Downtown

Downtown

Petula ClarkUnlike many of the stately old homos of my generation, I never quite developed a taste for the torch-song trilogy of Garland, Minnelli or Bassey. And I can take or leave the new old girls on the block – the fallen Madonna, nip and tuck Cher or crazy Diana (Ross not Spencer). But, my spot is very soft for a classy dame from Surrey, a woman who first hit the streets in the year war broke out. Then, she was performing with an orchestra in the entrance hall of a Kingston-upon-Thames department store for a tin of toffee and a gold wristwatch. She was seven. Seventy four years on, she is still going strong and is currently on national tour. I am, of course, referring to the iridescent and timeless Petula Clark – child protégé, forces favourite, Hollywood starlet, Sixties pop princess, chanteuse Française and West End superstar.

Autumn was fashionably late this year but made quite an entrance when it did eventually arrive. We were battered by brolly-snapping weather as we wandered the windy streets of Ipswich in search of the Regent Theatre, East Anglia’s largest.  We had a stiff double at the bar while we dried off. The drench did nothing to dampen our spirits and as we took our third row seats in the auditorium, the crowd buzzed with anticipation. Miss Clark has been treading the boards for a very long time and this was no better illustrated than by the giddy silver-haired fans who surrounded us. Every care home in Suffolk must have been drained that night. I swear I spotted a St John’s Ambulance crew on standby just in case the excitement got too much; mercifully, we were spared a medical emergency. Still, our Pet raised the blood pressure with a superb performance, giving those X Factor wannabees, a fraction of her age and a fraction of her talent a marathon for their money. From Gershwin to Lennon via Elvis and Gharls Barkley, Miss Clark stepped through her set with style, humour and remarkable agility. Naturally, ‘Downtown’ got the biggest cheer but, for me, it was ‘I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love’ that got me all dewy-eyed. You see, I’d chosen it as the soundtrack to the champagne reception at our Civil Partnership (“Ah,” I hear to cry in unison).

Come the finale of the two-hour gig, the wrinkly congregation got to their feet for the much-deserved standing ovation (though, in truth, it was more of a slow stagger than a youthful leap). Even a wheelchair-bound man in a turban found his legs, Twas a miracle from the lady who famously played Maria Von Trapp’s favourite singing nun. Hallelujah, sister.

Get your hankies ready…

Warts and All

WitchI noticed a little growth on my head beneath my slowly receding hairline. An ugly little lumpy bump popped up without warning. I didn’t know what it was. Best get it checked out, I thought. A childhood spent splashing  around in the tropical sun fleeing leeches as an army brat and four years under Anatolian skies squashing mozzies as a lotus eater and I could well be asking for trouble. My fierce (her word) German GP didn’t know what it was either. “Best get it checked out,” she barked and sent me off to a dermatologist. He didn’t know what it was. “Best get it sliced off,” he said. Four blue stitches, a neat little scar and a lab report later, it was just a wart. Not the viral kind of my carefree childhood days but the worry warts of my impending dotage. Wisdom warts Frau Doktor calls them. Witch’s warts I call them. I’ve already got a thicket sprouting from my nose, silver short and curlies and unregulated wind. What next? Gout?

It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum

It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum

Overwhelmingly, most pansyfans hail from Britain, Turkey or the States so you can imagine my delight when I noticed that someone from Malaysia was pushing the numbers up by having a good old root around the blog – 334 posts and rising. In the late Sixties, I spent nearly three years in Malaysia as a young army brat on a base just outside Malacca. My memories of life in the tropical sun are vivid and glorious. In fact, both my sisters were born in the country (at different times – my sergeant major father was posted there twice). I hope to pop back one day, as my eldest brother has done. So, whoever you are my Malaysian friend, I thank you. You’ve provided the perfect excuse to fish out some ancient time-worn snaps and take a skip down memory lane.

Roving Jay

Roving Jay

Santa sent me a bumper prize this year: globe-trotting local lass Roving Jay paid me a whistle-stop visit. Jay currently lives in Los Angeles but grew up in the flatlands and big skies of East Anglia – she’s a Norfolk broad at heart. She parachuted in from La-la-land to spend Christmas with family but took precious time away from the rellies to join me for a natter over an Americano. Dedicated Turkophile, Jay, owns a house near glorious Gümüslük, on the Bodrum Peninsula. Readers may be familiar with her own blog, Roving Jay and her website, the Bodrum Peninsula Travel Guide.  Jay has been a faithful pansyfan from the beginning and very kindly wrote a stunning review of Perking the Pansies, Jack and Liam move to Turkey when it was first released. I have to say, it made me blush (really) and I shall be forever in her debt. Because of the vagaries of the rural bus schedule in these parts, we only got to chew the cud for a couple of hours and didn’t get around to hitting the sauce.  We still managed to pack a lot into the chat. Meeting cyber friends in the real world can be a nerve-shredding experience and I was a tad anxious. I needn’t have worried. Jay was a delightful coffee companion. Anatolia aside, it turned out we have a lot in common – for a start, we were both forces brats of more or less the same generation (though Jay is younger and so much prettier).

This spring, Jay is publishing her first guidebook, just in time for the summer scrum. It’s Jay’s unique take on the Bodrum Peninsula. Unlike so many guidebooks these days, it’s a first-hand account and covers the small corner of Turkey that Jay intends to call home one day. The book is stuffed with must-sees and must-dos and is a literary and factual treat. For more information click here. Very highly recommended.

Going Once, Going Twice…

Earlier today I suffered from a premature slip of the wrist and mucked up the publication of Going Once, Going Twice. So, I’m re-blogging the post. Please ignore this if you’ve already seen it. Apologies from knackered of Norwich.

Perking the Pansies

The National League of POW/MIA Families is an American organisation incorporated in 1970 to obtain the release of all prisoners, establish the fullest possible account for the missing and secure the repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died during the Vietnam War. Each year there is a fundraising event in Washington DC. I was recently contacted by a member of the League asking if I would donate a signed copy of Perking the Pansies to be auctioned off to help raise some cash. I have to admit that I was surprised and not a little intrigued. How did a book about a couple of old homos living in a faraway Muslim land (and written in a peculiarly British carry-on style) come to the attention of a Yankee society with serious business on its mind? I was told that someone specifically requested it. Good enough for me I thought…

View original post 19 more words

Going Once, Going Twice…

Going Once, Going Twice…

The National League of POW/MIA Families is an American organisation incorporated in 1970 to obtain the release of all prisoners, establish the fullest possible account for the missing and secure the repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died during the Vietnam War. Each year there is a fundraising event in Washington DC. I was recently contacted by a member of the League asking if I would donate a signed copy of Perking the Pansies to be auctioned off to help raise some cash. I have to admit that I was surprised and not a little intrigued. How did a book about a couple of old homos living in a faraway Muslim land (and written in a peculiarly British carry-on style) come to the attention of a Yankee society with serious business on its mind? I was told that someone specifically requested it. Good enough for me I thought and off it went in the post. Let’s hope the book raises a couple of bucks for the cause.

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines

To rescue me from a life of drudgery and chores, delicious vetpat Vicky invited me to brunch at Musto’s Restaurant, our favourite Bodrum eatery. We were joined by a retired thespian and impresario (who shall remain nameless to save his blushes) and his Turkish partner. They’d jetted down from Istanbul for the weekend. We took our ringside seats to watch the spills and thrills of the Turkish Air Force Aerobatics Team – the Turkish Stars – who performed their madcap supersonic routine above our heads. The low-rise, high-octane precision performance was loud and fabulous. The ear-splitting gig wasn’t entirely a surprise since the boys with their toys had spent a few days practising beforehand – clipping mobile phone masts and setting off car alarms. Catching a snap proved difficult as the magnificent men in their flying machines criss-crossed the firmament. The romantic finale was a hazy heart etched into the sky, a fitting tribute to the Istanbul lovers. After feasting on a delicious Turkish breakfast banquet that just kept on coming, we spent the sunny afternoon chatting and drinking in the magical stories of a thesp’s days treading the boards. Perfect.

Pictures courtesy of the Bodrum Bulletin

You might also like:

Ringing the Belles

Icing and Slicing