Friday, 10 April 2015

Talking Heads

In September, I fly to Australia on my own. There I shall meet up with The Prof in Sydney , who will have been working in Melbourne then sailing around the Pacific with some friends.
It sounds all very cosmopolitan does ot not?
It's a long time since I travelled long haul on my own. I've only done it once before, and that was when I took myself off to Seattle on a whim many years ago.
I don't remember much about that trip now, except that the city was wet, cold and rather glum but on a brighter note the sour dough chowder, as I recall was mighty fine.
I ate a good many bowls of it too.
Now, I don't mix well when I am on my own and apart from service people, I dont think I spoke to a living soul until I found myself sitting next to a 30 something Japanese/American woman in a lighthouse coffee shop.
With typical US directness she told me that her name was Hisoka ( which means Shy) , that she was lecturer at SeattleEU and that she was waiting to meet a nice girl called Jane for an important second date.
She was also the very first person that I told I was gay.
I shall always remember it, for even though I was in my twenties , it was a real  red letter day experience, for it was the first time that I had verbalised something so important to me which turned out so wonderfully inconsequential to her.
We talked for an age, and in those pre mobile phone days, Jane had to ring the coffee shop manager to inform Hisoka that she would be late, which was lovely for me, as I talked and talked and talked about all those gay things, I never had the chance to do before.

When Jane, eventually arrived, I politely took my leave. But not before Hisoka pulled a book out of her handbag. " I love these stories" she said " please take it!" and she gave me a rather battered copy of Alan Bennett's " Talking Heads".
" I love British humour" she explained sweetly.


I found the book today when I was cleaning out the bookshelf today.....funny what you are reminded of eh?







110 comments:

  1. Now you have a chance to make some brand new memories....don't be shy....talk to people.

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    1. You may find this hard to swallow but i am shy

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    2. Me too...but no one ever believes me.

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  2. It's funny how we all come across as being outgoing and willing to share on our blogs, but in person, we can be reserved or shy.

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  3. having spoken with you by telephone, you are a MARVELOUS wit. you will do fine with the bruces and sheilas down under.

    "With typical US directness" - that is because we are confident in ourselves and comfortable with ourselves. bold as brass we are!

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    1. Its an enviable trait AMx

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  4. What a great experience! I always try NOT to talk to people when I'm traveling -- but who knows what I'm missing?!

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    1. Me too steve......i usually read a book..... Come to think of it, i susect I was readinga book when Hisoka talked to me

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  5. What a lovely story and memory. I always rather liked Seattle, but only in the summer.

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    1. Oh i liked it craig... The fish market.... The food.........the space needle terrified me though

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  6. What a beautiful memory of Seattle. May you find another Hisoka on your trip to Australia.

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    1. Lets hope we all meet one eh?

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  7. Replies
    1. And a very " in your face" lody too

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  8. And now you can tell the stranger on this trip that you are married and meeting you husband, and this will also be wonderfully inconsequential.

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    1. I'll bore the tits off people

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  9. And I'm pleased to see that you have a proper phone; with a DIAL.

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    1. Oh dear....it's in fact a push button cro

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  10. Not a bit direct here.

    Brash, loud, and cheeky? Yup. Except in person. Then I'm quiet, until I get comfortable with someone... and then I break out in silliness.

    You, on the other hand, really have no idea of the comfortable sort of charm you exude, do you?

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  11. What a lovely story JG. You will be just fine in Australia ~ you will love Sydney!

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    1. I have a dear friend who lives inwarriewood just outside the city.....it will be lovely too her too

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  12. I love that story, and maybe the rediscovery of the book is a good omen for your trip!

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    1. Its a beautifullywritten set of short plays.......

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  13. No trying to smuggle any pork pies into Australia, they are rather strict on such things :) What a lovely 'red letter' day, she probably still remembers the lovely British man she met.

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    1. DoES Australia DO scotch eggs?

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    2. I was having a 'senior' moment. I meant scotch eggs or course :)

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  15. How nice to stumble upon an old memory like that. I wonder what else you have tucked away in your head, just waiting for the right cue to emerge.

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    1. Oh I have tons of old shit tucked away in here

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  16. That's a wonderful memory. Stories like that give you hope that mankind is not totally screwed. Have a great trip to Australia. Who watches all your beasties while your away? I'll come if you pay my way. I could use a vacation :)
    Theresa

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    1. If you were nearer...i would have asked u

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  17. Have fun on your trip! And the next time you visit the U.S. come to the east coast!! You'll love the friendly, outgoing, and funny people who live here! :)

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    1. We adore New York......we are longoverdue fora visit

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    2. No, the SOUTHERN part of the east coast! Charleston, Savannah, the Outer Banks of N.C....You and Chris would have a blast! Seriously. :)

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  18. What a wonderful reminiscence! No one understands our lives like another gay person.

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  19. I liked this post very much John.....the memory, the kindness, the special day for you. I was a bit underwhelmed by Seattle and like you I shy away from conversing with others.....and you will be fine doing the long haul thing.....meeting up with your husband like that sounds really swish...far off places, sailing, sunshine.....how lovely.x ps who is looking after the 'kids' for your?

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    1. The welsh will go into kennells, winnie hopefully will be taken in by a woman in prestatyn and i hope george will go to my sister

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  20. My god! It's like you went all the way to Seattle just to meet that girl. I am so glad she was not shy, not shy at all.

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    1. I think she was initially nervous because of her date...i suspect thats why she chatted

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  21. Great, affecting story. Wonder why you chose Seattle of all places - spinning a globe and landing your finger, or maybe you had particular expectations which were or were not realised? (Not that there can be anything wrong with Seattle!)

    Looking forward to reading your exploits in Oz (don't forget your floppy hat with dangling corks!) and seeing the millions of photos you're going to take.

    Btw: I've got all of Alan Bennett's 'Talking Heads' on either audio cassette or video - and each is a perfect gem.

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    1. Ray.....i went out to buy a fridge and saw a cheap flight to seattle advertized in a travel agent's window

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    2. Now that's what I call 'spontaneity'!

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    3. I was single and stupid

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    4. And now you're married and......................NOOOOOOO!!!

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  22. How wonderful! I hope that your travels this time will be just as good!!

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    1. Me too........I would have liked to have kept in touch somehow
      But we dont do we?

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  23. Did I see Melbourne in Australia mentioned? Talking Heads, she is dead now, ummm, no, not coming to me. She spoke of not having sex with her boyfriend before he went off to war and never returned. Got it, Thora Hird. It was a gobsmackingly emotional monologue.

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    1. " a cream cracker under the settee"

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  24. Here's a tip. Go to Seattle in August. It is sunny, warm and glorious. Can't wait to hear about the upcoming trip.

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  25. That is a great memory, and well-told. I wonder if Hisoka and Jane ended up together for good?

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    1. I wondered that....Jane as I recall was a doctor

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  26. Oddly……I was reading Alan Bennett yesterday, a chapter about his boyhood, and how he realised he was gay. We saw him once in the Ashmolean in Oxford. He is very tall.

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    1. Isnt that strange.... I always thought he was short

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    2. He had a long coat on..perhaps it made him look taller? We didn't speak!

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  27. Hi John
    I'm in Seattle at present, it's a fine spring this year, quite early. The city has changed a bit since your visit, more urbane, less folksy small townish. It's still quite gay-friendly, as are most west coast cities.
    I was only 'down under' once, in the late 60's, and oddly the only place I got to wander around was Alice Springs, in the middle of the country.
    September is springtime down there, should be a good visit. Will you sail while you're there?

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    1. Mike
      I HATE boats
      ( well with the exception of the Queen Mary)
      No chris will be sailing with afriend.....i shallmeet him on solid ground)

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  28. Talking to strangers on planes and trains is always nice. I do it all the time.

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    1. I should do it more

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    2. I talk to anyone, anywhere! It's good.

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  29. I think it's perfectly natural to open up to strangers. It's anonymous isn't it. She was important otherwise you wouldn't have kept the book. You'll no doubt be selective but chat quite openly to the select ones on your trip. I went to the USA on mymaths own for a weekend a couple of years ago. I tagged it onto a couple of work days. I thought I was brave. It helps when it's the same language as you will have with Oz

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    1. Yes.... I dont think i would ever go to a non english speaking country on my own....I'm not that brave

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  30. Um maths wasn't involved. Autocorrect :(

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  31. That was an ideal meeting for both of you, I think you were meant to meet and share.

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  32. You should take a trip to Mid-West America John.......we are much nicer here than some of the Metropolitan areas of the US. I found the rural residents of the UK to be much like the rural US folks in friendliness and hospitality. Our attitude here is...."Our home is your home" ps-your story made me smile, I'm so glad you shared.

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    1. Ive never been to the mid west...would loveto go.....
      The fathest i have been west of New York is Pittsburgh
      And I loved that city.

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    2. If you do, stop by, I'll make you Scotch eggs!

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  33. I'd say Hisoka may have 'opened the door' for you, John.
    And you still have her gift to you.
    I can imagine the ton of stories you will have from your Australia trip!! How nice!

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    1. Nicely put jimbo
      And probably very correct

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  34. When I flew there long ago, the flight attendants were all men, and they called everybody "Love."

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    1. Saying ." Love" is a northern British habit..isnt that strange

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    2. John when you are in Australia you will notice a lot of english traits , especially in Melbourne. Being called love is still common in the older generations . In Syndey you will have no problems finding scotch eggs in a deli as Australia is very multi cultural.

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    3. i dont remember ever seeing a scotch egg in a sydney deli. i must pay more attention

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    4. Ooh dear I don't want to send John on a scotch egg chase then!

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    5. I'm a Londoner ... I call everyone love... I just thought it was a working class english thing... I didn't know they say it in the north specifically...but I don't know any northerners I suppose.

      Jo in Auckland, NZ

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  35. I hope your time in Oz is wonderful. And that you are able to show some of us just how delightful you are. Being shy deprives other people - as well as you.

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  36. I'll talk to anyone! Sorry, that's all I've got tonight, it's been a pig of a week. Have a good weekend. x

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    1. Ive just emailed you old gal

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  37. Exciting that you are coming to Australia. Are you heading up to Queensland at all ? Xxx

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    1. Unfortunately only sydney!
      I need suggestions on where to go!

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    2. I wish I lived closer and I could be your tour guide . Australia is a vast country, it would take 12 hours of driving to get from Queensland to Sydney. Sydney is an extremely gay friendly city with the annual Mardi gras. Try and do a history walk of The Rocks in Circular Quay. Or a ghost tour at night . This is a very historical part of Sydney and so very interesting . I can email you later if you like re Sydney . Xxx

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    3. Leisha

      Email me jgsheffield@hotmail.com

      Xx

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  38. Give me a wave when you fly over NZ on your way to Sydney, John!

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    1. Will do old gal x

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    3. You'll be lost if you fly over NZ !

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  39. Does this cruise take in New Zealand? If so, coffee is on me! xoxo

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  40. i hope i will get to meet you!

    i have just asked on facebook if it is possible to buy scotch eggs in sydney , will report back. My guess would be if anyone has them it would be the David Jones food hall.

    I had a high tea at gunners barracks a little while back and i think it would be a marvelous sydney experience for you ....but then i guess i'm not a tourist.

    I loved your story, i think it's a pity you didnt stay in touch but maybe the meeting might have lost some magic if it was more than a once off

    xo

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    1. Shall we meet fir coffee and scotch eggs?

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    2. John, there are scotch eggs in the delis in Wellington where I live, so I am sure a sophisticated city like Sydney will have them! David Jones Food Hall for sure, as Kylie says. David Jones has everything!

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  41. Maybe this is a sign that you should re-read the book on the plane and pass it onto some shy person before you return home. Gets me thinking about my first timid steps out - being a 2000 miles from home helped. I have crossed the Atlantic twice solo, I am flying to Germany this summer and meeting my Professor there.

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    1. You fly in your sleep
      As for the book... Ive read it 5 times or more

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  42. What a beautiful story.

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  43. John shame your not coming to Melbourne ! When in Sydney make sure you take the ferry from Circular Quay...it's a great spot...also Bondi Beach is amazing and the Opera house precinct... You will love it.

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  44. John I engaged in correspondence with Alan Bennett about 15 years ago after reading a massive book of his. I must dig it out. He HANDWROTE to me.
    I must find it in my piles of correspondence. What a lovely man he is. I was comparing notes on childhoods with him.
    I love your story of coming out.
    XO
    WWW

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  45. Everybody is shy, John, even those show boaters we envy. We all have two personalities, and when needed, we can hide behind that fake, brave person that we invented to protect us. Sometimes it might take a glass of wine, but, hey, chances not taken are chances lost.

    Know that any and everybody would love to talk to you. Give them a shot and you will have a good travel experience (and so will the people you connect with). O

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  46. John, I'm walking the Camino in September and October and maybe November as well. I so wish I would be in Sydney. You and Chris would be very welcome to stay in my spare room. And I'm not a great talker either. You'd be my idea of a perfect house guest. Damn and blast.

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  47. ooh I love meeting strangers & chatting ! My daughter flies to Sydney in November - she's not chatty like me ( I wasn't at her age either ! ) she will read the whole way.
    I could listen to you all day x

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  48. So let me get this straight. Chris is flying halfway around the world to have a marvelous sort of honeymoon all by himself (well, with others) and then you will catch up with him sort of mid-voyage? It does not augur well for years of bliss and happiness....or perhaps you already had those? I'm obviously confused.

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    1. Right...... Let me explain..... Chris is working in melbourne....he will be working with another proff who is 50 this year.... Both of them like sailing So after work they and some of her friends will go sailing in a SMALL boat
      No i cannot abide small boats...and so i shall meet my husband in the more cosmo city of sydney
      There
      Simple!

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  49. I used to be shy when I was younger, now I'll talk to anyone, anywhere, not always a good thing, but better sometimes than being quiet or wishing I could speak out but not doing so. Haven't you found things getting easier as you get older, and especially now that you are a Samaritan?

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  50. Don't forget to wear your compression stockings.

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  51. As ever, late to the party, so I will only echo a satisfying story, and have a great trip.

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  52. Ooo I love Alan Bennett,(so funny, touching and Northern) A Cream Cracker Under the Settee is fantastic.
    I'm good at talking to strangers (think I get this from my Dad) he spoke to everyone. However, put me in a room full of people I know and I don't react well, isn't that odd?
    Your trip sounds very exciting and glam, I hope you sit next to someone as lovely and interesting as you on the plane. If not watch a film or pretend to be asleep ;)
    Hope you have a fab time when you go
    twiggy x

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  53. Have a wonderful trip John! So glad you can get down under even though it's too bloody hot especially up my way in Rok Vegas (ie. Rockhampton). You may even find we have Scotch Eggs! Who'll be looking after the chaps (and darling Winnie) whilst you're in the Colonies? Travel safe :)

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