Friday, September 10, 2010

Where the nuts come from

I meet the Brazilian in a bar. I've gone out for a drink and as I sit down, I realise two things:
1) I'm surrounded by transvestites
2) They've announced those fateful words "Two minutes till Sandra comes on stage".

The trannies aren't proper glamorous trannies. These look like mildly frumpy people who get their fashion tips from Les Dawson. They are almost all of them clutching the handbags you find at jumble sales.

Sandra is, if you've not seen her, well... it's just one of those awful moments when you think "Have I really seen that same act for ten years? Oh lord."

There's a bar downstairs. "Oh, the ladies are just finishing." I'm told. I see a sign up that says something like "Shirley Valentine's". There's clearly some kind of transvestite gathering. I'm oddly reminded of The Witches convention in Roald Dahl.

But actually, inside it's okay. A large man in a small frock rushes past me into the night, and I'm at the bar. And it's empty. Well, almost empty.

When I was a kid I used to imagine the world was made for me. You know - that only my house was real, that all the others were fakes, that people were as real as the newsreader on television (that episode of Willo The Wisp has a lot to answer for). I wonder at what point you stop realising that the world revolves around you and you revolve around the world? Thinking back to some of my exes.... Anyway, the point is that sometimes, the people in a bar just appear to have been hired in for the evening by a casting agency. They just can't have a real existence elsewhere, can they?

I'm not talking about the large man in the corner, sipping a pint and looking miserable. I'm sure he's got a home, a dog, and may even be called Barry. Only he rarely goes home, hardly sees the dog, and never uses his name. He just sits in the corner of that pub, of every pub.

Nor am I talking about the incredibly athletic black guy who, even though it's been a damp summer has come out in short shorts. They're red and covered in glitter but hey - he's probably just nipped in for a quick drink on his way home from choreographing the 1970s.

But... but I am talking about the guy who is wearing a doublet and hose. Actual, proper, secondary school Romeo costume. He's drinking a J20, so he must, actually, be real. But and yet.... he can't be. He just stands there in a corner, watching one of those insane PubTV flat screens (why are you advertising your bar in a bar? I mean, we're standing in it). He looks insoucient - he is eyeing up everyone shamelessly. It's not so much cruisy as predatory. As though he's waiting to be challenged to a dual.

And that's when I realise I'm not the only person trying not to laugh. For there's a handsome man, and we're both pointedly not laughing at the last of the capulets.

So we go outside for a cigarette. His name's Phillip and he's from Brazil. "Not Phillipe?" I ask. He glowers at me. We walk back to the station and he arranges to come round at the weekend.

Amazingly, he does. He teaches English, he's moved to England on a whim. Well, he says a whim, but...

His story is complicated. He's a vegetarian, which isn't so easy in Brazil. So he moved out of the city, and taught in a vegetarian community. I ask what this is and he winces. It's complicated, but the stews were nice and eventually... they got a little mad. So he moved to England.

How mad? I find out when he asks me what I do. I try and explain. He looks suddenly nervous as though a secret society has caught up with him, plied him with cheap cava, Camel lights and sexual intercourse to try and win him back.

"You work with.... Aliens?" he asks. I nod.

And then it all comes out. The community he went to work for got increasingly less about vegetarianism and ecology and more about the aliens. Specifically The Old Ones who lived before mankind, an ancient and wise race who slept in their underground cities and were awaiting the signal of return, a signal which had never come. However, the community had worked out how to bring about this signal by reuniting 13 discs of power. When he'd been there there'd just been the 12, but then someone had apparently unearthed the 13th and he'd hotfooted it on the next plane out.

"Goodness," I say, "That alien race sounds just like the..." And then, seeing the haunted look in his eyes, I shut up.

He is trying to escape an imminent alien apocalypse by working in a cafe in Kentish Town. He's probably not the first.

The next day he texts to say he's moved to Wiltshire. Or does he?


Chris Klee said...

It sounds like you stumbled into the gay version of Bertram's Hotel. The Brazilian is probably an international crime magnate.

Skip said...

oh. very much approved.