I wrote a guest post for Inclusive Church: you can read it here.
I did a guest post at Neutrois Nonsense, about being out at work as a trans, genderqueer person, as part of their Featured Voices series.
With many apologies to A.A. Milne
The King asked
The Queen, and
The Queen asked
‘Could we have some honey for
The Royal morning brew?’
The Queen asked
I’ll go and tell the bees
Before they start to snooze.’
And went and told
‘Don’t forget the honey for
The Royal cup of tea.’
‘You’d better tell
That many people nowadays
And went to
She curtsied to the Queen, and
She turned a rosy hue:
For taking of
But tea without is tasty if
The Queen said
And went to
‘Talking of the honey for
The Royal cup of tea,
Would you like to try a little
Just to see?’
The King said,
And then they said,
‘Oh, deary me!’
The King sobbed, ‘Oh, deary me!’
And sank to their knees.
‘Could call me
A fussy Fred;
I only want
A little bit
In my tea!’
The Queen said,
And went to
Said, ‘There, there!’
And went to the bees.
The bees said,
We didn’t really
Here’s wax for their candlesticks,
And honey for their tea.’
The Queen took
And brought it to
The King said,
And bounced up in glee.
‘Nobody,’ they said,
As they kissed the Queen
‘Nobody,’ they said,
As they slid down
Could call me
A fussy Fred —
I do like a little bit of honey in my tea!’
A selection of my extended family went today to The Theatre Royal, Stratford East to see their panto production of Beauty and the Beast. It was really, really good.
It had all the essential panto elements: the dame was on the edge of too lewd (but just on the right edge, and very engaged with the kids in the audience as well as the grownups); there was a principal boy (who wasn’t actually the principal, but that’s fine) (ooh, and she’s doing a PhD in performance and disability!); the baddies were great; the singalong and shoutout bits were great. There was even (only essential if you’re from exactly where I’m from) someone dangling in the air.
The script and adlibbing were interesting, funny, accessible and not patronising. The making it work for a modern context (and still be fairytale) was done really, really well.
(Unusually for a pantomime) the baddies had understandable motivations and that allowed happy endings all round, not just for the goodies.
There was a plot strand lifted straight from Buffy, but that’s fine because it was so well done.
What I loved about it, though (and this only worked because the rest was done so well) was that it was totally upfront pro-queer, pro-immigration, anti-racist, anti-transphobia. I didn’t have to switch off any of my sensitivities – it was with me all the way. Thank you, Theatre Royal Stratford East and all who sail in you.
Last weekend was Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, held at Friends House in London from Friday afternoon (24/5) to Monday afternoon (27/5).
During a Yearly Meeting “we aim to create a truly gathered community who can go to the heart of who we are and what the world needs of us”. Our discernment and time together should be
“an inspiring event which takes us into and out beyond ourselves, and also carries us back, strengthened and grounded, to our local meetings and daily lives”.
[from minutes of Yearly Meeting Gathering 2009 Planning Committee]
Some of the business of the meeting is to make administrative and procedural decisions, but lots of it is “seeing one another’s faces” – meeting together as a national community.
This year’s meeting didn’t make any big, outward-facing decisions. It felt like an opportunity to pause; to spend quality time together; to concentrate on who we are together and how our relationships work as an organisation and as a community; to consolidate our Quakerness. It felt like an opportunity for me to do some of that as an individual too.
I made some new friends and spent time with old friends, without some of the intense kaboom friendships that sometimes happen at these things – interactions at this BYM felt gentle and comfortable. A couple of the new friends introduced themselves to me because I looked like familiar sort of people. Some of my friends from my old meeting in Sheffield introduced me to people I’d met but not got to know from my new meeting in Wanstead; I chatted a bit more with some other Wanstead people and feel like it’s time to let go of some of my reservations (and shyness and homesickness) and get to know people there better.
Yearly Meeting prompted me to think about some aspects of the way my life’s been arranged that have been sitting uncomfortably with me (mostly relating to how I go about activism; a bit about social stuff and scheduling) and to make some adjustments so things fit better with what I think is right and with what I think is sustainable. (Nothing big! Just small-scale life-changing.)
This year’s Swarthmore Lecture (on the Saturday evening of Yearly Meeting) was one person talking about their own life and personal experience – rather than big philosophy or politics. I appreciated that, this year, and it prompted me to read the Testimonies published for this Yearly Meeting (short Quaker biographies of people who’ve died recently). I’ve enjoyed hearing and reading about a huge variety of ways of living as a Quaker, especially when it’s clear that all these people are/were fallible humans. I like fallible humans.
On Sunday evening my friend Mark led a singing session and I enjoyed being part of it. [Here are Mark’s own thoughts from Yearly Meeting.]
I’m still feeling quiet and gently introspective, and starting to get to grips with the next things on my to-do list (and looking forward to summer holidays).
David and I saw Cabaret at the Savoy Theatre last night – the second half of our sort-of-exchange (I’d seen I Am A Camera before but not Cabaret; he’d seen Cabaret but not I Am A Camera; they are based on the same set of stories). I didn’t know, mostly, what the differences were before yesterday evening.
I was a bit surprised to find that the musical engaged me more than the play; I was really hooked in by the central love story of two older characters, one of whom doesn’t exist in the play and the other is a more minor and more comic character.
In IAAC Chris (Cliff in Cabaret) is essentially asexual; in Cabaret he’s bi, and/so the audience’s avatar is embroiled in the inter-war decadence rather than being a passive observer, which I think enhances all the emotional responses to the changes of atmosphere at the end of the first act and through the second.
The whole thing’s more explicit and enlarged, too: the sexuality and the Big Bad of Naziism, which is absolutely in your face in Cabaret, whereas in IIAC it’s going on outside, more removed and less developed because IIAC is more tightly tied to the actual timeline of Christopher Isherwood’s presence in Berlin.
It’s interesting that Chris/Cliff is made American in Cabaret – maybe to be more similar to its first audiences? (I wonder whether this is why he’s bi rather than gay, too.) In some ways it seemed to be played to make him seem more legitimately naive – more of an outsider to Europe.
My subjective experience: I found IIAC very interesting and thought-provoking, whereas Cabaret had me weeping buckets.
Performance-wise, Will Young was great as the MC, but I think there was an issue with his microphone as he was much less audible than the others.
Michelle Ryan worked much better than I expected as Sally Bowles – she was excellent. She worked the gradual disintegration of the shiny very well.
Matt Rawle was a great Chris Cliff – he reminded me a bit of John Barrowman in the extravagance of his performance, and that fitted well in the production.
The star, for me, was Sîan Phillips, playing the funny and the heartbreaking parts of Fraulein Schneider perfectly and singing much more for believability of the character than for note-perfection.
So yes, it was brilliant, and I would go again (with more hankies next time).
Written in response to Love is Infinite’s post on coming out at work, and to Silicone Valley’s response.
I’m out as polyamorous as well as being out as bi at work (in a medium-sized third-sector organisation), and I was at my last job (in a small, private software firm) too. I’m aware that there’s no legal protection for being polyamorous, but I also know that my colleagues are basically nice people and that they like me, and that they understand or try to understand that polyamory works for me and that both my partners are very important parts of my life.
I don’t talk about polyamory all the time, any more than I talk about bi activism all the time, or being a Quaker or being vegetarian – and I probably haven’t used the word ’polyamory’ more than once or twice – I just talk about my life in the way my colleagues talk about theirs, and if they ask me questions about how any of it works I answer them honestly.
I know I’m lucky that I’ve found a job where there’s community spirit and where my colleagues care about each other’s wellbeing. In that situation, I believe that being open about what and who is important in my life gives me an easier ride and more protection than trying to keep my relationships secret.
Frankly, if I found myself in a job where I couldn’t be myself and where the 9-5 was just paying for the ’real life’ in the evenings and at weekends, I’d be looking very hard for another job. I want my real life to be happening all the time.