Sorry for the radio silence - internet silence, whatever - but I'm in Brighton. You'll never guess what I'm doing here. Go on, have a guess what I'm doing here. You'll never guess.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez would be proud of me.
Thursday, 31 July 2008
Sorry for the radio silence - internet silence, whatever - but I'm in Brighton. You'll never guess what I'm doing here. Go on, have a guess what I'm doing here. You'll never guess.
Monday, 28 July 2008
This is the letter of complaint I sent to Virgin Media this morning. I’m afraid I got rather carried away. Keith’s illustration does not appear in the letter I sent. It’s for your eyes only.
On April 9, according to the bill I received from Virgin Media dated 11 May, I spoke for 14 minutes to what I can only presume was a member of the opposite sex, employed by cruel swine to talk dirty to lonely idiots. Explicit in your accusation is the further presumption that whilst talking to this woman, I manipulated myself to emission. Or at least tried to.
I find all of this extremely offensive.
I am not a proud man. On the contrary, I am on occasion deeply ashamed of many of the acts I commit on a regular basis, and many of the things which ooze unbidden, unpunished through my mind.
You know in The Information, where Martin Amis describes a couple’s bed as having ‘the towelly smell of marriage’? I always found this rather charming. Awww, I thought, marriage. All comfy and safe and warm and fluffy. Maybe not massively sexy, but still, I always rather fancied the idea that one day my own bed would have a towelly smell of its own. Instead, to my eternal shame, my bed has a bowelly smell. The bowelly smell of desperation. And I’m here to tell you, it isn’t pleasant. My whole room smells like the inside of an acutely irritated bowel, tempered, nay, chastened with the toffee-like tinge of freshly congealed manseed.
Do you see where I’m coming from?
What I’m saying to you is that my life, like my bed, is a fairly unspeakable combination of gastric mayhem and – not to put too fine a point on it – cock-toffee. It wouldn’t be so bad if the self-abuse to which I subtly allude actually brought with it any pleasure, but really, in the cold light of my overflowing navel, it doesn’t. Rarely. Rather, sometime it feels like I’m enslaved to this rather soulless instinct to just hammer out the desire. It’s really unpleasant if you think about it in a dark light, and sometimes, frequently, it makes me feel ashamed.
But the important thing is that deep deep down, I also have some pride mixed in with the shame and there are some things that I would never ever do. One of those things is that I would never ever pay damn fine money to an unscrupulous reptile house of low rent pimps, in order that they might then pay paltry peanuts to a woman who despises me, so that she, in turn, might then spit bald and lazy, vagina-heavy platitudes – or, if you will, twatitudes – into my plump, unlovely ear.
I would never do that. And I’ll tell you why.
For the simple if not sole reason that there now exists a tool which renders such venal pursuits wholly obsolete. That thing, my Virgin Media friends, is the internet. I know you’ve heard of it because you serve it to me by the month – occasionally uninterrupted for an entire month at a time! – for an obscenely inflated sum; a sum which, like a loose-cheeked imbecile pleasuring a dandy highwayman, I pay with nothing more than muffled imprecations.
And I pay it because my life without the internet would be worse than useless. Unlike the TV – which I also rent from you – the internet offers a good deal more than large bald men yelling at yokels, and disabled women parading their broken bodies before weak-willed homosexuals (although the internet has these things too, and in spades). The internet also offers 24-hour free and uncensored footage of everything from able-bodied lesbians French-kissing one another’s anuses, to webcammed conversation with damaged middle-aged women in Asshat, Arkansas, getting wasted with their tops off and oiling their bacon.
More than that however – as if anyone, in an ideal world, would ever really need any more than that – the internet also offers a veritable myriad of opportunities for ordinary consumers to share information.
For example, if I type the number of the sex line I am accused of calling – 09090271146 – into Google, it delivers me, in a chillingly efficient 0.11 of a second to a website called Cable Forum, and more specifically, a discussion entitled ‘Have you been charged for premium calls that you didn’t make?’
This discussion begins with the words ‘I am a Virgin Media customer…’, followed by four pages of anecdote – or evidence – from various Virgin Media customers who have been falsely billed for ringing sex lines. Some of them paid up to £400, and are still fighting to be reimbursed. Evidently then, I am far from the first Virgin Media customer to have fallen foul of this nasty scam.
Therefore, under the circumstances, it really peeves me that I have had to write this letter. I was already on the phone to one of your employees when I was originally informed that I had been panting away on a sex line. I pointed out that I do not use ‘adult services’ over the telephone. Then I asked her what she was wearing. I’m joking of course. Rather, I asked how this might have occurred. What was afoot? I asked. In response, I was treated to an almost amusingly high level of ignorance – especially considering that this scam is already well-known to at least some members of Virgin Media’s customer service department.
So, clearly, it doesn’t take a man in a canoe to figure out some kind of system to deal with this known problem. That’s all I’m saying.
Actually that’s not all I’m saying. I’m also saying that, if you have any claims to being a respectable and law-abiding company and any idea whatsoever about decent customer service, then I would ask you please to deal with the following glaringly obvious problems immediately.
1. Please pay me back the money you have taken from me. Immediately. It’s theft, and I really don’t care for it at all.
2. Also, please reimburse all the other people you’ve taken money from too. God knows how many complaints you’ve received and casually fobbed off. Stop pretending you don’t know what’s going on and play fair. For the sake of common decency. The fact is, whether deliberately, with malice aforethought or merely through sloppiness, you have taken money which doesn’t belong to you and you really ought to give it back.
3. Also, while you’re about it, please offer me a refund for the extended periods of internet outage which occurred last some time month. One of your customer service staff said that if I asked for compensation, I would get it. So I’m asking. Please don’t ask me to call your helpline again. I will implode.
4. Also, please learn to use email. I mean, come on. In this day and age. It’s embarrassing. Anyone would think you’re deliberately making it difficult for disgruntled customers to make you accountable for not doing your job very well.
5. And please show the last two seasons of Six Feet Under on TV Choice On Demand. I choose it. I demand it. And The Wire too. And Dexter.
I would appreciate a prompt and considered response, if not from you, then from your superior.
I will not hesitate to take the matter further if you do not at least have the courtesy to grant me a decent reply. (I will be using the aforementioned internet as the chief tool in my 'taking the matter further'. Please do not cut me off.) (I will implode.)
Yours in keen anticipation of some semblance of humanity,
Now I guess I wait and see.
Saturday, 26 July 2008
I’ve always thought Twitter was a fairly futile and witless waste of time if I’m honest, but an online acquaintance of mine – let’s call him Fanshaw, but let’s pronounce it ‘Featherstonehaugh’ for big laughs – is incredibly enthusiastic. This afternoon he convinced me to give it a proper shot.
He said the way to do it is to start following lots of people you know or kind of know or would like to know. He said most of them will start following back. And then every time you have a pearl to toss, or of course every time you blog something new, you twitter it, and all your followers come running, desperate to worship at your hem. And they may even bring some friends along too.
So that’s what I’m doing.
I’m owning up to it here so it doesn’t seem so cynical and self-serving.
If you’re on Twitter yourself, please follow me immediately. It'll give me the greatest pleasure to toss the occasional pearl in your lovely face.
Friday, 25 July 2008
bulk :: 16st 4
cigarettes smoked :: 0
joints smoked :: 0
units of alcohol imbibed :: 10ish
letters of complaint toiled over :: 1
chiropractic visits :: 2
chiropractic fantasies :: 6
So. Let’s call her Naomi. Naomi is slight of frame and dark of skin, with wonderful posture and lovely strong hands. I felt slightly ashamed to be honest, standing there in front of her with my stoop and my belly and my big baggy undies. At least they were clean though. Ish.
She started by asking me questions about my medical history. She was interested in my mother’s arthritis and wanted to know whether it was rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. I told her I didn’t know. She said maybe I could find out. I told her my mother was dead and that my father and I are severely estranged. She said, ‘Oh.’ I nodded in agreement. ‘Quite,’ I said. Then there was a pause, in which I think we both felt slightly uncomfortable. ‘Maybe I can find out anyway,’ I said, in an attempt to jolly things up a bit. But actually, maybe I can. I’ve been thinking about my Dad quite a bit recently. I’ve been thinking that I should make an effort to see him, and reconcile with him, before I wake up one morning to a letter telling me that he’s dead. Because then, even though I don’t think I have anything to feel guilty about, I will feel guilty. And that will suck.
After our little chat, Naomi proceeded to poke and prod me with her bright little hands, trying to find out what hurt and what didn’t. Typically, nothing hurt, as my back had decided to start behaving itself just a couple of days before my first session.
The best part of that first session was undoubtedly when Naomi covered her sweet little fingers with some medical massage oil and rubbed it into my big old rubbery stretch-marked back. It was so pleasant that I was afraid I might sustain an erection, and then when I didn’t, for some reason I was actually quite disappointed. Weirdo.
The worst part of the visit was when Naomi had me straddle the table with my arms crossed over my chest, then grabbed my upper body and twisted it sharply. I enjoyed the proximity, don’t get me wrong. I even didn’t mind her slightly rotten breath on my face – it was after all, human breath, and that’s better than no breath at all (it’s also better than cat breath). What upset me though, was that she wasn’t able to make my spine go ‘pop’. That’s what was supposed to happen. But it didn’t. Naomi was also disappointed. I could tell. ‘Ah,’ she said. ‘It should really be easier than that.’ Made me feel like a bit of a failure if I’m honest.
The second session was slightly more interesting as my spine gave way a little and I left with a huge pain in my neck. Overall though, I’m still not sure about this chiro lark. Although it’s undeniably pleasant to have an attractive and attentive young woman laying her hands on my naked flesh, that’s really not enough of an incentive. After all, for the same money, or even less, I could have an attractive and attentive young woman lay much more than mere hands on me. For me to continue with this, there has to be some sort of tangible result. So I’ve decided, I’ll give it five sessions, and if by the end of that time my spine is not popping like a field of corn and I’m not as lithe as a whip, then I think I’ll cut my losses and give pilates a go instead.
(Incidentally, Naomi told me to lay off the exercise until a few sessions in, which is why I haven’t been running. She’s going to give me some stretches to do. Gosh. Stretches. I can barely contain my joy.)
So. What else has this week offered? Well, not much, I have to say. I’ve been working quite hard on something financial and far too tedious to go into. I have a dull pain in my gut which I reckon could be stomach cancer. And I had a Magnum ice cream in a large bowl of cherry yoghurt. This undoubtedly was the highlight of my week.
Cristiano Ronaldo, eat my shorts.
Christ, I’ve got to find a girlfriend. I really have.
So I think it might be time to give the internet another crack of the whip.
Or maybe I should ring a chat line.
The internet will save me.
But first I’m going to disinfect my life. I may be some time.
Have a simply gorgeous weekend.
You’re worth it.
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
Dirty Sex With Jehovah's Witnesses and 9/11 Conspiracy Lesbians :: Or, Where Have All The Readers Gone?
Apparently, on April 9th, according to Virgin Media, I spent £20 masturbating over a sex line. Except I didn't. And that is actually a hideous slander. I remember April 9th distinctly, as it was the seventh day in a row I spent masturbating over lesbians on YouPorn. So I'm writing a letter of complaint. I'm actually furious that they're making me write it. It's taking me ages.
In the meantime, I have to plug my flatmate again because he's a fucking genius. He may have appalling taste in women (except for the ones that... no, I can't say that), but at least he hasn't got chlamydia. And look at these pictures he made. They are outstanding. Click for size.
Plus, he's been playing around with some pins and some cassettes and I think he could be onto something.
Friday, 18 July 2008
bulk :: 16st 2
exercise :: none
appointments :: 1
disappointments :: 1
prophetic dreams :: 1
So. You will notice that I have lapsed. My year of living salubriously seems to have hit a brick wall. There is however, a reason for this. The reason is, I don't give a damn anymore. I have completely given up.
I have decided that rather than ending the year a lithe, healthy 31-year-old in a rewarding and loving relationship with a gloriously special lady, I shall end it a lonely, 24-stone disaster area with a fucked spine and a heart condition. Rather than running the London Marathon, my ambition is now to save up enough money for gastric bypass surgery.
I jest of course.
In reality, a second person - Frank - suggested that it would be very unwise of me to continue exercising until I make sure that my back is OK, so I have decided not to take any risks. In fact, I have made an appointment with a chiropractor for next week. Finally. Fingers crossed I'll be back running and cracking on with the healthy stuff very soon, and not - worst case scenario - sitting in a wheelchair covered in biscuits.
In other news, the flat I was hoping to move into in a couple of months has – for reasons very much not worth going into - fallen through. So it looks like I may be living with Keith for the rest of my life. Or at least until he moves his adorable new girlfriend in and kicks me out.
So. This morning around 7 I awoke from a very strange dream. It went a little like this...
I was attending an event – a talk about human rights – with Sally. We weren’t together in a sexy way, but it was quite clear that she wanted me. I meanwhile, was playing it very cool.
There were a couple of hundred wooden chairs laid out in rows and people were milling about waiting for the talk to begin.
Shami Chakrabarti was giving the talk, and – unusually for her I think – she was going to finish by performing a few songs on her ukulele.
Sally and I sat in the front row and somehow, quite suddenly, I had Shami Chakrabarti’s ukulele in my hands and I was trying and failing to play it. This was enormously frustrating because in real life I am shit hot on the ukulele. In the dream however, try as I might, my fingers would simply not do that which my brain asked of them.
Then all at once it came together and for about five seconds I played the most complex and hauntingly beautiful arrangement which has ever been played on any musical instrument, ever. But it didn't last long and it ended with me loudly and embarrassingly breaking two of the strings.
At which point, Shami Chakrabarti decided she needed her ukulele. When she saw what I’d done to it, she was furious, and I was mortified. Embarrassed and ashamed.
Suddenly, from nowhere, David Tennant appeared. He told me he’d smoothed things over with Shami and explained to her that I’m not a bad sort really, but if I wanted to get out of this situation with my dignity intact, I’d better get the ukulele fixed immediately.
So I took off and ran for all I was worth through this rather quaint, slightly Dickensian town. I flew into the first music shop I found and asked about ukulele strings. I was in luck. Except for the fact that I hadn’t brought the ukulele with me. So I ran back to Shami, grabbed the ukelele, ran back to the shop, restrung the ukulele, then ran back again to the event where everyone was waiting. However, on that final stretch, that's where things turned awry. Suddenly, I found that no matter how hard I tried, I could no longer run.
I just couldn’t lift my legs. Like I was up to my hips in wet sand.
I began to panic. I couldn't breathe. I didn't think I was going to make it.
Then, quick as a flash, things changed and I was there.
I handed over the ukulele and everything was OK.
I woke up.
What on earth can it mean?
Well, for me it’s obvious.
What it means is - simply - that everything is going to be alright.
Have a lovely weekend.
Thursday, 17 July 2008
Ange was 13 when she swallowed her first mouthful of male ejaculate.
Now, the last thing I want is to seem like I’m passing judgement, but in my most humble opinion, that’s just a tiny bit on the young side.
I on the other hand was 24 when my taste buds first thrilled to the tang of a lady’s toilet area.
Again, the last thing I want is to seem like I’m passing judgement, but in my most humble opinion, that’s just a tiny bit on the old side.
Animal Fact #1 :: The Giraffe
Giraffes regularly indulge in all-male sex orgies. They are gay.
Ange has Chlamydia.
I do not.
We are different people. Different animals. On Sunday we went to the zoo together. I took photos and learned some things. When she told me she had Chlamydia, I waggled my finger in her pretty, cum-hungry face and said: ‘As ye reap, so shall ye sow.’
Ange, to her credit, told me to go fuck myself, before adding, ‘And it’s the other way around, you dickhead.’
Ah, yes. So it is.
Animal Fact #2 :: The Iguana
The female iguana has retractile spines on the inner wall of her vagina, with which she is able to pierce her partner’s member and hold him in place long after he has ejaculated inside her. Why she has evolved this ability is not known, although zoologists suspect that it is ‘just for fun’.
By the time she’d left school, Ange had worked her way through five boyfriends. While I was at home experimenting with Marmite, she was in her boyfriend’s car, all fingers and thumbs.
The fact is, I’m enormously envious of Ange. She has abilities I do not. Sex abilities.
Animal Fact #3 :: The Peruvian Semen Monkey
The Peruvian Semen Monkey is so-called because of the male’s astonishing capacity for producing and disseminating three times its own body weight in sperm in a single day.
I actually had to physically restrain Ange.
Ange has had two abortions. (I’m not so envious of these.)
Animal Fact #4 :: The Gorilla
The gorilla is not a very sexy creature. Although gorillas are monogamous – which is nice – they only actually make love once every 70 years. The rest of the time they just sit around talking about the weather.
Ange is a very sexy creature. She has a wonderful tongue, which she has a tendency to roll out onto her chin when she thinks she has said something amusing. I realise this sounds rather revolting, but it isn’t. Honest.
Animal Fact #5 :: The Penguin
When it comes to sex, the penguin’s reputation for sweetness and charm is completely unfounded. The female penguin is a cow. When confronted with a male in whom she has no interest, sexually, she will often knock him to the floor and trample all over him. If the male is foolish enough to take umbrage, the female will spit poison in his eyes then simply turn her back and ignore him. It should come as no surprise to learn that the female penguin works in television.
If I had been born a beautiful woman, I would have cocks coming out of my arse.
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
‘I wish I’d done things differently,’ said my shifty, kinda racist, pseudo-Chinese landlord Dudley this morning.
Aha! I thought. At last. At last a sign of humanity. A sign of something beyond the money-grubbing rule-worshiping arch-stickler I’ve come to know and kind of loathe. What was he going to say, I wondered. That he wishes he’d gone to a kibbutz? That he wishes he’d travelled through South America as a youth, maybe joining forces with Chico Mendez to try and help save the rainforests? Or maybe just that he wishes he’d concentrated his efforts on something more rewarding, less soulless than property and trade...
‘What would you have done?’ I asked, breath bated.
‘I’d have bought property in Weybridge,’ he said. ‘Prices have gone through the roof,’ he said. ‘I’d be sitting pretty now.’
‘Oh,’ I sighed. ‘Well, never mind.’
It got me wondering though, what would I do differently, if I could?
Well, firstly, I’d have stood up to my parents sooner rather than later. Secondly, I’d have started living – and therefore blogging – at least five years ago. If I had, for sure, I’d be sitting pretty now.
Ah, well. Never mind.
That's probably it though. Which makes me feel OK really. You know? Life's not bad. Good old life.
And you? Yes, you, go on, indulge me. If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
PS. Bon chance, Little Sparra!
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Monday, 14 July 2008
Earlier this evening I saw a young man in Camden Town looking ever so slightly ludicrous in an ill-fitting top hat, and I was reminded of Sebastian Horsley. Horsley is fond of a topper, I reflected. It makes him feel important. I shared my thoughts with Ange – with whom I had spent the day at London Zoo, of all places – and then she mentioned that she’d read a rave review of Horsley’s autobiography in the Guardian. Of all places.
So when I got home a short while ago I read said review and then went to check out Horsley’s blog. I imagined there’d be a publicity post gloating over the acclaim, as well as any other recent plaudits. Instead I discovered that six weeks ago, Horsley stopped blogging.
The curious thing was that my first reaction was one of genuine disappointment. I felt sad.
‘I’ve had enough of this shit,’ Horsley types. ‘The internet is for those who lack the flair for conversation. A blog is what you write for after being rejected by all the reputable publishers. It is Loser Central. The last refuge of the refuse. Anyone who has a blog or leaves comments on a blog is a wanker.’
Even more curious. After reading this – in which yet again he comes across as a petulant, attention-seeking little boy – I began to feel sorry for him.
‘It is far too undignified for a man of my stature,’ he continues. ‘That it attracts such bitterness is not surprising. For one person spoilt by success, a thousand are spoilt by failure. Success makes people, for the most part, humble, tolerant, and kind. Failure makes people bitter and cruel. I can make no more of you than a hedgehog. You are too dull to be ridiculous.’
It was very odd. I felt that I was seeing Horsley with a new clarity, seeing him as a deeply, deeply unhappy man, too ridiculous to be merely dull. I felt instinctively that I was seeing a man wholly incapable of feeling love for another human being.
‘I am the only thing of value on the internet,’ he concludes, ‘and I am removing it immediately. Goodbye.’
Oh, God. Then that his final flourish should be reek of grammatical ineptitude was just too sad.
He’s absolutely tragic. He reminds me of Horatio Alger, the American arch-moralist and zealous advocate of the American Dream who took it upon himself to instruct the world how to live correctly, citing hard work and respect for other humans, but who all the while was a self-hating sickening boy-rapist. (His first novel incidentally, was called Ragged Dick.)
I get the feeling that Horsley is similarly tortured, similarly living a lie. He’s carved out this niche for himself, created this character, this rather contrived cocktail of the Marquis de Sade and Oscar Wilde who struts through life, whoring, pontificating, smoking crack and playing the gigantic ‘I am’, when all he really wants is someone to hold him close, mop his furrowed brow and tell him that everything is going to be alright. That’s right: all he really wants is love. But of course he is incapable of accepting love, even when it is offered. Incapable of accepting it, incapable of offering it. Because he is a narcissist. And a deeply, deeply unhappy man.
But of course, who the hell am I and what the hell do I know? Well, I'm a man who's had a few ales and is perfectly aware that he could be very wrong. It’s just a feeling I got on reading his last hurrah tonight. And I thought I'd share it. On my blog. Like the wanker I am.
I should probably read his book.
One moment, please.
There. I’ve reserved it at the local library.
Now, to sleep.
PS. I’ve just found this. You can’t deny, he does have his moments.
UPDATE :: As some of you have pointed out, Horsley is back blogging again, without so much as shamefaced nod to his 'last post'. Lack of hypocrisy my arse, Nicholas Lezard.
Saturday, 12 July 2008
How could John McCain - or anyone involved in the McCain presidential campaign - possibly think that physically removing a 61-year-old woman from outside of a town hall meeting was an intelligent thing to do?
Even if they sincerely thought that an elderly librarian in a patchwork coat was a genuine threat, surely they would have the common sense to see that removing her might have damaging consequences, at least as far as the subsequent PR was concerned? Wouldn’t you think?
Aaaaah, the Land of the Free. Thank God that would never happen here.
Friday, 11 July 2008
bulk :: 16st 0 (I’m beginning to think that that’s it. I have completely levelled out. I’m so full of shit. All my empty promises. No wonder Melanie hasn’t phoned. She could probably smell the foetid stench of failure on me.)
smokes smoked :: 0
puff puffed :: none
drink drunk :: 4 cans of lager, 4 glasses of wine
runs run :: 1 (Let’s not even discuss it.)
swims swum :: 0 (Pffffffffffffffffffffft.)
chiropractor appointments arranged :: 0
dentist appointments arranged :: 0
gyms joined :: 0
conversations with Melanie :: 0
conversations about Melanie :: 5 or 60
litres of ball-jam spat from one-eyed Elvis :: 12
It’s not been a magnificent week if I’m honest. Bit of work. Bit of Wii play. Bit of an anti-climax after last week’s ten dates, although I did enjoy writing them up.
I don’t know where all the time goes, frankly. I’ve got a number of writing projects which I really, really need to get on with now, some of which I’ve been promising myself I would do for months. I’m really quite miffed with myself if you want to know the truth. I’m thinking of spanking myself with an IKEA spatula.
This weekend I’m seeing Ange for the first time in quite a while. Apart from that, nothing going on. So. Time to get on with some writing.
If I don’t post anything next week, it’s because I’ve either disappeared in a puff of self-loathing or wanked myself to death. Or possibly a photo finish between the two.
You meanwhile – yes, you: have a great weekend. Because you’re worth it.
On the way home from the speed dating event, Keith and I compared notes. On some things we agreed. Cindy for example. ‘Very nice,’ said Keith.
‘Agreed,’ I said.
‘Certainly not interested in me though.' He shrugged. 'Shame. I’d definitely have done her.’
‘Quite,’ I said. 'Jane?'
'Which one was that?'
'Green jacket, brown hair, face like a tapir.'
'Oh, yeah, I know.' Keith reflected for a moment. 'She really did have a face like a tapir. Yeah, she seemed nice enough. Nothing to get excited about though. Can't remember anything she said.'
'Agreed. What about Atiya?’
‘Barking mad,’ said Keith.
‘Really properly psycho though,’ Keith continued. ‘Did you see those fucking earrings she made?’
‘I know, I know.’
‘You know they were real condoms?’
‘No, they weren't. Don’t be ridiculous.’
‘I swear. I mean, I didn’t touch one, but she waggled one in front of my face and it smelled real enough.’
‘No, no, no,’ I said. 'And no.'
'Suit yourself,' he said. ‘Fantastic tits though.’
‘Oh, please,’ I said.
‘What?’ said Keith. ‘You don’t think she had fantastic tits?’
‘That’s not really... I mean....’
‘She did, didn’t she?’
‘Well, yeah, but....’
‘I don’t know. I don’t feel that that kind of remark is necessarily appropriate,’ I said, unsure of myself, feeling ever so slightly ‘PC brigade’.
‘Surely it’s no less appropriate than judging her mental capacity. Why is it alright to decide that she’s barking mad but not to decide that she had a really fuckable pair of tits?’
‘Oh, God, I don’t know!’ I cried. ‘It just feels it.’
‘What are you, fucking Amish?’
‘No, I just....’
‘You’re just a jerk and a berk,’ said Keith. ‘You read The Female Eunuch at an early age and you didn’t really understand it, so now you think it’s unacceptable to get turned on by a smashing pair of tits. The fact is, there’s absolutely no difference between you enthusing about Rafael Nadal’s biceps and me enthusing about that bonkers woman’s breasts. The only difference is, I’m not gay.’
I sighed. ‘Alright,’ I said. ‘You make a fair point,’ I said. ‘Maybe it’s just the word tits that makes me recoil a little. Breasts seems much less offensive to me. Breasts I can handle.’
‘Well, that’s just fucking stupid, isn’t it? Tits? What’s wrong with tits? Do you think it’s misogynistic or something?’ I shrugged. I guess I did a bit. It just sounds a bit disrespectful to me. And coarse. ‘Well, it’s not,’ Keith corrected me. ‘Forfucksake. Nice tits! Gorgeous arse! Scrumptious cock and knackers like avocados! These are just the words people use, man. I hate to say it but you really need to get out more.’
I didn’t say anything.
‘Don’t sulk,’ said Keith. ‘What did you think of Tilly? Speaking of nice tits.’
‘Ugh,’ I said. ‘Don’t.’
‘What?’ said Keith. ‘You didn’t like her?’
‘Like her? No, I didn’t. She was vile. A horrible, self-obsessed media fuckstain.’
‘Oh, but that’s not offensive?’ said Keith.
‘Yeah, but I would love to offend Tilly, that’s the difference. I hated her.’
‘Hmmm,’ said Keith. ‘Interesting. Well, you might have a chance to revise your opinion at the weekend. She’s coming over for dinner.’
My face shrivelled. ‘Please tell me you’re joking.’
Keith shook his head. ‘I really liked her,’ he said. ‘I think she might be the one.’
‘I...’ I said. ‘You....’ I said. I realised I’d better not say anything. I bit my tongue.
Keith raised an eyebrow. ‘Come on,’ he said. ‘Out with it.’
‘No, no, nothing. I didn’t like her, that’s all, and I’m surprised that you did. No biggy. What did you think of Melanie?’
Keith pulled a face. ‘The fat one?’
I pulled a face. ‘The gorgeous one, yeah.’
Keith shrugged. ‘Not my cup of tea and to be honest, I found her a bit dull. She kept going on about plankton.’
‘Not your cup of tea? Are you insane?’
‘Didn’t fancy her, sorry.’
I sulked again. I know I should rejoice in the fact that we’re all so different and that one man’s goose is another man’s poison, but the fact is it pisses me off when people don’t agree with me about things I really care about. I’m very childish that way.
When I’d stopped sulking, Keith told me what he’d found out about Melanie, which wasn’t actually very much. Apparently, part of her job involves occasionally working with plankton. He couldn’t remember much more than that - like where she works, for example. Which is probably just as well as I might have tried to track her down, and that’s probably not a great idea.
Also, I decided that the reason Keith had convinced himself that he didn’t like Melanie was actually because she didn’t laugh at his jokes. Apparently he followed up some crass pun about ‘walking the plankton’ with another about being ‘as thick as two short plankton’, and rather than creasing up and fellating him, Melanie scoffed at him and told him there wasn't a plankton pun on earth she hadn't heard a million times. Good for her. It made me like her all the more.
In fact, it made me feel quite sad that I probably wouldn’t see her again.
I’ve been thinking about her a lot.
I’ve been staring at my phone, hearing it beep when it wasn’t actually beeping, and fantasising constantly.
Melanie was lovely. I loved her smile, her eyes, her laugh. And you know what else? She had fantastic tits.
Ugh. I'm sorry but I still think it sounds coarse. I'd much prefer to say she that she had a cracking chest, elegantly furnished with a nest of wonderfully comely breasts.
God, I want them.
To bring you bang up to date, Keith did meet Tilly again and they did get on well. I kept out of the way, and we haven't really spoken about it much since. I told him I was going to blog about her anyway, but that obviously, I'd be discreet. He shrugged and said, 'You do what you have to do'.
Meanwhile he's been sketching the speed dating. A couple of hours produced these three little beauties.
And there we are.
It's exactly a week since Melanie took my number and retained the power and you know what? It's very, very frustrating.
Thursday, 10 July 2008
So, seconds out... Round Two. First up...
Physical :: Very tall and very dyed blonde. A certain superciliousness around the eyes; a certain disdain. I guess that a lot of people who go speed dating feel very strongly that they shouldn’t be there and therefore feel superior to all the other losers. I further suspect that most of the people who feel this way have the good sense and even the decency to try and hide it. Not so Tilly.
Tilly reminded me of Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous, and not just physically. She also had the sneer off to a tee and was absolutely overflowing with hideous, hateful self-absorption. It didn’t surprise me one iota to discover that Tilly worked in television.
Mental :: You may even have seen her yourself, although it’s not massively likely. She’s not June Sarpong or anything. (Thank God.) And I don’t want to be indelicate here – tempting though it is to link to her website – but I will say that Tilly is a presenter on a certain type of – to my mind – fairly odious TV programme. Let’s call it ‘fact porn’, which doesn’t actually give too much away. And let’s leave it at that.
Tilly is the kind of person – in my most humble opinion – who has a very fixed idea of what she wants from a person, what she requires, and if it’s clear to her that you don’t fit any of those criteria, then not only will she have no time for you, but also, she’ll have no problem making that abundantly clear.
This was the only one of my dates which featured awkward silences, one of which I interrupted with the words, ‘Well, this is going well, isn’t it?’, to which Tilly replied, ‘Not really, no’. Which I thought was a little unnecessary. Then, having no idea how to respond to that outside of something equally unpleasant, I chose instead to treat Tilly to a long uninterrupted burst of my near-perfect and very annoying Peter Griffin laugh.
Tilly looked at me like giant toads had just started pouring from my open mouth, then with the words, ‘Actually, I have to make a call’, she got up and sashayed over to the bar. Making that Speed Dating Desertion Number Two.
Thankfully, six dates had ended desertion-free between Gloria and Tilly.
Physical :: Atiya was kind of exotic-looking. She was half Mauritian, half Danish. She was dark and sultry, with an amazing complexion and a wonderful chest, but also, there was something around the eyes that made her look ever so slightly like an gigantic simpleton. Actually, maybe if I hadn’t spoken to her, I would have interpreted it as a beatific openness, a delightful childlike fascination. But I did speak to her. And she was a simpleton.
Mental :: Atiya believes in fairies. And as far as I could make out, in Jiminy Cricket. Yeah, but, obviously, you’re thinking, if she said that, then she was merely having a bit of fun. She was being amusing. Well, I’m not so sure she was.
Atiya cites as her heroes Aleister Crowley, Kenneth Anger, Walt Disney and Louise Brooks. Running, rather elegantly, up the vein of her left forearm, the words, ‘Love is the law’ are tattooed. Meanwhile, her right forearm reads, ‘Love under will’. Apparently, running down her spine rather like - one imagines - an army of Satanic ants, are the words, 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law’. She explained briefly that these are all Crowleyisms. Now I don’t know very much about Aleister Crowley, except for the fact that he was commonly known as The Beast and was generally considered the Wickedest Man in the World. Also, I came across him in Preston Sturges’ autobiography recently, as apparently he had a brief thing with Sturges’ rather eccentric mother in the 20s. Anyhow, the guy was obviously a major loon and a bad egg to boot and I wish I’d known something of his oft-expressed views on women before I met Atiya last week. I would like to have quizzed her about them. Ah, well. Maybe next time.
So, the dark arts are not the only arts in which Atiya is interested. She also makes films and jewellery, both of which - in her search for a soulmate, which is what the speed dating was all about for her - she enjoys talking about a great deal.
She showed me a film she’d made. It was on her mobile phone, which she rooted around for and eventually extracted from the huge Mary Poppins-like bag she kept on her lap. It was slightly difficult to make out exactly what was going on in the film but it seemed to consist of Atiya dressed as Alice moving slowly through a room which was decorated with hundreds of pairs of latex gloves hanging from the ceiling. She moved through this ridiculous environment the way one might move through an enchanted cave, regularly holding up her hands in badly-acted awe. What made it even sillier was the fact that attached to each of her fingers was a foot-long plastic nail.
‘You see my nails?’ she asked excitedly.
‘Oh, is that what they are? I wasn’t really….’
‘They are twelve inches long,’ she explained.
‘Are they really?’ I said. ‘Well I never.’ And when the film was done – I watched about thirty seconds of it – I asked her, ‘So what does it mean?’
This seemed to puzzle her. ‘It’s whatever you want it to be,’ she said. ‘It’s just life. It’s everything!’
‘OK,’ I said. ‘I see.’ Then as her head disappeared back inside her bag, I looked nervously around the room, expecting to see white-coated men with butterfly nets creeping up to our table. But no. Nothing.
‘Look at my earrings,’ she said, resurfacing. ‘I’ll show you.’
I laughed. ‘OK,’ I said. ‘Come on, own up. You’re having a laugh, right? You’re doing some kind of social experiment maybe. Or you have a column somewhere. Come on, you can tell me.’
She gave me her delighted simpleton face. ‘Life is a social experiment,’ she said.
‘Oh, don’t give me that,’ I said. ‘You can’t possibly be real.’
Then she laughed and clapped her hands together like a homosexual man. ‘I’m not!’ she cried. ‘Nothing is real!’
‘Oh, God,’ I said. ‘OK.’ I nodded.
The earrings she was holding up were extremely realistic representations of used condoms. I have no idea how she made them but as I say, they were very realistic. Right down to the teaspoonful of white liquid in the ends of each one.
‘What is that?’ I asked. ‘The white stuff.’
‘What do you think?’ she replied, beaming at me, so proud.
I just shook my head. ‘No, come on,’ I said. ‘You’re scaring me now.’
She laughed. ‘It is!’ she cried. ‘It’s real sperm!’
She held the condoms up to her ears. ‘Wow,’ I said. ‘You’re like the porno version of The Girl With The Pearl Earrings. The Girl With The Pearl Necklace Earrings.’
I looked around the room again. A couple of the other couples were looking on, smirking and enjoying themselves. Atiya was the perfect conversation piece. I even thought that maybe she’d been laid on by the organisers. Maybe she was there every week, just to keep things lively.
Just as our date was coming to an end, Atiya took a red transparent sweet wrapper from her bag and held it up to the lamplight at the side of the room. She then proceeded to look through it like a child gazing into a kaleidoscope, turning it slowly to the left and to the right. ‘This is really amazing,’ she said. ‘Here.’ She handed me the wrapper. I stared at her for a while, waiting for her to laugh. In fact, I stared at her as if giant toads had just started pouring from her open mouth. ‘Try it,’ she insisted. ‘The world looks so different this way.’
I tried it. I held the sweet wrapper to my face and looked through it. Jeremy Beadle is dead, I thought, I am not being filmed for bad television. Although that would maybe explain why that cow Tilly was here.
‘Wow,’ I said. ‘Do you think this is how fairies see the world?’ I asked.
‘Yes!!!’ she cried, clapping her hands together three times, as if to summon one.
And that, more or less, was that.
Odd. Really, really odd.
And I could be wrong here – I could be very very very wrong – but there was something in the way she looked at me at the end of our date… I reckon – as I say, I could be wrong – but I reckon she’d definitely do me. But the fact is, desperate though I may be to bury my face in the nether regions of a beautiful woman, or indeed any woman, it would feel too much like taking advantage of a mental patient. And besides that, I probably am wrong.
Physical :: Melanie is what my wonderful racist pseudo-Chinese landlord would term ‘a half-caste’. She is what Keith, particularly when stoned, would call ‘a caramel honey’. Apart from a voluptuousness which makes my fingers twitch with desire, Melanie is fairly nondescript in that way that beautiful people can be. You know, perfect eyes, perfect mouth, perfect everything. Adorable. Breathtaking. Like a tropical sunset. With slightly chubby trees waving in the foreground.
Melanie was my final date, and – as I’d been glancing over at her every once in a while during the changeovers all evening – the one I was most looking forward to. I sat down opposite her at 10.45.
Mental :: Melanie read my name aloud from my badge. Then she shook my hand and said, ‘I don’t know about you but if I have to explain what I do one more time tonight, I think I might have to scream.’
‘I know what you mean,’ I said. ‘I tell you what then, how about, instead of the usual chit-chat paddywhack, I just tell you a story?’
And her eyes lit up, I swear.
‘That sounds great,’ she said. ‘That sounds perfect. I love stories.’
So, I ascertained – in the traditional manner – that she was sitting comfortably. And I began.
‘Once upon a time there was a little boy called Edgar Godsick. Edgar was born in a time of great sadness in the middle of a long, dark winter in the north of England. What made matters even worse was that Edgar was born with two heads.’
Melanie laughed. Then she said, ‘Awww, poor Edgar.’
‘I know,’ I said. ‘Imagine that…
‘At first, his parents were shocked and afraid, and they made Edgar sleep in a drawer. Then after a couple of weeks, when Edgar’s second head didn’t look like going anywhere, they grew angry. They seemed to blame Edgar for his congenital singularity. “Why can’t you have one head like everyone else, you little monster?” they screamed at him. But Edgar didn’t understand. He just looked up at his parents with his little brows furrowed, one set of eyes pointing at his mother, one at his father.
‘Edgar’s parents took their son to the doctor and said, “Our son is a two-headed freak. What are you going to do about it?” The doctor just smiled, although he wasn’t happy, and he said, “Well, what would you like me to do about it?” Exasperated, Edgar’s parents replied, “Why, cut off one of his heads, of course!” The doctor looked at Edgar’s parents quizzically. “But if we cut off one of his heads, your son will die. And you don’t want that, do you?” Edgar’s parents looked at one another but said nothing. “Look,” said the doctor. “Edgar seems perfectly happy with his two heads. And he’s perfectly healthy, so why not try just accepting his extra head and learn to love him anyway? Maybe you could even love him that little bit extra because of his extra head? After all, he’s practically twins.” The doctor smiled. “What do you think?” he said. “I know your son’s second head is a tad unusual, but it’s not the end of the world. And they do say that two heads are better than one. Don’t they? Eh?” He smiled. Edgar’s parents did not smile back. In fact, they scowled, affronted by this imbecile’s levity. “Fine,” they said. “Well, if you won’t help us, we’ll just have to help ourselves.” And off they went.
‘That night at home, Edgar couldn’t sleep. He was hungry. Like most babies, when he was hungry and couldn’t sleep, Edgar cried. Unlike most babies of course, Edgar had two mouths, so when he cried, he was twice as loud. Before very long, Edgar’s mother stormed into his room, shouting at her husband to get out of bed and help.
‘As soon as Edgar was born, Edgar’s mother decided against feeding him herself. The very thought of both of those freakish heads clamped to her breasts made her feel physically ill. Instead, to stop her son’s noise, she stuffed one plastic bottle into one of his mouths while her husband stuffed another into the other. Ten minutes later and Edgar was sound asleep.
‘As he lay there, sleeping, his parents stood over him, shaking their heads. “Why did it happen to us,” asked his mother. “What did we do to deserve such an aberration, such a crime against nature?”
‘“We mustn’t blame ourselves,” said Edgar’s father. “It’s just bad luck.”
‘Edgar’s mother closed her eyes. “Well, I can’t live like this,” she said. “I can’t.” And so saying, she marched out of her son’s bedroom and into the kitchen, returning seconds later with a large bread knife.
‘Her husband’s mouth fell open. “You can’t,” he gasped. “He’s just a baby.”
‘“No, he’s not,” Edgar’s mother snapped. “Babies don’t have two heads. He’s a freak. He’s an animal. The world will be a better place without him.” And with that she moved closer to Edgar and raised the bread knife above his heads.
‘“No,” said Edgar’s father. “I’ve got a better idea.”
‘Edgar’s father then snatched up his son and wrapped him in a scratchy blanket. Placing the scratchy blanket on the backseat of this car, he then drove for four hours to an old church in the small, dark village where he had grown up. He knew the priest there was a good man and would take care of Edgar and give him the life that he deserved. Or else he would assume that Edgar had been sent by the Devil and he would kill him. Either way, Edgar’s parents would be shot of him and they’d be free to return to their nice, normal lives.’
Melanie wiped a little tear away from her eye, but I assumed it was only a pretend tear. ‘Poor little Edgar,’ she said. ‘It wasn’t his fault he was born with two heads.’
‘I know!’ I cried. ‘Life can be so cruel.’
‘Did you make that up?’ she asked.
I nodded and blinked.
‘Not just there and then though?’ she asked.
‘No,’ I had to admit. Neither can I pretend that I told it to Melanie as well as I’ve just told it to you. But apart from some stuttering and minor blushing – I was strangely nervous at the beginning – I think I did OK. I told her that I’d written the first chapter of the Edgar story a while ago, but that I’d never told it to anyone before. She said she was honoured. I agreed that she was.
‘What happens next?’ she wanted to know. ‘Do you know?’
‘Not really,’ I said. ‘Well, I know that the priest is not very nice to him. You know what priests are like.’
Melanie scrunched up her face. ‘Don’t even go there,’ she said.
‘No,’ I agreed. ‘Best not. Then I think he’s rescued from the priest and taken round the country as part of a modern-day freak show. I see it as kind of a children’s version of The Elephant Man.’
‘Cool,’ said Melanie. ‘I like it. I really do.’
‘I believe you,’ I said, perhaps slightly smugly.
‘Is it possible to be born with two heads though?’
'Yeah,’ I said. ‘Doesn’t really matter though. It’s just a story. But yeah, it happens now and then. But then there are all kinds of freaks in this world, aren’t there? Take me, for example. I’m something of a freak myself.’
‘Oh, come on,’ she said. ‘You’re an unusual-looking bloke, I’ll give you that. But you’ve hardly got two heads.’
‘No,’ I conceded. ‘I suppose not.’
‘Are you a writer then? Is that what you do?’
I told her not really. But that I’d like to be. I told her I’d love to write a children’s book about a little boy with two heads. I told her that it is my curse that instead of writing children’s books about boys with two heads, that I have instead to write a bunch of corporate guff that no one ever really reads. And why would they?
‘So are you trying to write other stuff?’ she asked.
‘I am,’ I said. ‘I’m trying.’
‘Good,’ she said. And she nodded. ‘I like a man with ambition.’
Then we talked about books for a while and simply because Melanie liked many of the same books that I did, I fell just a little bit in love with her. There and then. A short while later, I said: ‘So what’s your ambition, Melanie?’
‘I want to save the world,’ said Melanie. And a second later, Satan rang the bell that signified that the last date of the evening was over.
I ignored it. ‘And how do you plan to save the world, Melanie?’ I found that I really enjoyed using her name. It occurred to me that I might want to use it forever. I was drunk. But sincere. Then I noticed that her glass was empty, so I asked her if I could get her another drink, but somehow I realised that our date really was over. I guess it was in her eyes.
‘I’d like to,’ she said, ‘but I’ve really got to get going.’
‘Oh, surely you can’t leave it there,’ I said, ever so slightly petulantly. ‘The world needs to be saved, Melanie, and I need to know how it’s going to happen. Please.’
Oh dear. I was begging. How unbecoming.
‘I’m really sorry,’ she said, and to everyone’s credit, she did look it. ‘I promised one of the other guys I’d go on somewhere with him.’
I turned my head to follow Melanie’s gaze to the bar. Please, God, I thought instinctively, don’t let it be Keith.
It wasn’t. Oh. Then I felt sorry that it wasn't Keith. At least if it had been Keith, and he and Melanie started going out, I’d definitely see her again, and there’d always be the chance that when Keith fucked up, I could get involved on the rebound again, as is my wont.
Actually, I didn’t think any of that till much later.
‘Aaaah,’ I said, checking out the other bloke. ‘He’s quite a catch. Well done.’ I sounded bitter, and I hated myself for it. So I smiled to try and counteract the bitterness, but it was a bitter smile, so it rather backfired.
‘It’s just a drink,’ said Melanie. ‘I honestly don’t think it’ll go anywhere, but he works for Amnesty, and I’ve got a soft spot for compassionate men.’
I enjoyed the fact that she was at least attempting to sweeten the bitter pill of rejection by voicing her doubts, but at the same time I felt a bit pathetic.
I wanted her.
‘Well, look,’ I said, ‘I hope it all goes really well and it was magnificent talking to you, it really was.’ She reciprocated, which was nice. ‘I think you’re rather lovely as it goes,’ I continued suavely, ‘and if you ever want to continue the conversation, you should definitely give me a call.’
‘Well, I’d need your number for that,’ said Melanie.
‘Well, you’d better take it,’ I said, and she took out her mobile phone and keyed in my details.
‘Are you going to give me yours?’ I asked.
‘Nah,’ she said. ‘This way I get to retain all the power. Which is exactly how I like it.’
And with that, she stood up, gave me a peck on the elbow of my right temple and left with another man.
Two hours later, I lay down on my bed, naked, alone and monumentally aroused. I thought of Melanie - whom I definitely love - and I thought about the fact that she was probably tied up with Mr Amnesty at that exact moment. Yes, as I lay there forlornly fondling my futile engorgement, she was probably naked in his bed, hungrily lapping at his philanthropic cock as he read out a list of political prisoners he’d helped emancipate. No doubt I was long-forgotten. Me and my dumb-ass two-headed baby stories.
I felt sorry for myself. So I had a wank and went to sleep.
In reality though, loneliness aside, I went to sleep feeling really good. Like I'd said to Cindy, it wasn’t about finding a girlfriend. It was about going speed dating. And I’d done it. I’d got off my flabby cheeks and I’d gone out and talked to a bunch of (mostly very) strange women without too much shame. Actually without any shame. And without too much embarrassment. And six months ago, I would never, ever, ever have dared.
So well done me.
And you know what? I may even do it again.
(But not for a while.)
(Post-match analysis tomorrow.)
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
I still haven’t figured out whether speed dating is a wonderful, ingenious idea with the power to transform lives and create wonderful relationships, or actually even more inhumane than juggling kittens. I guess it depends on the person sitting opposite you. But even if you luck out and meet someone you can actually get along with, it’s still basically costly torture, with an outside chance of something life-altering developing amidst the pain and humiliation. Or do I exaggerate?
I'm still not sure.
The speed dating event I attended was on the other side of London and wasn’t strictly speaking ‘speed dating’. I believe with old school speed dating, you get around two or three minutes to make your mark; we had ten to fifteen minutes – ten if it was going badly; fifteen is it was going well.
As we stood at the bar waiting for the first round of dates to begin, I must admit I was very glad that Keith was there with me. If I’d have been on my own, I’d have been bilious with nerves. As it was, I was just slightly gassy. So as I stood there, trying to surreptitiously swallow another mouth fart, the woman running the evening – who looked like a permatanned Lynndie England - explained how it would work.
There were ten women and ten men, which meant ten dates each in two and a half hours, with the women assigned their own table and the men moving from date to date like giant, knicker-sniffing wasps. It was quite an ordeal, and basically a production line, the males slowly paraded in front of the females like incomplete consumer durables, holding up their shoddy personalities to the light of quality control, trotting out their stories and their questions and their jokes like tramps emptying their pockets looking for pound coins they know they’ve already spent. It was a seduction line.
I popped a mint in my mouth, fixed my name tag to my lapel and promptly fainted.
I didn’t really faint. Sorry. I’ve never fainted. Instead I did what I was told, followed Lynndie England’s pointing finger and sat myself down opposite date number one.
(As always, names have been changed to protect the vulnerable and the insane. And me.)
Physical :: Gloria didn’t look like a Gloria. Gloria looked more like a Mildred. But appearances can be deceptive. I know, I know.
Gloria had, and presumably still has, small features: narrow eyes and a tiny pinched mouth which, in my presence at least, refused to smile. She had short brown hair and a thin, skeletal face. She looked like she hated me, frankly. Maybe she did.
Mental :: Although I had rehearsed most of what I ended up saying to Gloria – or at least imagined myself saying it - I was still rather surprised frankly, to hear it coming out of my mouth. ‘So, Gloria, tell me, have you ever seen thousands of tiny turtles scampering across a mighty beach on a moonlit night?’
Her expression didn’t falter. The cat’s rectum of her mouth opened slightly however, to release the words, ‘I’m sorry?’
‘You know, like when thousands of turtles all lay their eggs in the sand. In South America maybe. Then one night, when the moon is bright and high, all of the eggs, millions of them, all hatch at once and all these baby turtles start scampering towards the sea. You must have seen in on The Living Earth or something. Have you never seen that?’
‘What are you talking about?’ Gloria was shaking her head as she spoke. ‘Why are you asking me about that?’
So this was speed dating. I cringed. My cheeks turned cold. I felt sad. ‘I dunno, I...’ I shrugged. ‘I guess I like turtles. No reason other than that. Are you not a fan?’
She shrugged right back at me and curled up a single nostril. ‘Not really, no.’
‘So what do you do?’ she asked, out of nought but contemptuous obligation.
‘I’m a pole vaulter,’ I said. I couldn’t help myself. I was actually quite upset that my turtle opener had fallen on such wilfully deaf ears.
Gloria stared at me with an expression which said, ‘So, not only are you ugly, but you’re also an absolute fucking idiot.’
‘And you?’ I said.
‘I work in investment banking,’ she said. ‘I’m a trust fund manager.’
I laughed. ‘Wicked,’ I said. ‘That’s really brilliant. So tell me, Gloria, do you like bats?’
Her face contracted, reminding me, ironically enough, of a startled turtle disappearing into its shell. ‘What are you saying? Are you trying to be funny?’
‘No!’ I cried. I wasn’t. ‘We’re here to meet people, to get to know them. I’m trying to get to know you, Gloria. Trying to find out what you like. Trying to find out, specifically, if you like bats. It’s not that odd, surely.’
‘Yes,’ she cried, exasperated. ‘It is. What have bats got to do with anything?’
‘OK, OK, I’m sorry.’ I held out my hands, palms open and facing out, somewhere between us. ‘We’ve not got off to the best of starts, I think that’s safe to say. Probably that’s down to the sexual tension between us….’
I smiled, amusing myself enormously. Gloria’s mouth fell open like a broken trap. ‘I can assure you there is no such thing between us.’
I swear, this woman had absolutely no sense of humour.
‘Denial,’ I said. ‘The second of the first five stages of attraction. It goes like this…’ I counted them out on my fingers. ‘Fascination, denial, arousal, intercourse, repulsion.’
And that was that. We were only about five minutes into our date and Gloria had had enough. She pushed back her chair noisily, stood up and marched out of the room. I assumed at first she’d just gone to the loo or some such and would be back in time for her next date, but I realised later – when she didn’t return - that she’d gone for good.
I was flabbergasted. I wondered if I’d set some kind of record.
I wondered if Gloria had been speed dating before. I imagined not. I wondered if she’d ever go again. I imagined not. Definitely not. I imagined her telling her friends about the freakish mentalist whose idea of seduction was to ramble on about bats and turtles till she had no option but to leave in an almighty strop. I imagined her writing me up on her blog. ‘Physical :: Fat. Ugly. Face like a bag of elbows. Mental :: Definitely mental. Incapable of holding a normal conversation.’
I wondered if one of the other men in the room was her ideal partner whom she would now never meet. I kind of hoped so. Which was wrong of me.
I thought about this as I sat there, at an empty table, with every other woman in the room trying not to think about the fact that very soon they too would have to spend at least ten minutes with the big ugly freak who - within minutes – has women running screaming from the building. (She wasn’t actually screaming.) (And for what it's worth, I think there was probably something else going on beyond her seeming irritation with my conversational skills. She'd probably had some bad news or something. Or she was insane in some way. Surely?)
At which point I briefly considered getting up and leaving myself, but then, with something of a shock, I realised that I had no intention of leaving because, against all expectations, I was actually enjoying myself, and very much looking forward to my next date.
Physical :: Cindy was actually Lucinda, a posh girl with high, erubescent cheeks and bright blue eyes which were sweetly beady. Cindy was so far out of my league that she was actually playing a different sport. Happily, that didn’t matter, because for the time being we were both playing on the same field. Sadly – if I may extend the metaphor till it splinters like a butterscotch hymen in a flux capacitor - I had a set of darts and a catcher’s mitt; Cindy had a speed boat and a light sabre.
She also had a spicy blonde bob and tiny white teeth which she covered with her right hand whenever she laughed.
Mental :: ‘Hi,’ said Lucinda, pumping my hand like a lumberjack. ‘How are you?’
‘Well if you want to know the truth,’ I said, ‘I’m a tad hacked off. I don’t know if you noticed, but my first date turned a little sour.’
Lucinda didn’t know whether to admit that she’d noticed or pretend that she hadn’t, so instead, she opened her eyes wide and drew her bottom lip into her mouth. It was quite an effect, and I took it as a sign for me to continue. So I continued. ‘I don’t know what it was,’ I said. ‘But I think it was because she was a little intimidated by my looks.’
At this stage I should probably mention that before we left the house, Keith and I shared a bottle and a half of excellent red wine. Kind of pathetic I know, inasmuch as it was rather cowardly of us, but it really, really helped.
‘You’re not bad-looking yourself,’ I continued. ‘You must have got the same thing once in a while. People get jealous, and they lash out. I guess they don’t like to be made to seem inferior.’ Cindy was still sucking on her bottom lip, seemingly unsure as to whether to laugh or to run screaming from the room herself. Which I realised would be rather amusing. I told her so. ‘It would be very funny if you left too now,’ I said. ‘Just got up and walked out like the first one. Go on, I dare you. It would be hilarious.’
‘No, I’m alright,’ she said. ‘I think I can handle your beauty.’ I gave her a look which was meant to suggest that many a woman has made that mistake, but it was probably just more of a leer. ‘So what do you do?’ she said.
‘I’m a pole vaulter,’ I said.
She had a lovely laugh, Lucinda, like cow bells in a wind tunnel, and when she let it out then, it was a great relief.
‘You cover your mouth when you laugh,’ I said, rather unnecessarily. Then I realised… was that a neg? Was I gaming this woman? Good Lord, I’m smooth. ‘I’m a copy writer really,’ I said, ‘although not in an interesting way. I’ve written the copy for websites for both trade unions and chartered accountants. My life is that exciting. What about you?’
‘I’m a tree surgeon,’ said Cindy.
Then it was my turn to laugh. I also covered my mouth, just to make her feel at home. ‘But you had to give it up ‘cause you couldn’t stand the sight of sap, right? Is that what happened?’
The hand came up again, like clockwork. ‘No, honest, I really am. I work for the Tree Council.’
‘Get out of it,’ I said. ‘What Tree Council?’ I thought she was making it up, but she wasn’t.
‘That’s pretty cool,’ I guessed. ‘What do you think about bats then? You must like bats?’
‘I love bats!’ she said. ‘I even went on a bat walk a couple of months ago.’
‘You never did!’
And so Cindy and I talked about bats for a while. And then we talked about speed dating. She asked me if I’d done it before. Then she asked me why I was doing it. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘believe it or not, I don’t meet people well.’ That was a line from Adaptation which I’d always wanted to use.
‘What do you mean?’ she asked.
‘Oh. I guess I mean that I’m a big ugly bugger with a fairly unpleasant physical presence and women are generally discouraged by this.’
‘Oh, come on,’ said Cindy.
‘Oh, come on yourself,’ I said. ‘You know it’s true. Anyway, the reason I’m here is not necessarily to find a girlfriend, although that would be ideal, but more just to force myself into these situations. You know? Because I refuse to hide away anymore.’
‘Well, good for you,’ she said. ‘I think that’s really admirable.’
‘Me too,’ I said. ‘Here’s to me.’ And we drank to me. Then – a sign that I was actually quite tipsy – I told her about the blog.
‘Oooh, will I be in it?’ she wanted to know.
‘Maybe,’ I said. ‘If you play your cards right.’
Then she asked me what it was called and I said that if I told her, I would then have to torture and kill her, which I think kind of frightened her a tiny bit. So I gave her a winning smile. And suddenly it was time to move on.
So, that was the first two of my ten dates. Five of the next eight were – and I say this with no disrespect intended whatsoever – fairly unremarkable, so I’m going to rush through them now.
Meena was a slightly stuck-up Indian girl who worked in PR and told me that if she didn’t find a bloke tonight, she was going to become a lesbian; Kath had ratlike features and was a colleague of Meena’s with prominent gums and an unhealthy obsession with someone called Kaká - how I chortled; Clare liked George Clooney (yawn) and vodka and Red Bull. She also worked with Kath and Meena and seemed a little upset when I suggested that she might end up spending the night in a lesbian threesome; Meg looked like Emily Lloyd and insisted that I should be on television but couldn’t quite put her finger on why, or in what capacity; Jane liked short men with ‘really shit hot bodies’ and wanted to know all about my eczema. She had a face like a tapir. (By the way, I reckon I’m allowed to allude to other people’s physical shortcomings - 'ratlike features', 'face like a tapir' - because I am a card-carrying member of the Ugly Club and with that comes a certain very small number of perks. One of which is the right to call a spud a spud, in much the same was as black people are allowed to call one another ‘nigger’... ‘Alright, Tapir-face.’ ‘Alright, Elbows.’)
The other three dates however, were – for very different reasons, worthy of a little more attention. There names were Tilly, Atiya and Melanie, and I shall tell you about them on Thursday.
Until then, pip pip, and keep hope alive.
Friday, 4 July 2008
bulk :: 16st 0 (aaaaarrrgh! When am I going to break that bastard's back?)
cigarettes :: 0
joints :: 0
alcohol :: some
runs :: 2 (seems I don’t want to fuck the horse at all. Seems I shall spend the rest of my life a big paunchy mediocre bastard. Why can’t I have Rafael Nadal’s body?! Why?! Oh yes, because I am mentally and physically lazy. ROAR!!!! Where is my passion?! Why aren’t I a roaring boy? Balls to me. What I deserve is a really good hiding.)
swims :: 0 (lazy shitbag)
chocolate biscuits :: 0 (progress!)
Odd Couple-style arguments with Keith :: 7 (one about not throwing things away; one about throwing things away; one about tennis; one about Keith not doing enough art; one about him not commenting on the comments on his blog; two about women)
games of tennis :: 1 (back spazzed out again – so why the hell haven’t I been to a chiropodist yet? I must want to be a failure.) (Chiropractor. I mean chiropractor.)
wanks :: 412 (meh)
So. It’s official. I am on heat. Two weeks now, and in that time I have become transformed. I am now nothing more than a giant pulsating testicle. Sixteen stone of stagnant sticky manwash enclosed in a diaphanous sheath of sweat, hair and cellulite. Any moment now I could snap, crackle and pop, splashing my spicy clam right in your eye.
Really. It feels like it's becoming untenable.
So. Earlier this week I figured, before I become a danger to anything in a brassiere, I’d better do something about it. (I would never really become a danger to anything in a brassiere. Honest I wouldn’t.)
Persuading Keith was actually much easier than I thought. At first he was like, ‘Get fucked. What am I, desperate?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah’, and he was like, ‘Get a life, bozo’, and I was like, ‘Why are you talking like that, you great nonce?’ and he was like, ‘Whatever’. Then I said, ‘Although you might not be desperate, many of the women in the room with you will be, and you’ll most likely be able to trick one of them into thinking you might be able to love her, just long enough to slip inside her and damage her forever, you vile misogynist.’
He thought about this for a moment.
‘OK,’ he said. ‘But you’d better be right.’
Men are monsters.
But women are monsters too.
And so it was that Keith and I went speed dating last night. And boy oh boy oh boy oh boy was it fun. Well was it? Actually, it was. But I can’t possibly begin to talk about it now. It’ll take me all weekend to
Lust is awful, isn’t it? I mean, I think it’s awful. You might not. I'm finding it overwhelming at the moment. I feel like I’m half here. At best.
Have a splendid weekend.
Tuesday, 1 July 2008
Is it just me or is the internet eerily quiet at the moment? Maybe it’s something to do with the hot weather, or maybe everyone’s on holiday. I don’t know. Maybe you’re all locked in a dank toilet pleasuring yourselves with tingle-lube. Or maybe, better still, you’re all too busy stroking each other’s napes or nibbling each other’s perinea to bother with all this virtual nonsense. Well, good for you. I’m very happy for you, and not at all jealous.
No, not at all. I'm perfectly happy here on my own, treading sulphur in this mighty, murky slough of despond. Don't worry about me. You shits.
The good news is, I may have found a flat in North London, although not until October or November, but it’s looking good. Even better news is that I have discovered that North London is full of really excellent characters. Not the bog-standard God-botherers and lobotomy-dodgers you get in South East London, but a much, much higher class of God-botherers and lobotomy-dodgers.
This lady I spied in Kentish Town a little while ago for example. It was blowing an absolute gale, and yet still she stood, cleaved to the side of the road trying with all her might to foist a Messiah flyer into the godless mitts of unsaved passers-by.
And just a few days ago I came across this wildly unstable individual in Exmouth Market.
My hands were shaking so much through utter terror that I was unable to take a decent photo. But here’s another one of him lurching toward me.
Aaaaah, North London. I can't wait.
In other news, I have finally caught up with replying to recent comments. Most of you won’t care I know, but one or two of you might, and it’s for you that I mention it now.
Have a great day.