Sunday, May 16, 2010


On Friday I saw the movie "A Single Man".   I was keen to see it as there had been a lot of discussion about it on Forums I frequent and I am a fan of Colin Firth (and not just because of the smouldering good looks of Mr Darcy).  I was disappointed that it did not open in Sydney until February (after I had left) and was not to open in NZ until mid-May.  I guess that is one downside of moving here. By the time movies are released here, everyone else has moved on.  The book has been on my shelf for probably over 20 years and I thought I had read it.  I considered re-reading it but it was sitting with nearly all my books in a shipping container for over a month.

I was surprised that none of the film seemed to ring any bells with me but now that I have started to read the novel, I believe that I probably never read more than a few opening pages.  It is very slow, just like the beginning of the movie, which I found disappointing despite Firth's excellent acting.  In fact it was only by the end of the movie that I began to feel I liked it.  The book also does not have any chapters which is off-putting to me who reads in bed before going to sleep and likes to have a chapter end as a goal to keep reading just a little bit more before turning out the light.

It has set me to thinking about the lack of a significant other in my life.
George (Firth) and Jim had been together for 16 years and it had ended with the tragic death of Jim not long before the film begins, leading to the day (the story only covers one day).  George spends much of the day planning suicide as he cannot live any longer without Jim. I will not comment more in case you have not seen it.

However it had me asking what is wrong with me.  I have had one significant relationship in my life  which lasted all of 15 months.
We met on November 24th, 1979.  My diary says "met Garry and brought him home"  He stayed the night. A week later I had a dinner party of 10 guys and invited him.  My diary says he stayed late.  Another week later it was just him for dinner on Saturday night and my diary says he left late on Sunday night but on Monday he rang me and I wrote "I am so happy".

Every day then either says "Garry rang" (he did not have the phone on at home where he lived with his mother so I could only ring him at work) or Garry stayed. He came to Christmas Tea with my family.

Throughout 1980 he was with me nearly every weekend.
In April I went to Europe as it had been already planned before our meeting and included my first attendance at the Oberammergau Passion Play.  He considered joining me for all but the play (by then booked out) but decided against it.  I was away for nearly 2 months and visited Greece, Italy, Spain and Paris ringing him about once per week.  He had to wait at my home for the prearranged call because he still did not have a phone.
Then in the 4th week away I spent a night in Freiburg, Germany and, ignoring my best intentions, visited a sauna and met a beautiful French guy.  I felt guilty but told Garry and he said the fateful words: "I did not expect you to give up sex completely while you were away".  That was carte blanche to me (it was pre-AIDS) as I went on to visit Munich, Amsterdam, London, New York  and San Francisco.

I was back home by mid June but things began to deteriorate as I felt stifled and, while I cannot find any references in my diary, I know I occasionally went out to gay bars by myself during the week although Garry continued to come to my place on Saturday night and stay until Sunday evening for most weekends of the year and occasionally stay during the week especially during school holidays. For Christmas 1980 we again had lunch with our own families but he had the evening meal with me and my mother.

It was in February 1981 that he wrote me a letter about my unfaithfulness and I was unable to promise to change.  We continued to go out together and even spent 2 weeks away in Queensland the following September but it was no longer the same and by 1982 he is no longer mentioned in my diary.

We still keep in contact. I had dinner with him and his partner before moving to NZ and had a long chat via skype on his birthday.  Our birthdays are 2 days (and a number of years apart) and he usually rings me as mine is first but this time I was able to ring him as he is not on skype so just sent a card and I was able to surprise him with a call.

While we are friends,  I have no regrets as I cannot see myself living with him today.
What does amaze me is that he was having new relationships within a few months of our breakup. About a  year later he bought a house with another guy (as we had planned). This fellow was intensely jealous and led to us seeing less of each other. I now know he beat Garry up.
There were 2 or 3 others before Garry met the lovely much younger man with whom he has now lived for over 16 years.

Meanwhile in the 29 years since, I have not met any man more than once. By 1984 the threat of this new killer disease, AIDS, cured me of the gay bars and one night stands which I admit I had found more exciting than a committed relationship.

People ask me how I can travel overseas alone for several months and my reply is that I have no choice.
I know many have just not understood how I could move to a new city in a different country where I knew no-one. However most of the friends I was regularly meeting just before the move I had only known for a few years and none were gay.
I have a few friends dating back 30 or more years (such as Garry) but, even before my move to NZ, I only saw them every year or so with, perhaps, a phone call every 6 months. Emails can be more frequent. Moving two thousand kilometres away does not change that.

But thinking of the movie and the strong feelings George had for Jim, I felt a little wistful and sad.

Yesterday I searched for my post on John Barrowman singing "I am what I am " Today I read the post on 'The Wild Reed' titled Dream song and there is John again, this time singing with another openly gay British singer, Daniel Boys, the song from the musical Chess, "I know him so well"
I do wish I had grown up in an era with openly gay singers, judges, politicians and even Episcopal bishops. Would I have been any different? Would I have found it easier to develop a committed relationship? Who knows? Anyway enjoy.


Calamity Jane said...

A great post Brian

Davis said...

Well, Brian, I suppose Garry was ready for a commitment and you were not at that point ready. But there is less of that excitement and more contentment in committed relationships. As you know I travel alone most of the time as my partner is not free to travel very often.

We enjoyed the film - Mr Darcy still being a tug for both of us. But we were struck more by the beauty of the film rather than the story, which though it felt quite right, failed to some degree.

motheramelia said...

You are so brave to post this.

Birdie said...

I loved the film, more for its beauty than its story.

Do not lose hope for love. Allow for the possibility as you continue to make new friends in NZ and around the world.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

A bold post and true for many.