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

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Ho Ho Ho

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Almost forty years ago to the day, dear old Doctor Who turned to the camera and wished 'A very merry Christmas to all of you at home as well'.

Which was sweet, and also brilliant because Doctor Who fans have been trying to justify it for as many years before going mad and dissolving into a puddle very much like the Wicked Witch of the West. Arguments range from 'well, maybe someone was watching them in the Space/Time Visualiser' to 'Well clearly the mad, apparently-homophobic actor William Hartnell had just had a knock on the head with his very own Lucky Poofter Spade and couldn't tell which way was up'. Either way, the show was fined two-and-six and banned from appearing on Christmas day for almost four decades.

Myself, I'm still a bit 'meh' about the whole thing. If I were a publican, I'd be opening 'Bar Humbug' right about now. And all this after I've had about four separate Christmases this year..! You'd think I'd be drowning in Christmas spirit, but in all truth, I can't even get the lid off and there's no ice in the refrigerator.

One of them was a lovely pre-Christmas Christmas in the wilds of Devon a few days back. First holiday in ages, at the behest of my lovely chums Dan and Moray. I climbed a mountain one day. In a slight heel, too. Well, I'm told there are no mountains in Devon, but to me it was higher than Whitney on Grammy night, so I say it was a mountain. I felt like I climbed to the top of the world..! Only there were cows at the top.

"Well, that seals it, then," said The Boy. "Cows can't climb mountains."

"Perhaps they found the cable-car," I mumbled before turning up S Club 7.

To balance this raging act of heterosexual outward-bound, I made a cake too. Teach a man to fish, he'll eat for life. Leave a gay in a kitchen long enough, he'll come up with the baked goods.

And I'm still here in just my jeans, tapping away. on Christmas Eve, when nothing should be stirring, not even a mouse. Well, bar the swizzle-stick in my martini, but they never put anything in these rhymes about I still have presents to wrap. Hell, I still have presents to buy..!

Christmas. It's all about the apathy if you ask me.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Friends and Pens

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They say you should never work with children and animals. But that's only the top two of the list you know, and goes on to include 'old friends', 'any man who wears sandals' and 'Sean Young'. Because apparently she's a right old cow.

Though you know me, I'm always one to throw convention out of the window - I was the first person in my cul-de-sac to own a bolero jacket. So when my old dear friend The Very Paul Vyse, that well-known transport-based lothario, graciously offered to let me pop in and fill up the desks just before Christmas at his well-known magazine, what else could I do but accept.

Well, I say working, its more like guesting in his situation-com. 'The New Paul Vyse Show'. Everything is done with such theatrics around here, at the end of each day you do expect someone to hold up a caption of 'You Have Been Watching' while various office workers look to camera holding repro pages and scalpels with a look of mild British shock on their face.

And you have to have your wits about you. There I am, daydreaming about that new Densel Washington film - you know the one? 'Deja Vu'? I just keep thinking 'I'm sure I've seen that before...' when I'm asked to comment on disparate things like what the colour of soap operas should be, and what we think of the cutout on John Nettle's hair.

It's very demanding.

What with that and being half cut on booze for the most part.

I've also learned never to work in an office mostly populated by women. They lay siege to the thermostat. Somehow they've managed to crank it up from 32-degrees, past 'pot-roast' to 'broil' and I'm sitting here sweating like a worried prostitution punter in Ipswich. And still there are girls wandering around in scarves saying "Brr! Isn't it bitter..?" No! No it's not! It's hotter than the surface of the Sun, you bizarre horse. I physically can't pick anything up as my hands are so sweaty; I've been pawing at my cup of coffee for the last three hours. And heaven help me when I try and write something as the pen just shoots out of my hands! Do you know there's four embedded above me in the ceiling tiles. And its very difficult to concentrate with Papermate stalactites dangling so.

And as it turns out, working with your friends is a riot. We haven't been sober for any of it; it has taken me three days to do two pages because the vodka visor has been plastered to my face.

But I tell you something, you know that new Densel Washington film? 'Deja Vu'? I'm sure I've seen that before...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Time and Tide

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They say romance is dead.

I remember my dear friend Gertie being darlingly jubilant about a boy; he'd probably managed to pry the mobile number out of some prepubescent bar tender from Prague, and was in an uncommonly happy mood. "Oh he's just so dreamy..!" he sung, taking to swinging around a lamp-post in the manner of Gene Kelly. Unfortunately the lamp-post was coated in anti-climb paint and he ripped his hand open.

"London," he muttered some time later, his mood dulled, "is not a city for romantics."

I am, unfortunately, finding this to be the case in all matters these days. While The Boy and I are embarking on The Greatest Love Affair, I've discovered things have changed so much since I last had to do this; you no longer make mix-tapes for your beau - you let them at your iTunes for the afternoon with a datastick. Which is a lot more intrusive, as you have to spend a good fifteen minutes explaining why you have so many remixes of Bonnie Tyler songs.

Still. We're finding other 'culture-share' items to show each other. He's just discovering the joys of Alias ('Is it just about the wigs?' he said before I patted his hand in affirmation and topped up his creme de menthe). And he's given me his favourite book to read. Stephen King. 'Needful Things'. Now, I've never been a fan of the writer; for one, every author photo on the back flap makes him look like he's listlessly raping a monkey. But one must brave such things in the name of romance I hear, so a few nights ago I turned down my bed, smoothed down my nightie and cracked open the cover.

Now I gather its not a new observation to wonder whether King can write anything not set in some tiny town in the middle of nowhere - indeed, after his near fatal car crash some years ago, his first book afterwards was about a man involved in a car crash. So write about what you know; though why there hasn't been a book about raping monkeys is a mystery. And I am enjoying the colloquial town in Needful Things so far is all rather sunny, and seems to have a good schooling system. If the locals are a little obsessed with cheap glasswear.

And I can forgive that Needful Things is just a hilariously shallow spit at commercialism. No, my problem with Ol' King is that I think almost every one of his novels (and probably including some rather overwritten, doom-laden notes to the milkman for that matter) have been made into middling films or TV movies, so all these tiny towns in the top right hand corner of the States start to blur into one. As do the stories, so I'm left casting each of the characters in my head with c-list actors like Denise Crosby in a nasty peasant skirt and a dresser full of floral-print crockery.

Thankfully, he divides up the chapters into short sections, as if he can only write one A4 page of prose before going off and torturing ants with a magnifying glass, so it's a rather easy read. And The Boy says that it does get better towards the end. Personally, I can't wait to see what someone has to do for a decent pair of slightly heeled, shin-length calf-leather boots because I've been looking for a pair forever.

Ah. The things we do for love. It's just a shame you have to move with the times.

You see, I don't think romance is dead. I think its just got its Out of Office on.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sex And The Lower Orders

I know you bally foreigners don't think we British have The Sex. I'm sure you think we just sit around holding pale, clammy hands, and only 'push the beds together' when our ardor is inflamed by a particularly good episode of The Antiques Roadshow.

Well, it's not true. Well, mostly. A lot of it happens because there's cock-all else to do in this weather. I myself found that I tended to be sleeping with people just to keep warm, though when I mentioned this to a colleague, he said that 'Britain must have been going through a mini Ice-Age then.' So I Took Against Him and wrote 'I have only one testicle' on all his Post-It notes in UV pen. I can't wait til he goes through Customs this weekend.

So we're not as outrageous about it like our European brethren, so what? The second-worst thing about it is there's often a little bit too much over-compensation in the media as a result. How else do you explain our Carry On films, or not being able to open a copy of Cosmo without an article on how lewd suburbia is, including interviews with 'Jean, 38' who's just discovered swinging and bondage ever since her kids left home. That as may be, 'Jean' but I bet you don't have anyone over without a good whirl around with the hoover, and changing the pot pourii to a more racy 'Jungle Spice'.

But by far the worst part of driving it underground and suppressing it is the problems that arise: we British are currently captivated by the latest serial killer who has bumped off five prostitutes so far. Of course he's known as 'The Ripper' - every serial killer we've had since Queen Victoria gracefully straddled Mr Brown's purple-headed custard-chucker has been known as some sort of Ripper. It's a terrible business, and I do hope whoever's doing it is caught.

You see, I'm a firm believer that prostitutes (or 'Women Without Any Typing Skills' as my mother refers to them) are a Good Thing. And they should be allowed to keep brothels as, for one, it gets them off the streets. Again, I have no problem with, but you get that much stretched PVC out in rainy weather and its not going to be pretty, know what I'm saying. The squeaking alone will sound like thirty cats being sandpapered (or, as we also know it, 'Emma Bunton's latest album'). And lets not forget about that much Harmony root-lift fizzing away as soon as we get a quick downpour - next thing you know you've got a slick of it running down the high street and cars are aqua-planing right into Comet shop-fronts.

So I'm not sure why brothels aren't legal. Look, if the Masons are allowed to taunt goats and engage in same-sex orgies, why can't some girls get together and have one of those charming knocking-shops above an off-licence? You know, the ones with flock wallpaper, and a kettle that takes too long to boil? This way we can all think of prostitutes as the Fifth Emergency Service, right up there with The Automobile Association, and L'Oriel Hot Hair Repair.

I do speak with some experience: I myself was a male prostitute for a grand total of one week, stopping after one Gentleman Caller requested that I did something unsavoury with an Oxo Cube. I'd got this 'romantic' idea about it all after watching Pretty Woman and thought I could get a bit of cash and learn to shop in an Eighties-style montage. But it was not to be and I gave it up sharpish; you should see how picky I am when I'm dating. I once turned someone down simply for having a dried bit of foam on his ear from shaving. Honestly.

People are just after that connection, if you ask me.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Fizzbomb Royale

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I gather I'm alone in my non-appreciation of Daniel Craig.

Most gentlemen I know are all a-flutter over his sinew-y charms, yet all I shall say is we had a sofa that colour and texture back in the 1970s, and you know what that was like when you sat on it in hot weather. Pity poor Eva Green as she has to romp with him during the humid conditions of Venice; she'd be peeling herself off that with a 'schluuuuck!' and a wince.

I said this to one of my viewing companions, the marvelous Teutonic German broad Astrid. Although I did have to say it several times; she was so enraptures with Mr Craig that she was fizzing at the bunghole to such an extent we had to chisel her off the velour with the plastic spoon from a Screwball ice-cream while the credits ran. She claims that Mr Craig had managed a "minge-tighteningly brilliant performance" but I know for a fact she has not kept up her pelvic floors and hasn't been able to even come close to gripping anything wider than a Pringles tube since The Falklands War. But still she insists that ol'-saddlebag-with-eyes Craig could turn the most violent of Ladies Who Use Powertools to the ways of the cock.

I'd have liked to have put this to the test, but all my lesbotic friends have all 'reverted to their factory settings' and are not really available for untainted commenting. All of them. Was there a meeting? Did a memo go out? Does it mean that pippin songstress Pink has gigs nigh-on empty now? Who's buying camomile tea?! For one, I may have to start auditioning for a new Lady With Chunky Watch for a friend; I really need to get the house wi-fi'd and you can imagine how ludicrous a gay man is with cabling. We just tend to match them by colour and then tie them in lovely bows.

But while we're on the subject, were we all aware that Dame Judi of Dench's character in Casino Royale - there was much talk of making her a Lady Who Enjoys Bad Girls? I'm slightly glad they didn't; why the insistence that any woman who is a 'ball-breaker' come out on the side of female tennis players? It's such a cliche these days it does little to break the stereotype and besides, this way she just comes across as a frustrated mother who's sons have just phoned to say they won't be coming home for Christmas, which is far better. You know you can distract any Lady With The Potential To Teach Gym with a decent picture of Charlize Theron, whereas here she's going to save the world efficiently, then go off and stick her hands in the sink saying "No, it's fine. As long as they're happy. Now slice those onions for me - I have a bath to clean."

Instead we get to see a pyjama'd man lying next to her in a bedroom scene. I personally hope it was Geoffrey Palmer lying prostrate there, meaning her mumsy character from the OAP-warming situation-com 'As Time Goes By' is part of the canon. And that her character Jean Hardcastle was really running the world in between firing off pithy notes to the milkman.

Oh yes, we love Dame Judi here at Glitter for Brains. We should send her something from the offices to show our appreciation, but looking around all I can see are a couple of A*Teen posters and a cravat we once nicked from Christopher Lee at the Gormenghast premiere (he was ratted, we had to stand on a chair). We've decided our favourite thing about her is she'll team up with Maggie Smith every year or so and do any old drama based on a load of hats they find at the back of the RADA store cupboard. 'Ladies in Lavender'? A happy accident after Dame Maggie's wafty ethnic wrap ran at 60 degrees.

Although. Wouldn't it have been nice for just a moment in Casino Royale for Dame J's wardrobe door to have swung open and her lobster suit from the FilmFour ad to have been seen?

It all links in, see.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Banazi

Well, bugger me.

There I was flicking through The Pink Paper, the UK's national newspaper for Gentlemen Who Once Learned to Vogue, and trying desperately to skim past all the worthy articles about excitingly-bearded local reverends which nearly take up a whole third of the paper. With each page turn, I thought we must ask ourselves: are all God's shepherds taking Exodus 33:23 a little too seriously; 'I shall remove my hand, and thou shall see my back parts but my face shall not be seen'.

And while you're still reeling that I know a bit of the Bible, I shall tell you I skimmed on - on! - though he other two thirds, which are always some nice pictures of Sir Ian McKellen and an advert for Sandi Toksvic's latest book on something like tofu's place in DIY. Myself, I was looking for a little titillation of some pictures of half-decent cock disguised as 'masseurs' at the back when I spied something utterly ludicrous:

Glitter For Brains is up for an award for Best Gay Blog 2006.

I don't think I've ever dropped my vodka before. But right there and then, history was made.

God knows what I could win. Perhaps something cheap and plastic - oh, we're back to the gentlemen at the back of the paper again, aren't we? - but I need something as a talking point in my breakfast nook, so if you're not too busy, would you be so kind as to click here and vote?

Oh, and an added incentive: you can win a plasma screen if you vote! I'm assuming that excludes my dear Yankee brethren, but you live in the Land of the Free where tax rebates flow like milk and honey, so you don't really need one. And my darling Canadians, you can just feel smug you don't live in America and vote anyway.

My section's down at point number 61, although should you have any strong feelings about what you feel is the car of the year, give that a vote too. God knows why that's in a survey for Gentlemen Who Can't Catch - cars? They're lucky its tick-boxes otherwise they're going to get several hundred thousand answers of 'Um, that kicky little red one that's in the advert with that man who used to be in Holby in it.' Likewise for which police force you prefer. Perhaps you, like my good self, have been sampling their various methods for some time with a girlish cry of "I won't come quietly, officer!" and wish to see them honoured as best you can. Oh, and while you're there, don't forget to take a look at the competition - they're all fabulous.

Now go. Shoo. Vote. Go make Cher proud of you.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Drama

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..."

Friday, December 01, 2006

Middle Of Nowhere

I think some time ago, I prophesied meeting my long-estranged father at his hospital bed, him wired to some machine and trying to absolve all his differences while I listened passively - but then I have watched too many episodes of Dallas. There's never the drama when you want it: the actual event was in Victoria bus depot. Though thankfully neither of us were drinking meths from a paper bag. For a change.

There's no real reason why my father and I haven't spoken for ten years. We just sort of drifted apart, stopped calling. I heard that I'd offended him so kept out of the way. I have to say I thought it was no great loss: his idea of the high life is driving a lorry very fast and eating curries too hot for the ceramic plates. And I like tofu and quite fancy owning a Morris Minor, thankyouverymuch. We've never seen eye-to-eye on anything really. Fashion, music, politics, humour - nothing clicked, and I spent most of my teenage life rebelling in my room. And by that I meant I spent three weeks wearing black and listening to Donna Summer records moderately loudly.

But.. ten years. I suppose I was curious to see what he was like these days - and to meet my newly acquired stepmother. Apparently he'd mellowed over time; in all fairness I've completely changed. Well, slightly changed. Well, I've grown a beard and switched from hair gel to wax, but that was a big day in our house. We opened the lambrini and everything.

But when we met, drama it was not. It was just... there. It just occurred. The gay within me (and lets face it, there's been a few of them over the years) wanted tears, recrimination and possible storming off. But no. We chatted about the weather. Curse you, television, for making me this way. You see, while my mother's remained hilariously young (she's downloading Ibiza anthems I haven't even heard of from allofmp3.com) my father's aged thirty years in the ten I haven't seen him. He's got two topics of conversation: food and how to cook it, and the holidays he has been on. And has now got that old-man thing of telling, in exquisite detail, tales of holidays you're never going to go on of where to buy your food, where's best to stand to get the bus and where does the cheapest nachos. And not content with telling me when he's pissed the night before, he trots them all out again the following afternoon for the matinee performance.

Although we did get the obligatory stories of my childhood for the benefit of my new stepmother. Her name's Stella, and I've never met anyone who enjoys being told what they think so much in my life. And she lapped up the tales of my childhood that were suddenly rosy - the worst of which was his rewriting of my coming out story, to make him this gallant champion of the gay cause. Was he fuck; I looked me up and down and said "You sure? Your voice is a bit deep..." and went off to get another can of beer, more or less leaving it at that.

And then he was gone again. I got an open invite to go up and see the step-family, though I really can't be fagged. I've half a mind to go, if only to see how nasty their sofa set is. And chance to rifle through Stella's wardrobe to see whether there's anything bar the seven pairs of nasty jogging bottoms she seems to have brought with her on her trip down.

Family, you can't choose. You're born into them, and have to make the best of what you're given. There's nothing keeping you together but a thin strand of genetics and circumstance, and I have nothing in common with my father. Why I should pursue this dream of idealised family life is a mystery to me. And I'm sure he feels the same. While we were at dinner, he was talking to my stepmother and summed it up thus:

"...he said to me 'Dad, when I grow up, I want to be shot into space' and I said 'Son, if I hadn't been pissed that night with your mother, you would have been'."

Closure? Hm. Not in this lifetime.