Tricked By The Slyest Hobbo In the Northwest...
It is best to relax and prepare for such a big important night. It is degree show day. Everything I have done in the last three years has been building to this. To tonight. To the biggest night of my life so far. But now, it is two, I am hungry, I am distracted. My mind is disturbed and getting the better of me. I am finding it difficult to relax, everything has me on edge. I sit alone in Oklahoma Café. Traditional lemonade and a book. I can’t read. I am too distracted so I write onto the back of old receipts found at the bottom of my bag, (I need a new pad.) Here’s the jist:
“Would you rather.... regret having done something or regret never doing it.” Highly unoriginal and perhaps an obvious answer, but in fact sometimes the answer is not as clear as you would like. (You could say as cloudy as the lemonade I was drinking if you are into similes, but I’m not really that into similes.) The element of personality that restrains the you you would like to be. So the question becomes necessary if not a little dull. I end up rephrasing it:
“Would you rather... live one moment then die for an eternity or fantasize about living that moment and remain in a constant state of mere contentment, what if forever buried into your mind.” And right now I am unsure which is best, and I ponder over a jacket potato filled with cheese and beans. It feels like desire is gently and slowly brushing past my arm looking into my eyes and grinning at me suggestively. If I do not have the courage to grab opportunity before it passes then how often will that moment replay behind my eyelids? How long will it take for the regret to gnaw deep into my bones. Live or die. Fight or fly. Confront or starve. Every element of my life is filled with uncertainty and I am letting it disturb me. I need distracting from all this distraction. It is degree show night after all. I finish my potato and pick up my book, it is best to remain distracted. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? My mind drifts quickly as I make a note to myself... almost out of books, almost out of money. My options here are to either do a book swap with friends, hassle other people to donate books to me or stop saving up those goddamn points on my Waterstones card. I could probably get two free books with those points. My mind continues to wonder, I can’t focus. I consider leaving. A tramp approaches the table. I smell him before I see him. He is slightly overweight and eastern european. I am at in the remotest corner of the café half hidden behind a column. Out of sight, out of mind. He smiles and dumps a screwed up issue of the big issue onto the table. What kind of idiot does he take me for. I know he is not one of those reputable official big issue sellers. No. I have been had by one of these fuckers a few years ago and it won’t happen again. (Me and Andrew, alone outside the Oyster Bar, engaged in a kiss, or apparently not engaged as the “Big Issue Seller” felt it appropriate to interrupt us with a tap on the shoulder. “No,” “Oh pleeeeease, two quid,” the cover said one. Eventually we give him the money to make him go away. He asks for the magazine back to sell onto someone else. Erm what?) The Big Issue is laying on the table. He points at it a few times and repeats it’s name. No. It is best to remain firm and assertive in such situations. But he didn’t leave. He was there for what felt like ten minutes but was more likely two. I try to remain calm and unflustered. He will go. Just wait. Finally an opportunity rises. He offers me his hand and a smug shit eating grin. The smell of this guy is intensely heated, four weeks worth of with no ventilation, trash. I decide that it is my best option, he will go if I shake his hand and I can wash the garbage smell off afterwards. I shake it. Then he takes my hand to his lips and lays a big, sleazy and grotesque wet one right there. Smug shit eating grin and my hand is withdrawn with rapid velocity. He then pats my head, picks up his big issue and leaves. And that was that. I knew straight away. I have had my hand kissed on many occasions by strange men, (weirdly enough this phenomena was at its most frequent when I worked at the Odeon, and mostly by scallys) but this was different. Far less flattering. And I knew. My distraction and and disturbance turned into visible distress and despondence. And straight away I knew. I had been cursed! This was always going to happen. Bad karma. The Degree Show. The desire. It was all irrelevant now. I had been cursed and my life is to deteriorate starting from now. I can see myself grabbing at the seams. The last three years and now a curse. Bloody brilliant. My hands are to my face, tapping and pinching at that place on the bridge of my nose, the place I always touch when distressed. Then the regret I was contemplating earlier on filled me. A curse. Why me, now, today? I am plainly agitated by the whole event. I begin to wonder if anyone saw what had just happened. Groups of people sat around, laughing, chatting, oblivious. I inhale. Calm down. It is over now anyway. Whatever happens, happens. So is life. I look to my phone for the time, I wish to be home by three thirty. Where is my phone anyway? It was in my pocket, but my trousers are tight. I cannot sit with my phone in the pocket of these really tight trousers, I would have took it out and placed it on the... table. Mother Fucker. Then I knew. I knew instantly. It was not a gypsy curse, it was daylight robbery! I was tricked by the slyest tramp in Manchester. My phone had been on the table beneath the Big Issue.
“Did you see him? Did you see him?” I ask the employees. No one had. It was all my imagination. My memory playing a nasty trick. I’m just being judgmental. No. It all happened. My phone is missing, that is the proof that it did in fact happen. My new phone is too fancy.
I bet the bastard gets more phone calls than me anyway.
(Post degree show note: Libby had her phone nicked by the same tramp:
Libby: “I’ve lost my phone, I think it has been stolen.”
Me (As a joke): “You didn’t bump into any non-english speaking tramps trying to sell you an outdated Big Issue by any chance.”
Libby: “Erm Yeh I did actually. He’s took it hasn’t he?”
Me: “Erm, shit, yeh. Fuckers got mine too!”)
Last Night of Magic... (I Love You Too World!)
Less than an hour to shower, dress and leave. Screw it. The worst has happened. I am pretty sure the worst has happened. I have a shower and wash the tramp off my hand, the water was cold. Typical. What more? I was shaking when I arrived at the degree show. I didn’t stop trembling until my second wine or maybe it was when my mum arrived and gave me a reassuring hug and a sympathy smile.
Regret. Down every path there are new choices to make. New directions to take. Down every path a new regret is forged and an alternative life is neglected. That day I regretted the decision I made to eat alone. But I did. As a result a whole new path for the evening was created and from a multitude of options, possibility and alternative regrets. All these choices entangle, intersect and continue to grow. If life was to be drawn out the illustrator would never stop. If it was a piece of art it would be progressive. If it could be replicated by another life form it would be a tree. I would be found at the tip of one of its branches. The tip is in a constant state of adaption. All other branches being alternative lives I could be living, the seeds that fall from them being all the other lives I touch or could have touched. Or maybe I am an animal that starts at the bottom of the tree taking the many different branches as opportunities to reach the trees peak. Right now, I am at the branch containing the degree show. Desire is not in short supply tonight. It is everywhere. Lust is in the eyes and the mouth of every person I see. Desire is a strange one. Rules do not apply. Morals are set aside. (the limerent). Sexuality, age, style, single, married, race, wealth, religion, status. Nothing is sacred. You do not choose desire, it chooses you. It is nature. (And so I'm finding it hard not to look.) It is all well and good being happy, contented, the luckiest bastard on the planet. When the heavy chin of desire rests upon your shoulder, it is difficult to shrug off. You will never feel so insignificant, so unlucky, so forsaken, so doomed, unless you embrace it. Unless you take it. Who here would be desiring me? I know at least one, he is beside me. Maybe two. There is the possibility of a third. I feel confident tonight. I feel lucky tonight. The worst has happened. Now am surrounded by the people I love so dearly. They are everywhere. The heat is just bearable, it’s fuel is lust. Lust here is as potent as people. Lust for everything, education, love, friendship, careers, him, her, alcohol, living, lust for life. We are all hungry for something. If not a person then a way of living, a style, anything. No one is escaping this.
Introducing parents to tutors is like parents evening only with out that anxious dread felt in the pit of the stomach. In its place is warmth. They speak about me encouragingly. It is difficult to comprehend, but it is happening so I accept it. Tonight I am a none stop tour guide. I am the story of the slyest tramp in Manchester:
“I had my phone robbed by a tramp today!”
“What did he attack you?”
“No the bastard tricked me!”
“Oh, so do you not watch ‘The Real Hustle’?”
Evidently not, screw you.
The family of the 21st century has nothing to do with blood. It is all about acceptance, friendship, motivation, love, desire and lust. I have found a home. It is the people around me tonight. We continue our evening. The most important people to me in the world at that moment, friends, tutors, (actually a few of those people were missing...Lucy was looking after pregnant goat and preforming some kind of pagan sounding ceremony involving a feather hat for a dead chicken. Mack and John, who knows what happened to them...) All at Sandbar and it feels like home. Outside there is a car park, a DJ and a BBQ. The inevitable happens. Party in the car park. We give up on the overcrowded bar as our source of booze and resort to the off license across the street. We dance. We cheer. We reveal our bear bums. We play big face little face. We develop big body little body. We conga with the tramps (none of them had seen my phone). We take Sue and Hitch onto Deaf institute. We dance some more. We hug. We kiss. We love. We take group photos. We desire. We lust. We are ready to take on the world.
The greatest night that ever happened in the history of the world.
And six days later I get that first I was after! Now I have nothing left to prove to anyone. We return to Sandbar. And that is the full stop to the course.
(Almost) A Fathers Worst Nightmare...
We continue celebrations all week up until that final tuesday, doom day. The day we all leave each other. But celebrations come first. It is now exactly a week since the tramp tricked me out of my phone, and one day after I received first class honors in Design and Art Direction. We choose to celebrate in Fallowfield (the original and best) Trof. It is Hat Club. (A spin off from Hot club. Ben/Max (DJs) are also developing Hit Club, Hip Club, Hop Club, and Hack Club) I start walking down. It takes me about ten minutes. I live the furthest out of Fallowfield so have a tendency to either walk alone or pick people up along the way. I call Lucy Vann. She is not ready so I walk towards Brailsford road to meet her. She lives about five minutes walk away. I pass a boy walking in the opposite direction. He is Asian, shaved head, looks about 16-18, wearing a white t-shirt, he looks at me strange, I assume it is because I am playing with my new phone, trying to choose some music to listen to. Stooges. Perfect. I am in the mood for loud music and alcohol as I had been melancholy all day. No more uni, soon to say bye to friends, and I am not at glastonbury. This is indeed a sad time. It is 10 o clock. It is still light. 1969 is playing quite loudly, but only I can hear it. I cross the Kingsway road and head through the underpass that links Kingsway to Brailsford. I pass two people. One man is walking his dog another rides past me in the opposite direction on a bike. I emerge on Brailsford. The top end is pretty deserted, there its the back of a car garage to the right and some kind of strange water maintenance point to the left. A bit of unused wasteland and then houses. “Another year for me and you, another year with nothing to do...” Cue a disjointed, unnerving and occasionally out of key guitar solo. At which point I feel a squeeze at my ass. But a little bit lower and more in between the legs. (I know.) First thought - that has to be someone I know and they have misjudged the positioning of their hand slightly. I look behind me quickly. Asian, shaved head, looks about 16-18, wearing a white t-shirt, he looks at me strange. He has turned around. He has been following me. Shit. I want to punch him. My fist is clenched I think about punching him, but I don’t. What if that was to provoke something worse. I am still by that bit of waste land. I quicken my pace. Matt and Simon live less than thirty seconds away from where I am standing, I will speed walk to their house. Hell I will run. No walk, show that he isn’t intimidating you. But he is. I speed up. He is still following me. What is going to happen. What does he want? My phone? Rape? Oh Christ, I can’t even remember which one is Matt’s house. But I am close enough now. I think his door is red. Or is it brown. Or browny red. Is it that one? Shit. Stooges grow more chaotic. (“1969 Baaaay-by”.) I keep subtly glancing behind me. He is still following. Now he is starting to run at me, I break into a little run. At least I am now close enough to Matt’s that if I shout for him and Simon they will come out. They will save me. Nothing too bad will happen. Should I just knock on a random door... Then I feel a sharp pain to my ass. He hits my right cheek with full strength. I then automatically turn to him and scream “FUCK OFF”. And he did. He turned and ran. The whole thing lasts less than a minute. I quickly walk to Lucy’s house and hold back tears until I get there. I had never felt more vulnerable as a woman. I lose faith in mankind. I run through everything that had happened in my mind. I realise that it had all happened because of a small decision I had made as I left the house. I had two options to get to Brailsford. Turn left or right. If I had turned right I would have gone the slightly quicker but more dangerous looking route, down a long alley. An alley that so many of my friends tell me not to walk down. That night I didn’t, I turned left. The safer route. Past a couple of take outs and down a main road. If I had turned right, down the alley, I would never of crossed that boys path. He would never have seen me to follow me. I would have made an eventless journey to Lucy’s. That day I regretted not turning right. I usually always turn right. But I was lucky I guess. Something far worse could have happened. I have no anxieties about the event. It was pretty shocking though. I think that kid was a little messed up about something.
As for me and the World... We are on speaking terms again!
Don't forget to google me...