Sunday, September 25, 2005

Swimming with sharks

"Do you want to swim with sharks?" says Guy, a Welshman who I went to University with. I hung out with him a bit back then, but don't know him too well. We're out in a big birthday drinking group in a noisy bar in North Clapham. I haven't seen Guy in about three years and this is his opening conversational gambit. He just walks up to me and asks the question, as if he was an extreme sports travel agent and could offer me the holiday of a lifetime.

"Er. Yes?" I say, encouragingly, trying to give the right answer.

"Why would you want to do that?" he says, looking at me like I'm insane.

"Er. I like to live life on the edge? Take risks and that?" I say.

"In what way do you live life on the edge?" he asks me accusingly.

"Er, sometimes I cross the road before the green man appears." Guy looks at me blankly. I give in. "No, I probably don't really live life on the edge. And I can't really think of any recent examples of risk-taking."

"Mmmm. So you'd want to be in a cage full of sharks - they're fucking dangerous, man." (He's completely serious.) "I'd never do that. I wouldn't swim with crocodiles either, they're fucking vicious bastards too."

"Yeah, you're probably right. Swimming with sharks is probably not that great."

"I don't understand people like you, going out to Australia and swimming with sharks and crocodiles. And snakes man, you lot love fucking snakes."

"Yeah. Sorry."

Monday, September 19, 2005

"A grinning Hugh Dennis lookalike"

We had our "goodbye house" party on Saturday and it brought together the usual array of interesting drunkards and reprobates. One of my particular favourites was my old friend Eric, or Ez, from school. Ez is a virtuoso pianist (currently working on the Rach 2) who is rarely seen wearing shoes, not because he's a socialist, but due to his love of roller-skating. He spent the entire night knocking back strong cups of coffee and sitting around like a sage, occasionally dispensing pearls of wisdom to people talking nearby.

Because he left in the morning before I was awake, Ez charmingly left a message on the stairs. "Gotta run. Thanx for party. Ez." The thing which sets Eric apart from the rest of mankind was the fact that he'd written it by carefully arranging small grey stones to spell out the message.

Other exciting people in attendance who are worth a mention were: a grinning Hugh Dennis lookalike; another schoolfriend I haven't seen in years, who is certainly the first of my friends to get themselves an agent (he's an actor); the man from the NME, who explained to me in great but genuinely fascinating detail how Madonna, Prince and Jackson are the holy trinity of '80s pop; the girl who saw my Viva La Raza (Viva the people) t-shirt and asked which people it was I wanted to live, as if I was some kind of pro-genocide butcher; and finally one young man, who, instead of bringing a bottle, brought us flowers – an apparently touching gesture, later undermined by the discovery that he'd stolen them from a funeral. Respect also to the thirsty fool (currently pursuing a career in the law) who awoke and began demolishing the leftover Sambuca, before moving onto the white wine.

The party took place between the hours of 7pm and 5am, although I have to admit me and Sarah skipped out around 4 to go to a house party we'd heard about up the street. The door was answered by a guy in a big fake afro (where do these things come from? Whenever there's drinking, there's always someone wearing a big fake afro).

He looked at us, waiting for an explanation. We remained silent, me knowing that the excuse "I'm here because my mate's mate is mates with the guy who lives here" would not do. Sarah also remained silent, perhaps knowing that "I'm here because my boyfriend's mate's mate is mates with the guy who lives here" would be even worse. Then he stepped aside and let us in. We didn't stay long; despite the DJ, the well-thought out lighting, the preparation, the people in there didn't look like they were having much fun. So we returned to House Party #1, and all was well.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Original pirate material

Many people have been asking me about the progress of the boy Paul, who finally embarked on his Russian odyssey last week. Had an MSN chat with him this morning, and here's the verdict in full:

Big Fat Melting Pot says: So, how's Rusher?
Hit It and Quit It says: Let me put it this way: the other day, I bought the entire 1960s-70s Stones back catalogue on pirated MP3 CDs from a kiosk on the street at 3am for about 2 quid.

So there we go.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Country Grad Ballad Man

Tuesday was graduation day for me, despite the fact that I finished my Goldsmiths MA over a year ago. But all went without a hitch: digital cameras were wielded, the chancellor was charmingly Dumbledore-like (despite baldness and lack of beard) and gowns were returned largely unripped.

After the ceremony, it was all out to the field out the back to tussle over canapés, meet parents and help selves to glasses of free wine. Me and Darren went over to say hello to ex-Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, a previous alumni of the College who was there getting an honourary degree. Bizarrely, the three of us then chatted as if we all knew each other quite well. No small talk needed when you know exactly what it is they do for a living and how they beat their alcohol problem.

Coxo was very nice. I asked what kind of privileges you get with an honourary degree. "They gave me a folder of stuff I'm supposed to read," he said vaguely. Left is a picture of him desperately trying to get the annoying woman to leave him alone, so he can continue his glorious conversation with us.

Well, then the booze ran out and the place emptied out pretty quickly. Death of a Party all right. So we went to a pub up the road in New Cross. Then we went to a pub in Greenwich. Then to a restaurant. Then to a rather hideous bar off Leicester Square that played disgracefully cheesy music and charged far too much for a beer. It was amazing.