Comfort

Let’s talk about feelings.

I didn’t write about my trip home to Ireland. It was fine, but I was glad to be back in London. In the last few weeks, I’ve had two fairly horrible pieces of family news that I’m not doing a great job of processing.

I got to London determined to get back into the swing of being London Connor. French Train Platform boy came over. Now that I have my own place and I have no shame, I took the opportunity to answer the front door to my lover completely naked to give him a nice surprise. In the movies that means it’s actually your mother-in-law at the door, but no. It was my Frenchman. And it was wonderful. I was thirsty for him. We were both urgent in our need for each other. It was our raw-est encounter since our first one. It was what I needed it to be.

But how could I pretend not to be having feelings once I sent my French boy away though? Work, of course! I’ve stayed in work more or less every day for the last two weeks until 8:00 pm. And, yes, I am busy at work. But I don’t need to be there quite that long.

I did have a great moment of catharsis. Where was that Connor? Perhaps you watched a play by Shakespeare or listened to a Beethoven symphony? Of course not. I had my great moment of emotional purging at an amateur musical based on the songs of Steps. Where else would it be? There I was, upstairs in a pub, surrounded by middle class gays and theatrical girls drinking wine all having a great time watching a group of eager amateur actors in the Camden Fringe Festival as they did the moves to “Last Thing on My Mind” and “Stomp” and “Better Best Forgotten”  and “One For Sorrow” and “Summer of Love”  and “5, 6, 7, 8” and I cried throughout. My eyes hurt from so many tears. I was like someone in a TV show who suffers a tragedy and is eerily fine with it all and then in the last scene breaks down crying over something totally unrelated and they finally let their feelings out. TV is real, you guys. If you don’t get upset at the right time, it’ll hit you later, when you least expect it. (Though I have to admit that I have enough self-awareness to know that I would probably have a strong emotional reaction to a musical based on the songs of Steps.)

I’m surprised I’m not eating my feelings, but I’m not. I’m more or less following my diet and in spite of the binge I wrote about three weeks ago and in spite of a week of my mother’s cooking, I’m on track and have lost another two pounds, so I’ve now lost 4 stone 5 pounds. Phew! I brought some old clothes that haven’t fit me since Vietnam back to London with me from Ireland. Losing weight is fun. I still have plenty of clothes in Cork that are yet to fit me, but will again.

I don’t know if you’ll remember, but when I wasn’t feeling great about my life while living in Vietnam, I set myself the task of watching one episode of Gilmore Girls every day until I had re-watched the whole seven seasons. And I was very strict with myself. I wasn’t allowed to binge watch – just one episode a day so I’d appreciate it and really watch it properly. And I wasn’t allowed to skip a day, so there’d always be something to look forward to in my day. And I was successful. For 154 days in a row, I only missed one day. And it really did make life better. I’m now doing the same, but with Please Like Me, a show I love just as much, every episode of which I’ve seen at least ten times, and now I’m only allowing myself one a day, but I must watch that one. And it does work. It really does give me something solid to look forward to every single day, which is lovely.

I don’t want to sound sad, because I’m not. I like my job more than I’ve liked any job in ten years. I still love London. I went to see an all-male burlesque space-themed, drag-influenced show at the weekend. I couldn’t have done that in Longford.

What I didn’t realise when I was answering the door nude to my Frenchman was that that was probably the last time I would see him. Yes, he’d asked me to take him on a holiday to Ireland just two weeks ago, and yes he’d asked if we could have breakfast together more, and yes he’d told me lots of deep and meaningful bits and pieces about himself, but he texted me on Friday to end it all. A friend of his had ended up in hospital and when he visited him, they realised they were madly and deeply in love with each other. Grrh. He’s even romantic when he’s dumping me. Sap.

So Connor and French Train Platform Boy are no more. He was very good for me. I’ll have to find me another regular peen. Luckily, I’m in London and there’s plenty of it about.

 

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The test

[NSFW warnings. Again. I’m such a purveyor of smut.]

This morning at 9:00, I was sitting in the waiting room of a sexual health clinic, with my phone out genuinely wondering if it would be “too much” to check into an STI check-up on Facebook. In the end, I decided not to, because I’m just too classy. 

It had taken me a month from French Train Platform boy telling me that he had gonorrhoea to me actually getting myself checked, but here I was, in the swankiest waiting room I’d ever been in, waiting for my first ever STI test, feeling at the age of 36 and a half like I was finally an actual grown-up gay. 

I was fascinated by everyone around me. So many posh-looking men and women in suits on their way to their important London jobs getting themselves checked and treated for STIs. This wasn’t the Den of Iniquity I expected. 

I was called into the doctor’s office before long. She was a large, motherly woman and I couldn’t imagine talking to her about my sex life. But I did. I told her what I’d done to whom and what who had done to me. She nodded, and asked questions I wouldn’t usually expect to talk about at 9:00 am. 

Doctor: Would you like to be tested for rectal gonorrhoea?

Connor: Should I be?

Doctor: It depends. When did you last get rimmed?

She took my blood and did a throat swab, telling me that I might cough or gag a little. After what I’d told her, she should have known that it would take more than a little throat swab to make me gag. 

She told me that she’d treat me for gonorrhoea regardless of my own results as I’d been intimate with someone who had a confirmed diagnosis. It would be an injection and a few tablets. Fine. She also offered me a HPV vaccine. Apparently, girls and young women are being vaccinated against HPV regularly, and this is lowering the incidence of genital warts in the general population, but because I don’t have sex with women “I’m missing out on the benefit of the vaccination”. That’s an advantage of heterosexuality I hadn’t heard before. I said yes to the vaccine. 

The doctor sent me to the bathroom to produce a urine sample and to do my rectal swab. She showed me how to do the rectal swab, saying I didn’t have to push it in too far. I made a “just the tip” joke before I could stop myself. 

As I passed the receptionist on the way to the toilet, I thought to myself that he knew that I was on my way to stick a cotton bud up my bottom. 
A nurse gave me my injections, one on the arm and one in the bottom. He nattered away, neither of us mentioning the gonorrhoea he was injecting me for. 

I was gone by 9:45. The doctor told me I wasn’t allowed to have sex, of any type, for seven days. Sigh. 

I got a text from them this afternoon. I’m gonorrhoea and chlamydia free! 

I’m so pure. 

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A Tribe of Sorts

I sometimes think that I write too negatively about my adolescence. It’s not as if I didn’t have a good time. I had a loving family. I had friends at school and at home. Like, I wasn’t the cool, popular guy, but I certainly wasn’t a reject. 

That said though, I was “different” and I never really felt I quite fit in. I remember feeling this as long ago as when I was nine or ten and trying to explain it then and no one really seeming to know what I was talking about. I felt very frustrated at the time. 

*****

One of the great things about living in London is that things happen here. Not just club nights for fat gay men and major musical theatre events, but conventions. I already stood outside a knitting and yarn convention here, where I failed to meet a friend of mine. (The amount of failed connections I’ve had in this city. I keep arranging to meet friends and then it doesn’t happen. I will be better at it.)

Anyway, last weekend, there was a YouTube convention. Well, it’s an “online video” convention, but no one’s actually on Vimeo or Daily Motion except pornographers, so it’s a YouTube convention. 

I had watched lots of videos of these conventions, where famous youtubers meet their fans and sell merch and do live shows and speak on panels. They’re crazed affairs. 

I was mature and instead of buying a ticket to one of the fan days, I bought a ticket to the creator day, a quieter day, intended to help people who make their own online videos. I know no one else takes my videos seriously, but just like I want to be a good writer, I want to make good videos. I like making videos and I want to be better at it. 

There weren’t any super-famous YouTubers there and the crowds weren’t crazy. The crush barriers were in place for the following day, but creator day only had the most dedicated of fans. There were mid-level famous YouTubers that I was starstruck by. I smiled at Tomska and he saw me, which was awesome. I went to talks on editing videos and marketing online and it was all interesting, but the reason I started this post by writing about being “different” as a teenager was because all around me I could see my tribe that could have been. 

Most of the people at the convention were in their late teens. And one particular “type” predominated. They were overweight, with hair dyed quirky colours and bold floral prints or funny slogans on their shirts and an awful lot had rainbow jewellery or accessories. 

Who are the people who watch YouTubers’ lives obsessively and whose best friends are people they’ve never met and whose place of safety is the internet? Fat queer teens who feel they don’t fit in, that’s who.  And through Tumblr and YouTube they find each other and make big groups of friends with similar interests and outlooks and they defend each other and the bond. 

In one sense, I was jealous. This was a type of friend group I never had as a teen. But on the other hand, I wasn’t. I’m glad that I didn’t find like-minded people and learned the resilience I did from growing up in a world that was simultaneously loving and alienating. I think it makes me stronger and makes my personal skills more diverse. I didn’t discover YouTube, or should I say I didn’t discover YouTubers, until I was thirty. 

But it is nice to know, even retrospectively, that I wasn’t the only one. 

I’m boarding a plane to Cork now to spend a week with my family and no doubt to be thrust back to all the moods and feelings of my adolescence. 

But it’s OK. I have the internet and a whole London waiting for me on Friday. 

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Protected

[NSFW and TMI warnings. This is so going to be one of those posts. You have been warned.]

I put clean sheets on my bed on Friday morning before going to work. It made me think of Dublin Connor, when I would put on clean sheets before going to a gay pub or club “just in case” and I came home alone to my sheets of failure. London Connor is different. London Connor needs the clean sheets.

It was French-Train-Station-Platform Boy Day! Is this my sixth post about him? Golly. I have actually planned out the first act of a musical about us. The stage would open on me arriving in London and discovering the world of online “chubby chasers” in an optimistic sequence along the lines of Good Morning Baltimore from Hairspray. Then there’d be the scene at Stratford Train Station. There could totally be a song where I read out the terms and conditions from his online profile. Then we’d have our first actual meeting, where there’d be a song where I remind him that I’m a professional and that I have a PhD before I let him into my bedroom to reveal all the pink fluffy things and One Direction posters, just like Christian Grey warning Anastasia about his “very singular” tastes before he shows her his “red room”.  Then of course there’d be a musical number about how he told me I’d have to get an STI test because he’d got oral gonorrhoea and how I was so excited by the glamour and “real gay” of that that I couldn’t resist telling my work colleagues. I’d totally go to see that musical. And trust me, you could easily get some more musical numbers from the story I’m about to tell.

Here goes.

I had booked a table at a little Italian restaurant near my house. This was different. We may already have shared a bed five times, but we’d never actually had a date. I came directly from work and met him at Streatham Hill Station, where he greeted me with a big sloppy kiss. Right there in the station. I love London.

We went for dinner and had a lovely chat. The restaurant was full of straight people, but he held my hand across the table. His eyes twinkled throughout the meal flirtatiously. I was genuinely excited. And also charming. I’m getting good at this, folks.

We walked up the hill to my house. We were obviously a couple. We both squeezed each other’s bums. We were walking very close to each other. And excitement was building about what was coming. We passed by a young man and a young woman, about eighteen or nineteen years old. The boy made a comment, something along the lines of “imagine being with someone so fat” and the girl laughed.

My date bristled and said something like “I’m not having that” and he turned around and followed them down the hill shouting at them. I stood there panicking. What if they got into a fight? I shouted after him, feeling like I was Eastenders and I was Bianca shouting after Ricky that he should “Leave it, Ricky! He’s not worth it!” The couple apologised. The girl seemed genuinely worried. They said that they weren’t laughing at me, but rather at something on her phone.

We walked the rest of the way to my house. My panic subsided. I held my man’s hand for the last five minutes of the walk. And I felt protected and defended and safer than I’ve ever felt before. Not only did I have a slender handsome Frenchman who wanted to do things to me in the bedroom, but I had someone to protect me, someone who cared about me and wanted me to feel safe. I’ve dreamed of this for years. I always remember Tom Daley’s coming out video on YouTube when he talked about how his new love made him feel ‘safe’ and that’s all I’ve ever really wanted from a relationship, to feel safe.

We got into my house and he was still angrily muttering about how people had no respect these days. We got inside and I LITERALLY SAID THE FOLLOWING WORDS: “Stop talking, push me against this wall and kiss me now.” He did. And then he started stripping me and he took off his blazer (he’d dressed up to go for dinner with me <3) and our clothes were strewn across the hallway. Oh My God. This was like Grey’s Anatomy sex, where we couldn’t wait to get to the bedroom to take our clothes off.

It was an amazing night. A night of firsts. I won’t tell you about them all. But as well as it being the first time we went for dinner, it was also the first time he stayed the night. When I’ve had other men in my bed overnight, I haven’t been able to sleep and I have positioned myself as far as I can from them while still being in the same bed. For the first time, I actually started drifting off in another man’s arms. This is the stuff of movies.

Because he has very strange taste in men, he finds snoring sexy. Imagine. This man is such a catch, it’s ridiculous.

And then, we had morning shenanigans. I don’t think I’ve ever had morning shenanigans with a man before. And in a way, they’re better than night-time shenanigans. We spent quite a long time about it.

We said we’d have to see each other more often and we made our next appointment. He asked if we could see each other weekly instead of monthly.

I was crazy happy. He told me he had heard me singing in the shower. I didn’t even realise I’d been singing. I was floating on air.

We went out for breakfast, but because we were gay, we called it brunch. And we had a long and lovely conversation in the cafe. He told me about his childhood on a tropical island in the Indian Ocean. And I told him about Ballincollig. He asked if we could maybe go together to Ireland for a little holiday in October.

I literally didn’t know how to react. A man, who is handsome and whose company I enjoy and who has repeatedly done sex to me, wants me to take him on holiday to Ireland. Is this what being a thin person is like?

Our conversation covered a lot of areas. He talked about what it’s like to be a chaser (as men who love fat men are called within this weird sexual subculture). I’ve heard other men say this since I arrived in London: chasers have to come out twice. When they tell people they’re gay, people make a certain set of assumptions, so then they have to “come out again” and tell people that they’re not interested in thin men. And once again, we had the conversation about exes of his who have had weightloss surgery. Seriously, I’ve been with three different men in London who bemoan their exes’ new lives post-gastric-bypass.

Apparently, one of the things that’s sexy about me is that I’m not as apologetic or ashamed of my body as most of the fat men that these chasers sleep with are. I somehow give off the signal that I like being fat. I don’t. I hate it. I will say that I have deliberately learned how to find fat men sexy and that certainly helps me in the bedroom. So, I get what they find sexy about my body, but that doesn’t mean that I find my body sexy. I guess I’m just a good actor. I have to admit, I want them to think I’m confident. I certainly didn’t mention to him that I’m on a diet and I hid my weighing scales before he came over.

So, yes, we’re going to be meeting once a week and yes, he’s swept me off my feet, and yes, we now do social things and go on dates as well as sleeping together, and yes, he wants to go on holidays with me, but it’s all built on a lie (that I love being fat and don’t want to lose weight) and it can’t last. And anyway, neither of us has any intention of being monogamous and he has repeatedly stated that he doesn’t want a relationship. He told me all about the chubby Australian guy he was meeting later that day, and I told him about the date I had set up for later that day too. Men are awful.

We kissed goodbye on Streatham High Street and he went off into the rain. I couldn’t get down from my high.

There are a few issues going on in my family at the moment and I was supposed to phone my brother and I couldn’t bring myself to. I didn’t want to lose the feeling.

It was the most amazing day. Coming to London has really been such a good decision. Life here is technicolour. I feel like Dorothy arriving in Oz, where everything is in colour, coming from Kansas, where everything is black and white.

And my encounter later in the day was absolutely crazy too. I had an absolutely terrible date, with a man who was physically very attractive, but with whom I had no meeting of minds. It was like having a conversation with a very angry Wikipedia page, who just spent two hours vehemently spewing facts and dates at me about the London Underground, about Barbados, about mediaeval headdresses and about caffeine. We had a lovely hug and I’ll never see him again.

I came home such a ball of emotions that for the first time in four months, I binged. I went on justeat.co.uk and ordered half a pizzeria. It had to happen at some stage. And it’s OK. Today I ate like a normal human being again, so it’s alright. Someday, I’ll learn how to deal with feelings, but honestly, Friday night and Saturday morning was such a big deal, that I’m OK that I reacted irrationally. I’m experiencing things I never thought I would. It’s a bloody miracle and I love it. I love it all.

 

 

 

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Modelling

[Mild NSFW warnings. Nothing to worry about really. Just a bit of TMI. You’ll get over it.]

I’m hungover. But it’s OK. I spent my morning googling the calorie count for the unidentified double shot bought for us by the Norwegian man who we initially thought was coming on to me, but it later turned out was coming on to my friend. I like London me. It would never have occurred to Dublin Connor that someone was actually coming on to him. Now I’m an overly-sexed egomaniac and I presume everyone wants my booty.

The Norwegian man said he had never seen Skam, so I didn’t care for him anyway.

It was a good night. I haven’t been going out to enough gay pubs and clubs in London as most of my encounters with gentlemen have been ones that started and ended in bedrooms/saunas. It was good to be a Scene Gay for a night, even if a handsome Welsh gay we met decided to christen me “Delta Work”, who is the whiniest of the overweight drag queens that RuPaul has unleashed on the world. Please, if you’re going to give me the name of a famous fat drag queen, call me Latrice Royale, or Jiggly Caliente, or Darienne Lake, or even Mimi Imfurst. Do not call me Delta Work.

My clothes stank of beer when I woke up. STANK. Did any beer actually make it into my mouth? Who knows? I know that the Norwegian man who kept buying us drinks force fed me some of his gin and tonic so I definitely ended up with some of that on my shirt, but apparently I kept spilling beer too.

We met a woman who spent twenty minutes whining that all the gay bars in Soho were boring and full of straight people “these days”. Of course, this woman herself was a straight woman in a gay bar in Soho. Of course.

I’m sure I went way over my calories last night. I’m not that worried though. In the two weeks since I last posted, I’ve lost more weight. In fact, I’ve lost enough that I can now weigh myself on home weighing scales and I no longer need to go to Boots to weigh myself. That gives me the bonus of being able to weigh myself nude, which takes off the weight of my shoes and jeans. My new weight is 23 stone 4, down from 27 stone 7 at the start of April i.e. 4 stone 3 pounds down. Whoop! It’s getting a little harder, but I’m keeping the faith and I’m feeling better for it.

And life is good. I was texting an old friend recently and she said that I seemed “happy?” I guess for a long time I wasn’t and it’s so good to be happy again, even if I am constantly teetering on the brink of a breakdown from overwork.

Anyway, I love my new flat. I’ve built my bookcases like the macho man that I am and I’ve unpacked almost all the boxes of my stuff that my brother brought over from Ireland. Almost. And I finally got my internet working, after a 40-minutes on the phone with TalkTalk technical support, during which the technician tried to make friendly banter with me by asking if I was “by any chance a bachelor”. I confirmed that I am.

And I’m flirting with lots of boys online again. In a weird coincidence, two different very hot guys who both have Aspergers have started chatting to me online. I’m due to meet one of them this week. He’s 24 and lovely. He wants to meet for a date in a pub and not get all sordid and jump straight to the sex. That’s nice. Sometimes I get tired of men who are only after one thing. I googled him.  He’s posted ads online seeking women willing to have a baby with him. He’s dying to be a dad. I’m not sure what I think about this. He does have one thing in common with all the other men I’ve been meeting in London. He got a little pissed off with me. He asked if I was really 400 pounds like it said in my profile. I had to tell him that I was more like 330, as I’d lost weight, but I promised him I still looked just like I do in my photos.

The first man I take home to my new flat is likely to be my French train platform boy, for our sixth (!?!?!!) date, who I’m supposed to be meeting this weekend. It’s only fitting. He was also the first boy I took home to my room in Homerton too. I still don’t know if he gave me gonorrhoea as I haven’t got round to getting myself tested, so I continue to have Schrodinger’s Gonorrhoea in the mean time. I will get myself tested this week. I will.

I didn’t need to worry about anything like that with my last erotic adventure as there was no actual body-to-body contact. I answered an ad on Growlr looking for models. An American photographer wanted models for an art project he was doing on the fat gay body. I love London. Things like this never happened in Longford.

I couldn’t shower or wear any deodorant. The photographer was a trans man with severe allergies to all kinds of products and he warned me strenuously not to wear anything perfumed. He had an AirBnB in West Ham. I didn’t think it would take me long to get there. I was wrong. I thought I was going to West Dulwich, 20 minutes away. In fact West Ham is an hour and twenty minutes away. I will get to know London eventually.

I arrived, late and very sweaty, with only my natural perfume, to my first ever modelling gig. The AirBnB was very nice, though the photographer had had to cover all the furniture with black bin bags to protect himself from the cleaning products used on the upholstery. It was a little like somewhere that had been prepped for a very bloody murder.

The photographer was lovely and worked hard to set me at my ease. I signed a waiver allowing him to do whatever he wanted with my pictures. It was very liberating. He says they’ll probably be in a gallery in Portland, Oregon sometime in 2019 and that there’ll be an accompanying website with pics and maybe even a book. I’ve made it, you guys!

He took a few clothed photos of me first “so I’d have something to show my Grandma”. Then he had me strip. In the back garden of an AirBnB in West Ham. I lounged around on the decking area in my altogether while he took about 200 photos. He instructed me to “interact” with a fern, which I did to the best of my ability. He was charmed by how I bit my lip and rubbed my belly. I also did some poses in the kitchen in front of the sink. He’ll send me some of the best pictures in a month or so.

I bloody loved it. I got to be Gigi Hadid for an afternoon. Connor, the model.

 

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Later is sweeter

This apartment tastes sweet. It tastes sweet because I fought for it.

Three and a half weeks ago, I came to view a flat in Streatham Hill. And I knew immediately that I wanted it. It had nice big rooms, plenty of storage and privacy. It was within my budget and within striking distance of work.

The estate agent was a large muscular man who tried to banter with me about the Champion’s League. I complimented his suit and he stopped bantering.

I paid £250 to the estate agents to secure the flat and I gave notice to my old landlord. I showed off to everyone that I was getting a new flat. My reference check took about a week. My old landlord, who’s name might be Ahmet and might be Eric, but who is intriguingly called “Room Network” on my tenancy agreement, took a long time to provide a reference (or to acknowledge that I was moving out), but eventually the referencing company came back with the answer that I would need a guarantor to sign for me as I didn’t have evidence of my self-employed earnings.

I smarted at the injustice of it. Here I am, earning more than I’ve ever earned in my life, with a permanent, pensioned job, earning more than anyone else in my family, and I wasn’t approved for renting a one-bedroom flat.

I posted a plea on Facebook for a guarantor and got a volunteer very shortly.

During the next week, I started to make plans. My brother told me he’d be able to bring his van across full of my stuff. I paid for a ferry ticket for his van. Everything was falling into place. I ordered broadband for the new flat. Nothing would go wrong. Nothing.

And then, last Thursday week everything went wrong. My estate agent rang me to say that my guarantor hadn’t filled in the reference form. I told him I’d chase her up. Then he said that my new flat wouldn’t be ready and that the landlord had told the current tenants that they could stay an extra two weeks. What? I’d already handed my notice in. I’d already paid for my brother’s ferry tickets. I couldn’t move later. I had to move on the weekend of the 8th July.

The estate agent told me that there was another property he could show me. It was exactly the same as this first one, except it was nicer. Hmm. It was also £50 dearer a month. We arranged for me to come and see it that evening. It really is lovely. It is also a large one-bedroom flat with my own front door and my own back door and a back garden and it’s solid and secure and a good size. I could see why it was dearer. The floors are fancier, the bathroom is more modern, the doors are more solid. The whole place is more grown-up. It’s the kind of place where I might get in trouble for covering the walls in pictures of One Direction and Zac Efron. Will that stop me? Of course not.

So the flat was OK, but my guarantor let me know that her employer wouldn’t support a reference for a flat in London. Oh no! I was close to total destruction again. I put out a new appeal on Facebook and I started directly messaging people, asking them to be my guarantor. I didn’t have much luck. No one seemed to be persuaded that they were only going to be legally liable and not actually liable for my rent, although that’s what I argued. Of course my parents offered to do it for me, although I have far more disposable income than they do. The muscular estate agent said he’d check. He got back to me. ‘Are they in Northern Ireland?” “No.” “Well, then that’s not considered part of the UK.”

I knew that. It’s not considered part of the UK, because it is in fact not part of the UK.

Wednesday morning came. I was getting desperate. A number of people who I had asked hadn’t got back to me about being guarantor. I put on a bit of pressure, not able to stand the waiting. My last hope pulled out around lunchtime on Wednesday. I can’t blame anyone. I have always been a flight risk and have never been known for my financial probity.

The dream had ended. I’d have to lose the holding deposit and the price of the ferry, but there was no way I was going to stay in my Homerton flat. I had reached the end of my tether with sharing, with hearing my Italian flatmate piss in the bath, with the general filth of the place, with having to whisper while I was filming my videos, with brushing my teeth without water because sometimes I just couldn’t face that bathroom and I just brushed them in the bedroom. I was going to move. I found a nice hostel with single rooms, similar to the one I had stayed at in Notting Hill before Christmas. I had a back-up plan. Everything would be OK.

I rang the estate agent to tell him that I couldn’t find a guarantor. My muscled gentleman told me that I could pay a bigger deposit instead and the landlady might be OK with that. He suggested six months. LOL. As if I could find that. He told me to see how much money I could gather together and get back to him.

I met a friend that evening, one who had told me he couldn’t be my guarantor. I told him about my hostel plan. He offered me money. He was fine with loaning me thousands – three months rent! That was less of a commitment than being liable for me.

I rang my estate agent, to offer the three months rent. My muscular man wasn’t there and I was passed to a woman who was as loud as the previous man was muscled. She sounded like she had once been a club rep in Ibiza, screaming in people’s faces to drink more tequila, snort more cocaine, get more regrettable tattoos and have sex with more sunburnt Bradfordians, but had now settled down and only shouted at potential tenants. She spent much of the next thirty-six hours yelling at me.

She roared at me that three months rent would not do. My heart broke again, for the seventh time in a week. She asked if my family could be guarantors for me. I told her they were in Ireland. I could hear her getting hopeful. “Which part of Ireland?,” she shrieked. “The South.” “That wouldn’t be considered part of the UK.” she bellowed. I’m actually fine that British people are clueless about Ireland. I’m clueless about England. I’m not sure if Surrey and Sussex are the same place or different places. But it boggles my mind that they think Irish people mightn’t know which bits of Ireland are in the UK and which aren’t.

She interrogated me about my pay. Could I show my bank statements for the last six months to the landlady to prove I earned enough? I could totally show her the statements from the last three months, during which I’ve been rich, but no one would cope with seeing the state of my finances in February, when I spent the month living on dinners that cost £1 (i.e. McDonald’s cheeseburgers) and even nearly spent one night on the streets of London, until my pay of £148 went into my account at 2:00 am and I got into a hostel.

When she realised how much more I earn from my employers than my basic salary, she hollered at me that if I would pay to be re-referenced, I might clear the reference check without a guarantor. I asked my boss to tell my referencing company to include my overtime payments in my reference, which he did without hesitating. In fact, he did it three times as it took a number of phone calls.

The estate agent screamed at me that this left me £35 pounds short of the rate needed. She hung up on me in disgust as I was halfway through asking a question. As if it were somehow my fault that she’d spent so long on this reference check.

It wasn’t enough. £35. Thirty-fucking-five.

My boss was happy to stretch the truth by £35. I was in. The estate agent rang me to bawl at me to pay the deposit and for the second time in 12 hours, hung up on me while I was in the middle of asking a question.

I didn’t care. I didn’t care that the deposit was bigger than I expected or that I had had to pay for multiple reference checks.

I was working yesterday morning (I’ve basically worked every Saturday and lots of evenings since I started this job; hence all that overtime). I brought a suitcase of my stuff with me on the train to Streatham Hill and went to the estate agents. They photocopied about a million documents and they even photocopied the keys before they gave them to me, but at 12:30 yesterday, I had my keys in my hand and I was walking to my new house.

I sat on the sofa and marvelled at the space, the solidity and the silence. I derived more pleasure than is natural from going to the toilet. My toilet. I went shopping. I filled the fridge. My fridge. I have a kitchen again. I couldn’t bear to leave to go back to my old flat and pack the rest of my stuff. Eventually, at about ten, I went back and packed everything up. I still haven’t got my deposit back from the landlord, but I left the keys there anyway and emailed him my bank details so he can transfer it back to me. I was never going back to the flat. I left our flatmates’ whiney What’sApp group, with thrills rushing through my body. At midnight, I was in a taxi, full of all the knick-knacks I’ve accumulated in the last few months, feeling so excited.

I’m the King of my Castle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fitting

Imagine wrapping a towel around your waist. I imagine you simply take the towel and wrap. I can’t do that. The two ends of a towel don’t meet around my waist, regardless of how big it is. I can only use a towel if I take one corner and then fold the towel along the diagonal to the opposite corner. If I do that, then I can make the towel meet. It leaves a very revealing slit up one of my legs, but that’s OK.

That was true until this morning. As I got ready for my shower this morning, I grabbed my towel and, feeling thinner than usual, I didn’t bother folding it along the diagonal. I just wrapped it around my hips and it fitted me! The two corners met! They didn’t overlap, but that’s OK. It still only works with my belly hanging over the towel and it certainly doesn’t fit around my waist, but a towel fits around my hips. A victory!

The world – its towels, its chairs, its public transport, its clothes, its love stories –  is designed for people a different size from me. But I’m beginning to think maybe I’ll fit back into that world again.

I’m afraid too. I weighed myself again this morning. I lost another three pounds this week. I’m down to 24 stone. That’s three and a half stone lost. And the hope is killing me. The hope that maybe this time I’ll actually lose the weight. It’s been the most success I’ve had since 2007 and I keep getting panicky that this won’t last. And I have such a longer road to walk this time. If I lose the same amount of weight I lost in 2007, (six and a half stone) I’ll only get to 21 stone, which would still leave me morbidly obese and around the same weight I was when I started losing weight in 2007. It’s an incredibly long road in front of me.

There is a wonderful sanity in not binge eating. I certainly have more space in my brain now than I did a few months ago. Am I eating healthily? Not really. But that’s not what matters. I’m eating my calories. I haven’t eaten in my flat since the first weekend I moved in. The kitchen was far too dirty and my food kept getting stolen, so I just gave up on it. I haven’t been in the kitchen in over a month. For breakfast I have a greasy sausage roll in Stratford Train Station (349 calories). Sometimes I have a Pret-A-Manger ham, bacon, tomato and cheese croissant instead (328 calories). Sometimes I have both the sausage roll and the croissant. I have lunch at the work canteen and then dinner is usually in Subway. A footlong Subway Big Beef Melt with mayonnaise is 916 calories.

I will start eating healthier when I move (there is drama there, but I still have my fingers crossed that I can make the move next weekend) and have access to a kitchen. Not eating out so much will be cheaper as well as healthier.

I can eat a lot and lose weight when I’m this heavy. It makes me sad to think how much I was eating that I gained 12 stone in the last ten years.

And I spent so much of that time fantasising about being freed from food.

I don’t know how many of you will remember the juicing diet I did in January 2014. I wrote about it here a lot. It was a very important time for me. I lost two stone. After a very embarrassing 18-month freeze, I started working on my PhD again and I started planning for life after Hall and after my PhD again (including my summer of love in Slovenia, my disastrous month stuck in the mountains of Italy and my decision to move to Vietnam). I’m grateful to that juicing diet. It kickstarted a lot in me.

I’ve spoken to two of my thin friends who watched the documentary that inspired my juicing diet (Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead). They  both had the same reaction to it. They loved the idea of the juice filling you full of nutrients and dramatically increasing levels of vitamins and health. The documentary plays on the idea of filling yourself full of health. But that’s not what I saw. Or at least it’s not the main thing I saw. I saw the possibility of not eating. Imagine being free from food – Heaven!

The juicing worked very well for me. I found myself able to survive on juice alone. I hated the juice, but it didn’t matter. I was free of food. And I started being stupid. I couldn’t face the juice any more and I just stopped drinking it, but I didn’t start eating. And it felt like another miracle. I could survive without food or juice.

And I’m not the only person who had that experience with juicing. A man I met at Overeaters Anonymous told me exactly the same thing. He started juicing, realised he could survive without food and just stopped consuming anything. And then I heard the story a third time. John Glaude, who runs the “Obese to Beast” YouTube channel did a video about his experience as a morbidly obese man trying juicing and ending up not eating or drinking at all.

Obviously, both me and the other two people I mentioned started eating again, but the lure of starvation and of a life without food is very real.

The next time you see a fat man, don’t say to yourself “he likes his food”. He could very well hate his food and be longing to be free of it.

So my diet isn’t healthy. I don’t eat enough fruit or vegetables. I eat too much processed meat and too many carbohydrates. But I haven’t binged in ten weeks. And I haven’t starved myself in ten weeks either. I’ve been steadily losing weight. I’ve been happy.

But I’ve been around long enough to know that life changes, that some things last and some things don’t and there’s no real way of telling which is which. I’m hopeful. And the hope is filling me with joy and the hope is filling me with dread.

Keep your fingers crossed for Connor, folks.

 

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