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David C Dawson's blog

Election

Some things Posted on Fri, January 20, 2017 08:48:16

Election

Elsie
Simpkins had defrauded the voting slips in the constituency of South Shindle
for the last eighteen years. This was to be the fifth general election result
she had fixed. From the very start, it had been so easy. As an unmarried school-teacher,
chair of the W.I. and more recently, the first woman lay-preacher at St James
the Less, she was beyond reproach.

Elsie
volunteered to be a polling clerk shortly after her fortieth birthday. Her
application to replace the retiring head of the small Church of England school,
where she had taught for nineteen years, was rejected by the governors. They
chose to appoint a dynamic, younger man called Eric Buttles. As Elsie’s only
route to a headship would have been to move to another school in another town,
she continued to teach in the infants’ class. She busied herself with minor
roles of responsibility in the community. Her application to be a polling clerk
was successful, and it was not long before she became the Presiding Officer, in
charge of counting the ballot papers for the constituency of South
Shindle. The small fees she got for both
council and general elections, paid for her annual holiday to Felixstowe.

That
was where she met John Markham. He was a young man with brilliant blue eyes,
and a missionary zeal to change the world. They had collided trays in the Cosy
Teapot one wet afternoon, and he gallantly offered to reserve a seat for her,
while she went to the ladies’ to soak the tea stain on her coat. As the rain
poured down outside, he talked about his life and his ambitions. He had grown
up in Norfolk. When he was eight, his parents told him he was adopted. That his
biological mother had abandoned him as a baby. He spoke warmly about his
adoptive parents. Liberal thinkers who had been environmentalists long before
it was fashionable. He went to study at Downing College Cambridge, where he
became politically active in the Labour Party. Now, at the age of twenty-six,
he was to be the party’s youngest candidate in the forthcoming General
Election, standing for the constituency
of South Shindle.

Elsie
and John talked long after the rain had stopped. When they came to say goodbye,
Elsie wished him well, and John asked to see her again.

Four
weeks’ later, his resounding victory was a surprise for the pollsters, South
Shindle was a Conservative stronghold. They were no less surprised when he won
the following three elections with similar, substantial majorities.

Elsie
sat regarding herself in the mirror, thinking about what dress to wear for her
fifth General Election. She opened the middle drawer of the dressing table, and
pulled out a rosary box. It was the only surviving remnant of her hated
Catholic upbringing. At fourteen, she had been raped by a boy from the Jesuit
school. She was forbidden an abortion, and when she gave birth to a healthy boy,
he was immediately taken into care. She opened the rosary box and took out a
hospital nametag. A kindly nurse had kept it for her. The letters were faded,
but the name John Simpkins was still clearly visible.



Internalised

Some things Posted on Wed, January 18, 2017 15:52:57

Internalised

I know it’s an
addiction. But it’s not like a real drug. I could give it up, anytime. Easy.
But why should I? It’s a buzz, it’s a high. Sets me up for the week.

It’s my escape. From
this shitty life. I need it, I deserve it. I work hard. I pay the bills,
working that crap job every day. Then all the shit at home. Especially after
the boy was born.

I sometimes think,
what’s wrong with it anyway? If it makes me feel good, if it’s not hurting
anyone. Then I remember what they say, what they’ve always said. The way they
look at the rest of them. What they say about them. Papa would kill me. Mama
would be heartbroken.

The barman always stops
me after a while. Usual six or seven. He knows. He’s watching. I always have
this rum cocktail. It’s called a Mojito, fresh mint, lots of ice.

I remember the first
time I had one. It was the first time I came here. I was shitting myself. I
felt so, out of it. So, dirty. I ordered a beer, and the barman looks at me as
if I’d grown two heads. Then I realised, they weren’t drinking beers. They all
looked so cool, drinking these cocktails. Faggot drinks.

And the barman makes
some kind of joke about my beer, which I didn’t get. Thought he was messing
with me. But he told me to chill. Offers me a Mojito – on the house. Can’t
refuse that. And hey, it’s pretty good. So I throw it back real quick, and get
another.

The barman’s real
friendly, wants to talk. But I don’t want to talk. I just want to watch. See
what they do.

A lot of them are real
disgusting. Like, they’ve got no shame. I just sit there. And watch. And get
another drink. They’re kissing, many of them are stripped to the waist, and
dancing, and their bodies are everywhere, folding into each other. Some of them
are so young, real young guys. They look so – in ecstasy – and it’s disgusting.

And I want it so bad. I
get hard, and I wish I didn’t. I know I should just go, get out of here. Papa’s
face comes into my head. I feel guilty, and I try to shake him out. Then I look
around me again. And it’s just – good. I drink it all in. And I keep it in my
head, so when Sitora wants me to fuck her, I close my eyes, and remember this.
Then I can stay hard, even though I hate it.

Shit, why am I like
this? What did I do that was so bad? God is punishing me for something. He must
hate me so much, to make me feel this way. I want to give it up, I really do,
but I can’t.

I tell the barman to
get me another drink, and he says, maybe it’s time to call it a night. Fuck
him.

I think he knows I’ve
got a wife and kid back home. Or at least he suspects, even if I’ve taken the
ring off. He says he’ll get me a cab.

It’s not like I’m one
of them. I’ll go home, leave them, but I’ll come back.

Written after the murders at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida on 12th June 2016



Archibald

Some things Posted on Sat, January 14, 2017 11:27:38

Archibald

He’s battered and frayed, he’s lost an eye and some of his
stuffing is beginning to leak out.

I’ve put him on the shelf by the TV, where I can always see
him when I sit here. His one button eye, squinting at me.

John said he was the first toy he ever had when he was a
baby, but I can’t believe that. I mean, who would give a teddy bear with button
eyes that are wired in, to a baby? It’s not safe.

It doesn’t matter. John gave him to me, that first Christmas when
we moved in here, five years ago. “A bear for a bear,” he said. His most
treasured possession, and he gave him to me. John said his sister had called
him Archibald Bear, so that’s always been his name.

Marion, John’s sister, is the only one from his family who’s
ever kept in touch. She came to visit us soon after we moved to LA. John’s mum
and dad never did. They didn’t want to meet me. He used to go visit them once a
year, alone, usually just before Thanksgiving. They live up in Oregon.

Marion was here, the night John was shot. There was a knock
at the door. I was in the bathroom and John was out, so Marion answered it.

I heard men’s voices. Then I heard her kind of moan, like an
almost animal cry. When I came into the living room, there were two cops there.
They’d just told her about the shooting. Marion was all hunched up on the
couch, just hugging herself and rocking.

When we got to the hospital, the medics said they were doing
everything they could. But he died. John died at 8:23pm on Thursday the 10th
June.

The hospital said it wasn’t possible for me to see his body,
as I wasn’t related. I said I’d been his boyfriend for nearly six years. But
they said that didn’t count. They needed the permission of his parents.

His mom and dad arrived the next day. Marion went to meet
them at LA X, and they took a cab straight to the hospital. They didn’t let me
see his body.

Marion rang me to say his mom was coming to the apartment to
collect all John’s things and take them back home. I said we shared everything;
we were practically married for chrissake.

John’s mom didn’t fight about it. She said she just wanted
some pictures, a few of his clothes and John’s old baseball stuff, from college
days. I hid Archibald, so I got to keep him.

They wouldn’t let me go to the funeral. Jeez, they wouldn’t
even tell me when it was. Marion called to say it was happening, but she said
it was probably best I didn’t go. John’s dad was looking to cut up real rough
and was talking about getting a court order to exclude me. John used to tell me
his dad is devout Presbyterian and uses words like abomination and crap like
that.

Marion had a big row with them about the funeral. She’s moved
out to Seattle now and won’t talk to any of her family. When you think about
it, she’s not only lost her kid brother, but the whole lot of them. She’s
coming down to stay in a few weeks. I think I’ll give her Archibald.



Thoughts of my Mother

Some things Posted on Thu, September 08, 2016 21:27:23

Thoughts
of my mother

Remember the time, remember the place?

Remember the moment, remember the face?

Was it then, are you sure, did he really say that?

Did he always possess such a ridiculous hat?

We sit on the sofa and talk of the past.

I forget many things, but your memory is vast!

It holds every detail; it’s sharp as a knife.

It vividly paints the real pictures of life.

Our history, we’re told, is momentous and fine:

The war, the Depression, those significant times.

But you’ve made it so clear how our family is key,

They’re the people to think of; they should matter to me.

The dates of their birthdays, all the things that they’ve
done,

The people they’ve met, or the battles they’ve won.

No detail’s too small, no moment too minor,

No crisis is trivial, no triumph is finer.

For most of my life, work has stolen its share

Of my time, an excuse for not being there,

Or turning up late, always failing to see

That the person who’s missed out on real life is me.

Your values are constant, they are family and friends.

Love unconditional, old wounds always mends.

I’ve been so slow to learn it, but I hope that you see,

That I love you for teaching this lesson to me.



Real Life

Some things Posted on Thu, September 08, 2016 21:22:17

REAL LIFE

Andy adjusted the
corset and regarded himself in the mirror. He wondered idly if he could turn
the medical necessity into a fashion statement. Not with his scrawny body, he
concluded, as he pulled a black polo neck over his head and tucked it into the
waistband of his trousers. Already, the corset chafed the underside of his
scraggy male breasts. Andy pictured the end of this day, when he could release
himself from the torturous device.

He picked up a New
York Times from the news stand on the corner, and walked the two blocks to his
regular coffee shop. It was only April but the early morning sky was blue and
he felt the faint warmth of the sun on his face. Despite the sunshine, he
avoided the tables on the sidewalk and found a booth at the back of Carlo’s,
where he could avoid the stares of the curious.

As he flicked through
the pages of the newspaper, a headline made him pause. “SOLANAS RELEASED” was all it said. Andy
laid the paper carefully on the table. He lit another Marlborough. There was no
photo. But he could picture her face clearly, as though she was before him
right now. Once more he saw her raise the gun. He instinctively covered his
face, as he had done three years ago.

“You alright, Mr Warhol?” Carlo
was placing a cup of soupy black coffee on the table. “Somethin’ wrong
with your eyes?”

Andy lowered his hands
and looked up at the coffee shop owner. He shook his head. “I’m
fine Carlo. Just not been sleeping so well. The coffee will fix it.”

Carlo picked up the
newspaper and looked at the open page. “What the hell’s
John Lennon still doing with that Chinese chick? She’s seriously
going to screw him up.” He dropped the paper back on the table. “You’re
a friend of his, Mr Warhol. Can’t you talk some sense into him?”

Andy took a final drag
on his cigarette. “Carlo, she’s good for John. I envy him, having someone like that. I never used
to believe in love. I always though that everybody winds up kissing the wrong
person goodnight. Maybe John and Yoko are an exception.”

Carlo shrugged and
walked away. Andy picked up the paper and read the first few lines of the Solanas
story. “Radical feminist Valerie Solanas, who shot pop artist Andy Warhol in
June 1968, walked free from gaol yesterday, less than three years after the
shooting. Solanas, 35, wrote the SCUM Manifesto, which calls for the
elimination of men from society.
” The corset dug deeper into his chest, a
daily reminder of the injuries that had nearly killed him.

On the corner of East
16th Street, Andy pushed open the heavy metal door of the Factory. As always, he
was the first one there. In the distance, the shrill, insistent ring of a
telephone cut through the sunlit studio space. He walked over to the small
kitchen area. He paused, his hand above the receiver. It was as if he was
re-watching the scene from three years ago. Valerie had been standing behind
him then, as he had picked up the phone. He looked around, but there was no one
here. It was like watching a scene from TV. He only felt half there. The
ringing stopped as he put the receiver to his ear.

“Still an early riser, Andy you shit?” The
woman’s voice rasped in his ear and he closed his eyes, breathing.

“Saw you’d moved the
studio. But I took a punt on you keeping your number. Still painting that
consumer crap? Coke bottles, soup cans? Why don’t you do some
more, like that lovely mushroom soup your mama made? Still love your mama Andy?
Fuck knows why that bitch dumped an asshole like you on the world.” The
voice paused and Andy could hear the woman take a long slow drag on a
cigarette.

“Listen to me, little man. I’ve
got your number. And I’m going to get you. Any day now.”



Rags to Riches

Some things Posted on Thu, September 08, 2016 21:16:46

Rags
to Riches

So I was sat with Marjorie in front of the TV, as we do, on
a Saturday night. She was snoring away. I was waiting for the woman with the
balls to come on. Marjorie’s snored since, well whenever. Since we were weekly
boarders at the Convent in 1948 and the nuns used to poke her because she kept
the other girls awake.

She’s snored since she came to live with me after Herbert
died. Drives me mad. I could kill her. Except she’s my sister.

So the woman with the balls comes on, then the man calls out
the numbers and I don’t have to write them down because we always have the same
numbers. I have my birthday, Herbert’s birthday, mum and dad’s birthday and the
Queen’s official birthday. Marjorie has mum and dad’s birthday and the Queen’s
birthday just like me. Then she has her birthday and the day she got engaged.
She never married.

I just stared. The numbers came up. There was mum’s, dad’s
and the Queen’s birthday. Then blow me, Marjorie’s, and the day she got engaged.
They all came up. I leaned over and gave her a poke. Seventeen million. Bloody
hell Marjorie. Seventeen million. But she didn’t say anything. And the snoring
had stopped. So I poked her again.

So I’m standing there with Marjorie dead in the chair and
I’m holding her Lottery ticket thinking bloody hell. She’s gone and won and now
she’s dead. What do I do? I know she’s left all her money to the cats home. All
because of that bloody moggy with the evil eyes and the broken ear. Doted on
him even though he used to rip her candlewick to shreds. If the Lottery people
give it to her, it will all go to the cats home. That will keep them in Whiskas
for a bloody long time.

So I’m standing there hanging on the phone to the man from
the Lottery company. “Yes this is Marjorie Cantrip. I think I’ve won the
jackpot. What do I do now?” He says yes that all seems present and correct so
now they’ll send someone round tomorrow to check the ticket and make sure it’s
all kosher. I’m going to have to tidy up the lounge a bit.

I do wish Marjorie
had gone on that diet like she kept threatening. Took me ages to haul her into
the yard. The bin bags kept slipping off and her head made a hell of a bang
when it hit the kitchen step. Good job she can’t feel it. At least the lounge
is tidy. Well it will be when I’ve vacuumed. Don’t know what I’m going to do
with Marjorie but I’m sure it’ll be a lot easier to sort out when I’ve got
seventeen million in the post office.

He’s a very nice man with very shiny shoes. I opted for no publicity. He says they can
advise me on how to invest it and they can appoint a fund manager and all
sorts. Me, I just want a new bathroom. It’s embarrassing when visitors still
have to go out to the privy in the yard. He went out a couple of minutes ago. Said
he’d drunk too much tea. I’d better go and check he’s all right. Don’t want him
finding things he shouldn’t.



Green

Some things Posted on Thu, September 08, 2016 21:09:43

GREEN

“Green! How on earth can you expect
me to wear green? It’s so not my colour.”

Stuart was not happy. His partner,
Richard, waved the fabric swatches under his nose. Stuart pointedly looked away.

“It’s an important message my love,”
said Richard. “We’re making our statement about the environment. Just as we are
with the electric car.”

“And that’s another thing,”
retorted Stuart. “I’m not arriving in that electric roller skate. It’s so demeaning.”

With an effort Stuart suppressed the
anger bubbling inside him. He looked up at his partner with what he hoped were puppy
dog eyes.

“Richard. Sweet heart. Ours is
going to be the first gay wedding in Britain. Although, only just,” Stuart’s
nostrils flared momentarily. “After all, it was so nearly Trevor Ecclestone and
his ghastly twink from Portugal”.

Stuart was less upset about the
colour green, than Richard’s bid to take over the design of their wedding.
After all, he was Stuart LeVain, the twice Olivier award winning theatre
designer. As they stood in the dining room of their lovingly restored Art Deco
flat in Pimlico, the evidence of Stuart’s skill was all about them. Richard by
contrast was the heartthrob presenter of environment programmes on global
television.

“My love,” said Richard, in the warm
voice-over tone he used for his shows on armchair environmentalism. “The
world’s media will be focused on us, in a beautiful village at the heart of one
of Britain’s world environment heritage sites. It’s a perfect opportunity to
make a statement about how man’s life choices are destroying the world. The
publicity will be perfect. Please Stuart. You know that HBO is looking for a
front man for its big push into environmental programming. A green gay wedding
could do wonderful things for my prospects. It could mean two years in
California.”

Richard added this last point
enticingly, knowing his partner’s weakness for the West Coast.

“And with one green suit on the
front cover of Hello, I destroy my credibility in theatre land,” Stuart took
hold of one of the fabric swatches. “If I wear this I’ll look like Shrek. You
know I wanted white. Well cream. Dominic had set aside some beautiful cloth
he’d found loitering at the back of his storeroom months ago. In fact”, he
paused for effect, “he went and sought it out the day after I called him from
St Raphael to tell him about your beautiful proposal.”

Throughout this speech Stuart had held
his eyelids open. It forced his eyes to water. The timing was perfect. He
blinked and turned his head slightly, to let Richard see the glistening tear in
the corner of his eye.

His partner fanned out the cloth
swatches like a deck of cards. “Stuart dear. Don’t pull that damp eye trick
with me. I know what your theatrical friends teach you. Look, I don’t want us
to fall out over this my love. Perhaps we could have a horse drawn carriage
instead of the electric car…”

“White horses,” added Stuart.

“Yes of course, white horses and a
liveried groom to drive the carriage…”

“In tall boots,” added Stuart.

“You design his outfit my love. But
please, I’d like us to make a strong, green statement…”

Stuart reached for the little
pieces of of fabric, now spread across the Rennie Mackintosh table. An idea had
popped into his head. An idea that was brilliant, but devious. A dark cream
colour would suit his complexion best. Richard would never know the subterfuge.
He was colour-blind.

“Well, I’d really like a colour
that’s paler than any of these. It has to be light. Not dark and heavy. Let me
ask Dominic to find something from his little goldmine. I’ll bring it for your
approval of course.”

Richard leaned forward and kissed
Stuart gently on the lips. “I do love you,” he whispered.

Stuart melted, and his devious plan
melted away as well. How could he pull such a cheap trick on this adorable man?
On his wedding day? He looked lovingly into Richard’s eyes. “What about cream
with a green pinstripe?”



A Friend of Dorothy’s

Some things Posted on Thu, September 08, 2016 20:58:13

A Friend of Dorothy’s

Timothy
stood on the crowded underground train, the carriage packed with Friday evening
commuters. His fingers clasped tightly around the handles of his carrier bag. It held his impulse buy. A very expensive, impulse buy. What the hell he
thought. His contract had just been extended by another four months. It was his
reward, he had earned it. Tim was a researcher at Channel 6’s hit day time television
show Ey Oop It’s Elaine. He had a regular weekly salary and a flat share just off
Brixton High Road in South London. Life could not be better as far as Timothy was concerned.
And to crown it all, he had an invitation to the party of the year.

Top talent
booker Oz LeStrange, the doyenne of daytime, threw a party at a private room,
at the Vauxhall studios of Channel 6 once a year, and Timothy had an invite! It
was his passport to making it in TV.
It was all thanks to Dorothy Dimpkins,
deputy make-up artist on Wake Up To Weather! He had nearly got off with her
that Friday lunchtime at the Channel 6 local; the Red Lion. She was older than
Timothy, a lot older. At least five years. She must be nearly thirty but looked
amazing for her age.

That
lunchtime she had stared deep into his eyes as he told her all about the
brilliant booking he had made that morning. Britain’s only conjoined triplets
would be live in the studio next Wednesday. It was a coup. No other TV company
had got them. It was all thanks to Timothy, Tim the Man!

There were
lots of high fives in the office when he announced his success, coupled with
envious glowers from his co-researchers on the show. At the end of the morning,
executive producer Sandra Crow had called for him. Sandra Crow! The most
intimidating woman in TV, known as Scare Crow behind her back. She was
delighted with Timothy’s booking and promptly extended his contract.

As he recounted
all this to Dorothy he could see the glow of admiration on her face. Timothy
felt sure that he was about to score. Then came the killer blow. “Did I tell
you I’m going to Dubai this weekend?” she asked innocently. “My ex-boyfriend
does something dreadfully high powered in investments or something. Out of the
blue he’s said he’s taking me there, and on the Sunday we’re going out into the
desert on dune buggy thingies with a whole crowd of his chums and Simon
Cowell’s going to be there! Imagine! It’s going to be such fun and I just know
he’ll be looking for make-up artists on X Factor USA. It’s so exciting!”

Timothy’s
face must have betrayed the depths to which his spirit had just plummeted.

“Oh but
darling Tim! You’re the man! Tim the Man! Look, why don’t you take this? I
can’t use it because of the Dubai thingy. You must go.” That was when she
handed him the invitation to the party. “It’s the party to get noticed at”
Dorothy breathed. “Great things will happen Tim, I just know it!”

He had
failed to get off with Dorothy Dimpkins, but Tim had an invitation to a party
thrown by the great talent booking wizard Oz. You win some, you lose some, he thought.

Standing
in his deceptively spacious bedroom in Larkminster Rise, he stared admiringly
at his new, expensive purchase. A pair of cherry red Nike high ankle trainers.
Sweet. That was the only word that came into his head. His eyes caressed
them lovingly, before he turned to the important task of what outfit to wear for
the party.

Ten o’clock
that evening, Tim was in the ticket check line outside Hospitality B at
Channel 6. The red Nikes hugged his feet and ankles, the turn-ups of his blue
Beaumarchais trousers grazed the top of them. He self consciously rolled
back the cuffs of his fake Gaultier jacket, Dorothy had sneaked it out of
wardrobe for him. Tim reached the head of the line and handed over his ticket. He entered the pulsating
atmosphere of the great Oz’s party.

He took a
luminous blue cocktail from a passing tray, and felt an arm wrap itself around
his waist . A voice purred in his ear. “Well hello! Why have I not seen you
before? Tell me, are you A Friend of Dorothy’s young man?”

Timothy
turned to see that it was none other than Oz LeStrange himself. The great man
had singled him out! Perhaps Dorothy had mentioned his name to him, or maybe
even Scare Crow had mentioned him!

“Well yes”,
said Timothy turning. “I am a friend of Dorothy. And I’m a big admirer of your
work”.

The next
moment he felt a hand grab his crotch and the arm around his waist tighten.
“And I’m a big fan of your works too young man. Relieved to know that you are a
fan of Dorothy, like myself. This party was looking far too straight for my
liking.”

By 10:30 on
Monday morning everyone in the Ey Oop It’s Elaine production office had heard
about Tim the Man’s misadventures at the party of Oz. His face remained crimson
with embarrassment for much of the morning. Now he knew, that to say you were a
“friend of Dorothy” in the gay circles frequented by Oz LeStrange, meant a lot
more than being chummy with Dorothy Dimpkins.



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