Wednesday, 29 October 2008

All Hands On Deck

When things in my life turn upside down, I am quite capable of carrying on as if nothing has happened. While the winds of change gust around me, I sit in the eye of the storm, leisurely sipping on my drink, contemplating whatever curveball life has thrown me with a degree of detached fascination. Life really has to kick up a shit storm to ruffle my feathers.

For example, visa issues ruffle my feathers considerably. I merely hear the words ‘visa’ and ‘problem’ and I turn into a quivering wreck. Likewise, last year’s traumatic job search also had me at the end of my rope. Other than those two specific incidents, I can’t remember the last time I got majorly flustered by something. However! This premise exists only for my conscious self. My subconscious self has other ideas altogether about how to cope with change or stress.

My last day at my company is this Friday. I have been completely cool, calm and collected about being made redundant and being thrust into the world of unemployment in London, a city which the current markets have not just affected, but have decimated. I have gone to see recruitment agencies, applied for jobs online and refused to panic when nothing really promising reared its head straight away. As a result, I have been living in my bubble of calm and enjoying my last days at my company, rather than running around like a headless chicken. Whether as a result of my determination to see this through with aplomb, or because everything happens for a reason, I now find myself hooked up with a temp role at a Media giant starting on Monday next week. Amazingly enough, I have temped for this company before - in exactly the same department, with the same team and in the same position! I am massively relieved that the pressure is off, even though I didn’t feel a huge amount to begin with.

Which brings me back to my subconscious self. Although I thought I was doing fine, the fact is no-one is impervious to change. For me, any reaction manifests itself at night. I either have very broken sleep, or I sleep through but I have awful dreams. I have reacted to stress in this way for as long as I can remember. In the darkest period of my life, I regularly dreamed that my family members and close friends were butchered in a variety of ways that would make Quentin Tarentino flinch. So I was completely unsurprised to be caught in the grip of a nightmare last night. What did surprise me though, was that Shoes reacted to my telling of the dream with complete hysteria. Looking back on the dream now, I can see why, but at the time I was very upset!

I dreamt that I was on my way back from a trance party when I noticed a green discolouration around both my wrists. I thought nothing of it – surely I was just dirty. Later on, I was at my parents’ house with all my friends when someone commented on my green skin. It had spread all the way to my elbows, and when a friend tried to grab me by the wrist to get my attention, a spongy piece of green flesh came off in her hand. Everyone recoiled in horror, and that was when I noticed that my left hand was gone. As in, I just had a spongy green stump – my hand had fallen right off. It seemed to be a type of gangrene. Everyone was freaking out; I was frozen in a state of utter shock. At that point my dad came home and started shouting at me for being careless enough to lose my hand (it was at this point that Shoes started sniggering). I was still struggling to get my head around my spongy stump arms and the loss of my hand, when my dad came back from a trip to the back room freezer brandishing a new hand for me (cue outright cackling from Shoes). Unfortunately, it was another right hand. It was also a gimp – the ring finger was scrawny and short, like it belonged to a baby’s hand (by now Shoes had lost it completely and was in convulsions of mirth). My dad attached the hand to my still decaying stump, and there I was, a freak with 2 right hands and mossy, spongeskin arms. I was horrified.

Then I woke up, and frantically checked that I had both normal arms and hands intact. I suppose though that if imaginary gangrene is all I have to suffer as a result of my current state of affairs, I should be grateful!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

No Love In This Club

Hello my minions!

I apologise for my extended absence; I have been negotiating my way through my very own Fortnightis Horriblis (to borrow liberally from the Queen). No, I exaggerate - it hasn't been that bad; I've just been a little too preoccupied with things to blog.

To bring you up to speed, I have less than 2 weeks left at my company. My last day here is 31 October (Halloween - if I were superstitious I'd be having a field day right now). I don't want to bore you with the details, but this is all a result of the takeover of my company by another radio giant that led to my boss leaving and my position being made redundant (for background info, go here). It's been touch and go for the last couple of weeks as to whether I'd be able to stay, but I finally have a clear perspective on the situation, and I am confident that my decision to leave (it was voluntary redundancy) is the right one. As calm and clear-headed as I am being about all this, it is not without difficulty that I leave behind the fantastic friends I have made this year. I am gutted to be going, and I know next week is going to be a tough one. I don't have anything else lined up just yet, but I went on a recruitment agency blitz last week and am applying for jobs online everyday for as long as I can stomach it. I'll be sure to post about future developments as and when they pop up.

For now, let's talk about something amusing. This is the story of Friday night, The Worst Night of Clubbing Ever.

The Plan: a Friendz boat party followed by an afterparty at resident clubbing giant, Ministry of Sound.
The People: absolutely everyone in my crowd of friends who does the clubbing thing.
The Problem: read on....

It all started with Scarf and myself agreeing to help out Neutrino, who was organising the boat party, with promotions. We thought we were going to be handing out free champagne and chatting to people, which is what we were briefed. When we got on board the boat, however, we discovered that ResidentDJ, Neutrino's co-party-organiser, had forgotten to clear the free champers with the bar staff, who adamantly refused to allow it (something about taking money away from the bar). So Scarf and I ended up manning the cloak room. Fun times. Because we had to give people's jackets and bags back at the end of the party as well as take down the decor, we had to stay relatively sober.

At about 9:45pm, the boat docks to let one of the djs off, as he's playing the opening set at Ministry. As it docks, the power goes out. So there we are in pitch darkness with no music, and people start thinking, hey screw this shit, we're getting off the boat. So of course they want their jackets and bags. Scarf and I are suddenly mobbed by people trying to do a runner, and we end up crawling around on our hands and knees, in micro minis and boots, looking for people's stuff by the light from our mobiles. After 15 mins, the power comes back on and the boat leaves for the last hour and a half of the party. By now, we all just want to get off and get to Ministry, which is when the real party is going to start. Then at 11, I suddenly realise we'd told Mandz to meet us at Embankment station at 10:45pm, as we'd previously thought the boat party finished at 10:30, not 11:30. Cue major panic as we try and fail several times to get hold of Mandz, who eventually cusses us out for making her arrive an hour early when we reach her.

Eventually, after what seems like years, the damn boat docks. We FINALLY get to Embankment and then we wait another 15 minutes for Mandz and co to get to the station. In the meantime, the clock strikes 12 to bring about the Queen of Melodrama's 29th birthday. He spends his first minutes of birthday heaven on the platform in the station with no booze in sight.

We're all tired and a little cranky by the time we get on our way. We get to Ministry about 12:30pm. Back track a bit with me: when we first boarded the boat, we had to show text message tickets to prove we had paid. We also paid for our Ministry tickets through Friendz, but the two parties had different promoters and different rules, so when we boarded we were given paper tickets for Ministry. Shoes picked up my Ministry ticket for me as I was already on board - Eyes did not do the same for Scarf. So we get to the end of the boat party, ResidentDJ has left, and Scarf doesn't have a Ministry ticket. Major drama. Neutrino phones ResidentDJ, who says Scarf must go in on the guest list as Shelby something. He doesn't tell us that the guest list closes at 12.

So there we are outside Ministry, and those of us with tickets go inside. Meanwhile, Eyes and Scarf are outside, trying to explain the fuck up with the tickets, after having found the guest list is closed. Ministry doesn't want to hear their story. An hour and a half later, they finally make it inside after having to buy a brand new ticket for Scarf, who has now paid double for her night's entertainment. At the same time, Mandz is outside with Paddy and their friends Wes and Eve. Mandz has an actual ticket; Paddy, Wes and Eve only have receipts to confirm they have paid (don't know what happened there). Ministry refuses to accept the receipts. The three of them end up paying full price - again - to get in the door. They get in an hour later, and Wes has an anxiety attack and promptly leaves. Eve of course goes with him, and Paddy decides he can't abandon them, so escorts them home. They paid £30 each to be in a club for 10 minutes.

After that, things went fairly smoothly for the next three hours, but to say no-one was really into the whole experience was an understatement. I think the only 2 people who had any degree of fun were Mandz and I, who got on the dance floor and had to be forcibly dragged off at the end when the others wanted to leave.

Note to self: we are too old for back to back to parties. Stick to one - the fruits shall be sweeter.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Bangers and Cash

At lunch today, I joined some of my friends on the Network team, along with many more spectators, down at the pub for the Great Sausage-Off.

What is the Great Sausage-Off? It's when two people - the big-mouth ("No-one can eat more sausages than me!") and the challenger ("Wanna bet?") - spend a lunch hour consuming as many hot dogs as they can until one either bails out or is sick.

The rules are simple:

*Every last bite of sausage and roll must be consumed to count. There are two sausages on each roll, with optional onions and sauce (courtesy of the dodgy pub round the corner).
*For every three sausage rolls consumed, the competitor must drink one pint.
*Failure to comply with either of these rules results in disqualification, and the one left chewing wins by default.
*Puking, long periods of resting (3 minutes or more) and passing bits of your sausage roll slyly to your supporters for consumption results in instant disqualification.

In the red corner, we had Gos - the grumpy 39 year old Australian lead singer of Wood / The Taliban. Greatest asset - big mouth. Greatest weakness - age. In the blue corner, we had HotGuy, teammate of Gos and newbie to the group (he only started 4 months ago). Greatest asset - youth (he is only 23). Greatest weakness - none identified.

Bets were placed. £2 each eventually netted you a return of £3,38, which was calculated in proportion to how many more sausage rolls were consumed by the winner.

On your marks, get set, go.....

The first 3 went down without any drama. Gos and HotGuy were taking their time, neither trying to outrace the other. Just a leisurely meal of sausage rolls between friends. The fourth one was decidedly less pleasant. Halfway through, Gos let out a huge burp which resulted in a little mushed up roll dribbling onto his chin. Cue much jeering and catcalling. 45 minutes later, the consumption of number 5 resembled a vegan tackling a pork chop. Gos was visibly flagging, and turning a little green around gills. HotGuy was slowing down considerably, but his eyes flashed dogged determination.

Halfway through number 5, Gos attempted to quit. The loud boos drove him to another bite, which was only kept down through sheer force of will, and the potential embarrassment of chundering at his colleagues' feet. HotGuy continued his steady chomping, and did away with the last of his roll.

As he was ceremoniously handed number 6, Gos said, "If he takes another bite, I'm out."

Cue dramatic Chariots of Fire music as HotGuy raised the sixth sausage roll to his mouth, look Gos square in the eyes, and took a bite. Gos surrendered, and HotGuy finised the entire number 6 to loud cheers.

I won £3.38; HotGuy won the conveted title and Gos won weeks of ribbing and e-mailed jokes about sausages.

I will really miss these guys when I leave!*

*Another post for another day.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Downtown Girls

I just had the most girly weekend ever.

Shoes was in Chippenham visiting G-Days (who has to live out in the sticks due to engineering jobs being scarce in London - tough times for him!), so I decided to make the most of my singledom and live it up with the chicks.

It all kicked off on Friday night with Chicks Night out. We went to Henry J Beans in Wimbledon, a pub known for its overpriced cocktails and cheesy music, but revered for it's two for one happy hour specials and permission for all kinds of drunken behaviour that would get you kicked out in Central London hotspots. It's also very close to home for everyone, so we can stagger home unassisted by our usual escourts (the equally drunk but belligerent men).

It began with the standard procedure of any chicks night: a large bottle of champagne, cocktail swapping and much high pitched squealing. When I look at this objectively, I can't help but wonder what reduces our voices to the decibels of 10 year old boys on nights like this, but in the moment it is just contagious. One chick squeals with delight as a friend arrives, and before you know it, all are squealing like stuck pigs in various states of excitement or hilarity. I don't know....but it's fun! The night was carnage. Scarf and Penguin has to be packed into a cab at 11pm as they were just to wasted to be seen in public. Neither of them remember getting home or what they did when they got there. I stayed with the others til then end, and got home about 2:30am. I was very drunk, make no mistake, but held it together well enough to a) remember everything and b) not cause any major scenes (just a few minor ones, which can't be helped - it's Chicks Night after all!).

To my abject horror, I awoke from the dead at the hour of 8:15am, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't fall back asleep. This is normal for me, as is waking up early after a night of heavy drinking. Unfortunately for me on this occaasion, I had promised Mandz I'd spend the entire day shopping with her. I must say, with more than just a hint of pride, that I am a trooper. Dogs may be man's best friend; I am clearly woman's. I trekked through to Camden with Mandz for a mammoth 8 hour shopping spree, that included just one brief stop at Starbucks to rest our weary feet. Since I had already bought 2 pairs of shoes, a pair of jeans and a top the previous week, I was on a No Spending Spree. £60 later and the dust was settling on my lofty goal. At least I now have TWO pairs of fabulous jeans, and enough tops so that I can wear a different new one every day this week.

Saturday night I crashed on the couch and didn't leave it until I fell awoke from falling asleep in front of Lord of the Rings. It's an excellent movie to dos through - long enough so that your nap feels quite revitalising.

Sunday was spent on the couch again with TheArtyOne and Scarf, watching America's Next Top Model, Lipstick Jungle and PS I Love You. I am so chicked out I think I might need to go on a Guys Night to lower my oestrogen levels!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

I'm Not a Girl, Not Quite a Moron

I am useless today. A complete waste of space. A weak link that lowers the gene pool standards by its mere existence.

I am hungover.

With not just any hangover, but a red wine hangover.

I don't normally drink red wine when I'm out on the piss. I drink white wine, or quadruple vodkas, like anyone who prefers not to wake up to find the Sahara Desert inhabiting their mouth and throat. Because this, among other catastrophic effects, is what happens to me when I drink red wine. I also get headaches that would floor an elephant. I am sick to my stomach for pretty much 12 hours after opening my gorgeously bloodshot eyes, and my brain does this awesome thing where it ceases to engage before I open my mouth. Or write an e-mail. Or climb the stairs. Or just about anything. I trip and stumble. I babble gibberish that I try to pass off as colloquial Souf Efrican. I attempt to string words together in a sentence and find all the indefinite articles are missing. And this is all AFTER the pissed effect has worn off.

The effects of red wine during the actual being pissed phase are even more alarming. I feel more high than pissed, for one thing. I get giddy and erratic. I flit all over the place like a hummingbird on speed. I talk at people, and I laugh manically. And I'm funny. Oh my sainted aunt, I am so funny. I could headline a comedy world tour after a few glasses. Chris Rock would be opening for me. (Appendix: I have never asked my friends the next day if I am really funny or just tragically pathetic. I fear they laugh either at me, or to disguise the real pain my funny self is causing them.)

Last night when I hit the Cellar Door with TheArtyOne, her brother PJ and a group assorted friends, I was already a few drinks down and red wine was just my stairway to heaven. The Cellar Door is a tiny converted public toilet (yes, you read that right!) that is now a jazz/live music bar in Covent Garden. You can squeeze about 60 people in there at a push. Trashed Tuesdays is open mic night, with musical theatre junkies, queens and old timers reliving their glory days on stage in front of the miniscule - but very appreciative - audience. Hosted by Champagne Charlie, an absolutely gorgeous gayface with an alluring voice and a penchant for quaffing champagne, the night is smooth, silky and increasingly madcap as CC's champagne quaffing picks up speed and the singers' inhibitions are lowered by the fine selection of wine and cocktails. It's a gem - if you're ever in London, make a point of stopping by.

But back to the red wine. I was cruising at 100 miles an hour, totally rocking the joint. Flirting with the gay singers. Telling complex and involved stories (which were so funny, obviously). Laughing like a hyena (some might say drain, but I feel that is just unkind). Proclaiming my deep-seated desire for superstardom - if there is a stage in the vicinity when I am mainlining red wine, heaven help the population of the bar. I was just drunk enough to announce my intent to do my Britney Spears impression, when the mic was switched off and the PA system turned on. I scolded Champagne Charlie, who gamely told me I could go first next time. I woke up this morning so grateful for his refusal that I could kiss him. Or not - I could get one of my hot male friends to do it for me.

I also woke up with the ghost of Britney shadowing my drunken stupor. Hit me baby, one more time, I thought, as the red wine sledgehammered me over the head.

Score: Lopz - 0, Red Wine - 1 big fat self-satisfied grin.