We’ve put Amazon Prime on trial. The retail juggernaut offers Prime free for a month. The jury’s out whether we’ll carry on once the trial is over. Not because it’s rubbish. It isn’t. But because Amazon has got too big for its boots. Just saying.
The trial did give us the chance to check out Prime Video and a couple of movies that took our fancy – ‘Dating Amber’ and ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’. We’d not heard of the former but we’d seen the stage version of the latter beamed from the West End before the pandemic turned off the glitter ball.
Set in Ireland during the mid-90s, ‘Dating Amber’ tells the story of Eddie and Amber, two gay teens who decide to fake a romance to stop the kids at school from banging on about their sexuality. It’s a funny, sweet and touching coming out tale, and perfect for warming a cool autumnal evening.
The musical ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ was a surprise West End hit, inspired by the 2011 BBC documentary ‘Jamie: Drag Queen at 16’. The show follows the eponymous teenager as he beats the bullies and the bigots to slip on the high heels, sequined frock and big hair as a wannabe drag queen.
The show’s back on in the West End now and Prime recently premiered the film version. We liked the stage show but we loved the movie – gutsy, exuberant and courageous with a sparkling cast, including Max Harwood as Jamie.
And what do these two films have in common (apart from the bleedin’ obvious)? None other than fabulous Irish actress, writer and comedian Sharon Horgan who plays Eddie’s doting mother and Jamie’s tight-arsed teacher. Sharon Horgan’s all over our screens right now, making career hay while the TV sun shines. And who came blame her?
We love ‘POSE’ – a must-watch on the telly box. The first two series were compulsive viewing and pioneering in the heart-warming but warts-and-all portrayal of the LGBT drag ball scene of 80s and 90s New York. Gritty, witty and fabulous, the edgy drama pulled no punches. Life on the margins was rough and tumble and then AIDS joined the party to make it deadly. The cast of largely unknowns delivered a sparkling script with conviction and passion. It’s no surprise that POSE has been lavished with critical acclaim and showered with gongs and globes.
We could hardly wait for the third and final season on the BBC. It had already aired in the US – again to universal praise – so we were on the edge of our seats with anticipation. Tragically, it didn’t start well. The clunky plot of the opening episodes seemed like it had been chucked together by committee using keywords. Usually we don’t have a problem with Yankee accents but during one particular mumbling scene we had to switch on the subtitles. Touches of former brilliance did emerge mid-series but the saccharine pep talks about lurv just went on and on. The hard edge was lost. We still lurv POSE but the romance has sadly cooled.
Apart from clacking about in my mother’s heels when I was six (and who hasn’t done that?) I’ve only cross-dressed once – dragging up as Mary Hopkins at a fancy dress Eurovision Song Contest party back in the day. I picked up a dodgy blonde wig and cheap black dress on the Roman Road Market in London’s East End. In DMs and black eyeliner, my Mary looked like a gothed-up pantomime dame. I made sure all the photos were destroyed.
With my drag days long behind me, imagine my surprise to get this delivered from dependable ol’ Marks and Spencer, the cornerstone of the beleagued British High Street.
Not so dependable, after all. Right name, right address, wrong order. We wanted fitted sheets. We got fitted bras. And not any old bras, oh no. These were M&S bras, sumptuously soft with full cups in 36B. Still, it made us giggle on a slow day.
Here’s the real Mary doing her thing on Eurovision back when the UK had a fighting chance of winning. Not that Mary did win. Despite being red-hot favourite, she came second to Ireland’s Dana, a sweet-voiced chanteuse with fire and brimstone views.
This year, Liam and I jollied in London for our birthdays. A state of the art, hi-tech micro-room in St James’ was the perfect base for our foraging. We arrived on Remembrance Sunday and the centre of town was buzzing with blazers, badges and bling under a canopy of Christmas lights. It was fun being tourists with time on our hands to roam and drink it all in, something we rarely did when we were worker bees on the treadmill.
Talking of drinking it all in, no trip to the West End is quite the same without a jar or two in a local hostelry. As seems to be our habit these days, we ended up at Halfway to Heaven, a gay bar just off Trafalgar Square and the splendid den of iniquity where Liam first caught my roving eye 13 years ago. Quite by chance, we arrived just in time to catch their annual Remembrance Day show.
The pub was rammed with military veterans – men and women, young and old, straight, gay and everything in between, all in their Sunday best – enjoying a convivial mingle with the regulars.
Halfway to Heaven has become something of a safe and welcoming place for ex-military LGBT people. Who knew? But it was a wonder to behold. When we were at the bar ordering drinks, a middle-aged woman was chatting to the manager.
“Thank you for being so nice to my dad and his husband,”
she said, pointing at two old soldiers in the corner.
The world may be going to Hell in a handcart but the Pansies keep on blooming – year in, year out. I keep them fed and watered and I’m grateful to those who pass by to admire the display. As the New Year dawns and more dark clouds lurk on the horizon, it’s a good time to look back at the pansies that perked the most in 2018. Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum, romped home by a mile. Who knew a drag show in a circus tent could strike such a chord?
As for the also-rans, it’s the usual eclectic bunch – as befits my random rants and ramblings from daily life: cowboys, cross-dressers, the curse of modern parlance, movie misses, gym bunnies, Hellenic heaven, and stories old and new from the Land of the Sunrise.