am taking people on a journey... not just entertaining people, but giving them something to think about when they leave."

One isn't surprised that she'd LIKE to think she's entertaining... and as for her audience, those capable of thought after listening to her shriek are probably wondering what the hell they were thinking, paying so much money to watch a 48 year old has-been in jodhpurs, slithering on a greasy pole.

To conclude, in another interview with People online, La Cicada sucked up to the gay league... or, as this intrepid journalist described it, "shed light on her friendships with gay (gentle)men"

"Gay men are... perfect men for girls who are tough. They're not threatened by strong women, and they're usually very in touch with their feelings and pay attention to details. I've always had an affinity with gay men."

Careful attention to details, but not lyrics; and sadly, many have never been very discerning when it came to recognition of musical talent. But they are renouned for having a sense of humour and being able to recognise a cheap attempt to win them over. Surely -please, somebody- the gay league are able to recognise this for what it is, and have sent out a hit squad to smash the new Messiah's glitterball, before this gets any worse?

Christian Hatred 10

Oh, yeaaa!
Yeaaa! Yeaaa! Yeaaa!
Look, boys and girls... come look at this!
They've made it really nice and simple... for really sick kids, like me

Christian Hatred 9

A Calling Card from a Christian, gentle reader!

What? You expected one to reject publication of a perfectly good Calling Card? Good heavens, no! It is a form of attention, after all… what one craves most. And as I keep repeating, there is nothing quite so satisfying as a love/hate relationship with one’s audience.

It has come from someone who is 100% Catholic, apparently. How intriguing! One wonders if one starts life as a 0% Catholic baby, leaping to a full 100% upon baptism and later losing percentage points along the way, although of course your score can be topped up with a visit to confessional. Or perhaps a child only achieves 100% after several years of indoctrination, when hormones finally kick in and (s)he is capable of actually appreciating what it’s all about? Or then again, maybe you have to sin and repent in order to achieve a full score?

One ought to ‘respect all religions’, apparently. Well, one certainly hopes my 100% Catholic reader does not respect all religions! If so, (s)he hasn’t been paying attention to the literal interpretation of the second commandment: since those who make a free choice to worship other Gods are sinning, surely it follows that it is wrong to respect their decision?

More importantly, this Calling Card implies that someone has not been paying careful attention to ALL of the postings upon my bloguette… no, one most certainly does not respect all religions; in fact, one does not respect any religions; as even an undiscerning reader ought to have noticed, none of the religions respect gay gentlemen; and even if they did, one would continue to pour scorn, for reasons to do with the misogynistic creed of such religions, their lack of reason, and their inherent philosophical weakness.

And yes, for the record, one does have a tendancy to overreact to an innocent comment from a Catholic: one does have a large chip upon one’s shoulder… how very observant of you and how incredibly kind of you to enquire if you might assist with its removal! However, one is perfectly used to the weight and quite comfortable carrying that large chip around, thank you very much; therefore, gentle readers, be advised to resign yourselves to a particular disrespect of all things Catholic: forgive me if you can, but one is always agitated and outraged to recall how the Catholic Church was complicit to the Nazis in order to remain active in Germany, turning a blind eye to the six million people sent to concentration camps in the Second World War- mostly Jews, but including other vulnerable minority groups, such as those who were disabled, those of a different ethnic background, and gay gentlemen and lesbian ladies – not to mention how the Catholic Church continues to advocate a policy on condom use that contributes to the spread of a preventable epidemic in Africa, another holocaust that no one seems to care about.

But, of course, none of that will make any difference to a 100% believer: there is no reasoning with a religious individual, for they have faith, which by definition is to believe without reason. Perhaps that’s the most annoying thing about those who are so blessed, their ability to believe what is unbelievable; in the absence of good grounds for belief, any old grounds at all will do.

Which must explain why they persist in ignorant refusal to do a teeny little bit of research on their own religion… even when relevant information appears on an offending bloguette. For who needs to understand facts about religion to believe?

Nevertheless (sigh) one does suggest that anyone aspiring to be a 100% practitioner of any religion looks at the history of all religious texts relied upon to justify particular beliefs- they are so often misquoted- before looking at the history of the religious institutions themselves… just to ensure that one’s high percentage score can never be disputed. And if research should reveal that your own religion’s beliefs and practices have changed over history at the convenience of those with power, or that those who preach often do not practice, do not feel unduly concerned: this useful exercise serves to demonstrate a hypocrisy inherent in all religious institutions, and practitioners who associate with them, something of which a well-informed 100% practitioner must already be aware.

One confesses that it thrills and delights me to think that in the ever-expanding internet, almost a microcosm of the universe itself, the existence of my own little bloguette- barely a speck of existence- is an upset to Christians who already have so many little specks of their own. Indeed, one never ceases to be amazed at how faith drives them on in the hope of obliterating all dissenting specks, in the misguided belief that one day, everyone in the universe will come to look at things their way.

If you’re still out there, gentle 100% Catholic reader, please feel tempted to retort with a naïve statement such as ‘but you’re focusing upon all of the negative aspects of religion, when there are so many positive aspects that makes the whole world a better place’

Bearing in mind, as far as you are concerned, we are discussing a religion based upon the notion of a benevolent God who creates mankind with an inherent design flaw, so that mankind must feel guilty and suffer for enjoying all of the beautiful things created; a religion that offers limited roles to half of the world’s population- on a pedestal as a virgin, or down in the gutter as a temptress/whore; a religion that throughout history, incites such fervour in practitioners that it is responsible for- and continues to justify- social repression, censorship, colonisation, torturous inquisition and war.

Having gotten that off my chest, one does hope my Christian readership is not dissuaded, for one does so enjoy receipt of their Calling Cards…

Although one must add it’s much more diverting when the Jehovah Witnesses call to the penthouse: turning down the lights and throwing on a dark satin cloak, one fetches a sharp kitchen implement and slips on a recording of a goat bleating in anxiety before tiptoeing to the front door.

“Excuse me, can we interest you in a copy of The Watchtower?”

“No,” one cackles. “Satan is my master!”

Why, it makes their little eyes pop out every time… bless!