Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This Year I...

... said goodbye to the best friends anyone could ever have ... moved over 10,000 from home and set up my new life ... listened to ABBA non-stop for 6 months ... made some new friends Down Under ... learned to love mushrooms ... saw 'Wicked' for the 4th time ... almost worked for Cate Blanchett ... laughed so much in Melbourne I cried ... cried so much in Sydney I laughed ... found a few old friends ... learned how to read music ... discovered one of my best friends is pregnant ... freaked out at Australia's capital city ... reached a high C ... swam in the ocean on Christmas Day ... had a private pool party on NYE ...

Happy New Year! And so on we go into 2009.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Hope 2009...


Whatever the next 12 months may bring and how it will affect myself, my friends, loved ones and people all over the world, it goes without saying the underlying theme we all seem to have for our future is an urgency for hope.

Not since the following months after September 11th, has the whole world come together, through a mutual plight against economic struggle, fear of terrorism and personal traumas, to hold their breath in unison and pray for a resolution to come that will make everyone's life a little bit less of a struggle. I know am lucky compared to others round the world who are still facing violence and atrocities I cannot even comprehend, but I have experienced on an intimate level the fact there are few friends I know right now, who have not had to struggle, all of them have a sense of desperate uncertainty in their voice when they talk about the next year may bring. Along with this though, there is a undeniable sense of determination that the year head will not and cannot be as bleak as the media, economists and politicians have predicted. I am not talking about blinkered naivety, more the sheer will to remain mentally intact during the adversity yet to come.

It has been fascinating to me to see how the world has reacted to this. A media-driven, often shallow and certainly at times seemingly heartless world has continued it's bleak and foreboding forecast of the future, misunderstanding the minds and hearts of us all by perpetuating the far too familiar tones to which over the last decade we have become accustomed to. Although this is not what the world wants or needs right now and voices have broken free and people have stood up to offer us a new line of thinking. The new President-Elect Barack Obama has come to epitomise this. I am not suggesting through my obsession with American politics, he is the most important figurehead of all those who have demanded more from the world we co-exist in, there are many 'unsung' voices, but he certainly is one of the most relevant right now. What Obama does represent is how a world has taken a simple message to their heart, a message long overdue and pure and straight talking. Obama's succinct, self-assured, humble message speaks for us all. For it is the American's people's voice, their will to begin with, that he has shaped his message from. He has been ingenious with his election campaign, asking for the American public to speak out, campaign for him, make his voice their own and vice-versa. It has also been beyond the typical campaigning fare and biased clout we are familiar with. He has risen above the usual slander, remained true to his message and candid in his approach. And the world in return has stood up and taken notice of this former Governor of Illinois. We have embraced him as a true revolutionary and I can think of only John F Kennedy who has managed to capture the nation's spirit during their period of history so perfectly. In turn, Obama has promised to deliver a transparent government accessible to all. He has used the internet to make this possible, much as he did during his campaign, each policy and discussion available online, for anyone to comment, contribute and question. The cynic in all of us can try to laugh it off as a cunning and clever campaign strategy, but so what if it is, it's what the world needs right now and to question the motives behind this new hope, is to somehow be pessimistic and wanting the world to fall flat on its face.

I am particularly enraptured by how the world has taken to the incumbent President of the United States. Literally embracing him to a point as, not necessarily their surrogate leader, but someone who represents the values they need in their own country, their own neighbour, their own state of mind. I look at the politics back home in the UK and no one even comes close to having the same spirit-level of leadership Obama has. I know having spoken to my sister in New York, election day was an incredibly momentous 24 hours and also especially poignant and personal event for many Americans in the process. We need to be listened to right now, now more than ever, we no longer want to be spoon-fed by a closed government and a petty and unforgiving media intent of breaking any ounce of hope we have, we need to have someone who is unashamedly truthful, smart, who demands us to be intelligent and accountable for our own actions and who most importantly inspires greatness in all of us during this current climate. I am surprised this voice has come from America, a place perceived as the source of what is 'wrong with the modern world'. Arrogant and crass and ignorant of others. But here we are, looking towards the USA for a reason to be hopeful.

So what does 2009 hold for us? Well for certain, we have to begin looking ahead with sense of purpose and renewed hope, not on the world scale I've just talked about, but within our own immediate lives. It will be the only thing I feel that will keep us grounded and positive.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Keith Olbermann Comment on Proposition 8...

Very rare for a person's words to move me so much, but this did. What with Obama's Presidential Nomination speech being incredibly inspiring, I am truly thrilled at the long overdue eloquence that seems to be coming from America.

Monday, December 15, 2008

70/30...

Well, I maybe here a little longer. The company I'm temping at have decided to nominate my permanent visa application.

Another step towards my future.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Obamanation!...

One thing fell foul during the nomination of Barack Obama becoming President. Proposition 8. At least they're campaigning to set things right again. Here's hoping they see sense and get back on track. Meanwhile something that made me laugh concerning said situation, which also features amongst other famous faces, the fantastic Neil "Doogie Howser M.D. and now Broadway Star and Gay' Patrick Harris and my all time favourite actress Allison Janney:

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Monday, December 01, 2008

50/50...

So my time is nearly up. The Clock is ticking. The 'Countdown' theme tune is gradually being turned up to remind me I've not long to go find myself a sponsor so I can stay in this country. Two months to be exact. I've been aware the last few entries on this thing haven't been exactly positive, well, it's been a hard couple of months for everyone it seems, and many factors out of my control have made it a hard slog for me while I settle into my new life. Being able to settle down so to speak hasn't been easy with the looming 'credit crunch' (or 'lunch' or 'munch' as my friend Becky describes it) which the UK have so fondly decided to rename the recession. Over here we can say the 'R' word without financial analysts slapping us down, pressing their bony fingers to their pursed lips or having the media leap up, relishing being able to put the fear of God up our 'budget conscious' arses.

Moving to Australia has most definitely been a positive move for me - it has! There's no need to jab a finger into my side to remind me I've not exactly been happy these past few months. Truth be told, it's been expected and not at all surprising I've experienced the recent hardships, what with everything going around me in the big wide world and the decision to uproot my life and plonk it somewhere alien and distant. I can see now how my life would have continued it's endless cycle without the much needed 'kick up the arse' I so desperately needed. I am not alone. I only need to talk to my new found friend of mine to discover this. I have witnessed the best of times and the worst of times. Within myself and within my new life I have created. I need to remind myself what I have done is an incredible achievement and many people would never dare dream of taking the risk, opting for the comfort of familiarity rather then the vast potential of the unknown. I can tell you now the yearning for familiarity has been an intoxicating pull at times, especially when things haven't been going to plan. A naive part of me didn't expect it to be such a draw after leading quite a transient life up until the age of 18. Being in this country is far more than going to a place where it's sunnier. A cliche response I hear from many who remind me that life back home is 'the same and the weather is miserable' and I have to remind them the meteorological differences were never the catalyst for my my decision to come here.

So come January, I either begin my visa application and employer nomination application or I start packing my bags and heading home. How do I feel about this? Well, right now. 50/50 either way. Straight down the middle. There are pros and cons on either side and I teeter on a see-saw, wobblying in a fragile fashion, as every minor comment I hear or recent experience makes me lean one way or the other. I do have to remind myself if I went home now, what would I be going home to. 'To what?' exactly is the big behemoth of a question I have to write in big fat marker pen and place right in front of my face. This is the main reason to keep on going here. If I am true to myself, there is no 'going back' option for me right now. For it means I'd be going backwards. If I return it has to be because I have learned as much as I can from being here as possible and be excited to return home, to family and friends so I could start another chapter in my life and not because I have no other option. I know practically and financially it may not be possible to stay but I have to keep pursuing and ensuring I can create a life out here.

The next few weeks will undoubtedly give me the answers I'm looking for, with or without my help.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

And another thing about Australia...


More observations about the country I currently live in.

• Having basically only two newspapers (The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald) to chose from in this city is bliss.

• Australian women loathe Nicole Kidman as much as we loathe Keira 'The Chin' Knightley.

• People traveling on their own instinctively get into the front seat of taxi cabs.

• Sausages (Snags) are long, smooth in taste and generally disappointing.

• The weather in this country is not designed for umbrellas and nobody believes in raincoats apart from tourists.

• Tuna in cans is actually pink.

• Wholemeal bread is just white bread with brown specks.

• Chocolate does melt in this country despite all the rank additives and sugar they put in it.

• They sell Christmas cards with snow over here. Why?

• Smoothies are very popular but surprisingly unhealthy for you.

• It is 'Cash Out' and not 'Cash Back' at the tills.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Positive After Thought...

It started with a friend of mine saying he was ‘over gay men’, his search to reclaim an identity over his life had even thrown up the possibility of having sex with a woman as a result. Whatever reason behind this; out of curiosity, partly confusion, a desire for change or to gain control over his life, I felt perhaps my friend had considered his gay life had now become tiresome and perhaps irrelevant to him. It would be a natural assumption to question his sexuality or motives, which I did initially, but I found it stirred more intimate questions about my own life and needs.

I have spent my life trying to a fit into a group of people who never seem to give me what I really want - love and happiness. Gay life is perceived as a very competitive, materialistic and superficial world that is very unforgiving to many and for some like myself, we have come out of it bruised and disillusioned by what it promises to offer. I know I am not alone when I say my sexuality is only relevant to me and to nobody else, therefore the supposed way of life I must commit to is in fact no longer relevant to me. I ask only for a loving committed relationship with a man. No more, no less. I do not ask for conformity, expectations and the rules that come with my sexual preference. I am happy to be me and I ask for nothing more. If finding one person who could love and support me in equal measure, came with the condition I had to retreat from gay culture and all the trappings that came with it, I would happily say goodbye to it all right now. Without doubt or any regret. It’s never been a part of me. On occasion I perhaps fall into particular stereotypical behaviour but this is unintentional and most likely unavoidable. Those characteristics have never defined me. I don’t want to fight against them anymore either just so I can feel validated by either the straight or the gay world. What do those terms even mean? It is one world and we are all so very unique. I have no reason to fight to be accepted by my gay peers anymore, it is thankless task which makes no one, especially me, happy. I become the only one with an internal struggle. They have a life I do not want. I do not want to struggle with demons anymore. I am proud and happy to be who I am. Would my life be easier and happier if I was born straight, who knows? What matters is my identity is my own and I don’t have to justify it to anyone. If others disapprove or disagree, I no longer care what they think. I've done too much worrying about what others think. I love my individuality and it’s time to embrace it properly and claim it as my own.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Poof, Breeder or Confused?

As a gay man, people tend to ask you questions about sexuality. What's that all about I here you say? I know, peculiar isn't it?

I had a conversation with my new friend Annie and her husband Mike on Sunday. It always fascinates me what people ask, what they understand and how they perceive the subject. Most of the time, probably due to the company I keep, it's insightful, grounded and thought provoking. Occasionally you find someone who can't see beyond the 'Mr Humphries' stereotype, but they're quite rare to find nowadays under the age of 45.

I am envious of the younger generation (Jesus, I felt old typing that just now) who are able to come out and be surrounded by culture that embraces and celebrates their sexuality. Of course, it doesn't necessarily make it easier for the individual to come to terms with it but it certainly helps. I do wish I had the support network and the confidence when I decided to open my mouth and say those awfully difficult two words "I'm Gay". My friends were fantastic but there was no one else in my situation I knew well enough to confide in and grow up with, asking those pertinent intimate questions that only we'd have the nerve to ask each other and which perhaps I still want to ask now.

There is a set of presumptions many make about gay men. Beyond the obvious that is. One of which is many assume gay men are sexually confident as we are open to what we prefer in the bedroom, that gay men are the most open minded of people after experiencing first-hand prejudice, and that we happy to go against the grain and not be like the rest of straight society.

The wiser of you know those characteristics can be quite ridiculous, gay people are as different as the minutes in the day (actually scrub that analogy as my life is quite monotonous at the moment but you get my meaning). You'd think this goes without saying but time and time again, I am asked the same questions, people assume certain preconceptions and I am forever having to say 'Well I'm different. I'm me" and the debate or discussion commences. It always fascinates me.

Our discussion on Sunday raised a far more important issue, one of Identity and Conformity. Human nature requires labels to categorize and create a sense of order, so society can feel comfortable. If we do not fit a certain box, we try another, then another, until they fit. If one cannot be found, these unique few are considered an outsider or worse still, a freak.

I've "fought against the system" myself. (like Michelle Pfeiffer would do in Dangerous Minds but without the irritating mainstream rap music). I try not to define myself with certain characteristics and beliefs. It gives you freedom and independence but there is a price to pay. You don't fit in. Anywhere it seems. Fine for a natural hermit but for a socially dependent person like myself it doesn't make life easy. I like to play with the preconceptions about me, sometimes live up to them, other times do quite the opposite. I am exactly what you think I am maybe on face value but if you dig deeper, know me a little better, that mould slips away to reveal something quite different for those lucky few I call my close friends.

Or am I in fact yet another stereotype in the making, who knows?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Even Cliche Can Force You To Do Something Real...

I've spent the last 48 hours speaking to a variety of people. Family. Old friends. New friends. People who have known me all my life, some for years, some only for a few months. I've listened to many voices, all of which have been such huge source of comfort and wisdom to me. It's woken me up a bit. Like I've been shaken like a flimsy Victorian Doll and now I have some perspective back into my life. The 'tough love' as those annoying therapists call it, has forced me to face up to the reality of my situation.

It's taken me to be emotionally stripped down and to be on my own in a strange country to realise what is important to me. Despite my current hardships, I am learning what is missing in my life and that this is bigger than the usual daily grind and the obstacles life throws at us. It's bigger than not having a job, or having someone to share my life with, or not having friends in a new country. It's not even about moving to a new place. It's about what makes me happy and to perhaps as the cliche goes, "Learn to love myself" and "find a new direction". It's a good thing that this is happening to me, despite the fact I feel as though I'm going through a human grinder. It will take time. It certainly won't happen over night but I need to keep faith and remain true to myself so I can "be that change".

A part of me winces hugely like a five year old taking some hideous cough medicine as I consider using these prosaic self-help lines to justify my life decisions, but there is no other way to describe it and I have to admit, there maybe a lot of common sense in them. I can see Paul Coehlo or Deepak Chopra now (see picture above), arms folded, smarmy smile directed right at me, jabbing his stubby looking finger at me, whilst saying "See I told you. And you dared to mock my book".

I don't mean to be grandiose or cringe worthy. I just want things to go in positive and different direction. And don't worry, I'm aware this blog needs more anecdotal entries again to ensure it's more entertaining rather than deep and analytical. I promise to update it with some fun entries as soon as possible!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

At the bottom of the U...

I don't want to alarm you all with another seemingly negative and quite possibly depressing blog entry but I am having to write about the last month of my life, which can only be described as one of the hardest periods of my life in a very long time. Hence the lack of entries on my blog.

The dangerous concoction of unemployment, limited cash flow, no immediate friends, love life frustrations and a career and life dilemma has resulted in a very dark period for me. Yes, folks I'm going through a swell time at the moment. The initial "I'm going to live in Australia" decision is now very real. The life changing action of moving one's life abroad has reared it's real and very ugly head. Warts and all. Incredibly unforgiving and unglamorous too. The positive to this, is that the only way is up hopefully, plus the stress has made me loose quite a bit of weight and with the combination of a tan I look great! Although, if it gets any worse I may have knock on door of that omnipresent deity that claims to run my life and ask for my money back.

'Stir crazy' are the words to describe the time I have to myself whilst looking for a new job and I have way too much time to think. Not good for someone like me who has an internal 'Woody Allen' inside of him. I am hoping this week will change everything and that I will secure the job I've set my sights on for the last month. I'm sending those positive vibes out into the universe and claiming it as my own. I know I would do a good job in that role and I could really grow into the role. Watch this space as they say.

My new found friendships have also been affected by this lull and my relationships with those I care about deeply have also unfortunately been victims to this. As well as this being thoroughly distressing, I find myself regressing and unable to grasp the bigger picture and losing my confidence completely in situations that would have never bothered me years ago.

So as I brush the crap off myself now and face the world straight on, I can only have faith that the next step goes up! Watch this space...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Man who taught me how to sing

This is Jeremy.

I've been talking about him a lot. And for once not in a 'Oh God, another boy Richard has fallen for which will all end in tears' sense. Jeremy is in fact my singing teacher or 'Vocal Coach' as many prefer to be called. I've been seeing Jeremy for the last five months or so, he's been a blessing in disguise, not only has he taught me a huge amount about my voice and capabilities but the regularity of his lessons and the banter that comes with it has helped me settle into at least one form of routine out here in Sydney. He's a performer himself and very funny indeed too.

I go every Tuesday at 6.45pm. We do vocal warm ups. This involves varying degrees of 'meowing', 'sirens', 'sipping', 'yeahs' and surprisingly actual singing of some scales. I've gone from thinking I was a baritone back in the UK to actually being told I have the potential to be a high tenor. All "very exciting" as an trained performer would say.

I would have only got to this level, had it not been for Jeremy's ruthless training, and strict guidance. Constant beating with his ruler. I'm kidding, but he gets close. Seriously, I've learned so much and even surprised myself. Many would laugh but my most common instruction is to 'sing less, listen more and close your mouth'.

I'm now struggling with Italian arias (singing opera and trying to say the words if in my own mother tongue and not on an 18-30 holiday tour operator is hard work) and have several musical numbers under my belt now which is great. I'm apparently very loud. No surprise there you all shout. I must be channeling an inner Ethel or something.

Jeremy was in Spamalot recently in Melbourne and I have all my fingers and toes crossed for him as I know he'll be auditioning for Mary Poppins soon!

100% Nice....


I was on a bus to Bondi tonight and it drove past a Chocolate shop with a sign outside the front that read '100% NICE'. Not the catchiest of phrases but it gave me a shudder down my spine as it was a kindly and apt reminder of my personality once more. After the last few weeks, I do actually have to learn how to get angry more and not let people just walk all over me. Not sure if it's pride or failure to recognise when someone is taking liberties with me. I try to be generous, giving and empathic constantly and when certain people take advantage of it, I still remain shocked that they won't give anything back. I don't want my naivety to become the undoing of me. Answers to how I can be more of a complete bastard on a postcard please!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Making That Next Step...

Over the last few months I have been a little frustrated with the fact that even though I have made the huge plunge transferring my life to another part of the world to essentially sort my life out, I have in fact, made myself quite directionless for the time being. I find myself with no drive to continue pursuing the career I have built up these past few years and yet have a huge degree of caution considering the somewhat possible professional suicide nature of giving it all up to pursue a totally different career. Depending on who I talk to, advice is varied and full of opinion as one would expect. Full of the familiar phrases you hear when mulling over these big life decisions. It's not really a case of me taking control of my own life to solve this. It's about whether or not I want to spend the time fixing something I may not want to be fixed in the first place.

Luck. Life Choices. Destiny and Gut Instinct are phrases we use to justify what life hands us. It never really explains why that son of a bitch has got that promotion you wanted or why your lovely friend who has cancer has also lost her job. (By the way, I don't actually know these people they exist purely for my moral conundrum).

I am negotiating with my internal compass at the moment. Wondering if decisions regarding my career would be as hard as it is now, had I made a different choice all those years ago. I will of course never know. Only dreams and doubt offer any form of resolution there and I refuse to harp back to a better time or regret the choices I've made. Well, maybe a one or two. I'm just questioning why my choices have meant going against the grain a little too often, ascending that steep hill when I could have gone up the footpath just over there. Is something greater telling me I'm not meant to be doing what I'm doing? I feel it's time to challenge this before it's too late or otherwise I may resign myself to accepting my circumstances.

"Well, what can I say to that Richard?" I hear you cry. Well, nothing. I just wanted to get that out in the open. Clear my head space as always before those thoughts bounce round my cranium any further. I agree what most are probably thinking - the grass is greener, we make the best choices to suit the situation we're in, all our lives are a random path and so on.

I have realised my old life back in London was chockablock. I was ultra, mega, stupendously busy. Even my hobbies were time consuming.

I went to work.
I went to screenings after work
I rehearsed for 10 months of the year.
I did a show twice a year.
I did the marketing for the shows.
I did tap classes.
I did singing classes.
I 'tried' to write.
I wrote a blog.
I tried to date.
I socialised.
I saw my friends.
I hosted dinner parties & events.
I went to the gym.
And so on...

I did many other things and it's taken my sister to suggest perhaps my body and mind have decided to shut down for a bit and have a rest since arriving here in Australia. It makes sense why I feel so 'spent'. So I find myself only handling a few tasks and wondering why I don't have the drive or imagination to push myself again. I'm no longer content repeating my life in the same way and its forced me into a limbo period. Much like my friend Charlie, I constantly want to push myself further and never take the time to take stock and reflect on what I've achieved most of the time but here I am looking at my life at last. Apologies if most of what I am writing is drivel.

How many of really have control over our 'life choices'? Deepak Chopra's tells us to send our dreams out there and they will come back to you, Paul McKenna tells us to hypnotise ourselves into positive thinking, others just say work hard and you will be rewarded. Whatever we use to justify and focus our minds to the job in hand, the cynic inside of me wonders whether in fact it's a choice between the lesser of two evils or perhaps not having worthwhile obvious choice laid out before us. I am reading a biography of Stephen Sondheim at the moment. I wanted to discover how the greatest musical theatre composer of our time came to be where he is now by battling against the odds and facing permanent rejection, but in fact it's quite the opposite. Sondheim was, dare I say it, in a privileged situation to be able to achieve. I'm not saying it wasn't easy for him but many factors of his upbringing and the people he either knew or was introduced to, sure helped to forge the person he is now today. For example, being partially raised by the Hammersteins as young boy and Sondheim was also Manhattan upper class thanks to his parents social status. Yes, I thought 'Lucky bugger' too. Although, he had a mother who declared his birth was the worse thing that happened to her life, so it's not all 'coming up roses' as Sondheim would write.

Luck I've decided, is dependent on someone giving you the dice to throw in the first place.

Perhaps I'm not meant to be living this particular life. Perhaps it's time I should listen to my gut instincts despite the world furrowing it's responsible brow at me. Give myself a little faith I usually reserve for others. Go get that dream and really do have no regrets.

Friday, July 18, 2008

"They're Villians, Clare..."

Pardon me but I think a small trickle of wee just came out watching this.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fresh New Look...

Well, I've been playing round with the new templates in Blogger and given my blog a new look.

Yes, I'm still learning Photoshop so the new title treatment is a tad ropey still. I'm working on it and I may tinker with it a bit longer.

More importantly, you can now subscribe to my blog and add my RSS feed. You can do this in most mail applications, I know you can definitely do this with Mail on the Mac. So add me and you'll never be hungry for information about me again.

I imagine you'll all do this being such ardent fans and dedicated followers of mine.

I Thank You.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A few things I have observed about Australian culture...



• The restaurants are full of amazing cuisine. However the supermarkets fail miserably at doing the same.

• The height of Winter is currently 22 degrees.

• Racism, homophobia and sexism is still fashionable amongst many hetrosexual men.

• There are more chicken schnitzels per square metre in Sydney than in the entire country of Germany.

• Thongs are worn on your feet and not up yer bum.

• It is easier to purchase a child from Somalia than rental accommodation in Australia.

• Women's fashion is basically a cross between what fashion was two seasons ago and one of those parasols you get decorating your cocktail.

• Men's fashion is still under debate - even in the state of New South Wales.

• Melbourne and the internet are the only places to buy clothes.

• Post Offices don't open on a Saturday.

• Cockroaches are more disgusting and than any of the potential venomous creatures that live in Australia.

• Most Aborigines don't play digeridoos, they play with drugs, alcohol and fight against a government who has let them down severely.

• Class A drugs are as common as smoking.

• It is totally acceptable for straight men to manscape and talk openly about it.

• Oxford St in Sydney is long and disappointing.

• People expect you go home on time and have a life.

• You can buy Marmite here.

• Only tourists go to Bondi Beach.

• Australians actually watch Neighbours despite those in the UK who protest vehemently against this.

• I am continually surprised at the number of Australians who have never been to New Zealand.

Monday, May 26, 2008

So where the bloody hell am I?....


So it's been a while since I talked about myself. Ironic for a blog.

My random observations are probably not going to assure the casual reader that I'm fine and doing well. I fear my writing might meander once more into more profound thoughts and people will start turning off in their droves like when when Harry Secombe used to start singing on his religious programme Highway.

The allure of 'starting anew' is now bringing new hardened realities to the forefront and I'm realising now what it really takes to start again and the feeling of being out of place when I could be at home with all things familiar is a conundrum indeed for a brain like mine which loves to churn things through unnecessarily.

My life here at the moment is a bit like being at a sophisticated dinner party and having to wear someone else's clothes after perhaps being caught in the rain or after accidentally spilling spaghetti down my front. I'm sitting there, smiling away, feeling slightly aware of myself, thinking I really should sort myself out and get myself into something more 'Me' or vaguely familiar at least. While I sit there thinking this, all the other guests at the dinner table are giving me weak smiles as they go about their own conversations and I have no choice but to look down at the XL large sweater I've been given to wear, only realising it has the words "30 Years Old. Experiencing Quarter Life Crisis. Out Of Place But Willing" emblazoned on it.

It's a personal mental holiday. I am on leave. On sabbatical if you must. And being without goals at the moment disturbs me somewhat.

There is excitement to be had regarding my vocal tuition or in layman's terms my 'Singing Lessons' though.

As Kirstie Walk would say "More on this later..."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Agreeing to Disagree...


"After thousands of years and with over 6.6 billion people in world, mankind continues to be surprised why we all can't think and be alike."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Who says politics isn't sexy?




With the upcoming D-Day looming for Senator Obama and Clinton this week, I thought I would show you Steve Grove. A slightly shallow reason to get into U.S. politics perhaps but the Creator of Citizentube on Youtube, reports on the daily news coverage of the American election process, giving insight and opinions to the internet generation. A fantastic opportunity I think, to get young people politicised. The added bonus as you can see is he's quite easy on the eye too. As a big fan of The West Wing you can understand why not it's not just his good looks that excites me so. He's smart and passionate. We like this in a man. Needless to say Steve goes onto my BFM list.

Anyway compared to my last entry this is a nice fluffy entry with a political edge to it. Apparently my last blog diatribe totally confounded some people. I apologise for going off on a complete tangent.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0k0ri5trM8&feature=user

video

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Jamie Oliver Syndrome...

Strike up the band. Send telegrams to your loved ones. Sing it from your rooftops.

I officially have a Life.

So why do I find it slightly disconcerting that a small part of me craves to be an unemployed bum again? (possibly because I thought about it while I was sat at my new desk battling with formulas in Excel) I admit right now and off-the-bat, the month off however desperately needed and thoroughly enjoyed it was, did get a bit boring and frustrating near the end. It did raise an interesting question however - if money was no object and if society didn't pressure us into doing it, would we be happy not working?

I have visions of aliens looking down at us from outer space. Witnessing probably what we see on those Wildlife on One specials about ants or wasps. Watching us mindless going about our day like drones systematically performing repetitive daily tasks without question. Our little honeycomb lives. I admit, it's a tad profound for my quirky blog but it's high time I go a bit Alain De Botton on you, just so you realise I'm more than a pretty face.

Scaling it up a bit and being a tad more BBC FOUR than BBC TWO about this subject - money is good to have. Of course it is. If that was no exception and we were all 'Ladies who Lunch' would we be happier? For me personally I like to have goals. A few years ago, the social aspect of a work environment was huge part of why I enjoyed 'going to work'. As time moves on and priorities change, I'd now like control my own life schedule and not so adamant about social intercourse at work as I once was. I admit this is probably an age thing rather than a philosophical question but there is something a tad deeper to consider. There is a crisis many find ourselves in today, due to an onslaught of technology that has allowed mass communication to permeate into our lives on a scale which has never been experienced before. The internet, mobiles, blackberries and our modern, ultra-efficient lifestyles means we have access to anything and everyone, wherever and whenever we want. It also means however, we can be accessed by our work 24/7. This in itself is a terrifying thought to comprehend for many like myself who try to adhere, and quite rightly so, the need to draw a line between 'work' and 'play'. This new era of the never-ending work ethic and the constant pressure to perform and deliver is an investment which I and others feel reaps very little in return and which also never ever seems to be enough for those who demand it. This can also partly come from our own expectations. As a result we feel as though have failed in some way. I mean this in terms of quality of life rather than financial, although current economic climates have even made this even more poignant to how much we have 'failed'. Anyone who lives in a big city like London will have heard of the common complaint many of my friends have regarding their quality of life. It was one of the reasons I had to leave London myself. Not as I was tired of hearing the same familiar conversation but because I too wanted to address the imbalance in my own life. It is disparaging to work hard and receive little recognition for it and it has made us more envious of those who can seemingly 'not work for a living' or work less but have better lives than we do.

Is this the modern generation being lazy and not appreciating what the modern age allows us to achieve? Have we forgotten how to live while we obsessed over integrating unachievable work ethics and new technology into our lives or is there a genuine concern we should be addressing and seeking a cure for the 'Modern Work Malaise'.

There are great books on this by the way if you're interested that touch on these subjects. Status Anxiety and Affluenza are fascinating reads (which is a more in depth examination to what every thirtysomething asks what it means to be successful and why we are still unhappy yet 30 years ago we had less but were more happier, or as I describe it as "Why am I not Jamie Oliver yet?" referring to his seemingly perfect life, career and family - recent Sainsbury wranglings to one side)

Perhaps the Modern Work Malaise should be called 'The Jamie Oliver Syndrome'. I have my suspicions however even he might doubt his level of personal success sometimes.

I suppose what I'm trying to say, insights and world ruminations aside, is that there are questions regarding what I want to do with the rest of my life. Work seems endless wherever I am but is necessarily to survive and stimulate the old grey matter. Do I go on with what I'm doing now? I'm sure this question rears it head throughout anyone's life. I'd like to write more. Perhaps do some freelance writing again, like the film reviews I once did but perhaps this time with some social commentary. If only I could convince Charlie Brooker to let me cover him when he next takes a holiday from his Guardian article.

Am I carving out a whole new career in the making or is this trappings of a lifestyle that has even more pros and cons to the one I have now? Who knows what intellectual trepidations that might bring.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Beyond Useless...


"Hi there, how's Australia treating you?"

"Umm, er, it's treating me fine I suppose. Thank you for seeing me."

"So, you've come to Australia to look for work? How exciting. Now, just to let you know the job advertisement you responded to isn't available now."

"The entertainment marketing job?"

"Yes, that's the one. Don't worry, after that ruse I'm sure we can find you something."

"Oh."

"I know. You're qualifications were perfect for that job, weren't they? We don't have anything at the moment, but it's great that we finally get the chance to meet so I get to waste more of your time."

"Right, so I filled in this application form for nothing? Why does it ask for bank details by the way and what's with the question 'If you were a brand what would you be?' is this you trying to be hip and relevant or something?"

"Oh you don't need to worry about that. So, tell me a little bit about yourself while I think about what I'm going to have for lunch today."

"Well, I've had a varied career as Art Director, Marketing Manager and Account Manager. I've had extensive experience in the field of creative, marketing and advertising and now specialise in entertainment design but not exclusively... excuse me, are you just nodding at me politely?"

"Yes... a low fat salad is what I'll have. Now, I will be phoning my 'contacts' to see if I can drum up some interest in you. I'm also going to say a lot of big, exciting company names to you now and make it sound as I know every one of them personally, when in fact, I only know the HR manager who only reluctantly takes my calls as I constantly hound them. Does that sound like something convincing?"

"Well, a job working for a successful company sounds great, but..."

"Fantastic! Now, do you see yourself as more a creative than a strategic person, would you consider working agency side perhaps? I only ask this just to make me sound as though I know something about your job. I just don't want you to know I'm actually listening for several unrelated keywords from which I will feebly attempt to match you against a highly inappropriate job spec."

Umm, well I'm a trained creative person but have had strategic..."

"That's great, that's all I needed to hear. I see you also have a working holiday visa?"

"Yes, I... Why did you just pull that face?"

"Have you seen any other recruitment agencies or gone for any interviews so far? Be careful now, I know I look anodyne and false but I will shaft your potential career prospects if I find out you're not just using me. And if there's any chance I can put another candidate against you for a job, I will do it."

"Umm...NO? You're the first person I've seen actually."

"Great. I'll be as useless as the next agency you see anyway."

"Fine. I'm just slowly getting disillusioned about job hunting, you might as well kill the last ounce of hope I have left. If you continue to annoy me I'll just remind you that your only other career options were probably lawyer or estate agent. Is there anything else you need to know? Do you need to scribble any more doodles of flowers and swirly patterns on my CV or is that it?"

"No, I have everything. Just to let you know, I won't be calling you for a few weeks, if that's okay with you? Do keep in touch though and let me know how the job hunting is going your end. Just so I can field your calls and say 'Nothing has come in yet'. I'll eventually return one of your calls and suggest some crappy job spec we've had lying round the office for some time, hoping it may distract from how unhelpful I've been. By then, you'll get an idea of how we operate."

"Well, thanks for speaking at me. It's been pure joy. Perhaps I should have spent it more productively figuring how many of your business cards I could fit in your mouth?"

"It's been great to finally meet you too. Hopefully we can get you the job that fits you perfectly Robert."

"It's Richard."

Friday, February 29, 2008

Kate The Great...

I'm reading yet another biography about my favourite actress, who most of my friends know I endless quote and refer to a lot. The videos below are an abridged version of the intense 600 page book I am reading now. It's also a test to see if videos are something I want to add to my blog.

video
video

Her lust for life and decent common sense always enthralled and inspired me. Her quote below is what I try to do with my life daily and I thought I would share these simple words with you:

The thing about life is that you must survive. Life is going to be difficult, and dreadful things will happen. What you must do is move along, get on with it, and be tough. Not in the sense of being mean to others, but tough with yourself and making a deadly effort not to be defeated.


- Katharine Hepburn

Thursday, February 28, 2008

OK?...


Sometimes I wonder if words I spell are correct, words I have continued to spell for years sometimes. I hate to be incorrect. I make every effort to ensure words are written properly and my grammar is also in tip top working order, even though I do admit failing occasionally with syntax (the result I feel of thinking too quickly and typing too slowly). I realise the English language evolves continuously, but the wonderful rules we have created enabling us communicate effectively with each other is also in danger of dying out if we're not too careful. I think it's important to keep it good working order so to speak. So it terrifies me that the latest generation horrifically uses 'TXT SPK' in everyday conversation now or should I say 'CONVO'. I put my case forward with this aberration below:

ooow god c i dnt no hu u r babe im gessing u go 2 beal 6form but atleeast u no wat im talkin about....! this is frm head to toe "storkage" the guyz probably gona fink were a bunch of pedoz LOOL.....x


To be quite frank. What the fuck is that?

A grown 16 year old woman wrote this on a Facebook page. I know it's a "Social Networking Site" but there is no excuse. Emmeline Pankhurst is probably turning in her grave at the thought this girl now has the right to vote but not actually given herself the right to spell and form complete sentences. I felt quite sick reading it and wanted to violently stick the Oxford English Dictionary into one of her orifices. If you actually 'translate' it, she also thinks 15 years olds can be classified as pedophiles because they fancy their teacher (who is a friend of mine). Yes - after three, we can sigh simultaneously together. Do I sound like a Daily Mail journalist yet?

Anyway, I return to the point in hand. One of the simplest words Okay or OK used in my last entry, was one such word that made me think twice about it. I wanted to know where this phrase came from. Well, I wanted to know, as I have a keen obsession over the English language and also love to consume useless facts. According to Dictionary.com (I know it's American but I will find out what dependable old Oxford say too) it is derived from the following:

OK is a quintessentially American term that has spread from English to many other languages. Its origin was the subject of scholarly debate for many years until Allen Walker Read showed that OK is based on a joke of sorts. OK is first recorded in 1839 but was probably in circulation before that date. During the 1830s there was a humoristic fashion in Boston newspapers to reduce a phrase to initials and supply an explanation in parentheses. Sometimes the abbreviations were misspelled to add to the humour. OK was used in March 1839 as an abbreviation for all correct, the joke being that neither the O nor the K was correct. Originally spelled with periods, this term outlived most similar abbreviations owing to its use in President Martin Van Buren's 1840 campaign for reelection. Because he was born in Kinderhook, New York, Van Buren was nicknamed Old Kinderhook, and the abbreviation proved eminently suitable for political slogans. That same year, an editorial referring to the receipt of a pin with the slogan O.K. had this comment: "frightful letters ... significant of the birth-place of Martin Van Buren, old Kinderhook, as also the rallying word of the Democracy of the late election,'all correct' .... Those who wear them should bear in mind that it will require their most strenuous exertions ... to make all things O.K."

"How fascinating!" and yes, I'm aware only myself said that just now.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Wandering and wondering....

I started writing this to a friend and realised it was probably eloquent enough to put on here too with a few editorial tweaks.

It's my fourth week in Sydney now and as I sit here typing away at my laptop, thinking about how my life has changed, watching the unannounced clouds roll into the bay where I live (It's going to heave it down tonight with fantastic thunderstorm later - see, even the weather here is more interesting) I realised I'm just unemployed and wearing less clothes. However, it's not that bad really. It is hotter here and although I'm not cold at all, because I'm British I can't help thinking I may need an extra layer when I go out - just in case. It's a habit I have to break out of as I end up carrying a lot of useless crap around with me.

Life here is still in a state of limbo. It's not the worse state to be in but I'm desperately needing my own job and space now so I start my 'new life' in full. I went on the ferry to Circular Quays last week for an interview one morning. It was a spectacular Australian morning. A solid blue sky, as if someone had neatly selected the fill button on Human Nature's Photoshop and given the sky one hue of 'Blue'. I stood on the top deck of the ferry, allowing the breeze to dance through my hair and flutter against my face. I wore my aviator sunglasses, a crisp white cotton shirt, jeans and gracefully sat back to listen to Carly Simon's Let The River Run from the movie Working Girl. For a moment, I was Melanie Griffiths as Tess MgGill starting her first day of work, although for me it was my new life. Only then, for the first time since I arrived here did I think, "Richard. Everything is going to be okay."

It is nice to have open friendly public around you though when you make a significant move like this. Not have people who refuse to give you eye contact or glare into your soul if you invade their personal space on a train, bus or pavement, which pretty much sums up London's attitude to anyone and, I am ashamed to say, I was one of those people. (It's not quirky and eccentrically British - it's plain rude.) My initial spontaneity has been replaced with partial restlessness now and I fear for when order gets reintroduced into my life again, as I keep being told to enjoy the free time I currently have. I can't help knowing the organised part of me would like a 'Start Date' so it can schedule in events into my .Mac account calendar and buy trainers without guilt. I'm sure it will all fall into place come once the job arrives. I must learn to curb my impatience in the meantime.

I am enjoying the weather as it's not it's usual unbearably hot and more like a good British summer. I like seeing the water. It's everywhere and it's very calming. Even if you're in the middle of the city and your standing next to a man-made fountain it still has the same effect on you.

I went out on Oxford St, the gay district of Sydney last night and realised I loathe the scene wherever it may be. No new revelation there. Over here they're more vain and are usually 'off their tits' on something quite early on in the evening. This tends to stop when they reach 35 apparently, looking at the rental ads I saw last week. As then, they tend buy small dogs and apartments with great views of the harbour. I say this only as all the ads I've read are by gay men in their mid/late 30s who own amazing flats and a hairy collared animal who they describe as 'My Baby' or 'Chico' and always end their ad with the line "I do not tolerate drug users."

A spark of originality is all I ask for in a gay man. Please! My quest may continue a little longer perhaps.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

There's A Life At The End Of This Tunnel...


A cockatoo landed on the veranda yesterday and my instant reaction was someone's pet had escaped. I realised then I was in another country. This is my new life now and big fat birds with yellow crests bounding up to a window pane is a perfectly common anomaly. Things are going to be different. I watched it with much bemusement and with a sense of pure novelty usually reserved for petting zoos and stupid people, realising my reaction to this exotic bird is probably how I've spent most of my time here since I arrived two weeks ago. It's not like I'm here on holiday or moved here permanently with both feet firmly on the ground, knowing which direction I'm heading. I'm in a limbo period and I'm not sure how to approach anything. I don't have my usual habits to fall back on or friends to immediately reassure me or places to go for comfort. I've spent some of it trying to recreate situations I had during my life back in London and unsurprisingly they just don't work over here. And that's good I suppose. I'm making hesitant choices over trivial things - what type of travel card to buy - Red? Blue? Travel Ten or Travel Pass? What meat do I choose from the alien supermarket freezer - why do the sausages look anemic and the lamb badly cut? Why do I think twice at meeting up with old friends who have offered to show me the way but prefer to meet complete strangers instead? I should be diving into everything head first, embracing it as it comes, but if I do, it means I'm actually 'living' here now.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Time to Say Goodbye...

It is a wonderfully surreal experience knowing that the next month ahead of you will be full of choice, freedom and self inflicted fear. I got to steal a moment at my leaving do last night in order to see all my friends together under one roof. Laughing, smiling at me, sharing stories, so many different personalities sandwiched between wine glasses and beer bottles, all sharing one thing in common - my friendship.

I am a lucky, lucky man.

It was utterly heartbreaking but yet immensely life affirming to leave my friends. I hope they know how much happiness they've given me over the years. Old and new friends alike. Farewells and excitable exclamations from jealous friends were touching but I felt almost strangely unworthy, as I never felt I was doing anything special or come to think of it, anything they couldn't do themselves. I did feel like I was abandoning so many people who had given me so much. To relish in my future endeavor too much in front of them would have felt self-absorbed in way.

The 'Parentals' were there to also witness this potpourri of people who claimed to know me. The fact they got the chance to meet them all and see the side of my life they only hear in passing during the odd phone conversation was incredibly important to me and I know through friends who spoke to them they enjoyed themselves, despite the minimal reaction I got when I asked them. Modest to the end, my folks.

So, on to the next entry. This one will take a little longer to digress into literary prose. I'm stepping up to the bench, lets hope I can be brave and grab opportunity with both hands and not freak out and regress to the familiar.

Watch this space. And this time that space is awfully big.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

This Year I...

In 2007, I...

...finally hit 30 ...met Lord Lloyd Webber ...tapped along side Darcy Bussell ...saw Carrie Bradshaw and friends ...watched Rufus do Judy ...lost a beloved friend and Godmother ...learned how to reach an A# ...finally saw the Baker, his wife , Cinderella and Jack go into the woods ...had a boat party ...got a crush on a reality TV star ...met him and met him too many times ...said goodbye to my other sister ...drank Manhattans on top of a NY skyscraper ... met my new brother in-law to be ...went to A&E with sliced finger ...booked a flight that will hopefully change my life.

Happy New Year! Lets see what 2008 brings shall we?