Thursday, 12 June 2008

The Cleaner

Recently, I've been slightly embarrassed because I keep on bumping into the male cleaner at UEA. This obviously wouldn't be too bad if he hadn't opened the door to our office while I was taking my clothes off.

OK - that sounds slightly dodgy but let me explain! I often go swimming and so I thought I'd change in the office. Arthur was passing me my swimming costume and the cleaner came in when I was half-naked. Matters were made worse because it looked like Arthur was taking off my trunks rather than passing them to me... Neither did Arthur make things better by going bright red and turning his back... So I had to pass the bin - while still half-naked to the cleaner. To be fair I think the cleaner had the greater shock. As soon as he left we burst out laughing.

Anyway, I do wonder whether he's told all his cleaner friends that he saw a pair of poofs at it in the history department, or whether he's too uncomfortable to even mention it to anyone..

He is friendlier now.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008


During my travels this week I was waiting for my train to come into Norwich when a couple RIGHT in front of me started to eat each other’s faces off. This unexpected voyeuristic experience left me feeling annoyed, then jealous and finally shameful. You see my annoyance stemmed less from the blatant 'Public Display of Affection' (as Wikipedia labels it), and more at my cowardice for having never similarly snogged Arthur's (Chris also wanted a nom de plume) face off in public (well at least at a train-station) [other nauseous terms include gobble-gobble kissing or to suck face]. Generally, if Arthur and I are seeing each off, we'll give each other a big bear hug, yet there is I feel, still something awkward in our farewells - which to some extent is my own fault for giving a damn what others think.

There will be some who say 'I don't want to see anyone kissing - whether they're straight, gay or a transgenderqueer boydyke'. And certainly I agree that there should be a limit concerning the amount of bodily fluid one passes in public, but I do think that this kind of opinion misses the point. Clearly same-sex pashing/pulling will probably garner more attention and perhaps even aggression from passer-by’s than two heterosexuals kissing... Indeed, even two men/two women holding hands in a provincial town, is I think, a pretty brave act.

But also – why is a bit of kissing considered so offensive? I have a suspicion that those who find this SO objectionable are the same kind of prudes who would grumble about public breast-feeding or naturalist swimming groups.

Anyway, I'm determined in future to care less what people might think! Let the heavy petting begin!

Exeter Escapades

Now that I have given my paper at the HuSS conference I've got some time to report back on my wonderful week in Exeter.

The journey from Norwich to Plymouth (I was staying over at a friend's) was not too bad, although I did have to listen to a group of lads talking about how they were going to "Ball some Bitches" in Newquay...

Before I arrived in Exeter I had the opportunity to see three of my oldest and dearest friends (Betty, Sally and Dorothy). I've known these lovely ladies for at least ten years now and we've had many an amazing evening, normally involving copious quantities of alcohol... We spent the Sunday in Brixham, at a post-wedding reception and caught up with each other's gossip. I even learnt something new about Sally - apparently she was haunted at a young age by a ghost that made her room smell of scampi. Her mum used to tell her off because she thought Sally was eating loads of scampi and lemon nicnaks! Here is a petition to bring these crisps back...

Old friends are quite funny - because they are often such a contrast to the friends that I have made since I've been at University, who generally, have similar views/beliefs to myself. [In other words, they are more likely to agree with me - YEAH!]. I did feel sorry for the feminist movement in general after Sally and Dorothy both claimed at one point that (A) 'People shouldn't get any Child Benefits' [Because people would then stop having children apparently...](B) 'Those on the Dole should be forced into conscription' [It will give them direction!] and (C) 'Things were much better 30 years ago' [Do I have to comment here?]. Nevertheless, at least they love the gays! Well, I assume so anyway!

After Brixham I traveled to Exeter, and Rachel, who is a star - let me stay at hers for the evening (at very short notice). I also finally finished/dumbed down my paper... The next day the paper appeared to go well - The chair was slightly annoyed with me because I had completely ignored/deleted an email he had sent me asking for information about myself... However, after I presented, he said that he'd really enjoyed the paper - so presumably it was half-decent... Indeed, he even patted me on the arm when I next saw him (in a toilet...) That evening we preceded to the HUSS conference dinner, where I tried to get a few of my fellow History PhD students drunk. Apparently, I had already put one of my friends off white wine for life at a previous gathering! Most of you will realise that this is a grossly unfair accusation and that I would never intentionally try to get someone drunk. Anyway, I persuaded my friend to have some red wine instead - and she accepted!

All in all, the trip to Exeter has been very enjoyable. Tomorrow morning I'm off to the lovely town of Guildford!

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Back to Exeter: My Child the Christian?

Today, I travel down for the Exeter Huss Conference, a conference I think some of you may know my opinion of... I do find it slightly amusing that I'm traveling down so soon after a bungled bomb attempt occurred in the centre of Exeter. To my mind it's not surprising that this recent attempt was made by some nutty convert – converts are normally much more scary than your run of the mill fundamentalist.

Indeed, Chris and I have decided that if we have children (surrogate mothers apply below) we’re going to bring them up as Christians, take them to church each week and send them to a faith school. That way they can do the normal thing and reject it when they’re older … Otherwise, you might have a child who feels you’ve given them no spiritual outlet, and then they decide to become an Evangelical Christian … (Wouldn’t that be a nightmare – although I guess it would be the ultimate teenage rebellion if you were brought up by two men…)

On a serious note, I don’t think I’d mind if one of my children did become a Christian, but you’d hope they pick a denomination that isn’t too enthusiastic or preachy…

Catholicism does have the longest pedigree, and it’s tempting because you can make your children feel guilty for life … Personally however, I think I prefer Anglo-Catholicism because it has the best of both worlds – the liturgical element (the bells/smells), which is drawn from Catholicism, and the wishy-washy liberal element drawn from Anglicanism.

On a side issue, if you’re gay and want to get laid just join a theological college - so many high Anglican gays – sometimes I’m amazed when I meet a straight male Anglican! Normally they’re married off pretty early I think … Another important point is that you still get good wine at high Anglican churches – I really do feel sorry for Methodists who have to drink fruit juice …

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to a few Evangelical churches and I love a ‘Shine Jesus Shine’ like the next man but I do think that if you were to use an analogy such churches would equal a bottle of Lambrusco/Blue Nun (cheap, sweet and easy to get drunk on, but with very little depth). Normally, thank God, most people’s tastes mature as they get older.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Matt's Guacamole

I made some Guacamole today and I have to say it was very good (even if I do say so myself) so thought I'd share the recipe.


2 Avocados
1 Red Chili (seeds and pith removed)
2-3 Vine-Tomatoes
1/2 a small Red Onion
1 clove of Garlic sliced (I used Green Garlic, but would probably use 1/2 a clove of regular Garlic)
A handful of chopped Coriander
A squeeze of Lemon
Salt (Malden Salt if you can) and Freshly Milled Black Pepper


Finely chop the Chili, Tomatoes, Red Onion and Garlic and place in a mixing bowl. Scoop out the Avocados’ flesh, mash in a bowl, and then mix with the rest of the ingredients. Throw in the Coriander, season liberally with Salt and Pepper and add Lemon juice to taste. Serve with Pittas or Tortilla Chips.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Holiday Inn: A Complaint...

[Warning: Contains Adult Themes…]

So after reminiscing about my recent trip to Kalamazoo I realised that there was still one thing that I hadn't blogged about. Nevertheless, there were valid reasons for this omission.

Two reasons actually:

(1) People might think I'm a pervert...
(2) People might think I'm a big fat liar...

However, mulling this over for at least a week now, I feel that if I let this go I'm only allowing a grave injustice to continue. What's more, is my "reputation" really that important when we're talking about equality and fairness for all?

Here's my story... After returning to the Holiday Inn last week I decided that my entire afternoon would be dedicated to slobbery. But first I had to decide on a film to watch... There were almost 70 movies to choose from in the hotel list, ranging from your Oscar nominated films [No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood etc] to a number of films starring Jessica Alba, which I think you'll agree is never a good sign.

For instance, one [Awake] has the blurb: "The story focuses on a man who suffers "anesthetic awareness" and finds himself awake and aware, but paralyzed, during heart surgery. His mother must wrestle with her own demons as a drama unfolds around them, while trying to unfold the story hidden behind her son's young wife"... Hmm …

Nevertheless, I didn't want to prejudge these offerings, so the next hour or so was spent watching each and every preview... [No Awake does not look good... neither does Alba's The Eye... in which she plays a blind woman who realises her recently transplanted eyes are making her see EVIL premonitions...] Anyway, I didn't intend this to be an Alba hate-fest and I’d like to make clear that I always loved her early work - so moving swiftly on...

After making an initial selection, I looked on the menu to see if there were any other film channels - there was only the Adult Channel... Now I want to make clear that I was not interested in perusing porn at this precise moment, (I much prefer a good book) but I was intrigued as to what Holiday Inn's selection of adult films were...

Funny enough, unlike the other films, these movies did not have previews. Anyway, I noticed after more and more searching, that there was not one Gay porn movie... not one...! Every other sexuality was catered for... Straight men obviously had the biggest choice, with almost all forms of heterosexual depravity to choose from. Lesbians not only had '100% Lesbian Sex', 'Woman on Woman Action', BUT they also had 'Real Dykes'. (Ok, I realise that these films were probably not produced with the assumption that lesbians would watch them but that's not the point...). Straight Women did I admit have very meagre pickings - with a few channels like 'Genuine Couples' or 'Married Love' ... But there was no 'Broke Guys Go Gay' or 'Horny College Jocks' or ‘The Penetrator’ (or whatever these kinds of films are called…)

Anyway, I think you'll agree that this is cause for complaint... As I've said before, and, I'd like to make this very clear - I wasn't looking for porn. But, it's certainly nice to have that option... I now feel I should write an email to Holiday Inn setting out why I think there should be, at the very least, one gay porn flick in their adult movie list. I will report back when and if I receive a reply…

"Liberals" and Soft Homophobia: Part 1

[Warning: This post is not satirical, and is more of a rant (although this might in itself cause some amusement) and has a particularly preachy quality to it]

A recent conversation with a friend about the relationship between political ideology and homophobia has got me thinking about the kind of response, as a student, I've had from friends/acquaintances about my sexuality. Because of the kind of people I interact with (generally all very lovely), I have had little cause to moan/worry about homophobia; indeed, the only form of abuse I’ve ever had in Exeter happened to take the form of a racist verbal incident. To a certain degree, a University setting, and particularly a postgraduate environment, has probably cushioned me from most forms of prejudice or discrimination. (Although this might be different if I was a science student/had a religious faith....)

Nevertheless, I have noticed that a number of people whom I have come into contact with, may consider themselves liberal, yet still have a bit of a problem … The kind of opinions they hold, reflect, to some degree, a much more pernicious (and irritating) kind of homophobia, because these "liberals" often assume that we now live in a post-homophobic (and post-sexist) society, where gays and lesbians always live blissfully, universally accepted by everyone. Indeed, they don’t seem to appreciate that their own experiences of gay people, of whom, in a university context, will generally be of the white and middle-class variety, does not reflect the entirety of LGBT experience- many gay people, because of a number of variables: class, age, gender, race or religion, may have far worse problems/experiences - not just with “coming out” in the first place (with all the problems this entails), but also finding a safe environment - both in their own communities and within the workplace …

Such liberals (or those that profess to be liberals) are a particularly unreflective kind of liberal, a liberal formed from their environment and immediate group of friends. The kind of person, who, in twenty years, after settling down in the suburbs, will begin reading the Daily Mail, because ‘society has now changed so much … ’ Even though such people will think of sexuality as irrelevant "why would I care who so and so sleeps with" they will still come out with statements that demonstrate a high level of ignorance, and a disturbingly low degree of empathy...

1/. "I don't go around saying I'm straight all the time"...

This is a statement I've come across on a number of occasions. Not only is it a pretty stupid statement in itself, it is also entirely false. People talk about (or broadcast) their sexuality all the time – although they don't always know it... For example, in most introductions or first meetings, in a variety of contexts, people will often mention their relationship status, and talk about their wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend, or the fact they have children.

This is an entirely normal component of social greeting, yet when a heterosexual man or woman says they have a wife/husband they are not declaring 'I am straight'. Nevertheless, as a gay man each time I mention my partner, I'm effectively "coming out" to someone new, and, what is more, I have to consider carefully what sort of reaction I might receive. Of course, I don't have to mention Chris by name, but to some extent the term 'partner' is in itself code for gay partner...

Most people of course, are unlikely to go from polite to rude in 60 seconds... Indeed, generally people will normally try to show that they are not bothered at all - the initial mental 'OH' (indeed generally a positive 'OH'), will be hidden quickly under a polite and restraint 'So what does he do?'