Diary of an old cheeser

Hi there! Like other blogs, this is my chance to wax lyrical (some might say talk utter cr*p) about a) what's happening in my life b) all of my pet obsessions in particular music, tv, movies, books and other generally connected things, quite often of the retro, old and "cheesy" variety. Hence the title of my blog. Feel free to leave a comment if the mood takes you. There's nothing like a good chinwag about one's favourite topics and besides I love to meet new people! Cheers, Simon

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Look at meeeeee!!! I'm a gobby ginger clown!!! (Or should that be "claaaaaaarn"??)

Well, that's one thing La Noble might be saying here. Any other ideas, ladies and gents?

Okay, I'm tagging the following people: Steve, Tim, Nora, Newplanet, Dan, Lost Boy, Paul, James and Amanda! And anyone else is more than welcome to respond should they desire ... it's just that I'm aware that you guys and gals are best equipped to comment on DW, having more than a smattering of knowledge between you!

Your mission: Fill in Donna's dialogue for her. What's she saying in the above pic? Something eloquent and intellectual? Or something downright stoopid and irritating? The choice is YOURS. Answers on a posted comment, please...

The overall winner gets the Old Cheeser Certificate of Commendation for Deliciously Diabolical Donna Dialogue (try saying that after a few cans of diamond white).

Ta peeps! One just couldn't resist!

OC xxx

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Saturday 5th April....

... is not too far away! Yaaay!!

Most of you have already beaten me by putting this up already, but here goes:

Have to say that La Chav doesn't look too bad in this, aside from the horrid "Doctaaaaaaaa!!" shouting-silently-through-glass bit. In the talking-to-Gramps scenes she almost seems ... deep. Good grief! Will Donna prove to be a decent Doctor-foil yet?

The rest of it looks positively gripping! I will approach it with an open mind...There's choc-loads of other info about the forthcoming Season Four too, but again the diehards amongst you will most probably have read it all on t'net by now, so not much point posting it here...I might do a little (little? Ha!) new series preview soon though...

Oh and the Beeb have also done some short alien teaser trailers too if you want to check those out. Kind of blows the gaff on the return of one monster, even if the rumours about them coming back were pretty strong anyway....

And I had a very nice Easter break and trust that all of you did too. Good to get away to York and also went to see Wicked the other night, courtesy of my lovely hubbie! More anon...

OC x

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

39 - it's official

Well I am now officially 39 and I'm pleased to say that I'm not feeling bad atall. The same as ever really. Thanks to those of you who sent me birthday good wishes, I was very honoured and touched. I had a nice day yesterday with Gustavo - we both took the day off work and took it easy, although there was the slight problem of a leaking kitchen ceiling to fix. However I'm pleased to say that it got sorted pretty promptly. The estate agents who are selling the flat upstairs sent a plumber round forthwith who was able to pinpoint the problem - leaking pipe underneath the floorboards which was dripping down from above into the kitchen. Anyway the drippage has now stopped although the wallpaper has done the clasic thing of peeling away from the ceiling - so I will see if I can get someone to foot the bill to fix it!

Rest of the day we went shopping in Croydon and I treated myself to some new togs - jeans and some groovy retro t-shirts and a few DVDs. As for presents, my hubbie got me a groovy summer jacket and zip up top from Top Man. Apparently I'm due something else but it hasn't turned up in the post yet. How exciting! Late afternoon we had nice meal and some wine at home and just took it easy. Birthdays should come round more often! (Without the growing old part, I should add...)

Oh and my father - who lives over in Amsterdam and is delightfully eccentric, not to say creative - wrote and emailed me this poem:

Dear Simon,
It's the 17th today
And I'd just like to say,
That you're looking rather grey.
Were you celebrating yesterday
Or just practising for Monday,
-Was that a yeah or a nay?

Cheesy pomes are now my style,
(but beware an excess of bile),
You may find them cringingly vile
And want to run an hundred mile.
PS. Of loot I have no pile,
So I'll send you a bathroom tile;

It's a cloggy one with a naughty picture
I'm hoping it will become a fixture,
And yearly tiles'll add to the mixture,
Many Bacchanalian scenes to titillate yer,
And of course the frequent visitor,
Hopefully not a detective inspector.

I'll stop this now coz I'm beginning to cringe,
Yer father needs a bit of minge,
He's older than you, and cannot binge
His hair's an even greyer tinge
And he's far too fond of the endless whinge,
Beware the 39 candles, thats one hell of a singe!

Isn't he clever? A bloody masterpiece eh?! (Even if the second line in the final verse is rather naughty...!)

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

30 something (just)

Tomorrow it is .... my birthday! And I will be .... 39 years old!!


Erm, yes. Just getting that one out of my system. Not to mention adjusting to the fact that I am about to enter my final year as a thirty-something. I can hardly believe that the big 4-0 is so close. When I start to think about it too much I also get depressed. Now I know how Margo Channing felt. Where has all the time gone??

Ah well. I have plenty to be thankful for, as my good blogging pal Deemer was recently reminding me. I have a loving partner and I'm in a stable relationship. I have good health. My hubbie and I have our very own lovely flat (although I should add, since yesterday, we have had a leakage problem - water is currently dripping through the kitchen ceiling!! No!! I hope to God we can get it fixed).
So, yes. Generally all very positive things.

If there's one major thing that I am dissatisfied with though it's: my job. I'm not going to go into any more detail than that, as it's not good to start saying negative things about my career on the net, where all and sundry can be privy to my thoughts... Let's just say that I'm not feeling fulfilled and the fact that I'm nearly 40 has brought me to the realisation that some changes need to be made. It's funny, cos my recent post on gay characters in soap operas attracted a lot of positive feedback/comments (thank you to those concerned!) bringing home to me the fact that my skills and talents as a writer, not to mention my knowledge in particular areas, is just not being utilised in what I'm currently doing. I've actually got all of next week and some of the following one off work, so that will provide an ideal opportunity for me to have a good think and take some action. It's hard isn't it. I know that quite a lot of you out there aren't exactly in your dream jobs either, but like me, need the required security to pay the mortgage and the bills! But birthdays are an ideal time for you to take stock and make some changes. So we'll see.

I'm also going to York for a few days to see my family. It will be great to see everyone and have a break away from the routine.

Meanwhile, as long as I don't get a birthday cake like the one above, I will be more than happy.

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He's regenerated again!!

Attention all Alphans!! (and Earthlings, bloggers and any other general beings come to that...)

This is Sandra Benes speaking, from Main Mission on Moonbase Alpha. At present I'm on an out-of-control moon that's shooting through space. Slightly inconvenient and we've absolutely no f*cking idea where we're going to end up. Oh do forgive me, that was very unlady-like. Do you like my 1970s page boy cut and bangs?

Oh dear, I'm going slightly off the point aren't I. But I do have a VERY important announcement to make:
Timewarden has regenerated!! Again!! He's back, back, BACK! Yes, my colleague, Old Cheeser, had to laugh when he went over to Timewarden's blog and found that he'd written some new posts, like this one and this one! It seems that the lure of blogging is just too much for all of us. Anyway, welcome back once again Tim! This must be your third incarnation now. Soon you'll be catching up with a certain Time Lord in the regeneration stakes...

Well, I'm off to change into a skimpy leopardskin costume so I can get manhandled by a load of cavemen. There's only so many times that a girl can sit behind a desk and saying "We've lost contact, Commander" you know!" And if you don't know what I'm talking about, you've very, very sad. Byeeeee!!

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Toad in a hole

'ere! Who's been spreading strawberry jam on me chest? B*stards!!

Yes, proving that Torchwood CAN do continuity, the two most recent episodes of the sci-fi/fantasy prog, “Dead Man Walking” and “A Day in the Death”, mainly concerned what happened to Owen “Toadface” Harper, after being shot dead by Jim Robinson at the end of the previous “Reset” (well at least it wasn’t Harold Bishop wot did it). And quite involving and well done they were too. So much so that after “Dead Man…” I switched over to BBC3 to see “A Day…” rather than do the usual of waiting another week for the next instalment (which at any rate has already been shown on BBC2, such was my delay in writing and posting this…tut, tut!)
In case you hadn’t guessed, Owen doesn’t actually stay dead (at least in the conventional sense) for very long. Foolhardy Captain Jack decides to revive him with a resurrection gauntlet i.e. glove, similar to the one used to bring former team member, Suzie back to life, in the last series. But things go badly wrong. Owen is brought back to life with no pulse or heartbeat and worse, becomes possessed by the spirit of Death itself! You would have thought Jack would have learnt after the last disaster with Suzie…
First off, this is an interesting concept and one that looks set to run and run i.e. Owen’s state of living death. How often do we have a regular character who, to all intents and purposes, looks, acts and speaks like a normal living person, but is in fact, dead? The first episode “Dead Man Walking” had some genuinely unsettling moments, particularly the bits when Owen finds himself in a strange black void and his eyes then totally black out and he mutters in a strange voice (reminded me of when Sapphire was possessed in Sapphire and Steel). There were also comic/sick bits, like when Owen does some lovely projectile vomiting, Linda Blair style - as a dead man his digestive system is kinda messed up you see - in a police cell. Things come to head with Owen’s decision to literally face the demon within him, leading to a climactic fight in a hospital in which he has a scrap with a skeleton.
“Dead Man” was not a bad episode at all – even though the skeleton-death figure did look a bit too CGI/fake – and there were some good dramatic moments. More significantly, this episode sent T-Wood on an interesting new trajectory i.e. Owen’s situation. What was refreshing and different was that Owen DIDN’T suddenly and miraculously spring back to life at the end, in contrived fashion. Nope. Despite successfully warding off Death himself, Owen remains very much one of the living dead, leaving our Toad in a definite hole. And this situation continues into the next episode, with Jack making the decision to relieve Owen of his position as Hub medical officer. Well, nice for Martha I suppose, although her three episode contract was shortly drawing to a close so she didn't have that long to relish it…
I actually thought that “A Day in the Death” was better than “Dead Man” as it delved even further into Owen’s state of living death as well as his inner psyche. Relieved of his job, he’s sent home but has nothing meaningful to occupy him and sits around in a state of permanent ennui. More significantly, as someone who is meant to be dead, he can’t touch, he can’t feel, he can’t taste, he can’t eat…All sensation just isn’t there, thus leading to a massive state of alienation for Mr Harper. Toshiko comes to visit but she’s so caught up in talking about her own problems, it makes him feel even more isolated. Even an attempt to drown himself in Cardiff Bay doesn’t work – how can you die when you’re already dead?
I know I have slagged off his character in the past, but Burn Gorman was excellent at conveying all of Owen’s angst and frustration at his situation, and this new slant on the character opened up lots of previously unexplored avenues, not to mention giving Mr Gorman the chance to portray previously unseen facets of Owen’s persona. The smarmy charmer of old was gone, replaced by a bleak and hopeless attitude (although by the end of "Day" he's a LITTLE bit more positive about his plight) and in general Owen has become a much more reflective individual. Amazing what dying can do to/for you.
This was compounded by quite a well-done sub-plot in which Owen meets a young woman called Maggie who is contemplating suicide after the death of her husband in a car crash (he died just hours after their wedding!) But he manages to talk her out of the doing the deed by showing her an alien device that is a reply to the messages sent out from Earth in search of extra-terrestrial life. Heavy, man.
And the device itself forms the rest of the plot – before Owen gets his hands on it, it’s being horded by a reclusive millionaire and collector of alien artifacts, Henry John Parker, played by none other than Richard Briers! Nice little cameo from Mr B as Parker, who is now looking considerably older than in his “Good Life” days and you kind of felt pity for his character - Parker mistakenly believed that the device was keeping him alive when in fact it was in danger of exploding and killing people and it takes Owen to make him realise the truth. What is even more ironic is that when Parker has a heart attack, Owen is unable to give him the kiss of life to resuscitate him – as a “dead” person he doesn’t have any breath!
So…how long will the “Owen as walking dead” plot line run on for? Looks to be interesting…
Meanwhile after a promising return in “Reset”, Ms Martha Jones was somewhat underused in these two episodes I felt, functioning as little more than a glorified medic. She needed a bigger slice of the action, for sure. Oh well, we'll soon be seeing her again in Dr Who.
But all in all, two quite decent episodes! Yikes! Am I damning Torchwood with feint praise?!
And in this week's instalment: Gwen finally gets hitched to Rhys! Will it be a “Hello” magazine style wedding? What’s this about her declaring her love for Jack? (Oh WHAT a surprise). When it gets to the “no cause or just impediment” bit will Jack pipe up? Or Owen perhaps, alluding to his and Gwen’s past? (Mind you, it’s a bit hard to take the rantings of a dead man seriously). And Nerys “Liver Birds”/”Kinda” Hughes even gets to appear, even though she must be pretty ancient by now. Hoorah!

(Screencaps courtesy of time-and-space.co.uk)

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Get used to it

Has anyone seen one of the above posters/billboards? Well, perhaps only if you live in the UK, as they have only been used over here, to my knowledge. The posters by Stonewall are part of a campaign that seeks to tackle homophobia, in particular homophobic bullying in schools. Excellent strategy and I like the unapologetic message of the poster.

Oddly enough, only a day or two after I put up my recent post on Brokeback Mountain - leading to lots of very interesting debate from you, my fellow bloggers! - I saw one of these billboard posters on my way home from the gym! (About 5 minutes walk from my house no less). Strange that I'd been talking about the area in which I live as being a less than gay-friendly one. Hopefully messages like this are going to make a difference or at least get people to sit up and think!! However, sad to say, the poster/billboard has since disappeared. Is it too much for the neighbourhood to deal with?

Then this morning on the bus to work, just before Tulse Hill I saw another of the very same posters underneath a railway arch. Good, good! But underneath the "Get Over It!" part someone had written in clear graffiti: "Boom bye bye". This was a clear reference to a song by jamaican rapper, Buju Banton, in which he advocates the shooting of gays - just look at the lyrics:

"World is in trouble
Anytime Buju Banton come
Batty bwoy get up an run
At gunshot me head back
Hear I tell him now crew

(Its like) Boom bye bye
Inna batty bwoy head..."

In case you weren't aware, "batty bwoy" means "bum boy" and is a term of abuse for gay men, often used by black people. And no prizes for guessing what "Boom bye bye" means. Absolutely disgusting and I actually feel pretty bad about posting up such words on my blog... Fortunately at the time of the song's release, it was met with much protest and Mr Banton hasn't exactly made himself popular in certain circles as a result, being banned from performances in some venues.

Yes the song was released over ten years ago. It would seem that ignorance and narrow-mindedness still prevail.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

A gaggle of gays in soapland

Saints preserve us! Just last week two homosexuals got spliced in a little country village called Beckendale. Whatever next?

Actually I was at the gym and as usual casting a few glances over at the TV screens in front of me as I sweated and toiled on the cardio machines. I'm slowly getting there....but oh Mary, sometimes it’s SUCH a chore keeping fit!

Anyway, what should pop up on one of the screens but "Emmerdale" (which I only usually catch fleetingly whilst, oddly enough, at the gym - I'm not what you'd call a regular viewer) with two very handsome young men attending their very own civil partnership ceremony!! Wahey!!

One of the characters, Paul Lambert, played by the gorgeous Matthew Bose, has been a regular in the show since 2004.

Paul's hubbie to be, Jonny Foster, is a newer arrival, portrayed by Richard Grieve (who same of you may remember from years back in "Neighbours" as hunky motorcyclist Sam Kratz - another gorge fella! I think I preferred him with his fake dyed black hair then though, as opposed to his au naturele grey look of now...) Anyhow as said, the two characters became civil partners in last week's Ermintrude, I mean Emmerdale. We saw Paul and Jonny exchanging vows in a registry office and later attending a reception held for them by all of the locals (actually this was meant to be the proper partnership ceremony, but the story's too complicated to go into here) with everyone totally accepting and encouraging of their union. Perhaps a slightly idealistic depiction, but as I was staring up at the TV screen, watching two men kissing and being welcomed into the collective bosom of a small Yorkshire community as a bona fide couple, it got me to thinking, just HOW VERY FAR things have come in terms of the visibility of gays and lesbians in soap operas, not to mention many other forms of media.

Okay, so not everyone's going to be so nice the world over about being gay, as I was recently discussing. But attitudes are changing. There's been a veritable gaggle of gay characters springing up in soaps of late. In addition to Paul and Jonny in Emmerdale, we've got Sean and boyf Marcus in Coronation Street. Then there’s Christian, Jane's brother in Eastenders. And the youthful John-Paul in Hollyoaks...Alright, not all of these characters are what you might call 100% "positive" portrayals of gay people - Sean in Corrie is a bit of a stereotypical camp queen and Christian in Eastenders falls into the category of the promiscuous, hedonistic, selfish gay. And as you might have gathered from the list above, there also seems to be a distinct lack of regular lesbian characters in soaps at the moment; an imbalance and an injustice, surely (correct me if I'm wrong about this, anyone!) But overall I reckon this increase in visibility of gay and lesbian characters – not to mention an increase in positive representations - is a damn good thing.

Flashback to 30 or so years ago or so and it was a very different story. The presence of gay and lesbian characters in soaps, not to say dramas or comedies, was much less frequent. When they did appear they were usually sad and tortured souls and same-sex relationships were few and far between. Then as the 1980s arrived, things slowly started to change...

So, I thought that the ground-breaking knot-tying of two gays on prime-time TV was ample opportunity to look back at some gay and lesbian soap characters from the past to see exactly how far we've come...


"Gay" Gordon

I searched high and low on the internet for some info about him. The result of which was this rather blurry pic of Gordon Mark 2. So I'll try to fill in the blanks a bit with that thing called memory. Gordon was the nice but ginger son of the posh residents of Brookside Close, Paul and Annabelle Collins. (Brookside being set in Liverpool in case you didn’t know). Teenage Gordon ending up sleeping with one of his friends, to his parents' horror. The character was packed off to France but returned a few years later, played by a completely different, but still ginger actor (the one above). Gordy then had involvements with a man called Chris and later the manager of a wine business, Keith. I don’t think either relationship worked out long term, but at least we were seeing some confirmation that gay men did exist and interact with their own kind…Gordon had a pretty uneventful departure though when the entire Collins family upped and left the close in the early 1990s, with the ginger one single and unattached again. Boo.

Beth Jordache

Flash forward a few years to the mid 1990s and the Jordache family arrived in Brookside close. It transpired that Mum Mandy and her daughters, Beth and Rachel, had been given a “safe house” to escape Mandy’s abusive ex-husband Trevor. Unfortunately he caught up with them and much drama ensued. And that's Beth above - looking a little more glam than she did in the programme - she was still a very attractive young lady nevertheless...

Anyway, back in soapland, daughter and university student Beth soon revealed that she was a lesbian and had a snog with a fellow neighbour, Margaret (on the right, above). Whilst this was a flash in the pan for Margaret (she soon went scuttling back to men) for Beth, a full-scale coming out was on the cards. Bigoted Mum Mandy couldn’t accept it but Beth was adamant…later on she had a relationship with female college lecturer Chris and then bisexual student Viv.

Beth was probably one of the most sympathetic and believable lesbian characters to appear on TV, much of which can be attributed to actress Anna Friel’s excellent, down-to-earth portrayal. I’ll never forget one scene on an Irish beach when Mandy tells Beth she can’t accept her daughter’s sexuality, protesting that “It’s not natural!” to which Beth quietly but surely replies: “To me it’s the most natural thing in the world”. She was a sensitive but strong girl who was also (luckily) attractive in the looks department and refreshing proof that not all lesbians are truck driver types with short cropped hair and dungarees. Beth was evidence that a normal girl on a normal housing estate could also be gay. One of the greatest tragedies of all was her untimely killing off. When the police catch up with the Jordaches for the killing of Trevor, Beth and Mandy are banged up in jail. Whilst undergoing trial for murder, Beth one night dies of a rare heart condition (oh please) leaving Mandy grief-stricken. And promptly became known as Beth Fag-ash. Whoops. Although Anna Friel had made the decision to leave the series, I thought this was a totally unnecessary, not to say cruel way of disposing of the character. Viewers and dykes across the country were up in arms, and rightly so. Still, Beth will always have a place in people’s hearts and her character won’t be forgotten. Sadly these days, all Anna Friel seems to do are cr*p ads for hair products and credit cards. Beth seems to have been the highlight of her career.

Coronation Street

Todd Grimshaw

Played by the totally yummy Bruno Langley (seen more recently as the short-lived, out-for-himself Dr Who companion, Adam!), Todd was actually the first ever homosexual character to appear on “The Street” Considering that the Manchester-based soap debuted in 1960, it was about bloody time! The young lad made his first appearance in the soap in 2001. A mere teenager, poised to take his “A” levels until he got involved with schoolgirl mother Sarah-Louise and fathered her child. Gasp!

However things started to change when he became interested in Sarah’s handsome blond brother-in-law, Nick. Todd – double gasp! – planted a kiss on the sleeping Nick’s lips, only to be rebuffed. Pretending that it was an act of drunkenness, Todd laid low for a while until getting into a secret relationship with a male nurse, Karl Foster. They had an affair behind Sarah’s back and even slept in her bed! However Todd wanted to stay with Sarah and his unborn child, whilst keeping Karl as his “bit on the side”, something Karl didn’t take kindly to and he dumped Todd. Inevitably Todd was found out and confessed his sexuality to Sarah…Eventually he left for London though did return for a guest appearance a few years after, wherein we discovered he was having an on-off relationship with a guy and had finished his law studies, which was a step forward… Quite a well-done coming out storyline and convincingly played by Bruno Langley, who managed to portray the conflicts a father to be with a girlfriend might feel when he discovers where his true inclinations lie.


Colin Russell

Colin was a graphic designer (that's him on the left, above) and also one of the first yuppies to appear in a soap (this was 1986), not to the mention the show’s first ever gay character (well, Eastenders only started in 1985 so this was pretty good going – unlike Coronation Street which took several decades to acknowledge the existence of gay people). Cor blimey, guvnor! Woofters in the square! Eastbenders! Erm, well fortunately that WASN’T the general reaction that Colin received in Albert Square. Most people accepted him, perhaps because he was a very “nice” gay man. He certainly wasn’t an in your face, banner-waving type, more of an assimilationist. And yet in his own understated way, Colin WAS there to educate people about the ways of gays, particularly the sometimes narrow-minded Dot Cotton who thought you could contract AIDS by drinking from the same cup. Silly woman. And like Beth, Col was evidence that gay people can be normal and was played with sensitivity and conviction by Michael Cashman.

And relationships? First off, Colin had an affair with the younger, laddish but cute Barry (on the right in the piccie above). This was almost a “father and son” relationship with Colin cast in the role of the mentor and Barry the acolyte. And in 1987 we saw the first ever gay screen kiss on UK TV when Colin kissed Barry on … the forehead!! … leading to a mass of protest from viewers and the right-wing Press. Er, hello?!

Unfortunately Colin and Bazzer’s relationship didn’t last, but later Colin met a fellow yuppie, Guido. The couple shared another on-screen kiss – this time, a mere peck on the lips! - which again caused moral outrage across the nation. Honestly! Things definitely have changed since then eh?

Colin later contracted multiple sclerosis and promptly left the square, another badly-thought out and insulting departure for a gay character. Apparently Michael C wanted the character to contract HIV but the writers decided otherwise, so he quit. Can’t say I blame him. However in real life, Michael Cashman is openly gay and a political activist; he has frequently campaigned for gay rights for many years too. Good on you, Mike!

Della and Binnie

Then in the mid 1990s a pair of lipstick lezzers arrived in the square. Della was setting up her own hair salon, Kool for Cuts (dig the name) and Binnie was a barmaid in the Queen Vic. Oh Arthur! Would you adam and eve it? Lezzers in normal professions! It has to be said, the actresses who played Della and Binnie were not especially brilliant but at least they got some fairly good story lines. Della was a bit of a closet case whereas Binnie wasn't and grew tired of all of the subterfuge. Finally Della confounded expectations and proved her worth by snogging Binnie in the square in front of a load of gawping extras. Oh, and there were some funny scenes when one the girls explained to the less-than-enlightened Peggy Mitchell "What lesbians do". The sapphic duo didn't last very long in the show though, mainly because the writers didn't seem to know what to do with their characters and after about a year they were packed off to Ibiza. Well, that’s where all sexual deviants end up, don’t they?

Simon Raymond and Tony Hills

Oh dear. These two were not a pair of desperately convincing characters, probably due to the half-hearted, performances of the actors playing them. They were just a bit too ordinary and ... well, dull. Still, again, this was a definite move forward from mincing John Inman portrayals, proving the "everyman" status of homos. Simon and Tony were involved in another agonising "coming out" plot line, well Tony anyway, who couldn't decide if he liked boys or girls or not, thus causing Simon much grief. Tonyyyy vacillated between dropping his trousers for Simon and – to make things more complicated - Simon’s sister Tiffany, before deciding that it was Simon he wanted after all. If this all sounds a bit cr*p it was quite well done, including an episode where Tony, Simon and Tiff all go to Blackpool and Tony (ostensibly dating Tiff) reveals that he’s actually attracted to Simon and hesitantly kisses him. Eventually Si and Tone get it together and even an initially outraged Tiffany eventually comes round to this development. But then along comes a poodle-haired journalist called Polly (and the lady who played her lived in Brighton you know - I once saw her in a pub!!) and Tony’s sexuality is swinging like a pendulum once again… Eventually Tone the Moan realised that the true passage to happiness was the back one (sorry, couldn't resist) and left the square to go travelling round the world with soppy Si. Awwww.

Well I’ve rabbited on about our UK soaps for long enough. What about our overseas counterparts?


Steven Carrington

Homosexuality rears its head in Denver, Colorado! Steven Carrington was the son of rich and powerful patriarch and oil baron, Blake, and also … a homo! As this was the very early 1980s the storyline was dealt with very cautiously and we didn’t see any kissing, only loaded looks and hugs. Boring. We first got wind of Steven’s inclinations when he has a very chaste affair with a man with the ultra-sexy name of Ted Dinard. This was further complicated by the fact Father Blake finds out what his son’s been up to and in a fit of rage, pushes Ted causing him to hit his head and die. You bast*rd, Blake! In typical soap fashion, this soon got forgotten and Steven even forgave his Dad, although Blake remained less than accepting of his son's orientation.

Over the course of several seasons, Steven then attempted to prove his "heterosexuality" by "trying it out" with a string of women like Claudia and Sammy-Jo and even fathering a little boy called Danny, all to no avail. However much he tried to deny it, Steven was a disco-dancing, Streisand ticket-holding friend of Dorothy. Well, okay, maybe he wasn't quite so flamboyant in the slick and sophisticated world of Dynasty but you get the picture...

After a few normal occurences like getting blown up on an oil rig, undergoing plastic surgery and coming back as a completely different actor (above) Steven later gave into his true feelings and became involved with a cute guy called Luke Fuller (played by real-life stalwart gay actor Bill Campbell). Unfortunately Luke was sadly killed in the much derided Moldavian massacre plot line. Then along came a lawyer called Bart Falmont who turned Steven's head and in one episode the twosome have a hilariously homoerotic fight in a gynasium, though unfortunately no truly naughty shenanigans ensued. This was the problem with "Dynasy". It was okay to have gay characters but they were never seen actually acting on their desires, unlike straight couples like Fallon and Jeff or Alexis and Dex, who were constantly snogging and romping semi-naked all over the place. Even blue-rinse Blake and his walking clothes-horse wife Krystal were permitted to exhibit more passion than whiter than white Steven. Such was the period and climate during which "Dynasty" was made, I guess.

Steven actually left Denver and was absent for the final season of Dynasty, however he has the last laugh when he returns in the "Reunion" special, now happily shacked up with Bart Falmont in Washington! Father Blake comes to visit and - gasp! - has actually come round to the idea of having a homo son, and declares his change of heart on these matters. About time, Blake! The crowning glory for Steven comes at the very end, when the entire Carrington family reunite round the dinner table. Not only is Blake's ex-wife and arch baddie Alexis allowed to join in proceedings, Steven and Bart are accepted as part of the clan and are seen happily chowing down with the rest of the family. Homosexuality was finally seen to be embraced within the (primarily heterosexual) family unit! And three cheers for that.


Were there any gay or lesbian characters in the great state of Texas? Hardly any, according to Dallas. If memory serves correct, Lucy Ewing fancied some fella who turned out to be gay in the early episodes, but none of the regulars showed any leanings in that direction. Shameful. The same can be said of Dallas' long-running spin-off, Knots Landing. Doubly shameful! Especially as we got characters so OTT and camp as Abby. One would assume there were a few gay writers in there somewhere...

Meanwhile, over in Australia...

Prisoner: Cell Block H

For those of you who don't know, Prisoner was a long-running soap set in a women's prison, Wentworth Detention Centre in Melbourne and ran from 1979-1986. It had the p*ss frequently ripped out of it by critics and was frequently regarded as "that programme you switch on after rolling in from the pub". Admittedly it did fulfil the latter function rather well and I for one was hooked on the show for a long time (in fact, ahem, I've been catching up on lots of old episodes on Youtube recently - very addictive). And one of the groundbreaking elements of Prisoner was that it portrayed lesbian characters long before its UK and US counterparts (as Val Lehman, who played top dog Bea Smith, has been keen to point out).

So which flaming mongrels were dykes exactly?

Judy Bryant

A big, cuddly, lovable lesbian who arrived circa 1980. A bit of a hard case early on, but she mellowed as time went by. Judy was a cab driver from the US (so not a bona fide Aussie) and got herself deliberately put into prison so she could be with her drug-dealing girlfriend Sharon Gilmour. Sharon was a real manipulative madam though and soon "went off" Judy. Sharon also ended up dead several episodes later, at the hands of sadistic prison warder Jock Stewart, after attempting to blackmail him when she overheard him threatening another prisoner. When a gleeful and gloating Stewart as good as admitted what he'd done to Judy, she went on the warpath and organised a series of prison protests. Good on you Jude!

Whilst remaining a likeable character, it has to be said Judy wasn't so fortunate in the relationship stakes. She took a liking to a few fellow female prisoners but nothing came of that aside from wistful looks and a few comments. A few years later Judy fell in love with the ditzy but sweet Pixie Mason, who came to realise how Judy felt and accepted it, although she didn't exactly want to consummate things! When Pixie was cruelly raped and transferred to a mental institution, Judy wrote and dedicated a song to her - "Pixie's Song" - which actually became a hit when Judy befriended a pop star. Like you do. Although her sexuality did become increasingly neutered over her years in "Prisoner", Judy's character did at least show the "normal" and human side of lesbianism, which is considerably more than can be said for...

Joan "The Freak" Ferguson

A very dodgy piece of characterisation indeed, and yet, thanks to the strength of Maggie Kirkpatrick's performance, Joan Ferguson became a virtual icon to many. Yes another lezzer in Wentworth, this time a prison warder no less. Joan arrived in 1982 and made her mark from the outset, soon revealing herself to be a thoroughly corrupt and evil officer who not only took pleasure from torturing the women inmates but also playing her fellow officers off one another in her attempts to gain ultimate power. And she was also a lesbian.

One of Miss Ferguson's most dreaded props were the black gloves she would don to give some of the women "body searches" (that's her on the left above, giving the unfortunate young Doreen a frisking). She also took a liking to the prettier female prisoners and poor Hannah Simpson is the first object of her sights. When Hannah threatens to tell the governor about Joan, we get a bit of an insight into what made Joan the way she is. She reveals to Hannah that in her previous job working in another prison, she fell in love with a young female inmate called Audrey, who reciprocated her feelings. However when the other women got wind of the affair, they killed Audrey, thus leading Joan to go on a bashing spree in revenge and turning her into the bitter and twisted creature she is now. Mmmm. A slightly simplistic bit of psychology?

When the women of Wentworth get wise to Joan's ways, they christen her "The Freak". Well, this was several years before the term "politically correct" had entered into general usage. But it's perhaps more than a little justified as over the course of a few years we see Joan doing many devious and nasty things and carrying out more than the odd "body search". And a few years later (circa 1985) we finally get to see Joan embarking on a proper a relationship with a fellow female officer, Terri Malone! (Oddly enough played by the very same actress who portrayed Sharon Gimour). However happiness in soapland is never eternal and right from the start Joan and Terri's relationship is characterised as an ultra-fraught one. No sooner have they moved in together then Terri's parents discover their daughter's "leanings" and reject her, leading to heartache...later it transpires that Terri isn't a 100% dyke but bisexual and brings home and sh*gs her male boss right under Joan's nose. Nice! The two attempt to negotiate an "open" relationship but it's too much for Joan to handle, and her and Terri soon split, leaving a desolate Joaney to take it out on the prisoners again. Whilst it was good to see Joan properly involved with another woman (actress Maggie Kirkpatrick had apparently insisted that the character was given such a storyline) this could hardly be called a "right-on" portrayal of a gay relationship with its portrayal of a neurotic and destructive affair. Yes soap operas are often less than subtle, but still...even Maggie K said that she thought it was one of the most cliche-ridden pieces of garbage she'd had to perform.

However much you can criticise the characterisation of the Freak - lesbianism equated with villainy is undoubtedly a very dodgy proposition - as said, Maggie K always gave the part her all and her portrayal made for rivetting viewing. And actually, re-reading what I said earlier, I think I was wrong, as the Freak DID have her moments of humanity, which came to the fore particularly during her ill-fated relationships with other women. And I forgot to mention Joan's father, Major Ferguson, with whom she shared a special bond and was able to show her softer side (slightly crude stereotyping again though - with a father in the military and an absent mother is this why she turned out to be a dyke?) When those aforementioned relationships went down the pan and her father died, the monster Joan re-emerged.

Well...I think it's time to wrap up this extravaganza now, ladies and gents. Of course there are other gay and lesbian characters in other shows who I've refrained from mentioning who you might have thought of. So tell me who they are!

And it's funny if you compare TV of the 1980s/early 90s with now. In the 2000s we had "Queer As Folk" - both the UK and US versions with their honest portrayals of gay and lesbian characters - not only in terms of showing healthy, well-adjusted individuals having same-sex relationships but also erm, what they actually got up to! It's a sign of the times too that we now have comedy shows like "Will and Grace" with leading gay characters. And of course the more positive, overt representations in soaps that I mentioned at the start of this post. A whole lotta history for gays and lesbians and a whole lot more to come!

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Hello my lovelies!

Sorry I disappeared off the planet for a while...such is life though eh? Have been cooking up a few new posts as well which took a bit of time to perfect...and this Old Cheeser is a bit of a perfectionist as you well know. Also as you'll see I managed to sort Blogger out and revert back to my original template thus restoring things nicely! Thanks Deemer for the tip.

Anyways, I thought it was high time I posted up some pics from my housewarming party!!

I actually thought it would be nice if I showed you some photos of the finished flat first of all. In fact I already posted some piccies of la apartment on my Xmas 2007 post for anyone that viewed that one... But then I think someone recently asked when I was going to post photos of the flat so perhaps they weren't seen by all of you after all. And really I'm just looking for an opportunity to show off again...Oh I'm such a bourgeois property queen now...home owing goes to one's head.

So...Here's the lounge with the new sofa in the foreground (beige is a bit of a no-no when it comes to things like food and red wine, but so far it's been fine, thank the lord!) and dining table and chairs and Rio picture in the background. It's a really excellently sized room and perfect for an erm, party...

Nice swirly chocolate rug from Dwell which sits next to the sofa.

Matching chair that goes with the sofa. And Argos catalogue on the chair. Ahem. No snobby comments please. Nice mini Warhol type pictures of flowers on the wall.

Sideboard with funky alien light in the corner. Looks like it might come alive and zap you but actually rather cooool.

Another sensational view of the dining table and back of the room!

Lampshade in the main hallway. It replaces a black one which was up there before...we thought black was a bit oppressive as a colour (darling) so went for something a bit lighter.

Mirrors in the hallway and next to the bathroom door.

Another view of the hallway with hanging pink lamp.

The cuisine. I can't tell you how great it is to have a gas cooker - gas hob to be precise - after having an electric one in our previous abode. Electric hobs are totally rubbish!

Another view of the kitchen. With very nice units which the previous owners had installed so we didn't have to get the kitchen refitted or anything. Note all the matching silver kitchen accoutrements, which come from...guess where? (See catalogue on chair in previous pic for a clue).

The spare bedroom. We've actually got a sofa in there at present and there's a desk in the corner so it's more of an "office". The Warholian divas remain (had 'em on the wall in our last abode).

Our bedroom. The other walls are a light brown with the "bed" wall red. With matching bed clothes. Works well eh? And now...ta dah!! Some housewarming piccies...

Me and my lovely hubbie before the guests arrived. The cooking's been done, the drinks are ready and the furniture has been rearranged...

And here's some scrumptious nosh prepared by my hubbie...he spent hours slaving away getting everything ready, bless him. Needless to say all of the food was totally devoured - not to mention all of the wine, beer and vodka. Heavens, parties can be expensive affairs!

Me and Gu opening a nice bottle of bubbly, again pre-arrival of guests before the party kicked off. Kind of a significant moment for us really. After months of paperwork, endless dealings with estate agents and solicitors, moving into the flat itself, decorating, painting, putting together new furniture, moving things round, tidying things up...finally, after all of that, everything was ready and we were able to properly unveil our new pad to our public! For any of you who've gone through the whole process of purchasing a property I'm sure you all know how ultra-satisfying such a feeling is. To have arrived at that point was...so completely wonderful!

No, I'm no actually that drunk, still drinking the same stuff. But I thought the mask was a nice added touch (from mardi gras in Brazil as it happens). Inevitably it ended up getting worn by everyone else throughout the night and somewhere along the line, got lost. Pah!

Some friends arrive, getting into the swing.

More party friends!

And more!

Meanwhile in the kitchen, Elton John's sister had arrived.

Who then promptly turned into Ginger Spice.

Back in the lounge, the dancing was getting...interesting.

If not a tad risque.

Erm, look this is a supposed to be a respectable party yes? Yeah right.

Wait a minute! It's that mask again!

Gustavo goes cowgirl, I mean cowboy.

It's Ginger Spice again! Except she's now wearing a polka dot top... Erm....

Gustavo is so light practically ANYONE can pick him up! That's "pick up" as in lift up, in case you were wondering...

And more wigs emerged...From the Cheeser's own personal collection I should add. Erm, not sure about what's going on below...I should add this was quite late into the night and a fair amount of alcohol had been consumed...

Is that a dude or a dudess? Clue: Look at hairy arms.

I really think I should set up my own wig hiring company... they're much in demand these days...

You can call me a sinner...

And you can call me a saint...Yes Homebase dining chairs really do have a whole range of uses.

And here's next day's debris after the party wrapped up at approximately 4.30am!! The aftermath wasn't too disastrous although you can't see the stains on the carpet here. There was an especially big red wine one. Oh dear.

Cleaning up in da kitchen...

And that's about it, folks! As you might have gathered it was a success and a very good time was had by all. I have to say though (going back to Bourgeois property queen mode) I don't think we'll be hosting a party on this scale again. Not in our new home at any rate. The main reasons being the expense involved in holding it (yeah I know that sounds stingy...in fact, me and Gustavo love being generous but since starting with the whole mortgage and associated house costs thing, it's been quite tight financially) plus, when you actually own and pay for your own place you kind of resent having to foot the bill for any damage (whereas when you just rent, it doesn't matter if things get broken etc as the place doesn't belong to you - the landlord can just pay for it. Ha ha). As said there was a horrid red wine stain which was a nightmare to shift. So it'll be sensible, sophisticated dinner parties for us from now on then! Am I getting respectable in my old age...? Maybe. After all, next week I turn 39 years old! Aaaah!!