Saturday, May 19, 2007

A visit to the London gay interbank drinks

I hadn't socialised with my colleague P since last November, so chatting to him recently, we decided that the May interbank drinks evening for gay people who work in the City would be an ideal occasion to catch up with each other. Each month I always try and attend, but I had been unable to go along in April so the last time I was there was in March.

Design of May 2007 interbank inviteWhen the day came, it turned out that another gay friend of P's was interested in coming along, so together the three of us arrived reasonably early to ensure that we'd be able to get a table for the evening. P offers to get some wine, and soon we're tucking into an adequate albeit unexciting bottle of house red Burgundy. We're chatting away about various subjects when suddenly P's friend has to take a call on his mobile phone.

"Do you remember K?" says P's friend when he gets off the phone, speaking directly to P.

"Yes of course," replies P, "why do you ask?"

"Oh, I just need to discuss something with him. He's somewhere nearby, so I said he may as well come along and meet us here :-)."

"Wwwwhat?" says P going white as a sheet, and looking more than a little uncomfortable, "I, errrm, I..I'm not sure that's appropriate :-(, after all he's straight isn't he!"

"Errr OK," says P's friend, looking a bit taken aback by such a negative reaction.

"Well, perhaps we'll go somewhere else when he gets here then, how about that?"

"Actually I think you should meet him outside," says P firmly.

They look at each other, P looking a bit trapped and defensive, and his friend looking surprised.

A nice way to end a busy day"Well I guess there may be some guys here who are only comfortable because they expect everyone to be gay too," I try and offer helpfully, "so if they see K here they might be upset to be outed to him if they know him?"

While P's friend gets out his mobile phone and sets about phoning K, P leans over to speak to me quietly.

"It's just that I've never told K that I'm gay, not that he'd mind, I guess he obviously knows anyway, but, well, we've just never discussed it, you know, so I feel very awkward!"

But before I can reply, and while P's friend is still on the phone trying to get through, K walks straight into the room and spots us at once.

"Hi guys," he says with a huge smile on his face.

"Oh hi, I'm GB," I say with some enthusiasm, while P's friend is putting his phone away, and while P himself is trying his best to look comfortable.

As I'd expected, everything works out fine. Gradually P relaxes, and at one point when I'm talking to P's friend, I can tell that P has a brief chat with K about the fact that he's gay. In the language of my recent post about gay lifestyle competence, P is still a few belts away from his black belt. However it's occasions like this, that end up working out OK, that will help him graduate to higher competence levels!

Later in the evening I'm at the bar getting another bottle of wine, and looking at the wine list I decide that the 2001 Meerlust Merlot would be more fun than the house Burgundy that P's been feeding us with. While waiting to be served, I look around the room and suddenly spot Rye of Got Gay?, all on his own quietly sipping his drink. Having recently moved over from Canada this must be one of his first interbank drinks events, so while the barman is dealing with my credit card I go and say hello to him.

A fellow blogger :-)"Hi Rye," I say, "so how are you settling into London life then?"

"Oh hi GB," says Rye, "not so bad :-)."

"So where did you end up living in the end?"

"Hampstead actually, not ideal in some ways, but I had a terrible time finding anywhere that would let me have dogs."

"Well at least it's handy for Hampstead Heath while you're waiting for bud to arrive :-)!" I say mischievously.

"I'm not like you GB," laughs Rye.

Unfortunately I have to get back to my friends with the Merlot, so I bid Rye farewell saying that I hope to see him again soon.

The Merlot turns out to be a good choice. After around twenty minutes though I have to leave, because I've promised boyfriend number 1 that I'll have supper with him :-). It must be hard though, moving your life from one country to another and leaving all your friends behind, so on my way out I'm glad to spot Rye in the distance chatting to a couple of people. Although I lived in Singapore for a few months in the early 1990s when I was working on a project for my employer back then, so far at least I've haven't been brave enough to move to another country on a permanent basis!

1 comment:

GB said...

Ahem - dunno if anyone wanted to comment - but if anyone did, apologies for accidently turning the comment facility off when I originally posted this. And thanks to HBH for letting me know!
GB xxx