Friday, 2 June 2017

Crashing into the Groucho

God I hate opera! They're rehearsing opera in the next door room to us, and whenever I pass, I get a chilly blast of what's going on. It's always slightly out of tune. Huge wavering vibrato covers up any sense of an actual pitch and there's a desperate over-the-topness about it. Terrible terrible acting: like in the silent movies, with performers papering their faces with emotion, showing their feelings rather than convincing me that they're feeling those feelings...

I went to Pam Gilby's funeral yesterday afternoon up at the beautiful crematorium in Hampstead Garden Suburb. I was very pleased to have gone. Lots of the Fleet Singers were there. I hadn't realised that she'd actually formed the choir, so I'm really hoping they'll be able to carry on in her absence. I was incredibly moved to be introduced to Pam's son, Robin. He gave me a big hug and said "Pam thought so highly of you." It was rather wonderful to be able to tell him that I'd thought just as highly of her.

After the service, as the doors opened, and we filed out into the gloriously beautiful garden behind the chapel, the wind whipped up and thousands of pieces of thistle down started dancing in the air, to the extent that I wondered for a spilt second if it was snowing. At the same moment, a fox sauntered its way across the lawn and sat, no more than fifteen meters away from us, happily minding its own business, seemingly completely unconcerned about the groups of people milling around near by.

I went home to continue to orchestrate, but the mother of all computer crashes meant I catastrophically and irreparably lost three hours work. Just like that. Bam. Under normal circumstances I'm almost obsessive about saving my work, but the system was glitchy, and I must have been so focussed on working around the problems I was encountering that I simply forgot. Just what you need.

I ended up at the Groucho Club last night with Philip Sallon, Michael and a truck-load of Jewish people. It's a long story, which would be way too boring to put in print but it was a fun night and a much-needed bit of time off.

I was a little perturbed to pass through Soho Square en route to find it teaming with straight people. The Edge is no longer a gay bar and the square itself no longer seems to be a place where gay folk sit on summer nights. It's not so much a shame as simply something this old man needs to get used to. Soho is just not a gay Mecca any more. With the advent of online chat rooms and the growth of social media, gay men no longer need to hang out in gay bars. It's probably also the case that young gay men no longer want to be pigeon-holed in this manner and would rather drink in mixed establishments. Fair play to them. The usualisation of homosexuality is, after all, the thing we all fought for and a bi-product of that has to be the loss of ghettoisation.

I suppose my sadness is associated with The Edge being the first gay bar I ever visited. I went there with Philippa and Moira in 1994 and met the curiously-named Maximilian William Flowers. The fact that I still remember the (albeit unusual) name of someone I met in passing on that particular night shows quite how much of an impact it had on me. It was profoundly exciting. I was in the legendary Soho. The place I'd read about. And I was surrounded by people like me! I could be myself without worrying about getting beaten up. Ah! The good old days!

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