Wednesday, 23 December 2009
Oh, hang on. No, wait. So sorry, that was someone else. My mistake. I still love phalli, and crazy Latin plural nouns.
In June of 2009 – after paying my taxes like a good boy for seven years and sitting a test to ensure I knew how to claim dentistry benefits when I became pregnant at 15 – the British Home Office gave me a shiny new visa. This innocuous little stamp meant that I was no longer tied to any particular employer but could now stay in the country as long as I wanted as an independent citizen. Hurrah! The fools! Now I could implement my plan to 1) become Intergalactic Saviour Of Humanity Through The Medium Of Design and 2) have a very cool nametag.
Step one; quit my life-sapping job! Pah! I laugh at your puny insignificance and irrelevance, Employer of the Past! Step two; leave London and its sordid distractions! Farewell, City of Costly Expenditure and Naughty Liaisons with Magical Barristers; I am on the path of righteousness now! Step three; well, ummm, fanny around a bit overseas and blow some cash. Ahem. Arriving swiftly at step four; move to the West Country with Intimately Proportioned Design Partner! Rent a house! Set up an office! Put a gold bath in the corner, ready to swim in all the money we make! Hazaar! Kazam! Whoopee!
This was the fulfilment of an old dream. Design Partner and I had long talked about setting up a business together, one that would allow us to design, manufacture and distribute our own products under our own brand. I met him through Straight Best Friend many years ago and admired his intelligence, drive and miniaturisation. For like a kinky Japanese sex toy he is a technological tour de force, providing long-lasting performance in a casing a little bit smaller than you’re used to. You don’t need to wash him as much though.
In order to get a house with space for an office Design Partner and I settled in a quaint little village in the West Country. While beautiful the downside of our new home was the impossibility of getting to or from it. Public transport in post-Thatcher England is about as reliable as a bus where Lassie does the steering and Skippy does the brakes, yet I was unwilling to increase my carbon footprint through the purchase of a car and there was no parking in the village for a dirigible.
Instead I settled for a very tiny, beautifully designed scooter. All sweeping lines and cappuccino colourings, he called out to me in his little Taiwanese voice and said “Bai mi! Bai mi mista an’ wi will hav soh mani adwenchaas togeva it will bee laik Audwii Hepburn in Woeman Howiday wen shi goes funni cwazi on a wespa an’ nearwi kills everwi-won! Oh yes bai mi bai mi mista!!.” And although living in the country had already turned me into a Daily Mail bigot I forgave this little asylum seeker and snaffled him up as my own.
Our first autumn together was a beautiful time. On those long, golden days we would zip around the back lanes of England together, my scarf trailing behind us in the breeze, my Italian boots gleaming in the sun. For safety reasons it was necessary for me to buy a baby-soft leather jacket from Liberty’s of London, a jacket so fitted that it pushed my intestinal tract into my chest cavity to create rippling, kidney-shaped pecs. Straight Best Friend said it made me look like The Fonz, but – never good with her 80s trivia - she was obviously thinking that The Fonz drove a sentient talking car and looked shit-hot in ripped denim. The poor dear never was very smart.
So the days slipped by, shortened and became winter. Crisp blue skies, the promise of Christmas and then finally snow! Yes, snow! Unbelievably the UK weather had decided it wouldn’t shit on us with a giant wind-and-rain ball-turd this year but would instead provide the stuff of Christmas cards. From my bedroom window the garden looked like a giant wedding cake, complete with marzipan compost bin and sugar-dusted dead bird.
“Be careful out there today,” cautioned Design Partner as I vaselined myself into my jacket. “It’ll be cold and slippery.” Well duh. Why do people always assume that Australians don’t know how to handle cold weather? We DO have refrigeration you know. I’ve SEEN the inside of a freezer. I’m not an idiot.
I threw open the back door and stepped into the glorious morning. Fuck! It really was cold. Double fuck! The path was ridiculously slippery. I reached the shed intact but my hands were shaking and my saliva was undergoing a change of state. Buggery fuck bollocks. I was going to need more clothes.
Three trips back to the house later I was ready to go. I was now wearing two pairs of gloves, a thermal top, a collared shirt, a woollen jumper, a waterproof and then finally my corseting leather jacket. Suddenly I was less John Travolta in Grease and more the Battlefield Earth years. I was a sausage in a stocking, jelly in a johnny, an old chesterfield bursting out of its seams. I had slipped from sex god to upholstery. Oh the ignominy.
I slithered down the lane to the village road, which – against all expectations – had not been gritted. Honestly, what the fuck do they spend my council taxes on? Books for disabled children from broken homes? Fuck the little shits; my road needs de-icing. I lined the Taiwanese workhorse up, gave the accelerator a confident twist, and … Well, nothing. No motion. Clearly, more power was required. I twisted the accelerator further; nothing. Then further, until finally the back wheel gripped and the pinko scum skidded sideways in something approximating a low-speed biking accident. The traitorous bastard.
Slightly shaken but undeterred, I moved from a perpendicular road position to the more conventional parallel arrangement, lowered my tapered Italian boots to the road surface and set off at 2 mph with a dainty set of outriggers. Hurrah! A triumphant union of engineering and fashion!
And yet… as the village traffic backed up behind me and I was overtaken by a man walking his dog I couldn’t help but feel a certain je ne sais quoi had been lost from my stylish transportation. I had this niggling feeling that if Mr Right looked out from the Rococo study in the west annex of his country seat and happened to see me gliding past that – rather than the love of his life – he might only see some twat with his feet down looking like the Marshmallow Man…
…in a very hot leather jacket.
Saturday, 5 December 2009
Stop one, New York! New York! Land of yellow cabs, little dogs and bagels. Little dogs in yellow cabs eating bagels! Yellow cabs running over little dogs sandwiched in bagels! How exciting! So many freakshows to see! So little time!
Little time indeed. For although my first trip to New York should have consisted to lazy days in Central Park and endless bereted coffees at MOMA, my boss had other ideas. Yes, I was actually in New York for work, setting up exhibitions to launch our lighting products across the pond. After a few days of this it rapidly became apparent that unless I took action the extent of my American experience was going to be the inside of a SOHO gallery, the morbidly obese man at the hardware store around the corner and a power-drill with a funny-shaped plug.
But hang on. “Staying in New York for work,” I hear you say. “That doesn’t sound too bad. Business class flights, a five-star hotel and all your food and travel expenses paid for.” Well, that was my boss’ experience. Me, I got to fly Economy while he sat up front, wasn’t allowed to claim receipts and got sleep on a variety of Aussie mates’ sofas while he stayed for a week in SOHO’s most exclusive hotel. That’s right; when he heard I had friends in town he asked if I could stay with them to save the company some money, because when you’ve just bought a multi-million pound house in central London you’ve got to watch the pennies. Well, watch someone else’s pennies anyway.
Armed with my indignation I negotiated two days of paid leave and resolved to get as far away as possible. That way when one of the exhibition lights caught fire and the gallery burned and south Manhattan was apocalyptically razed I could calmly answer the phone and say “Yes, hello? Oh, that sounds awful. Hmmm. I see. Look, I’d love to come back and help pick up charred bits of your completely irrelevant lighting product but the beach here is just lovely, and by the time I get back my martini will be warm, and Emmanuel says it’s a waste not to use up the whole bottle of massage oil now we’ve opened it. Oh, and you’re a cunt who’s too tight to pay my travel expenses. Bye now! Mwah.”
Fortunately I had a perfect getaway option in the form of my hot Yankee Banker. When not in London trawling the bars for innocent youths to debase he worked in Washington D.C. for a big bank, doing the kind of banking stuff that isn’t a teller and so I will never understand. We hadn’t seen each other for over a year but he was delighted at the idea of a visit, so I packed my bags and leapt on the first train out of town.
On the journey I consulted my copy of The Big Book of Gay Etiquette: Just Because It’s There Doesn’t Mean You Should Touch It for a few tips, and learnt that:
… when visiting or staying with an old flame timing is everything. If the invitation is for a hour or less it can be assumed that a cup of tea or coffee is expected, possibly with a side platter of freshly baked scones. If the invitation is for anything more than an hour – say, up to a week – then etiquette necessitates engaging in Unmentionable Activities on a scale appropriate to the quality of the accommodation provided. This timing distinction is critical. Adherence to it will avoid the embarrassment of arriving with a bottle of soymilk when prophylactics would have been more appropriate.
At the time I was still dating Coat Contents and Yankee Banker was loved up with a new fella, so I wasn’t sure The Big Book of Gay Etiquette’s advice of getting jolly with the lolly was appropriate. I skimmed through its section on relationship etiquette but since I didn’t need to know “How to keep his toy soldier at attention when the Major General has left” or “Riding Aladdin’s rug: Three wishes to get the magic back now the lamp is tarnished” it just confused me more. Eventually I fell back my mother's teachings and decided that arriving bearing leather chaps and a big grin would be indelicate. I settled for hydrangeas instead.
Arriving at Yankee Banker’s apartment late in the afternoon, I stood gazing fixedly at the jumble of numbers trying to remember which one I should buzz. Gazing fixedly only works if you allow your mouth to drop open too, and maximum cognition is only achieved if you scratch your nuts to get the brain working. I was thus engaged when a cheery voice called out “Hi! You must be HW!”
I turned to see a disarmingly handsome man grinning at me, decked out in the coolest glasses I have ever seen. I swallowed the fly I’d caught and turned my nut-scratching into a casual running of the hand through the hair while he introduced himself as Yankee Banker’s beau. The horror! I’d been replaced with someone better looking, with better glasses and – as it transpired – a better job. Oh look at me! I work for a senator in Obama’s administration, toiling to avert climate change and secure the future for our children and their pet dolphins. Yeah well, I bury hamsters in dirt and knock their heads off with golf clubs, you optically superior prat.
Yankee Banker came to the rescue with a large glass of something pink and cold, ducking my accusing glare. Honestly. How hard would it have been for him to pay a homeless man to bring his urine-stained, cardboard box hovel up to the apartment for two days, and then introduce him as his boyfriend? He could’ve even let the homeless man’s dog shit in the bathroom sink and left it there for authenticity. I wouldn’t have cared; I’d just have washed my hands around it. Anything would have been preferable to knowing I’d been upgraded, or even that such a thing was possible.
The next day things went from bad to worse. Captain Planet was so nice he made time in his busy schedule to give me a backstage tour of Capitol Hill, starting at the senate office where he worked. Ugh, hot and considerate; what a creep. I arrived to find a long queue of school brats blocking the entrance so I settled in to wait, only for Captain Planet to appear and VIP me in. Humph. Quite cool. Still a prat.
We whizzed through the marbled Senate offices and then downstairs to a reception area where a hapless maid greeted us. Captain Planet turned the charm onto full beam and explained to the bedazzled lass that although it wasn't protocol he had a meeting with Mr W in room 312 but had forgotten to book it and was there any chance it was free for us to use and my goodness, he liked her hair today. She wilted. I was impressed. Prat though. Focus on the prat.
Through a security pat-down and along a white shiny tunnel, and I was only now wondering where the fuck we were going. Why were we in the basement and not arriving by car convoy to a brass band? Where was Obama, and why hadn’t he bought me a puppy yet? Why was there a set of train tracks up ahead? And here, a small 8-car train up with no driver? What was this, some kind of fucking James Bond movie?
And actually yes, yes it was. We stepped off the miniature platform into the leading carriage, the doors automatically closed and we were off, whisked from the Senate administrative buildings into the heart of Capitol Hill on a secret underground train. I kid you not. It was the coolest fucking thing I have ever seen. Suddenly I was Dr Evil shuttling towards my underground lair, and Captain Planet my diabolical accomplice Mini Me. Although he resented me stroking his head in that fashion.
The rest of the Capitol Hill tour passed in a blur of history and dark corridors. As we left through the main entrance into the glorious sunshine Captain Planet pointed to the “Room 312” tag I had been wearing since the train. Whereas once it was white it was now navy blue, the numerals nearly impossible to read. “It self-destructed in the sunlight to prevent re-entry,” he explained.
I accepted defeat. This man was too brilliant not to love, with his spectacles and his secret spyware and his cute ass. The Yankee Banker was a fortunate man, and as I watched them over dinner that night I hoped they’d be together so long they'd have a chance to share dentures as well as Prada sunglasses. The lucky bastards.
Thursday, 3 December 2009
I had once thought that this would be my last entry. One final chapter to neatly wrap up my story of loveless questing for Mr Right, a happily-ever-after ending to validate all the drunken fumblings, public nudity and revealing the depths of my homosexual depravity to my immediate family. Uncle Robert, if you’re out there, this one’s for you.
No, there will be no fairytale endings in this blog. Prince Charming will not be galloping out of the sunset in a lacy shirt astride his bucking stallion, because quite frankly that is fucking dull. Unless it’s “Prince Charming Rides His Bucking Stallion III” in HD surround sound, which is anything by dull.
Instead I proffer a tale of a budding young romance set amidst the delicate blossoms of a London spring, a romance flush with hope for a new world of candlelit dinners and joint bank accounts, a romance that I fucked up by thinking “ooooh, if I can just make this work out it would make a brilliant ending to my blog.”
It all started one fine March morning as I stood in the Salad Man’s queue, waiting for my usual bucket of health for lunch. For £2.70 the Salad Man will give you a tub of olives, couscous, carrots, feta, sun-dried tomatoes and chickpeas so big it has developed sentient life. To put that in perspective, £2.70 in London will usually buy you a postcard of Lady Di and a punch in the face, so the Salad Man was always busy.
On this particular occasion none of my work colleagues had come with me so I was whiling away the queue time with my favourite hobby; Perving On The Unsuspecting. Pickings were slim that Friday, and after the horrorshow of mentally undressing a man who turned out to be seventy I settled for admiring the tailored coat of the man two ahead of me.
What a lovely subtle pattern. Such a clever collar trim. Selfridges? No, Liberty’s surely. A great cut. Fits perfectly over those broad shoulders. Excellent tailoring in the body too; the shape emphasises that toned, muscular chest and waist. Oh, he’s turning his head into profile, and I say! that ain’t bad either. Hmmmm, forget the salad; break off a chunk of the Coat Contents for daddy.
Such was the depth of my anorak admiration that I wasn’t even put off when he opened his mouth and addressed one of the Salad Girls in the dulcet tones of America. Rather, I waited until it was my turn to be served and – under the pretext of confirming that yes, I was having the same salad I have had every single day since 2006 – I nipped ahead and planted myself beside Coat Contents. I took a deep breath and prepared to deliver the best opening line since "if I could rearrange the alphabet I would put U and I together."
HW: “My god, are you having the LARGE salad box? That’s an epic eat. Respect.” Yes, I actually said ‘respect’. I am Tony Blair circa 2004.
Coat Contents: “Yep, I get it most days. I love this salad bar.” Amazingly, speaking back.
HW: “Me too, although I sometimes find it a bit repetitive so I like to spice mine up with some smoked haddock back at the office.” Oh yes, take notes dating underlings. There’s nothing like imagining someone with a smelly, oily North Sea fish stuffed into their gob to crank up the sexual frisson.
And so it continued. Coat Contents took his salad and waited for me to get mine, and then we stood around awkwardly while he established that yes, I worked locally and yes, I also ate salmon, skate, cod, trout, barramundi and perch. Strangely he seemed unwilling to end this most educational of marine conversations. I weighed this against an estimation of the damage his clenched homophobic fist could do to my pretty-boy face, steadied myself on the vat of potato salad and asked for his phone number.
Coat Content’s face broadened into a fantastic grin. He reached into his wallet and pullet out his business card. I did the same and we exchanged like some dreadful 20th century cliché. If only we’d done this 200 years earlier, we’d have had servants in wigs to carry our monogrammed cards to each other on silver trays and lend the moment an air of majesty. As it was I discretely wiped the humus off mine and hoped he wouldn’t notice.
Relief at having my teeth intact mingled with a sudden sense of achievement. I had just successfully hit on a cute man in a well-lit public place, without the assistance of alcohol, Straight Best Friend or Kylie! Truly I was a dating god.
A couple of risqué dates later and I had myself a bone fide boyfriend, and what a corker he was. While I nodded liked a labrador he’d describe Virginia Wolfe’s critical essays. While I gazed adoringly at his porno ‘tash he’d sketch arguments outlining Mozart’s compositional superiority. And while he read The Economist over breakfast I’d sit and think “when we get married this is what our breakfasts will be like every single day for the next seventy years until finally we die like Romeo and Juliet but horribly wasted and decrepit clutching each other in an embrace of enduring love.”
Sure there were difficulties. Sleeping together on those warm spring evenings, I’d lie awake and think “OK HW, just breath, it’s OK, don’t stress about this… It’s OK if he wants to sleep underneath a sub-arctic doona while the windows are closed in this heat. It’s OK that he has a fan running all night on high, it’s electric motor powered by coal-fired stations that are pumping out CO2 while the planet burns. No no, it’s OK because he LIKES THE SOOTHING WHIRR it makes. Breathe. Breathe the refreshing cooling air.”
But whatever issues I had with Coat Contents I always forgave him because knock me sideways to Christmas if the boy couldn’t actually kiss. Over the past seven years of having British men fondle my tonsils, plunge my tongue and suck out my oesophagus I’d forgotten how a real kiss is undertaken. Not with the express aim of eating your head, but with gentleness, passion and a tic tac.
Sadly, the good times were doomed not to last. After three months Coat Contents decided that things weren’t working out for him, and threw my heart into the trash alongside the articles on climate change I’d discretely cut out and left on his pillow. Yes, that’s right, imagine the horror; he couldn’t even be bothered to recycle. My heart went straight to landfill. That’s Americans for you.
Still, there are some pearls of wisdom in this cautionary tale. Number one, I learnt that years of internet dating, set-ups, one-night-stands, drunken touch-ups and dirty eye contacting had so reduced my self-respect that I could now happily hit on strangers in the glare of the noonday sun. Brilliant. Number two, I learnt that not all men who frequent salad bars are tofu-munching homosexuals, but if you’re lucky they might be. And thirdly I learnt that happily ever afters are the remit of dwarves, men in tights and stepmothers in drag, and thus have no place in any self-respecting gay man’s life.
Until the next time of course.