Gay for pay January 28, 2008Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
“Darling, do you think my haircut makes me look like Hitler?”
“Absolyut not,” answered the Russian with conviction bordering on the complimentary. Odd for him to miss the chance for a bit of an insult. Telling me I looked like Hitler would have been a forfeit-free chance to say I was a bit of a wanker. “You don’t look heterosexual at all.”
“Not gitera (hetero), Gitlera (Hitler), you silly billy (if memory serves me rightly).”
“Oh, yes, yes, you look like Gitler.”
I went to a gay bar once. Alone. I’ve mostly stumbled from one long-term relationship to another but I think I managed to squeeze in ten seconds of singleness when I was about 9. Not that I haven’t gone to bars alone as a married man. No-one thinks you’re a prostitute in the gay world if you go to a bar alone. Unless you go to a bar alone when you’re 17, that is, and everyone else in the bar is 80. Then the punters would be justified in suspecting rent. But I’ve always been perfectly sanguine at going to a bar alone to drown my indifferences.
So I went to a bar. Drowned my indifferences. As ever, in the gay world, the bar was strewn with other indifference-drowning solos. Bars are our churches and I happened, on this one occasion, to have pride of place with our high priest, the barman. It’s a rather public confessional but we gays are as promiscuous with our words as we are with our affections and there’s no room for prudishness where the gay soul is concerned. Except our churches blaze trails and our confessionals can easily see the high priest confessing to one of his flock.
“Oh, go on then… A bit quiet tonight, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, they won’ all arrive for anuvva while yet, will they.” He polished a glass with disdain. “Tend to come ‘ere a bit later, dun’t they.” Glanced over it and hung it up on the sticky-out rack. “Why, ya bored? You can get up on the bar and do a dance f’rus if ya like, can’tcha?” He chuckled and went off to serve anuvva punter.
“Is this your bar then?” I went on unimaginatively as he reappeared with a dishcloth flung nonchalantly over his left shoulder.
“Yeah, had it for years now, inni. Was in Spain before, wunni, wiv Brian,” I quickly played back the conversation thus far in my head – I’d forgotten my dictaphone – and was sure Brian hadn’t come up, “but come back ‘ere now, inni. Anuvva cuppla years and then I’ll give it up.” He shooed away the bar with his hand. “Do summink else then, wunni.” I nodded along consistently without proffering any suggestions of my own. “‘s all right doin’ this when you’re young, innit, but I don’t still wanna be doin’ this when I’m owld.” His brows and mouth made one complete revolution at the mention of the profanity. “And Brian died, didnee. Car crash. Just like that. Can ‘appen that quickly.” He polished some more. I contorted my face as the occasion demanded. “Naa, ‘s OK when you’re young, this, but not when you’re owld… Oh ‘ere’s a few more come in, look. Ya wun’t be so bored now as ya was, will ya?”
A few more punters had indeed trickled in. Amongst them a dish of cosmic proportions. A huge, great lumbering thing. A hint of shyness. He only looked up from his beer out of the corner of his glassy eyes. He examined his finger-nails with undeserved thoroughness. I changed my order to the beer he was drinking to increase my attractiveness. Needn’t have bothered as the late Brian’s other half was soon leaping to my assistance. “‘ere, whassyer name?” If beer hadn’t been taken I’d have minded where this was going. “Broke,” I said, unmindingly. “‘n whass yours?” he asked the cosmic dish, predictably. “Mmwike,” said Mike, combining shyness and aggression, his eyes darting left to right and lips stretched to breaking point.
The introductions done, Mmwike and I bumbled through conversation. Nice enough, it turned out, though his beauty meant any judgment I made couldn’t possibly be objective. I’m a pathetic flirt and invariably turn into a helpless himbo. “Um, Mmwike, sorry, I mean, Mike, so what’s a nice boy like you… [internally, “No, bugger, bugger, you can’t ask that. That’s Christmas-cracker-level chat-up. Um, pay him a compliment.”] Um, Mmwike, sorry, Mike, um… [internally, “Oh, for god’s sake, just carry on bumbling along.”] Um, Mmwike, sorry, Mike, um, er… you don’t seem gay, really, not that gays seem anything and, erm, of course it’s all just stereo…”
“Naa, I ain’t.”
“Oh [internally, “fuck”].”
“Well, I am a bit.”
“Oh [internally, “yippety doo-da”].”
“I mean, only in the way all men are.”
“Oh [internally, “oh, he’s insane. What a pity. Most men aren’t a bit gay, are they?”].”
“You don’t seem speshly gay yerself.”
“Oh [internally, “oh, he actually is insane].”
We chatted on. He told me about his girlfriend. His ex-girlfriend. His daughter. His ex-girlfriend’s gay uncle whom they’d discovered the gay bar with. He liked it and came back (presumably when he was in one of his a-bit-gay moods). We drank. He told me about his drinking problem. Said he was a social worker. Then offered to drive me home.
Was this a prelude to one of his a-bit-gay moments?
I accepted heroically. “Sure it’s no trouble?”
“Naa, ‘s on me way.”
We drew up at my front door. For tradition’s sake, I thought I’d better check where on the hetero-scale he was currently positioning himself. “Um, would you like to come in?”
“Naa, gotta get back. Workin’ in the mornin’. But it was nice talkin’ to ya.” True. It had been perfectly nice. “Gotta pen? I’ll give ya my e-mail.” (E-mail must have pre-dated mobiles.) We fumbled around and between us managed to exchange e-mail addresses. I probably hadn’t removed my coat before firing off an e-mail saying how nice it had been to meet.
A few days later, an e-mail appeared from Mmwike. I was secretly thrilled. Then berated myself for being so pathetic. “Broke, get a grip. He’s straight. He’s got a girlfriend and daughter.” But his beauty overrode all that.
“Thanks for your e-mail,” began his e-mail. “You met me on a bad day.” Oh, I hadn’t realised. Maybe he’d been there to drown real sorrows, though he hadn’t alluded to them in our chat. “I won’t have a chance to go out for a beer again soon.” Oh, that sounds final enough. Never mind. “But if you ever want to book me, one-on-one, for a couple of hours, let me know. To put it in plain English, I’m a male whore. Hope you don’t mind. See ya.”
Heterosexuals. Honestly. No morals.
Mould January 21, 2008Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
At last it’s come to me. It’s going to make me so rich I’ll probably be able to help you all out. Someone get China on the phone.
Still suffering post-Christmas so need this financial revolution to really hit the spot. I’m statistically average in this regard, of course, as every radio programme on at the moment appears to be about how to declare yourself bankrupt for almost nothing (though in Scotland) and then isn’t it divorce day round about now for all the couples whom Christmas helped realise just that little bit more glassily clearly quite how much they loathe each other? I’ve had to switch over to BBC Radio Cymru so that I can’t understand a word anyone’s saying. (I lie. Someone said, “…fit for purpose…” a minute ago.)
Though maybe trickle-down will trickle down to me eventually and I’ll soon be reaping the rewards of all the wealth our neighbourhood seems to have generated of late. I’ve told you before that Ruislip’s up-and-coming and I can see this on my trips to the supermarket. Shoponomics. Instead of the supermarket being either utterly empty, which it always had been till recently, bar the staff, the Russian and me, or frequented by the odd teenager buying beer and Coke, it’s now not uncommon to see handsome young couples with perfect babies and perfect prams who obviously couldn’t find a place to live in the funkier area further south.
All a far cry from the days when supermarkets were all new and shiny and spangly to us (well, to me again) after moving here from St. Petersburg, where we lived like in the good old former times, going to the market all the time – I was once told I looked like Thomas Anders by a vendrix as I pored over her herbs. “Have you got any thyme?” I asked, having thanked her for her heart-warming compliment. “Oi, thyme. No. Zere is no thyme in all St. Petersburg. Not in all Raasha vill you find thyme. You never vill find thyme. Must be suicide everybody. Life so tsyerrible.” We cried together for a while and warmed our hands over a dying candle-flame, then bade each other a fond farewell. We knew we’d never see each other again. I dried my eyes. And went to the next vendrix. “Um, hello. Have you got thyme for me?” “For you, Thomas, I’ve got all the time in the world.” “I’m not Thomas. I’m BiB.” “Oh, OK, in that case, I retract my joke. Wouldn’t work in Russian anyway.” “Indeed… So, got any thyme?” “Yep. That’ll be 7 roubles please.” Shopping was an emotional roller-coaster then – and buying different products from the specialist purveyors thereof. The butcher. The baker. The cigarette-maker. All long before our fish-finger days…
“I khev diskaavered gryeat new tasty and nutritious produkt,” said the Russian breathlessly within hours of us clearing immigration and being granted refuge in this fine land. “Oh my god, what? What?” I asked. I was still young. “Double-length cigarettes? Vats of wine on wheels? Big, fat, luscious prawns that even we can afford?” “No, beets of feesh kaavered in bryed-kryamb.” “Darling, you don’t pronounce the b in kryamb. I mean crumb.” “Vot you talkink about? Vi not even speak Eenglyeesh.” “Darling, I do apologise. I must be inventing it all for some point in the future when there’ll be a website where I can spout bollocks, where I can note things down. A web-jotter. A bjot. Or a web-register. Yes, where I can write it all down. In my bredge… Darling, fish-fingers aren’t interesting. You need to try some of the other things the west’s got to offer. Like, um, wine that isn’t from Moldova. And drugs.”
So, yes, now the supermarket’s full of nice couples. So nice I worry for them, almost. So healthy-looking. Fresh-skinned. Happy. Not at all normal. “Look at how perfect he is,” I said to the Russian about the worryingly perfect father of a newly-formed nuclear family loitering at the cheese-counter. We waited for them to choose their cheese and then ordered one twice as expensive to show them we were no slouches when it came to professional success either… then waited for them to wheel themselves out of ear-shot and asked for our money back from the cheese-vendrix, saying I’d just had confirmation of my cheese allergy from the doctor by SMS. Sorry. His wife was perfect too. The child was wrapped up perfectly for the meteorological conditions that prevailed. The Russian and I looked at ourselves in the mirror to see if we were as perfect as they were. We took deep breaths and rolled on in silence. Caught up with the perfect family and found the father’s Achilles’ heel. Hair cut much too high at the back and not even blended in. A straight line. Tosser. It’s the children I feel sorry for.
Anyway, where were we? Oh yes. Shoponomics. So I’m surrounded by rich people. And am poorer than a church-mouse. And we know it’s important to keep up with the Müllers. So I racked my brains for at least a minute and a half to come up with a world-improving and finance-revolutionising plan and, as luck would have it, the brainstorming didn’t go to waste.
So, it’s moulds. I’m envisioning mini elasticated bath-caps, sort of gerbil-head sized. These would be filled with some conveniently unctuous, mobile but sturdy mucus. Then, whenever you sat on a chair or at a table with uneven legs, which probably even The Queen has experienced, you’d whip out your handy mini elasticated bath-cap filled with the secret unctuous but sturdy mucus and it would stabilise the formerly uneven table or chair. And, if we make them pretty enough, they’d be so much more pleasing than a folded bit of fish-finger packaging.
I only need about a 30-grand cut. Someone do all the work and get on to China and then send me the cheque.
The night shift January 17, 2008Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
And not a sweet sound coming down to be had for love nor money.
I’ve had my biannual clock-change, which I really need to align with when the clocks go back and forward for the sake of neatness. Except my clock-change is by twelve hours. And at some point in the winter – this year, now – I decide that, if I am to see daylight at all before midsummer, I have to change shift and get up at 5am rather than go to bed then.
Which makes for a quiet start to the day. Of course half the neighbours are primly up, wandering primly around preparing to go off to lead prim days. Odd that the neighbours can pull of primness while semi-nude, but they can. One stiff-backed neighbour eats her breakfast primly. The neighbour who drinks wine alone breakfasts geometrically at his table. Others primly draw their curtains so that us nosy neighbours can’t sneak a prim look at how they live their early starts.
Pitch outside and silent for the first couple of hours of the day. The traffic doesn’t set the cobbles rumbling in earnest till the sun’s risen languidly over the rooftops. The children trudging with grim determination off to school don’t make much noise. Nor do the Berliners with regular jobs as they turn up their collars and purse their lips in readiness for pursuit of another euro. And it’s too cold and too dark for us wastrels to bustle about on our balconies. No need for me, now that smoking’s a thing of the past, to be on ours till the summer. And no way for the residents of the 100%-long-term-unemployment house across the street to enjoy theirs as builders have knocked the bastards clean away in some early stage of a total architectural makeover.
Too early for the Russian to elephant noisily and meatily around the place. Too early to seek company in the TV. It would feel pornographic to switch to my favourite channels at this time of the morning/night. Though Al Jazeera might easily be showing something gripping at any time. (Do folk watch? They do these great little slice-of-life documentaries. I’ve watched an Iranian online imam, a Swedish woman on a quest to find her Sami father whom she’d only seen on a stamp and a formerly homeless Argentinian who now worked for Loony Radio. Really. Quite marvellous. Their news coverage ain’t bad either.) And Belsat – yes, we have a Belarusian channel – only starts broadcasting its pap later on. Plus the neighbours would have complained by the time my finger had completed its first transaction with the remote-control.
The shipping forecast is yet to begin, but that’s better to be lulled to sleep by than lulled awake to with its sea-shanty names and cyclones losing their identity. (God Save the Queen might shudder you awake again though.) The farmers will be on soon, complaining of the cost of raising pigs. The French lesson’s almost over.
Any luck and there might soon be enough blue in the sky for a pair of sailor’s trousers.
Poor show January 6, 2008Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Quiz! No prize. Bar the glory, as ever.
this lovely lady – oh, no, sorry, I didn’t mean that one. Slip of the upload. Though I was in beautiful Edinburgh for a few seconds, actually, over the Chrimble period, and didn’t get to see my favourite dead clone –
I meant, this lovely lady, to be found, then?
Sorry it’s such a shit photo. It’s a shit quiz, actually, as quizzes go, because I don’t quite know the answer myself, and I’ve been reading Dawkins so know of the importance of mathematic formulae and know that you can’t have an equation, if a shit quiz is an equation, with two unknown bits. But I sort of know the answer, a bit. So where’s the lady?
The photo’s shit for a number of reasons. If I can do the blaming-others part first, let me say the version on my computer isn’t nearly as dark as what wordpress is coming up with. I don’t know if what I did to the original photo, which I cleverly managed to get to the computer from my camera, can be called as much as photoshopping, but I did adjust the brightness and contrast on the as-dark-as-what-you-see-now original and then equally cleverly press save, but wordpress seems to have overridden my efforts. Hopefully you all have a torch next to your computers for just such moments and you might be able to see her with a bit of a flash in her general direction.
The blaming-me part of explaining away the photo’s shitness is that I can’t take photos, due to an unsteady hand brought on by years of drink, drugs, debt and relationships, plus the camera’s crap, because it’s cheap, which is why I bought it, and I didn’t realise it had an image-steadier-for-alcoholics button until too late. And then the lady is in a bit of a dark place. So that’s a bit why you’ve got too much dado-like-thing and not enough headdress.
So where is she?
(By the way, not ‘Who is she?’, because I haven’t got the foggiest.)
Sputniki January 5, 2008Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Darlings, answer me this. The nice girl who sells coffee at Teddington Station earns, say, sick squid, sorry, six quid an hour. That’s an estimate but based on loosely empirical evidence as I just walked in on the Russian checking fantasy job listings for when we move, upon the flight of pigs and above my corpse, to London. So the nice girl – Spanish, I thought – earns six quid an hour. How long do people in England work? 40 hours a week? And there are probably 4-and-a-half working weeks a month, so that’s 180 hours a month which comes to – oh god, the calculator’s miles away and I’m on the laptop – erm, 1080 pounds a month. Before tax and national insurance, which accounts for about a third, doesn’t it? So that’s, erm, 360 gone, so she’s left with about 700 quid. Darlings, tell me, how the fuck, in London, does she not die of starvation in ten seconds? Or is that what happens, and the turnover of nice, young ladies selling coffee at Teddington Station is one a day? Or is she perhaps helped to avoid public transportation costs by being given a cardboard box in the corner and a dusty, filthy, threadbare blanket to keep the chill from her bones? Because she can’t afford to live in Teddington and it costs 700 quid to travel one stop from there in either direction, which, in any case, only gets you to another leafy suburb which she couldn’t afford to live in. I asked the Russian if I should propose marriage and take her away from all this (or that) but poverty and squalor for poverty and squalor is not a good swap and, anyway, perhaps she likes London, and, anyway, then our train came and we’d been waiting so long that taking it was too good an opportunity to miss, even if I did miss out on getting married for my troubles.
I was reminded of the benefits of being able to understand what people say and thought it has perhaps not come about by chance that people in one place speak the same language. Such a brilliant idea! Eavesdropping is my favourite thing in the world apart from internet access and I’m bored of only being able to half-eavesdrop Germans. And, anyway, all Germans ever complain about is how expensive everything is, which isn’t juicy enough for a seasoned eavesdropper.
“Yuh, yuh,” said a boy who looked like he might have been in Prince William’s class at school loudly into his telephone. “Yuh, yuh, I’m pretty bloody ready for that, yuh.” He got off at the same stop as us and I was dreading when I finally got a good look at him – so far I had only seen his floppy blond hair, tall, aristo stature and ludicrously long luggage – skiing! – and heard him yuh – that he would have the annoyingly good Merchant Ivory looks that that type often annoyingly has. “Yuh, can you open the barrier please?” (Muffled response from TfL person behind glass, perhaps suggesting the passenger insert his ticket into it.) “Yuh – and with petulance – but it’s in my bag. Can you just open the barrier please? I’m going to miss my flight.” Before I could check whether he was a dish or not, I had my own trouble with a machine saying something about oysters and by the time that was sorted in a haze of fluster, sweat and foundation-laying-for-an-argument-with-the-Russian, he had dashed off with his long luggage dragging behind him like the train on Princess Diana’s wedding dress.
“Dunnee look luvly?” I said to the Russian, who pointed out that I was wrong to even check if he was beautiful and that he had all the beauty I needed… We finally caught up with the skier and there was nothing Merchant Ivory about him at all.
“Fuck off, you fat, ugly cow,” I screamed at Lindsay Davenport. I don’t even think she is a fat, ugly cow, particularly, but relationships can make you say the rudest things, as I explained to my brother and sister, who happened to witness the moment, and they forgave me my intemperate outburst. “Don’t you love her?” asked some random person who leapt to Lindsay Davenport’s defence. “Of course I bloody love her, but it’s just all so exhausting.” And I slumped onto the sofa. “Stop being gay,” the Russian said within everyone’s earshot. A mouse fell off the lampshade onto my shoulder…
“I sink my braazer is autist,” presently said the Russian, who received a special mention in the best newcomer category at last year’s world social autism awards. I’d worried as much myself. I’d sent an unnaturally gushing New Year’s text to my quasi-brother-in-law saying that I INSISTED he come to London with us on our next trip. “Tomorrow I drive to babushka,” came his less gushing reply.
“So, zis button must be svitched on and zis vun off for remote-control to vörk and…” continued the Russian explaining the thornier difficulties of how to change channels in my mother’s spectacularly low-tech abode. “Darling, I’ll never change channel in this house ever in my life. Instead, work out how long it’s going to take you to finish explaining this to me and just repeat ‘I love you’ over and over for the corresponding time instead.”
Planning now to snuggle up for a good bout of lovely, London-induced, cosy man-illness for the rest of the winter. Happy New Year!