Author Archives: olivialeonard

To Brighton with love (part II)

The high heels that had previously made her a ‘lady’ were now facing multiple scrutinises from prying eyes. Firstly, they were patent black leather, which led me to formulate some unattractive assumptions about her income. The plastic heel tip had been worn down revealing the bottom of the heels’ metal framework. The height wasn’t particularly death defying, suggesting a need for comfort, due to the frequency of their wear.

She had removed the camel knee length coat, to expose a skimpy fuchsia dress. Sitting cross legged to bare the perfect amount of flesh and thigh, she continued her lies. Although her ‘friend’ lived in Brighton, he had intended to stay in her hotel room. He was not her boyfriend.

I was now incredibly sceptical of her honesty. Why had she not chosen to stay at his? Why had she chosen to bunk up with a total stranger? Entering into Woody Allen mode I began neurotically breaking her physical components down, one trait at a time.

Her legs, were far too athletic, they possessed more male than female qualities. Hers hands were above average in size. And her strong bone structure left her looking chizzled. My drunken, pea-sized intellect led to make only one conclusion. She was a lady boy. She was a lady boy and she was going to rob me.

By this point the stooges were quite literally knelt at her feet, as she produced a small bag of cocaine from her bra. Assisting each stooge, she held a credit card under their nose and craned their necks back when it was time for them to inhale. She was their drug mother. As unconventional as the process was, she demonstrated a certain sense of maternal care. “Babe where did you say your room was?” she turned and asked as the last stooge had finished his dosage.

I wouldn’t tell her the room number. I would pretend I had forgotten the number but remembered the location. I would let her stay. It was too late to change my mind. I would stay awake all night and put my valuables under my pillow. The stooges didn’t accompany us or see us out; they were too busy pretending to be effected by unsubstantial amount of drugs they had consumed. “Facking good shit. Thanks,” they squawked as we exited.

In the corridor her cool exterior faded, she became human. Continuing to ask what the room number was, she became flustered every time she didn’t get a response. Each time she asked her voice grew more vulnerable. She did not trust me. Her fleeting trust made it apparent that she had no intention of pulling any shit during her stay. “Don’t worry man, it’s down here. I just didn’t want to say the number around those clowns in case they came to our door later on.”

Her shoulders dropped, she was relaxed again. I felt guilty for my assumptions and for making her panic. I apologetically I offered to carry her suitcase to the room and reassured her how happy I was to have company that evening. I opened the door, made a joke about how the room resembled a creepy dungeon, then got under the covers. She stepped out of her heels then perched on the end of the bed.

“Lets just watched a shit Saturday night film and have a natter,” I suggested. There were no films scheduled, so we settled for the Simon Cowell excretion, that is the Factor. We bonded once more over our hatred of the cardboard box boy bands and sexualised 16 year old girls. Then her phone rang. She leaped out of bed and answered, pacing back and fourth frantically.

“Yes, so you know the hotel. The Royal Albion. Yep. Obviously you’ve seen my website and know what I can do…”she assured. I knew it. I pointed at her and exclaimed, “AH HA! I knew it!”

She got off the phone and made her business proposition. If I made myself scarce for an hour, she would give me half of her earnings. £120. It would be immoral agreeing to take the money, but I felt guilty depriving her of her daily earnings. A rock and a hard place sprang to mind. At this point I didn’t really consider the arrival of my friend to our room, so I agreed to make myself scarce when the ‘client’ arrived.

Her nerves were steady. This was probably down to the cocaine. Perhaps this was a mandatory procedure, consume a substance and then shag a scumbag. In the twenty minutes following it became clear that the ‘client’ was growing hesitant. He was making excuses. She was inpatient. In between her calls to the client, she was inundated with texts from a third party.

The third player in the triangular cluster f*** was a man named Billy, a father figure as she described. “He’s protective over me, he knows what I do. He worries for my safety,” she defended when I questioned his smothering methods in which he expressed his ‘concern.’ The obvious assumption could be made. He was not a father figure, he was her pimp. Was Billy the ‘friend’ that would be staying in her hotel room with her? Would he be keeping watch over the proceedings?

Following another call from Billy, the ‘client’ rang for a final time. This time it was to cancel. Obviously I was relieved, but clearly she was not. “I could tell he was going to cancel, they chicken out when they’re with their mates. I could tell he was nervous.” she stuttered.

I guess for her it was a lose-lose situation. Shag a scumbag or miss out on two hundred and fifty quid. An interesting paradox I hope to never experience. “F*** him man. Let’s get pissed!” I ran upstairs to buy a couple of those tiny booze, that make you feel like a giant when you drink them and rarely cut the mustard, as far as getting merry is concerned. Not that we needed an extra nudge, she was coked up and I was rather bladdered, asking myself that age old question…how the hell have you got yourself into this mess again?

There were so many questions I was gagging to ask. Unfortunately for me the only career confirmation I tend to get – journalism wise – is when I’m ‘a few chapters into the novel’ talking to a potential nutter, about something obscure. The previous weeks had been slow and bleak as far as nutters and stories went. I hadn’t written a single bloody word. Now it was different, I was Alan Partridge…bouncing back, with a potentially corny book cover to boot. Accept in this instance the tennis ball, would probably be replaced by an offensively large ‘anatomical replica.’


“Dude, I’ve got to ask…what the hell is in the suitcase?” She smiled in appreciation at how long I had managed prolong the inevitable. “Come on then, come have a look.” She chuckled. The million-dollar question was about to be answered with unveiling of a treasure trove of sex toys. Like Daniel Craig in Layer Cake she unclipped the suitcase as if revealing a large sum of drug money. I was intrigued.

It didn’t disappoint. XXX marked the spot! She talked me through each item of sexual confectionary and I was certainly all ears. Before meeting her, I never really had an idea of the cliental a prostitute might receive. Pubescent Chavs or chubby cab drivers were the stereotypical go-to. I was wrong. The business was lonely and so were the clients. They were often confused and undecided on a lot of things, sexuality, gender and life.

Although working girls are indeed placed in a vulnerable position whilst engaging in a regular gamble of trust, she informed me that the clients were just as exposed. Scared even. With her they were sexually conducting themselves in ways that their everyday lives, had deemed as taboos. She was happy to listen to them. She understood. She sympathised. Although her profession left her with very little in way societal ‘credibility’, it was becoming clear that she understood a hell of a lot more than most people.

I lightened the mood and grabbed a curly, blonde Dolly Parton wig and began parading around the room. “Erm funny story about that wig, I’ve never worn it. The clients normally wear that one,” she giggly informed me. We both laughed. We were bonding. I flung the wig across the room like a dead albatross. “You are funny,” she said whilst looking up me. It was then I realised that this was probably a rare occurrence for her. Was I her first female friend?

She had studied Molecular Biology at University but had somehow found herself in Brighton. She didn’t have a flat or a place to call home which meant half her daily wage was spent on another night in a hotel room with another client. It was vicious circle but she didn’t see it that way, she enjoyed what she did. It empowered her.

After having a good chuckle at the vast array rubber cocks, spanking paddles and indeed strap-ons, we called it a night and got into bed. “I’m really glad I met you, I needed something like this, things had become far too boring for my liking,” I told her whilst turning over. “I’m glad I met you too. You helped me out. It’s rare strangers do that,” she replied.

As my eyes shut it was time for the vomit inducing inner monologue to kick in. This kind of inner monologue is indeed incredibly fantastical, sort of resembling that scene The Lion King, when Simba speaks to Mufasa’s ghost in the sky or when Lisa plays the saxophone with Bleeding Gums Murphy’s ghost…in the sky. Tonight I was staring at the dampened ceiling of the Royal Albion’s basement sex dungeon, thinking of Tennessee William’s…in the sky. I imagined he’d be saying something along the lines of,

“Hey kid, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels.”

The next day, she brought me breakfast. We exchanged numbers and had an emotional goodbye. Whilst getting cash from a hole in the wall, I caught a glimpse of her transfixed on a yellow tile that was attached onto an old church wall. I walked over to her to see what it was she so fascinated by. She had tears in her eyes. I looked at the tile, it read, ‘The essence of your life is only measured in the way you can help others.’

yellow tileThere we stood, two 21st century women, a sex worker and a ‘un decided’ being moved by the very building that would seek to smite us for our sins. Eating chips alone on the beach before catching my train, I stared out to sea as I had planned, ironically joined by the sound of ‘Girls Just Wanna Have fun,’ blasting across from Brighton Pier. I didn’t need a boyfriend or a shag I just needed myself. YUK!



To Brighton with love (Part I)

Weeks in London, with sound of the sirens and drug dealers asking me to buy weed every hundred metres led me to seek retreat. For a neat tenner you can get a train from London Victoria to the seaside. I didn’t fancy Southend on sea so I opted for Brighton. All you need is an extra forty quid, for a cheap Fawlty Towers-esque hotel room and then you too can sod off away from the smog.

Brighton was a ‘trendy’ place I suppose. Wandering through The Lanes and passing by The Royal Pavilion, I felt cool by default. On Monday when our gang of future hacks would sit listing off all the amazing career opportunities they had received over night, at least I could say I’d been to Brighton.

The shops were unique, special but of course filled with products tailored for the middleclasses.

Selling ethnic wood (nope, not a porno), fossils, ceramic horses and other purposeless goods, the shops proved too tempting for me, as I wracked up a further forty quid’s worth of expenses.

I ventured to the seafront. When you’re single I think it’s important to set yourself mundane challenges, in order to prove you’re embracing ‘independence.’ My challenge came in the form of finding some legit seafood, that wouldn’t muck about with my bowels, to enjoy alone, staring out to sea.


The exercise would be pretentious but apt. In a sexless existence, other sensory experiences become of equal value. So there it was, my confirmation of a satisfactory singular life. With every bite of each chilli prawn, came the sublime taste of freedom. Yeah right, but the prawns were good and cheap. Happy days. Seafood holds less complications than sex anyway. You know who you are.

Brighton is a workable city, with the seafront beckoning the placement of each ‘tourist attraction.’ This makes it easy for newcomers to form an internal map of the city, avoiding the shame of standing disorientated on a street corner. I knew where the taxi rank was so I abandoned my bachelorette dinner and headed for Breakout festival at Brighton racecourse.

After a failed attempt at locating a chippy on the way home from the festival, I went back to the hotel-The Royal Albion. It appeared to be the perfect combination of a run-down dignity and grand Regency architecture. It had exchanged any former decadence for endearing charm.

The concierge was affable, but stressed, flapping his arms around like Basil Fawlty. I wanted to help. Am I alone in this notion or does anyone else develop a certain complex, when highly inebriated in which they believe they can change the world? Only small deeds mind, like that Kelvin Spacey movie, ‘Pay it Forward.’ So I stepped forward, pledging my allegiance and services to the hotel.

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I was at the helm of the Albion. Room service, complaints and breakfast enquiries, were the usual topics of conversation. I was getting bored and ‘Basil’ wasn’t breaking for a cigarette anytime soon. Just as I thought I would retire to my basement floor windowless room, in she walked.

A lady approached the counter, dressed in a long camel coat and small, black, kitten heels. In one sophisticated swoop, she removed her un-kept blonde hair from her face. She was well spoken with a hint of cockney. She was, at first glance…ordinary.

As per, The Royal Albion, their bookings with Expedia had malfunctioned that day, leaving her without a bed for the night. There was no sign of my friend removing his tongue from the events manager’s arseholes and returning to our room, so what was the harm inviting her to stay in our hotel room? None.

“Stay with me, I’ve got a room and I’m bored and lonely,” I shouted across the counter.

It was agreed she would stay with me, in exchange for all the drink I wanted from the bar. Sipping whiskey together, I began divulging any penile activity I had received over the last four months. This is a common topic between women when they meet for the first time. It’s either that or what contraception they’re on, but we won’t go there.

Flicking and kicking her limbs around like a chorus girl in a musical, she crossed her legs. The men at the bar soon became intrigued by her presence. She wasn’t flirting obviously; it was somewhat magnetic and natural. This annoyed me. She had at least ten years on me but had far more promise of attention. However her admirers were fat cockneys, which made it less of a devastating blow.

The men were predictable in their advances. They pulled the old, “OH NO! The bars closing soon girls, we’ve got plenty more booze down in our room.” Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Tossers! Of course they thought we were naïve to their advances, but we were five steps ahead. In a brief exchange we confirmed this and clarified our dual intentions to drink their room dry and then make a swift exit.

We accompanied the three stooges down the stairs. All three men had a hint of tinted tangerine about them, dressed typically in chinos, squeaky-clean plimsolls and wrapped in gold chains. Coincidently the stooges also had a “bachelor” room on the basement floor. ‘Come on in girls,’ the alpha stooge gestured as he opened the door.

One of stooges took the initiative to plonk on some unrecognisable, mainstream trash on his ipod. Perhaps he thought the sound of klaxons, heavy bass lines and crap lyrics, would to whip us into a frenzy. She pretended be interested as she listened to their tangent of nonsense. I assumed the rogue roll, of sipping my drink and observing the view of the outside world.

Whilst standing alone, I was ease dropping on her conversation with the stooges. “I lived in Brighton but I came from London today to visit a friend.” This is where the loop-holes began. She had earlier informed me that this was in fact her first visit to Brighton. Clearly, this was not the case. I began to size her up. Previously she had an air of sophistication about her, but now I was drawing over analytical conclusions about her character…

Picture credits: Adam Kola photography and

Third year fine art show


Last night saw third year fine art students display their work in a completely unique venue, out of the usual realms of suburbia. Down a dodgy side street, just a hop, skip and jump away from Peckham Rye tube station, stood the withered remains of 139 Copeland Road.

A perfect venue to display artistic works, the house em-compassed the oh so sought after element of ‘shabby chic,’ that appears to be continually transforming London’s shit-holes into hot spots. Maybe there’s hope for Kenton after all?

Viewers could explore the crumbling remains of this charm-filled dump, which closely resembled that of number 12 Grimmauld Place, whilst observing some Westminster’s fine art pieces.

Whether or not viewers deem such works as art, is of course a personal preference for whom ever is examining the piece. However, amidst the misconceptions of students conjuring art out of thin air and simply ‘winging it’, there is great deal of intellectual thought carried during the creative process and indeed hardwork.

Agony and ecstasy has only previously been reserved for that of Michelangelo’s painting of the sistine chapel, but amongst this endearing bunch there are many examples of suffering for art’s sake. Natalie, 21, explained her trials and tribulations of producing a 3D cast of her own head, “I went there, sat there while she slowly covered my whole head in mod rock. I was trapped inside it. I thought I was pharaoh being made into a mummy.” Others went on a journey. Laura, 22, quite literally followed in the footsteps of German writer Sebald, as she carried out 27 mile walk, taken as inspiration from his book, ‘The Rings of Saturn.

So it’s safe the fine art lot don’t f*** about, they also know how to party hard in the trendy realms of SE London. Check out the video above of the nights events!

The Gaslight Anthem headline Alexandra Palace for the largest venue of their tour


Headlining the people’s palace New Jersey boys, The Gaslight Anthem, blasted a twenty six song set to a respectful and awestricken crowd. Taking the stage at Alexandra Palace this Wednesday for what was to be the biggest crowd of their UK tour, Gaslight did not disappoint.

Front man Brian Fallon delivered a particularly on point vocal performance, despite his day of coffee and cigarettes, as he revealed to the crowd before announcing there would be no encore.

The lead up to their performance was nicely facilitated by alt-country band, Deer Tick. Combining soft harmonies with a sonic wave of screaming, they reminded the crowd what was like to be at a rock show. Their live performance most certainly exceeded the listening experience provided on their albums. In order to gain a true feel of what they’re trying to achieve with each song, attending a live performance is highly recommended.

Intertwined with humour as they dawned psychedelic, couch pattern resembling suits, came an overwhelming sense of passionate, hard work. Unfortunately for them, their precise paradiddles, full throttle vocals and consuming guitar solos, were wasted on the crowd of hard-core Gaslight fans, who rarely gave an appreciative amount of applause.

Shortly after Deer Tick’s awkward exit from the stage, came fourth the main man, Mr Brian Fallon. By this point the venue had began to fill to its 7000 people capacity, adding an intimacy that Deer Tick had previously lacked. All that was left to was drink lots and prepare to sing constantly for the next two hours.

The band motored through the first few songs, promptly getting their hit song ‘The ’59 Sound’ out of the way and followed it up with their favoured anthem, ‘Handwritten.’

Due to the venues curfew, Fallon announced there wouldn’t be much in the way of chatter in between songs or indeed an encore. However this was not a problem, the crowd were considerate which the was clearly appreciated by the band, made apparent by their grateful expressions . Fallon appeared humbled, as audience and singer were often singing in perfect unison. This was particularly special during ‘Here Comes My Man,’ ‘Biloxi Parish,’ and ‘Great Expectations.’ Other highlights included a spontaneous cover of, ‘In Room Where You Sleep,’ written by Ryan Gosling’s band Dead Man’s Bones.

True to the nature of the band, the stage was simplistic with only the red heart from the Get Hurt cover decorating the space.  Ambient, flowing lights accompanied the New Jersey boys throughout the set, conjuring an aesthetically pleasing, blue-lit Brian.

Littered with memory making moments, the gig was a true display of what TGA, are capable of. After seven years and five albums, it seems there are still more tales of heartbreak, taverns and the ever haunting sound of the jukebox, in store for the future. Although Get Hurt has been criticised for its possible loss in TGA’s Americana identity, their performance was defiant evidence that in each song, lyrical integrity and faultless production still lives on. Stay Vicious!

Pictures: courtesy of Music Unmasked