Cops and Robbers

The deluge of GDPR emails has finally dried up, thank the Lord. For the uninitiated, GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation 2018. It’s the latest wheeze from the European Union intended to strengthen the law about the collection, privacy, security and retention of personal data. The new rules are fairly straightforward, if a little OTT – like so much that comes out of Brussels. I’m all for protecting the little person from the exploitation of corporate bigwigs but I can’t help thinking the reputable will comply, the disreputable won’t bother and those squeezed in the middle will be bewildered – think brown owl trying to chivvy up the girl guides or some poor sod juggling the mailing list of a local am-dram society. I doubt it will stop nuisance calls from India or spam emails from God knows where. A case in point was the mailshot that recently dropped into my inbox from a US company. They were trying to flog me such must-have products as a concealed ankle holster perfect for a sneaky armed robbery, a decorative bracelet knife because Saturday night’s alright for fighting and a magnetised holder for the loaded pistol I keep under the sink next to the Fairy Liquid (that’s a joke, obviously). Every trailer should have one. Did I subscribe to this crap? Nope. Did I unsubscribe straightaway? Yep. Will it make the slightest bit of difference? Not a chance.

If you like to see my own half-cocked GDPR kinda-compliant privacy thingy, you can see it here. Happy reading.

Some EnchanTIN Evening

Some EnchanTIN Evening

As some people on Faceache already know, last week was a double anniversary for me and him indoors – 12 years since we first met and 10 years hitched. Thank you for all the warm and generous words.

We met in Halfway to Heaven and I’m still waiting to go all the way.

It’s an old joke and I tell it every year to groans from Liam.

Liam slipped his ring on my finger two years later. It’s been stuck there ever since.

We ‘formed’ a civil partnership, which always sounded like a firm of solicitors to me. We called it ‘a bit of a do’ and invited our nearest and dearest to the party. Six years later, same sex marriage was legalised and we upgraded to equality class as soon as we were able. Due to a bit of legal hocus pocus, our civil partnership was struck from the record like it never existed and replaced by our marriage.

Expelliarmus!

On the day of our anniversary – our tin anniversary according to tradition – we decided on some posh lunchtime nosh followed by a mini pub-crawl. A meal at Bishop’s had been on our bucket list for a while and we weren’t disappointed. It was divine. The fancy gin aperitif was a great starter. Then we hit the bars.

We didn’t actually sup in all of these establishments, just selected the best from the menu as we meandered round town. Nevertheless, we were a tad tipsy by the time we fell into bed. Pity poor Liam who had work the next day.

Next month, Liam’s planned an anniversary tour of the Smoke to relive that fateful moment when our eyes first met across a crowded bar of after-work desperados.

Maybe this time we will go all the way.

My Brokeback Mountain Moment

My Brokeback Mountain Moment

Recently, I received a solicitous email from an ‘admirer’ who wrote:

You look nice and charming, to be honest, I can’t pass your page without saying HELLO to such a gorgeous person like you. I am really very sorry if my message upsets you, but i just can’t stop looking at your profile on Facebook.

My name is XXXX, I am from Callaghan, Texas, USA, I live in IOWA city, not that far from City center, i am gay and what about you?

Usually this kind of thing comes to me via Facebook. And most contacts are from young ladies who haven’t checked my profile despite it virtually screaming ‘poofter’ at them. Delete and block.

As this was an email, curiosity got the better of me and I Googled Callaghan, Texas. According to Wikipedia, it’s a small ranching community near the Mexican border. Images of strapping cowboys flooded my mind – sweaty chaps in chaps, saddle-sore after a hard ride and in need of a good rub down. It was my Brokeback Mountain moment.

I’m not daft. I know the message was either from a scammer or some Third World likely lad trying to climb out of poverty. And who can blame him? Whoever he is, he brought some brightness to a dull day. Sadly for him, I’m not in the market for a new model nor am I sugar daddy material. I just don’t have the ‘handbag’ for it as they used to say in Polari. My adoring ‘Texan’ was consigned to spam. Sad face.

It’s All Double Dutch to Me

It’s All Double Dutch to Me

A couple of weeks ago I popped over to the low land of dykes, bikes, canals, tall thin blonds and tall thin buildings. I’ve been to old Amsterdam many, many times before. Back in the day, Amsterdam was a blesséd escape from finger-wagging, buttoned-up Britain, and a place where I could feel totally free. I won’t regale you with ripe tales of how I expressed that freedom – this is a family show, after all. Needless to say, it rarely involved a cultural troll round the marvellous galleries of the Rijks Museum.

Here’s an ancient image of me in the naughty Nineties on one of my gayfests.

scan0047

I’m standing on the Homomonument, a memorial to those persecuted for their sexuality. Opened in 1987, the monument takes the form of a large pink triangle jutting out into the Keizersgracht canal. It’s a potent symbol: the pink triangle was the badge of shame gay men were forced to wear in the Nazi concentration camps during World War Two. And we all know what happened in those places.

This time I was there on business. I was attending the 2016 Families in Global Transition Conference (#FIGT16NL), a gig that brought together people from far flung corners, all concerned with issues affecting global families. The current refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East added an extra layer of complexity to this year’s august jamboree.

Why me? You may well ask. I’m neither an expat, nor a family in transition (not anymore anyway). In fact, I was there as part of my work with Summertime Publishing and Springtime Books, specialists in expat titles. And I was asked to lead a social media workshop for writers. It was a bit of a hit, I’m told. I even got to sell signed copies of my books in the FIGT bookshop – and was more than chuffed when they flew off the shelves and soon sold out. Clearly some people like a dash of camp with their esoteric.

Here’s me flapping my hands about in the social media workshop.

FIGT Workshop

And me on the right grinning inanely in the bookshop.

FIGT Bookshop

After a hectic few days navigating through the talkers, walkers, cars, trams and manic cyclists on a mission coming at me from every which way, I landed back at Norwich Airport at ten to nine in the evening. I was home with a large glass of Pinot in hand twenty minutes later. Now that’s the way to travel.

If you’d like to know more about Families in Global Transition and their valuable work, check out their website. In the meantime, here are some pretty pictures I took of the pretty city.

The conference pictures are courtesy of FIGT.

Mr Grumpy

Mr Grumpy

It was my birthday recently. I reached the grand old age of 55. I now qualify for Gestapo-controlled sheltered housing, all wipe-down high-back chairs and swirly carpets that stick to the soles of your shoes. En-suite facilities are now essential for those caught short at 3am moments (so much better than a bucket by the side of the bed). Just how did this happen? I remember the days of my deliciously misspent youth when summers of love seemed endless. Now an entire year passes by in a flash and I barely notice. Welcome to the epoch of Mr Grumpy.

I received a birthday card from my sister in law. Maybe she’s trying to tell me something?Twatter

God Works in Mysterious Ways

AtheistsA short while ago I shared this image on Facebook. It was a whimsical tease about the sartorial obsession the religious establishment have with funny hats, as if a silly head covering confers gravitas and wisdom. The idea being that if atheists could come up a millinery gimmick to get them in the papers, they might get taken more seriously. It was a joke, obviously. Not so to someone. A couple of days later, the picture and associated comments disappeared quicker than a South American political activist. Where did it go? Why did it go? Who knows? But then, a few days on, the post miraculously re-appeared. I know it was probably some Faceache anorak in hipster whiskers and top knot but I like to think it was divine intervention.

Springtime has Sprung

Springtime has Sprung

In my last post, I took a meander down memory lane and hinted that change was afoot. Well, my news is that I’m now a publisher, a bone fide purveyor of the written word. No, I haven’t bought out HarperCollins or picked up a Penguin. I’ve gone into partnership with Jo Parfitt, she who is the force of nature behind Summertime Publishing and Jane Dean, a super-talented eagle-eyed editor with a big red pen. The new publishing venture is called Springtime Books, and you’ll see that we have a few books on the books already.

Springtime Books

Summertime Publishing has been the expert in expat books for years. From now on, Summertime will specialise in expatriate families and third culture kids, while Springtime will focus on travel and the expat experience in general. We’ve even got a snazzy little video to promote our new enterprise.

Are you a current or former expat with something fresh to say about expatriate life? If so, it could be your time to shine.

And that’s not all. Today’s also the day Springtime publishes its newest title, Passage of the Stork, Delivering the Soul from the rather wonderful Madeleine Lenagh. Click on the book image to find out more.

Passage 3D

Now, I’d wager you thought that this post was going to be about the weather. You did, didn’t you?