One Enchanted evening in Whites: so, let us start honestly, without indulging in faux ideological one-upmanship, or casually pretending that back-in-the-day I sat in snug splendour upon a warm seat of influence as a committee member in the Comintern; or even gigged as junior editor of Lotta Continua. I did, but that’s a whole new scandal, a cast of thousands etc. Today I remain a gentleman, albeit one of diminished means, with precious few foolish accoutrements to declare bar my congenital masculine geniuses- these lamentably on occasion will entrance me into forgetting that discretion is indeed, more often than not, the better part of valour (as so happened recently).
Do you know those times? We’ve all likely had them- in your local enjoying a quiet drink most probably after having watched a Chelsea game; quietly & unobtrusively discussing sedulous thoughts with a few select spars prior to sensing someone parked up at an adjacent table, prattling inanely to silly pals, spouting immature observations based solely on their own two-bob myopic ignorant blinkered opinions. As the night passes you’ve maybe had marginally more pints than you’d originally planned or accounted for- slowly yet ever so surely becoming increasingly pissed. Still you can’t help hearing that obstreperous background persona non grata making reckless-imbecilic comments, repeatedly getting louder, noisier, darker- lazily, carelessly playing to a crass gallery of unkempt dummies. Forebodingly you gradually become a soupçon over bothered. Still convincing yourself that you’re more mature than him, you let it pass: no dramas. Urbane anger management clicks in but tellingly your mate actually revisits the bar- when you thought he’d disappeared for a well-earned leak- hence unknown to you he offers up yet another unexpected pint of Punk IPA (one of over the eight) & indebted you honourably, albeit reluctantly, accept his generosity (loosely thinking ‘I really must be meandering home to attend to Mother’) whilst also imagining this prophetic pint could figuratively tip one over a rocky precipice. However, those stellar Whites ‘homies’ easily assure & flatter you otherwise, as they always seem to do, so obediently one stays put- temporally muzzled.
Nevertheless, eating away at your customary happy chemically charged mood swing is a frigging stale banana, sat at an enormous adjoining walnut dining table, that you’re now certain is looking for trouble. Still you’re a refined, cultured European, a fully-grown renaissance adult- in stark contrast to this giant wank*r & tableau vivant of associated gimps. You like to think that you’re well above gratuitous childish friction, but no, you just can’t handle it any longer. Full of drunk-wired-bravado, you suddenly turn around snarling, hot sang noble arises, adrenalin pumping- a visceral grievance evident in both expression & body language. Each moment seems to flow in slow motion: friends cautionary voices faintly distant- inaudible, as if you’ve cotton wool stuffed into both cauliflower ears. Clenching fists, you alter states, as if some chap’s randomly flicked an emergency switch: you flip! Not only ready but determined to have a right royal tear up & your primary target’s that Berkshire sat in the VIP reservation. In milliseconds you abruptly stand, erect, spiritedly up-out from a deep leather Chesterfield, approaching the targeted ugly boor (multiple frit knob-jockeys dotted around him) who senses a legitimate anger & unadvisedly jerks up in quasi self-defence: ultra-violence erupts, loud voices, screams, tears- but noticeably no tiaras.
Diamond cut crystal glasses get smashed, antique teak tables knocked over. You deal with it, delivering a proper straightener- a real one-sided row. That annoying unprepared twat’s suddenly on the wrong end of numerous hard knuckled blows; aristocratic blood is spilled, staining your newly tailored clothes, it’s all across his newly decorated boat race too, & his pink, possibly Hollister, or similarly inappropriate branded t-shirt’s now claret-red. His fair-weather entourage swiftly departed, melting away from one’s testosterone, clearly flustered now meekly mincing, simultaneously with style, into Boodle’s. He alone remains cowering upon a rich Axminstered floor- his effete spindly legs instructed by his brain to no longer support him due to a barrage of vicious heavy punches rained down upon his battered canister. He winces, peeking up submissively to seek mercy. You glare back admiringly down upon your handiwork, declaring yourself victor as nothing’s coming back. And then finally, post-carnage, you make a swift exit. Heading home, strolling down St. James’s with senses heightened, still shaking slightly with rage cum fear, & feeling as if one’s head needs a fucking enema. Piece by piece one truly considers what’s just happened, & whom one’s just totally mullered: only the bleeding Duke of Westminster. MOTHER!
Brigadier Robert D’Alby (a sweaty tale of irresistible desire within remote salty environs)
Brigadier Robert D’Alby of those immaculate Glorious Roscommon’s was a fine figure of a man. As a Sandhurst officer cadet, it was crystal clear D’Alby was hewn from exactly the right stuff- possessing athleticism, but devoid of narcissism, & employing a military style of life, minus that all-too-familiar ‘boot-polish-up-the-kilt’ mentality. Unerring devotion to discipline & Spartan indifference to discomfort made D’Alby a splendid soldier. Additionally, over time D’Alby’s ability to remain aloof- distanced from subordinates, enabled access to genuinely private thoughts, beyond the appreciation of his rough & ready, non-commissioned comrades. In fact, even fellow officers bored D’Alby: their drunken parties, latent homosexuality, imbecilic gambling, & tunnel vision, interdicted any possible camaraderie. Yet, above all, he abhorred their collective disregard of cubic art. Still, such wilful blindness didn’t detract D’Alby from an admiration for their old-fashioned strength of character; nor could crude behavioural patterns, disseminated amongst his natural ruling-class, annul an esteem in which he held an intrinsic nationalistic existentialism, pursued by élite English gentlemen.
Since his retirement, & subsequent initiation into an ancient guild of mariners, D’Alby had taken up a reclusive commitment as a private lighthouse keeper. As a proud wickie, he kept Bishop Rock Lighthouse shining bright- & spotlessly clean. During his spare time, he manufactured basic cotton rugs, model ships- frequently embattled within bottles- & many other crafty objets d’art. It was a lonely, challenging life- his service made as comfortable as possible by central heating, frozen crabsticks, & Cornish regional television. In the fullness of time, Robert quietly observed how natural power, emitted from the bowels of Mother Earth, reigned supreme- that is, put simply- that man, a sentient nonentity, merely floated upon her ethereal waves. Yet one who could curry Poseidon’s favour was blesséd indeed. So, weather permitting, Robbie irregularly attended a local mariner’s guild, where a gracious, & most proper art of ingratiation, was taught to select scholars in confidence- there one could secretly manipulate mystical gifts, according to one’s wisdom & talent. These occult factors were two tools of divine provocation, both of which were empowered with prodigious energies that enabled a righteous seeker to beseech, & be adorned with, charmed privileges afforded to an orthodox craftsman. These were as follows: one pukka velvet wishing cap (immaculately derived from the original recipe of Fortunatus), & one pair of elegant lorgnettes, proffering unlimited all-sightedness.
Now, amusing as this esoteric bourgeois scenario might seem, it was lamentably not entirely satisfying. Hence predictably, increasingly influenced by the compelling literature of Aleister Crowley, Roberto sat forlornly under his pointy pink cupola, staring disconsolately through magical retinas at his unemployed purple Hampton. Hallucinatory masturbation wasn’t working- hard-core, no-nonsense skulduggery was called for. So, one day this abstemious xenophobe- inasmuch as his wasp’s waist seldom played host to dodgy foreign foods- clipped his magnificent monkey wrench moustache, smeared petroleum jelly liberally around his unloved ring hole, & purposefully penned a charmingly succinct advertisement, to be displayed in the Lonely-Hearts section of City Limits magazine ref: pubescent wantonness; which he dispatched post-haste, by means of a supplies boat, which fortnightly brought him his baked beans marinated in orange tomato sauce.
Pagan Erotica in a Lighthouse? Teenagers! Call D’Alby now!
‘Yes, yes. London. Now there’s a filthy city full of perverted deviants.’ He thought fiendishly. Inconspicuously revelling in sexual imagery, still on the surface, Robbie’s attitude publicly conveyed a cultivated character, & simultaneously an impression of an esquire who coveted beauty & classical repose- but instinctively, he required a fist fuck too. Processing contradictory hormonal & religious pressures resulted in guilt, & his superego took umbrage, scolding the little id beast for its impure thoughts ‘just lay back & think of England!’
D’Alby undressed in front of a full-length French brass Cheval mirror, increasingly perturbed & critically reviewing his aging reflection- an inner resentment grew darker. Most shocking was his nauseating, surly features which appeared outlandishly ugly, quite bizarrely misshapen, & obnoxious in every detail. Each flaccid aspect called for slashing, & expert mutilation. A self-defacing element imbued Robbie’s mind. ‘Oh, for a Black-&-Decker Workmate!’ Bobby hated it. This damned chimera was no longer he; rather a mocking curse.
Whilst hailstones crashed against toughened glass surrounding him, D’Alby laughed uproariously loud as he smeared arterial blood over his scarred nakedness. He sliced his nipples off & super glued them to his knees. Plus, he took a cheese grater to the ship’s ginger tomcat, while ejaculating over some lucid adolescent memory. Relaxing later, he reflected upon infamous initiation ceremonies he’d witnessed agog. Stan Crabbs for example: that plausible cephalopod became unstuck, his ovoidal working-class body falling prostrate between scary cloven hooves- where he was instantly plagued by ankylosis, & force-fed slough from a million damned excrescences, whilst his raw sphincter was hurriedly invaded by a vile swarm of chattering animalcules- besieging his cerebrum & infesting his imagination with an obscure form of regimental Catholicism. Cruelly enough, metemsomatosis irretrievably undermined Crabbs’ innate processes of perception, rendering his substitute frenetic, barren, snarling, & regardent. Why he had to suffer so, fuck only knows.
‘And then us fishermen, aristocratic seafarers & the like all steamed the fat cunt & put his eyes out. He can’t see anything now.’
Following a dour two-fold month of auto-erotic overload, resulting in the first instance of little more than a sore willy, while in the second, only sensations of dizziness, nausea, acute futility, & having received absolutely no replies whatsoever, Bob nonchalantly applied his Fastskin Elites, before suddenly, yet decisively, jumping overboard in his best Speedos, determined to swim ashore, & hard ride Shanks’s pony to London immediately- in his Picaresque personage, to get into some heavy-duty cottaging. He wondered what the precious all-seeing eye would make of that. Beat off an all-penetrating stethoscope perhaps, or tickle its ever-swollen vulva?
‘Because whatever it is, & wherever it’s coming from, one needs a jolly good going over now & again, just to maintain one’s sanity. Seen?’
What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?
Mark my words, apart from being a seminal thinker & slimy foreign art monger, Vas Pretorius DeFerens was something of an enigma to friends, enemies, & medical science alike. Allegedly he was a proud possessor of either three or four perfectly formed testicles, which tourist coach parties of the incurably bi-curious & naive were regularly welcomed to examine (upon a reasonable payment of corkage), just so long as they proceeded slowly through Vas’s open fly- at which point invariably he brutally resynthesised those tiny teeth into a sudden playful biting unity, normally after drawing a groper’s attention to some trivial detail of architraving, weather, etc. (as advertised, I‘ve completed my memoirs as a short story; a quite draining & frankly illegal process which necessitated breaking all 37 of the past Labour government’s Police & Criminal Justice Acts. But in the name of Mammon, what can you do?) So, it’s all quite fascinating, & whilst I have no obvious quarrel to pick with any man’s physique (with the sole exception of Eric Pickles), I mention these positively material facts to warn that you’ve unadvisedly strayed from the path, & night must fall. Keep up. You youngsters could learn a lot if only you paid heed.
Let me confess without duress: I really can’t legitimately claim to understand Vas’ nature, despite the fact (& source of endless gossip) that we spent multiple lunar months engaged in a perfervid co-habitation in a Hoxton studio; such was his delightful mastery of disinformation, dark propaganda & intoxication that, I never managed to arrive at a final figure for his testes (fleeting glances, all from dangerous angles, tentatively recall they were jet black & vulcanized like his durable character). Whatever ginger evidence I have I lay freely before you; they’re only crumbs I spare, each liable to be snaffled up by a myriad of nocturnal beasts coming to life in bracken & furze, but follow them as best you can- it’s too late to turn back now. Alas, there are no garnished spicy vol-au-vents to sustain you. You’re in way over your head, I fear.
Vas’ legendary libido was immune to entropy or ennui. His grinding demands were a continual worry, unconcerned with tradition, expense, or, to be frank, practicality- I’d often discover Dutch gentlemen’s magazines (of a kind featuring photography of undraped women) squirreled away in the oddest of places. I knew they were his as Superintendent McGregor, my old Vice Squad pal (since gone freelance), verified his inimitable paw prints. These were good old days of covert cash transactions my boy. Investigation also found disturbing designs & working prototypes for- shall we say gadgets, in many more than one of the two-hundred & thirty-six secret compartments of his secretary. Now, I don’t think for a moment Vas’ ‘preferences’ particularly interest you- you’ve got enough on your plate as it is, looking at those dreadful holes in your old worn boots (are they hand-me-downs?) & the sheer depth of snow round here. But they do cast a slanted light on a brilliant criminal mind, & whilst it may be the case that you maintain law is crime- I make no excuses, offer no apologies. Vas will always be a veritable villain. Not in business practice, where all’s fair & little love guaranteed, but in his damnable lack of honour regarding aesthetic criticism. Vas’ self-promotion, remarkable before he met me, became nothing less than lupine afterwards- for goodness sake no, I wouldn’t climb that tree if I were you; it’s the first place they’ll sniff out silly. Do get a grip & take some responsibility for your plight! I digress: so, I woke up one morning, a little after noon, to find an estate agents clerk staring at me with undissembled fear. Back in the glory days of the Great Boom, you understand, when any property vacated before teatime would be occupied & fully furnished by vespers, at a sixty percent mark-up. On reflection, that stunt had many of Vassily Perestroika Deferenovitch’s hallmarks- handcuffs, treacle, an anaconda, a mousetrap in the first aid box; but how long had he been planning it? Before he met me? After I said what I did on demand about his precious book lionising Andy Warhol? Maybe it was thin skin or sheer caprice- it scarcely matters does it? Pardon me? Oh, howling? I don’t think so. No, my mistake, yes there it is, right behind you.
I reliably heard a week later, through McGregor, that he’d shackled up with Sir Hugh Corduroy in Belgravia. Nice but dim, a remarkable chap, Sir Hugh, could stammer incoherently in no fewer than eight Arabian dialects. Gosh! Hottentot, Farsi, Yiddish, take your pick: he was incomprehensible in it. Anyway, as you may know, previously he was a respected as a patron of the arts, pillock of the church, & former director of the V&A etc. Tolerated by peers, trusted by subordinates, feared by staff, a great Englishman- before you could say ‘Duchess of Gloucester’ he’d pen a more brainless Times diary than Sir Roy Strong. No, trust me, I have clippings. In retrospect it seems accumulatively predictable that a lifetime of total emotional deprivation should have led him into Vas’ gingerbread parlour. OK, pipe down, I’m telling my stories have patience, but yes, now you mention it, they’re all around you. Man up. Where was I? Of course, what followed was contemporary folklore- how Sir Hugh, through Vas’ ‘Caliban Arts’, traded the Elgin marbles for Andean wood carvings of doubtful provenance, his Rembrandt sketches for an acrylic tennis racquet pixillage- cats & umbrellas also featured, if memory serves, that’s right- created by a second year arts student, some sordid strumpet of no good breeding- his Vermeer for a breeze block & tarpaulin ‘installation’, his entire portfolio of primary shares for a chance to wrap the outside of Acton in back issues of The World of Interiors: such insatiable insanity. Destruction ensued, as night follows day. I fondly recollect running into him behind King’s Cross one wintry evening, in the company of a pretty young Wandervögel; that such a renowned member of Blighty’s Establishment should fall into rank disrepair, honestly one shouldn’t laugh. I can still picture his ragged silhouette hunched against a brooding February sky, insipid light shining through his fallen arches, rain that spluttered from his choked guttering, & a colony of zoonotic bats hanging around uncomfortably in his cracked façade. He was totally spent, utterly ruined. Died later next spring, ulcerative colitis returned the post-mortem, although the cruel whisper in Whites opined, he was burgled to death. No! Don’t start running, that’s what they want, they’re simply waiting for it. Have you learned nothing? That’s better. Anyhow, after inheriting Corduroy’s estate, Vincent Pietro DiFerrari consolidated his much-heralded renaissance by leading a popular national crusade to recapture & repatriate all those treasures he himself had shop soiled to sell abroad. Amazingly, or rather inevitably, he once again came up trumps (turned out clauses written in invisible ink were legally binding after all, on the principle of caveat emptor & tuff-titty). There never was any lawful chance to stop the bounder (he was consistently one step ahead), but after that carnival of criminality nobody else even tried. He branched out; diversified, pretty soon there wasn’t a pie in the proverbial pantry innocent of his thumbprint. His Tavistock Square pied à terre became Bloomsbury’s swinging hot spot, precisely the place to discuss perspectives in post-structuralist criticism, have one’s nipples pierced, take a heroin overdose, & play the cocoa-futures market; swaggeroos & mountebanks from five continents perched there. Arbitrageurs, faith healers, nihilistic young rock stars, depraved heiresses with thousand-pound orchids in their hair & many faces of Satan tattooed across the length & breadth of their inner thighs. All these were nothing more than local colour, background noise to VPD’s glaring blaring bray. Well whistle if you must, by all means, & respect for trying, but do you really, even in your wildest dreams, think they appreciate Mozart?
Oh, Vas, I’ve met a few genuinely great men, but only one colossus: he became a cultural reference point, the zeitgeist incarnate. He was the opinion formers opinion former, intellectual fashion leader, international trendsetter, pathfinder & trailblazer. The New Man- one of his wheezes, the New Woman too, for that matter, the New World Order for all I know (he hasn’t written me recently). Rottweilers, eco-friendly washing powder, Porsches & red braces! You’ve never thought about it, have you? But red braces! Like unavoidable diamond bullets of truth! The genius of the man, the anti-mensch, the monster! At his peak, countless leading institutions from the Royal College of Vetinary Surgeons to the Bilderberg Group accredited him. He’d grab a canapé & a glass of Moët at the Soviet ambassador’s daughter’s sixteenth birthday party (Order of Lenin First Class on his ample bosom), before dashing off to a debriefing with some CIA Head of Station behind Victoria Coach Station. Crikey! A wanky conceited cunt he may’ve been, but Vas was paid a sum not unadjacent to thirty thousand pounds sterling by a British Broadcasting Corpse to propagate his philosophy for one hour every Monday morning on Radio 4’s Today Programme: the horror. I recall the last time I saw Vlad Perrier Difference: live on ITV evening news, barrelling through Heathrow, reporters armed with the sacred light of truth cowering before bodyguards licensed to kill & armed with electric cattle goads. It was only a week after the Crash I believe- he wasn’t the sort of Johnny to hang around waiting for women or children, no sir. Everything created has a sell-by date, he remarked, almost to himself, before turning triumphantly to face down his inquisitors. I’ll be back, he announced.
Meaningful pointed questions were being asked by then, OPERATION SCAT came to light, & fifty fat middle-aged merchant bankers awoke with headaches to discover their virginities defiled. We, willy-nilly his fey disciples, awoke with hang-over’s to discover our palettes no longer smeared with the actual colours our eyes beheld; in order to have fun one must retain at least a memory of youth. The rest you should know, & here we are. Well, anyway, those were the end of days my friend- when the scary sable forest was just a distant inky line on the horizon, & many & sweet were the birds that sang. Well, I haven’t time to stand out here with you chattering all night. Excuse me, but I’m a busy man. Yes, I’m sure I’d feel the same if I were as poor as you. I still maintain it’s a lifestyle choice, so own it. Oh, come now, don’t take on so- here, you can have my handkerchief, you can’t see in this light but it’s a red spotted jobbie. Is there a safe route out of here for you? Not really, I made an effort to assist with directions but they’re just breadcrumbs. I wouldn’t pin too much hope on crumbs. Listen, if you’d stop crying for a moment. And let go of my hand. What’s that? Yes indeed, they’ve got big eyes, haven’t they? Don’t let them see that you’re afraid, it excites them! Look here, I don’t mean to be unkind, but sadly it’s your own fault, really. In any case, I’m truly sorry, but it’s sauve qui peut nowadays. Well, goodbye sonny. And yes, bonne chance to you too. Bye. I beg your pardon?
Oh, suppertime, I guess.
email address below
Work With Me
E F Hay exists in Britain & rather than follow spurious leaders- over the years has intermittently found it therapeutic to write out various thoughts, feelings & ideas as short stories, to be examined, considered, & interpreted by clinical practitioners, who may offer professional psychological assistance.