Monday, 23 December 2013

Marks & Spencer, Muslims and a Matter of Taste.

Marks & Spencer, that great old bastion of Britishness.
The place where you could go for a pork pie, a prawn sandwich, a bottle of Prosecco and a pair of tights.
A store so vanilla, user friendly and middle of the road that you could patiently wait in line to hand over your money and leave, happy in the knowledge that your purchases haven't caused religious upset or created intolerance.
Except that doesn't seem to be the case anymore.
Your prawns and your underwear have been happily scanned, processed and bagged but your processed pork and your bottle of Prosecco have caused an affront to religious sensibility, and however politely your purchases may have been refused and your payment rebuffed, you've crossed the line of political correctness.
Who knew a pork pie could cause such offence?
Marks and Spencer and their ever wanting need to be all things to all people have decided that any member of staff who is Muslim and does not wish to serve customers who are purchasing alcohol or anything 'porkish' can 'politely' refuse to do so.
It's terribly convenient that we've found this out a couple of days before Christmas because in affect, what M&S have succeeded in doing is to now make most of their customers begin to racially profile every cashier in their stores.
Anyone sat behind a till in a headscarf or with a hint of a beard is going to find that anyone with a fondness for a Bucks Fizz or a Percy Pig is not going to want to approach them. Nobody wants to wait in line on Christmas Eve with a shopping cart full of food only to have their mixed nuts handled and bagged but have their gammon and bottle of vodka never make it past the 'next customer please' block.

Let's face it, the majority of M&S customers are middle aged and upward.
They have enough to worry about without judging what the reaction of the cashier is going to be once they've placed a packet of breaded ham in front of them.
This is the company that has used Dame Helen Mirren and Helena Bonham Carter in their advertising. Both fabulous, glamorous, earthy women who look like they wouldn't be adverse to knocking back a shot of tequila or snacking on 'pigs in blankets' (google it if you don't know what they are) at Christmas time.
At a time when it seems that the only thing Marks & Spencer can do right is to keep their food hall busy and inviting, it looks like this could be the final kick in the teeth for their loyal customer. M&S is a high street store. It's not Fortnum & Mason but then again it's hardly Iceland either. Some people see M&S food as a necessity, others a luxury, so it's hardly the correct message to send out to the myriad of Daily Mail readers who buy their clothes there, that the next time they fancy a bottle of gin or a BLT they may not pass go, get passed the velvet rope or even get to pay 5 pence for a carrier bag.
It seems to me to be political correctness and fear of religious upset gone mad.
If I didn't want to handle or sell pornography, I wouldn't get a job in a sex shop and if I didn't get to get my hands dirty or covered in oil, I wouldn't go and work as mechanic. I've never been refused a pack of condoms by a cashier in Boots because they were Catholic and I've never been refused a cream cake in Greggs because the girl behind the counter may have thought I looked like I could do with losing a few pounds.
No one has the right to refuse to help or serve someone because their religion denotes what others should put in their shopping basket, trolley or mouth. A Marks & Spencer food hall is not a place to breed religious or racial intolerance. It's a place to wander around and manhandle some meringues, touch the tangerines and make the cartons of milk 'shake'.
I have shopped in M&S for the past twenty-five years. There are so many things in their food range that I simply love, but for me, and judging by the reaction on social media regarding whom their staff may or may not want to serve, the only thing their food range has left in many peoples mouth is a rather nasty taste.
And one we may not won't want to sample again.

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Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Nigella Lawson And Her Little White Lines.

She's a saucy minx that Nigella Lawson isn't she?
When she's not stirring up all kinds of sexual innuendos with a chocolate covered spoon, or about to split the seams and spill suggestively out of her skirt, she apparently spends her time being strangled by a Saatchi and sniffing little white lines from those real marble surfaces in her SW3 home.
She's Betty Boop bending over an AGA, Marilyn Monroe with culinary skills and Kate Moss with curves.
Drug scandals and spousal abuse are the stuff of which Jeremy Kyle's dreams are made, but remove the location from the council estate and replace the great unwashed with a domestic goddess (who just happens to look like she's tumbled from Botticelli's sketch pad) and you have a recipe that will fulfil every newspaper editors need for a story and every newspaper readers yearning for some salacious gossip.
Without her milky white skin, raven hair, plump red lips and ability to turn every item in a fully stocked fridge into a school boys sexual fantasy, things wouldn't look good between Nigella and the great British public. She is, after all, the daughter of Nigel Lawson, one of Thatcher's henchmen. She's rich, upper class, good looking and spends her life rushing around in taxi cabs buying organic produce, sipping red wine and kneading dough.
Hardly the stuff those on income support and living in social housing can relate to is it? And yet she is endearingly popular. The gays love her because she brings just the right amount of glamour, decadence and big hair to the kitchen. Women love her because she translates being a 'Chelsea Housewife' to the tower block (and also because of the incident with the Saatchi strangler) and straight men love her for her two barely contained breasts. No one stirs a spoon, sucks on a finger or sears a scallop quite like Nigella.
She has all bases covered, even if she was freebasing cocaine - we'd still forgive her because she's like Snow White with an SW3 postcode. She's a Chelsea Princess and a gorgeous glamorous bundle of culinary delights. Jamie Oliver has his enlarged tongue, Gordon Ramsay has his filthy mouth but Nigella somehow manages to use her tongue and those lips like two red velvet pillow cases to illicit not only filthy sexual fantasies, but a strong desire to get into the kitchen and start whisking cream until it explodes into a frothy mess. From Pimlico to Pontypridd, Sloane Square to Sidcup, she's got every man reaching for his nuts and ready to give them a roasting.
According to Charles Saatchi, Nigella spent so much time abusing cocaine, prescription drugs and smoking marijuana that she allowed her assistants Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo to spend £685,000 on the company credit card. Now I've watched Nigella Lawson knocking up Christmas cakes and stuffing chickens in her kitchen, and although she does have a tendency to be a bit sloppy with the ingredients and end up with flour in her hair, she has never given the impression that she'd not be aware of her assistants wandering around the house in brand new mink coats or arriving for work dripping in diamonds and riding a white pony with wings.
I think the case against Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo has unleashed a vengeful beast in Charles Saatchi and given him an opportunity to take Nigella's rolling pin and verbally bash her with it. It seems like hell hath no fury than an art dealer / strangler scorned. He wants to smash Nigella's Souffle, mash her meringues and piss all over her exquisitely laid dining table. It seems the milk has turned sour, the cheese has gone off and somebody left the Saatchi cake out in the rain, and without Nigella, he'll never have that recipe again.
I'll be watching and listening intently to the animosity the case against those Grillo girls has generated between Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson, but in the meantime I'll be making the recipe for the 'Holiday Hotcake' that she tweeted yesterday (along with the #TeamNigella').
And as for Mr Saatchi? 
If you can't stand the heat Charles, please stay out of Nigella's kitchen and to those two thieving Grillo girls?
Please stay out of Nigella's grill.

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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

When Did Gay Become A Dirty Word?

Apparently I should be furious with Alec Baldwin, Eminem and (if I even knew who he was) James Arthur.
Because they've been flinging the words 'cocksucker' 'faggot' and 'queer' at anyone who's upset them. These three icons of virile masculinity have decided its handbags at dawn and god help any paparazzi, second-rate rapper or critic who dares rain on their parade.
As a great believer in bitchy put downs and a connoisseur of all things cock related, I can't say I'm really bothered or impressed by their choice of insults. Supposedly 'straight' men calling each other names and things related to what I've been doing (and grown rather good at) these past twenty years barely make a ripple on my consciousness. If I really wanted to hear something deeply offensive I'd listen to the voicemail Alec Baldwin left for his 11-year-old daughter during his custody battle with Kim Basinger.
And if I really wanted to see something offensive I'd watch Eminem posturing like a 'gangsta from the hood' with his perfectly made up and botoxed face, bleached blonde hair and trousers showing more arse than a Go Go boy dancing at a Gay Pride Parade.
When it comes to firing insults at each other most gay men don't go in for name calling, it's more likely we are going to very quickly decipher our opponents insecurities and go straight for the jugular. It seems every straight mans Achilles heel is to infer that they may be gay, or for want of some better words, a 'stick slurper' and a 'shirt lifter'.
Gay men don't really have an Achilles heel because everybody knows we spend our downtime at home wandering around in them.
Through the years there have been so many derogatory words used to describe or identify someone who may be gay that I yearn for an original or thought provoking term to describe all of the queens and fairies worldwide. Some of these 'insults' have been adopted and claimed by the gay community and are now used as terms of affirmation and activism. 'Queer' doesn't really cut it as a putdown since the gay community started singing 'We're here, we're queer and we're not going shopping' at Gay Pride marches in the early 1990's.
Not only does the word 'queer' seem outdated and cliched as an insult, the whole idea that gays ever stopped going shopping seems to be too.
Sissy, Nancy and Mary Ellen no longer work because they are the go to names for every gay cat owner worldwide. 'Ass Vandal' isn't an insult, more a term of endearment or what most of us are looking for on a Saturday night and 'Butt Pirate' is my favourite choice of outfit every Halloween. It seems the world is running out of new and original names to call the pansies and the poop pushers.
I think the bigger issue is not how offended the gay community will be when a so called 'celebrity' lets rip with a homophobic rant but more the reasons why grown men deem being a receiver of swollen goods anything less than a life style of utter fabulousness? I've spent the past 20 years making sure I'm a 'big girls blouse' and the biggest 'fruit' in the fruit bowl. I've been a 'Vagina Decliner', a 'Booty Snatcher' and a 'Pillow Biter'. The 'Homos' the 'Poofters' the 'Fudge Packers' and the 'Rump Roasters' are all my best friends or people I've slept with.
There isn't one name in the world you could call me that I'd find offensive, ridiculous or downright stupid.
Other than Alec Baldwin, Eminem or that 'too ugly to be gay 'one from X Factor.
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Friday, 15 November 2013

How (Not) To Behave On A First Date.

I’ve come to the realisation that the reason I am single and unemployable is because I treat every date like a second job interview and every job interview like a first date.
If you attend a job interview wearing something slutty (applicable to both males and females, gay and straight) and go on a first date looking extremely well-groomed and professional, you’re certain to give the wrong impression both times.
No one wants to employ someone who looks like they’ve just tumbled out of a brothel, and no one on a first date wants to go home with someone who looks like they are going to audit the contents of their kitchen and then give them a crash course in accountancy. (Unless of course, you met on a dating website for auditors and accountants).
The way you behave on a first date, be it at a bar, a restaurant or a nightclub, denotes exactly how you’re going to behave once you’re naked and horizontal.
A fussy eater in a restaurant is never going to come up with the goods sexually.
If you can’t get your mouth around some meatballs and spaghetti without feeling self-conscious, then the chances are you’re not going to feel comfortable taking off your underwear and swinging from a chandelier, and if a person isn’t capable of showing some rhythm on a dance floor, then they are certainly not going to know the right moves in bed.

A first date is not the time to be on my best behaviour.

In fact, it’s the perfect time for me to get roaring drunk, say totally inappropriate things and then break down crying.
After all, if someone isn’t interested in me at my worst, why the hell should I let them see me at my best?
I’m thinking a first date is the perfect setting to try this method of reverse psychology. I’ve been on candlelit dates and sat listening intently, smiling in all the right places and nodding like a dog in the back of a station wagon, to someone in whom I have no interest at all.
So next time I’m on a date with someone I really like, I’m going to set fire to the tablecloth, douse the flames in some gin and then start dancing provocatively around the restaurant.
It may not give the right impression, but it will certainly make sure it’s a memorable one. In the dating world, crazy, sexy and dangerous is a much better option than safe, boring and dull.
“You only have one chance to make
a first impression on a first date.”

Most people are looking for excitement in their lives.

So even if they are begging you to sit down, just ignore them. They are secretly falling in love with you.
If you’re feeling anxious about your first date, it is perfectly acceptable to do whatever it takes to make you relax.
If you’re meeting in a bar, then arrive a little early and knock back a few shots of tequila. It is far better to be relaxed and half-dressed than nervous and buttoned up.
Why would anyone want to go on a date with a “stuffed shirt” when they could be hanging out with someone in a pair of loose pants?
The cutoff point for drinking on a first date is if you should start feeling seriously unwell or (god forbid) are vomiting profusely.
It can have serious repercussions not only on your outfit but also on the sexuality of your date.
The first girl I ever went out with got drunk and vomited all over my jeans. It was at that exact moment I realised I was gay and my only use to a woman would be to hold her hair out of her face while she was sick.
I have had to do this for almost every female friend I have ever had since becoming an adult. I make a much better gay friend than boyfriend.

Back to the etiquette of a first date.

The rules are there no rules. Whatever feels inappropriate you should do with gusto. Whatever seems polite and right is totally and utterly wrong.
Think about your future together because that’s when it’s the time for you to become boring and staid. Your first date is the perfect opportunity to show a complete stranger exactly what you’re capable of, so behave like a wild bull that needs taming rather than an old cow that’s gone lame.
You only have one chance to make a first impression on a first date, so make sure it’s one that counts.
So what if it ends up being for one night only? At least you will have made sure it’s a night they will never forget.

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Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The Perils of Online Dating.

Recently I was asked to take part in a documentary about 'Online Dating'. Not that I am an expert in the field of 'online dating', but the shows researcher had read some of my previous blogs and had decided that I was experienced enough within the realm of dysfunctional relationships to be a prime candidate to be sat wild eyed and confused in front of a television camera, and that once there, I was a sure bet to then let my mouth runaway with me.

When I had the initial telephone interview with the production company I must admit I was little dubious because I thought 'you want to make a documentary about online dating and you don't even know how to Skype?' But then when I really thought about it, nobody's online presence is a true depiction of their physical self anyway, so I guess the production company didn't give a damn what I looked like, as long as I gave good (talking) head.

The researcher on the other end of the telephone line said 'So Daniel, tell me all you know about online dating?' Which sent me into this weird head space of believing that I was actually an expert on all things that go on between a strangers finger and keyboard. 'But I thought you were going to ask me a series of questions and I just had to give you funny answers?' 'No, we really need you to talk about your experience of online dating and how it has affected your relationships, both physically and emotionally'.
I have no great recollection of what I said within the next hour long conversation, except to say that I made about 50% up, 40% was about friends and the secrets they have told me never to share with any other living soul, and the other 10% was discussing those 'Uniform Only' websites in which people pretend they are firemen, nurses and policeman but who actually work part time in a fancy dress shop or have access to the onesie department in Primark.

My actual experience of online dating is limited but I'd imagine it's very useful if you've been barred from every pub or nightclub in the land. I also think it's very handy if you're a prostitute, a pensioner or a pervert, and if you happen to be all three then bingo, you've hit the jackpot without ever having to remove your underwear; but as far as I'm concerned, my experience of online dating has only ever moved from the living room to the bedroom if I've picked up my laptop and taken it to bed with me. 

Online dating is like a takeaway menu for the chronically obese ( and I don't mean to offend with that statement because there is most probably an online dating site for the 'chronically obese'). What I mean is that the choice and possibilities are endless. You could have Asian on a Monday, 'Suited & Booted' on a Tuesday, Naughty Nurses on a Wednesday and 'Big and Buxom' by Thursday. The Internet offers too much choice and therefore takes away the comfort of the reliable. At least if you go down to your local pub you know by the time you've had 10 pints of Guinness and a pack of 'Nobbys Nuts' you'll be able to go home and get naked with the same person you do every weekend when you're wide eyed and legless. Online dating takes away that very special moment of having someone spill their kebab down your bra on the drunken bus ride home. It also takes away that extra special walk of shame on a Sunday morning when your eyeliners smudged and you've got holes in your tights.

I have looked at online sites before but that was mostly if I was doing background checks on people I wanted to date or was preparing to blackmail. The thing is, no one tells the truth online. If they say they are 40, you can bet they are 53. If they are say they are a 'company director' it's a sure sign they are unemployed and if they say they are a 6ft 3" model called Brenda? I'll bet my life they are a 5ft 11" builder called Brian. You should never believe anything you read in an online profile. Inches are added where there are only centimetres, hair is added where there is only toupee tape and £ signs are added where there are only pennies. 
Where precautions need to be taken in 'real life' dating, caution needs to be exercised when you're trying to get your rocks off online. 

Every single one of us is guilty of exercising extreme vanity when choosing our profile picture on Facebook so imagine the amount of posing, plucking and airbrushing that is used if you're trying to find your next person to mate with, marry, murder or mutilate online? The Internet is a dangerous place, and not only for kids who lack parental control and who should really be sat upstairs doing their homework.

I have no advice when it comes to dating online. I don't even do my grocery shopping online because I like to personally squeeze my plums and manhandle my grapefruits before I put anything in my basket and take it to the checkout. I'm all about checking 'sell by' and 'use before' dates and with online dating and online grocery shopping, you can never be too sure that what looks ripe and appetising online, isn't actually over ripe and vomit inducing once laid out bare in front of you on your kitchen table. 

I think it's safe to say that there is a huge divide between gay and straight 'online dating sites' too. If you give a gay man a phone or a laptop he's going to try and have / find sex on it or with it. If you give a straight woman Internet access she's going to try and buy shoes with it and if you give a straight man anything he can put in his hand and download images on then he's going to try and watch porn on it.

The only real advice I can give is this, what looks gorgeous and Grecian online could turn out to be grotesque and Godzilla like in the flesh. What seems exotic and expensive online is probably cheap and nasty when it turns up at your door at 3.30am, and what promises to take you 'on the ride of your life' in it's online profile, is probably on his way over to you on a number 53 bus.

Remember, unless it's standing stark naked in front of you, it's probably coming up behind you, and if you found it on the Internet, you never know what you may be getting or where the hell it's going.Online shopping is fine but if you insist on online dating, always remember to keep your receipts and remember the return policy, If it doesn't look like a thing like it's profile picture, you mustn't let it in.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Is Simon Cowell Responsible For Britain's Rude Awakening?

"The great secret, Eliza, is not having bad manners or good manners or any other particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls".
So wrote George Bernard Shaw in 'Pygmalion', the story of Professor Henry Higgins and a cockney flower girl called Eliza Dolittle, but is it the truth?
Are there such things as good manners, bad manners or no 'blooming manners at all'? (in the style of Eliza Dolittle, the Audrey Hepburn version).
I believe that manners do matter, and even more so in an age when politeness seems past it and decorum has died a woeful death. In 2013 you're more likely to hear a 'f*ck you' rather than a 'thank you' and you've got more of a chance of a door being slammed in your face rather than one being held open for you. We've become a fast food, want it now and pay for it later culture. 
Is the rise of Internet shopping the reason nobody remembers to say thank you to the real life check out girl and is the pitiful rise in the minimum wage the reason she's unlikely to say it back to you?
I don't know when the 'stiff upper lip' of the British became the 'stiff middle finger' but I do think being rude is now second nature to a nation who where once looked upon as being paragons of politeness. Even the Americans, those crass and uncouth (ex) partners in war of ours know it's only right to call any man over the age of 25 'Sir' and any woman who looks like she may be past baby making age 'Mam', and this is the country that brought us 'pimps, bitches and hoes'. Try saying 'have a nice day' to someone on a rush hour tube in London and they are likely to punch you, try saying 'you want fries with that' and they are likely to kiss you. We've become more American than the Americans, we've even learned to riot like them.
The English have always been known to love standing in line and yet we've thrown that tradition under the bus too (unless, of course, we're waiting for a bus). Why should we queue when we can cut in, push in front or even push someone over? Once again, is it the ease of online shopping / banking / dating that's caused us to be so arrogant and impatient or is nothing worth waiting for anymore?
The only time I see English people standing in line is if they are waiting to audition for the X Factor. Simon Cowell has a lot to answer for regarding the diminishing decorum of the British public. He's made the uneducated and the unwashed like Zombies and the X Factor auditions like the shopping mall in 'Dawn of the Dead'.
I have no idea if he of the dazzling teeth and the dangling loins knows what he has done but I'm starting to think he sees himself as the Henry Higgins of the X Factor generation. He definitely has a habit of taking poor, bedraggled, malnourished and phonetically challenged young women (Cheryl Cole, Cher Lloyd, Tulisa) and trying to pass them off as cultured young women with an assumed air of gentility, and these sorry (Tattooed arse) souls are now the Eliza Dolittle's we are faced with.
I can just imagine him saying:
'The great secret Cheryl/Cher/Tulisa is not having bad manners or good manners or any other particular sort of manners, but in having no blooming manners at all'.
Pygmalion was written to lampoon the British class system back in 1912 and now over one hundred years later Mr Cowell is holding the British public up to ridicule once again.
I think it's about time we held him responsible for being the pariah of politeness, the master of the disorderly queue and the reason we're all now more likely to be saying 'F*ck You' rather than 'Thank You'.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

In Order to Complete This Personality Test, Please Leave Your Personality at The Door.

"Favourite fruit?"
Pink Grapefruit.
Because it's bitter and gay.
I think I may have just failed the 'What Fruit Denotes Your Personality Test?' and I haven't even got to the part where I start unpeeling a banana.
As a teenager I spent an inordinate amount of time flicking through any magazine I could find doing 'Personality Tests'. My being a child of the 1980's meant that I could easily spend a morning applying my brain to the question 'Are You More Like Madonna, Boy George or Michael Jackson?' in a (well thumbed) copy of 'Smash Hits', or even a whole afternoon contemplating 'What Will Bring You To Orgasm' in my mothers (well fingered) copy of 'Cosmopolitan' and sometimes, if I was feeling especially adventurous, a matter of minutes wondering 'How Big Is Your Penis?' in my fathers (well hung?) copy of 'Playboy'.
The amount of time I spent on theses quizzes would have been better applied to schoolwork but I was hungry to experience the outside world, and without the lacy gloves and hairy armpits (at that time) to be like Madonna, the know how to reach orgasm or the experience to realise it's all about the girth, I satisfied my insecurities and admonished my teenage doubts with the help of a Bic biro and a library of Freudian quotes.
My personality was 1/4 Vogue, 1/2 True Crime Stories and 1/4 Fisherman's Weekly.
I was a heady mix and my whole life became consumed by spouting self help jargon, finding out what colour underwear would lead me to success and asking myself the imposing question, could I really 'Pull Off A Perm'.
Now as a fully grown and self aware adult, whenever I see a copy of 'Psychology' magazine asking me to 'Find my Tribe' or 'How To Tell If They Are A Close Friend or Acquaintance', I wonder what my teenage reaction to those quizzes would have been? I was never susceptible to peer pressure, but sit me down with a copy of 'Womans Weekly' and I would have self diagnosed a lipstick allergy, found my true career to be a cinema usherette and reasoned the fact that I chewed gum and went to the bathroom twice a day would result in my having three children with a man named Bryan. 
My formative years were shaped and molded by Helen Gurley Brown and a dire need to find out if I could be 'Rich, Sexy or Famous?'
Personality tests are used to filter the serial killer from the shopgirl, the transparent from the transvestite and the popstar from the pervert. I still get that incredible feeling of excitement if I go for a job interview and they ask me to fill out a multiple choice questionnaire to deem if I'm worthy of working for them. Of course, there are only ever two answers to those tests of personality, you either get the job or you don't. There is never a 'you are borderline efficient with a photocopier and have an unnerving talent for taking lunch breaks' or even 'you're a hungover on a Wednesday, phone in sick on a Monday kind of guy' so it's at these times I'd advise going straight home and googling 'Work Personality Test'.
There's bound to be something that tells you if you're 'Too Much of a Sociopath For Selfridges' or 'Too Bi-polar for Barclays'.
At the present time, I'm trying to stay away from anything that tells me my personality by way of analysing how I peel a carrot, how I tie my shoelaces or how I toss my pancakes and I'm dealing with any life choice in a much more adult way.
With lies, self-delusion and a tear stained copy of 'Cosmopolitan' or 'True Crime Weekly'.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Drinks? Lunch? Dinner? The Dilemma of The First Date

Recently I read that there is a simple way to tell if someone is really 'into' us, and not surprisingly, in a material world full of material girls (and boys), it supposedly depends on how much money and how much commitment we are willing to put into that initial meeting or on that all important first date.

What I read was this:
'Coffee is cheap, drinks are an audition, lunch is an interview but dinner means business'.

Now I don't know if this applies if you've met online, in a supermarket, in a bar or even in a sex club, although I would think that if you had met someone in a sex club, then it's a little too late to be exchanging niceties and polite conversation over a Frappuccino and a chocolate brownie.
I'd find it hard to be coy and flirtatious with someone who's already familiar with my ins and outs (or outs and ins, depending on whatever makes you happy).

My own take on the statement is this:
'Coffee is boring and makes your breath smell, drinks are fun and liable to lead to nakedness, lunch is only ever going to work if it's at the weekend because work takes precedence over leisurely lunch breaks, and dinner means you will be expected to get naked (and there are probably drinks involved too)'.

I hate being asked to meet for 'coffee'. Firstly, I'm allergic to it and it makes me behave like I've ingested a speedball. Hardly perfect first date material am I ? I'll just sit there covered in hives and frantically fidgeting, whilst sweating and chewing my tongue like a junkie waiting for their next fix. I also find being asked for 'coffee' rather boring and quite frankly, cheap.

If someone asks you for coffee then it's certainly going to be a daytime date, and what do daytime dates mean? The person asking is most probably not single and can only really spare you a half hour sat at the back of a generic coffee emporium, where the barista spells your name wrong and the CEO is busy not paying company taxes.

Going for drinks on a first date can be fun but it can also be dangerous. It's the perfect opportunity to find out if the person you're going to be spending the next few hours, night or the rest of your life with is a raging alcoholic, notoriously tightfisted, a lightweight or a (beer) barrel full of fun and laughter. I remember being asked out for drinks by someone and when I was asked what I was drinking, I answered straight away 'a shot of tequila'. The relationship lasted all of three weeks but boy, was it fun. I should add that although it was our 'first date' we'd known each other for years, we'd just never got around to really 'knowing' each other.

I would never advise getting roaring drunk on a first date, no one wants sick on their shoes or have to witness your tears or violent behaviour before they've even found out your star sign. If your first date is a 'drinks' date it's best to remember these rules:

When you left the house you were wearing underwear, make sure you're still wearing it when you come home.
If you have a special party trick / dance / ability to touch your elbow with your tongue when drunk then you really shouldn't drink on a first date, and finally, never ever order a flaming Sambuca if you've bought your false eyelashes from Poundland or if you've got too much product in your hair.

Someone's asked you out for lunch? I wouldn't completely write off the chances of romance at lunch, it just depends on what day of the week it is. If your suitor is a millionaire or unemployed then you'll probably be in with a good chance of having an extra long week day lunch date, but if if they are in a regular 9-5, then you're only going to have time to get soup and half a sandwich. No one takes a lunch hour anymore so it's not the right time for wine, romance and roses. Lunch for most of us is spent at our desks, not playing footsie in a five star restaurant and knocking back champagne cocktails.

A lunch date works if it's the weekend because not only can you order the full five courses, you can also spend the whole morning making sure you look presentable, rather than fixing your hair / make-up / cleavage in the reflection of your computer screen.

Weekday romantic lunches never work, save it for the weekend and remember the weekday lunch date rule:
If he arrives by helicopter - he's a millionaire.
If he arrives by bus - he's unemployed.

So now we've arrived at the daddy of all romantic first dates - the dinner date. This apparently is the one that means business, the one that changes the love game, the one that shifts the goal posts and puts its balls on the table (although if you do turn up at dinner and your date is sitting there with his balls on the table, I'd quickly look for the nearest exit and jump in a taxi home). Dinner as a first date is a serious business, and there is nothing more telling about a persons behaviour than watching them eat.

I actually find it attractive when a man eats with it's hands (unless it's soup or a Thai Green Curry), just make sure he washes them before he unhooks your bra. Never date anyone who tucks their napkin into their shirt like it's a bib, it will make you want to rub their back and burp them and never, ever date anyone who is rude to a waiter or waitress. Not only does it show a complete lack of class, it also means that whatever food is being put down in front of you has had something unspeakable done to it in the journey from the kitchen to your table. Anyone who orders spaghetti and then cuts it up with a knife and fork is going to useless in bed and anyone who can suck a whole strand of spaghetti straight from the bowl to their mouth is going to be amazing in bed.
Never date anyone who doesn't chew, they probably don't have their own teeth and never date anyone who chews open mouthed. I'd also be suspicious of anyone who eats / drinks and talks at the same time. It's probably their only moment of over achievement.

I hope, in some way I've given clarification to the whole coffee / drinks / lunch / dinner dilemma?
Just remember these first date guidelines:
Coffee = Just say no
Drinks = a drunken audition (just don't turn up in a pair of tap shoes, a leotard and making 'jazz hands')
Lunch = only if he's a millionaire
Dinner = If he likes it then he's going to put a ring on it otherwise, at least you're going to get a free meal
And finally, if you really can't be bothered with any of it, either go on a liquid diet or order a takeaway.

Monday, 29 April 2013

They Screw You Up Your Mum & Dad, But Only If You Let Them.

I had breakfast with my dad this morning.
So what? You may think. It's hardly the most auspicious start to a piece of writing, but if I tell you I didn't speak to him for 15 years, then I did and we went some way to fixing the father / son relationship, but then we crashed and burned again, maybe you'll read on?
I was never close to my father, from the age of 13 up until I was 21 I had no respect for him and from 21 onwards I had no need or want of a relationship with him. It had a lot to do with the break up of my parents marriage and myself taking on the mantle of being my mothers protector, but as I've grown older, and I've lived and had relationships of my own, I've realized that there was no villain of the piece, that they were both to blame and they both (and there is only one word that is suitable) "f***ed up" - BIG TIME.
I've always thought, that unless you were abused by your parents, there cannot be a reason to blame them for your behavior as an adult. I've been down the therapy road and I'm used to all the terms and words used about "learned behavior", "repressed memories" or repeating the patterns of your parents. You don't need therapy to know when something's wrong or bad for you and you don't need to do that much soul searching or self analysis to realize what didn't work for them, is never going to work for you. Children who grow up in a house full of screams / shouts / tears and tantrums are either going to become withdrawn and frightened of the world or they grow strong and soon realize that's not going to be the way they live their life. I have two brothers and we all turned out extremely different. I'm not saying we came out of that house unscathed, but the three of us seem to fight against repeating the example we grew up with.
I love my dad but it's taken me a long time to get to the point where I can sit down with him and we can talk. He wasn't an ogre and I didn't grow up in a house full of fear, in fact the opposite is true,but I did grow up in a house that was always full of tension. I never once saw my parents show any affection to each other. I think the nicest thing I ever saw my mother do was set my dads newspaper on fire whilst he was still reading it and the nicest thing he did for her was not to prefix a four letter insult with an eight letter insult. When you grow up in a war zone you learn quickly, and my in depth knowledge of profanity and dirty words went down a storm in the school playground. What I hated at home became endlessly entertaining at school. My mother and father should probably never have got married, they didn't ever seem to grasp that the endless arguing, smashing things and screaming wasn't doing either of them any good, in the end it made both of them ill and it left the whole family fractured and emotionally cold.
I had breakfast with my dad this morning.
We talked about the weather, his breakfast, my breakfast and then we finally TALKED. We talked about everything. My mum, their relationship, my relationship with both of them, both of my brothers, how my dad feels, how I feel and the exact reason why we haven't spoken for so long; and I told him that it's my fault, it was my choice and it's something I have to deal with. My reasons for not talking to him are because I wanted a quiet life and I had thought that after almost twenty years of not having a relationship with him, that I didn't need one anyway. I didn't think I missed him and I thought I wouldn't have anything to say to him but it's not the truth. I do need my dad and I have lots to say to him.
I will talk to anyone. I say hello to strangers, and I strike up conversations with people in supermarkets, on the street, on the Internet and on tube trains but I didn't even bother to take the time to talk to my own dad. I was wrong. Relationships need to be nurtured to grow, or revived and restored to keep growing, and the older I get the more aware I am that those I love are not going to be around forever. It's never clever to throw anyone out, to give up or just walk away from your family, even if that isn't the way you grew up or how you were taught to behave. We are all products of our parents and our life experience be it good or bad, and in hindsight, it really wasn't that bad. I wasn't abused physically or sexually, I just grew up witnessing two people abusing each other verbally and emotionally.
The funniest thing about today? My dad picked me up in an old transit van, full of newspaper, rubbish and dust from his working week and he said to me "You don't mind me picking you up in the van do you son? You must remember us always driving around like this when you were a boy?"
And the nicest thing is, I didn't mind, and I do remember.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

From Fashion To Buddhism, Could You Give Up Everything That Defines You For The Sake Of Enlightenment?

This week a friend of mine will walk away from his rapidly growing clothing line. He will switch off his iPhone, turn off his Mac, and drop out from Facebook, Twitter and every other social media.
He will give up the ambition that has made his fashion business start to be recognised worldwide, and he will give up the social life that sees him flit in and out of hundreds of peoples lives every day.

This week my friend will be ordained as a Buddhist monk.

As an out and proud atheist I am in awe of his willingness to step away from the very thing that drives and defines him, and also at a time and in an industry where a fickle mind is the very thing that puts money in his pockets. Fashion is fickle and immediate, of course classic brands will remain and would have us believe that style will endure, but are any of us ever really brave enough to give up our passion, our growing business, a love affair or even our favourite meal in the hope of enlightenment?
Or at the very least, for a very large portion of good karma?

I look at the things I have amassed over the years and surrounded myself with, and not just the material things (of which there are many) but also the relationships and friendships I've nurtured or walked away from. I look to the rituals and 'quirks' I have that allow me to leave the house every morning and prepare me emotionally and physically every day, and I wonder if I could ever truly give them up? I try very hard to live a simple, uncomplicated life but when I think about the minor details that make my day run smoothly, things like a perfectly timed tube arrival and then actually getting a seat, or a deadline met with time to spare, or even down to just getting my favourite shower stall at the gym and I wonder, could I ever give up the inconsequential for a months worth of meditating and quiet reflection? Are any of us willing to let go of the things we can control to gain a little more insight into the things that make us 'tick'?

The reasons for my friend taking the decision to be ordained are personal to him but after talking to him and learning what his time in the temple will consist of, it is the total opposite of how most of us live our lives now. I am not talking about spirituality or moral code but more about the way our lives are filled with details and distractions and how our minds are filled with things we will never really need or learn to use. How many of us become annoyed because the barista didn't make our coffee just how we like it or because we didn't get included in a group email? How many of us really concentrate on what we should be doing or whom we should be paying attention to? It's so difficult to focus on anything constructive and when we do focus on ourselves, it's normally on how good our hair looks, rather than 'how can I make myself a better and calmer person today?'

"I will have to eat what I am given, I cannot ask for anything at all, I will have to sleep on the floor, speak quietly, sleep little, eat little. Practice patience, self-control and self-awareness every single waking moment of the day. During the time I'm a monk the key is to be mindful of every thought and every action. Not to yearn for anything, not to acknowledge when I'm hungry, to suppress sexual desire and not even think of it. When I'm walking only focus on walking, when I'm meditating I'm only meditating."

Sounds like hell doesn't it? I seriously do not know if I could do it or if I'd even want to. I've even given it some thought that maybe it's just his perfect excuse to step away from the frivolity and inherent falseness of fashion, but fashion is my friends business and he's very good at it. The decision to become ordained is not some spur of the moment whim or a "I need a sabbatical' ego trip. This isn't an 'Eat, Love, Pray' research trip either, it's a personal decision that is also part of his culture, his upbringing and at the core of how he makes his life choices. From listening to Mark and understanding his reasons for wanting to walk away from a life that some may see as glamorous and others deem as meaningless, it makes sense for him to step back and just let life 'be', but he is very driven and his company is his (financial) lifeline. 
The boss isn't just going on a holiday, he's going away to become a monk. He may not ever come back? Or maybe he'll come back forever changed?

"When I was working on my most recent range an American friend said he finds it bizarre how I can be a Buddhist and function in the fashion industry. I said to him that you can work in any industry, no matter how bitchy or catty and still be Buddhist. If you don't associate, rise to or put yourself in those negative situations, 9 times out of 10 you don't find yourself in them. Some of my friends are Atheist and say that they don't believe in Buddhism. My response to them is, even if it is all hocus pocus, and karma, reincarnation, and merit do not exist? At least I am learning a psychology of how to simplify my life and how to do every action out of kindness... Surely something good will come from that?"

I'm not a Buddhist but for me these are the simple principles I try and live my own life by, but I still do not know if I could sacrifice all of my little comforts, the things that make my day better, or the relationships that help me to be strong to truly find some peace or the ever elusive 'enlightenment' that most of us are searching for, but what is most inspiring about Marks journey is he isn't sure of what he will find either. 
I've asked him what he will miss most and he told me it would be his partner. His business will be hard to let go of and hard not to focus on but he has faith it will still be there without him, and even though his business is all about appearance, he's certainly not going to miss his hair or his eyebrows or any of his expensive denim. He's not going to be aware of getting or missing 'that Friday feeling' either because he'll be sat crossed leg in 'saffron robes' and enjoying peaceful solitude.

I have no idea if saffron is in this season but I guess ultimately, in Mark Thomas Taylor's case, once you're 'in fashion' you're never really out of it, even when you're a monk.

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Thursday, 7 March 2013

Dreams Of A Life. The Story of Joyce Vincent.

I rarely watch television. The box in the corner of the room or the flat screen on the wall hold little temptation for me. If anything, they scare me. I know I'm susceptible to letting my mind wander. I can be easily distracted and I can sometimes let myself get carried away with inane thoughts and shallow thinking, so when I do allow myself a few hours of 'light entertainment', it's mostly something dark, dangerous or disturbing, and at the very best, life changing.

A couple of weeks ago I saw that 'Dreams of a Life' was being shown on Channel 4. Directed by Carol Morley it tells the story of Joyce Vincent, a woman who died alone and lay undiscovered for three years. When her skeletal remains were found, she was was surrounded by the Christmas gifts she had wrapped, and in the corner, still switched on and 'alive', was her television set.

I had some memory of Joyce Vincent from what was reported in the press at the time of her discovery in 2006 but I wasn't aware of the life that she had lived, or the choices she had made that had taken her to being the 'woman who died in front of her TV'. Thousands of people die alone watching TV, so the story of Joyce had lost it's relevance to me. I was aware of her, but like some kind of urban myth, I hadn't really given her much serious thought. In fact, I couldn't ever even remember there being a photograph attached to any report of her death. She wasn't 'front page news', so in essence, her story died with her.

It's taken me a while to bring myself to sit down and write this. I was afraid of where having to really think about Joyce Vincent was going to take me because Joyce's story did not die with her. Carol Morley made a film and a testament to a woman who was beautiful, intelligent and gifted but somehow damaged and disconnected, and the story of Joyce Vincent made me look at myself and how I connect with my friends, my family and acquaintances. It made me question my own choices, and it made me aware of just how easy it is for any of us to disconnect, to lose touch or to make decisions that can leave us vulnerable and alone.
Joyce Vincent was young, vibrant and beautiful, and young,vibrant and beautiful people are not supposed to lay dead for three years without anyone questioning where or how they are. Vibrant, beautiful people are the ones we all think are having a much better time than we are. They are the ones that can flit in and out of our lives on a whim and we never really worry about them because they are most probably off doing something glamorous and having the fun we want to be having. We bet they are falling in and out of love or building the amazing career that's going to buy them an upwardly mobile lifestyle and a dishwasher. The one thing that seems to indicate success in a material and reality show obsessed world is the size of your flat screen, so it's as relevant as it is heartbreaking that Joyce Vincent died alone and lay undiscovered in front of a flickering TV screen for three years.

I don't want to quote Carol Morley's film or do an in depth analysis of it but it changed me. Joyce Vincent was the girl that all the guys wanted to be with and all the girls wanted to be, and I think when you have that much impact on people but you're inherently lost yourself, you become extremely vulnerable. Not many people ask how you really are or how you are feeling because it's taken for granted that you're always going to be fine and that your life is going exactly to plan. We all have our 'demons' and we all have reasons for hiding our true character behind a series of fake smiles or feigned bravado, and I think what the story of Joyce Vincent truly represented for me was that for all the opportunities that come our way, for all the people that fall in love with us or the friends that want to be with us, we are all only a couple of bad decisions away from being alone.

When a persons confidence is built upon the way they look, how much charm they have or how many people like them it's very easy to make the decision to walk away from a relationship or a friendship. It's easy to keep friendships and relationships on a shallow level and never really give all of yourself when you are afraid to show who you really are. Sometimes it's even better to just be alone when you decide you don't want to be the object of attention or affection anymore, and this can even carry over to career choices.
How many of us have walked out of a job because we didn't like how we'd been talked to or treated? I've done it more than a few times because I have always felt, 'oh well, something else will come along and I don't deserve to be treated like that' but something better doesn't always come along and a series of disappointments will break even the strongest of wills. Sometimes the lifestyle we have defines us and when it's taken away, we can lose sight of our identity.

I may be wrong but I took that away from Joyce Vincent's story. Her sense of self was conflicted by what she felt she deserved, what she should have achieved and maybe where she had finally found herself. Youth brings us confidence, especially when our beauty, vitality and personality is affirmed by others but what happens when we get a little older and somehow we've wasted opportunities that will never come our way again? There isn't much sadder than a person still chasing dreams that should have come true ten years before.
For me, Joyce represented so much of myself. I try so hard to be happy, to be strong and to be independent but at what cost? Joyce Vincent's back ground is much different to my own, her mother died when she was only 11 and there is a suggestion of childhood abuse so her vulnerability and isolation is easy to comprehend. She made bad choices and turned away from people that truly loved her, and found herself in relationships that would never be any good for her. A damaged childhood will make you do that, but from watching the film it is obvious of the affect she had on people and the woman she had always tried to be.

The film features conversations with the people who loved and knew her and yet somehow became estranged from her, and it is obvious that she was a woman who tried so hard to love life and to achieve some happiness and a level of success. How a woman who was loved and yet lay dead for three years without ever being found is hard to comprehend, but what I ultimately took from the story of Joyce Vincent is that she is missed, and Carol Morley's insight into her life made me change some of the decisions on how I will carry on living my own life.

Joyce Carol Vincent was 38 years old when she died, alone and in front of her television. She lived in a bedsit above a busy shopping centre and lay undiscovered for three years. Carol Morley brought her back to life in 'Dreams of a Life' and I'd advise anyone to see it. It will change how you look at your own life, your opportunities and your relationships and it has also made the life of Joyce Vincent an incredibly important and valid one.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

St Valentine's Day And Not A Cupid In Sight?

St Valentines, it's that time of year when Christmas seems like a lifetime ago and summer seems like a lifetime away. February is always a HARD month to cope with. It's like the drunken lull when you're in a taxi on the way home after a really good night or like the mid afternoon hangover that suddenly comes and hits you over the head after a really amazing night.
In fact, it's like any thing that reminds you that life isn't all nightclubs full with tequila shots and short skirts or pubs stacked with bottles of beer and football shirts. Sometimes life gets in the way of us having fun and the only way we can break the monotony of dull and grey, day to day February, is by dressing it up in red ribbon, throwing chocolate covered hearts at it and imagining fat little half naked cherubs firing arrows of love at us. 

St Valentine has come to get us, and this time he's not taking no for an answer.

I've researched St Valentine, (and there are a few of the loved up Lotharios) and like anyone who supersedes others and sticks in our consciousness, the one we celebrate and get down on one knee for on February 14th has a rather sketchy past. Not much is known about him except for where he is buried and that he was born on April 16th, so quite why we celebrate him two months before his birth date and then say it with flowers, cheap perfume and condoms is anyone's guess?

St Valentine is supposed to signify love, romance, passion and post coital cuddling but in reality he represents the prose on a Hallmark greetings card, over priced and uninspired set menus and maybe a little extra foreplay (if you're lucky). How many of us truly believe in a little thing called love when we've been forced to sleep in the wet spot or turn a blind eye to someone’s drunken flirting? Valentine's day for many represents a day of masking a seething anger and trying desperately not to turn a romantic meal into the Valentines Day Massacre. 
A fistful of roses can be just as useful as a bouquet of barbed wire, it just depends on what vase you stick them in.

I can imagine that for some, Valentine's Day offers hope. I think the last time I was full of hope on Valentines day I was about fourteen years old and waiting for the postman to authenticate my belief that I was the third best looking boy in the school by delivering a sack full of cards through my door. As it turns out, I only received two and my ranking dropped down to the late teens. As you can tell, my school was low on academia but high on personal appearance. It was also an all-boys school and I received two cards, you don't have to be a genius to figure out why my admirers didn't reach double digits.

I don't know what Valentines means to me now. It's been two years since my last relationship and the only cards I will send will be to my ex and his dog. I bought the cards from a quaint little card shop in an upmarket enclave of South East London (there are such places, you don't have to go North for posh frocks and fine dining) and when the sweet woman behind the counter said 'are they for your wife or your girlfriend' and I replied 'no, they are for my ex boyfriend and his dog', lets just say she looked like Cupid had shot her between the eyes with a flaming devils horn. Romance is alive in South East London, it's just only available in card form for a very select few.

I'm not expecting any cards, champagne, roses or even frantic, passionate sex this year. I'll probably spend the evening alone and cook myself a meal for one and then open a case of wine for twenty. I have no great hopes or faith that cupid has an arrow with my name on it and I don't think I'll be cuddling up to anything more than my lap top and a giant Toblerone but I'm actually fine and I'm at peace with it. 
This year I shall think that like puppies are at Christmas, a Valentine is for life.

So I'll just wait for the right one to come along.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Gay Marriage And Why I'll Only Come For The Cake.

I'm not married, I'm not in a civil partnership and as far as I'm aware there is no one even on the verge of making a proposal, getting down on one knee or even sending a postcard with some offer of a mutually beneficial arrangement. My days of romance, wine, wistful gazes and lustful stares are gone. I think I may have left them in a cloakroom in a club somewhere or maybe I didn't even bother to check them in? 
I've lost wallets, gloves, sweaters and once even a shoe in a nightclub so if I did lose my potential to be a husband / lifelong partner or "significant other" along the way then it wouldn't surprise me. I just hope who ever found my credit card for a lifetime of marital bliss enjoys it. I've cancelled all my compatibility pin numbers anyway and now the only credit I give myself is for being alone. 
 I have always subscribed to the point of view that anything two can do, I can do better.
 In the modern gay world and now that it's (almost) legal to be gay and married, it takes a huge amount of courage to be gay and single. The homos want what the heteros have always had, and that's the divine right to get shacked up legally, in front of family, a choir, a stained glass window with a cacophony of colour and a man in a long white dress. Who knew that getting married could ever sound so gay? And who, in the deepest recesses of their filthy little minds, ever thought that two men could get down on their knees in front of god and be betrothed in holy matrimony?
 There was a time when "bachelors" of a certain age were automatically deemed to be gay but now with civil partnerships and our continuing fight for equality we can actually do the Beyonce song and dance and REALLY mean it. We can't claim the reason we are growing old without a ring on our finger is because we're out, proud and loving our gay life when everyone else knows it's because we've been left on the shelf, dumped at the alter and never even had a whiff of a bridal bouquet.  Being gay and single is now as rare as finding 100% beef in your beef burger. Your hunk of beef is now hung like a horse and the best thing is, you can have him for life, he doesn't even come with a sell by date.
 Not conforming and living a life that was different to what was deemed 'normal' is what all of our great gay ancestors fought for, the right to be free from the constraints of society, to live a bohemian life, to sleep with people indiscriminately and to have fun. This may now seem old fashioned, decadent and not in keeping with our triple dip, down in the doldrums and recession weary lives but even the spectre of HIV/AIDS didn't stop the disco ball from spinning. 
However, it now seems for many of the eternally engaged amongst us, that the only time the mirror ball will twinkle again is if there is a wedding cake and an expensive reception directly underneath it. When did equality suddenly become the byword for conforming and becoming boring? Yes, we all want what they've got but at what price? Are we marrying for love, for a laugh or just because we can?
 I come from a 'broken' family and I live in 'Broken Britain' so I've never really succumbed to the whole idea of meeting someone, falling in love, getting married and staying together no matter what. In fact, I was interviewed almost a decade ago for an article on gay marriage when it was something that seemed so ridiculous and far fetched that my comments were 'If I had to do it for legal reasons, taxes, death duty and for keeping what was rightfully mine then yes I would, but as for love, I don't need to be married' and I still feel the same way. 
I would hate to think that there are 18 or 19 year olds who are just starting to explore their sexuality and are already thinking of settling down and getting married. Life is for exploring and I equate being gay with freedom, the freedom to live and love whomever you choose and not have the pressure of having to settle down and conform.  
 I have heard so many times that the 'sanctity of marriage' is the moral fibre that holds Britain and the church together and it always makes me laugh. No wonder so many Tory politicians, sanctimonious church goers and Daily Mail readers have gotten so irate and hot under the collar about letting the gays through the church doors. Only god knows what we'd be getting up to behind the pulpit and around the back of the organist. Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage so the clich├ęd image of two lesbians roaring up to church in a motorbike and sidecar is hardly going to warm conservative middle England to the idea of the love that dare not speak it's name. 
And what if the trade off for letting gays get married in church is that straight people starting having sex in public toilets? 
 I believe in a thing called love and it is all encompassing. I don't need my relationships validated by the church, the government or anyone else for that matter but I do understand that for others to have their union recognized in the eyes of the law and their religion is majorly important. I just think for me, gay marriage has never really been about equality, it's always been more about the cake, and like the most upstanding and honest of politicians, I believe the sanctity of marriage is not always about love, truth and honesty, it's more about who will take the blame for my speeding points.
 I have been invited to a 'gay wedding' later this year and I have already thought of my plan to catch the bridal bouquet.
I shall lay back, close my eyes and think of England, because ultimately, isn't that what all married couples do?
Gay / Straight or whatever they may be?