World of Chig   

Cardiff, here I come - again!

After a brief visit there for a night out last Sunday, Chig will be in the Welsh capital for the whole weekend from tomorrow (Friday) until Sunday evening, for (to use the official title) the Cardiff-Wales Lesbian and Gay (Caerdydd-Cymru Lesbiaid a Hoywon) Mardi Gras. Hurrah!
Thanks to the lovely people at Cardiff Initiative, Chig will be staying at the Marriott. He will be out and about on Friday night, at the main event at Cardiff Castle on Saturday, and probably nursing a headache in various venues on Sunday afternoon. He'll be the one with the camera. To make it even easier, he'll probably wear that purple Fred Perry trackie top again. Do come up and say hello if you're going. Especially if you're fit, shirtless, and fancy your picture in GT. Shallow, moi?

Chig would like to apologise to Nottingham Pride, which is now unlikely to get any coverage in GT, unless (hint, hint) they send in their own high resolution digital photos or do something outrageously newsworthy.

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Bachelor Boy

Has there ever been a more appropriate surname for the Mr Gay UK winner?! Congratulations to Jarrod Batchelor, who, as well as having a film star name, won the national Mr Gay UK final on Saturday at G-A-Y. He looks a lot better now than in his initial pictures, so, although I discounted him before, I've decided he's a worthy winner. (Not quite sure what the criteria are for worthy winners beyond firm pecs and nice eyes, but he scores on both of those counts, so what the heck.) I'll let you know what he's like in the flesh after this weekend, because he's going where I'm going (and where I was on Sunday too)...

Tasteful, 'official' photos of Jarrod here. Dozens and dozens of sweatier pics from when he won his London heat here and here.

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Chig's Choon

But of course! It's this one:

Are You Ready For Love? - Elton John

Not-so-pointless prediction: Durrr, number one!

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Remembrance: 22 August 1920 - 10 December 2002

It's a sad, poignant day for me today, as it's the first time my Gran hasn't been around on what would have been her birthday. She would have been 83 today, but she died suddenly in December. I haven't written anything about her since that day, so I thought I would write a little about her interesting life as a tribute when her birthday came around, but to be honest, it's still too upsetting, so the cathartic bit will have to wait.

The picture on the left is the last picture I have of my Gran, taken on my birthday last year when she came over with my Mum for a pub lunch. The middle one is taken sitting on the war memorial in the Warwickshire village where she grew up. We scattered my Grandad's ashes at the war memorial in 2000, and ended up doing the same things with my Gran's last December. The last picture is from a family photo taken about 1989.

Part of what I wrote yesterday (in answer to one of Mike's questions), about living for the moment, and saying things to people while we have the chance, was written because today's anniversary was very much on my mind. None of us ever know what's around the corner. My Gran was fit and healthy, and just about starting to enjoy a new lease of life after two years without my Grandad, but died suddenly and in quite unpleasant circumstances. As happens to so many people, we never had the chance to say goodbye. I used to see my Gran more than any other member of my family; more than either of my parents, more than my sister. I loved her a lot, and there has been a gaping hole in my life since December, especially on Sunday afternoons. That's when I would usually see her for a cup of tea and some of her wonderful cakes, and we would sit and chat. I really miss her.

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Questions & Answers

There’s a little thing that is going around blogland called The Interview Game, and this is how it’s played:

The Rules
1. You leave a comment on a participating blog, saying you want to be interviewed.
2. They respond by asking you five questions.
3. You update your website with their five questions, and your own answers to those questions, as below.
4. You include this explanation.
5. You ask other people five questions when they request an interview.

Chig has shamelessly asked not one, but two people to submit their questions, and they duly have. One of them is Mike, who I’ve known for 15 years, and the other is Zbornak, who I hadn’t heard of until yesterday, but have already decided I like a lot (hence the addition of his blog to my sidebar). The concept was to see if there was a contrast between questions from a good friend and a total stranger who may or may not look like Steve Wilson. You can make up your own minds on that, but they were damn good questions, which I have now ruined by writing answers which are, for the most part, too long. And rubbish. Still, it’s provided me with some intellectual stimulation, and that’s no bad thing. Feel free to request an interview and I’ll have to put on my thinking head again. Here are the questions, with my answers.

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Questions from Zbornak:

1. Music is the food of love, what is your favourite meal?
Much like food itself, it depends on my mood. My musical tastes are more varied than almost anyone I know, and my enormous expenditure on music products over the years bears testimony to this. To continue the food analogy, it would be easier to name the beetroot and fish of my music world; the things I just can’t stand, which would be about 80% of contemporary rap music and the more extreme elements of heavy rock. I used to lump country music in with these two, but I have clearly mellowed with age (and the nature of country music has changed too). Anything else, I’m prepared to at least taste, from hard house and trance to pure pop, via nu-metal, Eurovision, opera, R’n’B, and Balinese nose flutes. I don’t claim any knowledge of classical music, but, like most people, I know what I like and I like what I know, and I’d be glad for other people to expand my horizons in this area.

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2. What would you most like to change about yourself?
The desire to change things about myself. That way lies peace of mind, I would guess.
The slightly longer answer is to be more decisive, more impetuous and, in some areas, less of a perfectionist. People reading this may think, ‘I see no evidence of perfectionism here on this blog’, but that’s the point. It’s what’s NOT here that proves my point. I have this tendency to start things, and then I won’t finish them because I won’t make time to do them properly. I tell myself that if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well, so I abandon something as a lost cause, because I don’t feel I can spend time on it when it might end up being less than perfect. Did that make sense? It’s perfectionism or not at all, and so consequently I HATE myself for the loose ends that I have left, not just on this blog, but in life generally, but I never go back to tidy them up.

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3. What is wrong with gay culture? What is right with it?

Oh god, I know people who have written whole PhDs on this subject. How long have we got?
I don’t believe there is one such thing as ‘gay culture’, but obviously many gay subcultures exist. I don’t mean culture that’s ‘sub’ in any ‘subversive’ way, or ‘less good’ way – I just mean in a smaller way. The clever-clever answer to the first question would be ‘the fact that it has to exist at all’, but it’s a double-edged sword. (Phew! Thank goodness you asked both questions, so I can expound my theory!). The good thing, of course, is that years of social change have seen us providing networks (social, business, community etc.) to support ourselves, but the flipside of the coin is that gay doesn’t necessarily mean better. To quote two very different examples, just because you work for a gay business doesn’t mean you’re being exploited any less, and for every Queer As Folk there’s a Gaytime TV. I have a big problem with the self-ghettoisation that some people have gladly brought upon themselves. But the people who have chosen that path probably don’t see it as a problem at all. It’s all a matter of personal choice of course, but I’m glad (nay, smug) that I’ve never felt the need to blinker my world view through pink spectacles and fling myself totally into ‘gay culture’, whatever that is. I’m glad gay bars exist, but I don’t want to go to them all the time, for example. I see myself these days more as an interested, sometimes amused, occasionally bemused, bystander and observer of gay culture. However, I guess that’s why I feel an ability to write about it for the occasional bits of journalism that I do for a well-known gay magazine(!) I feel involved, and yet detached, and I think it’s a good way to be. I know gay men who have told me that they don’t know any straight people outside of their own families. I find that shocking, and I actually pity them. If you ever find me living off Old Compton Street or in a converted Manchester warehouse, decluttered by a lifestyle therapist, on steroids, with a huge Celtic tattoo across my back, making financial investments with Ivan Massow, please have me shot.

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4. "60% of couples are not in love, but merely addicted to each other" - my flatmate, last night. Discuss.

Tee hee. You’re asking ME about coupledom? Moi, who is counting down the days to the fifth (count ‘em – five years!) anniversary of my last relationship ending. And that one only lasted a month! Am I even allowed to have an opinion on this? Oh, okay then. Thank you for giving me an excuse to expose the bitterness I have managed to keep suppressed for this long. Seriously though, I can only comment on what I see and hear around me, and I think there’s a lot of truth in what your flatmate says. I wouldn’t go as far as putting a figure on it though. I see, in fact I know, many couples who make me think ‘why are you together?’ Conversely, if I exclude the older generations, I can only think of two couples that I know, of any sexuality, who I think are actually in love with each other. Moving down from this, I think the ones your flatmate mentions; the couples who are actually addicted to each other, they’re the next luckiest. I see many couples who are just dependent on each other – a far cry from even being addicted, let alone being in love. The only reason they’re together is because they’re too frightened to be on their own again. I really value my independence. I gave up the yearnings for a boyfriend at about 30, when I bought my first house, which may or may not be a coincidence. Now I just can’t imagine sharing a house with anyone else. I could never move into someone else’s home, and if anyone moved into mine, I would drive them mad within a week.

My cynicism about relationships has risen sharply in the last year, since moving jobs. I have never before worked in such a male, working class, heterosexual environment, and I have experienced all of the horrors that I had fooled myself into believing didn’t exist any more, after years of working in a young, vibrant, multi-racial, multi-sexuality, mainly graduate, gender-balanced company. Apart from the racism, religious ignorance and political naïveté I’ve encountered, I am constantly horrified by the way I hear heterosexual men at work moan about (a) women in general and (b) their own female partners. One day, when I know I’m leaving, I will say what goes through my head the next time I hear them moaning about ‘the missus’. (Yes, they really do say that – there are partners whose names I don’t even know, because they’ve never been mentioned. It betrays such a basic lack of respect.) One of them has just got married, but hardly talked about it, because everyone in the office knows he didn’t want to get hitched. I’m not sure he even likes his wife. Another one moans so much that I feel like saying, ‘Why don’t you just fuck off and leave her? She’d probably be a lot happier without you.’

My cynicism, if you want the Freudian analysis, probably stems from having parents who stayed together for too long ‘for the sake of the children’. They finally split up when I was 18, when it should have been much earlier, for the sake of everyone involved.

I don’t believe that many human beings are genetically programmed to stay with the same partner for life. Once you accept that, you can be a lot happier, and I’ve always stayed with someone for as long as we’re both happy with it. When we’re not, it has ended. Maybe I’m just crap at working on relationships; that’s probably true, but I just don’t see the point in being together if one or both partners is unhappy. It seems that simple to me.

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5. What would be the theme tune to your life?

Hmmm, let me think…..[Mentally runs through the cliched answers; ‘I Am What I Am’, ‘My Way’, ‘This Is My Life’ (the Bassey one, not the Eartha Kitt one) etc. Swerves slightly towards the less obvious but still all-encompassing answer; ‘A Life Of Surprises’ (Prefab Sprout), via the once autobiographical but ultimately too tragic answers; ‘Smalltown Boy’, Soft Cell’s ‘Where The Heart Is’ and P!nk’s ‘Family Portrait’.]
Are we talking about the theme tune to the END of my life? If so, it would amuse me greatly if, as my coffin trundled towards the flames, the curtains slowly closed to the thirty seconds of music that they play during the thinking time on Countdown. Everyone at my funeral could make ‘clock’ movements with their hands, and it would be a bit like the Steps video for ‘Tragedy’, with the curtains closing on the final ‘Duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh-duh-duh. Poo!’ Classy, huh? But a fitting comment on the triviality and long term insignificance of my life.
I haven’t really answered the question, have I? That’s because I can’t think of one single tune which sums up the diversity of my life. My desert island single would be ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, simply because it is so many songs in one, but I’m not going to pretend it’s lyrically appropriate to sum up my life!

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Special Bonus Question

6. Who is Steve Wilson?

Damn. I felt sure you would know, mainly because I assumed that people would have mentioned it to you before. (In the same way that Kiefer Sutherland is constantly plagued by people telling him he looks ‘a bit like that Chig bloke’. Apparently.) Perhaps you, inexplicably, don’t mingle with people who watch kids’ TV. Or perhaps the few photos I’ve seen of you are misleading and you don’t look like him in real life. Or perhaps I just stretched a slight similarity a bit too far. Whatever, the lovely Mr Wilson used to present Live & Kicking on Saturday mornings with Emma Whatnot. And he’s dead cute. Oops. He’s so famous that a google for pics of ‘Steve Wilson CBBC’ produces not one but TWO whole photos, one with the aforementioned Emma Thingummy.

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5 questions from Mike:

1. Who were the best three acts you saw at Glastonbury this year?
Radiohead, Roddy Frame and Junior Senior, all for completely different reasons. Three completely different atmospheres, in three different venues, at three different times of day.

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2. Why do you like Westlife? (I've been wanting to ask you this for ages.)

There’s a presumption in the question here, isn’t there? You don’t get me that easy. I’ve spotted it. I mean, have I ever gone around saying ‘I like Westlife’, either in person or on here? Do you think that I, a 37 year-old homosexual male, would admit something like that in the face of an overwhelming fan base of teenage, heterosexual girls? I mean, the embarrassment. How uncool.

Oh, alright then, I do. I like them first of all because they proved from the outset that they can all sing live. So many other ‘vocal harmony groups’ can’t even do that, that this merits a mention. Secondly, I fancied four of them at the start – all except Bryan, paying particular attention, depending on haircuts at the time, to Shane and then Mark. Thirdly, they’re Irish, which always helps. Fourthly, there must be something in the songs. You’d have to get a musicologist to explain it, but there was something about their formulaic ballads, with their ‘stand up off the bar stool / big drum crash / key change’ moments, which just had me hooked every time. Fifthly, the way they were marketed; always two CDs for every single release, always new photoshoots for each sleeve, and some excellent videos. Also, their albums are superb value for money – there are so many tracks on them. They’ve always managed to avoid being horrendously over-exposed too, I think. In fact, they seem to be taking quite a break right now, so it will be interesting to see if they can claim that one more number one they need to equal The Shadows at fourth in the all-time number ones list, or three more to equal Cliff in third place.

But it’s a personal thing, and I don’t expect anyone to join me. They are of course, pretty boy pop by numbers which even your Granny can like, but that, in my book, doesn’t make them bad people.

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3. You are appointed Dictator Of Great Britain for one day, and are allowed to pass three laws. What would they be?

Well, I would pass the fucking Anti-hunting Bill for starters, as we have a government that’s been too inept to do that after six whole years in power. Then we would finally stop wasting more Parliamentary time which could be spent on other things. Just how many times does it need to be discussed?

Secondly, I would obviously grant the Dictator a huge pay rise, and thirdly I would abolish elections and stay in power until I retired to live in the lap of luxury with my squandered millions. What did you want me to say? Wish for world peace and give all my money to the poor?

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4. If you could send a message back in time to yourself aged 16, what would you tell him?

Generally, not to be so worried. It will be okay to be gay, you’ll have your own house eventually, you’ll have some really happy times and you’ll have some fantastic friends.

In 21 years’ time, you still won’t have had a serious long-term relationship, or have lived with anybody, but that won’t feel as bad as you think it will now.

Sort out what you’re going to do with your life, so you don’t find yourself still asking that question when you’re 37.

Other people will always seem to be having more sex than you do. Try not to worry about it.

Keep a diary. (I have.)

Follow your heart, go to drama school, and be an actor. You know it’s what you want, and you know you’re good enough to do it. Don’t go to uni to do the degree that your LEA careers officer told you to do, in a five minute visit, when they’ve never even met you before.

Have some bloody confidence. Talk to strangers when you’re sober. Take risks.

The Tories won’t be in power for ever, but don’t raise your expectations too much. Somewhere around 2000, you will be profoundly disappointed. Unbelievable as it may seem right now, we will still be the only country in Europe without a fair electoral system.

Don’t waste so much of your life watching TV.

Live for the present. Don’t put things off. Find out things about people. Don’t wait until next time. You never know how long friends and relatives will be around. Do things that you say you’re going to do. Don’t let people down.

Consider earning some money now from journalism. Don’t wait until you’re 30 before the idea enters your head, or you’ll think ‘why didn’t I do that before?’

That nuclear war you’re expecting any day now, here in 1982 – it won’t happen for at least another 21 years, so make some plans.

That pathetic thing your mates are so fascinated by; the Spectrum ZX81, will get bigger and better and there’ll be this thing called the internet. In 21 years’ time, you’ll spend an evening typing the answers to questions from someone you know and someone you don’t know and you’ll use your improved version of the ZX81 to let other people see the answers on theirs. You still won’t be quite sure why.

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5. Your house is on fire, and you only have time to save three items. What would they be?

The family history folders I’ve lovingly created over the last three years, the entire photo collection, and my diaries. (Please note that I am sacrificing the entire video and music collections here, on the grounds that they are replaceable.) Obviously, I’m anticipating some help (from Pickfords) and would have to risk returning to the fire several times. You’re just trying to make me feel bad that I haven’t put up the smoke alarms, aren’t you?

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Chig's Choon

Keeping this brief, after my PC just crashed and lost a much longer posting about something else. Grrr.

This week's Single Of The Week, narrowly pipping Lemar and Good Charlotte to the post, is:

Barcelona - D.Kay & Epsilon featuring Stamina MC

Because (a) it's a jolly, summery, radio-friendly dance choon, (b) it makes me want go to Barcelona (I never have) and (c) we haven't had anything remotely approaching drum'n'bass as a Chig's Choon yet, and I have the imaginary compilation album to think of. Variety is the spice of my singles collection.

Pointless prediction: Let's just ask Mark, shall we boys and girls? He was spot on last week with his prediction in the comments for Richard X and Kelis. No one likes a smart arse, Mr G. Mind you, [CENSORED].

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The same old scene

I've realised, on this, the first day of the new Premiership season, that I didn't say very much about the (once) Mighty Villa on here last season. I think that tells us all we need to know really. It became clear from an early stage that we weren't going to win anything, with the inability to win more than one away game all season and being knocked out of the FA Cup in our first (ie. the 3rd) round. After that appalling behaviour, there was really only one thing that mattered to all Villains as the season drew to a close. We must, at all costs, finish above Birmingham City. And it was all going so well, above them for the whole season, until about three or two games from the end, when they overtook us and stayed there. The shame of it, and the smug looks from Bluenose colleagues have been hard to cope with, as Blues finished above Villa for the first time in living memory. It must not, simply NOT happen again.

And so, new season, new hope!

Oh shit, it's 14.30. Villa lost to Portsmouth, and as Birmingham won the only other early kick-off, the Premiership currently looks like this:

1 Portsmouth P1 W1 D0 L0 GF2 GA1 GD+1 Pts 3
2 Birmingham City P1 W1 D0 L0 GF1 GA0 GD+1 Pts 3

19 Aston Villa P1 W0 D0 L1 GF1 GA2 GD-1 Pts 0
20 Tottenham Hotspur P1 W0 D0 L1 GF0 GA1 GD-1 Pts 0

Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear..... We're the first team this season to concede two goals, and the first team to have a player sent off. Well done Gareth. Excellent example for a captain to set. Brilliant start lads. Keep it up.

UPDATE on Sunday: Thank the Lord, other teams did even worse than us. After one game all round, Blues have sunk to about sixth, and we are on =14th. Oh, to hell with it! We're 14th, on alphabetical order, above Everton. All together now, "things...can only get better...can only get better..."

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Images of Brighton 'and Hove' Pride

I think I'm in love...

...with Brighton. I had an absolutely, stunningly gorgeous weekend darn Sarf. I may even go there again. I was only there for 30 hours, but I actually came back on Sunday night feeling as if I'd been on holiday. And I had - in the sea and everything. It's now Wednesday, and I'm still feeling good about the whole weekend. Brighton Pride was so good - the best Pride event I've ever been to, anywhere, ever - that the only downer about it is knowing it could never be that good again. Most of that's down to the intensely un-British weather of course, but the whole organisation of the day seemed great, and the atmosphere along the seafront on Saturday night was just buzzing. Clammy, but buzzing! Loved it all. Must say thanks to the friends who looked after me down there, and also to the newer friends I met again, and the older friends who I'd forgotten lived down there permanently. There must be a part of Brighton called Birmingham-On-Sea!

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Chig's Choon

If I ever managed to write down some of the daft ideas that sometimes pervade my head, then I might feasibly have compiled a list of 'favourite album tracks never released as singles'. If I had ever compiled such a list, then I'm pretty sure that 'The Things That Dreams Are Made Of' from The Human League's 'Dare' would be sitting at the very top of that list. If I also made a list of 'favourite female soloists' of the last five years, Kelis would be right up there in the top 5, which is where she would also be in a list called 'best acts seen live at V2000'. Therefore, was there really any other choice for Chig's single of the week this week?

Finest_Dreams - Richard X feat. Kelis

After working his funky fusion magic with Sugababes and Liberty X, he's gone and done it again! Richard X is surely a genius. And, yet more money for Mr Oakey and Mr Wright. Marvellous. 'The Things...' just works so well with the SOS Band's second biggest hit 'The Finest', a #17 hit in March 1986, that you almost wonder why you haven't heard this combination before. (Of course, the SOS Band are no strangers to the top producers du jour taking their hits and turning them into new ones, as Fatboy Norman did it years ago with 'Dub Be Good To Me'.)

Something to watch out for this Sunday:
See if the dotmusic chart commentary actually mentions what both the tracks are that make up this single. When 'Being Nobody' charted at #3 on 23 March this year, James actually managed to write a commentary on the single without mentioning the words 'human' or 'league' or even that the track running through it was 'Being Boiled'. It reads as if he had absolutely no idea. That must have taken some doing, but I thought it was negligent and insulting to the memory of 'Ver League, and I was tempted to send some hairdresser friends round to give him a lopsided haircut he'd never forget.

Pointless prediction: #4.

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Hot weekend

Good weather set to continue this weekend? Peaking on Saturday? Right then, that's my mind made up. Brighton 'and Hove' Pride, here comes Chig! I'll be the one camping. The tent's in the car already. Does anyone know where the nearest campsite is to all the Saturday shenanigans?

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Grand Slam

My friend Said; erstwhile colleague and sometime commenter on this very blog, makes his second appearance on C4's Grand Slam this Friday (at 20.00?). I've no idea if he gets through to the next round or not, but it's fair to say he trounced his opponent in his first round, to claim second place on the leader board. Should be worth watching.

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Cold As Christmas (In The Middle Of The Year)

Hottest day ever? What hottest day ever? It might as well be snowing outside, because it's freezing in our office. This is the first Summer I've ever worked in a place with proper air conditioning, and I don't think I like it very much. We're being blasted by cold air, having to wear sweatshirts or jackets, with NO windows which open. I feel ike I'm in a glass prison. GIVE ME FRESH AIR!

It reached 39.5C in Devon at 15.00 today.

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Chig's Choon

As the scorching 'Ex-Take That Weekend' draws to a close, with Markie and the Robster all over the media in the last 72 hours, this week's single of the week can only be...

Four Minute Warning - Mark Owen

Pointless prediction: A difficult one, this one. Let's guess at #15. Please note last week's prediction was spot on once again, with Lumidee entering at #2 yesterday, and we were only three places out with the All-American Rejects, who entered at #13 last week.

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Smash it up

Just drove to the recycling bins at the local supermarket at lunchtime. (Yes, drove, but I was going shopping anyway, so there was no excess energy spent. Thank you for your environmental concern.) As I pulled up, there was a family throwing bottles into the skip, and at that very moment, what record did Jeremy Vine start playing on the radio? 'I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass'! Made me laugh.

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The month that Hollyoaks ruined

So, it's August. When I bought my Hollyoaks calendar in the January sales, in good faith, little did I suspect that I'd be spending August with a serial killer staring down from my walls. Cheers, Mr Redmond. I always liked Toby (played by Henry Luxemburg) before, but now it's slightly unnerving. Perhaps I'll move the calendars round...

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