Clown and out

It was two and a half years ago that Boris Johnson won a landslide majority in a snap general election. It was a horrible day, knowing that a completely amoral, opportunist lazy chancer could be elevated to the highest office in the land.

Now he is (almost) gone, leaving a country in a much worse state than it was when he became Prime Minister. He has destroyed trust in politics through his dishonesty. He has elevated desperately unqualified people to high office. He has pursued a toxic culture war agenda that has turned people against each other and divided the country.

Good riddance to him, but be afraid, because whoever replaces him is going to be just as bad, if not worse.

As for everyone who enabled him to get to this point – the cabinet colleagues who propped him up, the newspaper editors who gave him columns, the Have I Got News For You producers who booked him, the journalists who failed to call out his lies, the pundits who made excuses for him – we see you, and we do not forgive… or forget.

IE was the future, once

Farewell, Internet Explorer, which officially retired today. It has already vanished from Windows 11, Microsoft’s latest and greatest operating system. Over the next few months, Microsoft is rolling out updates to Windows 10 which will encourage those few people still clicking on the big blue ‘e’ icon to switch to using Microsoft’s new browser, Edge.

Internet Explorer page showing the Microsoft web site about the browser's retirement

It’s all a long way from Internet Explorer’s heyday. IE launched in 1995 when the Web was a very different place – accessed through slow dial-up modem connections, still largely text-only, and mainly the preserve of tech geeks and Star Trek fans. The main web browser for PC users at the time was Netscape Navigator, which had been released in late 1994.

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Berl10n

Photo of the Brandenburg Gate

Today marks ten years since I first set foot in the city of Berlin. Since then I have banged on about it regularly at quite some length, to anyone who is prepared to listen (a list which grows shorter with every passing day). And on this momentous anniversary, I’m afraid I’m doing it again. I won’t stop until everyone I know has visited at least once, so hurry up and get on with it, people!

My first visit was with my aviation geek friend Andrew, who wanted to see the new airport that was due to open that summer (ha!). So, if you ever get bored of me going on about Berlin, blame Andrew for introducing me to the place.

First impressions were not brilliant. We landed at the old Schönefeld Airport, which seemed to have been run-down in anticipation of the new airport opening. The attached railway station had zero customer-facing staff, just a row of ticket machines that accepted only cash or German debit cards, with very little explanation to the many arriving visitors of what ticket to buy or what train to catch.

Fortunately, things could only get better, and we had a splendid time wandering the city, visiting museums, riding the U-Bahn and spilling out of gay bars in the early hours of the morning (ahem). By the end of the trip, I was completely enamoured with the place.

Berlin 2012, blogged: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.

Remnants of Berlin Wall on a street in the city centre

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“Hi.” “Hi.”

Note: I started writing this blog post last week. In the interim period, Netflix has decided, again, to provide a platform for obnoxious transphobia. My blog post is specifically about Heartstopper and nothing else, but I need to acknowledge that the platform that produced this beautiful programme is also pumping out some hacky anti-LGBTQ dreck.

The news that Heartstopper got renewed for two more seasons made my own heart skip for joy. The show, based on a series of graphic novels, based on a webcomic by Alice Oseman, has quickly become one of the most talked-about shows of 2022 so far.

For the uninitiated, Heartstopper follows Charlie, a gay teenager at an all-boys secondary school, who gets paired up with Nick, a boy from the year above. When Charlie joins Nick on the rugby team, a friendship quickly blossoms and develops into something deeper, as Nick is forced to confront his own sexuality.

Heartstopper characters Charlie and Nick look at each other in a promotional photo from the TV series

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Eurovision Wrong Contest

The FA Cup Final is today, but I am naturally more interested in the Gay FA Cup Final, namely Eurovision, which kicks off at 8pm tonight.

There’s lots of chatter about the UK’s entry this year. After several years of lacklustre performances, earning few points from either the jury or televote, the BBC has changed direction. This year, the UK has gone with an innovative, risky strategy of entering a decent song with a likeable performer. It seems to have paid off, as Space Man is actually being talked about as a possible winner. Sam Ryder immediately piqued my interest in his song by releasing a lyric video based on teletext, albeit fake teletext that was just unrealistic enough to annoy me.

But I don’t want to talk about the front-runners. No, I am far more interested in the poor artists who poured their heart and soul into their song and performance, only to get perfunctorily booted out at the semi-final stage. Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the performances that failed to get through because Europeans apparently wanted a load of tedious ballads instead.

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The Birdie Song

Firebird is a new film which has been doing the rounds on the LGBT film festival circuit for the last year or so, garnering mostly positive reviews. It has finally had a wider release, hence why I trekked out to Cheshire Oaks last week with a voucher code in my pocket.

Set on a military base in Soviet-occupied Estonia in 1977, Firebird tells the story of Sergey (Tom Prior), a young soldier in the Soviet army, who falls for his new commanding officer Roman (Oleg Zagorodnii). The pair embark on an illicit love affair, forced to keep it secret from everyone, in an era when homosexuality is very much illegal.

The film is based on the true story of Sergey Fetisov and his memoir A Tale about Roman. Sadly the real Sergey died in 2017, but he was able to provide his input to the cast and the director, Peeter Rebane, while the film was in pre-production, and the film is dedicated to his memory.

An added poignancy came from the knowledge that Oleg Zagorodnii, who plays Sergey’s clandestine lover, Roman, is not on the promotional tour for the film. Instead, he is in his home city of Kyiv, helping to defend Ukraine from another occupation.

Firebird is a wonderful piece of work. Beautifully filmed, with great performances from the cast – Prior and Zagorodnii are excellent and utterly believable as a couple.

Disappointingly, the film seems to be only on very limited release, but it is well worth seeking out.

Also… Tom Prior. Just look at him.

Firebird is on limited release in the UK, USA and probably some other places. Go to firebirdmovie.com for tickets and showtimes. It is released on DVD on 6th June.

Oops

One of the perks of work is that I get a TasteCard. Not only does it provide 2-for-1 offers on a range of restaurants, it also provides discounted cinema tickets.

So, when my friend Boris suggested we go to Vue Cinema on Sunday afternoon to see the new gay film Firebird, I naturally thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to use the card.

I logged on to the TasteCard website on Sunday, just before I left the house, to see how to get the offer. Unfortunately you cannot simply flash the card at the ticket desk. I needed to purchase a voucher code, which I would then redeem at the cinema.

So, I went through the purchase process and bought a code.

“Your code has been sent to your registered email address.”

Ah. There is a problem here: because I got the TasteCard through work, it is registered to my work email address. And our company email is locked down so the only way to access it is on my work laptop — which was in the office.

(I will add at this point that company policy is that employees should take their laptop home with them every night, but… meh)

Now, a lesser person would have just written off the £13 cost of the voucher codes. But not I! My security fob gives 24/7 access to the office building, and I had a twenty minute window between getting off the train and getting the bus to Cheshire Oaks. Would that be enough time to get from the station to the office, then to the bus stop?

As it turns out — yes! A quick speed-mince across town and I was in and out of the office in less than five minutes. It would have been even less time, had I not had to wait for the laser printer to warm up.

So, if the security guards at the office were watching the CCTV on Sunday and saw someone dash in, leg it up three flights of stairs, dash into the office, turn on his laptop and the laser printer, quickly print off a voucher, and leg it back down the stairs, they don’t need to worry – it was just me.

What is the point of this blog? Nothing really, except to illustrate the lengths I will go to in order to save a few quid.

I then got rinsed for £3.99 for a Coke Zero at the cinema refreshment stand. BAH.

(Firebird itself was excellent, look out for a separate post about that soon)

The Shrine on Lord Street

I was rightly told off for posting this on Twitter, because it contained spoilers for Killing Eve. It was an honest mistake – I thought the series had finished, but it actually has one episode to go if you are watching weekly on linear TV.

So, if you have NOT finished watching the series, or are waiting for the final episode to be shown on BBC One rather than binging on iPlayer, STOP READING NOW!

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Two years

Will it ever get any easier?

As someone who couldn’t see my mother in hospital until the very final hours of her life, and then could only attend her funeral with six other people, I am naturally enjoying the “well actually the rules were silly and everyone broke them anyway” discourse in Toryland over the past few days. Shitheads, the lot of them.

No context iPad

Apple, at one of its periodic “look how great we are” events, has unveiled a new iPad Air. It’s the 5th generation model! It’s Star Trek: Enterprise!

I’m probably going to buy one to replace my iPad Air 2, which has served me well over the years, but is now on its last legs. It’s slow, turns itself off at random points, and last week the screen suddenly developed the weird affliction seen below. It’s great if you’re a fan of psychedelia, less so if you want to browse the web.

iPad screen showing various glitches, including incorrect colours and parts of previous screens remaining on screen

Apple’s marketing likes to tout the benefits of the iPad as a creative powerhouse, a complete system for work and play. Me, I use it mainly to browse the web and find memes to post on Twitter. Every time I see an amusing or strange photo, I save it in the library, ready to drop into an @-reply, clock up those likes and retweets, and release that sweet, sweet dopamine.

The thing is, half of the pictures I find, I never actually post for one reason or another. The photo library on my iPad is now full of stuff that has accumulated over the past seven years. I’m sure they would have made excellent Tweets, had I remembered to actually post them, but in many cases the reason I saved them is lost to time.

BUT… it seems a shame to waste all these images, so here for your entertainment is a selection from my iPad photo library. There is zero context for any of these images, because I don’t have any. Enjoy!

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