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Winter in the Village

Wayne Clews declines a Christmas with the parents and goes for the Rembrandt instead

Published on December 18th 2007.

Winter in the Village

When it’s no longer possible to move in the city centre thanks to the invasion of those worryingly orange faux-Alpine huts, it’s a reminder that, for many people, a much dreaded time of year is upon us once again. The heady whiff of gluhwein and mince pies in the air mean that it’s time for otherwise sophisticated, career-driven people to forsake their cosmopolitan lives in Manchester, deserting their friends, to travel to the arse-end of nowhere and spend the Christmas period at the family home: otherwise known as the place you possibly spent the unhappiest years of your life.

On Christmas Day, rather than enduring pickled relatives, the other half and I shall make our usual lunchtime jaunt to the Rembrandt on Canal Street

Heaven knows that being banged up with a bunch of people who have known you since birth is bad enough, after all they can dig up every minor humiliation from your chequered history, but for gay people it is even worse. Those prickly pangs of guilt every time some tipsy relative enquires whether you’re courting, your mother hints heavily that Christmas isn’t the same without small children running round causing chaos and your grandma witters on about when she’s ever going to see you bring home a girl with a ring on her finger before the lethal combination of sherry and medication take their toll.

Of course, one option is to be brutally up-front: stage a dramatic coming out scene over the Christmas dinner table and suggest, perhaps, they wouldn’t be terribly interested in meeting last night’s ten-to-two pick-up from some sticky dance floor or other, whose name escapes you and, once the poppers had worn off, left you with nothing more than a sense of self-loathing and a headache.

The answer, in my opinion, is to keep well-buttoned and give the family a wide berth. I should know after a rather drunken coming out incident with my own brother in the local pub one Christmas Eve. My brother was, to my bemusement, selling pickled onions to the locals, and, after my little spot of news, got so drunk that he fell asleep on the toilet at home and my dad saw in Christmas morning breaking down the door. My brother hasn’t spoken to me since, but it’s only a matter of five years or so. And the bathroom door was never the same.

This year, I shall again be spending Christmas in Manchester. On Christmas Day, rather than enduring pickled relatives, the other half and I shall make our usual lunchtime jaunt to the Rembrandt on Canal Street. Not somewhere we would usually frequent, neither of us resembles a lumberjack with a penchant for leather after all, but if you ignore the odd man waving his genitalia at you in the urinals, it proves to be a friendly, welcoming diversion on personally what I feel to be an over-hyped day.

Christmas shouldn’t be about feeling guilty. There’s plenty for the most obvious scene queen to do over the festive period in Manchester and, even if you want to spend the day necking Dubonnet and trawling Gaydar, then fine. I won’t judge you just because I’ve got better things to do. I’ll probably be too addled on port by then to care.

Confidential Choice

Black Angel
After something of a hiatus, the funky divas are back for their first ever Christmas party. Expect a blend of hip-hop, R’n’B, funk and a bit of old skool from DJs Debbie Jump, Claud and Ali.
20 December, Mint Lounge, Oldham Street, City. 10pm-3am. £5.

The Leeds super-club abandoned their recent weekly venture after an alleged dirty tricks campaign from rivals. However, they return on Boxing Day for an almighty seasonal shindig that must be a good excuse to get out of the house.
Boxing Day, The Ritz, Whitworth Street West, City. 10pm-4am. £12.

Manhunt Christmas Party
Not one for the ladies, apparently. The Manhunt boys promise to host a spectacular party with go-go dancers and a few seasonal surprises. If you’re unfamiliar with Manhunt, their name is a bit of a giveaway really.
December 23, Cruz 101, Princess Street, City. 10pm-2am. Free to members.

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AnonymousDecember 18th 2007.

Her real children somehow managed to bread? The little flours!

AdrienDecember 18th 2007.

Being the eldest son of a substantial matriarcle family, the matriarch being slightly less stable than Pat Butcher of Eastenders fame. I too fear the ritual humiliation of a family Christmas. I however came out 20 years ago and have been with my current partner for over 11 years, however my mother refuses to call my partner by his actual name, instead using any she cares to pull out of her Christmas hat and then proceeds to lament about her real children, judging their success in life by the fact that, despite advances in modern science, they have somehow managed to bread. The Rembrandt - do I need to book in advance?

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