Crossing The ‘Chanel’ or Up Yours!

Paul’s week had begun and ended in a rather similar fashion – most bizarrely.

The first incident had occurred at a swanky party in Sotogrande, at which ‘The Lola Boys’ had been performing. It had been a roaring success apparently.

The boys had been joined by ‘Burly Chassis,’ ‘Tina Turnoff,’ and ‘Amy Crackhouse’! It had been the first time Paul had clambered into a mini skirt and an overstuffed bra for quite a while. Secretly he found the whole dressing up thing a bit of a drag. He was getting far too old to hide his meat and two veg under a tight pair of knickers and an equally snug pair of nylons.

It was most uncomfortable. Not to mention sweaty.

So on this occasion, Tina et al. had a few more bulges than they’d sported on previous outings. Although Paul hoped ‘Joe Public’ had not spotted anything protruding.

One jolly hockey sticks lady had most definitely not.

For as Paul stood in the kitchen, post-show, coming both down and up, he was approached by a terribly pleasant girl with at least half a pound of plums in her mouth.

‘May I ask you a question?’ she politely said..

‘Of course,’ Paul responded, unaware of the shock that was to follow.

‘Have you had hormone therapy?’ she went on in the best queen’s English.

Paul answered as an English queen,

‘For what?’

‘Well, you know,’ she said, now quiet brazen. She was obviously on that scale!

‘You mean have I …. am I transitioning?’ Paul stuttered on.

‘Yes – of course’

Paul went as white as three sheets to the wind.

‘Which way?’ he asked.

‘Well, obviously – you know …’ she began to falter slightly.

‘Into a woman?’

‘Yes’ the girl said, ‘most definitely.’

This dumb bitch had most definitely not seen the protrudence he had been most concerned about earlier. Nor did she notice that although he was sporting a touch of guy liner he was now dressed quite obviously as a man – and unless he was smuggling a chatter of budgies in his pants, it was more than clear any hormone treatment this strange woman thought he was undergoing, was proving severely ineffective.

‘No’, he heard himself say politely, but he wanted to punch her in her plum-filled gob,

‘I’m rather happy as a man. I just do this for cash. You know – like a cheap hooker’.

He wanted to add ‘Much like you bitch!’ But held back. Besides there was nothing at all cheap about the daft cow and she was so plain she could have caused accidents on the Estepona roundabout. So the insult wouldn’t have worked.

Instead he should have glassed her !

Paul transitioned as quickly as possible to a different conversation and was eventually saved from the ignorant toff by the charming lady of the house.

He had to laugh. In over ten years of dressing up, (and down), he had never ever been asked if he had female genitalia. What a twat!

He and Andrew left the party at 11.30 the following morning, after almost no sleep. The boys returned to pack their bags as they were to leave for England far too bloody early the next morning.

They just about woke and were driven by Csaba, their Hungarian roadie, otherwise known as ‘The Lewis Hamilton of the Costa,’ at speed to Malaga airport.

Their eye-baggage only just meeting weight requirements.

They were to perform in a private show in Cambridgeshire and then head south to the coast to visit family and friends and attend their sisters ‘gallery’ opening.

Luckily there was no-one who mistook Paul for Paula at the next show in the lovely Fulbourn, just a lecterns throw from Cambridge. It had been hard work and a ‘jolly’ all at the same time. Paul was more than aware professional partying could take its toll, especially with such charming and generous hosts.

The only major issue though had been Andrew dropping a leaf-blower onto his face during the charity auction. He’d taken on the job of modelling the prizes, rather like a masculine Debbie Mcgee, working as an assistant to Paul, who had obviously bid for the role of auctioneer. Andrew said he didn’t feel it at the time , doubtless due to the copious amount of methylated spirit he had necked. However, the next day, it was more than obvious he’d been injured by the blow job. His eye was terribly swollen and turning an odd shade of violet by the minute. Indeed it looked like it could blacken in the blink of an eye.

The morning after the show before the boys made their bedroom look less like one in which ‘The Rolling Stones’ may have stayed during some of their wilder years, and they bade goodbye to their hosts.

It was time to take the Brighton line.

They were both tired and slightly ragged but looking forward to what was to come.

It didn’t last long.

A monumental argument erupted on the train, over Andrew feeling he’d been deserted whilst searching for a cheese sandwich in M & S. Paul had told him that he did not have time to make a complicated selection but to just bloody grab and go. When Andrew began looking at labels Paul looked towards the door.

‘I’ll see you on the Platform’ he barked.

They had just eight minutes to make platform eight and Paul had been warned of the journey, which apparently involved a horribly long footbridge.

Paul made the platform. He boarded the train standing by the door, well aware his partner could often be less than premature. There was no sign – Paul was just ready to alight with the luggage when just in time, his husband stumbled down the stairs with copious baggage, including bags of M & S baddies. He clambered onto the train dumping his wares most unceremoniously on the seat next to Paul.

‘Why did you fucking leave me?’ He screamed. ‘I had no ticket – I couldn’t get through’

‘The luggage gate thing was open – that’s how I got through’ Paul snarled, all this in front of a poor American woman seated opposite who looked appalled,

‘Well it wasn’t fucking open when I tried. I had to get this bloke to let me through. Luckily he did. No thanks to you.’

‘Fuck you!’ Paul responded, rummaging through the M & S bag for a chicken and stuffing sandwich.

‘Fuck you!’ Andrew blew.

He rose sharply.

Then petulantly stalked off to another carriage.

A good move thought Paul, as he had been considering blackening his partner’s other eye at any second.

Paul watched as they pulled out of Cambridge Station. He noticed, as they passed the ticket hall on the wrong side of the tracks, that the luggage barrier was still open.

‘Moody bastard Andrew bastard!’ he thought loudly.

But then again, it was true it had been he who had ran off with the tickets!

He loathed missing trains, boats or planes. It had only happened to him once. He was travelling to Amsterdam with Andrew and his sister, Tina. Not only did the three of them miss the first plane’s departure, being bogged down in the duty-free shop, but they also missed the second flight on which the lady from B A had so kindly put them. She was far less kind when she told them not to miss the third flight. They made sure they were onboard – but it was still a close run thing!

Bloody airports – so many distractions!

Paul looked towards the American woman in the train seat opposite. He smiled. She stared back blankly. She looked as though she was possibly in shock.

The boys sat well apart for most of the journey down to Brighton. The weather was sunny – Andrew’s disposition not so. But by the time they had changed trains in hideous ‘East Concrete’ and swigged on a pre-prepared bottle of ‘Bloody Mary,’ supplied by their previous hosts Phil and Amanda, the overhead clouds lifted. They were both looking forward to catching up with the family for the opening of Paul’s sister’s gallery.

Tina had decided to rent an arch under the prom on Brighton beach. Paul and Andrew thought it a great idea to get her work out to people directly, rather than only relying on galleries, which often took more than 50 percent of any art that was purchased. Paul had always thought this a rather high figure. Even the dull agents he’d ‘employed’ in the West End had only taken twelve and a half – and he had thought that sum extravagant. Especially for the little work some of the lazy theatrical gits actually did.

As he and Andrew hit the beach in Brighton the sun’s boater was most definitely on – and he was out to play, and hard. It was absolutely baking.

The beach was pebbled with deckchairs and parasols and scores of sunbathers. The promenade was packed with every form of human being imaginable. And some who, to Paul, were quite unimaginable. He never failed to be surprised by the wonderfully colourful city down on the Sussex coast. It was one of the only towns in the world where one could sit having a posh french meal and have a campsite of junkies just two foot away jacking up.

Hardly appetising.

But the splendour of the place always outweighed it’s seediness. And a little tawdriness wasn’t something to which Paul was entirely averse. Nor Andrew. It often got them into some trouble. But they were never that naughty.

And ’Smack’ and Pork Belly on the same menu were a sure recipe for indigestion! Surely.

For the boys it had been brilliant catching up with their family and old friends who had made their way down to support Tina in her new venture.

The little gallery looked great. Tina’s work had always been vibrant – yet the brilliant location seemed to enhance it’s vitality – perhaps because it was her very own space.

Paul and Andrew were wowed – especially by the wooden entrance doors which Tina had decorated by hand – not a brush in sight.

Quite beautiful !

Before the evening drew to its final close, Paul was slightly dismayed to find Andrew laying on his back snoring and farting inside the arch. He was oblivious to the last of the customers as they stepped across him to peruse Tina’s work and grab a glass of vino.

It was true neither himself or Andrew had achieved much sleep over the last couple of days – but there was a time and a place thought Paul.

Although he had to admit Andrew did look rather handsome, black eyed, huffing and puffing away on the floor, and everyone else thought it cute.

He made a mental note not to tell Andrew that when he woke.

He didn’t want his lover developing narcoleptic tendencies whenever he felt like it. He knew he had the capacity to drift off at the drop of a nightcap already.

Brighton was great fun as per usual – if a little hectic.

The boys had stayed at Paul’s mother’s, with his mum, the fizz left over from Tina’s opening and their Aunty Carol. Aunty Carol was as effervescent as the leftover wine – wonderfully entertaining, yet one could wake with a slight hangover. Paul and Andrew loved her – their were very few people around with such ebullience.

They left the town with heavy hearts and rather heavy stomachs after too many a pub lunch. It felt very sad to leave their peers on the pier – simply because it had been fun carousing through the town with everyone. As familiar as a stick of rock. Yet real life seemed even sweeter. They adored their time in Brighton.

It was always too soon to make a ‘Brixit’!

Paul’s mum drove them to the airport through the back roads of the South Downs. It was enchanting.

Verdantly splendid. Or splendidly verdant. Paul knew he was rather green when it came to such descriptions. He’d never gone to university after all. Just ponced about at Mountview Theatre School, where one was taught drama not grammar,

They were cruising without turbulence until they reached Gatwick and were then informed there was a delay to their flight of at least an hour. Oh well, thought Paul, more time for shopping. Retail therapy at an airport was a terminal illness from which he suffered. He nearly always purchased an unneeded ‘eau de perfum’ to add to the countless bottles he had stored in the bathroom. He had scented it was a habit that did not endear him to his partner – yet he also knew Andrew was partial to a spray or six –  so he could hardly complain.

The boys ‘Miss Moneypenny’, Stella, met them from Gibraltar and they unwisely spent the night getting thoroughly pissed on duty-free ‘Stolly’ on their terrace. Stella left at one-thirty and Paul and Andrew continued to burn the candle at any end it had – high on life. And a little Voddy!

It was two days later when that glorious moment, one sometimes has, of cruising through life on a bubble of contentment was pricked. Or rather punctured. By a squat frenchman with big ears!

‘The Lola Boys’  were performing at a chiringuito called Dieguichi down on a small bay on the Costa Del Sol. A place they loved, with great food and a touch of the mafioso.

Or so they liked to imagine.

Literally just as they arrived to start their pre-show ‘meet and repeat,’ Juan Jose, the owner, called Paul over and asked if he could have a word with a french family who were having a revolution of their own at one of the front tables. Paul went immediately to the family to ask whatever was the matter.

‘Hello, I’m Paul, I’m the better half of The Lola Boys,’ he smooched, he hoped with a twinkle, ‘how lovely to meet you.’

‘If you do not turn off your speaker now  I am going to break it’ came the charming response.

‘I’d rather you didn’t do that,’ Paul said, realising these really were revolting people, ‘I can have you moved.’

‘If you are going to speak to me, speak only in French or Spanish’ the short dick-head continued. Two of the woman at his table looking somewhat mortified. Bullied perhaps!

Paul felt as if he might be decapitated at any moment. There was so much ire coming from across the negotiating table he imagined sorting out ‘Brexit’ would be an easier ask.

‘Bien sur’ replied Paul, and then in near perfect French continued , ‘but if you break my speaker, I will break your head!’

From where he had trawled the future tense of ‘to break’ from his schoolboy french, he was unsure. Perhaps his time with a miserable Parisian lover he’d briefly endured had paid off.  But he’d impressed himself with his latent francophone talent, although obviously not the diminutive, napoleonic git to whom he was speaking.

‘I do not want to move tables. This is our table. I have a problem with my ears.’

Paul took a purposeful moment. He looked very carefully at one of the frenchman’s ears, and then let his mascara-clad eyes stroll laconically across Monsieur Miserable’s ‘eek until it reached the other. Which was equally unattractive. He then said,

‘Oui. Je Vois. Ils sont terribles. Je suis vraiment désolé pour vous ‘

(Translation-ish – ‘Yes. I see. They are terrible. I am truly sorry for you!’)

There was a horrible silence through which the overture of ‘Hello Dolly’ blasted relentlessly. Then the frenchman relented,

‘We move then’ he spat, olive oil and saliva flying from his fat gallic gob into Paul’s visage.

‘I shall go and speak to the waiter to get him to prepare your table’, said Paul, with utter control. He was surprising himself.

‘Thank you darling,’ drawled his cross-channel adversary in a mock camp English accent, dripping with vituperation, as he fluttered his eyelashes sarcastically. It was clear this ‘petit fou’ not only had terribly ugly ears but was ignorant, anti-english and homophobic. Paul’s gut instinct was to tell him to stand up on his short frogs’ legs and ‘Encouler’!

Either that or smack him in the ‘bouche.’

But it wasn’t his establishment.

And he knew the chiringuito would not want to miss out on ‘Le Bill’.

Yet he sensed trouble.

He was quite correct.

As soon as he and Andrew came out to sing their first number, the French number rose to their feet from their new table, just as if the Lola Boys were doing the ‘Marseillaise’. They then made a huge scene of leaving. The whole thing was most unsavoury and tasteless.

Much like ‘L’escargots!’

It took a moment for Paul to gain control as the rabble charged for the exit gates, as if storming the ‘Bastille’, making a very disorganised ‘Frexit.’

Paul noticed that after he’d done a couple of french gags, and Andrew had said something probably less subtle in English, the angry little man was being restrained by three of the waiters just outside the entrance. It was clear he was making a retreat and wanted to come back in and see the show.

Maybe even join it!

Paul made it obvious to the remaining audience from many nations that neither he or his partner were anti-french. Jamais! They both adored the cheese and, of course, the champagne was magnififique.

‘Do we have any other french friends in this evening’ Paul asked. In both languages.

There was no response.

‘Oh well then,’ he said cheekily, ‘Bon Fucking Nuit!’

It got rather a big laugh.

Nobody likes rudeness. From any nationality !

He then gave a salute, one which any frenchman would certainly have recognised, that is had they bothered to look back into recent history before threatening to put heads onto spikes.

The ‘V’ sign.

Or in any language,

Up yours!

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