celebrating and creating our own LGBTQ+ history in honour of Sheila McWattie

Archive for February, 2016

day twenty nine

 

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone

Joni Mitchell. Big Yellow Taxi

I had it all. Long term partner, two step children, a grandchild at whose birth I had been present.

No mortgage, sufficient income, reasonable health. Yes, I had it all.

And yet what had started out as exciting, loving, tender, had, over the many years together, slowly transmogrified into an unrecognisable stale, apathetic, antagonistic relationship.

Unable to accept that we had grown apart, unwilling to admit failure, unwilling to agree that it hadn’t lasted, we carried on with the farce, not recognising it for what it was. We were comfortable, we knew our lives well, we could live like this. So many people do, it wasn’t so bad, some of it was still good.

But one day enough was enough. I gave it up. I couldn’t live the lie any longer.

I began to realise what I had lost.

My old friends had been slowly pushed out by jealous tantrums, it was easier not to see them so I no longer had my old mates. My new friends were mainly my ex’s friends and chose sides – not mine!

My enjoyment of music had been eroded by the put downs over the years of my awful taste in music and my rubbish singing voice.

My self esteem was on the floor, after listening for so long to what a worthless, horrible person I was.

Oh my goddess, why did I stay all those years? I lost myself and barely realised it. A few years on and I’m back in touch with many of my old mates, I love my music and sing along whenever I want to. I’m so glad I rediscovered me. It’s worth the loss. I’ve gained so much more.

 

Anonymous, the world

day twenty eight

 

day twenty seven

Air to spare

I’m up in the sky high above the world as we know it and I’m coming to bury you brother.

Only nine hours ago she padded the beach hut floor towards me, every creak weighing heavy with the news of you.

Half drunk half sleep wholly partied out with friends and now. Now I’m sucked right back to the core of us and all that we came from.Raw on raw.

The kindness of her look the warmth of her hand on my back held my silent screaming denial. She folded me in to a loving hug as a cold white sliver of morning pierced my heart. A wailing, injured animal bellowed from my pit as friends concerned spluttered and spilled from their huts.

Suspended within hollow headphones and knees locked in economy class I can feel the regular breath of a stranger snoring beside me.

I am drifting through air, so much air, air to spare, and I try, try really hard to will life in to you in your few final moments.

When your world exploded inside your head did you know this was dying?  Did you see red? Did you feel you could fight it? Did you think of me and that we’d missed our chance? Did your thoughts come flooding? Did you feel yourself drowning? Or were you swimming in a sea of bloody confusion?

I’m up in the sky high above the world as we know it and I’m coming to bury you brother.

 

Fiona Thomson, Margate

day twenty six

Swagger

From a window I watched her swagger back towards our house from the avenue’s communal bottle bank. Not a ‘Jack-the-lad’ kind of gait, but a ‘content-with-the-world’ amble. Hands in trouser pockets, shoulders low and light, lengthened neck on a head held high.

The first time she came over to mine. I watched her through a window then too. She was in a kerfuffle. Not quite sure of where I lived, a little bit lost maybe, anxious certainly and her body told the story. Her black shirt tucked into jeans a little un-tucked in places. Body, picture frame square and sharp elbowed. Trying to manage the scruffy dog on a lead and a bottle in hand whilst working out which was my flat. I went to the door. Made it easy for her. She beamed when she saw me. I beamed right back.

She laughed when she saw the pocket I had made for the TV remote controls stitched to the sofa, made out of a pair of M & S knickers. The dog made itself at home. We cracked open the bottle. We carried right on laughing.

Over time the awkward edges of not knowing are replaced by the soft roundedness of intimate knowledge. She still teases me about the pant-pocket. Neither of us can tuck our shirt in these days, but that’s OK.

I watch her swagger and I feel a rush of love for her.

 

Lel Meleyal, Brighton.

For Cath

day twenty five

 

We position ourselves well when we meet

I walk in or she walks in

Theres nothing casual about it

Its been a long time – it always is

Theres been grave danger and more submergence

And what about all those drowning at sea

Every day..

Then we find our strange bit of happiness

Outside of everything we know

I’Il never work her out

Yet maybe never give up on

Love her for her freedom

Potential wisdom and ecstasy

Even when she doesnt bring them

I know they’re there.

 

 

 

Ali Cocks, Aberyswyth

day twenty four

 

I feel you near, I feel you far, I feel you all around this house, I desire your presence but appreciate your absence, I want you near but push you far, we make life together but live lives apart. We spend time together, the clock ticks, the wind howls, the spaces echo our solitude, our separateness and then we share a moment, a meal, a sense of humour…..a chance encounter, one of many in a never ending scenario of coupledom.

 

 

Margaret Maggie Honey, Whitstable

day twenty three

 

A feeling.

Knocking at my chest from the inside.

But there is nowhere to go or escape.

There is no vessel to pour you into.

I cannot pickle you and put you on a shelf.

You do not go away even when I beg.

You wake me up knocking from the inside.

‘Wake up’ – you say.

To an empty room and an empty world.

How could a tender feeling bruise?

It claws sometimes.

Trying to escape.

But I have nowhere to put you.

You live inside.

We are both prisoners.

Inside out and outside in.

Locked in agony.

Cruel in its tenderness.

How can love be a feeling?

 

 

Anonymous, Kent

day twenty two

 

Time is fleeting running so fast.

A wealth of life experience building to the last.

Where did it go you ask as days race by

Life love living in the here and now

We are present, it’s our time,

Act Now, it’s Now!

 

 

Hilary Cooke, Medway

day twenty one

 

There’s a lady

Clattering up and down the carriage with a linen bag with cups and saucers in. She keeps moving about the train and clatter they go. In the finance of the carriage she tinkles and clatters. It’s as if she can’t hide the sound, that she knows people will think she stole them from a pricey hotel at lunch time. She wants to use them for some sort of fruit or herbal tea on a daily basis. Just stop clattering them. Please.

 

 

Adam, Kent

 

day twenty

The First One

So there we were, as a gay couple, now absorbed into the social life of the apartment block and invited, by our lovely neighbours, for drinks with the government Minister for the Arts and his charming wife.

With gin and tonic in hand we were introduced to her and about to indulge in the usual small talk one expects to have on these sort of occasions when out she comes with “So tell me Roger, how did you two meet?”

Our hostess, standing just a few feet away descended on us like a hawk and said “Well that’s a long story isn’t it, Roger” and promptly steered the lady away.

Well actually it wasn’t a long story at all, though it wasn’t exactly Barbara Cartland stuff either, for in truth we met in a public toilet! He was already in there, and I followed him in. It was lust at first sight; the meeting of our eyes being actually the second stage. Yet where else could we have met in 1969, life was different then. Grindr didnt exist in those days, even if it been spelled correctly. We often thought later that a blue plaque should have been erected on the wall of that toilet in honour of our love, but it wasn’t, and so we had to be content with naming our weekend house ‘Pinner Green Cottage’. “How quaint!” said our straight friends. “How hilarious!” said the others, in the know.

Thus began almost three decades of Valentines cards and the development of a relationship which carried with it most of what you would expect to find in any one, gay or straight; and, of course, there was one time the  ‘conversation with the flying plates’ too.

The happiness didn’t last, of course. Nothing is forever. There had to be an end and the end began with the development of his Alzheimers. He forgot so many things, even the ability to speak out loud, but after 8 years of decline he still remembered me, and kissed me. He could still mouth the words of the song ‘You are my sunshine, my only sunshine’ and on one day in March, when he came into the house, I kissed him and said “I don’t want to lose you yet” but only a few days after he got lost and that really was the end.

The Second One

I realised that, in spite of the pain, I was still in love with love and went in search of it, though this time public toilets were obviously not the best answer; in any case they were closing them down. No, my world was now more sophisticated and I decided to advertise in the gay press. To my amazement I had 20 replies some of which turned out to be mighty strange and some of them containing just a pack of lies about the sender. I quickly learned that telling the truth was the surest start for any successful relationship. Additionally, like the Pinner Green experience, there remained that element of risk. All relationships carry that burden.

One of my contacts lived refreshingly close to my town and we eventually decided to meet. This time he invited me to his house for dinner. I had read of the most dreadful things happening to gay men in such situations and I was scared. I made sure that someone close to me, knew what I was doing and off I set. Later on we recounted to friends how that evening worked out. It seemed that he was as anxious as me, and had left a letter upstairs giving details about me, just in case I turned out to be the mad axe murderer of Margate.

Thus began 7 years of our growing together. There were holidays spent together; the happy times when we shared our stories with others, as couples do; the times of being there for each other, when the chips were down; and finally, tragically, the seeing through to death and our saying farewell to each other, as most couples are likely to have to.

 

The Third One

I had been so in love twice now and I told myself that this had got to be the end of ‘that sort of thing’. Love brought just too much pain; best concentrate on cultivating self love instead, which seemed to be less risky and less time consuming too. Travel, culture, volunteering all filled the gap and there was also be the possibility of the occasional ‘fling’. Doing all that was surely quite enough for one life. Yet, to be honest, I knew, deep down, that, even though I was filling in time and achieving an element of happiness, I was not experiencing the real purpose of life, which, for me could only be discovered in loving and being loved. So off I set, once more, to find Mr. Right (what an idiot, eh?).

The internet was now my resource and a new world of discovery opened up. What did I discover? Firstly that so many of my contacts seemed to be seeking a carbon copy of themselves and were surprised at their consequent lack of success. That some had set ludicrous standards from others and that they were certain to be disappointed. I joked with all my partners that their trouble was that they weren’t as perfect as me, but some guys clearly meant it. Then I realised just how out of the closet I had actually become and that no relationship, however exciting, was going to force me back in. I remember telling one perspective lover that I felt like Archbishop Cranmer’s wife, who had to be hidden in a cupboard, when priests, like her husband, were forbidden to marry. Yes, I did also discover some who smelled money, and would have put up with anything if a pound or two was on offer. And then there were those who declared that age would be no problem for them, and then discovered that, actually, it was – you can’t have a partner who can remember the Coronation, can you? Finally, and perhaps most significantly there were those who would only pursue a relationship so long as it didn’t involve any possibility of making seriously deep changes in their own circumstances.

And then HE came along! I fancied him, the first time we met. He was totally unlike me. His experiences were not the same as mine. He hadn’t been to university. He didn’t have money. He didn’t have many interests the same as me. In fact we didn’t have much in common at all – mind you we can both snore for England!!! Yet we bonded. We discovered something about relationships, namely that they don’t magically just work, you have to work at them to be successful, and that is exactly what we have done. The end result is love which, has not been the immature variety of the cheap magazines, but is as St. Exupery puts it ‘love does not consist in gazing at each other – but in looking outward together in the same direction’.

So what is this love like? It is the discovery or the re-discovery that you are not two individuals together but that there are two of you who have become one. It is the action of two people making up for the vulnerability and fallibility of the other. It is two people sharing the same burdens. It is the joining of two separate remembrances into a new joint one. It is the creation of a united approach to other people and other things. It is the bestowing of freedom on the other so that the relationship is not confining but liberating. It is the rejoicing in the exploits, experiences and happiness of the other. It is the ability to smile at yourself and accept how ludicrous your responses can be. It is that feeling of safety as you mould yourself into each other’s arms. It is the joint fundamental realisation that nothing is forever, and that nothing is more important than the present.

I never thought that I would find that love again, but I did and I love you for it Nigel.

 

 

Roger Newman, Thanet