The fridge became redundant in the winter. They were on pay as you go gas but no one ever went nor paid when the cost of heating became plain 4 days into winter, 6 days after they moved in. It was generally accepted that winter always came at the wrong time. It was freezing outside and often colder in the house. Milk and yoghurts therefore could be kept anywhere. Showers however, were hell but could be put off until spring when it was silently presumed that someone would crack, go and pay. Old people die in the cold houses, but they weren’t old so they smoked more instead. Some of the more resourceful bought vitamin pills. Nobody gave much thought to buying gas.
It was a new flat, at least it was redecorated before they moved in. The walls were a fresh dirty white, the chairs in a box and the brand new couch was hideous. For six days they lived without mugs. Drinking from tupperwear and plastic bottles. Then Maria’s parents gave the house some old cups. For 2 days they drank from cups.
Then, gradually all the cups became ashtrays and they drank from tupperwear again.
Until very recently they had made tea by frying water and ladling it into a tupper wear, a pet bottle or during the days when they had cups, cups. Now they made tea by boiling water in a pan. They talked about getting a kettle but no one ever did. It was that kind of house, temporary and unwanted. All expenditure on fixed communal items was resented like a cleft lip.
The landlord had provided them with a table for the kitchen and some chairs. The table had potential so did the chairs but they were flat packed. Nobody had a screwdriver, nobody knew anyone with a screw driver and nobody was inclined to buy a screwdriver so they put everything up without any screws. It was a hollow victory for short-termism. The table and chair’s limited potential was never to be realized consequently everything and everyone in the kitchen rested at all times precariously. Broken shards of glass steadily began to saturate the floor soon after the table’s erection, soon after still the residents brought slippers.
Rats came on the 4th week. At least that was when they were discovered. Heard at night but never seen in the day they avoided the glue traps. Sawdust was found by the door by the bite marks that Maria said suggested badger rather than rat. Maria stopped sleeping and started writing shit poetry to compensate.
Sometimes friends came round to analyse the milk. Why’ve you got 4 litres of milk that expired in November in here. And what’s that wine bottle with the fag end in it doing in there?
ALEXANDER AND CRITICISM
I fucking hate the Killers
A sensible position. The only position some might say. However Alexander’s credibility was undermined by his loathing of everything produced since he picked up a guitar. That was in 1993. It allowed him the Smiths but barred Blur.
He was very good with the guitar but his band were terrible. He was attractive though so all his spouses listened reverentially to his opinions.
The problem is that when everyone you know is in a band, some of them have to be rubbish. No – most of them have to be rubbish. The problem is when you like them as people. They are nice and good natured, very good at their instrument. But still rubbish. Everyone knows the euphemisms for rubbishness when they hear them. This is particularly the case when everyone they know is in a rubbish band as well.
Alexander pretended not to know but deep down he definitely did.
MARIA AND THE PENSIONER
Maria had long straight brown hair and eyes that you couldn’t look into for long. Her clothes always suited her figure and her way of sitting always attracted attention.
If men want to see my vagina let them see it. Philanthropy is a dying art.
Maria was loved. But only by all those she didn’t love. She loved people until they loved her. Life was tricky, but she came easily so it wasn’t that bad.
Most of her friends had slept with her. Most of them were in love with her. That was their problem. Her boyfriend said he loved her but didn’t. She knew this and so hey remained relatively happy. On the nights he wasn’t with her he fucked someone else. He repeated himself, but none of his victims heard anything twice. He was fond of Maria though; she was almost as attractive as he was.
Maria looked delicate but was brutal. She could dissect everyman’s intentions from two sentences. She met a man at a house party, he was called George.
Oh you live in East London. Me too!
He wants to meet for drinks and then have sex with me.
Lets go for drinks sometime…
As I thought.
He looks like the sort who will pay.
They did have drinks, he did pay and they did have sex. He took her number and texted her twice afterwards. She looked at the texts. He loved her too much.
The old guy next door’s wife had died and didn’t speak to many people. His face sagged and everything he said bored people. People pitied him but still avoided him. That wasn’t very difficult however as he left the house only to go to the post office on Tuesdays to collect his pension.
One day Maria took a lot of coke and decided she would go and keep him company.
She rang the doorbell, sure that this was the best idea that she had ever had. He opened the door with his mouth open. Thick white spittle was stuck in the corners. He hadn’t spoken to a human that wasn’t a post office clerk for more than 3 weeks. It was 8pm when Maria arrived beaming gormlessly.
What do you want?
I just thought I would POP by and say hello see how you are…
The old man, who was called Gus studied her for a moment.
You have never POPPED by before, why now?
Maria lost a little of her idiotic composure
I just thought thaaa….
You just thought you’d taketoo many fucking drugs and thought you would talk to that sad bastard charity case of an old fuck next door for a laugh didn’t you?
Gus shut the door, Maria went back to her flat
BOOKS AND DUKE
Duke looked around at their sparsely decorated flat. There was nothing on the wall. The wall was white. Maybe dirty Patagonia. Some of the dirty Patagonia had come off with blue tack in some earlier age.
Was Patagonia a place? Duke wondered aloud.
If it was, was it dirty white and if not why was the color of his walls named after it. He resolved to Google it when the neighbors next turned on their wireless. This was usually between the hours of 6pm and 11pm . That was a long time away and when the time came he had completely forgotten and instead went on Facebook where he became absorbed in looking at the pictures of the girls he had befriended in cafés recently and less recently.
Duke often hung in cafes; sure that the book he was reading held the key. That is, the key to sleeping with the girls. Nobody was quite sure where he got this belief from, but some put it down to his lack of sexual activity in childhood, when he couldn’t distinguish between a good book and a John Grisham. They suspected that he had calculated that his sexual activity was inversely related to the number of crime thrillers he was reading. Extrapolating from that, he came to the conclusion that books, books that suggested depth of personality and breeding can substitute for personality.
He was always on the lookout. Looking out over his book. He had been carrying around 100 years of Solitude for a month now. He’d had a conversation about Columbian authors with a nice old man but it didn’t lead to anything except the mutual understanding that Duke hadn’t read any other Columbian writer.
It had been 6 months since he’d last been on a date. It hadn’t gone well. The last of his self respect left him as he looked after her bags while his love interest threw herself at a half wit in a hat. Troubled but not worried he had gone through the dictionary on his phone learning new words. She would come back to him. And she did about 45 minute later to collect her stuff. She was going to an “afterparty”. It was clear though that the after party would involve just her, the man and the hat. Duke took his leave and went. He was a little despondent on the way back. She would see sense – he read Huxley, the other guy, he just had a hat. Sustained on this evidence short assumption he thought about new books to read in cafes. Having toyed with The Trial he had eventually settled on Huckleberry Finn by the time he got home. The inner child, a risqué sense of abandon, a naïve romantic – this is what he thought it suggested.
It hadn’t worked, next came Tender Is the Night, that got him Amelia, but she deleted him after his first message. After the initial success of Amelia he persisted for months with F. Scott Fitzgerald but to no avail and eventually he switched to 100 years of Solitude with an equal lack of success. It was time to change book or maybe, duke considered, it was time to change tack completely.
THE HOUSE PARTY
They listened to dire straits they, enjoyed it ostentatiously but secretly earnestly. Their facial hair suggested undesirable hobbies. They had hobbies. That were occupations . They made money, took plant fertilizer.
Maria was downstairs shagging the man who had looked like he was the best shag.
Sebastian was making lines of methadrone for the crowd. He had brought in bulk recently at a very low cost. He looked generous. It was all conceited. People gave him coke in return. It was a plan well played.
The group had become friends more or less by default. The one thing they all had in common was that nobody would wish the sofa upon anybody. Its style was akin to the couch that your grandparents’ gave your parents during the recession and then thrown out with the election of New Labor.
The music was good, everybody had good shoes. Everybody in Hackney does. Even if they don’t always have gas.
There were at least 4 people in love with each other at the party. They were all with people they weren’t in love with. So it all went unsaid.
The neighbors were lesbians and Spanish so it was thought that they would be understanding about the noise. The neighbors meanwhile were readying their noise pollution writ.
Scattered around the room lay cans. One pound a can, six for five pound. There was a warehouse party next door that was neglected. They should have used it for then the neighbors would have been less pissed off, but still probably lesbian.
There was a man in on the couch. His phone rang sometimes, It did not wake him up. The strangers in the kitchen ate cereal. One was for sure a lazy lover. His eyes gave it away. They woman he was with knew as much. She has the look of an a person in need. Very dynamic; She got lots of things done but never got done properly.
In East London everybody is a dj. Most people are in bands. Nobody calls their parents often enough. People found warmth wherever they could. Some people used curtains some people sat on the radiator, some people stole clothes, everybody else just smoked.
Someone opened the curtains. It got cold. Someone closed them again. It was agreed that no-one would open the curtains again
The curtains themselves were quite rank. But it was generally agreed that the party was a success.