Lockdown Larder – Christmas special Part 2

Brian Butler December 23, 2020

As lockdown hardens for many over Christmas ,  and we may have more time on our own to fill, I asked Erica Gillingham and Jim MacSweeney at the iconic Gay’s The Word bookshop to give me their picks of the year.

Erica’s choices are :

No Modernism Without Lesbians  by Diana Souhami . A book about love, celebrity, acceptance and the freedom to wear corduroy breeches.

The Times I Knew I Was Gay by Eleanor Crewes . A graphic memoir about coming out and coming of age – a funny portrait of a young woman becoming herself.

You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat. Follow a Palestinian/American girl as she explores queerness and addiction to love.

What Girls Do In The Dark by Rosie Garland. This poetry collection takes us into deep space in a twilight world of energy , exploring  inner space too.

Large Animals by Jess Ardnt. A book of dark magic and humour where the supernatural shows the instability of desire and relationships.

In Their Shoes by Jamie Windust. Light-hearted stories about fashion, dating and family. It shows there’s not just one way to be non-binary.

LOTE by Shola Von Reinhold. This queer literary debut turns the spotlight on the forgotten black Modernist poet Hermia Druitt. It’s a voyage in to secrets and secret societies.

Jim’s best are :

One Of Them by Michael Cashman. The life  of ex- Eastenders actor, now a peer of the realm, and  activist. It’s a story full of passion and truth as it charts the formation of Stonewall as well as treating us to showbiz glamour and gossip.

A Dutiful Boy by Mohsin Zaidi. It’s the journey  of a young gay Muslim boy to freedom and love.

Girl, Woman, Other. By Bernardino Evaristo. The award-winning book follows 12 people over several decades , tales of mothers, daughters and a variety of connections , conscious and not.

Heartbreak Boys by Simon James Green. Nate and Jack have had their boyfriends cheat on them. When the ex boyfriends team up together , it produces a well-observed, wry  look at social media , love and new beginnings.

Loving – A Photographic History of Men In Love  by Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell . Covering the 1850s to 1950s,  it portrays a history of romantic love between men in a gallery of photographs taken across its 100 year span

My picks for Christmas/New Year reading are piling up and I haven’t got round to fully reading them but just glancing at them all 3 seem great treats:

More Diaries of a West-End Wendy is a combination of two memoirs by ex- Cage Aux Folles  and 42nd Street performer Scott St. Martyn. It’s full of outrageous theatrical anecdotes and tales of Scott’s life on and off stage. You can buy a copy here: 

Glamour Boys by Labour MP Chris Bryant is the amazing secret story of a group of gay Tory Members of Parliament who fought for Britain to defeat Hitler.

Wranglestone is the Costa Prize short-listed book by Darren Charlton . Peter has watched Cooper from afar . When they finally meet they find a lot more than just each other in the islands of Lake Wranglestone.

My full reviews of these 3 books will be in Gscene in January.

Erica and Jim’s selections are available from Gay’s The Word’s online shop.

One piece of good theatrical news this week- the Phoenix Arts Club’s wonderful adult panto Alice in Streamingland – reviewed recently in Gscene  – is available for streaming this Sunday 27 December for one night only . Tickets at

And finally for all those of you like me, who will be ensconced alone on Christmas Day, here’s my alternative to turkey.

Beef and venison slow-cooked casserole.

Ingredients : 500g each of braising beef and venison; for the marinade: 2 large glasses of red wine, tablespoon of whole grain mustard, tablespoon of either sugar or honey, two teaspoons of soy sauce. Main ingredients: two medium onions, 4 medium carrots, two large parsnips, half a small swede, 3 or 4 closed cup mushrooms, 1 red, green or yellow pepper, two large potatoes, green veg of your choice – I used sprouts .

Method: Cut the meat into large pieces and place in a bowl with the marinade mixture, stirring well; refrigerate for 2 hours.  Cut all but the sprouts and potatoes into large chunks . In a slow-cooker pour 500 ml of real gravy, plus gravy granules and a beef stock pot capsule; add boiling water and stir. Add the vegetables . Flash fry the meat and add it and the marinade to the cooker. Add garlic and paprika to taste, plus another glass of red wine. Cover and cook till the meat and veg are tender – about  3 hours.   Slice the potatoes in to large pieces and par boil for 7 to 8 minutes. Drain and add to the top of the casserole for the last hour of cooking. Prepare and boil your green vegetable choice as a side.

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Merry Christmas dinner !

Look out for my final lockdown larder of 2020 – what’s on tv and streaming over the holiday season

Should you wish you can buy  all of these LGBTQ+ books from Gays the Word online here: