Archives for posts with tag: Peter Cushing

You know how much I love Whitstable?  That would be one of my ‘weak tea‘ successes:  my relationship with Whitstable.

I love it there.  I know everyone.  We really know each other.  For good and for bad.

Well, today I received some very, very sad news.  My Mother‘s friend Carol who owns the Tudor Tea Rooms on Harbour Street…well..and this is terrible…her son Tony died.

Known affectionately as Wally to everyone who knew him, he was only 40 years old, tall, gentle, ran his mother’s business with aplomb.

When you order a pot of tea at The Tudor Tea Rooms you get a pot of tea made with loose tea and a strainer.  Quality.

We used to say that they served school dinners at the Tudor but we loved going in there.  Fire burning in the hearth all winter.  Closed on a Wednesday.  Real steak and kidney pudding with a thick suet crust.

Wally was killed during the day on the train tracks at the end of Glebe Way.  Struck by the coast-bound 11.22am Victoria to Ramsgate train just before 1pm.  I have no idea if he committed suicide or not.  That’s what people are saying but I really don’t want to believe it.

He was such a nice man.  Wally and his sister Sue had run that Tudor Tea Room since they were kids.  Since we were all kids.  Serving Steak and Kidney Pudding…opening the tea garden.  He was the sort of bloke you’d see in Prezzo Pizza Place with his young family.

As every Whitstable pub and every other shop front became yet another super chic gastro pub or seasonal/organic eaterie…the Tudor kept the same decor, the same menu, serving the same Whitstable us who didn’t want the bother of seared scallops or poached samphire.

My Mother and I saw Wally just a few weeks ago when I was home for Christmas.  He served us a good old-fashioned English roast.   My mother mocked me for drinking tea with my lunch…like ‘some one from a council house‘ she said.

He stood at the till and asked after my life in LA.  I felt embarrassed to tell him what my life was like in California.  What he didn’t know…what he could never have known…was what I was thinking that cold December day a week before Christmas:  that I would have quite easily traded my life in Malibu for a chance at running the Tudor Tea Rooms.

From where I was standing…his life looked perfect.

When I was a kid we would sit in the Tudor Tea Rooms and spy on Peter Cushing eating his poached eggs.

Poached eggs on toast.  Every day.

My mother accidentally pushed Peter Cushing off his bike one day when she was getting off the bus from Canterbury.

Anyway, Wally was killed on the railway lines.  The third person killed in the same spot in less than two months.  What’s happening?  What a waste of a good life, a sweet family man.  I feel for his wife and children, his sister Sue and his lovely mum Carol.

If you get the chance listen to this Jellybotty’s track, Peter Cushing Lives in Whitstable.

It mentions the Tudor Tea Rooms.


Goodbye Wally.

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Whitstable life.

Actress Fay Ripley has moved into the house opposite my old place.   Saw her today in the most elegant shearling coat and big glasses.   Celebrities stalk my home town…jabbering away loudly on mobile phones.

Even the little houses beyond the High Street that I never thought would be interesting to London people are now 300k and never on the market for longer than a few weeks.

Recession?  Where is it?

I am still really pleased I sold both my houses.

I never really liked the Peter Cushing house (number 3 Seaway Cottages) it was large and draughty and I think I must have been to the beach maybe twice in 13 years.  The beach was the front garden..but I am not a beach man.

I really loved the other house (number 2 Seaway Cottages), the house next door that I renovated from scratch.  It looked superb by the time I finished with it.

I poked my nose through the door yesterday and the Anthony Gormley coat pegs are still in place.  The rather beautiful kitchen lamps have been replaced by ugly, modern, cheap looking, brushed aluminum sconces.   Everything else is just as I left it.  The fig tree in the garden has been severely pruned as it should be.

I had an unfortunate incident on Sunday night.  Went to see my friend Cathy for dinner but she was so drunk I turned on my heels and left the house.

Last night, through a genuine blizzard, walked to an NA meeting.  I looked like a snow man when I got there.  Expecting the worst (crack addicts) but instead met with a group of sober people with surprisingly good, modern recovery.

It was great.

Sometimes I think that NA has more to do with SAA than AA.  The Step work and traditions of NA as written in the Green and Gold Book have really appropriate text for addicts of any kind sex/drugs/drink.

I had lots to write about the past couple of days but…the memories escape me right now.

Long walks with the little dog around the golf course.   Tea with Georgina and family.   Sunday lunch time went to the Monument Pub and ate roast pork with crackling.  Entertained myself with the Monument Football Team who are all, every single a man…GORGEOUS.

Ate home-made pate today for lunch with Carol before she crawled into her workshop…you know she’s a potter?  A ceramicist?

Back in LA Ashley tells me that the waterfall that thunders under the Malibu house drive is thundering nicely.    By the time I get back the garden will be a jungle.  I was worried that the new road would be washed away.  I bloody hope not.

The sun’s gone dim,

The moon’s turned black,

For I loved him,

He didn’t love back.

21/12/09 – 21/12/10  Adieu my darling.

Dione Sofa

8am.  I didn’t go get the biopsy.  Something is stopping me.  I don’t want to know the truth.  Just like I didn’t want to know the truth about him.  Some truths are just too hard to face.

I am aware of the dull thump in my ball sack and in my lower back.  Like somebody is gripping my left testicle.

One of Jake’s friends wrote to me saying, and even though inaccurate, I really liked the quote, “We have all had diamonds thrown in our face.”   It was lyrical and charming.  He could have added darling to the phrase.  It would have worked perfectly.

Anyway, interesting day yesterday after I published the Irene blog.  She, of course, is threatening the IRS and an internet fraud investigation.   The problem is..I do my taxes, really thoroughly.  It’s not worth doing them any other way.   I am not feeling so feisty today.

I remain teachable.

Last night something rather remarkable happened.  I met a man a year and a half ago who is perhaps a dream of a guy.  That dream of that perfect man.  Beautiful in every way.  When we first met he explained that he was anxious about his sexuality, we had talked it through but nothing happened.  I had wondered about him occasionally, mentioned him to Jake even,  but had not contacted him.

Yesterday I received a blunt email from him asking if I wanted to explore his curiosity about men.

I thought about it for a nano second and invited him over.

So, last night we had a very steamy session with each other but I wasn’t engaged.  I felt distant, absent..and not really ready to have sex with anyone else.  I didn’t even want to kiss him. It is odd this morning to wake up with the smell of some other man on your fingers.   I knew that it had to happen sooner or later..somebody else but it’s still too early.   I tell you, I don’t envy men like Jake who can sport fuck but the healthy alternative is such a lengthy process.  We all agree that if I had been a sport fucker I would have been dead a very long time ago.

Why was his coming to see me last night so remarkable?  Because I was always warned in AA to be careful what I prayed for.  Getting what you want when God wants you to have it rather than when you want it can be very ungratifying.

Peter Doig painting in my bedroom 1982 Boom Boom Boom (The Sublime)

Is getting to know a man before you sleep with them so bizarre?   So when the moment happens, one is present and authentic?  After all,  Jake and I talked for months before we finally fell into each others arms.

Perhaps he can do that with anyone?  Perhaps a period of total abstinence is what I need?

I could have let things just stay the way they were, letting him tell me about his conquests but by the time we returned from Europe I just knew that merely having him in my life would be too disruptive.

I did not want that young man to stick around last night.  He left and I lay on the red Victorian sofa I have owned for twenty-six years.  I began to doze.  There was something very comforting about laying there.  The over stuffed arms, the familiarity.   The constant presence of that sofa in my life.  Dione bought it for me in Edinburgh in 1984.  It was on the street outside a junk shop and it was desperate to be loved.  I covered it in white ticking, the first of 4 times it has been reupholstered.  Jake was three when I bought that sofa.  Unexpectedly Dione’s daughter wrote to me yesterday.  She’s a sweet heart.

Things have given me more pleasure than the men I have loved.

So, the young man left the house at 2am.  I don’t think I’ll be seeing him again.

The picture at the top of the page was taken in my Whitstable house, the house that belonged to Peter Cushing.  The red sofa wearing it’s blue slip cover.

Duncan 6 Years Old

The lively town of Whitstable is protected from the shallow Swale by two 17th Century Dutch built dykes on the North Kent Coast, England.  The town is primarily known for the large, flat native oysters growing wild and prolifically in the shallow estuary waters close to the caramel shingle beach.

The British film star Peter Cushing, famous for Hammer Horror films, lived there with his wife Helen.  Once, getting off a bus, my mother accidentally knocked him off his bicycle.  Years later I bought Peter Cushing’s beachside house.

When I was a little boy I sang in the choir at St Alphage, Anglican Church.  My mother told me she thought I would make a very good vicar.  Not because I was particularly pious but she knew how much I loved dressing up in my cassock and ruff.  Sometimes I would steal the cassock out of the church and wear it around the house… much to the consternation of my family.

I loved singing carols, hymns and psalms.  I particularly loved singing psalms.  The low growl the organ made when we sang those difficult psalms.  I loved evensong when the church was candle lit and half empty.   I loved singing at weddings because we got paid.

During the day the large organist worked in Tattersalls the butchers.  She wore floral dresses and flat black plastic slippers.  She looked funny in the mortarboard the ladies wore in the church.   She always smiled.  I think she may be still alive.  That’s what my hometown is like.  We knew each and every one.  The men who worked the harbour, the women who worked in the supermarket and the schools.

The antique shops on Harbour St. attracted unusual and eccentric men and women trawling for treasures driving expensive and exotic cars.  That’s where I met my first, fabulous gay men.

In the early morning I worked a paper round.  Waking at 5 in all weathers delivering papers.  I loved the smell of newsprint in the newsagent, the smell of burning paraffin.

Inquisitive little boy that I was I wanted to be involved in everything.  I explored the graveyards, the football pitches, the cricket ground.  I walked the golf course; I explored the beach huts and knew every inch of the beach from Seasalter to Swalecliff.  I joined any club/organization that would have me: the drama club, the Anglican choir, and the barley cup drinking Mormons, the silent Quakers, and the theatrical Catholics.  I knew every shop and every shopkeeper.  I wanted to know about furniture and the names of flowers and trees.  I would wait on the quay for the fishing boats to dock and watch the men sort the fish for Billingsgate market.  If a particular house looked interesting I would knock on the door and ask to be let inside.   I was rarely turned away.  The only building I couldn’t get into was the Masonic temple.

I was there when the oysters landed, mixed with hundreds of orange starfish.  I was there when the vicar blessed the catch.  When the yawls raced on the Swale with their great umber sails, when the sea flooded the town, when the bonfires burned on November 5th I was always there.

In fact, I would do anything I could NOT to be at home.  You know why.  All of you.

I am no stranger to organised religion and village life.  For the longest time I really thought that I might want to sign up and wear the cassock and the mitre and preach the gospels until… until I realised that whilst my church tolerated a boy gay they didn’t want anything to do with a man gay.  In fact, apart from the drama club and the Quakers, none of the clubs/churches were very happy to include me or men like me.  You see, I made no secret of my gayness.  Never. EVER.

Recently I got to thinking about why that would be so.  Why didn’t they want shameless gays in their churches?  I thought about a thousand years of Christianity.  I can’t imagine some gays weren’t then exactly like we are now: a bunch of cynical iconoclasts.  I mean, a couple of queens squealing in the back of a medieval church kind of destroys the control the clergy expect to exert over it’s congregation.   Do you know what I mean?

Certainly, where I come from, the gays can’t keep their mouths shut… they have opinions about everything.  It wasn’t always so bad for gays in the community, we weren’t always burned at the stake.  Not until Queen Victoria and the new Puritanism.  Just look at our rich tranny history.  Check out Fanny and Stella a couple of fabulous 17th century drag queen who trolled up Burlington Arcade in their bustles and feathered hats.  They were always in court but always got away with it.  Can you imagine those girls in Westminster Abbey being FIERCE with the ushers?

This is my problem with gay marriage and organized religion.  We are better than that!  We know it’s a corrupt institution.   Don’t we?  When did we start straying away from our own rich culture?  The language and locations of our gay lives?  When did we stop being so brave?  Brave enough to defend what we have rather than assume that what they have is better?

Why are we fighting for marriage in a church?  You know, I’d be happy just to be protected.   That I can walk on the street where I live holding my lovers hand.  Call me old fashioned but all this gay marriage stuff is just nonsense.

As much as I believe in God, I want to do it my way and the Bishops and the Deacons knew that.  The funny thing is, most of them were gay but they weren’t like ‘us’.  They knew we weren’t the kind of folk (us vulgar gay boys) who were going to buckle down and not raise the occasional plucked eye brow at the badly written sermon, make inappropriate, ribald remarks about the cute new pastor.

We just couldn’t be controlled because that’s the way we are.  Our culture, up until now, has been about innuendo and barbed truths.  You see, darling, my relationship with God was forged through adversity.  I needed God in my life because he gave me solace, fortitude and hope.  My relationship with God means that I am never alone.

When I was drinking I would listen to torch songs and pray that he would come, that’s the kind of God I have-one who listens to Judy and Barbra.

I’m just trying to understand who I am in relation to the church.  There’s an imagined homo history that we have to explore-read between the lines.  I don’t think the church (a thousand years ago) gave two hoots about what men did in bed but was terribly threatened by our candour, fearlessness and what made us the ‘other’.  I’m not talking about those men who are silenced by fear I’m talking about those of us who live out and proud..  The two tribes of gay: the trannies and the down low.

Duncan Ivan and Christopher 1982

“At Marlborough Street Court, when the assistant gaoler Scott called out “Ernest Cole,” a person looking like a well-dressed woman stepped into the dock and gravely faced Mr. Denman, the presiding magistrate. No one would have imagined that the prisoner, who was attired in a black fur-trimmed winter mantle, large black feathered hat and veil, and carried a muff and neat hang-bag was a man. It was alleged that the prisoner was a suspected person loitering in Oxford-street presumably for the purpose of committing a felony. Detective Gittens, D Division, deposed that, while in company with Detective Dyer, he saw the prisoner in Oxford-street on Monday evening. The prisoner was behaving like a disorderly female. He went up to the prisoner, and told him that he believed him to be a man. The prisoner endeavoured to escape by jumping on to an omnibus.”

The Times, January 2, 1901