Thursday, May 29, 2008

Addiction

This is getting ridiculous; I've had little sleep. My boss told me to go home today because I was snappy and irritable and I fell for his reverse psychology, snapping back that I was fine and staying put.

Calling people up later on, a customer yelled that I was being rude, then slammed the phone down on me. (I'd spent the afternoon chasing people who haven't paid us in three months, who then take the moral high ground and get snotty with me because I remind them that they promised payment last week and still nothing's arrived.)

And this angry state of mind is largely due to lack of sleep - a lack of sleep thanks to Spider fucking Solitaire.

I can't stop myself. It is a drug. I don't write anymore. I don't watch TV. I barely do anything other than turn my computer on, fire up something on Youtube, then play 50 games of Solitaire whilst George Galloway rants in the background.

(I'll say this for Spider Solitaire: it is the perfect filling for a multitask sandwich. There is nothing that can't be listened to or even watched whilst losing to a simple card-based game.)

So. It is now 11:45pm and I'm squeezing this post out having forced myself, finally, from its sweet caress.

And here's my two vital titbits to impart:

1) Rob's stag, my Stag number 5, is tomorrow. I'm off to Newquay via Balham, fucking Balham, where Garry will pick me up (in 8 hours time). If you are in Newquay this weekend, please do say hello. I will be in the politest group amid all the other raucous, vomitting stag rabbles.

I'd take my camera but obviously it's still stolen.

2) I gave up waiting for my ineffectual mate to get Lovely Young Lady's phone number, and have stalked her instead (on the advice, it has to be said, of my mate Caspar who basically said, 'Go on, stalk her.')
The frightening part was the speed and efficiency of the whole process. I googled her place of work, clicked the first link and selected 'People', then came across not just her email address but a massive fucking picture of her.

Two weeks I waited for my mate to call me back with information, and he still hasn't replied. I found what I needed to in approximately 40 seconds. All of which merely reinforces my belief that if you want something done, Don't Ask Dan.

So, when my boss wasn't looking, I wrote Lovely Young Lady an email (composed from within a Word document lest I got spotted using Hotmail on company time). I tingled on seeing her name when she replied, a huge body of work that was friendly and cheerful. There were no tell-tale signs of an impending date (such as her agreement that we 'meet for a latte'), but friendly it was.

Which makes me think that she could just be one of those Friendly Girls™.

I've met these Friendly Girls™ before. Eager, yet disinterested. Any similarities to persons flirtatious and keen are purely coincidental.

Diane at University was one such Friendly Girl, and blonde, and bubbly, and attractive. We got on really well in the first year - well enough that she invited me up to her family home over the summer.

I drove up there at breakneck speed and met her Mum, Dad, brother and bunny rabbit and, after getting in to what was then the top nightclub in the country, her fucking boyfriend.

She'd neglected to mention him ever, remaining consistently Friendly™ and good-natured for about the first five or six months of University life I shared with her.

But don't ask me about women. Maybe friendly girls are really keen girls and are just biding their time until they suss you out.

Or maybe they really are disinterested yet incapable of indifference.

Fuck it. I'm going to bed. I want to be well rested for this mammoth six-hour drive tomorrow morning. That I'm merely a passenger of.

Newquay, look out - etc etc.

I hope I have sex.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chris Rock: No Apologies

May 23rd 2008, the O2 arena - formerly the Millennium Dome. I never go out that far east. Truth be told, I never really go out to events at all; not to concerts (last one I can remember was Kids From Fame in 1983), not to festivals (I went to the first Creamfields and lost my friends almost instantly, for 11 hours), not to anything remotely big, exciting, eventful.

Because I hate the hassle, the waiting, and the general public. (I do actually care for all humanity. I just don't want to queue for hours with a gang of chavs just so I can go to the toilet.)

But this was Chris Rock's first tour of the UK, and my mate Ed got me a ticket.

Ed used to do stand-up. Ed was also the last (and only) stand-up I ever saw live. The experience petrified me, more so than I think it did Ed. He was in an open mic competition that was also being televised, and when it was his turn to approach the stage, my heart was pounding. He was great. In fact, he won that evening's slot (but we missed his winning at the end as Large Northern Flatmate's feet were hurting so we had to leave for a nearby pub immediately after Ed finished his bit.)

I have a lot of admiration for anyone who can a) Write their own material and then b) Perform it verbatim to a large group of people. After all, following my Best Man's speech, I know how exhilarating and terrifying the experience can be.

And, following a one-and-a-half hour monologue from Rock to a sell-out 15,000 capacity auditorium, I was overawed. It's one thing to admire him on television, and another to see him in his actual environment, live, in front of an audience. And make that a huge audience. And enormous audience. A vast swathe of humanity audience.

As far as his performance went, it was flawless, apart from when he stumbled early on - beginning a piece on Hilary Clinton then suddenly going 'Ah, sorry.. sorry,' then correcting himself and continuing where he left of - unsurprisingly, they cut out these sparse errors from the DVDs - but after that, he didn't shut up; one continual, booming 90 minute monologue entirely from memory with absolutely no pauses, no drink of water, not even a quick mop of his brow.

As far as his set went, he covered his usual themes of politics, relationships, sex et al, with some beautifully observed pieces, to paraphrase;

'People are complaining about Barack Obama's former pastor, a 75-year-old black man, for being racist. How many 75-year-old black men do you know who don't hate white people? They lynched all his friends in 3rd grade.'

'There are only four black people where I live in Alpine, New Jersey. There's me. Another is Mary J. Blige, one of the greatest R&B singers of our generation. Then there's Jay Z, one of the greatest rappers of our time. And finally, there's Denzel Washington, one of the finest actors we've ever had. All of us are at the very top of our game. Do you know what my white neighbour does? He's a fucking dentist. Do you know what a black man has to do to become a succesful dentist? He has to invent teeth.'

There was so much more, of course, but I'm at pains to remember it all. I'm still not sure how he does it. But then again, as Chris Rock said, he has a career he loves. And people with careers should shut the fuck up, as most people have jobs. With careers, there's never enough time. '5.30? Dammit.' In a job, there's too much time. '9.15?? FUCK!'

All of which served to remind me that if anyone wants to be a success at anything, they have to stick at it ruthlessly, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, forever.

Fuck.

And in other news, I texted my friend to see how the number gathering was going. That was two days ago. No reply.

Fuck.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Eight Dull Revelations

'Revelation' is probably too strong a word. You may get the impression that I'm about to reveal that I'm really a woman, or George Michael.

I'm neither. I'm still me. I just had a few things to mention, and here they are:

Revelation 1: Health

I've been on an insane health kick for a couple of weeks, cycling to work, swimming, going to the gym when I get home, and generally boring myself shitless.

I've also not smoked for 4 days. This isn't because I want to, but because in cycling to work, swimming, going to the gym when I get home, and generally boring myself shitless, it's become apparent that I can no longer breathe properly.

16 years of smoking has finally caught up with me. (The trick is to keep smoking and never exercise, and thus never realise how fucked your lungs are.)

It's also getting increasingly harder, with age, to actually shift weight. The rumours are true. Getting older really is rubbish in every respect.

Revelation 2: Lethargy

Something's had to give, what with all this health nonsense and for me, it's been a cessation in anything creative (unless you count this blog, the creative equivalent of a brick, on the floor, doing nothing.) I now actually look forward to returning home and collapsing post-gym in front of the TV, eating dinner and watching crap like a vapid, docile, non-productive member of society being told what things I need to buy in order to be happy.

Once upon a time, I spent my evenings and weekends writing (snigger) my brilliant book, but I'll restart that when I'm 12 stone with the toned, muscular body of a Greek God.

So that'll never see the light of day, then.

Revelation 3: Über-Lethargy

Not writing's one thing, but playing Spider Solitaire at least thirty times before allowing yourself to go to bed, that's slightly weird. As is surfing Youtube for anything - and I mean ANYTHING. Current random searches because I'm bored with life include watching reactions to the 2 Girls 1 Cup video, Flight of the Conchords skits, and random episodes of Sharpe which I've never seen and had no prior interest in ever before. And still don't.

Oh, and Hugh Laurie singing about a lid. Which reminds me, I once bumped into Stephen Fry exiting a toilet in Soho House. So there.

Revelation 4: Dodgy Ticker

I was in the living room watching Chelsea repeatedly kick a round ball onto Manchester United's goalposts in Moscow last night, while Large Northern Flatmate sat there strangely subdued. He had been suffering from chest pains for several days which was beginning to unsettle me with his fidgeting and stoic non-whinging. About half an hour into the match, Large Northern Flatmate casually mentioned that his left arm had gone numb.
So I called for an ambulance without telling him. He was particularly pissed off about missing the second half of the game but as luck would have it, the paramedics checked him out in the wagon outside our flat and gave him a (moderately) clean bill of health. Turns out it was a combination of high blood pressure, hay fever, and a sore left arm.

Admission 5: My Camera Hasn't Been Returned

One Christmas present, only used twice, effectively lost for good at a double-friends' wedding where I was Best Man. I hesitate to use the word 'stolen', but it's pretty much gone forever and I feel sick to the pit of my stomach.
Brand new, very expensive, digital, decent.

Brilliant.

Revelation 6: The Near Future

I'm off to see Chris Rock tomorrow night. My first huge stand up comedy gig.
The following weekend, I'm off to Newquay for my FIFTH FUCKING STAG DO. Two weeks later, I'm off on my SIXTH.

No kidding.

Revelation 7: We Are All Ageing Relentlessly

There are two types of people in the world; those that find the following fascinating and slightly unnerving, and those that couldn't give a toss:

I met a lovely young lady last weekend, and she pointed out that this September's enrolling University students will have been born in the Nineties.

I find that utterly disturbing. How can anyone born in 1990 be going on to Higher Education? Surely they're still in kindergarten?

Revelation 8: Lovely Young Lady

Ah, yes. A lovely young lady indeed. Met her last week. Prompted a wealth of comments from people demanding I get her number, under pain of death.

So, here goes...

A day passed, and I was kinda wishing I did have her number after all. So I texted my mate Dan, but he bizarrely didn't respond, so I invent scenarios:
She doesn't want to see me, and I've now put him in an awkward position.
She does want to see me, but he's dramatically lost his phone.
Because my phone was stolen in Barcelona recently, I'm using his old number and he's literally not getting the message.

So I email him, but Dan possesses the only email address on Earth that reacts badly to mine and it swiftly - as it has always done - bounces back.

So I phone him. The damn thing goes to voicemail. And it's not a wacky personalised message either, but one of those generic ladies telling you to speak after the beep. I leave a message, but it's vague and non-incriminating, just in case it's not actually his phone.

Still no reply. I contact other friends to make sure Dan's number is correct. It is now Tuesday. When I have confirmation, I leave a more specific message telling him to call me urgently as twenty blog commentators want me to get a life.

Dan phones. I am excited. This is like being a teenager again, and COOL SEXY THINGS could happen (unless you had my teenage life, in which case 'Cool sexy things' meant watching blurry VHS pornography whilst eating choc ices).
Dan seems excited for me. He says he will speak to his wife, who will contact Lovely Young Lady and ask about phone numbers. Neither of us are sure what's going to happen and, as a contingency, we agree that if the news is bad - i.e. she refuses to hand over her digits - then I will not be contacted.







I have not been contacted.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Birthday Party

To tell you the truth, I didn't want to go - not because I didn't fancy it, more that I was shattered by a general malaise, a lack of vitamin C, and probably B and A too, and being kept awake at the weekend - the sleep catch-up days - by a neighbouring Pole who likes to blast out Radio 2 at 9am. It was all playing havoc with my delicate state of mind.

Nonetheless, Kate, the wife of my old Uni mate Dan, had invited me to her birthday party. I was in two minds.

'You might meet someone,' said Large Northern Flatmate.
'Ha!' I ejaculated. "Fat chance."
Large Northern Flatmate stopped short of recommending I stay in with him. After all, his girlfriend was coming over - which is why he wasn't going himself - and nothing more could put the sexual dampeners on their relationship than the sight of me watching telly in a towel.

'Fuck it, I'm going to go,' I announced. Despite having all the energy of roadkill, I couldn't face the idea of returning to work on Monday morning having done nothing more with my weekend than drinking cheap wine, chainsmoking, and playing Spider fucking Solitaire on the computer.

When I got to the pub, I was spaced out, an exhausted fish out of water. Dan was pleased to see me, but then he's pleased to see everyone. His birthday wife Kate was obviously chatting to all the other guests, and I only knew Stuart, another friend from University, there with his 8 week old baby daughter and new wife.

I tried talking to her at one point while she sat in the corner with her babe in her arms, facing her.
'Is she asleep?' I offered.
'Huh?' she said over the music.
'IS SHE ASLEEP?'' If she was, she wouldn't be for much longer.
'What?'
I leant in, grinning, and staring at the back of her child's head.
'I said, 'IS SHE ASLEEP?'
'Uh, no. She's feeding.'
I grimaced. Suddenly I could see tit. Oh god, social awkwardness, social awkwardness.

Brilliant. I've known her for three minutes and already I've seen her nipple being sucked.

The other guests were older than I expected; this was a Fortieth birthday party after all. Even Dan's father was there. I last met him at Dan's stag party - my first one - almost a decade ago. Everyone else seemed to be coupled. Brilliant.

Then I saw a cute girl nearby. Very cute. Probably someone's girlfriend. With nothing else to do, I sauntered closer to the buffet table and wolfed down some chicken on sticks when the girl came towards me to grab a chair.
Strangely, somehow, she looked familiar.

'I know you, don't I?'
'Yes, we met at Dan's Thirtieth.'
I searched my mind. Possibly.
'I'd arrived late; you were very drunk.'
I recoiled at the suggestion. Although it is not unknown for me to get very drunk, I am incredibly good at hiding it. My 'very drunk' doesn't involve rolling around, slurring, smashing things, vomiting, and joining AA the following morning. It's similar, but on a much smaller, more socially acceptable level.
Honestly.

We sat down and chatted, and I pieced together the details of this ambiguous meeting; it was in the East End. It was the upstairs of a pub with a DJ. I was there with Hippy Dave. Yes, I was drunk, but I prefer the term 'Merrily Controlled'. I did remember it.

Apparently, I had told her that she looked like Liv Tyler. I could see why. And I recall, back then, being gutted that she had to leave so early as she was lovely. Chatting to her properly this time, I realised how fabulous she is. She has a great laugh. She's cute and intelligent and self-deprecating, like a Peep Show girl. ("She knows about cubits, she's not comfortable in her own skin, she's one of Me!")

So naturally, as we talked, I braced myself for the word 'Boyfriend' to invade the conversation like the German Army marching into Paris.
It didn't.
Casually, I checked out her left hand - no rings.
I offered to buy her a drink but she was insistent - genuinely, resolutely adamant that she should buy me a drink instead. Jesus! (I politely refused.)

As we sat and talked, the minutes turned to hours. We found ourselves not bothering to mingle, preferring instead to chat in the corner about all manner of things. I decided not to go outside for a cigarette as I guessed that she'd be forced to chat to other people and that would be the end of our conversation. Regrettably she no longer lives in London but bloody Leicestershire some 100 motherfucking miles away. Still, it beats New York's 8,000 mile round-trip.

But there was one thing I couldn't understand. How the hell did she get to 31 without being snared by some swaggering arsehole??? She's like an unclaimed lottery ticket; one with charm and looks and intelligence and a sense of humour. It's only a matter of time before other men discover she's the female equivalent of a four-bedroomed townhouse in Kensington that's come on the market for a tenner.

Things were going fine until we had to leave. I said I would escort her to a tube station and, as we said our goodbyes to the other partygoers, Dan grabbed me conspiratorially.
'She's a lovely girl,' he said. 'I put in a good word for you.'
'Erm, what?'

I looked around. One of the female guests was staring at me with the same affection one might feel towards a puppy that would normally have shat on the carpet, but hasn't. We had been the object of scrutiny the whole evening.

Oh no. This was becoming the Goodbye Walk to the tube. Don't Goodbye Kisses happen at the end of the Goodbye Walk? Oh Fucksticks. I'm going to crash and burn.

We seemed to get on, but is she just being friendly? Maybe she's like the Unicorn, or God, one of those mythical, non-existent creatures; The Woman Who Seems To Like Me. But is she actually keen? She's not particularly tactile. She rates highly on the chatometer, but gets nil points for actual flirting.

We left the pub and out into the cool night. I lit a cigarette on impulse and soon gathered that she didn't smoke. My male intuition (78% less accurate than the female one) gauged that I'd gone down in her estimation. On extinguishing my cigarette, I reached for my chewing gum and offered her one, which she took.
Fuck, does this mean a goodbye kiss is on the cards? Oh Buddha.
Suddenly I began to shit it. Our long, easy conversation in the pub was beginning to elude me as I realised the Enormity of Everything. I was going to blow this all to smithereens.

As we got to Holborn tube, I realised it had gone midnight. Now I had another reason to panic as we were minutes away from missing the last tube. We got deep underground to the Piccadilly line where I was going west and she was heading east. Here we go...

'Well goodbye,' I said.
'Goodbye,' she replied.
Is she being aloof here? What bodypart is coming towards me? Aha! A cheek. I can handle a cheek. I gave her a kiss on it and gave her a small hug, hoping I didn't smell too much of cheap cigarettes.

Then I ballsed it up at the very last hurdle. There were only ever two options:
a) Tell her I had a great time and, coolly and calmly, leave, probably forever.
b) Tell her I had a great time, and ask for her number - despite time being of the essence - then coolly and calmy leave.

Instead, I opted for the middle way - the stupid, non-existent middle way.
As we were about to walk off, I found myself saying 'Oh, just one more thing...'
She stopped and turned.
'I, um... Oh.'
I realised I had something vitally important to tell her, but I didn't know what it was. My mind was absolutely empty; a vast, expansive tract of fuck-all.
'Umm, you see... ah! I don't quite know what I'm trying to say. It can't be important, obviously. Never mind.'
She looked confused. I was eighteen and inept again.

I think I was after a number, or some opportunity to meet up, but I was also aware that she's not local anymore and we were going to miss our trains at this rate.
'Forget it,' I said. 'Goodbye!'
I ran off.

Smoooothe.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Most Embarrassing Thing In The World, Ever

Not committed by me for once, but by this train driver in Amsterdam.

So she's alone in the driver's carriage up front and presumably becomes overwhelmed by extreme horniness. Well... no-one would ever know. After all, she's by herself in a little box, and the door's locked.

She left the intercom on...



If I had been one of the passengers, I would've applauded at the end. Then tried to arrange a date.

UPDATE 3pm: Ok, it's probably faked. I feel a little bit stupid. Again.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Holy Matrimony, Batman

I did it. I did the Best Man speech.

I had been shitting it, mainly because I enjoy public speaking as much as I enjoy having my testicles nailed to a windmill in a hurricane but, in the event, I needn't have worried. I knew in my heart of hearts that it would turn out OK, but that didn't stop my brain from going into Needless Panic overdrive. My main concern was that I would tremble visibly, or that fear would crack my voice, or I would simply quietly wet myself in front of everyone.

Failing that, my imagination added 'fainting' to my mental repertoire of things that could go wrong, or else getting over excited and tripping into the bride's mother and inadvertently shoving her face into her dessert.

Instead, I stood up and delivered an okay speech to a crowd that responded fairly pleasantly.

This may or may not have been due to the fact that 50% of the guests were Muslim, thus were unused to the tradition of the bawdy Best Man's speech and, more importantly, were also stone cold sober. But more on that later.

I spent the weekend being embarrassed by tremendous hospitality and eating my own body weight in curry. I was the sole Jew in a house of Muslims and left wishing to whatever God there is or isn't that the entire planet should show at least 1% of the friendship and kindness I was afforded. Luke's family were equally fabulous, plying me with beer and cigarettes and behaving outrageously all weekend. His sister should be made a Dame for services to Persistently Having Fun.

We drove up to East Anglia on Thursday night to go to the Bride's family home. Sabina had a henna party which neither the groom or myself knew much about. Suffice to say, when we arrived, we were barred from entering by her sister and Auntie (who welcomed me with a Shalom, which I thought was a nice touch). Luke, as tradition dictates, had to pay to get in which I found terribly amusing. Luke was less amused as he handed over a tenner, only for Sabina's sister to say, 'Not enough. Keep going.'

£40 of Luke's money later, we were allowed in and escorted to the garden marquee which - disconcertingly - was stuffed with glamorous women in saris and cousins from all over Britain, France, and, for some reason, Sacramento. We had come straight from work and had on t-shirts and jeans, of which mine were ripped to buggery.

Then Sabina appeared, looking stunning in a red gown heaving with jewels. The next thing we knew, we were in something akin to a press junket as family members came up and filmed us and posed for pictures. This took about twenty minutes while I sat there wondering if I should be at the top table at all, and trying desperately to cover up the rip in my jeans.

After dancing to Bollywood hits til midnight, Luke and I went to sleep in a surprisingly flash caravan. Sabina's family, what seemed like about forty people, had the house. I'm still not sure where they all slept.

The following day was spent getting the hall ready, meeting Luke's family, feeling overwhelmed at yet more hospitality, drinking beer, and being unable to sleep as I mentally ran through the speech til 3am.

I managed to occupy myself on the day of the wedding by running around sweating profusely in a tux and looking like a casino bouncer. It didn't help that it was the hottest day of the year either, or that the bride was late and I had the registrar barking at me that she had another wedding to officiate in an hour, and Where is she?

It was then that I wished I'd updated my new phone with numbers as I'd had my last one stolen on Luke's stag.

Then, Sabina arrived in tears (I chose not to ask why and put it down to Generic Female Happiness, and not her Dad holding her up by ironing his trousers at the last minute), and my two mates married each other. I would've seen it in more detail, but I chose not to stand with the groom as I didn't feel I should - something I now regret - and noticed that all the front seats had gone. So I hovered at the back, unable to hear the vows as I sat in the screaming babies section. Then someone broke the serenity of the occasion with a violently loud phone jingle (me, I'm afraid) and, in the words of Ginger Spice and the other talentless harridans, Two became One.

I had to corral everyone out of the Town Hall, then had to scream at family members to pose for photos outside the ruins of a 1,000 year-old castle, where I severely sunburned myself.

I started to panic as our taxi escorted us to the reception hall, for that was to be the scene of my speech fiasco. Curry was served. I was repeatedly told to fuck off out of the kitchen by the caterers, as I was scurrying around in an ice bucket for beers for the white people.

I didn't eat too much wedding curry, as my appetite had vanished and had trouble keeping it in. Now public vomiting became a new scenario to worry about. Sat at the top table again, I ate to the sight of 130 people crammed into the hall.

Then I shat myself. Fear had constipated me for two days. An equivalent days' worth of curry had undone the damage. My anus had begun to seal over like a piercing minus its earring, and I was in agony. Once I had emerged sweating and exhausted from the cubicle to wild laughter from the groom and one of our friends, I had to about-turn and run back in for seconds.

Several people were now remarking that I looked feverish and appeared to be burning up, a likely combination of curry overdose, sunburn, fear, and the squits.

Back in the hall, Luke's Mum gave me some Kalms tablets so I would chill the fuck out. I had now bored everyone about how nervous I was, and that moment was approaching. Luke spoke first, quietly and sincerely, and presented various people with presents. I was quite touched and surprised to receive some aftershave, and a guidebook to Barcelona that apparently, I should've taken with to the stag.

Then a strange thing happened. I calmed down. I stood up to bizarrely rapturous cheers (and apparently went as white as a sheet), which will forever be implanted in the sparse 'Feeling Loved' part of my brain, and was cool enough to ad-lib that their welcome would prove to be an enormous anti-climax.

Then I ad libbed by thanking the groom for his 'Luke, warm speech', which was met with lukewarm laughter, and I made a mental note to stick to the script.

I got one paragraph in and inexplicably yelled out, 'I'm doing it, I'm actually doing it!', which bemused pretty much everyone, then I went on to offend the bride by explaining how they met, saying that I used to live with Luke, and work with Sabina, where "I was very fortunate to meet this fabulous, vivacious, intelligent, caring, and very, very beautiful woman,"
(Dramatic pause)
"and she knew Sabina."

I would've liked bigger laughs at that point, but one titter at the back sufficed. Everything else was a bit of a blur. The speech could've been a lot more raucous. After all, every single anecdote about Luke involves him getting mind numbingly drunk, breaking a body part, and vomiting, all pretty much a Best Man's wet dream. Sadly, I couldn't use much it. I thought it might not go down too well with Sabina's extended family. I did mention that he once pushed a garden roller into a hotel swimming pool, and overheard him yelling, "That never happened!" Much later, Ali casually told me that Luke did chuck a green frog waste bin over a cliff.

I could've used that.

I stuffed my face at the curry buffet with a vengeance a few hours later, hid a bottle of champagne for safekeeping later, and danced to Bhangra all night - well, most of the night. By and large, I was sweating profusely and had to make frequent stops outside to cool down and have a drink and a smoke with the pissheads (re: non-Muslims) outside.

The wedding was absolutely fantastic. Although I chose not to get too hammered out of respect for half the guests not drinking on religious grounds, I still managed it anyway. I was surrounded by so many friends and lovely family members who weren't actually from my family, that it even made me re-evaluate my decision to elope to Barbados rather than go through the bankruptcy and sheer panic of a normal wedding - if, of course, I actually had a girlfriend to marry.

One female guest approached me and talked at length about her spectacular tits, which I tried not to look at even when she kept mentioning them several hundred times. My friends later confirmed that she was single, which bemused me as she came with a mate of mine. Then one of Sabina's friends demanded I go back to the hotel with a whole bunch of them, but I declined as I was to be sleeping in a tent with Nothing Man.

Until Nothing Man decided to go back to the hotel, where he got laid. I had sobered up at this point, and was frankly knackered. Instead, I got a taxi back to Ali's and continued partying with a host of others back at his house. He passed out on the sofa so naturally, I drew all over his face with a permanent silver marker and covered his prone body with fruit. When I dug around my bag for my camera - my lovely, new, expensive camera I've only used twice - I realised I lost the fucker.

To date, I still can't find it. This means, Stag: lost phone, nearly lost wallet. Wedding: lost camera, nearly lost dignity.

I woke the following morning to a barbecue in the sun, and a small wedding reunion. Days really don't get any better than that. Of course, when the newly wedded Sabina and Luke turned up and confirmed that I had turned down at least two - maybe three - potential shags, I felt a little bit sick.

But I can confirm that speech-panicking aside, being Best Man is fucking brilliant. My friend's families are absolutely wonderful, I'm filled with joy and love for the pair of them, and I'm uncharacteristically moved by the whole experience.

Just don't turn down the sex.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Birthday

I am 34 today. Specifically, I'm thirty-four in about an hour. Naturally, I don't want to be 34. I want to be twenty again, much thinner and less spirit-crushed and pessimistic.

I am also tired and shaky. I am quite literally trembling. For one thing, I have spent this bank holiday weekend in anti-activity mode doing absolutely nothing, to wit; Sat in front of Youtube listening to Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Eddie Izzard, Kathy Griffin (for some reason) and various Daily Show clips whilst playing Spider Solitaire.

And I have spent days doing this. It is for precisely this reason that I refuse to buy Grand Theft Auto or the Sims, for I will play them relentlessly, and achieve nothing with my life.
More so.

The reason I've been watching stand-up comedy (and Kathy Griffin) is because I'm about to write my Best Man's speech for Luke and Sabina's wedding this coming Saturday. And I'm petrified. Speaking in public is laying yourself bare - stood in a room full of silent people as they listen intently to you trying to be funny.

I've decided to write and learn the speech verbatim, because if I hold the speech in my hands, I'll be shaking so much that I'll drop it.

I went to Hippy Dave's wedding last week. It was tremendous fun, particularly after I'd done my reading. Dave wanted me to read the following during the ceremony, from the Adam Sandler film Mr Deeds:

Fifty years have passed by
with laughter and tears
Do you remember when we went to the zoo
and that time we drank all the beers?
I promise to love you for many years more
Even when your bosoms sag down to the floor


All I can remember about the reading was that I was terrified; that there was an attractive woman playing the harp in the background, that we were in the formal setting of a gorgeous Somerset country house, that I had gained a shitload of weight since I last wore my One Generic Suit™ in November and it was like wearing a beige straitjacket and tie. It was so tight in fact, that seconds before I was called up to shatter the formality of the day, I looked down and saw my jacket pulsating rhythmically with the frantic beating of my heart.

That reading took about thirty seconds - mainly because there was an earlier line to the poem that I'd left out by accident. Once that was over, I could enjoy myself. For once, my friends and I weren't the most wrecked. That accolade went to Dave's aunt whose husband had to escort her - pissed - to their nearby room around 4pm, where he locked her in. Apparently, an hour or two later, she was spotted climbing out of the window in an attempt to get back into the venue.

And now, on my birthday, I'm about to compose this speech, a long, rambling dialogue of my own devising, that I will have to perform in five days. I am not lying when I say that I can't enjoy the rest of the wedding - nay, the rest of my life, even - until this is out of the way.