Q: I am wearing a sailor suit with a rubber duck round my neck on a rope. Who am I? A: The Ancient Mariner. Or just a tired old whoopsie who grabs any excuse to raid the Dressing-Up Box (see my naive visit to The Hoist). I was aiming for Querelle, but got Captain Haddock.
I did mean to go clubbing wearing this. But by the time I left the party I was a) smashed and b) very slightly stoned ("Goodness, I haven't tried this in years. I wonder if it still tastes funny... Why, yes it does. God, your hob is amazing."). I ended up standing in a long queue surrounded by Very Fat Women wearing horns. I decided to go home with my dignity intact. Or as much dignity as you can have dressed like you wish you were 19.
Worst choice I made so far this week: It involved the sailor costume and some sex. Instead I went to a pub quiz night and lost. Boo.
This week I got to see two Queens of the 80s - Sandra Bernhard and Pam Ayres.
Both were there through my childhood years - Pam quietly wry about the dentist, Sandra summing up what was great about late night tv - if it didn't feature shrieking incoherence, what was the point?
How exciting to see these two ladies (of a surprisingly similar age) in the same week. Ann got us tickets to Pam's new sitcom, in which Pam plays a character called Pam. She also does a poem about a contact lens and proves she has looked after her teeth by eating a carrot. After two hours we staggered out onto the street. Ann sighed, "I feel I've been gentled to death."
Sandra was different. She staggered on an hour late, scything rapidly through her audience of vile queens. With the politness of the truly depraved, her act was ruthlessly clean. Pam actually talked about sex more - but whenever she mentioned the missionary position the audience shifted nervously from one buttock to the next.
As to who was nicer, I can only apply The Cliff Test. This is when you imagine what someone's reaction would be when discovering you dangling from a cliff. Having seen Pam in action, I can imagine her surprisingly flinty gaze settling on me as she intones "From here the view is very 'igh/I rather think you're going to die."
Wheareas Sandra wouldn't blink before she'd pulled you to safety, poured you a brandy, and tossed you to her fags.
After Sandra, I went to Central Station for a quick drink. It seemed a fairly normal night (no leather or paddling pools in sight). I sat out on the roof garden, smoking and listening to a group of men fantasizing about David Tennant. It was raining gently, and all seemed calm. Then a naked fat man wandered out and lit a cigarette.
With the communion of smokers we all nodded amiably at each other. But all I could think was "Where does he keep the cigarettes?"
Went for drinks with a friend who was setting up a recruitment consultancy. After a few days he found it hard going, and so he's turned it into an escort agency. Already it's a roaring success. And he's managed to keep some of the same people on his books.
Slept with a nanotechnologist yesterday. He was very beautiful. Nothing amusing or disastrous happened. He told me two things. Firstly, that he liked me. Second, that he was moving to Bath.
I'm still at "Nanites were only in Star Trek when I was a kid. Now stunning Greek men can be professors in them. Cool."
Yesterday I also
Went to Kilburn. It has one kebab shop for every ten straight men screaming at the rugby.
Ate a Boots Prawn Mayo sandwich. It had anti-taste.
Saw Transformers at the IMAX. Cried again ("Bumblebeeeeeeeeeee!" *sniff*). Oddly, nearly fell asleep, slightly hypnotised by the final fight on a really big screen. Fans of the film (and hey, who's not?) will be delighted to learn it's a different cut with lots of cool extra bits.
Drank half a bottle of vodka. Which was supposed to be one last little drink when I got in. Hmmn. No hangover, but a vague feeling of self-loathing.
When I moved to Kings Cross in 2002, it was still a bit iffy. But with the coming of the Eurostar we even now have... middle clas people.
There are at least three gay couples living in my building (all far more fabulous than me - either whippety thin cardigan-wearers, or flip-flops, beards, motorbike and Guardian).
My street has a proper pizzeria, a Szechuan chinese, and a wine bar. But just over the road is The Brunswick Centre. It used to be a delapidated Barbican rip-off, with a Somerfield and a charity shop. Now it's a shopping centre out of your dreams.
For one thing, there's a Waitrose. It's heaving - rammed with middle class people who've just materialised. Build it. They will come. And they spill out, eating at Yo Sushi, or Strada (we even have a Nandos for daytrippers from Zone 3). Later, they'll dive into the Virgin Megastore and Space NK, before checking out show times at the French Art House cinema. People wander happily around, looking like pastel drawings from an artist's impresison in an architecture brochure. It all looks worryingly like Caprica in Galactica. I love it.
This afternoon, there was even a cute Polish gay couple arguing over which season of the OC to buy on DVD.
UPDATE: Orchis pointed out that I'd forgotten Skoob, a giant underground second hand book store. When they reopened, they'd done the entire floor in cheap wood flooring, hadn't left any gaps for expansion, and the floor had risen. As a result it was brilliantly like walking on a wooden sea, where a careful step in Crime could cause ripples in Ancient History.
The improved tagging means that you can read all the stories tagged about "TV". Of which there are 50. Or "Sex", of which there are 220-something. I don't mention this to boast. But it gives a completely misleading impression. I have nothing profound to say about this. That is all.
So, I go to a job interview. It's next door to a gay sauna.
I phone the recruitment consultant afterwards. "Oooh, is that a bar you're in?" she trills. "It sounds nice."
Yes and no. I immediately get seduced by two beautiful Italian tourists with wonderful bodies but bad breath. One of them is called Mattel. Afterwards, he fetches the guidebook, and we sit, flicking through it.
They melt away, and I'm left feeling oddly listless. I catch myself wondering what I'd do if I got the job. Aside from the whole "can I still do a job?" thing, there's also the closeness to the sauna. Would it be like putting on weight when you work next to a nice cafe? Would I end up in here every night? Or at lunchtimes? Odd.
I met a Polish guy called Tom. He believed in everything but kissing on the lips. I always find that strange. I went home, still thoughtful.
Met the Squaddie for afternoon tea. Turns out he works in Regents Place, which is a strange business park at the top of Tottenham Court Road. It's a surprisingly desolate rain-soaked tundra. Smokers were huddled under statues, ducking as sodden copies of London Lite howled past.
We found a Starbucks. It was full of vile business people having meetings with that smug air of "But look! We're having a meeting in Starbucks! Isn't that exciting?" No.
The Squaddie dropped his thick Scottish accent when he ordered ("The lassie doesn't get me,"), and we sat down next to two posh boy students talking about cafetieres.
It was about five minutes before I realised what was wrong. The Squaddie was wearing a suit. A really nice suit.
We sat watching the rain pound across the courtyard outside, and he sighed, and told me all about how he used to run a skiing lodge in the Alps. "It was a great quality of life. Skiing to work every morning. Great. Until I fell out with my German bird. They're so argumentative." I stil don't know if he meant birds or Germans. But every time I meet him, he gets more complicated.
Late on Saturday I figured it was no good sitting alone in my room, so instead went out to hear the music play. I'd missed the Cabaret, but luckily not a nice man from Idaho.
My local is also one of London's scrapiest gayeries, which may explain why I'm not very "scene" - it's the sheer effort of having to boil wash your trainers after every visit. The problem with the smoking ban is that I can no longer use my patented solution to gay bars (find corner. scowl. chainsmoke). Instead, I found the prettiest man there, and started talking to him. It's radical, but does appear to work a lot better than glowering.
This was Jarod's first and only night on London's gay scene. The farmer's son from Idaho was puzzled. "So, at the bar upstairs, there are these two fat men in rugby kit. And one of them's lying on the floor, and the other one's standing on his hand. That ain't customary."
He's currently living in Amsterdam and not liking it. "The Dutch are just boring bastards with big dicks. If you could just make their dicks smaller and their charisma bigger, I'd be happier."
We sit and drink till the only man left at the bar is wearing a string vest and lime silk shorts.
This year, I've been discovering that Americans say weird things during sex. First there was Lucas who finished with "Hell yeah!". Now Jarod continues this by yelling out "Yeah! Breed that hole!".
He pauses. "You're laughing."
JAROD: "Yeah. I just knew you were gonna hate that. It's a thing."
ME: "But where's it come from?"
JAROD: "Well, kind of... you know... traditional."
ME: "But it doesn't make sense. 'Breed'... sounds weird. And a bit aggressive."
JAROD: "Hey, this is good old country dirty talk."
ME: "Handed down to you by your Pa?"
Jarod's led a varied life. A typical sentence runs: "Oh, didn't I tell you I was a weatherman for a while? It was when I was in the Marines. Yeah, that was before the Seminary." He's also worked in farming and construction. "All I've got left is plumber, and then that's all the porn jobs."
As I leave him, he hands me a sheet of paper. I think it's his number, but it turns out to be a discount coupon for a Boots Only night in Kerkstraat. Breeder.
I'd never work again if it wasn't that I quite like buying spendy drinks and toys. I miss working with fun people, but there's something lovely about every day being Saturday, full of shopping and gym and boys and fags and writing and one last little vodka before bed.
But I have my wobbles. I was signing on the other day. In return for some free money and discount cinema tickets, it's a fun ritual where a nice lady called Shimla asks me if I've progressed from my last job, which was making cartoons about space pirates. I explain that sadly, animated space piracy is a small industry. She nods sympathetically, and suggests I use one of their Job Points to further my job seeking.
As I leave a Customer Satisfaction man asks what I thought of my Job Seeking interview. And then says, "So how long have you been unemployed?"
"Hi, this is Jocasta calling from OfficeWankers. I've grabbed your cv off a pile, haven't even read it and am calling you about a job that, in about 10 seconds time we're both going to realise you're completely unsuitable for. How does that grab you?"
ME: "Sure. Once you realise it would be like hiring a cat to run the Mouse Zoo, will you keep flogging the job to me anyway?"
JOCASTA: "Oh, absolutely. Without pausing for breath."
ME: "It's based in Slough, isn't it?"
JOCASTA: "Almost certainly. I've not read that far down the job description yet but it's bound to be somewhere ghastly... ah. yup."
ME: "And are you playing with Facebook all the way through this conversation?"
JOCASTA: "But of course! I'm uploading pictures of girls night out in AllBarOne. It was hilarious."
I worked out t'other day when I run out of money. It's February 14th. Which'll be a shit of a day, but luckily it's a looong way away.