Thursday 24 April 2008

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome

13st 9lb; 4.0 units of alcohol yesterday; 1,380; greeting the world with open arms (though tightly clenched buttocks).

I still have no very clear idea who this Drayton Bird bloke is, but he’s clearly got much more of a following than I have. (Yes, thank you; I know that’s not saying much.) Following his recommendation, readership of this blog almost quadrupled yesterday. Albeit, as people traditionally say in a lowered voice, from a very low base. For a few brief moments, I allowed myself to hope that I might be about to achieve my lifetime ambition of becoming a cult.

I thought I’d cracked it a few weeks ago when a white van driver told me that I was one, while I was out walking the dog. But it turned out that I had misheard him. Apparently he hadn’t taken kindly to my perfectly civil explanation that he was under a misapprehension when he addressed me as “mate”, given that I didn’t know him from Adam and certainly wasn’t his sexual partner. Though he went on to suggest some inventive ways in which I could extend my sexual repertoire, most of them involving travel.

Anyway (which I fear is becoming a tic; my equivalent of “whatever”) I’d like to extend a warm welcome to all those joining this expedition to the grave from places as varied as Japan, Jamaica, Malaysia, California and South Africa. And a multi-lingual welcome, too. Though if you don’t read English, I suspect frankly that you’re going to be ever so slightly buggered when it comes to spotting the jokes.

(Can I use that word on Blogger? I don’t want to cause needless offence, as a friend did when he was trying to sell the investment case for one of my erstwhile clients to a clearly gay fund manager, and accidentally used the unfortunate phrase “going like buggery” to describe their recent sales of ready meals. Apart from anything else, I’ve got quite enough on my hands trying to give offence deliberately.)

The good news, if you have come here in search of enlightenment, is that I can now tell you the answer to one of life’s most taxing conundrums. It’s malt. Though only if the issue chiefly troubling you is how to get a good night’s sleep. I had a mug of Horlicks and a glass of Macallan in bed last night, and enjoyed the longest and most refreshing uninterrupted kip I have enjoyed in years.

A few years ago, a client started banging on about my empty love life, clearly unable to believe that I had been celibate for as long as I claimed. I duly provided chapter and verse, and he brooded silently for a bit before saying, “But you do have a w*nk every night, right?” (You’d have died if you heard how he pronounced the asterisk.) I lied and denied that I ever succumbed to the act of self-pollution, at which he just looked at me in blank astonishment, before eventually sputtering, “Then how the hell do you ever get to sleep?”

Now I could answer him in one word: malt. Then I merely had to resort to pointing out that the room full of analysts had actually come to hear about his annual results rather than for a discussion of my sex life, and it might be quite a good idea if he got on with his presentation.

This evening I received a fan e-mail, inspired by Tuesday’s column about St George’s Day, concluding that “as long as we have Englishmen like yourself speaking for England, we can't go wrong.” I don’t think I’d bet the farm on that one if I were you, madam. I reckon that I am to political commentary what Northern Rock was to banking. With this difference: I won’t be retiring quietly with a huge pay-off when it all goes tits-up.

It’s lovely being praised for one’s writing. But why does so much of mine come from people who start their sentences with “I’m not a racist, but …”?

If only I’d been able to keep a straight face through that sort of thing, might I have amounted to something? And, if so, what?

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