Archive mensuelles: novembre 2000

The Real Thing 1

The first day I arrived at the house, I was tired by my bus journey and went to bed early…
I was woken up at 3 o’clock in the morning by the flatmates I had not met: they banged on my door and i soon discovered that they were drunk. One was even more plastered and louder than the other, he was also the cutest. I decided not to hold grudges.
The next morning, i discovered he had a girlfriend,a fat and jolly pimpelled girl…
I decided he wasn’t that cute.

Sometimes, you need to let go.

The Real Thing 2

One night, we went dancing in Moseley, in a village near Edgbaston. I was really please, it was going to be a salsa night.
But once we arrived there, it seems I was the only one to be happy about it. No one was dancing… John gave me the explaination:
« we are not drunk enough ».

The Real Thing 5

There was that guy living in my house. Dave. He was the first guy I got chatty with and we got along well. One night the whole house went out, in a strange bar, with loads of gothic decorations on the walls. Students from the campus were hanging there. I found the place awful.
As the night went on, Dave became more and more aggressive around me. I thought it was because he was drunk as he was in fact, and tried to avoid him. Then suddenly he said to me his breath full of alcohol « you look like Snow White ». I replied, « Well you make me think of Mister Bean ».
He was never nice to me after that.
He really liked me and hated me at the same time, and I realized long after that my being French was partly the reason.

A few months after there was an exhibition at the something factory and his paintings were on display. I was surprised of how cool they were.
It made me proud not to be his friend.

The Real Thing 6

There was that guy living in my house. Paul. A boy from Liverpool who was trying to D-jay during the night and was sleeping during the day, or he would lie on the couch in the ground floor kitchen-living room, making the kitchen smell of his unwashed clothes. He was always eating cereals and they would get stuck into his brown teeth.
One morning I went into the bathroom. It was early and everybody was asleep. It seems they didn’t have the ability to get up before 10, so I had the big house all for myself.
Well that morning the bathtub and sink were covered in some brown grease, like from a car or something. When I came back at night it was still like this and I was told that Paul had done the mess and was not ready to do the cleaning up.

I waited a couple of days before cleaning the bathroom, using his toothbrush. He was not pleased and called me a bitch.

The Real Thing 10

One Sunday, as the two of us were speaking quietly in the kitchen, Yan admired that he was spitting in Dave’s shampoo every time Dave was an arse. I laughed, looking astonished, opening big eyes then said: » no way, me too!! » We both burst out laughing.
From that moment on, I kept my shampoo in my room.

The Real Thing 11

On day, HE called on the phone landline, and Yan asked nosily, who’s that guy, he is you blockey? In my broken english, I heard « bollockey ». For the next few weeks, happy to know a new word, I used « bollockey » as often as I could.

The Real Thing 13

Our house was cold and damp. In the shower you had one of these annoying hot water electrical heater. I had never seen anything like it before. It was never really hot, it was never powerful enough. I had the idea to ask the vicar if he could do something about it. He looked at me strangely, and then blushed. I turned red too, immediately realizing my mistake. You wouldn’t ask things like that to your landlord if he were a vicar.

The Real Thing 14

One day, the heater in my room broke down and Yan and Mary told me they had to go to the vicar the next day: It was only 5 mns away from the house, they would show me where it was. On the way, they explained to me that he owned a few houses around this side of Edgbaston, all pretty much in the same state. I kept thinking, how can this guy rent such dives,… when we arrived to his house, I went mute. His looked exactly in the same condition as ours.

The Real Thing 16

The house kitchen was a big square room with a bow window on the huge beautiful messy garden. Looking outside was looking at every possible shades of green.
Inside, all was green too, and brown, and grey, and yellow.
A kitchen with plastic floor on one side of the room, and a living area on the other side, with a blue-grey carpet, a few comfy armchairs and a table that I was the only one to use.

It was a pain to heat, and often smelled of greasy sausages.

The Real Thing 18

A very high ceiling, the downstairs bathroom was impossible to heat and remained freezing cold. Its grey-ish coat of paint gave it a grim look. One Monday, Yan, who was the most resourceful, and always had good ideas, took upon himself to buy some nice 70’s orange paint for the walls, and creamy white for the doors and window…. We were all really excited about this new improvement on our floor.
I came back from school that day really cheerful, to enter a half painted bathroom: having no ladder, he had painted the bottom part of the walls, leaving an undetermined coloured zone: an addition of orange strokes and the grey colour beneath it.

The Real Thing 19

Toilette paper. Meeting somebody in the hallway with a toilet roll.. and you knew their destination.

One the house, I soon discovered, there was an unspoken rule about loo paper: Buy some and leave it in the bathroom, and by the end of the day, it would have been used. Put a new one on the next day. Same fate. Try again if you wish. Fate.
So everyone would go to the bathroom with their own roll, and bring it back to their bedroom with them.
Except when one of the boys would stole heavy industrial toilet rolls from the university bathroom, then you were safe for a week or so.. safe from those loo paper encounters.

The Real Thing 20

For Xmas break, everybody went home, to Liverpool, Newcastle, Cheltenham, Grimsby, Reading, and Portsmouth… My flight was on the 22nd of December, so I had a few days alone in the house. On the second day of being on my own, I decided to make the place nice for myself. I cleaned the bathroom, scrubbed the kitchen, got the few decent Xmas decorations out of the box, went to Tesco and bought candles and groceries to make a Dauphinois potato dish and a piece of duck to cook in the pot.
On my way back it started snowing. By the time I was home, waiting for the dish to cook slowly in the oven, the garden was a field of white heavy moss.
I took my drawing book, made myself a cup of tea and smiled in the half darkness of the candle lights.

The Real Thing 21

I had a cat. The important one, the first one, I haven’t owned a cat since actually, but I will, I am positive about it. I had a white cat. I was 12, we had just moved into a new flat, and I was surprised that my mum accepted.
Nobody liked it. And it was cool, cause he was mine only and didn’t seem to like anybody anyway. Me, I loved it, he was sleeping on my bed during the day, playing at night and eating ungratefully whatever was available. I had it for nearly 10 years, and then I moved to England for studying, and I left the cat behind, and my mum took care of it for a while. After a couple of years, she called me and said I should think about what I wanted to do with it, cause really it was mine, and she was tired of having to take care of it, arrange for somebody to come and feed him during holidays and everything. She said she had found an old woman in the country who was happy to take care of it, if I wanted to. I said it was fine by me, it seemed a good solution, it was getting old, and I looked at it a bit like a retirement home in the country. My mum took it to the women and I never saw it again.

The Real Thing 22

And then a few days ago I woke up sweating in the morning, remembering a dream I was sure I had many, many times. It was clear to me that I did have that dream periodically. Or it was more like I was dreaming something and then that piece of dream inserted itself in the main feature. The insertion was my cat. In the kitchen. Coming out of nowhere. Skinny, I mean not really skinny, but enough to make you think « what’s wrong with it?�? and in my dream, I just remember thinking, « fuck! I forgot to feed the cat », and as fast as could, I would grab a box of dry cat food, or if there wasn’t any left, I would open a can of tuna, or cut pieces of the fat around ham and spill it in a plate near the washing machine, and look at it throw itself on the food, eating greedily, and I would feel really relieved. Every time, it was as if it has been on the barge of getting bad, but hadn’t. I had that fucking dream over and over again, and every time I felt so relieved after it had eaten up. But the dream would eventually come back. Until a few days ago, I woke up sweating in the morning.

I never dreamt of it again.

The Real Thing 23

Like any Victorian mansion, ours had its own damp, musty brick basement. You could access through a door situated behind the main staircase, next to the kitchen.
Christmas was coming and we decided to through a party between us. Ian suggested we cleaned the basement to have it as a dance and party hall.

As usual, I went to school, and they stayed behind, absorbed by their new project.

When I came back, eager to see what joke was going to be this experiment, I was thrown: you couldn’t recognise the place: they had store all the rubbish in one of the smallest basement room, cleaned it as much as it could, put Christmas light all over. Tables were dressed with gaudy paper cloth, candles were lit and Paul had carried his stereo down.. The party was due at 10PM.
Mary and Ian continued their cleaning and decorating, I made cakes, Paul a music compilation, the others went to buy booze..

We had the best time, music as loud as the stereo could handle, drunk. Dancing like monkeys…
I had far too much too drink and needed a rest, my head was spinning a little so I sat on a trunk in the small room next to the « party hall ». It was cooler there, and darker too.
I listened to the others, cheering and shouting the lyrics of one of the many perfect pop song that Paul had gathered…
« Julie? Juliiie? caaaaaam on, come back in here and daaaaaaance! » I heard from the other room…
I smiled. Got up.
And that’s when I saw it. And froze.

“Julie, Hey!�? Paul was next to me now. “Hey! Cat got your tongue?�? Paul asked looking at me… I swallowed… « no but the rat might have I said », pointing at the biggest son of a rat I had seen in my life.
When I went back in the other room, I was no more in a party mood. I told what I had just seen and Mary went quiet too.
To cheer us up, Paul told us how once in Liverpool, during a rave party in basement, somebody had discovered a decomposing body in a locked trunk.
I went to bed.

The Real Thing 30

I took the plane in Paris. It was warm and nice. The sun was setting down.
15 minutes after the plane took off, the stewardesses started rushing around.
To help waiting for the packed bright and multicolour lunch box, I opened my book, « on the road », and started reading…

The Real Thing 31

..I drank the sparkling water.
My back was still hurting from the plane first shock. I tried to relax: I observed the passengers recovering from the incident. Some were crying afterward, the pretty black girl smiled at me, relieved. The fat French woman sitting by me was still groaning in her friends’ arms. The staff gathered the untouched packed lunches, some of them on the floor.
I felt really peaceful and lonely…and the film title « n’oublie-pas que tu vas mourir » came to my mind.

I told myself that I had been dreaming, that this couldn’t happen to me.