Time to Call it a Day
It was over ten years ago that Pistol (Ron Babcock) from Pistol and Enema asked if we would monitor his message board on the P&E Site, “Across the Pond”. What great fun we had at this time with some of the posters. Those that spring to mind were Old Geezer, Pickmor, Cruella, Le Stone Man, and Saqueen (a real woman). When the monitoring of the message board became too much of a task and the postings became nasty, Pistol decide to close it down. We were then asked if we would write a column for P&E “Across The Pond”, news and views form both sides of the Atlantic.
We had great fun during this time and made lots of new friends in Key West. P&E underwent a number of changes of ownership. First there was Neil, then Jimmy and finally Kenny before P&E finally hung up its pants. We continued to write for P&E during all these changes. At the same time we ran www.gaykeywest.co.uk
During our time writing we would really like to thank Not Bob who wrote many a saucy take from Flickerdale known to others as Fort Lauderdale. And then there was Hilda, the one with the Red Hat who kept us entertained with stories of how the rich and famous lived on the West Coast of Florida. There was of course Pistol without whom The Duchess and Lulu would have continued to live a quiet life in rural Sussex. And finally David Collins (The Naked Concierge) sadly no longer with us, who contributed so much work keeping Pistol and Enema up and running for Pistol.
You will have realized by now that we are finally calling it a day.
We would like to Thank You All for supporting us all these years and
For reading the rubbish that we have churned out .
You can still keep in touch with us
The Duchess and Lulu
Anyone interested in taking over the site or domain drop us a line.
26th June 2014
Since marriage for gay couples became legal in the UK there has been some confusion about couples already in a Civil Partnership. As it stands if you are in a Civil Parternship and want to become married you have to undergo a separation similar to a divorce before you can marry. That however is now all to change. The Government today will announce that the first date couples already in civil partnerships can convert to marriage will be 10 December 2014, but that civil partnerships will not be extended to include straight couples. The new situation will mean gay couples have the choice between a marriage or a civil partnership, and straight couples will only be able to get married.
If you like thinks Pink then take a look at this stunning photo take at Shibazakura Hill, a beautiful spring sightseeing spot located in Hitsujiyama Park, Japan. It overlooks the entire city area of Chichibu. About 400,000 moss phloxes are in full bloom from early in April to early in May on a hill that is approximately 17,600 square meters in size. Furthermore, approximately 1,000 cherry trees, including yoshino cherry, weeping cherry, and double-petal cherry trees, planted in the park, blossom in April.
How Do You Like Your Meat.
21st June 2014
We all know how much The Queen loves her horses and how knowledgeable she is about the breeding and the form. Where else in the world would you get the Queen arriving five days on the trot by a horse drawn carriage procession than Royal Ascot.
Ascot Racecourse was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne. The first race, "Her Majesty's Plate", with a purse of 100 guineas, was held on 11 August 1711. Today it is a major event in the British social calendar, and press coverage of the attendees and what they are wearing often exceeds coverage of the actual racing. There are three enclosures attended by guests on Royal Ascot week.
The Royal Enclosure is the most prestigious of the three enclosures, with frequent visits from the Queen and Royal Family members. Access to the Royal Enclosure is restricted, with high security on the day. Those in the Royal Enclosure have the options of fine dining and hospitality, and a selection of bars. The dress code is strictly enforced. For women, only a day dress with a hat is acceptable, with rules applying to the length and style of the dress. In addition, women must not show bare midriffs or shoulders. For men, black or grey morning dress with top hat is required.
Over 300,000 people make the annual visit to Berkshire during Royal Ascot week, making this Europe’s best-attended race meeting.
This year the Tour de France starts off in Yorkshire in the UK at the beginning of July, local residents have been knitting like crazy making 20,000 hand knitted jerseys in the Tour's signature colours of yellow, green and white with red dots to hang between lamp-posts. However Council bosses have ordered the town to take down the bunting after claiming the weight of the wool was causing streetlights to bend. Seems like another case of health and safety gone mad. Not to be outdone, the villagers have taken bunting and it is hanging from guttering, windows, and the doorways and arches of houses without any problems
A street artist has created stencilled works of famous artists, writers and musicians along Yorkshire's Tour de France route. Stewy, based in Bristol, had permission to create the works from building owners in West and South Yorkshire. The five stencils all feature Yorkshire-born artists, from the Bronte sisters to musician Jarvis Cocker, on bikes in places associated with them.
16th June 2014
It was Father’s Day yesterday. It is bad enough picking a card if you have one Dad, imagine what it is like if you have two.
A "rainbow road crossing" has been unveiled in Brighton as part of the celebrations to mark LGBT Pride month. The artwork, which stretches across the road at the artists' quarter of Madeira Drive, was painted over two days.
Similar crossings have previously appeared in cities around the world including Los Angeles, Sydney and Tel Aviv but this is thought to be the first in Europe.
Brighton MP Caroline Lucas said the rainbow crossing was "a great tribute to that spirit of diversity and inclusiveness embraced by our city".
Although hundreds of tourists are expected to visit the artwork, police have warned it should not be considered an official road crossing. Unlike official crossings, pedestrians will not have any priority over vehicles when walking on the artwork. Traffic regulations also mean the artwork will have to be removed after a week.
The first official rainbow crossing was painted in West Hollywood by artist Martin Duvander in 2012.
Unofficial crossings have also appeared in places like Moscow, Paris, Shanghai and Cambodia as symbols of solidarity with LGBT people.
Brighton’s LGBT celebrations will culminate at Brighton Pride 2014 on 2 August.
Bear weekends in Key West will now have a whole new meaning. Two male bears have been observed regularly having oral sex at a wildlife sanctuary in Croatia.
According to a report in journal Zoo Biology, fellatio is rarely observed in non-human species, and is usually considered a stress response, rather than intended for enjoyment.
However, researchers from the Polish Academy of Sciences Department of Wildlife Conservation say two male bears they have been observing are demonstrating “the first observations of long-term, recurrent fellatio in captive brown bears kept in proper conditions”.
Congratulations John Barrowman
John Barrowman has been awarded an MBE for services to entertainment and charity.
The openly gay Doctor Who and Torchwood star, who is currently filming the third season of superhero drama Arrow, was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list today.
He is a prominent supporter of LGB charities including Stonewall, and the Make A Difference Trust, which supports people living with HIV and AIDS.
He said in a video blog: “It’s been the hardest thing for me to keep this a secret, but I’m glad it’s out now, because this is probably one of the proudest days of my life.
14th June 2014
At 8.00am this morning on the BBC, Her Majesty the Queen's Official birthday is announced and our National Anthem "God Save the Queen" is played, this is all very patriotic for the Royalist amongst us. A number of years ago this tradition was dropped from the BBC at the direction of the powers to be. But l am glad to say we are now back on track.
During the morning, The Queen celebrated her official birthday with the Trooping the Colour parade in central London. More than 1,100 soldiers took part in the display of military pomp and pageantry on Horseguards Parade. The Queen's actual birthday was on 21 April, when she turned 88. The tradition of two birthdays dates back to the time when, if monarchs were born in winter, the weather was deemed unsuitable for outdoor events.
Thousands of spectators also watched the annual meticulous display of army drill, music and horsemanship.
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh rode in a vintage carriage from Buckingham Palace, along The Mall to Horse Guards Parade where the event was staged.
The military parade dates back to preparations for battle, when colours would be carried or "trooped" down the rank so they could be seen and recognised by the soldiers.
The Duchess of Cambridge, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry travelled together in another coach, and the Duke of York, Princess Eugenie, Earl and Countess of Wessex, Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra were in the final carriage.
The Prince of Wales and Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, took part in the parade on horseback.
As part of the ceremony there was also be an RAF flypast watched by the Royal Family from the palace balcony.
The Red Arrows were a highlight of the flypast as they flew over the palace emitting red, blue and white smoke.
9th June 2014
Who do you know that could go around for 80 years and never wear his pants.
Donald Duck of course, who is 80 Years old today. Still lagging behind Mickey Mouse who is six years older.
“One of the greatest satisfactions in our work here at the studio is the warm relationship that exists within our cartoon family. Mickey, Pluto, Goofy, and the whole gang have always been a lot of fun to work with. But like many large families, we have a problem child. You’re right, it’s Donald Duck.” — Walt Disney
Donald was originally voiced by Clarence Nash, who created the character's distinctive speech pattern.
Walt Disney first hear Nash’s voice on the radio playing a crazy goat and hired him to voice Donald Duck. After Nash's passing in 1985, his understudy Tony Anselmo took over, and has been playing the voice of Donald since then.
The duck's first TV appearance was on June 9, 1934 in a Silly Symphony episode called The Little Wise Hen. This is why June 9 is recognised as Donald’s official birthday.
Brighton's Naked Bike Ride
As the temperatures soared the clothes came off and the sun screen was slapped on the naked bodies, and legs cocked over leather saddles as the annual Brighton Naked Bike ride took to the streets once again. This year it was estimated that a thousand riders pumped the peddles, with bottoms, breasts and plenty else were on display for the annual naked bike ride. Some day-trippers were seen doing a double take in disbelief as the peloton of bare flesh took in the sights of Brighton and Hove. With the mercury reaching 22C, people lathered themselves in sun cream to protect body parts perhaps not so used to the sun.
Duncan Blinkhorn, co-organiser, said: “It was a fantastic day. The weather behaved and we had close to 1,000 riders out there. “It was very hot and we doled out the sun cream. I think most people were well protected but there were some nasty looking burns.”
Mr Blinkhorn added: “The support was fantastic. We were cheered all along the route, as we are each year. “The day was all about showing you can have great fun on a bicycle on a Sunday afternoon – and all for free.” The event, which has been held in Brighton and Hove since 2006, is one of the biggest of its kind in the world
7th June 2014
Trains and Boats and Planes
It was a trip down memory lane this morning for me. I was out on my late morning walk and could not believe the amount of cars parked along my route. I spotted people standing in fields with cameras and binoculars. At first l imagined that some rare bird must be in the vicinity as this area is often populated by twitchers and bird watchers. As I walked towards that railway crossing I could see more people standing along the beach and around the railway line. My next thought was that it was an event linked to the D-Day landings the 70th anniversary of which is being celebrated the week. But on closer inspection the crowds were watching the railway line and not the coast line.
A whistle blows and steam fills the sky just along the coast at Newhaven Harbour as a steam train prepared to run along the single track from Newhaven to Seaford. It emerges that the train is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Seaford to Brighton railway line. This celebration trip left London Victoria early this morning to run down the mainline towards Brighton before branching off across the Sussex countryside heading for Seaford. To celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the opening of the Brighton to Seaford Railway Line. There will be events at most stations on the line, and at least 4 special trains between 10.0 and 4.00. Seaford is the destination for the dignitaries travelling the line to recreate the opening of Seaford Station.
During World War II Newhaven was an important embarkation port for the D-Day landings. t is 70 years since D-Day, the biggest amphibious assault in military history.
Yesterday on the anniversary itself, the Queen headed an international service of commemoration attended by royals, presidents and prime ministers.
Hundreds of veterans attended, but their numbers are dwindling. The youngest are well into their 80s. This will be the last significant anniversary most will witness.
Their stories of heroism and sacrifice, success and disaster will soon fade from living memory.
At one event more than 300 troops parachuted in to Ranville, the first village to be liberated.
Among them was 89-year-old Jock Hutton, who repeated the jump he made into France 70 years ago.
The Scottish 89-year-old veteran jumped in tandem from around 5,000 ft.
Hundreds of the last surviving D-Day veterans have gathered on both sides of the English Channel,
70 years on from the momentous World War Two mission.
5th June 2014
With the usual pomp and ceremony the Queen arrived for the annual State Opening of Parliament yesterday - this time in a brand new coach, gifted to her for her Diamond Jubilee.
But the other traditions - Black Rod knocking on the Commons door which is then slammed in his face - remained the same.
The Diamond Jubilee coach is only the second state carriage to be built in more than 100 years
The bodywork of the carriage features fragments of Henry VIII's warship the Mary Rose, Sir Isaac Newton's apple tree and the Stone of Destiny.
The handrails inside the Diamond Jubilee state coach are made from Royal Yacht Britannia timber and a wooden crown covered in gold leaf - which forms the centrepiece of the roof's decorations - was carved from oak from Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory.
Many of the historical items are pieces of wood which have been fashioned into small varnished squares used to decorate the interior walls and door panels.
The coach has modern features, however, such as six hydraulic stabilisers - covered in gold leaf - fitted to the carriage to ensure a smooth ride, as well as electric windows and heaters.
The coach was conceived and created by Jim Frecklington in his workshop in Manly, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. He has spent the last decade building the majority of the royal carriage, with the help of a host of artisans and craftsmen and women.
Mr Frecklington used to work for the Royal Household, looking after the Queen's show horses
'Very special' Mr Frecklington, who has travelled to London for the occasion, said: "I wanted to create something very special to mark the Queen's reign. "Our present Queen will go down in history as one of the greatest monarchs that's ever lived and I thought something very special, a tangible item, should be produced."
Mr Frecklington received initial funding from the Australian government but also used his own money to construct the carriage.
He added: "It will be a very special day to see this coach being used.
Talking about horse drawn vehicles, at the other end o of the scale the travelling community are meeting at Appleby in the north of England for their annual horse fair, Thousands of travellers are arriving in the small Cumbrian town of Appleby. The week-long event attracts members of the gypsy community from around the world.
However this year's Appleby Horse Fair has already been hit by a row over an 'invasion', as a large number of traveller families have pitched cars, caravans and horse buggies on the town's privately owned golf course.
The Gypsies Wash thier Horses in the River
Before running them down the road looking for a buyer
King James II granted a Royal Charter in 1685 allowing a horse fair to be held 'near the River Eden', and every year thousands of travellers come from around Britain and the rest of the world to take part.
The horse fair, which runs from today until next Wednesday, is the largest and one of the oldest fairs of its kind anywhere in Europe. Travellers and horse dealers gather at Appleby, in Westmorland, in the Eden Valley, Cumbria, to meet old friends, conduct business, but primarily to trade horses.
24th May 2014
I have just been listening to Conchita Wurst being interviewed by Graham Norton on BBC Radio 2.
He sounds like a really nice guy. He does have a very feminine voice which l am sure adds to his singing talant.
It is rumoured that Lady Gaga has asked Conchita along for her artRave: The ARTPOP Ball tour, according to reports.
Conchita’s victory was met with outrage by several homophobic Russian politicians.
The Huffington Post reports that Lady Gaga asked the drag artist to open for her during the tour.
It is thought that, despite only being asked about one specific date, 16 September in Istanbul, Conchita will be asked to go along for more dates.
A British film about gay activists supporting the miners’ strike has been awarded the ‘Queer Palm’ award at Cannes Film Festival.
Pride is based on the true story of how a group of gay activists decided to raise money to support the families of striking miners in 1984, forming bonds between the two very different communities.
The new president of the Boy Scouts of America has claimed that attempting to repeal a ban on gay adult members would provoke a split in the movement.
Robert Gates – who is former director of the CIA, and oversaw the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the US military as Defence Secretary – was elected President of the BSA on Thursday.
Speaking to supporters at the meeting, he said he would have gone further than just repealing the ban on gay youth members, but said he “fully accepts” the earlier decision.
He said: “I was prepared to go further than the decision that was made.
“In all candor, I would have supported going further, as I did in opening the way for gays to serve in the CIA and in the military.
“I would have supported having gay Scoutmasters, but at the same time, I fully accept the decision that was democratically arrived at by 1,500 volunteers from across the entire country.
When these two fun-loving gentlemen got in on the Mentos and Diet Coke craze, the results of their attempts were priceless.
For the uninitiated, when Mentos mints are dropped into a two-litre bottle of Diet Cola, a fierce chemical reaction is produced, shooting coke out with powerful force.
Some comic/inadvisable versions of the experiment have even used someone’s mouth as the test tube – making them projectile vomit Coke everywhere.
It would be sensible to say don’t try this at home but, as YouTube proves, you probably won’t listen.
22nd May 2014
Oh La La,
The French Present Le Fat Train.
The French along with the Swiss have one of the most
Enviable train systems in Europe. That was until the fat train came along.
The French train operator SNCF has discovered that 2,000 new trains it ordered at a cost of 15bn euros $20bn are too wide for many regional platforms. It is an embarrassing blunder that has so far cost the rail operator over 50m euros $68.4m; and the cost is likely to rise even further.
Construction work has already started to reconfigure station platforms.
The work will allow new trains room to pass through. But officials say that there are still 1,000 platforms to be adjusted.
The error seems to have happened because the national rail operator RFF gave the wrong dimensions to train company SNCF They measured platforms built less than 30 years ago, overlooking the fact that many of France's regional platforms were built more than 50 years ago when trains were a little slimmer. The platform edges are too close to the tracks in some stations which means the trains cannot get in, officials say.
A spokesman for the RFF confirmed they had "discovered the problem a bit late".
Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier blamed an "absurd rail system" for the problems.
"When you separate the rail operator from the train company," he said, "this is what happens."
The Queen Always Wears a Smile on Derby Day
At the age of 88, the Queen is often supposed to be slowing down as she takes on fewer engagements. As for the Duke of Edinburgh, on the eve of turning 93 one might have thought he should be allowed to put his feet up occasionally.
Instead the pair of them are about to embark on their busiest week since the Diamond Jubilee as they combine a hectic schedule of events at home with a state visit to France.
Their programme, which is of such a pace that it has raised eyebrows at the palace, will culminate in the Queen and the Duke undertaking a morning of engagements in Paris, only to dash back in time to attend the Derby. Let’s face it, the Derby is the last event thatshe would miss.
The Queen will also attend the 70th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings in Normandy.
“She is as busy as ever,” a royal source said. “This activity gives the lie to the suggestion that she is slowing down. We are marvelling at her stamina, really.
Brighton Pride's legendary street party is set to be a ticketed event for the first time in its history.
Festival bosses will take control of the St James' street party this year and plan to introduce a wristband system. Last year it was estimated that 30,000 people flocked to the enclosed confines of St James' Street for the Gay Village Party and organisers say the new system will mean a smaller, more manageable and safer gathering.
It could mean bars and shops will only sell alcohol to those with wristbands while access to St James' Street and Marine Parade will be restricted from 4pm on Saturday August 2.
Pride director Paul Kemp is urging supermarkets in the area, who traditionally make tens of thousands of pounds from sales during the Pride weekend, to sign up to the scheme and contribute to the costs of marshalling it.
The wristbands would cost £5 for both the Saturday and Sunday with £1 from sales going to the Rainbow Fund and covering additional expenses of security and toilet facilities.
Partygoers would not be allowed to bring alcohol or glass into the village party.
15th May 2014
Courageous teenager Stephen Sutton died peacefully in his sleep yesterday at the age of 19. Stephen was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 15. Rather than dwell on his misfortune, the teenager drew up a "bucket list" of things he wanted to achieve before he died.
This led to him completing a skydive and playing drums in front of 90,000 people before the Uefa Champions League final at Wembley last May, among various achievements. In doing so he raised more than £3.2m ($5.36m) for charity after news of his plight spread on social media.
The Facebook post announcing Stephen's death was shared more than 120,000 times within an hour of its publication. Donations to his online fundraising page, set up in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust, began to climb once again as the news of the teenager's death spread.
Justgiving, which hosts Stephen's online fundraising page, said its engineers had to "work quickly" to boost server capacity after a sharp increase in visitors to the site.
It said the campaign total had risen by about £60,000 in just over two hours.
Stephens Mum said in her statement: "My heart is bursting with pride but breaking with pain for my courageous, selfless, inspirational son.
There are Fairies at the bottom of our garden. Well almost, just a couple of miles down the road in Alfriston this weekend will be the Faerie Festival, which brings mystical entertainment from music, dance and arts Get out the Fairy Dust and get over to Sunny Sussex this weekend.
Cuckmere Bus with "The Longman of Wilmington" in the background.
Alfriston is a village at the heart of the Cuckmere Valley, which has also been in the news this week for its fabulous community bus service. Cuckmere Community Bus has been awarded the Community Transport Association’s Quality Mark. Only eight other community bus organisations throughout the country have received the award since it was introduced in 2012.
Cuckmere Buses is a volunteer-run company and has provided bus services in and around the Cuckmere Valley since 1976, operating 363 days a year. Philip Ayers, Cuckmere Buses’ managing director said: “We are pleased and proud to receive this award which reflects our vision of being the community bus service of choice in our area. It is a credit to our whole team of volunteers.”
Cuckmere Buses, which has some 75 volunteers, but no paid employees.
12th May 2014
'Rise Like a Phoenix'
Love it or hate it the Eurovision Song Contest is hear to stay amongst all the political voting tactics, it will always spring up the odd surprise and this year was no different, when bearded Conchita Wurst, a drag act from Austria won the Contest before a TV audience of around 180million people in 45 countries.with her song 'Rise Like a Phoenix' and then instantly took the internet by storm. Prior to her performance. Conchita faced a barrage of homophobic attacks from within her own country and from other countries including Russia, Armenia and Belarus, who branded the contest a 'hotbed of sodomy.
The controversial Austrian who's real name is Thomas Neuwirth, is one of the most popular winners to take home the trophy, speaking at the press conference after, Wurst said "I felt like tonight Europe showed that we are a community of respect and tolerance." Conchita could hardly hold back her emotion at the end of the evening as she received her trophy.
Pier to Pier
Hastings Pier in its Heyday
Along the Sussex Coast we have a number of pleasure piers that allow the public to walk over water, this afternoon we ventured along the coast to Hastings and had chance to survey the work being carried out to restore Hastings Pier.
The Arsonist Strikes
Hastings Pier was built in 1872 and enjoyed its prime in the 1930s, though becoming a popular music venue in the 1960s, it received major storm damage in 1990, closed to the public between 1999 and 2002, then closed again from 2006. Efforts continued to save the pier, which was in need of much investment. In the early hours of 5 October 2010 the pier suffered from a devastating fire (the second in its history) that destroyed 95% of its superstructure.
'Rise Like a Phoenix'
Following the setting up of a non profit organisation to save the pier, a grant was received from the Heritage Lottery for a total of £8.75m. Local support groups set about raising funds by selling shares in the new pier company. Hastings Pier Charity offered the £1 shares in October, with a deadline of last Saturday, hoping to raise £500,000.
It beat the target with buyers coming from overseas and from around the UK.
The first £200,000 raised through the share scheme will close the funding gap on the project, Mr Opie said. The rest would be used to help support commercial activity on the pier and help sustain it as a business.
It was interesting to come across a Community Heartbeat box at the entrance to the pier. The Community HeartBeat Trust is a national charity focused on provision of life saving defibrillation services to local communities.
10th May 2014
The Flora Dance
You know that spring has arrived when the people of Helston in Cornwall take to the streets for the Annual Flora Dance. Flowers and bunting adorned the houses and shops of the town yesterday as it celebrated the traditional May festival. The annual celebration to mark the arrival of spring saw the town come alive with music and dancing as residents paraded through the streets to drive out the darkness of winter and welcome the season of life and vitality.
The day got off to an early start with the morning dance setting off from the Guildhall at seven o’clock, led by Richard and Ceri Harvey. The second dance to wind through the town was the colourful Hal an Tow dance, which explores the history and mythology of Helston. Performers reenacted famous battles between “good and evil”, including St Michael’s defeat of the Devil and St George’s battle with the dragon.
Other dances from the day included the children’s dance and the evening dance,
One of the hightlights of the day is in the early afternoon when invited couples are dressed in morning suits and evening dresses and dance through the streets and shops, the route is abut 4 miles in length.
The music is provided by Helston Town Band, augmented by members of other local bands. They play from memory, as the music for the dance has never been written down.
More Signs of Equality
Married gay couples can now apply for a joint Coat of Arms, after rules governing their use were overhauled.
Updating its rules following the introduction of same-sex marriage in England and Wales, the College of Arms has opted to allow same-sex couples to combine their coats or create their own – a privilege previously reserved for straight couples.
Coats of Arms are traditionally passed down by birthright through the aristocracy, but they can also be granted on request. Sir Elton John became one of the first out gay men to be granted his own Coat of Arms in 1987, but he was not previously allowed to share it with his partner David Furnish.
Under the new rules, Furnish will also be granted use of the crest if the couple decide to marry.
When he was elected as the House of Commons Speaker in 2011, John Bercow was granted his own Coat of Arms, which he decorated with multiple gay rights symbols.
John Bercow who is married with three children . Mr Bercow has become known for his support of LGBT issues in his time as an MP and as Speaker.
Queen Takes a Little Time Out
Fresh evidence of how age is taking an increasing toll on the Queen emerged today after she made a last-minute decision to step down from a key role in the Order of the Bath service at Westminster Abbey. Her role will taken by Prince Charles. At 88 the decision, which Buckingham Palace said was “for the Queen’s comfort”, is the first public acknowledgement of her succumbing to the effects of old age since the announcement a year ago that she was cutting down on long-haul travel.
Pretty as a Princess
A five-year-old boy has been banned from a church run after-school club, because he likes to dress up as a princess.
Romeo Clarke, who attends St Marie’s Catholic Primary School in Rugby, has been banned from the Christian Fellowship’s Buzz Children’s Club, over concerns he would ‘confuse’ the other children.
His mother, Georgina Clarke, said: “His favourite film is Frozen and loves acting out the role of the princesses with his sisters.
“Wearing the dress is his choice and if wearing it makes him happy it’s fine with me.
8th May 2014
Would you believe it. London is world’s top attraction for tourists
London is a world beater according to today's figures
More foreign tourists flocked to London than any other city in the world last year, new figures revealed today. A total of 16.8 million people visited the capital — a rise of nine per cent — smashing the previous record of 15.6 million, set in 2006.
It means London overtakes Paris to become the world’s most popular destination.
More Americans visited London than tourists from any other country, with 1.88 million travelling to the capital, spending just over £1.5 billion. The French came second, with 1.87 million visiting, followed by 1.34 million Germans.
Tourists have provided a huge boost to the capital’s economy, spending a record £11.26 billion on hotels, restaurants, attractions and shopping, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “These record-breaking figures are a tribute to the outstanding mix of culture, art, music and sport to be found here and more is planned.
“With major international sporting events including the Rugby World Cup and the Tour de France and spectacular exhibitions at the Tate and the British Museum this year, it is clear that this wonderful city will not rest on its laurels.”
Tourism bosses said the growth in visitors was partly down to the “showcase” effect of the Olympics in 2012, when images of London were beamed across the world
The capital’s profile has also been boosted by the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and the birth of Prince George last year.
5th May 2014
Eastbourne Band Stand, the busiest Bandstand in the country has undergone the first phase of its restoration. The stunning transformation began after the last concert of the season in October and opened again in time for Easter. The works were required to correct structural issues after decades of winters and salt air has corroded the steel framework beneath the Bandstand’s stunning azure tiled roof.
Eastbourne Bandstand begins a stunning transformation this October, as the first phase of essential restoration work gets underway, which on completion will see the iconic seafront venue looking better than ever! Structural problems initially came to light during investigatory works in 2012 after a routine bi-annual survey. The works discovered serious defects, which required a full replacement to the main steel ring beam above the stage. A temporary steel frame in place since June 2012 has kept the venue functional and safe to use, while plans to replace the old frame have been co-ordinated with Eastbourne Borough Council and English Heritage, using specialist contractors.
Walking along the seafront this afternoon the bandstand looked resplendent with it’s shiny roof glinting in the sun. A full program of concerts are planned throughout the summer. The bandstand can also be hired for functions and weddings.
Cock to Cock
A South African artist has been found guilty by a Paris court of sexual exhibitionism for a performance during which he tied a rooster to his penis.
Steven Cohen, a 51-year-old gay artist was found guilty by the court, but no penalty was imposed as no complaint was filed against him and no sexual acts took place.
The artist was arrested in September for performing in a square near the Eiffel Tower, in which he wore platform shoes, a feathered headdress.
He danced for around ten minutes with the cockerel attached to his genitals before being arrested.
What I did was art, it had nothing to do with sexuality,” he said.
Oh Boy (scout)
Twin Eagle Scouts Liam and August earned the award last week, but one of them is being forced to leave the organisation because he is gay. Liam and August Easton-Calabria both earned the Eagle Scout badge on Sunday, but due to a Boy Scouts of America (BSA) policy which bans openly gay adults, Liam will be forced to leave the organisation.
The BSA in January lifted its ban on openly gay members, but kept in place a ban on gay adult scout leaders and volunteers. The twins have been boy scouts since the age of 11, but on his 21st birthday, Liam, a senior patrol leader, will no longer be allowed to participate in the BSA.
He came out as gay in high school.
Cuba will next week host an international LGBT conference for the first time ever. More than 400 people from across the world will travel to the communist country, for the sixth International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association for Latin America and the Caribbean (ILGALAC) Regional Conference.
Although homosexuality has been technically legal in Cuba since 1979, it was not until Raúl Castro took power from his brother in 2008 that the first gay rights marches were permitted, and there are still no discrimination laws, or recognition of same-sex couples.
Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro, was part of the committee that helped organize the conference, to be held in Varadero, just outside the capital Havana.
Be Careful What You Wish For
3rd May 2014
Princes Harry and William had a private encounter with The King yesterday when they were treated to a 30-minute private tour of Elvis’ home Graceland
The princes visited the white columned mansion in Memphis, Tennessee along with around 20 guests who are in the States for the wedding of Harry’s best pal Guy Pelly.
The party swept up to the historic home - where Presley died in 1977 - in four black people carriers.
The 13.8-acre estate was closed to the public for half an hour while the Royal party and their friends toured the iconic building.
The princes wore headphones as part of the tour that provided a running commentary on the King and Graceland's history.
Prince Harry is without a date for the wedding as he split from his girlfriend, Cressida Bonas, on the eve of the trip. An argument over the Pelly wedding was apparently the trigger for their break-up. Miss Bonas was also said to be unhappy with the media attention surrounding their relationship, including the focus on her dress sense.
A friend said: “The mobile camera phone menace has become a nightmare for her – imagine how you would feel if every time you stepped out of your door ordinary people started pointing mobile phone cameras at you.
Britain's Most Expensive Flat
Britain's most expensive FLAT sells for £140 MILLION - with no BATHROOM!
A LUXURY penthouse at one of London's most exclusive addresses has reportedly been sold for a record £140 million. A mystery Eastern European buyer is thought to have paid the astonishing sum for Penthouse D at One Hyde Park, making it Britain's most expensive flat.
Judge Jailed in UK
Britain’s first female black Judge , Constance Briscoe has been jailed for 16 months for lying to police.
Briscoe, 56, was convicted at the Old Bailey of three charges of perverting the course of justice in connection with the probe into how cabinet minister Huhne passed speeding points to his then-wife Vicky Pryce a decade ago.
What a Great Grandad
Isn’t this great - Some gay people worry about coming out to their grandparents, but this 80-year-old showed his grandson that there was nothing to worry about. In a show of support for his gay grandson, Frank Orvino took to a Chicago tattoo parlour, got an equality tattoo.
The equals sign tattoo matches that of his grandson Joe Skwarek, who came out to his grandfather first.
Cake of the Day
28th April 2014
Zainy Key West
Back home again after two glorious weeks in Key West. Thank you to everyone that made our stay special. It was nice to see the city still busy so late in the season and refreshing to see the restaurants doing great business once again. 915 is back at the top of our list at the moment. A great new menu in place with innovative ideas and flavors. The Rosemary crusted grouper was my favorite this trip, especial the little sunchoke fritters. Of course did not know what they were until the dish arrived and l tasted one to realize they were Jerusalem artichokes. Stuart and Josaphine and their regular team do a great Job.
On the subject of restaurants Azur remains our favorite for breakfast, we always try new places but invariably end up back at Azur. I love my scramble eggs or omelets
Lightly cooked and although l always ask to have them this way, Azur is the only one that delivers them as l want.
It is so sad to see the Gay Guest Houses turning straight. Oasis once one of the premier establishments on the island is turning into a pile them high sell them cheap bunkhouses. Six bunk beds to some rooms we are told.
Key West Flower of the Day
We were sorry to hear that Gerry the old manager from Oasis has suffered a stoke, Jorge informs us that Gerry is now getting a little movement back and managing to speak the odd word. We sincerely hope that he continues to make progress.
As you must all know by now the Island House is up for sale. Jon Allan hopes to move to California for his well-earned retirement, Steve Silver the manager for many years is also moving to California, his partner Charles has already relocated. The good news is that Julian Ward has been appointed manager. Congratulations Julian on a well-earned promotion we know you have your own ideas for making the Island House even better. Let’s hope the new owners who eventually buy the Island House keep it gay and keep on the current management team.
Most days we cycle around the island to see what is happening in paradise and to get some much needed exercise. We are hoping by our next visit that North Roosevelt will be finished. I cannot begin to imagine the amount of damage that has been done to the businesses during the prolonged road building. How dangerous it was for cyclists to cross over for the 200-yard diversion near home depot, why they could not open a cycle path up through that section dumbfounds me.
Why Oh Why is the Western Union lying idle in at schooner wharf. It is only four years ago that she was given a new lease of life with a $ 1 million refit; surely this money was misspent if the future of the ship was not secured.
Have you noticed the increase in iguana's on the cemetry
21st April 2014
Queen's 88th Birthday Photgraph by David Bailey
Happy Birthday Your Majesty.
Queen Elizabeth II is 88 years old today.
Her birthday was marked across the UK with traditional gun salutes.
A 41-gun royal salute was fired in Green Park in London and a 62-gun salute was fired from the Tower of London.
Back home “Across the Pond” in Brighton, Waterproof clothing saved this outdoor production of the Easter Story from becoming a complete washout.
We’re pretty sure this bit wasn’t in the Bible.
This ‘Jesus’ was forced to wear an anorak over his loin cloth because heavy rain pelted him as he was hung from a cross.
The actor was taking part in a performance of the Easter Story when the heavens opened up and drenched the cast.
Bad weather of biblical proportions had threatened the outdoor production of Passion Of The Christ, with organisers considering cancelling the event.
However, after the entire cast – including the 12 disciples – donned waterproof jackets the performance went ahead at St Peter’s Church in Brighton, East Sussex.
20th April 2014
As with all religious festival, the true meaning often gets caught up in commercialisation. - but many young people don't even know what Easter's all about. Each child in the UK receives an average 8.8 Easter eggs each year. Sales at Easter time make up 10% of UK chocolate spending for the whole year.
Decorated Easter eggs predate Easter, and both eggs and rabbits are age-old fertility symbols. The Passover Seder service uses a hard-cooked egg flavoured with salt water as a symbol both of new life at the Temple service in Jerusalem. The Jewish tradition may have come from earlier Roman Spring feasts. The ancient Persians also painted eggs for Nowrooz, their New Year celebration falling on the Spring Equinox.
Old Tosspot - Bold Slasher - Jolly Boys
In the north of England, my childhood home, we would decorate Pace Eggs, traditionally these eggs were boiled in onion skins to obtain a mottled effect. Pace Eggs were part of the Easter Sunday breakfast, but if they weren't eaten they might be used as household ornaments, in various egg-games, or given to bands of performers known as Pace Eggers, who were once a common sight in northern English villages.
In previous centuries, Pace Eggers were groups of locals who toured the villages at Easter enacting The Pace Egging Play. This was a drama that usually involved a character representing St. George, a battle, and an interesting individual known as Old Tosspot. It invariably detailed someone's unfortunate death (in some versions it's St. George, in others it's a Turkish Knight called Bold Slasher) and his subsequent revival by a comic doctor.
The Pace Eggers (alternatively known as Jolly Boys) were variously disguised. Old Tosspot would blacken his face with soot and some players wore masks. All had decorated costumes.
Old Tosspot's job was to collect gifts from the crowd. He carried a woven basket over one arm, and had a long straw tail that was full of sharp pins. He would swing this about, and anyone who tried to grab it would be painfully pricked by the pins. Old Tosspot would encourage the wounded (and any other onlookers) to toss gifts into his basket. Pace Eggs, coins, food, Old Tosspot didn't much care.
When the basket was full enough, the Pace Eggers would begin their Easter Play.
17th April 2014
It is a number of years since we set foot in the Chameleon Theatre in Eaton Street. Years ago we saw a production about two young visitors to Key West and there adventures. I think it was called Fools in Paradise or something similar.
The Club Chameleon has been shut for a number of years. It regularly features on the Key West Ghost tour. Rumor has it that it is the most haunted place in Key West. The Chameleon sits on top of the site where a horrific tragedy once took place. It is located across the street from the St. Paul's Episcopal Church of Key West. The legend goes that the wife of the Pastor of the church was in the building where the Chameleon club is now located with 14 children doing a bible study. The pastor, having just found out about an affair between his wife and the Deacon, went to the building and locked all entrances and exits and burned the building to the ground with the children and his wife inside. Some folks here have detected the smell of smoke, as well as that of burning flesh. Some say if you tap on the windows, the imprisoned children’s spirits will tap back.
The Chameleon has risen from the ashes once again and is now called Eaton Street Theatre. It has undergone a renovation program and is once again a venue for performing arts in Key West. Last night saw the world premier of a new play By Popular Demand is an original play by Mike Marrero and Landon Bradbary about getting a theater off the ground without burying the theater company under it. This world premiere production stars local favorites Bradbary, Brandon Beach, Pony Charvet, and Carolyn Cooper as well as fabulous weekly guest stars. The guest star last night was our very own Gordon Ross.
The theatre is laid out cabaret style with tables of four. Free beer was being served, until they acquire their liquor license. The floor to the theater is cement and the acoustics are very harsh as is the air conditioning. I think most of the audience were frozen to death on Wednesday night.
By Popular Demand is produced by On The Rock Productions as a fundraiser to send a student from the Florida Keys to the prestigious Performing Arts Project Young Performers Program this summer. For more information, visit ontherockkeywest.com.
Fleeced on Fleming
Whilst walking up Fleming Street yesterday we were accosted by three young gentlemen, “Do you want to buy some lemonade Mister” well re- agreed to buy a glass for a $1. While one young man was serving the lemonade one of the other young men was shaking the tip jar for another dollar. Very enterprising and very funny. We laughed about it all day. They were there again later in the afternoon still shaking the tip jar.
15th April 2014
Taste of Key West
Yet another blistering hot evening for Taste of Key West. In the early days of Taste when it was held near White Street Pier there was plenty of shade under the trees, now the only shade you can get is in the lee of the US Coast Guard ship. If it was hot for the punters can you imagine how hot it was for the hard pushed restaurant staff manning the stall. As we walked past 915’s stall Stuart was positively dripping as were his staff. I think a big thank you should go out to all the restaurant staff and the volunteers who make this event such a big fund raiser for AIDS Help.
A retirement home for gay and lesbian pensioners is to be opened in Madrid. The home, developed by the 26 December Foundation, will be opened next year in a state-of-the-art converted hotel in Lavapiés.
Federico Armenteros, the foundation’s president, said that society “thinks elderly LGTB don’t exist”.
He said the home would not exclude straight people, but would attempt to fill a gap in the market: “We’re not going to ask you who you sleep with when you apply, anyone can come, the only thing to bear in mind is that it specialises in elderly LGTBs.
During our October stay the Spanish boys were talking about a gay retirement home in Spain. Not sure if this is the same project.
Key West Flower of the Day
Every day this week is going be the same back wards:
Just a little something for you to think about._
Except of course if you live in the UK
15/4/14 does not do it.
Heard on Island House deck this week.
“Best we don’t tell Rough Riders that the deck was too hot to walk on”
Seen at Island House Pool Today - I can’t say.
But the guy was asked to sign his bar tab before he had finished.
12th April 2014
Western Union After Refit 2010
The Western Union was first launched in 1939 and spent the next three decades as a working wooden schooner laying and maintaining telegraph cables between the Caribbean and Key West. The old cable hut that connected Key West to Havana is still visible today next to the Southernmost Point buoy.
Western Union Showing Signs of Wear
Things went downhill for the boat after being discharged by the Western Union company but Historic Tours owned the boat for a decade until a major refit was called for. After the abrupt shutdown in 2007 Historic Tours donated the boat to the not for profit Preservation Society created to restore the boat and return it to service. They did the work, raising over one million dollars and spending years on the restoration.
Western Union Showing Signs of Rot
The Western Union was relaunched in June 2010.
This morning we were walking past the Western Union tied up near schooner whalf and were very distressed to see that the restoration work is not bearing up very well.
There are signs of rot and it looks like it will not be very long before a major amount of work will be required to bring her back to ship shape and Bristol fashion.
Have you spotted this gate in Old Town Key West
Nigel Evans MP
Back home in the UK Former Commons deputy speaker Nigel Evans has been cleared of rape and all other sexual assault charges. Mr Evans, 56, denied rape, two indecent assaults, five sexual assaults and an attempted sexual assault against seven young men from 2003 to 2013.
Mr Evans always maintained his innocence. The gay MP was first arrested in May last year.
The rape complainant, aged 22, told the jury he was assaulted by Mr Evans after a dinner party at the defendant’s home in Pendleton, Lancashire, in March last year.
But the 56-year-old MP said the sex was consensual.
Friends of Mr Evans cheered as the foreman of the jury read out the last of the not guilty verdicts having deliberated for five hours and 45 minutes.
Hair removal company Veet has pulled an advert deemed “homophobic”, and “sexist”, saying it will “rethink” the campaign which suggested women with leg-stubble were “dudes”.
The campaign featured videos of a man waking up in bed with what he thinks is a woman, until he touches a leg which is draped over him. to discover a bearded man who speaks with a woman’s voice.
The tag-line of the ad states: “Don’t risk dudeness”, as the bearded man says: “Yeah I know I’m a little prickly, I shaved yesterday” As the voiceover states “Veet wax strips. Feel womanly around the clock”, the bearded man turns into a woman.
8th April 2014
Fantastic Orchid Spotted on Fleming Street this Morning
On arriving in Miami International our flight was running a little late and we had a connecting flight to make to Key West, on stepping off the plane we were greeted by a purple jacketed airline agent who handed us a bright orange folder and told to go to immigration gate Number 29. Another agent directed us to an immigration agent and after a short wait we were called forward. We were even processed as a couple, something that has only happened once before in Florida. Perhaps attitudes are changing at last.
Straight from customs an agent spotted our orange folder and directed us to a priority lane at the security gate, straight through no fuss and we were on our way via skytrain to gate D60 with ten minutes to spare before the plane boarded. It was excellent service from the One World Alliance between British Airways and American Airways. I wish airline connections were always so smooth.
Just over half an hour in the air and we touched down at Key West International.
When we arrive in Key West we always play a game of who will be the first person that we know. Well this trip was one of the quickest, as we stepped out of the terminal building we bumped into Greg O’Grady. It was good to see him looking so well.
The second person to see was Randy Thompson. Always loved chatting to his Dad, sorry that he has gone.
We were surprised just how busy part of Duval street were last night. After a walk to The Southernmost and back t was time for bed. After all we had been on the go for over twenty hours.
5th April 2014
What do you get when two heads meet, well of course a basket of groceries and a gift for your great grandson. This week the Queen has met Pope Francis for the first time, during a one-day visit to the Italian capital, Rome. The head of the Church of England and the head of the Catholic Church meeting in the Vatican was described as a private one and pomp and protocol were kept to a minimum.
This was the first time that the Queen broke with Vatican protocol and did not wear black and a veil, instead she wore lilac.
The Queen has cut down on foreign visits and this is the first visit she had undertaken since her trip to Aujstralia in 2011. Well at the age of 87 it is time that she sat back and took life a little easier.
Arriving at the Vatican, the Queen shook hands with the Pope and said "Sorry to keep you waiting, we were having lunch with the president." The Queen and Prince Philip later had tea with the Pope in a suite of rooms in the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall, close to the Casa Santa Marta, the guest house in the Vatican where the Pope has chosen to live.
Pope Francis, who does not speak English and has never been to Britain, seemed amused if slightly baffled, by the Queen's gift. He received a food hamper of produce from the Royal estates in England and Scotland which included honey from Buckingham Palace gardens, whisky from Balmoral and jams and chutney from Sandringham. The Pope is expected to share the hamper among the residents of the guest house where he lives with other Vatican clerics.
Pope Francis's gift to the British Royal Family was more in keeping with traditional papal gifts - a small orb made of lapis lazuli with St Edward's cross on top. "It is for the Queen's eight-month old great-grandson Prince George," Pope Francis explained.
"He will be thrilled with it,' the Queen told the Pope, adding after a pause - "When he is a little older."
Here in England we are having a very sporting day. Two of our famous sporting events take place on the same day, The 160th Boat Race between crews from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. First raced in 1829, The Boat Race is one of the oldest sporting events in the world. The Race takes place close to Easter each year on the River Thames.
The Crews Prepare to Weigh In
The first race took place in 1829 in Henley on Thames following a challenge between old school friends. Since the second race in 1836 the contest has taken place in London.
Since the competition started Cambridge lead the series with 81 victories to Oxford's 77, with one dead-heat in 1877.
The other event to take place this afternoon is the Grand National. Probably the greatest jump race in the world. First run officially in 1839, it is a handicap steeplechase over 4 miles with horses jumping 30 fences over two circuits. It is the most valuable jump race in Europe, with a prize fund of £1 million in 2014.
With 40 horses lining up at the starting gate it is always anybody;s race. It is a long and arduous course and attracts a lot of betting by professional better’s and from Jo Public Punters.
Willie is not your average cat. He is so smart that after unrolling the toilet roll he then rolls it right back up again.
Tom Daley has revealed he's happy to call himself "a gay man now", five months after coming out as being involved in a relationship with a man.
The diving champion, admitted on ITV2's 'Celebrity Juice' that he was terrified of coming out initially. Tom explained that he had been overwhelmed by the support he had received from people, including one elderly lady who told him his video had prompted her son to come out as gay to her, despite being married with children.
31st March 2014
This evening on Channel 4 ‘Our Gay Wedding: The Musical’, will air at 10pm. The programme, hosted by Stephen Fry, is the work of grooms Benjamin Till and Nathan Taylor, who decided to write and stage their real wedding as a musical.
The wedding, which took place at Alexandra Palace on Saturday, includes sung readings and vows, and features the whole congregation of family, friends and special guests, including Gok Wan, actress Julie Hesmondhalgh, Peter Tatchell, former Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone, and Pink News publisher Benjamin Cohen.
The programme will also include special messages for the couple from Boy George, Will Young, Paul O’Grady, Olivia Newton John, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, and performances from The Feeling, Erasure singer Andy Bell and The London Gay Men’s Chorus, among others.
Benjamin and Nathan, who both work in musical theatre, said: “We’ve been together for nearly 12 years, and never thought we’d get the chance to get married, for real.
“Doing what we both do for a living has meant that we’ve spent our entire lives expressing emotion through song, so getting married in a musical, particularly one that we’re writing ourselves, felt like the most natural thing in the world.”
Not all was peace and light at the Same-Sex Marriage celebrations. A Gay pub was torched in suspected arson attack on equal marriage weekend. Police have arrested a man following a fire the gay pub in Wales, which left one man seriously injured, and another five people needing hospital treatment.
The man, in his thirties, was held on suspicion of arson after the blaze at the Three Crowns Inn.
Police say there is no reason to suggest the pub was targeted because it is an LGBT venue.
Bishop Alan Wilson
Gay priests should marry despite Church ban, says UK bishop
Bishop Alan Wilson urged gay clergy to take a stand and marry their partners, despite the Church of England banning gay clergy from marrying. Rt Revd Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, believes LGBT clergy can find their way around the Church restrictions on gay marriage.
‘For them to get married is following a deeply conscientious path’ he said.
‘They believe they are fulfilling their ordination vow to by getting married not just shacking up with their friend.
‘You even have this extraordinary situation where there are gay-partnered bishops – so that gay-partnered bishops are saying to gay-partnered clergy ‘why are you marrying Fred?’ and the only logical answer is ‘Why aren’t you marrying Tom?’
The guidelines stated that gay priests marrying would be banned, as it would be ‘clearly at odds’ with the Church.
Furthermore, gay couples would be denied official blessings by priests and could only receive special prayers from their priest. What a load of mitre and sceptre.
29th March 2014
Same Sex Marriage has finally arrived in the England and Wales, At Midnight last night the first gay couples took the plunge and tied the knot, many celebrations lasting through the night. Today even more couples will marry.
Prime Minister David Cameron celebrated the introduction of same-sex marriage today, comparing same-sex marriages to his own, and noting the work still to be done for equality.
This weekend is an important moment for our country. For the first time, the couples getting married won’t just include men and women – but men and men; and women and women. After all the campaigning we will at last have equal marriage in our country. Put simply, in Britain it will no longer matter whether you are straight or gay – the State will recognise your relationship as equal.
Those in Civil Partnerships have been told that they will be able to convert to marriage by the end of 2014.
Shortly after midnight pictures started to appear of twitter of the first happy couples
Congratulations to everyone who made it happen, and to those tying the knot today, and in the coming year.
On the comment and diary pages of the Evening Standard newspaper, the masthead’s iconic logo was printed in rainbow colours today, to celebrate the first same-sex marriages
A man who endured years of constant pain after a motorcycle accident has chopped off his own left hand with a homemade guillotine because doctors refused to do it for him.
Mark Goddard claims he was left with no choice but to do the job himself after surgeons told him they could not amputate his arm while he still had a healthy hand. He said that nerve damage to his arm has left him in agonising pain since the accident in 1998.
Mr Goddard, 44, said that if surgeons still refuse to cut off his arm above the elbow he will do it himself.
He spent two weeks building the guillotine in his garden shed using an axe, weights and powerful springs. He says he felt no pain as the blade sliced through the bone but had to finish the job with a scalpel to sever the remaining tendons.
He performed the self-amputation in his back garden while his wife was out in the front cleaning the car, before throwing the severed hand into a bucket of red hot charcoal to make sure it could not be reattached.
The former garage owner, who lives in Newton Abbot, Devon said: “I used three bandages and cable ties to contain the blood before scalding the artery. I then texted my wife to call an ambulance and then went inside to admit what I’d done. She was horrified.”
On a lighter note – Dear Penis
27th March 2014
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has ordered the rainbow flag to be flown at Whitehall in order to mark the historic arrival of equal marriage in England and Wales this weekend, On Saturday 29 March, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act for England and Wales comes into force. Scores of same-sex weddings will take place at the stroke of midnight. Nick Clegg said “Raising the rainbow flag on Whitehall is a small symbol to celebrate a massive achievement. I want to wish everyone getting married this weekend the very best of luck, on what is a truly momentous occasion.”
The British Museum banned ancient Chinese artefacts from a book on the gay history of the world because it did not want to jeopardise negotiations for a Ming exhibition, the book’s author said yesterday. Richard Parkinson said that while the museum was supportive of the gay history project, it had told him that China was too “risky”.
Warren Cup Shows Gay Sex
He said: “The only culture not represented is China. It was considered too risky. A Ming porcelain exhibition was being negotiated at the time and I was told not to include China.”
The museum is due to host Ming: 50 Years that Changed China in September.
Mr Parkinson, who was a senior curator at the museum but left to become Professor of Egyptology at the University of Oxford, also criticised the museum shop’s postcard of the Warren Cup, a Roman drinking cup featuring images of male sex acts. He said that it was almost impossible to produce an image of the cup without showing some of the sex but that the museum had managed it.
This video goes to show that music really does unite the world.
Jus watch the crowd reaction as the music builds.
24th March 2014
Oh goodness, first they have a Pope that is human, now we have a nun with a great voice who can belt it out with the best of them.
The look on the faces of the judges on the Italian version of “The Voice” was priceless. Sister Cristina Scuccia, is going viral and could be headed for international stardom after wowing the jury of “The Voice of Italy,” with her rendition of Alicia Keys’ “No One.”
A video of the 25-year-old Sicilian nun belting it out while bopping on stage during a blind audition in her black habit and a large cross necklace has scored more than 19 million views on YouTube.
Sister Cristina who reportedly took her vows in 2010 after a rebellious adolescence, has been training as a singer for years and previously auditioned for several other TV talent shows, including X-Factor in Italy.
Can you handle the “Ulti-Meatum” Giant Burger
A chip shop boss has turned a giant TV cartoon food into reality by cooking a 10,000-calorie burger. Dubbed the ‘Ulti-Meatum’, the sandwich created by Corinne Clarkson, 39, in Preston, Lancashire, is a cheeseburger encased in another burger and held together by two buns, also made from burgers. The dish - being sold for £20 ($32) at the Mister Eaters restaurant in the city - is modelled on a meal from The Best Burger In The World episode of Cartoon Network hit The Regular Show.
To a fox, a chicken coop is probably synonymous with dinner.
But not this one - who was found by schoolchildren keeping a nest of freshly laid eggs warm while hens happily pecked nearby.
The creature, who looked somewhat startled to have been discovered, was discovered by schoolchildren in Portsmouth, Hampshire.
And rather than run away, the fox stayed perfectly still while school office manager Jane France took a few pictures.
The 57-year-old said: 'I don't suppose I'll ever take another photo like that!
'The chickens were quite happily scratching around in the garden - oblivious to the fox in their coop keeping the eggs warm.'
22nd March 2014
Stoli has designed a cocktail to celebrate the first same sex marriages in the UK
With only seven days togo to the first Same –Sex marriages in the UK, the battle still seems to rage across many of the states in the USA. Only this week we hear of a Methodist minister who has been suspended for officiating at the same-sex wedding of two men in their 80s.
Retired United Methodist minister Bill McElvaney, in January announced that he would officiate at the wedding of Jack Evans and George Harris, both in their 80s, and who had been together for 53 years.
85-year-old Reverend McElvaney of Northaven United Methodist Church has now announced that he has been suspended for up to 90 days, following a complaint by Reverend Camille Gaston.
After officiating at the ceremony, he said: ”The marriage of George and Jack is a sign of God’s love and their love for each other and our love for one another.
SIZE MATTERS TO SOME
Do you think penis size matters? A study says it does – but only in some situations
According to a new study carried out here in Sunny Sussex, penis size does matter to some people, but they may not be the ones you would expect.
University of Brighton senior lecturer Dr Christopher Morriss-Roberts suggests that in the bedroom, penis size doesn’t matter, but that to sportsmen in a locker room the situation is different.
Some of the gay respondents said they felt self conscious changing in front of straight men, and one saying he thought it might be ”unfair to change in front of heterosexual athletes, in case they felt uncomfortable”. While straight athletes said they attempted to maintain semi-erections so their penises looked bigger, gay athletes didn’t as they felt they had to act in a ”heteronormative manner to de-emphasize queer behaviour”. Writing for OutSports, Dr Morriss-Roberts said: “This knowing of who has a large c*ck and who didn’t within a homosocial environment helped individual sporting males climb up a social hierarchy of importance, “Those with the larger penises were revered and idolised by their teammates as a symbol of masculinity.” The size of teammates appendages also were the basis for jokes outside of the locker room, and were discussed and joked about in social situations.
In researching his PHD, Dr Morriss-Roberts interviewed four straight athletes and four gay ones, all who play a variety of sports like tennis, football and rugby. His findings suggested that the athletes, gay and straight, were likely to look at other men’s penises in the changing room, comparing different sizes. It also found that athletes were likely to “idolise” those with larger penises, and those teammates were more likely to be leaders in the team.
20th March 2014
Happy 97th Birthday Dame Vera
Sussex resident Dame Vera Lynn sets her sights on getting another No 1 at the grand age of 97. Dame Vera is to launch a new album of morale boosting songs. The album, Vera Lynn: National Treasure — The Ultimate Collection, includes classics such as We’ll Meet Again, The White Cliffs of Dover, and You’ll Never Know, as well as some unreleased tracks discovered by her daughter, Virginia. It will be released on June 2.
Dame Vera, who celebrates her 97th birthday today, said: “I think it’s wonderful that my songs are still enjoyed, especially if it encourages people to commemorate what happened 70 years ago. It’s moving for me to relive those days, and humbling to know that people still think of me — after all, it was simply my duty to keep singing.”
Dame Vera holds the record for being the oldest living artist to get a No 1 album, after We’ll Meet Again: the Very Best of Vera Lynn beat Arctic Monkeys in the charts in 2009.
The Pound in Your Pocket
We will soon be having a new coin jingling in our pockets along with the plastic notes that we are soon to use here in the UK. The new £1 coin, billed by the Royal Mint as the "most secure coin in the world", is to be introduced in 2017. The move comes amid concerns about the 30-year-old coin's vulnerability to counterfeiting, with an estimated 45 million forgeries in circulation.
The new coin is based on the design of the old threepenny bit, a 12-sided coin in circulation between 1937 and 1971.
The Old Threepenny Bit
The Old Pound Note
Find the Perfect SlingBack
Have you ever longed for that comfortable old pair of shoes to last forever. Well fear not a new APP is available to find you the perfect pair of shoes for your tired old feet. The FindSimilar For Shoes program picks up on the shape, texture and design from a photograph and matches it to similar products on an online database. It recognises more than just colours and shapes, which means that as well as uncovering high-street copies of catwalk looks, it claims to identify shoes to match your tried-and-tested pairs for comfort. Although similar software has existed to match clothes from magazines with items online, this is the first to identify the more complex shapes of shoes. The technology copies the way the brain processes images. It matches shape, then colour, then details, such as a strap.
Faberge Egg hits the Streets
Can you imagine finding a Faberge egg at a bric-a-brac market. That is exactly what happened to an American scrap metal dealer. A scrap-metal dealer who bought an ornament at a bric-a-brac market discovered that it was a £20 million Fabergé egg. Antiques experts hailed the extraordinary find as the “holy grail of the antiques world resurfacing” after the egg, originally designed for the Russian royal family more than 100 years ago, turned up at a stall in the United States.
The piece, one of more than 50 Imperial Easter Eggs designed by Carl Fabergé, was commissioned by Tsar Alexander III and given to his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna, at Easter 1887.
It is considered to be one of the most beautifully crafted eggs ever designed, sitting on an elaborate, jewelled gold stand, measuring 8.2cm in height and containing a Vacheron Constantin watch inside.
After the Russian Revolution all the eggs were seized by the Bolsheviks and most were sold to the West, with several going missing.
This egg was last recorded in Moscow in 1922 before it was spotted several decades later by the unnamed dealer, who buys and sells gold for its scrap value. He bought the egg ten years ago for $14,000 (£8,000), believing that he could make a profit of about $500, but struggled to sell it on, with no one wanting to buy the ornament for more than its original value.
It became a financial burden to its unknowing owner and one evening, in despair, the owner tapped the words “egg” and “Vacheron Constantin”, a name etched into the timepiece, into the Google search engine. A newspaper article about the egg’s survival was among the search results and it included comments by Kieran McCarthy, director of the Fabergé experts Wartski, in Mayfair, London.
Mr McCarthy said: “He flew to London and came to see us. It was the first time he had ever been to Europe. He was absolutely frantic about whether it was the Fabergé egg or not. It was an absolute blessing he kept the egg.” Mr McCarthy made the return trip to the US to verify the egg. “I examined it and said, ‘You have an Imperial Fabergé Easter Egg’, and he practically fainted.” He has since sold the egg for an undisclosed sum.
17th March 2013
Clarissa Dickson Wright , one half of the televison cooking due “ Two Fat Ladies “passed away this weekend. At 66 she had been ill since Christmas and was in hospital in Edinburgh when she passed away.
Dickson Wright's agents, Heather Holden-Brown and Elly James, said she died on Saturday in Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary and said she was 'loved dearly' by her friends.
They said Dickson Wright 'hadn't been well for a little while', and had been in hospital since the beginning of the year. They declined to comment on the nature of her illness. In a statement, the agents said: 'In recent years, Clarissa often said: "I’ve had a fantastic life and I’ve done everything I could have wanted to do and more".
'During her time in hospital, she was endlessly touched and impressed by the care of the doctors, nurses and support staff, aware of the pressure under which they worked and the fact that sometimes their work was not as valued as it should have been.
'Only a couple of weeks before her death, she was ringing friends asking them to check the (very occasional) general knowledge crossword clue she was struggling with.
'Loved dearly by her friends and many fans all over the world, Clarissa was utterly non-PC and fought for what she believed in, always, with no thought to her own personal cost.
'Her fun and laughter, extraordinary learning and intelligence, will be missed always, by so many of us.'
He’s one of the most famous sportsmen in the world and now you can view him from every angle, well sort of.
The internal Google StreetView for the recently opened London Aquatics Centre, in the Olympic park in Stratford in East London contains an ‘easter egg’ image of Daley. The star is photographed at the top of the diving platform that saw him win a bronze medal in 2012.
An Unofficial Guide to Customs & Rules of Turkish Oil Wrestling
The Kirkpinar ("Forty Springs") in Edirne, Turkey is the annual world series of Yag (greasy wrestling), the Turkish national sport. Kirkpinar #639 was held in 2000, making this the oldest continuing sporting event in the world. Almost 1,000 entrants from throughout Turkey compete in a three-day elimination tournament.
There are thirteen categories, each with a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winner:
(1) Bas, Pehlivan (chief wrestler), (2) Bas,alt? (under chief); (3) Bu"yu"k Orta (big medium), (4) K. Orta Bu"yu"k Boy (small medium big size), (5) K. Orta Ku"çu"k Boy (small medium small size); (6) Deste Bu"yu"k Boy (supporting big size), (7) Deste O. Boy supporting medium size), (8) Deste Ku"çu"k Boy (supporting small size) ; (9) Toz Koparan ("kickers up of the dust"), (10) Tesvik ("encourager"), (11) Minik-2 ("small and sweet 2") (12) Minik-1 ("small and sweet 1"), (13) En Iyi Pes,rev (best beginner). These divisions are not set by weight alone, as in the U.S. and Europe; rather pairs are chosen by a kind of judges' handicapping that considers size, age and "track record." The sole exception is the top category (Bas, Pehlivan), in which match ups are decided by a lottery in full view of the stadium crowd. An ancient Moslem adage says that men should be lifelong wrestlers, "from seven to seventy." The age range at a modern Kirkpinar is approximately from twelve to forty. Day One is devoted entirely to the lower categories; days Two and Three involve all thirteen categories.
At the tournament's conclusion champions' medals and purses are awarded, usually by the President of Turkey and by its political and military leaders. The cost of these is borne by the year's Ag(a (Lord), a merchant benefactor who underwrites much of the festival expenses and who presides over the matches in a regal Ottoman-era costume.
Before matches begin the pehlivans ("wrestlers" or "heroes") oil their bodies with a mixture of olive oil and water so that they can endure the heat of the day in a bout which until modern times was fought without a time limit. Originally embraced as the basic method for conditioning the Sultan's Janissaries (the "Marines" of the Ottoman armies), oil wrestling is more about strength and endurance than clever moves. Each fighter wears a kispet, sturdy leather trunks from the waist to below the knees. He also wraps coarse cloths around his knees in order to block the opening of the cuffs against his opponent's probing fingers. There is no headgear, and the inevitable cauliflower ears are worn as badges of manliness. The writing in metal studs on his butt indicates his name or his sponsoring club, usually his home town.
All fighters in a given division line up along one side of the field and are introduced by the Cazg?r (announcer or master-of-ceremonies). He summons them in Allah's name to manly valor on the field of battle, as the pairs of opponents join hands. The pipe-and-drum band begins playing and each wrestler starts his pes,rev, a symbolic journey into the wilderness, a hero's quest. He wanders into the field, kneeling for prayer, leaping, working himself up for the ordeal. Four times he meets his opponent, and they exchange symbolic greetings. After the last greeting they shake hands and begin the battle, each pair with its assigned referee. The match is not confined to any one part of the field, and often ranges over a large area with the referee running to keep up. Under modern rules they have approximately 30 minutes to decide a winner. Failing that, the referee pauses the match and sends them off to the judges' stand. There they re-oil their bodies, wrap identifying ribbons around their ankles, and begin a "sudden death" overtime. The first wrestler to take his opponent down and gain the advantage position is declared the winner. They then embrace, and the winner registers his victory with the clerk. That qualifies him for the next heat in his division against another winner. He seldom has much leisure time to recover.
How a Winner is Decided
The essential pin in Yag(l? Gu"res, is similar to that in Greco-Roman wrestling (which, incidentally, is neither Greek nor Roman, but a modern European adaptation. Except for covering their nakedness with a kispet – which is an act of male modesty commanded by Mohammed – the Turks claim that theirs is closest to the classic Greek style). The first wrestler whose "umbilicus is exposed to heaven" loses the match. Holding of the shoulders to the ground for a period of time is not an element in the pin.
There are alternatives to this basic pin which also constitute a victory:
(1) The "crush." A fighter may maneuver his opponent onto his stomach and then trap him by sprawling on top. If he can keep him down with his face buried in the grass he can then turn his exhausted opponent with a half-nelson for a pin. This is a dangerous move, and the referee monitors closely to see that the bottom man is not suffocated. If the "crusher" is not successful after a given period the referee has them begin again from a standing position.
(2) Submission. Occasionally the match under a hot summer sun is so long and arduous that one fighter will simply signal his submission to the referee. Pin.
(3) Since a wrestler is not restricted from placing his hands inside his opponent's kispet (he may not grab his balls or invade his rectum, however), he can also use the waistband to hold the other man in place. Occasionally the kispet is yanked so far below his hips that the fighter being held cannot rise without exposing himself. Having lost his trunks he also loses the match.
(4) If a fighter is able to lift his opponent entirely off the ground and carry him five paces in any direction, that is a "carrying" pin.
(5) A running "flip" is sometimes employed, in which the wrestler causes both his opponent and himself to expose their navels during the roll. The loser is the one whose navel is first to be exposed. Unless the initiator of this move is careful, he may find himself the loser even though he was the "flipper."
The extraordinary (by western standards) sportsmanship and mutual respect between Turks is most clearly displayed whenever one gets a bit of grass in his eye or needs to adjust his kispet. Without any particular signal from the referee they simply disengage and correct the situation. If water is needed to wash out an eye it is the opponent who runs to fetch it. If sweat has blinded the eyes of a wrestler they stop long enough for the referee to hand each of them a wad of cheesecloth for wiping. Often winner and loser will walk off the field together arm in arm. If one fighter is injured and a stretcher crew is unavailable it is his opponent who will assist him off the field.
The rules are few in comparison to those governing western styles, relying more on a tradition of comradeship than upon detailed prohibitions. A wrestler may grab his opponent's kispet in any way which helps him with a throw, or to control or for a pin. Sometime he will thrust his arm down the other's kispet up to his armpit in order to obtain leverage. Despite this freedom, the intentional fouling of a wrestler is almost unheard of.
Hitting is a little more problematic, and the referee's discretion is the only real arbiter. Open-handed blows to the back of the opponent's neck, trying to shove his head down, are common. Usually the opponent will respond with the same blow. Even hitting the face with an open hand is tolerated, although that can lead to impromptu fisticuffs and flared tempers. The referee then halts the action and admonishes both wrestlers before they can continue. On very rare occasions of flagrantly bad sportsmanship the referee will award the match to the victim.
We often receive inquiries about these wrestlers' conditioning and weight-lifting routines. The fact is that weight rooms and gyms are very rare in Turkey. Their exceptional physiques and world-famous endurance are chiefly the result of constant practice wrestling from a very early age. For centuries wrestling has been their favorite pastime, at home, on picnics, whenever. Turkish public schools do not have extensive sports programs, but there is a wrestling club in practically every community. Only one club that we know of has an indoor year-round facility (in Ankara). The rest troop out into a field near town where there is sufficient grass to soften the impact of being slammed around, and the og(retmen (teacher) and his og(renci (students) have at it until they can't see one another in the darkness. There are approximately forty major tournaments in Turkey throughout the year, and clubs will travel hundreds of miles to compete. A wrestler is a highly respected member of his community, although winners' purses are, by western standards, a modest reward for the most physically demanding sport in the world.
8th March 2014
It came as no surprise to hear the The Island House in Key West is being put up for sale by owner Jon Allen. Jon sadly lost his partner Martin recently and has decided to move to California. We have seen the Island House rise from the ashes like the phoenix into the splendid resort that it is today; it is Jon’s hope that it will be sold to a sympathetic person or group that will keep it gay. We sincerely hope that it will not go the way of Oasis and Big Ruby’s.
Finally The Queen Acknowledges Gay People
The Queen has congratulated one of Britain’s oldest LGBT charities in a rare moment of acknowledgement for LGBT people. In her 62-year reign of the UK and the Commonwealth, the 87-year-old monarch has never once visited or become a patron of an LGBT charity.
She is a patron of over 600 charities – but none of them are for LGBT rights and the monarch has never publicly voiced her support of equal rights.
However, the Queen appeared to break with her own self-imposed protocol after it was revealed last night that she had congratulated the London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard as part of its 40th anniversary.
In her message the Queen said: “Best wishes and congratulations to all concerned on this most special anniversary.”
Stonewall's Step to stamp out Bullying at School
Gay rights charity Stonewall has launched a new film for primary schools in a bid to tackle homophobic bullying. Every primary school in Britain will receive a copy of ‘Free’ complete with a detailed lesson plan, which helps teachers curb bullying and celebrate different families.
Treasures Sold at Sotherby's
Al Capone's silver-plated cocktail shaker, an armchair once owned by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and a cut-glass claret jug from the Titanic.
They are just three of the items from the private collection of American art enthusiast Stanley Seeger, described as the 'greatest of our time' were sold at Auction in London this week.
Many of the works in the collection had irresistible stories to tell, making them even more desirable to collectors in search of beautiful and whimsical objects that had brushed with history. Among such pieces were:
Orson Welles’ own working copy of the script of Citizen Kane which soared above estimate, sold for £98,500 ($164,229) well over the estimate of £15,000-20,000. Dated 30 April to 9 May 1940, the script, here with the film’s original title “American”, was twice inscribed on the cover “Mr Welles’ working copy”. This extraordinary rarity sheds a fascinating insight into the making of Citizen Kane – widely acknowledged as among the very greatest films ever made. Welles kept few mementoes of his films and only one other of his Citizen Kane scripts is recorded.
Al Capone’s cocktail shaker sold for £50,000 ($83,365), 50 times the pre-sale low estimate. Engraved “To A ‘REGULAR GUY’ From THE BOYS 1932”, the silver shaker was by repute given to Al Capone by some of his associates as a Christmas gift.
Who said the French have no sense of humour.
Watch this great little video of two young men doing a towel dance.
6th March 2014
I have always been a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan Opera and certainly her in UK Gilbert & Sullivan is often the introduction to classical music. When we saw the HMS Pinafore was coming to Eastbourne we promptly booked our seats? This production was to be a little different. D’Oyly Carte Opera Company used to control all productions of G & S and they were staged on traditional sets with traditional costumes. Since they lost the strangle hold many interesting productions have sprung up putting a different slant on the age-old operettas.
This production breaks further bounds by offering it with an all male cast.
Set below the deck of a Second World War battleship during a lull in activity, the crew perform for their own amusement Gilbert and Sullivan’s tale of love between social classes.
Simple staging allows plenty of witty invention without losing respect. No attempt is made to put men in full drag for the female roles – costumes come from life vests, scarves and head bows. The transition from butch sailors to sisters, cousins and aunts is sheer delight.
The sailors are a delight visually as they change from casual wear into sailor suits as they wake from their bunks and get a copy of the score to follow as the production gets underway. Once started the musical score runs as expected, but l detected some slight changes of words. Or perhaps it was because l had not seen pinafore for a number of years.
There were some very inventive dance routines when sailors swapped from the butchness of a life at sea into whimpering female chorus girls.
Amazing male falsetto singing comes from Alan Richardson and Alex Weatherhill for their singing as Josephine and Buttercup. Comedy comes from David McKechnie as Sir Joseph, while Richard Russell Edwards is gloriously camp as first cousin Hebe.
There is no orchestra for this production, just a single piano, just how l heard my first productions in my 20’s. But it does mean that the lyrics can be heard with clarity.
The production is on a tour of the UK and is a Must See, certainly one of the most entertaining shows we have seen touring the UK for quite sometime.
3rd March 2014
Snake Killing Crocodile
It was one of the most astonishing battles in the animal world - when a snake decided it was going to swallow a whole crocodile for lunch.
If it seems an impossible notion, these photos show the astonishing result as the snake slithered slowly away with the crocodile filling its body.
With lightning speed the snake suddenly wrapped itself around the crocodile and put it in a death squeeze. No matter how much the crocodile struggled, it had no hope of freeing itself from the snake’s powerful body. It wasn’t long before life was squeezed out of the croc.
Snake Swallowing Rat - Key West
The snake turned to the object of the attack and began slowly consuming the reptile.
That seemingly impossible task took a little more time but eventually the entire crocodile disappeared through the python’s mouth.
Then, twice its normal size, the snake slowly made its way into the nearby swamp bushes to digest its hearty meal.
This event reminded me of our visit to Key West last April, when we came across a snake in the garden devouring a rat. A neighbour called the police who in turn called the wildlife ranger. Not knowing the type of snake we were dealing with we were told not to approach it, we placed a plastic box over it until the ranger arrived and calmly picked it up and placed it in a bag. It was a harmless corn snake some times called a chicken snake. He did ask if we wanted to keep it in the garden, good for controlling rats as you can see here. – NO THANK YOU.
Sydney Mardi Gras
Down Under this weekend Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade was one the largest ever, with over 10,000 attendees joining to celebrate in the march. Despite heavy rain on Saturday, the 36th annual parade got underway with so many attendees that organisers couldn’t keep the event under its 4 hour allotted length. Among the 144 floats which wound their way through central Sydney, this year’s parade saw several Vladimir Putin-themed attractions, including a giant sinister-looking puppet of the Russian leader.
1st March 2014
The 1st March , St David’s Day. St David is the patrol saint of Wales. Tradition holds that he died on that day in 569. The date was declared a national day of celebration within Wales in the 18th century. The leek is a national emblem of Wales. According to legend, Saint David ordered his Welsh soldiers to identify themselves by wearing the vegetable on their helmets in an ancient battle against the Saxons that took place in a leek field. It is still worn on St David's Day.
The national flower of Wales is the Daffodil.
Gay Role Play in Schools
Sex education in schools is on the change. New guideline suggest that pupils should act out scenes involving gay characters and discuss pornography in class
Teachers are being urged by the authors of the new sex education guidance for schools not to try to stop teenagers from looking at pornography and instead to understand that it showed a distorted view of sex. It is the first time for 14 years that advice on sex education has been updated. The guidance currently in use makes no reference to issues such as internet safety or “sexting” using mobile devices.
Although supported by the Department for Education, the new guidelines, written by two charities and a group representing teachers, do not have legal force. They make clear that pornographic images must never be shown to pupils. However, one of the resources recommended to teachers includes a suggestion that teachers “give [pupils] pictures of art and adverts and ask them whether that’s pornography”.
Last year Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education) published a report saying that sex education was taught badly in between a third and half of schools and said that secondary schools should teach about the influence of pornography on students’ understanding of healthy sexual relationships.
It also says that sex education must not deal only with heterosexual relations. “Teachers should never assume that all intimate relationships are between opposite sexes. All sexual health information should be inclusive and should include LGBT people [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] in case studies, scenarios and role-plays.”
Disney Cuts its Dosh to the Boy Scouts
Despite lifting its ban on gay youth members, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), may need to rethink its policy on gay adult members and volunteers, as Disney, a large donor, has cut its level of funding because of the ban. The lifting of the ban officially took place on 1 January 2014, but a ban on openly gay adult leaders still remains in place. Now Robert Utsey, president of the Scouts’ Central Florida Council has circulated an email which states that Walt Disney World has cut some of its grants, as it deemed the BSA’s policies to be out of sync with its own.
Brighton Pride has been under threat once again. Last night Labour and Tory councillors in Brighton and Hove have voted against a planned cut to the city’s Pride festival. The ruling Green Party had said the current £25,000 council grant was no longer required.
Speaking before the vote, Paul Kemp, of Brighton and Hove Pride, said: “Pride will be thrilled if this funding is agreed to support the LGBT community parade and sustainability of Pride.
“The community parade is one of the highlight of the cities calendar that the whole community engages in.
24th February 2014
Glyndebourne and Opera House
Glyndebourne Festival Opera is an English opera festival held at Glyndebourne, just a stone throw from us here in Sunny Sussex. It is a part of the English Summer season. Performances start in the afternoon, enabling Londoners to leave town after lunch, and finish in time for them to catch the last train back. A long interval allows opera-goers the opportunity for picnic dinners on the extensive lawns or in one of the restaurants in the grounds.
The Opera house is owned by the Christie family who still live in the country house. John Christie originally held small concerts for his friends in the organ room of the house. He would invite professional opera singers along to give the evenings a special touch. On one of these occasions he invited soprano Audrey Mildmay who he fell in love with and married.
He was going to extend the Organ room to accommodate more people but was persuaded by Audrey to build a separate opera house and the Glyndebourne Festival Opera was born. The festival has been held annually since 1934, except in 1941-45 during World War II and 1993 when the theatre was being rebuilt. The renovated theatre opened in 1994. Gus Christie, son of Sir George Christie and grandson of festival founder John Christie, became festival chairman in 2000.
Looking from Stage
We have a lot of contact with the Opera goers, but until today we have never had the opportunity to visit the back stage areas. About 30 of us met in the old green room before we met our guide Alice who gave us a potted history of Glyndebourne before we heard for the stage. In the past we have visited the Theatre Royal in Brighton and Drury Lane on London and on both occasions were surprised at how small the stage and back stage areas were. Not so at Glyndebourne, being the new theatre completed in 1994 the stage is massive as are the backstage rehearsal rooms. Alice told us that on some days the set of the stage can be moved lock stock and barrel to one of the two sound proof rehearsal rooms whilst another production can be taking part on the stage.
Preparing set for Eugene Onegin
You can see the back stage area that can be used to extend the stage as it was in Meistersinger in 2011
The Glyndebourne season is a series of six operas that play in repertory for the three and a half month season. Normally three operas running back to back at any one time. The logistics of the operation are amazing. Glyndebourne employs around 400 people year round expanding to 1500 during the season.
Glyndebourne has vast workshops creating the costumes, wigs and props. Most of the scenery is make in Wales, but is later stored locally. Complete sets are often sent around the world on loan to other opera companies. The amazing set of Billy Budd was recently sent to Broadway. Although it would appear that some of the rehearsals for the New York production were conducted at Glyndebourne, as the measurements of the set were marked on the floor of the Peter Hall Rehearsal room.
Set of Billy Budd send to Broadway
Glyndebourne has an annual budget of a little over £20 million ($32 million) as of 2010. The Festival is the only major opera season in the United Kingdom, which is not state subsidized. It is run a charity and supported by its members, private donations and fund raising. Of course the tickets are not cheap either with best seats coming in at around £ 235 ($375). Although there are some standing seats available at just £15 I believe these tickets are sold on very limited days.
Don’t forget that Glyndebourne is one of the few remaining theatres in England where Evening Dress is expected.
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