Right then. Time I made a bit of bloody effort.
Do you know, I’ve never used a laptop on a train before. It’s making me feel awfully professional. If only my fellow passengers knew what drivel I was typing, sitting here in my Business Casual drag, my face screwed up in a suitably plausible expression of deep concentration.
The guy opposite is rather dishy looking. But then, I chose my seat carefully. He’s unusually well groomed, and kitted out in a very natty shirt-and-tie combo, in daring shades of plum and pink, teamed up with a light tan belt which matches the shoes to perfection. Close cropped hair, smart “directional” specs. Wonder if he’s….?
Then again, he sounded Dutch on the phone, or maybe Belgian. Few Englishmen would be turned out so smartly, but this sort of thing is rather more commonplace in the Benelux nations. A hung jury, then.
While I was typing the above, he nipped out to the loo and back. Knowing that he’d be passing this screen on his way back, I opened another document in readiness for his return, so that I could stage a quick tactical Alt-Tab. Well, you can’t be too careful.
The other document in question happens to be a live review of The Osmonds, which I wrote yesterday evening, and which should be appearing in today’s Nottingham Evening Post. A 250 word piece, with a 500 word piece bursting to get out. (Editing does not yet come naturally.) There’s one really good line – about being beaten around the head by a Hallmark greetings card – but sadly, the original observation was not my own. My thanks to MissMish, my companion in the Royal Concert Hall on Friday evening, for granting me copyright clearance. (We like it when our Plus Ones feed us killer copy.) If it goes online, then I’ll link it.
The intention behind this posting was to give a blow-by-blow summary of the past four weeks in London – as a lot has been happening, and I’ve wanted to record it as much for my own sake as anybody else’s. So let’s see how much I can scribble down between here (just south of Leicester) and St. Pancras.
Sunday. Horsemeat Disco, with Ian, Marcus, Janne and Pano. I’ve heard a lot about Horsemeat, most recently from my ever-clued-up club promoter mate in Nottingham, who raved about it at the ADULT. (sic) gig a few days earlier. The venue is a gay bar in Vauxhall, just up the road from the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, which used to be a spit-and-sawdust joint called Dukes. It was never anything special, but we used to toddle up there in the old days, when the crush of nipple-to-nipple trollied dollies at the RVT got a bit much, in order to relax in relative peace and quiet over a pint and an agreeably rubbish stripper.
Now reborn as South Central, I was expecting a complete makeover – but no, this is basically still the same old Dukes, with a small dancefloor where the stripper used to prance about, and with a heated patio area out the back. However, the music is great (classic funky disco and 1980s electro-pop) and the crowd is a delight: relaxed, diverse, mature (cough), and as attitude-free as gay London is ever likely to get.
As I walk in and head for the bar, I can’t figure out why heads are turning my way. Oh! Ha ha! I’m being “checked out”! I’d forgotten that happens! (It has been over a year since my last appearance in a gay London venue, and I am a little rusty on its habits and conventions.)
Horsemeat gets busy around 9pm, and stays open until 2am. As it’s my first night in town, I play it sensible, heading off for the last tube connection to Canary Wharf at around 11:30.
Ah, playing it sensible. I remember that. Gosh, was that only four weeks ago? It seems like a lifetime away.
Monday. My first day at The Major Financial Institution, whose London headquarters are a quick five-minute hop from my hotel at Canary Wharf. As in Nottingham, where I can make it from my front door to my desk in just over ten minutes, I am spared the horrors of the daily commute – for which much thanks.
It’s a typical first day. Piles of “induction” literature, health and safety blah, large amounts of new information to ingest in a short space of time, ghastly photo taken for my pass card, general culture shock (everybody seems so damned slick and professional!), lots of getting lost on the way to the toilet, forgetting people’s names, pushing doors marked PULL, basically the usual Mr Bean Goes To The Office syndrome with which I have become so familiar in recent years. (This sort of thing stopped fazing me about five new offices ago. It simply goes with the territory.)
In the evening, with no particular social plans, I head for Leicester Square. There are plenty of films that I’d like to see, so I’ll just turn up on spec and choose spontaneously.
As I turn the corner by the Hippodrome, I become aware of a vast crush of cheering bystanders, interspersed with press photographers standing on stepladders, bulbs a-popping. Really, darlings: I know I mentioned my impending arrival in London on the blog, but there was no need to go to such lengths.
With nothing better to do, I squeeze myself into the throng, who are arranged around the entrance to one of the big cinemas. Turns out that we’re witnessing the stars arrive for a charity premiere of “Casanova”. Cool, never done the whole Leicester Square premiere thing before. Should be a laugh. So, who do we see?
Jeremy Irons, rocking the Daddy Bear look in a big bushy beard. Give him a couple more years and he could be the new Brian Blessed. Those winsome Brideshead Revisited days seem like half a lifetime ago. Oh, so they were.
Sienna Miller, whom I admittedly wouldn’t have recognized had I passed her on the street. Happily, there are hordes of snappers on hand, urging her by name to cast her stellar gaze in our direction. “SIENN-AAAAH! OVER HERE! CAN YOU TURN THIS WAY, SIENNA?” Oh, she’s big box office alright – and the only one of tonight’s celebs whose photo I see in the following week’s press. Which isn’t too surprising, as she looks ravishingly gorgeous, radiating a honeyed glow in her Marc-Jacobs-at-Louis-Vuitton flat-fronted, drop-waisted ivory frock with a hint of 1920s flapper about it.
Natasha Kaplinsky, who gets the highest name-recognition factor from the crowd. Not the biggest star, but certainly the most familiar face.
Some well-preserved middle-aged blonde whom no-one can quite place, until one step-laddered snapper calls out to her. “OVER HERE A BIT, TWIGGY!” Ha ha, yes, of course! Iconic English institution! That Marks and Sparks advert! Doesn’t she look good for her age! Living legend! We all love our Twiggy!
Kelly Osbourne, looking positively svelte. David Frost, comfortable in his natural habitat, strolling down the the middle of the red carpet, doing the whole smiling-and-waving grandstanding thing with the practiced ease of a senior politician. The It Girls: Tamara Beckwith and Tara P-T, working the cameras so thoroughly that poor old Heath Ledger (the actual star of the film, Casanova himself) barely gets a look-in. (Mind you, he doesn’t look his best. At least, not if the Brokeback cowboy look was your thing. Hair’s too long, coat’s all wrong, and he’s chewing gum with his mouth open. Jake wouldn’t have made these mistakes.)
Ah, that would be St. Pancras, then. Smart Benelux dude and I never made eye contact, more’s the pity. Goodness, I’ve changed a lot in the last month. Anyway, more drivel when I next get the chance. Don’t hold your breath or nuffink. (London vernacular, ‘cos I’m all acclimated like that.)