Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Paul Simon: a bad influence

I should be in bed. I should be able to go into work this morning fresh and refreshed from my Easter break. Instead, I’m in a Farringdon pub with two drunken Canadians, Paul and Simon. I like the way those names complement each other (Paul Simon), but I only came here for a few brief pints.

Paul and Simon have been drinking since three. They meant to come to the pub for one pint before heading onto an art exhibition which featured exploding road signs or something. But the lure of alcohol has proved too tempting.

I arrive at 7pm. What have they been doing for the last four hours?
"We were talking to these girls. But they were all 17."
"And they left three hours ago."

Over the course of the evening, I hear some extraordinary anecdotes: Moscow-dwelling Paul describes how every month, he gets taken into a small room and paid in carrier bags of cash; paparazzo Simon excitedly tells me how he was recently sent out to snap a grieving family and "got a point blank close-up of the mother weeping."

Soon conversation descends into talk of Russian prostitutes; this continues for around an hour.

And suddenly we’re sitting outside the pub. Simon is shouting – in a terrible English accent – "Millwaaaaallll" and swinging a chair around his head. Paul is demonstrating his unnervingly convincing Anglo-voice, embarking on a circular monologue which begins something like, "I disembarked the tube at Beckenham Junction, as I was supposed to meet my Press Club pals in the centre of town..." and goes on and on in similar fashion. Meanwhile, Simon keeps interrupting, with his Millwall chant and chair swinging.

Shortly after, we're at the train station. Me and Paul have left Simon in the Costcutter – he needs crisps. As we walk down the stairs towards the platform, he reappears, excitedly clutching a bag of cheese Doritos. He suddenly whips a copy of the National Enquirer out of his inside pocket like he’s a master magician. On the train, I ask him why he loves the Enquirer (sample headline: 'CRACK TURNED WHITNEY INTO A SEX-CRAZED MONSTER' Says Sister-In-Law) so much. "Because it’s got all the top stories – before they happen," he slurs.

I leave the two crazies, and as I stagger off the train at Elephant and Castle, I wonder how my Easter break ended like this.

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