"Joseph, he was a macho man"

Lol-taire's picture

KD came over. We ate ox tail and jerk chicken from the take-away, managed to drink between us two bottles of cheap white wine. Stayed up late talking about the history of the world, the history of the future, socialism, human sexuality.

He stayed on the sofa because we stayed up talking half the night. Can't remember anything we said, but we said it with so much conviction.

This morning we carried on the conversation, drank strong tea and now he's gone and I've tidied up the flat. Might go swimming, then I'm off the to art library and the museums with Mal and Turtle.

When I was swimming the other day a prodigious child swimmer was practising in a specially roped off lane. She moved (so fast!) as if the water was incidental- like a insect skimming the surface. It was as if she was made out of a different material to me.

I swam quite slowly. As if the water pulled me forward as much as I moved the water- like we're the same substance mostly.

I was thinking the other day, when I walked down the very bright and sunny road, smelling like perfume and clean hair, my breasts prominent under a yellow sweater. I was thinking the reason some men find me attractive- when I just don't see it at all- is that in the flesh I'm like the sort of fantasy of the governess; the acceptable object of oedipal desire. Like Byron's nanny, you know. I'm so damn bodily. Not at all compact or etherial or androgynous. That unmistakable tendancy toward the maternal- breasts and hips, the little convex stomach, and soft flesh over very strong muscle. Like a Nazi ideal of womanliness. I am the surrogate mother. I seem kind.

Even the infamous and unnamable her said that she was attracted to me because I seemed somehow like a proper woman. She didn't understand when I cut my hair short.

But it's such a facade, because I'm not the mother at all. I'm gay for a start, but also so repressed and frigid. I'm so wracked by self-doubt and self-loathing. And sometimes my mind- far from the bovine contentment of the Nazi supermother- is prickly and sharp. The meat of an arguement makes my teeth sharpen. Even when I can't get hold of my thoughts- if I've been reading all day, or spent too long in a gallery- and I feel saturated with art and ideas, they wriggle like a barrel of eels.

And my face is so often creased and worried looking. Or at least it's like my father's face- severe in repose, slightly sardonic. And my smile is stupid and crooked and makes me uglier. And I wear glasses.
But it's perched on top of this feminine body. This uselessly feminine body.

When I was fatter when I was about 16/17 in Florence one summer, in the Uffizi there was one room in which all the Madonna's looked a bit like me.

But I am, I bloody well might as well be; I'm a portrait of the Virgin Mary.