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Supine future October 8, 2007

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

OK, that’s enough grammatical nonsense now. No doubt most of these tenses/moods/whatevers don’t even exist. And I’ll be blowed if I can remember what the supine is. Apart from meaning lying on your back.

Speaking of which, I went to a gay bar not long ago. I didn’t lie on my back there, though there was quite a lot of that sort of thing going on on screen. And I had pangs of sympathy for porn-stars who seem required to come together in quite the least comfortable of positions.

The gay bar’s not bad for people-watching. And still just about the only place I’m not too mortified to go to on my own if drink is deemed absolutely necessary and there’s no-one handy to imbibe with. I might often pop to a gay bar with a pal. Even with the Russian once in a blue moon. But on your own is best for observing the full, undiluted misery of certain aspects of being in the gayers.

Arrive at a gay bar late and it might already be vaguely pulsating and that can be hopeless. There might be people having fun. Smiling. Knocking back poison. Watching whatever the gay bar is choosing to show on its screen, if it has one, which might well be Czech soldiers rodgering each other senseless (with their oohs and aahs helpfully subtitled into English) but might easily just as well be some nonsense film, or scenes from Eurovision, or MTV, or some other bollocks.

But arrive early and it might be empty enough for you to sit, if your mood’s just right, and witness grimmery in slow-motion. My last absolutely essential bout of solo-drinking at the gay bar came unpredictably early. I ordered a beer I loathe to make the occasion all the more miserable, smoked for all I was worth and watched life go by.

A middle-aged gent who is either married, in the closet or has come out that day creeps over the threshold paralytic with fear. He edges himself to the nearest corner of the bar, still close enough, in theory, to make a dash for the door, and whispers his order. The barman bellows that he can’t hear, what with the distraction of the Hungarian soldiers who appear to have got waylaid during their exercises and have ended up porking in an abandoned barn plus the boom boom boom of whatever the music they’re playing is. The shy type whispers again. The barman bellows back twice as loud to make sure that he’s grabbed the attention of the other punters – all three of us – so we stare at the shy type to make him feel uncomfortable (and, anyway, it’s got to the plot-setting bit in the new film. The Slovak soldiers aren’t in a barn yet but are still at the willy-waggling stage at the urinals. No need for subtitles). He eventually has success articulating loudly enough that he’d like a beer, which the barman pours with record-breaking slowness to make him feel just a little bit less welcome. Five minutes later he retrieves his tiny beer and retreats to a hidden corner as close to the door as possible.

The tourist queens arrive with a look of stunned horror. Why only four people? They explore the premises in case there are people hiding under tables or behind pillars and then trudge resignedly to the bar. They order in English. The barman leers back with contempt but provides them with refreshments. Again, they mope round the bar in disbelief that no-one is there bar me, the shy type, some regular or other who monopolises the barman – I think they’re discussing the porn and seem very knowledgeable – and a respectable older gent in a suit and with some sort of satchel who makes a poor attempt at trying to look busy.

I sip my beer. I mourn in advance the fast-emptying packet of fags. I watch the other punters coping with life as best they can and snatch the odd look at the perfect boys from the Austro-Hungarian empire pedestrianly shagging on the screen.

A familiar face or two gradually drifts in. I do my best to avoid eye-contact, as do they. This bar seems to have unintentionally etched itself a niche where folk go to drink and watch. Either the other queens who drink alone in bars or the entertainment on screen (which has mysteriously changed to The Golden Girls. Perhaps it’s Happy Hour).

A falsely jolly queen arrives and hollers, mistakenly thinking that what he has to holler might be of interest. He recounts to a long-suffering friend every thought that enters his head. Every expression appears carefully chosen. Every mannerism is rehearsed. He blinks artificially slowly. Spontaneity has long since left the building.

The place de-empties slightly as one solo punter after another walks in. Some look nervous. Some do confidence. Most are probably on the pull at some level or another. Sometimes an eye is caught and that may either linger or shift determinedly or shyly away. Some will gaze longingly at the object of their desire, whether the desire be of the raunchy kind or just someone to drink life away with. Some will be here by default, their feet as trusty as any guide-dog in getting them there every damned night and somehow getting them home again, not that they’ll have remembered the end of an evening with anything bordering clarity since 1986.

The perfect boys are back screwing on screen. It is unclear whether this is intended as encouragement or discouragement. “Look what you could be doing!” “Look who you haven’t got a hope in hell of bedding (or barning), drunken old losers!” Most people pay it little attention. Some stare blankly. I glance at an article in a gay magazine on why transsexuals are sexist.

We drink quietly on.



1. narrowback - October 8, 2007

hmmm, are you sure you’ve never been to “Little Jim’s” on Halsted in Chicago’s boystown? it’s a spot on description.

I’m curious, which establishment did you visit?

2. itinerantlondoner - October 8, 2007


I think every major city has at least one bar that meets that description, it’s absolutely spot-on.

My enjoyment of those sort of bars is directly linked to whether or not I’m single. When i’m in one whilst not single, it can be fun to people watch. When single, it can be quite depressing.

3. marshaklein - October 8, 2007

Ah, but were you people-watching or researching this?:


4. pleite - October 8, 2007

Marsha, no-one offered to spend 40 quid on me at all. Which is perhaps not surprising. Though I’d probably have consented to them doing so. And willing agreed to 20% off (something or other).

Itinerant – so that IS you! Thought so – thank you, and, yes, mood is key (as I suppose it is with anything). Of course there are non-gay bars which also have their bar-propper-uppers too. I’m sure my father probably used to go and jabber to the barman, or mope into his pint(s). But I do think a good chunk of the lonelies in gay bars are looking for something more, rather than it just being a place to go to unwind, and that can make it a bit more sad-seeming (unless they’re successful, of course, in which case hurrah!).

Narrowback, damn, you blow my cover immediately. I am forced to admit that it is a slight cobbling together of a number of different bars. Which could just as well be in London, actually. Except I don’t know, because I don’t know the London gay scene really. There were certainly bars like it in Paris when I was there too.

5. Marsha Klein - October 8, 2007

That sign made me think more in terms of your designing a new “BiB from H&M” fashion collection…

6. narrowback - October 8, 2007

that wasn’t my intent…i was just wondering if it had been any of the off the beaten path kneipen i’ve stumbled into…

you’re right about non-gay bars which also have their bar-propper-uppers..like yours my dad had his favorites – the kozy kabin & the u-needa-rest. all the spark of a funeral home

7. pleite - October 9, 2007

Narrowback, what top names! Yes, I’m sure my father’s ‘popping up for one’ didn’t do much for his longevity either. Still, I suppose it must have been quite nice having a local, unless he really did just sit and stare into his pint(s).

Marsha, I probably am virtually all decked out in H&Mery. Or used to be, at least. I’ve tried to get it out of my life, like Lidl.

8. itinerantlondoner - October 9, 2007

I’m quite familiar with straight bar propper-uppers from my time working in pubs in Canterbury and London.

I could never be a barman for very long – it is part of the job to keep talking to them and while the occasional one would be entertaining and interesting, most of them would start off depressing and end up incomprehensible as they moved onto their umpteenth light and bitter of the day.

There was one in particular in the pub in Canterbury (who was a smuggler – which makes his ‘job’ sound a lot more romantic than it actually was, seeing as it entailed driving to and from Calais weekly to pick up fags and booze) who would be there 90% of the week, and even remained fixed in place on Wednesday nights when the otherwise very straight pub turned gay. He would then spend the rest of the night muttering away about queers. He had no problem with the lesbians though – anyone who could play pool was fine by him.

9. pleite - October 9, 2007

Itinerant, oh dear, though you have made me laugh. I’ve never been a barman, though I was once a waiter, and very rubbish I was at it too. Even the other staff told me I should go and get another job.

That’s funny that the regular even kept himself regular for the gay nights. “I’m not gonna be pushed out by some poofs,” I can imagine him saying… to the poofs. And hurrah for lesbian pool prowess. You never know what’s going to improve our image with our straight brothers and sisters. I’m still waiting for Lawrence Dallaglio or Jonny Wilkinson to come out. I’m bored of this gent being the toughest gay (in the village).

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