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GNI mag

THE LOCAL HOMOCULTURAL MAGAZINE Issue 29 December 2017 / January 2018 £3.95 / €4.95

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A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all the Staff & Management




 Marty tells us about the best entertainment over the next month or so. GEMMA HUTTON Keeping us in the loop. GREG MCCAW A very middle class Chistmas. ALICIA V PERRY Her food routine. MEET THE STAR We meet Maura Darragh. SCENE OUT We’ve been out and about with our camera. GEORGE MICHAEL - ICON More than just a pop star. GNI MAG AWARDS Well that’s it done for another year. HE’S BEHIND YOU We checked out this year’s panto. MATT TERRY What’s happened since the X-Factor? JAKE QUICKENDEN The calendar, the body and the hair. SHANE LYNCH Boyzone and more. PALOMA FAITH Motherhood and music. STEVEN CARTER-BAILEY Everyone’s bake off favourite. LAYTON WILLIAMS Treading the boards in Hairspray. ANTON DU BEKE Dancing on Ice and more. DAVID BEDELLA TV, Movies and theatre, there’s nothing he hasn’t done.

GNI mag NI GOSSIP GUY Has this guy got it all going on?

MANAGING DIRECTOR Tony Day tony@lambpromotions.com


OPERATIONS & DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Daniel May daniel@gnimag.com

PARTY!! Our guide to the office party. STUFF Quirky Christmas gift ideas. GOBBLE GOBBLE What to do with the leftover turkey. WHAT’S ON What’s on in Belfast, Dublin and L/Derry this festive Season ADVICE New Life Counselling give us some tips. SCROOGED Christmas on the cheap.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE / CELEBRITY EDITOR Gary Campion gary@gnimag.com SPECIAL THANKS TO Martin Kearney / Gemma Hutton / Greg McCaw / Alicia V Perry / Maura Darragh /Kremlin / Cliff Carter / The Grand Opera House, Belfast / Matt Terry / Jake Quickenden / Shane Lynch / Paloma Faith / Steven Carter-Bailey / Layton Williams / Anton Du Beke / David Bedella / NI Gossip Guy / New Life Counselling / Plastic Pam / Bull & Ram / The Cloth Ear / Anthony Cooley / Malmaison / Mark Bowman / Jacek & Andrew / Chuff Media


TATTOOS Gary gets a coverup. FASHION Plastic Pam HOMES Keeping warm this winter. FOOD We check out Bull & Ram and The Cloth Ear. GROOMING Daniel’s grooming tips. MEET THE ARTIST Anthony Cooley our local artist. TRAVEL Gavyn tells us about his Barcelona trip. MALMAISON COMPETION The winner is announced. GNI MAG WEDDING A beautiful County Down wedding. COMING OUT Mark tells his story. LGBT FAMILY A mother comes to terms with finding out her daughter is gay.

GNI MAG is published by: Lamb Promotions Ltd 339 Albertbridge Road Belfast, BT5 4PY Telephone | 028 9045 5690 Website | gnimag.com

All submissions to GNI are made on the basis of permission to publish the submission in GNI and its licensed editions worldwide. In the case of a picture selection, the editor’s decision is final. Any material sent is at the owner’s risk and although every care is taken neither Lamb Promotions or its agents shall be liable for loss or damage. We take great care to make sure all elements of GNI are accurate. However we accept no liabilty for any misprints that appear in this magazine. You should seek professional advice prior to following any advice offered in this publication. Any opions expressed are those of the writers and not those of GNI MAG or Lamb Promotions Ltd. Lamb Promotions Ltd 2015


@ gni@lambpromotions.com @GNImag #TeamGNI /gnimag



X-Factor, the new album, and working with superstars.. PAGE 29

JAKE QUICKENDEN: Dancing on Ice, the Calendar and showing off that body! PAGE 34


Becoming a working mum, her privacy and her new album. PAGE 37


Recommended Marty Kearney

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN Everyone loved La La land last year especially the music, the Academy Award Winning team who wrote the music for the Emma Stone’s Oscar winning hit are back again. This time on a much bigger scale. The Greatest showman tells the story of P.T Barmun the man who literally invented the circus and the founder of the world famous traveling Ringling Bros, and Barnum &Baily circus. You can’t help but feel in awe when watching the trailer, and it looks spectacular from the dancing, the musical numbers the daring stunts and it reminds me a lot of Moulin Rouge, but that’s not what got me sold. And it wasn’t the male leads either, Hugh Jackman nor Zac Efron. It was Michelle Williams, one of my top 5 favorite actress. I love shelly Williams from way back to her Dawson’s Creek days when she played trouble teen Jen Lindley. It’s safe to say that Williams has proven to be the most successful out of the Dawson Creek cast with 4 Oscar Nominations under her belt this could be her 5th nomination and it should be a welldeserved win, I wrote about Emma Stone receiving an Oscar last year and she won so maybe I bring the luck. (Shelly You can thank me in you speech) Any way back to the movie. The Film also Stars Rebecca Ferguson from the Mission Impossible franchise. She Plays Jenny Lind (Not to be confused with the Jen Lindley who I just mentioned a second ago) who was a popular opera singer in the 19th century and fresh from her role in Spiderman: Homecoming is Zendaya. So just to recap you have LA LA Land, Moulin Rouge, Two hunks in the form of Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron and of course Michelle Williams in this sure to be Oscar riddled extravaganza of a movie out this Christmas. Go and Enjoy. The Greatest Showman is in Cinema 20th December.


PITCH PERFECT 3 The Barden Bellas are back for one last swan song. After splitting up when they graduated from college life for the Bellas is not what it is all cracked up to be, so the girls reunite for one last competition that takes them on USO tour. Anna Kendrick as Beca and Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy along with the rest of the troupe Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Ester Dean, Hanna Mae Lee, Alexis Knapp, and Scene Stealer Chrissie Fit and of course my Favorite Bella Hailee Steinfield who plays Emily. On the subject of Steinfield I recommend that you watch her movie “The Edge of Seventeen” as it was one of the best movies I saw

last year and download her tunes on Spotify, the girl as a great funky sound and her song Starving is my theme song for 2017. Also Joining the cast is LGBT icon “orange is the new black” star Ruby Rose (To be honest I don’t see the big deal in Ruby rose. Give me Laura Prepon any day #TEAMALEX), her band plays the Bellas rivals in this movie and from the trailer I’m guessing they used The Misfits from the 80s Cartoon Jem as inspiration. Although missing from this one is the men of the pitch perfect movies sexy Skylar Astin, Ben Platt and Adam Devine. So far the cast of PP3 along with the finalists from

the American version of the The Voice have done a mash-up of cups from the first movie and George Michaels hit song Freedom and it’s a treat to the ears. You can check the video out on YouTube. It is said the this is the last curtain for the Bellas but the franchise is a hit, I predict that the Bellas will be back in some form or another may it be a direct to video spin off featuring new Bellas or even a Broadway musical, I’m always 90 % right about these things. Pitch Perfect 3 is in cinemas 22nd December.




TRA ODYSSEY GIFT VOUCHERS Proud to be a LGBT friendly venue



SLEEPING BEAUTY: THE CHRISTMAS PANTOMIME @ THE WATERFRONT, BELFAST I was driving home from work listening to the radio when an advertisement came on for this years pantomime at the waterfront and I recognized the voice instantly; it was our very own GNI drag artist of the year Miss Trudy Scrumptious. Trudy will be appearing in this year’s panto Sleeping Beauty. When I told Miss Scrumptious that I would do a little write up on the panto she had this to say “Oh faab! There’s lots to keep the kids and the bigger kids entertained!” So if you’re looking to treat the kids to an early Christmas present or to score some major Guncle points why not take your nieces and nephews or your own brats to go see this show which promises to be a traditional pantomime with extravagant characters and lots of laughs. Trudy never fails to entertain so you won’t be disappointed. Sleeping Beauty runs until the 6th Dec – 7th Jan.

THE SINNER Have you ever wanted to go up and stab a random stranger to death? Yes? No? Well Jessica Biel does just that in this limited one off crime mystery drama series based on the novel of the same name by Petra Hammerfahr. Biel plays young mother Cora who stabs a stranger to death in a public beach for no apparent reason. Bill Paulman plays the cop sent into investigate and his scenes are fantastic look out for his nails. Since the show finished its run in the US it’s been released on Netflix and my Facebook has been inundated with posts about how good it is. It is definitely gripping and very unpredictable and it will have you second guessing, but it’s also very bleak and depressing so maybe watch some Jane the virgin after it are something just to have a balance. The Sinner is on Netflix now.

ONE DAY AT A TIME SEASON 2 Do you ever see an actor or actress in a movie or TV show, you don’t know their name nor do you remember what you have seen them in but they seem to be in everything? Well last year I came across the most adorable show on Netflix called One Day at a Time. I was searching though the recently added list and recognized a face. That face was the face of actress Justina Machado and she has literally been in everything from ER, Angel, Six feet under, Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives and my beloved Greys Anatomy. She now has the lead in the extremely hilarious sitcom. One day at a time is remake from the original Norman Lear show which was a hit way back in the late 70s and ran for 9 seasons. The 2017 version follows single mom and war veteran Penelope raising her two teenage children with the help of her Cuban mother Lydia played by the fantastic Rita Moreno and I’m just going to come out and say it she’s the funnies grandmother on television, That right even more funny than Sophia from the Golden Girls. Her one liners had me in a wrinkle. There is also a coming out story line that is written really well and acted out with so much heart from actress Isabella Gomez who plays teenage daughter Elena. The show has that classic sitcom feel to it and it’s even recoded in front of a live audience. Which is a first for a Netflix show also the bearded neighbor Dwayne (Todd Grinnell) from upstairs isn’t bad on the eye either. While you’re off over Christmas break why don’t you snuggle up on the sofa and binge this heartfelt family comedy and catch up just before season 2 is released early January.





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Join us this December for some Christmas Classics visit www.odysseycinemas.co.uk to find out more

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BUZZ of the month

Motherhood is coming.

Gemma Hutton

STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI Written and directed by Rian Johnson. It is the second film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, following Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). The film is produced by Lucasfilm and will be distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It stars Mark Hamill, the late great Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac in returning roles, with Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, and Benicio del Toro joining the cast. The film was announced after Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in October 2012. It is produced by Ram Bergman and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. John Williams, composer for the previous seven films, returns to compose the score. Scenes that required shooting at Skellig Michael in Ireland were filmed during preproduction in September 2015, with principal photography beginning at Pinewood Studios in England in February 2016 and ending in July 2016. In this next release in the franchise Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order. A sequel, tentatively titled Star Wars: Episode IX, is scheduled for December 20, 2019.

The reality that the human casually kicking my wife’s uterus because it appears she is already bored has dawned on me. The nursery is set… the discussions about water birth, emergency bags and mucus plugs are overtaking any discussion of date nights and carry outs. My beautiful wife has gone from a small fiery red head to a glowing furnace of hormones and strength. We watched a YouTube video on the ‘miracle of birth.’ I am now more terrified than before….fuck the YouTube. Every time she makes a noise now I am ready for a Father of the Bride montage. We are now 7 months gone and I swear the next 2 months feel like a life time and a sprint all at the same time. I had a bucket list of things I wanted to do before our Frankie arrived. From an orgy to a trip to Thailand but I really don’t have the energy for most of it… I did the twilight market at St. Georges and I day drank, so two outta 40 ain’t bad. I keep looking at other mums laughing and cooing over their babies… saying to myself, ‘How are you not a hot mess?!’ We took a friend’s 10 month old child overnight to get a feel for what an average night is. He was an absolute angel… but decided the only pillow for him at 3am was me. I am good n stwishy for babies. It was at this 3am juncture when I decided to stop being silly and trying to sleep that I needed to pee in the worst possible way. What proceeded was the most

awkward transition from chest to travel cot ever witnessed. After 10 minutes of convincing the wide awake kid that I was deffo just going to be 3 minutes max, I looked into his cold blue eyes and realised he was taking none of my bullsh*t. None. It was at that point I realised this was not going to be as easy as Super Nanny made it look. And I ain’t no Mary f**king Poppins. This is going to be a battle of wits. On a less uterus based note, I have been absolutely flat out working with Electra on Queertopia. It has been more than we could have imagined, but we are delighted to have a break over Xmas to reflect. We shall be escaping to a lodge in the middle of nowhere to start working on our own shows and pieces of work. It’s an awesome feeling to be able to have the opportunity to do all these things now. We have big plans coming in 2018, with performance, partnerships and theatre. I’m also having some exciting projects coming up with Cabaret Supper Club this year. I will probably have to squeeze in a nervous breakdown with the work load I am about to undertake, but sure that’s the only way I know how to be.

My beautiful wife has gone from a small fiery red head to a glowing furnace of hormones and strength. We watched a YouTube video on the ‘miracle of birth.’ I am now more terrified than before; f**k the YouTube.

This is an opinon piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG/Lamb Promotions Ltd.



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Christmas for a middle class gay.

Greg McCaw We approach Christmas with seismic changes on the horizon in our world culture, we have been stricken from the EU Christmas card list and a reality TV star has become President of the greatest super power on earth. Let’s face it the world is in an utter mess but can we just pause for one moment and will someone tell me if I need to buy a British Organic Free-Range Pembrokshire Bronze Turkey from Marks and Spencer now or do I wait? Will my dinner guests quesiton why I didn’t purchase the silver or gold Turkey even though there is no such product and how do I explain that there isn’t s a tiered Turkey standard without sounding like I’m devending my social status, forget real world problems and enter the world of an anxious middle class gay.

3 Parts Tonic Water and 3 thinly sliced rounds of cucumber (laugh awkwardly). Then your acquaintance greets you half way though the night and says ‘Oh we’ve ran out of cucumber so I’ve just put in a lime, same thing really’. What... ‘Same F**king thing, are you for real?’ and there you have it, the middle class gay shows his true colours. SECRET SANTA ANXIET Y Another thing that really heightens my anxiety - Secret Santa, everyone else in the room is quite comfortable buying another inflatable sex toy or buying 60 year old Joan a vibrator because that’s apparently funny as she complains about how flaccid her husband is at every opportunity, the MCG thinks on Secret Santa differently: I have no concept of budget so when someone says ‘lets stick to £5.00’ all I can think is ‘I can’t even park my Audi for £5.00 never mind purchase a secret santa.’ How do I keep quiet when someone opens their Jo Malone candle and the room says ‘Someone hasn’t stuck to budget’ and I bite back and say ‘I was in House of Fraser and Jo Malone is on sale when really when you break it down it’s only £19.00 per 100g (candle is 600g) Do these people know what the word ‘artisan’ means or am I going to end up with factory made fudge again.

I’m now considering pre-peeling cucumber so I can avoid an awkward social outburst.

SOCIAL ANXIET Y All of a sudden you go from working tirelessly to keep a busy social life to being in demand and receiving invites to parties from acquaintances that I would have ordinarily done a ‘drop and roll’ from if we bumpbed into each other in the gluten free isle in Waitrose. ‘Greg is that you?’ as I attempt to explain why I’m trying to squeeze under the self of the gluten free, fat free, sugar free brownies. I get social anxiety for the reasons no other human would and reduce my social circle by at least 10% as a result of my behavious every year. Last year I was anxious about bringing Hendricks to a social gatehring (Middle Class Term for a Party) because: People might judge me for not bringing the more financially attainable Gordons Will they have tonic water, oh I wonder if it’s Tesco’s own brand, why would anyone buy Tescos own brand. WHY? I wonder if they’ll have cucumber and if I’ll be judged for bringing a cucumber. I’ll bring a cucumber anyway. I wonder if they’ll have a peeler to thinly slice the cucumber. I better bring that as well. What if they off to pour me a drink, is it overpowering to say ‘I’m sure you know this from the Ocado website but it’s 2 Parts Hendrick’s Gin,

So when you’re pondering global uncertainty this Christmas because of Brxit, spare a thought for the Middle Class Gay with Christmas Anxiety, who fights a daily battle to get the right delivery slot with Ocado, who is now considering pre-peeling cucumber to place it inside Tupperware so I can avoid an awkward social outburst and is currently deliberating over the appropriate colour of gel pen to write Christmas cards in.

This is an opinon piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG/Lamb Promotions Ltd.



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Your health is your wealth.

Alicia V Perry AS ANOTHER YEAR STARTS TO draw to a close Christmas ignites a festive feeling that can bring added pressures when the clock strikes midnight on New Year. Many of us will indulge in an array of celebratory treats and delights but find it hard to make the change back to healthy choices. Many people find the concept of change difficult whether it is diet, lifestyle habits or thought patterns. For some it can take up to a year to really change dietary habits and to fully embrace a new lifestyle. Finding new foods and sometimes alternative food, how to cook and also where to find alternative good nutritious foods can take time. It is up to us to take responsibility for the state of our own health. But it doesn’t have to be that hard. Trust me, if I can do it, you definitely can! If you want to be healthy, then you have to make healthier choices. Nature provides us with an array of nutrients for the optimum working of our bodies, ‘optimum’ means optimum energy, detoxification and well-being on all levels, we feel physically, mentally and emotional in balance. Get to know your R.D.A.’s (Recommended Daily Amounts) of protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Follow nutrition and fitness experts on social media for free, yes, free! With the super invention of the World Wide Web we are privileged with an abundance of information at our fingertips. Utilise this to the max! Don’t Deprive Yourself A ‘diet’ implies that you’re depriving the body of something. You can eat almost any foods if you learn to portion out, balance foods, keep timing of meals regular and exercise. Choosing low-fat products of your favourite foods will help reduce calories while keeping you a happy bunny! Also cooking methods should be looked at. Steaming, dry roasting and grilling are far better that shallow or deep frying. Start to look at the nutritional analysis on products in relation to fats, carbohydrates, salt and fibre and compare different brands of products for the most nutritional. Do Keep it Simple Flavorful, healthy meals don’t have to be complex and they don’t have to include a main dish and two sides.

Adding just one or two highly nutritional ingredients to a dish can give it a vitality boost without a shock to your tongue and stomach. I find keeping a tub of mixed seeds, a tub of chopped mixed nuts and for desserts a tub of a combination of the two toasted, is so handy to give your meals and snacks an adventurous enhancement. Do Make Friends With Your Blender/Juicer A blender is amazing you can throw (almost) anything in to make a flavorful sauce. I use a lot of fruit, like carrot and orange, cucumber and apple, sweet potato and orange, etc., to blend into juices. Mix well with 1 heaped tsp of psyllium husk for maximum fibre and roughage. Don’t Destroy The Vegetables! I grew up with my mother boiling vegetables to the death and you could have drank them through a straw (sorry mum). It only takes a couple of minutes to boil fresh veggies, anymore and they start to lose precious nutrients not to mention their taste and flavour. Steamed veg is a great way to retain nutritional content not to mention optimal taste. Fresh veg is the best but frozen veg is a convenient way to have the next best thing on hand to include in meals. Do Use Healthy Flavor Boosters Garlic, rainbow pepper and balsamic vinegar are my own personal flavor boosters. I use them for sauces, dressings or flavorful broths during these cold months. Keeping stock granules and a diverse herb and spice rack will definitely give you flexibility in the kitchen. It can be fun exploring new flavours and they have got their health benefits. Don’t Get Burnt Out Don’t try to eat chicken breasts and a salad every day, mix it up! If you have chicken on Tuesday, have fish on Thursday, then some kind of beef or pork on Wednesday. Plan ahead, take advantage of the delightful seasons and the prime produce they provide. I try and do all my cooking on one day, then divide it up into (freezer-proof ) dishes and pop them all into the freezers; I have two which I like to keep well maintained.

Don’t Feel You Can’t Snack. Snacking is a culture that is quite wide-spread. It’s not whether you snack or not but rather what you snack on. Around 3pm in the afternoon everyone’s blood sugar declines, having been up from between 6-9am. Snacking on Almonds, Hazelnuts, etc., will provide instant hunger relief due to ESSENTIAL oils and protein. They are also known to release energy slowly into the body keeping you with a constant source fuel for the fire. Other healthy snacks include rice cakes or wholegrain crackers with hazelnut, almond or peanut butter (low-fat) with a sprinkle of dry-toasted pumpkin/sunflower seeds or pine kernels. Again if you must buy crisps look for baked brands using wholemeal or wholegrain products. Do Drink Water As Often As Possible Throughout The Day. Buy a good water filter such a Brita and purchase the filters in advance so that you always have them. This will remove lime scale, cholera and other chemical, and psychical, toxins from your water. Start first thing in the morning before your breakfast and each time you finish a glass fill it up asap and keep beside you. By doing this you will be constantly reminding yourself to drink it. Out of sight, out of mind hence in sight, in mind. The more water you drink the more help you are giving your body to cope with removal of toxins, cell rejuvenation, etc. So, with all that advice for the new year, in the spirit of Christmas just remember wine is ok too! As Ben Franklin said “In wine there is wisdom, In beer there is freedom, In water there is bacteria.” Seriously though, please, don’t forget to have fun this Christmas. Enjoy yourselves and get everyone involved. May God Bless your wee cotton socks, Merry Christmas everyone! See you next year! Alicia Xx

This is an opinon piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG/Lamb Promotions Ltd.



MEET THE STAR Self confessed “baby queen” Maura Darragh tells us about winning Opportunity Frocks... How did you first get into drag? I entered a drag competition at college and looked a state; like I’d just been swimming through the Lagan and caught every disease possible. One of the competitors was actually Gia Jones, one of the many queens I bet at Op Frocks. Then after that, Gary (Gia) and I became best friends. I’d go to his placeand we’d practice doing makeup and have our own dragshows in his living room. It was fun. I think that’s what I lot of people forget about drag; it’s supposed to be fun! Where have you worked (venues/citys/countries)? When I say I’m a baby queen I mean I am literally a baby queen; Op Frocks was like my 5th/6th time doing drag in public. I entered Paul Ryders Ringmasters in the summer and had an amazing time but learned a lot about how to improve upon myself. I’m grateful he gave me the platform. It was a great experience and a fantastic night. Then Rusty Hinges had me in Maverick and I can’t wait to go back. Who have been the best people to work with? Tina Legs Tantrum. One of the things I admire most about her is that she rewards hard work and really gives you the confidence to go out on stage and give it your all. Even when you’re in the room with her people just gravitate towards her. She’s so gleeful, encouraging and bonkers too (haha). Where are you working at the minute? You’ll find me at Tina’s Sunday Bingo Show every now and then. I wouldn’t even call that work. Tina just makes everything fun enjoyable. Tell us more about winning Op frocks: The nicest thing about winning OpFrocks was getting the seal of approval of such seasoned queens like Contessa Titti von Tramp, Trudy Scrumptious and Rusty Hinges. My goal was to impress these judges and what I want, I work hard to get. I was determined to have them and the audience go “She’s gas, hilarious, bizarre”. I NEVER want to be boring because to bore an audience is the rudest thing you can do as an entertainer. I wrote the parody I performed of “Let it Go” - I don’t even think the parody title can even be printed - two days after winning the first heat. The inspiration ‘came’ to me as I ‘patted myself on the back’ after winning. For those of you who heard the parody I’m sure you can read between the lines. I wanted to stand out and I knew performing a ribald song so vulgar and crude would make that happen. To quote Bianca Del Rio “We’re drag queens in a competition. The only thing worse is f*****g prison!”. That’s how backstage felt at times. Everyone worked so hard and wanted to win so when you’re in that environment it can of course get a bit heated and tense. Looking back with a smile because I won and they didn’t I glad I got to know the girls and king. I can’t say anything bad about them now. We all contributed to giving Op Frocks the great sendoff and goodbye it deserved. We’re all proud to have been part of the best drag competition (the whole island of ) Ireland has to offer. Contact Facebook: Maura Darragh / Instagram: mauradarragh


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ICON George Michael



Last Christmas, to the day, George Michael gave us his heart for the last time. This year, in an ICON piece that breaks away from the rubric, GNI pays tribute to the life, music and incredible, yet clandestine, charity of “someone special.” As 2017 marched along - merrily stomping it’s agenda of sheer stupidity, borne from a whole mess of ugly and bigoted, all over the poor world, and as we grew increasingly worried, then simply exasperated with it - one of the standout moments of feeling just that tiny bit better about the state of things was the revelations of good things done by those great ones who has sadly departed: Carrie Fisher, and her Prozac urn, Debbie so sad she had to go join her Carrie, and our Brixton Boy, gone almost a year, turned even his death into art; we had some true highlights arise from the personal lives of great people, and icons in their own rights. The most touching revelations, however, were some of the most understated. Known to many as a great philanthropist, from his Band Aid contributions and raising of HIV awareness following the loss of his partner Anselmo Feleppa, George Michael had done so much more for charities away from the public eye. Michael’s giving was phenomenal, so much so that he even worked anonymously in a homeless shelter providing not only monetary backing, with which he was always more than generous, but his time, energy and heart. And as we now know he re-directed many of his royalties directly to charities, as well as to friends and family in hopes of providing them with more comfortable lives. There’s more to it than that, however: Anecdotes rolled in after his death of further altruistic acts, from tipping a struggling waitress and student nurse £5k, to handing another waitress a £25k cheque to pay off the debt of another customer who had been crying about her situation. He paid £15k to a contestant on Deal or No Deal to attain IVF treatment simply from viewership of the show. And while we’re on the topic of gameshows, few may remember his appearance on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, where he promised to donate £32,000 of his personal money to the team’s chosen charity should his answer be wrong. David Walliams recalled how after swimming the channel for Sportsrelief, George Michaels donated £50,000 to the charity in recognition of Walliam’s feat. It should come as no surprise then that this man’s great charity was commemorated by Dame Esther Rantzen, founder and president of Childline, as she thanked him for the millions of pounds he had given. One of his most unprecedented and underappreciated, (at least by the public) acts of charity followed the death of his mother, when he held a private concert for the nurses responsible for her palliative care. He lost her in 1997 to cancer, adding to his grief and depression and seeing him leave the limelight somewhat, but always pursuing charitable goals. Michael’s mother, Lesley Angold, was a dancer in her youth, and he described her as being “like a rock. I’ve got that stability from her.” He, like many of us, only realised in later life the sacrifices Lesley made for him and his siblings, and his admiration for his mother was unparalleled. Angold married Kyriacos “Jack” Panayitou and had three children with her Greek Cypriot husband. Living first in London above a laundrette

to manage Jack’s restaurant business, the family then moved to Hertfordshire as business improved. George was, as only son, favoured by his traditional, patriarchal father, something for which George expressed a long-felt guilt complex as his sisters and he had somewhat disparate childhoods. However, he always lauded his mother’s parenting and sacrifices later in his life. As stated, his mother Lesley had been a dancer, and perhaps that fed George’s artistic abilities. He recalled in his 1990 autobiography, Bare, how she had gifted him with an old wind-up record player when he was very young, along with three old 45’s – “two Supremes records and one Tom Jones record” – and how he had consequently played them literally every day, going out to the garage after returning home from school and presumably rocking his little - soon-to-be-superstar - heart out. Like most children George’s interests changed a lot, but, “perhaps [prophetically]”, he recalls at six or seven recording a song called “The Music Maker of the World” on a little toy tape recorder. Despite the early interest, the real turning point on fixating the music in his young mind was actually when he suffered a head injury at eight years old. He theorised that his injury, stitched and bandaged, was potentially bad enough to change his brain – “this whole left-brain, right-brain thing.” It was from this point he confessed a true obsession. “I never really told my parents I wanted to be a pop star or anything.” He recalled, “[and] funnily enough, my father always used to say he didn’t think I could sing.” Perhaps this was a knock to the confidence for George, as in the early days of his music making he wasn’t the confident, chest-baring glory that we all grew to love. Then, at secondary school, he met Andrew Ridgeley, who shared his love of music and his fame in Wham! And it was Andrew who afforded him the confidence and charisma necessary to help George sell his incredible talent to the masses. Andrew, the son of an Egyptian, sharing the identity of second-generation immigrant that solidified their instant connection, recalled that it was he who volunteered to show George, “the new kid,” around the school they both attended: “I put my hand up – and I got him,” - the sincere sentiment of a friend who felt truly lucky to have met George. Andrew and George forged a strong friendship and with it their first pop-music duo, a ska band called The Executive. In this incarnation, their music was short-lived, but they cut their teeth and soon spread their wings. One evening while Andrew was bopping around and showing off, he started exclaiming “Wham! Bam! I’m the Man!” and rapping, which gave George the inspiration for what would become the Wham Rap! And their band name to boot! They recorded the song and landed a contract for it to be released in June 1982, just before George turned 19. The single was a flop, failing to break the top 100, but their break wasn’t far away. Following a gig in Stringfellows nightclub where Wham! Made an appearance, a BBC producer

thought they would be perfect for Saturday Superstore, a children’s television show – always the zeitgeist of a musical era, after all. Their performance rocketed their notoriety into Top of the Pops territory and when another act pulled out last minute, Wham! Were booked for TOTP in a life changing show of November 1982. The performed their second single, Young Guns, which consequently went to No. 3 as George proclaimed to guitarist David Austin: “This is it. This is the rest of my life!” Following Top of the Pops their album, Fantastic, topped the charts in July 1983. And following this, while watching Match of the Day George suddenly ran off to record what would become one of his most famous, loved and charitably lucrative songs, Last Christmas. Fearing he’d lose the song if he didn’t do it so imminently, he sang the melody into a tape recorder and changed high streets in December forever. But George also, and less tritely, changed lives for the better; the following video from Last Christmas turned into an enormous Holiday Party for family and friends, hosted in the Swiss Alps; alcohol fuelled and filled with fun, the dinner party scenes were real and the empty booze bottle too boot. And as per his famous generosity, George picked up the bill for all his guests. Lucky then, that by 21 George had become a multi-millionaire. Michael’s career spanned decades from then, and many controversies. From his rise to fame, his sexuality was brutally speculated and he was famously entangled with actress Brooke Shields, some suggesting that he used her as his “beard,” that is until the infamous moment when Boy George approached Shields at a party and supposedly whispered in her ear “He’s a poof.” Yet his masquerading continued for years until 1991 when he met, and consequently feel in love with the aforementioned Anselmo. Tragically, it wasn’t to last as mere months later Anselmo tested positive for HIV and died in March of 1993 from AIDs related complications in his brain. George, obviously, was broken, and yet it was in this time between meeting and losing Anselmo that he did as much as he could to raise money for AIDs charities. Following Anselmo’s death however, he drifted from the public eye. He could not continue playing the character we’d become accustomed to and he broke down, telling his parents of his sexuality, and lost lover and stopping working in his grief. When four year later when Lesley died, he is documented to have said he felt “cursed.” And yet, he came through such very dark times, and scandals - unnecessary to recount here, where we celebrate the memory of a great, loving person - to return to touring and charitable work, to make music again and to love. His charity work was eclipsed only by his own brilliance and voice and while he drifted in and out of the noughties, he was never, and should never be, forgotten. “I’ve lost two people in the last five years I have loved very much and one of the great lessons is how incredibly short life is.” He was quoted as saying. Too morbid, to think this a portent for himself, instead let us take these words and remember one lost to us far too soon, for he was for the most part, as us humans go, just far too good. Truly, to reiterate, George Michael was “someone special.”

WORDS: Cliff Carter



GNI mag AWARDS 2017 Proudly supported by


NEWS__ GNI MAG AWARDS THURSDAY 26TH OCTOBER 2017. That was the date our shortlisted finalists had been waiting for in anticipation to see if they were winners at this year’s GNI MAG AWARDS proudly supported by Santander. Roisin and Daniel from Team GNI had spent the day making last minute preparations and filling all the goodie bags (over 270 of them), and at about 6.30pm our guests began to arrive. It was great to see everyone dressed to the nines, mingling, drinking prosecco, Redbull cocktails, and singing along to the dulcit tones of The Tinkle Belles. Our toastmaster becconed everyone into the room to take their seats for dinner, while being seated Glitzy Glamour serenaded everyone with a toned down set presenting herself as her alter-ego; Desmond. After dinner our hosts Trudy Scrumptious and Julian Simmons took to the stage for the awards ceremony. There were tears, there was laughter, and there was an enormous amount of pride as the winners were announced. Afterwards The Rainbow Project announced all the winners of the raffle, and our guests were left dancing along to The Vixens. For those without work the next morning (or those who didn’t care about going in hungover) the afterparty continued at Kremlin, Belfast.




He’s behind you! Oh no he’s not.


Last night GNI were invited to the press night of the greatest panto in all the land at the Grand Opera House Belfast. This years show being Peter Pan in 3D with the panto veterans May McFettridge and Paddy Jenkins taking the helm of the show as per the norm for Belfast as May Smee and Smee. This years special guest stars include Soap Star Claire King as Mimi the magical Mermaid, Britains got Talent star man with a 100 voices Paul Burling as Shipmate Starkey and multi-award winning theatre and TV star David Bedella as the evil Captain Hook. As is the norm with any panto production the Opera House put on the cast were playing to a full house of children, their parents, teachers, aunts and uncles and nobody was safe when it came to audience participation. May was her usual tongue in cheek self throughout the show with an array of comical costumes, witty one liners and banter with the audience no

one was safe adult and children alike. As every seasoned panto goer knows this is always a great opportunity to see up and coming stars of theatre and this year was no exception with local talent Mikey Jay Heath playing Peter Pan, Natalie Windsor as Tiger lilly and Irelands very own theatre starlets Hollie O’Donoghue as the roller skating Tinkerbell and Kweeva Garvey as Wendy darling. All put on a sensational performance with great vocals and amazing acting ability bringing their charaters to life. A special shout out must go to the children of the show who are from local Stage school McMaster Stage school and play tigers and lillies along with the two darling brothers. An extra special shout out has to go to the little kid that break dances at the party in Peters secret den.....you rocked it kiddo! The show itself is a thrilling entertaining show with flying, sword fighting, bad jokes and a 3D under water sec-

tion that is sure to get a few screams from the younger members of the audience. Bedella carries the role of Captain Hook exceptionally well with his menicing laugh, comical timing and his base\baratone vocal stylings.... all the elements required for a great panto villian. King isn’t too far away from her usual glamour puss soap roles, but a little out of her comfort zone in terms of her fish tale costume in which the greatest of queens would struggle to get around that stage, yet she managed to stay upright....most of the time *wink*. With over 70,000 tickets already sold, it is advisable to get yourself over to www.goh.co.uk to pick up any of those last remaining seats or alternatively call the box office on 02890 241919 as we don’t want any disappointed kids big or small this festive season.




X Factor, celebrity friends, and singing with superstars - Matt terry tells us about his roller coaster year...



It’s a year since Matt Terry was crowned winner of the X Factor. It’s been an amazing year, he’s recorded with with Enrique Iglesias and Sean Paul. He’s friends with Sam Smith, and he still chats to Nicole once a week. We caught up with Matt to see how he keeps up with everything...

You’ve been pretty quiet for the last year what have you been up to? I’ve been really busy recording and preparing for the new album it’s all been pretty exciting plus I’ve been making the most of the opportunity while traveling the world to record it. I’ve been to Miami, Madrid, Sweden, Norway and Copenhagen which has been amazing as I would never have got to see all these places in such a short space of time. While I was in Miami I recorded a single called “Subeme Le Radio” with Enrique Iglesias and Sean Paul which was such an amazing experience, I am hoping to take Enrique out clubbing next time we are both in London! The album is available to order now through the various usual outlets. What can our readers expect from you music wise on the album? Any Surprises on there? Any shocking Duets? I’ve just released “Sucker for you” which I feel sums up the sound really well, there are some ballads on there, some Spanish sounding tracks, it’s basically like a story of my life over the past two years, relationships, life experiences, it’s all very honest and super relatable, I’m very excited about it all and I cannot wait to see and hear the fans reactions to it. Nicole was your mentor last year, are you still in contact with her? What do you make of her choice for her Over’s category on the X Factor this year? Yeah we try and chat once a week and I’ve been


sending her my new music to listen to for feedback and she’s been very honest about it all. Nicole loves soul music and loves people who sing with soul and she’s definitely shown that with her choices this year plus she’s wanted the Over’s category this year so I know she’s been delighted with that. You featured on Enrique Iglesias single with Sean Paul Earlier this year, how did that come around and how did you find working with the international Latin superstar? I was out in Miami working on stuff for the new album when I got a call from the record label saying that Enrique was releasing a new single and wanted a British artist that can sing in Spanish to feature on it and obviously I am fluent in Spanish with having lived out there for some of my life so I went into the studio laid my vocals down for it and Enrique loved it! He actually thought I was Spanish when he heard it, he’s a great guy and very supportive, we seem to have had very similar upbringings and I look forward to hopefully performing with him next time we are in the same place and maybe show him how we party in the UK too! We heard that you’ve become quite pally with Sam Smith and he has been giving you career advice. What has he been telling you and would there be any possibility of a duet do you think? Sam is a great guy and an amazing singer, he’s been giving me advice on how to handle the industry and how best to look after my voice when having to

INTERVIEW__ MATT TERRY perform so much while promoting the single and the album. I would absolutely love that but he’s a very busy man so it would be trying to get time when we were both free and also to get the right material to blend our voices, so who knows what could happen in the future but I would be up for it! Have you been watching this year’s X Factor? Has anyone stood out for you already as a possible winner yet? I’ve been so busy with work that I have only managed to catch a few episodes but I have been keeping an eye on it all, there is some amazing talent on the show this year but I have to say I’m really loving the Cutkelvins and Rai-Elle, I really do think the CutKelvins are in with a good chance as I think it’s time for another group to win the show. When you were on the X Factor there was a lot of press about your Bromance with Freddie Parker, why do you think that was? Are you still in contact with Freddie and what is he up to this weather? To be honest I am not so sure what that was all about, I know that Harry and Louis got it all while in One Direction. I think a lot of it comes from fans imaginations and desire for gossip and the press seem to jump on that and use every opportunity and photograph possible to feed the story further but there is no story there we are just really good friends who went through an amazing experience together.

Yeah I still talk with Freddie when we both have the time to, he’s been busy out gigging and recording still and seems to really be enjoying that. Out of all the X Factor Contestants over the 14 years it’s been going, who would you love to work with and why? I would have to say James Arthur without a doubt,

... a lot of it comes from fans imaginations and desire for gossip and the press seem to jump on that and use every opportunity and photograph possible to feed the story further ... our voice and styles are so different it would be interesting to see what would happen there in terms of blending our voices together. Plus he is a super talented writer so it would be an honour to be on one of his tracks.

135K Followers on twitter, 156.6K fans on Facebook, that’s a lot of fans, what has been your most memorable experience with a fan and what has been the strangest? I was once driving my car along the road and this man was driving behind me and was like bumping into me and trying to push me off the road, I was actually quite frightened and that scared of what was going on I hadn’t noticed he had two young girls who were in the back. He was basically ramming me off the road so he could get a picture with me and his two daughters that were big fans who had spotted me driving on the road, it was all very surreal, I will never forget it. I can’t think of one single strange experience but I always find it strange when people want \ try to take a picture of you….you know of just you without being in the picture surely the whole point of meeting a celebrity is to be in the picture with them right? Your new single is called “Sucker for You” what are you a “Sucker” for? Probably dinners… you know like going out for dinner with friends - there is nothing I love more than nice food and great company. I love Italian food and going to Nandos so if either is involved I’m a happy guy. We’ve come to the conclusion in the office here that you are an extremely good looking lad, run


INTERVIEW__ MATT TERRY us through your morning routine that keeps you looking so mighty fine! I’m an eight hours of sleep kind of guy, if I don’t get that I find it really hard to function. I like to take really really long showers to the point that I go wrinkly, brush my teeth, floss, mouthwash, slap the moisturiser on and dry and style my hair, I like to take my time getting ready for the day. Sweet or Savoury? Savoury everytime! Nicole or Cheryl? Nicole for obvious reasons. Perfect date? Out for dinner at a romantic restaurant or an outdoors adventure opposite ends of the spectrum really! Favourite Scent \ Aftershave? I love the smell of petrol but my favourite aftershave is my Prada. Favourite song by another X Factor contestant? Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis Are you a boxers or briefs kinda guy? Haha! Boxers for comfort! Favourite holiday destination? Miami Favourite drink? Gin if we are talking alcohol and on a day to day basis bottled water. Netflix and chill or wild night clubbing? Really depends how busy I’ve been but right now I’m all about the Netflix and Chill now that Stranger Things 2 is available.


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INTERVIEW__ JAKE QUICKENDEN Dancing on Ice was huge in its last run, are you feeling the pressure to keep up the quality of the show? I’m a huge fan of the show and was so buzzing when I was asked, there is a bit of pressure but I think people who love the show will watch and hopefully I can be entertaining for them. I obviously want to impress Torvill and Dean as they are the masters of ice skating. I went skating a few times when I was like 14/15 but just about managed to go forward. It’s fair to say that you are fast becoming a serial reality TV star (not that it’s a bad thing as we love you here in the office) but are you not afraid of it all overshadowing your music? No not at all, I love doing new things and I would be the first to totally admit I’m milking the reality stuff, but I’m all about embracing stuff and taking amazing opportunities. Music will always be my passion but I would like to move forward in TV presenting and other stuff. Three years on from your time on X Factor do you still keep in contact with any of the judges contestants? I do, I speak to them now and again, Paul Akister, Jack Walton, Parissa from only the young, Casey messaged me saying congrats, most of them have actually! But we are all busy trying to make it in a tough industry, but I shared an amazing time with them all and will always remember that. You also did I am a Celebrity in the same year and became runner up to your future father in law, how did that all happen? What was the best and worst part of that whole experience and who are you loving this year? I like Toff and Iain, I would like Iain to win actually! I became good mates with foggy and he showed me a photo of Danielle in the jungle and then I made a joke saying she was beautiful and he kinda said don’t you dare. We then met and she was lovely, a few months later I met her and her sister for a drink and bobs your uncle, three years later and I can’t get rid of her lol!. I honestly enjoyed the whole experience, like what a thing to do, I felt very lucky and glad that people got to see me for me while I was in there. You’ve become a bit of a gay pin-up from your time in both shows, this is also probably helped by your social media posts with most of your clothes off, how much work do you have to do to keep in

shape? How do you feel about positive body image? I think as long as you are happy in your own skin that’s all that counts and nobody should tell you otherwise. I work pretty hard but get bored and have time off when I don’t workout, it’s about enjoying yourself when working out! Recently with skating I don’t really go to the gym but I’m enjoying other things! As for being a gay pin up, it’s great I have a lot of gay friends and I am taken back by the support I get but at the same time incredibly flattered! Growing up was it always your dream to be a celebrity? If you weren’t living life in the public eye what would you be doing? It’s not about being a celebrity for me it’s

“ ” I’m not shy and I’m naked most of the time anyway so why not!!

about doing something I enjoy. I don’t see myself as a celebrity it’s just a word, everyone works and no one is better than anyone else, but if I wasn’t doing TV and music I would probably be still living at home struggling to hold down a job because I don’t listen. How are the wedding plans coming on? Can we expect to see it in the glossy red tops? It’s all happening quick but it’s so exciting and I just want to make it perfect for Danielle, she’s the boss so she is making most decisions! You will have to wait and see about the magazines!

so much a pantomime, it’s a little different, but awesome, I am surrounded by really awesome actors and singers within the cast. I’m pretty tired juggling it all but I like a challenge, and yes I’m struggling with lines. You recently had a hair transplant where did you get it done and any advice for anyone considering getting one? My advice would be to make sure you actually want it and to do your research, I had mine done in Glasgow and so far so good but it takes time to grow in but it’s definitely getting better everyday! I got it done for myself; I’ve always been really paranoid about my hairline so I thought why not, lets just do it! Can we expect to see you on any other reality TV shows in the future? Love Island? Celebrity Big Brother? Considering I just got engaged I don’t think I will be on love island anytime soon, but I would never say never to other shows as long as I’m learning and growing as a person. Your calendar looks pretty smoking, what made you decide to do one? Where can it be bought and any chance of a signed one for the office? Haha deffo you can have one, get your people to talk to my one person haha! I did one last year and people were asking if I was doing another this year so I did, I’m not shy and I’m naked most of the time anyway so why not!! It’s available online you can get the link from my social media platforms. What’s next for you after Dancing on Ice? After Dancing on Ice I will be hopefully going on tour and an EP is in the works, hopefully more TV work, some presenting, basically anything that I enjoy doing I will do! Do you have a Christmas message for our readers? Yeah have a wonderful Xmas and spend it with the people you love as you never know when there could be one less chair at the table. Enjoy the day get really pissed and laugh until your stomach hurts! And then do the same again for NYE….. also be kind to each other.

You are in panto as Peter Pan in Blackpool, how have the rehearsals been going for that while also training for Dancing on Ice? It’s actually a musical adventure and not



SHANE LYNCH TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO BOYZONE SHOT TO FAME AND NONE OF YOU HAVE REALLY BEEN OUT OF THE SPOTLIGHT SINCE. WHAT IS THE BEST THING YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM YOUR JOURNEY SO FAR? I don’t know if I would say it is something I’ve learned but the best thing I have found since venturing into show business is to stay amongst the people, be visible, be present and be honest. I honestly haven’t stopped since I joined Boyzone all those years ago I’ve always kept myself busy and in the public eye in some shape or form. In the end up it’s the public that put me into this position so it’s only fair that they get to share a piece of it too. YOU AND THE REST OF THE BOYS ARE REUNITING FOR THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF BOYZONE NEXT YEAR; CAN WE EXPECT NEW MATERIAL, WILL SOMEONE BE TAKING STEPHENS PLACE, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE ATTRACTION FOR FANS 25 YEARS ON? I am really looking forward to be out touring again with the lads it’s what we know we do best. I want the tour to be done chronologically from the start of Boyzone right up to where we are today both in the music and visually; there is a new album in the pipeworks with all new material on it which I am excited for the fans to hear. Stevo was such a big part of the band vocally, especially in the early days but nobody could actually replace him within the band. We always pay tribute to him at any gig we do and between myself and the lads we split and share Stevo’s vocals between us and change them up or down to suit our own style. I think the big attraction with Boyzone is we are very much a band for everyone, we were out on the road in the back of a transit van going to places, towns and villages that no other band or artist would think of doing. People feel like they know us and they grew up


with us because of this and they associate our songs with certain times in their lives so there is a lot of nostalgia there. I do think this is where a lot of bands go wrong now, they focus only on the big cities and big tours and they seem to forget there are other fans out there not at these big city gigs. YOU ARE ABOUT TO OPEN YOUR AMEN STORE IN BALLYMENA, WHY THE VENTURE INTO FASHION AND WHY BALLYMENA? I’ve been working within the rag trade for almost 10 years between various projects, one being MMA fighting and training gear which has only really hit the mainstream thanks to Conor McGregor. I was also involved in a urban clothing company a few years ago. Amen all came about due to me traveling the world with these brands to where factories were making clothes for the big designer brands. What I have basically done is contact these factories and got the suits, shirts, ties and shoes that are made for the big designers at a fraction of the price without the designer label on it, so effectively it is still the same well cut and made product but at a fraction of the cost. My decision to open in Ballymena was easy, I could open up in Belfast and try to play with the big boys or I could open up in amongst the people and grow slow and steady into a recognised brand, so I decided to go with the latter. YOU ARE ABOUT TO STAR IN PANTO AS THE SHERIFF OF YORK, HOW DOES PANTO VARY IN COMPARISON TO EVERYTHING ELSE? Panto isn’t for everyone either you love it or you hate it I love it. It’s a gruelling job you can be doing up to 3 shows a day, all singing, all dancing and acting but I like the challenge and I suppose having been part of Boyzone I’m used to getting stuck in. This years panto has a killer cast and a great script, we really are an all singing all dancing cast. There’s myself

from Boyzone, Ben from A1, you might remember the singer Lolly and also the other Ben from Phatts and Small so we all know how to work an audience and entertain and we do just that. IN 2013 YOU TOOK PART IN A TV SHOW ON DYSLEXIA, DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR OUR READERS WITH THE SAME CONDITION? You know Dyslexia is one of those conditions there is no set bar or criteria to meet and also there are various degrees of Dyslexia but one of the main things is that we aren’t too good at the reading and writing part of life which is why something like 60% of people in prision have been found to be Dyslexic because they have had to turn to crime to survive because of issues with job applications and the like but the flip side to that is that something like 30% of millionaires are dyslexic so it’s all about the choices you make in life really with the condition. I’ve been very lucky with my choices in life and I am glad that I have my diagnosis as it explained a lot for me from when I was a child. My advice would be if you think you have it get tested and take the help that is available, don’t be afraid of the tests or the results it’s a manageable condition and there are things you can learn with help to make it less of a problem in daily life. AND FINALLY, ANYTHING YOU WANT TO PLUG? I’m not really big into the plugging things, ironic me saying that as I am in Ballymena plugging my new store lol! I am up in Northern Ireland quite a bit as I have 4 barber shops here called the Elk and Clipper, they are in Banbridge, Portadown, Lurgan and Armagh you should check them out if you are after a great cut in an original styled barber shop. Obviously I am promoting my new clothing and footwear store Amen right here in Ballymena and finally Boyzone fans should keep an eye out for forth coming announcements on our new album and tour next year.






BECOMING A PARENT IS JUST ABOUT THE BIGGEST EVENT IN ANYONE’S LIVES, BRINGING WITH IT A RAFT OF CHALLENGES AND UNFORESEEN SCENARIOS THAT POTENTIALLY POSE THE STERNEST OF TESTS. For Paloma Faith, the experience of being a new mum may have left her wondering where her next night’s sleep might ever be coming from, yet it’s brought a renewed sense of purpose and focus to her music. “I’m trying to juggle being a mother and a singer. I have no idea how I am managing, but I am somehow,” she laughs, recounting her whirlwind existence recording her fourth studio album. The 36-year old Londoner has already amassed an enviable career over the past decade that has seen her become the only female artist beyond Adele to have three double platinum recordings to her name. While it’s been a road requiring plenty of hard graft, her artfully soulful sound and quirky style have undoubtedly played their part in propelling the Hackneyborn star to success.

As if to underline her determination, she famously walked out on a deal for a record contract when the agent watching her refused to stop texting on his phone. Needless to say, it was very much his loss, and the wider music industry’s gain, for Paloma then secured a major deal that set in motion her strikingly memorable debut album. To her credit, Do You Want The Truth or Something Beautiful? blazed a trail into the top 10, and proceeded to lodge in the album charts for the next 100 weeks. But how does she look back on it now? “Well, that was nearly 10 years ago, and it was what it was. But I think it is great that I’ve managed to sustain a career as unfortunately not many people get to make more than one or two albums these days,” reflects the singer on what she feels is now an over-saturated market. By her own admission, trying to sustain a fanbase and avoiding the trap of merely recreating a formula for previous hits has offered plenty of challenges. But as she enthuses, she is not one to rest on her laurels, and ‘likes to mix things up a bit’ which is certainly the case with her latest material.

The singer’s latest offering, The Architect, follows boldly in its predecessors’ footsteps, showcasing her distinctive powerful vocals that have earned comparisons with everyone from 60’s icons such as Etta James and Billie Holiday, through to the late Amy Winehouse.

While her towering vocal abilities have continued to garner contrasts with the late Amy Winehouse, it’s something Paloma is entirely at ease with. “I’m flattered by comparisons to Amy. It’s not something I am offended by, though I am quite different.

As she admits, she’s hoping her latest work, partly recorded in America, might yet crack the elusive holy grail of top slot in the album charts. If the slick, yet lyrically reflective lead single Crybaby is anything to go by, then the signs are indeed looking promising.

“When she met me once, she asked if I played an instrument, but I said no, and she said that was a shame as she would really have liked someone like me in her group.

It seems the singer is enjoying a comparatively settled phase of her life living with French boyfriend Leyman Lahcine, and it’s apparent that starting a family has directly influenced her music. “I do feel my approach to music has changed since I’ve become a parent - which does have an impact. With difficult things that are happening in the world, you feel protective and want to make things comfortable for your family. “I think things are changing in our history and maybe not for the better, which is something I’m concerned about. I feel there’s a sense of duty to talk about events.” Much like any other artist in the limelight, her rise has come with the perhaps inevitable burden of being followed around by the ever-hungry paparazzi. Everyone from Hello magazine through to the national red-top national papers has been waiting to secure pictures of her new youngster, whom she is keen to shield from un-necessary public attention. “I value my privacy more so than ever now, as it’s a real responsibility being a parent, and I want my child to know itself first rather than everyone else feeling that they know all about them.” Such determination to do things on her own terms has proved a consistent theme throughout her career, and something that has helped her stand out from the crowd. As she recalls of her childhood in East London, the half-Spanish artist says that she always had something of a creative streak. However, it was far from obvious that she was destined to become a singer, with her initial studies being at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. “Growing up in Hackney, I was surrounded by lots of different types of music from my mum, I remember listening to plenty of revolutionary music from the 60’s such as Bob Dylan, while my dad was really into jazz, which is where my interest in all that comes from. “Later, when I was studying, I got into R and B dancehall as well, and originally I wanted to be dancer. Then I did my musical theatre, and I think that music just chose me,” she explains of her formative years. From her early CV that spanned everything from being a life model, cabaret dancer and bartender, to a gig as a magician’s assistant, her rich experiences have offered plenty of tales and adventures to fuel her inventive songwriting.

“I was a massive fan of hers, and after watching the documentary about her life, I actually wrote a song for her, Price of Fame, which is on the new album. Her death was such a tragedy,” adds the vocalist with a note of sadness. Her down-to-earth manner is a breath of fresh air in an industry awash with egos, and her willingness to give something back was seen with her time on The Voice series. Beyond being a vocal mentor, she was determined to help those under her wing with additional songwriting classes. As for her own career, having been nominated several times for a Brit Award, persistence paid off two years ago as she claimed a long-awaited win in the best female solo artist category. Being in an industry that is often quick to cast judgment, she felt there was a real sense of vindication in claiming the coveted accolade. “It was amazing to win the Brit Award and to finally gain some acknowledgement. I come from a long line of people that haven’t really been acknowledged for what they did. I think there are a lot of people out there doing important work, like doctors and nurses who don’t get that recognition they should.” With a major award to her name, there has been plenty of hype surrounding her latest release, bolstered by notable additions including an appearance from Samuel L Jackson and a duet with singer songwriter John Legend in the mix. Besides the album, fans will have to wait a little longer for her next UK tour, which kicks off next March. It’s destined to feature some of Paloma’s trademark self-designed sets to spark the tone for a hit-packed series of shows. “The only reason I do what I’m doing is because I love touring – as when I’m out there I am excited and feel that I’m in the right place,” adds the engaging singer, who may well have a little more to think about with a young child in tow, yet it won’t stop her from enjoying every single moment. Paloma’s new album ‘The Architect’ is out now. Paloma will embark on a UK arena tour next year, entertaining huge crowds across the UK and Ireland playing shows at venues including the Manchester Arena, Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena, Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Dublin’s 3Arena and London’s O2 Arena. find tickets via gigsandtours.com WORDS: Neill Barston


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Steven STEVEN Carter-Bailey

BakeCATER-BAILEY Off and Beyond! Be honest, we were willing him to win from the first moment he walked into that tent. Steven’s baking skills, genuine niceness, heartfelt emotion, and that wee tuft of furry chest that was on show had us air-punching at the screen with each new baking creation. Steven made it through to the finals but was pipped at the post by Sophie. We asked Steven all about bake off, his inspirations, aspirations, and life in general… Steven, virtually everywhere we read about you there is a nod to your mum, and how she was your biggest influence regarding your baking. Tell us about this, and now that you’ve been a finalist in GBBO do you have a thing or two to teach her? My mother has influenced every area of my life, from my tastes in music to my rather twisted sense of humour. However, we are both kitchen lovers and are never happier than we are baking a cake or sorting a midweek dinner. It was Mum’s relaxed attitude to preparing food that influenced me to get into the kitchen and try my own thing. Mum and I learn from one another – we talk at least twice a week and share food updates; what we’ve made, what we’re planning to make and sometimes she takes my advice. So growing up, what was your family life like, were you always a bit of a mummy’s boy? I’m one of many children, so life was hectic, but I have always been and always will be a Mummy’s boy. Mum is incredibly proud of all her children and even now that we’re in our 30’s, we still make her proud……..even when someone gets a new tattoo! On the show you were honoured with the baker of the week crown three times and were even on the receiving end of a coveted Paul Hollywood handshake.

During the first few shows of the series it seemed you could do no wrong, were you ever aware of any jealousy from the other contestants, and how did it feel getting the crown three times? It felt amazing to get the crown three times because I worked so hard for them. But……I don’t handle praise that well and I felt a little awkward getting a round of applause. I think I went bright red and couldn’t even make eye contact with Paul or Prue, which is probably not the reaction they were expecting. If there was any jealousy then I certainly wasn’t told about it haha! On and off camera, my fellow bakers congratulated me and made me feel like I deserved my crown. What did you find the toughest baking challenge on the show? My answer to this question seems to change from day to day - However, I remember how much I battled with the signature breads in the final. For some reason these were to become my nemesis for that week! And conversely what do you feel was your biggest triumph? You’d probably expect me to say something like my chess set or bread cake, and you wouldn’t be wrong. However, I’m most proud of the Sfogliatelle that I made in Italian week, because I had to teach myself a new skill and according to Paul and Prue, I mastered it and made something better than Paul did! I couldn’t add my signature flare on the little pastries, so I had to channel all of my efforts into making them as authentic as possible! Most people will already know that the show is filmed quite a while before it goes to air. How hard was it not to tell people how far you’d come in the show? Were you not bursting with pride? If I’ve learnt one thing about myself since I applied for the Bakeoff, it’s that I am amazing at keeping secrets! I had to

become pretty skilled at making believable excuses on the spot, because no one can know, not even my nearest and dearest. I was so desperate to tell people, but I was strong and kept my mouth shut! It was worth it in the end. Do you see your future moving away from “marketing” and towards a career behind the mixing bowl? I’d like to think so……let’s see what happens next! There’s been a picture doing the rounds that shows a much rounder Steven, and it’s been said that discovering your own cooking ability led to a 5 stone weight loss. Tell us about that, and how different you feel in yourself being a slimmer guy. I was mortified when I saw that picture in the paper, but it was only after a few days that I realised, by feeling shame about my body, I was sending myself a negative message that to be large is to be ugly…… When it isn’t! I lost the weight because of health reasons and whilst I’m proud of my achievement, I still have a long way to go until I will be happy. Being part of the LGBT community we can often feel more pressure on how we look because of the pre-perceptions about how LGBT people should look or behave. Was this a factor in your quest to lose weight? No, and I will never conform to any beauty standard set by any social group. I’ve suffered enough in my life because who or what I am doesn’t meet someone else’s ideal! I may not be totally ‘happy’ with my body as it is, but I will not change it to make someone else happy, I will do it to make me happy. Watching you baking your amazing creations, we were all wowed by your attention to detail, your planning, and how you managed not to swear when things went tits up. Are you this calm

and methodical day to day, or are you a bundle of rage off screen, you know the sort who beeps at traffic lights and tuts when walking round older folk in the supermarket? All I will say regarding my time in the tent is, thank goodness for editing! I won’t say I was foul mouthed, but I do swear quite a lot! It’s a terrible habit, but sometimes I can’t help myself! I try to be as understanding as possible on the roads and in supermarkets, but if I’m in a cranky mood, then I might tut, whilst in my head I’ll be going mad! Speaking of rage, what’s your pet hate? Arrogance and being called Steve! Men and women, young and old, up and down the country are drawn in by Paul Hollywood, we think it’s the steely blue eyes. Were you a bit star-struck when you first met him (and is he as hot in the flesh)? It was lovely to meet him and I hugely respect him. He’s a very funny guy with a wicked sense of humour. Is there a special guy in your life right now, if so tell us your love story and make us all jealous. And if there’s not, can I have your number please? Sorry Gary, but my partner and I will be celebrating our 12th anniversary this January. We met online and I think if I told you our pet names for one another then I would end up single, very quickly! He is a private person but he is my biggest supporter and does everything he can to make sure my dreams come true – I am very, very lucky! Follow Steven online: instagram.com/spongecakesquaretin youtube.com/c/SpongeCakeSquareTin twitter.com/SpongeCakeSqTin



LAYTON WILLIAMS He’s a king of the stage having starred in Billy Elliott, Beautiful People, Hairspray, and Rent. He’s also ann active LGBTQ+ supporter and ally. He shares some stories with us... AGED 23 YOU’VE HAVE SOME GREAT ROLES BETWEEN BILLY ELLIOTT, BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE AND RENT, OUT OF THE THREE WHICH WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING AND WHAT MADE IT SO CHALLENGING? I would probably have to say Billy Elliott because it was the first show I have ever really done and I was so young carrying a whole Westend show as the main lead, it was only really when I went to see it again lately that I realised just how much there is involved in the role, it’s like Elphaba in Wicked for a kid minus the big lead vocals. I was totally oblivious to any negativity around a young black boy playing the lead role as I was so young plus the negative press was so minimal, I think it was just one review that upset me, as I didn’t know what to make of a review that was based on the colour of my skin rather than the ability to act the role. YOU’VE ATTENDED 2 WORLD FAMOUS STAGE SCHOOLS SYLVIA YOUNG AND ITALIA CONTI, BOTH HAVE PRODUCED SOME INTERNATIONAL TALENTS, HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR TIME AT THESE AND WERE THERE ANY NOTABLE CLASS MATES THAT WE WOULD KNOW OF? My time was mainly spent at Italia I was there for around 5 years and was fortunate enough to already have a few roles under my belt before I started there. I look at my time at these two amazing schools as the foundations to all my training, it’s hard work and it is if I am honest a little bit like fame in that we are all singing and dancing around continuously rehearsing in our own heads\spaces. You have to be very committed to take up a place in either of them as it’s all very expensive so you need the confidence, the drive and the passion to push yourself through it all. In terms of my class mates none have made it to the international spotlight just yet but my friend John has just taken the lead in a Westend musical called “ Everybody’s talking about Jamie” which is very exciting for him and I am very proud of him for landing the role. YOU ARE A STRONG SUPPORTER OF THE “STONEWALL” AND “DITCH THE LABEL” CHARITIES TELL US ABOUT THEM AND HOW YOU CAME TO BEING INVOLVED. It was James Wharton the first openly gay soldier that encouraged me to join with Stonewall and raise awareness through a tweet of his. I’ve since been using a lot of my free time for the Stonewall charity lately as it is such a worthwhile charity they help people from across the LGBTQ+ spectrum and their families, they help with equality issues for the LGBTQ+ community and they also do educational visits to schools to stamp out bullying within UK and Irish schools. Every little bit helps so if by me supporting them helps raise the profile and helps even just one child a bit I have done my job. Both charities are all about ditching labels, independence and equality for the LGBTQ+ community. YOU’VE BEEN IN THE INDUSTRY 10YEARS, ANY FUNNY EXPERIENCES YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? Oh theres plenty of stories but one of my favourite would be that while I was in rent I had a costume which was effectively a coat, wig and underwear and at the bit where I am supposed to whip off my coat but, I couldn’t get it off as the back of my coat had gotten stuck in the wig. I had to just carry on like it wasn’t


happening, its one of the many mishaps I have had on stage but you just have to get on with things as your fans have turned up and paid to see you and you can’t let them down. YOU HAVE JUST STARTED THE HAIRSPRAY TOUR, HOW ARE YOU FINDING THE ROLE? TELL US ABOUT A STANDARD DAY OF A MUSICAL THEATRE STAR. I just love, love, love it! Such a new a vibrant musical with a great cast, playing great venues with a show that has a very important message about acceptance, tolerance and friendship at its core what’s not to love about that, I am really enjoying it. We are pretty lucky that when we are touring once we have had our rehearsals your days are pretty much free, so you don’t have to be in work until about 6pm, I’ve been using my free time to explore each city we have been in, it’s a great way to get to know the places you’ve toured. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT PLAYING ANGEL IN RENT? I think it was just the heart and story of the character and being able to play that out on a stage to audiences every night plus the costumes are fantastic changing from boy angel to girl angel. SWEET OR SALTED POPCORN? Always sweet HOT SUMMER OR WHITE WINTER? As much as I love glistening white snow and Christmas I am going to say hot summer cause nothing can beat sitting by the pool in the sun with a cocktail on hand just soaking up the heat. IF YOU COULD COME BACK AS AN ANIMAL WHAT WOULD YOU BE AND WHY? I think I would be an eagle of some sort because being able to see everything from that high up in the sky and to have that freedom would just be amazing. FAVOURITE THEATRE SHOW AND TELL US WHY IS IT YOUR FAVOURITE. Everybody’s talking about Jamie because my friend is in it and it is such an inspiring show. 3 PRODUCTS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT WHILE ON TOUR Cocoa Butter to keep my skin soft and looking great. HMDI Cable because you never know when you are going to have a bit of down time on the road and nothing beats having a little Netflix moment and binge watching some of your shows. The WIFI code for whichever theatre we are performing at as I would be lost without internet and social media access. FAVOURITE CITY YOU’VE TOURED IN AND WHY? It’s weird me saying this with being in Ireland currently at the moment but I would have to say Dublin purely because it was my birthday while we were there and it was just amazing everyone was around and up for a party to celebrate my birthday and it was great being the centre of attention. WHEN MAKING TEA DO YOU ADD THE HOT WATER OR THE MILK FIRST? Water always like who even puts the milk in first... right? BATH OR SHOWER? Do you know what I shower every day cause you never know what you are going to get in terms of digs from week to week but there is nothing I love more than a long hot candle lit bath with Lush bath bombs and products which look and smell amazing, so only because of that I will say bath. MUSICAL THEATRE OR TV? Can I say both in a glee style format? That way I can combine both the things I love doing! HAIRSPRAY WILL BE TOURING UNTIL 4TH AUGUST 2018 AND SHOWING AT DUBLIN BORD GAIS ENERGY THEATRE (9-14 JULY 2018)


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Liz Nicholls chats to ballroom dancer Anton du Beke, 51, who last year married and became dad to twins and has just released his fantastic swing album From The Top. Hello Anton – lovely to chat to you! I’ve just been shuffling about in the kitchen dancing and singing along to your CD! “Thank you – that’s exactly the reaction I wanted! We all love christmas yet dread January a month which often seems quite depressing! Do you like January? Well, in January I’m so busy. I’m in the studio working on my tour. It’s incredibly exhausting and I have about a thousand steps to learn so my brain feels like it’s about to melt. I have songs to remember and chat to learn. Erin [Boag] and I tour every January, February, March. So I don’t get January blues. I always feel quite poor, though, because those credit card bills mount up and I’ve gone a bit too mad at Christmas again. I’m a last-minute kind of shopper. I tend to leave it late and then throw lots of money at the problem. And yes, I have to get some great presents this year! I love a voucher, though – the best thing is to get something you love and the next-best thing is to get something you can take back and exchange for something you love! 2017 has been the best year ever – getting married and doing so much great stuff...” Where are you now? “In the living room at my house in Burnham Beeches. It’s a lovely part of the world. I don’t come from round here; I grew up in Sevenoaks and spent a number of years in central London. When I met Hannah she came from here and I’ve loved to be here and discover the area. Bucks is gorgeous and equidistant between the M4 and M40 which is perfect for when I’m on the road. I take the dogs for a walk in the woods – we have two short-hair black-and-tan daschunds called Antoninus and Branston.” How do you stay healthy? “We do eat pretty healthily. Hannah is a great cook and we never eat meals like the ones you grab out the fridge and shove in the oven. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke but I’ve always lived that kind of lifestyle – it’s not something I’ve worked at, it’s just

normal for me.” Who were your early musical influences? “Growing up, I fell in love with musicals. Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly were my heroes – I wanted to dance like them but didn’t know how I’d go from a church hall in Kent to being Fred Astaire! Sinatra and Sammy Davis Junior – those great entertainers – also impressed me, and that whole sense of having an orchestra on stage. This album features a 36-piece orchestra who usually don’t do swing but they were so lovely and so enthusiastic. The string section are from the Royal Philharmonic – that’s how good they are.” It was a joy to watch you dancing with Ruth [Langsford] on Strictly at the end of last year! Did you get on with Ruth? “Brilliant; she’s a joy. She and Eamonn are so funny and Ruth has the best ever sense of humour!” Do you go out to see much live music? “A little bit but I don’t go to many big concerts. I found when I went to a few when I was young that you’re just in the way of the performance if that makes sense at all? So I don’t go to the big Ed Sheeran concerts or anything like that. But I’m always listening to music on Spotify on my phone to find stuff to dance to! And I do love going to all the big shows.” Your good friend Bruce Forsyth died last year and I’m sorry for your loss. How have you coped with that? “Thank you. It was a massive shame and a big shock. I spoke to him about two weeks before he passed away and he said he felt a bit better. He had been on his exercise machine to start building his strength up. In fact, I’ve got a song on the album called Me And My Shadow which is about him and quite an important song to me. I still feel sad but lucky to have known him. People deal with it in their own way, but my life is better for having known him.” Have you got any dreams for this year? “No! With the babies and getting married last year and the album and a great Strictly I feel really happy with my lot! All I’d like is more of the same, please... well, no more twins! Actually what I’d like is them to grow big and beautiful and happy.” From the Top by Anton du Beke is out now. He also stars with Erin Boag in his nationwide show Broadway to Hollywood until March. Visit www.antonanderin.com



WELCOME TO BELFAST DAVID, HOW HAVE YOU FOUND IT SO FAR? HAVE YOU HAD MUCH TIME FOR SIGHTSEEING AND IF SO WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR HIGHLIGHT? I’ve been to Belfast three times before twice with Rocky Horror and once with the Producers so I am fairly familiar with the city but I am currently at that stage that all touring actors get, where I am trying to remember which city things are in like the restaurants I like to eat in and shops I like to shop in are. I have never really had much time off when I have been here previously but with the panto I will get days off to go out and experience things so currently The Titanic Centre is high on my list of priorities as I am fascinated with the history, emotion and romance of it all, so I am looking forward to checking that out. ARE YOU EXCITED FOR YOUR ROLE AS CAPTAIN HOOK IN THIS YEARS PANTO? WHAT CAN WE EXPECT? HOW MANY SHOWS WILL THE RUN HAVE? This isn’t my first time playing Captain Hook I have done the role previously with Bradly Walsh as my co-star as Smee but the dynamics were very different that time round as we were more of a comedy duo whereas this time round I am more integrated into the story and much more of the classic character that people know, he’s a showman for sure and loves to hear himself talk, a total ego manic and is villainous and evil to the core does he come with an evil villain’s laugh too? Yes but obviously you can’t sound bite that for a magazine. I have12 Shows a week for 6 weeks, so 72 in total so a busy run but that’s how I like it. YOU’VE STACKED UP AN


IMPRESSIVE LIST OF ROLES BETWEEN MUSICAL THEATRE, TV AND MOVIES. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE AND IF YOU COULD ONLY PLAY ONE FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE WHICH WOULD IT BE AND WHY? HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO THIS ROLE AS CAPTAIN HOOK? Gosh that’s a tough one….umm I loved playing Rodger De Bris in the Producers because he gets to be so outlandishly camp but then his character totally changes as the show progresses and I just love that character development and growth that the audience get to witness. I have loved other roles but couldn’t choose them as my favourite as they are so vocally challenging I couldn’t do them for the rest of my life even though some of them have earned me some amazing accolades within the industry. YOU LEND YOUR VOICE QUITE REGULARLY TO MY NEPHEW’S FAVOURITE SHOW THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE, HOW DID THIS COME ABOUT? HOW DOES IT COME TO YOUR MORE ADULT ROLES? ANY CHILDREN WITHIN YOUR FAMILY BIG FANS OF THE SHOW? Well I do two voices for the show Victor and the Mayor of Sodor, my agent got the call that they were looking at adding a new train to the show and that they wanted him to be Mexican American which obviously I am, they were very specific with their directive that they wanted him to have an accent like he was a foreigner living in America. The show has an amazing director to work with in that she gives great direction on how to present your lines if she wants softer tones or sterner tones, she also likes to do line

reads which a lot of actors don’t like but personally I think it helps me get the character and the emotion for the script right so I am like give me a line read and lets do this. Unfortunately the children in my family are all too old to appreciate my work with Thomas but love the fact that I do the voices for such an iconic show. WHATS NEXT FOR YOU AFTER THE PANTO? WHAT ARE YOU PLANS FOR CHRISTMAS DAY? WHAT WOULD BE YOUR IDEAL CHRISTMAS PRESENT? I am heading directly back to Los Angles to focus on more TV and film work there because as much as I love what I do here in the UK and the opportunities I have had within the theatre I miss my family, we aren’t getting any younger! My siblings are all in their 50’s and 60’s also, it was different when we were in our 30’s we were all like we’ve got the rest of our lives to spend time together as a family, I think now the realisation has set in that we aren’t getting any younger and there is no time like the present. My ideal present would be to be back home in Chicago spending time with my family but this year I will be here in Belfast due to my commitments with the Panto. ON DOWN TIME AWAY FROM BEING A STAR OF THEATRE AND TV WHAT DOES DAVID BEDELLA LIKE TO DO? I really love dinner and spending time with my friends, I have a great circle of friends back in London who are all into their food and great company like myself, we refer to ourselves as “the shire” referencing the lord of the rings \ Hobbit as a home, a place of friends and fun times. We would call each other up and say are we going to the

Shire this evening. I also love spending down time with my partner we are very happy together and just enjoy each other’s company. YOU IDENTIFY AS GAY AND ARE IN A GREAT RELATIONSHIP, WOULD CHILDREN EVER COME INTO THE EQUATION? ALSO ON THE TOPIC OF THE LGBT COMMUNITY WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THE CURRENT POLITICAL SITUATION WE FACE HERE IN NORTHERN IRELAND? Well I have a son who is 18 years old and studying Politics at university in Ohio, for a while he was following in my footsteps with a career in acting but after the whole Trump getting the presidency he felt that it was only right that he try and get into politics to be able to make a change for the better. He thought he was going to break my heart when he told me that he was not going to follow on into acting but secretly I breathed a sigh of relief as the acting world is so cut-throat and is a hard industry due to so much of it being about timing and luck for getting roles. I’ve seen people who have worked hard their whole life in the industry and not got much back from it whereas atleast in politics he can build a successful career within it as long as he is good at what he does and I have every faith that he will be. On the political front here in Northern Ireland we need to work hard to remain visible, to remind the politicians that this isn’t a life choice it is part of our DNA it’s part of who we are. I do understand that there are religious elements to this argument, I myself am a religious man but I am also a gay man the two can co-exist and the sooner those in government understand that the better for our community.


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NI GOSSIP GUY Set up in 2013 you’ve built up 11.5k Instagram followers, 19.3k Twitter Followers and 30.7k on Facebook, what inspired you to set up NI Gossip guy and how did you build up this amount of followers? I was inspired to set up NI Gossip Guy by my cousin Katrina Dorans blog (Sugahfix) and being hooked on my favourite TV Show at the time Gossip Girl. I never had any major plans for it at first, it was merely an outlet to talk about my passion for music that was instilled in me by family from a very young age. I kept myself anonymous for the first year or so and amassed a large following quite early which was surprising, this is what pushed me to take it a little further and explore more areas to write about. You’ve been lucky enough to interview some of the biggest stars to hit our shores through your various media platforms, who has been the best and the worst you have experienced? I get asked this a lot for me, I am more interested in the music or the reason why I am interviewing the star rather than the star themselves. However, I do have a few funny stories I could tell in a more private forum. My favourite star to interview must be SIA, she was simply incredible! She was very friendly, open to all my questions and made me feel comfortable. We had a great interview that went over time by 20 minutes which in the music industry is a lot! At the end she told me I was one of the best interviewers she ever had & give me a big hug, she was so genuine and real.

You are very active across all social media platforms, what does a normal day in the life of NI Gossip Guy consist of? Gossip Guy was always a hobby for me. A hobby that opened allot of doors for me such as presenting for MTV, travelling to many countries and meeting some amazing people along the way. I was always very grateful of the opportunities local PR and media firms give me and without them I wouldn’t have gotten very far at all. I moved to Dublin almost 2 years ago so unfortunately my hobby has taken a back seat for the last few months, however that will be changing very soon with some very exciting plans being announced in the coming months. You also work for Facebook what does that role consist of? Do you enjoy it?

I am a Market Manager for Facebook and have worked for Facebook almost 2 years now. I manage 14 direct reports and operations across a very large region. The role is very exciting, fast paced and never has a dull day. I get to work every day with some of the most intelligent and interesting people I have ever come across in my life and I learn something new every day. You seem to travel a lot with your roles, what has been your favourite place to visit and why? I am very lucky to travel allot with both my job and personal travel. Recently I was in California, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and New York. Whilst New York is most favourite place in the world, Singapore really took my breath away. I am quite fussy and methodical, some would say OCD, Singapore is an OCD people’s haven. It’s very clean and modern with huge skyscrapers, an ArtScience museum like no other and Gardens by the Bay which are just simply incredible located right in the middle of the city. The colossal solar-powered supertrees form part of the 250-acre Gardens by the Bay and have 18 man-made “trees” between 25 and 50 meters tall, each loaded up with intricate vertical gardens. The evening light show gives you a neon appreciation for Singapore’s unique relationship with nature. You appear extremely busy between NI Gossip Guy and Facebook, What do you like to do in your spare time? I started the gym over a year ago and surprisingly enough found a new-found love for working out. However, with work and recent travels I haven’t been able to go as much as I want to, so those desired abs we all aim for may have to wait another while. What music is currently on your playlist for the gym \ commute to work \ chilling out at home? Need in me Flashmob, Stargazing – Kygo, Million Days Paul Kalkbrenner (amazing) and an old classic Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush And finally any advice for our Celebrity Editor Gary? Yes! Keep doing what you are doing because GNI is epic! I get a copy posted to me every month in Dublin! One piece of advice my mum give me and it always resonates ‘’Do something every day that scares you”….I believe to be a better version of ourselves, we need to take risks and push boundaries, we also need to be less hard on ourselves, it’s the one person we should be most kind to!


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To Find Out More Attend An OPEN MORNING Every 1st & 3rd Tuesday of the Month from 10.30am - 12 noon A short presentation will be followed by a tour of the centre and Q & A session facilitated by Services Users

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LWR ORMEAU BED & BREAKFAST • • • • • • • • •

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Don’t make a fool of yourself this year at the work party!! PAGE 52


Some great gifts for those impossible to buy for people in your life. PAGE 54



Keep them pennies in your pocket, our guide to scrimping. PAGE 63



A GENDER AND ORIENTATION INCLUSIVE GUIDE TO FESTIVE FASHION, HOLDING YOUR BOOZE AND BEHAVING YOURSELF THIS CHRISTMAS. You’ve conquered your anxiety, (cus let’s face it, statistically you have it and you’re dreading this event) and managed to attend the office Christmas party. That’s cause enough for celebration but no you can’t go home just yet. Wait, wait slow down on the drinks, we both know that’s a bad coping mechanism. No don’t do that, you’ll regret it for weeks. No REALLY don’t do tha….Oh hell. Each and every year there’s always some office drama regarding the Christmas party – if you don’t end up mortally embarrassed and fearful of returning to work did you really have a Christmas party? Well, you did have one but it was much less entertaining for those who can pace themselves and the teetotallers actually had a pleasant evening with no need to hold back hair nor drive people home five hours out of their way. Still, you’re a budding professional (or a respected Editor, no names. Ahem.) and you at have to a least reign it in a little, no Rudolph puns intended. So here’s GNI’s guide to Civil(er) Office Party Etiquette: Fashion: In regards to fashion, go chic and dressy, with restraint! The office Christmas


party is not your opportunity to channel Edina Monsoon and drop as many labels as you can, all of them gaudy and ridiculous. Keep the one-armed off-theshoulder sequin unitard dress-iform in it’s bag (or preferably bin it) and go for a classic instead. For the feminine, femme and transfeminine, look for a sparkly dress and add a good pair of heels for a solid look that although often done, when done right is a foolproof festive outfit. If you’re feeling more adventurous go for some thigh high boots and a semi-masculine cut blazer, or even pop for a jumpsuit. Deep jewel tones, velvets and, if you care to risk the weather, suede are all good choices in my humble opinion. If you can’t bear the cold or shaving your legs (and I don’t blame you nor condone this as a necessity to femininity - your boy’s as queer as they come) you can opt for a wide leg trouser or belted palazzo and a chic blouse and fitted jacket. Show off the waist you won’t have after New Year’s while you can hun. And then indulge. You deserve it. You might just need to buy some sweats in the sale to make it through to that gym membership and cabbage soup of January (not that I condone that either. Neither the peer pressure to look a certain way, nor the gas. Jesus, the gas.) But it’s Christmas! Asos, Zara, Missguided and Boohoo are your friends. Try the Zara Studio if you can stretch to it for something a bit different without that “It’s LACROIX

darling” danger. For plus sizes Boohoo, Missguided, ASOS, Torrid and ModCloth can give you some good options. For good heels you can’t really go wrong with Topshop and Torrid, again, for bigger widths. Keep your accessories simple and in one tone. If you absolutely MUST go Christmas novelty have one piece of jewellery only, like silly earrings or a brooch. You don’t have to wear tinsel to indicate your awareness of the Festive Season. But you do you, these are just suggestions to stop the raging office + booze fuelled banter from destroying your inner elf entirely. If you’re more butch, masculinely inclined in your cuts and comfort, transmaculine or cis again a blazer is a great option. They can be expensive though if you want something cut to appeal to your aesthetics AND your body. Again Zara can outfit you with traditionally masculine and some more androgynous cuts and even run a unisex range. Other places you might look are Asos and Topman for a high street cut. If you’re happy with traditionally masculine cut blazers you shouldn’t struggle too hard to be honest. If you are struggling however, without starting a whole new article, you have options like HauteButch, Wildfang and BullAndDagger and even potentially ModCloth for cool and snazzy blazers which are cut for different shapes and bodies wanting a masculine look. Blazers can be dangerously boring if

you’ve rocked them for a long time though, but please don’t think that allows you to pull out an old waist-coat. We’re just not there yet babe. 2008 still haunts some of us. Pop for a snazzy shirt instead, as no matter your letter, sexuality or gender we’re all loving a bit of print and fun at the moment. Allsaints do some, as again do Zara (not sponsored just wish I was), and Boohoo Man have some fun ones. And the latter do a range of sizes well into plus sizes. Thank the baby Jesus for some inclusivity I guess. Or, you know, don’t. Finally you can try GenderFreeWorld for off the rack, Kippers Clothiers for bespoke cuts and even Lands’ End can outfit you in a shirt that fits your body without bust-darts if that’s a concern (although only in non-plus sizes unfortunately.) Don’t go wild on the shoes. If an Italian pimp would wear it, you probably shouldn’t. But again, that’s just my advice on how not to be torn to shreds by the office bitches, who are quite often the straight-cis men for some reason… Food and Drink(ing): This one has a short answer and long answer; short answer – pace yourself and don’t be fooled into thinking booze is an excuse for bad behaviour past the age of seventeen. It’s not. It’s not cute. But it happens, and if it does you’ll have to deal with the messy repercussions yourself cus my remit doesn’t extend to therapy because you asked the boss’ partner if they’d ever actually had an orgasm.


(That’s a layover from heteronormative stereotypes that just doesn’t quit tbh.); the long answer is as follows: In regards to food I say eat as much as you want as long as you don’t do it so obviously or grossly that you can’t deal with people talking about it afterwards. My limit is lifting an entire tray and sliding it into your bag but that’s only because someone potentially needs that tray back. If it’s tinfoil, mate crack on. As long as no one sees! (Edit: If you insist on hooking up and messing up your office relationships, I’d lay off the food. Just a thought.) Now to the big one, drink and drinking it. I think this requires a list of DON’Ts for best efficacy: —Don’t mix Advocat, Baileys, Chambord, Prosecco and Tequila. You WILL be sick. —Well now you’ve gone and done that…At least don’t do it in front of the boss. —Oh well too little, too late as long as you don’t get so drunk you start using it as an excuse to misbe-… —Okay. Okay. We can still do damage control here. Just stop now and have some water. Definitely DO NOT tell your co-worker you fancy them though. —Oh hell. —Well don’t do anything you’d regret. Thank God we don’t use photocopiers

so much anymore. They were always just the right height to… —Oh your office still has one of those? And you did that too? With the coworker? Great. Don’t tell anyone and maybe it’ll just be an awkward ignoring each other until one of you gets moved. —At least you haven’t offered the boss sexual favour for a raise. —Oh you did that? And involved the co-worker? Oh you suggested a threesome in the supply closet? —And you gave the boss head… —… —Just keep drinking. That’s the only option you now have. You can hope Santa is bringing you new job opportunities for Christmas. Really though, just pace yourself and don’t do anything you’d do on a normal night out or with your friends. If you’re drinking because you’re anxious, again, know your limits and don’t cross them. Just go home. If you’re trying to keep pace with someone else, impress, or show off, catch yourself on. No one cares about how much red wine you can stomach or how many grapes you can name for that matter. You’re there to socialise and have some fun, so just be chill. If someone suggests going out for more drinks or an after party and you weren’t prepared for that, I would suggest you don’t go. It’ll only get messier and everyone knows someone who knows someone who did something mortifying through drink at an office party who was crying in the

break room come Monday morning. General Etiquette: As for general behaviour, drink aside, just be yourself, but more your work self than your home self. Don’t go talking to the manager of your office and ask them for a selfie and a kiss under the mistletoe if you don’t know them and don’t already know it will be taken in good humour. The water cooler is not a place to bitch about your colleagues any more. To be frank, it never was. We all need a bit of a vent, and a work bestie can be an absolute blessing, but hold your tongue and try to employ some charity and grace in the festive season towards the asshole who keeps messing up your spreadsheets and interrupting your presentations because it will otherwise get back to them that you’ve been running your mouth and the New Year won’t be such a fresh start when they bring it up at the next big meeting. Your Ghost of Christmas Past shouldn’t be because you couldn’t stop the venom for one night. Which is hilarious coming from me. On the other hand, and speaking of work besties, try not to just talk to one person all night. Everyone wants to feel included in the fun at Christmas and a genuine smile and discussion with someone can really make their night. If you’re still awful like me, and if your colleagues are still awful like everyone

else who does this to me, share a cigar when someone who doesn’t smoke asks. Yes, yes, I shouldn’t condone smoking nor encourage it in any form but let’s face it it’s still going to happen and everyone appreciates the person who indulges their sin for a night out more than they realise. You can take it up with me when you see me, or deal with it when you pop your clogs and get where your going, but for now it’s just something that won’t go too amiss. If you’re out, tip. It’s Christmas, and the boss might cover the dinner but if you’re getting your own drinks etc, the waiters will appreciate it and your co-workers respect you for it. If you’re in house, do not start stealing office supplies. Just a thought. You don’t really need that stapler. You don’t. Finally, do not hack anyone’s phones or emails and social media for shits and gigs. It’ll come back to bite you on the ass trust me. Christmas is about goodwill and good times, so have them and keep the naughty list shit for the bedroom when you get back! Have a good one, and if you do break all my rules, I want hilarious photographic proof of it. WORDS: Cliff Carter




Our gift guide...







TOP TIPS • • • •

Put health and safety first when dealing with meat. Let your cooked turkey completely cool, then refrigerate at the first opportunity – within 90 minutes is best. Don’t leave your turkey hanging around all afternoon as it may become unsafe to eat. Bear this in mind before heading for your post-feasting nap. Leftover turkey should be eaten within two days, so if you don’t think you’ll get through it in time stick it in the freezer in portions. If you do freeze your turkey for a later date, make sure it’s wrapped properly or put in a sealed container to avoid freezer burn. It’s also good to use sticky labels to add dates and descriptions to your frozen goods. If you’re storing your leftover cooked turkey in the fridge, place it on the middle shelf along with all your other ready-to-eat foods. Save the bottom shelf for raw meat and fish.

TURKEY CURRY Spicing up your leftover bird couldn’t be easier with this easy recipe from Good To Know. All you need to do is shred up the leftover meat and stir it into the sauce, before making sure it’s heated thoroughly - we guarantee the whole family will love it so much they’ll be pestering you to make it again. YOU NEED: • 1 orange pepper, sliced


• • • • • • • • • • • •

1 red pepper, sliced 500g turkey breast steaks, cut into short wide strips 200g green beans, halved 4 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped Small bunch coriander, chopped 2tbsp sunflower oil 1 large onion, roughly chopped 5tbsp korma curry paste 3tbsp spicy mango chutney 200ml hot chicken stock 400ml tin reduced-fat coconut milk 2tbsp toasted flaked almonds

METHOD: • Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add the onion and peppers, and cook for 3-4 mins, until the onion is golden and peppers softened. • Stir in the turkey and curry paste, and cook, stirring, for a couple of mins. • Add the beans, tomatoes, mango chutney, stock and coconut milk, and simmer for 10 mins. Stir through coriander, sprinkle with almonds and season before serving your turkey curry with rice and chapattis.




Who doesn’t love sitting down to a tasty

You can’t go wrong with a good Turkey

pie in the evening? This one from the BBC

Stew to warm up the winter evenings

is super quick to throw together and only

between Christmas and New Year’s Eve and

takes about 30 minutes to prep, all you

it’s a great way to use up a leftover turkey

need to do is chop your leftover turkey into

leg or two. Plus, the ingredients in this BBC

bite size pieces.

recipe are so simple there’s no need to do a special shop as you’ll most likely have


everything in your cupboard.

butter, for frying

1 large onion, chopped


2 large carrots, sliced into lozenges

1 tbsp olive oil

2 large leeks, sliced into 2cm/¾in

1 turkey leg (about 700-800g/1lb 9oz1lb 12oz)

pieces, washed •

200ml/7fl oz double cream

200ml/7fl oz chicken or turkey stock

2 onions, sliced

500g/1lb 2oz cooked turkey, cut into

2 garlic cloves, bashed

bite-size pieces

2 carrots, diced

200g/7oz cooked ham, cut into bite-size

1 litre/1¾ pints chicken stock, made

from stock cube

pieces •

10 button mushrooms

pinch cayenne pepper

salt and pepper

500g/1lb 2oz potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped

2 tbsp chopped tarragon

thyme leaves

sea salt and freshly ground black



Heat a large saucepan over a high

225g/8oz frozen puff pastry, defrosted

heat. Add the oil, season the turkey

1 free-range egg, beaten

leg on all sides and brown in the hot

2 tbsp Parmesan, finely grated

pan for 7-8 minutes, turning now and again to ensure that all sides are coloured.


Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Heat a large pan over a medium heat.

add the onions, garlic and carrots and stir.

Add a knob of butter and gently cook the onion until soft but not brown.

stock is simmering gently.

cooking for five minutes until the •

Cover with a lid and cook for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Cover with the cream and stock and simmer until the sauce starts

Pour in the stock, mixing well to combine. Reduce the heat so that the

Add the carrots and leek and continue carrots begin to soften.

Turn the heat down to medium and

Once the turkey leg is cooked, remove

to thicken. Add the turkey, ham,

it from the stew and leave to one side

mushrooms, cayenne and herbs then

to cool slightly. Add the potatoes to

season to taste with salt and freshly

the stew, cover again and continue

ground black pepper and remove the

to cook for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

pan from the heat. •

Meanwhile once cool enough to

Pour the filling into a ceramic pie dish.

Roll out the pastry to make a lid for

handle, remove the skin from the

the pie and strips to line the rim of the

turkey and use a fork to help shred the


meat, discarding any bones or sinew.

Press the strips onto the rim,

Add the meat back to the pan with the

moistening them with a little water,

cooked potatoes and stew mixture. Mix

then press down the lid firmly and

well, taste and adjust the seasoning as


brush with the beaten egg. •

Sprinkle with the parmesan and cook in the oven for 20 minutes until the

Once ready to serve, stir through the chopped parsley and serve hot.

pastry is golden-brown.



SAT 18 NOV - SAT 23 DEC BELFAST CITY HALL OPENS SAT 18 NOV Mon - Wed: 10am - 8pm Thurs - Sat: 10am - 10pm Sun: 12noon - 6pm Closing on the Sat 23 Dec at 6pm



WHAT’S ON THIS FESTIVE SEASON... SSE Arena, Belfast • • • • •

14-27 Dec 17 – Aladdin Panto 29 Dec – 6 Jan 18 – Winter Skating 29 Dec – 20 Jan 18 – Belfast Giant Mataches 26 \27 Jan 18 – Power Maxed Arenacross Tour 30 \ 31 Jan 18 – Strictly Come Dancing Live

Waterfront Hall \ Ulster Hall, Belfast • • • • •

6 Dec – 7 Jan 18 – Sleeping Beauty Panto 16 Dec – Colin Geddis – General Banter Comdey Club 17 Dec – Cara Dillon – Upon a Winters night 20 Dec – Imelda May 20 Dec - Christmas with the

• • • • • • • • •

Ragdolls 21 Dec – The Coronas 23 Dec – Home alone Movie Night 27 Dec – Flash Harry Celebrating the Magic of Queen 29 Dec – Bagatelle 10 – 13 Jan – Jake O Kane 17 – 18 Jan – John Bishop – Winging It 19 Jan – Greg Davie – You Magnificent Beast 19-20 Jan – Borderland Irish Premiere 30 Jan – 3 feb – Trainspotting Live

• • • • • • •

Culloden Estate \ Europa Hotel – 25 Nov – 30 Dec 17 Winterland Express at W5 25 Nov -23 Dec 17 Hansel and Gretel Panto Mac Theatre 28 Nov -7 Jan 18 Festive Afternoon Tea at the Merchant Hotel – 1 Dec – 1 Jan Peter Pan Panto – The Grand Opera House – 2 Dec – 14 Jan Beauty and the Beat Panto – Lyric Theatre – 6 Dec – 7 Jan It’s a Wonderful Life – Queens Film Theatre – 8 Dec -23 Dec Boxing Day Races – Down Royal Racecourse – 26 Dec



Belfast Christmas Markets -18 Nov -23 Dec Festive Afternoon Teas at the

Dundrum on Ice, Town Centre Dundrum 27th Oct - 27th Jan Wild Lights at Dublin Zoo 3rd

• • • • • •

Nov - 7th Jan Sleeping Beauty, Tivoli Theatre 7th Dec - 14th Jan Winter Funderland, RDS 14 Dec - 14 Jan Polly and the Beanstalk, Olympia Theatre 15th Dec - 7th Jan Imelda May, 3Arena 22nd Dec Holiday World Show, RDS 26th- 28th Jan Erasure, Olympia Theatre 29th31st Jan

L/Derry • • •

Cara Dillon, Millennium Forum 16 Dec Jack and the Beanstalk, Millennium Forum 1st - 31st Dec Dumped Divorcee Support Group, Millennium Forum 29th Jan - 3rd Feb



NEW LIFE COUNSELLING CHRISTMAS TIPS “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”; or so we are pressured to achieve. For some of us it is indeed a wonderful time of being off work, spending time with loved ones, and enjoying the festivities in whatever way we see fit – whether tinsel-tastic or more mulled. However, for many of us the joy of the festivities can be overshadowed by the stress of the season. Expectations loom large. Families can be sources of pain and exclusion rather than love and welcome; work may be more demanding over this period; and the hetero-normative family dominant advertising can inspire more loneliness than cheer. For those of us who are already experiencing some difficulties with our mental health, this time of year with the dark nights and societal expectations of jolliness and extended social interactions can heighten these challenges. There are things we can do to support our own mental health. The PHA’s Take 5 for your emotional wellbeing recommends: Be Active; Connect; Give; Keep Learning and Take Notice. (https://mindingyourhead.info/take-5-steps-wellbeing) •

Taking time to be active, especially getting outdoors, is a real tonic to our mental health. Dressing up warm and getting a good brisk walk by the sea, through a forest or in our local park can brighten our mood as well as our cheeks. Connecting with others helps us not become isolated. Making an effort to talk to others might make their day as well as ours. You can spend time with your ‘family by choice’ if


your own is not where you want to be. And if you don’t have anywhere to go on Christmas Day but would like to, there are several places that offer Christmas Dinners to people who would like to share a meal with others. You may even meet people who are new to Northern Ireland who have never had a Christmas dinner before. (Common Grounds Cafe http://commongrounds.co.uk/christmas-day-2015/; Bengal Brasserie Ormeau Road are offering free Christmas lunch to those alone https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/ news/northern-ireland/ northern-irelandeateries-to-serveup-meals-to-thosehome-alone-thischristmas-36324030.html ) • Taking time to give to others is a boost to our mental health. We are not talking about the obligatory gift to that person who has everything, but maybe giving your time to a local charity, making a donation to your local food-bank or sharing a smile with the person you pass on the way to the bus. Learning is a way to keep our minds active. Read a good book; visit a show, museum or exhibition; meet people from a different background and find out about new places. Take notice. It can be easy to drive from home to work and back without noticing the world around us. Take time to see and notice and see how being mindful of the moment helps enhance our experience of the moment.

Here at New Life Counselling we are a community-based service offering counselling and creative arts therapies to

No matter what your race, colour, creed or sexual identity we’re listening at New Life Counselling. New Life Counselling provides counselling services for children, young people, adults and families. children, young people, adults and families. It may be that you are struggling and could benefit from some professional support. People come to us for a wide range of reasons. Some are experiencing depression and anxiety;

For those of us who are already experiencing some difficulties with our mental health, this time of year with the dark nights and societal expectations of jolliness and extended social interactions can heighten these challenges. others have been bereaved or want to talk through some difficult family relationships; others are having thoughts of life not worth living and are struggling to find ways to cope; others are having difficulties with self-esteem and the confidence to live as fully as they would like. We are able to offer a confidential service that is free at the point of access. You may want support for yourself, or know a friend who you could recommend the service to, or decide with your family that it would be helpful to talk about things together with someone else. You can find out more about our service at www.newlifecounselling.net and can make an online referral through the website.

The service is open to anyone regardless of gender, age (5 yrs +), religion, sexual orientation, ethnic or cultural background. Our facilities in North and East Belfast are also designed to promote disabled access and we are keen to offer more support for those particularly coming from the LGBT community.

• Okay (only kids and youth) • Adult Project • The Family Project • Getting Counselling Our confidential referral forms can be accessed online through our website www. newlifecounselling.net or by contacting our office on 02890391630. New life Counselling is a charitable organisation and our services are provided free of charge to those who are in need, as a charity we do encourage donations and fundraising volunteers

If you are in crisis over the holidays and need to speak to someone urgently you can call Lifeline (0808 808 8000), the Samaritans (116 123) or contact your own healthcare professional.


we would love to see you at our special christmas show! The Christmas show running throughout December at 1pm daily. Candy Show daily at 11am & 3pm. Candy Show £8 per person, Christmas Show £11 per person. This includes an hour long show, free sweets, a quiz, prizes, full candy making show, and everyone will get a present from Santa. Plus meet Willy Wonka’s cousin! This is a magical show from start to finish as we track Santa’s journey from Lapland to Belfast, then disaster strikes as Santa’s sat nav breaks down and he is left circling City Hall! Can he make it? Can Rudolph guide him with the children’s help? All will be revealed on the day!

Contact us aunt sandras, 60 castlereagh road, belfast, bt5 5fp telephone; 028 9073 2868 email: hello@auntsandras.com

Christm as & Cho Sweet hamperscolate mad order e to From £1 5.000 There is no minimum number of people (from 1 to 40) and everyone is welcome! The show is pitched towards 3 years old and right up to the older generations. When booking one to three people please pay in full by card, three plus people £30.00 deposit or pay in full.

To check dates, times or to book telephone 028 9073 2868 check out our great reviews on trip advisor


SCROOGE’S GUIDE TO CHRISTMAS DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS Carol may well have been published back in 1843, but its message of cheer and charity in the heart of winter is still relevant today. It’s a message that Scrooge learns when he’s visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, but maybe there’s something to be said for more of a frugal outlook. Especially if you’re looking to pay off next years summer holiday. With this in mind, here’s our guide to Christmas, inspired by Scrooge a year after the events of his fateful encounter with the spirits of Christmas. He’s a little older, a lot wiser, but he still knows that it’s important to keep an eye on the pennies. Don’t panic! It’s the week before Christmas and unless you’re very well prepared you’re bound to have at least a couple of presents still left to get. At this stage, it’s easy to throw money at the problem. While you may well pick up something expensive, it might not be the most thoughtful present. Instead of just dashing off into town and hoping for the best, you’ll be better off doing a little clever research beforehand. Online search tools are your biggest ally and with a couple of

simple searches you can get a lot of inspiration quickly. Try something along the lines of “perfect gifts for him/her/wife/mum” to get started. Once you’ve found a couple of good ideas, you can then compare prices online. Google’s Shopping search tool is useful, or you can do a quick search around the top ten ranking websites for each gift idea. Check the shop’s availability in your local store and then it’s just a case of turning up and picking it up at the cheapest price available. If you’ve got the time and the skills, another option is to try your hand at making something yourself. Even if it turns out to be a bit of a disaster, it’ll show a whole lot of love, as well as making for a few good laughs on Christmas morning. The perfect Christmas dinner Shopping around and hunting for good quality and value are no-brainers for Christmas dinner. However, if you want to be even more frugal with your spending, you could consider a couple of alternative options. The first is to replace a full-sized turkey with something a little less expensive without the need for quite so much cooking time. Chicken or a gammon are worth considering as they’re a lot more reasonably priced and take a fraction of the time to cook. Throwing

in more veg is also a good way to serve up a big plate without spending a fortune. If you want to go the whole hog you can make this Christmas completely vegetarian. Get out and about Getting all the family out for a Christmas Day walk is a great way to turn everything off in the house and spend some quality time together. Whether it's visiting a friend or relative, or just to work off the spuds and gravy, it’s a good opportunity to spend a little less on your utility bills. Plus, it gets everyone doing something together instead of being glued to the TV for the whole day. Board games, jigsaw puzzles and party games When you get back from the walk, you can keep the no TV Christmas fun going by moving onto a series of board games, jigsaw puzzles and party games. A 1,000 piece white cliffs of Dover epic should keep everyone busy for a couple of hours but let’s face it there is nothing like a family game of monopoly to cause World War 3 on this joyful day. Plan for Christmas 2018 It may sound a bit far-fetched, but there’s plenty you can do over

Christmas to get ready for next year. Collecting pine cones on your walk and decorating them for the tree is a cute way to keep everyone entertained. Equally, you can take advantage of the winter sales to pick up a great looking fake tree. That way you’ll save in the region of £50 a year on the real ones for the rest of your life. If your Scrooge-like outlook digs deep enough you could also save any unwanted presents received and give them to people who might like them next year. The winter clear out Once Christmas is out of the way, you can move on to a winter clear out to generate some cash. Bring together all your unwanted gifts, or anything else that you no longer need, and sell them online. eBay, Gumtree and musicMagpie are all good options to get some cash back from your unwanted items. The whole cathartic process will help you to declutter the house ready for the New Year too. Hopefully, with the money that you save or make from our Scrooge’s guide to Christmas, you’ll have more to either book that dream holiday or have a really good blow out on New Years Eve (even at Christmas it's a good idea to keep your eye on the prize of your next summer holiday!).




TATTOOS! Last time I tried to Mimi and hit those whistle notes I got thrown out of the club and barred for life for breaking glasses. But not with my singing, awkwardly. On a serious note, as I get older I notice how little material things we really desire at Christmas. We want sentiment, kindness and goodwill; we want to be with loved ones and we want to remember it. So, I appealed to the goodwill of my dear friend and the co-owner of Belfast Tattoo Collective, Janine Triskele, imploring her to bring some sentiment back to a sad tattoo so we could demonstrate to the GNI readers the wondrous effect of a skilled artist in covering up that mistake you made at 17 with the stars and the barbed wire in that guy’s kitchen and... well you know the drill - it’s an old tattoo, with no sentiment, nor story, or maybe simply no aesthetic appeal any more, and more than anything you just want it to be something you love. Well, we’ve got you covered on what to do. The tattoo in question resides on the arm of our lovely Gary - Celebrity Editor here at GNI, and all-round sweetheart! Unfortunately, Gary’s favourite Clarins couldn’t cover-up this regretful inking - that’s a talent only a few maintain. Realistically it takes somewhat of an expert eye for a feasible coverup. Sometimes you just can’t cover that blotchy rose with the names of your children/nieces/nephews/pets, Mickey Mouse mowing the lawn, or, a football crest - I think that’s that


game where they fall over and cry a lot - but with the eye of a master you can regenerate it, giving new life to old ink. Or perhaps you’ll even be gifted with a workable new design and attain a whole new piece with such great depth and beauty you’ll forget all about the one beneath it. The latter outcome is however innately more difficult, but thankfully it’s far from impossible. It simply takes some real experience in design, colour correction and knowledge of colour theory, and an ability to mentally overlay both lines and pigment to mask the old ink. Sometimes however it also requires laser tattoo removal, as very dense designs, especially those that are heavy in black ink, are simply too dark to impart new colour. Often times this extra effort and cost can be off-putting. However, having had laser tattoo removal, and knowing it’s benefits and pitfalls I can offer only one piece of advice on this, regarding both the laser and the cover-up you might wish to receive after you’ve lightened your disaster-piece: if you’re going to do it, dear God do it right. Seek a reputable practitioner, with a laser equipped to pigment removal, and be prepared to take your time – you should NOT rush removal. I can personally vouch for the use of a tattoo removal specific laser for best removal of stubborn inks, and having had cheaper and ill-suited laser in the past, one which is also used for hair removal for example, trust me when I tell you that you will want to use the specific one too, for the sake of your skin. I person-

ally have scarring from laser removal done wrong, but don’t let this put you off laser, simply put off bad, cheap and inexperienced laser. A good laser hurts less and has a self directed skin cooling system. A bad laser left me with permanent textured scarring and a new awareness for doing my homework and not being cheap! If you’re lucky though you won’t need laser, but if you do have texture and scarring like me, insider knowledge and skills in producing overlying or disguising texture in ink alone are what differentiates a good coverup from an acceptable one. In this, Janine excels, with a particular talent for working with difficult scar-tissue inkings, which are so often massively uneven in pigment and depth and are so often the cover-ups that clients are truly desperate to have done and done properly once and for all. Having tattooed nipples for those who’ve had full mastectomies, to covering horrendous burns and grafts, she’s built up a bank of experience for tackling any coverup. Take a look at the before picture of the tattoo on Our Gar’s arm while I run you through the cover-up process. Dua Lipa’s New Rules to Cover-Ups: (Is that reference still relevant?) Rule One: Research: Start by looking for designs you like. Try Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Deviantart. You can look at tattoos specifically, but be aware that most artists will dislike or outright refuse to copy the work of others whether it fine art or another tattoo. If that happens, and you’re still enam-

oured with the rejected design you can seek permission from the artist if they are very far away, or work in a different medium, but otherwise you will have to use the piece for reference and the idea rather than seeking a complete replica. Furthermore, for 99.99% of cover-ups a bespoke design will be required anyway. Your best bet is to go with more vague concepts of design such as florals, portraiture, geometry, etc. Keep it refined and keep it to two or three main design elements within an overall theme. For Gary, we started with the Eye of Horus which partially comprised his original tattoo, and decided on an Egyptian/Oriental theme. From there you find an artist. Again, you can use social media best to do this. Use location filters, hashtags of your city + relevant tattoo terms, and explore pages to find artists near you. You can also look for nationwide conventions and competitions to find out about artists and potentially see them working if you’re willing to wait for it to roll around. As an example, if you want find Belfast Tattoo Collective on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, their handle is @BelfastTattooCollective and from there you can peruse their online portfolio of work. Slide into the DM’s, or call the shop on 028 9031 0011, quoting “GNI17” for 20% off your first hour – You’re welcome!*). The studio will arrange a free consultation regarding your old-soon-tobe-new-tattoo and discuss anything you’ve already researched. I did Gary’s research for him, which isn’t a new thing being the baby at

FEATURE__ TATTOOS GNI, but I did it well; tattooing for 23 years, which is almost as long as I’ve been strutting around this planet, Janine Triskele has honed her skills in tattooing with a particular brand of stylised, yet organic, pieces. She’d tell you herself about the old days and the hustle artists had to go through, especially women, but I’ve always had a feeling she downplayed just how much grit it took to be a woman in a very male-dominant and often outright sexist community of artists. Some things have progressed, sure, but I have the utmost respect for any woman to take on misogynistic men and quietly match or outrank them with talent, skill and humility – I appreciate Janine’s beautiful work often, but I respect her always. It’s something key in building a trusting relationship with your tattoo artist. So to my second piece of advice for research, find someone you trust, respect and are willing to actually pay for their skill and talent without trying your luck at a bargain. If you don’t ask your hairdresser for money off, don’t ask a tattoo artist. If you do ask your

hairdresser for money off, I’m probably laughing at your haircut. Just sayin’ Rule two: First contact: You might like their work, but you don’t have to sit for an asshole. Likewise don’t be one. Don’t barter, complain about distance or ask them to do it faster. Don’t even think about suggesting bringing your own inks, or essentially take the piss. It’ll compromise their work and your relationship with someone who’s fixing your mistake in the first place. Be on time, bring your references and if you don’t gel, go back to research. Hopefully you do gel however, and luckily Gary and Janine did. Unfortunately the initial design theme didn’t, but years of experience and a vague sixth sense of what people like lead Janine to suggest Gary go for another one of his ideas on a bigger scale and get a beautiful double lotus. The style, curves and an expert use of colour would reconfigure and disguise the heavy black of the original piece. So Gary got to booking his first session, which brings me to the next rule. Rule three: Breakfast!: In the words of a great Nebraskan tattoo artist, “Eat

your Wheaties!” Or in my own words, take this opportunity to shamelessly carb load for breakfast and lunch – cool as it is, tattooing is still trauma to your body and over time your blood sugars will plummet. Gary experienced this himself despite the Haribo and can attest to it making your session less pleasant than it needs to be. So eat before you come, and bring sugary snacks and drinks if you’re having an extended session. While you’re still at home and finished eating… Rule four: Body Prep: Shower. Seriously. Just have consideration for your artist. Wear anti-perspirant, preferably one that isn’t overpoweringly screaming of gender-binary based marketing, and if you’re particularly hairy in the area to be tattooed, shave that area down. Rule five: Go: Get your tattoo – and try your best not to kick anyone in the face. If you’re going to ask THAT question - it’s not unbearable, and a bit like sun burn. Rule six: It puts the lotion on it’s skin: Finally make sure to follow your after care regime! Gar used Palmer’s

Cocoa Butter for his piece, but every artist and every tattooée has their own preference and advice. Basically, don’t let it dry up, don’t touch it too much and don’t pick! Take a look at Gary’s finished piece and see for yourselves the transformative effect it can have; the before and after pictures speak for themselves. And rumour has it round the office that Gary is very happy but suffered terribly for his new work. The reality is that he sat like a champ and in return had new life breathed into his old ink by someone who loves, respects and knows their craft. This tattoo is for life this time, and not just in time for Christmas. WORDS: Cliff Carter P.S. Rule Seven: Tip. A tip goes a long way. Trust us *See Belfast Tattoo Collective’s pinned Facebook post for full terms and conditions of this offer. Same handle as business name!
















The Tea Room in Finaghy is already becoming a firm favourite.

The Tea Room opened at the Finaghy Crossroads at the end of October and since then it’s been buzzing. A welcome offering to all and convenient to both South and West Belfast. Created and opened by a family team; siblings Tony and Rika who work under the matriorartic eye of their “auntie Cilla”. Interanally the decor is calm and relaxing with a hint of old world charm - just what you want from your modern tea room. It mixes upcycled chairs with new purpose built seating, even some of the new furniture is made from recycled building materials; the breakfast bar from scaffolding boards and the front of the serving bar from old dismantled pallets. They wanted to create an environment where people could throw off their coats and just feel at home. Indeed, pride of position on the wall is a gilded framed picture of the Golden Girls - surely they were the queens of tea and cake. The food and drink offering ensures there’s something to everyones taste. The tea is locally sourced loose leaf Suki Tea, and the coffee is local Robt. Roberts. Each day Auntie Cilla gets to work on the food, starting with baking fresh scones, traybakes, cakes and treats. She also prepares fresh stew and soup as well as a daily hot food speciality. Their menu also offers


everything you’d expect; sandwiches, toasties, paninis, baked potatos, as well as an excellent breakfast selection. Locals and regulars are loving the budget friendly afternoon tea too (pictured above), costing onyl £5.95 this is a belly busting treat for anyone. Opening seven days a week, The Tea Room in Finaghy is there whether you want breakfast, lunch, a bit of dinner, or a cuppa and a chat with your mate about the state of your love life. Monday and Tuesday open from 8.30am til 6pm, Wednesday to Friday open from 8.30am til 9pm, and Saturday and Sunday open from 9.00am til 4pm. They also cater for private tea parties, offering the option of either booking out THE NOOK which can seat up to 8, or offering the whole place which can hold up to 20 for a completely private party. So, pop in on one of these cold winter days or nights for a nice cuppa tea or coffee and sample some of the fresh home-cooked food and treats on offer.

creating memories Environmental lifetsyle shoots that tell your story the way you live it. 07921 239279 | insta/FB @epicjournalphotography


Keeping Jack Frost at bay. We just throw on another layer of clothing when going out in the cold, but what if it’s cold inside? WE ALL KNOW THAT ONE person who is always, and i mean always, cold. In work they sit in a hat, gloves, jumper and coat on, and they’re always warming their bum on the radiator. And then there’s those other people who when you go to visit them at home, their house is baltic. You don’t want to seem rude but your body involuntarily starts to shiver and your teeth chatter. Well we had a look about for some handy tips to keeping warm inside the house this winter. CHECK YOUR CENTRAL HEATING Now this sounds like an obvious one, but before the big freeze sets in get a professional to have a look at your central heating or get it serviced. Whether you have gas, oil, coal, or even electric central heating - it takes them to be finely tuned to have them working right. There are pressures that should be at the right level, pipes and openings that need to be clean and clear, and then don’t forget to check your radiators - if they’re only hot half way up maybe you need them bled. Remember your central heating system shouldn’t be tinkeled with by you, there’s a reason the professionals can charge what they do - because they know how to keep you warm and keep your system working safey too.


DRAFTS Don’t be sitting by that door which seems to have a gale blowing through it, there are cheap ways to fix it. Simplest solution to a draft at the bottom of your door is a simple draft excluder - you know the type, those big long sausage dog type - ten out of ten for kitch value. If your windows are a bit drafty and you can’t afford repairs or replacements just remember to pull the curtains - that’ll hold back some of the cold. USE THE RIGHT FUEL IN YOUR FIRE I know I’m guilty of just firing whatever comes to hand into my fire or burner. But stop. Don’t. Not only could it potentially be unsafe (you don’t know what gasses are being ommitted), by doing this you’re probably not achieving the maximum output from your device. THROWS AND BLANKETS Pretend you’re at your granny’s house and invest in a couple of nice throws or blankets for over the end of your sofa. You’ll love them so much that they’ll probably end up becomming a permanent fixture in your living room.


The Personal Touch


Personal Touch TheThe Personal Touch

5-7 Place, Boucher Belfast, Antrim, 5-7 Glenmachan Place, Boucher Road, Belfast, Co.Co. Antrim, BT12BT12 6QH 6QH 5-7 Glenmachan Glenmachan Place, Boucher Road,Road, Belfast, Co. Antrim, BT12 6QH Tel: 028 9023 0433 | www.carlanto.com Tel: 028 9023 0433 | www.carlanto.com Tel: 028 9023 0433 | www.carlanto.com


BULL & RAM LOCATED IN THE QUEEN’S QUARTER of Belfast, Bull & Ram restaurant is one of the must-go places to eat in Belfast. The exterior and interior of the restaurant has been kept faithful to the original design of the building, with many original features such as blackout shutters and fireplaces still in situ. Overall the dimmed lighting and subtle but effective soundtrack being played allows for a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere, suitable for a group of friends sharing a meal, or the romantic couple looking for the traditional, and yet unique candlelight supper. The Bull & Ram specialises in steak, oysters and cocktails. The menu is very well thought out, with a good varied selection of non-traditional meals, and the specials even included specialty beers from the local area which I thought was an excellent touch. I even tried one to see and it was definitely worthy of a specials list, so much so it made my Christmas list this year! The main menu itself was a little large for my liking, approx. A3 in size, hard to hold or place down, I would of much preferred a smaller 2 sided menu or a folding menu. In hindsight this isn’t overly important after all I’m here to eat the food and not the menu lol. If you’re looking for a bog standard pub grub you’re definitely in the wrong place. Starters included items such as Pheasant, Sea Trout and crème fraiche, and whilst coming across as a little more upmarket, the prices for starters were very reasonable. I decided to try the Oysters Rockefeller, not many places serve such delicacies so when in Rome anol that. I must admit I was slightly nervous, many moons ago I sampled raw Oysters and they definitely were not my cuppa tea, though I am now converted, they Chef cooked them to perfection. My guest opted for the Beef Dripping candle, this was literally a candle made from beef, such a novelty idea and tasted great. As the candle melted the dripping was collected in a tray then you could dunk in the breads to mop it up. I’m glad I tried it, a very interesting, old-fashioned concept. The piece-de-resistance was the steak. The menu had a wide selection of cuts and styles. All steaks are sourced from Northern Ireland by Hannan Meats, County Down. Glenarm Shorthorn beef was also featured on the Menu, those not familiar they are Great Taste Award Supreme Champion & dual-gold award winner at World Steak Challenge. The Menu also offered options for sharing with a pretty fair pricing range we decided to go with the Sharing Option which was served with a choice of sides and sauces. The meat was sumptuous and delicate; I have heard the phrase ‘melt in the mouth’ before, but this was the first time I’d actually witnessed it. The flavours bounce around the mouth like a 4-year-old on a bouncy castle, and the accompanying sauce and sides complimented the steak exceptionally well. Bull & Ram does hold one secret. The cocktail menu. We had heard that there was a special cocktail menu which was only available on request, this came in the form of hidden pages within a book. Thought this was a great quirky idea. All the cocktails were named with the buildings history in mind, I won’t spoil the names for you though will say I sampled a cheeky Gin number made using Tanqueray, Orange Curacao, Lemon and Raspberry, it was delicious All in all the Bull & Ram was a thoroughly enjoyable new restaurant which we highly recommend and will most certainly be back too. Thanks to the Chef, Management and staff for a lovely evening. Bull & Ram - 44 University Road, Belfast, BT7 1NJ T: 02890 312 229 |E: info@bullandram.com



THE CLOTH EAR HEADING INTO THE WELCOMING ATMOSPHERE at the Cloth Ear over lunchtime I was immediately overwhelmed with the feeling of Christmas and Festivity, the restaurant was decorated beautifully and classic festive tunes filled the air. As we were seated you could tell they really thought about the finer details as our table was laid with Christmas crackers that were screaming to be cracked, such a lovely touch. Ok so everyone loves a good old traditional Christmas Lunch though we both made a conscious decision to step away from the norm and sample the other delights on offer. To start I ordered the Split pea, lentil and vegetable soup with breads, nothing beats a hearty Soup on a cold winter’s day, and it was simply lovely. My guest went for the smoked chicken salad with beetroot tapenade and roasted walnuts which she described as “pure home comfort food on a plate, exactly the right size and got my belly rumbling in anticipation for my main” With it being lunch unforunately my guest was limited to time, I explained this prior to arrival to ensure a swift service and boy where the Chef and servers on the ball, once our starter plates were cleared our mains were literally with us within 2-3 minutes

My guest ordered the wild mushroom risotto with spinach, thyme, chestnut and parmesan. “I adore risotto in particular mushroom with pesto but this concoction placed me very much in the spirit of Christmas even though I didn't opt to go with the traditional Turkey and Ham option (as I am watching the old waistline on the run up to the Big Day). However, I can thoroughly recommend the risotto as great eat Christmas substitute that did not disappoint in both taste and presentation.” For me the choice had to be the Chargrilled Ribeye, I probably should be taking the lead from my guest and watching the old waist line though it’s Christmas if you can’t indulge now when can you, right? The meat was cooked to absolute perfect, just as I requested (Medium all the way) served with Shallot purée, slow roast tomato, pepper sauce and mash, everything worked perfectly, I was so glad of the changes from the usual peas and mushrooms. I highly recommend! The Final attraction was the very festive desserts, with a choice between Christmas pudding, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Mince Pie Cheesecake and an Irish Cheese Board on offer. My guest couldn’t resist the sound of the Mince Pie cheesecake “by the time the dessert was presented to me the old waistline was stretching

out like Santa but I always manage room for a good pudding, the buttery biscuit base and creamy mince pie filling was Heaven on a plate and absolutely too scrumptious to turn down”. For me the devil is always the Sticky Toffee Pudding, if I’m dining out and it is on the menu weather I am stuffed or not I simply cannot resist temptation. I must say for me this was definitely a 10/10, Rich, Warm and comforting, the Caramel sauce was to die for and vanilla ice cream was silky smooth. Christmas Menu runs throughout December, with a choice of 2 Menus, All day and a Set Menu also not to forget there are great options available for Vegetarians and Vegans alike. We thoroughly enjoyed our Christmas luncheon at Belfast's very own Cloth Ear and will definitely sneak back on the run up to Christmas for seconds. Naughty but incredibly nice!!! . Thanks for the hospitably from the Management, Staff and Chef. The Cloth Ear, 38 Waring Street, Belfast BT1 2DZ. Tel 028 9026 2719 . www.themerchanthotel.com/barsrestaurants/the-cloth-ear



Essential Grooming Tips for Men Daniel lets us know his own tips and tricks to looking and feeling good. However much you protest, it cannot be denied that people instantly judge you based on how you look. You could be a successful professional raking in the moolah and having recently acquired a swanky car, but if you are dressed shabbily with food stains on your clothes and with two days’ growth of stubble on your face, then you will be judged accordingly. We’re here to make sure that never happens to you! Read on and get a grip on how to make a great first impression. Sticking to basics - A healthy body does it for you. If you take care of your body, it’s half the job already done when it comes to making a good impression. Eat regular and balanced meals and get your share of physical exercise. Smoke and drink only occasionally if at all, hard... we know!! Cultivating habits like this will go a long way in making you a person with a significant presence and who is sure to make a lasting first impression. Pamper your skin - To ensure that your skin is glowing and that you look fresh, do what the doctor ordered. Make sure you drink at least two liters of water a day. If possible drink at least a Pint of water in the morning. It takes a getting used to but does wonders for your complexion. Get enough sleep so that you don’t have puffy eyes, and also moisturize regularly to keep your skin nourished (Try L’oreal Hydra). Before stepping out, always check your face to make sure you don’t have any smudges of dirt on it, or any stray hair growing or crust in your eyes. This just takes you a few seconds and it will surely add to your look. Close shave - Shave regularly to look your best. If


you sport a beard or a moustache or a French beard, then make sure it is trimmed neatly and has no stray hairs sticking out in multiple directions. Also make sure that you shave in the same direction as the growth of the hair, and that you soften your facial hair before shaving it. This will ensure that there aren’t ingrowths and also reduce the possibilities of getting nicked while shaving. Grooming lessons - Get in the shower. The basic step to staying clean and smelling good even without any aftershave. This is a step you are not allowed to miss because it’s as simple as water, shower and towel. So whether you’ve just come back from the gym, woken up, or are going for a party - shower! Keep your hands clean - Everyone notices nice hands and hands play a make-or-break role in business meetings because of the importance of a handshake. Cut and file your nails regularly and also make sure that they don’t have any residue of food or dirt stuck in them. Keep a nail clipper, file and other items you might need in the shower so that you can save time needed to do this. Wash your hands frequently and especially after a meal because smelly and sweaty hands are the biggest turn off. Also use a bit of hand lotion on them to prevent your hands resembling tough hide. Don’t be shaggy - Since hair grows regularly, you have to always keep a check on when your ear, nose, chest hair needs a trim. It’s best to trim hair from these parts at least once a week. Also shampoo and condition your hair every day. Of course if you have long hair, maybe alternate days would be fine, but never let your hair look greasy and straggly.

Clothes & more - Sense of style. Clothes that fit well, and which are clean, neatly ironed and smell good are very important. Don’t recycle clothes that have been chucked into your laundry basket because you have run out of clean, ironed clothes. You won’t fool anyone with that trick! The fit also is very important to looking good. It’s no use wearing expensive shirts and branded trousers if you’ve got the fit wrong. People will only notice that your clothes are hanging on you or alternatively, are too tight for you. Shiny shoes - Men are judged by their shoes. If you don’t know this yet, you’ve obviously no idea about the typical standards used to judge men. If you are wearing formal shoes, make sure they’re not scuffed and dirty. They should be polished and shiny. Casual shoes should also be clean and avoid tattered shoes at all costs! Smell good - Don’t go overboard and douse yourself with strong smelling perfume, after using strong smelling toiletries, but pick one cologne and stick with it. Don’t use different smelling soaps, lotions and then apply cologne because the scents could mix badly resulting in a weird smelling mish-mash on you. Don’t ever go cheap when buying perfume. Not only might it react badly with your skin, but also it can never smell as good as the original. Also, never ever try to disguise body odor with cologne. It’s the worst thing you could possibly do! Have a shower instead Ok that should be you geared up to go get emm, happy hunting this xmas and new year



509-511 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7EZ info@martinacollins.com




ANTHONY COOLEY WHAT SORT OF ART DO YOU CREATE? I mostly create illustrative pieces with a whimsical type feel. I’ve always enjoyed fantasy based books and movies growing up and as a result they have heavily influenced the type of work I do today. Currently the types of projects I am working on involve personalised portrait pieces as commissions and conceptual art. I have also just recently finished my first children’s book titled, “ Who lives on the moon? ” which I have just had published and is available to purchase now online and in Belfast City centre. HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO THIS, WAS IT A JOURNEY THROUGH DIFFERENT CREATIVE INDUSTRIES? I have been drawing for as long as I remember, the earliest memory being one of my first days at school (around age 4) when I first drew a tree and the other kids in the class being amazed at how well I did it even though it probably looked awful haha. Through the years, Art was really the only subject I was interested in and the one I put most of my time into. I graduated in 2008 with a 1st class honours in graphic design but knew that illustration was what I enjoyed most as opposed to designing websites. It was at this time I decided I wanted to go freelance where i could pick and choose my own projects while developing my skills along the way. For the past 10 years I have done a wide range of different projects for lots of clients. This includes character designs, animations, wedding invites, greeting cards, book design… you name it, I’ve most likely done it! One of my proudest moments was a few years back when I had one of my pieces auctioned off in LA at Peta’s annual anniversary gala where my work fetched over 1000 dollars at auction. Its crazy to think that there is a celebrity out there with my work hanging on their wall! WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY CREATING? Without a doubt, the thing that brings me most joy in creating is children’s books! I am always coming up with new characters and stories and love turning these ideas into books. It’s something i have been doing for quite a number of years and it’s not the first time I have tried to get a book published. For anyone that knows, it is one of the toughest and most competitive markets to break into with publishing and I have faced hundreds of rejection letters to get to this point. I was nearly ready to throw in the towel when at just the right time my book, “ Who lives on the moon?” fell into the right hands. Thanks to this stroke of luck the book is now out there and so far the response has been amazing! It is definitely a very proud moment in my career and it is truly humbling knowing that little kids and parents alike are getting to read what i have created. WHAT ARE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS? For anyone interested in getting their copy of the book in time for Christmas (ages 2+) they can visit the official facebook page or instagram page for more info. The book is also available to purchase online for only £5 via Etsy and it is available in “ WrappedUp: Belfast” upstairs Castlecourt where you can pick up a signed copy. Facebook link: facebook.com/wholivesonthemoon Instagram link: @wholivesonthemoonbook Etsyshop: search “anthonycooleyshop” Ibooks: search “ Who lives on the moon?” to download onto iphone/ipad.





winter experience

BARCELONA FIRSTLY BARCELONA IS UNDER TWO hour’s flight from Belfast and is well served during the summer and winter from Belfast or Dublin Airports. For this four night city break my partner and I choose to fly direct to Barcelona with low-cost carrier Easyjet and we booked into the LGBT Axel Hotel right in the heart of the city. My partner and I had been attracted to Barcelona for many reasons but mainly due to the LGBT offerings and the opportunities to experience the mix of city and beach. At the time of writing Barcelona was wanting to actually separate from Spain but I will not bore you with any of that and leave someone else to explain that. All I will say is that we experienced no trouble or hold ups during our five day break. Now in 2017 the historic city of Barcelona offers a vast array of accommodation choices for all budgets from simple clean affordable hostels to pure luxury 5 star retreats or even home swaps. For us we opted for The Axel Hotel which falls into the boutique category and is very much aimed at the LGBT market and in fact even states that they are a hetro friendly hotel chain. The Axel Hotel brand is today offered in many of the LGBT friendly destinations including Ibiza and Gran Canaria. From the minute we arrived outside the fantastic gothic building we knew we were going to really love the city. As we walked through the glass neon lit entrance to the reception we were greeted by this gorgeous and I mean gorgeous young muscle man called John. Now I must admit John did say a few thing to the both of us during our check in time but we both never heard a word he said for well let’s say obvious reason and before we knew it we had are hotel key card in hand and where in a lift en-route to the 7th floor. The room was all set up with a welcome bottle of champagne and card with advice of where to go for local drinks, shows and places to relax and enjoy the local LGBT scene. Now we must admit we had dome some research online prior to our visit and


had decided that we wanted to experience as much of the scene as possible during our visit. The hotel itself has many unique parts to it including the roof top pool and sky lounge as well as the Axel Hotel Resort & Spa for fitness, treatments and all men’s sauna but more on that later. Barcelona is split up into easy blocks to walk and so I would highly recommend that you put on your walking shoes and just head out the door and explore. Everything really is on your doorstep from the Axel Hotel with some amazing retail brands, restaurants, gay bars and Saunas just a few minutes from the hotels entrance. Las Rambles is the main areas that my partner and I spent time in and I have to say that I had not expected the city to be as busy as it was at this time of year but the sky was clear blue the sun was shining and the day time temperature regularly passed 25degrees during our stay. As we walked through the cobbled streets we stopped on and off at various local bars and cafes to experience some local tapas which is a must during your stay. It is very clear that the motto in this city is to eat small but often and to enjoy the excellent wine to wash it all down with. A word of warning though red wine is good for the soul but too many bottles can and will hinder your walking distances in the baking sunshine. Barcelona is unique though because if you do manage to walk the full length of Las Rambles you are rewarded by the stunning sea views and the beach is not too far either. The city offers so much for the tourist and I would highly recommend taking one of the local boat trips around the coast which can be arranged at the marina. Barcelona also has a fantastic cable car which crosses the city from the marina up to the mountains in the east. This offers you some of the best scenery in the world and light relief from the hot sun. My advice is to book at least one daily experience and then build your day or evening around that.


Like the rest of Spain Siesta is a major things and so the afternoon it’s always time to chill out and enjoy good food and drinks and then to get yourself all prepared for the evenings activities. Heading out for a night out is very simple and like I said the Axel Hotel is in the heart of the gay scene meaning you have plenty of bar choices to get yourself into the swing of things. My partner and I particularly enjoyed trying out multiple gay bars each night followed by a wind down and fun at various saunas in the city. We particularly enjoyed the Bacon Bear Bar and met some fantastic people during our stay. Now this is a bar which is not for everyone but it made our trip and we would highly recommend it. Going back to our wonderful all male hotel reception staff they suggested we book a gay night tour which is operated by a local travel agent/ tour guide and it will introduce to everything that is gay in the city from bars, restaurants, saunas clubs etc. for a fee but it is well worth it for meeting people and future nights activities. My grinder, Hornet and Scruff apps went mad day in and day out whether it was locals looking some good old fun or to meet up for drinks and more. Later I would say switch them all on, be honest open and upfront about what you are and what you’re looking. We both found the apps to provide some excellent meets as well as chat from locals about where to go and when (othing like a local’s knowledge to make your stay more enjoyable). The Axel Hotel Resort & Spa offers massage and my partner and I booked couples massage one afternoon to assist with the hangovers and more and well together we were not let down. Two stunning muscle local men rubbed the two off us side by side for over an hour helping us reload so to speak for more fun later that evening. Barcelona offers so much more than gay bars and saunas and I would suggest you take the opportunity to go and visit the Olympic Park or take the tour, head to the

many museums and stroll down to the Gothic Quarter and just take in the amazing architecture and history of the city you are in. The fantastical Sagrada Familia which they say that is never finished really is a marvel and left us both in aye of the construction teams. Regardless of the sort of traveller you are or think you are Barcelona and its people will offer you so much more and then some. We definatly did not manage to see the entire city but walked the socks off ourselves and enjoyed all that the LGBT nightlife would give us. Top Tips to make your Trip to Barcelona Better. • Easyjet 100% Book speedy boarding it makes life easier. • Don’t book a bag you won’t need much clothing. • Buy the Local Torres wine it is fantastic and not expensive. • Pre-book transfers with Barcelona Welcome Transfers. • Stay at the Axel Hotel Resort & Spa. • Book a night gay night tour of the city. • Enjoy the LGBT Bars but head out from 11pm. • Make use of the Gay Sauna pass. • Lastly be safe.

WORDS: Gavyn Andrews






LOVE__ MALMAISON COMPETITION Recently GNI Mag joined forces with Malmaison Hotel Belfast to offer one lucky couple an intimate wedding within the hotel. Those not familiar the Malmaison hotel here in Belfast it has 62 rooms and suites that combine the city's amazing history with the funkiest contemporary style. The hotel puts you on the doorstep of one the world's greatest maritime ports, a few minutes away from Victoria shopping centre and Titanic Quarter, and a stone's throw from the smartest bars and clubs in the city. You can enjoy some of the coolest cocktails, scrumptious champagne or a drop 'o the black stuff in our striking black-and-silver Malbar before moving on to dinner with a difference in our Brasserie. Their private dining room gives you a very special setting ideal for an intimate wedding reception, comfortably seating up to 30 guests. Pictured with Daniel May GNI’s Operations & Development Manager is Lydia Smith. Lydia said “We are so excited to have teamed up with GNI to offer one of their friends/followers the opportunity to celebrate their Wedding/Civil Partnership at the Malmaison". Speaking to Daniel he explained "we are so thankful for the Malmaison to offer this fantastic prize, he continued in early September we ran a social media competition across Facebook & Twitter, which reached over 12,000. The completion closed and from all the entries 5 were selected at random and invited to a private function within the Malmaison last Friday. This gave everyone the opportunity the see the beautiful function room. Gemma Mallon, Richard Mac Oda, Padraig Lynch, Damian Carlin and Clare Louise McGarland were all in attendance with their partners. Everyone enjoyed a few glasses of bubbly and canapés while eagerly awaiting the all-important draw to see who would win the fantastic prize, think i pinched about 5 of the prawns, they were delicious. Ok so the moment of truth, all the names were put into a hat and the winner was drawn by Lydia. Drum roll please.............. Padraig & Damian, were announced, I have never seen a happier or more grateful couple The whole affair was short and sweet, all the guests had an lovely day out, 2 of the couples even decided to stay the night at the hotel. Daniel concluded "Congratulations again to all 5 couples and a massive thanks to the Malmaison for being so accommodating”.


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GNI MAG Weddings

Jacek and Andrew married on 29th June 2017 in Hugh McCanns, Newcastle. This is their story...

JACEK & ANDREW MADINE-GRUSZKA MARRIED 29TH JUNE 2017 IN HUGH MCCANNS NEWCASTLE TELL US HOW YOU MET, WERE YOU SINGLE FOR LONG BEFORE YOU STARTED DATING? We met when we were both on a night out in belfast with friends in April 2016. We had both been single for about eight months. We had been through a lot and it was now time to meet the one to spend our lives together. That spark was there straight away and we have hardly been apart since. HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DATING DID IT TAKE TO POP THE QUESTION? We first discussed getting married on our first holiday together in Turkey about four months after we met, we had an amazing time. We bought rings on holiday but kept it all under wraps until a month later on my (Andrew) birthday on 1st October. TELL US ABOUT YOUR BIG DAY Our Big Day was 29th June 2017. After checking out a few places and looking at our options we decided on Hugh McCanns as our dream venue, oh boy it didn’t disappoint. On the day, Jacek left from his sisters house in Belfast surrounded by his family and friends to help him prepare for the big day. Andrew spent the night before in his



Jacek and Andrew

parents home and made his way to Newcastle. It was a wet day but it wasn’t going to dampen our spirits. Andrew arrived first and was lovingly welcomed onto the red carpet by the very attentative staff of Hugh McCanns. Cacek was a little late due to the bad weather and everyone was whispering and wondering had he changed his mind lol. While all the guests, Fifi (our dog) and I were waiting Jacek decided he needed a wee glass of fizz to calm his nerves. Finally nearly an hour late Jacek and Olly (our dog) strolled down the aisle. The service was short and sweet but beautiful with all our guests present and beside us our two best men, two best women and our groomsman. Afterwards, us and our guests were invited to the Loft Suite for tea and biscuits and a wee tipple. With help from Hugh McCanns we had the room beautifully decorated ready to greet our guests. The food was amazing and the drink was flowing. The service was excellent, the staff were brilliant, 120 guests fed and watered with ease, no complaints could be made - 10 out of 10! We then made our way downstairs to the coast suite for our evening reception where we welcomed more evening guests. We were blown away with the turnout - we had about another 100 evening guests. Hugh McCanns were so good they brought all our decorations from the Loft Suite and had the place looking amazing. We wowed our guests with our


GNI MAG WEDDINGS__ Jacek and Andrew

first dance to the song “Stars” by Roxette. Although this was nerve wrecking, with the help from our wedding party and a couple of sneaky wee shots we got through it and thoroughly enjoyed it. This song shows a journey through life, love and marriage and spending the rest of our lives together, check out the video. We then invited our guests to jooin us on the dance floor for our second song ‘Nena & Kim Wilde: Anyplace, anywhere, anytime’. We chose this song as we are both from different countries; Jacek being from Poland and Andrew from Northern Ireland - and it’s basically saying we are no different. We danced into the small hours with a wide variety of Polish, European, and worldwide music played by Island Events. DID YOU HAVE A HONEYMOON? We spent two amazing weeks in Poland, one week meeting Jaceks family as some couldn’t make it for the big day. We had an amazing time with the family it was like a second celebration of our big day. Then we had our real honeymoon together in Krakow. What a beautiufl city and it was amazing to spend this time just the two of us exploring this beautiful place. This experience is pushing me (Andrew) to learn more Polish as it is important for me to be able to communicate with my new family.


ARE YOU INTO THE SAME THINGS? WHAT INTERESTS DO YOU HAVE THAT ARE DIFFERENT? We are pretty much into the same things. Before we met I (Andrew) was interested in joining the gym which Jacek had already found a love for. We now enjoy the gym together. Jacek loves his tattos and I always wanted on and now we have that tattoo. We enjoy going to the cinema together and eating out. We particularily like curling up on the sofa enjoying a glass of wine and some TV. We like to take the dogs for a walk, and we also take great pride in our home. DO YOU DO EVERYTHING TOGRTHER OR DO YOU LIKE TO KEEP INDEPENDENT? We very much enjoy each others company and like to do everything together.


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At Deanes we will tailor your wedding celebration to suit your taste and budget. We offer FREE ROOM HIRE and Wedding Menu prices start at £35 per person. Whether in the sumptuous surroundings of the Private Room and Bar at Deanes, Howard Street or in leafy South Belfast where Deanes at Queens boasts a pretty south facing terrace adjacent to Botanic Gardens – every aspect of your celebration will be looked after by our award winning staff with their renowned flair for perfection. All Deanes Restaurants can be privately hired. Suitable for 60-140 guests

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COMING OUT Mark Bowman, 31 year old musician from London tells us his story.

I was heartbroken when I had to say goodbye to him, and I couldn’t keep this burning secret about who I was... WHEN DID YOU FIRST REALISE YOU WERE ATTRACTED TO SAME SEX PEOPLE? I’ve always known I was attracted to the same sex, I would say as early as around 5 or 6. DID YOU TELL ANYONE AT THE TIME? At that age, I didn’t think It was abnormal. However, it wasn’t until you grow older, and you soon realise that society pushes you to be “normal”. I soon realised that I couldn’t be myself, in fear of rejection. WHEN DID YOU ACTUALLY COME OUT? Believe it or not, I didn’t come out until I was 20, and had completed my first year at uni. WHO PROMPTED YOU TO DO IT? My friend Carrie introduced me to one of their friends, Bobby, who was gay. I was in lust with him instantly and I was still ‘playing it straight’. We started to see each other without my parents knowing. I’d never experienced feelings like it, this was what most people experienced at the age of 13. Those butterfly feelings, not being able to stop thinking about your crush etc. I was very attracted to him and had developed feelings very quickly, even though I was trying to be the big man and just see it as “exploring’. Me and Bobby lasted for a few months I’d say. It wasn’t very long in hindsight. Both Carrie & Bobby were based three hours away from where I was studying at Uni. Therefore, it wasn’t going to work. I was heartbroken when I had to say goodbye to him, and I couldn’t keep this burning secret about who I was hidden much longer. Carrie and her family knew already, they were brilliant and so supportive, however, I needed to tell my mum, as she was so worried about me. I couldn’t have done it without Carrie and her family. HOW DID YOU DO IT? I was supposed to go back to Uni the day after I said

goodbye to Bobby. However, I decided to stay home for the week and wait for my mum to finish work. I couldn’t just drop a bomb shell like this and be like “I’m off back to Uni now, oh by the way I’m Gay, Love You, Bye!” WHAT WAS THE REACTION OF YOUR FAMILY AND CLOSE FRIENDS? My mum didn’t know what to think at first, she was in shock, as I had quite a few girlfriends. It did take her a while to get her head around it, but she just wanted me to be happy. My dad was quiet at first, but like my mum, he just wanted me to feel better and be happy. I confided in Carrie and her family first, as Pearl (Carrie’s Mum), worked as a Diversity Officer in the public sector. Carrie, Pearl and her husband Ethan were there supporting and guiding me when I decided to tell my family. My Nan god bless her, thought that it was a “phase” but she loved me no matter what. ANY NEGATIVE REACTIONS? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THESE? I’ve been very lucky actually. I’ve never been subject to any homophobic comments or hate crime. However, I cannot imagine having to deal with those closest to you giving you an even more of a hard time. For years, you battle with yourself whether or not you should do it, or even whether you should try and ride it out, hoping the gay thoughts will disappear! Just remember that if a loved one confides in you, they’ve been brave and courageous to trust you with probably their biggest and most important secret. Don’t throw it back in their face. HOW HAS COMING OUT AFFECTED YOU? I can’t say it’s affected me, as I am ok with my sexuality. I wasn’t before I came out, because unfortunately the school I went to drummed it into you that “Homosexuality” is a sin during Religious

Education classes. It can damage your self esteem, and it’s important that you do everything you can to repair that, and tell yourself that you matter and are worthwhile. However, I’m perfectly ok with the fact I’m Gay. If anyone isn’t then I don’t even invite them into my life to give an opinion. I get sad sometimes, because I lost my mum at 21. So I felt like I never got to really experience taking someone home to her that meant the world to me. There are times that I want to ask her questions about my personality as a child. However, I’ve got my dad, my Aunt and my mum’s childhood friend Julia. They can always tell me stories of me as a child! WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS THINKING ABOUT COMING OUT? It’s difficult to give advice for everyone, as I don’t know their circumstances! However, before you even feel the need to tell others, realise that you are you, you’re fantastic and that you’ve done nothing wrong, as it can feel like sometimes you have by keeping this ‘secret’. Your sexuality is as much yours as anybody else’s. You have a right to follow who you are, and absolutely nobody has the right to deny you love, dating, relationships and happiness! ANY FUNNY STORIES ABOUT WHEN YOU CAME OUT TO SOMEONE? Yes! I dropped by to see my Aunty about 2 months after I’d come out to my parents. I was convinced that my mum had told her anyway. Well, she hadn’t and I casually just dropped in the sentence “Well now I’ve come out and I’m dating boys” (or something like that). I think she was drinking coffee, choked on it and was like “Oh, well, you know, just go with the flow”. I will never forget that moment! However, my aunty was absolutely fine with it, I think she didn’t expect me to casually tell her over coffee!


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LGBT FAMILIES A Belfast mum shares her story of coming to terms with the fact that her daughter is gay...

MY DAUGHTER IS GAY. I can say that now without any hesitation or worry. But I suppose it’s not always been that way. They say coming out is a journey, however going through that process with someone is a journey for a parent too. When my daughter was smaller she was no different from other children her age, she enjoyed school, could have studied a bit harder and loved being out with her friends. Being an only child, she was always very sociable outside the house, and always had friends round, I think making up for the lack of siblings. She had boyfriends in her teens and went on to be in long term relationship with a man that she had my granddaughter with. One of the things I’ve come to realise about society, is that we push an agenda onto our young people without even realising we do it. We say to little girls “did the boys kiss your teeth out” and we constantly plague sons and grandsons with questions about which girls they fancy. It never dawns on us, particularly the older generation that we are reinforcing heteronormativity. HETERONORMATIVITY. Now there’s a word! One of the many things I’ve learned since my daughter began her journey and began an education. I am much more careful about the words I use with my granddaughter, the very worldly wise

almost 10 year old. My daughter ended that long term relationship for many reasons, all of them right and valid and for a while she was single and met lots of new friends. A lot of these new friends

I watched my now daughterin-law treat my daughter like a queen, no pun intended, and I watched my granddaughter grow and flourish with the love and devotion of two wonderful mothers. were part of the LGBT community. She had a few closer friends and

eventually started spending a lot of time with a certain woman who would become her wife. Ha! She honestly thought I had come up the Lagan in a bubble. I knew from early on that this was more than a friendship however it took a number of months before she came and talked to me about this girl that was buying her flowers and whisking her away for weekends. If I am completely honest, I was a little disappointed that she hadn’t said sooner, and a little apprehensive about what the future might hold, for her and my granddaughter, given that we donít live in the most forward thinking of countries. Anyway, following this revelation, I did struggle with the word gay for a while. She was just in a relationship with a girl, this girl, it didn’t mean she liked all girls, or didnít like men. I even remember thinking the stereotypical ‘it’s just a phase’. However, what happened next was that I watched my daughter gain back the confidence that her previous relationship had stripped from. I watched my now daughter-in-law treat my daughter like a queen, no pun intended, and I watched my granddaughter grow and flourish with the love and devotion of two wonderful mothers. In short, I didn’t struggle for long, I accepted my daughter for who she

was and who she loved. I know it’s not that easy for others, and that people often never come to terms with their children being gay, and I would urge those people to reach out to organisations like The Rainbow Project who can provide great support to help them learn and understand. This ultimately could mean the difference between being in your childs life and not. I know what I would choose. I mentioned me getting an education earlier. I honestly believe I have learned so much from my daughter and her relationship. I have a deeper understanding of the issues facing LGBT people in Northern Ireland, I vote very differently than I would have in my own younger years, and I pack condoms and lube into little safer sex packs for The Rainbow Project, something I probably would not have predicted as a pastime for myself in my early 60s! On a lighter note, had she not been gay, I’m sure she would have had lovely friends, but this way, she has the most fabulous friends! A group of people that I am proud to know and love, who welcome me at Pride and down the gay quarter for a gin or two any time. I even braved a Benidorm hen party with them all, but as they say, what happens in Benidorm stays in Benidorm!



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Matt Terry is this issue's cover-star, inside he talks about life after X-Factor, his new music, and working with some of the world's bigges...


Matt Terry is this issue's cover-star, inside he talks about life after X-Factor, his new music, and working with some of the world's bigges...


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