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WEDNESDAY 12 NOVEMBER 2003

OLD MAN'S SWEETHEART
YOUNG MAN'S SLAVE
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It went off at 7.40am and I just stared at it and cursed. Didn’t it know I’d been drinking wine with Frances since 7pm the night before, our shoes off and our legs curled up, my thumbnail scoring noughts and crosses in the fat tan leather of the pub’s sofa? She told me about the night she dressed up in a sparkly cardigan for Popstarz rather than her usual black jacket and red tie and skinny trousers and nothing underneath, and how she didn’t take any speed that night, and how it was her turn that night to get pushed up against the wall by the skate girl with the chain hanging off her jeans, and how the girl was getting off on how elegant Frances was and Frances was getting off on how this girl was playing the role Frances normally did, and I felt stars and supernova in my pelvis at my best friend’s secret pastlife. Didn’t it know that? Didn’t it know about the wine with Richard after, that tasted of oxblood polish and holly berries and smoke, and how I drank it from the glass in my right hand while pressing the ‘X’ on the videogame controller with my left, watching Kaori arch and flip in the sky in slowmotion replay while snowflakes and cellshaded towerblock windows whirled behind? Slamming my fist into my heart and then waving it into the air as I watched her snowboard-skid across the finish line and get me the high score for the thousandth time? Didn’t it know? Dogfuckerbastard. Stupid Palmpilot alarm motherfuck. There’s no way in hell I’m getting up when it tells me to.

' You’ll be an old man’s sweetheart, but a young man’s slave'. I’m going to marry the man on the 9.15 Woolwich Ferry, I am. I’m going to pluck the hairs from his ears. They’ll be white and wiry, thicker than pubes. I’ll hold them between the slanted tips of the Wilkinson Sword tweezers I use for my eyebrows. It might bleed, inside his ear, but the hairs will be gone. He’ll wince. The blood will spot on the peach tissue. When he winces, his eyebrows twitch. Then I’ll see the long one. Curling upwards to the pink crevice on his forehead, like it’s tired and wants to lie down in there, take root. I’ll pull it too. It’ll come easy enough. I’ll get the end and tease it straight. I’ll put the tweezers to my lips and taste it and I’ll snip it into shreds with my top and bottom teeth. My teeth will meet with a click. Later I’ll sit at his feet and he’ll put his fat rough hands down on my shoulders and tell me how he used to be a coal miner. His vest will be always kept nice for me. He had a laddered one, but I made him throw it out. I think that was when I fell in love. I see the other one looking at me on the ferry sometimes, the young one with the cap on his head that the brown hair hangs under. He wears tracksuit trousers and he puts his head down and he smiles. I know he has the Nike symbol tattooed on his long pale buttocks, because he showed me once, in the engine room, by the coil of rope.


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