The Mixing Bowl

7 Dec


I popped into my local British Heart Foundation charity shop today, to have a browse. I’ve been mooching around charity shops, jumble sales, car boots and second hand stores for over 20 years now. It’s funny that when I was first introduced to jumble sales and charity shops when I was a young teenager by my late father, I felt embarrassed, extremely self conscious and  hated every minute of standing in the shop whilst dad had a good search through the rags, bags and bric-a-brac. However, since my college days, and especially since being with T, I love having a good browse and scouring the shelves for a good, decent bargain, the racks for a designer shirt, jeans or T-shirt, the books for a bargain read and a quick chat with the friendly staff behind the counter.

So it comes as no surprise that as we’re known by the local shopkeepers, I took the opportunity to do some voluntary work for one of the local charity shops for over a year…I felt the whole experience as extremely beneficial to me for a number of reasons:

1) It stopped me procrastinating and staying at home

2) provided me with the opportunity to meet new people and engage in light conversation with regular customers

3) motivated me to seek out new skills relating to retail and  experiences

4) has increased  my confidence and self-esteem and

5) allowed me to contribute my time and commitment to a worthwhile cause and the feeling of self-satisfaction that I had given something back to the community.

As I grow older, I realise that it is important to give something back to the community but I also realise that as time goes on, people tend to become more and more selfish to the point that they don’t know what to do with themselves. We seem to have lost the ability to interact, be creative and think in practical terms. We have become a “why bother?” nation and look to someone else to fix it for us, whether it’s the TV, DIY, electrical appliances, relationships, homes, gardens,children, businesses…it goes on and on. Sometimes I think we need to look to ourselves and take on more responsibility for our actions and reactions. That’s why I think it’s worthwhile to do some form of voluntary work,whether it’s short or long term. Just to take time out and do something completely different, it doesn’t matter if it’s in a charity shop for a few hours a week, helping people less fortunate than ourselves or in a more creative/business  environment, it’s always worth trying something once. You never know what you might getback from your new venture unless you can be bothered…



Talking of charity shops, whilst I was in the British Heart Foundation, I bumped into one of my friends’ neighbour. She means well, is very chatty and forthcoming. A blonde bobbed mother of two, married to a man who looks like a film actor from a bygone era…Sometimes she looks quite harrassed and stressed out, other times she appears quite calm, assertive and confident. Personally, I’m not too sure if I want to get to know her better as a friend or keep her at arms length…

Anyway, I digress… we had a brief conversation and she mentioned that she had bought a mixing bowl for £2.50. Now, as I’ve already mentioned, I also enjoy baking and was looking for something similar. So I said if I’d come in a few minutes earlier, maybe I would’ve been able to purchase it first!? and thought nothing of it as I believe if I was meant to have the bowl, it’s a bargain bonus, if not, it doesn’t matter and life goes…But the neighbour replied, in jest, for me to keep my hands off her bowl as she spotted it first, Girlfriend! and tried to flick her wrists and click her fingers at the same time a la Drama Queen. Now, don’t get me wrong but if you want to do that sort of thing, that’s fine. Do that if you like. But don’t assume that just because I’m gay, I also like that passe, cliched camp stereotype. Because that’s all it is…women who know camp, gay men think that all gay men are the same and to impersonate what originally evolved from gay culture and adopt it as a new fashionable mannerism is, as far as ‘m concerned, offensive. I might be camp, theatrical or flamboyant in my own way, but it doesn’t mean I have to be into the whole “You Go, Girl!” click fingers and move head side to side thing.

When people do that today, especially women who have adopted a whole load of gay styles, phrases, mannerisms, anthems and embrace gay men as ther new best friend, I think it just feeds into the stereotype that all gay men are the same. We’re not. We come in all different shapes and sizes, with different beliefs, values, identities, individualities and identities…a whole framework of varied styles, mannerisms , idiosyncracies, foibles and more. Because making that sort of assumption doesn’t do anything for the acceptance of gaymen and the Gay Rights Movement…It’s  a bit like assuming all blonde women are dumb, doesn’t it?

imagesCA0R7M1X                                imagesCA155MMQ                                               marilyn[1]

The Learned Kat


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