I’ve been in the land of cheese and novelty dildos, a land where a man in a Paisley cotton frock and cardigan can get on a tram, put a plastic colander on his head and attract no attention whatsoever . This is Amsterdam – where anything goes and frequently does. On my first night I go to Drag Central to play Deal or No Deal in a bar. Noel Edmunds is played by a he/she called Amy Housewine. The banker is played by Deirdre Barlow in a peach velour tracksuit complete with some very dodgy padding in the back AND front bottom areas. She’s obviously going for the prolapsed womb look which, I think is quite pioneering in the world of drag actery. Anyway, we play the game for a while and I win some suspicious looking unguent, following which, for no reason whatsoever, I join with a pocket-sized Asian gentleman to sing ‘Climb every mountain’. I’m here to celebrate E’s birthday. He’s got a house full. One small friend, a mother of three, has flown in from Majorca, another, a recently retired trolly dolly (also quite small), has jetted in from Minneapolis and we’ve got a law lecturer lady (of normal size) from Bury St Edmunds to boot. We are very pan-global. Unfortunately, with five people and only one bedroom, we are having to be creative in our sleeping arrangements. We stick the trolley dolly in the big bed while the girls hunker down on the put-me-up. There’s some talk of lying sideways on which means we can toss and turn without losing anyone over the edge but unfortunately, my legs are way too long so we agree to keep all wriggling to a minimum and snuggle up for the tightest night’s sleep ever. Our host offers us the choice of two teddies but we have to say no – like Jesus, there is simply no room in the inn. By contrast, at a recent jazz night in a Brighton basement, there is plenty of room. The night outside is Siberian raw and the performance is by a bunch of wannabees. Consequently, only a handful of peeps have made it to the gig. In the dim light, we huddle around our cups of cocoa while a girl with bed hair scats, ‘dooby, dooby, doo, wah, wah, wah’, accompanied on the double bass by a man in socks and sandals – very impractical footwear considering the weather I think. There’s a woman on a piano freestyling like a good ‘un but her solos seemingly have no end and the languid lady in a mini-dress who’s taken over the mike doesn’t know where to come in. Thankfully, a man from the back comes looking for the sugar bowl and somewhere in the midst of the ensuing kerfuffle, another man with a saxophone jumps on stage and starts hooting. I can’t write anymore, otherwise I will have to kill myself.
Archive for the ‘modern culture’ Category
After the tear-jerking and pant-wetting that was the opening ceremony I popped down to Horse Guards for some beach ball action. Top tip: do not put your dirty knickers in your mini manicure bag because a small soldier with pimples will want to examine them in case they contain a bomb. I have never had a bomb in my pants but I guess I could have hurtled down the grandstand onto the court and stabbed one of the volleyballers with my tweezers. It’s funny because I did get the urge to stab someone with my tweezers when I was queueing at the portaloo prior to going into the arena. Why do some women take so long to have a Jimmy Riddle? A wee is something you do chop chop - in fact if you push hard enough you can get it all out double time. It didn’t help that some Japanese ladies had got berserk with the toilet paper and created a big blockage. Once inside the arena, we were entertained by a bunch of orange dancing nymphettes and a very shouty man on a mike who kept urging us to do Mexican waves and perform complex clapping routines. I complied but then my buttocks lost contact with my pop-up seat and I fell on my arse. Meanwhile, in between games, for some inexplicable reasons they played Benny Hill’s theme tune while a group of young lovelies chased a man in Bermuda shorts up and down the aisles. Oh yeah and then there was an incident over by the Post Office tower involving a lot of black smoke – probably someone else’s pants had exploded.
I got stuck in the London to Brighton bike ride last weekend. I had a car load of design gurus making a pilgrimage to some Arts and Craftsy, National Trust pile just south of East Grinstead, quite close to where I’d once spotted Tom Cruise filling up at the Texaco garage and then been invited to an orgy by a farmer called David. You couldn’t make it up. Anyway, back in the car, one minute we were playing i-spy a groovy typeface, the next, we were surrounded by swarms of chunky buns in Lycra. We were helpless to resist – like an injured praying mantis being swept along a jungle path by thousands of impatient ants, we endured mile after mile of their cheery free-wheeling and uphill grimacing. Finally, we chucked up a side road and I pulled out the throttle. Two hours late, we reached our destination where we ooooed and aaaahhhd at a lovely wardrobe and a nice row of carrots. So glad we made the effort. Later in the week I went to a jazz session at the very hip Green Door in Brighton. This is the sort of place where a man can wear a beret and not get laughed at. When I walked in, a man, wearing a beret, was shouting into a microphone while another man played discordant notes on a clarinet. I asked the man on the door when the performance was starting which was obviously the wrong question because it already had. This was Dada. Then a man called Oxymoron came on and played a homemade xylophone on the floor to rapturous acclaim. During this I ate a packet of nuts which I figured was also quite Dada. Then Lena Lovich (who still wears a silly bonnet with stick on plaits) and a man that looked like a slightly slimmer version of Timothy Spall came on and murdered some Kurt Weill songs while a black man with a white goatee (very jazzzzzz) played a Heath Robinson double bass and a man with a cordoroy jacket mucked about on a trumpet while another grizzled old man with adenoid trouble recited a poem. This being jazz, periodically, it went all scatty and everyone did their own tedious solo, after which the audience politely clapped and gave out a few feeble whoops. On the way home I fell off my bike into a hedge. The End.
If I was a boy I would be Bear Grylls but with a slightly smaller nose. He and I share a love for going off-piste although I don’t fancy killing a dog, slicing it down the middle with my Swiss Army knife and waggling my hands around in its hot organs to keep my fingers from dropping off in the Yukon.
I wasn’t exactly in peril last weekend but I did go to Nyman’s Gardens and get a bit lost with Mr Tye the DIY. It started innocently enough; we admired a few big trees, I took pictures of wild garlic and Mr Tye, still in recovery from last night’s bean stew, let rip with some industrial strength trumps. Then I suggested we add a bit of spice into our ramble by leaving the track and striking off into a bush. Naturally, my big hair got caught up in some very angry brambles and I ripped the back of my jeans while hurdling a barbed wire fence. Following this, tempted by a plantation of giant cabbages. I tried to vault a stream but tripped, skidded through the mud and slid into the water. That’s when it got a bit Deliverance. Somehow, we’d wandered into some sort of game reserve complete with makeshift dens, tree viewing platforms, electric fences and men in black with guns. Tye, fearful of having his dark interior plundered by man flesh, quivered behind a tree. I took the hysterical route. Anyway, the upshot was, we were ‘rescued’ by two Chinese photographers who put us on the right track back to the grounds of the house where a couple called Richard and Alison were celebrating their wedding with a bouncy castle and the Buena Vista Social Club.
The next day, I went to a tango class in the Pavilion Gardens with a load of middle aged women and a teacher called Kirsty who had enormous knockers and very thin legs. There were way too many of us for the size of the tent plus there was a ruddy great sofa in the middle which meant we had to mince around in a circle to avoid treading on each other or falling over the furnishings. As per, I was playing the man but then, after we’d learnt a basic promenade, I got flung up against the real article, a midget of a man called Darren who had to take a very firm grip of me to stop me whizzing him off. The idea in tango is to lean in with your head at an angle while keeping your body away from your partner – easy if you’re both the same height but if you’re dancing with a circus freak, you’re prone to toppling. Next up was ‘Miguel’ who told me he was Brazilian but then his accent slipped and he turned out to be Michael from Portslade. Michael had the misfortune of clammy hands and an excess of saliva. Needless to say, I didn’t lock heads with him for fear of an invasion of his oral fluids.
It’s festival time in Brighton which means a whole lot of showing off, and drawing attention to oneself. These are not necessarily the same thing. For example, when I went to see the Gay Men’s Chorus in a church the other night, the highlight wasn’t ‘I am what I am’ but all the traffic to the vestry toilet. God knows what was going on in there but it was a big crowd pleaser; indeed, one Oriental ‘lady’ (this being the month of the Lady Boy, one never knows for sure) tottered along three times in her high heels – never once trying to muffle her clacking, even during the tender yet miserable rendition of Michael Buble’s ‘Home’. Talking of disrespectful audiences, last night, I went to see some modern dance at the Dome. First of all, we were confronted by a small pocket of Pro-Palestinian supporters outside who were protesting at the Israeli fiddlers playing in the Corn Exchange. Then, we were just settling down to some plinky plonky legs akimbo, decidedly non-Nijinsky moves when a family of four featuring a topless 10 year old boy – slumped down behind us and proceeded to chew, burp and slurp their way through the performance while simultaneously smelling of wee. After a sort of avant garde Gay Gordons where the dancers kept launching themselves, foetal-like off each other’s thighs, our aromatically challenged neighbours were moved to the back of the auditorium where they could reek and rustle to their heart’s content. Then, during a totally silent piece, someone’s mobile went off and four people stomped out. We later found out that there’d been a bit of a rumpus in the Jerusalem Quartet involving the same shouty people we’d seen at the entrance. Some old people in the audience cried while others tried to wrestle the protesters to the ground. And all the while, like the Titanic, the band played on. Talking of live performance, I went for a walk on the normally peaceful South Downs the other night and, on returning to Ditchling Beacon car park, found a man standing by his open-doored camper van playing a saxophone willy nilly. OK, so he wanted to share his jazz warbling with us but we didn’t need the bloody Hammond organ backing track. I mean, there’s a time and place. Talking of which, half naked man over the road has recently taken to going the whole hog and removing his underpants around tea-time and standing, quite casually, hands on hip at his front window. I did wonder if his was an Open House and he was doing a bit of performance art but then the police came and took him away so maybe not.
Once upon a time in Anatolia, a man had a perky prostate, went for a wee by a bush on a dark, windy night and then did a bit of chatting in a very cramped car. Meanwhile, a man who looked like Jesus tried to remember where he’d buried the man he’d recently murdered and a pretty girl made some tea in a candlelit cupboard. The chatting and the searching went on for about three hours and then, right at the end of the film, when they’d found the body, a very moany mortician performed an autopsy without an apron. As you can imagine, it was a bit messy and one man was squirted in the face with some liquid poo. Then I went home. Sadly, the late hour meant I had to make do with a very makeshift meal of beans on toast with two inferior chocolate biscuits for pudding. My next visit to the Duke of York’s was on Saturday to see the Met’s La Traviata. As usual for the DOY’s operatic occasions, the cinema was full of old people with very neat hair and shiny shoes. There were a lot of sandwiches and flasks of tea flying around the auditorium and quite a bit of coughing, tickly and chesty, although no-one died which was a bit surprising, given the proliferation of perambulatory type support equipment in the auditorium. The opera followed the usual operatic plotline – trollope type with decent size rack has an epiphany, falls in love within 5 seconds of meeting portly man, rolls around on the floor for a bit and then pegs it. The End.
It was Saturday, around tea-time when we were thrown into the final spin of Wagner’s Ring Cycle – six hours’ worth of warbling, scrambling up the scenery and dry-kissing by some very chunky individuals. Our hero, Siegfried, had thin lips and a straggly mullet while his Brunnhilde, a passionate red-head, looked like she’d run up her own dress from a couple of potato sacks and a Doctor Marten shoelace. No wonder he ditched her for the lopsided lady with the Tressy hair and the tin boob. Siegfried had a horn and he used it to maximum effect to woo sack woman and tin woman. It looked to me like half the chorus also fancied him, especially when he leapt off his boat and stood, legs akimbo, sword a-thrust, and suggested to a man he’d only just met that they should both self-harm and then get all Twilighty with each other. Everyone, it seemed, was keen to get hold of Siegfried’s ring, especially, three be-sequinned river nymphs who kept climbing up the ‘river’ on their hands and knees and then hollering, ‘give us your ring’ as they slid down like they were on the Helter Skelter at Brighton pier. All I could think was how shiny their bottoms must be after each performance. Anyway, then Siegfried got speared by his new mate’s brother, a colossus of a man with messy dreads, at which point, tin tit woman started lamenting how she’d ‘never hear his horn ever again’ – and the man next to me started crying (there were a lot of light-footed types in the audience, as well as mature ladies with lazy bladders). We had two intervals; during one, I had a rose-flavoured cup cake and darjeeling; during the other I munched on a Jamaican pattie from Cummin Up, a pop-up shabeen on the other side of Preston Circus. The following evening, I was delighted to see the director – who had so skillfully coaxed my perfect performance of ‘lady in autumnal tweed chit-chatting with gentleman friend at cheese and wine party’ in the short film, GG – was awarded the Bafta for his screen-play of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I still daydream about David Morrissey with no socks rammed up against a bookcase while I shared nibbles and Ribena with a mature homosexual. Happy days.
I was on my way to post a letter when my hitherto taciturn neighbour – a swarthy stoner with a rectangular head and sporadic stubble – beckons me over the road. Him: ‘Can I have a quick word?’ Me: (thinking, have I rammed his scooter during one of my bish, bash, bosh parking manoevres, or maybe I’ve inadvertently stolen one of his recycling boxes?) No, nothing so prosaic…..’What do women want from men?’ he demands, his swarthy brows knitting as he draws heavily on his Camberwell Carrot. So deep, so meaningful, and so utterly weird. I mutter something about ‘understanding’ and ‘being listened to’ and, thinking about my rotten compost bin and toilet that jerks alarmingly to one side when an arse descends on it, throw in ‘most of us appreciate an occasional burst of DIY too’. As I’m musing on all the other things women want from men, like the ability to fight off a bear and an innate understanding of what’s good and bad in the underpant department, Oddbod mumbles something about a pizza, straddles his scooter and buggers off. Later on that day I have two accidents; firstly, a new shop at the bottom of my road causes me to fall off my bike. I’m casually peddling along the pavement when I catch a glimpse of a baby in a bell jar. In a shopping street normally populated by Cuban hairdressers and Nigerian Mini-Marts, this is a strange sight indeed. I do a double take and lose my balance, falling off my bike, whereupon the shop owner invites me into his freakish emporium for a rummage. The shop specialises in ‘roadkill couture’ and Victorian antiquities and I put on a good show, marvelling at the Zebra’s head on the wall but really, I don’t feel that a set of stuffed spiders or a pair of mahogany calipers are going to add anything to my life so I make my excuses and leave. Later on that night I scald my hand on a hot saucepan and now have a large suppurating blister on my palm. I take much advice on whether water blisters should be burst or not but decide to operate on myself with a large darning needle. I am now leaking plasma left, right and centre.
Last weekend was White Night in Brighton. What that, I hear you ask. Well, I’m not sure because this year, like last year, I was there but not there, if you get my drift; the action was strangely elusive. Early evening I’d sauntered up to Kemp Town to hear a man warbling away on an organ in a glorified garage. This being Brighton, I was drinking Bishop’s Finger out of a Clarice Cliff teacup and trying not to rub up against a sink full of someone’s dirty dinner plates. Warble over, I went down town to check out the bohemian action. First off, I passed through the Old Steine where a couple of flappers were holding a Charleston dance class in a big top. On New Road, a woman/man/bit of both was singing Dolly Parton tunes to a sozzled mob from a small balconette while in a church on West Street, they were holding life drawing classes in the vestry – apples or tits, there was a choice. I headed for the Pavilion Gardens where I joined a queue for five minutes for I know not what. Then I headed for Fabrica where I’d heard there was going to be a bit of shouting but when I got there the shouting had stopped or quite possibly hadn’t started. Next was the Dome which was thronged with all manner of costumed folk: zombies and nymphomaniacs were favourite and in the ladies toilet, someone (probably the King Kong I’d seen at the bar) had ripped a toilet bowl off its moorings causing quite a flood. This, I felt, was more in keeping with the likes of the Stanmer Arms (famous for the night a man had his ear bitten off because he’d looked at someone funny). On the way home, I didn’t trip on a coke can and sprain my ankle like last year but I was glad to get in and have a nice cup of tea.
The night after the coffee cup reading, I went on an adventure in a tank. Our group was mostly German but for some light relief, there was also an odd Japanese woman who spent the whole day eating dried fish on the back seat. We were heading to Thorsmork, scene of the volcanic eruption that blighted the airline industry early last year. On the way, we passed by an aluminium factory, an ‘Elf Church’, and a town full of greenhouses. With the Icelandic diet full of stuff like shark, sheep heads and fish balls, apparently, they go ga-ga for exotic fruits. Yes, this was banana city. Anyway, the town, our trusty guide told us, is built on a very thin crust of earth which can make gardening a bit of a precarious business. No double digging here then! In fact, one family famously had a geyser explode in their front room one Friday night while they were watching Deal or no Deal. Moving on to the volcano, we collected a plastic bag of volcanic ash, went to the toilet and got soaking wet trying to cross a glacial stream. Oh how we laughed as we stumbled across volcanic boulders, leaping from one rock to another and occasionally losing our balance and toppling into the raging torrents of water, right up to our knees, soaking right through our two pairs of trousers, special rambling socks and new leather boots. Gggrrrrr! At the end of the trip, back at Friend A’s, I had a quick sulphorous shower then it was onto the ladies-only ecstatic dance class. With Moby on the sound system and the honk of incense in the air, we twizzled, swooned and skipped our way barefoot around the room. There was a bit of ‘smudging’ – although that had to stop when one lady singed her snood – and at one point we all had a group hug. I found this a little claustrophobic as I was on the inside and had a very hefty lady called Stella who was giving me way too much love from behind and pressing me into Olin’s quite frankly, dangerous breasts. Of course, my other problem was wind – what with all that jumping up and down on my eggs and cold meat breakfast, I had terrible difficulty holding in my gases. Finally, the ecstasy reached a climax and we sat around in a circle, massaging each other’s knobbly bits. And so, with my chakras wide open and positively tingling, it was time to get pissed. We headed down to the local pub, a cavernous working men’s club style gaff rammed to the gills with one-armed bandits and pool tables. Sadly, they were short on punters, save for three be-hooded odd-bods who were sat at the bar, huddled over their pints, watching a documentary about polar bears on the bar’s big screen. In the ad break, one of them staggered over, slipped me some Icelandic blarney and kissed the top of my head. Was this my coffee-cup hero? God help me.