Monday, June 10

‘He’s Always Looking Like He’s Got The Blues’

IT’S STRANGE, WE spent one day, three evenings and one night together over a week; we laughed many times, we had sex, she made me come so hard I broke my hips twice, we saw pieces of art hundreds of years old, we ate food and drank drink, we walked miles & miles around London, – and yet the memory I remember the most is when she told me of her love for The Shangri-Las. The name was just a hotel to me, or maybe a typo on a bottle of beer. We hadn’t eaten all evening, but had been aimlessly wandering around the V&A, a clock somewhere getting later & later, and then we got aboard the District Line and made for the City. She put her head on my shoulder. She didn’t like London water. My stomach was empty as we walked down the empty London Friday night street, hand in hand, but I wasn’t hungry. How strange to be something and not feel it! even stranger to have something and not possess it.
That site has been going on for a while. They’re working their way down the street, renovating one building after another. How many times had I passed it during my lunch-break and seen the labourers smoking outside, watching the traffic, dreaming with the winter sun on them. Now she & I, and a different street altogether. In the halls of Raphael she had been something I had never seen before. She was … they were doing works to some of the tiles in that hall; a barricade had been erected. She took her epilepsy pill around some cases filled with religious garb.
‘I don’t know, he’s always wearing shades.’
We got talking about music. She was very interested in The Shangri-Las. I’d never met anyone who liked the Shangri-Las before. I wanted to know more about them. She told me why she loved The Shangri-Las. She walked like a drunkard, though we were both sober and if anyone was drunk it was only because they’d had more of the city than they could handle. Of course, I didn’t mind that she bumped into me all the time and could feel her breath on my neck. This is how love travels down the fallopian tube. She swung on my arm and sung the lyrics in this Swedish Finnish English cocktail – ‘Well, I’ve gotta look up.’ No one had ever sung their favourite songs for me before. Our fingers were interlaced.
She was dressed in black. Why weren’t the streets busier? True, it had been raining, but it was Friday night and I half-expected the pavements to bustle. Our night out had been unplanned. I thought I wouldn’t see her. The whole thing had been a dream. Later on, of that evening, I would write – ‘I suppose I understood what people meant by “love.” ’
This is what I remember the most. She is swinging our arms and saying how silly and how wonderful the words are – ‘It’s great! and she goes – “Well, I hear he’s bad? … Hmm, he’s good bad, but he’s not evil.” ’ That is what I remember the most; that moment; when Threadneedle peels off Bishopsgate and fertilises Gracechurch – ‘ “Tell me more.” ’
She’s the last bottle of red wine.
Tell me more.
Now, when I think of her, I think of that moment. She probably doesn’t even remember it. It was a moment that could haunt me all my days. No one in my life knows anything about it. It’s only a secret playing on loop in my thoughts. I will always have that moment.
When I’m cleaning out my cafetière, I think of it. When I’m walking to Monday morning work, I think of it. When I am all-alone and without a thing, I think of it. When I put words after each other, short & sharp, I think of it. When I am counting hours one through twelve, I think of it. There is no telling when I think of it. I think of it like a firework thinks about exploding.
I’ve forgotten many things about that week – some voluntary, some forced, some drunken – but I think that moment, that ‘He’s good bad, but he’s not evil’ moment will stay with me forever; her eyes and her smile and the smiles everything gave birth to when sixties teen pop wasn’t a good-god enough soundtrack for that time of night.

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