This morning, in the wake of a US supreme court decision mandating gay marriage across the biggest nation in the Anglosphere, there was, serendipitously, a Pride march in London. I was making my way along the ragged boundary between Tower Hamlets and the City of London, where I chanced upon another kind of demonstration. Quite apart from the technicolour spectacle of a Pride march, these wore black encrusted around their white frames, carried white flags crossed with red and one large placard emblazoned “Not Racist, Not Violent, No Longer Silent”. All three were claims which I had immediate cause to doubt, coy as the group on such a sunny and momentous day.
Still, emollient though they may have been, I crossed the road in short order to avoid them. In doing so, I stepped off the kerb and onto a rat — or rather, angled my leg in an inelegant direction to avoid stepping on a rat — came down awkwardly on my ankle and spilled my falafel in the street. This was a source of immense pleasure for all the vermin in the vicinity, the rat most of all. And while the rat, in all likelihood, regarded the Supreme Court judgement with an assured disinterest, the protesters were in greater need of a pick-me-up.
The marchers’ protest was implicitly predicated on the inviolable principle that heterosexuality is sacrosanct.
Ella was a tall, thin, angular, pretty woman who smelled of a Pret-a-Manger fruit salad in which a rushed City worker has stubbed out a Gauloise. We matched on Tinder, subsequently we met for a drink at a conceited little microbrewery in Bethnal Green and later retired to her home. Time went by and we did the same again, then on a third occasion, after I dragged myself to a park to entertain her, we stopped off at a bar a few minutes’ walk from her flat at around 11 in the evening. I returned from the bathroom to find her in conversation with a man clad fully in denim, putting a number into her phone.
At every opportunity then on, she checked her phone and tapped in a hasty reply. I went to buy another drink for us two and she used the opportunity to make conversation with the man in denim. She went for a smoke and made clear I was not invited. Plain as day she returned inside, alongside the man in denim. She came over and told me, between kisses, that I should go home: “fuck off”, I believe she said, though sweetly, affectionately…I was not to walk her home. She would see me on Sunday.
I left and took out my phone to find a map of the way home (I had never been to her house sober) and she walked past, away from her house and down an alleyway with the man in denim.
Ella assures me that I am mistaken about what happened that night, but the sanctity of the heterosexual mode of romance remains lost on me.