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?

Saturday, 9 February 2013

How to Make Fake Friends,Have a Fabulous Career And Fool People.


Apparently, faking it is good for you . . . . . .

A recent study (please don't nail me down to facts and figures, I've already forgotten them) shows that everyone fakes some form of behavior every day, whether it be a smile, a cheery 'hello', a disinterested 'how are you?' or a screaming, earth shattering orgasm. We are all, in one way or another, guilty of putting ourselves aside to make someone else feel better or to make ourselves look better.

I have lost count of the times I've felt like smashing things in the aisle of a supermarket only to then smile sweetly at the cashier and answer her enquiry as to how I am with a 'I'm great thank you'. There may have even been a couple of times when I've bit my tongue and not told someone what I really thought about them, but these times are rare and rarer still are the times when I've laid back and thought of England, whilst someone I have no interest in at all busies themselves down south. Being nice to someone I have no time for takes up too much time, and 'putting out' for someone I'd never put up with, is far beyond my realm of understanding, but for many, the only way to get ahead is to lose sight of themselves and quickly morph into someone else. 
In my experience, anyone who spends far too much time pretending to be someone else, will normally end up drinking, eating or taking enough pharmaceuticals for two, but only ever have themselves to go home to.

I've never really been a 'faking it' kind of person. I understand the need to sometimes temper our behavior and adapt to certain situations to 'fit in' but it doesn't take a genius to find out when someone’s being disingenuous. Social chameleons and social butterflies are experts in the fake smile, the group hug and the 'I'm so interested' look but I've found that as I've got older, my tolerance for people I have no interest in has been pretty much worn down to the wire.
It's hard for me to smile when I'm stifling a yawn and even harder to look wide-eyed and excited when I'm feeling narrow eyed and furious. Botox was useful to mask a thousand looks of horror, indignation or boredom but when it also started to mask genuine emotions and looks of real happiness, I decided to step away from the needle and let people see my real face (both of them).

The workplace is the hub of fakery and amongst all the movers & shakers there will always be a glut of sycophants and fakers. Every office has a brown nose just like every Rudolph has a red nose. It comes with the territory, be it on a shop floor or the trading floor, that there will always be someone who so desperately wants to get ahead that their whole persona is molded to fit in with what the company vision is. The corporate world allows those with ambition but the personality of a setting jelly to get ahead, whereas the creative world allows those with no real direction to flip flop from one idea to another until they finally go completely off their head. 
The creative industry is no place for a border line schizophrenic or those with a multiple personality disorder, and if you work in the fashion industry, you'll find trends come and go quicker than your mood swings. 
We have all faked it within the working environment, even if it's just having to go to lunch with the colleague we secretly hate or completely embellishing your resume, but if you find that every day at work you're having to bow down, curtail and tow the company line, rather than being yourself and doing what you want to do, I'd advise you to stop faking it for the pay cheque and go and do something you really love. 
Someone famous once said 'a career is wonderful, but it doesn't keep you warm at night' and thinking about that statement, it is, of course, incredibly fake, because they were rich & famous and could afford an incredibly expensive duvet.
I can tell you to leave your job, but I'm not going to pay your heating bills.

Although I couldn't imagine doing it now, I learned many years ago that sometimes the easiest way to appease a partner in a relationship was to smile and quietly go ahead with their wishes however unreasonable or ridiculous their behavior may have been. It was easier at the time to let them think they may have won the argument and got their way, knowing I would then run them a scalding hot bath that they would happily step into. It was also incredibly easy to serve them their dinner knowing I'd just rubbed their steak around the kitchen floor and let the dog lick it. 'Faking it' in a relationship will only ever lead to a broken heart or at the very least, broken limbs. If you find yourself smiling sweetly and playing the perfect spouse when really the only thing on your mind is murder, I suggest you stop faking it and leave, because revenge is not always a dish best served cold, even if you've wiped it around the kitchen floor and let the dog chew on it.

I've probably been guilty of faking an illness, especially when I worked for someone else. The good thing about being self -employed is that I never have to lie to myself. If I'm hungover I don't have to phone in with the flu, and if I really cannot be bothered to get up out of bed one morning, I don't have to say I'm late because someone jumped in front of my train. It is amazing the lies you can make up when you're desperate for a day off work. Illness, famine, and a death in the family will all work and the more ridiculous the fakery the more you'll be inclined to get away with it. I had a friend who said they were borderline asthmatic only to blow their cover when they jumped from their chair and chased the sandwich lady the whole length of the office to see if she had a spare pack of cheese and onion. I once said I was at an aunt’s funeral when I was sat on a beach in Sardinia.
The lapping of the waves was excused as the gentle sobbing of my cousins.

No matter how many lies you tell and how many truths that lay untold you will always get found out in the end. The biggest star with the biggest smile can switch that off in an instant once the camera has turned away, the most down to earth 'cockney geezer' can soon become the most arrogant (Country) of Squires and the most god fearing of pop stars will eventually be found face down in her bathtub with a nose full of cocaine.
It is never good to live a life of fakery, however big the paycheck or however tempting it may be. It's best to always keep life simple. Say what you mean, say what you want and be yourself. Don't hide your light under a bushel and never compromise who you are for another. There is no excuse for lies, fake accents, false emoting or floods of crocodile tears and there is never a reason to embellish, fabricate or down right lie about your background.

Unless you've taken a call from a cold calling salesman, you're sat next to someone on a long haul flight or you're on a blind date with someone you never want to see again. 
In those instances you have free reign to be anyone you want to be, just make sure that they never know your real name and if you're on the date, make sure that they pick up the bill.