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Ending up

  Fri 18th November 2016

Wendy texted me: "I'm off next week and school's back. So?" An unintentionally sexy message, which made me want to reply, "Prosecco, coal fire, and sex on the stairs?"

Instead, we spent Saturday night at a party at Kitty's. Melissa was up from London with her one-year-old son. It's an impossible kind of thanks to give a mother, but I was grateful that she didn't ask me to be part of the ritual adoration. She's aware I'd be faking it, and generous enough to spare me from it. Kitty moved solicitously about the room, never leaving a glass empty. Someone I know a little turned up with a guitar and played it well, which was far better than the tinny pestering pop music of Radio 6 that Kitty always puts on during social gatherings, and which I surreptitiously turn down when no-one's looking.

Wendy looked darkly beautiful, and there was a moment when everything -- for me -- went completely silent and still, as the low light washed her décolletage in infinitely shaded browns. My desire for her later found a stupid form of expression. As were sharing a chair together, I went, without thinking about it, to kiss her on the cheek, but at that very moment she turned slightly away, and I ended up holding a closed-eyed pout an inch away from her. I wasn't embarrassed; more, irritated with myself that I had, for the thousandth time, given expression to an wanted and unreciprocated desire.

It's busy in the Penny Bank on a Saturday afternoon, and I ask if I can attach myself to the end of a long table of older men who are absorbed in the racing. The barmaid comes over to change ours of the numerous televisions over to the rugby, and is met with a spontaneous "no!" from those seated beneath it.

A horse with a name which might be designed to illustrate the ponciness of the French language -- Tarquin de Seuil -- is in the next race. I collect a slip and put £2 on it. I am surprised at how absorbed I become for such small stakes, when my fellow gamblers are passing tenners and twenties around. As the race reaches its conclusion, my horse comes up on the inside, and I am levered up, as if a puppet, into a standing position. I shout fistily at the screen -- "Fucking got it!" Back from the bookies with £16, I understand that the unspoken protocol is now to divest oneself of one's winnings, and I do so, in a further hour of unsuccessful bets and sweary conviviality.

I text Kim, saying that I've found the pub for us and the dog when they come over for a few days between Christmas and the New Year. I imagine us sitting together there, me licking up the misapprehension of others as they flick their eyes between us, wondering and envious of me, their vague imaginings of sex.

I take the phone outside. The Jehovah Witnesses are at their stall, the men in their excessively correct American suits, the women dressed with such a boxy, secretarial severity that it's almost sexual. I want to ask Kim about her experience of sex clubs, and what to expect in a first visit. I am possessed of -- and sometimes by -- a drive, the like of which has never been as strong, or seemed so natural. It's a synaesthetic spectrum in which art, writing, reading, dancing, music, drinking, drugtaking and sex, all bleed together. An old Modernist and Romantic trope, I know, but no less real for that.

Its quality, however, is diluted by my lop-sided relationships with women. Dates end with me being told I'm "sweet", a word which makes me want to smash my pint to the floor; female friends take my arm, not my hand, which makes me feel like a jaunty Enid Blyton character about to enjoy sharing a beaker of lemonade. Being treated like this, over and over again, can occasionally accumulate to something between unease and humiliation.

One could think of more attractive a setting than a sex club in Blackpool in which to explore it, but I want, at least occasionally, the first premise of meeing a woman, to be sexual.

Without knowing of this plan, my mother wrote to me last week. "Have you read The Book of Revelations? That tells you what happens to people like you."


Comment from: kono [Visitor]

If there was one thing i was never called by a woman it was sweet, in my wasted youth (and beyond) i remember more than a few times being told i was an ass or prick and then the female in question would say something like, “don’t worry i’m still gonna fuck you", why they did i have no idea…

and don’t get me started on the ponies, i love the fucking track, what better place to study humanity than with the degenerate gamblers and substance abusers of the world, first bet i ever placed was an exacta, my horses finished 1-2 and my $2 netted me $54, i was hooked, don’t get there like i used to but damn i love that place…

Tue 22nd November 2016 @ 11:38
Comment from: [Member]

I get the same half-dozen adjectives all the time, and they make feel sick, like a loveable little puppy and I’ve had enough of it.

I’ve applied three times for jobs in a bookie’s and got as far as having had one interview. I also feel around my own in a betting shop, the same weaknesses being tolerated – and exploited.

Tue 22nd November 2016 @ 12:15

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The Comfort of Strangers

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