Month: July 2018

Mid Year Report Part 2

In the first episode of this mid 2018 report, I mentioned just a few of the adventures and misadventures I have had since returning home from my trip to Australia New Zealand and the Far East. There have been countless other incidents…but a flavour is probably more that sufficient. My 77 birthday is only a couple of months away…it seems incredible how swiftly the years have gone by…and disturbing to feel that time is speeding up…we won’t even put a foot on the path of thinking that time might be running out.

Whilst I have always liked to be involved in social activities, choirs, drama groups, outings, etc. I don’t think that I have ever been so engaged with such a wide variety of undertakings and concerns. For years, HIV was top of my agenda…but it has gone from the desperate struggle of staying alive…to just another health issue to add to the normal concerns of ageing. Apart from the umpteen health and social groups that make huge demands on my time and energies, I find I am reading more and learning more music for piano and organ.

Earlier in the year, the local LGBT Older People’s Group of which I am a founder member and current Chair, collaborated with Staffordshire Buddies, the New Vic Theatre and B-Arts to promote a performance of Jarman in Pieces by Project Adorno. This was the first ever arts event in the area to mark LGBT History Month…the show also set up strong personal resonances. Derek Jarman was born the year after me, he became infected with HIV in 1986, two years after me…and sadly died of AIDS in February 1994. It was in September of the same year, that I was told I had developed AIDS and given a life expectancy of six months…however, despite the heat wave, I am still alive and kicking.


Before the show at the New Vic Theatre with Praveen and Russell

What other similarities might there be between Derek Jarman and myself? This question sparked a search of discovery which is still underway. So far, I have watched all the films made by Jarman released in a splendid boxed set by the British Film Institute (BFI) – these include: Sebastiane, Jubilee, The Tempest, Angelic Conversations and  Caravaggio. I am also reading practically everything Derek wrote which is still in print…along with a few biographies. As I am still in the process of research…I won’t make any observations at this point other than to mention that I am finding the ‘project’ immensely rewarding.

Life in Linley road has been enhanced with the arrival of a new ‘baby’ that has meant quite a few rearrangements within the household.


Helping the Bluthner baby grand to settle in to its new home

We also appear to have a fresh feline friend who has popped round to check out the new arrival and see if there is anything worth eating.


Momo – a very friendly kitten from across the road


Mid Year Report

Looking back over the past six months makes me realise once again that I don’t need to go to foreign parts to encounter adventures…or misadventures. Beginning with the latter…first, the central heating boiler packed up on the coldest day of the year…it was impossible to get through to the boiler maintenance helpline: there were so many emergency calls they had suspended their call queuing system…so I had to pay for a local engineer to get the heating back on.

In the second calamity, my brave Volvo stopped a runaway People Carrier hurtling down Pump Street to cause untold damage and possible loss of life. The driver of the 7-seater Ford Galaxy….ran down the hill bewailing that she’d put on the hand brake. She expressed great concern that I might be injured…thankfully, I was able to reassure her that it was that car that had been hit…and that although I was shaken by the impact, I appeared completely unharmed. The top of the range Audi Sports car with which I was provided until repairs on my own were complete, impressed my neighbours…but scared the life out of me. I have never driven such a powerful vehicle…and breathed a huge sigh of relief when I was able to return it undamaged.


The third disaster was losing my wallet…but someone must have found it, because credit and debit cards it contained had been used fraudulently. So the loss became a theft…with all the hassle that entails… cancelling cards, library tickets, bus & train passes, etc. …then having to obtain replacements and make a crime report to the Police. Maybe it will teach me to take more care of my belongings.

Listing all of the good things that have happened so far this year would be lengthy and boring…so I will just pick out the ones that might count as ‘adventures’ or very close. Creating ceramics with Jo Ayres and Alice Thatcher as part of the OLGBT Wellbeing Project…brings a smile to my face just to think of it. We all had a wonderful time and surprised ourselves with the amazing pieces of pottery we able to make in such a short space of time with so few workshops.


Taking part in the launch of Roland Chester’s Book ‘Ripples From the Edge of Life’ involved a mini adventure to London that included my first visit to the Wallace Collection in Manchester Square – a veritable treasure house of artistic gems. Impossible to take in the vast collection, I wandered through the magnificent rooms crammed with priceless artworks in a trance. Magical!


After a swift look at a fascinating temporary exhibition on the ground floor of  The British Museum about an expat group of British artists in the Caribbean, I met up with some old chums and made some new friends at King’s Cross before walking round the corner to the London Canal Museum for the book launch. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be invited to contribute to Roland’s remarkable book and to read an extract from my own contribution at the launch. Lots of lovely people…shame I had to leave early to catch a train back home to Stoke.