Saturday, 1 August 2009

Saturday 1 August 2009

Today I wake up at 6.30AM shivering. Where the fuck am I again? Oh yeah, this is Streatham rubbing up against Tulse Hill. This is not ideal.

Eventually I stagger out onto the South London streets around 7.40AM with everyone else in the place remaining asleep in bed. I guess that is until I have to slam the door in order to close it.

London is a grey place this morning. Less than five hours ago I was only just arriving here and now without enough rest or sleep I am staggering around leaving it.

I don’t think I would enjoy living her. This particular road in South London benefits from not actually looking like London but soon once I trundle down a steep hill and hit a main road suddenly I am hit with the grime and trash that is London, the lower standard of life where everyone and everything appears financially poor and as a result suffers from the suggestion of being morally poor/bankrupt. Also it smells.

It is still early and the shops are just setting up stall/shop for the day. There are a few remnants from last night’s shenanigans and as I pass what appears the most rundown B&Q store in the franchise’s history a sudden desire to be in Essex now consumes me. I do not even stop to get a newspaper.

I choose to catch a train at West Norwood instead of Tulse Hill and when I arrive on the platform thankfully there is a train to London Bridge not too far away. Slowly I am joined on the platform by an assortment of strange looking characters none of whom are smiling. Welcome to South London. Fortunately I do not feel intimidated, I am years past feeling that emotion.

Eventually the train turns up and even more strange looking characters are aboard that. The train passes through places in South London I would never want to stop at including Crystal Palace.

Finally things pick up as the train goes through Bermondsey and there The New Den is right in front of me looking great as ever despite the fact it looks like it is made from Meccano. This surely is a good omen for my/the day.

While riding this train I muse over the reality that in modern life people do not possess the time and/or resources to be/become the best possible version of themselves. For some reason it is South London that drums this reality home to me.

I also acknowledge how close we are to Lewisham and the sadness I left back there.

As the train pulls into London Bridge I change onto the Northern Line with view to getting to Moorgate suddenly the trains/tubes appear to be conspiring against me as painfully long gaps/waiting times between trains are given birth. Suddenly my desire to catch the 9AM train back to Colchester (on the fast Norwich train) begins to feel like something of a race that cannot be won. A five minute platform wait is for just two stops. Having missed the previous tube by seconds due to having to leapfrog and hurdle people with luggage I curse my fortune.

When the train finally gets to Moorgate I rush to the platform to only be met with the reality of a seven minute wait for a train to do a 30 second ride to Liverpool Street. As I spin around half considering walking to Liverpool Street my iPhone slips out of my hand and drops to the floor hitting the stone clad surface hard. When I look down the screen has shattered and is now cracked as if it were ice. Suddenly in a New York minute the omens for today have turned terrible and rotten.

In the end I use the seven minute wait to lick my wounds and collect myself. I peruse the damage to my phone and a shard of screen pierces my finger. Will I be looking back at this moment in the future as a wasted opportunity to sue? Despite the screen being history miraculously the pad actually still works and the iPhone remains functioning. Go figure. At this point I begin to feel really thankful for the IT Guy’s advice to take out insurance on the thing.

In the end the delayed and crappy tube means I miss the 9AM Norwich train by minutes and instead wind/end up on the slower 9.08AM loser train that calls at every fucking station along the way. You just know a train is bad when it stops at Romford.

At this point in time I take stock of my estimated arrival time back in Colchester at being around 10AM. With the walk to my car and the drive home I will be lucky to get back for 10.30AM which at least means I am still on course to be ready and around my parents for midday.

There is a strange androgynous person on the train this morning regularly turning around and looking at me. I’m not wholly convinced of what sex he/she is but there is an air of Ruth Gordon in Rosemary’s Baby attached to it.

My timing predictions for getting home begin to feel a tad optimistic when the train beaches at Shenfield at 9.35AM. This comes coupled with my toothache that isn’t going away. God hates me.

Eventually as the train heads into Colchester just after 10AM and I can see Jumbo in the distance once again it beaches and the reality and circle of the world conspiring against me is complete. Truly god hates me.

Finally having pulled into the station as I exit it I spot/see Nina sat outside the cafĂ© awaiting her own chariot. Defeated and disillusioned I sit down and have a chat with her happy for some human contact. She tells me she has already seen my Facebook status about my broken phone and as she inspects it she remarks “gutted.”

Once her train arrives she goes off to the hell hole that is Romford as I storm home to get changed for today’s proceedings. Eventually I get back to Bohemian Grove for 10.40AM still racing against the clock. Annoyingly on the way I forget to buy a newspaper so immediately I find myself getting back in my car and heading out on the Saturday newspaper run driving from Layer Road to Layer Road in the process. This must be a new level of laziness on my part.

As soon as I get back I have three things I have to do: charge phone, polish shoes and have bath.

Today Facebook really takes the piss out of me by making a friend suggestion to me of/for Moriarty. This makes me feel physically sick. Did she get a corresponding friend suggestion at her end? Jesus, really what was her problem? This is pretty insensitive of Facebook to highlight a person that caused me so much grief and hassle. As a result it causes me to do one of my infamous “Dear Facebook” rants. This ranks up there with Facebook the other day suggesting to my dad’s account that he befriend Mindy. Yeah if he wants a fake plastic friend that will repeatedly blow him out and waste his time before finally dropping him like a shit when a more accommodating doormat turns up, then be my guest.

With all this in mind I find myself dragging a bit and when mum phones me at 11.40AM dragging me out of the bath and asking me where I am I go up the fucking wall on the phone to her. With the reality that I am going all out to make it to there place for the scheduled midday I really do not deserve this kind of hassle. Stupidly she says she thought it was midday already and it just serves to piss me off.

Minutes later I rush out of the door not really as prepared as intended. By the time I arrive at their place to put on my suit I am fucked off and grumpy and immediately I begin to let her have it. First I find myself wondering what the mentality of being given a short sleeved shirt is. Who the fuck wears a short sleeve shirt with a suit? Next with a chip truly on my shoulder I try on my suit and it fits funnily, only serving to make me feel uncomfortable and low about myself, in a bad mood to face proceedings. After the phone, after the Facebook shit and all the rushing I now have to put up with this shit. Harsh.

One positive point is that I have chosen to wear mauve tie that we all wore for Justin and Helen’s wedding three years ago. This is now my traditional wedding tie, the smartest in my collection with the best luck and fortune attached.

When I arrive dad is out picking up one of mum’s sisters and when he turns up with her I am continuing my rants before I realise that there is this little woman stood behind him. Immediately I change tact and say hello after having already ashamed myself.

As we drive to the church I am in a fucking mood. Somehow typically I have already descended to stroppy teenager status headed towards a family gathering verging on playing up. The others try speaking to me but I don’t want to come round I just want to get things over and done with so that I can go back to being treated (and acting) like an adult.

Despite threats of rain on the forecast we arrive at the church with the skies a brilliant blue and the sun out. Slowly we head up towards the entrance where I see my cousin waiting looking nervous. He tells me he was nearly sick on the way to the church and I manage to crack a funny about the best man’s driving being “that bad.”

Inside the church it is a strange experience for me. It looks tiny and I genuinely cannot recall the last time I was last in one. Still feeling slightly out of sorts a Damian/The Omen-esqe reaction almost takes me as I begin to get tetchy.

I watch as the congregation sing songs in anticipation for the start of the show. What are these people about? Is this what it is to be truly religious? Are these people professionals or is this their idea of fun? It is noticeable how they are all old, they are a dying breed. I watch them for the trumped up air about them before I realise that one of the women singers is giving me evils as if she sees through me and knows of my sins.

As we sit in the pews my parents and their generation get reacquainted and catch up in that Royle Family kind of way. I occasionally get introduced into proceedings and slowly I begin to come around as I endeavour to turn on the charm and not make a fool of myself in front of the family. Smiles all around.

Eventually wheels get rolling on proceedings as the organ kicks into life and Phil’s wife to be drags her train to the alter where they tie the knot. It is all very adult and quite frankly the whole occasion terrifies me, the bombast of being so centre of attention/proceedings would be something I don’t think I would be able to carry off.

Soon we are again standing supposedly singing hymns but as dad and I muddle through the hymn book looking for the correct song and page the pair of us can be heard to be generally humming and mumbling our way through songs as by the time we finally get to the correct page the songs are almost halfway through.

With impression confidence my uncle takes to the stage and does a reading in front of the whole congregation. When he finishes I feel short-changed when we do not get the opportunity to applaud him. Later the bride’s mum does something similar but on that occasion I don’t feel like clapping.

As more hymns get played it is funny to watch my cousin’s new wife (my new cousin in law) sing heartily along. Is she a religious freak? In a way this is what would be suggested.

Eventually proceedings come to a close as vows get exchanged and up front books get signed and the deal gets sealed. With this the newly married couple leave the church heading out for the customary photo shoot.

Today bad weather had been threatened but the gods prove forgiving as the sun remains out and the skies stay blue. As people mingle into their various groups I get lumbered with my parents and their generation. With this my parents continue to treat me like a children and I resume acting as such. In the long run I don’t feel this will do me any favours whatsoever.

Gradually as the photos finish and the procession heads towards a vintage car parked outside the church slowly the weather begins to turn and the skies begin to spit. On the way however my mother and aunt make a point of searching out their parents’ grave. There is a real family tradition attached to this church, one that I feel uncomfortable for not living up to. I must look pathetic walking around overweight in my pathetic suit rented suit acting like a child, the crap black sheep of the family. Then again nobody is paying any attention to me, its not my day. Perhaps it should be though.

We all get in cars to head over to the university where the reception is being held in one of the fancy halls. Inside the reception is a champagne one where I aim dead on for free hooch. Suddenly I feel (rightly or wrongly) in my element. In a strange way I appear to large it and come out of myself in that horrible way that alcohol will induce you. Not that conversation flows as I attempt to strike a nerve and nail some kind of nice nice but as ever only manage to sound obnoxious and ridiculous. The more I trip over my words the more I feel the necessity to drink.

Eventually we get directed into the hall where food is being served. I find myself sat at the head of Littlegate table where it suddenly occurs to me that I am an outcast of the family. I sit at the head of the table where I large it as the youngest person by probably thirty years. This really is not my demographic, its my family but not a circle or crowd I should feel comfortable conversing with. I act cheeky in an adult fashion that at the time I think was mature but in fact it was probably quite camp.

Regardless the dinner is amazing, roast with an effort and flavours that my family are not used or familiar to.

Too many times we make jokes at mum’s expense until the eventual strop. Truly though it would/could not be a family do without mum throwing a wobbler.

Soon it comes to speech time where recognisable relatives go through the motions. It weirds me out slightly to see my younger cousin acting so adult. Its funny how his bride’s family are proper northerners and funny with it, all things quite the clash of cultures.

After the speeches dinner begins to gradually wind down and people head to the bar. As our family appears to linger in no rush to move (instead happy to reminisce and gas), now properly drunk I find myself stealing all the chocolates from the tables that have been left behind. Also I begin taking flowers from the displays and offering them to my aunts. Just what am I trying to prove with this?

By the time we reach the bar things begin to slow down. Stuck with people twice my age and I hardly thrive having now socialised as much as possible with this group of people (my elderly relatives). And unfortunately I’m not a mixer and despite there being people of my age at the event/celebration at the age of 33 ridiculously I am too shy to go anywhere near them.

Now sufficiently drunk I stop drinking and eventually en masse we all head into the disco where we proceed to sit in a corner like a group of coffin dodgers. By now a few more relatives have turned up and for a while I sit chatting with my uncle who I get my middle name from when I sense across our table one of my aunts (now freshly arrived) just looks at me with disbelief as suddenly I resemble some kind of man child. Damn, she should have seen me earlier at the head of the table, I was cleaning up then (I think).

The disco is a strange one, a proper wedding set playing naff love songs from the eighties. It’s a weird selection and one that hardly inspires me to get into proceedings. Instead I remain with the biddies around me gawping silently at events. I begin moaning (whining) that DJ hasn’t got a clue and they need to be playing “Come On Eileen” or something. For children of the nineties I really thought my cousin and his new wife would have requested something different. Was I really expecting nothing but non-stop Blur?

Eventually they have their first dance and it is to a Nick Drake song which I think is pretty great. Around me all the oldsters begin asking me what the song is and I don’t know the name I only know it is by Nick Drake. In reality Drake is more of their generation and were they really a bit more savvy or, dare I say, cultured they would have known.

My late night and early start begins to catch up on me as finally I begin to flag. Again to this I don’t respond in the most mature of manners, even making gestures to falling asleep at the wedding there and then. Fuck it I’ve fallen asleep at gigs in recent years, how is this any different? Actually it is very different, it is fucking rude.

Almost immediately mum begins flapping half offering half threatening to take me home, seemingly angry at my childish behaviour. I don’t want to leave but I don’t feel like I can continue either. Perhaps were we not just sat in the corner of a disco like plums and actually conversing maybe things would be better. My family, what you going to do?

I ensure I stay at the wedding until at least 10PM but finally off the back of barely a few hours sleep I ask if mum minds driving me home. I guess I appear to be crapping out from drinking too much but genuinely this is down to fatigue. Fatigue and being out of my comfort zone.

As mum and I head out it suddenly appears that the real activity is occurring at the bar where my old man is holding court. Perhaps I should have reconvened with him and got back involved with proceedings for another hour but by this stage the idea of bed and sleep just appeals far too much. Frustratingly I feel I waste the opportunities given to me with my invitation to such a great event.

Heading out I thank my relatives for inviting me to the wedding, looking to outweigh rudeness with gratitude. The truth though is I am just all familied out.

The drive back home is not a fun one. It is night driving and mum always struggles with this. Also there is a sense that she is in a mood and that I have done something wrong. I guess I went to the well one too many times by cracking jokes at her expense. That or she truly has clocked this evening just what a social leper and outcast I truly am, my wallflower state isn’t looking to go away anytime soon.

I am disgusted with myself to admit that part of the appeal of heading home at this time is due to Channel Four showing Will Ferrell starring in You’re Welcome America which is a live one man show of him reprising his role of George W. Bush from SNL. Quite frankly it sounds amazing. Unfortunately once more, with relief combined with being pissed and having had no sleep I pass out without minutes of it.

I don’t think I will ever have a wedding.

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