Archive for May, 2011

Unfeasibly Attractive Girlfriend and I were at Oldest Friend’s birthday party a couple of days ago. Great venue and great people, as ever with her, but there was one guy in particular whom we both thought was a little bit special.

The early signs weren’t good: he was drinking Blackcurrant and Soda – but we got past that, and I’m so glad that we did, because this paid off with one of the best stories I have ever heard.

As the evening wore on, and those of us who weren’t limited to soft drinks really got to grips with alcohol, Oldest Friend’s natural ebullience and loving nature were further strengthened with a dash of good old clichéd “You’re wonderful, you’re my best friend” interaction. As it became obvious that we were all going to get a little bit of this treatment, Blackcurrant and Soda assumed a bit of a rictus grin. With good cause…

“Oh! And Blackcurrant and Soda! Blackcurrant and Soda is SO amazing, everyone. Do you know why? Because not ONLY is he the most amazing man and father, but he has completely kicked everything, apart from smoking. He doesn’t drink and he doesn’t do drugs any more, do you Blackcurrant and Soda?”

I thought I’d try to pull focus, so that at least “One man’s battle with addiction” could be limited to a private conversation, and not enacted in front of the whole room (and it was very apparent that Oldest Friend was certainly up for an extensive gloss on the topic), so I turned to him and said:

“That must have been tough.” (I know: the combined corpses of Dorothy Parker, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde are spinning in their graves, furious that the throne of  Greatest Wit Who Ever Lived was now occupied by another.)

“Not really: I just had one of those moments when you realise that this has got to stop. I woke up in Archway nick, wearing a panda suit, covered in blood – and thought “Enough’s enough”.”

It turns out that the panda suit was a by-product of his (own) company’s Christmas Party, and (after leaving the party, and having decided that he wanted to gain access to his office, somewhat the worse for drink and drug wear) he was standing at the Reception of his office, furiously trying to key in an access code whilst still wearing his panda paws. This ineffectual stabbing brought three members of his Security team running towards him, ready to fight off this unknown assailant in a Panda suit.

He decked them all, covering himself in blood in the process, and getting arrested – and was (it turns out) so out of it when he came round in the police station, that he had no memory of what he’d done, that he just thought – in his own phrase – that he’d “got in a ruck”. It was when he got a call from his business partner that he realised what had happened:

“What the FUCK were you up to last night? I’m looking at the CCTV footage with the police from last night, and it’s like something from “When Pandas Go Bad”.”

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I’m going to New York the week after next where I’m going to combine some lecturing on Advertising Planning (something which is filling me with so much dread it is only really now that I am confronting the fact that I am doing it – SHITTING HELL!) with an interview at another agency.

It’s a more famous agency than the one that I currently work at, but no better (worse in many areas); and the money is a lot better, but I am almost certain that I don’t want to work there. My work situation at the moment is pretty perfect: I’ve been promoted to the Board, given a pay rise to go with it, and they are really good about my home situation (basically letting me work from home as and when I need to in order to accommodate the children) – so I don’t really know why I’d leave. On the other hand, Old Friend at Work is right when she says that I may as well turn up, specifically if I don’t want the job (which is when I tend to perform at my best), and see it as ego-stroking and practice if nothing else.

Anyway: that’s half the gig. The bulk of it is this lecturing that I am doing (largely in the spirit of “Run towards what makes you scared – and given that, as I run towards this, I can almost feel myself shitting myself, I think I’m embracing the spirit of that dictum pretty well), and that’s three days of lecturing, leading workshops, Q&As and all that stuff that makes me feel like self-harming. The other speakers are all from different areas (screenwriters, film producers, TV executives, journalists) and we’re all speaking on the theme of “Engagement through Story-Telling”, so I am under no illusion that my slot will be the point at which people make their phone calls and grapple with their iPads.

Ah well: “What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger” as terrifying, proto-Nazi Nietzsche coined it. We shall see.

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Fantastic day with Best Friend, Talented Art Director with Monkey Arms and Gifted God Daughter – so fantastic that I arrived at 12 noon and left just before 11pm, adding new nuance, richness and meaning to the phrases “Out staying your welcome” and “Shit off back to Richmond, Eiljert, for the love of GOD!”.

Gifted God Daughter sifted through her so-late-they-look-sarcastic Easter presents with all the speed, dexterity and clear judgement that I have come to expect of her: quickly sorting the wheat from the chaff and hooking into the chocolate; and spent the rest of the day proving the fact that she is so dangerously intelligent that a new school will have to be built to TRY and educate her in (if they can find teachers who are up to the job, and can keep pace with her forensic analysis of shapes and animals – which I doubt).

Later, we joined the Dalston Massive and I was (by sheer dint of location and company) about 400 times cooler than I had been in ages. As we walked, Talented Art Director with Monkey Arms entertained Gifted God Daughter with various caperings, and Best Friend told me something so “Six Degrees of Separation” that I also couldn’t believe it. I won’t take you through the specifics of it all, but it turns out that Attractive and Funny PR Woman (whom I’ve met a couple of times with BF and TADwMA) is good friends with a woman whose children attend the same school as my children. They were out for dinner and (unbelievably) the friend mentioned Ex Wife.

“Oh my goodness!” said AaFPRW “I know her ex-husband, Eiljert!”

“Really? Is it the same one?” asked her friend.

“Oh yes,” began AaFPRW, and then illustrated the fact that she knew of whom she spoke, mentioning not just the children by name, but also Ex-Wife’s affair with Man Who Looks Like Steve Buscemi and the events surrounding. She stopped when she realised that her conversational companion had gone quiet.

“I didn’t realise she’d had an affair.” (No surprise here, Ex Wife is very keen not to mention that, which I suppose shows some level of morality). And then – apparently – her face changed to that of a woman who has just won the lottery: the lottery of Playground Currency, as she realised that she was going to be able to get in with a couple of exciting pointers on Monday, as the children filed into class, to the rest of the waiting mothers.

The truth will out, as the saying goes…

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Latest Client comment.

“Could we be accused of encouraging the exploitation of dwarves?”

By suggesting IN A COMMERCIAL that THE IMAGINARY Snow White bought herself a new dress? No, no I don’t think we could.

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Unfeasibly Attractive Girlfriend has bought me some ART. In fact, she’s bought me a sculpture. With the sole exception of my three-foot tall bust of William Shakespeare (said by some uncharitable souls to bear a striking resemblance to the comedian, Bill Bailey), I don’t have any other statue joy, so it’s doubly welcome.

It’s the work of an American (whom I hadn’t heard of), who worked with Mark Rothko and in tribute to him cast some of his paintbrushes in bronze. Whilst I don’t believe that these paintbrushes are Rothko’s, what UAG has bought me is a cast sculpture of a large jar filled with artist’s paintbrushes – a hint to follow her dictum that I need to spend more time drawing and painting (rather than trying to get her to take her bra off) – and I absolutely LOVE it. It’s cast in that white, ghostly resin that Rachel Whiteread uses and quite the most beautiful thing: ghostly, timeless but very modern.

I have also been buying art for myself – although UAG was involved again, in as much as I was with her in Madrid (where she spends half her time) when we discovered an auction. Her Spanish is pretty good, mine is virtually non-existent, but we decided to go in and see what was about, and she convinced me that I wouldn’t get so confused by the language spoken at speed that I would end up spending thousands on a pile of newspapers tied up with string. About an hour and a half later, I emerged with an eighteenth century miniature (and I mean “miniature” – it’s about three inches across) oil painting of a ruined landscape, with two women in the foreground. It’s going to look perfect in Daughter’s bedroom (once she has one), and is part of my new arsenal of Things of Unspeakable Coolness, which I have been adding to since Wife absconded with Small Man Who Looks Like Steve Buscemi, and which might well have grown beyond the bounds of any space that I could manage to display them in.

If (when I find a house) this does indeed prove to be the case, and I am unable to display the full extent of my Things of Unspeakable Coolness and Art, then I shall stage a “happening” (perhaps in the Chiswick Catholic Centre) where I burn what’s surplus to requirements, while reciting snatches of The Oresteia.

What shall NOT be making its way into the enclosure of Things of Unspeakable Coolness and Art, is the awfulness that UAG, Old Friend at Work and Newly Befriended Husband of Old Friend at Work witnessed earlier in the week. We went to a private view at the house of an ACHINGLY cool friend from work (she has turned her house over to be a gallery space for a group of three artists), and shuffled our way around the work (none of which had prices attached, which is always frightening), Champagne in hand, and then shuffled out. It was awful. The exhibition, entitled something like “Les Femmes, Elles Ont Des Vagines” was very strong on hairy beaver shots: photos from (I would guess) 1970s porno mags, were juxtaposed with women in full burqa, transferred onto glass with a sepia wash applied, and then a single word, such as “OPPRESSION!” (just to help the particularly hard of understanding) was scratched into the glass. Subtle, it was not. These art school try-outs hung alongside further beavers painted (very inexpertly) onto newspaper in poster paint, and (in a rare case of “Beaver-free art”) some pages ripped from lined notebooks, onto which anatomical cross-sections had been photocopied, and were joined by our old friend the portentous word, in an effort to elevate what might have otherwise seemed like “Testing the Photocopier” to “Art”. So, we got cross sections of eyes with “Invisible” applied over them, and a nineteenth century drawing of the four chambers of the heart with – have you guessed yet? – “Love” sidling up alongside it.

The only thing I was tempted by was a picture that I found a little way off from the main exhibit, and I was getting quite excited about Making It Mine, when UAG appeared behind me, and having listened to my enthusiastic raving about it for a couple of minutes added: “Yes… It’s a Herman Miller. They tend to go for about thirty or thirty-five grand.”

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