Chapter Number 15
I took myself around the town Monday night to a few pubs and clubs to see just how they were coping with the new Smoking Regulations, and what an entertaining evening it turned out to be. Every establishment had a group of smokers standing outside the doorways, all huddled together under building canopies in an attempt to stay dry or light another cigarette.
Pushing my way through into the “Capricious Man Bar” I found it was disturbingly quiet, just three people sitting quietly talking in one corner. Then I noticed a sign directing people to the smoking area, a freshly put together space down some steel stairs in the back yard. Built around the home of the previous barrel, gas bottle and dustbins with great imagination was a lean-to made of see through corrugated plastic.
This covered half the area which had been furnished with a few wooden barbeque table sets and lanterns all around decorating the rough brick walls. Every few feet along the walls were doors, each with its own label such as: pump room, sewage outflow, gas chamber, electricity switch room etc and in-between every door a wall-mounted cigarette box. The noise of the air-conditioning machines and beer chiller motors added yet more to the scene. It may only have been a small concreted area, I might add, but it was very much full of atmosphere. I couldn't help thinking that some rough trade clubs would spend literally many thousands of pounds to achieve this look, and yet here was the real thing.
One of those amongst us decided on a count of the people in the different areas. There were thirteen of us, and in the bar - missing out on all the noticeable and enjoyable camaraderie found the smokers' strange environment where everyone was talking to everyone else - there were just two people. This whole new smoking scene is worthy of visit, even for non-smokers.
Next I visited the Stag bar, which is a tiny, dingy sort of place. The barman there was all alone polishing the counter, then the shelves, then the counter again, then arranging the crisps, and then carefully turning all the bottle labels in the chiller to face the front. He was looking very miserable. I guessed he was probably a smoker himself. In the time it took to have just one drink a few more people arrived, but they were only the staff setting up the disco who for some reason all huddled around a vacuum cleaner in great discussion. It did all look rather pathetic.
Off I went again to yet another pub - a busier one this time, but not as busy as one would have expected. After all, it had been very popular, and there was the drag show to come a bit later. The DJ was attempting to breathe some life into the customers, but they all sat around the tables looking bemused and cheated of the atmosphere. Occasionally a couple would get up and leave to stand around outside the door on the street, joining others there, including some of the bar staff and bouncers, all having a quick cigarette.
The next I was going to try was the pub on the corner, but a peek in through the large windows told me it was completely empty apart from the bouncer who was peering back out. I thought better of going inside, deciding to just stand there and smoke a cigarette before going on to the last venue on my list, which was just around the corner. This is a large bar that has the luxury of a decked sun terrace.
From inside the bar I was able to look out at the terrace and watch the rain sweeping across the decking. Thoughtfully someone had left one umbrella still open above a table out there, but that was being tossed about in the wind and throwing rivers of water down onto the backs of the few smokers brave enough to try cramming underneath it to get a fix.
Just like the other bars and clubs inside it was very sterile and subdued. It looked like the non-smokers had taken over the world - and there was certainly lots of room for them in this part of it. I suspected it was with great amusement that they watched the unclean amongst us gagging for a fag, and braving the indignity of standing around in the elements.
Still, I was glad to be a part of these particular lepers, at least they were really enjoying themselves - unlike the prissy supercilious few left sitting around in the huge deserted open spaces of the bars, all sipping away slowly on their half-pints and bottles of mineral water.
Now that Lance has set up my computer and given me a few hours of instruction on how to search the web, I have had many a happy hour exploring - only to be castigated by him a few days later for filling up the computer with links to all the mucky web-sites and an amazing amount of pop-ups advertising casinos and porn sites etc. These just seem to appear out of nowhere, even when the browser is not open, and are a nightmare to get rid of. Delete one and another ten appear behind it.
Anyway, not to be distracted, I came across a gay site that promises to find the man of my dreams. All I had to do was fill out a very comprehensive online form with all my personal details and provide a picture, which I got off my web site, and tell them exactly what I was looking for in a partner. I could then search the database myself, and my details would also be available for all the other members of the site which apparently number hundreds of thousands. Honesty is the best policy, I considered, if I was to be serious about a long term partner, so I put exactly how old I was, what my interests were, suggesting that I was of average looks and build, and was a self-sufficient business person with my own guest house in Southtrend-On-Sea.
What was I looking for? Well, I said he would have to be good looking, of course, slim, clean, the same age or even younger than me, self-sufficient naturally with his own income or working possibly in a professional capacity at least for the moment, interested in the Arts and Classical Music, enjoy country walks and entertaining at home etc. Once the the form was filled, and my credit card debited the £45 for the supreme platinum service, hey presto, I was in and able to look at all the other members and their ads. It just took my breath away: pages and pages of pictures of half-naked and completely naked guys from eighteen to ninety, with quite explicit descriptions of what they wanted. I must say, the vast majority seemed to just want sex, anything from fisting and sado-masochism to rimming!
There were baby fetishists, lads looking for sugar daddies, and rubber and vinyl enthusiasts, some complete with pictures of them naked in gas masks. Of course there were a great many ads that I thought of as looking similar to mine, and with pictures that they would not be ashamed to show their grandmother. Somewhat cautiously, I started sending short emails to register my interest, and to see if they would respond. I had already decided not to respond to any that had a naked picture, or had described their most personal measurements.
The very next day my inbox on the site had over three hundred emails, all seemingly desperate to meet me. With great excitement I spent the whole day looking in fine detail at all the profiles, and reading the most incredible array of offers of all sorts of sexual exploits. There were offers from quite a few who wanted to come on the next train down. Some had attachments of very explicit pictures of themselves.
Amongst all them, there were just ten that were in fact quite appealing, and to which I duly responded by suggesting that they telephone me and arrange to come for a visit in the very near future. I am now hoping that some actually will, and shall let you know just how I get on. It is all very exciting really. After reading all the emails, I added to my profile what it was that I was not looking for - just to try and thin out some of the most unsuitable from responding. I must say that this amounted to several paragraphs, but still the emails keep on coming.
Lance, when I told him what I had been up to, was somewhat critical of the whole thing and I began to wonder if he was just a bit worried about his own situation. I went to some lengths to assure him that his position, staying with me, was secure no matter how long it took him to find a home and work of his own, if indeed that was what he wanted to do. However it transpired he was only very concerned for my safety. He has insisted that if anyone comes to see me, he wants to be around to vet them. Beautiful lad! He has since added spam filters, virus checkers, and put my machine on some sort of parental control which he says he won’t lift until I know what I am doing.
I did notice that he can get to his Tranny sites though, and without any problem. Bit of a cheek really, but he does know what he is doing and I suppose it is only sensible, although I've had to draw the line at him wanting to vet my emails before I have read them myself.
The environmental health man called again this week and was extremely complimentary about my guest house, passing it with flying colours this time. With him he brought a very large, quite ridiculous, folder that is impossible to shut without a lot of fumbling and the contents dropping out all over the floor. Called “Safer Food, Better Business”, this is especially for me, and so then he spent the next hour explaining what it was about. It was the new regulations in food handling, and had to be completed daily.
There was a pictorial section that looked very similar to a children’s early learning big print book, and detailed instructions on all the procedures and management controls that had to be in place, along with lots of check boxes to tick and personal cooking procedures, cleaning schedules etc, all to be written out.
Working my way through it, I think I have now got the hang of it at last. The bonus is that there is a day to day diary section which has to be completed each and every day, and this will be very useful for keeping track of any respondents from the web contacts that I hope to amass, as well as somewhere to put my advance guest bookings in. What a boon it would be to anyone doing the horses every day.
It's the last week of June and the bookings are definitely a bit slim, so I have been trying some of these online booking web sites. Looking through them, I picked out twenty-five free ones and five that you have to pay for. They all seem to be so positive that their sites are looked at by hundreds of potential guests each week all eager to book accommodation, that it seems silly not to join them. Especially as they virtually all will put my advertisement on and link it to my webpage. I can’t lose can I?
I have decided
to be listed on a selection of gay and straight sites, to get as much
coverage as possible. I am really beginning to need it now, so I consider
the £480 I've paid out, along with the fee sites, will be a good
investment in the end. The last attack on getting business was to put a
box advertisement in four of the most popular gay magazines, although the
cost of these combined adverts did make me wince a bit. But hey, it will
be nice to see my place in print, and I look forward to all the bookings
that will come flooding in. I can pass the overspill on to my new found
friends. I'm surprised they haven't done this themselves already. I shall
have to tell them about it when we next meet.
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