Just after four I went to Adrian’s where he, Sarah and I shared the English 1503 I’d left earlier, as good as champagne. I asked if there was any food I, a gluten-freak, could eat. Sarah felt remiss. It was a shared birthday party, sparing me the need to tell here it was his fortieth though my pop-up card on the mantelpiece there blared it. Adrian presented me with a plate of vegetable chips I grazed on throughout. Sean sampled some later. The English-San Marino match was on the tele for whoever wanted to watch it.
I checked Adrian intended to have his front teeth removed and replaced by screw-ins, saying Greg had that and they were weak. “Don’t do it. You’d lose distinction.” Sarah added her, “No!” “You could have them capped.” They are chipmunk.
Cherie came, though going on to another do at the Princes Head. I asked was Donna, and Ryan, coming. Donna wasn’t invited. Cherie expatiated on her various problems that day: the TV set broken, the car clutch gone and having an unemployed son staying though he was no problem compared to the ongoing one of her eldest, Jack, she loves to bits but doesn’t get on with. He doesn’t get on with anybody. His girlfriend’s chucked him. This was her conversation piece. I said I liked her breasts, and hair. “What are you after?”
Adrian had installed my spider plant he’d wanted on an outside sill in the garden into which Lisa made an entrance and embraced her three friends. I was wondering…. Then me. Danny’d brought his daughter, Holly, who’s dyspraxic. Danny explained what that entailed, basically that Holly reads the same book over and over till she gets it. Back in the big room again I danced, a lot apparently, with Holly apparently. I do remember attempting to teach Sarah manually what were her secondary sexual characteristics and what her primary one, effecting on her part repetitively protective hand movements, her body jackknifing several times until I desisted. I think she learned the difference.
When Angie came I asked where was Kevin and postulated he wasn’t here because she, his mother, was. I had a talk too with Daminda, who looked bulky from all his physical training, about the programme on Buddha I’d seen, expounding that there was a whole lot less suffering among the poor in Britain now than India then. My life had not been one of suffering. He’s thinking of moving out of London when he’d see his son for longer.
Tess came, Karen, Kama, Sarahmei and Christina. I forgot four of them till Adrian reminded me. I can’t remember what was said at each entrance. Kama went for the football I think. Christina passed through the French window with few inches to spare and it hit me, “She’s fat.” “She is,” Adrian agreed. Apparently I talked a lot, to everybody. I did ask if Rich was coming. He wasn’t but he’d sent a card, etc. “Charlie Carlos is coming, for you,” Adrian said. “Is he!” Adrian was having me on; we were thought too low. “He said I was the lowest of the low but I can’t remember why.” Nor could Adrian. None of his rich friends were coming. “They could put in an appearance. They don’t have to stay.” I said Adrian was a millionaire because his house was worth over a million. Caitlin, I think, objected that if he sold it, where would he live? “He’d buy a smaller one.” He would not then have a million £s. They were thinking in terms of cash, I thought, giving up, “Everybody takes what they already have as the base line. I have nothing.” I do have a little, nothing much.
I may have squeezed Nick’s bum and groped towards his balls, maybe towards Sean’s too. I asked Nick how many men he’d had. A hundred in a short space of time, more than I’ve had men and women in my whole life. I was a bit surprised because he’d just come out. He was bragging and I can’t remember the length of time, maybe from Xmas last, but did work out it was fewer than two a week, which didn’t seem that many. I must’ve evinced a liking for his hairy arm because Sean asked if I liked hairiness and I admitted I did, not that that necessarily meant I didn’t like Sean, who was a smooth man.
Adrian must’ve put them to guessing how old I was because he asked how old I was, “Seventy-six?” “Seventy-seven.”
I hadn’t known Carlos was out of a relationship and free to chance his arm with another woman. Hannah said she’d have him. “All a woman has to do to get sex is make herself available,” I said. “Hannah’s available,” I was encouraging Carlos, who seemed unwarrantedly reluctant, until Caitlin said Hannah was a lesbian, at which point I discouraged Carlos.
Emma-Lee wanted my Japan jacket. Adrian said not to give her it. “If I give it to anybody, it’ll be Quentin,” who speaks Japanese. She took pictures of it. She offered money. She wore it. Adrian said to give her it. I didn’t. I needed its warmth for the way home since I was wearing my red see-through I’ve had for fifty odd years.
Daminda was looking down, I remarked to Sean, and I wanted to cheer him up and did apparently by my continued conversation with Sean about having done my heterosexual duty and perpetrated the species, because Daminda was smiling.
Rob gave me a hug. He’s left the army and doing painting and decorating with the odd bit of plumbing which I thought might come in handy now I’ve a washing machine which is bound to break down. Sean kept looking at me from the sofa where he was ensconced with Hannah and I looked back.
Sarahmei was the eleventh of thirteen children and felt she was unwanted. Grandma’d had twelve. A lake with an island in it was mentioned. Java wasn’t big enough I reckoned. “Sumatra?” “Yes.” I was amazed at being right. Her father was a general who’d died when she was a child. She was left nothing. Tears seeped. She also spilled drink on my crotch. “Don’t worry about it.” It’d look as if I’d wet myself. I took her in my arms and said she wasn’t unwanted, had made her own way in life irrespective of family; she lived in London. After I left her on the sofa she fell asleep. A man called John Adrian didn’t know came to take her away.
I couldn’t believe it was one o’clock. I left at two. At the door Adrian was seeing me out and I completely forgot this ensuing preliminary until he told me he had asked me not to tell what he wanted to tell me but thought maybe he shouldn’t, because I thought he hadn’t told me not to tell, and it came back to me he had, which makes it so much worse I blogged it and it came up on Facebook and Twitter, my only excuse being aesthetic. I wanted to write it. I would not exclude it, whatever the immorality in betraying his confidence. On writing out the party to the meagre extent I could remember its events, this was obviously their culmination. It had to be included. He wanted to tell me something but I mustn’t tell anybody, did I promise not to, etc, he was swithering back and forth, knowing what I’m like. Why doesn’t he just tell ne and take his chances? I now remember thinking. He confided Sean had groped him. I know I thought something here because I can see it between what came before and what after but what it was I can’t realise because, I’m guessing, I didn’t know what to make of what he’d told me: for starters, it was a nothing, at a party; secondly, why was it important to him that he felt the need to confide it? There was no elaboration, no context. I didn’t know why Sean did it. I think I thought it wasn’t to do with me because whatever I may have done that incited it was way back in the distant past of this party and I couldn’t remember what. Besides, all moral or emotional response was …obliviated.
I weaved down the road. Turning into the dark entrance of the Vineyard graveyard, I was falling and hit my upper lip against a grainy stone. My front teeth were intact but there was blood, drying on my hand.