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Posted by Clayton Littlewood
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Tube Diary: September

Tube Dairy: 1st September

Empty platform. Glance at myself in the corridor mirror. Hmmm. Not too bad. Train arrives. No seats. Oh well. Lean on the half-seat by the door. I’ve got 20 minutes to get to the dentist. Should just make it. Then there’s an announcement. “Due to a problem at Stratford, this train will go as far as Lancaster Gate and then wait for further instructions.” Fuck. I hate being late. It stresses me out. If I’m catching a flight I like to be at the airport with a couple of hours to spare. Give myself plenty of time to relax. Chill out. I suppose it stems from my last partner. He was always late. Hours late. The amount of times we’d arrive at an airport to be told the gate was now closed (our holidays were always very tense). Then there’s another announcement. A signal failure. Great. I look at my watch. Maybe I should just get off at the next stop and walk. As I’m deciding, three people get on; a man, a woman and their young son, all laughing and chatting, rucksacks, typical tourists – but what instantly relaxes me, what instantly puts all this ‘lateness stress’ in perspective, is that as well as being happy, as well as being so excited about being here, all three of them are blind.


Tube Diary: 1st September

Back on the train again. Been invited to a BBQ by a dirty Mayor.


Tube Diary: 1st September

There’s an ad above of a topless guy in a bath that reads, ‘I’ve just bought a King-sized hot tub – we’re all in this together.’ And it’s advertising a free conferencing calling service. *scratches head*


Tube Diary: 5th September

Station entrance, an Indian guy tries to hand me The Sun (“Err, no thanks”). On the platform, a tall good-looking Suit holding a coffee puffs his chest out as I walk past. I let two trains go by. Get on the third (cos’ it has a seat). There’s a faded No Smoking sign above me. When was it put there? 20 years ago? After Kings Cross? I try and remember the lyrics to that Pet Shop Boys song. Can’t. At Notting Hill a posh lady in unposh clothes steps on. She’s talking loudly to her male friend (who sounds like her designer). So it’s all “Yah” this and “Yah” that, and “How does one create the perfect window display? Should I leave that to you and Paulo?” She looks like Virginia Woolf and he like a guy I once knew from the scene, many years ago. Change trains. Walk past posters advertising beer, Les Mis (will it ever end?) and ‘The Best Of British’ at Madam Tussauds (so why show Cameron, Johnson and Cheryl Cole?). Now on the Northern. On the floor by my feet, a discarded newspaper. There’s a pic of Jeremy Hunt on the cover. I deliberately step on his face as I get off.


Tube Diary: 6th September

Reading an email from a stranger who contacted me via my website this morning:


“Thought I’d let you know that your great jeans store may be gone but its influence lives on. I am on holiday in Barbados where I just saw this guy in a bar (str8 bar) wearing THE MOST FUCKIN AMAAAAAAAZING jeans – you know how if you see someone looking hot in something that fits really well and blatantly sexually it just stops your heart. Well these were straight out of Tom of Finland – great big schlong curving down the leg and enough room there for it all to show – but skin skin tight in every other way. Heroic and FAB and I mean SERIOUS length, the stuff of my dreams and I could not take my eyes off the area between his crotch and his knee!! Like they were just sprayed around his big cock, faded in all the right places, worn in to perfection. And I was so bowled over and nervous when I got next to him at the bar, the only thing I could think of saying, as I just HAD to make contact was – “those jeans are so fab, where did you get them?”. And he answered “a great place in Soho in London a long time ago called Dirty White Boy”. I think they were Buckler. And when I said that the jeans I was wearing were also from there and I had other jeans from there etc and I had some with me on holiday, it got us into great conversation and he said he had to see them! so we are meeting up tomorrow night! So just had to let you know your store broke the ice and I hope tomorrow seals it!!!!”


Tube Diary: 7th September

Reading ‘Kinski Uncut’ by Klaus Kinski. Been told it’s a cult autobiographical classic.


Tube Diary: 7th September

Change trains at Notting Hill. Up the escalator, round the corner, up the second escalator. This station brings back memories. 80s memories. I lived in NH back then. So memories of meeting Billy MacKenzie outside, swapping numbers and having horny late night chats (we never did meet again); memories of my last partner and our flats on Arundel Gardens and Colville Road; memories of doing acid in the communal garden (spending six hours convinced I was Judy Garland); memories of working for a children’s project on Golbourne Road; memories of being mugged on All Saints Road (scoring hash)…It’s funny how tube stations can do this to you.


Tube Diary: 10th September

Reading another email from the stranger on holiday in Barbados. Apparently, he’s now meeting Mr Well-Fitting Jeans tonight. In the meantime, after only sleeping for two hours last night, (‘because I was wanking myself silly thinking about his cock’), he’s done some research. Turns out the guy is famous in The Intrepid Fox in Soho for getting his cock out (‘it’s like an arm’) and he’s known as Horse or Horseman. He then goes into quite some detail about the actual cock, estimating the length (he thinks it maybe a foot long ‘soft’), the curvature and the weight. He also tells me (again) how snug it looks against the leg. ‘When I first saw it my heart practically leapt into my mouth and knocked my fuckin teeth out!’ Still not sure why he’s telling me all this (although it does liven up a dull journey). I reply by wishing him luck and tell him that I hope he manages to get his hands on it. Now I’m reading Kinski Uncut, the autobiography of Klaus Kinski (recommended by my horror film director friend). It’s page after page of his sexploits (he hardly mentions his films) and in the page I’m on at the moment he’s describing trying to fuck an actress called Edith E whose ‘vagina is as tiny as the slit in a piggy bank.’ He then says that Marlene Dietrich once tore down her panties backstage in a Berlin theatre and, using just her mouth, brought Edith to orgasm. So, all in all, quite an sexual journey for a Monday morning.


Tube Diary: 10th September

Listening to ‘Memory of the Future’ by the Pet Shop Boys on my iPhone (on repeat) while staring at a girl with white-blonde hair sitting opposite who’s struggling to open a new mascara pencil. Having to stop myself from singing the chorus out loud, ‘It’s taken me all of my life to find you!’


Plane Diary: 11th September

Wake up at 4am feeling terrible, sore throat, blocked nose. In my dream state I imagine it’s thrush or gonorrhea. Drift back off wondering how I’ll get rid of it. Alarm goes off at 7. Fall out of bed. Throw clothes into suitcase while Jorge makes breakfast. Cough a wad of phelgm into the sink. Water doesn’t move it. Have to push it down the plughole with my finger. Eat breakfast; eggs, sausage, fruit bread, OJ. Knock back 3 x 500mg Vitamin C tabs. Taxi arrives at 8:30. Kiss Jorge goodbye. Remind him about Tesco’s delivery. Asian driver doesn’t speak for the entire journey except to say ‘Fucking drivers!’ At Victoria. Just manage to catch the Gatwick Express as the doors are about to close. Stare aimlessly out of the window. Text Jorge ‘Don’t forget me.’ He texts back ‘Who are you?’ Get off train, up escalator, about to go through ticket barrier when I realise I’ve left my wallet on the seat. Rush back down. Train’s pulling away. Christ! Back upstairs, explain at the ticket desk what’s happened. Friendly black lady lets me through. Stressed. Phone my bank and stop my cards. Phone my Mint credit card. The agent says she has no record of it. I say, ‘Well in that case can I stop paying the bill you send me every month?’ Hang up. Check in. Realise I’m going to Norway and I forgot my jacket. Through X ray machine. Rush to the departure lounge. I need a toothbrush, toothpaste. But which ones? Soft brush? Hard brush? Colgate? Spearmint? Can’t concentrate. Still thinking of my wallet, the Oystercard, the gym card, the £40 (luckily I have another credit card in my bag). There’s an announcement about my flight. Reach for toothpaste. The check out queue is unreal. Oh not now. Please! But it moves quickly. Assistant scans the items. I’ve picked up Steradent. Too late now. Dig out the credit card from my bag. First two PIN attempts are wrong. Oh God please no. Try again. Card locks. About to start sobbing. Suddenly remember I might have another card in my bag. Manic rummage. I do! Say a prayer to He Above as I enter the PIN. It works! Announcement board says gate closes in 5 mins. Fly down the corridor, spluttering and coughing. Three Norwegian lesbians with rucksacks (orange teeshirts) block my path. Take a detour. I’m the last one on the plane. Relax. Plane takes off. Order coffee. As the trolly reaches over he bangs his arm. Coffee ends up down my leg. I say, ‘Don’t worry. It’s fine.’ Inside I wish him a horrible death. Turn on iPhone. Play new PSB album. Start typing…’Plane Diary’.


Tube Diary: 17th September

Not a great start. Remembered when I got here that I’ve lost my Oystercard. So I’m forced to fork out nine quid for a return. Take the escalator. Walk down platform. Train arrives. Take the seat by the door. I’m playing a demo version of my audiobook on my iPhone. David (Benson)’s character voices are a joy. I sound a bit ‘Moira Stewart’. It gets to a Chico story (which brings back bad memories). I switch to the PSBs album (track 9). The weather’s cooled in the past week, so it’s far less humid down here now. Consequently body smells are at a minimum: no BO, no overpowering deodorant, no spices secreted from perspiring bodies, just the waft from someone’s coffee that clings to the breeze that flows through the half-opened window. Now I’m on the Northern. There’s an ad of a pregnant woman above me. She’s naked. About to give birth. I’m squinting but can’t make out what it’s advertising. Playing Breathing Space on the iPhone. Here we go. Old Street.


Tube Diary: 17th September

Bank. Escalator. Walk down platform, past film posters (the new Brad Pitt, The Sweeney, Tower Block). Take a seat at the end, next to an Asian Suit reading his iPad. He sneezes. We both look down at the screen. It’s splattered. He glances in my direction. I bite my lip. Three packed trains go by. Get on the fourth. Decide it’s too busy. Get off again. 20 mins have gone by. Fifth train hurtles past. Then a sixth. A seventh. Seems like half of London’s on the Central. Get on the 8th. There’s an ad about an app called Lovestruck, strapline ‘Find love on any platform.’ Imagine? ‘So where did you meet?’ ‘Lovestruck. On the 17:53 to Snaresbrook.’ Listening to the PSBs as I type this. I tend to play a new album over and over, until every lyric has soaked it’s way in. Shepherd’s Bush. Step off the train, still having a good nose. Up escalator. There’s the C1! Need to get home. I’m starving.


Tube Diary: 18th September

Trains are packed. And I got here early. Two go by. I ‘have’ to get on this next one. Okay. On it. Standing by the door. Argument going on to my right. Two women. ‘Well stand somewhere else then!’ ‘No you stand somewhere else!’ All said under their breath, one over her shoulder to the other. Unless you’re ears were flapping (like mine) you’d miss it. Queensway. A tall, leggy, size-zero blonde slides in. Stands next to me. Holds on to the rail. She’s on the last few pages of a book by Ali Smith. Can’t make out the title. But I do have a perfect view of her waxed armpit as it’s inches from my nose. A wiff of soap n’ sweat. Bond Street. The masses alight. *Sigh* Even more get on. *Double sigh* Hemmed in now like a battery hen. In the background Krystal and Alexis are on Round 3. About to tear each other’s wigs off. These tubes do my head in at times.


Tube Diary: 19th September

A severe looking lady, draped in Vuitton. A mother and baby, shopping to be done. Suits at the start of their career, others at the end. A melting pot of black, white, Asian and gay. And amongst it all – the headphone seeping music, the station announcements, the rush to get on, get off – an elderly man. At Bond Street more people alight. Bodies crushed. Tempers frayed. And yet still he sits. This man. Quietly. Staring ahead. Clutching a bag. Frail and pale. Hair wispy grey. Skin paper grey. No one notices him. Is he really even here? Wrapped up in an invisibility cloak. He’s become invisible. One day I’ll become invisible too.


Tube Diary: 20th September

Central Line. I’m wearing a dark grey jacket, straight-leg black trousers (recently patched), waistcoat, slightly scuffed pointed shoes (forgot to polish ’em), freshly clippered riah, dab of Pinaud behind each ear – on the way to a book reading in Brighton. Usual thoughts: will anyone turn up? Will I make a fool of myself? What will I say? Will it be interesting? Will anyone care? I look down at my shoes. I may have to buy some shoe polish when I get there to calm myself. If the readings rotten at least the shoes’ll sparkle.


Tube Diary: 21st September

Bona evening in Brighton last night; an attentive older audience, welcoming hosts, a professional interviewer, questions about diaries, diary influences (I said Isherwood, Orton, Kenneth Williams and St Quentin) and the compulsion to confess. Talked about my first diary (leather with a padlock), which I poured my feelings into when I was struggling with my sexuality (and subsequently burnt) and how I’ve been ‘coming out’ in my diary ever since. At one point I said, ‘I grew up in Weston-Super-Mare which is a lot like Brighton’ and everyone started laughing. Sharing the event with Jonathan was perfect as not only is he one of the few gay authors I relate to, but it was his creative writing classes that took me down another path. Dinner after with Jonathan, his partner (& mother), his agent and ‘photographic diarist’ Dom Agius. Then a long journey back to London. Took hours. Got home late and didn’t sleep well. So now on the Central, looking like a dog.


Tube Diary: 24th September

Grey, damp morning and I’m late. Step on the first train. Opposite me, a lady applying mascara and a boy picking his nose, wiping it on the seat.


Tube Diary: 24th September

Bond Street. Now I’m sitting opposite a row of women and three of them are reading 50 Shades! One grinning. One frowning. One nonchalant (as if she’s done it all before).


Tube Diary: 24th September

One of them is wearing ‘open toe’ sandals and has foot fungus (either that or she’s trod in some Play-doh). There’s a smell of train fumes (from the window) and Lynx deodorant in the air.


Tube Diary: 24th September

Two signs above me. One for the Spice Girls musical. The other reads, ‘Your tube journey just got better’. Err…


Tube Diary: 24th September

Queue behind me as I try to use my Oystercard. WTF! I’ve only just topped the bloody thing up! Then I notice I’m using my Tesco’s Club Card.


Tube Diary: 24th September

Northern Line. Too cramped to type properly. Nose to nose with a bearded workman while someone’s impregnating me from behind #duein9months


Tube Diary: 25th September

Down the escalator, the steps, just as an empty train’s pulling in. Oh good. I take a seat at the end, right next to a discarded umbrella. There’s a smashed ‘Pull For Emergency’ box on my left (vandalism? A real emergency?). Further along, to my right, a woman with a hooked nose, black stockings and a tight black skirt reading a book. I look down at the umbrella. What should I do? Hand it in? Leave it here? A few seconds later it’s in my bag (I know). I immediately feel guilty (why did I do it? I don’t need another umbrella. Will something bad happen to me now?). I get off at Bank, feeling like Ronnie Biggs (think about it). As I’m walking down Tabernacle Street, I pass the back of the Wesley Chapel. Then I have an idea. I open the gate and prop the umbrella up against the lonely gravestone. Then continue on my way. Two minutes later it pisses down.


Tube Diary: 27th September

Let the first train go by. Second rumbles in, with seats (hurray!). Step on. Two stops later it’s full. People reading; the Metro, Kindles or listening to music. There’s an older Suit and a young woman with a bob sitting opposite (his secretary?). They keep kissing. He’s got his hand on her leg, inching up her skirt. She’s parting her legs. Now they’re kissing. As he’s got a tongue like a camel and her mouth is too small to match, it makes for painful viewing. Like watching a brutal wildlife programme. The Unfortunate Reproductive Techniques of the City Suit perhaps. #Xtube


Tube Diary: 27th September

On the way back from a fab night at the RVT. Imagine two black trannies miming the final scene of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane then morphing into a Nigerian lady about to be deported, being rescued by Wonder Woman. Oh, and done as a musical.


Tube Diary: 29th September

Went to see The Judas Kiss last night with Sir Nicholas. Although Wilde’s downfall is well known, it was still very compelling. Plus, if onstage nudity’s your thing, there were seven actors on stage and three of them got their knobs out. Even the destitute Oscar remarked, ‘We can’t just live on cock.’


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