16th Feb – Accent, you ate the positive.

Keith, Keith Babraham, Baba au Rhum to me, insists on diving deeper into Marudeva’s belief that I am Nigel Ackerman, the man with the nautical jacket, bike, and nice skin. It frustrates Rum-baa that I, in the possession of all relevant facts, won’t apply myself to the conundrum they present.

I am interested, but I sort of know that I don’t know, and have settled for that. But today, I allow myself to be cajoled out of my complacency by Ba-ba’s constant provocation.

Everything Marudeva told us about him, pointed to him being the youngest idiot son of someone very important; someone who had been sent out into the world to learn the family business, like one of the Getty Jnrs: rich, feckless, lazy, and totally disinterested in the thing which made their despotic father so important. Much like me in many ways, I have to cough to that; I could have invented the cure for Covid had I shown any application.

He worked in this place that sounded like a pet’s name with ‘bank’ tagged on the end, in a sort of merchant’s house thing – as I imagined a Mayfair hedge fund – even though I found him on Fleet Street. There was something casual about his time keeping too, that suggested he did something easy and useless. I fancied him to be a hedge fund trader, or wealth manager, I tell Rum, wondering, as I do, whether he needs me to explain these terms as I go.  

Now, he (Rum) was not there, knows nothing about him, yet he says, ‘I can see how they’ve confused you myself, you do look like one of those types.’

I’d like to be positive, but they aren’t my cup of tea.

Looked like, perhaps. Poverty has it rewards; I am tanned and thin; and I just can’t help being gorgeous, it’s my beautiful soul struggling to find a way out into the world via my face. But sounds like, NO. I have already told Rum many times about all my failed interviews. Not one single successful outcome. There were a few hurdles to overcome: a paralysing inability to think on my feet; a self-esteem so negative, that once the man interviewing me paused the interview to ask whether I’d ever been diagnosed with depression; a misreading of the protocol and purpose of the interview, so profound, that I would lose all sense of what was being asked – like that time I laughed my head off when the interviewer said, ‘How’s the weather been, up there?’ But above and beyond all these problems, was my voice. It wasn’t just that I spoke without any sort of authority, it’s that it has this awful parping, feyness, about it, as if Gary Lineker had sired a bastard offspring with Simon Armitage, and I had been shat out of The Poet Laureate’s breeches.

We all know that Judas was despised, same Richard III, but nobody talks about the root cause of this rejection. Well, let me tell you: Judas sounded like one of the Bee Gees, and Richard III, Larry Grayson. When Judas apologised, God must have thought he was taking the piss.

Rum won’t have it, and he suggests that I am deliberately down-playing the positive, to make an absurd joke of the negative, so that I can hide behind it. He insists that men like me, looking like I do, having gone to the schools that we went to, having lived through the times that we did, being male, being white, being perceived as some sort of quasi-Christian-wasp thing, that life was made for us. For my cohort. For me.

‘Yes,’ I tell him, ‘Perhaps. It does look like that, from a distance, but that’s the point, some of us fell between two stools. You sound just like my father,’ I tell him, ‘Complacent and assuming.’

‘How come?’ he wants to know. And I tell him it’s because he also thought that those conditions were sufficient, on their own, to prosper, whereas in fact, they were no more than the conditions precedent – the same as those who’d attended public schools had always known. And that crucially, on top of it all, you need guidance, mentoring, care and dedication to make it all work; ideally, performed by a professional in such things.  If you do not have access to the sort of people that can do that, then you require, as a minimum, love. Actual love, not merely professed. Not someone who claims that they love you and wants the best for you, but raises their eyes with a sort of contemptuous disdain at every single act of yours they witness.

Ba-ba au Rhum comes back at me strongly. It’s me that’s complacent he tells me, that I didn’t make anything of the opportunity that others would kill for. We do that thing, like in the Doris Day song, ‘Yes you are, no, I’m not, yes you are. No I’m not, no I’m not, no I’m NOOOOOT!’

Under his breath Ba-ba adds a final, ‘Yes you are,’ so I brought it to an end by shout-singing, ‘Don’t mess with Mr In-between,’ and I wagged my finger at him, as if I was one of the Andrews Sisters.

Eventually, we start laughing, and we’re friends again, so, for a treat, I tell him about my father’s six-step plan to mentor me through school, on to Oxford, and thence to untold riches and success.

British education, the best education in the Wold!

‘Leg 1: number one son returns home with request from English teacher that they be allowed to watch Summoned by Bells [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUfRr_SbDQ0] on BBC2 that night. Then and there, father decides that son is not only gifted but is also sophisticated. Outcome for son’s cultural development: leave well alone – it’s as good as done;
Leg 2: the following week, father returns from pub just as Play for Today, which is no. 1 Favourite Son’s favourite, is coming to an end. Declare to everyone and no one in particular, having met old schoolmate who has a son graduating in engineering from Cambridge later that year, Me and Buckie Dreadnought are producing the bloody cream of the country. Me. Him;
The following day, pot of cream to be elevated to position of golden ticket holder, who holds the fortunes of the family in his grubby, unworthy, hands. It is decided, on father’s further reflection, that the genes inside said pot are sufficient to see it through without further input from anyone else, particularly, him. Him;
Leg 3: when object of complacent mentoring shows any ignorance about any issue relating to current affairs, or general knowledge that the father has already mastered, like, for example, the Balance of Payments crisis, shout at him, When I was your age, I used to devour the Daily Express every morning, with a view to bringing him back on track;
Leg 4: agree with teachers whenever possible that son is disappointing, given that half of his genes suggest that there is something good in there. But, if we continue do nothing, he’ll be all right in the end won’t he? Do this, in particular, with any of son’s teachers you know socially, where you can give full vent to your renowned searing honesty;
Leg 5: Enrol son in sports’ clubs during a subscriptions’ holiday for juniors, then persuade him that every door in life is open for high achieving rugby/golf/cricket/tennis players, depending on the season (what’s on tele). Teach him to make his own way in life by providing him with no equipment, clothes, or money during this formative enterprise;
Leg 6: leave all other matters of education to Play for Today.

Our conversation needs to end, so I ask Ba-Ba au Rhum whether he thinks that when a penis is removed in the creation of a trans-woman, that they are kept on ice, in a penis bank, to be used in the later creation of trans-men? Until we know these things, we are capable of making all sorts of complacent assumptions, that could be damaging to the participants.