Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Cycled onto Hampstead, had a swim, where I bumped into Spanish Ernesto. Then onto Kenwood and had a lovely second picnic organised by Simon, uphill of the actual paying concertgoers. There was loads of food, and it was easy listening pop ("music to watch the girls go by"). Paul, Keith, Nigel, Chok, Shaun, James (cute), Kamal. Nothing like some down-to-earth socialising with a picnic and a beautiful view over London. Bumped into John H again there, who was at a separate picnic party (he had been at the boat party). That made 3 accidental bumps into acquaintances, in one day, which has to be a record for me in London. Oh I wish I lived in a village, where bumping into people wouldn't be such a rarity.
So by the time I got home, I had in the previous 26 hours, cycled 60 miles, been swimming outdoors, dancing in a club, and gotten drunk twice.
Very likely the most physically active day I had all year, and wow did I feel about one hundred times better than the day before.
Sunday, I spontaneously hooked up with M at 30 minutes notice. It turned into a date, and a very, very enjoyable one. We met in Greenwich, we had a bite and a lovely wander around. We stopped at the Rose & Crown for two pints. Our time together was exciting, yet chastely restricted to melting kisses and sensual hugs. This was the second time I had refused the opportunity to end up in the sack, because I felt there was something more enjoyable there that might be ruined by having sex too soon. The desire is strong, but sex in the gay world can too easily be like a meal at McDonald's. When along comes something better than a hamburger, you have to be careful not to waste it by eating it out of a foam carton, or having it with a Coke.
Maybe I should even brush up on my table manners...
Strange how even as I wrote this, I found I was already blocking my memory of how much I enjoyed our date. As though pleasure and happiness are things I dare not cling onto, lest they should be taken away from me, against my wishes. I am afraid of being happy? Really? How did this come about?
Saturday, July 24, 2004
What should I do next?
What can I do next?
What am I to do.....
The week has hung about and drifted away. I think my lack of focus must be some delayed mourning that is bubbling up.
Thank goodness for the dance. Bar Code was just right. The music was very good, the clientele was a fair balance.
I had cycled into town, and pulling up near the Shaftesbury Theatre (the Miserables one), a pretty girl accosted me without hesitation and asked me to give her a lift to the G-A-Y bar, and could she have her picture taken on the back of my bike. How gay must I look? She didn't even give me the chance to counter her assumption. No wonder so many straight guys choose nowadays to adopt some campness. If it is all you need to do, to have girls throwing their bodies at you! Shame I couldn't take advantage.
Then I went along the river to Parliament Square, and finally saw something beautiful to penetrate the miasma of my mind. The back of Westminster Abbey, facing the Houses of Parliament, is a Gothic marvel, with flying buttresses and all. The view of this side is obscured from most angles, and for once I thought of sacrilege. Two oversize plane trees are far too close to the building, and block too much of the view. Chop them down, thought I. They're only London planes, which aren't even native. Plant a new tree closer to the road, of a more sympathetic species.
I continued into the park opposite the Horse Guards parade, and beheld a glorious scene. The fountain in the lake, directly under a waxing crescent moon. The shrubs and trees skillfully lit, and benches to welcome romantic lovers. If only. Alone, I nonetheless soaked it in as much I could.
Great Snogger visited my home two days ago, and was a fine overnight guest, with an intelligence that exceeds that of any of my previous lovers. I was glad of his listening ears, and found myself venting some of the frustration of recent family events. After he left, as I regained some of my solitary presence, it occurred to me that I was in no way yet prepared to have another boyfriend. I'm just not feeling "sorted" enough (to be sorted is the new cliche criterion of self-adjustment). And as I muddled through the rest of this week, it occurred to me that I was probably depressed and possibly trying to make sense of yet another level of mourning that I had been ignoring.
So this evening, after taking leave of Her Majesty's lake, I repaired to 79CXR to drown my moroseness. And in the space of a pint, it began to work. Suddenly, I perked up, and noticed the throbbing music was finally speaking to me as nothing else could. Quickly hunting up and down the crowd, I decided it was time to break for Bar Code.
As I pulled up to Bar Code, I sought a railing that was perfect for locking the bike. But 3 guys with bikes got in just before me. They could have been English, but the latter one laughed in acknowledgement when he noticed that they had stolen my parking space.
I pride myself on being able to distinguish fine nuances of difference between the multiple cultures in London, and the laugh was not English, but East European. I asked them, and indeed, they were Russian. Dressed imperceptibly to blend in, they were eager and hopeful to find some night fun. It really does seem to me these days that I encounter in London more Russians and East Europeans, than Brits. It's just the new reality, but as usual, a lot of people won't notice it until they get to read an article about it in their newspaper.
As I dived into Bar Code's basement, I met the heaving music and thronging men. Just what I needed. And then, at last, the one thing that switched me on. A bartender whom was in my eyes, utterly, utterly beautiful.
I don't know if it is because I'm gay, or because I'm a man, or because I'm a visually stimulated person. All else may seem utterly pointless, and then finally I cast my eyes on someone that to me is beautiful, and at last I am enervated. It doesn't have to go further, and it probably wouldn't make any difference if it did. All I want is to see someone that triggers in my brain the reflex....Ding Dong, beautiful, Bang!
And the rest of my stay became a pleasure of the Dance, without my needing to look at him again. It's a trigger thing.
This probably was the first time in my life I have ever cycled home from a bit of clubbing downtown. Bless the summer for the possibilities it brings. It will soon be gone, and I will then be mourning that instead. I think I'll give up mourning after that. There must be an easier way of just moving on.. Skip the mourning, and live the whole day long.
Monday, July 19, 2004
I get hangovers so easily these days, and this one was the result of a Saturday night party on a boat moored on the Thames. Not quite a costume party, but called a themed party, everyone was asked to dress to the theme of Water and Air. For three days, I mulled over it, and decided on Aquarius, the God, the Waterbearer. I decided to go for a slightly boyish Greek look, while observing the suggested Theme colours of blue (for water) and silver (for air).
The result of this was a head garland of lavender, and jasmine, wound with electric-blue cord and tinsel around a base of hose pipe. A tunic consisting of a unitary piece of shiny blue satin (that I've had lying in my storage for 15 years!), secured over one shoulder and leaving the other shoulder bare. A brown leather thong tied at the waist. With a bit of thoughtful pulling and arrangement, the loosely flowing folds and necessary draped effect billowed above waist, while the tunic finished well above my knees to give the suggestion of adolescent youthfulness. Hey, you have to fit the picture to the frame, and mine is a boyish one! For water-bearing I had a leather wine-skin, that I usually use for drinking grog at street festivals, filled with water and slung over the draped shoulder. A spotty brown wooden staff that I made this summer from a stalk of briar rose complemented the wine skin. Finally I wore silver-painted Wellies which I dressed with spurs and harnesses (whatever they call it when it goes over the back of the heel, under the boot, over the boot and round back the heel again) made from pale blue tinsel.
I deliberated how I should get into the town dressed so "brazenly". There is nothing so soul-destroying as to be accosted in the suburbs by a bunch of bored, boring, cardboard-cutout "youth" who point and laugh and make smart-arse remarks. Even showing a bare shoulder or revealing a thigh through the parting in the tunic is enough to send this modern generation into fits of hysteria. With all the liberalism that they have been born into, they have in some ways become more close-minded than my grandparents' generation.
There are parts of North and West London where you may easily walk about dressed like some theatre actor and invite complimentary smiles or even delighted enquiries about where you may be heading for. In most parts of Newham, you can expect nothing of the kind. The newer immigrants and their children are very often incredibly afraid to "rock the boat" or dare to look different, even though they live in a part of London where immigrants are the visible majority. Their lives are so insular that it is considered radical enough to be speaking English , and then only in the lost and ancient dialect of the Hip Hop Rapper Artists, a late Twentieth Century patois of American English. Visible manifestations of individuality, in any case, have disappeared from the youth of today, and not just this lot of East Londoners.
Not having had the organisation to borrow the car in time to whizz myself in insular anonymity to the party, I found myself running late and faced with the choices:
- To be VERY LATE,
- or to think, "FUCK THEM and their narrow-mindedness, I'll go out dressed as I want to, and if they laugh, then maybe they are secretly envious and need this kind of encouragement.
Well, first of all I just missed the train. Then I had to stand at the busstop. The usual types around the station stared or smirked. Then I got onto the 101 bus down to East Ham Station. Oh what dreary people. They look, and are afraid to look, lest their imaginations should take hold of their circumscribed lives.
It was with relief when I finally got off the District Line and headed onto the boat. What does it matter what I look like, when on the journey, I am forced to endure what everybody else looks like, which is plain, fucking, drab? No wonder all the interesting people have left London. I really am tired of living in a city that has become full of people who are nothing to look at, but still somehow think that looking good means you have to wear a BMW or an AUDI.
So anyhow, I got to the boat, and then found that less than 5% of the people had bothered to wear a costume. And that's a gay party, on the Thames. Need I say more? This is the state of Londoners today.
When Tony Blair took over 8 years ago, this country was known as "Cool Britannia". Now it scarcely deserves to be called a country.
Thank goodness for M, who made the party interesting. There were some buttons pushed. What can I say, except that I increasingly find my own generation, or the older one, interesting, whereas the younger generation, I fear, cannot even dance. Who would have thought there would arrive a day when a whole generation of gay men would appear in the world, whom couldn't dance?
I changed to go home on the night bus. Here again, I have an anecdote of how alien London is becoming. The N25 night bus is now an articulated bus, not a double-decker. Instinctively as you board, you become aware that it is a much safer space, with less likelihood of crime because of the clear line of sight through the bus, and the sensation of being on the same visible level as the driver and the other road users. The top deck of some of the Night Buses, have in the past been the scenes of the most horrific of violent crimes, (one guy had his eye gouged out about 3 years ago).
Improvement, yes? But then we stopped at Mile End, and to my amazement, THREE ticket inspectors boarded at 2.30 A.M, and began to thoroughly check the bus with assiduous Zero-Tolerance. Some guy at the back had no ticket and refused to get off the bus. The bus was held and going nowhere. It subsequently took FIVE POLICEMEN to sort out the offender, and twenty-five minutes later, we finally went on our way.
I was brassed off and brassing off about Ken Livingstone, because at the time of the night, on the bus, you get more than your average number of Ken's Slavish Followers. Despite obeying the political doctrines of their Public Sector organisational cultures, these people seemed to think it was a good excuse to play a mouth organ. A fucking mouth organ on a night bus, for God's sake. And to think that we're in East London, not the Deep South. I was expecting to see fields of Cotton outside.
Maybe they don't realise what Slaves they have become, these Slavish Followers of Ken. Such a sophisticatedly perfect culture of slavery constrains their lives. Their bonds are not tethers or chains, but mere ideas inserted into their heads and reinforced by daily mantras broadcast to them in their Guardian. God forbid that you should ever turn up for work in a public sector organisation in London, and wave about Any Other Newspaper. You may as well be uttering profanity at the BBC.
Friday, July 16, 2004
Been back since Sunday, and as usual struggling with Time Zones. It has been a relief, to say the least, to not be in the intense atmosphere of the family house with a dying Dad.
When someone dies gradually in a terminal illness, the opportunity exists to mourn them as they fade away. As they progress in their terminal illness, they lose abilities successively, and they are forced to reduce their own expectations of quality of life, in order to accept what is left to them. Effectively they are mourning their own passing.
As a watching relative, friend, or lover, by mourning them before they are dead in the ground, you are best enabled to empathise with their loss so that you can help them take the best advantage of what is left to them. Later when it will get too much for them, they know they can go in peace, without any further obligation to linger in suffering. When finally they are dead, there can only be relief for them, that they no longer have to endure any more pain.
With this long build-up, by the time you get to the funeral, the mourning is all done and dusted. Life goes on, and our own futures have their own fates.
To watch some of my family members persist in states of Denial is more agonizing and stressful than helping my Dad alleviate his shrinking condition. As in the series "Six Feet Under", there are some people who would wait until they see the coffin, before they finally break down in one extravagant, enormous supernova of emotional dam-bursting.
Even as I write, in the quest for fair analysis, it is clear that such people have their benefits too. By delaying their mourning to after the end, they have greater reserves of energy to deal with pragmatic issues that crop up before the death. Their emotional effect on the dying person can act in two ways:
- On the positive side, they may reinforce the patient's ability to fantasize that they are not in fact dying. Fantasy is a useful distraction from suffering, and this is why the Catholic Church's promotion of the belief in "Life after Death" is one of the masterfully successful pieces of genius in that religion.
- On the negative side, they may impose on the patient the onus of outstanding duty and debt to the survivors. This may extend the suffering and increase it by leaving the dying person with the feeling of unfinished business and self-rebukes: "I must try to hang on because you need me to keep on living.... Here I am letting you down... What good am I that I cannot help you after I am gone.....".
There are further extrapolations of these emotions which are constantly exploited by outside parties, commercial or opportunistic. They are best left for discussion in times of general cynicism.
Thursday, July 15, 2004
Two blonde guys were working for the city works department. One would dig a hole and the other would follow behind him and fill the hole in. They worked up one side of the street, then down the other, then moved on to the next street, working furiously all day without rest, one guy digging a hole, the other guy filling it in again. An onlooker was amazed at their hard work, but couldn't understand what they were doing,so he asked the hole digger, "I'm impressed by the effort you two are putting into your work, but I don't get it -- why do you dig a hole, only to have your partner follow behind and fill it up again?" The hole digger wiped his brow and sighed, "Well, I suppose it probably looks odd because we're normally a three man team. But today, the guy who plants the trees called in sick."
Do you think it is funny? I usually denounce trite political correctness, but here are a people that never seem to get any recognition that they are a suffering minority.
It's another put down of blondes, of course, but MUCH more significantly, it's a complete put down of manual labourers, whom are absolutely never given ANY celebration.
I'm sure the joke is enjoyed by the usual bunch of soft-skinned, car-driving, TV-goggling, mobile-phone-chatting, office-working, smugly ignorant twits that Western society nurtures and pampers like battery chickens.
I'll start posting jokes that I do like, for a bit of balance.
Friday, July 09, 2004
Fahrenheit 9/11 was pretty good for about an hour of its footage, and the rest was sentimental political filler for the U.S. market. It's always interesting to be reminded about how the rich and the powerful move in a world of their own. For example, the expose was the Bush family and the Bin Laden family, with their corporate and family interests. As my female friend, R. put it, these are rich people indulging their obliviousness to the rest of the world. Two steps beyond ignorance, and one step beyond champagne socialists (eg. Tony Blair).
Oh my dying Dad. His body so wasted and ridiculous. Strangely today he came out with a comedian that I don't think I have ever seen in him.
To contrast him with those young, healthy strapping types at the pub tonight. Once upon a time, if you lived in a village society, you would see this range of life within a five minute walk of your bed. Today, with the Internet, movies, TV, Cars, mobile phones, videos, jet planes, you only come upon this much life, by chance, at some crossroads of your average lifespan, which you then come to look upon as a landmark in your growth and development. At 42, I am not too old to gaze upon a dying man and wonder at his shocking difference with a young virile lusty man. And thence get on with life while I have it, before it is all gone.
Civilization has lost many of the riches of Barbarianism.
Thursday, July 08, 2004
The famous, $750.00 a shot, yet common-as-muck Eprex, just wasn't working. It's supposed to encourage the production of red blood cells. Eprex is a bit controversial at the moment in how it is administered, to its primary markets, namely Chronic Renal Failure patients. Apparently when administered subcutaneously, it can cause more harm than good to these patients. Eprex is also heavily prescribed to cancer patients suffering from anaemia. Prostate cancer metastasis (metastasis means migration from the origin to another part of the body) into the bones of course ends up affecting the marrow and red blood cell production. So your body can just wither away or internally asphyxiate.
Transfuse he did, and it went smoothly yesterday. I have to be thankful again for summer and sunshine. It made a hospital cheerful that in March was a grim concrete Reaper.
And so the first of the Dracula Days has been done. I am exhausted. His quality of life seems pretty poor to me already, yet the nurses seem to indicate that he is doing very well compared to their other home-care patients. He can actually sit up, stand up, and he can more or less enjoy his food. Despite the fact that he can only do this with morphine, canned oxygen, blood transfusions, nausea tablets, and resting in bed over 90% of the day.
What is the point of civilisation if it takes Christian principles and modern technology to these extremes where people are kept alive in modes of suffering that defy the need for Visions of Hell in the Afterlife?
One man's civilisation, is another man's barbarism.
Sunday, July 04, 2004
From a plane Toronto looks plain, and looks like it is on a plain. From a car it looks not much better. But in fact, Toronto is on a plateau, technically the Niagara Escarpment, which is cut by ravines. Most of Toronto's most interesting and wild green spaces exist in these ravines, which are carefully nurtured parklands.
I've never really biked before in Toronto, and with walking, the parklands used to frustrate me because they always seemed to involve overly long linear pathways. They rarely could be enjoyed in a circular walk, and in any case, distances in Canada are just too great.
Bikes are the way to go for exploring these parkland ravines. The paved pathways are marked for them, and the distances best covered by them.
The weather lately has been glorious. The sun is higher in the sky down here at latitude 43 degrees, which is the same latitude as the south of France. The quality of the light in the sky is one that you just don't get in London, at latitude 52 degrees.
Southern Ontario had a late spring, but plenty of beautiful sunny days with rain at night. Consequently the greenery is unbelievably lush and healthy. Its robustness makes the English equivalent of lushness seem relatively fragile, although the delicate wateriness of English greenery is a characteristic of its beauty.
Friday, July 02, 2004
What was once a soulless concrete urban space is finally attaining a measure of life. I was delighted to discover well-designed tiny parks in the vicinity. Gibson park, which shelters the lovely early Victorian brick-built farmhouse called Gibson House, and across from it was another, called Dempsey Park.
The Canada Day celebrations at the Square had a small stage, with a very weak sound system, featuring the band Lighthouse, which finished its set with its most famous ever hit from the Seventies, "One Fine Morning (I did wake Up)". It didn't sound right at all, with such a miserable sound system.
It was nice though that they were handing out free hand-held Canada flags. I couldn't imagine this happening in Britain, without some uproar from the dinosaur Eighties political extremists. When the fireworks finally came on at 10.20 pm, they had very little preamble, since the soundstage was so feeble. The display was satisfactory, given that the venue being surrounded by tall buildings, really doesn't give much room for a major blow-out. The finale was to the sound of Oh Canada, with a predictable explosion of alternating Red and White fireworks.
I was very surprised that I couldn't hear anybody sing along to Oh Canada. Although there is a lot more national unity and self-respect here than in London, dumping the anthem is doubtless a reflection of the inevitable cultural anarchy that has also descended on this society, especially in its most cosmopolitan city.
Back to my Dad. Although I help, I have been afraid to look too closely. To be honest, alongside Empathy and Pragmatism there is a very primal fear. If he were a stranger in a hospital, and I were merely a worker, I would still be afraid, but not so strongly. But because I have known him all my life, there is within me an abject terror of what he has been reduced to.
When someone withers away and dies quickly, which is what he nearly did in March, the horror is all so overwhelming that various mental resistances automatically kick in. The emotional effects are different, when someone lays in their own home, spending 75% of the day asleep, otherwise fully cognizant and in possession of their faculties but all contained within a body that is an insult to their memories.
All the time that I have the choice to be empathetic and/or pragmatic, I also am trying to control and decipher my horror that one day I might become like this. This is a gay man's nightmare.
I love the fit healthy human body. Of these bodies, I love men's bodies above women's. Of men's bodies, I adore those that are stunning fine examples of their type of design, in the prime of their existence.
What purpose does my admiration of a fine male body serve, if that body, and my own, eventually decays to this feeble unattractive condition? Is it not a fatuous and pointless urge, or is it an inescapable phase of animal instinct that has to live out its day until it has done its living? I am inclined to think it is the latter, but even in these middle years I cannot yet fully understand how I will compromise it with the need to provide empathy and pragmatism, especially to my mother after my dad has gone.