Sunday, 28 September 2008

Last Post on Dissertation Hand-Ins


Ok. I realise this is starting to look like the blog for an Alcoholics Anonymous group, so I absolutely promise that the next few posts will not be about drinking. But let me just get this pebble out of my shoe, because it’s a logical continuation of the previous post.

So. Getting back to how dissertations are handed in. The other night I am sitting in front of my laptop doing something productive (namely, playing mine-sweeper), when I hear a knock by my window. It's like, half-ten at night. I open the curtains and there's this friend of mine standing there with two massive bags under his eyes and in greater need of a shave than Charles Darwin, and I'm like 'What's up?'.

The guy has just finished his dissertation. He asks me if I happen to have any booze, because he is, quote-unquote, dying for a drink. I tell him to wait a second, and I go knock on my flatmate's door. Those of you who have read the blog entry just below this one will know this flatmate as the guy who passed me his gin, a fact which guarantees his entrance into heaven almost as surely as it guarantees mine into hell. I knew there was still some left, and I knew by direct experience just how horrible its taste was, but at that stage I had a friend in need. So I asked him if I could buy off him what was left of the gin - which admittedly wasn't much, considering the swig-fest I'd been undergoing the previous night, but he accepted and I got myself the booze.

We're on!

I let my friend inside and we start downing. Goddamn. It tastes even more truculent than the night before. He doesn't seem to mind it but I'm going into orbit with how far it's kicking my ass. We take a look at the side of the bottle to see what the ingredients are. It turns out it's some kind of Indian gin made in the desert or God knows where, with so many ingredients in its recipe that they couldn't actually fit them all on the one side of the bottle. Almonds, lemon, blackcurrant, the roots of some wacky plant, something I can't pronounce, something else which I don't even know what the hell it is, it could be their name for myrrh for all I know... It's all stuff which tastes excellent on its own, but why it should produce such a lethal brew when combined into such a concoction is something which remains beyond me.

At all events there isn't that much of it, so we finish it around ten to eleven and start wondering what to do. We could either go to sleep early, considering that tomorrow we've got another event already planned, or take our bikes, make a run for Sainsbury's before they close at eleven, get hold of some Whisky and blaze our way through the night with that.

Well - not really a dilemma.

So we're speeding through this fucking cow-field in the middle of the night and half-way through my wheel hits a cow-shit and skids for half a mile in a direction at right-angles from the one in which is headed my body, which sees me thrown into the air like a Canadian goose on the day of its most glorious take-off. Suddenly I feel the ground. My friend, unfortunately, is going so fast that he barely even notices, and for a moment I am assailed by panic: I am in pitch black in the middle of a goddamn fucking cow-field, without the slightest idea of where's backward and forward and I can't see any lights signalling civilisation to me because there's all these damn trees. If I lose track of my friend, I am going to die here. I am going to be trampled by a herd of cows. I am going to be savaged by a tiger. I must get moving!

I jump on the bike and power-leg it like a maniac, probably hitting twenty-four shits at sixty mph on the way but frankly who gives a damn, until my friend comes back in sight.

'You alright over there?', he asks. 'Thought I'd lost you at a certain point.' I cannot deign him with a reply - my tongue is rolled out like a carpet and my lungs are contracting like the wings of a humming bird.

We get to Sainsbury. We buy ourselves a bottle of old-style Whisky and get back on the bikes (I make sure I'm letting him carry the Whisky, because I have the impression that if it's placed on my bike then something catastrophic is going to occur). Another terrifying ride through the fucking cowfield (I cannot say it without swearing now), and we're back in college.

It's Whisky O' Clock.

Shot one: We're doing well. Shot two: We're doing well. Shot three: We're doing well, but we decide it's time to get our young and glowing physiques moving, so we get hold of a football and we go outside. For a while, we just kick it around. Then the poor guy has the unfortunate idea of challenging me at football-based drinking games. Challenging an Italian at football-drinking games. Dude. You're either South American, or you'd better forget it, is what I'm thinking. This turns out to be utterly true, not only because he's now sucking Whisky from a straw but because he has the chance to directly experience the Italian defence - also known as the best, most refined, most powerful and most unsurpassable defence in the history of the game, an instinct for which runs into the veins of all us Italians and to the discipline of which we are trained from the moment we step into the agoge of our kindergarden football courts: I produce myself in a spectacular tackle which would have had all Old Trafford on their feet and clapping, and the guy goes down like the walls of the city of Byzantium when the Turks invaded it in 1453. This gets him so whoozy that within ten minutes that we're back to playing, we fuck around in our control and the ball is slung into the lake and lost forever except to the ducks. We spend the ten minutes of our lives throwing stones into the lake like idiots in the hope that the waves we produce will carry the (infuriatingly immobile) floating ball in our direction, an endeavour made completely hopeless by the fact that the stones we are throwing are the size of mild confetti produced for the wedding of a couple who has that bone disease which makes your skeleton frail like glass, so after quickly dismissing the idea of jumping into the lake (that place is not so much a lake as a latrine for ducks), we decide to go back inside, oblivious to the fate of the ball.

There, we start jamming. Holy shit. I know that when it comes to music I have been blessed with all the talent of a mildly retarded bloodhound, but how someone could reproduce the full screeches and screams of the Pearl Harbor bombardments with just the three basic notes of a blues is something I do not understand. I'm surprised the neighbours didn't come down and lynch us. Hell, I'm surprised my friend didn't just call it quits to sit down and weep. But apparently my castrated attempts at symphonic compositions were enough for him to solo over, so he did not complain.

In the meantime, the Whisky is quickly getting drunk. We're more than halfway down the bottle and I haven't even had dinner except for a couple of chips I scavenged off someone else's plate before the mould got onto them. At a certain point we decide to go and look for another friend of ours so he can share in our celebrations for the end of academic work. We barge into the computer room and almost get arrested for how drunk we are, then we go out and look for him elsewhere. Eventually we get him on the phone and he promises he'll be at my place in no time.

The day that they burn down the restaurant in Rome where I used to go with my flamboyantly constituted rowing team for loser-pays-all eating competitions, this guy I was calling will become the agent responsible for the most food I've ever happened to eat in one night alone. He's an American, and I followed him out, once, with his American clique; we were going to a Chinese restaurant, and we had one of the most delicious and massive meals of the year; everybody else couldn't finish their plate so they dunked their stuff into mine and I concluded theirs as well. We went out drinking after that, and when we got home a few hours later, I met my Portuguese flatmate cooking himself a meal, and he offered me some tortilla. I accepted as a way of being polite, left him, and went back to the American group in their flat. They happened to have some French liquor called Crounjon or something which was based on orange. It smelled like gentle heaven and tasted like flaming hell; the gradation was 40% and I was having it smooth. I downed what was left of that whole bottle, then hit the vodka for a bit, then went back home. As I went, I crossed this Italian girl I knew, and in the hopes of getting a shag, I started chatting. She invites me upstairs and I think, ‘Let’s roll!’, when it turns out she's got her boyfriend over and she was inviting me up to join them for pizza. Holy shit. I’m not hungry at all, but it would really look ill to leave now, and admittedly I could really do with some hot pizza to rid my tongue of the syrupy aftertaste which has been left by the Crounjon. So I accept. I get back down to my flat, and guess what I find - a whole congregation of Indians cooking a collective meal! 'Dude, join us!', they chant in a chorus. 'No, guys,' I tell them, 'I seriously couldn't have another bite.' Then they start getting really offended, one of them starts yacking something in Hindi, one of the girl looks really wounded that I won't stay with them, so I end up accepting. Nan bread and South Indian lentil puree with beans for all. It took me twenty hours to metabolise.

So anyway. This is the American guy I invite over; he's not bringing any food this time, but he is carrying an extra bottle of rum with him, which we open as soon as we finish the Whisky. Around that stage the guy who was really jolly about having finished his dissertation gets a little too jolly and it turns out he can't stand up when we go out for a smoke. This guy is like over two metres tall so that when he crumples down on me I end up going down with him onto the ash-tray next to the college door. Inside that ash-tray, it has rained, and the massive puddle of yellow water with ash floating on it is thereby dislodged and tidal-waved towards us – most particularly, towards me. I scream like a calf and leap out of the way, puma-style. My friend has an intervention by a squadron of guardian angels and doesn't get soaked in the stuff, so we lift him and carry him back to his room. We leave him with his bin next to his bed and his hand in it in case he wakes up and finds he needs to throw.

I do feel very manly when I walk other people back home.

Then there's me and the American guy. And the rum. There's still quite a bit to go of that, so we go back to my place and we start drinking it. En passant, I give a call to my Indian flatmate, who is always up for doing stuff. He comes into my room. As the swigging goes on, we decide to go for a smoke.

'Oh,' yelps the American, 'do you mind if I roll? I haven't rolled in years.'

'Yeah, no problem,' I tell him.

I wish I fucking hadn't. I thought I was bad with the guitar, but what this guy does with the tobacco surely ranks among the natural disasters. I swear to God by the time he even begins rolling, he has already spread a carpet of tobacco over my desk the circumference of which is broader than the length of his outspread arms. There is no way in physics he could have dropped the tobacco over such a half-stadium of an area if not with purpose. I'll admit he was smash-drunk as well as inexperienced, but hell. After twenty-five minutes he still hasn't even managed to close it.

We left the cadaver of his cigarette on the table, rolled a couple of other ones (properly), downed the last shot of rum, and stood up.

And suddenly, the world is spinning.

I sort of understand why the tall guy fell down earlier on. I understand even why leaves fall from trees in autumn. All of a sudden I notice a distinct malaise in my stomach, which appears to be spreading towards the other organs. Fortunately I'm highly resilient when it comes to throwing up (with some exceptions - I did wake up once to find that the shower-tent of that room's same bathroom was encrusted with dried vomit, but to date I have no recollection of how on earth that had happened, so it might even have been someone else’s for all I know).

We walk outside, smoke and decide to go to bed on account of the end of the booze. I wonder if the guy can make it back to his college on his own, so maybe I should walk him; then I remember he wasn't here for the gin and the Whisky part, and decide that he can find his room on his own.

I stagger back to mine, and fall asleep.

The only real reward in the next day's wake up, gargantuan hangover aside, is that my table was so iconic that I swear I would have taken a picture of it if I only had a camera. Three empty bottles of liquor in an almost perfect triangle surrounding the remains of some broken cigarettes and a dust-storm of tobacco evenly spread over papers and papers of hand-written poetry alongside books, pens and my (ancient) laptop.

Aesthetics of chaos. And witnessed when dying of a hangover, which I had to get rid of soon because I was going to go out for real that same night. As beautiful as it gets.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Star-Gin Troopers


So I'd been watching movies with my British flatmate for a while, when this one night he suggests we do Starship Troopers. I have a very ambiguous relationship with that movie. I kind of love it for many of the things that it does right, but also hate watching it because it's so gory and awfully depressing.

Normally these are just movie-nights, but my Indian and German flatmates were invited, so the Indian guy asks, 'Are we drinking?'

Fuck yeah.

We are going to purchase some vodka but I am busy with the application forms for the police service and I can't get out. I don't want to mooch my British friend's gin and besides we all know it tastes fucking abysmal if you don't dilute it into twenty-seven litres of mango juice or whatever, so I go and check what I have left: only two cans of cider. Might as well turn them into a power-hour.

Just before the beginning of the movie, however, I have the clever idea. I say, Dude, let's have a shot of cider for every time they say 'Sir.' Anyone who's seen the movie knows that this happens about two hundred and twenty million times over the course of the film, so the idea sounds like a blast. When me and my Indian flatmate begin, however, it turns out to be idiotic. For the first twenty-five minutes of the film they say 'Sir' about as often as I say 'thermonuclear biomechanics,' and when they finally get to the training scenes, they utter it so often and with such verve and gusto that we finish two cans of the cider in the space of four minutes.

Now what?, I ask myself, looking at my empty cans. 'I've got some gin,' says my British flatmate, jokishly suggesting that I'm going to keep doing the same thing with shots of gin. Obviously I take him up on it and I pour myself and the Indian a shot of gin.

The thing about gin is that it really tastes ghastly on its own. It has this sort of soapy backtaste spirited with a smatter of dirty frost. I take one shot and my taste-buds officially go on strike. (I guess that's to my advantage). After the third shot the Indian has to cop out because it is frankly beyond disgusting, and while I would do the same had we been watching any other film, in the case of Starship Troopers the movie turns out to be so goddamn depressing that I can't watch it without constantly feeling the need for a drink. We are at the scene when they undergo the first offensive and there are people dying all over the place and saying 'Sir' even as they die, so that by the time the battle is over I am lying on the bed alongside the scenes of the wounded like I were partaking in their agony. I am actually having fun though - the thing about gin is, it's really not that heavy a spirit. If I were drinking something like vodka, let alone absinthe, I probably couldn't stick to that rhythm, but things being as they are, I am downing like a restaurant sink. So much so, in fact, that eventually my British friend has to stop me. I accept it until he goes to the bathroom and I find myself with the bottle of gin accessible right next to me and a scene where fifteen year old kids are being sent into battle, and I think, what the hell. So I decide I'll try and see how many consecutive shots I can do while he is taking a piss. I have approximately just under sixty seconds, so I down one, two, three and by the fourth one he is out.

For that matter, so am I.

We walk out of there for a smoke after the movie was over and for some reason which has now completely escaped my memory I decide it would be a good idea to pull my trousers down and walk around the college in my underpants. The fact that I'm here writing it rather than in the office of the provost waiting for my turn to go in and bullshit my way through an explanation is testimony to the fact that no porters were around that night. After a while I pull my pants up and decide I am tired of walking and indeed of standing up, so I sprawl like a fallen star onto the grass and just lie there. I have some conversations with my mates while watching the leaves above me. Then I walk back to my room and after pondering whether to spontaneously throw up or not, I go to sleep.

The next day, I kind of wished I had thrown up whatever liquid hadn't yet been absorbed by my stomach. I had a headache which could have made it into a Virgilian epic, a backtaste on my tongue which felt like twenty lizards had taken a shit in my mouth and then used it as a cemetery for their oldest members, and most importantly, it was bloody half-seven in the fucking morning! I rolled over and tried to get that one extra hour of sleep I had before having to wake up and go send my police service forms (yet another reason I'm glad this blog is anonymous... I don't know if this story would help my application), but I couldn't. I just rolled over like a national government after a landslide election and couldn't get my brain to switch to unconscious mode.

I stood up and went to work. No love for gin now. Much prefer vodka.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Celebrating end of dissertation with an STD



Since I've basically just finished academia, I am currently looking for jobs. I have decided I want to try for a career in the metropolitan police force. Some of you may find this incongruous with the fact that I smoke mountains of weed, and probably so would they.

Even though I'd attended the recruitment event and everything, I realised when they told me they had drug-tests that I would need a holiday of a month or two at my parents' place before applying so that all the skunk could wash out of my body. This day, however, I hand in my dissertation and am walking back all jolly towards my flat, when I pass next to the university's medical centre. I was going to get home and get drunk at the beautiful hour of ten to eleven am, when I tell myself: Dude; I wonder if they do free blood and urine tests?

It's not something I absolutely need at this stage since I'm pretty sure they would turn out positive, but there can be no harm in asking, right? So I walk in. The atmosphere is very glum. There's a queu of sick people waiting for a doctor to call them. I walk up to the reception slightly less jolly than I was when I walked in, and I ask the woman there, 'Excuse me, is it possible to get a blood or urine test?'

'It depends on what it's for,' she says, and goes silent, as if expecting me to fill her in. The thing is, though, that I'm not that yodled about telling her I need a test to figure whether the woodlands of weed I've had cycling through my lungs are going to show, so I sort of remain quiet on the subject. The consequence of this is that she immediately leaps to the wrong conclusion: 'If it's for sexually transmitted diseases, you'd have to go to the hospital service in town,' she tells me.

Sexually transmitted diseases? Jesus, no. I haven't even been laid in, like, six months. Unless you can get an STD by shagging your hand too often, I should be as healthy as snow.

However the woman at the reception is interpreting my silence as a sign of embarrassment and looking at me with an expression of steely sympathy. She obviously thinks I've got AIDS or something and without me asking her anything she starts signing me up for an appointment with the doctor. This is going way too fast for me and I ask some random questions to gain time: 'Are the, um, the results of this test going to be made public? Or can I keep them private?' This question is of course crucial to me because there's no fucking point having an anticipated drugs' test if it's going to be accessible to the police when they're processing my application, but the woman interprets it as meaning 'I've been fucked in the ass by three beggar tramps and I'd rather my friends didn't find out' and she starts trying to encourage me, she presses my forearm while staring at me ruefully and assuring the results will be just for me. This is so getting at me that I'm feeling ashamed now of needing the test for something as stupid as smoking spliffs. As a result, I actually start acting the part. I begin to look highly preoccupied and insecure, as if my future were barren before me and all hope rested on that one blood test. She starts referring to STDs by means of indirect speech ('if it's for that thing...') and solemnly gives me the number of a gum clinic. I nod my head in thanks and look at the piece of paper with intense interest and a veil of sadness. Then I say goodbye and, with stoic demeanour, I walk out of the reception.

The moment that I step into the fresh air, I feel as though I had actually been cured from an STD. I walk home with my nerves all tingling and with a strange, broken laughter occasionally coming out of me. I get home, invite a couple of friends over, and I'm like, 'Dude, I need some cider.' They're like, 'Dude, it's quarter past eleven in the fucking morning.' I'm like, 'Dudes, you dudes have tea or something while I get some Strongbow.' So I pull out my famed Box of the Twenty-Four (referring both to the number of cans it contains and to the number of hours it usually takes before I need to buy another one), and down the first can in one go. Or at least I try: for some reason just before I've reached the very bottom something like a burp explodes up my throat and sends a massive jet of cider into my nose, which of course causes me to almost cough out what's still in my mouth and put the can down. (I was swigging them easy the other night. I don't understand why I can't seem to down Strongbow anymore. I must be growing old).

I hadn't slept the night before so by noon I was already dying. My friends dragged me to my room and thankfully did not decide to bring me to the medical centre. That would have been a scene for the day.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The trip to Edinburgh


This is the recounting of a trip I took to Edinburgh. There's some pretty disgusting stuff in here, so if you're sensitive, don't read on.

I went to Edinburgh because a friend of mine phoned me and come and do a poetry reading. I have become very fond of public performance. The first time I walked on stage it was like walking into an execution courtyard with a bandage over my eyes, but now I'm much better at it and I really enjoy it.

Because I couldn't afford the trip, I found a ticket with megabus. Megabus are a low-cost bus company who organise trips in the UK. I was wondering what the fuck the difference could be between sitting on a bus from a low-cost company and sitting on a bus from a regular company, so I booked it with them.

Because the trip was going to be about nine hours long, I had booked it to leave at 11 at night, reasoning I could have slept on the bus. So I went to London Victoria station.

When I walked into the part of the station from which my coach was supposed to depart, I initially thought I'd ended up in some office for the disembarkment of illegal immigrants. There were not two or three hundred people but billions. They all had bags you could fit three sows into and the general appearance of peasants in a Robin Hood story. They were all there for my same bus.

We got in. Astute like a marmot, I walk towards the end and sit on the seat next to the toilet, because that's the one where it's the least likely people will sit next to (I did so not knowing that I was about to find out why); this will increase my chances of having a free seat next to me and thus the possibility of lying down. It turns out I am right, for, as the people climb on, the bus fills up completely except for two empty places: the one right in front of the bathroom, next to which is sitting this fat, bearded Australian caveman-guy with a baseball cap, and the one right to the left of it, next to which is sitting yours truly.

The bus takes off, and it seems I'll be able to lie down. All right! I feel very smug and satisfied for a while, until this pachyderm of a woman walks back from the front rows and goes into the toilet. Barely two seconds have passed since the door closed when the most revolting concert of retching and stomach convulsions starts orchestrating through the walls. It starts in a sort of low note, with some uncertain gags, then it goes in full swing and it's like having a double stereo right behind your seat through which you're hearing forty-two people throwing up at the same time next to a giant amplifier. For a second I wonder if the woman is going to die in there as she's reached the five-minute mark now and is still going strong, but after a while she walks out with a face so white you'd think she'd been making pizzas with her face, and walks back to the front.

Well, I tell myself, at least that we got that over with at the beginning of the trip.

Only five minutes later the same pachyderm comes back from the front and starts vomiting again. I look absently out of the window while a continent's worth of splashing is going on in there, until her friend (another pachyderm, perhaps they were going to a convention) walks back from the front to check on her. The original woman walks out of the toilet, looking just like an albino.

'Are you alright?' her friend asks her.

'Yes,' the woman who had been disbucketing herself replies, 'but I think I'll sit around here in case I feel sick again.'

Oh Christ. Oh no. Go sit next to the Australian caveman, not next to me. Go sit next to him, please, I beg you, I'll buy you the DVD of Dumbo, I'll - she sits next to me.

Utterly fantastic. Not only I no longer have the room to sleep, but she stinks so bad of vomit that I'm starting to feel like I'm going to puke on her in turn. For a while I entertain the idea of shooting myself, but eventually the clever idea comes to me: almost an hour and a half before I had planned to, I pull out my dinner and start eating it. The dinner is composed of two of those English sandwiches, with a bouquet of prawns melded to a jungle of indistinct cabbage by means of mayonnaise used like mortar. The bread is also paper-thin so it's like trying to eat the Roman empire while it's falling apart under your teeth (an analogy which makes as much sense as those sandwiches). I decide to forget my good manners for a while: I throw myself onto the sandwich like a jaguar. I thrust my legs forward, my head back, allow for a thin streak of mayonnaise to paint itself on the side of my lips, and - on occasion - I gloriously belch.

The pachyderm resists halfway through the first sandwich. Then she has to turn away; I think for a second that she's made it, but at the first bite of the second sandwich she barges into the bathroom like a cyclone and starts vomiting like a storm. Then she walks out, pale like an Aryan princess in one of Wagner's wet dreams, and she goes and sits next to the Australian caveman, like a big white iceberg.

Success!

The rest of the trip was fine enough, even though there was this hole in the roof through which gusts from the frozen mountain-peaks of the Valhalla were entering the bus. Yet I managed to sleep, and when I woke up, I was surrounded by the Scottish countryside. The degree to which this is more beautiful than its English counterpart is something I have no words to explain: sloping mountains blonde with grain, untarnished as far as the eye can see, with the occasional spots of dark trees under a silver sky. Might as well have been in Africa, so wild it all looked.

Edinburgh was wonderful. The beauty of the city is something which has got to be seen to be believed (it reminded me a lot of Rome, in many ways), the reading went really well and it was followed by a terrific night out at this club whose name I can't remember.

On the notes of such an archetypal happy ending my narrative could comfortably find closure, but I'd like to specify that the heavens did take note of how much of a bastard I'd been on my way there, and they decided to punish me. On my trip back, which seems initially much more set back as there is significantly greater space on the coach, I am assaulted by the irresistible urge to pick my nose. I look around for a tissue or something but nothing is within reach. So I reach up my hand, but at the exact moment I do so, I notice this old lady from the seat at the front-left of me turning her head and staring at me disapprovingly. Quickly I bring my hand down. What the fuck is she staring at me disapprovingly for? Does she know of what happened on the way to Edinburgh, or what? So I sit there, thinking 'who cares,' but the thing is, I had an itch which was like the Spanish inquisition in my nose. Imagine a baby pterodactyl breaking through its egg and stretching its wings within one of your nostrils. Imagine a whole family of them. Imagine nuclear bombs and guerrilla warfare going on between your nose-hairs. I had to get it out.

For a while I just look at this old bint and learnt her routine patterns. She seems to have a knack for turning her head disapprovingly whenever I raised one of my hands even slightly. Eventually she turns her head away for long enough for me to decide to go for it, and brother, there's a friggin' panettone lodged into one of my nostrils, except that when I remove it, it's like a dam is broken and the biggest sodding nosebleed I've ever been the victim of explodes onto my shirt. Seriously, I never get nosebleeds, but it appears that this one time I've removed the lid keeping one of my central arteries closed. Naturally the old woman turns around and she begins to stare as I improvise something in absence of a tissue. I'm trying to keep it from falling onto my white shirt (completely impossible, when I came home it looked like I'd just come back from Fight Club). Eventually I pick up my copy of War and Peace and end up wiping myself with that, which sends the woman's disapproval of my barbarian behaviour at its zeitgeist. I can even sense the waves of perceived self-superiority she's emitting.

Probably felt the same way I did when the other woman went and sat next to the Australian guy. Guess it serves me right.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Crashin'!



Transmissions back online, fellas. They were offline for a while because, as I said, I was in London for a couple of job interviews and stuff. (I got rejected by the guys at the first one, but frankly who gives a damn. It was my first interview and it was a pretty crappy job anyway - cabin crew assistant for Ryanair, not nearly as interesting as it first seemed on paper).

However, I did do other interesting stuff while I was in London, and while most of it would probably rank third or fourth place in your list of things you do not give a shit about, the time when I crashed a party on friday might be worthy of your attention for a second or two, if only because it was just about the most stupid thing I've done since standing under a bridge in Newcastle with four friends and betting on who the seagulls would shit on first. And because stupidity is much more interesting to read about than intelligence, it makes for a worthy history.

Basically this is what happened. I got to London on tuesday and I had a couple of things to sort out over there, including the job interviews of previous mention, however on friday I was free. Because I have quite a few contacts in London, I decided to call a friend from university who was finalising his thesis in the big city to meet up. The guy suggests a pub near Covent Garden.

So I take the tube and I go there.

It was around one. We had a quick lunch at a restaurant, then went on to the pub. The intention was that of having a couple of pints of Guinness, but those turned into a couple of couples of pints, which in turn turned into triples, so that by half-five in the evening I was seeing double and I started socialising with these two Italian brickheads next to me just because they were Italian, even though their arguments and personalities were about as coarse and vulgar as a sailor-taught beer-drinking parrot whose whole repertoire of words is composed of abject blasphemy.

Now, the thing about my friend is that he had to leave early. That was the reason we were meeting during the day in the first place; I can't remember what he had to do, I think he had to return to his thesis, though how the devil could he work on his dissertation when he had a tsunami of beer taking place in his stomach every time he turned around is a complete mystery to me. So I'm left alone in the pub. It is six pm, and I'm thinking, Hell: six in the evening and I'm drunk in London. I'm not going home. So I call up another friend of mine and I tell him, 'Dude, let's meet up,' and he's like, 'Dude, let's meet up,' so we're both like, 'Dude, let's meet up,' so I get invited to his place, from whence we are probably going to head to another pub.

So I take the tube, drunk, and walk out in the Northern part of London. It is starting to get dark. I walk up the street leading to my friend's house, and there's a row of houses to my right with very small walls around their gardens, of the kind you can climb over very easily unless you're a garden dwarf. As I keep walking, one of these houses I come across has light and powerful music coming through the white curtains of its broad window. When the music sort of subdues itself, I can hear young people's laughter from inside. I think: Party!

I normally don't do this sort of thing, but I was drunk and I decided I'd crash the damn place. Who gives a damn. I stood for a while pondering Good idea, Bad idea, Good idea, Bad idea, but eventually resolved it was a good idea. So I step over the small wall and walk in.

Now, the thing about crashing parties is that you've got to blend in, yeah? You've got to go unperceived. Look like you belong there. Whatever first room you walk into, you just sail through without looking anyone in the eye; then, when you get to the next room, you act like you got there with a purpose (say, looking for another drink if it's the kitchen, or looking for some person whom you can't find). There, you start up a conversation with whomever you find, so that when other people look in, it looks like you really belong to the group. If you do it properly, by the time they figure out you've crashed the place, you'll already be in the middle of things and they won't be eager to throw you out, or at least not too eager.

So I crash this party, or crash into this party depending on how you want to picture my falling ruinously over the garden wall and staggering towards the house with thistle poking out of my eyebrows. I turn the corner which leads towards the kitchen-door, and take a step in.

It is a rasta-negro party. Every single person in there is black like Michael Jackson, pardons, like Martin Luther King and has dreadlocks falling down to their waist. Excepting the music, my entrance seems to coincide with a ghostly silence. Seventeen pairs of eyes turn towards me.

'Um, hello,' I mumble.
'Hello,' one of them rumbles in reply. That's right, rumbles. He has a voice which sounds like thunder coming from distant clouds over a stormy, desert plain in Arizona.

The thing with crashing parties is, when they go well, they're really great. But when they go bad, the expression 'shit hits the fan' is no longer even funny.

'Party here?', I say. (My conversation skills had drowned in the beer).
'Yeah,' the same one of them replies, while another one is caressing a pitbull at the other side of the room. 'You've got a problem with that?'

Ok, Bad idea. I don't even bother replying. I turn and walk out of there like an ostrich on ice-skates, clumsy like hell but fast like fuck.

Eventually I reached the house of my friend and from there we went on to a pub, where I pretended I was French with an Italian girl and started slagging off the Romans so she would start praising them in defence, which would automatically get her on my side once I revealed I was a Roman, and after that I got even drunker and started chatting in Spanish with the barmaid - but all of this I just know from my friends telling me, because frankly I can't recall a single thing of what happened in that pub after we started on those dreadful Polish shots they have in there (no, I can't even remember their names and frankly I think that might be for the better). I do recall that at some stage we went back to my friend's place and I sort of discorporated on the sofa after eating a four-tiered storehouse of lasagna, but that's the entirety of what is left to me. The rest has been lost like tears in rain.