Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Love-Song Count-Down to Valentine’s Day


I once live-blogged a meal in a restaurant; but I have never blogged on a daily basis leading up to an event. My Spanish friend, Ana, decided to update each day with one love-song from the decades leading up to the present, 1950s onwards. So, I decided to join in. Come back each day to see what love-song I have chosen for the next decade...


Monday 8th February 2021


Following my friend’s example, Ana, I am going to post a daily love-song from each consecutive decade in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day.


When Rick Astley recorded the song in the 1980s, I purchased lots of copies and, instead of Christmas-cards that year, I sent my friends a copy of the single. 


My choice to represent the 1950s is Nat King Cole’s “When I Fall In Love” from 1957. Enjoy! 




Tuesday 9th February 2021


Well, it’s Tuesday and that means the 1960s for my next decade in the love-song count-down to Valentine’s Day.


Whilst this track was a #1 hit in the UK in 1964 (my Y.O.B. - don’t tell!), I am linking to a video of this star’s come-back in the 1990s and is I think from his all-star concert in 1992 (?) (spot the famous contributors!). Apart from my birth-year, the other connection to me is that I am named (and very much honoured to be so) after this great musician, the inimitable voice and talent of Roy Orbison.


I give you #RoyOrbison and his painful love-song, “It’s Over”...




Wednesday 10th February 2021


The track I have chosen to represent the 1970s in the love-song count-down to Valentine’s Day was a global #1 hit in 1972, including in US (four weeks) and UK (five weeks). Until a couple of years ago, I had no idea what this singer-songwriter even looked like. His image was deliberately withheld, except rare and blurry album photos. He was born with a congenital heart problem and died of heart-failure in 1994 only aged fifty-two. He was the first artist to make a re-mix album and the first artist to do a mash-up. He was the winner of two Grammy-awards, in 1970 and 1973. He wrote &/or performed songs for several films, including “Midnight Cowboy”(1969), “Goodfellas”(1990), and “The Fisher King”(1991). He is so famous, and yet also nowadays perhaps all but forgotten.


He did not actually write the song which I am linking, but for his staggering vocal performance he won the latter Grammy. The recording itself was re-issued in 1976 and reached #22 in UK. This is when I bought the 7”. It was re-re-issued in 1994 and reached #47 in the UK singles-chart. This track reminds me of one of the first wimmin with whom I fell in love. And she broke my heart... Awwwh! But I survived. Ha ha ha...


Herewith I present Harry Nilsson, often simply known as Nilsson, and his classic “Without You”...




Thursday 11th February 2021


It was a tight race for my 1980s spot in the love-song count-down to Valentine’s Day 2021. My runner-up, at 5 mins 27 secs, is Soft Cell and their torch-song “Say Hello Wave Goodbye”. There are a couple of connections between this latter and the actual song I have chosen: they were both long tracks and criticised by radio-DJs for that at the time and both songs were unconventional if not experimental.


My top eighties love-song is even longer, coming in at 5 mins 47 secs. Many folk may never have even heard it let alone seen the video, despite them being recorded by one of the seventies biggest groups. This is my fave track by the artists. My second favourite of theirs is also in excess of five minutes and is entitled “Eagle”. My choice is titled “The Day Before You Came” and was released in 1982, but was considered less than successful at the time, only reaching #32 in the UK charts. A cover by Blancmange two years later got to #22. Nonetheless, by 2010, fans voted this their third most favourite track of the band ABBA.




Friday 12th February 2021


I have to come clean and aver that the 1990s is my fave decade for music. I went to so many music-concerts, including Annie Lennox, Moby, Pet Shop Boys, Simply Red. There were several love-songs from the decade which held personal resonance for me: R.E.M.’s “Nightswimming”(sic); Isha-D’s “Stay”; Olive’s “You’re Not Alone”; etc. However, my decision was made due to one person’s songs which kept cropping up as contenders.


The love-song I have chosen to represent the 1990s in the count-down to Valentine’s Day also has  memories attached to it. It was released in 1991 from an album that resulted in five UK singles and won that year’s Brit Award for best album. In this instance I recall a failed affinity with a man who could not quite make that final step out of the closet. For me, this track is bitter-sweet as it gets to the nub of why our relationship ultimately could not work.


Ladies and Gentlemen (pun intended), I give you “Heal Your Pain” by the very-much-missed Mister George Michael…




Saturday 13th February 2021


Today is the twentieth anniversary of meeting a man who was to become my partner for just over eleven years, but after we split he became my best friend.


I knew instantly which track I wanted to represent the love-song for the noughties (2000-2009). For me this song has a strong spiritual feel, in the sense it could be about the love of the divine for those of us in the physical-realm. However, it can equally be seen as a declaration of love from a parent, a sibling, a friend or a lover.


As an extra blessing, whilst the artist is very much a singer-songwriter, this track was penned by my chum’s fave female Swedish artist, Robyn.


My artist recorded this in Stockholm in 2004 and it was released in 2005, when it reached #16 in the UK singles-chart. The original video appears to have been all but eradicated, but I managed to track it down. Forgive the less than pristine quality.


I give you someone who is considered one of Britain’s greatest soul-singers, Beverley Knight and “Keep This Fire Burning”…


https://www.dailymotion.com/video/xrg5z



Sunday 14th February 2021


So then, which artist and what song did I opt for to represent 2010+ in the love-song count-down to Valentine’s Day?


In this instance the artist is probably unknown to you, unless you are an avid reader of my facebook feed over the years &/or my blog. However, since discovering this wonderful, gay singer-songwriter, I have played his music far more than anybody else’s. Matt Alber (check the lexicon below for other blog-posts) is a total Mensch and knows how to pen and craft a good ballad.


In this instance, I have not selected one of his more famous tracks. Indeed, there is no video for this particular piece. So, one can only listen. Even prior to seeing Matt play live for the first time, this was already my fave of his works (before and since!). I am not going to describe what it is about, so that the listener can create their own narrative if they so choose.


Happy Valentine’s Day, happy PALentine’s Day to one & all! My love ūüíēūüíēūüíē


Meine Herren und Damen; mesdames et messieurs; ladies and gentlemen - Matt Alber and his melancholic love-song “Wallingford”…




I hope you have enjoyed my selections for 2021.

Overview of my Valentine’s Day 2021 love-song choices:


1950s - Nat King Cole - “When I Fall In Love” - 1957

1960s - Roy Orbison - “It’s Over” - 1964

1970s - Harry Nilsson - “Without You” - 1972

1980s - ABBA - “The Day Before You Came” - 1982

1990s - George Michael - “Heal The Pain” - 1991

2000s - Beverley Knight - “Keep The Fire Burning” - 2005

2010s - Matt Alber - “Wallingford” - 2011




Thursday, 21 January 2021

Missing - a Po√ęm


For much of the time I cannot listen to modern music forms as - due to hyperacuity - it causes me physical pain. However, sometimes, when I am fortunate enough to be in a deep bath, I am able to listen to familiar pop-tunes. If my ears start to hurt, I dip under the water until they calm.





This afternoon was one of those lucky occasions. I was listening to Talvin Singh’s “Traveller” (video-clip above), a favourite tune of mine from the nineties. It brought back memories of love-affairs, clubbing, dancing, sunshine, of being actually alive and vibrant. Now I am - and have been for over two decades - severely disabled by chronic-illnesses. Suddenly I found myself weeping for my former life......


Mostly I am an optimist, though tempered by pragmatism. Whilst I allowed myself the space to mourn my losses, I also prefer to turn experiences into something positive - or at least constructive. Very quickly I started forming a po√ęm in my mind. I had to type it up as soon as I exited the bath-tub. And the result is what follows.



Missing



Missing


Tumbling

Into passion

A new friendship offer

But too great a risk

Spiritual strain

Leads to emotional

Falling


Missing


Tumbling

Into passion

A new love-affair’s call

But too great a risk

Emotional strain

Leads to physical

Falling


Missing


Tumbling

Into passion

A new adult play-date

But too great a risk

Physical strain

Leads to sexual

Falling


Missing



*




Wednesday, 20 January 2021

The Audience: a Poem

Traditionally, my first post of the year is a po√ęm. This year, however, I was spurred on to write about a health issue (q.v.). So for my second post herewith something I originally wrote in the nineties, prior to becoming disabled, when I used to attend lots of artistic events. I suspect many are missing such activities due to the constant, pandemic lock-downs. Just maybe, I might be now willing to put up with irksome audiences! I have done a wee bit of adding and editing as well as redesigning the layout. Oh, and a warning for swearing!


*

the audience



at every queer performance:


gay men chattering

so much to say

gossiping

and bitching

one of whom

invariably

will leave mid-way

for the lavatory


lesbians

in multiple layers

removing one sweater

at every vital moment

with frizzy hair

enough for three

statically charged

so as no-one can see

anything of import


serious music concerts:


Jewish ladies

hard of hearing maybe

whispering all too audibly

throughout


elderly couples

pass boiled-sweets

triple-wrapped

for maximum annoyance


and there’s always someone

with a chesty cough

a rattling burst

during anything vaguely piano

and everything pianissimo


cinema visit nightmares:


escape from surreality

proves an impossibility

crunching hands clawing at popcorn

incessant banter

questions

patter

a constant stream

of those who arrive late

and then worst fate

bouncing feet

on the back of the seat


rocking ire

might explode

one of these days

for gods’ sake

shut the fuck up


I want to experience

the performance

not the blasted audience


*


Thursday, 14 January 2021

Pain-Patches - a G_dsend!


About fours year ago I was prescribed pain-patches to help control my pain-levels, especially my spinal pain. Whilst never totally pain-free, the patches have massively reduced what I was suffering and reduced spinal pain to just occasional twinges.


So I have ten to eleven (the latter is my back so carer-support needed) locations around my body where I can place the patches - on a hirsute person like myself it is not easy to find skin without too much hair! Constantly revolving the spots where the patches are placed is to prevent skin issues.


Since puberty I have been re√§cting to sticking-plasters and even micropore-tape. A couple of years back I incurred a burn from a certain pain-patch manufacturer’s adhesive. I notified my supportive G.P. and my friendly pharmacist. From then on, that brand has not been prescribed to me, barring one mistake by a trainee pharmacist after which I incurred a second burn.




Unfortunately, over Christmas-time, it has not mattered where on my body I place the patches (and I use patches from two different manufacturers) I have been burned every week. These wounds are extremely sore and difficult to appease. I started using burn/scald-cream and that really helped ease the severe discomfort and also helped the burns heal faster than without.


After chatting with my housemate who works in Pharma, I decided to immediately stop using the pain-patches, to give my skin a rest. These past few days have been quite unpleasant as I go through withdrawal-symptoms and incur a huge concomitant increase in pain.


My heavy-duty pain-killer is not generally prescribed by G.P.s, but in my case, because I only take as a last resort, my G.P. was and is willing to prescribe. Normally I take on average less than a tablet per week. At the moment I am taking them whenever the dosage time-span is up. I had quite forgotten how much pain I used to be in on a quotidian basis. At least I am now reminded how effective the pain-patch medication has been and indeed is.


I am thankful today for scientists, research-assistants, statisticians, folk who sign on to drug-trials, drug-manufacturers, truck-drivers, doctors & nurses, pharmacists, my housemate (who collects my prescriptions as they cannae be delivered due to “controlled drugs” status), and the carers who remind and help me change the pain-patches. We are so inter-related and inter-connected in our civilisation: no man is an island! I AM thankful. 



Thursday, 17 December 2020

Life - Love, Lust & Loneliness

[Image description: the writer drinking a cup of coffee in an empty restaurant.]


As the title above suggests, I shall be writing here about my own personal life and specifically the subjects of love, lust and loneliness. For much of the past twenty-one years I have been mainly house-bound and for much of that time I have been bed-bound with my chronic illnesses and disabilities. Despite seldom seeing friends and loved ones, as I have stated on previous occasions, I may be alone but I am not lonely in my aloneness.


My solitary existence, for the most part, suits my intrinsic introversion. I enjoy my own company; just being with myself, my thoughts, my daydreams, my memories. From being a very young boy I loved reading and would while away whole days reading. To this day, even though I am seldom able to read any extended writing, I continue to consider my old favourites as friends. In case that sounds strange to some readers, what I mean is that in reading my imagination was engaged and via it my intellect, my emotions, my whole being became absorbed in the tale. I formed strong bonds with individual tomes. As a child and into early adulthood, if I had a book in one of my hands, I was far from being or feeling lonely.


Thinking back on the times in my life when I have felt lonely, they were occasions when I needed people. As an older child and then a teenager, abusive parents meant the care & nurture I should have received at home had to be found elsewhere. And later, much later, when sexuality reared its head, the need to excise lust probably scarred me with the deepest loneliness I can recall. As I have aged, and opportunities for sexual dalliance have presented themselves, that deep lustful loneliness has all but dissipated, save for the occasional, sporadic prick of pain in my heart accompanying some wistful - often lustful - thinking, as well as on occasion during my annual, extended sojourns for recuperation purposes in Andalusia. In the latter case, being far from one’s usual support network stirs up feelings of separation and thus loneliness. At these times the lust I experience is more for physical rather than sexual contact (though of course the latter includes the former).


Still, I remain oddly optimistic and tend to have faith in people until disappointed by egotism, narcissism, disloyalty, dishonesty or neglect. I have lost friends I had thought were very close. I realise that there has been a pattern to many of these failed affinities: generally straight guys, who even as they confessed their love for me, recoiled at the failure of their own self-image of allegedly being a woman’s man. That goes for whether they were a friend or a lover.


I suppose part of the problem is that British culture does not specifically nor generally distinguish the different types of love: child-parent, amity, in-love, erotic, sympathy, empathy, love-in-action, amour-propre - for all of these we simply use one single term, love. We do not have opportunities to discuss the nature nor ramifications of these loves when in the education system. I think teenagers these days are given relationships education; but I suspect it only covers sexual and in-love affinities. It would be good if all types of love and a full range of affinities were contemplated.


Perhaps mine and my male friends are merely creatures of the socio-cultural milieu in which we were raised. I was in my late teens and early adulthood in the early 1980s when the AIDS crisis was at its peak with all the frenzy, aggression and rabid homophobia that surrounded it. This must have effected and affected straight men in ways that I do not suspect anyone bothered to study. So, when my chums have come to a realisation that they love me - that is feel emotions towards me, attachment, endearment - they suddenly see the monolith of homosexual torment from our shared youth. Most have not read the books and novels dealing with themes of male friendship. They are not students of sociology nor psychology. Naturally they flinch and then ultimately recoil from any declaration of emotional connectivity to another man.


No doubt, some will label me maudlin, overly sentimental or even masochistic for constantly holding all my current and former friends very dearly within my heart. From my perspective they are honed precious-stones that form the diadem of my life’s loves and as such are to be treasured always. Each jewel is different. I do not believe upon reflection that any two loves I have had felt the same. Having exclusive qualities each love was unique in how I felt about it, re√§cted to it and expressed it. I have heard others speak similarly, but do not know whether this is a universal experience.


I suppose, prior to the popularity of the internet, I missed seeing my friends so regularly. I wrote letters as often as I could. But I was no longer able to dash around the country each weekend visiting this or that chum. Social media, for disabled people like me - stuck at home for the majority of their lives - has been a boon in helping to keep friendships alive, and not just with those scattered to other parts of the globe. I can socialise as much or as little as I please. As an introvert, too much contact can be very draining. Periodically I take time out from all social media to boost my sociability batteries. Like most things in life, moderation of usage is key. Nonetheless, the internet, at least for me, has been a way to be social. I have made acquaintances and some good friends all over the world. If I need to talk, there is usually someone available.


A further way of keeping loneliness at bay that I find useful is using dating apps. Most of these are not just set up for finding prospective partners, but for friend-making too. All these apps have a chat function, where real-time texts can be exchanged. Some of them even offer video-chat. Whilst using these apps over the past few years, I have had conversations and discussions about politics, the economy, Art, books, films, plays, cooking, baking, holiday destinations, and so on. This is just the same as having a chat down the pub, only without the pint of beer in front of me - ha, ha!


I have also met people with whom I have gone on dates. Very occasionally I have met a play-mate. I do not lust for the most part when I do not have a boyfriend. Even with a boyf I only lust when an appropriate expression of it can take place. To be frank: I have very little energy, even for masturbation; so, having a sex-date every now and then is sufficient for my needs. Yes, I should very much like to have a full-time boyfriend. However, realistically I do not have the physical ability nor stamina to date frequently, let alone participate in sexual pleasures. At this point in my life, and with no prospect of amelioration in my health, I should settle for a meet-up once a month with a friend-with-benefits (a person with whom one has sex, but without the intention of deepening the relationship beyond friendship).


My life thus far, at fifty-four, has been filled with all kinds of love with relatives, friends, the children I taught, boyfriends, even girlfriends and one long-term partner. I feel very blessed when I take out my diadem and look at all the different gemstones. I have had periods of lust, but due to my condition it is for the most part an entity of my past. I do not feel any sense of loneliness. For the past twenty years I have been quite happy - despite my situation - and am content, in that I am accepting of my life’s situation. To a degree - obviously I need carers for some things - I am very self-sufficient.


To all the relatives and friends, from my past and my present, whom I hold dear, I express gratitude for the shared love we had or which is ongoing. I thank one & all with all my heart. ūüíē


*


I wrote this two year back and forgot all about. I was tidying up my documents folder and came across it. So now published herewith.