Authors: Gillibran Brown
Memoirs of a Houseboy 2008
Copyright © Gillibran Brown 2012
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Houseboy Works/Gillibran Brown - 2012
Fun with Dick and Shane More Fun with Dick and Shane Achilles and the Houseboy http://www.Gillibran-brown.com
Dedicated to my personal knights of the dining room table Sirs Dick and Shane xx
It’s too easy to fall out of the habit of writing and journaling. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve thought about doing it, but not acted on it. I sometimes think this automated ‘blog’ business isn’t conducive to the real art of keeping a diary. There’s a disheartening aspect to it that you don’t get when you keep a private diary, especially an old fashioned one involving pen to paper. The latter is simply you in conversation with your confessor the diary. It’s a strictly limited interaction with no expectation of a response. It’s satisfying insofar as it gives you an opportunity to chart the mundane, as well as intimate aspects of your daily life without worrying whether it sounds boring or whether it's going to piss off some unpleasant stranger who will then dash off a vitriolic email viciously castigating you for your thoughts and feelings.
Part of the appeal of electronic writing as opposed to the paper and ink variety is to do with laziness, certainly in my case. It’s much easier to type than it is to take the time to write script properly. I can type several pages on the computer in the time it would take me to write a fluent paragraph by hand, which is great in one respect, and yet there’s something, some element about writing by hand that’s lost when using an electronic medium. I think the missing element is creative intimacy, a warm link between you and the words you craft, and that’s why I often like to sit with a notebook and pencil scribbling down thoughts and ideas in preference to the cold efficiency of the computer keyboard.
Anyway I finally decided to get to take the plunge and resume the business of being a diarist. I find it facilitates the process of making sense of things, and heaven knows I need a way of making sense out of the spaghetti junction of thought lanes in my head. I can take an incident or a thought and write it on the page and immediately I have a way of examining it from a less involved perspective.
Come on, Gilli, I hear you say, shut up chewing and mulling and just get on with writing the fucking diary. Okay, okay, calm down. Sheesh, I get nothing but nagging.
Here we go then. Fasten your seatbelts for another round of domestic adventures with YT. Think of me as a gay male version of Flora Thompson writing not so much about Larkrise to Candleford as Arsehole to Breakfast Time. The BBC will never commission it as a series, but there you go, it’s their loss. I had an email not so long ago, which said
‘Gilli, one rather likes your books even though they have no plot to
Well, Your Majesty (bobs a curtsy) that’s because none of us common folk are born with a solid plot to our lives. Life for most of us is plotless perhaps even clueless. It unfolds as a series of incidents as we wend our way through our allotted days. (Lie detector says please make clear the Queen did NOT write to you.) Okay I lied about the mailer’s identity. It wasn’t from royal Lizzie, but I bet she’d prefer reading my stuff to the boring official documents she normally has to plough her way through while using the royal facility.
The weather has been horrible for the past few days, wet, cold and windy. I can cope with each element on its own but in combination they really piss me off. I take it as a personal affront. Running is virtually impossible when it’s blowing a gale that drives sleet and rain through your body like steel rods. I fell over yesterday when a particularly strong gust of wind buffeted me and I lost my footing on the wet pavement. You don’t half feel a pranny when you fall onto your fanny, as the Americans call the unisex arse area. English fannies are something altogether more frontal and feminine, but we won’t go into them now, maybe later when I’m feeling braver and more up to exploring uncharted territory.
I ripped the seat of my running shorts in the fall. I got scant sympathy from the boyfriends. They said it was stupid to be out running in such vile conditions anyway.
Shane suggested I join him in the gym, but I declined. I detest running on a treadmill.
I don’t like being surrounded by a load of other people doing exactly the same thing.
It makes me feel like a cog in a machine. I enjoy exercising in the fresh air, well relatively fresh air barring traffic pollution and the pong from any dog shit bins I pass.
I enjoy seeing trees and houses, gardens and different people doing different things as they go about the process of living. I like imparting greetings, a nod and a smile to someone I recognise, but don’t know in any deep sense. They’re just a familiar face from around the locality. There’s a possibility of friendship there, but in all likelihood it will come to nothing.
Getting back to weather. We lost a couple of roof tiles on Monday night when it really stormed, but they’re fixed now and we’ve had the entire roof checked over and made sound. I wanted to get up there and have a go at doing it myself. I love trying my hand at different things. Shane just about popped out a haemorrhoid when I suggested it. He did not want a houseboy prone to fits clambering over his roof, thank you very much. Much chuntering about common sense accompanied by finger jabbing followed. I did consider pulling him up over his use of the word ‘fit’ instead of my preferred ‘episode,’ but one look at his mush convinced me it would be akin to skateboarding off a cliff without a safety helmet and knee pads. All in all I wish I'd never mentioned it. He can be a very grumpy man if you push the wrong button and God knows I sometimes feel my finger is permanently glued to his wrong button.
Christmas was a bit of a mixed bag in its way. We hosted a lot this year, which meant piles of work for me, but then Christmas is one of the busiest times for those of us in the domestic and catering industry. On the whole I pulled things off pretty well, though at one point I felt it was all going to go pear shaped after I got myself in what Shane calls one of my states of ‘mindless fucking hysteria.’ It’s not a description I particularly like. My brain conjures up a rather disturbing image of a vacant eyed houseboy on a frenzied rutting spree attempting to shag anything and everything in sight. Granted, my brain does have a rather strange way of working. I reckon my skull was accidentally fitted with an early prototype whose wiring was found to be erratic and subsequently abandoned.
What Sir Shane means in his own inimitable fashion is that I often lapse into moods of introspection whereby the rational sensible me, and yes, mock ye not, there is one, is replaced by what sounds like the title of a Tim Minchin song - ‘Irrational Emotional Me.’ I might write to him and suggest it as a song title, though I’ll want a cut of the royalties and a mention in the credits.
Anyway, he says, taking a moment to draw breath, IEM got in a stew over this and that. I ended up clashing with Penny, no surprises there then. She and the Muppet spent a week with us over the festive period, arriving on the Saturday before Christmas. He’s okay, I can handle him, but she’s a moo. If I were a cheerleader I’d shake my pom-poms to the tune of B-I-T-C-H every time she put in an appearance.
She gives me no quarter at all. Dick says I give her no quarter either, but I’m sure I’d be more clement to her if she showed even a modicum of tolerance for me.
I lost my rag. I told her to go fuck herself as it might put a smile on her miserable face. I also slung wine in her direction. I regretted my behaviour. I don’t like the woman, but there was no need to be crude and bad mannered. I’m not proud of it. She just winds my key in the wrong direction. I’ve written up the details in two chapters named Frail Daffodils for the Ancient Dead and Fish Tale. Read them now if you wish, or come back to them later. It’s your choice.
I’m beginning to feel quite nauseous and gut achy. Dick’s had this stomach bug that’s been sweeping the nation. I suspect it’s now about to sweep my way. I can feel wind of a non-weather variety beginning to build in the vicinity of my rear porch. I’d better go before it blows like a tornado and sends this friend of Dorothy spinning off to Oz on a computer chair, though if I could guarantee landing on a certain wicked witch it might be worth the experience.
I awoke in the early hours of Saturday morning with the remnants of a weird dream flitting through my mind. I’d been trying to stuff a goose, but it refused to be stuffed, with sage and onion I hasten to add. I wasn’t trying to have ‘unnatural relations’ with it. I’m not into gooseophilia. I don’t know anyone who is, but they’d be easy to spot in a police line-up. They’d be the only suspects covered with peck marks. Geese are vicious, they’d soon fight off any would be assailant The reason the goose refused to be stuffed was apparent to my waking mind. It was still alive, something that hadn’t seemed to compute with my dream self. If I’d had sleeping pills handy I’d have swallowed a couple in order to travel back to slumber land to give the dream me a good slap for being glaikit enough to try and stuff a un-dead bird.
I didn’t have pills though and my mind was too active to return to a state of natural sleep. It was hardly surprising. I had a lot to think about. I lay wakeful going over recipes, dining and party plans. I was nervous about the amount of entertaining to be done over the festive period. Yeah, I’d hosted parties and dinners, but I’d never done the Christmas thing. It was my first real festive responsibility. I spent my first Christmas in the men folks employ alone. It was before we were sexually and emotionally involved. They went to visit Dick’s parents and I claimed to be going to spend the festivities with my mother. I didn’t. I wasn’t invited for a start, though to be fair she didn’t know where I was at that point in time. I hadn’t given her a forwarding address. I doubt she would have asked even if she did know, because she knew I’d refuse. Things were still raw between us then.
I was hoping for an invite to spend the day with my mate Lee’s family, but sadly Christmas was cancelled for them that year because Lee’s maternal grandmother died suddenly the day before Christmas Eve. Understandably festivity was the last thing on their minds. They migrated to her home in Plymouth to help make funeral arrangements and offer comfort to relatives. The following Christmas was spent at Leo’s place and the one after that at Penny’s. This year it was all my show. So it was no wonder my mind was buzzing.
Abandoning the notion of returning to the land of nod I slipped out of bed leaving the men folk to sleep on in peace, or relative peace. Dick was starting a cold and was lightly snoring because his nose was blocked.
Going downstairs I made myself a cup of hot chocolate and took it into the lounge. It was cold and a peek outside revealed a garden robed in garments of sparkling frost. The night sky was breathtaking, studded with twinkling stars enhanced by ice crystal auras.
I put the fire on and switched on the Christmas tree lights, opening the curtains and blinds so I could enjoy the fairy lights reflecting in the dark windowpanes. It looked pretty. I curled up on the sofa sipping my chocolate while admiring the scene.
It felt special and kind of magical to be sitting alone in the quiet of a night illuminated only by fire and tree light.
the houseboy is about to enter preach mode.
Christmastime, regardless of whether or not you believe in the Nativity has an air of spirituality about it that transcends all organised religions. It’s soaked with history, steeped in the creation of the world itself, the light formed in deepest darkness and all the life that came from that light. Christians hijacked the ancient origins of the midwinter festivals, stifling and reshaping them so as to give them a single meaning and focus. I believe it was wrong to do so.
Christmas, or Yule, or whatever you want to call the winter solstice, is so much bigger than that and it belongs to everyone. It shouldn’t only be for those belonging to an exclusive club. We came from nothing and for all we really know we return to nothing. Like stars a human life consists of an expansion of energy followed by an implosion. While we yet glow there exists within us a desire to maintain the light, to keep the darkness and its unknown fears at bay and that’s what the midwinter festivals are about.