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I saw a photograph of a drag queen the other day. It was beautifully lit and taken by a dear friend of mine who has a soft spot for ladymenladies. She was in full regalia, among an animated crowd at Brighton Pride. She was looking down, away from the camera, like she was off duty for a minute. It got me thinking that a quiet drag queen, one who is not laughing, switched on and ready to menace audiences with ribald repartee, is kind of like an old fashioned seaside town out of season, a windswept rainy beach in November.
I saw a woman in the park on my way to work. The morning dew was just beginning to steam off the grass. There was no one around and i had to check that i wasn't seeing things. She was wearing a full length fur coat and sitting on a damp log at the edge of the woods. A great dane was standing point next to her, sniffing the wind. Because of her fur coat, against the brown leaves, she was disguised, like a bear. If i hadn't been looking right in her direction, i would have missed her altogether.
I came into the bathroom and closed the door behind me, leaning on it, a damp towel at my back. I sat down to pee and flicked through a copy of an ikea catalogue that was two years out of date. A pair of flip flops lay askew on the bath mat, the label on the sole worn down to a few letters. I wiped, flushed and buttoned then turned to wash my hands. The pump dispenser nozzle had turned itself away from me as though we were having an argument. It squirted the soap all over the dirty sink.
I have a theory that men only wage wars because they don't bleed. If every month they had to watch fat blood clots pumping out of the end of their dicks, while their testes contracted in painful waves, if they had to wash out their bloody underwear at 5 am under a cold tap in winter as the vivid gobs of blood coagulated briefly in the plug hole before disappearing, if they had to retrace their steps with a wadded tissue finding droplets of blood on the parquet floor, maybe, just maybe there would be no such thing as war.
What it is about people who are boring? They talk, they don't pause for breath, they dominate situations. They don't check your vitals. Are the eyes glazing over, are you trying to escape? What if i had a party and invited only these people who just talk on regardless of anyone listening. Everybody knows somebody like this. Let them bore each other, why not? A team of anthropologists and psychologists would watch their odd interactions and study them from behind two way mirrors. Are there tiers of tedium? Echelons of insensitivity?, levels of lethargy?, in a competition, who bores...wins.
The woman on the hot bus smelled like sour milk. In close confines, with only so much window to open, you can't avoid breathing in. It reminded me of when i crawled inside the hatch of what i considered to be an abandoned ice cream van. It smelled sweet, curdled, and rotten. Milky ice water sticking wetly to paper wrappers, oozing into wooden sticks and swelling them. I ate stale cones and cadbury flakes gone brittle and white. I slurped soft cider barrels, strawberry mivvies and cherry brandies. I started feeling ill before i even got back to my house.
A young guy sits opposite. He has a huge scar gouged out of his left cheek, it looks old, maybe as old as him. He has a fat infant on his lap who is refusing to sit still and being annoying. She looks at me with no expression of human warmth. I smile at her and get zero reaction. She then sets to wailing. The dad looks on, embarrassed but unable or unwilling to engage her other than occasionally looking up from the backlit face of his mobile key pad, to show it to her as a form of entertainment.
How many times have i lain half asleep in an gentle early morning daze. Birds singing outside the window in a summer blooming garden. On my back, with my tousled head on the pillow, arms outside the duvet, pinning it to my sides. In how many countries have i woken, not knowing where i am for just a second, then thinking i am at home in my childhood bed. How many half formed thoughts, part remembered dreams have awoken with me, all the forgotten ones flying past and around me like arrows rushing by endlessly with no final resting place?
In a particular central London Indian restaurant, the lighting makes everyone's skin look a peculiar shade of green and every enlarged pore on their face stand out in glorious 3D. They mix mango lhassies in an extremely loud blender which makes normal conversation by civilised people nearly impossible. When a passing waiter asked, 'is everything OK with your food?' it seemed peevish and inappropriate to complain about the general ambience about which he could do little. We decided in the end that the best course of action would be suggestions for improvement via an anonymous note left in the bathroom.
Sometimes, business lunches are excruciating in their tedium. Listening to people who do not know each other, entertaining themselves with tales of picky, precocious and dreadful children. The preserve, since children were invented, of the intellectually challenged with no other common ground, and no inclination to find any. I always feel like social loafing is in order because if no one else is prepared to pick up the baton of decent conversation then why should i? Conversation is a dying art, the back and forth of a properly balanced chat is becoming as lost to this generation as hat wearing.
Outside a lock up garage, on a busy, well, busy for there, road in the village of Midhopestone sit five middle aged men on mismatched garden furniture. A decorators table has been dragged out from inside and is covered with low wooden boxes. The men are passing pigeons back and forth among themselves, examining their beaks, feet and feathers. They somehow don't seem as scabby as the pigeons in London. These country cousins seemed quite content about being handled and offered no fight or flight. Spying this scene driving past, i wondered what it is about pigeons that people fancy?
She was freezing cold, it snowed last night and although she wore long johns and five layers, the cold still bites through. She has constant hat head, that winter hair problem. Everyone has it. If she puts no product in her hair, then when the itchy wool is removed, she is working a look like a sleek but retarded otter. With product, when the hat comes off to enter a hot diner, she resembles an eighties lesbian who is wilfully making her hair look this way. She would shave her head but for the extra layer of warmth it affords.
An old man was found dead in his home, surrounded by upturned furniture, bruised on his head and limbs and partly dressed. The doors and windows were locked from the inside and there is no sign of forced entry. This is the hide and die syndrome where people are found dead after burrowing under things. Shelves, bookcases, under beds and behind wardrobes. Just thinking of his last remaining hours, pulling furniture all around himself, alone, is heartbreaking. Surely a remnant of a deep instinct which is seen in animals from cats to cockroaches. The desire to curl up and die.
An old lady sat on a bench and looked so much like my dead grandma that my eyes immediately filled with tears. She had a plastic Lidl bag grasped in her hand that looked old and worn, as though used often. I could see that there were just a few items of shopping inside it. Her walking stick was in her other hand, which was pale and veiny and hadn't seen much sun. She had that bright eyed look that the old sometimes get, as though they are becoming children again, their sparkly moist eyes shining in their papery faces.
We got some new knives which are the sharpest cutters i have ever used. When i needed to cut something, i pulled at a handle that was buried deep in the dishrack, thinking that it was a new one. I felt protective of it, wanted to put it in its block, to take care of it. Then i realised that it was an old one that we had bought 2 years ago in Woolworth's. I felt a sharp stab of disappointment, oh no, not you i thought. Then i felt guilty for forgetting about a long trusted tool so fast.
Lifting his head from the dividing window, he leaves a greasy smear. In a booming voice he says 'where we at now?' in a squeaky high register return she says 'hidey park'. 'Oh.' he says. She has her lips pursed, really concentrating and watching as each station appears into light from the gloom of the tunnel. Her large glasses making her appear owlish. I think she is wearing a wig. I wonder if they have robbed a bank and are in disguise. A necklace and matching earings sparkle when she moves. Both of their clothes are covered in food stains.
'Where we at now gal?' They just keep saying the names of the stations like talismans, as though by doing this they will divine where they are and where they are meant to be going. She's wearing a bobbly beige skirt which is riding up way above her knees. Her giant handbag is clutched on her lap along with what looks like plane tickets just poking out from her grasp. A striped beige and pink blouse with a ruffled front pokes out, from between the faux fur collar of a leopard print coat, trying, and failing, to get some attention.
The lady sitting opposite was quite a character. If she had been 20 years younger she would be classed as a cool new raver. Oversize sunglasses with white rims, and a gold blouson jacket straight from the back of an eighties wardrobe. Gold T bar sandals with american tan tights, thick denier, like support hose with runs, not quite ladders, more scrapes. Her thin legs were pushed uncomfortably far apart, joined at the ankle but splayed at the thigh. I can hardly bear to look because i am terrified that she will get off before i can finish describing her.
He was wearing a crumpled dirty blue suit. Under the suit jacket i could just see a green shirt. Grey socks with a red zig - zag pattern and skinny black scaly legs, badly in need of moisturiser grew out of broken down at heel shoes. He was tall, thin and toothless. Bald but for a few wispy hairs. A weird look on his face like he doesn't quite believe what you're telling him. Drunk, passed out but staggering up quickly every few minutes to look with glazed eyes at the map while speaking in an indeterminate language in a low register.
Two men and one woman looked respectable enough to be walking around a village or filing out of church. But for the cans of cheap lager in their hands they would have drawn no attention. Talking in that laboured way of the very drunk and staggering a bit. Then the quiet citizens turned nasty. The two men starting trying to wrestle the handbag off the woman who resisted noisily. I started to approach to intervene when a community policewoman told me to chill as this is a drama that's played out all day every day between the three of them.
He had never been dumped before. The intense passion he had felt for the boy had to go somewhere. He berated him, he grizzled under duvets and into his friends shoulders. He cried at the unfairness of it all. The callousness, the unconcern. He had disappeared, like death. So he mourned. But instead of railing against the fates, he railed against the boy. For his actions. For his lack of action. For his handling of things, for his not handling of things. The boy wouldn't communicate with him, showed no sorrow and no remorse. He had never felt so abused.
I have just finished rereading the book, The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. First published in 1951. First read by me aged 13. ts all about how after a bizarre comet display in the night sky, the majority, having watched it, go blind. Then while totally defenceless they are attacked by walking plants with deadly stingers. Books like blindness and the concept of films like 28 days later might never have happened without this work. Interestingly, people of the late forties are much more genteel than their modern counterparts even light swearing is simply a series of dashes.
The animals who live in the house with us are pro hunting. This much was made obvious to us when we found a terrified bird smearing blood along the skirting board in the living room. It was so scared it wasn't even flapping around as birds will usually do under pressure. It just sat there in the corner, its beady eyes flashing. We grabbed the cats out of the room, protesting in burmese the entire time and set to catching the feathered friend. It flew immediately from my cupped hands as i entered the garden, one of the lucky ones.
Is it fair that people who know how to lip read on a plane get to watch the in flight film for free? While i am forced to buy headphones if i want to understand what the hells going on. Surely people who can lip read should be identified at the beginning of the flight and be blindfolded to even things up a bit. I peevishly think i should take up lip reading, but the cost of the lessons and everything would outweigh the outlay of a pair of their rancid, god who knows whose ears they've been in headphones.
The person in charge of safety on the plane was a lady whose name i think was asthma. I could hardly understand what she said because she talked so fast. personalelectricalitems..seatbackin theuprightposition, i think that was what she said. Her words all ran together as though she was doing a TV commercial and had to cram in as much as possible in a short space of time. Air India was the same, but less friendly. In an 8 hour flight i didn't see one member of the crew smile. Table down madam. what is it that you want madam?
The guy next to me asked for a whiskey. She poured him six fingers and his eyes nearly popped out of his head. This gave him the courage to immediately start chatting up the girls to his left. The guy on the other side was a grungy lennie kravitz type. Huge stinky dreads,stained black sleeveless tee, filthy leather trousers. He kept on yawning loudly , raising his beefy arms above his head, his big mouth wide open. His hairy armpits right at my face level. Charming. He kept digging in his crotch, god knows what was going on in there.
A woman sits on a park bench in Washington square. Her hair is dyed blonde and pinned up in an approximation of office chic circa 1968. Most of it is falling down into her ears in little tendrils. In one hand she holds a bottle of tomato ketchup . She wears a lacy blouse and a black pencil skirt that has been turned over many times at the waist in order to keep it from falling down. Her once peach shoes are now dirty and black and her swollen ankles are swelling out her holy tights that have seen better days.
I recently had to instruct a friend on the finer points of how to manage after a shit when you don't have any toilet paper. She wanted to use a sock. I protested. You'll never get the smell of poo out of sock fibres i thought. Just wash your ass love, with soap and water, i said, just pretend its a bidet. Coming from up north, her concept of a bidet is quite foreign, something to be suspicious of, something to be avoided. She managed in the end. As people have managed all over the world for thousands of years.
The second choice holiday rap was called Sam, a fat blonde lad who was never going to tan, even if he stayed here all summer. He said laydeez and gennermen a bit too often for my taste but i believe that his heart was in the right place. He mangled classical history like he was trampling olives at the end of the season with the natives. He told the assembled group about the island's patron saint who was famous for looking after the mentally deficient of the island. A perfect choice for him and the lobsterfied second choice holiday makers.
Went out for Sunday lunch while feeling jaded from a hangover. It was £10.50 but you could have soup and salad as well. I was very disappointed indeed. The waterlogged vegetables managed to be floppy yet undercooked at the same time, rendering them tasteless and devoid of nutrients. The Yorkshire pudding was strangely dense and floury. But the worst crime of all were the roast potatoes. Which were soft. I was outraged and protested in the best British fashion. Complaining throughout lunch to my long suffering other half, leaving most of it and then walking out vowing never to return.
There are new litter wardens roaming the streets with the power to fine people who they spot littering. They are incentivised by how many people they catch and can earn up to fifty grand a year. I become apoplectic with rage most days at the sight of these feral people chucking their unwanted items in the street, heaving their junk food wrappers out of their car windows after they have squatted and gobbled in a side street. I would earn the top whack I'm sure, and i would have supreme job satisfaction, in fact, i would never be off duty.
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