Wednesday, 26 October 2011


I’m 34, apparently well past an age where I could respectably go out clubbing or on the pull in Soho. That’s fine, I have my Fella and with the diet and exercise regime I get compliments about my figure, my arms, etc - which is, perhaps not surprisingly, nicer than the small shreds of validation that come from sleeping around (and yes that is a large part of why I did it. D’uh!).

Still, 34 is a funny time of life. I love being in my 30s, almost as much but in a different way to which I enjoyed being 16, 17 and 18. But what is it? Less than half-way, but more than a third. I’ve been a child longer than I’ve been an adult, but I’m not quite fully grown up (as my bank manager well knows).

In the last few weeks I’ve been described as an older man, by a guy in his mid-20s! And be flattered that I look like I’m in my mid-20s, by a guy a couple of years older than me. Yes, each hoped flattery would get them everywhere, but still…

It seems in some respects time has caught me up. I’m writing this before telling many of my close friends – some of whom read this, I am pleased to write - or Family (though Fella I told straight away).

Last Tuesday I was an unwell fairy, so got some medical advice from NHS Direct (a telephone based free healthcare advice service) and they recommended, to my surprise, I attend my nearest A&E (emergency room).

Well, speed and efficiency were certainly the order of the day. Although it took eight hours in total I was hooked up to more machines and devices than I expected; and yours truly was turned into a little pink pin cushion…

So here it is.

My brain isn’t working as it should. Blood tests show its receptors are not picking up as many hormones as it should. Its chemistry is unusual. Sometimes people with altered brain chemistry have a mental health problem, apparently sometimes not – or not just that.

My brain tells my body to produce stress hormones like adrenaline but doesn’t mop up the after effects. It seems, to put it bluntly, I suffer a constant stress hangover where different parts of my body go out of hormonal sync… the result; irregular heartbeat for a start. Ouch.

It feels weird that my behaviours and reactions are sometimes not my own – and I didn’t know it. Or maybe that’s just how “I” feel.

How do I manage this? Well apparently I have to give up caffeine, chocolate, salt, reduce (not give up, thank fuck) alcohol and carefully avoid the gym. Fortunately sex wasn’t mentioned.

My consultant gave me a lot of information about some unique stress management techniques; and I’m going to go in further tests in a couple of weeks.

It’s weird; how do you react when confronted by things like this? I immediately went out to a comedy show (Fella and I were planning to celebrate a friend’s birthday anyway) and managed to cheer myself up. And I have been carefully ignoring my consultant’s advice about my diet.

Well, from now on time to be good. Darn. Strumpetville will never be the same again. And I suppose that’s the difference between 17 and 34.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Ashes to ashes

It’s October. We’re back from the funeral, and we even managed to squeeze in a couple of days in Bruges before heading back to Blighty. Now college has begun in earnest and I’m back into studying, attending a fairly punishing schedule of classes, and thinking about my dissertation – whilst also continuing my never ending diet of course.

For Fella and I work is pretty hectic, and both of us are trying to find new jobs. Sadly his mother’s condition continues to gently deteriorate so in some ways Fella and I are living like the early days of our relationship, with him spending a few days with her and a few days with me.

What does this add up to? Well, gentle reader, a whole heap of stress. And what is the best cure for stress?

I’ll tell you what it isn’t – family.

I’ve generally been quite pleased with how well my family has reacted to my sexuality in the years since I came out to them. Something that definitely was not on the approved list when I was growing up is, if not embraced, politely accepted. It took some getting used to for some people, but I’ve been quite lucky. They have taken it better than some people’s family, yes indeed.

Nevertheless, and this may be a German thing more than anything else, one thing that has always struck me is a certain backwardness in social attitudes, or a lack of understanding. I mean, it may be my fault for accepting the acceptance without trying to educate or evolve my family.

I don’t want to proselytise about my sexuality and how normal-yet-fabulous it is; and my family are conservative enough about sex (whilst apparently indulging in a ridiculous amount mind) that I was an awful lot older than I should have been when I found out what “balls drop” meant.

Instead what I did when I came out was convince the key players – my mother especially – that my sexuality is irrelevant to my masculinity. Good in the sense that their stereotyped images of homosexuals weren’t true; but bad in the sense that “straight acting” makes being gay somehow OK…

“Straight acting.” I can pretend well enough to be a straight man that hardly anyone can tell… so that’s alright then, right? It’s wrong because I unwittingly participate in the unspoken conspiracy to elevate heterosexual masculinity above all other things.

Oh yes we do… that’s why, I think, a lot of gay fantasy goes into pulling a straight guy; and why women are less likely to forgive a guy who has strayed with another guy – whilst men are twice as likely to forgive a girl whose played away with another girl.

Anyway, the stress of it all got to me a bit and eventually I got tired-and-emotional with it all and lost patience with this “so… which one is the man, and which one the woman?” and the “so will you have a hen do, or a stag do?” and even the “it is going to be, like, two grooms or two brides?”.

Ultimately, without giving a blow by blow account of the Words had, I ultimately suggested that people didn’t really know me perhaps as well as they could, and if they wanted to know anything – rather than assuming – they could perhaps ask?

Well. Certainly I need to mend some fences with my mother, and an uncle, aunt and cousin of mine and I are not quite on speaking terms any more.

You win some, you lose some. I’m not sure yet which side of the line this whole sorry episode falls. But I was there with my family when it mattered; and I’m glad to be home.