Goldberg looked out from beneath the brow of his denim sunhat and quietly contemplated the Adriatic. In the very periphery of his twenty-twenty vision he saw that the tranny had just arrived for breakfast. Delicately adjusting the low slung hat, pulling the brim a fraction further over deep-set eyes, he had ever more the air of a man entered into a conspiracy with himself.
The dining terrace was already buzzing with activity. Shards of sunlight cut through the blinds and canopies, drawing acute triangles of heat and light across the floors and starched white tablecloths. Olive-skinned staff went to and fro between the tables delivering pots of tea and coffee to the guests, some of whom appeared to be doing a far better job than others of coming to terms with the whole business of being awake, alive, anew, atop the ski-run of yet another day in their many indifferent lives.
Goldberg took up his newspaper and permitted himself another look. She wore a lilac blouse, a white chiffon scarf twirled once around her neck before sweeping down between breasts the ampleness of which she could only imagine. Her skirt, a knee-length number with lace trim, served only to accentuate the workman-like musculature of her legs, stacked on top of some wildly ambitious heels. Where others present looked as though they’d fallen out of bed onto the awaiting chairs, she alone had the appearance of having come direct from yet another gala luncheon.
He found himself wondering why it was that gentlemen drawn to transvestism, however tender their years, felt compelled to dress, decorate and upholster themselves in the style of women with at least three children behind them, and not much to look forward to beyond the next Felicity Cummings novel.
Her make-up was a masterpiece of over-compensation. Alongside lashings of concealer, blusher and eyeshadow, her strawberry red lips were drawn into an exaggerated purse, by which she looked as though she was forever on the brink of taking umbrage at some mischievous remark. In spite of it all, an ominous shadow still fell over the lower portion of her face, the likes of which no razor could remove, nor foundation conceal.
Goldberg had first spied her at dinner the evening he arrived; she was fingering a prawn and dressed for bingo. It was buffet service – Goldberg loathed buffets – and he was already smarting at a reprimand from a Cretan waiter per se the fact that he was wearing a pair of shorts; as if it were possible to apply a dress code to an all-you-can-eat dinner service. It had only exacerbated his indignation to note that the tranny was sporting a pair of chartreuse yellow culottes, apparently without reproach.
At the time she’d been wearing a pair of hoop earrings you could have dunked a basketball through, conceived no doubt to deflect attention away from her broad shoulders and prosaic neckline. Today a pair of tapering silver shards flashed and flickered in the morning sun, in concert with the gentle bobbing of her Adam’s apple as she ordered breakfast.
Methinks, thought Goldberg wryly, the lady doth protest too much.
Regular readers of my blog may have noticed that it's been a while since I posted anything of substance, or born of any real endeavour. That's because I've been busy creating Goldberg, who I'd promised to unveil to a few of you once he was ready.
The Learned Mr James Scudamore, a trusted friend and published novelist, advised me against pursuing my plan to publish an entire first chapter, on the basis that any feedback I received - good or bad - would distract me from the more pressing business of writing chapters 2, 3, 12, 19 etc.
As such, I decided to put these opening few paragraphs out there, and will be largely disregarding any feedback I receive, unless it comes in the form of earnest encouragement to press ahead.
Those of you who know me well, among whose ranks I count myself, will now be watching with interest to see if Goldberg ever makes another appearance, or if he becomes yet another casualty of my congenital inability to stick to one particular task.
Whatever the case, he has become another creation of mine of whom I am already peculiarly fond, and, for the time being at least, continues to serve as a very satisfying outlet for my urge to write, and to fantasize.
This was taken at the start of the Neil Diamond gig Ems and I went to on Saturday night at the O2 Arena. You should be able to click on it to get the full size photo. It's just a camera phone picture, and you can't really get a sense of the size of the 15,000-strong crowd, but the moment was electric, and I think that comes across somehow.
At 67 it's just incredible how well-preserved Diamond's voice is, and how energised a performance he gives. Ems and I have also seen both Elton John and Brian Wilson perform live in the last couple of years, but this was the stand-out gig for us. We both grew up listening to Neil Diamond, but neither of us had realised what an incredible showman he is.
The O2 Arena itself (formerly the Millenium Dome) is a great venue for live music, although maybe it's testimony to Diamond that he managed to make such a huge space feel so intimate. The concert area is encircled by a complex of bars, clubs, restaurants, shops and even a cinema, all of which looks slightly like something out of crap seventies sci-fi, especially when its populated by 15,000 Neil Diamond fans all trying to roll back the years.
I have some other photos, but I need to get them into Photoshop before I post them. I'll try and add them as an update over the next day or two.
These two photos ought to tell the story of a pretty perfect Saturday. An afternoon at the Natural History Museum...
...followed by an evening in the garden preparing lovely fresh mackerel, barbecued and served up with some of that pak choi you can see growing in the background, seasoned thai-style and wok-fried by the infinitely versatile Mrs Light.
I love days like these, full of things that come naturally. I hope I can raise my kids to appreciate them as much as I do, and I hope they have the opportunity.
These are just some of the lovely flavoursome beauties I plucked from my patch last night, mixed up into a wonderful salad along with thinning from five varieties of lettuce and served within thirty minutes of leaving the ground.
Cracking episode of Hackney Garden on the way, showing the extent of my kitchen garden goodness, just as soon as I manage to find one of the several hundred firewire cables currently hidden around our home.