Blogging, Gay Marriage, Music & Dance, TV & Radio

The Whole Barry Manilow

BarrySince 2015 promises new ventures, adventures and a sequel book, I decided it was high time Perking the Pansies got a face lift. I don’t mean a little nip here, a tiny tuck there, I’m talking the whole Barry Manilow. Not that I’m suggesting the septuagenarian crooner has had any restorative work done at all. Oh no. His recent denial on the Jonathan Ross Show was so convincing (tongue in drum-tightened cheek springs to mind).

I shouldn’t be too hard on old Barry. He comes across as a thoroughly decent chap and, in our image obsessed world, what’s a boy to do? He needn’t fret. Barry’s place in the pop pantheon is assured. He’s made many ladies of a certain age very happy and his fans have remained doggedly loyal. And I defy anyone to keep their shoulders rigid to Copacabana. The camp disco classic was also the name of a seedy dive I used to frequent in Earls Court back in my heyday. Believe me, there were plenty of Lolas at the bar crying over lost love and drinking themselves into oblivion.

Last year, Barry married his long term partner, Garry Kief. Barry and Garry? What fun. Apparently, some people were surprised. But then, some people are stupid. As for Perking the Pansies, it may have a brand new shop window but it’s the same old rubbish inside.

Bars & Restaurants, Family & Friends, Food & Drink, Gay Marriage, Historic Sites, LGBT, Marriage, Visitors

A Life of Poverty and Chastity

The only English example of a beguinage (a community of lay women living a life of poverty and chastity). The pretty thatched-roofed building is now the Briton's Arms Restaurant

A couple of old London reprobates decided to slum it in the shires for the day, joining us for a belated celebration of our wedding anniversary. Happily, the sun also joined us, and we went in search of an al fresco lunch. We found it at the Britons Arms, one of Norwich’s oldest buildings – all thatch, beams and creaky floorboards. Dating back to the Fourteenth Century, the building is reckoned to be the only English example of a medieval ‘beguinage’, a community of lay women living in poverty and chastity – just the place for a quartet of stately old homos to anoint themselves with the Devil’s brew. As I reminded my old mucker, Ian, the only time he was ever chaste was circa 2003 when he shunned the amorous advances of a randy German with a nasty feather-cut who was stalking him along a frosty canal in old Amsterdam. Ah, those were the days.

Converted to an ale house in the Eighteenth Century, the Britons Arms has been a coffee house and restaurant since the early Fifties. The pretty, secluded garden tumbles over the graveyard of nearby St Peter’s Hungate, one of Norwich’s most ancient churches and now a centre for medieval art. Lunch at the Arms was simply divine and the boys kindly picked up the tab. We’re always grateful for the kindness of our well-to-do metrosexual cousins. Especially when the wine bill alone reaches three figures. When the boys headed home to the Smoke the following morning, they were carrying their livers in a Sainsbury’s bag. They’re off to Vienna next month for the Eurovision Song Contest. Not that they’re gay stereotypes or anything. This time, they’ll be flying their livers back from Austria in their hand luggage. Business class, naturally.

Books, Springtime Books, Turkey Street

No Purchase Necessary

To celebrate the launch of Summertime Publishing’s little sister, Springtime Books, we’ve got a few paperbacks to give away on Goodreads, the web’s most influential book site. It’s our way to get the party started. I ask for nothing in return but, if you win, a fair and honest review is always welcome. The authors would be chuffed. Click on the image to find out more and the chance to enter. Best of luck.

Goodreads Giveaways

Books, Social Media, Springtime Books, Writing

Springtime has Sprung

In my last post, I took a meander down memory lane and hinted that change was afoot. Well, my news is that I’m now a publisher, a bone fide purveyor of the written word. No, I haven’t bought out HarperCollins or picked up a Penguin. I’ve gone into partnership with Jo Parfitt, she who is the force of nature behind Summertime Publishing and Jane Dean, a super-talented eagle-eyed editor with a big red pen. The new publishing venture is called Springtime Books, and you’ll see that we have a few books on the books already.

Springtime Books

Summertime Publishing has been the expert in expat books for years. From now on, Summertime will specialise in expatriate families and third culture kids, while Springtime will focus on travel and the expat experience in general. We’ve even got a snazzy little video to promote our new enterprise.

Are you a current or former expat with something fresh to say about expatriate life? If so, it could be your time to shine.

And that’s not all. Today’s also the day Springtime publishes its newest title, Passage of the Stork, Delivering the Soul from the rather wonderful Madeleine Lenagh. Click on the book image to find out more.

Passage 3D

Now, I’d wager you thought that this post was going to be about the weather. You did, didn’t you?

Books, Family & Friends, LGBT, London, Turkey & Turkish, Writing

Evolution

I’ve always worked, even in the loosest sense of the word. When my dear old dad popped his clogs way too early, my mother lost her husband, her livelihood and her home in one fatal blow. I resolved not be a burden and dropped out of sixth form college to get a job. I was seventeen.

My first brush with gainful employment was at a meat importing company near Smithfield Market in the City of London. It was a tedious gig and some days it sent me to sleep – literally. In those days, I was far too fond of sowing my wild oats. My employers were very forgiving but we both knew it wasn’t a marriage made in bovine heaven.

Next up, flogging light bulbs to the rich and famous in Habitat, a trendy home store on London’s infamous King’s Road (well, it was infamous back in the day). Felicity Kendall was always sweet and Lionel Blair was always vile. My partner in crime was an eccentric old Chelsea girl who had the look of Margaret Lockwood and drove a battered Citroen 2CV. As a pretty boy with a wandering eye, I collected phone numbers on credit card slips and tripped the light fantastic. They were the heady days of a deliciously misspent youth: ‘Days on the tills and nights on the tiles…’ as I wrote in Perking the Pansies (that’s my first book by the way. Not a bad read so they say). Eventually, I abandoned the Lighting Department for the counting house and rose to the rank of Chief Cashier. Cooking the books took all of half a day and I soon tired of flicking the abacus and twiddling my thumbs.

A life in the New World beckoned. I threw caution to the wind and boarded a Freddie Laker flight to the good old U.S of A – a one-way ticket to the land of the free and the promiscuous. I planned to stay and wallow but after a few months spreading the love in Washington DC, I became homesick. Before long I was flying back across the Pond to a land being ravaged by rampant Thatcherism. Imagine if I had I stayed the course. I could be a Yankee citizen with an irritating mid-Atlantic accent and a completely different tale to bore you with.

The Iron Lady would have approved of my next position – credit controller at Citibank, trying to extract cash from the cashless. It was a soulless task. As a bleeding-heart liberal, my face was never going to fit and I jumped ship before I went under. Besides, it was time for me to grow up and get a mortgage. I got a proper job with a pension attached at the council. This wasn’t any old council, mind. Oh no, we’re talking the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, a beneficent parish with the richest real estate on the planet and enough reserves to bail out Greece. More through luck than judgement, I crawled up the career ladder and become quite important with a fat budget and a hundred people to boss about. But then I met Liam and he turned my head with dreams of hazy, lazy days in the sun. I was seduced. We liquidated our assets, upped sticks and lived the dream for a time. It was the best thing I ever did, and we did it for as long as we could.

And now we’re back on home turf. Why? Well, you’ll have to read the sequel to find out. We soon looked for ways to pass the long samey days, anything to avoid the empty calories of daytime TV. Quite by chance, Turkey turned me into a writer and new skills bring new opportunities. What are they? Find out more in a day or so…

Blogging, Historic Sites, Turkey & Turkish

Now That’s What I Call Really Old

Göbekli TepeThis blogging lark is a bit of a hit and miss affair. Who knows the right formula to blast a post into orbit and keep it there? Certainly not me. My random musings about the life of a washed-up ex-pretty boy are small fry when compared to the big fish in the overcrowded blogpond. I’m astounded that anyone’s still listening.

At the end of 2011, I published a post about the ancient ruins of Göbekli Tepe in eastern Turkey. Now That’s What I Call Old was a throwaway, humble little post of about seventy words, and hardly did justice to the age and significance of the enigmatic ruins. Little did I know it would be the post that keeps on giving while the archaeologists keep on digging*  – 12,000 hits and rising. One hit for every year of Göbekli Tepe’s estimated existence. There’s a poetic symmetry to that, don’t you think?

*I suspect, for the moment, the trowels have been put away while the murderous chess game is played out just across the border.

Bars & Restaurants, Gay Marriage, Marriage, Norfolk Broads, Norwich

Happy Anniversary, Liam

It’s our wedding anniversary today. Unlike the resurrection of Christ, it’s not a moveable feast. We celebrated our nuptials a day early with a boozy lunch at one of Norwich’s finest eateries followed by a slow pub crawl back to the loft. The food was divine but the delicious highlight was when an elderly Norfolk broad sitting at the adjacent table said loudly to her companions.

‘The same thing happened to me during my colonoscopy.’

wedding rings

Liam slipped his ring on my finger seven years ago. I suppose I ought to have an itch to scratch, but my senses have been so dulled by yesterday’s excess I can’t feel a thing.

BBC, Bigots, Britain, Eurovision, LGBT, Music & Dance, TV & Radio

Sing, Little Birdie

Liam hyperventilated at the prospect of watching Eurovision’s Greatest Hits, an extravaganza beamed across Europe by the BBC  to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the travelling camp fest. I slipped a little something in his Rioja to calm him down. Compered by Graham Norton in his newly acquired hipster whiskers and the posh-frocked Swede, Petra Mede, the show featured some of the contest’s most iconic/dire/fabulous/dreadful (delete according to taste) songs from times past – Brotherhood of Man, Johnny Logan, Lordi, Nicole, Bobby Socks (who?) to name but a few. Sadly, ABBA didn’t reform for the celebration but the BBC did chuck in Riverdance to get the feet tapping (an interval act that was one of the best things to ever emerge from the competition).

Eurovision 2015

Eurovision has come a long way since Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson represented Le Royaume-Uni in 1959 with Sing, Little Birdie. Now we have the transgender Dana International (winner for Israel in 1998) and Conchita Wurst, the bearded lady (winner for Austria 2014) singing a duet holding hands. Way to go, sisters – changing the world one sequin at a time and really pissing off the bigots.