Friday, 31 December 2010

In-Laws

The in-laws are an unusual bunch. I suppose anyone’s in-laws will be unusual to them; it is, after all, another family – part of the package when you are planning to be marriaged to your significant other.


One of the things that strikes me about having in-laws (or soon to be in-laws) is the ordinariness of it. It never occurred to me that coming out I would end up having a normal life. Indeed, one of the things holding me back was the – entirely baseless – fear of losing that option. And part of coming out was recognising that, firstly, it was possible and secondly an ordinary life wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be anyway.

So things have come full circle and now it’s time to concern myself less with fashion and fitness and blowjobs, and more with marriage, mortgages and... in-laws.

We spent Christmas with them, as we did last year. Fella’s parents had recently moved from the house where he had lived with them to a new place that they’re still settling into. We travelled up on Christmas eve and came back on 27th. Three days... all dictated by the train timetable. Next year we ARE getting a car! Fortunately this year we were allowed to share a room so that’s certainly progress. All in all it was nice to get away and relax for a bit; nice to get cooked for, nice to get some loot!

Fella’s mother is very religious, which can be awkward... but as she suffers from MS can also be problematic logistically. She’s fiercely intelligent and adores Fella, and fortunately she and I get on vey well, so I’m more concerned about her health than her religion. Fella’s father is a world-class grouch, and he turned 65 over the Christmas break so was more cantankerous than usual. Again, we get on rather well though I secretly think him very hard on Fella. Still, since we’ve been together Fella’s relationship with his dad has improved markedly so that is a benefit.

Well, we survived, and we’re back home preparing for a quiet New Year at home. I hope the above doesn’t read with too much bad grace. Having in-laws is quite an unexpected side-effect of my relationship. It’s quite pleasant actually, and as always I do realise I’m lucky (honest, gentle reader) and we’re lucky, in that we have families that accept us and that we can do something as mundane as schlep up to visit them at Christmas time. Most years.

I hope you had a great Christmas gentle reader; and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Plenty of Fish

Below is Gypsy Moth. The third member of our little family. This is as far as I’m willing to go for the moment with Fella’s increasingly strident attempts to have kids. Originally meant to be my birthday present she is in fact the surviving member of the fourth pair we bought. On each occasion waking up to their prone corpses floating in the water caused Fella much distress so, Gentle Reade, we’ve decided to stick with just this one for the time being.


I will admit she’s quite the trouper. We’ve had her a few weeks now and she’s tolerated the condition we put her in well. Not that we’ve stinted. Special gravel; plants and a lovely amphora to swim about. Special chemicals to treat the special water to be pumped through the special filter and be aerated by a noisy box on the sideboard. We’ve gone through the nitrate cycle, the ammonia cycle, and the Cloudy Water of Fish Death. Then there’s the special food... yes, this is one pampered poisson.

How do we know she is a she? We looked it up, among the frantic Google searches about fin-rot and why the hell-crap-damn my fish keep dying.

Still, she has some personality. Before Baron von Richthofen Fish passed on (I’m sure he just did it out of spite) she delighted in swimming underneath him then rising up swiftly, essentially flipping him out of the water. Now, when she sees me, she comes right up to the glass before swimming rapidly from side to side, all the while facing me, almost like she's dancing. She clearly associates me with (special) food... It pleases Fella and I to see her swimming around her tank exploring whether gravel has magically become edible overnight.

Now that we’ve managed to slaughter half the Piscean inmates of ‘Pets at Home’ I think we’re settled. This one, the eighth one, is a keeper. We like her well.

JINX!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Bunking up

Fella and I have lived together for nearly six months now, and so far so good. The occasional row, the occasional dinner party. Domestic bliss. Some routines have been settled into well; he cooks, I iron. Throw in a frilly apron and you’ve have a scene from the 1950s.


When we only spent a few nights a week together it was... urgent in some ways to take full advantage of the situation. In a small room, in a shared house, only a few hours together it was important to be together. However, it always being the same nights in the week there was always a risk that things would develop a routine in the bedroom as much as in any other area of life. And... not having your own place made options somewhat limited for us.

Now imagine that, gentle reader (not too graphically if you please!) – me in a monogamous relationship with my man; but we’re together two or three nights a week; and our freedom of... expression is strictly limited (though if memory serves we pushed the boundaries a few times).

Now spool forward to moving in; the opportunities are endless – or seemingly so. We’re together much more than we used to be, and can arrange our busy schedules to be together much more easily too.

But – there’s a lot more to being together, and intimacy, than the physical side of things. I like sex, I mean I really do. And I’ve put myself about a bit, as has Fella. Yet every aspect of coming out, being a proper out-there gay man has been about living life, finding love, not wanting to be alone. I’ve enjoyed the experiences I’ve had... and I’ve had them. So, like dating, moving in and getting engaged, there via the process of getting to what’s next.

Having a partner who is good in bed, adventurous and enquiring, is very nice. I will confess now that I have in my time purchased one or two special items, as I’m sure most of us have, that live tucked discreetly in a drawer. Fella, to my amazement, has a drawer veritably bursting at the seams. Very little chance there of things getting stale, sex getting samey. A full and engaging sex life is and will for a long time be a big part of my relationship.

Still, the intimacy is not fully served with sex alone. Sex, as I mentioned, is great – but I’ve always found that being with one person and learning their likes and wants is a far more worthwhile investment than being with lots of people for a short time (though it has its moments).

When Fella comes home tonight I might peel his clothes off with my teeth or we might curl up on the sofa and take in a film. Both have their merits and their attraction. And the thing about being together the way we are is, if we don’t do one thing or another tonight: well, we can do it tomorrow. Or maybe the next day.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Look but don't touch...

Oh there's ever such a lot of eye candy about. I'm not the best looking guy in the world, and in fact am somewhat obsessive about the flaws in my appearance (not uncommon among gay men I've found). Still, sometimes I do feel like a bit of a looker. I compare myself to other guys on my train and think "yeah, not bad". But that's rare.

Sometimes I am quite overwhelmed by the number of great looking guys about. Certainly I often feel the need to raise my game. I'm definitely no complaining though, about the talent around.


Being in a relationship means I can take time out from the whole world of worry around - does he find me attractive? Do I look good? Will he want to date me? Will he want to sleep with me?

I like being considered attractive, and I'm not letting myself go just because I'm with Fella - I'm still very much a work in progress. But there is something very nice about being able to look without having to worry about touching. I can appreciate, for the first time, hot and horny guys. There a fair few of them about.

I don't really like very, very beautiful men - it's an unwelcome reminder of my own ordinarinous [whatever that is]. I'm not into muscle marys, very young guys, very camp guys... I do have a weakness for slim, nerdy geeky type guys. Overall, though, I like just looking. The well dressed, in shape, well groomed man.

It's an expression of sexuality, but not sex. I'm not looking to play away. That very fact underpins the freedom to look, to appreciate the loveliness around me. Coming out makes it OK to look - no more for the furtive glances. Now I can drink it in!

I think it's well worth it gentle reader. Though I might be considered a bit pervy eyeing up people who might be considered a little out of my league. It's harmless fun. Both harmless and fun.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Items of interest II

I spotted this article on Pink News recently and it really caught my attention. For a number of reasons: primarily the ongoing debate about gay adoption - but also the relatively new dynamic of medical opinion opposed to equality.

In essence the article discusses the aim of a doctor who refused to endorse same-sex adoption applications (and who resigned from an adoption panel on that basis) to appeal to and employment tribunal; and onward the European Court of Justice, on the grounds her medical opinion should override equality legislation. She believes that children should only be raised by mixed sex couples; and she claims this view is based on objective medical studies as well as her religious beliefs.

She is being represented by something called the Christian Law Centre, which said “Much of the population, and many studies, would agree with her professional and personal standpoint. Most professional opinion on this issue happens to fit closely with the Christian view. Yet Christians are being increasingly excluded from the public square and this can no longer go unnoticed".

Having worked in medical regulation for some years I would argue her assertions regarding medical evidence are risky. While I have no doubt there are studies that suggest gay couples are less suitable as parents, there are many that come to the opposite conclusion. When considering whether to launch a case against a doctor, on the grounds of professional misconduct, I have to consider whether the doctor's conduct could cause serious harm to patients, his/her colleagues or public confidence in the medical profession: and whether there is a reasonable prospect of probative evidence.

Allowing your religious views to interfere with your professional duties is clearly actionable. Actively discriminating against same sex couples hoping to adopt (and this breaking the law) is clearly actionable. But, by resigning and claiming scientific evidence to support her views, she has created quite an effective shield. No doubt the Christian Law Centre will seek to create a precedent weakening the application of equality legislation. Either way, I imagine the appropriate authorities will watch the case closely.

Studying for a degree in social research, I found the idea of research being used in this way intriguing. In fact a simple review of the available research suggests that it is very limited - there are too few cases of gay adoption and they are too recent for the impact to be objectively measured. But what qualitative research there is is broadly positive. Certainly the process of adoption, for gay or straight couples, means unsuitable parents are filtered out in ways that going out and getting knocked up in a boozy knee-trembler doesn't (see the clip below for a more eloquent discussion of that point). It might be a topic for my own research, going forward... so a timely controversy I suppose.

My own view is of course that any child is better off in any loving supportive home. Having children is a privilege not a right, and provides an awesome responsibility on those involved. And the fact that gay people want to assume that responsibility should be celebrated, not the subject of legal action.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Redundant systems

It’s a-comin’ gentle reader. Maybe soon!


As I have written before I work in the good old NHS. Although the public sector is facing one helluva squeeze here, there, everywhere the NHS’s whopping £108 billion budget is not only ringfenced but is going to grow. Nevertheless the urgent need to focus resources on sick patients *sigh* has meant a need to cut back. In fact the method decided on has been to simply turn back the clock and reduce costs to the level they were in 2008.

My organisation has actually been somewhat restrained but still needs to make cuts because on current plans, to meet Government priorities, we will be running a deficit. Hence the need to make cuts.

Currently I am a business manager for a directorate – a core one at that. This has given me not only a major role in business planning but also access to very senior people. Also, many of those involved in corporate governance are members of the LGBT network at work and we look out for each other ;-)

Thus I am much better informed than my peers . I know that to make the cuts my directorate needs to, we don’t need to make anyone redundant except two; and we have been able to promote one and arrange a supernumerary secondment for another. The rest of the posts cut are vacant or we move people around.

However... I am also employed as what’s known as flexible resource. I normally do fixed roles that are time limited – a project or programme manager if you will – to help keep costs down. As my current and erstwhile colleagues well know it is quite difficult to get rid of someone once employed by the state. So I do the jobs that will come to an end.

Ironically – or not perhaps – that means I am at risk of redundancy not once but twice. If other directorates get rid of their business manager, we all have to reapply for our jobs. But if and posts in the flexible resource team get made redundant, the same thing applies.

To be honest it’s absolutely fine. I’ve been made redundant before and given my length of service the redundancy pay will be good. The organisation I work for is being shot down in April 2012 so it’s going to happen sooner or later unless I transfer elsewhere.

Overall I’d prefer to survive this round and go to the 2012 redundancies. The money will be better I’ll be near to finishing my maters degree; and my own savings will be greater. That will help Fella and I get our married life off to a better start.

Well, I know already that I will have to go through some kind of process. I know the flexible resource team is being slimmed down, so there we are. The announcement is being made on Monday so I can give you an update next week.

Here’s to the future :-)



NB: The announcement came last week and a it turns out in this round I am not at risk of redundancy - so a year's grace!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Items of interest

There were three articles I saw today that interested me. All gay-related, I thought I’d share them with you, gentle reader, as I hope they interest you too. The first, discussed in this post is “Bring Me sunshine” in this week’s Economist.


The article discussed Richard Florida, an economist apparently much in vogue with the Conservative Party. He is an economist from America with strong ideas about the future direction of economic growth, namely that the West shouldn’t pursue low-level menial work, much the preserve of Asia today, but the creative industries – these should be the core engine of growth for us. He helps set out a blueprint for governments’ role in the economy, a topic of much debate, but most interestingly for us today he describes the best possible future as one that is sustainable environmentally, ethnically and culturally diverse, and gay.

Such a future attracts what he terms “freethinkers”. Not musicians, artists or bohemians per se but anyone open to new ideas. Cities that are tolerant of immigrants and gays will succeed. Those not will fail. He uses as an example the post-industrial failed cities in mid-western America (and I see parallels with the post-coal depressed towns in Wales and the north of England): rigid, white, working class, straight. Top down decision making that could not respond to changing times. Anyone who grew up in Thatcher’s Britain will rightly see such analyses as superficial.

I think the idea social liberalism is the key to future prosperity. Although criticised as a positive stereotype Florida argues that cities like Strumpetville have always attracted hardworking and ambitious people and that gay people in particular not only select cities that meet their requirements for aesthetics and amenity, but – crucially – they expand the aesthetics and amenity of the area they are in. Florida has analysed a correlation between house prices and the concentration of gay and lesbian people in a given area. To sum it up – cities without gays or rock bands are going to lose the economic development race.

The criticism of Florida that resonates most is that he confuses cause and coincidence. For example, I think gays are likely to move to up and coming areas but not to depressed working class areas where they are (a) likely to be isolated from other gays and (b) have the crap kicked out of them. I am living proof of that – I’ve slept with a lot of people in my post-code but I know what streets I/we want to live on.

That being written, I am pleased the hear this government, with a tough job and not much love (as much as it deserves to be sure) is listening to someone who thinks the future is a blend of green, brown and pink. Google it!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Excuses excuses

So, the boiler has broken down. And sometimes gay people get beaten up (or worse) or being who they are.


The connection? Why that perennial favourite, the boiler breaking down. What else?

Let me start at what suits as the beginning, gentle reader:

Fella and I have had our ups and downs walking through the streets of Strumpetville. We’ve been quite lucky I think – some of the things that get reported in the news feed my imagination and paranoia (except... maybe they are out to get us). But there has been some hassle. I really get worried that Fella in particular will get hurt one day if he isn’t careful. I fancy I can handle myself and have a more forbidding demeanour you see... so I don’t like it when Fella displays affection publicly, especially when we’re out late at night. I feel it is risky. In a nutshell: I don’t want either of us to get killed.

So far so hoopy, right?

But the boiler has broken down. And what do we do when the boiler breaks down? We use our shiny Strumpetville Dabloons to purchase the services of a plumber.

Fella organises everything, and the plumber turns out to be a really nice guy. He can’t solve the problem, but gives us lots of advice. Well, he got £70 for his trouble; so fair enough.

Because this is the first time I’ve lived with someone, it’s the first time we’ve had someone in ‘our’ home who isn’t a friend or relative. So it’s the first time I’ve had to manage other reactions to my/our sexuality at home.

Fella was fine, and totally open – calling me “darling” and “sweetheart” in front of the plumber. And the plumber clearly didn’t care. So I’m writing this trying to get some insight into why I was even remotely anxious about it. Why was it necessary to be on my guard?

I wonder if I’m still a little afraid of how people will react to my sexuality; still carrying a little bit of the baggage that stopped me coming out for so long? It’s given me pause for thought... am I projecting my fears onto Fella? Why is it I worry about this? I think there must be something deeper than a reaction to homophobia. I mean there’s plenty of it about but not to the extent I should think about how I behave in my own home. To be fair there are plenty of unprecedented events in my life and it’s easier to deal with anything that life throws at me when I have some measure of control.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Chillaxin... hard

I had a thoroughly unproductive weekend, gentle reader. By that I mean that I did nothing at all but relax (and go to the supermarket with Fella for some supplies).
This week and next I have no classes, so I am taking full advantage the opportunity of doing nothing. It feels weird; when I write unproductive I mean it. I like to have done something each day, be it studying, cleaning, working... whatever. However, while I am still working to accommodate all the demands on my time I am conscious of the risk of burning-out; and without the prospect of a holiday any time soon it was probably wise to chillax and be confronted only by the problem of nothing being on tele.

Truth be told I don’t really like it. I become restless, suffer from cabin fever in a way. Nevertheless, once in a while it is necessary.

The need to get something done has, perhaps oddly, caused me to think about the work I do; my job. I am employed as a flexible resource flexing between roles, putting right what once went wrong and hopping that my next flex is the flex home... Currently I am business manager to a team that is implementing the Government’s new healthcare policies. The really means midwifing a whole new structure whilst achieving quite a difficult cultural change in an environment that politely might be described as brothlike, whilst suffering too many cooks. I manage a team of four lovely and extraordinarily capable ladies, one of whom is friend C who kindly followed me to my new role after we had worked together in my old one for more than a year.
The focus of my thoughts is my legacy, I suppose. How am I going to achieve the things I want to achieve in the six months or so remaining to me in this role? It’s a real challenge and most days I come home not really liking it! But it’s a fantastic opportunity and being a business manager sure opens doors. Plus I get access to very senior people indeed which is a great learning opportunity. And for my plans I have their support. So, what to do?

Instead of writing a list of things to do, I am writing a list of things to achieve. Any task I need to undertake has to be linked to the ultimate outcome. I have found this new viewpoint rather helpful. Instead if what I need to get done by the end of the day, I decide what needs to be done by the end of the week, say, and focus on what I deem necessary to achieve that.

My job is important to me and I don’t want to move on thinking I hadn’t done some good. I like to think since coming out I have had the same attitude in my personal life, though that’s less critical with Fella – the act of being together is the object, not a tool. Maybe it’s time to achieve that same... peace... in my work! In six months. In the meantime, how to keep chillaxin???


Sunday, 31 October 2010

Masters and Slaves

Five weeks ago I started my masters degree, and so far so good. As a research degree I don’t have that many classes; two lectures and two seminars per week. They certainly believe in throwing people in at the deep end! I only now realise how much work is involved. For the seminars I have to do a load of reading because students need to present on and take part in discussion about their reading. It’s actually a very clever way of making sure that we do the work!

The next thing is to start on my essays. I have two due in December, but with careful planning I should be OK – I’ve taken leave from work and (a huge advance since I was an undergraduate) most of the learning resources, books etc are online; it saves on time consuming trips to the library. All in all I enjoy it and am learning a lot, and I’m glad of the support the university helpfully provides.

Being a research degree, one thing I must do is my dissertation – and that means identifying a topic. I’m not quite sure what to research yet; that’s quite understandable given I’m five weeks into a two year course. But, one initial idea I am taken with is combining my work in healthcare strategy with my interest in sexuality. Say, exploring heterosexism in the commissioning of health and social care.

One thing I do know already is the importance of reflexivity in research. That means reviewing my research and my research proposal continually, as my data and findings should lead me to refine my area of enquiry. And part of that means keeping a research journal.

That led me to consider this: instead of having a private journal I wondered if I should perhaps keep my journal as another blog. I don’t know if it’s appropriate when conducting research – perhaps you will have some insight into that, gentle reader?

I know what you’re thinking – two blogs? No-one, not even in Strumpetville, can live at that speed! But it would be time limited to the period of my dissertation; while this blog continues indefinitely. And as I’d have to write a journal anyway, on or offline makes no difference.

It’s just an idea at the moment, but I’m taken with it. Unless I discover it’s a total no-no in the field of academic research then I intend to start it as soon as I begin to seriously think of my topic and research design.

As for this blog – new look, new determination to post at least weekly. So plenty to read about, I hope.

Friday, 29 October 2010

The Line of Beauty

I posted a while ago that I wanted to get more into gay culture. Having consciously avoided it before I came out then skirted around it since then I thought it time to jump in and begin to explore that area of culture.

The first thing I got to grips with was The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. It is set in the 1980s and the main protagonist is Nick, a young gay guy who is out to his friends and family, but at the start of the story a virgin. A strong background to the story is Nick exploring his sexuality, from dating to cruising to drugs and group sex – but the book isn’t overly sexual or overly focussed on sexuality. It deals nicely with hypocrisy and how homophobia can linger under a veneer of acceptance. For instance, when one of the other main characters is exposed as an adulterer he accuses Nick of sabotaging his family with a “typical gay trick” – because gays can’t have families of their own they spoil other people’s. In another scene a couple of openly-homophobic upper-class people welcome HIV as a lesson to teach gays to be more careful.

At the end of the book Nick is alone, but has made some progress in the world; the two main love interests of his have died of AIDS, and he has lost his home but he is not resourceless. Because he has never been fully involved in family or social life because of his sexuality there is a nice underlying metaphor for the hypocrisy and materialism of the Thatcher years. He is surrounded by beautiful things and people, but ultimately they elude him.

In other news, I have joined the LGBT network at my workplace. It was/is nice to meet colleagues in the context of being gay rather than colleagues who happen to be gay and surrounded by people who aren’t. On the serious side we are the forum to test our employer’s policies and actions under the brand-spanking-new equality legislation that covers sexuality; and to try and get them onto the Stonewall Employers Equality Index. On the fun side there is the opportunity to socialise. I hope to make a valuable contribution...

So there we have it, gentle reader, a wee bit of culture, and a bit of getting-involvedness. Square one done and dusted!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Keeping it going...

At the beginning of October I started my masters degree course. It is actually very interesting and absorbing, and in many ways I’m only just beginning to realise how much work is involved in the course. It’s each Monday and Wednesday evening after work; and involves lectures and seminars – and of course there’s the background reading, studying, essay writing and project work that supports passing the course. I’m determined to get much more than a pass though, so I really have my work cut out.

It means being somewhat ruthless with my working hours though I’ve settled into my role well enough that the immediate problems have been solved and I can concentrate on the cultural changes I feel are needed to move away from drama and toward Getting Things Done. It’s not easy given the background of transforming the service into a completely different set of institutions, which is certainly keeping everyone on their toes! Things remain very busy.

Obviously between work and study there is the need to Live Live Liiiive!! Fella and I have a busy social life and are usually out with friends once or twice a week. Last weekend we saw Pam Ann at the Vaudeville Theatre (hilarious), had dinner with friends in the week and yesterday we celebrated Fella’s mother’s 62nd birthday, went to the Museum of London, and the national gallery.

Finally, there is the need to keep Hogzilla at bay. I suppose all this frenetic activity should be keeping me trim and I’m certainly not putting on weight but being enfianced to a world class cook; and not being a stickler when it comes to the grape and the grain means I need to keep up with my regime of running (Tuesdays and Thursdays after work) the gym (three times a week before work) and swimming (weekends).

Am I writing this post to boast, gentle reader? No – the fact the cheerful fairy is a much beloved tower of rippling gorgeousness supporting a brain the size of a planet should not have escaped anyone by now *ahem*!

The one thing you won’t have spotted in all of this is talk of my relationship. Perhaps you were relieved to have got this far without yet another angst ridden attempt to dissect my love with inexpert tools. Well, fear not – I don’t propose to do that here.

Relationships obviously need work to keep going – and I know (just) enough to realise that isn’t easy even if there weren’t so many calls on my time. To keep this going Fella and I are doing two things – firstly, making sure we have Us time; at least one quiet night in a week where we can enjoy doing nothing, together. And also making sure we go out and do things, together. Next Saturday we’re reserving just for quality time, activities to be decided.

The second thing is of course Fella’s time. I am keen for him to take up something for the time when I’m not around. He does his yoga, for example [hurrah] and that’s a start. I’d like him to take up an evening course; he was considering learning German for example. I know when I’m alone at home without him it can feel very lonely in this flat – it’s very much our home and on my own it feels different.

That written, I do want him to enjoy some quiet time, and relax at home as he sees fit when I’m not around (just as I like to do from time to time – I’m still an introvert!). I don’t want him to resent my busyness or slip into a routine where his life revolves around my schedule; that wouldn’t be fair.

We’re holding the line pretty well right now I think. Of course we’re only a few weeks into a two year course and who knows where our respective careers and interests might lead us? Any tips would be most welcome when it comes to balancing the needs of a relationship with the all of the wider world...

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

What is sexiness?

What is it that makes people sexy? I know what I like. Generally slimmer guys, bookish types... yes, I could do nasty things to the Hot Gay Nerd. Or even a Hot Straight One. I wouldn’t say Fella is nerdy, not t all, but he fits the type generally well. Somewhat ironic that Hogzilla’s Goldicocks is a virtual mirror image. Slim, musical, personable, family oriented vs “athletic”, scientific, introverted, distant.

One of the things about coming out was the desire to explore what I wanted from a man, relationship, etc – rather than frustratedly fantasising about cock (and occasionally holding my nose and indulging myself). After all coming out was precipitated by the start and abrupt end of my first proper relationship. Who and what was I looking for?

Desirability is a combination of things, isn’t it? Looks, dress, income, lifestyle, social graces, sexual behaviour, communication style... comment not, gentle reader, on how easy it was for me to get into a relationship but how difficult it was to sustain it. No, that’s not for today!
I suppose the clearest way of setting out what I’m thinking is to reflect on the three relatively long relationships I have been in over the last few years.

Darren, International and Fella are all remarkably different, and my thinking or feelings for them were and are different too. I don’t feel for Fella more strongly what I felt for International; I feel other things – better things.

For Darren, well I was in thrall. He was the first person I was with and really I was mostly pathetically grateful. I look back on that with a certain measure of world-weary embarrassment. Adolescent infatuation, blind to reality – just about ten or more years too late! Still, it was a necessary step – I thought he was delightful then but now I couldn’t honestly say that he is sexy to me. A bit muscle bound for my now more mature tastes. Good but not exceptional as a lover. Apart from being my first relationship, there is little remarkable about him.

International, now he was and remains a different story. Gorgeous, charming, incredibly sexy. When I was with him the mere thought of him, his body, being with him filled me with passion. The kind of sexiness you ascribe to being with someone who definitely isn’t good for you. Breaking it off with him was sad but not heart breaking – the connection there was largely physical. He gets in touch from time to time, but without the physical connection there is not much there... with him there was and remains a real physical attraction. But that, sadly, was all.

And what about Fella? He is beautiful, and kind, and loving, and generous. Every aspect of our relationship has its positive points to help reinforce our bond. Of course there are the down sides; that’s a relationship involving two imperfect human beings. His physical attributes are balanced by other parts of who he is. Perhaps his sexiest aspect is that he makes me happy.

I suppose it isn’t really fair – possibly even callous – to compare them in this way. I suppose sexiness is defined in different ways for different people at different times. But overall, it’s safe to say, in terms of desirability what I have now is by far the best!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Is it ‘cos I is...?

Poof. Queer. Fruit. Homo. Arsebandit. Shirtlifter. Bender. Fag, fag, faggot. Batty boy. Ponce. Cock Jockey. Chutney ferret (!). Fudge packer. Pansy. Queen. Ring raider. Shit stabber. Uphill gardener. He goes shopping with his mum...

The list is virtually endless gentle reader, the names there are for us fairies be we never so cheerful as me. There always has to be a victim, somewhere, of course. By and large the old ways are still our favourite; Lord help you if you are brown. anti-Semitism is still close to the hearts of many. And do we really believe there's no such thing as women's work?

Nevertheless it seems that after reiterating the arguments for equality for a very long time it almost seems like gay men and women are the last ones left. It's difficult to come up with another group of people who face, in many countries, the death penalty for being who they are – either via the courts or extra-judicially; or who are faced with deliberate legal impediments (can't get married, can't have kids, differing ages of consent); or who are viewed with suspicion often by members of their own family.

Currently there is a bit of controversy smouldering away about the use of "gay" as a derogatory term – something "gay" is a bit crap, rubbish, shoddy. I had to pull up a friend the other day for using it quite thoughtlessly in the office. It is something that annoys me purely because it is such a throw-away term. People seem genuinely surprised that it can cause offence. I sometimes feel like saying to them: take out the world gay, put in the word black, and if you'd think twice about using that sentence then you need to be more careful generally.

Of course there are limits. "Gay" is used quite a bit by gay people or to gay people by their friends in a humorous, familiar context. A word reclaimed in that way can be an effective way of drawing its teeth; and anyway in this as in all things context is king. Also, the genuine and dangerous discrimination and harm gay people suffer around the world shouldn't get obscured in an argument about semantics. Fella and I have had our fair share of unpleasant experiences and we're not exactly winning prizes in the homophobia stakes. Still, the casual indifference, the idea that civil partnership will do gets to me.

Coming out was, and still is, for me the expression of realising it's OK to be gay – more than that, it's no reason to feel less than who I am: not second class so much as some kind of failure. Fortunately for me, for us, the world is slowly changing and compared to what it was like when I was a teenager it's much much better. And it will continue to improve. More gay politicians, more countries recognising relationships and dismantling the hurdles toward full and open participation in society, more (non-stereotyped) gay characters in soap operas and main stream movies. We're here, we're queer (ahem), and... we have quite a lot of money. Need I say more??


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Voyager

Voyager II was launched within a few days of my birth. I have felt an affinity to that lonely spacecraft, the farthest man-made object in existence, for many years.

When my family and I first came to Britain in the 1980s I started, as one does, at a new school with new people, speaking a strange language and observing peculiar customs. The very first thing we did after I started in my class was a project on that spaceship. I was hooked; the beautiful pictures of worlds I had never dreamed of; the idea of travelling so far into uncharted territory, and being so utterly alone. And the promise of the future;, discoveries and revelations beyond the wildest fantasy of science fiction.

At that point I decided I wanted to be an astronaut. Well, what boy doesn't? But the chances of being an astrofairy were very slim, not least because we did not go into space then. Nevertheless, my dream persisted and it eventually drew me down the path of science. I eventually began to read physic, moving to Strumpetville almost 15 years ago (15 years, gentle reader: already!!). and studying the stars myself. That time, too, was an exciting time for we began to discover worlds around other stars as well as take a vigorous and new interest in our neighbour worlds too. I was very lucky to be involved in a small way in both, and for a time Voyager was forgotten.

Now Voyager has left near space and for the next 15 years – as long as its systems are expected to keep functioning – it will feedback data on interstellar space; or as near to it as we are likely to get in the near future. And eventually its power cells will die and it will drift ever on until... well, perhaps forever.

That little craft out there has been, in a sense, almost an intrepid representation of my own little life. It was launched when I was born; it passed the last of the worlds it was to survey as my childhood began to end, and it left the Solar System about the time that I came out. I hope my power cells last beyond 2025, of course, but it is amazing to think how much that craft has not only had similar milestones – in a sense - but inspired me to follow my own.

Reading this who would wonder, whether gay or straight, that my obsession with space and science found me single for so long? But still, gentle reader, nothing has been quite so inspiring to me as that tiny piece of our world out there among the stars.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Addendum

Further to my post, below, I have decided to write a short addendum. I am sitting here at home: it's 9:00am on Saturday, and I should be working on some job descriptions. Unaccountably, gentle reader, I was distracted by some Paul Brumby photos. Yum yum yum...


This, this here, is ultimately what I aspire to:



Tasteful airbrushing notwithstanding, I'm not a trillion miles from this - which is rather cheering. I wonder if my friends who read this are laughing themselves into a coma right now; but it's good to have a goal! And I think the above is far more achievable than some twink hairless fat-free homonculus. Why would I aspire to that? That would just make me feel bad; and the object is to feel good.


So here goes; a toast to becomming a little less gross every day. And now... back to work.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Hogzilla Returns

I've put on weight gentle reader; there's no denying it. Not lots, but it's all fat. Boo!

It's not really surprising. The holiday in Germany – bratwurst, beer and dumplings oh my – didn't help; plus I wasn't taking much exercise over there. Also, Fella is an in insanely good cook. I'm not bad, I will admit – but I may as well serve up a raw stoat with swastikas shaved into its fur. Finally, since I got better, my body no longer enjoys calories solely from the whooshing noise they make as they passed through une system digestif grand vitesse.

The thing about living with a great cook is a routine of rowing, running, swimming and resistance training is only enough to stand still. And the thing about yo-yoing in weight due to my illness is I lose rippling gorgeousness and gain lard. So... Hogzilla remains Hogzilla. I've almost come full circle; although I'm still about 15kg/33lbs less than I was when I came out. Now that's progress!

Well, what can be done to tone up? Diet and exercise of course! Well, not just that. There are wider issues at stake here. I've been feeling a bit like a shambling oaf this last few weeks and think I need a general tune up to shake off that frumpy feeling.

Once I've toned up a bit more I can look at other areas of my life. So first things first:

  • Running twice a week after work with friends and colleagues. We're up to eight km (five miles) per run. Our little group has become the organisation's official running club so there's quite a few of us lumbering around the parks of Strumpetville now
  • The gym three times a week – resistance training to add the soupcon of rippling gorgeousness
  • Swimming and using the rowing machine to do a few km as well.

Plus; lifestyle.

  • Booze – only on Tuesdays (I love Better Off Ted) and Fridays/Saturdays – and not more than 10 units a week regardless.
  • Low calorie! Sorry Fella, gourmet you may be, but my wobbly bits are getting too wobbly.
  • Not letting work pressures disrupt my routine.

That should do it, though I'm realistic enough to know there won't be speedy results. What I really want is to feel a bit better about myself. The heavens may well be slack jawed in wonder at my temerity, given how lucky I have been over the last couple of years, with my relationship, career and so on. Nevertheless, it isn't nice to feel frumpy and unattractive a lot of the time, especially after having made so much progress. And therefore things need to change. And making the change is half the battle, no?

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Another year...

On Sunday it was my birthday. Another year older! The Cheerful Fairy has graced the stage for 33 years, even if for most it was as an understudy ;-)

For my present Fella got me goldfish, and – with some neat foresight there I might add – a tank to keep them in. We're collecting the fish on Saturday as apparently the tank needs to settle for a few days, water and all, before the fish can be introduced. I'm very excited, gentle reader, to be having fish – which I've wanted for so long. I did have fish once before, ad three were gitfted to me as a Christmas bonus from my first job – but I killed them with love. I aim to do rather better this time!

Also, Fella arranged a surprise birthday lunch for me with our friends on the day itself which was rather special. It was great to have so many people come out to celebrate; Fella must have worked very hard! I am racking my brains about what to do for his birthday next month...

So, here I am, over the threshold of another year. A worthwhile and busy job, a loving family, great friends, starting my degree in September, living with my gorgeous guy, and engaged to be marrificated.

How about that?

Yeah. Engaged...

OK, cards on the table. Objectively, in my heart of hearts, I think it's a bit soon. Or maybe that the timing is a bit out. Well, if that's my opening gambit maybe I don't quite know exactly what I think! But still.

I adore my Fella but I wonder if you too have pondered on the fact that we have been together for only 14 months and have lived together for about two. Indeed, we have had our ups and downs to say the least. I have wondered if Fella has a timetable all his own on which my feelings, or indeed some practical issues, have little impact.

For example, I'm about to start a very expensive two-year post-graduate course of study. As such, saving for a wedding is going to be difficult and probably impossible. I refuse to borrow against the cost, as married life will impose its own costs

Having said that a long engagement is helpful – 2013 ahoy! – because it gives us a chance to work on being a couple. It means we can get our other commitments out of the way – Fella is on a two year career development programme himself. And it means our friends who are engaged now can get married without us stealing their thunder!

Plus I need time to get used to the whole... grown upness of it all. In gay years I'm still only about 25; I'd not quite realised my days as a young man about Strumpetville were so soon to be permanently over!

Most of all waiting a while gives me a chance to plan. Being surprised with the proposal is really the issue here – I like to plan and be in control. It will give me a chance to be a full part of this wedding lark, and ideally beyond... everything is going well; domestic bliss to be sure. I'm looking forward to getting started on our life together J



Friday, 6 August 2010

Encore

So here we are, back again from our trip to Germany. I'm sitting here, on the last day of my holiday, feeling somewhat sorry for myself – but that's only because of the somewhat sizeable electric shock I got from a poorly wired electrical fitting in the flat. Fortunately my luck held out and several amps of 240v current arcing across my heart, a minor burn on the arm is all I sustained.

Returning to the matter at hand, we had a lively time in Germany, visiting lots of sights and generally relaxing. It's the first time Fella and I have had a proper holiday for a holiday's sake, and we did enjoy it. I've certainly put on weight – back on the diet on Monday for me Gentle Reader.


One particular place he wanted to visit, my Fella, was Blaubeuren. It's a village nestled in the Schwabian alps; it's exceptionally pretty and also marks the start of a series of water-filled caves that remain unexplored. As such it is an area of fame and fascination locally; as well as a lovely place to visit.


We wandered around the village, and as it was such a sunny day, we had some ice cream, before going to the lake that marks the source of the river Blau, a tributary of the Danube. It was there that Fella suggested that he and I take a wander along the lakeside, leaving my family behind to enjoy the view. And it was there where he sat me down on a bench by the water's edge, and got down on one knee. And it was there that he asked me to marry him.


Well, to cut a long story short I said yes.


Who'd have thought it? Less than three years since coming out and I'm engaged to be civil-partnered! From Hogzilla to Bridezilla in but the blink of an eye. Fortunately both families are very pleased; and our friends are full of congratulations. We have a lot of planning and work to do but for the moment let us content ourselves with that we are very happy.


So, Ta Daa!! That's some news, right enough... obviously there's a lot to think about, out loud if you will, so much more by way of this blog. In the meantime domesticity is blissful, by and large, though we're still settling into the flat; much to do there too. All in all we glide toward the Cherrful Fairy's 33rd birthday with suspiciously plan sailing :-)

Monday, 26 July 2010

Lady Luck meets the Cheerful Fairy

Well, when I neglect you gentle reader I really do... so sorry that this is likely to be the second of only two posts in July. This is what happens when one has no broadband for a while , after the Cheerful Fairy moves in with his boyfriend! Hurrah!!

On Wednesday we're flying out to Germany to visit my mother and the my family. It will be nice to have the break, and I know Fella will enjoy it. And immediately after that of course it is my birthday! It is fortunate, then that we have made so much progress so quickly – and so smoothly. Our move has progressed with barely a hiccup.

In fact living together has promoted quite a sunny phase in our relationship; I adore him all the more even though we're together much more – being an introvert I shy away from that level of closeness because I need my own space so much. But we picked the right flat, I think, and we are already developing those little rituals that settled couples do to demarcate their emotional and physical territories.

As for the freedoms living together gives... well, we are enjoying those to the full; some things are more pleasing even than blogging. I do hope you might forgive me...

So I suppose this blog post is by way of an update; an out of office post, perhaps. But fear not, I do intend to keep blogging. There are lots of themes going on in my life: getting fit; studying; working ; developing and continuing my relationship with Fella; and still exploring Strumpetville and what it means to be the Cheerful Fairy.

I have been extraordinarily lucky I must admit. My health is sound; I have a good and interesting (if utterly demanding) job. I'm about to start a great course, and I have a lovely home. Great friends and a family that at least accepts who I am. Last but not least I have a great guy whom I adore, and who unaccountably adores me. But I cannot take anything for granted; and nor can I simply accept the largesse of the Universe without giving anything back; and I want to explore what that might mean, going forward.

So, stay tuned, do. I will be back with more; but not until August. So stay well. And have fun. And speak soon :-)

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Chez Fairy

I know, gentle reader, I have been neglecting you for far too long. Even with my Fella and my work, study, social lfe etc I blog more frquently than this! What could have happened?

Well, let me tell you…

Fella and I have moved in toghether! Ta daaa!! Yes, we've take nthe plunge. We saw a place we liked on 26 July, signed the lease a week ago, and began moving our stuff in. The down side, of course, is the interruption to my broadband service and hence, as with last June, a break in my blog posts – I have to wonder, incidentally, why telecommunications companies must move with such glacial slowness.

But the up side is we are in our own place, not just confiend to one room or disrupted by commuting from one place to another.

I am, of course, neglecting the most important thing. The new flat! Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, large balcony, windows, walls and ceilings… all mod cons bar the dishwasher (which I shall sorely miss). Good size, good price, and very near to where I have lived this past few years so a covnenient move all in all. For me.

Fella will takerather longer to onstall and I'm beginning to worry that he feel's it's becoming "my" place rather than "our" place as only my stuff is in it. However, next weekend (once I've cleared my old place) I shall head up to where Fella currently has his stuff and help him shift it to. We can manage until then…

Still, we're very pleased and excited and already the freedom having our own place gives. Fella has recently got onto the College's Career Development Programme which alongside our studies and busy working lives means two bedrooms are very handy. As for moving in and sharing the apce and tiem we have now… we certainly haven't missed the broadband very much! And when Fella isn't there with me I feel the place is too big and too empty; it's definitley the right place for us to share.

Going forward we have the whole rigmarole of putting what where, decorating, and buying new stuff together… and of course our respective studies, work and hobbies to fit into our new shared routine. But of course first things first our housewarming must be organised! Stay tuned for news of that J

We have been amazingly lucky this past few weeks, both with the flat and in other areas, and I hope our good spell lasts and lasts. And once all ourservices are up and running I'll blog a bit more freqently: promise. But in the meantime this is my hurried between-meetings-in-the-office update!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

INTJ

I am an introvert (INTJ is my Myers Briggs type), I always was. One of the main things I wondered about, coming out, is whether I would become more extroverted as a proper gay! Well, the answer to that is yes and no. Before and after personality tests show I am much less introverted than I was before – but not quite tipping the balance. And, as with so many things, rather than being a cure for all my ills, coming out exposed my... flaws... much more clearly.

My problems communicating etc I don't intend to revisit here; there's enough of that on this here blog. One thing I have noticed though is that at my most ill I did become very withdrawn and really just wanted to be on my own (well, that may not be too unusual)... I really retreat into my shell. Classic introversion – I need to be alone to recharge my batteries.

Looking forward, living with Fella would on the face of it not seem to be the best way of meeting that need for me time or me space. However, one of the biggest challenges in finding that time and space has been the need to accommodate Fella when he spends those three of four nights a week with me. Sharing a home will give us both a chance to do the things we need and want to do. I can, for example; stay late in the office; go to the gym; take some work home; go for a drink and still see Fella in the evening. Naturally I can't do that now.

Does that read selfish, gentle reader? I love my man, sure enough – but having to by Mr Happy Fun Cheerful Fairy at all times isn't very easy for me. Being able to go into another room lets us both get on with living.

Things are going absolutely fine at the moment for him and me, and moving in together – I am hopeful – will help. Ironically both Fella and I have been quite unwell over the last week; I get some antibiotics to help me shift my illness, and Fella comes down with food poisoning! On the plus side that means neither of us can drink. On the other hand it means we haven't had much fun together over the last week or so. Again, living together would make that a bit easier – helping us support each other whilst having the freedom to be apart if we need to.

We've begun looking for flats, but without much luck so far. Fortunately there is no rush for either of us to move as such so we can look for as good a place as we can manage. But we are hoping to move any time soon, and then the pressure will be eased; no longer will I have to compromised between the private me, the public me and the private/public us.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Engrenage

Well, gentle reader, I think it is safe to say that the Cheerful Fairy is Frumeplla no more. Of course my rippling gorgeousness could use some work; always room for improvement, dontyaknow, etc.

I refer of course not only to my efforts to improve my physique, bowl over the residents of Strumpetville with my lovliness... yeah, anyway, I refer not only to that; I refer to my wider health.

Since a week last Sunday my illness returned with a vengeance: I lost three pounds over the course of the weekend, and felt pretty run down since then. It's calmed down but co-incidentally I had a hospital appointment last Thursday to follow me up.

There is something rather special about having a good doctor, and you may take good to mean intelligent; erudite; interested; or just good at lateral thinking. However, the nice lady who saw me had clearly decided this is a bit too much and the best thing to do would be to do a series of tests from scratch. Hence I spent much of the morning having blood tests and other... examinations, going round and round the hospital beaten only to the various departments by the electronic missive explaining what is required.

And, yes, and at the end of it all I have – Te Deum to be composed in honour of this momentous occasion – a diagnosis.

Intestinal spirochaetosis.

Yum.

Spirochetes are a nasty class of bacteria not routinely tested for, and as an anaerobic bug, not prone to surviving in samples exposed to air. Hence it can be hard to find. It is a class of bacteraemia that counts among its number humanity's friends, syphilis and lime disease. It is an opportunistic infection and will quite often attack people with HIV, or other sexually transmitted diseases. Although it is not sexually transmitted the bacteria are much more common among gay men (30 to 50%) than straight men (two to five per cent) for reasons unknown to science!

Well, the next step is to get some antibiotics (metronidazole in my case) for a short while and with luck my roller coaster love affair with Armitage Shanks will be over. Interestingly – in a Freudian there-are-no-accidents kind of way – I can't drink whilst on the antibiotics and for a short while afterward. That ought to be interesting...

Anyway, once I'm better I need I think to review my healthy living regime. I wasn't able to go to the gym whilst very ill and of course as before it consumed my body mass rather than body fat, so I'm perceptibly weaker than I was before. Still, it is good to take the opportunity to capitalise on the fact my ribs are showing through. I want my flat tummy!

Overall it's good to have a diagnosis; though on some level the amount of stuff to deal with right now approaches new heights or tiresomeness. I look forward to it being over... and thus this is progress of a sort.


Saturday, 12 June 2010

What’s next...

Some things, once said, cannot be unsaid and cause such damage there is no going back.

So Fella made his choice; the booze over me. Well, it's a decision and – on every level – I asked for it. What else could I do? I asked Fella for his keys and advised him to contact some friends he could stay with. When I got home I packed up his stuff and put it to one side, in preparation for handing it over in over the next couple of days. I went on Facebook to update my relationship status, but somehow it felt so... final, I couldn't quite do it. I texted some friends for a bit of short term sticking-plaster support.

The Gardener, unaware of the situation, let Fella in. Rather than have him wander the streets in a drunken state I decided to let him sleep on the floor. And on Saturday morning he went to get his hair done, and to give me some space, to think about whether we should talk when he got back.

So we talked.

Fella said my new willingness to just end the relationship was, as he put it, a 'wake up call' and he was willing to go tee-total if that was what it takes for our relationship to work. I expressed my doubts about his ability to do this, as I'd asked him to moderate his consumption in the past. And in fact I would have never asked him to stop drinking all together; but I would ask him to bear in mind how much he's eaten (or not); how much other people are drinking; how he will get home safely... As an aside my illness has moved to a point where I shall soon be unable to drink alcohol at all, but that I shall post about shortly.

What needs to be worked on is the underlying cause of his drinking. What makes a man so insecure that he turns, through drink, from someone acknowledged as charming, intelligent, giving and witty, into someone universally acknowledged as a bit of a dick. What also needs to be worked on is how I deal with things and how I can support him going forward. What needs to be restored is a level of trust; we can still have a good time together, we can enjoy ourselves.

Where we left it is that we're still very much together, and still planning to move in together, but this endless cycle has to... end. Fella, it seems, wants to be happy but in a world where happiness is the default and attractive though that is we're in a place where I think it has to be worked at quite hard now.

I imagine it seems, at least a little bit, to you gentle reader like I'm flogging a dead horse. But I see quite the reverse. We have, admittedly through a crisis, reached a point where we have agreed our problems and agreed to work through them, together. No guarantees of course, but our relationship is built on a strong foundation and we have a real love I would not want to throw away. I'm not afraid of being single, but I also know how I feel when Fella walks into a room.

So what's next? Stay tuned...

C2H5OH

Fella and I have had our disagreements in the past, but they tend to centre on two things. The first is my inability to communicate well. I get terribly frustrated and this results in huffy and pouty behaviour that's not very nice for either of us, and eventually it boils over into big arguments and hurt feelings.

The other is Fella's alcohol consumption. It's been an area of concern for some time. Since long before our anniversary I got terribly anxious about going out with him where alcohol was involved. Ironically because I was unable to articulate my concerns the difficulties in our relationship were based on a positive feedback cycle where ultimately the more frustrated I became the more he drank in response until we couldn't have a good time going out at all. It's been that way for a while now, until things recently came to a head.

We went to see A Beautiful Thing at the theatre on Wednesday and the 15 or so of us who went all agreed that it was an excellent and well staged play. The evening in fact was marred by just one thing, and I think you can guess what it is gentle reader.

In order on Wednesday Fella drank the following:

  • A bottle of red wine, by himself at home while getting changed before going to the theatre
  • One pint of beer with the group before the play started
  • One large red wine at the interval
  • One pint of beer and one large red wine, in the pub after the theatre
  • Finished up with a line of shots of unknown number.

All told not less than 25 units of alcohol. The rest of us had two or three pints; nine or 10 units at most. He had eaten, all day, two ryvita. You can imagine the state he was in...

The absolute worst thing, though, is the shots. He was with the group, talking away. And he turned to me and said he was going to get a diet coke. Of course I was fine with this, and in fact quite relieved. But he was gone for a while.... so when I went to find him he was at the bar, alone, knocking back the shots he lined up. He had lied to me.

I am concerned about how much he drinks; his family is; his friends are; his colleagues are. There isn't an alcohol dependency at work here. Fella can go a very long time without drinking at all. But his inability to enjoy a social situation without drinking to excess had at that point gone just to far.

Of course this led to a terrible row over the next couple of days and ultimately, piss poor communicator that I am, on Friday night it boiled down to a simple choice; the booze, or me.

And he choose booze.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Kultur

One of the things I always did before I came out was to avoid gay culture. Or gay cultural references. By that I mean GLBT fiction, films like My Beautiful Launderette, 'The Scene', etc. I'd avoid focussing on the small number of gay characters in TV shows, or socialising in gay venues or with gay people.

Since coming out this is not an area of my life I have sought specifically to rectify. I've been too busy meeting guys for relationships and assignation and all that jazz... plus there has been an element of re-exploring my existing relationships and lifestyle in the light of my new found honesty. But, still, a part of my still found itself somewhat uncomfortable when confronted with anything... gay. Not the sexual side of things, by any means, not since coming out at least. But the whole being gay thing... a closed book to me I never made the effort to open.

I'm not totally certain why. It may be a combination of things; a real regret that I left things so late. A small amount of envy that my own experience was somehow less glamorous, happy ever after, or whatever... or lingering embarrassment about the whole thing maybe? Who knows.

Over the last couple of years I've been well blessed with the support for friends, particularly 'A', who have tried to involve me however indirectly with their gay friends. And I joined various networking groups like "Out". I even went to pride (which was fabulous). However, it was not until I met Fella and our two groups of friends began to coalesce that I began to have a significant pool of gay friends. And, of course, as part of that I began to be exposed to their interests and lifestyles.

Still, there remains a significant gap in the Cheerful Fairy's knowledge... well, the good news gentle reader is that it's time to do something about it!

On Wednesday Fella and I, and about a dozen or so of our friends – all gay (except my friend 'C' who is coming along too) – are going to see A Beautiful Thing at the theatre. It promises to be a good night out, but also it will be the first time that I've done anything like that with that kind of group. Fairly ordinary for them; fairly good for me!

Also, I'm going to read The Line of Beauty, which is a novel set in the 80s and revolving round a gay central character. It was adapted for television, and I'm told was fairly explicit; though of course I didn't watch it. It may well make uncomfortable reading, but I want to get more involved... more informed at least.

So that's two things. A start, at least. If anyone has any ideas for a third, then please let me know. I'm on the lookout now!


 

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Weekend

Well, what a weekend that was gentle reader. Over the bank holiday we had a lot of parties, my Fella and I.

The weekend began with a drinks reception at the Royal College where Fella works and I did the Good Wife thing and mingled and charmed (I think, anyway). After that fella went home and I went clubbing it with friend 'C'. I have vague memories of dancing on a table until about 3:00am so we can consider the day seized there!

On Saturday we attended a barbecue cum housewarming hosted by fellow blogger Made In Scotland. We had a lovely time, and I'm delighted to have been invited – and to have attended. I am, I will admit, semi-consciously training to be a stepford-homo and as such was on tenterhooks for the social faux-pax but I think I managed to subsume my streak of misanthropy sufficiently well.... Made In Scotland will give you an honest assessment, I am sure!

After that, well we had Eurovision. I attended a party hosted by friends of Fella's that are now in some measure mutual – but this was the first time I had seen them separately, as it were. Well, it went well enough. I like Eurovision and we all laughed a great deal. I preferred Iceland (and Ireland, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Belgium...) so was surprised, though not unpleasantly, when Germany won. What 100 billion Euro will buy you, eh ;-) ?

Sunday, well we had a jaunt to Richmond before Sunday lunch to celebrate the birth of my good friend 'A'. There were about 15 people there, mostly gay, in a crowd that would have scared the shit out of me three years ago. But all were rather lovely and it was a really rather lovely time.

Truth be told I was feeling rather worse for wear on Tuesday and glad of the opportunity to go back to work, for the rest if nothing else... I wonder if I'm beginning to approach the propinquity of passing beyond an age where one might reasonably be considered capably of bacchanalian or even saturnalian pursuits for an extended period? Hmmm....

Fella and I had good reason to celebrate of course because we finalised a lot of our plans to move in together. We know our budget (surprisingly good), the area we're looking in (roughly where I am now), and when (September or so). Timing and money are tough because of my master's degree beginning in October; but I have applied for funding from work and coincidentally my department's training budget was recently doubled because of an underspend last year... so I am hopeful of at least some support.

But I can blog more about that another time. I hope you had an equally lovely bank holiday... and are equally happy J



Thursday, 27 May 2010

Better late than never

One of the most tiresome aspects of my recent health problems – though pleasingly at a very low ebb at present – is that every test pares down the range of options away from really very immediately serious (e.g. cancer) but also away from the relatively minor (infection, etc).

This leaves us, sadly with a range of less salubrious and unpleasantly permanent possibilities. Multiple sclerosis, for example. And... other things.

On Wednesday I took the somewhat unusual step of having a sexual health check-up; unusual in two ways. Firstly I haven't had one since I met Fella. And secondly I haven't had one since well before I met Fella. The first point is important because we're in a stable, loving monogamous relationship. Why therefore would such a check up be important? Well, ever since the debacle with my erstwhile counsellor I've gone right off visiting what is the nearest and by far the best appointed sexual health clinic to my home. In fact it was months and month of fun and fun between then and my relationship beginning... and whilst always taking care to ensure a crop failure however many wild oats sown, there are no guarantees. Safer sex, not safe sex, no?

And the stupid thing is we've never really talked about it, he and I. On that Wednesday I could not put my hand on heart and say, for instance, my Fella is free of diseases!

"But why now?" I hear you ask gentle reader. Well, this is the thing. My symptoms – and this gives some measure of their unpleasantness, are what one might expect to experience when an HIV infection progresses to 'full blown' AIDS. A card in my increasingly slim deck that the standard range of tests had not eliminated.

So there was my paranoia about that but what really began to worry me was if it was by some chance the emergence of one of my worst nightmares, the risk to my man – exposing him to risk, however unintentionally, was more than I could bear.

On Wednesday my anxiety spilled into action. I cleared my calendar, went into Soho, found a rather well set up and excellent sexual health centre and within minutes the Cheerful Fairy was a big pink pin cushion and within a very short while after that a very friendly, short and Welsh nurse was cheerfully telling me all was well and – pending a short delay for my syphilis screen (!!) – there was no cause for concern.

Amusingly my own attention to safety and her determination to provide some kind of service had led the nurse, whilst we waited for the results, rally magnificently in the face of my inability to put myself at (great) risk. She gave me some excellent tips on avoiding and treating sunburn (moisturiser and hope – not unlike my anti-aging strategy).

Anyway... that night Fella and I sat down and properly, properly talked about That Kind of Thing for the first time and I am so glad we did. It led to a much wider discussion about fidelity, sex vs love, how that might evolve as our relationship does (no stone left unturned in the maintenance of monogamy; no door closed in terms of our relationship) so in so many respects the experience was a positive and productive one. But the moral of the story is, I suppose, twofold – one: I am a bit of an idiot sometimes. Two: however crass it seems some things are better discussed. Fully, early, and honestly.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Anniversary Part 2

This is the story of a Fairy named Frumpella, who lived in the magical land of Strumpetville, and who had been with his wonderful man for exactly one year...

Yes, that is how anniversaries are supposed to be, and dangnamit gentle reader I will not be denied! After all the... unpleasantness... of our weekend we agreed to try, try, try again to have the anniversary that we deserve on the Monday we had handily, presciently even, booked off to celebrate our anniversary.

First things first – the presents. You will recall me getting in a bit of a state trying to find exactly the right presents for my man. Well, what I settled on was: a new very swish MP3 player; a £25 iTunes gift card; and a spa day for him and me with facials and massages and all that jazz. You can see the wrapping paper I used, and the card that really captured my mood, in the picture below:

From my Fella I got a complete Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister; and a picture I've always admired called Polar Sunrise. The image is a photograph that was taken in 2008 and has always arrested me whenever I saw it. When on a recent trip to the Natural History Museum, I happened to see a print of it on sale in the gift shop: fella must have noted my rapture. So he done good. His third gift to me was a wine tasting tour of a vineyard at Bolney, in Sussex. What is remarkable about this is how pink minds think alike; I was giving serious thought to booking a wine tasting event for him instead going for the spa day. Phew!

The Spa-day was booked for that very Monday so out we went after the exchange of gifts to the Park Lane Hilton to get spruced up. The treatments worked and for the rest of the day at least we looked as young and lovely as we felt (even though Fella always looks young and lovely, goshdarn). But that was not the end of it, no not at all.

After Dunpamperin we moved on to a pub I particularly like in the City, called The Fox and Anchor and after that we went to a restaurant near Sptialfields Market called Larder. I have to say, Larder was absolutely fabulous. Simple food but expertly done. I very strongly recommend it; and particularly the organic bread they have which we couldn't get enough of and a loaf of which turned out to be a gift from the staff on the occasion of our magnificence.

And so we went home, to enjoy the last of what was a perfect day for him and me – for us together – and one last gift, the planting of a seed if you will. In the Fox and Anchor, you see, we decided it was time to think about moving in together.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Anniversary part 1

As you will recall it is a whole year has passed since my gorgeous guy and I first met! Well, the details of how we celebrated – and didn't - are somewhat convoluted... yes, it's been a bit of a roller coaster ride and no mistake.

This all going to come across a bit Jekyll and Hyde I suppose. Forgive me, then, if it makes little sense. I have not planned well what I wish to post. But in no particular order, let us start at the beginning.

On the morning after the night before, as described in my last post, Fella and I Talked about his behaviour and there was marked disagreement about whether he had been a bit extreme. By the time we were due to go to Brighton I was quite prepared to NOT go to Brighton – So There! Still, we held it together long enough to meet our friends and in fact we had a lovely day in the town on the beach, going to the funfair etc. Fella and I snuck off for a great dinner, just the two of us, while our friends went out and about and then we found a bar to pass the last couple of hours until our train home.

So far so good. Sadly, however, Fella got very messily dunk and it proved so difficult for friends and I to navigate him toward the station we missed our train and there was much bad temperedness. It was pretty much at that point I decided something had to change. I talked to our friends while Fella slumped on his seat, and interestingly I discovered they had concerns about his behaviour also. I had assumed – quite wrongly – friends got him drunk, and left him to his own devices, causing no end of disapproval from me, as the piece-picker-upper in chief; not a role the Cheerful Fairy adapts to well. But I was mistaken. And that helped.

Helpfully friends talked to Fella and then he and I talked some more when we finally got home. Essentially, and shocking though it may seem, gentle reader (well, shocking timing if nothing else), I explained to Fella I at that time pretty much considered myself single if only as a way of getting perspective on what was happening and what was best for him. Me and our relationship going forward: even if that meant Not Being Together.

Of course by the end of the next day, Sunday, when we'd both had a chance to think there was much recanting and a reaffirmation of our ongoing relationship. Still a pretty crappy way of celebrating our first anniversary, no? I probably come across as a total dick – and suspect I deserve to. But something has to change, I feel. A lot of things, really – not least how I handle stuff and that. But more of that another time...

What Fella and I agreed was to treat Monday as our proper anniversary and draw a line through the weekend's events rather than under them. And absolutely Monday was as perfect a day as we could have hoped for, both of us coming out of pretty loved up indeed. Very much so in fact!

Well, I think that's probably confused you enough. I do wonder how fucked up our relationship must be for our anniversary to pass in such a way. If this is paper, what's gold – pistols at dawn? I'm not sure it should be quite like this. Answers on a comment-like postcard please.

And in the meantime, I shall post soon about exactly what we did do on our anniversary-part-deux and indeed something that on Monday we decided to do in a few months' time ;-)

Friday, 14 May 2010

One hand clapping

So here I am. Fella is asleep; in a few short hours it will be our anniversary, true and proper. One whole year!

Much as I adore him I find myself wondering sometimes if it wouldn't be easier... to take all those opportunities for an affair, or just a casual fuck or three. I worry sometimes I still skirt that old world, not quite ready, willing or able to divorce myself. Am I just with him to spare his feelings. Whoops! Roll on the next 60 years...

Perhaps I'm being too harsh on both of us. Neither of us is perfect – and I wouldn't want us to be. But right now he's either manically happy, devastatingly sad, zombified or paralytic. None of those four states is overly pleasing. The highs and lows, stops and starts make one hell of a roller-coaster but sometimes the ride gets a bit much.

Tomorrow we're up early; off to Brighton, the first phase of our plans gets put into action. He won't remember tonight's events , he never does the morning after. I do hope the sun is shining, gentle reader: he won't understand if it's gloomy. So I must ensure it never is even though I remember everything.

He gets so unwell my default state is one of fear. Is he OK? Is he alright?? He's asleep now, frowning deeply as if his sadness infects his dreams. I wonder if he dreams what I'm typing? I wonder if I can get the blood out of the carpet. I wonder if the rest of this inferior Chardonnay and a bit of Dr Who will let me get any sleep tonight at all?

I adore my man. I'm so pleased we've got to an anniversary. I'm living a dream I barely dared to dream even three years ago; but can I make him happy? We're becoming co-dependent he and I. He knows instinctively the sun does not always shine in Strumpetville so he lets in the rain... and the clouds above us both get ever deeper.

Bugger I'm a miserable fairy tonight; maudlin perhaps. Onwards and upwards is the only way forward; and damn it all I shan't go back. Time to make things that little bit tougher... a bit of gay meets Zen. I don't quite know what it is that binds me to him but it is not severed yet.

I'll let you know how the anniversary goes. And how we go about planning for number two!

Monday, 10 May 2010

3, 2, 1...

I'm writing this post by way of an update; a catch-up meant as an apology – or even an excuse – for my ever diminishing blog post output.

Do you recall, gentle reader, that I applied to do a master's degree? Well I got accepted on the course so should start that, all the detail in the meantime notwithstanding, in October. I am really pleased, of course, and very much looking forward to the challenge. On carefully questioning colleagues who have forged this path ahead of me, I have been advised to apply a measure of ruthlessness to my working hours and ensure that don't do more than I should over the two years of the course.

That really will be a challenge, particularly as I have ascended to yet another new role within my faceless bureaucracy (they do seem to come around rather quickly, do they not??). This is my third week as Business Planning Manager for my employer's strategy arm. Deputy Chief of Staff, if I might be permitted to flatter myself, for the branch of my employer tasked with devising what healthcare in London will look like in three, four, five years' time given the needs of an increasingly diverse population, challenging resources over the foreseeable future, and – right now - no Government. One might have thought the lack of a Government might mean less work for a public sector employee but sadly not, sadly not.

Clearly the most exciting electoral map in a generation; the most difficult economic circumstances in three; and the Cheerful Fairy are an unusual combination and it is a fairly safe bet that we shall be living in interesting times for a little while yet.

What I find most peculiar is being in a position where I am considered to be good at what I do. I am somewhat perplexed by it all really, especially since I am not used to being offered roles and responsibilities based on my reputation. I can only work (and hope) to meet the expectations made of me.

In the meantime my colleagues and I ran the 5km run that we had been training for; I was surprised by how smoothly it had gone. And of course we are not yet done; there is a 10km run that we have signed up for in August to support the Gay And Lesbian Switchboard. It's a very worthwhile cause I'm glad we will still be training together and the exercise will be useful. My gym-going is going good; I'm even getting complimented quite spontaneously on my buffness, which is rather pleasing I will confess.

This really only leaves the obligatory update on my gorgeous Fella. It is best to leave that till last because much of what has come before is done for his benefit – or more accurately mine in that it helps me keep him. Helps me be worthwhile for him, in my mind, that is. Hard work, as relationships should be, but in five days we shall be celebrating our first anniversary so clearly it is work that has paid off thusfar – even if it does mean I can't post as often as I used to!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Normal Service

Well, first of all I would like to write a big Thank You to all the people who sent me such nice and supportive comments on my last post.

The Good News is Fella and I are still very much together and looking forward to our first anniversary in just over a week's time. Fella has started his medicine and whilst I was somewhat trepidatious (if that's a word) about the impact it would have on him it has had a very positive and immediate effect that I for one am delighted with. He's a lot happier and not coincidentally so are we.

We spent the long weekend in Cardiff because Fella had a family engagement. Cardiff really is a great town and I strongly strongly recommend it to anyone in the UK looking for a short break. I hope it marks the start of a much better phase for us. Interestingly half his family – including his 87 year old grandmother – trekked back to the hotel with Fella to meet me once his family (no partners, see?) do was over which was nice in a torturous sort of way. However, we have an invite to return and as I have friends down that way too it seems likely we shall be making further trips to sunny Wales at some point.

In the meantime, for our upcoming anniversary, I have booked him and me on a spa day at the London Hilton. After that I'm taking us out for dinner. In the morning of the day of course I think it time for the exchanging of the gifts. I have a vague idea of what Fella has got me (I turned up at his office unannounced not long ago and I think I saw my present then but didn't twig for a little while). However, I am still casting about for the perfect present for him. My tentative exploration of things he might like tend to have been pooh-pooh'd by him... so while I have the BIG gift and lots of little gifts, I still need that TA-DAA present.

I do have the perfect card. I saw it in a shop and to my horror began to cry! So much for the stiff upper lip!!

So there we have it; things continue apace. I'm so glad that Fella is much happier and the amazing change that occurred so quickly has caused me to think how lucky I have been. I have been a bit disappointed, with myself, when things got a bit bumpy back there. I still need to remind myself that my relationship experience is still very small.


Monday, 26 April 2010

Nessy

Fella has an illness. It really is that simple; although it explains an awful lot. Why we've been having a difficult time recently, for example. I think it does him enormous credit to have realised his illness was getting so severe that he needed some help, and tomorrow morning that (I hope) is exactly what he will get.

The illness is disarmingly simple. There is an imbalance of chemicals inside Fella and that affects his mood and how he thinks from time to time. In the past this has required medication to control it; and it seems one of those times has rolled around again.

Fella hasn't always been up-front with me about his past and elements of his personal life. Hmmm... re-reading that I mean to write he has chosen not to reveal all to me as yet. Yes, that's better isn't it?

I really don't mind; it is none of my business – so long as I know how to do what is right for him and what will make him happy. So – and forgive me for straying into selfishness mode here gentle reader – I am experiencing various emotions at this new paradigm.

I think I'm a little bit in shock, to be honest. I don't really understand. That is, the technical and logistical; even the biological mechanisms are apparent to me now. But I am somewhat lost in unchartered territory. This isn't the shiny side of Strumpetville, and no mistake.

The primary feeling is a huge amount of guilt. Fella is and was ill, slowly getting worse and I can't help but feel that I contributed to it. A lot. So much so that this Sunday I raised the possibility that he and I should end our relationship if that is what is best for him. He insists, to no small relief on my part, that it is not. But at 11 months and 11 days I am confronted with the notion that I really don't know him. In many ways situations will occur that cause me to tap the brakes on our relationship and that is itself a good thing. But there's new and there's New!

Fella is a creative type; an artist; a passionate soul that feels the world deeply and one of the reasons he has avoided medication for so long is that when smoothing out the lows it smoothes out the highs; the good times aren't so good and it's not a compromise he's considered worthwhile. Have I driven him to it then? It's like some fucking Greek tragedy; to be the people that fell in love is perhaps to destroy that love – but to become someone else devalues it to the point of meaninglessness.

So what is for the best? There's a huge risk of angsty over-analysis of course. Fella, to me, is the living embodiment of Why; I work hard and wish to achieve something with my life and he is the reason for that, given form. So, perhaps it is for the best to say: bollocks to angsty worry about things. Hard work has never frightened me and Lord knows I consciously understand it needs a lot in any relationship. So, let's get to work shall we? After all, we should not discount the possibility that the help might help.