Invisible Stranger


Invisible Stranger

Collecting Crises on Old Compton Street and Beyond

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Little Tinker

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Friday, August 06, 2004
Frozen Food
When I was young and pretty (and that's a thousand years ago), I had no problems making new friends, or even new "friends", for that matter. Most people on the London scene knew me, some of them actually quite liked me, and, at best, the others tolerated me even when I was being my most sickeningly cute. And believe me, no-one could do cute as sickeningly as me. Still can't, come to think of it.

Inevitably, there was one person immune to my puppy-dog charms. Probably a couple of years older than me, and with classic all-American college-boy good looks, he could have stepped right out of the pages of GQ magazine, back in the old days when it was practically a gay soft porn title. On a scene which, even today, is predicated on youth and "beauty", and you're over the hill at twenty-five, he turned heads and broke hearts with alarming regularity as he cruised up and down the queer streets of 1980s Earl's Court and Soho.

Of course, he was very probably a hairdresser from Halifax with a small willy and a fake tan, but that wasn't the point. The point was that, while realising he was way out of my league, I still so much wanted to get to know him, and for him to like me. I was even more of a superficial Stranger back then than I am now, and I thought that maybe if he became my friend then some of his beauty and coolness would rub off onto me.

Yet whenever I attempted to engage him in a non-chat-up and casual conversation, he would sneer superiorly, and look down his oh-so-perfect nose at me, awarding me the kind of look I usually reserve for doggy-doo on the shoes, before flouncing off back to his plastic-perfect friends, and leaving me feeling about two inches tall, and slightly less alluring than Baby Jane Hudson. He didn't care. With those sort of looks he could afford to be as nice or as off-hand to any mere mortal he chose.

Years ago, he vanished off the main gay circuit, and I'd forgotten all about him until last night, when I spotted him on London's Old Compton Street. Although he was still vaguely good-looking in a kind of distinguished older gentleman way, he'd obviously seen better days, the eye-tucks hadn't quite taken, and the hair dye wasn't fooling anyone. And when after twenty minutes not one person had fallen worshipful at his Gucci-clad feet, he reluctantly decided to try and strike up a conversation with the Stranger who happened to be standing next to him at the bar.

Now, the way I saw the situation, I had two options. As a caring, sensible and reasonably together fortysomething member of the homosexual community, someone who insists that looks aren't that important (much), I could ignore the imagined slights and the frosty hauteur of twenty years ago, and respond pleasantly to him. Who knows? There might even be a mercy-shag in it for me. Certainly no-one else in the bar seemed much interested in even chatting to him. Then again, as a shallow, unforgiving, vicious, spiteful and frankly bitter old queen, I could freeze him out with all the haughty sub-zero disdain he'd once shown me.

Which course of action did I take? Oh, do grow up, my children. Which course of action do you think I bloody well took?

Life is sweet. And the dish on last night's menu was served especially cold.