I’m weird, you’re weird

I always eat a sandwich in exactly the same, but, bizarre way. And it doesn’t matter what the filling is. Yesterday it just happened to be a delicious BLT Guido had made for me.

The bread was powder white, the iceberg lettuce was shredded, the tomato was a juicy red buffalo and the bacon was grilled to perfection. It goes without saying things went flaky when I started to eat and I’m not referring to the sandwich. I have culinary musts.

1. Must be served on a plate. Preferably oval but any shape will do in a crockery emergency.

2. Must be cut into two horizontal parts. Four triangles? I’m not a three year old.

3. Must peel back the top slices off first and eat those both separately before anything else. Which then obviously necessitates an urgent need for cutlery.

4. Squiggle a line of ketchup precisely. This should be exactly 6 centimetres in length but absolutely MUST NOT touch the bread.

I could probably carry on right beyond number 10 but I’ve limited word count.

“Do you have any idea how weird you are?” Guido asked me staring at my deconstructed lunch.

”Yes,” I said, “and it’s taken me years of careful practice to get to this point.”

”In fact I’d go so far as to say you’re possibly the weirdest person I know,” he said.

Which I have to tell you was pretty rich coming from Guido, who always religiously reads the back of a shampoo bottle whenever he’s in the shower.

”Though I have to say you have some peculiar idiosyncrasies yourself,” I said measuring my squiggle.

Here’s the thing. When Guido gets dressed in the morning he insists on putting his clothes on in a strict order. He never deviates. Boxers first. Socks. Shirt. Then lastly, jeans. If he throws everything on in a rush he can get quite discombobulated and has to strip off and start all over again. Which is a pretty big deal at 5.30 in the morning.

”Prove it,” he said slouching back in his chair.

I crunched a piece of bacon. I drew up a long and extensive mental list. I wondered what to pick first and which to leave out and what would make him sound even more of a freak than I was.

”For starters you read newspapers backwards,” I said.

I lifted the top left hand piece of bread and nibbled the gooey bit first.

“You always set the volume level on the TV to 10, even if this means neither of us can actually hear it. If I turn it up to 12 you turn it back down to 10.”

By the way, I leave the crusts for last.

”You’re afraid of birds. Particularly one randomly landing on your head.”

I lifted the top right hand piece. It was gooey too but not overly. This was good. Infact on a scale of gooeyness it was a 5. Having a scale of gooeyness is not in any way weird.

“I once saw you eat ice cream with a fork,” I said.

Speaking of forks – I needed one.

“And, you have the ability to sneeze with your eyes still wide open.”

There was a brief silence.

“But hey some of my weirdness I know you definitely like.” He cocked an eyebrow.

There was another brief silence. I was happy for him to prove it.

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I’ll have what he’s having

We’ve had snow in London twice now in a single month. That’s almost unheard of around here. The way some people have been behaving you’d think the whole world was teetering dangerously on the brink of some sort of Armageddon. And don’t even get me started about the public transport system.

I was standing in line for the bus last week when a random dude pushed right in front of me.

I’m late for work – with a capital F!” he shouted at me. “Fine,” I yelled back, “with a capital F!

“That’s what I love about this city,” said my friend Marc, “in times of need total strangers still have a complete disregard for their fellow man. I’m surprised he didn’t take your head off.”

Marc had stopped by the cafe for a bowl of something hot and steamy. He chose a cup of Guido’s carrot coriander soup. It’s been flying out of the door all day. I can highly recommend it if you’re having a day with an F in it.

“Yeah, whatever happened to the Blitz spirit that glued us all together?” I said, “All I know is my mother resorted to panic food shopping at Harrods. Apparently she ended up back at her apartment and all she had was a bottle of raspberry flavoured gin, a jar of pickled turnip tops, and a home macaroon making kit.”

I tried to imagine what my mother would do with all of that stuff. She’d call it – Hors D’oeuvre, Entrée and Dessert. Of course if she was hungry enough she’d have ended up over here at the cafe picking something delicious from the specials board.

“Listen, I think if we were denied copious amounts of food for a few days we’d all be in much better shape,” Marc sighed slowing patting his mid-riff.

“Are you kidding me?” I said, “God forbid.”

I tried to imagine a dinner without linguine smothered in garlic oil and trust me it wasn’t pretty.

“As you know I act like a crazy person when I’m hungry.” I said.

I dipped my bread crust vigorously into my Miso broth. It instantly went pleasingly soggy.

“I remember starving myself through my last banana diet. One night I found myself sobbing uncontrollably on the sofa during an episode of Hawaii 5-O. Rather than admit to a perverted craving for rocky road baked cheesecake I told Guido I was moved by the rugged beauty of Steve McGarrett’s chest hair.”

There was a pause for obvious reasons.

”I get it. At times like that baby,” said Marc, “all you want is comfort food.” He licked his spoon when he said that.

I thought about what comfort really meant to me. Naturally I thought about maple syrup. Who wouldn’t? I thought about the endless possibilities of good mayonnaise.Then inexplicably my brain made a connection to Guido’s thighs. Imagine if all that was rationed and in short supply. Life wouldn’t be much worth living.

”We all appreciate the special things in our life,” said Marc. “I guess that’s why I keep eating here.” He took another mouthful of soup.

That was reassuring.

So if the real Armageddon ever does happen, do take the time to stop by. In the unlikely event there’s nothing you fancy on the menu, I’ll get Guido to quickly rustle something up for you.

Music to make love to

When Guido and I lived in the loft above The Spanish Onion our immediate neighbours were a lesbian couple called Bethany and Ethel. We always knew when they were having sex because of the groaning emanating through our walls. Sometimes the electricity power would inexplicably fluctuate and the floor boards would creak like they were manoeuvring a baby grand. One morning after a particularly passionate session I bumped into Ethel in the street outside.

”Did the earth move for you?” I asked.

Everytme they got amorous after that they’d turn up their music system to try to mask what they were up to. Let’s just say their taste in music was eclectic. Guido would always wait until everything had gone completely quiet, then he’d rattle our headboard against their bedroom wall and crank up “It’s Raining Men” at full volume. I honestly don’t think they saw the funny side.

There is a point to this story.

My father came round to the cafe for breakfast yesterday.

“I’m taking a lady friend back to my place tonight,” he nibbled his buttered toast furtively, “and I want things to be perfect.”

“Who is she?” I’m nothing if not direct.

”Let’s just call her special,” he nibbled, “I want the ambiance to be absolutely perfect.”

He’d bought toxic wine, he had scented candles, and was planning on scattering floor cushions. What woman would not be utterly seduced by this? Except now he was stuck on appropriate music. This was not surprising as, Amber, his nubile ex-girlfriend would only ever take her clothes off listening to One Direction.

”Things squelch when you make love over 60 so I want something to drown it out,” he said.

“Hmm, “ I said, “in that case you don’t want anything with too quick a tempo, unless you’re planning a premature ending.”

He stopped nibbling.

”Listen kiddo, at my age I need something that takes a while to build up to the big crescendo, but, doesn’t turn into a full-on marathon.” He sipped his coffee, “I’m not the man I used to be.”

Beethoven’s 5th was obviously out then.

“So nothing too shmaltzy or anything that could turn into a singalong,” I asked.

”The last thing I want is to hear her breaking into song and throwing me off my concentration.” He unconsciously nibbled faster.

”Well Guido and I have our favourite tracks, but obviously depends if we’re using mayonnaise or melted chocolate at the time.” I dunked my donut. “Listen, I’ll email you a suggestion,”

Later that night I called my mother.

“I can’t talk long darling,” she said all breathy, “I’m seeing a man friend later.”

”Who is he?” I asked.

“Let’s just call him special,” she said.

It was 2 a.m. when I woke up in bed. My eyes were wide open and it wasn’t because Guido was snoring like a fog horn. The penny had finally dropped. After forty years of happy divorce my parents were making love to each other again.

Anyway, here’s the track I picked. If you do try listening to this whilst making love, don’t blame me if you start thinking about two sixty five year fruit cakes having weird sex with a scatter cushion.

Though I really wouldn’t blame you if you did.

In your dreams

I’d like to share an exciting discovery I made recently. Depending on what you like to dream about, this could be a complete game changer in the nocturnal activity stakes.

I can confidently confirm that (and I accept this may initially seem unbelievable to some readers) corn fritters dipped in a chilli sauce will make you dream about Armie Hammer.

I am proof of his pudding.

Last Friday I just happened to randomly eat one and then right after I climbed into bed and fell asleep. When I shut my eyes it was like falling down a rabbit hole. I had one of the most amazing dreams I’d ever had in my entire life, and best of all it involved Armie Hammer with very few clothes on. It’s now happened twice in one week. Both times, corn fritters, chilli dip, strip all my clothes off, climb into bed and then, BAM! A nanosecond later and what d’you know? Armie comes a knock’n. Don’t tell me that’s a freaky coincidence.

I’ve still got to unlock the scientific link between the humble deep fried fritter and the guy who gloriously portrayed a bow legged Lone Ranger, but, let me reassure you – I’m working overtime on it. Corn fritters? I’m all over them.

All I can tell you is Armie’s a hell of a lot more persistent in my dreams than George Clooney ever was. In fact, if you’re reading this George – we’re through. You really can blow hot and cold. Sometimes I don’t see you in my dreams for weeks on end and then right out of the blue you’ll just pop up nonchalantly from under the blanket and expect me to pick up where we left off. Well listen up kiddo, there’s a new hunk on the block.

Honestly, Armie’s got great big hands that can get all over you. Given half a chance he’d knead you like a piece of pliable wet bread dough. In the middle of the night he’s got the ability to get me into positions I didn’t think possible. And here’s the best bit – he’s insatiable. Armie knows no exhaustion. He just keeps going on and on like a love machine so for two consecutive nights this week he just couldn’t seem to get enough of me. If pushed I’d say the feeling was mutual.

“You drive me totally insane,” said Armie, pulling back the sheets and tucking my heels neatly behind my neck. He told me just last night my chilli dip totally hit his spot. He’s making Guido sound like a right lazy bones in the sack – and that’s saying something. Especially if it’s a slow Tuesday in the kitchen and mayonnaise is on bulk buy at the market – if your catching my drift…

“Last night in the middle of the night when you shouted out – Give it to me Kemo Sabe – what exactly did you mean?” said Guido buttering my toast at breakfast time.

It was a tough one to try to explain away but just like Tonto I think I successfully covered my tracks.

”Maybe you should lay off those corn fritters just before bedtime,” said Guido, “I think they might be twisting your mind.”

So there’s a little bedtime homework for you folks on the fritter front. Get frying tonight. Oh, and please don’t forget, tell Armie I said Hello.

At Guido’s table

When you live with a chef, sometimes, you can’t help but feel guilty. I think it’s something to do with all that relentless chopping and slicing and deglazing he does for me. Well, last night I thought, to hell with fricassee. Give the kid a break. Take over. Keep things simple but honestly nutritious.

“This is a genuine surprise,” said Guido laying the table nervously. “The last time you cooked it was definitely a meal to remember.”

And for all the wrong reasons folks.

I fastened on my apron with a fanfare like all the good chefs do.

”Oh don’t worry,” I said breezily, “I’m keeping things simple this time so thought we’d go for something really light – like a tomato soup.”

Guido sat down at the kitchen table. I could sense his anticipation.

“You know, the first item of furniture I ever bought was this table,” he said.

For some strange reason, he knocked wood.

“And a table seemed to me like the most important thing in my life. It talked to me. Food. Family. Friends.”

The first item of furniture I ever bought was a bed. Let me tell you it didn’t talk to me. And I wasn’t thinking of family or friends either, I was thinking about only one thing.

Hot Sex.

I was living in Camden at the time and I was dating an accountant called Coleman. He had a semi-detached house in Kensal Rise so we’d regularly rip each other’s clothes off in North London. I certainly don’t remember a lot of sleeping going on. Of course that relationship flatlined long before I’d met Guido. Which is a relief because if I’d written a blog about getting into bed with an accountant every night I’m guessing it wouldn’t be half as exciting as telling you about how Guido dips his crudités in the nude.

“I’m keeping this simple,” I said resting a tin of soup by the stove, “It’s a classic recipe… Heinz.”

I pulled back the ring pull and decanted the contents into a pan. I held it up and squinted at the instructions. Heat slowly and stir until hot. This sounded complicated. I was beginning to regret not going down the Chopped Salad route.

”Do you think you’ll be serving any accompaniments to go with it?” Guido asked hopefully.

I let out a sigh.

”Well, I was going to open a box of crackers,” I said, “but if you want to test me to my culinary limits I could try simultaneously buttering a bap.”

Honestly! What next, an Ox on a spit?

”Let’s stick with crackers,” said Guido smiling sympathetically. I guess it takes a chef to know pressure, with compassion.

“Voila!”

I poured the steaming soup into bowls and set one down infront of Guido. I watched him gingerly pick up his spoon and dip it in and then taste it.

“Well, what d’you think?” I asked.

He swallowed. He made a funny sucking sound with his tongue. He closed his eyes. He paused.

”You know, I think this might possibly be one of the best tins of soup I’ve had heated for me in my entire life,” he said.

I suggested whipping up something more exotic next week. Like a cheese on toast. But, Guido says I really shouldn’t try to run before I can walk.

A hole in my sock

This is what my blog has sunk to. Telling you about the state of my socks.

Well last night Guido and I were getting into our bed at Denmark Hill. The cafe downstairs was all closed up. The lights were switched off. The walk in freezer was making that annoying whirring noise like a jet engine on it’s final approach to the runway, and the street lamp outside our window had started flickering like a strobe. Honestly, it’s no wonder I’ve got insomnia.

As usual the only thing left to talk about with Guido before lights out was whether I’d flossed and if he was feeling horny.

”Why is it at this time of year when it’s cold outside you get into bed with more clothes on than you usually wear during daylight hours?” asked Guido. He’d flapped the blanket back waiting for me to climb into bed. “And will you hurry up please?”

Guido has this terrific ability to get under the sheets naked but still feel as warm as toast to the touch. He then heats up as the night wears on. It’s as if his internal thermostat has been cranked up at exactly the same time as mine has been switched to zero. If we get in there at midnight he’s all cosy and laid back but trust me, by three o’clock in the morning he’s metamorphosized into the human equivalent of a steam pipe.

”Hang on,” I said, “I’m still pondering what to wear.”

I already had my Justin Bieber pyjamas on. They’ve faded, and over the last twelve months I’ve lost two buttons from the jacket, but I’m still soldiering on. I reckoned I needed another layer so I wrapped a towelling bathrobe round me for luck.

“Ready?” Guido asked.

I could tell he’d lost interest in sex because he could work out how long it would take me to strip off again. Then, just as I pulled a sock over my icy foot, I stuck my big toe through the tip of it.

I let out a wail.

”Oh, what now for crying out loud?” said Guido sitting up again.

”I’ve just poked a hole through my sock.”

I said this in the same way a newsreader would announce a story about some horrible natural disaster.

”Well, just leave it sticking out like I do,” said Guido.

Whislt this sounded perfectly reasonable, in the dead of night it was going to be a constant distraction. There I’d be, waiting for sleep to wash over me, yet still having nagging thoughts my toe was at risk of frost bite. I kicked it off and got into bed with the other sock still on.

I’m really weird when it comes to socks with holes. I’ll throw out the bad one but keep the good. Which explains why we’ve a drawer full of singletons dreaming of the happy day when they’ll eventually be paired up again with a new and interesting partner. Only that never happens. Instead you’ll see Guido walking down the street blissfully unaware he’s got an Argyle golf sock on one foot and a candy stripe on the other.

I was going to tell Guido I thought our sock drawer was a metaphor for our lives – colourful, odd, messy, mismatched – but he was too busy pretending to be asleep.

Over you

When my gay best friend Marc flew halfway across Europe, to Naples, this Summer to try to kiss and make up with his Italian boyfriend, Secondo, I crossed my fingers tight and hoped for the best. Really I did.

”I’ve got my fingers crossed,” I distinctly remember saying to Guido in bed at the time. That got him worried.

Of course I speak metaphorically because when someone you care about flies thousands of miles on a thong and a prayer looking for lasting love with a hot guy he’s known for only a few months, what else can you do? You hope love will out. Well things don’t always go to plan, do they?

Fast forward to last night and Marc was laying crying in our bed. I noticed my pillow looked damp and dented, and not in a good way.

“How could I have been so stupidly naive?” sobbed Marc.

He has passion.

“I mean, can you blame a guy for flying to Italy to surrender his body and soul to a man who’s a doppelgänger for Emmanuel Macron?” he asked.

I sucked my index finger. Then I chewed my nail. I don’t think I agree with his policies but I’d definitely vote to see Emmanuel Macron topless.

”Have you any idea when Marc’s extricating himself from our bed?” said Guido out of the corner of his mouth.

He was hovering in our hallway, wearing only a pair of plaid tartan boxer shorts. I have to tell you the sight was not unappealing.

“I mean, I totally get that he’s tried his luck with a guy who’s hotter than the French President but it’s all ended in a horrible romantic car crash and now we’re picking up the pieces.”

“His Love Boat has sprung a proverbial leak,” I said. I peered into the bedroom. There were wailing noises. “All I can say is Marc seems to be welded to our over blanket right now.”

Guido started pacing back and forth.

“I get it. Really I do. But I’ve got to get into that bed tonight and then back up out of it at 5 a.m. tomorrow to start frying homemade hash browns. Just sayin’.”

Whilst I realised the customers of Denmark Hill were counting on him, I told him to shoosh.

I went into the bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed.

”I’m never dating another Italian again,” said Marc blowing his nose. “In fact I’m never dating another man again.”

Ruling out an entire European nation was one thing but in my opinion discounting a whole gender was a bit worrying for a gay man.

”Okay,” I said, “here’s the deal. If you agree to shift your nervous breakdown from this bed onto our lumpy sofa then I can promise you hash browns for breakfast.” I gave a big smile.

If that hadn’t worked I was happy to lure him with the promise of a slice of Larry Mufffin’s Buttermilk Pie.

Later in bed Guido showed me his appreciation by offering me sex before lights out. He looked at his watch.

“We’ve got time for a quick one if you fancy it?” he said.

Obviously I switched out the lamp. I lay thinking about Emmanuel Macron and whether he wore plaid tartan boxer shorts in the sack.

Marc. This one’s for you.