Friday, 27 February 2015

Tell me why is it so?

It's almost the finale to another (rather odd) week, dear reader - a week of awards ceremonies, Gays supporting Miners, Polari and Ancient Egypt (more of the latter two LGBT History Month events in due course when I have a moment to myself, no doubt), and also a week when Google turned nasty with its outrageous "crack-down on adults".

The last bombshell has hit my favourite blog community hard. Anyone who has ever posted a nipple or a pair of bollocks is now threatened with "lock-down" (I wait and see if anything I've ever included will fail The Test), several have already made the switch to the unfamiliar world of Wordpress, and some are threatening to close down operations altogether in response to the announcement.

So it's with mixed feelings that I post this jolly number by the much-anticipated headliner for tomorrow's "Gala Parlour" end-of-History-Month Ball, Mr Jimmy Somerville (here with the Communards) - Never Can Say Goodbye. Thank Disco It's Friday!

It's that same old dizzy hang-up
I can't do with you or without
Tell me why is it so?
I don't wanna let you go!

Hey, I never can say goodbye boy, ooh baby
I never can say goodbye, no, no, no, oo

Hey, I never can say goodbye boy, ooh baby
I never can say goodbye, no no no, no no no


Thursday, 26 February 2015

I get up again, over and over

Poor Madge - I wonder whether GaGa was in the background in that dressing room?

I get up again, over and over
I get up again, over and over
I get up again, over and over
I get up again, over and over

Indeed she does.

Madonna falls off stage at The Brits.

According to all sources, her triumphal recovery and performance was still the best thing about the whole ceremony...

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Pits and Perverts

"We knew gay people existed – my dad worked with a miner who was gay – but nobody openly talked about it; it was considered very personal. There was an uncertainty about how these people would be different and whether we would have to modify our behaviour. Would they expect us to talk about things, ask them questions? And they were bloody vegetarians! This fazed us far more." (Siân James: miner's wife, now Labour MP)

To my eternal shame, I have yet to see the film Pride [although I hope to redress this heinous omission during the forthcoming London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in March]. Of course, I knew the story [I came out in 1984 in the middle of the strike, and my first Gay Pride was in 1985 - Divine-on-Thames, and all], and I was overjoyed that a mainstream film starring luminaries such as Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Dominic West, had been made and was met with such huge acclaim (not at the Oscars, inevitably) - nominations for Best Film at the London Film Critics Circle, the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes, winner at the British Independent Film Awards, and awards at the Cannes, Flanders and Leiden film festivals. By all accounts, it is joyful.

Of the real story - well, there was nothing particularly "celebratory" about the 1984-5 Miners' Strike. It proved massively divisive and caused bloodshed and mayhem up and down the country - mineworkers vs police, mineworker against mineworker in some cases. So, to find that of all the fundraising efforts from traditionally militant minority groups in Britain at the time, the one that raised the greatest amount of money for Welsh miners' families (whose union welfare fund had been frozen by the government during the strike) was a rag-tag bunch of gay men and lesbians from London, of all places, must have come as a shock to all concerned.

Three decades on from that momentous tale, and as part of Camden and Islington LGBT History Month 2015, we were ecstatic that one of the founder-members of that original "rag-tag" group, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM), Mike Jackson was to speak about his memories of that era (at Central Station pub near King's Cross - where he is a regular) last Sunday. I was very pleased to find that time has not eroded his passion...

As he said in an interview in Pink News: "We are so thrilled that [the film] has happened because there was a great danger that the story would be lost to history forever. I mean OK, yes, I did keep an archive of everything that we did but it’s a chicken and egg argument – it’s no good having a historical archive gallery in a museum if nobody actually knows about the history in the first place."

Along with the politics and how it felt to be part of a ground-breaking "meld" of what at the time probably could not have been two more diametrically opposite causes (gay rights and those of striking workers in Britain's dying industrial heartlands), he gave us an insight into some of the fun times they all had (that form a major part of the film's story, no doubt) - such as how on their very first visit to the village of Dulais near Swansea, the group's minibuses got lost in the valleys and didn't get there till one in the morning, long after the "reception committee" had packed up and gone to bed. Twenty-seven assorted gays and lesbians (in the film it is a dozen) slept on the floor in one of the miners' houses.

Then there were tales about the hugely well-attended "Pits and Perverts" gala concert with Jimmy Somerville, Mike's secret crush on the group's founder (who sadly died of AIDS-related pneumonia not long after the strike ended) Mark Ashton, his long-time friend and co-founder the eternally camp Jonathan Blake in his home-made faux-furs and flamboyant trousers raising money basically by leaping on people, and about many others who were sadly left out of the film (for logistical reasons - the cast would have been too huge). Of the film's variance from their real experiences, he was benign.

In real life, he did not ring to offer the Welsh miners LGSM's support as he does in the film – he wrote them a letter. "I thought - God, I'd love to be a fly on the wall when they open it." Nor was there much in the way of homophobia on the group's first meeting with the miners:

"It would be dishonest to say there was no dissent. Years later, we found out there had been a meeting following my letter explaining a bunch of queers wanted to support them. It had led to a very heated discussion. But the consensus was: we have been demonised by the press, maybe we should meet the gay people because they've also been demonised. Those who had a problem with it were told to stay away. So we never encountered any hostility."

"They started wearing gay badges on their lapels. They wanted money because they were on strike; we wanted recognition and acceptance – not that we went with any preconditions, we did not expect anything back."
However, the miners were the "headline act" who led the Gay Pride march in London the very next year alongside Mike and the LGSM crew - and, by all accounts, they will be doing so again at this year's march to mark the thirtieth anniversary...

This was a fascinating and intriguing evening, and made me just want to see the film even more. Here, however, is a real treat from the archives - the home-made mini-documentary made at the time of the strike and of LGSM - All Out! Dancing in Dulais:

Read more interviews with the real people behind the story of Pride in The Guardian

Oh, yes! And guess who's performing at the closing Gala Ball for this year's Camden and Islington LGBT History Month? Only the aforementioned Jimmy Somerville, that's who!

Can't wait...

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Who decides?

I am aghast at the latest censorship moves from the gnomes of Google:
"Starting March 23, 2015, you won't be able to publicly share images and video that are sexually explicit or show graphic nudity on Blogger.

Note: We’ll still allow nudity if the content offers a substantial public benefit, for example in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts.

Changes you’ll see to your existing blogs

If your existing blog doesn’t have any sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video on it, you won’t notice any changes.

If your existing blog does have sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video, your blog will be made private after March 23, 2015. No content will be deleted, but private content can only be seen by the owner or admins of the blog and the people who the owner has shared the blog with.

Settings you can update for existing blogs

If your blog was created before March 23, 2015, and contains content that violates our new policy, you have a few options for changing your blog before the new policy starts:

- Remove sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video from your blog
- Mark your blog as private

If you’d rather take your blog down altogether, you can export your blog as a .xml file or archive your blog's text and images using Google Takeout.

Effect on new blogs

For any blogs created after March 23, 2015, we may remove the blog or take other action if it includes content that is sexually explicit or shows graphic nudity as explained in our content policy."
So, for all you "grown-ups" out there, Blogger has overnight forbidden you to be "grown up".

I despair at what is happening in this world. As does Amanda Palmer - in her magnificent retort to the reprehensible Daily Mail coverage of her left breast:

Say no to censorship!

Monday, 23 February 2015

Be a movie star on your own

As the world's media goes loopy over the winners and losers of the "no surprises" Oscars that were announced last night [I didn't watch it so really cannot comment on the ceremony], I am in the mood for something really OTT and glitzy to wake me up as I head back to the definitively non-showbiz world of the office...

Who better to provide it, on this Tacky Music Monday, than the unstoppable Peter Allen and the Rockettes? Everything Old is New Again, indeed.

Have a good week, dear reader!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Hang together

Heavens. The lovely Louise Lopez, one of the two sisters who formed one of my favourite Soul bands of all time, Odyssey, is 82 years old today!

I feel ancient.

Never mind, we can rely on them to provide a bit of class on this depressingly wet and miserable Sunday. Here is one of Odyssey's lesser-known hits - Hang Together:

The world is full
Of hurrying people,
Tryin' to take us somewhere.

The world is full
Of worrying people
Say we ain't got a prayer.

Hold on to me
Don't let me go...
We gotta hang together.


Odyssey on Wikipedia

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Dish of the day

Boneless pork rectums.

Yum yum.