SO VERY ENGLISH EDITED BY MARSHA ROWE -
PUBLISHED BY SERPENT'S TAIL IN 1991
Irmgard
The sky's a sort of salmon pink and Irmgard's just left. It's a
bit lonely out here. I'm not sure whether I should be
around. Can you imagine how it feels? I'm British, never
liked foreigners much.
There are four doors in this room. One of them has a cat
flap. A cat's just arrived. It looks hard at me, trembles, then
walks past. I give it my special smile, but it doesn't seem to
work. It isn't impressed.
Now the sky's changed colour; dark muddy brown with
glowing red streaks. The yellow curtains reflect the red; the
red on yellow, blood. Am I supposed to stay here till
Irmgard returns? Mysterious Irmgard, where does she go
in to in that purple BMW of hers? A glimpse of her
underwear used to excite me; not anymore. One of her
friends told her I was sexless ("You should read his
stories," she said). I didn't deny it. I'm past trying to prove
something.

I came here for love. For some years I'd had fantasies
about holding a strong Bavarian woman to my chest under
the shade of a large tree in the English Garden in  Munich.
I was astonished when it all came true. It was exotic, my
blubbery grey Englishness was bathed in a new found
earthy perfume. No one in Stoke-on Trent or Hastings (or
anywhere in England) smelt like this!
I loved her fingers; long and extremely bony, they excited
me when she pressed them into my oversized gut. Were
English fingers ever like this? We were a  contrast. She
was brown with a faint tinge of purple. I was perfectly white.
She was tall. We caused quite a stir on Leopoldstrasse.
We set up home together, shared the household chores,
talked of forming a rock 'n roll combo. I decided that I was
too old for excess. "You're so so bloody English," she
would say, poking fun at me with a sharp naked foot. I had
to own up; her insistence on walking around naked
embarrassed me! Did that make me typical? I immediately
thought of my father, how he always bathed behind firmly
locked doors. I thought of the little brown kitchen in
Stoke-on -Trent, pink corsets draped across the rickety
wooden clothes dryer.
"You're amazingly beautiful," I used to tell her. "But you
won't let me do what I like," she always replied. England,
the fifties, the war, the deprivations of a working-class
childhood were all against me. I couldn't relax.

It's good to tell you about her. Is it all in the past? I should
draw the curtains but the sky continues to interest me. It's
yellow now, totally yellow. Something that looks like an
eagle appears to be perched on the garden fence. It's very
German, alarmingly symbolic. Is my insecurity subjecting
me to delusions again? Am I becoming a victim of my
darkest fears? I can hear gunfire in the forest. The petals
of the solitary rose (placed so lovingly in a blue and white
china vase just before she left) are opening slowly,
painfully. A sudden thought passes predictably through my
head. Did we really win the war? A failed love affair can
draw out the most base and trite observations. I'm
embittered, bitchy. "You're always talking about Hitler!" she
snarled before she left ( a habit of mine when losing an
argument, the proverbial "low blow"). I know how to draw
blood.
Has she gone forever?
She's a mystery.
Could it to be her limited (but amusing) knowledge of
English? Still, I wish I could hear the purr of her luxurious
purple motor. I miss her. I need her. Who's going to talk to
the plumber tomorrow when he comes to mend the faulty
boiler? My German is terrible