Have you ever thought about letting out a room or property? What could possibly go wrong? Allow my guest, Judith Barrow, to share a true story and the answers with you. Will Judith’s true story have you laughing as much as I did when I read it?
Why do so many of us make New Year’s resolutions? Do they help? Are they a pain? Do they put pressure on us? Do they stress us out? Do they work? Do they give us something to look forward to?
The only resolution I made on New Year’s Day (which worked for me), was the one I made on January 1st 1994. It was the day I told myself to stop adding sugar to tea and coffee. I’m still ‘sugar-total’ when it comes to drinking tea and coffee. Success!
If you’ve made some New Year’s resolutions, then good luck with them. If, like me, you haven’t, grab the nearest calendar and count how many days there are on it.
Why am I asking you to count the days on a calendar? There’s a good reason.
Did you count 365 days? Yes? 366, if you’re looking at a 2020 calendar. Ditch that old calendar, and get yourself one for this year. Look at all those days on it.
Every one of those days is a day of new beginnings. Every day is a day to start something different. Every day is a day opportunities will come knocking. Every day is a day to set yourself a resolution (if you want to). Every day is a day you can make good use of. Every day is a day you can make somebody smile. Every day is a day you can do something good for somebody else. Don’t waste them.
What am I getting at?
Simply put, you can start a resolution on any day of the year. I’ve had more successes with resolutions I started on days other than New Year’s Day. But that makes a lot of sense when it’s 364 days against one day. And isn’t every new day the beginning of a new year in your life? Check out Erika’s post. I think she agrees with me.
There is something I enjoy doing every new year. I look back and thank those who shaped my life over the previous 12 months. And those include the people I never met but who in some way influenced my life.
As a blogger, I’m talking about those who visited my blog, read and joined in with the discussions on the posts I wrote and photos I shared.
If you’re not a blogger, then the people you will have been in touch with on social media may have influenced your life somehow. Think about it. You don’t have to hear words from somebody for them to influence your life. And you don’t need to physically meet someone for them to have an influence on your life.
If it weren’t for all of you out there, the last 12 months would have been a little quiet and emptier here on my blog. And I don’t believe that’s something any blogger wants for their blog.
So, a big thank you for all your support, kindness, and friendship and for being a big part of my 2020. You listened to me; you made me cry. You astounded me; you made me think. You made me change my life or persuaded me to try out something new. You entertained me; you helped me through the low points and encouraged me over the high ones. You influenced me.
What was 2020 like for you? Think hard before you answer that question.
2020 may have seemed a horrible and strange year for many of us, but it will have given us opportunities and some nice bits too.
For me, one of the most significant opportunities was an invitation to become a guest columnist at the Carrot Ranch, a blog hosted by Charli Mills. I may already know some of the Carrot Ranch writers, but an invitation to write for another blog is an opportunity I am incredibly thankful to have come my way in 2020.
Another significant opportunity 2020 gave me was to sort out and donate stuff to my local charity shops. ‘Lockdown’ allowed me to declutter my home and pass on items I no longer needed. Those expired items not only went on to generate money for good causes but were brought back to life by their new owners. I like to think that the happiness those items once gave me has now been passed on to the new owners.
2020 may be gone, but it shouldn’t be forgotten. Why? Elouise tells us why. Read her post here and read the comments on the post too.
Thank you, 2020.
Thank you, 2020, for the opportunities you presented to me. You may think you did a good job at hiding them from me, but they were there when I looked hard enough.
Now, I’m looking forward to the opportunities 2021 will bring.
What to do with New Year’s Resolutions
My answer is – Turn them into opportunities. Opportunities to make new friends, new acquaintances, and new experiences. Make people laugh, make people happy, teach people something new, and tell somebody something that will make them smile. Don’t turn your resolutions into opportunities that become barriers or hurdles for you or anyone else or that make people unhappy. Make people laugh, make people smile.
Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.
To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.
We are all in the gutter. But some of us are looking at the stars.
Which ones are you going to be in 2021?
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Have you had any successes or failures with them? What opportunities did 2020 give you? What answer would you give to the title of this blog post? Leave me a comment and join the discussion.
When I woke up that Saturday morning, little did I know that something I was hiding from view from others was about to have the key put in the ignition and set me off on a journey that was to become the life I was born with.
It was a Saturday morning like any other Saturday morning. I always got up first because I’m an early bird.
The fact that I was 17-years-old didn’t put me off from watching it. I loved watching it. It got my weekend off to a perfect start.
Just after midday, I always made my way into town to buy an array of snacks for myself for the evening. Like Saturday mornings, I still preferred to spend Saturday evenings indoors watching television.
My parents thought it unusual for a boy of my age to want to stay in on a Saturday evening. At the time, I thought they knew nothing about the reason for me not wanting to go out. Years later, I discovered my mother had already suspected I was gay.
Whereas boys my age were going out to drink alcohol and date girls, my Saturday evening treat was the snacks (including a small trifle from Marks & Spencer) and Saturday evening television.
I always visited the same shops, either to browse or to buy something. On this particular Saturday, though, something I’d seen on TV that morning made me go into a shop I hardly ever visited.
Scanning the shelves full of newspapers and magazines for the music newspaper I wanted, it soon caught my eye.
On the front was a picture of the singing duo Chasand Dave. I didn’t particularly like their music, but I found both men sexually attractive.
Picking up the newspaper, I flicked through it, pretending not to notice the picture and taking little if any notice of who was around me.
Towards the back of the newspaper, I stumbled upon the advertisement section, and one of the adverts immediately got my attention.
It was a significant point in my life which opened up a door and invited me to step through.
I didn’t personally know any other gay people, yet here was an advert in a music newspaper about a world I belonged to yet knew little of.
Gay? Then you should read Gay News. Once fortnightly. For a copy, send a postal order for (I can’t remember how much) to –
At that moment, a member of staff entered the shop and shouted over to the cashier –
“I see the library is open again, Karen.”
She was referring to me and a few other customers who were all flicking through various newspapers and magazines. I quickly closed the paper and checked around to see if anybody had noticed me reading the advert.
At that point, I wanted to put down the paper and rush out of the shop, but the chance of being in touch with other gay people stopped me from doing so.
I told myself to be brave and quickly walked over to Karen, and nervously placed the newspaper by the cash register. “Got everything you need today?” she asked me as she pushed the keys on the cash register.
Nodding my head, I could feel myself blushing. I thought she knew which advert I’d been reading and was about to stand up and announce ‘This one’s queer!” Of course, that never happened.
As I walked home, my heartbeat raced. I kept looking behind to check if anyone was following me. After all, unlike my straight friends, it was still illegal for me (as a gay man) to have sex with a same-sex partner until I was 21.
Precisely one week later, I waited patiently for the postman to arrive. As soon as my first copy of Gay News came through the letterbox, I rushed downstairs before anybody else got to the post.
I was relieved that the people at Gay News did as they had promised to do in their advertisement. My copy of the paper arrived in a plain brown envelope.
My hands shook as I took the envelope up to my bedroom. Carefully tearing it open, I allowed the life I’d been hiding to start coming out of the closet.
Have you ever had a life-changing moment? Get in touch with me if you’d like to share the details in a guest post.
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“They all have moustaches, wear 501s and are called Clones.”
Those were my words to my best friend, Neville, upon my first visit to Earl’s Court, London, back in the mid-1980s.
I was like a kid in a sweet shop. Just about every man in the place had a moustache, and I was big into facial hair.
Back then, there were five gay bars in Earl’s Court. It was the centre of the universe for any gay man visiting London.
It was easy to get to Earl’s Court, via public transport, and I always felt safe there. It was as if the district had a safety bubble around it.
No surprise then that I moved into a two-bedroom flat in Earl’s Court shortly after arriving to live in London in 1986.
The most famous gay bar in Earl’s Court was called ‘The Coleherne.’ These days, it’s a trendy restaurant come wine bar which I believe serves some smashing food.
I spent lots of time in ‘The Coleherne.’ At the time, pubs had to close their doors between 3 and 5:30pm (2 and 7pm on a Sunday). ‘The Coleherne’ was always packed out during the final hour of drinking time.
It had a jukebox in the corner that played all the latest hits as well as many ‘Hi-NRG’ (Pronounced High Energy) tunes which was a new type of music adopted by many gay men.
Neville was into the same types of men who drunk in “The Coleherne’ as me. So you’d often find us in there.
There was a strict rule about going into ‘The Coleherne.’ Those wearing leather, such as a bikers’ jacket, waistcoat, or chaps, had their own side-door entrance.
Everybody else had to use the other door on the main street. If you went through what Neville and I called ‘the leather door’ you’d end up on the leather side of the bar.
The leather guys would glare at you if your attire included no leather, and they would continue to glare at you until you made your way to the non-leather side of the bar.
Scary stuff for first-time visitors or anybody who entered the pub by mistake.
What made Neville and me laugh was that some of the leather guys often arrived carrying a motorcycle helmet under their arm. You may ask, ‘what’s so funny about that?’
Well, they’d place the motorcycle helmet on the top shelf above the bar, order their drink, and then stand around looking as butch as possible.
Then, at closing time, Neville and I would watch as they made their way to the bus-stop, with motorcycle helmets under their arms. For some, carrying a motorcycle helmet seemed to be the must-have, new fashion accessory when dressed in leather.
Although ‘The Coleherne’ was probably the most shabby of all the five gay bars in Earl’s Court, it was always busy.
Just down the road, at one end of the street, was ‘The Boltons.’ This was a strict ‘no-no’ bar for Neville and I because it was known for its rent boys.
At the other end of the street was ‘Bromptons’ bar. This was the place Neville and me nicknamed ‘Clone City’ because just about every man who entered had facial hair.
‘Bromptons’ opened at 10pm and closed at 2am. On a Sunday, it opened earlier but closed at midnight. It was a 30-second walk from where I lived, so it was very convenient.
Friendlier than ‘The Coleherne,’ for those who’d never visited before, ‘Bromptons’ had a small dance floor and a kiosk that sold all the latest Hi-NRG 12-inch vinyl singles.
In those days, gay men only purchased 12-inch vinyl singles, unlike most of the rest of the population that bought the 7-inch vinyl version.
There was the odd splattering of leather amongst the crowd, but most were dressed in check shirts, 501 Jeans and Doc-Marten boots.
Just about everyone ordered and drunk bottles of lager, rather than pints. If you arrived early, you could compare your check shirts and see if any of them clashed severely with the chequered carpet and wallpaper of the bar.
Arriving early also meant free entry into the bar. After 11pm there was a small entry fee charged, so many would flock in at 22:55.
The Barmen at ‘Bromptons’ were often hand-picked by the owner. “Have good looking bar staff, and you’ll pack the place out every night,” he once told me. And he was right!
The place was a magnet for clones who seemed to need little sleep despite having full-time jobs, many of which required an early morning start.
The other two bars at the opposite end of Earl’s Court were located next door to each other.
One was a bar called ‘Harpoon Louis,’ which hosted cabaret most nights.
The likes of Lily Savage (aka Paul O’Grady) started out here, and it was always a great place to go for a laugh.
‘Cruising’, as Gay men called it (better known as looking for a partner for the night), did go on. In contrast, in the other bars, cruising was very serious, and you dare not laugh when trying to pick up your date for the night. In ‘Harpoon Louis,’ it didn’t seem to matter as much.
‘Copacabana’ was next door to Harpoon Louis and was the main gay nightclub of the area. It was convenient to fall into when coming out of ‘Harpoon Louis.’
‘Copacabana’ (also known as ‘Copa’s’) was the biggest of all the bars in Earl’s Court and had a large dance floor. It was the place to hear the latest Hi-NRG tunes, dance, drink and check out the men.
Some famous faces often frequented the place, but being ‘gay men,’ the clientele often dare not approach them.
During the 1980s, gay men adopted a ‘hanky’ code. You’d place a particular coloured handkerchief in either the left or right back pocket of your 501 jeans. This told other gay men what kind of sexual fun you were into.
Rather than the ‘hanky’ code, Neville and I adopted the ‘teddy bear’ code. This involved the placing of a small teddy bear in the back pocket. This told others if you enjoyed giving or receiving cuddles.
Today, Earl’s Court is no longer the centre of the universe for gay men. Its crown was lost to Soho and Vauxhall during the late 1990s, although the gay scene in London now seems to be more spread out.
Had we arrived for the first time today, Neville and I would not have liked Earls Court as much. However, it holds lots of happy memories not just for us, but for many from the LGBT crowd.
Sadly, Neville passed away in the mid-1990s. However, the fun and laughter we shared together during the days and nights of Earl’s Court in the 1980s can still be heard in its bars and streets.
This post was originally written and published as a guest post in April 2016 on TanGental. It has been updated for this version.
Click here to read another post from my Pride Month series which tells the story of a first date that went horribly wrong.