The Scarlet Empress

My 500th Blog!

Such delight and disdain it has caused.  Such heartache and joy!   Thanks readers.  Thanks.

Duncan x

There’s almost too much going on inside and outside of my head.

Firstly, the garden.  Every day for the past few weeks I have worked in the garden.  Pulling tons (literally) of weeds and leaves out of the flower beds.  Reclaiming the paths.  Defending the vegetables from the gophers and rabbits.

I have planted Datura and Hibiscus.   Salvia, basil, onions, beans and tomatoes.

A bumper crop of plums this year!

For the first time in 4 years I managed to get to them before the birds.

Have hooked up a pump to the spring water reservoir.  It’s located at the bottom of the garden, now watering parts of the estate I can’t usually justify irrigating with expensive, potable water.

The previous owner built the two huge tanks.  Until last week I just hadn’t gotten around to buying the small, inexpensive pump.  Absurd isn’t it?

Having this free supply of water means that I can clear part of the garden and lay turf which in any other situation would be immoral, irresponsible.

Everything in a tropical garden has spikes or thorns or needles.  My hands are cut to ribbons.  Robbie has been here twice this week helping me and his arms and legs, poor thing, are shredded too.

Dinner last night with Anna and Jeff at Nobu in Malibu.

Apparently I was mentioned in passing by Derek in the ‘A’ List last night.  I can’t imagine that I will escape lightly from this situation.  I am perfectly sure my posing as the ‘Mister Big’ will make me the laughing-stock of Gay New York.


The weather in Malibu is perfect.  Hot as hell in the sun but a delicious sea breeze blowing onshore.

The crows are hunting chicks.  They bombard the trees. Tiny dead chicks on the paths.  So sad.

I took the picture at the head of the post last weekend at the Piette’s.   Their house is soooo depressing.  Even though it’s located on the lake and the twins are living there now.  It’s so dark inside at night.  Gloomy.

You know what?  I should be getting on with something else.  I should be leaping all over my novel.  I should be writing the film.  You know what it’s about don’t you?

Two gay men want a baby but end up with an old man instead.

This was one of the videos Charlie and I shot when we were researching our film.

Trans Alexis, The Scarlet Empress, must be in her 80’s.  She was at Triangle House, a home for elderly gays and lesbians in Hollywood.  Getting old is a pain in the ass for everyone but elderly gays seem to find it particularly difficult.  Most of the men and women at Triangle House have endured homelessness.  Old age, as they say, is not for the faint hearted.

Lesbians, apparently, don’t seem to end up so isolated but gay men do.  Lesbians are often dialed into an extended family of other lesbians and are less ageist.

Anyway, I’ll write more about Alexis and our film which maybe should be a documentary.

I don’t know.

The elder gays we met were really quite wonderful.  The gay men we met who had surrogate children or were going through the surrogacy process were less wonderful.  Downright awful in fact.

Robby is on his way over to help me in the garden.

Is Toby right?  Do I live in the past?  Am I addicted to what was rather than what is or what could be?  Fuck.  Maybe he’s right?

Amy Winehouse is dead.  It comes as no surprise.  She was an out of control drug addict and alcoholic.  She dies alone.  She died an addict.  I am sorry for her family.  It is always the family that has to pick up the pieces and go on living.  Amy did not choose life.  She sneered at the prospect.  She thought she could get away with a dance with death.  She failed.

I will remember her like this:

One reply on “The Scarlet Empress”

Just posting this great email I received today:

hi duncan
suddenly i don’t know what to say. i’m sorry.
i long held the belief that nothing truly surprises me. i expect people to behave badly, i expect them to be good, try cry or lie. i’ve found it useful to explain / not explain the human condition.
the only problem is that once in a while you get a blow out of the blue. the unexpected. disappointment.
it took me the best part of a very chilly morning to get an address to contact you. mind you, i don’t even know if it’s the correct one?
i found your 500th blog yesterday while searching for the editor of apollo. the other oscar humphries. i started reading, caught by something familiar. sincerity?
then i was sucked in. too many familiar references, too many similarities. too many coincidences.
i believe compassion to be in short supply these days. often confused with sympathy, it’s difficult to see.
people generally crave knowledge for understanding, but personally i feel too much of it ruins acceptance. knowledge is power, and we all know power corrupts.
sometimes, especially relationships (yes, those schizophrenic vehicles without which we cannot cross the waters of this world) suffer from this knowing disease.
i have a complete abhorrence of lies. i was taught that i have nothing to be ashamed of by my mother and always had the acceptance of my father.
she’s getting on in years. even offering to take messages from wrong numbers. ‘no, there’s no susan here, you must have the wrong number, but can i give her a message?’
don’t you sometimes feel that way about relationships. like you called the wrong number and left a message.
i have a strange home. living with both my partners and with my three children. they are each their own person and fills a part of me. i doubt i’ll find all of it in one person. which is the monogamy of the mind. see: george melly.
what i really wanted to say is to let it go. resent all you want. forgive. doubt will always grow into fear. love without trust is anathema to me. i’m prone to paranoia as it is. the hurt will not go away.
i struggled with the openness. like madonna says: if it feels good, do it. and it feels good, to speak one’s mind, to express, to caress the one you love with words, gestures, mind, body and soul. i sound like dorothy’s dog: cliché.
i found myself restrained from expressing my feelings. pretending to be content with that, rather than experiencing the disapproving contempt, i shrunk away having neither the courage nor will to break it. fear.
i would do everything. i did everything. sometimes i think i was offering him champagne when all he wanted was a glass of water. it’s difficult. he’s emotional vocabulary is limited. i ended up sidestepping anything that might give rise to the familiar pattern of accusations and performances. eventually i was dancing on a tightrope. and become just as tense around him. it was difficult not to love him, not to need him.
but i couldn’t relax, i was conscious of everything. make it better , more comfortable my dear? i turned into martha stewart. more broccoli dear? i started feeling responsible for the weather.
he could always worm himself out of any confrontation, not because he was clever but because i allowed him (which left most things unresolved for me). i tried to let it go. when it was bad. when it was good….so good. i suppose i got used to playing the fool.
i suspect i was mostly just insecure. i’m not anymore. but to be sure i sometimes still listen to roisin murphy: tell everybody.
i live in a city lined with jacaranda trees. in october is his birthday. they flower here at that time. it hurts. i also have a taurean mars. i love slow and deep. which is also code speak for hurting deep and healing slow.

i planted a combination of bougainvillea and calliandra in the bottom of the garden. i hope you like it.
i dont even know why i’m writing, i suppose it’s like telling a stranger at the corner shop he’s not alone and at the same time not feeling alone either. living in africa makes for a pretty dismembered existence. i’m a bit of a social pariah.
i never learnt to conform to what other people think. i suppose most dont. which is why i am still struggling with the concept of democracy. go figure. the black diaries of robert casement probably has something to do with it.
in the meantime i’m going through the motions of collecting music for my moments of despair and resentment. any and every distraction is brief. i probably only resent myself for allowing him to do this.
how did edmund white do it. i’d love to get his book on how to love, move on and not regret it. in the meantime i’m a sucker for sad lyrics and twinkly piano bits. with or without a beat.
recently matt alber is good this way especially the song: end of the world and the remix. i also came across raz o’hara. schmaltzy but so good over an al fresco dinner in summer.
i know only alain de botton and my friend johanna to suffer from this romantic movement. so, here’s to your 500th blog and finding you. keep weeding.

Comments are closed.