Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Happy Birthday...

A year ago today I wrote the first post for this blog, with a challenge to myself to write an entry every day for six months. Six months came and went and I now find myself, 366 posts later, writing the 367th on the blog's first birthday.

Whether it's my birthday or Christmas day,  whether I'm on holiday, hungover or ill, I've managed to keep it going; I haven't missed a day. Writing a post every day has been fun sometimes, frustrating sometimes but interesting always. I guess when I started, I realised that this would be the case. There are days when this blog virtually writes itself and other days when I sit and stare at the screen for hours on end with not a thought in my head.

I'd be the first to admit that some posts are better written and more entertaining than others. I guess this is understandable when you sit down every night, often, with little idea of what you're going to write about. There are so many elements that need to come together and in the right mix. Often a good idea for a post is badly executed and sometimes a not so good idea is lifted by good writing. And, as an exercise about having to write something every day, I've gained quite a lot of insight about me and my approach to writing.

So what does the future hold for The Scarperer? Well, I won't be blogging every day; in its second year, I'd like to write because I want to rather than because I have to write. I want to understand how that changes what I write and how I approach things. I've also been thinking of introducing some audio blogs. Finally, every post will be accompanied by a link, 1 Year Ago, pointing to the post written (you guessed it) 1 year ago. And so, without further ado...

1 Year Ago:Nothing but an orthotic wearing, high arched, under pronator...

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Taste the difference...

After my swim tonight I called in at Morrisons on my bike ride home. I usually go to Asda but it's further away and given that it was a bit drizzly and... blah... blah... blah... Anyway, I dropped in at Morrisons for a change.

Coasting up and down the aisles and singing along to the piped music, "...Babooshka, Babooshka, Babooshka-ya-ya. All yours, Babooshka, Babooshka, Babooshka-ya-ya..." my head was turned once, twice and once again. The eye-candy at Morrisons in Cardiff Bay is certainly attention grabbing. I don't think I've ever scored so high playing Hotty or Notty.

I couldn't help but compare it to my usual Asda experience, which, let's face it, is a little chavvy. It's not a great range on offer and the quality can be questionable - unless you happen to have a fetish for scrawny scally lads or big women in leggings. I'm pleased to say that neither appeals to me.

It was at that point that I heard my name being called. I stopped ogling and singing along to Kate Bush and turned to see a friend from work, Leah. I hope she didn't spot me totty watching...?

Monday, 25 June 2012

My life as a dog...

The one negative aspect of a great weekend is adjusting to Monday and everything it brings. A bright weekend can cast a long shadow over the working week. Usually, I'm quite good at this readjustment; only last week I returned from Gran Canaria on the Saturday and was back in work on Monday harbouring little reluctance or reticence.

Today was totally different; I just yearned for the easy and relaxed time I'd enjoyed over the weekend. I wanted to sit in bars and cafes and not at my desk or in meetings. The day dragged as did my feet and made everything seem like a challenge; simply going for a wee felt like one of the labours of Hercules. Today was certainly a dog of a day.

Glad when home time came, I cycled back to the Bay and bought a bottle of red on the way - I felt I'd earned it. I'd almost talked myself out of going for a run and into just opening the wine. However, something in me forced me out of the door and I set off in my usual direction - over the bridge toward the Sports Village. The weather was lovely and I soon developed a spring in my step. The corners of my mouth began to curl upward.

Passing Cardiff International Pool, instead of following it round as I usually do and onwards back to the Bay, I suddenly crossed the road and started running in the direction of Pont Y Werin over the River Ely. I surprised myself with this sudden change in direction. I'm not sure what possessed me. Before I knew it I was heading for the barrage, committing myself to a longer run than I'd planned. By now though, I was grinning.

I read in an old running magazine the other day that you should run like a dog; sprint, smile, trot, pant, change direction, get wet, don't get too hung up and enjoy it. It's excellent advice as it's very easy to become too serious about running, what with all the clothing, equipment and accessories. It's very easy to lose sight of what a fun, free and exhilarating activity it can and should be.

My run around the barrage tonight was amazing, made all the more so by it not being planned. The sun was shining and it really felt good to be alive. I felt like the dog described in the running magazine as I darted about, panting and enjoying myself. It was a wonderful reminder of why I run and what a simple pleasure it is in itself. It really is a dog's life...

Today's run at 17:25
Distance7.50 kmTime45:19
Pace6:03 min/kmCadence82 spm
Comments: Sunny.

Sunday, 24 June 2012


There is something magical about seeing an original piece of art, especially a famous piece such as the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris or Guernica at the Reina Sofia in Madrid. I can't help but get excited because I'm only inches away from something so special and, in the case of the Mona Lisa and Guernica, created by talents of monumental proportions.

Of course we all have our favorite artists and works of art. For me, Hieronymus Bosch is one such artist and to stand in the same room at the Prado in Madrid as one of his most famous pieces, The Garden of Earthly Delights, was an exhilarating moment. Other moments of the same caliber were seeing Jan van Eyk's Arnolfini Portrait and the Wilton Diptych, both at the National Gallery in London. The list goes on.

And to that list I can now add the da Vinci anatomical drawings, having seen them at the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace yesterday. Their intricacy and detail lend them a beauty and intrigue you can only marvel at. Just to be in the same room as something created by a genius of Leonardo da Vinci's proportions is humbling.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Tigers on Vaseline...

I traveled to London after work yesterday evening to meet my friend Howard from Manchester. After some food, a bit of gay bar hopping around Old Compton St and Brewer St and a not too late night, we were up and mooching about the capital by late morning today.

Our first stop was The Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace for the Leonardo da Vinci Anatomist exhibition. It's the largest exhibition ever put together of his anatomical drawings and notes; a simple but well laid out exhibition. My lasting impression was the inquisitiveness of this man and his capacity for attention to detail. Incredible and very beautiful.

A quick flit around the Buckingham Palace gift shop, negotiating the Union Flag tea towels, Diamond Jubilee embroidered cushions, royal themed crockery, Betty Windsor calendars and some tempting t shirts with "Princess" written in diamanté across them left us both feeling satiated with royalty to the brink of nausea; enough to turn anyone republican.

This was followed by a saunter through Soho and a beer and veggie burger lunch at Byron. Whilst eating lunch, I managed to track down the whereabouts of Heddon St on my phone. This is the location of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album cover shot and is not the easiest street to find in London. Search for it on Maps on the iPhone and you are simply directed to Regent St. However, a bit of detective work revealed its exact location.

A quick mince down Brewer St and then across Regent St saw me standing in Heddon St, exactly where Mr Stardust himself stood some 40 years ago and a bewildered Howard forced to take photos of me doing so. It's certainly changed in that time, dotted with its cafes, bars and quick eateries. Judging by the photo, I don't think I'd cut it as a messianic, alien rock star.

We retraced our steps back along Brewer St to a bar that Howard knew called The Yard; on two floors with a little courtyard, we sat outside enjoying a couple of beers and watching the gay boys come and go. The perfect end to a lovely day out together.

As I write this, I'm sat on the train back to Cardiff. Opposite me are two Christians. I know this because they both have their New Testaments close at hand. They eye me with suspicion, as if I had 666 tattooed across my forehead. Perhaps they can smell that I'm a non believer? Well, I am wearing L'Atheist, eau de toilette pour homme by Lenthéric.

He is fat and much younger than her. He wears a red hoodie with "Playboy Mansion" emblazoned across the front with a photo of some scantily clad female to accompany it. He stares blankly; his mouth hangs open, the cavity filled by his swollen tongue. I catch him looking at me and his eyes flick to staring out the window again.

She is tiny, delicate and is pale to the point of translucence. I can see the veins in her marshmallow skin. She fingers a copy of "The Lady" as she slowly tries to eat an M&S salad, leaf by leaf, with a plastic spoon. Watching this is frustrating beyond belief. Were she a child and I her parent, I'd have to slap her and tell her to stop playing with her food.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Judy, Judy, Judy...

Forty three years ago today Judy Garland died. It was 1969 and her 5th husband, Mickey Deans (whom she'd only married in March of that year), discovered her body in her rented apartment in Chelsea, London.

The cause of death was an overdose of barbituates and debate rages as to whether this overdose was accidental or intentional. Her Wizard of Oz co-star Ray Bolger commented at her funeral, "She just plain wore out."

Garland had always had a large gay following and that increased following her death. It is said that the increased emotion around grieving for her was partly responsible for the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village, New York City in the early hours of June 29th (her funeral took place June 28th). The Stonewall Riots are cited as the birth place of the modern gay movement, "when the drag queens and faggots fought back" against the police raids.

Everybody has their favorite Judy film. For many it will be The Wizard of Oz, for others it will be Meet Me in St Louis. For me it has to be A Star is Born. Her performance of The Man that Got Away is perfection.

But not quite as good as mine...

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Everything and nothing...

Last night's post about my new hair trimmer attracted a comment from a friend of mine, "What's that got to do with running, swimming or biking ...not to be pinikity...?" To which I replied, "Everything and nothing..."

I guess he was referring to the sentence below the blog's title, "A blog about running, swimming and cycling and the things I think about whilst I'm running, swimming and cycling..." And, of course, you may well be thinking the same thing.

I wasn't being facetious in my reply; yesterday's post had everything to do with last night's swim (whilst swimming I was thinking about whether the reviews I'd read about the trimmer were accurate and I'd bought a crock of shite) and yesterday's post had nothing to with last night's swim (it bore no material difference to the swim itself).

Indeed, the majority of my posts are not about running, swimming or cycling but every one of them has been thought about whilst performing one of those activities. The mind (or should I say, "My mind...") really does go to some strange place during exercise. I'm sure there are many who will testify to this. It's as if my mind escapes to a sphere of its own while my body gets on with its exercise.

When I first started this blog, I tried to obviously tie each post to an activity. I'd start posts with sentences like, "While out running tonight..." and then introduce the theme of the post. I'm more relaxed about it now but with that relaxation, I guess, it isn't necessarily obvious where that theme came from. Anyway, I hope that sort of explains it.

Switching subjects somewhat; you'll be pleased to hear that my Garmin sports watch seems to have finished its hissy fit and is behaving itself again, as evidenced by the inclusion again of the running record below.
Today's run at 17:19
Distance6.13 kmTime38:59
Pace6:21 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Raining.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The return of Ming the Merciless...

My hair clippers broke a couple of weeks ago; well, actually, they still work but the comb guard keeps falling off. And a loose comb guard is not very useful if you're looking for an even and uniform finish.

Since they broke I've been using my stubble trimmer to shave my head. This works fine but takes forever. It's a bit fiddly to get right and I'm never convinced that there isn't some tuft I've missed lurking somewhere around the back.

Yesterday, I bought a new head trimmer for the bargain price of £20. As an afterthought, I then had a look online for user reviews (backwards, I know) and dug up these reviews on Amazon's site. Most of them, it seems, are not exactly complimentary. So it was, with some anxiety and fearing the worst, that I attempted to shave my head tonight.

As indeed some of the reviews on the Amazon site suggest, the comb guard is useless and, even at the lowest setting, the trimmer did not touch one follicle on my head. I threw caution to the wind, dispensed with the comb guards and just applied the trimmer to my head for a grade 0 cut.

I have to admit that, with its rotary cutting action, it shaved my head (a wee bit shorter than I'd normally go) in no time at all. Admittedly, the trimmer comes with a little accessory trimmer of its own to edge and finish but I don't think it's very flexible. I evened things off using my stubble trimmer and the whole operation took next to no time and produced a uniform and pleasing finish.

The verdict? If you want a quick and even closely shaved head and you have a stubble trimmer of your own that you can use to edge and finish off, then this unit is useful and worth consideration. If you're looking to buy a trimmer to cut anything above grade 0 and you don't have a stubble trimmer to fall back on, then I'd avoid this; it doesn't do what the manufacturers claim it does.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Victor Spinetti...

Victor Spinetti died yesterday. He was a Welsh actor, writer, director and raconteur. He found fame with Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop and in the films he made with the Beatles. He performed for the RSC, in the West End and on Broadway and was a talented mimic.

I was lucky enough to meet him a few times during my time as an actor. He always told a good story:
Victor was working on a play in Paris and his mother and sister were visiting from Cwm. Rehearsals were running late and so he rang up his good friend Marlene Dietrich to ask if she would entertain them at his hotel until such time as he could get there.

After rehearsals had finished and he dashed across town in a cab, he walked into the lobby of his hotel to find his mother and sister sat in the bar with Dietrich. They were dressed identically in homemade dresses, the material having been bought in Pontypool market and there they were; giving Marlene Dietrich beauty and fashion tips.
He had hundreds of funny anecdotes, many of which found their way into his books and into his one man shows. Here's the BBC News obituary. Here's the Guardian's obituary.

R.I.P. Victor Spinetti 1929 - 2012

Monday, 18 June 2012

Get a Garmin...

Tonight's run was a bit of a lardy legged affair. I think I'm feeling a little under the weather; I began to get a sore throat on the last day of my holiday. It has stayed with me ever since and been joined by a headache, spotty skin, cold sore, upset stomach and aching joints. All of them quite mild but fatiguing all the same. Perhaps tonight's run was a mistake?

You may be wondering what happened to the running while I was away. After all, there have been no mentions of any runs and no green inked summaries at the bottom of any post since before I left for my holiday over a week ago. Indeed, it seems absent from the agenda.

I can assure you I did go running every day whilst on holiday; even after 6pm in the evening, the heat was killing and the sweat just poured off me. I would stagger the last kilometer and then dive into the coolness of the hotel pool. Tonight's run, while being a doddle compared to those Canarian runs in 30C or more, was still a bit of a tough slog but that, as I say, I put down to my state of health.

The reason there is no green inked summary at the bottom of each post is because my Garmin Forerunner 610 running watch decided to act up and, instead, play silly buggers with me. It would discharge rather than charge, then it couldn't connect to my foot pod and then it couldn't locate any satellites - a bit useless for a GPS running watch, really?

Again, on tonight's run, it wouldn't connect with my foot pod and did not stop when I pressed the stop button at the end of my run. A teensy bit useless. Get a Garmin - my arse!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

What a lovely day...!

What a beautiful day today has been. I cycled around in the lovely sunny weather, went for a refreshing swim, bought myself some new sun glasses and a hat in the sales and then met up with the lovely Jaime F for tea and gossip in the Bay.

When I looked at at the weather forecast yesterday, today was going to be a bit of a wash out but it turned out alright, didn't it; I even put my shorts and some suntan lotion on before going for my bike ride... and the rest of the week doesn't look too bad!

Did I bring some of that Canarian sun home with me...?

Saturday, 16 June 2012

GC to UK in 20 degrees...

And so back to dear old Blighty; from 33C to 13C in under 4 hours. From a cloudless blue sky from dusk to dawn to this bland wall to wall greyness we've come to accept as the British summer.

But let's not dwell on the negative things; such as the man next to me on the plane who found fault with every other passenger (from the young girl listening to music through headphones to the man who had to be helped on in a wheelchair) and then the female cashier in M&S in Cardiff railway station who told me off for moving 4 steps away from my suitcase, warning me that it could be a bomb - I assured her that it wasn't but she quoted something about the Olympics and we must be vigilant...!

Despite my anxieties about holidaying in such a commercial resort as Playa del Ingles, I must admit to having a bit of a blast there. There was lots of time to relax on the gay beach during the day (with some lovely scenery to take in!) and lots of cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs to visit at night. All in all a fun and relaxing 7 days. I'd go back.

As much as I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight, I shall shut out the sounds of the June gales and driving rain and picture in my mind's eye the positive memories of my holiday - in particular the abiding images I have burned on my retina:

The two waiters at Construction Bar strutting their stuff up and down the street. Looking so serious, chasing people up and down outside. Guaranteed to raise a smile every time.

Oh and for them that's interested, I've now added images from Gran Canaria into the previous 7 posts.

Friday, 15 June 2012


I might have mentioned here before my love for foreign supermarkets; I enjoy exploring the different sections and finding out what they do differently to British supermarkets. I can't get enough.

In Germany, the bakery has a much better selection, as indeed does the butchers. They are also very good at pickles and sauces. In Spain (much like Portugal), again, the bakery has a much better selection, as does the fresh fruit and veg - especially when it comes to the more exotic varieties.

Indeed, the Brits seem very bad when it comes to bread; we'll put up with any old thing. Sliced white being universally available, often at the cost of any other type of bread. Mothers' Pride was never anything to be proud of. Many Of our European neighbours don't understand why we don't buy our bread fresh every day like they do.

My favourite Spanish supermarket is Mercadona: a great range, a good service and all at a competitive price. It's a little bit off the beaten track here in Playa del Ingles. HiperDino, my least favourite, is on my way home from the beach and the ubiquitous Spar is everywhere.

Whenever I call in at HiperDino, I can never seem to find anything; the layout has no logic to it. You move from soap and shampoo into sliced cheeses and meats, turn a corner and you're met by nail clippers and hair bands.

I've been in the one at the Yumbo Centre three times this week and all at different times of the day and every time a woman has been mopping the floors. If you go anywhere near a mopped area that's not yet dry, she hisses at you and makes little tsk tsk noises. I was literally painted into a corner yesterday when I called in for a litre of milk.

This was made all the worse when I opened the carton at breakfast this morning to find that it's contents had curdled as, indeed, had any liking I may have still harboured about HiperDino. If they focused less on floor mopping and more on use by dates, I might have been able to enjoy my Weetabix this morning.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Half-heard and misheard...

It started on the beach this morning when a French guy pointed at the sun-lounger next to mine and asked me in French, "Is this free?" At least, that's what I thought he said. I nodded helpfully and said, "Yes". Indeed, at that time of the morning, most of them are free. With a gallic shrug, he walked off to find another some distance away.

I now realise that he must've asked if it was taken rather than free. My nodding and positive response only sent him away rather than the intended, "Be my guest." A shame really, as I would have been more than prepared to rub suntan lotion in his back.

A little later, two German goths passed. Yes, picture it: I'm on a gay beach in Maspalomas, it's 30C+ and two German goths pass. Admittedly, they weren't wearing full goth uniform; metal capped boots with a floor length black leather coat but they had a fair covering of tattoos, were pierced with a lot of silver wear, their hair was dyed jet black and their skin was alabaster white.

I knew they were German because as they passed in front of me, one made a remark to the other; I don't know what but it sounded very German. With that he pointed at me and both of them laughed. My instinct was to shout back, "Oh yeah, and what have you two come as...?" But given this morning's misinterpretation, I thought it better to stay silent.

Some lads from the South East of England (judging by their accents) sat on the sun-loungers in the row behind me. Their conversations revolved around how drunk they had got the night before, what each had got up to and how in their current hungover state they regretted their antics.

Again, I think that was the gist of it; sprinkled with a heavy dusting of youth slang, it was sometimes difficult to pick out the key phrases such as: "battered", "back to his hotel", "up the bum", "still hurts" and "what goes on on holiday, stays on holiday".

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

My bloody flip flop...

Another pleasant day spent on the gay beach on the fifth day of my holiday here in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria; the fifth day of unbroken sunny blue skies and the fifth day of temperatures above 30C. That might be hard for some of you to read back in dear old Blighty!

The only difference between the fifth day of my holiday and the previous four was that today the wind picked up a little, cooling us gay boys down and making for enormous fun in the waves - I'm sure you'd have been able to hear my squeals of fun back in Cardiff every time a wave hit me.

This afternoon I concentrated on tanning my white bits - I don't mean that euphemistically for my butt and wobbly bits, no, they've seen more sun than ever this week. I mean my sides or flanks; for some reason my flanks seem paler than the rest of me along with my upper outer arms.

And so I lay there on my side listening to my Northern Soul All Nighter album on my iPhone whilst thinking what on earth would form the subject matter of my blog tonight. By 15:00 I was getting very hot and so decided to walk back through the dunes to Playa del Ingles, while I gave tonight's blog a little more thought.

I don't think I'd been walking more than 5 minutes when I stubbed my toe on something in the path. I looked down and saw a broken green bottle strewn across the path. I glanced at my toe and there was cut just starting to ooze blood; lots of it. This quickly soaked into my flip flop turning the front of it into browny red mess. This then got caked in hot sand.

There wasn't much to do, other than forge on and complete the 2km trek through the dunes back to the nearest hotel. From there I knew I'd be able to get a cab. Toward the end of my bloody yomp, I bumped into a Dutch guy, Bas, who was on the beach earlier with his boyfriend. His friendly face and pleasant conversation provided a welcome distraction from my injury; I'm always a sucker for a nice smile!

Update on the gashed toe and bloody flip flop: after a trip to the local farmacia I have cleaned the wound by cutting off the flap of skin that fell victim to the green glass bottle, cleaned the gash using cotton buds and salt water, sprayed the area with an antiseptic solution, stuck it with a clear plaster and, most importantly of all, managed to wash away most of the gunk absorbed by my bloody flip flop.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Like the Stepford Wives, only gay, bearded and on steroids...

I met a guy from London on the beach today. We seemed to get along and made one another laugh. We were lying next to each other and just got talking, the way you do... I think there's a lot to be said for that gay humour, sensibility, outlook... Or should I say, weltanshauung, as a nod in the direction of the gay male German majority on the beach.

It didn't take long for the guy from London (Andy) and I to get talking to the Germans next to us; all of them wearing up to the minute fashion swimwear - and some of them changing trunks to go for a swim and changing again when they returned. It was like a fashion show. They were a nice group of guys and seemed friendly enough.

It was the Germans' last day and their tans bragged of a full 10 day break. As is the way with so many German gay men, the look is everything; the swimwear, the months spent in the gym sculpting those muscles, the shaved heads, the aviator style sunglasses and the stubbly beard.

Passport control at Las Palmas airport must be so confused when the gay boys arrive; it's the look that so may gay men aspire toward; like the Stepford Wives, only gay, bearded and on steroids. Try as I sometimes might, I don't think I look like a gay Stepford Wife yet...?

Monday, 11 June 2012

Sur la plage...

After slathering myself in SPF30, I caught the bus to Faro de Maspolomas this morning and then walked back to the gay beach in the 30C+ heat. It seemed very quiet there and then I realised that it was only just after 10:30. The gays had hardly woken. When they did, it didn´t take long for things to get started and soon the boys arrived.

AussieBum swimwear is in this season, so it seems, with every home essential on the beach sporting a pair (and some of them boys sport them very well). I say, "every home essential" but not quite; I stuck to my Andrew Christians, cos I´m a class act, see...!

I fell asleep on the beach, probably because it was so warm with just a hint of a breeze to soothe me. Or maybe it was the amount of vodka I managed to put away last night? Anyway, I woke up to the beginning of a burn and so went for a swim in the sea to cool me down.

At about 15:00 I decided to start the 4km trek home. It was quite subtle at first but very soon I started to ache - with every step taken I stiffened up more and more. My legs, my arms, my kneck, even my butt. By the time I reached my room all I could manage was to collapse on the sofa. Here I slept until 17:30.

Feeling a little revived, I decided to go for a run. Big mistake; after about 500m I was aching and panting and sweating profusely. This was one of the hardest runs I have ever done. Every joint and muscle were seizing up. It felt like flu. Is this what sun stroke feels like?

Back in my room now, having hurled myself in the hotel pool as soon as I returned to bring my temperature down. There´s nothing a cooling splash followed by an ice cold San Miguel can´t cure. All the same, an easy one tonight, methinks.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Gay culture...

After a day spent sunning my gay butt at the gay beach and, fearing the worst, last night at about 22:30 I hit the Yumbo Centre - the Canaries' gay Mecca.

If you want to discuss the Yumbo Centre in terms of its architecture or in terms of its cuisine, then I think you're on to a non starter. However, if you want to discuss the Yumbo Centre in terms of trashy gay culture, then surely it ranks up there with Manchester's Canal Street, New York's Greenwich Village and Madrid's Chueca.

More gay bars and clubs than you could wave a wand at and an impressive fluttering of rainbow flags, the Yumbo Centre caters for all tastes - as long as those tastes include cheap drinks, Spanish drag, sex clubs, bear bars pretty waiters with attitude and... did I mention Spanish drag? I loved it!

I started at Construction, laughing my ass off at the pretty bearded waiters chasing punters up and down the street outside, wearing wigs and the biggest silver platform stilettos I have ever seen.

I then moved on to a drag bar upstairs where every miming turn was introduced using the term, "international". As the evening passed, their costumes and makeup became increasingly detached from reality and the shrieks, whoops and whistles grew louder by the minute.

I couldn't help thinking as I gazed on, how similar Spanish drag is to Kabuki theatre in Japan; highly stylised Gestures and loaded with meaning. Indeed, it seems performers in both genres are idolised by their followers for what they do.

After being satiated by drag, I then returned to Construction, dodging the invites to every other gay venue along the way, for a final "one for the road", enjoying the male go-go dancers high on their podiums, shaking their booty for all it was worth.

I must say, that despite initial misgivings, the Yumbo Centre has its place and excels at what it does. One day we'll accord a well deserved and correct level of appreciation to this gay culture in the same way we've recognised Yiddish culture's influence on comedy and musical theatre and black culture's influence on music and dance.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Europe's gay holiday capital...

I'm tired; indeed, I'm shattered. I've not washed, I'm sweaty, I have a busting headache and I've not slept in over 36 hours. However, despite all of this I am as a happy as a porcine animal wallowing in it's own excrement.

Last night, I began my marathon trek via Cardiff bus station (sad and lonely) and then Bristol bus station (sad and lonely but not nearly as sad and lonely as Cardiff's bus station) to Gran Canaria for a week. By midday today, I was proudly stood (well, lying flat out actually) on the gay beach with all the other friends of Dorothy.

Maspolomas (or Playa del Ingles, as I'm unsure where one ends and the other begins) must be Europe's gay holiday capital. If you want to know what the latest gay fads are, come here for up to the minute trends in swimwear, accessories, body piercings and body hair topiary styles. My horizons were broadened this afternoon (and that's not a euphemism).

It's often quoted that on average one in ten in the population is gay; given that in Maspolomas it seems every other man is a little bit queer, this must skew the figures in other places - one in two here and one in two hundred elswhere. Given the plethora of homosexuals here, I wouldn't be surprised to find that back home, I am "the only gay in the village".

This is borne out in the number of rainbow flags they have flying here. It seems that every other business is proud to brag about how gay friendly they are. Spain may be in the news right now for its financial misjudgements but when it comes to gay rights, it leads the way in Europe.

What is the collective noun for rainbow flags? This has puzzled me today. What about "a spectrum of rainbow flags" (it certainly captures the diversity of the gay community) or "a refraction of rainbow flags" (a little too scientific, perhaps)? My favourite is, "a fluttering of rainbow flags" (it echoes a camp fluttering of eyelashes, like those glued on to a Spanish drag queen).

And the weather here...? Well, it's warm and sunny; like a typical June day in the UK...

Sorry, I quite forgot!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Cardiff World Naked Bike Ride...

Tomorrow sees the fifth Cardiff World Naked Bike Ride, "highlighting the need to escape vehicle dependency and focus on the power and individuality of the human being".

100 naked cyclists are expected to participate in the event that starts on Saturday June 9th at 2pm for bike and body decoration in Park Place behind the National Museum. The ride then sets off at 3pm around Cardiff; the 9 mile ride finishing at Sophia Gardens.

Cardiff Council has not granted permission to the event to use its parks and is keeping a careful distance regarding this event, "Although staff would only intervene in the world public bike ride if a complaint is made by a member of the public, we would neither facilitate the event nor condone it."

I'd be tempted to participate myself but sadly I'm not in Cardiff on Saturday...

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Now is the winter of our discontent...?

I'm a fair weather cyclist but enjoy running in any weather. In fact, I quite like running in the rain, I find it quite invigorating when it's windy and, after the initial sting, hailstones have a burn to them that's quite pleasant. As much fun as it was to run in these conditions in the Winter, it's not the sort of weather I've come to expect in June.

Tonight's run consisted of all of the above weather elements. I knew it was quite blustery from looking out the window before setting off. However, I bore the full force of those winds once out on the bridge crossing the Taff. It was at this point I was pelted with hailstones. My legs were numb and my bald head frozen. Some 15 minutes later as the hailstones subsided, a downpour of rain started.

As I returned to Mermaid Quay I could do nothing but grin in response to this wintery weather. As tourists bolted for shelter, I skirted the Oval Basin, drenched and sporting the widest lunatic grin I could muster. Whilst I might feel a little short changed, were I on holiday in Cardiff Bay today; as someone who lives here and enjoys a run after work to unwind, all I felt was glad to be alive.
Today's run at 17:16
Distance5.16 kmTime28:57
Pace5:37 min/kmCadence81 spm
Comments: Windy and rainy with hailstones.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

To be played at maximum volume...

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is 40 years old today. At the age of 10, this was the first album I ever bought. I was a precocious child with an ambition to look like David Bowie but bearing an uncanny resemblance to Jimmy Osmond.

Judging from the images of Bowie in 1972, you'd be forgiven for thinking that we all wore shiny space suits and lived in plastic modules. We didn't; we lived in grubby backstreets, wearing man-made fibres in garishly patterned colours and chain smoking Embassy all the while.

I must've spent hours gazing at the back cover to this album (above); the world of Ziggy Stardust was so removed from mine. While Bowie sang about a crumbling future, I was trying so hard to escape the crumbling past. I would have gladly swapped my life in a small Welsh backwater for his dystopia.

Bowie added to the mythology of Ziggy with each appearance and every turn. The press went wild for Ziggy; this androgynous bisexual alien who practiced fellatio on Mick Ronson's guitar. We were shocked, outraged and in love with him. Here he is performing Starman on Top of the Pops. It's hard to imagine now the sense of wonder we all felt when this burst on to our TVs in 1972.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Here's Grace...!

I watched some of the Diamond Jubilee Concert last night and couldn't help thinking what a wonderful job the backstage crew did. For all Gary Barlow's efforts, which will undoubtedly earn him a knighthood, it's the stage management team that deserve the applause. Events like that must be a nightmare to choreograph and it's a tribute to those technicians and crew that some of the biggest egos in show business ended up in the right place at the right time.

Highlights for me of the front stage shenanigans included, the "Peter Pan of Pop", Sir Cliff Richard, looking as if he was about to face up to his awfully big adventure live on stage as he tottered about to a medley of his hits, Dame Shirley Bassey proving that with age has come a burly chassis to match the size of her star status and Sir Elton John looking remarkably like the Queen Mother.

My favorite performance from last night, however, has to be 64 year old Grace Jones' statuesque and amazonian appearance for her rendition of Slave to the Rhythm, while hoola-hooping for over 4 minutes throughout the song. Star quality, indeed!

And now, ladies and gentlemen, here's Grace...!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Running in the Bay...

I went for a run late this afternoon and there were so many people running in the Bay. I think I've mentioned here before that normally, I don't see that many runners, however... This afternoon must have been designated "go for a run around Cardiff Bay afternoon".

It seemed that everyone just slipped on a pair of daps and started running in random directions. There were those in the latest Nike kit complete with their sweat bands and running bottles, those who were just making do in an old pair of pumps and an unwashed t-shirt and everyone else inbetween.

As much as it's lovely to see other runners, I think, on balance, I prefer it when it's a bit quieter.
Today's run at 16:50
Distance5.01 kmTime26:49
Pace5:21 min/kmCadence79 spm
Comments: Bright.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Going bananas...

I seem to go through phases with foods. I can survive on one dish for weeks before I get bored and take up another. It might be beetroot this month and kidney beans the next. At the moment, I seem to have a thing for bananas; the smell and then the taste of the banana flesh is intoxicating to me.

Reading up on Bananas, I found out that Americans eat more bananas than any other fruit; that's about 12 kilos per person per year. However, Ugandans dwarf that figure, consuming nearly 230 kilos per person per year. Bejesus!

After a debate in work the other day about how many it's safe to eat before you get poisoned by the potassium they contain, I did some research. There are many stories out there warning against eating too many but you'd have to consume somewhere in the region of 250 in one sitting to feel any adverse effects from potassium. You'd burst well before being poisoned by the potassium.

Contrary to popular belief, bananas do not grow on trees. No, they grow from a root system that produces an above ground stem. The plant is officially classified as a tree like herb and the banana is actually a berry. Bananas are the only fruit to contain the amino acid, tryptophan and vitamin B6; these help our bodies produce seratonin, which help counter depression.

The health benefits of eating bananas are many, with claims that they can help lower blood pressure, ease mosquito bites, help with stress and even cure warts. If all the claims I've read are true, bananas will soon be hailed as the new wonder drug, more versatile than aspirin! Go buy a bunch today, before some supermarket slaps a superfood sticker on them and their price trebles.

For more on bananas...
Today's run at 11:40
Distance5.03 kmTime27:40
Pace5:30 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Grey.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Celebrity tweeps I follow...

You can tell a lot about someone's personality by the celebrity tweeps they follow. Make what you will of it but here is my list:
Stephen Fry: British Actor, Writer, Lord of Dance, Prince of Swimwear & Blogger.
Mark Gatiss: ‏Actor. Writer. Strangler.
Gareth Thomas: It's not where I'm going, it's where I come from that's important to me.
Dr Christian Jessen: ‏British doctor and sexual health campaigner. Presenter of Channel 4's Supersize Vs Superskinny & the BAFTA award winning Embarrassing Bodies.
Russell Tovey‏: My views are not my own and are associated with really big massive corporations.
Jeremy Hardy: I was born a coalminer's daughter. In a cabin, on a hill in Butcher Holler.
Tomasz Schafernaker: ‏Weather Forecaster and TV Presenter, BBC.
Brian Cox: Currently working on a book and lecture course at the University of Manchester. About to start filming Wonders of Life for BBC / Discovery Science Channel.
Dan Snow: Broadcaster and historian. BBC in the UK, History in Canada and PBS/ Military Channel in the US. App just released:
Evan Davis: This is the bloke on the Radio 4 Today programme, Dragons' Den and the Bottom Line. Author of Made in Britain. These are only my views - the BBC has no views.
Richard Dawkins: Richard Dawkins' Personal Twitter Account.
Sue Perkins: Mutton dressed as mutton.
Chris Packham: Naturalist and BBC broadcaster.
Alan Cumming: Scottish elf trapped inside middle aged man's body
Jake Shears: Singer, dancer, scissor, sister.
Ian McKellen: A‏ctor and activist.
Not quite sure what this says about me...?

Friday, 1 June 2012

A lovely, long and lazy weekend...

At last, the bank holiday Jubilee weekend is here. Yay! Anyone would think I'm a monarchist. Nah, not really; just looking forward to a lovely, long and lazy weekend. As for marking 60 glorious years of Queen Elizabeth II; beyond this post, I shan't give it another thought. I'm sure there'll be many references in the media to what the world was like when she first became Queen...

In 1952 Winston Churchill was Prime Minister and Harry S Truman was US President, Joe Strummer, Jenny Agutter, Liam Neeson and Douglas Adams were born, the films Singing in the Rain and High Noon were released, the United Nations moved to its home in New York, The Mousetrap opened in London's West End, Churchill announced that the UK had an atomic bomb, the US signed a peace treaty with Japan, Helsinki hosted the Olympics and Italy, France, West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg formed the European Coal and Steel community (later to become the European Union). The world has changed much.

Plans for this weekend? Some running and swimming, no doubt. I have a friend staying and consequently I shall be on best behaviour, so no drinking to excess or being naughty; although I might introduce him to my local homosexual hostelry on Sunday - something I certainly wouldn't have been able to do openly 60 years ago.