SILLY BLOODY HAT

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Just talking about silly hats, and I remembered this one… And the tears just run down my cheeks like a spoilt child! Marie was the only woman I ever knew that would wear clothes entirely for comfort rather than for show. She didn’t care a jot that her silly bloody hat looked ridiculous, that her duffle coat was twenty years out of fashion, as long as she was warm, she was happy.  And this the woman who would think nothing of spending two hours torturing her tumultuous hair into tight ringlets after washing it! But this was not a fashion thing it was a practicality… naturally her hair would be a well-sprung thatch, a storm cloud above her head, so the trussing was an essential part of her well-being. I miss her silly hair, I miss her silly bloody hats… I miss every bloody inch of her gorgeous body. These are the thoughts and feelings which populate every minute of every day, if I let them. I hold them tight in a net, but sometimes they leech out and cannot be contained.

oh hum.

Dale’M’

GHOST RIDERS IN THE SKY

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GHOST RIDERS IN THE SKY

There is a moment of time in the regular regime of a hotel in the middle of the afternoon where nothing much is happening. A moment when two young scalawags can safely adventure towards mischief. This was such a time. Having been invited back to the Hotel for tea, by the son of the owner, we wheedled our way up from the Friary, our school, to the citadel of the hotel, which crested the hill about a half mile distant. Chris, the son of the hotelier, had recently become a close bosom friend. As was the nature of schoolboy alliances, it was not a long lived dalliance, we lived too far away from each other to become regular buddies… But my butterfly nature made it difficult to maintain a regular best friend… I got bored easily! So this trip to the Cathedral Walk Hotel was a novelty, a new experience for me. At the age of twelve, this was my first visit to a hotel in this country… and only my second visit to a hotel in all my days. The first had been in Spain, where I had learned a valuable lesson… Spaniards had a penchant for cute Blond boys, I had been able to get pretty much whatever wanted from the staff, cokes, ice-creams, sweets whatever, all I had to do was smile at them and they would fawn like servants to my every need. A heady reality to a boy of six, which I had exploited for most of the fortnight we were away, until my mother discovered my sophistry, and told me firmly I was not to take treats from strangers… “But Mum, they are not strangers! It’s Pablo and Maria, they work here!”

They are not working all these hours just to provide you with free drinks and Ice creams, young man! If you want a drink or ice cream you wait until we get you one… Don’t exploit the good nature of the staff!”

What does exploit mean?”

It means you are being spoilt, so stop doing it!”

This had taught me a valuable lesson… When you’ve got a good thing going don’t let your parents find out about it!

Back to the Cathedral Walk Hotel. Chris and I trudged around the back of the auspicious facade of building and entered through a side door. His mother sat in their kitchen, drinking tea and eating a large slice of Victoria Sponge. She was a rather round and squat lady, and I felt a little swamped by her mass. She was however, a very pleasant lady and smiled at us. She hugged her son to her and whispered words of endearment which I didn’t understand. She bade us sit around the table and brought out Ginger beer and sandwiches and more cake.

mangia i miei piccoli!”

She left the kitchen to answer a bell, which range from the main foyer.

What did she say? Why does she speak foreign?”

My Mum’s Italian. She said eat my little ones, I think… I’m not totally fluent in Italian.”

That’s so cool, I wish I had an Italian Mother!”

He ate. I ate too. He looked pleased. I had passed an unwritten test. I was not judgemental of his foreign Mother, I’d said it was cool to have an Italian Mother, and though he secretly thought so too… He would never have said it out loud. After tea,Chris had asked if we could go and play up in the unused hotel room, which he had been allowed to use as his playground. He went upstairs to the reception and brought back a big iron key. We walked up the backstairs and snuck along the corridor to the room where he played.

This room was exciting. It had a sink on one side of the large double bed, the first time I’d ever seen a sink in a bedroom. The large wardrobe housed a massive collection of toys and games.

Chris brought out a large board on to which was stuck a subbuteo felt. Subbuteo was a game which was all the rage in the seventies, it allowed boys of a certain bent to recreate the excitement of a football match in the safety of their own bedroom.

The board was set up on the top of the made-up bed and we each chose a team. He chose the blue of Chelsea and I had to make do with the Red team. He didn’t have a team in the colours of my favourite team, Aston Villa. Red would have to be Liverpool. When I told him that my Granddad had been offered professional terms for Aston Villa, before the war, and that he had won an international cap for England as an amateur… Chris had claimed an Italian Uncle who had played for Inter Milan, and been picked for Italy, this too before the war. I wasn’t sure I believed him, but when he said that his uncle had been killed in the war, just had my Grandfather had been, we saw this as a union. We had both lost our claims to fame. His Uncle had been killed in Italy, just as my Grandfather had been… But on opposite sides of the wire!

We played our game of subbuteo… Flicked our players into a stalemate. 2-2.

Where’s the toilet?” I asked, as the ginger beer went straight through me.

You can piss in the sink.” He pointed to the basin beside the bed. I looked at him aghast. The thought of sullying such an innovation as a sink in the bedroom, with my hot piss I felt was sacrilegious.

In the sink?”

Of course, that’s what I always do. Fuck it! It’s easier than walking all the way down to the back kitchen!” Strangely, this was the first time I’d ever heard anyone of our age use the word Fuck! I’d heard it frequently when listening to adults, particularly on the rugby pitch, when I used to watch my Dad playing… but in those days, certain swear words were never uttered by youths. We would certainly use Bloody, or bugger, prat or bastard, and piss was ubiquitous, but the F word was taboo, as was the C word. How time has changed!

I climbed on to the bed and undid my zip.

I can’t do it if your watching.” I manipulated my penis ineffectually. He looked on and smiled, then when he saw my tortuous look of embarrassment, he looked pointedly out of the window.

Ok now, you big baby?”

I answered with a splash on the porcelain.

I zipped away the appendage, and breathed a sigh of relief.

A light went on in the mind of my comrade.

Wait I’ve got something.” He pulled across a wooden chair which lay next to the window, and pressed it close to the wardrobe. He climbed upon the seat and then carefully stood on the wooden back. He reached across to the very back of the wardrobe and pulled out his prize. It was a large flat box. It had a bow across it like a birthday present, and also had a picture of various glasses containing different coloured liquids.

What is it?” I asked innocently.

It’s chocolates… with booze in.”

My jaw dropped. What on earth…

Liquor chocolates, I nicked them from my Granny at Xmas.”

Oh.” At the age of eleven, it had never occurred to me to steal anything from anyone. I wasn’t sure I approved of such behaviour.

Shall we eat them and get drunk?” He asked excitedly.

I looked around the room. What if we were caught?

What if your Mum comes up?”

Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan.” I gulped. I wasn’t at all sure I wanted to get drunk. I’d seen enough of people getting drunk to know that it was not always a pleasant experience.

He pulled me earnestly towards the door. He inched it open and looked around.

Come.” He ran across the corridor. He reached a door at the far end, and put his large key into the lock. He opened the door and beckoned me in quickly. He locked the door behind him.

Where are we going?” I asked.

Where no-one can find us. Quick up the the stairs.”

We climbed the narrow set of stairs and once again he placed his key into the lock of the door at the top. The door was tightly shut and wouldn’t budge when he turned the handle.

Give us a hand, It’s a bit stiff.” He pressed his shoulder to the door and I followed suit. It didn’t budge.We took a run up, pushed and voila… A vista opened before us. The roof. The building had two apexes and between them was a v-shaped space with duckboards. At one end was a brick wall and on the other an opening, which looked down on the houses below. In the distant the three spires of the Cathedral loomed in the sunlight, like religious icons.

Whoa, this is amazing. Is your key magic?”

It’s a skeleton key… It opens all the doors in the hotel.”

I’d like a key like that… Do you think the school has a skeleton key? I’d like to get in to the staff room and see what that’s like…”

I’m pretty sure they must have, probably kept around Miss Stones neck, the way she always pops up unexpectedly… I bet there are secret passages there, just like in this hotel.” I had images flash through my mind… Miss Stone with an old fashioned candlestick, walking through secret passages, spying on all of us boys… It would certainly explain how she always found out about all the naughty things we were up to.

We sat at the far end of the roof, away from prying eyes. He took out one of the chocolates and then offered me one. I took one shaped as a barrel. I watched as he shoved his in his mouth. He looked disgusted… like it tasted of earwax.

Go on… Eat it.” I bit into the inoffensive chocolate, and felt the fiery liquid burning its way down my esphogus, I retched.

Disgusting isn’t it?” Chris smiled across at me.

Positively vile!”.

Think the chocolate might be off. I think it would be better to just bit the end off them, spit the chocolate out and then just drink the liquid.” His advice seemed geometrically opposed to my own point of view… From my experience of the vile tincture, I would have said, bite the chocolate eat it then pour the liquid out and eat the rest.

However, so as not to seem a pussy, I did as instructed, each in turn pulled out a different liquor, and swallowed the tiny portion of alcoholic beverage housed within. I didn’t feel drunk at the end of the experiment, just rather sick. Chris began to act weirdly, as if he was drunk, the placebo effect I now feel, but at the time, I felt that he must be drunk, so I began to act drunk too.

Chris went to the far end of the gully and looked out across the city below…

Of course!” He said.

Of course?” I asked.

Don’t look so worried, I’ve got a plan!”

Oh good, I thought, another plan. To be fair, this adventure on the roof had been exhilarating… Apart from the miniature liquors, which had been ghastly!

We made our way, silent as assassins, back down through the Hotel. We went out through the back of the Hotel into the Car Park.

Quick, let’s get out of here, before anyone stops us.”

We ran down the road, and then he cut into a four storey building just before reaching the BP garage on the opposite side of the road. The door to the building was slightly open and he pushed his way in.

The building was unoccupied. The floors were covered in mess… Not just the mess of an empty building, not just the stale dust of un-use, but an enforced mess… like someone had deliberately been creating chaos. Bits of light fitting had been smashed to the ground, skirting boards had been jemmied from the bottom of the walls, doors had holes smashed through their panels… Intricate plaster architrave had been smashed into a fine chalk dust. Mantle places ripped off and then used to break further fixtures and fittings. This place bore all the hallmarks of acts of vandalism that the local papers had been warning of for many a year.

Chris mistook my look of horror for a look of awe.

I did this. I did all of this. All on my own. Great isn’t it?”

Why?” It was the only question I could think of.

It feels great to break things, really great!”

Why?” Again the only word I could emit.

Because it’s against the rules, I suppose, don’t you ever get fed up of all the rules?”

Not really. If I don’t like rules I just ignore them… I never felt the need to break anything.”

You should try it.” He led me up the stairs to the third floor. He showed me into the bathroom. The sink was intact. The bath had been chipped but with iron at it’s core, Chris had not found a weapon strong enough to damage it further. He pointed to the porcelain sink and proffered a lump of marble from the detritus of the once perfect fire surround.

Go on, Hit it.” He pressed the lump of marble into my hand. Not sure how to progress with the act, I flung the marble into the sink. It bounced around the bowl but did not break it.

For God’s sake, fucking hit it hard on the edge!”

I picked up the lump again and whacked it down on the lip. The basin split without rapture, in two. The metal plug hole cover fell out and the plastic drainage pipe listed forward as if suffering from a superficial flesh wound. Chris giggled like a girl. He ran around, looking for his weapon of choice. He came back with a brick with plaster on it and a piece of electrical wire steadfastly attached to the electrical plug socket housed in the brickwork. He swung the the lump of brick around his head like a medieval flail, and brought it crashing down on the remains of the basin, it splintered into many pieces and crashed in a tumult to the ground.

That’s how you fucking do it, you little pussy!”

All of a sudden he was a dervish, running from room to room, smashing into this and that… Clouds of ancient plaster work created a blizzard across the upper floor, and coughing like miners we ran downstairs. I looked at Chris, and saw that he looked like a ghost.

You look like a ghost!” I said obviously.

So do you.” I looked down at my school uniform and found that he was right. My red blazer was now white. My Grey flannels were also white. My shoes too. I was for it. If I returned home like this, I was certainly for it. Not only was I for it, I’d have to provide some valid excuse for the state I was in. That was beyond me. I couldn’t think of a single plausible reason for being covered in plaster. Maybe I’d been caught out in a board cleaner accident. I’d been asked to clean all the chalk off the school’s board rubbers and some how become covered in the resultant cloud of chalk dust? Couldn’t see my Mum buying that one…

Chris took us back up the backstairs of the Hotel, and back into his play room. Once I was inside, he nipped out across the corridor and raided the linen cupboard. He came back with a couple of large bath towels.

Here, use one of these, wet the corner a bit, then brush the dust off your clothes… See like this.” He took his towels and put a corner under the cold tap. He wet the towel and then rung it out, so that it was only damp. Then he brushed the dust from his clothes. It worked passably.

Don’t have it wet, whatever you do, if its wet it will just form a paste then you will never get it off.”

I looked down at the sink. I looked up at him.

I’ve just pissed in that sink.”

So what? I run the tap didn’t I?”

So I began the process. I ran the tap awhile, just to make sure no piss was still present, then I dampened down a corner of the towel and wiped away all the plaster dust from the front of my clothes. It looked ok, I might just get away with it if I ran straight upstairs when I got in and changed out of my uniform.

Ok Chris I think it’s time I went home.”

You can’t go home yet.”

What fresh hell was he about to unleash on me?

Why not?”

Because both yours and my clothes are covered in plaster on the back.”

Good point. I’d not thought of that.

Tell you what,”He says,”What if I do yours and you do mine?”

Oh, Ok”. I took a fresh corner of the towel and rubbed away the offending plaster from the back of his clothes. Then he began rubbing away the dust from my clothes… He seemed to be very attentive in his ministrations, until I heard a sudden swish, and then a sting on my arse… the wet towel trick!

Ow Pack it in!” I yelped.

I made for the door.

You Can’t go yet.”

What this time?” I’d had enough of his nonsense.

You need to wash your hands and face! Look at yourself!” I looked in the mirror above the sink and saw that I still looked as ashen as a spectre.

Go on wash your hands and face.” He pointed at the sink. The pissing sink…

I walked home in the half light of the evening dusk, and wondered what this experience had been? In the end I came up with a single word… A revelation!

 

DALE ‘M’

LOW

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LOW – DOWN

So many false dawns

you feel the sun is a lie

And it is a lie

A false God…

A phantasmagoria

A photon stream

Like a T.V. stream

No reality remains there

nothing is there…

But what of me?

I seek but find no key

It’s a dream within a dream

within a sequence

without sequins

The sparkle has gone

What remains is tawdry,

And the real

Is the most unreal

after all.

copyright Dale Beck 2018.

QUIET PLEASE COMPLETE STORY

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QUIET PLEASE

The thing about December in the University Library is the fact its empty… Totally devoid of under graduates. It is a place of peace and contemplation, a place where serious study is at last possible. Unlike the normal atmosphere of the Univesity in semester, where one rushes from a lecture to the union then on to a tutorial… Yeah, that’s a lie, the rush is from one excess to another, the lectures and tutorials are the incendentals, the thin layer of intellectual rigour spread evenly across the drinking, the smoking and the fornicating. These are the central tenets of the first years of being an under-graduate. As a 27 year old, who has spent ten years in the real world, working in industry, long hard hours of toil and turpitude, I grasped these tenets like a newly converted zealot. I drank to excess, smoked too much weed, and enjoyed as much female company as I could muster. In effect, I got to be a teenager again.

However, with all of those destractions away for the christmas holidays, spending time actually doing my essays and projects in the peace and quiet of the library, was a total joy. I would travel unto Campus on the bus, the same time as I did in term time. As the Library didn’t open until ten, this gave me an hour in the union cafe, a time to read the Guardian, do the crossword and drink a mug of disgusting coffee… but all in peace. None of the remaining students, the ones who lived on Campus and hadn’t gone home for the hols, would not be up and about until midday at the earliest. Peaceful times.

At ten, I would get up, put the newspaper in my brief case, and toddle off up to the library. In those last years, before everything was on the computers and everyone had mobile phones, the only way to find the information you required, was to read. You had to wade through hundreds of essays, novels and pamphlets… Magazines like New Society, New Scientist etc, you had copies of every newspaper from the year dot on microfiche, which as a sociologist was a goldmine… It was a pleasure to use all these tools, and with the aid of helpful Librarians, you could find information which none of the other students would begin to research. In effect, the time spent alone in the library was probably the most productive time I had in my four years of University education.

At twelve, I piled all my books up and placed them on the end of the desk, with a note that I was coming back and please do not remove them. I put all my papers and notes in my briefcase, and made my way down the circular steps of the library back towards the Union building, looking forward to a hard earned cheese baguette and a cheap pint of lager. At the bottom of the steps I stopped and lit a much needed cigarette, the library was one of the few places on campus where you were not allowed to smoke… Heady days before the anti-smoking fascists took over, these days you can only smoke in a dustbin on the first thursday in september, but in those halycon days you could smoke anywhere, even in the maternity ward of the local hospital!

As I walked across the car park I was passed by a rather beautiful asian girl, who stared and smiled at me as if she knew me. I smiled back, desparately trying to place the girl, was she in one of my tutorials? She passed by, and I continued towards the pigeon holes where our internal mail was placed, it was important to check your pigeon hole at least twice a day, because the individual faculties tended to treat communication as espionage. You were never told anything, but instead got messages written in invisible ink, which you had to decipher with lemon juice and the burn on pain of death.

Well, I might be exaggerating a little, but I had missed re-arranged tutorials and new essay assignments, simply because I hadn’t checked my pigeon hole a second time on a given day. So, it became second nature to check the pigeonhole every time you entered the union building.

As I found nothing for me there, I turned and bumped into the girl of the biggest smile again!

“Sorry… Oh it’s you… Hello… How are You doing?” This was before Friends so I’m claiming the phrase back from Joey.

“Do I know you?” I asked, as her smile and demeanour suggested some previous knowledge of each other.

” I don’t think you remember me, but we have met.”

“Have we? I’m sure I would remember… You.”

” You remember the reading we did of Macbeth in Drama?”

This was not proper drama, I hasten to add, drama was not a faculty or subject allowed in my University, the drama mentioned, was part of the Teacher training faculty, which at the time I was studying concurrently with my proper studies. I gave it up after the first year, because I didn’t want to teach. I was pencilled in to teach English, History and Drama… So I had to attend these Drama classes as part of my teacher training. It was very dull, we were treated like pupils, and led by the nose on how to stand up a play from the page. As I had studied Acting at Drama and Dance School from the age of nine, it was quite run of the mill. When I turned up to the classes, which was not always, I was most often drunk… or at least libated.

When we had stood up Macbeth, I’d played the drunken night watchman, from the beginning of the play, and had hammed it up a little, as it was improvised. The other classmates had fallen about in hysterics, and a terse Tutor had called time on my performance.

I’d neglected to return after the event, as it wasn’t an integral class to the subject, but an extra add on. I’d just dropped out of it. So, the members of that class had not become a permanent fixture in my firmament.

“Were you there? I don’t remember, I’m afraid I was rather drunk.”

“I was supposed to be Lady Macbeth, but you rather stole the scene.”

“I’m terribly sorry, I don’t remember much…”

“Yes, I know, you were rather drunk… I just wanted to thank you!”

” You did, why?”

“I was terrified of playing Lady Macbeth and then your performance brought the place down, and it was never stood up again, so you saved me from that fate.”

“Well you’re very welcome.”

“You were very funny, you should be on the stage.”

“I was drunk, I’m always funny went I’m drunk.”

“Seriously, you look like a filmstar.”

“Who Alan Ladd?” Ok, this needs explaining. Alan Ladd was a famously short filmstar, 5ft 5 inches, from the 40’s and 50’s, exactly the same size as me. You, dear readers will probably not be aware of this fact, given your of a later vintage, and the girl similarly, looked perplexed.

” You know, the American actor who is famously short.”

“Oh, I see, no I never thought of you as short… You act a lot taller!”

——————————————————————

QUIET PLEASE : THE DENOUEMENT

I told the girl that I was just going up to the Union, for a sandwich and a pint, did she want to join me?

She shook her head.

“I’m going out for a walk around the lakes, I need some fresh air, you can join me if you like…”

Given that it was the middle of December and that there was a couple of inches of snow on the ground, and the extra joy of a windchill approaching -5, the thought of walking around the lakes, a good mile and a half in anyone’s money, was of course an absolute delight. I chided myself for being a sucker for an adventure, especially if the adventure involved an interesting young woman. Cock-led, I smiled as if it was the best idea i’d ever heard.

We walked away from the Union, across the main road and down by the side of the old Hall which housed the English Faculty. We walked in silence until out of sight of the Hall and the snow gave out to sludge and then mud as we got closer to the lakes.

I was still carrying my briefcase, and formed an incongruous image, what with briefcase, a bright blue motorcycle leather jacket, jeans and Dr.Marten boots. The girl brought her own picaresque elements to our costume, as she was wearing a long flowing kaftan skirt underneath her Afghan coat… She too wore the obligatory Dr.Martens shoes.

Despite the efficacy of wearing an Afghan goatskin coat in those freezing conditions, the smell of it required someone with extreme confidence in their own personal hygiene to carry it off. Momentarily distracted by the comical false landings of a pair of mallards on the half frozen lake, they had landed like a pair of ice skaters in a free dance routine as they glided across the ice, only to come unstuck when the ice gave way to sludge, and both pitched forward in a most ungainly manner, I hadn’t noticed that the girl was no longer beside me. I turned around in shock, and caught her carefully aimed snowball squarely on the bridge of my nose. My eyes watered, this walk had taken on an unexpected turn of events. I tried to laugh playfully, but it dried in my throat as her next ball caught me smack in the lips. I bent forward gasping. She looked at me as if concerned, bloody woman!

“Are you ok?”

“Of course… cough cough… splutter splutter… I love a snow fight!” I looked around me for snow, but alas and alack, the path next to the lake where I stood, was devoid of snow, only mud lay to hand.

I toyed with the idea of throwing mud at her… But it probably wouldn’t be construed as playful, at best it would seem mean, at worst it could be seen as an assault. I put my hands up.

“Ok, you win.”

“I’ve never seen real snow before.”

“Don’t they have snow where you come from?”

“No, not so much in Tower Hamlets, the city tends to keep snow at bay.”

I laughed… I didn’t know anything about her, but I’d presumed that she was from… somewhere else…

“What is your name?”

“Tee, my friend’s call me Tee.”

“Why do they call you Tee?”

“Because it’s easier than saying Ateebah?”

“Ateebah is a lovely name, what does it mean?”

“it means something that is soft and gentle I think, at least that’s what my mother told me.”

“It suits you.”

“You think? I just smashed snow all over your silly face… Was that soft and gentle?” I pursed my lips. I was not used to losing any competition, verbal or physical, and yet she had me two for two. I would regain my composure somehow… but not yet.

“Do you know my name?”

“Dave or something.”

“Not Dave.”

“It’s something like that, all your names sound the same to me…” Would she rile me? No. But she certainly had me off kilter.

“My name is Dale. Dale Beck.”

“And what does your name mean Dale Beck?”

“It means Valley Brook.”

“So it’s basically a tautology?”

Oh she is good. Very good.

“It suits you.”

“Really how so?”

“Well look at you, you’re all wet!”
She skipped off delightedly, like a little wood nymph. I gave chase, determined to find snow before she did, once caught twice as vicious I thought, pay back would be sweet.

Of course the inevitable happened, my briefcase got caught between my legs and I fell headlong into the mud. My hands flew forward to halt my fall, and I flung my briefcase forward. I lay in the mud, face dripping and aghast watched as my briefcase arced across the path and smashed into a tree. It sprung open and all my notes spread themselves deliciously across the mud.

Tee stopped running and looked as if she was about to erupt into hysterics… You could say I have a natural flair for slapstick… But then replaced the look of glee with a look of actual concern,

“You’re bleeding…”

“My bleeding notes, look covered in bloody mud!”

She looked around to where I gestured and saw my spilt briefcase.

“But you’re bleeding, seriously!”

I rubbed my hand across my temple and found it redden hued,

“I’m always bloody bleeding Tee, I play rugby every weekend! But those notes are the product of a weeks study.”

I got up groggily, and went to the scattered ashes of all my labours. I put the notes, such as they were, back into my briefcase and relocked the open clasps. Luckily, the case wasn’t badly damaged, just a little dent in the lid, and I breathed a sigh of relief. The blood streamed down the side of my face. Tee ran to me and pressed a handkerchief to the wound. As my face was equally smeared in mud as well as blood, she feared the wound might go septic.

“Oh God, Dale look at the fucking state of you!”

“I can’t maybe you can look for me.”

“Quick I’ll take you back to my halls, get you washed up.”

“Where are your halls, Tee?”

The thought of walking half across the campus covered in mud and blood would not do my street cred much good… Even if most of my friends were already away home for the hols.

“They are just across the lake there, we can get to them without going through the campus… Look just there beyong the trees.”

I let her lead me around the lake, taking care not to slip again, because dignity once lost is difficult to regain…. Bloody fool!

She sat me in her small bedroom after removing my coat and boots, and stowing my briefcase behind the small desk she had in the corner. She went off to find a bowl and soapy water… I stood still in her inner sanctum and looked around. I did not wish to muddy her furnishings. As a student, the first thing to attract my attention was her books. She had an array of books with cyrillic script, which given her ethinicity seemed incongruous, she was studying Russian? Along side the incomprehensible Russian texts sat the equally incongruous science text books… I knew something of Astral Physics and Quantum Physics, but her books were on Chemistry, a subject I knew very little about.(Strangely, I ended up doing Chemistry for morons as one of my minors later in my academic life, and managed to scrape a pass… Chemistry for Morons was officially called, Environmental Pollution Protection… and I passed by being able to synthesise the lead from grass from the motorway verges, something to do with spectroscopy I think… As i say it was Chemistry for morons!) She also had the text book written by the Professor of Education at our University, which was required reading on the syllabus… The perks of being a Professor, you get to sell more copies of your interminable doggerel which you call a text book! I had not purchased the book, but rather photocopied the chapter we were required to read each week from the library copy. Waste not want not, I’d already decided I was going to give up education next year, so decided the money saved on the books would be better spent on alcohol!

She returned from the kitchen with a bowl of warm water and dettol. Tee washed me down, and somehow persuaded me to take off my trousers and shirt…

“There covered in mud let me put them in the wash…”

I’d like to say I was embarassed by being in such a state of undress, but being a tart, I didn’t shame easy… I still had a decent physique then… If only now… Oh well. Years of excess take there toll. Worth every extra inch I’d say.

So there I sat, on her bed, in my underpants and socks and totally unabashed. She returned to the room this time with a band-aid for my forehead and a bottle of Peach schnapps for my spirits.

Peach Schnapps is an acquired taste. I acquired it quickly as I emptied the proffered shot glass, whilst she applied the plaster to my inconsequential nick on my head. It was no more than a graze and I felt a fraud letting her minister to my medical needs. When she stepped away to admire her handiwork I put out my shot glass for a refill. She refilled it. And again. And again. I lay sprawled length ways along her single bed. She sat at her small desk. The chat was blurry. I remember reading some poetry to her. She was enchanted. She said she was enchanted. I was not in a position to judge. She could have been faking it. I fell asleep, either through the shock of the loss of blood or by the ministering of an unknown spirit.

When I stirred Tee was lying next to me. She was naked. She had covered us in her duvet. She was very warm and coccooned my body with her own. There seemed to be sme sort of state of arousal going on. I wasn’t sure how much of this state was down to me. A sudden fear.

“Tee how old are you?”

“Nearly twenty.”

“How near?”

“With in a hair’s breath.”

I was alarmed. I didn’t want to compromise myself… She could have been one of those child prodigy’s whose lives are nearly always ruined by being sent to University too soon.

“What’s your date of birth?”

“23rd December 1967″

I tried to do the maths, nearly twenty, nearly eight years younger than myself. Though people might frown, it was not an unacceptable age difference.

I relaxed back unto my back and she gently stroked my taut belly.

“You have a lovely body.” I reached around her and stroked her back. She had skin like velvet.

“So do you.”

She leant forward and kissed me passionately on the lips. She was so hot! Literally as hot as a five bar electric fire.

“Are you too warm?” I was worried she might have a fever.

“You make me hot, you’re a sexy man!”

“Really? With a cut head and mud on my knees, I still look sexy to you?”

“You’ve always looked sexy to me.” Now, bear in mind, I’m a little drunk at this stage, so my normal reactions cannot be relied upon, because given that I had not known of her existence until a couple of hours before, the phrase you always looked sexy to me, might suggest someone who is a bit stalkerish? A bit Kathy Bates in ‘misery’? But I’m drunk and being flattered, which are two of my favourite states to be in, so I don’t take to flight. She is now doing unmentionable things to my manhood with her hand… And judging by her smile, it is having the desired effect. Not to be left out I begin to explore her exquisite body, from head to breasts with my hands, then with my lips… as my hands continue their scouting mission further down… My hand discovers a mound which is erupting like vesuvius… pity poor pompeii! She is awash, more so than any other woman I have ever known…

So we have a perfect chemical bonding here, both elements are liberally prepared for their chemical romance.

I’m about to slide between her thighs when she says something which stops me in my tracks.

“Do you think it will fit?”

“Of course… Why do you ask?”

“It’s my first time.” Those dread words. I’m turned to stone, apart from the required part, which in effect withers on the vine.

“You’re a virgin?”

“Yes, is that ok?”

“No. It’s not, I can’t take your virginity.”

“Why the fuck not?”

“Your first time should be special.”

“You are special, you are the person I chose… I wanted it to be you!”

“You don’t even know me, Tee, I’m a total shit!”

“You’re friends say you are the best lover in the University.”

“Who Does?”

“Judith, she’s in my Russian Studies tutorial. I told her that I wanted to lose my virginity, and she said, I should come and meet you, she said you are amazing, the best she’s ever had!”

“She must have had a sheltered life then, is all I can say…”

“But everything has felt so right today, and you are so nice, even when I snowballed you… It seemed so right. Look at me, I’m crazy for you!” She pulled down the duvet to show her perfect flushed form to me. I was sorely tempted, I mean, who would refuse such an offer? I jumped out of the bed, and reached for my trousers, now folded across the chair beside her desk, She reached around for my cock and pulled it towards her mouth.
“No.” I pulled away.

“Please, Dale, Please Fuck Me Now!” I leant down to her dirty mouth and kissed her passionately.

“My sweet girl,if you get to know me first, spend a couple of months to become full acquainted then maybe I might be able to help you, but not like this, I couldn’t forgive myself if I took advantage of you. I’m sorry.”

“You don’t need to take advantage of me. I will just take advantage of you.”

I pulled on the rest of my clothes.

I bent to kiss her cheek. She had tears rolling down them.

“Listen Tee, your a lovely woman, so beautiful I will be berating myself all the way home. It’s not you it’s me… I don’t feel worthy of taking your maidenhood, you need to find a guy to love first…”

“What if I love you?”

“If you love me sweetheart, you will wait a couple of months until we know each other.”

I turned to the door and left.

I stood at the bus stop, very nearly sober, kicking myself for a missed adventure. I berated myself mentally all the way home on the bus. Damning myself for this innate self-loathing. I had always felt the same about virginity… It wasn’t the first time it had happened, but I really did feel that it should be special and with someone you loved. I had lost my virginity at the age of fifteen, behind a shed at the back of a block of flats, a tomcat had pissed on my head from the roof of the shed as I enacted the eternal petit mort… the girl at the time had been incidental, I had not really cared for her, she had not cared for me, it was an itch we both wanted to get over, so we did. I felt guilty afterwards… And had cried into the night. I swore that I would never put anyone through such a tawdry experience again for their first time. And I hadn’t… Damn my eyes!

 

QUIET PLEASE : THE DENOUEMENT

IMG_4547

QUIET PLEASE : THE DENOUEMENT

I told the girl that I was just going up to the Union, for a sandwich and a pint, did she want to join me?

She shook her head.

“I’m going out for a walk around the lakes, I need some fresh air, you can join me if you like…”

Given that it was the middle of December and that there was a couple of inches of snow on the ground, and the extra joy of a windchill approaching -5, the thought of walking around the lakes, a good mile and a half in anyone’s money, was of course an absolute delight. I chided myself for being a sucker for an adventure, especially if the adventure involved an interesting young woman. Cock-led, I smiled as if it was the best idea i’d ever heard.

We walked away from the Union, across the main road and down by the side of the old Hall which housed the English Faculty. We walked in silence until out of sight of the Hall and the snow gave out to sludge and then mud as we got closer to the lakes.

I was still carrying my briefcase, and formed an incongruous image, what with briefcase, a bright blue motorcycle leather jacket, jeans and Dr.Marten boots. The girl brought her own picaresque elements to our costume, as she was wearing a long flowing kaftan skirt underneath her Afghan coat… She too wore the obligatory Dr.Martens shoes.

Despite the efficacy of wearing an Afghan goatskin coat in those freezing conditions, the smell of it required someone with extreme confidence in their own personal hygiene to carry it off. Momentarily distracted by the comical false landings of a pair of mallards on the half frozen lake, they had landed like a pair of ice skaters in a free dance routine as they glided across the ice, only to come unstuck when the ice gave way to sludge, and both pitched forward in a most ungainly manner, I hadn’t noticed that the girl was no longer beside me. I turned around in shock, and caught her carefully aimed snowball squarely on the bridge of my nose. My eyes watered, this walk had taken on an unexpected turn of events. I tried to laugh playfully, but it dried in my throat as her next ball caught me smack in the lips. I bent forward gasping. She looked at me as if concerned, bloody woman!

“Are you ok?”

“Of course… cough cough… splutter splutter… I love a snow fight!” I looked around me for snow, but alas and alack, the path next to the lake where I stood, was devoid of snow, only mud lay to hand.

I toyed with the idea of throwing mud at her… But it probably wouldn’t be construed as playful, at best it would seem mean, at worst it could be seen as an assault. I put my hands up.

“Ok, you win.”

“I’ve never seen real snow before.”

“Don’t they have snow where you come from?”

“No, not so much in Tower Hamlets, the city tends to keep snow at bay.”

I laughed… I didn’t know anything about her, but I’d presumed that she was from… somewhere else…

“What is your name?”

“Tee, my friend’s call me Tee.”

“Why do they call you Tee?”

“Because it’s easier than saying Ateebah?”

“Ateebah is a lovely name, what does it mean?”

“it means something that is soft and gentle I think, at least that’s what my mother told me.”

“It suits you.”

“You think? I just smashed snow all over your silly face… Was that soft and gentle?” I pursed my lips. I was not used to losing any competition, verbal or physical, and yet she had me two for two. I would regain my composure somehow… but not yet.

“Do you know my name?”

“Dave or something.”

“Not Dave.”

“It’s something like that, all your names sound the same to me…” Would she rile me? No. But she certainly had me off kilter.

“My name is Dale. Dale Beck.”

“And what does your name mean Dale Beck?”

“It means Valley Brook.”

“So it’s basically a tautology?”

Oh she is good. Very good.

“It suits you.”

“Really how so?”

“Well look at you, you’re all wet!”
She skipped off delightedly, like a little wood nymph. I gave chase, determined to find snow before she did, once caught twice as vicious I thought, pay back would be sweet.

Of course the inevitable happened, my briefcase got caught between my legs and I fell headlong into the mud. My hands flew forward to halt my fall, and I flung my briefcase forward. I lay in the mud, face dripping, and aghast watched as my briefcase arced across the path and smashed into a tree. It sprung open and all my notes spread themselves deliciously across the mud.

Tee stopped running and looked as if she was about to erupt into hysterics… You could say I have a natural flair for slapstick… But then replaced the look of glee with a look of actual concern,

“You’re bleeding…”

“My bleeding notes, look covered in bloody mud!”

She looked around to where I gestured and saw my spilt briefcase.

“But you’re bleeding, seriously!”

I rubbed my hand across my temple and found it redden hued,

“I’m always bloody bleeding Tee, I play rugby every weekend! But those notes are the product of a weeks study.”

I got up groggily, and went to the scattered ashes of all my labours. I put the notes, such as they were, back into my briefcase and re-locked the open clasps. Luckily, the case wasn’t badly damaged, just a little dent in the lid, and I breathed a sigh of relief. The blood streamed down the side of my face. Tee ran to me and pressed a handkerchief to the wound. As my face was equally smeared in mud as well as blood, she feared the wound might go septic.

“Oh God, Dale look at the fucking state of you!”

“I can’t maybe you can look for me.”

“Quick I’ll take you back to my halls, get you washed up.”

“Where are your halls, Tee?”

The thought of walking half across the campus covered in mud and blood would not do my street cred much good… Even if most of my friends were already away home for the hols.

“They are just across the lake there, we can get to them without going through the campus… Look just there beyond the trees.”

I let her lead me around the lake, taking care not to slip again, because dignity once lost is difficult to regain…. Bloody fool!

She stood me in her small bedroom after removing my coat and boots, and stowing my briefcase behind the small desk she had in the corner. She went off to find a bowl and soapy water… I stood still in her inner sanctum and looked around. I did not wish to muddy her furnishings. As a student, the first thing to attract my attention was her books. She had an array of books with Cyrillic script, which given her ethnicity seemed incongruous, she was studying Russian? Along side the incomprehensible Russian texts sat the equally incongruous science text books… I knew something of Astral Physics and Quantum Physics, but her books were on Chemistry, a subject I knew very little about.(Strangely, I ended up doing Chemistry for morons as one of my minors later in my academic life, and managed to scrape a pass… Chemistry for Morons was officially called, Environmental Pollution Protection… and I passed by being able to synthesise the lead from grass off the motorway verges, something to do with spectroscopy I think… As i say it was Chemistry for morons!) She also had the text book written by the Professor of Education at our University, which was required reading on the syllabus… The perks of being a Professor, you get to sell more copies of your interminable doggerel which you call a text book! I had not purchased the book, but rather photocopied the chapter we were required to read each week from the library copy. Waste not want not, I’d already decided I was going to give up education next year, so decided the money saved on the books would be better spent on alcohol!

She returned from the kitchen with a bowl of warm water and dettol. Tee washed me down, and somehow persuaded me to take off my trousers and shirt…

“There covered in mud let me put them in the wash…”

I’d like to say I was embarrassed by being in such a state of undress, but being a tart, I didn’t shame easy… I still had a decent physique then… If only now… Oh well. Years of excess take there toll. Worth every extra inch I’d say.

So there I sat, on her bed, in my underpants and socks and totally unabashed. She returned to the room this time with a band-aid for my forehead and a bottle of Peach schnapps for my spirits.

Peach Schnapps is an acquired taste. I acquired it quickly as I emptied the proffered shot glass, whilst she applied the plaster to my inconsequential nick on my head. It was no more than a graze and I felt a fraud letting her minister to my medical needs. When she stepped away to admire her handiwork I put out my shot glass for a refill. She refilled it. And again. And again. I lay sprawled length ways along her single bed. She sat at her small desk. The chat was blurry. I remember reading some poetry to her. She was enchanted. She said she was enchanted. I was not in a position to judge. She could have been faking it. I fell asleep, either through the shock of the loss of blood or by the ministering of an unknown spirit.

When I stirred Tee was lying next to me. She was naked. She had covered us in her duvet. She was very warm and cocooned my body with her own. There seemed to be some sort of state of arousal going on. I wasn’t sure how much of this state was down to me. A sudden fear.

“Tee how old are you?”

“Nearly twenty.”

“How near?”

“With in a hair’s breath.”

I was alarmed. I didn’t want to compromise myself… She could have been one of those child prodigy’s whose lives are nearly always ruined by being sent to University too soon.

“What’s your date of birth?”

“23rd December 1967″

I tried to do the maths, nearly twenty, nearly eight years younger than myself. Though people might frown, it was not an unacceptable age difference.

I relaxed back unto my back and she gently stroked my taut belly.

“You have a lovely body.” I reached around her and stroked her back. She had skin like velvet.

“So do you.”

She lent forward and kissed me passionately on the lips. She was so hot! Literally as hot as a five bar electric fire.

“Are you too warm?” I was worried she might have a fever.

“You make me hot, you’re a sexy man!”

“Really? With a cut head and mud on my knees, I still look sexy to you?”

“You’ve always looked sexy to me.” Now, bear in mind, I’m a little drunk at this stage, so my normal reactions cannot be relied upon, because given that I had not known of her existence until a couple of hours before, the phrase you always looked sexy to me, might suggest someone who is a bit stalker-ish? A bit Kathy Bates in ‘misery’? But I’m drunk and being flattered, which are two of my favourite states to be in, so I don’t take to flight. She is now doing unmentionable things to my manhood with her hand… And judging by her smile, it is having the desired effect. Not to be left out I begin to explore her exquisite body, from head to breasts with my hands, then with my lips… as my hands continue their scouting mission further down… My hand discovers a mound which is erupting like Vesuvius… pity poor Pompeii! She is awash, more so than any other woman I have ever known…

So we have a perfect chemical bonding here, both elements are liberally prepared for their chemical romance.

I’m about to slide between her thighs when she says something which stops me in my tracks.

“Do you think it will fit?”

“Of course… Why do you ask?”

“It’s my first time.” Those dread words. I’m turned to stone, apart from the required part, which in effect withers on the vine.

“You’re a virgin?”

“Yes, is that ok?”

“No. It’s not, I can’t take your virginity.”

“Why the fuck not?”

“Your first time should be special.”

“You are special, you are the person I chose… I wanted it to be you!”

“You don’t even know me, Tee, I’m a total shit!”

“You’re friends say you are the best lover in the University.”

“Who Does?”

“Judith, she’s in my Russian Studies tutorial. I told her that I wanted to lose my virginity, and she said, I should come and meet you, she said you are amazing, the best she’s ever had!”

“She must have had a sheltered life then, is all I can say…”

“But everything has felt so right today, and you are so nice, even when I snowballed you… It seemed so right. Look at me, I’m crazy for you!” She pulled down the duvet to show her perfect flushed form to me. I was sorely tempted, I mean, who would refuse such an offer? I jumped out of the bed, and reached for my trousers, now folded across the chair beside her desk, She reached around for my cock and pulled it towards her mouth.
“No.” I pulled away.

“Please, Dale, Please Fuck Me Now!” I lent down to her dirty mouth and kissed her passionately.

“My sweet girl,if you get to know me first, spend a couple of months to become full acquainted then maybe I might be able to help you, but not like this, I couldn’t forgive myself if I took advantage of you. I’m sorry.”

“You don’t need to take advantage of me. I will just take advantage of you.”

I pulled on the rest of my clothes.

I bent to kiss her cheek. She had tears rolling down them.

“Listen Tee, your a lovely woman, so beautiful I will be berating myself all the way home. It’s not you it’s me… I don’t feel worthy of taking your maidenhood, you need to find a guy to love first…”

“What if I love you?”

“If you love me sweetheart, you will wait a couple of months until we know each other.”

I turned to the door and left.

I stood at the bus stop, very nearly sober, kicking myself for a missed adventure. I berated myself mentally all the way home on the bus. Damning myself for this innate self-loathing. I had always felt the same about virginity… It wasn’t the first time it had happened, but I really did feel that it should be special and with someone you loved. I had lost my virginity at the age of fifteen, behind a shed at the back of a block of flats, a tomcat had pissed on my head from the roof of the shed as I enacted the eternal petit mort… the girl at the time had been incidental, I had not really cared for her, she had not cared for me, it was an itch we both wanted to get over, so we did. I felt guilty afterwards… And had cried into the night. I swore that I would never put anyone through such a tawdry experience again for their first time. And I hadn’t… Damn my eyes!


I never saw ‘TEE’ again, and my friend and chief cheerleader Judith denied all knowledge of the girl. So was it real? Did it really happen? I think so, but I am a little mad, so who knows.


I struggled with the second part of this story, I asked a close friend is it believable? I mean no man would turn down such an offer surely? She said it sounded like me… Which is a nice thing to say… I think. Then I suddenly realised something from what she said to me… I had never actually asked anyone out in the entirety of my adult life. Girls or women I should say had always asked me out. And I’d always been surprised and delighted. What man reaches the age of sixty without ever asking someone out?

My Marie had practically dragged me upstairs to consummate out relationship, my ex wife had asked me out, the two girls before her had both asked me out too. Even when I’d met people in a disco or a pub, I’d just gone with them, gone along with what they wanted. If they wanted me, they got me, if they didn’t I just went home.

I’ve come to the conclusion I’m a fucking freak!

oh well, too late to change now.

Dale ‘M’

NOT HERE

IMG_4748

 

NOT HERE

I’M A DISCARDED BOTTLE,

AWASH ON THE SHORE,

PICTURESQUE BUT VACUOUS…

 

WITH NO LID, I’M FLAT,

THE EFFERVESCENCE DISSOLVED,

MY HEARTS NOT IN IT.

 

AND I WANDER THE BATTLEMENTS,

LIKE HAMLET’S DEAD FATHER,

PLAYING OUT THE SAME SCENES.

 

I WISH FOR A NEW STORY,

TO HAVE AN AWAKENING…

BUT DON’T BELIEVE.

 

HOW DO YOU KICKSTART YOUR LIFE?

WHEN YOUR ENGINES GONE…

YOU ARE JUST SCRAP!

 

YOU CAN TELL ME TO MOVE ON,

BUT WITHOUT MY SOUL…

I HAVE NOTHING…

NOTHING AT ALL.

 

DALE ‘M’

 

 

LIKE A SORE THUMB 11 P.M.17TH NOV.1978

 

The_Thinker,_Rodin

11 P.M. 17TH NOVEMBER 1978

STAKE-OUT

You know when you get morose drunk? When you have left your friends on the route home, and suddenly thought, I don’t want to go home? That’s the sort of feeling that gets you into trouble. So it’s 11 p.m., and I’m sitting on the stairs one floor above Mary’s flat. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her. In fact the last time I saw her was the wink. As a consequence of that little dalliance, I had caught scabies, and had suffered agonies because the doctor had not told me that I only had to paint the ointment on my skin once. I had put it on every day for a week, with the unforeseen occurrence, that I looked as if I’d been flayed. When I presented my skin for the doctor’s perusal a week later, he thought I was a complete idiot. You only use it once, no wonder you look like a lobster.

Luckily, the skin settled down relatively quickly once a curative balm had been administered. However, since that fateful night, I had decided to stay clear of my Mary, as she wasn’t particularly good for my health. Well, when I say I stayed  away… this wasn’t the first time I’d been sat sitting on the stairs above her floor, waiting to see if she came home alone. I had sat there maybe three of four times before, but as she had a guy, probably the army guy with her, I’d hid above and listened to see if he went in. He did, and I went home.

So this stalking behaviour had become a habit. What did I want? I wanted to make everything and everybody else just disappear. I wanted her to be with me forever. I think I wanted to make one last effort. I had a dream that if she knew how I felt, she would see what I could see, we were made to be together. I know a facile thought, but I was 18 and I loved her. I knew she loved me too. So why not?

I heard steps coming from below. No voices. A good sign. It was a long wait. 12 series of stairs take a while, even when you are young and fit. I looked over the parapet and saw her mop of crazy black hair below. She was alone. As she pulled on the fire door to her floor, I stood up. She stopped stark still, as if frozen in time.

“Hello” I said.

She looked down the stairs to see if anyone was there.

“Come in quick”. She looked afraid.

She shepherded me into her flat.

“You shouldn’t come here.”

“Why?”

“He’s out on Monday.”

“Who’s out on Monday?”

“My husband. He gets out of prison on Monday. You need not to be here.Seriously.”

“It’s Friday, I think it’s safe.”

” He has people watching me. He wrote me a letter, saying if I didn’t ditch the squaddie (english slang for soldier), then he would.”

“He would what?”

“Put him in a ditch. He would do it too, you don’t know the people he goes around with.”

“How did he find out about soldier boy?”

“I told you he has people watching me.”

“For fuck’s sake Mary, why don’t you just leave? You don’t need to be around this creep.”

“I can’t. He’d find me. You don’t know what he’s like.”

I hugged her. She didn’t push me away. She was shaking inside. I pressed my head to hers and felt the tumult inside her mind. We had that kind of connection, we could feel each others emotions. She hugged me so tight, we felt like siamese twins. I stroked her hair. We sat on the side of her bed… still in the living room.

“I’m here, I will always be here.” I said.

She sobbed heavily.

“That’s just it you can’t be here, I can’t bear you being here, don’t you understand?” I held her tighter and kissed her eyes.

“I love you, Mary, you know that, why not just come with me, I will look after you.” She looked into my eyes. I knew she felt the same, how could she not? We had been through so many other lifetimes together… (but that’s for another story)

“He will, kill you. You are still a boy.”

“I know people…”

“You don’t even know how to tie your shoes, my beautiful boy. You are my dream, my hope of happiness. I got myself into this shit, I will get myself out of it. You will go and have a happy life without me.”

An air of finality. She hugged me. I hugged her. I cried. I cried a lot. We undressed. We held each other into the night. We never let go of each other. It was a pure moment, a pure moment in a lifetime of madness. We relished it until finally we fell asleep.

I awoke about eight. My leg across her legs, my arms around her waist, my nose engulfed in the mass of her hair. I wanted to sneeze. I didn’t want to sneeze, I needed to sneeze. I wanted not to sneeze. I wanted the moment to last forever. The watery sun burst through the window, casting her long legs in light and shade… Always with Mary, the light and the shade! She was the most beautiful intelligent woman I had ever met, she was love personified, yet always she brought in the shade… The dark moods, the drugs, the ridiculous lack of faith in me… warranted I grant you, to some extent. She at that age had taken me to heaven and hell. And the men and women she paraded in front of me.

But as always, I wanted to scoop her into my arms and take her away. To look after her all my life. I wanted to protect her. Yet, she insisted on protecting me. I stroked her perfect skin, I held her perfect breast. I tried to slip my hand inside her knickers.

She grabbed my hand.

“No. None of that. Time for you to go now.”

I got up.  I got dressed. I had tears again, I tried to hide them.

I waved to her prostrate form as I made for the door.

“Dale. Don’t I get a kiss.” She leaned on a elbow. I lent over and kissed her on the lips.

“I love you with all my heart, Mary, won’t you come with me?”

“I love you with all my heart, Dale, I can’t come with you. I have to sort my life out, and you do too. Please don’t come around again, he will seriously fuck you up.”

I walked out of her life.

For 33 years.

It’s a funny way to live don’t you think.

DALE ‘M’

 

 

LIKE A SORE THUMB COMPLETE

SORE THUMB

INTRODUCTION

This is a story of life in the 1970’s, and my reason for writing it, is that although it remains real to people of my age, to many of the younger age groups, it is as remote to them as the the first world war was to me as a child. The only reason I have some understanding of the early 20th century is that I had elder relatives to tell me stories of their youth. Even though I struggle to write long stories these days, I feel it is important to share them as much as I can…

LIKE A SORE THUMB

 

FRIDAY 16th June 1978

I had to catch the train into work that Friday. I normally got a lift into work with my Dad, but the rest of my nuclear family had gone away the night before on their family holiday. At 18, I was considered too old to want to go away to Italy with my parents. I didn’t really consider myself too old, but as I wasn’t asked, I accepted the situation. So I had gone to work in Birmingham, with my weekend bag, ready to go straight to Banbury after work. Banbury was where my fiancee lived with her maternal Grandmother. We had a long distance relationship, she would come to my house one weekend, I would go to her’s on the other weekend. It was not ideal, but such was infatuation.

Friday was a good day in the Jewellery Quarter in 1978, We all got paid weekly, with real cash in a wage packet. The calculations were obvious, all details on the outside of the packet. Wages would arrive at 12.45, and then we would go to lunch in the pub. Friday was an early finish, we were allowed to leave at three, after doing resets and specials.

Friday, we would go to the pub from 12.45 until 2.00 pm. Then we would pop back to work for an hour and then the weekend was our own! I planned to go straight down to Banbury, to Kate’s, get changed then get back out on the beer.

At 10.00 am I got a phone call. There was a shared phone in the workshop. You didn’t really want to receive personal calls on this phone, as the rest of the workshop would listen in and basically take the piss out of you.

Kate called.

” Can you not come down this weekend?”

” Er, okay, Why?”

” My Nan’s ill.”

“Oh. What’s wrong with her?”

” Oh just the flu or something.”

“Do you want to come up to me? I’ve got the house to myself…”

“No. She needs me here.”

“Oh, okay. I’ll give you a call back later.”

“Okay.”

“Speak later.”

“Yeah.”

Odd. She didn’t sound like her normal self. She usually insisted on long protracted “no you hang up ” rigmarole, and protestations of undying love, which usually led to ribald piss taking from my workmates.

The Friday lunch time session came and went, and after four or five pints, the summer sun outside hit you like a physical blow when you came out of the pub. I went back to do the least amount of work possible for an hour, then left to catch the bus into Birmingham and then the train to Lichfield. By the time I was on the train, the beer had taken it’s toll, and I fell asleep before we even got to Vauxhall… The first station on the route to Lichfield. I awoke as the train left Shenstone, the last station before arriving at Lichfield…

Did I awake with my head and drool on someone’s shoulder? I can’t remember, but it wouldn’t have been the first time if I had.

I got off the train at Lichfield City train station, and immediately went to the Telephone box out side the station, to find out what was wrong with Kate.

The phone was answered by her Nan. She didn’t sound ill. She said that Kate was out and wouldn’t be back until late. Where had she gone, I asked. Her Nan had answered cryptically that she thought Kate should tell me that.

That did not sound good. I thought of getting back on the train and going down to have it out with Kate. However, The drink I’d had at lunch time, was still swilling through my veins… So I thought Fuck That!

The only problem with the family home was that it was a good mile and a half from the train station. I could, of course just go over the road and get on a bus… BUT… Between the family home and the train station were approximately 52 pubs. I had money in my pocket, beer in my belly, which was fast wearing off. I decided, Chips first, to line my stomach and then a crawl home visiting as many pubs as humanly possible. By 5 p.m. I had 6 more pints in my belly, and I was literally crawling down the back lanes, known as the windings, back home. The journey had taken on the epic nature of the Odyssey… I had been thrown out of two pubs; had an argument with an old school friend about football, been threatened by a couple of drunks, who to be fair were in a worse state than I was… I do not know how I got home but the next thing I knew, it was Saturday and my bedroom floor was covered in sick.


SATURDAY  17TH 1978

There is a false dawn when you wake up on a sunny morning after a skinful of beer the night before… It comes just before you move a muscle. You eyes open on to the bright sunlight which is streaming through your window, and you feel great, how good it is to be alive! This feeling lasts a nano second, because you then make the mistake of moving your head. Big mistake! The room, you discover, is still defying the laws of physics, and spinning around in a crazy Alice in wonderland way. So you shut your eyes again… Another rookie mistake! It is not the room doing somersaults, it is your brain! Your cerebral cortex is completing a spin cycle you didn’t even know you’d started.

Then your stomach joins in. You start those hiccuping movements… like a dog with a bit of bone stuck in the back of the throat… And you know you are going to be sick. The next question is: can you reach the bathroom in time. You jump out of bed…(big mistake – you left your brain in idle mode), step in the sick on the floor from the previous night, slip and fall. And as you fall, you spray the wall with an arc of vomit, reminiscent of Jackson Pollack. Then you just lie there. Sick everywhere, dry retching on your back like a perch that has just been pulled from the river… One hand on your head, the other on your stomach. Under normal circumstances your mum would usually be beneficial at this point. she would hear your plight, would bring a cup of coffee, alka seltzer, a towel… an argument or admonishment… But not on this day, on this day she is 3000 miles away in Italy with the rest of your family and  you are quite alone. Alone and safe to wallow in the detritus of your stomach and your life.

I’d like to say that having been sick, this early version of me, immediately got up, cleaned up and generally took care of business… Like to, but can’t.  This version of me, poor sad young fool, promptly fell back to sleep, right there on the floor, in a fetal position, only occasionally grunting as a movement brought more pressure on his solar plexus to emit more contents from his stomach.

So, two hours later, when the urgent sun had slipped over the roof and away from my window, I awoke again, on the floor, this time with the pressing need to evacuate my bladder. This time, I made it to the bathroom. Having Peed, I made the mistake of looking in the shaving mirror over the sink. I looked like  I felt. I dipped my head under the cold tap and swallowed a gallon of good cold water. I gingerly lapped some of the water over my face. I was alive, in a fashion, and had an endless lonely weekend stretching before me. No Kate, no family, no work, no sport, it being summer, and no thoughts on how I would spend the next 48 hours. Obviously, I was never going to drink again, that was a given.

It is amazing how big the house suddenly feels when you are alone in it. With the sudden crush of parents and brother are removed, it feels like a big aching chasm with nothing to fill it. It doesn’t matter where you place yourself, you just don’t seem to fill the void.

The obvious place to occupy would be my bedroom, I could listen to music, play my albums, on my space age music centre, bought in a moment of inebriation, from a work colleague, renowned as the local Shylock, who happened to catch me at a moment of weakness, and offered exorbitant h.p. rates on a 2nd hand radiogram at shop prices.Money management was never a strong point! I ate some food. Hastily scrambled egg on toast, which of course made me feel sick again. I drank coffee. I drank some more coffee. I went upstairs with a cloth and a bowl and tried to clear up the sick. I don’t really do sick. In effect cleaning up sick makes me sick. I cleaned, I gagged, I cleaned, I retched. I ran to the bathroom and deposited my breakfast back into the toilet. I took a towel. I wiped up the remainder with the towel. Then I shoved the towel in the washing machine. I drank more coffee. I noticed a letter on the door mat. It wouldn’t be for me, I guessed. I didn’t get mail. I hadn’t had mail since 1969, when I had a penpal from Leeds. I went to see who it was for anyway. My heart sunk. The letter was in a hand I recognised.

KATE.

Gist?

Dear John, blah blah blah.

Upshot. Don’t want you any more.

I was angry. Upset? No angry… mostly.

I went upstairs to my old Imperial typewriter. I had wanted to be a writer since I was 11, and my dad on had bought me the typewriter for Christmas in 1974.

I tried to compose a pithy letter back to Kate. The anger and the tears, ok, yes there were tears, made typing difficult. I was smashing down the keys with heavy thuds until the inevitable happened, the keys got jammed. I tried to disentangle the keys which had jammed in my ham-fisted angry way and promptly sliced the top of my right thumb off. Joy of joys.

Blood now gushed forth. What to do, what to do? The A&E dept was a mile away on the other side of town. There were no Doctors open, it was the weekend… Band-aids. I found gauze and band-aids ( plasters). I wrapped up the injured digit as tightly as I could, and looked for another towel to clean up the blood. It found it’s way into the washer. One day on my own, and two towels down already! As the family had taken most of the towels away on holiday with them, I would have to be careful with the thread-bare towels now left in the airing cupboard. Use them Judiciously, or face the wrath of the washing machine. This was a taboo implement which no man had,at that time, ever encountered. No, I would use the rest more sparingly.

(to be Continued)

Dale ‘m’

 


SATURDAY 17TH JUNE 1978 4 PM

Many a slip tween cut and lint. Given that the cutting of the thumb occurred at 10 a.m., and the temporary remedial lint and band aid assembly took around an hour to come up with, after dancing around as if attacked by a wasp nest and showering blood across a large area of my bedroom… so recently sullied by voluminous amounts of vomit, and then hastily cleaned by two moth-eaten towels… Now languishing in the darkest depths of the taboo washing machine, which no man should ever use.

With this state of play, the letter in response to Kate’s Dear John missive, was put largely on a back burner… As by this time it had ceased to be of paramount importance. Of paramount importance at this time, was to anaesthetise the throbbing pain of my thumb. Given that the primary anaesthetic I had access to was paracetamol, whisky and coke, the cola variety not the nose candy, I took 4 tablets and half a pint of whisky and coke.

I sat in front of the tedious  Test match between Pakistan and England on the T.V. In the late 1970’s television consisted of three channels. BBC1 BBC2 and ITV were the full smorgasbord of our in house entertainment. BBC2 had a wide selection of talking beards on open university, and ITV offered the british version of WWF wrestling, which involved fat man rubbing bellies together, the cricket was the only game in town.

I lay on the couch, drunk my medicinal whisky, and fell asleep.

At four, there was a knock on the door. I woke and jumped up. I grabbed the lounge door, with my right hand and screamed. The knock at the door became more insistent.

I opened the door with my left hand. There stood my soul mate. Mary.

“Are you ok?”

I tried to smile.

“Given that I yelping like a beaten dog, and my thumb is the size of a belisha beacon, (in the UK) an orange ball containing a flashing light, mounted on a striped post on the pavement at each end of a zebra crossing. ) I think we can safely say, I’m not at my best”.

“Can I come in?”

“Of course.”

She came in. I shut the door. She hugged me. I hugged her as best I could. I smelt her hair. Is that weird?

“Did you just smell my hair?”

“Maybe”

“Why?”

“Because it smells nice?”

“Still weird then?”

“So it would appear… You still beautiful then?”

“What do you think?”

“You know I think your beautiful.”

“Ok, getting way too earnest already…”

” Would you like a cup of tea? Is that more formal?”

“Yes. I would love a cup of tea.”

“Please do come in sit down, I will make you a cup of tea.”

She sat down. I went into the kitchen and put on the kettle. I got cups out, then realised there was no tea. We, as a family, drank coffee.

“I’m sorry we don’t appear to have any tea. Do you want a coffee”

“Not particularly.”

“Oh…Whisky?”

“No, a bit early for whisky.”

” I’m sorry I’m all out of small talk. What do I owe this pleasure?”

“Just an off chance really.”

” An off chance?”

” Yes, on the off-chance that you still have the acoustic guitar I bought you for christmas.”

Tricky. I did still have the acoustic guitar, but it only had three strings. I cannot begin to tell you what happened to the other strings, suffice to say, they were stretched across a wicker work clothes basket, in a vain attempt to create a bass sound for my musical creations. I was in the process of becoming a rock star. With two tape decks, an electric guitar and amp, a bass made as above mentioned and a drum made from an oil can and spoons… The acoustic guitar with three remaining strings, I bowed with a metal coat hanger. In my defence, I was a fucking idiot and 18, not necessarily in that order.

Did I tell Mary that? No. This is what I told Mary.

” I’ve got the acoustic guitar, but three of the strings were broke by my little brother when he was using it as a bow for his arrows. Little bastard!”

“Oh, that’s disappointing.”

“Why?”

“I wanted to teach my flatmate how to play acoustic guitar, so we could go out busking together…”

“Who is he?”

“Not a he, a she, she is called Deborah.”

“So not a man then?”

“No. Not a man. I’m Married.”

“You’re fucking what now?”

“I got married!”

“You are married? You can’t be married.”

ok. The back story. I knew Mary was my soul mate. Mary knew I was her soul mate… The reason we were not still together… Fucking hormones! I was besotted with her, but I was a teenage boy… And I couldn’t resist temptation… Ever! Not even when my life depended on it. And boy did I have time to repent at leisure!

“It’s no big deal. I got married so that I couldn’t be asked to give evidence against him in court.”

“Seems a pretty big deal to me… So where is your husband now?”

“In jail. They had enough evidence to convict him without my evidence being required.”

“Seems an awful big commitment to me. So what happens now?”

“I wait til he gets out of jail then get an annulment.”

“Is that even a thing?”

“Yeah my solicitors says should be fine, he got sent down the day after we married, so now chance of consummation. So, providing he agrees we should be able to get the marriage annulled.”

“You don’t love him then?”

“God no, he’s my fucking dealer!”

“Your Dealer? What you on smack now?”

“Sometimes, maybe.”

“injecting? You fucking hate needles!”

“Don’t be daft, I’d never inject, just chasing the dragon, a few times.”

“And this is what?”

“Just inhaling the smoke.”

“Oh right, nothing serious then.”

“No, nothing serious.”

” But worth getting hitched  to a junkie dealer for?”

“He’s not a junkie.”

“Well that’s a relief. And you accuse me of making bad choices…”

“You, my love, are led by your dick, you have a good mind but you never use it because your cock is in control… I am led by the desire to experience everything… This is why we are not together. We are bad for each other. You know that, I know that. But you are still my best friend. I love you.”

” And I dream of a day when you have experienced all you need and I have fucked all I need to fuck, and finally, we can settle down together.”

“Chances are fairly remote.”

“Mary, I know the day will come.”

“Ok. I wanted the guitar to sell. How nice am I now?”

“What did you hope to get for it?”

“£20. I hoped too get £20, just enough to get some food for the next week.”

” I can give you a fiver.”

“You can… Why? Why would you give me a fiver?”

“I feel bad I ruined the guitar. I wouldn’t want you to starve.”

“Bless you. You are such a sweetie.”

“What you doing tonight?”

“Oh um… I’ve got a date, But Debs is at a lose end, would you like to take her out for me?”

“Really? You want me to go out with your flatmate?”

” As a favour? She has massive tits…”

” Oh please, that’s your thing not mine!”

” I know. I’ve already seen them!”

“So your fucking your flatmate too?”

“Don’t you find that exciting?”

“Ok. Maybe. Are we normal?”

“Who the fuck wants to be normal?”

“Good point. What chance did we ever have of being normal?”

“We are what we are. So if you come to the flat, sixth floor of Bosworth House, about six, then you can meet Debs, and take her out for a while.”

“Ok. I’ve got nothing better to do.”

“Just one thing…”

“What?”

“Don’t mention that we’ve been together to her, she doesn’t want any one to think she’s a dyke.”

“Oh, ok.”

“And Dale…”

“Yes”

“About that fiver”

” Yes”

“Could you make it a tenner?”


So I had a date. My only interest,the fact that she may or may not have slept with Mary.

Interesting times.

Dale ‘M’


6 P.M.

So I had a date. A date with someone I’d never met. Someone called Deborah. Deborah. Ok, so I walked the half mile between my house and the flat where Mary and Deborah lived, with the earworm of Debora by T.rex ripping through my mind.

It didn’t auger well, oh Debora you look like a zebra… It wasn’t a look I could get behind.

I knocked on the door. Mary opened it.

” Oh you came.”She walked away from the door as if my following her in was a given.

Two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a toilet, were passed down a dark corridor, at the end of which was a door. Through the door was a large living room and a kitchenette. The view through the french window was exciting. It was six floors up. There was a small balcony. The prospect of standing on the balcony terrified me. The urge to jump from the said balcony would be great. I did not have a fear of heights, I had a fear that the urge to jump would overwhelm me. In the middle of this living area, Mary had stuck a double bed. Handy. I looked around and saw no evidence of a Deborah.

“Handy place to keep your bed.” Mary looked as if she might bridle at my comment. Then she thought better of it.

“It wouldn’t fit in the bedroom. Plus I like to lie here and look at the sky.”

A plausible explanation.

“Where is Deborah?” Mary looked a bit vague.

“She went out. She will be back soon…”

Mary started looking for something.

“What are you looking for?”

“My pussy.”

“So true… it’s what we are all looking for isn’t it?”

“Don’t be a prick, my cat, Loki, I’m terrified he will get himself out on to the balcony…”

“That would not be Lucknow would it.”

“Loki not Lucky, you knob.”

So humour was not making this any easier… The cat, Loki not Lucky, was sat on the kitchenette worktop, licking his arse. Nice.

“He’s there.” I pointed. Mary picked him up. She snuggled him up to her neck.

The front door opened, and a shout rang out.

“Only got some weed, nobody’s got anything else.”

I looked at Mary. She’d spent the money I’d given her on Dope. Perfect.

“We’re in here Debs.”

Debs said no more. Both cats were out of the bag.

“This is Dale.I told you about him.”

“Hi.” She said and then crashed into the one chair next to the double bed.

She had acne on her face, and mousy shoulder length hair. She was not a beauty, but had the advantage of not looking like a zebra. She also had a very prominent pair of breasts. In this age before implants, breasts that big were only dreamt of. I tried to talk to her, but she seemed not to be interested in me.

“Shall I skin up?” She spoke to Mary. Mary looked at me.

“You want a joint?”

I shrugged. Alcohol was my poison. Drugs had weird effects on me. Cannabis fucked my head up and not in a good way. I became a spastic in time. Literally. Time ceased to have any linear projection. A second would last for hours and hours would pass in a nano second. A lucky accident. The most prevalent drug of the seventies did not chill me out, but thanks to a freakish chemical imbalance in my brain, it freaked me out instead. I don’t know if this a common effect on other people, I’ve only ever been inside my own head, but being lost in time and space is not much fun, in certain circumstances it becomes a nightmare which you feel is never going to end.

So after the communal toking on the joint, of which I willingly partook, because why the fuck not when it was my money that paid for it, the narrative became somewhat blurred and dream-like.

We talked and laughed, we smoked and talked and laughed some more. At some point in the proceedings Mary got up and went into the bathroom. She was in there for an indeterminable length of time… It could have been  hours, it could have been minutes, but when she came out she was made up, unruly hair calmed and straightened, and she was dressed to the nines.

“He’ll be here in a minute, best you two kids disappear to the pub.” She shooed us out.

I looked at Deborah as we ran down the stairs,or walked, or flew, as I say I wasn’t really in the moment, and I thought… Nothing. She was not of any interest to me. Not very bright, not very pretty… Not my type. I’m sure she grew up to be a perfectly respectable person, but at that time and on that night, she was just a fucked-up kid, led by others. If I try to picture her now all I get is a benign Susan Atkins aka sexy Sadie (Charlie Manson acolyte)… A follower.

We went into town. We drank at the pub which had the vaguest concept of under-age drinking. I was of age, she was not, she was sixteen. She had very little conversation. I drank a lot. She couldn’t keep up. We left after an hour and a half. Walking her back to the flat, a distance of about a mile, was not a merry stroll. She was sick twice. Time began to  return to me, and it turned out I wasn’t having a good one. I thought, as I walked the unsteady Debs back, typical fucking Mary! Playing fucked-up games with me.

We entered the flat. The door to the lounge at the top of the hall was open. A naked Mary, bouncing energetically up and down on a blissful crew-cut soldier. She looked at me and winked. Winked. I grabbed Debs by the arm and led her into her bedroom. I stripped her off.

“Oh right.” She mumbled and lay on her bed. Her large breasts collapsed back into her chest and under her arms, like an under-cooked souffle. I felt repulsed. This is not what I want I thought. I would like to say that I pulled the covers over the poor girl, and left the building. I’d like to say that, but it wouldn’t be true. I had sex with her. Out of anger. Not violently, because violence is not n my nature, but in a perfunctory way. She moaned and held me tight, like a lover… and when I stopped, she was snoring. I dressed. I walked out of the room, out of the flat, without looking around to Mary. I went home.


this is the first episode of this story which is not accurate to fact. A lot of different experiences have been conflated, just to give the atmosphere of the time. In reality nobody was drunk, stoned or fucked without given consent.

 

To be continued.

DALE ‘M’


11 P.M. 17TH NOVEMBER 1978

STAKE-OUT

You know when you get morose drunk? When you have left your friends on the route home, and suddenly thought, I don’t want to go home? That’s the sort of feeling that gets you into trouble. So it’s 11 p.m., and I’m sitting on the stairs one floor above Mary’s flat. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her. In fact the last time I saw her was the wink. As a consequence of that little dalliance, I had caught scabies, and had suffered agonies because the doctor had not told me that I only had to paint the ointment on my skin once. I had put it on every day for a week, with the unforeseen occurrence, that I looked as if I’d been flayed. When I presented my skin for the doctor’s perusal a week later, he thought I was a complete idiot. You only use it once, no wonder you look like a lobster.

Luckily, the skin settled down relatively quickly once a curative balm had been administered. However, since that fateful night, I had decided to stay clear of my Mary, as she wasn’t particularly good for my health. Well, when I say I stayed  away… this wasn’t the first time I’d been sat sitting on the stairs above her floor, waiting to see if she came home alone. I had sat there maybe three of four times before, but as she had a guy, probably the army guy with her, I’d hid above and listened to see if he went in. He did, and I went home.

So this stalking behaviour had become a habit. What did I want? I wanted to make everything and everybody else just disappear. I wanted her to be with me forever. I think I wanted to make one last effort. I had a dream that if she knew how I felt, she would see what I could see, we were made to be together. I know a facile thought, but I was 18 and I loved her. I knew she loved me too. So why not?

I heard steps coming from below. No voices. A good sign. It was a long wait. 12 series of stairs take a while, even when you are young and fit. I looked over the parapet and saw her mop of crazy black hair below. She was alone. As she pulled on the fire door to her floor, I stood up. She stopped stark still, as if frozen in time.

“Hello” I said.

She looked down the stairs to see if anyone was there.

“Come in quick”. She looked afraid.

She shepherded me into her flat.

“You shouldn’t come here.”

“Why?”

“He’s out on Monday.”

“Who’s out on Monday?”

“My husband. He gets out of prison on Monday. You need not to be here.Seriously.”

“It’s Friday, I think it’s safe.”

” He has people watching me. He wrote me a letter, saying if I didn’t ditch the squaddie (english slang for soldier), then he would.”

“He would what?”

“Put him in a ditch. He would do it too, you don’t know the people he goes around with.”

“How did he find out about soldier boy?”

“I told you he has people watching me.”

“For fuck’s sake Mary, why don’t you just leave? You don’t need to be around this creep.”

“I can’t. He’d find me. You don’t know what he’s like.”

I hugged her. She didn’t push me away. She was shaking inside. I pressed my head to hers and felt the tumult inside her mind. We had that kind of connection, we could feel each others emotions. She hugged me so tight, we felt like siamese twins. I stroked her hair. We sat on the side of her bed… still in the living room.

“I’m here, I will always be here.” I said.

She sobbed heavily.

“That’s just it you can’t be here, I can’t bear you being here, don’t you understand?” I held her tighter and kissed her eyes.

“I love you, Mary, you know that, why not just come with me, I will look after you.” She looked into my eyes. I knew she felt the same, how could she not? We had been through so many other lifetimes together… (but that’s for another story)

“He will, kill you. You are still a boy.”

“I know people…”

“You don’t even know how to tie your shoes, my beautiful boy. You are my dream, my hope of happiness. I got myself into this shit, I will get myself out of it. You will go and have a happy life without me.”

An air of finality. She hugged me. I hugged her. I cried. I cried a lot. We undressed. We held each other into the night. We never let go of each other. It was a pure moment, a pure moment in a lifetime of madness. We relished it until finally we fell asleep.

I awoke about eight. My leg across her legs, my arms around her waist, my nose engulfed in the mass of her hair. I wanted to sneeze. I didn’t want to sneeze, I needed to sneeze. I wanted not to sneeze. I wanted the moment to last forever. The watery sun burst through the window, casting her long legs in light and shade… Always with Mary, the light and the shade! She was the most beautiful intelligent woman I had ever met, she was love personified, yet always she brought in the shade… The dark moods, the drugs, the ridiculous lack of faith in me… warranted I grant you, to some extent. She at that age had taken me to heaven and hell. And the men and women she paraded in front of me.

But as always, I wanted to scoop her into my arms and take her away. To look after her all my life. I wanted to protect her. Yet, she insisted on protecting me. I stroked her perfect skin, I held her perfect breast. I tried to slip my hand inside her knickers.

She grabbed my hand.

“No. None of that. Time for you to go now.”

I got up.  I got dressed. I had tears again, I tried to hide them.

I waved to her prostrate form as I made for the door.

“Dale. Don’t I get a kiss.” She leaned on a elbow. I lent over and kissed her on the lips.

“I love you with all my heart, Mary, won’t you come with me?”

“I love you with all my heart, Dale, I can’t come with you. I have to sort my life out, and you do too. Please don’t come around again, he will seriously fuck you up.”

I walked out of her life.

For 33 years.

It’s a funny way to live don’t you think.

DALE ‘M’

LIKE A SORE THUMB 11 P.M.17TH NOV.1978

 

The_Thinker,_Rodin

11 P.M. 17TH NOVEMBER 1978

STAKE-OUT

You know when you get morose drunk? When you have left your friends on the route home, and suddenly thought, I don’t want to go home? That’s the sort of feeling that gets you into trouble. So it’s 11 p.m., and I’m sitting on the stairs one floor above Mary’s flat. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her. In fact the last time I saw her was the wink. As a consequence of that little dalliance, I had caught scabies, and had suffered agonies because the doctor had not told me that I only had to paint the ointment on my skin once. I had put it on every day for a week, with the unforeseen occurrence, that I looked as if I’d been flayed. When I presented my skin for the doctor’s perusal a week later, he thought I was a complete idiot. You only use it once, no wonder you look like a lobster.

Luckily, the skin settled down relatively quickly once a curative balm had been administered. However, since that fateful night, I had decided to stay clear of my Mary, as she wasn’t particularly good for my health. Well, when I say I stayed  away… this wasn’t the first time I’d been sat sitting on the stairs above her floor, waiting to see if she came home alone. I had sat there maybe three of four times before, but as she had a guy, probably the army guy with her, I’d hid above and listened to see if he went in. He did, and I went home.

So this stalking behaviour had become a habit. What did I want? I wanted to make everything and everybody else just disappear. I wanted her to be with me forever. I think I wanted to make one last effort. I had a dream that if she knew how I felt, she would see what I could see, we were made to be together. I know a facile thought, but I was 18 and I loved her. I knew she loved me too. So why not?

I heard steps coming from below. No voices. A good sign. It was a long wait. 12 series of stairs take a while, even when you are young and fit. I looked over the parapet and saw her mop of crazy black hair below. She was alone. As she pulled on the fire door to her floor, I stood up. She stopped stark still, as if frozen in time.

“Hello” I said.

She looked down the stairs to see if anyone was there.

“Come in quick”. She looked afraid.

She shepherded me into her flat.

“You shouldn’t come here.”

“Why?”

“He’s out on Monday.”

“Who’s out on Monday?”

“My husband. He gets out of prison on Monday. You need not to be here.Seriously.”

“It’s Friday, I think it’s safe.”

” He has people watching me. He wrote me a letter, saying if I didn’t ditch the squaddie (english slang for soldier), then he would.”

“He would what?”

“Put him in a ditch. He would do it too, you don’t know the people he goes around with.”

“How did he find out about soldier boy?”

“I told you he has people watching me.”

“For fuck’s sake Mary, why don’t you just leave? You don’t need to be around this creep.”

“I can’t. He’d find me. You don’t know what he’s like.”

I hugged her. She didn’t push me away. She was shaking inside. I pressed my head to hers and felt the tumult inside her mind. We had that kind of connection, we could feel each others emotions. She hugged me so tight, we felt like siamese twins. I stroked her hair. We sat on the side of her bed… still in the living room.

“I’m here, I will always be here.” I said.

She sobbed heavily.

“That’s just it you can’t be here, I can’t bear you being here, don’t you understand?” I held her tighter and kissed her eyes.

“I love you, Mary, you know that, why not just come with me, I will look after you.” She looked into my eyes. I knew she felt the same, how could she not? We had been through so many other lifetimes together… (but that’s for another story)

“He will, kill you. You are still a boy.”

“I know people…”

“You don’t even know how to tie your shoes, my beautiful boy. You are my dream, my hope of happiness. I got myself into this shit, I will get myself out of it. You will go and have a happy life without me.”

An air of finality. She hugged me. I hugged her. I cried. I cried a lot. We undressed. We held each other into the night. We never let go of each other. It was a pure moment, a pure moment in a lifetime of madness. We relished it until finally we fell asleep.

I awoke about eight. My leg across her legs, my arms around her waist, my nose engulfed in the mass of her hair. I wanted to sneeze. I didn’t want to sneeze, I needed to sneeze. I wanted not to sneeze. I wanted the moment to last forever. The watery sun burst through the window, casting her long legs in light and shade… Always with Mary, the light and the shade! She was the most beautiful intelligent woman I had ever met, she was love personified, yet always she brought in the shade… The dark moods, the drugs, the ridiculous lack of faith in me… warranted I grant you, to some extent. She at that age had taken me to heaven and hell. And the men and women she paraded in front of me.

But as always, I wanted to scoop her into my arms and take her away. To look after her all my life. I wanted to protect her. Yet, she insisted on protecting me. I stroked her perfect skin, I held her perfect breast. I tried to slip my hand inside her knickers.

She grabbed my hand.

“No. None of that. Time for you to go now.”

I got up.  I got dressed. I had tears again, I tried to hide them.

I waved to her prostrate form as I made for the door.

“Dale. Don’t I get a kiss.” She leaned on a elbow. I lent over and kissed her on the lips.

“I love you with all my heart, Mary, won’t you come with me?”

“I love you with all my heart, Dale, I can’t come with you. I have to sort my life out, and you do too. Please don’t come around again, he will seriously fuck you up.”

I walked out of her life.

For 33 years.

It’s a funny way to live don’t you think.

DALE ‘M’

 

 

BEEN PLAYLIST

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BEEN PLAYLIST

  1. YOU’VE NEVER BEEN IN LOVE LIKE THIS BEFORE – UNIT 4 PLUS 2
  2. I MUST HAVE BEEN BLIND – THIS MORTAL COIL
  3. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN – SINEAD O’CONNOR
  4. I’VE BEEN HIGH – REM
  5. I’VE BEEN A BAD BAD BOY – PAUL JONES
  6. I’VE BEEN LOVING YOU TOO LONG – OTIS REDDING
  7. BEEN A SON – NIRVANA
  8. I’VE BEEN LET DOWN – MAZZY STAR
  9. I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR HER – MAC DEMARCO
  10. I’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE – LUSH
  11. IF I’VE BEEN UNKIND – LANTERNS ON THE LAKE
  12. IT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER – JOAN ARMATRADING
  13. MAMA, YOU’VE BEEN ON MY MIND – JEFF BUCKLEY
  14. I’VE BEEN THINKING – HANDSOME BOY MODELLING SCHOOL
  15. IT MUST HAVE BEEN YEARS – GARY NUMAN
  16. ITS BEEN A LONG LONG TIME – THE ELGINS
  17. I HAVE NOT BEEN TO OXFORD TOWN – DAVID BOWIE
  18. IVE BEEN LOVING YOU BABY – CINDY SCOTT
  19. SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE – CAESARS
  20. YOU’VE BEEN FLIRTING AGAIN – BJORK

I’VE BEEN BELOVED

DALE ‘M’