It probably seemed like a good idea at the time, we were young, and stupid
It was late one evening, I seem to recall it was around November, and all the pubs had already closed so there was very little to do. Very little that wouldn't get us in to trouble, that is. So, the flat was missing something, and we decided that that thing was a yellow, flashing street light, the kind of thing they put all around road works. Seeing as we had some friends round and two cars were there begging to be used an idea came to someone's mind, I seem to recall it was Ben. The plan was to divide into two teams, each with a car, and then we were to head off into London to look for the lights. The car which returned with the least lights would buy the other team drinks, or something like that. Daft, huh? What can I say..?
First stop , petrol, and we argued on the forecourt about the rules. What rules..? I don't have a clue. The other team sped off as soon as they had filled up, and one of my team, John, yelled at them out of the car window. I don't remember his exact words, but "fuck off" was in there somewhere... Just at that moment (what perfect timing, and it wasn't to be the last time John's timing bore fruit that night) a police car passed on the street in front of us. As those words left Johns mouth they four policemen in the car turned to look at us, and we all looked at them. They sped past and slowed down. "I'll lose 'em", Carl said with a grin and we tore off in the opposite direction and headed down a narrow back street. The rest of us in the car were in a kind of shock, what the hell was going on..?
We did a left, a right and then Carl looked at me with a kind of confused look on his face, "Hold on" he mumbled, "we haven't done anything yet..." He stopped the car. At that moment there was a squeal of tires on tarmac and the police car shot round the corner behind us. Four hearts in our car stopped. Another police car appeared out of nowhere at the junction in front of us. I realised this was not a good night.
The second police car then left, the first didn't. The police came to our car, for some reason they looked kinda pissed off. After they checked us out, frisked, the usual, we found out why they were not happy. "What did you yell at us when we passed you at the garage..?" So that was it... Johns big mouth. We spent about ten minutes explaining that he yelled the delicate words at our friends in the other car, and eventually they believed us. "Just take more care about what you yell", one of them warned us and that was it, we were free. Maybe we should have gone home at that point, but experience only comes with time, so off we went looking for the lights...
Even though it might seem absurd, after one hour we had found just two lights, and one of them didn't work. We decided to head for the city hoping to come across better spoils. Crossing Bethnal Green High Street we noticed that in the middle of the road there was one light on a broken traffic light.
I thought that it was a waste of time stopping for just one light, and said so, but John was already opening the door. "Wait till that car passes!", yelled Carl. No good. Too late. I looked through the back window of the car and saw the comical figure of John running in to the middle of the road, picking up the flashing light and sticking it under his long coat. Something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. A distant car was coming towards us, and it was accelerating hard. Not again...
Yes again. It was a police car, but not just any police car. Oh no, where would the fun be in that? It was the same police car as earlier. Oh good. They must have been bored, and fans of Starsky and Hutch as they seemed to want to leave most of the tyre rubber on the road by swerving and slamming the handbrake on. I would have been almost impressed if I wasn't wondering how to hide. Oh, and if it wasn't for the fact that that sort of thing doesn't impress me in the slightest. "You stupid bastards!" was the first thing we heard. "Nice to see you too, officer", I thought...
Two policemen stayed with Carl and I, whilst John was grabbed and bundled into the back of the cop car. It then sped off and disappeared down a little alley. That wasn't a good sign. The words 'Police brutality' came to mind. With relief the car backed out of the alley and I realised they were just turning the car around. Now we all got bundled into the car, it was cramped, and we got a free ride to the station, down the wrong side of the road. I think they were trying to make up for the fact the car didn't have any blue lights to flash. Poor guys. Poor us actually, I had pieces from two lights in my pocket (I'd dismantled them to turn them off. If they frisked me and found them, would they want to look at our flat..? What if our friends had stashed some lights there too? Nicking one light was a prank, but five, or ten...
There are two ways of getting into Bethnal Green Police station: the front door or the back door. The latter takes you in past all the cells. Guess which we got to see? Once past the dregs in the cells we were shown to the Desk Sergeant who actually seemed to think all this was very funny. I really didn't feel like laughing. Once it was clear what we had done, who we were and where we lived we were left in a corner to feel uncomfortable for about 23 minutes. All the time I had my hand in my pocket holding the bits from the other lights.
Eventually we were summoned, it was punishment time. The Sergeant was asking the policeman who had brought us in what charges they should press... "Well, Jim. We could do them for conspiracy to steal streetlights, a major crime if I ever heard one" and he laughed. Then he got serious, "I'm not going to write your names down because you don't want your names written down by the police...", hmm, he is so right. "I want all of you to hold out your hands" so we did, what on earth was going on?
I guess I should have expected something stupid, but not this stupid... It is pretty ridiculous having the back of your hand spanked by a fully grown policeman in front of a load of his colleagues whos smirks have now turned to full on laughter, but we were about to be set free. Not so fast though, on our way out Jim informed Carl to take the light back to where we had stolen it, but there was a condition, he had to hold it on his head.
So we walked back up the high street and Carl did look a treat with his flashing "hat", thankfully it was about 02:00 in the morning and there were hardly any people about. We had decided (finally) to give up the game and go home, Carl in particular was not happy, it was all Johns fault and now he was carrying the light on his head. A car came towards us and as they passed we turned to look at them. Inside the car three policemen and a dog turned to look at us. I swear even the dog looked at Carl with disbelief. We kept on walking...
We heard the car turn round and follow us. As always the handbrake was the chosen method of slowing down (it creates an impression, I reckon) and they lept out. "What the hell are you doing with that light on your head?" Why did I know they were going to ask that. We explained what had happend, and that this was the idea of a joke of their colleague Jim. They called in on the radio, reported our progress, laughed a bit. The dog barked.
When we finally got home the flat was empty, no lights in the hallway so maybe we had a chance with our two lights. Maybe not. Half an hour later the rest of the guys got back and opened up Bens room and showed us the 'haul'. 75 flashing streetlights in all their glory. There were versions on legs, versions which turn on when it gets dark and off when it gets light, square ones, round ones, square ones with round bits on top, old knackered ones and nice new ones. They had won, it was obvious, and we didn't give a damn either way.
Kids, don't try this at home...
I'd got most of my life in bags around my neck and running through tube stations I was building up a good sweat. I made it to the airport and I was late.
Straight to the Kuwait Airlines desk and I stood in line, waiting, sweating. Just as I got to the desk I noticed those nice signs that say, "Are any of the following objects in your luggage..?"
Oh shit! Batteries...
I'd wrapped my ghetto blaster up in three or four sheets and it was full of batteries. I started to panic, I had to open up the luggage, pull everything out just to throw the sodding batteries away.
Sweat was trickling down my back.
The girl at the check in was waiting, I was the last person...
After repacking I had to put the luggage on the scales, I'd forgotten about the allowance too. Instead of the 23 kilos I was allowed I had just under fifty. That explained the sweating, and the fact that it was hot but in order to save weight (no, really) I was wearing my motorcycle boots and leather motorcyle jacket. Whoever was going to sit next to me was not going to enjoy their flight.
The girl looked at me, I must have looked quite dodgy.
"You are almost 30 kilos over the allowance, you will have to pay £10 a kilo..."
I felt like I wanted to cry.
I explained I had no money, she said I would have to leave the excess baggage.
I explained I was going at not coming back.
So I had to pay, she reckoned, and I told her I had no money...
I think you get the idea. For what seemed a long time we went round in circles until some guy came running over yelling, "What the fucking hell is holding us up? We are ready to go!"
The girl explained the problem,
"Fuck it!" he said, "get him on the plane", and so I had a ticket and I ran (just so I could build up the sweat a little bit more) to the gate.
Now, my timing was perfect, Kuwait Airlines ten days before the Gulf war broke out, and everyone on that plane was a bit nervous. Before they would let me on they had me take off my boots to check inside them, open my hand luggage, they even wanted to open my CD player but I explained I needed current to do that.
As I stepped on the plane I looked at my ticket. "Weird", I thought, "row number 3?". That should be at the front of the plane, in first class...
And it was, they checked my ticket at least half a dozen times, but it was there in black and white. Apart from the prayer to Allah before take off which was all about asking his divine intervention to make sure we got to our destination (not exactly confidence inspiring) it was a very civilised flight. Loads of room, silver knives and forks (which meant the hostess stood behind me waiting till I finished eating so she could take them away again) almost fun.
So with the usual ups and downs I arrived in Italy.
“Mom! No, it's not OK” and without a glance to her friends or the fellow passengers on the bus, people who would think twice about spending what amounted to their monthly wage on a pair of 'shoes'. “I keep on telling you,” ah yes, and then here it was... “There's a problem”.
It's always “a problem”. Never admit fault. Never confess guilt. Never give the hint that it might be “her fault”, or that this “problem” might be anything less than earth-shattering. Third World famine was nothing but a slight stomach rumble between servings of cake in comparison to the travesty that was rupturing her very existence this afternoon in the midst of her 'holiday'.
This was amazing, the limit had been passed, life was at its worst. Someone or something had gotten between the “victim” and her desire to consume. There were products that needed consuming, services that needed experiencing, but only after being paid for. This was the crux of the problem, things that needed paying for. With a work experience that amounted to the equivalent of taking out the rubbish when the maid had been dead for six months and parents were abroad for work, earning meant as little to her as climbing K2. Money came in every week when she stamped her feet, or as and when she needed a new car. How can someone appreciate the true worth of an object, or anything, when all they need to do is stamp their feet and whine like a baby to get anything? This would all be the norm if she was child, if she was grown up in anything but age. Alas it was not the case. Here was a 28 year-old acting like an adolescent, which was exactly what she was. Here was an entity that had been spoon-fed till puberty and then spoon-fed some more. Breast feeding had begun with milk, and then it had carried on with a bank account that was automatically topped up by “fairies” whilst she slept the night away (or passed them taking drugs and flaunting her “wealth”). The world was her oyster, opportunities were not pearls for her, they were carefully placed on her path so she could not make a step without tripping over one. Pearls that became so commonplace they seemed a hindrance. So easy they became that she could turn them down, knowing there was a better one waiting for her should her tears be just that little bit more “convincing”. Imagine your dreams, imagine what you would call your ideal career. Now imagine one day you got it, on a silver plate, with flowers strewn in the drive as you drove down it in a recently given car. Now imagine you turn it down because you didn't like getting up before 7 in the morning. So cry some, and make it convincing.
And now it was convincing. “Mum, I tried to use my credit card”. There was a slight tremor in her voice: this was important, this was a catastrophe that ruptured the very foundations of her pampered existence. her credit card was not how mere mortals viewed “debit cards”. Oh no, this was a piece of plastic that carried wealth, joy, friends, and it was never closed. Somehow this card was a bottomless key to a consumer's wet dream, and here the “never-never” lasted forever. Here the buying power was total, and there was no comeback, no debt at all (apart from nagging parents, displeased at her latest tattoo or piercing). Here was the bastard offspring of rebellion at its worst, rebellion with a trust fund. Rarely do I see grown adults cry for so little, but here it was close, the bile in my throat was hard to swallow. “I tried to use my credit card” - and that should be Your Credit Card of course, but I digress – “and it didn't work, they said there was no money!” The horror, the shame, the fairies hadn't come, the bottomless pit of gold had dried up. The distant pleading of a parent desperate to satisfy a child could be clearly heard. Now she had the higher ground, justice was on her side, “I've told you a hundred times”, pause, “That bank is crap, useless. Now what do I do?” A pause, an excuse, an offer came from across the evening sky, but it wasn't enough. “No! I can't wait till next week”, hope was disappearing over the horizon, a horizon that was as black as night...
“I need those shoes!”
So let's go back to the beginning it seems a good place to start, I don't have the patience to try a Memento: everything backwards - kind of reality. Life is complicated enough. So, there was this girl, there usually is, sooner or later.
Just for a change I saw her one night in a club. I didn't know it at the time but I must have seen her many times in the past.
Probably she had skirmished the deeper parts of my psyche years before, but without breaking through. Something that night just stopped me,
and now I wish it hadn't. If only I hadn't seen her,
it might never have happened, but fate wasn't on my side,
not then and not much afterwards either.
As always I watched, and did nothing.
Who was she?
Why hadn't I seen her before? Why hadn't I noticed? I watched her some more. I had to make up for lost time.
It carried on like that for a little while.
Days became weeks.
She wasn't there often, but when she was I just stared. Frozen to the spot.
Then I discovered who she was, and that she was not single.
Not what I wanted to find out, so I tried to stop staring. For a while I even succeded. But the best made plans of mice and men usually fuck up sooner or later and it all went funny. No, not funny, strange.
I saw her again, and as always I just couldn't stop watching her, and I got this feeling, this sensation that she was looking at me too.
At first I dismissed it. Nah, not so. It can't be, but it might be...
Sometimes there was almost a smile too, fleeting. The slightest upturn of the outer limits of those lips, lips that could swallow everything but my fear. So I hid.
I never had the courage to approach her. A thousand times I came close, or so I tried to convince myself.
It wasn't true.
Then I remember one night something strange happened.
I was with a friend of mine dancing on the dancefloor and that girl came close and danced in front of me.
A smile. Stealing glances...
Ha! I should write a song about that. Oh, I did...
Then my friend collapsed on the floor. No, that wasn't the strange bit, oh no.
He did that a lot.
Alcohol is a terrible thing,
sorry, I'm smiling now.
So he lay there on the floor like a big baby and I grabbed him and propped him on his feet.
She helped. How sweet.
He smiled, said he was ok and we all kept on dancing.
I felt the relief, he was ok, I could concentrate on the girl.
Which is what I did till I noticed my friend stagger off, I turned to watch him,
make sure he was ok.
He propped up the bar and didn't collapse again so I decided he was big enough to do that on his own.
Then it happened.
A hand touched my cheek and turned my face.
the one I was going to lose it for, everything for,
just touched me.
She just turned my face away from my friend, and towards her.
She wanted me to watch her,
wanted my attention,
all of it.
I still couldn't do anything.
I couldn't move, let alone talk to her.
So it carried on like that.
Till one day I'd driven my friends up the wall again with my constant lamenting about
how I would never have the courage to talk to her.
So they forced me.
I hold you responsible.
For the good bits at least. Azrael threatened to go and try with her. I decided that if he could,
I could. So I went to her, and told her the truth.
The truth was that she terrified me.
That I wanted to speak to her so much,
but I was afraid.
She asked me why.
I couldn't answer.
She held my hand and smiled. "but your hands are so cold!", she said,
and she held them both, as if she would warm them.
And so, as I sat there terrified, we talked.
Those eyes. Those lips.
Why do I still want them?
We talked about relationships. When I told her I believed in that whole monogamy thing she told me I was like a wolf.
One partner, forever. She also said that pigeons do that.
I am still not convinced about that though.
I like to be wolf, but a pigeon? Nah...
Then I asked her, I had to.
I said, "I think you have a boyfriend though..."
She replied, "I think I have one too..."
Why did she answer like that?
Anyway, it was enough.
We danced, I froze.
It ended there.
For a while...
Things just had to get heavier, more confused, mixed up, messed up, fucked up andhe was slowly beginning to realise he wasn't just digging his own hole here, his own grave even, but he was also falling deep down into it.
But it was a ride he wanted to see to the very end, bitter or otherwise, whatever the end might be...
Sit back and relax. The story starts right here:
So she sent him a message early that afternoon which seemed to call off their date: "sorry ma stasera non possiamo vedere (sorry but we can't meet tonight). after 00 is too late 4 me..." Which kind of pissed him off a little bit (like a hell of a lot of a little bit) till he scrolled down and read: "VA BENE ALLE 23??(is 23:00 ok??)".
"Funny fucking girl", he thought.
"Just love a girl with a sense of humour, sometimes."
So she picked him up at eleven and they went to go sit in front of a church up where the tram passes behind the colloseum. They drank some red wine and they chatted, as usual about everything apart from 'them'. Then as the wine was almost finished 'in vino veritas' kicked in and they started talking about more personal things.
Not for the first time she asks him why he wants to meet her like this. He isn't sure whether she is very naive, blindly oblivious or whether she just wants to hear him say it. He's wearing his emotions on his sleeve this evening so he tells her. He tells her that his feelings pass from a very physical attraction to being very curious about her and who she is 'inside', whether she is the same on the inside as she is on the outside.
"And how is that?" she asks.
"Beautiful" he replies.
He also tells her he is quite sure she feels the same way about him. Signals he picked up from her in the months before. He was also thinking, "Would you meet someone at one in the morning on appia antica, a secluded, out of the way place (their last 'date') just because you were curious..?" He doubted it. So...
She absorbs his reply, but doesn't confirm or deny anything. Just says she is in fact curious about him, but that for the moment she doesn't want to hurt her (recent) ex and even just meeting with him when they are "doing nothing wrong" she says ("shame", he thinks) would hurt her ex and she thinks he isn't ready for this.
He prods a little bit, maybe she will go back with her ex, but this possibility she excludes totally. "If you say so, dear...", is what the nagging voice says in his head. So this is why she keeps her distance in the clubs now. She also tells him that she doesn't remember any of the things she might have done to give him the idea that she was interested in him. No recollection of all those stares, the smiles, her hand on his face to make sure he watched her dancing...
He almost believes her, is there another girl who looks like her? Mistaken identity? Multiple personalities? Can't be.
His heart begins to sink, this time he was wrong...
Then she tells him they have to go to a club as a girl friend of hers has something for her... They park round the corner at a discrete distance and they enter seperately. All very silly. He dances a bit, chats with some friends. He wasn't really dressed for the occasion but he felt like he was a good looking guy tonight and for once he feels ok with the world.
He chats a bit with her as well, nothing too suspicious. She gives him her car keys to look after and he has to admit that made him feel a little bit better, he had left his bag in her car and was beginning to worry that she might disappear again.
As the night progresses she tells him she'd like to stay to listen to some music and her friend still hasn't turned up. So he keeps his distance from her and keeps on dancing, trying to forget all around him, maybe he needed the beat to hit him where it hurts..?
Then at about 3.00 things get confusing, he starts to think maybe she isn't that interested in him when all of a sudden she comes and stands at his side. He tells her that he wants to put his arms around her but he knows he can't.
Her reply is to get very close and ask him
He tells her it was her idea, to keep a distance, to not arouse suspicion.
She presses herself against him and tells him he is a very good person, bravo, but he feels like a bravo idiota...
They go to sit down on a bench on the side of the dancefloor and they start talking about the music, getting on to old bands, old music, nostalgia and such things. The music is loud so their faces are very close, straining to hear each others words. Then she puts her face next to his and their cheeks touch. They hold their breaths, at least he held his, and they stay like that for a long, long time, an eternity. So long he feels the blood rushing through her cheek, so long he feels the minute hairs stand on end, so long he feels the warmth pass from her to him, so long it must have been about 5 seconds probably. Then she slowly turns her face towards his...
A line from a song he had written came to mind, "then it happens, now we're kissing, now we know what we were missing..."
That song was coming true, every day a little bit more.
There were just 3 gentle, delicate, lips to lips kisses, he counted them, afterwards he remembers each one like 3 different books he might have read. Then abruptly she backs off with a really scared look on her face. He guesses she has just realised what they were doing and is worried about being seen, and she isn't the only one, the club was full of people they both knew.
He wants to make sure she knows why he was resisting the impulse to pull her close, so he tells her he wants so much to kiss her but it was her that said they should not even talk too much in public. She nods and asks him to go away. He waits till she asks him again, he wants to make sure she knows he's going because she is asking him to... Now she asks him in English. He must be hard to resist at times...
He moves away and goes to dance yet again. He doesn't hear the music now, he just feels something curl up into a ball inside him.
The evening drags on and he starts to get very bored, restless till it all ends, damn nearly 5 o'clock in the morning...
They impatiently wait till they are the last to leave, turning down invitations to go to some bar afterwards. He wants to get her on her own, he wants to feel those delicate lips again. Does she want the same thing? He hopes so.
They go to her car. Who saw them is anyone's guess. The whole world and their dog he reckons. Ho hum...
Heads will roll. His mainly.
They go back to his place. As the car pulls up at the door he looks at her without a word and she says yes, she'd like a coffee, so in they go.
She hates coffee, he knows that, she knows he knows that.
It is all part of the game.
They talk, by now she is not the most sobre person he has ever seen, and she seems rather nervous too. She insists he turn all the lights off so he can see her illuminous bracelet, so they remain like that in the dark with the dawn trying to get in through the curtains, sitting next to each other on the bed in the living room.
She gets closer to him, still closer, till she rests her head on his legs... He is stroking her hair when she starts to run away, again...
She has to leave, with a reasonable excuse this time, she starts work at ten and the clock is mentioning the number six followed by zeroes. Then she seems to change her mind and gets closer again, then she backs off. I think you get the idea of how they passed the next half hour. They never quite get close enough to make contact, but it is always so close.
They listen to some music, his song comes on and she asks him to translate the words for her, words she doesn't yet know he wrote for her.
"No words, we're just dancing. Uncertain of what we're chancing. No chance of romancing. No touching, just glancing. I can't talk, I just listen, just look at how she glistens. Don't move, or people talk, don't stop, just walk..."
She slowly realises the song she had danced to just some days before, sung the words to even, was about her. They sit in silence for a moment. Eventually the part of her that was running away wins and they reluctantly head for the door. In the dark hallway she kisses him again, on the lips. Then she lowers her head, stuck in no mans land, not sure whether she is going or staying. He strokes her face, says the things we all want to hear. He wants to kiss her and he tells her so.
He kisses her cheek, brushes her lips with his, delicately tries to raise her head. It is very dark. He doesn't want to force anything, she has to want it too. His hand is on the side of her face. She takes it in hers, and slowly pulls it down until it is gently cupping her breast. He feels frozen to the spot, he doesn't pull his hand away, why on earth would he want to?
Silence. Darkness. Just their breathing.
She turns and they kiss for one brief moment, then she opens the door and slips off into the dawn without turning round and without a word...
Now what? He has no bloody idea.
What does it all mean? He tries to sleep and eventually succeeds.
He sends her an sms later that afternoon asking if she made it home ok...
The reply comes back: "bad headache but in one piece."
His turn: "Good, feel like meeting me later tonight? The more I know you the more confused I am, but not about what I want..."
He knows she has to ask,
he wouldn't have said it if he didn't want her to ask,
and of course she does,
"what do you want?????????".
What can he say?
What should he say?
What did he say?
He writes, "you..."
It is what he wants, right now...
Half an hour later, still no reply.
He gets ready to go to work, he can't concentrate, he can't bear this any more, but a sick and twisted part inside of him is enjoying the confusion, the suffering, the excitement, the not knowing, the waiting.
Somehow I changed my mind, I cannot remember how or why, it was back in '89 so I've kind of forgotten the vague stuff. Come to think of it, I've forgotten a lot of the not-so-vague stuff too. Well, after preparing to go out for the night, and seeing that it was the so-called "goth" period in my life that meant too much messing about by half. Hair all over, more make up then strictly neccessary and in a happy haze brought on by a bottle of the cheapest Liebfraumilch that the local corner shop could provide (maybe that was why I decided to go out in the end..?) we hit town, which was London in case you are wondering...
First stop, The Intrepid Fox; a fairly decent pub down on Wardour street, Soho. The regulars (goths, punks, pimps and prostitutes) lined the walls and there was the usual fight to the bar for a pint. R pointed out a nice girl, just to let me know she was looking at him. He always was an arrogant bastard, but he was a good friend so I only hated him slightly for it.
We knocked back a few pints before last orders. No moves were made by either side as far as the girl who was clearly in love with R (so he reckoned) was concerned, so we headed off for Wraith, an industrial, electro goth all-night-club kind of simlilar to Slimelight nowadays, but back then Slimelight played a lot more punk and stuff. Wraith also moved around alot, probably trying to stay one step ahead of the police, but it was always down near Old Street, on the outskirts of the City. Down we went into the cellars of some old abandoned building, dry ice filled the place like a bad smell (of which there were a few) and at the end of a corridor we found ourselves in a large room lit by a strobe light. The walls were lined with camouflage netting and you had no idea whatsoever how big the space was until you walked into a wall. I decided there and then that one day I'd have a house like this,thankfully I never did.
It wasn't long before R noticed the same girl from the pub, who had brought along her friend. He was keen, almost chomping at the bit, so I left him to it. Err... Her. I went in search of what I was missing, that is to say, anyone who would have me. I had never been much at chatting up girls, lets say I never had actually, but I was sure that tonight was the night. The wine helped. After dancing for a while I spotted a suitable candidate. She looked pretty in the gloom, but then again, we all did. She was standing leaning against a wall so I casually, furtively neared her whilst looking anywhere but in her direction. What a jerk, oh well. Some guy was dancing eratically on the dancefloor and to avoid being trampled I got closer... So close I could almost smell her, maybe I did, I cannot remember. I made some funny comment to her that wasn't funny. She laughed. She probably hadn't even understood what I said, it didn't matter, I worked that out much later... I said little, she even less. We left the dancefloor to get to know each other a little better. I learnt her name was M, she was Italian and that she smoked, a lot. My first kiss seemed like I was licking out an ashtray. Not very passionate and not so hot. After a brief tongue exploration we went back to the dancefloor and danced, not so much together as in front of each other. I was beginning to think that this wasn't all it was meant to be. After a while she led me by the hand on a tour of her various friends, which left me feeling like a puppy dog that has been put on show. As soon as I could I made my excuses and went to search out that old dog R, who was getting to know rather well the girl from the pub.
The first of a series of coincidences occured: she was Italian too, her name was A. Well... I could hardly butt in, so I went and danced till the early hours of the morning. Eventually I went looking for M, to tell her I was about to catch the first tube back home. She was in the midst of a fag haze in a back room with various friends. She semed genuinely pleased to see me, and then launched into her sob-sob tale. She was sharing a bedsit with a girlfriend, and seeing as this friend had her boyfriend visiting poor M was obliged to sleep in the bath. It slowly began to dawn on me what was happening, it was my cue to say, "come to my place" but I had absolutely no intention of doing that. No way. I was suddenly plagued with doubts, the chemistry wasn't there and it probably wasn't going to happen. I put on my best sympathetic face, made all the right sympathetic sounds and then blurted out the immortal line,
"it has been nice meeting you".
Not exactly what I had in mind as a romantic way of saying goodbye but it was seven in the morning, and I was reasonably wrecked (actually, much more wrecked than reasonable, but I think you get the idea). With a parting smile we, well, parted. What else could we do?
I caught up with R saying his goodbyes to A and I was introduced to her friend, F. As couples we took tubes in opposite directions. It was just that the couples were mixed up, why was R coming home without A. Never found that out. Getting in to bed was bliss after the long night. The brief moment with M was kind of fun, I guess. I was just so glad I hadn't invited her home, or was I? What if I had..?
A couple of days later we were out again, here my memory begins to fail me. I remember a club near Piccadilly. A one nighter, or at least it died real quick. R and I got there quite early, I was kind of looking forward to seeing M. I had begun to regret not asking her home, just how cute was she anyway? In the end she didn't turn up so I had to wait a little bit longer to find out. On the other hand A was there so R had his hands full, I started chatting to her friend F, about music, life and all the things inbetween. Before I knew it about 5 hours had passed and we were saying goodnight down in Trafalgar square. The plot was thickening...
Next was back at Wraith, we got there and I started chatting to F straight away, I had never found someone I could chat to so easily before, about absolutely anything and everything. We were there for a couple of hours before SI (the third member of our happy household) found me and gave me the wonderful news... M was looking for me. My heart leapt and then fell almost as quickly, what was I going to do or say to this girl? I was sure that we were just not going to become an item. So feeling more nervous than the night I met her I went down on to the dancefloor. She looked less pretty than I remembered, but maybe that was just me. I thought I had to give her a chance, so I invited her upstairs for a chat. She looked at me as though I was from Mars, "Chat? What for?". Not good. I explained we really didn't know each other very well, and that we chould try to find out more about each other. So that is what we tried to do, but it just got worse. I'm a nice guy so I don't want to say she was stupid, ooopps.
Whatever... Hehehe. So I went back to F and I began to think. Hey, here is a girl I really get on with, maybe... It wasn't to last. At the end of the night we said our goodbyes (as usual) down in the Tube station. As I began to slip into that "early morning, I'm wrecked, I've not slept for 24 hours" kind of stupur R asked me if I liked F. I said I did, she was a person I already felt I knew all my life. "Pity" he said, "that she is gay..."
Typical, why me? The one girl I found that was looking for the same thing as me, was really looking for the same thing as me: a girl... With that thought I fell into bed and slept till sunday evening, hardly surprising my degree had gone out the window some months before. I was resigned to the fact nothing was going to happen on a love / romantic front, but on the other hand I had found a really good friend. "Something not to be sniffed at", I thought to myself, sniffing. Of course life is never complicated enough, and it began to feel like someone was taking the piss. R was getting on very well with A, it was such a shame that he already had a girlfriend. Luckily for him she lived in Derby, unluckily for us all, she was coming to visit... To get an idea of who that person was and what was about to happen you have to know that this girl was born called Sharon, which in itself is not her fault. However, as soon as she could she changed it. To Charlotte Jade. Now that was her fault. As far as her visit was concerned her timing could not be better, we all headed out to a nice little goth club under Charring Cross Station, The Soundshaft.
At first A had decided she would stay at home, I of course arranged to meet F there. When the moment came though, A decided that there was no way she would sit at home during the last week of their holiday just because of Charlotte. So she came too. As we walked in I could sense R seize up inside when he saw A. Somehow R had to keep Charlotte from meeting A. A knew all about Charlotte, he told her he had already decided to leave her, but knowing she would be devastated he wanted to wait till she was closer to her parents. In reality, knowing her short temper and having a rough idea of what she could do he wanted to wait till she was in a different city.
This was going to be fun.
I sat with F and we started talking, there was some laughter about the complicated situation too. Of course, the inevitable happened, Charlotte came back from the bathroom to find R talking to A, about three times. There was hell..! Trying to drag ourselves out of their problems I decided it would be fun to meet F during the day, out of the clubs, but obviously just as friends. So we fixed a time and place and said our usual goodbyes at Trafalgar Square.
On the bus with R and Charlotte I pretended to be asleep. She started asking him who the girl was, and I tried not to hear what the answer was. By the time she was shouting and crying I could no longer pretend to be asleep, at least not in a very convincing way. Thank God we soon arrived at our stop and I got the hell off that bus as quick as I could. I rounded the first corner and heard her screaming at R, I did what any good friend would do in a situation like this. I ran off... The next day I was up quite early and out of the house before I could bump into the warring factions. I had arranged to meet F at the Fox and I had time for a guiness before she turned up. First stop on our tour was Highgate cemetary. I'd never been, but I knew it was a place worth seeing so off we went. It rained a bit but we didn't mind. I seem to recall that somewhere along the line she held my hand. I told myself it must be something they do in Italy. Funny continental habits.
The day passed like something nice, we went to a gallery, had some sandwiches at a cool little snack bar run by Italians and then we headed back to see how A was doing. Not very well, was how A was doing. She wanted to spend these last few days of her holiday with R but she couldn't, so it was tears at dawn, followed by tears all day. We ate some pasta and then collapsed on the bed. It had been a long day. I woke with a funny feeling on my face, it took what seemed an eternity to figure out what was going on. F, the person R had warned me was gay, was kissing me... Sooooo.... Someone, somewhere had messed up, and for once it wasn't me. I don't need to go into details (sorry, but my Mum might read this), after a while I headed off home (there was only the one bed and A did leave us to it for a brief while, but it was brief). I acted as messenger for R and A. A secret date had been planned for the next day. Charlotte was going to be a problem, R was convinced she'd try to track him down. He'd told her he had to spend day at the university, so she wouldn't get suspicious. I tried to convince him she'd never guess where he really was. I was, of course, so wrong, but we'll get to that later.
We had a nice day out, two couples walking through Hyde Park. Delicate kisses sitting next to the lake and all that stuff. The day passed, way too quickly, and before we knew it R and I were heading home. He was in a bad way, convinced she'd know everything. "She'll have called the university" he reckoned. I reckoned she hadn't. Like I said, I was so, so wrong. As we walked in the house (actually, I kind of floated) it felt like there was a storm in the livingroom. As R opened the door a glass of wine hit the wall above his head. I turned round and went straight upstairs, this was his funeral, not mine. Loud music covered the screams.
I found out later that she had sobbed on SI's shoulder because R was such a bastard (she had phoned every University she could, oooppss). SI played the part of a good friend of R and told her she was absolutely right. He had then convinced her to buy some wine so they could get drunk (he was always on the look out for a free drink, the bastard. If you ever look up the word "snake" in the dictionary somewhere it will mention SI).
Somehow R survived and Charlotte calmed down, I think he relied on the age old technique known as lying through ones teeth. He told her I was upset and had asked him to meet me that afternoon. Why? Because I was deeply in love with F and the tomorrow she would get on a train to go back to Italy. That bit was true by the way, shame...
So the next morning I helped them get their luggage to the train, and I did one of those sweet things you have to if you get the chance, never miss a chance to do a sweet thing. My sweet thing that day was to give her a book containing all the lyrics to the Cure songs. I picked out a couple of lines which summed up the moment for me, "however far away, I will always love you". I told her not to open the book till the train left the station. She didn't, but when she did (she told me later) she cried a little bit. So it worked. They left, she was gone, and probably for good. Game over, I thought, and went home. R and Charlotte were still arguing so I went and listened to some music in my room.
Before I sank into a deep depression I managed to catch myself. I stood up, walked out the house, went to the local cornershop and bought a bottle of cheap wine. If I was going to get depressed, I might as well do it properly. I was about half way though the bottle when the doorbell rang. SI went to see who it was, I couldn't be bothered to get up, R and Charlotte were steaming in a corner. It wasn't a cheerful house. Little did I know it was about to explode.
SI came back in the living with a stupid smile on his stupid face (a good trick if you can do it). "there is someone for you" he said to me. I stood up rather suprised, no-one called in on me, hardly ever. I walked to the hall but the front door was closed and there was nobody there. Just as I was about to yell at SI for being yet again a wanker I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around, and there was F...
After a hug, a kiss and a gasp (not neccesarily in that order) I discovered that there was a ferry-workers strike, and we were the only people the two girls knew in the whole of London, so here they were. Oh dear, A. Oh no, Charlotte. The weekend of hell had arrived. I'll let you in on the highlights. There was much tension, Charlotte went upstairs to cry for a while, when she came down she found R and A hugging on the settee. Hell got worse. We stayed in my room. We were safe there, and it was more fun. Later that night R, Charlotte and SI went out to a club, They had an awful time. We stayed home, the girls were tired from the trip to Dover and back, and I wanted to stay with F.
I found out some things that week, and not many of them were good. The big piece of information that was about to ruin my life for the next 6 months was that A and F were, once upon a time, a couple. Hence the "F is gay" incident. Now it seems that their holiday together was a kind of full stop at the end of their long relationship. Whether it was really planned as such or it was just luck I really dont know. I discovered that in their relationship A had never let it get in the way of her hunt for fun. That is to say she had frequent affairs, almost always with guys. F on the other hand didn't. Next piece of information: A didn't like the idea that F had a relationship with me, at all. It was alright for her to have fun with R, but F should wait till A came back. If you think about who told R that F was only interested in females, well, I think you get an idea of what was happening. I didn't, at first.
After the longest weekend in my life Charlotte went home, and for a week peace reigned on the house. Then something strange happened, Aleesia and F began to argue. It was always the same, A would begin a long discussion in Italian, of which only they understood of course. Then there would be a discussion, it would become heated and then A would start yelling. Then she'd cry. R and I couldn't figure what the fuck was going on. It wasn't long though before F's parents sent her some money so they could get a flight home. F told me that when they left on the train she had no intention of coming back to me, but the book had made her cry, and she wondered why. The strike was the excuse they both were looking for to come back. Now she said she had made up her mind, she would come back as soon as possible. It must have been about a month that she was away, I phoned every day. At first I drained my resources until she insisted I reversed charges.
When later she told me how much the phone bill was and how much her father had yelled I tried hard to forget how many zeroes there were in the number. Oooops. So she came back, that was the good news, the great news. The bad news was that so did A. I guess now she came back not so much for R as to be with F. I try hard to remember the good things that happened in the following 5 months, but I cannot. There is something horrible that covers them. The arguments between the two girls grew more frequent, almost a day didn't pass without a scene, tears, screams. Eventually F told me why, and what A was saying. A was jealous, she wanted it all, R and F. I was not welcome. The discussions almost always began with A talking about their past, things they had shared, done together. Then the conversation inevitably turned to how it was much better then, that they were two women together in a world full of men, that we could never understand, we would never have what they had, that they would one day return together. Then they would argue, A would yell and then cry. I was shocked, this was not what I needed. My first relationship and I had to carry all this luggage from a past life. And she lived in the room next to mine.
I began to get jealous as well, I didn't want A to get anywhere near F. Not the best thing to do, but I was naive. A on the other hand told a different story to R. She said it was I who was jealous, and that I was closing her out of F's life and that it was killing her. So suddenly R was on my back as well. I could hardly tell him what I knew, he wouldn't believe me. Of course, I had to believe what F told me, and I still do today, several years down the line. I can look back on all this now and laugh, much later even A said she was very sorry for what she did, but back then, my life hit an all time low to cancel out the all time high I felt with F. Five months is a long time, you wouldn't believe how long that can be...
Of course, when you hit the bottom, the only way is up. At least, that is what I believed, until I fell in a bloody great big hole... Now I was convinced, someone was indeed taking the piss. Several months earlier R had gone on a field trip, and so one evening SI and I decided to go out for the night. I had yet to discover his true nature. Whilst we were drowning a few in the Fox we were approached by a couple of girls from Sweden who were fans of Depeche Mode and seemed incapable of talking about anythings else. Neither of them were what we had in mind for the night so we were polite but not very talkative which made no difference to them as they could talk about Depeche Mode all night, and enough for four people. At a certain point a French girl came over and asked me for a light. I told her I didn't have one, and thought to myself, "why can't cute girls come up to me like this?" I was into self commiseration in those days, it was a goth thing.
SI on the other hand decided that the French girl was the better option of the three so he interrupted asking her for a cigarette. Little did I know, he had just saved my life, and boy was he going to pay later on. Eventually the Swedes realised I wasn't going to talk about insignificant details about Depeche, but they wouldn't let go, so I told them we (SI and I, along with his new found companion) were leaving and bid them good night. As soon as we got to the club the pair of lovebirds disappeared and I didn't see them again till the club closed. So that was a great night out. Not. There is something wonderful about going out, seeing your short, stupid, ugly mate get off with someone, and then lie in bed afterwards trying not to hear them make out big time in the room above yours. They also were doing something weird up there. The noise was not unsimilar to a pneumatic-hammer. Bang-bang-bang they went, no surprise there, but the speed was unbeleivable. Being a dj I'd say they were definately going at it at 150 Beats Per Minute. No variation, no pauses, no other noises, just bang-bang-bang like some kind of giant machine-gun. I wasn't impressed at their improvisational skills, not much creativity there, where's the rhythm, but I take my hat off to SI's stamina.
in the end I was the lucky one. She was called Sylvie, and like I said, French. Their affair lasted a day and then she went back home. It would have been perfect if it ended there, but it didn't. Oh no. After a month of living in the midst of the F - A hell S arrived to turn the temperature up a few degrees. At first life got easier, a new person in the house meant a distraction for A. She began to try and get S on her side and turn her against us. For me that was perfect, it meant she was off F's back for a while, and I couldn't give a fuck about S. She did seem to have some kind of problem with me though, maybe that time in the pub she had intended me as her victim. The house divided into warring factions, and I closed myself in my room more and more. I can't remember how it started but something seemed to click inside of S. She became moody and was continuously arguing with SI. And then with the rest of us.
I couldn't believe the atmosphere could get any worse but it did. A had managed to become her friend and always tended to take her side in the arguments, half of which were against me for one reason or another. Life carried on like that for a while until A discovered that some of her things went missing, mainly clothes. For once it was unlikely that it was my fault, I've never been into wearing women's clothes, so fingers were pointed elsewhere. Eventually A went and looked in SI's room and found the missing things there. She and S argued quite a bit about that. The following weekend F and I went to visit my parents (I always felt like it was an escape from the madhouse) and when we got back there was interesting news. They had all gone to Wraith with some friends of S and whilst they were there S met some guy and they made out in the toilets. I don't think she tried to hide it from SI, and he found out. When they got home they argued, then fought, literally. She knocked one of SI's teeth out and there was a nice new blood patch on the rug in the living room. R looked still shocked, he had to split them apart with the help of her friends before she killed SI.
It seems that S had never had an easy life. The story goes that when she was younger she once returned home with her mother and baby brother from a shopping trip. Instead of staying with her brother in the house she went out to help her mother unload the car. Her brother somehow managed to pull the family TV set down on top of him and it killed him. Blaming herself, S had then passed from one hospital to another for most of her life. Not a stable person at the best of times, she had seriously flipped out that weekend. Good old SI, it could have almost been me... With S gone the house started to fall apart at the seams. We all hated each other (almost) and it seemed like a lynch mob was forming. We argued about daft things, like who wouldn't wash up, SI stealing food and the like. One weekend before leaving I put locks on my food cabinets, I was sick to death of going to eat something only to discover that SI had gotten there first. We got to the point where no-one spoke to each other, passing silently in the corridor, aoiding eye contact.
Then something wonderful happened. The landlords came to us shortly before our contract had expired and explained they needed to decorate the house, and double the rent. So we had to move out at the end of the month. My university had realised that although I still took the money that the government gave me to study I hadn't in fact taken one class for about 6 months. I did make an attempt to go back, but after I sat through one lecture in computer programming I realised that I had no idea what they were talking about, so I left. I managed to get a Diploma for the first year and a half that I'd gotten good results for. The money, unfortunately stopped. Reality beckoned, so I reached out both hands and pushed it away as hard as possible. "I own a flat in Roma", said F, "Why don't we..."
..."Let's go!" I interrupted.
It was an escape, an adventure. My parents obviously were rather surprised by all this, they suspected my degree was going funny, but this was way over the top. They could hardly stop me, so they didn't even try. R took his father-like role too much to heart and told me I couldn't run away from my responsibilities. Seeing as our friendship had waned down to nothing I told him I could and I was.
And I did.
I sold my motorbike, a Kawasaki 125 trials bike which I had neglected during the past 6 months. A friend did it up for me and I almost shed a tear to see it go, but the cash bought my ticket. F had gone on ahead so I had a couple of weeks to pack my life in a bag, or 5, and then it was time. So what is next? Fleeing England, holiday in the sun (for 11 years, hehehe), hey Mr DJ! and becoming a photographer. Jesus, will I ever finish this story?