Sunday 30 June 2019

Coming out of my cage and I've been doing just fine

Another lovely day spent in the garden, and we are optimistic that it might stay fine for the rest of the week; right up until Pride on Saturday...

I'm in a Sunday frame of mind at the moment, however - so who better than our favourite purveyors of "that kind of mood", the faboo Postmodern Jukebox, to provide today's aural pleasures?

First up, an exercise in how to make an already camp song into a camp spectacle beyond belief:

...and, in honour of the Killers' headline set at Glastonbury last night (which featured a guest appearance by the Pet Shop Boys!):

Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox

Saturday 29 June 2019

How do you like your grind?

Our fantabulosa Campanula medium ("Canterbury Bells") - a magnet for bees. And for us, too.

We're having a mini-heatwave today; the hottest day of the year so far - almost a record-breaker, too (we registered 32C in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers) - and all around our neighbourhood, the boys' clothes just fall off! I like weather that does that...

...and, right on cue, Fischerspooner!

Hot, indeed.

The countdown to London's Gay Pride next Saturday starts here, folks!

Friday 28 June 2019

A toast to freedom

As we hurtle towards the close of another week, it's worth taking a moment to note that fifty years ago today across the pond in Noo Yawk, a bit of a revolution happened - the Stonewall riots. Over here, of course - true to form - we had already achieved the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in a polite, dignified and legislative manner (delivered by men in suits, giving earnest speeches about "tolerance" to committees of enquiry and in the House of Commons). Over there, they were swinging handbags and belting corrupt cops with stillies. Yet there was little or no news coverage about it until some years later...
Today, it seems that apart from the ever-watchful, ever-critical, ever radical Peter Tatchell - whose "state of the gay nation address" published in today's Guardian is as insightful as ever - the media coverage is just as muted.

We are a week away from the commercial travesty that is today's apolitical, anodyne Pride London "carnival parade", from which ordinary members of the LGBT community are excluded except by application for a ticket. Yet across the world there are still repressive and corrupt regimes, there are still earnest men in suits procrastinating over whether to give us "tolerance", and there are still radical faeries out there throwing their handbags (virtual or otherwise) at the bigots and the bully boys.

It is to them and all who have fought so hard for our rights over the years we should raise a toast - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have good one, peeps!

Thursday 27 June 2019

Avoid skinny jeans and hotpants

My idea of Hell
The middle-aged guide to Glastonbury
Headed to Glastonbury with a bad back and a heavy heart? Worried you’ll be raving about how great Stormzy is only to be politely told you’re watching Sean Paul? Follow our guide:

Take creature comforts

Take a tip from The Walking Dead and hole up in a camper van. You’ll earn the contempt of younger festival goers but unlike them won’t be half-dead from exhaustion and will actually enjoy some of the music you’ve paid £250 for.

Resist the temptation to be a festival veteran

Try not to reminisce about Jesus Jones’ blistering 1990 set unless you want to appear incredibly ancient, like an old-time gold prospector or Gandalf.

Pretend to like the latest musical darlings

Impress the young by familiarising yourself with acts like Sunflower Bean and Headie One, even if you struggle to see what the point is. If by coincidence you find yourself watching them, just conceal some wireless headphones under a beanie hat and listen to golden oldies from yesteryear by The Prodigy.

Dress practically

Avoid skinny jeans and hotpants if you’ve developed a bit of middle-aged chunkiness. You’ll look an idiot and find it impossible to get your bank card out of your pocket to buy overpriced falafels and hippy hats.

Schedule naps

Keep nipping back to the tent or camper van to rest your old bones. You can easily slip away by saying you’re seeing a world music act no sane person would be interested in, e.g. a Macedonian bongo orchestra.

Don’t worry about being old

The truth is that pop’s middle-aged now. Expect a surprise appearance by a haggard-looking Damon Albarn, or finding yourself in a queue to buy a decent Riesling with Radio 2 hottie Jo Wiley, aged 53.
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Right on cue, here's one of the festival's bright young rising stars from 2007...

Glastonbury Festival 2019 official website

Wednesday 26 June 2019

See, I couldn't look no better

Timeslip moment again...

E.T. hasn't just "phoned home"; he's dumped us thirty-seven years ago in the midst of 1982 - the year of the Falklands War, Buckingham Palace burglar Michael Fagan, Greenham Common, Next clothing stores, Blade Runner, Lech Wałęsa, the IRA Hyde Park and Regent's Park bombings, The Wrath of Khan, the SDP, Yuri Andropov, war in Lebanon, Kielder Water, Thriller, the Thames Barrier, the Nuclear Disarmament Rally in New York, Romans in Britain, China becoming the first nation to have a population of more than 1 billion, Gandhi, the Eurovision Song Contest in Harrogate (won by Nicole A Little Peace), Charles Haughey, the final TV appearance of ABBA, the Latin-American debt crisis, Poltergeist, Helmut Kohl, Tron, decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland, The Dark Crystal, and the raising of the Mary Rose; the year Eddie Redmayne, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Haçienda nightclub in Manchester, Anne Hathaway, St David's Hall in Cardiff, Channel 4, Billie Piper, Nicki Minaj, Adobe Systems, Dan Stevens, Matt Smith, the CD, the Barbican Centre, Central Television, LeAnn Rimes, the Ford Sierra, Gavin Henson and Ciabatta bread were all born; and Kenneth More, Henry Fonda, Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, Celia Johnson, Terrence Higgins (in whose name the AIDS trust was formed), Gilles Villeneuve, Arthur Lowe, Stanley Holloway, Marty Feldman, John Belushi, Laker Airways, Leonid Brezhnev, Harry H. Corbett, Arthur Askey, Patrick Cowley and Jacques Tati died.

In the news in June 1982 - the birth of Charles and Diana's first child Prince William caused a media frenzy, the hanging of "God's Banker" Roberto Calvi under Blackfriars Bridge led to a million conspiracy theories, Ronald Reagan's visit to the UK saw him address both Houses of Parliament, and the twenty pence coin went into circulation; in the ascendant: King Fahd became King of Saudi Arabia, and E.T. became the biggest box-office hit of the 80s; but James Honeyman-Scott of the Pretenders was found dead at the age of just 25. In our cinemas: Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, Britannia Hospital and Porky's. On telly: Kids from Fame, Dynasty and Call My Bluff.

And in our charts this week in June '82? Erstwhile founder member of The Damned Captain Sensible was at Number 1 with Happy Talk, and quite possibly the cheesiest song in living memory I've Never Been To Me by Charlene held second place. Also present and correct were Odyssey, The Steve Miller Band, Imagination, Miss Ross, Duran Duran, Adam Ant, Midge Ure and - ahem - The Beatles (with their "Beatles Movie Medley" [Nope, me neither]). But also knocking around the upper echelons was this classic...

Take a look at me
See, I couldn't look no better
Girl, I'm at my peak
And that's a fact, that's a fact

Take a part of me
You know it couldn't feel no better
Take it all with ease
Before you break your back
Or get a heart attack

I'm a wonderful thing, baby
Such a, such a
I'm a wonderful thing, baby
Such a, such a


Facts about "Kid Creole":
  • He was born Thomas August Darnell Browder, and dropped his first and last name when he began his musical career.
  • Mr Darnell co-founded Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, who had their biggest hit with Cherchez La Femme in the long, hot summer of '76.
  • He also wrote one our favourite Disco choons here at Dolores Delargo Towers, There But For The Grace Of God Go I for his funk group Machine.
  • With his long-term collaborator Coati Mundi (Andy Hernandez) and the Coconuts, the newly-christened Kid Creole had a string of mega-hits here in the UK (but barely a whimper back in the US of A).

Tuesday 25 June 2019

I won't bore you with the details, baby

Today would have been the 56th birthday of Mr Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, better known, of course, as George Michael. All hail!

With the man himself at the forefront of our minds, and with Gay Pride less than two weeks away, let's have a double-bill of his more double entendre [=gay] songs, by way of a little tribute. And why not?

It all seems like yesterday. We still miss him.

Monday 24 June 2019

What's the Italian for "spandex"?

Sigh. Monday again.

Never mind, dear reader. We always have the bizarre world of prime-time Italian telly to take our minds off the drudgery of another week in the office.

On this Tacky Music Monday, here's the indisputable Queen of that genre to perk us up - Miss Heather Parisi!

Such talent.

Have a good week, peeps.

Sunday 23 June 2019

Why won't you release me?

An orchid behind our wheelie bins?! A beautiful Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Common Spotted Orchid) has decided it's the perfect place to grow.

We basked in sunshine yesterday here at Dolores Delargo Towers, and this gave us a good opportunity to move pots around - moving those that have gone over out of the way, and giving prominence to the flowers that will take us through "high summer" - before our guests (Hils and Crog) arrived for a visit/"Pride outfits dress rehearsal". Some booze may well have been drunk. I'm having a bit of a lazy Sunday today...

Right on cue, we discover that the lovely (and largely disappeared from the music scene) Duffy celebrates her 35th birthday today - so any excuse to revisit an old favourite:

Aimee Anne Duffy (born 23rd June 1984)

Saturday 22 June 2019

Totty of the Day

We may have missed his birthday, but I think Richard Madden knows how we can make it up to him...

Friday 21 June 2019


Mid-bloody-summer?!! The nights start getting longer as of tomorrow, and it doesn't even feel like summer has actually started yet.

However, the forecast is improving - and (fingers crossed) Sunday should bring us a spell of warm and settled weather, without this blasted chill wind we've been getting for weeks.

So, let's get ourselves in the mood to celebrate the prospect of comfortably sitting outside with a glass or several of something alcoholic, in the company of this irresistible choon from the "Decade of Dance", the '90s - and Thank Disco Old-Skool It's Friday!

I'm officially "mad for it".

Have a great weekend, peeps!

Thursday 20 June 2019

Office wellness

Everyone at an office meeting has their arms folded and is refusing to meet anyone else’s eye, it has emerged.

The meeting, an open forum about "office wellness", was attended exclusively by people who did not want to be there, refused to engage and were waiting for it to be over.

Communications manager Martin Bishop said: “I can’t claim to be a body language expert, but it seemed negative.

“Young and old, man and woman, every ethnicity, we all had folded arms and tight lips as the woman from HR encouraged us to share any concerns we might have which would be later held against us.

“Some of us were pretending to be resolute, others to be keen to get back to work, Shaun hadn’t ironed his shirt and Jenny said she was genuinely freezing, but either way it was a fortress of good, honest, British stonewalling. Well done everyone.”

Boss Joanna Kramer said: “Every meeting would be like that, if they didn’t have to reach for biscuits.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance to the radio

All the hoo-ha in the "hip" media this week about the 40th anniversary of Unknown Pleasures, the debut album by Joy Division released this week in 1979, has paid dividends, it seems - for the first time since its release, it looks like the album is headed for the Top Ten in the UK.

This news just makes me wonder... if everybody's coming out of the woodwork to tell the press about how "brilliant", "seminal", "influential", [insert hyperbole here] it was, why did nobody buy a copy first time around?! On its release, it failed to chart in the UK and on its re-release after the death of lead singer Ian Curtis in August 1980 only peaked at the not-very-impressive Number 71 slot. Its successor LP Closer [a copy of which is in my vinyl collection at Dolores Delargo Towers] did much better...

Whatever, it gives me a perfect excuse (if any were needed) to play two of my favourite Joy Division tracks:

Oh, teenage angst - I remember it well. Where did those decades go? And where's my long black trench-coat?!

Unknown Pleasures on Wikipedia

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Cocktails and laughter, but what comes after?

"The craving to be famous is like an insidious disease, no matter how well known you become it's never enough, it never satisfies."

"I've never let myself dwell on what other people think of me. You can never change their minds so why waste time trying?"

"These days people seem to want to show every little thing about themselves, where is the fun in that? There is nothing wrong with a little mystery, is there?"

"Death is the price you paid for being born."

And so, farewell, then Miss Gloria Vanderbilt, heiress, socialite, model, painter, author and flogger of expensive jeans to the fashionistas of '70s America...

There is only one song I can play, really:

Poor little rich girl
You're a bewitched girl
Better take care
Laughing at danger
Virtue a stranger
Better beware!
The life you lead sets all your nerves a-jangle
You love affairs are in a hopeless tangle
Though you're a child, dear
Your life's a wild typhoon

In lives of leisure
The craze for pleasure
Steadily grows;
Cocktails and laughter
But what comes after?
Nobody knows!
You're weaving love into a mad jazz pattern
Ruled by Pantaloon
Poor little rich girl
Don't drop a stitch too soon

Facts about Gloria Vanderbilt:
  • Young Gloria’s paternal aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney successfully sued for custody of “the poor little rich girl” in 1934, in a trial that exposed her mother's lavish lifestyle and indiscretions, and sparked a "tabloid frenzy".
  • She became a top fashion model at the age of fifteen.
  • Truman Capote is said to have based the character of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s on her.
  • She married four times - to Howard Hughes' press agent Pasquale di Cicco, conductor Leopold Stokowski, director Sidney Lumet, and to Wyatt Cooper (father of US television "face" and gay rights advocate Anderson Cooper).
  • Her Amanda jeans ("they really hug your derrière”) were an overnight success, and her company was valued at over $100 million at it height; she saw relatively little of the money, however - she flogged the company and her name as a brand, and ended up taking a succession of "advisors" who had fleeced her during that boom time to court.
RIP, Gloria Laura Vanderbilt (20th February 1924 – 17th June 2019)

Monday 17 June 2019

Without shirt, without trousers

Oh, pook.

The sodding alarm clock has gone off again! It's grey out there again. I haven't won the Lottery - again.

As I reach for the coffee machine, with bleary eyes and furry tongue, only one thing can save us...

...a "new" wannabee-diva discovery, of course! So put your hands together, laydeez'n'genlmen, for Miss Rika Zaraï...

Oo-er, missus...

Have a good week, dear reader.

Sunday 16 June 2019

Nothing like a good spanky

A casualty of the recent storms, this branch of beautiful Campanula medium ("Canterbury Bells") has thrived in a vase for over a week; the rest of the five-foot plant is mostly still in bud.

Still grey. Still grizzly. June's weather is proving to be a right bitch at the moment!

Never mind, eh? If we can't spend the day pottering in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers, we have the joys of BBC Radio 2 to keep our spirits up. Being Sunday, their usual "playlist" of dull young things like Jess Glynne, Lewis Capaldi, Jack Savoretti and so on gives way to showtunes, nostalgia and mellowness - and here's something that couldn't get more mellow if it tried...

Ah. Sunday.

Saturday 15 June 2019

A word from our sponsors...

Weekend. Sorted.

Friday 14 June 2019

I just can't describe it, oh no no

Right! Had enough of this rain now. Where is that "summer" we've been expecting?

At least it's the cusp of the weekend, we have party celebrations to plan - and who better to lead them than the loveliest person we know with a penis in their name, Miss CeCe Peniston?

With a mash-up with the Human League, and a remix by Parralox, get yer dancing boots on and - Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a good one.

Thursday 13 June 2019

Wednesday 12 June 2019

A model life

Our Lilium martagon "Arabian Night" here at Dolores Delargo Towers has shrugged off the foul weather so far.

Oh, dear. Summer is definitely not planning to show its face any time soon...

Having braved the torrential downpours and general gloom that today has thrown at us, I think we are overdue a little wallow in the lives of impossibly glamorous people in exotic places, don't you? Admittedly, on this occasion, the "exotic place" is actually Hampstead, but we can dream...

It's Soft Tempo Lounge time again:


[Music: When a Love Affair Is Through by Lydia MacDonald and Piero Piccioni; Film: Les Bicyclettes de Belsize (1968)]

Tuesday 11 June 2019

Dystopian matriarchy, lust, society balls, Mother Courage and an Oscar-winning hunk

It was with great - nay, salivating - anticipation that John-John, Paul and I braved the foul storms and rain on Monday night and headed to the Southbank Centre for a very special outing for "London's peerless gay literary salon" Polari. For we knew our headliner was none other the Oscar-winning [for Milk] Dustin Lance Black - screenwriter, director, film and television producer, LGBT rights activist, and husband to Tom Daley!

There was no sign of the gorgeous Tom on the evening, more's the pity, but it was an utterly faboo evening, nonetheless!

Opening proceedings as ever - to a packed house of familiar faces (including the lovely John McCullough, Bryanne - with broken leg and a hilarious scooter - and Simon, VG Lee and more), our host Paul Burston proudly listed the many and varied venues that Polari had visited, and will visit, up and down the country as part of the continuing Polari Tour - not least the superb birthday celebration for Heaven nightclub we went to last month. This month's event was also the occasion to announce the Polari Book Prize; but first, our opening reader, Angela Chadwick.

She read for us an extract from her debut novel XX, described by one reviewer perfectly thus:
Rosie wants a child. Her partner Jules isn’t sure. But a new trial offers the lesbian couple a chance to have a baby which uses DNA from both their eggs, rather than forcing them to rely on a sperm donor to become parents.

Jules is excited about becoming part of the ground-breaking experiment and feels more comfortable about bringing up a child who is biologically her daughter.

But they are not prepared for the furious backlash from the trial’s critics, or the intense Press interest which follows their every move. Former journalist Angela Chadwick’s interesting and thought-provoking first novel explores the ethics of creating babies with two biological mothers whose X chromosomes can only create daughters.

[The] measured writing means the reader can consider the arguments from both sides, rather than being told what to think and there are plenty of unexpected twists to keep the plot moving.
It was very impressive indeed.

Next up, Georgia native Mr Collin Kelley is a familiar - if somewhat in frequent - reader at Polari. He read a series of his poems about lust, longing and his affinity with England, to the delight of the audience.

More Mr Kelley here and here.

Completing our triptych was another Transatlantic Anglophile, Ms Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott, whose reading took us away from the concerns of the modern world into a more glittering domain - that of the waspish author Truman Capote and his circle of society acolytes, to whose vanity he appealed with his words and his society events such as the legendary Black and White Ball. More specifically, her novel Swan Song [read an excellent review courtesy of ArtsDesk] deals with the apocalyptic fallout in the upper echelons of New York society when Truman decided to "bite the hand that fed him" by publishing a thinly-veiled fictional expose of the foibles and scandals behind the gilded lives of the ladies he called "his Swans".

I only wish there were a YouTube video out there of Ms Greenberg-Jephcott reading from her book - as she perfectly imitated the already drug-addled Capote's nasal whiny drawl and prissiness, trying desperately to hide and protect the valuable manuscript of the story that would lead to his downfall... I thoroughly enjoyed it! [Must try and get the audiobook.]

Next, Polari stalwart and national treasure (and unfortunately not-made-a-Dame-again) VG (Val) Lee and bestselling award winning author Kiki Archer presented the longlists for not one, but two book prizes - for writers whose work explores the LGBTQ+ experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction - on offer at the salon this year!

First, the contenders for The Polari First Book Prize 2019:

The House on Half Moon Street – Alex Reeve (Raven)
XX – Angela Chadwick (Dialogue Books)
The Unexpected Love Objects of Dunya Noor – Rana Haddad (Hoopoe)
Soho – Richard Scott (Faber & Faber)
Attend – West Camel (Orenda Books)
Disbanded Kingdom – Polis Loizou (Cloud Lodge)
Not Just A Tomboy – Caspar J Baldwin (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)
Next Lesson – Chris Woodley
Queer Sex – Juno Roche (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)
Out of the Woods – Luke Turner (Orion)
Visceral – RJ Arkhipov (Zuleika)
Yes You Are Trans Enough – Mia Violet (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)

...and the full longlist for the brand new Polari Prize (for established authors) 2019:

Drapetomania – John R Gordon (Team Angelica)
The Other Woman – Sophia Blackwell (Burning Eye)
Take Nothing With You – Patrick Gale (Headline)
The Lion Tamer Who Lost – Louise Beech (Orenda Books)
A Simple Scale – David Llewellyn (Seren)
Making Oscar Wilde – Michéle Mendelsshon (Oxford University Press)
Louis & Louise – Julie Cohen (Orion)
Playtime – Andrew McMillan (Penguin)
Prodigal – Charles Lambert (Gallic)
The Bumblebee Flies Anyway – Kate Bradbury (Bloomsbury)
Ghost Wall – Sarah Moss (Granta)
The AQI – David Tait (Smith / Doorstop)

After a break for a fag, dodging the downpours outside the Royal Festival Hall, and a top-up, it was time for the showpiece of the evening - as Mr Dustin Lance Black took to the stage.

Such an instantly engaging and charismatic man (and swooningly handsome to boot), he soon had the audience in turn laughing and crying as he read the moving intro to his memoir Mama's Boy:
A hot, gauzy morning in the late summer of 1987. That was the first time I ever laid eyes on the streets of Los Angeles. I was thirteen years old but looked ten at best - an agonizingly shy Texas boy with eyes like water, hair like the sun, and a tanker truck’s worth of secrets. I was jammed in the backseat of my mom’s mas­sive yellow Malibu Classic between my little brother, Todd, and our stinking cat, Airborne. My mom said we were “on the move.” Others would have called it “on the run.”

Days earlier, my family had packed up what little we had of value and vanished without notice from our lives in the Lone Star State - leaving behind my middle school in San Antonio and our Mormon church in the Randolph Ward, heading west. My mom was behind the wheel, her hairspray-stiffened curls resting on worried shoulders as she worked the hand controls to speed up and slow down her beast of a car: a colossal artefact from a former life that now had to be wrested into submission by a woman who walked on crutches, her legs in braces, her spine fused and held together with metal bars hid­den just beneath the scars that ran the length of her body...

...we’d been taught our entire lives that places like Los Angeles were filled with folks who’d traded their souls and sal­vation for fame, booze, drugs, cash, cars, hetero sex, group sex, and dirty, filthy faggot sex. Los Angeles was the embodiment of an unfa­miliar, exotic America that we’d been warned to avoid: liberal, often coastal, a place for sinners and moral relativists. For our ragtag family on the run, passage through this city was a test of spiritual strength. So we plugged our noses in back, Marcus did his best to navigate up front, and my tiny runaway mom rotated the hand control that turned the gear that pressed down on the gas pedal that she hoped might propel us to safety...

...I described Los Angeles as the “second gayest city in the world.” It wasn’t a compliment. I was already fairly certain that San Francisco was in first position thanks to AIDS hitting the national news when Old Hollywood heartthrob Rock Hudson fell out of his closet and into his grave. Since then, even the news shows in Texas had started offering up images of emaciated gay men, most in San Francisco, but others in New York and Los Angeles, dying terrible deaths thanks to their “lifestyle choices.” So yes, it seemed that San Francisco was the closest to hellfire, but I was fairly certain Los Angeles wasn’t far behind. I suppose I felt it neces­sary to let someone in Texas know I’d survived our journey through this foreign land.

But as we reached the top of a mountain, something in my God-fearing heart stirred, and I looked back toward the city. It was calling to me. If I’m being honest, it had started calling well before we set out on this adventure. If Los Angeles was dangerous, I was curious. How true were the stories I’d heard? Did the people there really do so many strange things to their bodies, their minds, and one another? Did they really make all of those movies and TV shows I’d fallen in love with on the rare occasions we were allowed to watch them? And the most dangerous question of all: Did the nation’s current teen heartthrob, Ricky Schroder, with his golden hair and ocean-blue eyes, actually live somewhere down in all that chaos?

That question, and all of its invasive roots and sticky webs, lin­gered longest in my mind as I watched the city glimmer and shine in the morning sun until it slowly disappeared behind a veil of blue-white smog.

Thirty years have passed since that drive, and for more than two and a half decades of that time I’ve called this City of Angels my home, with all of its sunshine, celebrities, workers, artists, headaches, egos, booze, dreams, lies, cigarette butts, body parts, hot tubs, invitations, hangovers, trophies, and yes, reliably progressive values. And like most Angelenos, I’ve spent much of that time in my car getting from place to place, tucked inside my bubble. Isolated. And in a hurry.

So whenever I heard a siren, I did what most Angelenos do: look forward, left, right, check my rearview mirror, and keep on driving. As an Angeleno, the last thing you want to do is tap the brake. The clock is ticking. We have places to be, coffees to order, deals to make, and great things to accomplish by lunchtime.

But something happened a few years back to strip me of that habit. I was driving home down Hollywood Boulevard when my mom called. I hit the icon on my dash to answer. She sounded gloomy and called herself a “dinosaur” twice. I’d rarely heard her in such a state. I was worried. So I added a three-day layover via Dulles Airport in Virginia to my next love-fuelled flight to London to see the Brit I was fast falling head over heels for. It was a little surprise visit to lift my mom’s spirits, and a big birthday present to myself...

...She wasn’t feeling well, but that was nothing new. For a variety of reasons, big and small, she’d long been forced to use her not incon­siderable strength to fight off this illness or that. We’d done this ailment dance many times. We simply took advantage of her sleep­less nights to share stories, watch NCIS, check out the Home Shop­ping Network’s jewelry specials and buy a few pairs of earrings she couldn’t afford on a military retirement check, sneak far too many Oreo cookies, and witness a sunrise. Her spirits were lifted by the company. So were mine.

Just before I left, my stepdad arrived home from work to take her to the doctor for a checkup, and get her some antibiotics for what she felt sure was a bladder infection. Love hungry and London bound, I ordered a cab to the airport.

It was a markedly quiet ride. I don’t remember music ever even being turned on. But then my cell phone rang. The caller ID said “Mom.” Nothing unusual. This was her regular call to say she missed me already, and I would say the same, because it was true. Instead, when I said hello, my stepdad’s trembling voice rang in my ears: “Your mother collapsed. In the garage. Her heart stopped. The med­ics got here. They did CPR and revived her, but she isn’t conscious. It’s bad, Lance. It’s really bad.”

I couldn’t process it. This was the same brave mom who had suc­cessfully slayed the City of Angels years earlier with three little boys and no use of her legs. It was impossible to imagine her having to be revived by anyone. My mom was the one who kept everyone else safe and strong. Her tough, stubborn heart didn’t need a stranger’s help to keep going.

Choking out the words, I told the cabdriver what I’d just heard, and bless his heart, he ploughed right over the grassy centre median and turned back the way we’d come. Soon we heard the siren. Then we saw an ambulance take a left turn off of my mom’s road, rac­ing away from us toward the local Manassas hospital. That’s when I noticed that, like they did in Los Angeles, the drivers in this small, polite, Southern town mostly didn’t bother to pull over for ambulances either. Maybe a brief pause to let it pass, then a chase to make up their lost time in its wake. As we raced to catch up, I grew more and more distressed by this surprising similarity. My mom, my best friend, my rock was inside of that ambulance fighting for her life, and even here in her treasured South, no one seemed to give a damn. Our terror was their inconvenience...

...I started to shake. Until then, I hadn’t considered that she might die. Everything I’d ever built was thanks to that stubborn heart of hers, and there it was, racing away from me in the back of an ambu­lance. Suddenly, I didn’t know if I’d ever again feel the warmth of her hand, know the might of her will, or stand atop the foundation she’d built for our family with the strength of her steel-clad spine... Although my mom and I had often disagreed politically and per­sonally, she’d led our family by example, instilling in us a can-do atti­tude that often defied reason—an optimism many would call foolish, ignorant, and naïve, but an optimism that occasionally shocked our neighbours and our world with its brazen veracity. She was my reason...

...So I let the cabdriver know that I’d pay for any ticket he got, but that if he didn’t push his pedal to the floor, he was asking for a big old can of whoop-ass from yours truly. He didn’t need much convincing. My red eyes had already made the stakes abundantly clear. My mom had to live. Because deep in my gut, I feared a storm was coming. Beyond the headlines of the day, I could just make out the sparks of division catching fire in the disparate places we called home, and I knew that my mom and I had much more to discover and build if we were going to help our neighbours and family weather the terrible schisms this storm would bring.

So I held my zen-like cabdriver’s gaze until he looked back out toward the ambulance that was now racing away from us, and he hit the gas.

It must have been somewhat difficult for all concerned (as I commented to Mr Black later) to progress from such an emotional wrench to a full "in-conversation" session with Paul Burston, but, after gathering themselves, it was a rewarding session - covering topics ranging from fame, families (both Lance's childhood and his current family with Tom and little Robbie) to campaigning for LGBT equality, the strains of being "role models", current politics and being vigilant about protecting our rights in the future, to pride, prejudice, and all that. It was a joy.

[Watch his interview on Lorraine Kelly Show for more]

It also happened to be, as Paul revealed, the adorable one's birthday - and in a genuine moment of camaraderie, the whole room took part in a heartfelt chorus of Happy Birthday To You:

After the customary curtain-call, it was time to join the queue to get our copies of Mr Black's book signed. True to form, he seemed unfazed by the attention, and had the patience to speak to everyone on a personal and genuine level, and to have his photo taken with all of us in turn. I think after this, we're all a little bit in love with Dustin Lance Black.

Another triumphal evening! We love Polari.

Our next outing will be on 26th July - and our host-with-the-most Paul Burston will lead the pack, reading from his own new novel The Closer I Get. His "supporting cast" will include the lovely Alex Marwood, Bethan Roberts, Orlando Ortega-Medina and Kate Davies. Can't wait.

PS Get well soon, Paulo!

Monday 10 June 2019

The Mecca of the trade

Grrrr. Monday again? So soon?

Hey ho - at least we have tonight's Polari to look forward to - our headliner is none other than "Mr Tom Daley" Dustin Lance Black, so I am foaming at the gash to see if his adoring hubby will be in attendance...

Meanwhile, today would have been the eternal Miss Judy Garland's birthday (and we're very close indeed to the 50th anniversary of her untimely death), so on this Tacky Music Monday, what better way to get ourselves woken and out of the door than a feast of showbiz pizazz from the lady herself?

Have a good week, peeps.

Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm, 10th June 1922 – 22nd June 1969)

Sunday 9 June 2019

Ooh, wee!

At last, it seems the hurricane-force winds, black clouds and generally chilly feel to the air has subsided, and the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers have a chance to bask in a bit of sunshine - of the sort one should expect in June!

So, how about a jolly little choon by way of a celebration? For today, sharing a birthday with such unlikely bedfellows as Peter the Great, Johnny Depp, Cole Porter, Patricia Cornwell, Natalie Portman, guitar guru Les Paul, "Father of the Railways" George Stephenson, actor Tony Britton (still with us aged 95), Charles Saatchi and Michael J. Fox, it would have been the 85th birthday of Mr Jackie Wilson!


Saturday 8 June 2019


...Sir Simon Russell Beale; Lee Child and Joanna Trollope CBE; Griff Rhys Jones, Elvis Costello, Bear Grylls, Bettany Hughes and Alfie Boe OBE; M.I.A., Andrew Roachford and Dan Snow MBE...

...and fellow Commander of the British Empire Olivia Colman, CBE!

We love Ms Colman - ever since she played the Mum "Debbie Doonan" in Beautiful People [see here, here and here] - and have followed her amazing rise from telly stalwart to Oscar-winner [for The Favourite, of course] with fascination.

But who knew she sang [after a fashion]?!

[Film: The Lobster (2015)]

Congratulations, Sarah Caroline Olivia Sinclair (née Colman), CBE!

HM The Queen's Birthday Honours List in full.

STOP PRESS: Trooping the Colour (HM The Queen's Official Birthday).

Friday 7 June 2019

They stick together, never sad boys

It's another weekend in sight, dear reader! Unfortunately it's a wet start - thunderstorms are predicted today, apparently - but, as always, we still need to plan our party celebrations...

Let's take some tips from the legendary queen of the Party Monster house music era, Screamin' Rachael - who certainly knows a thing or two about what (and who!) to do to make your weekend go with a swing - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

Fun with bad boys? We should be so lucky.

Have a good one, peeps...

Thursday 6 June 2019

Fly me away

Considering it is June already - and in a couple of weeks' time it will officially be MID-Summer's Day - the weather is stubbornly refusing to co-operate. No sooner is one settled, feeling the warmth of sun on skin, then... whoosh! Dark clouds, rain and gloom descend.


Gripe over. Time, once again, to wallow in the lives of glamorous people in exotic locations, methinks - in the company of Mr Les Baxter:

Oh, that's better...

Wednesday 5 June 2019

The nationwide sigh of relief

He's gone.

Tuesday 4 June 2019

So why don't you use it? Try not to bruise it

It's the start of "Pride Month" worldwide, and there's a flurry of milestones to be celebrated - not least the fact it is fifty years since the infamous Stonewall Riots in New York; it's also 50 years since the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) was founded in the UK, the 45th birthday of Gay Switchboard, and the 30th of the UK's Stonewall campaigning and lobbying organisation.

Also, fittingly, for today's "timeslip moment" we've been transported down to a year that has significant meaning to me - 1984, the year I came out. A milestone, indeed...

It's also the year of Torvill and Dean's "perfect ten", the IRA's attempted assassination of Maggie Thatcher and her government in the Brighton hotel bombing, the Bhopal disaster, the Bishop of Durham, Thomas the Tank Engine, the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher and the siege of the Libyan Embassy, Footloose, the miners' strike and Arthur Scargill, Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley, Zola Budd, Robert Maxwell's takeover of The Mirror, the Michael Buerk BBC report on the famine in Ethiopia, Ghost Busters, the US crack cocaine "epidemic", Hezbollah, Hilda Murrell, the Tamil Tigers, Terms of Endearment, the Thames Barrier, Like a Virgin, privatisation of British Telecom, Starlight Express, the Sino-British Joint Declaration to transfer Hong Kong to China, Gremlins, Diego Maradona, the assassination of Indira Gandhi, Do They Know It's Christmas? and The Bill; the births of Prince Harry, Mark Zuckerberg, Katy Perry, Calvin Harris, Kelly Osbourne, the Apple Macintosh, Gareth Gates, Scarlett Johansson, Kim Jong-un, Avril Lavigne, Tetris, Burkina Faso and Cirque du Soleil; and the deaths of Marvin Gaye, Tommy Cooper, Ethel Merman, Diana Dors, Richard Burton, Truman Capote, Count Basie, Johnny Weissmuller, James Mason, Arnold Ridley ("Private Godfrey" in Dad's Army), Sir John Betjeman, Leonard Rossiter, Jon-Erik Hexum, the halfpenny and Tit-Bits magazine.

In the news in June '84? British schools faced a shakeup as the O-level and CSE exams were replaced by the GCSE, the Indian government launched a military attack on the Golden Temple of Amritsar, and President Ronald Reagan visited Ireland; in the ascendant (literally) were Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic Airways (with its maiden flight from Gatwick Airport to Newark), and Bruce Springsteen (who released the album Born in the U.S.A.); but we bade a very sad farewell to "national treasure" Eric Morecambe (whose funeral made the headlines). In our cinemas: Police Academy; Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom; Splash. On telly: Crimewatch, Leslie Crowther's The Price is Right and Cilla Black's Surprise Surprise.

...and what was in our charts this week thirty-five years ago [gulp!]? It was as if the world were calling to me "come out, come out, wherever you are!" - for in the Top 40 all at the same time were Frankie Goes to Hollywood Relax, I Want to Break Free by Queen, Smalltown Boy by Bronksi Beat, Sister Sledge, Bananarama and the Pointer Sisters, and in our Top Ten were Evelyn Thomas High Energy, Deniece Williams Let's Hear It For The Boy and Hazell Dean Searchin' (Gotta Find Me a Man)!

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham was at #1, and also present and correct were The Smiths, Howard Jones, The Style Council, Spandau Ballet, Ultravox...

...and this one!

The reflex (flex, flex, flex)

You've gone too far this time
But I'm dancing on the valentine
I tell you somebody's fooling around
With my chances on the dangerline
I'll cross that bridge when I find it
Another day to make my stand
High time is no time for deciding
If I should find a helping hand

Why don't you use it?
Try not to bruise it
Buy time don't lose it

Why don't you use it?
Try not to bruise it
Buy time don't lose it

The reflex is an only child he's waiting by the park
The reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark
And watching over lucky clover isn't that bizarre
Every little thing the reflex does
Leaves you answered with a question mark

I'm on a ride and I want to get off
But they won't slow down the roundabout
I sold the Renoir and the TV set
Don't want to be around when this gets out

So why don't you use it?
Try not to bruise it
Buy time don't lose it

Monday 3 June 2019

Extra-curricular studies?


Monday again. Why is it a law of physics that days beginning with an "S" fly by so quickly..?

Never mind, eh, it was [on and off] a sunny weekend, which of course leads to thoughts of España [well it does to moi, anyway!]. So without further ado on this Tacky Music Monday, let's have a little slice of - ahem - talent from that lovely country to cheer us up as we reluctantly slope off to the office for another five days of unbridled joy...

Señorita Velasco makes everything better!

Have a good week, dearies.

Sunday 2 June 2019

Peripatetic, poetic and chic


It's been a funny old day - one minute blazingly hot, the next moment a semi-hurricane threatens to flatten some of our taller plants... We still managed to spend the entire day out there, mind you!

Over at Miss Scarlet's place, she's determined to take the crown for playing "Sunday music", by which she means The Jam.


Our "Sunday music" here at Dolores Delargo Towers tends to be somewhat more - erm - theatrical, to be honest.

With perfect timing, it turns out that today would have been the 75th birthday of Mr Marvin Hamlisch, multi-award-winning composer - an "EGOT" indeed; he won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards - and so, it is to his musical back-catalogue we happily turn for solace:

Now that is what I call a Sunday - high-kicking our way up and down the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers in gold lamé!

Saturday 1 June 2019

Met Office warning...

Our very lovely Mimulus ("Monkey Flower") that survived both the heatwave last year and the winter cold and murk in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers.
Experts are urging the public to take care during this weekend’s hot weather due to a sharp rise in dickheads.

With temperatures set to reach 26 degrees, the Met Office has issued an official warning to alert people to the risk of wankered daytime drinkers, tubby tattooed men without shirts and other hazards.

Meteorologist Norman Steele said: “The hot weather is guaranteed to bring out every boozy, lobster-faced cretin, 42-year-old skateboarder and twat with a frisbee.

“Try to avoid beaches as they will be rammed with shrieking Lambrini drinkers. Also avoid public fountains unless you want to see tiresome exhibitionists predictably dancing in them.

“Our advice is to stay indoors and under no circumstances go to your local park, as the yobs will be out in force. Also avoid roads, as they will be full of drivers who genuinely believe you’re impressed by shit techno.

“If you absolutely must go outside, wait for the weather to improve with some rain. A light shower makes dickheads rush indoors screaming, for some reason.”

Although dickhead levels will be high, it is not thought they will reach last year’s record-breaking spell of drunken sunburn victims and idiots jumping off cliffs.
The Daily Mash

Of course.

And - heavens! - it has been lovely and hot today...