Excerpt from the novel DO NOT LAUGH AT THE NATIVES, now available on Kindle from Amazon at £1. 99p - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Do-Not-Laugh-Natives-Picaresque-ebook/dp/B07RRL75PY/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=do+not+laugh+at+the+natives&qid=1557738609&s=digital-text&sr=1-1-catcorr&fbclid=IwAR3cjRH_gcYptZfFZQmdvzV-85XmEWTI-AVKJcXsZkt4hDLIbn8RsbdjLb8
Mike, the narrator and main protagonist of the novel, is a rent-boy who has fallen in love with one of his 'co-workers', Dougie. In this chapter, they have both been invited out for dinner, by one of their very rich clients.
Dougie and I had been invited out for dinner by Paul, one of our more generous clients. Paul was a banker, like Dougie’s father, and also an investment consultant - a real mover and shaker in financial circles. I didn’t know much about the world of high finance, but I did know that Paul was a very important figure in it. He was, after all, an advisor at G8 summits and was raking in millions a year, as was confirmed by the fact that he lived in a large mansion-house in Kensington with rather capacious gardens.
We arrived in my new Jaguar coupé and were received by a butler, who very respectfully announced us by our full names as we entered the lounge. Once inside, I observed a strikingly beautiful young man about my own age, some five-foot eight inches tall, slender in build and elegant in his deportment. He had flaxen blonde shoulder-length hair and an ease of manner somewhat reminiscent of Dougie himself. The young man was introduced to us as Paul’s son, Simon. He put forward an elegant , if limp-wristed, hand for us to shake, almost as if he expected us to kiss it. I was tempted, but the thought that it wouldn’t go down very well, made me rein in the impulse. Nevertheless, he raised certain questions in my mind about Paul’s past, which I was curious to satisfy. Was Paul another married man who liked guys on the side? Or perhaps a divorcee? I seemed to have met them all in my time. After a while, a slim elegantly dressed middle-aged woman entered the room, kissed Paul on the cheek and affectionately embraced Simon. My curiosity mounted. She was finally introduced to us as Pamela, Paul’s quondam wife and the mother of Simon.
Some more guests were announced who didn’t excite so much interest in me. Their announcement was followed by that of a “Mr. Abdul Bashir”. I was expecting an overweight Middle-East oil-merchant, but was pleasantly surprised to see an attractive young teenager, who I was later to learn was the son of a - probably overweight - Middle-East oil-merchant. He was certainly the most agreeable person I had encountered so far. Even before I started to speak to him, he constantly smiled at me in the most unforced of ways, even winking on occasion from amongst those he was talking to. When we did start to speak, he kept smiling and putting his arms around my shoulders in the most affectionate manner, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. I asked him what he was doing in Britain, and he said he was studying English at a summer-school here. I told him his English was already very good and again he smiled in that unforced way he had and said thank you.
“Why can’t British people be more like him?” I thought.
He asked me what I did for a living.
“Oh, I provide an important service for bankers and other people of wealth.” I said, and, to avoid having to answer more questions, I switched the subject of the conversation round to whether or not he intended to return to Kuwait at the end of his course.
“No.” he said. “I go to Italy to buy a Ferrari.”
“One up on my Jaguar coupé.” I thought, but he had so sweet a manner that I couldn’t hold that against him.
Abdul, it must be said, was not normally my type, because he didn’t have muscles, and the reader knows just how much I get off on muscles, be they on women or men; but I found his manner so enormously attractive that I was quite willing to forgive him his absence of muscles and have sex with him, should the occasion arise.
Four members of a well-known pop-group were announced, followed by a prominent New Labour politician, who had been tipped as a future Prime-Minister. As it was a beautiful evening, it was suggested that we all take a stroll on the spacious back lawn. We were served glasses of sherry or wine along with canapés. It was curious to observe the behaviour of the waiters while they were serving us. They had obviously been hired for the occasion and no doubt told to keep their eyes lowered and never look at anyone directly. I had heard of such behaviour among the staff at Buckingham Palace, but this is the first time I had observed it in the flesh. Jack’s cleaning-lady, for example, always spoke on the most familiar terms with us in the flat. But then, Jack was a Marxist, so he was bound to indulge the proletariat somewhat. I wanted to engage these waiters in conversation, but I realised that that would have been against protocol, and so I was simply polite and said nothing. But - call me a snob - I couldn’t help thinking:
“So this is the new aristocracy, is it? Pop-singers, New Labour politicians, rent-boys, bankers and the delightful scions of - probably overweight - Middle East oil-merchants? Just how would Proust have depicted them?”
More guests were announced. Another politician - one of those unbearably patronising New Labour women - a thirty-something pop star, a ‘famous’ poet, who happened to be a Professor of Poetry at a prestigious university, and was therefore, for some strange reason I could never quite fathom, highly regarded as a poet. I’d actually read some of his poems - clever, erudite stuff, but little in the way of word-music or loaded images to grab you. Hubert often spoke of the need for more physicality and sensuousness in poetry, and this poet was the kind whose work wasn’t physical or sensuous at all; it was the sort of poetry, Hubert had said, which Professors of Poetry, who’d always been cosseted from the vagaries of physical and sensuous life, invariably wrote.
I began to compare these guests with Dr Cottard, Madame Verdurin, Swann, the Duchesse de Guermantes and Monsieur de Charlus. But the comparison, I thought, was unfair to Proust’s wonderful characters; for the thing that occurred to me most about these people was their blandness. They were simply examples of the homogenisation which contemporary society seems so bent on promoting.
“You’d never encounter a Monsieur de Charlus amongst this lot.” I thought. “And anyway, I suspect that under New Labour, he’d be declared persona non grata and ostracised from decent society on behalf of some inane politically-correct principle.”
While dwelling on the guests in this way, I suddenly became aware that Dougie was hitting it off very well with Simon, and a pang of jealousy went through me.
“Perhaps I should start flirting with Abdul,” I said to myself, “to see if I can make Dougie jealous as well.”
It didn’t work, of course. As the evening wore on, the chemistry between Dougie and Simon grew stronger. Not only that, but they were both completely oblivious of me.
The butler appeared on the lawn and announced “Dinner is served.” in a very stentorian voice and we all made our way back into the house and took our places around a rather large dining-table. To my dismay, I was sat next to the New Labour woman and the thirties-something pop-star, who expatiated on the joys of living in a baronial mansion.
“I’ll bet his servants aren’t allowed to look him in the eye.” I said to myself.
Dougie and Simon were sat next to each other on the other side of the table a few places along. I could see clearly the body-language between them, but could not hear what they said. I was beginning to feel really pissed off; so much so in fact that, when the New Labour woman asked me what I did for a living, I threw caution to wind and said,
“I’m a high-class rent-boy.”
Her manner suddenly stiffened and she went on about doing something constructive for Britain.
“The only people doing anything constructive for Britain right at the moment” I said, “are the miserably-off workers in China and India.” Then I continued, “I am an integral part of the service-economy you have been so assiduous in promoting. I do my bit to keep the wheels of the world turning no less than politicians or bankers. Besides,” I went on, somewhat mischievously, “I probably earn a lot more than you do.”
Perhaps this was considered a truth too far for her, for she didn’t speak to me again for the rest of the evening. And since the thirties-something pop-star had little to say, I kept silent and glowered at Dougie and Simon for the remainder of the meal. Of course, they were so absorbed in each other, that they hardly noticed the vibes I transmitted.
It being a warm evening still, after dinner everyone repaired to the lawn again. Abdul had been buttonholed by another of the guests and I wandered from group to group at a loose end. I could see Dougie and Simon were still absorbed in each other, but I was feeling rather less jealous now, having persuaded myself that the chemistry between them was no more than sexual. After all, they were both very attractive; why shouldn’t they go off and have sex with each other? I wandered to the group where our future Prime-Minister was defending a new raft of anti-terrorist laws.
“We must defend our people from the terrorist threat.” he was saying, as he stabbed his index-finger at someone’s imaginary chest. “The country will never forgive us if we don’t take this threat seriously. We must curtail liberty to preserve our security.”
I thought back to Hubert’s arguments about the state as protection-racket and smiled to myself. But all I said in reply was:
“But that is the argument put forward by every would-be dictator. In fact, I could quote Hermann Goering on that very subject.”
He retorted vehemently,
“But we are only trying to preserve our democratic way of life which the terrorists envy and want to destroy. This has nothing to do with setting up a dictatorship and it is scandalous to suggest it.”
I pointed out that if we hadn’t invaded Iraq, all this curtailing of liberty to defend our security might not be necessary. After all, the targeted countries - Spain, Britain, Australia - had all taken part in the war, had they not?
“Would you have had us sit on our hands while a tyrant oppressed his people?” he replied. “We had to go into Iraq to get rid of that tyrant and establish democracy. It was the only moral thing we could do.”
“Don’t you mean chaos?” I said.
To which he replied that it was all the fault of the sectarian militias and militant Islamists that chaos existed.
“We can’t abandon Iraq in her hour of peril.” he continued, “How will History judge us if we do?”
“Ah, History.” I thought. “The nightmare we’re all trying escape from.”
“And you know who’s behind it all? Iran.” he went on. “That’s who’s behind it, which is why we have to resist.”
“So it’s not a new form of colonialism, after all” I replied. “Nor are you in any way responsible for the chaos and violence which presently exists there?”
“Certainly not.” he replied. “That, as I’ve said, is all the fault of the Iranian-backed insurgents. And anyway, the old colonialism was not half as bad as people have painted it. Its influence at least was a civilizing one.”
I suppose I could have made a clever retort about “the white man’s burden and all that” but I knew there was no point in continuing the discussion further. Moreover, I just couldn’t help but feel that such people were loathsome, and, if I continued to listen, some of that loathsomeness would rub off onto me. Therefore, I politely took my leave and wandered over to eavesdrop on Paul, who was holding forth on the investment opportunities that would open up if Iran was invaded. I liked Paul. At least he didn’t pretend to a morality he didn’t possess.
Soon the first guests began to leave and I only stayed on because Abdul was there, and I hoped that we might end up going home together. It was obvious that Dougie would be staying the night at the house with Simon, so there was no point in waiting for him. Abdul was still smiling and winking at me as he was talking to the man who’d accosted him an hour or so earlier. I hung around until I could see he was free and then I went up to him and said I was going and, if he wanted a lift anywhere, my Jaguar coupé was outside in the drive. He accepted, and, when we had finally taken our leave and got in the car, I asked if he wanted to come back to my place for coffee. He agreed and then, to my surprise, put his arm round my shoulder, leant over and kissed me.
“I’ve been wanting to do that all evening.” he said, “But that bore detained me. I think he was hoping to get into my pants.”
I asked him where he learnt such good English.
“Television in Kuwait.” he replied. “I picked up my English by watching American films. I only came here to learn how to spell.”
Well, what do you think? We went back to my room at Jack’s and had sex, went to sleep and had sex again in the morning. For the first time in my life, I got off on a body that was almost as smooth and soft as my own.
After breakfast, I took Abdul to his summer-school and drove on to Paul’s to pick up Dougie. When I arrived, I was greeted by the butler and shown into the living-room, where Dougie and Simon were sitting together on a sofa with their arms around one another. I was disappointed, of course, but I acted as naturally as I could and said “Good Morning” to both of them as if nothing were up. I wanted to be away from there as quickly as possible, so that I could continue to pretend to myself that I’d misread their body-language the previous evening, but it was becoming increasingly difficult. I asked Dougie if he was ready to go, and he said he was. He got up, pulled Simon to his feet, embraced him, and kissed him very forcefully on the lips. Simon passionately clung to Dougie and allowed himself to be lifted up in the air by Dougie’s much stronger embrace. My impatience grew with my jealousy and I just wanted to be out of there. I turned on my heels and walked towards the door, then turned round again. They were still kissing. Then Dougie put Simon down and said.
“I have to go now, but call me this evening. I can’t wait to see you again.”
That last sentence stuck in my craw; he’d never said anything like that to me in the past. I was finding it increasingly hard to contain myself, but I managed and by the time we got outside together, I had regained at least some of my former composure. We got in the car and hardly said anything to each other on the journey back to West Ken., I for reasons which will be obvious to the reader, Dougie because all he could think of was Simon.