27 April 2007

Say it with flowers

Never mind worrying if there is enough fruit in your childs diet... are there enough narcissus?
Mr P Morressey addresses the nation's youth

26 April 2007

King of the Child Frontier

Mr Ant helps enlighten a generation of British children
on make-up and cross-dressing, animal imagery and symbolism,
not to mention how economic recession
impacts upon the fine arts

25 April 2007

Moulin Rouge

...sublime dashed to pieces by cutting too close with
the fiery four-in-hand round the corner of nonsense...

24 April 2007


Yes, he does look cute, gentle reader, but what a bizarre arrangement in the background, and what is it he sits upon? At his age, it cannot possibly be a... what is the politically correct term? A toilet trainer? A receptacle for infant unpleasantness? A potty?

One considers he is a bit young for this, and certainly too young to be expected to remove their own pants! Why, X experienced difficulty unbuttoning his own jeans well into his thirties ( he also experienced difficulty standing upright after he'd been out drinking) one has fond memories of a particular night when he collapsed on my bed at dawn, incapable of movement but capable of pleading to help him undress and engage in violent love-making. It was quite hilarious, gentle reader... no, really!

In any case, returning to the embarrasing moment at hand; what is my best friend thinking, placing a potty on the kitchen table- it can't be hygenic! And does she want this child to develop vertigo? Don't get me started on that table cloth; can there be such a thing as curtain material it doesn't clash horribly with? What kind of colour sense is the poor child going to have, hmmn?

Imagine what the neighbours or the family will think, calling around for a nice cup of tea only to find... perhaps this explains everything; it's an avoidance strategem!

Alternatively, perhaps it's some new-age fad: associate natural bodily functions with performance on a stage, applaud upon delivery... Well, some conceptual artists made a living from that kind of thing in the last century, but one cannot have my namesake becoming a 21st century Leigh Bowery... one hates being upstaged!

Cardigans are sexy

I've half a mind to tumble down to prose
But verse is more in fashion - so here goes

One can instinctively accessorise
By living, set new trends : to my surprise
Under my patronage, the beloved cardigan
Becomes the height of fashion once again
Proving good taste better than bad taste
And bad taste preferable to no taste

Gentle reader, this month one aims to achieve a Renaissance in fine art and poetry

23 April 2007

Your next bold move

Coming of age during the plague of Reagan and Bush,
watching capitalism gun down democracy
It had this funny effect on me, I guess

I am cancer; I am HIV; and I'm down at the Blue Jesus Blue Cross Hospital
just lookin' up from my pillow, feeling blessed

The mighty multinationals have monopolized the oxygen
so it's as easy as breathing for us all to participate:
yes, they're buying and selling off shares of air
and you know it's all around you, but it's hard to point and say "there"
so you just sit on your hands and quietly contemplate
your next bold move
the next thing you're gonna need to prove to yourself

What a waste of thumbs that are opposable
to make machines that are disposable
and sell them to seagulls flying in circles around one big right wing

For the left wing was broken long ago by the slingshot of Co-intel-pro
and now it's so hard to have faith in anything,
especially your next bold move
or the next thing you're gonna need to prove to yourself

You want to track each trickle back to its source
and then scream up the faucet 'til your face is hoarse
becausee you're surrounded by a world's worth of things you just can't excuse;
but you've got the hard cough of a chain smoker
and you're at the Arctic circle playing strip poker
and it's getting colder and colder everytime you lose

So go ahead; make your next bold move.
Tell us, what's the next thing you're gonna need to prove to yourself?

Your Next Bold Move, Revelling/Reckoning, Ani Di Franco (2001)

22 April 2007

Sego... Sarko... it must stop!

Anyone prepared to run for President should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so. If experience teaches us anything at all, it is this; a good politician, under democracy, is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar. In fact, political parties ought to be outlawed on the basis that, like football matches, and other team sporting events held in stadiums, they attract the least desirable members of society. Being a politician is quite like being a footballer, come to think of it; you’re required to be smart enough to understand the game, but have to be stupid enough to think it’s important.

Admittedly extremist notions… so it wouldn’t be at all surprising to find some of you urging me to stand-in as a replacement candidate for Mr Sarkozy in the French Presidential election. (Why not, indeed... for it does seem anyone can get themselves elected as a President nowadays)

One trusts you have all been following the first round voting in the French Presidential elections, gentle reader? It is important to engage with what is happening in the world around us; one considers activism as a rent paid for the privilege of living on this planet, hence my deciding to share my thoughts on what has been happening in France… an idiots guide, as it were.

One has been introduced to the current state of affairs in this country by my good friend G: all his adult life, he has been an active member of the Socialist party. It was through him one first became acquainted with Ms Segolene Royale, earlier this year when she was still being considered as a candidate for nomination.

Instead of repeating his lengthy discourse on the respective skills and experience of the three candidates put forward by the Socialist party, suffice to say that in G's considered view, Ms Royale was the least capable of those on offer… and yet, it appeared, the most likely candidate to lead the Socialist party to victory in a national election. This might strike those of you unfamiliar with the world of politics as paradoxical; but if you bear in mind that in recent times all politics have been based on the indifference of the majority and the cult of celebrity, you will follow his reasoning.

For you see, the leading opposition candidates for the Presidency were likely to be middle-aged or elderly male gentlemen; the other prospective candidates from the Socialist party were both elderly male gentlemen, which meant that if selected Ms Royale would have the distinct advantage of being the first female candidate for the position, with the additional advantages of being young and photogenic. In itself, this would generate media interest capable of buoying her campaign, as likely to get her elected as ability, which has fallen out of fashion, it appears.

While G recognised the symbolic importance of having a female head of state- something he viewed as a positive, let me assure you- from the outset he was troubled by Ms Royale’s socialist credentials... or lack thereof. She blatantly styled her campaign on the New Labour approach that brought Mr Blair to victory in the United Kingdom (try shouting his 1997 soundbyte 'Education, Education, Education' with a French accent, and you have her favourite battle cry) a tactic which must pose a legitimate concern for any true socialist. Another worry was the lack of ideology, and the depth of her commitment to any issue, in particular gay rights and social justice for minority groups: to illustrate, until a year ago Ms Royale had been ‘pro-family values’ in the conservative sense; not at all gay-friendly, before ‘having a sudden change of heart,’ or as those cynics among you might remark, changing tack when she realised this position would marginalise a subgroup of prospective supporters.

Despite those grave concerns, in recognition of the importance of uniting behind one candidate (avoiding fractious divisive in-fighting which ordinarily occurs, diminishing the chance of a socialist candidate wining) G cast his vote for Ms Royale. That might surprise you... but gentle reader, kindly appreciate there is a serious risk of France electing a dangerous little victim-bashing, immigrant-expelling, minority-hating, authoritarian extremist by the name of Mr Nicolas Sarkozy as their next President; in such circumstances, with no other candidate with any real prospect of challenging him, who would you vote for?

Every politician is emphatically a promising politician, and at the outset Ms Royale appeared to be competent as her rivals when it came to the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich by promising to protect each from the other. Intent upon following her progress, one tried to engage by reading publicity materials and her manifesto en francais only to find it was quite impossible to make any sense of what was being said. On more than one occasion, having looked up particular words in a dictionary, the actual meaning of expressions was lost upon me.

Bearing in mind that political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind, perhaps this was not so surprising. After all, the press conference is a politician’s way of being informative without saying anything: should he or she accidentally say something, there is usually a press officer standing by who immediately explains it away by ‘clarifying’. But this was being taken to an alarming new extreme in the early campaigning of Ms Royale... another sign of Mr Blair's influence, of course, and yet another cause of distress to her increasingly worried party. For while Mr Sarkozy also tends to disguise his extremist tendancies, he does at least produce palatable statements of discernible meaning, concrete and comprehensible to the masses, not merely soundbyte or spin.

Unhappily, next came a series of embarrassing gaffes on the part of Ms Royale, which her main rivals, in particularly the contemptible Mr Sarkozy, latched upon with glee. She knows nothing but thinks she knows everything, he taunted, sounding like the school bully he is. ‘Knows nothing, but thinks she knows everything?’ Why, any career guidance teacher would remark that points clearly to a political career.

In the course of the campaign, both Sarkozy and Royale demonstrated a certain degree of cunning when it came to manipulating the media effectively; with the former portraying himself as a strong and decisive candidate (the implicit corollary being that she was weak and indecisive, thereby summoning up as much latent sexism as it was possible to) Earlier in the campaign, it had become apparent that overt sexism was used to the advantage of his rival (given that it is considered unacceptable to betray such prejudices, however truly, madly and deeply they are held) with Ms Royale using her wiles to score points whenever journalists directed questions along the lines of ‘who’s going to be at home looking after the kids’

At times, the campaigning became rather tawdry, oft childish, as happens in politics all over the world: inevitably the rusty artillery of abuse got wheeled into action when political ammunition ran low; caricatures of Sarkozy depicted as a vampire, with Royale soaring past on a broomstick. Inevitably, the politicians blamed the media for any criticism of the campaigning, which is a bit like the captain of a sailing ship complaining about the wind.

To the bitter end, still engaged in vigorous canvassing, my friend G's concerns intensified ; in recent months, while Ms Royale appealed to the centre voters, she was isolating grass-roots Socialist supporters, and there was a serious risk of a sway in favour of a third candidate (thereby dividing the left vote, leaving the race open to be dominated yet again by right-wing candidates, a la 2002)

But today, after weeks of speculation, it came time to vote... and we find that it will be 'Sarko' and 'Sego' in the second round.

A cause for celebration? Hardly.

G's views on Mr Sarkozy have not changed, nor are they likely to; he strikes fear into all civil libertarians. Bbut equally great are G's concerns about what will happen should Ms Royale actually win. If elected on the unreasonaly high expectations of her own creating, proclaiming that she is going to change the way politics are done in France, should her Presidency flounder, it would probably destroy any chances of the Socialist party returning to power in his lifetime.

How to reassure a friend in such unfortunate circumstances, gentle reader?

One has reminded him that he did the only thing he could in voting for Ms Royale; at the end of the day, we all know that the successful candidate will not be chosen on the basis of policy, but rather personality. One has told him that France, like all other democracies, will simply have to choose between the least worst alternative.

He has asked for my consdiered opinion on the outcome; alas, one suspects that the winner will be the candidate who says what the majority is thinking most often in the loudest voice.

Bearing in mind that the majority do not often think of politics at all, or if they do, it is reactionary, and neither considered nor insightful....

Time for another revolution, perhaps?

21 April 2007


Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art-
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors-
No- yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
To feel forever its soft fall and swell
Pillowed upon my fair love’s ripening chest
Awake forever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear his tender-taken breath
And so live ever – or else swoon to death


You can depend upon the great Romantics poets if your mundane existence requires a touch of melodrama, gentle reader… not to suggest it does, of course!

Just the other day, one perused Mr Keats’s letters to Mr Shelley (copies, alas!) and it brought a smile to read these immortal lines:

“There is no doubt that an English winter would put an end to me, and do so in a lingering hateful manner, therefore I must either voyage or journey to Italy My nerves at present are the worst part of me, yet they feel soothed when I think that come what extreme may, I shall not be destined to remain in one spot long enough to take a hatred of any four particular bed-posts.”

In his letter, Mr Keats went on to consider ‘Poetry, and dramatic effect’, which even a reader of your limited abilities will appreciate has been a pervasive concern throughout the creation of my humble bloguette. He wrote:

“A modern work it is said must have a purpose, which may be the God – an artist must serve Mammon – he must have self concentration;, selfishness perhaps. You I am sure will forgive me for sincerely remarking that you might curb your magnanimity and be more of an artist, and ‘load every rift’ of your subject with ore. (Sounds a tad risqué, does it not? Loading every rift of your subject with ore… whatever can Mr Keats mean?) The thought of such discipline must fall like cold chains upon you, who perhaps never sat with your wings furl’d for six Months together… My Imagination is a Monastery and I am its Monk- you must explain my metaphysics to yourself. I am in expectation of Prometheus every day.”

But I digress, gentle reader… or do I?


Rome, the eternal city… on the first night of my visit, naturally one was inclined to promenade the network of narrow streets around Piazza di Spagna, one of the most exclusive areas in the city, drawing droves of tourists and Romans to the elegant shops around Via Condotti. The square and its nearby coffee houses have long attracted those who want to see and be seen.

In the 18th century, the area was full of hotels for frivolous aristocrats doing the Grand Tour, not to mention artists, writers and composers, who took it all much more seriously. When Mr Dickens visited in the 19th century, he remarked that the Spanish Steps were crowded with 'models dressed as saints, emperors, and Madonnas, hoping to attract attention'... so imagine my distress upon discovering that in the 21st century, the area was over-crowded with impressionable Roman sylphs in varying states of undress, perhaps inspired by music videos featuring La Cicada... even off-season!

It goes without saying that however desperately one was seeking attention, one certainly did not stoop to that level. Nor did one feel remotely inclined to join a long queue of badly-dressed tourists outside Caffe Greco (once frequented by Goethe, Byron, Liszt, Wagner… and, last but by no means least, Mr Keats himself) waiting to pay an exorbitant sum of money for a cappuccino. In its time, one suspects this venue will have had a certain quiet charm, but long, long ago, before appearing in every guidebook that has ever been printed, featuring in every tourist’s itinerary. How bewildering to cast a glance through the window at a room crowded with miniature tables, packed so close together that there was barely room for the impatient and over-worked waiters to squeeze through and slap down your order before demanding a generous tip. One stood in wonder, asking oneself what impels the general public to take leave of their common sense before leaving home.

Instead, as one wandered the streets of northeast Rome, lonely as a… suffice to say, one's mind continued to linger upon the lives of the great Romantics; how could it be otherwise, standing in the shadow of the house where Mr Keats wrote his last passionate letters before his untimely death?

In this day and age, particularly among members of the Gay League, there is little in the way of romance: an original approach before an indecent proposal is probably about the best one can hope for. Gone are the days when one might reasonably expect to be courted... although one ought not complain, having a swashbuckling pirate queen prepared to defend my lack of honour at a moment's notice; but still, one sighed to learn that on display at the little museum inside Mr Keats’ home, among his most treasured possessions, there is a lock of hair that belonged to his beloved Fanny Brawne (what an unfortunate name!)

Have any of your suitors ever proffered a lock of hair, gentle reader? One thought as much- and a friendly drag queen inviting you to try their wig is not quite the same thing. Certainly one wonders if Ms Brawne's personal stylist advised her that a hair sample is best obtained from those regions of the female body that, for those unfortunate enough to live in the northern hemisphere, rarely see the sun... but I digress!

Romance, gentle reader! First-class passengers like it very well, printed and bound in neat little Mill & Boon or special weekend-away travel guide books; but one does not speak of such quirks and turns, the loves and doves they dream; goodness, no! Send me a man like Robbie Burns to sing the Song o' Steam, I say! One has certain needs: one needs certain things... not just to be loved, wanted, cherished, sought after, wooed, flattered, cosseted, pampered. One requires sympathy, affection, devotion, understanding, tenderness, infatuation, adulation, idolatry… that isn’t much to ask, is it?

In the midst of all this melodramatic rambling, one continued my nocturnal stroll, past Babington’s Tea Rooms (founded by a couple of English spinsters, a cruel reminder of my own situation) While sauntering gaily, one started to appreciate that quite a lot of attention was directed in my direction- what balm to relieve my inner anguish! For Italians, as they walk along the most fashionable streets in the city, suffice to say that the male of the species (no need to distinguish gay male and heterosexual male varieties; they are one and the same in this advanced culture) take full advantage of the opportunity to observe fellow citizens of the eternal city… to ‘check one another out’, to put it bluntly.

So imagine my reaction to find a particularly well-formed gentleman (in the process of locking his moto-scooter, or whatever they are called nowadays; speeding death-traps, if you ask me) allowing his steady eyes - unfathomable, dark brown pools in which it was impossible to see anything but one's own reflection - to linger long enough to be called a gaze. With a broad stride and a winning smile he approached, ready to take the liberty of introducing himself... the first of many liberties! His handshake was warmly and firmly returned, gentle reader; one was quite pleased to make his acquaintance, let me assure you.

For the purposes of this anecdote, we shall refer to this gentleman as G 1 (not to be confused with my good friend who features in the cast) After a quick and ready exchange of introductions, we established the existence of a mutual fluency in English and Spanish; the former ideal for the purposes of clarity, the latter ideal for the purposes of seduction.

After a few preliminary enquiries as to the reason for my sojourn in his native city, G 1 proposed escorting me to a nearby place for a quiet exchange. Never coy, having established that the location in question was merely three minutes away, his kind and generous offer was gladly accepted... an impulsive decision; would it subsequently be regretted?

Previously listening to

Le Tigre

Who took the Bomp from the Bompalompalomp?

Who took the Ram from the Ramalamading dong?

Your lyrics are dumb like a linoleum floor

I'll walk on it

16 April 2007

Where is Raed?

No one knew who he was: those who knew him never suspected the risks he took. Indeed, Salam Pax could hardly have taken a greater risk; more than 200,000 people had gone missing under Saddam Hussein's oppressive regime, many for far lesser crimes than the open criticism voiced on a blog used to communicate with his friend Raed. Perfectly aware of the dangers (no less than four of his relatives had gone missing; one friend, for no apparent reason, summarily executed), he even wrote openly about his homosexuality, a frank admission that still presents a significant risk to his life. One of the first people to link to his blog said, "It is all about a guy who risks his nuts to tell us he's a pervert and his friend likes to watch"

From idle chat to startling reportage, his internet outpourings delivered the most compelling description of life before and during the illegal war on Iraq, with a simple but honest descriptions of life in his home. He talked equally freely about the soaring price of tomatoes and the sudden arrival of the feared Ba'ath party militia setting up a gun position in an empty house on his street, his writing was remarkably free of sentimentality even as the approaching war becomes inevitable. Reports of his writing began to filter into the newspapers in Britain and the US where his voice, recognisably human and authentic, received considerable attention at a time when the only voices from inside Iraq to which the Western world had access got filtered through an unreliable network of newspapers and television networks, who appeared to have loyalties and sympathies of their own and were clearly struggling to cover what was happening on the ground. For a while, some readers doubted that Salam existed, preferring to believe he was an agent of Iraqi or US intelligence; his allusions to David Bowie and Hollywood movies seemed unusually familiar, so his identity was questioned, the doubters unable to accept that an Iraqi in Baghdad could share their interests and write on them eloquently and with humour.

At one point during the war- by now 20,000 people were regularly reading the most linked-to blog on the internet- when he was still able to access the internet and send his writing, the Arabic radio services of the BBC and the Voice of America ran stories on him. When his father heard the reports, for the first time guessed that that it was his son they were referring to. Not only was he risking his own life, he was risking the life of his family and everyone they associated with. In the final weeks before the impending conflict, he feared Iraqi intelligence agency were on to him... and all of his readers feared for him.

It's quite possible he doesn't appreciate what impact his blog made; he probably doesn't even know about how his writings were displayed at an art exhibition in the Centre de Cultura Contemporanea, Barcelona (CCCB) back in 2004, which is how I initially heard about the Baghdad Blogger; the first blog I ever encountered, and it remains the only blog I have ever read compulsively. It would not be an exaggeration to say I remain quite, quite infatuated with the brave and dashing Salam.

Over nine months have passed since his last post, his silence the source of much consternation. When I read something like this, I fear the worst... but allow myself to hope that silence is a prudent measure on his part.

Baghdad Blogger

My name is Salam Pax and I am addicted to blogs… It is slightly voyeuristic, especially those really personal blogs: day-to-day, mundane... [but] glimpses of lives so different, and so much amazing writing. No politics, just people's lives; how they deal with pain or grief, how they share their happy moments with anybody who cares to read.

And I cared. We had no access to satellite TV, and magazines had to be smuggled into the country; through blogs I could take a peek at a different world. Satellite TV and the web were on Saddam's list of things that will corrupt you. Having a satellite dish was punishable with jail and a hefty fine because these channels would twist our minds and make us do bad things. They spread immoral values. Of course he and his buddies were incorruptible so they could watch all the satellite TV they wanted.

With internet access from home, life changed...Of course, the [regime] blocked certain search terms and they did actually have a bunch of people looking at URL requests going through their servers.

With attention [to my blog] came the fear that someone in Iraq might actually read, since it had entered warblog territory. But… if [the authorities] knew about it I would already have been hanging from a ceiling being asked about anti-governmental activities...

By the end of January war felt very close and the blog was being read by a huge number of people. There were big doubts that I was writing from Baghdad, the main argument being there was no way such a thing could stay under the radar for so long in a police state... The questions people were asking me became more difficult and the amount of angry mail I was getting became unbelievable. People wanted coherence and a clear stand for or against war. All I had was doubt and uncertainty.

I just felt that it was important that among all the weblogs about Iraq and the war there should be at least one Iraqi blog, one single voice: no matter how you view my politics, there was at least someone talking. I was sometimes really angry at the various articles in the press telling the world about how Iraqis feel and what they were doing when they were living in an isolated world.

15 April 2007

A divine guide to Good Behaviour

A divine guide to Good Behaviour indeed... one hasn't been able to put it down! Such pearls of wisdom; it would be a shame not to offer something to my swine

"Disguises of normality only made me look unconvincing... My friends were
anyone who could put up with the disgrace; my occupation, any job from which
I was not given the sack; my playground, any cafe or restaurant
from which I was not barred or any street from which
the police did not move me on."

"Dressing as I did did not make me 'happy' necessariy, but it unified me,
and that is what we must all do with our lives. [If the image you present is]
the genuine you and not some affectation (a distinction which may take years
to sort out) then you must be what you are, honestly and bravely, with all the taste
and inteligence you can muster. Life will be more difficult
if you try to fulfil yourself, but avoiding this difficulty
renders life meaningless."

Quentin Crisp, Manners from Heaven (1984)

Previously listening to

Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
What kind of fuckery is this?

14 April 2007


Capybara is a species of fish, according to the Roman Catholic Church. It's semi-aquatic, you see; provided it was regarded as a fish, then it was permissible to eat during lent. A reasonable proposition, wouldn't you say?

So, this week's feeble excuse for neglecting my humble bloguette is that one has been on a workshop to study animal behaviour. Don't ask why, gentle reader; as the aforementioned example illustrates, the repeated use of reason will only lead you astray.

When most animals aren't sleeping, they most devote their time to foraging, socialising and mating... shopping and fucking, in other words. A week's observation has helped one to understand certain human behaviours, although one's opinion of humankind has deteoriated in direct proportion to one's insight; our society demonstrates a greater degree of injustice, violence and inequality than the social units of all primates.

Like most zoological gardens, a no-contact policy operates for all staff, on the basis that such animals would never be touched or handled in the wild. On first consideration, that appears to be a reasonable proposition... until one considers the obvious fact that these animals are not in the wild. A number of studies in recent times have demonstrated that particular animals in captivity, who by necessity must become accustomed to aural and visual contact with humankind, adapt more easily to their changed circumstances if they experience a little handling; even five minutes a day for the duration of a week made a difference. Reading this, a no-contact policy struck me as being most cruel indeed, the equivalent expecting a human who has always lived in a country village to adapt to a foreign city as if by magic, continuing to make the same choices and demonstrate the same behaviours, despite this tremendous upheaval.

Yet it appears that a fictitous premise is what the majority of animal conservationist still prefers; just pretend it's not really happening, as it were. Our ability to reason directs us to the strangest of paths, convinced we're heading in the right direction, while our head remains stuck firmly in the clouds.

08 April 2007

Reclining, declining, nude

A reclining woman turns, directing her naked body away from her husband towards a viewing audience, thighs opening, breasts splayed in different directions (one defying gravity, or so it would appear) In the near disance, something rises between the couple; a high-rise tenement, one of those nasty constructions, quickly made with cheap building materials, while dark storm-clouds gather overhead: a structure unlikely to last, some would say, quite like their relationship; a phallic symbol- belonging to which of the two?- others would remark.

Returning to the woman, surely the most immediately striking characteristic is her physical strength, in particular that chiseled jaw, those muscular arms and legs. She tries to look natural and relaxed, although one can almost feel her stiffness, her rigidity, the artificiality of her pose. A harsh brightness strikes her upper body, as if a spotlight were constantly turned upon it, leaving parts cast in shadow, throwing a hint of shadowy green to her shoulder and making parts of her flesh look almost gangrenous. As for those legs, do they not appear to belong to another, younger woman?

Harsh is the first word that springs to mind when describing her facial expression, and yet there is something desparate, something weak and pleading in her eyes... but what is she trying to express? Please buy my new DVD,please buy my next record, perhaps?

Who is this stealing through a drab grey curtain (not a lush, green-coloured one, please note) to lay a thick paw on her over-aerobicised thigh?As for the man in the background, looking at her in blank adoration... well, 'blank' is perhaps the best way of describing the oafish expression of that hulking , yet somehow inconsequential, neanderthal figure, left in the disregarded shadow that she has cast. For the woman does not want his attention; it is YOUR attention that she wants, anonymous public viewer.

So, gentle reader, what do you think of Peter Howson's latest portrait, on display at the Gatehouse Gallery in Glasgow? Who could it depict?

Apparently, the main subject of this piece is an avid collector of the artist's work; one tends to agree with Ms Marina Hyde, that if someone was painting pictures like this of you, you'd be removing them from the market, whatever the cost.

07 April 2007

Veni Vidi Vici

Fashionably late, that is how one ought to arrive at a social engagement: one ought to do so on principle, the principle being that punctuality is the thief of time.

Unfortunately, it is a truth universally acknowledged that to voyage on a moderate budget requires use of an inexpensive airline, which in turn necessitates punctuality, that is to say, allowing plenty of time for unexpected delays on getting to and from the airport, not to mention getting through security. One does advise removing any recreational drugs from your luggage (in this day and age, concealing them inside a used sex toys no longer ensures that you won’t have them confiscated… what is the world coming to!) Certainly, you do not want to find yourself in the difficult situation once faced by M, my first boyfriend (the Australian, for those of you who for some reason haven’t been giving my bloguette your undivided attention.) Undoubtedly, as he prepared to be thoroughly and roughly manhandled - by security personnel, at this stage in my story- before boarding a flight from London Heathrow he was in the throes of ecstasy, knowing that yours truly (sex-starved, one might add; in those early days, ne’er a day went by without the two of us managing to get ourselves into a new sexual position) was impatiently awaiting his return to Amsterdam: but imagine his consternation, gentle reader, upon discovering that he was carrying a tablet of ecstasy in his jeans pocket. Fearing arrest, M took the only available option, surreptitiously swallowing as quickly as possible. Once safely through the check, his concern returned, exacerbated by the knowledge of what awaited, for one had strict views on recreational drug use back in the days when one hadn’t experimented oneself.

But I digress!

To my not inconsiderable annoyance, the departure of my Easyjet flight from Paris Orly to Rome Ciampino was delayed for several hours, resulting in an unreasonably late arrival at my destination. Having taken the precaution of reserving a room in a private apartment, one begrudgingly flicked through a travel guidebook before nodding off to sleep... which leads me neatly to a description of my lodgings; one was attracted by the name; ‘sleeping’ was all that one intended to use the room for, while ‘beauty’ was appropriate for obvious reasons.

It might come as a surprise to learn that one has never pre-booked accommodation online before, and despite their pleasing website, one worried that the profile of a gay-friendly boarding house might operate on the same principles as a profile on a gay-dating website, using enhanced images of the rooms, taken from a flattering angle several years before.

Suffice to say, upon being ushered to a bright and spacious room, tastefully furnished with large and ostentatious pieces that included an upholstered sofa and a giant king-size bed, not to mention having an en-suite bathroom and a view of San Giovanni in Laterno, one creased oneself in delight.

One assumes that all readers know that in the most civilized of countries, it is standard practice to encourage members of the general public to enjoy a mid-afternoon siesta, so all restaurants close after luncheon; hence it was necessary to hasten from my fabulous room without stopping to attend to toilette, throwing myself at the mercy of the nearest Italian waiter. In most cities, this would be highly dangerous, and while Rome is a city with an ignoble and chequered history, never let it be said that her citizens don’t know how to cook.

Seated at a convenient table, all of my attention was devoted to the chalkboard on the nearest wall (not a glance wasted upon the tourist menu) so that when the waiter returned, one addressed him immediately (in perfect Spanglish – sufficiently similar to Italian) with two pertinent questions; was their gnocci store-bought? (to which he responded with an astonished blink, as if to suggest anything but homemade was unthinkable) and was their calamari fresh? (eliciting a similarly indignant response) whereupon one embraced him and placed an order.

Let me spare you a full account of that meal, gentle reader… that would be cruel, would it not? For one assumes that the vast majority of you are not within reach of a decent Italian restaurant as you read... any more than I am.

Finishing my sumptuous banquet, upon finding oneself quite fatigued by the day's travelling, one retired to enjoy a brief siesta at my nearby fabulous apartment…

…and just as well, gentle reader!

For one could never have anticipated what was going to occur later that same evening; no one, least of all oneself, could have imagined all of the carnal pleasures that awaited on that first night in Rome; how all of one’s physical, mental and emotional energies were to be quite exhausted by the end of the experience.

Yes, gentle reader, my first encounter with an Italian gay gentleman... a Roman who came, saw and conquered, although not necessarily in that order!

06 April 2007


In the summer of 1992, with a threadbare rucksack, a crumpled Interail pass that approached its expiry date, not to mention insufficient funds (as a result of squandering Swiss francs on cheap liquor with a member of the Austrian medical profession, who later relieved me of the burden of my virgin innocence… but that’s another story) to cover anything more than the most meagre of provisions (one can survive on water and fresh baguette; pirates, take note) one made a first visit to the birthplace of the Renaissance.

It was not quite love at first sight. One has fond memories of gelati, but little else.

Arriving in Venice, one recalls being tossed backwards and forwards in a sea of camera-wielding tourists; cafes charged exorbitant prices, particularly if their private quintet happened to be performing a piece as you sat out on the terrace, waiting for winged vermin to descend. Next stop was Rome: returning from a packed day of sightseeing, distressed and disgusted by the tasteless extravagance on display inside St Peter’s Basilica, one paid the price of neglecting to check linen at a penzione; trailing black hairs and smudged fingerprints from the last occupant awaited… somehow, one managed to sleep. Continuing to Florence, unpleasant at the best of times but insufferable on a hot, humid sweltering afternoon, when even Florentine flies seem desperate to escape from over-crowded streets and a sewer-river under a ramshackle, tourist-ridden bridge, where one was unable to afford the admission for Michelangelo’s David… can you imagine my distress, gentle reader?

Suffice to say that almost a decade passed before my second visit to Italy (accompanied by a charming gay gentleman of Italian extraction with whom one had a flingette) which was much more agreeable. Together we flew to Naples (with Go Airlines... a decent budget airline; how one mourns their passing) and having eaten our fill of pizza we spent a couple of weeks exploring the ancient ruins at Pompei, the splendid beaches of the Amalfi coast, the romantic hilltown of Ravello where one of my favourite authors, Ms V Woolf, used to vacation… wonderful food, wonderful weather, all quite, quite wonderful!

But despite all of that, it was not until my third trip to Italy that my love affair began in earnest.

Stepping back further still, gentle reader, in my student days one lodged at a residence with two little girls- Lilliputian, they were- from the sun-drenched shores of Sicily. Suffice to say that even my words cannot begin to do justice to the meals produced in their kitchen; for several years, one awoke salivating at the mouth, plagued by a recurring dream that involved a particular sauce, made to a traditional family recipe handed down from one Italian mama to another (it was made using four cheeses, nothing more; the secret lay in how to correctly proportion those ingredients) And don't get me started on the subject of Sicilian pastries…

So it was that in 2003, still desperately in love (with one another, obviously) X and I spent three weeks backpacking around that wonderful island. Pleasure beyond all imagining, gentle reader… the ruins at Siracuse, the Renaissance churches in Noto, the temples of Agrigento, the hilltown of Enna, with breathtaking mosaic floortiles at the ruins of a Roman villa nearby… not to mention the Aeolian islands; sulphuric mudbaths on Vulcano, ascending the volcano on Stromboli. While there, one celebrated a birthday (for unlike X, one does still celebrate those... and one doesn't lie about ones age!) and for once he surprised me with a gift... a Sicilian cookery book. Given that we lived together at the time, one suspects he may have had reasons of his own for offering that particular gift, but since our passions coincided, it was gratefully received and it remains one of my most treasured possessions... and the most memorable gift he ever gave me (gonorrhoea doesn't count)

Two further trips to Italy followed, but that holiday was to remain unmatched; the romantic town of Bergamo, surprisingly picturesque, unexpectedly delivered the best meal I’ve ever eaten (fresh gnocci in a creamy cheese sauce, with fresh basil) on a weekend trip, which preceded a not-so-fabulous trip the following year. As anticipated, X and I found rugged and unkempt landscapes on Sardinia; as forewarned, we encountered plenty of stodgy food; both of those we were prepared to endure, but unhappily we were also cursed by miserable weather for the duration of our visit.

Looking back, my fondest memories are of a fine pizzeria in Alghero (where street-signs are sponsored by the Catalan facistas) and a penzione where we stayed. It was run by a middle-aged widower ; a cultured woman, who had led an interesting life, her English and her Spanish impecable. She made us feel completely at ease in her home- that cannot be said of most establishments- and we were the only guests lodging in her beautiful apartment. During our stay, she confessed that loneliness was one of her reasons for taking guests; in the morning she occasionally joined us for breakfast, her presence welcome and thoroughly enjoyable.

Before leaving, on a particularly wet Sunday, we rented a motorcycle; with X holding on tight behind, squinting into the rain, we ventured along the coast to the lighthouse at Bosa, an old mill town, with a bitter wind driving at us throughout. On arrival, we stopped at a cafe on the deserted beach for much-needed refreshment; it had a fine open hearth fire, and we were reluctant to leave, but just before returning to our vehicle, the clouds parted for a fleeting moment and blessed us with a touch of summer warmth… only for a moment, but all the more magical in the bleakest of circumstances.

But I digress!

Gentle reader, you’ve been waiting to hear about my recent jaunts in Italia, haven’t you?

One does apologise for making you wait…

03 April 2007

Love Sonnet 87... to Cap'n Dyke

Cap'n Dyke, thou art too dear for my possessing,
And like enough thou know'st thy estimate:
The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;
My bonds in thee are all determinate.
For how do I hold thee but by thy granting?
And for that riches where is my deserving?
The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,
And so my patent back again is swerving.
Thyself thou gavest, thy own worth then not knowing,
Or me, to whom thou gavest it, else mistaking;
So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,
Comes home again, on better judgment making.
Thus have I had thee, as a dream doth flatter,
In sleep a pirate queen, but waking no such matter.

02 April 2007

Going Underground

If only one lived in London
with a choice of joining CastOff for their knitting sessions
on the District and Circle Underground Line
or London Bitch and Stitch

One might learn how to make a fabulous hat to accessorise
with a delightful skull and crossbones sweater that one bought in Zara

Going back

You sit there in your heartache
Waiting on some beautiful boy to save you from your old ways
You play forgiveness
Watch him now, here he come
He doesn’t look a thing like Jesus, but he talks like a gentleman, like you imagined

They say the devils water it ain’t so sweet
You don’t have to drink right now
But you can dip your feet
Every once in a little while

We’re burning down the highway skyline
On the back of a hurricane that started turning
And sometimes you close your eyes and see the place where you used to live
When you were young

When you were young, from the album Sam's Town, by The Killers, 2006

Previously listening to

I'm from Barcelona

It's like having Brotherhood of Man trapped inside your head...

and it was playing too damn long

01 April 2007


My favourite flower, gentle reader... for obvious reasons

Primera Delmes

April is the cruelest month; mixing memory with desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain, and all of that... hence a perfectly appropriate time for my return, don't you think?

Undoubtedly all of my loyal readers have been bewildered by my absence over the last weeks, keenly anticipating an account of my sejourn in the bleak miserable nether-regions of the Emerald Isle, not to mention my jaunt around northern Italy, followed by a road trip with my beloved X... all in due course; suffice to say that one has several stories to prepare and share!

But in the meantime, one understands that it is customary to mark the first day of this particular month with a little anecdote to which the reader must apply his or her limited intelligence, in order to discern what is Fact and what is Fiction... and far be it from me to disregard such an honourable tradition.

So, gentle reader, consider the following:

Might there be extenuating circumstances for my delay in returning to the bloguette?

Is it possible that in addition to holidaying, one has moved from a fabulous penthouse apartment to another fabulous home in another European country?

What possible reasons could there be for such upheaval: is it possible that Paris has gone out of fashion, or that one tired of the most beautiful city in the world, or perhaps one decided to change location simply because one could?

If you come to the conclusion there must be an element of fact to the above, it is inevitable that you will ask where one has moved to? It will be obvious to anyone who has glanced at these pages that it would be a city and that one would not have left Europe... and most certainly would not have returned to Ireland.

Bearing in mind that one's bloguette is a reflection of one's character, and that one is a single gay gentleman who enjoys social intercourse, a discerning reader might reasonably conclude that one would only sejourn to a country where French, Spanish or English were spoken: it would be safe to assume that not having lived in an English-speaking country for several years might make Britain a tempting option...

To conclude, one suggests a moment's pause to consider why one refused to clarify the position. If a combination of profession and location jeopardised one's anonymity when mingling with other members of the gay league. with an excruciatingly high risk of being associated and identified with my humble bloguette, surely the most sensible course would be to conceal my present residence and pretend that one continued to be located in Paris, n'est-ce pas?