I’ve virtually stopped writing, even blogs, but am feeling compelled to as if there’s something worth in the occasion.
The gang arrived to take me to Gay Pride. Charles, over from Paris for a court case, had a scar above his left brow I couldn’t decide was new or not. “What’s that word you used to describe Charles?” Adrian asked. “Gerontophile.” Adrian had difficulty replicating this word. English is not his first language. I put on my rain hoodie and two opened bottles of wine in a bag to take with because, Adrian said, it’d be difficult to buy wine from Soho’s little shops. English may or may not be Jeff’s first language but I have a lot less difficulty understanding what he’s saying. Jeff’s Adrian’s husband. He asked me to spell the word. You’ll be wanting an explanation.
Charles had been Richard’s boyfriend. Richard’s old, and rich. Charles calls Adrian aunty. Adrian’s first husband was Richard. Adrian queenly dispatched a recent boyfriend of Richard’s by telling him he didn’t like him and by walking regally out of the dinner the three of them were having. Adrian wants Richard to take Charles back and Richard is putting Charles up.
I hailed, “Diana!” as we passed her on the Quadrant. She’s a neighbour Adrian said till then hadn’t recognised him and was looking fierce.
There was a kerfuffle over tickets from the machine at Richmond Station: which to buy, and did Jeff have enough on his oyster. I had my pass. We took the slow train rather than wait for the fast which’d get us in to Waterloo no sooner. Time passed fast since we started drinking, white wine for me and Adrian who, dispensing with the wine bottle, dispensed more spirited concoctions for Charles and Jeff, who didn’t want the white, Adrian redistributing his between him and me.
They went to pee for 30p at Waterloo but didn’t. Outside we stopped for replenishment, recycling bottles discreetly behind things, Adrian and I going for a cheap white for Jeff. Adrian likes to walk across Hungerford Bridge. There was more to-do about not peeing for 30p at Charing Cross because Adrian was wrong: the 30p price wasn’t being lifted for the day. Adrian conducted me to St Martin’s crypt where I should pee, however good I was at not, for free.
I wanted to know how Charles came by his scar and was told some nonsense about somebody going to hit him and he cutting himself and saying ‘is this what you want?’ though I don’t always understand what Charles is saying. Adrian delegated me to find out if Charles was back with Richard. “Are you back with Richard?” Charles nodded. “He’s back with Richard.” “Are they having sex?” “If he’s back with Richard, it implies sex.” I was delegated to find out explicitly were they. I might or might not. Charles said he’d been told he was ugly. “That’s just rude.” It wouldn’t’ve been Adrian. He wouldn’t say that to Charles’ face.
Two black men passed Adrian thought pick-pockets and he zipped up the pockets of my hoodie. There were transvestites galore. “You missed a trick, Adrian. You could’ve put on your wig and come as Adriana.” “Look!” he said, “he’s crying.” A camp young man was following after another and carrying away from me the story of his tears on stout calves. Two men were peeing in a corner by a bin, a liquid string hanging between the bare legs of one. Three men were queuing to pee where a fourth was between bins.
By a closed-off Trafalgar Square with a blue cock in it, Charles wanted me to take a photo of the three friends on his phone. “John’s no use at photos,” Adrian said. Charles insisted. “It’s good,” he said. “I’ve taken a successful photo!” A woman offered to take a photo of the four of us.
“That’s too much for me,” I said of a transvestite with skimpy pants. We encountered submissives with dog heads, collars and leashes. One put his tongue out through the jaws twice. Charles gave me my cue. “Jeff can be your slave.” Jeff took exception to this; “John,” he deplored. Adrian took me aside, “I warned you.” “He’s giving me looks. I didn’t think Jeff had a chip on his shoulder.” “He doesn’t bear grudges like you and me,” Adrian said. You’re not getting this, are you? Things you take in at a glance if you were there, understand them as you will, you can’t from reading unless directed to, one way or another, by the writer participant. Jeff is black and my remark therefore pointed, however consciously indeliberate. “It was spontaneous! in these circumstances,” I expostulated unsuccessfully. “Young blacks have a name for whites, pieces of white meat, pork – I’m not sure of the word,” Adrian said. That wouldn’t affect me. I don’t have an inferiority complex.
We barely got into the pub on Old Compton Street where I was introduced to Adrian’s friend Alix and the girl he was with. Alix danced with me. Adrian made much of my youthful appearance, how old did they think I was. Sixty, whereas I was seventy-six. “Seventy-five,” I corrected. “There’s no need to exaggerate. Black don’t crack,” the joke, that I wanted to try out, being I’m white. The joke fell flat and may have offended the girl who I wouldn’t describe as black but maybe she does. Alex is browner than Adrian’s café au lait but primarily hairless as a snooker ball.
The three friends penetrated further into the pub where they boisterously danced together. I wasn’t having anything to do with that! which was annoying the other dancers, who objected and pushed back. I didn’t see it but a lesbian split Charles’ lower lip.
We pushed through a thick mêlée along Old Compton Street for supplies. “Excuse me,” I said. “’Excuse me’?” I think a man said, staring at me. I didn’t understand except he wasn’t being unfriendly and I liked the look of him but had a thicket to penetrate. I wasn’t pushing into the off-licence and stood outside against the wall. I indicated to a solitary young man he could more quickly access the store if he squeezed into the space I made by moving slightly right.
We made our way back, recycled plastic and cans crunching invisibly underfoot. Charles and I stood outside the pub. “You’re feminine,” he said. “Yes, since secondary school. That’s why men have always been attracted to me.” He got the scar by being punched when he had his glasses on and the screw made it. His mechanical genius of a father hadn’t noticed till a fourth meeting. “I noticed at once.” Charles was in business with a friend who was a thief but personally trustworthy, much like convict John who shop-lifted but wouldn’t steal from friends. “Be careful, Charles!” I doubted. Charles was drunk. He was the bottom to Richard’s top but fucking wasn’t much entailed, so far as I could understand what he was saying. It sounded like it might be like my sex had been with convict John.
The four of us were diagonally across the street from the pub entrance. Charles went back in to pee. Jeff wasn’t going to join him but pee in full view. Adrian took exception to this though Jeff wasn’t actually peeing. “If he’s arrested by the police, it’s up to him,” I’m paraphrasing what Adrian said. That the police in the circumstances would do anything was unlikely. They’d been studiously doing nothing all day. I suggested Jeff go to the other side of us where there was an architectural dent in the building a young man had just peed into and Jeff did go there and I could see his cock was out but couldn’t determine whether he was adding another distributary to the delta already made because I couldn’t remember what exactly it had looked like before. In both instances he was looking to the effect of peeing on Adrian rather than doing it. Adrian stomped off to the pub. I followed after, not that I can remember what I said, if I did, or what exactly he said but he was having nothing to do with me either. He’d done something similar another time when Jeff had been careless about taking photos and I’d said not to make anything of something so trivial and he’d walked away from both of us, from me too because I was interceding for Jeff. I went back to Jeff, “I’m persona non grata.” Adrian went off down Charing Cross Road. Jeff said he’d be gone by August anyway. “August! I thought it was September.” They were divorcing. I don’t remember the context but Jeff said he was twenty-three. “Twenty-three!” I’d been led to believe he was older. “We’re not dependent on him. We have our tickets. We can do what we like.” Jeff thought Adrian was behind my remarks. I exonerated Adrian of that and apologised for my nastiness. thus admitting I had been. “Adrian’s a control freak,” he said and I agreed. Adrian wants things the way he wants them, probably including being given an excuse for a hissy fit. We embraced and he wanted a drink of my wine. “It’s red.” He quaffed it anyway. He was pie-eyed. “We’re drunk,” I said. We were waiting for Charles who was apprised of the situation. Adrian had come back to the corner of the street, explaining to Alix all he wanted was for everybody to be friends but John had said…. “Jeff and I are fine,” I said but that didn’t fit the bill. Alix said he’d brought Adrian back, he’d done his bit, it was up to us, and went back to the pub. Charles was talking with Adrian but not in a way so far as I could see would resolve the situation inclusively of me. Jeff had gone. “I’m going home,” I said.
At the entrance to the underground I handed my paper cup of wine to a down-and-out seated there who quickly rearranged to receive it. On the train I liked the profile of a young man I saw in the gap between headrests on my right but maybe his nose was too small and I didn’t like his eating and swigging so didn’t see him as he left, at Putney.