Sweet Dreams – a short film by Richard Francis Shepheard

Ric Shepheard was the great love of my life. When I first met him – back in 1995 – after a weekend of mind-blowing sex he chipped in, “Hey, do you want to come see my film being premièred at the Lesbian & Gay Film Festival next weekend?”. Shallow as I am, I was in love.

As it turned out, it was probably the 2nd best film on the roster. Most of them were awful, and the one that was better was made by the daughter of someone high up in Channel 4, so no shortage of help from Daddy or shoestring budget. Even having seen it, I was still in love.

Ric’s own relationship with the film was conflicted. Funding it with housing benefit fraud, it nearly sent him to prison. It was not the breakthrough he craved, and he considered his career as a film-maker over (unless you include the promotion short ‘AOL Dogs‘…) When he left AOL, I got the Design Dept to produce a full movie poster for it, and he was furious.

Anyway, from a crappy VHS transfer, here it is. If I ever get a chance to get my hands on an improved copy, I’ll post it here.

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Mac users: avoid the Ricoh Aficio SP100SU at all costs

A friend got the Ricoh Aficio SP100SU printer for free in an offer from PC World online. On paper, it looks like a nice little black & white laser printer with scanning, so a nice freebie.

However, there are absolutely no Mac drivers available, and I even had trouble finding the XP drivers in a VM, resorting to a Windows 8 test VM I had for an old project. The Ricoh website seems to be have been designed by a team of the decendants of German Enigma builders, escaped from Nazi Germany and spirited away to be raised in a fortified compound in the highlands of Chile, far from innovations such as “usability” and “democracy”.

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Rick Santorum is still in the race?

I am shocked that Rick Santorum is still in the running for the US GOP nomination for the 2012 Presidential Election.

Has no-one read The Handmaid’s Tale?

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Pentolina’s opening night

Pentolina postcard

Pentolina on Blythe Road

Michele & Heidi Ballarati have taken over the old Blythe Road Restaurant in Brook Green. Tonight is opening night at their new place, Pentolina. They’re fully booked for opening night so I hope its a great success!


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Flaunden has a new website

Flaunden in Hampshire has a new website: www.flaunden.com

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Telegraph kills critical comments on snide “gay divorce” story

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Telegraph in error

Telegraph in error

On Thursday, the Telegraph gleefully ran a story: “ONS: gay ‘divorces’ up by 44 per cent“, written by Tim Ross and Roma Wells. The story draws on data from Britain’s Office for National Statistics to show that there has been a whopping 44% increase in dissolutions of civil partnerships. They also point to a disparity between gay men and lesbians in that:

In the five years since civil partnerships became legal, 1.6 per cent of formalised gay male relationships have been dissolved, compared with a dissolution rate of 3.3 per cent for lesbian partnerships.

For me, this is a transparent attempt to feed the Telegraph trolls. If you were to install a truth-serum extension in your Firefox, the headline would read:


I do not doubt the veracity of the statistics, as they come from ONS. But either the writers are unqualified to interpret them, or this is a deliberate attempt to feed the latent homphobia in the Torygraph readership.

Firstly, the whopping 44% increase is actually from a very small increase in real terms. Dissolutions in 2009 were – according to their own article – a mere 353. In 2010, just 509.

Secondly, Civil Partnership has only existed since December 2005. I would imagine that the rate of divorce/dissolution is not constant across the lifetime of a marriage. It would be highly unusual for a couple to be together a decade, get married and then a month later decide to dissolve the union. You have to live with people a while before you realise you made a mistake terrible enough that you have to employ lawyers to sort it out. So these first 5 years of data are going to be highly skewed by the recency of the institution of civil partnership. Lazy Googling quotes an average of 11 years being the age of the typical heterosexual marriage – if we’re going to make judgements on the newsworthiness of gay marriages compared to straight, I’d suggest we look at the data in 2020 or so, not now.

Thirdly, considering the fact that observations about gay dissolution rates are mostly meaningless until the data has had time to settle, what would be really newsworthy would be if the rate of gay divorce is significantly different to that for straight marriages.

Regrettably, the ONS does not publish comparable statistics. Their press release of February 2011 gives a rate of heterosexual divorce as 10.5 divorcing people per 1000 married population in England & Wales.

To get comparable data, we need to find out what the “civilly partnered” population is. Using ONS data:

total number of civil partnershipstotal number of dissolutions

Partnerships in England & Wales

  • 2005: 1790 E, 67 W = 1857
  • 2006: 14383 E, 560 W = 14943
  • 2007: 7635 E, 294 W = 7929
  • 2008: 6276 E, 282 W = 6558
  • 2009: 5443 E, 244 W = 5687

Total civil partnerships = 36974

Dissolutions England & Wales

  • 2005: no data
  • 2006: no data
  • 2007: 40
  • 2008: 166
  • 2009: 329

Total dissolutions = 535

Total civilly partnered population of England & Wales = 36439 × 2 people = 72878

So the equivalent “Number of dissolving people per 1000 civilly partnered population” =

[ (329 × 2) ÷ 72878 ] × 1000 = 9.02

 OK, so I posted this in the comments (although my sums were off, but it was late). I got some lame responses. Whatever. The next day though, when I went to check further responses, the story was there, but all Disqus powered comments had gone. Later on in the day when I went to check again, searching for the article using “gay divorce” as a term brought up a link that when clicked on, gave an error message. Now, the article is back (listed three times, with one still error-ing), but Disqus comments are still notably absent. Its not a ‘problem’ either – looking at the page source they have been deliberately set to ‘off’.

I’m a bit surprised by this: not by the fact that a right wing paper would deliberately, or through employing lazy journalists would write a snide article on gay divorces, but that they should be so sensitive to criticism that they’d feel moved to yank the article temporarily and then remove all comments.

( data © Crown Copyright )

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