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A Sense of Loss
"Accomplished, literate, dignified, deeply felt"
"an excellent book"       "highly recommended"       
reviews
Published: 1993



My first collection of short stories, published by Gay Men's Press and all with a gay theme. As the blurb has it:



A counterpoint of different voices each with a ring of authority. Some reflect the shifting kaleidoscope of gay reality in Britain today: the sexual compulsion of Room With No View, the high-enery rhythm of Discotheque - Four Voices or the cynical manipulation of Simon's Dinner Party. Others take us to wider horizons - to Brazil and off into landscape of allegory and myth.


The title story - spoken by the silent youth in Thomas Mann's (and Luchino Visconti's) Death in Venice - later became the one-man play Tadzio Speaks . . . . Four of the stories became one-man/one-woman plays and are available as playscripts: Angel and Californian Lives (comprising Los Feliz, Ben and Joe's and Sunset).



Ganymede


It was Sergio who told Renato about the many foreigners in Rio, those who had made it their home and those who only came to spend three or four weeks on a wild and riotous holiday. They
A Sense of Loss by Martin Foreman

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were tall, blond and attractive men who liked to laugh and drink and who could spend more money in an evening than either Sergio or Renato earned in a month. Those who liked boys could be found on the beach in front of the big white Copacabana Palace Hotel by day and at the pavement tables of the Galeria Alaska by night. When they took a fancy to a young Brazilian they would give him presents of money and jewellery and clothes. And occasionally a gringo would fall so much in love that he would take his new friend back to Europe or the United States and the two of them would live happily together like brothers or like father and son.



Discotheque - Four Voices


On, on. Door opens, light, music, life explodes. I leap up, touch ceiling, stretch out arms and legs and land. I am alive. I twist, I turn. Around me people stand and talk and drink and walk and look at each other and they're dull and drab and dreary. Not everybody. That gold cape, gold hair, gold face. He is trying, but he has buried himself. He does not have style, he does not have life. That girl does, however, that girl who laughs and looks at me. And there is John, with his back to me, same jeans, same stance, same thick curly hair. Then he turns and and I see and I know and I remember that John is dead, that John will always be dead.


It is a vast cavern, another world. The Gods shine down on us, play for us, call to us. This is eternity, I can stay here forever. I can dance and dance and learn to fly. Here, where we move and live and laugh and cry, is where I belong. We are the warriors come to celebrate, to dance the dance of life, the dance of death. I am the chief come to sacrifice, the virgin come to die.



Simon's Dinner Party


I was thinking of going to the cinema but didn't fancy going on my own, when Richard phoned up with Simon's invitation. Two hundred pounds if I'd go to his dinner party and stay the night - and no extras if I didn't want to. I wasn't sure I believed Richard, especially when talking about that amount of money, but he said I'd seen Simon a couple of weeks before and made such an impression that he was desperate to have me back. I couldn't think who Simon was at first, then I remembered an oldish guy with a round reddish face who lived in a big house in Hampstead; all he'd really wanted was a kiss and a cuddle.


Richard gave me the address again and said he'd been invited too, along with someone called Gary, who worked for him like me but who I hadn't met before. There were going to be two or three others there as well, friends of Simon's that Richard didn't know. It'd be a lot more pleasant than the usual jobs, he told me, and the money was certainly nothing to sneeze at.


Two hundred pounds, I thought as I lay in the bath. Half of it would go straight into the bank and the rest... I'd probably buy a couple of shirts and tapes and a meal out and the money would be gone. It sounded like a lot but it wasn't. Well, maybe there'd be another Simon along soon.



The Benefactor


You've been here before, haven't you? We're south of the Thames on a Friday evening, in a pub where the music is loud and the clientele gay. You probably know these three standing with their backs to the bar. They're in their twenties, single and solvent. There's Steve, all five foot six of him, sells jewellery in Bond Street and dreams of the day when a young and handsome millionaire will walk in and sweep him off his feet. The tall one's Adrian, tired after ten hours hunting down a computer virus that insisted on giving each of a bank's customers several thousand pounds; a little older than Steve, he's successful at work but haunted by the suspicion that life is passing him by. Lastly, there's Derek, whose resemblance to the boy in the latest Levi's ad is more than coincidence; he's just been made manager of a pizza restaurant and he's been calculating, with the help of a few drinks, how long it will take him to start his own chain.


This gathering is a weekly ritual, an opportunity for each to unwind. They arrive here about eight and after a couple of hours drift apart to pursue their separate fantasies. In the meantime they talk, as tonight, about men. Partly because it's all they have in common, but mostly because the topic is endless and never dull. This evening they have rated all of those around them, with some humour, little generosity and even less discretion. Yet somehow they have missed the most imposing figure, the one who stands, without a glass, a few feet away. He's middle-aged, dressed in a black that is more anonymous than a uniform, and for the last few minutes has been staring at them intently.



Oblivion


I dropped anchor a hundred yards from shore, weary yet reluctant to be near land once more. I do not know how long I had been at sea. Weeks certainly, months perhaps. Sailing slowly round Africa, I had glimpsed the continent from afar but never wanted to approach; there was pain there and I bore too much pain of my own


I had last docked in an Asian port where the gleaming yachts of the rich turned their backs to the juggernauts of commerce strung out along the opposite shore. My barque with its triple masts and yards of rigging was out of place, a symbol of values and origins that my neighbours could not identify. But, when I wish, I am courteous and for a time I was welcome as quiet host and thoughtful guest. There is, after all, a common language in such places - the grammar of wealth, the vocabulary of currency and commodity, the accents of clothing and custom. But I soon tired of self-absorbed businessmen, their middle-aged wives and uncertain and arrogant children. And so one night, on impulse, I pushed back from the pier, slid out into the sound and hoisted sail in the shadow of a passing tanker.




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