NICK Guest edited by Sam Ball

31st January

The Event

the drunken experience
definitely enjoyed it

venturing out to find my kidnapper
repetitive thought

I bump into people
eating four Rolo doughnuts
desperately searching for love.
a future together that doesn’t exist.

His Universe

‘Listen to the universe, gemini’
Sainsbury’s instead.
In Sainsburys
the universe

Nick’s girlfriend.


to the cakes
angel cake

she’s just buying pasta

I get crazy

She goes home

with regards to the universe
the Sainsbury
point out
his girlfriend is a person
real person
smiled at me
talked to me.

The Problem
he puts himself out there,
I’m glad
I don’t want to see him anyway.
it’s okay
for the best.
I am strong enough
because I’m mental
keep tabs on
become obsessed with
highs and lows
angry with someone
forgiving someone
he doesn’t know
he doesn’t know
he’s just become an abstract sound
maybe it’s me.
horrific kisser
my breath,
my technique
I slobber
old fashioned
or really hetrosexual
they just don’t come back


His Face
a soufflé is just full of air
sexy little stubbly face
straight white teeth
eyes weren’t crossed
alopecia wasn’t pronounced

him on the floor
wears strange things
muslin affair,
body underneath
a little bit sad.

Not a Haiku – but should be

gingerbread men
into the chocolate milkshake
particularly sexy innuendo.

Written by Sam Ball

seen Nick a lot
and Marie

I was busy making Love

I’ve seen him
accepting my weasling.
protested against it
a melodrama,
an abusive husband might talk
before beating her
wants to dominate
‘Sometimes you’re nice and sometimes you’re nasty’.
controlling me,
a kind of plea

the opening night
so everyone
there to help
except Nick
to toy with me
to play with me
he didn’t show up.

We got chairs
transporting chairs
carrying chairs
from Trongate,

up stairs to Miller Street
blaming Nick
and this renegade speed-dater

start of the opening.
last minute
he was there
with his girlfriend
probably drinking
not helping
or with me.

I am angry with you
give a fuck.

this boy
how beautiful and perfect
how much I fancied him.
Partly true
I did need a second pair of hands

spoke to Marie instead
get a nice boyfriend
I didn’t want to hurt her
I didn’t want her to tell me she knew
that she was cool with it
I didn’t want to push it.

this girl, Jade,
taking heroin
from Transmission and the Modern Institute.

She was one of the speed-daters,
down an alley
kind of messy,
she left because I accidentally told her
out of anger
fuck both of them
Nick came to talk to me
like a real cunt
started to argue,
intensely but quietly
‘Sometimes you’re nice and sometimes you’re nasty’.

‘kind of a douche’

I just followed.
Like a real idiot
then I recounted that evening
he’d got drunk
trousers and pants
and he said he had no recollection of any of that.

Nick leaves
he’s a cunt
worrying about him
ruined my evening.

talk to Carrie
drunken and upset
I do regret
so drunk
all mixed up

even the Taxi driver made a noise in disgust
couldn’t really look me in the face,
an awkward situation
despite everything
he does give


If food be the food of…

going gesture crazy
going to eat together
whilst eating
had been eating
grossing me out
I read
significance in
sweet things
oatmeal cookies,
a muller rice
a braeburn apple
what is it he represents.
so pop psychology
makes me feel guilty
I like to feel guilty
someone is making me feel guilty
I’m repenting
without actually repenting,
a sick pleasure
I’m subverting
but actually
just cheating myself

Pop psycho

passive aggressive
embarrasses me
I want to joke
pick it apart

Asker Nick
not the shy and nice boy
so jealous

I’m a Guesser
getting damaged
I thought he might
save me,
make me

but it’s
fucked up
to expect
now that I know him.

Written by Sam Ball

OLIVER-LEFT: Is he fucking with us? Are you fucking with us? Fucking Nick – who waved it in our fucking face and then ran back to his fucking girlfriend?

OLIVER-RIGHT: You swear too much.


OLIVER-JAN: He’s right you do swear too much.

OLIVER5: Much too much.

OLIVER-LEFT: It’s the fucking situation. He’s got a fucking relationship and he can do whatever the fuck he wants and we’re fucking-fucking, fucking fuck-all –

Enter OLIVER-GOG and OLIVER-GAG – the former holds a leash attached to the latter, who is ball-gagged and Gollum-ing along, primitively libidinous even among the other OLIVERs

OLIVER-GOG: I wondered when it would come to that.

OLIVER-LEFT: Oh fuck off – I wasn’t talking about that.

OLIVER-JAN: (Disgusted) Oh no. It’s ghastly. Put him back.

OLIVER-GOG: Ghastly? He’s beautiful, aren’t you pet?

OLIVER-GAG starts to hump OLIVER-JAN

OLIVER-JAN: It’s not natural.

OLIVER-GOG: Tory boy! Tory boy!

OLIVER-TELL: (Enters, taking up the chant; crosses, exits) Oliver’s a tory boy, a story boy, a story toy. Oliver’s a bory hoy, a whorey boy, a whorey toy – etc… Read aaawll abaaaaaaht it!

OLIVER-JAN: I mean, I know it is natural but it isn’t everything. It doesn’t have to be everything.

OLIVER-LEFT: It’s enough for Nick.

OLIVER-JAN: You’re not being fair. It’s different with us– (to OLIVER-GAG) Knock it off!

OLIVER-GOG: He’s trying.

OLIVER-JAN: -It could be different with us.

OLIVER-RIGHT: Impossible. He’s attached. We’re not that sort of person. We’re not going to get in the way. We’re not about to get in the way are we? They’re committed. It’s not what’s done… It’s not… I mean… He is committed to her… right?

OLIVER-STONED: He’s a playaaa.

OLIVER-LEFT: He’s sick.

OLIVER-STONED: Playaah hate-aaaah.

OLIVER-RIGHT: Maybe he could be more committed, but… “Ours not to reason why…

OLIVER-LEFT: We’ll live alone-

OLIVER-DOWN: And lonely die…


OLIVER-JAN: No no no - we’ve got it all wrong. Nick loves us.

OLIVER-LEFT: Did he just say…? He is fucking with us.

OLIVER-JAN: He loves us and wants us and needs us –

OLIVER-END: But isn’t quite ready for us. I mean. He’s not speaking to us. He’s avoiding us. (Beat) How does that make you feel?

OLIVER-JAN starts to look sad, then sob, then bawls.
The other OLIVERs mob him, submerge him, suffocating him and drown out the cries.
Eventually they disperse leaving a single figure alone on the stage…

OLIVER-FEB: I’m February Oliver and I think Nick’s a total shit…

OLIVER-LEFT: (Off) Not what you said last month.


Written by Sam Ball


Nick Guest edited by Sam Ball

Alone on stage stands OLIVER (OLIVER-JAN). He is wearing a white robe and is impossibly happy.

OLIVER-JAN: I am January Oliver and I think Nick is beautiful.

OLIVER-LEFT: (Entering) Not what you said last month.

Other OLIVER BRAIDs appear from the wings, through trapdoors, are flown in etc.

OLIVER-JAN: It has been a short while since the “incident” –

Other OLIVERs make a tremendous noise – coughing theatrically, whistling, ‘rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarbing’. One shouts; drowns out the rest:

OLIVER-ART: WHAT! Should we sensor art!?

OLIVER-LEFT: Fuck art. (OLIVER-LEFT backhands OLIVER-ART) . This happened.

OLIVER-STONED: Yeaaaaah! (Beat) What happened?

OLIVERs rhubarb, cough, whistle.

OLIVER-LEFT: It did happen!

OLIVER-JAN: - and it was beautiful –

OLIVER-RIGHT: It was really awkward.

OLIVER-LEFT: -fucking horrible!-

OLIVER-STONED: Wha – who?... What happened?

OLIVER-TELL: - doesn’t matter anymore! I’ve told simply everybody- teehee- everybody else must know by now!? (With sense of civic duty) Everybody else must know! Oliver, awaaaaaaay! (Exits)

OLIVER-JAN: What really happened was… he said he love–

Other OLIVERs cough.

OLIVER-LEFT: What happened was he shoved his-

Other OLIVERs cough.

OLIVER-DOWN: He stood up and-

Other OLIVERs cough.

OLIVER-RIGHT: His phone went off-

Other OLIVERs cough.

OLIVER-STONED: Anna cup of tea

Other OLIVERs cough.

OLIVER-JAN: -in my face. But none of that matters because he’s beautiful.

OLIVER-DOWN: It never happened. It can’t have happened! Why would someone like that-

OLIVER-JAN: Niiiiiiiiiiiick…..

OLIVER-DOWN: With someone like us?

OLIVER-JAN: (Still lovestruck) I agree. Why us? (Beat) It’s beautiful.

OLIVER-LEFT: It’s sick.

OLIVER-JAN: I go walking at night hoping I might bump into him. Archie says I must have Stockholm Syndrome – not because Nick’s a kidnapper, but because he dominates me and… I think I like that-

OLIVER-LEFT: You didn’t like it then!

OLIVER-JAN: I was too close-

OLIVER-LEFT: -to his <All OLIVERs cough>

OLIVER-JAN: -To the event.

OLIVER-LEFT: (Beat) The fuck does that mean? Stockholm Syndrome is right.

OLIVER-JAN: (Wistful) Imagine if he was a kidnapper. He’d be strong and forceful and he’d know what he wants and would go for it and he’d not let anything stop him and he’d be even more beautiful.

Enter NICK in yellow fisherman’s jacket, pursued by another OLIVER (OLIVER-YAY)

NICK: Get away from me. No-one’s going to pay the ransom.

OLIVER-YAY: (Holding onto NICK’s leg as he’s dragged across the stage) I’ll pay it – then you can hand me over and kidnap me again.

NICK: I don’t want the money. I don’t need the money. You don’t have the money.

OLIVER-YAY: Then you’ll have to have me forever… YAAAAAY!

NICK exits, dragging OLIVER-YAY.

OLIVER-JAN: But that would be silly, Nick’s too nice to be a kidnapper.

OLIVER-LEFT: Too nice? Did he say too nice?

OLIVER-JAN: He’s far too nice.

You know this jumper that I'm wearing. He paused. Nick. I said you know this jumper that I'm wearing. Well that's from Leeds as well.

Oh really. He didn't look up.

Well there's a story too-ooo !, he crooned. Marks and Spencers it is. Well. Anyway. Someone had stolen Ellie's car—she was in Leeds—and when the police found it, they found this jumper in the boot. So Ellie let me have it. You know. Like a sort of sexy thief's jumper.

Why does it have buttons on the shoulder?

He pursed his lips absurdly. Perhaps if the thief gets caught then he just—slips his body out of it.

Oh fucking hell you didn't, said the pig.

They paid and Nick eased him down the spiral staircase.

What time was it? He was drunk enough for ten, eleven at night. He checked his watch: seven twenty. No. It couldn't be.

Where now?, he heard Nick ask and then his hands were on him. Shoulder, waist. And then they were standing in a queue at the Co-op, with a bottle of wine and twelve crumpets. And then when the crumpets were eaten or forgotten or eaten and forgotten, Ellie was there, looking in from the doorway, saying No, no, no, to something and he was staring at Nick's face, which seemed to be shrinking. To stop this, he focused on each its features at once. From his sharp chin and slanted, gappy, teeth, from one crossed eye to the other, stopping at a patch of alopecia.

He's beautiful, Ellie. Isn't he just the most beautiful boy you've ever seen?

Ellie's gone to bed, said Nick. She went to bed half an hour ago. He kneeled down on the floor in front of him. Laid an arm across his knees. You know that there's of people that don't like you, Oliver. They don't like what you do. It's boring. I've seen it all before, you know? He leaned in closer and whispered. If you don't fuck me, Oliver, I'll ruin you. You're laughing, but I'm in charge now. I'm the one who—He put the back of his hand against his lips, as though he was holding something back. His breathing sounded shallow. He stood. I want you to suck my cock.

Nick, no—I. Sit down. Ellie's next door.

Fuck Ellie. Look at me. Don't you want me to lick your arsehole? Don't you want to be bent over on your elbows while I lick you? Don't you want to know what that feels like? He yanked down his trousers and boxers. A frayed lemon and blue striped heap around his ankles.

What's the matter? Don't you like it, mate? The pig was talking now. Oliver looked up. Saw the pig dangling down from Nick's crotch, with massive balls behind him. Like planets. Red and craggy. You don't even know what to do when they hand it to you. Do you?

Then kisses, their faces clashing, and between these kisses Nick apologised. I'm not gay you know. And the pig pressed up against Oliver. Like fuck he's not. His phone went and he went for it too, bare arsed. It's Marie, he said, in a neutral tone of voice. I suppose I can't stay here, can I? He rubbed his raw looking lips. Shit. He gathered up his trousers to his waist, and held them there, dreaming, for some time. Can you see my boots?, he asked.

Oliver looked down at the floor. I don't you ever took them off.

Written by Stephen O'Toole


At three minutes past he wasn't there. Oliver fished his phone out. Oh hello Nick. He tipped himself off the wall. Want chips. Went to Stravagin. Couldn't wait. Get you there.

Oliver felt unsteady. The Doublet had been bad enough as choices go. He'd only been there once, sat downstairs by the door they kept propped open for the old men shuffling in and out. Moths and flies fluttered in with them. He'd felt like his whole head was crawling. But Stravagin seemed somehow even worse. In his mind he'd had filed away as the sort of place you bring a maiden aunt when she visits and she's paying.

Through the large window the bar looked busy. He glanced around and saw Nick, alone, on a little wooden mezzanine, on his phone. He slipped it quickly into his pocket as Oliver climbed the stairs.

I've ordered a bottle of wine, he said, not standing.

Oh lovely.

A waiter came suddenly and placed said bottle on the table. One glass, one pint of cider.

It's cheaper just drinking a bottle, he said. His forehead wrinkled with the exertion of thinking. That's what the man said. The waiter.

Maybe not if just one person's drinking it.

They both sat in silence. Chips came. His eyes widened. Instinctively, he slid an arm around the bowl, pulling it towards him, protecting his pile from Oliver. With the other hand he flicked off the ketchup lid, slathering obscene red amounts all over. Half a bottle, no less.

Oliver stared at the candle. Chips and cider and ketchup, he thought. Fucking hell.

Nick threw himself back in his chair and drummed his stomach.

Turning from the centre of the candle flame to look at him, two hours passed. The table was littered with pint glasses. The bottle of wine was empty, the glass wet inside from what used to be.

Nick took a spoon from somewhere and held it over the candle. Did you ever used to do this?, he asked. He pressed the metal down onto the back of Oliver's hand. Oliver bit his lip and pressed up. He felt himself straining in his chair, his throat dry. He swallowed.

She's just some posh girl that I'll fuck for two years, said Nick. He rapped Oliver's knuckles hard and dropped the spoon on the table, bored. She pays my rent and. I don't know. He laughed, teased his fringe. It's so funny . I'm her whore.

Ben—. His voice impossibly high.

What was that?

I said benefactor. She's—benefacting you.

She knows what she's doing. He slapped his hand down hard on the spoon. It flipped over once and lay prone. So we're celebrating, actually.

Why?, asked Oliver. Why, what's happened to Marie?

His nose wrinkled. What are you talking about? ‘FRAME’. I got a grant for ten thousand. We're going—um, Scotland wide. Sort of thing.

He knows this means I know now I've not got my funding.

And the curator's job as well, my God, said Oliver. It's dominance.

Nick sniffed and eased his phone out of his pocket. His swift glance downwards, his half smile, made Oliver feel lost.


NICK Guest edited by Stephen O'Toole

That pig, thought Oliver Braid. That pig has stayed with me all morning.

There was dust amongst the keys of his laptop, impossible to get to. Tiny hairs too, and crumbs. He turned around in his chair, and watched as the pig inched into his bedroom on its stiff stubby papier mache legs. A red and white spotted bundle hung from a stick on its shoulder.

Well that doesn't seem right at all, thought Oliver. Why would it be walking up on its hind legs? Clearly, it's struggling.

Well, hold on a minute, Pig said. What do you want me to do? Carry the fucking thing in my mouth?

The pig was wearing lipstick or the pig's lips were red au naturel .

But your hooves aren't even made to grip sticks, said Oliver.

Oh, here we go, said Pig. The Artist has an opinion on everything.

Well it's not so much an opinion. It's just nature, biologically...

Don't talk to me about nature, gay boy, it said.

Oliver blinked at its belly. How dare it, he thought then, tired but calm. How dare this pig, this useless ornament, try to get a rise out of me.

I used to really like you, he lied. When I was growing up in that house. You're still the only thing of mum's that has any real personality.

Oh for Christ's sake, it said. Why can't you just be a man for once?

Oliver walked out into the hall, into the kitchen. Sun down already; it was four almost, and January. So that's it then, he thought, standing in front of the fridge, another day done and nothing. Just a few badly worded paragraphs and a stiffness from sitting still for hours. He could hardly start blaming the pig for all that, any more than he could blame mum for buying it, years ago, from some cold Christmastime garden centre; setting off an inscrutable chain of events that had led to him waking up this morning from an unhappy pig-heavy dream.

He opened the fridge and looked inside. All Ellie's things, cool and bright. He closed it again and opened the cupboard instead. It was dark and jungle-cluttered in there, and the smell of herbs and spices turned his stomach. When was the last time that he'd eaten? He risked three rice cakes from the packet and drank a disappointing glass of water. His phone was out on the counter in front of him, and he thought, though he could see the answer already, Has Nick texted yet?

He left the phone where it was and showered. When he came back, it winked at him. Nick, of course, but the thrill was still there as he held it. Opening a text from Nick was like falling off of a wall. It was that high a wall this time. Just winded him slightly. Six o'clock at the Doublet. Okay. He could manage that. In fact, he would love to. But still, he'd wait to celebrate until he actually saw him, standing in the doorway. Saw him and sized up mood. Truth was he wouldn't totally relax until Nick had turned to him and said, Well one more wouldn't hurt, would it? And he'd have to mean it to. No use saying it, is there, if it sounds like you're going to be pulling your own teeth.


On the way back from the volunteer centre I met Nick in the street. He’d been at his parent’s house in England all week. He was depressed to be back in Scotland “because it’s dark and wet here”.

I remembered that I’d discovered that his hometown is where Peter Sutcliffe committed his first murder. Nick told me that his aunt had lived on the same street as the Ripper. When they arrested and searched him he was wearing an upside down jumper over his legs, with the neck hole exposing his genitals. Nick asked me why I thought he’d been wearing that. I said it was probably for easier access for raping. Nick didn’t see to think there had been any rape involved; just hitting people with hammers. Wikipedia told me that there were traces of semen found on his victims clothes. It also told me that Bruce Jones, who plays Les Battersby Coronation Street, actually discovered one of the victims before he became famous as a soap actor. I wonder if, at the time of discovery, Bruce Jones had thought it would be his only claim to fame.


When Nick rang to ask if I would do some acting for him I said yes without thinking. Would it be a group scene? Maybe someone somewhere has written a role specifically for an overweight, balding but young homosexual? A lot of people ask me to play audio roles, but always as a mother or old woman. I feel like a mixture of a mad old woman in an attic and a little boy trapped in a man’s body. The latter is how my Dad use to describe himself just before my parents’ divorce.

I become more fantastical, maybe there will be a line of men that I am required to kiss on film. Or they want to make a film of me and Nick having sex. My thoughts get darker, thinking that if I refused I would be rape and humiliated on camera. I begin to think (a regular thought even when I know people well) that it may simply be a trap to kill me. Everyone will be gathered in the warehouse pretending to make a film but really they’ll be there to stone me or some other kind of horrible bludgeoning. I should take a knife in my bag. I’m worried I might get carried away and use it anyway.

I smoke. I count my breath. I try to be conscious that I am breathing and living. A mindfulness technique supposed to make me a happier person. I clean my teeth in case there is kissing involved. I decide not to take a knife. I pack my fabric scissors instead; as a compromise. I try to memorize all the exits and resolve myself the idea that I will have to kill someone if they try to kill me. I wonder if I’d be able to kill Nick if he tried to me first.

I get to the venue, The Glue Factory, and bang on the back door. Nick open’s with a Stella in his hand. He doesn’t seem nervous enough to be in a plot. I’m introduced to five people sitting in a circle drinking. One of the boys keeps laughing and saying ‘I don’t know if I can do this’. I tell them I was thinking they might be here to kill me.

The film is about death and burial rituals. I’m introduced to everyone but forget their names straight away. One of the boys, small, thin and with acne scars but still good looking, has to be carried around by the rest of us. Essentially the film involves carrying a small homosexual around a space and pretending he’s dead. I feel we are expected to take this very seriously. I wonder if the main actor is fucking the director. We pick up his shoes off and cover him with a sheet. Somewhere in between is a bit of vamping around with a sign that reads ‘Joshua Will Rise Again’.

The director asks if he can call me ‘Oli’. I say it is possible, but it does give a false impression of my character that I might be the kind of person who enjoys snowboarding.

We carry the boy around. Nick whispers to me that he needs to take a shower. He smells strongly of armpit. He’s the kind of person who really enjoys his own body. A lot of physicality.

As we’re leaving (I am still alive) I tell everyone about the scissors in my bag. I get given two cans of beer by the director.


Dr. Geber says I have to think about the ways I relate to people. Mostly I just want to entertain them, in a disconnected way. Nancy says, the thing with boys is, you have to show you’re interested but at the same tim not be too desperate or nice.

When I first meet people I search for things I find interesting. I ask a lot of questions. I took a life lesson from Sally to the extreme. When she went to University for the first time she made friends with everyone. But slowly she began to ‘weed her social garden’, so she was left with the people she enjoyed most.

I’m thinking to get involved in voluntary work. I watched a programme last week about helping people and felt quite emotional. I spent a drunken night on It Gets Better, a video uploading site made in response to the hig number of gay teen suicides.

Gay’s who’ve gone through problematic youths, but subsequently blossomed, can upload videos to tell other depressed gay youths how it ‘gets better.’ I wonder how I would have felt as a teenager seeing these videos. I wonder if being told it gets better would have helped.

When I was younger, I thought being homosexual was synonymous with being rich. I think this image of richness was fuelled by my father, who hated homosexuality and especially hated homosexuals with more money than him.

Most of the uploaded videos on this site were an epic nine or ten minutes long. Mostly I skipped through them. It would be better to make a video for less than a minute where you simply bark ‘it gets better’ at the camera. I wonder if the most popular videos to watch, as they were for me, were the ones with the most attractive looking testifiers.

As a 16 year old living in a small town I might have found this website more helpful, but with my mother rushing into my room to check on me so frequently I would have found access to this site impossible.

When I was 13 Stephen let me draw a tattoo on his stomach with an icing sugar pen and lick it off. When I was 14 Duncan used to sleep next to me in bed, holding me with an erection. His mother threatened to throw me out one night and told me I lived in ‘cloud cuckoo land’

Dr. Gerber said he is changing me to a different therapist. Doing some work with Gay Youth Scotland will make me a braver person and stop me distancing myself from the gay community; to call a truce between us.

In the LGBT Scotland offices I sit with two women who have small Mohawks. Not big, impractical ones, just manageable ‘I can probably still get a job with this’ ones. Looking at the wall collages of Glasgow Gay Pride I think how I could never be involved and wonder what there is to be ‘proud’ of.

One of the women tells me about how they are organising events to promote historically famous gays. It seems so desperate. I can’t believe that any kid getting picked on every day will take comfort in knowing that Oscar Wilde was homosexual. I worry it makes gay youths think they are special or destined for importance. It seems like begging to ‘normal’ people – ‘please be nice to gays because they helped invent…etc.’ And it seems to encourage very tenuous ‘outings’.

Adrenaline Christmas by Nick

Shakes and serenity
equivalent to the punishment
for Arabian theft.
There is only one left!

it is pronounced disrespect,
a reoccurring theme
of our younger years.
Clip round the ear!

Meaningless threats &
and the adverts persist.
How to resist?

Year after year
with the usual fear
and a sense of contempt
for family life unkempt.

The box is to blame
for adrenaline Christmas
the box and the bent elbow.
For morning we eat crow.

A face like an over-carved Pob by Oliver

You’re roving on Virgin, I’m resting at home.
I’m Geyser-gazing on ‘Yellowstone’

Back with parents. Are you trekking alone?
Are you filling in time with verse on the phone?

Perhaps you’re delayed, your train stuck in queues,
Going back through the home-towns of Sutcliffe and Hughes.

And maybe you’re drinking to quicken to travel,
And with a few swills your couplets unravel.

Jing-a-ling words with your builders’ hands:
Broad metacarpus blushing like hams.

With a chic too-small hat and a fisherman’s coat,
You’ll sometimes try making a tortoise a boat.

You enjoy eating meat and I’m a failed vegan,
We both live in Glasgow but we’re not Glaswegian.

I’m not as unswerving in poems as prose,
But have a good Christmas, Puppet-nose.

Train Poem by Nick
Sat on a train
Time and time again
It’s uncomfortable as a plane
As Jane would complain

In the dark
Shivering like a muted lark
I want to get off with some Anglican toff
Bish bash bosh

Into the cabbage patch we crash.
Wipe with green leaves, but I fear a rash.
Must dash…

Pretty early into the conversation he came out with ‘Maybe I don’t really love my girlfriend’ in a kind of cheeky, conspiratorial manner. Nick is good at making you feel like you’re sharing something. The good thing about their relationship apparently is that she can support him so he doesn’t have to work, which is nice. She kept texting him through dinner.

He told me that before he’d come tonight his friends had questioned him, about why he was coming. But he said he felt really comfortable. I was confused by what he was saying to me, because we were drunk and he kept saying how he didn’t believe in gay or straight and asking me if I’d heard about him and this boy David who studies on Interior Design. He told me he was really bad at being faithful, especially when he’s drunk.

He has amazing hands, the kind of hands I really like to see. Rough looking, short fingernails, wide fingers. Like the kind of hands a sculptor would have in a movie. He said every year, near where he is from, there is a sculpture trail. It’s near Hepden Bridge, where Sylvia Plath is buried, and every year he says there is always a sculpture involving someone hanging out of an oven. I said he was a bit like Ted Hughes. His northerness and his poetry writing.

He used lots of words I don’t know. He said he writes reviews and then uses his thesaurus to make his writing seem more exciting. He read me one of his reviews and it had a nice observation about the recent Raphael Danke exhibition at Sorcha Dallas. We laughed at how weird it is to hear something you’ve written read back to you. When my Mum used to read things back to me it used to make me squirm. But I think this was because my Mum always read the words to sound dramatic and questionable.

His Mum is alive. His Dad is a trade union worker and maybe he doesn’t really love his rich girlfriend. He really likes listening to Ragga, which was embarrassing when he said it, but we could cringe together at least.

I questioned why he always wears that little cap and he said it was because last year, when he was stressed, his hair had started to fall out in clumps. It’s all grown back now, except for one spot. It’s hidden underneath his hair and it’s a completely empty patch of skin, about the size of a snooker ball. I would have liked to have touched it or signed my name on it.

He asked about my parents and we were talking about my Dad and his penchant for buying wives and them being like objects. He made the comparison between my Dad’s conception of people as objects and my own way of relating to people by making them drawings in a frame.

He showed me how to tell the strength of wine by counting the ‘lags’ when you twirl the glass.

There were frequent occurrences when he thought I was trying to be homosexual with him, but it feels like he was projecting it. I did enjoy saying homosexual a lot though. I like to say it how Quentin Crisp says it: hoe-moe, rather than hom-uh. He told me that he was sure there were people who fancied me.

Just before he left he asked about the balcony, whether I’d ever been out there. I told him I hadn’t. He said if he had a balcony like this he would have definitely had a wank out there by now, over the city. Maybe that’s just how everyone talks and I’m completely out-of –the- loop.

When I went to bed I was thinking how being out-of-the-loop makes it impossible to have a relationship with anyone, if I can’t even understand what people mean.

Nick left me a signed copy of his poems in my studio. I’m convinced he left them deliberately on the one day that he knew I wouldn’t be there.

I was walking to the studio and he was waiting at the lights. I guess he could have been at his girlfriend’s house – because obviously she will live in the West-end.

He had a new hat on, faded, kind of crappy 90’s nostalgia, which looks good on him. Nick makes a strange mix of frivolous and practical clothing decisions. I like how he wears those little white half socks and his yellow fisherman’s jacket.

We chatted across the road and up the street.

In the evening, walking past art school on my own, I’m sure I walked past his girlfriend sitting on the steps smoking. I think we both did that thing where we pretend to not notice each other. That thing when it feels you have to fight magnets in your eyes from looking in a certain direction. If I ended up talking to her it might feel too dark.

He was supposed to come to my house at seven thirty but he rang the doorbell at seven.

I was upstairs with Anne, she’d dropped round to collect a studio key.

I didn’t have time to spray on aftershave or think about music. I had been listening to Jerry Springer: The Opera but I felt like this wouldn’t be the right vibe. I changed it for Greek by Mark Anthony Turnage. I thought it would make me look mature. ‘My current interests are contemporary British opera and female grime MC’s’. It sounds diverse enough to make me seem more interesting than I actually am.

I had to rush Anne out of the door and be thankful that she had declined the original offer of a hot drink. I didn’t want her to meet Nick in case the presence of a woman reminded him of being heterosexual. They met on the stairs but I just did a quick introduction before getting her out of the door.

Nick and I hugged hello, but once we got upstairs I felt anxious again. He pulled a bottle of red out of his bag so we could start drinking straight away. It made me wish that I had cooked before he came. Whenever I cook in-front of people I’m always reminded of when Shelly came for dinner and spent the whole time asking me to wash my hands again.

Nick sat in the lounge. He did offer to help. He has beautiful manners, and face. He was wearing all different shades of brown, some smart brown shoes and no hat for a change. His face looks like it could have been carved out of wood and be in a display of fairy-tale characters from De Efteling.

His friend used to go out with Chanelle Hayes from Big Brother 8. I asked if his friend knew that Chanelle had tried to kill herself earlier this year with a bottle of red and some sleeping pills. Then I worried about whether Nick’s Mum had killed herself in the same way. Not that Nick’s Mum had killed herself. She isn’t really dead at all. He showed me photographs of her and talked about how she had made up the spelling of Nick because she didn’t like the biblical connotations of the regular spelling. I told him I’d thought she was dead.

He showed me photographs of his Mum and Dad. He’s got his Mum’s nose and mouth and his Dad’s eyes. Or it could be the other way around. I can’t remember because we’d drunk a lot by then. He drinks wine even quicker than I do and he’s really good at topping the glasses up. He said he normally spends six days drunk and one day sober. When he was showing me the pictures of his family he accidentally also showed me that he had a photograph of me on his computer.



Nick turned up and was typically too busy to be bothered. He was drinking from a glass bottle of cider. I wondered if this was because he was nervous, because he loves drinking or because since he’s graduated he thinks its okay to drink in the day. That sounds like I’m judging, but I’m not.

He was friendly but asked if he could come back in a bit. He has something to be getting on with. When people are difficult it makes me want to get really obsessive. It’s because I forget people have lives. I wonder if I was beautiful or a girl whether I would find these negotiations easier. Imagine that all our attitudes are based on penises and vaginas, that’s so fucked up. Maybe if I had money it would make it easier, but then I would be just like my Dad again. How funny that I might repeat what he did. It seems that’s what everyone does. Maybe these are compromises with the world.

The more we drank Nick talked more openly. He was sad about the reaction to his degree show. I think he expected to sell his installation. He said he expected GSA to have a better mailing list. I think he was down because if he’d been a painter he could have sold easier. I think Nick seemed disappointed in his mark because he’d apparently never gotten lower than an A before and then some external examiners had marked his work down. He had wanted to appeal but left it too late.

His girlfriend, the ‘I’m so rich I can afford to dress poor’ one, sold all her work and made lots of money. He showed me her work. It’s not really surprising she sold. She’ll probably end up becoming really famous. What do I know about judging the quality of art? Although that implies that I think quality is what ensures artistic success, but it’s all arbitrary right? That sounds like the kind of thing an unsuccessful artist would say. I asked him what he talked about with his girlfriend. He said they supported each other but they didn’t really talk about art, or at least not specifics.

A.J. told me that the previous week Nick had been trying to kiss this girl Claire at a party and she’d turned him down. As A.J. and Claire were leaving they’d seen Nick in a bedroom kissing this guy Chris instead.

I asked if his parents were teachers, because my Mum was and that’s what had made me such a marks orientated person. He told me his dad was a trade union leader and how that had made him Marx orientated.

He told me he grew up in a rough little town in Yorkshire, near to where the Yorkshire Ripper had operated. All of his friends have gone on to become electricians, builders and soldiers. He’d won a scholarship to a better school and studied hard so he could come to art school. His first choice of job had been a fighter pilot, but he’d failed the test because he was colour blind. He’s dyslexic too but he didn’t find that out until after he was at art school. I ‘m sure when you start art school they basically force you to become dyslexic because of free computers and money.

The photographs on his old Facebook look as if they have been taken in a war-torn country. In one of the photographs was what looked like a ten year old boy skinning up a joint. It looked a bit like a set from Shameless. Nick told me that he didn’t even speak to one of the boys in these photographs. One boy, who had been his friend, had joined the army and then come to a party Nick was at when he was on leave and joked about killing a grandfather and his kids during the war. This made Nick walk out and not speak to him anymore. He has that super honourable way about him. It could be slightly issue-y for me.

I keep wondering if his Mum is dead. He never mentioned her when we talked about parent’s jobs and on graduation day, in the Indian restaurant, it was just him and possibly his Dad? When he had Facebook there were just pictures of him, his dad and his brother. He deleted his Facebook. He said to me that before we’d spoken or I’d made contact, he’d been on my Facebook and my website. He called it ‘his research’. He’s very distant.

He’s only 21, maybe he’s 22. All these boys are young – born in ‘88 or ‘89.

Our first meeting could have been better, if he hadn’t come with so many friends. Possibly anyone else would recognise this as a sign to indicate that he was freaked out. That didn’t even cross my mind until now. This probably demonstrates how much I don’t think about social behaviour – or don’t think to decipher these things. It could be because I’m always so worried about myself, how I’m behaving.

Graduation day.
Nick was there, but I didn’t speak to him. We smiled at each other when he entered the hall and I was sat down. Later, when I went for dinner at Mother India with my friends and family, he was there at the same time - with who I think must be his dad. He was sat behind a wall from us. Just knowing he was there, in the same restaurant, was putting me off concentrating on my dinner and my conversation.

I’d been putting off calling Nick on the phone. When I’d last talked to him at the Glue Factory it had been quite an awkward experience - all those girls being there. But he did email me his number, so I supposed it was acceptable to call.

I think he’s quite business minded. When I see him he is friendly, but then lots of people are polite without it even meaning they like you. I do it all the time. Sometimes I’m even nicer to the people who make me nervous.

He seemed relaxed and the conversation went on longer than I thought it would. He lives in the South-side, so maybe he’s not so posh after all. He says he runs past the Burrell Collection, where I work, all the time and he said he’d really like a job there. I really don’t think I could cope with that.

He’s signing on at the minute and doing an internship at MAP magazine. The latter, to me, is impressive because he’s making an effort to progress straight off the course. He also seems really active; both with his work and also with his body, always talking about cycling, running etc. This doesn’t really give us much common ground to talk about.

I talked to him about Leeds; he’s from near there, or near Bradford. I told him a story about getting my trousers pulled down at a bus stop in Leeds city centre and about drink-driving back from the David Hockney museum, again into Leeds. It’s my least favourite city in the UK.

I was trying to be forceful and keep the conversation going as long as possible. We talked about work. It’s difficult to remember specifics because I was feeling nervous sick for most of the conversation, and worrying about not sounding like I was.


Sybren told me he’d seen Nick in Nice N’ Sleazy. Sybren told me he’d told Nick that I’d made a drawing of him. I checked Nick’s Facebook account and it had disappeared.

I went to the degree show and Nick was invigilating his work, staring so hard at his computer screen that he just looked like he was trying to ignore me. I left the room and felt like an idiot for not dealing with it there and then.

Nick came to the Glue Factory to see the MFA exhibition, with a boy and about six girls. We said Hi, but it was pretty awkward. He went inside to see the show and I was waiting outside feeling queasy. I was reading Dave Beech’s anthology on Beauty when he came back outside. I caught him and talked to him, gave him a flyer for the closing party.

I thought I should probably talk with him and his friends because they were just sat on the steps smoking and I couldn’t just sit two meters away reading a book.

Nick was sat on the floor and didn’t speak a lot. The girls, mostly sat on the steps, were obviously pretty posh. One of them, a blonde girl, looked so rich she wasn’t even bothering to hide it, the other girls were doing that look where you’ve got so much money you can afford to look like you haven’t got any. Art school boho, a dirty faces and clothes kind of look. None of us could really make eye contact. I couldn’t tell if they were embarrassed or thought that I wasn’t worth their time - maybe both.

Someone brought up the subject of sex. I thought I’d try to offer a distinction between sex and beauty. I managed to say that penises and vaginas had nothing to do with beauty, which made it even more awkward - at least for me. But I was pleased because I’d been working on that sentence for a while. Saying it out loud felt very wrong, especially when making eye contact with people I’d never met before. There was more silence after that.

Nick looked very beautiful from five meters away; I was a bit surprised about how he looked in real life. I couldn’t tell if one of the girls was his girlfriend. They were all so rich looking, especially the blonde tall one on a bike with round pearl earrings who looked super boarding school and another girl who could afford to look like a street urchin – muddy looking, wavy unwashed style hair.

I had imagined he’d have more subdued friends. I think I’d imagined they’d all be boys too. I must have predicted that because he is quite skating based, and looks like someone who lives a life ready for extreme sports. He’s probably just rich and is doing some trustafarian ‘roughing’ at art school.

I’m not sure about his art work. It seems quite traditional – installation, objects etc. I suppose mine is too. I couldn’t read his statement properly; I thought it had so many gratuitously long words. It ended with two short proposition-like statements, but I felt I’d seen it all before.