A Special Podcast

Well it took weeks to write, a day  to record and 26 hours to edit. So I hope you will enjoy this special. We made it for Christmas but it has so little Christmas in it, you can listen to it any time. Christmas is a bad time to release excessively ambitious podcasts as everybody is too busy to listen to them…we did that. So here it is after Christmas. 

You can also grab it at iTunes

And at the podcast website brainjam.co.uk.

Trans Allies and Where to Find Them?

This year marks the 20th anniversary of my coming out as gay to my family and friends.

Back in those days ‘coming out’ was quite a daunting thing to do, not like these days with all the hover acceptance and flying equality. If you’re hetrosexual you’ll probably never have to tell your parents that you like to kiss willies or tongue tickle a clitoris. OK, you don’t say it like that exactly, but let’s face it, sexuality is about who you are sexually attracted to. So stating that you are attracted to people of the same gender you are pretty much fessing up to having sex with them. So, if like me, you were indoctrinated by the Catholic church to believe that sex was a dirty and wicked sin, you can imagine how mortifying it all was.

Anyway in 2005 I turned my back on the LGBT community and went into effective retirement from sexual life. The perfect pecs on the Gay Times front cover, the clubs that made me feel bad about my own skinny then doughy exterior and my inability to earn the “the pink pound” made me realise that I had nothing to offer that world.  I’d had quite enough of falling in love with the wrong people. So the prospect of a relationship gradually faded, until one day I found myself saying to a friend “why would I want a relationship? That would be awful! Having somebody cluttering up my bed and being forced to negotiate with them to watch my favourite TV show, not likely. I’ll be single until I die.”

However fate is a bitch and only three weeks later I walked into a room and met the man I fell in love with. So now I’m paying attention and the news isn’t good.

First I re-joined Stonewall  and had a look at what they were up to these days. Seems that a lot had been happening in my time away. I knew that the equal marriage act had been passed of course and that they were doing a lot of work helping overseas organisations campaign against some horrific human rights violations. However, I also noticed that they were finally fully representing trans people, who  had been pretty much ignored in the past.

Then I began to do my own research and discovered that there is a vast amount of work to do in this country around the rights of trans people. Currently the Gender Recognition Act is a horror story of legislation. It is far more interested in protecting the rights of cisgender people like me, than those of the people it is supposed to be supporting.

For instance, did you know that if a trans person wants to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate they need to have:

• An original or certified copy of a birth certificate
• Copies of any official documents that show their birth name has changed to their current name
• Proof that they’ve lived in their transitioned gender for 2 years.

They also need:

• A report from a doctor registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) or from psychologist registered with the Health and Care Professions Council detailing any treatment they’ve had to transition, e.g. hormone treatment or surgery.

It doesn’t end there, and brace yourself because this one’s a doozy. If they are married they need to get permission from their spouse to legally change their gender.
Yes, you read that correctly. Their partner has veto power over something fundamentally personal because our politicians were worried about cisgender people being ‘forced’ into a same sex marriage. Now this is easily obtained if they have a supportive spouse. But what if you’re fleeing domestic violence or your spouse has run away to a different country? You can’t just divorce them, because divorce takes time and a controlling abuser will fight it.

Then to add insult to injury, a person wanting to obtain a GRC has to pay a £140 administration fee, which they lose if the application is rejected for any reason, effectively pricing out people on a low income.

And let’s not forget that to get to this stage many of the applicants will have transitioned and have already obtained reports from three psychologists and myriad medical professionals. So asking for more ‘proof’ to obtain a GRC is simply insane.

So why do I care?

Well I care because not that long ago Gay and Lesbian people were fighting for equality and in this country and that fight has been largely won. Now trans people are fighting for their rights and it is important that we all stand up and support them.

Things are getting better. The BBC and Channel 4 are doing great work in improving trans visibility on their networks with shows like Boy Meets Girl and Banana and a recent report by the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee has advised that the GRA is amended and a self-declaration system introduced. However the GRC remains and they have steadfastly refused to make any recommendations regarding the spousal veto.

So there you go and as we used to shout in the olden days “I’m queer on a peer, over here. No here!” OK! I’m a little out of practice.

My Year in Review – 2015

It has been a while since I’ve written one of these, so let me begin.

January
Wake up without a hangover, having made the New Year resolution to only use crack cocaine. Spend the rest of the month committing petty crime.

February
Suspended sentence and ordered to attend The Priory clinic. Spend a week vomiting and seeing things, before realising that I am actually in a Premier Inn. Pay large damages bill and go home cured of the crack.

March
Begin writing my first novel but run out of ideas after three words. Spend the rest of the month watching pornography.

April
Catch the Black Death off an antique toilet seat and are poked into hospital by a big man. Begin writing my second novel but blood comes out of my armpits and fuses my laptop.

May
Visit my fictional agent who puts me up for a fictional part in Doctor Who. Spend three fictional days in Cardiff wearing pretend makeup. Taking bookings for conventions now. Have a birthday and drink a yard of petrol.

June
In coma.

July

Awake to see my friends dressed in tin foil hats pretending it is 2000 years in the future. Throw a wee bottle at them and try to drink the bed. Doctors fill me with gravy (I think) and make me sing all of Les Miserables in the nude.

August
Begin a small business selling commemorative weaponry. John F Kennedy rifles selling like hot cakes. 

Sell hot cakes instead.

Arrested for selling hot cakes to criminals. Small fine and ten minutes community service.

September

Uneventful beginning to the month. Buy three bags of sprouts from the ironmonger and throw them away discovering they are actually small green light bulbs.

Receive a phone call from the government. They ask me to deliver my seminar on ‘How Not to Confuse Light Bulbs with Sprouts’ in Exeter at the end of the month for £2.50 and a kiss. I agree to do it.

Arrive at the conference hall and set up my zither and lightning rod. 

Delegates arrive and I find myself unable to take my eyes of the young man sitting opposite me who
quotes Doctor Who and I melt.

Reconstitute myself with a freezer and deliver the seminar, only losing one delegate to the lightning this time. Afterwards I spend two weeks talking and giggling with the young man.

Time to leave so I give the young man my number and feel sure that I’ll never hear from him again.

On the train home and the young man texts me. We talk for three months.

October

The world is only background noise. There is only me and him and nothing else matters. We fall in love.

November

Pull myself back into the real world long enough to record a new Brainjam with Lisa, Tom and Andrew. Then slip quietly away again with the love of my life.

December

Busy! Must buy presents! Must drink beer! Must wrap presents! Must drink beer! Must drink wine!

New years eve! Must drink wine!

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.

“The strange thing is I don’t actually own a dog.”

I bloody love dogs. In fact for the first 19 years of my life, you would have been hard pressed to see me more than a few feet away from one. However that changed the night I handed over the still warm and lifeless body of our little lurcher to the vet, after she gasping her final breaths on our living room carpet. After that, I said goodbye to our canine chums, deciding that the heartbreak was just too much.

Then in 2008, Andrew began seeing a woman called Lisa. Lisa was an animator who worked for the lovely Cosgrove Hall but more than that, Lisa owned a dog called Bob. One day Lisa and Andrew asked me to look after Bob for a couple of hours and I agreed. By this point Bob was already suffering from cancer and had lost a leg. However by the time Lisa and Andy had returned, I’d bought him a toy and stocked up on dog treats. I looked after him a couple more times before he passed away and I was reminded that a home is just better with a dog in it.

After a suitable period of mourning Lisa and Andrew adopted a lurcher called Hunter. The first time I met Hunter was when I opened my front door to a gangly, jumpy, chewy whirlwind. He burst into my living room and nearly knocked me to floor before diving head first into my kitchen flip-top bin (something he still does when he visits). Of course by now he was no longer called Hunter but went by the much nicer name of Dill.

So I was doggy ga-ga again and Dill quickly became the face of The Gentleman’s Review podcast. Let me be clear though. Dill is Lisa and Andrew’s hound, not mine. I say this because I tend to tweet lots of photos of him when he comes to visit and people often think that he’s my pooch. In fact he’s become so linked with me in the minds of my family that he featured on my 40th birthday cake.

So even though I love ‘em, the strange thing is, I don’t actually own a dog.

As an addition, I’d like to say how sad I am to hear about the loss of Floyd the lurcher who’s Twitter updates always made me happy, though I think he may have had help. On the same day my friend Becky lost her lovely lurcher Flossy who was a three and a half legged wonder of the world. Rest in piece my furry chums.

Even though this blog has its fair share of sadness, I would still like to encourage those of you who are looking for a new hound to consider adopting one from your local rescue charity. However, if like me, you work all day and live in rented accommodation. You can always donate some money to keep the lights on and the bellies, of humanity’s best friend, full.

Podding

This year is my sixth year of podcasting, so I thought I’d write about why me and my chums do it.

A couple of years ago in Edinburgh I spoke to a reasonably well known comedian who told me that he couldn’t understand why people did podcasts when the audiences for them are so small. He was right of course, unless you have an existing audience base built up through years of live work it is unlikely that your podcast will trouble the iTunes charts.

So why bother?

We bother because there is something wonderful about writing, performing, editing and publishing something yourself. It’s nice if lots of people listened to it too but audience figures are not the driving force. It is the joy of produce something with very little money that is only limited by your own talent. In my case, extremely limited. In fact you may well call it a hobby and if that hobby suddenly becomes successful as in the case of the Answer Me This and Welcome to Night Vale, all the better. But being in the iTunes chart should never be a reason for continuing or ending a podcast. The shows I do with my friends are not in the charts and probably never will be but we still get a several hundred downloads a month. The way I look at it is if you were doing a live sketch show for 800 people, you’d feel that you were doing quite well. So why bother that you’re not getting ten thousand? You still have an audience.

Podcast audiences are the nicest around. They support podcasts like a football fan supports their favourite team. Recently we unexpectedly found ourselves in a tricky situation. The sound recorder we had used since 2008 to record all our podcasts died and the problem could not be repaired. We had tried in the past to record podcasts using a variety of computers but had found that the computers generated so much electronic noise that the recordings were unusable. So we were stuck. None of us are particularly well off so the £100 required to replace it could as we have been £1,000,000. That’s when I hit upon the idea of starting a funding page, I quite honestly didn’t believe anybody would donate money to keep us going but I submitted the page and told the people of Twitter and Facebook what we were doing and within 80 minutes we had passed our target. This completely stunned me and I was speechless for some minutes that such kind people had put their hands in their pocket to save our enterprise before being moved to tears by some of the kind comments made with the donations. No, we’re not at the top of the iTunes charts but we do have the best listeners in the world. Beat that ‘Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4’.

In the spirit of supporting ones favourite podcasts, here are mine in no particular order.

Vitriola Music

Adorable comedians Michael Legge and Robin Ince discuss their favourite music and musicians in a bid to encourage people to buy more records and tapes. It is a joyous half hour of old men shouting at each other, imagine a lovely Statler and Waldorf and you’ll be somewhere close to how entertaining this can be.

POTOm

To call The Trap a sketch group would be like calling Albert Einstein ‘a bit brainy’. They are in fact a quantum singularity of hilarity created by the critical mass of Jeremy Limb, Paul Litchfield and Dan Mersh. Their podcast is called ‘POTOm’ and it makes me hurt laughing. It is also the reason for Brainjam’s house style of referencing old radio and TV shows. Being similar ages to Dan, Paul and Jeremy we often found that we were treading on each others toes and I’ve lost track of the times I’ve deleted sketches after hearing a funnier version weeks before we were set to record. In short POTOm is the gold standard for comedy podcasts.

The Angelos & Barry Show

Angelos Epithemiou and Barry from Watford have teamed up for this ridiculously funny podcast. Best not to listen while using heavy machinery as my mate crushed his head while laughing near a mangle.

The Colonel’s Radio Show

The Colonel and Sage Macorkadale have been a fixture on my iPod and iPhones for many years now. The brainchild of father and son double act Josh and George Tobin-Dudley it is a regular tour de force of character comedy. One day I hope to see them do this on a stage in front of an audience.

Podcasta Non Grata

Adem Koci off of Australia talks about the things that vex his brain. It is the only podcast on this list not on iTunes.

Welcome to Night Vale

Set in the community radio station of a small desert town called Night Vale, Cecil Palmer – who from what we can tell is the only presenter on the station, narrates the strange adventures of the town’s population.

The Bugle

You know what this is. If you don’t, shame on you.

Of course it would be remiss of me if I didn’t plug our podcasts. To make it easy just go to brainjam.co.uk, where there are links to all five of our podcasts.

I’m away for a weee. Byeee!

Ideas

That was quick! It was only an hour between publishing yesterday’s blog and the summary execution of Mr. Laughs’ television show. So today’s post is about my winning the Euromilliner Lottery. HAHAHA! It isn’t really. Which is a pity because I could have done with a giant box of berets.

The blog is actually about the horrible business of buying Christmas presents. As year after sodding year goes by, it becomes increasing difficult to purchase original gifts those you loved. So this year I have made a list and checked it twice, just for you. You know? To take the crying and killing out of what should be the most wonderful minute of the year.

Christmas List

Mother: Embryo hat.

Father: Cramplet.

Sister (small): Petrol.

Sister (medium): Jellied face.

Sister (large): Ghetto grease.

Sister (enormous): Jest pump.

Brother (inverted): Box of space.

Brother (prefabricated): Gay snakes.

Brother (elasticated): Gas wand.

Grandmother: Pickled Bible.

Grandfather: Ginzillade glass and monocle set.

Friends: Spiders.

Enemy: The Ring of Rassilon.

When you’ve bought that lot, settle down with some Bailey’s and have a good listen to the Brainjam and Wilson & Wolfenden podcasts. Both are available on the iTunes and Soundclouds, if you are so inclined.

Love you.

Women Again!

 Oh Lord, look at what’s going on! 

For two weeks an earthquake has rocked the already shaky foundations of social media. It has turned previously reasonable human beings into frothing imbeciles and caused consternation to those of us who just want to be nice. 

Until recently the name Dapper Laughs was as unknown to me as…er, well, something that is unknown. However his TV show and Vine uploads have really brought into focus what is acceptable in the modern world of comedy. It has been a sharp reminder that the spectre of the frilly shirted stand up of the 1960s and 1970s is always ready to slime everything that has been built on since the 1980s. 

This could have been such a good thing for comedy. Imagine if it had galvanised the whole community against this one throwback. Comedians standing together to tell him where to go. However, it seems to have had the opposite effect, with far too many comedians taking the side of Mr Laughs believing that they are in some way defending his freedom of speech. Over the last few years the comedy world has seen subjects like race, disability and rape taken out of casual use and placed into the more cerebral arena of the one person show. So perhaps these ‘defenders of free speech’ are simply tired of writing new material. 

So why do I care? After all, I only exist on the fringe of the fringe of the fringe of the comedy world. I care because it pains me to see so many people not understanding why being shitty to somebody because they have different sexual organs is as ridiculous as attacking a person because they prefer tea to coffee. 

Perhaps it’s because I’m a big old gayer that I don’t see a woman as just a series of  sexy bumps and thighs. Neither do I feel that a woman doing better than me is an assault on my masculinity. I love women. I think women are beautiful, brilliant and amazing. Granted, I’ve know a few who aren’t but for the most part I’ve met more male arseholes than female. Completely contradicting my previous blog post. I am nothing if not inconsistent. 

To end this blog I am going to say something which will send many Doctor Who fans into a tailspin. I would welcome a female Doctor. There it is in black and white: Martin John Patrick Wolfenden of Halifax in West Yorkshire hereby states that he would welcome a female Doctor. For those of you who believe that a woman could never play a part traditionally played by a man…well, I’ll just leave this picture here.

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Technorance

I have a confession to make, I sometime don’t know things.

For instance I like music but have very little interest in the people who make it, which leaves me at a disadvantage and I often find myself scurrying to Wikipedia to find out who Nick Cave is or why people are upset that Nelg Flotwich has died. The one thing I don’t do is tweet “Who’s Nelg Flotwich?” Why would I? With the resources available to me I can probably discover for myself who Nelg is without bothering other people and showing my ignorance. However, other people don’t seem to have that same compunction, especially when it comes to technology.

We’ve all met these people. They’re the ones who have a Nokia 3310 and can’t pull it out of their pocket without announcing that they only need a phone that makes phone calls (even though that phone has a GPRS browser and can text). Then they put it back in their pocket wearing a smug expression that they hold right up to the point that they need to find out the time of the last train to Huddersfield. Then it’s “Martin, can you look up the train times for me on that fancy phone of yours.”

Now, you may be thinking, what if they’re poor and can’t afford fancy phones? Well these people are never poor, they’re simply trying to make some kind of point. Also smartphones are not fancy, you can pick up a half decent Android smartphone for £25 at Argos (at date of posting). No, I’m afraid this is something else, something I hate to call Technorance.

I do see the irony of railing against the technorant on a technological medium, so I’m going to stop there and respond to a news story I just read. I may return to this subject in the future, if I can work out how to use the terrifying hover computer.

If you fancy getting to grips with technology, you could do worse than downloading the second episode of the podcast I do with my friend Andrew. You can get it at iTunes and wilsonandwolfenden.com. I would be most grateful if would subscribe on iTunes.

Outragious

At 6:45am this morning I awoke to the sound of chamber music floating from the grills of the digital radiogram next to my bed and the sinking dread that I would have to leave it soon and get ready for work. My morning routine has been like this for years so I know that next on the itinerary is to switch on my iPhone and check Twitter and Facebook. Within seconds of the feeds refreshing I am subject to blogs, articles and videos telling me not to be a sexist, homophobic racist. It’s like an angry headmaster shouting “WOLFENDEN! AT THIS SCHOOL WE DO NOT GRAB WOMEN BY THE BREASTS, WHILE VOTING BNP AND KICKING A GAY BLOKE TO DEATH.”

The problem is that these post are already preaching to the converted. If somebody is your friend on Facebook they probably share many of your views about a fair society and if they don’t, just block them. The one thing I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t reason with these people. They are idiots and they will remain idiots until the day that they die while attempting to cut their toenails with the national grid in a bath full of petrol.

Before you ask, I’m not joining in with the NOT ALL MEN nonsense. Frankly I’m too old to get involve with such tit for tat juvenile rubbish. It is perfectly obvious that not all men are arsholes and neither are all women. For every Justin Beiber there’s a Miley Cyrus and every Margaret Thatcher has a Ronald Reagan. So to suggest that either sex has a claim to the title of ‘most virtuous’ is palpably ridiculous.

If you want to make a difference in the world then promote the work of one of a thousand organisations doing their best to help animals and people at home and abroad. The world doesn’t need more Twitter and Facebook outrage, but it does need you promote the work of these organisations so that they can continue to help the neglected and dispossessed of this planet.

Here is a link to my favourite charity, Tia Greyhound and Lurcher Rescue. They do a fantastic job keeping pointy nosed dogs safe from extermination, while they wait for somebody to give them a loving home. Here is a picture of Dill (The Podcast Hound) who came from Tia seven years ago and is adored by us all.

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However Dapper Laughs is a disease.

Now I’ve got that off my chest I’d like to plug the brand spanking new Wilson & Wolfenden podcast. The first episode will be up on iTunes and wilsonandwolfenden.com.

Have a lovely day.

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