Journey through space to the Planet Fabulous, where the Ruler of the Universe will see you shortly.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


When one's Boy says 'Come up my grand opening,' it transpires one shouldn't automatically turn down one's bedding and get the char to warm up the hot water bottle. It can also mean that he's going to be on stage, and due to the ties of boyfrienddom, one should show one's support. Especially, it transpires, if it's amateur dramatics.

Does the words 'am-dram' strike fear into your hearts as much as mine, dear viewer? You can barely get me to the theatre now, uncultured wretch that I am. Yet that simple contraction contains as much horror to me as the words 'poly cotton blend' and 'We have your reservation, but we're going to have to put you next to the children's party'. Thirty star-struck hoofers mis-stepping and clapping across the stage at irregular intervals to the lesser-known hits of the musicals? I'd rather skid in sick, frankly.

Oh well. It's what you get when you take on a new relationship, isn't it? In for a penny, and all that. And besides. His ex-boyfriend was going to be there. Whom I'd be meeting for the first time.

What else is there to say but 'On with the show..!'

* * *

I'd gone with my good friend The Very Paul Vyse, a gentleman who'd never met a bottle of spirits he didn't like, or at least got chummy with at 3am after eyeing each other warily for sometime. He's not what my mother would call 'a morning drinker', but let's just say he's had to have his carpet scotch-guarded. And vodka-guarded. And whiskey-guarded. And...

Anyway. Another thing you should be aware of is Paul tends to go for the 'younger' Gentlemen Who Can't Catch. So when he discovered this am-dram thing was going to be on hallowed university grounds, he'd hoiked up his skirts and practically dragged me by the hair to get there in time. And I shall say this: letting Paul Vyse on university campus was a little like letting Stevie Nicks in a powdered sugar factory - you know no good is going to come of it, but it's going to be hilarious to watch. And true to form, as soon as we got to the student union, his eyes were out on stalks. Well everything was, but lets draw a veil for decency's sake. Or at the very least hang a veil over it.

* * *

So. Isn't it really embarrassing when you meet your boyfriend's ex?

It's even moreso when he doesn't know who you are, or that you've been doing his boyfriend for the past six months. And they've only been ex's for a fortnight, for that matter.

I'd bumped into the Boy as he was running up the stairs in a school uniform (most of the young cast were dressed like it for the first number, causing Vyse to almost inhale his own fist as they ran by us on the stairs) and grabbed him to wish him luck with the show. An expression of horror flashed over his eyes when he wheeled around to find it was me holding him, and he bundled me into a cupboard. Now, I can tell you, I'm no stranger to being banged in a cupboard behind the stage - hell, it's how I put myself through the RADA back in the day, but this time I objected slightly.

"What?" I said.

"Will's out there!" he hissed.

Ah, the ex. "Introduce us then!" I said jovially, and the Boy gave me a look that I've only seen once before from him, when I'd jokingly suggested we stayed in and watched the StarCops marathon on UK Gold. I shouldn't have messed with him - he was just about to go out on stage - so I apologised, and told him to break a leg, and left him to it with a smile.

I'd go and make my own entertainment, and rounded on the former competition.

Will was prettier than I thought, causing a whole gamut of emotions from jealously to a bizarre triumph that I'd stole his boyfriend from him. He was younger, too - over a decade younger than me - looked a bit too clever by half. Shorter, beardy. Of course, from the off, I clearly Took Against Him.

He rattled his collection tin in my direction. "AIDS awareness!" he said chirpily. I said good evening, and I reached deep into my pockets, and put all the money at the top of the collector. The sheer volume of coins jammed in the top.

"Sorry," he said with a smile, catching my eye. "Normally I have no problem whatsoever getting it in the hole."

Good lord. The little bugger was flirting with me. The smile on my lips was a polite one; inside I was howling with laughter.

* * *

"He did what?!" screeched Vyse. I shushed him as everyone in the theatre turned around, thinking the act had started. I told him, and he laughed like a machine gun for a moment. We both agreed it was an interesting turn of events as we settled in for curtain-up. Vyse was still seemingly looking forward to the show; I kept getting the words 'am-dram' whizzing around my head. My despirited nature was clearly catching, as not before too long we were both sitting, arms folded, like Sattler and Waldorf in our imaginary royal box. Though I think The Lady Vyse's slow turn in mood was due to an empty glass in his hand.

The band struck up. Well, the 'struck' was more in the manner of a deer and a 4x4 driven by Margot Kidder on tamazapan on a darkened highway.

I slid down in my seat and sunk my fingernails into Vyse's thigh in embarrassment, hissing an apology to him. Oh lord, my boy was going to be on in this shambles at some point. I haven't dreaded seeing an entrance as much as when I accidentally turned around in the communal showers at the BBC and saw a flash of Miriam Stoppard's minky.

I tell you, that thing was like a bear-trapper's hat that'd had been plugged into the mains.

* * *

It transpired that the orchestra was the only weak link; everyone on stage ranged from passable to down-right marvelous. No sign of the Boy so far, bar a quick hoofing around to Baggy Trousers. What exactly is the protocol if your significant other is shite on stage? What do you say, and what do you do? I suppose in the case of Sarah Brightman and Andrew Lloyd-Webber, you marry them.

The orchestra continued to screech their way through the classics. Our favourite moment of the whole thing was when one castmember started singing a song from The Sound of Music, the opening line being 'The most beautiful sound in the world...' as the violin section sounded like they were making weasel smoothies in an unoiled blender.

In the interim, I lightly fantasised about what would've happened if Will had walked in on us talking, or how I could contrive it so he found out who I was. Oh I'm aware there's nothing to be gained from this at all, but the final stamp of ownership on the Boy would be getting free of the ex. The Boy still daren't call me from home, still was careful beyond all to keep my existence hidden. It's frustrating, but then you have to imagine how bad it is for him, at the tail end of a relationship and having to live in the same house until the lease was up. But such reverie was broken by the Boy flouncing onto stage.

I held my breath, and the first couple of lines were belted out with accompanying choreogaphy.

Good lord.

He could sing! He could dance! And at the same time!

I was instantly put in mind of Melanie Griffiths complicated performance in 'Working Girl' where she had to both hoover, and be in high heels. Never has such a balancing performance been wrought before me - the Boy hoofed and camped it up with the fluid ease of a seasoned pier-end professional. I couldn't take my eyes off him.

* * *

The Lady Vyse and I sat in the bar afterwards. Much to no-one's surprise.

"When's he coming down?" Vyse asked. Somehow he'd managed to get a coterie of people around him already; the man's a magnet for people and booze. We never have to worry about helping him retrieve drinks from the bar because he's run out of hands; the wine bottles just tend to float around two feet behind him like the Hand of Omega.

I said I had no idea. I doubted that he even would. He was probably on Will-Duty, and would be looking after him. Chances are we wouldn't get to congratulate him.

"We'll see," said Vyse with a knowing look.

And the Boy did arrive. He was shaking slightly, nervous and delighted that everything was over for the night. We bought him a celebratory drink, congratulated him heartily and talked gaily about summer season in Bridlington. I'd come and sell antiques to finance his upcoming Retin-A habit, and he'd say he was leaving me if I painted anything else in watercolours when I was drunk on cheap wine. It was a glorious time. Yet his eyes were darting around the room whenever we spoke, checking to see that Will wasn't watching.

"Oh for goodness sake," I said, standing up.

"What? What now?"

"I'm just going to go and say hi," I said. "To Will."

"No, please," he said, laying his hand on my arm. His look was beseeching, his manner broken. I held his gaze for a few seconds, his hand for a little longer. There was silence for a second more.

"I wouldn't dare," I said.

He shook out a sigh of relief, then flashed a smile. I returned it, sitting back down and leaning in close.

"You know, I'm really grateful you sat with me for most of the night. I didn't think you'd even come down for a drink, let alone hang around."

"Why?" he frowned.

"It's difficult, isn't it? For us. At the moment..."

I'd leaned close enough to smell his sweat-dampened after-shave. He kissed me, his eyes only darting over to see whether Will was watching at the last second.

* * *

When he'd left to go home, Vyse announced that he had faith in him. "I told you he'd come, didn't I?" he said through a fug of smoke before wrapping his arm around a unfortunate student's shoulders. He'd picked this one up when he'd popped outside, a floppy-haired 21 year old who looked well out of his depth, and up well past his bedtime for that matter. "I knew he couldn't keep away from you."

I shrugged, happy in my haze. The Lady Vyse patted my head before turning to his young charge.

"So, young fellow. Do you know the difference between giving head and a cucumber sandwich?" he asked. The wide-eyed ingenue shook his head, clearly dizzy from the double vodkas he'd been plied with.

"Ah," breathed Vyse. "In which case, you and I should really go on a picnic..."


Anonymous said...

Oh my god..You my friend are AWESOME!!! This had me in stitches....

Bravo to you and I only wish that I could've been there, mainly to meet you..forget the show (you know I'm kidding, the chance to see 'you know who' singing and jumping around the stage would make my day) :)

Meeting Ex's is an odd one, but I feel you acted correctly...I have broken up people before just to get who I wanted and I'm chicken when it comes to meeting up with the boyfriends ex again...

Go get em tiger...GRR!!!!

Tickersoid said...

Brilliant as ever.
I'd rather skid in sick. I just know I'm going to use that soon.

Will said...

Marvellous. I am cackling away, particularly at Margot Kidder, cucumber sandwiches and the Hand of Bloody Omega.

Anonymous said...

?Don?t like theatre??


What do you think you were doing behind the scenes, then? Pure theatre! Then you step out on your own virtual stage and perform for us! ?Don?t like theatre!? Tsk! Don?t think you?ve fooled us for a moment! It?s plain as your dress-sense that you love being theatrical, just like the rest of us. And I don?t blame you for a minute: acting is so much more real than life.

Still, I wouldn?t knock amateurs, if I were you: they built the ark, you know, while the professionals built ?Titanic? Not to mention the fact that I?ve had many a gentleman caller who, after a few drinks in my company, suggested that although new to all this, they?d like to try doing something with me that they?d never ever done before? then delivering a performance that even a professional like myself would be proud of.

By the way, when it comes to The Boy, who appears to be an aspiring thespian, please remember Hitchcock?s words of wisdom: he is often misquoted as having said that all actors are cattle, whereas he actually said that they should be treated like cattle. Having grown up in a village, I have first hand experience of handling livestock: they need to be poked and prodded regularly? but no doubt you?ve already been doing that for the last six months.

Right, I?m off to make myself a weasel smoothie in an un-oiled blender? that infant in the apartment downstairs won?t stop crying; to his loving parents no doubt this sound is acceptable, but it?s time they shared a little of my suffering.

Spike said...

the violin section sounded like they were making weasel smoothies in an unoiled blender.

I laughed so loud a Dear Old Thing came to check on me.

Qenny said...

Oh, this is fabulous. Totally top of your game fabulous!
And so funny, I'm just glad I don't suffer from a weak bladder.

Anonymous said...

Hang on a damn minute...

"...when he doesn't know who you are, or that you've been doing his boyfriend for the past six months."

Six months... did you say SIX months?

Would't that bring us back to 6th June 2006?

Did you really believe THAT would slip past your regular readership?

So, either what we were told on 24th July 2006 was long after the event, or...

Please clarify, otherwise one might start to spread unfounded but nonetheless deliciously malicious rumours.

Gary said...

Wonderful. Bravo. Bravo.

Mark said...

Heh, heh you are a rubbish gay sometimes."The most beautiful sound in the world..." is the opening lines of the song Maria from West Side Story, not the sound of music. Just had a flashback to that episode of The Good Life where Margo is cast as the Mother Superior and makes the same mistake!

Excellent work apart from that!

gaygeek said...

this is the imperial xmas revue isn't it? It's always a laugh!