Friday, January 27, 2006

British yob sets fire to Table Mountain?

Cape Town at this time of the year is always hot and can be very windy. Fires on the mountain are a common occurrence. Usually they're easy to get under control but sometimes they rage for days and threaten houses on the slopes. A really bad one swept across the mountain over the past few days and has destroyed a few houses and killed a British tourist.

The visible impact of the fire will probably be there for a long time to come even though annual fires are, to some extent, desirable, as they release the seeds of a lot of indigenous vegetation. That's all well and good for rural areas but fires of that nature in an urban area tend to do more harm than good. Cape Town residents are constantly being reminded not to drop cigarette ends or burning matches where there's any chance of a fire taking hold. But, accidents happen. This time, however, the fire appears to have been started deliberately.

A British man has been arrested and appears in court today.

Click on the pictures for links to the story.

The BBC has some spectacular photos of the fire.

They are so easily confused

pete burnsHas anyone been watching Celebrity Big Brother? I haven't apart from late at night as a way of trying to fall asleep. I mean it! Unlike many others I'm not a closet Big Brother watcher - I actually don't watch it.

But watch it or not, it's virtually impossible to not know what's going on as it's plastered all over the news and papers all the time. For most of the politically-illiterate of this country George Galloway meant nothing but his cat stunt will have made them all aware of who he is by now.

I bumped into a friend at the pub last night who mentioned how his commercial website has taken a huge pounding in recent weeks. A bit like this blog over the past few days. I don't usually reveal friend's names unless they are fellow bloggers so I won't reveal his name but, suffice to say, things can be confusing if you have the same name as someone in the public eye.

Um, cough, cough.

So who do you think is going to win?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Some snippets

It turns out that my mysterious Ghanaian visitor is actually a friend of mine who lives in Maputo. Yes, I know that Maputo isn't in Ghana and I can't really explain why she should be identified by both sitemeter and neocounter as being Ghanaian apart from the fact that both counters may have erroneously identified the ISP she uses. Another regular reader from South Africa is correctly identified as such by neocounter but identified as Mauritian by sitemeter.

It's great to have my Maputo friend reveal her hand, so to speak, but slightly disappointing to know that I don't have a regular from Ghana. Oh well, win some, lose some...

Now you know that I have an interest in flags and you may have worked out that I rather like maps too. Not only do I have a blogmap but I've also recently plastered my wallpaper with maps. Just in the interests of overkill, I may have to add one of those world map things. Then again, maybe not. So I find it very interesting to read about the recent discovery of an ancient map that suggests that Chinese seamen were the first to sail around the world. Its authenticity is still under dispute but its discovery comes relatively soon after Gavin Menzies wrote his 2003 bestseller, '1421: The Year China Discovered the World'. I never got to read the book even though I read a lot of articles and reviews that made me want to read it. Some reviews were very favourable and drew attention to the fact that the Chinese explored because they had a yearning to learn about, rather than subjugate, other people. Some were a lot less favourable and referred to it as 'a dubious book that offers an object lesson in amateurish research, slapdash editing and publishing greed'. While this newly discovered map may give credence to Menzies, Simon Jenkins, writing in the Guardian, has interesting things to say about maps and discovery but is quite sure that the map is a hoax.

elvis presleyHere's a fun link that I found on Monkey Boy. You provide your birth date and you're told what the UK No.1 was on that day.

Mine was Elvis Presley's A Fool Such As I / I Need Your Love Tonight. Not sure what to make of that!

Let me know what your number ones were.

After having said, in my review of the film, that I'd thought of not mentioning it at all, here I am discussing Brokeback Mountain again. But I thought you'd appreciate this film clip I was led to on Bill's blog. I love it when people I don't like visibly/audibly squirm.

Incidentally, another reader of mine drew my attention to his review of Brokeback Mountain, a similarly underwhelmed impression. His review is much more detailed than mine - it's good to read another dissenting voice after so much praise elsewhere.

Thanks to Bill again, I've come across Tottyland, 'a detailed discussion into the merits or lack of merits of totty'. Obviously, it's a gay site that displays lots of male flesh but what distinguishes it from most gay ogling sites is the way it concentrates on men who are in the public eye rather than porn stars displaying their assets and getting it together in weird and wonderful ways.Not that I've anything against those sites, of course!

I suspect women may enjoy visiting Tottyland and not feel odd about it.

google chinaAnd, lastly, don't you just love this double-speak?

"While removing search results is inconsistent with Google's mission, providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission."

That's part of Google's official statement on censoring itself in China. I know all about economic realities of doing business with the fastest growing economy in the world but that sort of double-speak harks back to the best days of communism.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The worst day of the year was the best one for Reluctant Nomad

the dreadful story of pauline and the matches
If high site statistics measured by random visitors visitng your blog are a 'good thing', then yesterday and today have been the best days so far for Reluctant Nomad.

Because of my post of a few weeks ago reporting that 23 January has been determined as the worst day of the year, I've received an all-time high number of visitors arriving here as a result of various search engines throwing me up (sounds unpleasant!) as a source of information on the year's worst day.

I now know why people sometimes gratuitously entitle their posts 'hot, throbbing, Black cocks' or 'tight, hot, Asian pussy'!

Thanks to Mike for the link to the Hoffman stories.

Monday, January 23, 2006

It's Chile not chilli

chile flag
When I hear the word 'Chile', I first think of the plant rather than the country simply because chillies (*) form an integral part of my diet. This time, however, I'm talking about the country because a visitor from there made Chile the fiftieth country to visit my blog. That isn't strictly true as I only installed that nifty little neocounter on the 14th of December whereas this blog has been alive since late August of last year. And, for all I know, those countries identified as 'country not detected' and 'satellite provider' could well have been countries not already listed as visitors. But, be that as it may, I'm honouring Chile as the fiftieth country to visit here.

I don't have any particular fascination for Chile although I'd like to visit it sometime but I've always had a thing for flags ever since collecting and swapping flag cards in primary school. They used to come with bubble gum that the kids at my school bought from Jacobias, the Indian shop across the road from my school on Avenida 24 de Julho in Maputo, formerly Lourenço Marques.

avenida 24 de julho, maputoReading this blog, you may have noticed that this fascination for flags continues to this day. In a previous post about the Mozambiquan flag I mentioned that many of the colonial street names were changed after independence to honour the heroes of communism and socialism and that those names still remain even after the demise of communism in Mozambique. Interestingly enough, Av 24 de Julho never changed its name even though you'd have thought a street named after a date during the colonial era would have a significance inextricably linked to the colonial period. Well, I wish I could remember the real reason for it and google isn't being of too much help today. If I recall correctly, while the original name was tied to a significant Portuguese historical event, the same day of the year also holds significance for the Mozambiquans so the name was allowed to stay.

botanical print - chilli pepperAnd since we're discussing the Portuguese in this 'chile post', it may interest you to know that Portuguese sailors were responsible for spreading chillis around the world. The hot, fiery taste of the chilli is synonymous with the cooking of vast parts of Africa, the Middle East, India, Thailand, etc but until the plant was introduced to those parts of the world by Portuguese sailors it was unknown there. Chillies were quickly and readily incorporated into Asian cuisines probably because the people there were already familiar with pungent and spicy flavours. But while the Portuguese were responsible for spreading the plant around the world, it was Columbus who was responsible for its discovery by Europe. Diego Álvarez Chanca, a physician on his second voyage to the West Indies brought the first chilli peppers to Spain in 1493 and wrote about their medicinal effects in 1494.

piri piri restaurant windowpiri piri restauranttop end of avenida 24 de julho, location of the piri piriThe most widely used chilli in Mozambique is piri piri. One of Maputo's most famous restaurants, a restaurant that's been there for many decades, is called the Piri Piri. It's famous for its uncomplicated but delicious seafood and, in particular, frango piri piri (piri piri chicken). Coincidentally, discussing the Piri Piri takes us back to Avenida 24 de Julho as that's where it's situated, about 5 minutes walk from where my school was situated. I usually got a lift or caught the bus home but there were times when I'd meet my mother there for lunch after school or we'd go there for a meal in the evening when my grandmother was visiting. There were other restaurants that I preferred to it but I loved tucking into pieces of their delicious chicken served with a pile of chips and salad.

I seem to have forgotten the original reason for this post and got waylaid by food, plants, history and nostalgia. So let's get back to the fiftieth country to visit this blog, Chile.

Well, since I know very little about Chile apart from the Pinochet saga, you'd be safer going elsewhere for information or anecdotes about the country. If you're interested, you may want to go here or here or here.

(*) While I prefer to spell chilli as 'chilli', 'chile' is also a perfectly acceptable spelling for the plant/fruit. And, in case you are wondering, even though chillies are indigenous to South America, Chile was not named after them.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Too busy?

too crowdedI had fun making this new 'wallpaper' but does it make the page look too busy?

The original format makes for a clean, simple interface that is easy on the eye but it seems a bit boring to me. A more subtle background may be a better idea than this repeating collage.

I'll go back to the old format if you think it's too busy while I think of something less assaulting on the senses.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The last year of school

alan and the kidsThat little boy on the left was five when that picture was taken. He started his last year of high school yesterday.

I wasn't there.

It depresses me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

On the hustings...

best of blogsSeveral of my favourite reads have been nominated for the second annual Best of Blogs awards.

In the 'Best LGBT Blog' category, you have Glitter for Brains and, both of whom are doing very respectably and need no help from me.

However, one of my favourite Canadian’s blog that was leading the race in the ‘Best Photo/Art/Poetry Blog’ category has slipped into third place.

Go vote Andrea’s blog at the Best of Blogs website.


I feel tired today

My blogging origins were brought back to me last night when Mike, Michelle, Ben and I met up for early-doors at the Golden Dragon. Although I’d met Mike before I knew of Troubled Diva, the rest of us met for the first time (*) when our stint as Troubled Diva guest-bloggers was coming to an end. At the time, I was the only guest-blogger who’d never blogged before.

Since then, Mike, Michelle and I have become the ‘Usual Suspects’ but Ben moved to Birmingham so we don’t get to see him very often.

It was good to catch up.

We went our separate ways just after 9.30 and I would’ve popped into the Lord Roberts had JP been there as he’d been when he texted me about half an hour earlier. Although it would’ve been good seeing him, I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that he was gone as the night would've degenerated into a piss-up of the sort that bodes badly for work the next day. When I last saw him, a happy wave from him as I walked to the shop at 4pm on Sunday afternoon turned into a beer-soaked evening that ended at 10pm.

He’s such a terrible influence!

Before returning to the flat, I went to the garage to get some milk and fags and bumped into J, the man who prompted my new year’s resolution. He seemed rather keen to come home with me and I confess to having been tempted but resisted and returned alone. I had too many chores to do and, for once, decided to do them rather than listen to my loins.

By 11.30, I was dozing lightly on the couch having just finished watching a great program on the music of New Orleans that was interspersed with current footage of the aftermath of Katrina. I seemed to be well on my way, for a change, to being properly asleep by midnight.

The doorbell rang.

I ignored it. It rang again. Again I ignored it. Fortunately, it wasn’t loud or insistent enough to really wake me up so I drifted off again. It could have been anyone but I thought that it may have been J who I’d bumped into earlier. Or even A although it was a bit late for him to be ringing. I fell asleep.

Loud insistent doorbell ringing!

I woke instantly, my nerves jangling. The room flickered with the ghostly light from the television. Had I overslept and it was my lift ringing? No, not him, it was only 2.30! Fuck, who could it be now? I’d have ignored it had it not been so insistent. At that time of the night it seemed loud enough to wake up my neighbours.

‘Who’s there?’ I asked over the intercom.

‘It’s D,’ slurred the voice. ‘Can I come up?’

‘No, it’s far too late. I have to be up in three hour’s time.’

‘I’ll just sleep then leave when you go,’ he said.

There was no way that he’d just settle down to sleep had I invited him up. And, anyway, had he come up, I know what we’d have got up to and I’d have felt terrible in the morning. In fact, I’d probably have been tempted to not go into work at all.

‘I’m half asleep and going back to bed. Good night.’

I put down the intercom phone without listening to his slurred reply. Once I was back on the couch, I was vaguely guilty about having sent him away but the feeling didn’t last long and I was soon sleeping again.

I feel tired today.

(*) We met up at the now sadly defunct George's which is now part of Revolution. If I look out of my flat window, I can look down through the skylight into where we used to meet up around the bar at George's.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My take on the film all them gays is talking about

brokeback mountainAs predicted, ‘Brokeback Mountain’ seems to be headed for major success at this year’s Oscars by having won four major awards at last night’s Golden Globe Awards , including best drama and best director. It seems that every gay blogger who’s seen the film has written about it and it’s been written about by some of those who’ve not yet seen it. So although I saw it last week, I thought it a bit pointless writing my bit about the film and was going to resist doing so.

However, since my take on it seems to differ from the vast majority who’ve seen it, I’ve resisted resisting and here you have it. My take won’t be an attempt at a sophisticated critique of the film as that is best done by those who are good at that sort of thing.

In a nutshell, I was underwhelmed.

jake in brokeback mountainThe film was too long and dragged in the beginning and dragged at the end. For most of the film I felt quite detached from the main characters even though I had been prepared to be very engaged with them and their ultimately tragic love story. While I am quite sure that Ang Lee chose to film Annie Proulx's story because it’s a beautifully crafted tale (it is!) and it subverts the heterosexual stereotypes of the masculine myths of rural America (it does!) and it’s a subtle portrayal of how love can endure incredible obstacles and prejudice, both externally and internally imposed (yes, it ticks those boxes too), I couldn’t help thinking that he knew he was filming a stereotypical gay male (and straight female!) fantasy. Don’t be mistaken and assume that I didn’t like the film. I did.

It’s a good film but not a great one.

The acting was superb and even though I agree with many of the political/activist objections against Hollywood needing to rely on straight actors portraying gay characters, I can’t get too fussed about them. The incredibly huge landscapes contrasted perfectly with the small-town mentalities of the characters and the overwhelming repression of anything out of the ordinary. And, of course, the eye candy factor was way up there, especially if, like me, you're a fan of Jake Gyllenhaal. I could go on but I said I won’t and whether I go on or not, no amount of intellectualising about a film is going to make me like it any more.

When I see what I believe to be a great film, I feel an immediate visceral impact. Some films grow on you as time goes by or on subsequent viewing but, for me, that is very rare. Several friends of mine saw Brokeback Mountain twice with the space of a few days. Another friend who was a bit underwhelmed immediately after the film says that he felt quite haunted by it for the next day. He may have revised his opinion since then.

I’ve tried being haunted by it but my opinion remains unchanged.

It’s unlikely that I’ve put any of you off seeing it so please let me know what you think.

Read Lubin’s review for a good review that raves about the film.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Calling Ghana

ghanaian flag

The beauty of having tools like sitemeter and neocounter is that you get to know where your readers come from and, sometimes, how they get here. But unless those readers become regular 'commenters', there's little else you can find out about them. Often, of course, you don't know if visitors are repeat readers or not unless there are a few other clues associated with the 'tracks' they leave.

Most of my visitors (and readers) are from the UK, US, South Africa, France and Canada. I know this from the number of visitors I get from those countries and from where the readers that comment live.

For some time now, I've noticed that I'm regularly visited by someone living in Ghana. I rather like the idea of being regularly read by someone who lives in Africa who isn't South African. I think that he or she may have stumbled across my blog via my registration with blogafrica, a website that pulls together a wide number of blogs with an African theme or background.

So, dear reader from Ghana, who are you?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Addicted to chicken soup

For the past few months I seemed to only eat toast or pasta twirls (fusilli?) mixed up with bacon, onion, cheese, green and red pepper, and my ‘special sauce’. For variation, I’d sometimes replace the pepper with broccoli. Now and again I’d eat a couple of fried eggs on toast, sometimes accompanied by bacon. Talk about a limited repertoire! And, occasionally, I’d splash out and buy a ready-made meal or I’d eat a can of Heinz’s tomato soup (I love the stuff!) with bread and butter.

In recent weeks that's all changed - I’ve grown addicted to two things, usually eaten separately but sometimes together.

tomatoes on the vineTomato Salad
Tomatoes – lots of them!
Spring onions (optional)
Cucumber (optional)
Broccoli (optional)
Mangetout (optional)
Balsamic vinegar dressing

Coarsely chop tomatoes. If using broccoli, microwave for a few minutes to soften but ensure that they remain firm and slightly crunchy. Chop up any other ingredients. Mix together with the dressing.

Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Balsamic Vinegar Dressing
2 portions balsamic vinegar
1 portion good extra virgin olive oil
crushed garlic – lots of it!
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Mix together. Adjust quantities according to taste.

roast chickenChicken Soup
Roast chicken (including the bones)
1-2 onions - chopped
Big bunch of spring onions – chopped incl all the green bits
2-3 peeled potatoes – chopped
Fresh chillies – chopped (or chilli powder)
crushed garlic – lots!
Alan’s ‘special sauce’
Chicken stock (home-made is best but too much effort so use stock cubes in hot water)
Salt (unnecessary if using salty stock cubes)
Juice of 1-2 lemons

Best made with left-over roast chicken but bought roast chicken pieces will do. Lightly fry the chopped onions, spring onions, garlic and chillies in the ‘special sauce’. Mix in the chopped potatoes and stir in the stock. Bring to the boil and let simmer at a low heat. Break the chicken into pieces and remove as much flesh as possible from the bones. Add the chicken and bones to the soup mixture. Add the lemon juice.

Let the soup simmer for 40-60 minutes or longer, stirring occasionally. Remove the bones before serving with hunks of buttered white bread.

lemonsgarlicpiri piriAlan’s ‘Special Sauce’
3 portions good extra virgin olive oil
1 portion of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Crushed garlic – lots!
Chilli powder
Crushed chillies
Cumin powder

Mix the ingredients together in a container/jar with a tight lid. Shake vigorously and taste to see if proportions of any of the ingredients need to be changed. The sauce should not feel oily on the mouth but neither should it be dominated by the tartness of the lemon juice.

This is a very versatile sauce that I used to fry things in as well as to drizzle on/in food such as baked potatoes and pasta. I always have a bottle of it on the go.

But having said all that, last night I made my own version of chicken biryani. I didn't have any lentils (let alone most of the required spices) but it tasted delicious nevertheless. There was lots left over so that's what I'll be eating tonight.

With tomato salad of course!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Let them eat cake

chocolate cakeHello, is that Mr F?’ asked the woman on the telephone.

‘Yes, speaking,’ I said.

‘Does Patience work for you?’ she asked.

‘Um, yes,’ I replied.

‘Sorry to bother you, I’m Dr de Wet at the Claremont Medical Centre. Patience came here about half an hour ago feeling ill. We’ve examined her and decided to send her to Groote Schuur hospital for tests as she is very light-headed and her heart beat seems unstable. She wanted us to contact you as she’s left your house open.’

This completely unexpected call gave me quite a shock. There had never been any signs of ill health with Patience in the three years that she'd been working for my wife and me.

‘Is she alright? Do you know what’s wrong with her?’ I asked.

‘We’re not sure,’ she explained patiently, ‘that’s why we’re sending her to Groote Schuur. This is a private clinic, unfortunately, so we can't check her up properly here. We’ve sent for an ambulance so she should get collected soon.’

After I’d put the phone down, I told my boss that I had to go home then left the office.

On the way there I wondered what could be the matter with her and whether she’d managed to contact her family to let them know what was going on. She didn’t have a telephone at home but I had her neighbour’s number so thought I’d ring her when I got home to let her know what was going on.

It wasn’t a long journey; I was driving up the cul-de-sac fifteen minutes later.

The front door of our little cottage opened on to a tiny patch of lawn that separated it from the pavement. It was wide open! Patience must have been in a very distressed state to have left it open like that. The cottage was not far from Harfield Station and the area was well known for robberies, something that we’d emphasised to Patience many times. My concern for her deepened just as I started to worry about whether anyone had entered the house since she’d left.

I rushed in, looking to see if there was any sign of intrusion but there was none.

The place was looking very clean and tidy so Patience must have been close to finishing by the time she’d had to leave. Her basket was in the spare bedroom as was the bag of old clothes that E had given her in the morning. I tried to contact her neighbour but there was no reply. She, like Patience, was a domestic servant, so was probably still working.

Before I returned to the office, I thought that I’d make myself some coffee.

I loved going into the kitchen after Patience had been. Everything gleamed and sparkled; the quarry tiles on the floor looked rich and smooth. At that time of day, during summer, the sun streamed in and the place glowed. Looking out the window, you could see Devil’s Peak shimmering in the distance, framed by the rampant, pink-flowering bougainvillea.

It was while making my coffee that I noticed Patience’s teacup and a plate in the sink. A piece of scrunched up tinfoil lay on the plate which was sprinkled with brown crumbs. I opened it. More brown crumbs inside.

It had to be what I thought it was. My heart was thumping loudly as I opened the fridge’s freezer compartment.

As usual, after Patience had been, the freezer had been defrosted. It was an ancient fridge that iced up with a vengeance and needed to be defrosted at least once every two weeks if not more regularly. So, finding what I was looking for was easy. I got it out and immediately saw that there was a lot less of it than I expected.

Patience was stoned! And, by the amount of dope cake missing, she was VERY stoned!

We’d always told her to help herself to whatever was in the kitchen for her breakfast and lunch. Usually, she’d eat leftovers from the fridge or fry herself some eggs and eat them with toast. The dope cake had been in the fridge for months so she’d have seen it before without trying it. Although it was heavily laden with cocoa and chocolate, the taste of it was unmistakeable to an aficionado. To an unsuspecting innocent like Patience, it would have tasted like lucerne heavily laced with chocolate.

My anxiety for her well-being was immediately replaced by relief, guilt and embarrassment. At least I knew that there was nothing seriously wrong with her but I felt horribly guilty and embarrassed about having caused her health scare.

Back at the office, I rang E and told her what had happened. She was just as guilty and embarrassed as I was about it. More so, in fact. I rang the hospital and found out that she was still there so we decided to visit her after work.

It took a while to find out which ward she was in. A nurse showed us to her bed in a dormitory full of loud people surrounded by their loud relatives. Patience lay quiet and alone in her bed. She looked very frightened but smiled happily when she saw us. Both E and I looked into her eyes. Yep, there was no mistaking it, she was very stoned!

‘How are you feeling?’ I asked.

‘Not so good, Master Alan, but I feel better now,‘ she replied. I hated her calling me that but she insisted no matter how many times I asked her to just call me Alan. At least she didn’t call me ‘baas’.

Hesitantly, I asked if she’d eaten anything from the freezer. She nodded her head, looking mildly guilty as if she’d eaten something she shouldn’t have.

‘Oh no, you know you can eat whatever's in the kitchen. I just think that cake was very old. It could have been off and made you sick.’

cannabisI could see that she didn’t believe me so I left it at that.

A doctor walked up just then and in the same breath, cheerily greeted us and asked Patience how she was feeling. We thought he must know that she was stoned and shuffled our feet like guilty school children. He felt her pulse and checked her heart with his stethoscope.

‘You’re much better now,' he said reassuringly. 'It's ok for you to go home now.’

We offered to drive her home but she wanted to be dropped off at the station. The rest of the cake got thrown away when we got home.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Reluctant Nomad interviewed by Gay Banker

reluctant nomad looking reluctantwry smileGay Banker is one of my regular reads and I’ve been reading the blogger interviews that he's been participating in along with others with great interest. It’s an interesting concept and, as per the rules (see bottom of page), I volunteered to be interviewed by him. A bit of effort is required from the interviewer, mostly concerning the trawling of a blog’s archives, so that the list of five questions is pertinent to the interviewee.

It seems that Gay Banker did a great job rising to the challenge and he even managed to dredge up a very unflattering picture of me from Troubled Diva's archives. In the interests of vanity and healthy, balanced perspective, I’m posting a couple of recent pictures of myself so that people don’t think that I look like that all the time! Apart from the pictures from my past and my 'magazine portrait', this is the first time I’ve posted pictures of myself on my blog. It appears that this interview technique has the potential of producing some revealing results!

Without further ado, here are the answers to Gay Banker's interview questions:

What was it like growing up gay in apartheid South Africa?

This is a very good question but to get a decent, comprehensive answer to it, I’m not the best person to ask as I suppressed my gay side for most of that period so am unable to give you the answers that you’d get from someone who lived a ‘gay life’ during that period, whether in the closet or not. Homosexuality wasn’t illegal at that time but sodomy was. Gay bars existed in the cities but were in dark alleys out of the sight of prying eyes. The police regularly raided cruising grounds and people would get charged with committing indecent acts. Medical authorities in the army often subjected gays to drug, shock and hormonal treatments without the informed consent of their ‘patients’. So, there is a lot to write about that period and a lot of it has been written by those who were there but none of this really affected me. However, I can give you my experiences of being gay during that period.

At boarding school, I indulged in various ‘homosexual fumblings’ which ultimately led me to realise I was gay with me admitting to myself (and a friend) that I was gay when I was 16. But it was only when I went to university a year later that I started mixing with people who regarded themselves as gay, some of whom were quite happy to be known as gay even though they were surrounded by a lot of homophobic students. I continued with my ‘homosexual fumblings’ but even though I was close friends with a number of gay friends and even went to one of Cape Town’s gay bars (Wings) several times, none of my friends knew that I was (am) gay. Had I not met my wife when I was 19 and fallen in love with her I’d definitely have been part of the South African gay scene at the time. For the four years I lived with her before getting married and for a couple of years afterwards, I’d still indulge in my ‘homosexual fumblings’ but then I stopped for close on 10 years until I ‘re-confessed’ to her that I was gay. Very hard to believe when you read how promiscuous I am these days! So, gay life largely passed me by during that period. I only became fully part of it in the mid nineties by which time South Africa was the first (and only) country to have gay rights enshrined it the constitution.

You've promised a coming out posting sometime but for now, how did you wife react when you confessed (and re-confessed) to her that you're gay?
To answer this question, I’m going to have to give you part of the coming out posting which has yet to be posted. I’ll eventually get to posting that one of these days.

I met my wife when I was 19 and she had just returned from three years overseas which had culminated in her doing the ‘hippy trail’ across Asia to Nepal. She was (is) very bright, articulate, witty and interesting and I fell head over heels in love with her despite my knowing I was gay. I moved in with her a few weeks after having met her and we lived together for four years before she suggested we get married. In those early days we had a very healthy, active sex life but from very early on (maybe right from the start?) sex with her involved fantasising about men. We were going through a bit of a difficult patch when she suggested we get married and things seem to get worse after that for a period of about 6 months during which I was trying to pluck up the courage to tell her that it was a bad idea as I was gay. I had rehearsed how I was going to do it for months and had even written down a short speech that I was going to deliver her. She found the note and confronted me with it. Obviously, it led to a very traumatic conversation where we were both very upset and in tears. By the end of that conversation, we’d convinced ourselves that I was bi and things carried on as before and we got married a few months later.

As I said above, my fumblings continued for a couple of years after getting married but then I completely suppressed all that for close on 10 years by which time our sex life was non-existent and I was feeling increasingly depressed, claustrophobic and isolated. I was hardly talking to her at the time and that was causing huge tensions at home and she suggested meeting me at lunchtime one day to discuss our relationship. It was on my daughter’s first day at school. We met up and she started the conversation by saying, ‘What’s wrong, why are you being so non-communicative?’ I said, outright, ‘You know what the problem is, I’m gay.’

Although she probably expected the answer subconsciously, it shocked her. During that conversation she asked why I now referred to myself as gay rather than bi. I said, ‘To put it simplistically, if I walk down the street and see a beautiful woman, my mind registers ‘beautiful woman’ but I won’t give her a second thought but if I see a beautiful man, my mind dwells and dwells on him.’ I also told her that as hurtful as it may sound I didn’t find her at all sexually attractive but that was all to do with me and had nothing to do with her.

By that time, we’d lived together for almost 20 years and we'd had two children so my re-confession was even more traumatic than the original one. For a time we went through a really bad patch where we both saw therapists and went to marriage counselling but although she thought of leaving me, she chose not to so we are still together even though I live a very separate life in addition to my married life.

What is the least favourite city that your nomadic lifestyle has taken you to, and why?
This is a no-brainer – Southampton!

I spent 8 weeks there at the end of 2004 working for IBM at a large life assurance company. Staying in a hotel all that time didn’t help but the city is ugly and soulless despite being a major port and being near beautiful countryside. It was very badly bombed during the war so the city centre was largely rebuilt in the fifties and sixties so the architecture is unsympathetic and brutalist. At night, the city centre is largely devoid of people as the pubs, restaurants and bars are on the periphery and often situated far apart from each other.

Awful place!

Long term, do you expect to find a boyfriend to settle down with, or do you think you'll end up back with your wife in Cape Town?
Although there may be some inner issue that closes me to the idea of a long-term boyfriend, the real reason for not seeking one while I’m being ‘nomadic’ is that if I were to find one it would make my return to Cape Town very difficult. I’ve had several boyfriends in the past few years but they haven’t lasted because I eventually tired of the men concerned. But, having said that, my mind isn’t completely closed to the idea. I suspect, however, that when I return to Cape Town, I’ll probably get back with my ex of 7 years. There is a ‘fatal attraction’ between us that creates a very strong bond between us. Whenever I’m in Cape Town, I see a lot of him and even when he has had boyfriends we continue to have sex with each other. This has caused problems for him before as the boyfriends don’t like it (even though they don’t know we’re having sex) and they get very threatened by it.

When I'm in Cape Town, I live at my house with my wife and kids and I sleep in the same bed as hers so on returning, I’ll definitely land up with her again. How long that will continue for, I really have no idea. It will probably continue until I get together with a boyfriend whom I view as a long-term partner.

Finally, who's your favourite porn star (or if you don't have a favourite porn star, your favourite actor who you wish was a porn star)?
I don’t really have a favourite porn star although I’m rather fond of Colby Taylor (Warning: very explicit content) amongst others. I do, however, have two favourite actors that I wish did porn.

hugh jackmanhugh jackman
hugh jackmanI find the Australian actor, Hugh Jackman, incredibly sexy and loved his portrayal of Wolverine in the X-Men films even though I’d have made him get rid of all that hair had he got into bed with me at the time. Not only is he the best sort of eye candy but he is a damn fine actor!

edward nortonedward norton in fight club
edward nortonThe other actor who gives him a run for his money but doesn’t quite pip him to the post is Edward Norton. Again, not only great eye candy but a damn fine actor! Unlike most others who perved over Brad Pitt in Fight Club my eyes were on him all the time.

Gaybanker, thanks for those probing questions. In answering them I’ve probably answered a few questions that other readers may have wanted to ask. It was quite fun even if it took a bit of time to answer some of them.

For those of you who may want to be interviewed in this fashion, here are the Official Interview Games Rules:

  • If you want to participate, leave a comment below saying, "interview me".
  • I will respond by asking you five questions - each persons will be different.
  • You will update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions.
  • You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
  • When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Friday, January 06, 2006

A nomadic existence isn't the best

nomad womanAlthough I still have a base in Cape Town, most of the year is spent staying in temporary accommodation even if temporary sometimes lasts a year or more before I move on to somewhere else. To ensure that I don’t have to buy too much to make the temporary accommodation comfortable, I always look for furnished accommodation.

‘Furnished’ is a very relative concept so some of the places I’ve stayed in needed quite a few additions before I was able to feel comfortable. At one stage, I’d accumulated quite a bit of stuff: television set, various kitchen bits and pieces including a decent coffee-maker, lots of books and CDs, bedding, etc. All of that got sent back to Cape Town just over a year ago when I thought that I was going to be spending a year or more in Shanghai. That didn’t happen and I found myself back in Nottingham a few months later. On my return, I had to find a furnished place that was more furnished than most or move into the usual sparsely furnished place and buy necessities as the months went by.

the dessert

Fortunately, I found a place that was furnished enough for me to move in with my suitcase and laptop and not feel as if I were living in a monastery or jail. But, despite my not having to buy a TV, DVD player, CD player, bedding, etc it’s not as if it’s appointed with every kitchen gadget and a vast selection of books and CDs. And the very bland paintings on the walls and other decorative pieces are not to my taste. In other words, the place is comfortable enough but it certainly doesn’t feel like a true home. I could, of course, make changes that would make it feel more of a home but that brings me to the point of this post.

This ‘nomadic’ existence stops me from doing a lot of things that I enjoy simply because I need a more permanent base to enjoy them in. And since it’s been for quite a while that I’ve been living this way, I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever enjoy them again. nomad rider

  • Browsing around shops of the type I like: junk shops, charity shops, antique shops, second-hand bookshops, auction rooms – apart from books, even though too many of them make for heavy moving, there is no point in coming across things I may want to buy.
  • Spending hours wandering aimlessly around nurseries (garden centres, if you prefer) – again, no point.
  • Spending hours in the garden, poking at the ground, cutting and trimming things, moving and planting plants, pulling things out, etc – firstly, one needs a garden for that and, secondly, if it’s not my own garden, I’m not really that interested.
  • Experimenting with new recipes – a rather sparsely furnished kitchen does not lend itself to trying a lot of things.
  • Entertaining – sparsely furnished kitchen and not enough space put paid to that one.
  • Delving around things from one’s own past: old photos, favourite books and music, etc – they are not around to be delved into.

There are probably other things I could add to that list but they escape me at the moment.

Five thousand on the fifth of January 2006

At some point yesterday, on 5th January 2006, this blog, a week older than four months old, was subjected to its 5000th hit. 5000 is a rather auspicious number in the athletics world and in the world of the New Testament so it really should be celebrated.

Prince Charles and Camilla are visiting the Guildhall here in Northampton today.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I have a personality?

a split personality strolls along the beachI first came across the Advanced Global Personality Test over at Gay Banker's blog then saw it again on Bill's blog who had picked it up from Gay Banker. Online tests are always great fun, particularly those that profess to come up with meaningful insights. So, in the interests of information and incestuous back-scratching, I present you with the results from my test.

split personalityIn summary:
Stability results were high which suggests you are very relaxed, calm, secure, and optimistic..

Orderliness results were low which suggests you are overly flexible, improvised, and fun seeking at the expense too often of reliability, work ethic, and long term accomplishment.

Extraversion results were medium which suggests you are moderately talkative, outgoing, sociable and interacting.

And, finally, my 'trait snapshot':
messy, tough, disorganized, fearless, not rule conscious, likes the unknown, rarely worries, rash, attracted to the counter culture, rarely irritated, positive, resilient, abstract, not a perfectionist, risk taker, strange, weird, self reliant, leisurely, dangerous, anti-authority, trusting, optimistic, positive, thrill seeker, likes bizarre things, sarcastic

Some of the results seem pretty accurate even if not particularly flattering. Some of my readers know me 'in real life' so it would be interesting to hear their verdict on the results.

Size queens, carrots and cheese

carrot manDid the title catch your attention? Well, it wasn't deliberate but, if it did, I'm not complaining. This is a rather meaningless post based on a couple of observations of the past few days.

While making myself a rather strange but delicious concoction of courgettes, onions, and green peppers fried in olive oil with chillis and garlic, I got to thinking about carrots. There were carrots in the fridge and I had contemplated adding them to the concoction before realising that I was going to serve it on toast, sprinkled with cheese then heated under the grill.

Cheese and carrots just don't seem to go with each other.

I can't think of any recipes where the two are combined with each other. And, when you think about it, pumpkin and butternut squash are also never served with cheese. Is it because they are relatively sweet vegetables? It's not as if carrots aren't served in many savoury dishes such as stir-fries and stews but they just don't seem to be compatible with cheese.

Having dispensed with carrots, on to my next observation.

I'm very appreciative of the penis and realise that they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, variations that make them interesting and, often, objects of great beauty. Large, strong ones are rather lovely but so are average ones. Smaller ones can be a bit disappointing but they have their place - they are so easily gobbled! Huge ones are interesting but generally quite scary if they approach the size of toddler's arm. So, having said that, I would like you to know that I'm definitely NOT a size queen!

What's the point of all that, you may be asking?

Well, let me put it quite simply. Being fucked by a small cock is really rather unpleasant. I could say, 'What's the point?' But, it's more than that. They actually irritate and, sometimes, even hurt. Hurt more than a large cock can hurt if one isn't ready for it.

New Year's Resolution #1: Do not get fucked by small cocks!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Today is NOT the worst day of the year!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a good break and are not too depressed about returning to work today.

For those of you living in the UK (and other northern hemisphere countries), you may be surprised to know that today, the first working day of the new year, is NOT the worst day of the year. According to an article in the Daily Telegraph, the worst day of the year is yet to come:

An expert in winter disorders first identified January as the most stressful month. Now Cliff Arnall, a health psychologist at Cardiff University, has devised a formula to work out the worst day of the year and has come up with Jan 23 for 2006.

His calculation is based on the poorest weather, debts owed for seasonal spending, the time since Christmas, the period of time before you abandon New Year's resolutions, the dates when motivation levels seems to be at their lowest and the timing for the need for action to escape the blues.

So, how many of those New Year’s resolutions have you abandoned already? And how much weight have you put on?