No. 91 A Twin Room in the Honeymoon Hotel

I’d chosen a romantic hotel in the South of Goa for Mr and Mrs Bentley-Livingstone. The hotel was quite magnificent for a cheap package, set in front of a long/wide stretch of sandy beach. On arrival we were pleased to be able to swap the double for a twin room, the hotel reception insisted on Gill and I keeping the free bottle of bubbly that had been put in the original room to celebrate the wedding that never happened. I got the feeling all the staff knew of my non-wedding, they were very kind during our two week stay. We were only disappointed to be located miles away from the cool Goa places my Pelekas friends had spoken about, but we soon found that taxis were cheap and/or we were able to hitch to Baga beach where there were parties and huts with DJ and disco light (a lone Indian turning on and off the centre piece lone red bulb from a switch by the door).
Normally I would have loved the hippy vibe of this part of Goa, but the day after Archer had left, MS symptoms had flared up and my walking was shite. Sand was uncomfortable, walking on the beach felt like dragging wellies out of Glastonbury mud, tired after a festival of rain, with wet sand in the wellies – under the feet, over the feet and between the toes. Drinking was the only thing that relieved the discomfort and I was happy to be in a hot country, the best place for recovery.
I spent most days round the pool, eeking every bit of vitamin d out of the sun. Gill needed more stimulation so her and another singleton we’d met in the hotel paired up and explored the surrounding areas.
Every evening a band played in the dining area outside by the pool. Sometimes Gill stayed out late with her new friend which conveniently left me with nothing to do but eye up the lead guitarist of the band. It was hard deciding whether to go for it sooner rather than later, but the build-up left me with something to fantasize about while I dozed by the pool. I never saw my prey/his prey in the day until he appeared from nowhere on our last afternoon and crouched down by my sun bed. We smiled at each other and I gave him a cigarette. I was trying to cut down by smoking Silk Cult, the guitarist tore off the filter before accepting my lighter which was one from my Greek collection, the classic naked Greek God with huge penis. He laughed, I’d been writing my college therapy journal and I showed him my pen, also from my Greek collection but not so Greek, the pen was the classic man at beach with trunks on, turn it upside down, man’s trunks come down (not so sexist cause all the hetro men had the women whose bikini top and bottoms came down). My Indian guitarist laughed again, he needed no more encouragement.
When the band finished playing that night I hung about in the foyer, leaning on an ornate pillar, smoking. The guitarist appeared guitar less. I kind of realised he could get in trouble for what we were about to do, we needed to be discreet. We walked out of the hotel separately, I caught him up a few meters along, then we turned down a side lane together. We did it standing up against a building of some sort, nearly erotic, but not quite, it seemed such a Goa package hotel guitarist moment and reminded me of Essex Music Men time (No. 25-29), but I didn’t want to go back in time.
Gill and I travelled home the following day, my legs a little more steady and feet less fizzy after my liaison with guitar man, shagging I believed to work better than MS drugs on offer.
“I want to settle down, I’m so bored” I said to Gill as we sat on the plane, pouring out our third gin and tonic. Gill had had her children and two marriages really young, she was a decade older than me, I considered her a proper person, settled, she had her own flat, a proper job and sons not much younger than me. I was beginning to envy everyone who had a children.
“You will.” She said.
“Life’s pretty shit though, generally I mean.” I could talk like this with Gill, she was like a surrogate aunt and a bloody good Samaritan, even better than me.
“You’ve had it tough, you’ve had a huge disappointment, MS is shite, you’re doing really well.” She stopped to suck on the tiny piece of lemon from the plastic glass. “Things will get better. I always think if you get one good day out of two, or about 100 good a year, life’s worth living.”
Gill hugged me as our taxi from Gatwick dropped her off at New Cross, she waved me off as the driver turned into the Old Kent Road.
I began counting the days that were good, if I had two bad days in a row I would expect two good the next, and so on. A few months later our manager told us that the Marie Stopes Annex was closing down and she would be retiring. I was transferred to work in the Marie Stopes House, just down the road. Working with people who could afford private health care was completely different, clients didn’t respect clinic staff in the same way as the women coming for abortions and I found myself resenting them. Sensing my displeasure in the front line, my new manager allowed me to do the fertility and vasectomy counselling, this began with a week of studying fertility counselling and sitting in on a few vasectomies. Tim Black, the then big boss of the Marie Stopes organisations, carried out these ‘little op’s’. The men didn’t seem to mind me witnessing their balls being mucked about with by this grand doctor, but I can still recall the smell of burning skin.
A few months into the new job my Annexe friend Mary left the House and there was now no one I felt I could relate to. I counted the bad days, and I counted the bad days.
It’d been nearly a year since I’d met Archer, I’d had my 30th birthday and the summer was ending. My legs weren’t great again and I’d given up going to hospital appointments and had started seeing a homeopath, I’d take little white pills and hope for the best. With no men to talk about (or avoid talking about) my sessions with Ian became mostly about my past and family. Despite having my private landline, I hadn’t spoken with my parents in a while. I invested in an answering machine, hoping that might make me more accessible to others but it was depressing to come home from work or college with no flashing light so I turned it off. One Saturday I was counting the bad days and making a graph of their ascent when Gill rang.
“Fancy a party tonight?”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s