Archive for Celebrations

Twisted Vision

Chris K arranged a trip to the Greenwich Theatre to see Twisted Vision, directed by and starring his friend from South Africa, Gavin Wright.

Synopsis: Leonard Watkins is successful female impersonator and actor in London. A “diva” on stage but a lonely soul in the privacy of his home. All he wants is to love someone and be loved in return. Confronted one night backstage by Russell Lawrence, a straight stage hand and struggling actor, he is fascinated by this young man. Russell decides to take advantage of Leonard, by pretending to fall in love with him, hoping Leonard’s connections will help establish his acting career. Then Russell meets Natalie Harper. a young reporter, and his journey of self discovery begins with surprising consequences…

The script and the cast were excellent, but sadly the audience was tiny – the ten of us on comp tickets and about ten others. I think a little more publicity would have helped. The only other negative was that most of the South African cast were trying and largely failing to carry London accents.

Afterwards we had a late meal at a Mexican restaurant nearby, where Gavin joined us and the sexy actor playing Russell put in a tantalisingly brief appearance. Suddenly it was time to hot-foot it to the DLR for the last train (actually we had at least three in hand) and then the Northern Line back to Chris and Matthew’s.

On Saturday, after a leisurely breakfast, the four of us (Nicky was visiting from Dublin) headed by bus and District Line towards Kensington High Street, getting as far as Earl’s Court before engineering work jinxed us. On foot we had to ask a local for directions, following her most of the way before she outran us. Our target was Whole Foods Market in part of the former Barkers department store. It’s a wonderland of wholefood and organic produce, an American fusion of health food shop, deli and top-end supermarket, with prices to match. The cheese room and meat counter stood out. It’s not all good though: five yards away from a wall display about the advantages of local food, the fruit and veg department was full of such luxuries as fresh asparagus air-freighted in from Peru. We ate upstairs and discovered (by failing to do this) that the best plan is to buy your lunch from the deli area on the ground floor and take it upstairs, as there is more choice and probably better value than from the cafeteria serveries.

In the evening I went to the George Inn in Southwark(see also Graham’s blog) for John and Andrew’s post-Civil Partnership celebration. It was lovely to catch up with them and to bump into David & Heiko, Ian & Richard and Danny & Malcolm. The buffet was yummy too. Home on a strangely-timed train from King’s Cross which sat at Letchworth for five minutes waiting for its timetabled departure. A fun weekend!

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Leaving do at Selwyn

Lunchtime saw our group Christmas lunch at Selwyn which doubled as my leaving do. I’m feeling quite emotional writing about it now. My colleagues had been most generous and gave me:Goodies

  • a pair of lightweight gore-tex walking boots, insoles, and socks
  • two bottles of German Riesling Auslese (James says it’s not his speciality but seems to have found an excellent wine – I’ll report back!)
  • Hotel Chocolat chocolate-covered madeira-soaked prunes
  • and still a little something left over for my pre-trip shopping!
  • a lovely card full of signatures and well-wishes

Big thanks to everybody, but especially to James for organising the party, Caroline for her very successful subterfuge and gift arrangements, and Graham for conspiring in the subterfuge and for turning up at the party to my complete amazement. A great send-off!Balancing act

On my return to the office, waiting for me were presents from Vicki and the Teaching Office: a good-luck teddy and a chocolate message. Thank you!More goodies

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Kent Coupling

Cutting the cakeWe hired a car and spent the weekend with Dad and Dawn, so that we could drive them to my uncle’s house in Kent for a lunch to celebrate the Civil Partnership of my cousin Simon and his now-husband Peter. They had done the official deed the day before, with close family, and now seventy of us gathered in a lovely marquee for lunch. The food and company were great but the weather was awful and at one stage we thought the marquee was going to get blown away! A brave few got soaked on the bouncy castle. I offered to bounce naked but strangely no-one seemed keen! There are more pictures in my gallery.
On Sunday we went for a short walk with Dad in Pyrford village, while Dawn cooked a super lamb lunch for us. Fully fed we tackled the road home, Graham coping wonderfully with torrential rain on the M25 and flooding on the A414.

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Yesterday morning we went into town to collect my 40th birthday present from Graham. It’s a limited edition print of the Mathematical Bridge at Queens’ by Alison Neville.

The style, treatment of the subject and the colouring are super, and it’s a substantial size which looks great in pride of place in our living room.

Graham, thank you very much! I’m a very lucky and very happy boy.

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Xmas antics

I managed to do all of my Christmas shopping on Wednesday evening, by being very focussed and limiting myself to a couple of shops. The only downside was that my basket in Robert Sayle added up to a frightening amount. It cost no more than it would have done if I’d shopped here and there, but in one transaction…

The rest of the night was spent wrapping everything up and building boxes to send north. I survived only by slowly sipping a lovely half bottle of 1976 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese made by Weingut Albert Gessinger. A gorgeous drop of honeyed riesling, almost 30 years old, from that very hot summer.

1976. I was ten. An amazingly hot summer in the Uk and in Holland. We had great times at the beach in Scheveningen and at an inland lake whose exact location and name escapes me. Hosepipe bans galore in England but I don’t remember restrictions in Leidschendam.

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Thursday: our 15th anniversary. It simply doesn’t seem like 15 years since I saw Graham across the tables and benches at the Grad Pad, and then met him a couple of days later at Oliver’s mulled wine party. It barely seems like five years, but then again we have done so many things together. Here’s to the next fifteen.

At work it was the Support Staff Christmas party take two. I left at 6.30pm before the dancing really got started. Graham and I went to the Backstreet Bistro for our anniversary dinner: I had tuna tartar with a gorgeous ginger marinade; venison on braised leaks with a lovely fruity jus and dauphinoise potatoes; and a chocolate mousse with chestnuts. We were surrounded by tables of Christmas partys, all women groups, but still had a lovely evening. I drank too much, though, and felt very sleepy on Friday as a result.

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Spanish mulled wine…

…well actually I mulled Italian wine, for my mates from Spanish classes past. Helen arrived first, bang on time and determined not to be on Venezuelan time. Tiina, Adrian, Youcef and Maria turned up at roughly the same time, closely followed by Jamie. Finally, an hour or so later, Carolin arrived just as we were giving up hope. At about 9.30 we all headed out to Bar B for more drinkies. I just had the one glass of wine before leaving them to it. A lovely evening, and Graham coped very well with meeting everyone and then being abandoned en masse. I am going to try to go to Helen’s Spanish group in the New Year (Adrian, Tiina and Youcef).

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Out of sight

Another late night so another late start and a leisurely final Big Dutch Breakfast. We packed our bags and headed over to De Appel to see an excellent exhibition of installation and video art by contemporary Chinese artists: Out Of Sight. It’s worth exploring the web site, or visiting if you get the chance.

Our journey home was smooth as far as Stansted, where we just missed one of the rail replacement buses and had to wait 70 minutes for the next one.

During our stay I read The Warlock In Spite Of Himself by Christopher Stasheff. Very trashy but very entertaining fantasy science fiction from 1969.

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Boat Hopping

We got up scandalously late and had a super breakfast on the boat, followed by a leisurely bath. We wandered over the Amstel to Omar & Péter’s houseboat down the north side of Theater Carré for drinks and nibbles. A lovely, permanent, purpose-built houseboat fitted out in a very smart modern style. Péter and Omar seemed very happy and relaxed.

On to our own boat for a pre-dinner cup of tea with Jan, Chris and Matthew, and then Tempo Doeloe for a superb rijstafel followed by a lovely dessert plate of exotic fruits, sorbets and ice cream. The very hot rendang was amazing: my face turned red in a cartoon fashion and I tried to keep a straight face, but the post-shock flavour and sensation were amazing.

Final boat of the day was Chris and Matthew’s for more drinks and nibbles with the French girls and then the Portuguese-German contingent, and so another late night / early morning.

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We started late with a lovely breakfast from the supplies provided, and then took the tram round to De Joordan for a quick peek in the Stedelijk Museum Bureau. The video installation – The Black Room
by Melvin Moti – was fascinating but not sufficiently to keep us for more than fifteen minutes, so we carried on wandering the pretty streets, heading back towards the Dam Plein. Lunch was a light but very welcome bite at
Café van Daele.

Popping into a couple of gay bookshops on the way back, we decided that Vrolijk is much the better stocked although Intermale has a good selection of secondhand English titles.

Then only just time for a short rest before getting dressed up for the main event. First stop Matthew and Chris’s huge houseboat, just north of the zoo, for a glass of wine. They were sharing theirs with two guests from Hungary. We made aquaintances and then headed over to the Uilenberger Synagogue for the ceremony.

Omar and Péter looked fabulous in traditional Hungarian jackets. The celebrant from the Amsterdam registry office was a very vivacious woman, and although the ceremony was in Dutch, we picked up on her positive and very supportive delivery. Documents signed, the formalities gave way to drinks and canapés and a mini-line-up to meet and greet the parents. Sadly my Hungarian is completely non-existent.

The wedding caravan moved on to its second destination of the night, the private room at the ultra-stylish Brasserie Harkema, suspened behind huge plate glass windows above the main dining room. The food was moderately good but the occasion was fantastic.

Our final destination, until the early hours, was the party at the Badhuistheater, complete with guest appearance from a very convincing (male) Tina Turner. We didn’t manage to get Matthew on the dance floor, though…

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