FOR “PRIDE STORY” WRITING GROUP.”STEPS TO FREEDOM:PAUL’S (GAY) START IN LIFE”.REFLECTIONS. BY STEVEN BENSON.

Paul, in memory, re-entered and re-claimed his first flat(since coming out as gay ); in his act of rememberance, he walked around the land of yesteryear,but also(in vertical time) the demesne of today, as his memory joined the past and present.By that very act of the flaneurie of the past, he recalled how he had broken free and remained free.The year in Princes Gate East had probably been the most significant and character-forming(especially in regard to his unapologetically gay identity) in his whole life.

He entered the big, decaying  house,into the ramshackle, slightly uncanny hallway. It was dark; and there were spectral dead letters to unknown denizens of the past piled up on a table. The flat was at the back of the ground floor; there was no bulb in the light above the door, he remembered, adding to the penumbrous feeling of the whole house; the upstairs was like some shut off area of dark dreams.

This was a big moment for Paul; he had forced himself out from the strangling carapace of middle class, repressive surburbia, ejected himself up Ryedale Road, like a cannon ball seeking its target.

This is how it was and is (Paul is viewing the flat for the first time, walking around it, in memory, as he did when he lived there,thirty-three years ago; and, re-living it as if it were now).

Through the door… a dark(again!) bathroom straight ahead of the entrance; to the left, into the main room, which, on closer perusal,turned out to be the only room; a vast, semi-desuetudinous space, with the vestiges of a decorated ceiling (a very high one).Was it just a bedsit, then? “I suppose”, he thought, “nowadays you would call it a ‘studio'” as he gradually realised/remembered that the bedroom was poised above the main living area, somehow on top of the tiny(no window) kitchen and the glimpsed bathroom; he circumvented an exploration of the main area and headed towards the kitchen: “that’s nice”, he said: “wooden kitchen shelves”;realising, next, that they were, in fact, a ladder to the bedroom, which was a slightly uncomfortable six foot below the ceiling, all in the one vast, cavernous room. Climbing up the ladder/shelves, he found a double-bed, perched above the main space, somewhat precariously, and again, disconcertingly, filled with shadowy, unknown spaces,(which he decided to ignore!). The light bulb hung down,perilously, into the main room, at the side of the bed. Back to the kitchen, and there was an archaic small gas cooker (probably unsafe, looking back),and no fridge.

Yet it was enough. Physical space refracted psychological and emotional space. This was Paul’s gay space; and Paul’s gay base. From here he would go inward (into reclaiming his occluded gay self) and outwards(to the Gay Centre, and Sadie’s and other dens of…pleasure … and dancing… and.. friendship). Still full of angst, there was, yet, now, a strong ray of hope.. No matter the 10p in the slot gas meter and the Health and Safety nightmare that was this pied-de-terre. It was HOME; his gay home; he had come home, to HIMSELF; that is all that mattered. It had been, and still was, then (easier, now, but still not quite a finished work!) like hewing out a life from the arid stone of heteronormative hegemony; he had carved a new sculpture, but a living one. Corny, but he was re-born and re-made. This flat was the psycho-geographical manifestation of that.


Paul used to lie on his dais(bed) reading Gay Mens Press novels from the second earliest incarnation of “News from Nowhere”(another gay-friendly haven) and then fall asleep, to the sound of rats clawing and scraping above and below. He remembered in visual images, like shots of lightning in the dark sky of time and memory.

__________________________________________________________________________

Paul wanted to recall as fully and clearly as possible, given the hazy curtain of time that hid his clear vision of the past-like that eerie curtain he had seen in the old deserted ABC a few months ago:- he wanted to recall Mark, the ravenhaired Irishman from County Longford, who , one evening, had come to his flat,(having met him in the decrepit Gay Centre of the time) and who had sat with him on the sofa and whom, after two tantalizing hours and a bit of grappling, he had taken to his pedestal bed in the sky, and who had shouted, when Paul had said, amidst the throes, that he was hurting him, “I can’t help it if I love you to bits”, in a lilting Celtic accent. Mark with skin like alabaster, threaded like veined marble;exquisitely handsome Mark, who, also, conformed to Paul’s ideal of the darkhaired, slim man, he had always desired. Mark who loved Abba, so that Paul could not listen to a track by this band but think, yearningly,of him. He remembered how, the second time Mark was meant to appear, he did not turn up, with Paul,periodically and anxiously, walking the tiny distance to the 80 bus-stop on the corner of Granby St, to see if he was getting off the bus. It had been/is (recalling it) excruciating. Gone was the ecstatic feeling, following their first (and only once repeated, four years later)night of passion, when he had walked to work through Greenbank Park and all the birds of Liverpoolshire sang, as everything became three-dimensional and joyously bright-hued, like some variegated Hopkins poem. (He had the tendency to experience life through the transfiguring lens of literature). Now everything was drear and dark, like the Matthew Arnold poem; it was no longer the radiant beach of another former home, Aberystwyth, but the night-time with the tide receding, leaving him embattled, alone and confused: not for the last time!

Despite the traumas of this (the most intense of his post coming out love-passions and one of the {rarely} actualized ones), he survived and , somehow, amidst and athwart the desolate sense of loss, it affirmed his newly found gay self and identity: he had met and made love to an exquisitely beautiful man . He still, occasionally, bumped into this man, now like himself, in his fifties: he was still not badlooking. He had, in fact, told him, a few years back, about the huge effect he had had on him. Again, time was somersaulting in many directions at once.

__________________________________________________________________________

Paul did not know if he wanted to finish his story. {Neither did Steve}. When you are back in  “another country” that is the past, do you want to return to the present, especially if, in some significant ways, it is troubled? Steve found writing third person narrative hard; ok, he had made a stab at it. He found it interesting how people felt the need (privacy?/self-protective distancing?)to re-write (parts/all) of their lives as if written by/about someone else, which persona was merely a flimsy mask.


That said, I quite liked writing MY short story, Steve said.

——————————————————————————————————————————

1140 words, 28.6.16

 

 

 

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About decayetude

ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)
This entry was posted in "Pride", a la recherche Benjamin gay queer archive assembalge, Death of Author, ecriture cuir, gay, gay affirmative writing, gay literature, Hauntology, life mirrors art, psychogeography, queer, queer geography, Queer wrting, Re-envisionning, Self-actualisation, Uncategorized, Utopia, wordcount, working outside hegemonies. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to FOR “PRIDE STORY” WRITING GROUP.”STEPS TO FREEDOM:PAUL’S (GAY) START IN LIFE”.REFLECTIONS. BY STEVEN BENSON.

  1. decayetude says:

    Thx Gill, as always xx

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