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February 02 Issue

Helen Weston
I’m just not gay enough to be a gay person but I am so they all have to tolerate me.

What’s that God awful noise? I shouted.
It’s the new alarm clock. My partner shouted back to me.
Its seven-o-clock, are you getting up this morning?
Have you any appointments this morning?
I felt confused again, I hate that feeling, confusion, I much prefer being stoned.
I can’t think, can you give me 10 minutes

I heard the sound of the bedroom door sliding over the carpet. I went straight back to sleep. I hate being asked questions at the best of times but first thing in the morning, I just want to say with an air of confidence and authority DON’T QUESTION ME. But I never do, it’s so rude you see. And we mustn’t be rude of course, because that will never do.

I knew then that it was going to be one of those days. You know the type when everything goes wrong and most things annoy you for no reason, even the things that you've always liked and loved, treasured, shown off, had admired by friends and relatives, received an award for even. But some days, everything and I mean everything, is just plain and simple old crap. Nothing more, nothing less, just crappy old crappy crap.

I wondered into the kitchen, gormless, emotionless, and limping. I've got a bad back you know, but it doesn’t notice, only in the mornings, I’m sure. I knew my hair had gone westward, Vivian Westward. I heard much laughter, I turned and wondered towards the bathroom.

The bathroom. The room with the nasty mirror. The mirror that everybody liked, the beautiful mirror from India, the spiritual mirror, the posh mirror, the super extraordinary mirror, the mirror that everybody wanted. Oh what a pretty mirror, oh where did you buy it, oh how fucking marvellous! It was probably worshipped somewhere, some little island that only had moving mirrors on the edge of its beaches, and where they only used sand for walking on. But I, I hated that smug ageless little wooden'ish framed git of an object. Little shitty inanimate thing of no buggering value to me.

Its true I resented the thing for always making me see what it looks like to be looked at by me. What a face! How can I be so serious with people! Ouch the thoughts hurt. The pain, the pain in my brain. Think Playstation, think Playstation, think Playstation, Gran Turismo, rallying, power-sliding Ahhh, life is sweet, Ahhhh dear Sony, all is well again.
What is?
Mummy said your tea is getting cold.
After flattening my rebellious hair without the aid of the mirror, I joined the breakfast table and tried to look like I was completely aware, just like any other normal person.

What’s your favourite colour?
Do you like any other colours?
Not really.
Do you like pink?
I hate pink.
It blinds me and everything else then becomes pink, it’s a secret government weapon?
You wait in a few years it will be all over the TV, The Pink War the historians will call it!
What’s an historian?
Somebody that only eats old toast. Did you want jam or marmite?
Why do they eat old toast?
Because it’s more interesting than modern toast.
What are you having?
Is that true?
Oh yes, I met a historian once.
Were they very old?
No, only his jacket was old, but he was very interesting and clever.
Wow, marmite please.
You’ll never get bored if you ever have a conversation with a historian. Ask your history teacher at school.
I only have one teacher, Mrs Lenny, silly.
Oh! Well you better ask her then. Where’s the jam gone? Where’s the remote?
I want marmite!

Children’s TV in the mornings is such a bore, but we all stare at it, munching on toast. Come to think of it, children’s TV always bores me, it did when I was a child. My mum would shout ‘Blue Peter’s’ on and I would get so bored and there was never any empty washing up bottles in the house. And what did happen to Lesley Judd? Where the fuck did she go? Is there a little room at the BBC that keeps all the old children’s presenters locked up, to protect today’s working adults from a regression, recession? There’s a lot to be said for influence you know. Trust me I know what I’m talking about. Sticky tape its all just sticky tape, not cellotape but sticky tape because cellotape will never do.
Have you got your little lunch box?
It’s a big box. I’m nearly six you know?
I thought your arms were looking older, give your mad Auntie Helen a kiss then.
Bye, chicken head.
Bye, beautiful. Have a good day and remember to remember things.
I do, and don’t bend.
I wont, love you.
Love you.
I shut the front door, only it wouldn’t shut because the mat was in the way. I tried to pull it back from the door with my heel, but I wasn’t wearing any shoes. So I bent down and lifted the stupid thing out the way and decided just like every other morning that I would buy a new posh, proper mat.

The phone rang, I thought it sounded nice so I let it ring and I ran myself a bath. Then I got worried, what if it’s important? I dialled 1471, it wasn’t. I knew the number but couldn’t remember whose it was. I thought they will ring back or I will after my bath. I was in the bath and the phone rang, it sounded nice so I left it. I’ll do 1471 and phone back once I’m dressed I thought. After a quick splash and long inability to wash my sodding feet, I put the kettle on and the phone rang. It sounded repetitive and it annoyed me so I answered it.
Awright mate, need yer battery charger, yer busy, we can pick it up.
Its all right mate, I’ll bring it over about half ten, any good?
Yer, see yer then, then.
They hung up.

That was easy, easier than putting socks on, I thought. I made two cups of tea and popped some toast under the grill for my partner’s post school run ‘munch and slurp’. We loved that time in the morning, munching extra toast and drinking tea before it got cold. We admire each other from opposite sides of the kitchen table and discuss what we are both up to that day. If were not busy we often go back to bed for an hour. We feel guilty being in bed whilst children work hard at school but it never lasts for longer than about five minutes. We feel guilty when we get up at eleven knowing that the working world are just beginning to flag and are gagging for they’re first coffee and fag. But it never lasts for longer than about five minutes.

I found my battery charger in the garage just where I had left it, which was surprising. I’m not one for moaning if things don’t go the way that you expect. And I think I felt happy because I whistled all the way to the car, which is on the drive just in front of the garage door. Not a long way I know, but for somebody who can’t whistle it was rather impressive. I felt quite proud of myself. I got carried away of course and started to whistle in the car. I had to put the radio on but I didn’t feel deflated in fact I still felt quite happy. So I drove off with full enthusiasm for the day, then I pulled over to turn round. Minor mishap.

I made my way to Frankie and Frankie’s swanky repair shop. It’s a funny Old World the gay world. It’s a bit like the hettie world, odd expectations, rules and traditions and so on. I’ve never really felt comfortable on the gay scene. I’m light years away from their mindset. I hate high-energy music and they never talk about Emmerdale in clubs or pubs and nobody drinks bitter. Have you ever heard the saying alone in a crowd, do you know what I mean? I know loads of people, and I do socialise, but I stay away mostly. Just like to keep yer hand in do yer ha ha they say. And the music I hate to admit it but I’m sick of Gloria Gaynor and yes I have a Primal Scream CD. I’m just not gay enough to be a gay person but I am so they all have to tolerate me. After all we can’t be seen to discriminate now can we, because that will never do.
I arrived bang on time, ten thirty exactly. I pulled up around the side of the workshop by the metal bins and got out the car in my own cripped out style. Which although I do look like a pratt, it is a kind of art really, considering I cant bend much or twist. Next time you get in a car, try doing so without twisting at all or bending much. I think you will discover just how talented the disabled can be.

Just before I got to the large, battered and very blue sliding door, which is the only entrance to the workshop, I remembered the battery charger. So I went back and got it from the boot of my car, why I didn’t put it on the front seat I don’t know, it’s small enough.
I walked into the workshop, it was quiet apart from an odd humming noise and tinkering of tools. There was a familiar smell of oil, burnt rubber and engines. In the days when my spine behaved itself I could strip my bike engine down in an hour, easy. But those days are gone and now my nails are forever clean.

Frankie was sitting at the far end at her desk, staring at the telly and polishing something. As I got closer I felt a several eyes on me, watching me, but I didn’t acknowledge them. I heard some muttering and more clinking. What you watching Frankie? Silent Witness. Oh right, excellent. I felt an air of respect creep around me. The thing with Amanda Burton is that she is a sort of underground icon, a lesbian icon. She plays such a strong and educated character within a male orientated profession. Highly impressive stuff really but I don’t think that she will ever be a gay icon. The men aren’t into her you see. If they were they would all be more serious and take up pathology. It’s a good thing she isn’t I suppose, I thought. I started to feel more comfortable. Frankie finally looked up.
Thought you said half ten mate, been waiting for yer!
Sorry, I went the wrong way,
Oh never mind, I’m here now, how are you?
Got the charger then?
Yes mate. Clever little boxes aren’t they. And they’re so sweet look! Two little hungry crocodiles. Snap, snap, snap. I had the little clamps or clips whatever they are, that are attached to the end of the wires in my hand and was, well playing with them I suppose. Frankie didn’t really get the joke. Never mind, I thought.
Just put the fucking charger, on the fucking desk will yer! What the fuck are you on!
Nothing mate, I haven’t even had a smoke yet, it’s too early in the day for me.
Perhaps you could try it, for fuck’s sake!
Oh no, best not. I've tried smoking a spliff for breakfast and believe me, it’s not a good idea! Anyway you wouldn’t happen to have any tinsel or glitter hanging around the place. Ive got to make a wand. Its for the little ones party, she’s going as a fairy or princess or something.
What the fuck are you like!

Everybody seemed a bit agitated and I started to feel uncomfortable again so I thought I ought to make tracks. There was a clank of a spanner from the other Frankie I think, and a voice echoed out from under a bonnet. See Joe. Upstairs mate.
I went upstairs to find John and to be honest, scrounge a cup of tea. Did I say John, shit I meant Joe. I always fear that I will say ‘ere John gota new mota!’ We always used to before the change. Ive not put my foot in it yet but one day ‘ere John gota new mota’ is just going to come right out. I thought I might warn her but then she might be terribly offended and hurt. Maybe it’s better to keep quiet. As it is I always fuck up, straight away and say hi Joh, Joe, you all right then! When she worked at Vauxhall they always said oh! Your all right being a bit of a girl just don’t get your knackers chopped off. God gave em too yer! They never did pay much attention to her sensitive disposition. Anyway she leases the workshop out now to both Frankie’s but still lives in the flat above. It is gorgeous and quite big for a flat, the only thing that I don’t like is the iron staircase. Not that I've got anything against iron, it’s just that there is twenty-two steps to sodding climb. And down again.
Hi Joh, Joe, you all right then?
Oh yes darling, what a lovely surprise, how are you?
Oh just dandy, you know, fine, fine.
An alcoholic once told me that it stands for fucked up, insecure, neurotic and emotional!
What’s that?
Fine, darling.
Oh, how clever! Sounds about right I suppose, apart from the emotional!
We exchanged a continental kiss, on both cheeks of course, it’s so polite and such a warm greeting. Not everybody feels comfortable with it here in the UK, especially people from the continent. Let's face it reciprocation is the name of the game and us British are all a bit, well stiff I suppose, or is that a bad choice of word. Perhaps anti-social or unfriendly are better.
Have you eaten anything today darling, don’t stand sideways or we’ll lose you – ha ha.
Very funny I do weigh over seven stone now you know.
I know darling seven stone of shear power as you keep reminding me.
I just like to intimidate people, I know I can scare people!
Yes my darling, cup of tea?
Oh go on then, Ive got some chocolate in my bag do you fancy a bit.
That’s an evil word!
Chocolate! It’s so sinful, but yes, just a square to be polite.
Of course, you must, I do hate to be offended.
We chatted or Joe did really, munched on chocolate, sipped at our tea and then a very thin lesbian walked in, even thinner than me! She glanced at me and gave an acknowledging nod, but I didn’t know what for, the fact that we were both lesbians or both thin. I wasn’t too sure. Maybe it was because we were both thin lesbians, yes that must be it.
Fucking ell Joe, you nearly had a casualty down on the fore court but yer awright I managed to restrain me self! Joe looked concerned for a moment and stopped pouring more tea. Sit down Leny darling, sit down, sit down, my darling. The thinner than me lesbian looked so annoyed, I don’t think she could sit down. She plonked a spanner bag on the sofa and continued to pace about the room. If I had a pound every time some cunt said you need a big meat and potato pie luv, I would have about sixty-eight quid by now.
I nodded and tried to look very serious, which is quite easy for me. Wankers mate, don’t bother with em. I said as I opened my chrome cigarette case and offered her one of my ready-made roll ups.
Bit fucking flash ain’t it!
Got it for Xmas
Aww, right, I will then. Nice one. Cheers.

Joe got up in a worried but happy to be slightly stressed kind of way. Sort of mumsy’ish! And went whooshing into the kitchen with trails of material, hair and accessory things following behind. She whooshed back out of the kitchen looking glamorous and so elegant, with a couple of small hand painted ashtrays. Which incidentally matched exactly the colour of the mosaic tiled coffee table. She had such fabulous taste and style.
You need a camomile tea my darling, Joe said to Leny, with a quirky smile and deep inquiring look in her eyes. ERR! Yuk! Plants belong in pots and tea comes out of a box from the shops, but thanks darrrling. How about a nice cup of green tea then? I know you like it, and it’s so good for you. Joe was holding a little tea bag and waving it about enticingly. Leny went into a sulk.
I only drink it for you woman.
Oh how disappointing I thought you liked it.
I drank some for yer when Pratt-bloke upset you.
Oh I thought you liked it.
It stopped you from crying, I didn’t know what else to do.
Oh! You lied then.
It was a humanitarian act of love, and heroic vomit control.
Oh darling, I know, and I appreciate it. You are all so kind to me, my darlings. Joe reached over and kissed the thinner than me lesbian on the cheek. And she rubbed Leny’s shoulder like somebody pampering a favourite pet. I sensed the thinner than me lesbian, Leny, was slightly uncomfortable. I love yer darrrling, but right now I think I need a double mugger unless you’ve got a pint glass handy. My throats so dry my tonsils have lodged against me voice box.
She cleared her throat to cover her embarrassment over the kiss and then cleared a space on the sofa and plonked herself down with a huge confident sigh. She turned and looked at me sternly with a ‘I can’t work you out but I like you’ kind of look.
You out tonight then?
Last time I went clubbing with your lot I ended up in Belgium! And that bollock'sy club thing where Lisa got her nipple ring caught in that so called bisexuals trousers. I’m still not sure what really happened?
Shouldn’t of been prancing about on that fucking podium should he, any way he’s supposed to like women ain’t he, Pratt! Leny was starting to get annoyed again. I rather think that’s not the issue darling, do you fancy a nibble? Joe shook the biscuit tin and placed it on the table. She sat down and lit a cigarette, then leaned over and touched my knee.

How’s your back darling?
Same as normal, you know, still a pain in the arse quite literally. The thinner than me lesbian, Leny, looked at me with that ‘you don’t look like a proper lesbian’ look in her curious eyes.
Oi, you the college bird then?
Cool, yer, thought so, you look clever like.
She’ll be famous one day Joe inhaled, She writes beautiful poetry, don’t you? Joe exhaled. Oh she wrote such a beautiful poem for me. She started to stare into the mystifying smoke that had surrounded and started to encapsulate us all. You’re beautiful, I said, so your poem was beautiful. Shall I open a window?
Oh my Lord! Oh my Lord! Where’s the tissue box. Joe went all peculiar or emotional, as some people call it. She managed to resume control of herself with the aid of a few tissues a lot of flapping and waving her arms and a lot of, there! There! Now's.
You write poems then?
No not really. Just the one for Joe, apart from a few stupid ones in my head when I’m drunk, I don’t really understand proper poetry.
It's all a bit to complicated, and I can never work out what the essential parts in major works mean, but they sound nice.
Oh right mate, yer, know what yer saying.

I hate it when people ask questions about my self, or my life. Every answer potentially plunges you into an ambiguous dark and scary pit of gooey sink or swim territory. I don’t feel comfortable, I stutter and I can’t lie. My parent’s phone every Sunday and they always ask, what have I been doing but they don’t really want to know, so I always sort of don’t tell them. I've never been able to master the art of telling people what I’m doing without telling them what I’m doing. Most people can, normal lesbians manage it with style and amazing irony but me, I’m useless. I can’t be gay and raise children surely because then I would be like them. And that will never do.
Are you still doing your synchronised swimming Leny, Joe piped up rather enthusiastically.
You taking the piss!
Oh no darling would I ever! She immediately began to laugh, and cough and cry again.
Don’t laugh at me woman, I can't let the team down can I?
That’s what you always say.
They just want me body. What can I say, they love me, I’m proud. And anyway DON’T QUESTION ME!
Bollocks, I thought. How does she do that?
There was a sudden violent screeching type of repetitive horn going off in my ear. Fucking car alarms and mobiles when will I ever get any bollocking peace, I thought.
What’s that God awful noise? I asked. I felt so confused.
It’s the new alarm clock, its 7.30 am.
Here’s your tea. You don’t have to get up just yet. Did you get much sleep?

© Helen J Weston

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