Sunday, 28 August 2011

Glass half...

This weekend Fella and I went to Brighton to celebrate the hen-hen do of two of our friends who will have their civil partnership in October. Fella and I drove down there on Friday afternoon, checked in, met our friends and spent the next 36 hours partying.

There is nothing quite like seeing a lesbian flail about in a giant floating hamster ball, going on a 12 pub crawl, or spending an afternoon dressed as a flapper girl to put a smile on the cheerful fairy’s face, gentle reader. We had a great time.

There were 30 of us in total, a fair number I had met, but naturally a great proportion I had not. A few gay men, a fair number of straight women – I met some nice new people and I look forward to seeing them all again in October for the actual ceremony.

Some of our friends were there too. Always good to catch up with some old favourites, including of course the hens. I was quite touched that each of them in their own way did for me a spontaneous act of kindness, from a great big hug to just checking I’m OK.

You see, although I had a great time I did realise, reflected perhaps in the concerns of my friends, that my mood has of late been very dark. You see, from time to time, despite my efforts to see things in a positive light, I will suffer from a period of mild depression.

A fellow blogger recently had his aura photographed; and I find myself wondering what my aura would look like right now. I have to confront the fact I haven’t been very happy for a while now.

Part of it is self-denial. Not having freedom of action will bring me down. I am very restricted in what I can do, job wise, money wise, even where I live for the next two years but all in a worthy cause of course.

Nevertheless, I have a nagging feeling that nothing is quite as it should be in my life; and that applies to my relationship with Fella too. There’s nothing specifically wrong, but I have a strange desire just to get away from it all by myself for a while. I suspect that’s my strong introversion reasserting itself as part of my mood. If I could change one part of myself (that I can’t change, I mean) then I would make myself more of a people person. There is a reason most of my friends are former schoolmates and current or former colleagues.

But I digress.

There is so much to be positive about; that’s what I need to remember. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight; I’ve passed my exams (hurrah); we’re going on a trip to Germany at the end of September. And of course the wonderful friends I do have.

I think a couple of days off, just here, to reboot my silly head and just have some quiet time is in order. In the meantime, you can look forward to some photos and YouTube gold of our trip!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Hidden Depths

Who knows what goes on behind closed doors? Well, these days we know a lot of what goes on behind closed doors as people insist on telling us. I refer not just to yours truly and his fellow blogging ilk. I’m writing about the internet and the weird and wonderful ways we get to explore sex and sexuality.

And sometimes… we can get a bit of a shock.

Well, gentle reader, as you know I am on something of a diet and am a bit pleased with my progress. In order to motivate myself and ensure it really is possible for a 34 year old cheerful fairy to overcome his need to inhale vast quantities of liquid and solid calories, and buff up. However, I wanted to compare myself to something other than the airbrushed and tweaked male models in fitness magazines or Attitude.

‘Aha’ I thought ‘I still have gaydar account – I can do a search for white guys, 34, defined/muscled etc and see what I should be aiming for’.

Search duly performed I have a look at the guys this throws up, not so many to make me feel bad, but not so few as to make me wonder if anything other than Hogzilla is asking the impossible.

And then…

Well, my colleague is somewhat older than 34, but it turns out his boyfriend isn’t and their – joint – profile and their – joint – photos were one of the profiles I clicked on. Whoops.

I was actually quite shocked. I felt like I’d been caught doing something naughty – or worse; stalking him. Awkward!! I mean, I wasn’t cruising, there was a perfectly innocent reason for my search. Does he know I saw his profile? I am torn between hoping he does and hoping he doesn’t… I won't be bringing it up, that’s for sure.

He and his boyfriend can do what they like of course – it’s none of my business and I’m actually not even entitled to the opinion. The only gossip here is that I’ve embarrassed myself, perhaps a little, perhaps a lot – and definitely not for the first time.

What is perhaps a tad more salacious is another one of my colleagues who turns out to be quite a prolific porn star. Quite by chance a gay friend of mine was discussing a porn star he’s a big fan of, and he Googled the guy to guy to show me what he was going on about. Well, very impressive in some ways but what caught my eye was the guy he was with. My colleague. Well, I couldn’t be 100% sure at first, and he wasn’t using his real name! But it is him.

In many ways I’m actually quite pleased I know someone who is living that kind of life. My life is taken up by domestic bliss – this post displaces me going on about our marvellous tomatoes, lettuces and pumpkin Fella and I are growing on our balcony. I am torn, I must admit, sometimes between the times that I was being naughty. Nostalgia. Well, their secrets are safe with me, though they may wonder at the smile on my face from time to time.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Strumpetvill en-flambe

Wow, when things kick off here they really go for it! Never do things by halves in this town.

Fella and I live in sunny Woolwich, and on 8th of August the three days of rioting finally reached our district. First it was reported on the news and we nervously watched events unfold. Then they began to unfold outside our window. Flames leapt up into the sky and there was smoke everywhere. I wasn’t sure we could stay where we were. Drama, gentle reader, drama.

I spent much of the evening excitedly texting friends and colleagues to check if they were OK; some close friends offered us a chance to stay with them if need be but we decided to stay put.

The next morning I went into the town centre, a few minutes’ walk away, to have a look at the damage. Burned out buildings and police cars; the fire brigade still tackling fires. It was a scene reminiscent of the blitz or a bombing. Even now some of the damage is so severe streets remain closed.

I’ve never experienced a riot before, even at the periphery. It was all quite exciting, in a scary sort of way. I’m a little worried it will all kick off again tonight; we’ll be battening down the hatches and Fella is under strict instructions to come home at the earliest possible time. The last thing I want is for him to be caught up in any disorder. The streets are quiet now, but the sense of menace is palpable; people regarding each other with suspicions, shops still closing early. The whole atmosphere has changed.
For me, the most important thing going forward is finding out why this happened. It’s not race, youth, or any easy label. Although the riots arose out of a peaceful protest about the police shooting a man in another area, there is no single Great Injustice that can be singled out for blame.

I wonder if it’s symbolic of the state of the world right now. With the economic, political and military turmoil going on right now it sometimes feels like we’re in a Weimar-hyperinflation-Poland is lovely this time of year situation. Another part of me wonders if this symbolises the emergence of the underclass; third generation under-parented, under-educated people without material poverty, just poverty of aspiration.

A couple of years ago I was a member of a residents association that covered about 420 families; a mixture of social housing, tenants, owner-occupiers; young professionals, families, retirees; a real ethnic and social mix. That worked. Mixing people together meant the standards of civility or social behaviour were so much higher than estates where so many people have been dumped. Everyone working together brought everyone up. People were incentivised to keep up with their neighbours, and people learned from each other how to do better.

Going forward as a country we need to focus on ensuring our towns and cities are mixed communities of all types of people; ethnically, socially, economically. We need to ensure that schools teach people properly and that will cost money. As will a decent prison system that deters crime but reforms criminals. The benefits system should reward and incentivises (and includes), rather than keeps poor people out of sight and mind.

That will take years. Decades probably. But they manage in Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia – we can, frankly, beg borrow and steal ideas from around the world.

In the meantime windows will be replaced, buildings rebuilt, politicians will make their sound-bites and do the bare minimum in order to make this go away. I hope the social scars will be as easily dealt with.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


The world has turned and the Cheerful Fairy is one year older. My mid 30s approach with increasing speed.

Unfortunately on the day Fella was very unwell so I ended up looking after him; but the day before we had friends round for dinner and I took the day after as leave as well so plenty of time to relax.

Fella gave me a lovely antique art-deco clock c. 1930 – exactly what I had been looking for, for some time. My mother sent me some lovely framed paintings of the area she lives in (I got the hint, and we’ll be visiting toward the end of September). Friends gave me a home-made hamper of European food :-)

When it comes to birthdays I must admit my inner child does come out and I get quite excited to receive cards and presents. The inner child is normally suppressed by my inner teenager; and keeping him under control occupies my outer grown up fairy much of the time.

What wisdom can I offer up, gentle reader, now that I have turned thirty-something plus one? Not so much, really. I’m quite surprised things have turned out as well as they have! My middle-classed life in Strumpetville, ordinary though it may be, is (I think) the product of a few simple elements:

• Dogged determination – never giving up

• A positive attitude – seeing the glass half full

• Not letting innocence, or perhaps naivety, give way to cynicism

• Being open to new experiences

• Having a clear idea of what you want

• Leaving the ‘attitude’ at home.

It’s actually not easy to blog when you have a good job, nice home, great relationship, and caring family – it’s either dull or saccharine-sweet. But we persevere – life always has its ups and downs!

Still, that doesn’t matter because it’s MY birthday – as an aside this makes me a Leo which is double-plus fantastic, and gives me the excuse of partying for a month as well – and as usual I have enjoyed myself immensely.