Thursday, 29 March 2012

Small awkward world...

Back in the day, when I blogged more frequently and had more interesting things to post, there were interesting things that happened to me that I would post about. This of course does Fella a disservice; but it is far more interesting to read about someone’s adventures in and about Strumpetville with a motion toward exploring sex and sexuality than it is to read about dinner parties and mild middle-classed angst.

Anyway, sometimes the world rolls around the past comes back to bite you in the bum, to coin a phrase.

Weirdly, this is another of those occasions that involves work. Why not, I suppose? Work is a big part of my life and I’ve always managed to avoid sleeping with friends whilst being lucky enough to make friends out of the occasional lover.

Way back when I briefly dated a guy who I met via Guardian Soulmates. The site itself is, in my view, a rather expensive way to meet the usual round of short term bijou boyfriendettes and one-night stands. Fun, but not really worth the money. At the time I had decided to try and dial things back a bit and find someone a bit saner. He lives in Hertfordshire and liked to tour abandoned nuclear bunkers. Bingo!

This particular guy spectacularly binned me in front of my friends at a Eurovison dinner party. I just wish he hadn’t eaten my food and drunk my wine before he did it. He did apologise later. I burned everything he left behind. Fair enough. No real harm done; I hope he’s doing well and is happy. Honest, guv.

Anyway, this is the guy introduced me to the good old fashioned gay sauna.

In the following months and years I did return from time to time to explore those mazes and steam rooms. I won’t lie – rule 5 (and 9) is there for a reason. I had fun.

The problem with fun of a certain type is that you don’t expect it to come out of its box and follow you around.

Yeah, you’ve guessed where this is going.

I’m pleased to be part of the LGBT group at work. Another guy who has joined recently is a German (yay) guy who, while a little older, is absolutely my type and works hard to keep it so.

Well, I recognised him and he recognised me; from a sauna, back then and back there. It’s difficult, and awkward, to say the least, to try and build a professional relationship, and in many ways common cause, with someone the top of whose head is the thing about them you remember second best.

The thing about is all, is not the salaciousness of it all – such as it is – but how to get over the awkwardness and build a working relationship with someone it turns out I really quite like. We both have partners, and there’s no way there’s a spark there. Mind you, I so wish I had not put any weight on between then and now, and I’m going to be a gym slave for a while yet…

I think I’ll have to fairy up and try and have a casual chat with him tomorrow to clear the air. I hope I can make it work. This kind of thing isn’t my forte. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


I’ve always been an introvert, and painfully shy in social situations, or when meeting new people. Afraid of coming across as a bit of a dickhead and generally lacking in the social graces even when I have stepped outside of myself and spoken up, I’ve ended up over analysing it afterward and cursing myself for being such a fool.

I’m told I was always pretty much like this; ‘never’ cried as a baby, never fussed in the supermarket or was particularly naughty. I always was happy by myself, playing in my room or with my head in a book. And being raised in an environment that can be best described as one of benign neglect I thrived academically but did little else.

When I was 14 we moved to Wiltshire and I started a new school. My parents’ marriage disintegrated within a year and neglect went from benign to virtually total. A combination of no parental guidance, peer pressure and raging adolescent hormones – plus a slow emergence into a not at all bad looking youth – set the scene for some uncharacteristic naughtiness. I made friends who have been my friends for 20 years, had thoroughly good adventures and made a point of pretty much saying yes to everything whilst also keeping enough of a head to maintain my academic credentials.

In the end no matter how much I drank, what else I took, how often the police brought me home or whether or not the injunction banning me from all National Trust land is still in force, none of it changed who I am. But the experiences that I had and the people I was with made me begin to appreciate who that person could be.

Soon, gentle reader, I will have been in sunny Strumpetville half my life. I have had a successful career to date, and this blog relates well enough another journey I have made. Yet in what should very much be a well-earned summer of my life, I find myself yet again pondering why I am virtually crippled by an appalling lack of self-confidence.

I am an introvert, still, and that is no bad thing, although the modern world is all about those with personality and not us keepers of the unlovablevirtues. Fella understands I have the space and time I need to read my books, tend my garden…

Still, the issue harms our relationship. How can he be happy or fulfilled being with someone like me? I do keep testing or challenging his sincerity and I worry one day the shine will come off. That is my biggest fear. But also I find it difficult to consider going for a promotion – what have I achieved? Am I really worth promoting?

In an effort to tackle what I perceive to be a very risky and fragile state I have been casting about for some self-help resources. One book I have been reading recently in particular has been quite useful. It’s named “What’s Stopping You” by Robert Kelsey, and man who describes himself as having overcome some of the same issues I describe. It’s a good primer for books like “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” so is worth reading for that. But also he does seem to have the measure of me!

In his book he describes me and those like me as “High Fear of Failure” and we manifest this by setting impossible goals so it doesn’t really matter if we don’t reach them;  and how we avoid going into situations, social or otherwise, because we don’t recognise that we all fail a lot of times and in many respects that is a positive learning experience too.

The book also expands on the helpful “where will you be in five years’ time” angle by exploring how those goals can be broken down into the tasks needed to get achieve them; getting started on those tasks; and - ultimately – what’s stopping you?

I don’t like the “blame the parents” excuse. Nor do I think a book is the answer to what ails me. I do know, however, I need to man-up and confront these issues because cute they may be in a teenager, they lack a certain charm in a man approaching (in a few years yet) middle age.

Friday, 23 March 2012


Can you believe it gentle reader? Five years since I started this blog. We’ve had some ups and downs in Strumpetville that’s for sure.

Fella and I have had our ups and downs, but believe it or not we’ll have been together for three years in May – more than half the time I’ve been posting. He unaccountably seems devoted to me despite getting to know me rather well.

I suppose determination pays off. As I’m well into my mid-thirties I suppose I came late to sexuality and was acutely aware of my window of opportunity – yes I know it’s really shallow but that seems to be the way it is out there. I think I made up in part for lost time and met a fair number of characters along the way.

I’ve been lucky – not too much hassle, heartache or horror to get to this point. Don’t get me wrong, if I had my time again I’d be out a lot sooner – but then I’d need my experiences and the validation I’ve had to do it, so maybe not… Fella and I have been good to each other, careers are doing well, fabulous friends and even close families. I’ve even lost a little weight…

Now, five years down the line it is time to acknowledge the importance of taking that next big step.

Yes, it’s time to grow up. *sigh*

By trimming the excesses of my social life my health has improved to the point that today I was discharged from my hospital consultant’s care; I really need to keep at it and accept I’m getting a bit too fat and old to go out boozing like I used to. Career’s too need work, rather than blundering along with a pinch of talent and a teaspoon of luck… and the same is true of relationships, friendships and money…

Work work work. Oh dear.  All work and no play makes Cheerful a dull Fairy. Yes, there has to be the social side and that could use some effort too; but at least that will be fun.

So here it is then: five years, five promises to myself.

1.       I will keep working to achieve my target weight and now give up in the face of minor setbacks.

2.       I will let go of worrying about petty details and small things.

3.       I will stick to my savings goals.

4.       I will set about getting a new job.

5.       I will focus on continuing to grow a well-rounded human being.  

Just in time for spring J

Now to celebrate with a glass of wine

Sunday, 11 March 2012


You may remember, gentle reader, that I am doing a research degree in public policy. I am nearing the end of my studies now, and in fact only have a few lectures left before it’s all done. Studying, classes, projects, revising… they all keep me busy. I’ve loved it and it’s really taught me invaluable skills and opened up my horizons. Bargain.

Of course there is one element left – my dissertation.
It is very important for me to do my dissertation research on an LGBT themed topic. Having tried to do my projects and essays on LGBT-relevant areas I’ve been amazed, and somewhat frustrated by the lack of data out there.

It seems general social research isn’t exploring how the issues it tackles affect LGBT people, or where this is done it isn’t done consistently. This means different research can’t easily be compared because different questions are asked, or there aren’t enough LGBT people taking part in a research project to make populations comparable.
So where does my dissertation come in?

I posted a while back about wanting to look at the behaviours of men in civil partnerships to see if they tended to display less risky behaviour. I wanted to use the data collected by sigma research who do a fantastic sexual health survey. They collect the data, but don’t look at that question themselves. Sadly, whilst acknowledging it is an interesting question they refused to share their data with me.
So, being me, I decided what the hell-crap-damn – I’ll collect my own data. Ha! Take that wise, and experienced researchers!

My dissertation proposal has been signed off, although I am looking at a wider range of life experiences to see how these impact on behaviours and social attitudes. I’ve started an advertising campaign using banner ads on some LGBT websites, and flyers to hand out, which mean I should reach about 250,000 gay and bisexual men. With luck that will get me at least few hundred responses.
I’m very very excited and can’t wait get my hands on some data to get modelling. It should all be done by the beginning of September and in the meantime while people are completing my online research questionnaire I will be doing a lot of background reading which will have the added advantage of expanding my horizons about issues affecting gay people.

It would be remiss of me, of course, not to plug my research questionnaire… so if you are a gay or bisexual man, or a man who has sex with men – and you are resident in the UK – then you are more than welcome to take part at It’s completely anonymous and every response is appreciated J