Archive for January, 2011


Posted: January 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

[If I was a homo I'd go after straight men and I'd get a perverse satisfaction from undermining their sense of their 'heterosexual masculinity' (from fucking it out of them)

The thing is I am like a homo and I do go after straight men and I do undermine their sense of their heterosexual masculinity. But there's no pleasure in it. It makes me think they only want to fuck me to prove me wrong. To put me down. And I am not having that anymore.

I know that sounds dramatic but it is true.]


[P.s. to 'The PC Brigade':  I will say 'faggot' as much as I damn well like. I am a faggot. I know because if I wasn't I wouldn't be so troubling to you all, would I? I certainly don't fit your view of 'woman'. And I have to be something.  Don't I?]



[P.p.s. Calling me Jeremy Clarkson is mildly amusing but I know it is intended as an insult. It almost reminds me of insults against men- calling them a girl, or a fag, asking them 'what kind of man are you? that does a) or  doesnt do b)?' and it feels like I am being asked, 'what kind of woman are you? That has those views?' Like when someone said I had 'strange views for a woman'.  I don't want to be a woman anyway. So Jeremy it will have to be]



Tom Ford is a wanted man. And not just by the fashion moguls of western civilisation. I think he may be responsible for some criminal acts against our culture. I am not saying Ford is the metrosexual murderer responsible for the death of everything we hold dear, such as individuality, sexual perversion, cinema,  men, women, sex itself. That would be putting too much at the door of one, rather banal-seeming man. But there is something about fashion and men’s fashion in particular, and Ford’s brand of crispy, shifty, deathly menswear that makes me think he has something to be held to account for.

Ford, who recently ‘came back from the dead’ (and a vampiric, undead directing debut- A Single Man) to relaunch his career in women’s fashion, gives us some clues as to the nature of his crimes.

Ford was interviewed by the artist John Currin, for Interview Magazine. This interaction struck me first, where Ford realises (for the first time?) that his whole way of seeing is based on the artifice and ‘cultivation’ of his fashion design:

‘CURRIN: I didn’t mean it pejoratively that your aesthetic is always about cultivation.

FORD: My fashion aesthetic. I guess I’ve yet to express another aesthetic’.

Ford’s success, as a movie-director, fashion designer and icon, is indicative that his ‘aesthetic’ is our aesthetic- postmodern culture is dominated by the values (or lack of) of fashion. Everyone is a mannequin these days, from porn stars to movie actors to reality TV celebrities such as Mikey Sorrentino. The 21st century is ‘yet to express another aesthetic’. Thanks Tom.

Currin goes on to ask Ford about A Single Man.

‘CURRIN: What’s interesting in the movie is that the aesthetic is so unsexualized. It was orderly and beautiful, but with this tragic panic underneath. But it was weird how it did look like you and your world to a degree, or how most people envision it.

FORD: Well, I think most people don’t actually know me. They know the projection of me that I use to sell things. And they know me from an expression of material beauty. I’m actually very introverted. I’m very shy. I’m very emotional. I think those are human experiences that everyone can relate to. So this movie wasn’t about sex. It was about love. That was on purpose, because a lot of people equate homosexuality with sex and not necessarily with love. It was important that I keep the movie not about sex. It was about the same struggle that everyone goes through, if you’re intelligent, at some point in your life. You ask yourself, What is this all about? Why am I living? What does this mean? Why am I here? Those are the questions George is asking himself.’

Here Ford tells us quite proudly how he took the sex, the life? out of a film about homosexuality. His justification for showing us a sexless, sanitised, ‘orderly’ version of homo-sex, is that ‘a lot of people equate homosexuality with sex and not necessarily with love. It was important that I keep the movie not about sex’.  I don’t think I buy this reasoning. Hollywood is dire in its portrayals of homosexuality; we only have to go back as far as the soulless Brokeback Mountain to see how people jumped on the chance to see homosexuality in the movies as all about hopeless, romantic, unlikely, soppy ‘love’. As Mark Simpson asked:

‘Am I dead inside because I didn’t experience the torrent of emotions I’ve been reading about? Am I as emotionally crippled as Ennis because I didn’t blub and hug after sitting through this ‘visceral’ movie, but instead wanted to go and ‘help with the roundup’?”

I am afraid my hunch is more that Ford himself doesn’t want to see homosexuality, or anything really, to do with sex. His ‘aesthetic’ whether it be to do with men or women, homo-or heterosexual people, is cold, clinical, asexual. He thinks people see him as ‘the projection of me that I use to sell things’  but I think that could be how he sees himself as well. And what sells things better than physical beauty unsullied by anything as messy and complex as sex?

Ford works in men’s and women’s fashion these days. But, like most people it seems, despite his inside knowledge of the industry, he still holds onto the idea that it is women’s bodies that are used more than men’s, to sell products:

‘Someone asked me recently about male nudity, and I brought up the subject that, in our culture, we use female nudity to sell everything. We’re very comfortable objectifying women. Women go out and they are basically wearing nothing. Their feet and toes are exposed, their legs are exposed, their breasts are exposed. Everything is exposed—the neck, the arms. You have to be really physically perfect, as a woman, in our culture to be considered beautiful. But full frontal male nudity challenges us. It makes men nervous. It makes women nervous.’

I know that fashion ads don’t tend to show men’s tackle dangling down, but then, they don’t usually show women’s genitalia either. Again as Mark Simpson has clearly pointed out, but it seems to no avail, it is men’s bodies which are objectified in our culture these days, even more than women’s, arguably. Ford goes on to tell us how he did an interview with a journalist in the nude-with both men in the nude-to illustrate how comfortable he is with the naked (male) body. But I am not entirely convinced.  As someone who works in male fashion, and  as an openly gay man in film, media and high society milieux, Ford should know more than most that men’s bodies are the currency, the cultural capital of today.  If anyone is ‘nervous’ about the male body, I think it could be Ford himself.

My problem, regardless of anything to do with Ford’s psyche, with his attachment to this fallacy that women’s bodies are objectified in our culture, and are used to sell products, rather than men’s, is that it plays into the hands of conservative forces. Feminists and puritanical right-wingers alike, love to go on about how our culture is steeped in sexual imagery, how ‘pornification’ has corrupted us all, and how this is due to the lustful, voyeuristic, predatory nature of men, who consume and abuse women as a matter of course.  If someone as high profile as Ford came out and called bullshit on those myths, we might actually get somewhere in changing gender norms. But I expect Ford is well aware that maintaining the status quo, politically, makes good business sense, even though his whole business involves  contradicting those norms.

He goes on to say : ‘ I detach the physical from the spiritual’ which is why he feels no ‘remorse’ in his work which objectifies humans so stylishly. Here Ford could be Patrick Bateman himself, looking in the mirror at the body before him, the body with no soul, no conscience:

‘And I turn the same eye on myself: When I look in the mirror, I say, “Well, this eyebrow is starting to sag,” or “I’m going gray right here, I need to fix that.” Or “I’ve eaten too much. I need to do a few more push-ups, blah blah blah.” But that’s completely separate from me as a human being. It’s purely the body that I move through the world in, and people react to it on the surface. So, no, I don’t have any remorse, because I separate them. Do you?’

Yes. Apparently Currin, the fine artist interviewing Ford, does feel remorse when he paints women as objects. Which could be one reason I have never heard of him. You don’t get very far in this world, with such sensibilities.

According to Ford, gay men make better fashion designers, because they don’t let lust get in the way of their work. Not with women, anyway. He doesn’t explain how, being a gay man, he can detach his loins from his eyes and brain when he works with male models. But anyway, he reassures us:

‘I’m an equal-opportunity objectifier. I think it’s the exact same thing. I’m sorry, I don’t understand why our culture both worships and objectifies beauty, and then slams those of us who participate in it. Because I make that detachment, I’m capable of objectifying a beautiful woman, but that doesn’t demean her in any way. She’s beautiful because she’s a creature who exists physically, in the physical world, who happens to be in a moment of prime.’

An equal opportunity objectifier- it’s a good line. One that Bateman would have been proud of.

Like all good psychopaths, I can’t quite nail Ford. He says that homosexuality should be seen as sexless in our culture, he says he can separate the spiritual from the physical, the human from the aesthetic. He knows he is a brand before he is a man. He tells us that ‘sex sells’ when really he is selling us a kind of ‘sexlessness’- sex with its heart ripped out.

Ford claims to feel no remorse. Which is handy if you are guilty as hell. I can’t say for sure he is the metrosexual murderer, the steazy assassin, but if I found out he was, I would not be surprised.


Fucking Steinbeck

Posted: January 30, 2011 in Porn, Uncategorized, Writing
Tags: ,

This is the piece I submitted to Games Perverts Play, a collaborative writing project I edit/curate. The theme was ‘Power’. I recommend reading the work by the other writers and artists there:

Fucking Steinbeck

The man on the end seat is reading Steinbeck. I am standing by the doors, as if that gives me some kind of privacy. Really it means I can look at everyone at once. I like to look at everyone at once. I guess it  is just one more way of hiding.

Why is he reading Steinbeck? He can’t be doing it for fun. Everyone knows that Steinbeck is dull as hell. Maybe he is reading it too look cool. But surely everyone knows it isn’t cool to read Steinbeck anymore, if it ever was. It is not even cool to read. Period. I only say ‘period’ because Steinbeck is getting on my nerves, and reminding me about ‘Great American Literature’ . I imagine myself as some kind of drop-out living in New York, sitting in a diner,  bitching about Steinbeck to a blonde girl who doesn’t care (not caring infuses her very being), and planning a road trip for the Fall. ‘Great American Literature’ infects us and takes us over. We have to be on our guard.

So perhaps he is reading Steinbeck for a class. I can’t see which book it is, and I don’t want to know. The man is olive skinned, maybe Mediterranean in background, very black hair and a soft-looking understated beard. He doesn’t look like a jerk. There I go again. Steinbeck is making me write ‘jerk’. What a jerk. But nobody teaches Steinbeck anymore do they? I haven’t studied literature since the 1980s, and we did Shakespeare and Chaucer and E.M, Forster. English Literature it was. Not an American writer in sight. I didn’t mind.  At least my essays didn’t read like horrendous teenage homages to JD Salinger. At least I didn’t sound like this.

I can’t ask him can I? I can’t just sit down on the seat next to him and turn and say,

‘Excuse me but why are you reading Steinbeck in this day and age? Have you no imagination?’

He would think I was mad. He would not be entirely mistaken. And anyway there is a cute drunk woman next to him, in a stripy top, who keeps knocking her knee against his to get his attention. He barely looks down from his book. He must be disciplined. Or gay. Do gay men still read Steinbeck the way they still read Whitman  and Foucault? Long after everyone else gave up and gave in, to the more seductive, manly pull of Franzen, Mitchell, Safron-Froer. Whatever. Nobody really reads anymore.  They just pretend. How many copies of Cloud Atlas have you seen open, on the tube? How many people do you know who have actually read it? Exactly.

So Steinbeck is left hanging, refusing to die, but not justifying his existence either. Like most masters of Great American Literature do. I hate that about them. They don’t have to fight for their place in this world. It goes without saying.

My gaze wanders over to a woman sat opposite. She is not reading. She doesn’t need to. She is transfixing enough as it is. A book would make her seem too potent, especially if it was Emily Dickinson or Jeanette Winterson, or someone like that. Someone real. That’s what she is. Potent. Her hair is red. Her skintone is that of a perfect redhead-pale, opaque. Her eyelashes are faint, her expression inscrutable. I fall into her face, her hair, her eyes. I notice she is wearing skinny jeans, tucked into knee-high leather boots. There is nothing about her appearance that seeks attention, because she knows she will have it anyway. She has mine completely.

The woman reminds me of Orlando, as played by Tilda Swinton in the film. Her complexion and hair and eyelashes of course have put this idea in my mind, but also the possibilities I want to take from her. If she were a boy, and I was a girl, if we lived hundreds of years ago, if the world would just stop for a moment and…

She smiles at me. I try to analyse the smile. I want it to be hopeful, offering, sexy. But I think it is saying, ‘I know you are staring at me. I don’t blame you’. I suppose the best I can hope for is that her smile forgives me. I don’t know if I forgive her. This kind of beauty is usually unforgiveable.

The train slides to a halt. As she gets up and walks down the carriage, through the double doors onto the platform, I think of going after her. I imagine myself walking behind her, following her out of the station, touching her arm, stopping her in her tracks, asking her, what?  I don’t want to ask her anything I want her to tell me. I want her to tell me what you do with a woman with opaque skin and faint eyelashes. I want her to tell me how to go down on her, clutching at her thin, porcelain hips, and how to lick her cunt the way she likes it, so it burns hot on my tongue and I forget I have never done this before, forget that there is no dick to fill me no strong man to restrain me, nothing to stop me from jumping off the cliff and into the freezing water below.

But I don’t. I stay on the train and watch her through the grimy windows, disappearing. She doesn’t look back.

Steinbeck guy is still reading Steinbeck. How could he read Steinbeck when that vision was sat right infront of him? What’s so fucking interesting about Steinbeck? Am I being unreasonable here? I don’t think I am. I’ve got eyes, haven’t I? I’ve got a heart.

I think about her again and feel weird inside. Like I admitted something secret about myself to a total stranger, that I’d never even admitted to myself before, and she said

‘It’s ok’.

Except we didn’t need words.

I wish I didn’t need words.

But Steinbeck has ruined it. Great American Literature is so overpowering, so masculine. Why can’t that man on the end seat be reading someone more subtle, someone who gives the rest of us a bit of space to breathe? Someone like Christopher Isherwood, for example? Or Edith Wharton? Then everything might have been different. But he is reading Steinbeck. And everything has stayed exactly as it always was.

The tube stops at Finsbury Park. I shuffle off and up the escalator and out, alone,  into the mundanity of the North London night.

Fucking Steinbeck.

Quiet Riot Girl

Photos:  Rockmother


Posted: January 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

There’s a lot of censorship going on at the moment.

I am loathed to watch the news, especially about Egypt, as I don’t want to just see what I am being allowed to see by the authorities, here and in Egypt itself.

Censorship is one of my number one topics of interest and concern.

I get told I am ‘confused’ about censorship. Like I can’t tell the difference between state-controlled censorship and private, personal decisions by people to control their own spaces, e.g. blogs.

I am glad I am confused. It is a confusing issue.

From McCarthy to Craigslist to Apple to Mubarak.

From Johann Hari to the Melbourne Film Festival raids, from Lady Chatterley’s lover to Baise MOi.

From Clause 28 to Section 63.

It’s not all the same. But it all adds up.

The most powerful form of censorship though, is self-censorship.

I’m doing it now.

I just want to be free.

Emily Dickinson Revisited

Posted: January 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

‘I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there ‘s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They ‘d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring blog!’

For Caroline, from Mark and QRG and Miss Emily D.

Challenging ‘Rape Myths’…

Posted: January 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

This post is not going to be full of the usual mix of sex and violence and… well it is , but not in a way you might like it to be.

Belle De Jour, now going by her real name of Dr Brooke Magnanti, has published some important research. She has taken statistics and findings from the Lilith Report of 2003, which found a causal linkk between rape statistics in Camden London, and the increase in lapdancing clubs in the area, and proved it to be totally misleading and, basically wrong.

Her paper seems to be being ignored by anti-sex work and anti-adult industry feminists. Unsurprisingly so. But it is being circulated by those more interested in actual facts in the subject of sex work, adult entertainment work and gendered violence.

The blogger Sexhibition has reproduced the report in full on her blog, and I urge you to read it:

The part of the analysis I found most crucial was the discussion at the end:

‘The paper also strongly implies that the rapes are stranger rapes. A Home Office report analysing relationships between victims and offenders notes that for rapes, strangers are the perpetrators in only 17% of UK cases (Walby and Allen 2004). 75% of reported rapes occur either in the victim’s home or in the perpetrator’s (Myhill and Allen 2002). Even if lap dancing businesses were shown to contribute to stranger rape, this alone could not explain large changes in the statistics of reported rapes overall’

In other rape news, when I discussed my last post Know The Difference?’ on twitter with some people, and also Brooke’s research, one of them quoted me back to myself. And added a little bit of judgement into the mix:

“What about when you have sex with your partner out of duty rather than desire?” < Why would you do that? “Duty”??!? WTF?

Relationships are not like Mills and Boon stories. Sometimes we do things because we feel we should, even things as ‘primal’ and ‘passionate’ as sex. Am I a sad, pathetic doormat to have given it up for a partner because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, or cause an argument, or miss out on my morning cup of tea in bed the next day? I don’t know. But I am pretty sure I am not alone.

Then I was told about this organisation, a support centre for survivors of rape in Leeds. I couldn’t believe how scaremongering it was, and how far it perpetuates the myths Brooke was discussing in her paper, that rape is something committed by strangers in dark alleyways, maybe on their way home from a lap dancing club.

Rape and sexual assault happen far more often than statistics indicate…

The majority of women in society fear rape – no woman is allowed to ignore it. The majority of children are taught to be afraid of ’strange men’ who offer us sweets, lifts, etc. We are taught as adults to keep our doors locked, not to be alone, not to look or act in any way that might ‘bring rape upon ourselves’. Perhaps the most obvious situation in which we are taught to be afraid is when walking home alone at night. The threat of violence is a total intrusion into women’s personal space and transforms a routine and/or potential pleasurable activity (for example, a walk in the park, a quiet evening at home, a long train journey) into a potentially upsetting, disturbing and often threatening experience.

Rape myths give people a false sense of security by minimising and/or denying the occurrence of sexual violence. They accomplish this by blaming the victim and making excuses for the perpetrator. In effect these myths perpetuate sexual violence because they play a powerful part in defining responses to rape and create an excuse not to address the realities of sexual violence.

‘Rape myths give people a false sense of security?’
I’d say the opposite is true.

Rape gets boring in the end, as a subject for debate, but it doesn’t seem to want to go away. Please read Brooke’s paper and pass it on.

Thanks! And fuck fear. That’s what I say.



Know The Difference?

Posted: January 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

Still from The Piano Teacher, By Michael Hanneke

‘We know that real men know the difference between rape and consensual sex’

This is the slogan that has been chosen to summarise a campaign launched recently by Lambeth council, ‘to address the growing numbers of rapes and sexual assaults, and to remind men of the legal and social consequences of going too far’.


When I posted the link to the Lambeth website on twitter, stating I was angry and distressed by it, people asked me why?

Well I am angry for two key reasons, no, three:

1) The concept of ‘REAL MEN’ knowing the difference between sexual assault, consensual sex, harassment and flirting, delineates between ‘real men’ and ‘not real men’. It draws on the values of machismo, to make men feel they are not ‘man enough’ if they do not fit certain social norms and behaviours. So, rape is not a great way to behave, I agree. But why should it relate to someone’s ‘manliness’? Isn’t that the kind of idea feminists are supposed to oppose: that a man’s masculinity can be proven by his sexual aggressiveness? So why would using this concept in its converse form be any better? And, as Mark Simpson commented in relation to a campaign about how ‘real men don’t pay for sex’, there is an insinuation here, an underlying message, a question posed in another way: ‘What kind of man are you? That does THAT?’

2) ‘Knowing the difference’ between sexual assault and consensual sex, or sexual harassment and flirting is not always easy, for men or women.

‘Flirting makes the receiver feel happy, excited and flattered’ says Lambeth’s website. ‘It can be a fun part of a night out. But when does flirting change and become hassling? Hassling can make a person feel degraded and scared’.

When indeed? I find it often depends on my mood. What can feel like flirty fun on one evening, becomes unwanted hassling on another. Or, it can depend on who is doing the ‘flirting’. I don’t think I’d be that likely to feel harassed if I was approached by James Franco, say, in a bar. But some pissed up bloke who I didn’t fancy? Maybe that’d be more annoying. Sometimes believe it or not, women flirt and also ‘harass’ men. You only have to go into town on a Friday night to see that some groups of women out drinking and chatting up men can be just as ‘in your face’ as their male counterparts.

And when it comes to sex the lines get even more blurred. What about when you have sex with your partner out of duty rather than desire? What if you really are too drunk to make a rational decision, but both parties are as drunk as each other, and it is an unsatisfying fumble and shove in the dark? The idea that sex is either consensual, wonderful and brilliant for everyone involved, or violent, horrible and assault by a man to a woman, is what is reinforced by campaigns like ‘Know the difference…’ No, I don’t always know the difference. If I were a man would that make me a criminal?

3) This campaign is aimed at men. Legally, in England and Wales**, rape is only possible by a ‘man’ against  a ‘woman’ (when we take man as someone with a penis). That’s another discussion to be had. But placing all the responsibility at men’s door for negotiating consent, and distinguishing between ‘flirting’ and ‘harassment’ , ‘sex’ and ‘assault’ is unfair and misleading.

‘Even if a woman has come back to your home, this doesn’t give you any right to expect sex’ says the campaign literature.
What if the woman has invited the man back to her home? What if she is so horny she can’t wait till they get home and takes him against a wall? The terms of this campaign keep women and men in those traditional roles that feminism* is supposed to challenge: man as aggressor, woman as victim. Man as ‘rapist’ woman as passive object of violence or desire. Man as predator, woman as prey. I am tired of these cliches being rolled out in the name of ‘health and safety’ and ‘protecting women’.

* I mention feminism as I think this and other campaigns are informed by feminism, and research into sexual violence and ‘rape culture’ always has a feminist perspective. Also as I have said elsewhere, feminists seem intent on keeping rape ‘special’ and keeping women as ‘victims’ and the status that accords them.

I am coming out. I admit I don’t know the difference, all the time, between flirting and harassment, wanted and unwanted attention, sex and ‘rape’, violence and sex. It is these blurring of boundaries that make sex possible, and even, sometimes, hot. Because if we all knew what was going on all the time, if we all had our health and safety manuals at our bedsides, if we all ‘asked permission’ every time we wanted to get it on, life would be  very boring indeed. As boring as Lambeth Council’s Rape Prevention Campaign.
**Scotland has just updated laws to make it ‘possible’ for women to rape men.

I was writing to someone about buggery. There is a certain genre of person who will never tire of talking about buggery. And who, in doing so, will sound as if they are talking about something much more poetic, like violence, or love, or the search for existential meaning in life. Some examples of this genre of person are, in fact, poets. I have never managed to write a decent poem about buggery. I wonder if it is in part as I have always been the ‘receiver’ in the act, so I have never had a perspective on the scene, an overlooking view, that the sodomiser would do. I have imagined it and seen it in pictures but never had that particular vantage point myself. Thankfully, the two poets I am featuring here, have made use of that particularly ‘queer’ perspective of he who is taking his lover from behind, to great and moving effect.

First I will show you an excerpt from Buggery by Don Paterson. It is unusual in that it deals with a man buggering a woman. Then you can read My Sad Captains by Thom Gunn, one of my favourite poets. I don’t know if he is talking about buggery here specifically, though  I am sure he must be alluding to it.

From Buggery by Don Paterson

and though I know it’s over with
and she is miles from me
I stay a while to mine the earth
for what was lost at sea

as if the faces of the drowned might turn up in the harrow:
hold me when I hold you down and plough the lonely furrow.

My Sad Captains, by Thom Gunn 1961

One by one they appear in
the darkness: a few friends, and
a few with historical
names.  How late they start to shine!
but before they fade they stand
perfectly embodied, all

the past lapping them like a
cloak of chaos.  They were men
who, I thought, lived only to
renew the wasteful force they
spent with each hot convulsion.
They remind me, distant now.

True, they are not at rest yet,
but now they are indeed
apart, winnowed from failures,
they withdraw to an orbit
and turn with disinterested
hard energy, like the stars.

I love the last three lines: ‘they withdraw to an orbit and turn with disinterested hard energy, like the stars’.

That’s what men do. It’s what I got accused of doing. In purely physical terms, it seems odd sometimes that the ‘bottom/woman’ is presented as being the more emotional and connected lover, when as a bottom/woman you can spend so much of the ‘lovemaking’ with your head turned away from your partner, or buried in a pillow  (especially if buggery is involved) and he can’t see your face or know your thoughts. You could be miles away. I was miles away, and lost at sea.

The ‘sadness’ in this poem is accentuated by the fact Gunn wrote alot in his later life about AIDS and the death of many of his friends and lovers. There is something inherently sad about buggery, and the AIDS crisis almost seemed to have been ‘predicted’ by the words of writers like Gunn who documented the ‘homosexual’ experience throughout history. I don’t know why this sadness comes out in the descriptions, both written and pictorial, of sodomy, and the object at the heart of it, the ass. We always come back to Bersani and his question ‘Is The Rectum A Grave?’ The answer to that question that screams out from these two poems at least, is ‘yes’.

I’m Losing My Edge

Posted: January 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

(I wrote this before the 2010 general election in the UK. It still represents how I feel. So what gives?)

I’m losing my edge.

The suits are coming up from behind.

I’m losing my edge to the suits and the non-doms.

But I was there.

I was there in 1979 I was there when Thatcher was still ‘the milk snatcher’.

I’m losing my edge.

I’m losing my edge to the geeks with the i-phones whose footsteps I can hear when they walk into starbucks.

I’m losing my edge to the internet seekers who have 4,000 songs on their i-pods the hipsters who wear suits for their day jobs

I’m losing my edge.

To all the kids who can’t remember John Major: with his underpants outside his trousers.

I was there in 1992 when he was superman.

I’m losing my edge.

But I was there in 1983 when Michael Foot preached socialism, and some of the kids still listened.

I was there in 1986 when Red Wedge played Birmingham Odeon.

Billy Bragg and The Communards, paying tribute to El Lissitsky.

I was the kid with the back-combed hair and the CND badge, singing along to My Ever Changing Moods with The Style Council.

I was there in 1987 when Kinnock fucked it up By kicking out Militant and LPYS, the socialists, the cool kids and me.

But I was there.

I’ve never been wrong.

I used to march on Whitehall, I remember Bruce Kent and Tony Benn.

I taped General Public’s benefit for the miners at Birmingham University

I went to Glastonbury before anyone.

I saw Ian Dury and the Blockheads there.

I woke up with a hangover in Sheffield in 1997 .

Blair was staring with his wild eyes and grinning: ‘Things Can Only Get Better’.

But I’m losing my edge to richer, better-groomed people with no ideas and no talent.

They tell me they are really, really nice.

But I don’t believe them.

I remember the Falklands.

I remember the Gulf War.

I remember Afghanistan and Iraq.

I’ve never been wrong.

I’m losing my edge.

And I was there in 2001 when I gave up on politics and turned to music instead.

Suddenly I was hanging out with the the cool kids.

I listened to Original Pirate Material in my bedsit in Meersbrook.

I argued with my friends about’Stories from the city, stories from the sea’.

I said it could never be better than Rid of Me.

I’ve never been wrong.

I saw Pulp’s farewell gig at Magna in Rotherham.

Jarvis was God for one night only and we all missed the tram home.

I saw Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at Brixton Academy, I saw Low and The Dears and Ambulance Ltd.

I thought I was in New York.

But I’m losing my edge.

I hear that you and your crew have sold your decks and bought i-pods

I hear that you and your crew have sold your i-pods and bought decks

I hear that everybody you know is more powerful than everybody I know.

But I’m losing my edge.

The suits are coming up from behind.

It’s 2010 and I don’t know what’s hip anymore.

When I was a kid I knew the words to The Internationale.

Now the kids quote Justin Beiber as if he was Gramsci.

I still have The Pixies, Bonny Prince Billy, Gillian Welch, New Young Pony Club, Le Tigre, L7, I still have Blondie and LCD Soundsystem, The Beat, Hot Chip, Lambchop, Jens Leckman.

It’s 2010 I’m not going to vote.

The hipsters in suits have got blood on their hands.

You don’t know what you really want.

A Kiss Is Still A Kiss

Posted: January 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

The world has changed since I went to university, and sipped warm pints in darkened rooms, listening to Pulp and avoiding most physical contact with members of the opposite sex in public, only getting into intimate clinches behind closed bedist doors. If I was lucky. These days, as some recent research has announced, young men in this case are happy to be seen kissing and showing affection to their straight male friends.

This story, picked up this week by The Guardian was  reported on enthusiastically last year by Mark Simpson, a long-time champion of changing behaviours and attitudes of young men:

‘Researchers at the University of Bath found that 89 per cent of white undergraduate men at two UK universities and one sixth form college said they were happy to kiss another man on the lips through friendship.

It sounds though as if they may have been talking to members of the university rugby team:

They found that 36 per cent of respondents had also engaged in sustained kissing, initially for shock value, but now they occurred just for ‘a laugh’.

Dr Eric Anderson, the academic behind the survey claimed, plausibly enough, that heterosexual men kissing one another is a result of the decline of homophobia:

‘At these universities, overt homophobia has reduced to near extinction, permitting those men to engage in behaviour that was once taboo.

University in the UK is now probably one of the most gay tolerant environments imaginable.  Which of course would impact on how non-gay men behave towards one another too, since homophobia is one of the key ways in which male-male relations in general are made to conform to traditional ideas about what is ‘normal’ and ‘masculine’.

However news of this new embracing of continental habits of affection by young men has not been so warmly received by readers of the gay press. When the research was reported in Pink News, for example, some rather negative, sceptical comments were made:

‘I think what this research probably points to is the selective homophobia of heterosexuals, i. e how in one context they can be gay affirmative; and then in another context show gross insensitivity and intolerance to LGBT people.’

‘I think the recent BBC Elton-Baby report is a good example of “Institutional Selective Homophobia”, in light of other reports on LGBT issues which have appeared progay.’

‘More research I think is needed into why some heterosexuals can behaviour in a “Schzoid” manner in relation to homosexuality and LGBT issues.’

‘The majority of abuse I and my girlfriend have got has been from young people – ie those from 13 to 25 or so. I actually think it’s INCREASING not decreasing. The attitude of some (note – SOME) young people seems quite ‘backward’ compared to a decade or so ago. I think for some of them it’s a mixture of ignorance and trying to be ‘cool’. Look at all the homophobic comments on sites like Youtube to see where they get their ideas from.’

‘I also think that for some straight people saying you don’t mind kissing someone of the same sex is a sign that you’re not gay and another way to emphasise just how straight you are’.

‘not convinced at all….this was ‘straight’ kissing…..did he ask if they would kiss a gay man?’

It seems as if, ironically, it is gay people who are having problems getting to grips with the newfound willingness of straight lads to lock lips!

I wonder why this is?

It could be because it doesn’t fit in with current narratives by gay rights groups of homophobic bullying, especially in schools and colleges, gay teen suicides and the ‘victim status’ of gay people. These narratives have been expressed by the recent and continuing It Get’s Better Project, and by organisations such as Stonewall who have emphasised the ‘alarming’ level of homophobia in Britain’s Schools:

Or it could be that gay people just want to keep manlove special.

I wholly welcome the findings of this research. I wish I was a student again so I could witness some of this boy-on-boy action for myself.

I do have one niggling doubt, about how far young men, however much they don’t mind being mistaken for ‘gays’ if they are caught kissing their mates, feel totally comfortable about gay sexual practices such as anal sex and sucking cock. I’m not saying they harbour secret desires to do those things, though I don’t see why they shouldn’t. I just wonder if one reason they don’t mind being associated with ‘gays’ is that being gay these days is seen more as a lifestyle and less of an actual form of sexuality and collection of specific, ‘deviant’ sexual behaviours between men.

Dr Eric Anderson, who led the research, is planning his next project on men ‘hugging’ and cuddling each other. Maybe he will ask some of those slightly more awkward questions this time, about what it might mean if their hugs were to develop into something more (homo)sexual, or how they might feel if one of their ‘straight’ mates wasn’t actually straight at all and kissed with a real sense of desire.

A kiss is just a kiss, in my experience you see, except when it isn’t.