Tuesday, December 27, 2005

All I got for Christmas was...

My parents in London for a week installing a new bathroom. A lovely sweet gesture that turned out to be A Horrible Thing.

My dad's now in his 70s, and refuses to admit it. Sadly, in the last six months his hands have started shaking, which made plumbing tricksie. He's also getting forgetful, not helped by my mother anxiously cleaning up after him. He's very deaf, so he can't hear when you tell him where the screwdriver is. And his nasty temper has become a helpless rage.

A typical day (and there were Nine of Them) went like this...

DAD: Bugger's leaking. (HITS PIPE WITH WRENCH) Now it's gone everwhere. Get me some newspaper you bugger.

I run off for newspaper.

DAD: Where's my wrench? I just put the bloody thing down.

MUM: Oh, I've just cleaned it and popped it back in your toolbox.

DAD: I said, where's my wrench? Oh. It's leaking again. Have you seen my wrench?

I run off and get the wrench and put it quietly by Dad.

DAD: There it was all along. Why does this thing keep leaking?

ME: Er... Don't you turn it clockwise to tighten it?

DAD: What?

ME: Clockwise...

DAD: You bloody bugger! I am... no hang on... You bugger, letting me do that for ten minutes like that and not saying a word. You lazy sod.

ME: Please get out of my house.

DAD: What was that? Oh. It's leaking again...

On top of that, it took them minutes to disable the central heating, turn off the water, and fill the house with necessary bits of DIY gubbins. I even caught Dad trying to store plywood in my flatmate's room. Within half a day the flat was cold, damp, full of grit and completely cheerless. All that was missing from my childhood was an extra four stone and regular beatings.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas in the Ventilation Shaft

I spent most of Christmas on my own in the BBC Broadcasting House "business lounge" - a desolate room. The only interesting feature was that ... something... was scuttling about near the open ventilation shaft over my head.

A horrid experience, made rather worse by my ex phoning to tell me about his new boyfriend.

But, slightly vile as it all was, it was sooo much better than the last week with my parents.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Blitz spirit

There's always a right time to go home. On Saturday it was when the man who'd been chatting me up was all of a sudden getting off with a bald fat guy instead.

"Return to base," said my body, too drunk to have any better ideas. So, I tried to leave.

"Sorry," the doorman said, "Security alert. Suspected bomb. We're all in here until further notice."

I went back inside, and tried not to notice that the man who'd been chatting me up was now licking fat guy's scalp. It was a small bar, so this wasn't easy.

I switched to Plan B, and chatted up someone prettier. He turned out to be called Paul and worked in a hotel ("Bar work, you know. Behind it. Under it. On it. Rich bitches."). He was out with his boyfriend's gay cricket team. His boyfriend looked rather like you'd fear a 40 year old gay cricketer would look. I was heartbroken.

Paul was defensive, "Six years, you know. It works. We go to Trade, he plays the slot machine, loses track of time, thinks I've been gone for 10 minutes. As far as he's concerned, monogamous bliss."

I looked over. His boyfriend was indeed playing the slot machine, oblivious to a fight going on next to it.

Paul shrugged. "And anyway, I'm normally very well behaved. Otherwise he'd take my gaydar profile away."

I pointed out this wasn't going to stop me chatting him up. After all, we could be blown up at any second. How would you like to spend your last minutes?

Paul glanced over at his boyfriend, "He does seem to be really enjoying that fruit machine, doesn't he? And, you're right, we could die at any moment..." He grinned.


Most alarming thing I've seen on gaydar recently:

Friday, December 16, 2005

Alcazar Split

In a week that's been full of crumblies remembering where they were when John Lennon was shot, spare a thought for Alcazar, who appear to have split up without anyone noticing. Gutted.

On their official site, there's simply a bizzare message from One Of The Ladies explaining:

It´s time for your favourite band to take a break from this wonderful and fantastic years we´ve had with Alcazar."

So much wonderful people we have had the pleasure to meet and beautiful places we´ve seen!

I just wanted to thank you all for making our journey with Alcazar to the most terrific time of my life!

And, of course, a message from Magnus, who has just finished a spot in Grease as Teenangel:

Hmmmm.... it feels kinda strange. The Grease-adventure is over.... I was just lurning the lyrics and how to sit on the magic carpet - and what-do-you-know, suddently it is all over.

Remember that the whole idea of the break is to gather new strength and a small break from it all. I will continuing recording my first pop solo album!!! (In one of them I sing "I'm not the woman that I used to be" (LOL). It sounds hilarious!!!

I will keep you all informed and hope you would like to take part of and follow me on my journey as a new-born Solo Artist.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Sick Building

On October 23rd I told our building management team that the light over my desk was giving me headaches.

On December 14th, after much prodding, a man turned up, grunted, stood on a ladder, and turned the light off after flicking a switch on the top of it.

If I'd know it was that easy, I'd have stood on my desk to do it. Only that would contravene Health and Safety regulations. Instead of which, I've sat at my desk, suffering regular headaches and blurred vision.

Odd, that I'm prevented from doing something to stop me from becoming ill out of concern for my health.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


So, is having sex in the doorway of The Mousetrap:

a) So tacky only a tourist would do it...

b) A fine old London tradition....

c) Unforgivable if you reveal the ending?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Things which remind me of my ex.

Tourists in Bulgoslavia are warned to be aware of attractive people who come up to you in the street and persuade you to take them to expensive bars and restaurants.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

My last night of holiday

Going back a couple of days, my last night in Bulgoslavia (and, frankly, the last time I wasn't sat at my desk, terrified) was brilliant.

I was supposed to be meeting up with Daniel the expert on International Relations (and when I say expert, I mean he was pretty good). Sadly, Coxx was closed ("Private Piss Party"). So, I ended up in Mystery Bar, and bumped into George the exciting Toronto skinhead and his student pals.

There were two good looking men, all over each other in the corner. "He's cute," I said to George. George tutted. "The man he's with - Rent."

This didn't make sense - but apparently a fair number of young Hungarian gays aren't that good at self-esteem. And why should you be, when it costs about 10 euros?

Sadly, I ignored the pretty man who'd hired love, and concetrated on getting smashed with George and his student friends. And then the bar staff brought over a bottle of spirits and some chocolate santas and got smashed with us.

At some point, a friend of George's turned up to give them lifts home. "Come with us," he said. "We'll show you the unseen Hungary."

George looked up and giggled, "He means the shitty bits."

So, we tore round the suburbs, rattling through wasteland past crumbling concrete blocks and abandoned cinemas.

"Hey!" yelled the driver, "You know speed bumps? We don't have them here..."

There was a sickening thud and a lurch as the car smashed across the road.

"We have pot holes."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Work/Life Balance

"Go on holiday!" they say. "The rest will do you good."

What they don't say is "And then, when you get back, it'll all have turned to shit and you'll have to sort it out. And we'll still find ways to blame you, even though you weren't in the country."

I actually want to be back in Bulgoslavia. Miserable, bullet-ridden, rain-sodden, whore-raddled hellhole that it was. At least it was kinda fun.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Terror of Bolgoslavia

Things I now know about 20th Century history in Budapest:

  • After the fall of communism, they turned the secret police HQ/Torture chambers into an amazing museum/art installation, called the House of Terror.
  • It includes a labyrinth made out of soap, celebrating their postwar economic collapse.
  • The smallest cell in the dungeons is the size of a vertical coffin.
  • Most of the cells have radiators. A sweet touch, until you realise people were chained to them.
  • There's a casual little array of torture implements set on a tiny table. By a big drain.
  • It's one of the most disturbing places I've ever visited.
  • It's also the least appropriate place I've ever been cruised. Dear god, man, couldn't you have tried it on in the Hall Of Propaganda, not in a blood-spattered padded cell?
  • The Soviets took most of Hungary's German population away as slave labour. Their definition of "German" included everyone whose surname ended with an "r". As that's what Hitler's name ended with.
  • A friend was renovating his flat, and discovered a forest of Soviet bugs hidden behind the plaster.
  • The Gellert Hotel used to be Nazi HQ. It now serves quite terrible cakes.
  • The House of Terror makes no mention of the Jews. But this is because it was built by a right wing party seeking to get reelected.
  • After a couple of days, you can navigate Budapest by the bullet holes left in the buildings.

People in concrete houses...

So, outside it's your typical Bulgoslavian Indian Summer - miserably cold, horizontal rain, and howling wind.

Inside is a snug little bar, filled with candles, cheap chocolate santas, and only one rent boy. "Hey," yells the author of Hungary's leading book on churches, "you work in Wales, eh? Ever been to Aberystwyth? Most godforsaken place on earth..."

The door bangs open and two people run in, while several others leap up from the table, frantically wedging the door shut before more rain pours in.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Speaking Bolgoslavian

  • Turkish is very close to Hungarian apparently. In fact, there are very few words in common. Small in Turkish is kucuk. When I used it to ask for a small bottle of vodka, I didn't realise it was also Hungarian for "you filthy faggot".
  • English films are popular and cheap on DVD in Hungary. Almost irrestistible is the new Noah Wyle film, Librarian: Quest for the Spear. Or, as it's sold in Hungary: TitKok.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Night of the Hunter

I was quietly paying my bill at the hotel bar when he introduced himself.

"Hey! You!"

I turned. Sat at the bar, in three different types of tartan flannel was a very large, very old American man.

"Yes! You! You'll have a drink with me!"

I stared at him, glassily. I've reached that stage in life where I only drink with strangers if they're dashing young men, or mad old dears.

"No, sir! Sit! You travelling alone? What's wrong with you? Barman! This man will have a beer."

ME: "I really think not, if you don't mind."

"Damn you!" he roared. "No one has ever turned me down for a drink. Barman! Pour that damn beer!"

"Thank you, but no, and please, not beer. I don't drink beer."

"DontDrinkBeer?" he banged his fist in a bowl of peanuts and roared. "You're quite the damndest rudest... sit down, I tell you!"

Weakly, I sat down. I'm normally terribly good at fending off old men - but then they're either wearing towels, or we're stood behind a box hedge. I suddenly realised I have absolutely no experience of saying "no" in social surroundings.

The barman gives me a look. For a second, I mistook it for "I, Ustlav the devastatingly attractive barman, have realised that I must do the sweet filthy with you, lucky visiting tourist." Then I realised the look meant, "Thank fuck! Someone else for the old bore to talk to."

Ustlav vanished. Leaving me alone with Hubert Hubert (as far as I can work out, that really was his name). Hubert wanted to bellow about a lot of things, but generally about money. Oh, and killing things.

Hubert was a hunter, and very pleased with listing how many sweet, fluffy things he'd shot, and how much it had cost to hunt each one, either a lot ("5,000 euros a day to shoot boar. Imagine that, my friend...") or not very much ("The Count, why, he's a rich man and he won't take a penny off of me. Not even for elephant").

I didn't really say much to that. I considered meakly muttering, "But aren't elephants, you know, rather nice..." but didn't really see an opening.

Then Hubert moved on to shouting about the opera. "Jeez, man, seats for NOTHING. I mean NOTHING for orchestra seats at the opera. I tell you man. Like 30 euros. Nothing to you. I went tonight. You should go."

"What's on?"

"Uh, Puccini something. Anyway - seats were NOTHING. Can you imagine?"

At that point, any desire to go to the opera died.

"Now, my friend, I'm gonna write for you the name of a restaurant. You're gonna go there - unless you're too chickenshit to drink wine. Great food, and the prices are dirt. Really good hungarian stuff. I'll let you in to a secret - tell the manager you know me and you're in for a treat."

Not liking snot in my soup, I demurred.

"Are you going to the baths?" he asked. Fool! Of course I was going to the baths - 500 years old, and full of nudey lovelies looking for jollies. "Amazing, my friend. The massage is a steal - like 10 bucks, and these big burly men - They pound you with their fists and it's like nothing on earth. You can barely walk afterwards."

He had my giddy attention.

"Course, they had a lot of problems with homos there, so they've now got guards to stop that shit. But all the same - don't stare too long at the scenery, if you know what I mean. heheheh."

The baths vanished off my itinerary. Who wants to go to a sauna for their skin?

"Now, what is it you Englanders have against George Bush, anyway...?"

You've forgotten how scary Furry art is, haven't you?

And remember: "Furries are not plushophiles, but plushophiles can be furry." (More...)

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Gay Bulgoslavia

Things I now know about gay Budapest:
  • It's rapidly developing, in the same way that Estate Agents say "King's Cross is rapidly developing". Perhaps they mean "upsleazing"?
  • The Hungarian flag looks rather like the Rainbow flag in the dark, so it's all too easy to blunder into an expensive hotel by mistake.
  • Since my guidebook was published, everything's moved.
  • The only places that haven't moved are the hooker bars.
  • There isn't a phrase in any language for "too old for rent, too young to punt - so i'll just sit in this corner reading Dorothy L Sayers, if that's okay..."
  • Actually, I believe the phrase is "falling between two stools", which is unfortunate.
  • There's one gay bar without either a sling or a rent boy - but that's because it's too small. Mystery Bar is an art deco caravanserai squeezed into a living room. Silk tents, ornate mirrors, and a stall selling liquor. The sheer lack of space means that the line between drinker and bartender is thrillingly blurred.
  • Even a place described as "the most cultured and friendly gay bar" has upsleazed. It's now called COXX, and has a wet room. Don't ask.

A picture of Bulgoslavian Lesbians

Trying to find a picture of a Hungarian gay bar to post that didn't feature a dripping sling. Instead found this charming picture of two delegates to the Bulgoslavian Gay Collective. And doesn't it look great?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Welcome to Bulgoslavia

If you're going to go to Hungary, go on a whim. Someone else's, preferably. And do, if possible, fly with Hell's Angels.

They were adorable. They were heading for some Hell's Angels' Gathering (never join a group that's a bitch to apostrophise). Large and jolly and rather sweet - it was like a gay bears' outing, only with lady groupies who were lean-to-the-point-of-addled.

The Angels next to me would keep flexing their ballpoint-tattooed fists and saying "outrageous" things, like "Doug, I'm gonna get me a bloody mary. I will!" And then, when the stewardess arrived, would meekly ask for an orange juice.

Between then was squeezed a cardboard box, "It's the trophies, Doug. Well, they're awards really, but, you know, I'm uncomfortable with the idea of singling out individual achievement..."