Monday, 29 January 2018

Do Not Want

"It's your birthday soon," my mother reminded me. "You've usually made a list of things you want by this point."

She wasn't wrong. My birthday's in March. I used to have a list ready by the end of January, just in case my parents needed the time to get a loan or something.


"I don't really have anything I specifically want," I replied, "but I've got a list of things I don't want..."

Which was true. I was more afraid of getting something I genuinely didn't want and having to feign gratitude. I wasn't very good at it, as I'd discovered by this point. The only thing I was really interested in getting was a new N64 game, and I doubted my parents' budget would stretch that far. I was 14, and sinking deeper into depression than ever before, I was beginning to lose interest in things I once liked. I had my books, at least.

In any case, I produced my list of "least wanted" and pinned it to the corkboard. I seem to remember the first one being something vague like "violent things", but at least it gave them a broad range of what not to aim for.

The second thing on my list was more defined:

Anything designed for spotty herberts. Like designer deodorants, "worrying teenager" books and the like... I am NOT an adolescent.

I'd had a lot of conversations with my dad about the definition of the word "adolescent" by that point, and the general consensus had been that adolescence was a state of mind, when one was confrontational, moody and rebellious. I've never been overly rebellious. I had some terrible times ahead, including days when I wasn't sure if I'd make it through the next 24 hours, but at this point, I was okay.

"It's true, though," my mother finally said after puzzling over the odd font I'd chosen to write the list in. "You're not an adolescent. I think you've outgrown that phase."

"Thanks, that's kind of you to say," I heard my mouth saying. My brain was running something more along the lines of

fuck fuck fuck! she knows! she knows i've given up watching porn! she wasn't supposed to know to begin with! don't say anything, don't say anything, don't... 

She'd vanished, presumably to do whatever it is she does in her spare time. Dodged a bullet there, I thought to myself.

One of the reasons I'd so strenuously pressed the issue of not being an adolescent is that I had made one of my frequent efforts to stop watching porn. I enjoyed partaking every now and again, but I was underage, and breaking the law by watching it (I think... it's not clear). I knew everyone else did it, and I knew lots of people masturbated to it, which I wasn't doing. But I felt dirty about doing so. I felt unclean. And, for no reason other than the fact that there were schoolyard snickers about it (the laughter, not the chocolate bar), I knew deep down that watching porn was wrong.

So I gave it up. Or, at least, I tried to. Some of my efforts were more successful than others - this one was working quite well. The TV in my room was mostly used to play Super Mario 64 and didn't tune in very well to Channel 5; I used to sneak downstairs to watch Gran's TV when I could, but that was risky; I enjoyed having my healthy teenage erections, but since I didn't wank, I had no idea what to do with them, aside from curling into the foetal position and waiting for them to go away.

As a result, I was kind of getting more sleep (insofar as "sleep" is concerned. I was staying in bed longer; I can never really sleep). This one was more successful - I hadn't even so much as seen an explicit image in over a week. I was making a concerted effort to think about it less, as well. One more month and I'd be totally clean. Of course I would.

i won't do it ever again, because i've given up, because that's the right thing to do, but if i start again she will probably find out, and then i will totally be an adolescent again, and anyway, i made a promise to jesus, so there.

I started watching porn again. She didn't call me an adolescent. I didn't get anything I didn't want for my 15th birthday, and in fact, I got The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, so as it turns out, there was actually something I wanted.

I've never been able to take a compliment, either...

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Soft Porn Sunday: Tina New & Jarod Carey

Among the glut of shiny, inoffensive sexy programmes that UK cable viewers got (and let's not forget the fact that they were all American imports - so they had to be syndicated to make it over here: a difficult task to begin with considering what I assume to be relatively low viewing figures), Passion Cove stood out. It had a fair amount of sex (unlike Red Shoe Diaries), managed to make it both hot and funny (unlike Compromising Situations), and wasn't heteronormatively, over-binarily, gender-definingly billed as 'women's entertainment' like Bedtime Stories (although that's not their fault... I loved Bedtime Stories too...).

The only thing that I wasn't too fond of in regard to Passion Cove was their propensity to use actors familiar from other softcore studios - mainly Surrender, but they used others. Kira Reed, Amber Newman, Susan Hale, Mia Zottoli, Regina Russell, Holly Sampson and Flower Edwards all turned up - as did Brian Heidik and "good ol' Jason Schnuit" - plus a number of older stars like Keri Windsor, Kim Dawson and Caroline Ambrose (in a non-sexual rôle as Samantha, the woman who owned the place). Into this rotating hurdy-gurdy of skin and curiously hairless body types some tangentially connected, but loose plotlines, are thrown... which, with any luck, we will completely forget about, as with Passion Cove, there's no important message at all hidden behind the softcore sheen.

Appearance: Passion Cove, Series 2: "The Bet" (2001)
Characters: Dusty & Paolo

"Hey, let's watch our friend have sex. That's not creepy AT ALL." 
This episode is discernable on account of the fact that it has a memorable plot to frame the episode, although it's a relatively weak one. Wealthy, successful, unreasonably attractive singletons Cassidy (Gabriella Hall, another Surrender regular), Dusty (New) and Mona (Judy Moulton) are all staying at Passion Cove when Machop Machoke Machamp handyman Paolo turns up. Suddenly all desperate for penis and floppy hair, the three friends make a bet that they can all seduce him in different ways. This happens, and they all end up having sex with Paolo (often while the others engage in casual voyeurism and watch!) at one point. Every day is Christmas!

I seem to recall it ending with everyone laughing, although I think that's how every episode ended. Or maybe that's The New Adventures of Robin Hood. Probably both.

There are three sex scenes in this episode, and they're all hot. Officially, my favourite is Mona/Paolo, which happens on a kitchen table and involves the rather callous disposal of salad, while Cassidy/Paolo is soft, warm and involves some very loud "fuck you"s to the other girls (in the form of "oooooh, Paolo!"). I didn't actually get around to watching Dusty/Paolo until quite recently, and then yesterday I found myself having a massive orgasm to it. Funny how these things work, isn't it?

Paolo, played by Jarod Carey, is - predictably - a very attractive man, if you're into that sort of thing.
"SHINY! Like a treasure from a sunken pirate wreck..."
He's not my type - but then again, I'm straight, so he wouldn't be - but he's all muscles, shiny dark hair and smiles, and puts in a fairly enthusiastic performance for someone whose character boils down to "cock with a hunk hanging off the end". He also doesn't appear to own a shirt, although judging by this, neither does Dusty, as played by Tina New, who spends most of the episode in a bikini, although she dispenses of it pretty quickly once this scene starts.


Tina New, by the way, is beautiful - a pretty, curvaceous redhead, but realistic enough to be believable - as are Gabriella Hall and Judy Moulton, who spend their time standing on a very obvious balcony watching. Given that this is Passion Cove, everything happens in the sun, outside, by a swimming pool, under a clear blue sky, with some lush greenery surrounding everything. It's all very pretty - and not just the actors - and that's matched only by the music, which is sparkly, twinkly and kind of swooshy at times (very professional musician terms there) and carries the scene gently through from commencement to conclusion. Certainly something I want to be watching during a January in London, anyway.

Sometimes there are boobs.
All this aside, what I like about this scene is that it is incredibly sequential. It could all be filmed in one shot - although it isn't; what is this, The West Wing? - as it's very fluid. We start with kisses - quite a lot of them, too, and they seem quite genuine (some soft porn kisses are brief, but these look heartfelt). This all happens while Dusty is disrobing, or at least Paolo is doing so for her, although she isn't wearing much to begin with. Her breasts are in shot by fifteen seconds in; he's kissing her cleavage by 33; and she's on her back by 42. It sounds like a rush, but it isn't - Paolo still has his jeans on by this point. They're just changing positions to make out some more, and even though Paolo removes her pants at 00:52, it's still going to be a while before they start to have sex.

So don't worry.

It's at this point that he begins to deliver soft porn cunnilingus, which is often difficult to simulate, but they manage it by having his head in between her legs and superimposing some kiss sound effects (which isn't as gross as I just made it sound, I promise). His hair helps hide anything vital, and Dusty arches her back and makes the "this is pleasurable" face, so it's at least a little believable. It is at this point that Cassidy and Mona wander in and watch while spouting dialogue, but it keeps them on the screen from a bird's-eye view, making sure our focus is on what's happening, rather than what isn't. Huzzah, actually good porn!

Oh man, I need a holiday.

One minute and fifty of kisses, rubbing skin and fairly dedicated oral sex later and he finally takes his trousers off (he doesn't appear to be wearing pants! Does he not own any of those either? How much do they pay these handymen?) and they begin to have sex, in the missionary position (which makes sense, since they were already kind of there anyway). The occasional grimace aside, this bit has a lot of intensity to it - fluid, sensuous rocks back and forth from both Paolo and Dusty, a closeness to their bodies that you rarely get to see, and just the right amount of movement. Enough, but not too much.

They're also not skimpy with the camera angles, either. It's very clear what they're doing.

And that's all they need to do. Kisses, clothes off, more kisses, some rubbing, some oral, and sex. Like
Just to make it clear: SEX!
I said, it's sequential. It's almost like it isn't overthought, and maybe that works to its credit. They're not a couple, friends with benefits, or having an affair: they're just hot people having sex with each other, mostly because they can, and the throwaway nature of that set-up belies the fact that there's a kind of sweet, natural rhythm to the way their bodies move and the way it's framed. Yes, it's outside and spacious and they are being watched, but it's also very intimate. And I love that.


And then they fall into the pool. Because of course they do. There's a pool there. It's a rule, or something.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

You're very mad, Chris

[This post contains use of the word "mad" as a mild to moderate insult. I have been advised that misappropriation of the word "mad" in this context may be seen as offensive. Apologies if that is the case. I have a history of mental illness and have never seen it as offensive, and in my defence, I was 13.]

In my first three years of secondary school, I was very skittish about discussing sexuality in any particular context. I never thought I'd be too interested in sex (ha!), and although I did develop a keen interest at a fairly early age, I didn't want to admit to it. In particular, I didn't want to talk about sex in the way that a lot of the rowdy boys at my secondary school did - using almost exclusively swear words in related conversation(s); the misuse of the word 'gay' as an insult; hyperbolic descriptions of puberty to the point of neuroses; 'whack-off' contests that may have involved biscuits at some point - and we didn't actually get sex education until year 9, which was probably too late.

One of the things I particularly didn't want to admit to was getting an erection. I was, of course, getting erections - quite healthy ones, whether engendered from year 7 reproductive biology, soft porn on L!VE TV or envisioning what it would be like to make love to the sexy, intelligent girl I sat next to in French - although not masturbating them to orgasm, but still, getting erections. I'm pretty sure everyone capable of doing so was getting one every now and again.

I lied, of course, and pretended not to have ever had one.

That's not what I said. When the topic was broached, often by one of the rowdy boys who liked to pick on the bookish oddball in the corner with no friends (let's call him "Chris", that's a nice generic name), I used to reply neither in the affirmative nor the negative. I didn't want to say yes, because of whatever reason, but I didn't want to say no, even though I'd been saying that for a while. I was fairly sure that either answer would have been weaponised somehow, and by midway through year 8 I'd spent the last academic year trying to convince everyone I wasn't gay. I didn't need something else to be spread throughout the school about me, even if it was that my cisgender male biological functions were actually working.

So I went with "you're very mad, Chris."

Chris would ask me at least once a day (although he often said things like "have you ever had a boner?" - me having only found out what the word "boner" meant the year before in the worst way imaginable). He and I were both in the same classes for a few things - including maths and science - and he found it amusing to drift across the room (seriously, his feet barely touched the floor) to ask me exactly the same question, and get the same answer.

"You're very mad, Chris."
"You're very maaaaad, Chris," he would often reply, imitating my posh voice. "Very maaaaaad. Very maaaaaaaad, Chris." At which point he would swan away.

I found this irritating, but it could have been much worse (and would have been, had I snapped and said yes or no); for what it's worth, I actually thought of it as a fairly adequate response. It wasn't exactly a direct insult to Chris, but it was a deterrent of a sort, a way to deflect the question, and relatively quirky by use of the modifier "very". He certainly didn't get any answer from me otherwise, although it didn't stop him asking, and in the end it became something of a catchphrase. I didn't even have anything particularly against Chris - even if he boasted about watching L!VE TV (which I did, but I didn't admit to that either) and may or may not have won a Spice Girls competition (which I saw reported in a local newspaper).

While puzzling my way through Maths one day in a darkened classroom, I noticed a shadow falling over my desk. I looked up, expecting to see Chris - and was slightly puzzled to see "Lisa", one of the bolder girls in the class (although I quite liked Lisa, she was a nice girl), instead.

"Hello, Lisa. What can I do for you?" I said pleasantly.
"I've got a question for you. Does your dick ever get hard?"

There was a brief pause.

"You're very mad, Lisa."

At which there was an explosion of raucous laughter from the other end of the classroom, from a corner of the less-interested boys and a couple of more outgoing girls, to which Lisa returned immediately after getting this stock answer.

"Pay up, Lisa," said Chris, extending his palm.

Monday, 22 January 2018

#squatgoals

Earlier this evening my girlfriend and I made a list (well, she dictated; I wrote, using a blue biro) of goals we would like to achieve in 2018. It's fairly short, but that makes it easier to tick things off. Some are achievable (her finishing her current job training; watching 52 or more films this year), some are achievable but difficult (me getting a more permanent job; making blog escape velocity this time), some are aspirational (take creative action! more financial stability!), and some are complete lunacy (me finishing NHS Couch to 5K no really this time).

Number four on our list is to save money for, and then take, a small break. Together.

Throughout our five-and-a-bit-year relationship, we have never really done this. We've gone to places for Eroticon and weddings, and I even booked us a hotel room for Valentine's a couple of years back (but that doesn't count; it's a hotel about 10 minutes' walk from where we lived at the time). These rare snatches of time where we stay elsewhere overnight. Sometimes we've even had two days, which is a fucking miracle.

But we have never actually had what could be termed a "holiday". We've never gone away somewhere together for any reason that isn't strictly business. We've certainly talked about it, and we've even had thoughts about where we would like to go. Even if it isn't anywhere particularly fun, the idea of spending more than a few hours alone with her, just enjoying each other's company in a room outside of our usual routine, is a glorious idea. It's wondrous. It's a fantastic idea...

...it's never happened.

I don't think we've ever been able to afford it. We don't really ever run out of money, but we don't have a lot of it. I most certainly don't, and in this day and age with living and working in London, the price of food (and books) and the sheer exhaustion of having been born in the '80s (and '90s in her case), any amount of money is a godsend. It doesn't last particularly long, and even the fact that I managed to buy a ticket to Eroticon this year is a result of nothing short of serendipitous fortune. I have thought, briefly, of doing something which makes us a lot of money in a short space of time so we can go somewhere, anywhere, even if only for a weekend and thus fulfil our life goal...

But let's get real. I'm not going to make any money. I'm a millennial.

It is, however, a goal. And it's more realisable, I think, now we have put it on a list. I certainly don't know when, or where, or perhaps most importantly, how... but I'm perfectly clear on why. And that, dear readers, is a start. It's a start, and if you want to finish, you may as well start.

Incidentally, does anyone want to sponsor us to go to Woodhull?

Thursday, 18 January 2018

A Winter's Memory

I had an unreasonably early start this morning and left my house while it still felt like the dead of night (although I am reliably informed that this sensation is known as 'winter'). Alone as I was, trudging down the street as lamps lit my way towards the station, something stirred in the back of my mind.

"Left my house while still dark," I tweeted. "Walking down the road in the pre-dawn darkness and I'm hit by memories of going to #Eroticon 2012..."

And so I did. I wasn't at the meet and greet drinks for the first 'con. Moreover, that one only lasted a day. A long day, granted, but since I was indisposed both the evening beforehand and the morning afterwards, I wanted to be sure I could get to Bristol, do 'con, have a meal and then get back to London all in a day. I'd only really been to Bristol once before, but I was sure it was possible.

"I had my ticket to Bristol," I elaborated, "but no way of getting into central London from where I was. I could just about get there if I walked into town ... as it was too early for buses and my local station wasn't running. It [was] a 40-45 minute journey on foot to the only station open..."

In fact, this was odd about my first 'con. I'd always assumed I'd be going, but hadn't actually gotten around to buying a ticket. I bought the cheapest day return to Bristol before buying a full-price ticket to the event itself (although I got both with little problem), as travel was on my mind at the time. I knew that I'd need to be at the venue by 8(ish); I even wanted to arrive into Bristol at 7:30, so I had time to explore and get lost, if that happened. (...it happened.) I could have walked to my local station, gone into central London and been in Bristol by 8(ish), but I didn't want to chance it. I'd already missed drinks; I didn't want to miss another second.

"So I got up at 4:30 and walked."


And this I remember. It was the only real option, short of getting a taxi. I could walk across my London borough in just under an hour and get to the only station that was open at 5. Getting to Paddington would be a tight squeeze in terms of time, even that early, but I assumed (correctly, as it turns out) that I'd stand a better chance of making it as a result of my extra effort (less one hour in bed).

"I have a memory, even [now], of walking down the road..." I tweeted - not the same road I was walking down this morning, but close enough - although I had no idea, at the time, what 'con would be like. I went with no expectations, ready to take whatever was thrown at me; I was not disappointed.

"...freezing cold, under the pitch black sky, with a light in my heart."

Yeah, so Eroticon may not be without its occasional blips, but it does give me some of the best memories - like this one, when stumbling down a darkened road in the small hours feels more like the start of a brand new adventure.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Quiz

"Okay, that's done," I said, handing over the printout of my tax return to my bookkeeper mother. "I've paid no tax and I won't get any tax back. That's a zero," I added, trying to make it sound like this wouldn't hurt. My dad, having painstakingly made lentil soup, sighed with something between braggadocio and desperation, indicating the bowls he had laid down some five minutes earlier. I put away my mother's laptop and scrambled around for spoons while she went to fetch the Guardian.

"Okay, but while we eat, can we do the quiz?" she asked, passing the supplement to my dad.

"Hmmm... okay, so... what did Julia Ward Howe write the words to, using the tune of a famous folk song?" he read out slowly and clearly.
Knew it. "That's The Battle Hymn of the Republic," I suggested, which he noted down.

"What's the Latin word for 'one'?" he offered.
Knew it. "Unus, I think," I offered. "Like uno in Spanish."

"Capital cities... what's the capital city of Tunisia?"
Knew it. "Tunis," I quipped. "The clue's in the name."

"Okay, one more. What links wood, glass, broken and..."
"Dildos!"
"...eclipse... excuse me?"
"Dildos?"
"What on Earth is an eclipse dildo?"

I reflected.

"One you can't see because of the moon?"

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Unreal Girl

Shortly after being dumped by Rebecca, I was informally asked out by two of her friends. As horrible as this sounds, one of them I genuinely didn't find attractive - she was too loud, too rude, too young, and not really my type - the other one, however, I did think was attractive. In fact, that was her job, more or less: to be sexy. She was a student just heading off to university (so the same age as me, or thereabouts); she was also non-monogamous.

It was the first time I'd heard of the term (although "polyamorous" was used more by her; it's the term I tend to use as a result), or even the concept - although Rebecca has to explain it to me. What her friend actually said was

i'm a slut slut slut! lol.

which didn't mean much to me, to be frank. Still, I enjoyed her blog (for what it was), and her presence. I never actually talked to her, not even on MSN, but she still maintained a kind of presence, up until shortly after Christmas 2003, when she said (well, she left a comment on my LiveJournal, I doubt "said" is the phrase...)

ps. will you go out with me? be my slut baby! lol

which was slightly clearer, even though I've no idea what a "slut baby" might be.

For me, sitting in my tiny room in student hall with only stacks of books and Emmanuelle: Queen of the Galaxy for company (and a very tenuous internet connection which I had to hack), this was a very tempting idea, although I knew very little about her - I knew her initials (K.A.T.E. - and her first name was Kate, which works), and a rough approximation of her age and original location, but very little else. I didn't know how she knew Rebecca; I didn't know which university she went to; I didn't even know what she looked like, apart from a couple of pictures which didn't seem particularly legitimate. I certainly didn't know why she found me attractive.

But, me being me, having recently been dumped for the first time, having no real friends at university and having not had sex for a few months (three years later, still having not had sex in that time, this would seem very trivial!), I reacted positively. I didn't exactly say "yes", because it wasn't exactly clear this was a genuine question, but I was heading towards it.

K.A.T.E. went silent. A few months later, she got engaged to someone at her university (then, allegedly, broke up with him after he got someone else pregnant), and after that, she went completely AWOL. I was barely talking to Rebecca that much, and when I did, neither of us mentioned her. I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to hear from her any more, and committed her existence to memory.

A few years later and the cracks began to show. K.A.T.E. didn't show up at Rebecca's funeral, and 47 didn't recognise the name when I asked. I idly browsed for her on social media, just in case she hadn't heard of Rebecca's death, and couldn't find her anywhere - she wasn't on Facebook or Twitter, and she didn't show up on Google. Her LiveJournal hadn't been touched for years; there were a couple of people with the same name on Google Plus (but without the A.T. middle names), but they weren't her. I tried to find an e-mail address for her, but the only one I could find was a ZZN (which bounced back). The only place I could find any record of anyone who was undeniably her was on (what was left of) Rebecca's website, which as of today still exists, but on a page which was long dormant, and still mentioned me in positive terms.

I don't like losing contact with people, even peripherally, but after a while I started coming around to the fact that she probably doesn't exist. I'm ninety-nine per cent sure that Rebecca invented her, although I'm also fairly certain that this wasn't anything malicious. Rebecca had read The Ethical Slut during our time together (and I'm fairly sure this precipitated the end of our relationship; I still haven't read it), had joined some chatrooms with a low number of female participants, and didn't have many friends outside of college - I would imagine K.A.T.E.'s ideation as being a little invention of an idealised friendship which got slightly out of hand - hence not actually ending up arranging to meet me, even for coffee as I eventually suggested. I was guilty of the same, to a lesser degree, although in the end I owned up.

I don't begrudge Rebecca for any of this. There are worse crimes than character creation - it's just fiction, and who doesn't love a bit of fiction? - and she certainly covered all bases, maintaining a token presence on what passed for social media. She was a talented writer with a vivid imagination, and if K.A.T.E. was indeed an idea that just spiralled out of control, then I can't genuinely image Rebecca herself as generating a lie for malevolent intent.

I'm slightly confused, of course, as to why K.A.T.E. asked me out - where was this supposed to go if I gave an outright yes? - and this also raises other questions. What if I had married Rebecca - wouldn't her absence from any wedding celebrations be conspicuous? Why did she have a separate 'phone number - and, if it was a real one (I never called it), where did she get the 'phone from? If Rebecca, as she said on multiple times, was trying to cut me out of her life, why did K.A.T.E. keep contacting me? These are probably all answerable questions, of course - but then it also makes me suspicious of other people she introduced me to, like her crush's girlfriend Hana (also poly, sexy, and unashamed) or her college friend Kirstie (who, genuinely, wasn't real - that one she admitted to).

I caught myself today suddenly remembering K.A.T.E., as if just a passing shade. I so wanted her, at the time, to be real. 15 years later, however, and that doesn't seem to matter any more. However real she was - even if she was a complete fabrication - she most certainly made a small impact... even if only in the tiniest corner of my memory.

Maybe she'll make it into my next book.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Wet-wipe

I walked, bleary-eyes and sleep-deprived, into work this morning to find somebody had put a free-standing whiteboard in the corner of the room. Placed it in the corner... and seemingly just left it there. Roaming as I was through the rows upon rows of computers, I caught a sideways glance at the board... and something twinged in the back of my head.

Three hours later and I realised what it was.

Dial back a decade (and a bit). At the age of twenty-one, I worked with my mum. I had a part-time job following graduation, but with relatively little to do during the weekdays, I volunteered my time to help out my overworked mother, in a position which practically demanded the immediate proximity of free-standing whiteboards. I also had other commitments - to the (real) band in which I met (the fictional) Karolina, my fledgling (aborted) film career and the excitement of recommissioning my SNES and playing through Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's King Quest for the umpteenth time - but I enjoyed this job. It was fun, rewarding, and more importantly, I got free food.

On this particular occasion, I was cleaning the whiteboard and soliloquising to myself (which I do a lot). I had plans that evening to see (read: shag) Alicia, and was narrating, under my breath, the relative merits of a sexual relationship with an older lady, when my mother emerged from the unfriendly side of the board. (I shifted positions at this point, handily hiding my erection.) She had noticed my absence, and needed help with a particularly troublesome client. I gave her a promise that I'd be there... once I'd finished wiping the board clean.

"You seem distracted," she observed. "Are you OK?"
"I'm fine," I replied honestly. "I just didn't sleep much last night," and I won't do so tonight, because I'll be spending most of it entwined between a beautiful pair of thighs. This is going to be a good night. "You OK?" I added, in an effort to sound politer in real life than I did in my head.
"Well, I did need help with..."
"Coming!" Which is what she's going to be doing. Last time, I brought her off using my tongue. Tonight I'll do that again. Make her warm and wet, and then I'll slide into her. I love my life! "Quick as I can!" I still can't believe I'm actually having sex!
"What are you muttering about?" came my mother's voice, interrupting my rêverie and handily reminding me where I was.
"Oh, nothing really," I lied. "Finished now. I'll be with you shortly."

And I went to join her, a silly grin on my face and lone "WTF?" left scrawled, unpurged, on the board. In my own handwriting, obviously.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Eulogy

In year six, a few of the boys in my class started what they called a "gay club". This wasn't what one might think a "gay club" would be consisted of - but then this was year six. The club would wander around the playground, telepathically zoning in on gay people (arbitrarily pointing at random), yelling things like, "AAARGH! I'VE PICKED UP A GAY!". Most people thought this was hilarious. I thought it was insufferable.

I tried several tactics to stop them - using my (self-imposed) status as Superintendent of the LSPD (local school police department) to run an investigation; following them around to casually remind everyone they pinpointed that they probably didn't know what "gay" meant, anyway; and bursting into hysterical tears to yell that I knew people who were gay, and that it shouldn't be used as an insult at all. That shut them up.

See also: my defence of homosexuality in year 7 (which, apparently, made me gay for a year or so); my defence of homosexuality in year 8 (ditto); my defence of homosexuality in year 9 (by which time people were sapient enough to understand what I was getting at; I was beginning to be surprised at this point that I was still the only one making the points that I was making). The fact that I knew gay people was occasionally wheeled out as a final point of justification, at which everyone usually demanded to know who (as if that person or persons would suddenly walk around the corner).

I'd hope, of course, that even without knowing my mum's best friend and her partner, I wouldn't have flirted with the amount of casual homophobia boys in my local area tend to adopt as a badge of how much into sports they are. But this will have to remain hope, because I did know them. I've known them since I was born.

My mother met her best friend - her dear heart - when she was at university. They clicked, and they've been the closest ever since. I can see why - her friend is smart, funny, friendly and homely: she radiates an aura which makes one feel like you are sitting by a fire with a Peanuts book and a cup of tea, which is exactly what I spent most of my time doing during our frequent stays at their house in the Midlands (well, that, and playing Alex Kidd in Miracle World on their Master System in the spare room or watching soft porn on their cable TV - although I only did that once...). As I grew into adulthood, I began to visit them independently, and discussed more wholesome pursuits like why they should be watching Father Ted and why I was able to access my university's network from their computer so I could waste my time do some of my coursework from their lounge. I even confided in them my secret crush, which (up until then) had been a secret.

My mum's friend came with her formidable partner - a Scottish lady with a beautiful accent, severe haircut and similarly warm radiation, so much so that being in a room with them was like a Mediterranean summer's day. They worked well together, had a lot of time for each other, and showed that there was a lot of love between them, in the same way my parents did; during my youngest years, nothing about them came close to being unusual or unworldly. I started school at 4 (or 2, if you count nursery) already knowing an openly gay couple, so I didn't need to be told it wasn't "wrong". I already knew.

I wish I could say that this was the only reason that my mum's friend's partner's recent death was a bit of a blow. But I can't say that. Her sole purpose wasn't to teach me that some people are gay (in fact, I don't think either of them even mentioned it once - they just were). She told me a lot about dogs, lent me books and audio tapes, laughed at my jokes, listened as I talked her through how to change the sounds on her computer, and tried to convince me that living in Grantham was nothing to do with Margaret Thatcher (although I suspect that they were the only two Labour voters in Grantham during the 80s). She liked children, animals, and other people, and was excellent company.

When I was asked to write something for people to include in her memorial, my first thought was that I should mention how her relationship with my mother's friend was my first contact with homosexuality, and that I was blessed by this, letting me grow up without the prejudice that a lot of my friends displayed. But I wrote a paragraph without mentioning it. If there's anything one can take away from life, it's that someone's sexual orientation shouldn't be an issue. Everyone is an individual, and the fact that she was gay doesn't matter any more than her grey hair, love of dogs, ability to make a good cup of tea, affinity for Call My Bluff, or frustration with the first level of Alex Kidd in Miracle World.

My mother shall miss her. And so shall I.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Love Hard

Now I'm over the hill, too many thrills
Too much to choose from, it's making me ill
Let's go over the top, so give me a pill
Too much to choose from, it's making me ill

I have, over the past few days, been loving her particularly hard.

Wait, come back! I probably need to explain. Of course it hasn't been like I didn't love her this much before. I've loved her for a long time now. We've been a couple since the end of 2012 and you don't last this long without love. That's not what I'm trying to say.

What I am trying to say is that, since the New Year, I've spent a lot of time lying awake at night, and with nothing else to do, I've been overanalysing things, looking at our relationship from different angles and, sometimes, trying to do the impossible: viewing it as an outsider. I can look at other couples - Robinson and Lovely, their relationship having lasted for more than a decade before they took the next step; Hairy Friend and his American wife, still as tactile with each other as they have been since they met; 47 and his wife, a relationship I've championed since its inception - and see the spark there. Hell, with some couples, I can practically feel it.

With us, the spark has always been there. Sometimes, I will admit, it's difficult to channel. There are those dull moments - where she's out at work and I'm sitting alone, wondering what to do - or when I'm working away, glad of the summer freedom but missing what I have when home. It's an odd feeling to lie awake next to a sleeping girlfriend and think about how much you love her.

I mean, I tell her. I tell her I love her every day. I say it over and over and over again, because despite what some people think, I don't think it can be said too much.

But there's more to it than that. I look at her and I tell her she looks pretty. I laugh at the cute things she does and listen to the stuff she tells me. I try to make her laugh too, with varying degrees of success. We talk, we cuddle, we kiss, we joke, we bitch. Through all this, I tell her I love her. But on my own, I constantly remind myself. I catch myself looking at her, or thinking of her - maybe something as simple as a smile or an in-joke we share.

And for the past few days, it's been my oxygen. I've been very tired - no sleep, no energy, very little inspiration and in a lot of pain from my injured mouth (which I'll tell you about some other time). Some days, it's been a struggle even to stand up straight. But I'm stronger, because I love her. I am protected, because I love her. I am supported by my love for her. I think it's that, above all, that keeps me going...

...so that is why I have been appreciating her more than ever. Because, even though she's there for me when I need her, it's nice to remind myself of that. So I do.