Life in London

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

Friday, March 24, 2006

Something for the weekend?

Well, it’s very Soho-centric (the boy can’t help it), but here are a few places to eat in London that are easy on the hip pocket and more importantly serve good food.

Taro - 59 Brewer St Soho. (And now in the centre of gay Soho - Old Compton St., as well)

Great little Japanese Noodle and Sushi bar. Miles ahead of Wagamama (which has gone downhill since McDonalds bought shares in it), and very affordable(did someone say cheap?).

Busaba Eathai - Wardour St (and Store St)

Excellent modern take on Thai. David Thompson (formerly of Darley St Thai in Sydney and now Michelin-starred at Nahm) had a hand in the menu. Go for the food, the communal tables or the waiters, you won't be disappointed with any of them. Pretty authentic, even down to the bags of rubbish on the street outside.

Spiga - Wardour St

Good, authentic Italian food prepared with quality ingredients. Gets mixed reviews, but we've only ever had good service and good food.

HK Diner - Wardour St

Excellent chinese. Harry the maitre'd is a star.

Gerrard's Corner - Gerrard and Wardour St

Not in the same league as HK Diner and Harryless, but good nonetheless.

Marsala Zone - Marshall St

Good canteen-style Indian dining. More southern than northern, but a good feed anyway.

C + R Cafe - Rupert Court

As good as Malaysian gets in London. Cheap and cheerful, for a quick bite before your night out. One of the few places in London you can get roti.

Golden Hind - Marylebone Lane

Great fish and chips. And you can bring your own booze. No wonder Babs Windsor likes it.

Real Greek - Paddington St

Excellent souvlaki and greek dips.

Hamburger Union - Dean or Garrick St

Good hamburgers, chunky fries and a waiter who's a doppelganger for Matthew Rush at the Garrick St branch. Does it get any better than that?

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Whatever happened to the War on Terror?

Sometimes I despise my country's smallmindedness

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Politics - poles apart

I don’t understand the fuss over the whole cash-for-peerages ‘scandal’. I'm not saying I don't hink it's wrong, but I'm certainly not surprised by it. If political parties in Britain can appoint Lords to the House of Lords, and they can also take donations from individuals, then any fool could have seen that parties would appoint donors to the upper house. Until the House of Lords is democratically elected, this sort of thing will continue to happen. It was slightly bizarre to hear (hereditary peer) Lord Strathclyde saying this affair somehow taints the House of Lords. So getting into the upper house because you were born into the right family or are a bishop is ok, but it’s not if it’s because you have money? Oh, I see now……

It will be interested to see if 'Teflon Tony' can survive this - the latest in a long run of 'worst week(s) ever' for him.

And the good people of Tasmania and South Australia have returned Labour governments. Hurrah! I can’t really understand why a Labour government is running every state in Australia, but no-one seems prepared to vote little Johnny Howard out. Well I can really. While Chain and India’s growth keeps the Australian economy roaring along thanks to mineral exports, and the opposition Labour Party tears itself apart over pre-selection, I can’t see Labour being in government federally in the near future. I just wish the Victorian Labour Government
would be a bit more adventurous legislatively regarding gay unions, and take the fight to the federal Liberals who 'tolerate' homosexuality (note to non-australians - the Liberal party is the conservative party in Austalian politics).

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Commonwealth Capers

We've been watching a lot of the Commonwealth Games, especially the swimming and the Gymnastics, (purely to admire the athlete's grace and athleticism, mind you). There are two male swimming commentators on the BBC, and one of them reduces me to giggles. He keeps commenting on the male competitors with phrases like 'He's a very big boy isn't he?' and 'Look at those big, strong, pectoral muscles'. It's like listening to some homoerotic comedy sketch.

I was going to post something about the EAD (Elite Athletes with Disability) events, but what I'm prepared to say in the company of friends I'm not prepared to post in case people take it the wrong way.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Random Friday Stuff

  • The Commonwealth Games are on in Melbourne, and it looks bloody marvellous. I'd bet even the Beirut end of Elizabeth St. looks good. I watched the highlights of the opening ceremony and got all homesick and teary. I was going to include some pics here, but I can't load them at work. Growl.

  • Last night we went for a drink, then Italian - then another drink with C + B. We saw the young guy (oh it hurts to write that) from the Catherine Tate Show out in Soho (twice!) last week. C + B dined in the same restaurant as him on Saturday night. Coincidence? I think he's a stalker.

  • We bumped into Vicki (from our gym) near Trafalgar Square last night. I think she is stalking us. Actually, she was going to the opera on a 'non-date'. In her words: 'Only 60-year-olds or gay men think going to the opera is a date'.....

  • I was amazed by the clothes in Liverpool last weekend -it might have been 2C, but girls were walking around in skimpy sequinned tops. They must've provided inspiration for a thousand drag shows over the years.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Love in Liverpool

Adam and Tracey got married on Saturday. We hired a car for the occasion and drove up to Ormskirk (just outside Liverpool) on Friday night. After a 4.5 hour trip (for 240 miles), we arrived just as the tent (sorry, marquee) setup was finished. So Steve and Jo, Alan and Claire, Simeon, Adam and the pony and I decamped to a tapas bar that was formerly Southport's finest underground toilets for some drinks. Claire was charged with the daunting job of getting Adam home to bed. He managed to outfox her a couple of times, but he finally left around 1:30 am.

Due to the size of the registry office, the numbers at the wedding itself were limited to 50. The pony and I were lucky enough to score a guernsey to the ceremony, so we were quite chuffed . By coincidence alone, we were sat next to the biggest homophobe there. If we had have know at the time, we would have made a bigger effort to be blatantly gay. Adam fluffed a line, and Tracey choked up at one point, but they were the only hiccups, and it was a good ceremony, as far as weddings go, you know I'm not one to get too carried away by weddings.

We'd had an early start, because the ceremony was at the ridiculous hour of 11:00. Paul normally is fast asleep then on a Saturday - so we couldn't sleep in. This meant we were at the reception and drinking champagne by 13:00. That proved to be my downfall. Tracey works in marketing for a wine company, and knowing how much I love wine, she took me aside, gave me a rundown on the wines and told me to open what I wanted. Very sweet of her, but after drinking Rioja, Shiraz, Cotes de Gascione, Sauvignon Blanc and champagne, I was struggling a little. We spent an excellent afternoon and evening hanging out with the lovely Jo (complete with accessories!), Sim (complete with Sarf London accent! And he is still as laid back, charming and fit as ever), the lovely Fiona (complete with nose piercing! And glamourous bridesmaid's dress!) and Ad and Trace (complete with wedding rings!).

Somehow (!?) we ended up back at our hotel after the reception - I took the opportunity provided by our room to take a short nap. I was woken by Ad and the pony at 1:00am, demanding that I come down to the Hotel bar for a drink (complete with tequila! and sambucca!). Most sensible people retired around 2:00, but the pony, Tracey, Adam, Sim, Steve and I decided we were tougher than that.

Sunday morning was pretty painful - I headed out in Southport (complete with snow!) to get some Nurofen, grabbed breakfast with the others. Tracey (complete with wedding shoes!) and Ad invited us back to theirs for a bit of catchup - so we (complete with wedding presents!) drove over and hung out for a while. Steve was the worst I'd ever seen anyone, he had to keep leaving the room. Ad and Tracey seemed really happy with our presents - I think sometimes we forget how good our taste is(!) The wedding was put on at very short notice and Tracey got quite emotional when she thanked us call for making it. Her and Adam have been together since University and I remember they were some of Paul's first friends I met. They are such lovely people and I'm glad everything went well for them.

The only disappointment for us was that it was the first wedding we'd been to where we weren't asked to arrange flowers ('because you boys are good at that sort of thing'). We're still recovering from the shock, but I'm sure there'll be others.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006


Last Friday night was a lot of fun – C + B, Stuie, Claypot and Jari , Suren, Dereks and Imtiaz all managed to make it out, and the crowd and music at Fiction was pretty good, so we had a lot of fun. Saturday was spent recovering, so we stayed in and watched crap TV.

The Pony and I headed out for Dim Sum (Yum Cha) at the New World restaurant in London’s glitzy Chinatown. It was pretty good actually, but not a patch on the Red Emperor,and it doesn’t have that view, but the food was good. Afterwards we had some wine in Balans, then met Stuie, Stuie’s Man, Safr Andrew and the lovely Augusto for a drink in Rupert St. Andrew had just been to Barcelona and regaled us with tales of legal conferences, illicit nightclubbing and a 5-am taxi-ride in Barcelona.

Monday was day one of my new role. Winnersh is lot like Slough, only with different trains and different smoke-stacks. The work isn’t too difficult (well, I don’t think it is, but then I’ve never been change adverse) and the people are friendly enough. I left work with 3Kg of MARS products. I feel fat already.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Still Alert, Slightly More Alarmed....

I'm not sure quite why, but I was stopped again by the British Transport Police on Friday night. This time at Marylebone Station, and because I was 'carrying too many backpacks' (I was carrying a backpack with my new work laptop in it, in addition to my gym backpack).
I attempted to use what little charm I still possessed after being stopped to get out of another tedious search (it was Friday night and I wanted to get to gym, get home and get out!), but the two officers were quite insistent.

Policeman Plod # 1 even said to me 'You have a funny accent'. That remark didn't go down particularly well and so I replied that I didn't have 'a funny accent, I had an Australian accent'. The middle-aged, paunched officers went through both bags, established I was 5' 12" - (truly - I said 5' 11" + 3/4 inch - he said "that will be 5' 12" then"!!), filled out the search form, then I was free to go on my way.
Given that I only travel two stops on the underground in the morning, and three stops in the afternoon, what are the chances of me being stopped twice in once week? I am hoping that this doesn't become a regular occurrence, it will impinge on my career as a semtex mule. (Note to transport police - that was a joke).

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Fridays are FICTION!!!

Tonight the pony, C + B, the lovely Stuie (sans new man), C + J and S are all heading up York way to Fiction. We're meeting at the Edge on Soho Square first (RIP Kirsty Maccoll). Should (well, will -who are we kidding?) be a late one. I'm oncall for the rest of the weekend, so aren't looking forward to that either.

I start my new 2.5 day role next week - from Slough to Winnersh - life just gets
glamorouser and glamorouser!

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Alert, but not Alarmed

  • I was stopped and seached by the British Transport Police last night at Paddington. I'm still not sure whether I'm outraged by it or not. I was more than co-operative, I even made a couple of jokes (but not bomb-jokes, I'm not that stupid), because everyone know that terrorists don't crack jokes. I even felt a bit sorry for the copper, he was obviously just going through the motions (and had already partially filled out the required search record, btw I was classed as ethnic classification W9), but I still feel the powers are open to abuse. I'm sure I was only stopped and searched in order to meet a quota of ethnic classifcation W*. In principal I'm opposed to being stopped and searched, but as the officer kindly pointed out to me (and is obliged to), under section 44(1) and 44(2) of the Terrorism Act of 2000, an officer 'does not have to have reasonable grounds to suspect the individual stopped or searched.....'. The alternative would be my refusing the search, then being carted off to the nearest police station as, 'police officers can use reasonable force to detain and search you...if you have been given the chance to co-operate,....,but have refused'. And there was no way I was going to miss my workout because of political protest. Who says gay men aren't superficial? #1

  • We're off to drinks with the pony's work's Gay and Lesbian "Network" tonight (but not one lesbian ever attends these drinks). We probably won't stay too long, as it's full of MBA students who on the whole aren't interested in chatting to anyone who: 1) They can't shag 2) Can't get them a job in banking. Stuie came along to an event once and proceeded to tell everyone he met he was a cleaner. From the way people treated him he might as well have told everyone he had an STD. Who says gay men aren't superficial? #2

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