Sometimes you have to sacrifice a animal on the altar of love
On Making Friends
6th July, 2003
You know a party was good when you wake up the next day and wish you were dead. Everything
was in place: the hot ball of agony curled up in my stomach, the taste of crushed embers - no, make that
broken glass - in my mouth, the surreal memory of me standing barefoot on a kitchen chair at ten o'clock
at night playing volleyball over the
hedge with the neighbour's children.
I checked my body parts. Still there.
I padded down to the kitchen to check the mess. Still there.
I sighed. The kitchen looked as if a passing tribe of orangutans had stayed overnight
to perform slapstick comedy with pasta salad, cheesecake and empty beer cans. They'd even drunk all
the Coca Cola, which I'd been counting on for breakfast. My stomach gave another twinge.
Perhaps breakfast was a little ambitious. I might be ready for liquids by tea time.
I tried to think of an excuse that would wash at work. "I was surrounded by pasta crazed
orangutans and had to fight my way out by lobbing cheesecake-smeared beercans. So I can't come in today. The RSPCA
have me up on charges."
I sighed again and started to clear up. The things we do for friendship.
Love me, Love my Footwear
Some people put a lot of trust in a hairstyle or a new pair of shoes. They want to
be popular, to make new friends, and think, with footwear like this, how can I fail?
I prefer a hard stare and the flesh of dead animals. It's a matter of style.
I came to London last autumn with no friends at all, just a couple of email addresses of people
I had met who I hoped might still respond. So, I had build a new society for myself, almost from scratch.
But what could
be easier in a city of 15 million potential new friends! Of course, you have to deduct
from that total the criminals, the insane, those who speak no known language, those who don't wash,
the society mum's, the footballing dads, the snorting rich, the whining poor, everyone
everyone who drives a cab, or lives in Wapping, or works for a bank...
Subtract all those and there still must be four or five people
left in London that I could get on with.
It's Not about Being a Good Person
Desperate times need desperate measures. Here are some options to find new friends fast:
Stand on street corners barking at strangers. Not a high percentage of success, it's true, but this is off-balanced by a large
turn-over, plus the BBC might do a news special on you as an example of our failing social services.
Go to dance classes and ask random strangers to 'cut a rug'. Very traditional. Divided into two phases. The first phase goes like this.
"Would you like to dance?" "No."
"Would you like to dance?" "Sling yer hook."
"Would you like to dance?" "No."
The second phase comes after you've retreated to the bar in frustrated rage and downed
a skinful. Now you cock your head with disdainful arrogance and squint at someone through one eye and
say: OK, godzilla, let's get a move on. This works. Don't ask me why.
Other approaches include making yourself look good at some other guys expense, standing
on feet, winking at bored theatre patrons and deliberately knocking women off bicycles. An old teacher
of mine got a wife that way.
Of course it's all random, so why try to control it? I once acquired a girlfriend by asking
a woman for directions at a bus stop. Of course, she was quite mad, but it shows, you never can tell.
I made a friend for life the other day by asking a former East German what was it like
being a child-murdering communist. He loved it. Made him feel like he had a dangerous
and sexy past.
You'll notice that none of the above includes sitting in a corner smiling politely, which
works for noone unless you have truly stupendous breasts (not men). Sheer bloody-mindedness,
an evil grin and knowledge of the exits, just in case, will win out any day.
So, using sure-fired friend making methods such as these and others, I finally had enough society for
"You've got to do better than that!" I shouted over the hedge.
"We're only children!" came the response
"Stop making excuses!!" It may seem harsh now, but great victories are made of small ones,
or, in this case, against small ones, and this was one game of volleyball I was determined not to lose.
The barbecue had gone well. The usual three phases: the harrying, the worrying and the stupor.
This meant making sure everyone could come, then, in a panic, realising that
everyone might come, and where would I put them all? Then the food. The food is easy. Just
estimate a portion for one person, and multiply it by the number of guests. So, that's one lump
multiplied by a number between two and fifty. So I ended up buying and preparing three times
as much food as we could possibly eat, and throwing half of it away.
Finally, the sun
came out, my friends all arrived and we could just relax, and drink a few beers.
In the background there was a gentle flapping and whimpering as Tim realised why my barbecue set came
for only £9.99 when the flames threatened to engulf the hedge, the houserow and his hair.
We sat and mellowed the day away. Great fun, having friends and neighbours. Especially after
dark, when the beer, wine and Tim's cooking had their effect and Andy began lobbing Fiona's shoes into the trees.
But that didn't matter. The night was soft, we were in a good mood, and, with the parents calling frantically from next door,
we could get the children to look for the shoes.
I was sure noone would miss one.