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The Cult of the Beautiful Boys

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Journal Entry: Damien Hall Aug. 23rd, 2007 @ 02:30 pm
creativepseudo
5 March

Dear August,

I am sorry this letter is so late in finding you; I can't altogether blame the post so much as myself. I've been quite confused of late and I wasn't exactly sure what to do; until I read your letter.

Even though you are farther from me with every letter I write, It heartens me to know that you can enjoy the journey. Our situation may be dismal, but it makes me a little happier to picture you atop some stern, feeling the salty sea wind as a modern blonde-headed Scylax instead of hunched over and vomiting every half mile.

It has not been raining since you left. In fact; the weather has been lovely, the clouds have let up and so has the normal dreary fog. There isn't a shop window that hasn't been freshly cleaned and thrust open to let in the daylight. It seems that everyone here realizes that heavier rains are imminent and we should treasure these times.

Practices are held at the theatre with all of the back room windows open to let this new air and sunlight in. Everyone here misses you; even the terrified pinkish music students students who became more confident and better through your bullying. They were pacified a little when I told them you still intend to compose abroad, but I'm afraid there are rumours that I finally reached my limit and fired you. How far from the truth! All of the musicians, including the ancient veterans are acting like petulant children. It is very amusing to observe.

Yes, I did find your old journal (I'm afraid I stole it) and also some unfinished piano compositions I think you mistakenly left behind shoved between the pages (stole those also). Your "old August bullshit" is excellent, very witty and good enough to publish, (with necessary pronoun changes) although it is quite obscene. Should you, when you arrive find yourself in some disreputable bookstore in America, gazing upon a copy of " The London Adventures of Augette " , think of me. I'll be laughing. I hope you will be.

-D. Hall

Conversation: Alleyn Wallace and Julian Howard Aug. 19th, 2007 @ 01:08 pm
mmebahorel
5 March

I've avoided the appropriate for too long, and though it is pouring rain, I feel I must get out and do what I ought to have done during the week. So I find myself outside Julian Howard's building - the Lady Penelope certainly seems to have good taste. He must be home - the weather is dismal and certainly the light must be awful for painting, otherwise I would have called at his studio.

I climb the stairs and stand, dripping, umbrella in hand, before his door. Too late now to run the other direction. So I knock.

Journal: Alleyn Wallace Aug. 17th, 2007 @ 10:12 pm
mmebahorel
1 March

I want to set down as much as I can remember because, dear lord, I have made a complete and utter fool of myself.

Tamara replied by return post that she would come on Wednesday. Except I forgot that I do, in fact, have a performance on Wednesday night, so that at least kept the interview mercifully brief. But first I had to endure an early morning summons from Sam.

Read more...Collapse )

As Mme B: How do you want to do this? Tamara will wind up making the inquiries, for Alleyn's sake, but only after running Julian through a wringer of an interrogation to make sure that he isn't going to rip Alleyn off or break his heart. We can play it out if you like or take it as a given. Alleyn won't stop by Julian's place for a couple more days, waiting until it's probable that Julian will have received an invitation from Tamara.

Journal: Alleyn Wallace Aug. 5th, 2007 @ 10:32 pm
mmebahorel
26 February

This madness with Julian simply continues to get madder. I felt a desperate need to go to church this morning, which was about the worst thing I could do, though I couldn’t have known it at the time. Today’s readings were all about God the creator, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, all that. Not exactly cheery. Revelation is so oddly mystic anyway – very High Church if anything, not my taste at all. Not that religion should be completely straightforward, but the image of the New Jerusalem coming down from the clouds like a bride adorned for her husband is hardly compatible with Christ feeding the 5,000. In any case, church was really a stand in for family. I didn’t bother taking communion; I was there for family. And that was all well and good until Gracie noted I looked awful and pulled me out for a walk in the Gardens so we could talk.

And like a fool, I finally told her the whole truth. Needless to say, she was not happy. She won’t abandon me, but she’s terribly cross that I’ve done “tawdry” things and then told Sam before I told her. She understands the conflict that’s eating at me, and she says David would say I’m being an idiot, and I know she’s right, and that’s the whole reason I told her anything at all, but I still feel awful for having betrayed her. Because she’s right – she, of anyone, deserved to know. But she was too young ten years ago, when I came to understand the madness I would have to live, for me to say anything then. I introduced her to David because I wanted her to know, but I still said nothing specific. Of course she knew I was in love with him – she’s never been a fool – but until I told her today, she didn’t understand it was mutual or just how far these things can go.

This will be a blight on our relationship forever. I already imagine getting a lecture from Sam on how women can’t have this sort of thing sprung on them or else appalled that I didn’t have the decency to tell her before the funeral. She came to the funeral, she and Sam, so I wouldn’t be the only Christian. And I repay her by shutting her out of the truth for a further two years. What kind of brother am I? Did I really think she would go to Sam and tell him to have me arrested? Of course not. But I thought she’d rather not speak to me again, and I couldn’t bear to lose my family. Just knowing they are there and I can go home has been enough to keep me going some days. I don’t know what I would have done with my life had I been separated from their love forever.

And now I may have done that anyway, not with the truth, but by withholding the truth. And yet, when she had calmed down a bit, encouraged me to tell her what was really troubling me, and spoke with the common sense I knew I could count on from her, in those moments everything was just as it had always been and just what I needed. I know, in my heart, that I am not in love with Julian Howard, that I care for him but that his disappearance from my life would be a momentary disappointment rather than utter heartbreak, so all I can do is accept that I made a pledge to him, screw my courage to the sticking place, and explain the whole thing to Tamara. Which I don’t look forward to. But I’ve already done it – first thing I did when I came home was write her a note to invite her to tea on Tuesday or Wednesday, whichever night she has off. It’s lurking in the postbox as I write this, waiting for the morning mail.

I’ve been such a fool. I hope Gracie can forgive me, and yet, if I were in her place, I don’t know how she can.

Journal - Julian Howard Aug. 3rd, 2007 @ 02:51 pm
eclectictastes7
February 26th

The last few days have not been treating me well. Drunkenness, emotionality, parting ways. At least that terrible champagne-and-tears headache has finally cleared, and my brain finally feels like it is working better, relatively.

I fear that in the last two days I have managed to loose both the one friend I knew I had and the one I had not even recognized. I do not think I realized I liked August, as a person, until he stood in my studio yesterday, looking teary and saying his goodbyes. He's gone back to America, now, which means I am alone with Penelope again.

Of course, it seems I am not totally alone. I am lying on my bed in the studio now, and last night I dug out all my works of August, so his portrait and the nude are both keeping me company. The portrait goes to Penelope tonight, and I will keep the remembrance of our paint-smeared tryst for myself. I think, though, that I may need to do something about my sketchbook. It does not seem healthy what I did this morning with my sketch of him sitting, post-pleasure, in the chair at my flat. I do idolize his body, still, but I think I need to get the sketch out of my studio, or I may become fixated on it - not because it shows particular skill on my part, but because he was so damned beautiful like that. I wonder if his Damien would like it? I could stand to make some money, but it seems almost cruel to play on his affections like that.

That is enough about August, though, because my biggest concern now is Alleyn. I behaved terribly after the party, and despite how kind he was to me for hours and hours afterwards, when we parted ways it felt as though something had broken. Maybe I took it all out of him - maybe he simply had no more kindness, no more care for me. I had taken enough already. Or maybe - and this is what hurts, this is what has been tearing at me - maybe the reality of it reached him, then, once I was no longer throwing up half my insides or sobbing into his shoulder. Because I really am irreparable, and I should be untouchable - if I cannot keep my mind or my actions under control, I should not be let near anyone, because in this life I've fallen into, control seems to be everything, and the more I try to hold myself in, the worse it gets. And then, if I have friends, I cease to be a danger only to myself and begin to be a danger to those I care about. I want to have friends, I want to know someone cares what happens to me, wants me to be happy... will give me tea when I'm ill or pat my back when I'm sad... but what kind of friend am I, all bundle of emotions and this lack of control that has always frightened me so much.
And I want to see him so desperately, to know he is all right - I am so afraid I may have hurt him - but I cannot... if he is hurt, or even annoyed, or anything, I cannot be the one contacting him. And he would be right never to even acknowledge me again... I am a mess, a total falling-apart mess, and he doesn't deserve to have to clean up after me. No one does, but especially not him, he's too good for it.
And I have nothing more worth to say, so I'll close this for now before I get myself so bloody worked up I can't come back.
Other entries
» Journal Entry : Damien Hall
Last night was the last night that August and I will ever truly be together.

After making the necessary arrangements, I went to his flat to say goodbye. His room was in shambles, with his wardrobe doors flung open and clothes scattered about. His eyes were red rimmed and he was sitting cross legged in a rather painful looking position; sorting through massive stacks of music.

I wondered why he didn't just send everything off to be packed in boxes, and the question came across on my face. He merely shrugged and stood, stretching his legs.

"Just the essentials. Some of these really shouldn't be left behind." He motioned expansively to the stacks behind him, and I felt horribly empty inside.

I helped him pack away his things and sort through his music. The sheer volume of it was astonishing, piles of piano concertos, string quartets, symphonic works, sonatas. Partitas, fugues, tone poems, chaconnes; his own compositions, neatly notated, some with hurried, scribbled, changes. And finally, the last piece of all, a crossed out, ink blotted reduction of the score that had brought us together. August silently packed it with his things, and my throat was too tight to speak.

It took so long, that at the end of it, we simply stayed on the floor, pulling down the pillows and sheets from his bed. I fell asleep nestled in between the crook of arm. When I woke, it was dark, and I had various sheets of music stuck to my arms and legs.

I must have spent atleast an hour, watching him snore softly and dreading the rise of the sun.

We both mutually agreed that it would be rather pointless for me to go and see him off at the docks; any sort of affectionate goodbye being impossible. I have to admit that I greatly preferred the last heart-wrenching kiss before we tore away from each other, which was far more honest then the stiff handshake that our farewell would've become in public.

(Or, atleast that my farewell might have become. August is sometimes so reckless with propriety that I shudder to think of what might have happened had I gone with him. Best not to think of it.)

However I might slander him, perhaps the most annoying thing is that I bear no ill-will towards him or our circumstances. Rather, I admire him for sacrificing what my father never cared enough to sacrifice. Want of reputation in the past cost me a family and a father, but August bandies his about so much that it's hard to tell he even cares. I've cursed him in the past for it, now I love it best in him.

He promised he'd write, and I promised the same. He told me he loved me, and I told him that he didn't need to say it again, he'd already told me at least a dozen times and I had said the same to him. All the same, I told him I loved him, and he left.

I feel so thoroughly miserable, and I don't know what I want to do. I do know what I will do, I will stop wasting paper and ink writing about my troubles, and I will start thinking about what I shall write about to him.
» Journal: Alleyn Wallace
25 February

It is rather too cold for this, but here I am, sitting on the ground like an Indian, pencil in hand because I could barely get the date out, the ink was nearly frozen in the pen.

Last night was opening, and I cannot remember a thing of it except that Julian Howard needed rescuing, came over quite drunk, kissed me in the cab as I had no choice but to take him to my flat, and having his warm body in my bed, even drunk, made me the happiest I've been in months.

This is the problem, David. I miss you quite profoundly, but I'd even accept having Paul back, not that he'd come back from the wilds of Australia. It's not love, or perhaps I should say it's not romance, that I miss, nor friendship, as I've got all sorts of friends, and it isn't sex, as that renter was really no good for me. No, what I miss is that closeness, the touch, not necessarily the caress, but the hand on the shoulder, the looks one could understand, the shared bed even when fully dressed. I am so bloody tired of sleeping alone. That's not a euphemism for anything. To hold him, to comfort him, is not arousing in the least, but it is terribly satisfying.

So I'm in this terrible muddle of wanting that odd space - well, I suppose it is not so odd, simply not discussed - between friend and lover. Because you were both. Paul was, too, though that was never true love. It was different with Stéphane, perhaps because he was French and thus we could never really be as close as I mean right now. I don't know how to explain it.

From the moment I met Julian, I wanted to rescue him. I didn't recognise it at first - I thought I simply enjoyed hearing a beautiful young man speak intelligently and enthusiastically about art. But I think I knew from the beginning that he was broken. We're all broken - one cannot be turned inside-out and remain completely intact. To accept inversion is madness, but then our very existence is madness. You and I are just as broken as everyone else, only we managed to hide it better than most. I know I was better with you around.

I suppose, for years, I have been wondering when the bout of effeminacy would strike. After all, an invert must have some feminine qualities, otherwise one is not actually inverted. I was so keen to cure myself all those years ago because I thought myself perfectly normal in every way except my sexual preferences. Frank has a better eye for colour than I do, which is good since he's in the family business, I can hardly dress myself, I have never once wept over a fiction, and I wouldn't dare go flapping my hands about the way some of these pansies do, not even for a role. But I think I've found my weakness after all. I want to mother him. Rather as Thea did to me, only without the sex. Listen, guide, fix - which really makes me just as bad as Thea, since I don't know what he really wants. He loves art, is a painter himself, and I dangle the possibility of contacts at Goupil in front of him. Of course he's grateful.

But where does that leave us? I'm miserable, cold, sitting on the very hard ground where you are buried; he's off to the flat his awful woman keeper has for him. I don't know why I feel such attachment to him, why I feel it is my duty to rescue him. How I wish you were here to give advice. But then, if you were here, I would never had met him and he would have had to stagger home drunk last night, abandoned by his keeper and his lover in a room full of strangers. Perhaps he would have ended up in bed with one of the chorus boys. And we would have gone home to Little Venice and slept in each other's arms. Instead, he slept in my arms without even knowing it.

I know you would say it is time to be sensible. He's terribly fragile. One should not make promises to him one cannot keep. How do I even ask Tamara what I promised him? So, your mum still see any of your dad's old gang from Goupil? My very pretty new boy - whom I am not fucking - needs a rather better job, that's all. How do I possibly explain that in the moments when I was comforting him this morning, after he was awake and sober and honest, I felt more at peace than I have in any moment since the accident? As if my purpose now is to rescue this boy, and that will cure all of us.

And yet I do not know if can follow through. I betrayed us. In the moment I felt so content, so needed, so necessary, I lost my head entirely and pulled Verlaine into it and ruined it all. I wasn't a complete fool - it's not sexual in the least, I never brought any of our important poems into it - but it fit so well, "il pleure dans mon coeur comme il pleut sur la ville". The moment I realised what I had done, I knew I had to come here. To apologise. Our knowledge of Verlaine and Rimbaud predates our knowledge of each other, but that is no excuse. An apt quotation, yes, but one that should never have been made. I betrayed all we were in that one instant.

There are others about - there's a funeral today. I hope they cannot see how I weep, how undignified is my grief two years on. I need you. I do not know what I am doing with him. I am finding parts of myself I did not think existed. I want the boy. I want Tamara. I want the family I gave up when I embarked on this career. It is the age of pairing up. Before the year is out, I will be the only person in my family unmarried, without even a real lover as consolation. I'll never have children. Julian is my only chance. How terrible that sounds! And it's not even accurate. Because I would abhor being seen as a father-figure by someone only ten years my junior. And it's inappropriate. I want more than respect from him. I want contact, affection, everything but kisses and sexual intercourse. Trust.

And I cannot give him anything he needs, because I do not know what he needs. I don't know if he needs a lover or a family or even just some proper friends. He needs people he can trust, but he also needs them to understand him, and I know I never will. Not in the ways that matter. I'm an artiste, not an artist. He broke down over his illegal desires; I grew angry and took far too many people to bed in attempts to get it out of my system or to move beyond the strange temptation. I never had such problems as he has had. I even enjoy police protection, precisely because I am not the typical invert.

I want his trust. I want his touch. But I don't dare want it. How could I betray us by bringing our history into it? I will always love you. But will you permit me comfort? I don't want to move on, not really. I want you more than anything. But god has willed that I cannot have you. Am I allowed to seek comfort from him?
» Conversation: Julian Howard and Alleyn Wallace
When I wake up in the morning I do not immediately know where I am, but I do know that my head is very, very angry at me. I shake myself out of my stupor and roll over, trying to get my eyes to focus on the room. I blink once or twice, trying to understand, as it seems I am in Alleyn's bedroom, on his bed, under his covers.
After straining my aching head I can vaguely remember him putting me to bed there the night before. For the moment, though, I'm not sure I want to try to remember anything else.
I close my eyes; when I open them again the light makes a fresh assault on my headache and I put my hands to my forehead in an effort to hold my skull together. "Bloody hell!"
» Conversation: Damien Hall and August Lowell
I wake to the harsh, horribly bright chirping of birds outside of August's window. The light seems almost unhumanely bright, and I feel slightly disgusting, having not changed or washed for bed.

Besides the vague nastiness, the sunlight, and the birds, I feel strangely well-rested. Opening my eyes, I stretch and yawn, and my eyes fall upon August, already awake and regarding me in silence.

"Good morning. " I rub one eye. "Sorry, do you know the time?"
» Party: Opening Night, Die Fledermaus, Royal Court Theatre
24 February

Cast:

Eisenstein: Mr Karl Dostner
Rosalinde: Miss Harriet Poole
Alfred: Mr Terrence Burke
Adele: Mrs Charles Simms (Violet)
Blind: Mr Patrick Murphy
Falke: Mr Alleyn Wallace
Frank: Mr Guy Chadwick
Prince Orlovsky: Miss Theodora Brannigan
Frosch: Mr Ernie Green
Ida: Miss Emily Frost

Guest Tenor: Mr Sven Gunderson
Pas de Deux: Mr Filipov and Miss Tuchkova

Chorus of 16 (8 male, 8 female)

Synopsis:

http://www.evermore.com/azo/98season/df_syn.php3

Production:

The songs are in German, but the spoken bits in between are in English. (I can’t take credit for the crack that is this production – the Met actually did such craziness several years ago.) The backdrops are painted dropcloths, and the drawing room set doesn’t match the furniture. The ballroom set is thoroughly decent, however, and the jail is actually nearly modular – instead of just a dropped set of bars, there’s a full cage for the cell. Very nice, especially since modular (built in/constructed) sets are really just becoming popular. The chorus appears only in Act II, and the choreography is very simple for them – just a basic waltz repeated when necessary. The “entertainment” at the “ball” is written into the show. A lot of opera companies use it to showcase major local performers or bigwigs and thus do the show at the holidays or as a fundraiser. (Washington Opera had a soprano, a couple ballet dancers doing a pas de deux, Placido Domingo, the presence of a few ambassadors and Supreme Court justices, and I think something else – it dragged on and on and on, IMO, drove me crazy. Apparently we got off easy in DC – the list of people he did in LA is just insane.) For this production, Mr Gunderson, who for my purposes is very well known, has performed many times at Covent Garden, sings one aria (Una furtiva lagrima from L’Elisir d’Amore – very famous aria even if the opera as a whole isn’t over-performed), and that’s it. Then a couple of Russian ballet dancers do a pas de deux. Very pared-down scene in this production.

The cast is quite good – not big stars, but solid, dependable performers in vocal terms. In terms of acting, Burke (Alfred) tends to overact, Poole (Rosalinde) to not even bother, and Brannigan (Orlovsky) is extremely obviously in drag, so one can either make jokes about Orlovsky being a total ponce or a total tom, whichever one prefers. (Her most obvious feature is her large bosom, but this has been effectively hidden in the costuming that makes it look instead as if she were in a fat suit – again, I can’t make this stuff up, the woman in Washington Opera’s production was wretched in the exact same way.) Frosch is a non-singing role that exists for comedy only and is usually taken by a comedian. I’ve invented a comedian who was popular in the provincial music halls a few years ago for the task. He’s still amusing, but others are more popular now. Anyone British from outside of London is more likely to recognise his name than the Londoners. The named roles are all taken by people who have done named roles in London opera and operetta before – Murphy (Blind) works very often for D’Oyly Carte. Miss Poole, however, should be completely unfamiliar to the audience and thus there should be some surprise that she does not absolutely suck.

Our producer is Mr Lloyd Dewing – he is friends with Lady Penelope Goldstone, has loads of money, and will marry Miss Poole in the spring (she’ll be wife number 3, so please do note the thirty year age difference). She wanted a proper role before she gives up the stage, so he is giving it her. This much may or may not be known – it is surely gossiped about in his circles and her circles, but anyone coming in off the street won’t have heard it.

The production takes place at the Royal Court Theatre, in Chelsea. At the time (well, ok, at the turn of the century so I’m saying at the time), it was a popular house for comedies and operettas. Three levels: Stalls, Dress Circle, and Balcony (Gods). Important people in the Dress, less important people in the stalls, and friends of the crew/those who only want cheap tickets in the gods. The foyer and bar are very nice (or so we are pretending since with all the renovations, I’ve no idea what it looked like c. 1910), and for the opening night party after the show, waiters in white tie circulate through the crowd with cham and hors d’oeuvres, and the bars upstairs and down are open as well. The house will remain open, and of course the smoking lounge for the Dress will be well-populated.

So, wander about as you like. Ask people about the show if you think they look cute – it’s a great place to pick up boys *g*. All the actors are around, and the party will run all night because one wants to see if any of the critics a) bothered to come and b) actually said something nice, so everyone will get completely trashed whilst waiting for the morning papers to be printed. (unless they leave early to have sex *g*) Conversations go in the comments - please title your comment with who is speaking, as has been done before.
» Conversation: Julian Howard and Slade Montague
Thursday, February 20th

It's 10:15 in the morning, and I'm running late. I've already been up painting for hours, trying to finish off August's portrait. Penelope was not pleased I hadn't finished it. I am not sure she understands how long it takes to create a half way decent work of art. Maybe if I hadn't been so distracted by trying to scrub paint and semen off my floor I would have had more time to paint. But I could never tell her that, so I made my excuses and told her it would be ready soon.
I spent far too long trying to get clean after painting. I had to go all the way home then come back after I finished my work, since I've not got anywhere to wash in the studio other than my paint-streaked sink, which is currently only producing cold water. I seemed destined to be without warmth in one way or another all winter long.
I huff down the street, my breath blowing out in big clouds of steam. I hate being late, normally I'm so punctual.
I push my way into Slade Montague's shop; a little bell jingles.
"Hello?" I call to the empty room.


As eclectictastes7: Ah! I'm so sorry it has been so long. School &tc. are trying to eviscerate me of any sort of free time.
» Letter: Jonathan Winter to Vivien Culworth
17 February

Dear Vivien,

I searched through Malcolm's room at home to see if I could find anything that might help us against him. Nothing. It must all be in his rooms at school.

The question is, how do we get in? The only things I can think of are ridiculously theatrical plans involving pretenses and disguises. It has to be easier than that.

Or do we need to get into his rooms at all? If only he weren't so closed-lipped at home, I could at least know the name of a friend of his to start with. Although - he did see Kenneth White over the Christmas holidays. Kenneth is an old friend of his from when they were boys. I might find something there.

Still, our situation is far from hopeful. I've started trying to learn Italian.

In Lourdes overhead very elegant yarrow opens ultimately. I'm sure you can figure out that last; it's easier than you might think, and something you already know.

Jonathan
» Conversation:James Trent and Julian Howard
17 February

I arrive at Mr. Trent's studio at the appointed time. I must admit I'm a bit nervous; it's been a long while since I've had an employ at modeling. I know there's no reason for me to have lost my touch, but I still worry.

I ring the bell; after a minute I hear someone descend the stairs inside. The door opens, it's Mr. Trent.
"Good afternoon," I say.
» Journal Entry: Alleyn Wallace
23 February

Just when I think everything may be all right after all, the dress is an utter disaster in ways that even the superstitious part of me cannot accept. Wretched dress, glorious opening my arse. The set is too cluttered in Act I and looks vile; too bare in Act II and looks vile; so well-constructed and designed in Act III that Acts I and II look even worse in comparison. There is too much furniture in Act I and I got thoroughly bored in the wait to remove it all. The sofa is huge, hideous, and constantly in the way. It probably blocks the view of the dining table from the first several rows of the stalls, but thats of no import when the only important people, including the director, sit only in the dress circle or the boxes. Cornwell hasn't entered the stalls since yesterday morning. We barely have a big enough chorus to fill the stage in Act II, and while we have a chandelier, the "banquet table" is too small for the stage and the bench on which Rosalinde and Eisenstein flirt is too far stage left and would never be put in the same room as that chandelier. I can only hope it looks less threadbare from the stalls - it's a horror up close. It seems all the energy, or funds, have gone into the prison. How it is that we have a three-sided cage for a cell, with the rear being a fully constructed wooden back instead of a canvas drop as we have for the first-act drawing room and the ballroom? It's a beautiful piece of work - we must have bought it from someone. Has that awful drawing room comedy closed? Ideal Ignorance or whatever it was called? Perhaps its set was for sale. I liked that sofa.

I'll have to speak to Cornwell about it in the morning - he left with Dewing tonight, so there was no opportunity to say anything in a timely fashion. But something has to be done about that sofa.

I won't have any friends at opening who are not in the cast - this is rather unusual. Everyone is either working or out of town, which is lucky for them and I don't begrudge anyone success, but the last time I opened without a single friendly face in the audience was that panto last holiday, and that was by choice. I don't need the constant approval, but it is nice to have a friendly face in the audience who can say it wasn't as bad as you think, even when you both know it was. No family - Minnie and Frank won't come, and Gracie isn't allowed unchaperoned, and Sam is working nights for the next three weeks - and no friends. Unless Julian Howard does come, but that will be awkward, with his master and his lover both present. The whole thing will be awkward - Julian, Lowell, Thea.

And the worst isn't even the set. Steve Pettison is SM (stage manager, to you future civilian who hasn't tossed aside this record of the life of an Edwardian invert, never Victorian, thank you very much), and while ordinarily that would be a good sign, he's been given a couple of kids to assist him. And I do mean kids. The boy is pimply and his mouth hangs open every time he looks at Dostner (apparently I travel in the wrong circles because I'm not famous enough to inspire the kid's awe). The girl is the plain, efficient, silent type, the sort whom you can barely hear when they work the telephone exchange and are best set to arranging libraries and filing rooms, not at all suited to chastening the exuberant race known as actors. Both of them worthless.

We have managed to complicate an easy operetta. We have managed to make banal what is really a very modern story - look at how the woman is the one in control and the men in her life are juveniles even though her husband is greatly her senior in terms of years. Incompetant staff has ripped apart what Miss Poole undoubtedly meant as a compelling statement of and explanation for her marriage into something thoroughly banal and incomprehensible. Her Alfred may not even recognise himself unless we pull off a miracle tomorrow night. And I do not doubt that he will be there. But it is not our fault. It is not the actors nor the crew at fault here, but the production staff. We do what we are told, and we have been told rubbish. The right hand never knows what the left does, but it is not its job to know. It is the job of the brain to coordinate those actions.

Pettison. Cornwell is a joke. I'll speak to Pettison about the sofa tomorrow.

(as Mme B)
I'm holding off to give Slade and Julian a chance to figure their bit out. Expect the proper party post next week.
» Conversation: Julian Howard & Slade Montague
21 February

I've been anticipating this day with mingled fear and excitement. The gallery looks somewhat drab from the outside, a bit grubby with peeling paint. Still it does have a quaint appeal, nothing a good shining up couldn't fix. The walk over was not too arduous, I dare say I almost found it pleasent. The weather has been rather well recently,.. oh listen to me, mumbling to myself about the weather when a new friend is waiting behind these doors.

I let myself in the gallery, and find no living person in sight, only appalling art stacked against the walls. The grime is evidence enough of their lack of favour, a thin greenishbrown sheen coats every canvas in sight, obscuring the colours underneath. Ye gods, how can such a magnificent creature as Julian Howard work around such hideous art? I truly hope none of this is his, I would find myself most disappointed in him. No, no I refuse to believe any of these are his, in actuality they look too old to be, probably pieces inherited by the shop's owner through a pedigree of bad taste.

Coming closer to the back of the shop where the refreshingly clean and polished counter is, I toy with the idea of ringing the small cluster of bronze bells suspended from the ceiling. Smirking at the thought, I decide a gently amplified voice summons into the musty depths of the back rooms will suffice.

"Hello?"
» Journal Entry: Alleyn Wallace
20 February

Well, I'm shot of Lowell for the week. We're into the theatre now, which means we all must endure Cornwell, but he has suddenly understood that there is a time limit - it seems the orchestra has forced that on him in the days he spent with them.

We had a proper runthrough in the morning, and everything does sound quite good. Even Thea. Gunderson is here, so it wasn't just an idle rumour. Thank god. I need every bit of support i can get, even if he will only be singing Una Furtiva Lagrima. This afternoon was spent in blocking the first half of act I, and it went surprisingly well with very little intervention necessary on my part. Miss Poole seems more confident with me visible, however, than when I was standing in the wings, which is rather worrying. She shouldn't lean on me for anything, though I suppose that other than her husband, I am the only one who has presented an assumption that she has talents.

We're at the Royal Court in Sloane Square - I was last here two or three years ago for La Cenerentola. Small house, which is appropriate, quite nice, actually, as far as stage room and orchestra pit. The dressing rooms are painfully small, but for a four week run, they will do well enough. They're in better condition than many in the city - Her Majesty's is so old the dressing rooms are appalling. It is rather nice to be in Chelsea, for all that. No theatrical pubs as there are on the Strand, so I can go home after the performance without feeling that I am being very rude in avoiding Thea. And the foyer is quite nice, as well, so the opening party will have sufficient room.

Now that we seem to be running more smoothly, I am beginning to get into it a bit. Despite the difficulty of switching between German and English. If the critics bother to come, they will ream us for it. But I know the production could be much worse. And, after all, it is turning out more Fledermaus than Bat. I only hope that Cornwell isn't a fool and can manage the party scene, for that will become chaos very quickly.

(as Mme B)
Who wants to come to a party?! I know Augie and Julian (and Penelope) and Damien will all be there, but the rest of you are also invited to opening night! The opera is Die Fledermaus; opening is Friday, 24 February, at 8 pm, with a reception afterwards. For those of you who don't hang out in the theatre community in real life, opening nights are traditionally for the cast, crew, production team, backers, critics, and bigwigs. However, it is sometimes possible to purchase tickets to an opening. With this production, Dress Circle and Gallery tickets will be available should any of you want to come but not invent a friend in the cast, crew, or production team. It's a great opportunity to have people meet who might not otherwise, and that'll circulate characters through the game.

If Marauder has no objections, I'll set it up later in the week and we'll run it the way we ran Penelope's party, with convos in the comments.
» Journal Entry: Alleyn Wallace
15 February

Life has become thoroughly awkward. We are now under munity - under my lead - with Miss Pool's permission. Heaven knows how that will play out between them tonight. She does improve greatly when left alone - but I begin to think she is Rosalinde and this production is a signal to her Alfred that she will have her Eisenstein. Dostner and I will do well together - mutual respect always comes across on stage. I do worry about how tomorrow will go - I've not directed in my life, and while I look forward to it, and we need little help, I cannot help being terrified. Thea won't do at all - I am more feminine than she is masculine. Considerable work necessary, and I don't want to do it.

But there is something even more awkard than Thea. It seems Julien's keeper is friends with Mr Dewing, for August Lowell came in today as rehearsal pianist. He has a happy talet for sight reading and will prove very useful to me in rehearsal if he continues to be as compliant as today. However, today I suspct he was hungover as such acquiescence, and fatigue, seem outside his character. He did not recall meeting me last week - I admit to a certain pleasure in hearing him address me as Falke because he did not know my name. His playing is certainly better than his composing, though I shan't say that to him.

My worry here is not for myself or the show but for Julian. I would very much like him to be at opening, but with Mr Lowell and his keeper present, it may not be possible or desirable. And I feel as if I have intruded on his life, however inuntinded. It is not what I would have wished. After rehearsal, I decamped immediately to a pub, composed a note, and slipped it into the mail slot at the gallery. I hope he may hear this news from me - or even from his keeper - rather than from Mr Lowell. Why do I suspect last night's fatigue was not from Julian? Why do I even care when Julian is patently not faithful to either his keeper or Mr Lowell?

I wish so badly that David could be here to advise me - in all of it. The show, yes, for I need his insight. He was always invaluable as a critic and friend. But I need advice on the personal situation as well. Of course, if David were here, there would be no situation. I would never have met the boy. And God only knows what jobs I might have taken had a still the stability of David's income. But no, I do suspect I would still be here. I've always wanted to try out the German in German. But Thea would be the great awkwardness, not Lowell. I should, by rights, know nothing of him. I should keeep my knowledge to myself, admit only that we were briefly introdcued in the street a week ago. If he continues as today, it shall be simple. But life would be better if the situation were impossible.

What would you advise me, David? Ignoring for the moment that I fear I may be using Julian as a pale replacement for you (I can't imagine French from those lips, in any case - the boy has Italian written all over him), what would you advise? Prudence? Of course. But not at the expense of fun or even of daring. It is friendship, not investment. Only a Forsyte counts his friendships, and his art, as investements instead of pleasures. I wish I could consider mine a pleasure rather than a sorrow. Does it matter to you that I cannot get to Golders Green tonight? Are you even there? Would you really have left all you love? But you're not here. I don't feel you at all. At least I feel something among the graves, even if it is not you.

What would you say to me? Something witty or something dull? Something dull and comforting in this case. All you can do is be a gentleman, for Lowell will probably prove a prat. I'm clubbable, therefore I am a gentleman. Merits and wide friendships, not my father's name and position. Is Lowell really clubbable? Julian isn't, but for a different reason. He's a solitary sort. Dewing is eminently clubbable. I wonder if he knows anything of Lowell. Not the sexual nature. The personality.

The important question here, and I'm sure you agree, David, is what does Julian really see in Lowell? Beauty, of course, and a cocksure attitude. But he would paint him as Apollo, and that will assuredly lead to heartbreak. Not that Apollo was particularly kind, but there is no healing in Lowell. Call him Narcissus if there must be something classical about him. All of his type are Narcissi. His lack of care for the situations of others, and his inordinate pride in the drivel he calls incidental music, show him to be a full member of his tribe. I worry too much for a boy with experience I can barely imagine. My pride wouldn't allow the things he has done. David was always the butt at school; I was always welcomed openly. I suspect Lowell forced himself on people and led quite a crew. That is probably what Julian sees in him, the chance to be liked by the very same people who beat him down. Thea Brannigan is the same type, the old cow. Imagine Lowell twenty years hence with the opportunity to take a reasonably innocent and attractive young man under his wing. Hell, why wait? Shep certainly wasn't that much my senior. If I hadn't known of Julian's time in Italy, I might suspect something of that sort here. I must keep Thea and Lowell away from each other. He's better bred than either Thea or Shep, but he is an American, after all, and breeding may not keep him apart from others who are otherwise like-minded. They could make life a hell for both Julian and me. But Lowell can know nothing if Thea does not tell him or if Julian does not tell him. I shall have to trust Julian. I don't think Julian will volunteer much of me - I suspect he told me the truth when he said I was his only friend in London. I'm the only person he knows not connected with his keeper, and now even that has gone to rot.

I should go to bed. I worry too much for the boy. My concerns should be for the show, not for him. He has taken care of himself before. I can only hope my presence in his life will not accidentally prove the catalyst for a storm.
» Journal entry: Jonathan Winter
14 February

I hadn't seen Vivien in forever; he was busy with university and both of us were still worried about Malcolm. So today I took the train to Oxford to find him. I couldn't very well not see him today, of all days.

He wasn't in his rooms; his scout thought he'd gone to the Bodelian, so I went to search for him there. Which, of course, is ridiculous - finding someone in the Bodelian could take you all day.

Luckily I found him right off, as he was leaving just as I started up the steps. "Jonathan," he said, flushing slightly. I love it when he flushes like that.

"Thought we'd have a bit of dinner," I said. He wouldn't look at me.

"I can't, Jonathan, I have things to do."

What could I say to him? I couldn't very well ask him if he didn't love me anymore. Besides, it was a stupid thing to ask...or perhaps not. He seemed so different from the way I've always seen him.

"Vivien..."

"I'll telephone later," he said.

So now I sit here, solitary, in my nearly empty flat, hoping for the telephone to ring. Outside on the street there are assorted men with their ladies going off to dinner or the theatre. I can't begin to think of what might be wrong with Vivien.
» Conversation: Julian Howard and August Lowell
Feburary 16th

I'm in my studio, trying to set up for ickle Auggie's portrait setting. I am not in a particulary good mood today. The last few days have been perfectly pleasant, but now I not only have to interact with July, I also have to have him in my only private space, my studio. He's been cropping up everywhere - he's apparently working with Alleyn, too, so I won't even be able to go see the new performance in peace. He'll surely be there, and Penelope wants to go as well now. Shite.
Anyway, Penelope wants a picture of her pretty ickle Auggie and I must oblige. I couldn't have him to my apartment because Ms. Hedgely would kill me if I got even a spot of paint on her precious carpets, so he's to meet me here. I've hidden away the watercolour of him I was working on and cleaned up a bit, but otherwise everything is still out in the open. Cavases of nude or nearly nude men in various allegorical poses are mixed in with sketches of far less lofty themes. I haven't drawn a woman since Penelope last had me paint her. I just can't seem to get the folds of their bodies right, nor do I really desire to do so.
At least the radiator got fixed, so we won't freeze, and at least the light is nice today. Maybe I can have him in and out fast. I just need to paint his face, the rest I can fill in later if need be.

There's a knock on the door. I unlock and open it, and there stands August, of course.
"You're late," I say.
» Journal Entry: Quentin Blakeley
15 February

St. Valentine’s Day. Perhaps there is no better showcase of the depravity and sad state of the human condition. Men are eager to buy cards and candies and hothouse flowers for the women they will scorn and ignore the rest of the year. Truly a day only for the benefit of the merchants. And people such as myself.

A man approached me yesterday looking to buy a diamond ring for his wife. It was not my business to enquire why he didn’t seek out a respectable jewelers, so I introduced him to an acquaintance of my father’s who has connections in Africa. He is always pleased when I point customers in his direction, and paid me a quite handsome percentage of the money he made off the poor fool.

Speaking of business, word has it that the police are coming down very hard on renters and those who seek their services. I fail to see the reasoning behind this. I will be the first to admit I am a bad man, but not because I choose to be with men rather than women. However, I will have to be even more discrete in my endeavours, and advise my employees to do the same.

I had an interesting encounter with a client last week. I met him at the Alhambra. He was not the type who should have taken a renter. He needed more than physical release, and I certainly am not the one to give it to him. Still, he was not unkind and he paid me well. He pitied me, though, and that I cannot stand. I know very well what I was, and how that differs from what I have become. It was entirely a matter of my own choosing, and I neither want nor need any man to feel sorry for me.
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