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How Perth father Jon Gregory invented the Vitruvian Form resistance trainer

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how perth father jon gregory invented the vitruvian form resistance trainer

A father-of-three has invented a ‘smart’ exercise machine that allows you to perform gym-standard workouts in the comfort of your own home.

The Vitruvian Form resistance trainer is the brainchild of Jon Gregory, a physicist and financial trader from Perth, Western Australia, who came up with the idea in 2008.

But it wasn’t until January 2019 that he finally secured a $100,000 investment to bring his vision to life.

The result is a sleek bodyweight board capable of loading up to 200 kilos – the same as a rack of weights in the gym – which is linked to an app subscription service offering live and on-demand classes with leading fitness coaches.

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The Vitruvian Form resistance trainer is the brainchild of Perth father-of-three and physicist, Jon Gregory

The Vitruvian Form resistance trainer is the brainchild of Perth father-of-three and physicist, Jon Gregory

It allows you to perform gym-standard workouts in the comfort of your own home

It allows you to perform gym-standard workouts in the comfort of your own home

The Vitruvian Form resistance trainer (left and right) is the brainchild of Perth father-of-three and physicist, Jon Gregory

The sleek bodyweight machine is capable of loading up to 200 kilos - the same as a rack of weights in the gym

The sleek bodyweight machine is capable of loading up to 200 kilos - the same as a rack of weights in the gym

The sleek bodyweight machine is capable of loading up to 200 kilos – the same as a rack of weights in the gym

Mr Gregory says it was the global success of Peleton – a smart exercise bike synced with live training sessions which launched in 2014 – that instilled him with confidence in his invention.

A June pre-sale campaign designed to gauge consumer demand saw 300 machines fly out of stock, outperforming Peleton’s initial launch.

Mr Gregory called the response ‘overwhelming’.

‘I knew we were on to something after spending the last 10 years iterating the technology, but I am glad the general fitness community has also bought into what we are building,’ he told news.com.au

Mr Gregory said the machine  – which promises to ‘unlock a world of weight racks, personal training sessions and classes in your own home’ – will cost roughly $138 for a three-year contract, or $3,500 to buy outright.

A three-year subscription is a fraction of the price of an annual gym membership, which stood at a whopping $780 in 2019 according to research from RecXpress Fitness

The equipment promises to 'unlock a world of weight racks, personal training sessions and classes in your own home'

The equipment promises to 'unlock a world of weight racks, personal training sessions and classes in your own home'

The equipment promises to ‘unlock a world of weight racks, personal training sessions and classes in your own home’

And it’s already received endorsements from top sports stars and fitness experts.

Australian pole vault champion Amanda Bisk said she was impressed with both the machine and the app which allow you to ‘train all muscle groups in the comfort of your own home’.

‘There’s no need to buy different weights, screw squat racks into your wall or think about where to store everything,’ she wrote in a five-star review of the equipment.

Perth physiotherapist Scott Murray said his first reaction was ‘why has this not been invented sooner’.

American fitness influencer Rachel Joy said the machine challenges her to 'train like a beast'

American fitness influencer Rachel Joy said the machine challenges her to 'train like a beast'

American fitness influencer Rachel Joy said the machine challenges her to ‘train like a beast’

American fitness influencer Rachel Joy has also gushed over the machine, which she says challenges her to ‘train like a beast’.

‘Every exercise I do, I feel the resistance underneath me continually adjusting to the way I move,’ she said in an Instagram post on Thursday.

‘It adds weight for a more challenging rep, takes off weight if it notices I’m struggling and counts the rep if I don’t hit a full range of motion. Now THAT is how you get a good workout without cheating.’

The company is currently in talks to determine how many machines should be manufactured for sale, with a full launch expected before the end of 2020.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Muslims protest against Emmanuel Macron in Iraq, India and Pakistan

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muslims protest against emmanuel macron in iraq india and pakistan

French President Emmanuel Macron has said it’s ‘our duty to protect our freedoms’ as furious protests continue to rage across the Muslim world against his comments over the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.   

Macron gave a long interview setting out his vision to Qatar-based TV channel Al-Jazeera today. 

‘I can understand that people could be shocked by the caricatures but I will never accept that violence can be justified,’ he said.

‘I consider it our duty to protect our freedoms and our rights,’ he added in an extract of the interview to be broadcast from 1600 GMT. 

Fury against French President Emmanuel Macron continues to rage across the Muslim world as protests were held today in India, Pakistan and Iraq over the premier’s stance on Charlie Hebdo cartoons.  

Macron has become the focal point of Islamic fury after defending Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed which were used as justification for a teacher’s murder in the Paris suburbs two weeks ago.  

After three people were murdered in Nice Thursday in the latest in a long line of terror attacks in France, Macron said that France will not ‘give up on our values’ despite fury at the caricatures. 

Protests are being staged across the Muslim world, with demonstrations seen this morning in Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and India.  

People chant slogans as they set fire to France's flag during a protest against the cartoon publications of Prophet Mohammad in France and comments by the French President Emmanuel Macron, in Karachi, Pakistan today

People chant slogans as they set fire to France's flag during a protest against the cartoon publications of Prophet Mohammad in France and comments by the French President Emmanuel Macron, in Karachi, Pakistan today

People chant slogans as they set fire to France’s flag during a protest against the cartoon publications of Prophet Mohammad in France and comments by the French President Emmanuel Macron, in Karachi, Pakistan today 

Protesters burn effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron during an anti-French protest in Karachi today

Protesters burn effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron during an anti-French protest in Karachi today

Protesters burn effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron during an anti-French protest in Karachi today 

People burn a picture of French President Emmanuel Macron during a protest against his comments about Prophet Muhammad caricatures, in Peshawar, Pakistan today

People burn a picture of French President Emmanuel Macron during a protest against his comments about Prophet Muhammad caricatures, in Peshawar, Pakistan today

People burn a picture of French President Emmanuel Macron during a protest against his comments about Prophet Muhammad caricatures, in Peshawar, Pakistan today 

Demonstrators chant slogans as they march with a large banner calling for a boycott of French products and depicting French President Emmanuel Macron with the nose and ears of a pig, during a rally protesting against the comments of Macron over Prophet Mohammed cartoons in Yemen's country's third-city of Taez today

Demonstrators chant slogans as they march with a large banner calling for a boycott of French products and depicting French President Emmanuel Macron with the nose and ears of a pig, during a rally protesting against the comments of Macron over Prophet Mohammed cartoons in Yemen's country's third-city of Taez today

Demonstrators chant slogans as they march with a large banner calling for a boycott of French products and depicting French President Emmanuel Macron with the nose and ears of a pig, during a rally protesting against the comments of Macron over Prophet Mohammed cartoons in Yemen’s country’s third-city of Taez today 

Iraqis protest against comments by French President Emmanuel Macron defending cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in Halabja, Iraq today

Iraqis protest against comments by French President Emmanuel Macron defending cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in Halabja, Iraq today

Iraqis protest against comments by French President Emmanuel Macron defending cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in Halabja, Iraq today 

Muslim demonstrators hold a placard with a picture of French President Emmanuel Macron Macron with a footprint over his face during an anti-France protest near the French consulate in Kolkata today

Muslim demonstrators hold a placard with a picture of French President Emmanuel Macron Macron with a footprint over his face during an anti-France protest near the French consulate in Kolkata today

Muslim demonstrators hold a placard with a picture of French President Emmanuel Macron Macron with a footprint over his face during an anti-France protest near the French consulate in Kolkata today 

In Dhaka, hundreds of Bangladeshi Muslims took to the streets of the capital for a third consecutive day of protests, chanting slogans such as ‘Boycott French products’ and burning effigies of Macron, who they described as an enemy of Islam. 

At a much larger protest on Tuesday in Dhaka thousands had turned out for a protest carrying banners such as ‘Stop Islamophobia’, ‘Boycott France’ and ‘Lay siege to the French Embassy in Dhaka’. 

In the Somalian capital Mogadishu, hundreds of mostly youthful demonstrators gathered at K4, a busy junction leading to the airport and started chanting anti-French slogans and burning French flags. 

They were responding to calls by clerics in various Somali regions to come out and condemn France and boycott French products.

‘We are going to use our muscles to defend Islam,’ a middle-aged man, Mohamed Ahmed, who was at the demonstration, told Reuters when asked why he was participating. 

A protester carries an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron during an anti-French protest in Karachi on October 31, 2020

A protester carries an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron during an anti-French protest in Karachi on October 31, 2020

A protester carries an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron during an anti-French protest in Karachi on October 31, 2020

A protester jumps on an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron during an anti-French protest in Karachi today

A protester jumps on an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron during an anti-French protest in Karachi today

A protester jumps on an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron during an anti-French protest in Karachi today 

Protesters throw an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron during an anti-French protest in Karachi today

Protesters throw an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron during an anti-French protest in Karachi today

Protesters throw an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron during an anti-French protest in Karachi today 

Protesters hold a placard and banner depicting French President Emmanuel Macron during a protest against Macron's comments considered insulting to Muslims, in Makassar, South Sulawesi Province, Indonesia today

Protesters hold a placard and banner depicting French President Emmanuel Macron during a protest against Macron's comments considered insulting to Muslims, in Makassar, South Sulawesi Province, Indonesia today

Protesters hold a placard and banner depicting French President Emmanuel Macron during a protest against Macron’s comments considered insulting to Muslims, in Makassar, South Sulawesi Province, Indonesia today 

35073612 8900097 image a 42 1604145001092

35073612 8900097 image a 42 1604145001092

Iraqis protest against comments by French President Emmanuel Macron defending cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in Halabja, Iraq today 

Demonstrators stand on defaced posters of France's President Emmanuel Macron on a road during a protest against the publications of a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad in France and Macron's comments, outside a French consulate in Kolkata today

Demonstrators stand on defaced posters of France's President Emmanuel Macron on a road during a protest against the publications of a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad in France and Macron's comments, outside a French consulate in Kolkata today

Demonstrators stand on defaced posters of France’s President Emmanuel Macron on a road during a protest against the publications of a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad in France and Macron’s comments, outside a French consulate in Kolkata today 

Demonstrators chant slogans as they march with banners during a rally protesting against the comments of French President Emmanuel Macron in Taez today

Demonstrators chant slogans as they march with banners during a rally protesting against the comments of French President Emmanuel Macron in Taez today

Demonstrators chant slogans as they march with banners during a rally protesting against the comments of French President Emmanuel Macron in Taez today 

‘We ask people to burn every product of France they come across.’  

Turkish President Erdogan said Wednesday that Western countries mocking Islam wanted to ‘relaunch the Crusades’, heightening a confrontation with France over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad that have stirred anger in Muslim-majority countries.

In a speech to lawmakers of his AK Party in parliament, President Tayyip Erdogan also said that standing against attacks on the Prophet was ‘an issue of honour for us’, suggesting Ankara may be digging in for a prolonged standoff.

The row with France flared after a French teacher who showed pupils cartoons of the Prophet published in the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo was beheaded in France this month. 

The caricatures are considered blasphemous by Muslims.

In a sign of spreading anger at France’s defence of the right to publish the cartoons, demonstrators denounced France in street protests in several Muslim-majority countries.

Demonstrators chant slogans as they march with banners during a rally protesting against the comments of French President Emmanuel Macron over Prophet Mohammed cartoons in Yemen's third-city of Taez today

Demonstrators chant slogans as they march with banners during a rally protesting against the comments of French President Emmanuel Macron over Prophet Mohammed cartoons in Yemen's third-city of Taez today

Demonstrators chant slogans as they march with banners during a rally protesting against the comments of French President Emmanuel Macron over Prophet Mohammed cartoons in Yemen’s third-city of Taez today 

A placard and banner depicting French President Emmanuel Macron are seen during a protest against Macron's comments considered insulting to Muslims, in Makassar, South Sulawesi Province, Indonesia today

A placard and banner depicting French President Emmanuel Macron are seen during a protest against Macron's comments considered insulting to Muslims, in Makassar, South Sulawesi Province, Indonesia today

A placard and banner depicting French President Emmanuel Macron are seen during a protest against Macron’s comments considered insulting to Muslims, in Makassar, South Sulawesi Province, Indonesia today 

Protesters hold placards during a protest against comments of French President Emmanuel Macron considered insulting to Muslims, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia today

Protesters hold placards during a protest against comments of French President Emmanuel Macron considered insulting to Muslims, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia today

Protesters hold placards during a protest against comments of French President Emmanuel Macron considered insulting to Muslims, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia today 

Placards reading "The yellow Devil is in Paris" hang in a window as a mark of a protest against the publications of a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad in France and French President Emmanuel Macron's comments, in Almaty, Kazakhstan today

Placards reading "The yellow Devil is in Paris" hang in a window as a mark of a protest against the publications of a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad in France and French President Emmanuel Macron's comments, in Almaty, Kazakhstan today

Placards reading ‘The yellow Devil is in Paris’ hang in a window as a mark of a protest against the publications of a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad in France and French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments, in Almaty, Kazakhstan today 

‘France down, it insulted our Prophet,’ shouted protesters in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Erdogan sharply criticised Macron at the weekend, saying the French leader needed a mental health check, prompting France to recall its ambassador from Ankara. On Monday, Erdogan urged a boycott of French products.

The Turkish leader again questioned Macron’s state of mind on Wednesday and, in remarks addressed to ‘the West’, described colonial powers as ‘murderers’ for their record in Africa and the Middle east.

‘They literally want to relaunch the Crusades. Since the Crusades, the seeds of evil and hatred have started falling on these (Muslim) lands and that’s when peace was disrupted.’

Turkish officials said separately Ankara would take legal and diplomatic steps in response to a caricature of Erdogan in Charlie Hebdo, which officials called a ‘disgusting effort’ to ‘spread its cultural racism and hatred’.

The cartoon on the cover of Charlie Hebdo showed Erdogan sitting in a white t-shirt and underpants, holding a canned drink and lifting the skirt of a woman wearing an Islamic hijab to reveal her naked bottom.

Muslim activists of different organizations stage a protest against French President Emmanuel Macron, near the French Consulate in Kolkata, India today

Muslim activists of different organizations stage a protest against French President Emmanuel Macron, near the French Consulate in Kolkata, India today

Muslim activists of different organizations stage a protest against French President Emmanuel Macron, near the French Consulate in Kolkata, India today 

Muslim activists from various organizations participate in a protest against France, near the French Consulate, in Kolkata, India today

Muslim activists from various organizations participate in a protest against France, near the French Consulate, in Kolkata, India today

Muslim activists from various organizations participate in a protest against France, near the French Consulate, in Kolkata, India today 

Muslim demonstrators shout slogans during an anti-France protest near the French consulate in Kolkata today

Muslim demonstrators shout slogans during an anti-France protest near the French consulate in Kolkata today

Muslim demonstrators shout slogans during an anti-France protest near the French consulate in Kolkata today 

‘Our battle against these rude, ill-intentioned and insulting steps will continue until the end, with reason but determination,’ Turkey’s Communications Directorate said.

State media reported that Turkish prosecutors had launched an investigation into Charlie Hebdo’s executives.

The row has its roots in a knife attack outside a French school on Oct. 16 in which a man of Chechen origin beheaded Samuel Paty, a teacher who had shown pupils cartoons of the Prophet in a civics lesson. 

The French government, backed by many citizens, saw the beheading as an attack on freedom of speech, and said it would defend the right to display the cartoons.

Macron has said he would redouble efforts to stop conservative Islamic beliefs subverting French values.

Students of Jamaat-e-Islami party shout slogans during an anti-France protest in Lahore today

Students of Jamaat-e-Islami party shout slogans during an anti-France protest in Lahore today

Students of Jamaat-e-Islami party shout slogans during an anti-France protest in Lahore today 

Students of Jamaat-e-Islami party shout slogans during an anti-France protest in Lahore today

Students of Jamaat-e-Islami party shout slogans during an anti-France protest in Lahore today

Students of Jamaat-e-Islami party shout slogans during an anti-France protest in Lahore today

Somalis march during a protest against the publications of a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad in France and French President Emmanuel Macron's comments, along the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia yesterday

Somalis march during a protest against the publications of a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad in France and French President Emmanuel Macron's comments, along the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia yesterday

Somalis march during a protest against the publications of a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad in France and French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments, along the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia yesterday 

France’s foreign ministry on Tuesday issued safety advice to French citizens in Indonesia, Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq and Mauritania, advising them to exercise caution. They should stay away from any protests over the cartoons and avoid any public gatherings.

In Cairo, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said freedom of expression should stop if it offended more than 1.5 billion people.

The Grand Imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar university, one of the world’s most eminent seats of Sunni Muslim learning, urged the international community to criminalise ‘anti-Muslim’ actions.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo today condemned what he called ‘terrorist’ attacks in France, but also warned that remarks by President Macron had ‘insulted Islam’ and ‘hurt the unity of Muslims everywhere.’

Conservative Islamic organizations in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, have called for protests and boycotts against France, sharing an image of Macron as a red-eyed devilish snail.

‘Freedom of speech that injures the noble purity and sacred values and symbol of religion is so wrong, it shouldn’t be justified and it needs to stop,’ the Indonesian leader, who is known by his popular name Jokowi, said in a televised address.

He added, however, that ‘linking religion to acts of terrorism is a massive mistake. Terrorists are terrorists.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Actor Stanley Baxter, 94, reveals he’s gay in new biography

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actor stanley baxter 94 reveals hes gay in new biography

Stanley Baxter is one of the most successful entertainers of his generation and for many years had his own Bafta-winning TV series.

He was married for 46 years, but beneath his cheerful exterior lies a man tortured by the fact he is gay.

In this remarkable new authorised biography, which Stanley originally refused to have published before his death — for fear of being judged — journalist Brian Beacom reveals the secrecy and sadness that have haunted the entertainer all his life.

Stanley Baxter (pictured) was married for 46 years, but he reveals in his new autobiography beneath his cheerful exterior lies a man tortured by the fact he is gay

Stanley Baxter (pictured) was married for 46 years, but he reveals in his new autobiography beneath his cheerful exterior lies a man tortured by the fact he is gay

Stanley Baxter (pictured) was married for 46 years, but he reveals in his new autobiography beneath his cheerful exterior lies a man tortured by the fact he is gay

The most outrageously funny man on British television 50 years ago was Stanley Baxter. His sketch shows were months in the making and the talk of the nation — spectacular, controversial, unlike anything ever seen.

Baxter staged full-scale MGM musicals and played every role. He could sing, dance, deliver broad panto comedy and perform pinsharp impressions of any star, male or female.

His act was so daring that he was probably the first TV comedian to impersonate the Queen. With silk gloves up to his armpits and a tiara, he announced himself as the Duchess of Brendagh and delivered a Christmas message that talked of the Queen Mum as a priceless antique.

Millions were scandalised — and breathless with laughter. In a television era rich with comic talent, from Morecambe and Wise to Tommy Cooper, Dick Emery to Mike Yarwood, everyone agreed Stanley Baxter was king.

What none but his closest friends realised was that Baxter was desperately unhappy, his personal life a battlefield. He lived in dread of being exposed in the press as a gay man.

His wife Moira, from whom he was separated, was tormented by mental illness and had attempted suicide by cutting her wrists in the bath. Baxter himself often spoke of wanting to die.

Today aged 94, he lives as he has for 25 years — a virtual recluse at his flat in Highgate Village, North London. For decades he has hated to venture out: ‘I didn’t want to be seen as someone who was once Stanley Baxter,’ he says.

The showbiz world is rife with tales of heartbreak, loneliness, wasted talent and regrets. Of all those stories, it is hard to imagine anything more sad than this one.

He first asked me to write his biography more than 20 years ago, but was emphatic that he did not want it to appear while he was alive. Baxter would tell the whole truth, on condition that it remained a secret. Even though Moira was dead from an overdose by this time, he was sickened at the thought that his sexuality might become common knowledge.

When his friend Kenneth Williams’s diaries were published posthumously in the early Nineties, he fought a legal battle to ensure nothing about his sex life was printed. By 1999, he was fearful that an unauthorised biography might be commissioned against his wishes. To pre-empt that, he agreed to let me tell his story . . . but not to publish it. ‘I’m too afraid of what people will think of me,’ he said. ‘I got into this business to be loved. I don’t wish that to stop.’

Stanley and Moira (left and right) on their honeymoon in London in 1952. They were married for 46 years

Stanley and Moira (left and right) on their honeymoon in London in 1952. They were married for 46 years

Stanley and Moira (left and right) on their honeymoon in London in 1952. They were married for 46 years

This year, he changed his mind. He’s willing to let the world decide for itself. But it would be wrong to imagine he has found peace. ‘There are many gay people these days who are fairly comfortable with their sexuality,’ he says. ‘I’m not. I never wanted to be gay. I still don’t. Anyone would be insane to choose to live such a very difficult life.’ He adds, his voice dark: ‘The truth is, I don’t really want to be me.’

Stanley Baxter was a star on the Glasgow talent circuit aged six, in 1932. Dressed in a sailor suit, his hair tonged in waves, he did impersonations of Laurel and Hardy, and Mae West.

As his mother Bessie, a blacksmith’s daughter, accompanied him on the piano, the boy belted out saucy music hall numbers with titles such as I’m One Of The Lads Of Valencia: ‘You can’t beat a Spaniard for kissing, Oh ladies, just think what you’re missing!’ He loved the applause — ‘a hundred people shouting ‘Bravo’ and I’m beating the adults to the prizes’. But more than that, he feared his fiercely ambitious mother. ‘She probably felt if she praised me I’d try less hard. I began to be scared someone else would do better than me on stage, and my mother would clatter me.’

Since he was a toddler, Bessie had taken him to vaudeville shows. She called him her Sonny Boy and, as his precocious talent emerged, had him perform at every family gathering.

As he grew up, she was intensely jealous and would shoo away any girls who admired him: ‘She started telling me about these two boys who once took a wee girl into a haunted house up the road and did terrible things to her. And they were birched! Beaten with sticks.’

His family remained in Glasgow during the Blitz at first, a teenage Stanley and his mother sheltering under a dining table during the bombing. Later, they decamped to an island outside the city.

In 1944, his call-up papers arrived. Too short-sighted for active Army service, he was afraid of being assigned to the merchant navy and the Atlantic convoys, but instead he was ordered to report to the coal pits, as a ‘Bevin Boy’ — one of the conscripted mine workers.

By then, he had fallen in love for the first time. He says now that he’d known for years that he found men more attractive than women, because at the Saturday morning cinema club he could not take his eyes off the half-naked Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan, rather than Maureen O’Sullivan’s Jane.

But he did not understand what he was feeling till he met Bill Henry, a schoolmate with blond hair and a taste for intellectual books. Bill had girlfriends, but he spent almost all his spare time at the Baxter house, sitting in Stanley’s bedroom and talking till the small hours about art and philosophy, ‘until we fell asleep, exhausted’.

Stanley Baxter as the Pantomime Dame in "Jack and the Beanstalk" at the King's Theatre, Glasgow. January 1977: Talented Stanley could sing, dance, deliver broad panto comedy and perform pinsharp impressions of any star, male or female

Stanley Baxter as the Pantomime Dame in "Jack and the Beanstalk" at the King's Theatre, Glasgow. January 1977: Talented Stanley could sing, dance, deliver broad panto comedy and perform pinsharp impressions of any star, male or female

Stanley Baxter as the Pantomime Dame in “Jack and the Beanstalk” at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow. January 1977: Talented Stanley could sing, dance, deliver broad panto comedy and perform pinsharp impressions of any star, male or female

‘I was in love with Bill,’ Stanley says, ‘but he certainly wasn’t in love with me. He probably knew the way I felt about him. Although we’d spend lots of time in each other’s beds, nothing happened.’

Until, inevitably, it did. ‘It was like a 3,000 volt electric current going through me. In that moment, I thought the world had changed. Afterwards, I gasped, ‘Have you done this before?’ And he said dismissively, ‘Oh yes, I’ve had all my friends’.’

For Bill this was just sexual experimentation, and he would later reject a sexual relationship with Stanley, preferring women. He died aged just 26 and Stanley was heartbroken.

After the war in Europe was over, in June 1945, a 19-year-old Baxter was told to report to the Seaforth Highlanders regiment. He was sent to India, and then further East to Burma, where he was promoted to corporal and assigned duties as a typist (Class 3). There, he saw a notice appealing for performers to join the Combined Services Entertainment unit [CSE]. ‘If you can sing, dance, play a musical instrument or whatever,’ the announcement read, ‘please apply’.

Auditions were in Singapore and, after arriving there in December 1946 by flying boat, he was taken under the wing of a stooped, grey-haired man with a dusty moustache and a strident, nasal voice.

It was the future Carry On star Kenneth Williams, also barely out of his teens but playing an old man in a CSE production. He took an immediate shine to Baxter.

‘He just liked the look of me, I guess,’ Baxter says, ‘which wasn’t always the way with Kenny and people. We became close, without it ever being more than friendship.’

It was in CSE that Baxter met openly gay men for the first time. Instead of gaining the confidence to join them, he shied away, repelled by the high camp — ‘all chiffon hankies and make-up and flouncing about. I thought, I really hate this. I don’t want to be involved in this kind of world’.

Baxter resolved to repress his sexuality when he returned to Glasgow two years later — to live, as he put it, ‘as a straight actor’.

He joined the Citizen’s Theatre Company in the Gorbals, an idealistic group performing Ibsen and Shaw to working-class audiences. And he met Moira Robertson, a 22-year-old who had worked her way up from the wardrobe department to the stage.

Chic, with hooded eyes, Moira could have been Bette Davis’s younger sister. ‘I liked her,’ Baxter says. ‘I admired how fashionable she looked. She was far more bohemian than me.’ They became lovers. ‘It was partly a feeling of, ‘I’ll show them,’ he admits. ‘I could be as heterosexual as the rest of them.’

She was in love with him — and Baxter believed he was falling in love with her. He told Kenneth Williams as much. ‘Silly boy,’ the actor noted pithily in his diary.

On December 23, 1950, Williams made another note in his diary: ‘Stanley wrote to say he is going to marry Moira.’

Beset with doubts, he confessed to Moira that all his previous affairs had been with men. Her reaction was dramatic. Rushing to the window of their second storey flat, she climbed out onto the ledge and shouted, ‘If I can’t have you then I won’t settle for anyone else.’

To pacify her, Baxter promised they would marry, if she would consent to wait a year. ‘It was real weakness on my part,’ he says now. ‘She guessed wrongly what being with a gay man entailed.’

What it did entail was years of loneliness, beginning on their honeymoon night. Overwhelmed by the knowledge that he was making a mistake that would ruin both their lives, Baxter sat on the wedding bed and sobbed.

He soon gave up any pretence of being faithful, or heterosexual. ‘I couldn’t put up with very long periods of not being with men,’ he says frankly. ‘Thankfully Moira was very understanding. If there were someone I were interested in, I could bring them home. And she was very good about letting them go to bed with me. She would go off to our bedroom and let me take the one opposite.’

They moved to London and Moira gave up the theatre, to be a housewife. Her husband’s career blossomed, with a series of cinema roles that led to star billing in films such as The Fast Lady.

But fame made his clandestine life even more risky. In January 1962, he visited the public toilets in Madras Place, Holloway, hoping to pick up a man for casual sex. Instead, he was arrested.

The decriminalisation of gay sex between consenting adults was still five years away. Baxter was charged with soliciting for sex. ‘I was going to top myself,’ he says. ‘I thought, ‘My career will never survive this. And if I don’t have a career, what do I have?’ ‘ Friends suddenly shunned him, fearful of guilt by association.

His agent advised him to engage the celebrity barrister David Jacobs, who had recently won a libel case for Liberace when a newspaper implied the flamboyant entertainer was gay. Jacobs convinced the court that Baxter could not have been ‘soliciting’ when he was arrested because, apart from two policemen, there was no one else in the lavatories.

The charges were dropped, on condition that Baxter promised not to sue the police for wrongful arrest.

But even today he finds it difficult to discuss the case, referring to it as ‘le scandale’. He was left with a terror of being held up to public shame.

At the same time, Moira’s mental health deteriorated. She was desperate for a baby, something Baxter refused to contemplate. ‘I didn’t want to bring any child into the world who suffered what I suffered. A wee’un would surely have grown up with problems and taken drugs.’

He left for a theatre tour of Australia in a Brian Rix farce, leaving his wife behind. ‘Anybody else would have gotten rid of me but she was devoted. Fixated,’ he says.

Stanley Baxter as panto dame May 1985: Baxter was desperately unhappy, his personal life a battlefield as he constantly lived in dread of being exposed in the press as a gay man

Stanley Baxter as panto dame May 1985: Baxter was desperately unhappy, his personal life a battlefield as he constantly lived in dread of being exposed in the press as a gay man

Stanley Baxter as panto dame May 1985: Baxter was desperately unhappy, his personal life a battlefield as he constantly lived in dread of being exposed in the press as a gay man

When he returned, he decided to seek medical treatment for his sexual urges. Therapy proved useless: his psychiatrist, learning that he was married, advised him simply to return to his wife.

Instead, Baxter told Moira he could no longer live with her. In 1970, with The Stanley Baxter Show a huge BBC hit, he moved out of their house and took the apartment in Highgate Village that would be his refuge for the rest of his life. He relished the opportunity to live in pristine order, with a housekeeper to keep the place spotless.

He met Moira daily for lunch. She talked of killing herself, but he was shocked when a friend called round to find the front door wide open — and Moira in the bath, the water crimson with blood. She recovered in hospital and wrote to her husband, insisting, ‘I’ll never do something so foolish again.’ But there was no chance of a reconciliation.

After switching to ITV with the promise of a colossal budget for The Stanley Baxter Picture Show, he met a 28-year-old German accountant named Marcus. Baxter was 46, and thought their two-day fling would be no more than a brief encounter.

‘Marcus took me completely by surprise. Something was happening between us but I didn’t wish to acknowledge the fact. He kept phoning all the time, telling me there was something special between us. I didn’t want to know, but gradually I was falling in love.’

Moira’s behaviour became more alarming. She visited the LWT studios while her husband’s show was recording, and danced in the lobby when she was not allowed onto the stage. She danced too in the gardens in Highgate Village, naked.

‘She told me she was hearing voices,’ Baxter says. ‘She would think the television was talking to her.’ A psychiatrist diagnosed schizophrenia, but she refused to take medication.

There were few people he could tell of his worries. Certainly not Kenneth Williams: ‘I remember sitting with him in an Italian restaurant, and telling him that I was very low. I explained a great part of the problem was Moira. I told him of how she was slipping into little overdoses, and I would be going round to see her and reviving her. ‘And suddenly Kenny cut in, ‘Yes! Yes! You’re not much fun any more. A bit boring! Very boring!’ ‘

Marcus was a constant support. But Baxter’s anxieties were channelled into his work, and his perfectionist instincts became overwhelming. Stanley Baxter specials became vanishingly rare: one at Christmas 1976, the next at Easter 1979. Exasperated, his ITV television bosses told him they could no longer afford his extravaganzas.

He returned to the BBC but, after a one-off in 1986 in which he played 37 roles (including Mae West, whom he first impersonated aged six), that contract also ended. He went on to star in a children’s series called Mr Majeika, about a schoolteacher who is actually a wizard.

But rejection and the stress of his double life had chewed away his confidence. Baxter began to turn work down — not playing Captain Hook in a production of Peter Pan opposite Lulu, not appearing with Cannon and Ball at the Palladium. ‘I turned down too many parts . . . almost as often as a chambermaid turns down bed sheets.’

A dreadful fantasy played in his head, that he would suffer a heart attack backstage during panto season and be found dead on the floor of the dressing room.

Instead, he withdrew from the showbiz world. His relationship with Marcus deepened and continued until the younger man died of lung cancer four years ago, though the two never lived together.

He saw Moira frequently, but the fractured marriage was always difficult. In 1997, he decided to spend a month at the villa they owned in Cyprus. She wanted to come, too. Feeling she was too ill to travel, Baxter told her she must stay in London. He took her passport, to prevent her from trying to follow him.

‘It was then she physically attacked me. She punched me and my glasses flew off. It was the one and only time she had ever reacted in this way. But immediately afterwards she was so sorry.’

Later that week, Marcus visited her — they got on well — and found her nursing a dying pigeon by the fire. It had been run over in the street. ‘One wounded bird helping to look after another,’ Stanley said.

When he called her from the airport, on his return to the UK several weeks later, she didn’t answer. Anxious, he took a taxi to the house. The front door was open. Moira was dead on her bed from an overdose. She was 69 years old.

He had always felt guilty for marrying her. He felt guilty for the many affairs and the new partners. He felt guilty when he moved out, unable to share a home with her any longer.

And now he felt incredibly guilty because at the very end, he wasn’t there — to do what? Say sorry? Say goodbye? Or just give her the only thing she had ever asked for — to be with him.

  • The Real Stanley Baxter by Brian Beacom is published by Luath Press Ltd, £20. © Brian Beacom 2020. To order a copy for £17.60 go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193. Free UK delivery on orders over £15. Offer price valid until 06/11/2020. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Bernie Sanders: ‘Democratic Party became party of coastal elites’

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bernie sanders democratic party became party of coastal elites

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) claimed Thursday that the Democratic Party has become a ‘party of coastal elites,’ emphasizing that they needed to start ‘bursting out of the blocs in an effort to protect working people.’

In an appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers, Sanders criticized the party from getting off track when it comes to meeting the needs of working class people.

Seth Meyers seemed to be in agreement, acknowledging that the party has gotten away from America’s working class, to which Sanders nodded in agreement. 

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) made the comments while appearing on Late Night With Seth Meyers on Thursday

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) made the comments while appearing on Late Night With Seth Meyers on Thursday

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) made the comments while appearing on Late Night With Seth Meyers on Thursday

Meyers then asked Sanders what former Vice President Biden could do to ‘bring the Democratic Party back to serving the working people in this country’ if he won the election.  

‘I think it is fair to say that in many ways the Democratic Party has become a party of the coastal elites, folks who have a lot of money, upper-middle-class people who are good people, who believe in social justice in many respects,’ Sanders said, Newsweek reports. 

‘But I think for many, many years the Democratic Party has not paid the kind of attention to working-class needs that they should’ve.’

Party demographics have shifted as more donors and businesses fund campaigns, Sanders asserted. He then stressed the need for Democrats in Congress to ‘start bursting out of the blocs in an effort to protect working people.’ 

Sanders has been working on a 100-day program to help the party move in the right direction, especially if it gains control of the Senate. 

Sanders stressed the need for Democrats in Congress to 'start bursting out of the blocs in an effort to protect working people'

Sanders stressed the need for Democrats in Congress to 'start bursting out of the blocs in an effort to protect working people'

 Sanders stressed the need for Democrats in Congress to ‘start bursting out of the blocs in an effort to protect working people’

Sanders emphasized the importance of passing a 'very substantive' coronavirus bill that was similar to the one passed in March by Congress. Pelosi signs the March bill

Sanders emphasized the importance of passing a 'very substantive' coronavirus bill that was similar to the one passed in March by Congress. Pelosi signs the March bill

Sanders emphasized the importance of passing a ‘very substantive’ coronavirus bill that was similar to the one passed in March by Congress. Pelosi signs the March bill

Sanders emphasized the importance of passing a ‘very substantive’ coronavirus bill that was similar to the one passed in March by Congress

Under the Vermont politician’s proposal, the weekly $600 payment that supplemented state unemployment benefits would be extended and an additional $1,200 would be given to individuals and families.

Sanders also stressed the need for the government to provide health care to anyone who might have lost it and to provide aid to cities so that they don’t have to furlough or lay off workers. 

The senator also voiced his support for raising the minimum wage to at least $15 while making it easier for workers to join unions. He also advocated for women to receive equal pay for their work, compared to their male counterparts.  

‘If the Democratic Party does not stand firmly for working families and have the courage to take on the drug companies and the insurance companies and the big money interests, shame on them,’ Sanders said.  

35074972 8900189 image a 12 1604155625611

35074972 8900189 image a 12 1604155625611

Sanders has been working on a 100-day program to help the party move in the right direction, especially if it gains control of the Senate

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