Part One ~
I spent last night in a pleasant riverside pub for the birthday of my now married Muslim lady friend. It was all rather enjoyable apart from the journey there, a rush hour hell spent stood on the tube being crushed by one hundred other commuters. In my hand was the plastic battleaxe I'd bought her, which kept blasting out loud, annoying axe-clashing sounds every 12 seconds, making people look over and fidget while I grimaced and went red.
When I arrived at the pub sweating and keen to throw the axe into the fucking Thames, I walked over to a gaggle of women and got introduced to a friend of the birthday girl called Kathy, who was very cute and bubbly and extremely familiar looking. I asked if I'd met her before.
Really? Wasn't it years ago, perhaps? At another function? Maybe work? Had I ever worked with her?
The birthday girl interrupted. 'Does she look like Amira?' she asked, mentioning the trigger word. Amira had been the stunning French girl I once dated who utterly destroyed me. We had gone out for a few months. She overawed me with her beauty. I wondered how I'd managed to win the Sex Lottery. And then she dumped me with a fair degree of spurning, turning into the Queen of the Harpies in the process. Kathy thankfully wasn't Amira.
'God no,' I answered my friend while the girls listened, 'Amira was gorgeous.'
There was absolutely no apology on earth that could undo that sentence. All the women looked horrified. Kathy looked like she wanted to disembowel me.
'Go on, fuck off,' said the birthday girl.
Part Two ~
Stag VI, last week. I hadn't mentioned it before, for it was The Most Civilised Stag on Earth. It was spent in the Stag's garden, a bunch of men (and someone's girlfriend) eating salad and drinking lagers (them) or Snakebite and Black (me). We were going to head off to a restaurant, but that got substituted for staying put. Someone suggested we get rowdy and hire a stripper (me), but that got dismissed for going in to watch a video (everyone else).
The stag was held in the far side of the East End, a 27-stop tube journey to get to, followed by a half-hour walk through one of our capital's more ethnically diverse areas. During the walk in, I'd had to navigate my way through a group of Sikhs who had just left their temple and were waiting for transport home.
'Excuse me,' I said as I approached an old bearded man in a turban. He moved out of the way with a 'Sorry', to which I replied loudly and confidently 'Tuttee goo'.
A week earlier, I had sent a text to my Sikh mate Sukhbinder. One of my local newsagents is Sikh, and I often greet him with a white liberal Sas Re Akal. It occurred to me that I have never known what 'Thank you' is in Punjabi, to which Suki texted back 'Tuttee goo.'
Suki came round to see me and Large Northern Flatmate last night. Almost immediately, he asked if I'd Tuttee goo'd anyone.
'Why yes, as a matter of fact,' I announced proudly. 'I said it to an old man and his family as they were stood outside their gurdwara.'
Suki roared with laughter, a little too hard for my liking. My smile dropped. I had made the mistake of assuming that Suki was a decent human being.
'Right. It obviously wasn't 'Thank you,' then. What did you have me say?'
'Small piece of shit,' he replied, then laughed for about another half an hour.