Wednesday, August 02, 2006

2006-04-15 121[This post may not be suitable for all audiences, as it contains themes of an adult nature, strong language and mild peril. Ok, maybe not the mild peril, though that would be a great name for a band, but then I know someone who thought starting a band's name with 'Meanwhile' was a good idea. Anyway, if you are easily huffed look away now, as I wrote half of it while drunk on sleep deprivation].

If timeliness is next to Godliness, then I'm about as Godly as I am, er, religious. Yeah, ok, I didn't think that one out, the first words are always the hardest.

So que passe?

My birthday was about par for the course. Not exactly thrilling, but at least I didn't get detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act this year.

And why is below-par in golf good, but in life sub-par bad? According to the first Google result it's because life came first.

So what did I do? Normal stuff, followed by listening to music (which I've covered in a previous post, even if I've yet to post that post), and then wandering up through Hyde Park to inspect the Serpentine Pavilion.

I was thinking hazy late sun, ideal for enhancing the translucent structure. I wasn't thinking weekday evening in summer equals corporate hospitality, so I only saw it from the outside, with a cloud blocking the sun. It's hut made from Corriflute (think back to primary school CDT) and a balloon, and the walls show exactly where the cartons of orange juice are stacked. I think I need to go back on a different day, as I just wasn't impressed.

So then up, across the Serpentine, feeling distinctly unfashionable being one of three people there without a headscarf (and I thought the point of top to toe coverings for women were to stop them encouraging sinful thoughts in men? Because some of them seem to have a way to conceal the body which only accentuates it. Not that this is bad, it's simply the pretence of complying while subverting seems silly. But the whole women sin automatically if men do seems equally silly; it's too much "the sins of the father" [one hopes not literally]). Then onwards through Mayfair and Soho before wilting onto the Northern Line.

The other non-sameness event (other than discovering my assumed meeting up with a friend from uni rather relied on him flying out of the country on the 30th, not the 20th, as he did) was a friend's, birthday party on Saturday. Meet at GA's at 12, go to Common, have picnic, get drunk, repeat as desired. She rang me at half past ten to ask if I could come via Argos and pick up some suitable toys. I say I'll have to check how much cash I've got, but yep, sure, oh and I'm going to be late as I haven't left yet (she lives in Zone 3 on the other side of London; the quickest I've ever done it is by nightbus).

So I finish making her present (I'm out-stubborning her, and it'll take too long to explain, but there was a Weetabix box involved), wrap it in recycled paper (well, it was CD size, and it was the paper Muse came in). Pack, leave, intending to buy stuff half way down.

Emerge in London proper, find nearest cashpoint, discover one's out of order, and the other won't let anyone put their card in the slot. Panic. Remember there's one by Foyles, so hurry, heavily laden towards that. Card in, PIN in, cash with onscreen balance, huh?

Unable to fulfil my request. I try getting £10 out instead of £20. The same. Er, I know I'm sailing close to the edge in terms of remaining money in that account, but I'm not into the overdraft yet (and it is pre-arranged). Have small degree of paranoia, before wondering if the machine has only got fifties, hence not shutting down, but not paying out either. Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to check. So in panic I head off to buy what I can with the remaining money, only to realise that spending my last £2.47 on more food for the party would be silly, as I've already got a couple of tonnes of potatoes and sausages (GA said bring sausages, and the potatoes were intended to be potato salad until I realised I had no time to make it and GA might not think of plates or cutlery. And anyway, I don't need to mention that the sausages were Morrissons' fat-free things reduced).

By this time, not only am I searching for working cash machines (which won't charge me), but for working loo (which won't charge me). It's amazing what isn't on Oxford Street. Ok, so I could have gone to John Lewis's, but I was by Dickens and Jones (closed for refurbishment) and didn't have the time, or the patience, to hurry up Oxford Street on a Saturday bearing food, drink, clothes and sleeping bag.

So instead tube to Vauxhall, then bus, not taking the front seat for once, having learnt that buses are greenhouses, and heading southwest on a summer afternoon is not fun, by which time I realised I should have taken the train as I'm already late (bus is free under my travelcard, train charges completely random fares, but bus is slower). I text GA on the way to say I'm running very late (ok, so it's an hour after I should have been there) and I have no hope of getting various sports equipment from Argos.

Relax, thinking just how tired I am, while watching the world go by, and occasionally watching certain individuals go by a bit too closely (look, it's Clapham Junction, so there's nothing else to do while the crowds and lights conspire to stop traffic for at least ten minutes, and there are some very good looking people round there).

Then off at the other end, cheating for once and taking the bus up the hill (well, now I've figured out that it costs me no more). Walk to flat, read sign with map on door, ring doorbell anyway, realise no-one's still in and that there's nowhere to secrete the key [I know where it is for GA's old home], ring GA, who doesn't answer, walk to nearby field, to the X marked on the map, passing groups picnicking along the way, and checking clothes and body shapes for anything familiar. Get to pond in the middle, ring one of the numbers scribbled on the door.

"Hi, it's [name], [name surname]."
"[something unintelligible, but he is Northern]."
"Yeah, hi, where are you?"
"Under the tree."
The field is ringed in trees.
"Er... which tree?"
"The one by the road."
The field is ringed by roads as well.
"Which road? Look, I'm by the pond, I can see a grey war memorial ahead."
"Yeah, we thought it was you. We can see you"
"Where are you?"
"Opposite the memorial."
"But there's no...oh, ok" said he realising that the group I'd briefly considered as options, but then discarded as the green doesn't look like a GA colour, nor is that really her shape, the other female has grey hair, and neither of the guys look very familiar, but it could be the one I don't recognise is someone I vaguely know, but it can't be because where's GA, where's [I'm going to have to look up blognames; the other part of the Tweeton troika]... oh, yep, that's them, because guy number one is GA's flatmate, but I can't work out who the rest are.
"I think I can see you, you've got a big red bag by you?"
"Er... we might do"
"Ok, bye", I said, aware I was using Orange Pay Through The Nose, which if the bank has blocked my account, I can't top-up.

I walk closer. Flatmate becomes obvious. Grey haired woman turns into flatmate's girlfriend (I thought they'd split up) with blonde highlights in mousy hair. Green t-shirt vest thing is a colleague of GA's who I've met before (I can never remember her name), and the second guy turns out to be a friend of GA's from uni, who I've never met, but I've slept in his bed (he doesn't know). So blognames: the flatmate shall henceforth be known as Herbie (for reasons which will become apparent), his girlfriend shall be MC (Monte Carlo, of course, and yes, I am stumped for inspiration), green t-shirt woman shall be Spid (based on what I sometimes think her name is, when it isn't, although she could equally be called Saturn V), and the shared bed guy shall be WSM (there's a Somerset connection).

So chat for a bit, wondering where anyone I know is, when the others get back from the loo, so I try to work out how I missed them, then discover they went to a pub, not the flat.

Spellchek turns up (so called because at New Year's he was handing out promotional stuff from his business, with spelling mistakes on it) and berates me for not recognising him and walking past him earlier (I think he must have been on his way to the flat as I left it). He's a bit of a odd person and reminds me of a friend at the friend's worst.

So sit, eat, chat, do presents. I get handed a heavy box, which looks about the right size to hold a bottle. From the weight, it's definitely a bottle. But in a box. So what is it then, expensive wine, scotch, what? Open the wrapping, and it's a black white cardboard box with a handwritten scrawl on top.

"Does that say 'cheap'?", I ask GA as she looks embarrassed and smiles sheepishly. I see.

I start to open it when I notice the small sticker on the side.

"Does that say 'candles'?" I ask once more, as she looks exactly the same. I'm not sure I do see.

Opening it (is the Narnia branded Christmas wrapping paper I see before me? And it's upside for the present), it's a bottle of champagne, with a vintage label that's too perfect. It's a candle made to look like a bottle of alcohol. I suppress [I still can't remember the blogname, and I give up trying to find it as Blogger won't search for "GA", although I have discovered I never blogged Dan, anyway, her]'s finely honed "Oh, you shouldn't have" which leaves no doubt that it should be taken literally. In the end I think I settled for "Er, thank you, oh, so 'cheap' is 'champ'. It's only 12%. Anyway, open yours."

And I did say if she couldn't think what to get me then a decent book would do. Decent book, or bottle which doesn't even have any alcohol in it, which would you prefer?

So then it was her present, with me apologising for the recycled wrapping, and then not for what was inside. I'd mocked up something CD shaped with an outer sleeve proclaiming it to be The [My Name]'s latest album, I'm withholding all presents [until you answer the bloody question]. It was so titled because I'd earlier asked what she wanted, she'd replied with 3 options (one so dull as to be insulting [which her parents gave her, although she didn't tell me, so she could have ended up with two]), the other alcoholic and the third a book on something specific. So I was going for the book, but wanted to check specifics with her before buying (it was quite expensive for what it was). I tried to check and she said she was withholding all answers until I said what I wanted, when I'd already said...

As for me, I've no idea. Either something I can [No Name Third Person's name used as a verb meaning to dispose of rapidly, possibly by exchange] easily or a decent book on something I probably ought to know. But as I said, I've no idea.
Which as I was getting her a decent book on something we both probably ought to know... I mean it's not that hard. I know I diluted it with no-ideas but that's just the result of being brought up under the rule that "I want doesn't get" (which I very nearly said to some unknown brattish child in a shop. I must be getting old if I think the presence of other people in a shop allows me to talk to them).

Anyway, I did give her two non-presents as described in the track listings on the back to tide her over until we sort out this witholding (which I guess is a problem with having birthdays so close together).

It didn't help the card was her Christmas card which never got to her, something GA didn't notice until she read the note inside, written in December, and was puzzled about why I'd be wearing gloves that I had to take off to put the hood on my brother's car up. She didn't notice the different coloured ink correcting and amending, nor that fact the card said "Winter" on the front, complete with a woman wearing furs walking through the snow.

So then food and drink, and realising the party was overcatered before I arrived with my 15 sausages (I had to test) and 5 lbs of potatoes, and that I'm not really hungry. But oooh, Pimms; finally we have a proper use for Thermos flasks. It looks fine until one tries to get the fruit out (and there was a lot of fruit, not that I mind picking at alcoholic chunks of nectarine).

Over the course of the meal, or scavenging, we had a couple more turn up, 3rd and Liquor - because it's what he does to bottles of alcohol in subtle, yet suggestive, way. And given the tight pink t-shirt, the shorts held up solely by penile friction despite a belt wide enough to be a skirt, the tight black underwear low enough to illustrate that his joytrail ends in spaghetti junction and hair which had least half an hour to get it looking nonchalant, I'm guessing (ok, so I know damn well) that he might be gay, hence the suggestiveness of the bottles as he tends to be looking at me as he runs his tongue round the rim. I think he's watched one too many Madonna videos - which reminds me, I recently saw a headline in the Evening Standard screaming "Pope's wrath over Madonna". Which given I'm fairly sure they used that headline when I was eight leads me to wonder how much else they recycle.

One advantage to 3rd is that she's remarkably materialistic, with a hint of social aspirant, and thus brings good wine from this darling little shop she knows, all while feigning ignorance of the qualities of the wine (thereby suggesting she gets round this lack of knowledge by being able to pay someone else to do it for her). Oh, I appear to have finished my fruit salad with Pimms. Rosé? It'll do, I suppose. Bit more than that dear.

At some point the fun and games begin, starting with an egg and spoon race, using tennis balls, although we did have scotch eggs (homemade one's from GA's parents' pub, which where somewhere in the realm of ostrich. They were very nice; we just had to cut them in half to eat). Team picking commenced and it's significant that I was picked fifth out of ten (by people who don't know me).

So we lined up either end of the course, and then realised one team had assumed we were starting from end and the other from the other end. A small correction later and we're off. Egg and spoon races aren't the most thrilling things, being mostly composed of telling the other team to stop cheating. I received the baton, and started towards the other end. I got a third of the way before losing it. Grab ball, run back, start again. Get halfway there before dropping it (I've never been very good, and only used to win sack races because I was only child to put my feet in the corners), run back, start again, this time using the force of acceleration to lift my arm up until the tennis ball is pressing into my chest. What? I'm not using my thumb. Anyway, there's a reason it's "third time lucky" and I'm just conforming to that reason. If you're bad and then you cheat it's like doing the penalty first.

But because I'd taken so long, Liquor, my receiver was watching the other team, not me, so I very nearly did cut his heart out with a spoon.

And somehow despite rampant cheating on the other team, and gross ineptitude on mine, we won.

Then before any more games began I availed myself of the facilities at a nearby pub (who very handily have the loos in an extension one passes before entering the bar) and came back to find everyone playing top trumps using receipts as cards. Grabbing the remaining two in the middle, I tried to join in, but it was limited to only those with the challenged feature on their uppermost receipt, which as I got two of 3rd's meant I couldn't play, as hers were all card payments at restaurants. So after endless rounds of "cheapest item" and "most change" eventually gave way to "most interesting items", the latter of which became a head to head, with the rest of use judging. So it was things like "Green and Black's versus tomato puree" and "orange juice versus Smirnoff", at which point Herbie said "I know what's coming next, she's going to win, you can't beat it" to the odd guy who started the challenge. Odd guy read out "500g dry pasta", which was answered with a snort and "Durex Featherlight". The game sort of lost any point after that as whoever had that receipt would inevitably win and I concluded that Herbie and MC were probably back together.

Oh, and during top trumps there was also supposed to be obligatory drinking, but as I think the rules stipulated the winner drank, it wasn't really a good drinking game. So next came abandonment and a mini game of rounders using a champagne bottle as bat. As there were only two people playing until I joined as wicketkeeper (or whatever it's called) and there were no bases, it was a slightly nonsensical game. Which we abandoned after the bowler and batsman swapped [MC and Odd], and the new batsman refused to run (on the grounds that he didn't know where), and then managed to hit the ball and fling the bat down the ground, as one is taught in school (when not feeding the horses over the fence, or holding the do-not-feed-the-horses electric fence), although in school there aren't normally people picnicking beside the batsman, and the bat isn't normally a heavy glass bottle. So while the batsman ran until he found somewhere to run to, the bowler and I returned to the blanket with the crater in the middle.

Then came a bit of moaning that we had no Frisbee (and no viable alternatives), followed by "I have never". Oh yeah, we're grown ups. And it's quite surprising it worked as usually there's a gross imbalance in experience, so one person has done everything and everyone else has done very little (and those who have done nothing can never think of any questions). Admittedly this time one of my I-have-never's was aimed solely at GA (as they normally are when I play with her).

But it's quite fun watching who drinks to what (even if 3rd orchestrated half the questions, and the other half where all the infighting of GA's uni friends). Memorable responses:

- Something like two thirds of the people there drank to "I have never kissed a member of the same sex with tongues", including GA (really? I later quizzed her, and she looked sheepish and muttered something about experiments [on the NYE I wasn't invited to], as probably did I. Yes, a sip of mostly orange juice can precipitate that talk), but not including 3rd, who is the one who hams up her Sapphic tendencies.

- There was dissension in the gay ranks over why anyone would let their lips near someone else's anus (it was quite funny to watch, especially as the quiet, discrete WSM explained felching to the overtly sexual Liquor, who blanched at the idea, as probably did most others carefully adjusting how they were sitting. As I recently overhead someone else say, Liquor appears to be "All cock, no cum"*, although it's hard to imagine the idea appealing to anyone).

* Which might be what you're after.

- Just about anything sexual near the timid, demur and about to marry girl I've yet to blogname. She also was about the sole abstainer from the grooming question (the merits of which 3rd explained for both sexes, authoritatively stating that for males it makes their penises look bigger, which nearly prompted a few "I know"s).

- It would also appear that all a certain couple do is buy condoms and use them as per the instructions.

- 3rd managed to kill the conversation by mentioning frottaging (ooh, just think of the extra search hits), which while it isn't cottaging in winter - and is it using fingers? No, that's frigging, which caused a riot at middle school as only one teacher knew it wasn't simply a substitution for fucking, unlike all the children using it and their parents who had to have the difference explained to them, which made for some fun PTA meetings (and there should probably be a "word" after substitution to clarify) - also took some explaining, thus breaking the tumbleweed rule of sexual behaviour, which is that like jokes if it has to be explained then it's not worth bothering with. It is, for those unaware, the original zipless fuck, so clothed people rubbing against one until orgasm (or one starts smouldering).

- And she managed to kill it further by asking about something to do with bacon on string which just confused me (cooked? does it have to be bacon? Can you just eat the bacon instead?), but reminded me of someone's suicide/death by misadventure at college. I'm sure there was a name for it, but as it's one of those things which is going to be very limited in use I'm guessing I can survive without knowing.

- Even the recovery bid of sex in public places demonstrated how unadventurous we were. No charges of gross indecency for most of us (thought that's probably from a lack of opportunity and imagination).

- Sex in parents' beds is universally frowned upon, although the couple had. I didn't enquire about sex in other people's parents' beds (which is even more frowned upon, especially if they're back in the morning and it's only discovered too late to wash and dry the bedding).

- Masturbating using a friend proved controversial, if widespread (when is a friend more than that?), and then amusing when it mutated into using someone in the group (WSM fancied Liquor for years apparently, to which Liquor retaliated that he'd like to fuck two people here, which leant an interesting air to the evening [Liquor is a gay male, so that's half the group gone. Number 1 must be the very good-looking WSM. So number 2... there's Herbie, but I can't see it. Or there's Odd who seems even more unlikely. So who then? It must be one of the girls... oh, hang on, er, there's me, but people don't generally want to have sex with me. Hmm, I wish I hadn't got to this conclusion, but my ego won't let me be beaten by either of the other contenders. I suppose it's a compliment, but a dashed queer one at that]).

Moving on and with cloud darkening overhead, we packed up and set off to the flat with the first queries of "was that rain?"

Back at the flat, people sprawled, wine was opened or cooled and opened, and then GA opened the Cava, despite protestation from me that she'd just opened a bottle each of red and white, but GA when somewhat inebriated is not to be trifled with, so instead of arguing on I should have admitted defeat, fetched reinforcements or helped her open it in a way which wouldn't get a third of the bottle on the kitchen floor. She was also a little too drunk to realise that the reason she couldn't pick up a chocolate was because her finger had passed through the fatally softened form.

So after putting them in the fridge, then back in the fridge when little miss toddler/Alzheimer's got them out again, I went out to the main group and sat chatting, listening to friends act like friends do (jokes, unrelenting savagery, trying to involve the one who never used to be so boring; there were assorted barbed comments about old married couples, and how marriage ages people. But the engaged girl was the one who originally booked the event that weekend; back in April, as it was the only free she had this year).

We also got treated to 3rd and Odd getting along like a house on fire, complete with flare ups, crackling, hissing consumed in a contradictory, spiteful roar. Which only lead to sotto-voces about Beatrice and Benedict. It wasn't helped when Odd said what he thought 3rd was going to say and then countered it, prompting a row as he wouldn't let her finish a sentence; cue comments about them finishing each other's sentences. It's amazing, everytime they meet, there are fireworks. Admittedly there's usually vodka involved (3rd was serving herself, and making vodka and orange like tea, with the orange the milk).

Comically she progressed to trying to flirt with WSM. Stage one, sit on arm of his end of the settee. Stage two, laugh profusely at his every utterance, to such an extent that one has to put an arm to steady oneself. Stage 3 is working that arm so it goes from the back of the sofa behind him to his shoulder. Stage 4 requires the mutation of 2 and 3 into brushing the side and back of his neck, thumb cupping the ear, as the hand goes down. Stage 5 involves swinging one's legs into the gap on the seat recently vacated by him as he slides away. Stage 6 sees the feet worked forward. Stage 7 allows the lower foot to delve beneath him, while the upper foot gently happens to caress his thigh with the toes. Stage 8 pushes the foot further forward, so her instep follows the curve of his thigh, with the ball of the foot working the inner thigh. Stage 9 sees the gay man abruptly walk to the toilet, the rather drunk flirt slump off the arm, tangle her legs in considering following him, and realising that wasn't an invitation, sulkily reach for her drink, before coming over to me, scattering observers (we might have had a slight running commentary going), biting my arm until I join her on the beanbag, where she cuddles my arm, reverting to near foetal position and baby talk (given she's about as tall as I am and about as gangly...). And because I'm still in shorts, she comments that I've got very hairy legs (they're not that hairy), but they are strokeable (er, thanks), and that I've always had nice legs (er... [hairs on legs stand on end]). Oh dear, stroking the parentally approved man of last resort, that's not good. Yep, you'll be needing worship to St Armitage of the Shanks soon.

Oh, and I forgot to mention various people came and went (like Liquor, off to the birthday party of a school friend I've had dinner with - in uni halls, and only because he was sitting alone and I was on my own. It was not an experience I repeated).

Then people decided to head out again, so I went to change to less strokable legs, and nearly got left behind. How should one react when walking three abreast, enjoying merry debate, the guy in the middle, WSM, complains of being surrounded by smartarses, and then drops back to inspect the two flanking smartarses? I didn't ask if mine was smart, and carried blithely on, pretending that didn't just happen. In fairness he had earlier spawned a long running conversation about his arse, after commenting it was fat, which led to an amusing round of Crocodile Dundee-ing (which I didn't join due to rampant insecurity about that region). We carried on walking, back to the green by one of the pubs whose loos we were using earlier, and a few people pop in to buys drinks while the rest of us try to work out how to sit without getting our shoes on the blanket while still facing each other, or just give up and descend into the dust, which we pretend doesn't have more cigarette butts than blades of grass. At which point I discover the name isn't The Cricket [Name], but The Crooked [Name], which is of no importance whatsoever, except as an example of my enduring foolishness. Although it is apparently quite a fresh-faced foolishness.

It's quite strange that sitting in a group of people all with recent birthdays, all fearing the dreaded lurgy of the past-tense, and yet each of us discussing the apparent age of others, and all coming to the conclusion that those around us don't look as old as they are (well, for the most part). So that either means that somehow we all live by the [grossly misquoted] mantra of "age shall not weary us, nor the years condemn" or perhaps that we have skewed visions of what people of a certain age should look like. And I know other people our age who do look it, but then it's so hard to remember just how old I actually am, which probably comes of wanting to edit out wasted chunks of life and so mentally discounting the gap as I splice. If it wasn't a full year in terms of life, it can't be a full year in terms of age.

This corporal, mental and physical disparity does have the gratifying advantage of being able to meet people a great deal younger while being everso grateful that one has to rapidly struggle to suppress surprise with a weak "Really? But you... seem so mature". Not that I'm at all competitive.

Getting ID'd is still an irritant, rather than a compliment, but I think it's mostly confidence, not age; be blazé and there's no problem, be distracted and it's fumbling for my driving licence (and what I'd have done over the years if I didn't have a photographic licence, I'm not sure).

[Ooh mothers are so wonderful (ignoring the Michael Palin vicar overtones of that line); she just rang me to tell me that I can see fireworks on a webcam in [which Googlesafe blogname to use? The Hardyfied version is traditional at too well known to be safe. Anyway, Seaknoll or something like that]. Ok, so normally we'd be there, or on a hill overlooking the bay (which helpfully doubles [or more] the sound and light), but still, watching fleeting specs of colour if they happen to appear at the same time as the camera captures... well, it's not the best way of watching them].

So after sitting round chatting for a while, and slowly succumbing to the shivering as I came without anything long sleeved, and naively thought that linen trousers and a regression polo shirt would be enough for a sweltering late July evening (ok, in hindsight, given more recent weather, it was warm, just not quite warm enough) a group of us head back. So GA is retiring with "a bit of headache", 3rd is disappearing, probably to go another party, and Odd just comes with us, although I think he was heading off too.

So heading down some alley by an expensive school, GA's headache manifests itself by somewhat unusual means (well, her head was involved, but only transit). I wait round, ignoring her clogging drains, and we move off again, parting ways with the departers on the main road. The back to her flat, where earnest conversation (I have never is such a pesky game) is broken by bathroom breaks. Being a good friend, I leave her to get on with it. Just as I'm ready to resume talking, and she's ready to curl up with a washing bowl, we're interrupted by a phone call from 3rd. She's incensed; Odd asked her out. GA handles the placation, while I wait for her to hang up before laughing. He's a nice guy, sort of, just a bit... misguided. He was talking to me earlier, asking very earnest, intense questions, but really didn't want to know any of the answers; he seemed to be asking questions to make conversation, without realising he could just stick to the weather or that he was interrogating people. As I said, odd.

So then I realise my tactical error. It's Saturday night and I've marooned myself in warmth, alone with someone about to lose consciousness. I debate leaving, but then GA's phone rings. GA is locked in the bathroom. I hunt it down, but it stops ringing. It then starts again. I ask GA who the name on the display is (it's the misspelt name of a herb). She answers but is too drunk to be coherent over the ringing of the phone. Eventually it stops, which is when I hear "It's [Herbie]. Are you going to answer it then?"

Guess who's never been comfortable answering other people's phones (or mine come to that). But the landline then starts ringing. I answer; apparently he's just checking someone will be up when a group get back to the flat to collect stuff before leaving. I hang round, they arrive, chat a bit, leave (and I haven't named them as I can never remember her name, and I'd only just met her very young boyfriend [wow, a real live Emo; can we play with it, please? Please? It's so sweet, and look at those big eyes beneath that fringe. Where did you find it? Do you think I can get one? Are they easy to keep? How long do they live?]).

And I don't leave; it would be nearly two hours to get home, and wouldn't be fun at that time of night. Instead I check on GA, who is looking distinctly sprawled, and then browse the shelves for something to read... Intermediate Mandarin, umpteen books on computing, a few galaxies of sci-fi and fantasy, and something on the supposed theory of everything. Chaos it is then.

So I read until the others get back, stand round chatting while the party tries to resurrect itself, and then discover it's ebbed away again by one o'clock. And so to bed, as Herbie and MC help us prep the sofabed before retiring. WSM has decided to cede the bed to me and sleep on a line of cushions on the floor (in hindsight, he got the better deal) despite protestations from me. And then after turning the lights out realise it's ten past one in the morning, which is depressing early for a party to end. So we chat in the dark about our lives and where they meet, so largely about the characters of those around us (apparently I'm good with pithy descriptions, which is odd as I was trying not to badmouth people too much).

At one stage I talk him to sleep, but after years of training with my sleep-talking brother, I carry on regardless. He wakes up apologetic and then does it again. Just as I'm ready to let him yield to inner desires he perks up and the conversation slips into the more personal and problematic. He's quite a good listener (perhaps because he was half asleep) and yet quite instructive as well.

Eventually he decides to upgrade to the bed (it doesn't seem fair to leave someone sleeping at my feet), but as the conversation weakens and 3 becomes 4 and we discover we're incapable of sleeping while sharing a creaky and restless sofabed (the guy's a contortionist), so he stealthily creeps back down, expertly avoiding the slightest twang lest he wake any of the others. At which stage I head to loo, only to realise just how loud a flush can be and then promptly slam the picnic hamper dumped in the hall shut as I fall over it in the dark.

And so to fitful sleep waking at about half past eight. Yep, I'm me, and when I'm most in need of sleep I wake early. Eventually I get round to drawing the curtains properly which are cruelly screaming last night's cavalier attitude, before getting both water and orange juice and retiring to bed, where I lie wondering how long it'll be before I can get up, occasionally glancing over to see if WSM's awake yet. Eventually by the time he wakes and mistakes my orange juice for considerate generosity, I want to got back to sleep, a feeling which hits all the harder when he decides to start clearing up the flat, and one I must ignore because earning brownie points is good.

So we shower as rummaging for clean pants wrecks all pretence of dignity and modesty, and pack things away, at which point GA emerges with an "oh wow guys". Then hang round for bit, before deciding to go for brunch somewhere, at which point I comment on the amount of food in the fridge (which had absolutely nothing to do with my severe lack of cash), and soa second picnic is planned, although this time there's only 3 of us as Herbie and MC have no intention of emerging just yet.

So then back to the same place as Saturday, sitting in the shade, debriefing and PMing yesterday, all the while carefully differentiating between that to be discussed and that not to be mentioned again. It's slightly awkward as we're all a little fatigued, a little lacklustre, which is literally true in the case of WSM who seems to mislaid his moisturer since yesterday; I've only just realised looking "healthy" can come in a jar. Admittedly I've yet to be convinced (it just makes me feel grimer at the end of the day, my skin more irritated by London. And it makes spots watery, thus far less discretely squeezable. I don't like spots, but if I had to pick a favourite type it would be those which comes out as pellets leaving little mark or swelling. There's something gratifying about getting it all in one go), but perhaps catching myself sidelight again will do it; there are definite grooves away from my eyes, my dimples leave a crease, and most shockingly of all the crow squatting on my face must have a very long toe, as one line scythes down to the jaw. So much for "chubby cheeks" (my brother used to call me that, usually while squeezing them inwards; he did it recently when drunk and complained they were still the same). Perhaps those insisting I look young simply didn't look close enough. Anyway, there's only one thing for it; I'll have to stop smiling and anyone who causes me to grin will have to be shot.

[Winamp on random; has Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps always has a triffid at the beginning?]

After the picnic came walking through a hotel (er, there's a big path beside it, but GA isn't one for following other people), called something which isn't Casanova or Caravaggio but something like that, into a park in search of a festival, from which we'd heard music earlier. We found it. Eight quid each. Maybe not then if we're just here to browse. So then a slow wander, made mentally slower by the accoutrements of the picnic, discovering various dead-ends, each with suitable ornament, and then back to the flat, a bit of nothingness and then I made to head off and WSM joined me.

I will never understand the top-up charged if I get the train back from GA's, as it seems to be different each time. So after escorting him to Victoria (having lost him at the first station due to following the wrong guy in light shirt with bag slung over the shoulder; it was only realising the bag was wrong which made me realise), artfully correcting his completely spurious route, and had a visibly sweating him complain that he thought it was supposed to have cooled down this weekend (my unpopular answer: it has), then lingering near the bus station failing to have a conversation till he left (and my A-Z has Victoria Coach Station the wrong place) that was about it.

Utterly unrelatedly I've been getting coherent spam; the titles read as follows:
- DiscountedInsurer
- ScrewMe Please

I'll be using them then.

And it's the same in both Hotmail accounts (neither of which detect it as spam). But moments later it's been ruined by the appearance in-between of something like HoodieHug (guess who's been listening to The Now Show and doesn't know what a Hoodia is, but suspects it's either model of car or some part of the female anatomy [presumably named after a Dr Hood, who was the first person to discover it*]).

*Yes, I'm fully aware; that's why I said it.


I love it. I had to explain rimming and felching to someone the other day as well, and the myriad expressions that came out (so to speak) as the conversation went on (with appropriate hand gestures as explanatory tools) were the stuff of which comedy legends are made.
I've come a long way from that purity test in 1998. I now don't have to ask "what's rimming and have I ever done it?" - I just check "no".

Hand gestures? You mean you're supposed to use your hands as well? All sounds very complicated.

And which type of expression? Facial recreating, facial reacting or verbal? Should I be worried that I can make jokes out of all three?

Anyway, I look forward to hearing the comedy legends you make from the rimming tales. Might I suggest calling it "The Rim Cycle"?
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