Exit | Entrance | Living it up | Living it down | Waking up is hard to do | Stress and distress | Spring green and mushrooms | Depressing stuff | Deliverance | Departure
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©Marcus J Brierley, 1999
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6 - Stress and distress
"I thought I might make a film about LordTennyson. I have a friend who is just finishing a film director's course at theTisch in New York and I'm going to ask him to direct it," said WesleyDale, leaning on the shoulder high oak mantelpiece which ran above thefireplace in Damian's room.
Damian strummed the unplugged Fender silently andgazed at Wesley with incomprehension. He continued strumming and did notrespond.
"Lord Tennison was such an interestingcharacter. Not unlike yourself, a poet and a man interested in expanding hismind. There the comparison ends. Although now I think of it, you both do ratherhave similar hairdos."
Damian put down the Fender and rolled a quick spliff.
"What are you talking about Wesley?" hesaid as though he had heard nothing.
He passed Wesley the joint which was immediatelyrebuffed. Wesley didn't touch the stuff.
Wesley was English to his roots although he had grownup in India, the son of tea planters. His interest in the arts was hismotivation for life. He was a writer and a poet of the English school of poets,a member of the Dulwich Group, a frequenter of the Lamb and Flag for monthlypoetry readings and a couple of years or so earlier, before Damian had become afolk singer, the two had been chums on the poetry jag.
"When you say film, what exactly are you talkingabout Wes?" said Damian who had comprehended a broader spectrum than wasimmediately apparent to Wesley.
"What do you mean, 'talking about'?" saidWesley, "Film, you know, clack clack clack, whirr whirr, film."
Wesley made hand-crank camera mime to go with thenoises.
"Listen Wes old chum, don't want to put you downor disappoint you or anything like that, but…, films cost loot. Costdough. Wonga. Dosh. Films cost bread man. Lots and lots and lots. Like whereare you going to get the bread in such big dollops? That's what I'm talkingabout!"
"Oh, I see. Very practical. Yes. Mmm. I neverthought of you as practical Damian, weell… I've thought about that andI'm going to finance it myself. With five hundred pounds which I am expectingto be coming my way… , in the not too distant future, a month or sopossibly."
"Then that's a different kettle of fish Wesley.Five hundred pounds, that's a lot of lolly. Where're you getting that sort ofdough from? Someone dying? Someone dead? Someone loves you? Sold a testicle?Sold a poem? The last time we spoke, you were kaftan-less in Kashmir, orpenniless in Penge, or both."
"Yes. Funny you should ask. It's a good questionand it deserves a good answer." Wesley looked as though he was trying tothink of one. "Actually, I'm planning to win it."
"Oh, I see. Now I've got ya!" Damian blewlong smoke from full lungs. "Like that then," waving at the smoke.
"Rather more concrete than that actually,"said Wesley.
"You're going to win it and it's rather moreconcrete than a puff of smoke? Who's your bookie Wes?"
Wesley was becoming irritated with his ridicule.
"I'm going to win it by winning a literary prizeif you must know!" he said in a triumph of testiness.
It was all clear to Damian. Wesley was finallymarble-loose and fancy free. He decided to humour him in the hope that he wouldquickly vacate the premises.
"So certain of this win then Wesley? Is itsomething you want to share with an old friend? I mean, I thought you mighthave got your hands on a decent advance from a publisher for something you wereactually about to complete."
"Writing is actually the key Damian." Heemphasised the 'Actually' in parody of Damian's mockery. "I'm planning,well got to be truthful, hoping to win a literary prize for an article I'vedone."
"Big plans man!" said Damian getting evenless interested.
"Not so looney as it sounds!"
"So you admit it's looney then?"
"Looney. Yes. Completely looney. But no morelooney than you were when you started to tell us you were going to be making arecord last year. We all thought you had cracked up. Don't you realise thatDamian? You started telling everyone that you were going to make a record longbefore you had even had an interview with a record company. I remember furtherback than that. In the first year at college, when you were a littlewhipper-snapper with short curly hair and stubble on your cheeks, boldlyinforming us that you were going to Tangier to work in a café for the summer.Sing songs and earn your keep. You didn't know where you were going. You didn'tknow if you were going to get there. You didn't even know if there was such athing as a café that you could play in. In fact, as I remember it, youdidn't even know any songs without having to sit with a book on yourknee!"
"All this is true," said Damian blowingmore blue smoke from his lips and leaning back into the memory of those firsthot puffs from a chillum in some vast pounding Moroccan grotto way back in '64.
He spaced out on the imagery, and forgetting Wesleywas even in the room with him, reached for the Fender and began one of thoseincessant doodles guitarists play. It was good enough to doodle it, the volumeand the wah-wah was quite clear in his mind.
Wesley watched for a moment and wondered if he wasmissing something really worthwhile. After all Tennison, Byron, Shelley, Keats,had all dabbled. He hurried back to the point because he wanted, in fact neededDamian to understand that this was for real. It was part of his plan.
"So this is what is going to happen anyway, thisis how I imagine it."
"Oh. Right. Sorry man. Go on."
"There's this literary prize called the DailyTelegraph travel writer's award. It's an annual event sponsored by, well theDaily Telegraph in fact, and there's a five hundred pound prize for the winner.There's also an introduction to a literary agent as part of the prize winner'sbenefit and you get your article printed in the Telegraph so all in all it's agood thing to win, a good way to get known. I've been studying the form. Youknow, the past winners' pieces. I've been researching them in thelibrary."
"Hell, shit man, you're clever." Damian satup, his attention regained. "I would like to be that clever man," forthe first moment in this conversation, Damian was genuinely impressed."That's cool. That's a pretty cool thing to think of. You've actually goneout and planned how to do this, right?"
"Well sort of, yes, in a manner of speaking.That's really what I've tried to do. Of course, I don't know if I'll besuccessful."
"Wha'd'ya mean, man? Just now you were tellingme you were going to win five hundred pounds and finance a film with it. Ofcourse you're going to be successful, man, you're going to win. You've seen itman. You've seen it in your head. You've seen yourself winning this prize manand getting the dough. You've pictured yourself doing the whole thing andyou've seen what you have to do in order to do it! It's fantastic, man. That'show things work in real life. I really believe that. That's how you make thingsreal. How you turn them from just stupid wishing into a plan and getting there.That's it man, it's really cool."
For Damian, this realisation, was exactly the way healready understood reality. You only had to picture it, for it to happen.Totally picture it together with all the parts, exactly as it would be, to doeverything, and get it right. The problem was, you couldn't always picture allthe parts. In fact you mainly couldn't. But when you could, and there were nogaps, then there was a good chance it could happen.
"So have you written the thing yet? When does ithave to be in?"
"OK, well, I wrote the entry three months or soago and I wrote it about my year in Kashmir. Of course I had an advantagebecause I've been to Kashmir quite a number of times in my life and had a goodrange of experience to draw on. In fact, the winners get announced next week.God I do hope I do it!"
"Well you've given it your best shot Wes and youcan't go back and do it again, so if it's your karma to win, man, then you'llwin and that's it."
There was a pause while Damian returned to hisconcentrated doodling. The moment of engagement was past.
Wesley was almost about to give up and go back toPenge, when Damian tuned once more into the conversation.
"Anyhow Wesley, nice of you to drop by. Let meknow how you get on when you win. Film. Sounds great. Bit of a dodgy subjectthough. Got any better ideas? More commercial?"
Wesley graced Damian with a look not dissimilar tothe one he had delivered to Steve Everest a week or so earlier. Damian waslearning.
He saw Wesley to the front door, itself an unusualgesture. Wesley turned to him on the threshold and with some degree ofhesitation, finally came to the point.
"By the way, Damian, you know I mentioned thisfriend of mine whose been studying in New York? He's looking for somewhere toput up for a while. I was wondering?" he raised an eyebrow in the vainhope that without further enticement, Damian would volunteer the required response.
Damian was too stoned to notice. He hadn't observedthat Wesley was warming him up for a big favour.
"Do you think Rufus could rent that front roomfrom you, old boy?"
"What, Rufus, who's Rufus? Do we know him?"asked Damian sleepily.
"I talked about him to you just now, he's myfilm director chummy. He's back home any day. Staying with his mum. Needssomewhere decent to set up shop."
"Film director? Groovy kind of guy?"
"Well different sort of chap to youDamian," said Wesley who, though he undoubtedly had time for Damian,definitely thought he was a bit down in the English class system. Damian wasclearly grammar school not public school, that was it. But at least he wasdifferent from the great mass and that made him worth knowing. Plus Wesleywanted his front room for a friend.
"Yeah, well, he has to be able to payrent."
Damian switched swiftly into practicality mode.
"We've got all sorts of chicks and guys who justlove to hang round here and get in the way of my work. They stick around allthe time 'cos there's lots of space and lots of smoke and lots of sounds, and Ican't get in the bathroom any more. I can't get to the cooker any more. ThankGod the phone's in my room, or I wouldn't be able to get to the phone any more.But the thing is, they don't ever think they need to help with the rent and therent is a hell of a lot of money to find every quarter. Does your guy have anyproblem with bread, that's the key to it?"
"Oh, come on, Damian. He's just finished fouryears at the Tisch. Fees alone must be five hundred a term. I don't think youhave to worry about that area."
"So bring him round. If he's cool, we'll let himin!! Bye Wes!"
Damian closed the door and forgot all about it.
Patsy sat on the bed in the centre of Damian's Room,dabbing at her eyes. She had just about come to the end of her tether withDamian and was in the throes of telling him. He didn't understand, no not atall.
"Well fuck, man, why don't you want to be withme any more?" he bleated, astonishingly unaware of how anything he didcould not bring Patsy absolute and perpetual joy.
"How's this happened man? What've I done wrong?Have I done something wrong? I haven't screwed around, well not since Christmasanyway. Not since we really got it together. Is it the other geezers filling upthe place? What is it? You know I can't survive without you, Patsy. I can'twrite songswithout you around. That's it, man."
"I don't know Damian. It just doesn't seem to beworking. I don't know how to talk to you any more. You're just so separate fromeveryone all the time. Separate from me."
"Well how'm I separate from you Patsy? We'retogether most of the while aren't we?"
"No Damian, we're not. We sleep separate hours.We wake separate hours. Sometimes we don't meet for days. You are so into thisrecord thing. You never talk about anything else. You never think aboutanything else. You walk it, talk it, sleep it, dream it, and it just neverhappens. You phone up Ted every day. I don't even know how he doesn't go insanewith you phoning him up every day. You just sit there stoned out of your brainand don't see anything else going on. I just can't take it any more. That's allDamian."
"Is there another bloke? Are you screwinganother guy? Patsy, I thought we were together man. I just didn't realise I hadto explain everything to you all the time. Look. I'm a musician man. I writesongs. I play gigs. Well when I've got them. I make records. That's what I do.Musicians do that, they don't talk about the weather and Sainsburys and tennisand stuff."
"But musicians talk about all sorts of thingsand go out and do other things too Damian," wailed Patsy.
"Musicians don't sit around the house stoned outof their brains all day long. Going to bed in the morning and getting up atnight. That's what you do Damian, all the time. I come home and you're justgetting up. I need to go to sleep 'cos I've got to get up in the morning to goto college and you're just starting to plug your guitar in. You sit therewailing away. You'll never sound like Eric Clapton, Damian. That's all you seemto want. You don't need to sound like Eric Clapton, Damian. He's already EricClapton. You are brilliant Damian as Damian James. You are a great guitarist,just the way you play. All sorts of people admire you the way you are. Youdon't need to be like Clapton, you're you. It's just a waste of time. And beingout of your mind all the time, it's getting worse and worse. And I simply can'ttake it any longer. I've had enough. Got it?"
"So just as it's got interesting, just as I'mabout to get a break with this new CBS deal. Just as I'm about to make it,you're going to piss off and leave me. Is that right?" Damian wasscreaming now. The reasoned approach was long behind.
"Darling Damian. I love you. Damian," saidPatsy softly, calmly once more, "I need you, like you need me. I love youand I don't want to leave you, but I just can't stand this way of life that'sall. You going out to Les Cousins all weekend, every weekend. You being out ofyour head all the time. Us never having a conversation about anything thatdoesn't revolve around music or drugs or guitars or you. We just never talkabout anything I want to talk about."
"Like what Patsy?"
"I don't know Damian, like the future, likegetting married, like having a home, like getting jobs and settling down, likenormal things that normal people talk about."
"Patsy. I'm not normal people. I'm not normalpeople Patsy. Don't you see that, you stupid bitch? Normal people bore meshitless. I'm not normal people and I didn't think that you were. I'm abnormalpeople, like most of my friends and I thought that you were abnormal peoplePatsy. That's why I was interested in you. That's why I liked you and spenttime with you. Now it turns out after a few months of grooving that you wantsome major commitment and want to turn me into normal people. Well It's wasteof time Patsy. It's a fucking waste of time. It's a fucking waste of fuckingtime. So you might as well fuck off now and go and fuck some normal people andsee how you prefer that to being here where there's a hope of life."
Damian strode out of the room and went to thebathroom for peace and quiet.
Patsy made no attempt to follow him. She sobbed herheart out. She struggled to collect some of her things from around the flat ina blindness of emotion and ran from the room and from Damian's life.
Damian returned to the empty room and gazed aboutforlornly for a few seconds.
He sat on the bed and rolled a joint. He blew smokeat the ceiling and switched on his amp. The idea should have been to crashdramatic chords in manic anger, composing a farewell song of hate, but after afew feeble fumbles, he gave up and went into the hall to see who else was home.
Sheila had her door ajar and due to unavoidableadvance audio warning, was not surprised by his arrival. He slumped onto themattress next to her on her floor and held out the joint for her to take. Sheput down the book she was reading, took the smoke and looked hard at Damian.
"I think you just blew it Damian," shesaid.
"Did you hear all that crap?" He was stillshouting.
"Damian, you're shouting," she said."You don't need to shout at me. Actually you didn't need to shout ather."
"But she started the whole damn thing. I wasquite happy minding my own business, working out some stuff for the album, andsuddenly out of the blue she comes out with all sorts of stuff I never knewexisted, then she pisses off with half my brain."
"I think you just said it Damian. You wereminding your own business too much. Patsy's on a different routine, she's mixingwith college folk, she only lives here part time, she wants you and she wantsto know you want her. But your head's permanently parked on Planet Nine."
Damian lapsed into silence. This was practically thefirst time he had been dumped. There had been plenty of affairs. They hadsimply fizzled out, or he had lost interest and wandered off into someone else.But this was an actual dump. A dump is not a dump unless you actually careabout someone. And he did.
A gleam of hope penetrated his skull.
"Maybe it's just some female hormone thing.Maybe she'll pull herself together and come walking back through the door. ButI'm damned if it's me that's going to apologise. I don't see what I've got toapologise about. She threw the wobbly. It'll blow over."
Damian rose and left the room. Sheila followed himwith her eyes and went back to reading with an ominous sigh.
Patsy did not return the next day, the next week orthe next month.
Wesley won the Daily Telegraph travel writer's award.
"Bloody hell, Wesley, you are a genius! You area genius! Five hundred quid! Do we get to celebrate? What happens next?"Damian was excited.
"First I want you to meet Rufus D'Gere, who's mydirector friend. I've suggested to him that there might be a place for him inyour flat. I've told him it'll cost him five
"When, what, now?"
Damian clouded over. He had done nothing to drawPatsy back to him, but he had not been out for the entire week in the hope thatshe would return to see him.
"I've got something on this evening, Wes. Can'tface going up to town right now."
Wesley looked disappointed.
"It is a gig?" he demanded.
"No, not a gig. I've. Nothing. I've got out ofthe habit of going out. Shit. Patsy pissed off last week. I keep thinking she'sgoing to come back. It's made me… really down I suppose. Sorry Wes. Notthe thing to lay on you right now? Or ever! Yeah, what the hell am I pissingabout at, let's go man. Let's go!"
He pulled on his boots and grabbed a coat and headedfor the Fiat.
Rufus D'Gere was infinitely serious, definitely not astereotype. Despite four years in New York, nothing of that city had apparentlyrubbed off on him. He was as British as the Raj. He was impenetrablyimperturbable. He was dour he was dry.
Damian couldn't make head or tail of him.
But he was prepared to pay rent. Rufus had been atSchool with Wesley and this was the establishment of their bond.
Damian tried to be light-hearted. He crackedspontaneous and linguistic jokes in view of the fact that being cool producedno flicker of recognition in Rufus because Rufus was trying to live his life inmonochrome just now.
"What's the music scene like in New York?"asked Damian.
"Music scene?" murmured Rufus.
"How was your film directing course?" askedDamian.
"Mmm. Interesting," murmured Rufus.
'Right, well what're we going to talk about when wemeet on the way to the bathroom?' thought Damian. 'Well does it matter if youdon't talk about anything, is not that a little better?' came the respondingthought.
"So you are a recording artist? What type of musicdo you play?" 'Ah a conversational breakthrough.'
"Folk Baroque, but I refuse to becategorised," responded Damian as if it were rehearsed which of course itwas.
"Mmm, I don't think I've heard of that,"murmured Rufus, "Is that new?"
It was clear at the outset that Damian and Rufus weregoing to be no threat at all to each other's egos. They were operating ondifferent planets. If Damian's was Nine, Rufus's was probablyEleven-and-a-half.
"Do you want to see the joint before you movein?" asked Damian to move the subject away from music which was obviouslynot going to progress.
"Wesley's told me all about it. It sound'sdelightful. Secluded, quite, silence for thinking. Exactly what I need."
"So when do you want to take up residence?"asked Damian.
"Absolutely as soon as possible, if that'spossible. My mother's driving me up the wall with requests to help her withgardening and painting and decorating around the house, and it's just not whatI want to be doing at the moment. I need to get down to thinking about Wesley'smovie and casting around for talent for it. Do you think you'd be any good atmusic for a movie, Damian?"
"Whoo. That's an interesting one Rufus. I'venever thought about it. We'd just have to see. When do you start to think aboutmovie music? Is it before all the filming or afterwards?"
"Well it can be either really. In some of thebest movies, the director's vision is influenced by the choice of music fromthe outset."
Now that was interesting.
The conversation meandered on, without ever gettingtoo deep for comfort, throughout the two or three hours which the thoroughlysophisticated meal lasted, together with it's discreetly lengthy breaks betweencourses.
At the end of it, Damian was left with the impressionthat Rufus was a new kind of person and a worthwhile one at that, therefore hisresidence at the flat would possibly lead to new and worthwhile experiences. Heonly wished that Patsy were there to share this with him, to talk about itafterwards, to analyse the pros and cons of it, to consider it from every angleand jointly recommend it to themselves. Still they had never done that sort ofthing before, why ever was he missing that kind of verbal intercourse now?
Unfortunately, Patsy was already deeply involved inintercourse with someone else at that very moment.
Wesley collected his prize at a special presentationat the Connaught Rooms a few days later. There was a picture of him in theTelegraph Saturday colour supplement receiving it, together with his winningarticle. It was a major coup. His introduction to Mattison Ffinch,international literary agents, was the break writers dream about and hisdesignated minder, Lavinda Critchley-Froop, took a detailed and intenseinterest, designed to effect cultivation and maturation at an early stage. Itworked.
The flat now became the focus and hub of a fledglingfilm production.
Within days, car loads of actorish types werearriving on the crunchy gravelled forecourt to St Joan's and rapping on thefront door to be let in for audition and interview.
Since Wesley and Rufus were ensconced in Rufus'sfront room writing scripts and discussing production details, Damian ratherthought that it should be one of them who answered the door to their ownvisitors. They on the other hand considered their own activity too important tobe disturbed by the menial tasks of responding to callers by opening the doorto them and considered that Damian, or anyone else, perhaps one of the femaleinhabitants, could perform that function on an ad hoc basis.
As a result, Damian began to find folk arrivingaround the side of the flat and banging on the glass of his own French windowsto be let in.
On many of these occasions he was fast asleep havingtumbled into bed at five or six in the morning. On others, he was half naked inbed with a bird he'd picked up at a gig. Occasionally he was even concentratingintensely on the creation of a new work of art.
At first, Damian didn't mind the intrusion. It had asmack of vie bohéme about it which he enjoyed the flavour of. After afew days of it though, it was driving him out of his mind. He decided to takeit up with his tenant.
Once he was certain that the most recent batch ofhopefuls had left the building, Damian, with anger which had been steadilyfermenting for an hour or more, burst into the front room, Rufus's room,without waiting for the response to his knock, and let fly.
"Don't you guys realise that for the past fourdays, I have become your bloody door lackey. You have not managed to answer thedoor one single time to your visitors. They've been so pissed off that theycome round to my side of the house and bang on my window to be let in. Now I'mpissed off."
Rufus and Wesley were seated on one side of an oakdining table which they had set facing the door as a barrier between themselvesand their interviewees, the purpose, to set them not at all at ease so thatthey would have to fight the harder for their prospective director's attentionand approval.
"Do you not know about waiting for an invitationto enter after you knock?" inquired Rufus imperiously.
"Fuck you Rufus!" shouted Damian utterlyincensed. "There's no point in waiting for a sodding invitation to enterfrom you. You don't offer one. You haven't offered one to any of the fourthousand folk who've been sodding through the door of my flat all this week tosee you. That's why I'm here so bloody mad now. If you had more commoncourtesy, none of this would be necessary. Anyhow. I've had enough. I'm tellingyou here and now, bloody film director or no film director, if you don't answeryour own door from now on, you're out."
Damian turned on his heel, slammed the door heartilybehind him and stormed back to his own room.
A moment later there was polite tapping at the door.Damian rose and tore it open, still very much fuming. A red faced Wesley stoodin the opening with his hands poised finger tips together like he was about tobegin prayer.
"Damian, Damian. How terribly unfortunate foryou to be so distressed and I agree it's our fault entirely. We have been mostremiss. It's, well, frankly unforgivable. Nevertheless, I hope you will
"Oh cut the crap Wesley. You knew exactly whatyou were doing. You were playing the Hollywood movie mogul with your mate. Youthought you'd got a bloody blonde haired bird hanging about in the hall waitingon you hand and foot. Well it was me and you knew that too."
"Honestly Damian, we didn't realise who wasletting them in. We just, sort of, well I am really sorry. Honestly."Wesley was ashen, and truly remorseful, but was it enough?
"Look Wesley, I didn't count on this when I saidhe could rent the room. I have my own work to do. I may not look like I do alot some of the time, but I'm a musician. I'm a writer. I'm working too. I needmy peace and quiet and I need my space to concentrate and I'm not his servant.Is that clear?"
"Absolutely perfectly clear Damian," saidWesley, "and I can assure you, it will never happen again."
Wesley bowed his way out backwards, and the door wasclosed on the matter, although the next few times Damian met Rufus in thehallway, he would only countenance a scowl.
The progress in Wesley's career seemed to throw intorelief the failure to show progress in Damian's.
Despite a promising start with Steve Everest at CBS,the record deal was no nearer firming up than it had been at the outset. TedLandsman did not take Damian's calls. Chicklette was increasingly abrupt withhim. Gigs were few and far between. A string of guest females did nothing toassuage the loss of Patsy. The rent was due. Shit.
One Saturday morning, Damian had had one or morehours sleep and awoke to find two or three total strangers standing in themiddle of his room only a few feet from his bed, holding forth on topicsentirely new to him.
"We'll need to get about three 'blondes' andfour 'redheads' in here to light it properly. These windows'll need bluing upthough. When do we get the go ahead from Rufus?" This was the general gist.
Damian sat up and gathered his thoughts. Histravelling companion slumbered on.
"Who the hell are you?" demanded Damian.
"Oh sorry mate, didn't think we would disturbyou. Rufus said you'd got in late." said a balding guy in his forties,wearing denim dungarees.
"I did get in late. All the more reason to getsome sleep. But that doesn't answer my question. Who the hell are you? What thehell are you doing in my room?"
"Oh we're with the film. We're crew,"answered the dungarees.
The others stood sheepishly, hoping to get outunnoticed.
"Out! Out! Out!" shouted Damian waving hisarms in big shooing motions in the direction of the doorway.
They hastened into the hall and closed the doorbehind them. Chrissie stirred, or was it Annie? Damian couldn't remember. Heignored her and put his head under the covers.
Some hours later on, he woke again. This time therewas more than just a whispering, a conferring, taking place in the room. Thistime there were people in period costume being powdered and dusted. Lights werebeing arranged and a large motion picture camera was being manoeuvred on adolly. Damian leaned on his elbow and watched in disbelief. Chrissie or Anniewas no longer by his side. In fact she had been recruited to do make up onactors waiting in the wings. The wings happened to be the kitchen, thebathroom, the hallway and Bertie's room.
"Ah, you're awake! Jolly good. Then we can beginshooting in just a moment."
The first half of Rufus's remark was made to Damian,the second to the crew and cast in waiting.
Damian was flabbergasted. His flabber was so gastedin fact that he was totally unable to react. All his reactions to date had beenviolent and violated. This affront was so beyond his concept or control thatappropriate response required due consideration.
He said nothing at all but pulled bed sheets aroundhis nakedness and staggered wordlessly from the room. Pausing by the kitchen,he surveyed the scene of actors in preparation, some sitting, some readinglines aloud to themselves, some helping themselves to food from the cupboard.Damian ploughed on towards the bathroom. The door to Bertie's room was wideopen and two or three groups of strangers in costume were seated on the floorplaying cards. Bertie was nowhere to be seen. Damian gulped and swiped at hissweating brow.
"This is not happening." he said aloud.
He marched on to the bathroom at the end of thecorridor. The door was shut but opened without resistance. An unknown femalewas dabbing at the corners of her eyes with toilet tissue meanwhile another wasflushing the toilet with a vigour which indicated something she had recentlyput down it would not disappear.
"Would you all mind going away? This is my flatand I want to use the bathroom," demanded a weakening Damian.
"Just a mo sweety. Almost there!" sang theeye dabber with a RADA inflection.
"No now!" said Damian firmly. "Now! Iwant you out of here this instant. I want to sit on the toilet and I want to doit in private! Now!"
"OK darling we're on our way. No need to over doit." The two dearies dollied out with much tutting and eye raising.
"Some people!" one was heard to say.
Damian slammed the door and locked himself in thebathroom. Then he sat on the toilet and tried to think. What on earth washappening? Obviously Wesley's film was happening, that much was clear, but hadanything been said about it being filmed in the flat? He thought not. Were theysurreptitiously trying to shoot their movie at his expense without paying forstudios, sets and settings? Had they in fact asked his permission at some timewhen he was too stoned to notice and had he mistakenly agreed? God this wasawful.
There was a tapping at the bathroom door.
"Damian? Damian? It's Chrissie."
It had been Chrissie, thank God he now knew.
"Damian are you in there? It's Chrissie, can Icome in Damian?"
Damian cleared the night's mucous from his throat toanswer her call.
"What do you want? I'm having a shit, can itwait?" he said.
He wasn't doing a shit, he wanted more time to adapt,assimilate and re-structure.
"Damian, can I come in please? I need to talk toyou," she insisted.
"Oh fucking hell, all right!" he grumbledand flushed the toilet noisily so that she wouldn't know he was playing fortime.
Damian let her in and closed and locked the doorbehind her again.
"Isn't this fun Damian?" said Chrissie.
"What?" said Damian, "you must be mad!This isn't fun. This is a nightmare. I came home shagged out and I woke up to afucking nightmare."
"But, Damian, they're making a film! That's fun.Thank you Damian. I didn't know you were in on the film thing as well as music.Gosh it's really great!"
Such childish innocence was beyond Damian's ken. Hestared at her aghast.
"Do you like all this stuff?" he managed.
"It's fantastic Damian. Had you forgotten? Youdidn't tell me last night. It's just such good luck that I came back with you,otherwise I'd've missed all this excitement."
Damian pushed his head into his hands and rubbed hardup and down with them to try to force some reality back in there.
"Right, what time is it?" he demanded.
"It's about one o' clock and they're about tobreak for lunch. They've got picnic hampers and things outside in a van andthey're going to bring it all in to your room so that people can sit down andeat. It's too cold to eat outside or they'd picnic in the garden. That's whatthat Rufus told me. He's the one in charge. I've been doing make up for him onthe actors and actresses. It's marvellous."
Damian, still wrapped in white sheet, was perched onthe edge of the bath, surveying her all the while she filled him with ever moretraumatic information. Essential information about invaders who had taken hishome over, taken him over, taken his mind over. Jesus whatever was he going todo?
"Right!" he said decisively. "Gottaget dressed. Get my stuff outa my room, man," he addressed Chrissie,"bring it back to me here, then I can get dressed. Then I don'tknow," this last remark was directed at himself only.
A few moments later he was striding out of the flatand climbing into the Fiat. Chrissie was running along behind him, but hedidn't stop to take her on board or listen to her beseeches and screeched offthe gravel away from that raving monster picnic party, which continued in hisabsence pretty much as it had done in his presence.
After circling round the park a few times, Damiandecided that College might be a safe option for the rest of the day.
He'd forgotten what College looked like having notbeen as much as through the gates for three months. Maybe he'd even manage todo a bit of work in the pottery.
It was cool and quiet amidst the clay in the potterystudio.
He lay on his back on one of the scrubbed benches anddozed fitfully. Dreamy thoughts hummed in and out of his semi-conscious state,occasionally causing him to tremble a little with suspicions of fear.
Finally he roused himself and considered throwingsome new pots. He helped himself to a good scoop of fresh grey clay and begankneading it on the bench. He cut it into equal lumps with a wire and switchedon a wheel. Dousing his work with handfuls of water, he began to centre theclay and raise and lower it on the wheel to make it supple.
At last he swiftly and expertly pulled it up into acylinder and bowed it out from the inside into a jar. He stopped the wheel andcutting the work away, slid the pot onto a tile, and then began the wholeprocess again.
When half a dozen largely identical pots werestanding on the table next to him, he stood back to admire his progress. Hebent low and close into them to study the symmetry and check the thicknesses.They were not bad. His touch was not totally forgotten despite the lack ofpractice.
He cleaned his hands over a large tin sink and driedthem off on a length of rag, then rolled a ciggie while thinking what to donext.
He looked out of the studio window to the yard beyondand decided to take a stroll around the grounds.
What if he should bump into Patsy? His heart jumped.His mind leapt. He closed his eyes and waited until the feeling passed.
Instead of walking, he went to the Fiat and drovesedately down to the Halls at the other end of the campus, drawn like a magnettowards his old hunting grounds. Maybe there might be some tea to be had.
He drew to a halt and climbed out of the carsauntering casually towards the dining block. It was already about four p.m.
Pausing at the large sliding windows, he put his handto the glass and peered in.
There was Patsy, and she wasn't alone.
Of course she wouldn't be alone. She had plenty offriends and acquaintances just as he had. He pressed his face harder againstthe glass and shielded his eyes against the reflection with his hand in themanner of a certain Mr Mikley he couldn't help observing.
Patsy was deep in conversation with some guy. She wasleaning across the table towards him and reaching out to touch his hand. Shewas clasping this unknown's hand and roaring with laughter.
'That's my Patsy,' thought Damian and desireimmediately surged him forwards to speak to her. She caught his eye as he leftthe glass to race to the door and her look of horror stopped him in his tracks.It was no good going forwards. That avenue was a dead end. He had to gosideways or choose another road.
* * * * *
Sitting in the Fiat on the gravel outside the flatwas almost as disturbing as the sight of Patsy in the dining hall. At least allthe invaders appeared to have gone. It looked very much as though Rufus andWesley were not inside to welcome him home either. He slowly slid out frombehind the steering wheel and shut the door with as quiet a click as Fiats werecapable of. Such slow deliberate action was not a normal Damian feature. Hewalked all around the perimeter of the flat on the garden path, looking intoeach window in turn, especially his own. He even peered through the window ofhis own room to see if there were any remnants of crew or actors haunting hishabitat. It looked OK as far as he could tell.
He went at last back to the front door and allowedhimself to enter.
Once in the room, he breathed a sigh of immenseproportions and relief and searching round for a flake of dope he managed toroll himself a small joint before firing up the Fender. Finally, he allowedmany pent up hours to be released in furious panoply of discord.
Sheila, who had been hiding in her room throughoutthe day, heard the cacophony and came into Damian's Room to share Damian's joyin peace at last.
Then they lay in each other's arms for someconsiderable time after the last wisps of sound and smoke had faded.
And kissing slowly and sweetly, finally made love.