"A fellow can't keep people from having a bad opinion of him, but he can keep them from being right about it."
I’m going to make the most of this three day weekend, believe you me.
Talk is good. Talk is cheap.
“I just don't get it...we have a situation at the moment where young soldiers have been sent over by a political agenda to Iraq and have murdered and abused civilians for things that American media and politicians now have the audacity to apologize for and admit that they were wrong - WRONG - I mean children have been subjected to war and death for nothing? American soldiers have died for a falsity? The stability of the Middle East has been shafted for another 50 years - for what? Is it just me? And what do you write about? About gay love scenes being toned down in a movie? So what? Would that in some way affirm you being gay as being right or something? I mean are you awake in this world Drew?
Are you fucking living in the same world? How do you eat? How your conscience doesn't constrict your throat and allow you to swallow down just shows how distant you are from being a human being. A human being FEELS when the spirit of humanity is going down the shit hole.
Is Drew awake in the world?”
This morning someone jumped in front of the train I was on. It happened at Bank station and, as we waited, the word suicide
was never mentioned. The announcement explained that it had been a ‘passenger action’; that ‘someone was on the tracks’ as if the person had tripped over the platform, picked themselves up and wiped the dirt off their knees self-consciously – instead of throwing themselves in front of the speeding train, feeling the impact with the last few seconds of their consciousness before the momentum dragged them down underneath the carriage, electrocuting them on the tracks.
Everyone was pissed off because we would be late for work and we had to stand in each other’s armpits waiting for the police to arrive. “This always happens to me” said a man, under his breath.
Thanks for your letter. I think we’re on the same page, you and me. Neither of us is very happy about this goddamn awful war. It scares me to think of all the hate and fear that is being bred for my nephew’s generation, all because of a few high-powered individuals. War is never moral, but when those who come to ‘emancipate’ then become the oppressors there is something deeply and profoundly wrong. This affects us all. And we should be affected – as you’ve said - these actions violate our humanity. I read and see things every day, from the suicide this morning to the relentless persecution of Laos’ Hmong hill tribes and the images of torture on TV. These things should not be trivialized. If they do, we risk losing who we are as people.
Our stories make our humanity. My manifesto with this journal was to tell my story. If you’re calling me to account for the banality of my writing, I can’t. Sometimes my life is banal. If you’re criticizing me for not sharing my views on the war, I would invite you to read the thousands of blogs that have discussed these issues with more clarity and perception than I ever could. If you’re calling me apathetic, you don’t know me. And if you’re trying to railroad the atrocities of this war to make some half-baked anti-gay rhetoric, then you are a shmuck. And it makes me want to kick you in the shin. Really hard.
You ask if I’m awake. I am. I’m in the only world I know. And I’m trying to make sense of it the best I can.
Drew goes offline.
It’s been great, really wonderful writing this blog but after six months I feel I’ve achieved all I can in the medium. Just kidding! There’s no way I’ll stop writing this, silly. No, I love being a blogger. Love. Love. Hugs and puppies. If anything writing daily like this has made me itch for other mediums. The play is coming along in stops and starts, but I’ve also been working on a new project. A fanzine.
Fanzine (noun) An amateur-produced magazine written for a subculture of enthusiasts devoted to a particular interest.
I guess being gay is a particular interest…
I get a bit bored of the magazines over here. Don’t get me wrong, they’re some of the best in the world, but the UK gay press doesn’t stray far from the “naked man on cover, lots of sexy eye candy with clothes off inside” blueprint that’s made them popular. So I thought, “what if there was a free ‘fanzine’ that talked about the culture in a little less topless manner?” Maybe a wee bit whacky? I would write it and illustrate it. And I justified its creation as no more egotistic than, say, starting a blog.
So here it is, The Gaze.
The Cover. A drawing from a photo I liked in a magazine. No real deep meaning behind it although a few people have pointed out the whole 'oral fixation' sucking of thumb notion, which in hindsight, is very appropriate. Am really happy with the look of the black ink hair. Less so with the ear; it looks slightly deformed. Poor cauliflower-ear-man. No-wonder he's sucking his thumb.
Pages 2 & 3. Ah, you might recognise the first page. I posted it as Personals
and had quite a few emails asking what they the hell they meant. Well, I started to think about Dating Ads and what would happen if they revealed something truly private about yourself, instead of being a description of the way you wanted to be seen. Each of them is a one-line monologue. I changed the title to be less confusing.
On the other page is an interview I did with Tom, a friend of Kate's. Kate was chuffed to be able to use her DJ contacts for me. We went to the club last Monday and danced around with all the lads, drank £1 pints of lager and tried to look tough.
Pages 4 & 5. This is some pre-blog writing, a couple of years old now. I don't think I've written much at all about my Dad's side of family.
Pages 6 & 7. Drew as 'zany' Carrie-Bradshaw-esque opinion columnist! Well, except he doesn't get paid for it and no one asked for his opinion in the first place...
Page 8. Ah, yes, you might have seen this before too. Well, I'm allowed to steal my own stuff, alright? Stop looking at me like that.
That's it. I'm getting it printed (read 'photocopied') and then I'll be distributing it around coffee shops and bars in central London. I enjoyed making it so much that I'm working on a second edition. All that's left to do is sit back and let the adulations begin!
*Wind blows. Tumbleweed*
Things to Do
Either cut your hair or stop complaining to anyone who will listen (at last count – three people) that you look like a scarecrow. There are those in this world who really do have hair like a scarecrow – in an un-ironic way - and they deserve all your love and sympathy.
Spend more time in parks. Yesterday at Hampstead Heath was wonderful. Preferably take someone to roll around in the long grass with next time.
Befriend more writers, dancers, actors, photographers; creative and talented people in general. They’re great to drink red wine with and they remind you why you gave up all chance of ever earning a real wage and ran away to join the circus in the first place.
Quit smoking. For good. I mean it.
Learn to deal with rejection emails. Giggle in the face of rejection. Understand that you can’t please all the people all of the time and anyway I bet they’re old and bitter and oh god, why, oh why, don’t they like me?
Forgive Michelle for ruining your non-stick wok. So what if it sticks now and it’s a bit rusty because she left it soaking all night instead of washing it straight away? At least she didn’t blow up your toaster.
Do push-ups before your shower in the mornings. Push-ups lead to bicep muscles - you know - the bumps on other people’s arms. But don’t kiss your biceps when you finish. Well alright, but only if no-ones looking.
I’ve really got to get this whole multiple personality wardrobe thing sorted out. Today I look like an Italian gigolo with hair slicked back, chinos (again) and a floral shirt. A person wearing a shirt this floral is either gay or very
comfortable with his masculinity; hence the Italian reference. And when I went to the gym at lunchtime I realised I’d packed my “skater kit” i.e. baggy shorts, red t-shirt with, um, one of those Mexican wrestlers with the hood things, well, skate boarding - and a cap, don’t forget the cap.
To make matters worse I’m doing a gig for my agency over the weekend where I have to be Brazilian. Selfridges (the swanky department store on Oxford Street) are having a Brazil promotion apparently. I still haven’t been told what I’m doing so I’ve taken the precaution of learning some Portuguese. Just in case.
Hey o menino cute, quer fazer o amor no quarto em mudança?
(Hey cute boy, want to make love in the changing rooms?)
Enjoy the weekend. I hope I will ;)
p.s. The agency have just called to say the gigs off, dammitt. Oh well, might still go to Selfridges and try and use that pick-up line anyway...
Trying this new picture thingumy from Blogger. This is a drawing that I just happened to scan at lunchtime. I'm getting into this 'power of technology' thing. Click on the image for a larger view.
You know you’ve been accepted in your new job locale when the Sandwich Man stops welcoming you as “Sir” and instead refers to you as “Boss”. It’s a small thing, but I was flushed with pride as I stood waiting for my cheese and tomato roll, and so, after I paid, I emphatically wished everyone in The Sandwich Box
an extremely good day.
On the walk back to the Office I realised I'd dressed up like Tom Sawyer
-gone-Fleet Street this morning . I have on a stripy white and blue shirt, sandalesque shoes and chinos. But mostly it’s the hair.
"He was not the Model Boy of the village. He knew the model boy very well though--and loathed him."
I think this means that I’m still not taking my grown-up job very seriously.
It’s nice to fall into the little domestic patterns. I walk into my room when I get home (which is usually a jumble of clothes, an ironing board, hair dryer) and open the little windowy things because it’s getting hot now. The windows are large but I only have the little shutter things to let the air in. And it’s incredibly loud at night. The little slats on the window seem to focus every sound into the corner of the room. It still amazes me how loud the night time world is; couples staggering home from the pub, random car alarms, even a bicycle sounds like a B52.
After opening the windows I take off my suit and shirt and add them to the mess on the floor. I put on green shorts. I lie down on my bed and have a few moments of 'me time'. ‘Me time’ usually involves picking at a spot on my chin and wondering what I have left to make dinner with. That done I get up and put away the ironing board. Susan has usually arrived home by now, tired from her day as a Social Worker in Brent and travelling back in rush hour.
“I was elbowed in the head!” She says, after dumping her bag in her room and sitting on my bed to roll a cigarette.
“Really? Did you thump him?”
“No, I said ‘Ow! You just elbowed me in the head…’”
“Well, the guy I was sitting next to was hogging the arm and poking me poking me with his elbow.”
Susan lights her cigarette and opens the empty film roll canister we use as an ash tray. Mucky pups.
“Did you thump him?”
“No, but I was just about to turn round and say ‘Would you like to put your arm in my lap, so you had some more room?’, but I think he got the vibe in time.”
I drop some dirty washing into my laundry basket.
“It’s a crazy world.”
Of course it doesn’t happen like that every night; it’s a variation on a theme. Susan tells me about her day and without naming names she lets me into some of the horrors of the UK welfare system. I put the oven on and then forget about it. Michelle arrives home slightly hung-over from the night before but still characteristically bright and chirpy. After dinner I sit and write for a while or play Spider Solitaire. After uninstalling all my games so there was nothing to procrastinate with, I’ve re-discovered this simple little game with its hours of fun and, um, procrastination.
Susan says goodnight. She goes to bed earlier than I do. I like to watch late night TV (the only time good programs like 6 Feet Under
and arty documentaries are on) and judge my bedtime by the force of gravity and the frequency of my yawns.
Words That Rhyme With.
Nikkei / today / Mandalay / weigh / Chevrolet / tray / flambé / Wednesday / East Bay / charcoal grey / may day / Santra Pas / special k / au fait / hey hey / Man Ray / oi vey / school play / clay / easy lay / fillet / Doctor Dre / blue jay / DJ / musical soiree / military attaché / action replay / dwindle away / u.c.l.a. / radioactive decay / sedimentary clay / in a similar way / classical ballet / every which way / suicide squeeze play / spiritual bouquet / without delay / hair spray / café au lait / underplay / right of way / u.s.a. / Des’Ree / x ray / milk whey / sea spray / replay / José / Bombay / i.r.a. / fiancé / underpay / back way / Morgan Le Fay / passive matrix display / disarray / disobey / Renee / toupee / Faberge / fray / Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet /ok?
The scenery on the drive down to Cambridge is punctuated with bright golden fields. They seem to be radiating their own sunlight.
“It’s Rapeseed” explains Charlie, “Terrible for hay fever.”
“What do they grow it for?” I ask.
Although I still have questions I let myself return to a gentle mathematics. It’s a half meditative state; I draw shapes along the countryside - triangles, hexagons, arcs, shapes with no names; points from wooden stumps to distant pylons and back again, clicking my teeth together at every brake in a hedge, tapping my foot to the rhythm of the road.
Once we arrive at Lucy’s house, a handsome Anglo-country cottage with an Aga and coffee brown beams, she mixes us all a drink and we sit outside eating brownies and sipping white wine or gin until it’s time to get ready to go out.
While Charlie and Lucy are showering, Trinity and I jump on one of the bicycles (all the other’s had flat tyres). I peddle and Trin perches precariously on the back. On the way to the village shop we cycle past a church with this sign;
For God’s Sake, Jesus loves you.
The roads get so narrow that cars wait either end to let us through. I can feel Trin’s fingers dig into my waist. When we wobble, she squeezes.
The next day, Kate and Tom arrive at lunchtime. When I make my appearance, squinting and knocking back three glasses of water, Lucy has almost finished all the food for the barbeque – a spiral pasta dish with poppy seeds, doughy white rolls dusted with flour, potatoes, salads with spicy cherry tomatoes and meat or faux-meat for the barbie. Tom makes Mojito’s using lemons, white rum and mint from the garden and the jug sits in the middle of the table with a large wooden spoon.
We eat quickly to begin with, and then we pick and nibble more lazily over the next few hours. Kate lays on a blanket and complains that her breasts are swollen as she’s about to have her period. Charlie offers to milk her but the suns too hot so instead we flop about on the grass, on garden chairs and a big green hammock, listening to the wood pigeons call to each other until it’s time for us all to go home.
I’m spending the weekend in Cambridge. Trinity and Charlie are driving (up? down?) tomorrow lunchtime to stay at Lucy’s house for the night. Lucy has returned to Cambridge a few months ago after she maxed out her credit cards and lives with her folks until she can raise some capital to move back to the Capital.
I’m really looking forward to the excursion. I love road trips; stopping at petrol stations for crisps, indiscriminately smiling at people as they overtake you, being reminded that the colour “green” does exist and it’s just outside the M25.
This will be my first time in Cambridge. Apart from knowing about the University and the dictionary I’m pretty ignorant about the place. Trin, Charlie and Lucy all turned out 'alright' so it can’t be too bad.
Kate is going up on to join us on Sunday as she’s DJing in Clapham Junction on Saturday night. Joe and Sam are working & Olly is going to a stag ‘do’ which means it’s going to be just me and a whole lotta girls. I might pretend that I’m a leader of a polygamous cult and imply that I married each girl on their 14th birthday.
“Well, of course there are jealousies, but you just have to be firm and explain that there’s only room for four in a bed at any given moment…”
Wonder if I can grow a long white beard by tomorrow?
I’m not sure how anyone in London moves smoothly from one job to the next. Yesterday I found a couple of vacancies that looked interesting and so sent off my CV* only to receive a phone call from the agency** a full 10 seconds after I pushed the send button. After an uncomfortable few moments where I had to quickly exit the office so no-one heard my conversation while explaining to the agent in a breathy whisper that I was “just nipping outside” he tells me that I’m perfect for the job.***
“What rate are you looking for?” The Agent asks excitedly.****
“A squillion pounds a minute!” replies my brain.*****
“I will have to look at the job description before I give you answer on that” I explain.******
Next we talk about the Interview times and the when they want the successful applicant to begin. This raises two points. Firstly, what disease I must create to get the morning / afternoon off (or whether this time I should invent some appointment I can’t miss)******* and secondly, how I’d get out of my one month notice period if I do get the job.********
Looking for work is a full time job in itself. Which I wouldn’t mind except the pays terrible, the guilt’s even worse and it forces you to behave like a double agent for a dodgy branch of the old KGB.********* Maybe I should just become a two time Whitbread Award winning novelist and spare myself all the hassle.
*Which, might I add, is sharper than a Ginsu knife.
**This is the first hurdle. Agents work on behalf of the employers and because they are impartial middle men, tend to be hyperactive and misleadingly optimistic about your suitability for the job.
***See what I mean.
****Obviously having finished his eighth coffee of the day.
*****Having just finished its ninth.
*******Dentist, GP, Andrologist.
********Almost every job wants you to start “immediately” but every employment contract expects you to give 4 weeks notice. It just doesn’t make sense. Why? Why?
*********The branch with moustaches.
Olly has his own hard labour company. He set it up a few years ago so because of this he has a lot of burly Auzzie, Kiwi and South African men that work for him; putting up grandstands and marquees for gardening exhibitions, media events and the Lord Mayor’s Show.
During dinner in a pizzeria in Clapham North last Saturday, Olly leant over and tapped me on the shoulder as I was tucking into a 14 incher.
“I was talking to one of my guys the other day - a kiwi - and I told him where you’re from. He says it’s a bit of a dump.”
The Scoobies are fascinated about New Zealand, and who I was there. When I bring up something indigenous they cock their heads. “I forget you’re from over there,” they say, looking intently at me as if I might suddenly sprout wings or do the haka.
This may say a lot for my assimilation into British Culture, but my response to Olly shows that perhaps not too much has changed. I squirmed. When I think back on my hometown in New Zealand - let’s call it Tapanapi - it still hits a raw nerve. (That’s a fictional name by the way, not to hide my identity but to protect the town. New Zealanders' are notoriously insecure about their beautiful nation so I want to avoid a crisis by alluding to the place as being anything other than an ideal “Middle Earth”).
I moved to Tapanapi with my Mother and sister when I was four. We travelled all the way from London and with no prior knowledge of New Zealand it seemed as good a place as any to settle. Resting in a valley and by a river, it boasted a population of nearly 40,000 and a reputation as Wife-Swapping Central back in the 80’s. It was quintessential New Zealand suburbia; bleach blonde kids playing cricket in the streets, pausing every now and then to avoid a car or to watch a tennis ball break the neighbour's greenhouse; a ten minute drive to black sand beaches; the constant drone of lawn mowers, and the ritual convergence to Kmart, the only shopping complex in town.
As I grew into a closeted young teenager, Tapanapi became a post-pubescent war zone. Young folk find it hard in any small place, but my town had a bit of a reputation, what with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country and a violent undercurrent that still makes it scarier than all the other places I’ve lived in, even on a good day. Sure there was racial dissension and raging alcoholism but the thing that really got to me was seeing people give up all hope of ever leaving. Me, I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there. I guess I’ll go back one day (My Mother and sisters moved to Wellington, NZ’s Capital, over five years ago,) but only to do a black and white documentary with lingering shots of smoking teens despondently sitting outside fast food restaurants, an old man asleep on a park bench, clouds - you know the sort of thing.
What to say, what to say. I am doing a lot of writing at the moment which is ironically making blogging a wee bit trying. You see, I’m using up all the funny. This drought hopefully won’t last long but perhaps I should to do something a little more interesting than sitting at my computer and tapping frenetically at the keyboard with my two good fingers, and then I can write about that. Hmm, interesting concept…
. Incidentally, I just finished His Dark Materials
and now I want to marry Phillip Pullman. Well, after he divorces his current wife and his children get used to having me around that is.
My gums bleed.
Sometimes I fantasise that my Dad buys me a cake and gives me a big hug.
I never really knew my ex-partner. I thought I did, but now I’m almost certain I was wrong.
I wish all the people would stop looking. And as soon as they do I’m sure I’ll miss them.
Something in my head tells me to be courageous. But there’s another voice there too. And it’s getting louder.
I’m only 21 but I think I’m damaged.
I have fallen in love with every person I have ever kissed. I’m not just talking a schoolboy crush here. Sometimes I lie awake all night and think of the softness of their lips and the bitter taste of their breath.
I couldn’t care less about the elderly.
I don’t think we should be allowed to adopt. We’re too immature. We’re children ourselves.
Happiness? I was happy once; it was just before George died. I knew I’d never see him again but I realised how much he’d given me in my life.
That’s not really my boyfriend. He’s straight. But he’s so good looking I can’t help lying to people.
The long and the short of it is that my feelings have changed. And until I find out what they are, I can’t be with you.
I can tell if a person is a cat person or a dog person immediately, but I’ve never bought a pair of trousers that doesn’t make my ass look like two pillowcases stuffed with flour.
The other day at a Chinese restaurant, a woman was looking at me so fiercely that I wanted to kiss her and bite her lips.
No one really asks me what’s going on in my life, because I’m too busy making everyone laugh.
My sister just came out and now I wish I’d beaten her to it.
If I had a penny for every cute barman in the world, I’d be a very drunk man.
I take days off and sit by the ocean.
I’m always embarrassed that I’ve never been to a country where they don’t speak English.
Johnny used to bring me a cup of coffee in the morning and on weekends he’d go out and buy hot rolls and jam and a newspaper. I was eating one of those bread rolls when he told me about his lover.
I hope you never make it big.
I think one of the worst things you can do to a person is bore them.
When I was a child I imagined that I’d grow up and have a wife, house and kids. I have all that now, but I wish someone had come up to me and said – if you fancy men, sleep with men. Don’t worry about the consequences.
I kill things; plants, ants, worms.
I can’t remember the last time I was really turned on. I think it was June.
My first lover used to like to take me out for dinner. He used to enjoy making the waiters cry and seeing the look on my face.
There are hardly any people that I’ll really miss.
I was a Joan of Arc type in a former life. They said so on one of those tarot phone-in lines. You should try it.
You probably heard about it from a friend of a friend, or in one of those infrequent emails that your cousin sends you from her teacher exchange job in Peru. Let’s just put all those rumours to rest right now. Yes, I was on roller skates last Saturday. That was me. Snap. A Roller Disco
Kate was DJing and each time I rolled past her she gave me a wink.
I was unsocial. No time to talk when I’m on wheels. Sure, I can’t do all the tricky turns like some, but I can weave and crossover with the best of them. And I can go fast. I grab Olly’s arse and almost make him fall over. I tell him it’s perfectly reasonable to bump into the slower cuter boys. I’m too fast for a law suit anyway.
Lorna whizzes past. She kicks her leg over the other to turn, her hands relaxed beside her. We skim past Joe who’s given up and is drinking a beer with Trin and Lucy on the seats. Kate plays The Boss
and the more upright skaters wave their hands at the chorus. A lovely looking boy watches me from the sideline. I check to make sure it happens again. It does.
“Just because you fell for me, why should I feel uptight?” sings Diana, as I narrowly miss a collision. Both skaters collapse on the floor before giving themselves to the laughter, throwing their heads back and collapsing back in helpless tears even as their friends stop to help pull them up.
Slept through the high pitch squeal of my alarm for exactly 1 hour and 20 minutes this morning, which meant -
I was already late for work before I finally woke up.
I couldn’t find my umbrella.
I got soaked on the way to the station.
I had to run from the tube station to the office.
I arrived sweaty and coughing and no one even acknowledged my existence because I was L.A.T.E and they didn’t want to share in my bad Karma. Bless them.