Hey, Barbecutie

Posts Tagged ‘comfort at a time of need

Sunny Warrenpoint

I live in London but sporadically return to Northern Ireland, to the small town where I lived since birth. I once had an idea to write down every internal thought not related to an external event (i.e. one that was actually occurring in reality) over the course of a single day. Then I realised that it would mostly be me thinking about kissing. So I did this instead:

A bad place to get the giggles is when being frisked by airport security. It makes you look more suspicious and with an accent like mine, you can’t get much more suspicious. No, it is not appropriate to tell them that this is the most physical contact you’ve had with another human being in weeks.

Male body hair is inevitable, and mostly inoffensive, unless it takes the form of a hairshirt so intense that it peeks out a good inch above the collar of your t-shirt, and especially when I’m stuck behind you at close proximity in a queue for nearly half an hour. It was an unhappy occasion.

Heathrow crosses itself – the people coming from Ireland and the people going to Ireland cross paths, separated by glass partitions. We don’t look at each other. On one side, sepia pictures of London landmarks welcome the arrivals. Our side get the Irish counterparts, blurry, generic green fields and aged Celtic crosses. A bridge. Nothing so iconic as Nelson or Big Ben. But in a way that makes me even more ready to escape.
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As a young man, [Salvador Dali] was totally asexual, and forever making fun of friends who fell in love or ran after women – until the day he lost his virginity to Gala & wrote me a 6-page letter detailing, in his own inimitable way, the pleasures of carnal love. (Gala’s the only woman he ever really made love to. Of course, he’s seduced many, particularly American heiresses; but those seductions usually entailed stripping them naked in his apartment, frying a couple of eggs, putting them on the woman’s shoulders, and, without a word, showing them to the door.)

— from “My Last Sigh” by Luis Buñuel.

To calm her down, I asked her to recite what I knew to be her favourite American poem.

‘Okay, James Joyce-‘ I prompted.

‘James Joyce was stupid. He didn’t know as much as I know. I’d rather throw dead batteries at cows than read him. Everything was fine until he came along. He started the Civil War. He tried to get the French involved but they wouldn’t listen. They filled him up with pastries and desserts. They tried to get us to use the metric system and we said, No, go away, we like our rulers. Thomas Jefferson said, You always get the rulers you deserve.’

‘Do you know any other poems by heart?’

‘No.’

(An extract from “A Very Practical Joke” by Sheila Heti. This is my favourite collection of letters, words and phrases in lingual history, and has been a great comfort to me at times like these.)