Apologies, it’s been a while. Let’s recap.
So, last month I found myself in the posh part of London with a banana in my hand and a nearly nude Syd Barret lookalike crouched in front of me, calling himself an anal virgin (how does one tell these things?). And yes dear reader, I penetrated him. In the mouth.
I felt dirty after this banana face-fuck, and so I should. After all, I only went along to see sex undressed as art.
More recently, Goldie died. She was my first and my only dog, my doggy, the best in the world. I’ve never been so sad and inconsolable in my adult life. Esther was even worse, having got Goldie so she would have to leave the house at least once a day.
“I’ve lost my best friend, my job, and my child all at the same time,” she told me heartbreakingly.
And yes, I’m afraid God briefly lowered his ugly mug over the Velux of my mind.
“Promise you’ll never take her for granted again, and I’ll bring her back,” he cajoled, his beard scraping the glass like screaming trees.
And yes, I did consider it. Him.
But then I realised:
Taking life for granted is its chiefest pleasure.
What special hell life would be if every moment was spent appreciating what you’d got, doing the 719th Times Table in order to count your multifarious blessings, wracked with guilt for not enjoying that last crisp or for not thanking your poo before flushing for its splendid job of removing toxins.
I reached up and finger-wrote ‘No’ into my breath condensation, and God jogged on, assuaged at least for now (he never strays too far). That was a close call.
But the maths of man’s best friend is shocking. Dogs age 7 years for every human one, which means that she was 49 when we got her from the pound, much older & wiser than the new fools charged with looking after her.
But it also means that for every day we were with her, she was cantering off a week into the future, and we could never ever catch up.
That’s just plain unfair.
Shortly after, we moved house. In the space of a month, two of the great wire structures that suspend my papier-mache personality were plucked away: loved pets and lived places. I realised then just how much identity is tied to memory and memory is tied to place.
“But the next people who move in after us will get Goldie,” I sobbed to Esther, imagining that because she died in our old house, she was trapped there forever. The house where she remains is of course our minds, a home you’re only evicted from when you die (even insanity is just moving to a hotel while the flood damage is fixed). And she isn’t trapped there, unless I am trapped there too.
I was having a funny day when I met Arthur, and forgot how steep & long the hill was on the way to the pub where he was playing. By the time I got to speak to him, I had a puffy, strangulated voice that I just had to work with. I was led into a back room where he was there in a robe, touching his toes.
“Just two more,” Arthur says without stopping.
This was like one of those diva moments I’d heard of, when a star proves they’re a star by doing something socially inappropriate in front of you.
“Living in a van is hard!” Arthur says when he’s finished. “Want a cup of tea?”
I really wanted to be served tea by the God of Hellfire, but I already had a lemonade from the bar downstairs.
Arthur was a fascinating man, each answer to my questions coming after a period of silence where his great memory machine rumbled through the findings of 7 decades of life. His show afterwards was even better, silly and OTT and life affirming. My top 3 moments were:
- Shoving his mic down his pants and thrusting his fake erection at the crowd like a 7 year old boy.
- Stealing the keyboard and the keyboard player having to chase him across the stage, still managing to flawlessly play his arpeggios.
- Wearing the baggiest grandad trousers I’ve ever seen, like sagging psychedelic longjohns, and not caring.
I think Jarvis might be to blame for me coming to Sheffield. I can’t remember why I chose Sheffield Hallam University, but at the time I was obsessed with This is Hardcore, and Different Class before it. Blur and Oasis were ok, but Pulp and Suede’s lyrics were the ones I recited as I crept along the walls of the haunted house of teenagehood.
I spent all weekend re-listening to their songs and watching a sneak preview of the documentary that the interview is there to promote. By the day of the interview, I had 50 questions.
So imagine my confusion when I rang the number his PR had sent and heard this.
Jarvis: “Pablo? Pablo? Pablo?”
Me: “Hello Jarvis? Is that Jarvis?”
Jarvis: “Pablo? Pablo? Pablo?”
Me: “Jarvis? Jarvis?” etc
After a minute of this nonsense, I realised it wasn’t an initiation test for inexperienced interviewers and put the phone down.
“Erm, I think you may have sent me the wrong number for Jarvis,” I emailed the PR frantically.
5 minutes later, and 10 minutes into the interview time, she replied with a different number and I was through.
“Hello, I’ve just made some toast,” Jarvis told me.
“Oh, ok.” What am I sposed to do with that info? Oh, wait. “Shall I ring back in 5 minutes?”
“Make it 10.”
So I made myself a cuppa with slightly shaky hands, and rang back in precisely 14 minutes so that I didn’t seem too eager.
“You timed that just right,” he congratulated me in his impeccable and unflappable Northern voice.
…An hour later, we’d covered everything.
“I had a lot of questions.” I thought out loud, “but we seem to have covered them all.”
“Well, that’s good int it,” he said in a voice that always seemed to be skinny dipping in the adjacent pools of mockery and cameraderie.
“Maybe I’ll get to meet you at the film premiere,” I say coolly.
“Yeah, we’re trying to organise an afterparty somewhere…” Jarvis responds, sounding suspiciously like an invitation.
“Sounds amazing!” I say, and then, implausibly, “If they let me out!”
So that’s how I ended my interview: with something so forehead-scrunchingly weird, that having gone over it several hundred times, I still don’t know what I meant.
I think my logic went:
Quick, say something funny.
Say something funny that blokes laugh at.
Blokes laugh at things about wives.
What’s that thing about how wives are sposed to stop you having fun? Oh yeah, ‘my wife won’t let me out.’ Or something.
No time. Go with it.
Please don’t. But I did.
I don’t think I want to go to the afterparty anymore.