The ones who get away

My singleton friend, Marc, telephoned me last night to tell me another boyfriend has just gotten away.

“You’re in a monogamous loving relationship. You’ve just got married. You’ve no idea what it’s like being single,” Marc sighed. “I’ve blown it with Secondo. I prayed for the moment when he told me he adored me, and then when he did, I acted like a complete klutz sending mixed messages. Now he’s gone home to Italy and hasn’t called or emailed me.”

Well I thought, we can all be a klutz.

Let me rewind you to the Summer of 1996. I met a guy called Uri; a student from Israel visiting London for a whole month. He had a Roman nose and a torso like a Greek marble statue. His hair was black and glossy and tapered at the nape in a little wiry curl. His legs were as hairy as an orangutan’s and when I closed my eyes alone in bed at night I’d fantasise about stroking them. I’d imagine emigrating to Haifa with Uri and being on the beach, and swimming in the warm Mediterranean Sea with him, and being fed seafood from the end of his fork.

He’d tell me he’d set his alarm clock just to watch a sunrise over the London roofs or to hear the sparrows chirp from the window ledge of his hostel. He was sexy and young and sweet. One evening that Summer we strolled to Regent’s Park and we sat under a big oak. We joked around. We fooled about. Then, he reached out to me unexpectedly, yet, as I always hoped he would. He put his hand right on top of mine and held it there for a moment. And he touched me gently on the lip.

“I adore you,” he said.

It seemed like the world ceased turning on it’s axis, clocks stopped ticking, and for the first time in my life another guy had just said he adored me. Here’s the klutz part. I blew it because in that moment I got scared and sent mixed messages.

So the world started turning again and my watch went tick tock. We walked awkwardly to a fried chicken shack on a street corner and that’s when Uri explained he was flying home the following weekend but he’d send his address and we’d always keep in touch.

Sometimes, when Guido switches on the TV night news, I’ll see a report about a shooting or a bus bomb or some other God awful thing in Israel. That’s when I’ll think about Uri. I’ll pray he’s safe, that he’s found as good and kind a man to love like Guido, and I’ll wonder if he ever thinks at all about the time he told me he adored me.

So I tell Marc on the telephone he’s absolutely right. I can’t possibly know how he feels because I’m in a loving monogamous relationship and I’ve just got married. Me a klutz?

But if Uri Baumgarner from Tel Aviv is still out there and ever happens to find this blog, there’s something I want you to know. I should’ve put my hand back on top of your hand and squeezed it tight. When you stroked my lip I should’ve smiled straight right back at you. And then, in 1996, I should’ve told you that I adored you.

It’s a mad world

I’ve just finished working with two psychiatrists on the interior design of their minimalist London home. I saved them a fortune on a cast concrete kitchen island. I was kind of hoping they might repay the favour and consider cutting me a deal on some discounted therapy. Nothing too heavy. Maybe just three sessions a week for the next twenty five years.

Every time I met them I felt like I was acting out a scene from an Ingmar Bergman movie, only without the subtitles. I half expected the grim reaper to turn up in a plume of smoke and offer to make us all some coffee. To lighten the mood I even told them my best psychiatrist joke but they still didn’t laugh. Instead they’d just answer all of my questions by posing a question all of their own. Like when I showed psychiatrist number one chalk and bone coloured wall paint, psychiatrist number two asked me how I felt about it. What I discovered he really meant was, how did I really feel about it. I didn’t know whether to say I had no particular strong personal feelings either way or just lay straight down on their leather couch and reveal my dysfunctional love for cheese.

“If you went to see a shrink what d’you think you’d find to talk about?” I asked Guido in bed last night.

I do like to probe him once in a while. Get to the root of his thoughts. God, I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that one. Can you honestly imagine Guido trying to explain to someone in the medical profession about the trauma linked to discovering a hollow meringue? I guess it’s all relative brother.

“Actually I’ve never felt the need to over analyse my life,” he said with an air of sane superiority. “But I think you could do with a bit of help on the head examining front.”

Much as I hate to admit it, he did have a point.

“Frankly I wouldn’t know where to start. I’ve got such an extensive back catalogue in my brain it would probably have even bogged Freud down for years,” I said.

I thought about all of the hang-ups and fears and fantasies I’ve got. Just to give you a flavour, they include Nick Jonas with no clothes on and mung beans. Though not necessarily at the same time. I’m a car crash waiting to happen.

“Relax. Chill. Take a look around you,” said Guido. “Have you seen that guy who’s recently pitched a tent by London Bridge Tube Station? Well, today, I saw that he’s started to entertain commuters by juggling with bananas.”

A word of advice here for readers, don’t ever try that. Aerodynamically bananas end up acting exactly like a boomerang. I tried using one years ago in bed at night with Guido and I almost knocked myself unconscious when it rebounded and hit me on the back of the head.

Trust me. There’s knowing when to use bananas, and just being bananas.

By the way, here’s the joke. I hope you find it funnier than those two psychiatrists did.

Two psychiatrists meet on a blind date and hit it off so well they go to the nearest motel to have wild sex. Afterwards one rolls over and says to the other, “That was good for you. But how was it for me?”

The worst pies in London

As you know I like to mash up life’s tedious predictability whenever I can.

“Let’s swap roles,” I said to Guido in bed Wednesday night.

It’s definitely not what you’re thinking.

“I’ll cook dinner tomorrow,” I said jauntily choosing to ignore the groaning noises emanating from the darkness on the other side of the bed.

In the morning I called my mother to confirm the recipe for her all time favourite (classic) Ham and Egg Pie.

Please note how I’ve put the word (classic) into parenthesis. The only thing my mother was able to cook (from scratch) – please note how I’ve also put the words (from scratch) into parenthesis – was that pie. She made it a trillion times when I was a kid. Anytime I ever asked what’s for dinner it was always that. Occasionally she’d try to throw me off the scent by calling it Egg and Ham Pie but she never fooled me one bit because it always turned out to be Ham Before The Egg Pie.

You whisk egg the way you’d prepare scrambled, with a knob of butter and a splash of full cream milk, then pour straight into a pie dish. The ham was chopped bacon, which my mother hacked to bits with a pair of her dress making shears. Then she’d open a pack of ready made filo pastry, throw it with a memorable flourish on top of the wet mixture, and then bake it for about 25 minutes. It was surprisingly good.

I dialled Cruella’s number.

“I’ve decided to cook (from scratch) your (classic) Ham and Egg Pie for dinner,” I said. There was a long silence. I think she could hear the parenthesis crackle down the line.

“Oh God, does Guido know yet?” was all she asked.

At work I wrote down the recipe ingredients on my notepad just in case I inadvertently forgot any. Ham. Tick. Eggs. Tick. Pack of ready made filo pastry. Tick. I chewed the end of my pen. Whisk egg. Chop bacon. Turn on oven. This was beginning to sound complicated.

“I’ve decided to take the afternoon off,” I said to my assistant Toby, “I’m cooking dinner for Guido and this recipe takes a LOT of preparation.”

Toby raised an eyebrow.

Last night I made the pie. It took several attempts to open the packet of pastry but I persevered. I set the table. I lit a candle. I poured wine.

“Well,” said Guido, “I’m not sure how you’ve achieved this.” He prodded the pie like it was radioactive waste. “The eggs are so over-cooked they taste like chalk, but bizarrely, the bacon’s still raw.” He put his cutlery down and picked a piece of shell from between his two front teeth. “Without a doubt this is the worst pie I’ve ever tasted.”

“Gosh, that’s quite an accolade!” I gushed, thinking how badly things could have turned out, “thank you so much!”

“But you know what?” he said swilling some Pinot Grigio, “you’ve given me a weird marketing idea.”

When I got home tonight I discovered Guido removing a sign from the cafe window. It read, and I quote:

We Sell The Worst Pies in London – They’re Revolting

Apparently Guido’s pies, with hand carved ham and free-range egg, wrapped in a parmesan crust, sold out within the hour.

You’ll be relieved to know he made sure that they were completely free of any added parenthesis whatsoever.

Luna de miel

Hola. Playa Blanca here. Oh hang on, could you just give me one second readers?

“Sorry what’s that Guido? Would I like another cocktail? Yes please, that would be terrific, if you wouldn’t mind… And don’t forget the cute little paper umbrella and the stick with a maraschino cherry on the end of it. Then when you’ve done that, d’you think you could vigorously rub in some more suncream for me?”

That’s just one of my little jokes which I’ve tossed in to give you some idea of how things are going down here in Lanzarote. The word is, swimmingly. I’m not sure what that is in Spanish. As I lay back on my sun lounger typing this I’m leaving a pleasantly sticky and coconut scented oil residue on my iPad screen. Honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to cope returning to Bermondsey in the next couple of days. It’ll be like going from the joys of Summer to plunging into an eternally cold nuclear Winter.

Fortunately Guido’s become uber friendly with Rocco who knocks the drinks out from behind the poolside bar. You’ll be pleased to hear I’m running him totally ragged. He’s constantly rattling his shaker. I expect he has to lie down in a darkened room at the end of each shift just to recover from me. Drinking one of Rocco’s Pina Coladas has the same effect as conscious sedation does. I’ve told him the next time I need a root canal drilled I’ll be taking him along.

There’s no form of alcohol measurement in Lanzarote. The only size is, Extra Extra Large. So the last 5 days have been a blur.  I know I’m married because I’m wearing a wedding ring and so is Guido, but recalling the exact details of how that occured have become a bit sketchy for us both.  It’s like having post traumatic stress disorder only without the trauma or the stress but with the vivid flash backs. In 500 words I couldn’t possibly begin to describe it, but see the abridged version below.

Guido said his vows. Our best man Ted cried. I said my vows. Our bridesmaid Gary cried. The Spanish Onion tables got decked with flickering candles and lanterns and bunting and rose petals. There was paella. There was calamari. The pavlova turned into Eton Mess. Our first dance was to Everything, sung by Daniel Boys. The Los Chicos guys from Palma turned up and played a heel thumping set. My mother got completely drunk and almost tore her blouse off mid-way through a passionate flamenco dance with a guy half her age who she’d only just met. Guido’s father cried. The trouser button on my £700 Vivienne Westwood tartan suit exploded. Guido’s mother made an incredibly moving speech about how much she loved us both. Guido cried. The last guests staggered home at about 3 a.m. Then Guido and I went up to the loft had the best sex we’d ever had and none of it involved using mayonnaise. I felt the happiest I’d ever felt before in my entire life. I cried. The end.

Rocco’s Coma Inducing Pina Colada

Mix 3 parts of pineapple juice, 2 parts of white rum and 1 part of coconut cream with a bunch of crushed ice until it’s completely smooth. Serve in a tall chilled glass.

Don’t forget the maraschino cherry.

One for the road

Guido’s parents, Juan and Rosa, stopped by the café tonight at around seven thirty to discuss the final preperations for our wedding menu. At some point between arguing about shelling prawns and whipping up the perfect meringue, Juan mixed a couple of jugs of his lethal sangria and switched on our Gypsy Kings CD. Then the four of us conga danced around the kitchen to Bem Bem Bem Maria, and yes you guessed it, by ten thirty the two of them had both passed out in our bed. Thank God it’s not tomorrow night or the pavlova could resemble the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

“You can have the couch later,” said Guido magnanimously, “I’ll take the floor.” He held up a couple of glasses full of sangria, “But why don’t we both just have one more for the road?”

I pulled the cushions and the rug off our sofa and we went downstairs and laid them out in the courtyard for a while. It’s been one of those lukewarm and calm London nights when you could hear double decker buses toot their horns going along the main road, a siren rushed urgently over on the other side of the River Thames and, if you looked straight up you could see the last of the night’s flights blinking over head as they turned towards the Heathrow landing lights. Guido put his arm round me. I pulled the blanket up to his hairy knees and we chinked tumblers together in a toast.

“Is that the Milky Way over there?” I said pointing up.

“Nah,” said Guido. “that’s just city light pollution.”

I squinted through my sangria, “I definitely think that’s the Milky Way. If not it’s some undiscovered constellation or galaxy. I wonder if somewhere way out there in deepest space, there’s a couple of gay Martians planning on getting married some time soon,” I said. “If only we had late night access to the telescope at the Greenwich Observatory we could wave good-luck to them too.”

Then all of a sudden I heard a peculiar snorting noise and when I looked round I could see Guido had just fallen asleep on my shoulder. I’m really hoping this isn’t some worrying new phenomenon he’s planning on introducing at bedtime after we’re married. Because if I blog that line of mine in the future – last night Guido and I were in bed – you’d know that in reality the fascinating discussion I’d been having had actually been just with myself.

Sitting there staring up at the cosmos my thoughts naturally started to stray to our wedding ceremony.  I thought about the potentially cataclysmic choice of wearing a tight fitting tartan suit. Which of course made me empty the contents my glass in one giant gulp.  I pondered the enormity of our wedding vows. Which of course then made me empty the contents of Guido’s glass in one giant gulp.

On Monday I’ll be telling Guido I will love him, I will honour him, and perhaps most binding of all, I will promise to cherish his spicy meatballs in a tomato arrabiata sauce for as long as we both shall live.

If the two of us can both manage to love each other for that long, then I reckon I’ve got to be the luckiest guy in the whole of the universe.