I'm not even sure this constitutes as a story. I just needed to write something that wasn't angst. 'Edge of a Broken Heart' is draining the angst out of me. So this is kinda fun and a bit light hearted - or at least it's supposed to be. There is some truth in it, sort of. Think of it as a Van Gogh version of the truth (it's in there you just gotta work pretty hard to see it)!
Disclaimer: I own nothing! (Not strictly accurate, I own some things, just nothing of any real significance.)
Also, I'm going to dedicate this to anyone who bothers to read it and/or review it.
Noel made another joke and everyone in the audience laughed. Julian, who was sat in the comfort of his own living room watching Noel on yet another comedy quiz show, smiled to himself. Noel was so popular now and Julian knew exactly what everyone saw Noel. He'd seen it himself the first time they met. Ten years ago. All that time that had passed but he still remembered clearly the first time he saw the cockney lad.
He'd just finished a gig to a fairly receptive crowd. There had been one table consisting of men in suits who hadn't even managed to raise a smile but, on the whole, it had been a successful gig. Julian was feeling pretty proud of himself when a young man with short mousey hair, who'd been sat on the front table with a load of girls came bounding over to him. He was grinning widely, showing two rows of slightly crooked teeth.
Now that Julian thought about it, everything about Noel had always been a little crooked. Crooked nose, crooked teeth and then there was his cheekbones and eyes that were just too big. Every one of his features fought for dominance of his thin face and even back then, without his long hair and pre-the invention of men's skinny jeans, Noel was very striking.
"Alright?" the little cockney had beamed.
"Hi." Julian had said, a little rudely (he remembered). He eyed the table of only girls Noel had been sat at and wondered if this was going to be his first gay fan.
"That was really good. I'm Noel, by the way."
"Thanks and hi Noel."
"I'm a comedian too, sort of. I ain't done a proper gig yet. I've got my first one tomorrow. I'm a bit nervous actually. You should come. I'm sure you'd like it. I do stuff a bit like you. That bit about the lava lamp was fantastic by the way. Funniest thing I've seen in ages."
"Thanks." said Julian his head was spinning a little from how quickly this young man was talking. "Look," he continued, waving over Noel's shoulder to no one. "There's my friend, I've got to go. See you Noel."
Ju? Julian chuckled to himself about that now. It takes a certain kind of person to call you a shorted version of your name before even saying your full name. But Noel was a certain type of person, though what type, Julian was still unsure.
After that initial meeting, Noel had become his personal comedy stalker and he was unable to get rid of the happy-go-lucky twenty-four year old. (And has never been able to get rid of him since, not that he'd want to. Not anymore.) Noel went to every one of Julian's gigs and always came up to him afterwards.
"I thought was really good." He'd say. Julian would say thank you and leave as quickly as possible, usually with Noel calling after him, "I've got a gig next week. You should come and see me. I'm a bit like you. I'm good you know."
Julian smiled now, looking back on it all, he realised Noel had always had this strange amount of self-confidence. He'd never had any doubt in his own ability, not even when they used to leave gigs together, both thinking it had gone well only to find 'you're shit' scrawled across their posters. He'd just turn to the older man and smile and say,
"I don't think someone liked it much."
The story Noel always liked to tell, was the night they 'wrote their first joke together'. In actual fact, the joke was never written (well, not until years later in the first episode of their Radio series). The joke had been said and the moment had come about in a rather peculiar way. It was the first night Julian ever saw Noel do stand-up and the first night he ever spoke to Noel without trying desperately to think of ways to get out of the conversation.
If Julian was honest with himself, he'd only invited Noel to fill the empty slot because he had wanted to shut him up that and there was no one else. He had had no doubt in his mind that Noel would be awful but that wouldn't matter. He'd watch the kid die a comedic death and then he would've been able to leave the young cockney behind and continue with his career.
"Thanks for this Ju." smiled Noel gratefully as he was about to go onstage. "You're gonna like it, I know you will. I'm a bit like you."
"You've said." sighed Julian.
"D'you recon when I'm your age I'll be headlining to this many people?" Noel asked, peeping out over the crowd of about fifty.
"Maybe." said Julian. 'Probably not' he thought, as Noel disappeared through the curtain.
"Hey." he said to the crowd. "Look at you madam. You've got a face, I've got a face. We're going to be alright."
Despite himself, Julian laughed. Only a little laugh, mind you. Hardly a laugh at all. More of a smile, if anything.
"Look at you sir." Noel said pointing to a particularly masculine looking man in the second row. "Why don't you get on stage? Get naked. I'll get naked too, we'll roll around together." The crowd laughed and the masculine man's mates jeered. "Not in a gay way!" Noel clarified. "More like two soldiers away from home missing their wives." Julian laughed again as did the crowd (except the man Noel was addressing).
By the time Noel came off the stage Julian felt he'd never laughed as much in a long time.
"Your go." beamed the small cockney proudly and Julian felt a sudden wave of nerves wash over him. Noel had done a good gig. Wordy. Long. Imaginative. Just like him. Crap. Just like him. He couldn't go out and do the same, it would get boring. He needed to do something different. So, he did the only thing he could think of. He went out and did some physical comedy, went to speak and stopped himself. He did this over and over and the crowd lapped it up. If Noel had filled the room with words, then he was fishing them down with a butterfly net. Despite the sudden change to his set, the gig went well and Julian had been all too aware of a small cockney sat in the front row laughing harder than anyone else in the room.
When they talked about it now, they described that day as the first time they'd ever done a gig together. "The first double act to on stage at different times." Noel would joke.
After the gig, Julian had found himself suddenly quite fond of the eccentric younger man. After all, he had been very funny. Much funnier that Julian had expected. So, when Noel bounced over and asked boldly for a lift home, Julian didn't have the heart to turn him down. Also, he felt the younger man rather need protecting from the angry masculine man from earlier, who was still glaring murderously at the cockney.
"I'm glad you saw me perform," said Noel, when Julian was driving him home.
"Yeah, I knew you'd like it. We're pretty similar, aren't we?"
"I suppose we're quite similar, if you squint and look at us sideways through frosted glass."
Noel laughed, "So what CD's you got in this car then?" he asked, opening the glove compartment and shuffling through the cases. "I bet you're like… oh dear. Jazz?"
"What's wrong with jazz?"
"What, apart from everything?"
"I like jazz."
"No one likes jazz. Jazz fans are rarer than florescent orange unicorns."
"Really?" smiled Julian fondly. "I'll take your word for that."
"Well, I've seen two florescent orange unicorns and only met one jazz fan, so it must be true. You wanna be careful. You're a rare breed. You'll have hunters after you with their nets. And guns, if I were you, I'd be more concerned about the guns. Aha!" grinned Noel suddenly, fishing out a CD case from the back of the glove compartment "This is more like it."
"What is it?"
"Be patient." grinned Noel, pushing the CD into the player and turning it up far too loud.
Here in my car,
I feel safest of all,
I can lock all my doors,
It's the only way to live in cars.
Howard grinned to himself and looked the other man up and down, "I should have known you'd be into electro."
"Yeah! Gary Numan's excellent. I'm more into rock though to tell you the truth," Noel said, turning his hands into devil horns "You know, Rolling Stones, bit of Aerosmith. Can't beat 'Dude Looks Like A Lady'."
Julian always remembered that sentence particularly fondly, an ironic early clue of how his best friend and comedic soul mate would become a little androgynous.
"Here's fine." Noel had said, when Julian had pulled on to his street.
"Yeah. Thanks for the lift." he grinned getting out of the car. "One day I'll learn to drive, I swear."
Again, the irony of the memory made Julian smile when he thought about it now. He'd heard it so many times over the years and every time, he knew it was a idle promise. Noel had no intention of learning to drive. Some, strange and slightly deluded people viewed the inability to drive much like a severe disability but Noel seemed to view it as an opportunity to get people to run around after him. Not that anyone had ever seemed to mind, least of all Julian. If Noel could do nothing else, he could cheer up a dreary car journey.
Julian smiled as he remembered writing the van scene for 'The Hitcher' and how disturbingly close to real life that had been. It reminded him of when he had used to drive them hours and hours to their various gigs, with Noel munching happily on sweets in the passenger seat. Now and again the younger man would show him 'how cobra's ate' or, 'the best way to eat a cola bottle', or pretend to be an 'aging vampire with sugary false teeth'. And each and every Jelly Baby would have it's own personality and incredibly detailed background. Julian had always found it a bit disturbing that, after telling him all about Mrs Red Jelly Baby with her family of five and her slightly contradicting jobs ("By day, a harmless old librarian; by night a stripper in a lesbian night club with the ability to turn into a hawk") Noel would bite Mrs Red Jelly Baby's head off and munch down her body without a second thought for the family she was leaving behind. This was usually followed by a question something along the lines of:
"Julian, if you had the ability to transform into a hawk, would you?"
He'd asked a similar question to Madonna a few years later, who had nothing short of a panic attack, which had led Noel to the 'only logical conclusion' that he'd 'rumbled her' and she did in fact have the ability to transform into a hawk.
"Mmm, she always looked like a hawk-lady." Julian had agreed.
Noel was just about to shut the door or the car, when he leant down, popped his head into the car and looked thoughtfully at Julian.
"What?" asked the older man.
"You wanna come in for a cup of tea?"
Now, when Julian looked back on this moment he had no idea why he said 'yes'. He thanked his lucky stars almost daily that he had, but he still didn't know why he'd said it. He knew that if he were in a similar situation today, he (with his suspicious man's mind) would definitely say 'no'. But, back then, at the tender age of 29 he'd just grinned and said,
"Yeah go on then."
"I'll just warn you." Noel said with a serious look on his face. "If you come in, you can never leave."
"That's alright." Julian said, equally seriously. "I haven't got much on."
Noel laughed heartily, which made Julian smile warmly back at him.
"Come on." Noel said and Julian pulled on the handbrake and followed the small man up the steps to his flat.
"That's the night we wrote out first joke together." Noel would say.
The stand up is Noel's own stand up and he did ask Madonna the hawk question (apparently).
I did promise myself I wouldn't beg for reviews anymore but, meh… go on drop me a review. Even if it just says 'that's rubbish.' I still wanna hear your opinions. Also, is it okay to follow?? I think it jumps about a bit and I'm not sure how clear it is.
Thanks for reading!!