This article is taken from Stand 240, 21(4) December 2023 - February 2024.

Paul Brownsey Talks Anent a Union
They speak first on the bench in front of The Hay Wain, after eye-contact in other rooms of the National Gallery in London. ‘So absolutely stereotypically iconically fucking English,’ Ronnie says, nodding towards the painting. He grins.  

Having sat on the bench at opposite ends, other people separating them, they’ve moved progressively closer as the others have got up and left, and now, but it’s as if they don’t notice this, their neighbouring thighs are touching.

Their attraction is ‘purely physical’? But physical appearance tells you things beyond the physical. Roy’s austere face, with its rimless glasses, is now released from The Hay Wain to direct at Ronnie the creased-brow look he’s been directing towards the paintings, a look that probes beneath appearances for the nub of what it sees. And Ronnie’s face, rather surly-looking as he stalked about the gallery with the audio guide on his ears, has now opened in a smile as guileless as though his soul has seen a rainbow. Roy’s rumpled khaki-coloured chinos and shabby raincoat are not the sort of clothes someone would wear to present their body to attract others, and though Ronnie’s tight blue denims do in fact present his body to others, something tells you he wears them as standard clothing, with no such ulterior intention.

‘I’m Scottish.’ Ronnie makes an announcement of it. ‘Down from Glasgow to see the sights in the imperial capital before Scotland goes independent.’ He raises a clenched fist. He grins.

Roy’s thin ...
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