His figure’s shadow,
More full of life
Than it’s owner

While he stands
Hunched and Weary
His shadow stands
Open and Expectant

He no longer knows what to say
His shadow speaks for him
Like it has for many years now
Forcing his owner into solitude

But, and this the shadow forgets;
When the light dims,
The man is alone,
No shadow, only he in his home

So, the man says
One thing, never forget
All power and strength
A source, they do have

And, their sources
Can be found
And, their sources
Can be stopped

People Growling,
People Sneering,
People Running,
People Crawling,

People wondering in their minds,
“Am I Going To Be On Time?”

Feet start moving,
Legs start aching,
Bums start shaking,
Heads start sweating;

“Am I Going To Be On Time?”

The wind blows up,
Their eyes become glazed,
Glazed with Neasden Lane Dust,
Still, they march along

Lights go to Green,
Eyes widen,
Feet stamp to a stop!

Lights go to Red,
Blood pumping to their heads.
Green Man comes on,
They march along

Marching, Marching, Marching

On the other side,
Wider becomes their stride,
As they march, march along

Growling
Sneering
Running
Crawling

I’m Walking,
I’m Smiling,
I’m Singing,

I’m taking my time

I know what I have to do,
I have to be me,
Not the me that me hates,
But the me tha didn’t know.

You, the ones who didn’t like me,
You didn’t know me,
You’ll wish you knew me now.

Yesteryear doesn’t follow me,
It’s gone,
Gone for good.

Those tears I cried,
They were for us,
But you didn’t come back,
You wouldn’t.

Too much pain,
Too much hurt,
I’d do it all again,
To hold yo uonce more.

You don’t recognise me,
I am not me of yesteryear,
I am not the me that you knew,
I am the me that is me.

Today, I stand with pride and a smile,
Yesteryear, I just stood.

So, drop the guises,
And rise with me,
For we are the people,
Not those of yesteryear,

But those of now.

I like definition. I like knowing where I stand with people and in life.

But, I also appreciate not having everything planned, everything decided – and of course, where people are involved, it is impossible (or at least extremely unlikely) to know or predict everything, nor should we be able to!

In most aspects of my life I am direct and open. I have no issue telling people how I feel about them, if I love them, like them, or if they’ve annoyed or upset me. I believe in talking through issues, unless (as I mentioned in a previous post) the issues are too big/behaviour hasn’t changed following attempts to deal with it.

When it comes to dating, I really like (for precisely the reasons mentioned in my previous post), though rarely achieve definition. But recently I’ve realised that not having definition (beyond that what you are doing is actually dating!) is part of the whole experience, it’s part of taking a risk, part of the feeling of excitement and possibility, it seems you have to not know what it is to be able to allow it to possibly become something.

It’s about the maybe, the living in the present instead of thinking about tomorrow or next week, or what you may become – just letting it happen. Years ago, as a boyfriend was breaking up with me, he tried to tell me exactly that, but I didn’t get it at the time, maybe I had to get their on my own, to learn it and feel it for myself. I have.

Below is a poem I wrote a few years ago about not knowing how someone feels about you, about when something happens – when there’s a possible spark, but you’re not sure what it means – aka: my dating life!

‘Maybe’

Endless Maybes
Leading to
Endless Hope

Maybe he’s busy
He’s moving this week
He’s starting work next week

Maybe he’s nervous
He’s not entirely out
It could get complicated

Maybe he’s embarrassed
He was flirting heavily
He had been drinking

Maybe it was a one-off
He may only try once
I may have blown it,
Before it began

Maybe he wasn’t flirting
Maybe he was being friendly
Maybe I want it to be

Maybe…
He isn’t interested

Today’s song: Tower of Learning, Rufus Wainwright

***originally written as part of a 30 piece 30th birthday collection (2012)***

The FZ is a place I have visited many times. Were it to offer loyalty points, I’d probably have enough to buy a yacht by now! Of course, I have plenty of friends who could come sailing with my on my new yacht, my yacht bought with Friend Zone Loyalty Points.

For those who don’t know about the Friend Zone, it’s the place I & others are sent to when someone we like (‘fancy’) doesn’t reciprocate, either without knowing how we feel (unrequited) or knowing but instead opting for friendship. It’s a place where, as many a Hollywood movie has shown, you are seen as a friend and nothing else, with no hope (most of the time) of ever being anything more.

Now, The FZ isn’t a bad place, but it can take a while to realise that. Being rejected, or worse, never facing rejection (as in, not telling someone how you feel in case you get rejected), can be painful. It can lead to you questioning yourself, why they don’t/might not want you, and any number of other sorrowful queries and ponderings.

But, once you realise what you can have, namely a new friendship, and the possibilities that can arise from that, it’s difficult not to appreciate The FZ. Eventually.

There was a time when I was concerned that I may soon be crowned the King of the Friend Zone, purely because of my multiple visits and the duration of my stays. But, I recently paid The FZ another visit, via the boy from my previous post: ’26 Months Later’, who it turns out didn’t realise I had asked him out on a date in the first place – that lesson will be covered in a later post.

We are going to remain friends, and I think there’s a real chance of a good friendship forming, but beyond that, the feelings of excitement and possibility, and the confidence boost I got from (thinking I was) dating, are good enough to warrant the risk of having to visit The FZ time and time again in the future. The most important thing is to try. That’s all we can do.

Today’s song: Give Me A Little More Time, Gabrielle

***originally written as part of a 30 piece 30th birthday collection (2012)***

My Grandad was one of the most important people in my life. In fact, he still is – despite having died over 8 years ago, perhaps that underlines how important he was to me.

He was someone who I could always turn to, someone who taught me many things, and someone who always had advice to share – some of it unconventional, as in not the sort of advice you read about in children’s books.

He taught me how swear in backslang, ‘dratsab’, for example.

He taught me the importance of being able to laugh at myself.

He taught me to say what was on my mind.

He taught me about wild flowers and bird calls.

He taught me (indirectly) that even someone who can come across as very confident, can be insecure.

He taught me, as I said in a previous post, that life is a series of paths and choices.

I think one of the most important things he taught me, was to say hello to people on the street and in shops. I’ve always been someone who says hello to people, but usually only people I knew. Grandad taught me to say hello or simply smile at everyone I passed.

I remember the day we talked about that, we were walking from my Nan & Grandad’s house down to the local Waitrose, when we passed a woman on the street. Grandad gave a motionless wave and his usual chirpy & fairly loud ‘Morning!’, she smiled, waved, and we walked on. I asked him who she was, his reply: “No idea mate, but it’s always nice to make someone smile!”

I’ve kept that simple, short lesson, building upon those Ma Newby had already instilled in me from an earlier age (be nice to people, help people) with me since – and I like to think that I have, on occasion, made someone smile.

(He also taught me to keep one eye on the ground, because you never know what you might find. I once found a really nice fountain pen, he kept it. Dratsab.)

Today’s song: Fastlove, George Michael

***originally written as part of a 30 piece 30th birthday collection (2012)***

A high school friend once (many, many years ago!) described me as an ‘Optimistic Realist‘. When I asked her why, she simply said that I see the best in people, but know the worst can also exist.

I’d like to think that’s still true, though sometimes the world’s weight can make it feel that there is little to be optimistic about.

It’s at those times when I, whether for myself, or to try and lift the weight from someone else’s shoulders, voice my mantra – which I came up with many years ago.

ADAHAB
Always Dream
Always Hope
Always Believe

Sometimes, that’s all it takes. When that doesn’t help, well, then it’s time to go dancing! …more on that in a later ’30:30′ post!

Today’s song: Somewhere, Pet Shop Boys

***originally written as part of a 30 piece 30th birthday collection (2012)***

I’ve never been a fan of ‘loose ends’, but I accept that sometimes they’re beyond our control, and it isn’t always a bad thing to have them just dangling there…either waiting to be pulled on and unravelled, or tied up into a neat little knot.

I’ve been thinking about loose ends a lot recently, moreso the tying up of them.

There are two particular ends, each of which leads to a different former friend. One who gradually, bit by bit, chipped away at me and everything I did, the other who treated our friendship & my love for him badly. I’d been thinking about contacting them both to, in a way, explain the issues and get a sense of closure, and tie up their loose ends.

But, I suddenly realised that actually I already have closure. I have no interested in hearing what either of them has to say, I actually just don’t care about it anymore. To use a glib 90’s phrase ‘I’m over it!’ – I don’t wish them any ill, quite the opposite, I hope they’re both happy whatever they’re doing, afterall neither of them are bad people, they just made mistakes, as we all do!

Then there those few people who have come into my life, floated around for a bit, then floated off.
Some of those were easy & natural enough to tie off, but one or two weren’t.

So, I contacted them and discovered that they weren’t ready to be tied off.
Their loose ends have become the beginnings of new pieces of string, and with each piece, further possibility.

Today’s song: For Reasons Unknown, The Killers

***originally written as part of a 30 piece 30th birthday collection (2012)***

I am a firm believer that we are a combination of our genes and experiences. That the greatest experiences are those that involve other people, even when those experiences are negative ones, that they all feed in to the person we are constantly becoming, that those experiences allow us to evolve personally.

The majority of my experiences have been with women, nurturing women.

I’ve always been surrounded by strong nurturing/loving women. My family is full of them, both the older generation and my contemporaries. Then, beyond my family. I am drawn to strong women, and they seem drawn to me. I’ve always got on with them, perhaps it’s because most of them are straight/direct talking, and that (as you’ll see in a later post) is, for me, one of the most important traits a person can have. Whatever the reason, I have been fortunate enough to call many of these people my friends, and some of them have made a point to nurture me & our friendship in some particular way.

From Carmen, the first non-family person I remember to speak to me on my level, and as an equal.

To Jo, a former Head of a brilliant school I had the honour of working for, who used to debate education politics/policy with me, and always spoke honestly and directly. Some couldn’t deal with that, I found it refreshing.

From Jane Gregg, my first mentor, friend and former Deputy Head, who showed a proactive interest and encouragement of my poetry writing.

To Shazzer, Surgo-Ma, who taught me everything I know about Early Years, and showed me how & why it is so important. Of course, also for always being there, always, if I need her.

These are just a few of the non-related women who have helped shape my life, who have helped me become the person I am. They all have directness in common, and though it may manifest in its own way (some harsh, some more gentle), it is there and it has definitely had a lasting and profound effect on me.

There have been men who have had this impact too (I’ll talk for instance about my Grandad in a later post), but the majority of the impact has been from women. Perhaps that has something to do with my relationship with Ma Newby, who has always treated me not only as her son, but as a friend, and an equal – more about that later on.

I hope I do these amazing women proud. I’m trying. That, as they would all tell me, is the most important thing.

Today’s song: You Gotta Be, Des’ree

***originally written as part of a 30 piece 30th birthday collection (2012)***

When I came out (of the proverbial homosexual closet), I experienced nothing but purely positive reactions and responses, and though I didn’t really care what anyone other than my Mum thought & felt about it, I was deeply moved by the ways in which my friends and family ensured that I knew they loved me and supported me. I still, 5 years on, get teary when I think about it. I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life when I felt quite so safe and secure. Untouchable even. That is an incredible feeling.

I’d been considering coming out to my Mum for some months by that point, even getting to the point of being in the kitchen with her, opening my mouth to speak, but (for the first time in my life!) finding that no sound could be made.

The day before I came out, I’d been to London Pride – it was awesome, not only because of all the pretty men, but because it stirred something deep within me, bringing it to the top, suddenly I had to say what I’d been thinking about saying, indeed had tried more than once to say.

A woman from Riga, Latvia took to the Pride Stage in Trafalgar Square, and spoke about gay men being ‘disappeared’ across the world, about homophobic attacks, and all manner of awful things, all because someone is attracted to or loves someone of the same gender. Then, right then, is when I knew I had to come out.

I live in a fairly (probably one of the most) tolerant cities in the world, am from a family who I know love me, with friends & colleagues who I know care about me, there really wasn’t any reason for me to stay in the closet. I must however point out that I came out when I was ready, Pride was the catalyst. No one should come out or be forced out before they are ready!

So, having thought about my failed attempts to tell Ma, I sat down and wrote a poem. The words just came to me, and while it wouldn’t ever win a Pulitzer, it did the job. I sent it the next morning. Spoke to her that afternoon. Was entirely reassured. Saw colleagues the next day, and over the coming days (within 6) would be out to everyone in my life.

My cousins & Aunts all txt me with messages of support & love, of the ‘good for you’ & ‘I’m proud of you’ variety. My colleagues all hugged me, some made reference to it, again in support, for most it was a non ‘You’re Dean!’ issue. One friend said ‘And…?’ – nicely summing up how they all felt, my uncles made what most would deem inappropriate, but we find hilarious, jokes, and gave me new nicknames.

But, I think the reaction that sums it up for me most, the one I tell everyone, is that of my Nan, Binkie, who said:

“Oh, you can find me a nice gay man to go dancing with!”

I wonder if she has ever realised the true power of that statement, not only is she my nan, of a different, older generation, but she has always been one of the people I’ve trusted most, and clearly for good reason.

Since then, I have celebrated my Outiversary every year. When people ask me how I have a date to celebrate, the answer is simple, it’s the day I told my Mum, 1st July 2007. When they ask why I celebrate, I tell them this story, the story of Riga, of living in a fairly safe place, of the reactions I had, and of the importance of celebrating such a life changing and positive moment. I am not only celebrating my coming out, but the love of others for me, of their care for me. I don’t think there’s anything else more deserving of celebration. Especially in a world where so many people do not feel those things, have to fear for their lives, cannot be the people they truly are. So, I say celebrate with pride.

Today’s song: Finale B (There’s only us, there’s only this), RENT Cast Recording (OST)