The big squeeze

There’s an entry currently held in the Guiness Book Of Records for the most number of people who ever squeezed, all at once, into a mini (classic) motor car. It happened in 2014 during the London to Brighton car race. Apparently 28 people got into one.

Don’t say you never learn anything important from this blog.

What it didn’t say was whether they were technically midgets, but I reckon even for 28 midgets it must have felt like a jam. The reason I know this interesting fact is because this evening I looked it up. And the reason I looked it up is because earlier I’d gotten myself into something of a jam. In between Bank and London Bridge stations on the London Underground, the packed tube train I was travelling on got stopped in a dark and drafty tunnel for 45 minutes. My heart went out to those midgets I can tell you. Though at the time it was my husband I was blaming for the tight squeeze I was in.

Guido sent me a text on my way home which read – buy bleach we’ve got another unaviodable blockage – and he’d attached a zoomed in photograph of our toilet with the lid graphically still up. It was followed by another text which read – washing line in cafe courtyard just snapped – followed by a picture of Guido holding a frayed rope end with pegs and our wet laundry still flapping from it. So that’s why I’d gotten off at a Bank Station convenience store and bought an extra large bottle of Domestos, a nylon rope, and two half priced pork chops. Ok, the latter was an impulse buy, but trust me, I know what Guido’s capable of with a dollop of French mustard.

Then I got back on the tube and that’s when there was a loud screeching noise and 300 of us got stuck together in that tunnel. Interestingly I was wedged up against a guy who was a dead ringer for one of the lead guitarists from ZZ Top. I’ve got to admit it’s a very long time since I’ve been that close to any man with a similar amount of ginger hair protruding from his chest as he had from his chin, and not enjoyed it.

“There’s something hard and ridgid in the vicinity of your groin which is sticking firmly into my inner thigh,” he said without blinking or smiling nor hint of enjoyment.

“Oh, relax,” I said quick as a flash, “it’s definitely not what you’re hoping for.” I pulled my shopping bag up to eye level and exposed my big bottle of bleach. “My husband has an emergency blockage which I’m on my way home to flush through,”

It’s the sort of thing you can only say to someone with as much joie de vivre enthusiasm as you can and not get punched on the nose. But as you probably know you should never judge a book by it’s cover, and, the longer you talk to a complete stranger about bleach the more you find you actually have in common.

His husband’s name is Simon and apparently he’s always having blockages. After 20 minutes of bonding I inexplicably found myself humming that tune, Gimme All Your Lovin’.

A word of advice. If you ever get stuck in a tunnel, I recommend doing it with a guy who thinks nothing of playing air guitar on a pork chop.


Every evening when I get home from work, after Guido turns the café kitchen lights off and we climb up the fire escape steps to our loft apartment upstairs, he’ll always do this weird silly thing. I’ll use romantic licence here and call it an, “us” thing. He’s done it for years ever since we started living together. He’ll stop right next to our refrigerator. He’ll pull open the freezer compartment door. He’ll peer inside. Then he’ll pause for a moment, slam the door shut again and spin around and say – “Did you eat all the chocolate chip ice-cream?”

Whilst opening your freezer and discoverng a tub of chocolate chip ice-cream in there should not be completely unexpected, we never, ever, have it in our fridge. This is on account of the fact that I’m always on a diet. By the way the only food I’m eating this week is bananas and so far I’ve lost another 3 pounds. At this rate I’ll practically be The Invisible Man by the time we reach Christmas.

“How often do I have to tell you,” Guido will ask me with mock shock, “do not finish the chocolate chip ice-cream, okay?”

No matter how many times he says that, it still always makes me laugh out loud.

Sometimes, if Guido knows I’m going to be home very late because I’m stuck on the midnight train back to London Bridge, he’ll leave a handwritten note taped to the refrigerator door. It’ll usually read something tantalisingly provocative like – “Sorry, but I ate the last of the ice-cream.”

When I find it I’ll smile and take my clothes off and get under the sheets and climb into a warm bed with him and trust me it’s not a chocolate chip that’s the first thing going through my mind.

“But you don’t usually eat dessert, dear” said my mother when she once heard that conversation between us.

“Oh it’s just an “us” thing,” I said dismissively. And poured her another gin. No matter how many men my mother has dated over the years I doubt she and they ever had an “us” thing.

“Why, for the love of God,” said Ted with raised eyebrows when he opened a kitchen cupboard in our loft earlier this week, “would two middle aged gay men have two whole shelves stacked with jars of mayonnaise?”

We buy bulk.

“Oh it’s just an “us” thing,” I said dismissively, “when we have nothing better to do on a wet Sunday evening I usually get out the Hellmann’s, a spatula, and spread Guido’s big hairy feet.”

I often wondered if it was only us who did weird or silly “us” things and I don’t just mean with ice-cream and my husband’s feet. Then, the other day, I found a website devoted to sentimental vintage photographs of gay couples, all captured decades ago. There was one touching photo which particularly caught my attention. At the bottom of it was a single, handwritten, word. And it summed up the image completely. If you click on it below you’ll see exactly what I mean.

I couldn’t possibly begin to guess what these guys might have gotten up to on a wet Sunday evening, but I could tell they were definitively just like “us”. And there was nothing weird or silly about that at all.



Love and a London foxtrot

Last Friday morning I walked into the café kitchen downstairs. It was like any other start to a regular weekday work morning. But you never quite know who’ll be in there or what’ll be going on or what’ll be sizzling on The Spanish Onion grill. Only the day before I’d found Guido teaching two enthusiastic nuns from South America how to make the best poached egg. He tells me it involves vinegar, apparently.

“L,” said Guido as I passed him stirring a pan of porridge with a big wooden spoon in it, “is for the way you look at me.”

“What?” I said. Well, you would.

“O, is for the only one, I see,” he said holding his hand to his chest where I’m guessing he thinks his heart must beat.

I looked down at the pan of bubbling porridge and then looked back up at Guido. If he’d asked me at the time I’d have told him to pay a bit more attention because the consistency looked a bit on the lumpy side to me.

“V, is very very, extraordinary,” he said.

I blinked a couple of times.

“E, is even more than anyone that you adore.”

I think I’ve got all those song lyrics right. Then Guido kissed me on the cheek and he went back to his pan and I took the Tube to Shepherds Bush. I had a top flight work meeting with a client about the complexities of painting his bathroom pistachio.

On Saturday night in bed I felt Guido twitching under the blanket. Don’t worry folks, I’m not going anywhere near another one of my elaborate stories involving a salami sausage.

“Relax,” said Guido from the darkness, “I’m merely memorising some dance moves.” I felt two slow kicks to the left and then two quick ones to the right. Then he rolled over and went straight to sleep.

In the morning he told me he’d read somewhere that everyone should try to learn to do something new every day. No matter how small. So that explained the memorising modern jazz lyrics bit, but frankly I’d got doubts about the usefulness of ever being in a position to perform a foxtrot. And who would he ever dance it with? If it was down to me I’d much rather he concentrated on perfecting a decent blue cheese soufflé.

“Can you play that song, LOVE?” Guido asked the band at The Hideaway jazz club in South London. We had lunch there yesterday. The food was great and the big band music sounded terrific.  The two of us even got up at one point and danced a few steps and I didn’t trample on Guido’s toes even once.

On the journey home I couldn’t help myself. I started to hum the words to that tune. I think I almost know them off by heart. And, with a foxtrot you start with the left foot and take two walking steps followed by a left side right together. Then you do something called a, rinse and repeat, with your left foot. It’s nice to turn out to be an old dog with a couple of new tricks up my sleeve.

Tomorrow I’ve asked Guido to teach me how to poach an egg. Because if two nuns from Belize can crack it, then so can I.