Morrissey, 28/10/2016. I don’t know the first three songs; they’re new. But the fourth, the jagged staccato chords and Doppler riff, and I’m taken back.
Before children. Before marriage. Before I left Australia. 1986. First year out of home. It’s Steve, Peter and I and we’ve gone into the upstairs smoky gloom of a night club above Garema Place and the Woodstock Pizza. Was it the Private Bin? Would we have been seen dead anywhere near the cordies there? No, it must be another one. I can’t remember…
but I remember the smoke, the light floor and the fact that we pretty much had the place to ourselves, and we requested How Soon Is Now, and I was wearing a tiered skirt my grandmother had made, with strips of alternating plain blue and floral fabric, it wasn’t fashionable-no-one wore anything like it, and I used to do this spin, this Irish 3-step in a whirl with arms swinging to add momentum, and the dress would flare, and the music would fill me and pulse through me, then after twenty seconds or so I’d slow down and come to–and I saw Steve staring at me. Come and dance, I called to him. No, I’m right, he said.
He did dance sometimes, swinging between his crutches, and sometimes balancing on his dodgy legs to lifting the crutches to his full wingspan, the same width as an albatross he joked. His knees were often swollen with bleeds, but he never, ever complained of what must have been excruciating pain. The crutches didn’t slow him down at all; he would swing both legs up and kick a door open, moving fast enough not to be caught as the mechanism pulled it closed. He was clever, arrogant, funny, talented – he played piano like an angel.
Peter wasn’t interested in dancing either. It’s possible he didn’t want to be seen next to me–he said I elevated daggy to an artform, and he was all gay elegance. I think we stayed two or three songs then moved on to somewhere more populated.
It’s fascinating to hear you talk, Steve said to me. You go off on tangent after tangent after tangent.
I don’t know why you’d bother having a 21st birthday party, Steve said. No-one would come. So I didn’t.
I thought we might have been getting close, Steve said. But I knew he had HIV by then, and I was scared. We fell out of contact soon afterwards – I discovered later I was too maudlin and he only wanted positive people in what life he had left. He did later have a girlfriend, so not everyone was as discriminatory as me.
In 1991 I was walking to a psychology exam and I thought Steve might be sick, and that I might never be able to tell him how much he’d hurt me with his comment about my 21st. I guess he never got to tell me about how much I’d hurt him either.
I later found out he’d died around then. We weren’t a huge part of each other’s lives, but we had been friends and sometimes I miss him.