Tuesday, 15 September 2020

FYI




I spent a fair bit of time yesterday reading about COVID 19 and thought I would present my findings. 

  • The pandemic is over and we must understand that a second wave is imminent, inevitable, unlikely and impossible. 
  • Life must absolutely get back to normal and we absolutely must have another lockdown.
  • Masks are useless and they protect you and others; indeed they can actually confer immunity, except in cases where they make you more vulnerable to infection. 
  • It's safe - indeed it's vital for the economy - that you eat out and go to work or university, but bear in mind that doing so will make you responsible for your granny's death, so don't eat out, you selfish, irresponsible twat, and work from home if you can. 
  • But it's OK if you can't. 
  • The virus is afraid of certain environments (Marks and Spencer's, Tesco) and if you work there, you needn't wear a mask. 
  • The virus doesn't infect people on protest marches if the march is in favour of the right cause. 
  • The worst is over and also yet to come. 

You're welcome.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Teacher


I've only taught four online lessons so far - October is when it really starts. They all went fairly well. It still felt rather like putting up with the water being turned off or making do with a small calor gas stove while you wait for someone to repair the hob - second best, an unavoidable temporary nuisance. But now I'm afraid that there will never be a return to face to face teaching, at least in our context. Overseas students save a fortune by doing a pre-sessional online from home, and it is going to be hard to make a case for anyone forking out to come over here for three months of face to face lessons, especially if the students are going to return to their Chinese-speaking bubbles as soon as they leave the classroom. 

So almost everything that made teaching pleasurable is gone, as far as I'm concerned. 
It made a frustrated ham feel less frustrated. It got me out of the house, forced me to be somewhat sociable, gave me loads of exercise (I don't like to see teachers plonked behind a desk at the front of the class) and very often the feeling that I'd been useful and appreciated. The improvisations and changes of direction that kept me quick-witted are much more difficult to execute. I cannot privately approach an individual who's floundering, or even see if anyone is. Now we sit at home in front of a computer and conduct séance after séance with students who are talking heads in two-inch squares on a screen. Does anyone really enjoy this or think it a reasonable swap for human contact?


My four lessons were with a group of eighteen students, each sitting alone in their bedrooms in China, Korea, Thailand, Kuwait, Kurdistan, Libya, Turkey and Colombia. The Colombian lad was joining us at four in the morning - there's dedication. As students logged in before the lesson began and before I switched on my camera and mic, I heard them chatting and joking. The atmosphere they created was humorous and pretty hard-working given the frustrations inherent in being 'together alone' and I was probably the only one who was thinking how much better this would be in a physical classroom where it would be at least twice as humorous and hard-working. 

Well, I'm a glass-half-empty sort and things might improve, but I don't know how. Any suggestions gratefully received.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Rodney, Rodney, why?

 


I could not resist that heartfelt plea to share this video far and wide. Rodney, for shame, sir. You are a bounder and a cad.

BTW, gentlemen, I understand the more attractive of the ladies is single.

Friday, 24 July 2020

On masks


In England, you must now wear a mask if you wish to be admitted into a shop or supermarket. Blood donors are required to wear one throughout the procedure but presumably permitted to remove it for the compensatory cup of tea and custard creams when it is over. In Wales, on the other hand, should you turn up to donate blood wearing a mask, you will be asked to remove it. Masks are so vitally important to our survival that everyone here was given full fourteen days notice of the mask ruling - and thus license to continue spreading pestilence around the shops for two weeks - before being forced to desist on pain of a fine as from Friday the 24th of July. However, at no point this year have supermarket staff been required to wear masks, nor will they be, despite spending all their shifts indoors where the virus is supposedly more likely to get to you. Since March, masks have been 1) vital but everywhere unavailable, 2) useless, nay, 3) more likely to increase the rate of infection than reduce it, then suddenly 4) compulsory - except at Sainsbury's and Aldi, where the barefaced cheek (and mouth and nose) to defy the ruling will not be challenged. 

We're in good hands here. 

*****

I've been buggering about with Blogger. The layout looks a bit off now as I'm trying to make it look a bit more up-to-date. I saved changes accidentally and wish I had not. This is a minor matter in the scheme of things but it pisses me off. 

Friday, 15 November 2019

Happy Ending?

Fuck, what a dull life I lead. In September I decided to abstain a while from the grape, and the long evenings on alcohol-free beer made me realise how much I mute the utter boredom of my existence with booze. For how many years have I managed to persuade myself that I am much less gregarious than is in fact the case? I fell off the wagon a bit (OK, a lot) over a weekend in Glasgow - not a place where you can expect much support for your decision to go easy on the swally - and gradually reverted to type from the end of October. Here is your brain on alcohol: cut off the supply and it feels like sitting at home while bailiffs cart off all the CDs, plants, candles, cushions and knicknacks that make the place your own, leaving it featureless as dentist's waiting room.

How did you get me on to this? I was going to tell you about the 'sensual massage' I had today. My dry weeks had made me realise how much I miss the touch of men, so I found a male masseur in the nearest big town who would do me a massage with a 'happy ending', which I took to mean massage + wank, for forty quid. I booked myself in for an hour well ahead of time a) to enjoy a sense of anticipation and b) to give myself time to bottle out. I think you may need to have been fifteen years celibate to understand how much the prospect of being naked with another man can seem at once blissful and intrusive.

Well, today was the day. Cold, grey, wet - a day for staying under the duvet if ever any was. I do not know this bloke, I thought. Will he be alone in the house, or will he have heavies watching us on CCTV? (I was watching T2 Trainspotting at the weekend.) Sweeney Todd, John George Haigh of acid bath fame and Dennis Nielsen came to mind, the images impatiently dismissed, as serial murderers tend not to have websites disclosing their every contact detail along with photos of the inside and outside of their house. Even so, the erotic was far from my thoughts as I set off for the station in driving rain.

Adam turned out to be a sweet. quiet, gentle and welcoming young man, half Turkish, half Romanian. I shucked off my clothes and lay prone on his massage table. He shucked off his and watching his preparatory faffing with bottles of oil at the side of me I thought, 'that is the first flesh and blood cock other than my own that I've seen this many a year.'

Being touched after so many years of feeling as if I lived under a glass dome was an odd clutch of sensations. I tried to clear my mind and just give in to Adam's smooth, firm strokes, but my mind was as noisy and unruly as always: thinking about writing this up as a blog post, wanting to replace his music (aimless, plinky-plonky New Age dribble) with Chopin nocturnes, exasperation that my cock seemed so uninvolved in the proceedings. I kept flinching as zones of flesh long unvisited woke with a start. My knob stayed resolutely unmoved throughout, so the 'happy ending' was looking less and less likely, and sure enough, after massaging around my unresponsive manhood for five minutes or so, Adam announced 'I'm done.'

He didn't intend it to sound like 'this is hopeless' but I felt it that way, briefly. He wiped away the oil with a towel and I started to get dressed. He put on his t-shirt and dick aswing, moved the massage table back against the wall. Our nakedness now seemed more of the changing-room than the bedroom and I knew I'd need to hold him and caress him if I was to get a hard-on. A massage, or a massage plus wank, is a service, like a haircut, pedicure or private medical. I'll pay for that. But I won't pay a man to pretend he desires me.

Adam made small talk and guessed my age, missing by a decade, which was flattering even if he was perhaps being diplomatic. I paid him and we hugged before I left and it was genuinely affectionate on both sides. (I think.) Later in an email he said he had deliberately avoided touching my packing area because I had seemed so nervous and he hadn't wanted to make me feel more so. This was a kindly miscalculation, because I always did flinch when anyone touched me anywhere around the waist but my cock has always been up for grabs. (Sorry, couldn't resist that.) It also dispelled a prejudice I held about people who work in the sex industry. As well as a very good masseur, Adam is an escort, aka rent-boy, and I had always thought people who did such work were ipso facto well dodgy. But no: Adam was as concerned for my comfort and satisfaction as the private GP I saw for a thorough medical at the end of October, and there are organisations and people in my profession who should be avoided like high voltage.

I walked to the station from Adam's place, realising I need not have paid over a fiver in taxi fares to get there on the outward journey. I got home with a stiffy like a beer bottle and this was simultaneously a relief and a disappointment - relief that I don't need Viagra, disappointment at the delayed reaction.




Not him but not unlike him.
*****

A handsome young hunk who is attending my lectures arrived half an hour early and helped me to move the tables into cafeteria style. (Other lecturers seem to prefer them set out in rows as in a Victorian school room.) As I was pootling about on the computer, he asked 'sir, is it OK if I go to the toilet?' Of course it was OK - why did he need to ask, and why call me 'sir'? Later a few others arrived a discussion of an assignment for a different module arose, the brief for which it seemed was less than transparent. 'I'll have to ask Miss' said the young man, who is six foot if he's an inch yet as innocent as a toddler. I could have hugged him. Now I'm waiting for him to call our five minute break 'play time'.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

'Shall I leave this here?'

For me, nothing in this sublunary world rivals the beauty of young males and after Tumblr went all prudish and modishly censorious on us last year, I nuked my ten year-old blog curating images of masculine hotness and moved to Twitter. I don't especially like Twitter. You may post there as much cock as you like, so I do. But beware: disagreement with any of the current 'woke' orthodoxies will make you unpopular and could get you suspended. On the other hand, urge people to punch 'transphobes' or to visit other forms of violence on members of any group currently deemed oppressors, (white men, white men and white men, mostly) and you will garner likes by the bucket-load, presumably with the tacit approval of the beardy Silicon Valley man-buns in control. Disagreement is censored, but incitement to violence? Like, whatever.

This morning a gay Twitterer published two black and white photos, the back and front bums of a trans man, with the question 'shall I leave this here?' We were offered what looked like a convincingly muscled and hairy male arse, then equally masculine hairy thighs and between them, a vulva and clitoris. The comments were without exception most enthusiastic, urging the Tweeter to keep the post up, many remarking salaciously on what they would love to get up to with the trans man in the photo. Given the gay male adoration of the phallus, I found this extraordinary. Some of the comments were baffling variations on 'hey, great ass and dick, dude!'



Today's mystery object

Dick? There was no dick: there was, as I said, a vulva. Even though I have far more hands-on experience of the former than the latter, I can tell the difference. So in answer to the Tweeter's question, I wrote 'No, I like men.' Well, the model for the photos appears to keep tabs on the comments they attract, for within seconds I received a charming message: 'I AM a man, you stupid bitch!' and was instantly blocked from his account, one I had not intended to look at, far less follow.


OK, he says he's a man, and if we don't want the Old Bill to call and tick us off for provoking a 'non-crime hate incident' - now there's a category for you to ponder - we must concur. (And no, it was not a fucking limerick, it was pure doggerel.) Thinking aloud: my experience of being a man includes having a whole swath of dreary expectations about appropriate masculine behaviour dumped on me as a boy by my elders, most of which I resisted, but also inevitable, physical, exclusively male stuff such as having twanging erections, the feeling during sex that my cock is like a fifth limb reaching to touch another man, knowing the fierce joy of ejaculation, knowing how pleasurably and painfully tender testicles are, experiencing a time or two the agony of getting my foreskin caught in the zip of my jeans and having had a couple of doctors shove a finger up my arse to check my prostate. (On separate occasions, not both at once.) I didn't have to take hormones to lower my voice and develop muscles, beard and chest hair because my balls make them naturally. He has known none of these things, and never will. So if he and I are both men, what does it mean to be a man? I'll listen to anyone's thoughts on this.



It is possible, I suppose, that tweeters remarking on the hotness of that non-existent cock were doing so ironically, but I strongly suspect not. We now live in a world where people post such tweets as 'penises can be incredibly female' and a man who wears a wig and ill-chosen dresses can kick up a stink because beauticians who offer intimate waxing only for women refuse to depilate his ball sac, even though it's a female ball sac, or a ball sac on a female body or whatever the hell s/he would have us have it it be. Male, female, man, woman, penis, vagina - all seem to be words that are losing their meaning, and you do well not to point this out, except pseudonymously, if you want a quiet life.


A while ago I suggested to a friend that anyone who decided to update Charles Mackay's 1841 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds' would probably start right here with the gender madness of the last few years. I was right: Douglas Murray has done just that. I'm on the train down home from the North and the book's waiting for me there. Entirely predictably, the Guardian reviewer does not like the book. This review from the London Evening Standard is more positive. Good review here by Lionel Shriver.




Anybody want to take up Zinnia Jones's challenge? I don't know where to start.

Ceci n'est pas un homme.


Thursday, 12 September 2019

Still Here

Maybe...
Well, it's been a while. This blog was ten years old earlier this month and I have been thinking it must finally be time to retire it. I update it so infrequently nowadays, unlike in the first two years when I wrote two or three posts a week. However, I have just started a full-time contract at the university where I have been a part-time, hourly paid lecturer for the last eleven years (illegal, I know, but universities are great prevaricators) and I hope there might be more to write about soon. Whether there's anybody out there still reading I don't know.  


I turned sixty this year and decided it was time to get an MOT done on this old corpse. British GPs will not do you one of these. I don't visit mine very often but when I do, he relies on blood tests and possibly telepathy and X-ray vision rather than on physical examination, and I can't help worrying he might be missing something internal and complicated. Private well-man medicals are usually pretty expensive but I managed to find a clinic in Cambridge that will do me one for £250, which seems reasonable. The insurance will pay half of that. It could be argued that 125 quid is still pretty steep just to be told you drink too much. Then again, these days I can't see how else I could get another man to feel my balls.




Before plumping for the Cambridge place, I googled around a bit. Examining the website of the Mayo Clinic in London, I found an untreated dangling participle:



...so I sent them an e-mail:


Dear Mayo Clinic,

I note from your website that you offer a novel variation on the normal procedure for a medical examination: ''After disrobing and changing into a gown in a private examination room, the doctor will perform a comprehensive assessment of your constitution and specific organ systems.'' Please could you tell me how much it would cost to have a doctor disrobe for me? Also, as private clinics in London do not come cheap, could I suggest your website display photographs of your medical team in a state of undress, so that clients can make a more informed choice?


Kind regards, 


Ipmilat, quondam Vilges Suola




I'll let you know if they reply.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Holy Shit




An inspiration indeed! Let's make Notre Dame look almost as magnificent as Meadowhall. In that glass-covered nave, let there be built, ad maiorem Dei gloriam, a mall. We could have The Transfiguration cosmetics and perfumes boutique, The First Stone jewelers, the Loaves and Fishes lunch counter, The Hoc Est Corpus Meum gym and spa, real ales at The Lamp and Bushel and Il Cenacolo for fine dining. You know, I'm beginning to suspect there might be money to be made from religion.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Piscean Pig




Friday March the first was my sixtieth birthday. The sun (or is it the moon?) is in Pisces and this is the Chinese Year of the Pig, as it was when I was born. My thoughts on the matter were conventional: I used to think forty was old, so how the fuck did this happen? Answer: don't get killed between the ages of 40 and 60 and it'll take care of itself. There is so much more time behind me than there is in front! This has been the case for some years now, but only last week did I fully (and glumly) look the fact in the face. I'm broke and can never retire. Then again, life with no work would quite literally bore me to death, even if I had millions stored away.

So I'm old, it's official. Senior rail pass, free prescriptions... I bought a ticket for my commute to work tomorrow with a seven quid discount, picked up my first free prescription from Boots and in total saved fifteen quid that I'd have shelled out for the same stuff only last month. But am I happy??? In a pig's arse! I flash my senior pass at the conductor as if it were a notification that I had cooties. I'll get used to it. (No fucking choice) Naturally I bought a bottle of wine with the money saved, but I'd have done that anyway.

I did have a nice birthday, though, on the first of the month. I took a train up to Glasgow where my nephew lives and was greeted at Glasgow Central by him and my sister, who'd flown up to surprise me, which was incredibly touching. Glasgow is remarkably well fed, and we had tapas on the Friday evening and a fantastic meal at Mother India on the Saturday (fish pakoras, then monkfish and king prawn with ginger and dill - brill). Bloody arse-numbing train journey (as long as a flight to Abu Dhabi, I imagine) but next time I will at least get a big chunk of money knocked off.

*****

Reasons for feeling old:

1) I had a look online to see what they're offering at Shakespeare's Globe this summer. They're giving us the Henry IV plays and Henry V. It was not a total surprise to learn that the King, Prince Hal and Falstaff will be played by women. (So far as I'm aware I am not misgendering them.) So I've decided to give the Globe a miss this year. Now, Maxine Peake was great as Hamlet, Polonius was played as Polonia in the same production, and the gravediggers were women and were very funny. Fabian in Twelfth Night has been Fabia, the RSC has given us a female Cymbeline and a female Duke in Othello and the Globe an all-male Twelfth Night. But an important theme of the Henry IV plays is the relationship between fathers and sons, you know, blokes. Is not Hotspur's ideal of honour, the desire that an avenged slight be publicly acknowledged, very much a male thing? And does not Falstaff's contempt for that ideal come from a man who has been fed the notion throughout his life as a nobleman, and seen how much hypocrisy lies behind it? I absolutely cannot countenance a female Falstaff. Call me all the dinosaurs you like, these three plays belong in the late 16th century and the preoccupations of the main characters are preoccupations of men of that time, even if by 1598, Hotspur may have struck some of the audience members as somewhat dinosaurial. The male actor who played Ophelia at the Globe last year (to a female Hamlet) said in an interview that 'we're kind of beyond gender now', which seems to me to be a denial of a fact basic to being a member of a sexually reproducing species on this planet. I suppose everything I've just written is contradictory and inconsistent, especially as I enjoyed Peake's Hamlet so much, but in its inconsistency it is at least on a par with the gender / race / identitarian / intersectionality tripe being pushed by Humanities Departments these days.  

2) Just seen on Twitter that Stanford University is offering a course called 'FEMGEN 238: Men's Violence Against Women in Literature: A Critical and Social Analysis', Those who take it will enjoy (?) the opportunity to 'inform and deepen [their] understanding of oppression'. Sounds like a blast! Given that course description -  or maybe prescription would be a better way to characterise it - you can bet that diversity of viewpoints will be zealously discouraged, as this seems to be the aim of a university education in the 21st century. What you do now is take books, sculptures and paintings that people produced in time gone by and pick them over for signs of racism, sexism, misogyny, assorted -phobias, marginalisation of identities and all that. Do not even think of actually enjoying the work of art you are pulling to bits. Most of this poker-faced stuff seems to come from the United States, but I'm seeing signs of it in the place where I work. From an assignment brief I found on the windowsill of a classroom last week:

Media, Gender and Identity

Assignment 2: Research Project Proposal 

1) Which group are you going to study? [seems you can't study individuals] How are they stigmatised or marginalised in the media?
2) Explain the role the media play in characterising/stereotyping the group with examples.
So, start with a conclusion and work backwards. Much simpler than starting with a hypothesis and possibly having to decide it's not warranted. I wonder if you'd be allowed to choose men as your stigmatised demographic? I suspect we are the last demographic you can openly mock and stereotype without releasing the Critical Social Justice furies.

3) They start them early on this. My niece told me yesterday she'd had to sit through a talk given by a sixth former who argued that Friends is racist and transphobic, and she had detected some 'problematic' elements in Disney films as well. I don't know what these were, but there's a killjoy article here that may have been one of her sources. Well, I don't teach this stuff. Maybe it's fascinating and I'm pretty sure it engenders in its students a pleasant feeling of self-righteousness and superiority. But watching films and reading books to sniff out reasons to despise them seems joyless and pointless to me.


4) A young lady photographer has put up posters around the 'uni' to recruit female models whom she will photograph 'honestly, to protest today's airbrushing culture'. Has she only just noticed that artists and photographers have been improving on nature for rather a long time? Nobody depicted on an Ancient Egyptian wall has acne or a club foot and almost every human body in Ancient Greek or Roman art is idealised. Now, this young lady can of course photograph whom she wants in whatever way she pleases, but why such drab resentfulness of physical beauty? It's magnificent, it's transient, hence poignant, 'youth's a stuff will not endure', and all that. I'm a gay man and like most gay men, I'm all for it. Here you go. O come, let us adore him.


To cheer us up (?) here's the oldest known melody in Europe. Don't kvetch, 'cos there isn't time.


Friday, 7 December 2018

Campery and Condoms in the Foreign Language Classroom




I'm off sick today. Back, legs, feet, everything south of my waist aches like fuck. Not complaining. I can go to bed when I please, get up when I please, have a doze in the afternoon if I feel like it. I'll be going stir-crazy by Sunday but hope to feel more like getting up at 5.00 and dragging my arse to... No, I'm not going to think about that right now. I'm in bed with coffee at 9.30am, a gale is lashing the windows with rain and I don't want to be anywhere else.


I have at the moment one of the nicest groups of students ever. A group of nine Chinese, Thai and Portuguese graduates grew to twenty earlier this month, with the addition of a few new Chinese and Thais and one each from Saudi, Kuwait and India. It was lovely to see how the new arrivals were welcomed and fitted in so quickly. They make life so easy! You simply set an activity in motion and they run with it. It's more like switching on the telly than managing a classroom. The other day I had to do a reading text from the ineffably tedious IELTS test. It was about moribund languages and how these might be salvaged. As a starter, I proposed that each nationality should teach everyone else in their group how they say their own country, nationality and language. Whay!!! Brilliant idea!!! I might have proposed we all go out on the razz and to hell with lessons. There followed a good twenty minutes of hilarity as Chinese students tried to get their tongues round Arabic and Thai students attempted Chinese. Thai was disappointingly easy, at lest to me: the same word, thai, does duty for country, nationality and language.

'So, I am from Thai, I am man Thai, I'm speak Thai? Wossthiss?' says K, our most voluble Chinese student, in mock-serious deprecation of what strikes him as want of linguistic sophistication. I wish I had chosen some rather more complex items to see how the speakers of four-tone Mandarin might cope with six-tone Thai.

One of the Thai contingent is a very camp young man called Tom, which is one syllable out of a given name that has quite a few more to spare. Early in the course I trotted out that old chestnut 'Alibis' for the millionth time since I first adapted it for large-ish groups circa 1983. As always with this group, the levels of enthusiasm and hilarity grew as the lesson progressed and Tom whooped 'this lesson is sooooooooooooo exCIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIting!'

I can't remember how the item came up, but I had to ask Tom to explain to the class what underwear meant. He stood on his chair, gyrating his pelvis and stroking his packet like a stripper and purred 'is wha you weah for covah you eggs!' The same action pretty much, accompanied with pelvic thrusts, was necessary when he proposed that the most important human invention ever is condoms. Nobody knew the word. 'Is what you wear when you fuck-keeeeeeeeng, so you don't born!'  
  

After this group I have an hour's break before I go to the (to me) detested Fred West building to teach two or three shy and silent Chinese undergrads in a room that could accommodate a performance of Starlight Express. I wish these few young ladies could see my graduate group and realise they need not adopt this mild and modest mien. In my classes, you can stand on your chair and gyrate your hips, shouting 'fuck-keeeeeeeeng!!!'

Well, usually. On Wednesday, Tom was on about condoms again in relation to a task that required students to recall the items they had bought over the week and classify them. I was joking about whether they were for him an impulse buy or a staple. This didn't go down too well with Ahmed from KSA. He didn't say anything but I understood from his facial expression that he found it strange that I should engage in, rather than silence, Tom's campy banter. Perhaps he was right. I don't know. I left work early because I was feeling like death. Ahmed has probably forgotten about the condoms by now.


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