Sunday, March 11, 2007

So Far, So Good...

So the deed has been done. I handed in my resignation last Monday just about managing to circumnavigate all the potential banana skins feared in my previous blog entry. And my manager seemed to take the news reasonably well. He didn't even have the decency to burst into tears or scream "You've ruined my life!!!" at the top of his voice. And there I was thinking I was a vital piece of machinery within the comapny without which it would never be able to function properly. Time to think again.

As for the rest of the week, at first it seemed as if no-one wanted to talk to me about it. But since approx Wednesday I have been fielding question after question about why, when, where, whatever. This is obviously great fun at first as everyone loves a chance to gab on about themselves and their life, but by the end of the week was getting to be a bit wearing. Though it was quite amusing to see the number of people who seemed to think I'd won a prize and kept saying 'Congratulations!'

And now, for my final three months of employment with the company, I have the lovely task of documenting 'everything I know'. What fun.

Next steps will be my first trip to Glasgow to actually view some potential new homes & hopefully meet up with my solicitor (or at least the bloke I'm assuming will be my solicitor although he doesn't know it yet). I'm planning to travel up there on Friday afternoon and return the following Wednesday. So hopefully, I can avoid the onerous documentation mountain for at least the first couple of days of the forthcoming working week by spending all day on the phone to estate agents trying to book viewings. When I leave the company in mid-June, I'm going to miss not having to pay for phone calls.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Well, tomorrow's the day. The letter's written after much deliberation; who'd have thought that writing a simple letter of resignation could be so fraught with confusion? Do I say how much I've enjoyed working for the company, how sorry I am to be going, why I am leaving etc ? In the end, I just did what several guides to writing letters of resignation found online (and isn't the Internet a useful thing?) suggested: keep it short and to the point. So effectively: Dear Boss, I Quit; Leaving 15th June.

The problem is now how to break the news. Office etiquette (in my office, anyway) generally seems to demand that you take your manager aside 'for a word', making sure no-one sees you doing so, nor them twigging what you are doing when actually in the process of telling him. Normally on Mondays I arrive about 5-10 minutes before him, so I should be poised ready to strike. However, out of consideration to him, I need to wait until he's actually through the door, got his coat off and PC on and had time to get a drink. But I mustn't wait too long or he may well launch into one of his interminable conversations with his boss about the weekend's football results, which will swiftly be followed by either a phone call, a meeting or other 'proper work' by which time the office will be busier and the iron will have cooled off significantly and no longer be strikeable. So you see what a delicate tightrope I have to walk between 8.10 and 8.25 tomorrow morning.

If it all goes tits up at that time, then I shall have to fall back on Plan B - namely when we have our team bleating at 11am, send him a cryptic email 15 minutes beforehand asking if we can both remain in the meeting room for 5 minutes afterwards because I 'need to have a word about something'.

Honestly, this resignation business is worse than international espionage. It's a wonder anyone ever changes jobs.

As for everything else in The Master Plan, well hopefully I should agree a price for my flat with my neighbours this week, so should be able to put the legal wheels in motion on that shortly; and I've booked the 16-21st March off work to go up to Glasgow for my first flat-viewing weekend which I hope to combine with meeting my solicitor and a tour of Glasgow's finest veggie cafes when I get a bit peckish :)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Soliciting In Glasgow

Nothing really to report on The Big Move, however I started doing a preliminary search for solicitors in the West End of Glasgow who might be able to handle the legal stuff when I am ready to buy a flat there.

During my search, I stumbled upon one called Pauline Rough.

Which amused me for a while.

Monday, January 01, 2007's starting !

As they say on Torchwood, "the 21st century is when everything changes, and you'd better be ready". Well in my case it's taken until 7 years (or is it 6 - I can never remember) into the new century for me to reach my Everything Changes point, but I think it's fair to say the helter-skelter has been stepped on and I shall soon hopefully be tumbling inexorably towards my (new) destination. Which of course - as stated in my previous post - is leaving London for Glasgow. So why I am making such a seemingly drastic and life-changing step ? Here's the background:

- My fondness for Scotland started early in life when my aunt & uncle moved to Helensburgh. This is a small town about a 45 minute train journey westwards from central Glasgow, and we went up there for holidays several times in the late 70s/early 80s - I think it was 6 times in 7 summers. Ever since then it's always been in the back of my mind that I would like to live in Scotland some day.

- Now I've enjoyed my 15 years in London, I feel very lucky and privileged to have met some great people, had some brilliant experiences and really fallen on my feet career-wise. However, it's now all starting to feel a bit jaded. That creeping feeling that everything, every year is the same; that I've done it all before. I suspect this is quite common. However for most people, encumbered by family ties & commitments , constrained financially, probably find they cannot do anything about it, so simply shrug their shoulders and muddle along as best they can. Whereas I, as a single gay man with no dependents have the opportunity to take a few (safe-ish) risks in life. And I firmly believe this is the type of thing you regret NOT doing more than doing.

- Thirdly, the Scottish climate agrees with me much more than the London one. This has become more of an issue in the past 5-ish years, as the amount of appallingly hot weather seems to have increased noticeably. Summer in London is increasingly becoming something to grit my teeth and get through, plus it arrives earlier and earlier and has developed an annoying tendency to outstay its welcome.

- Following several recent visits and obsessive internet research, I am convinced that Glasgow is a fantastic city to live in - and certainly a lot cheaper than Edinburgh. I want to buy a 2-bed traditional tenement flat, preferably in the West End, or failing that, South Side. I hope this turns out to be a good move. Reason 1 Why It Might Not Be. Reason 2 Why It Might Not Be. Don't tell my mum.

- I'm 40 next month - so obviously, life begins!!!

These are my favourite Glasgow websites:
Hidden Glasgow
Future Glasgow
Pat's Guide To Glasgow West End

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Stop Press

This blog is being revived in 2007 !!

This is because I am planning a year of great change and upheaval, ie moving from London to start afresh in Glasgow, and I am sure there will be some noteworthy incidents along the way, be it dodgy decor spotted during flat-viewings, rows with estate agents or hilarious misunderstandings resulting from my present lack of understanding of the finer points of the Glaswegian tongue.

What fun may ensue. More to follow soon!!!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Medical Emergency - call 999 !!!

Well after my Friday night out, Saturday was a lie-in, followed by gym in the afternoon and a quiet evening in recuperating. Except it didn't quite turn out that way. Having done my stuff at the gym, showered and dressed I took a last look in the mirror and to my horror saw lots of red in the whites of my right eye. I know I'd been out drinking the night before but this was a bit more than merely bloodshot, something was bleeding, somewhere it's not good to bleed.

Now I suppose if I was a Proper Gay I would have immediately started shrieking and flapping my arms about all over the place and generally trying to create as much drama and attention for myself as possible; but I'm not (shut up Gareth), so merely started to inwardly panic. Actually I can't have panicked that much because rather than seek immediate medical treatment, I went across the road to First Out and had something to eat. The food (a sort of Mexican stew) was delicious, but somewhat spoiled by what was refusing to stay entirely at the back of my mind, so afterward I went straight to the A&E department of the nearby University College Hospital (note for Americans: A&E = ER - I think). Have presented myself and my problem to reception I was not immediately whisked away for life-saving treatment, which reassured me somewhat, and settled down for what I as expecting to be some God-awful 5 hour wait.

Actually it wasn't that bad - a nurse (mine was a middle-aged bloke, probably gay and who probably clocked the fact that I was too, or maybe I was imagining the 'knowing looks' he was giving me) comes and takes your details after about 15 minutes and then it was about another hour or so before the doc called me in. Luckily it was early evening so not late enough to be full of aggresive drunks who'd either fallen down escalators or been kicking lumps out of each other, which probably explained my speedier than expected progress. Anyway, it turns out all I'd got was a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage. And not a very impressive one at that; the doc said it could take up to two weeks to get back to normal but even after 1 day there is a noticeable improvement. So I probably won't die after all.

I wonder if the teenager with the over-stressed mother, who had got something lodged in his ear and couldn't get it out but could feel it working it's way further in is OK; ditto the limping woman with the abcess on her foot; the bloke who needed four stiches in his chin; the kid carried in by his dad because he'd hurt his foot and couldn't walk; the bloke with blood streaming down his face from a wound on his forehead who was brought in by a policeman. Also, I thought the use of mobile phones was banned in hospitals...but EVERYONE in the waiting room was using them!

Got home feeling much better and settled down to watch the earlier episode of Dr Who which I'd recorded: The Cybermen are back !!!

Friday Fun

These days, I don't usually venture out on a Friday night, preferring to recharge my batteries after the working week, ready for Duckie on Saturday. This week though was an exception, as I headed to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern for the opening night of Yo! Suzi, a new alternative-esque night hosted by Justin Bond (aka Kiki from Kiki And Herb) with DJs Lush & Johnny Slut.

Now previous attempts at starting Friday-nighters at the Vauxhall have generally bombed spectacularly, but I hope this one doesn't go the same way for I was pleasantly surprised. The music was good, a bit more stuff for "the kids" than you'd expect on a Duckie night, but then the crowd were that bit younger. And there was enough of the older stuff to keep an old croc like me happy too. They'd certainly gone to town with the decor; lots of glistening silver streamers all over the place, a giant square umbrella (with a crow or raven on top) at the entrance and a couple of slightly disturbing armless mannequins on each side of the stage, both sporting bright blue wigs and eye-masks. The only tedious bit was the band, I think they were called Ape Drape Escape. Anyway, they hailed from Sheffield and would probably be quite entertaining if you're 18 and haven't been out much, but for me it was just a case of feeling like I'd seen it all before, many, many times in fact. Oh, and there was a very odd man who spent much of the night crouching on the floor, occasionally trying to sniff people's feet. He reminded me a bit of a giant turtle from the Galapagos Islands. Not sure what happened later on, at one point security started taking an interest in his erm....activities. I think someone else was trying to reassure them he was just a harmless eccentric. Unless he eventually turned out not to be.....

Being the opening night, "everyone" was in, so it was quite busy, obviously the next few weeks will be the telling nights, ie whether they can build on the success of the opening night. Have to admit, I won't be there next week, as I'll almost certainly save myself for Duckie instead, but I certainly hope to get back to YS soon.

I must say, the Vauxhall is looking better and better these days, every time I go they seem to have done some sort of improvement to the venue; new toilets, new floor, wood panelling above the bar, and a new counter for Activity Island (as the central table is called on Duckie nights) being recent examples. Unfortunately they still don't seem to have installed proper (any?) aircon. This wasn't a problem on Friday; although it had been 23C in London during the day, the fact that it was busy but not packed still left it feeling fairly comfortable in there, but on a normal bumper-to-bumper Duckie it's already starting to get very hot & sweaty.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Pimms, Anyone ?

Today, due to my lovely employers, I spent the day in Henley-On-Thames, it being the site of our other UK office. This was ostensibly for a team-building session in the morning (I work in a team of 8, 4 of whom are based in London & 4 in Henley), but unlike the other two times I've been to that office, today I actually got to see a bit of the town itself as we went out for lunch.

And a very picturesque place it is too; very typically English in the most traditional sense, full of well-preserved historic buildings and we had a nice stroll along the river edge to get to our restaurant. This too was in keeping with the rest of the town, I suspect it was originally some sort of old barn, stables or farmahouse, lots of wooden beams across the ceiling, some beautiful old fireplaces plus other original features a-plenty. After a long, leisurely lunch we strolled back through the town to the office to do a token hours "work" for appearances sake. In some ways I would have liked to have stayed there a bit longer to have a really good look around, on the other hand I can imagine that after a certain period of time, it's Olde Worlde feel will start to convince me that everyone is racist/sexist/homophobic/xenophobic (delete as appropriate) - yes, it also has a hint of being The Land That Political Correctness forgot. Oh, and in the summer it's the venue for the Henley Regatta rowing thingy, and as such probably gets overrun with neighing and braying Hooray Henrys and Sloaney women. Thank God for civilisation!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Feast Your Eyes

For my Scottish Photos are now online for all to see.

Hoots Mon!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Back From the North

I do apologise for my tardiness in updating this thing....a two month gaps between posts really is taking the piss somewhat. Perhaps some of you were worried the trauma of turning 39 had sent me to an early grave. But no, I am still here and have just returned from an excellent 8-day holiday in Glasgow.

As well as sightseeing and normal holiday stuff, I also spent some time looking round the two best residential areas (West End and South Side) to see what they might be like to live in - and it's certainly strengthened my resolve to move up there at some point. I have a cunning plan which requires the co-operation of my employers - basically I would like to go part-time and work a couple of days in the London office and a couple more from home, where home would be Glasgow not London. It's mad, but it might just work! It would be nice if property prices could go up a little bit in London and/or down a bit in Glasgow in the next couple of years.

Back to the holiday itself, hopefully I'll get some photos onto flickr in a week or two, perhaps not has many as I would like as I had a bit of a disaster one day with my water bottle leaking and drenching my camera, hence one of the two films may not come out. My decision to rely solely on disposable cameras has been vindicated though. I hope they come out though because my pictures of Stirling Castle were on the possibly-damamged one; this is an excellent place to visit, and provides the opportunity for several stunning photos. It's on the edge of the city (though still walkable from the train station) and as such has lots of spectacular gardens and countryside around it, unlike Edinburgh Castle which is in the middle of the city.

Talking of Edinburgh, I spent a day there as well, mainly to visit The Real Mary King's Close. This is a series of streets, passageways and houses below modern-day street level and well worth a visit - you even get told a ghost story at one stage in the tour. And back in Glasgow, I also went on a tour of Hampden Park, Scotland's international football stadium. It would have been nice if the showers in the changing rooms were being used by Queens Park FC (who use Hampden as their home ground) whilst we were being shown round, but I guess you can't have everything.

And despite having an undeserved reputation for being a violent, run-down city, Glasgow has a very large number of parks and gardens; Kelvingrove Park and the Botanic Gardens are certainly worth having a wander round - though like most outdoor things in Scotland, you need to dodge the showers! Actually, I was quite lucky with the weather, there were several light bursts of rain but no prolonged torrential downpours - another stereotype smashed!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Another Year Older

Another year, another birthday. As of approx 11am last Saturday, I am 39. It was my first birthday on a Saturday for ages, I remember being very peeved at being cheated out of one by a leap year, presumably about 7 years ago. Anyway, usual Saturday night at Duckie, but it was rather an average night in terms of the stage act and the music, but more than made up for by the company. As well as Gareth & Tracey who are no strangers to the place, Tony and Ian came along for the first time in ages and Doug finally lost his Duckie virginity too! Of course, the best thing about birthdays and advancing age is the added wisdom and maturity acquired, leading to increased quality of life.

Is it bollocks - the best thing is getting compilation CDs from your mates (though surely that in itself is a sign of maturity; 10 years ago I would have said it was getting drinks bought for you all night). Ian showed admirable restraint in not putting a single track by the Human League on his; perhaps he thought I would be more entertained by not one, but two songs by Larry Grayson. Anyway, here are all the musical highlights, in no particular order:

Favourite Tracks From Tony's CDs
David Dundas - Jeans On
Small Faces - Itchycoo Park
Linx - Intuition
Lord Rockingham's XI - Hoots Mon
Radio Stars - Nervous Wreck
Mama Cass - Different
Lynsey De Paul - No Honestly
Driver 67 - Car 67
Albert Hammond - Free Electric Band
The Pentangle - Light Flight
Stereo Total - I Love You, Ono
The Pearls - Guilty
Ozark Mountain Daredevils - Jackie Blue
Springfield Revival - It Doesn't Cost Much (To Make People Happy)
Yellow Dog - Just One More Night
Simon Dupree And The Big Sound - Kites
Lulu - The Boat That I Row

Favourite Tracks From Ian's CD
Theme From K9 And Company
B A Robertson - Maggie
Terry Dactyl And The Dinosaurs - Seaside Shuffle
SHAKE - Invasion Of The Gamma Men
Rip Rig And Panic - You're My Kind Of Climate
Brute Force - King Of Fuh
Natasha - Sally Go Round The Roses
The Very Things - The Bushes Scream While My Daddy Prunes
A Flock Of Seagulls - Quicksand
Larry Grayson - Shut That Door (the shame of it!)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Bourne Identity

Last night turned out to be an unexpectedly interesting night at Duckie. I didn’t know it until I arrived, but the borough of Lambeth is having a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgendered History Month this month and it was Duckie’s turn to provide a contribution. If I had have been aware, then I would probably have realised it would be an extra busy night and made the effort to turn up a bit earlier; as it was the night for me started with a queuing nightmare; 15-20 minutes to get in; another 5-10 to check jacket into cloakroom; and perhaps yet another 5-10 to get first drink. (NB since the new owners bought the pub, they have replaced several members of the bar staff, and the new lot frankly don’t seem quite up to the job. And they seemed woefully short-staffed last night; perhaps the size of the crowd took them by surprise as well as me).

But I digress. Whilst I was waiting to get served, the first act came on, none other than Bette Bourne. I say ‘none other’ as if I’ve idolised him for years, though in truth it’s a name I’d only heard in passing a few times and until last night I hadn’t got a clue who he was. And so, I got quite an education on the life of a much-loved actor & drag queen who has been around for decades and consequently has several tales to tell as befitting an LGBT History night. His ‘act’ took a chat show format; he was accompanied on stage by a journalist (sorry, can’t remember his name!) who was there to interview him Wogan-like, though once he got going the interviewer could hardly get a word in edgeways! Not that that was a problem; what we got was a stream of wonderful stories of his life that were in turn informative, touching and funny. For example, stories of him and his friends forming “Drag Communes”, of being harassed and arrested by the police (yet often still managing to have the last laugh); of “scaring the shit” out of homophobic school bullies. It made a refreshing change from the drag acts of today who, on the rare occasions I find myself having to watch one, I generally find nasty, racist and misogynistic. Not only that, from an educational point of view, it was a reminder of just how different things were for gay people only a few decades ago, and how people like Bette were willing to stand up for their – and by extension, our – rights, to give us the freedoms we take for granted in 21st Century Britain. If he hasn’t done so already, then he really ought to write and publish his memoirs; there’s only so much that could be told in 20 minutes and I was left with the impression that there’s much, much more to hear.

The rest of the night was pretty good too – perhaps Bette had got us all into a happy frame of mind or something. The second act was an Australian bloke (another case of sorry, can’t remember his name) who did a strange sort of dance piece called “Split” to a Bjork track; the “split” of the title was represented by one side of his body wanting to do one thing whilst the other side wanted to do something else, lots of jerky side-to-side movements etc. I never really quite understand these things properly, but it was well-executed anyway. In the absence of Amy, the night was hosted by Christopher Green, the man behind Ida Barr & Tina C. It was the first time I had knowingly seen him as himself.

And I still haven’t worked out which of the two Duckie trannies (Gina Love & Maur) is which – despite once having been directed to a photo of Gina. Only one of the two of them was there last night; at one point I spotted Ms. Right Nasty from a distance and meant to go and ask her which one it was but never got round to it. Next week maybe…..which is my birthday too, not that I’m dropping any hints *cough*

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Fan Of Fixit

I think I am going to have go back on my earlier assertion that all digital TV is crap, for since Monday night I have officially been in lust with Alasdair Jeffrey aka The Ferocious Mr Fixit. God knows there are some people in my workplace who could do with being slapped around by him for a while, and after getting all that sorted he could then come to me for some

I'm also ecstatic to see that BBC3 are now repeating Series 2 of Night Night - otherwise it just gets nasty, presumably. Twisted Tales is quite good as well; although I haven't seen it yet, apparently last night's episode features a gay ghost who can't stop haunting the boyfriend he left behind. Hurrah for gay ghosts!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Duckie - Keeping The Faith

On Friday I attended yet another Duckie one-off special event; this time it was a rather more cultured and sedate affair at Tate Britain. Called Duckie: KEEP the FAITH it was themed around religion and art and also featured more gay vicars than you could shake a stick at! Apparently it was part of the Tate's Late At Tate Britain series of events, which happens on the first Friday of each month and where the doors are kept all evening for special events such as this.

It sounded like an interesting thing on the face of it, but it didn't quite work for me. I seemed to spend quite a lot of time wandering aimlessly around looking for something interesting to do or see. I don't think the layout really helped either - it mainly took place in a single large long hall, divided into sections. The bar area was in the middle section, with the stage at the end; unfortunately this meant that you could hear the general hubbub from the bar whilst you were trying to watch something on the stage, so unless you were quite close to the front the stage performer was difficult to hear. I did at least get close to the front when Tommy Angel took to the stage; he is a "Gospel Magician" - so lots of hellfire, brimstone and flames. Once he got going, I actually realised I'd seem him before, at the Duckie event in Bexhill last year.

Other random observations and findings of the night:
1) Gay vicars tend to be posh and cultured
2) The drinks were bloody expensive
3) I kept seeing people I was sure I recognised but not from Duckie or The Retro
4) I am not the only person who struggles to record digital TV channels
5) Toby looks very different with a beard
6) The cake ran out too soon
7) I got home in time for Footballers' Wives Extra Time
8) I want to go to the Tate's forthcoming Gothic Nightmares exhibition

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

DJ Dogdriller Rides Again !!

Yes folks, for one night (well, evening really...well one hour out of an evening...) I got myself back behind the decks to play some "top choones" to an unsuspecting and not entirely appreciative audience. This took place at Marcus's one-off event Nun Fun Sunday at the Kinky Mambo cocktail bar in Islington.

The aim of the day was partly to celebrate Marcus's birthday, but mainly to raise desperately-needed funds for his show Postcards From God, a comedy-musical about the life of Sister Wendy, the art-critic nun. Apparently he needs £30,000 to put on the show, so he is doing a variety of things over the coming months to try and fill the coffers. Sunday consisted of various cabaret performance throughout the afternoon, followed by DJs (ie myself and three others through the evening).

With it being a school night, unfortunately people started drifting away once the cabaret section had finished, or maybe it was the stuff I was playing causing people to leave in droves ! I don't think the woman who came and asked me for Wham! was quite on the same wavelength as myself (or any of the other DJs for that matter), nor was the rather irritating girlfriend of the useless barman who came and pestered me for far too long (ie more than 1 minute) with questions like "What sort of music is this ?" "What songs have you got that I would like ?" etc, etc. Nevertheless, some people did at least dance and when I had finished and went to get a drink, a gentlemen of a certain age who was propping up the bar thanked me for playing Mott The Hoople.

Here's a selection of my set:
Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch
Mott The Hoople - Roll Away The Stone
Althea And Donna - Uptown Top Ranking
Fox - S-s-s-single Bed
Art Brut - Modern Art
Kate Bush - Sat In Your Lap
The Sweet - Teenage Rampage
Fiery Furnaces - Tropical Ice-Land
Visage - Fade To Grey
Talulah Gosh - Bringing Up Baby
Gang Of Four - Armalite Rifle
The Breeders - Cannonball
Cocteau Twins - Iceblink Luck
Helen Love - Debbie Loves Joey

As an aside, Kinky Mambo is the only venue I've ever been to that has a vending machine selling sex toys. So if you have run out of Lust Fingers, Rod Rings, Ticklers or Love Eggs, this is the place to go.