Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Monday, May 31, 2010

First They Came...

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak out for me.
[Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)]

Friday, May 28, 2010

My Two Dads...

"Last year mom and dad divorced. Dad now lives with his friend Frank." If you've never read one of these 'homosexuality is a fact of life' kids' books, that The Daily Mail gets ever-so excited about, now is your chance. Not sure why's it's entitled bizarre but nice little book.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Museum Of London...

There is a fab new app for the iPhone called Streetmuseum from the Museum Of London. It imagines you strolling through 19th Century London today and can superimpose images on what you see through the iPhone camera.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost Finale...

You know, there are two types of Lost fans: "journey" fans, and "destination" fans.

The former are those who enjoyed the characters and the act of discovering with them, who appreciated the development of each person we met on the island and their growth as human beings, and who viewed each episode as an experience and a thread in a large, sometimes flawed, usually beautiful tapestry.

The latter are those who merely tolerated the character arcs, who slogged through episodes for no other reason than to learn "the answers" to every question, who maintained a mental tally of every mystery posed by the series and kept score on which ones were fully resolved to their satisfaction and which weren't, and used that as a numerical basis on which to score the show.

I fully expect that the latter group is furious right now. I, as a "journey" fan, loved the finale.

Nike Ad for World Cup...

Thursday, May 20, 2010


"Women and gay people are the litmus test of whether a society is democratic and respecting human rights. We are the canaries in the mine."

Last night Darren, Stu and I went to see Jonathan Harvey's Canary at the Hampstead Theatre in glitzy Swiss Cottage.

It was a moving, funny, uplifting and often magical story about gay love, honesty, dishonesty and being brave enough to sing out at the top of your voice. The play spans almost 50 years, taking in the miners' strike, Aids and the legacy of suppressed secrets and lies in a family over two generations. Along the way we come across a primetime TV host, Queen Isabella, Eleanor Rigby, an 'aversion therary' doctor, Mary Whitehouse and those afore mentioned striking miners.

Still in previews the play is at times a little uneven - the first half perhaps being a tad over long - but the second picks up the pace wonderfully.

Highlight: the gay 'zap' of the Festival Of Light meeting.

Not quite Beautiful Thing but worth a night out.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Habit Of Art...

Last night Stu and I went to see Alan Bennett's The Habit Of Art at Lyttelton Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

Starring Richard Griffiths and Alex Jennings the play centres on a fictional meeting between WH Auden and Benjamin Britten. The former is peeing into his washbasin, waiting for a rent boy to arrive in his college rooms and is stuck over his stanzas. The latter is sailing uncomfortably close to the wind with his new opera, Death In Venice.

The play is a play within a play. Auden and Britten, along with their biographer Humphrey Carpenter, are depicted as characters in a play called "Caliban's Day". We see a rehearsal of this play, so Griffiths and Jennings are in fact playing the actors playing Auden and Britten as well as Auden and Britten themselves. The piece is full of ideas, some filthy laughs and great performances. We pretty much laughed throughout. But it is also deeply and unexpectedly moving.

"In the end," said Auden, "art is small beer. The really serious things in life are earning one’s living and loving one’s neighbour."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Midsummer Night's Dream...

Last Friday Andy, Kev, Ian, Stu and I went to Shakespeare's Globe on London's glitzy Bankside to see the touring production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The play features three interlocking plots, connected by a celebration of the wedding of Duke Theseus of Athens and the Amazonian queen, Hippolyta, and set simultaneously in the woodland, and in the realm of Fairyland, under the light of the moon.

It was a very high spirited production; teleporting us to the era of the 1920s Bright Young Things it told the familiar story of love, confusion and mirth. In it we see the lovers Lysander, Hermia, Helena, Demetrius, the Fairies Oberon, Titania and Puck, and of course the workmen Snout, Snug and Bottom all suffer unwanted amorous attentions and mistake each others identities with hilarious consequences. As the Bard puts it in Act I Scene I, "The course of true love never did run smooth."

The performance itself was sexy, slick and funny - as you might expect from such a talented cast. A cast that was small - numbering just eight - but perfectly formed. With so many parts played by so few it might have been hard to follow but it was only on one occasion that the confusion of the characters on stage translated into any real confusion in the audience as to who was who.

If you've not been to Shakespeare's Globe before. Go. It's only £5 to stand in the yard and the shows are excellent.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Holding The Man...

On Saturday night Chris, Christopher, Darren, Tim, Andy, Dean, Stu, myself and the rest of the gang went to see Holding The Man at the Trafalgar Studios in London's glitzy West End.

Timothy Conigrave's posthumously published memoir (on which Tommy Murphy's; Holding the Man is based) is highly regarded in Australia. The title derives from Australian Rules Football – “holding the man” is an offence that concedes a penalty. One of the characters in Murphy’s drama plays football, but his use of the phrase is, of course, more complex: it’s both literal and metaphorical. When Tim first makes a move to hold John, his classmate in a Catholic school in 1970s Australia, he initiates a love affair that will last, on and off, for the rest of their lives – and cost them both very dear. By 1994, both will have died from Aids – Tim tormented by the thought that his infidelities might have exposed John to HIV.

The staging of the play was basic but functional and served well. Four of the six-strong cast (including Kath and Kim's Jane Turner) performed impressive quick-change routines in the fast-moving production. The stars of the piece were undoubtedly the two leads though - Tim (Guy Edmonds) and particularly John (Matt Zeremes). They took us on a very funny (both 'peculiar' and 'ha-ha') journey from school-camp circle-jerk to a cringy Gay Soc meeting and a gruesome bar where the stylised conversation raises quite a knowing laugh; "Tee hee, ha ha, Babs, Judy, vagina, Rock Hudson, dizzy bitch, fist."

From this laugh out loud puppy love element in the first act Tim and John's relationship evolves, altering and faltering through separation and reunion. The play deepens just as they do, before the second act brings them face to face with HIV and eventually Aids. Moving though this development is, sadly it threatens to feel a bit dated to my tired old eyes - we had many an Aids deathbed drama in the late eighties and early nineties, from Larry Kramer’s ground-breaking The Normal Heart and Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, to William Finn’s wonderful one-act musical Falsettoland.

On a more positive note (pun intended), if a younger crowd do come to see the play this will be a welcome education to the scourge of Aids in the 1980s and 1990s. And nothing would bring this home better than the deep contrast between the funny first half and the bitingly emotional climax of the second half.

Come and see it. Better still bring your younger gay friends too.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Rugby Player Nick Youngquest...

Straight stable mate of Gareth Thomas at Crusaders RL is the lovely rugby player Nick Youngquest. Here is a photoshoot he did.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

And I, For One, Welcome Our New Tory Insect Overlords...

"Ladies and gentlemen, uh, we've just lost the picture, but what we've seen speaks for itself. The Corvair spacecraft has apparently been taken over- 'conquered' if you will- by a master race of giant Tory space ants. It's difficult to tell from this vantage point whether they will consume the captive Earthman or merely enslave them. One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them; the ants will soon be here. And I, for one, welcome our new Tory insect overlords. I'd like to remind them as a trusted TV personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves." -- Kent Brockman

Monday, May 10, 2010

Julie Andrews: The Gift Of Music...

Stu, Faye, Andy and I went to see Julie Andrews at the O2 Arena last Saturday in her show The Gift Of Music. Boy, what a let down.

She barely sang all night. She had warned, “I don’t sing the way I used to, so I’m doing everything I can to put the word out that they shouldn’t expect that.” Well, Julie m'darlin' you didn't put the word out enough.

Her first time on the London stage in 30 years, she entered to a standing ovation with The Sound Of Music being screened in the background. Our hopes were high but we should have cottoned on that she wasn't actually singing as she came on stage. And things got worse.

In the first half she was joined on stage by the five beaming vocalists who performed hit songs from Rogers and Hammerstein musicals as Dame Julie mainly just looked on. Dame Julie completed only a handful of numbers on her own, disappeared from the stage for large chunks of the show, and the whole of the second half consisted of her reading aloud from a children's book she co-wrote with her daughter - the dreary Simeon's Gift. We sniggered throughout.

Twelve years ago it was feared Dame Julie would never sing again. She had entered hospital in June 1997 for the removal of a non-cancerous polyp on her vocal chords, but what should have been a simple surgical procedure went dreadfully awry and robbed her of her perfectly pitched singing voice. Devastated and trying to cope with the fact that her four-octave singing voice was destroyed, she underwent grief therapy at Sierra Tucson, an Arizona rehabilitation clinic noted for treating celebrity clients. Since then, with the support of her husband Blake Edwards and her family, and helped by a malpractice lawsuit she filed against the surgeons that was settled in 2000 for an estimated £20 million, she has come to terms with her loss and developed a new singing style. “I hope I’ll have a few surprises up my sleeve for the concert, but basically I have about five good bass notes and I can work my way around them pretty well,” she said. “I also employ that Rex Harrison sing-speak kind of voice. I narrate a lot, I tell tales, I show a great deal of footage, and I’ll be with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and will be helped by five Broadway entertainers.”

So there we have it. A rather pointless show which produced a rather disaffected audience - many of whom walked out in disgust. Oh, did I mention it was £106 a ticket? Shameful.

(See Debbie Reynolds for how to put on a great show if you're voice isn't quite what it was.)

Friday, May 07, 2010

Debbie Reynolds: Alive and Fabulous...

To kick off our anniversary week Stu and I went to see Debbie Reynolds in her Alive and Fabulous show at the Apollo Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

I've not laughed at the theatre so much for ages. She was very, very funny.

The show consisted of a mix of anecdotes, chatting to the audience, showing us film clips and singing. OK, her voice perhaps wasn't quite what it was but she is seventy-eight. Here are some of the things I remember from the show:-

"Thank you for coming. No one here is under fifty. Not unless someone over fifty bought you. Anyway, it was nice of you to come and see me before I die."

"I was born Mary." (Whoops from man in audience). "Oh, are you a Mary too, dear."

"I won a beauty competition at sixteen - I wanted to win the first prize; a scarf and a blouse. I ended up getting a contract at Warner Brothers."

"My first husband Eddie Fisher left me for Liz Taylor - she being three months older than me. I warned him that she'd dump him after fifteen months - and she did!"

"I'm Princess Leia's mother - that makes me a Queen... (eyes front row)... are you all Queens too?"

She showed many film clips such as 'Singing' in the Rain' and 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' and sang along to all of the songs.

She told a dirty joke: A woman was at a party and said, "If any one can guess what's in my hand they can sleep with me". A man calls out, "an elephant?" The woman says, "close enough!"

She did a lovely 1940s melody and even did a rap to Three Little Fishes and did a bit of Beyoncé's Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It). Stu almost wet himself laughing.

"How do I look from up there?", she asked the balcony. "From down here (pointing to the front row again) I look like Lady Gaga."

She did some spot-on impressions too; Mae West, Jimmy Steward, Ethel Merman, Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis among others and regaling each with stories from her days in Hollywood. Nice to have someone take the piss who actually knew the originals.

"Judy Garland and I were great friends. I'd put Carrie and Todd to bed and she'd put Liza, Lorna and Joey to bed and I'd go over to Judy's house for a drink. Then we'd wake Liza up and give her some!"

Her impression of Barbara Streisand was something to behold though. She looked, sounded and joked just like her. And it was very, very funny.

All in all Debbie Reynolds is a non-stop all-round old-school entertainer. Real show-biz, with all the razzmatazz of Hollywood. She obviously never wants to leave the stage. Always wanting to be in the spot-light. But it's a spot-light that casts a very long shadow. And I can't imagine how tough it must be having to walk in that shadow all your life (yes, I looking at you Carrie Fisher).

Four Years...

Happy Anniversary to my handsome, funny, sexy better half Stuart - it's been so great to find in you that one special person... to annoy for the rest of my life.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Vote Early! Vote Often!...

Agree/Disagree Crazy/Sensible Graph...

On a graph with the x-axis of agree/disagree and y-axis of crazy/sensible I'd say David Cameron would be in the upper right quartile. Gordon Brown would be in the upper left quartile. And Nick Clegg would making the tea.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Queen's Day...

We had a lovely long weekend in Amsterdam with Gary, Nau, Tim, Andy, Michael and Andrew. Shame I fell ill on the second day and missed some of the festivities though.