Thursday 5 July 2012

Being lesbian in Manchester

'She thinks we’re lesbians, you know,’ hissed Jane into my ear as we waited at the hotel check-in. 
‘So what?’ I hissed back, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear.
‘Stop it!’ said Jane.
‘Lovers’ tiff?’ I said with a suggestive raise of the eyebrow. ‘Followed by make-up sex?’
Jane growled.  The woman behind the desk handed me two brown paper bags. ‘Your friendship cookies,’ she said, with an approving smile and over-emphasis on the word friendship. 
‘Oh for heaven’s sake,’ said Jane in the lift. ‘What the fuck was that about? Friendship cookies? And why aren’t you wearing your wedding ring?’
‘I never do,’ I said simply. ‘It doesn’t fit. Anyhow.  Even if I did they’d just think we were married lesbians. Get over it.  And the friendship cookies are…cute.’

We walked out onto the top floor.  Penthouse area.  ‘Ooh, are we in the honeymoon suite?’
‘Probably,’ said Jane sourly.  ‘We appear to have been upgraded.’ 
‘Yippee,’ said I, bouncing on the vast bed.  Jane rolled her eyes.  ‘This just gets worse and worse.’

Let’s backtrack.  I, as you know, am broke, actually beyond broke but let’s not go there.  Hence I am Jane’s charity case.  Along with supporting various bona fide good causes, she undertakes to cheer my life up by sending me the occasional aid parcel of Jo Malone candles or taking me to gigs.  This time it was the Stones Roses in Manchester – and very amusing it was too.

Being Manchester and being summer it was pissing it down. ‘Haven’t you got any other clothes?’ said Jane, eyeing my small weekend bag (given to me by, yup, Jane).
‘I’ve got clean underwear and my toothbrush,’ I said.  ‘What else do I need?’ I pride myself on travelling light.
‘Er, you do know this gig is in a field, right?’
Well...sort of...
Oops.  I’d kinda assumed it would be in a stadium.  For pity’s sake, the last time I went to a gig in Manchester it was in the student union. I didn’t know Manchester even had fields.  I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans and sort of heeled boots and a skinny jacket (y’know, standard rock chick stuff).  Jane had sensible trainers, a hoodie and a mac.  ‘Oh, for God's sake. You’ll have to get a poncho,’ she said crossly.
‘Oh no.  No ponchos.’  I have photographic evidence of the last time I wore a poncho and it isn’t pretty.   Jane gave me ‘the look’ and bought a poncho.  
‘I’m not wearing it,’ I said.

Then the hail started falling. Scrub that, it didn’t fall – it sort of flung itself at us.  We ran for the bar.

(Okay, random thoughts about outdoor gigs.  Why don’t you cover the bar area?  In fact, why don’t you provide ANY sort of shelter for people who are foolish enough to wear normal clothes for your concerts?  And why don’t you sell the following things inside the perimeter fence: ponchos (or, preferably, something more aesthetic than a large piece of plastic); wellington boots; warm clothing; socks; furry hats, gloves?) 

What sensible people wore...
‘Right,' said Jane, firmly. 'I’ll have four gins and slim-line tonics, please.  What kind of gin do you have?’
The girl stared sideways at Jane as if waiting for her to crack into a gin. I mean, grin. 
‘Umm, we don’t have gin.’
‘Er, shall I tell you what we do have?’
It was pretty simple to see: lager, cider, Coke, some kind of alcopop and bottles of exceedingly dodgy looking wine. 
‘Oh just bloody great,’ said Jane as the hail lashed her back and she struggled with an umbrella and her purse. ‘Four bottles of red wine then.’  At which point two young guys, with cute open faces like puppies, snuggled up under the brolly and made her laugh. Well, it was pretty funny, four of us all desperately trying to keep out of the now horizontal lashing rain-cum-flying missiles. 

‘Will you put the fucking poncho on now, for the love of God,’ said Jane. I knew when I was beat.  But, riddle me this, how do you wrangle four bottles of wine, an umbrella, Jane’s capacious rucksack, my tiny shoulder bag, two adoring twenty-somethings AND a poncho when the ground is fast becoming a mud pool?  Which was when Jane started laughing…hard.  ‘Only you…’ she said, nearly snorting her wine. ‘Only you could get your head in the wrong bloody hole. Take the bloody thing off and start again – and you (prodding a boy-child) hold this.’

And so it went on really.  We watched the Wailers, we watched some guy I’d never heard of, we watched Liam Gallagher, we watched The Stone Roses.  We drank wine that made me wince at every sip. We got adored a ridiculous amount.  I tell ya, all you women who say you never meet blokes – go to a Stone Roses gig (or something similar). Seriously. It was about 80 percent men (admittedly all pissed out of their skulls and admittedly not all terribly attractive and admittedly all probably married with wives skipping around in joy at having off-loaded them for the day) but they were very male and they sure weren’t backwards in coming forwards, if you get my drift.  But not remotely in a predatory way – it was just very very funny.  And my ego blew a huge kiss to the guy who just gently touched my arm and said softly, ‘I have to tell you, you are absolutely gorgeous’ and then vanished into the crowd. 

‘See,’ I said to Jane. ‘They don’t think we’re lesbians. Not here.’
‘They’re too pissed to care,’ she said as some bloke unzipped himself and peed right in front of us. I had to concede she had a point – we could probably have been full-on snogging and they’d still have tried their luck. 
Back at the hotel, having dropped off our last orphans, a pair of lads from Runcorn (‘it’s the arsehole of the arsehole of the arsehole of Britain’ one of them said mournfully in the cab), we finally got to bed. 

‘Right,’ said Jane. ‘You stay right over there,’ pointing to the far left-hand corner of the vast bed. ‘And I’ll stay right over here.’
‘Look… relax,’ I said.  ‘I never move a muscle when I sleep and anyhow, I’m not going to jump you in the middle of the night.  Much as I love you.’
‘You never know,’ she said. ‘You might think I was someone else.’
I just sighed and switched off the light.  And slept…like any sensible lesbian. 

Oh, what was the gig like?  Yeah, alright...  :-)


Liz said...

Thanks for making me smile during a tough day/week/month!!!!

Liz x

Expat mum said...

He he he. I shared a bed with a good (female) friend a few weeks ago and wondered just what the porter thought as he took the cases up. Who cares though.

Frances said...

Did I ever tell you about when I saw The Doors, and that The Who were the warm up act and sort of broke the stage? Think you know I was at Woodstock?

Gosh, that was almost a lifetime ago. No way I would endure hail in a field now.

You are a brave woman, Jane.

Zoë said...

Sounds fabulous - wish I had a friend that would drag me away from reality every now and then.

I recall Ponchos too - I had this huge black one with a white frings, it looked more like a Victorian table covering (you know how they loved to hide the legs of everything in case it was erotic - even the legs of tables). Robyn wears one and manages to look very chic though!

Exmoorjane said...

@Liz - sorry to hear you're having a tough time - glad I raised a smile.

@EM - exactly!

@Frances - huh? You broke the stage? You hellraiser! Yup, I knew you were a Woodstock SIL too. :)

@ Zoe - yup, she's a diamond. Can imagine Robyn looks way chic in her poncho... and I quite like the sound of yours too. :)

F said...

I want to stay at a hotel with Friendship Cookies.

Unknown said...

Jane sounds fab. Let's take her dancing with us, ok?