Way to Go, Tom Daley

Our rainbow day came hot on the heels of the opening ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham earlier that week. Eccentric, multicultural and with a distinctly steampunk feel, it was a gloriously quirky start to the games. Check out the amazing pictures from the Guardian.

For me, a spectacular high point of the show was Tom Daley, Olympic champion diver and growing national treasure, carrying the Queen’s baton flanked by gay rights activists each holding the LGBT progress flag high and proud.

Seen by over one billion viewers worldwide, they were there to spotlight the barbaric situation where in over half of Commonwealth countries homosexuality is illegal and also where, in three of them, the maximum penalty is execution. Just think about that for a moment. That’s another good reason why we need pride events.

But now the ‘Friendly Games’ – and they were terrific – are over for another four years, will Tom’s rainbow flag-waving make a lasting difference? We can but hope.

Click the image below to see the footage on the BBC.

Nuns and Nazis

I first watched The Sound of Music in the sixties at the tender age of seven. To see over the heads of the people in front of me, I sat on an upturned seat. Not that I saw that much anyway. I nodded off halfway through and didn’t wake up ‘til Dame Julie and co were heading for the hills.

Even though the film eventually became a Christmas staple on TV, I never actually sat through it. All I knew was that it was a tale of good versus evil with singalong tunes. And then the BBC exposed the truth about the von Trapps in a 2013 warts-and-all documentary. It turned out our heroes didn’t climb any mountain or ford any stream to escape the clutches of the nasty Nazis. No, they caught the 5.30 express to Italy. It was a bitter blow.

To restore my faith in the fairy tale, I jumped at the chance to see a new production at Norwich’s Theatre Royal by the Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society. They’re amateur thesps but they always put on a good show.

As we necked our interval gins, I asked Liam,

So, when does the cute blond sing ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me?’

That’s from Cabaret.

Oh.

Seems I was mixing up my Nazis.

Overall, the production was charming, with some really sweet moments. Nuns and Nazis, what’s not to like? For us, the stand-out performance was from Sara Cubitt as the Mother Abbess. ‘Climb Every Mountain’ is a tough song to sing, and we held our breath as she warbled towards that devilishly difficult final note. Did she hit it? Oh yes. 

In Step with Modern Britain

With all the endless doom and gloom swilling around us, it’s easy to forget just how far we’ve come. It says something incredibly powerful about our society when the three finalists of Strictly Come Dancing – the most popular show on British TV – were a black woman, a deaf actor and a same-sex couple, as voted for by the viewers. As critic Barbara Ellen put it in her Guardian review:

“A ground-breaking Strictly final in step with modern Britain.”

“… Strictly, and the BBC, at its best: everyone welcome, and everything all the better for it.”

Hot on the heels of Strictly came the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, also a public vote. It was won by the child of Chinese-Romanian immigrants with a gay diver bringing up the rear in second place.

And then came the out-of-the-blue and very public marriage proposal on the stage of Norwich’s splendid Theatre Royal at the end of their Christmas panto production of Dick Whittington. When Joe popped the question, the kids went wild. Just as well Luke said yes!

Watch it on Facebook. Congratulations boys.

Strike A POSE

We love ‘POSE’ – a must-watch on the telly box. The first two series were compulsive viewing and pioneering in the heart-warming but warts-and-all portrayal of the LGBT drag ball scene of 80s and 90s New York. Gritty, witty and fabulous, the edgy drama pulled no punches. Life on the margins was rough and tumble and then AIDS joined the party to make it deadly. The cast of largely unknowns delivered a sparkling script with conviction and passion. It’s no surprise that POSE has been lavished with critical acclaim and showered with gongs and globes.

We could hardly wait for the third and final season on the BBC. It had already aired in the US – again to universal praise – so we were on the edge of our seats with anticipation. Tragically, it didn’t start well. The clunky plot of the opening episodes seemed like it had been chucked together by committee using keywords. Usually we don’t have a problem with Yankee accents but during one particular mumbling scene we had to switch on the subtitles. Touches of former brilliance did emerge mid-series but the saccharine pep talks about lurv just went on and on. The hard edge was lost. We still lurv POSE but the romance has sadly cooled.

Putting on the Ritz

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.