Tuesday, 3 February 2015
On Monday evening I’m leaving my flat to go to the gym and I’m at the stage where I’m holding my bike, I’ve put my headphones in, started my music and pressed the button for the lift. This is a daring move on my part, because I don’t want to be rude and usually wait to start the music until after I’ve exited the main entrance of the building downstairs, just in case I come across a neighbour inside the building and they happen to say hello or make any other conversation and I miss it because I’m listening to some song. Of course the one time when I have taken my chances and started playing my music immediately upon exiting my flat, my next-door neighbour opens her door, shouts my name and comes out. I don’t know if there’s a facial expression when your heart sinks, but if there is, I’m wearing it right now. I stop the music and courteously pull one headphone out.
My next-door neighbour is holding a joint but she quickly puts it out using her finger, which is highly alarming and indicates that this woman is not fazed by fire, so I can’t imagine that my mildly annoyed glare will have any greater effect. Now, I have spoken about my next-door neighbour before. I don’t actually speak to my next-door neighbour; I just listen. I did contribute to the conversation one time and that one time I asked her please not to mention Greece every time she crosses my path, because I don’t like Greece, I haven’t lived in Greece since 1998, and it’s really pissing me off when she mentions Greece.
“I wanted to ask to ask you, what did you think of the Greek election?” she asks, grinning like a loon.
I look over at the lift door automatically closing behind me, shutting away my only escape route, breathe out a heavy sigh and say, “What election?”
This is a semi-genuine question, because I suppose I knew there was an election in Greece at some point recently, but only because my sister called me and said that she thought one of the candidates was attractive, then I looked him up and he wasn’t. I don’t know if I can provide that as an informed view of the political developments in Greece, so I feign ignorance.
The neighbour goes on to explain that there was a recent election for President or Prime Minister in Greece, “whatever we have over there”, and the party that got elected will stick it to Europe (they’ll say “fuck you” to Europe, she says) and will fight for their independence and they’re badass motherfuckers and won’t put up with all the debt shit anymore. Haven’t I heard?
I shake my head to indicate that I haven’t.
She continues for a bit and tells me how proud she is of the Greeks for voting for independence and then she performs a little Greek dance to demonstrate her solidarity, an act that involves her raising her arms to the sides and clicking her fingers whilst doing a few steps of something that approximates what she might have seen in a movie, right there in our building corridor.
At that point, as an instinctive reaction, I drop my bike sideways on the floor. This may have been involuntary, but it serves as a survival technique, because it interrupts her delirium and gives me an out. She swiftly moves on from performing the dance of Zorba The Greek to leaning over my bike and mock-stroking its handles, whispering “poor bike, you’re not hurt, are you?” as I maniacally press the button for the lift again, which comes just in time when I’ve picked up the bike and I’m ready to go.
As the lift door closes once again with me inside this time, I hear her shout in perfect clarity: “Of course you don’t know anything about the Greek election, you English, you”, her tone dripping in mockery.
I ride four miles to the gym, work out chest and biceps, first next to a very hot homophobic bro who moves away after one set when I approach him to work in with him, then next to a very hot bi/curious bro who approaches me to work in with me as soon as the first bro leaves, and ride four miles back home, listening to my iPod on shuffle which brings up the following sequence of songs: Liar by Henry Rollins, Say My Name by Destiny’s Child, Mistaken For Strangers by The National, a live version of Declare Independence by Björk, Denis by Blondie, and Seeing Other People by Belle And Sebastian.
When I get home, I exit the lift and unlock my front door as quietly as I can.
Friday, 26 December 2014
On Thursday evening I go to the gym to do shoulders and there’s a boy that’s there, whom I’ve seen maybe three or four times now, always in the evening, always with a friend of his (invisible) and the thing about this boy, who cannot be any older than 19, maybe 20, is that he’s tall and blond, and has a toned body, fine, but he also has a pair of blue eyes that have that effect on me where if they catch mine, my heart stops for a moment and I have to take a second to remember a) where I am and b) what I am doing. This is not an effect to be taken lightly and it takes a very particular shade of blue for it to happen. The fact that his eyes look like they’ve witnessed an impossible tragedy, quite possibly a genocide, and will never recover only adds to it. So because this feeling that I get when I look at him in the eyes is very, very disturbing, but also very exhilarating, I can’t help but to seek it out. And I keep staring at him. Because I keep staring at him, he tends to look back, and to cut a long story short, when this boy is in the gym, nothing really gets done. Not that I want anything from this boy, other than to occasionally get the electric shock he seems to be able to readily inflict on my nervous system.
Now, apart from my own personal fetish for arctic blue eyes that reflect centuries of endless sorrow, this boy is also overwhelmingly good looking objectively. And I stand there and look at him and keep thinking of the time when it will all come together in four or five years from now and he’s turned into an actual god, and how he will deal with his life then, a life where everyone around him will be falling over themselves to make things easy for him and get close to him and take advantage for him, generally a life in the bubble that those extraordinarily good looking people live in and the rest of us will never experience.
Then I go home and my friend KT comes over and helps me pack for a trip that I’m taking the following day.
The following a day I take a taxi to the airport and get on a long flight to somewhere that used to be home and for the first half of this flight I do some work and write some things and then I get bored of that and decide to watch a movie. I am terrible at watching movies or even TV, actually, because, well, they have actors in them. The first movie that I choose to watch is called Sex Tape and it starts Cameron Diaz and the tall, out-of-shape guy from How I Met Your Mother who seems to have lost a lot of weight and still has a terrible body, but now also a sickly, sunken face on top of it. Cameron Diaz narrates the beginning of the movie and at some point very early on she says “…for Jake and I, the next few months…” and I immediately press stop and stop watching it. “FOR JAKE AND I.”
This happens in the sixth minute of the movie, but even then I feel like I’ve given it enough of a chance and there’s no way it won’t make me kill myself if I continue to watch. Then I decide that this was my fault anyway for choosing to watch a dumb sexed up comedy with Cameron Diaz, and decide to go with something more highbrow, and in this case and the limited selection we have on this plane, is the movie The Hundred-Foot Journey, which stars Helen Mirren, so it must be the cerebral choice. It also stars a series of unknown Indian actors, because it’s all about prejudice, integration, cultural assimilation and the surprising enormity of the human spirit, and I don’t have to tell you again, I come into this with really, really high hopes.
Then in the second scene about ten minutes in a young Indian man with purposefully sad eyes that don’t exhibit even one millionth of the sorrow my blond gym boy can convey without a director, an assistant director and two acting coaches showing him how to do it, stands in front of an official at some airport immigration desk and claims that he’s moving into the country (France, I believe) because he wants to become and a cook and then the following exchange happens:
Immigration officer:” And you’re planning to stay in Europe…as a cook?”
Young Indian: “Oh yes”
“You have qualifications?”
“Yes. My mother taught me.”
“But no proof on paper?”
Then the India immigrant says, “Only greaseproof paper”, and hands the immigration officer a samosa. A fucking samosa.
Then I press stop again and don’t watch anything apart from the back of the seat in front of me for the following four and a half hours.
In London I do some family memes, but most importantly I have a talk with my Mum and during this talk, which I initiate, I ask, Mum, what’s Dad’s deal? Ever since I came out to him he talks to me as normal and he keeps telling me that he loves me, but he never mentions me being gay and he’s definitely not showing any real signs of acceptance, just signs that he’s going to be the bigger person and still keep me in his life, despite me now being the equivalent of an infant serial killer. Then my Mum tells me that perhaps on this surface my Dad has accepted me, but she knows how difficult it is for him to really come to terms with it, let alone properly acknowledge it, “this thing that I have”, at which point I interrupt her and ask her to call my thing by its name, say that I’m gay, which she does very reluctantly, but still it’s a small victory and I’ll take it.
Then my Mum continues to say that Dad grew up and still lives in an environment where no gay people exist and, in fact, being gay is just a joke that people use to put down others and all my Dad’s friends casually throw around gay slurs all the time. Then I tell my Mum that I would ideally like to be part of a family where my parents have my back when things like that happen and they stand up to people and, you know what, if I had to deal with all this discrimination and insults all my life while I was growing up, I would like my parents to be on my side, now that I’ve told them, and fight the fights that I have been fighting all this time too. Because, you know, I feel kinda alone, still.
Then my Mum says that she knows I must be feeling alone, and because nothing is really going to change from the side of my Dad, I must focus all my energy and attention on finding a boyfriend that will spend all his time with me and, you know what, that’s my best option if I want to stop feeling alone. I spend a few minutes trying to explain to her that this is terrible, terrible advice and having a partner that I will leech on to will not make me feel less isolated from my parents, those are two completely different needs, but I don’t know that this sinks in and nothing’s going to change anyway, so we wrap this up and go out to the Gant store where I buy five shirts (two plaid ones in green/blue and maroon/green/white, and three blue oxford shirts of which I already have a dozen) and two thin fabric striped belts.
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Here is a list of my top 30 favourite songs of the year:
Here is a list of my top 30 favourite songs of the year:
(oh and here's a Spotify playlist for them, but they are in ranked order, so it plays quite schizophrenic)
This is a song about pretending to be into somebody, because you want, say, to really take advantage of them, and you emotionally abuse them because that is the only way you know how to behave through the immense self-loathing that your own refusal to accept your sexuality has caused you, leaving you terminally and irreversibly damaged and unable ever to connect with another human being or let anyone in.
This is a song about breaking up with your partner while still staying at their place, then seeing them out and refusing to acknowledge them even by saying hello, but then suddenly becoming very, very friendly towards the end of the night, because you’re realising that the only way to get back home for free is by faking an interest in them all of a sudden, despite having spent the evening making out with random people in different areas of the bar/club, since you’ve still got your partner wrapped around your finger and they will pay the fare for the taxi home you have manipulated them into sharing with you, then getting home and stopping to talk to them again, because you’ve broken up, all right, which part of this don’t they get?
This is a song about pretending to be a masc musc bro by wearing Nike and backward hats exclusively, so much so that they seem glued to your stupid forehead, but in fact treating life and everyone around you with such cowardice, callousness and lack of respect that your objectively formidable physical presence becomes a parody of masculinity, not to mention the most ironic physical vs. spiritual juxtaposition the planet has seen since the diminutive Napoleon Bonaparte decided to take over the world (but in reverse)
This is a song about lemonade luh luh lemonade
This is a song about getting some sort of weird pleasure from always pursuing relationships that can only end in disappointment, which can range from just minor heartache to life-crushing devastation that leaves you on your knees unable to face the world around you, because you exclusively focus on dumb, hollow criteria in choosing your partners, like the colour of their eyes, circumference of ass, height in centimetres because inches don’t provide the level of detail you require and you are very specific about height, and you are using those criteria presumably to cover for your own unsurpassable insecurities and lack of self-esteem, which must stem from never receiving the love you needed as a child, even though looking back it seemed like a decent enough upbringing, but what do you possibly know about the beatings your poor subconscious was taking in that affluent suburb of Athens in 1989?
6. Go – Grimes
18. Alliyah – Katy B
22. Doubt - Kele
23. Hard – Sophie
27. Thievery – Arca
As you may notice this is just a remix of the number 1 song above (which is, in fact, the best song of the year) and this remix takes one key line of the original song (I'm not going to tell you what it is, you have to listen to it) and repeats it on a loop TWENTY TIMES at some point until you nearly get a headache, which now makes this a song about moving on and being happy and leading your fortunate, blessed little life where you don't have any real problems and everything goes your way and you'd really have to be a little bitch to keep complaining, so in fact you don't, and you admit that you're actually happy and content and looking forward to everything that 2015 has to offer.
Here is a list of my top 15 favourite albums of the year:
1. Caribou – Our Love
2. Chet Faker – Built On Glass
3. Lykke Li – I Never Learn
4. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
5. Royksopp – The Inevitable End
6. Morrissey – World Peace Is None Of Your Business
7. Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Wanderlust
8. Jessie Ware – Tough Love
9. How To Dress Well – What Is This Heart?
10. GusGus – Mexico
11. Sam Hunt – Montevallo
12. Kele – Trick
13. First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
14. SBTRKT – Wonder Where We Land
15. Ryan Hemsworth – Walk Me Home
And there we have it, the (musical) review of the year.
And there we have it, the (musical) review of the year.
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
On Monday night I go to the gym, where I’m supposed to work out my shoulders and back, but mainly my shoulders, because they have been a weak point for a very long time and it’s getting really embarrassing. I’m doing a set of new exercises that I’ve never done before and this really stressing me out, making me walk around the gym looking lost, holding an iPhone up that’s playing fitness YouTube videos, trying to make sense of it all.
For my first exercise, which somebody somewhere named standing barbell military press, I need a barbell. There’s one barbell on an incline bench nearby, so I walk over to it and start picking it up. Then some guy comes back and tells me that he’s still using it. Then I stand there again more lost, but now also disappointed. Then I notice that my straight gym crush who’s using a different barbell on a different incline bench right next to me is trying to make cautious eye contact and catch my attention, but in a very tentative way, plus I’m wearing headphones and he can’t really talk to me.
This seems like it goes on for an eternity if the feeling in my lower abdomen is anything to go by, but in human time and space terms it’s probably only 2-3 seconds before he actually opens his mouth, I remove my left headphone and he asks me to spot him for one last set, and then I can have the barbell if that’s what I’m looking for. This is exactly what I’m looking for and a little bit more, so I mumble “sure” and I go stand behind him as he's doing one last set of incline chest press while I breathe in each time he exhales in agony in the general direction of my face.
My straight gym crush is about 6’3” tall, has very short, light brown hair and an outdoor tan, the face of a G.I. Joe action figure but with hesitant eyes, and a tight, muscular, yet lean upper body. He also has really big, strong legs, perhaps more muscular than his upper body, which is pretty much my favourite thing anyone can have, and I assign this to him playing some particular, highly imaginary sport that mainly utilises lower body strength, even though my friend TN says that I’m just making this up because I want this guy to be a masc jock who kills it at sports, but it’s just probably the way he’s built.
For this exercise he was going for six reps, he said, but he only manages five, with my assistance only needed for the last one. We quickly recover from this highly sexual activity (in my head only, but still) by removing the weights from the barbell together.
“How many do you want on?” he asks.
“None of them”, I say.
He takes one side and I take the other, and he really doesn’t have to do that, so I stutter “thank you” and “thank you so much” an inordinate amount of times, as he goes between the barbell and the weight rack.
Then we’re done and I’m about to remove the barbell and take it away and he walks up to me one last time with a face that hasn’t shown any expression throughout our interaction apart from physical strain as he was doing his exercise, offers his hand for a fist bump, which I incompetently return, and says:
I die a few deaths inside, and continue with my workout, both ecstatic and also devastated, in the way that you would feel if you knew you had just been touched by the hand of God…via a fist bump…while he called you “boss”, but having no way to tell if the experience will ever be repeated, or if that right there was your life peaking and you’re now faced with slow, excruciating drudgery until you finally expire thirty or forty years from now.
Later in the evening, I’m home alone and trying to pull myself away from refreshing Facebook and go to bed. It’s minutes before midnight.
I hear a knock on the door, and of course I know it’s my next-door neighbour (more about whom can be foundhere) and I seriously consider not answering, but she knocks again, more fervently this time, and I know this is just not going to go away.
I open the door and she storms in holding a candlestick. I am not making any of this up. She’s sorry she had to bother me, she says, unclear whether she’s more or less sorry compared to the other five times she did in the last couple of weeks with an urgent story of low-stake apartment building warfare somehow connected to her self-assigned role as neighbourhood watch official, but something really disturbing is happening and she needs my help.
I almost say, “what is it”, but in reality this is not a discussion where my input is needed, she can continue the dialogue for both of us just taking minor cues from my facial expressions or stance: half a raised eyebrow here, a minor shift of my eyeballs there, blinking, shifting the weight between my legs as I stand there otherwise inanimate, it all counts as my part of the conversation.
This time she tells me that she’s heard some noises and wants me to go investigate the apartment downstairs from hers, because she thinks someone is getting murdered very quietly, or having violent sex very quietly, both of which she thinks she can help with. I say no. She says, fine, if she goes downstairs and someone is getting murdered and she gets caught up herself I will have it on my conscience, and my silence must indicate that I’m fine with that, because she leaves, candlestick in hand and heads down the corridor.
Wednesday, 29 October 2014
You know when you’re born in a certain country and for some reason you have a massive issue with it and your only saving grace is that you don’t look typically like the rest of the population and you spend your early years, from ages six onwards, really, fantasising that you’re from somewhere else and were kidnapped as a young child and were brought there, then try to culturally appropriate other nations, starting with France, then the UK, then America, until you find yourself at 34 living 7,000 miles away from where you were brought up, with a different passport, a different name, a fake accent and not having spoken to person who grew up with the same mother tongue as you since 1997?
I have now received the results of the DNA test I recently did to discover my genetic / national ancestry. If we remember, I just wanted to have some Northern European DNA in me. I wanted to have some proof that I’d been adopted, and I wanted some explanation as to why I have blue eyes and pale skin and I’m not hirsute in a Middle Eastern way. I’m afraid I aimed too high. I’m afraid that I am, genetically speaking, the most Greek person that has ever lived on the planet. I’m afraid that my results are these:
I am only 0.5% “Broadly Northern European”. I am ready to die.
I am 74.3% Balkan (the peninsula where Greece is located) which is a pretty massive percentage, really fucking homogeneous, and a real shock result in a day and age where everyone is a mix of something. Not I. My ancestors appear to have only fucked people within a 10-mile radius and that’s about it. A further 12.9% of me is “Broadly Southern European” (which really means that they couldn’t identify which part of Greece that 12.9% comes from, let’s be honest) and there is also a 10.9% Italian, which I’m choosing to ignore because it’s only causing me to vomit uncontrollably.
Now, of course if I have to try to find a way to spin this, and I’m gonna, I can latch on to the modern Greek delusion that Ancient Greeks were fair, blond, and blue-eyed, and that the reason why Greeks look like they do now is a result of ethnic mixing with other (inferior) populations, and in particular Turks, who occupied Greece for 400 years, after all, and we’re pretty sure were fucking everyone left, right, and centre during that time. (I wouldn’t, because I’d rather die celibate than have sex with a Greek person, but those guys were weird).
Now, following on from this completely flawed logic (why would a population located in such a warm, Mediterranean climate be “fair”, for what is skin colour genetically, really, other than a reaction to the elements where the population is based?) and in coordination with my DNA results above (where I have 0% ancestry in the Middle East [Turkey], or any other ethnic population whatsoever, for that matter) there is just one conclusion I can reach. I am a purebred great descendent of Alexander The Great. The imaginary, blond one.
Is this better than being Northern European as I was desperately hoping? Definitely not. Is it better than being a genetic outcome of half a millennium of Turkish occupation? Probably yes. Will I use the sperm of whatever 6’1”+, blond, blue eyed partner I eventually get married to instead of mine to impregnate our surrogate, in order to forever banish my Greek DNA and avoid playing lottery with the eye colour of our children? Yes, yes, I will.
Thursday, 16 October 2014
The Independent did publish a review of my book in the end. Do you think they will mind if I copy the review here? Who can tell.
Will this make you buy the book? Probably not. It did make my Mum really happy and really proud though. Thanks, Independent.
And it made me happy, because it called me both highly intelligent and psychologically damaged in the same sentence. Who doesn't want that?
It also prompted my main boy TN to advise me that unfortunately if I want to sell any books, I probably have to write a novel filled with gay sex. Maybe he’s right. Maybe I will.
In the meantime here’s the review online and here it is copied and pasted below if clicking on that link is too much hard work.
Highlights of My Last Regret by North Morgan, book review: A Romeo and Juliet for the 21st century
The author has revealed that Parke is Maine’s son, though this works emotionally rather than temporally. It is business as usual in Morganland: high intelligence, deep self-loathing, and psychic damage combine in a dark morality tale.
Like Maine, Parke holds down a job though he doesn’t need the money. A freelance games designer, he mainly sends clever emails to similarly embittered members of staff, and conducts low-level warfare against the new boss. “Oh how we loathe this guy. Theo Rothchild. No, not Rothschild, like the banking family … Never has a glorified middle manager originally from fucking Minnesota carried oneself [sic] around with such ceremony before.”
A series of wonderfully funny and appalling characters wander through this short novel. There’s Parke’s best friend Markus, who “looks like a crazed Nazi homosexual”. “Moneyed apathetic sociopaths … Markus has been my case study for that demographic throughout my life.” Perennially drug-addled, Markus’s attempts to look after Frost, his new pedigree kitten, are as alarming as they are funny.
Dumping Ryan, Parke decamps to Coachella (deliciously described). Ryan’s pathetic attempts to monitor him via social media and texting make painful reading; I can’t recall a more devastating account of female neediness. For Ryan no capitulation is abject enough in return for male attention. But does she deserve rapey Parke? The story lurches to a halt with a shock ending which underlines the idea that Parke and Ryan are a Romeo and Juliet for the 21st century, where narcissism, solipsism and self-delusion have eroded the romantic ideal of love.
Despite being cold, snobbish and softly cruel, somehow, through his witty narration, Parke remains likeable. His vicious dismissals of Ryan’s family are hilarious, but the true satiric bite occurs when her brother turns on him. For once we get a glimpse of Parke from the outside, and it’s not pretty. This feels slightly less worked-out than his fine debut, Exit Through the Wound, but Morgan’s prose is as glitteringly alluring as before.
You can buy the book here
Kindle in the US (out now)
Kindle in the UK (out now)
Physical copy in the US (out 15th November)
Physical copy in the UK (out now)