When I got uprooted to Oak Ridge TN from the UK, back in 2000, I really felt that I didn’t know where ‘home’ was. That was until I realised that home is where your friends are – Oak Ridge had Chad’s elite fitness group into which I had been admitted, it had our little gay coven we call Tuan Jie, it had the Circus in which we performed and, above all, it had my beautiful Dave. So, after the Edinburgh shooting, after which we remained in UK quite a while, it was definitely to ‘home’ that we returned when we finally got back to Oak Ridge, home of the ‘Wildcats’.
Well, Dave and I were at the High School there for a little over a year, but we never achieved ‘Wildcat’ status, our sport of acrobatic gymnastics initially being unrecognised. Well, not until our great friend, assistant coach Andy O’Connor got involved, and the school found our what fun gymnastics for boys actually can be!
Of course, your real hometown is where you were born. For that, and for where I spent my first five and a half years, I take you to Northampton, set in the heart of England. Famous (at that time, early eighties) for a failing boot and shoe industry, a crap soccer team (Northampton Town, the ‘Cobblers’), a middling cricket team, and not for much else. Oh well, the huge Carlsberg brewery, I guess deserves a mention for those that enjoy their lager. I suppose it does have some interesting features – an ancient market square, for example:
This does have a curious link with our present UK ‘base’ Cefn Derwen in Wales where Dave and I have invested some of our ill-gotten gains from performances: just about under the photographer’s feet is the so-called ‘Welsh House’ where a Welshman lived whose job was to translate and negotiate between English farmers and Welsh drovers who had walked their cattle hundreds of miles from the hills and mountains, for sale.
Those early five and a bit years, I did have some good friends and we did have good times – a lot of trainspotting on the nearby main line to Scotland (can you believe that? – OK, anoraks, here’s a train of the right vintage at nearby Blisworth where I used to be taken with my friend Peter – we used to write down the big numbers on the side of the locomotives!).
I’m just old enough to remember that the big church in the first picture – All Saints – used to be surrounded by hoards of red buses, every route in the town terminating there – that was before they built a hideous concrete bus station. I did get to ride the red buses – they kept a few going, for old times sake I think:
BORING! Oh well, nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia, just for once. Although I was moved on to Oxford when I was six, and met a whole lot of new friends (as previously posted), I still have an affection for the place and my gran still lives there at an amazing old age.
The first of the books, ‘Loving the Boy’, now due out next month, is entirely set in my adopted home of Oak Ridge TN. ‘The Power of Love’ (due end of this year) does, very briefly take in Northampton and rather more of Oxford. But, of course, they mainly chronicle – ooh, that’s a good word in the Northampton context because the local paper was ‘The Chronicle and Echo’, otherwise known as ‘The Chronic Eck’ – they mainly chronicle the story of Dave and I falling in love, our acrobatic adventures with an expanding group of gay friends, adventures on tour around the world, and two major mishaps.
And finally, not to disappoint the regulars expecting gymnastics and fitness pix:
Just look at the biceps that gymnastics has given this guy! And then, these shoulders:
Dave looked over my shoulder just now and said ‘Ah, the gym, that’s really our home!’, and I suppose he is right. At least he has spared you reading about his home town (Barrow-in-Furness) unless he decides to contribute more usefully to this blog!
Anyways, plenty more pix like these to come, and a bit more news now and again. So, thanks for visiting, and come back soon!