The Eagle Has Landed

The Eagle Has Landed

It was last knockings for Eddie the Eagle as we took our plush seats at Cinema City. The film’s been out for a while and we were two of four in the audience. For those unfamiliar with the story, the film chronicles the flight of Michael ‘Eddie’ Edwards who battled against considerable adversity and mean-minded ridicule to compete for Britain as a ski jumper at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. He was the first British competitor in the sport for six decades – hardly surprising given they don’t get much snow in Cheltenham where he grew up. The stuffed shirts of the Olympic establishment loathed him and did their very best to knock him off piste. But the crowd loved the plucky little fella with his jam jar glasses, silly tash and aquiline antics. Everyone likes a trier and try he did. Eddie may not have kept his eyes shut as he chucked himself off the 90 metre ramp, but I did. He came last in both his events. It didn’t matter. A star (or sorts) was born.

Taron Egerton

I suspect the movie stretched the facts a tad but I was hooked right from the opening scenes as the little boy in callipers dreamed of Olympic glory and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Sheer joy.

They Think It’s All Over

Come on EnglandA young inexperienced England Team crashes out of the 2014 World Cup, Mexican and Brazilian fans chant homophobic abuse, Croatian and Russian fans unfurl neo-Nazi banners and finger-licking FIFA are mired in accusations of palm-greasing over the staging of the 2022 competition in Qatar, a filthy rich absolute monarchy with no football tradition and summertime temperatures in the withering forties. And so, it’s business as usual for the beautiful game. Timely then, to re-post my 2012 piece from a happier time for British sport, Rainbow Sporting Heroes…

Rainbow Sporting Heroes

Gareth Thomas and Perking the Pansies

As Olympic fever goes into hyperdrive, I was thinking about homophobia in sport, particularly the beautiful game. Even though the likes of David Beckham are in touch with their feminine side and Eric Cantona is prone to writing a poetic line or two, there are no fairies in top flight football, apparently. Why is this, I wonder? Even rugby, the butchest of sports, has the wonderful Gareth Thomas quietly waving his rainbow flag. There was Justin Fashanu a few years back, of course, but his revelation led to excommunication by the soccer establishment, misery and his eventual suicide. It was a shameful episode. More…

 

Tom Daley: Something I Want to Say

tom-daley-speedo

Yesterday, the British champion diver, Tom Daley, posted a simple video message on YouTube to tell the world that he was in a relationship with a man and that he was very happy. Tom was a poster boy for the Olympic Team. His buff, pool-trained torso (naked save for the tiniest and tightest Speedos) was plastered everywhere. Even at the tender age of 19, Tom is clearly well aware of his image and public persona. In our celebrity-obsessed world, I assume that he hopes this will sustain him long after the diving career has dried up. I hope so too. I also assume that this very public confession was his own idea. It was brave but was it also foolish? If his agent/manager/PR team had known in advance, I have no doubt they would have cautioned him against it. The revelation has unleashed a tidal wave of poison from the tweeting pond life. This was to be expected. Personally, I applaud his candour and rather think that his popularity will be enhanced by it.  His disclosure sends out a message of hope to young people everywhere that it’s ok to be gay. And for this, Tom deserves a pot of gold medals.

Tom Daley in his own words…

Norwich Pride 2013

Norwich Pride 2013

The marching season continues (no, I don’t mean the archaic and nose-rubbing Orange Day parades). Following a whole week of rather special events (including my very own display at the Pride Without Prejudice Art Exhibition), tomorrow is Norwich Pride day, a gift from the LGBT community to all and sundry. We missed it last year. Something else got in the way. Now, what was it? Oh, yes, watching the opening ceremony of the London Olympics from a balcony overlooking the stadium. We were torn, but the once-in-a-lifetime event won the day, I’m afraid. This year we are fully committed to the pink party. In fact, I’m going to be co-hosting the outside broadcast of Pride Live on Future Radio with the fabulous Di Cunningham from the epicentre of the knees-up on Millennium Plain, itself the epicentre of community life in the city. I’m not quite sure what to expect other than that it’ll be a scream and I’ll be the one doing the screaming. I think Di intends to wind me up and let me loose into the rainbow crowd to hunt down colourful victims to interview. Tune in on 107.8 FM (or online) and listen to me make a total prat of myself because I won’t know what’s coming up and I won’t have rehearsed my lines. Oh, sod it, who cares? It’s all in a worthy cause. Whoever you are, why not pop along and parade with pride?

James Dowdall, RIP

Jim Dowdall
James Dowdall, Torch Bearer
Image courtesy of Robert Hayes

It’s curious how extended families, so close in childhood days, can grow slowly apart as children age and move on. I guess it’s related to our modern existence of social mobility, dispersal and transience. My own family is a case in point. When I was growing up, my mother and her siblings were very chummy and we spent much of our time squatting in each other’s houses even when we lived in different parts of the country. An effort was made, the bond was important. But, imperceptibly, the bond gradually eroded, finally snapping when nobody was looking. These days, only funerals bring the clan together (weddings and christenings are as rare as ginger nuns in my largely heathen tribe).

Last week I attended the funeral of my Uncle James. He was 87. The Grim Reaper called at night and Jim died quietly in his sleep. The funeral service was nose to nipple (clearly, dying young isn’t the only way to get a healthy crowd in for a send-off). Late-comers were forced to stand at the back.

There were many things I knew about my uncle. I knew that after his wife (and my favourite aunt), Ruth died and, following a minor stroke, Jim found physical and emotional recovery through fitness and jogging. I also knew that he first completed the London Marathon when he was 73. I didn’t know that Jim went on to complete 8 marathons in all and raise £16,000 for a local cancer charity in the process. I didn’t know that he was given a Local Hero Award, an MBE and selected to carry the 2012 Olympic Torch when it went on national tour last year. Uncle Jim enjoyed a star-spangled dotage. This is a grand lesson to us all.

I also didn’t know how to knot my black tie. After a five year absence from the wicked world of the waged, I’d simply forgotten. This doesn’t auger well for my own dotage.

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The Cream of the Crop 2012

The Cream of the Crop 2012

top 10 It’s the turn of a new year, a time to reflect on the recent past. And what a hectic time it’s been for these old two old drunken reprobates. Four years ago, we jumped the good ship Blighty and swam ashore to paradise in search of a dotty dotage of gin and tranquility  We found a paradise of sorts and so much more besides. Three years into our choppy voyage, I found a little fame and notoriety, and a new course was set – as an accidental author. 2012 brought change: a rudder slammed into reverse and a return to our damp little island perched on the edge of Europe. So, in the best tradition of the year’s end, I give you the most popular Pansy posts of 2012.

1. Now That’s What I call Old

Who would have guessed that a lazy, throwaway post about the 12,000 year old ruins at Göbekli Tepe in Eastern Turkey would hit the top spot? Although it was published in 2011, like Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell*, it never left the charts. In fact, it’s my most popular piece ever, racking up 7,500 hits to date.

2. Expat Glossary

Another perennial favourite. Technically, it’s a page not a post nowadays (though it started off as a post many moons ago). Oft quoted and copied, it’s a tongue in cheek attempt to classify the vintage villagers of expatland. It continues to strike a chord.

3. Goodbye to the Turkish Living Forum

The closest I came to an unseemly slanging match – I queered my pitch with the Turkish Living Forum (or, more accurately, they queered their pitch with me). I stopped the vile conversation in mid-sentence. I can do that. It’s my blog. It gladdens my little homo heart that this post continues to attract punters. If I’ve put just one potential member off the bigoted posts, then my work is done. It’s a shame. Most contributors to the forum seem sane and reasonable. It’s a good idea ruined by the vicious and vocal few.

4. Britain’s Got Loads of Talent

I’m a sucker for a sob story and Britain’s Got Talent is stuffed to the rafters with them.  A genuine attempt to discover the best (and worst) amateur talent that Blighty has to offer, or a cynical commercial exercise in crass over-sentimentality? Probably both and so what? This year a dog won. No, a real dog, not an ugly person.

5. No Going Back on Going Back

A slip of the wrist and the cat was out of the bag. A premature posting meant that I announced our repatriation much earlier than I had intended and readers tuned in to read the news.

6. Zenne Dancer

A post about a ground-breaking and award-drenched Turkish film, inspired by the true story of a Kurdish student who was gunned down by his own father for being openly and unrepentantly gay. It still hasn’t been released with subtitles so I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t seen it.

7. Fifty Shades of Gay

I wrote this post to celebrate and support the launch of Rainbowbookreviews, a brand new LGBT book review website. As part of the party, Perking the Pansies, Jack and Liam move to Turkey was offered as a competition prize. What some people will do for a freebie.

8. The Friendly Games

This was my naughty but nice take on the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. The BBC did a grand job in televising the once-in-a-lifetime event – online, on radio and on TV. Liam had all three on simultaneously. For a brief period, the nation forgot its woes and smiled again. The mother lode of precious metal helped.

9. Bodrum’s Crusader Castle

Towards the end of our time in Turkey, I thought it was high time to give the pansy treatment to the grand centrepiece of the Bodrum townscape – a little bit of history (not too much) and a little bit of humour. It’s a popular cocktail.

10. Gran Canaria, Sex Emporium

Our first ‘proper’ holiday for four years and we chose Gran Canaria, that rocky mid-Atlantic brothel. You can take the boy out of the back room but you can’t take the back room out of the boy.

I leave you with my favourite image from 2012. I know, it’s all a bit predictable but I’m turning into a dirty old man and I intend to wallow in it. Happy New Year everyone and thank you for enduring my camp old nonsense for yet another year.

Olympics1

*Bat Out of Hell stayed on the UK album chart for 474 weeks. God knows why. 

A Very British Olympics

A Very British Olympics

We Brits love to wallow in glorious failure. It’s almost a national fetish. We relish the underdog fighting against insurmountable odds – remember Eddie the Eagle and the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team (not to mention Dunkirk)? This time we had a runaway success on our hands and it crept up behind us like a batty boy in a back room, confounding the doubters and crowned with a bulging bag of bling. Blighty has been in a foul mood for years and, for a brief moment, people have something to smile about. For me, it was the Paralympics that defined the true spirit of the Games – from mad dash to Mad Max, fire to phoenix, high fliers to high wires, gold-play to Coldplay – the very best of humanity tainted only by the very worst of Channel 4 coverage. Keenly covered at home, not so keenly covered abroad, some of our friends across the seas should hang their heads in shame. The Americans televised only limited highlights (despite the presence of a large and impressive American Team) and my former foster home, Turkey, decided to screen a soccer match instead of the opening ceremony. Tonight saw a joyous and very British closing show received by a wall of noise. It was a triumph – a triumph made in Britain.

Photo: Ian Kington/AFP

Now that the big top has come down and the circus is leaving town for Brazil, what next? Will the park become a weedy white elephant like so many of the past? Will the colossal cost deepen the double dip as the bills drop on the mat? There’s a chance, a good chance, that the legacy will endure. The park itself is small and perfectly formed (a bit like me), the velodrome was going to be built anyway and the aquatics centre will replace the aging National Sports Centre pools at Crystal Palace. I used to train there when, for a short while before I discovered hormones, I was a promising young diver. It was a bugger to get to. As for the Olympic Stadium itself, it’s a great fit for big-ticket concerts by big-wig stars. It’s already booked for the 2017 World Athletic Championships and we may yet see Hammers’ fans screaming from the terraces. Transport links in that part of town have been completely transformed and the Olympic Village will provide quality affordable housing for one of the most deprived areas of the country. Remember the Millennium Dome (itself a 2012 venue)? Who would have thought back in 2001 that it would emerge as one of the most successful music venues in the world as the O2? Few facilities were specifically built for the Games and some were designed to be temporary. One or two may even get packed up and shipped off to Rio for 2016. Now, here’s a thought. Perhaps the IOC should commission IKEA to design the travelling flat pack games. Now where did I put that allen key?

See the best of the Games. You’ll have to click into You Tube to watch the video.

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