No. 87 The Goth

Chris sublet the two other bedrooms in the maisonette flat.  He was a High Priest of a witch coven and meetings were held at the flat (post coded Mottingham, but the nearest station was Elmstead Woods, a short walk through the woods).

I didn’t get involved with Chris and the coven in the summer months as they had their meetings in the woods, and by the time I’d got home from work, they had already changed into their witch robes and left the flat for their secret wood clearing away from the main drag to the station.  I was always in bed before they got back and they kept quiet.  Once I got up for the loo and Chris was in the hallway with his long purple velvet robe wide open with long purple todger on full display.

The flat was above a shop on two levels, there were three bedrooms.  Chris and I had one each and Ricky moved in to take the other.  Ricky was a goth, he had long black hair and wore a purple silk bandana, large hoop earrings, black leathers and long-sleeved, multicoloured flowing tops, with purple in.

As the winter months drew in their witchy practice moved into the flat and when I got back from work, if I hadn’t gone for drinks with Sam,  I was ‘cut’ into their circle as a coven guest which meant that a sword was placed on my shoulder then directed – North, South, East and West (sweeping the circle?!) and the witches chanted stuff.  The room was candle lit and after getting stoned we went skyclad (naked) and paired off, or just hung about watching Chris and Maureen (High Priestess) get off with each other.  It’s strange, but apart from Ricky and I, the others did actually look like witches – Chris had greasy be-draggled  hair with a large spot on his nose, Maureen had the witchy large protruding chin and Lisa had a curved spine and a moustache on occasions.  They were the regulars and others popped in and out, equally as witch-like.  It was hard to know who was who as the robes had hoods and then when the robes came off I was too stoned to see clearly.

Because I fancied Ricky and he fancied me we got off with each other and I would sleep in his room after the coven shenanigans.  Ricky had a girlfriend and I had Fraser so it was an unsaid boundary that it was only on witchy Thursdays this would happen.

A few months into the routine Fraser’s weekend home visit was arranged.  I felt guilty and told Chris high priest I wouldn’t be joining the circle anymore.  It didn’t go down well, he ignored me in the house and so did Ricky which made Fraser’s home visit a disaster.  Fraser hated the flat, he was jealous of gay soulmate Sam and there was clear awkwardness between him and Ricky when they bumped into each other in the kitchen. Fraser hated Goths.

On the Sunday morning Fraser left early to meet his friend and drug dealer woman.  We were supposed to meet later on in the day and I waited for two hours in the Intrepid Fox, Soho.  I was worried he’d gone AWOL and contacted the prison, but he was safe and sound watching TV in is semi-open prison cell.  For the next few weeks I hated him and I hated Ricky as a now always freshly moustache shaven Lisa would stay Thursdays and they would have really loud sex with bondage which kept me awake and made me tired for work.

….  and work wasn’t going so great either, the medical records clerk was alcoholic and had it in for me, I was front line receptionist at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson hospital, and part of the job involved trying to find missing records for patients usually having abortions or with fertility issues.  Working at a women’s hospital there were no men, apart from the odd hospital porter and odd job man.  Even the consultants were mostly women.  Our reception staff were butch and bitchy and the supervisor bullied the manager.  I began looking in the back of free tube mags for other work.

…. then, Sam got ill.

No. 86 Sam, Sam you know where I am

Fraser had been moved to a semi open prison in Woking and I’d been forced by the dole office to sign up to job club.  I worked hard at job club, got my job club pencil and with a new CV (including my now extensive Samaritan experience) was presented with a job in women’s health.  I was feeling better and didn’t care that I wasn’t in a band or doing anything that seemed remotely exciting to me, I enjoyed working at a hospital.  Fraser and I were going straight, we both had negative HIV tests (his in prison) and I’d been kicked out of a squat and had found a ‘proper’ room in a flat near Elmstead Woods, a bit further South than I would have liked, but cheap.

Visitors Orders to see Fraser were split between me, his friend, and his drug dealer.

“Hi, Liz, great to see you again, you know what’s happening, better than Wandsworth, you went in when they were on strike?  Couldn’t get nothing in ….”  blah bloody blah.  We were queueing at the entrance.  The dealer talked shite, she was off her head.

That visit was shite too, I sat patiently while dealer woman continued to talk shite with Fraser.  I waited for my one on one time with him but I didn’t get it.  Instead this sleazy woman snogged him vehemently as he swallowed the gear she passed over.

“We better not kiss for now.  Don’t want them getting confused. ” Fraser said.  “I’m not doing it myself, I’m selling.  Need money to come out to my wifey.” He grinned at me and nodded at his older woman.

“I fucking hate her”  I said to Sam when we were out for a drink later.

“I’m not surprised. Bitch”

I’d met Sam at the Samaritan’s.  He was volunteer no. 311 and we’d become the best of friends/soul mates since I’d got back from travelling and Marni had submerged herself with American Lang who had moved to London.  Sam was gay and didn’t have a partner but after our drinking sessions he would go to late clubs in Soho while I got the train back to Elmstead Woods to get up early for work at the Women’s hospital.

“We’ll go Pride at the weekend,”  he said.  “That’ll cheer you up.”

So we went to Gay Pride at Brockwell Park and we danced in the dance tent, I was off my head having a great time then something came over me, the Ecstasy of ecstasy turned into rage, I was angry with Fraser – really angry.  I’d remained faithful all this time, hanging out with Sam so as not to be tempted.

I looked up at the largest pole in the middle of the Marquee that was in front of us.  I’d always been good at climbing poles.  Most of us primary school girls discovered masturbation climbing up ropes.  In PE lessons we would race to the top, cling on for a bit, go red then climb down, watched upon by gym teacher Miss Lee who also watched us change.

I was gonna go up this big thick pole and had reached the top before Sam realised I was no longer strutting my stuff with him.  I started a craze and soon every pole in the marquee had someone at the top or part the way up with fat security men in shiny black jackets pulling them down.

“The music will stop if you don’t get down” an announcement from a mic barely heard over the music.

A circle of these men that Sam called ‘internalised homeopobics’ gathered at the bottom of my pole and I was forced to come down with the threat of one climbing up to get me and chucking me out.

I didn’t want to be manhandled by security so did as I was told and continued dancing with Sam as if nothing had happened, but my thighs were red raw, burned from the pole – that’s how hurt I was with Fraser.  Drugs always came before me, even if he was saving money for us on the outside, which I wasn’t sure I believed anyway.

On the other hand I’d become Sam’s hero and his mates flocked over to congratulate me and give me more drink and drugs.  I stayed at Sam’s squat that night and he was really turned on by me for a while.  I insisted he wear a condom and we did it and never spoke about it after – ever.

Sam and I remained soul mates for the next year.  Fraser was coming out of prison soon and would meet Sam and would never expect anything could/would happen between us.  He couldn’t possibly be jealous.  It was Fraser’s first trial weekend release and his prison officer was happy that he would spend it with me at the Elmstead Woods ‘witches’ flat.  He might be ok with Sam but I knew he would hate my flat mates.

No. 85 The Man from Lyon to Paris

We travelled a long way with short exchanges. Dark skin, stubble and he smelt of diesel. He was hot, his truck exporting ice.
We were in a convoy driving to Paris. All vehicles stopped at the same rather lovely French restaurant, just off the autoroute. We sat on a table with the trucker we’d originally hitched a lift from, others joined us and before long the table was full of big strong hunks of men. The man to my right chatted to me in French.  I smiled and he gestured I could sleep in his bunk and worked out I could get about ‘cinq’ hours sleep. I was excited to be so nearly home, sleeping would make the journey faster, our trucker and Marni had talked nonstop (she had done A level French) it had been annoying as I’d wanted to sleep.
“I’d rather we stayed together” Marni said, but with free carafes of wine on the table I was having none of it.
I left my stuff with Marni in her truck, ruck sack, passport the lot, just took Yvon’s (our French Pelekas thief’s) sleeping bag.
“See ya in Paris” I said as I jumped into my new truckie’s truck.
I tried to sleep behind his driving seat but I couldn’t and was beginning to regret my decision to go it alone. I nearly drifted off but the engine slowed down as my driver pulled off the autoroute. No longer a smooth road, I sat up and looked out of the window and into the darkness. The head lights shone on a track with tall trees either side shadowing onto the track.  He pulled off the track and stopped in the middle of a forest.
I did try to tell him I had a boyfriend but he didn’t understand me.  I pointed at my wedding ring finger but he still didn’t understand and I had no ring on it anyway, my rings went with the Greek thieves and I knew this could be worse than the Greek thief I went with one drunken night (I missed him out, buried him in Pelekas graveyard memory, but now I had a flash back of the pink jumper he sweated from) this could also be worse than the Leo Sayer lookalike (No. 22) and the lockjaw. Knowing it could be worse made it easier.  Inside my head I recited ‘Derek and Clive’ .. ‘I was walking down the road one day and I saw a house on fire .. laugh …’ etc.  And I laughed inside, there was no knife, no torture – I’d got away lightly, and was quite proud of myself.  There was no such thing as a free lunch, free carafe of wine or a free bed for the night. Just a learning curve and if it turned out I had HIV, then I hoped he would have it too.

It felt like days had passed before Marni and I were reunited in a layby on the outskirts of Paris. She was later than me, her driver had stopped for a kip.  Marni and I waved off the convoy.
“Get much sleep?” she asked.
“A bit, you?”
“Yeah, the wine knocked me out.”
“Me too”

(No. 31) Fraser moves down

Before leaving Pelekas I’d received a letter from Fraser in response to a letter I’d written to the prison governor at HMP Saughton, pleading for him to be moved to a London prison.  Fraser had instructed me to write that I was his long term partner, he had fallen out with his family and that he would receive more support in London than in Edinburgh.

My letter worked, I had made sure no grains of Pelekas sand had got in the envelope and had sent it to Foggie to post for me in England so it didn’t look like I was abroad. The governor had surprisingly taken our relationship seriously and Fraser was moved to HMP Wandsworth. I had a duty when I got back to London and was keen to get to it.  I wished the dice had landed on No. 4 and we were going home.

Marni and I travelled round Europe – her excited because she loved travelling – I depressed because I didn’t ever really like travelling but didn’t know it then.   My legs were tired and the summer was gone.  I was cold, skint and longing to be home and receiving Visitor Orders for HMP Wandsworth where Fraser would now be waiting.
We stayed in Dubrovnic, Split, Florence, Rome, Pisa and nice Nice where I hated all the umbrellas. Our last stop would be Paris then home to sort out my life, do an HIV test, get a job, stop signing on, stop shagging about, stop hanging about with Foggie (cause it would wind Fraser up), stop drinking, stop throwing up, stop taking drugs. I was about to add – get into a decent band – but my hands were numb, fingers pins and needlesy, there would be no way I could play keyboards and I needed drink and drugs for the confidence to play the keyboards anyway so perhaps this was the sign to stop – STOP – stop everything.  I thought about Fraser and briefly envied him in his secure dwelling where he didn’t have the stresses of conventional living.

We were hitch hiking and had just enough money to get a ferry and keep us in booze.  The nearer we got to England the more I drank and the higher my spirits became.  When we got home Fraser and me would be the new we.  Marni would be alright, she had a career to go home to and Lang would visit her I was sure.

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No. 78 to 84 Beastie Benitses Boys

img_1877We arrived on the Benitses main drag of club 18 to 30’s
Us punks full with love and Pelekas hippy spirit
We filled a bin liner of broken glass from the stoney beach
Keeping out of reach
Of the used condoms

“Who would stay here?”
We chanted for all to hear
From disco Dr Beat beats we ventured
From room to room, disturbing them
And them in turn disturbing us
Sometimes there were three of us
Or four or five sharing beds
With clippers we shaved their heads
Until the shavers were stolen from beneath a bed
Back on the beach we read
‘The Dice Man’
That gave us the plan
With dice from a Backgammon set
We shook and took our bet
From Benitses boy to Benises boy
We needed a new ploy
1. Stay in Benitses 2. Boat to Brindesi 3. Ferry to Dubrovnick 4. Go home 5. Greek Island hopping 6. Back to Pelekas
The dice rolled, fell off the taverna table, we knelt down to see
It had landed on No. 3
Those Beastie Benitses Boys also stole
Our Barbie and Ken doll

No. 77 Ouzo Man

“Give it to me” I demanded, Ouzo man smiled and I danced around him, jumping up, trying to grab hold of Fraser’s ‘Her Majesty’s Prison’ blue envelope.  Ouzo man held it higher and higher out of my reach, our bodies touching as I leaned into his large frame. This tall, Irish and previously aloof man became my final Pelekas lover.
I named Ouzo man Ouzo man because of the obvious, there were many Pelekas men that could have been named Ouzo man but this Ouzo man was different, too cool to go naked on the beach. Marni stumbled into the tent on us unexpectedly one afternoon. She’d caught us getting on or off I can’t remember which, but she joined us and helped us finish off our litre bottle of ouzo.
“That’s why he gets all the Abba-type Swedish girls.” She said later that day when we were on our own, naked on the beach. “Was that a semi-lob on?”
I felt like I’d won Ouzo man, he was the highest of fun. We drank 24/7 and shagged everywhere apart from the graveyard. When we weren’t shagging we were talking and unlike most of the others, he didn’t display any signs of jealousy that I had a boyfriend back home in prison.
Fraser had been given a sentence of four years for attempted armed robbery. His two accomplices got only two years because they hadn’t jumped bail and had set Fraser up as the ring leader in his absence.
“Yer man’ll be out in two.” Ouzo man said as a parting reassurance. “My mate’s arriving tomorrow. You’ll have a laugh with him.” But Ouzo man wasn’t as easily irreplaceable, it wasn’t the same when he left, I missed him and the depression I’d experienced when breaking up with first love (Ray No. 24) came flooding back. If Marni hadn’t been there to entertain me with our Ken and Barbie dolls I may have felt suicidal again. I was losing my sense of purpose, missing my voluntary work at the Samaritans, where at least I felt of use to someone.  MS symptoms seemed to have disappeared, probably cause I’d been in the sun for weeks, I was no longer binging/purging and promiscuity was suddenly at bay – instead I was feeling shit and feeling shit was just another symptom I needed to get rid of, and quick. Out of the three, promiscuity was clearly the most fun way to act out whatever it was I needed to act out, I still didn’t know what I was doing but the shame I was beginning to feel made me start to wonder about stuff.
The summer was closing in and there were little or no new travellers arriving in Pelekas.
“Let’s go somewhere else,” Marni said “before the tumbleweed sets in.” So in a last attempt to find fresh blood, we packed up ours and the French Frisbee throwers (No.54) stuff and got a bus into Corfu town. Sharing a feta and spinach pasty bought with drachmas we’d found in a side pocket of Freddy’s tent, we stood by the side of a road with our thumbs out.

No. 76 From Essex to Pelekas – Recoupling with Nick

I was sitting outside the Zanzibar, watching and waiting. There’d been no interesting new comers on the latest bus in from Corfu town. I chatted with Wand, sharing an ouzo and water when a moped drove past. No helmets in Corfu, I recognized the mop of long thick brown hair and the fag drooping out of his mouth, but it couldn’t be, could it?
“Oi Sleeze!” the Essex boy shouted.  “Raahh!” It was, it was Nick, a Southend boyfriend I had forgotten to list previously but relevant enough, don’t know why I’d forgotten him. I’d spent many nights in the house he shared with three other lads, we’d shagged lots in his box room and visited his best friend in Southend General Hospital. I fancied Nick’s friend more than him,  I was attracted to his dark wit and hands-on analysis of hospital food, but he was very sick and died.
There is another unsaid saying in Pelekas – ‘If you bring a boyfriend it won’t last’.   I hadn’t seen Nick in ages, he’d been a long-term fling really and once his friend died the novelty wore off and I certainly hadn’t invited him to Pelekas.  But word had got out in Essex, Half Man Half Barstool (John No. 21) had told Nick that Marni and I were away.  Curiosity, lust and Essex boredom had got the better of him.

Nick’s excitement in finding me so quickly, also got the better of him.  His bike had slid on the sharp left turning, just past the Zanzibar, and he’d fallen off. We laughed as he parked the bike up and joined us.

Nick bought a round of drinks, and then another and then another. Word had already got round that Nick was flush, he’d just finished 6 months labouring on a building site in Stuttgart.  Our group got bigger and there were tequila shots all round. I got so trashed, Nick’s white skin and new German beer gut paled into insignificance.

“Where haven’t you shagged?” Nick asked.  Ours was a competitive group, over the tequila shots we’d been comparing all the different places we’d had sex in and around the village.
“The graveyard” I said.
“It’s a rite of passage” someone said.
“Let’s do it.”  Nick pulled me off my seat and four of us trooped down the hill, up a short track and stood in front of the iron gates of the cemetery.  Someone opened the gates. It was still daylight, and we did it, four of us on two selected stones – a terrible thing to do. A really terrible thing to do. Why had I suggested it? I wondered in my drunken drunken haze whether in some unconscious way I was trying to get through to Nick’s dead friend or closer in spirit to my granny who would come back to life and direct me to a more sensible path.
We ran out of the grave yard and Nick took me down the mountain on his scooter. He stayed in our tent with me while Marni (who was presently single and pining for Lang) slept in French Freddy’s tent.  In the morning I woke to Nick’s snoring which was louder than the donkey’s 6 o’clock braying.  I crept out of the tent and walked to the taverna, bumping into Wand along the way.

“The Greeks reported you” Wand reported.  Word was out yet again and this time God had spoken, we would pay a penance for our behaviour.  I was thinking about the Greek mourners who’d found us and imagined my mother paying respects to my granny in the same situae. Me putting a condom on Karl Marx’s head in Highgate cemetery one drunken afternoon with Fraser was nothing in comparison.

“You need to lay low,” Wand warned.  “Stay out of the village for a few days, the police will be looking for you.”

“Fuck,” I said.  Nick’s snoring was now less of a problem.

“Don’t worry” Wand continued.  “They won’t come down the beach, they won’t be arsed.”  I guessed Wand was certain about this, he’d had a few close shaves with his dope selling and the police had never come to find Freddy and Yvon’s possessions.

I got comfy in the taverna, nursing a Metaxa and chocolate milk and wondering  how I would get out of staying with Nick now we were confined to the beach.

Then God came – this time in the form of Ouzo man, he made a b line for me.  I fancied Ouzo man but had never talked with him since seeing him on that first Pelekas bus.  He’d always been hooked up with Goddess Scandinavian women.
“I’ve got something for you” he said, holding his hands behind his back.