Friday, 19 September 2014


I couldn't sleep last night, firstly because the Scottish referendum was so firmly on my mind. I popped into the living room at about 2am and watched the first few results coming in, feeling less panicky about not being asleep on account of so many other people in the country still being awake.

I ventured back to bed and instantly fell into a reverie about entering the Eurovision Song Contest with a song Nathan and I wrote last year called Thunder. Just as I'd started imagining how we'd stage the song, with visual gimmicks involving lightning bolts, the mother of all flashes of lightning tore through the sky outside, followed by a thunder clap of biblical proportions. It freaked me out good and proper. If I weren't a cynic I'd have thought it was a sign. Without wanting to waste a good message from the universe, however, I instantly went back into the sitting room and sent an email to the BBC's head of Eurovision. They'll no doubt ignore me. They're so obsessed with their own agenda of faded rock stars and music which screams "cool" to listen to a man who's been following the competition since he was born!

I woke up, bleary-eyed, and met Philippa for lunch in Soho. She'd already eaten, so I had falafel at Maos, which is a little vegetarian chain which originates from somewhere like Holland. I never know how to pronounce it, so always describe it as the falafel place with the green awning.

The purpose of our afternoon was to sit and work in a café, so we went to Starbucks, which was the last place Philippa wanted to sit, but the only place where there were enough plug sockets for our plethora of technology.

Philippa worked on her novel. I started to make my way through the poems I'm setting for the Fleet Singers. There's a huge amount of material, at least fifty percent of which is about trees on account of the poetry workshop which was run in connection with the project using the theme of trees as a "way in." I have a lot of work ahead to shape and structure the written material before I can set anything to music. I enjoyed sitting with Philippa, however. It was like the old days when we sat in Rustique in Kentish Town, her writing the screenplay for the film Little Ashes and me writing my first musical, Blast.

This evening we went to see the film Pride, which tells the tale of a group of gay people who supported Welsh miners during the strike. In return, when the strike had finished hundreds of Welsh miners led the pride march through the streets of London. Too too moving. I'm told the National Union of Miners were actually instrumental in bringing LGBT rights to the forefront of the Labour Party's agenda. Fabulous.

...The film was equally fabulous. Essentially, it lined up all my little touch papers and lit them one by one. Gay people. Tick. Miners. Tick. Welsh people. Tick. Brass bands. Tick. Welsh people singing. Tick. By the time the scene came along when bricks were being thrown through a gay bookshop window, I was a quivering wreck.

When I was a child, I think because my father was a teacher in the local school, we had a series of bricks thrown through our house window. On one occasion my father was away, and my mother had to deal with two rather frightened young teenagers. It's a memory I've stored somewhere towards the back of my mind, but it all came flooding back today. In the film, the brick was followed by a firework. As a twelve-year-old, I remember hearing a rattling at our front door, and opening it to find someone from my school - not known for his intelligence - standing with a lit firework in his hand. "What are you doing, Peter?" I said. Peter was so stupid that he stood for a while (lit firework in his hand) trying to think of an excuse, before lobbing the firework down the street and running away!

We were blessed to have in the cinema audience one of the people who the film had actually been based on. In fact, we later discovered that he was the second person to be diagnosed with AIDS in the UK, in the days when it was known as GRID (gay related immune disease.) The very fact that this terrible disease was once thought of as a specifically gay illness terrifies me, and demonstrates how perceptions have changed so dramatically.

The opening sequence of the film took place on Nathan's 10th birthday. It's astonishing to think how far human rights have come in exactly thirty years. The out-and-out heroes who this film was about paved the way for Nathan and me to get married. And they will eternally have our gratitude. May the ones that didn't live into the 1990s rest in gloriously camp peace.

No comments:

Post a Comment