“Have I told you the story of the wart?”

Some time ago I had an itch in my bum. On looking at its reflection in a mirror I could see no red rash about the anus, so ignored it.

I could feel a fleck of skin, which might add to the pleasure of any lover, to Simon’s if I’d had it then. I couldn’t decide if I had had or acquired it since. When this itchy thing became bigger I took another look, a white egg nestling, and took it to a doctor. He said it was either a haemorrhoid or a wart. “It’s white.” Warts can be any colour. He asked if I’d had anal intercourse. Yes but it was a one-off. Warts can take months to appear, “up to a year,” he made a sweeping gesture which did gather Simon in. He wanted me to have a second opinion from a sex clinic and take an HIV test while I was at it. The clinic would have the treatment for the wart.

Since the West Mid was closed for Xmas, its busiest time I’d’ve thought, I went to Kingston Hospital, which never closes. Rachel diagnosed a wart and dowsed it with liquid nitrogen. “Does it count as an STD?” “Yes.” My first. You practise safe sex once.... There was a moral there somewhere, not one Rachel’d want to hear. She didn’t think it’d be from Simon, “though possible,” but from my regular partner without having been told his name even or that his predilections made him the less likely source. She said STDs were all on the up and up; people were going to meths parties to catch HIV, and the treatment was expensive. “People make distinction of their diseases,” I said. She warned a first treatment mightn’t work. I should give it till New Year week. I said I’d never liked anal intercourse but felt obliged to give it the occasional shot and last time it’d been a pleasure, worth a wart. She was encouraging. “With a bigger cock,” I concluded.

The wart was bigger, what had been hard below the skin surfacing with the treatment I reckoned. I didn’t look. As expected, I was cleared by a text on Boxing Day of all other STDs.

Olivia gave it a scoosh but wasn’t sure it was a wart that she’d expect to be flattened and wanted a doctor’s opinion. Simon, a senior nurse, also wanted the doctor’s opinion. “It’s too big to be a skin tag,” Dr Nathan said but while almost sure it was a wart wasn’t finally, asking had there been bleeding. She might as well take a look up the arse for other warts while she was at it. She prescribed another wart treatment to be applied three days a week for a month. She was about to give instructions but, “He won’t have any difficulty finding it,” it was that big. “But it is a benign tumour,” I said. “Let’s hope so,” said Simon.

I took a look. It was no longer white and round but a pink flap. The liquid nitrogen had omeletted the egg. It was flattened but stood up on its edge.

My listener was chortling the while. It’s the way I tell them, “Schadenfreude! The wart’s taken over my arse, the arse of a baboon baboons find attractive,” present company excepted.

No confirming text from the hospital about my appointment to see the doctor after a month’s treatment which was causing bleeding like piles’ blood. I went anyway. No appointment computed so I had to go through the rigmarole, as I told Olivia, of seeing a nurse. She arranged for me to wait on a doctor upstairs, Dr Nathan, her hair tied back. I’d taken a printout of The Wart with the bloody update on the back. Dr Nathan laughed at its beginning. “Brilliant!” Could she keep it? She’d read it later. One takes one’s readers where one finds them. I said the wart was inhibiting me but I had used it to ward off a friend, the one not named in the story I emphasised by a rapidly repeated pointing to the page, by saying if he hadn’t give me it, as he was denying he had, he could be infected by it. As I clambered on to the examination couch, she asked if I wrote. I’d poems published in a magazine and a story, my best, published in Dadaoism, An Anthology. There was a book too but that was taking so long to be published, years, I wasn’t counting on it. She asked if I’d warts in front. I had but the one, behind. The wart wasn’t any worse. “It’s just as big,” I said. Might she squirt it with a little liquid nitrogen? She might. It was inflamed and too broad-based, the unsaid implication being to have been reduced as I inferred, but could easily be lopped off. Meanwhile I was to continue the medication and near the end of the two months attend a night clinic. I asked what she thought of Brexit. “It should not have been put to the people.” Or what’s a parliament for? “In Richmond we gave the Brexiteers a bloody nose.” “You did!” “Wiped out a 23,000 majority,” I swept it away with my arm.

Mr Fawcett in the surgical unit of Queen Mary’s Roehampton didn’t think it a wart because depressed though he rooted around inside me to check there weren’t contradictory others. “Dr Nathan did that too.” That I felt it as raised was because of debris filling the depression. It wasn’t a haemorrhoid either, nor, he thought, malignant since the cream was now reducing it. “I never thought it was.” He drew a diagram of a raised wart, a horizontal line that went perpendicularly up, along and down in the middle, a dais, and another of a depression, a perpendicular line that went perpendicularly down, along and up in the middle, a trough, which he filled in with scribbled shading, rubble or brock. I was reminded of Sir John Fraser’s drawing a cat and asking was it me before an operation for a TB gland when I was three and my inarticulable anger at the insult but I’m a mature seventy-eight year old and was completely complaisant. In any case Dr Nathan could refer me again for a biopsy if she saw fit when next I saw her, at a Wednesday night clinic. He shook my hand. It was a lovely spring day. I ran for a bus, tossing away my too tired companion like a used tissue from the hand of a litter lout.

The same letter came in two envelopes differently dated from Mr Fawcett. I took both with me and the updated story to the clinic. Richard, the nurse, covered my naked bum with paper towel while he called in Dr Nathan. I had to clamber down, bits dangling, to silence my chirruping phone before resuming foetal position on the couch, arse decently posed. Dr Nathan said it was definitely a wart, though… and she conveyed its quondam enormity that she’d never seen the like of before largely without words, since the Aldara cream had worked. “Or basal cancer,” I said. I gave her the update and a copy of Mr Fawcett’s letter she hadn’t received. I asked Richard was it possible for somebody who’d had sex with somebody else, Debbie, with genital warts to pass it on after twenty years, suggesting the answer no. “Yes,” said Richard, “if he had a wart.” “Don’t let him off so easily! He never takes responsibility for anything.” “You could have got it from your very first partner,” Richard went on. Sheila Raeburn! when I was six.

27/9/ I’ve a red lump on my right temple I can’t tell is by an insect or not. It’s not itchy unlike the red patch at my knuckle below the index finger of my left hand I can’t find a bite mark for though there’s a little lump.

13/10/ So annoyed at John’s marking my sheet with the biro he insists on playing with and had difficulty sleeping.

15/10/ Finishing Sebeos when John calls in with cannabis oil in putty form which he rolls and crushes with the vegetable vi-gra to give me an erection. He had no idea he was marking the sheet with indelible ink. After a really long session I consider lubricating John’s arse and turning him over. I can’t be arsed. Instead I get on top and push my cock between his legs and it feels like it’s in him and with a bit more thrusting faster I might even come there. I ask if I was. Nearly he says. Eventually he comes. The thin skin of my cock is raw from his tugging but unbroken. My lower arms have a rash of spots I wash and put hydrocortisone on. John was spotless and said there were none on my back. I wank afterwards to porn. My extremities have taken to itch during the night for no apparent cause.

By Monday the spots have died back and I’m thinking of giving it a week.

18/10/ Again itching and red weals in the night, going with the day. I’m killing drosophila. A debilitating cold, the first in years, puts me off moving far less going to the doctor’s to make an appointment and keeping it. The cold would confuse the issue.

31/10/ A weal makes me make an appointment for next Thursday at doc’s. If I’d phoned in, one was available at one. Penny emerged to give me a hug and step back at the sound of my cold, suggesting all manner of horrible reasons for the spots.

3/11/ Have learnt not to scratch, as Janie, my Goodreads friend advised, and to put cream on extremities before bed. Tired. Dr Simpkins was running late so I came home, listened to the end of Tchaikovsky’s 1st and Rachmaninov’s Vocalise before going back to wait. She thinks the Daktacort for red spots and patches from right shoulder to chest may have suppressed my immune system since a fungicide and I’ve to have a blood test because she can’t explain the itchy extremities. The receptionist had logged off so I’m to go back tomorrow morning to order the test.

4/11/ Before washing done, went for paper and blood test appointment though no itching extremities during night, finally coffee. John came about nine with hash and for sex both of which were had. I didn’t come.

11/11/ Jasmine took blood for iron and B 12 as well as for kidneys. John called in for some hash for his friend. He says it’s ‘defaced’, not ‘unfriending’ on Facebook. He’s had two lots of group therapy this week, one for OCD, the other for PTSD and has gone to an AA party, a contradiction in terms.

12/11/16 Involuntarily scratch sole or hand before realising not to but then cream it. Slept in.

13/11/ Itching of the extremities is back, starting with hands, ending with feet and a weal on the right thigh that had two further puckered circles on the redder raised oval and which disappeared in little over an hour. John came early. He’d found out today was not one on his list for use of the St John the Divine hall for rehearsals so had to phone people up, lying he’d just been told over the phone. Six did turn up and were shown round but no drama students who’d been warned off by their tutor from mixing with criminals. If the play doesn’t come off, John’s going to give a poetry reading instead. When he did come back he had cold duck bre-st with microwave reheated mashed cauliflower and some broccoli, carrots and green beans with three glasses of wine all told and two spliffs. He accompanied me to Waitrose for milk and a coffee where Kawa and a girl explained the likelihood in future of having to buy something for the coffee. He watched a girl putting her hand over a dog’s eyes and poking its teeth until her foreign mother saw him watching and stopped the indulged child.

14/11/ Creamed likely bits, having to redo two small areas in the night. Weal on inside arm took longer than an hour to dissipate. Slept in, another symptom or effect. Updated Janie on itching issue.

15/11/ Up early, feet itching. John visits and we have lunch, he three glasses wine and we two spliffs. He was going to Poundland in Kingston for shower gel and I accompany him on the bus to check up on the chair I bought which is in Heal’s warehouse under a different category that has to be altered to bring it to Kingston Heal’s, which is going to email me on its arrival. We go to HMV, shifted to below ground floor in Bentall’s and onto a different Poundland. We alight from the bus back to see if Nocturnal Animals is on, at Studio Screen 7 at 6:20. I pay for both tickets on John’s insistence, £22. Buy tomatoes and chorizo slices from Tesco and have a spliff before going back to the cinema. Great film. John doesn’t wait for a pizza but goes home to his hostel.

16/11/ An animal dropped off me and I picked it from the floor and put it in an empty spice jar along with, as I thought, another much smaller insect I caught but probably a fruit fly that got away in fact. Another weal on my upper right inside arm above where I’d applied cream. I’ve flea powdered the bed in case.

17/11/ I woke up at 3:30 to pick about a dozen bedbugs from the sheet, pillows and duvet and half-a-dozen more at five, joining the first lot in the spice jar. Online bedbuggery suggested the council would get rid of them but I had difficulty knowing which department to contact so I made a general contact and went over to the civic centre to ask. The receptionist helped me phone Dialapest and I’ve arranged a disinfestation for next Thursday. I bought bed bug killer powder meantime. Left a letter for Dr Simpkins. Read the conditions for the disinfestation online. Remarked on my unspeakable day on trivial Facebook. Told Janie about it. Stripped the bedding and put it in sealed bags. More nesting bedbugs in the underblanket along its top hem. I’m going to sleep in the bath.

18/11/ Bath too cramping, I slept in on the bathroom floor. Hoovered thoroughly and doused the bed and mattress with bedbug killer powder. Told Diana, a neighbour, of bedbug infestation as I hung out the washing which remains out in the cold. The hot wash didn’t get rid of the bugs’ shit of course. A dead bug fell from the undersheet. Put the duvet, pillows and blanket in to drycleaners next block down.

Saturday morning John buzzed. At the door he made some joke about how long does it take old people to get up. I was in my dressing gown. He walked into the room, saw the bare bed. “It’s an infestation,” I said; “I’ve never had an infestation before.” He asked how I’d found out. “An animal fell off me in the morning and I sprayed the bed with insecticide,” getting up at three-thirty, picking up a dozen, and half a dozen at five, putting them in a jar, he picked up, “Is this them?” he held up the clear glassed spice jar to look. “I told you it was bedbugs,” he went on. I doubted that, “You thought it was drosophila.” “I don’t know what drosophila is.” “Fruit fly. The doctor said it wasn’t an insect. You probably brought it from the hostel.” “The hostel rooms are done every week. They have to be.” I doubted that. “I’ve a shower every day. I’ve never been bitten, in all my years in prison.” I’d noted he hadn’t been bitten. “They don’t bite everybody. It’s nothing to do with body cleanliness. They’re carried in clothing.” “I wash my clothes.” “It has to be a hot wash,” at least 60˚. “It is a hot wash.” I doubted that. “So I haven’t been bitten but carry it in clothes?” he scorned. Typhoid Mary. “You brought it in yourself,” he went on, “from the library, and that’s a fact.” “That’s not a fact.” He conceded it wasn’t. “There are lots of homeless people use the library, smelly. One sat beside you.” “You’re homeless yourself. I’ve been going to the library for years. You lay on that bed fully clothed. The marks weren’t from a biro but bedbug faeces.” “I never took the top of the biro.” I was watching and had thought he hadn’t. “You just want somebody to blame,” he said. “All you’re interested in is exculpating yourself. I’ll go through my diary.” “Your diary!” he scoffed, picking up his bag to leave. As the door out was closing I shouted after, “It’s not your fault. You’re not to blame but it may be your responsibility.” I didn’t quite show myself looking out as I usually do to wave. He looked up and made with his hand what I took to be a ‘fuck you’ gesture. I was perturbed by the denouement but it was done now, and had to be done.

The train was packed until Clapham Junction. I found The Old Crown though that its advertising itself as OC fooled me for a minute. Seeing no one in the bar I proceeded through to stairs going up and climbed to the first room. No one I knew there either, so onwards and upwards to the next room, temporarily named Catherine, which was empty. I waited outside. A pretty young woman in a close-fitting cap I wasn’t sure was Dominika was. She offered to find out by phone where Beehive, who’d neglected to give me the details, would be eating but, not needing it, I hadn’t brought my A-Z and without it would get lost in Soho, so decided to stay put, with her. She’d had bedbugs herself at Cable Street. We were shortly joined by Maria. I bought us drinks on my card that always works and we went upstairs where Zoe presented herself to me as If I already knew her but didn’t. “You’re pretty, Zoe.” Sian and her crooked finger she can straighten at will and isn’t asking doctors about, and Veronika, in a hat with protective ear flaps I forget the name of that boys in Scotland wore when I was a child and that lengthened her thin face further, also joined us. Dominika thought Sian should keep her finger crooked. The girls went over what they’d do during their performance about the association of dogs with man. Dominika bought me a large wine.

Quentin came with Beehive and I was able to hand over present and card. “Is it silk?” she asked of the scarf, “To go with my hair,” a greenish blue. She put aside what she could see through the transparent packaging I hadn’t opened, to keep it pristine, in order to open a wrapped box from somebody else. She’d been told of the bedbugs, “which are curtailing my sex life. I asked Quentin to stay over but he declined.”

Carsend addressed me, stating I’d put him in a blog. “Was it all right?” It was. He’d say so anyway. “You look different? Is your hair shorter?” He thought it must be his hair. “What’s his name?” I asked Quentin. I’d regressed to thinking ‘Carson’ which I knew to be wrong. Quentin taught me how to remember it, “Think of ‘cars’, ‘end’, ‘Carsend’.”

People wanted to know how I knew Beehive. “Through Quentin.” And how did I know him. “We went to the same writing group he founded.” Quentin demurred. “You were the key man,” to what bookshop he was now uncertain. “Langton’s.” George wanted to know if I wrote. “Quentin’s my publisher.” George was impressed I wrote though Quentin’s much more impressive. George wanted to know if he’d read anything of mine. “Have you read ‘Dadaoism’?” No. Then not. “What was the other thing? Sacrum…?” “Sacrum Regnum,” Quentin said. I dismissed as irrelevant a book with another wouldn’t-be publisher.

Quentin was doing the rounds collecting to pay for the room hire. “I wasn’t told about this.” That was down to Beehive. “I won’t have change for my paper tomorrow,” Sunday. Quentin waited in the way of a nonetheless expectant dog. “Oh all right. I’ll get more money.” I took a £2 from my palm and handed it over, followed by £1, but paused, looking for another. “There’s one,” he said. “Oh you would see it, wouldn’t you!”

I asked the barman, who would impress me by leaping over the bar in one bound I couldn’t’ve done even when young, if we might take our drinks outside and I went out with Dominika, she for a fag. “I might as well finish my story about my Issy,” I called Belle who came to tell me she wanted to be married, believing I could effect it. She’d already been married but I agreed, also believing I could give what she wanted. What did I want in return? That she should write the process down, by implication for me to read. To cut an extraneous story short, she had a twenty-two year long marriage that was hell. When she died of br--st cancer she treated with alternative medicine, her jealous husband brought her memoirs to me to prove she was unfaithful, as I knew she wouldn’t be. He died shortly after. It had been a symbiotic relationship. In archiving, I’d pencilled out what’d make a commercially successful book, turning on Belle’s realisation she’d made a mistake, but her daughter didn’t want her mother looking stupid. “Am I talking too much?” I asked Dominika on the stairs up. “No! Anyway I like hearing you talk.” Whenever I was hugged from behind, I’d know it was Dominika.

Sian asked if I smoked. “Hash?” She only smoked tobacco.

Joe arrived. He’s making money filming an advert for a posh hotel whose bubble of poshness he can’t, otherwise, relate to his life. Oscar wasn’t there, having a cold in Oxford. I ascertained I’d got the right Iz Zi, in a prior blog. “She misspelled ‘glamorous’” “You corrected her.” “No! It’s Facebook. I told her she was.”

Dominika went down on the floor on four legs, bum wiggling to the fawning life, walking up to the other girls, portraying the association of b--st with man. “Where’s the humping?” Sian later said that would be an improvement. Maybe not since they were all bitches, not a dog among them.

I spoke to Patrick who said he was seeing a psychotherapist for depression because he isolated himself by relating to women with mental health problems, without, he added, thinking he could solve them. “How old are you?” Thirty. “I’d’ve thought it’d wear off. You’ve always a way out of the relationships. Why do you think you do it?” He wanted to be needed. He had a system of quick expressive hand and arm movements accompanying his words. I was finding him attractive, in fact rousing and that never happens when I’m talking with people but did, before dying away, and which I put down to his vulnerability’s inciting predation. I gave him my address to remember.

I told I think Maria of the rousing. “Surely not,” she said. She, or possibly Dominika, referred to my boyfriend, “who’s dumped me.” I explained the circumstances: he didn’t want responsibility for the bed bugging. Maria admitted to being Joe’s girlfriend and finds sex makes for intimacy. I had doubts about that, citing two recent novel sexual experiences with two people, the emotional satisfaction from being fucked by a neighbour upstairs of me, a one-off, and the pleasure of fucking the quondam boyfriend without the convention of raising legs for easier access but like fucking a woman.

Most of the karaoke songs were like a slow rap. “Your songs are better,” I told Quentin. “Oh!” I pointed to a ‘to’ that should’ve been a ‘too’ and Quentin gleefully nodded. I also noticed the American solecism of using the stressed preposition ‘of’ for the unstressed verbal abbreviation, ‘ve. The best singer was – I asked Quentin, “What’s his name?” – Nick who gave some idea of the music and also danced exuberantly, usually with Naiem, George and a taller bearded man in pink who keep saying things to me I didn’t get, before he was off. I couldn’t dance like that. Too boisterous. I’d start making it… what was the word? slower, softer: seductive. Nick did sometimes pause but the look in his eyes was never the self-doubt of what-am-I-doing! He might occasionally look at me with an interest he didn’t know how to follow up on. He wasn’t that interested! Meanwhile I was appraising his looks, his attractive extroversion and how thick his waist might be and did I mind? I asked Quentin if another young man whose belly I thought I recognised was Richard. He didn’t know. I also considered whether Nick’d look better shaved, to lighten his face, since his hair, eyes were dark and sometimes his face retreated behind a darkening, blurring veil.

Quentin, much more sociable than me, threw himself into the singing especially one song so dolorous, “You could’ve have written it yourself.” “Why did you say that!” Beehive charged. “You bitch!” She buffeted me a lot. In Dan’s absence I was Quentin’s other man though we weren’t talking. I was just standing near and stood my ground. I wasn’t doing anything. She kept giving me looks that slid away. “Are you enjoying the party?” she asked. “Yes. Thank you for asking me. I like different experiences.” ‘Lola’ was coming up. “You do ‘Lola’,” I said to Nick. “You do it with me.” Oh, no. I was sitting and watching a lot. I didn’t know whether I was enjoying myself. I didn’t want to leave though. I looked at Patrick who after talking with one man was talking with another. I was more isolated than he was. They were all lovely but something was lacking, perhaps the specificity of the erstwhile boyfriend’s attachment. I’d make do and mend. Quentin and Joe mouthed, was I all right? I walked over, “What did you say? That’s what I thought you said. I’m fine.” Joe said ironically I’d be alleviated if I sang. “Yeah, right.” Quentin asked what I would sing. “Ca the yowes tae the knowes.” I did sing to Killing Me Softly, and to Lola but only briefly with a microphone a girl slyly put to my mouth.

Jackson came late, after work. I waved. The girls did another performance about giving birth, not to a child but a half water melon I thought Maria said, that Nick and the boys entered into, encircling the birth, and which was extended into happy birthday wishes to Beehive. Joe was making a video film of the performance on a device with a screen not much bigger than a phone, if not a phone, that he delegated to Quentin who spread his hand in front, interfering with the picture, and I thought Joe, who was back, should take over again, as he did. “Was it about giving birth?” I asked Sian who said, “Yes”.

I was introduced to Julia, ADHD but who medication normalised if not the rushed abruptness of her speech. “So long as it doesn’t stop you doing what’s you,” or something such I said. She deplored Trump’s talking ill of the dead Castro. She was going off, but, “You stay here,” she said. She didn’t come back. She looked at me and her eyes slid off. She did make a foray down to the karaoke group nearby.

I told Dominika Sian had said she loved me, and I’d reciprocated, “She doesn’t know me,” not that knowing is a prerequisite of love. Dominika let Jackson and Quentin talk without her intrusion because they liked talking to each other. Me too, Jackson, when he was talking to George. Jackson was perturbed George was a Bolshevik and wanted him to be too. I didn’t understand how either, but maybe to do with the Corbynista hard left taking over the Labour party. Jackson thought them too principled to succeed politically. I’d only just understood what had happened and couldn’t anticipate where it was going. He had a beard so I couldn’t see whether he had the scar I remembered that Dominika, and now he, denied he had.

Joe was leaving without knowing how to get home and his girlfriend had already gone. “Didn’t she say she was?” She had. I asked Quentin, who was well-wellied, if he knew how Joe could get home. He didn’t. “He’s a big boy; he’ll manage,” I concluded.
“Have you lost your bag?” I asked a rifling Carsend. He had.

I also was leaving, on seeing Quentin was preparing to. I commended a passing Nick on his Lola, his energy. He said I hadn’t sung. I had. He said I was shy. I was a Cancerian but I did do things. He assumed from the accent I was Scottish. Born in England, even brought up in Scotland, where I acquired my east coast cultured accent, I was British and had no secondary nationality to fall back on, neither Scotch nor English, should the worse befall. He said he was from Indonesia and had done better guessing about me than I him. “Djakarta?” A little place, or island, to the… but I interrupted him so he didn’t finish. He admitted to having been from Oxford, where he knew Beehive. He’s here for a few months. Leaving was delayed. Quentin had taken off his big black hat.

“I’m the token oldie,” I told Nick over my shoulder as we cantered down the stairs. “You’re only as old as you feel,” he said. “I don’t look in mirrors,” I said. “You should,” complimenting his young looks though maybe a residue from thinking about his face being improved shaven.

Outside I was going with Dominika and Jackson along New Oxford Street while the others the other way but the ritual of their leave-taking takes time and Dominika and Jackson went back to add length to it with hugs. Under the close cap, his beard melted into the overall handsomeness of Nick’s face. I tried discerning which girl he’d leave with but failed. He blew me a kiss and I blew him one back. The inordinate leave-taking went on. Left to me, I’d go. I edged back, not to be too conspicuous. Nick’s eyes, on seeing I hadn’t gone, slid off. The ritual over, we three left. Jackson had a cold coming. Dominika wanted food. I ran for a Piccadilly bus. “Where did the bus go?” Round a preceding corner. I left them. Tottenham Court Rd tube station was open, at three in the morning. I decided to walk on. The streets were as busy as during the day. Among so many people at night I felt my life was pointless. Unlike last time, there was a crowd waiting for the N22. An Irishman asked for change. “I haven’t any.” I wasn’t about to call him back to insult him with the little I recollected I did have. Last time I’d the top deck to myself. Behind me was a hubbub that progressively thinned till items of phatic conversation became distinguishable. On alighting, I thanked the driver, going home to feed the bugs. It had taken ages for Dominika to get rid of hers.

Aiming for the start at 8:30, after peeing I left at 7:30 for Joe’s party Dominika had invited me to, taking the fast train to Waterloo, Jubilee to Canada Waters and found the DLR station, after asking where it was from a passerby. “Does that” sitting “train go to Langholme Park?” “Where?” the platform assistant asked, never having heard of it. “Langsomething Park?” “Yes.”

There was no park this side, so it had to be across the rail bridge to the other and Bright Street should lead onto St Leonard’s Rd. “Is this St Leonard’s Rd?” I asked. “Along there,” I was directed, but no one along there knew where Balfron Towers was. Wrong direction. A van driver said the only tower he knew on that road was “that one,” he pointed. I hadn’t thought it’d actually be a tower. He kept on being helpful.

“Do you know where Balfron Towers is?” I asked a couple. “Are you going to the party?” They were eating first, letting me in and punching the lift button for the twenty-fourth floor. I missed flat 132 at first but saw Joe through its kitchen window. I was first to arrive, as usual. He was still setting up. “You’re as pretty as ever, Joe; and shaved. Are beards going out? I’m only an insecure man five days a week; I shave two.” I apologised for not bringing champagne. He said there was prosecco, as was my bottle. I asked for Dominika’s address he was surprised I didn’t already have and added it to my to-do list before returning it and the biro to my cloth Richmond library bag with the A-Z, phone and glasses in it I put on a bench by the window and followed Joe as he put things away and secured cupboards in the kitchen and, along the lobby, in another room, beyond which was an open balcony.

A young woman who might be his partner burst in to induce Joe to set up the sound system on the roof but Joe, after quickly introducing us who went through the kis-ing on the cheeks, was disinclined to, on the grounds the speakers wouldn’t be loud enough for outdoors. She was Metta, though I wasn’t sure it wasn’t ‘Netta’. I’m assuming the spelling. Metta had a ring through her septum. Joe has one through the rim of his ear. My interest was in having one drink from my bottle, leaving the rest to whoever wanted, to which end I sined out four glasses by leaning over two bikes. I opened the bottle unaided and started pouring into a glass while, Metta, impressed I’d washed up, stretched for some paper cups. I transferred my drink and poured two more.

We were drinking in the bigger room, as long as the adjacent other and balcony together, when Dominika arrived with Jackson, her boyfriend I embraced and kissed on at least one cheek. Jackson had heard a lot about me. All good, I doubted. I poured drinks for them and another young man. That was the bottle out of the way and checked Metta’s name from Dominika.

Jackson and I drifted onto the balcony for a smoke he rolled on the edge, losing some grass. “Get down and pick it up!” I mock-ordered, assuming it’d fallen in and not out. He’d read Nietzsche. I hadn’t got through Also Sprach, not his best Jackson considered which was Birth of Tragedy. I didn’t say I thought his suicide invalidated whatever he might have said about life. We talked of Francis Bacon and Charles Dyer Jackson tentatively corrected to ‘George’ who committed suicide. “Why?” Jackson thought it was because Bacon’s superior friends patronised him. “That’s inferior! If you’re superior you make people,” I skirted the word ‘inferiors’, “feel better about themselves.” “People should be nice to each other,” Jackson concluded. “You have to be able to be nasty.” That may have taken us on to Socrates, a virtual suicide, who, Jackson thought, wanted to be appointed teacher to Athenian youth. I didn’t say it was to be fed at state expense. “It was that condemned him. Why didn’t he go into exile as was expected?” That, Jackson thought, would’ve betrayed his principles. I considered whether principles are worth dying for and doubted I would for …whatever mine was. Why didn’t his man stop him? I liked Socrates because he had a daimon, Jackson called daemas, like I did and whenever I came across Socrates in any of the ancient books I read I put a dot on the corner of the page. Jackson liked that but said he didn’t understand. I explained: Socrates’ god must’ve been his unconscious will, as my man, without being very Socratic about it, told me he was and Jackson too must have an unconscious will that wasn’t making itself evident to him, as mine did me but no longer much was – so why was I going on about it? The last time was probably while I was being strangled into unconsciousness and saw a vision, of me on the floor with a man standing over I took to be my man leaving me dead who took on the appearance of my assailant however, saying ‘what’ll he do when I’ve gone? I don’t care what he does! I’ll be gone,’ that I knew from the tone was no longer my man in the vision but by which he was letting me know what the assailant was thinking, and from it that I wasn’t going to be murdered. “He stopped killing and went on to bite me, my thumb, the shoulder and somewhere else. As he was preparing to leave, he kept between me and the door. On his leaving, I asked, because I wanted to know, why he hadn’t taken the hostel place he’d been offered. He’d felt comfortable with me. I’d been too indulgent.” Was I talking too much? There was a lot more and Jackson was confusing the long-term prisoner I’d deinstitutionalised with the psychopath I’d witnessed against for GBH to the friend who’d brought him to me. I cleared that up. He might meet the former and think he was the latter. We talked of fate even Zeus was subject to, that the Xians scuppered with their belief in free will provided you choose subjection to god’s. Lucifer, Jackson said, was God’s favourite. “Probably because he rebelled,” I said. “I too act freely though unconsciously determined.” Jackson thought his nearest equivalent of being fated or unconsciously directed was his deciding without any apparent reason to go out for a walk one night in Melbourne and being attacked from behind by a man who asked why he was there and told him they were going to do this and that and then Jackson would tell him. Jackson, separating himself from himself, calmly raised his palm and gently pushed the man away, getting himself out of there and away. It was like me watching myself manipulate an employer into anger to the point of his having no choice but to sack me and then leading him back down again. The attack might account for the scar on Jackson’s left jaw I didn’t ask about. He has a mole on his right cheek which reconciled me to the ‘beauty’ spot I declined to have removed since the beauty it marked has long gone. His lashes, and looking out from under, made his blue eyes sparkle. He supported my having it out with Dan when he came about why he hadn’t come as the third appointed gatecrasher to my birthday party since any explanation was being avoided.

Dominika asked if mine was the canvas bag she’d put in a drawer in the kitchen. I had my keys and wallet with cards on me in my blue shorts. I couldn’t find the drawer on checking but someone pointed it out to me. Mette told me she’d lost her cards, pin no and Dutch passport in a fanny bag somewhere in the building. When I retold this in her hearing she’d giggle, “fanny!” at my having misheard. She said she shouldn’t be the one drinking out of a glass when her guests weren’t. “It looks elegant.”

Back on the balcony, I was being introduced by Dominika to people. “I won’t remember everybody’s name.” I wasn’t going to blog the occasion, using people for material, and there were too many of them to remember their names. I do remember Agniezka’s because she tutored me in its pronunciation till, “Perfect,” she said, and, having gone that far, I went on to how it was spelt. “I’m Polish,” she added, otiosely I thought since it was Dominika introduced us and she was, but probably not if one didn’t know ‘Dominika’ was Polish and ‘Agniezska’ might be a more generally Slav name. Agnieszka was shaven-headed. Another punk I wasn’t being introduced to had a lot of light dyed hair and asymmetrical black makeup, over one eye’s lid and under the other’s.

I saw dancing was starting up. If I was going to dance the encumbering blue hoodie had to go and I pushed it into the small kitchen drawer along with the bag. The drawer couldn’t be completely shut and when I passed I would glance to make sure it was as unshut though I could always get home in my semmit and buy another summer hoodie if need be.

Dominika introduced me to Naiem, whose name I had her spell out, I’d met before at her house painting. The punk I hadn’t recognised was Beehive, who went at dancing like a little locomotive, all pistons flying. Quentin was there and was shortly made up, by the girl’d done Beehive on entry, with a spar across his forehead and the post a line down the bridge of his nose. I’d never seen him dance before. I like to coordinate the movement of my body to whatever the music’s doing, holding to its shifts and nuances, my feet adept enough to adapt. Everybody was dancing with everybody else, the men perhaps a little wary of dancing too closely with me. I love dancing. Intending to leave early I went to see what the time was on my phone. 11:20, too late to catch the last train to Richmond, as I said to Joe. “What do you feel like doing?” Joe asked. “I feel like staying.” “Then stay.” It was an all-night party. I could catch the first tube in the morning.

As I was dancing, a young man asked where I got my black tiger-striped vest. He liked black. I told him where but that he was unlikely to be able to buy one since it’d been on a remainder sale. Gary was his name. I thought of stripping it off to give him but he was too big for it to fit.

I’m trying to remember where I told Jackson Quentin didn’t think himself a success. It may have been in the small room. Jackson thought he was, as did I, but Quentin wanted to be able to live off his writing. Jackson said he must read something of Quentin’s. Jackson painted and I told him there were church venues and such all over London, that Richmond reference library had continual exhibitions. He had had ten exhibitions in Melbourne and one coming up here I advised asking the High Commissioner to, to breach the coterie and reach the public as Quentin hadn’t. All Jackson wanted was to have a house in which he could spend his time painting. “You’ll have to be successful to be rich enough to do that.” On our way out, me following a padding Jackson, I was asked again by Gary the name he’d forgotten of the online retailer of my silk vest. “Patra. You must come to Richmond,” I said to Jackson who replied he would. We mounted the stairs to the roof for a smoke. He didn’t like going too close to the edge in case he felt the urge to throw himself over though the protecting wall was chest high. I looked down. The houses were like Monopoly ones and the people, if not ants exactly, were like very small animals. The trees were too far down and off to cushion my fall. “I see what you mean,” I said. Along the horizon was an edge of red lights at the tops of buildings that weren’t to ward planes off since the taller Canary Wharf had a flashing white light. Jackson thought the red was chosen for aesthetic reasons but that would mean each building separately going for red as was unlikely. He pointed out an odd green.

Because they can’t find dark matter and energy, scientists are beginning to think Einstein might be wrong, I told him. This was a good thing, we agreed. I said Dominika was leaving the party early to write her thesis. While Jackson liked it he couldn’t come to grips with it and would read it later, a stance that I compared to my inability to understand ‘To the Lighthouse’ on a first attempt but found it great at a second. Jackson went off to pee in the near corner of the roof.

A young man got up of the ground to introduce himself, “We might as well know each other,” as Richard, shaking hands. He’d been lying on the dance floor earlier and I asked why. He’d a bad back. Was it on medical recommendation he lay? It was but he didn’t want to talk about it any more. “Is it because you’re tall your back’s bad?” because the tall people are more susceptible. He walked off. I asked Quentin if I’d said anything offensive. He thought not. Beehive thought it was because Richard had suffered too long from his back. The idleness of my intellectual curiosity may have, in contrast to his real pain, annoyed but you may work out from this text more exactly what the reason might be though I’d no inkling of it at the time.

In the dance room I wanted to ask Quentin if he was enjoying himself but I wouldn’t know if on consideration he said he was whether his enjoyment would be what I’d call enjoyment. Instead, I’d been told I attracted the depressed, that all my friends were, and asked Quentin what might be the reason, was cheerfulness always breaking out? “Are all your friends depressed?” I couldn’t count beyond two, him and the one who’d said. I wasn’t counting… – I made a gesture – because…? he’d know why. Two wasn’t enough to affirm all were unless I took my friend’s word and I wasn’t prepared to do that if I didn’t know who they were and recognised that they were. Quentin excused himself. “Go.” Gary commandeered my ear to say he played hiphop and was expected to wear colours. “You can wear what you like.” A distinction based on clothes was too superficial to engage me. Blacks wore colours because they could carry them off. Gary’s skin wasn’t dark enough to be set off by them to advantage. A girl said I should be wearing a curly wig. “Is it because of my nose and Medici features?” I asked. Possibly. She sought endorsement from another girl I should wear a curly wig. “I know a man who wears a wig,” I said, “to be taken as a girl by other men who want to think they’re heterosexual.” The facial expression of both girls was that of comme il faut. The paraphernalia’s unnecessary if you’re clothed with grace. Dominika said “everybody thinks you’re lovely.” That could be construed as patronising of them. I told her I’d advised Jackson to invite the high commissioner to his exhibition, explaining why, “or somebody important,” and that he was thinking of going back to Australia after two years. She said they might move on, to Canada. “Are you happier?” She was. “Are you divorcing?” She was. She was wobblier than me, thus reconciled to being two pounds overweight. I didn’t catch the beginning of what Dominika was saying but it was something about my getting sight of her br--sts later, then her vagina. I recalled at four making Sheila Raeburn show me hers in full flow and concluding, “When you’ve seen one vagina, you’ve seen them all. It’s a very white party.” She agreed. I thought the one man who stood out as black was telling us he’d broken a glass but Dominika retrieved the other half of his broken glasses from the floor to give him. She was more au fait. Suddenly there was Oscar! We danced and embraced. He felt hot. I thought to ask Quentin about Dan but forgot by the time I reached him and Beehive on the balcony, so passed by to the small room where I stood, turned and, passing Quentin, went back to the dance one where I turned, stood, recalled and went to Quentin, “Is Dan coming?” He wasn’t. He was too big for the dance floor and had no friends here. He was tall. “He has friends here.” “The friend he has with him hasn’t and would be gatecrashing.” ‘Gatecrashing’? Of this party? Was he using that word to make it more likely I’d accept the explanation? “No one’d mind.” Quentin was conveying what wasn’t true. “Oh, Dan!” Beehive emitted exasperation short of a groan, substantiating my observation of the party that women, free to go wherever they would, came back to reclaim their men not from other women but other men and Dan was Quentin’s other man, except he wasn’t here. They had been to a music festival together. I was too relatively unimportant to Dan to think his not being here was primarily to avoid me. Was I never going to see him again? “He asked me to give you his regards.” “Give him mine.” Jimmy Hedges was there. “You brought the beard with you.” He was leaving next morning.

I was looking for someone to attach myself to and saw Jackson framed in the open outside door but didn’t want to obtrude. He may have had more than enough of me. “There you are,” he said. “I’ve been looking for you.” I was wanted! and made aware by the attendant impact I might not be as self-assured as I thought. “Will you go out with me to buy cigarettes?” He hadn’t thought to bring them and papers. “You can’t think of everything.” By leaving the block we let in waiting people, possibly gatecrashing, definitely relieved to get in to the parties. We walked right quite a way through all but empty streets until Jackson decided ours was a hopeless mission and we turned back. I pointed to a line of shuttered shops we hadn’t been aware of. What time was it? I didn’t have my phone. By his it was two o’clock. He should’ve asked Dominika. She didn’t smoke but would’ve got him a cigarette in no time by asking. He didn’t like asking. He preferred giving. “Is that because you’re afraid of being rejected?” He thought it was more he felt vulnerable. I didn’t think I minded asking. A cyclist was coming toward but he’d stop, might not have a cigarette anyway and I’d’ve made him deviate from his course. A pedestrian coming toward turned to his right and was too far away to ask. Jackson pressed 1, 3, 2 to be let in. There was a prolonged sirenic buzzing he in a tizzy cancelled. “We can wait till somebody comes out,” I said but, following the instruction plate, pressed, didn’t cancel and there was a voice and babble I ignored because there was also a click. I pushed the door and we were in. Having learned how to operate the door, I applied my acquired expertise to the lift, pressing 2, 4. The lift however required a different expertise, the pressing of a button already marked with a 24. They make things easy for anybody to use. “You get the cigarette. I’ll get the papers,” knowing exactly where they were. Joe was standing outside the toilet, between the door to that and the small room doorway. We embraced and his hotness impressed me. He introduced me to Issy, close-cropped, maybe a fashion. I asked were she and Joe…? “Just good friends.” “And there’s another,” I said of a fleeting Oscar. Jackson came out of the toilet. How had he come there? “Are you in line?” somebody asked. “No,” though curious what might be inside. On a shelf to the left was a pile of loose coins, so trustworthy were these people. The papers were where I remembered them, apparently since unused, on the table by the wall on the right. I snaffled a few, emptying one packet, and decided just to take the other. “Here,” I couped the lot into Jackson’s hand.

Passing through the dance room I asked Gary if he had a cigarette. No, but he knew a man who did. The man refused, moving away, looking offended by me. Gary was profusely apologetic. “I don’t mind.” The room was smoke free.

Outside I saw Quentin and Jackson heading for the roof and tagged along, catching the word, “nominalism.” “What’re you contrasting it with?” “Realism,” Quentin said, going on to ideas. “Are ideas the same as platonic forms?” They were. He extolled mathematics as a language entirely composed of universals. Physics is universal, I thought. It uses mathematics. Quentin cited four as a universal. “When you said ‘four’, I saw a 4,” (not like that though: curly from the top, like the glyph for Jupiter). He alluded to sets but that one needed the idea of a set to include it in the set, or something. I hadn’t been taught sets so had no idea what he was on about. ”I don’t want to die,” I said apropos of nothing, but knew I’d have to. We headed to the other side of the roof from earlier. Quentin turned to ask if the effect of heights was particular to them. “Burns in spate do the same. It’s common.” I wasn’t paying attention to what they were saying but trying to work out if the moon on the horizon, a crescent moon, was the moon and not, alternatively, some luminous sign on the top of a building. “Is that the moon?” They paid no heed. There were clouds but, from a star I could see higher up, not such as would obscure the moon so that that might be a sign low cloud was occasionally blurring the contour of or it was the moon. The moon, Quentin objected, without the cloud of a doubt, was too much an object to be taken for a universal and there were other moons. They are called moons because of the moon though. “There’s the moon!” said Dominika. “We’ve been through all that.”

She handed us tins. “I haven’t to drink beer,” being a coeliac. “Shall I give it to Quentin?” who had his. “If you want to. I brought it for you.” It wouldn’t be cloudy, with gluten, in a can. “I don’t think it’ll be dangerous;” I drank. Her thesis was taken from my short story she hadn’t finished. What short story? “Instance.” Her thesis was an author’s work didn’t just belong to the author but because of the way its words related to each other it was something in its own right, and she didn’t mean as interpreted by any reader. Did I understand? No, “I can only understand the way I understand,” my Uranus stuck in Taurus. “My words are too vague!” “I was trying to understand how they related to the short story and failed to see how. The short story isn’t meant to be understood either consciously or unconsciously, for example the protagonist uses ‘you’ to address his man who isn’t evident while the antagonist takes it to mean him and at one point it’s both,” to have an effect on the antagonist a reader mightn’t grasp but she wouldn’t have got that far anyway. “It’s a written model.”

Dominika asked what hatpins were, I think as used metaphorically, that I in my befuddlement took literally and explained what. I went back to Quentin, “my short story inspired Dominika’s thesis.” “Good.” I rejoined Dominika who said I’d met… a name I didn’t catch, and who was wearing close-fitting white head gear that made her difficult to recognise but she was either who Dominika and I had gone to a show with or the actress in that show. Dominika told her I was seventy-four when my first story was published. I subtracted 2012, the year of publication, from this year, 2016: four, which I subtracted from seventy-eight, my age now, and I would have been seventy-four. I marvelled Dominika knew about me better than I did. It wasn’t strictly true it was my first published story but close enough. “It was dadaist, breaking all the rules and the final rule it broke was it was true.” “But it reads like fiction!” Dominika said. Because of dyslexia she finished reading an hour after everybody else. She told how we’d been to the Wigmore Hall to hear contemporary classical music though we couldn’t remember what. I suggested Rihm while she grappled with recalling a name I didn’t recognise. I may be conflating two scenes here because sitting in the same place for both, the second with Marlon, the girl’s brother. Oscar peed in the corner.

Oscar was standing in the door with a smudge on his cheek and a black comma from the left corner of his mouth. “Wipe it off,” he said. I did think to spit on the tissue myself but held it to his lips, “Spit. Your beauty is resumed.” If his dancing’s anything to go by he’s as lithe as ever.

Gary was dancing frottage behind me and I did think to put my arm backwards to grasp him round the neck. I had danced rape before but any elaboration would’ve been inappropriate to the circumstances. Jackson put his arm round and pulled me in with him and Dominika. “Is this called a threesome?” shortly to be a foursome, a fivesome and a most unstable sixsome. Gary called for attention: the police were here. This party has everything! and the music was to be taken down a notch, the windows closed. The floor cleared. I liked the illusion of hands and arms dangling from the upper frame of the open window reflecting those beneath. I went out to see the police who were along the way at another party. “You made it to the party then,” the girl who’d let me in said. I didn’t see the point of anybody’s complaining when the parties were celebrating the end of flat guardianship, a one-off. Neither did she.

The door to the roof was locked. A girl tried unlocking it using her phone. “That’s a very smart phone,” I said. She went on to use a hairgrip to no avail. Quentin, Jackson and I stood by the door discussing what truth was, a debate too restricted to consciousness for me to be much interested in though I’d still have liked to be able to put together the big flat jigsaw puzzle that I was pleased to see enthused Quentin. “It’s usually truth to something,” I offered, and liars know what it is the better to avoid it. “You know them by their insistence they have it, so much do they want their lie to be believed true, like Xians.” Jackson asked about truth in fiction. I waved him to Quentin whose forte that was. Up the stairs came a group. One stopped to offer me a drink. “Is it all right if I drink from the bottle?” It was. His wine didn’t taste cheap but unexpectedly good in a way I couldn’t define. “Have another,” he said. I thought about my person for something to give him and, finding nothing, declined another pull, handing the bottle back, looking up, appraising his smiling face, swithering between concluding he was good looking and not quite but deciding he’d do me, in the right circumstances. He paused a moment longer, hand on the door he went through, catching up on his friends or not as I turned back to mine. Jackson told of Wittgenstein disconcerting his men by wanking over mathematics. “Whatever it takes.”

They were leaving. “How?” “Bus,” Beehive succinctly said. I would leave with them, watching her in bra and pants change with her back modestly facing the small room. I watched Quentin in the kitchen face the challenge of a tie in a knot round his striped kimono. I’d’ve raised it above my head. He lowered it to his feet and stepped out, rolling up the tie for later disentanglement. Ready, I waited outside. I did think to say goodbye to others but didn’t want to miss going with Quentin and Beehive. Naiem joined us. Mette let me off leaving the party since I’d been there a long time. I was surprised by her bare bum and legs as flimsy fabric was parted by her hips like theatre curtains opening. At the lift Naiem had lost his phone. On the ground Quentin thought to phone Naiem to indicate where the phone was as I wouldn’t have. He didn’t have the no on his but Beehive did on hers Quentin phoned from, as the lift door opened on Mette with Naiem disconcerted at his phone’s ringing. It was 4 am. He’d thought his phone lost because he’d put it in the wrong pocket. I’ve done that. Beehive felt guilty at shortening the party for Quentin but it was the right time to leave it. Naiem and I followed Quentin and Beehive to a stop where was a night bus to Trafalgar Square. Naiem and I recalled what he called a door I bought that Dominika still used for designing on. When he got off and waved, I waved back. When Quentin and Beehive alighted they scrutinised the shelter timetable for another bus. A bunch of blacks at the back sang London is a city that never sleeps. Trafalgar Square was hooching. I took out my glasses and looked up the A-Z under a light to see if I’d written anywhere the no of the night bus to Richmond. What I thought a homeless man lying on the pavement was an overturned bin. I walked to Piccadilly Circus where there’d be a stop. I asked a man at the underground exit where it was. He said he was only a garbage collector but Richmond was that way. I couldn’t see a stop that way but buses on Regent St were going north so I reverted to that way, Piccadilly itself, and recognised N22 on a stop there as my bus. A man said he’d been waiting for an hour for his. I chose to get off at Richmond Station where I said good morning to a scavenging neighbour who didn’t see me. Richmond looked odd empty. I drew the curtains, cleaned my teeth, peed and went to bed at six.

[Because of this site's censorship, I've replaced with hyphens letters in a word it thinks invalid to use since the publisher hasn't yet validated the word]

Went off at 7:30 to Joe’s party and as usual was first to arrive. Metta, Joe’s partner, is Dutch and had lost her fanny bag with passport in it and cards. She wanted the sound system on the roof of the Towers with a view of London and the crescent moon rising above an edge of red lights. Dominika and Jackson arrived. She’s writing a thesis inspired by my dadaist short story, published she told Marlon when I was seventy-four, that she hasn’t finished, being dyslexic. Jackson’s a painter who’s given ten exhibitions but none yet in London, one coming up, and to breach the coterie of like-minded appreciators I suggested asking the High Commissioner of Australia to it. Jackson had a fated meeting in Melbourne with a man who attacked him unawares after it came to Jackson to go out walking at night, the schizo asking why he was there. A damaged Jackson separated himself from himself and got himself away by first calmly pushing the loonie away with the palm of his hand. I had Agniezka spell out her name. I danced, quicker on my feet to accommodate all the music. I wasn’t going to even try to remember the names of people Dominika was introducing me to, never mind all the others. I didn’t recognise Beehive at first because of her asymmetrical black makeup making her a latter day punk. A cross was also painted on Quentin’s face, the bar on his forehead, the stripe down his nose. I was the only oldie there. I checked the time, 11:20, too late to catch the last train home. Joe asked how I felt. I felt like staying.

27/8/16 He’s as pretty as ever and shaven, as was Oscar. Everybody danced with everybody. We went up on the roof where Quentin explained nominalism as against realism and Platonic and Aristotelian universals to Jackson and me, tagging along. Jackson was in perennial pursuit of a cigarette to make spliffs from, having omitted to make provision of tobacco and papers. “You can’t think of everything.” We walked out in pursuit of an open shop for tobacco and rizlas. He didn’t mind giving but didn’t like asking; it made him vulnerable. I didn’t mind though consideration stopped me asking a man on a bike. I appropriated some papers from a table I’d seen them on when we went back, me getting used to the buzzing for re-entry and then confusing that with doing the same in the lift when a different method was called for. This looks like it could be a blog. Dominika tried explaining to me how we are not the authors of our work because the words take on a life of their own in relation to each other but I have difficulty understanding anything other than the way I understand, my Uranus stuck in Taurus. She gave me a beer I’m not supposed to drink, being coeliac, but did anyway because it would’ve disappointed her if I hadn’t and there’s not much danger. I may have given offence to Richard, who lay down for his bad back, out of my intellectual curiosity at its badness, maybe because he was tall, at odds Beehive suggested with its long term pain for him. Oscar had a smudge of black paint on his right cheek and a comma of it on the corner of his mouth. “Wipe it off.” I held a tissue to his mouth, “Spit,” and did. “Your beauty is resumed.” I suspect from his dancing he’s as lithe as ever. Gary wanted to know where I’d got my tiger semmit I’d stripped down to the better to dance, putting my blue hoodie in the drawer where Dominika had put my bag with the A-Z in it. There were a lot of people but, from a handful of coins left out, all trustworthy. Dominika reintroduced me to Naiem I hadn’t seen since her house painting years ago. Naiem, and Gary, notwithstanding and a black man whose glasses were broken, though I was thinking a glass was broken, a piece of which Dominika was retrieving from the floor, “It’s a very white party.” One girl wanted me to be wearing a curly wig, possibly because of my nose and Medici face, that I would eschew but knew a man who did wear one in order to be taken as a girl by purporting heterosexuals. The girls shrugged: comme il faut. Jackson told of Wittgenstein disconcerting his men by wanking over mathematics. “Whatever it takes.” Gary was dance-frottaging, Dominika offering the sight of br--sts and vagina. “When you’ve seen one vagina, you’ve seen them all.” The roof was closed off. A girl tried unlocking it with a phone – “That’s a really smart phone” – and a hairgrip. Dominika asked what hatpins were, I think as used metaphorically. A young man offered me a drink from his bottle I took a gulp from. A blog of this would have to be of fragments, a scattering of beads without their broken chronological thread. At four Beehive wanted to go and Quentin was leaving with her, having difficulty extricating himself from a striped kimono-like garment because its tie was knotted tightly. I thought of his lifting it off overhead but he chose to manoeuvre it that he could step out over and out, rolling it up to be disposed of for later disentanglement. I left with them. Metta excused me for leaving since I’d been there a long time. Beehive felt guilty at shortening the party for Quentin but it was the right time to leave it. Naiem left with us, going back for his lost phone, in the wrong pocket. Quentin thought to phone it to indicate where it was but didn’t have the no. Beehive did. Metta and he appeared from the lift. Quentin and Beehive led to a night bus stance. I stayed on the N15 till Trafalgar Square from which I made my way to Piccadilly where I knew there’d be another bus to Richmond and, with the help of a garbage worker at the exit to the underground, found the stop on Piccadilly itself. I was back in Richmond by quarter to six where I said good morning to Mark, my neighbour, who was self-absorbedly foraging by the station.

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