You stir my natural emotions,
You make me feel I'm dirt
And I'm hurt.
And if I start
I run the risk of losing you
And that's worse.
The Buzzcocks 1978
Yes. Right – next topic, time to move on. There's nothing to see here...
Oh... You mean I've got to elaborate a little. OK... How about this: Yes, frequently....
though sometimes it's just lust.
Now play the song.
OK. OK... So long as I keep telling myself this is fiction and not a confession it
should be alright...
There's really not too much point going through every charming young lady who has
managed to work their way into my affections – or more pertinently my imagination
– over the years, had a good old root around my luxury six piece luggage set and
then strolled off leaving my emotional baggage strewn liberally about the place.
These days I try to travel light. A lot of that baggage is consigned to a Big Yellow
Storage just outside the ring road of my day to day awareness; reached only by a
well worn path of maudlin, self absorbed navel gazing, lack of sleep and injudicious
amounts of alcohol. Even then, it is not always an easy route. The sat nav of my
mind leading down many a blind alley and dead end. And so for the most part that
baggage rests behind its locked doors. Never quite forgotten but largely overlooked
and gathering dust. Pushed determinedly to the back of my mind.
Unfortunately, the back of my mind has proved a receptacle for the vast majority
of my thoughts. Always having favoured the minimalist design look of the uncluttered
space that forms the front. Indeed so much stuff has been chucked back there in the
name of peace of mind that I can barely keep my head upright. Often having to seek
comfort in a supportive neck brace in order to see what's directly in front of me.
And yet, despite all such carefully taken precautions, my world can be turned upside
down, those locked doors thrown wide open, by the merest of words, a gaze held, or
a half smile shared. So, all those I have fallen in love with, if never exactly loved,
please form an orderly queue... I'll deal with you one at a time... Oh dear, I wasn't
expecting quite that many. Err... right, perhaps if you could sort yourselves out
into two lines. We'll have straight forward everyday fantasy over here: that's old
classmates; friends; work colleagues; house sharers; that girl from behind the bar
in the White Lion. No names I think, just to preserve others right to privacy and
my integrity – though another bit of gaffer tape ought to hold that together for
as long as necessary. Let's just call them, She. (Yeah, that one.) OK, and only in
my wildest dreams surreal fantasy over here: There's Debbie Harry circa 1978; rock
chanteuse Fiona Flanagan in 1985 – lovely to see you; Betty Rubble; Daphne from Scooby
Doo; oh, Debbie Harry again circa 1999 – well that shows a degree of consistency
I guess, if nothing else; and that rabbit outta the Cadbury's Caramel ads..?. Thanks
for that Subconscious Mind... remind me not to let you and Lustful Thoughts go out
on the piss again.
Right - change of plan: Clearly far too many to deal with on an individual basis;
I'll deal with you en masse. There's no particular rhyme nor reason to it. No type.
It might have been a stray hair, a turn to the corner of the mouth, a laugh, a look,
a blonde, a brunette, slim, less...slim. If you took them all together you wouldn't
get an identikit image of my fatal weakness... nothing that could be used to say
“She's the one... just his type.” No, what you'd get would be something akin to Picasso's
less documented, post-cubist completely shit Period.
Still, what they fail to share in similarity of looks and manner they share in abundance
when it comes to my reaction. All of them instantly united by the longing they promote
in both my heart and my trousers. When I was younger I would fiercely guard the belief
that what I felt was love not lust. There were occasions when I may well have been
right. If I could tell you the colour of Her eyes before I could tell you the measure
of Her bra then it was true love indeed.
The greatest and most disastrous love of all is with my imagination. I am all too
ready to dive headlong into the nearest fantasy, anything that just for a short while
will stave off the inevitable confrontation with reality. There, in my mind's eye,
She waits, the embodiment of all my desires. Ready to be projected onto the next
pretty face, however inappropriate, that walks into my life. It doesn't matter if
I scarcely know Her, a deliberately underwritten character, I can fill in the gaps
for myself, there is no need for too much fact. But fantasy has proven a dangerous
place to linger. With so much time spent shoring up defences there that I haven't
always noticed the walls of my real world tumbling around me. If what I do discover
positively condemns the wisdom of any romantic advances on my part, even that is
no discouragement, just a greater challenge to be overcome. As an expert in stupidly
idealistic misplaced love I can survive for weeks on one smile, knowing that for
one moment She gave that gift to me, and I can subsequently interpret the intervening
days of total indifference which I endure at Her hand, as a shyness and reticence
in Her which alone prevents Her from crying out “Take me. You are my only desire.”
To my delusion, I add patience. I try to do my bit and volunteer a “Hello, how are
you?” but somehow she never perceives the deeper message in those words, the invitation
which they give to share my life and so I am forced to listen to the mundane minutiae
of Her traffic-ridden journey to work, the previous evening's TV viewing, and Her
latest fashion accessory. All the while my eyes, fixed on Her, tell of a steely resolve,
against the available evidence, to divine Her hidden depths. What to me is transformed
into Her Siren Song, in truth might be something more akin to a foghorn. But I can
imagine the whispered sweet nothings – I have to. The content of Her conversation
is disappointing yet the packaging so beautiful and inspiring – like a copy of OK!
magazine that has somehow found its way into the old Reading Room of the British
Library. In my coldly rational moments I can see Her faults, everything about us
that should say “No” and yet because I cannot make Her mine it all adds up to some
kind of wonderful. And so I listen on when all the while the only words I want to
hear that will shake me from my vigil are “Let's get a room.”
... great, those first days of Love, aren't they? When your Love is still private
to you, not yet announced. Everything becomes that much more vivid. You notice the
way your behaviour alters. All those little tell tale symptoms: the way you nonchalantly
linger when leaving the building, holding the door open just that little too long,
or push through quickly hoping to position yourself to best advantage, so that you
might walk at Her side. How intoxicating Her presence becomes, a Ready Brek glow
of sexual allure. You delight in seeing Her. In the unfolding drama of your life,
She is a beautiful extra... perhaps soon to be given a line, whose role is to enhance
your position as the central character of this plot. But as the play continues She
assumes an ever greater role, taking centre stage. Before long you are consigned
to the role of a mere bit part, grateful for any scene you might share with Her before
the curtain falls. And smitten.
I admit it. It's the yearning for the unobtainable or even the unobtained that obsesses
me. Unrequited love is the most powerful. We've all been told enough times to know
the truth of it that the grass is always greener. But somehow that doesn't quite
convey enough the geographical gulf I feel in the face of a pretty face. The patch
of grass that I inhabit seems to be a flood plain somewhere near Tewkesbury: One
sudden shower and whilst the rest of the country is bathed in sunshine, there I am
– treading water for all I'm worth and in Love again.
I'm tempted to ask: What's it all about? Know what I mean? But if Alfie couldn't
work it out, I sure as hell can't. All I know is... boy does it hurt.