Online Surprise

It’s Friday night and I’ve just arrived home after a pretty amazing night out, with a couple of surprise meetings with people I have only ever known online. It all started earlier this week with a phone call from Naomi or Noleen or Natasha or whoever from the City of Sydney, informing me I’d won tickets to “Cut Sleeve Boys”. I’m a regular subscriber to the weekly “What’s On” email newsletter distributed by the city, and they often have freebie tickets. which I sometimes join the competition for. I can only assume I was lucky this time, or there weren’t all that many people interested in freebie tickets to the Mardi Gras Film Festival.

As the film was about gays living in London, I invited my mate Paul, who later told me the film had made him feel a little homesick. After some negotiation we decided to meet at the recently refurbished “Beauchamp Hotel” on Oxford Street, which I still refer to as being “across the road from the Albury”. Even though it’s long-closed, The Albury sounds like a “more permanent” landmark than “The Puma Store”. And to this day, I still love the infomal nickname “The Beauchamp” used to have as “The Wodonga”, since it was just across from “The Albury”.

Before we met, however, I received an excited phone call from Graeme telling me of the surprise arrival of an overseas member of ABBAMAIL. Was it Trent home early? (maybe he’d come home early for Mardi Gras). Was it Frida from ABBA? (looking for some more fags to hang out with, and offering Grant a personal apology for the legal action) Or was it ABBAFAN Mikey who loves Australian accents? (I practised my best sexy Australian accent in preparation. “G’day Moikey, noice to meet ya”) No, it was Gustav Sandberg, who I’ve chatted online with for over a decade. He’s been promising to visit Australia for a thousand years, but as I was going through my mind who it might be, I never imagined for a moment it might be him. Somehow he didn’t seem as tall as I thought he was, and he’s a little more shy than I expected, but also incredibly nice. Gosh. what a surprise. He’s here for two weeks, so I’m sure there’ll be lots of opportunity for catching up.

After a few drinks, Paul and I headed off to the movie “Cut Sleeve Boys” (the reference is to a piece of Chinese mythology relating to gays), which concerns the life story of two gay men of Chinese ancestry living in London. They’re both looking for love, although in different ways, as one of them is “quite butch” (or so it seems), and cute, while the other is quite camp and girly and inclined to drag. Think Rose Porteous!

The film’s production values aren’t that high (better than a student video, but not quite mainstream television), and sometimes the narrative and the script are a little naive, but it’s overwhelmingly a very charming film which the audience enjoyed immensely. Although sometimes perhaps a little cliched, though not stereotypical, the characters are also highly believable, and there was a sense of personal recognition for many of the people in the audience. Overall, we (and the audience generally) enjoyed the film immensely.

And then after the movie, Paul and I went for a curry at the one of the cheapie places on Oxford Street. As we were eating our meal, however, a familiar face caught my eye entering the cafe. It was Tyson, whose blog I regularly read. He told me he and a mate had just been to see “Hedwig & The Angry Inch” which we both agreed could have done with an interval. Tyson disagreed, however, with my argument they could have actually ditched a few songs. It was very amusing to chat briefly with someone who I’ve only ever known through his writing. “Oh you’re really famous, Tyson”, I overhead his mate declare, before I headed back to my curry.

Who would have thought both people really existed and weren’t just part of my online imagination?