Posts Tagged ‘Best Friend’

So: after almost twenty months, more Estate Agents than I ever hope to encounter again in the rest of my life, an architect, a team of builders and a deep immersion in the auction houses of London, I am moving into my new house this weekend.

The children have already seen it and given it their unconditional approval, which is heartening, as I chose it largely with them in mind – as you would, of course. When I saw it, I wasn’t completely convinced – in fact, I was quite anti: but the endorsements of Sister, Parents, Old Friend at Work and Best Friend all brought me round and now I am enamoured with it. This is probably due, in no small part, to the fact that it no longer has mahogany floorboards, a black quartz kitchen floor and blue and white tiles in the bathrooms (one of the reasons I have spent so long not living in a house that I have owned for six months is that I decided to bite the bullet, do ALL the work – and spend ALL the money, rather than do it in drips and drabs, which would be disruptive – and I think everyone’s had enough disruption to be getting on with…), and is now exactly as I would want it.

It’s also the first time that I’ve lived in a house of this style: very modern and open-plan, rather than old and self-contained rooms. Again, I am now delighted with this way of living, and it’s also quite therapeutic to be living a new life in a new kind of space, rather than in a version of the houses that I shared with Ex Wife.

So: good times ahead. The children are excited, and I’m excited. If I can put up with the navy blue front door until the Spring, when I shall re-paint it (and there’s more than enough woodwork to be painting in the meantime), then all shall be rosy in the garden. Assuming some cunt hasn’t planted bamboo in there…

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The many Poker players among you will already have scented what my theme is.

I have been advised (a number of times) that I have a set of “tells” which announce a set of different emotions on my behalf.

I have seen this in others, of course. In Best Friend, it is the planting of both feet at shoulder width to announce “You and I are going to fall out, sunshine.”

With Old Friend at Work it is the simple words “Are you joking?” to announce “The next fifteen minutes are going to be the worst of your life – and I shall fill each one of those with such invective as could take the paint off an ocean liner.”

With me, they are as follows:

  • Emotion: “Disregard for your intellect/the content of what you’ve just said”
    • Tell: “It’s like shutters coming down over your eyes” (to quote someone who’s seen it).
  • Emotion: “Warm Anger”
    • Tell: “Lion Hands” (fingers splayed, and bent back into “claws”)
  • Emotion: “Cold Anger”
    • Tell: “Shark Eyes” (to quote Old Friend at Work’s assessment, followed by the qualification – “I would rather be dead than have those shark eyes turned on me”).

In my line of work, of course, it’s the first that’s the most dangerous, as I have to spend a fair (or, as I would argue warmly, an unfair) amount of my time doing my “nodding and encouraging and “I’m sure there’s something in that” face – and yet it is that first tell that I have been advised/warned of most often and most consistently.

I wonder if I was born with it?

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Best Friend had to return to London during our holiday for a pitch, meaning that Talented Art Director With Monkey Arms and I were left in charge of the four children (my three and their daughter, Gifted God Daughter). It was a shame that she had to miss out, but it was great to spend a bit more time with TADWMA, even if occasionally it came with understanding looks from the good people of Taunton.

As we toured the local sights (Longleat, where the Monkey Drive Through was accomplished without the loss of the windscreen wipers to my delight, and the disgust of the children – not so the BMW X5 in front of us, whose car was all but left on bricks and spray-painted “Wanker” by the monkeys; Wookey Hole which only really came alive not during the exploration of caves thousands of years old, but during the time spent in the jungle gym; Weston Super Mare, where Eldest Son and Daughter covered themselves in the clay that makes us so much of the beach and appeared to be wearing grey diving suits), it became obvious as we (in that very English way) almost came to blows over which of us was going to pay for everybody, that the merchants we were dealing with thought they were dealing with a very modern family indeed: two dads and four children.

TADWMA probably got the worst of it, as he queued for the entrance to Wookey Hole and explained that he wanted a family ticket (it being cheaper) while gesturing at me and my children, and was rewarded with a flustered and over-accommodating swiftness from the ticket seller.

On her return, Best Friend thought this was hilarious and made much play of it, referring to her husband as “Mrs. Eiljert” – but this was a step too far, and brought forth the heated and heartfelt objection “Why am I Eiljert’s bitch? He’s the one doing the washing up!”

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I shall write in full about the latest holiday with the children and Best Friend and Talented Art Director With Monkey Arms. For the moment, just let me record that it was the most brilliant fun, and that the children seemed to love every second of it: I had been slightly nervous of a week spent without electricity (and thus DSi, television etc.) but it did not bother them at all, and it was great to see how much time they spent outside, making up games, drawing and reading. Maybe a return to the Dark Ages is a necessity for every year’s holiday…

Needless to say Best Friend and Talented Art Director With Monkey Arms were both absolutely brilliant, and great fun to be around and made the whole thing even more fun that it would have been without them.

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Ex-Wife is (as predicted) moving in with Man Who Looks Like Steve Buscemi, in North London.

The children are staying at their current school, which is good as it’s clear that they don’t need any more disturbance, and she has been diligent about finding a way in which she can get them to and from there with relatively little fuss – to wit, The Magic Train (as it has been dubbed by Best Friend), which goes from North London to West London (and beyond in both directions, actually) in a matter of minutes. So, the education is not to be disrupted, but I am thinking that it can be supplemented.

As mentioned above, kitted out with all the requirements of a forty-year old man (younger girlfriend, cashmere V-Necks, expanding classical music collection), I became – unsurprisingly – enamoured with the back catalogue of Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, delivered via the iPod.

Other than the varying charms and humour of the guests (high points being Ian McEwan, Lawrence Dallaglio and Kristin Scott Thomas – the low point being Giles Brandreth), and the music choices, the other great point of interest for me has been in discovering the nature of the early home lives and education of these (by and large) celebrated and gifted people. The thing that seems to be consistent across class, gender and country, is a parent (sometimes two) who exposed them early to books (not just reading, but “the cult of books”), often Shakespeare and always music. Music unending and constantly on: varying, but high quality (whether it was Ella Fitzgerald, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan or – most often, it seems – Bach) seems to be the thing that animated these households and these childhoods.

No doubt it’s partly in the nature of the programme they’re appearing on: were it “Desert Island Books”, then I daresay books, libraries, recitals and the spoken word would make (even more of) a starring appearance; and the same is probably true of “Desert Island Kitchenalia” prompting fond, misty-eyed recollections of that sieve, that spurtle, that spoon. Nevertheless, there is something in music (and I know just how unoriginal this is) that is transcendent in every sense, which must account for its animating spark and its ability to provoke feeling and recall time and place. Like many others, I have rehearsed in my head what my choices would be (and I have gone down the path of “music that reminds me of people and occasions), and it was really easy: perhaps because I realised that music was constant in my young life too. I remember my father turning up Elvis Presley whenever it came on in the car, my mother pretending to be all of the animals in Saint Saens’ Carnival, being allowed to stay up late to watch “Carmen” (and then, at the age of ten, being taken to see Losey’s magnificent film of “Don Giovanni” in the cinema), and a steady progress of classical, opera, rock, jazz, blues and pop ever since. It was inter-mingled with the radio (never stirring from Radio 4), but there was always something in the background, over which we talked and about which we argued.

I am redoubled in my determination that it should be the backdrop to my beloved children’s lives whenever they are with me – and if that means that I begin to appreciate  more great music, and to learn more about it with them, then what a reward that will be.

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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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