Catching Crabs

Those naughty young men at Warwick University Rowing Club certainly know how to perk up a dull day.  Since first getting their kit off in 2009 to raise money for their club and to combat homophobia in sport, they’ve raised over £200,000 in 77 countries. Not to miss a trick, the enterprising bunch have also branched out into posters, tee shirts, greeting cards and hoodies. They’ve dropped their drawers again for 2015 and have just completed a three-week promo tour in the USA. These boys are getting as big as the Calendar Girls.

Believe it or not, back in my old school days I used to row myself. No, really, I did. And I wasn’t the cox. It was infinitely preferable to playing rugby, a sport I loathed with a passion. Paddling up and down the Thames in the rain could be a bit grim but mucking about in boats during the summer months was a pleasant way to pass a warm Wednesday afternoon. I was the Bow in the B Crew and we excelled only at catching crabs.* As if to prove our uselessness beyond reasonable doubt, in 1976, we proudly came last out of a cast of hundreds in the Head of the River Race, an event that takes place between Mortlake and Putney every year. Quite a feat, don’t you think?

Here’s the school boathouse at Barnes Bridge.

Emanuel School Boathouse

Needless to say, none of my crew looked anything like the fit boys from Warwick. More’s the pity.

*A rowing error where the rower is unable to timely remove or release the oar blade from the water and the oar blade acts as a brake on the boat until it is removed from the water. This results in slowing the boat down. A severe crab can even eject a rower out of the shell or make the boat capsize (unlikely except in small boats). Occasionally, in a severe crab, the oar handle will knock the rower flat and end up behind him/her, in which case it is referred to as an ‘over-the-head crab.’ Source: Wikipedia.

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…

 

The Commonwealth Gaymes

The Commonwealth (a misnomer is ever there was one) is holding its Games in Glasgow this summer. The sporting jamboree will bring together athletes from across the old British Empire and (in the case of former Portuguese Mozambique) beyond it. There’s precious little wealth in common among the motley crew of nations made up by their former imperial masters and one thing that definitely doesn’t bind them is a shared understanding of human rights.

At this year’s Norwich Pride, Vince Laws, Norwich artist and LGBT activist, will be highlighting the truly appalling record of many (actually most) Commonwealth countries in relation to LGBT rights. Vince’s illustration says it all.

Vince Laws

This is Vince’s big idea:

I want to protest the homophobia in the Commonwealth during the Gaymes. I want to get 41 white umbrellas, and paint the names of the offending countries on them, in blood red, and hopefully get 41 people to carry them in Norwich Pride parade. It’s going to cost about £5 per umbrella. I’m overdrawn and on benefits! To help, you could donate a plain white umbrella, send a fiver, a tenner, what you can afford. If I get enough money I’ll do all 86 countries where it’s illegal to be me. I’m hoping once the umbrellas are done they can go to different events around the country, or go on display… Any ideas, offers of help, welcome.

So Vince is a doing a Rihanna by inviting you to stand with him under his umbrella (ella ella, eh eh eh). Offers of help and spare brollies to Vince on Facebook or chip in a few quid at Fundrazr. Ta muchly.

 

Sochi 2014

As the Winter Olympics kick off in Sochi (the most expensive Winter Olympics of all time),  a timely reminder of Tsar Putin’s nasty little law.

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Perking the Pansies

Putin

With the introduction of a vaguely worded law in Russia banning the promotion of homosexuality to minors (i.e. the very mention of it will attract a sliding scale of fines and repeated violations may result in a stint in the clink), the chattering classes have called for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi on Russia’s Black Sea Coast. The idea is to give Tsar Putin and his Russian Orthodox cabal a good kick up the arse. I can’t see it amounting to much. After all, the soccer World Cup circus will be coming to town in Qatar in 2022, a gulf state with a less than sparkling record on human rights of any kind and we seem happy to do brisk business with a host of nasty little regimes around the globe. Let not conscience get in the way of the beautiful game or making a few…

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2013 in Review

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.

Plumber’s Bum

It was the picture wot won it.

Turkey Troubles

A revolution in the making?

Tom Daley: Something I Want to Say

Saying it before someone said it for him.

Gareth Thomas, Dancing on Ice Drama

Who said ice-prancing rugger buggers can’t read?

Life in the Old Blog Yet

With thanks to the nice people at WordPress who featured me on one of their big hitting sites.

Turkey, Surviving the Expats – Out Now!

Keeping me out the workhouse.

God Save the Queen’s Head

A Chelsea classic and old watering hole of mine.

From Little Acorns...

A small corner of Turkey that is forever John.

Seven Year Itch

A soppy tale from Liam.

Turkey, Who Will Blink First?

And we all know who did in the end, don’t we?

For some inexplicable reason, this was the most popular image of 2013, featured in Let’s Hear it for the Brides.

Nine Elms
The Thames at Nine Elms

And I shouldn’t forget the perennial favourites from previous years that keep coming back again and again like a bad case of thrush.

Gran Canaria Sex Emporium

Proving that ‘sex’ really is the most searched for word on Google.

Now That’s What I Call Old

A humble little post about a spectacular discovery in eastern Turkey that just keeps on giving while the archaeologists keep on digging  – 8,000 hits and climbing. Who would have thought?

Expat Glossary

Oft quoted and oft plagiarised (and not always with a credit, tut tut)

Goodbye to the Turkish Living Forum

The few spoiling it for the many. A real shame.

Turkey Street RecliningAnd what of 2014? All I know is that Turkey Street, Jack and Liam move to Bodrum 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.

Stripping for the Cause

RowersMany moons ago, I nailed my colours to the mast about the scourge of homophobia, particularly hate crime and bullying in schools. I even banged on about it on the wireless when I did a My Pride Life gig on Future Radio. It still goes on, of course. Hardly a day passes when I don’t hear about some pond life picking on the defenceless. Mercifully, I’m not a lone voice in the wilderness. Who listens to me anyway? There are loads of splendid organisations, charities and talented individuals doing their bit. And, if the message of hope is blended with a little harmless titillation, then that gets my vote every time.

Cue the cute rowers from Warwick University stripping for the cause. Oh, to be the cox.

I thought I might take my clothes off in public to raise a few farthings for the cause but I fear people would only pay me to put them back on again.

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…