Monday, January 23, 2006

The perfect hostess

So, I was the perfect hostess at our (early) Australia Day party on Saturday night. At least for a couple of hours. When I knew everyone there. There I was, drinking cheap (but good) Spanish cava, having a dandy old time dressed as Courtney Compagnino from Young Talent Time. I was a perfect eight-year-old singing-dancing dynamo in a high side ponytail single-handedly polishing off all the cheese Twisties a girl dressed as Olivia Newton-John in the Physical filmclip had bought along as an offering of Australianness. I ate them all not out of selfish gluttony and no mind for anyone else who might have felt like a cheddar-flavoured twisty cocktail treat from our homeland, you see, but pure gratitude.

But then, at some point, a whole bunch of unknowns turned up and started playing with the iPod. Right in the crescendo bit at the start of Franz's Take Me Out. Right while I was busting out the best of my YTT moves. That's when The Nasty Streak surfaced. If anything is ever going to surface The Nasty Streak, it will be unknowns messing with the iPod while I'm dancing to it.

"OI! Stop messing with the stereo, you bastards!" I spat, "I can't see any of you LIVING HERE AND OWNING THE STEREO!"

Then, I turned to the three people I was dancing with and loudly announced while wildly pointing around, "I hate every [obscene swearword] here. Except you guys, of course."

Which is often a good way to make friends with strangers in your home. Wildly pointing and calling them obscene names.

Later, after more and more people who had been queuing outside managed to get in, I cornered a young unknown English man rolling something on the Jamie's Italy cookbook that rests atop our microwave.

"YOU CAN'T SMOKE THAT IN MY HOUSE!" I bellowed belligerently. "Unless you give me some."

Obligingly, he handed over the goods and apologised.

Later, paranoid and belligerent, I went into my room and cleverly hid my precious belongings in my chest of drawers beneath my undies and socks. Security sorted, I marched around and glowered as more people who were queuing at our door entered and promptly slipped over the ever-growing beer slick on our living room floor.

"It's slippery, you know!" I scoffed at some soul spread-eagled on the throbbing linoleum dancefloor. "And who do you know here, anyway?"

To the masses who I considered to be looking at me strangely, I would go up and inform: "It is a fancy dress party. These aren't my real clothes. I guess you'd know that if you'd been invited ... and who do you know here, anyway?"

At around 3.00, tired of constantly locking the door and observing to anyone who would listen that we didn't live in a tent, and if we did, I certainly wouldn't be camping in a place where crackheads could come in and steal all the stuff out of my chest of drawers, for Lord's sake; tired of asking people who they were and why were they here; and even more tired of banging on the bathroom door and telling the unknowns inside that they should go home and have sex in their OWN BATHROOM, I retreated to my bedroom with three friends. There, I jammed the door with a broom, jumped into bed and chatted amiably, and waited for the party to be over, ever watchful of the chest of drawers.

So, yes, the perfect hostess.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Fine British customer service

So I was in the local Off License (British for 'convenience store', yet no where near as convenient as a proper 7-11, being closed overnight and all), actually it was a different Off License to my usual Off License, and I stood there waiting patiently at the counter with my monster pack of Turkish delight, on account of my insatiable frosty depths of winter sugar/carbohydrates/anything-still-and-dead-enough-for-me-to-get-my-increasingly-pudgy-little-hands-on cravings.

The man behind the counter tapped one pound fifty into the register and then like a modern-day Off-License-tending Nostradamus portended:

"And you want 20 Marlboro lights, love?"

Recoiling at him reading my very mind, I responded, "Yes? How did you know that?"

He chortled, "Aaah, but this is what you always get. You crave these cigarettes, always. ALWAYS. I know you, love!"

Perturbed at this unwarranted insight into my filthy addiction, I protested, "What! I'm quitting! And I hardly ever come in here, anyway."

Animated soothsayer gone and Off License vendor dead stare back, he said flatly, "Yeah. So you want them or not?"

And I peeped, "Yep."

Then, after he handed over my booty, he cackled, "Aaahaahaaa! That Turkish delight is terrible! You won't like it. What you need to try is Turkish delight from Israel. You will love it, love! It's great!"

Then, for emphasis on how entirely shit my Turkish delight was, he grabbed a handy magenta and gold packet of Fry's, flourished it before me, and proclaimed:

"This stuff - rubbish! Fake! But still better than what you bought, love. You must try the divine Israeli Turkish delight!"

"Well, if Israeli Turkish delight is so great, why are you selling me this crappy Turkish delight, then?" I quizzed incisively.

He shrugged, "This is a business, love. You people will buy any miserable thing."

And then waved me off for the next miserable-purchasing customer.

Monday, January 09, 2006

I'm a TV kid

Since I last wrote, I've actually been in a better mood. Well, the festive season ending and the return to work put me in a better mood, making me possibly the only person in the history of people working to be happy to return to work after the holidays. But yesterday was the turning point towards true unabated happiness. After a drought of six TV-free months, I bought a TV.

Yes, a TV.


I still haven't recovered from the joy of it all.

Knowing the TV would be heavy and technologically complex, I lured D, a young man I know (who is possibly tiring of me intermittently landing on his sofa for a fix of SkyTV) with the promise of any beverage four pounds or under if he carried it home and then tuned it for me. So, in the miserable rain, D trudged and I positively levitated with the joys of anticipation out to Argos, a chain store unique in the fact that you don't get to fondle, kick and lie on any of the wares like you do at your regular Kmart-style chain store pre-purchase. Instead, you note numbers down from an in-store catalogue, give the cashier the money, and then wait in a queue for your number to be called and goods to be delivered, somewhat like buying Hungarian salami at the Safeway deli. Except the only real similarity is that you get a number. Notably, someone once told me they saw Jarvis Cocker there buying an iron. At Argos. Not the Safeway deli.

So, me and D perused the catalogue, found that the two cheapest televisions were unavailable, so I got the third cheapest, a £69 14” Alba DVD/TV combo, otherwise known as The Entertainment Supercentre. As D lugged the 15-kilogram box through the still-miserable rain, I skipped ahead helpfully shouting commands and requests such as:

“Mind the filthy Dickensian puddle!” and

“Careful of the rabid mangy East End dog poo!” and

“Take your jacket off and put it over the TV box in case the rain seeps through!”

Anyway, D kept complaining about the box being awkward and heavy, so we stopped off in Hoxton Square for his £4-drink-on-me pitstop. After a long couple of hours drinking half-price margaritas, eating chocolate cake and entirely exceeding the £4 allowance I'd decreed, I pilfered a TV guide from one of the communal newspapers, my week's social activities spread across fourteen pages. Later, when the TV was tuned and perched atop my specially purchased coffee table from Ikea, my bedroom was transformed into what I like to call 'The Entertainment Supercentre Superdome'. Angels sang, harps peeled, and there I was watching 'Top of the Pops'.

Later, I mopped the drool from my chin, applied a math-o-mat to my eyeballs to regain their circular shape, and found that D had absconded from my fine company. I couldn't recall if it was during 'Celebrity Big Brother' at 8 or the BBC late news at 10.35.

Possibly, I'll never leave The Entertaiment Supercentre Superdome ever again.