Sunday, 27 December 2009

Sex Gods from the Planet Metal - Chapter One

“Mum, I don’t want eggs today.”
“Don’t be silly, David. Just eat them, will you.”
“I can’t! I’ll fart all afternoon, everybody will hate me because of my rancid bottom, I’ll fail my exams, become a social dropout, live on the streets and finally die whilst holding up a McDonalds to finance my heroin addiction. All because of you, my loving, caring mother. Would you be happy with that?”
“I think I could live with it.”
“Don’t worry, little bruv – I’m sure it’ll all happen whether you eat your eggs or not.”
“Oh har bloody har.”
“David! Don’t swear at the table.”
“I wasn’t swearing at the table, I was swearing at him.”
“You know what I mean, now eat your eggs.”
“Can’t I have Sugar Puffs instead?”
“Hah! Sugar POOFS more like!”
“Mum! Tell him!”
“Nick, shut up. David, eat your eggs. One more word out of either of you and I will drive you to school and give you a big sloppy kiss when I drop you off.”
“I don’t go to school any more, Mum.”
“Then I’ll drive you to work.”
“It’s hardly that, either.”
It’s work experience, Nick. One day you’ll look back on it as your big start in life. Now eat your breakfast.”

Sound familiar? It should do, as I imagine similar scenes went on across the country when you were a kid, especially if you had a big brother as annoying as mine. I wasn’t kidding about the eggs, either. From a chickens bum to my mouth, they would do things to my arse that would have had hardened Japanese World War Two torturers begging for mercy and asking for the recipe. They (the eggs, not the Japanese torturers) would spend a few hours meandering around my insides before making their big escape attempt in as noisy and whiffy a way as possible, making anyone within a six feet radius of me hate my guts, and justifiably so.

It was that most terrible day of all terrible days: the first of a new school year. The year of our Lord (or your Lord, anyway – I prefer a healthy diet of atheism) was 1985, and I was at the Adrian Mole classic age of thirteen and three quarters, ready to start as a third year at Comprehensive school. At that age everything is important, and nothing as much as the respect of your peers. I was understandably confused that my mum wanted me to gain this by poisoning as many of them as possible. I still don’t understand what drove anyone to eat eggs for the first time, as I can’t believe that they struck lucky first time. There must have been a torturous trial period of chomping down on things that fell from animals bums (known as the “bad breath and disappointment age”) before finally getting it right.

The above is typical of the sort of weird thoughts that scampered through my teenage mind like hamsters on acid. I always wanted to know “why”, which lead my teachers to praise me for my inquisitive mind and my father to clout me round the head for being, as he so eloquently put it, a “nosy little bleeder”. In fairness , they were probably both right, and I was a nosy little bleeder with an inquisitive mind. That particular morning was dad-less as usual, as he always left for work before me and my brother managed to surface, donning garish lycra and pedaling fifteen miles in any weather that vengeful spirits could dream up. The rest of the family accepted this lunacy as long as he never badgered us to join him, with our collective fitness motto being “No bastard way!” The table was also sister-less, as my sister Cheryl, twenty years old going on twelve, was unlikely to allow herself to be dragged from her slumber until noon, whereupon her regime was to spend at least an hour washing her hair, followed by some serious record playing. Mum didn’t do any paid work, which is not to say that looking after my family was not work in itself. Anyone who has ever uttered the phrase “Oh, she doesn’t work, she’s a housewife” has obviously never had to run a household. My Mum’s main job seemed to be trying to get my sister to actually leave the house during daylight hours and get a job. Occasionally sis would allow herself to be dragged down to the Jobcentre, at which point she would utilize depths of creativity unrivalled by Oscar Wilde or HG Wells in explaining why she was not able to do any of the jobs that Mum selected for her. Faced with such opposition, Mum had developed into an Olympic class nagger, an event in which she would easily claim a gold medal, only to then point out that it hadn’t been polished properly. She would then suggest a superior cleaning product to the hapless official, suggesting that this time he invest in “a bit of elbow grease” as well. My brother Nick was seventeen, nearly four years older than me, and was fitting tires and exhausts on the Youth Training Scheme, known unimaginatively as YTS. It always seemed to me to be a rather ingenious Government wheeze, the YTS thing, letting young people work full time yet be paid part time, proving that a) the Government was smarter than we gave it credit for, and b) my brother was dumber than we gave him credit for, and we gave him more credit than Barclaycard.

Two hours later, I stood in the corridor outside room 2B at school, doing what I did best. What I did best, like any other thirteen year old boy with peers to impress, was kick my best friend in the shins. Girls have never quite understood why boys feel the need to inflict physical damage on each other, but then at that age all boys are convinced that girls are stupid and therefore bound to be impressed by the sight of two lads giggling and lashing out at one another. My best friend at the time was Pete, a stocky boy of Scottish descent whose retention of a slight accent made him known as “Jock” to anyone with no imagination, which was all of us. As usual, our playful kicking turned into a pitched battle, into which we both launched ourselves wholeheartedly, swinging the kind of kicks that in future years would give David Beckham world popularity. Well, that and shagging a Spice Girl, anyway. I was thoroughly enjoying myself, having landed a whopper that would ensure Pete limped for at least the next hour, when I felt a light tap on my shoulder. I flicked my eyes at Pete’s, and the look on his face (total innocence combined with “it was him what started it” eyes) told me in no uncertain terms that there was a teacher behind me. Immediately, I stopped trying to cripple him for life (there was always breaktime to do that) and swallowed, prepared as ever to blame everything on the evil highland scumbag that had raped my forefathers with claymore and dirk (also known as the “it wasn’t me” defense). The thing is, as I turned around totally prepared to lie like a Tory about what was going on, I was struck dumb. It’s a strange sensation, being struck dumb, as it’s normally the sort of thing that happens in books. Fair enough, for you reading this it still is the sort of thing that happens in books, but trust me, it’s well groovy.

So there she was. Who? You ask, and well you might, for the same word was going through my mind, as I gazed on true beauty for the first time outside the copy of Razzle I’d found in dad’s shed. The woman was young, for a teacher, perhaps twenty five, standing at a curvy five eleven, though I learned later that she wore one inch heels. She had neat, short brown hair, a petite nose and eyes that would drown a channel swimmer. I gaped.
“Wargle,” I said eloquently. Hey, it was the best I could do. You want poetry, read a poetry book. She looked me in my eye, which had the result of most of my mind concentrating on desperately trying not to get an erection, which at thirteen is like the Elephant Man desperately trying not to have a head shaped like a basket of fruit.
“One warning,” she said simply, flicking her gaze between the both of us. “Both of you. If I catch you trying to kill or maim each other outside my classroom again you will both be put on the Translating Shakespeare punishment detail. Do either of you know what ‘forsooth’ means?” We shook our heads mutely, like special needs children watching a tennis match. Trust me boys,” she continued, “you don’t want to find out the hard way.”
With that, she strolled into the classroom without giving us a backwards glance, confident that we’d got the message. The rest of the class trooped in past us, most sniggering or offering snide comments, whilst we slowly digested what had happened. Finally, we looked each other in the eyes and allowed smug grins to slide across our faces like ice cream down a baby’s chin. I imagine we looked to an outsider like cats that not only got the cream but also a photo with which to blackmail the owner of the creamery. I decided to go first.
“What,” I said.
“A,” he continued.
“Babe!” we both finished, joint winners of the “Synchronized being a bloke” competition. With this, we both dissolved into the kind of laughter that was guaranteed to leave us with runny noses and, as a direct result, sticky sleeves. We quickly composed ourselves, wiped our noses on our sleeves (told you), and joined the rest of the class.

A few minutes later, we were safely ensconced at the back of the classroom watching the mystery teacher writing on the whiteboard at the front. She had very neat writing, and when she had finished she turned around and addressed the class.
“I,” she said, “am Miss Wright.”
Sure enough, that’s exactly what it said. Miss Wright, the woman I had been searching for (And that is the one and only time that pun will be used, I promise).
“If you do right by me,” she continued,” I will do right by you.”
As she said this, there was an audible sigh of relief. Yes, it was a lame, feeble deathbed ridden pun, but it was an attempt at humour, and if a teacher takes that time to try and be nice, they tend to actually be nice, which is a good thing. That morning I had been introduced to a graduate of the Sadistic Evil Bastard Teaching Academy, a rubber necked mutant known as Mr Brown, who was as suited to being an imparter of knowledge to eager young minds as King Herod would have been being a jolly lollipop man. He threw the board rubber around so often that one wag suggested he put it on a bit of elastic, a comment that unsurprisingly earned him a board rubber to the head. Just because you’re a sadistic evil bastard, doesn’t mean you can’t be predictable as well.

Miss Wright, thankfully, was a good teacher. In the next forty minutes she captivated our attention without ever seeming to really try. I was surprised when I realized at one point that I actually wanted to learn. This had not happened before in senior school, a place where enthusiasm is usually limited to that one time the physics or Chemistry teacher leaves the magnesium strips out and leaves you to your own devices for ten minutes. The lesson after this is usually how to differentiate between fire engine and ambulance sirens. As we left the room after the lesson I lagged behind and ended up being the last one out. For the second time that day she put her hand on my shoulder.
“Yes Miss?” I said, turning around and giving her my best Valentino look in the eye.
“We’re not going to have a repeat of this mornings antics I trust?” she asked. It was one of those questions to which there is only one correct answer, like “Would you like to give me your wallet or shall I shoot you?”
“No Miss,” I replied gultily, and to my surprise with genuine sincerity. I stored the latter away for faking at a later date.
“Good,” she said with a small, friendly smile. “I think we’re going to get along famously.”
And that was that. I was in love. What a buffoon.

“So how was it?”
“Okay, I s’pose.”
“Did your bottom behave itself?”
“Well, you seemed very concerned about it this morning. A Mother worries that she might have turned her son into a social pariah.”
“What’s a pariah?”
“If you don’t know then I’m sure you’re not one.”
“Stop being annoying Mum. Everything was fine.”
“I was just asking. Have you got any nice new teachers this year?”
“I’ve got a horrible rubber necked mutant for history.”
“I said nice ones.”
“There’s a new woman for English. She seems okay.”
“Is that it? ‘She seems okay’?”
“Yes. She seems okay. Can I put the telly on now?”
“No. Tell me more about this woman. I need to know who’s teaching my darling little boy.”
“Mum! Look, she’s thirty or so, quite nice and doesn’t look like a child molester or anything. I’ve only known her for fifty minutes, Mum. I didn’t have time to ask for a reference.”
“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, David. Oh go on then, I’ll get your tea.”

So that’s how I met Miss Wright. My Mum was very restrained, for her. She could usually give the Spanish Inquisition a few lessons on interrogation. One sever questioning from her about why they hadn’t come home the previous night until gone ten and they would have thrown away their pointy sticks and branding irons for good and gone and raised puppies for underprivileged children. I sat down to watch Grange Hill but just couldn’t concentrate, still amazed that I actually fancied a teacher. Normally, teachers at our school were so ugly they could curdle milk with a glance, but Miss Wright seemed different. What a day.

I'm thirty three, and I feel like shit. This is getting to be too regular an occurrence for my liking. I awake rather groggily at half past seven as the automatic alarm on my bedside TV kicks in. I half hear some bloke waffling on about his bus ticket collection, proving once more that breakfast TV is a load of shit, and realise with the usual wave of depression that it's time to rise from the pit. As I pry open my eyes to look at whatever has intruded on my dreams of money and power, I am awoken further by the horrible sight of a large smear of Marmite across the TV screen. Why do I do it? Whenever I get stinking drunk, and there’s no drunk quite as nasty as “stinking”, I always get a craving for Marmite sandwiches, despite the fact that I am almost always physically incapable of making one without leaving a trail of brown slime behind me like some giant incontinent snail. At the bottom of the screen languishes a forlorn half eaten sandwich that has relieved the boredom of a long night by oozing Marmite from every pore. Still on auto pilot, I reach across and give it an experimental bite, immediately wishing I hadn't, as the stale bread and coagulated Marmite has a taste not unlike chewing on a bodybuilders thong after a long hard day of sweating and posing. Or so I imagine, anyway. If nothing else it gets me awake, and I drag my weary hung over body to the edge of the bed, sitting there with my head in my hands. It's a dilemma we've all faced - either skip work and risk a bollocking on Monday (being sick on a Friday is the work equivalent of kicking Jesus in the nuts and saying "Son of God, my arse!"), or go in and pretend that I'm actually ill, and was not out drinking until three in the morning with my clinically insane housemate. I mentally count the number of times I've gone for the first option, weigh the answer against the pounding in my head when measured on a scale of one to ten (six), and decide to drag myself in and try for the twenty four hour bug sympathy vote. That way I should be able to get away with not doing much work and people might feel sorry for me. Yeah, right.

I stagger to the bathroom, desperate to allow a few gallons of last nights excesses to leave my body, only to find that it's inexplicably locked. I bang on the door experimentally, but there's no reply. Heloo?" I venture. Nothing. I put my ear to the door and can hear the shower running, so I bang a little harder. "Simon?" I shout. "Let me in you bastard! I really have to take a piss!" Still nothing, so I decide to take a look in his room, just in case there's an empty bottle or something I can relieve myself in. As I peek round the door, I am shocked to see him sprawled out on the bed, dead to the world. Normally, this is not a shocking thing, but it becomes one when there is someone in the shower that is not one of us. I really want to wake him up to get his opinion on my problem, but I know from past experience how difficult he is to wake before at least eleven, hence my previous surprise at the bathroom being busy, so I leave it. An evil thought flits across my brain, to act on which would allow me to solve my urinary problem and wake up Simon at the same time, but I'm just not that sort of person, which is a shame. As George Clooney says in 'From Dusk Til Dawn' "I may be a bastard, but I'm not a fucking bastard.” So, instead of pissing on my best friends head, I recap. Simon is, as always, in bed. Nothing new there. However, somebody is in our shower, and that somebody won't open the door or even acknowledge my presence on the other side of it. Stale memories of last night are now seeping into my head, but I can't remember Simon pulling anyone, and I know damn well I didn't. The only girl he was trying it on with was doing a very creditable impression of a girl with two cold shoulders, and it would have been a hell of a turnaround to coax her back here for a shag, so I'm left with the fact that a burglar has broken into our house and decided to have a shower, but even I can't believe that one, as everyone knows that burglars prefer baths to showers any day. Crossing my legs I hop back to the bathroom, intent on knocking the bloody door down if I have to, and am surprised to see it open before I can get a chance to do myself an injury. There she is, the girl I thought Simon was failing miserably with last night, wrapped in a towel. Actually, wrapped in my towel, but there's a time and a place to be pedantic. I nod good morning at her like I knew she was there all the time, and she smiles back and floats into Simon's room, all the while looking very cute in my towel. I take a millisecond to curse him for being a suave, good looking bastard, before my bladder reminds me that I have more pressing business. Great. I've been up five minutes and the day already sucks.

A shower can be a wonderful thing, one of the few places I feel I can truly relax. I sit on the floor of the cubicle in a near foetal position, letting the water wash away my anxieties and a good percentage of my hangover, which is already becoming a distant memory, thank God. A quick lathering with my favourite lemon scented soap later and I'm ready to face the world, or at least the part of it that contains me, and that's the most important part, after all. After dressing, I sneak a look in Simon's room, but it's the same as before, with him unmovable by anything except perhaps a nuclear strike or possibly a face full of piss. Having given my last tactical nuclear weapon to the local charity shop last week, and the last of my bodily fluids to the toilet I have no choice but to let him slumber on, as blissfully unaware of the facts of real life as a backbench politician. There's no sign of the mysterious girl, but my towel is scrunched up on the bedroom floor, so I take pity on it and hang it over the radiator in the hallway. A towel scorned can be a dangerous thing, especially when you're getting spruced up for a hot date and it wreaks revenge by skulking in a corner and being very damp, so I keep mine sweet whenever possible. A quick scout downstairs reveals a similar absence of female flesh, and I vow to take up the matter with Simon as soon as he's able to make coherent sounds (or as coherent as he gets, which isn’t saying much, trust me). Oh well, on the plus side the stereo and video are still here, so she definitely wasn't a very clean burglar. Preoccupied as I am, I jump a mile as I feel an unexpected pressure against my right shin. With a startled noise not unlike "Yowp!" I look down, ready to karate chop any intruders smaller and weaker than me (the best kind), but only find Pixel, the Bug Eyed Cat, attempting to wrap herself around my leg. Her huge, saucer like eyes lock on mine cynically, whilst her face twists into an expression of contempt for my extreme human stupidity.
“Meowp?" is her only comment.
As with any comment the BEC makes, I take it to mean she probably wants food. Like most cats, the only times she stoops low enough to communicate with us gangly abominations is when she wants to go in/out, be fed or be stroked. As I head towards the kitchen to fill her bowl with ludicrously expensive cat food, most of which has a picture of a smug looking Persian moggy on the front, she tries her best to trip me up at every opportunity.
“Fuck OFF you stupid bloody cat!" is my carefully considered comment to her, but this only makes her more determined to see me flat on my face, and she redoubles her efforts with each profanity that escapes me.
Finally, she allows me to finish, and after a perfunctory sniff she dives in as if it wasn't made, as I suspect, of old tyres and ex Derby hopefuls. Pixel is my cat, and I named her after the titular moggy of Robert Heinlein's "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls". I love her to bits but of course, like all cats, her mission in life is to be a cute, cuddly, lovable absolute pain in the arse. I sigh, sit down and decide to reward myself with a couple of pieces of toast, then re energised I summon enough energy to escape the hovel for another day. Then I trip over the fucking cat.

I cruise up the motorway as smoothly as is possible in Minnie, my unimaginatively named 1982 silver Mini. Despite having the same cubic space as a dented matchbox, Minnie is my little lifesaver, never giving in to such things as cold whether, a dodgy fuel gauge or even windscreen wiper failure. I know a lot about wiper failure, as I work for a rather large motoring organisation usually known only by its initials. I am a wage slave at the regional headquarters, and as much as I moan about the job, I know it could be worse. My first ever job after leaving school and subsequently dropping out of college was as a door to door loft insulation salesman. I was overjoyed at getting the job, not realising that the qualities they most desired in employees was gullibility, a willingness to work for nonexistent commission and the ability to sucker housewives into making stupid decisions along the lines of "Yes, I'd love to meet with your sales rep later." Each day, I and a couple of other young mugs would be driven to a seemingly random location and given an area to cover. We would knock on as many doors as possible, trying to wrangle appointments for our sales team leader, who would ingratiate himself with the homeowners, drinking tea and scoffing biscuits, whilst we shivered outside in the car, thinking how lucky we were to have a job in Thatcher's Britain. We only got paid if the team leader actually made a sale, and even then not until full payment had been made. So, in a nutshell, I had to go on a lengthy drive each day, knock on hundreds of doors, get told to piss off on regular occaisions, then have to wait for the days leads to be followed up before being driven home. I lasted an incredible two weeks before I realised that the job might in fact be a pile of festering monkey spunk, and even then I never got paid a penny, whilst the company turned up a month or two later on Watchdog and were exposed as a bunch of crooks. Welcome to the wonderful world of employment young man.
Not to be deterred, and anxious to make a penny or two, I moved into retail, mainly because it was the first job offered to me. Okay, purely because it was the first job offered to me, okay? Once again, I worked long hours, but at least I got paid. I started off in a camera shop, taking along some of my Dad's very professional looking photos to the interview and feigning an interest in such things as apertures and f-stops, trying not to be found out. It was an okay job, but I soon tried to take the next step up the career ladder when I got a job in a high street jewellers as a trainee manager. I thought this was marvellous, but anyone who has actually been a trainee manager in a shop will know that the title is just a way of making sure that the management can squeeze a shitload more work out of you without actually paying you any more than anyone else. I had to pick up deliveries, carry alarm keys, cash up tills and leave after all the other staff. The “I Am A Mug” tattoo on your forehead was optional, but it’s nice to have the choice. A Saturday off was a rarity, and moments of levity were to be treasured. I worked with a seventeen year old rock and roller called Mario, who didn't just like the music, but was the sort who had turnups, sideburns, Brylcreem by the gallon and a penchant for "sorting out" anything with a pulse and a go go skirt. Girls were all "chicks", Elvis was King, and a car wasn't a car unless it had tailfins. A particular inhabitant of the shopping centre in which our store was located was a weird local known as Stan The Man. Stan was a Jimmy Saville wannabe who could, in a nutshell, dance all day for charity. He'd set up a boom box and play the sort of music usually reserved for lifts or porn, (possibly once or twice for porn in a lift), then strip down to some extremely tight sparkly shorts and a matching waistcoat, then proceed to dance like a spastic chicken for the best part of the day. One dull Saturday, we were doing our best to skive behind the window and were watching Stan with the fascination of drivers passing a road accident when Mario had an idea, no small feat in itself.
“What would you give me," he said, with slow deliberation, "if I went out there, dropped my trousers and danced with Stan?"
Naturally, I had to think for a few seconds to come up with an offer that would be enough to get him to humiliate himself in the middle of a busy shopping centre.
“A pint," I offered.
“Two," he retorted quickly, showing himself to have the bargaining power of someone who would try to haggle in the pound shop.
“Don't bother then," I said, feigning interest in a particularly tacky Timex. "Hey, if you don't want a pint..."
“All right then," he said, caving in. "A pint it is.”
And that was it. A promising young career down the drain. Mario proceeded to saunter out of the shop, swaggering in the way that only true rock and roll dudes can, and upon reaching Stan's spot he dropped his trousers and jived along to the music in his boxers whilst I pissed myself laughing. I have never in my life seen someone fired so fast. In the weeks that followed people referred to him as the Human Cannonball.

To cut a long, very dull story short, I got rather fed up of retail, especially after they got suspicious about my Grandmother's three funerals in one year, and wangled a job in the wonderful world of broken down cars. I started off answering telephone calls from moronic members of the public, and eventually moved sideways to answering their moronic letters instead. Still no great shakes, but at least I don't have to talk to them these days. My job allows me to explain to stupid people who don’t read small print that they can only call us out so many times per year. When they find this out they invariably write in, often in crayon, threatening all sorts of legal action, in one case simply referring to myself as a “Motherfucking punk faggot”, which I’m not. Sure, I’ve fucked mothers and I was once briefly a punk, but “faggot” is just a lie. Honest. The only joy of the job is that legally I can tell each and every one of them to sod off if I so wish, even if I have to disguise it with flowery language (“Ner ner ner ner ner” not being acceptable, unfortunately).

After an allegedly hard day at the office, mostly spent working out new ways to skive off (“I have to visit Legal” still being the top one), I crawl home with Minnie on autopilot, each bit of my conscious mind thanking God that it's Friday, and Friday is the fun day, or it is if you believe the adverts. A few truckers try to victimise me by overtaking as close as humanely possible, but I can't be arsed to rise to the bait. Truckers love people in Minis, it's like the biggest, nastiest, hairiest bully in the playground finding out that nobody gives a toss if he beats the shit out of the weedy new kid with the Barbie lunchbox, national health glasses and a complexion like a relief map of Snowdonia. A favourite trick is to tailgate the poor Mini whilst giving long, impatient blasts on their air horns. This obviously works even better if the poor sod in front has seen "Duel", like me. They wait until the poor mini has crawled it's way up to seventy miles per hour, its engine complaining more than an eight year old who's been told he can't watch "South Park", then they just effortlessly step on the gas and cruise past, making sure to scrape the drivers side wing mirror on their way. When the Eagles wrote "Life In The Fast Lane" they certainly weren't cruising up the motorway in a Mini on a wet Friday afternoon. Similarly, “Living it up at the Moat House it’s a four star…”, doesn’t quite have the same ring as the original. Best stay where you are, eh lads…

Eventually myself and Minnie reach home. Home at this point in time, and indeed for the last three years, is an inconspicuous house on the High Street of a quiet West Country town by the name of Hinton, currently shared by me, Simon and the cat. I put Minnie to bed in the garage and kiss her goodnight before making my way into the front room. As I walk in I hear the strains of the opening theme to "The Simpsons" on Sky, and am unsurprised to see Simon sprawled on the sofa, oblivious to anything except his lord and master, also known as the television. There are many things that Simon doesn't know, like how to spell Dyslexia (because he's dyslexic, naturally), but he is an authority on all things Simpson, a knowledge helped by the fact that he has seen each episode at least twenty times. I know from past experience that there will be no intelligent conversation out of him for the next hour, so I stuff my face with cold ham from the fridge and proceed to freshen myself up and change for another drunken Friday night of extreme liver abuse.

“So," I say later, when Homer has "D'oh"d his last and Simon is idly flicking through the rest of the channels looking for a Baywatch rerun. "Who the fuck was that girl in the shower this morning? She totally ignored my urgent urination hammering!”
Never one for unneccessary vocal communication, Simon reaches into his pocket and pulls out a crumpled piece of paper, which I recognise as a bar receipt from our local, The Full Moon. He carefully unfolds it and hands it to me. I read it.
“Chloe Imdeaf?" I ask, confused. "What sort of name is that?”
“I’m deaf," says Simon slowly in his thick Sheffield accent.
“What?" I say to him in utter bewilderment. I am always saying this to Simon, it seems, as he is often very bewildering. I swear that at night he creeps into the attic and chats with Orson, or whoever else runs the particular planet he comes from.
“She. Was. Deaf," he says slowly, as if explaining counting to a member of a boy band. "And. Dumb," he adds as an afterthought.
The penny drops. Finally. She was deaf. No wonder she seemed to be ignoring him at the pub, and no wonder she couldn't hear me on the bathroom door this morning, and didn't speak when she came out.
“Wasn't that a bit tricky?" I ask, intrigued as ever by Simon's unconventional sex life. “Nah. She just wrote down things like 'Oooooooh Yess!!!', 'Give it to me big boy' and 'Simon you are the best' and handed me bits of paper at appropriate intervals.”
“You," I say with mock gravitas, "are a sick, sick bastard.”
“Yep," he admits with all the genuine shame of a U.S President caught with his hands down an interns knickers, "but at least I'm a sick sick bastard who got laid last night. I bet you were visiting Mrs Hand and her five lovely daughters as usual.”
“There's nothing wrong with being choosy," I reply haughtily, putting on the holier than thou expression my sister seems to have spent her life perfecting. "It wouldn’t hurt you to think about a woman's mind instead of her chest for a change.”
“I do try," he says, insincerity dripping from every syllable like treacle from a teaspoon, "but a good chest is a wondrous thing. I mean, every woman's got a mind somewhere, but only a select few have got a really cracking pair of...”
“Yes," I interrupt. "I've heard it before, you sexist, misogynistic dinosaur. You do realise that they're only bags of fat, don't you? Only there for the purpose of feeding offspring?”
“I know," he sighs. "But they're such lovely bags of fat, only put there to give me the raging horn."
With that, he notices that he's finally found a Baywatch rerun and settles down for a session of breast ogling.

Simon moved in with me six months ago, because I needed a flatmate to stop the Building Society sending out bounty hunters, and because Simon was fed up of city life. We had been friends for a year or so, and it all seemed to make sense. He does what he likes to describe as "Computer stuff" to anyone who asks, but in reality he's a complete genius at 3D computer images, and lots of companies eagerly throw money at him to work his magic on their particular project. This allows him to spend a few hours a day in the spare room with the tools of his trade, and the rest of the time just being himself. Being freelance, he chooses his work carefully, making sure he gets maximum cash for minimum effort. Mostly he works on computer games, but he never plays them. He thinks they rot the brain as well as the social life, and reckons that if you've got enough time on your hands to complete Grand Theft Auto without pausing for sleep, you really should take up a slightly more socially acceptable hobby, like masturbating over pictures of the Queen whilst standing naked outside Buckingham Palace, shouting "Come and get it Lizzie!" His words, not mine. Simon has a very high opinion of masturbation, even more so than most men, and has in our attic the porn equivalent of the EEC butter mountain to help him in his research. He says he's willed them to me, so I really hope I die before him, as I don't want to be at that will reading ("And to my best friend Dave, my entire porn collection, including the over sixties ones I know he loves so much..."). Every so often a brown parcel will arrive from some country I've never heard of, and Simon will scuttle off up to his lair for an hour or so, then come down and give it a rating out of ten. Apart from sleeping, shagging and wanking, Simon's other passion is loud music. I don't mean the sort of music volume that makes you think "Gosh, that's a bit loud", but sort that makes you wonder how much a new pair of eardrums is. He says very reasonably that if Motorhead had meant for their music to be played quietly, then they would have used acoustic guitars instead of electric, and sang songs about fluffy bunnies and not war and death. As we share the same taste in music, none of this worries me in the slightest, especially as when he moved in he brought with him his ludicrously large stereo system, including speakers so big they'd make Ozzy Osbourne wet himself and turn vegetarian. At first I was in hog heaven, and spent the first month exacting revenge on my Chris De Burgh obsessed neighbours. Believe me, "Lady In Red" does not stand a chance against "Ace Of Spades" with extra bass. Eventually we came to a truce, whereby Simon gets to play music as loud as he likes during the day whilst they're at work, and they play whatever old shite they want at night, when we're down the pub.
Simon is a bit of a chick magnet, or a lot of a chick magnet to be honest. He's a twenty six year old six footer with a thick mane of long black hair that women always seem to want to stroke. This hair is used to great effect when he whips it into a headbanging frenzy. He'll stand in the pub or club we're in, set off by anything from Bon Jovi to Metallica, with his hair wind milling around him and everyone else trying to avoid getting whopped in the face by it. He's fit, intelligent and mostly charming, so most blokes tend to hate him immediately. Once you get to know him, however, which takes about five minutes, you find that he's almost impossible to hate, unless of course you've just caught him shagging your girlfriend/sister/granny.
As I muse, he watches Pamela Anderson jog deliciously into the sunset and turns the TV off. “PUB!" he shouts, and bounds towards the door with the kind of enthusiasm people usually reserve for births, marriages or the death of despised but wealthy relatives. I follow more sedately, locking the front door behind me, then follow him the few hundred yards down to The Full Moon for another night on the piss. Well, why not?

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