Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Happy Leigh, Ever After

Crikey. What a wonderful weekend I’ve just had. Let me bore you with it right now.

On Friday evening I went to the Tate Britain and an evening of free events entitled Drawing on Jarman. I went with Sally. Sally. Pride of our alley. I told you I wasn’t gay. Now I rather like Derek Jarman – at least I enjoyed Caravaggio many years ago when I saw it, and Jubilee wasn’t entirely repulsive. So I thought a bunch of his short films would - at the very least - be interesting to look at.

So first up, we sauntered into a screening room called the Lightbox, where Imagining October was being shown. Billed as a ‘rarely seen experimental short film’ and ‘a dreamlike mediation on art and politics in the final years of the Cold War’, it became clear after a matter of minutes why it was rarely seen. ‘Rarely endured’ is probably nearer the mark.

The only seat in there was a spongy banquette against the back wall which we shared with two other people, invisible in the dark. We managed about ten minutes, but only because Sally allowed me to put my hand on her bare knee, and then slowly move it up over her knee, under her skirt and onto her thigh. I was watching pretentious garbage that had nothing to do with either art or politics, peppered with images of semi-naked Russian boys stroking one another and sledgehammer phallic symbolism and I felt probably as sexually excited as I ever had before in my life. Life is queer. Then we left the Lightbox and Sally said, ‘What the fuck was that all about?’ She said, ‘That man is far too gay for his own good. There was nothing whatsoever to connect with there. Where was the empathy? Where was the human emotion? What kind of reaction was that supposed to provoke? Am I just being inhuman here? Did I miss it? Do you have to be gay to understand what the point was?’

I said, ‘Why are you asking me?’

I agreed with her that it was over-indulgent garbage. But some people don’t agree. The film scores nine out of ten on IMDb, which is just ludicrous. It has had only 12 votes however, and interestingly, the rating has fallen 38% in the last week. Hold on… there. My vote is now cast. Let’s see if we can’t get a more realistic score on there. I’ll show you, Jarman. Lovely man though, don’t get me wrong. Lovely man.

So I said, ‘Let’s go and look at proper art’, and we had a wander through the galleries, gawping at the good stuff. Now I don’t know about you but art galleries always get me a little excited. In the toilet area I mean. I get terribly aroused just walking around, no matter what I’m looking at. I shared this information with Sally in front of The Lady of Shalott and do you know what the little minx did? She kissed me passionately whilst touching me on the Johnson.

John William Waterhouse would have been proud. I reckon.

Then we went to the main bar where there was more Jarman being shown to the accompaniment to some wacky Aphex Twin-like music and where the Tate make their money on free events by selling severely mediocre wine at laughably high prices. We drank a little wine, ate a tub of olives and made up stories about the other people in the bar – some of whom also had the good grace to look appalled by what was being passed off as art.

After which we hopped on a bus to Clapham. Sally lives in Clapham. We had a tajine each and a bottle of wine in a Moroccan restaurant, then we went back to hers.

Now, when I started this blog, it was always my intention to be painfully frank – genital warts and all – but, having said that, I also feel the need to exercise a certain amount of restraint where other people are concerned. Well, some of them. All of which is a roundabout way of saying that I have no intention of taking you with me into Sally’s bedroom. But – rather like a teenage boy who wears his tie deliberately loose to ensure you get an eyeful of his love bites – I wish to make it absolutely clear that I went there myself.

Oh yes.

What a self-satisfied smirking smuggle I am.

Well, sod it. It was about time.

So on Saturday afternoon we went to see Happy Go Lucky and Sally had to tolerate the distinctly unpleasant site of me weeping like a giant sore for at least fifteen minutes after the film was over. It really got me. I love Mike Leigh, but the last three films of his which I saw - Topsy Turvy, Vera Drake and Career Girls - I didn’t particularly enjoy, and for at least the first ten minutes of Happy Go Lucky I felt I was in for another disappointment.

Poppy was really irritating me. Her relentless jollity and inability to let a single remark pass without attempting to make some kind of joke out of it really made me want something hideous to happen to her. I found myself praying for something dark, for Johnny from Naked to wander in and destroy her with some superbleak cynicism. But then when the darkness did wander in, in the form of Scott, driving instructor and joyless time bomb of neuroses and bigotry, I immediately found myself rooting for Poppy and willing her to turn him round and bring some of her happy go lucky into his life. And from that moment on, I fell in love with the film.

My favourite scene was the one in which Poppy spends a few minutes with a wasted, stammering homeless guy on a bit of derelict wasteland. Sally didn’t see but there were tears streaming down my cheeks throughout this scene. It was just such a perfect and beautifully touching example of human empathy; one human being reaching out and making an effort to touch another, to let someone know that they’re not alone. Which is kind of what Mike Leigh specialises in, I think.

On Sunday I got on with some work which has come up and I ran again. Following on from Frank’s push last week, I ran twice the distance I used to. It hurt, but I managed it. In the bath afterwards, I came to an important decision. Another one! This one is a hefty decision that I know I’m going to regret sharing with you. I also know that I have to share it with you, or I probably won’t get round to it. My decision is this: I’m going to run the London Marathon next year.


So there.

Oh, and to round things off, I saw Sally again yesterday and we sat in the sun all day laughing and frolicking and me feeling rather like Caligula at a gymkhana.

You know, I don’t believe I have ever been this happy in my entire life. And it’s only May!

Look at the sun!


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Anonymous said...

big BIG huzzah - very chuffed for you - Sally is obviously a lady of good taste & discernment!

dan said...

Bête 1 : World 0

Congrats, the sunny summer days are here!

Anonymous said...

That's fantastic! I'm so pleased for you!

Carolina said...

Fucking brilliant on all accounts. Thrilled for you!!! Blog the marathon training religiously, it will keep you on track and you will finish it in a very respectable time.

Anonymous said...

CONGRATS!!!! It sounds like a lovely weekend with your special lady friend.

Good luck with the marathon training. You should get to work on that straight away.

It seems like you have a golden sun up in the sky... and I hope it stays there.

Anonymous said...

Yay for sunshine!
Yay for shagging!
Yay for lovely Sally!

You are in grave danger of showing up those of us who also decided to turn ourselves around this year ;o)

Joanna Cake said...

It's very bad for you to look directly at the sun. You can get permanent damage very easily.

But, on a lighter note, sounds like a fun weekend :)

Anonymous said...

smiles on all accounts, and beautiful writing to boot

Artful Kisser said...

What a wonderful weekend. I knew she wanted to see your "lovely eyes" up close and personal. And how great she checked out how your mighty silver bugle hung in front of the Lady of Shalott...

Anonymous said...

SO pleased for you - and touched both by your writing and, specifically, your account of such a lovely and triumphant weekend. After your equally well-written and evocative accounts of your all-too-few previous sexual encounters, this is truly good news. Sally sounds fab. Enjoy, enjoy - it's a lovely story.

Anonymous said...

Huzzah! Go Sally, and go you good thing.

Roszs said...

Yay yay and thrice yay! This is fantastic news, sir.

(Apart from the London Marathon bit, that's obviously just sex-induced insania.)

La Bête said...

Everybody!! Waves and beams! Thank you all so very much for your encouragement. It’s wicked.

Carolina and Selena, I’ve decided I’m going to start the marathon training in earnest on June 1st, when hopefully I’ll have moved into a new place. Seems right. And yeah, it’ll give me something to blog about for sure. Oh, you’ve reminded me of my crow! Thanks.

Welcome, Lindy, and thank you so much. You’re very lovely.

Hurray for Peter Andre!

Anonymous said...

Hello Bête...Yes yes yes yes, but - you can't possibly really mean that about Poppy and the tramp, can you?!?

La Bête said...

What can you mean? Of course I mean it. What are you saying?

Anonymous said...

Ach, you should go see what I wrote. But maybe don't. I hate to spoil anyone's happy mood. On the other hand I did just fill in your questionnaire!

Anonymous said...

I think it's all lies.

Anonymous said...

"My decision is this: I’m going to run the London Marathon next year."


I am so regretting only having started blogging on 18 May and having found your blog late in the day. You are ahead of me weight loss wise, fitness wise and FLM ambition wise!

Dang you!

You may have seen on my blog "Reasons Why I Want to Lose Weight" that I mentioned my FLM ambition, but as a goal for 2010, not 2009.

I think if I aimed for 2009 I would be in danger of injury (I have suffered from both plantar fasciitis and shin splints before when attempting to "run before I can walk" carrying too much weight).

I've tried to set more realistic targets for myself this time, with the aim of reducing my bulk this year from 22 stone down to say, approx 14 or 15 stone by April/May 2009 which for me is the kind of weight at which I think it would be "safe" to start jogging.**

** Whereas if I was aiming for FLM 2009 I would need to start jogging this year, within a few months, and my weight would still be 20 stone even if I lose 2 stone by early August. (And when I previously developed shinsplints and plantar fasciitis my weight was around 17 - 18 stone.)

I know that for different people, with different builds, they can carry the weight better. (I think I recall reading at the beginning of your blog that you are about 6 foot tall, so for a 6 ft tall man to be carrying 20 st, or even now, your slimmer, reduced 16 stone, is not as difficult for your frame as it is for my petite 5'6" female frame to struggle with its current 22 stone baggage.)

Anyway, this probably all just sounds like excuses on my part why I'm not pushing myself to enter the 2009 London Marathon, but I'm just trying to be realistic about my likely rate of weight loss, and ability of my already abused spine to carry a certain amount of weight.

Best wishes to you, though, I am so impressed you have set yourself the Marathon goal !!!