Imagine the absurdity of two openly gay, married, middle aged, middle class men escaping the liberal sanctuary of anonymous London to relocate to a Muslim country. I chronicled our exploits with the mad, the bad, the sad and the glad in a blog for the whole world to ignore. Then came the book which became a critically acclaimed best seller. Its success opened out a whole new career for me, firstly as an author, and now as a publisher. Who'd have thought it? Certainly not me.
In June 2012, we ended our Anatolian affair and paddled back to Britain on the evening tide, washing up in Norwich, a surprising city in eastern England, then to the wilds of Norfolk as the only gays in the village. I’m sometimes nostalgic for our encounters with the hopeless, the hapless and, yes, the happy go lucky. They gave me an unexpected tale to tell and for this I thank them.
As further confirmation of my inevitable slide towards the slab, a bowel cancer screening test kit dropped on the mat – part of the national programme to regularly screen everyone over 55. It was back in 2016 that I endured the pain in the arse procedure at our local hospital. Five years on and the quacks are back for a second poke around. This time, though, it doesn’t involve a rear view camera, just a stick and a bottle.
As we all know, the NHS is under unbelievable pressure right now due to the pandemic knocking it for six. But it’s not quite ‘all out’ yet. I, for one, remain eternally grateful that my own health is in such capable, dedicated hands. Thank you!
Brisk walks are the best way to burn off all those festive calories, especially during lockdown when keep fit options are limited. Timing is everything at this time of year. The distant sun is low on the horizon and, at its height, peeps only briefly above the tree line. A midday stroll is best, crunching through the frost, bubble-wrapped against the winds that blow across the East Anglian flatlands. Then it’s back to the cottage to put all those calories back on again.
I know it can be tough on pets and those of a nervous disposition but I do love a pyrotechnic extravaganza, especially at New Year – all that sound and fury signifying nothing but the turning of time. When London was home, I’d jump on the Tube to enjoy the spectacle from the banks of Old Father Thames along with tens of thousands of other revellers. These days I’m content to watch from the comfort of a warm sofa, glass of bubbly in hand.
For obvious reasons, we assumed the fireworks would be off this year. But the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had other ideas. Without plug or promotion, sneaky Sadiq gave us the old razzle dazzle to cheer us up. The theatres may all be dark right now but London can still put on a show.
Come the stroke of midnight we’ll warm the last of the mince pies on the top of the wood burner and pop open the fizz, not to see in the new year but to make damn sure the old one leaves. Let’s hope 2021 brings a return to normality and I can symbolically remove the mask from the knitted doll given to us by an old friend. Goodbye and good riddance to the lost year.