Diary of a Separation (When Learning Becomes a Tesco Bag: For Life)

Foreplay, cycling and cinema. Not all three at the same time and certainly not in a kinky way

My circumnavigation of Londontown Photo by the author

Monday 27th May 2019

Lifelong learning became my mantra when I was in uni. It was as if a door had been opened for me and a message left on the other side. One that read “learning is fun, enjoy the journey.”

Applying this to my sexual life was one of the best decisions I made in my mid-20s. Slowly but surely I began to drop the macho mantle bequeathed to me by a male-focused society. It wasn’t easy. Correction. It hasn’t been easy. As my separation’s proved, certain habits became embedded and hard to get rid of.

Still, I did manage to shed some of my patriarchal privilege and to acknowledge that the patriarchy has benefitted me somewhat.

One of the advantages of this learning approach was that I started seeing my sexuality as an opportunity to be more open and honest with myself. A chance to look at the carnal act, not as a formula-resembling, rigid structure, but as an encounter between two similarly-minded individuals. Foreplay is a good case in point.

Going back to secondary school and the start of my sexual journey, we, boys, were always told that foreplay was the starter (that is, when someone bothered to explain what foreplay was). The aperitif before the main event (the main event being penetrative sex). That’s how we “fumbled” our way through our teens (pun intended). I’m sure that many fellow male adolescents of that time carried a timer in their heads set to five minutes.

But, then, you live and learn. And then, you live a bit more. And you learn a bit more. And one of the things you learn is that foreplay can very easily become “mainplay”. That “fore” needn’t be a fixed prefix. That there are two people in a bed (or elsewhere) for whom language can and will be reinterpreted in whatever way they wish.

The only example I can come up with is the humble vegetable curry. The side dish that is usually given for free when customers have placed large orders at a curry house.

This is the same side dish that can be eaten as a main one the day after with some hastily-cooked plain rice. And enjoyed even more because it cost us nothing.

Live and learn.

Southall, one of London’s cultural gems. Photo by the author

I never attempted to become the Cuban version of Ferdinand Magellan but it was always an ambition of mine to circumnavigate London. Today I accomplished it. Cycling from the capital’s northernmost borough (easy for me as I live here) clockwise, I rode through Havering (east), Croydon (south) and Hillingdon (west), ending my journey back in Enfield.

My previous attempt had ended just after Mitcham in south London last October. As soon as I arrived in Hillingdon today I felt like nailing a flag on the ground. Nine and a half hours moving time, almost ninety miles ridden and an average speed of 9.4 miles per hour.

There were so many highlights, but it’s the “firsts” I’ll never forget. For instance, my first time in Southall, one of London’s most vibrant South Asian hubs, was worth my aching limbs alone.

Saturday 20th July 2019

Lisbon Beat is not just a film about the innovative Afro-Portuguese music scene in the Lusitanian metropolis. It is also a cinematographic reflection on how musicians and producers from diverse (and often immigrant) backgrounds relate to the Portuguese capital. Beautifully shot and soundtracked. Highly recommend it.

London-based, Cuban writer. Author of “Cuban, Immigrant, and Londoner”, to be published by Austin Macauley. Has written for The Guardian and Prospect.

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