Life in London

Life in London for a not-quite-middle-aged gay Australian guy. Oh, the glamour of it all!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hooray!! We’re uncles again.

  • Jack Connor was born on Tuesday 21st February at 13:40. Weighing in at a whopping 9lb 2oz. My brother and his wife are over the moon – as are my parents. Jack’s my brother's first boy, so now there’s someone to carry on the paternal family name, something I’ve obviously been quite conscious of. I’m sure my brother was too, and Dad.

  • Friday night we went down to Brighton's over the top Royal Pavilion to watch the 'Adult' pantomime ‘Babes in the Bushes’ with Stuie, Louise + Jo. To say it was dire would be being generous, it was full of racist drag-queens and in-jokes. We’d had enough by interval and left to go eat tapas and have a few drinks instead. I think we went to the 'R-bar', then another bigger bar, and someone decided we needed a dance, so we went to Revenge. It ended up being a fun night. We stayed the night at Louise and Jo’s and then had a late breakfast and sat around chatting. Louise and Jo were lucky enough to ride the Nineties London property boom, and have ‘downsized’ to a lovely 3-bedroom house in Brighton. Met one of the Pony’s primary school friends for lunch con partner and partner’s sister. After lunch we just wandered around Brighton, went to the pier - rode the ‘Crazy Mouse’ and played ‘Dolphin Derby’.

  • Sunday afternoon it rained. And rained. And rained. But only after we’d got to London’s literary Hampstead. So we popped into the King William for a pint and lunch – hoping it would stop. Instead we sat there and complained amongst ourselves about the crap service and how nice a pub it could be.
    We were only there for an hour or so, but when we left my eyes stung from the cigarette smoke for another 3 hours. Bring on the smoking ban I say – I can’t wait.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Islington - The New Shoreditch

Well Friday night wasn't as big as thought (or was I suppose). D and S pulled out of dinner, as D had to work - and he was afraid his willpower to resist clubbing would disappear after his first glass of wine. C + B pulled out too, as B was 'a bit fluey' (as we say in my family). So it was just M + O over for dinner, which was fun - it provided an opportunity to get to know them a bit better. We didn't go to a lot of trouble as we'd both had pretty hectic weeks at work - Pony assembled some antipasto and I made chicken lasagne (which later dried out - I was mortified).

But we had fun anyway, then went to Fiction, which was pretty good - met Matthew, M +O's friend there, and we ran into a clubbing acquaintanceJames ('You know, James with the large chest' - he is always referred to.). Anyway M + J 'became friends' in about 15 minutes, which was quite funny (in a sweet way), and we didn't see much more of them until they left the club.

We stayed at Fiction for while, then decided to leave to go to A:M (even though pony had made everyone swear on their lives they wouldn't let him go there). It wasn't too crowded, Stephen from Four Poofs and a Piano was there (we had been invited to his birthday drinks at the Groucho Club, but declined because we were entertaining - it was disappointing to have to turn down a chance to rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Apparently Lou Reed was there and some other A-lister, but I can't remember who Stephen said it was). Oh, and A:M have installed new lights, they are pretty amazing. Needless to say we got home quite late, and slept in Saturday.

Saturday was spent resting and enjoying a late breakfast. Giles ('You know, Giles with the large chest' (not to be confused with James)) rang to ask if we wanted to meet in Soho for a drink, but we politely declined his more than generous offer and instead opted for a night of Ice Dancing with the Stars (or something like that - I don't know what it's called - it's on ITV and I don't do ITV). But The Sound of Musicals was on BBC1 , so we watched that too (it was actually very good, even if I didn't know half the tunes - I haven't seen Billy Elliot, or The Lady in White or Phantom), then IDWTS, then the Ice Skating from Turin. Picking a pattern here? At least we refrained from marking the costumes.......

Stuie rang Sunday morning and so we met him and his new beau in Islington, at The Green, which we'd never been too before. It was a pretty good bar/cafe, very New Labour. We had a bite to eat (Steak Sandwich for me, Cheese Platter for Stuie, Burger for Pony), and a bottle of wine. Discussed our respective weeks/weekends with Stuie and beau, then decided to go for a drink at the Edward IV ('Reminds me of gay bars in Birmingham in 1992' the Pony said. Apparently it's just been repainted. Mauve and Royal Blue (or Purple). Whatever it was, it wasn't pleasant.) Very old Labour, it was full of people older than me, and smelt of air-freshener. Even the length of time it took us to drink the one drink we'd ordered there was too long to be there. We left the 8 plastic bowls of chips on the bar untouched.

The Pony decided we should move to Islington ( not because of the Edward IV, mind you.), so we spent 10 rainy minutes looking in estate agent's windows. Last month his favoured London locale was Shoreditch.

Went to another bar (I don't even remember the name of it - it was pretty forgettable) - which was empty - we had one drink there and returned to The Green. We had a couple of bottles of wine there - the DJ even spoke to the Pony (as he was clearly the only person to be seen enjoying a mid-70's disco track)
Got home to find out that Leo Sayer was #1 - it seems the Pony is not alone in his love of 70's disco.

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Friday, February 10, 2006

More Pics From Morocco

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

So here goes......

Well I suppose I have been thinking about starting a blog for a while, sort of so I don't have to keep sending the same emails to friends and family, and also a bit of a record of my thoughts. And it's not as if my partner of nine years, (hereafter referred to as Pony - I think he will like that name and I can always revert to his real name if he likes, or another non-de-plume), and I never do anything interesting, and I can write a little bit.

So well in fact that I got an A for English in my Victorian (the Australian state, not the era) HSC, that mark was then beaten by my (much) younger sister a few years later. Of course we all know that academic standards in the early 80s were much more rigorous those in the late eighties (and don't get me started on current education standards etc. etc. ). Pardon me for blowing my own trumpet, but I get that from my mother's side of the family.

Anyway, the Pony and I have been living in London, (St John's Wood to be exact, and no, it's not South Kilburn) now for almost 3 years, after 5 years in the lovely Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, and 18ish months in Rome. He's British (or English, although he'd probably prefer I wrote 'European'), I'm Australian, hence the tussle as to where we live. Not that either of us mind where we live, which is lucky for both of I suppose. I love London and the UK almost as much as I love Australia and Melbourne, maybe as much, but for different reasons - does that make sense?

So last Thursday the Pony and I and C (he) + B (she), (friends of ours, obviously - we don't tend to go on holiday with random strangers), flew to Marrakech for four days. We had a great time, stayed at Casa Lalla,(photo of us with Olivier, the the hotel's boxer above), a riad run by the painfully shy (at first we had thought he was aloof) Michelin-starred chef Richard Neat and his wife Sophie. We only had one meal there, although with hindsight we should have made it two. It was fantastic food, especially for the price. We also ate at Al Fassia, which was also very good - although apparently we should have ordered the shoulder of lamb studded with almonds (walnuts?). I am now trying to find a recipe for that, because of course I'll be able to cook their signature dish much better than they possibly could. And we were very happy when we discovered Al Fassia was licensed to sell alcohol after our guidebook said it wasn't (It's not like me to obsess about wine and food, at all. Actually, we walked for an hour the next day to buy wine from a shop for our Richard Neat meal - Moroccan wine, but not too bad either - high praise from a sortof wine-snob).

The rest of our four-day weekend was spent wandering (read getting lost in) the souks, drinking the very sweet mint tea (It grows on you - but in a good way), eating tagines and speaking very bad French (me, not the pony - he is 'fluent' in four languages (read two, and can get by in two)). Oh, and screaming and running whenever a snakecharmer tried to deposit a snake anywhere near us (that was the Pony - he hates anything creepy crawly and does scream a bit). I feel a bit guilty because we didn't get around to visiting any tombs, palaces or mosques (but we were told mosques were off-limits), but we enjoyed ourselves anyway which is more important (is it?).

The Pony and I were also disappointed because we were only approached by one male prostitute (Morocco is notorious for them), we surely don't look that straight? (Well, maybe I do, but that because I was brought up in country Australia - and I pass for butch in the UK, certainly not in Australia.) We also took a 4WD tour into the Atlas mountains, which was excellent, and we managed to get some camel and ass-riding in (as C was calling it - he is very smutty, which is one of the many reasons I like him!).

It seems there was only one gay club in town, so the Pony and I decided to brave it ('Diamant Noir' it was glamorously called), which was supposed to have some sort of Gay Interest (or GI as we like to call it), but it's GI was in fact 1.5 (out of ten, it's important to mark things out of ten). I think I saw one other gay couple there and a few loose (i.e. single) gay-men, but it was pretty dire. (A measure of how dire it was - we reflected afterwards that not one track was played that was released later than about 1992). We left about 1:00, and then had to wake the riad staff up, as our key wouldn't open the door. Ooops (and no we weren't pissed - well maybe we were, but it was a problem with the lock - they had to call a locksmith the next day).

Oh and there were other people staying at the riad of course, our favourites being Tory-boy and Tory-girl (he was going to stand as a Tory (i.e. Conservative ) councillor in Wimbledon, she was a researcher (assistant?) to a Tory MP in the House of Commons (where else would a Tory MP be you pedants ask?).

We first noticed them as they were mauling each other waiting for their luggage to come off our flight. We started to joke about them then because he was very camp (we originally called her Liza, as in Minelli, always marrying gay men). We had a bit of a chat/political discussion with them after dinner on Saturday. He claimed he didn't like Tony Blair (which is not what I had the problem with), but the reason he gave was 'because this government does nothing for people like me'. I countered that perhaps public-school (i.e. private school for Australians), middle-class advertising execs living in leafy South London (as opposed to bleak - guncrime riddled South London) didn't need that much done for them. I couldn't really be bothered after that (a problem I regard as one of my weaknesses - the Pony took it upon himself to educate Liza about Clause 28 (recently revoked anti-gay legislation introduced by Margaret Thatcher) etc etc.) That's one of the reasons I love him - I just took it upon myself to drink more.

So we arrived back at gateways Sunday night (oh the shame of not flying from heather - will we ever live it down?) and then the Pony threw a hissy fit with the conductor on the Gatwick Express. We arrived home around 2:00 which meant Monday was pretty dire at work, but apparently I had a tan. I realize now that my face is peeling, that I must have got more sun than I thought.

The rest of this week has been quiet - concentrating on work and the gym (looks like some SAP work will finally be coming my way). Tonight we have the lovely M (english) and O (mexican) over for dinner, with C + B, and possibly D + S. M,O, Pony + I are going to go on to Fiction afterwards (B + D have to work tomorrow, so aren't joining us). It's our first night clubbing since NYE, so we're a bit excited!

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