High Camp in a Big Tent

We love a live show and they don’t get more lively than ‘La Voix’, drag queen extraordinaire and a glorious blend of song, sparkle and wit. La Voix belts out the tunes in the best tradition of old-fashioned drag cabaret where the voice and the repartee are just as important as the frocks and the wig.

It was high camp in a big tent – ‘Interlude in the Close’, a big top in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral’s Lower School. La Voix’s old razzle dazzle was part of the wider opening up of the arts across the city, after a very dark time. Even during the Blitz, the theatres stayed open; not so with COVID.

The only downside was travelling back to the village on the last bus with a load of young people who’d been out on the razzle themselves. They were no trouble, but there wasn’t a mask between them. Forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Queer as Folk

I was bullied from the moment I first flounced through the school gates. Nothing physical, you understand. That would be unseemly at a traditional grammar school with a 400-year-old charter granted by the Virgin Queen. Besides, beatings were reserved for the teachers to dish out. I suppose I hardly helped my cause by being a bit lippy and totally rubbish at rugby.

Poofter, bumboy, shirt-lifter, homo, pansy, bender – you name it, I got called it, often accompanied by a teapot impersonation. We all fell about at that one. Kids can be cruel and the cruellest jibe of all was the word ‘queer’. Back in the buttoned-up seventies it was the nasty label of choice – in the playground, on the street, in the pub, in the redtops, on the box, everywhere. I hated it. I still do.

But we’re all queer now, apparently. It’s all queer this, queer that. I get the point, I really do – turning a negative into a positive can be incredibly empowering; just like me perking my pansies. And I can see the convenience of a one-word-fits-all. But who got to decide? Whoever it was didn’t bother to ask me. So just for the record, I’m not queer, I’m gay. God knows I earned that right. End of.

National Treasure

I got my first jab a few weeks back but, being a tad younger than me, Liam had to wait a tad longer for his. He got his first shot in the food court at the Castle Quarter Shopping Centre in Norwich where life-saving injections rather than artery-hardening fried chicken are now on the menu.

Vaccine centres across the realm come in all shapes and sizes but none is more majestic than the soaring Gothic splendour of Westminster Abbey in London. And who better to enter stage right than Norfolk boy Stephen Fry, actor, writer, presenter, everyone’s favourite audiobook narrator and all-round gay good egg. Here he is getting his first jab by Poets’ Corner, final resting place of writers, artists and actors down the ages – Chaucer, Browning, Tennison, Dickens and Olivier, among many others.

It’s a place for national treasures like Stephen Fry.

Turning the Lockdown Blues Pink

This cocktail of winter and lockdown blues gets so boring. Then something comes along to turn the blues to a sunny shade of pink and make me realise that there are worse things in life than being a bit bored.

A virtual performance by The Pink Singers of the 80’s synthpop classic ‘Together in Electric Dreams’. Featuring over 130 LGBT+ singers and musicians from around the world, the second lockdown video from the Pink Singers aims to bring a little bit of queer joy in these challenging times and show that even when people are ‘miles and miles away… love never ends’.

The Pink Singers

Amen to that.

I first saw this winter-warmer on Faceache thanks to the marvellous Annie of Back to Bodrum.

It’s a Sin

So far, February has delivered freezing Russian snow and an icy blast from the past on Channel Four. Storm Darcy brought two-foot snowdrifts, abandoned cars and our resident pheasant pecking about for frozen morsels. But it was Russell T Davies’ AIDS-era drama, ‘It’s a Sin’, that really chilled us to the bone. Brilliant as it is, the series made for tough (though compulsive) viewing especially for those, like me, who survived the worst of times, ducking the Grim Reaper’s scythe by the skin of the teeth. By episode three I was ripping open the wine box to squeeze the last drop from the plastic bag.

Many have binge-watched the series on-demand. That wasn’t for us. There’s not enough wine in the box for that. So we took it as it came, broadcast-wise. Last night’s brutal and uncompromising finale was the bitter pill that had us fighting over the Kleenex. The irony of screening the series during another health crisis was not lost on us. I hear it’s gone down a storm with the current cohort of young gay boys putting it about town, leading to a record uptake in HIV testing. Good job, Russell.