As the clock chimed six the door to the coffee shop suddenly flew open and there stood David Benson looking like a windswept Bonnie Tyler.
‘Am I late darling?’
‘No, not at all.’
Then he gave me a peck on the cheek and whisked me off to Soho’s Curzon cinema.
We were there to see A Prophet but, as David hates the adverts, we decided to have a hot chocolate in the upstairs café. And it was gorgeous. Like sipping melted chocolate. And as we chatted, too poor to buy a cake of our own, we dipped our fingers into the icing of the one the woman next to us had left behind and, five minutes later, we ‘sugar rushed’ ourselves downstairs to Screen 1.
Set in a prison, A Prophet stars newcomer Tahar Rahim. And what a great piece of casting that was. I saw A Single Man last week and there’s a scene in it where Colin Firth learns that his boyfriend has just died. And in that scene Firth displays a variety of emotions. But, as captivating as it was, all I kept thinking, as the tears were running down his face, was, ‘what great acting.’ The difference with Rahim’s performance is that without the baggage of previous performances to compare it against, it didn’t look like acting. It was like watching a documentary. A very violent documentary. And for a number of scenes I found myself clinging to David’s arm, peeping up at the screen between splayed fingers. Which isn’t to say the violence was nonsensical. It was well set up. There was conflict, consequences, turmoil and realistic looking blood.
I like a bit of blood in a film. Whether it’s menstrual (Carrie), flooding through a hallway (The Shining) or oozing over a blanket of snow (Let The Right One In). In A Prophet it comes out in spurts. Gushing out all over the place it was. But what was also nice were all the bum shots. There were bum shots in A Single Man but they were arty bum shots. Bums drifting in cloudy swimming pools. Bums lingering seductively in bedrooms. In A Prophet they were ‘dangerous’ bum shots. ‘Strip search’ bum shots. Prison shower scene bum shots. Which is probably why, every time one filled the screen, I’d nudge David or he’d nudge and we’d have a little nervous giggle.
Two ‘bum and blood filled’ hours later we left and made our way to the little Vietnamese restaurant on Greek Street and, once we’d settled, we quickly got down to our favorite topic of conversation, death. We discuss death a lot. When David’s performing or I’m writing we tend to forget about it. But when neither of us is doing anything creative we start to question what our life means, whether we’ve wasted it and what we’ll leave behind. If this period drags on too long things can get a bit extreme. David will sneeze and think he’s got cancer. I’ll tell him to stop being silly and then imagine myself dropping dead on the way home. Although talking about death I find strangely uplifting and by the time we’d finished eating we were completely rejuvenated, almost ready to die.
That was Monday. On Thursday I ventured, (with the husband) to the outer reaches of Bethnal Green to see the Peeping Tom exhibition at the Vegas gallery in which, amongst artists such as Tracey Emin and Gavin Turk, Sebastian Horsley had submitted a piece.
In keeping with the fact that this is a ‘Soho’ related column Sebastian, for those of you that don’t know, is a Soho resident and legend. The author of the book Dandy In The Underworld, Sebastian describes himself as ‘an artist and a failed suicide’ and he can often be found gliding down Old Compton Street in a three foot tall top hat and Victorian undertaker’s drag.
We found his piece straightaway, although it did catch us by surprise. I mean, it’s not every day you see a photo of a friend with an erection about to penetrate a limbless hooker.
I emailed Sebastian the next day to ask him how the show went.
‘I didn’t enjoy it at all,’ he replied. ‘I felt naked and exposed. So I gathered the threads of my personality about me like a policeman escorting a nudist and left…Oh, and you were right. The photo was doctored. I had to reduce the size of my penis. I am one of the few males that cause penis envy in men as well as women. And this would have been most impolite.