Robert Hampton

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16th September 2015

Stuff happens
Posted by at 10.10pm | It's My Life | No responses


As August gave way to September, I found myself in something of a low mood. There were actual tears produced at one point.

It had been a stressful few weeks. Work has been difficult, I’ve had an End of Module Assignment to deliver to the Open University, and on top of that, I’ve moved into a new flat.

You may remember that, when last we met, I’d just acquired the keys. The apartment was devoid of furniture, fittings and most of the other things that are required to – ahem – “make a house a home”.

I didn’t immediately realise what I was letting myself in for, but it turns out that being a grown up is hard.

It didn’t help that there was a long list of niggles to sort out. The Virgin phone line didn’t work and required an engineer to come out. I phoned up Liverpool City Council to sort out council tax and was put on hold for nearly an hour because the telephone operator forgot his computer password. I had to phone Scottish Power on three separate occasions to actually get an account set up. United Utilities asked me for a water meter reading… and I couldn’t find the meter. The sofa I ordered failed to turn up on time.

For the first couple of weeks, I spent my evenings eating ready meals on a deckchair in the bare living room (because I had no dining furniture). I would probably have had a nervous breakdown, were it not for my amazing family and friends who rallied round with practical, financial and emotional support. Too many to mention individually (and I don’t want to forget someone and upset them) but you know who you are… and THANK YOU.

After all that, it was fortunate that September brought several events which cheered me up no end.

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1st January 2015

Travels with Hampo

Happy New Year to all three of my readers!

On a personal level, I think what I’ll remember most about 2014 is the travelling I did. The start of the year set the tone, as I headed down to that London to say goodbye to 2014 in the company of Ian Jones. We checked out some interesting theatrical stuff and I also saw one of the most precious artefacts known to man:-

Tom Daley's trunks

I suspect a gay man is curator at the Museum of London, but I can’t be certain of that.

Ian was also around in March when I headed out to Amsterdam. We eschewed the budget airlines in favour of the rail-based option, travelling to the Dutch capital via Eurostar and Thalys. That was a fun trip, but I feel that what happens in Amsterdam should stay in Amsterdam (actually, we checked out some museums, rode the Metro a bit and we looked but didn’t touch in the Red Light District).

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18th June 2013

London Wander Round
Posted by at 9.56pm | Out and About, Stage | 1 response

So what else did I get up to in London? Well…


PastoralI always like to see a play when I’m down in London. This time round I eschewed singing Mormons and naked Italian men in favour of an altogether more sedate affair, Pastoral at the Soho Theatre.

This was a strange story of nature gone mad, following a group of friends who are stranded in their flat when some catastrophe causes plants to grow exponentially and animals to turn feral, destroying anything man-made in their path and leaving people fighting for their lives.

It’s a dark comedy; sometimes very dark – it’s not every day you see the killing and eating of an Ocado delivery man played for laughs – but overall it was an interesting idea, with great performances from the cast and some brilliant special effects (not easy in a small theatre on a tight budget). It was something a little different, and I enjoyed it immensely.

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17th June 2013

Left Hanging
Posted by at 11.16pm | Out and About | 3 responses

Emirates Air LineAfter the stress of my exams, I decided to unwind by giving myself a holiday. First, I headed off to the Isle of Wight, the story of which I am writing up over at my other blogpart one here, and part two here, with part three to follow shortly.

After a few days there, I decided to go to London to spend a happy weekend in the capital. My accommodation was The Strand Palace Hotel, an altogether too luxurious place for a pleb like me (they had a man in a top hat opening the front door!) but why not push the boat out once in a while? It’s in a brilliant location on The Strand, within easy reach of most of the theatres, Covent Garden, the London Eye and (ahem) Soho. The only downside was that I didn’t get to ride the Underground much, as most places I needed to go were within walking distance.

One mode of transport I did get to ride was the Emirates Air Line … or the “Arabfly Dangleway”, as London-based blogger Diamond Geezer would have it.

This new cable car across the Thames, linking Greenwich to the Royal Docks, opened in June 2012. It is the “brain” child of London’s ever-popular mayor, Boris Johnson. As you may have gathered from the name, the Emirates Air Line is sponsored by the Emirates airline, who paid to have their branding on the cable cars and stations, and also for cutesy details like referring to the cars as “cabins” and journeys as “flights”. This sponsorship helped to offset the construction costs, meaning the cable car didn’t cost a penny to the taxpayer… oh, apart from the £24 million cost overrun which had to picked up out of TfL’s budget.

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27th March 2013

Wilde Life
Posted by at 8.15pm | Stage | No responses

Judas KissThis post contains minor spoilers for the play The Judas Kiss, so you may wish to avoid it if you’re going to see it.

Ian and I didn’t spend our entire weekend riding the rails. We also enjoyed some high culture courtesy of The Judas Kiss, a play at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London until 6th April. It was very much a last-minute arrangement and the tickets we had were “Restricted View”, but for £15 we weren’t about to complain. As it turned out, we were in the Upper Circle and although part of the stage was blocked, we could see most of the action. This proved to be important later on.

The play is about some key moments in the life of Oscar Wilde and his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas (“Bosie”). Act One takes place in a hotel just before Wilde is arrested for gross indecency. His friends advise him to try and get out of the country before the police come for him; Bosie advises him to stay and fight the case. Wilde’s trial ended up with him being sentenced to hard labour in prison. Act Two takes place after Wilde’s release, when he is living in France, destitute. Bosie is with him, although he is far from devoted to Wilde, seeking out other men to play with at the same time, and ultimately deserting Wilde completely.

Judas KissRupert Everett is great as Wilde. After Stephen Fry’s amazing performance in the 1997 film Wilde, I wasn’t sure I could accept anyone else in the role, but Everett pulls it off magnificently. He delivers Wilde’s scathing one-liners with perfect comic timing, but also showing the vulnerable side to the man. The younger cast (including Freddie Fox as Bosie, Ben Hardy as Arthur and Tom Colley as Galileo) are all excellent. Overall, it’s

But more than anything else what stuck in the mind was the nudity… there was a lot of it, and fairly unabashed it was too. There’s a brief glimpse of a man and woman having sex at the start of the show, but then in the second act a man (one of Bosie’s conquests) gets out of bed, wanders around stage naked, then sits in the corner for twenty minutes or so eating a bun (with everything on show), while Bosie and Wilde argue.

This is not a complaint; it was very thought provoking. The thoughts it provoked, well… I couldn’t possibly discuss them on a public web site. In an interview with BBC News, the play’s actors talk about the challenge of being naked on stage. Getting your bits out for an audience – now that’s something which takes real, er… balls.

Anyway, I highly recommend The Judas Kiss (not just because of the nudity, honest). It’s an entertaining two-and-a-half hours, and a salutary reminder to gay men everywhere that, not too long ago, the law looked unfavourably on “the love that dare not speak its name”.

26th March 2013

Capital Letters
Posted by at 11.48pm | Out and About, Trains | No responses

Giant London Underground roundelSo, London then.

I was there over the weekend of 16-18 March at the invitation of likeable Finchley-dweller Ian Jones, who zeroed in on an idle Tweet of mine like a ninja. On the first day of my week off work, I found myself on a Virgin train down to the Smoke.

Disaster struck early in the trip, as the Northern Line through Finchley was closed for engineering works. So, to actually get to Ian’s home, I faced the prospect of a rail replacement bus from Golders Green. First problem was actually finding where the bus stopped – Golders Green station has a row of bus stops right outside the station entrance, but of course the Tube replacement service didn’t stop there. No, you had to turn right out of the station, walk along a footpath, cross a road and board the bus at a temporary stop underneath a railway bridge. MAKES SENSE.

The line was, in fact, closed so London Underground could test the new Northern Line signalling system. Excitingly, for much of the weekend we could see a constant procession of test trains from Ian’s kitchen (which looks out onto the railway line). Less exciting was the fact that they went at about 5 mph and kept stopping and starting. Clearly all is not well with the new computers yet.

Undeterred by the lack of trains, we set out to explore some of the capital’s transport delights. Ian, in case you didn’t know, is the author of the excellent 150 great things about the Underground blog, and was keen to show me some of his favourite places. I will freely admit that a good proportion of the weekend was spent wallowing in our mutual transport geekiness.

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21st March 2013

Getting Away From It All

Blurry LondonFor the first few years of the blog’s existence there aren’t many records of trips out, because – well, I didn’t like to leave the house. More recently, however, I’ve taken the advice, “you need to get out more,” to heart. I’ve ventured out more and more.

London features regularly – in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The last trip was with my friend Scott and seemed to involve hanging around the Abercrombie & Fitch store and then going to see West End Bares, a charity burlesque show. If this gives the impression that we enjoy looking at naked men, that is… accurate.

I like London, with its Oyster cards and palaces and whatnot. I think it helps that I have loads of friends who live there, so I can avoid expensive hotel bills by imposing on their generosity. In fact, I’ve just completed another London trip (this time with my friend Ian). It’s waiting to be written up, once these retro-blogs are out of the way…

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31st December 2011

2011 – more like Twenty E-Heaven!
Posted by at 5.04pm | It's My Life | No responses

2011 will surely be remembered as the year I lost my blogging mojo. Certainly from August until mid-December, there has been a dearth of postings. Well, it has been a quiet time in the world, after all.

The lack of activity here on the site is in stark contrast to the activity in my life. There’s been a hell of a lot going on for me – I just, er, didn’t tell you about it.

Travel was on the agenda: this was the year I left the UK for the first time in 25 years, when I visited visited Estonia. Less exotically, I started my Station Master blog (currently in hibernation, but back with a bang in 2012, I promise). I also found time in September to celebrate my birthday with a weekend in London, and had a smashing day out in, er, Birmingham.

Yes, 2011 was the year I got out and about a lot. I didn’t even allow the swiping of my iPhone, by an expert pickpocket, to dissaude me.

I got up close and personal(ish) with McFly at their Liverpool concert, after my friend Andrew got tickets. I also saw Beautiful Thing, in its original stage incarnation, in Manchester. I failed, however, to get tickets to the Olympics.

An event which required no tickets was Liverpool Pride, which was great fun despite a funding shortfall which enforced a change of location. 2011 was really the year when “gay” really did mean “happy” for me. The cap on it all came in the Autumn, when I gained and then lost a boyfriend (it lasted only a few months, but the important thing is it happened).

Finally, with only days to go, I fulfilled one of my new year resolutions for 2011, by doing a videoblog – believe it or not, this grainy, poorly-lit video promises great things for the future.

So that was 2011. Hopefully 2012 will be just as, if not more rewarding for me. Maybe I’ll even write a blog post or two about it. Or not. Happy New Year everybody!

6th September 2011

Blowing away the cobwebs
Posted by at 1.50pm | Out and About | No responses

London Euston stationWell, it has been a while since I last blogged, hasn’t it? I’m not quite sure what explanation I can offer. Maybe nothing interesting has happened in my life; maybe I’ve been too lazy to write anything. I suspect it is some combination of the two.

Now, however, it’s time for me to account for my whereabouts since Friday. If you’ve been following my Tweets, you will have noticed that I was in London over the weekend. A trip to the Smoke was something I’ve been pondering for a while, I decided to go to celebrate my birthday (which was yesterday, in fact). It proved to be a great weekend, offering the chance to catch up with friends old and new.

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9th August 2011


London has experienced days of rioting in various parts of the city, there was disorder in Liverpool last night, while tonight Birmingham and Manchester are under attack.

From watching the near-continuous news coverage, I have come to a terrifying conclusion: our notion of “law and order” only works if most people behave themselves without intervention. Once you have a sufficiently large group of people with no respect for authority, the system breaks down and the police are easily overwhelmed.

The chickens are coming home to roost. For decades, social issues have been left to fester, leaving us with areas of high unemployment and high crime, where many people exist without any purpose or direction in life. This situation has been perpetuated by successive Conservative governments (who simply didn’t care) and Labour governments (who cared deeply, but failed to get to grips with the problem).

Now to compound the problem the Government is pushing through vicious budget cuts: not just to front-line services like the police and fire brigade, but also to services like youth clubs and other community organisations. And then they act surprised when it blows up in their faces.

Tough-sounding soundbites from Theresa May and David Cameron won’t solve this: it requires long-term thinking. Unfortunately this sort of thinking is not favoured by politicians and their friends in the tabloid press. We will see demands for the return of National Service, calls for water cannons to be turned on the rioters, and wails about the Human Rights Act. The actual root causes will not be addressed, and the problems will be stored up again for next time. Repeat ad infinitum…