Friday, 20 February 2009

That Friday Feeling

It’s a Friday afternoon. It’s just after 2pm my lunch time is over and I have 4 hours before I can go home. Someone in our office is leaving today and in his leaving speech helpfully pointed out that he believes that nostalgia isn’t what it used to be and that the merger a year ago really changed things and that the good old days are over. Well so does everyone else but as he must have found about the only job going in the city good luck to him and commiserations to us.
I wonder if Friday afternoon for every office worker in the world is full of that utter inertia when your mind is already having the weekend but you body is still stuck to your PC and your fingers still look like they have to be tapping.
I have listened in my lunch hour to Andy Hamilton’s comedy on radio 4 Old Harry’s Game which is always entertaining although I am not too happy about the demise of Gary the Demon or that God has got bored of creation and turned it over to some newly promoted Project Managers. I liked Gary he was a very kind well-spoken demon – even if he was somewhat dim, and God’s voice, with the secret name of Nigel, was only rivalled by Joss Akland’s God in Piccolo Mundo.
I am even checking my Yahoo SPAM mailbox religiously and have just discovered how to get a bigger penis, a fake university degree and government funding although I have missed the e-mails offering me the chance to make lots of money even if I am really dumb. They seemed to have stopped since the bank crisis – if something looks too good to be true. . .
I have the eternal optimism, that only the truly deluded can have, that I am one yahoo e-mail away from an afternoon of entertainment or one work e-mail away from having something to do.
I fear this is also the problem with being in my mid-thirties and being childless. I am sure if I had children the utter boredom and drudgery that comprises the daily lot of motherhood (and before all you Mothers get antsy – I know this is true my Mother told me this and she really loves me and would never lie) would make any kind of outing with adults, even if it is to work, seem stimulating by comparison. For the childless work becomes the drudgery you do to be able to get out and do things that stimulate and excite you, for Mothers of young children work is the excitement that keeps you sane.
So, my solution to my Friday inertia? Find a random sperm donor, have a child and this will seem exciting – hmmm. But ohh look, its now 2.30 and I just got a work e-mail! If I’m slow it’ll keep me going until 6!

Thursday, 19 February 2009


Slam among other things can be South London and Maudsley NHS trust, an organisation which hosts massive techno club nights around Europe, half a basketball technique or a book slam. The last one is a monthly London event in a club just near the top end of Portobello road, beside a busy flyover and near an equally busy mosque. It was set up by writer Patrick Neate and the guy from Everything But The Girl who has now left it all to Patrick, as an alternative to readings in libraries and bookshops.
The venue is certainly different from a Waterstones or an independent bookshop. It suffers a bit from a lack of vodka or ecstasy googles as it is a night club open very early with not very loud music and not a lot of drunks. Everything was painted black some time ago so it is mostly scrapped, the toilets are, quite frankly, scary and everyone is sober enough to notice. But it does remove reading out loud from the gentility of the bookshop, it does give it more of an edge and does give a literate high brow audience a chance to be gritty and urban without actually getting gravel on their shoes.
The audience seemed to consist of types who work in publishing, types who wished they worked in publishing and types who were looking to be published. I was quite disappointed by the lack of white men with dreadlocks. The best that could be had was Jamie Bing, the head of Canongate Press’ slightly long hair pushed behind his ear.
Maybe white ‘dreads’ like gravel.
On the night I attended there were four young men listed all to stand up and read from their new novels, two of them having just published their first. Patrick was the compere playing it with that self-deprecation and apologetic air so beloved of posh Englishmen. Think Boris on old episodes of Have I Got New for You with less stammering and wearing a hooded top.
The compere repeatedly informed us that the ‘gimic’ of the evening was how the four writers Ross Raisin, Chris Kullen, Joe Dunthorne and Richard Milward had been selected to read because they all were all exceptionally good looking. Personally I thought that they were all chosen because they were exceptionally thin. Apart from the married Ross Raisin they all looked as if you could fold them up concertina like and put them inside a small suitcase as if they were pieces of cardboard.
The now fashionable 80s drainpipe jeans with trainers does nothing for an exceptionally skinny man except make him look like an actual drain pipe or a cardboard cut out of himself. An awkward young writer nervous about reading to an audience of over 300 people ends up looking like a cardboard drainpipe in a Lowry painting. The actual readings were entertaining if somewhat predicable (awkward young men, unfathomable women, self-hatred and doom) and I am sure that all of their books are worth a read. And if enough people buy their books they all will be able to eat some decent food.