Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Bye Bye Bete

Well, well, well. Now? Now I feel like a bit of a twat.

Now followeth a sanitised and updated version of what I wrote in a heightened state of emotional blood-letting - or perhaps bed-wetting - on Sunday night. If you caught that last post before I deleted it in what was a surprisingly satisfying move, I apologise for what might look like rewritten history. It's not. It's just a less Tanya Gold way of looking at it.

The mystery has been solved; the mystery that I didn't even realise was a mystery until last Monday. That's the best kind of mystery, right? The kind that whips the rug out from under your feet, when you could have sworn you were standing, feeling the grass squiggle pleasantly beneath your toes, in an entirely empty field?

Yes, it is.

Bete De Jour is no more: killed in a metaphysical flash of light by his author and creator, Karl Webster. Read the linked "twat" up there (linked twat? Hi, guy who's just arrived here from Google! I know pretty much everything can be found on the internet, but "linked twat"? I think you might have just found the mythical edge of the perversion universe. Congratulations) and you'll see that last October, I went a bit funny over Bete De Jour. Obviously, that post wasn't even an atomic layer of the funnyness. I went a LOT funny. As my closest friends will attest, going funny over a boy is something I do with almost clockwork regularity, despite (because of? No. Er...no. Really. I promise. No) being in a stable and long-term relationship. Usually, it's fine; a miniature obsession which burns with the fiery intensity of magnesium; all light and heat and drama for a few seconds, then nothing but an empty crucible and an audience of bored 11-year-old science students, who have all learned NOTHING.

But this one was different. It flamed for a bit, sparkled and hissed as normal, but then, something in the school science lab caught, and the whole thing went up in a conflagration of burning uniforms and screams and pain, and I was standing outside with a tiny glass of water which evaporated in an instant and I was powerless against the onslaught and I was paralysed with fear and I nearly, very nearly, flipped my lid completely. I nearly, very nearly, decided that that was it for my stable long-term relationship, and that my future lay with someone I didn't know, and I'd never even met.

I knew it was insane, and that telling a random man off of the internet that we were as entwinéd as fronds of ivy in the rosebush of destiny - or more likely emailing him "Omigod I love your blog! I could probably be persuaded to shag you if no-one else will!" - was probably in the top ten of really, really, the worst things I could ever do, and so thankfully, I didn't. And eventually, it burnt itself out (the students were all wearing flame-retardant full-body thermals underneath their uniform. Don't worry yourself.) But never once during the inferno, or since, did I think that the random man off of the internet wasn't, strictly speaking, real. Dodged quite the bullet there, yeah? Hence, my twattish opening statement.

He's not real. He's a fictional composite of autobiographical elements and fantasy. I didn't see this coming. And when it did come, and the looming visage of Stan Cattermole vanished, and the curtain was whisked away and someone older, more attractive, less elbows, appeared, I thought I'd be totally humiliated. Angry. Furious.

But I'm not. It's not about what was real and what wasn't. I even said in my original blog that this might have been a carefully constructed "perfect" character designed to ensnare passing womenfolk into pouring out their hearts and flashing their boobs onto emails. No, that's unfair. That sounds predatory. Whatever Karl Webster's motives were, I'm sure they weren't that sleazy (though who knows, right? Never believe what you read on the internet. Gah! When! When will I learn my lesson!) Even if it was all completely fictional, what I fell for - if I may use such an inappropriate term - was the writing itself, not the content. So his cat didn't die. His account of what someone could feel when their cat died was enough to tie my throat into knots and shake from head to tail and make one of my colleagues think I was completely batshit mental, and be slightly wary of me to this day. That's what counts. That ongoing feeling he provoked of despondency and alienation.

Kidding.

Actually, that smacks of rationalisation so that I feel like less of a twat to me, but never mind. We'll push on through.

The only thing that bothers me is that I really wanted parts of it to be real, to prove that it could happen. Specifically, the parts that kind of related to David, the writer from my "twat" blog above. Where the anonymous blogger - ahem! - writes with such beauty and passion and humanity - ahem! AHEM! - that people actually recognise them in the street, fall in love, have doomed romances, blah, blah, blah - AAAAAAAA*coughs up lung* - ahh, hell. Look, I'm needy. Frankly, you've guessed that by now. I'm secure in my neediness. Most of the time. But it saddens me that Stan Cattermole never met a true love running in a park, that he never told someone a fairy-tale at a speed dating evening, that he never had thrillingly literate cybersex with a stranger. Cos if Stan Cattermole never did, there's a good chance Just Resting My Eyes never will.

Not that I want to.

And unless Karl Webster did all those things.

This is all very confusing.

Hey ho. Farewell to Bete De Jour: if it's been anything, it's been a pleasure to read his blog, and I do recommend his book which is great apart from this bit -

;-)

- slight split loyalties there, I'll admit. I'm definitely going to read it again with the fresh knowledge that it's a fiction and see how my previous feelings are refracted through it. I expect I'll feel very sheepish for a bit then enjoy it in a romping style. He's a good writer. He's a great fiction writer who created a sympathetic and believable character. But he's an author. And I've got a big old real life with a real name and a real partner which I am going to retreat back into and enjoy.

But before I do, one more thing to give thanks and almighty praise for: Bete De Jour - Karl Webster - THANK YOU for not turning out to be Martin Amis. I just don't think I could have handled it.

8 comments:

Carnalis said...

That all made perfect sense to me. I too shall reread the book with (hopefully) less pain than the first time i read it. Less weeping into my pillow as well, please. It is a great book.

I never thought of sending him pictures of my bottom ..

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

Indeed it made sense, and was rather lovely in its own right. I like your style.

My eyes have gone completely bonkers now though. I can't see my keyboard properly. Seriously, I have major after-images which are making me feel quite dizzy. It's the white on black, my head can't cope.

La Bête said...

Hello Eyes lady. First up, I'm really glad you're not furious. And I'm really thankful for your words. They make me feel proud, which I know is not necessarily good, but you know, fuck it. Secondly, why is everyone having a pop at Martin Amis these days? Is it because he's cold? Or because of his anti-Islamic remarks? Because if it's the former, I can sympathise. It's like Amis and McEwan = cold and warm. Amis and Barnes = cold and warm. Amis and Marlo Stanfield = cold and warm.

But I still love him.

In fact – and I'm sorry to have to tell you this, Just Resting My Eyes – but... I am him.

I'm Martin Amis.

No, I'm not really Martin Amis. I'm far too tall. Probably just about drunk enough though. And my teeth are on the way out.

Anyway, thank you. I'd like to say also that although disguises were worn, they were purely cosmetic. And although I never did those things either. I do hold out hope that I can. And in a way, Stan Cattermole gave me that hope.

No, I'm perfectly serious.

Thanks again. And sorry again. Whichever seems most appropriate.

K


Oh, and Carnalis, it's never too late. ~winks~

Ishouldbeworking said...

Hmm, tricky one. When I started my blog I thought for a while that I'd write it as though I was a bloke, just as a bit of an exercise. But when I realised people were reading it and taking my deception at face, I felt very uncomfortable and came clean.

This reminds me of Armistead Maupan's 'The Night Listener', which you may have read. The circumstances and medium may have been different, but the core issue is the same. Plus, of course, both Armistead and 'La Bete' got books out of it...

misspiggy said...

Well yes. Quite. But a definite upside is finding your blog, which I wouldn't have done if it hadn't been for all this Karl/Stan frippery. And you are a flipping fantastic writer, so I am very glad I now have something extra to look forward to.

P.S. The southern fried chicken Supanoodles bit made me laugh and laugh, which was also cheering.

justrestingmyeyes said...

Carnalis, Squirrel: thanks. I'm glad it made sense. It's nice to think someone is kind of chiming with you when you write this kind of stuff, alone and shivering, in the long dark teatime of the soul... :) (oh, and sorry for the white-on-black)

NotAmis: it's because I read London Fields, then I read it again, then I got incredibly angry that I had wasted two books' worth of my life on someone who, in my uneducated view, is a teenage onanist who visited a spooky fortune teller booth like in Big and wished for the superpower of literary pretension. Nicola Six? Do me a bloody favour.

Anyway, hackles down. Cheers for dropping by, Karl. Glad I could make you proud, if uncomfortable.

ISBW: I haven't read that book, but I have now Wikipedia'd it (same thing, isn't it?) and you're totally right. Very interesting parrallel. Less about the "forgery", more about the relationship between the reader and the "forger"... Hmm. You are the height of perception as always, ISBW. Cheers.

Misspiggy: well, thank you very much, you are very lovely to say so! I hope I don't immediately let you down. Well, I say immediately, I blog about once every syzygy, so...

Thanks to anyone else who read this post, by the way. *waves*

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justrestingmyeyes said...

Yeah, everyone apart from you, Mr Logographic Alphabet. I can't even be bothered to delete you any more. Whatever.

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Frankly: I hope it's Chinese.