Tuesday, 8 May 2007

A Play, A Perjuror, Performance Art & A Party

Blogging, by its very nature, is a highly self-indulgent pastime. While some bloggers have achieved a sufficient level of interest in their musings to make a living out of it (Perez Hilton, take a bow) I can claim no more noble motivation than that I love writing and enjoy the catharsis of getting my often disjointed thoughts on this that and the other into some sort of order. Writing is my therapy (always has been – at university I wrote a column for the college paper; before that, I’d dabble in poetry which whilst uniformly flowery and pretentious, at least served to soothe an often addled and over-active mind) and so the act is its own reward. That said, it’s always gratifying if and when someone else finds some pleasure in what one has written, so I’m naturally pleased that my last couple of posts have sparked a fair bit of interest from my small-but-loyal readership.

The piece about honesty seemed to strike a chord with many people and it was interesting to see its central theme borne out in a couple of recent events. The first was a trip to the wonderful Oval House Theatre – my local hub of gay culture – to see a brilliant new play, ‘Twisted’. Loosely based on the events leading up to the death, in mysterious circumstances, of Stuart Lubbock in Michael Barrymore’s swimming pool, the play followed the unfolding events of a weekend of drug-fuelled debauchery in the Manchester home of a dysfunctional gay couple whose house guests, both invited and uninvited, number a sexually voracious but, for the ‘sake of his career’ closeted, famous actor friend; a hard-as-nails, naturally straight-acting but defiantly out scally, and his sister’s boyfriend and, it transpires, own sometime bed partner, whose confused sexuality may be due to denial, ignorance or immaturity, we cannot be sure. In addition to their varying degrees of comfortableness in their sexuality, a further layer of complexity is added by the inter-relationships that develop between them and the extent to which dishonesty about their true feelings for each other – both positive and negative – affects their ability to interact functionally. The overarching lesson to be drawn from the play’s eventual tragic and all too sadly avoidable outcome is that a great deal of pain can be caused by our concealment of truths we are too scared to reveal.

Exactly that lesson was shown to be worth learning by the likewise all too sadly avoidable fall from grace of Lord Browne, nicknamed ‘The Sun King’ and toppled from his throne as chairman of BP for having lied to a court of law about the circumstances in which he met his ex-lover. This latter, by all accounts a spiteful and vindictive little bitch who, the relationship having ended and with it the high life, went running to the tabloids, happened to be a man. What was interesting was that none of the reporting of his sudden resignation that I saw seemed to attach any significance to this fact. The media also avoided finding any titillation in the allegation of which the mendacious denial caused Lord Browne to have to resign, namely that the men had met via a gay escort website. No, the only indiscretion for which Lord Browne ultimately had to fall on his sword was that he told in court a bare-faced lie in order to conceal a truth that he chose to dislike, and he got caught out.

I have nothing but contempt for the nasty, vengeful little trollop who repays four years of apparently unrestrained generosity by running to the Mail on Sunday. It follows that I abhor that publication and all who run it for being so archaically prurient and debased as to fund said treacherous bastard’s story-telling. I’ve wondered whether the story would have piqued their interest quite so much if the lover had been a woman and the escort agency had been a ‘straight’ one, and arrived at the conclusion that it probably wouldn’t have, so there’s some extra dislike and residual anger at this latent but nonetheless nasty homophobia. But why, why WHY did a man of Lord Browne’s immense power, wealth and influence think he would get away with lying in court? And what could he have been so afraid of that he felt the need to conceal it? His mother, an Auschwitz survivor to whom he was said to be devoted, is dead and therefore beyond embarrassment. Professionally, one can’t really get much higher than chairman of a multi-billion pound global corporation and a salary in excess of £3 million. And among his peers, after 41 years with the company and ten years at BP’s helm I imagine Browne must know at least as much if not more dirt on others as to be able to silence any board room sniggering. A couple of years ago, when the Mark Oaten/Simon Hughes revelations overshadowed the Lib Dem leadership contest, I wrote (for the currently moth-balled but hopefully soon-to-re-launch Coo-ee that, “these scandals have nothing to do with homophobia; they are the fruit only of foolishness and disingenuousness in men we expected to be a great deal wiser.” It really is sad to see that the same holds true this time around.

The other piece that chimed with readers was the most recent in which I reminisced about clubbing days gone by and my new ‘home’ on the scene, Vauxhallville. Some agreed wholeheartedly that London was long overdue somewhere genuinely new, while others felt that my report of the scene’s death was, perhaps, premature. Either way, it certainly seemed to generate some interest in giving the night a try and so it was that about eight of us headed on down a couple of weeks back for Madonna night. I went as H&M Madonna, faithfully recreating a look from one of the posters for that collection in trenchcoat, sunglasses, heels and uncannily realistic Madonna wig. ActiveWill dressed in top-to-toe denim and spiral curls to be Ray of Light Madonna; but it was Margo who carried off the prize for best outfit with his take on Malawi Madonna, in a vest top, sarong and Panama hat, all accessorised with his pi├Ęce de resistance – baby David Banda, or at least a doll thereof, bought for the occasion from East Street Market. The entertainment and activities that night were as eclectic as ever and had us all hooting with laughter. Le Gateau Chocolat, an enormous black opera singer, performed Frozen, backed by two dancing cats; Scales of The Unexpected, a barber shop choir, treated us to their Madonna Medley; Bearlesque (it does exactly what it says on the tin) vogued for all they were worth (clothes were removed; I swooned – they’re a seriously hot bunch of boys) and the hosts, Nathaniel De Ville and Timberlina (upon whom I have the most ridiculous crush) invited one and all to be part of their DIY Sex book. Margo and I went head-to-head in the quiz and as with the costume competition he pipped me at the post in that too, but deservedly so given his lifelong devotion to Her Madgesty.

The week before that had been Moulin Rouge – I went for a loose interpretation of the theme and dressed all in rouge, right down to socks and smalls – which involved the Bearlesque boys doing the can-can, Nathaniel’s revival of the tableau vivant (Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe starring the gorgeous Fred Bear) and the hands-free cocktail shaking skills of Ophelia Bitz. This Thursday just gone was the May Fayre, and although I rolled up rather late and alone (confident that I would cease to be alone the second I walked through the door, a confidence that was duly repaid many times over) I was still in time to catch the home-made placard-waving May Day march round the block, a one-off short set from the unbelievably talented performance artist Taylor Mac, and most fun of all, the dance around the May Pole. That I ended up snogging someone totally random who I didn’t fancy one bit, while dressed as a deconstructed May Pole, only added to the inherent entertainment value of another wonderful, original, enriching evening.

Yet, there’s one exclusive, invitation-only ‘club’ in Vauxhall that tops even Vauxhallville for sheer fun and glamour, and that’s my home sweet home. This Sunday just gone I celebrated one year in my much-loved bachelor pad with a (for me) fairly low-key cocktail soiree to which I’d invited thirty or so of my favourite people, of whom twenty or so turned up. Of the six or seven hours it went on for, the last couple – including a fairly brief visit to the Brewers – are less a blur than completely obscured, but from the substantial chunks I do remember I’d be very hard pushed to choose a single favourite moment. I loved that Dolly had joined me early to help perfect the night’s signature cocktail, the Peach Cobbler; I delighted to see Glenda and Princess Timmy, newly enfianced, arrive hand-in-hand bearing Malibu and pineapple; I was thrilled when ActiveWill arrived bringing not just a new friend but also a lovely bottle of bubbly, and doubly thrilled when The South African arrived with the same (well, the bubbly at least.) I was delighted that The Second Favourite Lesbian and her Lady Love made it along, especially as until that point the gathering had been all male (not that I mind that per se but one does like to embrace diversity); I loved that my Gay Neighbours dropped by from across the garden square (I couldn’t help feeling that that had something of an Alan Hollinghurst novel about it) and oh, God, I loved that every single glass, cup and vessel got used and re-used and yet the bar never ran dry, the music never stopped and not a cross word passed anyone’s lips. I even loved waking on Monday morning (not alone, but discretion prevents me from naming him) not knowing what kind of carnage might greet me upon entering the living area from the bedroom (as it happens hardly any, bar a few crumbs and my party shirt, buttonless having been physically ripped from me in the throes of passion.)

Thirty, Single and Fabulous might sound like a terribly self-aggrandising title for a blog, but reading back on what I’ve written here I think it's a fairly accurate definition of the life I'm lucky enough to be living right now. I lead, as far as I can, an honest life, awkward as that may sometimes be. I’ve found a truly wonderful night out that really lifts me up and have like-minded friends old and new to share it with. I have a safe and secure home in an area I love, to the extent that I would want to celebrate a year of living there; and when I choose to do just that, I get to share that celebration with the most amazing, eclectic, vibrant group of people you could hope to bring together. I don’t take any of it for granted; God knows I’ve seen enough change in my relatively short life already to know that nothing lasts forever and that people and things we assume will be with us all our natural lives can leave you in the blink of an eye. In just a few weeks I’ll cease to be thirty (though I’ll have nine years yet of being ‘thirtysomething’!) and although I’m happy to stay single for now, increasingly I’m coming round to the idea that one day I may want to settle down again. But for now, while things are as they are, that ‘fabulous’ stands and I defy anyone to convince me otherwise.

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