BCN: seasons change (2008)

Angelo, the sex pest, had changed rooms. And with that the apartment changed also. No longer was he the lecherous shrunken man with a hellish pallor and a caved in face. He’d shed his darkened dungeon and left it like a diseased foreskin. There was no going back to that being. He became the Kid-Artist and his expanded boudoir filled with the glorifications of time and statues of a Virgin. Broken canvases covered the floorboards and lined the walls, wire copper connected objects to materials to paintings to bedposts to the lone orange lamp, which glistened around the room and underneath the bed sheets of this Italian beast, through the balcony window and onto the summer streets at dawn. He had a balcony that he could sit at and reach over the railings to shout at middle-aged women and order coffee from across the street. It was his private space where the neighbours could see him sit in his minute red underpants and sip on an afternoon spliff. And he woke up earlier too, this shift was clearly due to the fact that he had a giant window by his enormous bed, which caught the morning sun, as opposed to his miniature den that had neither window nor ventilator, lightbulb nor candle. So now we had a man that was ripe with the day and hardly caught off guard, he became perkier and less like a vile brute obsessing in his black and sweaty cave. No longer a brown hole for fucking, but a colourful gallery for loving.

And with these motions summer finally arrived. She sat up one day and lay across the city, from the rooftops of Gracia, to the shores of Poblenou. Everybody was politely sweating and hanging out in open shirts and tropical vests. The beaches opened up and the beers were sold from the sea. And sometimes Angelo would take me for a ride down to the beach in his recently purchased moped, whistling at everyone he passed and going for drinks with fellow Italian bikers who we had met at the traffic lights. It had been a long time since summer had been so clear, and events were taking place away from home, away from the circus of London, that I could forget all about that place and its teal afternoons. Everybody plagued the streets, Placa del Sol became a vibrant square spilling beer all over its gutters.  …..

I could sense the Italian in him now; the passion, the sincerity. He was quite charming in his way. No longer odd. No features vile. He consisted of a genuine sensibility to which is dead in most of us. He was no longer the red headed school-boy that collects porn in the corner of the dormitory (perhaps that figure was actually I, myself, who collected _________) but now Angelo was this figure, this man, this mild semi-icon, the Italian in our lives. And all other Italians were bland and obvious in comparison. The other Italians were too fashionable, too bothered, too concerned, too sunglasses-at-fucking-night…they always had been, but now the contrast was clear, solid; they were a species of chest hair and tight vest tops.

But us?

We had the red speedo man. We had the Polish nose and small erection on a 2pm wake up call. We had fat, unfaithful girlfriends who sat on his face at night and snuck out in shame/in honour in the morning. We had the pale arms, the pale legs, the pale face. We had a rib-caged torso and long, awkward stares at female guests. We had all of this. And, on that moped one boiling afternoon, it made me extremely proud.

And the warm air that polluted your skin when walking on the tips of La Ramblas at night. Warm and slightly flustered, a wonderous feel of energy in a rich carpet of darkness and streetlights. Indian Beer Sellers, the tourists, the black prostitutes, the Algerians, the expats, the horrendous English drunks on stag-dos, the Catalans and their mullets, the pretty women, the couchsurfers, the journalists, the Italians, the gays, the transsexuals, the streets themselves…all here in front of you, whether you’re keen to indulge or not. Many a part of a city like this in many a part of the world. But all distinct.

Still the smells evaded me, yet the sensations were real enough and existed and were forthright in coming. Anytime, anywhere – a beer, a conversation, a friend or a woman. So many frequencies but only one total mass. An ongoing continual pursuit for jovialities, [decadence,] an orgy of distraction without being ‘distraction’ – never alienated, never never never. Never unproductive.

Yet in London…this lifestyle is lethal: economically, physically, spiritually. Perhaps I still believe myself to be on holiday. But if that were true – then everybody in this city would be at the same conclusion.

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