Thursday, December 23, 2004

Merry Christmas

I fully intended to post a review of the year and highlight my favourite bloggers for Christmas – but as usual I am running late. We are due to be leaving for my parents in 20 minutes and I haven’t packed my bags or finished wrapping presents!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and I’ll see you in 2005.

Monday, December 20, 2004

I’m getting married in the morning…

Just got back form the work’s Christmas Lunch. We went to a local restaurant and had a really great meal. It is my last day at this place tomorrow so it was also the last time I will see a few people. We had excellent Christmas crackers as well with top quality ‘surprises’ inside. I got a whoopee cushion which I managed to surprise my boss with – always a good laugh!

Most bizarrely we were on a long table in the restaurant with a further horseshoe shaped table alongside. This table was for a wedding party who were sharing the restaurant with us. So, we all had party hats on, cracking (snapping? pulling?) crackers and blowing the party tooters while the wedding party were having a sedate wedding lunch. I had seated myself strategically opposite the bride so I could see everything that was going on. She did look lovely but I can confirm that she tucked a paper napkin into her bodice and ate with her mouth open.

At the end of the meal my boss presented me with some leaving gifts, (lots of Alessi goodies) and I was urged to make a speech. I stood up and thanked everyone, including the wedding party who had stopped their meal to listen. It was quite bizarre to make the first speech at some random strangers wedding!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Christmas is coming

I haven’t had much time for blogging. It is my last few days in the current job and it is a mixture of manic work spurts to get everything completed and slacking off time when I check out other blogs, order things on-line (priest calendar, Kylie CD, xmas presents) and sneaking out for ‘coffee-breaks’ with people I may not see again before I leave.

I have been to see my friend a couple of times in the hospital and he is looking and feeling pretty good. Still waiting for the outcome of his tests, but he is treating it a bit like a holiday with breakfast in bed, free internet access and the opportunity to lie in bed all morning listening to Radio 4 (heaven in my book). He is hoping to be back at home at the end of the week, which is pretty important. Still being in hospital over Christmas would be a really crappy way to spend the holiday.

At the weekend we went to the local Forestry Commission to get our sustainable Christmas tree. It is exactly 4 mm short of the ceiling and done up in a very stylish (read gay!) way with white feathers and red, silver and clear baubles. It looks great with the newly sanded boards and would go really well with the new sofas –if they were coming! Basically, we were told our new sofas would be here next week. We arranged to get rid of the old ones and are sitting on boxes for this week. Yesterday we were informed that there was a ‘ghost’ in the system and although the computer shows our sofa waiting at the distribution centre it hasn’t actually been made. We will get a replacement – but not until February 4th! Needless to say I wasn’t best pleased about this. The store is lending us an Italian leather sofa until ours arrives and we will get some compensation. We were pretty pissed off, but at least it means the new sofas won’t be covered in smoke/wine/spunk over Christmas and we can safely have everyone over for New Year with something to sit on.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


Being away from home I have taken the opportunity to ring some old friends up each evening. It relieves the boredom of bring away from home and is a bit of a luxury given that there is always something else I can be doing when I am at home.

Last night I decided to ring my ex, we lived together for a number of years, and still get on fine even though we don’t see each other very often. I couldn’t get hold of him so I rang a mutual friend (G). G told me that h he was actually in hospital having some tests as he had been feeling pretty run down. G told me the ward and I had some immediate concerns. I knew that the ward was the infectious diseases ward that also covers the barrier nursing/isolation areas. I rang him up and he told me his diagnosis and that he was awaiting the results of some tests. His CD4 count was down to 50, which is pretty low. I was really shocked and spent a long time talking some things through with him. He has know a few weeks and is beginning to adjust as he has friends who are in the same boat, so knows that it is not the ‘death sentence; that a lot of people think it is. He is waiting for the results of a lot of tests before being advised what the next steps are and seems keen, as you would expect, to get back home and start thinking about the future.

Even so, it will take time for him to establish the right treatment regime and make the life changes that will be needed. He is keen to not let his status be the defining factor in his life, which makes sense, albeit it will be difficult, as some people will put 2 and 2 together. I have already had to be prudent when G rang back to see if I had got hold of him and asked if I knew any more information. It isn’t my information to share and I need to respect that.

I have had some guilt of my responses to this news. It is a combination of sadness that after he has had an active sex life for 30 years, taking the best precautions and managed to protect himself, he has now been exposed to the virus and it will, inevitably, mean some significant changes to the way he leads his life. I am also scared as I know it may mean he will die sooner and, although we haven’t talked about it, I assume he has given that a lot of to that too. I have also found it hard to separate my reactions from how I feel for him and how it has made me feel. It seems selfish to be thinking about me in all of this and how it has affected me, as this is an indirect and manageable response. However, I think that is only human to have your own emotional response and to deny that would be foolish.

Obviously, this has been on my mind a lot to day. I will be going to see him when I get back and m ay know what I feel more when I have talked to him.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


I was reminded of Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore last night while having my dinner. There was a couple sat behind me, who in most ways were completely inoffensive, except that the guy had a really annoying habit of tapping his feet, staccato, every few minutes.

I was driven by a fury to grab a wine bottle to smash over his head every time this sound filtered into my brain. I did manage to control my aggression and try to blank it out. Sandler came into my brain both for the aggression of his characters and the line from Gilmore about "tap-tap-tap-a-roo". This brought a smile to my face, temporarily removed my intolerance, and made me remember to watch happy Gilmore again very soon.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Back in Brum

I am back in Birmingham for a week on the Health Economics Masters course. Not the best way I want to be spending a week in December given that I have 15 days left in my current job and a load of handover reports to write and there are a load of things that need to be done for our NY party. Never mind writing cards, wrapping gifts etc. This morning we have been learning about bootstrapping. This sounds like it could me anew and exciting version of cock and ball torture (probably not a work safe link), but is actually a very exciting way of resampling data to reduce inaccuracies in data sets. I can see that the rest of the week is going to be a barrel of laughs.

In anticipation of me being away we have been clearing the ground floor of furniture, carpets, pictures etc as the floor sander (or Sandman as I like to affectionately call him) is arriving today to sand and varnish the floorboards. This is probably the last job we will get done before Christmas, apart from the new sofas arriving; the paining, curtains etc will have to wait for the New Year.

Another job for 2005 is replacing the hideous 1950s fireplace with something more like what would have originally have been there. As the first step in achieving this, and to allow the Sandman to sand right up to the edges, we decided to remove the old heart. This was a good decision in that we have found that the original old hearth tiles were hidden away and will look great with the marble mantle. It was a bad decision as the hearth slipped from my hands, crushing my boyfriend’s fingers. 3 hours later we are leaving the NHS walk in centre with x-rays, fractures, antibiotics and dressings. Not the best way to spend a Sunday afternoon, although the staff and the treatment were great.

So, I am stuck in Birmingham when I really want to be at home and nothing to keep me company apart from an old issue of Attitude with the usual dirty phone line titles for stimulus (so not all bad then!)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

World AIDS Day

It is thanks to others (Terreus and Kevin) that I have even realised that World AIDS Day is today. This has been particularly under promoted event this year with a lot of complacency (especially in the UK) that infections are dropping and that new drugs mean that people think any infections can be treated, if not cured.

Infections are still on the rise. Thousands of new cases of HIV are still being diagnosed in the UK each year and the only way we can stop it spreading is by creating a more AIDS Aware society in which everyone takes action. Follow these links for more information: This may be as simple as learning more about HIV, attending a World AIDS Day event or practicing safer sex... but no matter how small or large their contribution, they are all making a difference.

This has really made me think about the perception of HIV and AIDS in the UK. I remember being at college in 19 the late 80s. I was the NUS President for our college and beginning to realise that I was different (or special!). My first forays into Gayworld were at a time when dental dams, condoms and lube were being given away freely for the first time and frottage, felching and sensual massage where terms that meant very little (I was only 17, so a quick hand job was the height of sophistication). I worked with the Equal Opportunities Officer and Welfare and Campaigns Group (do they even have such thinks now?) to promote AIDS Awareness One aspect of this was displaying posters in the Common Room. These were soon defaced with “poofs” and other enlightened scrawl and it was obvious then that this was just seen as a gay disease.

Later on, when I was working in HIV prevention in the 90s, we were fighting a battle to ‘reclaim’ HIV as a gay disease. Attitudes in the UK had moved enough to recognise that other groups were at risk, but it had moved so far that funding for prevention and treatment was disproportionately being directed to straight communities. I moved into more general health management in the late 90s and now I fell out of touch with the messages that young gay men are exposed to. I have no idea whether they see it a as real risk, or just another part of gay history to be consigned to Alan Hollinghurst novels and the old queen at the end of the bar who eyes up the twinks.