Recently, I’ve been taking a hiatus from busy places both on and off-line. I’ve been craving quiet and nature. In short, my current fantasy is to hide out in a log cabin in the wilderness, surrounded by trees. No social media, no traffic, no people. Just green and sky and pen and paper. Huge windows in a small room. A wood burner and a decent coffee pot. Time. The sound of the wind through branches. Just being and writing.
But yesterday I found myself all dressed up in a nice frock and heels, a gold evening bag frantically swinging from my shoulder, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I jumped in a cab for the last bit of the journey (because these kind of heels are for looking good in, not for rushing from tube stations in) and arrived at Sway Bar in Holborn to be greeted by Katie and Naomi from Planet London for the Ultimate Planet Community Awards 2014. I’d been nominated for Cabaret Artist of the Year – which I didn’t think I had a chance in hell of winning. But also, the club night I compere: Female Masculinity Appreciation Society (FMAS) was nominated for the Most Creative Club Night of the Year award, and the Wotever DIY Film Festival, which I was involved with and which is run by the wonderful Theresa Heath-Ellul and Tara Brown was nominated for Film Festival of the Year. In addition, friends and all-round brilliant Wotever World people Ingo Andersson, Positive Change and DJ Jo Gattenberg were also nominated for, respectively, Role Model; Volunteer of the Year; and DJ of the Year. I thought it would be nice to hang out with mates, gawp at hot women and maybe bag a free drink.
There was free drink*. It started at 3pm. And although it didn’t stay free for long, it did not stop flowing. I forgot about the log cabin and embraced the glamour. I met some amazing, inspiring people, including author Karen Campbell. We bonded over the completely cast-iron fact that neither of us could possibly win our respective categories (I think you know where this is going…). I met the inimitable Lady Phyll, who runs UK Black Pride. Not only was she hilarious when she presented some awards, she also let me have some of her wine after mine ‘disappeared’. I screamed and whooped when Kerry Positive Change, Jo Gattenberg, Ingo, FMAS and the Wotever DIY Film Fest all received Honourable Mentions. And then, I, er, won an award myself. It was very surreal, because I just didn’t think that could happen. And so I was quite drunk and hadn’t planned anything to say and just thought ‘What?? What the fucking what??’ and did some embarrassing gushing** and then had to have my photo taken against the ‘media wall’ by one very sexy photographer who said something that I misheard as “are you ready for your bikini shot?” (which was a little disconcerting, as I don’t even own a bikini). And then there was dancing …
You know when people say “I NEVER WIN ANYTHING!”? Well, *I* never win anything! Only now I have. And that’s rather nice.
So, thank you everyone who voted for me. It was unexpected and appreciated and meant more than I thought it would. Thank you Ingo, who’s given me lots of opportunities to prance around on stage talking stuff and nonsense. And thanks to Katie and Naomi at Planet London for making us visible, creating such a lovely event and bringing so many talented Lesbian, Bi and Queer women together.
Crawling home in the wee hours, then getting up again for work this morning with feeling in only some of my toes*** was a brutal bump back to earth. Am I still craving that log-cabin in the woods? Yep. Thing is, if you wear gold fishnets in a forest, do they make a sound?****
You can read the full list of winners here and see more pics and video from the night here
*and hot women, obvs.
**not *that* kind, you perv.
***feeling in all ten toes has now returned, but it took a while.
****That doesn’t work, does it. I tried to be clever. It didn’t work. Deal with it. You get the gist.
Oh, I do love standing in the spotlight with a microphone in my fist, body bedecked by sequins and a filthy glint in my eye. Looks like someone else loves it too, coz I’ve only gone and been shortlisted for Cabaret Artist of the year (London), Most creative club night/event of the year (FMAS) category in the Ultimate Planet Community Awards 2014! Woohoo!
Voting is open until 31st October. If you’d like to support me and and all the categories you are interested in, you can vote here: http://bit.ly/UltAwards14 .
Winners will be announced at the Ultimate Planet Awards Ceremony on Sunday 2nd November at Sway Bar in Central London. I may well buy a new frock.
Perhaps I am impatient. Perhaps I am a fool. (Perhaps I just want more to blog about). But I want something to HAPPEN.
She is there again this morning. Looking annoyed until she sees me and her face opens into that huge smile, like she’s genuinely pleased that I’m there. And even though she hasn’t made me a coffee in quite a while, she remembers just how I like it, doesn’t even have to check.
“Hey!” she says
“Hey, how are you?”
There is a queue and she’s handling several orders, she doesn’t have time to chat. When she goes back to steaming the milk, her smile leaves her. And I think, hmmm, what now? Should I do something? Should I take this forward? What happens now?
But, but, here’s the thing(s):
- She might be resolutely straight. I had a conversation with my mother recently: “I don’t know how you can tell”, she said, I never know when a woman is gay”. “Welcome to my world!” I said. “I never know either. It’s a bloody nightmare!”.
- We might have bugger all in common.
- Am I just being a total idiot about this and I should just leave it alone and stop poking it with a stick just because people like reading about it and her smile makes me smile and I get a bit excited every time I go to get a coffee and my heart sinks a little whenever she’s not there?
- How on earth, if I was to actually, er, I dunno…ask her out or something, would I do that? HOW?
- Again, am I being a total idiot etc…?
So. I need your help, Dear Reader. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Over to you.
She sees me before I see her. “Hey!” she says and smiles.
“Hey!” I say and smile back.
I have just emerged from the lift and I look like shit. Of course I do – four hours sleep, messy hair, no make-up and I am wearing an old grey cagoule that my mother bought at a jumble sale for 99p.
She was on ‘holiday’ she says, finishing her dissertation, doing job placements. There is no coffee counter between us. She isn’t in uniform and my lanyard is hidden. Here we are, in a small frustrated crowd of folks waiting for the lift, chatting like normal people, like acquaintances, like two old friends.
She is tired. I am tired. We compare tiredness. Perhaps I should tell her I am so tired, I need a lie down and would she care to join me (here, let’s get you out of those wet clothes…)?
I don’t, of course.
Her lift arrives, others get in, but she keeps chatting. This happens at least three times. As if she’s in no hurry to leave.
***SUBMISSION DEADLINE – 4TH JULY 2014***
As someone who describes the cinema as “my church”, I admit I got a little over-excited when I was asked to be involved with this year’s Wotever DIY Film Festival. It’s by and for queers. It’s independent. It’s do-it-yourself fantastic. And it’s going to take place in some of the most inspirational cinemas in London. Weeee!
So grab anything with a lens and get shooting. Here’s what you need to know:
This is the fourth Wotever Film Festival and the biggest one yet, with films, discussions and more over the August bank holiday in multiple venues, and we want to screen your creations!
We are looking for shorts (3-15mins) and mid-length films (15 – 30 mins). We will consider some feature-length films although please be aware we have very limited space for these. All films need to be DIY or independent films of any genre on a Queer theme. We have a particular interest in films about queer people and queer culture reclaiming space. Other than that, our only criteria is that they must be in keeping with our Wotever ethos and as such will not consider submissions that are racist, trans*/homophobic, religiously intolerant, ableist, sizeist or in any way prejudiced or exclusionary towards a particular group or identity.
We welcome films that push the boundaries of queer thinking and ideology, are thought-provoking and progressive. Saying that, we also appreciate a nice queer-meets-queer love story, slap stick comedy or music video we can dance to.
This a film festival by and for the queer community, and we especially would love to see submissions from people who may feel under-represented in the queer community, such as people from QTIPOC, trans and disabled groups as well as people with refugee status. With this in mind please share this with your friends, lovers and family and let’s get the word out to as many corners of our wonderful queer community as possible.
For submission forms, questions, suggestions or queries contact Theresa and Tara at email@example.com Please do not send your film until you have received a submission form.
She’s back. She. Is. Back.
I get in the longest queue to see her, readying myself by pressing my hair and straightening my posture, practising what to say. Do not, I tell myself, scream “I missed you!!”. Relax. Relax!
The queue gradually gets smaller.
Finally, she sees me and her face breaks into a big smile. And the other girl, the one on the coffee machine asks what I want, but I don’t even have to say because she remembers.
“Hey”, she says.
“Hey” I smile. “Where you been?”
“Oh, night shifts”, she says and makes a face.
“Oh, that’s rough”
“You cut your hair”
“Yep”, I say and turn my head so she can see how short it is at the back. (It was really long until I had it all chopped off at the brilliant Barberette a couple of weeks ago. I bloody love it).
“But why?” she says. My heart sinks a little.
“It was time”.
“Oh. I really love long hair” she says, indicating the length of hers.
I pay and when I take my coffee and say thank you, she’s already onto the next customer, her smile gone.
Reader, you’ve waited long enough. It’s time to update you on what’s been happening. So, here goes…
Nowt, nothing, nada, zilch, bugger all.
That’s right – my Latte Lady has disappeared and I haven’t seen her for over two weeks. Every morning I go down there with my heart beating a little faster in anticipation and then…nothing. Just an overly-hot coffee from a bored barista. I get back to the office, look at my colleague L and say three sad words – She wasn’t there . Then L gives me the sympathy look and says Oh, maybe next time and smiles encouragingly. I try and drink my coffee, but I can’t because it’s too damn hot.
She is not there. She was not there on Friday either. My coffee is too hot and laced with disappointment.
Last week, the following happens:
- She remembers my coffee order before I even say anything. She remembers me.
- I ask if she’s studying as well as working here. She is, for a Masters. We have an entire conversation about non-caffeine-related things.
- The next day, when I see her, she smiles (that smile!) and instead of saying “Hello, what can I get you?” she says “Hey”. Hey. As if we know each other now. As if I’m not just a customer.
- We begin to ask each other how the other is doing, what kind of day we’re having, how we feel about our jobs, the other stuff we’re doing. After each encounter I return to my office grinning.
But today she is not there. And she wasn’t there Friday either.
I shall need more coffee tomorrow, though.
D: Did you watch that thing with Stephen Fry? (referring to Stephen Fry: Out There, BBC2)
Me: No, but I heard about it.
D: Did you know Stephen Fry was gay?
Me: Er, yes.
D: I didn’t know.
Me: I think you may be the only person in the world who didn’t know.
D: How did you know?
Me: It’s common knowledge, it’s not a secret.
D: I couldn’t tell. He doesn’t look gay.
Me: What does gay look like?
D: He’s not effeminate.
Me: Not all gay men are effeminate. Not all gay women are masculine. Not all heterosexual men are masculine, either.
At this point, L wanders over to join in the conversation.
D: L_, did *you* know Stephen Fry was gay?
D: How come everyone knew, but me?
L: Everyone knows.
About two hours later I finally point out to D that he has a small bit of glitter stuck to his face.