Friday, 13 August 2010

The Thirteenth


It is a truly beautiful morning. It was a little foggy earlier but it seemed to clear in an instant, leaving beautiful sunshine, the faintest of breezes and a clear sky, such that even I can sit outside and write in a T-shirt.

The birds are singing as if never before, with the joy of the spring atmosphere. This is one of their busiest times of year; it is like an annual festival, and one, furthermore, in which there is good weather.

It is strange, because here, eight-hundred metres above sea level, some of the trees are yet even to bud, whereas lower in the valleys, as everywhere else, one would think it was mid-June, everything is so green. Apparently today and tomorrow are going to be the hottest days, so we must appreciate them while we can.

The mornings here will be a time to steal alone, to reflect, to wonder, to watch and describe. I wish I knew the names of all the birds and their songs. There are cows in a field in the distance, and in some of the fields, the dandelions are so pervasive as to resemble rape.

The sky is a pale blue, illuminated by the sun. But that is the colour it appears when I wear my shades, which are hardly rose-tinted. When I look above the rim of the lens the colours are much more vivid. The sky approaches a rich blue turquoise; the tulips turn from burnt orange to scarlet. Just to confuse me, Jim adds some Indian sitar music. This isn’t the France of Chopin or Berlioz, or even Boulez.

I don’t know how I feel about being here. I don’t know even if I should think. I feel that I should just relax and enjoy the clean air, and Jim’s company, and that of all the villagers and farmers. I feel that I should work, but would that not be a shame? I feel that I should write about how I feel, but I do that all the time, and that wouldn’t constitute a holiday of the mind.

The only thing that is annoying me at the moment is my runny nose. ‘Chase after it then,’ my father used to joke.

Jim and I talked about our childhoods last night. He asked me if I thought my parents love me. That is a difficult question to answer; if I put it to them they would put themselves utterly on the defensive. I should assume then that they don’t, but surely, they must? If they had an opportunity to save my life, of course they would, but they would do that for anyone. But would the notion of being in power once more over my life delay their decision for that split second during which I fall irredeemably into the abyss? My mother, particularly, would fall victim to that vindictiveness, like Lot’s wife.

I would compare my father to Lot. His heart is in the right place and I’m sure he is a wonderful man, but he is held back tragically by his wife. Hopefully he will keep his eyes on the road, so to speak, and not look back when she fails.

I am sitting with the sun shining on my left cheek, quite warmly indeed, but the breeze has picked up sufficiently as to make a cardigan necessary. The Indian sitar music is wonderfully gentle, soothing and unintrusive. I should begin purchasing ambient music such as this for my own home environment. It looks likely that I will stay in Whetstone for at least the rest of the summer, hopefully punctuated by a couple of nights in Covent Garden, but I don’t mind that. The sofa is going, I am selling all my junk and if I create a pleasing ambience such as I am experiencing right now, in my bedroom, then all will be well.

I’m not particularly a comfort and luxury person. If I find myself in the lap of luxury I somehow feel guilty, and cannot really relax or spend a great deal of time. I never feel, anyway, that I have achieved total relaxation. Perhaps that will be a good reason to take up yoga again. Even taking a hot bath, that most traditionally relaxing of pastimes, leaves me cold, literally and figuratively. It is as important, I’m sure, to know when and how to relax as it is to be organised and to work hard. I’m feeling a little hungry. What I’d give for some brioche and jam; but I’ll have a milky coffee instead, I won’t want to ruin lunch, it’s already 11am.

I always refer to it as being like a fan, that when switched off, continues for a few moments to whirr, and that when switched on again, reacts somewhat lazily before getting back to full speed, when trying to describe my reaction upon being displaced from London to Garde, and back again. For the first day or two I am still in my struggling, surviving, serious London guise; and for the first day or two back in London, I am relaxed and languid, when I really should be hitting the ground running.

I have nothing else to say for the time being – well, of course, I have a lot to say, but this isn’t the place. Later on we will have lunch and then go back into the garden to do some work, continuing the weeding and the cleaning of the flowerbeds. It is work that I like to do, small and intricate rather than heavy and taxing. The breeze has picked up quite considerably in the last few minutes, and the sitar music has finished. No matter; it will be useful when we are hot from gardening work later. The few clouds in the sky are passing, and there is little to come other than a few little scrappy slips on the horizon.


It’s raining, persistently. Today was meant to be the best day of the week, the hottest, the sunniest. I’ll be damned if I’m going out there to weed on my knees.

It’s amazing how ridiculous it is, the ideas of, first of all, gardening in the rain, and secondly, writing whilst on holiday. If this were not my profession, then I would have to write, because I would not in my normal time have the time to. However, in my normal time, I have the time to write 10,000 words if I am efficient enough, so on holiday, what does a writer do?

I shall do the washing up, la vaiselle, in a second. It’s amazing how similar the French word for ‘washing up’ is to my mother’s maiden name. The sun is out again, so there should be a rainbow, shortly.

Jim has made the house look very pretty. He has bought a huge bunch of rosemary in and put it atop the wood next to the fire, which he has let die prematurely, as the weather has turned. It may have been very hot the last couple of days, but as we are seeing, the weather can turn at any time.

The cat is completely ignoring me, possibly as I haven’t fed her the entire time I’ve been here. Now that we’ve both come indoors (Jim sounds as if he’s just sat in front of his computer upstairs) the rain sounds as if it’s done, and a certain sunny brightness is coming in through the windows and door. As I’ve been using his computer, with its French keyboard, I’m now getting slightly confused using my own. French keyboards are weird, you need to press shift for full stops and commas and numbers and everything, and it’s AZERTY instead of QWERTY, but German keyboards are even worse.

The pussy is licking her pussy. Absolutely no manners.

I had, just before lunch, been reading a little bit about Caravaggio, particularly the paintings, ‘Sick Bacchus’, ‘Boy With a Basket of Fruit’ and ‘The Cardsharps’. I don’t know what I’m going to do with the information I glean but it seems necessary. I’m making a lot of mistakes with my keyboard now, particularly with full-stops.

It has become strange that my own so-called ‘boyfriend’ actually wants to fuck me. He even did, two nights ago. It felt very strange for a couple of days, such that had we Internet access, I probably would have written about it on Facebook. He doesn’t have a particularly big dick so it was nothing for him to fuck me; it was only a bonus that we had poppers handy, although I’ve been farting like a cow ever since.

Now that we’ve both come indoors, it’s stopped raining, as could have been predicted. I can’t believe I’ve learned so quickly the French keyboard skill of shift>full-stop, when French itself proves to be so elusive. I’m quite sure that other languages will come to me before French, so perhaps I should turn my back on it in favour of German, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian, before coming back to French. It would help if my so-called boyfriend would actually speak to me in French, but he’s being terribly selfish, claiming it to be a release for him to speak English. I guess he’s not a teacher, and so I cannot expect to rely on him.

Maybe I should learn German first, and go to Vienna and Berlin. 666 words. How many more signs do I need that I have the devil’s energy? That’s three times now that I’ve landed on that number. It’s never 665 or 667, always 666. What does it mean anyway? Isn’t it just a superficial human invention? I think that this is the key for this trip, to try to spout out a thousand words a day, which is easily done. Speaking of which, I had a dream involving Leona Lewis last night, incorporating an interview, and she was very pompous, but I claimed that she was allowed to, because she was a real lady, although she looked a right chav, with her Sweater Shop sweater, cheap perfume, lank hair and Argos 9ct-gold neck-chain, with – I don’t remember quite – a bear or a love heart pendant. Gross.

I used to yearn to look like those girls, as much as I yearned to look like the boys, with their adidas hoodies and Kickers. School was magnificently shit; the only lasting, good thing to come out of it is Beverley Bennett. What a cool name she has always had, and has; I can’t imagine why she would want to ruin it with the insertion of a ‘J’.

I suppose that is the reason I want to change my own name – although, in my defence, it isn’t a change; I have merely dropped my surname in favour of the promotion of my second Christian, a very Christian, Catholic even, name – we all want to sound different, i.e. better, than we actually are. The names we have been given by our parents, indeed our slave masters in mine and Beverley’s cases, we have been called for the last twenty-seven years, and we want to get away from the mediocrity that has otherwise characterised that period. We want to be called what we want to be called; we want to move on and become something new, but it would be a terrible contrivance to commit ourselves to wholesale change. We are neither Lady GaGa (Stefani Germanotta) nor Elton John (Reginald Dwight), nor do we purport to be. PAUL JOHN and Beverley Bennett. We are what we are.


If I had a car now, I would drive myself away.
If I had a rope…

I won’t even attempt poetry, but there has to be a way of saying how I feel right now, and that I seem to feel every time I come here, within several days of being here. The fact I am leaving in two days makes my departure, and the chance to be away from him, tantalisingly close, but yet so far away. I still have to negotiate today, and we have a long social day tomorrow with four other guests, only one of whom speaks any English. I guess she’s about to become my new best friend. Or I could order for it to be cancelled altogether.

I’m out. I decided that when he called me a moron and an idiot and tried to fuck me, just because I asked him to brush his teeth and turn off the music because I wanted to go to sleep. When he once again tried to force his hand down my pants I asked him to stop. Of his own accord he went and slept in the other room. This morning, he’s behaving as if I’m the one who has done wrong. He was blind drunk, and I wasn’t going to let him fuck me, again.

I don’t know why I haven’t plucked up the courage to do so before, but I have to leave this man. He normally treats me well but now the negatives are outweighing the positives. We all have problems with our loved ones – I seem to have them more often than most – but we seem to have run-ins more often than most. The saving grace of our relationship has been his structure of living, i.e., he comes to London for ten days and goes back to France for four or five weeks. Every time I come here, whether for five days or a month, at some stage I begin to feel trapped and worry whether I will ever get home alive. I’m sure he’ll be nice to me before the day is out and my mood will change again, or I’ll simply back down and apologise for what little role I had in last night’s fallout. Of course that is exactly what he is waiting for me to do as a means of exerting his power over me. I only care because, on Monday morning, I will need a lift to the station.

I had a very strange waking dream, that there were a hundred or so of us collected in a room for a Jehovah’s Witness-style assembly, that included Beverley Bennett, some of her friends, and some other boys. During the break we went for coffee in various places. Afterwards we ended up dancing, in our shirts and dresses, in someone’s house, posing for photographs. I seemed to be terribly happy. My grandfather (dead since November 2002) then announced the results of a raffle, of which the top prize was £200,000, a relatively life-changing amount of money. He opened the envelope, and with the smile disappearing from his face, called out, ‘Paul John’. The result was met with whispering and muted applause, while I clasped my mouth with joy and the realisation that finally, my life would change for the better – I began to think of all the things I could do with the money, while everyone else in the room looked accusingly on. Finally, my grandfather approached me and said, ‘Paul, did you fix this?’ before I put him supine and said, ‘Just because I’ve come from this stupid family doesn’t mean I’ve tried to fix the result. How dare you accuse me. Fuck you! Fuck you!’ I said so as forcefully as to essentially fuck the life out of him. But he knew, and I knew, and everyone else knew, that one day I stole from my mother, and so was capable of anything. I counted my winnings. They amounted to £200.

I stole £20 from my mother. £200 is what I’d until recently been making every week out of D.K. in exchange for my dick, and has been my average weekly wage even in legitimate work, for the last several years – I’ve never been able to break out of that bracket. £200,000 – even £20,000, would change that forever, I would make sure of it. My grandfather, mostly indifferent in life, has become my moral accuser in death. The last thing he said to me while alive and well, as far as we were concerned, for he by this time must already have known he was dying, was, ‘Where is your respect?’

As far as the Jehovah’s Witness assembly is concerned, such situations are ubiquitous in my dreams, due to guilt and the idea that I am missing in action, unaccountably, and have been so for approaching ten years. Kath Tutton bent down to kiss me from a greater height than ever, and I couldn’t manage to congratulate one speaker, who performed bare chested and as sinewy as Brad Pitt in Fight Club, but with an ugly brace in his mouth, as he was inundated with fans and was turning this way and that, always eluding me.

Now that I have decided to break up with Jim I can simply put myself back on the game and see if I can make any money out of it. I doubt it; I’m getting on a bit, after all, but I must at least try. I will need D.K. to be with me for the next few weeks. I need to explore every avenue in order to make money. I need to be able to stand on my own two feet. I can’t keep on having to rely on belligerent individuals with only their own best interests at heart. I need a cigarette, and have run out of tobacco. I need to become a hustler, like Jay Z was. At least I’ve proved I can be fucked.


Stress. I can’t wait to get home, and it’s been a long time since I said that. I hate Gare du Nord at the best of times, but today, it was full of Gypsies and beggars and I was convinced I was about to be robbed. One shouldn’t have to be so concerned with other people.

I am daring for writing to lift me out of my ennui and make me feel better. I have to change everything, still, although I’m aware these things don’t happen overnight. At least I have changed my writing habits, for the better. Hopefully the rest will follow, but I find myself as penniless as ever. Jim has to go. I have to start making my own money. I have to get published. I have to be better organised. I have to take better care of myself. I am important – I can’t just give myself to everybody. I have to finish something.

I know I have a little infection in my dick, and I definitely have anal warts. These little niggles, for all I know, may be aligned with something bigger, and worse, their presence has coincided with a marked change in my relations with Jim. After a year and a half, almost, we finally had some meaningful sex – in fact, for the first few days of my stay, he was virtually chasing my ass around the house. I came in his mouth. He spat it straight back out but he won’t let me hear the end of it if I’ve given him something unsavoury.

I have to face up to everything I’ve done, everything, no matter how far back in the past, otherwise I will never be rid of this sick feeling of guilt. I love what I could be, but hate myself. I have so many complexes; how do I turn them into positive destructives? Now I’ve got my computer out, I want to go to sleep.


  1. i love this. so funny at times, like the pussy, or stealing £20 from your mother, LOL! but also so honest yet somehow organised, like looking through the shop window of your mind. how long ago did you write it?

  2. I wrote it over five days in May 2009 - the original document was over 10,000 words. So for 12 Minutes I spent that amount of time editing and cutting up, and splicing. I'm amazed that the final piece is so coherent! Thank you for your kind words!