This week

Sorry that I haven’t posted much this week. In about a year of reading various LiveJournals, I’ve discovered that such hiatuses can last months for some. Others can hardly pry the keys away from their fingers for a moment in order to pee or whatever else they do. This is, of course, fine. However, I’ve had a nagging feeling that livejournal is upset that I haven’t posted. Anthropomorphising the blog server is a bad thing. I shall stop immediately.

One of the reasons I haven’t been posting is, of course, the US election. I voted (absentee) for Kerry in California. When I told my sister-in-law that I was depressed about the election she said, pragmatically, “Relax: it shouldn’t affect you very much.” Well, I thought about that for a while, and came up with some ways in which it might actually affect me:

1) Blair may coast on John Howard’s and Bush’s victories and gain a third term with a large majority. This will affect my life in various ways, some good, most bad. The man has been proven economical with the truth from his own mouth (WMDs? Of course they didn’t have WMDs! You mean I said they did? Well, if they’d had them, they would have used them on us, so we were morally justified in invading.) and the Opposition is incapable of opposing. The only way that Parliamentary government (as opposed to the US variety) can survive is to have a credible opposition. If no one believe the Opposition can form a government, they won’t vote for them and the government will continue on and on. Viz: Margaret Thatcher. When we took this picture, the Thatcher orchids looked a bit unattractive, drab, old, and sickly. How appropriate.

2) I’ve found that the immigration people in the US are more and more unfriendly to me when I return for my (infrequent) visits. “What is your immigration status in the UK?” “What do you do?” “How long have you lived in the UK?” “Did you know that people who renounce their US citizenship for tax reasons are barred from returning to the US?” (This last one when I was returning to New York from a visit to Toronto, asked in Toronto Airport.) Things are not going to get any easier in the next four years.

3) Good friends and acquaintances are now in despair, hopes shattered, looking forward to 4 years of radical right-wing Republicanism ruining their relationships. (Thanks, Spiro.)

Anyway, my condolences to all those who voted otherwise last week, and my hope is that in four years the country won’t be utterly ruined. I remember Richard Milhaus Nixon and his stunning victory in 1972. We were all certain that the light at the end of the tunnel was an oncoming train. But, in 1974, Watergate and some courageous elected representatives put paid to his ambitions to crown his Presidency with glory. Instead he slunk off to New Jersey because no condominium or coop in New York would have him.

Another reason is that on Wednesday, running for and catching a 188 bus, I managed to pinch the skin on the end of my left index finger between my thumbnail and middle fingernail (don’t ask me how this happened: I haven’t been able to duplicate it.) It bled like hell as the bus sped around the Elephant and Castle roundabout and, as everyone who’s had a sore at the end of their finger will be well aware, made typing painful, especially the shotgun type of typing I’m apt to do. I only typed what was necessary. It still is a bit sore but I can type without feeling like someone is sticking a pin into the end of my index finger.

My birthday’s on Monday. I’m a bit annoyed about this, but I realise that being 52 is a lot better than not being at all, so I’ll just grin and bear it. I’m treating myself to a deep-tissue massage in return for some computer hardware stuff. Then HWMBO and I will go to the local Thai restaurant for dinner, although he has complained about the cost. I just smile and say, “Don’t worry about it!” and that seems to work.

The other happening during the last week was the vigil in Soho for Sinders, birth name David Morley, who was beaten to death by teenagers on the South Bank as he was sitting talking to a friend early in the morning. We didn’t know him (although from the reminiscences by two people who did know him he must have been someone worth knowing as he was merry and impish), but the fact that we live close to the South Bank (for the London-impaired, the South Bank is the stretch of the south bank of the Thames river stretching roughly from the Oxo Tower to Westminster Bridge, taking in Waterloo Bridge, Queen Elizabeth and Royal Festival Halls, the Heyward Gallery, the National Theatre, the National Film Theatre, Hungerford Bridges, and the London Eye) and often take strolls there when the weather is nice made it important to us that we be at the vigil.

During the afternoon I constructed sturdy candles in plastic pint glasses for us (recipe: one large church candle, cut into three pieces. Put two of the pieces in the pint glasses and then melt the third and pour the melted wax into the glasses to support the candles). We then set out for St. Anne’s Church in Soho.

The church itself is late 1700’s or early 1800’s, I think. The back garden (not a churchyard–no burials) was open until recently. A fence was constructed as street people and drug addicts were making the garden their home. It is fearsome: it looks like something to keep the inmates of Cell Block H in. It’s concavely curved (to keep people from climbing up it, I presume) and lit by garish-coloured lights. Anyway, it wasn’t open until 6 so we wandered to Old Compton Street and looked at the crowds outside the Admiral Duncan pub who were also waiting for the garden to open. Various people of all types were carrying flowers (our candles were an exception, it seems) and reminiscing about Sinders. he had been the bar manager of the Admiral Duncan when the nailbomb blew up the pub several years ago. He suffered burns, but three people died from the effects of the blast. The perpetrator was caught and sentenced to life, but Sinders never recovered his composure. A group of Asian teenagers brought a condolence card to the pub after it had reopened (a bomb also went off on Brick Lane, the centre of the Bangladeshi and Pakistani community in London) and Sinders burst into tears, he was so touched. He had flashbacks about the blast, and found it so difficult to carry on at the Admiral Duncan that he was moved to be manager of another pub owned by the same brewery.

Anyway, at the advertised time (6 pm, for a 6:30 start) we went back to the garden and, surprise, surprise! Nothing was ready. At about 6:20 or so the gates were opened and we trooped in. We were almost in the front row. However, 6:30 came and went, various people were making announcements to the effect of “It’ll only be a few moments now”, but it didn’t start until about 6:50. As it ended up we were standing for about an hour. The functionaries who were announcing also told people to turn their mobile phones off. Of course, many did not and there was merry hell breaking loose for a while as phones rang and announcements to turn them off followed. The place was packed. The streets outside were packed and loudspeakers had to be used so that everyone could hear what was going on. The Vicar (a woman) gave a good non-denominational talk about the meaning of the service, the Mayor’s representative spoke, and the London Gay Men’s Chorus sang. A piper piped Sinders out to “A Gaelic Air”. A busker who was a friend of Sinders’ sang something he himself had whipped up. We dutifully sang along. Finally, we dispersed. HWMBO and I laid our candles in the garden, still burning. Most everyone else had taken candles from the management: they were small votive lights that had not survived the delay in starting the service.

We thousands gathered together to celebrate the life of someone only a fraction of us knew. However, almost any of us could have been sitting on that bench that night, talking with a friend. Until the chain of homophobia is utterly broken and children learn acceptance and respect for those different from them, we will gather again and again for these services. But, having been a child and the butt of bullying from other children, I know firsthand how evil, rotten, and nasty some children can be in dealing with other children who are different. I hold out little hope that children can learn to accept rather than to exclude. Their elders are giving a pretty good example of the latter nowadays.

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