Friday, 9 February 2007


As regular readers (all five of you) will know, I had a rather humiliating work-related experience late last year. This week, it was someone else’s turn to blush puce, but yet again yours truly was to blame.

Barely fifteen minutes after yesterday’s post went online, I picked up a voicemail from the young man mentioned in the second paragraph asking that I call him as a matter of some urgency. Now naturally I was delighted that he should have made contact, and doubly so that he should want me to do so straight away – he’s keen! thought I. Then alarm bells rang. In his message he had quoted verbatim my description of him…but I hadn’t told him about the blog’s existence, so how on Earth had he come to read it? I immediately returned his call and listened in horror as he explained that in their PR office they have some sort of tracker, sweeping cyberspace 24/7 for any reference to [insert name of designer here!] which had landed upon thirtysingleandfabulous and my albeit flattering reference to the young man in question. This in turn had been read by his boss (not the boss, the famous one, although that would surely have added comedy value) who had in turn alerted him to his new-found online notoriety.

Profuse apologies offered and accepted, and having established that whilst painfully embarrassed, the beautiful boy had suffered no lasting professional harm, we parted as friends and I hope to see him in the not-too-distant future, platonically or otherwise. Afterwards though I got to thinking – selfishly I admit – how bloody exciting I found the idea that just by including a couple of words in the body of a post I could expand my reach to such glamorous new pastures! Call me naïve (hell, I’ve been called everything else) but I had no idea that such technology existed; whilst I know dear readers that you may marvel slack-jawed at the aesthetic beauty and literary superiority of the present blog, my technological know-how is right down there with my understanding of vehicle maintenance and female genitalia in the paucity stakes. All the pretty dots and shapes and colours and photos you see here require no more than a little cutting, pasting, dragging and dropping; one final click-to-publish and my work is done and ready for my literally ones of readers to enjoy. So you can imagine how surprised I was to learn that in addition to its regular readership, thirtysingleandfabulous could also be being viewed by businesses the world over, ever-alert to the possibility that they might be getting a mention in amongst all the tosh about drinking, eating and shagging.

So Dior Homme, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Chanel! Mont Blanc, Smythson, Mulberry, Alexander McQueen! Come one, come all, and join in the fun; just don’t let your staff sleep with me, or there could be some sniggering at the water cooler to deal with…

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Thirty ONE, Single and Fabulous...?

There are some invitations which only death or alien abduction should prevent one from accepting; a Buckingham Palace garden party; front row at Chanel couture; dinner at Le Pont de la Tour with Best Straight Lady Friend. The last of these having metaphorically dropped on my virtual mat this week, and being neither dead (although not yet fully over the laryngitis) or away being anally probed by E.T. somewhere, I joyfully accepted. Whilst the biggest draw of course was the prospect of a few hours in BSLF’s always sparkling company, I also wanted to see for myself whether – having never been much of a fan of Conran restaurants – Le Pont de la Tour lived up to its reputation as being the jewel in the crown of Sir Terence’s gastro-empire. So it was that on Tuesday evening, wrapped-up and medicated, I trotted off to Butler’s Wharf and settled down to the important business of catching up and chowing down.

[This would not to be the first time I had chowed down on a Conran offering this week, as on Sunday, lured to The Brewers by ActiveWill and knowing I had Monday off to recover, I took home a 25 year old, 6’4”, skinny and extremely pretty employee of Sir Terence’s son Jasper and enjoyed a full ‘three courses plus coffee’. Numbers were exchanged, so watch this space.]

First impressions were good; we were taking advantage of a very attractive toptable offer of three courses and a glass of fizz for £30, and as we sat down this latter component appeared swiftly enough for us to enjoy it as we perused the menu. Despite Le Pont’s cuisine being ostensibly modern French, there was a strong Central European edge to the dishes on offer and three very appealing choices for each course. Holding no truck with the burgeoning anti-foie gras movement I opted for it in both my starter and main – the former a foie gras terrine with spiced chutney (I declined the brioche, being off the carbs), the latter roast duck breast with sour cherries and red cabbage served with a slice of the ambrosial organ as a finishing touch. BSLF, allowing herself an evening off from calorie counting (the results to date are impressive) opted for cream of cauliflower soup followed by guinea fowl served with stuffed cabbage and truffled potatoes.

Although the conversation flowed as easily as it always does, and I could report to you at length on recent developments in both my and BSLF’s lives, the most entertaining element of our evening was the human theatre going on around us. The mittel-Europe flavour of the menu was replicated in the staff, which whilst as a general rule aesthetically most pleasing, had a somewhat shaky grasp on the English language. One member however was clearly as French as French can be, namely the over-bearing sommelier who was snooty to the point of caricature. Used no doubt to intimidating the oenologically-unaware Eurotrash or pandering to the expense account suits who appeared to make up the bulk of the clientele, he seemed much taken aback when BSLF and I had the temerity to order, if you please, two glasses of the very same wine we had just been enjoying in the bar before we sat down, thanks very much, and no you may not suggest this or that more expensive alternative.

The table next to us had us transfixed, as a young-ish and clearly moneyed Lebanese-looking guy wined and dined a leggy, honey-blond Slavik girl wearing a permanent look of surprise. If this wasn’t their first date it was certainly early in their relationship (business or personal we couldn’t quite tell…) and the guy ordered expansively and expensively as his companion sat demurely making (surprised) eyes at him across the table. That the tower of fruits de mer which arrived on their table was so tall as to render eye-contact impossible had to be a bad omen, and sure enough BSLF had to kick me under the table to stop me from crying with laughter as a huge dressed crab plunged from atop the platter into the girl’s lap.

Undoubtedly the funniest moment of the evening however came with our desserts, both of us having ordered the (huge, it transpired) crème brulee. Le Pont de la Tour is famed for its spectacular views of, well duh, le pont de la tour, and in the hope of our being allocated a window table, BSLF had fibbed at the time of booking that it was my birthday. Shown to a by all accounts perfectly nice table at the side of the room, we assumed that the ruse had fallen on deaf ears; this was proved not to be the case when our waitress duly served me with my pud, complete with candle, on a plate beautifully iced in melted chocolate with ‘Happy Birthday’, and proceeded to enlist the help of passing colleagues to sing Happy Birthday to fraudulent old me whilst BSLF chuckled into her Chardonnay. Although nearly the end of the meal in any case, I felt so guilty accepting the congratulations that came from neighbouring tables (and the flattery of the big spender who told me that I could pass for 25!) that I hastened our departure to the bar for digestifs.

Over cocktails BSLF and I reflected, in true bar room style, on how fortunate we both are in the great scheme of things. Both young, successful, reasonably solvent and generally emotionally stable, our dinners give us a chance to step out of the daily whirl of work and play and devote time to helping each other stay that way. It’s something I’d like to be able to do with more of my friends, more of the time. Hell, if they all offer to treat me to slap up ‘birthday’ dinners at Le Pont, I even just might do that.

Friday, 2 February 2007

Enjoy The Silence

I’ve lost many things in my time; my mother in a supermarket aged 3; my cherry (to both a boy and a lady); part of my septum; watches, wallets and so many mobile phones in one year that the last time I called to report it the lady at T-Mobile gasped, “Och, not again?” Every loss has pissed me off to a greater or lesser degree but this week I’ve lost something which has upset me so much I just want to scream. Except that I can’t scream because the precious thing I’ve lost this time is my voice. I’m not just a little bit hoarse either – a trip to the doctor’s first thing Wednesday morning, having woken up mute and in excruciating pain, saw me diagnosed with viral laryngitis.

Now, the irony of my having been struck dumb, when normally nothing and no-one can shut me up, has been lost on exactly nobody. While I know any ribbing is good natured, I know too that even my nearest and dearest are probably having a little chuckle that this most talkative and ebullient of men should - for once! – be rendered speechless. I have to rest my voice as much as possible for a week and then, fingers crossed, I should be back to my usual gobby self; for now I can at least talk to you, so let me fill you in on what’s been going on these last couple of weeks.

The most exciting thing I guess is that the silver lining to the cloud of having this bloody virus is the enforced cessation of smoking. I’d be lying if I claimed to have previously given giving up any more than the most tentative of passing thoughts, despite of course being fully aware of everything a pack a day was doing to my body. Unlike the drinking, which was having very tangible – and public – ill-effects, and my promiscuity, which I briefly hated but learned to accept as part of my make-up, smoking was the one vice I never really wanted to give up. It might sound crazy but because the damage smoking does is internal and unpredictable (sure you can get cancer, but you might not, whereas if you drink you will get pissed!) I’d carried on for 15 years with reckless abandon, stopping only twice – once for 48 hours pre- and post-surgery, and then for one stretch of about four weeks when The Ex and I decided to quit together but were lured back on to the weed by his mother, of all people. This time though it’s different as I finally have the impetus and incentive anyone needs to quit. The equation’s a simple one – quit and get voice back, keep smoking and enjoy chronic laryngitis for life. Talk about a no-brainer. Like the drinking, I know kicking the smokes is going to be a challenge so watch this space for progress reports.

Prior to falling ill I’d had a pretty fantastic run of engagements all of which served to show me how blessed I am when it comes to friendships. Thursday I went for drinks and dinner with The Ex and over pizza and Pinot we shared stories of exploits and sexploits that even a couple of months ago we probably wouldn’t have felt able to discuss. There’s certainly been a turning point in our relationship recently and I feel we’ve gone now from being Exes Who Stayed Friends to being, well, friends. The next evening I had a pure Sex and The City moment as Glenda, OLoC, ActiveWill and I descended on Suzie Wong, Soho’s latest swanky eaterie for cocktails and ‘Oriental tapas’. The place is gloriously fitted out in lacquer, paper screens and all manner of Chinoiserie, and staffed by an almost comedic cast of lady-like boys and, well, lady-boys. The food was fantastic, service was friendly if a little slapdash, the cocktails were strong and spirits were sky-high; if only someone had filmed it we could have sold it as a pilot to HBO.

From there OLoC and I travelled on to Brixton for PWdeK and the Duchess of Derbyshire’s joint birthday do at The Manse. I always love these occasions as the whole extended gang comes out to play, and this was no exception with The Other Ex, Best Straight Lady Friend and Big Rob among the revellers I’d not seen for a while. This was a permission-to-drink night so I got stuck into the vodka but managed to hold back from getting absolutely plastered. I may as well have not bothered though, for as the evening wore on, so the party favours came out, and two consonants and a vowel later I was staggering saucer-eyed for the nightbus, fascinated by the lights and the texture of the pavement (which I became better acquainted with at one point and have a cracking bruise on my left hand to show for it.)

Saturday morning came and in spite of the previous night’s excesses I woke up feeling moderately human (still a little wired if truth be told) and awaited the arrival of The South African who was accompanying me to lunch at my Second Favourite Lesbian’s pad up the road. The Saffa, while only my second favourite South African (Charlize Theron tops the chart), is rapidly qualifying as a New Best Friend what with his immense charm, gossipiness and bitchy-as-mine sense of humour. Being drop-dead gorgeous also helps – I do like my friends to be easy on the eye as well you know. He and 2FL, as well as Mrs 2FL and their other gorgeous gay guest, hit it off a treat and as the wine went down and the volume went up it became quickly apparent that we were in for a long afternoon. Sure enough with dessert digested we adjourned to the de facto gay boozer round the corner where, joined by The Saffa’s delightful Straight Lady Friend, we spent an enjoyable if fairly profane few hours until first The Lesbians and then I admitted defeat and headed home to collapse. The Brewers had been mooted but my stamina isn’t what it used to be and when I woke from my ‘disco nap’ at nearly midnight I realised that my Saturday was over.

On Sunday I enjoyed a new and thoroughly enriching experience – the inaugural Hollogays Learning Day. Adapting an idea given to me by the ever-creative Andrea Bianco, the boys and I had agreed a few weeks ago to assemble for lunch at Glenda’s on this day and each present to the others on a topic, in this case, oceans. ActiveWill kicked off with a very slick and well-researched PowerPoint presentation – as perhaps we should have expected from a man with as specialised a geology masters as he – on the Southern Ocean, complete with illustrations and fascinating facts (we were all agog at the giant kelp!) I followed with my bit on the Pacific; being by far the biggest ocean there’s so much to say about it that I chose to focus on its extremes – the widest this, the deepest that etcetera (I could have been talking about ActiveWill, come to think of it…) and we could all now tell you to the metre the depth of the Mariana Trench. Up next was OLoC who delivered a fantastic freestyle micro-lecture on the Arctic Ocean, about which he’d clearly developed such enthusiasm that it came across in his facial expressions and gestures as he regaled us with the movement of its currents. Glenda took the Indian Ocean from an interesting angle, glossing over the statistics to instead speak extensively and passionately about the socio-politics of the area. Did you know how scandalously Britain had treated the people of Diego Garcia? No neither did I until Sunday but believe me if you did, you’d be angry.

Finally it was Margo’s turn to teach us about the Atlantic and I guess we should have known that he’d do something a little bit off-the-wall. Just how off-the-wall took us all by surprise, despite having known him many years – because for the next half an hour we engaged in an experiential drama workshop, learning about Margo’s ocean through, variously, meditation, improvisation, group machine work, mime and performance. It was bonkers, but amazing, and if we laughed it was only through nervousness at exposing ourselves to each other in a totally new way. We all agreed that the day had been a roaring success and have already set the date and topic for the next Learning Day when I will be hosting the boys, plus Jerry, for The Six Wives of Henry VIII. We rounded off the day with a visit to the Kazbar where, joined by Jerry and his gorgeous mother, and bumping by chance into The Ex along with his New Man, Legally Binding and Mini-Lee, we toasted a thoroughly enjoyable and highly educational new experience.

This week was going to be a veritable social whirlwind, with dates in the diary to see Andrea Bianco for coffee and catch up and dinners with The Other Ex and BSLF, but these have of course had to be cancelled due to my tragic loss. Which takes us rather neatly back to the beginning and my state of silence; as I type this I am sitting, in monastic seclusion, at home where I fully expect to spend the next few days sipping hot drinks, gorging on comfort food (my stop smoking counsellor helpfully warned me that ‘You will put on weight’, at which I softly wept) and watching hour-after-hour of Golden Girls reruns. Which actually sounds rather good fun, so enjoy the silence y’all because that’s what I’m planning on doing!

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