Thursday, 22 December 2011

#18 Grimoire

Alan: I wish people would just see us like human beings, like for what is inside and not what’s on the outside? Am I heavily pierced? Have I had my teeth filed? Yeah, fine, that’s my thing. I don’t see why people should be all up in my face about it. I mean John, he’s got an ampalang and sometimes it hurts…

John: It does yeah. I have to dab at it with ointment…

Alan: ...but you don’t hear him giving it all that about his problems. Why can’t people just leave us alone?

Jill: Yeah I mean if I want to go to the pub and kiss a woman…

Alan: But you don’t yeah? 'Cos you’re with me?

Jill: Yeah but if I wanted to…

Alan: Yeah but you don’t. We’re not going out by the way.

Jill: We are seeing each other…

Alan: …but that’s different yeah? We’re not going to be told, “Get married, get a job, make babies, exist as a cog in the machine”. You know. The machine? No way. I ain’t buying what you’re selling. Machine.

Jill: But we are seeing each other…

Alan: So we do covers right, but only to get money because we need a van. We do stuff like Kings of Leon and Coldplay and that. But totally ironical like. Soon as we get money for a van we’re off. I’ve got so much inside me waiting to get out. This place can’t contain me. And neither can mum. Soon as we get the van. Then we’ll see who’s roof I live under. Then we’ll see who’s sorry. Cliff can drive and he knows someone in Nottingham that can give us a gig. Isn’t that right Cliff?

Cliff: No-one tells me how to live.

Alan: No Cliff mate. I’m talking about the van? Nottingham?

Cliff: Oh. Right.

Alan: Sorry, he’s a bit hard of hearing.

Monday, 19 December 2011

# 17 Mervyn Purvis

“Hell Toro” is a bullfighter who neglects his wife and children in the pursuit of fame. He loves the money, the trappings, the roar of the crowd more than he cherishes the simple pleasures of domestic life. Then one day, tragedy strikes. His family are murdered by a rogue bull, jealous because he cannot experience human love. Driven mad by grief, Hell Toro gives over his soul to vengeance in a desperate bid to appease his dead family, whose souls unquenchably thirst for justice. I created him for Victory Comics in 1967 and he’s been a very successful character for me, particularly in Latin America.

He started appearing at the end of my bed silently inviting me to join him for tea and cakes about three years ago. It’s been very difficult to sleep ever since. He comes to me in dreams as well you see, but in my dreams, he does much worse stuff. Much worse. Every time I have had one of the dreams, something dies. A plant, a pet, an old school friend. So I try to stay awake.

I don’t know how, but I know that when I see him at the end of my bed, the tea is my life and the cakes are my soul. I want to eat the cakes and drink the tea but something tells me not to. Something in me screams no. Screams no so loud that soon it is beyond sound and it becomes a light, a white light that blanks out everything. I close my eyes and when I open them again he is gone and everything in my room is broken.

My tip to anyone starting out in comics? Perseverance.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

#16 Idris Bull

See, the trick when it comes to the ladies is make it about them. Talk to them. Make it seem like you’re interested.

It doesn’t hurt to look good either. I know I’m not as young as I used to be so a strict regime is absolutely essential.

Firstly, wardrobe. Learn this phrase. “Ladies love leather”. They might tell you they don’t but they do.  You know what they’re like. Tasseled leather? Don’t get me started. It’s like catnip.

Secondly, jewellery. Chunky. Gold. Nothing sentimental. It’s purely about showing you have a wedge and can afford the finer things. Few can resist.

Thirdly? Hair. This is all-important. You can’t spend enough in this area. I for one get my streaks re-done every three weeks. This is for two reasons. One? To cover the grey. Go to a club with grey hair and you might as well douse yourself in shit. Nothing destroys the illusion of youth like grey hair. Second, it shows you’re right up with the latest cuts and styles. I need to point out at this stage that if you are balding you MUST GO CUEBALL. Brynner style or nothing. I really can’t stress that enough. If you go clubbing with thinning hair or partial baldness you might as well douse yourself in shit, piss and the sick of an old lady or something. What I’m saying is you really won’t do well.

Lastly you need to arrive in style. There’s nothing more masculine than riding around on your chrome stallion, steel horse or as many call it, motorbike. In a lot of ways it’s much like a throbbing motorised phallus, except you use it mainly for transport. When you are not actually riding your motorbike, and the ladies cannot see you on it, I like to carry around my helmet to indicate that I have been riding a motorbike recently, and will shortly do so again.

Follow these rules and I promise you like me, you will be able to boast you have slept with in excess of four women.

Monday, 12 December 2011

#15 Corinne Smedley

No, I would never describe myself as lucky in love. My first husband was pecked to death by seagulls. Harrowing that was. He had this incredulous look on his face as if to say, “Why aren’t they just taking the bread?”

Derek was next. The age-old story. Man goes out for cigarettes, comes back, waits ‘til you're asleep and then dips your purse before fucking off in the Xsara Picasso with your sister. I should have known better about him. He was a Libra. You know what Libra men are like. And she was just my half sister. You can never trust a halfy.

But I suppose you’re curious about Donnie here. There’s no great mystery. He was decapitated having a fag outside the Shopping Centre when the “No Loitering” sign fell down. He’d have been tickled by that if he’d lived to hear about it. He always liked hearing about stuff like that.

Is it strange that I carry about his head about in a bag? I suppose so. But it’s all I have left isn’t it? I dunno. I just feel if I can hang on to this at least I might one day be able to hang onto a whole live man for more than five minutes. Does that sound crazy? I suppose it does. I won’t lie. It’s a great way to skip the queue at the offy.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

#14 Archie McKaig and Stan Fletcher

Stan: The swastikas? Yeah, we’re both pretty embarrassed about those. We were young when we got them. Young and stupid.

Archie: Aye, an’ noo yer auld an’ stupit!

Stan: Shut it Archie you complete cunt! Always being a cunt int ya? What kind of partner is that? All your working life going around with a pisstaking cunt. Maybe I deserve it.

Archie: Ye deserve cockrot. Fae aw the poofin’ ye dae. Poofin’ wi men. Men’s bums.

Stan: I think they get it. Now why don’t you fuck off in the back where you’ll be more useful? Anyway. No, I don’t believe in all that now. Archie neither. Live and let live is what we say. I mean look at me. Look at my face. The scraps I got into over such a lot of silly shit. When I remember that time of my life it’s like I’m looking back at another person. I remember feeling the pain, the anger, the incredible hurt. But I can’t actually feel it anymore. Like that part of me is spent. It sometimes feels like I can only see my past warped, like I’m looking at it through an old glass bottle, all askew and comical. But being honest what I really feel is bereaved. That kid, that silly kid who used to be me is dead now and he was a cunt, a stupid cunt who did horrible things and said horrible things but he was me, y’know? Me. And he’s gone. I’ve been robbed of him. Mugged myself out of those years. But those feelings pass and you just get on with it eh? Let’s just say ecstasy came along at just the right time for me. Thank fuck for it.

Archie: Fuckin' lassie’s drug that…

Stan: Did I not just tell you to fuck off? What? Yeah we looked into having them removed but it was too expensive. We need all the cash we can put our hand to for the business. You’d think starting up a florists would be easy but it’s a lot harder when you’ve got a thick, ugly Scottish tool holding you back.

Archie: Ah fuck you ya clown. He kids on he disnae love me. But he dis. He fuckin' loves me.

Stan: Steady.

Monday, 5 December 2011

#13 Dave Honeyjudge

It should have been a runaway success. When people want fast friendly service, they come to “Laughter Lines”, Mothwicke’s only stand up comedy bookmakers. If William Hill’s gives you the chills and Ladbrokes is in your bad books, lay down a line where the patter’s fine and the clientele are all funny as hell! An exciting new innovation. A bookies with a difference. I just don’t understand where it all went wrong. Well, it was because no one liked the combination of comedy and losing all their money. I mean we had some seasoned performers in there but they were getting heckled by sorts who lost every day of their lives. People who bathed in misery and washed their hair in failure. There were tears every night of the week. More than usual.  I suppose I do understand where it all went wrong, thinking about it.

But this is me all over, big ideas that I never think through. It was the same with my Queen themed strip club. Who wants a lap dance from a woman dressed as John Deacon? Of course no one. I can see that now. But at the time? I thought it would make me a millionaire. “We Will Rock You” with tits was how I saw it. I remember the feeling. The feeling that this was it. An idea that couldn't possibly fail. I’ve still got a box full of Roger Taylor chest wigs through the back. You can take one home if you want.

So now I work in the drycleaners. It’s steady, mundane work that doesn’t get me too excited and I think the Tetrachloroethylene acts as a natural damper for my stupid business ideas. I hope it stays that way as well. I just can’t afford another financial and legal disaster like “ Amazing Dave’s Circus of Toddlers”.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

#12 Victor Portnoy & Zoya

Victor: I’m going to introduce you to Zoya today. Zoya is part of a long tradition of Russian puppet making and performance that goes back many generations of my family, a tradition I’m very proud to be a part of. Say hello to the nice men Zoya!

Zoya: Hello!

Victor: I think it’s just so important to try and keep traditions alive, particularly if you are from an √©migr√© background. I don’t have much in the way of family left now since mum passed, and in a way that’s probably why I’ve been so keen to maintain and pass on my…

Zoya: He’ll take you places! He’ll take you places you know! In his taxi!

Victor: Haha, that’s great Zoya. What? Yes, I do drive a taxi. We’ve all got to make a living haven't we? It’s great actually. Give me a lot of free time to practice…

Zoya: He’ll take you places! Places you don’t want to go!

Victor: Haha! Wow, Zoya! You are quite a character! Isn’t she quite a character? In case I’m losing you here, this of course is all part of the tradition of puppetry, where the puppet will attempt to humiliate the puppet master for comic effect…

Zoya: He’ll try to do stuff to you! He does stuff to me!

Victor: Shut up Zoya!

Zoya: When he takes his hand out of me he thinks I don’t see! He thinks I don’t see what he does! But I do!

Victor: I SAID SHUT UP ZOYA YOU FUCKING WHORE! Ahem. Sorry. Sorry about that. Can we maybe do this another time?

Monday, 28 November 2011

#11 Dean Cromwell

What? No. I never did get to meet Mr Cowell. Even after gluing myself to his car. He has people you see. People who check things are safe for him before he gets in. And obviously with me glued to the bonnet of his Mercedes he just never came out. I suppose it would all have been quite funny but for the severe injuries I sustained and the several skin graft operations I had to endure afterwards. Never glue yourself to a car, that’s my advice.

Of course the most embarrassing thing about the whole affair was being wheeled into Mothwicke General, where I’m Chief Administrator. Very difficult to maintain disciple when you’ve contravened a number of safety pamphlets you yourself have co-authored. A harsh lesson learned let me tell you.

But it wasn’t all bad. Mr Cowell sent me a nice letter, asking me if I was all right and insisting I pay for the damage to his car, which was only fair.

Why did I do it? Well, I just think the country needs the chance to hear my voice. I genuinely feel that I could enrich people’s experience, touch them in a way that’s rare and precious. In a way I otherwise couldn’t. And this is coming from someone with keys to a mortuary!

That last part was a joke. You’ll have to forgive my crazy sense of humour. I’m quite the card around work. That’s what people are always saying about me. “Who’s that special guy?” they’ll say probably. “Who’s that guy who looks like he can really belt out a Howard Jones track?” “He looks like he’s crazy!” That’s what people say about me, I bet.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

#10 Wilson & Wyatt Delaney

Wilson: Do I enjoy the conventions? No, no I do not. But I do it for my brother. I personally find the whole idea positively loathsome. All these men, and they are almost all men, sloping around in denim and sport shoes and green kaki, pouring over these musty, foul smelling books full of silly stories about muscle men in their underwear? I wonder sometimes if they all gather at these foul smelling dust traps to mask their own collective pong, which let me tell you is eye watering to say the least. And why do they all have to have beards? Are we all Vikings now? Is that it? Orton would have had a few things to say about them I can tell you, Lord rest him. Ah, poor Joe. No. I do not enjoy the conventions.

Wyatt: One time there was this girl dressed as Femlocke from the Cyber Squad and her costume was very tight and showed she was pretty and I asked her to be my girlfriend and she said no and I asked her if it was because of the two heads thing and she said it was because she didn’t know me but then later when I asked her again she said it was because of the two heads things and that just made me like her more because she was honest. I imagined in my head that we kissed and her kisses tasted like chewing gum foil, sweet metallic. That’s what I imagined.

Wilson: She was very rude.  

Monday, 21 November 2011

#9 Harry “Pecs” Ravensthorpe

Oh goodness, where would one start? It’s certainly true that I am a descendant of one of the town’s most famous, or perhaps I should say infamous sons! But don’t worry! I don’t share his eerie ambitions!

As you may already know, John Ravensthorpe inherited our family home, Ravensthorpe Lodge, in 1899. He arrived back in Mothwicke a year later having failed to establish himself on the apparently arduous London puppetry circuit.

His interest in the occult started I think while he was in London as his journals mention how impressed he was on the occasion of meeting Aleister Crowley. He admired Crowley's intensity, his scholarly nature, his ability to get girls to “…do loads”.

Hoping for the same influence over the fairer sex, Ravensthorpe immediately founded his own organisation on returning home, however he was met with complete disinterest. He retired to Ravensthorpe Lodge vowing revenge on the apathetic townspeople. Little was seen of Ravensthorpe after that and he became a recluse, virtually a hermit.

Then, on a dark October night, strange lights and sounds were heard coming from the Lodge. When the locals saw fit to investigate in the morning, Ravensthorpe Lodge and my ancestor John were gone. Even stranger, from that day on Mothwicke has been ever so gradually sinking. No one can explain exactly why. Also as a result of that fateful night, it has become tradition that any Ravensthorpe living in the town must remain homeless and so I largely spend my evenings in the skip behind the greengrocers.

The no shirt thing? Well I lost that some time ago when a badger tried to come in and take over my skip and the lads down the pub started calling me “pecs” which I found quite amusing. So I never bothered finding another one. So they can keep calling me that. It’s nice to have a nickname. So nice when people know you.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

#8 Ina McGuire

“Do your worst.” That’s what I told the council. End of the day they can’t prove a thing, not now Sheila’s away. Oh, they act all high and mighty with their meetings and their community policemen and law this, rule that. But the bottom line is they just don’t know. They don’t know the bond you can form with someone when you care for them every day. How someone can come to rely on you.

I’m not saying I don’t know what it looked like. But Sheila wanted me to have her jewellery. No one can say she didn’t. I mean, she never actually said so in words, but she wouldn’t have grudged me. Payment for all those hours. All the hours of my life, helping people exist. Not to live, just to linger. Sheila knew how that felt, working away your own life tending to the coffin dodgers, trapped in the purgatory of their sad, broken bodies. I told her often enough. And what use is it all to her now anyway?

So “do your worst”, that’s what I say. That Little Miss Perfect from the social works wants to accuse me? Let her mop up an 85-year-old's shit. Then I’ll talk to her.

Monday, 14 November 2011

#7: Sunil Mukkar & Ilhan

Are you serious? You’ve never seen “Bloodsport”? Can you believe that Ilhan? He’s never seen “Bloodsport.” That film was an inspiration to me. Because of that film I’ve seen all the other good violent films about fighting. “American Ninja”, “Street Punch”,  “No Retreat No Surrender” all the greats. These films inspired me to strive towards physical perfection. One day I hope to use my muscles to help people, or maybe to get a good job like as a bouncer. But for now I work here in the DVD rental shop with Ilhan.

Ilhan is my trainer. He makes sure I stay in top shape. Are his techniques strange? Some have said so. All I know is it works. He never speaks. All he does is watch me as I work out. I see him urge me to strive harder with his eyes. Urging me to work harder, to dig deep within myself for everything I can give. He is always looking for more. Sometimes he takes off his top, to show me the kind of body I would have if I gave up, if I stopped pushing myself to my limits. Doughy. Inert. Obscenely sweaty. He is a great man. Sometimes a customer comes in and we have to put our tops back on and stop. I don’t mind. I like to help people choose the films they would like to see. But Ilhan. He gets upset and goes into the back of the store for a long time. You really haven’t seen “Bloodsport”? Unbelievable.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

#6: Craig Rivens

Yes, it’s true; I am Britain’s smallest winner of Jasper Carrot’s “Golden Balls”. Now I know what you’re thinking. What’s Carol Vorderman really like? But that’s a different programme. A stuck up cow probably, like they all are.

I won ten thousand pounds after deciding to steal in the last round. I was up against a man called Simon who chose share and left with nothing. I saw him leaving with his wife and he said goodbye and smiled but almost straight away looked sad again. I would probably have been sad if I’d left with nothing. Sometimes, I imagine it was me who left with nothing and I think about walking out of the television studio, through the revolving door into the street, the actual street, with everyone looking at me, looking at me knowing I left with nothing. Looking at me, the man who left Jasper Carrot’s “Golden Balls" with nothing. If I think about it for too long I get a kind of itchy hot spiky feeling in my head like someone is jagging me with needles that aren’t really there and I can’t sleep. When I can’t sleep I stay up late and watch my Midsomer Murders.

I gave the ten thousand pounds to a man who was supposed to come and fix my garden. I asked him to make me a new garden with a pond and a pear tree. My Dad used to make it a nice garden but it’s been all underneath grass and stuff for a long time. But the man just made a mess and he didn’t come back. Sometimes, I see him in the street or in a shop or something and I think that this time I will tell him off or go to the Police Station and tell them what happened. Then I have to go home and watch my Midsomer Murders. If you say you are going to make someone a nice garden, you should do it. That’s what I say.

Monday, 7 November 2011

#5: Mike Birtles

Conspiracy theorist? I prefer the word “realist”. But people can call me what they like. Anyone who knows me can tell you I’m a thorough professional. A meticulous person. When you order an ice cream at Giggle Mouse Castle, you get exactly what you ordered. Or at least you do when I’m on my shift. And you get the right change. So when I tell you there something fishy about this “disappearance”, I hope you appreciate this is from a man who daily handles complex orders from the public involving sometimes many different kinds of confectionary.

I’ve known Rachel for many years. I sat behind her in geography. Once, I made a joke during class about how boring the Norwegian leather industry was, and she joined in laughing. School days, they really are the best days of your life aren’t they? Except for me now I think about it. I was horribly bullied. Yeah. Really badly bullied. Dunno why I said that. About them being the best days of your life. Because they absolutely weren’t for me.

Anyway, I’ve been looking into this so-called “disappearance”, checking press cuttings, asking around, that kind of thing. And you know what? All the people I’ve questioned about it either “…don’t know anything” or don’t want to talk to me. What does that tell you eh? Plus I’ve been looking at old town records for information about previous disappearances. The last person to disappear in Mothwicke? 1962, George Pratley. A 78 year-old pensioner. Checking up, I’ve found out he has absolutely no connection to Rachel. None. Not related, families don’t know each other, nothing. Now you’re not going to tell me that isn’t weird. What do I think has happened to her? A professional doesn’t speculate mate. Now what was it you said you wanted? A ninety-nine?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

#4: Arthur “Art” Popperwell & Martin Krafts

So yes, the rumours are true! We’re taking the old act back on the road! Too soon after Martin’s accident? Well, that’s for the audience to judge isn’t it?

Of course, many felt Martin would never perform again after he drove those poor pensioners into the lake. Most assume that a man who watched a mini-bus full of human beings drown would give up comedy. And to be fair, Martin has clearly had some doubts, difficulties even. I was shocked when I found out what he'd done to those badgers, of course I was. But as far as I’m concerned the local press went way over the top with their reporting. “Mutilated” is a very strong word.  Anyway, it’s not the Martin I know, that’s for sure.

But all those messages he daubed in the flat; “Please don’t make me Arthur!” and “Arthur, help me to die!” - these were just entrail-clotted cries for help back onto the straight and narrow. Help I’m only too glad to provide.

He’s wracked with that survivors guilt. “Why did I survive?” “Could I have done more?” Even when the answer is almost certainly yes, it wasn’t his fault the brakes failed, was it? It really was an absolute tragedy. Just as we were starting to get those really nice Jongelers gigs again. Of course, it’s a shame for everyone involved.

The act? Well it’s changed a little, of course it has. It’s been a good few years since our heyday. And of course, Martin won’t take off his “chicken face”. So yes, it’s a little different from our appearance on “Russ Abbot’s Madhouse”. But we both feel it’s important to fight on, as much for the victims as anything else. They wouldn’t want more lives ruined by what happened would they? Especially the life of someone who wasn’t even there and had nothing to do with it. Someone who still has to earn a living. Where’s the fair in that?

Monday, 31 October 2011

#3: Colin Rumbles

The best thing about driving a bus? The excitement. Never knowing who’s going to get on where, what routes you’re going to get assigned, what shifts you’ll get. Plus the sitting. In my condition, being able to work sitting down all day is important. I’m also a big fan of my protective Perspex window. Makes you feel nice and safe that does. Enclosed. You’d be amazed how many people want to spit on a bus driver.

But, ok... I’ll let you into a secret. It’s not really any of that. Are you ready? It’s keeping the stuff people leave behind. That really can be anything. Toys, shoes, hardly touched sandwiches... Mum says that’s what’s up with my skin, wearing other people’s clothes that I find. She reckons I should burn them, or at least wash them. But that would spoil it I think, washing them. That would make them too much like really mine. It far more fun just wearing a coat or a jumper and smelling the person it used to belong to. That’s what’s exciting, the smell of their loss. Knowing I’m wearing something that belongs to someone else. Especially in public! I mean, what if they saw me? Can you imagine? Who knows, maybe one day someone might even come up and say something to me about something I’m wearing! They might recognise it and come up to me and say something like, “Hey! That’s my snood!” and then they’d chase me. Chase me for ages. Into the woods maybe. But they’d never find me because I know places. Places to hide. Yeah, maybe something like that might happen one day. That would be amazing.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

#2: Dravsko Pavic

She looked at me one day and just said, “I am tired of your face.” When I woke up later, she was gone. And for that reason I would say to you never fall in love with a travelling entertainer, even one who tells you that her travelling days are over.
I have made for many years my living with my face, a face of death. Freak, Frankenstein, zombie; I have been called many things. But a man can truly die and still find himself walking.

It is difficult to describe the sensuality, the femininity of a woman’s beard unless you have encountered such a lady. In my time, I have met many such women, in the circus, in fairgrounds and theme parks much like the one I work in today. But none had the fire, the muliebrity of Rukhsana. Those eyes! Those lips! And that beard! That downy, soft beard like a bed of wild, tangelo bracken. I am close to tears just to think of her.

We married. I knew it was a mistake. How can one marry fire? Put a ring on the finger of passion itself? But I had to have her. I could accept nothing less. With my ghoulish face and work in the theme park’s “Spook Central Death Train”, we had more than enough to get by. And then, as often happens, atrophy. I began to wonder if all this was enough, if Rukhsana was enough. Maybe. Maybe if I could see her without the beard? I pressed. I pressed and cajoled. I drove a wedge between us with my dreary disquiet. In the end I did what all weak men do and killed the thing I cherished most.

So that was it. “I am tired of your face.” And now I raise little Gary alone. It is my burden, my privilege. Thank goodness for his moustache. Otherwise we would not be able to afford the Sky+.

Monday, 24 October 2011

#1: Tim & Sandra Figgess

Mothwicke is a great place to work and to live! There can’t be many places anywhere that would accept me what with my wolf hand. And not only accept me, embrace me! And elect me to the Council. Yes, it’s Councillor Tim Figgess if you don’t mind. This is my wife Sandra. You’ll have to forgive her. She not herself right now. Not since well, everything with her sister.

We met at work, naturally enough. Like people do. We work at Giggle Mouse Castle, like everyone does. Everyone in this town owes so much to that crazy mouse! Did you know Giggle Mouse Castle is the world’s largest theme park that happens to be sinking?
We’ve had a good marriage, Sandra and I. I mean sex isn’t everything. And the kids we’d hoped for never happened. Maybe that’s for the best. Who wants a dad with a wolf hand? But it’s been good. Companionship. Underrated I’d say. Sex isn’t everything.

I mean naturally, Sandra isn’t really in the mood for that kind of thing at the moment. Who would be with your sister disappeared? Right now, at this moment, no one knows what happened to Rachel. And that can take its toll on someone. So of course the last thing Sandra wants is me pawing her like some lust filled animal!

But as so often happens, something quite…well, profound I suppose… comes out of the tragedy. I suppose I’m not the only man who has found his wife less and less attractive over the years. There’s something so sad about watching the woman you love wither like hoary grapes. Sad and disgusting. Even before, you know, we were having difficulties because, well, because things just weren’t as tight and as firm as they used to be shall we say. I don’t blame her exactly; I mean I know it’s not her fault. The last time we tried, you know, we did it in front of the big mirror in the bedroom. I remember when we used to do that years ago, before it all turned to porridge. Well I’m going through the motions frankly. Out of politeness. I mean this woman makes me a sandwich to take to work every morning, it’s the least I can do isn’t it? Anyway, there I am, struggling to “be a man” if you will, just flapping in the breeze, and all of a sudden I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Suddenly there’s a spark. Just for an instant, I see the way the light from the bedroom lamp hits me and I’m all sharp lines and dense sensuous shadow. No longer a lingering spent sack of regret, a ghost at the sexual feast. I file it away for later and crack on. Grit my teeth and get through it. Later when she’s asleep, I try it all again, only solo. It’s like a switch flips in my head. I spend hours diligently exploring myself in ways that would make a Cardinal blush.  Afterwards I feel complete. Complete, refreshed and clean. Clean in a way I though I’d never feel again. It’s just so important to take some time out to be good to yourself. What? No she can’t hear us. She’s on a lot of medication.