Online Surprise

It’s Friday night and I’ve just arrived home after a pretty amazing night out, with a couple of surprise meetings with people I have only ever known online. It all started earlier this week with a phone call from Naomi or Noleen or Natasha or whoever from the City of Sydney, informing me I’d won tickets to “Cut Sleeve Boys”. I’m a regular subscriber to the weekly “What’s On” email newsletter distributed by the city, and they often have freebie tickets. which I sometimes join the competition for. I can only assume I was lucky this time, or there weren’t all that many people interested in freebie tickets to the Mardi Gras Film Festival.

As the film was about gays living in London, I invited my mate Paul, who later told me the film had made him feel a little homesick. After some negotiation we decided to meet at the recently refurbished “Beauchamp Hotel” on Oxford Street, which I still refer to as being “across the road from the Albury”. Even though it’s long-closed, The Albury sounds like a “more permanent” landmark than “The Puma Store”. And to this day, I still love the infomal nickname “The Beauchamp” used to have as “The Wodonga”, since it was just across from “The Albury”.

Before we met, however, I received an excited phone call from Graeme telling me of the surprise arrival of an overseas member of ABBAMAIL. Was it Trent home early? (maybe he’d come home early for Mardi Gras). Was it Frida from ABBA? (looking for some more fags to hang out with, and offering Grant a personal apology for the legal action) Or was it ABBAFAN Mikey who loves Australian accents? (I practised my best sexy Australian accent in preparation. “G’day Moikey, noice to meet ya”) No, it was Gustav Sandberg, who I’ve chatted online with for over a decade. He’s been promising to visit Australia for a thousand years, but as I was going through my mind who it might be, I never imagined for a moment it might be him. Somehow he didn’t seem as tall as I thought he was, and he’s a little more shy than I expected, but also incredibly nice. Gosh. what a surprise. He’s here for two weeks, so I’m sure there’ll be lots of opportunity for catching up.

After a few drinks, Paul and I headed off to the movie “Cut Sleeve Boys” (the reference is to a piece of Chinese mythology relating to gays), which concerns the life story of two gay men of Chinese ancestry living in London. They’re both looking for love, although in different ways, as one of them is “quite butch” (or so it seems), and cute, while the other is quite camp and girly and inclined to drag. Think Rose Porteous!

The film’s production values aren’t that high (better than a student video, but not quite mainstream television), and sometimes the narrative and the script are a little naive, but it’s overwhelmingly a very charming film which the audience enjoyed immensely. Although sometimes perhaps a little cliched, though not stereotypical, the characters are also highly believable, and there was a sense of personal recognition for many of the people in the audience. Overall, we (and the audience generally) enjoyed the film immensely.

And then after the movie, Paul and I went for a curry at the one of the cheapie places on Oxford Street. As we were eating our meal, however, a familiar face caught my eye entering the cafe. It was Tyson, whose blog I regularly read. He told me he and a mate had just been to see “Hedwig & The Angry Inch” which we both agreed could have done with an interval. Tyson disagreed, however, with my argument they could have actually ditched a few songs. It was very amusing to chat briefly with someone who I’ve only ever known through his writing. “Oh you’re really famous, Tyson”, I overhead his mate declare, before I headed back to my curry.

Who would have thought both people really existed and weren’t just part of my online imagination?

7 responses to “Online Surprise”

  1. Tyson Avatar

    Already back in the “comfort” of Wollongong. It was a pleasure to meet you!

    Was it not you who spotted me when I went up (also with Greg) to see Bob Downe a few years back? Also, i’m intrigued by the chinese mythology reference.

  2. Tyson Avatar

    Also, I finally got around to replying to your comment on my site. I may take a while, but I do reply!

  3. james Avatar

    Yes it was me a couple of years ago. And nice to meet you also. And I’ve since come to know “Bob Downe” quite well too. It’s “two degrees of separation”, isn’t it, in Australia?

    The “cut sleeve” reference is explained at the beginning of the movie and on the film’s website…

    “The Passion of the Cut Sleeve – Fact or Fiction?”

    “In the Han dynasty (220-260 BC) Emperor Ai(6BCE-1CE) was responsible for another poetic expression, “Tuan Hsiu” translated as ‘The Passion of the Cut Sleeve’.The emperor had woken up one day to find his beloved male concubine asleep on his sleeve. Unwilling to disturb the sleeping youth, the emperor cut off the sleeve of his royal robe. So deep and thoughtful was the love of the emperor for his concubine that “Passion of the Cut Sleeve” became a favoured court statement by the Han literati as a term for male love.”

    Significantly in the movie, one of the characters cuts their shirt sleeve so as to avoid waking up their lover. Growing up in country Australia, we called it a “dingo root”, meaning you’d chew off your own arm in an effort to escape…

  4. Tyson Avatar

    “Dingo Root”… so romantic.

    Bob Downe was a real treat. I had a row of queens behind me, a bunch of twenty-something hipster females to one side, a middle aged hetero couple to the other and some 60 year old ladies in front of me. Not one of them stopped laughing the whole time. I was one of the “seven and a half” people who bought (and loved) Mark’s jazz album too.

  5. james Avatar

    I think it was Danny Bhoy who I’d seen that night in Newtown, though I can’t recall, and I can’t find the exact reference in my blog. Yes, Bob/Mark attracts a wide and diverse crowd, which is a good thing.

  6. Tyson Avatar

    So, can I safely assume you won’t be travelling down for the local production of Cats, headed by the same guys who did “Dracula Triumphant”? Don’t worry, I won’t be wasting my money either, although I look forward to hearing how they manage work work underwear into this one. I actually suggested that my friends who have cats should take them along and audition.

  7. james Avatar

    I’m a great fan of all types of theatre. Saw a good amateur production of Chess last year. Going to see a production from Wagga that’s playing tomorrow night in Newtown, and on Sunday, I’m off to see Hayden Tee in Cabaret… but I draw the line at Dracula Triumphant. Not a great fan of Cats, though, aside from Memory.

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