Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Ever since I failed one following a job interview I have not really believed in psychometric evaluations. I mean, how do you "fail" a psychometric evaluation?! Just because I'm a raging sociopath doesn't mean that I'm necessarily a lesser person.

That was until yesterday when I got the results from another psychometric evaluation from yet another job interview.

I particularly agree with these strengths:
  • Exhibits poise
  • Highly competitive
  • Diplomatic and sensitive to other's points of view
  • Highly intellectual and investigative
  • Accomplished verbal communicator
I do not like the following weaknesses:
  • Energy often wasted by too much personal involvement
  • May be too critical and fault finding
  • May over-estimate his own abilities from time to time
  • Sets too high standards
  • Prone to procrastination
[One of the weaknesses was inability to accept criticism, but I left that off, because it is so very clearly complete nonsense.]

Monday, July 25, 2005

I only realised that I had a mojo about seven years ago. I was at Popstarz with some friends and my friend, Ann, asked me who in the club I thought was attractive. I looked around and pointed at some impossibly good looking, ripped guy at the end of the bar.

"Him," I said. "But he is SO out of my league."

"No he's not! Don't be stupid. You're really good looking!" Ann replied, completely oblivious to the secret gay code that decrees that one must not deem to step outside one's own genetic pool.

Later on in the evening, after quite a lot of drinks and with a bit of dutch courage, I managed to brush myself up against him on the dancefloor. Unbelievably, one thing led to another and it wasn't long before I was in a cab with him, heading back to his place.

Fortunately for me, it didn't turn out to be a one night stand and a few days later we went on our first date. I already knew this (obviously, or not obviously) but for your sake, his name was Phillipe. He was French and for some years had worked as a model, before becoming an actor. I've already said it, but he was handsome in that way that you are just forced to think to yourself, "What are you doing with me?"

During dinner we asked each other a few innocuous questions. One of them, from me, was "What's your star sign." A stupid question coming from me, as you faithful readers will know, because I don't really care.

"Well, when do you think I was born?" said Phillipe.

I looked away for a second, as if deep in thought, and took a guess.

"December 17."

A pause, and then, with the most serious of expressions, "How did you know that?"

All the blood drained from my face. "Oh. Er, seriously. I didn't. I just guessed."

That was all it took. From then on he wouldn't return my calls. And that is the story of Phillipe and I. And possibly of the worst date I have ever been on.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Yesterday lunchtime I was in Boots with my flatmate, Vix, buying grooming products. I went up to the counter to pay for my goodies while Vix went outside to call her boyfriend.

While I was at the counter I decided to ask the assistant if she could recommend a product that would minimise and dull any T-zone shine. She told me that she did sell something like that, but that it was in the stock room. While she was more than happy to go and grab some, I told her not to worry as I couldn't really wait.

"Why? Do you have a train to catch?"

"No, I just have a meeting to attend," I explained.

"Oh, that's ok. Because you know there have been some more bombs on the tube. They've closed down a load of the stations again."

I looked at her, aghast. "No! Seriously? That's awful! Has anyone been hurt?"

"I'm not sure. I guess so," and we both shook our heads, mournfully.

After a respectful pause the shop assistant said, "You know I can give you some samples of the product I was telling you about?"

"Great!" I replied.

I left the shop and gleefully showed my twelve, free, mini-sachets of Clinique Oil Control Hydrator to Vix.

Later on I was forced to consider that I am either shallow beyond belief, or that the terrorists have completely and utterly failed to inspire any real feelings of terror within me.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

An email exchange with my friend Zach (a fellow iBook owner):

Christopher:
I REALLY need your help. Please respond to this email as soon as you can! I have hardcore gay porn stuck in the CD drive on my iBook and I am using it at work and the computer guy is due to come in to do something to it at 4pm!!! Usually there is a little hole you can stick a paperclip in and it ejects the disc, but I can't find it! I tried the Apple support website, but to no avail. Help me Zach! You're my only hope! (Note that I could have asked you to "help me find my hole" but am far too mature.)

Zach:
Oh gosh ... I don't really know. Did you try turning off the computer and restarting it? I had that happen to me once and that seemed to work. I think I was hitting the eject button before the computer was fully re-booted and it ejected. Good luck! If that doesnt work, just blame it on an intern...

Christopher:
No! I tried that! IT DOESN'T WORK!!! Rudy (IT guy) is going to learn that I like watching DVDs called "Anal Intruder 5".

Zach:
Tell him that it's from a new client of yours ... that you're doing the PR for Bel Ami.

Christopher:
I'm going to have to call Apple Support. This is too humiliating for words. Not least for the fact that I can't work out how to eject a DVD, regardless of the fact that it's bum-porn.

Zach:
Oh Christopher. You've done it again!

Christopher:
Shut up.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I'm sorry for not having written about my Grandma sooner. Forgive me if I don't go into too much detail here. It's not that I find it particularly upsetting, per se. It's just that I have dissected every minutiae of her condition with almost every member of my family over the past week and I am starting to get a little tired of the subject. That sounds awful, but you don't know my family (although I'm sure there are enough of you with your own dysfunctional families to be able to sympathise.)

Grandma is 85 years old, but in excellent health. She takes two walks a day, doesn't drink or smoke, eats incredibly healthily. She even rides a bike from time to time.

Last Monday she went to the beach with my Aunt and Grandpa. She walked along the beach, paddled in the sea. Apparently she had a nice day. When the three of them got back home, Grandma went around to the back of the car and as she was pulling something out of the boot she fainted and fell backwards, hitting the back of her head, apparently very, very hard.

A brain scan at the hospital confirmed that she had three hemorrhages: one between her skull and her brain, one on the surface of her brain and one in her brain. Initially the surgeons didn't want to operate on her because of her age, but because she is so healthy they eventually decided to go ahead.

They removed the first two hemorrhages, but because of it's depth, left the third with the hope that it would not get any bigger. A scan conducted a couple of days after the surgery revealed that it had indeed not grown, which was good news.

However, she is not out of the woods. Because of the head injury Grandma is required to be resting horizontally, or almost horizontally, so that excess blood can be drained from her head. This means that there is a likelihood that fluid will build up on her lungs. If this happens she will more than likely develop pneumonia. Once again, because of her age, there is a possibility that she will not pull through that. That said, if anyone can pull through at her age, Grandma can.

In terms of how she is in herself, she sleeps most of the time, which is normal after brain surgery. When she is awake, she is still very dopey, but for the most part she makes sense. She does lapse into occasional dementia, but again, this is normal for someone who has recently had brain surgery. The other day she kept talking about a little black boy standing at the end of the bed. I was a little bit concerned that she was being politically incorrect and that I would have to berate her, but then I realised that a black gas cylinder was confusing her (she hasn't been wearing her glasses.)

The weird thing about all of this, from my perspective, is how well I am dealing with the whole situation. When I first heard the news from my Dad last Tuesday I was really tearful and upset. But then when I saw her and spoke to the doctors and felt a lot more philosophical. She may pull through and she may not. If this is her time to go, then we can all feel good about the fact that she has a good life, with great family and fabulous (fabulous!!!!) grandchildren. If it's not her time to go, then she will get through this and she will have more days on the beach and chats with friends and relatives over cups of Earl Grey tea.

I hope it will be the latter.

However, through all of this, I have been struck by the complete randomness of life. All of us know that we will "end" at some point. For some of us that end will be sooner than for others and will come about in a variety of different ways. In Grandma's case the doctors think that it is possible she fainted because it was a hot day and she was dehydrated. That could have happened to anyone, regardless of their age. I mean, people jump into swimming pools and emerge paralysed from the neck down.

In particular I recalled a Phoebe-ism from Friends:

"Yeah, it's just so strange. I mean, she probably woke up today and thought, 'Ok, I'll have some breakfast, and then I'll take a little walk, and then I'll have my massage.' Little did she know God was thinking, 'Ok, but that's it.'"

For me, anyway, it re-illustrates the age-old phrase, "Live each day as if it were your last."

Monday, July 18, 2005

After the events of the past week I needed to start this week off on the right foot. Arguably, dancing into the first early hour of the morning with Drew at Horsemeat Disco probably wasn't the best way to bring this about, but miraculously I woke up this morning feeling as fresh as a daisy and as chipper as Chip the chipmunk.

Things felt good as I walked out of the tube station at Old Street. I felt at one. I had just finished a "fiendish" Su Doku puzzle on the train, cute Hoxton-y guys and girls walked by, glugging from bottles of Evian and giggling into their mobile phones. The sun was beating down and for once I wasn't evaporating.

And Nina Simone sung "Here Comes The Sun" on my iPod.

Perfection.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I haven't posted for a couple of days because I have been back at home in Wiltshire. My Grandma had a really nasty fall on Monday evening and as a result had three brain hemorrhages. She had surgery to remove two of the three bleeds early on Tuesday morning, but we do not yet know if the operation has been successful.

I may post infrequently over the coming days, just so you all know. We'll see how things pan out. Fingers crossed that she gets better.

Christopher
xxx

Monday, July 11, 2005

Books

Jef tagged me with this book meme:

1. How many books do you own?

I'd estimate on about two to three hundred, the majority of which are at my Mum's house in Wiltshire, where I stored them before I moved to NYC. That figure counts for every book I've ever owned. While I may have loaned books out, I've never thrown any away.

2. Last book read?
The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. There are only three books that I have read that have actually made me cry (shut up, Drew) and this is one of them (one of the other two is listed below). It's a story about a man called Henry who suffers from a rare disorder where his genetic clock occasionally resets itself, flinging him from the present, back and forth through time. On his journeys he encounters Clare, his wife in the present, at various points in her life. On the surface the premise might seem rather fantastical, but the author makes it entirely believable. This is an old fashioned romance that had me hooked from the first page and literally sobbing by the end.

3. Last book purchased?
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. I don't really know what it is about. I know it's based on a true story and that one of my friends read it and greatly enjoyed it. I'm also very intrigued by a book called A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. All I'll say is that it had better be just that, or I'll be consulting the Trading Standards website.

4. Name five books that mean a lot to you.
Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland. There are so many reasons why I love this book (it was one of the three that have made me cry). The first is that Douglas Coupland is my favourite author in the whole world and I've read all his books. He could write an obituary and I would love it. The second is that it contains one of the most moving scenes I've ever read in a book. I can't tell you any more about that point, because it would ruin a surprise. The third is that it includes some really clever references to huge cultural landmarks from the late 90s - the kind that give you goosebumps. I frikkin love this book! Go out and buy it now!

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I'm probably hearing a bunch of you distantly yelling "Why?! Why?!" at me right now. Well, on the surface it's a pretty formulaic tale of conspiracy and the like, written in an absorbing, non-boundary pushing manner. I don't care for all that backlash nonsense - it's a bloody good read. And to question whether or not the "fact" is, indeed, fact is to thoroughly miss the point. For me the "fact" is that the Christian church is built on a fundamental lie. This realisation encouraged me to ask myself some really important and fairly profound questions about my faith and as a result I do not believe that the God I was taught about in school really exists. So while I wouldn't say I'm now an atheist, I'm definitely agnostic. That might seem rubbish - that Dan Brown made me question God. But then we can find truths in the most unlikely of places.

Alexander and the Magic Mouse by Martha Sanders. This is my favourite book from when I was a kid. An old lady lives on a hill with various animals that she has collected on her travels around the world: a yak from Tibet, a Brindle London Squatting cat, an alligator called Alexander and a magical mouse. The mouse has a premonition that the local town will be washed away by a terrible storm so the old lady sends Alexander to the town to deliver a letter to the mayor so that he can warn everyone of the impending danger. After his efforts Alexander catches flu and is deeply depressed that everyone in the town was scared of him. In the end the magical mouse gives him a tiny pink cake and overnight he gets better. Shortly after they learn that his mission was successful and the whole town comes up the hill to thank Alexander.

A Room With a View by E.M. Forster. I initially read it because I loved the movie - Rupert Graves, Julian Sands and, er, Simon Callow, naked and wrestling in a bathing pond. Sadly the book was less homoerotic than the movie, but I still enjoyed it very much. In fact it encouraged me to read all of Forster's other books, including a Passage to India, which I was supposed to have read for A Level English, but didn't. Still, better late than never.

Untitled by this man. I haven't read it yet because it's yet to be published, but as long as I get expensive Christmas and birthday presents as a result of his handsome royalties, it will forever be a book that will mean a lot to me.

5. Tag five more people.
I have had bad experiences of tagging people, so I'm going to leave it up to those who have not done this to decide if they want to do it.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Christopher hurts himself (again)

When something truly awful happens there is this inclination to just sit in front of the TV and absorb, absorb, absorb until you're as much of an expert on the goings-on as the anchorperson you've recently become best friends with. This was very much the case in my office yesterday, as the TV was on all day and no one was really doing anything apart from congregating around it.

At lunchtime I decided not to eat my low-carb, home-prepared bean and tuna salad at my desk and instead ventured down into Wimbledon town centre to meet Lindsay for lunch.

Because Lindsay didn't have much time to spare we decided to grab a quick bite and a drink at Coffee Republic, next to Wimbledon tube station. As Lindsay ordered our beverages at the front of the shop, I located an area at the back for us to sit down. As I reclined into my leather armchair, the back of my head connected heavily with the extremely sharp edge of the counter behind me. You know when you hit your head so hard that it doesn't actually hurt? That's how hard I hit my head.

As I pretended that I was actually completely fine to the cute guy sat adjacent to me I reached my hand behind my head to check out the damage and was quite shocked to discover that I was actually bleeding quite profusely. Without trying to draw too much attention to myself I got up and went to the counter to tell Lindsay what had happened and to grab some napkins from one of the baristas.

The manager of the shop, who was at this point standing behind the till, saw my bloodied hand and swiftly went into lifesaver overdrive. "Oh my God! Did you just come out of the station?!" he asked, hurriedly, grabbing a dishcloth. "Do you need some ice? Don't worry, it's ok!"

Realising that the manager had thought that I was walking wounded from the events that occurred earlier in the day, I felt a brand new rush of blood sweep through me , this time depositing itself firmly onto my cheeks. "Erm, no. I just hit my head on your counter."

Of course, Lindsay thought that it was extremely amusing that I had to include myself, however unintentionally, in amongst the overall melee.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I guess it was only a matter of time.

I've had a bunch of calls today from concerned friends and family checking up on me. "Are you ok?" they ask. "Yes." I tell them. "Good," they reply. The conversations have been brief and on the whole there seems to have been less 'talking' and more 'listening'.

Yesterday I wrote that I am proud of my country and proud to be British. Today I feel even more proud, if that's possible. I know that us Brits often get ribbed for our sometimes rather rigid sobriety, but I have to say that I think that it is on days like today that our true spirit really shines through.

Earlier on, for some reason, I remembered that scene in Elizabeth, where Cate Blanchett's infamous monarch confronts Richard Attenborough's Lord William. On the surface this quote is not entirely relevant to today's events, but for me it speaks volumes about my nation's character and spirit.

"I am my father's daughter. I am not afraid of anything."

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A good / bad date

Last night I went on a date with Paul.

I met Paul very briefly on Friday night while out drinking with Drew. It was a case of eyes meeting across a crowded pavement. At first he seemed to be leaving with some friends, but as he walked away he carried on glancing back at me. I smiled. He dumped his friends. I told him that I wasn't in a position to dump my one friend. He gave me his digits. I texted him. Last night we went on a date.

As I walked down Clapham High Street towards Kazbah (if it ain't broke, etc) I spotted Paul walking towards me. Even though I had only spoken to him briefly I recognised him instantly, but the thing I was most struck by was not his handsome good looks (which he has) but by how he was walking like a slightly deranged, homeless man who has just downed a quart of vodka.

Anyway - he didn't recognise me and as this wasn't where we were supposed to meet - on the street - I decided to play dumb and carry on to Kazbah, order a drink, grab a free gay rag, decide which dance tents at Big Gay Out I would grace with my presence and try to forget that disconcerting walk.

Paul arrived a few minutes later, slightly out of breath, apologising for being late. Knowing very well that I had just walked past him on the street I said, "Did I just walk past you on the street?" on the offchance that he had also seen me and wondered why I hadn't said, "Hello!" He hadn't, but apologised for not having seen me.

The next two hours went without hitch and as time wore on we started to inch closer and closer and we began to do all the little physical things one does when one finds oneself more and more attracted to the person sat opposite - resting your feet on the footsteps of their stool, the occasional brush against a leg, grabbing their shoulder during the middle of a really funny story. "Yes," I'm thinking, "I actually quite like you." Oh, and we agree on stuff, but not in that "Oh, yes, I also like James Blunt and I'm just saying this because I think it's what you want to hear way." More of the excited, "So do I!!!"

Eventually I looked at my watch and saw that it was 11.15pm. I explained that I was up a little bit past my bedtime and while I was having a great time, I really should be going home. It turned out that he lived not too far from me, so I agreed to walk some of the way home with him. We finished off our drinks and left.

And then, suddenly, all of the warm, fuzzy, "I think I quite like this guy" feelings instantly dissipated as he started doing that walk again. What the fuck was that shit? Again, slightly deranged lunatic. Definitely flat footed and upper body leaning forward. All I could think was "patient" and the overall illusion was ruined. As quick as it had arrived, it vanished. No more dates for me and Paul.

Now you might think that after having spent two hours on what was essentially a really good date, I would be really disappointed. But if you did, you'd be wrong.

All I could feel was massive relief that I would not be spending my ever-after with a guy who made me cringe with embarrassment every time he put foot to floor. It is for important reasons like these that I am not willing to compromise. It makes the idea of an eternal singledom entirely bearable.

Monday, July 04, 2005

I am recovering from a slightly hectic weekend.

(Incidentally - before I continue if you spot any random puntuation marks or copyright symbols in my text, please ignore them. I write my posts in Word, before copying and pasting them into Blogger. For some reason Blogger has stopped recognising punctuation transferred across and gets confused. Very annoying, but it raises less suspicion when blogging at work if I spend two hours writing a post in a Word document, as opposed to the Blogger compose window. The bloggers amongst you will understand what I mean.)

I spent Saturday with my Dad and my stepmom, doing the tourist "thang" around central London. Despite Live8 taking place just under half a mile away in Hyde Park, the city was eerily quiet - more so than during a quiet week day, which was actually brilliant for dragging parents around.

We had a nice lunch at a small cafe in Piccadilly and then we walked down South Bank, next to the Thames, to the Tate Modern to see the Frida Kahlo exhibition. Dad messed it up and went through the exhibition the wrong-way-round. I met him half way through and he actually said to me, "Her painting style seems to get worse as she got older."

Anyway - I learned a couple of things. I learned that Frida Kahlo had an affair with Leon Trotsky while he was staying as a guest at the home of her and her husband. How fabulous. I wonder if he was hot?

The other thing I learned, or rather I realised, is that regardless of whether you live a life of pain, whether you enjoy your life (as, for one reason or another, Frida generally didn't seem to) you can live a life which has a profoundly positive effect on other people – making you realise that you’re never alone in how you feel and / or you can understand and empathise with someone elses pain without the need for words. I'd always thought that it was kind of narcissistic of Kahlo to feature herself so prominently in her paintings, but what I now understand is that in her case she felt that it it was essential in order to create an emotional connection with the theme she was conveying.

Oh – another thing my Dad said to me (with absolute seriousness), "She was very good at drawing fruit and vegetables, wasn't she?"

Saturday night / Sunday morning were spent gaying it with my friends at clubs in Vauxhall. Action, which occurs once every fortnight, was followed by Beyond, a weekly after-hours club night, just around the corner at the Coliseum. As usual I had a great time with my friends. There was not much drinking, a little bit of boy-kissing at Action, a couple of compliments from guys significantly bigger than me on what a good body I have (bring this one on as much as you like) and a tired trudging through my front door at midday on Sunday.

I remembered this morning that my friend Kelly (a girl) demanded that I take her through the sex maze at Action. While I was, at first, hesitant about performing such an action at Action, I eventually relented, on the proviso that the only thing she grabbed was my hand. Later on in the evening she joked that she thought she might be pregnant. I am undecided whether to tell her that it might actually be wise to buy a pregnancy test.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Score!

Last night, while I was working out at the gym, my friend Richard walked up to me. Looking vaguely concerned, he whispered, "Have you been taking steroids?"

While it is true that, of late, I have been attending the gym a lot more and working out harder than I ever have before, it's not true that I have been taking steroids.

It is, however, an appropriate indication of the type of world that I live in that I took Richard's question as the best compliment ever.