London welcomed me back to her petrol scented bosom with a strike on the Underground. The second (of four) buses I was fortunate enough to squeeze onto this morning, nearly ran over a Lollypop Lady and managed to hit the back of a car, throwing us all out of our seats. Consequently I will tell you all about my Spanish adventures once the swelling goes down and I get my sense of humour back.
It’s a slow news week…
Rejected Ideas for Posts.
"I’m reading some really good comics lately."
Talk about how I enjoyed peanut butter on toast this morning, and allude to a crucial moment in my childhood where peanut butter featured / was an inciting incident to some revelation that would aide me in later life.
An essay on Communist Cuba.
A poem involving Luke.
Freaky people on the tube: a Series.
# 109 Elbow Room Wars
Bitch about how I didn’t enjoy A Home at the End of the World
and say that I won’t see the film, even if it does feature Colin Farrell’s dangly bits. And then change my mind.
How broke I am.
That I’m disappointed that people don’t update their blogs more regularly when I’m exceptionally bored.
The first time I ever bought porn.
When I was 19 I went through a 6 month period of reading über trashy gay novels. The cover art was almost always two men sitting on a park bench in soft focus. One of them would be wearing a red jumper.
The reason I remember it so vividly is because I moved up to Auckland to go to Drama School and a city with a million plus people gave me the courage to get these books out from the public library
. You couldn’t do that in Tapanapui. The fear of being discovered with a copy of Men on Men Volume 6
was enough to give me palpitations.
However, the blissful anonymity of a big city didn’t completely settle my heart. I would hide the offending book in between some other, more sober volumes. I would walk to the checkout. I would smile
. Then I would wait. The librarian would dodder. A queue would form behind me. I would smile
. She would scan the books, one by one, placing them to her right after she’d stamped them. She would pick up Men on Men Volume 6
. I would become aware of how I was standing, with the weight on one leg. I would shift it to the other leg. I replayed the scene in my mind - the prissy little weight change thing - and my face would flush. Quickly I’d balance the weight on both legs before anyone noticed, knees locked, staring straight ahead. The librarian would scan the barcode of Men on Men Volume 6
, stamp it and place it on the pile. Exposed. “Create a diversion! Create a diversion!” yelled my brain.
I’d cough. The noise would explode through the gentle burble of the library. “Look at me, I’m coughing! Don’t look at the book! Don’t look at the book! Watch me as I clear my throat!”
So you can imagine what I was like when I first bought porn.
More Imaginary Meetings
I want to meet Louise Dean
and give her a bottle of wine. I know she lives in France so I’ll probably take a New Zealand Chardonnay and hopefully she won’t put it straight into her fridge. If she opens it we’ll have to drink it warm, but I don’t mind; I’ll imagine it’s best served at room temperature. And hopefully we’ll drink a toast to her novel Becoming Strangers
because it’s a goody and I thoroughly recommend it. In case you hadn’t noticed.
On Saturday morning, Susan and I woke (relatively) early to go to the Markets at Portobello Road
in Notting Hill. I made one purchase; a wood stamp of two boy scouts pointing at something which will be perfect for the next Gaze
. Susan bought the CD of a Gypsy folk band we heard play. She’s kinda arty like that.
That's Susan on my left.
I was on such a high last night that I didn’t feel like going straight home. Olly, Lorna and Sam have a drop-in policy on weekdays so I walked to their house from Stockwell Tube Station, the streets eerily quiet due to the England vs. Switzerland “pop the gas oven on would you love, just incase we don’t win” football match (the Guardian
had a great piece describing how to change the St George flag into the Swiss one using origami in case we lost).
Now, believe me when I say I knew that Luke might
be coming over too but in my defense I planned my visit to be little more than a quick cup of tea before I headed home to do some writing. We’d barely started on said tea and biscuits when Luke turned up with wine and a big grin. As anyone who plays rock/paper/scissors knows, wine beats tea. Half a glass full disappeared seconds after it was handed to me. I didn’t gulp, I just sipped rapidly.
There are moments when the world conspires to create a scene dripping with so many clichés that not even the shlockiest writer would touch it. That’s where I found myself, a few hurriedly sipped glasses of wine later, sitting across from Luke, helping him run lines with Lorna. He was Craig. I was Mark. Apparently they’d slept together but Craig was afraid of his feelings. Mark wanted answers. Where was their relationship going?
“But I love you,” revealed Mark.
“You don’t even know what that means,” rebuked Craig.
Method acting has never been so easy.
After we’d finished I carefully placed the script in the middle of the table. Luke picked it up.
“Thanks for that!”
“It was fun,” Lorna said, lighting a cigarette.
“It was fun.” I repeated, putting the emphasis on the was
“You want to know what else was fun to read?” Lorna asked, after Luke had excused himself to go to the toilet. She turned to exhale smoke. “Your blog,” her eyes gleamed, “I had a good long read of it today.”
You rock, wanna french?
Not only did somewhat
make my day by popping on the up
on their delicious website cheek to cheek with other writers (who, might I just say, are all delicious) but then an hour ago I get an email from ID Magazine
– “Thanks for sending in a copy of 'The Gaze'. There were some wonderful pieces in there. I will be passing it on to Terry for more feedback. Really interested in seeing the next issue - please send addressed to my attention.” You want, I could, you know, come into the office and just sit and smile at the wall for a few hours too? And I don’t know who Terry is, but between you and I, he’s the man I’m gonna marry.
Lizzie has a boyfriend. She didn’t think she would because of this other guy who I don’t like to bring up because it was such a hard break up and I came over to her house and she apologised for breaking plates on the floor, but not the good ones. She was friends with her new boyfriend for a while and described him as quite posh and so I had this image of him playing Polo and having sticking out ears.
I’m going to Barcelona. Kate and Tom were going, and then Sam too and then there was room for one more and Kate made such a good case for me to go - and secretly I’d walk over hot coals - that now I have a ticket and over the next week and a bit, until we go, I’ll drop into conversation that I’m heading to Spain, especially to those I haven’t seen in a while.
Lizzie brought her new boyfriend to her house to meet her friend the other day, and for a moment she wanted to hit him because he was meeting someone important and he might not say the right thing and there was much at stake so she was very pleased when it all went well and afterwards she cuddled up with her boyfriend in her bed that was so little it made his feet stick out.
I’ve never been to Barcelona even though our friend Diana has been living there for almost a year and in every email she says “come and visit” and she’s already organising what we’re going to do and I wonder if it will look like a city made out of orange clay because when I think of ‘Barcelona’ that’s what I see; a city made of bright golden termite mounds.
So Lizzie has a boyfriend, and I’m going to Spain.
Dinner last night at Charlie’s. Kate held her glass of red wine between her breasts, lost in thought. Inhaling, she looked at me, the wine sloshing slightly.
“And you’re not going to play him? You really like him? Because it could get complicated with Olly...”
I covered my annoyance at the player
remark (noting that even the most mild mannered homo seems like a sex-crazed Lothario to the average hetero girl) and tried to look as sincere as I thought I felt.
“I think I do. He makes me sit up and pay attention.”
“And on Sunday there was definitely something between the two of you?” Trinity asked, leaning over her empty plate and poking the leftover bowl of salad with her fork, her dark, tightly curled hair bouncing against her caramel coloured cheekbones.
“Sing-ing Luke!” sang Charlie in soprano for the third time that night. To differentiate between a few Lukes she’d taken to singing his name because of his own habit of bursting into song.
“Well…” The list of evidence in my head, so convincing before, seemed trite now sitting in front of the dinner council. “I just got a vibe,” I said finally.
Kate cocked her head and stuck out her chin slightly. “Do you know what I think? We’re going to see a lot more of Luke - he’s over at Lorna’s most of this week learning lines – so let it evolve naturally. Don’t forget he’s just come out of a relationship.”
Charlie and Trin nodded.
After a short pause I nodded too.
“Softly, softly it is then.” I said.
Day Two: The Luke induced stomach twisting continues. Very soon I’m going to need an antacid and a good lie down. Stupid boys.
I’ve changed my site feed to a new feedburner
one. After reading and re-reading the website several times I still have absolutely no idea what that means, but it appears to a be a good thing and something I should alert you to if you are being “fed”.
I haven’t found a way of including this article
I found recently, but it’s one of the best pieces of writing about HIV I’ve ever read. Oh look, I just included it.
And finally, I’ve removed The Prince & the Green Glass Cradle
because I’m submitting it to a few writing websites and they get all uppity if you self-publish. But if you didn’t manage to read it simply drop me an email with the title 'fairytale' and I’ll send it to you.
If you hadn’t noticed I’m feeling very nonchalant when it comes to men. I can’t say I’m too worried, but I am slightly bemused at my new outlook. I guess I miss the white-hot crushes and fly-by-night romances of the pre-Will Drew. Maybe I’m just not meeting the right guys (The Brazilian, by the way, turned out to be a right nut
and I'm currently looking into several witness protection schemes in the local London area).
Yesterday was sunny. There was an important football match in the early evening and it seemed everyone was making the most of the good weather to get well and truly tanked before the game. Not being particularly big sports fans, the Scoobies took the opportunity to get well and truly tanked anyway. Olly and Lorna had placed sheets and duvets in the garden, and, for general effect rather than a means of abating the sporadically scorching heat, a small electric fan. Lorna and Olly, always revelling in the role of host’s supreme, made a Pimms punch in a metal bowl, and after we ran out of cigarettes to smoke, Terry - the friend who’s been staying with them since he arrived from South Africa, made thick handmade cigarettes with a green roller, the filters coming loose after a few puffs. Katy sat in the shade following a night on the sauce and frequent trips to the bathroom in the early hours. Sam was there; Gavin. The only proper guest was Luke. Sam and Luke had been to a party the night before and were taking the time to warm themselves on the duvets like lizards, before heading inside for any proper amount of sleep.
Luke and I have a wee bit of a history. Almost two years ago we shared a passionate kiss at a club after a weekend long gay pride celebration. It was a perfect kiss: the music soared, we’d both chewed gum a few moments before and so our minty lips locked together in equal parts lust and tenderness, the right mix, a perfect mix. Play on funky house music, play on! Let your sweeping violins and guitar solo’s herald a new era when Luke and Drew will come together as…
Unfortunately we lost contact after that, and it wasn’t until a few months later that we got all smoochy again. Luke’s in the biz
, so he was often away rehearsing or performing. He moved in different circles and at that time I was still unravelling London myself, trying to make it my own. Truth be told, there was something about his charisma that made me wary of calling him.
However, the next time we met there was more kissing, most infamously in a Jacuzzi (but, in my defence, I did insist that we have one foot outside the Jacuzzi at all times). Even after a confusing mobile text (my humour, as I’ve discovered the hard way, does not translate well into 100 characters or less) we still felt compelled to meet for a proper date. I really liked him; he was quick and feisty and when he talked people turned slightly in their nearby tables to hear what he had to say.
We went for a beer and afterwards I remember thinking “that went well” but the next time we saw each other he informed me that it wasn’t going to work. Something about an ex-boyfriend. Something about him being complicated. I felt foolish and a little hurt; like I’d been awarded a prize and it had been taken back on a technicality.
As Luke is a good friend of Olly’s, I turned the whole event into one of my bitter old women routines, spitting “good-humoured” vitriol about him whenever his name was mentioned to save face. The shtick worked so well that, until yesterday, I’d almost completely forgotten why I liked him in the first place.
He hadn’t changed much. His hair was still trimmed short and his face scrunched up the same way in the sun. Luke’s not classically handsome, yet I could never imagine him feeling intimidated when he met someone who was. Sitting on the duvets he told us about the new play he’s in that will have a season in New York (and which, I noted to myself conceitedly, was a “gay play” so had less credential, Big Apple or no Big Apple).
Sam was resting his head on Luke’s leg and, as Olly observed, they both looked like they were “on the verge”, so I played much more distant than I’m used to, ironically trying hard to appear as nonchalant as possible. We drank the punch and when nobody was looking, I counted the freckles on Luke's back and noted that his body was like an adolescent boys – solid like a man's, but not overly defined, his legs connecting to his feet without the need for ankles. Despite trying the ol’ cool approach I was intensely aware of the body language between Sam and Luke. I don’t think I was jealous – but I was compelled to watch. It may have been wishful thinking but there were moments when I felt a little spark between Luke and I. He rested his foot on my knee or slipped his hand so that his fingers would brush my lower back. When we did speak, we chatted animatedly; the subject briefly turning to our failed attempt at dating.
“Well, you were playing hard to get.” He said, squinting.
Me playing hard to get? I’ve never played hard to get in my life. Could he have forgotten the jaccuzzi incident? Nothing in that turgid pool of lukewarm water was in the least bit “hard to get” - I have witnesses to prove it.
Soon after, when Sam announced he was going to finally get some sleep, there was an audible hush as we waited for Luke to make some excuse and join him. But instead he stayed in the garden. We were all quite drunk by now. The football game had started and the neighbours would occasionally roar in unison when someone on the telly scored a goal.
“Look at you with your curly, flowing locks” Luke teased, watching me, “You look like someone from…”
“Wuthering Heights?” I offered, saying the first thought that popped into my slightly inebriated head.
“Yes,” he said extending a hand to flick a wisp of hair behind my ear, a strand that had escaped due to sun and sweat, “Wuthering Heights, that’s it.”
Next door, the crowd went wild.
On the bus ride home I realised we must have lost the big game. Dejected looking punters rolled up St George flags as they filtered out of pubs together. I didn't exactly feel victorious myself. I’d wanted to get Luke’s number - but then what would I say? I still couldn’t fight the notion that it was something about me, some flaw, that had been the real reason we hadn't worked out. Maybe I did play hard to get?
When I arrived at the house I noticed a man in an “England” shirt sitting dejectedly in the gutter opposite my front door. He alternated between cradling his head in his hands and staring at the ground by his feet. Normally I would have laughed to myself as I shut the door but this evening I felt like making him a cup of tea and patting his shoulder.
I’m back at work today, not because I feel better, but because I couldn’t stand another 24 hours of critical self-reflection and daytime TV.
Yesterday afternoon, at around 2 o’clock, I received a call from the 22 year-old Brazilian model I met on the weekend. We’d planned to catch up in the evening so I’d text him to say I was feeling under the weather and probably couldn’t make it. But Brazilians, like most Mormons I’ve met, don’t take no for an answer.
“How are you?”
“Grumpy. I’m on the way to Boots to get some ear drops now.”
God, did I just say that? I didn’t even try to be nice. I feel a little reckless. And slightly dizzy. I hope I haven’t got tetanus. Oh God, the Sun is so bright. I feel awful.
“I’m really sorry to hear that.” Hey, you and me both, buddy
“So, do you think you‘ll still want to meet up later?”
Didn’t you just hear me - I’m ill. S.I.C.K! I possibly have lock jaw! At any moment I might keel over in the main street of Balham and strangers will go through my wallet to find my name, and they’ll say “Andrew? Is your name Andrew?” to which I’ll come round slightly and reply “Actually, most people call me Drew…”
“I’d really like to but I don’t think I’d be very good company.”
And my mouth tastes like rancid milk. Honestly kiddo, I’m doing you a favour here.
“The only thing is, I’m going away to Spain for a shoot for two weeks tomorrow and I was really hoping to get to know you.”
Ah, he really wants to see me. I don’t know if that’s really sweet or really needy. Why does it instantly make him more attractive when he mentions going on a “shoot”? I’m such a modelizer. Oh that reminds me, I shouldn’t be surprised if I find out that he supplements his career with prostitution…
“Well, maybe. I’m sure I’ll feel better after I get some ear drops.”
And my breath will be better after I scrub my throat with bleach. Perhaps I could meet him later; maybe it would be something to look forward to. He is very pretty.
“If you want, I have some medication” Erm…?
“My Mother is a doctor and she has these pills that will clear you up.”
“I’m allergic to penicillin. If it has any penicillin in it I could die.” WTF? Did I just say “I could die”?!
“I don’t think they have penicillin. I’m really sorry if I’m bugging you, I’m not normally like this. I’d really like to see you; I could look after you. I’ll cook us dinner. We wouldn’t have to do… anything.”
Ah, but we would, sexy 22 year-old Brazilian model, we would; death breath or no death breath. But I’m too vulnerable just now. Like a kitten. And, Jesus, how whiny am I? And I can’t make up my mind if you’re just a really sweet guy or a bit of a bunny boiler...
“Well, let me call you in a few hours and see if I feel any better, ok?”
He sounds disappointed. Aw, now I feel bad. Hang on; don’t put the guilt on me! I’m ill dammit! I have enough of my own guilt, without this emotional blackmail, you shitpig!
“OK, bye. I’ll talk to you soon!”
“Bye. Look after yourself.”
And the other highpoint yesterday was when Lizzie called to congratulate me for my inclusion in the literary magazine, moments after I’d spilt a thick drizzle of pasta sauce right down the front of my t-shirt.
Do you want the good news or the bad news?
The good news is that Kate came over last night and I cooked a frittata and it turned out quite lovely.
The good news is that I received an email today informing me that On the Up
is going to be included in the summer edition of a Literary Magazine.
The bad news is that the right side of my throat is swollen and my ear hurts and I think I’m coming down with something.
I’m all recovered. Feel happy and bonny and gay again.
It’s hot today. Vicious rumours going round that it’ll top 29 degrees. My lower back is moist from the excursion of making a coffee and drinking it. I’m a bit of a sweater, me. I find it embarrassing especially when people say “Ew, you’re sweaty”.
"Yes, I am,” I reply, wiping my eyebrows. “It’s a mechanism my body uses to cool down so that I don’t overheat and die.”
The kinder people - or fellow sweaters - always tell you some nonsense that perspiring by the bucket load is a much healthier occupation than being dry and austere. Apparently we work through the toxins faster. Apparently.
When did sweat get so gross? It goes hand in hand with smelling bad, I guess. We don’t like terrible smells, it offends us. Luckily, I don’t smell when I sweat - well, hardly ever. I’m naturally quite a neutral smelling person. I haven’t relied on my judgement either. Oh no, I’ve asked around. The general consensus is although I may be a bit moister than most folk, I definitely don’t smell bad.
Some people say it’s attractive. I try not to be sceptical. I can understand that one man’s kvetch can be another man’s come-on. Pheromones in sweat are basically our randy hormones. Ironically, every deodorant and anti-perspirant commercial, since the dawn of advertising, has inforced the opposite concept: “IF YOU SWEAT YOU WILL NEVER EVER HAVE SEX WITH THAT ATTRACTIVE BOY/GIRL AND WILL ULTIMATELY DIE ALONE.” A new campaign has sexy mermaids trying to capture young men, with the slogan “Girls prefer dry guys.” The message is clear: “IF YOU SWEAT YOU WILL NEVER HAVE SEX WITH A GORGEOUS MERMAID AND YOU WILL ULTIMATELY DIE ALONE.” Really they should be saying "IF YOU DRINK LOTS OF WATER AND MAKE SURE YOU WASH REGULARLY THE PHEROMONES THAT ARE PRODUCED NATURALLY IN YOUR SWEAT WILL HELP ATTRACT A MATE" but I guess they wouldn’t sell much roll-on that way.
I bet Jennifer Anniston never sweats. Actually I read somewhere that actress’s get their sweat glands sown up so they don’t spoil their fabulous dresses. I think they can inject botox or something and it clogs up the pores. There are numerous mags in the UK dedicated to intrusive images of stars without make-up, blinking, eating, sweating; the glimmer of perspiration highlighted and magnified in another grainy box with the caption “Pamela Anderson Sweat’s like Pig!” just in case we didn’t quite get the gist - so I can’t blame them.
God I’m hot again. I shouldn’t have had that second coffee just now.
I’ve gotta bad case of the Monday Blues, not helped by frantic deadlines, spontaneous meetings and a warm distracting breeze.
And then this other time, I went on a weight watchers diet
Oh forget it.
Every time I walk past the poster a part of me shrivels up inside. And of course the bloody things are all over London. It show’s six bright young things sitting strategically around a warehouse, looking to all the world like the cover of Vanity Fair
. “RSC” it explains, “Season of Lovers. Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About…” But what concerns me isn’t the line-up. I love them all (well actually, Midsummer Night’s Dream
I can take or leave). It’s the twenty-something-just out-of-RADA trying-very-hard-not-to-look-smug actors on the poster with their fresh hopeful eyes and nice hair. I was like that once.
I’m older now and I don’t want fame and riches like I did when I’d first finished Drama School. It’s been so long. I just want to perform again.
After half a bottle of wine, Susan complained that she never has the energy to go out so I made her get ready with me; I even shouted affirmations through the bathroom door while she showered. She didn't half kick and scream though. Once in the West End, we met Ricky and half-watched the ultimate Friends
episode before moving to The Shadow Lounge. Susan, despite her initial reservations, danced up a storm.
Avec hangover, Susan and I distributed The Gaze
around Central London. Felt like I was scattering my artistic seed. Susan suggested we hide to see if anyone picked up a copy. At 5pm I met Lizzie and we went to see the band Phoenix
play at the Mean Fiddler. Drank beer and fell in lust with the singer’s voice. Afterwards I checked at a bar and found that all The Gaze
had gone. Travelled to Clapham Common and had a late beer with the Scoobies, went back to Sam’s house, drank vodka and passed out on the sofa.
Found my way home by 2pm and had to rush to get ready and meet Sam and Katy. We took the Tube to "the Famous Shoe Designer’s" house and bought a bottle of £4 white wine, but after we arrived they popped open a magnum of champagne. As we left the house for the Club, the Designer ran down the street in a one-off leather jacket with long tassels along both arms so that as he hailed the cab, he looked like some crazed man-bat attacking the car.
Spent the day painting and reading. In the evening I met Kate and Tom at Ladz
where I showed Tom his interview and Kate recounted the Homeland's Music Festival; paddocks peppered with lost, wide-eyed teenagers high on magic mushrooms.
Received my first feedback. Although he was “impressed” he didn’t think much of my cover art.
“The picture on the front was bad. Marked it out as amateur (which is fine, but...). As ‘A Level Art’ it would have got a C. Or a B-.”
Sheesh, everyone’s a critic.