Say goodnight, Gracie

(posted by asta)

Time to pack up and go, but not before thanking Mike for his generosity.

Lyle, mentioned this before, but I think it bears repeating. It takes a particularly brave soul to hand over the keys to his carefully and artfully arranged digs for such an extended period of time– especially to someone like me — one of the blogless. He had no idea what I’d do to the place and welcomed me anyway. Lovely man. I tried not to make too much of a mess of it.

I took Mike up on his offer mainly because I felt that after being entertained by him for more than a year as a reader, it was the least I could do.( I should have realised there would be plenty of first-class applicants, and that he had no real need of my services, but no matter) More importantly, I now have a much greater knowledge and appreciation of all the work and effort that goes into building such a fine home. I’m also going to make an effort to be a better reader, which means offering comment more often, even when I think it isn’t required. There are some blogs I read regularly where I’m sure I haven’t left a word. I now see the important part feedback plays in the energy of the enterprise.

I was also keenly aware of the quality of his readership–many of them top-notch bloggers in their own right. I apologise to all of you. Regular service will resume shortly. (Must you cheer that enthusiastically?)

Will I start my own blog now? I confess I’m tempted. I discovered I had much more to say than I thought I would, and that the experience was more personally rewarding than I ever imagined. But I’m going to step back from the whole idea for some time. I tend to throw myself into new pursuits only to give them short shrift once the novelty wears off. I wouldn’t want a blog, if I couldn’t make it a good one- and that includes the mechanics, about which I know next to nothing. (ask Mike, I’m sure I drove him mad)

So thank you all for your patience, and a special hug to Mike. And Mike, if you don’t see a thank you bottle of Cristal in your fridge, well, I’m not saying anyone nicked it, but….

Last post

(posted by Gordon)

I’m sure Mike mentioned, in his email inviting me to guest here, that he expected a minimum of 5 posts over the 7 days…

So this is my rather late attempt of doing just that. But what to write about? There have been so many good posts here this week that in an effort to try and sum up things I’ve learned, ideas that have been changed etc etc I kind of get lost…

I suppose half of the enjoyment in reading posts here, and on other blogs, is that they are written by real people, with real experiences in the real world. I know that sounds a bit daft, but in an age where kids grow up imagining spending their late twenties in a coffee house in New York, where couples wake in the morning and snog (does ANYONE do that?) and all the other ideas that are thrown at us from TV and film, it is refreshing to hear things as they really are.

It’s also refreshing to have frank discussion about sexuality. Which, let’s face it, still isn’t really the ‘British’ thing. I’ did hear a comment last week (can’t remember where – possibly on Clive Anderson’s Sunday morning show?) that the internet was ‘helping’ inform people about all sorts of sexual activities that they wouldn’t normally be aware of, and the next day my local paper had a front page story on couples arranging, via the internet, to meet for sex.

Are these truly liberating times? Are we now more accepting of our own and each others sexual needs? Who knows. All I can say is that on Friday night, I had the great pleasure of watching my wife enjoying her snog with another woman.

So, it’s has been a pleasure, and education and a bit of a giggle this week, I’ll be adding several sites to my blogroll and I’m off to try and figure out if the well groomed couple, driving a silver peugeot 206 convertible, are gay or not. Can I borrow anyone’s gaydar?


(posted by Danny)

Don’t wanna bore you with the gory details (now there’s a first) but I’ve been proper poorly since Thursday. I was grovelling to Michael on the phone this morning (worse than phoning in sick to your boss, I’m telling you; he can be a stern little madam at times) and he’s agreed to let me carry on guesting for a couple more days. Praise the Lord and pass the Nurofen! More later, with luck…

Tied to the bed, begging for more.

(posted by Martin)

martintagAfter lunch, we go back to the hotel room. We run to the room with indecent haste, undress each other quickly, and make love in the shower. It’s cramped, oppressive. I like the feeling of closeness, his breath on my neck, his chest hair tickling me, the wicked look that plays across his face as he reaches down and feels stubble. He pulls me close, tells me what he wants to do, and I simply say ‘yes’. He isn’t gentle. That’s fine. It’s an intense feeling. Later, as I lie in his arms, I play with his nipple ring while he calls room service. We share a bottle of wine, and I give him a massage that becomes a caress, that becomes something more. And then I fall asleep in his arms.

This is what I have needed all week. It’s not about sex. It’s not about climax. It’s not about Cal chasing Michael through the flat, pinning him against the wall in the bedroom and making him whimper. It’s about intimacy and closeness. It’s about two people who are so close that they almost become one, but it’s about more than that. It’s about companionship, but it’s about more than that too. And this, I think, is where I’ll stop. We’re going out for dinner tonight. Little place we know, just off the Champs Elysées.

Thanks to Mike for the opportunity to do this. It’s been fun. And, sometimes, thought provoking.

Goodnight and take care,



(posted by Venus)

Hello again all you out there in blog-land. I’ve decided to take the day off yesterday in celebration of TD’s birthday. My congratulations go out to Mike for sticking to this for so long. What a commitment.

A thought or two on promiscuity

The wonderful Gordon has caused quite a riot of ideas with this question and I would like to add my two cents. The first thing that came to my mind is the different definitions of “sex” you would get if you asked men and women how they would best describe how the experience makes them feel. I get the impression that for men, sex is more like a drug fix. It feels good, and then it’s done. For women (of at least myself), I think our bodies go into the nesting mode afterward, sending out all these funky hormones that convince us we’re “in love.” We fantasize about that man we caught and don’t want to let him go. It’s a high that’s much more than that of orgasm only. Now, I have been clinically depressed since I was thirteen years old and I have some experience with hormones and how the right or wrong ones affect not only your mood, but personality as well. I’m blabbing on…the conclusion: Nature has programmed females to stay with their man, yet has programmed men to move on without the whole emotional setback. Who knows, though, right?

My second thought on the subject was about traditionalism. Women have been brought up that you should be a good girl while men are not disencouraged to romp about. Even in my group of friends there are the gay men who are the sl*ts, the lusty drunks, the couples with “rules” etc. There’s a structure for every social situation, I suppose.

Happy Halloween to all you trick-or-treaters out there!

E-mail Tennis

(posted by Martin)

martintagI’ve been swapping e-mails all day with Hugh, who lives in Falkirk, and helpfully points out that there are plenty of late buses back, but I’m welcome to stop over if I want. He looks a bit like Pete Sampras, and I’ve seen eight pictures of him that appear to be genuine. Some are more intimate than others. I don’t think I’ve got the guts to go and see him.

Today, I went to the St James Centre at about three o’clock. I went to the washrooms that are tucked away just behind there. I made eye contact with a number of men who were there looking for mid-afternoon entertainment, but I didn’t take it any further. I wasn’t really in the mood, and it all felt just too seedy. Plus there was nobody there worth getting to know further.

My internet friend could be my new best friend within a matter of hours. I don’t know whether I’m going to go through with it. He knows that. I’ve been honest with him. But I haven’t walked away yet. Every e-mail feels a little more like commitment, a little more we have in common, a little more like we’re already together and performing indoor acrobatics.

Thanks to gills, for reminding me that I don’t have to cheat on Hari. But, as gills says, the idea is in my head. It’s like an itchy catchy tune that I need to scratch. The more I ignore it the worse it gets.

Michael now knows that I know about him and Cal. This has made things even more awkward between us somehow. I think it’s because he now knows that I know that it was him screaming out for more the other night. Every look he gives me is laced with tones of “Martin knows what I sound like when I’m enjoying the company of a male friend”. Or maybe it’s just because he wanted me to think that he was straight, or a top, and now I know he’s neither.

I’m looking at the pictures in my e-mail box. It’s very, very tempting. And Hari doesn’t mind. Very, very tempting.

Boo Humbug

(posted by asta)

I’ve been trying to put to together a witty and insightful piece on the popularity of Halloween in Canada. It’s not going to happen, because in truth, I don’t get it.

I understand why the kids think it’s the best day of the year, next to Christmas.
With unidentifiable hordes of them knocking on doors after dark and being handed all the candy their parents never let then have any other time of the year, what’s not to love?
It’s the adult complicity in this sugar shock-fest that stumps me.
In late August the specially designed packages of miniature chocolate bars, and rockets and kisses start showing up on the shelves along with the requisite bags to put it in. A bag of 50 bars, each the size of a hotel pillow chocolate, will cost anywhere between 7 and 15 dollars. Handing out one pathetic looking little chocolate bar to a “trick or treater” will most assuredly result in you becoming the recipient of a trick (involving toilet paper and shaving cream at its most benign) or in the part of Canada where I grew up, something much more expensive.( Don’t ask me why tipping cows, and setting bridges on fire is so popular. I told you. I don’t get any of it) Figure on shelling out at least a dollar a kid. It’s not unusual to have more than 100 little darlings come knocking at your door.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Once upon a time, (cue up cranky ol’ bat music here) it was enough to buy a pumpkin, carve out a rough approximation of a scary-face, place a lighted candle inside and position the wonky jack-o-lantern in the living room window. The house was now decorated. Not anymore. Halloween decorations now rival those of Christmas on the expensively tacky scale. Don’t believe me?
Did you see how many items are sold out? Madness.
Even worse is the politically correct Halloween. Look, handing out colouring books or toothbrushes is just stupid. Either participate or don’t. Or do what I do.
Hand out treats to any child below eye level. They’re the first to arrive since they have earlier bedtimes. They are the first wave. It lasts about an hour. Then I turn off the lights and arrange to be elsewhere. Works for me. The coven is putting on a really fab do this year.

The curse of the O.A.P.

(posted by Gordon)

Mike, mind I use your site to rant? No? Wonderful (such a lovely man…)

I’ll preface this by saying that I know one day I will be old(er), but I will never be a woman, and this is about “wee old wummin”.

I nipped to the shops at lunchtime to pick up my Halloween costume, and then zipped into Marks to buy some sandwiches. I picked up my items (3 of them) and joined the ‘express’ queue for 5 items or less. In front of me in the queue were two “wee old wummin”, you know the type – slightly hunched, shortsighted (but wouldn’t lower themselves to wear glasses), with tight white hair, 5 cardigans and a heavy coat.

They shuffled forward carrying a basket between them, at a glance I could tell there were more than 5 items in there.

They get to the checkout and tell the young lady that the shopping is split between them and they don’t think they have more than 5 items each… as they tell her this, they pull and prod at the shopping like a child who hasn’t yet learned to count.

The next checkout is free so I step forward.

If you have shopped in Marks you may have noticed some of the tills display, not only the amount due, but the number of items purchased. The first “wee old wummin” was paying for her 7 items as I got to my checkout, and as I was receiving my change I heard the second “wee old wummin” pip up… “I think you’ve got my change wrong dear”. I glanced across and noticed she had purchased 8 items. (You can see where this is heading, can’t you…)

The checkout girl checks the change, and apologises for her error, handing “wee old wummin” number two her extra 5p.

Queue Gordon, in a probably too loud voice:

“Ohh you CAN count then!”

Followed by a swift turn on my heel, a snatching up of my shopping and a fuming, glaring exit from the store.

My point? Wee old wummin get away with bloody murder!!!! Yes I was brought up to respect my elders, but only when they are worthy of it. It was quite obvious to me, and from the tuts, sighs, and pointed looks being thrown their way by other members of the queue, quite obvious to everyone else*, that these two ‘old dears’ were at it.

I should possibly point out that this is out of character, I had had less than 5 hours sleep (always makes me grumpy) and less than 10 minutes before had lost out on a parking space because another “wee old wummin” had gone the wrong way round the car park to get to it first. Petty? Yes, but I was in a bad mood and didn’t really need an excuse. Not big, not clever either, blah blah blah…

Wisely enough, the man collecting for the Sally Army outside the store didn’t rattle his can in my direction. I may very well have told him where to put his donation!!!!

* I must’ve missed my ovation in my rush to get out of the store.


(posted by Martin)

martintagI’d just like to thank the people who took the time to write to me, especially those who sent photographs.

– Owen, I’m afraid that although you’re charming and literate, and almost worryingly local, I’ll have to turn you down, as your pictures suggest that you’re not ‘my type’.

– Barry, while your pictures suggest that you definitely are ‘my type’, I’m not looking for a relationship. Good luck with that.

– Paul. You’re definitely ‘my type’ too. I like the fact that you’re not looking for anything in terms of commitment, but I’m not in a position to fly over to New York, no matter how big your apartment is, and no matter how adventurous you are in bed. And if you fly over here, I suspect I’ll be freaked out and hide in a corner.

Thank you all.


(posted by asta)

This is a tangent on Gordon’s thought-provoking post (and TD reader comments) just below. Ok it isn’t really, it’s just an excuse to happily splash about in the shallow end of the pool.

I watch a lot of tv, and living in Canada, I get to choose from the best of three worlds- British, American and Canadian productions. I get programming from France too, but the French don’t understand television, are unable to claim it as their own creation, and so are doing their very best to destroy it altogether with shabby Vegas rip-off variety hours and deep discussions by obscure intellectuals on the significance of dryer lint. So we’ll forget about them, ok?

Each country excels at different types of programming.
Canadians are crackers at documentaries and anything having to do with Anne of Green Gables.

The Americans have the rest of the world beat when it comes to crime, guns, blood or death.

The British own period pieces and explorations of class differences. I also think Brits produce the best comedies.
There I’ve said it. Reams have been written about the difference between the British and American senses of humour and how Canada fits somewhere in the middle ( twas ever thus). I don’t care. When BBC Canada was made available on digital cable I was first in line, so I can say with full conviction the American ‘Coupling’ was excruciatingly awful and deserved to be yanked from NBC’s schedule. Why?

Casting and the inability of the actors and/or directors to understand the material (the American version aired with verbatim scripts. The only changes were of the beer vs. pint variety). And it’s not just them. The critics didn’t understand the show either.
A quote from a pertinent paragraph:

All six “Coupling” characters suffer from an overconfidence and self-centeredness that renders them virtually unable to converse with anyone else, except to make reference to the great sex they’re having or could be having. Perhaps the promised edginess of the series is that the trivialization of sex is something American audiences are still uncomfortable with.

Americans want to be loved. They want all characters to be realistic and sympathetic. ( As if any sitcom character is realistic) It’s in the delivery—

When Gina Bellham – UKJane says,” He works in pizza delivery, which just answers all your prayers, doesn’t it? Man, motorbike, has own food.”, she’s speaking from her tiny little heart. When Lindsay Price-US Jane speaks, it’s with tongue firmly planted in cheek – a ‘hey I’m not this shallow and stupid I’m just having you on’. Falls flat.

Likewise every other cast member. Chistopher Moynihan( US Jeff) acts as if he doesn’t understand the meaning of the words he utters. Richard Coyle (UK Jeff) understands every word. He’s thought about these things. It’s taken hours, sometimes years for him to make sense of the world around him. He knows he’s still confused about a few things, but he figures he’s making progress on such topics as breasts and brains.

“I don’t mean individual brains, obviously… I mean, not a brain each. You know, I like intelligent women, but you’ve got to draw the line somewhere… I think breast brains would be over-egging the woman pudding.”
I’m just saying.

I give up

(posted by Gordon)

I’ve been trying to formulate a post for the past two days, but I keep going round in circles (both directions), then editing it so heavily it makes no sense.

Instead, I’ll give you the jist and coherent points and you can take it from there – hell it will probably make more sense that way anyway, and will be a damn site more entertaining if it doesn’t…

My initial thoughts were prompted by Danny’s.. err… exploits, and got me thinking about gay stereotypes. This is where I stopped to consider my phrasing and the order in which to put forward my thoughts. I don’t want to offend and I’m am truly not being judgemental, I’m just very curious (not THAT kind of curious.. well maybe a bit…).

See, I’m tying myself in knots just trying to write a synopsis… so how about I put the P.C. terms aside, show my ignorance of these matters and blunder on forward (I mean, why break the habit of a life time).

So. (Deep breath).

Why does it seem that the gay ‘lifestyle’ involves a lot more promiscuity than a straight ‘lifestyle’?

Is it just that gay men more comfortable with the fact that they have sex, and are more willing to talk about?
Do I just have a blinkered view of the society in which I live?

Obviously this is all limited by my own personal knowledge. I have sex, very good sex thank-you-very-much… hang on, that’s it, isn’t it!

Having ‘come out’ and faced society’s views, doesn’t it make sense that gay men, having had to face up to their own sexuality (OK, didn’t phrase that right), are more comfortable than hetero men? And hence, are more comfortable elaborating about their ‘exploits’?

And that’s where I stop, I’m not sure what my point is, or if I even have one at all? Maybe it’s just curiosity in a different lifestyle? Maybe it’s because I enjoy ‘playing it camp’ (particularly around some work colleagues who are VERY homophobic)? Maybe it’s because the phrase “I have gay friends” makes me sound like I’m trying to be ‘correct’? Or maybe I’m gay and in denial.

Answers on a postcard please (or just the comments, it’s cheaper, faster, and much easier for everyone else to read)

Getting drunk and cheating

(posted by Martin)

martintagI didn’t think I’d have much to write about this week. I thought I’d be going ‘cool, so-and-so wrote a really great post, and in the mean time, here’s my shopping list’. But I’m getting increasingly screwed up as the week goes on, and I hope that you’re all enjoying it.

For a couple of days now, I’ve been seriously considering cheating on my boyfriend. Now, I know it’s not so much cheating when he’s actively endorsing it, but somewhere in my mind it’s cheating, and that’s part of the problem.

But there’s more to it than that – and thanks to Danny, I think I’ve put my finger on it. Random sexual encounters are awful. Be it retrieving your clothes from a stream of unwelcome liquid, fishing a coat-check ticket out of a pool of unspecified liquid, or finding that your new best friend has fallen asleep at an unfortunate moment, there is a lot of very, very bad sex out there.

This wasn’t a problem when I was out and about more often. I’d have a large number of encounters, and the good ones more than made up for the bad ones. And there were some very bad ones.

One in particular involved a member of the Lufthansa Cabin Crew. We met in a bar. He was on stopover, and he was charming, funny, and very attractive. We completely misread each other’s signals. I thought that we would go back to his hotel room, we’d “make out”, and there would be some fairly conventional activities involving erogenous zones. He thought I looked like a dominant bit of rough, and anticipated fun with ropes, and some activities that are best not performed outside on a sloping rock with your clothes folded neatly downstream.

As I say, not a good evening, although I got over my pee-shyness, much to my new best friend’s delight.

So anyway, I’m thinking about the best places to go if I’m going to have a random sexual encounter, in order to reduce the risks of this sort of thing happening. Bars are out, largely because they’re too public. The sauna’s a possibility, mainly because most of the guys you meet there are really, really grateful. But the last time I went there, I brought back a few unwanted friends. And these days, the internet is too scary. Everyone online is apparently between twenty and thirty, and everyone exaggerates at least one point about themselves. You know what I mean.

So I’m thinking about going to a bar in Glasgow instead. Meaning an overnight stay or a night bus home. I need to think about it a bit more.

Anyway, I’m still not sure I want to. I’m still not happy with the ‘open-ness’ that my relationship is suddenly facing. I’m not comfortable with the rules. Danny seems to have it sussed… have awful sex with strangers so that your boyfriend can dine out on it for years. I don’t think that’s me, though.

And if I do cheat on Hari, and it’s awful, should I give myself a second chance so I can get it right?

We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves. -Lynn Hall

(posted by Venus)

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a place far, far away (A five hour drive is pretty far, isn’t it?) there was a little vacation village by the name of Tulameen. And a very beautiful village it was. People drove in from all around the province to spend their time off at the cabins by the lake. There was a annual parade for these vacationers during the week of “Tulameen Days.” Motorboats growl on the lake towing waterskiers or tubers behind. The song of a child’s laughter floats along with the breeze.

And then it was invaded by a creature some call the “teenager.” As soon as darkness fell, they came in droves with keys to their parents’ cabins or just tents. They pitched camp in backyards, in the woods or on the beach. Wherever they was room. The locals are used to their strange behaviour. Loud, unfamiliar melodies drifted from the cabins and tents, the roads were full with pedestrians feeding off beer and chain smoking. In Tulameen, this was just a part of life. Some ended their day and went to sleep, awakening to the bright sunshine the next day.

But for that strange race, the day had just begun.

I was one of them, somewhat of a leader. My Tulameen was a town of darkness, friendship and community. Never have I seen so many cliques of people my age get along so wonderfully. In a life dictated by rules imposed by all the major players in our lives, this was our one taste of freedom. And it was sweet.

The town was ours. Wander to the lake and someone will be out swimming, possibly skinny dipping. Throughout the woods people were scattered, if you were lucky, you could find a game of “Capture the Flag” in progress. It was always fun to move the flags and mess up the game. It’s a given that there will be more than a few couples making noises in the tents. We had it all. Travel back to our cabin for another drink and people packed wall to wall. Someone was always wondering where their pillow went. Someone was always sick in the bathroom. And another unlucky stranger had been talked into taking shots of my friend’s dad’s moonshine. Good times, good times.

But then one day something strange happened. Everyone fell asleep. I was walking back to the cabin and stopped to light a cigarette. Wait. Something was very odd. I can’t hear any voices. Pushing open the cabin door, I froze. It was like being in an amusement park funhouse, but it was deserted. Quiet and desolate. Every little sound echoed causing somewhat of a microphonic effect. I found myself alone, my friends sleeping to restore their exhausted souls. What had happened?

I went to the bathroom and locked the door. There wasn’t even anyone crashed in the bathtub. This is like a twilight zone. At this moment in time, I felt lonelier than I ever had in my entire life. I wash my hands and glance in the mirror. Wait, who was that? Me, of course. But something’s different. The tears in my eyes turn them into a piercing green. I watched the tears trickle down my face and drop into the sink. I see something. I see something in my eyes I haven’t ever seen before. Immediately, I feel comforted yet continue to watch that girl in the reflection cry. I see her looking at me, deep into my eyes as I stare into hers. Nice to meet you, I think.

I awaken the next morning with a sore neck because I didn’t have a pillow. Where did it go? I look around at my friends. Talking, laughing, complaining about hangovers and I suddenly feel like I don’t belong. I never really did belong. For the first time in my life, I felt like I knew myself. I needed to get out of here.

That day I caught a ride with friends and slept the whole way home. I found out later that they watched my go, saying “That was the last time we’ll ever see her.” And it was true.

I am still friends with most, but that was the last time they ever saw that naive and careless girl with tears in her eyes. And they do still go to Tulameen. They take their children swimming in the lake and help them build a sandcastle. They go to the General Store (Restaurant / Gas Station / Drugstore / Grocery store) for breakfast and complain about the grumpy, scary looking teenagers with the bags under their eyes who look like they’ve been up all night. Where are their parents, anyway?

To this day I have never been back.

When the moon was young

(posted by asta)

My childhood had a soundtrack, which isn’t unusual in itself, except mine wasn’t made up of Fred Penner, or Raffi, or even (heaven forbid) Barney. Mine was Broadway musicals interspersed with bits of Rimsky Korsakov, Rachmaninoff and a little bit of Mozart and Strauss for levity. I was a prima ballerina for the classical bits- you should have seen my Sheherazade- but my heart belonged to the musicals.

My father was the audiophile. An engineer by profession, he spent his free time building record players, then stereo systems, tape machines and finally he wired the whole house for sound. His work demanded that he travel away from home for long periods of time, but the neighbours didn’t need to see the car in the yard to know when he returned, they could hear the music from our house. And the laughter. His return meant a relaxation of rules and softening of voices. Tall and ruggedly handsome, he carried a gentleness and spirit of bonhomie with him wherever he went. I adored him.

Almost anything seemed to make its way into his ever-expanding collection of LPs- jazz, opera, folk, classical, spoken-word- he loved it all.
The best day of the week was Sunday, after church, when he’d rush through the door ahead of us and put on a Broadway soundtrack. Then the two of us would dance around the living room, while my mother prepared lunch for whoever would be dropping by later. There were always guests, but for at least half an hour we had the music to ourselves, twirling and dipping, lost in the melodies. On the very best Sundays he’d play The Fantasticks- the original cast recording, because no other existed then. The one with Jerry Orbach as El Gallo. I wish I could play all of it for you, but if you go here, at least you can listen to the Overture, and a snippet of the September Song, sung by Jerry. His interpretation is definitive. All others reduce the song to a piece of rank cheese.

I thought life was as perfect as it could get until the summer the R___ Playhouse opened; the brainchild of my parents and some theatre friends from New York. I don’t know how it all came together, but our little town was suddenly a venue for summerstock for several years- aspiring young hopefuls from New York would spend the months of July and August performing established hits in the back of beyond. Since Daddy was doing all the sound and lighting, and Mom was doing all the administration, the theatre became my babysitter. Bliss. I never moved from the back row. I was riveted to rehearsals on the stage. I knew every line of dialogue and every song by heart. Oklahoma!, South Pacific, Carnival, My Fair Lady , …and of course The Fantasticks.
My mother tells me the director would sometimes shame forgetful actors by telling them, ” if a four -year-old can learn this, you should be able to”. It’s a wonder I wasn’t strangled before opening night, but at that age, precocious is cute. This cuteness has a short shelf life, but I worshipped the actors and they liked being worshipped.
. I wanted to be them.

But first I had to go to school. My first grade teacher, Miss C, was one of those rare breed that inspired every student she taught. She told us we were brilliant and all destined for great things. She spent extra time with those who took a little longer at mastering putting the letter A within the lines. She always had extra coins for those who ” forgot” their milk money. We all wanted to impress her-so when she asked the class one day if anyone knew any songs, my hand shot into the air. This was my moment to shine. But first Debbie had to sing ” Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and then Jean did a passable version of ” Ba Ba Black Sheep” before she called on me. Showtime!
I don’t know what I started with, but she kept asking for more. The rest of the class ceased to exist. I was on fire. When the bell rang for recess, she asked me to stay behind and sing for some of the other teachers. An adult audience! I may get to the stage before the Second Grade! But it was a little odd. She kept asking me to sing “that other song”, the one I sang before. I’d launch into the chorus of ” Plant a Radish” and she’d stop me, and I’d try again with something else. Why couldn’t she just tell me which song she wanted? Finally recess ended and I returned to my seat.

That night, at the dinner table, one of the rare times Dad was home during the week, my mother turned to me and said
” I understand you were singing today”
” Oh yes, I sang My Fair Lady, and Kiss Me Kate, and the Fantasticks and….” She cut me off and turned to my father.
” Dear, she sang the Rape Song from the Fantasticks.”
They thought it was hysterical. I didn’t get the joke.
” It’s my favourite song. Why is it funny?”
” Nevermind, asta, I’m sure you were wonderful.”

Today, I’ve little doubt social services would have been alerted, an inquiry launched and a team of psychologists deployed. My teacher and parents were wise enough to realise that it was just a bunch of words to me. And it was a different age.
Not familiar with the song? Its official title is It Depends on What you Pay. Sample lyric:

You can get the rape emphatic.
You can get the rape polite.
You can get the rape with Indians:
A very charming sight.
You can get the rape on horseback;
They all say it’s new and gay.
So you see the sort of rape
Depends on what you pay.
It depends on what you

I still have the recording. It’s been years since I’ve listened to it. I put it away when I was 10, after Dad died in a plane crash and everything changed.

A naked bid for power.

(posted by Mike)

Over at Naked Blog, Peter has proposed me as a leadership candidate for the Conservative Party, along with Zed, Nigel and Quickos.

Let’s face it; any one of the four of us couldn’t possibly do a worse job than “Quiet man” IDS, Michael “Something of the night” Howard, David “Who?” Davies, Oliver “Aren’t common people ghastly?” Letwin, or any of the rest of that frightful shower.

If I were a Tory, and I genuinely wanted to scare Blair, then I’d currently be crawling back to Ken Clarke on my hands and knees, or else leaving IDS in place till the next election (already lost, so who cares?) and bringing back William Hague immediately afterwards (too young and green to be leader last time round, but if they really want someone who’s going to convert floating voters, then there’s no-one better.) Alternatively, as The Guardian suggests this morning, I’d be beating a path to cuddly old Boris Johnson’s door. (A mate of mine fancies Boris, you know. And you thought Danny was indiscriminate!)

However. Since none of the above are going to happen, it therefore falls to one of the four of us to lead the Tories on to (cough, splutter) victory (mwahahaha – collapses under desk in mirth).

Scarily enough, I’ve met quite a lot of Tories over the past year, so I think I might have gained some useful insights into the mindset. The Tories in question have all been liberal, knights-of-the-shires, one-nation, old-school types, rather than the swivel-eyed, on-yer-bike, if-it-moves-flog-it-off types, so that will be the initial “heartland” for my campaign.

Based on this recent experience, I can promise you two things. My leadership pledges…

1) Lovely manners, especially at table. Seating Plans for every British citizen!

2) No-one will ever be allowed to finish their sentences ever again. Because true Tories interrupt. Always. Let’s say goodbye to the unnecessary wastage of sentence endings! Forwards into a more interventionist Britain!

If elected, I will appoint Buni as my Shadow Education Secretary, on the strength of this wizard idea of his in Peter’s comments box:

As there will be so much table manners, we could have a voucher scheme, whereby every girl and boy who turns 18 can use their vouchers at Le Manoir. (*)

(*) Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Raymond Blanc’s Michelin-starred restaurant/hotel.

Now, that’s the sort of out-of-the-box thinking I want to encourage.

As for this week’s guest bloggers: naturally, Danny will be my spokesman for Foreign Affairs. Eminently qualified, as I’m sure you’ll agree. Gordon is an obvious choice for shadow Scottish secretary. As party chairman, Asta can use her newly (and painfully) acquired de-skunking knowledge to rid our party of the stench of conspiracy; I’ll be authorising her to turn her peroxide hoses on any scheming rodent who dares oppose me. Martin can be shadow Sports minister, with a special brief to pump some new life into our national rugby squads. And, as shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Venus gets the chance to deploy her full range of scientific calculators, in her quest to balance the nation’s books.

Vote Mike! I promise you nothing but national unity, world peace, racial and religious harmony, an end to poverty, and beautiful period-meets-contemporary furnishings in every home in the land!

Waiting for the man I love

(posted by Martin)

martintagSo I finally get to talk to Hari. Things are going well, and he reckons he’ll be back at the end of next week. I tell him about Cal and Michael in the next room going at it like a barn door flapping in the wind, and I hear Michael shouting that he wants it harder, which is nice. Hari can hear it over the phone, too, which is a nice, and he says it reminds him of the last time he was in Paris.

Now, the last time he was in Paris was with me – we went for my birthday. We did all the touristy things, saw the art, walked around the architecture, drank the coffee, did the shopping, and in homage to Quentin Tarantino, we enjoyed the earthly pleasures of a Royale with Cheese.

We also met a very pleasant gentleman from Algeria who introduced himself as “Saber”, and with whom we spent a very distracting evening in our hotel. I think it was possibly the loudest sex that I’ve ever had. Saber was about twenty, and in some dimensions he was the biggest man I’ve ever seen. Sweet, considerate, a great kisser, and incredible stamina. We woke the neighbours. Twice. And this is the part of the story that Hari is telling me, reminding me of how, when the nice young man from next door knocked on our door and asked us to keep the noise down, I answered the door in a dressing gown to preserve my dignity, while Hari and Saber were locked in each other on the bed, but clearly visible from the door. I’m apologising in my haltering French and meanwhile Hari and Saber are shouting at me, telling me to come back to bed so that we can get on with things.

Needless to say, Hari goes in to much more graphic detail than that. And by the end, as Michael and Cal reach a conclusion in the other room, Hari and I do much the same in our own way.

It’s not the same, though. I tell Hari that, and he acknowledges it. And he tells me that he loves me, and I tell him that I love him, and then he tells me once again that if I need to, or want to, I should have sex with someone. He tells me that he knows that I have… urges… and that as long as I’m not actually depriving him of the chance to satisfy them, he’s okay with it. Whether it’s because I’m tired or because I’m intoxicated by listening to his voice, or because I’m still pretty unsatisfied despite the act of self-pleasure we’ve just indulged in, he seems to make a lot of sense to me.

Damn, I don’t know where I’m going with this.

Anyway, this morning, Michael has gone before I get up, Cal is wandering around like the cat that got the cream. I’m in meetings with Michael all morning. I reckon it’s going to be awkward.

Everything you can imagine is real. -Pablo Picasso

(posted by Venus)

I feel like I’m just passing by in life. Like I’m sitting back waiting for something to happen. I know it will happen, it always does. Are the choices we make actually choices of an infinite nature? Or do our personalities restrict us to only certain paths? Maybe someone who has an unexplained phobia is given that phobia to aide them with a certain situation in the future. I guess that all leads back to fate. Do I believe in fate? I think I do. Granted, not all the small choices in life could be controlled by it. I don’t believe that it’s fate which allows you to have a chicken salad for lunch. That is too immaterial to even think about. Who cares why you eat what you eat. But what about the larger choices? Like where you live, what your home looks like, what country you reside in. One may have enough gusto to just pack a bag and move halfway around the world while another only dreams.

I wonder if a single event can change a life path and set it’s future direction. When we were thinking of buying a bigger apartment, I had this thought. If we get this place, my future is set out ahead of me. Live there, have one child, and one day own the firm I’m working at. Or, there’s another thought. If for some reason, neither of us can have kids, we will get a penthouse downtown and live a luxurious life. That would of course mean that I would work downtown. There I could fully use my abilities and see how far I could actually go in my career. Maybe I’d be a CFO of a huge corporation. Or maybe I’ll find myself alone in life in which case I’ll retreat to Thailand and teach english. How do I get to these conclusions? It’s very straight in my mind. If…then. If….then. I don’t understand how I get to the particular “then” in question, but once I see it, there is absolutely no other possible scenario. I don’t think everyone’s this rigid, are they?

Maybe I should just chill out. I’ve been told many times that my shoulders are too wide for someone my age. I carry the weight of the world on them. Now, if that were true, my darling, I wouldn’t have to do anymore shoulder shrugs at the gym, now, would I?

As I think about the events of this so far unfulfilled day, I look over at the blue bong sitting on the desk. What a mess. I need to get some new screens. Hash is great but the oil plugs up anything it’s smoked through. I empty the ashes directly on the desk. Later would be a better time to be neat and tidy. Not now. Never now. I pile a pinch of really dry shredded pot into the bowl, light it and inhale deeply. The weight of the world is lifting from my shoulders. Ahh. Ironically, now I can breathe. With each exhale I feel lighter. The phone rings for the third time in a row and I decide to answer the hubby’s call.

me: “How’s your day going?”
“Pretty good. Where were you this afternoon?”
“I went grocery shopping. There was a sale on meat, so I bought some. I also got a bunch of meats and cheeses for the psychic party tomorrow. So don’t eat it all.”
“I’ve been looking into the Philippines.”
“For what?”
“Apparently it’s super cheap, even cheaper than Thailand. And it’s a free stopover.”
“Tell me something I don’t know. That’s the idea you hated when I was first looking into flights. You are SO three months behind, sweetheart.”

Of course he has to think of it to make it a good idea. Men. Gotta love ’em (and I do).

Grocery Shopping. That reminds me, I have to put away the food. I walk lazily to the kitchen and start emptying the bags. Sausage, turkey slices, three kinds of cheeses. Mmm. Grapes and tomatoes, coffee and whipping cream. Eggs. And enough meat to last two weeks. What have I eaten today? A little can of tuna, the kind with the pull off lid. Goddamn cat food. Why did I even bother? I need something else. I grab a wing off the rotissery chicken and put it in the fridge. I used to love rotissery, but I think I overdid it when converted from a vegetarian back to a carnivore. It’s just not as good as it used to be. Oh, well. It’s still better than tofu.

Hee hee hee.

Wild Kingdom*

*(not that kind of wild, for that, I refer you back to Martin and Danny)

(posted by asta)

I was in such a state yesterday that I forgot to introduce myself. How rude. Then again, it may be my awkwardness with introductions that subconsciously had me skip mine. I never know what to say, since I feel anything I say will be inadequate, misleading, subject to misinterpretation, or a combination of all three. I am both greater and less than the sum of my self-descriptions.
Enough prevaricating.

I’m a female married anglo living in “la belle province” on the outskirts of Montreal. This is the second time in my life I’ve lived in Montreal and while I didn’t return willingly, I’m enjoying it more the second time around. Age mellows. Speaking of age, the calendar and statistics say I’m middle-aged. I don’t believe a word of it-although the bathroom mirror tells a different story. I’ve had two disparate careers, none of which I’m prepared to talk about here. It’s a small world.

Friends and acquaintances tell me that I am (among other things) the most pulled-together, organized, and unflappable person they know. I tell them they need to meet more people…..let me illustrate.

We own a Miniature Schnauzer named Spenser. He’s a great little buddy, and despite his advancing age and a heart murmur he’s a pretty happy guy. Except for thunder. I won’t go into why he’s terrified by it, since it’s all just supposition on my part anyway. He just is. He shakes and hyperventilates and doesn’t believe me when I tell him it’s nothing.
So for four hours he stayed glued to my side as the heavens roared.
Finally the storm passed. Time for bed. Plenty to do tomorrow. Since he hadn’t been outside for awhile I thought it best to let him make a visit to the tree in the yard before calling it a night.
There’s a lovely calm in the air right after a big storm, everything smells clean and fresh, right up until the moment he met his first skunk.
I didn’t even have time to sound the alarm. POOF.
My little guy stops dead in his tracks. He’s been gassed.
Now I’ve heard other people’s tales about this happening, but I’ve never had it happen to any of my dogs before. I’’m alone in the house. D’s away on a road trip. Lucky him. It’s too late to wake any of the neighbours and ask them for advice. All I remember is that tomato juice is an old wives tale.
So this is where I make my first mistake.
I pick up Spenser and bring him into the house.
Oh*My*Gawd!! As I’m running and gagging my way to the kitchen sink I’m already thinking that I’ll never get the smell out of the house.
Deposit freaked-out, half-blind dog in sink and turn on the water. Second mistake. I’m just spreading the smell around.
Pick dog up, run to the bathroom and deposit in bathtub. Remember to put towel under dog so he doesn’t slip. Wet shaking dog is now thoroughly traumatised. Leave dog in bathtub and run to computer room and turn on machine. Elapsed time- three minutes. Curse machine for taking another two minutes to boot up. Google search skunk spray. Jackpot on first try. All I need is a gallon of peroxide. Sure, I always have a gallon or two around the house. Run back to bathroom to see how much we do have. Looks like about two cups to me. No problem. He’s a small dog, we’ll just make this work. Run back to kitchen for baking soda and liquid soap. Gag. Make note that kitchen will need serious attention later. Mix up solution. Apply to dog. Rinse. Damn. Forgot to wait five minutes. Hard to tell if dog still reeks. Think olfactory nerves are fried. Reapply solution. Wait. No watch on. Hard not to notice that bathroom is small enclosed space and I still want to retch. Get up and turn on bathroom fan. Rinse dog. leave dog to find more old towels.
Check computer to see what it says about house smell and whether or not my clothes can be saved.
Discover just how big mistake number one was. Says nothing but time and ventilation will work. Clothes can be washed with high concentration of bleach. Probability of dark clothing surviving bleach- less than 20 per cent. Will pack in plastic bag and worry about later. Back to dog . Towel off. Smells…. better but I can still smell skunk. especially around snout. Put dog back in tub. Give face extra attention. Leave dog and hunt for more towels. Grab Lysol spray and frantically spray upper level of house. I’m kidding myself. Return to dog. Rinse. Okay. Not great, but much better. Towel off dog again. Let dog out of bathroom to run around and finish drying. Elapsed time 40 minutes.
Grab all the towels and head for laundry room. Put three cups of bleach in the wash and let it rip. Strip remaining clothes, bag them and head for the shower. Get out of shower. Dress and grab jug of bleach. Wash down front door, front landing, kitchen and bathroom. total elapsed time 1 hour 25 minutes.
The house stinks of skunk, bleach, Lysol, and bayberry room freshener(it was there,so I sprayed)…. but mostly skunk.
Dog is curled up in ball on his bed five feet away,sound asleep. Am considering slathering myself in teatree oil in hopes that I can smell something besides skunk before dawn.

Crazy things we type in to our computers

(posted by Martin)

martintagBloke A: Thwack!
Bloke B: Ouch

Repeat ad nauseam.

That’s what I watched happening today in a chat room. A public display of the most boring sexual activity on the planet, in front of an audience of about a dozen. There ought to be laws against this, and indeed there probably are.

Why is yawning contagious?

(posted by Gordon)

Well the most common answer is along the lines of… cavemen… alpha male… control of group… monkeys… showing largest canines… that type of thing. Grrrr, fecking alpha males, trying to control everyone as usual. I really don’t like them, strutting about like they own the place and using (whether they are aware of it or not) clever peer pressure tactics to maintain their popularity, something they perceive as superiority, even if that popularity is transient.

Hmmm hang on and I’ll backtrack a little.

I work in a male dominated industry. My office in particular is full of stereotypical alpha males. Strutting around, projecting their own form of authority like self-important peacocks. I hate it.

You know the type. The ones who enjoy the sound of their own voice far too much, who presume that because they have said something it MUST be right, and who, whilst they may ask for your opinion, only do so because they vaguely remember that they ‘should’ even if they are not sure why.

You come across these men all over the place, shouting into mobile phones, treating waiting staff like they are dirt, and generally walking around like their **** doesn’t stink.

In fact I find these characters so repulsive that they are fascinating, in the same way that you want to ‘just have another quick glance’ at that person with the disfigurement, I find myself watching them in action, trying to figure out just how insecure they are with themselves, and if they even realise that there is such a thing. Are they presuming that their arrogance and overbearing personality somehow makes them seem confident and assured? Do they understand that without integrity and compassion they will never be anything other than the class bully manifested in the adult world?

What makes these people (for it is not always a male trait) the way they are? Is it purely upbringing? Did they have an overbearing father to live up to? Or was it a lack of an authoritarian figure that lead them to become what they are?

Of course it’s always easy to look at others critically, make assumptions and proceed to erroneous conclusions. But dare we cast the same eye over ourselves?

I’m not an alpha male, mainly because my mother was the authoritative figure in our household, and I was following my fathers lead. Instantly that will make you think that my Mum ruled the roost and my Dad was hen-pecked. That, of course, isn’t the full story. My Dad is very laid-back, my Mum is the worrier. My Dad is happy to take things as they come, and likes to keep busy, pottering round the house. My Mum likes plans, lists, organisation, and ‘gets things done’ when needed.

Most of the conflict between child/teenager and parent in our house was between me and my Mum, in fact I’m pretty sure all of it was. Did this shape the adult I’ve become? As I wasn’t allowed to easily stamp my authority in those situations I guess it did. One vital thing I DID learn was that intelligence was a far bigger weapon than any physical attribute*. Brains not brawn is the way to go…

Now I know you are all thinking.. where the hell is he going with all this.

And you know what.. so am I….

* yes a deliberate OOERRR phrase, well I’ve got to try and keep up with my (clearly) over-sexed companions… (jealous? me?)