Sunday, 17 July 2011


It worried me, the similarity, because this ‘personal interest’ factor interferes with my plans, yet in some obscure, cruel way, validates them. I mean, here it goes, this is the awful truth: 

You sit around, more or less miserable and incapacitated, absorbed by your own genius and what a ruination it makes of your life in any way that matters according to everyone else, and even to you, mostly, captured by solitude and living in dreams or nightmares and for so long now you can’t tell the difference and hardly care, watching the dust fall and the moths twang about, never cleaning your cooker or anything else, and only just about getting out of your twilight realm for a leg-wax, and writing a novel about a man who writes misogynistic horror novels in a cellar, because he can’t face the light of day or his mother, because that is what YOU are, and his love for his muse who is his ideal victim, because knocking around in cellars with arty misogynists who can’t bear to kill you is what you mainly think of when you’re not thinking about butterflies and little white clovers, and THEN, out of the blue, you stumble across Deadgirl and happily watch the thing, because it’s practically a blueprint of your novel anyway, and probably of your life on as many levels as is possible to realize, and then you watch it again, and again, and AGAIN, and somehow or other you fail to notice, with all this watching and identifying and general bliss at recognition and empathy and finally being understood, that the hero of the film bears a remarkable – in fact an almost exact – physical similarity to the very person you based the novel on and are in fact still completely in love with even though you’ve not seen him for two years. Not that Time has relevance. That one tiny little fascinating and formidable detail escaped your notice did it? Did it? Hell it did.
‘Thing is, Poppy - no, Grace, I’ll do your Tarot cards in a minute - I think I didn’t notice this because Jay Tee is too similar to me, and the problem with the er, other one was that he bore no resemblance to me whatsoever. He wasn’t interested in any of the cellar stuff and the world of divine horror I’ve got dreamt up round here, well, not as a real vote, just as a ‘leisure activity’, like drugs or whores or parking tickets. He was – shall we say – not a disciple; in fact he was more like JoAnn if he bears a resemblance to any of the people in that movie. But you can see my trouble now. What looked like a pure identification with personality and character – and value system – now looks like the turgid repetition of some morbid crush on some empty aristo with floppy hair. Noah is far too good for that sort of thing, he’s not a love object, he’s someone I could actually talk to. He’s too intelligent to be dehumanised like this, precisely why I didn’t objectify him to begin with, nor did it occur to me to do so. I’ve never considered him in this humiliating regard, and now I have to. It’s bloody irritating, like some infernal curse coming true over and over, like the Oedipus complex or something, in fact very like Oedipus. I’ll never be able to write to him now. I’ll just get tongue-tied, suspicious of myself, self-conscious. It is so fucking annoying. We were getting on so well. And he’s an intellectual, probably would be quite keen on reading my views on Deadgirl, but all that’s over now, if he’s just a stand-in for some mediocre charlatan with the pointless, brainless beauty of a poisonous vetchling - even you admitted that stupidity was harmful - and NOT the powerhouse of subversion and tortured genius we wanted him for in the first place. Now we all have our time wasted. Frailty, thy name is woman, is all I can say. God gave you an example of bona fide brilliance and you turn the whole thing into some pin-up poster for a petal long fallen. And lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.’
Poppy told me to stop worrying: ‘get Noah to collaborate with you on the script of The Dark Game, star in it, direct it, and model for you since he looks so like Lucian or Mendel or whoever it is anyway (you can play Matilda), and do it NOW, since you’ll be another five years writing the novel, given the quality of the writing and the momentous nature of all these people sitting around brooding and wondering what to do, analysing Cranach paintings, checking grammar, doing hand-embroidered facsimiles of Durer’s Melancholia’ – ‘and illustrating it,’ piped up Grace, ‘that’ll add on another three years’ – ‘so bring the movie out first, get Trent to help you. I like the name Trent,’ and went off to do things in the kitchen, whereupon I told Grace about Deadgirl, with a plan to watch the movie later, something that failed to happen because I had to read her the whole of Eloise and she had to write four essays, mainly about ME. Heres one of them:

After all that, I thought I’d better crack on anyway. The truth is dismal – the truth is shocking – but – maybe it isn’t. Maybe, there’s a reason for all this. After all, I myself don’t look like the demonic creature I am either – nor does Grace, who appears to be an incredibly cute nine year old with lovely hair and a dear little face, but if we could see her soul it would be bleeding from weird wounds and utterly psychotic, as she herself registers – so all of us can get away with charming looks and manipulative aesthetics if we wanted to. We could exploit our God-given advantages if we wanted to. People could think us good and sweet and innocent, were it not for the fact that crushing, irresistible, coruscating, chthonic talent refuses to bed down with the silver bells and cockleshells and MUST BE HEARD. In which case, it’s just an accident of birth, not the point, or at least not the point of concentration, save that both Noah and I have defeated and contravened our basic prettiness to such an extent that it’s almost impossible to even notice these things, most of the time. And anyway, Andy, The Fantastic Academic’s immediate remark when I sent him a picture of Noah at an award ceremony was ‘he has an interestingly sinister face,’ so, NOT, ‘he looks like a sweet little flower,’ or ‘not another one of your boring pretty boys, give it a rest.’ We’re safe then, because Andy is wrong about nothing, and Noah looks satisfyingly enough like a serial killer for me to stop feeling anxious. We can consider the oddly amorous leit-motif in another way, surely. And in our own time. We have plenty of that.

So… BITE. I once called a girl I had a fling with ‘a flower with teeth,’ and she said this was ‘the nicest thing anyone had ever said to (her)’ (sic). But it’s easy for me, to come up with good lines, and if I’d been born a man I would have little trouble with romance, none at all in fact. Grace thinks I still don’t have any trouble: ‘you’re beautiful, you do etchings, which is more important, and you’re intelligent. Just go down the pub and grab a cute one.’ I felt like saying, ‘there are certain provisos: the cellar, for one thing, and charisma. I just can’t be fagged with yet another lame doll who can’t talk properly. It’s too depressing, and besides men hate intelligent women,’ but I didn’t. There seemed little point. I mean where does one begin? I have to say I wasn’t too gloomy around Grace. She cheers me up really, and just laughs when I threaten her with being tied up or having to stand in the corner with a dunce’s cap on her head; in fact she’s only too willing to get tortured which puts me off my stride somewhat. Poppy meanwhile, cleaned my kitchen. I am still so gobsmacked by this I can barely speak. She had to remove what must be, what I know to be, YEARS of dried-out, gummed down, burnt-in and solidified cooked food from the surface of the cooker – I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking she worked as hard as Jay Tee did to prise open that door in Deadgirl, which had rusted shut, and you’d be right - it looked like a sty – and years of grease from the oven – and she did all sorts of other things as well – wiped down the sides – washed everything up – cleaned the blender - that’ll be useful - wiped down even the doorway – the place is transformed, even generically transformed, as I told her. It was a horror story, now it’s charming and rustic, with lovely yellow walls and herbs in hand-painted terracotta pots, dinky little Mexican tiles – you can see all this now, now that the dirt and the drab has been mopped away.

What THAT means is that gradually people will come to visit. Gradually I will tidy up my bedroom and hoover and hang things up and clean the skirting boards and shoo away the spiders. Gradually I will get accepted into polite society and my flat won’t look like a neglected dungeon any more but a beautiful bijoux indoor garden of delectable colour and flowers. I’ll be artistic and interesting and not a lost God from the burning ulcers of Dante’s Inferno. When that happens, someone else will have to play my role. I am crying now, losing my rightful position as The Dark King, what I was born to be, always meant to be. It’s not fair. But ‘everybody’s gotta learn sometime.’

Or do they. Surely NOT? Surely the point is as it ever was, the marriage of Heaven and Hell, not this upstairs downstairs world above world below, either pretty pictures, or death in the cellar, but both? Do I have to keep saying this over and over? Why does no one listen to me? ‘Listen to me, please, listen to me, just for once, for once pay me some fucking attention, please,’ cries Rickie, desperate, drooling with lust and frustration. Then he has to apologise, because that’s all just too hands on, too loud and visceral and true - too dark, too unusual, too experimental, too brilliant - which is what agents say about my novel, and I quote - for the nice girl with her nice hair and nice life and nice boyfriend and nice legs (though nowhere near as nice as mine are): ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.’ Is the whole world just made up of JoAnn Skinner clones? Is this what we have to put up with?

If it is, I am not moving. I am staying here with the rats and the rabid, and about to read Let’s Go Play at the Adams’ (again) for further clues about what I plan to do with the next bloke who comes my way, because all that sensitive romantic stuff just bores me stupid. And, just in case you were thinking, the flowers don’t like it either. They get really annoyed when I deny them their screaming status. They’re totally sado-masochistic, what do you think creation itself IS? Peaceful?

This is Deadnettle but could just as easily be called Deadgirl, as should be obvious but I know won’t be.


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