Part 1 – And a gay old time was had by all…


I think I’ve gone all Murtaugh on myself. My reaction to most things in life these days is “I’m too old for this shit”. Or maybe I’m just boring. Old and boring? What’s next? Fat? Shit, can you StairMaster and type at the same time?In whose universe is a fabulous home cooked dinner, fun and interesting new people, a bar, a drag queen, several regular queens, a free bowl of sweeties and a 2am alcohol munchie pizza fix not a good night out?

Weeeell (Cher tongue out, double hair flip)… let’s diagnose the situation shall we?

Fabulous home made dinner
We went to the girl who doesn’t make a sound when she sleeps old houseshare for dinner. This house is fascinating. The main tenant is a Hungarian girl and she rents out the four other rooms as and when needed, so the house is a fast rotating roster of London’s temporarily homeless (usually) gay new Londoners. Some stay for weeks, some months and less frequently some stay more. In the record breaking eight months I’ve been with the girl who I just put down as my next of kin on the medical registration forms (yegads!) I think I’ve met about 14 people there, mostly briefly, but if you’re up for deeper socaising, it’s there for the taking.

I often wonder if the bulk of London’s gay people got together in a room, ok a disused office building floor… no wait I’m thinking Melbourne proportions again… if they all met in an abandoned wharf along the Thames (don’t ask me why I’m relegating gay get togethers to large empty spaces) I would imagine a good proprtion of them would have passed through those five rooms in Stockwell. She’s good at keeping in touch, in keeping the social offerings coming and each weekend there’s an array of people in the kitchen or her bedroom cum reception rooms ready for a night out with her. She’s like Fagin, just without the petty theft and starvation.

Before dinner, the girl who I can’t think of any more descriptions for right this second and I were left alone with two other Hungarian girls, guests of Fagin, not new housemates. They seemed nice enough, they answered the inane questions I felt had to be asked to cover the elongated silences, they spoke English for my sake when everyone else in the room was Hungarian and they had nice bangles (err that’s not a euphemism for anything, I mean the jewellery stuff on their wrists). But the silences grew and grew and in the end I just couldn’t be bothered filling them, which is strange because I come from a culture where silences are never golden, they’re awkward and must be stuffed full, even if it’s with the kind of polite conversation that you save for your visits to your grandmother.

Luckily Fagin came back before the pressure got to me and I started on how well my roses were doing and dinner was served. There was homemade chicken soup with veg, all types of extra veg, buttery oven potatoes with herbs, chicken schnitzel, paprika chicken, a big bowel of salad and the promise of ice cream to come. Everyone’s plates runneth over. My plate did not runneth, it kind of ambled. With two different chunks of chicken and a small portion of salad (carefully free of tomato) that I spread out to camouflage the dearth, I was reminded why dinner invitations make me nervous. Damn defective digestive system (oh and yeah sure, my crappy palette has a liiiiittle to do with it too). In my defense, I would gladfully eat a whole field of potatoes, but these days with my stomach that just wouldn’t have been conducive to what one considers polite noises to emit at the dinner table.

Fun and interesting new people
After dinner an old housemate turned up, bottle of wine in hand. He turned out to be an expert in filling silences and we soon found out he was from Malta, worked as a chef in a private members club in Mayfair and was moving to Melbourne in March. So Malta and I had much to talk about, and his questions made me realise that I’ve been away so long I’m really not the best person to ask about what’s hip and happening in Melbourne anymore. That made me go “hmm” to myself because I used to know Melbourne like the back of my hand. These days though, since I’ve reached old fogie status (40) even the back of my hand is a mystery as what looks mysteriously like age spots, but I’m preferring to call tiny new freckles, have begun to sprout.

The Bar
By the time Malta had been allowed to down two glasses of wine and the Hungarian visitors had lost interest in a night out and gone to bed (that may have been a euphemism, you decide), it was already past my bedtime and I was far too sober not to notice. Really? 11pm and we haven’t left for the bar yet? So off we went, me, the girl whose hair drys perfectly without styling or products, Fagin, Malta and another ex Hungarian housemate and his South African boyfriend. We were off to a gay bar/pub called 2 Brewers, and as I looked around at our group I realised we could be a gay club ourselves, well, gay and (one) confused (not me, Malta).

It was a 20 minute walk to the bar and London’s best ever summer weather since weather began decreed that we were going to arrive looking like we’d swum the Thames fully clothed to get there. The security guy didn’t seem to mind we were all soaking wet, he did however grab my forearm after he’d put a stamp on it, squeeze it a couple of times and declare quizzically “Strong!”

What’s that supposed to mean? He was a gigantic bear of a man and he thought my arm felt strong? Maybe it’s all that repetitive exercise from lifting JD’s from the table to my mouth.

To be continued

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