Sunday, 18 September 2011


It is uncanny how you are every protagonist I've encountered in the books I read before I go to bed. The serious English schoolboy with a club foot, the dirty old islander of many worrying fetishes, a six foot dwarf unequipped for irony, a Brazilian Alpha male who cries at the drop of a hat. Sometimes you're even the women in my books. For years I wondered how you could be all of these people; was I desperately in love with you and just didn't know it yet? Or did I know you so well, I could seek out these kernels of your astronomical personality as unapparent as they were to everybody else. But it isn't either. Quite the opposite, actually. Your face is a blank mask that doesn't twitch, not even when I'm in pain. You are these protagonists in one way and one way alone - you are all creatures cobbled together from imagination, meant to be romanced and then let go of. And when I shut my books, you crumple in a lifeless heap. Reality is no place for your kind.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

S'all right.

For the first time in as long as I've known myself, I've begun to feel something approaching peace. It isn't apparent yet because I'm trying to settle around this strange, alien feeling before I debut it out in the world. My world. Filled with people who've only ever known me as a walking factory of nervous ticks and self-deprecating humour, prone to dramatic outbursts and intimate with illogic.
And I find that these unfamiliar stirrings of self-acceptance, apart from making me beam ridiculously at the most inopportune of times during the day, are putting several of my personal relationships into perspective.

For one, I expect my social currency will plummet drastically, and quite quickly at that, in the months to come. The departure of the Gyuri-shaped disaster that has always been around for an instant ego boost is taking a toll on a few, real pieces of work this lot - I wish cankles upon you.

I realised that just because one looks like a screw-up and talks like a screw-up, doesn't
necessarily mean one is a screw-up. Relatively, speaking. And holy mother of vice versa! Some people are so calm, collected and corkscrew crazy, you just want to reach in and emphatically and purposefully pet their inner, frightened animal before they tedbundy out of control. I'd rather be messy and disheveled of appearance than of heart and soul, I'm clear about this.

As for love, forever it has meant approval. Longing to be physically desired, longing to be acceptable to other people's sensibilities, falling in line wordlessly. I've been virtually Buddhist in previous relationships - no tantrums, no demands, accepting what I got and then walking away silently. "I can't force anyone to feel any less or more than they do" I'd say, ascending slowly heavenward.
And now I'm very, very pissed off.
I don't think I'll ever be successfully mean-spirited because... let me put it like this: If I had my own animal spirit, it would likely be a fluffy, pink marshmallow named Caligula - that's how menacing I am when I've rehearsed a hate speech. But I cannot passively absorb copious amounts of horseshit anymore, either. Love is love is love is love. Love moves your bowels and sometimes, as in one of the most soulful love stories I've ever read, constipates you too. Love makes you stupid, free and strong, delighted and hopeful and compassionate. It waits while you pore laboriously over an interminable list of pros and cons and then points and laughs at you with abandon. The best kind of defibrillator and you're still a goner. Love moves you. And if it does not, it isn't love.
Then there is that which sounds and feels like love to the touch. And this is very enjoyable too, but temporary, and based more on self-indulgent illusion than anything else. It's like stroking yourself to full romantic erection, only to suddenly be accosted by a thought like 'bed sores!'. No happy ending, just a rude awakening and mild nausea.
I try to recognise the difference now.

Monday, 5 September 2011


We had all gone deaf.
The silences had been so interminable, so exacting and reprehensible
that we'd abandoned all use of our ears. They had become terrors.
The corridors were the worst, when we passed one another
inching carefully by, afraid of touch,
and loathing the chance mixing of our breaths.
At night we lay awake, our minds sick with worry -
just don't let any of us ever take a tumble along those grey passages
not on a bumpy bit of floor, or from the puddle where the wet clothes drip,
and never, never in our presence.
Not one of us knows how to hold, much less comfort, a real, live body.
The warmth will be the devastating.

Thursday, 1 September 2011


I overheard at the club last Saturday that you've now got yourself a scar? Or car? Actually it's probably definitely a car. What would a new scar even mean? A tattoo? That doesn't make very much sense. I was sitting three tables away from the Alburquerque sisters but was practically horizontal from trying to hear them. J, of everything you've ever done to me, this is the worst. You have made me envy those vapid idiots with their colourful drinks and small, mice-like breasts. How lucky they are to know your family, to know so much about you, about your life, about your new car (or scar). And I sit there, silently willing those horrible girls to turn my way, let me hear them better. How ever did this happen? All these changes are too ridiculous to even process. Sometimes I wonder if I've suffered five years' memory loss and someone's forgotten to mention this to me. I passed your mother on the church stairs later that evening and she smiled at me, gracious as always. She has no idea who I am. To think it was I who never allowed you tell her about me. I made you swear on Loops, do you remember? My god, what an idiot I was. I deserve to eat those Alburquerques' dirt, I do.

Don't chuckle. I know you are. Or will, when... and if you read my letters. Have you received my letters, J? I don't dare to hope for a reply just yet but I want to believe that you're reading them, slapping your forehead at my rubbish. Smiling, even? I had this idea that maybe none of them had reached you. Nineteen of them just lost somewhere, misplaced, opened by strange fingers, saved at the bottom of a drawer we'll never find. Will my letters become somebody's anecdote that he or she tells with great flair. Don't laugh but I have thought about writing better here, with more flourishes, some embellishments, not too many. Attempt some poetry, maybe. Engineer the ghost of a romantic epic and give some poor girl the chance to mouth off to her cynical friends. She'll wave my letters in their faces. "Here, I told you! This love exists! This love can be had!" and they will shrug but inside they will feel suddenly excited and frightened by this.

I am smiling J, I feel so ashamed of these silly thoughts. It's why I began writing this letter in the first place. I was at Pemb's this afternoon, remember it? The tiny little place next to the tailor's shop, with the great burgers? Anyway, I was drinking the best glass of basil lemonade I have ever, ever had, and right then, with the glass still raised to my mouth, it came to me. For the first time, ever since I've known of romantic love (that would be, say, nineteen years? Colin, his name was) I realised that that transcendent, big love opus I've always known would be mine eventually, might not. I don't know what it was. The glorious lemonade? The empty burger shop? Those adorable red and white awnings that flapped disconsolately? I cannot know. I ran out of there so fast I almost knocked over a chair. Mum thinks I have met someone and I'm keeping a love secret. How shall I tell her how much it is not that?

Read my letter, please. And remember me.