Met up with lovely ex Steve for a drink. First time we've done this properly since we split up. And it was odd, but nice. Steve's still a great chap - funny, dismissive, and terribly laid-back about the whole "I work in porn" thing.
And the evening was going quite well, in a "we are being mature and sensible and friends" way.
Until Steve said "I made a really big mistake when I dumped you, didn't I?"
It took us another two hours to end up in bed. Via a bottle of £80 Shiraz, many cigarettes, and weird, drunken soul-searching.
Apparently, the main reason he dumped me was: "You were just so bloody happy all the time."
The next morning was, predictably weird. Falling into bed may be an easy short term solution, but Steve was quite subdued afterwards. But what can you expect from a man who got his emotions from a pound shop?
Went out with Simon in Oxford. We were looking for a birthday party, but never quite found it.
I did learn an awful lot about Simon's adventures with his big arms. Or as he put it...
"It's really weird wondering how I'll tell my straight friends I've really scaled back my work for the Road Safety Charity in favour of group sex and recreational chemicals."
When I started this blog up, it was partly as an aide memoire, so that i can remember all the boys i've touched.
If this is the case... why was I re-reading it today, and came across reference to a man called Dieter.
I would appear to have been having boy touching with him. I cannot remember him. At all.
Did some head scratching. Some deep searching. And discovered reference to him elsewhere. German Fashion Designer. It all comes dripping back to me. Mad as angel cake, coked off his head, stupidly pretty, weirdly paranoid. Slapped his own buttocks during sex. Seven different moisturisers in the bathroom.
What a relief it is to have remembered him. Wouldn't want them fading away into the distance.
1) Both are the embodiments of pure evil...
2) Hidden behind a sweet face and docile, innocently cute eyes.
3) Both are planning world domination
4) Both secretly despise their friends
5) Both have complicated relationships with a tall long-haired man.
6) Both are liable to captivate complete strangers, before shooting them quickly in the back...
7) With a weapon concealed between their legs.
8) Both think of themselves in the third person ("The Most High")
9) Neither likes being scratched behind the ears.
10) Both are hairy, and shorter than they realise.
Went to the Vauxhall Tavern for Amy Lame's club night Duckie on Saturday.
Never been before, and don't much like the area of town. Vauxhall always reminds me weirdly of Newport Pagnell Motorway Service station.
But the club was brilliant. I'm not good at stupidly packed, expensive gay-o-ramas, but Amy had sat up a lovely little table, covered with doilies, nice chairs and a sign which said "Come and Join Amy's Knitting Circle".
So I sat, happily knitting away, surrounded by dancing gayers. It was terribly tranquil - I chatted to one woman who was making booties for her cat, and a transvestite who'd brought along a jumper he was working on.
It is, I discovered, almost impossible to smoke and knit at the same time.
My friend Steve phoned me - he's just heading home early from a premier of a porn film his company's made. The whole idea is weird - drinks, nibbles, porn, and the stars wandering around going "I'm so proud of what I did here - you see that bit...? Yeah."
We met up in reduced circumstances. I'm still as grim as a digital lifestyle channel, and Lucas has discovered he has syphillis. He's currently telling all his recent sexual partners, working up to his boyfriend.
"I had to phone eight people today," he said. "Including a couple."
"At the same time?"
The evening lightened up considerably once we got drunk. We ended up in Barcode, which looks rather like its been made out of old steel cattle trucks.
Fairly soon we discovered that Lucas had had a considerable number of people in the bar. "You see that bloke over there? Tossed him off on a rock in Mykonos. Red speedos. Oh look, there's Carlos. Air-steward. Stopover."
It was a strange evening - Lucas and me trying our best not to flirt with each other, and yet, at the same time, being surrounded by a startling number of very pretty men. Including a beautiful German guy with great hair and terrible clothes.
"Hey," said Lucas suddenly, "The German guy's just gone to the bogs. And he was staring at you."
"No he wasn't."
"Yes he was."
"Fair enough. Back in a mo."
When I returned a few minutes later, Lucas was chatting to a couple of people at our table. He turned round and grinned. "How was he?"
"This is Manus and Stewart." He introduced me to a very drunken Irishman, and a charmingly rugged man from Yorkshire. Manus I didn't like - he was shrivelled and pleaded poverty, despite being a heating engineer.
Stewart we adored. Both Lucas and I instantly warmed to a man who is a musician, plumber, and provides random voice-overs for Holby City (he said "hello, Doctor" in this week's episode). Irritatingly, Stewart has a boyfriend who he loves ("We've been together three years, and he gets an extra chin every year.").
I leaned over and suggested something to Stewart.
"No," he said. "I'm a married man. If I wasn't.... then that would be different... but that's wrong...."
Lucas giggled. "What's wrong? Doesn't he want to have sex with us?"
"Apparently not." I lit another cigarette.
"Oh. That's too bad. Stewart, you are a very good looking man."
Manus suddenly looked up from his pint. "Eh? What's that?" He suddenly glared us and then at Stewart. "Hey - have you pulled, man?"
The two of us nodded and smiled. "But he wants to be faithful to his boyfriend."
"What, that fat old munter?" Manus growled, and then slumped back over his pint.
"Anyway," said Lucas smoothly. "Here's my card. Let us know what you're doing this weekend."
Stewart pocketed the card, and looked slyly at us. "All right, then. I will."
He got up and left.
"Do you think he'll call?" I asked Lucas.
He shrugged. "Who cares? He'll go home guilty. Now - have you seen the rent over there?"
Ann is puzzled about the Caron Keating thing. We've been receiving emails from people literally sobbing with grief.
"It's a sad thing that she's dead, yeah, but I don't understand why people who never met her are actually crying."
I pause. "It's a part of their childhood. I know I'd be pretty shaken up if Tim Vincent or Ant and Dec died."
Ann narrows her eyebrows. "That's not grief. You'd just be upset that you hadn't had a crack at them."
Poirot appears to have become increasingly arch. Anyone who manages to include Frances de la Tour, Barbara Flynn *and * Herr Lipp from the League of Gentlemen is surely turning a raised eyebrow into a receding hairline.
But golly, Frances De La Tour was fun. With her capes, her cigarette holders, and her sudden ability to swoop onto her haunces in the middle of a scene and glare up at Poirot yelling "I don't want to be covered in haddock."
Birghton's wonderfulness is like your hungover best friend cooking you a fried breakfast. It's bright, entertaining and just a little the worse for wear. Even it's buildings have made the extra special effort to be fun.
The Brighton Pavilion is such a work of ludicrous entertainment it's all it can do to keep itself from giggling while the tourists are around.
Wonderful Gemma summoned me to Brighton to spend Saturday with her husband Serge (the kickboxing count), her parents (the wonderful Sheila and Damien who appear to be controlled by a team of expert scriptwriters), her sister Julia, and Julia's new boyfriend... seven feet of studly skiing German called.... Life.
It was a strangely great day. While Sheila told me and Gemma in the kitchen all about the gorgeous pilots she used to date in the sixties, Serge and Damien battled each other on Damien's beloved PS2.
After supper, Damien lowered the blinds so that Serge could roll joints, and then insisted that we all try and play Lord of the Rings Trivial pursuit.
DAMIAN: "Question One: What word does Aragorn shout when the ladders go up? Come on, come on... [hopeful glance around the room] No one? Serge? [he glances proudly at his son-in-law]
SERGE: "Er... Attack?"
DAMIAN: [An edge of disappointment in his tone] "No, 'Swords' of course. Let's pack this in. Who's for the Rizla Game?"
We end up playing a weird variation which involves increasingly less description. Trying to evoke Terence Conran merely through a single sound is bloody hard. Seeing your friend's mum have to do the same thing with a german porn star is just disturbing.
There are some gay men who insist that they go to gay saunas "just for the sauna".
I don't believe them. It's like saying you go to a lap dancing bar for the wine list.
Gay saunas are for having sex. Preferably lots of it. With interesting people. And they're also good for the skin.
On Friday I skulked off to one, partly to see if I could revive my dead libido by surrounding it with hordes of men in towels. But partly because I just thought getting laid would be fun.
It turned out to be pretty much a failure, which is naturally a shiver disappointing (and will make this entry much less exciting than if I'd got some hot loving in the steam room). But I have at least learned that you should never go to a sauna if you're feeling crap about yourself.
I'm not at my most skippy at the moment, I feel out of condition, and I had terrible hair (it's gone all bouffant, and despite frantic efforts at styling it with sauna soap, it kept on doing hateful things). So, I stomped around like a dejected member of the Jackson Five, scowling at potential suitors, feeling miserably left out of the fun and oddly like talking to the Weird Old Fat Men who potter aimiably around these places like whistful Satyrs at a shabby bacchante.
For that afternoon I felt like a Weird Old Fat Man. Not all of the Weird Old Fat Men were Fat of course. Some of them are Hairy. And one old man, for example, was well into his twilight years, yet weirdly buff. On the other hand, that didn't really make the sight of him standing there, fiddling with himself in the shower any more appealing.
So, rather than regale you with a sad afternoon's musings on Near Misses I'll share with you a few Sauna Notes...
1) There was a note up warning us to tread carefully as someone had poured lube in the Dark Room, creating a lethal lube slick that, despite the best efforts of management to clear it up still left innocent men flying around in the gloom, their heads ending up god knows where. Dear Terrorists - new plan: chemical agents are boring - flood the tube with lube.
2) The whole idea of Dark Rooms still puzzles me. Gay men are fussy about appearance and picky, picky, picky. And yet, an alarming number seem happy to slide off into a twilight world, grabbing jollies from complete unknowns. Why?
3) Gay men are contrary beasts. I spent some time being eyed up by a frankly lovely skinhead. After a while, I wandered over to say hello. He smiled, and then bolted. Later, I wandered past a cubicle to discover him having sex with two fat Italians while three WOFM stood outside, rubbing themselves contentedly.
4) Steam Rooms have a special tactical nature to them. I'll explain. If you're aware of Urinal Rules (you know - for some reason men always pick pissoirs as far apart from each other as possible) you won't be surprised to discover that there's a special variation in a steam room. Steam Rooms, for the unitiated, are big rooms, with three long benches running round the walls.
The steam makes it quite hard to work out what's going on. On the other hand, you can work out *exactly* what's going on. The shifting shapes, the wet slapping noises and the jingling of locker keys around flying wrists ... well, they're not wrapping Easter Eggs.
For distrait souls like me, I'm happy to just sit there waiting for fantastic sex to just turn up like a No.78 bus. It rarely happens, but I prefer it to having to peer through the gloom, work out whether the man next to me is in any way attractive, intuit whether they think me attractive, and then find a way into their personal space. It's just weird. Most of the time people sit there, blissfully unaware of the people next to them, and yet absolutely aware of the people next to them.
It's made more complex by the tactical moves that go on. It's somewhat like Othello, or Go, the Japanese boardgame - both are playing pieces with a certain number of options, the object being to limit and eventually stifle those options. A good first move (if you don't fancy plunging into an orgy of shifting towels and hoping for the best) is to sit somewhere with a bit of space on either side of you and work out the other players. The worst thing is an Interception - if you leave too much space between you and the man next to you, another opponent can slip in between the two of you. This is also why you should never sit in a corner - you're open to a Blocking Move - which is when a large man slides in and sits next to you, obscuring you from vision. Not good.
In fact, Steam Rooms are just odd.
5) Jacuzzis. Always full of old hairy men sitting a little too close together. And, amongst the bubbles is a lot of floating scum. Shudder.
6) Some men are great in saunas. They sail through, flitting in and out of cubicles with, well, gay abandon. It's an admirable trait, and they appear to enjoy it. Jealous seethe.
7) Porn. They show a lot of porn at saunas. I assume this is to "get you in the mood" like at a sperm donor clinic. Shrug. I still don't get why I should enjoy watching men who are having more fun than me.
8) Some men are Very Oddly Shaped. Some men in saunas are beautiful. Some are astonishing near misses - with a great face, magnificent arms, but a pot belly. But the male stomach goes through some alarming variations. On Friday was a man with a belly that had somehow shrivelled like a balloon, and sagged down completely concealing his private parts. Which was just odd.
9) On Friday, I saw a distinguished old man holding hands on a lounger with a much younger man. They looked happy and it gave me hope for the world. Later I saw them in the sauna cafe. "Buy me more sandwich," demanded the younger man, and all became sadly clear.
10) Sherlock Holmes stories are great. When it all got too befuddling, I sat in the cafe, curled up on a sofa with the mystery of the Gold Pince-Nez. Charming.
11) Saunas aren't always rubbish. Every now and then I will remember the amazing times I've had, mainly in Amsterdam - the remarkably experimental evening with the Dutch drugs manufacturer who, in between bouts would point out his clients... the lovely Swedish bridge engineer... the wordless man from Portugal... Peter the Poet, who I even dated for a while before I discovered that he'd mastered the egotistical sublime... lovely Phil who turned out to have an amazing job in television... and the charming Irish waiter who I kept bumping into until it became habit.
12) Most times I go to saunas I'll vow to never go again. And yet... and yet...
As well as showing me the even sluttier version of BabeStation (best line: "ooh, Janice, that cucumber was really freezing!"), Lee has also introduced me to the dark, gay corner of his cable subscription.
Called something like Gay TV, it thankfully doesn't feature two men, a sofa and the filthy minds of the general public. Instead, it's simply a rolling advert for a subscription channel.
It features a man in swimming trunks with dead eyes intoning lifelessly: "Hi. I'm Darren Blaze. I'm here to offer you the passport to unimaginable gay pleasure."
His tone stays as flat and uninterested as someone behind the post office counter: "For only 4.99 you can enjoy an unlimited evening of the most beautiful men having the most extraordinary adventures."
Sudden blipvert of "the most beautiful men" (a bunch of podgy, spotty pale Latvuanians) having "the most extraordinary adventures" (rolling around on bedless mattresses in cheap hotels).
"Men like me are here to show you a world of gay pleasure. A whole evening of top class hunks available for a one-off payment of £4.99 that won't show up on your bill."
Hmmn. So your wife won't know that you've spent eight minutes of sweaty pleasure, furtiving yourself off to frankly rather hungry Eastern Europeans.
My friend Lee lives in The Fall of the House of Usher. His Peckham house was constructed by an insane lawyer, criminal builders and a vaguely mystic welshman.... and then abandoned.
It perches, like Michael Caine's van, on a precipice between urban chic and complete desolation. Every floorboard creaks, every ceiling sags alarmingly; the pipes leak, the expensive slate cracks, the doors bow, and the paint has the colour, texture - and increasingly, smell - of really old cheese.
Kipping on the sofa there reminds me of when I slept in a hammock in a storm. Lee likens it to being on a ship at sea - he finds the constant groaning and wailing oddly comforting. But then he would.
It's odd at first glance every room is a fine example of modern design - but then, at closer inspection it's a frightening collision between Wallpaper magazine and The Beano.
Lee cheerfully tells me even the cats suffered - often able to sneak around the rattling mess with perfect silence and stealth, there were one or two floorboards so loose that they'd suddenly sink, tip and roar, sending the cat scuttling away like a spider in high heels.
Expect to nip round there for supper and Alias one night only to discover that the earth has swallowed the house, sins and all.
Often, when watching Alias, I wonder how Sydney Bristow manages to con top intenational spies simply by a change of clothes and an old mop hastily hacked into a wig and dyed red.
Surely by now, all secret organisations would be on the look out for a pretty lady with a button nose and the face of a scared gerbil?
I'm musing about this after Sunday at the Black Cap. Suddenly, across the room I spied a cute man with very trendy hair, and most wonderfully expensive casual clothes - he had the whole appearance of the kind of man you'd hope to find in a gay bar in Camden Town - ruthlessly sophisticated, arty, and urbanely urban.
Burning with desire for this exotic species, I began chatting him up... and gradually realised the awful truth.
Finally left the flat and headed up the road to the Black Cap for reassuring drag. It's like dipping a spangly toe in the gay scene.
The Black Cap is where I heard the best drag queen put down ever: "Honey, your legs spend so much time apart they write to each other."
Playing on Sunday was fab Sandra, a strapping black man, who taunted a hapless man in a cricket jumper by asking:
"Ever slept with a black man, hun?"
"Er, no, not that I remember."
"Oh, you'd remember. You'd wake up and find all you're furniture's gone."
Sandra followed me into the urinal at one point, laid a friendly hand on my shoulder and peered over. "Just checking what a white one looks like," she said. Long pause. "Hmmn. Cute. Like bonsai."