Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 53 — more from 20 years ago

The previous post — which includes the relevant links to the Wayback Machine — extracted from my otherwise vanished blog posts for September and October 2001 items relevant to what we are all remembering at the moment. But there were other items too, some actually quite embarrassing, some fun to look back on. So I thought I would share a few more. So….

Back to 2001!

02 Sep 2001

Spring again and another Yum Cha

Although it is Spring and Father’s Day, it was a bit cool and windy today. A good Yum Cha took place at the East Ocean Restaurant with the Empress (of course), Malcolm, Sirdan, James, PK (with whom I have had some good talks recently), Bob (a rare visitor — not Shanghai Bob!) and myself. It is interesting as this diary has been faithfully kept for the best part of eighteen months to look back at Yum Chas past: last September for example Sydney was gearing up for the Olympics and was just getting into the mood; we had a couple of Olympic visitors at that Yum Cha.


Twenty years ago this month myself, Rob (rest his soul), John Hawke and a couple of others began the young writers’ magazine Neos. (Simon H. was there in the background too.) The magazine went on until 1985, attracting a pretty fair reputation, including one Literature Board Grant and Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Award for services to youth. My mother was particularly proud of that. Funnily, it was also a time when my own life was at a low ebb, but I survived.

It was towards the end of that time that I “came out” at last, and also began my current principal means of employment.

One year ago this week (September 8), I notice I received a small but significant gift, something I always keep in my wallet and treasure. A rather cryptic note in last year’s September Diary marks the occasion. Since then has not disappointed.

09 Sep 2001

Learning from web diaries…and other matters

On my Diary Key page you will find links to three other web diaries. Each of them is there because it is well written, strikes me as honest, and gives me insight on a regular basis. To take two of them. “Lodestar” is a seventeen-year-old American who has just started college and is very articulate about his own journey of self-discovery, sex and intimacy. He is clearly intelligent and at times emotionally fragile; he has already had problems with depression, which I am sure he will ovecome. I read him with pleasure, not as a voyeur, but as a distant, empathetic witness. “Queer Scribbles” (or “Queerscribe”) is an older gay man, though younger than I. He is far more sexually active than I have ever been, but his journal shows him as very self-aware and again strikes me as authentic. His insights are often valuable. If you check his archive you will see what could at first seem tacky, a page where he rates the people he has had sex/relationships with. (Not something I would do–anyway it would be a short page compared with his!) Nonetheless what he says is actually rather interesting and he does seem to me a person I would not mind knowing. I should add that I have told all three diarists that I have linked to them.

Queer Scribe raises the question then (or I imagine he could): OK, yesterday you had all that to say about degrees of intimacy. What about sex? What about just “getting your rocks off”? The short answer is that may or may not be part of a full intimate relationship/friendship. What is true is that sex is never the foundation of an intimate relationship. If a relationship is based on sex alone it will surely fail. Well–in my view that is. Recreational sex between two (or more?) people is necessary for some, it seems, and may happen with a degree of intimacy that never gets past Stage 1! There may be no harm in that if that is all either person wants…and so long as that basic considerations such as safety and mutual respect are in place. (Rape and any other form of exploitation are beyond the pale.)

Never confuse such recreational sex with intimacy, however. It would also appear that seeking relationship–true relationship–through sex could be a disappointing path to take.

You know something? I never knew real intimacy with another human being until I was past 40! A slow learner, me; but there are many paths, and mine has been mine: I know something now of happiness, and the friendship that in a way has inspired these ruminations is one that has brought and brings a large measure of that. I managed to survive all those years without real intimacy, just! It did leave its mark though, but also taught me a lot. Those younger people who have wasted less time than I did, don’t rush to find all your fulfilment in one place or with one person only. You need your experience to be enriched, not narrowed; and yet it is true that the higher levels of intimacy happen rarely and with only a few people. But it is not good for a young person to be tied down too much.

So much could be said: I rather like Stephanie Dowrick’s Intimacy and Solitude (1991; Random House pb 1997). And despite the fact that I am now utterly convinced (and this from a one-time Evangelical Christian) that all sacred texts are of human origin and one of the world’s most dangerous delusions is the belief in inerrant verbal revelations from the Divine, I still cherish First Corinthians 13 in the New Testament as a landmark statement about love.

11 Sep 2001

Thoughts of a survivor: Guest article by Ian Smith, the Dowager Empress of Hong Kong

It is difficult to give advice to any one regarding HIV/AIDS. However here are a few thoughts from a long-term survivor.

Do not panic. This is easy to say, but the best thing you can do, is ignore the virus as much as possible, within reason. If you are on medication, never miss a dose. Always have safe sex to avoid passing the virus to someone else, and keep alcohol and other recreational drugs down. By this I do not mean give everything up, just try cutting down. Think, ‘Do I really need that E tonight?” If you do, take only half, or less. This has the advantage of saving money. It also has the advantage of not damaging your immune system as much.

Explore alternatives. Smart little dinner parties work out a lot cheaper than a night out on the bars, and have the advantage that you can still hear the next morning.

If you can’t cook, learn; I never eat fast food–eating at home is cheaper and more nutritious than fat-laden Maccas etc.

Do not give up working unless you are forced to do so. Possibly the worst thing you can do is go on the Disability Pension, and then sit around in poverty, brooding about your situation. This causes stress, and all the indications are that stress hastens the progress of the disease. Never even think, ‘I have AIDS!” You do not!! You are HIV+.

Coming out as positive is as hard as your original coming out. You will find some people drop you, and others are wonderfully supportive. Choose who you come out to with care; you do not want the news to be all over the scene within five minutes.

Personally, I am totally out. If I meet a new person, and the conversation looks like leading past the bar or club, I disclose. It is easier than getting into bed and saying “by the way, I am positive” then watching them run. Give them the choice of backing out gracefully in the venue; the damage to your self-esteem is far less.

Find other HIV people. It is easy to do, about half of my friends are positive, the rest negative; all are friends.

Never “Out” someone as positive. They might not be as open about their status as you are. Remember, they have trusted you with the knowledge of their status. Do not spread that knowledge around.

Always try to set long-term goals, and meet them. My present long-term goal is to be at Gallipoli for Anzac Day, 2015. My doctor, who thinks I am crazy, says he will be there with me. Start with targets a year or so away and increase the length of time.

Ian Smith passed away at Bundanoon in December 2010.

19 Sep 2001

Free dinner…and some ex-students

I decided to take a break from world affairs (though they still oppress me). Instead, let me tell you that last night there was the Annual Debating Dinner at Moore Park Golf Club, and quite pleasant it was. I learned that in his youth (in the 60s) the Principal had travelled through Kashmir and Afghanistan! It was at the time of the Sino-Indian Border Dispute, which must have been exciting. Was it the Hippy Trail???

Oscar M**** was the distinguished ex-student guest speaker–somewhat amusing: but then so was he, with an interesting tale about the perils of sharing the Honeymoon Suite in a Singapore Hotel with a fellow debater… Sorry, nothing really interesting happened.

I may indeed not be doing Debating next year; it is getting too much for this old Ninglun.

Today I met two of the class of 1995 in Cafe Niki: CR and C: C always looked gay but turned out to be straight; CR was a highly (sorry–is) talented writer, and apparently came out in Year 12–but I didn’t notice. He’s quite cute too. Learned many interesting things about the class of 95.

24 Sep 2001

Holidays coming…but a lot to do

The school term ends this week, and I gather it is mid-semester break at some universities. Year 12 has its farewell assembly on Tuesday; it seems such a short time since the equivalent last year, which was of course a few weeks earlier due to the Olympics. The Olympics! We have had that glorious weather again lately, but such a different feeling this year–but I told myself not to talk about the war today!

The UTS research project at our school climaxes this week, and it will be a full-on day with all the involved students being interviewed on video, with UTS providing a barbecue for them as well. It has been an interesting thing to be involved in. I will need my relaxation time at Cafe Max this afternoon though, even if the company may not be what it has been the last weeks. Mondays at Max has become a bit of an institution and has been for me one of the happiest things about the past month or so. The proprietor turns out to be a most interesting person too.

I have the place to myself for the week, and there is much cleaning up overdue; circumstances such as mismatched working hours and sleeping times for my flatmate and I have made household tasks a little harder to do lately, but now I can make up for it. There is some business to attend to as well.

I saw the Empress and Malcolm yesterday evening–and I do commend the Empress’s guest item on this diary (September 11) if you have not read it yet. Regular readers will be amused to hear how effective the Empress’s curse seems to have been, as the Flinders Hotel ceased trading last Friday, apparently!

Well, people, may this be a week of rest, restoration, reconciliation, love, friendship, healing…all those good things. I think we all need it.

25 Sep 2001

Year 12 Farewell and…twelve months on

In the entry for 24 September I mentioned the UTS research project was coming to a climax, and that yesterday would be a busy day. It was. However, it went well, and a high point was a lunchtime barbecue for the 7F class who were the subjects of the research, food provided by UTS. I also received a nice card and a mug for my efforts.

I did go to Cafe Max afterwards, where I had a good talk with an old teaching colleague, another gay man, Greg. That made the day end rather well.

Today was the Year 12 Assembly. They (at their own choice) changed a few traditions, making the Assembly more dignified but not stuffy. They had also foregone the traditional “muck-up” in favour of fundraising for the Children’s Cancer Research Council by stopping cars on Anzac Parade to collect money. They expected maybe $500 but collected $4500! Finally, they did away with the luncheon (a bit tedious last year?) and had an afternoon garden party in the courtyard of the school for staff, students and parents–a good idea, and the storm held off just long enough.

I could not help remembering how I spent last year’s Farewell Assembly sitting on a log….

The same rite of passage, same school, different year!

I’ll save October for later….