Sunday, November 30, 2003

"Ooh it's your birthday, congratulations" "No, who are you?"

“Hi do you remember me? I used to work in the department opposite you” said the girl whose face I immediately and incorrectly identified as belonging to Catherine O’Leary, who I lived round the corner from my parents and I haven’t seen since I was nine.

It was a bit like that on Saturday. When Simon and I decided to have a party in a pub that would hold 200 we were pessimistic about being able to fill it. So we told everyone to invite their friends, and their friends friends and their, well, you get the picture. We had no idea who would turn up.

“These are my flatmates” said the girl, pointing to a woman who stared at me as though I’d unpicked the stitching on her favourite teddy bear. Who two minutes later was poking me and massaging my shoulders. Who two minutes after that appeared to be retching over the bar.

“Dance with me”. I didn’t. Gareth later informed me, in a story which became more grotesque with each telling, that she quickly became involved in a vigorously amorous clinch with a stranger in brown slip-ons.

The multiplier effect of our laissez fair invite policy threatened to swamp the venue, the phone kept ringing, the emails kept arriving, the guests became further and further removed from the original invite list. Everyone turned up, from Internet celebrities who live in log cabins in Canada to Emma’s sister’s friend’s husband’s sister’s mates.

It was, of course, great. Faces put to names, old acquaintances rekindled. People sucked vodka out of the Ice Luge. Penny and Mike flew in from Jersey especially as a total and complete surprise. The night was punctuated by countless half conversations with everyone from my sister, to my oldest school friends to newer friends like Clare and Meg. If I stood everyone in a line, these people could have pieced together my entire life story.

There were selfish reasons for the party, we wanted to DJ. Five hours through Maceo and the Macs, Salt N Pepa, Ludacris, Collapsed Lung, Junior Jack, into an awkward hole I struggled to climb out of, back out to Finger Lickin’ breaks, and inappropriately hard techno. For the final 15 minutes we pounded out Groove is in the Heart, Crazy in Love, and Jump Around to a room full of people dancing on chairs and pulling their best shapes. Even the bar staff were bouncing around like loons. My only regret is that we didn’t have anything to play for the Finnish barmaid who asked if we had anything from her homeland. She still gave us a couple of free shots, presumably because she’d had a good night and we’d been good customers.

Eventually our extended licence expired and the lights came up, it was time to pull out cables, pack away records and lug the PA back down three flights of stairs. Suddenly we were confronted by a wall of very very drunk people. Supremely, unexpectedly drunk people, each and every person I talked to was bouncing off the walls, or slurring their speech or acting inappropriately. Probably because unknown to most people, the bar staff kept in the spirit of the party by only serving doubles.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Bastard by Motley Crue

When I worked at The Little Oxford Publishing Company on the Hill I had an almost sibling relationship with a girl in my department. Whilst I was more sensible and pragmatic, she was deeply intelligent yet a bit erratic so we got on and hated each other at the same time. My approach meant my Directorial bollockings were less frequent and my pay rises marginally better. Although in that company, this really only meant that my peanuts were dry roasted and hers ready salted.

Anyway, she had perfect punchline to any musical conversation: -

“So what are you having as the first dance at your wedding will it be Bastard by Motley Crue?”
“What are you going to sing at the Karaoke how about Bastard by Motley Crue?”
“I always sing songs to my niece, Row Row Row Your Boat, Incey Wincey Spider, Bastard by Motley Crue.”
“Which tune from Oklahoma shall we sing next, hmm, Bastard by Motley Crue?”

I use it all the time, it’s the perfect way to end any conversation about music. Anyway, I had my first homoerotic experience last week, a mid-week karaoke night in Coventry.

I have no beef with Karaoke, herds of women screeching Summer Lovin’, tribes of men hollering Wonderwall. People seem to enjoy themselves, there’s a sense of fun in humiliating yourself with your mates. It’s safe, it’s silly, it’s what you do from time to time. I wouldn’t do it even if you nailed my scrotum to my feet, but people do it don’t they?

Only this wasn’t that type of Karaoke, this was for regulars, earnest men with delusions of a semi professional singing career clustered round a small dance floor taking it in turns to show us their stuff. Wind Beneath My Wings, Forever in Blue Jeans, Life is a Rollercoaster, and, ulp, Angels.

God it was awful, navigating an axis of Stereophonics and Neil Diamond, each bloke, aged about 50, dressed casually, with the look of the killer about them, would step up, close their eyes in emotional concentration and with a little echo effect from Dave’s Mobile Disco, give it welly. I can’t imagine for a second that they would go back to work on Thursday and tell their mates what they did. They probably don’t tell their wives, it would have been like, I don’t know, buggering farmyard animals or something.

These guys were serious about their seedy hobby; they even did that thing where they moved the microphone away during the long notes. You know, to protect the sound system from their powerful range.

My reticence to engage in this musical S&M meant I was accused of trying to look cool, mainly because I didn’t dance to the bloke in the braces singing Enrique Inglasias’ Hero. I was accused of being miserable because I suggested we threw sugar lumps at the bad people, glasses at the really awful. People were even shocked when I got up to sing, but alas they didn’t have Bastard by Motley Crue.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Friday stuff

Point your right finger in the air and draw the figure six. Keep circling your finger in this way.

Now stick your right leg out, circle your foot in the same direction as your finger.

Now whilst you’re doing it, change the direction of your circling your finger.

LOOK! Your foot has changed direction too.

Try it again, much as you try not to, your foot will always comply with your finger. But you can do it if you use opposite fingers and feet.

There, that killed a couple of minutes didn’t it?

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Doesn't suit you sir

To my immense disappointment this weekend I had to buy myself a dinner suit. For one, I've hit an age where my friends rather like the curio of dressing up posh on occasion. But mostly my need comes from my job, which dictates that I have to go to a couple of black tie dinners a year (no, I'm not a very part time waiter).

So, it's become economical for me to buy, rather than rent, something I didn't really want to do. I don't like wearing them, I don't feel particularly special in it. I feel my youth ebbing away as I'm shoe horned into the constraints of adulthood. I know, I'm probably too old to get sulky about wearing a tie, but I'd really prefer a groovy pair of trainers.

Simon's got his own dinner suit, which has been sagely handed down from his dad and has probably been hand stitched by an aged London tailor who works only by candlelight. When I heard that he was wearing his dad's dinner suit I envisaged huge flares, a purple dress shirt with capacious ruffles cascading down his chest and a vast velvet bow tie, like Eddie Large on his primetime Saturday evening show in the 70's. Sadly though, it's a classic cut that fits perfectly.

I'm not sure whether my dad has a dinner suit, he's several inches shorter than me, so I'd look a right banana if I did wear it. I had to get my own.

My brief was simple, keep it classic and keep the cost down. There's not a great choice of course, a dinner suit is a dinner suit. Each shop has a rack of classic black suits; stripe down the trousers, slightly shiny lapels, the works. They all also have a couple of white ones, and ties with diamante diamonds embedded, you know, for people who want to look a bit different and special (aka like a twat). I was flumuxed as the couple next to me in Marks and Spencer oggled the white suits with admiration, putting a range of multi-coloured bow ties up against the lapels to see how they matched.

I went classic, and cheap - machine washable even. Sullied and depressed, I also bought a parka with a furry hood, It's kind of cool, like what the kids wear.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Greatly exaggerated rumour

I’m back. Flu-less, cold-less, injury-less, even hassle and stress less. I fell into the dark abyss and was, for seventy two hours, corrupted and diseased. I succumbed to my first day off work (man or boy) since Kenny Dalglish resigned as Liverpool manager, but having weathered that harsh winter, I’m refreshed and unleaden with the angst of my circumstance.

I couldn’t have done it without my friends Nurofen, Lemsip Cough Medicine (for chesty coughs) or Ribena Original for they all gallantly waged war with me on the hideous spectre. And we won.

I don’t know whether I feel better (better than I did before I was ill) because I’ve beaten the illness, or because I'm not ill anymore, or because I know that when I’m old and decrepit, every day will feel a bit like last week and I should be thankful I’ve at least got me ‘elf.

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