Title listing of my blogs
Beautiful. Thought-provoking. Absolutely mesmerising… You know how sometimes we choose not to see things? A couple making a scene in a restaurant say, or some guy in the street maybe, asking for change; only we turn a blind eye because it makes us uncomfortable. We become engrossed in our phones, look down at the pavement, maybe even cross the street for good measure, quietly humming away to ourselves “la,la,la - sorry can’t see you…” as we quickly bolt and make our escape. Well you can’t do that here… because Vicky Moran’s incredible play “No Sweat” shines a spotlight so brightly on the subject matter that there is literally nowhere to hide from the truth. Which is that there is a LGBTQ+homelessness crisis…and it’s getting worse. No Sweat tells the stories of three, young, gay, homeless men, “Tristan”” Alf “and “Charlie”, who randomly cross paths whilst seeking solace in a sauna. It explores and exposes the underlying bigotry, bullying and relationship breakdowns that they face, whilst highlighting a series of hopeless faults and flaws in our called “support” system that not only throws them together, but also, without exception, manages to throw them under the bus. Denholm Spurr shines as “Tristan”, a relative newcomer to the dark streets of London. Lost, lonely, and completely out of his depth, he sleeps with strangers he meets at the spar or on Grindr for free in order to put a roof over his head. James Haymer is incredible as “ Alf”, a street-wise but self-destructive wrecking-ball, fuelled by suspicion, pent-up emotion, and liberal helpings of GHB as he spends his days and nights getting paid by the hour… but it is “Charlie” ( played by Manish Gandhi) who is, without a shadow of a doubt, the absolute shining star of the show. Forced to flee his native Pakistan because he is gay, his heart-breaking story of beatings and brutality, coupled with his fathers twisted attempts to make him “Un-gay”, made me want to cry. Broken-hearted and destitute, he hides himself away in the sauna whilst attempting to seek asylum here, only to be told through a series of increasingly ridiculous interrogations by the Home Office that actually he is “not gay enough” to be allowed to stay. Produced by Reece McMahon, No Sweat is an absolute triumph, managing to be both harrowing and enthralling at the same time. No easy task, when you consider the subject matter. The tiny, yet incredibly intimate venue, means that the audience is seated mere feet away from the cast, and this, coupled with Alex Berry’s ingenuitive portable set design, and genius finishing touches such as the scented “steam” from the sauna that gently wafts through the audience at times, is what helps give the play its eerie, immersive feel. But the thing that really sets this play apart, the thing that sits at the heart of it all, is the fact that all of the stories featured in this play are true. Transcribed by Moran from real interviews, given by real people hoping to expose the plight facing a forgotten generation of homeless gay youth. And they have done this in spades. So, go see this play…and then when you have seen it, go tell all your friends. So that they can tell theirs and then hopefully this play can get the recognition it deserves. Because it’s absolutely beautiful. 4 Stars.
Sent from Mail for Windows 10
I'm sat in the sunshine with an old friend.
And so I don't see that he's walking through town until he's right at my table, telling me that he's had a drink.
And those words cut through me like knives and everything changes in an instant, as the grim reaper himself takes a seat right in front of me, grinning like a cheshire cat, pointing at his scythe and mouthing the words "I've got another one..."
It's hard, being a writer. Because everything you see, do or hear potentially has a story behind it. One that, if shared with the world, would resonate with somebody, somewhere...maybe give them some hope, or an idea or bring clarity or whatever.
There are 200 odd blogs on my website. There could easily be triple that number if I didn't have to filter things. But I do, I do filter. I have to. To spare feelings, to stop secrets spilling out, to keep up appearances. There are a million and one reasons why I can't always write the things that I want to write and every time it kills me.
Because I'm a writer. I need to write... It's how I make sense of things, put some order in my world, keep everything peachy. It's my outlet, my off switch...it's how I convey to the world "enough...I've had enough now...just let me be for a while, tap tap tapping away while I make sense of of this and then i'll be back, just as soon as I've got this thing out of my head and onto this page"...
If I didn't have to filter I could tell people that recently I moved away for a while. Made a fresh start. Pushed my own boundaries, ventured out on my own...because things were unstable where I was and I was desperately unhappy.
But then I came back, because I really missed my boyfriend and I wanted things to work, even though present circumstances mean that he is far from being my Mr Right, right now.
If I didn't have to filter I could tell people that I think I have bi-polar. That at times it scares the shit out of me. That it sends me into panic, meaning that I do odd, spontaneous, off the wall things...like moving hundreds of miles away on a whim to make a fresh start. To wipe my slate clean...to become someone new. Someone with a better, maybe more reliable head than mine...only to find that when I get there, that I still have my own head, only now I have a greatly reduced social circle and a lot less money because I spent it all on train tickets.
If I didn't have to filter I could tell people that I'm sick of my boyfriend giving me false hope. Telling me that he is cutting down his alcohol consumption...me believing him, and then sitting here like an idiot with only a burnt chicken for dinner because he's still sat in a bar somewhere drinking with his mates.
If I didn't have to filter I could just tell it like it is...just for once.
I think that maybe, just maybe I'm all done filtering...
This is a blog about my mum.
I don't write about her very often. Our relationship is complex and mostly non-existent. Which I hate... but that's how it's always been so now I just get on with it.
As a child, living with my mum was like trying to balance a handgrenade.
On a see-saw.
With no hands.
My little brother perched on one end, me on the other, and my mum the un-exploded bomb in the middle, in all of her unpredicable, chaotic glory rolling around between us, the pin constantly working loose but never quite coming out completely.
The fear of that pin coming out caused me to live my life in a constant state of high alert and high anxiety, which now I mostly manage, but back then was horrendous, because I never knew for sure if my day was going to be a near miss, or a series of expertly timed explosions.
It was excrutiating.
So he's coming to see me. This amazing "blast from the past" super-cool person of mine.
Because it's going to be amazing.
Me and him. A hotel room somewhere. And an absolute whale of a time guaranteed. All arranged lastminute.com which is always how we roll...
A "Hey _____ I've been thinking. I've missed your face. And I'd really love to come see you again ...are you gonna be free between ____ and _____? (Him)
(Me) "What's there to even think about? Do it. Come see me. Get in the car and get down here...will be amazing. So yes. I'll make sure that I'm free...'cos I've missed your face too..." kind of conversation.
And so he's coming. To see me. In two weeks. I'm turning cartwheels.
Fuck...I'm turning cartwheels.
I need to do a risk assesment...
So this is a story about a man.
A funny, intelligent and articulate man who has recently snowballed into my day to day life. Out of the blue. From Nowhere. Completely unexpectedly, and completely unannounced. I'm still attempting to process it all. It's kind of a complicated story. Involving an extremely complicated man.
We crossed paths via social media. He'd followed me on twitter. I checked his profile and clicked onto one of his blogs. And time kind of stopped for me. Literally. As I re-read his words and struggled to take in exactly what this guy was telling me.
Because as I read this blog it was clear that this guy had had a plan. Which didn't involve following me (or anyone else for that matter) on twitter if it had worked. He wouldn't have had time to sit about surfing the internet and making new aquaintences. He would have been way too busy being dead. Which is kind of a full time job once you've comitted to it. And from what I could see he was pretty comitted. Up to his neck in it actually.
Anyway. Long story short.
Despite his well thought out and carefully articulated plan, involving ingesting enough prescription medicine to knock out a small country, washed down with copious amounts of tepid white wine, coupled with the fact that nobody actually knew quite where to find him whilst all of this topping himself on social media business was going on, (which didn't help the emergency services who were at this point frantically attempting to locate him), for some unknown reason, somewhere along the lines that night it didn't quite work out.
Mainly because he found himself very much "Not Dead" . When he woke up very much alive on an acute psychiatric ward. From an induced coma. With tubes going into places that really should only allow for stuff coming out. Along with various other pleasantries that had been carried out in a desperate attempt to save his life.
And that's how the weirdest friendship in the world began. I sent him a message. He messaged me back. The rest is history.
He's bringing out stuff in me that I can't describe.
I feel an incredible protectiveness towards him. We are similar in lots of ways and share the same history. I'm hearing my story but told by a man and from a mans perspective. We are both alive when we didn't actually want or plan to be. And dealing with the implications of that. Our similarities are beyond weird.
We talk every day.
I try and walk the line between keeping him cheerful and making conversation that isn't going to be too overwhelming. There's a lot going on in that head of his right now what with him still being alive and all....
I take the piss a lot. There is no elephant in the room during our conversations. It's how it should be. And I send him stuff. Snapchats. A song from the movie "Suicide Squad". I call it "My cheer up song." It's a private joke. Thankfully, he thought it was funny too when I explained. We share the same dark humour at times.
He has an adopted sunflower.
He didn't get a say in it really. I just gave it to him. It lives in my bathroom where it gets plenty of sun. He gets regular updates and photo's - as though he's signed up for some random charity or other off the TV. "Look Nick - here's "Sunflower" chilling out on my windowsill." ( He doesn't have a name. He's just "Sunflower"), or "Nick, check out Sunflower and his brother in this pic. Your's is kicking ass. He's grown loads"....
Although obviously Sunflower is a metaphor, Sunflower is real. He is growing. Every day I see tiny changes in him. My friend is growing too. He might not always think so but he is.
I've known him no time at all, but I have the greatest respect for this guy and I wish that I could do more to help. I want him to be well. And far away from a psych ward. Being comfortable in his skin. Being happy. But that's not my job to do and not my thing to wish for. It's his. It has to be his.
I don't have a magic wand. I can't just wave something and make him better. It's not that simple. Only he can decide where he goes from here. To a Penthouse or a Park bench. It's a 50/50. It's going to be a long haul. But if this guy is half the guy I think he is, he'll do it. With bells on. He just needs to cut himself some slack.
In the meantime, I'm honoured to know him. It's like I see into his soul. And hopefully my chit chat helps. So for now the songs, the snapchats and the crazy Sunflower photos are staying on the menu. To try to compensate for the terrible hospital food. While he puts himself back together however he sees fit. Until he doesn't need them anymore. Maybe because he'll have his own garden again and can grow his own Sunflowers. No internet intervention necessary.... Or no garden at all. It's up to him. It's his life. And gardens are over-rated anyway.
Basically, what I'm trying to say to this man is this. That the past is the past. It's happened. It's gone. Nothing and no-one can change that. And despite his best laid plans for his life at that point, fate appeared to have a different agenda when the shit hit the fan for him that night. And maybe there's a reason for that.
So he's alive. With a fresh clean slate. If nothing else resonates right now, it's a start.
Also known as a beginning.
But if I did have a wish for this friend of mine, it would be this.....That you would choose to begin Nick.
I’m black and I’m blue and I’m feeling degraded,
My hair is a mess and my make-up is faded
I look in the mirror, despise what I see, then I look at this man who means nothing to me
I creep out the door before he awakes,
I’m tired and I’m ill…there is nothing to take
I don’t leave my number, I don’t know his name,
I’m tired and hungover and burning with shame
I creep down the backstreets, avoid being seen, and I long for a shower, or just to feel clean
There’s no-one to turn to, there’s nowhere to go,
It’s just me and my head in this shit horror show
So I head for the basement and open a can,
And I drink to get shit-faced as fast as I can
I’m all out of options, I’m running on empty, I have nothing left now, I’m just how he left me
I’m counting the days now, I’m counting the hours,
Because soon I’ll be dead and be pushing up flowers
And I’m ok with that, I’m resigned to my fate, because I’ve tried and I’ve failed to keep spinning these plates
It’s too much too deal with, it’s too much to take, and I’ll tell that to God when I’m stood at his gate
And I hope that he gets it…that he sees that I’ve tried, as I drown in the river of tears that I cried
Because I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to stay, in this horrible head fuck of “Alcohol Day”
So somebody help me, or let’s get it over, I’m all out of hope, I can’t deal with life sober
So this is my story, and this is my shame,
Written here on my face and beside my real name...