Tarn Swan's Stardust Tales - 5

(The Stardust Diaries Series - 5)


Copyright © Tarn Swan 2015
All Rights Reserved

Published Books in the series:
Swan Songs, extracts from my life with Stardust Twinkles
The Stardust Diaries January to May 2006
Going to the Chapel ~ The Stardust Diaries June to December 2006
The Stardust Diaries 2007
Coming Out ~ a supplementary short story to Swan Songs


Love is when he gives you a piece of your soul that you never knew was missing.
Torquato Tasso


Stardust Tales
More extracts from my life with Stardust Twinkles

January 2nd - New Year Felicitations

A Happy New Year to you all from Tarn the scribe, purveyor of tales about life, love and domesticity with my husband, I would say my civil husband, but he isn’t always, civil I mean. Anyway, to qualify our legal union by use of the term ‘Civil’ is to somehow suggest it’s a second-class arrangement in comparison to a full-blooded marriage with religious approval and I personally refute that. The Church may not have endorsed our union, but then I don’t endorse the ‘Church’ so its narrow and prejudicial opinion doesn’t matter to me. He is my husband, Jonathan, aka Stardust Twinkles, or Twinks, as we who love him are apt to call him (amongst other things and dependent on how much he’s outraged us.)

To get back to my starting point, Happy New Year! May all your troubles be small ones and your blessings many. Well, that’s my New Year social obligations fulfilled. Felicitations done. Let’s get on with everyday life now. It’s January the second already and the year is primed and waiting to happen. Spring is limbering in the wings ready to take centre stage, followed by summer, which will bloom and then fade all too soon. It will be Christmas again before you know it.

Talking of Christmas, Twinks and I had a very hectic but nice one, barring the odd hiccup. You can’t have Christmas without hiccups of one sort or another, not when you live with someone like Twinks. Hiccups are part and parcel of life, and not just at Christmas. I’ve experienced them on a regular basis since the day I met him, summer and winter alike. I’ve tried holding my breath, drinking water, breathing into paper bags, but none of it works. Those hiccups keep on coming. I wouldn’t have it any other way. My life would be dull indeed without Stardust hiccups. I neither need nor want a cure, not once I’ve gotten over a bout anyway. They can be irksome while they’re happening. Fortunately, I have alternative methods at hand when it comes to dealing with hiccups that go beyond irksome.

Moving on to the subject of this diary, my best beloved, him in frocks, he’s chock full of cold at the moment. I mean really full of cold, a positive snot fest.  Poor Twinks. His lips are dry and chapped and his throat sore. His nose is so stuffed up that he’s breathing through his mouth all the time. He sounds like Darth Vader. (Lulu, I am your father.)

Those of you familiar with Twinks will know that he’s emotional enough when he’s hale and hearty. Throw a virus into the mix and it’s like jiggling a pin out of a hand grenade, his moods have the potential to explode all over the place. He isn’t a patient patient, not by any stretch of the imagination. I have my work cut out keeping him calm I can tell you. He’s had the vapours several times, including this morning when I didn’t put enough milk in his breakfast coffee. He interpreted this as a sign of waning love on my part. It was no such thing. We’d run out of milk, simple as that. Cue the drama queen. It wasn’t good enough. Apparently I should never have allowed household milk supplies to dwindle to such dangerously low levels. It was scandalous.

I pointed out that he’d supped off most of the milk the night before when he decided to have several shots of brandy in a large mug of hot milk by way of a nightcap to help him sleep - like he needed more alcohol after the New Year binge. He treated me to lemon lips, crossed arms and a sniff of disdain by way of response. No way was he accepting responsibility for our milkless status.

To make matters worse, he watched Big Cat Diary on television this evening, a programme following the progress of a pride of lions in the wild. I was hoping that watching a bit of nature would soothe and calm him, and take his mind off his cold misery. Not a chance. One of the lion cubs died. He was alternately devastated and enraged, sobbing that one of the commentators or camera people or wildlife wardens should have intervened to save it. Let me quote his exact words:
‘BASTARDS! Those cruel, heartless BASTARDS just watched it die, Tarn. They let it die. I’m going to write to the BBC and the WWF. I want an investigation carrying out. I want those heartless BASTARDS bringing to trial. I want them charged as accessories to murder. I want justice for that poor, sweet baby cub.’

By the time he was done ranting he could barely breathe for coughing and spluttering and I was all but drowned in snot and tears. I doled out tissues while reminding him that when it comes to wildlife documentaries there’s a special ‘no interfering with nature’ rule. Not that he listened, he never does. He just goes with his feelings.
‘Fuck frigging nature and fuck frigging rules! That cub could and should have been saved. I hope that big, butch lioness; her with the psychotic eyes, bites the balls off the cameramen and eats them. Let’s see who interferes with nature then.’

His voice has suffered as a result of his outpouring. He can barely speak above a whisper, which is a mixed blessing. He's communicating his needs (demands) via notepad and pen, accompanied by the tinkling of a little brass bell, which he pinched off my Christmas tree. So far, I've had tinkles and notes to make him Lemsip, get him Strepsils, fetch him a hot water bottle, phone his best friend Lulu for him, etc and so on. His last note was a spitty demand for me to take down the Christmas cards, as they were looking warped, dusty and sorry for themselves, and they were getting on his tits. They should have been taken down on New Years’ Day, if not Boxing Day. I suppose he had a point. They were looking a bit sad and past it, relics of the dead year. I’ve bagged them up ready to pop in a recycling bin and be resurrected into something else.
I'm getting a catchy feeling in my throat now. His days as a bell ringer could be numbered. It won't be for me that the bell tolls, it'll be me tolling it for him to answer my demands for a change.

There it goes again, the bell, tinkle, tinkle. How can a pretty little trinket sound such an officious note? He obviously has another written instruction/demand for me to read. It’s almost dinnertime. Being sick hasn’t interfered with his appetite, not so you’d notice anyway. He’s probably hungry and has written out a menu suitable for an invalid, or what he considers suitable for an invalid. I don’t mind, as long as it contains easily accessible ingredients. Knowing him, it’ll be for something with caviar and quail eggs, and we’re fresh out of both. He’ll have to make do with crabsticks, a boiled hen’s egg and some toast soldiers. At least I’ve got plenty of milk in now, so he can have a glass of that as well. I nipped to the shop earlier on and bought a good supply of semi-skimmed. There’s enough for him to bathe in, should he so desire, and don’t think he hasn’t tried it before. Cleopatra has, or had, she being long dead, nothing on Twinks when it comes to beauty routines.

January 4th - Decapitating Santa

I'm considering reversing my non-religious stance by approaching the Pope or the Archbishop, or if push comes to shove, the Dalai Lama with a request for pre-death canonisation. I can’t afford to wait until I pass on to be nominated. Why? Because living with Twinkles requires the patience of a saint, in fact an entire battalion of saints, and patience, believe me, is something I’m fast running out of. He's been moaning about festive weight gain, as he does every January, and rabidly complaining that I don't do enough to stop him overindulging over the festive period. I’ve had the whole griping, moaning, passing the buck: what kind of elected domestic dictator allows his sub, etc, etc, routine.

What did he do yesterday? He only went and bought a carrier bag full of edible Christmas goodies from Sainsbury's because they were selling them off at prices you couldn't ignore. I told him they could easily be ignored. All it took was a little willpower.

I wouldn't mind so much but he goes totally overboard. I mean it’s fair enough buying one or two items. We all like a bargain. One or two isn’t good enough for my man. He doesn’t know the meaning of restraint. He bought no less than ten Lindt chocolate reindeer and ten Lindt Santa's because they were reduced by seventy-five percent. They were practically giving them away, he said, trying to justify his actions when confronted with my disapproval.

Lindt chocolate wasn’t all he brought home in his overloaded carrier bag. He’d also bought a host of other stuff at prices that couldn’t be ignored. He'd have bought more if it wasn't for greedy buggers grabbing things off the shelves before he could get to them. Good luck and well done to them I say. I have nothing but admiration for shoppers brave enough to take on Twinks in bargain hunting mode. He’s not above tackling people to the ground when it comes to securing a bargain, or at least jostling past them. Elbows can be dangerous things in a Sale situation.
My boy might not be athletic as such, but he has a competitive streak to match any sports person in the world. He’s also a ruthless cheat if he feels the situation requires it. He’s been known to employ some pretty devious tactics to get what his impulsive heart desires. He accidentally on purpose set off the fire alarm in Debenhams once, after a Chinese lady snatched the bright orange batik dress he was reaching for on the summer sale rail, dragging it into the changing rooms like a lioness with its prey.

While the store was in process of being evacuated, Twinks nipped into the abandoned changing cubicle and retrieved ‘his’ dress, which he tossed into a basket and took outside with him until customers were given the all clear to return to the store. He had it bagged and paid for before the lady in question made it back to the changing cubicle.

We had serious words about his ‘alarmist’ antics on that occasion I can tell you. I did not approve. One does not set off fire alarms in public places simply to get one’s hands on a bargain dress. He is so naughty sometimes. He could have been arrested and jailed, and he just isn’t built for jail life. A drab cell with no access to the glam necessities would kill him. As elected domestic dictator I felt a good dose of old-fashioned CP was called for. Me spanking him wasn’t the worst of it though, not from his point of view. The dress didn’t fit him. It was too tight on the hips. He was gutted. He had to take it back for a refund. I like to think the Chinese lady got her bargain in the end after all. 

Getting back to Christmas goodies. His main excuse for the sweet buying spree was that they'd make good little pressies for our guests this Saturday night. Yes, I’ve been talked into us hosting a bit of a do. Twinks thought it would be a nice idea to have a Twelfth Night party to celebrate the end of the festivities, you know, round them off in style. I wasn’t keen at first. I’ve had enough of Christmas to be honest. I’m ready to move on with plain old day-to-day life, but what the heck. Twinks does love a party and I love to see him happy, so I thought why not.

Last night I caught him slyly decapitating one of the reputed goodie bag presents with his teeth, a chocolate Santa. I promptly confiscated the remaining torso. As he'd quite rightly pointed out, it was my duty as his Top to stop him continuing to gorge on unhealthy rubbish. He wasn't too chuffed with me, especially when I binned the remains of the Santa he'd started gnawing on and hid all the other stuff. From being accused of allowing him to overindulge, I was accused of being mean, a cruel tyrant and always denying him pleasure. I can't win some days.

Our Twelfth Night party has provided Frank, our friend and next-door neighbour, with the perfect excuse NOT to take down his external Christmas decorations. He told his wife Katie that we'd requested he leave them up to add festive ambience to the do at our house. We did no such thing, but we men have to stick together, so we stayed quiet. Frank does love putting the decorations up, he’s becoming famed for them, they draw crowds, but taking them down is another kettle of fish. Katie is muttering darkly about scouring the Sales in search of a cattle prod to use on him as a means of incentive.

Frank’s house aside, most of the outside decorations in the close have now disappeared, which is a profound relief where some are concerned. I'm thinking especially of the giant Smurf that makes a regular Yule appearance. I cannot warm to the thing at all. It's a hideous apparition that has no festive connotations whatsoever, not for me anyway. We'll take down our modest outdoor lights and also the indoor Christmas trimmings on Sunday, after the party. I must say I really am looking forward to getting back to normal and regaining space from all the glitz and clutter.

On the weather front, we had a fall of snow yesterday, the heaviest one we've had in a few years in this part of the country. It looked very pretty, though it was hell to drive in. It was all gone this morning. Snow, like the sun in summer, can be a fleeting thing in England. However, it's still cold and the forecasters are prophesying more snow to come, but then they forecast a hot summer last year and look how that turned out.

It was a slow day at work today, so I flexed off early and came home. I spent some time transferring information and dates from last year’s calendar and diaries to this year’s. I have to do Twinks' diary as well, because he hates doing it. He says it's a chore, and depressing to boot. It makes you realise that another year of your life has irretrievably passed into history. He has a point. I don't like doing the job either, but someone has to update the diaries and calendars or we'd be in a fine mess with regard to remembering birthdays and appointments. 
I'm going to go and gargle with some soluble aspirin. I have indeed caught Twinks' cold and my throat is sore. I find the aspirin helpful. My cold isn't as bad as Twinks has been, and I'm grateful for that at least. His poor nose has gone from being blocked to dripping like a tap. It now matches his lips in the chapped department, as a result of him having to continuously wipe it. He is not suited. How can one look or feel even remotely glamorous when the skin on one’s lips and nose is as rough as an alligator’s arse? He has a way with words, though I’m not sure it’s always the right way. I reassured him that chapped lips or not, he is still beautiful.

January 5th - Bloodline

Twinks, as usual, made plenty of New Year’s resolutions this year. Most of them, as usual, have already crashed and burned. He resolved to go to bed earlier, to rise earlier and to do so without complaint. He also resolved to booze less, to eat more healthily and to be less competitive and quarrelsome. Such a list was doomed to failure. Most of the items on it barely lasted beyond the New Year’s Eve party at the Pink Parrot Club, the hub of our social life. Going to bed earlier vanished along with drinking less and being less quarrelsome and competitive the moment I suggested it was time to think about leaving the party and heading for home. His words at the time were, and I quote: ‘get a frigging grip, Tarn, love! It’s barely two in the morning. No one, least of all Miss Stardust, newly crowned New Year PP Pageant Princess, leaves a party, especially a New Year party of which she has been crowned most beautiful princess of, before half past three at the earliest.’ He then thrust his glass at me and royally bade me refill it with champagne, while he showed that incompetent cock in a frock Natalie how to get a proper Conga line going. So much for resolutions!

Ah well, I suppose he was entitled to revel in his status as the Pink Parrot Pageant Princess. He did look stunning in the original black lace Coco Chanel gown that Barry had gifted to him earlier in the year, and which he’d kept under wraps for just such an occasion. It had friends and foes alike gasping with envy and admiration. Much fingering of the fabric enrobing his elegant person was done. Good job I’m not the jealous type.

On the queen front, he won the Halloween Queen title back in October and was hoping to win the Christmas title too. It would have been a nice little hat trick for him with the New Year title. Alas, he was pipped at the post at Christmas. The title was won by Tara Lott, who was up doing a gig in the area, as well as visiting her friend Kev, aka Twinks archenemy, Natalie. Tara wore one of her eastern inspired jewel bright sari ensembles. It had to be said that she stood out from the crowd, shimmering in exotic shades of scarlet, emerald green, gold and silver. She was a worthy winner. On a personal note, I’m glad to report there was no sign of Tara’s stage companions, snake duo, Steve and Julie.

Of course Twinks wasn’t suited by Tara’s success. Talk about sour grapes. In his opinion, a jealous bitchy one, Tara should not have been allowed to compete, seeing as she wasn’t a PP regular, and she was a professional female impersonator to boot. She had an unfair advantage with her stage training and ability to catch the lights at just the right angle to soften what was a rather manly jaw. In fact it wouldn’t look out of place in a boxing ring.

He blamed Natalie for his failure to clinch the Christmas title. It was she who had brought Tara to the club in an effort to show off her showbiz connections. She’d done it on purpose, evil witch, to stop him winning the Christmas Queen title. I told him to stop sulking and to be gracious in defeat or I would take him home and sort him out. Honestly, he can be selfish at times. He gets more than his fair share of limelight and he shouldn’t resent others having a bit of it. It’s not like he went un-admired.

As I type, I'm having a cup of coffee. I've got the phone off the hook, my messenger disabled and my mobile on mute. I simply cannot take another call from my own little inquisitor who keeps demanding to know what I'm up to and how far I'm progressing with things for the party tonight - am I following the list of instructions he left? Er, no. I’d have to be Superman to follow the list he left. It was long enough to challenge the Encyclopaedia Britannica to a word count contest. I know what needs to be done and I shall do it my own pace. I will not be hurried or harried.
On a more serious note, when it comes to the guest list for tonight’s Twelfth Night Shindig come Epiphany Party, there is one person on it I wish I could wish away. Twinkles has invited his sister Caroline. She recently jumped back into his life after shunning him for twelve or more years. I'm in a difficult position with regard to her. He’s thrilled she contacted him, seeming to offer the proverbial olive branch, but I dislike and distrust her. I have no clue as to what motivated her to get back in touch with Twinkles, but I know it wasn’t love or a desire to get to know her brother better. I’ve seen her mask slip. If you could have witnessed the hateful look she directed at him when she thought no one was observing her, it would have chilled your blood. It chilled mine. I’ve been suspicious of her ever since.

I think she knows I don’t trust her, so she avoids contact with me, preferring to get Twinks, or Johnny, as she calls him, on his own.  Part of me wonders whether her getting back in touch with him is a refined aspect of the cruelty she and the rest of his family have subjected him to for most of his life - getting close enough to twist the knife and ‘punish’ him again for being who he is. Take his birthday for example, back in December. She didn't send him so much as a card. She said she hadn't even realised it was his birthday, as it was never ever mentioned at home. Talk about a slap in the face. He was so hurt.
She did it again at Christmas, failing to send either card or gift, while he did both for her. He was so excited about choosing a card and a gift for his sister. If you'd seen the care with which he chose them and the care with which he worded the messages on them, you would have been moved. He got nothing in return and that summarises his relationship with his family. It made me want to weep. He cried himself almost sick over it, all while making excuses for her. She didn’t have much money, he said, she was between jobs. He was being silly, expecting too much, as per usual.

I’m pretty sure a simple greetings card isn’t beyond her means, and that’s all he wanted, both for his birthday and Christmas. Cards written out to him from her would have been proof of acknowledgment, evidence of acceptance from at least one family member.

I believe she knows how desperate he is for contact and approval from his family and she’s enjoying the power it gives her over him. I suspect she gets a kick out of upsetting him.
The thing I'd like to do on a gut level is to take advantage of our relationship code and rule on the matter. I’d like to forbid him to have any contact with her. However, I have no moral right to prevent him seeing a member of his family, and even if I did have the right I wouldn't use it, because he and only he can make that kind of choice. It has to be his decision. It’s too important to be any other.

Poor Twinkles. He’s ached for so long for some kind of connection to his family. He’s desperate for validation from the people with whom he shares a bloodline. He's hoping against hope that contact with Caroline will lead on to some kind of reconciliation, some bond with the cold mother who bore him.  I can't see it happening, though I would sell my soul if I thought there was the slightest chance.

To be honest, fingers crossed, I doubt Caroline will come to the party. For one thing it would mean contact with me. For another, she isn’t interested in her brother’s world as such. She always has some excuse as to why she can’t meet his friends. She likes choosing when and where they meet, usually during his lunch hour when he’s at work and there’s no danger of me turning up.

All I can do is watch and wait for her to reveal her real intentions, which sounds mean, like I want it to all go sour for Twinks. I don’t. I just hate seeing him hurt. I want to protect him. I don’t want to see him tortured by his horrible family again. They’re a thoroughly rotten bunch.
I've had my interlude and drunk my coffee. I'd better hop to it and reconnect myself to the outside world before Twinkles calls the PPP (Party Plan Police) to come round and check up on me. I don’t want penalty points on my Top’s licence for slacking.

January 21st - In the Frame

“These look good.”
“I don't think so, dear.”
“How about these?”
“Oh no.” Vigorous head shaking. “No. No. Thank you, no!”
“These are nice.”
Folded arms and elevated left hip. “Are we looking at the same object?”
“How about these?”
“Hideous! Out of the question.” He shuddered dramatically. “I could NOT live with those. They’re frigging tortoiseshell, and not even real tortoiseshell. Who the hell wears plastic tortoiseshell these days? It’s so out of fashion, if it was ever in at all, except among the tastefully challenged.”
“I don’t care about fashion. I'll be the one wearing them, not you.”
“Yes, but while you may be the one looking THROUGH them, I'll be the one that has to look AT them and they're aging. I do not want to look at someone who looks aged. It reflects badly on me. People will think I’m having an affair with Horn Rim Harry and god forbid they think I have such poor taste.”
“Who the heck is Horn Rim Harry?”
“Your father of course, who else?”
Wishing I’d kept my curiosity in check I ignored his insult against my sire and carried on with the task in hand. “I quite like this pair.”
“You only like them because they're cheap, and if you buy them I will leave you.”

I sighed. After years of living with Twinks I really should have known better than to tell him I was having eye trouble in the first place, let alone let slip when my appointment at the opticians was for. I should have employed stealth and cunning and only told him when the deed was done and the specs chosen. He booked his day off to coincide with my appointment and insisted on coming with me this morning, interfering little toad he is. He has to be in.

I suppose there’s some kind of irony in the fact that, unlike him a few months ago, I ended up with a prescription for glasses after my eye test this morning. My eyes aren't drastically declining. I don't need to wear glasses all the time. They’re for reading and computer work.
Left to my own devices I would have chosen a frame in under ten minutes, but with Twinkles in charge, ten minutes turned into an hour plus some. We must have gone through every pair of frames on show. Twinks even asked if they had others stashed out the back or under the counter, as if suggesting the shop dealt in contraband frames. The frazzled assistant assured him that all frames were on show. Poor lad, he was beginning to look tearful. By then my palm was itching to deal the self-appointed spec chooser's bum a good smack for his fussy optical fashion hysteria.

In the end I solved the matter by giving him a 'certain' look and telling him the final 'choice' was between a pair of plastic, Buddy Holly style, black frames, which he had absolutely hated, and a pair of gold titanium glasses, which I liked because they were nice and light and I thought the oval shape suited me. He chose the latter with the air of a spouse who had a lot to put up with. The assistant did all the necessary ordering. I did the paying, and we left the shop.
After the optician ordeal, Twinks went off to meet Lulu for lunch. I was invited, but declined. My back was aching. I wanted to get home out of the cold rain and have a rest and some painkillers before going back to work. I'm sure the pain is related to the injuries I sustained in the car crash last year. Twinks has promised to give me a nice soothing back massage before bed tonight.

What about the Twelfth Night come Epiphany Party? Well, there were moments when it looked set to be a disaster. For a start, Twinkles was inclined to be waspish and brittle beforehand, as he anxiously waited to hear from his sister as to whether she would attend. She didn’t have the decency to say a straight yes or no, preferring to leave him hanging in the air. It further convinced me she enjoys having power over him. I mean how much effort does it take to call or send a text? At best she was lacking in manners.

He didn’t want to call her, in case she felt crowded by him and he scared her off. I doubt a Doberman dog with a psychotic disorder could scare his hard faced sibling. He fretted and fussed about everything, from what to wear, girl or boy attire, to whether the food and drink were good enough, should she decide to come. He was heading for emotional overload.

In the end I solved the dilemma. I took his mobile, brought up her number and gave her a call myself, sweetly asking if she was going to come to the party, as I was looking forward to seeing her again, as was Twinks. I even offered to pick her up, to save on taxi fare, the least I could do for my husband’s sister. She, as I predicted, came up with an excuse as to why she couldn’t attend. She just as sweetly told me to give ‘Johnny’ her apologies for not having let him know earlier, she had got caught up in some business or other and it had completely slipped her mind. Huh. I bet.

Of course he was disappointed about her no show, but not inordinately so. In fact I suspect there was a tinge of relief involved. He could relax and be himself without worrying about what she was thinking. Personally, I was thrilled by her absence.

She wasn’t the only no show guest. Both Teddy and Maurice had been invited, both had accepted the invitation and then both called on the day to say they couldn’t make it. Teddy claimed he had a vital stock take to do at the sweetshop he had forsaken his nursing career for and Maurice said he had to do emergency cover at the hospital. The truth? I don’t think they could face seeing each other. They haven’t spoken since they went their separate ways. Neither of them showed up at the PP over the festive period. It looks like the ballroom queens have hung up their dance shoes for good.

Twinks was most upset, and annoyed about them backing out of the party, more so than he was about Caroline not showing. In fact he had a bit of a foot stamp over it. In his own words: ‘how dare they not come? How dare they? I was planning on getting them back together, the ungrateful bitches!’

I reckon his intention to play agony aunt probably contributed to them not coming. They know him too well and will have guessed he had notions of reconciling them. I was both saddened and relieved. I do feel sorry for Teddy and Maurice. I think they still have feelings for each other, hidden under layers of hurt and bitterness, but at least I wouldn’t have to spend the evening dodging Maurice’s wandering hands, or listening to Teddy wind up Twinks with his shrill boasts.
So, as I said, for a while there, the party looked set to emulate a love doll in a swimming pool and go tits up. Twinks made noises about cancelling the whole bloody thing. Honestly, his face was tripping him as he mumbled and muttered about being let down, betrayed in fact and not just by so-called friends. His body had betrayed him by refusing to heal his chapped lips and nose in time for the party. His makeup would look leprous! Might as well call the whole thing off.
I sat him down and had a chat regarding his manner. We were committed to the party. We’d spent a fortune on food and booze, as well as Lindt goodie bags, and we were not going to let chapped skin and three less guests spoil it.

He pointed out that actually, darling, it was four less guests, as that lily-livered swine, Martin, had also declined to attend. This was hardly fair, and also inaccurate. Martin, our friend Brian’s on/off boyfriend, hadn’t been invited on account of being away in deepest Ireland. He’s taken his mother over there to visit some sick relative. He could hardly pop back for a party.

Twinks sourly said that had Martin not been away and had in fact been invited he would probably have said no because he hated being around the ‘T’ crowd. He didn’t get drag queens or transsexuals, or transvestites, or cross dressers, or in fact anyone with any degree of gender fluidity. He was one of those gay guys that hated anyone with a hint of femininity about them. Bloody misogynist.

It’s true. Martin is uncomfortable around the PP crowd. I don’t think it’s out of prejudice or hatred. He’s a shy, nervous sort and unsure of how to react. He’s fearful of saying the wrong thing and offending by misapplication of a pronoun. It’s easy done, and often with no malice aforethought, but people seem to be getting more and more touchy about it, if not intolerant. Political correctness is all very well, but it can be taken too far and be as divisive as prejudice itself. Of course out and out ‘phobia’ is unacceptable in any form. However, in my opinion, being overly precious about terms and conditions can drive people away from your cause rather than towards it. PC shaming tactics are counterproductive, becoming bullying in their own right. Time, education, tolerance, a refusal to hide and a willingness to forgive will propel the world forward.
Getting back to Twinks. Taking a deep breath I embraced my inner saint and told him he was going to adopt a glass half full stance and greet the people that did turn up with a fair face and welcoming arms, or else! Or else what, he ventured to ask petulantly. I gave him my best ‘dictator’ glare and stated: “I’ll buy a cane and make good use of my strong right arm.”  It did the trick. No way was he risking having ugly stripes put across his cute little bum. Not that I’d ever buy a cane. It’s a tad too strong a form of discipline for my taste. I’m not a dungeon style uber Dom.  The threat was enough.

The party spirit moved amongst us, spreading cheer and laughter, bringing the 2007 Christmas season to a fitting close. Twinkles wore pink, diamante trimmed skinny jeans and a glittery My Little Pony t-shirt, a favourite gift from Lulu. Aside from eyeliner and lashings of mascara he forwent face makeup in respect of his chapped skin. He looked gorgeous. He had one bitchy verbal spat with Natalie, but I let it go, as it was obvious they were both enjoying bouncing insults off each other. Honestly, those two. Twinks is the best of chums with Kev, the man behind Natalie, but the moment he becomes she, trouble ensues.

Come Sunday, we took down our trees and decorations and packed everything away. The next few days saw us helping Frank return his house to a light free zone, much to Katie’s relief. As she said, once New Year’s Day has been and gone, fairy lights and baubles lose some of their magic and become simply dust magnets.

Time to sign off. It’s late, a hot shower and my promised back massage beckon me.

January 27th - The Common Touch

I have now officially joined the wearers of optical face furniture, if only on a part time basis. I picked up my new glasses this morning and reading and computing are much easier. I hadn’t realised how fuzzy words were becoming. Twinks sniffed when he saw me in them and said he preferred my face to be naked, but all in all they weren’t too bad and suited me as much as gegs could suit anyone.

I pointed out that for a spec hater he had a pretty impressive range of sunglasses in his possession. Sunglasses, apparently, are a breed apart. Sunglasses are sexy, sophisticated and add a hint of fashionable mystery to a wearer’s face, whereas ordinary specs simply denote a person with defective vision, a person getting on in years, like myself. The cheeky toad! The way he talks you’d think I’m heading for my pension. I’m in the prime of my life.

Karen and Paul are coming over for Sunday lunch today, bringing our lovely godson Dominic of course. We also have Gabby, Frank and Katie’s daughter, joining us. She really enjoys playing with Dominic. She's going to be a lovely big sister to the new baby that’s in the making. It’s due around late April or early May and is something of a small miracle. Frank and Katie had given up hope of another child after eleven years and an ectopic pregnancy.

Poor Katie isn't having an easy pregnancy. She's got chronic morning sickness, only it extends into the afternoon and evening as well. I am so glad that God or nature or whatever saw fit to equip me with gonads instead of ovaries. Women get the crap end of the reproductive stick across the board. They have to suffer periods, pregnancy, childbirth and what my mother terms that ‘final ruddy insult’ the menopause.

Poor mum. Her menopause was surgically kick-started. She had to have a hysterectomy after a routine test revealed rogue cells. After the operation, the hospital chaplain visited her. He, well meaning chap, asked if he could do anything for her - a prayer for solace and healing perhaps. She said yes, next time he prayed he could tell that bugger, his sky boss, that when he created woman he had used a stupid, defective, ill thought out, if not downright incompetent design, and he deserved a hefty kick up the celestial backside for it.

Wonderful woman, my mother, but she does have her embarrassing moments. I’m glad I wasn’t there when she put the chaplain in the picture.

Frank is understandably anxious about Katie. He says that sometimes, when she's having a particularly rough day, she looks at him like he's the son of Satan.  He feels really guilty. In his own inimitable words: 'Tarn, man, if I could I'd be sick for her. I keep saying to her, Katie, love, if I could vomit for you, I would, pet.’

Twinks suggested he purchase and wear one of those pregnancy simulation stomachs so he could get an inkling of what it felt like to be pregnant and the pressure it put on the female body. His reply was an emphatic delivery of his signature catchphrase, 'give over, Twinks, man.' 
Dominic was three earlier this month. He had a little birthday party, though he was full of cold on the day and apt to be crabby. He just wanted to be nursed really. No one was keen on cake after he sneezed on it while trying to blow out the candles. It had a green slick that wasn’t part of the original icing design.

Twinks and I bought him a red and yellow pedal tractor for his birthday. We keep it here for when he visits. He loves it along with the little pink pram that Twinks insisted on buying him. He said boys needed to be allowed to explore their full gender potential and not be forced in one direction. The tractor was butch, the pram femme, thus allowing him a choice of expression.
We ended up having a few words over both the butch and femme items after he allowed Dominic to ride one and push the other up and down the hall like a mad thing. It was dangerous, quite aside from the damage done to floors and furniture. He just about bowled me over with the pram when I emerged from the kitchen carrying a mug of hot coffee. He could have been scalded. I was cross about it. I did not want our precious godson injured while under our care. I'd told Twinkles not to encourage him to run wild.

Both big boy and little boy were made aware of my disapproval. I banned both toys from being used indoors, which put me in the bad books of both spouse and godson. I cared not. We have a perfectly good garden path for Dom to peddle his tractor and push his pram around under supervision.

He’s a lovely boy and good-natured on the whole though he's currently in a phase of having tantrums to get his own way (and I'm still talking about Dominic here.) One of his manipulative methods is to hold his breath until he literally goes blue in the face. It's startling to witness and it works. It terrifies Twinkles. He caves straight in and gives Dom what he wants just so he'll stop holding his breath. Being made of slightly sterner stuff I use the method Dominic’s mum Karen recommended. I flick a few drops of cold water at his face and it shocks him into drawing breath straightaway. It does him no harm whatsoever. Karen, like me, is hardhearted, according to Twinkles and Paul anyway.

I'm being summoned to do my fair share in the kitchen instead of sitting on my lordly backside in front of the computer with my new specs perched on my nose like, and I quote: ‘some kind of school teacherish Mr frigging Chips!’

He wants me to whip up a batch of Yorkshire puddings. I make the best Yorkshires even if I do say so myself. Mine always rise, but his often fall flat. He says it's because I have the common touch and everyone knows that the common touch is the secret to making a good Yorkshire pudding. It’s plebeian food, good, but of low origin. Unlike me, he claims, he has too much class and the batter recognises this and thus feels intimidated.


I might post more month by month extracts from Tales 5 in due course.

Disclaimer: If anything in any of the Stardust Stories offends you then it's just tough. No offence was intended on any level and if you choose to be offended then it's just that - your choice. Please take responsibility for your own feelings instead of trying to bully others into a state of dreadful anxiety and guilt in order to feed your own sense of self righteousness and satisfy some innate grudge you have against the world. I have always been an advocate of gay and transgender equality and like many other supporters I try to be sensitive and respectful. I would ask or the same in return. Thank you.