Monday, 15 March 2010

[Self-Promotion] The Qype Interview

A little while ago I received an email from a man called Cedric. Cedric works for Qype and wanted to do some kind of partnership thing wherein I would plug Qype, and Qype would interview me and link to my blog or book or something. As it happens, I'd just started using the Qype Radar app on my phone and had been very impressed by it. Also - fortuitously - I do enjoy talking about myself endlessly, so I thought, why the hell not. So here we are. Here's the interview here...

Can you tell Qypers who you are and what you do?

Certainly. My name is Stan and I'm an ugly man. As for what I do, I've just recently started sub-editing at a magazine in which I have almost less than zero interest. It's my first 9-5 job and if you want to know the truth, it's making me want to rip out my own throat with a bon-bon scoop. The job's all right, don't get me wrong, but the whole work thing just seems so utterly pointless. If I didn’t have jumbo debts and endless capitalist hankerings, there's no way in a gazillion years I'd do it.

Apart from that, I also write a blog which got turned into a book. It's a wonderful book too, and I say that because a) I'm trying to learn how to sell myself, in order that I might one day properly satisfy my capitalist hankerings, and b) it happens to be true. The paperback comes out at the end of May. I've decided to come out myself then too because I'm fed up with being anonymous and I want to have a party. You can come if you like.

Bring a gift.

What prompted you to start your book, and what elements do you think have contributed to it being published and becoming popular?

Well, the book followed on naturally from the blog, but I started the blog because I was hoping it would help me find True Love. And here we are over two years on and my only playmate is a plastic can with a silicone mouth. I'm still hoping though, you know. Keep hope alive.

And I think the reason the book got published and then became so phenomenally popular (ho ho) is that it manages to be both bowel-loosingly funny and bum-clenchingly sad, often at EXACTLY THE SAME TIME.

With all the praise from the critics and readers so far, when can we expect another book?

I don't know. There are a couple of things I'm working on at the moment, but now that I'm gainfully employed, opportunities to actually write are few and far between. Hence the ergophobia. And it's a shame because I think writing is what I do best. When you think about it though, there must be millions and millions of people who are unable to do what they do best because they're obliged to spend most of their waking lives hawking flash watches or stitching pockets on casual slacks. Or whatever. It's kind of insane, I think. But yeah, that's life. Mustn't grumble. (Can't help it.)

What would your tip be for those people who are still thinking, struggling and on the verge of finishing their own books?

Whatever you do, don't get a 9-5. If you've already got one, quit it. More seriously, however, or more practically at least - don't give up. And maybe put some of what you've written online. If you can get readers online - or at least pretend you've got them - publishers are more likely to take a risk on getting you into print. And then if you’re lucky, somebody you really fancy might want to sleep with you.

You are also responsible for a well-known blog. Do you have any tips for balancing your time and staying calm?

Staying calm, you say? I think you've got me confused with somebody else. I'm absolutely furious, more or less constantly these days.

What would your perfect London Sunday consist of? (Let's assume it's a perfect Sunday weather-wise, and the tube is working perfectly, and you have a perfect bank balance.)

Well, if we're fantasising, we really might as well go crazy. So, I am awoken at 7.30 by the delectable sensation of someone's hot wet mouth snuffling round my nethers. Who is it? It's Audrey Tautou! I'm not surprised of course, as we've been living together in my glorious four-bedroom flat overlooking Hampstead Heath for a few months now.

With the morning sun squealing gently through the open windows like a giant nurse, we make sweet love till we're both quite sore, then we shower, dress, spring aboard our titanium tandem and ride into London proper. The whole of the city has been pedestrianised and made cycle-friendly by now of course - this was one of the first of the Great Changes I implemented during my historic first term as London Mayor. For which I was knighted. And then made King.

We cycle down through Belsize Park and into Camden, where we pick up the ingredients for a Bloody Mary-themed picnic. Audrey insists on stocking up on sausages from Camden Market. She loves sausages. She can eat twelve in one sitting. She eats like a stoned horse actually, but she never gets fat.

We enjoy a leisurely picnic in the roasting sunshine in Regent's Park and then cycle into Leicester Square where my favourite cinema - the newly-refurbished Prince Charles - is showing Paul Thomas Anderson's Bête de Jour, the film of my life, with me playing myself and Audrey playing Audrey in the fantasy sequence. Before we go into the cinema, we smoke a giant bifta in front of the Charlie Chaplin statue in the little park in the square. (The public consumption of phytocannabinoids was decriminalised during my second mayoral term.)

I miss much of the film because Audrey is being naughty, but the standing ovation speaks volumes.

After which, we stroll down to the Embankment, hop in a speedboat and shoot over to Tower Bridge and City Hall, the take-off point for our balloon trip.

The dim sum from Dragon Castle is waiting in the hot tray, the champagne is in the ice buckets and before we know it, we're up, up and away. I've had my balloon pilot's licence for a couple of years by this point so it's just myself and Audrey in the basket. In case you're wondering, there is only one thing in the world better than being in a balloon over London on a hot summer's evening, and that's making love to your movie star girlfriend in a balloon over London on a hot summer's evening. From behind. (We later discover that this was when we conceived our first daughter, Giblet.)

We're somewhere over Primrose Hill when I take out the ring I picked up in Hatton Garden a couple of weeks previously. It's got rubies in it.

Audrey says yes.

We soar.

We're back on the ground by 9pm, just in time to take a cab to the Hope & Anchor in Islington where Talking Heads have reformed for one night only. The gig is emotional, venereal, phenomenal. David Byrne insists I get onstage and accompany the band on ukulele for This Must Be the Place.

The after-show party is at The Phoenix Artist Club in Charing Cross. We all get spangled. Mark Owen is there. David Byrne poops in his coat pocket. He's such a one. Scarlett Johannsson is there too. She tries to get off with me. I tell her no. She weeps.

At a quarter past four Audrey and I take a rickshaw back to Hampstead. She is wearing my jacket because she gets a bit chilly. Her head is on my chest. Her ring is shining. (Don't even go there.) She looks up at me smiling. ''Ave you 'ad a nice day, Stanley?' she whispers.

'I've had the best day,' I reply. 'The best.'

And I have.

Give us one place which you think every Londoner should have in their little black book of hidden gems.

One of my favourite places is called ScooterCaffe. It's one of those places that have all kinds of junk everywhere - old signs, coffee machines, motorbikes. It used to be a scooter-fixing place apparently, so there are Vespas scattered about, and much of the stuff hanging from the walls is Italian. Also, there are cats roaming about, and any place with cats roaming about is a wonderful place.

It's also the kind of place where you'll get talking to someone and then you'll find out that they're enormously talented. This woman, for example. Listen to her voice. She works behind the bar there. I know, I know. Work sets you free, my arse.

Anyway, this place already gets too full, so don't go there. Thanks.

Go instead to the Duke Thai restaurant just around the corner, over the top of the Crown and Cushion pub. It's not much to look at, but the food is fantastic and cheap and the family that run it are just lovely. Even though they let their little boy eats Greggs pasties.

Oh, one more thing: just round the corner again is St John's Church, just opposite Waterloo station, where every Thursday evening they give free concerts.

They call them Rush Hour Concerts, offering 'a post-work spectacle infinitely better than a sweaty packed train'. They even give you free wine. Which is pretty damn cool for a church. Or indeed, for any place.

I should probably stop now. And I didn't even get started on Soho, which is probably my favourite bit of London, and where I want to move to somewhere in the next year. If you're reading this, and you can help facilitate that, please do so. I'd be ever so grateful.

God, I love London.

Do you love London? You do?! Wicked. Tell me, what do you like best about it?

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Anonymous said...

Just one off the top of my head - a little restaurant called Loreli's in Soho. It's small and shabby with formica tables and a really bad mural of a topless mermaid waving from a rock. The clientele are always varied and rather odd and it's usually filled with chatter.

The owners are an exceptionally nice Italian man and a Chinese (? Sorry lady I don't know where you're from) woman. They make the most amazing pizzas costing around the region of 5 - 7 quid. And it's byo.

It's my favourite eatery in Soho.

Anonymous said...

If I could name my daughter Giblet then I'd feel more positive about committing to the idea of procreation

La Bête said...

Ah, yes, Lorelei you mean. Other people have advised that but I've never actually made it in. I must make more of an effort.

AMP, what's to stop you? (Apart from some vestigial sense of decency and a more sensible mother?)

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the de-anonymising. How do you feel about coming out?

In any event, hopefully it will help with sales of the paperback.

Marketing a 'faceless' debut hardback was always going to be an uphill struggle for the publishers.

Now they've got no excuse...


Heck said...

My favourite place in London is the bar in Waterstones in Piccadilly. Fantastic views over the city. Bit expensive though.

Alexandra Sheppard said...

Noooo! Don't tell everyone about ScooterCaffe :-(

Anonymous said...

Poor Audrey, she's been rogered senseless and then David poops himself.

Cafe Em in Soho was always very good food and an unpretentious place.

I didn't realise at the time it's opposite a casting agency, which went some way to explaining why five dwarves (perfectly formed) were hanging around a door, like a sinister homunculus gang. Turns out they couldn't reach the door bell for the agency.

donatella said...

I'm happy to hear you love London. It's my favourite place on earth. I always wonder about people who say they hate London - I fear they are lacking a soul. They are certainly lacking in inspiration.

SE1 - the very area near Waterloo you mention - is one of the most magical places on earth. It's full of hidden gems, even in the darkest of places. If more people took the time to look up while roaming through London, they'd see some of the most magnificent architecture in this world - from the archways, to the iron doors and lead windows, Victorian warehouses and narrow Dickensian passageways, all sandwiched between 60s architectural failures and modern works of art.

The Prince Charles is a heavenly place. It's where that man sat and masturbated through Schindler's List. It needs no refurbishment, Stan. That's what makes it so special.

I urge all your readers to take the time to discover London. Set out on a warm, sunny Saturday morning and see where your feet take you. You'll fall in love with London – again and again.

Stan, I feel sure you'll find love when you least expect it. It will find you... xx

A Twitter Friend

La Bête said...

Hey, Welly, I’m looking forward to it. I can finally meet all you lovely people and root out the loonies. You coming to the party?

Heck, yes, very expensive. I believe the waitresses wear quite special blouses though, so I guess you’re paying extra for that.

Don’t worry, Shep, no one reads this damn thing anyway.

Hello, Anon. If they were perfectly formed, are you sure they weren’t midgets? Very funny story though. I lolled. I will look out for Café Emm too. It looks nice.

Hi ATF. Thanks for that. The Prince Charles has just been refurbished though, whether it needed it or not. That bit wasn’t fantasy.

misspiggy said...

The 606 Club off Kings Road. And Hot Pepper Jelly in Crouch End. Each is both lovely and unique, and very small and cramped, so you feel extra smug and special that you got in.

justrestingmyeyes said...

Every time I go into the 12 Bar club on Denmark Street, I see something that blows my mind right out of my skull-space. Something about the tiny stage and the haughty regulars makes every random band that plays there oh-my-God-this-is-the-best-band-I've-ever-seen-oh-my-God-oh-my-God-oh-my-GOD.

Too bad my 12 Bar Club pal, the only one who would nod approvingly and tag along when the pub rang last orders and my 12 Bar Club homing instinct kicked in with a fiery vengence, has gone and emigrated to bloody TURKEY.

And so my 12 Bar days may be over, which is a shame. But I still highly recommend it.

Tim Footman said...

I do hope Audrey Tautou doesn't Google herself.

La Bête said...

Piggy, I don’t know either of those places – probably because I’m so desperately uncool.

Eyes, I’ve never been there either, but just looking at their website, I think I’m absolutely definitely going to have to go. £5 lifetime membership guarantees always having a place to go - for free - till 3am, should one require it, as one so often does. Sod the music. Thanks for that. I’m on it.

Tim, I hope she does. It’s the only chance I’ll have to actually snag her. Is that the right word?

Anonymous said...

Bonjour La Bête,
Is the party still planned for the friday 4th of june ?
Uncle Did

La Bête said...

It most certainly is, Monsieur Did. I've just got to pin down a location.

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

"a stoned horse"

I spent a few seconds imagining a horse that had had its stone removed. You know, like a prune that has no hard bit in the middle. I imagined that horses would probably have quite large stones in their middles, and the removal would create a large hole which would then need filling with food.

I actually thought that was what you meant, until front-brain gave back-brain a good kick up the arse and told it not to be so silly.


As for London, what I like best is its bigness. And its busyness. And its loudfullofpeopleness. I find that very exciting, and having never lived there I still get a bit OohImInLondon squealy when I visit, and those bright lights big city still go to this baby's head.

Now I want to come to London. Ooh! I can! I will! When you have your party! Except that I still suspect I am not worthy and will end up sitting on my own in a pub somewhere while the real deal happens elsewhere entirely.

Can I just say though, that the you-and-Audrey-and-a-balloon sequence was bloody lovely, and a very good example of why I think you're such a good writer? If only I had your imagination.

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

Do prunes even have stones? Was I thinking of plums? Are prunes in fact dried plums?

Gah. I am a fruit dunce.

Prunes and plums are both euphemisms for testicles though, I think.

But I only just thought of that.

Anonymous said...

A very touching story of your perfect day. I must say, if i was a man, i couldn't think this day could have got any better. Saying that, even as a woman, i wouldn't kick Audrey out of bed for eating crackers.

I also couldn't agree with you more about the ScooterCaffe, in fact, i don't think that there is another place in London that i would rather spend my evenings. Not that i'm even given that fucking choice.

Anyway, must dash. But really, I laughed (and cried, at precisely the same time) all the way through reading this. Well done that man. (I mean Woman.. Do i have to keep your gender a mystery as well? Blimey this is hard work.)

Catofstripes said...

ah well Bete, I'd very much like to come to your party but suspect I'll be on the wrong side of the channel on the appointed date. Which is a pity. You'll have to do a special post to let all us disenfranchised readers know how it went.

And I like London. I particularly like the Walworth Road, don't ask me why...

Anonymous said...

When I was but a lass of 20 (I shan't say how long ago that was), I crossed the channel and made my way to London, by myself, for my first visit (I was living in France at the time, but am in fact Canadian). I spent the two weeks of Easter holidays wandering, meeting other youth hostelers (hostelites?), making love (mostly with a street magician, oddly enough), and generally acquiring a lifetime passion for the city.

One of the more recent times I was there, I spent two lovely days having sex with a man and a woman I met on the internet. Where else would I have chosen to do such a thing?

I can't tell you one specific place in London that I recommend or remember... I just know that when I'm there, my heart sings. And, apparently, I have sex a lot.

Anonymous said...

I fucking hate London, but you're beginning to win me round. I've had a couple of very lovely weekends there lately. My favourite thing in London is the Serpentine Gallery, particularly when it's full of Cornelia Parker's bits of spoons and metal and stuff, all glimmering and reflecting the water outside.


La Bête said...

BS, don’t be silly. Of course you must come, and of course you are worthy. I think you need to go on a positive thinking course. Before you come preferably.

Thanks, Anon. Please hush your mouth about my vejahjah.

CoS, of course, it will be my pleasure. Just as the Walworth Road is your pleasure. I hate riding my bike along the Walworth Road, and generally I find it vile, but I think know what you mean. It is very London. And of course Charlie Chaplin was brought up there. So that makes it damn cool.

Marianne, Marianne, you and your sex, I don’t know.

Spidey, I’m sure you’ll grow to love it. I hated it too for a while, but as I grew happier in myself, I grew happier in London – not that I’m saying that’s what you need to do, but maybe you do. I don’t know. Places are pretty much what you make them though, I do believe that, and I know there’s enough in London to love if you have a mind to love it.

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

Yay! I'm looking forward to it. I shall turn it into An Official Adventure* and make time to sample all the most enticing Londonly delights detailed here.

*Hmm. I suspect adventures are much more fun when they're unofficial. Will have to think about that.