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West End Extra - The XTRA DIARY
Published: 22 May 2009
The gay walking tour is mapped out by those behind the innovative ideaThe gay walking tour is mapped out by those behind the innovative idea
Gay to Z: Special walking tours on the streets of Soho

SOHO has more tabernacles of tolerance per square mile than probably anywhere else in the country, so what better stage for a gay walking tour?
With Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward and Virginia Woolf as the area’s de facto patron saints, there promises to be enough culture and history to please the pamphlet lovers, but if the flyers are anything to go by, it wont be the usual shoulder-sloping tour-guide experience. Oh no!
Organiser Chris Amos promises more of a “let your hair down” tour, with shots, restaurants and goody bags in the offering. “Bartenders tell me gay tourists are always asking for directions,” said Chris. “London is the most popular gay travel destination in the world and Soho is its heart.
“I will show visitors Soho in all its wonderful diverse glory.”
In fact, Diary was warned that next week’s inaugural event might be too “rawcus” for our reporter.
If you want to find out more, or for tour times, visit www.gaybuddymap.com

It’s a war of words for soldiers

DID you kill anybody?
If you’ve ever had a friend return home from service with the army and you make it to the pub, the question is bound to be on your lips.
For most people common sense prevails, and saving a Basil Fawlty-esque gaffe, it remains the unspoken elephant in the room.
But should you feel the need for straight-talking or voyeurism, as Dr Ian Palmer, the man behind the new war veterans trauma clinic in Charlotte Street calls it, a word of warning.
Dr Palmer told Diary that the horror of facing the question was one of the most talked about issues in his sessions, eclipsing experiences on the battlefield itself.
“The question frames the person as a perpetrator and not the victim,” he said.
“It is a voyeuristic question that can provoke very strong reactions. Some people will stand up and give them a smack in the face. Playing therapist can be dangerous. We often hear soldiers say they can’t answer because they fear they would traumatise the questioner. They bury everything, causing even more difficulties.”
Diary recommends keeping the table-talk to football.

How advertising staff became mad about ar

THE artists behind some of the biggest advertising campaigns in history are exhibiting their “not for profit” work at a Soho restaurant.
Seven artists – Britain’s real-life “Mad Men” – worked for the London office of the American agency,
J Walter Thompson in Berkeley Square during the industry’s boom years in the 1960s and 1970s. And when the so-called “Seafresh Group”, named after their favourite Pimlico restaurant, weren’t in the editing suites and studios trying to sharpen the hook for clients including Shell and De Beers, they liked to paint. What better subject than the characters and streets on their doorstep?
“Soho always had a place in our hearts,” Hugh Bredin, one of the group’s founding members, and former copywriter at JWT, told Diary at the opening on Tuesday evening.
“The funny thing is many of us took up painting later on in life. Only one of the group was an artist. We have TV people, writers and even part of the catering team in our group.”
For a group of non-artists it’s good stuff. There are Mah-jong players, Berwick Street market traders and the usual night-stalkers among the subjects on display at Soho Themes and Variations at the Bar du Marche in Berwick Street.
The exhibition runs until June 21.

Try some blog standard food

BLOGGERS don’t just sit around in their underpants confessing all. Some choose life.
Covent Garden food market is to host its first ever “Food Bloggers” Stall next month where some of the world’s most acclaimed chefs and bloggers will serve up their favourite dishes to the crowds.
Recipe hunters will know the names who will be manning the stall: Eat Like A Girl, The Ginger Gourmand, Hollow Legs, Cheese and Biscuits and More Tea Vicar?
The food market in the piazza will run every Thursday until September 24 and is set to boast an array of scrumptious, fresh produce, with everything from cupcakes to crab on the menu.

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