Thursday, 7 October 2010

A few more text messages have been exchanged but no meeting as yet. It’s becoming rather unlikely there ever will be.

The next one she sent after my last post was to ask if I was on “the dreaded Facebook”. This was obviously a ploy to find out what I looked like. I thought about replying saying that I’m not telling, or lying and saying I wasn’t. But her investigations were fair enough. I wouldn’t mind getting a reminder myself. So I gave her my surname and a brief description of my affected profile photo.

All of this after a few minutes of frantically de-tagging photos, of course. Actually I only de-tagged 4 or 5, and they really shouldn’t have been allowed to exist for anyone’s perusal.

It was all a waste of time as she replied saying that she wasn’t on Facebook! She said she’d deactivated her account but would re-emerge next week and look me up. That never happened.

About a week later, last Friday, she sent a text apologising for not being in touch and saying how busy she’d been. Could we meet next week (now this week)? I didn’t reply till Sunday, not for any game playing reason, just wasn’t sure what to answer. I was feeling ill so didn’t feel like it. I also had to help Charlie prepare his cycle clothing brand for the bike show this weekend. That was the excuse I gave her.

The cycle clothing story is quite a long one. It could have been great news, but ended up as only good news. I won’t go into too much detail for two reasons: it’s boring and I probably shouldn’t divulge all the details as this place is probably the only place that has a link to it thus far.

The much abridged version is that I’m going to help out Charlie with his cycle clothing business. He’s put up all the cash (for stock), so initially I won’t see any cash, while that debt is cleared. But if things go well I could buy in further down the line. At the moment it’s just a good way for me to get experience in the industry and learn more generally about running a business.

The website is www.torm.cc. There are a lot of ways in which I’d like to improve it. But it’s now up and running, which is pretty exciting, and Charlie’s at the bike show today. I’ll be helping him on Saturday and Sunday.

Any suggestions for improvements of the site are welcome. The only thing that’s 100% excellent is the male model on the front page.

Back to the most protracted organisation of a date I’ve ever known... When I suggested meeting next week H&H said she may be abroad but that hopefully our paths will cross eventually. I’ll send her another text on Saturday or Sunday. It was perhaps stupid to brush her off this week, but I am still feeling like shit physically.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Ah hubris, my old friend. Got bumped by H&H. She activated her get out clause of an early start on Wednesday. She has a costume fitting for a extra part she has in a film on Thursday. Intriguing.

I replied suggesting we do the fitting on Tuesday night. No of course I didn't. I'm chivalrous, right?

I suggested meeting next week. No reply as yet.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

I plucked up enough courage to text H&H and ask her out. I dressed it up in my mind as good blog fodder, but it wasn't really that. More that I thought it wasn't worth not asking out a girl who I drunkenly fancied. Moderately expurgated, the exchange went as follows:


Hi [H&H]. We met last Sunday at The Troubadour at the end of the night. Don't know if you remember.. it was a pretty brief meeting. I wondered if you wanted to meet again for a bit longer. Ed
8:48:12pm

Hi Ed oh dear please refresh my memory I was a bit intoxicated.. Sorry!!!
8:50:43pm

Yeah yeah my memory isn't great either(1). You asked me how old I was but didn't believe me--32--and then left with your friend whose name I didn't catch. She had blonde hair(2). Probably best to consult her. We were all outside together.(3)
9:10:47pm

She was worse then (sic) me so I doubt she will remember! Ok I have a vague memory... Very vague! I am probably going away next wknd but maybe (sic) free at some point this wk. Apart from wednesday/Thursday. What did you want to do?
9:13:58pm

Tuesday? I want to suggest a drink so I will. We might not remember it.
9:24:36pm

Funny:-) (sic) Am on a detox now so not drinking sorry! Can watch you get drunk though. I have just moved out of central London and in [..]. Where were you thinking?
9:26:10pm

I'm in [..] which is on your line right? There's a bar called [..] near there. 8pm? My phone's about to run out of battery. If it does I'll ignore that sign from god/the pope and take it as a "yes". (4)
9:33:54pm

Ok let's communicate before just incase (sic) as I may have an early costume fitting on wed morning in which case will not want a late one. Have a good nite and charge you phone:-) (sic)
9:35:42pm

1) Not really true obviously. A poor attempt to appear carefree.

2) I really wanted to capitalise 'blonde'.

3) Desperately listing everything about the meeting, apart from the 'kissing', and it doesn't amount to much.

4) I was quite pleased with this--allowing me to not have to write any more texts. It was true, though the phone didn't die for another hour or so.


I wasn't being deliberately slow in my responses but was distracted by stuff, in particular a phone call--between the second and third texts--from Charlie about going into business with him. Another post there.

Besides, too long spent between texts stops looking cool and starts looking considered.

So Tuesday it is then, assuming it isn't derailed by the costume fitting, whatever that means.

It the first time I've been on a date proper, that wasn't organised via a website.

I'm really quite nervous. I've pretty much totally forgotten what she looked like as the drunken images have slid away. And her images of me never really registered in the first place. To all intents and purposes it will be a blind date. Blind (because) drunk.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

I have been thinking over the events of Sunday night. (I haven't got in touch with H&H and am still weighing up whether I will do, on Thursday, or whatever the agreed best day is in these situations.)

The unusual thing about the episode was her forthrightness combined with her attractiveness.

Ugly though it is, the better looking someone is, the less hard they need to try and the less hard they tend to try. Everyone knows that. An ugly rule, but a rule nonetheless. Looks are inversely proportional to effort made in the theatre of getting-off-with-people.

In making virtually zero effort, I follow the rule with devastating accuracy. Any doubt in this accuracy is swiftly squashed by looking at the amazing results of my lack of effort.

But others are not so accurate and the rule is often broken. H&H seemed to be taking it to the extreme--doing to the rule what that Italian singer did to wills to live.

I am perhaps exaggerating and may find this out if I do ever meet H&H, with the visual clarity of sobriety.

Booze was, of course, a large factor on Sunday. Another thing I may find out in due course is that it was crucial.

Monday, 13 September 2010

I went to a gig last night for the first time in a long time. It was Adrian's friend Sue, who I'd never seen/met before but had heard good things about.

She was really good. So was her sometime collaborator Cameron, who played a set after her. He wasn't quite as assured as Sue though, and offered some sort of apology before each song. He seemed a lot more comfortable as Sue's backing singer. They were both really good though. Especially when compared to the Italian girl who followed them on stage. She had two distinct singing styles, one of which was passable, the other brain-liquifyingly awful. Unfortunately the second strain was also thumped out at top volume. Jon apparently saw the sound guy frantically scrabbling at his knobs, about 30 seconds in.

Despite the enjoyableness, or otherwise, of all this I remembered halfway through the evening that I really don't care that much about music. Looking around the room, everyone else was really getting into it. I just can't muster the same enthusiasm.

My apathy is reflected in my music purchases over the last 10 or so years, which number three. Three songs on iTunes. And one of them--the best one--is by East 17.

If there exists a more damning indictment of musical taste, awareness and enthusiasm, I'd sure like to hear it.

It was still a really fun evening and I must emphasise how excellent I thought Sue was. (Whilst fully aware that being given the thumbs up from me is about as thrilling as finding out you're Hitler's favourite Jew.)

The evening's ancillary fun came from girl things. The first was the rather cruel amusement of Anthony having to explain himself over the phone to a girl he'd tried to dump via text. The text had proved ineffectual as she'd refused to turn her key.

The phone call apparently worked better. It seemed to take a while.

Aside from that, when trying to reassure Adrian I got to use my favourite line that Teri had told me: "It's not about being in a band". I think I repeated it a few too many times.

The most ridiculous girl situation of the evening involved me. After the awful "headline" act had scuttled off I found myself sitting at a table with Jon and Anthony, two girls I didn't know (blonde and dark haired) and maybe some others. As an opening gambit, Dark asked me how old I was. I trotted out the usual tedious responses: "Why?", "How old do you think?", "11." and so on.

But she was fairly insistent, so I told her. 32. She didn't accept this and decided I was 25. Good news I suppose, though I was a little self-conscious that I was wearing Maharishi snopants (not that exact design and minus the jaunty knee-bend) and a t-shirt I'd bought from Urban Outfitters sometime in the wrong half of the naughties.

My wardrobe suffers almost as much as my hi-fi.

The clothing situation really needs to be addressed. I will sort it soon. I was only wearing the Maharishis because all my other trousers have holes of various sizes in them. My recent favourites gained an unfortunate hole on Friday night when the zip broke.

So I looked like a 25 year old and was dressed like one. A 25 year old from 7 years ago. Me in fact.

Dark didn't seem too bothered by all this as her next question was "do you want to kiss me?".

I had suspected from fairly early on in our acquaintance, which was still in its first minute, that she might be rather drunk. This second question had done nothing to allay this.

I can't recall exactly what my response was. I'm pretty sure it was an unintelligible mumble, but it had apparently been translated as "Hell yes! On the lips?! Woo-hoo!!" as I was led by the hand up the stairs out of the club.

The other detail was that Blonde was leading the way in front of her. But Blonde definitely hadn't asked me the same questions. They were in fact going home. I was Dark's last roll of the dice for the evening.

Out on the street it was a bit awkward as she lunged and missed the lips, with Blonde just standing there. Fortunately Blonde found it amusing and asked if she should go. I said "no". I had never intended to do any kissing, I just hadn't been given the time nor freedom of movement to extricate myself till now.

I did find her really very attractive. As I was also drunk, perhaps my ability to judge was compromised. But I haven't found my judgement to be affected by drink before*. It usually remains steadfastly extreme. The kind of extreme that is totally unrealistic and totally unjustified by my own appearance, whether or not I'm dressed like someone from the not very distant past.

And I'd even had the walk up the stairs as a chance to apply my body fascism. She'd got to the top of them unscathed.

It's just that she was really really drunk and I was merely drunk. I couldn't resolve the two.

She gave me her number and I said I'd call her. She's in my phone as "H&H Bagels". (I couldn't find the relevant Seinfeld clip to link to but it's from "The Strike".)

*It really should go without saying, but I am only referring here to judgement of whether I find someone attractive or not. In every other sense, the sentence does not bear even the most fleeting scrutiny.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

I'm a little drunk but am annoyed at the crappily bullshit last entries which portray me as some sort of mealy mouthed massive cunt.

Not much to say except that since I vowed to give up drinking for ever after last weekend's debacle, I am now currently drinking. I will expound in due course.

Suffice to say that on Wednesday of this week I thought that the half can of Red Stripe that I found chilling in my fridge was a sign that I should give up for good, was not. Said can has now been drunk and its neighbour too.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

I bailed out of the Yuks N Yetis booking. The prospect of a rank meal and a rank subsequent 48 hours overwhelmed the pleasure of a weak link to a holiday from 11 years ago.

I found a much nicer looking curry place online and have booked us in there instead. The food looks good and a website is, of course, one of the best ways to judge such things.

The party is now down to 10, thanks to a couple of dicks pulling out at the last minute. (They aren't really dicks Al, if you're reading. I just said that in order to make a crude joke.)

(They are really.)

10's a good number though. 9 will start to become a little annoying as we'll have to cut down on the number of canoes. So hopefully there won't be any more withdrawals. Kroft, I'm looking in your direction.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Another weekend of not enough cycling. Another year that will pass without me breaking an hour up Alpe d’Huez.

Once again drink got in the way. I should have stayed in on Friday having worn myself out by staying in the office till 3am on Wednesday/Thursday and watching the election till 4am on Thursday/Friday. I’ve got to stop such late nights. These weren’t particularly exceptional. The reasons were perhaps, but that’s all. Last night, for example, I didn’t go to sleep till around 4am, listening to podcasts.

Despite the lack of sleep, I’d thought it a good idea to book myself on to a train to Gloucester at 10am on Saturday. I had planned a day trip to Ross-on-Wye as reconnoitre of Al’s stag do. Ross doesn’t have a train station, so I would get some cycling in, about 40 miles to get me to and from the stations.

The plan for next weekend is to canoe down the River Wye, camping in Ross on the Saturday night. The camping will be outside a pub which backs on to the river. And we’ll be eating in a restaurant in town (village) called Yaks N Yetis. Nepalese and Tibetan cuisine. What could be nicer? Absolutely anything.

The only reason I was keen to go with YNY was that Al and I went on a Tibetan trip in the summer of ’99. It was a great trip for many reasons, none of which featured food or drink. Yak Butter Tea is about the foulest thing I’ve ever consumed. It’s absolutely fucking disgusting. I really cannot heap enough opprobrium upon it.

I thought therefore that it might be wise to check out YNY before I subjected Al and 10 of his friends to it. I also wanted to check out the camping pub to see how much space we’d have, and double-check that they wouldn’t shut us out at 11pm. Although it seemed unlikely that Ross would have the most kicking nightlife any of us had ever come across.

Saturday started badly. My alarm did not wake me at 9am because I hadn’t set it, so I missed my train by 5 hours. It would have been 4 but the guard didn’t let me on to the first train with my bike as there were already six others in the dedicated rack.

Such an occasion indicates how very different Al and I are. When I went to see Chris and him in Madagascar last year, my Kenyan Airways flight was delayed, meaning I would miss the Malagasy Airways internal flight we had booked. Upon hearing this, Al stormed down to the airport and demanded a replacement ticket for each of us, despite Malagasy Airways not being in any way to blame. It worked, of course.

Back on platform 6 of Paddington station and all I was able to do was call the guard a cunt, in my head, whilst watching the hourly train roll off westwards.

After a very hilly bike ride, I made it to Ross at around 6pm. It appeared to be shut. Hardly a soul about, no shops open apart from a newsagent who charged me 30p to use one of those new-fangled debit card things.

I found Yaks N Yetis and it gave a good first impression. It was not too twee and the menu seemed good.

I got four dishes and tried ordering things that they’d most likely fuck up, or which sounded leftfield. Squid to start—you’ve heard of Tibetan squid I expect. World famous. I got some momos as starters as well. Then a spicy lamb steak and a fish green curry.

The squid was horrible. Massive tasteless hunks of rubber in way too much batter. Exactly what you’d expect from a bad squid dish. The curry was ok, if a little light on the fish. The lamb steak was dry but nice enough and the momos were ok, good even.

I’d probably give it a 5 out of 10. But only a fool would order Tibetan squid, and without that dish they would have fared a lot better.

So I was reasonably happy. Most people don’t care much about food even at the best of times. On Saturday everyone will be concentrating on the Gurka Beer (which wasn’t very nice despite me giving it two large tries).

Even though YNY could have been better, it was getting late and I didn’t have enough time to check out any other options. I still had to visit the pub, which turned out to be all positive. The campsite was big enough and in an idyllic spot. There was unhindered access from the road so all boxes were ticked. I had another beer for the road and set off back to Gloucester feeling fairly chipper.

It is now Monday. I’ll spare you the scatology except to say that the good gut feeling I had initially has given way to a bad gut reaction.

Should I change my mind? The owner will recognise me on Saturday because I told him I was part of the party of 12 so I could make sure he put us in a good spot. Therefore I won’t be able to feign ignorance when everyone is doubled up in pain on Sunday.

Are camping and canoeing amongst the worst pastimes to endure under such circumstances?

Will Al read this before Saturday?

I’m going to risk it.

Friday, 30 April 2010

I joined Freecycle recently, which is like eBay but without the money. Its purpose is to help people give stuff away that they no longer want or need, in order to keep it out of landfill.

But I would not want anyone to visit the website unless they have to. It must be one of the worst I have ever come across. The principle is so straightforward that you would think the site probably only needs about 10 lines of code, but they have managed to make an ass of it.

Freecycle is split into groups according to location. Once you've joined your local group, the straightforward principle is that you add a post describing the item that you want to give away. The title of the post is of the form "OFFERED: [the item], [your location]". You can fill in more details in the body of the post, but you cannot attach photos. Instead you have to create an album in a different section of the site and refer to the photos in your post.

After you've posted, people get in touch with you by replying to the post or emailing you directly. It seems a little bit off that this should be possible. I hadn't realised that my email address would be made public when I signed up.

When you have chosen who you want to give the thing to, you arrange for them to come round and pick it up and, when that's happened, you add another post with the title "TAKEN: ..." and delete the original OFFERED post. You cannot simply alter your original post to say that it's taken. And this is despite the moderators insisting on you using the words OFFERED and TAKEN.

They apparently haven't heard of drop-down boxes.

GSM this ain't.

You get what you pay for I suppose.

I joined so as to get rid of a couple of old TVs. One 13" and one 24". Neither flatscreen. The 24" one was massive with, the screen only taking up about 60% its front. It was really heavy as well. Both TVs had been sitting in a cupboard in my bedroom and hadn't been switched since I moved in over two years. I once thought it might be nice to have a TV in there but I have since realised that it definitely wouldn't be.

Having posted both items separately on the site on Wednesday night I was expecting a fair amount of interest as the other items alongside it included glass beads and a 500g tub of M&S reduced fat spread (sealed).

Sure enough there were a few messages waiting for me on Thursday morning. Not too many, five or six. Strangely all of them were very brusque. I would have thought that if someone was offering to give you something for free you might think to chuck a little politeness their way. Of course I was also aware that there are probably a lot of career freecyclers who'll grab anything they can in the hope of selling it on, and these people don't have time for pleasantries. (I had, incidentally, wondered how such people would go about getting cash for all the crap they'd accrued and it wasn't until Jon reminded me of the car boot sale phenomenon that it made sense.)

For example:

Hi,
Have urgent need for 13" TV. Can collect any time. Mob Ph No: - 07xxx xxxxxx
Best wishes,
Richard

Richard was unsuccessful. But I do hope he finds a 13" TV before it's too late.

Another person replied to both posts with exactly the same message:

Hi there,would like to come pickup d tv soonest.send me ur number and address for collection.thanks chuks
07xxx xxxxxx

Really? "d tv"? Am I really going to consider you chuks, even though you haven't bothered to hit the space bar after your commas and full stops?

I wasn't expecting fawning deference. After all I was only giving away a couple of old TVs. But none of the messages I was getting were even asking me a question, so it was a relief to get a normal sounding message. A request:

Hi Ed,

Just saw your advert for the TV - I've just moved to a very empty flat in Hampstead and would love to take it if its still free. I could come this evening if that suited?

I've never used freecycle before so no idea if this message will reach you. Presuming any reply will come to my yahoo mail inbox...?

Thanks!

Dionne

She even remembered my name. Perhaps this was better than GSM after all.

I offered her both TVs - blessed are the meek - and we arranged for her to pick them up that evening.

Scheduling would have to be quite tight. These last couple of weeks I have been on a health binge which has had me doing an hour on my turbo trainer when I get home from work every night, as well as long rides at the weekends. I've also cooked a freezer load of cooking so that I eat well. There are about 50 portions of brown foods ready for thawing. Brown foods = bolognese, curry, chili ... (The ellipsis should really be replaced by "and lasagne". Diversity in cooking is not a forte of mine. ("Diversity in" should really be replaced by "".))

The health binge has been pretty successful as I've lost about 3kg and probably gained some muscle.

I wasn't going to allow Dionne to derail this with her desperate greed for televisions.

I also had an appointment with the pub quiz at 8:30pm. If I got home from work by 6:30pm and started cycling straight away I could feasibly shower afterwards and eat some brown food before 8pm. I could then help Dionne carry the TVs to the taxi rank by Waitrose at the end of my road, buy some milk and apples, return home and get on my bike to the pub in time for round 1.

8pm it was.

At 7:54pm I was desperately shovelling brown food whilst sweating heavily, despite having had a shower. Or perhaps because of it. I should have had a colder shower.

This was turning into a date. However, I had taken the precaution of moving the TVs into the hallway outside my flat just in case my date was packing heat. I hadn't fully worked out just how this would help me in such a scenario. I had a half-baked idea that I would close my flat front door and open the main door to the freecycler and as a result my flat and I would be better protected from her, and her gun. Perhaps I would pretend that my girlfriend was inside my flat, poised to dial 999 when she heard me say our mercy word.

At 7:59pm I realised that I hadn't checked my email since 5pm to see if Dionne had had to cancel. First I thought I'd look out of my front window to see if she was there but had buzzed the wrong buzzer. I was net cutain twitching without the privacy afforded by a net curtain. And, of course, an attractive 20-something female walked through the front gate and caught me mid-twitch.

On my way to the front door I caught my reflection in the mirror. Skin colour: puce. Skin dampness: extreme.

We exchanged pleasantries and she thanked me a lot for giving her the TVs. She worked for the BBC and thought it was probably a good idea to have at least one TV about the flat.

"So shall I go and get a taxi to drive round and stop outside in the street."
"No no it's fine, if you can carry that one then I'll take this one."
"You sure?"
"Yeah yeah yeah [maybe more]. It's fine. I promise I'm not sweating at the prospect... it's just that I've been... on a run."
"Oh right. I'm sweating too."

Eh?

We walked the 50m or so to the taxi rank. Sweat was now dripping off me, and I was struggling under the extreme weight of the fucking TV. She was being really nice, asking if I was ok, asking what I did for a job and what I thought of Freecycle. We laughed at the reduced fat spread person and she asked if I wanted to have a rest. There was about 10m to go. Machismo won over my aching limbs and I said that I was fine. 3 steps later and my foot tripped on a paving stone. It was a half trip that one would hardly notice if one wasn't carrying an unweildy television weighing more than oneself. I was so close to falling over but somehow stayed upright.

A Waitrose shopper coming the other way grimaced at my near miss, but we were nearly there.

(I wondered later what I would have said if I had fallen over and the TV had smashed to smithereens. Whatever I said would have been peppered with "errs" and doused in sweat, but would I apologise? I suppose the TV was hers at this point. But she was still one TV up. Of course I would apologise, I was pretty close to apologising even though I hadn't fallen over. She would have apologised too. She seemed like a nice person.)

We got to the taxi and I bundled the TV into it with considerable relief. She bundled in after it with the smaller TV, thanking me with the sort of profusion my sweat glands could relate to. At the last moment I remembered that the remotes were still in my pocket; I handed them over and that was it.

Not the best first date I've ever had. But not the worst either.

I realised a second after slamming the taxi door shut that the remotes were trying to give me a second date and I had ignored them.

I turned tail, went to buy some milk and apples, went to the quiz, coming a creditable 2nd, went home and Googled Dionne+BBC, using her real name. I really should have listened to the remotes.

Friday, 18 December 2009

If I do give up drinking, the first Friday should be an easy one as I'll be babysitting Maya. I brought my concealer in to work in order to try and hide the grazes so as not to scare her. I didn't put it on this morning as the grazes corroborated my falling-off-bike-on-way-to-work story.

I have just tried the concealer and it doesn't work particularly well. Two of the three are pretty much concelable but the worst one, beneath the eye, is only made worse.

I'm sure Maya will be ok with it. It's not that bad.

It's my put upon mother I'm more worried about.
After another day's reflection I feel worse about Wednesday night's escapades. It could quite easily have been deadly.

A large part of my unease is the mystery surrounding it. The bag provides most of that mystery. Not so much that it turned up, though that was weird enough, but where it turned up, a good 300m metres from where I initially locked the bike and from Lucky Voice. It would have been understandable had it turned up near either of those places as then the sequence of events probably would have been that I'd gone to unlock the bike, left the bag on the pavement and cycled off. Totally reasonable behaviour.

Another scenario that Al suggested (and that had occurred to me) was that someone lamped me in the face and cycled off with the bike, chucking the bag. Not inconcievable, except that the grazes are more fall than fist. They are in a fist-shaped arrangement but have the striations of a wall or pavement.

I have now rung Direct Line to ask about making a claim, using the story that I had left it locked up on Upper Street. It sounded like they might pay out but they did ask for proof of ownership, which I'm not sure I have and a crime reference number, which I'm not sure I want to get.

I'm just a bit worried that when I tell the police about how I locked up the bike but got home on public transport they will say something like...


"That's not what I've got written down on our report sir. Says here that you were weaving you way down Upper Street on said bike, before you skidded and fell to the ground where most of your body was protected by a litter of kittens, except for the area round your left eye. You got some cuts round your left eye sir?

"Upon getting to your feet you flew into a rage, threatening the old lady who had taken her kittens--all now expired--out for a walk. You ran after her swinging a yellow pannier bag around your head. You let go of the bag and it struck her between the shoulder blades before being deflected and becoming wedged in the frame of another bike. After all this you ran further down Upper Street shouting racial abuse at some football fans, and then disappeared down a side street.

"A kindly witness noticed your abandoned bicycle and brought it down to the station. We found your name by looking up its registration number. Strangely no one picked up the bag, despite its whereabouts being clearly outlined in the report.

"Perhaps you would like to come down to the station to collect the bike, and we can have a little chat."



Something like that.

Back in reality, I think this might be the final straw. I've given up drinking about five times in the last month and none of them have stuck. This however was a close call. I can't quite believe I got away with some grazes and a lost bike. Not even a broken tooth (which would have made the expense of the bike shrivel).

Thursday, 17 December 2009

I was back on Upper Street last night for Al and Chris's engagement party. But this time I was on the wrong side of the drunken divide. I had planned to not drink until their wedding next summer, but failed emphatically. The night ended up in Lucky Voice, where I hopefully didn't do any singing on my own.

I don't remember leaving or getting home but woke up without my pannier bag or bike in the flat which was a bad and good. Hopefully I had left the bag in Lucky Voice, but it was I suppose good that I hadn't tried to cycle home.

Problem is that it turned out that I probably had. Al emailed me to say that I strode off with my pannier bag, intending to cycle. I have only once or twice cycled home this drunk; so drunk I cannot even remember doing it. Can't even remember if it was once or twice. That's bad.

Before I found all this out, I discovered minor grazes on my nose and above and below my left eye. This was also bad, but did at least give me an excuse to bunk off work--I rang up to say that I had fallen off my bike (possibly true) on my way to work (not true). I'll be able to show up tomorrow with the bruises to prove it.

After a very tedious meeting with my neighbours I set off back to Upper Street for the third day in a row, having seen Daniel Kitson play the Union Chapel on Tuesday. It was probably about 8pm when I got to Highbury and Islington station, and began trudging down the street to Angel, in the snow. I wasn't very surprised to not find the bike where I'd locked it initially. But perhaps I'd locked it up somewhere along the route, upon aborting the foolish mission of cycling home.

As I walked along, looking at all the locked up bikes, I was wondering about insurance. Could I reasonably make a claim for this? I don't like insurance fraud and I wasn't sure whether claiming for the bike and bag would count as that. If it turned out that I no longer had either of them, is that enough? Or does one have to have an accurate account of events. It would be easy enough to come up with an explanation for the bike that wouldn't be too far from the truth... Locked it up, went out, got drunk, got bus home, returned to find it had been stolen. The bag would be a bit trickier.

None of the Upper Street bikes (of which there were a few) were mine. But about two thirds of the way down to Angel I saw a yellow pannier wedged into the front triangle of a bike locked up to railings on the partition in the middle of the road. I went up to it and self-consciously grabbed to check and see that it was indeed mine and had all my stuff in it. I couldn't believe it had been there for about 20 hours.

I also couldn't believe that the bike wasn't mine, and stared at it for a good ten seconds in order to make sure.

Cheered up I continued to search for the bike, thinking it must be on the route somewhere.

I decided the bus might be a more pleasant way to do the rest of the journey, so took one down Pentonville Road and on to Euston. Still nothing doing. After Euston I reverted to walking as that made it easier to stick to the route I would've taken. I only deviated upon reaching the underpass at Tottenham Court Road.

Regent's Park and Avenue Road don't have public transport so I ended up walking all the way home, to West Hampstead. There were lots of taxis out, offering themselves to the snowed on. But I didn't take that option. Partly as penance for getting myself into this situation.

One good thing about the walk was that I came up with a couple of good bits for Al's speech. Reckon I have a couple of minutes already. Just an intro but it's good I think.

I wonder if it might seem a little stale in six months' time.

I will go on more walks to come up with the rest of it.

Giving up drinking is part of the opening line. Perhaps that will force me to stick to it this time. (The speech won't be all about me.)

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Never mind effusion... effluent.
I'm still freaking out about the best man's speech. I think I will be for the next six months.

Whilst I'm writing this I'm listening to the only song I've bought on iTunes. It's Purple Rain. I was duped by Prince's preciousness over rights. The tiny twat.

Brilliant business brain.

We just had another pub quiz. It was inauspicious. AA and I were the only regulars. We were joined by Daniel H and his dancing friend Carter. Carter provided perhaps 3 points and DH, err, who cares? We lost by 20 clean points. The league is fucked. The can is certainly carried by AA and me. LVPs. Fucking useless.

The music round was an embarrassment. Half the spaces were left blank. And of the half filled, a fifth included Beautiful South with "Perfect 10". For that I only have myself to blame.

I'm away next week for Al's engagement party and frankly I'm pleased to hide my face.

I spoke to Zina tonight. I told her about the best man shenanigans. She was chuffed for me, though she knew that if there was no gender barrier she would've taken me down. We tried to fix up the gap in my memory from last night... Al said that 5 years or so ago he'd texted Zina to ask if he should chase after Christina, who'd just left on a train. Apparently I'd been there and had said "yes" and he'd acted on that. I do remember this thing well but I just don't know where from. From talking to Zina, it must've been in Cricklewood. She thinks it was a phone call not a text and I think she might be right,

I'm on to the 3rd play of Purple Rain.

I don't think I should be in charge of the music at this wedding.

When talking to Zina, whilst she was in the dark in her sitting room she mentioned that badges such as that of godfather or best man might have been bestowed on me as a signal for me to sort myself out. Given that she gave out one of these badges, she might know more than she's letting on. Perhaps I could do and should.

But I'm going to ignore her haranguing for now. I am delighted to be Maya's godfather and to get on so well with her. She's wicked, and as one of Chris's bridesmaids, I'll be tapping her up for cute help in my best man role. Simples.

There is no way that I would ever want Ed Start to become an effusion of effusiveness, but being asked by Dholod to be her daughter's godfather and being asked by Al to be his best man are pretty much the best I have ever got. It neatly overarches thundercunting issues of Charlie and boss-man Mike.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

That previous post was rather self-indulgent, in the style of certain people on Twitter or Facebook. "WhatsHisName is wondering why..." or "This shouldn't happen to anyone...".

The type of thing that desperately solicits an enquiry from people nearby. My Dad does that sort of thing in conversation, usually under the auspices of a chuckle to himself, which clearly isn't to himself. "What's so funny father?"

"What's so ‘oh fuck’?" I don't hear you ask..

Al has asked me to be his best man and I said yes. There was some hesitation in providing my answer; about 45 minutes' worth. I know that sounds rather churlish but Al had been sweet enough to couch it in gentle terms, letting me know that he understood that doing a speech in front of 200 people would be nightmarish for me. And that he knew that I struggled (and failed) to accept my sister's request to do a simple 2 minutes reading at her wedding earlier this year. He put no pressure on me at all. But I was so pleased to be asked that I made myself forget all the terror and go for it.

The next six months minus four days are going to be an exquisite hell.

The purpose of the night had been to find a venue for Al and Christina's engagement party. I had booked five places which we were going to check out and choose one from. As usual I was a couple of minutes late and by the time I found Al he had already checked out the first of them. Except he had taken a wrong turning and had checked out the wrong place. He liked it and so did I. As they were free on the relevant date, he booked it and we didn't move on. Simples.

I do regret turning down Harriet's request to do a reading at her wedding. I regretted it the night before the wedding in fact, but was too gutless to tell her.

A best man's speech is a whole different kettle of piranhas.

There are apparently 80 of Chris's family amongst the 200. I don't think I could—let alone would—muster more than about 12 family members.

How does one play to such a disparate crowd? I used to think that the wedding crowd is the easiest to please, but now I can't imagine anything more difficult. At Cousin Chris's wedding, many of the immediate family were offended about a story about him taking only one pair of pants on holiday. That doesn't leave much wriggle room.

Everyone takes only one pair of pants on holiday don't they?

At least this fear has supplanted the fear over my job that I have been labouring under for the last week. That is now small potatoes.

It wasn't small potatoes last Wednesday though. I had been out with Cousin Antony on Tuesday night, trying to glean some good venues for the engagement party. I somehow managed to stay up till 3am. I didn't get any venues but it was fun hanging out with him and his hot assistant. It was less fun turning up to work at 12:30 on Wednesday to immediately receive a massive bollocking from Charlie, saying that he's already arranged a meeting with boss-man Mike to discuss my time-keeping. And how he never knows where I am. He said that I would lose my job about five times in three minutes. Not what you want to hear when you are drunk, but haven't had a drink for 9 hours.

Things have been getting progressively worse at work and I was already expecting another bad appraisal in a week or so, off the back of the shit feedback Charlie had given me. Shit feedback that—for once—I didn't really deserve.

The Wednesday bollocking must have tipped me over the edge and I proceeded to have a mini-meltdown, crying down the phone to my mum later that afternoon, just about stopping doing the same with my dad when he came to see me at lunch the next day and failing to stop myself when I met Harriet after work the next day.

In amongst that I did the pub quiz.

When in a fragile state of mind it is a friendly face or voice that sets one off. (No offence Team C—I’d spent that day's tears already.)

I suppose it is no more complicated than the fact that when you are in the company of someone close, you no longer need to worry about cool. The same thing happened in the other direction with Laura on Saturday when I met her to help her move house. She has a trauma of her own going on and when we met outside Sainsbury's in Angel she had a similar reaction to the various ones I'd had in the days before.

Moving Laura and her new flatmate Juliet into their new gaff was fun. They have a lot of stuff. Most of it books.

We ended the night by going for a Thai meal on Upper Street. It was a bit of a jolt to see the crapulence of 10pm there on a Saturday night, through the prism of sobriety and worthiness of a day spent doing useful stuff.

After the meal we said our goodbyes and I wandered down Upper Street toward Angel tube. I passed a drunkish girl asking a much drunker guy for directions. The guy and his friend then overtook me in their stumble along the pavement. I think they had been to a football match earlier that day. They had comically old-school red and white scarves which suggested this.

About 30 seconds later I caught up with them again. Now one of them was talking to a third guy, apparently unacquainted. "Your friend's really pissed" said the new guy. This sounded ever so slightly aggressive.

Next thing I heard—over my shoulder—was "don't fucking barge me". Not much doubt of the aggression there.

5 seconds later there were 10 people trying to pull the 3 or 4 of them apart. 10 seconds later and there were 20 of them. People careering into shop windows and all sorts. Racial epithets abounding. I'll let you guess who was responsible for them. You prejudiced so-and-so.

At this point I thought it might be wise to ring 999. But does this sort of thing happen all the time? 30 of them now, and surely someone else would have rung the cops.

It seemed as though the fighters had been split up anyway. The victim of the racism was now 15 or 20 metres from the football fans. (Prejudiced yes, but also correct.)

Next thing: he’s broken free of the people holding him back and is sprinting towards the football fans’ posse. I half expected him to hesitate as he realised what he was about to do, suddenly isolated from the gaggle that had been protecting him.

Instead he seemed to accelerate. On arrival he rained down punches, not even connecting with the main protagonists.

At this point I very belatedly got my phone out, just as a police car pulled up on the other side of the road. The side of the road I was now on—I'm not stupid. They had apparently been patrolling Upper Street incidentally and two of the four cops sauntered over towards the melee, which had reached its climax community of 40 members.

I was surprised by the bravery and arrogance of the old bill. Was this bellicose mass going to calm down simply at the sight of a couple of stupidly shaped helmets approaching? Surprisingly it did a bit. Surprising to me; I suppose the coppers had done this before.

A minute later and there were sirens wailing from both directions. 4 police vans and 3 more cars turned up. This seemed like overkill. The crowd was segmented and particulars were taken down.

I wandered off to the tube, my entertainment now finished. It had been gruesomely riveting. Obviously I felt like a shit for just gawping at the mess and not even dialling the freefone number. But I comforted myself with the fact that it was fairly comical. With so many people involved it seemed less serious, as if no one would really get hurt. Not like some beating down an alley with 3 or 4 people. But of course someone might have been on the ground in the midst of the throng, getting a kicking. I certainly didn't come close to finding out.

Tube journey over and I was walking towards my flat with its sitting room all lit up. I was very slightly concerned, but assumed I must've left the light on when I left in the morning.

I had had a survey of the flat that morning, so as to start the tedious process of purchasing the freehold. I must have thought the extra light would help the surveyor, doing his survey in broad daylight.

I walked along the road a bit further and saw the silhouette of someone's head in the window.. I was fucking well being burgled! My stuff?! This was a police matter.

With considerably less hesitation than half an hour prior, I rang 999. I got through to the police and jumpily told them what was going on. The guy asked me if I lived with anyone. Like the Upper Street po-po, he was all too familiar with what Saturday night does to people's judgement.

I answered his question and various others, including that of my address. As I was doing this I gingerly approached the front gate. The head hadn't moved and wasn't about to, being, as it was, a lamp. The angle-poise lamp I'd put there when having dinner with Laura the week before.

I don't usually spot the resemblance between angle-poise lamps and human beings. In my defence, the lower sections of my windows are blurred, so I could only see the 'head' of the lamp.

It is a flimsy defence, and not one that I offered to the 999 man who was still on the line. In fact I didn't make mention of the lamp at all. I blustered something about thinking I might be mistaken about actually seeing the burglars. That rare breed of burglars who do their work with all the lights on.

I pathetically asked Mr 999 if he would mind staying on the line while I went in. He was fine with this and reassured me that he had all my details just in case. I don't think he was being sarcastic, but I cannot be sure.

A few seconds later I thanked him and apologised for wasting his time. He didn't seem to mind.
oh fuck

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Win or lose, I must never be allowed to take the quiz wine home.

I went back to vainly edit the drunken post from last night, taking out some nonsense about a made up country in the tv series Spooks. In my stupor I was delighted that my slight misspelling of this already fictional place provided just one Google search result: me!

Upon hungover reflection I have realised that this is simply a crap mutation of Googlewhack with one word instead of two. But that one word doesn't need to be a real word. And the player is allowed to type said 'word' into their blog. It's hardly hard, is it?

onecheesesteakcomingupdyouwantspokeswiththat?
Suicidal thoughts rarely embrace me. Sometimes, but it isn't something to write about here I shouldn't've thought. I'm already too glib but I'll carry on to say that a moment tonight might have ranked amongst my top 10 worst ever moments. Perhaps top 10 is too strong. But top 100 doesn't sound strong enough. Does one count all those moments where one suddenly remembers mortality? That thing that happens frequently? But is quite quickly surmounted by that default reaction that has been refined since the age of 10, or 11 or 6 or whenever one first worked it out?

Never mind all that shit—we lost the pub quiz. That's the problem.

We have lost the quiz before, quite often. Modus operandi is to fuck up the first couple of rounds, do ok on the picture round, keep par on the fourth and kick ass on the final round of music. I should add at this point that I add very little to the scores of any of the five rounds. But it's fun to turn up.

Tonight was different as we were amongst the front runners in the early rounds. There were 15 teams which is more than there has ever been. The first prize was the pot, which was £2 for every player.. ~£150. Something like that. Second prize was a bottle of wine. The bottle I am now drinking.

Back to the action. Round 1 was the "head" round. It was varied. Stuff like "which GB tennis player is sponsored by Head?" Or "what is the medical term for the Head of the penis?" In a rare moment of usefulness I suggested "the glans". After that I went back under.

The second round was a bit of a disaster. We mucked up the termini of the Grand Union Canal and got the nationality of Sabena Airlines wrong. Anthony (resident pessimist) got a good point on Liechtenstein but we should've done better. Still, we were in the top two or three.

The picture round of celebrities-deformed-into-geeks was quite fun. There were only a few tricky ones. Three or four. One team managed to mix up Andi Peters with Jay-Z which is some feat, but not many points were traded.

The running totals after three rounds were close but we were in the lead on 41. Van de Bleuth were in third or forth on 40ish. Or 39ish.

Van de Bleuth are cunts.

I just don't know how to begin to describe them. To understand you have to endure the creeping drip drip niggle of spending many Wednesday evenings in ear and eyeshot of their charmlessness. With their charmless winning and charmless losing. Shit—you just have to understand that they are absolute thundercunts.

They spend their fag breaks checking their PDAs.

How more many times do I have to type it?

(They are similar to us, but hopefully unrecognisable.)

Fourth round. The actors who play epomemous film titles, Does that make sense? We dropped two marks on that round but were probably still in the lead, or nearly there. And the final round was music. Our banker. (I say "our" even though it is Adrian who is the mvp there, with Jon and DM joint 2nd, Anthony 4th and me 6th.)

The music mash-up round went all right. We thought we'd won. Well, Jon did. I sort of did. Adrian was doubtful. But I've already given away the denouement. Beaten by one and a half pissing points.

Jon says it is good. It is exquisite agony or summink (correct me if I'm wrong). I say we kill the bastards.

In this murderous nadir I had an epiphany that I might become the best quiz brain in the world. Better even than CJ from Eggheads. But since then I've realised that that would be really boring. Instead I'm just going to learn every capital of the world (for the third time).

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Of course I'm doing the time-lapse semi-naked photos.

It is a hideous ordeal though. Perhaps there is too much information in this post. Probably worth skipping.

I did the requisite hair clipping using the clippers I normally use for my head. If I don't clean shave then maybe it won’t grow back thicker. Never understood why this would happen anyway. Maybe it doesn't. I don't want to look it up.

Then I tried taking photos using the timer, with the camera balanced precariously on the edge of the mantelpiece. My camera is a good few months old but only has photos of two other people aside from me. Zina and Antony came back to mine after my joint party with Antony in March, so there are a couple of photos of them smashed. All the others were self-portraits for GSM, most of which are now deleted.

I haven't got anyone else in the camera because I have sensibly decided that socialising with it would quickly lead to its demise. Instead it will now die a cold stony death sometime in the next 8 weeks on the hearth of the fireplace.

After a couple of attempts, I found the appropriate place to stand and remembered it so as to get an effective time-lapse. I ended up going for the horribly unforgiving lights out plus flash technique. Flashing the flash. Do not try this at home.

I did a side on and a front on.

The worst thing wasn't over-weightness cos I'm not really very over-weight. But instead it was the asymmetry. I knew that I didn't stand (or sit) up straight, in either front/back or left/right. But this evidence was pretty damning as to the extent. The left shoulder was quite a lot higher than the right. And my ribcage is definitely out of whack. Over the years one gets used to seeing a reflection and it is quite a jolt to see its mirror image in grotesque over-lit nakedness. (I decided against both smile and pants in the end. But made sure the X on the floor was close enough to the lens.)

I tried correcting the shoulder with some success, but then the left nipple was lower than the right. (I did say to skip this post.) And the neck wasn't straight.

I should clarify that these discrepancies were all minor. It was just the stark nature of evidence. And the fact that I am the type of person vain enough to take a naked photo of himself every day for 56 days.

I wonder if these problems will be exacerbated if I manage to get down to racing weight. (The challenge of cycling up l'Alpe d'Huez in under an hour next summer is the pathetically thin veil to all this self-obsession.) Maybe if I get a bit stronger at the same time, the body will sort itself out. Seems unlikely.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Met up with new colleagues from the company that I now work for (my department was sold recently). We're still in a temporary office in the West End and their office, which we'll move into soon, is near Old Street.

First of all we took a look round the floor we'll be working on. As Kieran adroitly pointed out, "it's an office". Then we went downstairs to meet the Swindon lot. Our MD gave a little intro to us all in a meeting room and then their boss did the same. The new people seem too chirpy for my liking, that is to say at all chirpy.

There seem to be lots of nationalities amongst them. None of the three people I talked to were British. A German guy (I pretended I knew where Leipzig is), an Australian girl (I didn't actually speak to her—I just made sure I found out as she was one of the two good looking girls) and an American girl (I didn't speak to her either—she was the other one).

Even if I'd wanted to, I would have struggled to get a word in with the American (Rosie) as our MD Mike was trying his luck, for about 4 hours. I don't think he stands much chance, because he is a tosspot and lacks any sort of physical attractiveness to make up for it.

The Australian (Bree.. urgh) left the bar early.

After the bar we went to a tapas place near Old Street called Pinchos. (Pinchos, or rather pintxos, is an idea from a few years back that got about as far as the trio in the previous post.) Unsurprisingly Mike sat himself next to Rosie and started looking at the menu. She said "order everything", so he did. Our party of 12 or so must have acted like dicks, pissing off the couple of couples also in the restaurant.

I almost went to Pinchos a while ago for the first ever date of GSM v1, and therefore my first ever date. But I dodged it because I wasn't sure I'd get a table. It still terrifies me to think about the minutes before that encounter, wondering what the hell I was doing and just how bad the next couple of hours would be. Very, as it turned out. She was a terribly worthy girl who worked for one of Bono's charities.

I've set a release date of 1 January 2010 for GSM v3. Perhaps it seems ridiculous to set a date so far in the future, and probably after a lot of parties. However it is more likely that it doesn't seem at all ridiculous.

It also leaves me 8 weeks to lose 8kg. That may sound preposterous, but I have made it a lot easier recently, by piling it on. Does that make it easier? I suppose so. It would after all be rather difficult to lose a further 8kg should I manage to lose the first lot.

I was thinking of doing my vainest thing yet and taking a semi-naked self portrait every day. Even I baulk slightly at that idea. But only slightly. Perhaps it will provide incentive.

It does throw up a couple of conundrums such as what to wear. I would also need to depilate my torso at regular intervals to make it worthwhile. If Seinfeld is to be believed—or more accurately if Kramer is to be believed—this is tuning into a bad idea. "Turning into"?

And what to wear? A smile? No. Pants? Yes.

1 January should be a good day for new talent on GSM. Well, perhaps the 1st is too soon but the following days might be more interesting that the usual.

I wonder if I'll be on the way to owning a bike shop by 1 January. I hope so. I'll ring the uncle this evening to sound him out. Bikes are popular on GSM.

Also work continues to get worse. I am writing this in a Notepad window that I've tried to hide in the Immediate window of Visual Studio. It works quite well I think…

Friday, 6 November 2009

One of the employment options that I alluded to before has fallen through ingloriously. I applied for the Civil Service Graduate Fast Stream and failed their online tests--the first of quite a few ways they whittle down the many thousands to 250.

There was a verbal reasoning test where you are given a paragraph and then a statement relating to the paragraph which who have to say is true, false or indeterminable. Throughout my practising I found this test pretty tricky mainly because I don't read fast enough to survive the quite severe time pressure. I also tended to err on the side of caution with my answers.

In the real thing I thought I was doing quite well till about halfway through when I got a string of 4 or 5 indeterminables. That seemed a little unlikely given the psuedo-random (i.e. not random) way these tests are constructed. This run of answers threw me out of kilter and I probably fucked up the rest of the test. Of the 40, I only left 3 unanswered so a fair chunk of the other 37 must have been wrong.

Or perhaps the pass mark was high. I certainly didn't drop many--if any--marks on the numerical reasoning test, which is a series of questions based on sets of data. All you need to be able understand are primary school concepts like pie charts and how to calculate a percentage. As I did numbers at university, I was always likely to do better at this test (although percentages didn't feature very highly in my finals) so it was frustrating that it was piss easy. I finished it with 6 or 7 of the 25 minutes remaining and had time to go back to one of the questions that I thought was wrong. The actual answer to it was not one of the multiple choices. (I chose the one that I assumed they were looking for.)

Soon after I completed the tests and just before I was emailed my ignominious results, I sent them a hilariously pompous email telling them that they (might have) got one of the questions wrong. Unsurprisingly their response what that they couldn't comment.

The pass mark may well have been high as I have since found out the usual 10,000 applications rose to 35,000 this year. An increase of 350%.

Regardless, it was still annoying and a bit embarrassing to have failed. as their tests are the type of thing I'm usually good at. I was fully expecting to fuck up my application at the assessment day role playing fiasco stage, had I got there.

The ill feelings are tempered somewhat by the fact that I wasn't head over heels with the idea of working for the Civil Service. I was more keen on the application process than the job itself. It certainly would be better than my current job but I'm at the stage where I'm quite keen to do something that is more than just "better than my current job".

The other ideas I've had fit this remit rather better. (In fact none of these were my ideas. And I only did the Fast Stream application because Zina suggested it.) Here they are in order or preference, though all of them are a million percent better than my current job, thus fulfilling the remit a thousand fold.

Idea 1 (my uncle's): buy and run a bike shop
Specifically, buy and run the quaint independent bike shop near where I grew up. I've been a loyal customer there for about half of my life and still went there till about six months ago, despite having moved to a different part of London about a 30 minutes bike ride away. I only stopped going there because the father/son management seemed to have departed, replaced by a couple of jerkoes.

My uncle's been going there for about half his life, and he came up with the idea a couple of weeks ago when I went round to dinner at theirs.

The shop has been going for about 100 years and is quite well know by cycling nerds but it is run just so badly. Although I got on with the father/son management they were total cocks. Well, the son was nice but the father was a grumpy git. The shop is long and narrow and he would just sit on his fat arse behind the counter at the end. I think that bike shops are quite intimidating for most people, with myriad arcane phrases and equipment; this guy certainly did nothing to assuage that.

(Why couldn't the verbal reasoning test have just asked for the definitions of lesser used words? I suppose that would leave it exposed to the dictionary--the only book I ever read.)

The bike shop itself is fusty. With an overhaul of the fittings, replacing them with monochrome and an overhaul of the staff, replacing them with me the place could be a massive success, feeding off its good brand.

In the last two weeks I've thought about it a great deal and have come up with quite a few ideas. None of them will set the world alight but I think the sum of them will be impressive enough. I'm hopefully going to chat to the uncle soon to see if he is genuinely interested. The venture won't work without him. For one thing, I don't have the cash. But also he has loads of good contacts who know a lot about good design and marketing. Truth is I'm not bringing much to this venture.

Throughout all my thinking on the project I have been mainly ignoring all the cons, such as the administration and dealing with the general public. I don't have a great track record on the second of these points. Whilst working in the local stationery shop my friend and I ran a competition to see who could say the fewest words to a customer when selling them something. I won with zero. In separate incident I tried to sell an expensive leather Filofax to someone, telling her that it "smells nice... beefy".

I might have already told that story.

With a shop that I partly own and one that sells stuff that I like I think my attitude would be different. I hope so. My main motivation will no longer be to try and make my friend laugh.

Idea 2 (Anthony's): set up and run a cheesesteak shack
I've never eaten a cheesesteak. I'm not even particularly interested in doing so. But perhaps that's because I live in London, where they don't exist. I'm told they are quite the thing in America, and Philadelphia in particular. Anthony has eaten some. So have a few of the other people I know. Some even send emails containing links to blogs with discussion about them.

I would need at least one of these people on board to make this work. Presumably Anthony as he has shown interest in setting up a sandwich shop in the past and would I expect be a good person to run it. Once again, I'm not bringing much to the grill.

The problems of dealing with the general public are less serious with this venture I think. There would I suppose be a lot more of them, but the interaction would be mininal. After all there would only be one thing on the menu. I could feasibly revive the word competition.

(Why couldn't the verbal reasoning test have...)

The margins might be a little tight with The Shack, but it does have potential to boom with lots of outlets. The City or Canary Wharf with all their associated twats would probably be a good place to start, and the West End would like it too.

Idea 3 (DM's): run a nationwide crossword competition with an audience for the latter stages and do a Spellbound style film alongside it
The Brits love the cryptic crossword. Well I don't. I think they are tedious and I can't do them. (The first bit of that sentence is a corollary of the second bit.) English is the best language to do it, with its myriad words which mean that well written passages need not repeat the interesting ones.

According to Heuers something like this has been done in America already but the crosswords over there are of the non-cryptic kind. I can do those ones pretty well.

(Why couldn't the verbal... too many callbacks.)

The system would be to run a banner on the front page of The Guardian or The Times advertising it, and have a tough Christmas sized crossword to set things off. The thousands of correct entries would have to be whittled down to a couple of hundred or so, perhaps by inviting them all to regional exam hall style tests where only the fastest few progress.

Then the finals would be in London where there are 6 or 7 rounds of increasing difficulty. DM tells me that the newspapers run this system every week, with Monday the easiest and Friday the hardest, and that different setters are used accordingly. These setters are probably lauded by the crossword nuts and they could turn up at the latter stages to add excitement. (I struggled to write that word.)

The Guardian's Araucaria is the only name I know, because my dad goes on about how good he is and how much more inventive the puzzles are. I think crosswords are rubbish whoever sets them.

So if it turns out that Araucaria is the don of the setters then he'd compose the final.

The associated Spellbound film would be key, as I don't really see how the rest of it would make much money. It would obviously be compared to Spellbound and accused of being what it is--a rip-off.

As I've got no experience of making films I'd have to find someone to do that.

The only thing I'm doing with any of these ideas is writing them down.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

I do have quite a lot to blog about but have been quite busy. These are unusual happenings.

Most of the potential witterings are about new ways to make a living. One is the well worn and fast streamed path to the Civil Service and the other is becoming a shopkeeper with all its associated middle class angst.

Can't be bothered to go into all that now. I will do in due course I suppose, but now I'm a little drunk so will just stick to an email story. (I just took a tin of Kronenbourg out of the fridge. It was one of two in the plastic holding of a four. I thought about it for three seconds and left the one with the plastic holding in the fridge. I made use of the tin I chose to drink from to spell Kronenbourg correctly.)

Back to the email story.

Anjali who I've mentioned before is a colleague of mine. I've got a bit of a crush on her but know that she's whimsical enough to not bother checking into this blog to read that. I have even more of a crush on her sister who I've met a couple of times as she works near where Anjali and I do. Most of Anjali's colleagues fancy Sohini. As I get on well with Anjali and seem to have done similarly with her sister, I might have had a chance if there weren't stupid religious barriers. And loads of other barriers.

Anyway - that is all tedious backstory.

Yesterday I left my computer unlocked at work and Annie - who sits behind me - took full advantage and sent the following...


From: edward.xx@xx.com
[mailto:edward.xx@xx.com]
Sent: 27 October 2009 15:46
To: Sohini
Subject: Hi from Ed

Hi how are things?

Would you like to go for a drink sometime this week? J

By the way I thought you looked really pretty on your birthday!

Ed x


Naturally the thing I objected to most was the "x". I don't know what the "J" was. A typo presumably. I could write a ream on "x" but Mr Kronenbourg is preventing me from doing a good job.

"I" got a reply from the kindly Sohini. But it was about as brushy off as you might ever imagine:


From: Sohini [mailto:xx@xx.co.uk]
Sent: Tue 27/10/2009 16:50
To: Edward
Subject: RE: Hi from Ed

Hi Ed, how are you? I didn't know you had my email address so this was a nice surprise.

We have a tight deadline at work, we are changing our brand identity so I am working on converting everything by end of the week!

How are things going at xx?

Btw, thank you for the compliment :)



Gutted. Knocked back from an advance I hadn't even made.

I poured opprobrium on Annie today and probably took it too far as she thought I was never going to speak to her again. I'm not much good at faking hatred so gave up around lunchtime. I sent a reply to Sohini explaining things. It wasn't very funny nor flirtatious. It had occurred to me to say that I agreed with Annie on the last line but I ran the draft past Rab and it was canned.

It was a pointless missive and hasn't received a response.

(The tin with the plastic is now out of the fridge. I've removed the plastic.)

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Finally got round to cleaning the flat. Well I've done everything apart from the sitting room. The sitting room looks awful. Will try and do it in the next couple of hours, before Falice's.

The nadir of dirtiness arrived on Wednesday evening when I realised my socks were getting dirty from shuffling around in the kitchen. I tidied and washed up and did the surfaces before tackling the floor in bare feet. I am of the mind that detergent is detergent - there isn't specific ones for specific jobs. I'm not one of those Neurofen purchasing idiots.

The exception is that Ecover products are crap.

I had some Mister Muscle spray of some sort, so I used that. I listened to INXS a few times on loop. The intro on strings is quite a good spraying tempo. But you'll notice that that reproduction manages to get it all out of sync.

I found a mop of sorts. Rather annoyingly it wasn't at all good at sucking up the water that I had lavished on top of the Mister Muscle. It was a Vileda mop but didn't live up to my expectations of a Vileda. (Apparently their advertising has succeeded in the face of Neurofen's failure. Though their website has a very irritating woman on the front. With a smile I'd sure like to mop off.)

I almost slipped over a couple of times, but survived. I did the bathroom floor as well. Whereas the kitchen has dark grey tiles, the bathroom's are cream coloured and seemed to take a lot longer to clean.

Whilst doing all this cleaning, I shifted various bits of stuff and junk around to parts of the flat I wasn't cleaning. The passage running down to the kitchen and bathroom had my laptop (now playing The Crystal Ship) and bathroom scales which is (are?) made of glass. So it was a little tricky to walk through that bit of the flat. I was sensible enough to not tread on the laptop but as my foot was about to land on the scales, I though "am I going to break these (this?) by standing on them (it?)?" And I had the exact same thought when walking back two minutes later.

Monday, 12 October 2009

I have a laptop and I have the internet. It is 2009 and I'm ready.

So no more Chicken Cottaging for me. I'd say that I was sad if that was what I was, but I wasn't. And isn't. I won't get to do that real-time Cottage blog, but that would've been rubs I expect.

The hubristic wagon ride I described before lasted not even as long as the lower bound I set myself. The two people who share the blame are my decrepit 93 year old grandfather and Josh. The grandfather invited me round to his for dinner, and even though I'd explained over the phone that I wasn't drinking, he offered me a beer when I arrived. He doesn't exactly rail against the old person stereotype of selective hearing/understanding/seeing/remembering.

Just as my first drink for a year on new year's day 2006 had been a disappointingly crap White Russian in a shot glass, my first drink for - ooo - seven or eight days was a warm can of Foster's that exploded upon opening. Fortunately my grandfather's sitting room sports a fetching weak-beer coloured carpet so it hardly mattered.

I didn't get pissed that night but the dam was broken, so when Josh texted the following evening to see if local drinks were a possibility I was too weak to refuse. Josh hits nights out quite hard, so this was going to be a full on fall from sobriety. As it turned out, by the time I was free to meet him, he wasn't around. But I was already drunk.

The grandfather and Josh. I can't believe those two.

Since then I've tried being healthy and have done a fair bit of cycling but once again missed a cyclosportive yesterday due to going out on Saturday. I must try and keep up the laps of the park after work during the week.

Friday night really should have been enough. I met up with cousin Antony and Anthony near High Street Kensington after having done my 10 laps and had something to eat. Cousin Antony's friend Falice was there and already a bit fruity. It's her birthday this week and she's having a party on Saturday which was Facebooked. I wanted to go to it cos I've been stalking her attractive friends online. (She's called Alice by the way; Falice is APR's moniker. That's Antony. Cousin Antony.) But APR had said no to the invite, leaving only Helena as a mutual friend in attendance. Turns out that APR did this by mistake because Falice had called herself Dirty Girty in the title, and APR didn't think he knew of any Girties.

It was only cos it rhymed with thirty.

So. APR is going in the end and I will too I expect. That will mean missing another cyclo next Sunday.

One of Falice's hot friends called Anna turned up later on on Friday, with another friend in tow. I think this posse all work in the shop that Falice manages, where they sell porn amongst other things. She calls them the PYTs as they're all 21 or 22 and fresh out of university. Rather appropriately Anna didn't understand the reference when she first heard it. Mimi is probably the best looking of the PYTs but wasn't there on Friday. Anna passed on her present to Falice of The Private Collection.

After closing we went back to APR's flat. We played the name game but it was a bit shit cos we didn't form teams and there weren't enough us. And there was some duplication, e.g. "Anna's posh/fit friend who was in the pub earlier". Such wit.

With scraps of paper scattered, Anna passed me a note. But unfortunately it said "Alice's mob.. 079…" Not really what I was after. I already had it if I needed it, which I haven't done thus far. She later passed me another one saying that Alice would definitely go on a date. I replied saying "I don't think she fancies me. You?"

Ser-mooth.

Perhaps this is how I should conduct myself on nights out in future. I will remember to pack Post-Its on Saturday.

My proposition didn't get a response. At least I don't think it did. I had sort of forgotten all this happening until I was back round at APR's on Saturday night watching the X-Factor with Dan and Sarah. He found them on the floor to much glee from everyone else.

It's not like I need competition, but on Saturday APR will be all over the newly single Mimi like an Armani suit. "I've been waiting all year for her to dump that wank flannel." (Not his words. Peep Show's I think.) And in every photo I've seen of Mimi, she has Anna draped over her like a velvet suit.

That didn't really work. But it did lead to the funniest phrase I've seen in a while. (The context bit is best.)

I don't know who else will be there on Saturday, but I had better make sure I have plenty of lead in my pencil.

I don't know why I'm apparently unbothered by these girls being 22. That's probably how old Laura 2 is now. As if to remind me of that fact, I got an email today from Nan who attempted the role of facilitator that night. He was pitching his architecture company around his vast circle of contacts, but was deft enough to put in some personal details so it didn't sound too circular. His company looks impressive. He's obviously a bit of an over-achiever, with a first and plenty of awards to his name. And according to his Facebook photos, he has quite a vibrant social life as well. One of the photos below was in his company's brochure and one of them wasn't.




Monday, 24 August 2009

Spent a very relaxing weekend at the parents' house in Leafy East Sheen. Relaxing cos the parents were in Italy. It was a pleasure to spend a little time living in a proper house. I know I'm really lucky to have my own place, and for a one bedroom flat it is large, but it's still a one bedroom flat. Having a garden and stairs and everything is quite a luxury.

On Saturday I went round to Zina's to help with their gardening. I didn't actually do any gardening but just kept little Maya company, leaving Zina and Stu free to the tedium of de-stoning the earth that they will soon turf. That suited me fine.

Maya is such a lovely little girl and I'm very happy to know her. She is so aware of others, so kind and quiet. Much not like her mother. Nah - not really. In naturing and nurturing such a delightful person, Zina has proven herself to be pretty special herself. If proof were needed. That's a small 'if'.

This time last year Maya and Zina came round to Antony's for the children's day of the Notting Hill carnival. We wandered around the bustling streets with Ben H as well, but hung out at Antony's Ladbroke Grove flat mostly. Harriet and Ben and Lizzie were there as well at various points. After a while in the flat Zina rightly felt like going out on her own with Ben H for a little bit to get some food. It was best that Maya didn't see her go, but once she clocked it she was inconsolable. Well inconsolable by those of us there. It was upsetting to not know what the hell to do to stop her crying and make her feel better. We couldn't think of anything and hadn't improved the state of her little mind by the time Zina returned. About 30 seconds later everything was all right.

In the year since Maya has become more comfortable hanging out with the likes of me. But she is apparently still more of an observer when at nursery and isn't as bolshy as her mum would like. I expect she'll turn out quite bolshy enough if they hang out together much longer.

Hmm… It's tricky writing about Maya and I'm not really doing her justice. I had fun reading her stories and cutting up leaves in the garden is all.

Later in the evening when Maya was asleep, Zina and I went for a smoke in the front garden. She had the spliff and a glass of wine. I was fine without the wine but felt like sharing the spliff. Perhaps it was just a good alternative to the contraband. Anyway - I had neither. I waited till the second spliff.

At about 11:30 I set off to Sheen getting two buses back, via Richmond. I must have gone through about 25 or 30 stops and stopped at 3 of them. They were like big red taxis, taking not very direct routes.

As well as the Birmingham Sustrans job, I also saw a more junior position they were advertising for in Farringdon. I cursed myself for not being on top of things these past couple of weeks, as the deadline for it was today. I managed to get the application pack emailed to me and returned it completed by 6pm. It might be in time. The woman on the phone seemed to think it'd be ok. If I get offered the job it would mean a £20k pay cut but I'd definitely take it. We'll see.

I want to enter this competition . But on reflection, none of my dating escapades were particularly hilarious. Perhaps I could Frankingstein them together, but it might start to seem a little preposterous. I'll enter something, just not sure what yet. It had better be better than today's post.

Friday, 21 August 2009

I'm enjoying the first few days off the booze and feel excited by the prospect of a clear head for however long it lasts. I know this is the zeal of the converted, or re-converted, but I don't mind enjoying it all the same.

The best aspect of this dry patch is that I haven't decided how long it'll last. I might step off the wagon next week (I won't) or I might stay on it forever (I won't). But unlike when I gave up in 2005, I genuinely haven't set any deadlines. Back then I started off with a month in mind. When I made it past that and had wavered soberly through my birthday in mid-February, I decided I'd do a year. It was mainly just for the sake of it - so I could tell people I had been able to. And I've done that enough since.

2005 is useful reference and I feel quite relaxed about doing this indeterminate stint, able to just enjoy the benefits. Ok so giving up for good is still a bit of a mind bender but I'm treating that as unlikely and probably unnecessary.

Apart from avoiding the despair of three day hangovers the like of which I had this week, my main priority is getting that new job. I think I already mentioned this necessity before, at least once, but have done fuck all towards it. Mainly because I've spent all my free time recently either drunk, hungover or watching tv or any combination of the three. Now it's Friday night and I'm at the parents' house looking up jobs on their internets. Progress of sorts. DM forwarded me another Sustrans job to go for earlier today. It looks good but isn't worth applying for as I really don't have the experience and, more importantly, it's in Birmingham. But it has cajoled me into looking for others. I am going to apply to volunteer for Sustrans if nothing else, and hope to get a paid job that way.

After the job there is getting fit again, having totally lost it in the last two months. In 2005 I never took getting fit that seriously, but I reckon it must be quite a lot easier to do when dry. I should be able to get one 100 miler in in at the weekends now. Will do one tomorrow probably.

I've also been cooking this week in an effort to eat less crap. As cooking is an anathema to me I go for extreme bulk cooking and freezing in portions. I admit that my horizons are currently narrow: Bolognese on Tuesday, chili on Wednesday (essentially the same thing) and lamb curry yesterday.

The curry was moderately adventurous but it's just a recipe. The hardest part was getting the diced meat off the leg of lamb. Anthony had given me the recipe and suggested the leg rather than the more tricky shoulder (both being better tasting than ready diced lamb). Having cack-handedly sharpened my knife I set about it in front of The Shawshank Redemption. This was my second bloated excuse for a film of the week, as I'd suffered through The Matrix Revolutions on Tuesday whilst waiting for Bolognese to cook. Shawshank's mortal dreariness must have affected my knifing as I was still not finished an hour later. I was imprisoned by lamby walls and had only my bluntish Sabatier rock hammer.

The rest of the preparation only took a few minutes but I'd run out of two of the spices and only realised this when I needed them at the end, at 12:15am. Off I trotted to the 24 hour Sainsbury's, wearing a light grey t-shirt, white tracksuit trousers and Dunlop Green Flash.

Who says you need alcohol for stupid late night escapades?

Fair enough - this one passed off without much incident, although I did get a bit scared when walking passed the rowdy chuck-out throng outside the Walkabout bar. On my way back it occurred to me to whip the seal off the paprika - my only weapon. Cumin was doing nothing for me.

I got home safely and finished making the curry.

At about 1:45am it still wasn't cooked enough so I put it in the oven on low. Don't know why I didn't do that straight away. In the morning it was done and seemed to be tasty. As tasty as Lamb Rogan Josh can be at 9am. So I packed up the portions and was rather disappointed to only get 10. It seemed a little light for 5 hours of cooking/waiting and £25 of ingredients. But I've got 12 Bols and 12 chilis so I'm doing all right. I'll try 3 or 4 different recipes next week and then not cook again for another couple of months.

Here at the parents' there are very slim pickings as they are away on holiday. There's some bacon so I made a bacon sandwich earlier. Three sandwiches in fact, but they were made using water biscuits. As there was no ketchup I used porcini mushroom and white truffle paste. I only used it on the first one though.

Monday, 17 August 2009

It's time to give up drinking again. Not sure for how long. Maybe only for a month, maybe more. Just cannot keep up with two or three heavy nights a week on the sauce, and in a drinking career of about 16 years I have never mastered moderation.

Clare's wedding has proven to be the clincher, although there has been a string of big nights over the last month or so which have ravaged the quite fit post-Etape me into the depressed and not at all fit post-wedding me.

In the previous post I mentioned Tom S's party at which I managed to forget my phone, leaving it at his parents' house. I also misplaced about 3 or so hours of the end of the night. When I woke up I vaguely remembered a brightly lit bar after the garden party at Mr and Mrs S's which was I thought on the first floor in a block of flats. On reflection it was probably another house party.

The rememberable parts of the Tom S's party were fun. I tried mingling, with moderate success but reverted to hanging out with Zina towards the end of the night. I was hitting the fridge quite hard and getting the crook eye from Mr S as I added to his tidying up by a can every ten minutes.

So when I rang up to track down my phone a couple of days later I hoped I'd get to speak to Mrs rather than Mr. I got lucky. She didn't really remember me and asked if I was the one with the baby, not seeming to understand that I am ill-qualified to even look after small bits of plastic.

It turned out that only Tom's sister would be in that evening, so I should speak to her to arrange picking it up. I cycled from my flat in West Hampstead to their Highgate house after getting back from work that evening. To lighten the load I left my pannier at the flat, not thinking about the consequences of getting a puncture, which I duly did, about a ten minute walk from their house. With no lock and a batteryless phone and no useful numbers in my head to use in a phone box, I had little choice but to get a taxi home. This cost £16, including a fairly generous bike-in-back tip.

The phone handset had cost me £20 about 8 months ago. I suppose it was the SIM and its numbers that I was more interested in, but still.

And so to this weekend. I got back from Cousin Antony's very late on Friday night and was woken at about 9:30am on Saturday by Zina phoning me. This was fortunate since I hadn't thought to set an alarm. I didn't have much time as she, Stu and little Maya were on their way over to pick me up for the drive up North. I just about got myself ready in time, and fortunately had time to print out Al's emailed 'telegram' from Madagascar, with a photo of him to go with it. This ended up getting read out at the beginning of the best man's speech as the only (genuine) message for Clare and Khaleel.

Printing out his email was about the only thing I managed to do adequately the whole day.

We got to the wedding venue with about six minutes to spare. Clare was already there having photos taken by her car outside. She is all too familiar with my (and Zina's) tardiness from ten years of experience, but was perhaps hoping for a bit better on her wedding day. Still, we weren't the last to arrive as pretty girl called Lynn came and sat next to me in one of the few empty seats left. Bad name I know, but I let her off.

A few months ago I'd asked Clare what the single girl situation would be like at her wedding and she'd said 'slim'. Unfortunately what she meant by this was 'not many'. Actually she didn’t say ‘slim’ at all; I just made that up. She did say that there was only one possibility and she was already a bit over-subscribed.

Lynn seemed single enough, but perhaps her other half hadn't been invited or couldn’t make it. We struck up conversation about how we could smell burnt toast. It was her choice of topic. After the ceremony everyone did the usual thing and hung out with their friends. I then realised that I'd left Al's 'telegram' in my hotel room a mile away. Stu and I drove back for it and we saw Lynn getting something out of the car as we left. I made some hopeless quip about her car being last in line. 'Quip' is a massive overstatement.

That was the last I'd say to her till a good few hours and a good few glasses of wine had elapsed.

It has been well documented (by me) that I'm hardly deft at chatting girls up at the best of times. After dinner and all its associated wine it was certainly not the best of times. But before I got to make a fool of myself in front of Lynn, I walked with Clare out to the front of her grand venue to see it lit up in the darkness. I think I might have spent the whole time talking about me. Unbelievable. It would have been a far more enjoyable walk had I been sober and I remember thinking that at the time, not just in retrospect. Still I suppose I looked cool enough, escorting the beautiful bride back to the party.

I don't actually remember what I said to Lynn later. I know it started weirdly as I was outside talking to Stu and she came out with her two friends who were a couple. I introduced Lynn, showing off that I could remember her name, not mentioning that the remembering was in part due to it not being a very nice name and me wondering if marrying a Lynn would be a workable situation. Like some sort of mind reader she seemed to be the opposite of impressed at my recollection. There was a fair amount of the pinching and hair-pulling style of flirting that Khaleel mentioned in his speech about Clare. But I think in Lynn's case it was probably just an attempt to shut up a drunken buffoon.

I ended up talking to her accounted-for friend whilst she spoke to Stu. Facebook tells me that her friend was called Louise. And is a friend of Naser. Louise was a medic just like Lynn, Clare, Khaleel and everyone else there. (It would have been an excellent place to pull a whitey and I tried my hardest.) More specifically she was a GP so I started whinging about having to pay for a medical certificate for cycling events! Jesus - I was toasted but that was inexcusably bad conversation. Anything would have been better - toast itself.

Actually - that's it. Can't recall much else. There were shots at the end. And some difficulty getting back into the hotel, with Zina threatening to repeat her drainpipe-shinning antics of a few years ago.

And then it was the next day and a garden party round at Mr and Mrs Clare's house. I felt pretty bad but not as bad as I might've been. Managed to drink a couple of glasses of dog hair and helped Maya with some drawing.

Lynn turned up a bit later and came over to the bench Stu, Maya and I were on. I think she was more interested in Stu. Or Maya perhaps. Anyway I fully failed to make a good impression for the second (or maybe third, fourth or fifth) time in 24 hours.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

In the last half hour I've chewed through a whole pack of 10 Wrigley's Extra. I don't have much patience for chewing gum. Don't even like the stuff. I only bought the pack to make my corner shop order up to £5 last night; the remainder was made up of four tins of Stella. I didn't really want four. Two would have been enough. I shouldn't have even gone for two.

It was already 11:30pm on a Wednesday. We'd just won the local pub quiz and I'd cycled home to a fridge empty of beer. That should've been a good thing.

If you can believe it, the quiz had been pretty exciting. At the beginning of proceedings the likeable quiz-master announced that there had been complaints of too much trivia in recent weeks. Eh? So the first of the five rounds was on Useful Knowledge. I think we got the lowest score of all ten teams, some 6 or 7 points off the lead. One particularly special moment was when we tried to work out at what percentage of alcohol in the blood it became illegal to drive. It has some name or other, but I've already forgotten that piece of Useful Knowledge. Our reasoning was that a pint of Kronenbourg was about the limit. That has 5% alcohol. As a human has about ten pints of blood, the level must be a tenth of 5%... 0.5%.

We were not nearly right as the answer was 0.08%. I later realised that we'd rather assumed that the throat was part of a human's circulatory system.

We didn't fare much better on the next tedious round about the Royals. 12 or 13 points down after two rounds.

Then the picture round came to save our bacon. It was 12 album covers of sufficient obscurity to stick it to the oldies who had dined out on the previous rounds. No Monteverdi here. We got 19 out of the 24 titles/artists and were suddenly back in it. One team got 2 out 24.

We held steady on the fourth round of cheeses from around the world, and kicked more musical ass in the last round to finish everyone off. Quiz Lazaruses, and £90 to show for it.

Perhaps I can blame the giddy high of victory on my desire to further up my blood alcohol percentages. I got back to the flat, put my keys into the lock on the inside of my door - my usual idiot-proofing to ensure I wouldn't forget them on my way out. A trick I learnt off cousin Antony. Not that he's an idiot. I parked my bike in its room and checked the fridge.

Empty. Well, there was the usual tomato ketchup, but that wasn't going to help my percentages. At this point I started writing a text to Harriet and left the flat to go to the local late shop.

Harriet's husband Ben is planning a 7 quizzes in 7 days short film. I texted her our victory and pitched Adrian as the go-to guy for music in Ben's super 7.

After the shop I returned with four cans, one pack of gum and no keys. I put the cans down on a ledge by the communal front door and headed back to the shop with my fingers crossed. Nothing. I even checked the pavement on the way back in case my hole ridden left pocket had tried to stitch me up. Still nothing.

Surely I hadn't been an idiot, had I?

Not to worry, Anthony lived round the corner and had a spare set for me. I'd cycled back from the pub with him so could just call and get them off him. It had already occured to me that it might seem a little strange that it had taken me 15 minutes to cycle the 500m to my house and work out I'd lost my keys. And how would I explain my lack of bike when I went to get the keys off him? I decided to use a blog for that, if it was necessary, which it no doubt wasn't.

Sure enough he had a spare set, but when he checked this I realised that the communal door lock has changed since I gave him the keys. The situation was deteriating.

Patricia lives in the flat above me. I have a rather stilted relationship with her. Ostensibly we get on well and I've been round to her flat to chat about flat stuff before. There was even wine. And she kissed me goodbye at the end of it. On the cheek of course. She is about 45. And not heterosexual. Bi perhaps.

She is extremely efficient with all things flat related. Always arranging for work to be done, renewals of this and checks of that. I have a more hands-off approach, so I try my hardest to avoid her. In fact on Tuesday evening when I cycled up to the flat with a lamb curry from Bombay Bicycle Club hooked over my handlebars (too salty) and saw her fussing around the bins, I simply cycled straight past and waited 50m up the road. So the lamb was cold and salty.

Back to last night and here I was at 11:45pm facing the prospect of buzzing Patricia to let me through the communal door so I might get to my front door to use the key that I hadn't yet got off Anthony.

Her bedroom light was on and I know from her elephantine footsteps that she doesn't usually go to bed till quite late, so I took the plunge hoping she wouldn't be cross or, worse still, delighted. I made the daft error of not pushing the buzzer firmly, so I couldn't be sure if it had buzzed or not. The backlighting had flickered, but was that enough? I couldn't double buzz. That would seem desperate.

I then realised I had her number (for purely administrative reasons). Having recovered my phone from Tom's parents' house (I'll post about that later) the day before, I was mobile again and should have texted her. I know that our flats' buzzers make a fearful noise.

So I sent her a grovelling text, hid the cans in the garden and waited. A few seconds later the communal light was on and she opened the door to let me in. After a half-cut explanation she gave me her spare key. That doesn't even sound like a euphemism and it certainly isn't one.

Now I was free to set off to Anthony's on foot to collect my inner door key. Now I am sounding euphemistic.

I could even drink a beer on the way, and I did. But I hadn't quite finished it by the time I got round there, so hid it behind a lamppost on his road. I picked up the key off him and set off home, picking up the lamppost lager, regretting having left the other three in the garden. (I am exaggerating, slightly.)

As I bounded round the corner on to my road I dropped the nearly empty can. It was if I was over the limit or something. I sheepishly picked it up and carried on walking, trying to avoid eye contact with the attractive girl walking towards me. As she passed me (me nearly in the hedge such was the avoidance I was attempting) she said "can I buy that can off you?"

I don't know what percentage she was rocking, but this request certainly flummoxed me. I took a moment to laugh and then told her that unfortunately it was empty. We carried on our separate ways, me wondering if she had been taking the piss. But my thoughts were interrupted when she hailed me again. She'd seen the phonebox on the corner of Anthony's road and wondered if I had two 50ps for a pound coin. As I walked back to her I checked my good pocket but only had one 50 and two 20s. She offered me a 10p profit but I refused. I even had three 1s and a 2, making 95p. I was giddy with the £90 quiz success. And she was very good looking. Mind you I had seen Patricia with bed hair only minutes before, so maybe the plague would have seemed pretty right then.

That's pretty much the end of the mission. Full of abject idiocy. How did I leave the flat, opening the inner door with my hand touching the keys but not extracting them. Why was I going to buy more beer anyway? Why did I buzz Patricia? Why didn't I take at least one extra can for the journey to Anthony's, if only to sell to a beautiful girl? Why didn't I lend her my mobile when she said she needed the phonebox? Why didn't I then ask her to put her number into it?