Monday, May 30, 2005

Left On My Own

Russ left today for Ibiza. He packed his rubber gear and I expect he will return full of stories of highlife, hot sessions in backrooms and clubbing into the early hours. The Bank Holiday drive to Stanstead not half as awful as expected but the empty flat was quite a shock to return to and I know I will struggle for the next eight days to be constructive and creative without Russ around to keep me keen!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

London Queer and Bookish

Was in London today to meet with ‘A’ and make monthly trip to the sauna. Picnic lunch under the London Eye in bright sunshine but while a small gale whipped over the grass. Two lads were doing back flip somersaults off a seven foot wall which was terrifying to watch and we both felt that it was only a matter of time before one landed on his head but every time they landed a wedge of hard white skin and muscle like armour plating flashed between t-shirts and trackies. One of those scenes you want to look away from but becomes magnetic to the eyes.

Had a pleasant enough time in the sauna. A short skinhead in his mid 20s. A guy of about thirty who looked more appealing through the glory hole in the cubicle when he said, ‘I was supposed to meet you here’ than he did in normal light; my lacking any knowledge of this didn’t seem to matter to him. By accident almost, an Asian guy in his early twenties, lying provocatively on his front in a ‘rest room’, pawing his backside every time I passed his door, he was enthusiastic to an almost overwhelming degree – but fun and friendly.

For a while after I left ‘A’ at Liverpool Street spent a desultory time padding up and down Charing Cross Road. Bookshop after bookshop displaying books I would love to have on my shelves and couldn’t afford. But it was late and most, especially the specialists in Cecil Court were closing or closed – even Murder One, which has a good second hand science-fiction section was clad in builder’s boards and looked like it was either closed for refurbishment or closed down. The cute boys at CX79 and Ku Bar were of course oblivious to this and responded only by spreading their daft attempt at cafĂ© culture onto a newly available section of pavement next to the hoardings.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Derek Jarman

The Turkish hairdresser I liked to go to in the Albert Road – when I’m not simply shaving my head bare at home, has closed and been replaced by one which charges £20 for a wet cut.

Have been reading Derek Jarman’s last journal, ‘Smiling in Slow Motion’ (Random House Century, 2000). He’s so well known for his queer films and queer activism that no one really appreciates what a great diarist he was. The journals are always billed as AIDS diaries but they’re not. For someone who was accused relentlessly of inserting polemic into his films, his books are beautifully written. Some entries are no more than a list of the names of the flowers that have come up in his famous Dungeness garden recently: this is almost poetry in its own right. He writes incidents simply, without much explanation and lets them speak for themselves. He tells brief stories. Some are sweet like the elderly woman who travelled from Canterbury to knock on his door and ask him to sign a copy of Modern Nature. These are set against another single sentence stories such as friend of a friend, in the last stages of AIDS and dying goes to his local emergency unit. They examine him and send him home with indigestion tablets. ‘Modern Nature’ and ‘Chroma’ (an extended meditation on the history, significance and effect of colours) are some of the most spiritual writing I have ever read and they come from the pen of a man implacably opposed to organised religion.
A good concise article about Jarman:
A Bibliography of Gay/Queer Cinema at Berkeley including much
by and about Jarman:
http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/GayBib.html
A Filmography, Article and bibliography at The Knitting
Circle:
http://myweb.lsbu.ac.uk/~stafflag/derekjarman.html

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Dorothy L. Sayers

Sold a copy of a Dorothy L Sayers book today that I had bought in XXX Bookshop in Chichester for £2.50. They must have missed the signed letter from her glued onto the front free endpaper and the contemporary Radio Times article laid-in. It went for over £50…

Beautiful Evening

Went for a walk this evening in the long avenue that marches for nearly half a mile towards Stanstead House. It was the first evening of warm weather this year, lovely to feel the warmth of a low sun at six in the evening. When we reached the end of the avenue and looked back the violently straight lines of woodland on either side were vivid green close by and then faded into darker, greyer mistier greens as the avenue’s perspective closed. Just like in a good watercolour. Didn’t seem right to go straight home so we took a slow drive through country lanes, weaving in and out of Hampshire and West Sussex.

Stopped in Petersfield where there is a great bookshop which has an open courtyard open 24 hrs. I buy lots of books here for 50p each, sometimes coming up in the early hours of the morning when I can’t sleep. Bought a battered old copy of ‘The Life of Jesus of Nazareth – 80 Pictures by William Hole R.S.A’. (Fine Art Society and Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1904) Normally wouldn’t even look at a book like this but is was old and unloved, falling apart in fact. The pictures are bright and sentimental illustrations of scenes from the Gospels. I will break this up and see how they sell as a job lot perhaps.

On the way home down the A3, the forests covering the Queen Elizabeth Country Park and Butser Hill were steaming in the twilight. Huge plumes of mist rising into the sky made it look like a set for Lord of the Rings
 
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