decent streets


These large shabby west London houses, still have a life, a quality bespeaking an era of confidence, energy, creativity, when there was a feeling that was strong, a positive, thrusting life, expressing itself exactly in these white mid Victorian porticos and Italianate pediments, which imparted itself for many decades throughout this long road, right up to the miserable present. A quality such as is always perceived most keenly in the earliest days of autumn, when the change imparts a strangeness and sensitivity, responsive, receptive to lives & feelings and personal memories. House upon house, shabby, decayed, yet happily inebriate. Look deep into memory. Not a happy time, if ever there was such. Anxiety, self defensive impoverishment and future catastrophe. Drunken these houses, nothing but what they are, what they are architecturally, intensity of feeling that is precisely this. To destroy is to rip out the heart of a living being, an Aztec sacrifice, but little good comes of the future. Then was something, now is scarcely anything. Defeatism, absence of feeling, brutal stupidity.

Something distinctive, significant, something emotional, even aggressive, giving a character, quality of feeling, livingness of atmosphere. The raffish, the rakish, the freedom of money. Many lived and died, some secure with money enough, others poor in rented rooms, fretful, frightened, unhappy. Sensing its spirits, I love its decayedness. Immoral, exciting. Unheard of satisfactions. Pleasures once common, once taken for granted, now symptoms of illness.

In one of these rooms, once, a young woman lay on her side, awake in a bed in the dark, speaking to others in the room. She said, without any obvious connection to anything that had been said before, that her elder sister used to be very prudish about nakedness, and always kept herself covered up, except that on rare occasions she would brazenly walk around nude as if it meant nothing at all. The girl was feeling comfortable in her bed. She spoke with the lasciviousness of youth. She thought of another in the room, and of the half secret desires that were in his mind. She understood them well enough.

There also, on another occasion, the other one here seduced my friend while I lay in the bed. Should I care, should I be jealous? I didn’t know till much later. I could be moderately so, one is human, after all. As even later more jealousy concerning the other one.

Memories of that one seeing me naked were for a time most cherished, because I knew she enjoyed what she saw, and that she would have liked to have touched me.
Later she remarked scornfully that my displays were short, that I only used to supply glimpses. I would briefly appear naked so she could have a look.

Sandy said how she liked the big old London houses like those here in this road, coming as she does from a city in which all the houses are new. Then I discussed how much wealth was around in the Victorian age, and explained how the atmosphere in this house is not that of the old Victorians who used to live here, but of all the subsequent people who used to live here, associations of ‘apartments’, ‘bedsitterland’, the loneliness of life in London throughout most of this century. And to see my condition in such a clear-cut fashion, in living in a house about which that kind of thing could be said. It is nothing to do with feeling secure in knowing my position, the pleasure comes from making myself an object of wonder to myself, to possess what I already possess, to be what I already am.

He could have said say much more about her, the self conscious decadence of her mind, bad bits of psychotherapy, psychoanalysis gone all wild and decadent, introspective. But none of that is really important. That is how he thought of her at the time and it did not give real understanding. Far more interesting was the drawing of her right into his own mind, into his deepest metaphysical terrors. In turn he showed his own understanding of her morbid Catholic ones and her individual and unhealthy response to the dogmas she was given.

I am jealous of Freud. Jealous of her alien loyalties. As of the minstrel who moves her so much.

Strong possibilities. My mate. Perhaps she reflects back what I put in. “I’ll be your mirror”, sang Niko. The minds of women are mysterious, deceptive, ensnaring.

Possibility of a strong closeness. Fellowship in dissidence. Support in all that I am.

In the well known love between two well known celebrities there is something very different, and far inferior to this. Love is something that confirms beliefs and values. What was this I thought I had? Originality. Support for being and feeling different, not for conforming to some external value.

Nothing that is normal, and known to the masses, can be as good as the sense of superiority reinforced and seemingly confirmed. So I suggest the lack of consummation may be a good thing… But I rave. Nothing could have been as good as having sex with her would have been… The pleasure she got from looking at him. At his naked arse. She had not slept with him at that point. In that reality she never did. Or rather that is all she did.

The brother, what did he get out of it? Something I think. He learnt much from me. Years later he returned to this country without asking to see me. I am told he may have had ambivalent feelings about me and that I used to patronise him. That people had a tendency to patronise him in this country presumably explains why he made his home in on the other side of the world. Ambivalence does not mean hostility, not pure hostility anyway. There was another side, certainly then there was, and it could have been built upon.

After she left, it was, I think that I lost some of my mad driving force and began to think that I could be like anyone else. I hoped to live by a severe standard. Promiscuous sex was to be something I could manage according to the law of the strong. I was trying to rejoin society as a normal member. But it didn’t work. My idea was that I should just learn to play the reality game. If I was to be different it would be not from a deficiency, but from superabundance. My heroes and exemplars could play many parts and had superior success with women. I tried to act by their rules, and found to my puzzlement that I was defeated in my efforts.

This woman understood me, and accepted me as destructive and diabolic. She was important as one who understood and to some extent accepted. How are we to distinguish between genuine feeling and artificial restraint?

It was from this house that she left. Here where we aired the inchoate creative ambitions of youth. Here creative ambitions, pen and ink drawings, like decadent scribblings. How to make money. He, the brother, was to persist with some success.

On the day she left she asked me if I wanted a screw. We were all sitting around the dark wooden table. Going away present she said. And handed me a metal screw she had found somewhere.


From the present, looking back from what is known, the idea takes shape of alternative realities, of how things might have been developed differently. I focus on another crucial time, slightly earlier, time of a fresh start, a new beginning.

We were living a bohemian life. And how it might have turned, out, who can say?

The rules, the ideas, the training, the conditions.

There was a time of love that lacked at other times. There were other times when there was anger.

We were young but old enough, and neither naïve nor stupid. Yet there was something not right, something that didn’t work out and that could have been better. It was never redeemed, even later.

All choices were made very early, like sometime in childhood.

What I counted a warm rich sense of dominance was achieved for a while. We had a quadrilateral of sorts. From present knowledge comes the vision of a happiness that could have been perfect, an alchemical substance to add to that mixture. This was a thought that first came to me in the Englischer Garten.

It was not love. I mean rather that love was not the alternative currently under consideration, though it might have been another. That would be another story, another life. The idea here is of a sensuous alternative. Of course there was love and friendship. One is not saying where it might not have led. Attachments might have broken and new ones formed. That is not to say there would not have been evil. There was an initial tolerance. The woman, the brother, the brother’s girl…and of course the child…

I secured for a while something to a high degree pleasant, in some respects at least. Others had other things. There were certain conventions I laid down, though I was far from a despot.

I have led many lives in the course of one. I mean, for example, that though there were stories of persistent frustration and straightforward failure there were nevertheless others, like the one under consideration, involving a most enjoyable indulgence. There was a power that was for a time achieved, however unsatisfactory it finally turned out. I form images now of how paradisiacal it might actually have been made.

Lives lived by certain elders who crossed our paths, were despised in their sexuality, hated for their disdain for ourselves. Something should be said about them. Those women are objects of sexual attraction, they are the complements to men, but not to me. I think of the adolescent peacock in Holland Park, trying unsuccessfully to display a beautiful tail. There was something else though. Dislikeable people and a dislikeable culture. Detestable people setting the standard, as if this is nature. She shared much of the aversion, even pioneered it.

How would those have seen oneself? Looking back from an older perspective, they would now be seen as themselves young. And I am now unconscious of the existence of such people. Then there was loathing. From this older perspective, things appear more normal.

We had been boating on a lake, the weather was hot. I took my shirt and vest off to row. We landed at a forbidden island where I got out for a while to walk around. Then we sat among daises and bluebells by some plane trees, soaking in sunlight. I made no move. I felt pangs of cowardice that I justified to myself as decency.

For every good experienced there were others that were frustrating and remain unsatisfactory. And from today’s vantage point I have formed an idea of how things might have been better. One might have lived as one enjoys living. Understanding what one likes and what one can do.

In the garden a girl will come on her own to sunbathe stark naked and read a book That is charming. At one time, though, it might have been thought an intolerable torment.

Another boat, another place. In the alternative world we all have a boat somewhere warm, like the Adriatic. We have been sailing on the sea, all five of us, the weather is hot. Somehow the money was retained and multiplied, there had been no road accident, no feckless squandering.

A middle aged German couple lie naked on a beach which is otherwise deserted.
After an hour a couple with a little girl arrive a few yards away in a boat. They climb out and take their clothes off. The girl stands on the beach while the couple have a fuck in the sea.

Other boats came by. The German man looked at them through his binoculars. There was one with an Austrian flag. There were people on it going swimming. Two women. One was older and fatter, one was blonde and good looking. He wanted her to take her clothes off. Both went topless to swim. The fatter one swam near to them and waved. She wore flippers and used a piece of foam to keep afloat.

He looks back towards the couple. The woman seems shy about walking about completely naked though sometimes she does, mostly keeping herself wrapped in a towel. She has a big white triangle on her bum from her swimsuit. They fuck again, openly, missionary position. Looking through his binoculars he sees the blond one on the boat after a swim take off her bikini bottom so he sees her fanny. Eventually the boat leaves.

Just when he was thinking about giving the couple something to look at, he noticed two water nymphs swimming towards the shore. Two naked girls, one dark one fair, climb out of the water, having come from a nearby boat which was flying the Jolly Roger. With their backs towards him, he studies them through his binoculars. They both have beautiful bums. Eventually they swim back to the naked men on their boat. Then their boat moves off.

By now he is excited. His own companion laying face down he puts his hand on her arse and rubs his prick to ejaculation against her thigh.

When he has finished he sees the couple behind were staring at him. After they leave he wanders over to where they were sitting to imagine what kind of view they had and finds a pack of Camel lites cigarettes made in Italy. So he takes them to have been Italians.

We are the people in the boat. Those are our two girls who were observed by the German through his binoculars and who gave him such a thrill. We know we are envied, and that gives us pleasure. I fuck one. I fuck my other one (and there is yet another one I keep elsewhere, but of whom I say nothing in this place). For this one I am deeply content for now just to look. And languidly lying on the deck she looks happily at the motion of my arse as I work on the boat.

This has brought something fantastically satisfying to everyday life, something normally inconceivable to the English. On the personal level, it is the restoration of a day to day happiness that ought to have been just natural. It is like recovery after long illness, the redemption of the sheer banality of the everyday. It redeems and transfigures ordinary activities like solving a crossword, making tea or drinking apple juice. Consolation so needed. Explain why one needs to be consoled, about all the bad feeling that pervades everything. We are among friends.


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