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Drag Homework

Time to get my shit together, I'm moving country again. Changing continents is the only time all my shits accounted for, and not scattered throughout other peoples lives or forgotten in some boozer that sells cheap Guinness. Having an impending date in the background means I can't be fooled by menacing thoughts of 'It can wait'. Or at least, no more pretending to believe it. Normally, I tell myself I should be writing, so I procrastinate. This usually involves playing hide & seek with Betty. Betty, my 60 year old landlady, has a dog who is also named Betty. I'm not mental, it's her dog I play hide & seek with. But even now, I should be applying for somewhere to live and work - so instead I'm writing this nonsense. I may arrive in New Zealand homeless & jobless but at least I'll possess some invaluable new prose. Though, not likely invaluable in a positive sense. Paradoxically, it's not even the first time I've moved to New Zealand for the first time.


I last left for NZ 11 months ago and if Thailand hadn't legalised weed I might have made it all the way. But as it is, I am writing on the same desk I've put into storage for this trip once before. Storage doesn't really mean storage when you're a man-child (I must have that Benjamin Button disease as I'm immaturing with age). So storage means some poor fuckers attic. I did ask my Mum but she said her loft was too full of Halloween tat and to ask Betty instead. The Two Betty's were having none of it and so I asked around and until I found a different Betty - Nan's mate Betty. Betty is laid back so of course said of course but when I poked my bonce into her loft it was clearly rivalling mum's. Board games, bedding, camping equipment, a fucking rocking horse, two fucking kayaks. Classic wank, all shapes and sizes. Betty's house is endearingly cluttered. You simply can't reach eighty without amassing a lot of useless shit. [I haven't too much useless shit myself, one of the benefits of having been deported - you get to start re-amassing. You also get to play a fun game of 'will they, won't they' at immigration.]


Making the ascension to Betty's loft along with the drawing desk was an evil office chair and some carpentry tools, purchased a week before quitting the carpentry biz for something less useful. My disdain for that chair remains pure. Not just because it was lime green and effectively produced scoliosis, I took issue with its character. I would have sold the chair but my Benjamin Buttonness restricts my pragmatic dealings. Betty wondered in a manner so polite I can only aspire to, if she might keep the chair downstairs, instead of the loft. "Betty please believe me when I tell you I hate this chair with a passion, keep it. "But it looks brand new?" "No, no. That's just because a witch has cursed it." I assured her. Five extremely British minutes of not accepting each other's offer ensued but eventually I won and Betty accepted the piece of shit.


I threw the rest of my crap into a dark corner of her loft then helped her build a seven foot high shelf unit which belonged in a scrap yard. Somewhat serious I told Betty to carefully place nothing heavier than a dandelion, unless she enjoyed playing a life-sized game of Buckeroo with rusty metal and plywood. "Marvellous" she said. "Betty, it's structurally dishonest mate." She assured me I could relax as it's just for things. "So Jake, what are your plans for the rest of the day?" "To be honest Betty, I've already accomplished more than I hoped." She looked at me in awe. "You Salvietto's always have something brilliant to say." "Clearly you haven't spent much time with my brothers."


I found the other Two Betty's through the house share site SpareRoom.co.uk. On it you can amend your search criteria, for location, facilities, furniture and all things practical. So naturally, I just searched for London and narrowed it down by putting 'dog' in the keywords. This is how I ended up living in Streatham. Or St Reatham - if you're a twat. It neighbours Brixton and shares all of the negatives & none of the positives. I live with an eccentric hippy and her Cocker Spaniel. She claims I'm breaking the first term of my tenancy agreement by abandoning them. #1 Be nice to Betty. She's heartbroken but I'm sure they'll find a new lodger willing to be contractually obligated to a dog.


I knew the housing crisis was bad when I moved out of a Watford rental last year, we had 150 applicants in less than a week and that is in fucking Watford. You can double that for London. SpareRoom genuinely sent an email out to their users titled Why The Rental Market Is Screwed. Viewing a flat now is worse than going on a hinge date. It's way easier to justify rejection when the superficial reason is based on looks instead of a hesitancy to disclose toilet paper consumption. The parallels are unnerving. It's not you it's me. Or I'm not considering guys who still live with their mum. And even If only we met before Tim showed up. Tim is a fucking cat. A fucking cat who lives two streets over.


The perils of post-pandemic London SpareRoom are dire and foreboding. The housing crisis is as iconic and permanent a London fixture as 10 Downing Street, only with a greater history and party support. This undeniable shit storm means even the Tories have started to shift their long held disbelief these issues are an issue. Though not enough to displace "Small boats" on of Rishi's '5 key campaign pledges' for fear of losing votes. I did think this might give the left some political ammo until I found out Labour's faceless tube of Webbox chub Sir Keir Starmer also neglected to make housing one of his. In reality these are just 5 things they must pretend to promise to consider they won't immediatley fuck off the moment they're elected. Curiously, nobody has ever fucked off a key priority after losing an election.


Fuck the party system. As if the best way to run a country was introduced in 1707 -that's two Jack The Rippers ago. It requires certain personality traits not synonymous with intelligence and decency to want to be a political figure. People actually capable of running a country don't seek public humiliation or (in extremely rare cases) praise. So I am forced to conclude that elite politicians are sexually aroused by public humiliation. How else do you explain politicians wanting to eat alligator dick on ITV prime time? Their masochistic career trajectory goes largely unnoticed as the most efficient way to fail in a broken system is to thrive in it. Regression looks like progression. Clearly I have long given up and the only pisser about leaving the UK now is that I'll be helping the Tories get one closer to their net migration target.


An average viewing:


Keen to not live in a hostel when I arrive in New Zealand I joined their answer to Spareroom - Roomies. I phoned a landlady who liked my cavalier profile. Handsome degenerate seeks private Guinness fridge and communal spice rack. She kept asking about my drinking habits and I assured her that my drinking was romantic, mostly spent writing in the dark corners of smelly taverns. She said "Oh I go to one of those taverns once a month to meet my friend Janice." I joked she might have a drinking problem but she assured me otherwise. She asked me about drugs repeatedly to the point I was offended. Listen lady, you didn't catch me off guard the first four times.


In fact, the landlady seemed super nice right up until she asked if I "Was into boyfriends or girlfriends." I thought she must be referring to the 'Rainbow Friendly' icon on my Roomies account. I said I was straight and just assumed the friendly part meant that you were happy to live with anyone. "Oh good," She said, sounding relieved "because we wouldn't want any of that in this house." I immediately ask questions but there's an awkward silence as I forget to open my mouth for the first couple. "What the fuck made her think I was this type of bastard?" And "Gays bloody love cleaning, who wouldn't wanna live with them?" Finally I ask a question using the voice outside my head "What about the little rainbow icon in your own profile?" She -fuck it -Melanie, simply replied "Oh y'know, woke liberals." I did know liberals, luckily I was raised by them. I wouldn't say I had woke parents growing up as back then they were known as socialists. Woke is a term appropriated from black people to describe white people who think the appropriation of black culture is wrong.

Ashamedly polite, I turned Melanie down on her $250 a week nazi boutique. She seemed surprised. "But you're not into boyfriends?" Artfully dodging the G word as though she might catch AIDS by saying it aloud. "Or arseholes" I respond, instinctively knowing Melanie is the type of person more offended by an anus than a hate crime. People who are offended by swear words in public are the type of cunts who go on racist or homophobic rants in private. 'Mad to think I almost moved in with someone who would tolerate such vile behaviour' she must have whispered to Janice down the Cottage Inn. What a dystopian nightmare for a fascist. Gays walk openly in 'our' streets and people like Melanie have to meet in the dark corners of bars once a month, hoping their neighbours don't see them.


I know empathy with the LGBT community as although I didn't have to come out as gay, I did have to come in as straight. Raised by hippies in an uber-liberal house-hold I know the struggles of having the wrong sexual orientation thrust upon you. I believe in most cases it would be morally wrong to assume an infant's sexuality but in the case of my brother common sense took charge. If Elton John started contracting queeriods, got wheeled down to the Queens hospice, and gave birth to a baby in a sequin handbag, that baby would be my brother.


I was born only 15 months after Placenta, Queen of the desert. So we had a shared upbringing, in a shared bedroom. In my Mums' defence to all this my brother and I would certainly keep them guessing. Sure I played football every waking hour but on the days she needed us stored in the same location we would play dress-up. Performing drag renditions of Gloria Gaynor songs - normal lad stuff. My love of mud and football proved a logistical problem to a mum juggling care work and university. So accidentally on purpose mum would nudge me away from football to join drama classes with my brother. Usually when a parent is worried about their child's sexuality they send them to bible camp not drama club. "But mum I wanna play football" I'd wine while wearing a wig from our dressing up box but she was too stuck in her liberal ways to listen. You've not finished your drag homework she'd yell. I'm a Gooner mother, I am what I am.



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