Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Malaga Cathedral

The cathedral dominates the centre of Malaga, Here is a short film I took on Sunday in and around the cathedral.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


I have now returned to the UK from Malaga. Spent 30 minutes freezing cold at Finsbury Park station realising why I like Malaga so much.

I took a few videos on my flip. I am only just realising that it is best not to use the zoom and to keep the camera still. But anyway here is a view of the local beach in Malaga.

Sunday, 24 May 2009


We are spending a few days at our flat in the centre of Malaga. It is a chance to relax away from the stress of working life.

I had a great birthday on Wednesday spending a few hours on the Malagueta beach before heading for dinner at our favourite restaurant in Malaga, the Vino Mio. Helene was great, giving us free Cava before the meal and a free bottle of wine to take home. And the meal, as always, was fantastic.

I have managed a few hours on the beach every day, although there was quite a strong wind yesterday and today. And the rest of the time has been spent wandering round Malaga chilling out. I am feeling very calm.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Pushing for freedom

In the past I have always had admiration for Peter Tatchell while at the same time not always being in agreement with his methods. But during the last 30 years, the winning of equality for the LGBT has come from a combination of the quiet diplomacy of Stonewall and the more direct action of Outrage.

After what happened to Peter two years ago in Moscow, it was courageous of him to return to show solidarity for those who simply wanted to march peacefully in Moscow on Saturday asking for equal human rights.

It was inevitable that the Moscow authorities would ruthlessly suppress the demonstration and so they did. I was disappointed that no entrant in the Eurovision Song Contest showed any sign of solidarity with those who are arrested.

I have been on a number of demonstrations in the past, most notably against Section 28. But I would not have the courage to do what Peter did, not the courage of Nickolai Alekseev who has put his head above the parapet. So I can only express my admiration for them.

Thursday, 14 May 2009


I was born in the North of Scotland. I was christened in the Church of Scotland (Hilton Church, Inverness), went to Sunday School in the Church of Scotland (Crown Church, Inverness) and even today, when my belief is somewhat shaky, I occasionally, when back in Scotland, go with my father to the local Church of Scotland (North Church, Keith).

My fundamental beliefs have changed, but I always at least had the comfort that the Church of Scotland was more modern and more tolerant than, for example, the Church of England or the Catholic Church.

Now that assumption is being challenged. An assistant minister at Brechin Cathedral, Scott Rennie, has applied to become minister at the Queens Cross Church in Aberdeen. He came up to that church, preached a sermon, met the congregation and told them all about himself. They then voted, as is the custom within the Church of Scotland, and over 80% of the congregation supported him as their new minister.

And there it should have finished. An unremarkable story and part of the ongoing progression of ministers within the Church.

But a dozen people at the Queens Cross Church objected to his appointment. And instead of bowing to the democratic process, they determined to overturn the decision. Was he a poor preacher? No. Was he in an unstable relationship? No. So what was so objectionable about him? His partner was of the same sex.

He had been completely open about this when he subjected himself to the congregational vote. But that didn't matter. And now these 12 people have got 7000 names on a petition, most of them outside Scotland. They have the support of fundamentalist American churches. And apparently they now have the support of over 20% of all Church of Scotland ministers. So the full committee of the Church of Scotland have to decide whether to ratify the decision of the congregation of Queens Cross Church. Or overturn it.

My view is straightforward (no pun intended). If a Christian church does not preach love, tolerance and understanding, then it loses all credibility. If it panders to the dogma of those advocating hatred, however many of them there are, it loses its fundamental goodness. And if it moves back hundreds of years instead of moving forward through the 21st century, it loses its relevance.

The decision is not difficult. It should support Scott Rennie, support his congregation and ratify the appointment. In this way it can once again be a vibrant church at the heart of the community in Scotland.

Will it make the decision in that way? Watch this space.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Dear Diary

I was tidying the garage this morning and came across some old diaries. They make interesting reading for me and help me remember how I saw things at the time. In particular I was looking at diaries from 1979 and 1989 - 30 and 20 years ago respectively.

On 12 Feb 1979, I started my entry as follows. 'I am writing the first part of today's report in the morning in case I don't survive the whole day'

Yes I know - melodramatic as ever! And then I continued. 'The shooting has been incessant and very close to us. At one point this morning, Richard and I were in the back yard listening to the gunfire when a bullet whizzed past us and embedded itself in the wall about three feet above us. Never have I felt so close to death. Never have I been so scared.'

Yet here am I 30 years later, fit and well. Reasonably fit and reasonably well, at least. Certainly still alive.

In 1979 I was living and working in Teheran. We found ourselves in the middle of the Iranian revolution. In February, we were house-sitting for a Swedish client who had taken his family back to Sweden because the situation was too dangerous for them. But not apparently too dangerous to ask us to look after his house. Which just happened to be situated close to Niavaran Palace where the bulk of the fighting was taking place that day.

Later that day I wrote - 'The airport is closed so our journey away from all this, though increasingly necessary, appears less likely. I moved my bed away from the window for safety and was woken up many times during the night by barrages of machine gun fire'.

The surreal aspect of it was was highlighted in my entry the next day. ' This evening we had an enjoyable Chinese meal but were stopped twice on the way home by gunmen'.

Anyway a couple of days later, the RAF flew an evacuation flight into Teheran airport and we scrambled aboard. And off we went to RAF Akrotiri. The Iran adventure was over.

30 years later, I have never returned to Iran. But I want to. The people were friendly, the countryside was amazing and the whole adventure was a fascinating part of my life. I have watched over the past 30 years as the Americans have adopted the wrong policy over Iran and have strengthened the hardliners. I just hope Barak Obama might assist the bulk of the Iranian people who just want to live their lives in peace and security following their own religion and their own lifestyle without interference. And one day I still hope to return, albeit just for a holiday.

Then I had a look at my diary for 1989. Exactly 20 years ago today, I went to the Place Theatre to see a performace by Wim Vanderkeybus. And yes I still remember that performance.

The weather in May 1989 was hot. On my birthday on the 20th, I had been playing tennis with Jon, Sue and Denise and they gave me a cake. Again I remember that day. Sadly, I have no idea where Denise is, and I have been very lax at keeping in touch with Jon and Sue.

And work was a bit fraught in May 1989. I was working at the Royal Festival Hall and the finances were not good. I was doing the management accounts and delivering bad news, which did not go down very well. But we got through that period and I worked there for another 16 years.

My personal life was rather complicated in 1989. I was still coming to terms with my sexuality. I had met David in Southampton and was having an emotional roller-coaster with Howard. I had started to go to Turning Point and had discovered gay theatre. But I was still going out with Liz.

At the end of the year, the end of the decade, I wrote the following in my diary. ' Above all the eighties have been a decade of wasted opportunities, of playing safe.' I think I learned over the next 20 years that that was not good enough. And I am in a better place now because of that. Once again I quote the Buddha - 'As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you may miss most of your life'. I think I do now fill my life with being where I am rather than regretting the past or worrying about the future. And that's good.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Bank Holiday golf

I have been down in Weston-super-Mare for three days playing golf with the Irons Golf Society. It has been a really enjoyable three days, although my golf scores - 36pts, 30pts and 28 pts - moved in the wrong direction! Mainly, though, it has been great to catch up with those guys I know but haven't seen for some time, and to meet some new guys as well. I am grateful to the whole group for their friendliness and for being fun to be with. Grateful, also, to the guys who organised the weekend so well.

The weather was good, if a bit windy. And I enjoyed all three courses, the three 'W's - Worlebury, Woodlands and Wedmore.

Here is the short (and slightly out of focus) video I took.