This piece was improvised on Twitter over the course of an evening. Beyond that, I don’t quite know how to introduce it.
My spirit animal is a whale. It’s the size of an Airbus, it has gin for blood and there’s a tap in its side.
It doesn’t live in the sea like most whales. It floats in the ionosphere somewhere and hoves obligingly into view when I’m thirsty.
Its name is Kirsty. Actually, I don’t give a shit what its name is. ‘Kirsty’ just rhymes with ‘thirsty’, so I use that.
‘Get down here, goddamit. Didn’t I tell you never to keep me waiting? Three words, Kirsty: “Japanese research vessel”.’
I makes for a real conversation starter. I disappear into the garden, there’s a bit of tinkling and a big, bleary eye appears at the window.
‘Christ almighty!’ a guest will say in amusement.
‘It’s all right,’ the children explain. ‘It’s just Kirsty, Daddy’s magic gin whale.’
‘Ah,’ I say, rejoining the company with an airy laugh, lightly redolent of gin and cetacean sputum. ‘I see you’ve met Kirsty.’
‘I rescued her from Sea World, you know.’
‘Bless you,’ someone will say.
‘Oh, yes. Kirsty was different, you see. She didn’t belong.’
‘People can be heartless. But here, Kirsty is valued for what she is: a gigantic vascular system awash with Tanqueray. Bottoms up.’
And children–children can be so unkind. I’ll be in the car park at the supermarket, and some merciless little monster will point and laugh.
‘What?’ I will demand, rolling down the window. ‘Can’t a chap have a drink in peace in the sanctity of his own Jaguar? Off with you!’
‘Sorry, sir,’ they snivel. ‘Only–the whale, sir. Floating over your car, it is. Big as you like.’
I’m paraphrasing somewhat, of course.
‘Beautiful, isn’t she? And when you’re older, if you work hard, you can enslave a magical booze-laden leviathan of your own. Now fuck off.’
‘Stay in school!’ I add civic-mindedly, tossing a playful bottle of Scweppe’s tonic at the back of his receding head. Ah, youth.
Of course, then it becomes a Police Matter and all of a sudden I’m ‘that guy who sleeps in his car at Tesco’.
How dare they? I do not sleep in my car, I *was* asleep in my car. Briefly. There’s a difference.
I mean, I’d had a trying morning. They keep moving the truffle oil and the fabric softener. And then the stupid whale took *ages*.
‘Kirsty! Where the hell have you been? I’ve been standing here for twenty bloody minutes. Here, fill this Lenor measure. *Fill*, I said.’
‘I’ve a good mind to ground you for a month, Kirsty. Only I’d have all those carnies and marine biologists eating me out of house and home.’
‘Have you been running around behind my back, Kirsty? You have, haven’t you? Who is it? Some sheik? A Russian oligarch?’
‘What has he promised you, Kirsty? Your own moorings over Knightsbridge? An escort of F-16s? It’s lies, Kirsty. Lies.’
‘So what, he has a Premiership team and a Louis Vuitton gun rack in his Bentley? He doesn’t love you, Kirsty. Not like I occasionally do.’
‘All right, so I don’t ‘love’ you. What is ‘love’, anyway? The question has eluded our greatest minds. And Howard Jones.’
‘And I know I’ve said things, Kirsty. Terrible things. I’ve been a pig. No no, please–I have. I’ve been unspeakable. And you–‘
‘You came and gave without taking. Oh, Kirsty.’
‘Look, I’m just a boy standing in front of a whale, asking her to give him a lifetime supply of gin.’
‘You–you make me want to be a better man, Kirsty. Well, strictly speaking, you make me believe, with gin, that I *am* a better man.’
‘But you have a gift, Kirsty. Or you give me gifts. Whatever. The point is, don’t throw it all away. We can be happy. I can, anyway.’
‘Kirsty! Where are you going? You haven’t logged a flight plan! Kirsty! Heathrow is fog-bound! They’ll scramble fighters!’
‘Kirsty! Don’t go to London! It’s all fires and plagues and Pret A Manger! Plus, they’re still jittery about their airspace.’
‘Kirsty! Come back, you gigantic trollop! I will find you! I’ll use GPS. I’ll hire a grizzled sea captain. Kirstaaay!’
‘Right, this calls for an airport dash montage sequence.’
‘Taxi! Taxi! Oh, thank God.’
‘Airport, please. My whale’s gone to London and I’ve just realised I adore her. No, my *whale*. Where’s your minibar?’
‘What? What kind of limousine doesn’t have a minibar? Pull over at this Spar. No, wait. Don’t pull over. Why aren’t you taking the M50?’
‘Look, what’s your name? ‘A wreck’? Oh, Arek. Look, Arek, I’m a sick man, so I will be relying on your professionalism and discretion.’
‘Well, you’re a man of the world, Arek. I’m sure I don’t have to–can I be sick in this gym bag? Well, what *can* I use, then?’
‘Look, stop being so uptight. If you kept an orderly cab, there’d be a Moët bucket and I could be sick like a gentleman. Light! Red light!’
‘Well, excuse me for being preoccupied with our safety. So it was a dashboard light. I erred on the side of caution. Jesus. Smoke?’
‘What do you mean I can’t–look, Arek, I’m not sure you understand. I’m a man burdened by terrible passions. I’m very fragile, Arek.’
‘There’s no drinks service, I can’t smoke and the only thing I’ve ever loved is showing up on radar over the Isle of Man.’
‘And what is this appalling music? Why does that cyborg keep shrieking about titanium? Just meet her demands, for God’s sake. Next exit!’
‘Okay, that was the exit for the M4. You’re the driver. I just saw a plane, so I thought–it was a seagull? Jesus. An albatross, more like.’
‘And why are you driving so slowly, Arek? It’s like being in a slow-motion crash test video. I need some Valium. Do you have Valium?’
‘Oh, for Christ’s sake, Arek. What are you, a nun? I have a prescription, you know. I think you’ll find it’s quite in order.’
‘Some Tramadol, then? No? A Solpadeine? Oh, for the love of–I’m trapped in a Skoda with my unsalved agony and a young Karol Wojtyla.’
‘What? Oh, are we here? Oh, thank God. I’m so glad it’s you here with me, Arek, at the end of all things. Now, let me write you a cheque.’
‘I mean €55, Arek. Who carries around cash like that? Kerry Katona? Triad gangs? The very idea. Whom shall I make it out to?’
‘Look, fine. I’ll sleep with you at the airport Radisson. Or in the toilets. That’s what you want, isn’t it? Let’s get this over with.’
‘Arek! Wait! I never got to thank you properly. What a strange, confused young man. Now, then. Porter! My bags!’
‘First class to London Heathrow, if you please, madam. A large, misguided whale is blundering towards SW7 and there may still be time.’
‘I beg your pardon. No, a *misguided whale*. No, I don’t have information about a ‘specific threat’. Why are you being so intense?’
‘Madam. I have had an immensely tedious day. I simply require you to furnish me with my ticket and perhaps some complimentary champagne.’
‘How can you ‘need’ me to ‘calm down’? What a dismal locution. I am, in any event, the very soul of tranquility. Ah, security. Splendid.’
‘Look, this wretched harridan with the terracotta complexion is questioning my bona fides. Kindly–what is this? Unhand me at once!’
‘Do you know who I am? Actually, do you? Seriously. I’ve been going through a crazy time. I’m still kind of piecing things together.’
‘Will I have a cell to myself? I’m a light sleeper. Plus, I get night terrors. Ooh! Medical assessment! I demand to see a psychiatrist.’
‘And a proper psychiatrist too. One who knows what his prescription pad is for and isn’t all in your face about ‘drug-seeking behaviour’.’
‘Actually, there’s a chap I can recommend. Do you have a pen? He’s not exactly practising. Not since the jamboree killings.’
‘Hello? Hello? So rude. Oh, dear God. They make toilets out of *metal*?’
Like so many lovers throughout the ages, we are now sundered by captivity. Also species boundaries and most of Wales.
My days are tolerable, though they have sequestered me far from the sweet, fragrant air that is your element. I am not mistreated.
I am permitted my writing materials. And my Xena exercise DVD. These by the graces of a warden styling himself Mostly Dermot.
In the all the dark and seeping wretchedness of this place, Mostly Dermot nurtures a small votive light of kindliness. He has a budgie.
But Kirsty, my love. I must turn to darker things. At dawn, they shall take me out and put me to death by firing squad. Or instant coffee.
Whatever the bitterness of my fate, I shall meet it with a courage made diamond-hard by your immense weight over the aeons of our union.
The riflemen will loose their bolts. Or someone will bring me that awful cappuccino that looks like something cleaned off a seal.
At all events, the shadow will fall. And I will stand fast, my heart kindled to its last utterance of ardor. I might get slightly hard.
Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I shall feel only the darkening of your great comforts, always above me.
I am thinking of on the rocks and angels, the secret of durable pigtails. Prosthetic songstrels, the refuge of art.
And this is the only immortality that you and I may share, my Kirsty.