And where the hell is Fareham anyway:

Half way between home and work- a kind of place of transience- a non-place. Did anyone live there? Half an hour of wandering from the station looking for a sandwich in between connections had revealed a Czechoslovakian themed pub, an Eastern European supermarket and a closed electricianÕs called ÒElectro-WorldÓ or something- the kind of place fashion magazine art editors would wet themselves over.

Striding back to the station past a bunch of teenage pikeys. Not in the racially pejorative sense but in the bored teenage nihilism and kappa brigade. His life-affirming hangover gave the encounter a kind of relish. His was tetchiness calcified into resolve- enjoying the swagger as his legs battled against toxic paralysis. Added to which he knew he looked fucking good- all crumpled sartoria and with the kind of hair one only gets after a good shag. As he traced the perpendicular towards their rank he mentally dared them to start on him. He reckoned he could probably take them anyway- bad diet and possible solvent abuse versus discipline and rightuous indignation. Oh yes, discipline- paying the old man at the Shanghai Garden a tenner a week to stand with school-aged terminal victims and housewives- uniformed in bad sportwear and dirty black t-shirts repeating wing-chung and chang chuang drills with little syncronicity.

Not of course that heÕd ever actually been in a fight.

It wasnÕt that he wasnÕt glad- he thanked the preciousness of his features for its pacifying effect on potential assailants, it was just that he felt like a virgin - knowing that his indoors practising, fantasing about the first time was probably useless by means of preparation. His were not model good looks- passable to be kind- or as he entertained- never working against him- affirming his basic belief that with no strata of women were beyond him, with enough effort. But he had a weak jaw and sunken eyes. In truth he was an anathema to most of these women- the ones who caved in usually doing so through curiosity . He knew fully well of the trading value of these boyish looks- but didnÕt want to go through to hs grave without scars. His fanatical fear of losing teeth or a broken nose - meant that he approached any possible injury from a three quarter profile- hoping for a good cheekbone or eyebrow scar. This further reveals some of the grave flaws in the fighting theory of our hero.

But ten- minutes later he is on the train again-no date with destiny today- hearing the disembodied voices of two young teenagers behind him trading badinage about fucking each others mothers cunts in a west country interpretation of west-indian patois. He found their invective rather touching- he remembered the unloveliness of his teenaged years- which he put behind him with the belief that it was not innocence that was delivered at birth and slowly eroded by acidic experience, but the bitter green jade of disappointment. Let them get a few sexual experiences and their first paycheck under their belt before they are expected to revel in the glory of life.

And oh dear god it was glorious today- The English countryside looked so much better passing through on a train. Sun beams refracted through graffiti etched glass onto coffee stained formica.- A full cinemascope of pastoral bliss you did not not actually have to step into or even smell. The soporific narrative of fields, barns and dead trees permitted a drift into nostalgia. He remembered his first laugh- seven years old sat in a train carriage between his Christian scientist parents, lunchbox on lap- staring ahead at the family, mirroring them, sans mum, on the bench opposite, His counterpart was reading from an oversized orange book, printed on the cheapest of papers, two line situations to his dad, who at first, giggled and spurred on his son, but ceased when he saw the tight-lipped horror of the pale, uncomfortably dressed family opposite. Our hero at that age could not have possibly speculated what that man wanted to do to his mother and so concentrated insead on the stream of what he now recognised (from Christmas crackers) as jokes. Repetitive in theme and timbre, like the game of pairs he would play at home on rainy days with mum, chickens, bankrobbers, insolent schoolboys and bodily functions would appear and reappear in questions- and gradually the boy began to second guess the whereabouts of punchlines. But then came the wild card.

A joke that no matter how hard the present hero tries, he cannot remember.

Now he just remembers the uncontrollable reaction surging upwards from the base of his spine and rippling through his diaphragm. His utter fear of releasing it in front of his parents causing him to mask the leap of his stomach with a melodrama of bent-double coughing and choking. His concerned mother laid her hand on the scrag of his neck although whether her intention was to comfort the boy- or pull his upper body sharply back into vertical alignment if he did not stop soon. The ambiguity of the gesture was not lost on the man opposite who had other designs on those soft but disciplinarian hands. Neither was his gaze lost on his son- suprisingly well informed of his fathers post-divorce adventures. The teller of the joke caught the eyes of his convulsing counterpart and smirked a little too knowingly for a seven year old boy. Thoughts now on more recent matters- our hero contemplates his own latest conquest. She had smelt recognisably of kumquat- a fact that further crystallised her exoticism in his mind although in reality- its source had probably come in a recycled bottle from the body shop.