On the 19th March 2014, same-sex marriage was legalised in England and Wales. But for those in a civil partnership, converting their union to a marriage wasn’t legally possible until today. The wheels of State turn ever so slowly and I think someone forgot to order the right stamp. Liam and I got hitched in 2008. We treated it like our wedding and splashed out on a once in a lifetime full production number with our nearest and dearest. Everyone had a splendid time (naturally, the free bar helped). Here’s a few snaps of that momentous day.
Mr & Mr
My Mum and Her Youngest Grandkids
Smile for the Camera
Youngest and Eldest Sibling
On the Buses
The Top Table
Tulips from Waterloo
Kisses for My Mother
The Drunken Spouses
Happy Anniversary, Liam
Legally, we were civil partners, something that sounded like a firm of solicitors. But whatever the Law said, we always thought of ourselves as married. Now mind and state have converged. Today, on the first day possible, Liam made an honest man of me and me of him by legally converting our union at Norwich Register Office. We didn’t bang a gong beforehand or make a big song and dance out of it. There were no generous presents, smart suits, free-flowing bubbly or tearful speeches; just the same old shoes and an impromptu meal with a couple of old muckers. We’ve already had the big day. There’s no need to do that all over again. That would be greedy. We weren’t the very first to convert. Two other north folk of Norfolk beat us to the chequered flag. But a bronze medal suits us just fine.
Over the cold winter on the sofa nights, ITV, Britain’s main commercial broadcaster, ran a documentary series featuring the activities of the City of Westminster’s Register Office where births, deaths and marriages are recorded. It was a distracting little show, a funny and touching fly-on-the-wall human interest fest for a chilly midwinter’s evening that helped the digestion and wasn’t too taxing on the brain. There is something rather dignified and valiant about the ordinary people – the hatch, match and dispatch squad – who deal daily with the relentless cycle of life that we must all face and the relentless cycle of emotion that goes with it. Veteran registrar of 28 years, Patricia Gordon, confessed that she was none too comfortable with the notion of civil partnerships. But, through friendship and by example, fellow registrar Tommy helped her see the light; now she can’t wait for him to find his own soul mate so she can do the honours. And guess what? Patricia officiated at our Civil Partnership in 2008. Here is she doing the business:
Just after Liam left for work, I rolled out of bed, staggered down the treacherous winding stairs of the old Weaver’s Cottage and wandered into the kitchen to make my morning cuppa. I flicked on the kettle and opened the fridge to retrieve the milk, only to find this little note taped to the carton:
Perking the Pansies recovered from a difficult birth at the murderous hands of the Turkish censors, thrived through the terrible twos and survived the transitional threes, ending the year with 60,000 hits for the last twelve months. Thank you to everyone and anyone who’s passed by and glanced at my random witterings. Most blogs burn out after two years so I must be living on borrowed time.
As the sun sets on 2013, in the best Hogmanay tradition, I give you the year’s top ten – a pick ‘n’mix treat of bum cleavage, Turks at the barricades, a shot in the arm, a tender coming out story, a sexy rugger bugger, a book to send you to sleep, an old-time boozer, an olive tree planted in a foreign field and a scratched itch.
Image courtesy of Occupy Gezi on Facebook.
One for the Ladies
The Art of Blogging at St Margaret’s Church of Art
And what of 2014? All I know is that The Sisterhood, Jack and Liam’s Turkish Affair will be out early in the year. Will it be as successful as the first one? Who knows? Not me. Whatever happens, come rain or shine, a happy and prosperous year to all my pansy fans. Thank you for staying the course and for your remarkable support. I’m touched but then, I have been for years.
Unlike 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.
The sun shone, the bride and bride kissed, the pansexual crowd whooped, the fizz popped and the waters trickled by in approval. After the nuptials in Islington, the wedding party was delivered via double decker to Blackfriars Pier where we joined them, all suited and booted (well, I’ve got to get some wear out of the two piece I bought for the funeral of my celebrated uncle). What started as a boozy cruise down Old Father Thames ended with a slow smooch on a riverside dancefloor and two very happy ladies. Liam caught up with old colleagues from his waged days and I got to flirt with a bone fide fire fighter. The hettie-man didn’t seem to mind any of my obvious batty-man gags about sliding down his greasy pole and playing with his enormous hose. The running buffet, bottomless barrel and limitless goodwill helped ensure our first lesbian wedding was a rip roaring success. We felt honoured to witness it.
The only blot on the landscape was our uncomfortable room at the Comfort Inn, Vauxhall, with its thin duvets, wonky fittings and tiny shower cupboard with a loo barely big enough for a five year old. Still, we were three sheets to the wind thanks to our generous hosts so we hardly noticed.
The wedding album isn’t out yet so here’s the view from the pier at the Westminster Boating Base in Pimlico where the reception was held. Liam said I scrubbed up rather well and who am I to argue?
Last month, John, my eldest brother and his missus came to visit. He’s the eldest of five and would be the first to admit that when I trampolined out of the closet at the tender age of 16, he was none too pleased. In those far-flung days, only the likes of sexually ambivalent Larry Grayson, Kenneth Williams and John Inman were in the public consciousness and they all kept a foot firmly in the closet door. Most people thought all queers were predatory child abusers recruiting for the cause (some pond life still does, of course). Ironic, now that the Jimmy Savile scandal from that very era has now hit the fan. As the years rolled by, my brother’s views mellowed and moderated. I see his altered image as a metaphor for society as a whole. On the evening of our 5th wedding anniversary, John and his wife treated us to a slap-up meal at Jamie’s Italian. Thanks bro!