Friday 30 May 2008

Another loathsome failure of self-control

13st 9lb; zero alcohol yesterday; 1,345; St James’s (not the football ground).

After a night filled with truly bizarre dreams, I got up implausibly early and decided to repack my suitcase, shortly after realizing that I could not actually lift it. So I removed several changes of clothing which I had originally packed in case I got drenched twice a day, every day (always a high risk in the English summer). This operation made the case lighter but still highly unmanouverable, so that I inflicted two livid scars on my new paintwork as I dragged it downstairs. This did not put me in the best of moods for the day.

I then drove my convertible to Alnmouth station, hoping that someone might steal or at the very least seriously vandalize it while I was away, so that I could submit a baroque insurance claim that would also cover removal of all the scratches and bumps acquired through my own carelessness and the unseen malice of others. Or the seen malice, in the case of the 20-stone, shaven-headed, tattooed hulk who was leaning heavily on the door of his own car, which he had smashed into mine, when I returned to it in Morrisons car park in Alnwick last year. He took his fag out of his mouth long enough to grunt at me when I indicated that I would quite like to get into my vehicle, then slowly moved out of the way. For some reason I refrained from saying, “By the way, you’ve just made a huge dent in my car door. Could I possibly have your insurance details?” But, to look on the bright side, at least my head is still attached to my body at the time of writing.

In defiance of expectations and precedent, the 07.03 both departed Alnmouth and reached its King’s Cross destination on schedule. This allowed me ample time to check into my club, where I found the front hall festooned with new blue ropes of the sort that the aristocracy deploy when they are opening their houses to the public, to keep hoi polloi off the Wilton and reduce the chances of their stealing the spoons. They had also instituted an elaborate new system for checking in luggage, which previously one just dumped unacknowledged. I sense that there has been an embarrassing incident of some sort, perhaps on the scale of the one that occurred some years ago when two men in brown coats turned up with a ladder and unscrewed the valuable hall clock “for maintenance”, unaccountably failing to mention that they were actually antiques thieves. But all attempts to extract a juicy story for this blog were fended off with Jeeves-like enigmatic smiles and the explanation, “It’s just for safety, sir.”

I lunched at my favourite restaurant with the greatest, indeed perhaps the only, fan of this blog. I had at least been consoling myself with the thought that the three or four visits made each day from his firm meant that he had successfully recommended this site to all his colleagues. Imagine my horror when I discovered that he is so underemployed that he has been constantly revisiting it himself, in case I have updated it. (A pretty unlikely eventuality, as you will know.) He claims to be “worried” about me. I couldn’t help thinking that any worries should be flowing in precisely the opposite direction. Particularly when he leaned forward, confidentially, after a certain amount of drink had been taken, and asked me to level with him: did the LTCB exist or was she a figment of my imagination? His reason for suspecting the latter was that her name is an anagram of that of my last secretary, when I worked in London. (Her real name, that is, not the LTCB acronym.) I pointed out that this would require Machiavellian thinking at a level which I stand no chance of ever attaining, and showed him my mobile inbox, filled with messages from her. He did not actually accuse me of sending them all to myself, but I could see in his eyes how much he wanted to do so.

A strong gin Martini and a bottle of wine each pushed the bill above the psychologically important £200 mark, and put me in such a condition that I demolished a vase of flowers as I extricated myself from the table, though at least I just managed not to upset the wine cooler attached to the table next door. I could not help thinking that it was a shame not to have stuck it onto his expense account while he still had one. The prudent thing now would have been to go for a lie-down, so naturally I allowed myself to be lured to the Lamb & Flag for a couple of pints of Harvey’s fine Lewes bitter. I came close to collapsing into a heap in the gutter as I finally made my way back to my club, after stopping to lean against a pillar box while I made a series of attempts to tie up a shoelace. No doubt this performance will have been captured on multiple CCTV cameras, and I look forward to its appearance on one of those compilation TV shows, to provide light relief between the couples shagging over their desks or in the car park.

Eventually, I had a restful late afternoon. On my own. And in anticipation of a further comment from the person who took my previous use of those words as a coy reference to sexual activity: it ain’t necessarily so. This blended seamlessly into a restful evening, followed by a predictably sleep-free night, which I was able to devote to entirely justified self-loathing.

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