51:32:35 l0:03:22

TGI Paul

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Useless Information Titbit #42

Gordon Bennett, whose name became an expletive, was born in 1841. By the age of 25 he was earning over a million dollars a year after tax.

He got through $40million in his lifetime. He paid $2,000,000 for a yacht which had a specially designed room for an Alderney cow to supply him with fresh milk.

He once tipped a porter $14,000 & bought a Monte Carlo restaurant on the spot when he arrived to find his regular table was occupied. He had the offending party evicted, sat down at his table, then gave the restaurant to one of the waiters!

He was the man who commissioned Stanley to find Livingstone.

Pointless I know, but it may fill a gap in a conversation one night in the pub!

Though, if it's come to that, you're probably better off going home.

Monday, January 29, 2007


I thought I'd better post a paragraph or two as I haven't been around much lately and I don't want to lose what few regular readers I've managed to build up in my first year here (love ya!!)

I've been distinctly short of inspiration lately. Well, to be honest, it just hasn't been a very inspiring year so far. I found out more news about Jay; that he'd infact been living back at his ex's for the last 4 months we were seeing each other. This explains an awful lot, and though I do believe that it is a completely non-sexual arrangement, the lack of honesty, respect and anything else that's decent, has been really hard to deal with.

I have text him a few times, which I know I shouldn't but I just have so many questions that need answering and I was seeking some closure. OK, maybe I bordered on obsessing about it for a few days. But I got no replies. The guy doesn't even have enough respect to say sorry.

Quelle f**king surprise!!

It leaves you feeling really empty when you get treated like this. You start thinking you really must be a c**t for someone to believe it's ok to mess you around so much. It's soul destroying.

Someone once told me that people will only treat you in the way you allow yourself to be treated. This has been going round in my head loads lately. Am I a doormat? Am I that desperate to be loved that I allow myself to be blinded? Was I obviously that weak that he spotted an easy target?

The other thing I've heard lately (I think it was on a rerun of 'Sex & the City'... which is often as useful as any counselling session!) is that we tend to believe only the bad things that people say about us. I think this is so true.

Example: I went out for dinner a couple of weeks ago with Alfie. He said some beautiful things about me... that I was handsome, fun, intelligent and had loads to give the right person when they (eventually) came along. But did I take that on board? Of course not! I continued to dwell on the non-verbal message I'd got from Jay.

Then last week I went for dinner at G&V's. I had a lovely evening, although I was worrying for a lot of it that I wasn't being 'fun enough' or 'interesting enough'. But looking at them together was so lovely, and inspiring, that it actually helped me get over Jay. They are such a lovely couple, and you can't imagine either of them with anyone else. They will soon move into their new place together and are so looking forward to their future. (But not in one of those really horrible 'we,we,we' ways that makes you feel sick... do you know what I mean?)

I left and walked up to the bus stop and thought to myself that I want to be THAT happy, and I reaffirmed within myself that I don't actually need anyone else to be a part of my life to MAKE me that happy!

So, I've been throwing myself into work, which is going great. I'm sorting out a few personal issues, getting back on track with cardiac appointments, keeping up the dental work and hygienist visits, and will re-emerge, like a phoenix from the flames!

Then Jay can kiss my butt!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

7 Successes & 5 Secrets Pt 2

Well it's been a couple of days since I wrote the first part of this tag, so I've had plenty of time to think about which 5 things that you don't know about me are fit to print! Apologies to TroubledDiva for the late response!

I've had what some may call a 'chequered past', I prefer to call it colourful, so I thought I'd divulge 5 parts of my personal history that I've been meaning to blog for a while. I hope you find them enlightening!

1) My Famous Aunt

This may come as little surprise to those who know me well personally, but I'll write it for the rest of you; I led quite a 'showbiz-y' childhood. My Mum is an ex-Dancer you see and when I was much younger she still had a few friends in 'the business'.

Way back in '74 we went to see an old friend of hers,
Tommy Godfrey, an actor probably best known as Sid the Caretaker in 70's 'comedy' "Mind Your Language", and met a young singer called Tammy Jones. Tammy quickly became a close friend of the families, and a regular at my parents parties. I used to call her Auntie Tammy.

Soon after we met her, she entered
'Opportunity Knocks', a TV talent show, singing "Let Me Try Again". She won five times, becoming the longest winner until Bernie Flint won six times in a row. Her single went to # 5 in the charts in April '75, and the album of the same name topped the charts also.

Later that year she entered 'Song for Europe' singing "Love's A Carousel". Sadly she came 6th, but at least she lost to 'Brotherhood of Man' who went on to win the Eurovision. I think this is where my fondness for the competition came from! Another album followed and she was named highest selling female recording artiste of 1975.

From then until the end of the decade we would spend some of our holidays with Tammy wherever she was working. She would rent a house for summer seasons at places like Great
Yarmouth and Eastbourne, towns that had the end-of-the-pier theatres that are sadly disappearing, and we would stay with her. I remember spending a lot of time backstage with people like Marti Caine (I used to stand behind her on a chair to help do the top of her dress up!), Les Dawson and Jim Davidson.The Christmas holidays where a similiar thing, full of panto's and magic!

Very often we'd all meet her after the show, and go for dinner with all the acts, along with any others that were in the same town at other theatres. I remember sitting next to John Inman and Bobby Crush one night which was quite a frightening experience for a five year old boy!

I remember also one night in a Greek restaurant in Bradford, where Tammy was doing 'Cinderella' at the Alhambra Theatre. The owner was so impressed that he had Tammy Jones in his restaurant that he got her up to sing. She did gladly; she was always happiest singing, especially after a few drinks! In fact, this actually got us a visit from the police one night when Tammy started belting her lungs out in our back garden at one of my parents bar-b-q's. As soon as the policemen saw who was causing the noise though, they came in and joined the party for a while!

2) Me As A Performer

I suppose, growing up like this, it was inevitable that the stage would draw me in sooner or later! At senior school I was very lucky to have an excellent drama teacher, Frank Whately. He used to regularly cast me in school plays, and I started as Puck in Midsummers Nights Dream when I was 13.

Through him I got involved with the National Youth Music Theatre too as he and our music teacher, David Nield wrote many of their shows. I even had a part written with me in mind for the show 'The Ragged Child'. It was the lead role, and the show was to be staged at Sadlers Wells. It also went to the Edinburgh Festival and was then made into an album, but I had decided to leave school so I couldn't be a part of it. This is a HUGE regret!

When I left school at 16 I joined an amateur group to play Artful Dodger in Oliver! at Wimbledon Theatre. This led on to me playing leads for various groups in, amongst others, 'Godspell', 'Little Shop of Horrors', 'Anything Goes', 'Cabaret' and the amateur debut of 'Me & My Girl' at the Epsom Playhouse.

I must get some photo's scanned and put on here one day!

3) Butlins

I briefly mentioned this once before but thought I'd slip it in again!
In 1989, having just done a dance show called 'Timestep' in Putney, I went and auditioned at Butlins to become a dancer at one of their hotels. I went because it was the only audition in The Stage for weeks that didn't require Equity membership!

I got the job and spent the summer of '88 at The Ocean Hotel in Saltdean, just outside Brighton. I would do redcoat duties during the day, and in the evening take part in the cabaret. We had different guests most evenings, and every saturday was Susan Maughan, of 'Bobbys Girl' fame.

So for the summer of '89 I would spend every saturday being 'Bobby', dancing round Susan Maughan as she sang her biggest hit.

4) Life's A Drag

Yes it's true! I did do drag! Now, this may not sound like a revelation, after all most gay men have, at some time or another, donned a frock at some point for a party or a bet, but I mean I did it semi-professionally for a while! No half measures here!

It was around 1989 and I was living in Ipswich (just don't ask!). Our local gay pub decided they would throw an amateur drag night in an attempt to 'liven the place up a bit'. Unsurprisingly, come the week of the contest they had only one entrant and the owners came and asked me & my flatmate if we would PLEASE take part and help get the night going!

Well, we were young and up for a laugh so we agreed. We got some fab little mini dresses, and worked out a couple of mime routines. I think we chose 'It's Raining Men' and 'Enough is Enough' for that first night.

Though I say so myself, we were pretty damn good actually, and stormed the night, winning champagne and some cash! In fact, we were so good that the owners asked if we would do a full cabaret there! £100 for a 45 minute show. "OK! You're on!" said I, idiotically.

We called ourselves 'Bittersweet' ("I'm the sweet one!"), and worked on more numbers and got more costumes and proper wigs. The full show went down equally well, and we were asked to start doing them regularly. It all started taking on a life of its own.

One night, after a show, we threw our frocks, feathers, wigs and stilletoes in the back of the car and drove down to London to have a night out with our cabaret wages. We partied all night and slept in the car, ducking into a McDonalds in the morning to wash. We went to a pub at lunchtime with our last £5, and, as I glanced through a copy of Boyz paper, I noticed that there was a sunday afternoon amateur drag contest at a pub in Kings Cross. Well, as we had the stuff in the car we thought we'd see if we'd be able to win in London.

We won! We won the final a few weeks later too... more champagne and cash! There was an agent there and we were signed up to them before we could get out of our heels!

For the next coupleof months we were sent all over the place, mostly to pubs that more established acts wouldn't work in! It didn't last for long as we really couldn't keep travelling round the country at weekends when we both had full time jobs, but it was quite good fun for a while.

5) My Ex-Husband

1994, and gay 'weddings' were a long way off. I was dating a singer (the showbiz theme continues), as well as being his manager. I was about 24.

We'd met via a boyband I was in (should this have been number 5 really?). He was on the books at the same agency and we frequently ended up doing showcase nights or nightclub PA's together. It wasn't long before we were became an item.

After some disputes with our manager, the boyband left the agency and I was nominated to take over the business side of the band. Then he left the agency too so I started looking after him too. We got a production deal for him, and a record deal soon followed. In fact, I co-wrote the b-side, the a-side being a cheesy, typically gay club, cover version. It was number 1 in the pop-tip charts for about 9 weeks, and even longer in the charts published in Boyz.

In September of that year we had a 'blessing', performed by a gay minister. It was quite a small 'do' in comparative terms but we just wanted to make a public commitment. My family came, and my Nephew, who was only about 2 or 3 then, was the ring bearer in a little sailors outfit. He looked gorgeous!

Sadly, it only lasted about 2 years. The stresses of working and living together 24/7 became too much and it became irretrievable. But I'm so proud we did it, and have really fond memories of our few years together. We had a lot of fun with the gigs, pa's, radio roadshow tours and the like.

When we split, a leading gay entertainments agency offered me a job as they'd been impressed by what I'd done for my ex, but after a short while I realised the tantrums of the gay scene divas weren't for me and went back to work in restaurants.

Sorry it's taken so long to put this together, but it turned into quite a trip down memory lane for me. I hope it's been as enjoyable to read as it was to write!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

7 Successes & 5 Secrets Pt 1

I'd not heard of a meme until a few days ago when Troubled Diva tagged me with one! Maybe it's a practice that's died out a little as I've not been aware of it at all in my first virtual year (I mean that in both senses of the word virtual; 1st anniversary pending!)

So anyway, it's high time I got on with a response. It's been tough chewing over the subject, 7 Successes and 5 Things You Don't Know About Me. So much of my blog is personal that I've written about most of these things as they've happened, and if I haven't it's probably because I don't want you to know!

Anyway, let's get going. Successes first... Please note: these are not in order!!

1) My Friends
Maintaining friendships, and discovering which ones are worth emotional investment is probably one of the hardest parts of adult life in a world as busy as ours. I've always held the theory that people you meet are either for a lifetime, a reason or a season.
Distinguishing and recognising who fits in where is crucial, and we've all made mistakes. This year, I've made some mistakes; Jay for instance was there for a reason; I needed to learn to love myself and accept my worth as a human being. I thought he was a lifetime though, hence the huge disappointment. Others have run the risk of being for a season, but through effort and love we've kept them going. I'm not just proud of this, but thankful also.

2) My home!
I've got myself out of the shithole that I was sharing with 3 other gay guys, a lesbian, and 3 cats (I used to call it 'Four Poofs & Four Pussies', I'm kind of sorry about that now, so un-PC!) It really was a dive though, so much so that some of my friends refused to eat there! We had 1 tiny kitchen and 1 bathroom between the five of us. Kim & Aggie would have had a field day!

I've swapped it for my lovely apartment and am now on the London property ladder, a notoriously hard place to get to!

I love my little pad, and have a lodger now too which helps out with the finances alot! I've picked well there too, he's a great guy, so that's another success but I guess putting it seperately is a bit of a cheat!

Most importantly; I can see myself staying for here a while. It's about time I put down some roots, and Hackney is way better than Phil & Kirsty would have you think!

3) My Job!
I've got my own little restaurant at last, via a few months in Head Office. I love being in Hampstead village, and I've weeded out the two bad apples in the crew. This means the others have now started working exactly as they should, and not out of fear but out of respect; for me and for the restaurant as they always knew it could be.

I've been there just 6 weeks, but it's already a cleaner, happier place with a really positive 'vibe' about it. I'm very proud of this!

4) My Hobby!
As I mentioned earlier, I've virtually completed my first year of blogging. By doing this, I've kep contact with some great friends, and made quite a few new ones (see the blog roll in the sidebar). I have regular readers from Portland to Thailand, and South Africa to Hong Kong. All of you make logging on an exciting experience for me daily!

I've also had an outlet for my thoughts and ideas, a chance to write, and an opportunity to make sense of myself. Self realisation has been in abundance and it's been a massively worthwhile experience.

5) Family birthdays!
I've helped organise some great days! The Sis's 40th was particularly notable, as the occassion prescribes, but Mum's was also good, and Nans 90th was a lovely day too! Mini J's was the trip to Blue Man Group which was superb. We've had some really lovely family days, and thats the most important thing really.

6) Small Achievements...
This seems like a really silly one, but the sense of achievement here was massive! I've completed the hardest SuDoku I've ever attempted! The Friday Deadly Killer; target time 55 minutes, no numbers to start with... AND I CAN DO THEM EVERY WEEK NOW!!

And lastly...
I've survived! Ok, so only just! But two years after the heart attack and 10 years on from the HIV diagnosis, I'M STILL HERE!!

This has taken me a lot longer than expected, so I'll carry on with the
'5 things you don't know...' tomorrow. See you then!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I'm a Walking Disaster Area... Beware!

When I was a child, 'Walking Disaster Area' was my Dads nickname for me. It was borne out of the fact that there seemed to be weekly visits to Kingston Hospitals A&E Dept. It was once suggested that they should just reserve a bed for me.

I lost the end of my little finger trapping it in a door when I couldn't even walk properly, I split my chin open three times, and my head twice. I bought my Dad an Army pen knife while on a school holiday to Switzerland (unbelievable that this was allowed!), and then tested it on my jeans, only to find it was actually sharp enough to go straight through to my leg too!

My curse has continued into adulthood, with various illnesses and traumas meaning that I have a lifetime of consultants and check-ups to look forward to.

The curse doesn't seem to be limited to just me either. It can, and does, extend to the immediate area around me. My time at the Islington restaurant had
a few disasters while I was there, and since I've been at Hampstead there have been a couple too.

Firstly, the road outside the restaurant subsiding on the Saturday evening before Christmas. It literally just sank! About 4ft down, with lamposts and bus stops going askew. By the next morning it had been dug out to about 20ft round and 15ft deep as Thames Water tried to sort the issue out, meaning we lost all electrics and water supply on our busiest weekend. Then yesterday the underground station was closed and evacuated when a fire broke out in their pipes and black smoke started pouring out onto the street from a vent just outside my restaurant.

Yesterday evening, the most recent attack of the jinx happened. Just after writing
yesterdays entry about two upcoming dates, one of which I was particualrly excited about, I stood up from my chair to get myself ready for a dinner with Alfie. As I'd been sat with my legs crossed, my left leg had 'gone to sleep'. I put my weight on it to try to get it working and then took a step onto my right leg to balance.

Now, at this point those of you with a fragile constitution should skip a paragraph.

As I then moved my sleepy left leg forward, I was unaware that the foot had just flopped down, limp as an old lettuce leaf, so when I went to stand on it again I put all my weight onto the front tip of the big toe and cracked it back under my body, twisting my knee underneath me as the hallway carpet rushed up to meet my cheek.

So now, my toe looks like a nuclear sized black olive, and both dates are cancelled. I have a cold, and my jaws are aching so much that I have taken the new teeth out. I therefore can't walk or eat. I am feeling thoroughly horrible, old and very sorry for myself.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

New Year, New Restaurant, New Teeth, New Man...? Oh, and a new casserole dish!

Yes, new teeth.

I've been having problems for some time with mine. Partly an HIV thing, which at least means I get my mouthwash free from the doc. It culminated towards the end of last year with being told that I had periodontitis and would have to lose some.

Last Tuesday, 2nd Jan, I went and had the extractions. 8 in total. Happy Bloody New Bloody Year! It took 10 vials of anaesthetic to get me numb but the procedure still hurt like mad. One in particular felt like someone was trying to pull a finger straight out of my hand, but with worse sound effects!

I now have 4 very realistic looking front false teeth, and the two molars taken out each side at the back have just been replaced by one each to give me more room in there. The plate's still not very comfortable, but the gums will take time to heal, and I'm going back tomorrow to get the it adjusted.

I also have two dates tomorrow. Yes, really... two! Not at the same time either, in case that's what's crossing your dirty little minds!

Firstly, at lunchtime, I'm going to meet a guy I met on Saturday night when I went for a drink after work. We're going to go to London Zoo, purely because I've never been and I want to! I'll post pictures of any animals that aren't hibernating!

Then in the evening, I'm meeting a guy I originally met a couple of years ago. We had a 'brief encounter' (i.e a one night stand) after eyeing each other up in the Black Cap in Camden and I went back to his house. I remember it being a very smart place with lots of photo's round the lounge of him meeting various high-up politicians, including one of him & Margaret Thatcher.

It was about a week or so later when I opened The Times to see his photo. It turned out he's a journalist and wrote a weekly column for them. Then one morning I turned on breakfast TV to see him chatting away to Natasha Kaplinsky on the sofa!

Well, just before Christmas I was sitting in the King William in Hampstead and in he walked. I smiled and nodded a 'hello' to him, which he returned, then he took a seat on the barstool next to me. We chatted some pleasantries for a short while, then I said "You don't remember me do you?"

He looked shocked and admitted he didn't. I explained, briefly, where we'd met. I also admitted that I did have a huge advantage on remembering him as I read his column fairly frequently, and have seen him on tv a few times too.

"Well I'm not surprised I took you home, after all you are very handsome," he smiled, "but I am surprised I didn't take your number and see you again."

"Well, it's a good job you've got this second chance then eh?" I joked.

He has now moved to another broadsheet and writes a daily column. He has also sold up in Camden and just moved into a place in Hampstead Village (along with his weekend home in the Cotswolds!)

I also took Jays horrible Christmas present shirt back to Selfridges! Now, I've always wanted a Crueset casserole dish, but they are ridiculously expensive and I could never warrant the spend. But there I was, with £75's worth of vouchers and they were all reduced in the January Sale. YAY!

So I bought one, and with enough left over to buy a lasagne dish from the same range. It was a bittersweet moment; I never imagined I'd be buying my first Crueset on my own, with vouchers from a returned, ill chosen, present from a lying ex.

Not that I ever actually *imagined* buying my first Crueset.....

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Not Been Around Much Lately

I had a comment from a regular reader yesterday that I haven't been blogging recently. To be honest, I've not had a great Christmas and New Year and I didn't want to write boring, miserable rubbish that would bring other people down during their holidays.

To start with I only had the one day off, the 25th, so I wasn't full of festive spirit anyway. My mobile buggered up on the 23rd too so I couldn't even get hold of most people I know, because that's where I store their numbers.

On the Monday, the 18th, Jay got in touch saying he wanted to meet me, take me for dinner and give me a gift. We arranged the 22nd, 10:30pm at London Bridge station.

On that Friday 22nd I went with G&V and some other friends to see "The Little Shop of Horrors" at The Chocolate Factory. It was an excellent show! This was the highlight of my Christmas. The cast, and the set were fabulous! They were all going into town for drinks after, but I left them to go and meet Jay.

He didn't make it, texting that he was feeling rough from a big night the day before. I got the message at 10:35, while I was standing in the station forecourt, gifts in hand and freezing cold. I went back to meet up my friends, who I should never have left, feeling so stupid and foolish.

When they all went home, I stayed out. I decided to go to Central Station in Kings Cross. Believe it or not, Jay was there! Fireworks followed! I had his gifts with me but refused to give them to him, saying he wasn't worthy of anything from me. He looked pathetic, "But I've bought you something really nice" he said "Please meet me tomorrow?"

The following morning he text me, asking to meet me for lunch at 2pm. I agreed, god knows why, but ended up running late and when I got there at 2:30 he was waiting out in the street, saying he'd got bored waiting in the restaurant. He handed me a Selfridges bag with a Ted Baker shirt in it.

"Sorry it's not wrapped," he said.

The shirt was horrid, not 'me' at all. Ironically, I'd also bought him a shirt, a crisp white boxed set, with silk tie and silver cufflinks. I'd also found a bear dressed in a Gordon Ramsey chef outfit, in memory of my birthday at Claridges. I also wanted to invite him to Manchester to see Kylie with me.

"I'll put the receipt in the bag so you can change it if you want," he added. I'd obviously not hidden my disappointment too well!

After we parted, and I was on my way to work, I looked at the receipt.

23/12/06 14:11 Yup! he'd actually gone to Selfridges that day while he waited for me. This explained why he hadn't met me the night before, because he hadn't yet got round to getting me anything and had been lying all week.

I stewed over this all Christmas, at home on my own on Christmas day, mobile knackered, feeling sick thinking about him. On Boxing Day I sent this e-mail from work;
"Hey Jason,

How was your time off? I hope you had fun!

You'll be reading this on the 2nd probably, so I'll be in hospital. Great way to start the year eh?

Sorry to do this by e-mail, but I just wanted to let you know that I know what a useless liar you are. Last week you said right from the start that you'd bought me a great gift, and you wanted to give it to me over dinner. Well maybe you were trying to impress me, but it was a lie, and liars never impress me. I thought you'd have known that by now.

You even repeated the claim on Friday night when I caught you in Central Station. You were lying again, not just about the gift now, but also about why you couldn't meet me at London Bridge that night. On the Saturday, you lied more about waiting for me in the restaurant until 2 0'clock when they closed. Your lie just grew and grew.

It turned out pretty good for you that I ran late that day eh? It gave you time to nip into Selfridges and get the shirt right?

'23/12/2006 14:11' the receipt says.

And to think I was so worried about keeping you waiting!

So I just want to say forget that Manchester we talked about going on, I'll sell the Kylie tickets. In fact, unless you can pull the old Jason, or a new-improved honest one, out of the bag, then please forget me also. I'm going to do my best now to try and forget you too.

I've given you so much patience, consideration and support, and all you've given me is rubbish. Think back over the last six months and all I've done for you, for very little in return emotionally. Not content with messing up these last six months, letting me down at every opportunity, you then had to ruin my Christmas. I felt physically sick for most of it. Sick that I'd been made such an idiot. I've never lied to you Jason, about anything, and you should know that. I, on the other hand, can't believe a word you've ever said.

Good luck in your new home, and I wish you a happy and prosperous 2007 - I hope it turns out better for both of us than this one.