Dolphin’s Peeler by 1990s Chris
He lowers the basket into the frier,
The golden liquid hisses,
Drowns out the football on the radio,
Small spots of oil splash his skin,
His arms flinching,
Face not changing.
I have been watching him,
For what I think is an insignificant amount of time,
Until he asks me the significance.
‘Do you want a go or something?
It ain’t any fun, I’ll tell you that.’
I mumble something about,
Wanting to know how it works,
Thinking of a normal question, like,
‘How hot does that thing go?’
I just want to look at him,
And his hands, working quickly.
How he turns gloopy pale sausages,
Into crisp golden ones,
That we get away with selling for £1.75.
How his t-shirt that probably used to fit him,
Now clings to his shoulders,
And sags down to his trackies,
Revealing the waistband of his boxers,
When he reaches for the containers.
For curry sauce, mushy peas and gravy.
I think about him giving me a lift home,
What I say I will do in return.
In the back of his Citroen Saxo,
What he was planning on all along.
She launches the chips onto the tray,
Wrapping them faster than they can fall.
Consistent delivery of her lines,
‘Salt and vinegar, darling?’
Freshness found in every recital.
I’ve been watching her,
I think it has gone unnoticed.
Until she raises her eyebrows,
‘You trying to skive again, love?’
I say no, as I don’t want to seem lazy.
Wondering if I ever have skived before.
She rifles through the 20s,
Puts half in the till, holds half up and says,
‘What do you reckon?’
I just want to look at her,
And her shape,
Juggling fragile pies into paper bags.
Teasing golden chips into floury baps,
That she can’t believe people buy for £2.20.
How her polo is snug across her hips,
She smooths it down,
In between customers,
Her collar is up and down all at once,
None of the buttons in use,
Left open to show her gold plated cross,
Flickering in the strip lights of the chippy.
I think about us going for a drink,
The twenties tucked into her bra,
What the inside of her flat is like,
And what she makes us for breakfast.
I pass the time like this, daydreaming.
Peeling potatoes for a living,
Leaves a lot of space to fill.
When I get the bus home alone,
I pay with money that I didn’t steal.
Q – Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
I am a queer, bisexual, working class poet from Hereford. Mostly, I write for film, audio and performance. I tell stories from my part of the world, and
try to start conversations around masculinity, class, and queer identity
I run an LGBTQ+ youth group. I love Drag, and Strongman.
Q – How does your work incorporate your queerness?
Whatever I try and write there is always something about queerness, class or gender in there. I think it’s unavoidable, at least it is for me. I write a lot about my ‘awakenings’, you know, the hints that
I wasn’t quite like the other boys.
I like how they tell you so much about a person.
For me, a working class kid in rural Herefordshire, Kerrang magazine was where I first saw the adrongny that made me ask a lot of questions about myself. Art and performance allows some room for different gender expression and sexuality, at least for white middle class men. So, without these expressions that I accessed through TV, dial up internet and a newsagents,
without these works of art, how long would it have taken me to work out who I was?
Proper queer representation goes a hell of a lot further, and genuinely think it saves lives. Some of the young people I work with talk about music, poetry, film or art like it has given them permission to be who they are. It is the first time you are introduced to the idea of who you might be, or what options there are of being. I think they are right.
Q – What do you want people to take away from your work?
My favourite thing is when people tell me that they properly relate to my work, and thank me for it. This is honestly the best feeling in the world. These people are usually masc presenting men, and they normally say it sheepishly, and check that not too many people are looking. Its that, or people tell me they have a male friend that could really benefit from talking to me. I think that’s because I am honest about my shame… I’m still working through it, who isn’t?
I want people to share the journey with me, and feel represented.
But I think that’s what all creative work is about really, it’s just about connection.
I want to connect with my people, because really we are quite invisible.
Q – Our 2nd issue is themed ‘Dream’ can you tell us how you interpreted that?
So, my work pretty much focuses exclusively on real life. Even if it’s fiction, it’s set in the real world. I am very into gritty british drama, so dreamlike ideas rarely come to me. I did realise that I write about daydreaming, sort of, quite a lot.
I write about my trail of consciousness whilst something is happening or whatever. So that’s where this piece came from for me.
I wanted to write something that was from a uniquely working class experience, and explored the mindset of having a mind numbing job. You daydream about what your life could be like.
Sometimes you daydream about having relationships with your coworkers
imagine what it would be like sleeping with them, arguing with them in the supermarket, or stealing all the money from the till and going to Magaluf for a week.
I wanted to celebrate that bit of the daydream people don’t like to admit
and I also wanted to celebrate how working class self expression is attractive – it only ever seems to be fetishised or stolen…
Q – important is it to be able to have a space that you can express yourself as a Bi talent?
My work, to steal something from my mate and collaborator, Lucie Rachel, is where I ‘exercise’ my queerness. It’s where I practise it, it’s where I work things out.
Its my queer playground.
Last year I took the decision to really try and put my work in more visible spaces. I applied for New Creatives, with Rural Media, and got to produce an amazing piece of work and collaborate with some amazing queer creatives, and some lovely allies along the way. You can find my audio work ‘Erasure Island’ on BBC sounds which explores bisexual erasure and other queer themes. Check out Rural Media for opportunities too, I’m really grateful to them for helping me get the story out.
It really makes a difference having a space to share, it kind of implies there is a community around that space.
Any inkling of a community gives bi-sexual people an incredible feeling.
We just want to belong, so thank you to you, for the space, and for what you guys are doing. Let’s all be mates. Follow me on instagram.
Q – If you had one piece of advice for your younger self (looking back now) what would it be and why?
Queer people ask and get asked this a lot. I think that, in a way, shows us how much learning we have to do to become ourselves. I would say
‘Being queer doesn’t make you any less of a man, let go of that.
Stop trying to hold on to love where it isn’t, you deserve the real thing’. I might also say to not buy so many trainers.
Q – If you had to sum up the wonder that is the bi community in one sentence, what would it be?
We are in between, and forever asked to prove it.
He / Him | Hereford/Bristol | Retail Shop Manager and Writer/Performer
1990’s Chris was interviewed by Lucy Everett