Sunday, October 31, 2004

I must be a nice person, because...

When I was younger my parents really disapproved of kids coming to the door on Halloween, trick or treating. Halloween in England isn't quite the same institution that it is in the US. I remember a few years ago there was this scare about people giving kids apples laced with razor blades. Only in England. People can be so bloody miserable in this country, that they feel nothing about maiming little kiddies. Infact, maybe I'm wrong, but it's probably written into the British constitution that maiming kids on Halloween is actively encouraged.

I am one of these people that gets a real kick from publicly displaying that I am for the most part a happy person. This probably sounds really odd - I love it when I'm on the tube in the morning on my way to work, surrounded by a bunch of people who have yet to kickstart themselves with an IV of v.strong coffee, and something comes to mind that is so funny (Joe dancing to Thriller last night) that I actually laugh out loud and grin uncontrollably. I'm not being immodest (well yeah I am), but I know (from being told) that I have a really good smile. And occasionally, when I have that kind of outburst I catch other people in the carriage smiling back at me. Yeah - they're probably thinking that I'm a bit retarded (because they are British and cynical) but it can't be a bad thing that I made anyone smile, for whatever reason! I guess that's why I'm not a typical Englishman.

Earlier I went to the off license to buy a bottle of wine for an evening spent infront of the TV watching The X Factor (LOVE LOVE LOVE Sharon Osborne!) and on the way back I was suddenly surrounded by about twelve six or seven year old boys and girls wearing witches and wizards outfits. And maybe it's just cause I'm a big old softie, but I was just overcome by the cuteness! They were so LITTLE!!! And sweet! And the way that they went "Trick or treat!?" and the fact that I didn't have anything to give them except for wine - well, it just broke ma' heart!

So despite the fact that I had been trained as a youngster to shun kids asking for candy ("It's a form of begging!" my Father informed me) I turned around, walked back to the store and bought a whole bunch of Haribo's and other candy, should any other little witches and wizards turn up at my door tonight. The chances of this happening are actually quite slim, cause we're on the second floor. But you never know!

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Bruiser!

Last night my friend Tyler and I went to Kazbar in Clapham. Got quite drunk (obviously).

Before we retire for the evening we decide to have one more for the road and mooch up to The Two Brewers. So we're just walking along the street and Tyler puts his hand in my back pocket. No hidden meaning there...he's just being friendly.

Then behind us these three guys start yelling "Oi! You fucking poofs!"

With my time in NYC aside, I have lived in London for over eight years now and I have never been accosted on the street which is quite incredible really because I've made out pretty intensely with guys in doorways and the like all OVER town. So the fact that we are getting hassled simply because Tyler has is hand in my back pocket is really something.

Now I am a lover not a fighter, but Tyler is a different matter. He's an East End boy, not at all gay looking (he's a bit of a rough diamond) and hard as fuck. So I instantly know we're in for trouble. Tyler turns around and goes right up to the guys, like right up in their faces and starts yelling "What's your fucking problem?" A big exchange of words follows and things start to get a bit heated. People walking by are speding up and then looking back over their shoulders. So I decide to step in and grab Tyler's arm to lead him away. "C'mon Tyler. It's not worth it"

And then one of the other guys just lunges at me so hard that I am knocked to the floor. Tyler then launches himself at the guy who pushed me and gets him in a head lock. Then the other two guys are on Tyler and it's a MESS.

Fortunately these other two guys who are walking past pull the two guys away and I grab Tyler. It all happens so fast. And there's some more shouting and stuff. And then Tyler and I just LEG IT!!! I don't think I have ever run so fast! We run down this side road off the high street and into a garage area to catch our breath. And then it must be the adrenaline and stuff, because we both start laughing - so hard that we can barely talk and tears are literally running down our faces!

So I was in a fight! Go me! I do have a rather nice bruise forming on my ass! I think I might start a Clapham South Fight Club.

Got home and drunk dialed practically all my friends to tell them about my right of passage! And almost no one was in!

Friday, October 29, 2004

Suits, Grown Men Crying and Drunken Kleptomania

Last night new boy took me to an exhibition opening called "Crying Men" at Jay Jopling's White Cube in Hoxton Square. White Cube has, for four years, been THE uber-cool place for young trendy-somethings (like me!) to see and be seen. Yet sadly, until last night, I had never darkened it's doors.

Before we get onto the "art" can I first pay homage to "the suit"? To date I have only seen Jakester in T-shirts and jeans (and, granted, a bit less than that! Ha!) He's a bit of a Gap / Banana Republic boy. But last night he had come straight from work and well, it was a whole different story. Let me tell you - the suit definitely maketh the man! "Look at you! You look like a GQ model!" I exclaimed rather uncooly as we met at Old Street tube. Most of the male guests, like me, had opted for the Urban-Hoxton look (unwashed, unshaved, messy hair). But, apart from the fact that he's quite tall, Jake really stood out for all the right reasons. It amused me that the girls really trip over themselves for him - although I'm sure he is completely oblivious.

Ok...enough about my suit and Jake fetish. The art:

The opening was to showcase a new collection of celebrity portraits taken by Sam Taylor-Wood - celebrities like Robert Downey Jr, Paul Newman, Michael Madsen, Jude Law and Laurence Fishburn. The theme was related to the concept of "inverting masculine stereotypes" - all the portraits featured each of the actors crying. When Taylor-Wood wrote to the male celebs she omitted to mention that she intended to make them cry. It was only when she got them on the shoot that she told them of her plan. Apparently each of the actors was able to blub on command, with the exception of Clint Eastwood.

Jake and I work the room. Neither of us really know anyone there. Now I don't know if you have ever been to an exhibit opening before but there is this real pressure to be "arty" (more so when you're dating someone new.) By this I mean adopting a critical pose infront of art(doesn't hurt to wear a pair of black horn rimmed Alain Mikli's), spouting meaningless crap about technical composition and aesthetics. Think Camille Paglia ("I am now devoid of adjectives"). So for a while Jake and I dance around each other, offering up meaningless comments on each of the portraits, each trying to appear to the other "artistically enlightened".

After a couple of minutes it becomes apparent that neither of us really knows what we're talking about. Jake cuts straight through the bullshit by leaning in and whispering to me, "So shall I buy something? Shall I ask what the prices are?"

I fold my arms and give him a mock-disapproving stare (inside I'm deeply impressed - any kind of wealth does that to me. I was definitely a gold-digger in a former life). "You're just showing off now."

"No!" he replies wide-eyed, "I'm serious! They must be for sale."

I think "fuck it" and I ask him the really inappropriate question. "Exactly how much DO you earn?"

No, I'm not going to tell you what the answer was, but I will tell you this - I'm wondering what the hell I'm doing in PR when I could be working in financial law! And you know what pisses me off? He's only a few months older than me!!! How does that happen?? Apart from being, er, born a few months before me.

Anyway - he didn't have to buy anything because, like naughty girls on a school trip, we each stole an exhibition poster from the shop! Isn't it amazing how a few glasses of champagne can bring out the kleptomaniac in you?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I Feel All...Loved!!!

I just looked at the bottom of that last blog entry and there are no less than FIVE comments! Can I just say how much I appreciate your kind words? I really didn't know how I felt about being so candid, but I'm glad that it struck such a positive chord.

So now I feel very loved. I walked to work today and felt really, really sorted - there was a definite spring in my step! And then when I got to the top of the stairs at work I saw my reflection in the arty mirror thing. I am wearing my pink ripped T-shirt that shows my chest off to full advantage, ripped jeans, and my hair (the longest I've had it in about eight years!) was falling sexily infront of my eyes. And I thought "Wow Kinsey! You're a bit sexy, aren't you!?"

OH COME ON! I'm allowed to indulge myself once in a while!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Milking

I have a blocked saliva gland. When I eat anything substantial it swells up to the size of a golfball and sticks out of my neck. Fortunately after about ten minutes it goes down again but while it's enlarged it's not an attractive sight. However I am informed that it is not a big problem. The doctor said yesterday that all I have to do, and these are his words, is to "milk it."

Last night Jake rubbed it for me. Yes - I know what this means.

Jake "milked" me.

The latent humiliation I am experiencing is quite profound.

Monday, October 25, 2004

What's It All About, Chrissy?

Have you ever been somewhere, like a doctors waiting room for example, and said something really funny to the receptionist? She laughs and you laugh, yet the joke seems kind of hollow. And you think to yourself “I wish that there was someone I know here, so that they could see how funny I am.”

After I started my first blog, when I was in New York, I remember my friend Matt emailing me. He told me that it seemed obscene to him that I would write down so many personal things about myself and others for all the world to read. What exactly was it that I thought I was doing? And why did I think that anyone was remotely interested in what I had to say? He bought it up again when we were having dinner the other night. I think he even said something really melodramatic about it being “betrayal on a grand scale.” Hmmm. I guess we’re all entitled to our opinions.

I was having drinks the other night with my friend Rachel and she said that she really enjoyed reading my blog and I was glad. Because you see the thing is, obviously I don’t just write this for myself. If I wanted to do that I would keep a diary and hide it under my mattress. I used to do that actually. I found that diary recently and, to not put too fine a point on it, it made really depressing reading. I would only ever write entries when I felt depressed which actually was not that often. The diary is actually quite a thin notebook and yet contains over five years worth of sorrows. So for the most part I guess I was quite happy, because I never wrote about it!

So lately I’ve been thinking to myself “why do I write my blog?” Well, I guess there are a number of reasons. But before I explain why I just want to say that I think most of us at some point in our lives have kept some kind of journal or diary. And I believe that deep inside we were, or are, hoping that someone might find it. Why else did we store it under the mattress, when that was the most likely place that it would be found? I don’t know if anyone ever found my diary but I’m pretty sure I must have entertained the idea that someone would do, one day. And because it makes such depressing reading I now hope to god they didn’t. I know I can get the odd bout of melancholy, but on the whole I think I am a pretty happy, well adjusted person (in my own special way!)

The first reason I have a blog is because of Drew. He started his blog in September of 2003, just after he came back from his summer working in Ibiza. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I am sure that he is flattered that I started my first blog soon after reading his. Of course now I am well on to my second blog. I like to think of the first one as a kind of chalk pad for the second act. Most of you won’t have read it, which is kind of good, because it was really wasn’t me at my best. I was warming up!

The second reason that I write this is because it encourages me to think about things that I wouldn’t normally pay attention to. Sometimes it might be a funny joke and I want to record it here for the record (I, like so many of us, can never remember a joke.) Quite often it is because I want to share a personal, touching moment with you all. When you know that every day a whole bunch of the people you care most about in the world, not to mention the readers you’ve never even met before, are waiting anxiously for the next installment of your little view of life, as you see it (and I am touched that for some of you I am the first thing you ‘do’ when you log on at work in the morning) it makes you look around and focus on the smaller moments in life. It makes you ask questions. It makes you think things like “What if they discovered a new colour? Would we be able to see it?” And it sounds way pretentious, but you start to see the bigger picture. I have always maintained that the big moments in life are masquerading as the inconsequential, smaller moments. In the last few days, for me, it was a trip to the gym.

The third reason is that I guess I want to create something that is about me, but that is also bigger than me. Raise your hand if you have ever wanted to be famous. If your hand isn’t up right now (do it mentally if you are at work) then you’re a liar. We’ve all considered it. Rock star, actor, presenter, author. Why is Drew in New Zealand writing a book? Why did Will go on Big Brother? Why did Helen do Changing Rooms? Well I guess to answer those questions properly you’ll have to ask those people yourselves - but let me hazard a guess, at least for part of the reason. Most of us don’t crave fame for fames sake. We seek it because we want to make a profound, indelible and unique stamp on the world. It’s about documenting that there is more to us than meets the eye. That we can write really well, or that we have a caustic and clever wit, or that we have excellent taste in interior design, or even that we can be, unprompted, really funny in the doctors waiting room. I’m not kidding myself that I am anywhere near famous for writing this blog, but the other day I got an email from an American girl living in France who said that she thought I was really “insightful”. Do you know how much it means to hear that from someone you have never met before?

I’ll admit that there is an element of exhibitionism in this thing – I’m putting myself on a stage for the time that you read this. I’m making a big assumption that you are interested in what I have to say. And maybe, Matt has a point. Maybe it is wrong for me to document conversations that I had with Jake. But I’m not that convinced. If you want to be really moral then I could say that you are all voyeurs – I mean, you keep coming back for more, don’t you, you sickos! But we all know that’s not true (*hugs you all*). I think that the best thing about being a human is the ways in which we can express ourselves. And what’s the point of expression if there’s no one around willing to listen?

Ted Hughes wrote and published a book called “The Birthday Letters” which was all about his tempestuous, and for the most part, distressing relationship with Sylvia Plath. I’m sure that there were, and still are, some people who think that it was an inappropriate thing to do. But I’m guessing that there were a lot more people who read his poems and stories and found hope or similitude. I am NOT, for the record, aligning myself with Ted Hughes. But maybe, in a much smaller way, when I tell you all about my meeting a really nice, kind and handsome guy at the gym I can share with you a bit of my warm, fuzzy glow. We all like to hear stories. They can make us happy or sad, but above all they make us feel human and connected. How many times have you heard a truly terrible story about someone else’s suffering only for it to remind you how lucky you really are? Or listened to a story about two old friends falling in love, making you realize that it “can really happen”?

So I’m not going to listen to Matt. I’m going to continue to write this blog and share my little life with you all. And I’ll try to be faithful to the twists and turns.

But seriously…can you imagine how cool it would be if they DID discover a new colour?

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Broken Hearts, Merlot, Komodo Dragons and Bruvvers

Wayne broke up with his boyfriend on Thursday, so decided to come to London to in some way drown his sorrows. He’s doing ok in the unique way that Wayne deals with things – he just gets on with life. I admire him for that. He’s a rock in every sense of the word.

Anyway - it was Ollie’s birthday today so Wayne went with the other Scoobie’s to see The Barber of Seville in the afternoon, followed by dinner. The idea was that I would meet with them all afterwards, mainly so that I could see Wayne. Only Wayne calls me at about 8pm and says that he is feeling “old” (I quickly point out to him that he is in fact the same age as me) and is going home to bed. I think he misses Vince. I know how that feels, so I offer some words of encouragement and then we text each other for a bit afterwards.

So then of course, I was at a bit of a loose end. Earlier Jake had texted me and asked what I was doing. I was quite glad to have already made plans with Wayne, so that I could truly sound like I had a life beyond sitting at home waiting for sexy lawyers to call / text me. Except that now my plans had fallen through I began to devise means with which I could muscle in on what Jake was doing (entertaining friends at home.) So I sent a mournful text, explaining that my heartbroken friend had decided to turn in for the night and that I would now be at home lamenting the demise of a night at TooTooMuch by nursing a cheap bottle of Merlot.

It worked. Within two minutes he called me and ordered me round (like a pizza!) I offered to bring the bottle of Merlot, but he said that it was ok, cause he had loads of other wine. I have a sneaking suspicion that he was being a wine snob.

So within 24 hours of properly meeting Jake, I was now meeting his friends. It hasn’t escaped my attention that the seemingly consequential events in my life seem to have incredible inertia, propelling themselves forward at light speed! Or maybe I just move too fast. If you think about it, it’s kind of true – everything about me is fast…the way I move, speak, eat, drive. I’m kind of, um, “rapid-fire”. It’s an endearing quality, don’t you think?

Jake’s friends were Annie, a very attractive lesbian, and Jason, the guy I forgot I met at the Shadow Lounge. I still didn’t recall him upon re-meeting him, which was quite amusing to the three of them. Apparently it was the night of my birthday and I hadn’t seemed to them to be that drunk (although I know I was!) Anyway - Annie is the manager at Comme des Garcons (I was glad I changed into my Donna Karen shirt – I wanted to rectify the gym-disaster outfit I had been wearing previously) and Jason is a VP at Credit Suisse in Canary Wharf. And they were both super lovely and seemed to be very interested in me – I did seem to get a bit of a grilling when I arrived. Twenty questions. I got the distinct feeling that I had been “discussed” in some detail before I got there.

And so the evening went – the three of us stayed up talking and drinking until about 2ish, at which point Annie and Jason decided to share a cab home together. And after they left Jake and I carried on talking. This led to us going through his books and we discovered that he too is a big fan of Douglas Coupland (my favorite author.) This, in turn, led on to photo albums and I pretended to be really interested as he tried to find pictures he’d taken of Komodo Dragons in Indonesia.

In the morning we got up at a respectable hour and at Jake’s suggestion we went out together to get some breakfast things and some Sunday newspapers. He lives right next to the Millennium Bridge (the one that used to wobble) and I hadn’t walked over it before and was eager to find out if it still shook. So we walked across to the other side, decided that it definitely didn’t wobble, and walked back again. After we walked to the grocery store and got all the bits and pieces we sat down by the Tate garden so that I could have a cigarette (he doesn’t smoke in his apartment.) And we got to talking about our brothers.

I have never had a particularly close relationship with my brother. There was always this fragile age gap between us of two and a half years, where it was just impossible for us to find any middle ground where we be able to get on. There must have been some times when we were really young and we played together, but I can’t remember them. Mum does say that when my brother was born and he was bought home, I would try to hold him and would say that he was “my baby”. That makes me smile.

My brother and I are chalk and cheese. I think with my heart. He thinks with his head. I am good at communicating. He is good with his hands (he is a really skilled carpenter.) We are alike, however, in that we are always being told that we are very good looking boys, albeit in different ways. I’ve always thought that I’m cute in a kind of smiley, “grab his cheeks and squeeze them” kind of way, whereas my brother is just dark, moody and handsome!

The only times I remember between my brother and I are the times that we would fight. And it’s funny, because my brother is much stronger than I am, yet I would always win. This had a lot to do with my fighting dirty. Stephen would always go to punch me in the face. Meanwhile I had picked up the breadboard and was already prepared to bring it down on the top of his head. I don’t know to this day how I didn’t ever end up seriously hurting him. I remember this one time where he was annoying me by changing the TV channels, so I literally frisbeed a plate of food at him, cracking him sharply on the side of the head. And this was the other thing with Stephen. As children he was always the one who cried. I would never, ever cry. My Dad says that when I was really young they could smack me and shout at me but I would remain completely dry - although my bottom lip would sometimes tremble!

So anyway – Jake and I sat and recounted tales of our relationships with our brothers. It’s funny, because not only are we almost the same age (give or take three or four months) but our brothers are equidistant in terms of age to / from us (Jake’s brother is older than him.) And both of us have no functioning relationship with our brothers.

I told Jake something that I have always felt. “People always think that it’s strange that I don’t get on with my brother. I mean our relationship is limited to me asking him to put Mum on the phone - that’s pretty much it. I always get the impression that people think there is something dysfunctional in the way that I, as an adult, don’t communicate with my sibling.”

And Jake said something like, “But the thing is, you and I know that we’re not coldhearted. And those people who judge us didn’t have our relationships with our brothers. So they don’t know, do they? It’s like people don’t know about or 'get' a lot of things.”

And then he turns to me and says with real seriousness, "We kind of get each other, don't we?"

It felt that he had hit on something irreducible here and talking much beyond this point would have betrayed the moment. So I just smiled and nodded. So we got up and walked back to the apartment. We set out the breakfast stuff – muffins and croissants and juice – on the floor in the living area and we sat and read the papers. And for a couple of hours that was all we did. We just read and didn’t talk much.

And it was just two people who have acknowledged some random connection not feeling uncomfortable in the silence.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

About Last Night...

...well this is a weird blog entry. I’m still kinda tripping on this one!

I’m currently sat in the most amazing loft apartment. The view out of the window is the entrance to the Tate Modern - you know, the entrance into the turbine hall? The kitchen where I just made my coffee is like a million miles across the room and the walls are decorated with really cool New York style tag art. And I’m writing on this PC that is like the monolith from 2001. And I have a kind of warm, fuzzy glow…

So how did I get here? Here’s the story…

Last night at about 5pm I decided that I should really go to the gym as I didn’t have any other more superior plans. That would give me enough time to get home to watch French & Saunders at 9pm. So I left the house unshaved, hair all over the place, wearing tracksuit pants, a really old T-shirt, a denim jacket and a scarf.

So I get to the gym in Covent Garden and start my work out by doing the obligatory look around. And there are the usual suspects. There’s Scott, the Select model, who I only know by name because I once called in his Z card for a casting. And Ben, the Models One booker, who has met me about a million times but never remembers who I am. And Alec, the dancer guy, who I once hooked up with at Fiction. We chat for a while until he starts talking about his boyfriend and then I kinda lose interest.

I start working out proper. After about half an hour I notice that there is this guy who seems to be looking from over near the rowing machines. It’s kinda far away and as I’m not wearing my glasses I’m not entirely sure that it’s definitely me he’s looking at. I decide that it’s probably not because this guy is one of those very beautiful, male model, ripped types – the ones who only ever stick to their own gene pool. In other words, out of my league (ok, I know I’m no dog, but you have to be realistic sometimes.)

Then because I can’t see him that well I decide to work out a bit nearer him. Decide to do some shoulder presses (which I HATE doing) just to get a better view. Casual, casual…don’t want to give the game away. I stop between sets and casually look around, stopping on him just long enough to take it all in, without being obvious (this will surprise some of my friends, that I can be discreet from time to time – only when it’s someone I’M interested in, mind you!). Ok…to not put too fine a point on it – this guy is for want of a better word, just amazing looking. Messy brown hair, dark dark brown eyes, a bit of stubble, big lips (not too big) tanned, punctuated with a beautiful tattoo running up his arm and across the top of his chest. Definitely a model I decide.

So I look away and act all cool. But then it’s all too much so I look back. And then I realize that I know him from somewhere. This isn’t that unusual, cause guys like this are pretty easy to spot, and can usually be found on the main floor, shirtless, at DTPM. Me and my friends have lusted after them from afar on many, many occasions.

And then the worst thing in the world happens – he catches me looking at him. Argh! Busted! But then something weird happens. He smiles and mouths “Hey!” So I regain my composure in like a millisecond and smile my best non-broken jaw smile back – “Hey,” I mouth in return.

And that’s it. About a minute later he gets up and I don’t see him again. It occurs to me that maybe he’s working out somewhere else, so I try and find him (casually, casually) but it looks as if he’s definitely gone. Damn. Oh well. Too much to wish for anyway. But I did get a smile. That’s gotta be worth something, right?

So I carry on working out. The place is starting to thin out now, so I can get on the free weights. I stay for probably about another half hour before deciding to call it a day. I run up to the changing rooms, shower, freshen up and get my stuff together. I decide that I am going to see if my jaw (still a little sore) can cope with a honey and sunflower bagel with turkey and cream cheese, so I run into the Bagel Factory before I leave. Yes – Bagel seems to be manageable. So I leave, but as I walk out of the door onto Endell Street the cream cheese gets the better of me and I manage to smooth it all over my cheek. Attractive!

“Hi!” Someone taps me on the back.

I spin around while wiping the remnants of the cream cheese from my mouth. Then I almost choke because the person who has accosted me is none other than the guy from the gym. THE guy from the gym. Again, I miraculously regain my composure in record time, while trying to swallow without choking. “Hi” I say, very, very coolly. “What’s up?”

He smiles. Wow! That smile!!! My knees weaken. “This is going to sound really crap, but I think I know you. Aren’t you Chris?”

“Yeah,” I respond, hoping and praying that I haven’t got any more cream cheese on my face. “We know each other from somewhere don’t we?”

“From the Shadow Lounge a few weeks ago. You were talking to my friend Jason.”

Now I’m really lost. I mean it’s very possible that I have seen him before in Shadow Lounge, but I don’t remember speaking to anyone called Jason. I don’t know anyone called Jason. I grin. “I have a really bad habit of talking to people for ages and then not remembering their name. Sorry! Did I talk to you as well?”

“I think we were kind of introduced, but that was it.”

“You know I thought I recognized you downstairs, but thought that I’d probably just seen you out and about. So we were introduced? Needless to say I’ve forgotten your name!”

“Jake,” he stretches out his hand…

Now anyone who knows me knows that Jake is one of my favorite names ever. Really masculine and simple and unusual. So I can’t believe that I a) met him and didn’t try to keep talking to him and b) forgot his name when it’s, like, one of my fave names!

I accept his handshake. “Christopher. But you already know that!”

So we start chatting and he tells me who Jason is, cause I have no recollection at all. And I explain that I have a memory like a sieve and that very probably I was fucked up anyway. And all the time all I can think is “Why are you talking to me? Why are you talking to me?”

After a couple of minutes the customary pleasantries seem to be winding themselves up and it is probably time for one of us to move on. And because I am nervous as hell it’s me. “Well it was really nice to meet you…again!”

“Um…so do you have any plans for this evening?” Now he’s looking sheepish. Could he be asking me out? No. Definitely not. He’s just being polite.

“A bit sad I’m afraid. No plans so I’m staying in to watch TV!”

“Oh ok. Um…well do you fancy going for a drink. I mean if you don’t have to get home soon?”

Oh…my…god…! Inside I’m dissolving. This can’t be happening. And all the time, regardless of the fact that now it’s very clear that he’s hitting on me, there is still this voice in my head going “he’s just being friendly!”

But outside I’m working. “Sure. That would be nice.”

So we wander off in no particular direction. We chat about the inconsequential – how long we’ve been going to Cannons, how long we usually work out for, etc – the whole way down the street until we get to Opollo’s, some bar I’ve been to only a couple of times before. “Do you want to go here?” I ask, “or somewhere, er, gay?”

“Here is fine.”

So we go in. And for the next two hours or so we literally don’t stop talking. And I don’t get too drunk, considering that I’ve just worked out and am now replacing all my fluids with lager!

So this is Jake in a nutshell. 32, a lawyer in the City, originally from Cheshire and yes he did go to a boys school, hence the posh accent. Graduated in Law from Cardiff University in 1995 and that’s when he moved to London. Been in one long term relationship – four years – but broke up with him last year after he discovered the boyfriend cheating on him. Used to have a dog but the boyfriend got that in the “divorce.” Goes clubbing from time to time, but has grown out of the whole drug scene so tries to limit it to once a month. LOVES the movies and his favorite recent film was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This provides about half an hour of conversation in itself as I too have only just seen it and LOVED it.

And so the evening goes until I look at my phone and notice that it’s about 9.30pm. “Do you have to go?” he asks me?

“No. But was just thinking that I missed French & Saunders!”

“Well that’s ok, cause I taped it,” he says giving my knee a gentle squeeze, smiling cockily. At this point my pulse quickens dramatically.

“Really? Well I guess I’ll have to come round and watch it sometime.”

“You could come round tonight and watch it?”

And then I did something I almost NEVER do…I blew him out.

“Um. The thing is that, if I’m going to be really honest, this is all going quite well and I think that, er, maybe we should leave it for another time. Kind of quit while the going is good?”

“Got it,” he says and doesn’t look crushed, which kind of annoys me. “But you don’t have to go yet, do you? I was thinking we could go somewhere else…maybe get something to eat?”

So we settle up and leave and start walking. Again, we don’t seem to be heading towards anywhere in particular…just walking. And he keeps doing this thing where he kind of playfully bumps into me when I’m talking and then smiles like he’s been naughty.

We end up walking down to Embankment and I ask where he wants to go, cause really there’s only Q-Bar and Heaven and I’m not really in the mood to go clubbing! He says that there is this really nice bar across the Thames on the Festival Hall side so we walk over the bridge. Halfway over he insists that we stop to take in the view. I have to agree – the view from Waterloo bridge is one of my favorites of London. Especially at that time of the night because the water picks up the reflection of all the lights along the bankside. So we stand there side by side and no one is saying anything. So then I can feel him looking at me, so I turn, and then as I do he looks away as if he’s been caught out.

We cross the river and start walking along the South Bank, past the Festival Hall. And I ask where this bar is and then he kind of smirks. “Well there is this bar further along that’s ok I guess, but if we keep walking we’ll come to where I live and I was thinking that maybe we could have a few drinks there.”

I give him my best “I thought we had this discussion” look while at the same time mulling the proposition over. I mean I had been strong enough to say that I wasn’t coming back in the first place. Maybe I could go for a bit and be strong enough later to not stay the night. Yeah, I could do that…no problem.

So I make up my mind, but of course, for effect, I kinda act like I am still thinking about it. I want to look like one of these guys that is NOT easily bowled over by a guy like this one!

After a well chosen delay of about 1.5 seconds I respond, “Ok, but seriously, just one or two drinks. I can’t stay…I have about a million things I need to do tomorrow.”

He nods earnestly, “Definitely. Just one or two.” And then he smiles and I know that things aren’t gonna go my way.

We carry on walking along South Bank, past the OXO tower, past IPC, until eventually we get to Blackfriars, then down this street until we get to this building. We go in and he says “Evening” or something like that to the doorman. It’s a pretty unspectacular lobby. We get into the lift and as soon as the doors close he turns to me and starts to kiss me. Really, really well I might add.

The lift stops at somesuch floor and we stop kissing and emerge into this hall area. His apartment seems to be right at the end, and it’s kind of a long hall and I semi-consciously look around for the fire escape. I always do that. I don’t know why…

Well I’ve already described the apartment. We haven’t discussed how much money he earns but I’m guessing it has to be a lot. And he’s posh obviously, so perhaps he has money from parents. I don’t know. Not that it really matters (dollar signs appearing in my head!)

Anyway - I’ve written too much already. I won’t give you all the other minute details. But I’ll leave you with this: we did have more than two glasses of wine. And I did stay the night (well that’s obvious isn’t it, cause I’m still here!) I am a bit worried about writing this on his computer. He left at about 11am to go to the office but said I could stay as long as I wanted, which is pretty trusting for someone he’s only really properly met once.

But you see the thing is this…when I got up there was this note on the kitchen counter reading:

“I’m hoping you might still be here when I get back. About 4pm. Can you wait? J x”

And you know what? I don’t think I will! I’m a busy boy and have a hundred and one things to do, for real. But not until I have another coffee, and pretend that it’s my apartment and my kitchen!

(Yeah, I’m leaving my number! I’m not a complete fool!)

Friday, October 22, 2004

Modern Technology

So today flat 12 joined the technological revolution! Yes - we now have cable AND ssuper fast speed broadband. Now I can download porn ad infinitum. Yay!

So today I was having lunch with my friend Tyler and he was telling me that he just spontaneously (combusted! Sorry, am being silly) came out with this line to his mum the other day. He said "I may not be god's gift to man, but I think that men are god's gift to me." I quite like that. Although somewhat doubt it's originality.

So I didn't end up going to Kate's birthday last night. I was just too hungover. I don't often get hangovers (being such a lush) but that one was BAD! Anyway - slept until about 7.30pm and then Vix persuaded me to come to Exhibit B to see Rachel. I think she only wanted me to go so that I could drive her, knowing that I wouldn't be drinking.

Anyway. Had a nice evening. Talked a lot about the pros and cons of internet dating. And we ate loads of barsnacks. This wasn't so good because when I got home and got into bed it became rapidly apparent that I was about to vomit. Got to my bedroom door and realised that the kitchen was gonna be a safer bet than the bathroom - nearer. So don't tell Vix but I chundered in the kitchen sink. And the worst thing was that I had to twizzle my finger around in the sinkhole to make, er, everything go away. I know, I know...gross. But I'm not proud. I think the Jorizo Chips were the straw that broke the camel's back.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Yeah, but no, but yeah...

"Cause what happened was right that you know the Redmon sisters? Well they found a verruca sock in the ladies changing rooms and so Rochelle put it in Carrie’s bag and like she completely had an eppy and turned up to Kamal Sharma’s party with a compass that she nicked from school and stabbed Kamal Sharma. But anyway Shelley Bentley gave Craig Sherman a blow job in the shallow end for a bit of his Funny Foot ice cream. Anyway I couldn’t have done nuffin because I was with Michaela the whole time because she was crying because you know Dominic Malone? Well she was supposed to be goin down the swings with him to go to third base. But anyway Ian Papworth, who I once got off with as a joke nicked a whole bottle of Dubonnet off Stacey Malin’s mum and hid it in the woods but then he couldn’t find it but then he did find it but then he didn’t like it so he threw it at a family of gypos."

Yes - I have been vegging for the past two hours in front of the sofa watching Little Britain. I am OBSESSED with Vicky Pollard. For those of you who haven’t watched the show, Vicky is the illiterate, delinquent teenager – we all had one in our class – who talks with a very strong farmer accent, which is particularly hilarious to me as I come from the West Country!

Anyway. I am suffering from a hangover, the likes of which I haven’t known for quite some time. After having a very nice catch up with Will on the phone I went over to Matt’s house last night for dinner. We ended up necking two bottles off wine and half a bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin before going to sleep at like 4am or something. Was rudely awakened at 8am by a load of builders outside. But one of them was really cute so I didn’t mind too much!

So…the old wives tale of “Hair of the Dog” is not to be believed. Thinking that another glass of wine might do the trick in terms of ridding me of said hangover, when I got home I, er well, drank a glass of wine. It didn’t work. It just had the effect of making me feel really, really nauseous. So don’t do it is my advice. In fact my advice is…don’t drink. I know I won’t be again. For next four hours at least. It’s Kate’s birthday and we're celebrating it tonight at Sam’s pad. I am reliably informed that there will be alcohol present. Yay!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Weird Dream No.1456

So I am in this old castle which is kind of like Hogwarts I guess and I am stood at the top of this stepladder trying to get these two old spell books off their hooks. And then I get the rings at the top of these two spell books caught together and I can't seperate them.

Then this scary wizard says "you'd better get those seperated quick sharp!"

So I run into this kitchen-like room and there are these two old witches and I ask them if there is a spell to seperate two things that are caught together. And they say "of course - just point your magic wand at them and say 'Right Said Fred'"

What...the...f!!!???

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Jamiroquai

I have a temporary freelance job with a company called _______. I keep wanting to say Jamiroquai, but that's wrong. It's a ten person agency, so I'm going to be a big fish in a small pond, but that's good. Momma's got bring home the bacon, after all.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Christmas in October

Yes. It’s official. Christmas is here.

Not only I have just seen the first Christmas commercial of the year (an ad for Disneyland Paris) but I also just experienced a newly decorated Tesco – complete with garlands and special offers on yuletide logs. I mean who the hell is going to buy a yuletide log? Maybe the kind of people who are so organized that they buy their Christmas presents throughout the course of the year. I’ve always wanted to do that. But of course I never do and I appease myself with the idea that it’s probably a bit sad to do that anyway.

No – this year, as always, I will be doing my Christmas shopping in Bath on Christmas Eve. If you see me running hectically along Milsom Street on the 24th December it would probably be best to give me a wide berth as I will probably burst into tears with the stress of it all.

So anyway, since I had the elastic and metal taken off on Friday I haven’t really gone mad for the kinds of foods that I haven’t been able to eat. That changed this evening. I was sat here watching TV and suddenly got a craving for donuts. So I jumped into the car and drove to Tesco. Not only did I buy 20 mini donuts but also six Mr. Kipling bakewell slices, a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, six Dairylea Slices (light I might add) and 2 pints of Chocolate milkshake. Yummy.

Now I definitely have to go to the gym tomorrow to burn it all off.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Result

Didn’t fancy Mauro.

Ended up in Nightingales, drunk with my top off, dancing to Shakira. Finished the evening off by making out with an 18 year old Daniel Radcliff (Harry Potter) lookalike.

I was saying to Clare today that there is someth ing creepy about snogging 18 year olds. Imagine me at 14 looking at a baby and saying “I’m gonna snog him one day!” Ew! EW!!!

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Blind Date

So I didn’t get much sleep. I had to be on a train to Birmingham at 2pm, you see. Bearing in mind my lack of rest I am actually quite excited. I’m on one of the new trains in Virgin’s fleet – the ones that tilt when they go around a corner. I’m keeping a close eye on my complementary cup of tea (I paid the ten pound weekend upgrade to First Class) to see if it spills over as we round treacherous bends.

Did you know that Virgin First Class has little output sockets so that you can listen to a soothing collection of classical music? And that every seat comes with it’s own AC socket so that you can charge your laptop? So as I write this I am powering up my trusty little iBook, thanks to Mr. Branson.

So tonight I am going on a blind date, set up for me by a woman. Well it’s a kind of blind date – I’ll come onto that in a minute. Now, usually I avoid blind dates like the plague because with all due respect, women are just not very accomplished at matchmaking gay men. Sorry ladies, but you’re just not.

Ok, this is going to sound like I am trying to ingratiate myself, but bear with me. I have a theory that all women are ever so slightly in love with their gay boyfriends. I’m not talking about the kind of love that speaks in the language of heart flips, poetry and The Carpenters’ Greatest Hits (well maybe the Carpenters’ Greatest Hits.) I’m talking about the same kind of love that Mum’s have for David Essex and Richard Chamberlain.

Put it this way – how many times have you heard a woman describe her best gay boyfriend with the following adjectives – “Gorgeous!”, “Funny!”, “Stylish!” Yes? A few? And how many times have you (I am directing this question to my fellow gayers) eventually met said gay boyfriend on a highly orchestrated and artificial blind date and discovered that while, yes, he is actually quite funny and yes, come to think of it he is quite stylish (although, duh, he is gay afterall!), it is clearly apparent that he was beaten mercilessly with the ugly stick at a very young age. Girls always tend to omit that small little detail.

So why don’t girls notice any negative physical traits in gay men? The answer is this. Every gayer is born with an and innate and inherent cunning in terms of exactly what is required in order to make his girlfriend (and, incidently, all mothers) fall in love with him. All it takes are one or two carefully chosen liners, a la “You look fabulous in that Beret. No, it doesn’t make your face look fat. To me it just screams Faye Dunaway in Bonnie & Clyde,” and girlfriend is yours for the long haul. No more will she see the slightly bulbous tip of your nose, developing jowels, thread-veins (too many frozen Cosmopolitans) and receding hairline – from this day forward she will see only the devilishly handsome, eternally reliable and oh-so-sensitive prince within. Ha! Pushovers!!!

Just a quick aside – it has been documented that it is not only gay men have the gift of afore mentioned “innate and inherent cunning.” Ever wonder why there are so many gorgeous women on the arms of fat, shiny faced gnomes? They too have the power to make women feel like a million pounds. Incidentally, I’ve always wondered, before the introduction of the Euro of course, if Italian men would ever say (in Italian) “Baby – you look like a million lire tonight”, because a million lire is not actually very much money.

I digress. On the whole women are matchmakers. It’s in their blood. And on the whole the mature gay man, especially those in their 30s (!) are, when it comes to matters of the heart, somewhat cynical (by 30 overall general disappointment and failure becomes somewhat less painful – each new occurrence just conjures up a sense of nostalgia for all the previous disappointments.)

But even while we may be cynical, most of us gay boys can be at the same time slightly romantically delusional (blame too many late night re-runs of Meg Ryan movies), believing that our very own knight in shining armor is just around the corner, waiting to sweep us up and place us on the back of his valiant and trusty steed, before riding us off into the crimson sunset (to live forever in a choicely furnished Manhattan style loft apartment.)

But this is the important thing - all gay men would like their potential life partner to be good looking. They just do. Us gays are a shallow bunch, but accept the fact that we like the world to look beautiful. More so if you are a Libran (me). And good looking does not have to be the latest Calvin Klein underwear model (although…). I for example have a really big crush on Colin Firth, who while not a minger by any standards, is also not Freddie Ljundberg.

So, you go into work and Samantha (or Smanfah if she is from Essex) from accounts insists that you simply must meet her really good friend Graham. She asserts that you will love him. It is important that you note that she will use the word “gorgeous” as an overall character descriptor, and does not necessarily mean that he is, well, gorgeous, exclamation mark! Note that when we say “Is he good looking?” we will always be answered with the affirmative. But again, remember that she is seeing the inner prince, not the outer frog. And that she is in love with him a bit. And that she is a girl. And that girls are a bit stupid.

Yes, I have had my fingers burned by blind dates. One time my friend Superna set me up with this guy called Simon (name changed, not to protect the innocent, but because I can’t remember it) – we met at the Prince of Bonapartes in Maida Vale. I have no idea why because it’s not even a gay bar. So he walks in and he cannot be considered by anyone’s (apart from Superna’s) standards, attractive. Long, waxy, intensely curly hair and fat. And wearing a tie-died T-shirt. But yes, I will graciously concede to the fact that he was really lovely.

I’m not saying that every gay blind date is aesthetically disastrous. For instance there was a date I went on with this really cute guy called Michael (real name), but about an hour into the date he ruined it by announcing to me that he had sufffered from numerous STI's. It kinda put me off.

So why am I going on a blind date tonight? Well a while ago I was talking to Clare about who my perfect boyfriend would be. He is late twenties / early thirties, Italian, an architect, very funny, likes staying in on a Friday night and cuddling infront of the TV, wears glasses sometimes, floppy brown hair that he keeps pushing back off his face, dark brown eyes, a great cook, a wine expert, sensitive, likes walks on the beach, not afraid to cry, has a Labrador and reads Keat’s just for a laugh (I know, I’ve never been very specific.)

Earlier this week Clare calls me and wants to know if I want to join her and her buddies on the annual Gay Switchboard Tour. I am reliably informed that my Italian Dream Boat fantasy might actually come true and while I am not really looking to date right now, the opportunity is intriguing. There is an Italian gay man called Mauro who has just joined the group and she thinks that I might like him. He’s not an architect, but is handsome and is an artist, which peaks my interest sufficiently.

Now Clare is not any old woman. As a lesbian she has special immunity from Gay Boy Bullshit and therefore does not develop platonic crushes on her gay male friends, so can objectively tell the handsome ones from the not so handsome ones. Also Clare knows double that I can be a fairly fickle chap and would not try to set me up with anyone who could be deemed below par.

So tonight I am going on a blind date, although it’s pretty failsafe if I don’t fancy him, cause he doesn’t actually know it’s a blind date, and has never heard of me before in his life.

But if I do like him I will be seducing him with my newly regained mega-watt killer smile (metal/elastic was taken out yesterday) and sparkling, witty small talk. Roar!

Eurgh...

I feel like the underside of a camels scrotum right now. I have just got in after a marathon clubbing session with Kelly and Mark.

Started at The Box, then onto The Edge, then Fiction followed by A:M. It's 9.22am and I have been dancing non stop for almost ten hours.

Dang, my legs are gonna ache later!

And that's about it. I am too befuddled to write anything more cerebral. Cheerio, etc.

(I think I'm still drunk)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Spot the deliberate mistake

It's not actually Friday. Stupid Christopher! (Hits self hard around head.)

Stupid Spice Girls

Poor Mel B. Her career over, all her money taken by Jimmy Gulzar... you would almost feel sorry for her, were it not for the fact that she is such a vile cow.

According to Popbitch a dinner guest at Mel B's mansion during happier times, reported that Mel had a giant ornately-carved gold and wood chess set in her living room.

While coming back from the toilet, the guest spotted Mel's dog humping and chewing one of the pawns.

"Don't worry,” said Mel. “It's only one of the little pieces. I've got 16 of those."

Silly moo.

And just because it’s Friday, here’s a little joke to make you chuckle:

A man walks into a bar dressed as Shakespeare.

The barman says "Get Out - you're barred."

Boom boom!

Yeah, ok…I’m going, I’m going…

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Opposite of a Kiss

My friend Lara and I were talking at lunch about the existential and stuff. She asked me what would be the opposite of a kiss. This is what I think it is...

It repels. It does not draw you in.

There is no gentle sigh afterwards. It is cold. Dry.

It sucks the air out of your lungs. Not like an exhale.

There is a vacuum with no end and no beginning.

It does not leave you wanting more.

It is like a shock from an electrified fence. It is ice on glass.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Life from both sides...

Driving back through Hampton Court. The sun is setting and the sky looks pinky mauve. I feel content and although the gearbox is a bit clunky (I keep almost putting the car into reverse) the world seems good and full of infinite possibilities. And then this song comes on the radio. It’s Joni Mitchell, and she sings…

Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and dunes and ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say I love you right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

Yeah, it sounds depressing. But somehow it wasn’t. It was a moment and I felt…well, I felt like a grown man.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Air Force One

This might be a really boring read for the rest of you, but to me, well, this kind of stuff brings out the straight boy geek in me…

I have just been reading an article in the newspaper about Air Force One. Did you know that it is one of the most technologically advanced and secure vessels in the air today?

The plane, also known as “Angel”, undergoes rigorous maintenance everyday whether the plane is flying or not. Every 154 days, the plane is completely taken apart and put back together again.

24 hours before wheels-up, the plane’s fuel is sealed in a tank truck guarded by sharpshooters. One hour before wheels-up, Air Force specialists analyze fuel for purity and the right levels of octane and water.

The wiring on the plane is shielded to protect it from a thermonuclear blast.

If you want to sabotage Air Force One you have to get past 48 armed members of the Airlift Security Unit or join the maintenance crew, which takes 12 years after a two year background check.

The plane takes off at an above normal velocity and altitude vector for a Boeing 747. This is to minimize the risk of the plane being hit by any ground to air weapons systems.

I once saw Air Force One on the tarmac at Kennedy in NYC. I got goosebumps!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Do Fern's Count Sheep?

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night but in actuality you’re not really awake, but still in a dream like state? Where the dream feels so real that you’re stood in front of the bathroom washbasin thinking “I have to get back to my customers” or something like that? I have. I had it happen last night. I have no idea what time of the night it was and for right now what I was dreaming about is pretty inconsequential. But last night was like the third time it’s happened in the last week or so.

I’ve often wondered what sort of dreams people have who are born blind. Do they dream in touch, sound and temperature? Has anyone ever documented this?

On the whole I think that humans are the only animal to know the difference between sleeping and dreaming. It doesn’t matter if you are a lion cub, a jellyfish or a fern – I think that wakefulness and dreaming are the same thing to them all. I think that until recently, maybe a few thousand years ago, that was the case for humans too. But then there must have been someone out there who broke the cycle, who told people the difference between the two worlds. And so, for a few centuries, people became used to thinking of real life and dreaming as two different places.

And I thought about this more – maybe it was something to do with yesterday’s billboard. There must have also been someone who told us all about the past, present and future, that a day wasn’t just a day (isn’t this what Trekkies call “Temporal Mechanics”?)

And finally there had to be someone out there who came along and told people that on top of everything else, not only was there life and death, but there was also life after death? Perhaps I am being dumb here. I think that particular someone's name was Jesus.

I think I have too much time on my hands to think about things like this. It is amazing how much more you ponder on things when you don’t have imminent communications reviews to pen.

Three Words

I came out of the Tate Britain and the sun was shining really gently and the air was bracing, but not too cold. It was Autumn in the most beautiful way and going home on the tube would have been rude. So I started to walk.

Somewhere near Kennington I saw this huge billboard and all it said on it was “Watch this space.” Nothing else. And I thought that was so simple, brilliant and inspiring all at once and the fact that it was probably just a prelude to another advertisement for some new online banking service seemed kind of irrelevant. Maybe the overall theme of the afternoon had put me in a certain frame of mind, but I thought it was luminous and it stirred me enough to write the words down in my notebook.

I’m not one of those people who think, like in F.Scott Fitzgerald, that their best years were 20 years prior. No - I think the best day has got to be the next day. I’m not saying that today is irrelevant. But I think for me life is all about what’s next.

It’s like the billboard - before the actual ad went up they put in, in big block letters:

“Watch this space.”

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Two Go Mad in Ikea

Vix and I are currently both ‘sans’ work, so we are making the best of our free days in the manner of lunches, treatments and spa sessions at my gym. Only yesterday’s particular spa treatment was cut short by the spa being closed due to essential maintenance. Apparently the filter in the pool needed changing. No doubt the fault of the really unattractive guy I saw there the other day with hair running all down his back. The kind of length with which you could plait.

So instead of curing our collective hangovers with a refreshing swim, steam and sauna, we decided that we would cleanse ourselves in an entirely different way – with Swedish designed disposable furniture.

I shop at Ikea out of necessity. That being I simply can’t afford to buy my shelving units from Heal’s. I probably visit Ikea about once a year and every visit is preceded with the kind of excitement you feel when you’re very young and your parents take you on a special pre-Christmas trip to Hamleys. It’s the promise of a trolley full of the kinds of things that you didn’t realize that you needed – sets of three matching sandblasted vases, miniature cactuses and the odd Ficus tree.

Yet whenever I actually arrive at Ikea and walk through the doors (it really bothers me, by the way, that every single Ikea I have ever been to, from London to New Jersey, has looked exactly the same) the excitement is washed from me and I am left with the feeling that I left anything resembling personal quirkiness in the carpark. There is nothing in Ikea to dislike. And you have this eerie feeling that you have in fact seen everything before. Which you probably have, in the homes of numerous friends and colleagues.

Anyway – I set myself a budget of thirty pounds and for that I managed to purchase a basic wooden four shelf unit (the kind found in every university student’s bedroom), a wooden box for a white orchid plant and a three photo picture frame. Pretty good going, nest pas?

Did you know that the actual price you pay for the absurdly cheap (68p) Ikea hotdog is that the hotdog itself is, well, gross? Until yesterday I hadn’t actually had one before, but Vix assured me that I really did want one, so I relented and she gleefully bounded off to the hotdog counter while I fumed in the obscenely long queue for the checkout.

So the colour of the hotdog is not the standardized red of the common hotdog, but rather more like a kind of beige. Which led me to think that maybe the hotdog was in fact chicken. Then there is the skin of the hotdog which is extremely thick - only god truly know's what it is made from. So thick was the skin that I was unable to bite through it. Ok, this has something to do with the fact that I currently can’t bite down fully on my front teeth. The effect of this dental misalignment was that whenever I took a bite I actually just squeezed the hotdog meat through end of the skin. I’ll leave you to imagine the overall effect. Vix thought that it was highly amusing. Which of course it wasn't.

I am going to the Tate this afternoon to reestablish my appreciation of aesthetics and design. I might decide to adorn my new Ikea shelving unit with a snazzy new Anish Kapoor bedside lamp.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Conversations With a Supermodel and an Actor

A friend told me a story today about a London mini-cab driver who picked up Kate Moss and Daniel Craig last weekend from the Holiday Inn in Camden. He recounted a sample of their conversation:

Daniel, "You're gorgeous"

Kate, "I know that."

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime

Change your heart, look around you
Change your heart, it will astound you
I need your loving like the sunshine
And everybody's gotta learn sometime
Everybody's gotta learn sometime
Everybody's gotta learn sometime

Change your heart, look around you
Change your heart, it will astound you
I need your loving like the sunshine
And everybody's gotta learn sometime
Everybody's gotta learn sometime
Everybody's gotta learn sometime

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Not Enough Drew in My World

I have just got back from one of those excursions that are always so bitter sweet. Kate and I just dropped Drew off at Heathrow. Sweet because it's always nice to see someone off on a new adventure and chapter in their lives. Bitter because you're saying goodbye.

One of the last cute things I did was when I was about nine. I remember visiting someone in London with my parents and saying goodbye to them at the station as we boarded the train to come back home. I looked at my mum and, trying not to cry, said "Goodbyes make my throat hurt."

Drew has become something really special to me since I came back from New York. He has listened endlessly to my woes and never, not once, complained or belittled me. And he has made me soup with no bits in. And he made me feel good about having a mouth full of elastic and metal - last night he even said that it could be considered almost attractive (I think he may have been trying to humor me.)

So goodbye Drew. I miss you already. I double promise to make sure that I have the car to pick you up from the airport in March!

But something sweet always comes from something sad, and I think that today I made a new friend. I have met Kate on a number of occasions and we have always greeted each other with much enthusiasm. But usually the situation we were in was not conducive to conversation (or rather the state we were in was not conducive to conversation!)

Kate is one of these people who immediately intrigues you and makes you think "I want her to be my friend." So although I wasn't looking forward to today, in that Drew was leaving, I was looking forward to spending some time with Kate, to really start to get to know her. And that I did. No awkward silences on the long journey back into London from Heathrow on the Piccadilly Line - we were chatting nine to the dozen the whole way. And although I didn't tell her this, I actually stayed on the train two stations past my stop because I wanted to carry on talking with her.

We have arranged to meet on Tuesday for lunch. No doubt we will be lamenting the lack of Drew in our worlds.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Rapid Eye Movement

Last night I had the strangest dream.

No, this isn't a song lyric. It was an actual dream where me and a bunch of my friends piled into an auditorium, like in a school, ostensibily. We were waiting for REM to play this small, private show. This was basically REM circa somewhere between 94 and 97, so everyone was still in the group, but it was after Bill Berry had an aneurysm and also before he left the band and before Peter Buck got arrested for beating up some stewardesses or whatever.

Anyway, so in my dream, Peter Buck, Bill Berry and Mike Mills filed out first and then a few seconds later, Michael Stipe. And of course he garnered the most hoopla. Anyway, so I'm in something like the third row, and I'm really excited but really cold. So Michael walks up to me and leans over the railing and covers me in this gigantic, comfy fleece blanket, smiles, and then starts the show!

WTF? I won't even get into the number of Freudian daddy issues this brings up as well as the latent Christ imagery.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Bloody Engineers

The telephone in the apartment has been almosst impossible to use because there has been so much background interference. So I was really proactive the other day and finally got around to calling BT to ask them to send an engineer out. I was informed that they would turn up today between 8am and 1pm. "Ah" I thought. The chance for a lie in. I mean what are the chances of the man turning up at 8am?

Every chance apparently. The engineer seems to think that the neigbours downstairs have been mucking about with the connection box. The same neighbours who play electric guitar at 4am.

Wanna know what I am doing today? Buying a tax disc for the car, lunch with Rachel and then catch a train to Birmingham to spend the weekend with Clare and Lucy. It's Matt's birthday tonight so we are going to get drunkety, drunk, drunk.

Happy weekend everyone!