What a strange couple of days. How did I end up four days before my twenty-ninth birthday sitting in my bedroom, while in the kitchen I’m making chicken stock? Thirty-six hours in a nutshell…
12 midday: Receive, through the post, ¬£40 worth of Sainsbury’s vouchers from my mother and grandmother.
12:30pm I receive a phone call from Sam asking if I’m having people around in the evening for a meal and drinks. I had completely forgotten that I had even suggested such a gathering. But I say yes, because I figure I organise it swiftly and that it might be entertaining. The party was designed to be for my gay friends – I thought it a welcome change. Rather than sitting in bars sweeping hair/face/chest/arse/shoes of passing men while talking across overloud Kylie and awaiting boredom, success or frustration, I had decided very much the same effect could be had at home only with my own choice of music and possibly some food. An excellent plan indeed.
5pm I’ve arranged to meet Davo at Sainsbury’s at five to start the shopping experience. I am predicted a five-to-eight person evening and we decide to shop appropriately. Except that I haven’t eaten all day, and become suddenly overwhelmed and excited. But six-thirty, we have ¬£83 of food and drink. Davo has contributed ¬£30 towards the cause, the guilt for which will slowly overwhelm me over the next 28 hours. We leave the supermarket and decide to get a cab home. I have become obsessed by scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam, which I sneaked into the shopping. I decide that alongside a cup of tea, Davo and I can enjoy this experience before we get down to organising the rest of the food.
7pm Davo and I have finished four scones between us and find ourselves inexplicably full. The thought of food over the rest of the evening becomes almost unbearable. Which is a shame, since there is still ¬£81 of it left. I pull a hot chicken carcass from a paper bag and place it decoratively on a plate. We watch the final of Stars in their Eyes with a certain amount of derision. I don’t think we ever found out who won it.
8pm My friends who are supposed to arrive at eight start ringing and continue to ring for the next two hours while they get distracted, get later, more disorganised and lost. Nick H arrives first with a friend in tow. Introduced to James, he seems initially slightly nervous and bored, then after it is determined that he grew up in a part of Norfolk that I know very well, conversation becomes easier. And then it becomes radically more embarrassing, as our lives are revealed to have very nearly intersected on a number of occasions. I decide Pimms and smoking heavily is the future of polite conversation. James moves twice all evening. At most. He seems to have fun, and is thoroughly approved of by all parties, who gradually start to creep in.
10pm Everyone is now present. Sam has joined us and has been regailing us with stories about dreams with stair features and Madonna and cliffs and beaches. He is also obsessed that there exists a supermarket with a secret floor where they store Flour that you can only reach via a lift. John W has also arrived – kind of like in the bible with those wise people, only with only one of them, less Myrrh and a gallon of vodka. The baby Jesus himself couldn’t have been more delighted. There is general agreement that of all present, only Nick is hungry. When Sam declares that he thought the evening was supposed to be an orgy, James starts slightly and looks a bit awkward. Everyone notices but no one says anything. It was funny.
Midnight Many cigarettes have been smoked, much alcohol has been drunk, and many ludicrous stories have been told. Some amused, some impressed, some fell flat on their faces. Various people are drunk or act strangely or approach mini entertaining hysterias – like whirlpools in cups of tea they pass quickly.
2.30 am Nick and James have finally found a cab, after many hours of battling with incoherent taxi companies. Sam has declared himself replete and decides to head home. John and Davo decide to crash on the floor and sofa. We assemble large piles of cushions and duvets.
4.30am In a drunken moment of genious I had decided to counteract all thoughts of sleep with a couple of episodes from the Buffy and Angel stable. John laughs in the wrong places, but enjoys them anyway, which was good. Davo looks enthralled during the first one, and unconscious during the second. At time I join him in prone, drooling sleep. Not the most brilliant of ideas.
11am I awaken to an e-mail from Chris containing some scanned photos of Bristol (see below). I become distracted by the obsession that I have aged dramatically over the last four years. After Davo and John rouse themselves, we watch some bad television, tidy up a bit and decide to go for a bit of a walk. Davo is basically forced to do this, despite his complete sleep-deprivation, increasing the weight that will eventually fall upon me when I finally experience my ‘guilt-lag’. We walk from Little Venice to Camden Town all the way down the canal path.
4pm At Camden we summon Nick C for a snack at Nandos and after bumping into Evil Nick with female companion, John and I go back to Nick C’s place to find out where Jurassic Park III will be on. Davo decides to leave and goes home, slightly tired and emotional. Guilt-lag finally hits and I become momentarily neurotic.
6pm Jurassic Park III isn’t on. Tomb Raider is. I’ve seen it before. But I see it again. It’s ok. After the film, John departs and Nick drives me home.
9pm Alone in the flat, reclaimed gradually for my own use after a year and a half of sharing, I try and resolve the various things that I have done in the last few hours and come to some conclusions. Firstly, that I feel intruded upon when people appear who are connected with my past, and this makes me behave defensively. Secondly, that I love my friends, both old and new and thoroughly enjoy their company. Thirdly, that pictures of the past and pictures of Max are sometimes difficult to deal with, but are not a particularly big deal. Fourthly, that I have to get a job. And finally, that it is very very important that I use my chicken carcass in an appropriate way. So I decide to make Chicken Stock.
I suspect I will never use it.