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Short Stories

Nuts and belligerence

"Allergic" you say, shaking your head.
"How unfortunate" they reply sympathetically.

You smile "I know, I know".

"Would you like some Pringles instead?"

"Oh that, that would be marvelous, thanks"

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Nuts And Hard Places (by Gio Jincharadze - www.jagasite.com)

If you try to explain that you just don’t like nuts, well you’re in trouble.

Your host will look upon you with a mixture of wide eyed disbelief and a kind of pity that is usually reserved for the special kind of simpleton who gets the first question wrong on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

"Are you sure you don’t like nuts? - any nuts?"

Are you sure your final answer is ‘Black Hawk Clown’?

"Yes I’m quite sure thank you"

In the future, this is where the conversation will end. They’ll offer you crisps, pretzels or if you’re at that type of friend’s house - hummus and pitta. But the future isn’t here yet; I guarantee that at least one or more of those snacks exist in a nearby cupboard- that is where they will remain. You aren’t someone who doesn’t like nuts; you are merely unconverted, like a homosexual yet to be cured.

They won’t bring you hummus, Golden Wonder nor pretzel; they will bring you all the nuts, food containing nuts and nut flavored food they have. If they don’t have what they consider to be a sufficient quantity of nut related foodstuffs (and they probably won’t) then they will call on their neighbor to help out. They won’t have spoken to the neighbor for months because of a long-term quarrel about the outside bins but this will quickly get put to one side however once the gravitas of The Situation is known.

They don’t even bother with pleasantries.

"My friend thinks he doesn’t like nuts"

"What! Not even cashew nuts?"

"Not even cashew nuts - apparently…".

"Wait here" The bins are now long forgotten and the neighbor hurries into their house. The sound of cupboards banging open and shut is tempered only by the rustling of foil. A couple of minutes later the neighbor returns with chocolate coated Brazil nuts and a pecan pie.

You meanwhile are sat motionless in your friend’s lounge and its not long before your pulse starts to quicken and a shrill voice begins to speak to you through your left index finger.

Run, run away run away now

It’s too late though and your friend and neighbor bound in.

"Now, have you ever tried a Brazil nut" they start. .

‘Yes’ you explain, staring at the open window ‘and I hated it.’

This is only on the first floor, it wouldn’t be fatal; it would take a lot of explaining but at least it wouldn’t be fatal.

They smile sympathetically and answer in unison.

"Aha - but have you ever tried a Brazil nut in chocolate?"

These people are idiots, kill them now and make the world a better place

"No" you hazard. "But I know I don’t like Brazil nuts"

They exchange a knowing glance and again reply as one "We thought you might say that". Your pupils dilate as they reach inside a silver bag resting previously unnoticed by the neighbour’s ankles.

"It doesn’t even taste like nuts"

Of course it does, a Brazil nut in chocolate is still a Brazil nut – it’s just a Brazil nut in chocolate. These people are worse than idiots; they are idiots who think you are a moron.

"You’ll love it" They say, as your host thrusts the chocolate encrusted poison at your mouth. You recoil, and on the verge of blacking out, drop into a kind of psychosis. Your index finger begins chanting nursery rhymes.

Three blind mice three blind mice, See how they run see how they run

"Come on, we promise, you’ll be surprised - it’s basically just chocolate"

They demonically start to wave the nut in your face, and your finger starts on Roald Dahl.

And at that moment her eyelashes flickered

"Just try it, you’ll like it…"

And she whipped a pistol from her knickers…

You come to -and at once alert you realize what you have to do and just as your jaw is being prised open, you reach into your pocket and remove your half eaten sandwich from lunch. Momentarily your tormentors pause in confusion, allowing you time to scoop out the warm soft stilton with your fingers.

"Urgh what the fuck is that?"

Smiling, you carefully explain "Its cheese, blue cheese - It's called Stilton I believe - it’s delicious and you’ll love it, I promise you. What? you don’t like blue cheese. Well this is different, totally different. Its barely even cheese, you won’t even taste the mould. The blue smelly mould that pulses through its core. Really you should try it."

They are repelled in disgust. You push the stilton into your mouth and chew it with your mouth open. The neighbor runs out of the house wailing while your friend drops the Brazil nut and runs for the bathroom where he is violently sick.

It shouldn’t have to be this way you think as you amble into the kitchen to find the Hummus.

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Dedicated to all those who have had to try to explain why they don’t like nuts/cheese/ drink milk/beer, eat meat or like Shakespeare

The Perils Of Hostels

It doesn't matter where you are in the world, there are common features that will be present in every hostel. Australians, traveling with other Australians, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers on the Hostel afternoon play list and if its that sort of Hostel, on the evening play list. The shower will invariably have something slightly wrong with it. Whether it drips, or sprays painfully fast, whether it goes cold sometimes, doesn't work in between 9pm and 10pm, whether a minor turn in the temperature handle causes a dramatic change in the actual temperature, or just something else; a miscellaneous difficulty, its guaranteed that it won't be exactly as you wish. But then I think this can be said for almost any shower hostel or not. When you first start using hostels, these things grate. After a time you just accept them as a given. What is definitely a given is that online hostel reviews can be always be ignored; the following is a guide to translation:
  • Unfriendly staff = one member of staff was a little brisk with someone who's probably an idiot.
  • Dirty = Reviewer is someone who shouldn't stay in hostels.
  • Unsafe = There were coloured people staying and the reviewer is racist
  • Friendly atmosphere = above average number of people, probably bearded or Australian asking banal traveler questions and handing out unsolicited travel advice – this can be categorized affectionately as hostel chat

I went to the University Of Life (and Durham)

Hostel chat is unavoidable unless you are middle aged. If you are middle aged and staying in hostel no one will talk to you willingly, obviously. If you are even quasi-not-disgusting and female everyman will talk to you, obviously. The chat may, if you are lucky stray, but the basic structure will remain the same.

Q1. Have you just arrived? If Yes go to Q2 if no go to Q3

Q2 – Oh! when did you arrive? The answer to this question does not matter go to Q4

Q3 – How long are you staying for? The answer to this question doesn't matter, they will say something like this: 'oh not long then/ oh! quite a while then– you should go to [[insert landmark, church, beech or whatever the place is famed for]. Bare in mind this segment of hostel chat can vary extensively in length, the dedicated hostel chat artist can stretch out a laundry list of destinations with directions for the duration of an entire meal or longer. Again, in general your response doesn't matter. Once they are all out of advice, there will be a pause... go to Q 6

Q4 Where have you just come from? Somewhere where they have been to Q5 somewhere they haven't Q6

Q4 – Did you go to [insert landmark, church, beech or whatever the place is famed for]? If yes go to Q5 if no go back to Q3

Q5 Its amazing isn't it? Again it doesn't matter what you say – go back to to Q4 until all the places the hostel chattist knows from that place are exhausted, then go to Q3.

Q6 Where are you going next? If it is somewhere they know – go back to Q3 if not go to Q7

Q7 Where are you from? This question may come here or after Q2. What is guaranteed is that it will at some point be followed by your standard 5 golden banal questions strangers ask each other upon meeting in bars, clubs, hostels, airplanes etc.

What do you do?

Do you enjoy it?

And either A. Whats it like? Or B I've been there, do you know [insert place in your town]

How long have you lived there?

All the time if its a single male (and even if its not) they are listening out for a mention of a boyfriend and more pressingly a sign of if the boyfriend is with them. If the boyfriend is with them then the above questions will be asked with a distracted air and the directions and advice will be given with much less depth. Whatever, the successful completion of this conversation is an unspoken invitation to sit and talk to you whenever they see you around. It doesn't matter if you are reading, or using your netbook (everyone in hostels has one nowadays, even retards). There is nothing you can do about this. If you have had hostel chat, your are their hostel friend.

If you want to avoid this conclusion. You must kill it dead at Q1

Q1. When did you arrive?

You: What! Who knows I've arrived? – shit! – open your Netbook at this point (keep it with you at all times such occasions) and frantically start typing. Shit shit shit! I'm sorry – I've got to send this now. Keep typing until they go away. If they try to speak to you, gesture an apology with your hand and one minute with your finger. With luck, news will spread amongst the other guests that you are weird and probably dangerous, they will speculate on your back ground, motivations and next move, you'll be a conversation boon – no one will talk to you but they'll take about you. In fact this is what they will fill in the conversation void that is ever present between hostel friends post hostel chat. The rest of the time they will just be exchanging the names of cheap places to eat, travel, stay, drink and obviously sights they visited and took pictures of themselves next to. Bare in mind if you complete the hostel chat then these pictures will be foisted upon you over breakfast no matter how unwilling your words and body language.

An optional extra for those who don't want to take any chances is to wear dark sunglasses at all times, inside and outside, morning, afternoon, evening and in bed. This won't make you look any more dangerous or weird, it's just even hostel chat artists will be able to recognise you as a prick.

Dedicated to back packers, hosteliers and Australia – for a country with such strict immigration controls you emigrants prevalence around the world is quite fantastic.

The God Illusion

He felt sick, the moment he went into the cathedral there were people there, people with feelings, people that you would not trust your younger cousins with.

One has to go into cathedrals only when you have a girlfriend who’s Catholic. Well not only then, sometimes you go when you’re visiting Eastern Europe. You go because you have to, it’s in the rulebook of tourism. Go to the castle, or to the big church or go to the Jewish Quarter. All because if you don’t, you’ll have cultural void that will be silently mocked by every halfwit who’s been, done it and Facebooked it.

You went to Prague

Yeah

Wasn’t the castle amazing

I didn’t go to the castle (I played fussball instead)

What?! You didn’t see the castle…

No

Oh

It’s amazing

Yeah, I gather they have some very pleasant stained glass windows

Yeah – they’re amazing

It was sometime around the period of which Tobermory was visiting his 17th big church in Eastern Europe that he realised that he didn’t really enjoy walking to or walking around big churches. So he stopped.

This made absolutely no difference when he met his Polish girlfriend. She was proper Catholic. She wouldn’t even sleep with him. Every now and again she let him touch her tits. They were nice tits, but they were no substitute for coming. Or being inside her in general, he assumed but did not know.

The Problem was God. He was the unwanted third party in their relationship. He needed to cut him out. He knew it early on as the hand of chastity swooped again as he groped her inner thigh. She moved it to her waist where there was no pleasure to be gained.

The trouble with God is that he doesn’t speak much. He is just there; omnipotent, ruining everything.

Marry me and you will get your wish

Erm

He made a move for her boob but her hand forbid it

I’m going shopping on Sunday and won’t have time for confessions.

It’s that kind of god-logic that you can’t argue with.

He started reading the God Delusion to give him some populist academic rhetoric to fight Him with.

It was no use in arguing with God though, he is most unreasonable and always unwilling to take his leave.

She was sleeping when he left for work. Fiolek slept soundly, it would be rude and cruel to wake such a beautiful creature. When he got to work he discovered that school was closed because it was a bank holiday that he’d forgotten about. He took the tube back home in a euphoric mood, no work and an opportunity to spend the whole day dry humping. Maybe she’d agree to let him finger her today. The sun was shining life was good.

The tube arrived exactly as he walked onto the station. There was one seat free with today’s Independent resting on it. There was an amusing cartoon on the back. Everyone it seemed had taken to depicting David Cameron as a condom head. This pleased Tobermory. A man asked him for some change on the way home. He gave him everything he had.

He decided to enter his home silently, he would surprise her.

He opened the door as she was getting violently fucked from behind.

God had never been there, except as a convenient illusion. Catholics are all the same

Dedicated to The Pope, my hero.

Self Loathing In Leyton

So he hated tall people, short people, people who liked music he didn’t and people dressed in clothes he wouldn’t wear. He hated people who walked too slowly. He hated people in hats. He hated hipsters, he hated trust funders,East London burlesque nightsand new folk music. He hated it when he needed to piss in the morning when it was too cold to get of bed. He hated his girlfriend. He hated Radiohead fans, he hated Lars Von Trier, he hated yoghurts and nuts. He literally hated people who used the word literally. He hated people who hated too many things. He hated pretension. Mostly though he hated people who wrote short stories. On the whole though he considered himself an optimist.

He considered how clichd he was and got depressed. He considered it clich to feel this way and so before he imploded he went for a shit and then for a wank in the bath. Talking crudely was a clich as well so he started a new paragraph.

The more he wrote the more he hated it. He read what he wrote after. He hated it. Someday he swore he would change. But in the meantime he hated that thought. Change for the sake of change. He looked down at his shoes. They were plimsolls – what a nob head. He went over to his CD collection to find some music that would cheer him up. All he found was more proof that he was a Dickhead (copyright[1]).

Slumped on the couch he considered his options. He thought long and hard, but came up with nothing. Leave the country? It won’t help, he’ll still like the same fucking books. He’d just be him but in Poland or somewhere; basically the same but with more homophobia and less possibility for a quick and easy abortion Still tell the same anecdotes, makegirls like him in the same way,(for six months,usually)his stories were finite – his social value short term.


[1] http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=being+a+dickhead+is+cool&aq=f

The Perils Of Using Other People's Computers

Sebastian is sitting on the couch in Tobermory’s flat trying to remember what it was he was meant to do that afternoon. Tobermory meanwhile is preparing a sandwich in the kitchen

Sebastian: Can I borrow your laptop for a sec please?

Tobermory: Yeah no worries it’s in my room on my bed I think.

A few moments pass and Sebastian returns with the laptop and sets it down on the table next to the couch, opens it up and switches it on. The Windows start up jingle sounds up normally as the computer loads. Eventually the mouse icon appears and Sebastian clicks on Microsoft explorer. Nothing happens so Sebastian tries again. Bemused but not concerned Sebastian tries Firefox. When he moves the mouse a strange white line moving from left to right appears leaving a grey horizontal trail behind it on the screen like graffiti. He tries moving the mouse but it has now frozen. Hmm that’s note ideal says Sebastian under his breath. Next he tries pressing escape then control alt delete twice but both times to no avail, he then attempts again to move the mouse while clicking randomly to equally negligible visible effect. …

Sebastian: Errr, Tobe - something has gone wrong with your computer it’s like errr frozen or something and won’t respond.

Tobermory :Frozen? What do you mean it won’t respond?

Sebastian: Well look, the mouse won’t move and this strange white line has appeared across the screen.

Tobermory Have you tried pressing escape or control alt delete?

Sebastian: Yes - twice it didn’t respond.

Tobermory: Move out of the way for a second I’m going to try something.

Sebastian gets up and Tobermory sits down, presses escape and then control alt-delete-repeatedly, each time with more urgency than the last . Predictably nothing changes except Sebastian has the realisation that Tobermory thinks he is incapable of pressing control alt delete correctly.

Sebastian: See?

[If I could explain why the text size enlarges now in such an irritating fashion then maybe I’d be able to fix it – but I can’t so live with it]

Tobermory: hmm -

Tobermory turns it off then 5 seconds later turns it on again. The screen remains blank for 10 seconds until the dreaded grey horizontal line from earlier appears again. The rest of the screen however remains black. Worryingly the computer; sounding like it’s working on the answer to life the universe and everything is making whirring and clicking sounds and it’s green LED is flickering frantically. Tobermory’s mood grows darker.Tobermory: What did you do to it?!Sebastian: Nothing, I just turned it on and clicked on explorer

Tobermory: Itnever does this to me when I turn it on. Did you drop it on the way in here?

Sebastian: No

Tobermory: Did you put it down heavily, like you know; with a thump?

Sebastian: No

Tobermory: I don’t mind if you did, you can tell me, I won’t be annoyed. I’d just rather know that’s all

Sebastian: No, honestly - I just picked it up, put it down carefully, turned it on and clicked on Explorer.

Tobermory: Hmm…..Did you spill water on it?

Sebastian: NO! Look I didn’t drop it, put it down heavily with a “you know - thump”, I didn’t spill water on it and I wasn’t downloading porn, I simply put it down, turned it on and clicked on explorer then it did this. I’m sorry this has happened but that is all I did Okay?

Tobermory: I never mentioned anything about downloading porn. Were you downloading porn? I’ve told you not to do that for precisely this reason…

Sebastian: It was just an example, Tobermory, of one of the myriad of things, that I know you’re thinking I might have done to it that I didn’t. Now for the last time, I wasn’t downloading porn or doing anything unusual; dropping anything, spilling anything - I just turned it on and clicked on explorer.

Tobermory: Okay okay, I’m just saying that its strange that’s all – I’ve turned it on 1000 times and it’s been fine. Admit it – it’s a bit strange yeah?

Sebastian: Yes it’s strange, odd, and maybe even bizarre but it’s true, now please shut up before I am forced to punch you in the face

Tobermory pauses then thinks better of it and goes to find his phone. He returns a few moments later cursing.

Tobermory: My phones dead, can I borrow yours to ring the Dell Helpline?

Sebastian throws him his phone, Tobermory, caught by surprise only manages to push it into the space in front of him before at the second attempt his clutching right arm knocks it to the floor with a clatter; the battery, back of the phone and sim card go their separate ways. Tobermory looks at Sebastian with a grimacing smile. They piece the phone back together and while it looks fine, it stubbornly refuses to switch on nor respond. After a couple of minutes they give up and silently chain smoke

They remain friends , but to this day Tobermory solemnly refuses to allow Tobermory to even touch his laptop meanwhile Sebastian as revenge has started a cricket team which Tobermory wouldn’t be allowed to join were he to want to

Love In the Time Of Facebook (the beginning)

THE FLAT

The fridge became redundant in the winter. They were on pay as you go gas but no one ever went nor paid when the cost of heating became plain 4 days into winter, 6 days after they moved in. It was generally accepted that winter always came at the wrong time. It was freezing outside and often colder in the house. Milk and yoghurts therefore could be kept anywhere. Showers however, were hell but could be put off until spring when it was silently presumed that someone would crack, go and pay. Old people die in the cold houses, but they weren’t old so they smoked more instead. Some of the more resourceful bought vitamin pills. Nobody gave much thought to buying gas.

It was a new flat, at least it was redecorated before they moved in. The walls were a fresh dirty white, the chairs in a box and the brand new couch was hideous. For six days they lived without mugs. Drinking from tupperwear and plastic bottles. Then Maria’s parents gave the house some old cups. For 2 days they drank from cups.

Then, gradually all the cups became ashtrays and they drank from tupperwear again.

Until very recently they had made tea by frying water and ladling it into a tupper wear, a pet bottle or during the days when they had cups, cups. Now they made tea by boiling water in a pan. They talked about getting a kettle but no one ever did. It was that kind of house, temporary and unwanted. All expenditure on fixed communal items was resented like a cleft lip.

The landlord had provided them with a table for the kitchen and some chairs. The table had potential so did the chairs but they were flat packed. Nobody had a screwdriver, nobody knew anyone with a screw driver and nobody was inclined to buy a screwdriver so they put everything up without any screws. It was a hollow victory for short-termism. The table and chair’s limited potential was never to be realized consequently everything and everyone in the kitchen rested at all times precariously. Broken shards of glass steadily began to saturate the floor soon after the table’s erection, soon after still the residents brought slippers.

Rats came on the 4th week. At least that was when they were discovered. Heard at night but never seen in the day they avoided the glue traps. Sawdust was found by the door by the bite marks that Maria said suggested badger rather than rat. Maria stopped sleeping and started writing shit poetry to compensate.

Sometimes friends came round to analyse the milk. Why’ve you got 4 litres of milk that expired in November in here. And what’s that wine bottle with the fag end in it doing in there?

SEBASTIAN AND THE JOURNEY TO WORK

At least when you live in a cold house during a cold winter, milk left out doesn’t go bad very quickly. Sebastian considered this as he picked the dregs of three separate empty packets of tobacco that had been lying on the kitchen table. There was enough for one thin and short one. Pleased by his improvisation he smiled and lit it. His pleasure was short lived; ashing into a half empty mug of rotting tea he wobbled on the chair they hadn’t screwed together properly for lack of a screwdriver and was only able to regain his balance by putting his hand in something sticky on the equally unstable table. As a result the table top tipped just enough to send a tea spoon onto the frozen linoleum floor.

Sebastian sat back into his chair looking at the dirty teaspoon in disgust then after three inhalations he dropped his cigarette in the rotted mug, picked up his bag and left the flat.

Sebastian was in a relationship of nearly a year. It was his longest ever. All he ever thought about was how to get himself dumped and whether or not he would have sex with girls that crossed his vision. After he had decided that he would have sex with someone he saw he imagined having sex with them. He always imagined them with him on top them with their legs over his shoulders. This troubled him somewhat. Was he a misogynist? He tried to imagine them on top but the default was always him on top, legs on shoulders.

I would fuck you, you would but I reckon you’ve got very tangled pubic hair.

She was about forty five and wide around the sides. She had a short brown bob that just touched her shoulders, her face was thin and 20 years ago probably quite attractive. She touched her Oyster and it failed. Tom cursed her silently as he waited.

He tapped his Oyster. 30p remaining; he would need to top up later. Scanning the bus for girls he would fuck, a girl, presumably Indian with collagen in her lips sat reading the metro near the back. He sat in the seat next to her. This was okay he reasoned, because there were no other sets of seats that weren’t taken by at least one person.

I would definitely fuck her and she would definitely fuck me

She was reading about a polar bear that had attacked a fat woman who had climbed into a polar bear enclosure at Berlin zoo. The pictures indicated that it was all her fault. Tom took Crime And Punishment from his bag. He was reading it because he wanted to be well read.

The bus took a long time, it was 8.34 in the morning and traffic was slow. Crime And Punishment wasn’t going anywhere quickly. The girl was now reading about Amy Winehouse’s court appearance.

The bus reached Tom’s stop and he got off and walked to work.

I would fuck you

I would probably fuck you.

I would fuck you

I would fuck you

Urgh I would definitely not fuck you even though you clearly want to get fucked soon.

Tom arrived at work.

ALEXANDER AND CRITICISM

I fucking hate the Killers

A sensible position. The only position some might say. However Alexander’s credibility was undermined by his loathing of everything produced since he picked up a guitar. That was in 1993. It allowed him the Smiths but barred Blur.

He was very good with the guitar but his band were terrible. He was attractive though so all his spouses listened reverentially to his opinions.

The problem is that when everyone you know is in a band, some of them have to be rubbish. No – most of them have to be rubbish. The problem is when you like them as people. They are nice and good natured, very good at their instrument. But still rubbish. Everyone knows the euphemisms for rubbishness when they hear them. This is particularly the case when everyone they know is in a rubbish band as well.

Alexander pretended not to know but deep down he definitely did.

MARIA AND THE PENSIONER

Maria had long straight brown hair and eyes that you couldn’t look into for long. Her clothes always suited her figure and her way of sitting always attracted attention.

If men want to see my vagina let them see it. Philanthropy is a dying art.

Maria was loved. But only by all those she didn’t love. She loved people until they loved her. Life was tricky, but she came easily so it wasn’t that bad.

Most of her friends had slept with her. Most of them were in love with her. That was their problem. Her boyfriend said he loved her but didn’t. She knew this and so hey remained relatively happy. On the nights he wasn’t with her he fucked someone else. He repeated himself, but none of his victims heard anything twice. He was fond of Maria though; she was almost as attractive as he was.

Maria looked delicate but was brutal. She could dissect everyman’s intentions from two sentences. She met a man at a house party, he was called George.

Oh you live in East London. Me too!

He wants to meet for drinks and then have sex with me.

Lets go for drinks sometime…

As I thought.

Yes lets

He looks like the sort who will pay.

They did have drinks, he did pay and they did have sex. He took her number and texted her twice afterwards. She looked at the texts. He loved her too much.

The old guy next door’s wife had died and didn’t speak to many people. His face sagged and everything he said bored people. People pitied him but still avoided him. That wasn’t very difficult however as he left the house only to go to the post office on Tuesdays to collect his pension.

One day Maria took a lot of coke and decided she would go and keep him company.

She rang the doorbell, sure that this was the best idea that she had ever had. He opened the door with his mouth open. Thick white spittle was stuck in the corners. He hadn’t spoken to a human that wasn’t a post office clerk for more than 3 weeks. It was 8pm when Maria arrived beaming gormlessly.

Hello

Hello

What do you want?

I just thought I would POP by and say hello see how you are…

The old man, who was called Gus studied her for a moment.

You have never POPPED by before, why now?

Maria lost a little of her idiotic composure

I just thought thaaa….

You just thought you’d taketoo many fucking drugs and thought you would talk to that sad bastard charity case of an old fuck next door for a laugh didn’t you?

Errr

Gus shut the door, Maria went back to her flat

BOOKS AND DUKE

Duke looked around at their sparsely decorated flat. There was nothing on the wall. The wall was white. Maybe dirty Patagonia. Some of the dirty Patagonia had come off with blue tack in some earlier age.

Was Patagonia a place? Duke wondered aloud.

If it was, was it dirty white and if not why was the color of his walls named after it. He resolved to Google it when the neighbors next turned on their wireless. This was usually between the hours of 6pm and 11pm . That was a long time away and when the time came he had completely forgotten and instead went on Facebook where he became absorbed in looking at the pictures of the girls he had befriended in cafs recently and less recently.

Duke often hung in cafes; sure that the book he was reading held the key. That is, the key to sleeping with the girls. Nobody was quite sure where he got this belief from, but some put it down to his lack of sexual activity in childhood, when he couldn’t distinguish between a good book and a John Grisham. They suspected that he had calculated that his sexual activity was inversely related to the number of crime thrillers he was reading. Extrapolating from that, he came to the conclusion that books, books that suggested depth of personality and breeding can substitute for personality.

He was always on the lookout. Looking out over his book. He had been carrying around 100 years of Solitude for a month now. He’d had a conversation about Columbian authors with a nice old man but it didn’t lead to anything except the mutual understanding that Duke hadn’t read any other Columbian writer.

It had been 6 months since he’d last been on a date. It hadn’t gone well. The last of his self respect left him as he looked after her bags while his love interest threw herself at a half wit in a hat. Troubled but not worried he had gone through the dictionary on his phone learning new words. She would come back to him. And she did about 45 minute later to collect her stuff. She was going to an "afterparty". It was clear though that the after party would involve just her, the man and the hat. Duke took his leave and went. He was a little despondent on the way back. She would see sense – he read Huxley, the other guy, he just had a hat. Sustained on this evidence short assumption he thought about new books to read in cafes. Having toyed with The Trial he had eventually settled on Huckleberry Finn by the time he got home. The inner child, a risqu sense of abandon, a nave romantic – this is what he thought it suggested.

It hadn’t worked, next came Tender Is the Night, that got him Amelia, but she deleted him after his first message. After the initial success of Amelia he persisted for months with F. Scott Fitzgerald but to no avail and eventually he switched to 100 years of Solitude with an equal lack of success. It was time to change book or maybe, duke considered, it was time to change tack completely.

THE HOUSE PARTY

They listened to dire straits they, enjoyed it ostentatiously but secretly earnestly. Their facial hair suggested undesirable hobbies. They had hobbies. That were occupations . They made money, took plant fertilizer.

Maria was downstairs shagging the man who had looked like he was the best shag.

Sebastian was making lines of methadrone for the crowd. He had brought in bulk recently at a very low cost. He looked generous. It was all conceited. People gave him coke in return. It was a plan well played.

The group had become friends more or less by default. The one thing they all had in common was that nobody would wish the sofa upon anybody. Its style was akin to the couch that your grandparents’ gave your parents during the recession and then thrown out with the election of New Labor.

The music was good, everybody had good shoes. Everybody in Hackney does. Even if they don’t always have gas.

There were at least 4 people in love with each other at the party. They were all with people they weren’t in love with. So it all went unsaid.

The neighbors were lesbians and Spanish so it was thought that they would be understanding about the noise. The neighbors meanwhile were readying their noise pollution writ.

Scattered around the room lay cans. One pound a can, six for five pound. There was a warehouse party next door that was neglected. They should have used it for then the neighbors would have been less pissed off, but still probably lesbian.

There was a man in on the couch. His phone rang sometimes, It did not wake him up. The strangers in the kitchen ate cereal. One was for sure a lazy lover. His eyes gave it away. They woman he was with knew as much. She has the look of an a person in need. Very dynamic; She got lots of things done but never got done properly.

In East London everybody is a dj. Most people are in bands. Nobody calls their parents often enough. People found warmth wherever they could. Some people used curtains some people sat on the radiator, some people stole clothes, everybody else just smoked.

Someone opened the curtains. It got cold. Someone closed them again. It was agreed that no-one would open the curtains again

The curtains themselves were quite rank. But it was generally agreed that the party was a success.

Self and Loathing Afterwork in London

He noticed her when she came in because she’d looked quite good from behind. Later he noticed her because she was sat straight in front of him.

Nursing a glass of win and Iphone she’d unsuccessfully been trying to occupy herself. Now and then she lifted her drink to her lips to sip nothing from her glass that remained full. An unobservant observer may even have mistook her for someone that hadn't been waiting nearly an hour for their date.

Every now and then she seemed to receive calls, but the suspicious among them doubted if they were calls at all. Why isn’t their an IPhone app for that. One can throw imaginary paper into a basket but one can’t find someone to talk to when they are waiting alone with cheap white wine. Maybe there is an Iphone application, maybe that’s who she was talking to.

Next to Sebastian sat a collection of people in their twenties, they were having a conversation that at least 11,000 people in their twenties were having at exactly the same time.

Sebastion went outside and looked at the people walking past. His colleague was a non smoker which was lucky because conversation had been a struggle and the smoking area represented respite . It wasn’t his colleagues’ fault; he’d lost the will to live quite a long time ago. He certainly made better company than those other souls he worked with who hadn’t lost will to live but had no obvious reason to go on living

Outside things started badly and Sebastian learnt about the housing market

"If John can afford to get on the ladder in Stoke Newington then surely Jo can"

Sebastion decided to move to the corner of the smoking area.

"We never get hungover because we are always drunk"

Sebastion left the smoking area and sat next to his colleague. He sat in silence for five seconds before explaining that his non-existent girlfriend was waiting for him. One of the many good reasons for not knowing your colleagues very well is that it allows a far larger array of excuses than would otherwise be possible. Upon leaving, Sebastian went to the supermarket where he stole a pen so he could write everything down on the bus.

Someone who was reading the story over Sebastion’s shoulder commented that the ending was shit, so sebastian went straight to pornotube when he got home tin order to end with a bang.

Tobermory And The Last Taboo

Tobermory was brooding. He looked neither happy nor well. His gaze was fixed into the distance while his fingers fiddled with a toothpick absentmindedly. Even Sebastian had noticed that he lacked his usually furtiveness.

“Are you okay old goat?” The whimsical half hearted nature of Sebastian’s enquiry was not lost on Tobermory.

Tobermory removed his stare from the non-descript goings on of the street in the window and looked his friend squarely in the eye ” I’m Dandy; Swell; On top of the world; Never felt better. Oh if this isn’t heaven what is”.

“Enough I get it, something’s up – I can see you’ve lost that light in your eye; the Tobermoryju de vivre, something has upset your waters”Said Sebastian, apparently refusing to take the matter with the seriousness Tobermory would have liked but not expected.

“Good of you to notice, one sometimes thinks that you observe only the food placed in front of you, the girls you’re sleeping with and the girls you want to sleep with”. Sebastian, clearly a little taken aback at his friend’s frosty analysis of his character, felt obliged defend himself.

“That’s not fair, I’m pretty well up on the Baltic crises that’s-a-brewing; if you thought that would be the last you’d be hearing of the Russo Georgian crises and the South Ossetian independence movement then you’d be wrong. I know that West Ham are well set for another season free from European aspirations as well as relegation worries...” . Tobermory looked away in resignation, conceding that his intended point was well missed. Sebastian sensing as much, turned triumphantly back to the topic at hand ‘... AND I can see something or someone’s stolen your mojo”

“Alright then….” Began Tobermory, but before he could finish, a man wearing a giant sign proclaiming

“CHINESE BANQUET 5 ALL YOU CAN EAT ====} THIS WAY” shuffled past the window of the pub, catching Sebastian’s attention.

“He should really take the sign off, or at least conceal the directions it instructs when he’s on the move’. Tobermory turned around forgetting momentarily his worries and ill health to see the source of Sebastian’s interest. “The Banquet his attire speaks of, unless a portable banquet, which I think we can safely rule out, can’t be That Way at every turn and step on his off-duty journey”. Tobermory turned back and returned to introspection. Sebastian was truly a useless confidante. He continued, oblivious to the expression that told of malignant disinterest in the plight of potential Chinese buffet customers as well as the apparent lack of professionalism among sign wearers’ nowadays, plastered across Tobermory’s face. “Somebody could get sorely disappointed if they follow his clothes instruction – who knows where they could end up”. Due to the lack of anything else to think about Tobermory considered this and imagined that at worst they would end up no further than walking distance from their intended target.

“You do know that you have the attention span of humming bird don’t you?”
“My step mother always said a sieve” Sebastian stopped to correct himself. “No, a broken siv with giant holes” – Tobermory remained silent but inwardly adjusted his opinion of Sebastian’s step mother whom he’d never previously held in much esteem. “She isn’t usually much of a wit but on the topic of my mental deficiencies she has always excelled herselfwith out ofcharacter lucidity”. Sebastian, far from taking offence at his Stepmothers soliloquies on the subject of his character had always found them reassuring; they were one of the few signs of hope as far as he was concerned that his farther hadn’t married an utter moron. “Is a humming bird an improvement on a broken sieve? If so; thank you. If not I will inform my step mother; she will surely be pleased to have found a superior analogy.”

Tobermory’s eyes glazed over as his usual placidity overtook him. “Where do you want to go for sustenance tonight?”

Sebastian thought for moment, observed his surroundings; a North London Pub.
“When inRome…”
Tobermory reached for the slightly tatty menu that was slotted between the salt and pepper shakers on the table where they were sitting “Thai food it is then”.

A week later and Tobermory and Sebastian were sitting together again, though this time Tobermory’s troubles had manifested themselves even more in his physical appearance than the previous week.

Tobermory looked much worse than this fellow

What the devil is troubling you?” asked Sebastian with a conviction that took Tobermory by surprise. “On reflection, it may surprise you but I do sometimes reflect you know. I think I may have behaved a little insensitively the other week, what with your problems and my sign bearer tangent. So tell me - you are my friend after all, I care. What’s troubling you.”

“If you keep with that sort of tone you, won’t be my friend for much longer but as a one-off sentiment suppose I can let it pass”
“Agreed; a sentence like ‘I am your friend – I care’ should never be uttered aloud in any society pertaining to be civilised” “But before we lose sight of the issue – you are clearly unwell; now that I look closely you look awfully pale and jaded... and god; the bags around your eye” Tobermory had wanted concern but a full breakdown of the physical deformities his troubles had caused were not the medicine he sought and it induced about an uncharacteristic outburst.

“Yeah I get it I’m not looking my best” Tobermory was rattled and it rattled Sebastian to see his usually placid friend rattled so. “If you had my troubles you wouldn’t look like a Greek goddess either”. Sebastian had never seen his unflappable friend lose his composure before.

“Spit it out then” said Sebastian thinking it best to be blunt; Tobermory’s disdain for the wetness of tact was well known. “What or who has shaken your cage? Because something clearly has”.

“It’s my new house”

“Eh?” Sebastian had looked around said house when Tobermory had wanted a second opinion; the price and the desperation of the owners to sell had given him the feeling there was something too good to be true about the whole transaction. Sebastian remembered giving his unwavering approval. He had even mocked Tobermory for his paranoia after Tobermory had his friend in the police run a background check on the neighbours and neighbourhood. As it transpired, there was a very good reason why the former residents of number56 Turnbill Lanehad wanted to leave; it was just that Tobermory hadn’t the imagination to foresee it.

“Well not specifically the house itself – its still spacious and well located, but to what and whom is in the proximity of it”

Buy the album now...

“Ahh the neighbours! Exclaimed Sebastian with glee; he thought he understood. “Anti social, playing loud music till obscene hours in the morning do they…?. Tricky” Sebastian’s sarcasm was tangible; he knew this type of situation well. He had been on the other side of the fence as the anti-social neighbour for the duration of his adult life. As a consequence he knew inside out and back to front the machinations of The Environmental Health Department’s procedure which Tobermory would need to embark upon. “Okay, the first thing you should do is buy a video camera and gather together a dossier of irrefutable evidence. Meanwhile, you should befriend the other neighbours who will undoubtedly feel the same as you do. Then - and only then - when you have sufficient evidence call the Environmental Health Department of the local council.” Visibly buoyed that for once he was in the apparently position of being able to give practical advice on a domestic matter, Sebastian drew on his cigarette and continued unabated by Tobermory’s passivity, basking wistfully in the nostalgic memory of his multiple altercations with the EHD. “They have no mercy and possess all the party spirit of Mary Whitehouse – they will be on your side….trust me”. Tobermory waited patiently while Sebastian continued with his useless but sincere advice. “It’ll take about two months but you’ll either get them to stop or get them evicted” Sebastian had only experience of the latter but presumed that the former must occur occasionally.

It was then that Sebastian was hit with a bout of morality. “I can’t say I wont be more than a little disappointed in you, should you choose the course of action I am advocating”.Tobermory was non-plussed; he knew it was irrelevant but was partially enjoying the vigour Sebastian was showing in his response to the ills he was suffering, even if they were imaginary. “Can’t you just befriend the offenders and join in?”. Sebastian reasoned that if it had upset Tobermory this much then it must be seriously good party. Sebastian paused to contemplate the illusionary party he had conjured in his mind.

“Are you finished?” Tobermory asked with vim belying the physical fatigue and mental numbness he was feeling.

“What? Sorry.” Sebastian had drifted off into a happy trance in contemplation of the non-existent party.
“I’m afraid you have got the nature of the beast all wrong” rained Tobermory upon Sebastian's parade.
“How so?” Sebastian’s was confused, the delusion of the riotous neighbours holding parties of astonishing magnitude had been all but fixed in his mind.
“A 24hr disco containing nothing but crystal meth heads competing for the world record of biggest noise violation would be like play-dough compared to what I’m suffering” Sebastian appeared to re-enact the scene Tobermory had depicted but clearly could not comprehend.

“Are you familiar with Down’s syndrome?”

“Er, yeah” This threw Sebastian; how were noisy neighbours and riotous parties in anyway connected to Down’s Syndrome?
“And trampolines?”
“Yes I know what a trampoline is” Sebastian exclaimed indignantly, but was still none the wiser to his friend’s problem.

Trampoline + Happy Child + Energy = Noise

“Well can you imagine a Down’s kid and a trampoline in proximity to one another and the inevitable outcome – Down’s kid on trampoline bouncily gaily, having arguably the time of his life.” Sebastian was about to interject but Tobermory continued before he could start. “Now consider the sound emitted by such a situation”

Sebastian tried to but it was beyond him – it was not his field.

“And this kid really loves his trampoline and he has unlimited access to it day and night” Tobermory took a second to inhale on his cigarette as Sebastian frowned attempting to picture the scene.

“I could attempt to reproduce for you the sound, though my imitation would be both offensive and inadequate – basically it’s a combination clapping, yelping and squeaking of the trampoline which, endured for a sufficient period would bringGuantanamoBay prisoners to their knees in half the time white noise, water boarding or Metallica ever could”.

Sebastian didn’t know what to say. Tobermory was a lefty to the bone and his current tone was the wrong side of borderline acceptable; complaining about special needs was a taboo that even Tories shied away from – it was off the political spectrum. Tobermory was undoubtedly aware of this and so Sebastian kept his thoughts to himself and as a consequence was for once lost for words.

“From sunrise to sunset clapping and yelping” Tobermory shivered at the thought
“You know when you get a melody stuck in your head and it won’t leave even when it’s awful”

“Yeah - I inexplicably had “Why does it always rain on me” for nearly six months Sebastian recalled the torment and embarrassment it caused him with dismay. Travis, in spite of what their 4 songs at Live 8 might suggest were about as cool as cargo pants at that time.

“Yeah well I have that the clapping and the yelping, it echoes in my head almost constantly, I can hear it now”. For Tobermory, who was a Concert Pianist by trade and music aesthete it must be especially grueling, thought Sebastian.

“Doesn’t he... Don’t they go to school?” Sebastian enquired for no particular purpose – if the Kid went to school then Tobermory wouldn’t be in this terrible condition and they wouldn’t be sat having this conversation.

“Home-schooled – and by all accounts that apparently involves nothing but trampoline practice” Tobermory explained with obvious bitterness and a shake of the head. “Oh and the beast’s a boy by the way” Sebastian frowned at his friends terminology “I’m sorry I’m just at the end of my tether”

Sebastian thought for a moment “You looked around the house, THREE TIMES, if it was really so loud and annoying how did we not notice it, once maybe you were unlucky but THREE times… surely you would have noticed something” T smiled ruefully.

“He has dinner at exactly6pmevery day, you can set your watch by it” Sebastian didn’t care for watches but he knew what his friend meant. “Luck had nothing to do with it”

“Clever”. Now that he mentioned it, Sebastian did recall being bustled out of said house rather abruptly on account of what had seemed at the time an innocent need for the former owners to keep a dinner appointment inGuildford. In retrospect their motive was obviously more sinister.

“Machiavellian cuntishness is how I’d describe it”

“Can’t you just play music and drown him out?” Sebastian suggested knowing full well the answer as he spoke

“I told you, its all through the day, exactly the hours when I sleep - you know I’m nocturnal” Tobermory had had a inexplicable phobia of ear plugs since childhood and Sebastian knew as much so didn’t bother to suggest it. “I’ve barely slept in nearly 2 weeks” That explains your diabolical appearance thought Sebastian ” I had to sleep on Jo’s couch the other week when I wanted to be fresh, or not entirely numbed with sleep deprivation for a job interview”.

“Why don’t you just try to talk to the them and explain the problem” The stupidity of Sebastian’s suggestion caused Tobermory’s eyes to bulge in their sockets..

“And tell them what? ‘Excuse me but your retarded kid’s only real pleasure irritates me, could you please take it away from him’? Explain to me how you would broach that subject. You know – with tact and decency….” Tobermory had run the scenario through his head a hundred times – it was impossible, Sebastian did so at that moment, albeit in less detail and came to the same conclusion.

“Have you spoken to the other neighbours, surely they must be allies”
“They are deaf and senile” The elderly man next door had had to adjust his hearing aid just to allow Tobermory to introduce himself when he had called round. Tobermory had realised then that he was in it alone.

“Oh” Sebastian was beginning to understand the depth of his friend’s problem.

“Its still a nice place and a good location, you should just try to get used to it” Sebastian remembered a recent article he’d read on the Guardian website about experiments which had shown that if you wear glasses that turn everything you see upside down then after 48 hours you start to see the world the right way again.

This struck Tobermory as perfectly ridiculous “Come to my house tomorrow afternoon and you will understand”

Sebastian came the next day, heard the clapping, yelping and creaking and immediately understood the gravity of Tobermory’s plight.

A few days later Tobermory and Sebastian met again, and again Tobermory’s appearance had deteriorated still further. Gaunt, pale and with a look of solitude about him which in another time might have spoken of a long battle with scurvy, rough seas and the Kraken, Tobermory greeted his friend. Any doctor would have justly assumed him a crack-head by appearance but Sebastian knew that it was neither crack nor the perils of high seas – merely the unfortunate clash of trampolines and special needs with his friend’s unusual sleeping habits that lay at the root of his ills.

“The situation has not improved then” Sebastian guessed, like a man looking at a cross-word clue with of the 13 of the 14 letters of “stupid question” in place.
Tobermory was too fatigued to mock the obviousness of his friend’s question. “Its still awful yes”. He looked down forlornly “I haven’t adapted, learnt to ignore or acquiesce – I live in a very modern hell”. Tobermory wore the face of broken man. As he replaced his pint after taking a feeble sip, Sebastian noticed that his friend’s hand trembled; it appeared he barely had the strength to nourish himself.

“Is it not discriminatory how Down’s Syndrome or any other form of special needs is almost absent in literature except for the occasional mention of the odd dwarf or freak show” said Sebastian in a doomed effort to make conversation.

“I’d never thought nor cared before, and I don’t now” Tobermory had neither the strength nor will to engage with his friend. He looked down, looked at his pint, where he lingered for a moment while considering whether it was worth the effort to have another sip before deciding against and reaching for his cigarettes instead.

Sebastian watched in dismay. His friend, previously so sharp of mind and swift of action was reduced to actually requiring time to contemplate basic bodily actions.

Sebastian resolved at that moment to do everything he could to help end his friend’s plight and rectify this crisis, as much for selfish reasons as for compassionate. Sebastian was indifferent at best to most people he met, was bored by the majority of people’s conversation and was definitely unwilling to spend any time finding a new best friend if he could help it.

“You need to play hardball”
“’Hardball?’ – what are you,John Maddennow – who the fuck says hardball”
“Whatever – play tough, you know what I mean”
“Okay Madden” The amusement Tobermory derived from his friend’s unseemly foray into American business English lexicon temporarily lifted his spirits “What do you suggest?”

“Get rid of the trampoline” Sebastian had clearly forgotten all his previous misgivings about the ethics of the problem.

Tobermory stared blankly at Sebastian.

“You heard me – get rid of the trampoline. Break it, steal it… I don’t know – burn it – just get rid of it” Sebastian paused to light his cigarettes and then continued. “Trampolines cost a lot of money, they are not easy to come by, you knock it out of operation, and it’ll earn you respite for a while at least - maybe even forever”

“I’m not burning a special needs kid’s Trampoline!”
“I’m not suggesting YOU do it.” Sebastian looked at his friend for recognition of his insinuation. Tobermory, gaunt and slow of mind did not comprehend.
“Get someone else to do it” Sebastian looked his friend, his blue eyes darkening.
“What?!” Tobermory considered this for moment “I don’t know anyone who would be willing to steal or commit arson upon payment”, Tobermory thought some more – “and I doubt you do either, we are frightfully middle class you know – small time weed dealers, ten a penny – professional thieves and arsonists, no”

“I know people” Sebastian looked at Tobermory with a look that was meant to convey authority but would only have inspired skepticism and mockery had anyone with all their mental faculties in tact been in attendance. Nobody with these characteristics however was present.
“Jesus”. Tobermory’s contemptuous exclamation hid his interest in Sebastian’s plan; the appalling standard of living he was currently experiencing had significantly dulled his analytical prowess and he was currently suggestible to any plan that would rid him of the clapping, squeaking and yelping, no matter how obviously stupid.

“I understand your hypothesis however your K dealer is a, errr… shady character, no?”

Sebastian’s K dealer was indeed a shady character. He had met Oggy stumbling home alongHolloway Roadat5am. Oggy had followed him off the N91 night-bus, rightly assuming that he was a middle class university student, wrongly assuming that he had any possessions worth stealing. He had shadowed him for 5 minutes before asserting that the coast was clear and attempted to mug him. Sebastian had no money on his person and a phone that was worth less than nothing which he gladly offered up with a laugh to the would-be mugger before him. Oggy had ruefully laughed at his victims jovial spirit and at the feeble contents of his pockets and Sebastian with a nave fearlessness that comes from being off your face offered his hand to Oggy and initiated conversation. Oggy, quite taken aback at the friendliness this man whom he had just tried to rob was showing him reciprocated and it soon transpired that they could be of use to each other; Sebastian lived in Oggy’s neighborhood, enjoyed K and Oggy sold K. That was how they met and became ‘friends’, it was also how Sebastian knew that Oggy was a shady character and had more strings to his criminal bow than merely the distribution of horse tranquilizer.

“And I would wager a lot of money that he knows someone who could sort your problem quick sharp” Sebastian paused then added imploringly “He’s fromSouth London”. Tobermory smiled inwardly at his friend’s apparent belief that by clarifying that he was fromSouth Londonwould give him some kind of crime credentials, like a qualification on a CV.

Nevertheless, Tobermory was desperate and as idiotic as this plan was, it was the only one currently available. Tobermory could not go on living like he was living.

He leaned back on his chair and sighed. “Fuck it, lets do it”
“That’s the spirit” A broad grin ran across Sebastian’s face. “Got anything important to do tomorrow?”
“Nothing important, why?”
“Fancy a K binge tonight – tranquilize your troubles”. Sebastian laughed at the killing of two birds with one Ketamine dealer “I need a pretext to meet my man”
“Why not” Tobermory reasoned that while he knew Sebastian needed no pretext for K it maybe exactly what he required.

And with that Sebastian left the table to call Oggy, the South London K dealer. The call was brief and in less than a minute Sebastian was back at his chair. “He says he’ll be here in an hour” Tobermory exhaled rapidly in surprise at the apparent efficiency of Oggy. “When he says an hour naturally he means two minimum”.

“I see”. Tobermory was already beginning to regret the course of action they were embarking upon.

Oggy arrived, slightly earlier than expected, but half an hour after they’d arranged. Those in the mood for clichs might have observed he looked like a fish out of water and when he arrived and Sebastian greeted him like old friends, they certainly made an odd couple. The more observant of those that weren’t observing might have guessed that an exchange of some sort was about to take place. No one was paying attention though as Sebastian ordered their drinks and they seated themselves at a spare table for four near the back of the Pub by the gents.

From where Tobermory was sat, they weren’t sitting all together because Oggy didn’t like meeting new people if he could help it, they were exchanging empty pleasantries common to such acquaintances and ever present in meetings such as this. Tobermory couldn’t lip read but he guessed it was probably something like

Hey man, what have you been up to? Go out last night?

Yeah, it was alright, I’m suffering for it now though…

Hungover?

Nods smiling and grimacing -

Oggy pushes air through his lips and leans back to gesture

Truth was that Sebastian felt pretty good, his hangover hadn’t hit, he was still drunk, which was why he felt capable of pursuing this course of action. Tobermory’s guesswork was all but accurate save a few minor embellishments.

After a little more small talk they subtly but not undetectably exchanged money and wrap. Oggy then knecked his coke; one of the quirks about many of those who deal in class As is that they often don’t drink – it’s bad for you. Tobermory watched as Oggy got up to say his goodbyes, but then Sebastian gestured for him to stay a moment. At this point Tobermory looked away, he couldn’t watch.

Two minutes later he had to look, everyone else was. Oggy had stood up so fast he’d knocked his chair over.

You fucking cunt, you’re lucky I don’t cut you right here blud - Turning he walked and slammed through the exit.

Sebastian sat, looked around kind of gormlessly, shrugged and took a sip of drink. Gradually after a few moments everyone else in the pub got back to what they were doing. Except Tobermory who gestured for Sebastian to go for a cig. They met outside and smoked for a while. Eventually Tobemory spoke.

He’s not going to steal the trampoline

No

But you got the K though.

Yes

Hmm that’s something

They finished their cigarettes and went back to their drinks.

It hadn’t been the suggestion of stealing that had offended Oggy, obviously. He had been quite enthusiastic about the possibility of such a theft initially. Smiling he’d asked why on earth. Sebastian told him. Unfortunately for Tobermory, Oggy had a older brother with downs syndrome. This brother lived with Oggy and he shared caring duties with his single mother. He also knew how much his brother loved bouncing on trampolines. If he’d a garden he would have loved to have bought one for his brother. Sebastian never found out why Oggy had flown into such a rage that day. He would always put it down to an admirable ability on Oggy’s part, to empathise with the passions of downs children.

Sebastian went away for a while. When he came back Tobermory was rejuvenated. It had been only two weeks, he’d expected much worse.

You look well

Yes I do

How’s the house?

Gone

What do you mean gone?

Gone…. It’s not mine any more

You sold it, how?

Well it’s a long story

It wasn’t a long story. He told it thus.

Rented it temporarily to some Australians I found on Gumtree. Then showed people around it at 6 every day, within days I had an offer at the asking price . They had the money and rushed through the deal I presume to get it through before I realised what how undervalued the flat was. Worked out very nicely. I’m renting near Angel. My new neighbours don’t have a trampoline.

That’s good.

Tobermory went outside for a cigarette.

Dedicated to anyone who bothered to finish reading this.

 

Lies Are Best Told When They Can't Be Proved

Lies are best when they can’t be proved "How old are you?" Sebastian who still had his ex girlfriends "you are just a fucking 19 year old drunkard" lambast still ringing in his ears made a swift judgment call. Audrey looked about 23 so to be safe he answered "twenty six next month". Audrey frowned a little but seemed pleased.

"I’m 25 as well!" She exclaimed "honestly – I was worried initially that this might be Mrs Robinson situation". French girls love to reference films, thought Sebastian who inwardly noted that she was already consciously linking herself with him sexually.

"Don’t worry, lots of people say that" failing to add that the lots of people he spoke of included only those girls to whom he had lied about his age. "Not specifically referencing The Graduate, English girls prefer to put it more crudely, expressing their doubts in terms of cradle snatching and what not". "Cradle snatching?" English colloquialisms for older women with younger men were clearly not taught at the academy. "It essentially means the same thing, I have a baby face" Sebastian didn’t have a babyface he looked about 19 or 20, precisely his age when you average out Eastern European and western methods of calculation. "I’m hoping it will mean I’ll look 30 when I’m 40 and 35 when I’m 50, but life is too short to moisturize and I could never bring myself to join the ranks of the non-smokers so I doubt it will pan out like that"

. "I see. So what do you do with yourself young man" inquired Audrey, who was still apparently unsure about the lying drunk 19 year old before her.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

They had met in the crowded outside smoking area that has come to characterize London clubbing since The Ban. Sebastian had only just found a space sizable enough to light up safely when a man wearing a fetching turquoise wife beater with eyes like tea cups had stumbled into some a group of smokers ahead of him. The man with the tea cups had apologized, before politely asking his new acquaintances if they had a spare cigarette. 2 of the 3 chain smokers snidely refused the tea cupped eyes man’s request, while the third upon realizing his friends attitude to the situation said he had some but not for him. The Stumbling man sighed, resigned to the knowledge that he was in the company of a collective of twats. Meanwhile Sebastian, who had been observing the episode unfold decided that he liked the cut of the stumbling mans wife beater a lot more than the Twat collective handed him his rolling tobacco and a bottle of water. One of the three chain smokers complained to the back of Sebastian’s head that he had stepped on his toe, Sebastian pretending not to hear, patted him on the shoulder and replied that he didn’t have any cigarettes left before leading his new friend to a spot of safety by the fence.

"Thanks man" said his new friend with an earnestness that only comes with chemical intoxication.

"No bother – smokers have enough enemies without their natural allies giving them the cold shoulder". Sebastian had become a militant pro-smoker since the ban. As far as he was concerned being shunted outside at the fascist whim of people who never went to clubs (except on special occasions) was an injustice. Sebastian believed smokers should be treated like VIP’s and formulated a methodology to back it up.

In an aging society in which the pension time bomb was imminent; the tax smokers paid together with the early death lung cancer gave them; smokers should be heralded as selfless heroes or at least given a free bus passes certainly not shunted outside in the middle of winter. On the plus side though, the smoking area of most clubs was usually a sociable place, one where the non-smoking, early home going chaff were separated from the wheat and furthermore was an area where everyone was united against a common enemy – the anonymous face of whoever was responsible for the injustice of The Ban.

Recently Sebastian had even read about another beneficial side effect of the ban, namely that non smokers were becoming upset (anything that displeased non-smokers by default pleased Sebastian) that all the girls, certainly all the goers, spent all their time in clubs outside "smirting". Smirting was a new term that would be rendered outdated in six months that had been coined for the practice of flirting in the smoking area. It was through a chance meeting in the smoking area that Sebastian would end up meeting and seducing (or being seduced by – it was never clear) Audrey a French girl with a lot going for her. It was a week following his meeting with Audrey that Sebastian would think of his meeting with her and then lonely non-smokers bitching to each other about smirting and would spend a quiet moment laughing to himself.

So, by the time they were they were halfway through their cigarettes, Sebastian had discovered that the wife beater clad man was from Marseilles, had been christened Xavier but went simply by V and had a quantity of MDMA on his person. V had generously insisted upon giving Sebastian one of the bombs he was keeping in his left sock and while Sebastian had wanted some he was a firm believer in Drug Etiquette that dictates that it’s always best and politest to make the offerer insist before relieving them of their drugs.

Insist V did and it was immediately following the ingestion of the aforementioned substance that a beautiful but grumpy looking girl came pushing her way through the smoking area, scanning in a desperate manner the cigarette smoking faces. Upon entering their circle of vision the grumpy women spotted V and bowled over pushing her way through the collective of chain smoking twats and the fresh cigarettes they were smoking. "Putain, t'tais ou ?!" She asked V menacingly. While extremely attractive she seemed equally disgruntled and Sebastian was pleased that her focus of her conversation wasn’t directed at him.

"I’m not sure, somewhere around, I couldn’t possibly say exactly where but anyway do me a favor and speak in English; this is Sebastian and while his name is French he speaks very little of the mother tongue" Sebastian had explained this fact apologetically to V at early stages of their friendship.

"dsol" apologized Sebastian meekly and with terrible pronunciation.

"C'est qui ca ?" said Audrey apparently still angry at her brothers disappearing act.

"He is possibly the best Englishman I’ve ever encountered" Hyperbole is a common side effect of MDMA thought Sebastian to himself. He definitely wasn’t going to correct him though for this Audrey had the look of someone he definitely wanted to know better.

"Je croyais que tu dtestait les anglais ! "She continued, still ignoring V’s request.

"Yes well not this one" V looked at Sebastian reproachfully.

Sebastian, who didn’t understand anything but remedial French read between the lines and understood completely – he had no nationalist illusion that the majority of his compatriots (along with most humans) weren’t at best devastatingly tedious and at worst thoroughly abominable. He gave V a knowing look then with his best self deprecating humility stammered

"Jimappell Sebastian".

"Audrey" she looked him up and down as she spoke

"C’va"

"Bien" she replied looking straight at Sebastian with her piercing black eyes. "This is my brother Xavier" V while clearly off his face was not unaware of the function of this statement and he chuckled to himself as he watched his sister set about Sebastian. Dressed in a vintage print dress with black tights Audrey was French, slender, stylish and definitely to Sebastian’s taste."Thank you for looking after him" she said to Sebastian before turning to her brother and uttering something in French that made him say his goodbyes and depart their little group. V departed smiling and having found that his faculties had returned to him, made his way briskly through the swelling smoking area and taking care to stand on the feet of the twat collective that were now lighting their third and fourth cigarettes. So that was how Sebastian met Audrey and it was only a couple of minutes later when she had started a fresh cigarette and she asked him his age and that he gave the response that would start the web of lies that would eventually cause their relationship’s demise, with her in a mist of confusion, him in a fog of regret.

The problem was that lying about your age, particularly when your lie requires you to account for 7 years of life you haven’t lived, is that it demands a lot of serious thought and planning to come up with a back story of lies that cannot be investigated. Sebastian, relatively new to this game, did not make life easy for himself. "I’m currently doing a masters" He replied upon her questioning him on his current life.

"Where are you doing it and what are you doing it in"

"LSE and the title of my thesis is "Why Economists and Politicians Don’t Get On; Heterodox Economics, Hyper inflation and Brazil’s political economy in the 1980’s". It sounded winning but was actually the title of his 1st year’s coursework assignment. Nonetheless she looked impressed

"You don’t look like an economist" she said observing Sebastian’s long hair and dilating pupils. "I’ll take that as a complement"

"That you should" she said visibly warming to him

"you don’t look English either"

"That’s definitely a complement from a French woman" She laughed and a few moments later on the dubious pretext that she was feeling tired she invited him to share a spliff with her at her flat in Russell Square. Sebastian who was normally a strictly class A man happily accepted. That was the start. Nobody will ever know if Sebastian’s lie was necessary. Girls have a natural prejudice against younger men. That is an unarguable fact. Would Audrey have invited Sebastian home if she’d known his age – Sebastian will never know. What is certain though is that his initial mistruths would cause endless problems and eventually kill dead what was a promising romance. When is the right time to tell a girl that you lied to her and you’re not 26 but 19 and that you’re not a Masters student but in your first year.

Furthermore that everything you told her about your history in those phantom years was fabricated. Whatever, what is sure, and Sebastian can testify to this is that the longer you perpetuate the lies and the more your conversation consists of lies the harder it becomes to come clean. Sebastian accelerated past the line when as he was concerned it became impossible to turn back about 2 weeks in. On each meeting he told anecdotes stolen from friends, of holidays he’d never been on, on problems with university he had never had but knew of and perhaps worst of relationships spanning years he’d never been in. This was a serious operation and Sebastian began to keep a diary of what he had said in order to keep up with the exponentially expanding fictitious life he hadn’t lived. It worked mostly but Audrey was sharp and occasionally she would ask things like – "I thought you were working as a barman in Hackney that summer?" and Sebastian would have to hastily adjust his story. These slip ups were few and far between and as Audrey was only innocently inquiring on these occasions not investigating they were had no long term consequences.

Sebastian and Audrey enjoyed good sex, discovered they had a lot in common, even allowing for the fiction on Sebastian’s part. Sebastian’s knowledge of French cinema particularly endeared him to her and while her extensive DVD collection had no English sub titles Sebastian’s DVD collection did. They shared jokes at each others nations expense. Audrey explained how the national perception of Englishmen was of rapists and intellectual philistines and Sebastian would counter with talk of deep French cultural insecurity that their language was being corrupted by the English. Audrey tried to refute this but when she discovered that her DVDs had subtitles in everything but English she couldn’t muster a riposte of any substance. Early on in their relationship they watched The Beat That My Heart Skipped together and Sebastian taught Audrey how to play the piano and in exchange she gave him French lessons. She was equally as inept at it as he was at French but nonetheless they were in the midst of what Sebastian believed was the best beginning to a relationship he had ever experienced.

Though at this point in his life, in spite of what Audrey believed, he had only been in 2 other relationships so it was not so great a feat. However Sebastian would still feel the same when he turned 30 which given his promiscuity was some feat. Audrey was amazing, she had exceptional taste in everything – films music and books, made an effort with Sebastian’s friends (he introduced only his friends with facial hair) and was happy to dance until sunrise on any given night regardless of any commitments the next day. She was perfect. They never argued but equally Sebastian’s lies never ended. The problem remained therefore that Sebastian was writing a fictitious dissertation and Audrey wanted to read it. For the first 4 months Sebastian claimed that he couldn’t let anyone read anything that was unfinished. Four months earlier, in the midst of the first week of their tryst when he hadn’t been thinking about their future, he had stupidly given Audrey a false deadline to his imaginary thesis. June.

It was in June when he was in the midst of his first years exams pretending to be finishing his thesis that she brought tickets to the Rapture at the Astoria on July the first.

"Wooh alright yeah" Replied Sebastian upon hearing the news

I love Echoes but the second album is going to be an epoch for disco" I concur"

"You’ll have finished your dissertation by then as well"

"Hmm – yeah" Sebastian hated the topic of his dissertation.

"We can celebrate. And you can bring your masterpiece for me to read" Audrey was now not at all skeptical regarding Sebastian’s age nor his occupation. She had been to the LSE library and he had made sure to have The South American Masters course paraphernalia that LSE did run (but that he wasn’t on) lying all around where he was sitting along with extensive notes he’d made on the subject. He had done more work on his fictitious dissertation than on anything else he was actually supposed to be studying in his first year. In a backwards way that might have even counted in his favor should he have ever conceded to her that he had lied. But he never did. Instead later that month, on the day before the Rapture gig he called her up. "I can’t come, I think we should end". Sebastian didn’t want to end and neither did she but admitting to his lies seemed impossible and would have to Sebastian’s mind have had the same consequence. Best to save face like a coward. Audrey didn’t understand so Sebastian half heartedly ran through a laundry list untrue clichs that made no sense and only served to confuse her further "I think the language barrier is too much" She spoke perfect English "its not you it’s me" it wasn’t him it was his lie, a lie he deems was forced upon him. Audrey, who was now crying on the phone, said that she couldn’t understand and then after that Sebastian couldn’t find the words to fill she hung up. They never spoke again and Audrey never did find out the truth.

As for Sebastian, he can still be found from time to time ranting drunkenly against the injustice at the prejudices inherent in our society in which women are so openly prejudiced against younger men. He does not blame himself.

Authors note: This was before Sebastian had succumbed to Facebook. He had resisted it for the duration of his university life – "a tool for unsociable narcissists" he had called it. Audrey was of the same opinion and though it never entered into conversation (facebook was not quite so omnipotent in 2004 as it is now)) if it had – the debacle that was their relationship’s beginning and end would in all probability never have happened. Authors note part 2: Sebastian hadn’t met Tobermory and while he would surely have suggested that Sebastian was on a hiding to nothing from the outset, Sebastian would certainly have carried on regardless so essentially this note is irrelevant.