Friday, November 30, 2001

It's obviously the day for emails about the company Christmas party.

I've just received ours:

'This year's party is fancy dress and the theme is porn. Don't panic. This doesn't mean you have to wear a gimp suit and strap a dildo to your head (as Sam is planning).

Porn is actually quite a broad genre so use your imagination. You may want to come as a pimp, a nurse or even a postman. Some of you might even like to dress as animals.

Basically think 70s boogie nights and glam it up!

Oh, now this should be FUN... [rubs hands together with evil glee...]

Are you a child of the '80s? Do you spend far too much time doing online quizzes?

Then this lot should be just about heaven on earth. Or at least while away a few end-of-Friday moments while you're waiting to go home.

If we're working on the 'no pain, no gain' theory of gym-going, then right now I had better be seriously gaining...

Still, that's all the hard work done for the week, it's Friday, I've finally been paid, and the weekend promises to be fantastic - what with catching up with some very good friends, loads of time with the bf, much partying at Heaven, the Vauxhall Tavern, a party in Soho, and DTPM all to look forward to. I have a feeling I could be somewhat the worse for wear by the time I next come to post.

Y'all have great weekends now, y'hear?

Thursday, November 29, 2001

If you're in the UK, and happen to enjoy Ab-Fab type humour, then you must catch What Not To Wear on BBC2 next week. It's a fashion makeover show whereby two snooty-nosed 'fashion experts', named Trinny and Susannah (no, really) try to re-style a drab member of the public, by taking her shopping and coming out with - in their best Joanna Lumley voices - things like:
'Trust me darling, you must Never. Wear. A pleat.'
'I told her to go for a low neck-line and what has she picked up? A high neck chunky knit!!'

It's camp, it's bitchy, it's utterly superficial - but it's very, very funny.

Arrrghhh!!! I'm trapped in megamix hell!!!

Not thirty minutes ago, on the radio, the mix currently doing the rounds whereby someone has spliced together all the songs from Madonna's new Greatest Hits album into one so-called 'megamix'. Why, why, why do people feel the need to do this? There you are, just getting into 'Deeper and Deeper' and it suddenly goes all 'Erotica' on your ass - and just as you're starting to enjoy that, off it goes again, being all 'Frozen'.

Has anyone, anywhere, ever heard a 'megamix' that wasn't completely, utterly pap - and infinitely less than the sum of even one of its constituent parts? I think not. Even the 'Rick's Hit Mix' on the back of one of my most prized Rick Astley 12" singles (I was, perhaps shamefully, a major Rick wannabe - had the haircut and everything. But not the famous 'hedgehog' jacket) is just, plainly, bollocks.

And now, now, they're doing it to Prince!!

I can't cope.

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Text message of the day:

'Flashing antlers with tinsel harnesses held on silver reins by Santa. Dare ya !? xxx'

Phil, of course, with a suggestion for The Fridge's christmas party. The sad thing is, you just know I'll do it.

One day, we'll go out in normal clothes, like normal people. One day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Some blogs I have been reading today, in no particular order, for no particular reason, but I kinda liked 'em.

Johnny A Go Go
Bald Sarcasm

The guestbook's back - so feel free to sign it, or use it as a comments facility until I get one set up, should you be so inclined. Pics on the way too soon - no, really, I mean it this time!

...and you know you've been spending too much time with Phil when you see the Evening Standard seller's display board with the headline 'HANDCUFFS FOR BRITISH PLANE SPOTTERS' and your first thought is: "Ooh, free gifts!"

It turns out to refer to this story, whereby 12 British and 2 Dutch people have been arrested in Greece, ostensibly because they have been mistaken for spies whilst 'plane spotting'.

There has of course been uproar from the families concerned, but am I alone in thinking that people who would travel all the way to Greece purely to jot down the names and models of passing aircraft, really ought to be locked up, for everyone's sake?

Never mind the dangers of drug addiction, what about the evils of those who peddle the so-called 'Fruit Shortcake' biscuit? I've just had approximately thirteen and yet here I am, irrational, unable to focus on my work, tetchy, and still craving the next fix.

These people must be stopped.

Bit of a whirlwind weekend really, which are always the best kind.

Although Saturday night didn't get off to too good a start, with a random goose-chase around London, from home to a party in Russell Square, and to a flat in Tulse Hill, in a recently-crashed car, trapped with a really irritating Austrian on speed, who was therefore incapable of shutting up despite the remaining passengers' total lack of interest in his inane chatterings. Which sadly meant I also had to pass up my first opportunity to drop into a gay(ish) blogmeet at the Retro Bar, which I'm sure would have been interesting - next time, I hope!

But eventually we made it, dressed appropriately of course, to Love Muscle's Leather and Denim Party (which rocked) - on to a great chill-out party in Clapham, back to Kelvin's, and waking up at 4pm, just in time to jump on the train back to Vauxhall for one of the best Dame Edna shows for weeks, and finally home, happy, high and, frankly, horny, about 1am on Monday morning.

God, I love weekends. Now if we could just do something about these pesky week things in between...

Monday, November 26, 2001

You know you've been up to no good at the RVT for too long when complete strangers tap you on the shoulder and say things like: 'Not getting tied up tonight, then?'

As if I'd do a thing like that. Not this week, at least.

Although that's not to say it was a night of entirely good behaviour, on the subject of which I can only say that my seemingly sweet-and-innocent boyfriend is, in fact, increasingly A Bad Influence.

We like that.

Saturday, November 24, 2001

I guess this is what happens when you write a post about looking for a pair of football socks...

From: Support
Date: 23 November 2001 03:52
Subject: Our Socks Are On Fire

Subscribe to SockStuff Quarterly Magazine and save more than 41% off the cover price of $25!

Each issue of SockStuff Magazine is a fascinating chronicle of the erotic gay escapades involving Foot and Sock fetishes, with EXCLUSIVE SockStuff trademark fantasies.

It's either just coincidence, or direct marketing people are reading this and trying to sell me things they think I need. With this in mind, I'm looking forward to receiving 'Special Offers on Chastity Belts!' and 'Reduced-Rate Breaks At The Betty Ford Clinic!', if they're paying attention...

Yet another birthday last night, this time my colleague Cherry's, at the roman-themed Millennium Bar in Covent Garden. Which was a lot of fun, and always interesting to see what so many of the people I work with are like outside of work (the ones slumped drunkenly over a table, the unexpectedly-lecherous ones, the ones who've clearly just ingested half of Colombia...) - it was almost like the office christmas party come early.

And for some reason, I'm sure I had the same conversation at least three times with different people, all suddenly wanting to know about the differences between gay and straight dating.
'So is it like, really easy just to meet people and have sex?'
'You mean you don't even have to get to know each other first?'
'Must make it really difficult to stay faithful to someone, if it's that available?'

Well, yes to all three. It is that easy - all too easy sometimes. I think it's fair to say as a gay man, provided you've got a pulse and everything else in reasonable working order - and you certainly don't need to be an Adonis - sex is pretty damn easy to come by. At least here in London, and most other major cities. Even if you're as hopeless as me at chatting people up in bars or clubs, there are plenty of other options where the formality of actually making conversation first is entirely unnecessary. You don't have to take them to dinner, they don't have to buy you stuff, you don't have to wait until the third date - frankly if a guy hasn't slept with you by the third date you strongly suspect that he's not actually gay at all.

Which has its plus points, but also its downsides - yes, it can make it difficult to develop anything more meaningful, and it can make monogamy, well, that little bit more of a challenge. The reactions of those quizzing me about all this last night though, were much as you might expect. From the straight girls: amazement that it could all be so straightforward and readily available. From the straight guys: jealousy ;-)

Straight girls, naked boys...

A thoroughly enjoyable night of birthday celebrations for the other 'arf on Thursday, which began with approximately twenty of us drinking far too much at the Duke of Wellington in Soho, before heading around the corner to see Naked Boys Singing at Madame Jo Jo's in Soho, which, well, does exactly what it says on the tin. They're naked boys. They sing. And it's very funny.

And yes, inevitably you can't help looking, well, 'there' - but it's interesting how after about five minutes you simply don't even notice, with only the lyrics of the (very good) songs like 'Gratuitous Nudity' and 'I Beat My Meat' (involving steaks being flattened with a mallet, of course...) reminding you that they're nude. Although we also derived some fun trying to work out which of the six cast, er, members, was the token straight man - a question which was answered later on, chatting to this guy from the cast in Bar Code.

Somewhere along the way there was also a fair amount of champagne drinking (Greg's influence, as ever..) at The Yard, and now, while I'm not entirely unaccustomed to finding random phone numbers or business cards in my pockets the morning after a night out, it's normally a safe bet they're going to be from a guy. Not on this occasion - although, despite the vague memory I have of there being requests to feel the would-be pecs (which I can only put down to the effect of so much naked male flesh earlier in the evening...), I'm sure it was purely that I'm supposed to call so she can join us at Love Muscle tonight. I think?

Thursday, November 22, 2001

Happy Birthday Kelvin!

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Not much goin' on with me this week, so some bits and bobs of London news, mostly courtesy of the Evening Standard (and partly because they shouted me to a legendarily-good steak and chips yesterday, which, so far, has been the week's highlight. Yes, it's been that exciting).

S Club 7 switch on the Oxford St christmas lights
'...which are the same design as last year because the twinkling white lights and snowflake design proved so popular with shoppers.'
Not, then, because it's a whole load cheaper to just dig out last year's. Oh no. I'm slightly at a loss to grasp the fuss made of the Oxford St lights, which even after major improvements last year are still outclassed by plenty of high streets around the UK. Ditto Regent Street. Much better though, are St. Christopher's Place (next to Selfridges), and even Carnaby Street, which this year rejoices under bizarre giant neon balls. Odd, but somehow quite good.

Police Chief In Sensible Drugs Policy Shocker!
'There are a whole range of people who buy drugs...cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy, who buy those drugs with money that they have earned legitimately. They use a small amount of these drugs, a lot of them just at weekends. It has no adverse effect on the rest of the people they are with...or within the wider community, and they go back to work on Monday morning and are unaffected for the rest of the week.' says Lambeth Borough Commander Brian Paddick, apparently the sole person in authority to realise that Scotland Yard's current plan to tackle London's crack and heroin problem by automatically prosecuting anyone caught with even one ecstasy tablet is rather like trying to get drunks off the street by targeting anyone who enjoys the odd glass of wine with their Sunday lunch.

Although I'm not sure about the 'unaffected for the rest of the week' - has he seen me on a Tuesday??

Prince William spotted at university foam party?
Is it William in the picture? Do we care? It's not even a proper foam party. They've got clothes on and everything. Pah. And today it turns out it isn't anyway. Definite contender for Most Rubbish News Story Of The Week.

Jonathan King gets a criminal record
...which will be a change from making them, then (sorry, I've just been possessed by Angus Deayton's scriptwriter).

So there you have it. And now over to the weather.

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Ok, so in the interests of positivity, I'm not going to talk about my car opting to break down on Friday night, somewhere in a remote and unknown Oxfordshire location - or the horror of discovering the family gathering I thought was on Saturday afternoon was actually on Sunday afternoon, thus putting paid to attending Nigel's birthday bash in Hampstead, and damn near ruining my weekend.

But, with a hefty dose of determination, and to the excitement of speed cameras everywhere, somehow by 5.30pm I had made it back to London, back to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, and I can honestly say I have never been so relieved to walk through those hallowed portals, back to normality, back to a place where people actually have, like, fun. Of course, by the time I walked back out at around 11.30pm I can honestly say I have never been so utterly, utterly trashed, but hey, that's what Sundays are for...

Monday, November 19, 2001

There may not be much blogging today, owing to the policy I have of trying to keep this site free of whinges and moans, no matter how bad a day I'm having.

So, when I find something about today that doesn't suck like a great big sucking thing that's just won 'Sucker of the Week' on Suck FM, I'll get back to you.

Meanwhile, go see my new linkees akafrankgreen and hermione, they'll be much more fun...

Friday, November 16, 2001

I'm getting palpitations already. For the second weekend in a row, I will be departing my beloved metropolis - but this time, not for the gallic grandeur of Paris, but the glamour of, er, Gloucester. Like, in the country. Bleurgh.

Which means a long-ish drive tonight, during which I'll have to go past, like, villages, and 'ye olde farm shoppes', and little country cottages with dodgy home-made signs outside saying 'Freshly Layed Egg's £1 dozen' or some such illiteracy (I mean, what's wrong with you people? Why do you think the good lord gave us Tesco's? What kind of weirdo drives to someone's house just to buy eggs?) And no doubt I will, at least three times, get stuck behind a tractor and/or horse box, which will be painfully slow and/or smell.

Still, gotta be done. Family obligations and all that - numerous family birthdays, and since come Christmas I'll be reclining with a chilled glass of champagne on a beach in the Canaries, it's also the only opportunity I'll have to deliver the assorted presents (yes, I have done my Christmas shopping already, and yes, it's freaking me out too. Normally I'm strictly a December 23rd person).

Back Sunday though, to breathe heavy sighs of relief at the Vauxhall Tavern, provided I haven't been swallowed up into some hideous provincial nightmare and forced to spend the remainder of my weekends trawling garden centres, believing that corduroy is an acceptable fabric, and seeing nothing wrong with floral wallpaper...

Just a quick note to Destiny's Child, who I know are regular readers. We like 'Emotion', but please, pick a note and just sing it. You don't need to try out fifteen alternatives for each one before you finally settle on it.

And you can stop smirking, Mariah...

Thursday, November 15, 2001

Good grief. That Carol Vorderman gets everywhere, doesn't she? And now she's all over blogging, in The Mirror - which you can read right here... (via iamcal)

'Isn't there something a little odd about sharing your most intimate moments with the wired world?' she asks.

Just the issue I've been trying to get my head around this week, for various reasons. Which, to cut a long story short, has resulted in the somewhat slimmed-down archives you may have noticed, and the fact that, well, I'm gonna start distinguishing more carefully between what belongs in a private diary where it can't hurt anyone, and what's fair game for the public domain.

Apologies in advance if this makes for dull reading - but on the bright side, it sounds to me like carte blanche to be even more shallow and trivial than usual. Hurrah!

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Top Five Things About Parisians Which Are True:

1. It is unacceptable to wear anything other than black. 99% of Parisians are dressed entirely in black, and those who aren't receive funny looks and are pointed at in the street.

2. Yes, it is compulsory to smoke. No exceptions.

3. Parisians are not rude. Provided you make even the slightest effort to speak their language, however mangled, you'll find them as friendly and welcoming as you could hope for. More so, in some cases.

4. That is, unless they are an official of some kind, seated behind a counter in a post office, bank or similar. In which case you can regale them with the entire works of Moliere, perfectly enunciated and with props, and still not raise a smile. The woman who resolutely refused to look up from her book while answering customers' queries at the Museum of Modern Art is a prime example.

5. Nobody carries a string of onions around their neck whilst wearing a stripy jumper and riding a bicycle. That's Brittany, where it remains compulsory.

6. If a shop doesn't sell bags, it will sell shoes. If it sells neither, you're not in a shop at all. Get out of the bakery before you have that 34th croissant.

7. Yes, that is six. Sue me.

And here endeth Paris week, I promise!

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Did I mention how much I love Paris? Ah, just the once or twice, yes.

Nearly didn't make it at all thanks to the vagaries of London's buses holding Kelvin up, but once on board the Eurostar it was plain, er, sailing, into Gare du Nord and down to the Hotel Central - which I'd fully expected to be the campest hotel in the world, what with it being Paris' only gay hotel, and having a proprietor called 'Fabrice' - we were thinking pink duvets and rainbow towels galore. Which wasn't far off the mark (well, pink walls at least), but turned out to be a good choice, very welcoming, sooo quaint (as I believe a tourist would say) and handily located right among all the bars of Le Marais for easy stumbling home.

Friday afternoon comprised a lazy lunch at the Open Cafe (a new arrival since my last visit) and a trip to the top of the Pompidou Centre, chiefly for the great views across the city, but also briefly taking in the Musee National d'Art Moderne, if for no other reason than to be able to claim we at least did something cultural that didn't involve alcohol.

Culture out of the way, it was time to hit the bars. Starting with, for old times' sake, My First Ever Gay Bar (available at all good toy shops, from Mattel!), the venue formerly known as Le Subway. Which is now home to 'Le Sun Cafe' - a rather unusual venue which is undoubtedly the product of someone thinking: 'Ok, gay men - they like bars, they like sunbeds - let's have a bar with sunbeds in it!' Which, bizarrely, is what it is - bar on the ground floor, sunbeds in the basement. God, all it needs is an IKEA on the first floor and nobody would ever leave...

From there to the busy Amnesia Cafe, and on to Le Quetzal, located appropriately enough at the end of Rue des Mauvais Garcons (Bad Boys' Street). Traditionally one of the busiest and cruisiest Marais bars, but being fairly quiet I rather suspect it's been superceded by the newer Cafe Cox, where we headed next, and probably the liveliest and most enjoyable of the bunch. Not to mention home to possibly the world's most flirtatious barmen, who appear to insist on mentally undressing you at least three times before serving you (maybe that's why it's so popular...) - Kelvin even returned from the bar at one point with free drinks we'd been given on the grounds the barman liked his nipples. Hey! Hands off - I have exclusive rights on those!!

Saturday: it's actually illegal under Homosexual Law to visit Paris without going shopping, so shop we did, and very successfully too - good grief, I even managed to get four (four!) t-shirts. This is something of a triumph when you consider that under normal circumstances my inability to buy shirts is second only to my inability to keep them on.

After that, Chatelet, the Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, crepes, the gorgeous Rue Mouffetard (tiny bistros and shops for miles) - where the red wine started to flow at around 5pm. And continued through drinks with a friend and colleague of Kelvin's at Le Dome in Saint-Paul. And continued well into the night, to most of the aforementioned bars and several others, eventually winding up at Le Depot at around 1am, which Time Out describes as 'a colossal disco sin-bin'. They're not kidding.

On the ground floor, a reasonable-sized dancefloor, pretty decent house music, and go-go dancers, much like any club of its kind - busy, enjoyable, but by no means packed. Which, you soon discover, is because everyone is downstairs, in the vast, winding, and thoroughly confusing labyrinth of passageways, dark rooms, and, ahem, darkrooms. Buried somewhere within which is another smaller dancefloor, rather livelier than the first, complete with video screens which seemed to specialise in a type of film I'm dubbing 'Implausible Garden Furniture Porn'. It was all:
'Blimey, that deckchair's never going to stand up to that...'
'That sunlounger's going to give way any minute...'
'Ooh, look, now they're on a hammock!'

Much fun though, much dancing (yes, of course we stayed on the dancefloor the whole time. Well, nearly...), though we didn't make it quite as far as the 8am closing time, the vast quantities of alcohol having taken their toll...

Sunday: a lazy breakfast at the bistro opposite our hotel, followed by visits to Sacre-Coeur, St Michel (the Latin Quarter), more of Le Marais, and in the evening, dinner at a gorgeous old restaurant Kelvin had secretly booked for us, the old romantic (he was just so adorable all weekend, as ever - there aren't many people I could spend every waking minute with for four days without even the slightest argument, but already I'm kinda sad I won't get to see him now until Sunday - god this is getting serious!) Followed by further partying, of course...

And back to London yesterday, thoroughly exhausted, but thoroughly happy. And planning the next trip already...

Monday, November 12, 2001

Back from Paris. And a truly perfect weekend, more details of which tomorrow no doubt but right now I need to be horizontal. Again.

'WildTop' is not, as first impression might have it, a refugee from the aforementioned Gaydar, but the sender of this:

From: WildTop
Date: 11 November 2001 11.35
Subject: Ice Rescue


I found your email address on your website at

Regarding the site, you might be interested in my invention "Ice boat and a car top storage combination".

The winter's first ice is already skimming lakes and ponds and with it comes ice tragedy season. I invented this boat to be used effectively for Ice rescue.

Ah yes. You've clearly picked up on that falling-through-ice-while-fishing fear that I have. Very intuitive.

Thursday, November 08, 2001

Questions In A World Of Blue - just because it's one of my favourite David Lynch/Julee Cruise songs too.

Anyway, definitely off now, I got A Real Indication of some packing comin' on...

My second venture out into the Paris nightlife was equally memorable, for different reasons. Armando, who’d already been in Paris several weeks on an exchange from California, volunteered to show me round on a bar crawl of Le Marais, to which I readily agreed of course…

Which began at Le Duplex, a tiny, art-themed bar on the north side of Le Marais where you’d tend to find writers, artists, and anyone else who felt themselves a little too ‘intellectual’ for the thrust of the more boisterous bars. Including the rather lecherous architect-in-a-black-polo-neck (is there any other kind?) who I had to, quite literally, run away from on a later occasion. But, despite that, it rapidly became a regular starting point for our nights out, by virtue of its relaxed ambience, ease of getting to the bar, and being small enough to find each other instantly.

From there, it was on to Le Piano Zinc, a real Paris institution, wherein you’d find possibly the world’s tiniest bar upstairs, and downstairs every night, local singers (or anyone who wanted to have a go) would take to the microphone alongside the eponymous piano and sing their hearts out, to the chansons of Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf et al, to an appreciative and, more often than not, participative audience.

Which sounds potentially excruciating, but was, due to the sheer talent and infectious enthusiasm of most of the performers, thoroughly entertaining.

And there, sitting at the bar, watching the show, a vision. Kinda smartly dressed, wavy dark hair, the most piercing blue eyes and one hell of a smile – now, I always picture him as looking like Joseph Fiennes in Shakespeare in Love, but then, I just thought he was the most stunning looking guy I’d ever laid eyes on.

So I was more than somewhat surprised when, on the way to our next port of call, (Le Subway again), Armando said to me:
‘Did you see that guy at the bar?’
‘Which one? The really gorgeous one – to our left a bit? Yeah of course I noticed him!’
‘He was checking you out the whole time.’
‘He was not!’
‘Didn’t you see he kept looking over?’
‘No way….’
‘No really, he was!’

This went on for some considerable time, but a couple more drinks, and a couple more bars later, we went back to Le Piano Zinc. He was still there. And this time there was definite eye contact. And smiling. And more eye contact. And more.

Which, finally, resulted in him coming over and enquiring as to whether I spoke French (I still cringe to remember how, at that same moment, I involuntarily picked up my jacket, like he’d just said ‘Get yer coat, you’ve pulled’ or something – god that must have looked cheap!). Fortunately, at that time my French was considerably better than it is now - witness the slow progress of my attempts to book a hotel room the other week - so conversation was reasonably easy, or as easy as it ever is in that kind of situation (numerous bieres blondes had helped) so I soon found out he was Adrien, a year older than me at 22, and a part-time security guard when he wasn’t studying literature at The Sorbonne.

Armando was busy chatting with some fellow Americans by this point, so we said our goodbyes, and went, ostensibly, for a walk – but one which I was rather happy to find let to Adrien’s studio flat, seven floors up, right in the heart of Le Marais (and almost directly opposite where we’ll be staying this weekend).

The rest I don’t think I need to document – you’ve got imaginations. Let’s just say no stereotypes about French men were contradicted that night…

And suffice to say I practically floated through the streets the next morning, stopping only to grab a croissant for breakfast, on the way back to the (rather less romantic) Universite de Paris X.

That was just the first two of many, many pretty damn incredible nights and days that spring – so, unsurprisingly, I’m rather happy to be going back, even if it is just for four days. Paris, officially, rocks.

So, I'm outta here - blogging unlikely for next few days, back Tuesday, have damn good weekends y'hear?

Wednesday, November 07, 2001

Blogs re-organised alphabetically. The disorder was offending my Libran sensibilities.

That is all.

'So do you remember all the things you were saying to me on the train home on Sunday night?' asks Kelvin on the phone last night.

'' I reply (to be honest, due to alcohol consumption and pharmaceutical indulgence I didn't even remember that we got the tube home together, and had been wondering up to this point why we'd left at different times...)

'Haha, I'll have to remind you at an appropriate time...'

Now I'm intrigued - although not really too worried. Some people, when intoxicated, get aggressive, violent, or abusive. With me it's entirely the reverse, suddenly I love everyone and will probably tell them so (cue confused expressions from the guy in the kebab shop I frequent post-Vauxhall Tavern) become over-friendly and usually downright flirtatious (some would say 'slut', but it's so, ahem, not true...).

So I've probably just declared undying love or something trivial like that.

Guess I'll find out in Paris over the weekend though. Which I'm really looking forward to now - four days in my other favourite city.

It's largely thanks to Paris that I now live in London, if that makes any sense at all. The six months I lived there as a student, in the first half of 1995, were more than enough to expose 'living in the country' (as I'd done for the previous 21 years) for the contradiction in terms it undoubtedly is, and convince me that capital city life was most definitely where I wanted to be.

For the first time, there were shops where you could buy anything, every conceivable kind of restaurant, bar and cafe, beautiful places, famous places, nefarious places, places filled with opportunity, places to discover - and all of them filled with every kind of people. AlI I had to do was jump on a Metro train and pick where I wanted to experience that day. Armed with little more than a travel pass and plenty of free time, finally I had the opportunity to enjoy a real, live, city and well, some real life.

So little wonder I fell in love with the place. It helps of course, that all the cliches about Paris - beautiful, charming, bohemian - turned out to be entirely true.

The freedom of being away from home and in a big city also gave me the chance to experience this 'gay scene' I'd wondered so much about, but had never encountered in the closet I'd only escaped from six months earlier.

So I'd surreptitiously perused the 'Gay and Lesbian' pages of a friend's Time Out guide, and mentally noted down a few addresses. 'Le Subway' (since renamed) sounded like one of the less intimidating bars, where a tourist might not feel completely out of place - so one February evening I headed off to Le Marais, Paris' charmingly village-like neighbourhood which also doubles as the gay district.

And round and round I walked. Past 'Le Subway' at least fifteen times, but without daring to go in. The windows were tinted so you couldn't see in - what would I find in there? what were you supposed to wear? would everyone laugh at what I was wearing? what if everyone stopped and pointed when I walked in? wouldn't I stick out like a sore thumb on my own with no-one to talk to?

It seems ridiculous now, but I was as nervous as hell. And hence walked the streets for an hour and a half, up and down Rue Ste Croix de la Bretonnerie, where our hotel for this weekend is located, and Paris' nearest equivalent to Old Compton Street here in Soho.

Eventually, courage summoned, and having worn the pavement thin, I went in. And found, of course, a perfectly ordinary bar, with perfectly ordinary people, having a perfectly ordinary drink. Phew. The bar staff smiled, either at my less-than-perfect French or my obvious nervousness - I couldn't tell which - but the atmosphere was friendly, yeah slightly cruisy, but intimidating, no.

And before long, my obvious Britishness had alerted my presence to a couple of British and American guys - Iain and Armando (who went on to become a very good friend throughout my time there) who came over to chat and wow, I had, like, gay friends!

Since which time, there has of course, been no looking back... ;-)

Tuesday, November 06, 2001

Gratuitous eye candy time.

I don't like football quite like Jonathan likes football, but if there were more like Kevin Phillips, well, there'd be a lot to like...

My name is Dave Young, I'm a 28-year-old man, and I LOVE the new S Club 7 record.

There, said it.

It's under control. I'm only 44% blogaholic. Although by posting this I've probably just gone up another point. And cheers to Molly for the link. Damn, another point!

Monday, November 05, 2001

Y'see there's the Seventh Circle of Hell. And then, just below that, there's Argos, the catalogue shop. Wherein the normal method of shopping (find item you want, take to till and pay, leave) is replaced by: hover expectantly waiting for there to be a catalogue free, search through idiosyncratic index for item, locate it on page, see if it's actually in stock, take item number on bit of paper and queue to pay, then go to another counter and queue for an indefinite period to collect said item.

A process which on Saturday took me thirty whole minutes just to buy a simple beard trimmer (the goatee's staying put, but it's getting out of hand...), which, having finally got it home, is no use whatsoever. Which I would have known if I'd been able to see the sodding thing in the first place instead of looking at a sodding picture in a sodding catalogue!!

'Five different length settings!' it says on the box. Yeah, you have a choice of: 'Forgot-To-Shave-This-Morning' (setting 1), 'Father Time' (settings 2, 3 and 4) and 'God' (setting 5). Reaaally useful. You could use this in Afghanistan and the Taliban wouldn't execute you.

Which means I'll have to face taking it back, next time I have a free four hours to waste.

I fucking hate Argos like, so much.

Monday night. Ho-hum. Well, it's either this or the Channel 5 movie 'Addicted To Love', with Meg Ryan. In which apparently she pairs up with Matthew Broderick, who she doesn't like, they fight, they bicker, but eventually realise they were perfect for each other all along. God, that never happens in a Meg Ryan film...

Something I can relate to, big time. Maybe not right now, but all these thoughts have certainly kicked around my head from time to time - I just never put them into words this well...

Yet another top-notch Sunday night last night, much Vauxhall madness, complete with fireworks (ooh! aah!), and, oops, a reprise of mine and Phil's little performance, this time with added blindfolds (don't ask...) - god, there was practically applause - have we no shame??!

Also managed to fit in a flying visit to the Gaydar party down at The Fridge. Gaydar, for the uninitiated, is I guess what you'd call an 'instant dating' site (or alternatively 'online meat market') massively popular here in London although it doesn't really seem to have caught on as much anywhere else. And having been around for two years now, they decided to celebrate this by holding a one-off club night at Brixton's finest. Which could in theory have been quite entertaining, what with everyone trying to recognise each other only from their online profiles:
'Oh, so that's what you look like from the neck up!'
'Are you completeslapper214? Oh, sorry, must be someone else...'

We'd been lured by the promise of free guest list entry and free drink, so it kinda seemed rude to turn it down, but in the event, it seems most people had. So a very brief visit, just long enough to down the strongest vodka and cranberry known to man (how come they don't make the drinks like that when you're actually paying for them??!), and indulge in some gratuitous podium dancing before returning as hurriedly as possible to Vauxhall.

I guess there's something of a flaw in the logic of holding a great big party for a whole load of people who, er, normally prefer to remain anonymous. Hmmm.

Sunday, November 04, 2001

So now we know. Our flat is, officially, average.

Or at least, so say Enfield council. There was a national census here in the UK a few months ago, requiring every household to fill in a rather tedious form about their employment, dependents, yadayadayada. We duly filled it in, and now it seems we have been selected, for some unknown reason, to represent the 'typical household of twentysomething London professionals'. Ahem. Although, thinking about it, a neurotic woman and two gay men, working hard but permanently overdrawn, and getting through enough Chardonnay per week to flood a small country, probably is fairly representative.

So far though, our new-found status has just meant yet more questions, in the form of a council bloke who came round to interview Greg on Saturday (yours truly stayed suitably out of the way) - apparently it was all very straightforward although the guy looked rather disturbed by the pink puppy pants on the wall.

It's a responsibility though. Now, every decision is like:
'So do we go straight to Nik's party or stop off at Bar Code on the way?'
'Dunno - what would the typical twentysomething Londoner do?'
'Go to All Bar One and it would be horrible.'
'Good point.'

Pretty much a perfect Sunday. Waking up with Kelvin. Sunshine. Full fry-up for breakfast. Seriously good Eastenders omnibus. And the Vauxhall Tavern still to come. Fantastic.

And some surprise news over the weekend - I am to be an uncle!

Technically speaking it's top secret between my older sister and myself at the moment - she's waiting for a proper doctor's test before getting the rest of the family too excited, but it looks pretty definite. And I'm actually really touched to be the first to know.

Of course, being top secret I probably shouldn't be writing this but I'm fairly damn certain none of my family will have stumbled across this site - and if they have, somehow I think there'd be rather more to answer to than having blabbed about the bubba.

Am determined to be the Cool Uncle:

'Yeah, that's my Uncle Dave, he's got this reaaally cool flat in London, and goes all over the world, and gets me the best presents 'cos he's got this reaaally cool job and earns loads of money...'

Yeah, well, maybe in a few years' time...