Saturday, 8 September 2018


I've posted this poem before, but I feel like posting it again because it now has an even more special meaning for me.

I first read it in a new year card from Vikram Doctor (who isn't on any social media).

Doccy and I were colleagues at the start of our advertising careers. He had PG digs near office, and I crashed there often when we both had worked super-late. He introduced me to much classical music I'd never heard before, particularly opera (knowing I loved musical theatre, he cannily started by lending me his tape of Phantom of the Opera) and poetry I hadn't read.

Doccy was also the first gay man who came out to me, some years later, when we were no longer colleagues. I was a bit surprised — he didn't fit my mental stereotype of how gay men behaved; I even remember letting him know that a woman friend of mine had a thing for him — but our having being good friends for some time then, my respect for his brains and sensitivity, all these made me question my own biases, and really, it didn't take much longer than that particular conversation for me to see how wrong I was. (The only delicate part was that I had to tell that woman friend that this was something that wasn't gonna happen, and why.)

We've stayed friends for more than two decades. Not close, talk-every-day friends (I increasingly suspect I'm too emotionally stunted and/or self-centred to properly nurture such friendships), but when we talk or meet, it's as if the long gaps don't matter. He described it better in a warm, sensitive email he wrote me when John died; he told me the story of someone else he knew who had lost a loved one who had lived with a similar disabilities, which he segued into with this: "It was, I guess, one of those semi-work friendships, when you can get close but don't really keep in touch after your workplaces diverge, and yet that basic connection isn't lost and you can always catch up every couple of years or so (not unlike you and me!)"

Doccy isn't just the writer with a cult following — particularly when he writes about food! — who many of you read. He is also someone who has made time from his day job to work tirelessly for LGBTQIA causes, though you won't often see his name in bold print.

When the news came out the other day about the Supreme Court judgement on reading down Section 377, I remembered him first, even before I remembered the favourite aunt who I'm reasonably sure was gay, but never out. And I remembered this poem.


Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss, sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.
(Why the poet's name isn't mentioned.)

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