Playing Tramp ’97
The moment of curiosity struck on a subway as I passed by a spare ten pence. It was a talking, Scottish spare ten pence, and I suddenly had a marvelous idea. The brain wave stormed in on an FBI dream of duplicitous parody.
The mad wee fellow was just an angry wee fellow, a sort of urban fox who probably couldn’t hack the angry pace of commerce, a nail biting geezer who said ‘bastard’ in intermittent bursts to reserve his parking spot for collecting ten pence fines. I was convinced he was a genius in the FBI. I would make friends and uncover the undercover. One day I gave him a packet of peanuts.
Its always best to give them food instead of squandering money. When I walked past the next day, the peanuts had been left where I had dropped them. I had gone into The Old Trout especially to go to the loo and buy underground John a packet of honey roasted peanuts as a test of recognition. I was convinced that he knew me. I knew we had met before, and felt picked out by the timing of comments he would mutter when I walked past, feeling familiar with the idea that John was a long lost relation, or that we had met in a loony bin perhaps in a past life.
This was a sort of scout hunt in forgotten dreams, the beginning of a quest for Lady Di, a search for long hidden conspiracy, and a suspicion upon the grounds of my faded memory. I set about talking to John as a kind of inquisition into the British state.
There had always been a kind of odd referral between me, ER, and the rest of the world, and that odd point of referral I suppose is my mother.
There always was something stupidly gruesome, and strangely grotesque in the loneliness of my mother, which I could not bear to be heir to so I decided to disinherit her. I know she is older than me, but this first step in questioning led me to realise that I was her sanction, her alibi and obsession, and that she had no right to make me sweep her garden.
When I spoke to John I thought how much nicer he was than Jane. Thinking of comparison, I began to realise that everybody is nicer than Jane, and decided to suppose that in fact, Jane could be evil. I suppose I could be too, but for the life of me, I just could not remember. Every night I have dreams of ploys and celebrities, of guns and stars, of sex and politics, of tabloids and gardening but one night I tried to remember them.
Flashbacks of auto pilot are funny things. To be sprawled naked on a bed with a strange tramp who says he wants to go off to buy some condoms and chocolate at the Select garage is bizarre for a sober girl in Fulham. I like the sound of Lady and the Tramp and entertain the idea that we are both schizophrenic geniuses. What I was after was a hidden identity in both of us. Perhaps John was an aristocratic castaway, perhaps Lady Di is my sister.
Jane is actually my aunt if any relation, a whore, a spy and a kidnapping murderer. We are all Windsors, and Georgy half a Berkeley. I am a mother, and daughter of the Duchess of Kent or Cunt, if you take occupation into account.
In all of this John does not get much of a look in, and the question is mainly about me. I feel a bit like a doctor although I refuse to condemn or be condemned. To condemn John is to condemn myself and confirm that we are both mad, I am OK, he is OK, Jane is mad, I am John, Jane is John, Jane is anybody but Jane. I am anybody but Jane’s and would rather be nobody.
There are people in the cupboard.
There are people in the stairs,
There are microphones and telephones
And listeners in the wood.
There are bodies in the river,
And spies all skew on spits,
Medallions of cheeks in toes
All fried and served on toast.
There’s a president, a prostitute,
A man with sparkly guns,
There’s the IRA and Oh I say,
I’m eating number ones.
As a mother as a lover
In my bed and on my head,
With her fingers in my gingers
And my arms around in led.
A strappy chair and outstrung hair,
The purpose is to dine,
A handbag on the sideboard
Is a cheque for coke sublime.
John has brought back two Gold Wispas, some Rizzlas, a pint of milk and cheese and onion crisps. Out comes another spliff which I watch him roll as he tells me about cockney Tracey, Liverpool Debbie and his Dread Lock Brothers. I have met Cockney Tracy, her two daughters and boyfriend who all live just down the road. We all watched East Enders and then there was Family Fortunes or something.
We drunk tea and Trace told John that it was good that he wasn’t being mental at the moment and they talked about the lottery and John told them about the pin ball game he was good at. He told them I was a nice girl, a good princess. Trace is also his good princess. I can never remember what it was that he used to go on about, but it was something to do with Lucky Strikes and number sequences.
Francesca’s Folly hadn’t done too well in the last race, and he had only picked it because of me. We hadn’t stayed long, but long enough to get some spliff off Trace’s boyfriend, it seems I pay for it. John says Trace is his sister, that I am his sister and that he needs his sisters like I need my sisters and brothers. I make some delicious sausage hot pot and offer it to John, sort of sausages in tomato sauce stew. Perhaps I am a sort of soup kitchen, but he does not seem to like it much so I eat it and put his clothes in the new washing machine.
I am sure that there are people in the cupboard, it won’t open.