Wednesday, 31 August 2016

She Isn't Suffering

One of my schoolfriends - the one who liked the Manics and with whom I wanted to have sex - got married last week. I know this due to Facebook. I'd like to be able to say she told me, but I genuinely can't. I haven't talked to her much since we left the sixth form and I don't think I've ever actually ascertained where she went to university, what she studied, or what she did afterwards. I do know that she once wrote a blog (I read and commented on it, quite a lot) and worked at Sainsbury's for a while.

She probably still has an MSN profile somewhere; that's how I found out she had a boyfriend initially. It's that very boyfriend - the one she managed to obtain a couple of months after leaving school having been single for that entire time - that she's gone on to marry; I know nothing about him apart from his name, which sounds like it could be a character from Glee, but he seems like a decent sort. Since they've been together for about twelve years now, that's pretty cool.

My friend was single for all those years at school because she was, although desirable, somewhat untouchable. She was pursued, romantically, by a few people (including, of course, Lightsinthesky) but nobody really acted upon it - with the exception of my portly acquaintance who used the word "tingz" non-ironically, who got up the courage to ask her out. She said no, but didn't tell anyone he'd asked, except me (I kept the secret). He ended up going out with Lightsinthesky's ex, adding yet another thread to the web of saliva that kept encircling, yet never actually managed to reach, me.

The reason I say she was untouchable is because she was the sort of person you didn't really want to disappoint. She wasn't one of the pretty, popular girls despite being both pretty and popular. She was intelligent, hard-working and had a lovely smile, hugged people and had a good taste in music. She was inspiring, funny and clever, had a snappy dress sense and great hair. She even had a distinct scent, a mix of whatever perfume she used, which was attractive on its own.

It was a formula you didn't want to mess with. Nobody made any moves towards her because it was basically impossible. You don't want to ask in case she says no and you're let down, or she says yes and suddenly you're both in completely uncharted waters. She told me once, while we sat in a room together during a school residential trip in Year 12, that she was lonely; she wanted a boyfriend so badly. And still I didn't say anything. Nobody ever did.

When I told her that I was surprised she found a boyfriend, she took it the wrong way, although I think I managed to explain it quite well. This guy, whoever he was, had managed to do in a few months what a year of three hundred had failed to do in seven years. That takes guts, courage, bravado and rather a large amount of luck. But, despite not know who he is, I like him.

Because he makes my friend happy. And she finally got what she wanted... which is marvellous.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Logical

You put me into the cognitive-affective state, I wrote, characterised by intrusive and obsessive fantasising concerning reciprocity of amorant emotions by the object of the amorant. And I passed the piece of paper to Lightsinthesky.

I'd been dared to say "I love you" to him by... someone. I don't remember whom. Music Man? Man o' War? I doubt it was Einstein. In any case, I managed to complete the dare by doing so - as above. I just jazzed it up a bit.

Of course he was a little confused by what the hell I was going on about. I don't blame him, really. He was distracted, anyway, by the close presence of the girl he had a crush on. This was, of course, the girl I also had a crush on, but I'd like to think I was much less obvious about it. Every time she walked past, Lightsinthesky usually exclaimed something like "oh man, she is so FIT!", which gives you an idea of how lexically verbose he was in his teenage years.

I felt I owed him an explanation, so I wrote = "I love you" in big letters and pushed the paper back towards him. Once he'd understood what I was trying to do, he kind of understood. (I earned the 2p I'd been promised for the dare, anyway, and bought a penny sweet with it later in the week.) However, this did leave us with the conundrum of being in possession of a declaration of love on a piece of paper in the dining hall in the company of a girl we both had a crush on. She either hadn't seen or hadn't cared.

Lightsinthesky made his move. Theorising (probably correctly) that she wouldn't understand all the goobledegook that I'd come up with, he tore - quite neatly, truth be told - the I love you from the paper, and folded it up. Then, with a pointed look at me, he inclined his head towards her.

I wasn't sure how to react. Was I confused, amused, or scared? His intention was to pass it to her, and although he was passing it, it was clearly my handwriting. She was looking the other way as he started sliding it towards her lunch tray; she also didn't notice anything as she stood up, waved a goodbye to us, walked off and dumped the entire contents of her tray - an empty juice carton, a sandwich wrapper, some uneaten vegetables and my I love you - into the bin.

Lightsinthesky was incensed. His amazing plan, and one chance to say anything to her, was a failure. I did, trying to be rational about it all, explain that maybe he should try talking to her, rather than just staring as she walked past and being pleased when she sat next to us at lunch. But that all fell on deaf ears... for he had become distracted again by a large plate of chips.

Something else we were both attracted to.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Topi

One of the reasons I'm so careful with my tech is that my first laptop, which was my only computer available for years, got bashed about a lot by general clumsiness on my part. I used to take it practically everywhere with me, uninsured, to various locations as far-flung as Bristol, Birmingham, Blackpool, and a few places that didn't begin with B... including Africa. Bruised though it was, I often did manage to get it working again, up until the point where I was staying at TD's house (sans TD) for a week and didn't want to risk my new netbook. My laptop valiantly held out for a week of blog posts, essay writing and lacklustre Internet connection, despite being almost ten years old.

One place that I always took my computer to, despite probably not needing to as there were about 4,204,302 computers there already, was 47's house in Kent. The train from Victoria took a lot longer than you'd think, and the first time I went, I forgot not only my computer, but my 'phone and iPod too, so I had nothing to do (didn't have time to buy a book either...) and was practically crawling the walls of the train by the time it pulled in. I didn't make that mistake again.

It was one such occasion, on a train towards Kent, that I was sat at a table with my laptop open in front of me. I wasn't doing much: mostly playing Ice Climber on a NES emulator, if I remember correctly. I had about half an hour, by my estimate, until I got to 47's station, and I was just considering switching to a different game (I had Kirby's Adventure and that was pretty good) when a pretty Japanese girl of about my age sat down opposite me and flashed me a smile.

I grinned back, but couldn't do much else; I had my earphones in and the train was full of people. Plus, what would I say? For five minutes, while the Game Over screen of Ice Climber stayed open on my laptop, my entire existence consisted of nervous glances, shy smiles and general fidgeting. Trying my very best to look cool and important, I opened Notepad and started tapping away, as if I had something urgent to write and was utilising my time like one of those wankers you see on "business class" adverts.

An image from the previous year, of me writing an essay for university, hit me like a bullet at that point - only that time, the Japanese girl was naked and on my desktop wallpaper (and a nude model, no less). Here, she was sitting opposite me, and smiling.

I tapped at my keyboard continuously. I was writing a poem - yes, a poem - for her. No, about her. Hold on, that sounds creepy. About me. About me looking at her. Actually, no. A song. I'll write a song, yes, that'll do. It can be yet another of those songs in which I try to sing in Japanese. Okay, that works. What rhymes with Ice Climber?

For about twenty minutes of deletions and frankly awful loud/crowd, Utada/harder lyrics, the number of passengers in our carriage started to thin out as people drifted off towards more UKIP-focused bits of Kent than where I was headed. Eventually, and typically for these scenarios, the two of us were left. She got up, walked off to the end of the carriage - either to stretch her legs or use the toilet, I assume. I also assumed that this would be the last I'd see of her; there was an entire carriage full of empty seats and you probably don't want to return to sitting opposite the slightly creepy boy who's writing a song about trying to not look at you looking at him.

She returned to the exact same seat, sat down and flashed me a full beam smile and a nod. I couldn't help it - I smiled too.

Song kind of finished, I packed my laptop sway and made my way to the train doors at the final station. I stood aside to let her off first and then wandered through the concourse, scanning my ticket and walking out into the evening air. I noticed, as I walked through the door, the young lady getting into a taxi. Just before it drove off, she waved at me - an actual wave! Friendliest stranger ever!

"Who's that?" asked 47, as I raised a hand myself in farewell.
"I don't know," I said truthfully, "but I've written a song about her."

And, as I headed off with him for a weekend of indie and chips from a kebab van, I felt a lot more satisfied than I had in a long time.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Desperation

Long discussion about porn.

Porn. That's something I could do. It's been a while, and I have all afternoon.

So I open my external HD. Click. No, not that one. Not that one either. Not that one. I don't even know why I have that one. Why do I even keep this? Okay, that one is... yeah, not feeling it right now. I'll keep VLC open, though, just in case. Click.

There's this one scene I want to see. SoftPornTube. Click. There it is. Click. Oh - it's been deleted. Maybe I'll find it on XVideos. Click. There it is. Click. Oh - that's the same page. It's been deleted. Maybe it's somewhere on Pornhub? That's unlikely. Click. No, it's not there.

I'll find something else. YouPorn? Click. RedTube? Click. Ancensored? Click. Chaturbate? Click. She's pretty, but I'm more interested in hearing her talk about Death Note than watching her get off. Okay, maybe there's something good on Twitter or one of the blogs. Click. I've read all of these. Damn it.

My hands are a blur as I open window after window. Unfinished erotica shorts. Dead blogs still active. Porn on Tumblr. Picture after picture after picture after...

Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.

Stop, ILB! Stop! STOP!

I stop. Close all the windows. Breathe in.

What, exactly, do I want to do?

Click.

Open VLC. Watch a couple having orgasms together. Bring myself off afterwards. Go downstairs, make a cup of tea, go to bed and have a lie-down. Feel better.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Lines to do?

"Who are you trying to call?"

I looked up. I really shouldn't have done. This was a music lesson, and everybody was making such a racket that it was a wonder any speech could be heard over the din. Our music teacher, who had basically had enough, was hiding behind the whiteboard; I was at the grand piano working on my tune. Most other people had keyboards at their disposal, but - as I was working on my own as opposed to in a pair - I took the piano.

I wasn't a fan of the girl holding the 'phone to her ear. I had nothing against her, but she had proved herself to be rude, conceited and spiteful at points. I didn't really walk in her circles, but she was in my class, so we occasionally crossed paths. It was clear she didn't like me. Very few people did. By contrast, the girl who'd asked the question was somebody I did like. Not as much as she liked me (if the rumours were true), but she seemed genuinely pleasant and, while I had never exchanged more than a few words with her, they had all been good ones.

"Who are you trying to call?"
"Sex line."


Calling a sex line? At age 14? In the middle of a school lesson? Was I supposed to do something, seeing as I appeared to be the only one who had heard? Unable to look away, but unwilling to stop it in any way - wanting to see how this scene played out - I stayed where I was, tuning out all the chords people were playing and concentrating on their conversation.

"Hey, big boy," the girl holding the phone said. "I bet your cock is hard for me. I want to give you a cunt sandwich."

Yes, she genuinely did say that. The above line of dialogue is in no way fabricated - I was shocked by the filth that was coming from her mouth (and I also suddenly wanted a sandwich). Still reeling from the C-bomb she'd dropped, I almost missed the fact that she'd snapped her 'phone off and was swearing softly to her friend.

"What did he say?" her friend asked.
"He worked out that I was a kid, and he said he ain't got no time for kids," she replied mournfully. (Privately, I agreed. Once we were all past 16, anything seemed OK; I just wasn't sure this was appropriate at the time.)
"Hey you!" came a shrill voice which, I realised, was the voice of her friend - quite a distinct one; even over a rather basic Nokia you could have told it wasn't the same person. "I called up only wanting a bit of sexy fun, and you hung up on me! I'm gonna kill myself!"

Pause.

"I think he's hung up again," she said in a slightly conspirational manner. "I don't understand... what are we doing wrong?"
"Maybe we should try ag..."

Three dramatic chords rang out across the classroom. Not wanting to start any confrontations, I had decided to take action. Whether or not they were too young or in the wrong place or time to be making such a call, I was starting to feel sorry for the poor sex worker getting harangued on the other end of the line.


"That's not part of your advertising jingle, is it?" asked our teacher. "It sounds more like something from a silent suspense film."
"No, Miss. I was just warming up," I replied, following up by actually playing her my advertising jingle, a masterpiece of talent that rhymed "biscuits" with "risk it" and "cool" with "fool". This was the '90s: I was allowed.
"Oh. That's quite good," she lied. "I'll go around and listen to some more, and then we'll do the recording, shall we?"
"I think they're finished," I said helpfully, pointing to the students sitting the furthest conceivable distance from the girls on the sex line. She drifted off to talk to the boys in question, breezing swiftly past the girls, who hurriedly stowed the 'phone in a bag and tried to look busy.


The fact that they managed to come up with an advertising jingle in the remaining time was, frankly, nothing short of amazing... although, as I reasoned while making my way to lunch to (finally) get a sandwich, they may have already finished writing it before the lesson started. They evidently needed something to do in the meanwhile.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Nil by Mouth

I've been away. That's why I haven't been posting.

Where I went doesn't really matter. I had a good time - surprisingly good, if I'm being honest. I ate and drank and danced and screamed and applauded and slept and flirted. And I returned, after a couple of days - not to this house, but to my aunt and uncle's - for one final day of sedentary life and making sure four cats are okay.

They are, I'm pleased to report.

I went to work yesterday, feeling ridiculously out of place until someone mentioned David Bowie and I had something to contribute. I went back to my aunt and uncle's house, had a sandwich, waited for a while, had a pizza, and then went to SH to celebrate my sister's birthday and had some cake.

The reason I'm mentioning food so much is that I'm not allowed to eat any. I have a medical procedure tomorrow which may (or may not) yield results; I'll actually be in hospital for that. I've been let off work because hospital. Whatever the reason, I'm not allowed to have food. I was, before 9am this morning, allowed to have breakfast. I set an alarm for 8:30 which I promptly slept right through, and by 11:20 when I finally woke up, I'd passed that threshold already.

I'm not allowed to eat. Sips of water are permissible.

[Break during which ILB goes to get a glass of water. It doesn't taste good - or, more accurately, it doesn't taste like water. He is trying to ignore this.]

I woke up this morning (11:20 counts; it's still the morning) with massive horn. I know not from whence it came, but it felt both pleasant and frustrating enough to ignore. Working on a job application that I don't need to do in order to keep my brain active, trying to forget about how much I'd like a cheese sandwich right now, it returned. I could touch myself, I reasoned - having a morning wank would be pleasant and there's nothing in the medical notes that says I can't do that. It might even send me back to sleep, and that's a way to pass the time.

But I didn't, because I'm the sort of idiot who doesn't want to lose any fluid or nutrients when he's not supposed to take anything by mouth.

Still, at least it's not 5pm yet. I'm meant to take a thing then, and I'm expecting pain, very much as a result.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Sore Fingers, Bad Timing

My fingers were bleeding slightly by the time I finally put down the guitar. I hadn't played it for months, and even then, only a little in the past year - a few chords every now and again under the pretence of songwriting. I don't really have the space, never mind time, inclination or even a quiet place to practice. Since I'm not in a band any more, I don't even have anything to practice for, as much as I enjoy the music itself.

Here at my aunt and uncle's house, there's a lot more space; a lot more time, to boot - however little motivation I may have, the bit of me with some semblance of energy found time to go up the attic in SH, hunt down an acoustic guitar and haul it over here. With little else to do and having actually bothered to do the thing, I tried to remember how to play the instrument. Whether or not I succeeded may be debatable, but I didn't stop for about an hour, even though my mum kept calling to check if I was still alive.

By the time I made it to the bedroom with incredibly sore fingers, I'd managed to work myself into a frenzy. I'd been trying - and failing - to masturbate for several days; never actually achieving orgasm due to the sudden rush of panic I'd been feeling every time I got near. I'd had a manic day of doubt and fear (and, for some reason, guilt), but at least I now had the time.

India was on the bed when I lay down. She was fast asleep, and the ominous creak of the springs didn't disturb her. Maybe she was used to it. She also didn't seem to mind when I stripped off my trousers and pants, and made myself comfortable.

My hand screamed obscenities when I started. Torturing it with steel strings maybe hadn't been the best pre-masturbation activity, but I (genuinely) wasn't waiting any longer - I needed my release and, by extension, my rest. I switched on my iBrain, wheeled through various scenarios in my head, settled on one and rolled my foreskin back. A glorious twenty minutes of getting back in tune with my sexual self beckoned, and so it began to pass - comforting, familiar, warm, satisfactory. Relaxing, restful, peaceful. So, so good.

I lay on my side, bottom half still unclothed, breathing heavily, counting the beats of my heart thumping in my ears. India opened her eyes, gave me A Look, then gave a perfunctory yawn and went straight back to sleep. I closed mine in response and settled down for a post-orgasmic nap - actually straightening out or getting under the covers be damned, I'm tired and I just came and I'll take my rest, dammit! - and I started to drift off.

The doorbell rang about a millisecond after I fell asleep. I meandered towards the door before remembering I was naked on my bottom half, and while I was haphazardly pulling my trousers back on, it rang again. Twice. I cascaded down the stairs, my hair a bedheaded mess, face flushed and belt hanging loose around my waist. I heard the scraping of a key in the lock, and my heart leapt into my throat. Maybe my girlfriend was back early - maybe she'd find me here, dishevelled and sweaty and half-dressed and sexy.

I wrenched the door open with a grin spreading across my face.

"Nan?!"

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Meander

I've had this feeling before: it's late, it's dark, and I want to go wandering.

I can't, though. It's too late. It's really dark, though warm enough to explore, and I'm not as familiar with the bit of London in which I now live as I was with the bit I previously lived in - and was born in, brought up in, etc. - so I'm not even sure if there's anywhere to go. Previous nocturnal explorations from my parents' old house were always long and accompanied by music. I knew my way around; I could get back home from wherever I ended up.

This is different. It's a quiet neighbourhood, but the sound of emergency sirens have reminded me that there is a main road nearby. Not as large, perhaps, as the main road near my parents' old house, but large enough. Large enough to encourage a bit of wanderlust.

Once, while I was at university (first time around), I heard a noise in the distance through my open window, and was seized with a sudden desire to venture out into the night and investigate. I was in the Midlands - this was my final year, so it wasn't unfamiliar to me: just a little alien. At that time, I was on the verge of putting my shoes on and walking out of the house before I mentally checked myself. What was I supposed to be doing, exactly?

I sat back down and wrote a blog post about it. So that's what I'm doing now.

My urge to go wandering could be indicative of anything or nothing (or, paradoxically, both). It could be the need for a summer adventure (I am going on one in less than a week, so that may be it...), the memory of unfamiliar settings (the Midlands city; the familiar streets of my local area; Central London at night with 47 and no way of getting home; Somerset, where I spent last summer and the one before, spending many nights staring out of the window...), a yearning for physical activity, or maybe just aimless walking. I used to go for daily hour-long walks by the river in an attempt to lose weight; while this may not have worked, I got a lot of fresh air...

Some of my friends are at camp. Some are away in other countries. Some are taking the summer one day at a time. I've been at work, day in, day out, with no sign of a break yet.

And I still wish to wander in the dark.

It shall happen.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

An Empty Condom, An Empty Bed, And Subtext

I was in my university's union bar, trying not to let the music get to me while sipping my usual non-alcoholic cocktail. This was, of course, in my first year - I rarely went clubbing in my second, and in my third, I'd graduated more towards going to band three times a week and sex chatrooms when I had more time. I'd never really been clubbing before, but our union bar held weekly loud-music-and-getting-drunk nights. I went to dance for a couple of hours (on my own), drink things without alcohol in (on my own), kiss girls (on cheeks and hands and, occasionally, shoulders), and check out cleavages (with 47 on more than one occasion). Everyone went, and so did I.

Keeping in line with my life from the age of 18 onwards, I was perpetually single, and to be frank, the idiots getting off with other idiots on the dance floor were offending me. Not because they were getting off, exactly; I was absolutely au fait with the amount of sexual tension there was in a bunch of rowdy students. Nor was I offended that they were doing all this in public view: it made for an amusing spectacle. It's just that the dance floor was meant to be used for dancing, in my opinion. I tended to thrash around a bit, sprawling mass of limbs and hair that I am, and if I had to bump into one more kissing couple...

I weaved through the heaving mess of saliva and grunting and noticed, among other things, a discarded condom on the floor. Durex. It was still sealed in its packet, and I naturally picked it up (because I am a sucker for free things I find on the ground). It looked fine to me when I inspected it - no rips or tears in the packaging. Still felt relatively fresh, and it was well in date. Had probably just fallen out of someone's back pocket, I reasoned, slipping it into mine add to my own stock when I got back to my room.

"Have you met my friend Laura?" asked a girl I vaguely knew from sight. I knew a lot of the girls in my year; they all seemed to know me: I was the dancing idiot. Out of a mixture of courtesy and curiosity, I followed her finger, turning around... and there she was. 


Laura. Blonde hair cascading over her shoulders in countless, messy curls, sparkling blue eyes, nice body shape, and a cheeky, attractive quality. There was something ineffable about her - she was, as an unknown quantity, being given a bit of a wide berth by everyone else in the club. Drawn inexorably into her aura, I shifted uncomfortably and managed to rearrange my face into my default ‘flirting’ smile, hoped it wasn't too much of a grimace, and said hello.

The rest of the evening passed in a Laura-shaped blur. I hovered. I bought her drinks. I tried to make polite conversation. Eventually, I flirted. It was, at the time, something I was good at - flirty without being threatening; male without being masculine; sexy without having sex. I just never seemed to know when to start or stop, or where to go with it. But she was receptive, seemingly hanging onto my every word. I ended up, after a while, telling her she was sexy, gave her a big hug, earning a dazzling smile...

My room floated into my head. She'd be welcome there. It was tidy. My bed wasn't too small. There were Pokémon posters on the wall; everyone loves Pokémon. I'd been so terribly lonely for months now...

"Okay, well, I’m going back to my room," I heard myself saying to Laura, who (as I noticed with a certain grim fascination) was now more than a little drunk - which was, of course, my fault. "I might get a bit bored, but this is tiring me out." And I've got a condom in my pocket, I reminded myself.

"Well, when you get into bed, text me," she said.


I didn't need her to elaborate on that. Nor did I want her to. What was unsaid was a far sight more exciting than what was actually said. I doubt, however, that it was her intention to ascertain that I'd made it home safely. I just needed to walk across campus and make it up the stairs to my room in student hall. Hardly a difficult task, especially when not hyped up on Coke-and-cordial and chips with cheese (I always, somehow, ended up getting chips with cheese...).

"Oh... but I don’t have your number," I said.


Yes, that really is what I said. Not "could I have your number?", "I'll give you my number!", "I look forward to it!", or even "I will!". But I was aware that this sexy girl had asked me to text her without giving me a means to do so. In the pre-Twitter, pre-Snapchat, Faceparty-dependent days of 2003, this could be a serious setback.

She shrugged, laughed, and didn't respond any more than that, taking another sip of whatever I'd bought her and beginning to groove to the phatter bassline. I could sense her slipping away, but I didn't have much of a choice - I'd said I was going. I hugged her goodnight and walked off, out into the cool night air, and into the kebab shop to get chips with cheese.

I never saw her again. But, on the plus side, I got a free condom.


[Heavily edited and re-posted version of an article originally posted elsewhere. Hooray, bonus content!]