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Perking The Pansies Blog
Imagine the absurdity of two openly gay, married, middle aged, middle class men escaping the liberal sanctuary of anonymous London to relocate to a Muslim country. I chronicled our exploits with the mad, the sad, the bad and the glad in a blog for the whole world to ignore. Then came the book which became a critically acclaimed best seller. Its success opened out a whole new career for me as an author. Who'd have thought it? Certainly not me. In June 2012, we ended our Anatolian affair and paddled back to Britain on the evening tide, washing up in Norwich, a surprising city in eastern England. I’m sometimes nostalgic for our encounters with the hopeless, the hapless and, yes, the happy go lucky. They gave me an unexpected tale to tell and for this I thank them. Act Two, Turkey Street, is out now in print and digital editions.
2023-09-23 09:00
Sleepy Frikes on the idyllic island of Ithaca was simply sublime – serene and restorative. The peace was broken only by the ringing of goat bells in the surrounding hills and wind chim… Read More
2023-09-16 09:00
It’s often been said that old Norwich town once had a pub for every day of the week and a church for every Sunday. But as we discovered on our recent Hidden Street Tour with The Shoebo… Read More
2023-09-09 09:00
We first heard about one of Norwich’s secrets in the local rag and decided to give it a whirl courtesy of The Shoebox Experiences. It just so happens that under their community hub on… Read More
2023-09-01 23:00
I gloriously misspent my youth trawling the sleazy dives of many of the world’s great metropolitan sin bins – London, Amsterdam, Paris, New York and Los Angeles among them &ndash&hell…Read More
2023-08-25 23:00
I’m off-air while Liam and I are perking our pansies on Ithaca. Thankfully, Odysseus’ fabled isle has escaped the terrible wildfires that have torched Southern Europe – and… Read More
2023-08-19 09:00
According to Homer – the ancient bard that is, not Simpson – it took Odysseus ten years to make it back to his gaff on Ithaca following the Trojan War. Clearly the legendary and… Read More
2023-08-07 08:23
It’s well known that these little islands have some of the toughest gun laws this side of the Milky Way. It’s possible to legally own a gun but for very specific reasons only &nd&hell…Read More
2023-07-29 09:00
I’ve always had a fu*k ’em attitude to authority, particularly the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do hypocrites. You know the kind of thing: politicians preaching ‘family values&rsqu&hell…Read More
2023-07-22 09:00
We’ve become part-time groupies for our local village bowls team. To the uninitiated, bowls is a traditional sport beloved of the grey herd in which the objective is to roll… Read More
2023-07-15 09:00
We returned from our nostalgic dalliance in Dalyan to water trickling down our dining room wall. Okay, it’s a bit of a stretch to call it an actual dining room. It’s more of a di… Read More
2023-07-08 08:21
I looked around the tidy cemetery. It was serenely silent except for the sound of birdsong and the trickle of water from the mouths of the dolphins in their petrified embrace. It calmed me… Read More
2023-07-01 09:00
It’s been a quarter of a century since I last visited Dalyan on Turkey’s pine-clad south-west coast. Back in the day, it was a sleepy village on a dreamy, reed-lined river stuffe… Read More
2023-06-24 09:00
The definition of boredom is cleaning out the bathroom extractor fan with an old toothbrush. Let’s face it, there’s only so much knick-knack dusting a boy can do when home alone… Read More
2023-06-17 09:00
Liam is away visiting an old friend from his wayward early years as a young gay about town. They worked and played together when Liam did a proper job with a pension attached. It’s the… Read More
2023-06-03 09:30
We binned the car in 2014 so, unsurprisingly, good public transport is important to us. That’s why we chose a village close to Norwich with a decent bus service – regular and rel… Read More
2023-05-27 09:00
Essex, the home county to the east of London, has the reputation of being, well, a bit chavvy. But there’s more to Essex than big hair, gaudy bling, fake tans, assisted tits and imposs… Read More
2023-05-20 09:00
Shortly after we moved to the village, the good lady wife of our local pub landlord popped round to the cottage with a housewarming gift. She said, “I saw this and thought of you&rdquo&hell…Read More
2023-05-13 09:00
Yes, it’s that time of year again when the technicolor travelling circus that is Eurovision rolls into town. After Ukraine’s win last year, the tele-moguls wisely decided against… Read More
2023-05-06 09:00
My dad took the King’s shilling in the late forties and made a career out of soldiering for the next twenty-something years. Despite swearing allegiance to the monarch, Dad was a soft… Read More
2023-04-29 09:00
Spam is just like tax and death – unavoidable. Crafty spammers, scammers and crooks, enhanced by even craftier AI, are at it night and day finding even more ingenious ways to get us to… Read More
2023-04-22 09:00
For our fifteenth wedding anniversary we were itching for a big city scratch with a difference. Despite my heathen leanings, I do like an impressive church, and few are more impressive than… Read More
2023-04-08 09:00
When, in the late seventies, I took my first tentative steps onto London’s knock-and-enter gay scene, facial hair was all the rage. Walk into any smoky dive bar and you’d be conf… Read More
2023-04-01 09:00
As a superannuated member of the grumpy grey herd, I still read newspapers, those quaintly old-fashioned printed sheets of paper that leave ink smudges on your fingers. I recently read in on… Read More
2023-03-29 13:03
We awoke this morning to the sad news that Paul O’Grady, AKA Lily Savage drag queen extraordinaire, has died. Even though I didn’t know Paul personally, somehow it still feels li… Read More
2023-03-25 10:28
A big birthday deserves a big show and they don’t get much bigger than ABBA Voyage at the specially constructed ABBA Arena in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Discretion pr… Read More
2023-03-18 10:00
Times are hard and, like so many others, the Maddermarket Theatre, former chapel and the spiritual home of am-dram in Norwich, is feeling the pinch. They desperately need an injection of cas… Read More
2023-03-11 10:00
Every month without fail, Chet Contact drops on the mat. Produced by the Chet Valley Churches, the community magazine is packed with handy information about local community groups and servic… Read More
2023-03-04 10:00
We were struck down with the dreaded lurgy over the festive period and it just went on and on. What’s a boy to do when he’s at his lowest ebb, snot-wise, and he needs to perk up… Read More
2023-02-25 10:00
The last time I was at a school play, I was in a school play. That was 1976 and it was Midsummer Night’s Dream. No, I wasn’t typecast as one of the fairies. Shame on you for thin… Read More
2023-02-18 10:00
  A glitter bomb of drag queens in outrageous slap and the highest heels sashayed onto the stage at Norwich’s Theatre Royal to add a little glamour to the naughty but nice musical… Read More
2023-02-11 10:00
A feel-good flick is the surest way to chase away those midwinter blues and they don’t come more feel-good than A Man Called Otto, with an unusually brittle Tom Hanks in the title role… Read More
2023-02-04 10:00
Back in 2008, the eccentric old fella next door bought my London Victorian terrace in Walthamstow. One fateful evening he popped round with his chequebook and asked, “How much?”… Read More
2023-01-28 10:00
Our first film of 2023 was ‘Empire of Light’ written and directed by Sam Mendes and set around a grand old art deco cinema in a forlorn English seaside resort during the early ni… Read More
2023-01-21 10:00
According to those in the know, as most of us took precautions during the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic – social distancing, mask-wearing, hand-washing and all that jazz &ndash&hell…Read More
2023-01-14 10:00
The weather outside is dull and drizzly so it must be pantomime season, just the thing to chase away those winter blues. Panto is a centuries-old theatrical tradition which has evolved into… Read More
2023-01-07 10:00
Last year New Year’s Eve pyrotechnics were all big bangs but no punters. The pandemic saw to that. This year, punters were back in force, lining the banks of the Thames. To mark their… Read More
2022-12-31 10:00
All in all it’s been a strange year and this is clearly reflected in my most-read random ramblings. Top of the pansy pops included the death of the Queen and the death of my Queen &nda&hell…Read More
2022-12-24 10:00
I’ve never been religious. Despite singing hymns and reciting the Lord’s Prayer in school assemblies back in my kiddie years, the whole God thing pretty much washed over me witho… Read More
2022-12-21 10:00
Yes, folks, it’s that time of year when big money is lavished on those big-budget Yuletide TV ads with a social conscience – ads to make you smile, make you cry and make you thin… Read More
2022-12-17 10:00
With energy costs and inflation as they are, for many, going under is the new getting by. This year, Christmas will be particularly tough. Village people hereabouts know how it is and don&rs&hell…Read More
2022-12-11 17:00
After a ridiculously warm November, we’ve been hit by an early winter arctic snap. Newly abandoned spiders’ webs are frozen in time, autumn leaves are cracked and brittle. It&rsq&hell…Read More
2022-12-10 10:00
Money’s tight right now and when school budgets get squeezed something has to give. And what gives tends to be non-core activities like music, dance and drama. It’s understandabl… Read More
2022-12-03 10:00
Last year I acquired my very own online troll from across the pond who accused me loudly and often of conspiring with her ex in a sustained campaign of hate against her. She ranted at me, se… Read More
2022-11-26 10:00
After an unseasonably warm October with elderly chaps flashing their knobbly knees to all and sundry on the streets, November has cooled down nicely, with ever-shorter days, damp nights and… Read More
2022-11-19 10:00
Despite coming from a football-obsessed family and a football-obsessed country in a football-obsessed world, I’ve little interest in the beautiful game. But starting tomorrow it’… Read More
2022-11-12 10:00
Once upon a time a long time ago, a pretty girl was swept off her feet by a dashing young corporal in a smart uniform and a devilish twinkle in his eye. Plucked from a small town in Ireland… Read More
2022-11-05 10:00
Norwich’s Maddermarket Theatre has an eclectic offering coming up in the next few months judging by the ‘what’s on’ brochure that dropped on our mat. Patrons can sele… Read More
2022-10-30 10:00
As dedicated friends of Dorothy, it’s been a long old slog along the yellow brick road back to Oz. Two years later than planned because of COVID, we finally arrived at the Emerald City… Read More
2022-10-24 09:00
Another year passes, another joint birthday to mark. These days we prefer doing rather than giving so this year we decided to do a bit more of London by taking in a big wheel, a few sharks a… Read More
2022-10-22 09:00
Our green and usually pleasant land contains an intricate patchwork of regional accents and dialects with a constantly shifting lexicon of words and idioms, syntax and sounds. Despite the en… Read More
2022-10-15 09:00
In Bury St Edmunds, obviously – or is he? The cute Suffolk market town might be the final resting place of St Edmund, ninth-century Christian king of East Anglia. Allegedly, he was cut… Read More
2022-10-08 09:00
Nearly three years down the line, we really thought we’d dodged the COVID bullet. But then our luck ran out. While in Bulgaria, we both started to develop a cough – nothing too o… Read More
2022-10-01 09:00
We got the hot gossip washed down with Bulgarian plonk we were hoping for. But that didn’t mean our entire trip was a non-stop booze-fest. In between top-ups, we did manage to drink in… Read More
2022-09-24 09:00
We’re parachuting into Bulgaria for a few days to catch up with a couple of former Bodrum Belles from our Turkey days. They upped sticks and left Turkey soon after we did. Whereas we w… Read More
2022-09-17 09:00
At the tender age of 12, Rob put on a full-blown Disney parade for his giggly Grandma. In dodgy wigs and improvised costumes, he gave her Ariel, Belle, Mary Poppins and Mickey Mouse while do… Read More
2022-09-03 09:00
We have old friends in Torquay, a palm tree-lined seaside resort in Devon. We hadn’t seen them in ages because of the pandemic, so a catch-up was well overdue. All roads lead to London… Read More
2022-08-27 16:02
Take Steel Magnolias, add a dash of Thelma and Louise, a big dollop of Burl Ives in a white linen suit, sprinkle with slapstick, mix with some catchy toons, then serve. This is Waitress, an… Read More
2022-08-20 09:00
Over the past decade Norwich has seen an invasion of psychedelic mountain gorillas, a parade of glittery elephants, the flight of the camp dragons, a husk of vivid hares… Read More
2022-08-13 09:00
Our rainbow day came hot on the heels of the opening ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham earlier that week. Eccentric, multicultural and with a distinctly steampunk feel, i… Read More
2022-08-06 09:00
Last Saturday Norwich Pride was back painting the town pink after a three-year absence because of you know what. And it was back with a bang – bigger, brasher and better than ever. Our… Read More
2022-07-30 09:00
We returned from our glorious Greek idyll to a heatwave and an invasion of tiny black ants. The little buggers were climbing up and down our narrow cottage stairs, marching across our dining… Read More
2022-07-23 09:00
After flying into Corfu, we had some time to kill before our ferry to Paxos so we dropped off our suitcases at left luggage and went for a casual stroll around Corfu Town. Suddenly the skies… Read More
2022-07-09 09:00
After the big letdown that was our Canarian getaway – cancelled flight, greyish skies, cool-ish nights, sad face, sad face – a Greek treat is next on the holiday agenda. We fly t… Read More
2022-07-02 09:00
Perking the Pansies runs on WordPress, the blogosphere top dog. And being best in breed, it comes with a catch-all spam filter called Akismet which keeps the smelly trolls at bay. It’s… Read More
2022-06-25 09:00
Gay, resilient, easy to clean, good to look at, made to take plenty of knocks and with a life of give and take. Just the ticket for a hunky handyman in a checked shirt, and a steal at five s… Read More
2022-06-18 09:00
A decade has now passed since we closed the door on the stone house in Bodrum for the last time and brought our four-year Turkish adventure to a sudden end. And ever since, while the world h… Read More
2022-06-11 09:00
Not really. Our digs were great – comfy and well-dressed – and the staff were fantastic but, let’s face it, the point of any holiday in the sun is, well, the sun. There&rsq&hell…Read More
2022-05-21 09:00
To banish our winter blues, we’d booked a welcome pre-Christmas perk to Tenerife for a much-needed shot of vitamin D. But instead of a restorative pick-me-up around a cool pool, we got… Read More
2022-05-14 09:00
On our recent trip to London we strolled past the Greenwich Tavern, just outside the gates to Greenwich Park. Before it went all gastro-pub with real ales and posh nosh, it used to be a spit… Read More
2022-05-07 09:00
Last Christmas, our gift from the in-laws was a fancy meal in a top-notch Indian eatery in old London Town – at a time and date of our choosing. We waited ’til spring to combine… Read More
2022-04-30 09:00
I remember the days when spoof meant imitate for a laugh and spam was cheap tinned meat of dubious nutritional value popular with students. Now I’m plagued with spoof and spam telling… Read More
2022-04-23 09:00
In November 2020, quite by chance, we were asked to participate in a national COVID-19 study being run jointly by the Office for National Statistics and Oxford University. Initially this inv… Read More
2022-04-20 09:00
I first posted this way back in February 2020 but then COVID-19 took centre stage and the rest, as they say… Two years down the line and my brother-in-law will soon be on the road, wa… Read More
2022-04-16 09:00
The Maddermarket Theatre, former chapel and the spiritual home of am-dram in Norwich, is firing on all cylinders again after a tough couple of years because of you know what. The latest prod… Read More
2022-04-09 09:00
I’m constantly surprised by the milk of human kindness. Right across Europe the humanitarian crisis created by Tsar Putin’s invasion of Ukraine seems to have struck a chord and t… Read More
2022-04-05 10:24
It’s our wedding anniversary today – 14 years (and counting) since we tied the proverbial and Liam slipped his ring on my finger. What adventures we’ve had. I have a feelin… Read More
2022-04-02 08:00
Who knew that there’s an Italian brand of pizza oven briquettes called ‘Faggetto’? We didn’t until the waitress sat us next to a stack of them at Franco Manco, a pizz… Read More
2022-03-26 10:00
After tripping the light fantastic along Tooting High Street, I took Liam even further down my memory lane with a short hop to Wandsworth Town. I showed him where I was a shoe shop Saturday… Read More
2022-03-19 10:00
I spent much of my teenage years in Tooting, a rough-round-the-edges strangely-named suburb in South London. My late, lamented old pal, Clive, was raised there in a modest terraced house, an… Read More
2022-03-12 10:00
In 1961 a portrait of the Duke of Wellington by Francisco Goya was lifted from the National Gallery in London. Only 19 days earlier it had been ‘bought for the nation’ for &pound&hell…Read More
2022-03-05 10:00
Every year I get a statement from the British Library setting out how many times Perking the Pansies has been borrowed from UK libraries. This is followed some time later by a payment. It&rs&hell…Read More
2022-02-26 10:00
I love a whodunnit even when I know who did it. And who doesn’t know who did it in Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile? It’s Kenneth Branagh’s second outing as the Be… Read More
2022-02-19 10:00
Since they switched the theatre lights back on, we’ve been playing catch-up with all the shows queuing up impatiently in the wings. Our latest gig was the UK tour of The Book of Mormon… Read More
2022-02-12 10:00
I first watched The Sound of Music in the sixties at the tender age of seven. To see over the heads of the people in front of me, I sat on an upturned seat. Not that I saw that much anyway… Read More
2022-01-29 10:00
After a six-year hiatus, local comedy heroes The Nimmo Twins (Owen Evans and Karl Minns) were back treading the boards at the Norwich Playhouse for the second of their twenty-fifth-anniversa… Read More
2022-01-22 10:00
Soppy, sentimental old fool that I am, I’m a sucker for a tear-jerker. I cried during the opening Circle of Life scene of the Lion King when I first saw it in the West End many moons a… Read More
2022-01-15 10:00
I was so sad to hear of the death of my favourite Golden Girl, Betty White, just a few days before her centenary. She was the last of those amazing ladies from that amazing show. I was rathe… Read More
2022-01-08 10:00
With all the endless doom and gloom swilling around us, it’s easy to forget just how far we’ve come. It says something incredibly powerful about our society when the three finali… Read More
2021-12-31 10:00
It’s been a queer year all told – locked and unlocked, masks on, masks off, masks on again, thrice jabbed, and a foreign foray thwarted. Unsurprisingly, 2021 pansy posts were a m… Read More
2021-12-25 10:00
…though round these parts he’s been known to do a dry run before the big night to check out the chimneys. Or maybe he’s been moonlighting for Amazon. He even popped by the… Read More
2021-12-18 10:00
The tree’s up and dressed, the garland’s draped above the fire, the mulled wine’s gently simmering on the stove and the village is sparkling in pretty strings of twinkle. I… Read More
2021-12-11 10:00
Perking the Pansies was to be off-air for a while. After a so-so summer weather-wise, two cancelled getaways and three jabs to keep us out of intensive care, we’d had enough of samey d… Read More
2021-12-04 10:00
Let’s face it, if you’re plugged into the modern world your privacy will get compromised all over the place. It doesn’t seem to matter what privacy settings you tick on Fac… Read More
2021-11-27 10:25
My irreverent, irrelevant ramblings reached the grand old age of 10 in October last year. It passed by without notice. Blog years are like dog years so all things being equal, Perking the Pa… Read More

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