A year later, the actor was in another play at the Royal Court. So I thought I’d give myself one more go at making him love me. I felt I’d written and performed all the insanity out of my head and was now ready for something real. I believed this because it would have been unbearable to accept that after all that transformative, healing comedy I was still the same lunatic.
I found him in the bar and we got talking again. I felt more relaxed than I ever had with him + I wasn’t pretending this time, I was actually relaxed, though I was also very impressed with how relaxed I was, so I can’t have been that relaxed.
We must have sat talking for around an hour, and it was actually a really grounded, relationship-building conversation. The only moment of panic came when he told me that he’d seen a photo of me as a little boy somewhere, which he thought could have been him. The sudden lack of distance between us was too much for me. I started ranting about what a brilliant, sensitive child he must have been and what a stage-school maniac I was. He offered me a moment of connection and I couldn’t receive it. And then he revealed he was very happy with a boyfriend. A composer. I thought, OK, Simon, we tried our best, he’s happy, it’s enough now, he’s with a composer, we can’t beat that. Can he juggle?
He also told me he couldn’t email me back all those years ago for reasons more complicated and personal than anything to do with me being less brilliant than him. He hadn’t rejected me. I put on my coat, we hugged goodbye and I went to the toilet feeling relieved it was over. As I walked out of the toilet feeling a real sense of completion, he walked in, which I wasn’t expected. We’d had our hug goodbye and I didn’t know what else to say, so I said, “Composer, huh?”
All I want to do is wave. But, of course, what can I say? Um… “So long, Captain Leslie?” - “So long, Perce.” But then he does see me. He glances over, but he’s still talking to his pal and just then the train lurches forward. The brakes go on and the blue lights go out and just like that, pitch-black. And all the other fellas in the carriage start groaning and someone says, “Oh, here we fucking go,” but all I can feel is my heart beating and the air. And the darkness pressing against the window and my hand gripping the window ledge. And then someone takes my hand. Someone outside on the platform. And it’s Terence. And he takes my hand and he just… lifts it to his lips and he kisses it. There’s no train then, there’s no troops, there’s no war. There’s just his bramble lips pressed against the tips of my fingers… and all the hair on my neck goes up on end. And then the train lurches forward and he’s let go of my hand and all the blue lights go on, and… Outside there’s nothing but steam. Steam and darkness.
I understand now that boundaries between noise and sound are conventions. All boundaries are conventions, waiting to be transcended. One may transcend any convention if only one can first conceive of doing so. Moments like this, I can feel your heart beating as clearly as I feel my own, and I know that separation is an illusion. My life extends far beyond the limitations of me.