Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Perfume and erudition

On the way back from osteopathy, I came upon what was obviously a film shoot in the streets behind Borough tube. There are always too many people working on film shoots; hundreds of people wearing hi-viz, carrying clip boards and looking unbelievably bored! Oh, for the luxury of feeling bored on one of my shoots! Shoots for my films are adrenaline-fuelled nightmares, where crew and performers rush about like insane people trying to reel in a shot list as long as a trans-Atlantic flight.

I was asked to speak on BBC Radio Northampton this morning. The discussion was about stereotypes. Alice Arnold, the charming partner of Clare Balding, had written a piece in response to American research which addressed the issue that US lesbians are apparently more likely to be overweight than their straight counterparts. Arnold argues that this statistic is misleading because the survey will only have been filled in by those who were openly gay, as opposed to bisexual women or those who were still in the closet. Unfortunately, the logical conclusion to Arnold's argument is that women come out and THEN get fat! She argues that we should stop the stereotyping. "When will the myths about gay people finally die a death?" (She screams like an angry lesbian;-))

I, for one, believe wholeheartedly in stereotypes. They exist for a reason, and not all stereotypes are bad... Welsh people sing better, Dutch people are more direct, gay people are more body-conscious, and so forth. (Actually, the same American study found that gay men tended to be thinner than straight men, which I would say was almost certainly true.)

I don't mind the "myths" attached to gay people. They're largely true. We tend to be more promiscuous, and we tend to love ABBA and musical theatre. In fact, my love for these particular types of music was formed long before I knew I was gay. In fact, I'm quite convinced that the ABBA-loving gene attached itself to my mother's DNA whilst I was in the womb. Four months after ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest, I was born. I plainly wanted to see what was making the glorious sound I could hear!

When stereotypes become damaging, it's important for those who buck the trend to be as vocal as they can be so that people can see a  community which is multi-faceted. This is why I'm proud of the British muslims who are currently standing up to extremists with placards which say "not in my name."  Part of the stereotype of any minority is that they spend too much time whinging about being stereotyped rather than challenging the stereotypes.

I had a meeting in Gospel Oak with Uncle Archie, and then walked to Rustique Cafe in Tufnell Park to work on the Fleet Singers' composition. A gentleman sat in the cafe barking erudition at a young woman sitting opposite. From the moment I imagined that he was the reincarnation of Betjeman, I couldn't think of anything else. He talked of nothing but painting and literature. Perhaps no one else could hear or see him!

On my way to Rustique, somewhere near Acland Burghley school, I came upon a couple of girls who were chalking messages onto the pavement with a soft stone. Plainly one of them had written something she wished she hadn't, because she was frantically trying to rub it out. Slightly randomly she was using an old fashioned bottle of perfume - the sort with a rubber bulb which you squeeze to use - to spray liquid onto the pavement. What an eccentrically costly way of going about things!

I walked home in the half-light, all the way up Dartmouth Park hill, through the village and back down, pausing briefly to look across mist-shrouded lilac-coloured London with its patchwork of white and orange twinkling lights. It's nice to live on a hill...

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