A night at the theatre. A rare treat. After two hectic weeks of deadlining. Promises to those who fill my bank account breathing down my neck I have a moment to savour freedom. Out.
I stand in the entrance and wait. Alone. It’s great. No pleasantries required. No ‘where have you been’ and no, ‘you are always working’ remarks that need sweet smiles and fake apologies. I’m not afraid to stand alone, I prefer it to company.
Theatre always bring out the dusty purple hair and fudge packing squad. I like it. I smell perfume, after-shave, mothballs and wine. Crystal laughter bathe in the warm light of 1970’s retro lighting fixtures. Mr Meticulous looks lost in the crowd. He is wearing foundation, barely there. It makes him look even, toned and well kept. He wears a waistcoat. His hair is fashionably parted to cover his forehead in a blonde wave. He looks down at people, down either side of his nostrils are slipways to his kingdom. He is not straight and certainly not in possession of any inferiority disorders.
Brothers, parents and family crowd before the show. Glasses sparkle. Drama students show off their authoritative radio voices, but have yet to learn the art of using them with restraint. It annoys me. Noise is uncomfortable. Like spit spray from strangers. It can be avoided. Public spaces are testing grounds for culture cross- pollination. Like buying fruit, fresh from the market. Not cling-wrapped, preserved and beautified by retailers. You smell them, taste them and may take them home. No printed promises.
Smokers stand outside. Straight up. Is it the gay or is it the cold? Old women and young men wear scarves. It is signifies arrival of a mental and academic nature. For the sophisticated, dignified bohemian look. Students of music, art directors and middle aged pottery teachers wrapped in Etro paisley and Paul Smith stripes. Very tongue in cheek. Very so, but at the same time trying so not very.
Then there is the person who knows me and whom I know or knew (who cares). But I can’t remember her name, nor she mine. Followed by social courtesy and polite jokes of ‘never remembering names’. The moment passes, taking too long to do so. Back to waiting alone.
Up the stairs arrive a heterosexual couple. Young, new, fresh love. Insecure love. Darting eyes. Comparing apples with tits and heels with heels. Fumble hands. Self conscious tugging at a size too small. If you buy a smaller size to squeeze into, you will certainly not become that smaller size even though you are fitting it, albeit bursting at the seams? Will the smaller size enlarge the appearance of your tits? Suck in your arse? Pronounce your camel toe? Does comfort and sensibility come only through cynicism?
The couple settle soon. Later he will half stand away from her casting his net. She will prey like a hawk with eyes that could nail to the cross.
Tart is a word so lovely on the lips. With a sharp sting below the ear and a throaty after taste. Tart are the queens who cum in a flurry of colour. Darling, honey, sweety. Further north we could throw in the word Doll. Fags usually travel in a herd. Much bling. With a forewarning of excited lip service and stomping. These, ladies and gentlemen, are not gazelles. Proud they may be, marching the stairs as if to claim their throne, but subtlety has died a boisterous death.
So I wait and wonder. The mid-thirties couple standing comfortably by the window. Are they childhood sweethearts? She looks content and unalarmed. Secure. He looks like a hunter. The camouflaged hunter. Sneaky looks shoot up from his show programme. Never in the same direction. One hand he keeps firmly on her back. She looks out the window and back at him often. He smiles sweetly, both at her and the Indian girl seated at one of the tables.
The Indian girl is wrapped in colour and doesn’t notice his attention. She reads the programme attentively. Ankles crossed, far from the bar. Husband at her side. Perfect complexion, perfect hair, cast down eyes, nose ring.
Another nosering enters in a shroud of black. Perfect hair. Black boots with yellow stitching. Foundation, eyeliner and eyes cast down.
In the far corner professors and teachers are in a disarray of decades. Conservative wardrobe meets left wing mindsets in a confusion of what can only be called creative expression. Their stifled laughter shared by a similar geek species.
Students, tarts, fags, cheaters, geriatrics, blasé poufters and hags mill about on insulting office carpets. Lesbian wall hangings are too bright. The only to appreciate this will be the scarves who may rest their eyes on it in the midst of deep conversation.