The giddy social whirl

Three parties last night: a steady descent from candle-lit carols in a Nash interior at the Swedish residence, to a white-painted subterranean nightclub with great slab-sided pillars and artificial snow on the floor of the entrance tunnel — the cocaine slaughterhouse aesthetic. Some social moments and snatches of conversation:

“The thing you have to remember, Andrew, is that the Guardian is the only truly fascist paper in Britain. Understand that and you understand … everything.”

“Oh, yes: Andrew Brown. You reviewed one of my books. You called it a car crash.”

At a magazine party in the Travellers’ Club where the staff wore name tags, but the guests didn’t, being approached by a nametagged person to whom I had last spoken some years ago when she phoned me up in a fury because I had written about her husband’s jail sentence for child pornography. She joined the group I was in. I don’t know you, she said. “No”, I said; “and you’ll wish you didn’t. I’m Andrew Brown”. She left abruptly, very soon after. I can’t say I felt in the very least embarrassed. There are many awful things that one says and does at parties that leave a squirming tentacle of remorse in the brain but sticky conversations about child porn convictions quite transcend embarrassment.

And so to the last train back from Liverpool St, caught with a minute to spare: young man in a suit in that stage of drunkenness where all the small muscles of the face have gone, and a kind of long-jawed chimpanzee mask lolls on the neck; a carton of takeway curry with lots of rice splashed all over the floor by the doors to the carriage; the middle-aged man, also in a suit, who pushed past me out of the lavatory had just been copiously sick inside it. In the middle of the carriage, two jolly fat blondes in miniskirts and sombreros who looked up every time I passed them as if expecting conversation … outside, at Audley End, a hard frost and the noise of scraping windscreens carrying across the car park.

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6 Responses to The giddy social whirl

  1. SRW says:

    \begin{arslikhan}
    Which other blog – hell, which other writer – would turn reminiscences of three drunken parties into a miniature masterpiece? That little set of cameos is more telling than a dozen short stories.

    That’s why I keep following this feed.
    \end{arslikhan}

  2. acb says:

    Thanks. That makes my piles feel good all over. I’ll even clean the spelling up.

  3. Mrs Tilton says:

    There are times, Andrew, when I wish you were a poorer writer. This is one of them. That image shall dog me down the years, I fear, and it’s too late now to save myself by tearing my eyeballs out.

  4. Rupert says:

    Last night, in another part of the publishing woods, I too had an evening in stages.

    First, the White Hart, the pub closest to our offices and coincidently, those of another large magazine publisher. There were around twenty of us – many rather numb, not just from the cryogenic process of smoking in winter but from the redundancies that had been announced on Wednesday. “All week,” said the landlady, “people have been coming in with the same story.” I’ve been through around eight rounds of cuts in the seventeen years I’ve been in that place, but this was the first time I’ve had any managerial responsibility for the process – and seen what goes on behind the veil. One day, I’ll have to write about that – one of our directors told me that it’s “a mindfuck”, and he was precisely right – but not this day.

    Eight of us then removed to Soho, three women by tube and five blokes by cab. Ten pounds of slow motion later, the cabbie gave up by Leicester Square and apologised – “the fucking streetworks have fucking closed this fucking town down. I’m sorry, lads. Better if you walk.” He slid back the window to tell us this just as I had elected to demonstrate the networked multimedia capability of my new phone by selecting a YouTube comedy music number I’d heard of but not actually seen. The chorus of this, timed to perfection to fill in the small silence after the cabby’s admission, was a very loud “JIZZ IN MY PANTS”. Modern mobile phone audio is surprisingly loud and clear, for such small devices.

    Thence to a club on Wardour Street called Floridenza (or similar – I have little ability to remember the names of drinking places that don’t reference royalty, nobility or medieval preoccupations). There was a birthday gathering there for another of our lot, and by then everyone had decided to wash away the cares of the day and get on with things. I was also so minded, but after standing in a crowd so dense I couldn’t move, with a noise level so high I couldn’t hear and a bar so inefficiently run I couldn’t drink, I realised that it was closer to Piccadilly Line than Piccadilly fun, and moved on.

    To Poland Street and another bar, with other friends from the trade. Downstairs, dark and enlivened by a DJ who’d brought his tom-tom playing pal along to accent the dance vibe, it was immediately and gratifyingly more fun. The place stank of various failed attempts to mask the sweaty business of being in a place with music you want to dance to and the room to do so; there were around a hundred twenty and thirty somethings dressed just as they wanted to, and the bar knew its business. I made about ten new friends and caught up on the loves, loathings, plans and fears of the same number of old ones.

    A tall, spindly computer reviewer from Ascot had his coat stolen, a fact he discovered about ten minutes before he had to leave for his last train, and laughed it off with sterling aplomb. A compact, extrovert Palestinian-Armenian PR woman in a knitted wooly hat like a diamante-studded black tea cosy, with a bespectacled middle-aged Dutch client in tow who was bemoaning a forthcoming trip to Bradford (“There is only one whorehouse and five sexy dancing places. Not enough for one evening!”), decided the way to my heart was through a cascade of gin. Another disarmingly pretty and dangerously complicated PR woman, who I like a lot but have only recently forgiven for giving one of my more naïve reporters a crash course in How To Spot People You Really Shouldn’t Sleep With, got me up to date with how things are for flacks at the moment: again, a story for another day.

    I left around one, much revived and only slightly worried about tomorrow’s Facebook pictures, and elected to conclude the evening with a kebab from Dionysus – the landmark establishment (no stars) on the Central Point junction. I was disposing of the evidence outside prior to getting the night bus back to Holloway, when someone tapped me on the shoulder. Preparing the “Shorry, mate, no change” defence, I looked up to see a well-dressed man in his late 50s with charming wife in attendance.

    “Aren’t you the man from the video on CNet?” he asked.

    “Dialogue Box?” I asked in return.

    “Yes, that’s the one. Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy that. Thank you!” And gone.

    Which is the first time that’s happened. The night bus was as entertaining as always, and I went to bed feeling happy for the first time in a month.

    (The latest DB did get me into a little hot water – I honestly had no idea that bringing uranium ore into the office could be construed as an HR violation)

  5. Gunnar says:

    I was one of the jolly fat blondes. Sorry.

  6. That was a wonderful piece of writing.

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