Journey through space to the Planet Fabulous, where the Ruler of the Universe will see you shortly.

Monday, October 30, 2006

All Bar None

Is it wrong to be slightly heterophobic?

I mean, I haven't been in a straight pub since Victoria Beckham had the surgery to make her look like a mouth-breathing guppy. We Gentlemen Who Are Going To Buy The Greatest Hits of Girls Aloud Wot Is Out Today Oh Yes We Are, it's so easy to get entrenched in your own little world of tinsel and gays that there be no need to wander into the smoky, mahogany pub world of the heterosexual unless you're really desperate for a wee after downing a bottle of Lambrini for a bet - as I'm sure we all have. It's a silly little fear, like I was wary that I was going to get into a fight for looking at someone's pint or spilling their girlfriend or something. Which in retrospect is as silly as every straight man coming into one of our wendy bars and expecting to be bummed within an inch of their life as soon as they bend over the bar to get a Baccardi Breezer.

Hang on, they drink pints, don't they?

Well, expecting to be bummed within an inch of their life as soon as they bend over the bar to get a pint of Baccardi Breezer, in that case. We must get our facts straight, ho-ho.

Anyway, my mate AJ and I had gone for a walk and were looking for a hostelry as, frankly, the nights were drawing in and my nipples were so affected by the chill that you could tie some ribbons to the top and pretend it was a maypole. So we made a choice to duck into the first pub we could find.

Which happened to be a bar that seemed to be someone's front room, with a jukebox in the corner. And this is where The Straight Fear comes in.

You know there's a weird feeling about stepping into a strange bar and you think that you're suddenly under terrible scrutiny? A card-carrying homothexual gets that each time, with a weird checklist of 'Oh lord, how gay did I do my hair before I came out? Is this shirt too low-cut? Do I look like someone who should be presenting a fashion show or someone who should be kicked in an alley just past a tube station?' All while trying to walk towards a bar in a manner that is both graceful and manly. Oh you try it - you look like you're being operated underneath by a magnet.

I know it sounds like we really should just be ourselves, and I do so agree. But still, there's something so primeval masculine about these pubs that just makes you question your behavior over and over again. Gone is 'How FABULOUS do I look!' when you leave the house, to 'How gay do I look?' when you go through the doors.

I was fine after the first vodka. Not the first this weekend, thank heaven: I'd had a glorious weekend with The Boy down in Brighton. Where I was still on a high from the a day in the week when he accidentally called me his boyfriend in the BBC canteen. Oh the romance, all over a tepid serving of penne pasta! I told him he couldn't call me that as he's still got one already and that was being greedy. But I still had a warm feeling inside me like I was Jodie Foster on that pinball machine.

So I took him down to Brighton for a (sly) celebration. And what a celebration it was; currently, down in some hotel near the sea-front, there is some poor functionary is looking at some sheets going 'HOW many times?!' Either that or wondering why two gaylords brought a pot of school glue away with them for a holiday.

anyway! The pub. Clearly we were getting at ease with the whole place because we went and played darts! Deadly fucking things they are; less so when I discovered that to do it properly, you don't throw underarm, but that's genetics for you. I threw one, and it bounced out of the board and embedded in the parquet flooring ONE INCH from my foot. And I don't like danger. I get palpatations just by carrying a CD too near the security barriers in Virgin.

And you have to do addings in darts! I can't do numbers. My brain doesn't work like that - I do pictures and words. So the obsession with Soduku is a mystery to me; you want to spend three hours putting little numbers in boxes, come over here and do my tax return.

By the end of it, I was convinced I'd won; though I think AJ thought the same. We were too pissed to care. We'd drunk ourselves silly and taken over the jukebox with Cilla Black songs and Girls Aloud. And that, my dears, is the key: there's no need to be heterophobic. Just take your gayness wherever you go!

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Palace of Man

(Enter Jay, resplendent in towel)

JAY: Beardface!

LEE: Gallager!

JAY: Where on earth have you been?! It's been a fortnight! The TiVo is full of Girls Aloud nonsense and I can't empty it!

LEE: I've been here, all the time!

JAY: In a sauna? You can't live in a sauna!

LEE: I can, and I have! And I thought this would be the first place you'd look, to be honest. Has it really been two weeks?

JAY: Yes! How on earth..! but..! How did you..?!

LEE: You're spluttering, dear.

JAY: Yes I bally well am! You can't live in a sauna!

LEE: Er...

JAY: Well clearly you have. Although I must say - your pores look remarkable. I can now bear to look at your nose without thinking 'you know, I've had socks with smaller holes in them'.

LEE: Do you mind?

JAY: ...I mean they used to look like the crater from where the dinosaurs were wiped out.

LEE (pointedly): Anyway. What are you doing here - you're not even dressed for it. You're wearing your day clothes!

JAY: I'm wearing a towel.

LEE: On your head.

JAY: It's a good look.

LEE: You look like a minimalist Carmen Miranda.

JAY: Come now, how can you have lived in here for two weeks. How did you survive?

LEE: You can live quite easily here. It's got everything I need: steam, sunshine and boys! The lounge has a TV that's constantly tuned to Magic music, and you know no trip to a sauna is complete without a Bonnie Tyler marathon. This place has even got a maze for those 'in between' moments when I get little bored.

JAY: Where?

LEE: There.

JAY: What, the piece of corrugated plastic in the shape of an 'S'?

LEE: I never said it was hard to solve. They're like this is most saunas, you know. Although... I have heard of one in Cleveland... Oh, it sounds like the Ritz of all saunas! It has an indoor beach..!

JAY: You're joking. But I'd insert something funny about 'catching crabs' here, but you're too misty-eyed to listen.

LEE: Oh Gallagher, I'm perfectly happy here! You can really make a go of it, you really can. See those two over there - that's Howard and Ian.

JAY: Who?

LEE: Them. There.

JAY: What, under the two brown leather throws in the steam room?

LEE: Ah. I think your glasses have fogged up.

JAY (squeaky squeaky squeaky): Good lord! The steam's completely dried them out. They look like beef jerky!

LEE: They've been here for three years this month, you know. They're so happy here.

JAY: Beardface you can't stay here for three years! You're the only one who knows where the can opener is. And I'm hungry!

LEE: I have a new home now. Come see my cubicle - I've been doing it up.


LEE (continued): See? It's quite homely!

JAY: Oh! That is nice! The mirror ball, the posters of Cher... look, you even have a little mat that says 'Welcome - Wipe Your Feet'!

LEE: Ah. That's my underwear. Look. See? It's printed on the back.

JAY: You disgust me.

LEE: Come on. It pays to advertise in here.

JAY: Not that - I can see some ceramic 'Lilliput Lanes' on your mantelpiece. How gauche. Clearly your time away from me has impaired your views on such matters. Come on - come home. It's time to throw in the towel.

LEE: But it's lovely in here! We had a dinner party the other day; Howard, Ian and myself. We raided the vending machines and had a party.

JAY: They have roast chicken in the vending machines?

LEE: Well, crisps.

JAY: Beardface, there's a whole world of things out there, bar cock, vending machines and steam rooms. The real world awaits.

LEE: Has anything really changed in two weeks? I mean really?

JAY: Yes!

LEE: Go on then. What did I miss?

JAY: Korea threatened more nuclear tests.

LEE: Hum.

JAY: Heather McCartney is suing the world for all the money she can stuff in her fake leg.

LEE: Meh.

JAY: All Saints have reformed and got a new single out.

LEE: I'll get my coat. You grab the 'Lilliput Lanes'.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Corridor of Man

I do my best thinking in saunas.

Mostly as it starts with 'Why am I here?' and often sidetracks into a more metaphysical bent, if you'll excuse the term.

It was that dead time inbetween gentleman callers: I'd already had one. Well, two. Well, one and a half, as I'd walked out when he wouldn't stop tweaking my nipples. Actually, not tweaking them - twisting them. I kept slapping his hand away, but he insisted, so I said "If you wanted to tune in to Radio Two, why didn't you fuck a radio?" grabbed my towel and left.

So here I am, standing in a sauna corridor, just waiting for everything to reset so I could go back out there and do it all again. You'd think I'd be happy with one (and a half); the only reason being is that the entry fee is fairly steep and you're often weighing up what you're getting for your money. So far it was fourteen pounds for a quick fumble and a hand-job, and frankly you can get that in a nightclub. With a bit of luck you may at least get a Girls Aloud sound-a-like act thrown in as you're tossed off.

It's kind of like waiting for the cistern to refill. And there's not much you can do but sit around and watch the passing parade. Which is always funny. Because no matter how pretty the man, no matter how utterly beautiful, somewhere on his body he will have the key to his locker, making him sound like he's got a cat-bell on as he wanders around the corridors.

(I tuck mine under my watch, readers. Little bit of a tip for you.)

I've got a friend who loves these places. Not for the sex, for the atmosphere. I can only half-understand that; for me the atmosphere is half pure sex, and half the giddy risk of getting a verucca. They're charnel houses of emotion. Palaces of grit and jism.

So why do I go?

Positive reinforcement, they call it. You succeed once in getting something you wanted and you're going to go back. I'm chasing an elusive, glorious afternoon where I'd gone with two very attractive friends and we'd accidentally started an orgy about us just by Rob raising his eyebrow and Darryl dropping his towel. Oh, heady days indeed. That very afternoon I had more pricks than a blind seamstress' finger. And it was quality cock too. Often you come to these places and get some ratty old portions that look like a length of knotted fisherman's rope - seemingly with barnacles.

It's rather like going to a car boot sale. There's innumerable everyday items, but every now and again, you see something really special. Something you'd never normally be able to get, and maybe he'll shrug and follow you into a booth. You see, I'm slightly unfortunate in that I fall between two categories of men. I'm far below those beautiful hunks of meat who only seemingly go to saunas make people wonder what the hell they're there for. Yet I'm (and do forgive my arrogance) slightly above the pot-bellied oafs who can barely get through the corridors without their nipples touching the fetching murals of roman torches encased behind perspex to avoid splashback).

Like this guy here. You should see him. I'm thinking 'If you're going to cover yourself with tattoos, you should at least get electrolysis first, love. From the look of you, it'd like trying to read an IKEA instruction book through a privet hedge...'

My eye ached. My one success here, an Italian, had got a little carried away and coughed his filthy love-muck all over face and some had ungraciously gone in my fabulous green-tinted peepers. I say he was Italian - the only reason I suspected was he said 'ciao' after mopping up and smelled slightly of Chinzano.

You see, you're not allowed to speak in here. It's mad. You're being intimate in many, many ways, but talking..? No. Not allowed. Frowned upon. Positively discouraged,

The only ones that do are the blue t-shirted functionaries who patrol the corridors. You tend to ignore them for some reason, as if they've been labeled 'not for sex' in your head. Like furniture. And girls.

Mostly they spend their time installed in their little rooms, sitting reading the Metro on packs of kitchen roll, completely immune to the shuffling, undulating atmosphere. They'll wander out with a damp cloth and a pair of surgical gloves every now and again to hose down a cubicle. They're like the Doozers in Fraggle Rock. With more singing.

Anyway. I went to a psychic some time back. "You're unique," he said. "You can separate sex from emotion really easily" and I thought 'not that unique, mate - it just means I'm a raving homosexual'. And you could see them all here... There's a guy wandering around who's utterly beautiful to look at, one you wouldn't mind chancing your arm with. But then he starts forward and you notice he walks like a duck. Seriously. With the neck and everything.

There's the one on speed. This is the third time he's been around here in so many minutes. Unsurprisingly.

And there's the man with his towel so high that he looked like he was wearing a ra-ra skirt. Not a good look.

I find it best to gave yourself a yardstick when you get in - a gentleman who isn't all bad, but just that little bit below your league. Not necessary munting, but one you wouldn't normally do even after a few pints. The idea being that if you catch yourself hiking up your towel for him in a dark room, you've clearly lowered your standards and should get out of there. I chose a bizarre little knuckle-dragger with ears like wing-nuts. That helps - you'd be able to see those even in the steam room.

The steam rooms are always good for a laugh as someone's always got their equipment out, though you have to be careful what you're getting as visibility is low. It's rather like The Nothing from Never-Ending Story has descended, and you're left groping around and hope that's the door handle you're pulling in the hope of getting out. Well, you never know! One sharp twist, and the next thing you know you've either made it outside, or you're wiping something unsavoury out of your hair and batting away an offer to come back to his as 'the wife's away, mate'.

Speaking of which, I'm told that lesbians have saunas, apparently. It happens once a month (make your own jokes there) where one of our establishments are graciously given over to our Be-Good Tanya-loving brethren. Lord only knows how it works. Can you imagine our less dainty Ladies Wot Lick cruising? And how would it all work out sexually? For one, I'm completely mystified how they stop the Pringles going soggy in the steam room...

Half hour and still nothing good. I realise my foot's gone to sleep, so I shuffle around a bit, accidentally catching the eye of someone. Didn't mean to, but any movement sets them off. Like raptors.

Oh, it's the yard-stick. I sigh, get my towel and go home.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Fabulous Letter

Warning: Contains Spoilers for Battlestar Galactica Season Two

Dear Doctor Baltar,

If you really want to build a Cylon detector, just check the crews to see who is a b-list cult TV star from yesteryear. Within you'll find him from Due South, Xena Warrior Princess, and Al from Quantum Leap.

If you ever see someone who looks like Claudia Black on your ship, run. Your show will be cancelled within the year.

Lots of love,
The Gays.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Learning Latin The Hard Way

In the first year of blogging, you're really just finding your voice. Setting your stall out. Trawling your past for interesting stories to captivate and intrigue your fabulous audience who just happens by because you accidentally mentioned 'Alistair Appleton naked' and Google went mad.

In the second year of blogging, you skip through your daily life exclaiming 'Ooh, I could blog that!' to anything that happens to you. Mercilessly repackaging situations, pinching ideas and conversations wholesale for tbe amusement of the hypercyberinterweb.

By the third year, you're actually putting yourself into situations where you think 'Oh now this'll make a grand story!'

* * *

I've been a bit down of late, as you know. I was hoping to put it down to Seasonal Adjustment Disorder, but there's a gorgeous new line of kicky little jumpers in Zara this season, so who dares be depressed its the weather's gone south. Instead I have the fallout of a long term relationship. Four years! That's forever in Gay Years. Come on, you see how fickle we homothexuals are: one minute we're exalting the Spice Girls as the second coming, next we're baying for Geri Halliwell's head on a pencil-thin pike (or - as we usually know it - 'Posh Spice'). It's a long time for we Gentlemen Who Have Two Copies of Brokeback Mountain Because The First Starts Glitching Around 20 Minutes In. Well, it's a long time for anyone, but I'm just saying that we boys are a little more easily distr- ooh, look! Kittens! Which seemingly helps when you're trying to cheer yourself up.

One of my friends has a great saying: 'put yourself in the way of fun'.

It's gradually becoming a motto. Although I have oft mistaken the words 'in the way of fun' to be 'in any passing boy who pauses long enough to tie his shoe laces'. Initially I thought it was terribly constructive thing to do, but last night I had a dream where I had sex with a midget. Honest to God. A freaky little man, and there was me bouncing off him like a Pontin's trampoline.

You don't have to be Freud to note this probably means my subconscious is worried I'm partial to nailing anything at the moment. Standards are things that the Royal Mail sticks to, not me.

* * *

So then came the priest.

Literally honest-to-God. A priest. We met in a bar; I was reading a book, he was drinking a pint and we fell into conversation. He was hilarious, had tattoos, talked about ordering the communion wine from Sainsburys. We got on like a polyester wig too near a cigarette. Very, very attractive gentleman. If we'd had someone like that in my parish, maybe I wouldn't be the Godless little oik I am today.

We were several doubles down when somehow these things often turn to matters of the boudoir. I'd assumed he was celibate; no idea why. But what was suggested we did was not even close. I was slightly taken aback to be asked to be taken back (grin). Although I'd already had a conugal visit that very afternoon with a gentleman caller: I'd popped in to see my Boy - the affair - on the lunchtime and we'd had urgent, fabulous sex on his office floor. There's three girls who work on the floor below him and I'm sure they heard every guttural sound, and in a few cases, whoops. He likes to whoop. It's very endearing.

But anyway, the priest - very persuasive gentleman - tried to inveigle me back to his. He was very good at talking me around and I tell you, he could save my soul any time. But something in the back of my head just niggled the whole way there, becoming worse when we lay down on the bed. Although his bedroom was a riot, all mirrorballs and crucifies. It was like the set model for a Madonna stage show, but with nicer throws and watched over by a couple of choice portraits of Pope Benedictine and the Royal Family. And as I lay there being kissed, my mind wandered slightly: 'How cool with this be,' I pondered, 'blogging about how a Catholic priest accidentally licked my affair's dried love-muck off my pods while I was being stared down upon by a picture of the Queen Mother! That would rock!'



Was this why I was doing it? Just to blog it?

Oh fuck.

I snatched my coat off the floor, stamped my boots on and left. Sharpish Running for the last train with the fear of God in me.

* * *

'One should put oneself in the way of fun. But only if you're 100% sure' I think shall be my new motto.

I've since apologised to the priest, and I hope he forgives me. Weird - asking a priest's forgiveness for not having sinned.

It's been a weird old time. What seems to have happened is I've bypassed part of my brain that's taken out the 'should I?' and replaced it with a 'can I?' sometimes followed by a 'can I get a decent story out of this?' And that's not really fair on anyone now, is it? Pah, another reason to be woefully introspective.

But hell. If being chased around a bedroom by a tattooed priest with a bottle of rosé isn't God's way of saying 'For My sake, start having fun!' I don't know what is.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Just Another Kink In Your Steel

Well. The new Girls Aloud song is a right barnstormer of a hit.

Which I assume is a good thing. I've never stormed a barn. Oh yes,
I've been biffed in the back alley a few times, and I did once break
into a Greig's Bakers because my blood-sugar was so low I was
hallucinating I was a member of a Stars on 45 tribute act. Which is a little recursive, but anyone two streets shy of a Curly Whirly won't argue with you in that state.

But Girls Aloud! Those of you new to these hallowed glittering halls (wipe your feet, genuflect to the statue of Cher) won't know of my obsession with these
fivemarvelouss lasses. For you Jonny Foreigners out there, imagine the Pussycat Dolls without the split-crotch panties and theherpess cream, and the need to latch on to some 'credible' rap artist to maypole around in the video. What we have here are four winners of a national talent contest, picked for their looks, singing and dancing. And also Nicola, the ginger one who we love because she always looks like she's counting the dance moves in her head whenever she appears on screen. She's our favourite. She's the one who you watch going '...aww, bless.' Like the kid with calipers you see at a wedding.

So, to be honest, this song came as a complete surprise: we thought we'd get three albums and a Greatest Hits, but it seems someone's left a recording studio unlocked long enough for them to do an entire new album! The gays rejoice! But the biggest surprise it is marvelous. It makes me want to hie it to a podium somewhere - anywhere - take off my top and dance like a spastic being electrocuted.

And witness the video! Fantastic. The girls have cars and there are many shots of them caressing a gearstick. Whatever could it mean?! Well, to be honest, they never go with very high-brow concepts with Girls Aloud promos. Witness, in order:

The Sound of the Underground: The girls are underground

No Good Advice: The girls are covered in tin-foil. Clearly not good advice to anyone, bar marathon runners.

Life Got Cold: The girls look cold

Jump: The girls break into 10 Downing Street. And jump on a bed.

The Show: The girls own a hairdressers (yeah, we're not sure either)

Love Machine: The girls go to a club and drink alcopops.

I'll Stand By You: The girls go to the beach, seemingly in November

Wake Me Up: The girls are given motorbikes. Probably because they are loud and would indeed 'wake you up'.

Long Hot Summer: The girls open a garage, for no other reason that their tits can be splashed with motor oil.

Biology: The girls stand in a room with butterflies. Cause they're, like, biological. (or 'byo-logick' as Nicola would probably say)

See The Day: The girls are trapped in a snow globe. (Do, if you get a chance, YouTube this. There's a brilliant moment where Nicola is lying around with her dead eyes next to a pool of water. But its so dark it looks like blood and she's been bludgeoned by the director or something. Hilare!)

Whole Lotta History: The girls go tglasses. And wear glassses like sexy supply teachers.

So, basically, don't expect Citizen Kane if you're watching The Aloud. In this video, they're given cars. Oh yes. Cars, and a back-projection screen which they then dance in front of. Ooh, irony! They're playing with you as the audience: do you see?! Do you?

Despite it being exposed as being fake by the girls themselves, it's interesting to note that they still don't let Nicola drive.

Probably because she's hanging out the back window with her tongue lolling out like a big old Red Setter.

Girls Aloud. I love you.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Attack with A Blunt Weapon

Clare looked glorious, but is there ever a moment when brides do not? It's not just the frock, I'm sure - there's an inner poise and grace that wells up from within. Radiant, that's the word. And Clare certainly was that. Although I'm a firm believer that anyone can do anything in a wedding dress and still look amazing. Like dance, serve burgers to guests and run across busy roads.

"Ooh. Salmon. Lovely!" I said.
"What are you, one of those 'vegetarians'," the woman said from across the table, saying the word like we Gentlemen Who Can't Catch say 'vagina'. I frowned; I'd barely taken her in as we sat down, but there she was, issuing judgment from over the centerpiece.
"Oh come on. You can't be a proper vegetarian and eat fish," I said in my best matter-of-fact voice. Probably came across as a bit prissy, but who the hell did she think she was anyway. Hmph.
She didn't look up.

It turned out that Richard, a man to our right, loved nothing more than running around in fatigues, locking and loading and shooting likeminded men with a pellet gun in a forest near Worksop. He seemed nice enough. Clearly had a subscription to every gun magazine going, and after a few pints would probably try to count the ways he knew how to kill a man using the cutlery in front of him. Including the rather fetching ribbon the napkin was wrapped in.
"I wish you'd assassinated James Blunt," I exclaimed, plucking a name out the air. I was going to say Geri Halliwell, but I do try and butch up for these things. You never know who you're going to sit next to at a wedding, and the last thing you want to do is have an outbreak of rampant homophobia on someone else's big day.
"I like James Blunt," she said. It was barely audible, but the point was being made.
Well. Clearly the woman had no redeeming features at all. I resolved to make as many attacks on James Blunt as I could for the meal.
She went back to texting someone, then started scraping at her husband's summer pudding with all the deftness of a JCB digger.

* * *

People were starting to cry.
I hung my head slightly. I didn't really know anyone here that well, coming along as my flatmate Jay's 'plus one'. It felt slightly intrusive to be at the service; there were aunts, great grandmothers - whole rafts of women sobbing into their hankies. And I was getting nothing but a slight sadness and embarrassment that this didn't mean as much to me as the poor bridesmaid over there who was a mess of snot and mascara.
At least there were no hymns. There's nothing like celebrating a blessed union like a loveless, dirgy old tune about some green hills miles away.
The hall was draped with ivy and fairy lights. The window they were in front of gave the view of the sea rolling in, and the clouds were low and spectacular.
It was so lovely. I wished I could have shared it with someone.
I thought on: there was only one person who would have appreciated it as much as I could have. Who I'd have liked to have been there to see what I was seeing.
And that was my recent ex.
Right then, I had such a physical feeling of missing him I almost gasped.
"You may kiss the bride," someone announced.
Something pricked at my eye. I put it down to hayfever.

* * *

It had taken us this long to get to what our occupations were, which was a surprise. Although we did have that stalwart 'so how do you know Neil the groom' to go through first. Most of us knew him through playing Warhammer. Or in my case, wandering though the kitchen while he and Jay were playing Warhammer and offering him a tea.
"You work on Doctor Who?" asked her husband. She was still texting, barely looking up over her glasses.
I nodded, and also mentioned the spin-off Torchwood, where I'd help design the computer graphics they use on the main Hub set.
"Oh mate, let me shake your hand!" he said, and grasped my palm in a firm grip, and proceeded to unspool about how scary the Daleks were.
"I couldn't stand the Yetis," said my new arch-nemesis to no-one in particular.
She turned out to be an RE teacher. Or a PE teacher. I couldn't hear over the crowd.
"I've never been a fan of organised religion," I said, edging my bets and preparing to clamber up onto my soap box.
She thought for a second, and I could feel myself tensing for the retaliating blow. "Hmm. Neither have I," she said.
We caught each other's smiles by accident.

* * *

I'd had a terrible night before. I've been half-seeing a boy. It's a good thing, as he's got a boyfriend and I'm taking the time to discover myself. And most of the boys in London, for that matter. Gays, eh? Well, it started to go wrong. Just a little, but just enough for me to question whether it was a good thing for me to be seeing him when I'm in this state.
There's nothing like looking out onto a blistering sea on your own, wind picking at your tie as the sun sets while you mournfully ponder your life.
Until you realise you've started looking like an Alias cut-away scene, usually where they play soft rock. So you snap out of it with a giggle and go and get more wine.

* * *

It turned out she was called Ann. She thought the new series of Doctor Who was very good, but as sci-fi went, she much preferred Aliens.
"I just love it when she gets into that big machine at the end and yells 'Get away from her, you bitch!'"
Everyone had joined in with her last bit, and we started discussing the merits of Sigourney Weaver's shaggy perm, sadly lost to the acting community since Alien3. We all mimed a tear.

* * *

Someone told me you should always invite a gay to a wedding. They're always the first up the bar, and first on the dancefloor. And the natural friend of the Wedding Gay is the Cynical, Worldly Woman. You can normally find them around any alcohol, barstool or away from any men. If you find one at a wedding, you're guaranteed a good time.

* * *

"Oh yes, all men are bastards," she agreed. "Me, I can't nod off until I've read three chapters of a serial killer before I go to bed," she said.
And she taught children. Clearly I approved.
By this point I'd moved around and accidentally scratched Ann's arm with a wild gesture, while we compared the relative merits of Keanu Reeves. She knew every word of the classic 'Rebecca' too. Recited swathes of it for us at the table right there. Brilliant.
By this point, we'd discussed belief, boys and where the best place for your cat to sit in order to get the cutest picture.
"You know," she said. "I've been thinking. Of things I could get you to do for me for free."
"You cheeky mare!"
"No, go on. We have no budget at school. Come in and talk to my girls! They'd love you! No, really, they would!"
What a strange turn of events, I thought, loving every minute.

* * *

We said goodbye to the bride and groom, who thanked us for coming and getting everyone up dancing.
We said we were just doing our jobs. And told them we'd had a brilliant time.
At the start of events, I hadn't known anyone; by the end of it, friends all over the room. Neil and Claire made the most beautiful couple.
I wish I could have gone back to the beginning. I'd have cried at the service like everyone else.