A farewell to 2009 and to this decade

Wow. It really doesn’t seem so very long ago that I was writing my 2008 retrospective. The older you get, the faster the years go by. Scary.

I don’t really have the motivation to do a detailed analysis of this year and I’m overly introspective at the best of times anyway.


  • Making a success of the job I started in Nov 08 after the unpleasant short stint I did at the place before
  • Moving on from he who was forever beyond the scope of this blog
  • Enjoying various trips out of London to Wales, Scotland, Italy, Germany, France
  • With the exception of a bout of swine flu and pulling a leg muscle – staying healthy
  • Meeting up with friends I’ve made via this blog including Sven, Lula and Vic and also getting to know some great new people through social networking


  • Gaining a stone (14 lbs) and generally eating and drinking too much
  • Failing to find Steven (re: desperately seeking Steven)
  • Not moving home sooner than I’d wanted. Very early next year I hope to
  • Feeling frustrated by the status quo and constantly yearning for change of one kind or another

Well, this is likely to be the last post of this year (and indeed of this decade) so HAPPY NEW YEAR! I’m off to a dinner party this evening and staying over. Hoping not to over do it… What is it they say?? The pathway to hell is paved with good intentions…! We’ll see.

Anyway, thanks for reading and see you on the other side! Hope 2010 is good for you.

An Englishman in New York (ITV1)

The made-for-television movie ‘An Englishman in New York’ premièred this evening on ITV1 at 9pm. Very, very good indeed. Probably the best quality drama I’ve seen this Christmas (there has been a lot of dross on, unsurprisingly).

John Hurt in the leading role of Crisp was exceptional. Cynthia Nixon (who plays Miranda in Sex & The City) was also in it.

An Englishman who found fame late in life, he eschewed England and its backward judgemental society to make his home in New York.

Born Denis Charles Pratt, he was an English writer and raconteur. He became a gay icon in the 1970s after publication of his memoir, The Naked Civil Servant, brought to the attention of the general public his defiant exhibitionism and longstanding refusal to remain in the closet. (Source: Wikipedia).

Lauded in some quarters as the herald of the gay rights movement – but by others – even within the gay community – he was demonised for both perpetuating negative stereotypes of gay people whilst simultaneously being homophobic and unsympathetic. Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, commenting in The Telegraph, has been especially critical of Crisp who he himself once met:

“For gay men, he was a terrible role model and certainly never used his celebrity status positively. He disgracefully dismissed Aids as a ‘fad.’ He said gay men were incapable of love and said that they had ‘feminine minds’ which made him a misogynist as well as a homophobe.”

While Tatchell considered Hurt’s performance as Crisp to have been “stunning,” he didn’t see why his life should be celebrated. “Along with Larry Grayson and John Inman, he confirmed rather than challenged prejudices.” Source: Telegraph.

The Guardian has a very interesting article on the film and on Crisp himself.

True Blood

I really enjoyed True Blood which premièred on Channel 4 this evening. From the director of Six Feet Under – this is just the type of US import that I’m predisposed to enjoy – like Mad Men, Sopranos or Damages. It’s adult drama – not for the masses (unlike Flash Forward, which is). It’s full of filthy language (much of it in southern drawl), illicit sex and also violence. It’s gritty, colourful and above all – absorbing. And it reminded me of our own home-grown vampire drama, Being Human, made by the BBC last year – which I enjoyed.

True Blood is much better and has far more appeal than the dumbed-down, cliché-ridden Flash Forward which has also just started on UK tv, of which I’ve seen the first two episodes. That had wooden, stereotyped and politically correct characters that just feel really bland and anodyne – especially compared with this. Sure – the plot and premise are good – but the acting isn’t.

I’m now really looking forward to the next episode. If you didn’t catch it – it’s set in the present-day Deep South – vampires live alongside humans. It’s the kind of thing that’s not quite so easy to describe; you have to watch it. More on HBO’s site.

Review: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Every once in a while a book comes along that will really move you. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson is one such book.

I knew nothing about it when I bought it. I was doing an Amazon shop; it had rave reviews and it was also half price. So I thought ‘what the heck’ and I bought it.

Having finished it this morning – I consider it to be one of the most powerful books I’ve read in recent years. It is an odyssey that spans centuries. It is about love. It is about connection. It is about redemption and self discovery and of being true to oneself. It is also about loving someone enough to let them go.

It’s an international best-seller. From an unknown Canadian author. Like me, he taught English in Japan. And, wait for it – this was his début novel.

I don’t like dissecting books for people that have not yet read them as I worry it will detract from their own enjoyment when they get to read it; better to know too little than to know too much. I knew nothing about it when I started reading it and this was the best way. In fact, the first few pages made me doubt it would be my sort of book. But I was wrong.

This is a novel about transition and of self-discovery. It is also about burns – in all their grisly detail. It is about Medieval Germany. It is about Christ and religion. It is also about Dante’s Inferno and of Engenthal. It is, in fact, about many, many things.

Chapter 21 (a stand-alone love story set in Viking times – focusing on the relationship between two men) will live with me for a long, long time. That which has always truly been beyond the scope of this blog was suddenly brought into sharp relief and this affected me more deeply than anything I’ve read in a long time. I was jarred by remembrance, by nuance, and by absolute and indisputable recognition.

This is a book for aspirational people who believe in the concept of true love. For people who believe in something more powerful and more meaningful than sex, superficial beauty and physical attraction. This is a book for people who yearn for – and believe in – connection, oneness and singularity.

I’ve read the odd negative review and for some it’s probably too mainstream now. The self-concious and invariably faux ‘literati’ would not like it, for example. I’ve read the odd deriding blog entry that’s self-consciously clever and picks holes in the history of it. But that misses the point entirely. It’s a piece of fiction. And as fiction goes it’s extremely compelling and a total tour de force.

The Gargoyle is one of the best books I’ve read in the last 5 years. Very highly recommended.

PS If you do read it – or have read it – let me know your thoughts.

TV, movie, book, theatre, art reviews

Mad Men Series 2 (BBC)

At last the day has come. Mad Men series 2 finally aired on BBC4. I have waited a long time for this and seeing it again on our screens has been sublime.

I love how the Radio Times described it:

The first season of Mad Men probably won more awards than it did viewers. But its tiny band of devotees on both sides of the Atlantic treasured it as a polished pearl, a television series of wit, thoughtfulness and elegance. So bless the BBC for keeping the faith and bringing us series two. Source: Radio Times.

mad men

It’s so true. Very few people I know watch it, but that’s such a shame as it’s one of the very best things on British television right now. In the sea of mind-numbing, amorphous, celebrity crap – this really is delicious. The attention to period detail is absolutely exquisite – like no other TV program I’ve seen. The smoking, the drinking, the womanising, the clothes, the marital dysfunction, the desperate housewives, the search for meaning. All very powerful stuff and highly compelling viewing.

Episode 1 of season 2 followed on from where the last series left off. The arrival of the revolutionary photocopier has the office abuzz. I won’t write too much more as it can be watched again on BBC iPlayer.

Masses of photos on AMC’s website.

Series 2 episode 1 on iPlayer.

PS OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGG they’ve just advertised the second season of Damages beginning on Sunday! My two favourite US imports restarting on television for their new seasons! Happy days indeed!

2008 – A Year in Review

It’s been a busy year. It’s been a year of change, too.

Huge change on the job front. After 5.5 years in the same company, I took the plunge and left, joining a very large professional services firm in the City. I hated it. Hated pretty much all aspects of it. It represented everything I don’t like in a company – too greedy, too exploitative of its staff, too little importance placed on well-being, morale, etc. And don’t get me started on the people… most of them were lobotomised clones, really, the most dreary, officious, internally competitive (in the negative sense), second-rate kind of people you could have the misfortune to work with.

After 3.5 very unhappy months, I left and had three weeks off. I was very lucky. An ex-colleague I hadn’t heard from in over a year made contact out of the blue (the day I was resigning from the aforementioned company – now that is fate) – and to cut a long story short – I was offered a job at his place. A very high level international consultancy. Extremely bright, decent, friendly, warm, welcoming people. Masses of perks – more than I’ve ever had in any job. Most importantly – the role itself is very good (though demanding, is certainly pushing me). I sit in the consultant group (in terms of role-equivalent) and there is huge scope. There is also, given more time and a modicum of luck – the international aspect as the company has offices around the world. This of course now figures highly in my master plan. Having said all of the above, I am on an initial 6 month contract which finishes in April.

I’ve been at my new place just two months but it feels like much much longer. But in a good way. It takes time to get to know people but they’ve been very friendly. Loads my age, too. And they’re decent sorts. Not the binge drinking set, but very sociable, cosmopolitan and quite international. I go out once or twice a week with work and am loving it. Very easy place to be yourself, to casually reference boyfriends rather than girlfriends, etc. It’s incredibly grown up.

On the personal front it’s been a difficult year. Much of it is beyond the scope of this blog. Intense relationships ended as I froze certain people out of my life in a way that, retrospectively, seems quite cruel. There is still much that is unresolved. Perhaps early next year I can salvage some of what once was. I do have a propensity to throw the baby out with the bathwater and I think I’ve done that this year.

On the more direct relationship front – there were a few STRs (is that what they’re called? Short term relationships) but ones that didn’t go very far. Mr Right was certainly not found this year. I did sign up to online dating though haven’t made much progress with the profile and photo yet. I must do that. I need to actually DO IT rather than talk about having to do it, too.

It was a year of travel. I left the UK six times, in date order: East Africa, Amsterdam, Prague, Rome, Stockholm and Egypt. In total I spent perhaps 4-5 weeks outside the UK. They were all a bit too short though. They represented a combination of family visits, work trips and city breaks. It’s good to get off this island as often as possible.

On the flat front, I had a lovely handyman do some serious upgrading of my flat and he did a great job. We became friends too. Which is nice. I have had a serious damp problem, however, which is still to be resolved. Too complex to go into but the managing agent is on the case and early next month it should finally be remedied (if not, party wall agreements will come to the fore and we’ll (it’s not just me) be reading the riot act to the freeholder).

In summary – I can’t really say it was a bad year or a good year. Quite a bit happened. The ups and downs in my working life dominated much of the year. I certainly had an insane number of interviews this year, too.

I hope 2009 is full of opportunities – primarily in the sphere of ‘people’ and in all senses of the word.

Happy New Year!