Sunday 11th Jun 2017

My landlord has finally painted the room.


For the past 8 months, I’ve woken up and stared at the long strip of flaking magnolia where the wall meets the ceiling, directly opposite my bed (which is actually just a mattress and bedding on the floor), revealing a paler layer of white underneath. It’s a tired analogy but it looked like a wound to me, and my fingers itched to prise it wider, peeling it off bit-by-bit, or to stab away at it in little jabs with a kitchen knife until the floor was covered in powdery scabs.

Posters of Cassils and Felix Gonzales-Torres covered the cracks that snaked like fault-lines along the wall; now there are smooth, virginal rectangles of magnolia and a polite request from my landlord to not put any more posters up, please. I’ve turned my desk to face the window instead of the wall. Now I can watch the neighbourhood cats slink across the sheds belonging to my neighbours who have such things as gardens when I need to take a break from writing things like this.

Last night I was sat drinking a few beers in the forecourt of The Yard Theatre with a couple of friends. We’d just watched Ponyboy Curtis’ new show of queer, bucolic love and lust, Vs. Most of the theatre crowd had gone while the incoming Pussy Palace nightclub crowd were still putting on their outfits at home, or maybe getting a drink somewhere more central East London. So, just me, my friends, and a few small clusters of people hanging around, having a drink and a smoke.


We were talking about Grindr, and how one of my friends, now in his mid 30s, is getting a noticeable flurry of 25 year olds messaging him. Like, a lot of 25 year olds. What do they all want? Well, we can imagine; this is Grindr after all. And it’s not that he doesn’t understand the rules of the game. It’s just that he doesn’t see himself in the way he thinks he reads to them. What is he: a ‘daddy’ now?

My week-old tattoo has been scabbing and flaking away in small filings of black. I scoop handfuls of cocoa butter from a small tub and massage my upper arm once in the morning and again before bed. It smells delicious, like freshly-baked pastries, and melts beneath my hands as I rub it firmly onto the skin, sliding it across the healing needle-thin wounds. It catches the daylight as I turn and look at my fingers, shiny and slippery, and I think of Vaseline: how they share a similar texture; how the early explorations of my own body were facilitated by globs of this mass-manufactured petroleum-jelly on a teenage finger-tip. I always bought it in those small, blue and white circular tins, sold as therapy for chapped-lips. I’d take care to never actually apply it to my lips.


And as I think of these early explorations, an image of a rudimentary, almost atavistic (which is not to say unintelligent) kind of anal sex appears; one where the latex sheath disintegrates beneath the Vaseline and the cock is gilded by this material that becomes flammable in its liquid state; this semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons, discovered in the mid-19th century on the oil rigs of America, greasing huge metal skeletons pumping billions of gallons of black ichor from the earth’s skin; oil that has flamed and roared in automobile engines for nearly a century, heating up the planet’s surface to an apocalyptic fervour.

I was going to make a point about how things like tattoos are indeed ‘descriptors of you’, but that people usually read you wrong anyway, including yourself, so you might as well scar yourself for life. I was going to make this point within the context of costume, finery and mystery, which I saw in abundance at Pussy Palace, and really liked. And how this costume, finery and mystery operates as part of game that you have to play, especially in the creative industries. But I’m also kind of bored of it, and a bit tired. As if I don’t put enough effort in anyway. But I got distracted and digressed thinking about anal again. Sorry.


I read somewhere that the symbol of a snake swallowing its own tail was a symbol for homosexuality, and I tried corroborating this on Duck Duck Go yesterday, but a 2 minute glance didn’t turn up anything useful. Perhaps it is true. But anyway, I’ve been thinking about the serpent as a symbol of temptation and fall from grace, and how much I like this irreverent depiction of the Birth of Venus. And I think about black ink, and the sort of serpents I want running through my body.

Categorized as Diary

By Gareth

London-based artist