Sunday, 25 November 2007

Of gods and men

Dear mortals,

As I gaze down upon thee from the formidable heights of Mount Olympus, noting thy pathetic scratchings and scrapings from my throne of gilded buttocks, I place a wearied hand upon my brow and bid thee stop, pause thy pitiful scurrying, look to the heavens and…

Check. Out. My. Life. It’s fucking fantastic.

As you are all well aware, my life wasn’t always like this. No, up until last weekend I was one of You Lot, my days spent gazing at the Navel of Discontent and chewing the Fat of Melancholia (it tastes like liquorice if you want to know). But now? Well, now I neck beers with Dionysus, make little charm bracelets with Hephaestus and perve on Apollo’s buns with Hermes in the Pool of Nubile Youths (just don’t drop the soap).

How did this happen? My ascent up Mount Olympus began last Saturday night, at the 30-something birthday extravaganza of my good friend The Maggirister.

For those of you new to my world, The Maggirister is a freak of human nature: half barrister, half internationally-acclaimed card magician. He flies through the streets of London in a spandex suit emblazoned with diamonds and hearts, resolving commercial litigation with one flick of his mighty Delia Smith kitchen scales, and accepting the cheers of a grateful populous with a nod of his immaculately coiffured wig.

We dated once; briefly, tragically. It ended with moi throwing The Maggirister’s heart into oncoming traffic on the Portishead bypass, where it bounced off the bonnet of a 1972 Skoda before being eaten by pack of rabid Somerset inbreds. Fortunately he has since successfully grown a new one with the aid of a much more loving man and his rather beautiful 8-pack.

So. The Dinner Party. Not one to do things by halves, The Maggirister hosted a catered, four-course event for 16 people in the ‘Oak Room’ of his historic apartment building. You know the one. Next to the Ballroom. Underneath the 17th century fresco of dancing cherubs. I know, I know, not a patch on one’s usual vomit-on-the-half-eaten-kebab Saturday night out but one must struggle on as best one can.

Not surprisingly most of The Maggirister’s friends were from the ‘Magic Industry’. The first fellow I spoke to worked as a Hustler on American TV, which sadly proved not to be a career in the porn-rodeo business. Less pink-tasselled chaps, more ripping-off fat stupid yanks. Delightful conversation, but disappointingly he didn’t fall for my trick of hiding my wallet in my pants and challenging him to ‘hustle [that] out Big Boy.’

Magic guest number two worked as a consultant for film and stage. His last job had been to figure out how the lead in “Desperately Seeking Susan - The Musical” (oh so much material here) could sing the final number whilst being sawn in half. Ah yes, how often I have pondered the same question. Oh, and he’d helped Daniel with his magic tricks in Harry Potter 3. Ahem. Of course your faithful narrator took all this in his stride, snuck off to the bathroom and wrapped the hand that had touched the hand that had touched Harry in a plastic bag, never to be washed again.

And so to Guest 3. Ah, Guest 3. If Guest 3 was a drug, he’d go in your toes or up your nose. If he was real estate, you wouldn’t even be allowed to change the colour of the medieval finials. If he was your primary school maths exam, Mrs Woodley would have stuck a gold star to his forehead. Yes, ladies and gentlemen; Guest 3 was a bona fide, A-grade, Class I celebrity.

Fuck. Me.

Fortunately the initial shock of recognition carried me through the introductions, so that when G3 shook my hand and said “Ah, HW, I’ve heard a lot about you” he misinterpreted my stupefied silence as a cool why-the-fuck-should-I-care attitude to celebritydom. Because I don’t… care that is… well, not much… [must get plastic bag off hand before G3 notices fuck fuck double fuck].

As pre-dinner drinks came to an end G3 and I wended our way over the to dinner venue. En route there was an unfortunate accident with a fast-moving garden trowel which resulted in there being an empty seat next to G3 at the dinner table. The poor fellow was therefore required to talk to the person on his left all night who was, oh!, really?! ME?!

Oh how the honey of our conversation flowed! Politics, architecture, music, classical philosophy; nothing was beyond the scope of our most intimate imaginings. For whole minutes we grappled with the breadth of human experience and the dark imaginings of mankind’s flawed soul. And then we talked about boys. And cocks. And boys some more. Who have nice cocks.

Yes, it turns out G3 is a gayer [whoopee!]… with a boyfriend [boo, hiss]… who he loves deeply [fucking cunt fuck]. This point was in danger of derailing my Master Plan of wooing and winning a celebrity for my collection, when Lady Luck decided to help me out.

G3: “What are you up to for the rest of the weekend?”

HW: [with casual flick of his hair] “Oh, the choir I am in are singing one of Elgar’s lesser known works, The Dream Of Gerontius, at the Royal Albert Hall tomorrow. You probably don’t know it.”

G3: “No way! You’re kidding?! That’s my favourite piece of classical music! I sing it in the shower for god’s sake! HW, do you think, is there ANY chance you might be able to get me two tickets? Any chance at all?”

HW: “Weeeeell, I’m not sure. It’s pretty popular. I’ll try and pull a few strings, see what I can do.”

G3: “Wow, thank you so much. Look, here’s my number, call me tomorrow to let me know how you get on.”

“OK. Like, whatever.”

After dinner, in desperate need of wing-woman advice I rang The Best Friend. Typically, she completely missed the point and asked “HW, do you actually fancy this man?” What on earth has that got to do with the anything? I mean, really. I needed advice on how to eliminate The Competition in a multiple paper-cut tragedy with a Royal Albert Hall program, not some moralistic mumbo jumbo about Right and Wrong.

The next day I got the tickets, sang my little heart out in the concert and afterwards met G3 and his beau outside. A small crowd had gathered around G3 and some chav was asking him to sign her Megabus ticket with an Asda eye-liner, so I chatted to The Competition for a bit. Disappointingly he turned out to be lovely. Intelligent, sincere, fucking lovely. Suddenly I couldn’t imagine pushing him under a bus or setting a host of genetically-engineered squirrels onto him, let alone slowly bleeding him to death with a musical programme. Fuck. The best laid plans of mice and fucking men.

As a consolation prize G3 and Lovely Beau gave me a lift, and after they’d been dropped off their driver took me home. As you do. I may not have ended up dating an A-class celebrity, but hanging out with him and his boyfriend was a nice second best. Drive, take a left here; we're going to Mount Olympus.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

This blog is ruining my life

You out there! Yes you, reader! I have a bone to pick with you. There you sit, slumped in front of your computer with your voyeuristic desires and your wilted pot-plants, casually dipping into my life to satisfy your pathetic need for Thrill. Do you ever stop to thing about me? Huh?! Poor old me, who has to carry the weight of your expectations on his rather shapely and finely formed shoulders? Do you ever think about the effect of your addiction on the Little People?

No, I should think you don’t. Well, here’s a sobering tale to make you think next time before you click.

My life started unravelling last Friday night when, after a gruelling week of mincing around the office designing pretty things I decided to reward myself by watching the DVD box-set of Queer As Folk. I’d been meaning to do this for a while, as being a gay man who has not seen Queer As Folk is a bit like being the only member of the 12 disciples still sporting a foreskin.

I settled myself into the sofa with a bottle of red and a cuddly toy, and delved headfirst into the lives of those three loveable lads from Manchester. I laughed when they laughed, held their hands when they were sad, and cheered when the Evil Homophobe Texan Robot King had his biblical energy core ripped out with the pulsing pink power of gay love. Heady stuff.

Unfortunately, I didn’t read the product safety guidelines that advised against watching this material alone, and so it was that my flatmate came home to find me sobbing into my claret, rocking Booboo the stuffed penguin in my arms, and blubbering about wanting to find a boyfriend.

Now, I have many charming personality traits, ranging from a need to pass judgment on other people’s morals through to an ability to drool my own body mass while sleeping on public transport. However, the most useful off all is the cold metal core of Practicality that our mother has given to all three of her children. Not for us the pathetic self-indulgent pity of the lower classes. No, if you’ve got a problem you make a list of potential solutions in your neatest handwriting, with a numerically weighted list of pros and cons beside each, and you eliminate the weakest options until you are left with a gilded, glittering path forwards.

Here was my list:

1. Stay at home and cry some more. PROS: inexpensive. CONS: no available homosexuals in house.

2. Lure homosexuals into house using a trail of sequins and pink candy. PROS: inexpensive. CONS: likely to attract camp man wearing grandma’s clothing and/or red hood.

3. Answer Guardian classifieds ad for 'Men Seeking Men. PROS: high-likelihood of meeting intelligent, witty tofu-muncher. CONS: see ‘pros’.

4. Go out to gay bars with friends. PROS: guaranteed great night as can poke fun at freakshow gays. CONS: wing-woman lives in Bath; technique tried on many previous occasions without success; high risk of going home with freakshow.

5. Go out to gay bars alone. PROS: social awkwardness guaranteed to force HW to talk to freakshows; no matter how bad it is will be able to write a blog about it.

And there it is. Point 5 sub-clause 2 pushed me over the edge. It’d been a slow week and I was feeling the pinch, so if I didn’t go out you’d all be hearing about the lint shaped like the face of Mother Teresa I'd found while clipping my toenails.

Saturday November 3rd. 8pm. I arrive at stop number one on my Night Of Gay Horrors. I order myself a vodka tonic, saunter casually around the bar to establish by sexually-charged presence, and come to rest nonchanlantly in a well-lit corner where there is plenty of space for a queue to form.

It takes me about 32 seconds to realise that maintaining a sense of cool approachability while drinking by yourself is about as easy as doing the Timewarp in a wheelchair. My desperation builds as I realise my drink is nearly done and I am looking less like a desirable catch and more like a lonely alcoholic. There’s only one thing for it; I receive an imaginary text.

Ha ha ha ha! I chortle. Oh! How amusing all my friends are who are not currently present! I smile knowingly. Oh look! One of said friends is ringing me. Yes, yes, I’m waiting for you all to join me. No! Not at all! Take your time! I’m having a ball here by myself. I LOVE being out alone! Really?! He did what!? Oh, what silliness, what crazy times we have! You guys! I hang up and put my phone away. But OH! No sooner have I done so than someone else is texting me. Gosh, so popular tonight despite the external appearances of a pathetic loser.

Time to move on.

Stop number two. En route I call the Aussie Hairdresser – who goes out by himself a lot – for tips. “Stand near the bar,” he advises. “If you’re in a corner men will think you unapproachable. And try to look like you’re having a good time.” Can do.

I prop myself up on the bar and cast my wicked eye about. It sees that the man in the thong and boots dancing on the bar top has a cold, so has to alternate rubbing his lathered groin up a pole with blowing into a Kleenex. It also sees that the dress code appears to be “your sister’s wardrobe” while I have in error gone for collar and skinny tie, and that the only people by themselves look like they are a few nucleotides short of a double-helix.

Time to move on.

Stop number three. Described by the Aussie Hairdresser as being ‘non-scene’. I wander up to the bar, and as I’m waiting for my v+t to arrive I feel the gentle pressure of a pair of hands on my shoulders and waist as someone squeezes past. Hooray! I think, turning slowly. The inappropriate touching of a gay introduction…

...only to find he is 55 years old. Wearing a hopeful leer. I retch on his hideousness and stumble away.

However, this encounter has galvanised me into action. Clearly the key is to approach, not be approached. In this way you ensure quality control. I identify my target as a gentleman wearing quirky spectacles at the bar, as 1) gay men are usually so vain as to not wear glasses, and 2) he looks like he’s having fun. Oh look! He’s checking his text messages.

He turns out to be an Yankee Banker over from D.C. for a holiday, sporting a refined sense of fashion and an interest in design and architecture. We chat, head outside for some air, and get accosted by a Hen Party for a photo of the bride hoisted between two burly gentlemen. The Old Compton Street usual.

Disturbingly, we have such a good time that we spend all day Sunday together as well, going to an exhibition at the Barbican and walking the city in autumnal sunshine. It’s disgusting; I feel like we’re living an ABBA song. We have dinner, enjoy some censored activities and a few drinks into the wee hours. Two days later he flies out to Barcelona. Cue ABBA track two.

So you, Reader, have completely fucked up my life. It’s been a long time since I’ve met anyone interesting, funny, intelligent, and with a stomach to crack nuts on (yes, very funny). Thanks to you I now have, but he lives 3661 miles away. What the fuck am I supposed to do with that?

We are officially not talking.