Wednesday, March 31, 2004

So. The beautiful Tamara (I'm guessing she's beautiful, just suspend any disbelief you may harbour) has given me an idea.

Ten words that mean drunk in England but probably don't translate as such:
Off one's tits
Ripped to the tits
In one's cups (bit of Shakespeare to finish with - it's cultural innit)

Another point of transatlantic linguistic differences...
You Americans - you don't use the word "pissed" to mean drunk, do you? Or "piss artist" to mean drunkard? Or "out on the piss" to mean enjoying a few drinks in the company of some young friends?
How do you cope? Conversations with the mother tongue must prove surprisingly confusing... and a weekend in Lewisham or Stretford like kicking-out time at the Tower of Babel. (Not that you'd know what a weekend in Lewisham or Stretford was like anyway - and for that you should be eternally grateful.)

So it seems sobriety does have an effect on the creative process after all. Not only do I feel remarkably less good-looking, clever, or amusing for not having drunk anything tonight... but I also haven't felt less like writing anything all day/evening/night too.
(There's plenty that needs doing as well - even apart from this one-hand clap (if a man blogs and there's no one around to hear him, does he blog at all?) I've got fully two things to write for work - due in Thursday. Remember what I said a few days ago about leaving it till Wednesday? Funny about that, eh?)
My only comfort is that, what with the England match tomorrow night and all, I shall be back on the sauce - and presumably back in the zone - before the earth has fully turned once more.
My, the things we put ourselves through for the cheap thrill of public adoration!


Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Tonight shall be a night without booze. The first in about three weeks... and the last for the foreseeable future (stag do this weekend - game over).
Will it be easy? Will I manage at all? Oh yes! You just watch me.

Ahh, sun is shining!
Walking through Covent Garden yesterday evening I got that first rush of summer... it was six o'clock and the streets around the plaza were tinted in ochre and gold, the temperature holding good at around 60 degrees. Offices were emptying, jacketless men and girls in dresses mingling with the lens-eyed tourists, the strolling shoppers, the languid tramps and fidgety Big Issue sellers; the pubs were spilling over (on a Monday!) and the general background level of chatter, of greeting and goodbye, was altogether... sunnier.

It put me in mind to waste the evening outside a boozer, propped against a chair on a table for two in the pavement, eyeing the passers-by, the lumbering buses and the winking taxis and talking that kind of relaxed summery nonsense you never seem to be able to conjure up during the darker months. It put me in mind to buy a t-shirt or two, to splash out on some new Converse.

But most of all, it reminded me that somehow everything always turns out okay in the end. Now matter how bitter the winter, the winter always ends. Isn't it strange how we forget that every year?


Monday, March 29, 2004

Oh, excellent. Make that three commissions. And now I have to leave to see The One in half an hour.
What with all the sleeping/drinking/PlayStation/TV/arsing around on here to do, there's simply not enough hours in the day. If I'm not careful I shall develop yuppie flu, and then where will I be?

Did I mention the clocks went forward on Saturday night? I think I'm still catching up.
On a similar subject, here's something that strikes me about jetlag: consider how messed up and rotten you feel for losing seven hours on a journey from LA to London... well what about dogs? If a dog year is equivelant to about seven human years - take your mutt across the pond and the poor little thing must lose weeks to jetlag. Take Rover over the International Date Line and he'll wave goodbye to whole seasons.

Anyway, I digress. It's turning into a whole day of digression. I'm "sharpening pencils" as my Mum used to say... wasting time preparing rather than actually getting on with anything. Like at exam time, when you'd spend longer drawing up revision timetables than actually revising for anything. (If there was an A Level in creating box charts with additional use of highlighter pens, the Universities would be bursting. Oh, hang on, the Universities are bursting.)

I do have work to do... due in on Thursday. Two commissions. For the slower amongst you, I direct your attention to the date on the top of this post: Monday. Shall I get ahead of myself? Or shall I leave it all to a panicky Wednesday evening as per usual?

Now I'm not normally one for bigging up other people's blogs, but you have to respect any Portuguese grave digger (no, really) who writes this as his first entry:

I would never write words like "sex", "dildo", "naked courtney love", "drunken pope" or other of the kind, just to get more visitors to this web site.

Fair play to you, Eusebio (or whatever)!


Sunday, March 28, 2004

Ooh, something I should mention. The Mother Of The One... her verdict on me (apparently) is that I'm "sweet". Whatever happened to dangerous? Cold, commanding, cruel...? Arrogant yet irresistible? Haughty yet deeply alluring? Sexually charged? So wrong, yet so... oooh! Right! etc

The One asked me what dipsomaniac meant yesterday, too. Love it.
"Disneyland or Dipsomania, name your poison, pick a flavour..."

Well it was a beautiful wedding (of course it was). Marred only slightly by the most rambling, incoherent, honest-to-goodness drunken best man's speech I've ever heard.
Apart from that though... the glitterati and the literati were out in full effect, the hotel was posh as posh can be, the fireworks were New Year's Eve-like in their length and spectactularity (?), the dancing prolonged, random and generally hilarious. Just as it all should be.

As for the meeting of the Mother Of The One - that was good too. I made two very astute executive decisions the night before which saw me right...
1. Stick to vodka. You dance better, you're less hungover. Fact.
2. Get up early. It's a bitch and you'll hate it... but waking recovery time is more important in terms of hours than sleeping recovery time. (This is assuming you can get a mandatory six hours sleep. I got six and a half - how hard do I rock!)

Anyway, she's blatantly as mad as The One - bottle of wine with your lunch, madame? Oh, for starters! - and chided me for sticking to the single Guinness before 1pm. Gotta love that in the mother of the one you love.


Saturday, March 27, 2004

I'm beginning to get tired of being so hungover all the goddamn time.
Went out last night (as usual) - straight from work, just a few mind, people turn up throughout the evening, each buys a round... and suddenly it's last orders, everyone's righteously drunk and it's a kebab on the way home and another terrible head to deal with in the morning.
Which is not to say I didn't have a good time... but still.

Off to a wedding this afternoon - ahh! I love weddings! - and then tomorrow... tomorrow I meet The One's mother. For lunch. In a pub. No doubt hungover and suffering the additional effects of an hour's less sleep than expected thanks to the clocks going forward tonight.
It will be what they call "a stern test of character".


Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Overheard on the bus home...
(I'd been in town for the Chelsea v Arsenal match - imagine rammed pubs, mucho spilt Guinness and plenty of shouting. The bus passed Sadlers Wells, where two Pretentious Girls (PGs) got on and sat behind me. Most of the rest of the bus were Pissed Football Casualties (PFCs))

PG1: Oh but wasn't it amazing?
PG2: Truly. Stunning.
PG1: Fantastic. Fabulous.
PG2: Touching. Poignant. Yet... so funny.
PG 1: Oh yes! Hilarious! Side-splitting! Yet... intimate.
PFC (from the seat behind them): Hilarious you say love?
PG2: Sorry?
PFC: Go on then, tell me a joke.
PGs 1 & 2: ...
PFC: Well I dunno much about theatre but it don't sound very fucking funny to me...

Sometimes I'm proud to be English. Did you know there's no direct equivelant in the American dialect for the British phrase "taking the piss"? Says it all, I think.

The problem with deciding to do something after you've had a drink is... you have another drink instead.
So now it's gone midnight and I've spent the last few hours drinking wine and watching All New TV's Naughtiest Blunders 13. (And laughing: "look! he said a rude word!" etc.)
No, seriously, I was laughing.


Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Maybe it's time to go back to the novel. (That's spring for you.)
What with all the drinking and being in love I've been doing I've kind of neglected it: after all, happiness writes white, kids - it doesn't show up on the page. I was going to have a night off the booze tonight as well... perhaps I'll open a bottle of vino tinto and re-open the word file. What do you think? Yes? No? Ahh, what do you know anyway...

Outside, in the square, the trees are budding and when the sun shines it seems a little less watery, more confident of its ability to warm. The squirrels no longer look so shivery and the little patch of daffodils sway together in the wind like hippy girls with their arms in the air.
After stop-starting like a dodgy motor through the last few weeks it seems spring might finally be in the air. And if spring is coming, can summer be far behind?

Summer is when the freelance life comes into its own. Through the winter, when the wind and the rain and the grey London sleet dirties your window and drives you to the thermostat, working from home can be a drag. Days go by when your only social contact is with the bloke in the cigarette shop, and you scurry, hatted and scarved, from home to shop to home again. When there's no work to do in the winter you can spend whole weeks in front of the TV.
But summer... in the summer when there's no work on, you'll be lying in the park with a minidisc and a novel, or strolling into town in a t-shirt. You go to museums, gigs, cafes. In the summer when there's no work, you'll be sat outside pubs from lunchtime, drinking until the sun's well down and the office-workers have all long gone.

If love is an endless afternoon, freelancing in the summer is like being in love.


Sunday, March 21, 2004

On a more positive note, my new floor is layed and now I have the undisputed sexiest goddamn front room in the borough of Islington.

So let me tell you about when I lived in a bedsit...

It was 1995 or so - I'd just moved to London and had been sleeping on my sister's floor. She was in a little flat with her husband and although it was never a problem I still felt slightly like I had to move out - after all, I was a wage-earner now! I was a grown-up!

Of course, my wage was a paltry £8,500 a year and I could barely cook for myself. Oh - and I hated my job, I just didn't realise then that you don't actually have to do a job you don't like.

So anyway, I found this place not far from her, near the river between Putney and Wandsworth at £55 a week - it was a room with a lock and shared kitchen and bathroom. Except I never ever saw anyone else in the kitchen. And there was never any evidence of anyone ever having been in the kitchen (dust on a hob is a pretty surefire indication of unuse). Come to think of it, there was no evidence of anyone else using the bathroom either, but in my experience, sole occupation of a bathroom is a good thing.

So my time there was spent roughly like this:

7pm - get in; go upstairs to my little room, put the kettle on, sit on my bed and watch Emmerdale or somesuch on my 12" portable telly with a cup of tea.
7-30 - go downstairs, cook some pasta in the kitchen. Take it upstairs.
7-45 - eat pasta on bed, watching EastEnders or somesuch.
8pm - either... watch telly on my bed till midnight and then fall asleep despairing at how awful it all is...
or (if there was alcohol around) turn the telly down, put some mad shit on the stereo (either Wagner or Happy Mondays) VERY LOUD and drink myself stupid doing nothing until around midnight and then fall asleep depairing at how awful it all is.
12.00 - 7am - sleep
7am - get up. groan. stumble to the shivering bathroom and perform the most basic of ablutions.
7-15am - shuffle on a cheap suit and stare at the mirror for 10 minutes trying to work out why?
7-25am - leave for work.

I'll tell you what - I lasted about two months before I got myself sacked (can't sign on if you quit voluntarily) and moved back to my parent's.

never, ever live in a bedsit children. I have an amazing record collection and an inventive mind and I barely lasted two months.


Saturday, March 20, 2004

By the way, remind me to tell you the full story of my time in a bedsit. Honestly, it's worth sticking around for. Schadenfreude is a much underused comfort blanket.

I've just read a brilliant line:

Do you see these invisible spirals on the margins of the page? I thought I would run out of paper. It was the pens that ran out.


Friday, March 19, 2004

Feels like I'm living in a bedsit (again).
My front room is now fully prepped for tomorrow's festival of floor-laying... carpets up, furniture removed (or rather relocated), everything swept and ready for the very best in beech flooring that B&Q can offer. And as a result, my other room is full of crap and my telly crammed into my bedroom (the door won't shut now - ahh, we aim so high with our widescreens... and don't stop to consider all consequences!).
So here I am, Friday night (woohoo! party time!) with fish and chips in the oven and music on the stereo, preparing to sit on the edge of my bed, watch Inspector Morse and eat my sad dinner for one.
By rights it should be The Smiths I'm listening to, but that really would be too much. ("And if you have five minutes to spare, then I'll tell you the story of my life...")
Anyway, it'll all be worth it by the weekend's end. This is the straw I'm clutching at. It's a long ball game, baby, think of the long term gain. I ain't sprinting, I'm marathoning.
(Besides, I've got a bottle and a half of chardonnay, and I've had nights like this with nowt to drink before now. My self-pride comes surprisingly cheap. See above.)


Thursday, March 18, 2004

God I'm tired.
Tired and hungover - I called a sicky at work today and spent a significant part of the day on the sofa at home feeling sorry for myself. (The rest of the time was taken up with moving furniture out of the front room in preparation for saturday's DIY spectacular. Actually I've got loads more to do but frankly my dear, I can't be fucked.)
Anyway, last night went ok, thanks for asking. Only one stupid hat was worn for St Patricks, and it was only worn for about five minutes and actually I looked rather fetching in it. The One and The Siblings all got on very well despite the nerves but probably because of the booze and arguments were kept to a minimum. ish.
Actually, I think I may have had an argument with The One last night when we got back to hers... but I genuinely can't remember. The last thing I recall was falling asleep whilst trying to give her a long-promised back rub... and then suddenly it was this morning and I wanted to be sick.
Ah well, love is blind (drunk).

Me: Doctor, it's my toe. I think it's broken.
Doctor: Yes, I'm afraid there's nothing to do but rest it.
Me: But will I be able to tap dance?
Doctor: Oh sure, you'll be tap dancing by Easter.
Me: Excellent! Because I couldn't tap dance before...


Tuesday, March 16, 2004

There will be media silence from me tomorrow. Playing 'meet the girlfriend' with The One and three of my siblings. Plus their respective Ones. Everyone is very nervous about the implications of the impending encounter ("Oh my God, they'll be judging me!"; "Oh no, she'll be judging us!" etc) which means:

(a) I'll get drunk but not that drunk.
(b) The One will get very drunk and then perhaps a bit emotional on the train home. But I don't mind that, she's very sweet when she's emotional.
(c) Me and Female Sibling 1 will argue about something totally inconsequential.
(d) Ditto me and FS2.
(e) Male Sibling 2 will tell us all to shut up and everyone will get a bit huffy for about 10 minutes.
(f) Tomorrow we'll all agree it was an excellent night out and we should do it again very soon.

How do I know? Because (c) to (f) happens every time we all go out anyway. Throw the nervousness inherent in the whole Siblings Meet The One situation into the mix and it can only be exaggerated.

Either way, it'll be out of the public domain till at least Thursday. How ever will you cope?

All that stuff about watching telly and you know what I do all night?
I sort out my finances. Is that more or is that less depressing than spending the evening vegged in front of Hustle on BBC1 and trying to keep my poor little toe in the air? (It eases the throbbing, apparently.)

Tuesday, tuesday (one of the great lost mamas and papas' B-sides)...

Broke my little toe this morning. Excellent start to the day. In the fug of 8am and early morning shivers I twatted it on the bathroom doorframe whilst stumbling for the shower. The pain could be felt from here to Notting Hill. Reader, I didn't so much weep as swear. Loudly and at some length.
So the little toe is now the size of a medium toe, the rich hue of a coke can and throbs like a beating heart. And I'm walking like an old man. All good then.

On a brighter note, all the computers went down and the phone lines dead at 5.15 this afternoon so I left work early - hurrah! (The initial mutterings around the office was that Islamic Fundamentalists - or at a push Basque Separatists - were involved... until someone remembered the general ineptitude of the IT department. Lord knows that they couldn't crash the system so spectacularly if they tried. I mean, literally, if they tried.)

What's on telly tonight? Who knows! It's all an adventure, children! Me and my broken toe are going to kick back and ride the cathode rays...


Monday, March 15, 2004

oh - and concerning the below entry... please, no more self-harmers or jesus freaks.

so anyone know how to search for interesting blogs on blogger.com? It seems a bit random to just get lucky with the most recent posts thing they have on their homepage...

so here's a thing.

9-10 am, london. tube station. interior. man checks ticket through barriers and joins the jostle and push of the escalator down.
alarm goes off.
people involuntarily stiffen slightly, then resume their passage downwards, towards the tunnels.
"Could Mr Sands report to the control room. Could Mr Sands report to the control room. Could Mr Sands..."
the voice is electronic, pre-recorded, emergency-situation styleee.
man keeps walking.
guards come running - running - the other way.
"...report to the control room. Could Mr Sands..."
man keeps walking, upping his pace slightly. there's a train at the platform already.
get on the tube, get on the goddamn tube. who is Mr Sands?
man gets on the tube. there is a moment of pure stillness as everyone looks at him, at his coat, at his bag... and then back to their papers.
the doors close with their usual whoosh! of noisy silence, the train eases out of the station and into the dark.
nothing bad happens. fifteen minutes later he emerges blinking into oxford circus.
tomorrow he'll get the tube again. will he be scared again?

what do you do when there's nothing you can do? when you're not sure what to be scared of? where do you run to when you're not even sure if there's something to run from?
when something does happen here, god knows how anyone will ever manage to actually do anything again.

Monday, monday...
It was very much a "shower or shave" day today - time and hangover this morning not allowing for both. Me, I went for shave: so I may have smelled, but hey, I looked good.
Just finished another piece of work outside office hours... and now have, ooh, an hour or so before bed and getting up to go back to the office. I swear, it's ridiculous and I'll be glad to go back to the indolence of working from home. Did I say indolence? I meant... right-thinkingness.
Work-wise I'm still not drowning but waving - but it doesn't mean I'm not bloody wet in the process. Finding that balance between unabashed glee in the glory of mammon that all the commissions provide and outright gloom at all the work they involve is tricky at best. Trying to fit any kind of life (by which I mean a much fuller life than most office-bound people endure, but still, I'm greedy) around it all is a real bitch.
Oh well, I'm sure you don't care about that. So I work hard. Big deal! Enough mithering already!


Sunday, March 14, 2004

woohoo! set up a comments thing (I think)!
Now must eat dinner. Oh - and it was 4-1 to City in the end. Disgraceful.

Well I'm writing this whilst listening to the Manchester Derby and thinking about doing some work... and City have just gone 3-1 up. That'll be that then.
Sundays are normally my favourite day of the week - because normally I don't have to get up on Monday. Working from home rocks as far as hangovers are concerned. However, because I'm in an office next week, the day seems tarnished somewhat. Losing to City ain't helping any either.
So anyway, football allegiances aside, perhaps I better explain myself.

1. Why are you doing this?
Well, why not. Narcissism, probably. And because it's nice to share.
2. Who are you?
I'm young (ish), bright, good looking and in no way a nerd. (Except for the whole Lord of the Rings thing, but hey, I'm a boy.) Oh, and I'm a boy. I live in London, own my own flat, work for myself, have plenty of real-life flesh and blood friends and a girlfriend who I'm totally smitten with. My favourite word is "mellifluous", but I'm not sure of the spelling (it just sounds nice). My favourite records are by The Stone Roses and The Clash. I consider Jude the Obscure one of the greatest books ever written... but I also think Uncle Buck is a fantastic film. I fancy Kate Moss and Kate Winslet (work that one out). I drink too much, smoke too much, but like Marge Simpson once said - it doesn't matter how you feel on the inside, it's how you look on the outside that counts. Contradictions are everywhere, but that's the world for you. Life's a bag of revels, kids, and I'm looking for the orange one.
3. What does the title of this mean?
It's just that thing isn't it, when you leave a bar or a club: you always want another drink and so you always end up back at someone's house. Usually the person with the best record collection and a bottle of vodka in the fridge. That'll be me then.
4. Why should I keep reading?
Because you might just learn something. At the very least you'll learn the beauty of a well-constructed sentence. At most you'll live vicariously through me. But we all gotta get our jollies somewhere, and I'm not an especially judgemental bloke. Feel free to obsess. Live and let live.
5. Do you always talk such crap?
Yes. But you love it.

Ok, right now I'm just setting this up. More to follow, so no flipping...

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