They Call Me Miss Ross !
Paul closed the front door after making peace with he and Andrew’s upstairs neighbour.
There had just been a slight debacle on their terrace after she had objected to Diana Ross having a diva moment at just before 10pm! Andrew had pointed out that anyone was allowed to play music until midnight!
Especially when it was live from ‘Ceasar’s Palace’!
However, the lady upstairs had not agreed, and it had turned all too quickly into a bilingual slagging match.
Paul wondered if his neighbour was a tad racist. The last time she’d complained, (this time at just after 9pm), he had been listening to Shirley Bassey. Perhaps she wasn’t fond of black, female singers he’d mused. But there was really no excuse to swear over the balcony.
It was most unseemly.
And also showed she had very little taste in music!
During the argument between her and his irate partner, Paul had stepped up to the plate, instead of throwing one for once, and he had politely, but firmly, asked her to meet him outside the front door to discuss the supreme problem. It seemed by far the best idea – and much less common than a scene from an Andalusian version of ’Eastenders’!
Stop in the name of decency Paul had thought.
He had just hugged and made up with their upstairs ’vecino’ and was locking the front door when he heard her step back out onto the terrace. It took him eight steps to cross the room to the balcony where Andrew was still sitting, during which he heard their neighbour apologise – quite magnanimously. Then, as he stepped out onto the verandah, the situation had suddenly reverted into a spirited,
‘Fuck you’-‘No fuck you’ – ‘No fuck you’! All ending with a slightly xenophobic,
‘Why did you even move here?’ from ‘er upstairs, to which Andrew responded,
‘You are invading my space. I don’t want to see your fat face leaning over that balcony again!’
Paul arrived just in time to see his neighbour above retreat sharply – her rotund visage fading into the darkness.
He loathed confrontation.
Yet he knew he and Andrew were not in the wrong.
There had been parties in the valley below all summer which had made the ‘Ministry Of Sound’ akin to a kindergarten. Not to mention the summer school down the road, which seemed to adore a loudspeaker every other minute. Much like an Andaluz version of a Butlins holiday camp.
Or ‘Frederico Pontinso’ perhaps!
The strange noise that drifted up nightly from the establishment for the underprivileged was fairly incessant. And the whole neighbourhood were privileged to hear it regularly. So he knew that a little holiday camp on he and Andrew’s side was certainly not out of order.
They hadn’t even thrown a housewarming yet.
God help her!
A few days later Paul had stepped away from a table of empty beer glasses along the paseo, he couldn’t possibly imagine how so many had been emptied, but then imagined that was the very reason why he couldn’t possibly imagine!
He headed for the little boys room, leaving Andrew in deep discussion with a big South African boy they had met a couple of hours earlier.
He was one of those people one would describe as an acquaintance, rather than a friend – one of those types with whom one didn’t want to become over-acquainted. It later transpired why that had been a good idea in the first place. For as Paul returned to the table, the enraged Springbok was banging his immature fist on the table, in King Kong fashion, and raging at Andrew.
‘Not again’ thought Paul. Could he not leave his husband for two minutes without returning to a heated debate? Which, doubtless, he would need to extinguish!
The big African stood up in a rather aggressive fashion and bashed another dumb fist onto the table professing his intention to leave.
‘Great idea,’ Paul said, ‘I don’t think that kind of behaviour is called for.’
Andrew wisely stayed silent and snarled as the superannuated adolescencent marched petulantly away.
‘Arsehole’ he spat.
‘What the buggery bollocks was that about Andrew?’
‘He’s a dickhead’ Andrew continued.
After his partner explained how the conversation had become so incandescent, Paul knew immediately that it had not been Andrew reactlng unduly, rather another idiotic gossip-monger plying their loquacious trade. Full of bullshit!
They had both had it up to their eyeballs with the amount of ‘fish-wifery’ which had surrounded them of late.
From all sexes!
Chinese whispers and parochial prattling had made them seriously consider their future in their current surroundings. And an over-testosteroned Durbanite banging publicly on public house furniture did nothing to alter their reasoning.
They had almost had enough.
A couple more days and the decision was well and truly made. As Andrew made his way back from what had begun as a power-walk, he stopped off in a local bar for some rehydration. Not having readies on him he was generously given a tab only to notice a local tradesman he recognised sitting in the corner.
‘Don’t worry’, he assured the landlady loudly, ‘he owes me seventy quid,’ gesticulating towards the unsuspecting culprit.
‘I finished that job for you’ the ‘oik replied.
‘No you didn’t’ said Andrew, remembering the episode all too distinctly.
‘It was fuckin’ eleven years ago,’ the plumber/builder/wanker shouted back.
‘So?’ said Andrew with drunken amusement. His victim, the con man who had not returned to complete a job for the boys at their show-bar, (admittedly about ten years before), did not look so amused.
He rose sharply to exit and with a pathetic macho swagger he snarled abuse into Andrew’s ear as he was leaving.
Andrew had told Paul the story in detail on his return home. And repeated the exact charming phrase.
‘He told me to keep my mouth shut and called me a shit-stabbing cunt!’, he said.
‘Oh’ Paul had replied’ I’ve never heard that expression. He’s no doubt right! But how rude!’
Not to mention a touch homophobic Paul had also thought.
But he was never one to make a big deal out of that. The lad probably didn’t even mean it that way. His schooling had obviously been somewhat rudimentary.
Paul was glad he had been absent for the latest of Andrew’s dramas. But he knew the cast and the setting well so he could imagine the unpleasantness. He considered packing some pepper spray into his combats on their next sojourn into town.
Just in case!
He’d had enough of thugs, fishwives and fried fish! He was starting to yearn for another adventure. A different challenge before he and Andrew became drawn, drained, desiccated and drunk. It was all too easy to settle into a life on the ‘Costa Del Crime’ that was criminal in itself.
At least with regard to one’s organs!
The boys had decided that was not meant to be their life-sentence. It was time to plan an escape route.
Paul adored a map – and the thought of charting his and Andrew’s next heading made him bubble over. They had been far too still for far too long – it was time to put some effervescence back into their lives – or how could they tell if they were alive or not?
Paul was aware he’d become maudlin and slightly pretentious. It was yet another nail in the coffin for he and Andrew’s boxed-in existence. They, just like Freddie, wanted to break free. Either that – or become killer queens! The former seemed, to Paul at least, the more sensible option! He would rather, after all, write sentences than be given one!
An early Halloween gig took them to Gibraltar.
Andrew crooned whilst Paul tarted around the decks of the ‘Sunborn’ – they fell into their cabin at some point during the early hours, exhausted by their performance. Paul wondered, as he sprawled on top of the covers, how they had ever managed eight shows a week in the legitimate theatre. But then he imagined illegitimacy made one more tired. It was, after all, much harder to constantly prove oneself. And not only did he have to concern himself with the act, but sometimes the cuisine! Many a time a member of their audience would complain to him about the food they were swallowing – even though he hadn’t bloody cooked it!
Luckily this was not an issue onboard the Gibraltar ‘Super Yacht.’ The staffing and the stuffing had been exemplary.
After breakfast they struggled with their titanic speakers down the gangplank onto the cobblestones of ‘Ocean Village’. This was the least glamorous part of the job. Invariably they were always caught by a punter.
And the residue of Paul’s guy liner slipping it’s moorings and running down his tired old ‘eek!
This morning was no exception. They met quite a few of the previous night’s crowd – all very complimentary. But some looking a little shocked at the state of the pair.
‘We had a fantastic time. Thank you,’ had been one of the quotes.
‘You were both obviously very talented once!’
‘How kind,’ Paul had replied. He knew what the guy meant! There was a compliment to see somewhere – if one squinted hard enough through the stale mascara.
On arrival home, Paul sat on the terrace – make-up free. He looked towards the Mediterranean and the shores of North Africa and hit the play button on his iPad. An old ‘Supremes’ number shuffled on. He imagined he heard some shuffling from the balcony above. Surely not again he thought – it’s only 6pm.
He looked to the iPad wondering if he should press pause.
Then he had second thoughts.
Actually, he had had a hard day. And a harder day’s night.
There was nothing for it but to pump up the volume!
He closed his eyes, resisted the urge to check if he was in trouble or not. And pumped up the volume.
Diva behaviour he knew.
Sing out Miss Ross.
While you still can!