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.