Friday, 27 July 2007

Ying my Yang

Yes, yes, yes, I know, I’m a terrible blogger. Three weeks since my last entry. Not that any of you bastards seem to care anyway – I haven’t exactly been overwhelmed with emails and comments checking that I’ve not been diced into little cubes by some hot sociopath, made into pickled heure d'oeuvres and fed to his chihuahua at a dolls’ tea party with fucking Barbie. What an indignity.

The thing is, it’s not actually my fault (it never is; just ask The Sister and The Best Friend). Y’see, for the past few weeks this ship has been steered by Dr “Homemaker” Jekyll, and Mr “Bender” Hyde only managed to seize back the reigns of command last night. Word has it he achieved this by beating Jekyll over the head with a bag of mixed metaphors, but that’s just an unsubstantiated rumour mill that catches the worm.

Homemaker began to get some leverage on my brain as early as April. He’s always been there, lurking in the back space I’ve given him between the cerebral aqueduct and the medulla oblongata. Last year he got inspired and decked it out like the fucking elephant from Moulin Rouge; red velvet curtains, shag carpets and a Louis XIV imitation bath-tub. We had a bit of a bust-up over that, with him complaining that the patterned wallpaper wouldn’t stick to the fatty tissue of the walls, and that as his landlord I needed to get someone in to fix the damp. I told him to fuck off and find another brain if he didn’t like this one, and he’s been lying low ever since.

So April trots around, and I start getting emails from mum about the holiday that she and dad are having in July. My parents both have green thumbs, and this year decided to have three weeks in sunny (ha!) England looking at beautiful and historic gardens. As mum explained, she just needed a little bit of help sorting out the finer details… like all of it.

Car hire, booking accommodation, route planning, journey times, visiting friends, train travel and buying a bloody thermos; they all require the use of the practical parts of the brain. These are the areas where Homemaker lives, and suddenly he found himself in demand again.

As July approached he used this new influence to garner support from the other brain residents. First he got Id on side, allowing him to infiltrate my dreams with visions of arcadian landscaped gardens lit by golden sunshine, where naked men wrestled in the box hedges (it seems that not even Homemaker could keep Id fully under control). Next he convinced Ego to get on board, and then in a stunning coup d'├ętat won over Superego with promises of intellectual growth and moral betterment. Poor Bender Hyde was shackled up in the dungeons while Homemaker set himself up in a dictatorship, and as his first proclamation announced to the world “mum, I’d love to join you and dad for two weeks of middle-aged fun fun fun discussing the difference between ginger- and day-lilles in a small rental vehicle. Oh, and let’s bring The Sister along for a laugh.” Homemaker is one nasty piece of work.

The worst part is, I absolutely loved it. Every raspberry-picking, lavender-smelling, topiary-admiring moment of it. We meandered through the Lost Gardens of Heligan, St Michael’s Mount, The Eden Project and even Longleat, where Homemaker made a lot of fuss over the deer that ate from your hand. What a fucking loser; he can be like soooo embarrassing.

The whole experience was made all the better for having mum and dad there, whom I love to bits and who are very clever people. At the end of it all I returned to London feeling relaxed and bucolic; with grass growing on my head and a nasty cough apparently.

Ah London! The throbbing pulse of possibility, the pressing heat of humanity, the grinding pelvis of indecency. I was back! From his darkened cell Bender caught a whiff of a TFL announcement, and knew his time was nigh.

But Homemaker is a cunning weasel in a pink frilly apron, and had foreseen all of this. The first weekend back he directed the HW flesh-mobile to Dorset to stay with family friends and help organise a country fete. More wholesome air, warm bread in the morning and conversations about Kafka over sherry. In a further Machiavellian twist the return to London was organised to coincide with the release of the Potter Bible, guaranteeing the only interaction I had with other human beings was with the pervert whose room overlooks my bedroom window. No pervert, I’m reading a children’s fantasy novel, not “What Little Boys Do When TimTum Has Been Naughty”.

Then last night it finally happened. An Aussie friend – The Amusing Hairdresser – dragged me out to Old Compton Street last night and pickled me in vodka. At the first sighting of an overdeveloped bicep Id was won over, Ego came skulking back at the first sounding of “Umbrella” and Superego simply passed out behind the throne. Without their backing Homemaker was powerless to stop Bender Hyde returning to power in a glorious rainbow-bannered street parade.

The Thoughtful Epilogue

And yet, something is definitely different.

With the tragic inevitability of life The Amusing Hairdresser and I ended up dancing the night away at Moral Cesspits ‘R Us. In a pause between throwing some eggbeater shapes we sat down with a drink and he asked me who, out of everyone in the room, I fancied.

“The man in the suit.”

Sure it was pin-striped (we’ve been here before) but he sat there curled up with a glass of white wine, practically foetal with discomfort. You could see why – he was the only person not showing off the top seven-eighths of their underwear and alternately wearing/removing their tank top (I know boys, it’s so hard to decide; now I’m hot, now I’m cold, now I’m hot, oops cold again).

Choosing him was a 100% Homemaker decision, as he looked like the sort that would be able to carve up a Sunday roast while holding a conversation with my dad about dirty spark plugs. Unfortunately Pinnie replied (yes! I spoke to him) in a voice that only a mother could love, and only if she was deaf in both ears with a tolerance for high frequency vibrations. Imagine Ringo Starr making love to a chipmunk; their devil-spawn would sound like Pinnie.

Extricating myself from this situation required all of Bender’s skills. These mostly consisted of distracting Pinnie by pointing at the wall behind his head, then making a slicing movement across my neck as a signal to The Amusing Hairdresser to come save me. Later on it was Bender who decided that, actually, every single man in this club was a fucking Adonis (in fact, I suspect that if I popped out to the loos I would have found every single man fucking Adonis, the lucky bastard). Yet it was Homemaker who sensibly decided that this was the cue to go home. Amazing.

In the light of this evidence I now suspect that Homemaker and Bender are power-sharing my brain, and that this is the way it should be. Between the two of them they seem to know what they’re doing, and as long as they keep me out of it I'll remain a happy man.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Adventures in the underbelly

As a clean-cut farm boy from outback OZ, I usually steer well clear of the seedy underbelly of gay life. The polished six-pack that is its public face quickly becomes an unwashed, vermin-ridden potbelly if you wander into the wrong bars, and frankly it’s a world that I find rather embarrassing. Unless of course that bar contains an Amateur Strip Night, and then my moral stance gets thrown out the porthole with my sailor’s cap. He doesn’t need it anyway.

For this little sojourn I gathered a veritable mince of gay friends, flatmates and sisters (literal, not metaphorical). Unfortunately we suffered our first casualties at the door; anyone wielding a clitoris was denied admittance, so we entered the pub a diminished party. This was probably fortunate as there are some things you don’t want your sister to see, especially when she has a tendency to de-knob any man who offends her feminine sensibilities.

Inside, murky figures loitered in the corners waiting for newcomers to wander too far from the pack. We made as much noise as possible to scare them off and gathered near the stage. After an hour or two a sizable crowd had gathered, and on the stroke of midnight - like some blow-up Fairy Godmother - a Drag Queen appeared to announce the beginning of festivities. Members of the audience were invited to participate in the public removal of their clothing for the enjoyment of others; just your usual Wednesday night down at the local.

Act One was pretty special, and I mean special as in Special. No one seemed to have explained to him that stripping is an Art, one that requires timing, enthusiasm and a basic level of personal hygiene. He didn’t so much tempt us with the sensual suggestion of hidden flesh and forbidden desires, as get up there and undress for bed.

Shirt off… then belt… trousers… hmmm, stained white undies next... bit baggy those, must go to Primark tomorrow… wait, I’m forgetting something… hang on… oh yes, my shoes… just bennnnnnnd over to unlace those… tum tee tum.

I was left with the distinctly unsettling impression that Act One entered every week in the desperate hope that he would be the only entrant, win by default, and thereby double his dole cheque. He certainly didn’t do it for a love of showbiz.

Act Two seemed more promising, despite the shadowed form of man-boobs lurking ominously beneath his white T-shirt. Fortunately these proved to be massively over-developed pecs instead, a slippery distinction that is best illustrated by photos of Arnie in consecutive issues of Hello! magazine. Next came the trousers, revealing a rather startling red jockstrap. And then... Oh my god my eye! Oww oww owww! What the fuck was that!? Fuck me! Get out of the fucking way, I need to wash the fucker out before go blind!

Yes, it seems that Act Two had had to grapple with a decision that had never even crossed my mind, but that shits all over Hamlet’s To Be Or Not malarkey for moral complexity; to go soft, or to go hard? The former lends a more Renaissance feel to the performance; think Adam in Cappella Brancacci’s Explusion From The Garden of Eden. However, if one is going for a more robust and virile performance, nothing says it better than a white-meat bratwurst standing at attention. As an additional bonus, every dance moved is emphasised with a nodding, metronomic beat, a kind of visual interpretation of Hard House. Very Hard House.

Now gentlemen, I can sense you all reaching for The Best of Kylie: 1993-94 in an attempt to try this at home, but first a word of warning. Firstly, Act Two was obviously a professional. He had prepared himself beforehand, and sealed the deal with a constrictive mechanical device. No attempt should be made to recreate these conditions at home with any form of rubberband, rusty wire from the garden shed, or dental floss. Stripping is not a game.

Secondly, once the act is completed there is the difficulty of deflation, or rather lack thereof. One finds it rather demanding to communicate the complex metaphysical inspiration of that Flashdance-esque backflip at the best of times, let alone when one’s boner keeps snagging on the interviewer’s cocktail dress. No really. Sequins are like velcro to cock.

A hard act to follow (as it were) but some gentle alcoholic persuasion convinced two fourteen-year olds to give it a go. Yes, Act Three was prepubescent and preputial, but sadly not prepared. As their performance crashed and burned, the Drag Queen intervened to suggest some romantic snogging may save the day. Instead it gave it the air of 3am at a Eurovision afterparty; not what one needs to see on a Wednesday night.

Despite a flagrant breach of Health and Safety regulations, Act Two achieved a comfortable victory. For his efforts in personal moral degradation he was awarded one hundred English pounds and a peck on the cheek from the Drag Queen. If you wish, you may play Hunt The Euphemism.

Sadly no Mr Right came forward that evening, but it was not an entirely fruitless adventure; I left with a useful list of everything I wasn’t looking for in a man, from Abnormal Areola to Zoonosis.

Or just grey Primark undies.

Monday, 2 July 2007

A helping hand

The things I do for Love.

I’d not been having too much luck of late finding Mr Right. After trying the Singles Night, Speed Dating and writing “Will Do Anything To Form Meaningful Relationship With Man Preferably Resulting In Stable Family Unit Of Two Or Three Children Not Particularly Fussy” on my forehead in Soho, I was all out of ideas. (Yes, I have a big forehead. Let’s move on).

Fortunately, just when my need was greatest, I happened to bump into an Old Flame near work. This was obviously the Hand of God, and had nothing to do with the modified GPS prison microchip I sew under the skin of all my exes. Nothing at all.

Over lunch I mentioned where I now live, and he asked if I’d been to the “White Swan” yet. Turns out that this is the pub at the end of my street with the rainbow flag hanging limply out the front that is NEVER open. This didn’t ever particularly surprise me, as our part of east London has a preeeeetty strong Muslim community. Gay pub. Muslim community. Men holding hands. Men without hands. Men kissing men. Big burning hole where the pub was.

What did surprise me, however, is that it opens every night of the week. As The Old Flame explained, it opens at 9pm and closes at 3am, thereby cleverly avoiding any social unpleasantness and also ensuring the very highest calibre of clientele. And best of all [pause for dramatic effect], every Wednesday [hold eye contact], without fail [tremble with anticipation], they hold an Amateur Gay Strip Night.

The Hand of God had thrown me a lifeline. I knew where Mr Right was hiding.