5.30. And not a moment too soon.
‘Have a fun weekend John, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, ha ha’.
‘Ha ha, yes, nice one Lewis, you have a good one too mate…’
I’ll try my best not to ever do anything you might do. You sad cunt. Lewis. Team leader. Still evidently buoyant from his profuse & hackneyed spastic enthusiasms at this morning’s little pep talk for the ‘team’…
‘We -media sales executives- oil the wheels of commerce…’
…Oil the next arsehole Rupert Murdoch’s decided to fuck for all it’s worth perhaps. Even leaving my political quasi-conscience aside, who the fuck wants to be some kind of a glorified fucking lubricant anyway? Cunt.
* * *
In the bar Mark’s already got a round in, and from the look of that jaw, made a quick visit to the bathroom. Amber, in her clipped & abrasive jewish-princess-gone-awry megaphone of a voice, appears to be regaling everyone with more intimate details of her latest sexual exploits. As I sit down my ear catches the phrase ‘ …I nearly shat all over the place…’ as my eyes catch those of Holly- who blushes furiously and looks down at her drink. Mark, it seems, has observed this little scenario and, coke-locked jaw momentarily buckling in concession to the comedy of Holly’s debasement, breaks into the trademark east-end wideboy cackle. Amber falters a moment, but after a moments indignant pause at said profusions being perhaps not quite the center of everyone’s attention and a fleeting glare in our direction, ploughs on with her filth.
Holly says something to Claire & they head for the ladies toilet. Mark moves over to take Claire’s seat next to me.
‘I take it you showed home-counties-Holly ‘how we do’…’ he rasps in my ear, letting the lechery linger with his hot breath. I grin at him.
‘Well…she’d certainly stopped crooning about ‘how lovely I am’ by the time I’d taken it out of her arse and put it in her mouth.’
Mark straightens. Staring hard he frowns at me. I hold his stare for a good second, both our faces tense. Serious. Then his eyebrows slowly rise and ‘you cunt’ erupts from him in a fit of laughter.
‘You…dirty… cunt’ he repeats doubling over and nearly spilling his beer with laughter. ‘You don’t know no fucking limits do ya’.
In celebration of this sure-fire proof of my fundamental red-blooded male virility, Mark insists on a visit to the toilet. I’m not expecting it to have much in common with Sam and Holly’s opportunity for gossip (hot topic there inevitably being what an ‘arsehole’ -ironically enough- I am) and make-up reapplication. Although we will, in all likelihood, be powdering our noses.
En route for the toilet we’ve slammed some double tequilas at the bar and grabbed a couple more beers. Team Leader Lewis, my clients and the rest of the bullshit are starting to relinquish their grasp on the fore of my consciousness; I relax and take stock of the phenomenon that is Mark as he bends over the cistern with his rolled up tenner. He’s a big guy, dad’s a security guard, and whilst dad is quite obviously a visual ‘deterrent’ in only the most cursory sense of the word -a big softy, Mark exudes a much more distinctiv energetic self-confidence. Confidence which, whilst not exactly aggressive - he’s too smooth a seller for that -, to my eye seems sometimes to be shadowed by more than a subtle hint of menace. He snorts up a monster line and pulls himself fully upright, nearly filling the small cubicle, eyes crazy for a fraction of a second as the coke storms his bloodstream.
‘You really are a big scary bastard aren’t you?’
‘Lucky you’re my boy then, eh?’
Mark’s now buzzing nicely and smiles broadly as he passes me the rolled up tenner,
‘Come on, ya cunt, this stuff’s the shit’
Bending over the cistern I look at the line he’s made me: It’s possibly even bigger than the monstrosity he’s just snorted. I glance over my shoulder at him. He’s now grinning like a naughty schoolboy at me. I grin back at him. ‘You cunt’ I mutter as I turn back to the cistern.
* * *
The bar’s filled up a bit while we were in the toilets. I hang back to observe the bar for a quick second as Mark muscles his way back to where we’re all sitting. The usual city crowd: money-mad fools; money-mad bitches; a scattering of pseudo-rude’o’s and slags for good measure. Apparently, neutral or objective observation of sub-atomic particles is impossible since the act of observing actually disturbs the subjects in question - due, one is told, to their lack of substance and the very tenuous bonds that link them with their counterparts. With this in mind I’m not overwhelmingly surprised but instead grin wryly (and no doubt somewhat smugly and infuriatingly) at the half-dozen unspoken ‘what the fuck you lookin’ at’s’ that reciprocate my gaze.
Invigorated by my little moment of smug reflection, I make once more for the bar. Returning to our table with the drinks I see Zack Cohen coming towards me. He sees me and grins.
‘Alright Zack, how’re you mate?’
‘All good, listen, we got a limo coming a bit later, going down to Brighton on a mash-up tonight, you on it?’
I grin at him.
‘What the fuck do you think? My old stomping ground, innit’.
‘Oh Yeah, I always forget about you, old high-minded intellect John’
‘Fuck off… but yeah, I’m well up for Brighton, just gimme a shout when you leave’
‘Yeah, no problem professor, Amber and Lynds and a few others on it too’
* * *
I get back to the table and have just time to knock the shots back, snatch a quick sip of my pint and catch an imploring look from Holly before Mark’s dragging me off to the toilet again.
* * *
Zack’s a local estate agent and, unburdened as is by a conscience, a fairly prosperous one. Having persuaded him to invite Mark along I now find myself crammed in between Mark’s rather impressive bulk and the window. The limo’s a fairly ostentatious stretch job, but since, as Mark tactfully puts it, ‘flashy Jew cunt invited half the fucking pub’, it feels more like a mini full of fat blokes right now. Having finished his coke before we left Mark is now preoccupied with finding some more before we find ourselves too far ‘out in the middle of fuckin’ nowhere’. I try to reassure him.
‘Look, don’t worry, we’ll sort something out mate’
‘We should fucking sort it out before we leave London’
‘I know people can sort it out in Brighton mate’
‘Yeah but I’m not after fucking poppers and k.y. am I mate?’
‘Yes, Yes, very good’
‘Look, do you want me to ask Zack if he can sort anything out before we leave London then?’
‘Don’t want any favors from that Jew cunt…’
Mark pauses and I give him a slight frown
‘…Oh go on then mate. Don’t tell ‘im I’m asking him for it though, no way pal’
I squeeze my way over to where Zack is being entertained by Amber.
‘Alright bruv, listen, you know someone could sort out some Charlie before we leave London?’
Zack reaches into his pocket and hands me a fair sized wrap.
‘Have some of that instead mate. Listen. Why doesn’t your mate Mark just ask me himself?’
‘Nah mate, I just wanted…’
‘It’s cool mate. I don’t really give a fuck one way or the other I just…’
‘Mark’s cool, he just doesn’t like asking favors off people he doesn’t really know, you know?’
‘It’s cool anyway mate.’
He winks at me
‘you’ll enjoy that.’
* * *
‘So what have you got against Zack anyway mate?’
Mark lowers his voice
‘’s a fucking Jew mate, aint he, can’t trust them can you?’
Bemusedly, somewhat awkwardly, I laugh,
‘what the fuck d’u think I am then mate, or my dad is anyway?’
‘Yeah, I mean my mum’s not, and my dad’s not practicing or nothing, but still… I’m Jewish of sorts… you can’t trust me?’
In so far as such a thing is possible in a small, enclosed space containing, amongst others, a fairly drunk Amber, a somewhat pregnant silence develops. Mark raises his eyebrows at me.
‘Trust you? Fuck no!’
We both burst into laughter.
* * *
By the time we get to Brighton we’re in a right state. Zack’s wrap turned out to contain about half ounce of very fine coke, and Mark decided the easiest way to snort it was just to stick the rolled up note straight into the pile and hoover away. I managed to avoid quite such a punishing dosage as Mark’s, but just barely (and I’m fucked). By the end of the journey we were laughing less frequently, and what laughing we did had not so much lad-ish gusto as a fairly harsh self-conscious-God -I’m-fucked paranoiac edge to it. Out of the Limo though, Mark soon recovers his vigor and we all find ourselves standing around listening to him discuss our prospective plans for the rest of the night with Zack and Amber. Except Mark’s not so much discussing plans as disagreeing with everything Zack proposes just because he can, while Amber provides a running commentary of her conquests to date in the various establishments mentioned. This little exchange taking place at the bottom of West Street, a fairly loudly vulgar setting for a Friday night spent even in the easiest company; the combined weight of the Local-White-Trash and London-Media-Yuppie vulgarity alike induces a sensation in my already wired brain that can only really be described cryptically: halfway between psychosis and a moment of clarity. Clarity just about prevailing, I mutter that I’m going for a piss and run, across the road and on to the beach.
* * *
It’s drizzling rain so no-one’s hanging around on the beach and the cool and relative quiet calms me down a bit, as does the piss I’ve needed since we left London. I’ve just zipped up and am bracing myself to return to West Street when-
‘John, it’s me, Peter, you rem…’
‘Peter, Post-Modernist Peter, fuck … how the hell are you mate?’
‘Good, good, how’re you mate’
‘Yeah, yeah, Good. A bit fucked actually right now mate, ha, fuck, it’s good to see you, what you up to these days?’
‘I Just handed in my dissertation this week actually so, er, yeah, I’m planning on getting pretty trashed myself tonight’
‘Nice, nice, where you off to then?’
‘Oh I’m actually going…’
‘Hang on a second mate.’
I grin and catch Peter’s eye. We share a snigger.
‘You’re dressed all in PVC under that overcoat aren’t you’
Peter just grins and nods at me.
‘You’re going to one of those special nights aren’t you, you dirty fucker’
Peter just grins and nods some more.
‘I bet you’ve got a shit-load of dirty pills in your pocket haven’t you’
Peter’s grin breaks into a full-fledged smile:
‘Better than that John, pure MDMA powder. I am going to be high as a fucking kite.’
We’re both smiling ear to ear.
‘So what are you up to?’
‘Oh, just with a load of people from work, we’re just down here out on the town for the night…’
‘Look John, I’m late to meet some people, why don’t you come along with mate.’
‘Yeah, you sure?’
‘Yeah, of course mate, I haven’t seen you in ages, it’ll be fucking great!’
‘Cool, let’s go then… hang on, shouldn’t you let your workmates know’
‘Oh, yeah, I’ll, er, I’ll send them a text mate, let’s go’
* * *
We’re approaching the club and I’m really relaxing into Peter’s company. We were in a house-share with some other people from our courses in our second year at uni, all studying English or philosophy, and I think I must have forgotten how much I prefer intellectual conversation -or even just the pseudo-intellectual highly pretentious variety I almost invariably produce instead- to the more aggressive testosterone-fueled ‘banter’ of Mark and the likes. I really like Peter. Well, I certainly like, and am evidently responding well to, all the MDMA powder he’s given me anyway. We’re taking a shortcut through an alleyway that leads to the club when I stop.
‘Hang on a sec mate, how am I going to get into a mixed-sexuality bondage night in my fucking work-suit?’
Peter looks duped for a second, then grins. The light in the alleyway is poor giving his grinning face a demonic look.
‘Well, I’m covered in PVC all over so you can wear my overcoat and…’
he produces something small and black from his pocket
‘…the gimp mask!’
* * *
We arrive at the club entrance still chuckling at my commuter-turned-gimp outfit. We dabbed a load more MDMA powder before arriving and Peter’s stashed the rest in his ‘gimp-suit’. The PVC is so tight to his skin I can see him having difficulty getting it out, but we’ve done quite enough for now and I’m not that worried. There’s a bit of a queue but Peter spots his mates near the front and we join them. I’m introduced to them and they’re all really friendly. One of them, who I assume to be a transvestite and introduces herself as Tania, is particularly friendly. As the queue condenses she’s pressed up against me and, mouth to my ear, whispers
‘Hmm, nice mask, it’s a shame I can’t see more of you yet though. You certainly feel very
* * *
Once inside I deposit Pete’s overcoat and my Jacket, shirt and tie in the cloakroom. Wearing just my vest, black trousers and the gimp-mask I don’t feel too out of place with the general aesthetic of the club, and anyway I’m now too busy coming-up very fucking strongly on the MDMA and taking in the sights to really care. Pete appears at my side, grinning to the point of starting to guern, and puts his arm around me.
‘It’s fucking good to see you mate’
‘You too, Pete, fucking Superb, fucking superb Post-Modernist Peter!’
‘PVC-Pete tonight mate! I’m not talking any fucking theory tonight mate. No way! Tonight my friend, my mouth might well be used for screaming, for guerning, for licking, even sucking. But not for talking fucking drugged-up pseudo-theory, no way. Oh yeah, and possibly for ingesting some more drugs? ’
I know that it’s lost on Pete because I’m wearing the gimp mask, but I can’t help smiling at this.
‘Well, if you insist...’
* * *
About an hour later me and Pete are slouched in a corner next to the toilets, chewing our faces off and talking drugged-up pseudo-theory. We’d finished the MDMA powder in the toilets and then decided to separate and explore the club individually, meeting back at the toilets after.
‘It’s a fucking sea of leather, PVC, fishnet and flesh man, you can fucking smell the sex
in here Pete’
‘I Know mate, this place, it’s carnivalesque.’
‘What I love is the fucking artistry that’s gone into it all, that Tania for instance...’
‘I know mate. It’s like being in a fucking… a fucking pornographic vision of the fourth
order of simulation, you know?’
‘I think so, yeah...’
‘You know Baudrillard, career pretentious post-modern theorist like I’m aspiring towards? Talks about how our culture of the image has no relation to any reality whatsoever, it’s just one
big simulacrum, one big fucking carnival of images-’
‘-And there’s nothing but the fucking images, yeah, it’s a big old free-for-all where if it’s got the image it’s got the fucking essence...’
‘-‘Coz there is no fundamental fucking essence. No essence, no limits, just infinite fucking images and self-created realities’
‘Yeah too right mate, I’m not just wearing a mask mate, I am a fucking gimp!’
We collapse on each other laughing at this.
‘It’s like, why do blokes like lingerie and conventional porn so much? ‘Coz it objectifies women, celebrates the fucking image over the essence, you know?’
‘With all it’s promises of instant gratification, it’s promise of yet more such images and, fucking, yet more objectification. Can certainly be a lot more fun than the troublesome pseudo-fucking-humanism of a conventional bourgeois hetro relationshit.’
‘With that in mind mate I think I have myself a mission Pete.’
‘What’s that then matey’
‘The, er, exemplary simulation, the ultimate celebration of the cult of the image. The ultimate objectification of woman.’
Then Pete starts to smile.
‘Oh I see...’
‘Oh Yeah. Yes indeed. I salute you sir, post-modern warrior that you are. You virile red blooded male you!’
* * *
As we step into the light outside the club I go to take my mask off. Tania puts her arms around me and stops me. She puts her mouth to my ear again as she squeezes against me, this time actually licking my inner ear as she whispers,
‘Don’t you dare take it off. I don’t want to see your face until after you’ve fucked mine.’
I’m not going to argue.
* * *
Aware of someone following us into the alleyway, I am turning around as I hear them gaining on us, when I’m struck to the ground. Tania runs on through the alleyway towards the next street screaming for help. I can’t see very well because the light in the alleyway is poor and my mask has slipped over one eye, but an imposing figure is standing over me. Barely coherent, sounding crazed and not a little drunk, this figure is shouting at me.
‘You dirty facking cuntss, you facking faggots, one in a cunting mask, other dressed up like a facking girl, you facking cunts...’
He kicks twice, my stomach and then the groin. Stepping back, he sways into the light for a second-
‘You dirty facking cuntss...’
pulling himself upright, he draws his leg back to kick me again I recognise his face.
‘You dirty cunts’
‘You don’t know no fucking limits do ya’