Boarding the train, I went one way for a seat and John the other, where he took a single seat. I sat beside a bearded young man who kept looking at me furtively. Opposite was a boy who said we could have where he sat, vacating it to sit across the way. “Thank you,” I said, “he’s fine where he is.” The boy across the aisle from me in taking something out of his pocket dropped a 20p. I picked it up to give him. “Thank you, Eric,” he said in a coarse voice suggesting he’d get out at Feltham. I noticed a 5p. “This too.” “Thank you, Eric.” “Who’s Eric?”
“Are you Scottish?” he was going on the accent. “No. British.” “Scotland’s part of Britain.” “Yes but I wasn’t born there.” “Are you gay?” he asked, making another deduction from appearance he wanted confirmed. “Is that a pass?” I asked. “What?” “Are you making a pass at me?” “You look like Jimmy Savile.” I don’t, “He was a paedophile.” “Have you seen yourself in a mirror?” “When I’m shaving. Have you seen yourself in a mirror?” He was not pretty, unlike the younger boy. There was something wizened about his eyes. He could’ve been sixteen. The girl seated other side the younger boy laughed. I stared at her, “You think this is funny?” She held my gaze. “You’re encouraging him.” He put his feet up on the seat – I said nothing – and one shod foot between the legs of the younger boy, a homosexual act to assert dominance, as I thought to say before saying nothing. “Get your foot off my balls,” the younger one said and decamped to the seat behind where he’d originally been sitting.
The Feltham boy said I’d – I forget the exact verb he used: not roger, not fuck, maybe had – John the night before and, he added, John me. Although the boy was making a bid to draw John in, John had good reason to stay out and I’d’ve stopped him if he did intervene. I am perfectly capable of dealing with any situation I find myself in, the difficulty being articulating the appropriate words for that moment. John had …I’d’ve said, only come that morning before breakfast but that would’ve been raucously interpreted and in any case none of the boy’s business, nor meeting the intent of his statement. He said I reminded him of Eric …Smithers, I think that’s the surname he gave, and that he himself was called Jimmy the Machine, a source of pride. Why machine? I didn’t ask. He asserted his heterosexuality with reference to the girl. “If you have to prove you’re heterosexual that’s the first proof you’re not. I wouldn’t have you if you paid me oodles,” I said. “What’s oodles?” “A lot. You’re rough trade.”
They retreated as one along the carriage. “That was embarrassing,” I said. “Did I do okay?” The train stopped at Feltham. “Back in a moment,” John said and alighted, an odd time to dissociate himself now they’d gone. He’s going for the guard I thought. I saw the younger Feltham boy go through the barrier and wondered if John had got back on the train. I recognised him farther down it.
We met up again on Staines station platform, walking to its boat club where we had coffee with the gluten-freaks, Sandra, Jacqueline and Wendy who talked of their diseases other than the coeliac I share with them and the glutenous John not. After lunch back home again, we went up town to Waterloo, walking across the bridge into Gay Pride. A fat girl was being arrested by police. Why? A small brown man stepped out of the crowd to tell me. “A public nuisance,” I concluded. “Don’t get involved,” I told John who got involved, rearranging the fat girl’s legs into recovery position, then rearranging the body onto its side to follow suit. Once satisfied, John left off. A policeman’s arm was glistening with spew.
Trafalgar Square was barricaded off and people were let in through a sequence of pens like sheep. I demurred. To end my bleating John moved on and we came upon the actual parade, as he thought I’d intended: a lot of exhibitionists showing off and a thick crowd being socially agreeable. It was as boring as a Belfast Orange Walk. We looked for a park. John got his bearings in Old Compton Street which was jam-packed and where footing was made insecure with bottles and cans. John moved in the wake of policemen and I in his. I lost sight of him at the corner with Wardour Street and, after waiting a bit for him to come back, went home. There I ate two bits of fruit before hearing, “John!” from outside. There was John with my bottle of wine and corkscrew. He’d’ve felt guilty he said next day if he’d gone to his own home and drunk it.
My neighbour is eschewing transgender or having himself castrated to become a eunuch. After all, “you have an arse,” I said, should the woman inside every man want to be accommodated.
Moncie called up and I let her in though she turned up her nose at all my offerings. She likes going under the bed and when I rolled onto my side so did she. She also likes being let out the front door to the block.
John left at quarter past twelve. He’s since complained I only wanted to show myself in a good light in this blog and not him, so I’ve added on the second half which I’m sure you’ll agree isn’t interesting.