Hello, and a warm welcome to my blog. Right now the very least I can do is begin with an introduction, and, a little bit of history just to get you up to speed on where I am at. You can say hello too by leaving a message here. Please don’t be shy. I’d love to get comments from you and hear some of your own thoughts on what I am writing about along the way.
So here goes. Guido and I are a couple. We have been together for fifteen years. Guido sometimes describes this as 15 long years. He can’t actually speak grammatically in italics but whenever he tells people how long we have been together it definitely always has that emphasis. It is also always in bold. In gay terms I will concede this is a very long time. We could probably phone up the Guinness Book of Records and be in with a chance of getting our names in it as an entry. I can just visualise something about us under a heading title along the lines of “Inexplicable Tests of Endurance.” Length wise I think gay years are something similar to how you would work out and count out dog years. They have more longevity than a heterosexual year. If a dog year is worth seven human years I am pretty sure a gay year must be worth at least ten. That would mean Guido and I have actually been together for 150 years and might explain quite a lot.
You may already have guessed that Guido is Spanish. His name is very Latino. His parents might as well have gone the whole hog and just called him Manuel. I am Jean-Paul and I am British. As for my own parents, considering they are not actually French, all I can say is they showed an uncharacteristic flash of imagination with me on the naming front. Needless to say this has meant that for as long as I can remember I am routinely asked whether I am named after that famous Gallic actor or a highly admired and much loved, but unfortunately dead, Pope.
I am an interior designer. I know, I know, its a gay cliché but what can I tell you. I wear the colour pink a lot too. There are just some things you have to mentally get over. I was working in central London fifteen years ago designing the lobby and bar of a hotel in Bermondsey when I stopped by at a small café called The Spanish Onion. It was just around the corner. I was hungry and I wanted a sandwich. Sorry to sound so dramatic but little did I know that my quest for something as simple as lunch would alter the entire course of my whole life. It looked like a cute little place. It was dinky and dark and there was a big plastic Spanish onion hanging above the entrance door – there still is. I remember it was swinging wildly in the wind. It was when I got inside and reached the chiller cabinet that I saw Guido for the first time. I had long suspected my gay radar needed recalibrating but let’s just say I definitely heard the distinctive sound of a submarine sonar bleep. His whole look stopped me in my tracks.
Guido becomes a bit of an oxymoron after you get past his name. He is atypical to the Spanish mould. He is six feet five inches tall. He has hands the size of frying pans and feet as big as silver platters. He has blue eyes and blonde hair long enough to pull back into a pony tail. Instead of owning a bistro in South London he looks like he should be throwing the javelin for the next German olympic squad. He told me quite a bit later that when he was a child his parents used to take him back to Spain to visit relatives in Malaga and he felt like Gulliver on a trip to Lilliput.
When he speaks Spanish he sounds Spanish but when he speaks English he sounds like a London cockney. When I saw him I was like one of those rabbits transfixed in the headlights just before they become what is commonly known as road kill.
I didn’t know it at the time but the café had been owned by his parents for years and he had just taken over responsibility as they had decided to retire to down town Dulwich. If I had gone in a few weeks earlier Guido probably wouldn’t have been there, so I was lucky our paths crossed. Perhaps someone up there likes me. Let’s just say our eyes met over an olive ciabatta.
I can tell you Guido was very generous with the pesto filling.