Saturday, December 8, 2007

Feline Sexual Predators in the Expensive Sector

'Eyes without a Face' by glitterdarkstar, from deviantart

It's Saturday, I'm in a bit of a funk, worried about a friend in another country. It sucks to be so far away from someone you love sometimes, and I'm not good at feeling helpless and impotent. Although, maybe there are people out there that are good at it. Are there?

I go to the Chief's to take him out for coffee. He's still cleaning the detritus left over from the office party the night before. I could say something here about him still being in stripy pyjamas as he cleans, but that would be a breach of privacy. Not that he'd know about it. The Chief isn't reading the Daily anymore. He says that I betrayed my readership by disappearing from the face of the planet and abandoning them to virtual silence.

While the Chief cleans, I wander upstairs to find Harry, who can always be found under the bed. Harry is the Chief's cat. Actually, I'm not sure Harry can acccurately be described as anyone's cat (cats don't really belong to anyone but themselves, do they?). True to form, he is lying under the bed looking at me with a mixture of curiosity and disdain.

"Harry! Come on then! Come on then!" I call, not like an invitation to a fight, but like an invitation to come out and allow me to harass him for a while. He concurs.

Harry is a strange feline, the Chief calls him a non-cat. His affection comes in stages. First he drools on you a lot. He's a natural born dribbler. Usually, I give up at this stage, for obvious reasons. I like cats, but rarely enjoy taking a dip in their saliva.

Today, though, I am feeling distant and unsure. I'm happy for Harry's company. I lie down on James' bed and Harry jumps up to join me (don't tell James, he doesn't let Harry on the bed). I stare balefully through the window (which is also a jar) at a windy, raining, very English autumn day. Harry drools happily all over my sleeve as I stroke him. We stay like this for awhile.

I am thinking about my distant friend. I am thinking about how helpless I feel, and even though I know worrying solves nothing, I have never discovered the ability to switch off the part of my mind that, when something bad happens to someone I live, worries and worries and worries about them. I wish he was here, and then I could take over and busy around until everything was ok again. It occurs to me that maybe worrying is more about me than it is about my friend.

Then Harry bites my arm.

"Ow!!! Harry!" I squeal, in an entirely girlish manner that makes me feel more than a little ashamed as the sound emerges from my mouth.

It's not that he bit me hard or anything, but Harry has very sharp teeth and even a light bite is enough to get you to notice. Then I saw something else. Harry had stopped drooling. Which is how I discovered stage 2 of affection from Harry. Biting.

Harry bit my arms, my head (which left a lot of saliva in my hair - not cool) and even my leg. I announced a very firm 'No!' however, when he moved towards my chest, though. No frickin' way, dog. Or cat.

At this stage, I got a little nervous about Harry's biting fetish, and, feeling cat saliva trickling over my scalp, I got up to try to sort out my hair. Harry sat on the bed as I stood up and turned my back to him. I was fussing with my hair, when suddenly I felt a pair of teeth sink firmly into my right buttock. The girlish squeal long-gone, I emitted an actual yelp of genuine surprise, followed by a round of loud laughter.

"Harry, you actually just bit my butt, dude!" I squawked at him, and I could have sworn that cat was laughing.

The Chief appeared in the doorway.

"Who have you been talking to?" he asked quizzically glancing around the room.

"Harry." I tell him, as if it were obvious. He was the only other, er, cat there.

The Chief glanced at Harry then at me.

"Shall we go?" was all he said.

Friday, December 7, 2007

An evening at Kyo's

I'm in a fudge at the end of today and curled up on my couch listening to sombre sounds on my stereo when James calls.

"I want to cheer you up," he tells me, "Meet me at Kyo's, we're all going to play you songs until you're happy again.

I go to Kyo's. Obviously.

Dr Dan and Kyo play guitars, Dr Dan sings and James plays the  didgeridoo (I know, there is  no way to announce this without comedy, but more of this later).

Dr Dan has a beautiful voice and the three instruments work beautifully together. It reminds me of being 19 and hanging out with Glenn and Howard while they played guitars and sang. I miss that.

Kyo suddenly burps, and laughs with a half-shamed, half-amused face.

I burst out laughing at his expression.

"Sorry!" he giggles, "There's a frog in the village!"

James starts singing arbitrarily down his didgeridoo. There is actually no way to stop this sentence being funny. Actually, there is no way to stop any sentence with the word didgeridoo in it being funny. Except possibly that one.

My brother once slept with this girl (and I mean that literally - once, not slept) who, after the passion was spent, as t'were, got out of bed and announced to him, "Let me show you something."

Cool, my brother thought.

Then she got out a didgeridoo and started playing it. Straight after sex. Imagine.

When my brother told me this story, the day after, I laughed so hard I actually bruised my own ribs. He's going to be tickled when he finds out I posted this story on the internet. Siblings, huh?

"We're didgeridooing in Dan's face!" announces James as I write. Dan is on the phone to his girlfriend and the boys are distracting their conversation mercilessly.

"Write that in your diary!" he continues.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Stranger than Fiction

Sometimes I feel like I attract strange happenings.

Surely not, I hear you cry. Sarah, you are just too well adjusted.

I know, but nonetheless....

Last week, in the toilet at The Ministry, by the sinks, was a wrinkled old carrier bag bearing a label that said:

Lady's bra -- found in corridor.

This raised a lot of questions for me. Firstly the qualification of 'lady's' in the first place - as opposed to a man's bra? But then my neurons really started to fire backwards. What do they mean? Found in corridor? How would a lady's bra (I can't help it, I will now forever refer to bras as 'lady's bras' as though there were another kind. I may even correct strangers if they say bra without it) get in the corridor? How would you lose that?

Now, it was after hours, and on my way to the lady's (toilet, not bra), I climbed the echoey (is that a word? It is now - taking my own advice to invent words at whim) stairwell and I thought I heard the gentle moans of sexual activity somewhere above. But I assumed I was imagining it.

But maybe that was where the bra came from. Maybe, it was whipped off during a passionate act of illicit congress, it fell down the centre of the stairwell, where it lodged on someone's bag. As a mail trolley went past, perhaps it snagged on the bra, still attached to the bag, and carried it away into the corridor, where as the lift doors opened, it fell to the ground and lay abandoned until a kindly civil servant carried it to the ladies, and deposited it in an old bag, for modesty's sake, in case the owner claimed it.


I told James and Kit Kat about this last week, along with accompanying hypothesis about how it was found. They stared at me doubtfully.

"Hey, I've got an idea!" James suddenly announced, "You should take in a bra next Wednesday, and every Wednesday after that. It would drive people crazy and start all sorts of rumours...."

"Yeah!" I enthused, embracing the weirdness with little resistance, "I could go to charity shops and buy loads of bras of different colours and sizes - it would be like the phantom over the shoulder boulder holder deserter!"

There was a long silence. I never know when to quit.

Well, I didn't get the chance to perpetuate the jug juggler oddness around the Ministry, because today, someone else beat me to it.

Exactly a week later. Same toilet. Same time of day. This time, in the cubicle, unsheathed by a carrier bag, old or otherwise, was a big old pair of black pants.

Pants. Actual pants. Someone's pants. I did not dare to check if they had been worn. Dear reader, I did not want to know nearly enough to even attempt it.

So, did someone else have the same idea? To bring in underwear every Wednesday? Dump your drawers Wednesdays? Unpeel your underwear day? What is happening to my life?

I know truth is stranger than fiction, but I swear to God, I am not making this shit up. My life is beginning to feel like the Truman Show. Is this a test?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ask a silly question, get an obvious answer

I’m giving up drinking. At least until Christmas. I’ve decided. Last week I had a conversation with James in the Peace Café about alcohol. I’d just stumbled in from the Slug and Lettuce a bottle of champagne worse for wear and I settled a little too comfortably on the couch.

“Are you drunk?” asked James. I suspect this question was a mere formality given that I smelt like an advert for Moet and Chandon.

“A little,” I admitted, “Shon and I thought we would go for cocktails and then digressed.”

I’m not sure that my answer was as coherent as this, but this is definitely what it sounded like in my head.

There was a pause. James smiled at me and absently stroked my hair. I think he was really thinking about whether denying the fish their food for a few days, as he has read somewhere recently, will really make them breed. In case I’ve never mentioned it, he’s obsessed with the fish in the Café having babies. If I could arrange it for his Christmas present, I would, but I’m not sure, other than appealing to the pixies, that I have any way of doing this.

We settled into a comfortable silence, James contemplating the fish, and me contemplating the gentle rotation of the room.

This was when I made a mistake.

I used to read a lot of legal beagle detective fiction, John Grisham and the like, and I distinctly remember one basic rule of thumb for cross-examining your own client:

Never ask a question you do not already know the answer to.

Over the years, I have learnt to apply a similar rule to relationships:

Never ask a question you do not already know the answer to, unless you are:
a) absolutely sure that you really want to know the answer
b) as sure as you can be that you can handle the answer

This rule has kept me out of so many stupid and unnecessary relationship situations and conversations that, being exceptionally curious and talkative, I used to get myself into all the time. Questions like, Do you fancy that girl over there? Do you really like me in this dress? And How many people have you actually slept with? Questions that could so easily end in an argument. This rule has also made me realise that there are a lot of things I actually don’t need to know.

So, I’m on the couch, a little tipsy, James is stroking my hair and I let one of these questions fall casually out of my mouth as if the previously discussed rule of ignorance had never been invented.

“Do you think I drink too much?”

What a nugget. Because you know what’s coming, whether you know James and his instinctive imperative for honesty or not and whether you know anything about my alcoholism, I mean, occasional tippling.

“Yes,” he said with his usual unassuming sincerity. He thought for a moment. “You always have wine in. You drink most evenings. And you do drink quite a lot.”

This is why you never ask these sorts of questions. Because although James had not said anything I disagreed with (mostly because it was true), and although I had actually asked the question to begin with, I now felt irrationally angry with him for saying it.

Which is why I regressed to a surly teen.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllright!” I squeaked, sitting upwards and sending the hand that had previously been stroking my hair flying, “There’s no need to be so mean!”

He smiled, far more calmly than I could appreciate at that moment, “But you asked me.”

I regressed even further.

“Well so what if I did. Have you looked at the amount you drink lately?”

I always know when I’m losing an argument. Attack may be a good form of defence, but in my experience, being right is usually the best one. If I’m having to attack someone else in order to avoid answering something, it’s usually because I can’t.

“Yes,” James answered, with infuriating honesty, “I have. I do drink too much.”

And with that he left me shaping words soundlessly on the couch as he went to serve a customer.
So, I’m giving up drinking. Until Christmas, when circumstance will dictate that I’ll have to join in. But I think it could be good to round the total of ‘things I gave up in 2007’ to three: I’ve done meat, I’ve done caffeine, and now I’m, going to beat the demon booze.

Write to me while I’m suffering the dt’s, would you?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

You took the straw out of my woo woo

I've been spending time in the Slug and Lettuce in Palmerston Road lately, mostly with the gorgeous Shon and her handsome offspring. It's a friendly, laid back venue and they do some great cocktails. Shon bought us a Lush champagne cocktail on Friday and we liked it so much we followed it with a whole bottle of champagne. It's cheaper on Friday's.

James and I met our friend, The Actor,  in there for a quick drink today. It was one of those social gatherings where you end up seeing friends of friends, which I like. Our friend, officially the most homophobic gay man I know, met a young couple there I hadn't met before. James and the boyfriend happily discussed Buddhism while the Actor and I gossiped relentlessly about whether another mutual acquaintance is gay and just hasn't realised it yet, or whether he's just got a touch of the Llewelyn-Bowens.

Star Wars Episode 1 is on tv. This makes me happy on a rainy sunday.

I have a secret fascination with yoda. If you're a boy, then this question will probabaly seem downright bizarre, but did you know that no one actually knows what Yoda is? His origins have never been confirmed - how strange is that? As a writer, this is  a brilliant back story for a character to have. In the sort of fiction I write, it's often useful for readers not to know where a character is from or even anything about them, but actually having a character that no one knows what they are? Now that's bloody clever, that is.

In fact, if you ask Google what Yoda is, you get some great results, including a theory that Yoda is Amish (I always assumed he was a Buddhist), the fact that his face was based on Albert Einstein's, and that someone has written a book linking Buddhism itself with Star Wars, called The Dharma of Star Wars. And some people think he was a vegetarian.

But despite the wide variety of Yoda-related joy on the WonderWeb, it's hard to beat this - Yoda being Gangsta: