Next month I turn 76 – another year gone in seemingly no time at all. How is it possible for nine months to pass so quickly? A cursory analysis – January saw adventures and misadventures in far flung parts of the world. In February, I was back in the thick of it from the moment I arrived home. Umpteen messages on the answerphone, including a request for a local radio interview on my views as an older gay man about life before and after 1967 the year of the Sexual Offence Act that partially decriminalized homosexual sex between men. The interview eventually happened at BBC Radio Stoke some months later in July, and although I didn’t hear it myself, complimentary feedback from people who had, suggest that it went alright.
Being a home owner is great, but with it comes responsibility for maintaining the property. Thieves had swiped a coping stone from the backyard wall and someone had kicked in the wooden gate. In fact the door was completely rotten, so it wouldn’t have taken much pressure for it to fall apart. Thankfully, Hartshill has many talented artisans who are happy to repair and improve properties at reasonable rates. Alan made me a new gate, added three more courses to the wall and even found an antique coping stone that matched the rest. Local wildlife has now returned to my tiny back garden including pairs of wood pigeons, magpies and blackbirds as well as a robin and a cheeky little wren. Wonderful!
Since completing an online Intercultural Communications course with Shanghai University, my studies have been reduced to mainly reading. Evidence: two piles of books – fiction and non-fiction; currently waist high, which are becoming increasingly unstable as their heights rise. In addition there is a third invisible pile of books borrowed from and returned to Hanley, Newcastle and Stoke libraries…not forgetting e-books on the Kindle. Now that I am stepping down from the post of Secretary of the NLTSG, I only have one newsletter to put together each month. However, commitments to multiple organisations require a fair amount of written work…undoubtedly the most onerous has been submitting a funding bid for a two year programme of activities with the LGBT Older People’s Group. Watch this space!
Commitments can produce rewards …so it is not just hard work and responsibility. Conferences like the Inclusion Conference at Port Vale Football Club allowed me to meet many fascinating people including gong masters John and June who have opened Resonant Interventions in the building which used to house Stoke Library. (Gongs pictured above). Stoke Pride this year took place in Hanley Park and was bigger and better than ever. We even had a Gold Parade to commemorate 50 years since the 1967 Act. Thanks to the hugely skilled and talented Deborah, I took part wearing a splendid gold cloak with an enormous Elvis collar.
Engagements to play the organ for church services have reached an all time high, which means I spend less time practising to improve my playing to recital level. However, it also offers the opportunity to perform regularly on a wide range of instruments. Being a playing member of the North Staffs & District Organ Society (NSDOS) provides further experience of exploring historic and interesting instruments.