THE LOG BOOKS
Season 2 Preview Episode: “Joy, friendship and also bitterness”
Presenters: Shivani Dave, Tash Walker, Adam Zmith
Contributors: Julian Hows, Diana James, Simon McCallum
Producers: Shivani Dave, Tash Walker, Adam Zmith
Music: Tom Foskett-Barnes
Artwork: Natalie Doto
Shivani: We, at The Log Books, focus on LGBTQ+ history and reflect on it in the modern day, but we couldn't help but feel like we needed to acknowledge what's happening in the world around us, as we were recording this episode. It truly feels like a watershed moment for Black rights in the UK, and around the world. It shouldn't have taken the killing of a Black man, George Floyd, for the world to take notice of racism and the abuse that Black people are subjected to daily, and institutionally. We are also at a pivotal moment for Trans rights. There's a real risk of trans people being stripped of their right to self determine, and our trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming siblings have been the victims of vile vitriol by some media publications and campaigning groups. The three of us here at The Log Books, want to make clear that we are fully in support of our Black and trans siblings, and that until Black lives, trans lives, and especially Black trans lives matter, all lives don't matter.
AZ: I just got a message from Tash that says, ‘Turn your recorder on before listening,’ so… um (laughs) that's why I'm doing this and I don't know what she's gonna say but I'm gonna play it on speaker on my phone, next the microphone, um-
TW: (recorded voice message) Guys I've just watched the live stream um- for The British Podcast Awards, and
TW: You’ll never guess who’s been nominated for Best New Podcast…
TW: It’s us!
TW: I can’t believe it! So exciting!
AZ: Oh wow… which one-
TW: Um… The Log Books: Best New Podcast 2020.
AZ: Best New Podcast.
AZ: Amazing… (laughs) Oh wow!
[music, sound of a bike being picked up and put down]
TW: I’m about to leave my flat and cycle to serenade Adam at his window. Hopefully Shivani will be there, virtually. Here we go!
[rustling of sound recorder, music, sound of bicycle wheels turning, car driving past]
TW (cont’d): You're listening to The Log Books, stories from Britain's LGBTQ+ history and conversations about being queer today.
AZ: In partnership with Switchboard, the LGBT+ helpline. I'm Adam Zmith.
TW: I’m Tash Walker.
[intro music subsides]
TW (cont’d): Okay so, I’m turning into Adam’s street.
AZ: -and there she is (laughs)
TW: Hello! He’s there! (laughs) Wearing a very fetching pink t-shirt.
[music, typewriter sound]
AZ: Okay, err- hello.
AZ: Gonna lift this window up… uh!
TW: I feel like I should be chucking some stones at your window or something-
AZ: (laughs) …chucking stones…
TW: -make it more romantic.
AZ: Well should I be… singing? ‘Cause I’m- it’s like- I’m on the balcony.
TW: I would- you know I can’t sing, so that’s why I’m not doing that part.
AZ: I’m on the first floor and Tash is on the pavement, at sea level so erm-
TW: Amid the leaves
AZ: Yeah there's about 4m height-distance between us. Well, it’s lovely to see you.
TW: It’s so nice to see you too!
AZ: Yes. I like your bum bag.
TW: Thank you. It’s a- (laughs) Yeah- um- so I brought you some fruits of my flat.
AZ: Some fruits from your flat? Is that a lemon?
TW: It’s a lemon from the lemon tree.
AZ: Is that from your lemon tree?
TW: That’s from my lemon tree!
AZ: That’s amazing!
TW: So apparently lemons symbolise, like, joy and- and sometimes friendship but they also symbolise bitterness, so um-
AZ: (laughs) Right
TW & AZ: (laugh)
AZ: Well I'm bitter about this virus. I’ll just put my laptop here and we can get Shivani on the call.
TW: Ahh listen to the leaves. So nice.
AZ: From miles away. Okay-
[video call dial tone, call connected notification sound]
AZ (cont’d): Hello Shivani
AZ: Hi. Can you see Tash? Outside-
AZ: -my house
Shivani: Oh- yeah
AZ & TW: (laughs)
AZ: like- tiny tiny tiny person
Shivani: Is she holding a cat?
AZ: (laughs) No, she’s not holding a cat. That’s her um- zoom and her mic pop shield-
Shivani: I thought she was holding a cat-
TW: Although I was- I was cycling with it in here so it looked like I was cycling with my cat
AZ: She's got it in the bum bag. I've been speaking to quite a few contributors for Season 2. That's one of the things I've been doing in lockdown is just finding people to talk to.
AZ: Finding- er- going back to some people that we spoke to for Season 1, and also finding new people.
TW: Well I think it'd be really nice if we cut some of these sounds, give people a bit of an insight into how Season 2’s being made, with everything that’s going on at the moment.
AZ: Okay so- er… Let's make a Season 2 preview episode!
AZ: And we're gonna cover the HIV/AIDS crisis. That's gonna be such a big feature of this season, and- er- also we wanna cover things like the media-
AZ: And what else have we got planned, Tash?
TW: Section 28
AZ: Section 28. Yeah-
TW: -and, of course, all of the themes that continue to pervade the Switchboard calls:
TW: Loneliness, isolation, coming out-
AZ: Yep, yep.
TW: The marches, the protests, the dyke marches-
TW: There’s just- it’s jam packed
AZ: There's loads
TW: Um I found a bunch of lesbian dyke protesters
AZ: Oh great
TW: Dyke marchers, from the 80s, which is cool
AZ: And also it would be nice for this preview episode if we can get some voices from contributors, erm- so that- kind of- our listeners can get a bit of a taste about the kind of characters to come, maybe. Some old characters, and some new characters.
TW: Old voices and new voices.
AZ: Yep. Yep.
Speaker 1 (6:31): James Baldwin was lovely, um- Margaret Atwood, Adrienne Rich, er- Christopher Isherwood.
Speaker 1 (6:37): Yeah, absolutely. Gore Vidal- I’m going to be very indiscreet now- um- Gore Vidal really didn’t want to do it. He didn’t, didn’t, didn’t want to do it.
AZ: Okay. Production meeting No. 572, on Google Hangouts with Tash. Here we go… Is she there?
[call connected notification sound]
TW: Hey Adam.
TW: Hey, how's it going?
AZ: Hi, I'm all right. How are you?
TW: Yeah. Yeah I’m okay thanks.
AZ: I think this is production meeting No. 570-and-something
TW: (laughs) Yeah, I feel like-
AZ: -a million.
TW: I could never see your face too much though, um-
AZ: (laughs) My slightly 2D, pixelated-
TW: I know
AZ: -face, okay.
TW: Are we- are you recording?
AZ: I am recording, yes.
TW: Yeah. Okay me too. I think it might be worth us just keeping a record in case you might want to use any of this-
TW: -in some of the- in some of the episodes what with- um-
AZ: Exact- yeah.
TW: -our new style of producing these days.
AZ: (laughs) Um- so we need to talk through some of the plans for Season 2.
AZ: I've been clustering some of the log book entries into the themes that we think we're gonna cover.
TW: Yeah- yeah.
AZ: Because we did that work a few weeks ago of thinking about, like, okay what are the main themes that are coming up in the entries? And then we've- I've just been clustering them around that so- and I think we- one of the first things that we have to think about is how do we- how do we handle the HIV and AIDS crisis? Because it's so big-
AZ: -in this period, like what are we covering? ‘83 to ‘91?
AZ: It's gunna dominate it, but then there are other things going on as well.
TW: Thinking about how we did Season 1, we had different themes for each episode and I think that we need to continue having different themes for each episode, but obviously there’s so much around HIV and AIDS that it's gonna cover several different- several episodes, but one thing I think we need to be really true and honest throughout the whole of the season is that this is a theme that permeated the entirety of this period.
AZ: Right. I think it's gonna be really tough to cover HIV and AIDS because, I mean, you've seen the log book entries from that time and there is just so much… going on, and some very, very, very desperate people and sad moments in the log books.
TW: Yeah it's really d-, really hard just thinking about it.
AZ: There’s- I've got one here. This is a log book entry from December the 21st, just before Christmas 1989, at 6.45am. ‘I’ve just finished a call with a 19 year old man called John from Norwich, who's been diagnosed HIV positive. His lover hit him and walked out. John is full of self-loathing and can see no point in living. He eventually went off to sleep and I got him to promise to ring back in the next 2 or 3 days.’
TW: (muted) Yeah
AZ: -and there’s just so many like that.
TW: This is just one, isn’t it?
AZ: Yeah there's just hundreds, in this period, of people in that same position as John from Norwich, ringing like that.
TW: Yeah. We just have to do our best to reflect as many as we can.
AZ: Mm hm. Well I wonder what it’d be like to have some of those Switchboard volunteers, who were at Switchboard at the time, talking about taking those kinds of calls.
TW: Yeah, definitely. I mean luckily we- we already interviewed Julian-
TW: -for Season 2- so that’s- I'm really pleased that we did that and we got-
AZ: -before the lockdown-
TW: Yeah- before the lockdown, and we got him on record, especially as he's in Amsterdam.
[sound recorder muffling sounds, voices talking over each other]
Julian: Right, come on in, come on in. God, you’re cold young man.
AZ: (laughs) Thank you.
[voices talking over each other in echoing hallway]
Julian: Come on in, come on in, come on it.
Julian: What do we need? Do either of you want a cup of tea?
AZ: Um- I’m alright, tha-
[volume turned down to mute excerpt]
TW: You know who would be good to talk to about this? Diana- Diana James, who we spoke to in Season 1.
AZ: Oh yes. She told that amazing story about her transition in the early ‘80s, and coming out as intersex.
[Skype welcome tone]
TW (cont’d): Okay, I’m just going to give Diana a call.
[Skype call dial tone, call connected notification sound]
TW (cont’d): Diana!
Diana: Hello Tash! How are you?
TW: Hi! Hi, I’m good.
Diana: I think it’s just taking its time… a-ha there we go!
TW: Ahh there you are! How are you?
Diana: Good! Oo I like the blanket-
Diana: -and those Spanish manteles.
TW: Yeah exactly. This is recording outside of a studio, at home, under a blanket. You can also probably hear the faint hum of trains in the background ‘cause I live by a train track. How are you doing? How- how's things down in the southwest?
Diana: It's really beautiful down here. The sun's shining. It's- I'm really lucky that I can get out into the countryside, so I’m having long runs and walks and-
Diana: -I run through, like, forested areas and stuff, and because my hair is just- you can’t get to a hairdresser’s, so when I'm running, my scrunchies keep falling off and I look like a banshee running through the woods, with my ginger hair flailing behind me, as I sing along to- have some heavy metal.
TW: Ahh amazing. Oh I love that you’re listening to heavy metal.
TW: I did a run the other day to heavy metal and it was, like, genuinely so liberating. I really loved it.
TW: Well the reason I wanted to get in touch was obviously to see how you're doing. Um- I know it's been a while since we last saw each other before lockdown. Um- but also, you know, things have- we’ve had a bit of a pause. I was meant to interview you in May for the second season of The Log Books, and I just wanted to get in touch and say that we’re still pushing ahead and we’d- we’d really love to have you in Season 2 for The Log Books, if your- if your up for being interviewed.
Diana: I'd really love to. You know, I'm always- you know, wanna help out Switchboard in any way I can, and The Log Books are telling our history and if we don't tell it, someone else will.
TW: Yeah, you- exactly. I like that. That's a catch phrase I should probably steal.
Diana: (laughs) It’s yours.
TW: Thank you. The period- the second season is- covers, you know, the majority of the ‘80s and the very early ‘90s. Do you- what- it’s such a… heavy period of time. Loads of things were happening for the LGBT+ communities then. How do you look back and remember it?
Diana: It was- it was two things. It was really rough because there was people on Switchboard that were also ill, and their partners died, and we supported each other as best we could on that. It was all the lesbian community supporting all the gay guys as well. It really pulled the community together, but it was hugely rough. So many guys lost their partners. We lost friends. It was… it was a desperate time, but it was also a time when we all pulled together.
TW: A lot of building of that community, like err- cementing that community throughout that period of time
Diana: Yeah. Well we’ve got Section 28, of course, back back then and we’re seeing like a resurgence of that kind of… censorship of LGBT lives in schools, and if we’d’ve had some kind of teaching around LGBT lives when we were at school- of course I’m going back way before you-
Diana: -then, so many of our lives would have been so different. So much of the shame and the not-knowing who you were-
TW: Yeah, I totally agree
Diana: Like I've said, many of us now are still dealing with things that happened when we was at school.
TW: Yeah I complete- I completely agree with you. It's- there’s- so much happened in this period of time. I mean I'm really looking forward to hearing all the stories and all the memories from everyone we’re going to speak to. I feel like this- this could turn into that call now but we’ll save that for a bit later on.
Diana: I know, I tend to rabbit on a bit. (laughs)
TW: No, I love it. It's amazing. Well, thank you so much for saying that you're up for being interviewed for Season 2. We’re just working out next steps on how exactly we're gonna do that with um- with a lockdown, but we’ll be in touch and I'm so pleased that you’re gonna be a part of it, Diana. Thank you so much.
Diana: Oh, it’s an absolute pleasure. It’s great to speak to you.
TW: Okay, bye-
Diana: -and give my love to everybody-
TW: I will
Diana: -and take care.
TW: Alright, bye!
TW: One thing I really want us to decide and sort of come to an agreement on- maybe put together a document- is how we- how we’re gonna do interviews at the moment. You know we’re still in- we’re still in a lockdown
TW: Um- and lots of the people- lots of our contributors or people we'd like to speak to are-
AZ: Right, because- yeah.
TW: -are in the higher risk category.
TW: But I-
AZ: ‘Cause that’s the thing-
TW: I want their voices, you know?
AZ: Yeah and we like to do the interviews in person because it's a better sound quality, but also we just know that you just kind of get more, like, from a person if you can sit opposite them and have a conversation.
Speaker 2: My friend and I got locked into Brixton Black Women’s Centre one night. We’d worked so hard to let them- let us use the centre, and we were, like, sewing this banner ready for the les- I’m sure it was the Lesbian Strength march the next day, and then we- then they locked us in! (laughs) -to the centre, and we didn’t notice, with our sequins in our little- (laughs). I liked the Lesbian Strength marches ‘cause I could wear my dresses and not get outshon by the drag queens, which I couldn’t do at Pride. So I saved my ball gowns for Lesbian Strength and I- all those pictures of- no, I remember a copper saying to me, ‘Um, are you on the right march?’ (laughs) ‘cause I think- ‘cause I have my ball gown on and I looked like a girl. I think he thought I was on the wrong march. I remember Lesbian Strength marches…
[volume turned down to mute on the excerpt]
TW: For me, the priority is to include these memories and these thoughts and if, because of lockdown or because of the pandemic, we have to do that via zoom or-
TW: -whatever method, then I’ve- I'm happy to do that-
TW: -to sacrifice that slightly better audio quality, and that intimacy that we get from face to face interviews because these stories are so important, and-
TW: -um- they have to be- they have to be heard.
AZ: We want there to be a podcast, so we have to make it however. What else do we wanna make sure that we include?
TW: One thing that’s um- one log book entry I found which I thought was really interesting- maybe I'll just read it to you. So this is a log book entry from the 1st of August 1984. ‘Caller is Spanish and wants to find a sympathetic male who will marry her. She is a lesbian. She knows the ins and outs of this. Pardon the metaphor. No disparagement intended, in brackets. She is seeing a lawyer about visa and work. Would like to stay. This is deliberately vague, but you know what I mean.’
AZ: Wow, so this is someone who is in the UK and wants to stay, but there's an immigration issue.
TW: Yeah exactly, and this is- so this is in 1984. There’s some- there are actually a couple of these in this period of the log books, this sort of- I also think its- it is interesting to reflect on, especially in line with what's happening a lot with immigration here and the situations for LGBTQ+ people all across the world being so different-
TW: -and how people, you know people are moving for their lives. Um-
AZ: Yeah exactly, and different- from different countries and claiming asylum-
AZ: -here, or in other countries. Well it sounds like- that this should be, like, an episode, like, where we just look at the log book entries that are about that particular theme of, er- kind of borders and migration-
AZ: -for LGBTQ+ people.
TW: I think that's a really good idea. I think we could do a bit of a reflection piece on the today section around asylum- LGBTQ+ asylum today, maybe speaking to some of those fantastic charities out there, or a lawyer maybe.
AZ: Tash, Switchboard started in ‘74, err and then- so then, you know, the first season of The Log Books covered until.. What? ‘82. So then, apart from all of the issues that it was dealing with, what was going on for Switchboard in that sort of adolescent period of its life in the ‘80s?
TW: There were several things that happened. You know, just to name a few, you had UK’s first seminar on AIDS, which Switchboard- Gay Switchboard, then- was involved in staging. It was also the 10th anniversary of Switchboard, on the 4th of March 1984. There’s an amazing picture in the archive that was taken. It is-
AZ: Oh wow.
TW: -so cool, yeah. Lisa Power and Femi Otitoju is in it as well, which is amazing- to see them back then, in the ‘80s and know them now, but before both of those things, there was actually one pretty amazing important event that happened.
[telephone dial tone]
Speaker 3 (20:01): Ahh yes. Our one millionth call at Switchboard came through today at 12.58pm. It was from an American tourist but he wouldn't give his name. The call was taken by Robbie Brown, and I remember that call very, very well because actually it was from an American tourist, who had just landed from Chicago, who was looking to find where the Coleherne was- how can he get to the Coleherne? And then also The Champion, ‘cause he’d heard that was a gay bar, and no he didn't want any publicity, thank you very much. (laughs) We said, ‘You are our millionth caller! We’d like to- you know, we’d like to interview you. We’d like to give you a bottle of champagne, if you like. You know, we’ll even just give you the bottle of champagne.’ ‘No, thank you very much. Thank you very much for your help, bye bye.’ (laughs)
AZ: D’you know? I'm excited about making Season 2, just because I think that we can probably, like, play around again with different ways of doing sound-
AZ: -and- and what we can bring in, like we have Tom's amazing music in Season 1 and everyone loves that, erm- and so it would be nice to include that again and different kinds- different kinds of sound. So, err- yeah- I don't know. I'm thinking about that quite a lot.
TW: Yeah. More- more of those train tracks in the background.
AZ: Yes. Well it's gonna be like that because we’re recording all of these in lockdown
TW: -but thinking about it realistically, you know who might be good to help us on that? Simon McCallum from The BFI, in the Archive Department.
AZ: Yes. He was the one who got in touch with you on Twitter.
TW: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Simon. He works at the BFI. He reached out and said that he loves The Log Books, and that- and was referencing all of the fantastic documentaries that are in the BFI Archive, that include Switchboard, and of course, a plethora of other fantastic LGBTQ+ organisations and people.
AZ: Amazing, so- right so we could maybe use some of the sound clips from those TV documentaries that you're talking about that are in The British Film Institute.
TW: Yeah, and you know what I- I have been absolutely bingeing on the BFI Archive, over lockdown. They've been releasing so much LGBT content. It's amazing- from, like, the ‘70s, the ‘80s.
AZ: That’s great
TW: It’s fantastic.
AZ: That's great. Okay, well… er let's get hold of Simon.
TW: Yeah, for sure.
[video call dial tone, call connect notification sound]
AZ: Ahh… hello?
AZ: Hi Simon. It's good to see you.
Simon: Hi Adam, nice to talk to you.
TW: Good to see you Simon
AZ: Thanks for taking the time. Tash and I have been watching all these old documentaries in er- your archive.
Simon: Yeah. Perfect lockdown viewing. I'm really pleased people are getting stuck into it, so-
AZ: Well it's looking like Season 2 is gonna include this theme of representation in the media because it- it's something that comes up in the log books actually, I mean the actual log books, so-
Simon: What I've really been trying to do is really trace how the community's been portrayed in film and telly across that period, so you will see little snippets of Switchboard at work in there, so-
AZ: That’s great.
Simon: -hopefully we'll get a bit of that into your series.
[muted voices as objects are moved around, archive clip plays]
TV Presenter: Sue and Barry Blakelock have withdrawn their son Russell from school, and now teach him at home. [sound of Barry teaching Russell in the background] They support equal opportunities policies for gay people, but unlike the council, they don't wish homosexuality to be promoted as a positive choice to their young children.
Sue Blakelock: Of course, I think I want what every parent wants. That’s for their son to grow up, as some people would call, normal, and to have a family of his own, and grandchildren, of course. I think that's what everyone wants.
AZ: So it would be great if we could include some of this, like some of the sounds. That’s one 2thing that we’d love to do in Season 2 is, like, include some of the audio from the- these old documentaries.
Simon: Definitely. I will do my very best-
Simon: -to get you some of that. [fade in another audio clip] Yes, and then it’s- send me the list over- Yep-
TW: Thanks Simon.
Simon: Okay. Nice to talk to you.
TW & AZ: Goodbye!
TW: Oh Adam, it was so nice to see you, at a distance the other day, through my window- how was the lemon?!
AZ: (laughs) It was really good. I used it in some er- fresh pesto.
TW: Oh, great.
AZ: I’ve- I’ve actually still got a half of it now, so I might put in a cocktail tonight.
TW: Fanta- well, I would advise you to use it sparingly because the tree is very small, so-
AZ: Oh no!
AZ: Wait, so we’re not going to get a bumper crop of lemons this year?
TW: Well there’s two- two very green lemons growing on it now but I feel like that’s-
AZ: Oh great
TW: -they’re at least 2 or 3 months off (laughs)
AZ: (laughs) Well, let's hope that we can do some interviews for The Log Books before those lemons are ripe-
TW: Yeah, definitely
AZ: -and hopefully, like, within the next month, we can probably start interviewing people. Well, actually I’ve got an interview lined up with someone who I was in touch with, and they said actually you can come over. We can speak in my garden, with a distance. So I- I'm gonna borrow some cables and a mic from Shivani on Friday, so that I can keep the distance with that interviewee and then go there and do an interview in person, so hopefully we can do more of that soon, and then others, I guess, just online, if we have to. Hey, Tash, how do you feel about July the 11th?
TW: Well Adam, it’s- it’s firmly in my calendar. I can tell you that.
AZ: (laughs) What's happening on July the 11th?
TW: British Podcast Awards. The announcement of the winner will be on July the 11th, among all the many other categories for the British Podcast Awards, but there is still one category that is undecided, and that is…?
AZ: That's The Listener's Choice category, where you, dear listener at home-
AZ: -can go on to the website, on the British Podcast Awards and vote for The Log Books, if you want to do that. Err that would be lovely.
TW: There's a train going past again.
AZ: (laughs) Get everyone on the train to vote-
AZ: -for The Log Books (laughs)
TW: So I guess that's- that's it for this meeting.
AZ: Yeah. Great. Meeting adjourned.
TW: Meeting adjourned. I'll probably see you tomorrow on our next meeting- (laughs)
AZ: -on our next meeting. Okay, I'm gonna close my er- Google Hangout window now.
TW: Okay. Well, okay-
AZ: Bing Bong.
TW: Have a good evening Adam
AZ: All right
TW: And I’ll see you-
AZ: I’ll see you later
TW: I’ll see you soon. Okay, take care hun.
TW: Bye (laughs)
TW: Okay so listeners, hang tight. Don’t forget to vote for us for the British Podcast Awards: Listeners’ Choice, and that concludes this Season 2 Preview of The Log Books.
TW: Ding, ding, ding, ding ding! (laughs)
AZ: Beautiful! Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! (laughs)
TW: Calls to Switchboard are confidential, so to bring The Log Books to life, we've changed the callers’ names.
AZ: The Log Books is produced by Shivani Dave, Adam Zmith and Tash Walker, in partnership with Switchboard, the LGBT+ helpline.
TW: If you think other people would like The Log Books, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. These ratings and reviews really help others to discover the show. You can send us your feedback and stories to email@example.com
AZ: Our music is by Tom Foskett-Barnes, and our artwork is by Natalie Doto.
TW: Thanks to Stef Dickers and team, at the Bishopsgate Institute
AZ: The folks at Acast
TW: Gareth Mitchell, at Imperial College London
AZ: The staff and volunteers at Switchboard
TW: And all the contributors who shared their stories. 45 years on, Switchboard continues to take phone calls from 10am to 10pm every day. If you're affected by any of the issues in this podcast, or need to discuss anything to do with gender identity or sexuality, you can call Switchboard on 0300 330 0630, email firstname.lastname@example.org or instant message via switchboard.lgbt, where you can also donate money or time to help.