Monday, 16 April 2018

A Michael Legge Joint.

“If I speak what is false, I must answer for it”.

Thomas Fuller said that. Seems obvious, I suppose. I think Thomas and I would have got on so it’s a shame we missed each other by just 300 years. He was pretty much my age when he died, he got very ill on my birthday, which I’ve done loads of times although he got ill on my birthday in 1660, and he often sounded a bit like me. “We are born crying, live complaining and die disappointed”. I mean, that’s pretty much every single thing I’ve ever said in one sentence.

And “If I speak what is false, I must answer for it” seems very prevalent right now. Everyone lies, and everyone knows everyone lies but they love the lies so much that they decide it’s now true. But that’s not why I’ve been thinking about my dead friend Thomas. I’ve been thinking about what he said because I often get words wrong. I say the completely wrong word by accident and it changes everything I want to say. Because, unlike Thomas, I’m a fucking idiot.

But, like Thomas, I am middle-aged and ill. YES! The dream double. I’m constantly exhausted, I’m constantly in agony and I have every disease known to man. Let’s list those diseases right now, Ladies…

I have asthma, arthritis, psoriasis, diphtheria, croup, whooping cough (had that for a while now), sickle cell anemia (don’t know how I got that, I think my body is a racist), the plague, smallpox, largepox, heart attack (I have a heart attack), dick flu and a bum full of strokes. I have every disease. But I soldier on bravely.

It’s rare anyone ever wants to talk about illness. It’s not like skateboarding or Garbage Pail Kids stickers or whatever is cool these days. But a week ago, my arthritis got so bad that I couldn’t move. At all. This is “normal”, said a doctor who thinks its normal to be a corpse who can feel pain. It’s just a “flare up”. This was such comfort to me as I lay in bed completely static and screaming my unmoving tits off.

Later that day, I was fine. It was just a “flare up” after all. I was right as rain. Nothing to worry about. But… you know… I wanted a bit of sympathy. Aren’t I at least allowed that? Just some acknowledgement of my bravery. I left the house and bumped into a neighbour who said, “How are you?”

A perfect chance! I can talk all about the pain of my ungodly arthritis and get all the sympathy and medals I want. Hooray!

Now, if only I was a bit more like Thomas Fuller. If only I didn’t get all my words mixed up all the time. If only I wasn’t a fucking idiot.

All you really need to know about what happened next is this: I got the words ARTHRITIS and DIARRHOEA mixed up. Jesus fucking Christ. “If I speak what is false, I must answer for it”.

“I’ve not been well actually”, I said with a brave face. “Diarrhoea”.

My neighbour screwed his face up in a disgusted, I-don’t-want-to-hear-about-that way.

“Yeah. It’s been really bad lately”, I said, like a hero. “Couldn’t get out of bed for hours”.
My neighbour looked sickened. He just looked appalled and sad and said “God…”

“Yeah. I’ve had it for years but only started getting treatment for it a few months ago. It’s been fine for months but today… Today was just awful”.

“You can’t have had it for years”, he said. That was very kind, I thought. Yes, I do hide it well but it’s true. I’ve actually had it since my late 20’s. My neighbour then just stared at me. This was great. Way better than I was expecting. He knows the agony I’ve been through, he knows how long I’ve lived with it and, yet, here I am standing in front of him with no visible trace of my illness and he just can’t find the words. This was exactly the sort of pick me up I needed. Yes, neighbour. You’re right. I am brave. Very brave indeed.

After more explaining of my bravery and the terrible affliction that has clearly not got the better of me, he finally spoke. “Jesus”, he said. “Christ almighty. What… what are they doing about it?”

“Nothing they can do about it really”, I told him. “You sort of just have to live with it”.

You live with it like a hero would. One day at a time. “I don’t think I could have avoided it”, I said. His face now completely baffled. Yes, I get it: I’m a legend. But time to put him out of his misery. I’ll explain a little bit about the illness, then he’ll get it. “My dad has it so… you know”.

“Wait.”, he said. “Diarrhoea isn’t hereditary”.

I spoke falsely, and the payment was a rush of redness to the face. The penny dropped. I am a fucking idiot.

All I wanted was a bit of sympathy. Some there-theres after a painful day of dealing with arthritis. Something I deal with every day. And I think I deal with it pretty bloody well, actually. Very pretty bloody well. And all I wanted, all I fucking wanted was just a little bit of recognition. A little admiration for dealing with something so well. I wanted someone to look at me and think “There goes Michael Legge. A man who does not give into pain but rises above it with dignity and courage. There goes a hero”.

But no. Because of ONE TINY LITTLE MISTAKE, one incorrect word, one misuse of our great nation’s tongue, I will forever be considered the man who shat himself for 20 years.

Fuck you, Thomas.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Try a Little Tinderness.

I love my noise-cancelling headphones. I wear them every time I go out and it means I don’t have to hear any sound made by any other human (other than, at the moment, Lou Reed). I also wear a blindfold and a nose clip for similar reasons. When I leave the house, I just don’t want to ever have to acknowledge that people actually exist. They’re awful. They make horrible noises and they all look and smell like shit. Every single one of them. But, you know, even I have to admit that sometimes by blocking out all the senses (I also wear a full body sock and a tongue hat), I’m missing out on some beautiful real-life stories. Take Friday night for example…

There I was, sitting in a bar in South East London minding my own business when I heard the unmistakable noise of a human being. It was loud and shrill and ugly. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop on the man’s conversation, he insisted on it. He wasn’t even sat particularly near me, but I could hear every word he was saying because he was shouting over the sound of a pub stereo that wasn’t playing. This was a perfect time for me to put on my headphones, but the man caught my interest. I even wrote down a few things that he said because I never wanted to forget them. He was bellowing at a woman and it was the most bizarre seduction I had witnessed that entire day.

“I don’t want to pay pub prices anymore”, he honked at her. “You’re more than welcome to join me in my flat where I have many wines. Some of them actually good wines. But it is a long walk away and up a steep hill and that might be tough for someone like you (he means she’s a bit fat) but I like your company and I’m leaving now”.

I couldn’t hear what she said to him, but I happily imagined that it was very, very threatening. Of course, this is really very snobby of me. I’m probably taking everything he said out of context. Maybe he did just want to have a glass of wine? Maybe he’s just a bit gruff but really he’s the absolute salt of the earth? I’m sure he doesn’t really think that people who are a bit fat can’t walk up a hill. No. I’m sure I’ve got it all wrong. But then he got a bit louder.

“I’m going to the toilet and then I’ll leave”, he announced to absolutely everyone in the world. “If you could make your mind up by the time I get back then there’s no hassle. If you want to get an Uber, then you can do that. But I’m leaving. If you want to join me, I’m fine either way. I have wine and a nice bed. Up to you. I’m bursting”.

And with those sweet words of love, he departed for a slash.

That man will be alone forever, I thought. I mean, I know it’s hard to talk to someone you fancy but ordering them about isn’t going to help. And now she’s alone while he has his ultimatum piss, this is her chance to just get up and leave. Why spend another second with that dick. Just go.

But she stays. And he comes back.

He doesn’t leave though. He sits down and shouts a bit more instead. He lists the wines he has. It turns out that he might have five bottles of wine. Now that’s hot. Again, he asks if she’s coming or not? That is such a smooth move. Then he talks about his very high cholesterol. Bragging, yes, but anything to impress a lady, right? Anything to seduce her back to his love pad. Anything to capture the heart of his prey. He told her that he knew he had high cholesterol because of his HIV test.

Now, I might not be Velvet P. Lovewanger (I bloody am), but even I’m not sure that bringing up your high cholesterol and your HIV test on a date is a guaranteed fuck-ticket. To be fair, honesty is very refreshing when on a date. But I know more about him than I need to know and I’m not even going to get a choice of five wines and a terrible shag out of it.

He then just repeated “I’m going. Up to you” at her while putting on his coat. He must have said it 10 times. “I’m going. Up to you. I’m going. Up to you. I’m going. Up to you”. And then they left together.

That woman is going to have a terrible night. I felt depressed.

Which was unfair. Because I don’t really know what happened. I just picked up what was going on from the things he shouted and the way he shouted them. I didn’t hear a single thing she said. Maybe I’ve got it all out of context and everything is totally fine. Maybe they’re in his nice bed right now, laughing and drinking one of five wines and ripping each other’s clothes off in a fit of genuinely deep, romantic passion. Then why do I feel sad? Why do I feel sad for someone I don’t know? Why didn’t I just put my headphones on?

Then she came back into the bar, laughing down her mobile phone. “WHAT A WANKER!”, she said.

And she said it a lot to whoever was on the other end of the phone. “WHAT A WANKER!”.

20 minutes later, another woman turns up and joins her at her table. They laugh and drink and they both say “WHAT A WANKER!”

I’ve decided that this is my feel good story of the year. It certainly made me very happy. Sometimes you just have to leave the headphones off. Sometimes. Otherwise I’d have missed out on a bit of real life. A dirty, sleazy tale. A scary one. A sad one. But one with a very happy ending. What would Lou Reed know about any of that?