Friday 27 May 2011

Andy Warhol, a Telephone Box (no Wendy James)

If there’s a bus I’ve never seen it, but we have bus stops (four at least that I know of) because the smoking laws the way they are it’s only actually legal for the under sixteens to have a fag, and by common if unspoken by-law only in bus stops. I don’t smoke, not now and for two years nearly too which is of course a good thing for all sorts of reasons (if the one bad is that I don’t get to enjoy a smoke). I gave up because of things like cost, my sprouts and because I just got no pleasure from it any more. Mostly though, I’m just too old to be cool any more.
Mervyn Peake hates it when we come here but he’s only a head you might remember and so doesn’t whine so very much for an old man. He hates it here because of the graffiti, because the kids that do smoke don’t so much as scratch a big willy inside the shelter. Not without Andy Warhol’s say-so, who directs them (a modern day Fagin with a silk screen) and claims it all for himself as here where we have repeated again and again his Mrs Brunner and the King. But I need to take the air what with the bears setting up camp in the gardens backing on our lane and the telephone wires a foot from the ground, weighed down by Swintons who whilst weighing less than their knickers, then still that’s a lot of knickers.
I slept in a bus shelter once. It had no timetable and I still don’t know where it was, as I left and got a ride and never asked. I almost slept in a telephone box too when I missed the last bus back, and there oddly in Aldershot in rain hard enough to have popped down to the nearby Browning Barracks and applied to jump out of perfectly good airplanes in a maroon beret. With my VIth form only three miles away but home ten it hardly seemed worth walking all that way and the better for a few hearty ciders there the phone box was.
I hunkered down, I almost slipped into a frozen slumber. Almost because the door was pulled violently open and there the Neatest Man In The World raised his hat. He asked if he might use the phone box and there not being much that I could say to that, I stepped out. There in the still hammering rain I at first idly watched as this dapper gent with a tuneless hum pissed long and hard. This was one of the phone boxes you no longer see. Big and red, with a raised lip and a proper door. The tidy gent stepped out leaving a good inch of frothy piss behind and unfurling his umbrella returned upon his way.
I was very wet when an hour later and in the grounds of my college I finally crashed in the open vestibule of the sports hall. I had sobered and walked from Aldershot to Farnborough singing all the way The Weight.
I was at class on time for once too. Stinking, but on time.
Bloody Andy Warhol.   


  1. Norbert BarrowcloughMay 27, 2011

    What a perfect scene! I do hope it happened in Slide 0. I can picture your younger self's rising incredulity as events, and the Neatest Man's distinctive manhood, unfolded. I have nothing to compare, though the waiting room (read freezing cold, wind-blown shack) at West Hampstead station has in the past seen me, in the company of a similarly distressed but much more 'deshabille' gent, start a small bonfire to stave off hypothermia until the first train. We wondered if the smoke would be problematic, but the howling gale sucked it straight out of the ill-fitting door.

  2. It was indeed that last, your Slide27. But a month or three before leaving the thorny family nest.

  3. Norbert BarrowcloughMay 27, 2011

    Lush. And I don't mean that in the sense of your artist's model Miki, but rather in terms of the band, which also lost me sleep in the nineties. Lovely people all, and erstwile fanzine editors most, they gave me the Cook's tour of all that is lush, and fed me beer, and then it was 3am, and then I went to work and slept in the tape racks. There was no Neat Man that time - just an agitated despatch boy called Duncan who thought I was dead until I shouted at him.