Wednesday, 15 September 2010


"In her line of business, Lady Gaga has a hard time being 'over the top', and wearing a dress made from cuts of dead cows is offensive enough to elicit comment, but someone should whisper in her ear that more people are upset by butchery than are impressed by it – and that means a lot of young people will not be buying her records if she keeps it up," - Ingrid Newkirk, PETA

I read that yesterday and laughed my arse off.  It's one of the most spectacular examples of missing the point that I have ever read.  Firstly, Lady Gaga doesn't strike me as someone who has a hard time being "over the top".  She doesn't even strike me as someone who is trying particularly hard to be "over the top", but rather as a very young artist who, by virtue of being actually rather good, has got a lot of exposure and is in the enviable position of being able to express herself however she wants.  Secondly, I don't think the meat dress elicited comment because most people found it offensive - the majority of people I spoke to about it actually thought it was kind of funny.  Between 4 and 10% of people in the developed world consider themselves to be Vegetarian.  The vast majority of the rest of us would probably find little to regard as offensive in that dress.  Thirdly, and on a related note, what is the meaning of the phrase " more people are upset by butchery than impressed by it"?  That's clearly nonsense.  Most people choose not to think about the process of butchering animals, but they are more than happy to consume the results of it as long as it comes packaged and made to look pretty.  Rather like Lady Gaga's dress was.

So, yeah, Ingrid Newkirk, as in most things, you are completely, spectacularly, ignorantly wrong.  And I won't waste any more time on you.  Here's what I thought.

It was a Tour de Force.  It worked on so many levels.  It worked as a brilliant subversion of the idea of the red carpet dress - beautifully tailored like the finest couture pieces, but by far the most arresting and unsettling thing seen at that event.  It worked as a kind of comment on the objectification of women (and, indeed, men) as pieces of meat (it was a clumsy comment on all that, but sometimes clumsy is just what's needed for mass consumption).  It worked as a statement on the whole idea of fashion itself.  Oscar Wilde described fashion as "a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to change it every six months."  Fashion, by its very nature, is fleeting and impermanent, but its been cheapened in recent years by being constantly regurgitated.  Over and over again.  Gagas dress could never appear in any thrift shops - it would probably start stinking badly the day after she wore it.  It's a one off event.  And I genuinely believe that that meaning was intended.

Thing is, you can say what you like about Lady Gaga, but if you just say to me "she's rubbish" without being able to qualify that, then I will dismiss you out of hand.  I was walking home today, thinking about what I was going to say in this blog, and comparing her in my head to all the other prominent young female artists that are around today.  She stacks up well.

I'm not sure where Lady Gaga fits - but I do know that my 8 year old niece likes her easily as much as I do.  And my 65 year old mother likes her as much as my 19 year old nephew does.  There are not many artists these days who can achieve that.  And I also know that I would take her over Florence and The Machine (yawn), Marina and The Diamonds (Aaaaargh), or Paloma Faith (meh) anyday.  And I would much rather listen to her than Delphic, Mumford and Sons, or any other generic indie and/or "folk" band that seem to be chart bothering these days.  She has depth.  There are genuinely interesting concepts in her songs.  There's something surprising in all of them.  But they are also unashamedly fun.  The guardians of all things that are artistically superior tend not to like things that are unashamedly fun.

So there you are - Lady Gaga fits in the panoply of music just fine as far as I'm concerned.  True, she hasn't written a song as wonderful as Bachelorette (yet), but Poker Face, Bad Romance, Speechless, Telephone, The Fame and Paparazzi are all infinitely better songs than, for example, Big Time Sensuality.  I leave you with that comparison to illustrate why this, rather than Ingrid Newkirk's, is my quote of the day:

"If you think Bjork is better than Lady Gaga, you haven't been keeping up!"

Friday, 27 August 2010

You Can Give It To The Birds and Bees

Some people will know what I do for a living.  Basically I write proposals to people's creditors to get their debts sorted out.  Anyway - part of my job is to write a debt history for the person - explaining how they got into financial difficulty.  Sometimes, though, people want to write their own.  Here are a selection of my favourites.  All real.  None of them included in the final proposals!

  • My financial difficulties commenced in 2003 when I decided that my breasts were giving me depression.  I obtained a loan of £5,000 from AA Personal Finance to have them enlarged.  I spent the remainder of this loan on personal items.
  • I am Peter Davies.  The main cause of my financial difficulties can be summed up in two words:  Mrs and Davies.
  • Dear Jim - please remove all the stuff about how I got into financial difficulties by mismanaging my finances and living beyond my means.  I'm not sure that's true.  Basically, I just got into the habit of buying crap.  Does that make sense?
  • In 1998 we re-mortgaged our property for £90,000.  We spent the money on family holidays, Christmases and birthdays.  The new kitchen, bathroom and double glazing we were supposed to use it for just didn't happen.
  • Between 2000 and 2002 my wife an I obtained credit to a total of approximately £10,000 to pay for several courses of IVF treatment.  Our financial situation worsened in 2003 when our son was born.  At this time our household expenditure increased and we found we were no longer able to make payments to our creditors as and when they fell due.  We have relied on further credit since this time to meet the shortfall.
  • Jim - you say that I have received treatment for my drug and gambling addictions.  I haven't.  I still do drugs.  Is it okay to still say that?
  • I have spent money on credit since it was made available to me to compensate for the fact that I hate my life.
  • Jim - I got a loan in 2008 for a car.  In 2009 I decided it was too red, so I crashed it into a bollard.  The insurance didn't cover the loan so I thought if I was going to be in debt anyway I might as well get some more and buy something nice.  I bought a hot tub and a conservatory to put it in.  Then I realised I couldn't pay for them.  That's when I decided to see if I could try to get away with not paying some of it.  That's when I came to you.  Can you make that sound not quite so dodgy, do you think?
So.  Happy Pride weekend, everyone!  Max those credit cards out on being totally faboo! xx

Friday, 20 August 2010

Shameless (Non)Self Promotion

Edit:  Totally my ex-boyfriend now.  But he's still a legend!

I don't normally do this here.  But it occurred to me that I could use this blog to do my bit to show the world what a bloody genius my lovely boyfriend, Mark Evans, is.  He's a painter and a graphic artist.  He keeps on plugging away making beautiful things just for the love of it.  And he deserves more recognition.  And I love him very much.

Anyway - here are a few of my favourites.  If you want to see more, please check out his website.

Friday, 13 August 2010


Here's the thing.  My boyfriend grew up in a place that has a statue in a public place that has the word "Sodomy" on it - and used in a very negative way.  There is still legislation there that ensures that a gay pride parade can never happen.  It's not Russia or anything - it's Jersey.  Maybe a little too close to home for comfort.

I didn't have it much better in rural Lancashire in the 70s and 80s.  I grew up in a village with 20 odd houses and a pub run by an old woman who looked like The Moon off The Mighty Boosh and who monitored what her customers were talking about - if she didn't like it, they were out!  On top of that, I wasn't just the only gay in the village, I was the only kid in the village, too.  I've touched on all that before, but suffice to say it was a pretty isolated and alienating existence.  It's served me okay - at least I know how to shoot, pluck and prepare a pheasant for the oven - but I really wish there had been a bit more queerness.

One thing I am grateful for, though, is that I had parents who were truly radical.  My Dad was involved in smuggling British Leyland buses into Cuba, which I suppose was a pretty big radical gesture.  My Mum responded to some racism she heard from a man who was trying to seduce her by going straightaway and having her hair permed into an Affro - which was just as important a radical gesture.  I didn't even have to come out to them - it just happened that they knew and accepted the fact that I was gay at a time that many of my peers were nowhere near as lucky.  God speed you, Mr and Mrs Hewitt.

That being said, I would have crawled naked across broken glass to have been able to go to something like Manchester Pride.  To have been in a place where there were thousands and thousands of other gay people who wanted to march, to party, to dance, to fuck, in the same way that I would have wanted to do those things was something that could only have really happened in Utopia back then.  I consider myself bloody lucky that I am in possession of tickets that will allow me to do just that in two weeks time.

Yes.  In possession of tickets.  I had to pay for them.

Now, I suppose I could just forego Pride altogether and spend the weekend at the many exciting Queeruption events that are happening.  But here's the other thing - I admire much of what Queeruption is doing.  I admire its radical agenda.  I am grateful that there are people who are willing to challenge the mainstream in that way. I personally know several wonderful, insanely creative people who are involved in it.  What I don't accept is that Queeruption is in any way an alternative Pride - I know that the organisers themselves don't make that claim, but I hear a lot of people talking about it like that.

The fact is, Queeruption is not an alternative Pride because it can never be an alternative to Pride.  Those lonely gay kids growing up in Chorley without a gay bar in sight want to meet other gay kids and dance to Kelis.  They want to drink free Kopperberg cider and horde free condom packs from the LGF, in the hope that they might get a chance to use them.  They don't care that Pride is a corporation making money out of their sexuality - they shop at Tesco every week, which is a far more egregious corporation than Pride will ever  be.

If Pride were all that were on offer I would be terribly depressed.  But it isn't.  Pride exists alongside Queeruption and many other varied and interesting events aimed at gay people.  That fills me with joy and delight because there were zero events aimed at gay people when I was a young un.

So I'll be dipping my toes into Queeruption - and I hope they come out a little bit dirty and a little bit astounded.  But I will be diving into Pride too.  And I know I will be proud to be one of many generations who made it possible for such a big, mainstream event to happen with very little dissent from the heterosexual majority.

My point?  If you don't like it, I'm fine with that.  But remember that there is no real alternative to it.  Do your own dang.  Because your dang is beautiful too!

Monday, 19 July 2010


Whatever, there's some strange hocus pocus going on with the lamppost outside my old school!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

My My, How Can I Resist Ya?

God.  Mamma Mia is such a pile of shite.  Dreadful, egregious nonsense with absolutely nothing to recommend it.  Every time I think about it I get depressed - and not only depressed, but livid too.  Moody and aggressive.  Not a good combination for Jimmy Catsup, let me tell you.

I'm not, of course, talking about one of the greatest pop songs ever written - the one with the lovely syncopated piano opening and the wonderful circular melody.  I'm talking about that musical.  And that film - the one with Pierce Brosnan (shudder) in it.  Pierce himself would be reason enough to detest it, but he's not the reason in this case.  It's because ABBA seem, in the popular consciousness, to have become Mamma Mia.  In people's minds they are about hen nights and bottles of Lambrini.  Terrible dance routines and kitschy costumes.  A bit of harmless fun.  But, my god, they are so much more than that.

For too long you weren't allowed to take ABBA seriously in any way, shape or form.  For most of the 80s they epitomised naff - to say you were an ABBA fan was pretty much the same thing as admitting that you were actually Pat Sharpe.  And then things changed.  It might have been Erasure or it might have been Muriel's Wedding, but something happened and people started to reassess them.  People started to think they might be quite good after all.  Musicologists started to point out how perfectly crafted their melodies are.  There was even talk about how their lyrics weren't just cheese after all - they had something to say.

No more.  That musical has fucked all that up.  Suddenly ABBA are just a bit of fun again.  And I think that's bloody unfair.

So let me lay my cards on the table right now.  I believe that Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus are the greatest songwriting partnership of all time.  That's right - I believe they are better than Lennon and McCartney, than Morrissey and Marr (obvs), than George and Ira Gerschwin, than Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht (just) and than Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

Now, the thing is, it's true that I have got nothing to lose because I don't care.  I'm nearly 40 years old and I'm not bothered if anyone thinks I'm cool or not.  And I'm also well aware that that also means I am probably preaching to the converted in the sense that the only people who will take any of this seriously are the people who know I am right.  

It's nice to be validated, though, so I did a bit of internet research to see if there was any consensus about this.  There is.  Deborah Harry said, for instance, that "Blondie would never have known a pop sensibility if we hadn't heard ABBA."  The Long Blondes cite them as a major influence (and, let's face it, even if they hadn't, the Blondie connection would have been enough to convince me of that).  Madonna, of course, has their attitude and ear for melody written all over her early and early-ish songs - Open Your Heart is basically an ABBA song with someone else singing it.  Stock Aitken and Waterman openly admit that they learnt half of what they knew about songwriting from listening to ABBA songs (and the other half listening to Motown and Northern Soul) - no surprise there, but it's worth remembering that SAW were the biggest hitmakers throughout the entire period when ABBA were considered the epitome of naff.  Even Rufus Wainwright is one record as saying The Winner Takes It All  is one of the best songs ever written.

But, really, who cares?  All I know is that Super Trooper made me very happy indeed when I was 9 years old.  It made me dance and sing along.  And now that I am 39 years old it has lost none of its power and perhaps has even gained some.  Those lyrics are beautiful ("So I'll be there when you arrive / The sight of you will prove to me I'm still alive" - anyone who has ever missed anyone will know that that is such a perfectly succinct expression of it) and that too fast electro bassline really shouldn't work, but it does.  Then there's Fernando - basically a folk song, but also the only pop record that I ever remember my Mother's Mother expressing a love for.  And that opening piano glissando on Dancing Queen (a song, incidentally, that is quite open about the fact that it's okay to go clubbing and get off your face when you're only 17).  And those lyrics to The Day Before You Came - the only decent and proper song about Existentialism in the whole pop music canon.

I could go on and on (and on, keep on rockin' baby) - but I won't.  The purpose of this is not to convince anyone who doesn't already love ABBA that they should feel any differently.  But it is a call to arms to the people who know how spectacular they are.  Let's reclaim them - let's take some of the greatest songs that were ever written and do everything we can to disassociate them in people's minds from that terrible musical and even more terrible film.  These songs deserve to be heard for what they are - perfectly crafted pop songs of a calibre that has very rarely been bettered since.  That is all.

As a postscript, I won't tell the story of the part that ABBA played in my best friend's conception, because that would embarrass him.  But do ask me about it if you see me.  It's a tremendous story.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Depeche Toi, Suckers!

Edgy (n):  nervous, apprehensive; creatively challenging; cutting edge; leading edge; on the edge between acceptable and offensive; pushing the boundaries of good taste; dodgy.

Edgy.  It’s such a horrible word.  Applied to a person it usually means that they’re rude or irresponsible or both (no thanks!)   Applied to anything else it usually means “If you don’t like this it’s because you don’t understand it – and I can’t explain it to you!”  And, yet, it’s increasingly being used as a word to describe the best in our society and our culture.  I call foul.  J’Accuse, if you will!

I’ll start by describing a friend of mine called Neil.  There’s absolutely nothing edgy about Neil at all.  He loves football, music, his missus and his kids.  And yet he is one of the funniest, most intelligent, most creative individuals that I know.  I have stood at gigs that his band did and alternately laughed at the humour and marvelled at the skill.  And I wasn’t the only one.  In fact, the people in Cramps T-shirts, standing po-faced at the back were in the minority.  I felt kind of sorry for them, really, because we were all having such fun!  (For anyone who scoffs at the idea that fun is the primary concern here, I would like to quote the greatest living American writer, John Irving – “Life is serious, but art is fun!” and “Keep passing the open windows!”)

That’s not to say I don’t like a challenge, because I do.  There are so many things that amaze and delight me with their uncompromising creativity.  Some examples?  Oh, go on then!  Sylvia Plath’s masterpiece, “Daddy”, in which she describes her father as being like a shoe that she has lived in “like a foot for thirty years, poor and white, barely daring to breathe or achoo” and then, by the end of it, you don’t know whether she is talking about her father or some other man.  Stunning.  Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse 5” which totally rewrote the rules about what the narrative of a novel should look like and, at the same time, STILL managed to be the most chilling indictment of mankind’s evil in war ever put down on paper.  Joanna Newsom’s “Peach, Plum, Pear”, with that ratchety voice and  the harpsichord being almost strummed like a guitar and God knows how many time signatures going on at the same time.  Anish Kapoor’s 2009 Royal Academy Exhibition, with that thing that looked like a giant red lipstick violating the whole space and leaving it’s red spaff all over the R.A.  These are all wonderful things.  And, in their time, they were all brand new, untried, untested and unswervingly avant garde.

And they weren’t brain farts.

It amazes me today that so many people think it is okay to cannibalise what other people have done before them.  Not reinvent those things – but literally just appropriate them. They wear Ramones T-Shirts and sneer at all the people who wore them last time and have no desire to wear them anymore.  They mix rock with electronica and pretend they are doing something really brand new - never mind that Van Halen did it nearly 30 years ago (and it didn't work any better that time round).  They work the "drunk punk" act (and apart from the drunk bit, it *is* an act) in just the same way that I did when I was 22.  I’ve had a 21 year old come up to me and tell me I should not be listening to Lady Gaga – and I wouldn't do if I had  ever listened to early Siouxsie and The Banshees?  Or Brix Smith era The Fall?  I couldn’t reply to that.  The words stuck in my throat and wouldn’t come out – but here they are: 

“Yes.  I have.  Many times.  Many times before you were ever born.  And I am delighted that you now love that music – but please don’t try to offer it to me as though you were one of the Three Wise Men bearing gifts.  And, as you may one day realise, Lady Gaga is part of the legacy of Siouxsie and Brix… and Deborah… and Annie… and Madonna… and, yes, even Britney, whether you like it or not!”

Anyway, that’s maybe (certainly) youthful folly.  And what does it all matter in the end?  Not a jot, actually.  But what does matter is when this desire to be seen as uncompromising spills over into real life.  Then it gets dangerous.

There’s too much attitude around these days.  People even talk about “having attitude” as being a good thing.  It probably is a good thing if you’re Billy Idol, but if you’re a shop assistant or call centre worker living in Northern England, then it’s a pretty bloody unattractive characteristic.  If you sneer at people, call people out for all their faults or insecurities, lamely insult them for laughs, refuse to compromise to make everyone’s lives easier, that doesn’t make you edgy – it makes you a cunt. 

Similarly, it’s possible to love and defend your friends without having to deny the fact that they, like everyone else, have fallibilities and make mistakes.  You can be part of a cohesive group without behaving like a shoal of anchovies, with one direction and one common purpose.  What the hell is edgy about that?

I know gay people who actually relentlessly bully other gay people for being too gay.  Or for shopping for clothes at ASDA.  That absolutely beggars belief in my opinion (and all of this, like every other entry on this blog is just my opinion, after all).  They’d deny that they’re bullies – but they are.  I’ve seen it in action.  I’ve stood back and watched while a well known alternagay on the Manchester Scene mercilessly reduced another gay man to tears.  And it was over a shirt.  And when, sometime later, that gay man retaliates, he will be reduced to tears again by that alternagay’s snapping shoal of friends, swimming like anchovies in his direction.  Or should that be piranhas?

I want everyone to get on.  Equally I won’t hold back from exposing hypocrisy and cruelty when I see it.  I want to wear the clothes that I think are pretty.  Or flattering.  I promise not to criticise your clothes if you don’t criticise mine.  And by the same token, you can enjoy all the cultural delights you like without any interference from me, as long as you leave me to enjoy Plath and Vonnegut and Newsom and Kapoor in peace.

And (although, thankfully, this last sentence is barely needed), whatever you do, if you value our friendship, don’t call me edgy.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Burning Questions

The meaning of life is obviously NOT one of the things that are bugging people's heads in the 21st Century...

Ten Things

There's a lot of stuff I want to talk about at the moment.  So much, in fact, that it was paralysing me, stopping me from writing anything at all.  I would get so far into a paragraph about one thing and then I would think I should probably be writing about something else.  So, anyway, I decided I needed to write a bit about all of them and then I can move on to something more interesting instead.  Ten things then.  It's like a list.  A very rambling one.  (Get on with it Jim!)

1.  The series finale of Doctor Who starts next week, which means this series is, by definition, almost over and I haven't mentioned it once.  It's been spectacular - so complex and emotional and rich.  I love Russell T Davies, but his era suffered a bit by occasionally lapsing into slapstick.  Moffatt hasn't done that at all.  And Matt Smith is just stunning - I am completely sold on him as The Doctor in a way that I never was with David Tennant.  Favourite episode so far?  Definitely Cold Blood - it was spectacular and the bit when Rory was killed and then erased from history genuinely shocked me, even though I was kind of expecting it.  The Lodger has been the weakest episode so far but I understand that something lighthearted was needed before what is inevitably going to be a very harrowing finale indeed.  Anyway - I'll write more about this when the series is finally over.

2.  I should probably stop caring so much about what people think of me.  The only people I have clashed with have been people who were behaving like assholes.  Everyone who matters seems to think I am pretty ace.

3.  I'm going through a phase where I am finding city living really claustrophobic.  I think it's because I can't afford to get away from here at the moment.  And then I was insanely jealous that Mark got to go to Jersey and get sunburnt on the beach.  It IS only a phase though.  I'll be back to loving being here in no time at all.

4.  This government of the ConDemmed that we have been landed with are outrageous and wrong.  They are messing with the constitution in a way that they have no mandate to do.  Fixed Term Parliaments are a good thing, but a vote of no confidence should require 50% of MPs plus 1 to bring the government down and force an election.  They are proposing to change that to 56%, which seems a really arbitrary figure until you realise that it's been set at that level because all the other parties put together wouldn't be able to reach it.  And what is all this shit about asking the public to decided what the government should be doing to save money??  That's what we pay THEM for, isn't it?

5.  I'm liking my music increasingly complex these days.  Most indie music irritates the hell out of me because it seems so banal.  And, yet, at the same time, I LOVE Gaga.   But maybe that's my queerness and very little else.  Anyway - it's a Debussy chord sequence that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end now.

6.  I would happily eat nothing but sushi nowadays.  This is strange for someone who adores French food as much as I do.  Having said that, I would sell my own mother for a bowl of moules at The Boathouse in St Aubins.

7.  I won't be watching any Big Brother, even though it's the last one.  I watched the housemates going in and there was no-one fit, funny or in any other way engaging.  I will write more, instead.  Tonight I will watch Who Do You Think You Are?, which is on at the same time.  But don't get me wrong - I wouldn't dream of dissing anyone else for watching it - I have enjoyed it myself in the past.  But I was in my twenties when it started and I'm now nearly 40, which is a real sign that it's been going on too long already.

8.  Speaking of which, I really can't decide how to celebrate my 40th birthday.  I would like to get a gang of friends together and go to somewhere like Center Parcs for the weekend - I have never been and I feel like I should.  I doubt that will happen, though - it's so hard organising people for something like that.  Other ideas include having a hen party up Canal Street, or just hiring somewhere and having a really big bash, with the only demand being that people dress as fabulously as they can muster.  Anyway - I have nine months to come up with something and that's long enough, I think.

9.  I need to be more healthy, lose some more weight, not drink so much.  But this month has been a really shit month and I think I was bound to go a bit silly and not look after myself.  I'll do something about that starting now.

10.  There are always ten aren't there?  Or are there?

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Bitches Categorised

Not really a lot to say this morning. But I just wanted to share with you this video by the effortlessly beautiful Colby Keller, in which he reads out a list of types of bitches. I find it strangely meditative and it's helped me combat this hangover.

A full list of the bitches can be found here.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Dear Jem

This is in response to a conversation I had with a friend of mine recently about what I would say if I could write a letter to the 18 year old me. I thought I would just try it.

Dear Jem

First things first. No-one knows better than me how confused you are generally about your life. You're sitting on a boat back from Guernsey to England and wondering why everything around you that gives you stability is falling apart. The fact is - and I won't sugar this pill because there's no point - Dad is going to leave Mum and he's going to do it within a week. There will be tears and there will be heartache. Home will not be a nice place to be. You'll wish you'd stayed in Guernsey away from it all, as you sit in your room and listen to The Fall and The Cure too loud, just to drown all the madness out. But it won't last forever and, every day, you will be one step closer to coming to terms with it. I promise.

Most of this is spoilers, of course, but I'm going to try to avoid telling you anything that will make you do things differently. Everything you do over the next 21 years leads you to the place that I am now. And that's a good place. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else, so I have a vested interest in you doing all the things that fate has got lined up for you.

So let's answer the biggie. You are gay. It will take you a long time to come to terms with that fact once and for all - probably a bit too long. But I can't blame you for that. All things considered, in 2010 being gay is a pretty fantastic thing to be (more of that later), but I know that in 1989 it's anything but. You feel like you can't really tell anyone close to you about it and you know that you can't make it known to the wider world, because people are generally pretty vicious towards gay people still. I promise you that that's going to change forever over the next ten years. But here's something really fabulous (another spoiler, I'm afraid, but I think it's something you could do with hearing right now): in about four weeks time you are going to fall head over heels in love with someone wonderful. Someone wonderful who's a boy. I won't take all the wonder and excitement out of it by telling you who and when, but here's a snapshot. You will lie in his bed one night, it will be raining like the apocalypse outside, and he will read Adrian Henri poems to you while you stroke his thigh. You'll drink cheap wine and smoke spliffs and the you will kiss and, when you stop, you will realise that it's dawn and that that night felt 10 seconds long. Enjoy it while it lasts and don't be too sad when it ends.

There'll be some confusing times after that. You'll date a girl you've known for years because you don't want to lose her as a friend. It's okay, though - when you decide you have to be true to your real feelings and end it with her, you will deal with that trauma together. That will cement things - you and her will be friends for life. No-one in the world will have quite the same bond with you as she does and I doubt anyone ever will. A couple of months ago I went to visit her and her lovely, healthy, happy son. Remember that outcome.

The places you will go to and the things you will see. Wild Boars in your brother's back garden in France (yes, that's right, in France). New York City - you will actually walk around New York City and see some really famous people in the flesh who you will fall instantly in love with. Hamburg - you'll drink Warsteiner at bars in Hamburg and stare lovingly into the bright blue eyes of the American boy who will never want you the way you want him. Try not to worry about that when you realise it - a matter of weeks later something really quite wonderful will happen. Jersey - you will live in Jersey. I know that right now, on your way back from a summer in Guernsey, you're probably thinking "So what?" Well let me tell you this: you'll live on a house on the beach there. You've ALWAYS wanted that, right? You're going to get it - you're going to be able to step out of your front door and drink your morning coffee with your feet dangling in the sea. It won't last forever, but you will have done it. You'll write speeches for politicians that actually get shown on the news (never saw that coming, right?) You *will* own an accordion. You'll carry on buying everything They Might Be Giants release (and that's ongoing, you'll be glad to know) and you won't care what other people think of that.

There's going to be difficulties. Of course there are. You will have you heart broken several times, but I promise you it won't matter in the end.

I know you can't get along with technology right now. That's understandable - technology in 1989 is pretty crap. But that's all going to change. I can't tell you how (that's one spoiler too many) but technology is about to explode in a very big way and it's going to make sure that you never ever feel like the only gay in the village again.

A bit about me. I live in Manchester. I have many wonderful friends of all shapes, sizes, genders and colours who are there for me and who enrich my life more than I can thank them for. I have a wonderful boyfriend who I think I'm probably going to be with forever. I have a job I enjoy (not love, but who needs to love their job?) and a house full of art and music and poetry. I have pink china and rose petal tea. I love my life and it really is down to you to make sure I still get it. Don't let me down, buster.

Most importantly, I know you think you don't love yourself very much right now, but that will change. I love you. So it must.

Be brave