It would seem like I fell off the blogging wagon. Have I really not written anything since the cruise? How did I go through four countries without writing a word?
Post-Cruise Barcelona (5-20 July)
The cruise finished in Barcelona, and having nowhere in particular I needed to go, I decided to stay there for a couple of weeks. My brother-in-arms from Madrid stayed with me for the first five days. Sadly, I was overwhelmed by work so we didn’t get to do much more than enjoy each other’s company. My main memory from this time is the heat: an oppressive constant unrelenting kind of heat. Our only relief was a fan which was on full power the entire time, including when I lay butt naked in bed with the fan about 2 inches away all night long to prevent me from spontaneously combusting.
Play Week and Stag Hunting in Ljungby (21-24 July)
I returned back to my parental home town this year for the annual play week. I know, it sounds dodgy as hell, but for those who missed it, the Play Week is the annual get-together that my old school friends arrange to 1) have a ton of fun and 2) ensure we stay in touch.
This year broke all records. (Well, it would have if someone was keeping score.)
Play Day 1
Day one was spent on a nearby lake, Bolmen, where we played around with a boat and a jet ski. I was the designated jet ski driver, terrorizing the adults by pulling them at a (literally) break-necking speed on an inflated ring. I took it a bit easier on the kids (oh god, my friends are now all old enough to have kids!) and I am proud to report that ‘I rulez’.
This was also the first of many BBQs, taken on a quaint little island called Välö. (The third bonus letter in the Swedish alphabet is ‘å’. Don’t ever say I never taught you anything.)
In the evening, we all gathered at an apartment for a dinner Murder Mystery. We were twelve people. Eleven guests of the late Mr Toloff, all very suspect, and yours truly, Commissioner Mallander, a leather cop flown in from San Diego to solve the murder. (The maid did it, although the real crime of the night was the outrageous overacting perpetrated by all.)
Play Day 2
A friend of mine, Tomas, snuck away and got married in semi-secret (well, I wasn’t there) and thus we, his nearest and dearest friends, never got to torture and humiliate him. But it is never too late! Carpe Ex-Diem!
This is what we did.
- Hid a smoke bomb by his car so he thought it was on fire. As he ran up to it, a sign told him he had been kidnapped into a belated stag-party-day.
- He shot arrows at a long-hated teacher who graded him terribly badly although he was better than all of us put together. Years of built up resentment guided his arrows and he won two ores.
- We put him in the cheapest inflatable boat money can buy with his newly won ores and had him row to shore next to a water power plant, a long way down river.
- He had to build a smoke bomb to set off a fire alarm, a favourite hobby of his youth.
- Drive an electric crate mover through Ljungby to a factory.
- Rappel down the wall of the factory, stopping midway to shoot an air rifle at a distant target.
- Drive around in a few military vehicles, including an old Russian armoured bandwagon.
- I’ll say that again. We drove around in old military vehicles, just playing around like … like … best toys ever!
- Capture-the-flag style paintballing, culminating in a hunt-the-stag event where it was everyone against Tomas. Tomas couldn’t die while the rest were out of the game if we were hit. Our only chance for victory was to shoot him so many times that the pain forced him to give up. The monster didn’t, and he killed us all.
- Ride in a … oh god. How to describe it. Ehh. A large wood-fire-heated steel bathtub full of water carried by a front-end wheeled loader. (My brother builds the weirdest things.) Destination: Tomas’s country-side home.
- BBQ and party at his house, where naturally there was a blow-up castle for the kids and the adults went skinny-dipping at midnight.
Play Day 3
Time for the annual Beer Tasting at Bear Hill on Lake Bräkentorp. As always, we had a ton of fun, coming up with ridiculous reviews of the beers. We also BBQed some sausages.
Then it was time for our final event, also being our final BBQ, a nice sophisticated kind of dinner thing where we pretended that we were civilized adults and not a bunch of 17 year old kids in bodies twice as old.
OK, OK. I know. That wasn’t exactly seven days… But we definitely crammed a week’s worth of play into those three days!
Unlocking Chastity after a Gay Wedding in London (25 July – 7 August)
My friend and ex-colleague Cubling (a.k.a. Sam) was finally going to be made an honest … well, marginally more honest … man-boy by getting married to his Paul.
It all went down as expected. Two yesses, sophisticated conversations which soon devolved into outrageous dildo-themed speeches, terrible dancing which should be punishable by something awful and finally an undignified ending of the evening as not one but two pants split right down the bottom. (Cubling and yours truly.) All the dodgy things aside, the wedding was a really moving event. It is quite something to witness two dear friends openly declare their love for each other.
The other big thing (well, that I can tell you about. Hi mum!) was the Lady Chastity’s Last Bottle of Red Reserve. She was a piece of work back in the days when she ran the most outrageous nightclub in London. Her decadent parties were fuelled by a wine renowned for its aphrodisiac properties. Obviously she turned to the occult (don’t we all sooner or later) and vanished mysteriously one day. Well, yours truly, Cubling and a few others got together to track down her fate and retrieve her last bottle of wine. To do this, we had to search her basement for clues, solve a series of puzzles, open a locked chamber where Lady Chastity’s skeleton lay next to a four-level wine bottle elevator locked by four mysterious locks. To make a long story short, I played yet another escape game, and I loved it! If in London, go do this thing before it goes away!
(Oh, and the bar upstairs is packed with handsome men!)
Ireland (8-18 August)
I had two weeks to kill before flying to California (I am writing this on the plane right now!) and as Irish luck would have it, my ex-flatmates invited me to visit them in their new suburban dream just outside Galway, on the west coast of Ireland.
Galway celebrated my arrival by throwing me my own personal Gay Pride. How very sweet of them. Someone said that it had been planned for months, but seriously, what are the odds that this little town would even have a pride, not to mention it happening on the weekend when I just happen to arrive. No, it was definitely done in my honour. As Prides go, it was the cutest thing you could possibly imagine. No pumping house music or busloads of leather men. No music or leather man at all in fact. Just proud gays carrying their flag down the quaint village streets and happy Irish people waving their leprechauns.
My friends, my ex and your oh-so-very-truly also went on a few excursions around the emerald isles. The first was to the cliffs of Mordor (mostly sure that was the name), a long range of very steep cliffs. Want a thrill? Walk to the edge, have your toes just touch the precipice and look out over the Atlantic Ocean. Your mind will start whispering, “What would it feel like to just jump.” like some demented advocate of the devil. It’s ok. Everyone feels like that standing by a precipice. Right?
The second excursion was Ratty Bum Castle (almost entirely sure that was the name), a cubic measure of medieval castle. It had one dungeon, two huge gates, three enormous banquet halls, four towers soaked in Irish rain and five chandeliers in the shape of mermaids with moose antlers protruding from their backs like the desiccated wings of an angel.
I’m currently getting drunk on a trans-Atlantic flight to Los Angeles. Next week, I’ll be building a gay bar in the Nevada desert and the week after that I’ll be gifting fake tattoos in said bar during Burning Man. I doubt I’ll have time to post this year’s Burning Man report before I get to San Francisco the following weekend for another Rodeo. So, don’t wait up for me. I’ll get back to you in a few years with more stories.