Tag Archives: sex

All My Friends: Richard

I am here and it already feels like a mistake. I’d had other options this weekend. They were all good. Number one: Bodger’s stag in St Tropez, second marriage but new fiancée seemingly more open minded than the outgoing Mrs Bodger and so less likely to break down in tears at her own wedding at the reveal in the best man’s speech that her husband had paid to snort a line of coke laid out perfectly in the cleft of some stripper’s arse. Number two: invite to meet Jacinda’s parents down at Sandbanks, two days of making polite small talk with her old man about yields and the best shirt makers on Jermyn Street as the foreplay for two nights of teasing his daughter out of her perfectly pressed clothes and seeing if everyone would still make eye contact over breakfast after they’d heard their pride and joy squealing at me to go deeper, go harder, through their shockingly thin walls for such an expensive house. Number three: boss had invited me to join him for golf and then drinks at some private member’s club he belonged to, promised to fast track me in to both; I can’t stand the prick but I need his contacts and network.

It could just be the coke making me a bit paranoid but I’m not feeling much warmth from my former comrades. Even when I tell them what else I could have been up to this weekend. I stop short of suggesting they should be grateful that I’m here, it’s not like I was crass about it. I suppose it’s a little sobering for them to face into their relative failure in life, funny how we could all exit the same University at the same moment but on such different trajectories. Some of us were always headed upwards. It’s going to be a long night so I retreat to the bathroom to do another line. It will at least speed everything up and make Neil and Jon’s dreadful musical choices a bit more bearable. Will remind me what it was I saw in Clare all those years ago as well. She still looks at me like she’ll dance to my tune so I might as well salvage something from the night even if it’s just a nostalgia fuck.

The coke brings a clarity, a sharpness, to the scene. I can feel palpable resentment from Jon as I start talking to Clare just as I can practically see her sense of conflict between wanting to believe this time will be different and remembering all the times I let her down before. I thought perhaps the intervening years would have given her distance enough to see through my tricks but, instead, they seem to have offered up new opportunity. We haven’t been in touch and the space means that part of me is unknown to her now. I fill that space with the version of me she wants to hear, the version she’s secretly been carrying around for the last ten years, the version that regrets ever letting her go and has come to the realisation that she’s the great, lost love of my life. It’s so easy I almost don’t go through with it. I used to like it when it was a challenge getting her into bed.

Upstairs I realise I’ve misplaced my phone, I was fishing around for it to see if she was up for a few candid photos. She always drew the line at that when we first knew each other, said she couldn’t just turn up at Boots and ask for that set of prints. I couldn’t tell her that you didn’t go to Boots – there were places you sent those kind of pictures – as it would blow my cover, reveal me as the sort of person that did this a lot rather than the constructed person who had never done this sort of thing before but only wanted to now because it felt so special with you. Only you. I must have left my phone downstairs. It was too late to retrieve it. I could hear Clare undressing in the bedroom and I’d necked a couple of viagra tablets – the only downside of my cocaine habit was a literal downside downstairs but it was easy enough to coax some life back into the beast with a little additional pharmaceutical help. I went back into the bedroom, my fully saluting cock leading the way.

……

It wasn’t even Clare that found the body. She’d sat outside, early in the morning, for an hour or so until Neil had woken up on the sofa. The two of them had talked for a while, half heartedly clearing up the detritus from the night before. Joanna had joined them, then Jon, then Lizzie, and finally Jason, nursing a hangover forged in the fires of hell. The six of them had talked quietly for a while, lamenting the fact that Gina hadn’t showed, kicking around memories from a time when early morning reconstructions of the night before had been a regular occurrence. Lizzie had found Richard’s phone, distracted from making another round of tea by the urgent, vibrating buzz of a missed call and then repeated voice mail prods. Joanna had volunteered to rouse him in case the call was important. Clare shook her head, smiled wryly, told them all that she knew she was stupid, knew that she should have learned. Joanna rested her hand on Clare’s arm in reassurance and set off with the phone. All of them hit the stairs a minute later when they heard her shouting.

Later the police found the powder and the pills. Even later the coroner recorded it as misadventure. The funeral was the last time any of them saw each other again.

 

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All My Friends: Lizzie

It was all fabulous. Exactly as I’d pictured and planned it: the cottage, the reunion, the long rambling walk through the countryside, the dinner and drinks, the old times marked by a new time together. I’d seen the cottage in a magazine and knew instantly, surreptitiously ripping out the page and stuffing it into my handbag, nonchalantly glancing up to see if anybody in the waiting room had noticed. I just knew. We all had to get back together and it had to be there. It was the impulsive Aries in me but there was something so right about it that I spent the next few days trawling social media, tracking everyone down, getting this thing set up. The girls had pretty much all said yes straight away – Clare needed a bit of a pep talk – and once the boys knew that the girls were coming then they’d all fallen into line. Just as I knew they would. Predictable boys who’d become predictable men. Fun though. Hopefully they’d be caught unawares by unpredictable Lizzie.

The cottage leaned towards the ramshackle side of shabby-chic, all of the furniture was not so much distressed as pleading for help, but I still loved it. For the longest time I just stood outside taking in the sweet smell of the wisteria clambering up a trellis on the front of the house, a riot of pink and purple to rival the contents of my make up bag. Okay, almost rival. I had hoped the others would arrive to discover me resplendent in front of the flowers, perhaps toting a small glass of something fizzy, reading something serious and romantic like Emily Bronte or Daphne Du Maurier but a local farmer started muck spreading in the next field along, ruining the ambience, and I remembered that I’d only bought Jilly Cooper’s “Riders” with me anyway so I waited for them all inside.

If I was completely honest with myself my heart did sink a little when I first opened the door. The apparently very recently applied disinfectant didn’t quite mask the slightly musky, damp smell, as if someone had hurriedly tried to clean up after two wet dogs. Not dogs like my beloved Judy either, more like the ones that chased her around Hampstead Heath trying to mount her. Poor thing. Their outsized amorous attentions always reminded me of that unfortunate night I spent with Giles from the First XV who insisted on initiating sex by calling a scrum, shouting that he was about to bind on, before declaring ‘ball coming in now’ at the moment of penetration. He had a sticker on his door in Halls that read “I like playing with odd shaped balls: do you?” which I assume he meant as a joke but the strange thing was that he really did have very odd shaped balls. I told him he should probably get them checked out and we never really saw each other again after that.

I opened a few windows to let in some air – mostly slightly pungent manure tinged air – and bagged myself the best bedroom. Huge double bed – why not be optimistic – and the only en suite bathroom. The bath boasted a stained in tide mark, a yellowing brown line running a couple of inches below its top, but it was nothing that half a bottle of Molton Brown wouldn’t hide. An explosion of bubbles and a few carefully placed candles, quietly exhaling lavender and sandalwood, and it would suffice. I now hoped the others would arrive to discover me ensconced in foam, reclining, glass of champagne in one hand, spurting shower head in the other, their imaginations running wild, assuming they’d caught me in flagrante, exclaiming at my outrageousness. Sadly the plug didn’t fit flush in the plug hole and the bath would only stay full if I sat on it, the combination of that digging in to my buttocks and the taps poking me in the back forced me to give up. The shower didn’t work properly either. There wasn’t enough pressure to rinse clean the bath oils from my skin let alone get me worked up into a lather.

But it was fabulous. Really it was. When they all did finally arrive I felt as excited as I had the night Daniel Braithwaite had introduced me to his tongue piercing. Something of an oversight not inviting him to be honest although none of the others had really taken to him. Such prudes. It was wonderful. We talked and ate and then, later on, we danced in the kitchen. Someone had put on that Vic Reeves “Dizzy” song that had been out when we’d been at Uni and, just like they used to, everyone had changed the words to “Lizzie”. I was a little tipsy and had spun on the spot, the room blurring, faces from the past flickering in and out of view. I think Jason had caught my arm as I slowed down, stumbling a little, head still spinning long after my body had stopped. I was tipsy but not so drunk that I couldn’t still feel the lump under my breast rubbing against the underwire on my bra. Since it’d grown I’d stopped wearing all of the lacy stuff that I liked, settling for something more comfortable – god forbid, even those hideous sports bras – but I’d made an exception tonight. Just in case. To feel more comfortable I ran my hand up my back, unhitched the clips, and made great show of wriggling the straps free from my shoulders, pulling the bra free from under my top before dropping it in the middle of the kitchen floor. The others found it hilarious, bellowing “Lizzie” along with the song even more loudly; just another moment of spontaneous, delicious outrage to add to my long list.

After I went to bed, alone, I found, in my handbag, the photo of the cottage that I’d ripped from that magazine in the waiting room a few months ago. You get a decent class of magazine in the oncology ward at London Bridge. Next to the photo was an unopened letter with the hospital’s address stamped on the front and my test results inside. I turned it over in my hands and, like all the other times, teased at a small tear on the top of the envelope with a fingernail. A perfectly polished, manicured fingernail. I put the envelope back in my bag. It would be fine. No, it would be fabulous.

All My Friends: Clare

Remember that time when we danced in the kitchen to “All My Friends”? It was the end of the night, all of us back together, ten year anniversary meet up. Later on the two of us had drifted off to sleep listening to the sound of “Astral Weeks” floating up through the floorboards, rising like a soft, sweet spell through the house. The covers were still kicked off the bed, lost in the urgency of our prior entanglement. The last thing I heard before you started calling my name, over and over, breath rising faster, coming now in gasps, was Van singing love to love to love to love to love to love and then, for a good long while there was no sound except the beating of your heart, my head collapsed on your chest, your fingers in my hair. I guess I never learn.

I woke up around five a.m., skin raised in bumps against the early morning chill. You must have rolled across the bed at some point in the night taking the duvet with you. Part of me saw the funny side; everything between us in bed had been the same as it always was and you stealing the covers was no different. You were always selfish in bed. To be honest I’d been drunk enough this time that I couldn’t even remember if I’d come last night or even if I particularly cared.  I sat for a while on the edge of the bed, arms criss-crossed, knees pulled up to my chest, hands rubbing some warmth back into my body. The room was stale with the smell of last night’s booze and last night’s sex. The sun would be rising soon and it felt like watching it might be my only consolation from a predictable and miserable weekend. I pulled on some clothes and left the room as quietly as I could. Not out of concern. I couldn’t face another one of our morning-after conversations.

The night’s black was softening to a dark blue as I left the house. Someone was asleep on the sofa in the lounge, TV fizzing with static lines opposite them. The kitchen looked like a Tracey Emin installation, there was a skyline of discarded, empty bottles arranged in a line on the table we’d all sat round for dinner a few hours ago, and the floor was strewn with a set of clues about how the evening had gone. Several corks. Smudged cigarette ash. Somebody’s iPhone. A bra. Not mine. Too big. I guessed maybe it was Lizzie’s. A pair of Levi’s. Also not mine. I couldn’t place them but I knew they weren’t yours. I remembered enough to know we’d made it upstairs still dressed. I knew because the anticipation of you was always what tripped me up, seemingly even after all this time. Van was still singing quietly from the speaker in the kitchen. Stuck on repeat through the night.

It was chilly outside but the air cleared the fog in my head; the cold felt like clarity, cutting through last night’s heat. It had been a surprise to see you and maybe that’s why all my good intentions turned bad. What’s that saying? The road to hell is paved with good intentions. It wasn’t hell. At best it was two old friends rekindling something they once sort of had. At worst it was a drunken reunion fuck that didn’t last long enough to remember why we’d ever slept together in the first place. You seemed to enjoy it so I guess I could console myself with the fact that I’ve still got it. The worst of it really is that it happened, that I let it happen, made it happen even. It had been a good night, catching up with old faces and kicking around the times we’d all been together before, living on top of each other in student rentals and cooking up another variation on pasta and tuna, or toast, endless rounds of toast, and drinking cheap sherry straight from the bottle before we’d head out to some retro 70s night at the Union. It was only ten years on and now it was all Prosecco and tagines – one meat, one vegetarian – and swapping stories about first homes, second homes, mortgages, trips to Ikea and how many weddings there had been this year. Underneath I guess it was still the same. The dynamics in the group settled into the same rhythms. Me and you settled into the same rhythm.

How could I have been so fucking stupid? You hadn’t changed. The same cock-sure smile, the same easy conversation, the same self-assuredness. When you’d told me you were “in the City” now I nearly spat out my wine. It was too obvious and too perfect. Of course you were “in the City” and, no doubt, perfectly at home there. You didn’t look surprised when I said I was teaching. God, I think you even said something, it could have been “good for you” like the patronising twat you are and, instead of turning away and joining back in the conversation about that night we all moved our mattresses out of our rooms and slept outside in the Quad when we were all in Halls, I smiled and thanked you. I was like a needle being dropped on vinyl. I just settled back into a groove that had been well worn in years ago and let the same old song spin. We both knew the tune and the words. It’s a song I thought I’d given up singing.

The sun lit the horizon and a honey-glow spread across the gardens around the house. Birds began to chatter and trill, breaking the stillness of the dawn. My head was starting to ache and so I headed back into the wreckage of the kitchen to see if somewhere amid the carnage there was a packet of paracetamol. Even just a glass of water. Something to shake the pain. I guess, misguided as I was, that’s all you were the night before. Something to shake the pain.

Powder blue

That bit was true. She wore powder blue. A skirt that shifted up and around her legs as I watched her walk, hips lifting and falling as she retreated from me. I didn’t follow her. She’d made it clear that I shouldn’t but there was nothing I wanted more than to chase her. Powder blue skirt, white blouse, hair pulled up in a loose bun, loose strands tumbling down her neck. I memorised her back. Her walking away was as good as it was going to get so I fixed it in my head. I love to watch you leave. Jesus, now you’ve got me sounding like the lyrics from some 80s hair metal band. Shot through the heart and you’re to blame.

That bit was true though. That bit I remember. The stuff before that I’ve tried to forget and mostly been successful. I expect it was the usual easy let down lines about not the right time or not in a good place right now or it’s not you it’s me. Your mouth said some words. Your perfect kissable mouth said some words. I watched it and remembered feeling it on mine but couldn’t reliably say what it said. You never listened. Perhaps that’s what it said. It’s a fair cop. Guilty. There’s not a court in the land that wouldn’t acquit though when I submit, in my defence, the glory of watching that mouth and tasting those lips and feeling that tongue tease and test mine. Who’d listen under those circumstances ? A better man than me. You were just too distracting. Too arresting. Does that make me shallow ? Did you get tired of splashing around in shallow old me, looking for some depths to sink into that just weren’t there ? I don’t know. Maybe I am. You just walked out on me and I’m fixing the image of your swaying hips and perky backside in my brain as my memory of this moment. I’m not proud.

There’s other stuff I’ve forgotten. Dates we went on as a prelude to sex. Conversations we had as a prelude to sex. Staring romantically into each other’s eyes as a prelude… You get the idea. The prelude was always pretty predictable. As we’ve established I’m shallow enough to have my well rehearsed moves fixed down to a tee. Like muscle memory. You could drop me down in a bar, in a cinema, walking down the street hand-in-hand, in a restaurant, in a gym, on a train, even one time buying some throat sweets in Boots, and it would end in bed. Or the floor next to the bed. Or stairs. Or an alleyway. As I say, you get the idea. I’m not boasting, it’s just something I know how to do. That part is always a means to an end. The fact that it is seems to always bring about this you-walking-away end.

It was all lies. I never wore powder blue. I might have worn navy or black or, when we first met, something red even, but powder blue ? I always knew there was a gap between the reality of us together and the twisted narrative playing in your head and presumably this was part of it. That I was all powder blue and perfect bottom and floor to ceiling legs and blow job lips. What the hell are blow job lips anyway ? Coming next month in Cosmo: 23 lipsticks that look great round his cock. So what did he tell you ? That it was all sex ? That he was dreadfully, charmingly, shallow and that I thought I was the one that would get him to dispense with the scuba diving and gear up with an air tank to fully explore our murky depths together ? He’d never use a diving analogy without some fucking gag about, you know, another kind of diving though. That part about him being shallow ? Give him some credit: that part, amongst all the lies, was true.

For the record then I wore navy. I remember it now. A straight, tailored skirt from Hobbs, cut just above the knee. There were no flashes of thigh or glimpses of suspender belt. No hint of what was underneath unless you were some kind of sex obsessed maniac that sees navy as powder; some permanent rendering of the world in soft focus. I guess that’s what too much porn will do to you. That and an endless compulsion to buy me “gifts” from Agent Provocateur. Yeah, sure I’ll wear those. Just as soon as you clamp your balls in a vice and shove a feathered butt plug up your arse. Also for the record my hips don’t sway or swing. I don’t casually sashay across the floor. I walk. Specifically I walk away from you and not so that you can watch me leave but so that I can get the fuck away as fast as I can without falling flat on my face in three inch heels. I’m amazed you didn’t mention those. Presumably you couldn’t drag your eyes away from my behind long enough to notice.

That stuff you forgot ? Honestly, you’re right to forget it. It was forgettable. You’re not the only one that phoned it in during those dates, during those meals, those films, those walks, as a prelude to getting to the mindless escape of fucking. You really think that was a one way street ? I’m not walking away because you didn’t listen or because ‘it wasn’t you it was me’. It was you. It really wasn’t me. I just got fed up finishing myself off every night after you rolled over asleep after another loud but short explosion. You’re lucky my name’s only got two syllables: I’m not sure you’d have ever managed to call it out before you came if it had been three. I was happy with shallow, I was feeling pretty shallow myself, but if we’re going to connect purely for sex then let’s at least do it properly. That too much to ask ? Sure, at the start, maybe I was looking for something more than that but not by the end, not when it became obvious that there was no more to you than that. And in the end you couldn’t even deliver against your shallow promise. You were a means to no end and that’s why I walked away. Remember me in powder blue if you like. It’s a lie but then all of it was.

……

This is story 36 in a series of 42 to raise money and awareness for the mental health charity Mind. My fundraising page is here and all donations, however small, are really welcome: http://www.justgiving.com/42shorts

This is not dissimilar to previous story, Moonshot, in that it was just an attempt at straight voice. I’m not sure the two protagonists ended up being distinct enough but you can be the judge. As usual there hasn’t been an edit.

Pi

After the first time I’d nicknamed him Pi because the sex was over in 3.14 seconds. He improved but the name stuck. He became my constant. Whatever circles I moved in there was him. Me plus him, it should have been a simple equation. So why was I making it complex ?

Algorithms. Regression. Correlations. I close my eyes and the maddening march of numbers fill the darkness. I see structure in the noise and make connections. Form from the apparent chaos. I want it to stop. To trip an off switch and for the structure to dissolve, to shut down my highly prized mind. Algorithms to give way to baser rhythms.

I remember his touch on my skin and how those nights had been filled with a different darkness, absent of structure and analysis. Instinct and emotion and pleasure. I’d been afraid of it, of course, unable to break it down, to analyse it, to model what he might do next. He always did something thrilling next, something unexpected, something that made me lose the sense of who I was. I ached for him those nights. Ached in the pleasure of him and ached in the pain in not understanding him or, specifically, what he was able to provoke in me. No reason, no structure, no control.

So do I have to let him go because I can’t let myself go ? Must I regress to regression and models and statistics ? Me minus him, another simple equation. Would he be there tonight ? On the periphery of the room, marking out the radius of the latest circle I was moving in ? If he was could I calculate the probability that he’d end up back in my bed ? The odds had always been good. Constant.

There he is. I detach from a conversation about causal relationships and statistical significance and cross the room to him. Me plus him. Let’s keep it simple. I’m there in one, two, three… just a touch over three steps. Let’s call it 3.14.

 

……

This is story 32 in a series of 42 to raise money and awareness for the mental health charity Mind. My fundraising page is here and all donations, however small, are really welcome: http://www.justgiving.com/42shorts

There’s a whole untapped market where sex and maths collide. Isn’t there ?

Fifty grades of Che

Rachel’s phone vibrated and the screen lit up announcing a new message. Tell me what you’re wearing so I can imagine relieving you of each item, piece by piece. He was nothing if not persistent. Her fingers tapped back a quick text. Go take a cold shower or something. I’m marking. She turned her attention back to the stack of papers in front of her: the combined efforts of her first year undergraduates’ take on whether Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s status as a genuine revolutionary in thought and deed was undermined by the commodification of his image after his death. Her phone shook again. Come home and mark me… with your long fingernails down my back. Jesus. Just watch some porn or something. Seriously, I’m busy. I’ve got fifty essays on Che Guevara to do before tomorrow. I’m really not in the mood for your sexting bullshit.

After a couple of minutes the phone’s screen faded back to black, powered down, and Rachel figured he’d got the message. Sighing she picked up the next paper. Emily Cunningham. She had attended every lecture this semester wearing the same tee-shirt: a screen print of the famous (infamous) Guevara image, beret, moustache, tousled shoulder length hair, idealistic stare into the middle distance. She also wore blue and white vertically striped tights which met a pair of boots painstakingly painted with a red triangle centred with a star. Inevitably she had a beret too. Her essay started with: whilst I inherently reject the Western Imperialist notion that education can be measured, believing instead that is is an inalienable right for each individual to seek knowledge for its own sake… Rachel sighed, skipped a few pages that waxed lyrical about Che’s travels through South America (so you’ve seen The Motorcycle Diaries, so has every other student on this course), and eventually found a paragraph that seemed to conclude that the West’s appropriation of him could never undermine his revolutionary spirit and zeal. She gave it a D. Realise you will reject my measurement of your inalienable right to learn but suggest you devote more energy to addressing the question next time or you’re heading for an inalienable fail. Nice tights btw. 

If this was the standard it was going to be a long night. Her phone lit up again. Sighing she glanced at the screen. Let me control your means of production. She decided to ignore it. Maybe he would get bored and give up. Half way through reading the next student’s work another message buzzed for attention. From each according to his abilities, for each according to his needs… and I’ve got strong needs tonight. Exasperated she replied. Stop just googling quotes about Marxism. They are not sexy, you weirdo. I am working.

Almost instantly another message arrived. Worker of the world unite. With me. You have nothing to lose but your chains. Actually maybe we could keep the chains ?

Ignore him. Stop replying, it’s just encouraging him. Mark the papers, go home, he will have zonked out on the sofa in front of some highly inappropriate website, you can have a bath and go to bed. Her phone nudged her again. There’s been a popular uprising.

Rachel couldn’t help herself. Now you’re just making stuff up. The other ones weren’t even Guevara and that one’s not anyone. Your “uprising” isn’t popular here. Minutes ticked by. He’s given up. Mark the goddamn papers. She skim read another essay, this one arguing that Che’s eventual adoption of violence as a means of overthrowing oppression was an inevitable consequence of his training as a doctor. Another D. She was just about to pick up the next attempt when she saw her phone shake and shimmer again. Seriously. This is the last one. I’m turning it off. One has to grow hard but without ever losing tenderness. Really ? At least this one was actually Che. Give him credit. At least he’s learning something tonight. She tapped out one last response. 

You can liberate me tomorrow and help me throw off the shackles of the yolk of capitalism. I’ll be your thesis, you be my anti-thesis and we can come together in synthesis. Maybe I’ll even use the shackles. No yolk though. That would just be… messy. Get some sleep. Love you.

Rachel turned off her phone and, sighing, picked up the next paper.

……

This is story 27 in a series of 42 to raise money and awareness for the mental health charity Mind. My fundraising page is here and all donations, however small, are really welcome: http://www.justgiving.com/42shorts

To be honest this slightly ridiculous story came largely from me finding the title quite funny and then trying to concoct something from that. Plus I got to tag a post with “sex” and “Marxism” and it’s not everyday that you get to do that… although I imagine that somewhere on the web there’s a site that caters.

You know the deuce is still wild

25. Tumbling Dice – The Rolling Stones

The point of the 42 is not to rate things and, as a rule, I fight shy of reckoning one particular record as “better” than another. It usually strikes me as a false comparison, like saying tomatoes are better than cucumbers, or red is better than green.

I will make an exception here.

“Exile On Main Street” is the greatest rock and roll album ever recorded. It is. I’m happy to discuss it but, to paraphrase the late, great Brian Clough, we’ll talk about it for twenty minutes and then agree that I’m right. Or I’ll just play you “Tumbling Dice” and four minutes later we’ll agree that I’m right.

There has been a distinct lack of swagger in my list of records so far. Plenty of late night navel gazing, plenty of bottom-of-the-glass laments to what might have been and plenty of reflective moments of sobriety. You can stack the previous 23 records in all their contemplative angst ridden glory up against this and it redresses the balance on its own.

This is swagger writ large. It’s savouring the taste of draining your glass and not staring mournfully at the bottom of it but sliding it across the bar for another. It’s sexy as hell and, for its duration, will convince you that you’re sexy as hell too. It’s suss and street smarts and it’s never going home at the end of the night alone. Burn your copy of “Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway”. Buy this record, play it often, and let it arm you with its unshakeable confidence.

This is my favourite Friday night song. It’s my job interview song. It was my yes-I’m-going-to-call-her song. It is guaranteed to get me onto any dance floor irrespective of the deteriorating state of my surgery sodden knees. Moves like Jagger ?  You better believe it. Doesn’t matter if you don’t ‘cos the magic of this song is that it makes you believe. Honestly I suspect that I look like a constipated, arthritic peacock when I sashay around my house to this, hips shaking, hands clapping, head nodding in a strut. I suspect that’s the reality but I don’t believe the reality. I believe the myth this song creates for me. I am a dancefloor god made flesh when this song plays. This – and follow these links, they will make your life better – is me. And this. Maybe even this.

There’s a whole lot of stuff I could write about “Exile…”. The villa in Nellcote. Tax exile. Marianne Faithful. Gram Parsons. Recording all night in the basement and sleeping all day: the sunshine bores the daylights outta me indeed. It’s a great story – go read about it, Robert Greenfield’s “Exile: A Season In Hell With The Rolling Stones” is as good a place to start as any. But a detailed and sober analysis of this record – of this song in particular – just isn’t in keeping with the spirit of what it does for me. There’s no thinking. It’s all feel. (Now we’re paraphrasing Bruce Lee).

This song works in the gut, in the feet, especially in the hips, and the only thing it asks your head to do is nod appreciably. It’s the exact opposite of everything Marillion are about from the last post. Try having sex to a Marillion record. Those time signatures are all wrong. Try having sex to “Tumbling Dice”. Notice the difference ? Now try “Ventilator Blues”. Oh my god. Charlie Watts sliding in just behind the beat. That’s the best sex you’ve ever had in your life.

You can’t blame the Stones for everything that happened after this record. For Aerosmith. For hair metal. For Dogs D’Amour. I don’t even really blame them for becoming the corporate brand that they are now – would be interesting to know what Keith would have said to you if you’d told him in 1972 that he’d wind up playing a caricature of himself in a kids film about pirates because one of the other pirates was modeled on him. I imagine he would have – as in my all time favourite Keith clip on the internet – chopped the mother down.

You can’t blame them because once they were the best band on the planet. I’ve long since frozen them in time and the Stones exist for me as their ’69-’74 incarnation. The one that makes me move and makes me feel more alive.