Friday, September 29, 2006

The twilight zone

Unemployment/idleness is an odd and disconcerting existence. All summer - which I spent writing my masters dissertation or ‘the zeft’ as it became known - I fantasised about September 15th when I would hand the zeft in and boot it up its retreating arse. I compiled mental lists of the interesting and edifying things which I would do in the hiatus before I went to Cairo, such as; reading non-fiction books on important issues of our time; going to the British Museum in order to look at the artefacts stolen by the British from other parts of the world; finding a temporary job…and so on.

Needless to say I have done none of this, preferring to immerse myself in the culture of British morning television programming. Later, when I inevitably became nocturnal and life before noon a distant memory, I moved on to the students/old people/unemployed dossers window between 1 and 5 pm. As any student, old person or unemployed dosser can tell you, the desolate wasteland that is British afternoon television usually consists of the following; self-help programmes (how to sell crap you find in your house at a flea market for 15 quid, how to lose weight, how to do your garden, how to buy a house in Spain, how to decorate your house, how to decorate your face); rubbish old films; Colombo; Scrabble-based cheap-arsed game-shows where the winner wins a dictionary; and Children’s TV. When the catatonia all this induces becomes too much and the sloth just too disgusting, I propel myself upstairs to Read Useful Stuff about law blah blah blah and instead proceed to read addictive blogs written by people with apparently as much free time, and as little to say, as me. (No offence to the one person who reads this). I do make contact with the outside world, in the form of the demon MSN Messenger, or I might even occasionally leave the house (oh promised land of the outside world!) to buy milk.

In my defence I am absolutely skint (borassic, broke, penniless), rather than lazy or dull, and free interesting things to do in London can be counted on one hand and usually require a consenting adult partner.

And so the sunny floral meadow of post-dissertation life which once shone so brightly has been paved over and a 12- storey car park smelling of pee erected in its stead, and I am stagnating. On a more positive note at least when I return to Cairo and inevitably stagnate there for a month, I can do outside in the sun.

This routine was interrupted only once, by a girls night out to a Baroque night where we waited two hours to see a man stick two forks up his nose, a 6 foot transvestite dressed as a geisha dance, an overweight Turkish looking man do a ‘comedy’ strip and a man dressed up like Alfred Hitchcock swallow a two foot balloon accompanied by 60s Austen Powers type music. It was all meant to be trendy London Bohemian kitsch (women came dressed in corsets and men in ‘sharp’ suits etc) but in fact it was more or less shite.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

My name is Amnesiac and I am a....can't remember

Right, so the other day my cousin Gombaaz who is in her very early 20s and has discovered Tequila was asking me why I gave up drinking. Rather than subject her to a tedious litany of the religious/spiritual crises, and bigger soul-searching context in which this decision was taken, I regaled her with juicy binge-drinking horror stories from the brief rock n roll period in my past hoping that she would take note and Learn from the Elders.

Learn from the Elders

1. If you are 17 and an amateur drinker, do not attempt to scale barbed wire fences whilst under the influence and wearing flimsy cotton trousers, for this will almost certainly end in embarrassment, tears and permanent scarring. (Scarring made even more galling given that you inexplicably mounted the fence - rather than use the entrance - whilst en route to see a dull boyfriend perform in a dull rendition of a dull play (something Ibsen) in a 6th form college.)

2. If you are 17 and an amateur drinker, do not attempt to ‘warm up’ for a night out on the razz with the girls by starting drinking at 4 pm in college, and continuing until 10 p.m. Do not then enter the nightclub and dance maniacally to a bad ‘the Jam’ tribute band (failing to realise that your white underwear was highly visible under the fluorescent lighting the bastards in the club were using) before passing out at the feet of a bouncer who proceeds to eject you into the dangers of the night in a very questionable area of London.

3. If this does happen, ensure that you have tattooed a phone number on your wrist so that you can phone a friend or at least ask the audience to call a cab for you.

4.If you are 22 and a semi-amateur drinker who is also now on Prosac, it is almost certainly a bad idea to consume a cookie containing substances which, when combined with prescription narcotics, result in your being absolutely convinced that your then boyfriend is the devil, that your friend is Jim Morrison come back from the dead, and that you must immediately leave the party and run home – even if it is 11 p.m., winter and you are for some reason barefoot.

5. If you are 26 and well and truly pissed whilst playing backgammon with a boyfriend who insists on gloating and singing Queen’s ‘we are ze champions’ in his French bloody accent every sodding time he wins, it is probably best to keep bottles of wine out of reach, so that a bottle cannot be thrown out of the window in a rage in the direction of his head, and land on the roof opposite, where it stares at you… accusatorially… each time you open the shutters.

Now not long after Gombaaz was edified by the error of my ways, I came across an old excuse for a diary that I had attempted to keep in 2001-2002. This was a significant year not only because of the tumultuous world events which inspired Bush et al’s Piss On Peace In the Middle East agenda/debacle, but also because I had predicted tumultuous events in my own little life. Funnily enough they were also in the Middle East, during my university year abroad. I consequently decided to keep the stupid diary.

As predicted most of it is a butt-clenchingly awful navel-gazing woe-is-me dirge, mostly about ze French petit-ami who was ten years older, patently unsuited – this was a man for whom water-sports (and I mean real actual water-sports not golden showers you freaks) and computer games represented the pinnacle of happiness. In short, lamentable girlish crap. Except one thing! An entry which read:
French bf an absolute bastard yesterday whilst playing tawla. We had a bet of 40 LE. I won. We had a water-fight because he was angry at losing [this was a man who expressed emotion through sports after all]. Upon returning from work he wanted to play again. I won many games, one on a double which drove him mad. He grabbed the empty bottle of wine and chucked it out of the window. Luckily it landed on the roof opposite. But in the process of doing that he knocked over my last bit of wine, which I hadn’t even tasted, the sod.

I can’t describe how the fact that I had mis-remembered such a fundamental aspect of this story, namely that it was him rather than me who threw the bottle, shook me…It made me realise that the sections of my past which I have actually succeeded in remembering may be entire fiction, and that in order not to find myself 40 years hence some mad old cow telling youngsters how I was the first woman on the moon I had better record events while they are fresh in my mind. Why publicly in a blog? Because experience has demonstrated that writing a diary is a chore. The possibility of feedback/comments/whatever is the spur which makes this lazy old mare run.