Saturday, February 25, 2006


‘You must be riddled’ Mark said on the phone laughing.

I laughed nervously. I had just told him that I’d never had a sexual health check.

‘Here’s the number of the GUM’.

I took down the number, chatted a bit more with Mark before deciding to do some shopping. ‘I don’t need a sexual health check, I don’t need a sexual health check’ I obsessed for about thirty minutes. I got back, did some research on the internet ( I procrastinternet very well) and I found there was a gay men’s health clinic on a Wednesday night. I rang and I found myself there a few days ago trying to write out my name and address, but shaking so much that all I could produce was a spidery line. There were three other people in the waiting room. And even though I was nervous I still managed to cruise all of them.

I felt a bit calmer – I read the Ideal Home that was placed on the coffee table, next to the booklet entitled ‘Cock Tales’ – and drank more water. I glanced up and a guy gave me a quick smile of ‘I know what you are going through’. I gave a quick smile back. Actually everyone in the room was relaxed, I was thinking this is no big deal. I wondered if I should talk to him, but I didn’t know what the right GUM/STI clinic etiquette was. ‘So what are you in for?’ might not be the best approach. But then again I thought these guys are responsible for their own health.

My name was called. Would I allow a nurse to sit in? No thanks. I felt terrible as the Doctor dismissed the nurse and she walked sheepishly away. (Richard has told me not to worry – he said that she was probably glad of the break and had a cup-of –soup).

The doctor introduced himself and promptly asked

‘When did you last have sex?’
‘er, Monday’.
‘Oral, Anal?’
‘Oral.’I said my throat closing up.
‘Where was he from?’
‘He was Austrian’.
‘And your last sexual encounter before that?’
‘Australian’. The doctor laughed and looked impressed.
‘Oral, Anal?’
‘Oral again’.

He asked me to undress but that I could keep my shoes on. I knew there was no way I could take my jeans off over my shoes, but as it was a doctor saying it I tried. After five minutes of struggling, I took my shoes off, undid my jeans and boxers and waited for the swabbing. The first swab was from my throat, the second from my penis. Now when I think of a swab I think of a light brush with a cotton bud, but this! I could feel it in my throat. Actually it was so quick I had only a tiny bit of discomfort, and to be honest it was better than some blow jobs I have had (or probably given). Anyway, next up was two swabs up my bottom. I made the mistake of clenching after he put the swab in, but again no harm was done and I kept my dignity.

Next were the blood tests and hep shots. I told the doctor about being shocked about the penis swab – he apologised and then said ‘you’re really going through it’. I apologised and said I was acting like a baby. ‘No you’re not,’ he said quite seriously and added ‘you poor bugger’. Perhaps not the choicest of words but I understood his sentiment. In fact, all through the process I felt that this doctor actually cared for me. He really was compassionate and I must thank him for that. As he was giving me my hep shots (so I can enjoy rimming, fingering, and travelling to foreign climes - I blushed when the doctor said this – not the foreign bit) I checked out my doctor’s package. Is that wrong?

The Doctor recommended that I had a glass of wine and a painkiller (I wanted to say couldn’t I just take the copy of Ideal home with me?), and that he would see me next week for my second injection and urine test. (I couldn’t produce a drop even though I’d had three glasses of water). He then gave me three packs of condoms to which I said ‘I’ll take them, but I’m not really an anal kind of guy’. Why did I say that, why? And to make matters worse I added ‘But you never know’.

Anyway to recover I went round to Matthew’s, drank half a bottle of Cava, ate a packet of mini-eggs and some salsa with mesquite crisps. It was on doctor’s orders.

Matthew and his flat mate both said the same thing. ‘If you do the crime, then you have to do the time , especially if you are a deviant’! Now I wouldn’t mind so much but Matthew is gay and his flat mate is a single woman aged 33 who works in a employment agency – now that’s deviant! Seriously though this makes me very angry – although it was supposed to be a joke it is deeply not funny. Consensual sex between two adults, whether it be for love, recreation, or avoiding the washing up is never a crime or deviance.

OK rant over. But although I have made fun of my experience I was being daft. I should have been had a sexual health check before but I chose to ignore it, because I was embarrassed. My embarrassment lasted two minutes and I have already forgotten it. Perhaps if I had taken more responsibility before with my sexual health, I would not have been so nervous. So, if you are worried about going to a GUM/STI clinic then just go. There’s a good choice of magazines, some cute men and afterwards you can eat as much chocolate as you like.
P.S. I am aware that this post may cause offence. It was not my intention to make fun of sexual health infections, only my own daftness in not getting checked out for so long. Taking an HIV test is serious and most clinics offer counselling before and after the result. This is your right!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I'm not really a very good photographer

I have been inspired by the guys who write Bookpacker, a blog in Paris, which has some terrific photos which makes their fabulous lives even more fabulous. (I'm a shameless blog hussie.) This led me to Flickr, where I have been enjoying my voyeuristic tendencies. So I thought I'd share some of my photos. The above photo is of Princes Street, and was actually intended to be a picture of Edinburgh Castle. However, the flash went off in my hand and here is the result. I actually think it is very Wolfgang Tillmans.

Learning from my mistake, I took my intended picture of Edinburgh Castle. Here I really think I've captured the Castle's ethereal beauty, its dominance of the Edinburgh skyline and dare I say it a glimpse of its history. I also managed to highlight a tourist's 'go faster' stripe on his anorak.

I hope you enjoy my photography and please feel free to post your unique photo moments.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

You make me want to be a better person

It’s Valentine’s Day and I don’t have a partner so I thought I’d write a Valentine to my friends.
The best moments of my life have been with friends. The moment where you laugh so much you can’t speak, and when you are able to speak you just start to laugh again. The feeling of warmth when you are having coffee or a drink with a friend and you are chatting and know that you don’t want it to end, but still know that you can do it again and again. The silly fantasies that you can have, the same jokes repeated over and over, the daft questions like ‘What did you have for your tea?’ or ‘What pants do you have on?’

The best thing is when you are with that person and you know you do not want any harm to come to them or anyone to hurt them. And it’s then you realise that their friendship makes you a better person, and that you want to be a better person for them. That to me is friendship, that to me is love.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Day after Tomorrow

I’ve just been reading one of Tom Coates old posts on about doing a doctorate.  Absolutely fantastic! I went through hell, and gave other people hell too, doing my PhD and I think I’m still recovering from it now. I’d ask myself over and over again - Why couldn’t I do it? Had I tried hard enough? Was I stupid? Was I lazy?

I actually withdrew from my PhD this week. After reading Tom’s post, I’m reminded of the cultness of the life. The fact that you are no-one without three letters after your name. To be honest, I do believe that PhD’s are wonderful, but only if you have a real passion for  your subject because that’s what will keep you going through the redrafts, the worries about money, and the wish to put sharp objects in your eyes so you don’t have to read another sodding article. And that you realise it is a job not an extension of undergraduate life   I remember walking along a road with this girl  I’d just met at a PhD seminar group. She looked up at someone’s flat window, which looked cosy, and said sadly ‘I bet they don’t have a PhD to do’.

And again saying all this I’ve just applied for a lecturer’s job. What am I doing? It really is a cult – you can never escape. I still haven’t thrown away my old books and my six Clairefontaine notebooks. They are still in the pantry, panting to be let out. I think I’d better read Tom’s post again.

Onto lighter stuff – I watched ‘The Day after Tomorrow’ yesterday. I loved it at the cinema and I still love it now.  I was gutted when I missed ‘The Poseidon Adventure’ on Channel Four the other day. I remember watching it when I was about 7 and being really upset when the Reverend (Gene Hackman) threw himself into a fire/void/fiery void.  It was just so unfair.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

What's going on?

I haven't written for ages mainly because I'd forgotten my password. Now I've remembered, I'm going to keep writing. In 2005, I got a new job but now in 2006 I find myself unemployed and a little bit lost but I'm hoping that I can find my path again. This morning I signed on, and I couldn't believe how friendly they were. And it was nice to get up before eleven.
After the jobcentre, I wandered down Leith Walk and went into a new Polish delicatessen. One of my best friends in the states is Polish so I went in to say hello to her through the medium of food. I saw the Perogi but I didn't have enough money so I got a bag of 'Chipsy' instead - paprika flavoured crisps. I felt obliged to buy something as I had wandered around the shop for around ten minutes. I'm getting more and more like my mother. She feels bad that her local Somerfield is not doing well, and will go to make 'it' and her feel better!

I carried on down the street and made a mental note that I should get up at 7am every day, as there is so much to do - especially when I'm off. When I was working all I could think about was my wasted days in the office (well not so wasted as I enjoyed the company of people around me) but now I'm wasting my time hanging indoors, feeling mopey and angry! Enough of this! I declare the rut is over!

I also know I have to get over my unrequited love. I am lovesick and it's time to realise that I am not going to find a man until I actually choose someone is available. This means actually talking to a guy in a club - not just staring and daydreaming. Now I'm getting self-obsessed but I guess that's the whole point of having a crush. You're in love with your own idea of love, not the person. You can't get rejected because of your personality, but because they are straight or in a couple. It's time to realise that rejection is not bad, or that it makes you a bad person. I'm beginning to realise that it's time to accept myself as I am, and stop trying to be perfect. The straight guys I know seem to be able to do this, and are more tolerant of others.

I've been reading a lot of Trash Addict's blogs - he always makes me laugh. I emailed him a few years back and said something inane like 'I love your blog'. (I think he's right not to talk about friends - I'm tempted but it seems unfair to them and me. ) I'm intrigued by comatose and I've just logged on to High Camp caress Morrell - very funny and as bitchy as he says he is. I need to work out how this link thing works as that's one of the best things about blogs.

Right, off to do a job application form. Fun is not the word.