I have been corrupted. Indoctrinated. Frickin’ broken in.
I’ve become SUCH a stuffed shirt. A bloody boring proper arse. Next thing I know, I shall sip my tea with my pinky finger outstretched. Wear lace-up shoes to office. Look the other way and KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT when somebody’s being picked on. The beginning of the end.
And this winter could have been quite interesting, too. Garn.
Sunday has been a respite from the weekend. Started Thursday, if you like. At least the socialising. A wine-tasting thingummy. All these very propah ladies and gentles, perfumed and gelled, every man-jack there in a jacket and tie except for your’s truly with no tie and his (urrrkkk) chest hair peeping out (as revealed to horrified gaze during trip to loo; decided to let it be and pretend it was a style statement rather than an errant button, at least it’s not grey yet, now that is revolting unless you’re Sean Connery or at least Omar Sharif).
The sommelier was young, tall, aquiline, French. If he’d had a tad more attitude, I swear some of those women would have dragged him under the table then and there. As it was, a couple of them were openly salivating over him. I eyed his tie, the women eyed all of him, the men eyed some of the women. It’s nice when people take the trouble to dress up and look their best. I don’t bother because there’s just so much you can do for a lost cause, but I appreciate it in others. I noticed that one lady (while otherwise no more than “a sampan, or a small gunboat at best”) had very interesting dimples in her shoulders.
Question: WHY do women spend hours in the gym, splurge loads on designer trouser-suits that are at least a half-size too small and then ruin the entire effect with poor lingerie?! You know what I’m talking about here. Ruck lines. The pits. I mean, when was the last time you saw a man with his briefs showing through his trousers?
All through dinner my neighbour conversed animatedly about children and self-realisation and her philosophy of life. And I manfully kept my end up even though every time we made eye contact, what I was really thinking was “IS she wearing false eyelashes?” (And is that all that’s false about her or …)
Opposite me sat a twerp. In a dress shirt and a bow tie, yet. The most overdressed in proximity to the most under-dressed, but this guy was such an utter prat. All through dinner he twittered on about “the most amazing” paintings and about his wondrous palate (no, not palette). I held my peace and professed ignorance of the finer points of single malts. So he told me that Laphroaig is “not really peaty, you see, now for that you need an Ardbeg”. What I needed was an Aspirin. And a respite. Sod off, you f***-wit, this is a wine tasting.
He delicately hinted that he was an expert on Western classical music. And on jazz. Then Carlton Kito played “A kiss to build a dream on” (as made famous by Shantanu Moitra) and Mr. Prat, who had been swaying in time to “Windmills of my mind”, sniffed loudly and said “Oh, I do stay clear of the native stuff.” (this from a man who looks like Paul Robeson compressed lengthwise!) The bad taste in my mouth was not due to “ze tanneek, wot yu zay, yaftertysse in ze Pinot Noir”. I am now a mellow old man; I didn’t throw my Chinkara Cabernet in his face. But when he thereafter lit up a Cohiba, I did suggest that he was stuffing it in the wrong end. Arse!
Friday was much nicer. There is now a definite nip in the air, at least after midnight. A jacket is comfortable. And so convenient – phone, pipe, lighter, card-case, pen, spare handkerchief, earphones, keys, odd slips of paper, everything fits in five pockets. Quite liberating not to bulge from every pocket of my trousers (this is the cue for comments on my less-than-svelte profile, yes-I-know-now-stfu).
But what is it with women and pockets? I mean, you can put the most practical woman in a trouser-suit, what the hell, you can put her in cargoes, but she’ll still stuff everything into her purse. OK, forget the trouser-pockets. On the basis of recent observations, I appreciate that there is barely room enough for the woman inside her trousers, let alone a single Polo mint in excess. What about the jacket pockets, eh?
Why in the name of Offler the Crocodile God does a woman say (FIVE times in the course of an evening) “Where’s my phone?” And then proceed to rummage through her purse, look under cushions, borrow a phone to call up her own number, panic that she left it at the last place she went to - and then find it in her purse after all? Under a lipstick case, three months’ credit card slips, five pens - of which one-and-a-half work, the half being used to punch holes in filed papers – a little phone book, a tube of hand cream, pressed flowers saved from the last anniversary, two photographs of niece and nephew and two more of offspring, a comb AND one of those collapsing brushes (OK, so I may be insensitive re: hair!), a bundle of other peoples’ visiting cards, Disprin, another little notebook, a tiny smaller purse where she keeps her face-maintenance kit ... You know what I mean, it’s like one of those magicians producing a hundred and seventy-nine rabbits from a Size 4 hat.
It’s a law of nature: the phone will emerge only after she’s dumped half this truck-load on the nearest sofa and the other half in the hands of the nearest man. WHY can’t she just PUT IT IN HER POCKET?
The roof-top party was also a lesson in sorting the packaging. Men ranged from the bibulous overweight uncles in their voluminous jackets and coloured shirts (Jehoshophath! Why does that sound familiar?!) to the wanna-bes who are on the mailing lists of designers (or perhaps their wives are). Also Surds. Cut-Surds. A well-tied turban looks so good, a beard would actually be an improvement on most middle-aged men. Then why this fixation with particoloured stubble (think Vikram Chatwal) and gelled wisps brushed down over an expanding forehead? Taken in conjunction with the collarless cashmere T and the fashionably casual jacket, the ensemble just screams “Owe-e-e-! Pappe-e-e-e!”
Let’s not even get into the Victor Mature syndrome. Know that one? I believe it was Peter Ustinov who panned “Samson and Delilah” (Victor Mature, Deborah Kerr) with the memorable line that it was “the only film in (his) experience where the hero’s bust (was) more magnificent than the heroine’s”. Even where the chest in question has been toned and firmed and shaped, the owner is apt to carry his arms out to the sides to show how large his lats have grown. And walk as if he has hydroscele. Simians with Swollen Swonicles. Sometimes I feel like throwing peanuts at them.
Saturday night our host was a restaurateur. And the food sucked. Yes I’m a pig, but who wouldn’t be disappointed if they were looking forward to a gourmet meal and were then fobbed off with cold biriyani and chicken grease? And the evening consisted of sundry fat men in long striped Fab India kurtas singing Bangla folk songs (for TWO HOURS, all with the same beat on the dholok), swinging their fat hips while they placed their archly cocked wrists atop their heads. And loud women in tight salwars who wore too much lipstick and clinked spoons against glasses while they shrieked with laughter. Bats with baby faces in the violet light/ Whistled and beat their wings ..
Fortunately for my sanity, one of my favourite teachers from college was there. A nice thing about growing old is that I meet these people who used to strike the fear of God into me, and they are actually nice to me. We laughed about how brattish I used to be and we talked about cabbages and kings. She used to be this very formidable, aloof person, albeit with a twinkle in her eye when she turfed me out of class; Saturday night she was not only great fun to talk to but also complimentary (though she did gang up with my wife against me). I suspect if she hadn’t been there, I would have been ripe for getting into a fight.
Which brings me to the original theory. Three nights and several parties, so many weirdos and pretentious sods, and I was so damn urbane. Forget about arguments, slanging matches, fights, I was bloody smooth. Non-controversial. Don’t-rock-the-boat.
Damn. I’ve become frickin’ civilized. I’ve sold out.
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