I’ve Been to a Marvellous Party

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Ah Bristol, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways… This weekend was another resounding success. Despite the struggle to actually get to the place – about three and half hours going through Hereford and Newport; contending with the hoards of Welsh fans off down to cheer Wales against France at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff and the bitterly harsh winds on Saturday (not to mention the fascist ticket inspector that frequents the Hereford to Birmingham line) – I got there eventually. Rocking up to Number 8 I found that everyone was still asleep or in no state to emerge from their respective pits. The door was finally answered by a random. I introduced myself and stepped inside whereupon I encountered at least three more randoms. These strangers then proceeded to explain how they infact lived there now. It seems the change I believed the house to have undergone had been somewhat understated and these FNGs were not squatters but the new residents. And what lovely people there all were. Max and Rob have clearly landed on their feet and hustled themselves some very friendly and wholly charming new housemates in the shape of Jenny, Becky, Si and Annette. The apathy and quiet resentment that had been allowed to ferment in the house before had been replaced by something more positive and akin to mutual respect. It was a real breath of fresh air. It transpired that the reason everyone was feeling under the weather had been to do the previous night’s drinking session that had ended at four am and had comprised of the whole house apparently (apparently they had been in an establishment I know only too well called Sloanes). My Friday night had been somewhat more restrained in comparison but I did my best to enthuse about the solitary Guinness I’d enjoyed before dinner.

Rob was just about capable of sitting upright and talking (sometimes both at the same time) so we chilled out that afternoon. We then all got ready to go and out and er, went out. We stopped off in the Cotham Hill which had shed the “Cotham” part of its title and was now just known rather ominously as The Hill. Then we paid a visit to the Roo Bar which is an amusing Australian (no, really) Bar that has been installed in what was part of the Clifton Down railway station buildings. Feeling suitably brave enough to venture down to The Triangle we made a move and ended up in a bar called Mbargo which surely had the most pleasant bouncers anywhere on The Triangle (in that they didn’t refuse us entry and try and to break our arms) and got on with the serious business of having a good time. I think I must have blinked at around three because I suddenly found myself back at Number 8 with everyone who was from the house and everyone who wasn’t. The tunes were on and people looked as they still had a lot of energy in them so we sat around, smoked, drank and did a lot of laughing (not least when Max decided he wanted to do nothing more than climb into Jenny’s pink dressing gown and rampage around the house unloading a fire extinguisher at stuff). What a classic flourish! I think I got to bed (in what had been Shannon’s ridiculously small room) at about eight which was a good result for me. Since one wall of the room comprises of an entire window and is east-facing I was awake shortly afterwards wondering where I was, who I was, what year it was and who the president was. I then stumbled around trying to make sense of everything and generally feeling sorry for myself as one does in these situations. I could only now empathise with how everyone had been feeling the day before; except they were almost certainly feeling worse having been wrecked the night before and the night before that. And the night before that. This seems to happen to people in Bristol – it almost makes no sense to not do a lot of drinking. The place seems entirely suited to an alcoholic lifestyle and there are no shortages of great places to gather people together and drink till you’re sober again.

Fortunately it was a beautiful sunny day in Bristol (which really looks its best when it’s bright) and the addition of a heavenly breeze meant that starting the first leg of my homeward journey proved far more pleasant than I’d thought it would. I left knowing that the future of Number 8 was secure and I don’t doubt I’ll be back when my system has recovered. Thankfully the trains behaved themselves and I was home in time for the fantastic roast that my stomach had been crying out for. Everything it seemed was alright.

The Man with the Movie Camera

Apologies to Liam if you had already used this title when the DV Stork visited you recently, but I felt that this post deserved it. And anyway, we’re both indebted to a Polish gentleman called Dziga Vertov for his film and more recently The Cinematic Orchestra for reminding us of it anyway. All I wanted to boast about say is that I am now the proud owner of a Panasonic NV-GS280 which is the little distant cousin (whose family probably only ever visits at Easter) of Alex’s NV-GS400. I plan to spend time familiarising myself with the machine so that I can get the most from it. Having dedicated pretty much my whole life to being crap at using a camera this will be no small achievment. At this time I will also be using the camera in conjunction with Le Big Mac to transfer as much stuff from VHS to DVD as poss whilst leaving a healthy and satisfying residue of good stuff on the ol’ hard drive for my own delectation. Fortuitously today is one of those days where it actually is about two seconds away from snowing so all I neeed now is an old Tesco’s carrier bag to remind me how much beauty there is in the world.

This does now represent the last of the Big Spends of the moment. I had been saving for a rainy day and whilst it hasn’t been a downpour, it has been a continual drizzle for a good few months now and I am acquiring useful stuff I’ve wanted for some time. I’ve always been good at justifying purchases to myself or maybe I too subscribe to Yuzu Daimon’s theory in number9dream that Whoever dies with the most stuff wins.

Surrealismo

In addition to attempting to invent a few additional Rules to Mornington Crescent (in this case taking Mornington Crescent to mean the entirety of the London Underground and that there could be no clarifications of any statements made between Waterloo and London Bridge on The Jubilee Line on a Sunday if you didn’t posess a valid form…)  I encountered much strangeness this weekend. Dave explains the great Mammal Cheese Debate of our time better than I ever could but in addition to these important issues was the notion that we are all using far too much management-speak and pat phrases around and if the trend or habit of using them instead of bothering to think of the words that would serve you better, then we are in danger of becoming a society that is inarticulate and insincere (alright more inarticulate and insincere, then). We attempted to construct phrases that consist of nothing more than popular phrases and metaphores (hybrids were allowed) something like; “Grass never grows on the tip of the iceberg which will never boil at the end of the day but could in a perfect world because the bigger pictures reveals it can jump through hoops if brought to the table.” Then everything is followed up with, “That’s really the thin end of the wedge” as if to imply that it can get a lot worse, which of course it can, as afterall it’s only the “Square slippery slope in a round edge of reason”. This could even become a drinking game if more of the Rules of Mornington Crescent were involved. Wait, it gets worse.
I continued this thinking (pointless musing) on the train home last night (after Kelvin and I had managed to come up with a cookery show about maths hosted by Tom Selleck that had sprung from changing Magnum P.I. to Magnum ? and then ultimately Magnum Pie) and decided that if you had a good knowledge of actors, politicians, sportsmen, authors, musicians, scientists, religious leaders and the Christmas Special of Father Ted you could play the “Mrs Doyle tries to guess Todd Unctious’s Name Game”. Bet you’re curious now, huh? Each player takes it in turns to say famous (or infamous) people’s names prefixed by the word “Father” e.g. “Father Eamon Holmes”. The other player retorts with another famous person from a different background such as “Father Pol Pott”. At any time a player can play a wild card by using the name of one of the Fathers Mrs Doyle actually guesses such as “Father Neil Hannon” or “Father Hiroshima Twinkie”. When they do, the other player must counter with another one of Mrs Doyle’s guesses. The player who loses is the one who is forced to guess “Father Todd Unctious”. I’m going to go and look for a job now…

Warmer Climes

The year is really picking up. As you can see in the below post and here if you crane your neck a bit, Saturday was Benj and Ros’ house warming. This was excellent for many reasons. Firstly I just got to see their last flat before they moved and while it was well appointed and homely, Ros was able to give me the tour to entire place without requiring me to move anything except my eyes and my head. A bit. This upgrade has a bit more breathing space and enough room to swing Molly. I think it’s great that the whole family (pictured below; left to right – Benj, Molly and Ros) now has a more permanent, not to mention larger, space to entertain me in get on with their lives in. I know there is decorating afoot (the wardrobe is coming along nicely) and I’m sure the place will be thoroughly resplendent before too long (the red wine skirmishes notwithstanding).

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Secondly, since Alex and Soni (and Jill for that matter) now have their own Isle of Pleasure too and Meg and Kelvin are plotting their own domestic set-up in Brighton things are really starting to come together and I’m delighted for you all. The weekend heralded a sense that hopefully we can all start seeing more of each other soon. Of course there were absent friends as there invariably are with these situations all of whom were missed.  Do try and see that it doesn’t happen again, would you, there’s good people.

La Grande Bouffe

And before you ask, no this nothing to do with porn, thank you very much. The weekend was an absolute triumph; veni vidi, er, I ate a lot. We’d all arranged to meet at Alex’s place and upon arrival, she and Soni continued their aggressive entertaining campaign which involves the guest being caught off-balance by the opulent surroundings before they are made as comfortable as possible and subsequently plied with as much good food as they can take (in this case upwards of six – count them – types of humous, pitta, salad and some lightly fried chorizo). My personal theory is that they plan to prevent all of their guest from leaving, it’s a sort of “Isle of Pleasure” surrounded by Canada Water, Surrey Water and The Thames. Later Alex, Dave and I crossed from the Pleasure Isle to the Spice Island, which is the girl’s local, to meet Meg and Kelvin fresh from their flight from Swansea (I use “flight”  in the sense that they were fleeing the place rather than they arrived in a plane). After a few drinks (two pints of Hoegaarden) we decided to eat before the party – here I made the mistake of assuming that The Spice Island’s tapas would be substantial. Three shrimps, five button mushrooms and a couple of olives later I was ready to (eat more, actually) party. We all piled into Alex’s car and drove down to Brixton stopping off for supplies (a bottle of Ernst & Julio Gallo Zinfandel and six Kronenberg – yeah, I was impressed…). On reflection the lack of food to weigh me down freed me up to bounce round Benj and Ros’ new place and talk utter rubbish at people all night. I also got to thank Dan’s girlfriend Audrey for the recipe she gave to Ros for butternut squash risotto with oranges that Ros and Benj prepared last for me last year. That had been the night that Ros had proudly shown off her electric peppermill with an inbuilt torch so you could illuminate what you’re seasoning, or would help you find your way to the fusebox during a powercut and leave a trail of spice to prevent you getting lost on the way back. Next morning in order to combat a terrible hangover (I blame the Spice Island) we bought in a Full English Kit and some Resolve (a but like Pro-plus with chalk). Dan was giving me a hand with cooking and we realised that since two men were tending more than one type of sausage and suitably attired (I was wearing an apron and Dan had his Russian hat) and everyone was waiting around expectantly, it was virtually a barbeque and so we armed ourselves with Kronenberg. After consuming bacon, sausages, scrambled egg, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, toast and coffee Dave and I just had time to get our stuff together and head back to The Isle of Pleasure on the Northern Line (taking time to argue a few of the rules to Mornington Crescent) before the roast chicken was served.  This was accompanied by stuffing, bread sauce, potatoes, carrotts, parnips, peas,  gravy and a side salad washed down with twelvty bottles of good red. We finished off with ice cream (chocolate and black cherry) and a mini chocolate muffin. Everyone then seemed to feel that what was needed was a shot of lemon liquor but at that exact point I felt as if this would have been the wafer-thin-mint that exploded the fat man.