I’ve had complaints.
“We don’t know who or what you’re on about”, they wail. “Give us a glossary”, they beseech.
Fair enough. Fascinating as I am, I can’t realistically expect you to maintain a detailed working knowledge of the minutiae of my daily existence.
Besides, any opportunity for converting my life into an alphabetised list has to be seized with both hands.
So here you are then:
Troubled Diva: The Revision Notes.
Former guest blogger Alan is my number one midweek drinking buddy slash partner in crime. Hailing from Cape Town, he fetched up in Nottingham towards the end of 2003, working on a short-term contract. Having seemingly left us for good in the Autumn of 2004, he miraculously returned in the early weeks of 2005, to general jubilation. Generally thought of as something of a “catch” in the circles which we frequent, his life is therefore never without incident, and his conversation never fails to intrigue and entertain.
“Bob” isn’t really called Bob at all, except on computers and mobile phones, and who am I to deny his right to experiment with his identity? The proud owners of no less than five sheds, each with specific allotted functions (respect!), “Bob” and Mrs. “Bob” live in The Village (see below), and accompanied us on our “challenging” trip to Peru in the Summer of 2004. If this blog were JonnyB’s Private Secret Diary, then “Bob” would be Big A. (He couldn’t be Short Tony because he doesn’t live next door.)
Another partner in crime, with a colourful past and a ready wit, I have known Buni since the mid-to-late 1990s. He has guest-blogged here on a couple of occasions, and even had a blog of his own for a while. Buni was raised by bunny-girls, dragged out of the closet by pop stars, and toughened up by the Royal Navy before coming to Nottingham as a mature (hah!) student. He has a robust appetite for life’s pleasures, and a sharp take on life which chimes in with my own in many respects.
A friend since the spring of 1990, when his pert young bottom collided with my outstretched hand in the middle of a crowded dancefloor. Heady days! Uncanny Kiefer Sutherland lookey-likey Chig lives (and blogs) in Birmingham, where his status as Midlands “scene” correspondent for Gay Times magazine sends him automatically to the front of every nightclub queue. Chig’s knowledge of popular culture is truly unparalleled; his home is basically one vast media archive, and he has exchanged words with just about every boyband member and disco diva of the last fifteen years (sometimes on the way up, sometimes on the way down, and sometimes both). His specialist subjects are a) Aston Villa and b) the Eurovision Song Contest, for which he attains press accreditation every year. On the all too rare occasions when we meet in person, our conversations generally morph into extended Pop Culture Data Dumps, as we breathlessly exchange details of every bit of trivia which we have amassed since the last time. And what could be more pleasant than that?
After four nights a week in Nottingham, Friday evenings see us morph from City Boys to Country Squires, in the fifty minutes it takes us to drive from one home to the other. Our second home in the country (feel free to puke) is a renovated 17th century cottage, which has been knocked through into an adjoining building which used to serve as the village bus depot. Scrupulously maintained by K’s mum and dad during the week, the cottage bears the imprint of a look which we have dubbed “new rustic minimalism”. In other words, it looks like a combination of show home, boutique hotel and holiday let. Hey, who needs “lived in” anyway?
Dymbel & Dymbellina.
My oldest friends in Nottingham; I have known Dymbellina since 1981, when we were fellow students with overlapping social circles, and Dymbel since 1984, when within only a few minutes of meeting me he had already offered to make me a Billy Bragg and Prefab Sprout compilation tape. Dymbel is a long-established writer of Young Adult fiction, and a lecturer in Creative Writing who would never have let me get away with such a clunking sentence as that last one, with its cavalier attitude to tense. He also has a blog, although he prefers not to call it a blog. Another fellow music obsessive, Dymbel has a touchingly loyal devotion to Elvis Costello and R.E.M., and an inexplicable fondness for Clem Snide and Aimee Mann. Dymbellina is a Something in Education at a nearby university, as well as being a published poet. She also has the neatest handwriting of anyone I have ever met. She will find it bizarre that I have singled out this particular accomplishment, and quite rightly so.
My partner since April 1985, K is Ver Class while I am Ver Trash. Or at least that’s what we like people to believe. I don’t deserve him, and he doesn’t deserve me. (Note the dual usage of the word “deserve” in that last sentence, and misinterpret it at your peril.)
A former colleague who lives in Ashbourne, thus straddling the city-country divide that is my Preferred Lifestyle Choice. Lathbud has been responsible for first recommending many of the attractions of the region, including the incomparable Best Country Pub In The Whole World Evah: The Gate at Brassington.
MissMish is the enchanting if at times somewhat misleading online persona of someone who has become a dear friend since she guest-blogged on this site in the summer of 2004. Glamorous, cultured and generous to a fault, I feel privileged to have been welcomed into her charmed circle of café society butterflies.
Our Journalist Friend.
I’ve never really settled on a good name for Our Journalist Friend, or his lady partner. (In the dim and distant past, I used to call them OldEngland and NewEngland, but there’s something not quite right about it.) Like us, OJF works in Nottingham during the week and comes over to The Village (see below) at weekends, where his partner (a “retired” (hah!) interior architect) now permanently resides. OJF is a formidable networker, with a ready hotline to The Great, The Good, and the Just Plain Fascinating. The two of them were the first people to make us feel welcome in The Village, and we owe them A LOT.
PDMG = Princess Diana Memorial Garden, so named because the Famous Garden Designer who made over the L-shaped patch of land behind our cottage had also been commissioned to remember England’s Rose in horticultural form. Since this project ultimately fell through, we have taken it upon ourselves to continue to uphold her memory. Cellophane-wrapped floral tributes may be left by the front gate.
Another former colleague, and devotee of both the music of Stereolab and the joys of snowboarding. (It’s a “portmanteau” word. Do you see?) Stereoboard and Stereboardina (it’s the best I could do) have a young son, whose progress has been mapped on a secret invitation-only “baby blog”, with an admirable lack of sentimental language and disturbing “Mummy says I’m a good boy” psychological projection. We go gigging together, when parental duties permit.
Our weekend cottage is situated in a quiet but rather smart village in the Derbyshire Peak District, somewhere between Ashbourne, Bakewell and Buxton. Its name remains a secret for Google-related reasons, and to preserve what little mystique I am able to wrap around myself. After moving there in Autumn 2000, we took to our status as The Only Gays In The Village as if to the manner born, and soon learnt to relish being referred to as “The Boys” by all and sundry. At our age!
(I might add to this. We’ll see.)