lundi 28 septembre 2009

Dancing on the Céline

After a moment of craziness that I won't go into (but which left me with five minutes to pack...) the limousine arrived.

We bundled our sorry asses into the Merc and headed to le Bourget. Halfway there and the Fabulous Parisien's phone rings at exactly the same moment as the driver's does. The driver pulls off the autoroute and back on the other side - we're now heading south, not north.

"There's been a problem with the jet", said le FP. Apparently it was Ghislaine on the phone - sister of La Dion. "Robbie Williams has brought his vist to Paris forward a day and the jet has gone to Stansted to collect him".

"So, we're not going?" I said, stunned at the turn of events.

"No, Chéri, we're going. But we have to get to Orly in the next hour - Céline's people have got us business class tickets on the late flight tonight."

Well, it's no private jet, but hey, I'll cope with business class, right?

A 2 hour 45 minute flight later and we're in another limo heading to the hotel.

Marrakech is dark, warm and smells foreign. The roadside stalls selling grilled snacks are surrounded by people dressed like Obi Wan Kenobi. The world is in motion all around us. En route for the hotel we ask the driver to stop for a few minutes at the Djemaa el Fna - the great square that is the centre of the Marrakchi world.

Snake-charmers, story-tellers, water-sellers and fire-eaters are all around us. We hold hands and walk through the human soup. Every class is represented here - the Dior-clad Eurotrash and the street urchins, the Casablanca urbanites and the blue men from the desert, the rent-boys and the veiled ladies.

It's a long way from Paris. It most definitely isn't Kansas.

Back in the car for ten minutes and we arrive at the hotel. I say hotel, I mean palace.

The large wooden doors open to reveal an amazing, surreal, beautiful palace, straight from the 1001 Nights. A palace with all mod-cons, naturally.

We are taken to our room - a traditional 'caravanserai' style tent in the gardens - complete with our own private terrace and a bathroom to die for. The host lets us into the tent and it's like entering a dream.

The log fire is lit, the champagne is on ice. The room is twice the size of my apartment and is lined in beautiful moroccan silk, with furnishings in chocolate leather and dark wood. Too beautiful.

An hour later and I'm curled up on the immense sofa, in front of the log fire with le FP. We have champagne and from under our fur blanket (I kid ye not) we're watching a movie on the enormous television.

Le FP turns to me.

"I never want to leave," he said. "This is as happy as I've been in ages."

What could I say? How to answer?

I leaned in and kissed him. It was the best answer I could find.

vendredi 25 septembre 2009

Near, far, wherever you are

Salaam alaikum. Greetings from Marrakech.

"Marra-fucking-kech?" I hear you cry. Well, me too. That was my reaction.

It was Wednesday when I got a call from le Fabulous Parisien.

"Can you get friday off work?" he asked.

"Well, I can always work from home the morning....what do you have in mind?"

"A friend wants to give me a weekend away for my birthday - can you come with me?" he said, mysteriously.

"Sure - but why isn't the friend coming with you instead?"

"She's busy. Very busy. I'll make the arrangements and call you back".

And call me back he did.

"The jet will be waiting for us at le Bourget on Thursday evening. A limo is coming to get us at 7pm. Is that ok?" He presented all of this in a very matter of fact way. "We're going to Marrakech, by the way".

"Hold on!" said I. "Whose is the effing jet? Who is this friend?"

"It's Céline's"

"You're taking me to Marrakech in Céline Dion's Jet?" I said, astounded.

"Oh yeah baby," he replied. "But you don't know the half of it..."

mardi 22 septembre 2009

See you later, boy.

Yes, he was a skater boy. Yes, I said "see you later boy". He wasn't good enough for me. Or whatever it is the song lyrics say.

The awkward moment of the weekend really does go to Skater Boy and his arrival chez TBNIL on friday evening with his overnight bag.

See, everybody there knew that it was le Fabulous Parisien who was staying over. Everybody except Skater Boy, it seems. I mean really, I don't know why he didn't work that out for himself. It's not like I hadn't hinted and suggested that that would be the case - several times.

Does a boy need to be clear, honest and open these days or what? Since when was a heavy hint not enough?

Yeah ok, it's my fault. I'm guilty as charged - guilty of not telling him that his invitation was in the capacity of friend only. But I had said to him to bring some of our mutual friends along because "I don't want you to have nobody to talk to". It's not my fault he arrived alone.

Lord help me. I'm now officially ruining peoples' lives. Well, that's how it felt when I saw his little face, clearly unsure of the situation that he had walked into.

Anyway, he soon recovered and threw himself into the spirit of things. He chatted to me, to my other friends. He danced and he had a laugh with the rest of us.

Malheureusement, he was also drinking. And the more he drank, it seemed the hornier he became. The more, erm, demanding of my attention he became.

As he bumped and grinded in front of me, busting his best moves and using me as his pole for a bit of a pole dance, it became obvious that this was his mating dance. I stepped back. He followed. I stepped aside. He followed. I squirmed. He upped his ante.

By now, his arms were flailing, he was doing that bollywood neck thing and he was giving me the old Shakira hip shake. Really, it was intense, embarassing and without an end in sight.

Such was my shame, that there was only one thing for it. I walked away and went to the bathroom.

He followed me. Of course.

I got out of there quickly and went outside. Got me some air.

After ten minutes breathing time, I went back in.

"I've been looking for you" he said, as soon as I hit the area where my friends were.

"Sure. Of course" I said, unforgivingly.

"I just wanted to let you know that I'm heading home. I'll collect my things from your house sometime in the week."

And with that, he was gone. He looked more drunk than upset; yet more upset than happy.

I felt pretty bad about the whole thing. But then I thought about it.

I'd never said "you're not sleeping at mine", but equally I'd never said that he was either. I've always been clear with him that we're not heading for a relationship. And he has a boyfriend already anyway. I'm kind of feeling that a guy who has a boyfriend can't really give me a hard time for not wanting to sleep with him.

But equally, I know that I acted badly and it could all have been prevented.

You live and learn, right?

Well, you'd think that I would, wouldn't you. It seems that I don't.

lundi 21 septembre 2009

Let's paint the town and shut it down

I'm in a taxi heading home at four thirty on Saturday morning, and I'm happy. It's been a funny night. It's been a ridiculous night.

It all started well with drinks chez TBNIL - there were cocktails, canapés and gifts that included a cabbage and a rubber duck (best you don't ask about either, really).

When it came time to leave the house, we headed for the Marais and for the fabulousness that is Gay Paris. We worked our way around a couple of bars - and it was at the second bar that we lost le Fabulous Parisien.

Apparently, he had met up with a couple of old friends and stayed out with them all night. I don't know if this is true or not, but I'm not really too worried - the fact that he showed up the next morning with a dozen croissants, a sheepish look and a determination to keep me in the bedroom kind of told me that there was another story somewhere....

After losing le FP, we headed for a big old dance at the Tango - the ropiest club in Paris which plays the best music. It's actually great fun there - with music ranging from the Gossip to Cyndi Lauper; from Madonna to Dalida and French pop from Yelle to Claude François. We danced and danced. And then we danced some more.

At one point, my Lovely Irish Bookish Friend found his way up to the stage at the front of the dancefloor. Accompanied by his Certain Someone they showed Paris how it's done in Waterford. And boy did they. It was all going swimmingly until Certain Someone realised he'd been shaking his booty with his flies undone. Pure class. Especially when a young French hottie pointed this out...

The Fierce People were also with us - and the American half was very very drunk. God bless him, he was like a sex-crazed chihuahua, humping everyone's legs and generally driving people crazy. Very funny, and good fun - if you like an undersized American gyrating himself up and down your extremities. Personally, I don't.

And Skater Boy was there too. But that's a whole other post. I'll just say 'tears before bedtime' for now. I do like to keep you in suspense.

After the Tango, after we'd danced ourselves damp and silly, we decided that enough wasn't enough.

At three thirty Saturday morning we headed to the Dépôt. The nasty, dirty, yukky, sexy, filthy Dépôt. I've posted about this place and its labyrinthine sex-club basement before. Needless to say, it was a fitting end to a funny night.

It was with our boundaries pushed and our horizons further widened that we left Sodom and Gomorrah behind and headed home.

Leaving the club, none of dared look back at what we'd left behind. After all, let's not forget what happened to Lot's wife.

At that time of day, and with the debauchery that we had just left behind, the likelihood of somebody turning into a pillar of salt seemed only too real...

jeudi 17 septembre 2009

How to make a birthday last two months

So, this weekend is the final party in the TBNIL 40th birthday party season.

The first was the friends and family affair, back in the UK. That's the one that saw me wearing pink rabbit ears and a 'Birthday Princess' badge, dancing at a gay club with my bosses and generally being a very hot and messy hot mess. Hilarious. At the time, it was, anyway.

The second was the family only party, laid on by my lovely Mother. This was at her house and involved the TBNIL UK family sitting round, eating lovely food and telling tales that became more and more ridiculous, disgraceful, hilarious as the wine disappeared.

Both were great fun.

This weekend is the big party with the friends who couldn't make it over to the UK. Friends from Paris, from Holland and from Ireland. Friends for whom a weekend of festivites in Paris seemed like a better offer than an evening in Birmingham. Yes, these are the wise ones, ha ha.

Firstly, I need to sort out the sleeping arrangements. All was going well until I realised that I wouldn't be sleeping alone - yep, le FP is going to be around this weekend too, so he needs adding in to the 'where to sleep' question. Debbie, god bless her, is taking me off at lunchtime to buy a self-inflating double mattress. Greater love hath no assistante, he he.

See how I just casually slipped in that mention of le Fabulous Parisien?

Anyway, we'll be starting tonight with the first arrivals - my Lovely Irish Dutch Friend and his beau - but we'll be trying to avoid having too big a night out because tomorrow, my Lovely Irish Bookish Friend and his Certain Someone arrive and we've promised them that we won't be hungover.

Yeah, right.

As you'd expect, the weekend promises fabulous cocktails and lots of beers. Drinks at the 'local' followed by an almost obligatory visit to the bar where the boys dance in the showers - IBF loves to get his hands on the dancers. Even if it's not strictly allowed. At least he never got thrown out of there...unlike me.

As well as fabulous cocktails, or maybe because of them, I'm sure there'll be plenty of laughs and much blog fodder.

Any of you who are in Paris over the next few days are welcome to join us - just drop me a line for details ;-)

The rest of you? Well, have a great weekend - and be sure to watch out for updates from the birthday weekend mayhem....

mardi 15 septembre 2009

All I want is a room somewhere...

I'm sleepy. Falling asleep at my desk.

I fell asleep on the RER this morning, waking just in time to not miss my stop.

At lunch, I could feel myself heading down into the pizza, face first.

I'm exhausted.

Thing is, I had Florida Boy over for ten days - which meant ten days of running all over Europe, with late nights and early starts. Then, the day he left I ended up with le Fabulous Parisien on an overnight visit.

I left le FP behind and flew to the UK for a weekend of moving house - heavy stuff - late nights with my cousin and breakfast chats with my Mother. Exhausting.

I got back late sunday night - nearly midnight - then was up again for work at 6am monday. Monday evening saw le FP come round - not an early night - and he's back again tonight.

Tomorrow I have a long-standing date with a really lovely guy who's back in town having recently moved to Switzerland. That's gonna be a late one too, I'm sure.

Thursday, My Lovely Irish Dutch Friend arrives with his beau in tow and the party weekend begins.

I'm not sure when I get to sleep, when I get to re-charge my batteries.

I just know that I'm already exhausted and it's going to get worse before it gets better. And I absolutely refuse to have my Final Fortieth Birthday Party Weekend (yes, I know my actual birthday was back in July) ruined by my being too tired to enjoy myself.

What's a boy to do?

I have the feeling that I'll be working from home one day this week....

lundi 14 septembre 2009

One of these things is not like the other one

I flew to the UK on friday evening to spend two days with my Mom, helping her finish off the packing.

She's moving house today and so I went on a last-minute mercy mission to help her go through the 30 years of accumulated junk, mayhem and memories. You can imagine how it went.

As always when clearing a house we found a cache of old photo's.

I looked at a photo of my Dad and his sister and something wasn't right.

"My aunt looks like she's got some black blood in her" I said to my Mom. Really, this girl looks nothing like the rest of the family in the photographs.

"Yeah, she was always dark skinned. And she never did look like your grandfather".

And so, we carried on working our way through the photo's.

"Who's this in the photograph with Nan and Granddad?" I asked. The photograph showed my Nan aged about 21, looking very elegant - beautiful, even. And she was with my Granddad, who was equally dashing. They were with a very handsome gentleman, and someone had written on the picture 'the boozers'.

"That's Mr. Frank. We always heard tales of him as Mr. Frank," said Mom. Seems he was a close family friend when my grandparents were kids, when they had just started dating. And it seems he was a permanent fixture in their lives until my Aunt was born.

Now, looking at the photograph and those that were in the same wallet, two things were crystal clear.

Firstly, Mr. Frank and my Nan were very close friends. There was no questioning the body language in some of those shots.

Secondly, Mr. Frank was a very handsome, very dashing, well-dressed, well-built gentleman of colour.

"Do you think...." I started.

"No" said my Mom. "No. It's not possible. Although. Oh. Oh! Do you think?"

She looked like someone had opened her eyes for the first time.

She stood up and started to giggle. "Oh my. Oh my oh my."

We laughed and laughed.

My Nan had made my Mom's life hell for a long time - nothing was ever good enough for her, and my Mother was certainly not good enough to marry her blessed son. She'd run the family like a power-crazed despot, whose only rule of law was that she was always right. She spun tales about her sisters, about her neighbours and was always there, ready to judge, ready to point out someone else's failings - especially my Mom's.

My Nan had been such a moral crusader, judgemental about the slightest thing, yet it seemed highly possible that her daughter was not her husband's offspring.

It's a shame that there's no-one around on that side of the family anymore. It's a secret that has truly gone to the grave.

If only we could get Jerry to give us a DNA test.

Alas, we're left to draw our own conclusions...and boy are we enjoying that.

vendredi 11 septembre 2009

C'est SO Paris, baby

"I know we said we'd do next wednesday," said le Fabulous Parisien, "but how about tonight? I've been invited to a party. You want to join me?"

"Sure," said I. "That'd be great".

"OK, well I'll call you later to arrange where we'll meet" he said. "Oh, by the way, it's the party for Vogue - you know, the magazine?"

And at that point I started to panic. What's a boy to wear to a party being thrown by Vogue in the fashion capital of the world? Damn. Why did I agree without finding out more?

Later that evening, dressed in a black shirt (open three buttons), black velvet jacket, dark jeans and the yellow sneakers, I found myself on the fabulous Avenue Montaigne in the company of the bold and the beautiful of Paris. I was only slightly uncomfortable. The champagne soon took care of that.

We started at the Diane von Furstenburg party, at her Paris flagship store. The champagne was cold, the DJ's were hot and the queens were screaming. The place was full of people considerably richer and skinnier than both me and my date, but I like to think we pulled it off.

From Diane, we went to the private parties being held at Dolce and Gabbana (fabulous Martini cocktails), at Nina Ricci (champagne), at Dior (champagne), Versace (champagne and nibbly bits) and Ferragamo (champagne).

It was chez Chanel (champagne) where we ended up in the company of true Paris royalty - none other than the fashion god himself, Monsieur (Herr?) Karl Lagerfeld. Looking fabulous in his trademark sunglasses and black and white, hair tied back in true fabulous style, Karl was werqing that joint.

At one point, a classy looking lady approached him.

"Karl darling, can I take your photograph" she asked, with obvious trepidation.

"Madame", he replied in his German-accented French, "You may do exactly what you wish with your 'camera-thing'. I, however, will do absolutely nothing."

It was all I could do not to clap like an idiot.

From Chanel we headed off to the Plaza Athenée for the real party. Guests were ferried from the other parties in a fleet of Vogue logo-encrusted soft-top Mini's. Others arrived in long black cars and short black dresses.

By the end of the evening, the cocktails and fabulousness had started to take their toll. I was tired and needed to get home.

I jumped a cab with le FP and we headed back to the 12th arrondissement - to my hood, to where real people live, back to planet earth.

As we lay there, dropping off to sleep, he turned to me.

"Have you ever had a more 'Paris' evening in your life?" he said.

What could I say. I'd had the kind of evening that the Sex and the City girls would kill for. It had been ridiculous, fabulous and outrageous. I'd air-kissed more people in one evening than I'd done all month (and let's not forget that I'm gay, therefore I air-kiss a LOT). I'd seen the shoes that I'd sell my mother for (at Zadig and Voltaire, curiously enough - a pair of pewter leather ankle boots) and I'd had enough free champagne to refloat the Titanic.

And on top of all that, I'd had great company in the form of le FP*.

How could I not have had a great time?

*I'm seeing him again on Monday, btw, just in case you're interested...

mercredi 9 septembre 2009

Death in the darkroom

As a concept, the darkroom is a very, VERY gay thing. I'm guessing it only exists in a very specialised type of straight club, way removed from the mainstream.

In the gay world, at least over here in sunny Europe, the darkroom is pretty much a bar/club staple.

For the uninitiated, a dark room is pretty much what you'd expect - a room with no lights or windows - thus dark - where you go to get felt up anonymously, by strangers whose faces you can't see. Or it's the place that you take the hot guy you just met in the bar, before you take him home (or instead of).

Anyway, this all makes it sound very seedy, which, of course, it is.

Paris bars do have their fair share of darkrooms, and it has to be said they are usually full of American tourists who are appreciating this 'European' novelty.

When Florida Boy and me were faced with a dark room at a bar in Rome last weekend we decided we'd give it a whirl. Neither of us was looking for 'action' but we figured it'd be kind of fun to go in there can imagine.

Anyway, whilst in there there's a bit of a commotion and I feel something come whizzing past my leg.

There's a massive bang, like someone has dropped a massive bag of potatoes on the floor.

Someone screams and the mobile phones are pulled out so that the screens can shed some light on the situation.

"è Morto!" someone screams.

I look down and there on the floor, face down, arms at his sides, is a silver-haired guy. To all appearances he is, indeed, dead. Very dead.

More screaming (what is it with the screaming boys? Come on lads, let's butch up a bit) and the darkroom empties.

The barman runs into the room with a first aid kit and within a couple of minutes the silver-haired guy is being helped to the toilets. Seems he's not dead.

He has blood all over his face - from where he hit the floor, I'm guessing - and he's visibly shaken.

Me and FB get a couple of drinks and down them fast. We try not to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation and order some more beers.

As we prepare to leave 30 minutes later, I notice a guy stood against the wall of the bar.

"Isn't that him?" I say.

And, true enough, it is the passing out guy, stood with a bloody handkerchief in one hand and clutching his groin 'provocatively' with the other. Obviously he's not going to let a little blackout come between him and a good time.

As we walk home past the colisseum, I can't help but wondering if such things happened in ancient Rome. I'm fairly certain they did.

At least, I hope so.

Those Gladiators had to do something with their evenings, right?

mardi 8 septembre 2009

My friend and me

So, I just got back to Paris. I left Florida Boy in bed at an ungodly hour and came to work. And this is where I'm sat, at my desk, au bureau. Joy, eh?

Well, I do have reason to be happy. The whole Florida Boy thing is sorted. Sorted in my mind. Sorted in my heart. Sorted between us.

This trip was always going to be about getting to know each other better. Deciding if we really like each other and seeing if there's anything of a future for us.

This trip was about falling in love, or not falling in love.

It was about saying 'this is who I am, this is what I want' to each other.

He lives on the other side of the world to me. Physically, emotionally and mentally, we do not live in the same place.

What I need isn't him.

He is a great guy, a wonderful friend, a truly fantastic Florida Boy. But he's not the man of my dreams.

If he lived in Paris, then maybe we'd stay together for a while until our differences got the better of us. We'd fall in and out of love until we didn't like each other that much anymore. And that would be sad, and a shame.

So, we talked.

I told him how I didn't want to commit to anything more than friendship, but that he has friendship from me in spades, forever.

Transatlantic love affairs need a whole load of energy, emotion, time and commitment. We both agreed that if it's going to be a long distance relationship then it has to be with the person that you really want to spend the rest of your days with.

And neither of us is that person to the other one.

Am I sad that it didn't turn out to be true love? Do I regret that there are no bells ringing, heartstrings twanging, cherubs singing? Do I wish that he had been the love of my life?

Sure. Of course. Without a doubt.

Am I thrilled to have a great new friend in my life? One that I will share great times with over the coming years?

Absolutely, yes.....especially when that friend comes with privileges, ha ha.

vendredi 4 septembre 2009