I awoke in a dusky haze to feel something vibrating against my thigh.
‘Not again Donna! My ass looks like a goddamn yawning child!’ The vibrating persisted.
‘Damn it Donna don’t make me take the belt to you,’ I yelled, leaping to my feet. I found the room empty. Of life, that is. The room was actually quite full – of whiskey bottles mostly, and empty Jaffa Cake boxes. I reached into my pocket and took out my phone, which was still buzzing.
‘Ian it’s Will. What have you got for Friday?’
‘Fuck all my man, fuck all.’
‘That’s what I suspected. Which is why I have scored you entry to a press screening of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy today.’
‘I got your name on the list to see the movie for free, so you can write about it on Friday.’
‘I see. Are you sending the limo?’
‘Why would I send a limo?’
‘Typical. I might as well work for the fucking Telegraph,’ I said, and hung up on him. ‘Donna!’ I yelled. Donna is a broad I shacked up with a few weeks ago. She’s a bit older than I would normally go for but she drinks like Prohibition is coming back and she is downright filthy between the sheets. She appeared in the doorway wearing a pair of jeans and nothing else, which was quite the coincidence because that’s exactly how I was dressed. She took a long drag on her smoke.
‘What is it honey?’
‘Go dig out your finest threads babe, I’m gonna show you off around town.’
‘Where we going?’
‘I’m taking you to a movie première.
‘Goddamn right. I told you I was a celebrity.’ Nestled among many other lies the night we met, I had in fact told her I was a celebrity.
‘What about Jaxon?’ she asked.
‘Oh yeah, the kid. Leave him with your mother.’
‘My mother died two months ago! How many times?’
‘All right, we’ll leave him with my mother.’
‘You’re going to let me meet your mum?’ she said, a look of almost painful hope on her face.
‘Hell no, she’d flip out. I’ll tell her I found the kid in the street and I’ve gone to report it to social services.’
‘Oh… okay,’ she said, and turned to go.
‘Yeah?’ she turned back, hopeful again.
‘I’ll have eggs for breakfast.’
‘Okay Mickey,’ she said. And I suppose that would be the cue for some back story.
Two weeks ago on a routine night out drinking in the bar, two of my friends joined me. I have grown rather accustomed to drinking alone and having company usually has one of two effects: either I curl up inside my shell and wait for them to leave, or I kick the shell off my back and start dancing like Mick Jagger. What happened to me two weeks ago, because of my prolonged state of solitude, is a rare medical condition known as going ‘Full Mickey’. This is inspired by Mickey Rourke’s triumphant return from the darkness to the spotlight, which was punctuated by recurring displays of awesome. When I was first taken by the spirit of Mickey I ordered another double Jack and requested that they play ‘Here I Go Again’ by Whitesnake, which I then sang along to. My display attracted the attention of Donna, who was sitting nearby, and complimented me on my chest hair. The rest of the night involved me stuffing a faux-fur scarf down my shirt (to give me the Chuck Norris look, since chest hair was working for me), demonstrating how bitchin’ Rab McCullough’s version of Voodoo Child was on my air guitar, and walking through town shaking hands with everyone I met. When I came to the next day I was in Donna’s place, and though my head was pounding rather than buzzing, the spirit of Mickey hadn’t left me. I decided to roll with it, so I had a beer for breakfast and rolled back into bed with my newly acquired cougar. And that about brings us up to date.
Donna staggered into the room on six inch heels and a dress of shimmering emerald green sequins that hugged in all the right places. I had opted for my lilac tuxedo and shades (of course).
‘Goddamn baby, you look sexy. Like a high class hooker.’
‘Aw, thanks babe,’ she said. ‘I left Jaxon with the lady next door, so we don’t have to bother your mum.’
‘Jesus Mick, how much have you had already?’ I waved the whiskey bottle in the air so she could see, then had another swig.
‘That stuff’s not good for your stomach,’ she said, stuffing a bottle of Smirnoff into her bag.
‘I’m taking Minxie,’ I said, lifting the dog into the crook of my arm. I had kitted her out in a little red coat.
‘Aw,’ said Donna. ‘You remind me of someone standing there like that.’
‘No, not him. I can’t think of who it is though…’
‘Never mind babe, we have to go. I want to get there early to catch the paparazzi. Will the whiskey fit in your bag?’
‘I don’t think so…’
‘Goddamnit Donna you always carry a bunch of useless shit around.’ I took the bag and threw out all unnecessary items – make up bag, feminine products, insulin kit – and stuffed my bottle in.
‘Sorry,’ she said.
‘Don’t worry about it babe,’ I said, then gave her a kiss and a smack on the ass and we headed out the door.
When we got to Queen’s Film Theatre there was no one outside.
‘We must have missed the red carpet,’ I said, and Minxie gave a little yap in agreement. We went on in.
I swaggered up to the front desk.
‘I’m from Bandwidth, I’m here for the movie,’ I said to the woman. She looked at me, then at Minxie, then Donna, and then back to me.
‘Um, dogs aren’t allowed in the cinema sir,’ she said.
‘Come, she’s not that ugly,’ I said, looking at Donna, who responded by punching me in the side of the head.
‘This is my guide dog,’ I said. ‘I’m blind.’ The dame didn’t look convinced, despite the fact that I was wearing sunglasses indoors. Seriously, some people.
‘Minxie, where’s the bar?’ I said. Minxie barked.
‘See?’ I said, and walked over to the bar. Donna followed, trying to stay upright on her ridiculous heels.
‘What are you having babe?’ I asked.
‘Just get me a Coke and I’ll put some vodka in it,’ she said, looking around the reception area at all the other press folks.
‘You take it easy on the sugar, sugar,’ I said, and we both had a good laugh at my joke. We got our drinks and took a seat.
‘I don’t like these people,’ she said. ‘They all look like they’re holding in a shit.’
‘They’re critics baby, they aren’t known for holding in shit. They prefer to type it out.’
‘So how come you got invited?’ she asked.
‘I write shit too baby. It just doesn’t smell as bad.’ Minxie yapped her approval and I set my glass of beer down on the floor next to her, in case she got thirsty. By the time they called us into the screening room, she had lapped up a good half pint.
Donna didn’t seem to care much for the movie, and neither did Minxie for that matter. Donna kept nipping out to get more Coke for her vodka, which annoyed everyone else a lot more than it annoyed me. She kept smuggling in beer for Minxie too, and before long they were both drunk. Minxie just fell asleep but Donna, as usual, got a bit rowdy. I was too engrossed in the film to be bothered with drinking, so I had no time for her shit.
‘You want me to give you a blowjob in the toilet?’ she asked, loud enough for everyone to hear. A monstrously fat woman in the next row turned around and shushed her. ‘Shush yourself, you fat bitch,’ said Donna. Then to me, ‘Come on baby, how about it?’
‘Look I’m trying to watch this,’ I said.
‘Well fuck you too!’ she shouted, and stormed out. The fat woman turned around again to show her disapproval.
‘What you lookin’ at lady?’ I asked.
‘Your dog is snoring,’ she said.
‘She’s got sleep apnoea! You of all people should be sympathetic.’ She just tutted and turned back to the movie. I petted Minxie on the head, but she was out like a light.
The film is a perfect example of something that is all too uncommon in modern cinema: the good old fashioned British stiff upper lip. It is Richard Attenborough in The Great Escape. John Mills in Ice Cold In Alex. And now Colin Firth is at the forefront of its resurgence, with his roles in this movie, A Single Man and of course The King’s Speech. It is something the Americans just never did very well, and this film is chock full of it. And it’s about damn time, since Britain’s recent cinematic exports have come in the forms or Ricky Gervais’s cheeky chappy persona and Russell Brands own brand of dandy foppishness. Every performance in this film is a true class act, which should come as no surprise given the cast list. There are three or four plot strands that could be feature films in themselves and it is slightly disappointing when some of the stories aren’t explored in much depth, but as far as that goes the multiple plots are expertly spun together. It makes for undoubtedly dense viewing, but the story never becomes lost or confused, which is quite the achievement. It is also slow film, working at a pace most directors wouldn’t have the balls to use, but the thoughtful, measured pacing only adds to the overall style of the film, of which it has an abundance. And if that is not compliment enough, take my refusal of ‘a blowjob in the toilets’ as reassurance. It’s a bloody flipping good show.
There was some mild commotion in the lobby after the movie. Some silly dame had collapsed. Then I recognised the tits, only barely concealed by the sparkly green dress.
‘Donna!’ I yelled, and ran over to see her.
‘Oh, Mickey,’ she said as I stroked her hair. ‘I know who it is you remind me of in that tux.’
‘I know baby, Mickey Rourke…’
‘No,’ she said, ‘it’s Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber.’
‘Oh,’ I said. ‘I love that movie.’
‘Yeah, I love it too…’ she said, and then her head fell over to one side and her eyes closed over. Just then a couple of paramedics came rushing in. One of them bent down next to her and checked the pulse in her neck. He looked at me and shook his head.
‘She’s gone,’ he said.
I went to the toilets to splash water on my face and have an intense moment of introspection as I stared at myself in the mirror. She was right. I hadn’t gone full Mickey. I was just plain dumb. Maybe even dumber. I let out an agonised scream and punched the mirror, but it didn’t crack or anything because I can’t punch very hard.
As they pushed the stretcher into the ambulance the paramedic turned to me and said, ‘I’m sorry, there’s nothing we could have done. It was just too late.’
‘I know,’ I said, ‘she died of a broken heart.’
‘Actually she died of diabetic shock. Why didn’t she have her medicine with her?’ he asked, but I wasn’t paying attention. I walked off into the evening, still cradling Minxie, who had slept through it all.
A couple of days later I took Minxie to the vet, because she still hadn’t woken up and she was very cold.
‘I’m sorry,’ said the vet, ‘she’s dead. Looks like she has been for some time now.’
‘Damn it, she must have died of a broken heart,’ I said.
‘Actually it looks like alcohol poisoning,’ he said. ‘Do you have any idea how she could have consumed alcohol?’ But I wasn’t paying attention. I was walking off into the sunset, putting on a black cowboy hat and affecting a laboured swagger. I had gone full John Wayne.