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Monday, September 29, 2008

The hunt is on

Have no fear, Gareth, you just so happen to be going out with the queen of house hunting, I assured him. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it, I’ll do all the hunting, with pleasure.

And so began my hunt. By flat two, I was bored, frustrated and not at all enjoying myself as much as I had expected. How confusing. I’d done so much house hunting in my time, I was sure I loved it. I thought back… and back came the memories. Oh yes. House hunting with Mum is fun. House hunting with friends is fun. House hunting with Gareth might have been fun if I hadn’t relinquished him of his duties. Alone, it was boring, time consuming and uneventful.

With each new house, I tried desperately to imagine Gareth and I enjoying ourselves there. ‘It’s nice, but the kitchen is a bit tiny,’ I’d complain in my reports to Gareth. He didn’t really care. ‘As long as you’re happy,’ he said. Great. More pressure. He’ll happily move in somewhere rubbish as long as I tell him I’m happy, then I won’t be happy, then it’ll be all my fault for forcing an image of happiness upon myself and settling for a rubbish flat.

And so the hunt continued.

Then, late one evening, Gareth and I trudged through another estate agent’s website. Me, disgruntled and frustrated, him, keen and eager. Oh look, Gareth says, that’s an amazing flat. A converted chapel, and well below our price range.It’s a bit out of town, but let’s see it anyway, he suggests. So, we booked in for the next day and together – the first and only flat Gareth saw – we drove half way to Bath.

Oh. My. God. We found the one. Immediately in love with it before we’d even set foot inside just because the car parking spaces had head stones, I was jumping up and down in excitement as we waited for the agent. It just got better. The flat was beautiful. No, beautiful doesn’t do it justice. Charismatic, unusual, eccentric, each room is on a different floor, there is a walk-in wardrobe, there are beams (beams! I love beams!). There’s history. There’s huge church windows. There’s an immaculate kitchen and a bottle of champagne waiting for the winners. It’s the kind of flat that initiates conversation. The kind of flat we can show off. The kind of flat that featured in none other than Country Life. And anyone’s who’s anyone knows Country Life don’t feature anything but the most eccentric of abodes.

Gareth plays it cool, moseying from room to room and asking professional questions. Who cares about council tax, GIVE ME THIS FLAT! I want to hug the agent. We have found the flat. The One. I have never been so excited in all my life.

I’ve never wanted to live with a boyfriend before. I came close once, with my longest term boyfriend, Lewis. He wanted to within about a week of the relationship, or course, for I am a wonderful cook. But something held me back. ‘We’ll get a red colander,’ he promised. It wasn’t enough. I promised myself I wouldn’t live with just any old boyfriend, only a very special one. Only the One.

I’ve changed my stance now. I’ve realised you just don’t know who the One is. But I do know that Gareth is without a doubt the One Right Now (a less well known search) and that he’s going to be really fun to live with. Just as long as my moving-in present isn’t a red colander.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

The mother of all protests.

Not so long ago my sister, Tammi, was hit with the news that seven years of blood, sweat and tears, turning a pokey snooker club into ''one of London’s coolest bars'' (Time Out) would be met by the council’s decision to fill her underground rhapsody of Bohemia with cement.

Determined not to go down without a fight, Tammi and Colin, her partner in crime and management, set about inviting every Tom, Dick and Harry to a 2 hour protest on top of their club.

A protest? Oh god. I hate that sort of thing. Will there be a lot of naked hippies with their boobs around their ankles? Do I have to chain myself to a tree? Come on Kim, this is your sister we’re talking about, you will chain yourself to whatever she wants and you will not be cynical or disparaging. For once.

Well, I should have known better. I should have known there would be no chains, no hippies (well, a few) and no chanting.

Instead there was ska music, there was Earl Orkin, there was free booze and free hotdogs. There was a warmth in the crowd which I’ve come to expect from any crowd associated with Ginglik. It’s a rather special place, you see. Through their charm and welcoming nature, Tammi and Colin have provided west London with more than just a bar. Once people stumble upon it, they never go back to the Walkabout. It’s a gem of a place, thrown in amongst the one-pound shops, dirt and grime of Shepherd’s Bush and I’m proud to know the owners.

More than proud. When I’m talking to people there I can’t wait to crowbar into the conversation that I’m Tammi’s sister. 'Are you?' they exclaim, showering Tammi, via me, with compliments about the wonder of Ginglik. The power of their words is explosive.

What is Ginglik? People ask me, is it because Colin is ginger? Does Tammi lick him? Tempting as it is to let people think this, I explain that it means Explosive Power. Then I tell them I’m Tammi’s sister and perhaps they should buy me a drink.

As my wonderful and slightly tipsy brother, Jae, and I took over the free bar, handing out beer and hotdogs to all and sundry, a disheveled, toothless man in an inside-out jumper stumbled over to me.

‘Is this a free bar?’ he slurs.

‘Sure, beer or wine?’ I ask cheerfully. His eyes widen in amazement.

‘And free food?’ he says, literally salivating.


He turns around, waves his arms frantically then turns back to me.

‘Well I’ll have a beer then!’ he says, all his dreams coming true at once. Within seconds his entourage of fellow homeless hobo’s have arrived to pillage all they can. What a lucky day for them. There they were, picking apple cores off the dirty streets of Shepherd’s Bush (probably) and drinking 12p lager from Tesco, when the sound of live ska lured them to the green. A free bar, free food…. Tammi looks on, her temper brewing. She doesn’t want that kind of riffraff in here. It’s not like they care about Ginglik.

How about a written test, I suggest to Jae. If they know what Ginglik is, and ten other difficult questions, they can stay.

My idea falls flat and instead, long after the protest has finished and all the middle class people have descended to the night club to start paying for their drinks, the hobo’s are still milling around, toasting hot dog buns (all we had left) on the BBQ and filling them with ketchup.

Oh well. I’ve seen Trading Places. Maybe one of them is a secret millionaire and our generosity will be repayed when he buys Hammersmith and Fulham council and reissues the Ginglik lease. Because, in the greater scheme of things, that’s all that matters.

Gareth told me that if I got a good enough shot of the evening, he’d put it out to the papers. ‘Get high,’ he said, not suggesting I have a sneaky spliff with the hobos, but suggesting I climb a tree to get my good shot. I dutifully climbed. I was so overwhelmed by the warmth of the crowd, dancing, waving placards, cheering and smiling in the evening sunshine, that I was almost moved to crowd surf over the permeating love.

So now I like protests. I think I’ll start protesting more things. Anyone got any trees that need saving? Chain me up. But please supply free beer. Me and the hobos would expect nothing less.
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Friday, September 19, 2008

A right royal knee's up

This blog is about Amy Rowland. It’s long overdue and I can only apologise to the lovely, big bosomed lady who sits three doors to my right, her chirpy northern chatter like a lullaby to my right ear, her peroxide blonde hair a twinkle in the peripheral vision of my right eye, her smile, wit and warmth a wonder to behold.

Ever since I started this blog-fest, this marathon of writing (and it’s more than one a month Gareth Jones) Amy has been a fan. I’d even boldly go so far as to say she loves it. But as she read each entry – one about Hannah and I buying shoes, one about Gareth and I camping, one about Skinner and I eating lunch – she had but one question. When, Kim Willis, will I be featured?

Amy began to question her merits. Was she not as fun as Hannah? Did our nights on the town mean nothing?

But the more she pined, the drier the sponge that is my brain became. Yes, she is – you are – incredibly fun. I love it when Amy gets the giggles, I don’t think anything makes me laugh more than when Amy gets the giggles. I love it when she inappropriately grabs her boobs in front of men and says ‘I’m good at chatting up men’. I love that she hates it when people cry in front of her, doesn’t know how to react, and yet reacts as any perfect friend would when I cry. I love that she has a sense of humour comparable only with a man – and that’s why I love men. Because to them, everything is funny, nothing is offensive. Men and Amy Rowland.

So what to write my Amy tribute blog about? There can only be one night to recount.

I love it when friends from different social groups get on. Remember that scene in Spaced when Tyres takes everyone to a club and they all have a jolly time and he assess the situation from the smoke-filled doorway and, palms together, says ‘my work here is done’ ? That’s how I feel. Bring the brilliant people together, that’s my job.

And so I invited Nicola Apples Appleton and Amy Lysette Rowland for dinner at my house, along with Michael Henry Wiper and Olly Big Eyes Not Sure What Your Surname Is.

Sun shining, we gathered in the garden for pre-dinner drinks. Everyone was getting on just dandy. Olly’s a funny old man. He was in a relationship for seven years or some ridiculous amount of time, and has just broken free. He appears to be rather taken aback by how the world has changed since he was 15. His eyes are always wide, none more so than if you say something shocking. I’m sure he just has big eyes, but his constant look of rabbit-in-the-headlines shocked leaves me wishing I was a librarian.

We’re all outside, wine flowing, guacamole gone. I feel like Tyres - everyone is bonding well.

Dinner done, we sat about eating cheese. I think. I forget what was eating because all I can remember is what happened next. There was a lull in conversation. Shock! Horror! These people don’t know each other, there can’t be a lull! Don’t you worry, Amy Rowland to the rescue.

‘Shall we see how many of my mates will send me a picture of their cocks?’ she asks, as calmly as if she’s asking the time.

Olly’s eyes widen.

Amy whips out her phone and sends a message to all the men out there – hey you, long time no speak, could you please send me a picture of your cock – or words to that effect.

We all have a good laugh about how wild our Amy is. There were probably a few dick jokes and the banter was certainly restored. Within a minute her text message was all but forgotten.

And then… beep beep. Beep beep. Beep beep. Not one, not two, but DOZENS of Amy’s male friends are apparently willing (and able – as in, in a place or situation where they CAN get their dicks out and take a picture) to send Amy a picture without question.

Olly’s eyes widen.

Amy gets the giggles.

We all gather round to judge the offerings.

And then – from one –the ultimate. Without even being asked, he sends more than just a picture. He sends a video, of him bringing himself to orgasm.

I think Olly slipped into a state of shock. I don’t think he knew girls like Amy existed.

Mike then proceeded to make a vagina out of his knee so that Amy had something to send back to the poor men. Most of them thought they were in, quickly texting back to find out if Amy was free and fancied a drink.

A lesson, to anyone lucky enough to be a man and in Amy’s phonebook, is never ever send her a picture of your penis upon request, because you never know what kind of lull she is trying to fill, how many of her friends she is going to show and how many of Mike’s knees she’ll borrow to make you think she thinks your penis is worth a picture of her fake knee-vagina.

I think you think she’ll think it’s your lucky day, but I know she knows you don’t know it’s just a hairy knee.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

On a wing and a prayer

People are always surprised when I say I’m not one for adrenalin.

I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I charge around a lot and make noise when drunk. It makes people think I want to jump out of a plane. Maybe it’s because of my assertive nature. It makes people think I want to risk my life on some white water rapids.

Whatever the assumption, it’s wrong. I don’t want to jump out of a plane and I certainly don’t want to rapid any water, white or otherwise. I like my water serene, blue, with tropical fish swimming in it while I sunbathe nearby. I like my planes to take me to hot countries, not high into the sky only for me to plummet back down to earth. I’m sure my heart would think I was trying to kill myself and would have an attack before I got to the bottom anyway.

When I (rarely) go on rollercoaster rides I am too scared to scream. I just shut my eyes and pray to survive. Tammi and I once took our darling sister Pip, blind and epileptic, on a rollercoaster. I still shudder at the memory. It was at Legoland, and there were kids knee high to a grass hopper queing up, how scary could it be? But for Tammi and I, with sight, it was the scariest thing we’d ever done. Poor Pip was in tears in seconds, I thought she was going to have a seizure. The picture they take of you ‘having fun’ on the down bit just shows the three of us cowering in each other’s armpits while my then boyfriend cheered and whooped alone. Horrible.

This job doesn’t really help my confidence for adrenalin. Off the top of my head I can think of a dozen stories I have chased to fuel my fear: a girl on a rollercoaster who got flung off. Died. A guy who jumped out of a plane and his parachute didn’t open. Died. A couple who got lost on a mountain side and spent days battling the elements. Survived. Earned me £3000. Nice.

The point is, when my best friends present me with a birthday present of a gliding trip, I have to wonder how well they actually know me. One of the friends, Michael Henry Wiper, suffers a lot for his cause (of being my best friend). He once got me a bar of soap for Christmas. He hasn’t forgotten it because I remind him pretty much every day. ‘My distant relatives get me toiletries for Christmas, it’s because they don’t know me,’ I told him at the time, just before I ripped off the wrapping to find not a brand new coconut and lime soap (would at least have shown he knows what I like the smell of) but a used, still frothing bar, complete with a pube.

I think he thought he was being funny. I think that was the last year I spend £25 on him.

So as I tried to sound enthusiastic and grateful, my inner demons were drunk on the fear. Was I expected to fly a plane? Land the plane? Parachute out of the plane? Am I even in a plane or being dragged behind it?

The day neared and Mike and Cords (present givers) and Cesca (home for high jinks) and I set off for a beautiful summer’s day in Devizes.

Thank goodness Cesca was leading the driving convoy and got us lost in Bath for an hour. Stalling, stalling, I like it… Then she got stressed out and demanded we go to a pub first. Dutch courage, yes please, make mine a double.

Lunch was lovely and the last time I’ll see Cesca for probably two years. But it wasn’t as sad as last time she left, for some reason. Maybe because I’ve got used to the idea of her leaving. Maybe because I had other things on my mind, like my impending death.

We arrived at the airfield and a man with a big belly and a stupid hat proceeded to tell us that gliding is a sport (is that how he keeps so trim) and that not even a sip of alcohol is permitted in your system. My chance to opt out? Nah, the vodka sitting inside me gave me a new found confidence. Screw him and his rules! Hand me the plane, I’ll be fine.

As it was, I had nothing to worry about. It was a two man glider and my instructor, Dave, or Ben, or something, I don’t know, I wasn’t concentrating on his name, I was concentrating on the girth of his plane… was a lovely man who was clearly used to wimps like me. Off we went to snoop around the stately homes and swimming pools of the many gardens of the many little villages in Devizes. I think I even saw Cesca’s manor house. I definetly saw one of her horses. I think it was the little beauty who threw me off not so long ago.

At one point Dave Ben let me be in charge of the joy stick thing. I think he immediately regretted it as I didn’t have a tender enough touch for so delicate a manoeuvre as a nose dive and we probably almost died.

Once I’d got used to it, I could enjoy the view and the sunshine and the looking at houses from on top. I would even go so far, now I’m back on safe ground, as to say it was over too quickly. It was certainly better than soap.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bestival Festival

What really annoys me about muddy festivals is there is always one ‘crazy loon’ (twat) who thinks it’s really funny to slide around in the mud, laughing manically while smearing mud on their face, in their hair, over their tops. They are usually not one, actually, but a group of equally annoying ‘mad’ people all throwing mud at each other and having a really fun time.

As I watch them from the sanity, sanctity and sanctuary of my waterproofs, I can’t help thinking that they haven’t thought through their little game.

I mean, what are the practicalities of mud swimming? You get muddy, wet and cold very quickly. Then what? You go back to your tent where you don’t have a shower and you get changed into cold wet clothes that haven’t been hanging over a warm radiator.

Do they sleep like that? Doesn’t the mud dry on their faces?

Another thing that annoys me about festivals is the eternal question when you get back – what bands did you see. I didn’t see any bloody bands. Screw the bands!

Festivals are about getting drunk and talking to strangers. Festivals are about meeting people called Strider and drinking cider for breakfast. They are about realising your friends are so brilliant they could be in that Carling advert where all the great friends play cricket on the beach and DO NOT play in the mud. Something in the festival air made me love my friends very much indeed.

Ok, I think I did see the Bees, or at least was in ear shot of them. Apparently I was at Hot Chip. The one guy I did want to see, Scroobious Pip, changed his slot and played before his allocated time so we missed him. His loss.

The music guides were £6 which really annoyed me too as I’d already forked out £150 to bloody walk through the muddy gate. Surely that should be included in the price?

But I didn’t need a guide. I just needed to know where Cesca was at all times to ensure I was having optimum fun. And fun I did have. So much so that I think I have slipped into depression now.

I cried last night and even went so far as to doubt myself as a person which is ridiculous as I’m pretty bloody brilliant. If I remember correctly I cried because I asked Gareth to talk to me about some twaddle and he suggested we play table tennis. Tear-worthy stuff.

I think this Bestival was my third favourite festival. I don’t like to moan about the mud, much, but it is a challenge. But one that this year I think we conquered.

Last year at Glastonbury, the mud definitely won. But this year, we won. We didn’t talk to nearly enough strangers but without grass to run around on or sunshine to run around in, I think people were less inclined to entwine. I’ll never forget Strider and Guy but there should have been 400 of them, each night. Most of the time, I'd even go so far as to describe Laurence as quiet. Unheard of.

Next year, it’s going to be sunny. The Isle of Wight has it’s own weather system, you see. It’s not like the mainland. Doesn't generate clouds, I tell you.

Last weekend was just a hiccup in the ever sunny realm of summer that is the Isle of Wight, and next year we will return almighty and hearts will be touched once more. Even just thinking about it is bringing me out of my depression and into a much sunnier disposition. Anyone for table tennis?
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It's a cat's life

Having dumped all my Bestival stuff in my room and headed back out into my hectic social life last night, I returned this evening to the fragrant pong of drying mud, musty caravan and wet clothes. Nice. As I set about tidying up, Chairman Meow, our beloved cat, came to sit with me.

Two things you need to know about Chairman are: when he first arrived he singled my bed out as the only bed in the house to wee on. All the time. And the other is that Gareth is allergic to him and so I’ve promised him that I never let him in my room.

Chairman! How lovely of you to join me. Come, take a seat on my bed why don’t you. May I say how lovely it is that you no longer pee on my bed? And my, what a fine coat you have.

We chatted as I continued to throw everything I’d ever owned into the ‘wash’ pile, for it had all been contaminated with the smell of mud.

Then, as cats do, Chairman had had enough of my charm and was off. I looked back at where he had been, and rage slowly surged through me. CHAIRMAN! You’ve pissed on my bed again!

A wet patch just where he’d been. Why you little !!!!

I chased after him, he now having a morsel of food from his bowl downstairs. I know what to do when a cat pees on your bed. I'm an expert. You put their face in it and hit their nose. That learns them. So I did this, him whimpering and trying to get away. As I held him, I realised he was rather wet and it had been raining when I got home…

Oh no. Someone arrest me for cruelty to animals. I smelt the wet patch. I’d know if it was cat wee. It’s the most horrible smell in the world.

The duvet was odourless. I hugged Chairman tightly, apologising profusely.

You don’t understand what I’m saying but I’m so sorry Chairman, I thought you’d weed, you hadn’t….I’m forever sorry, I pleaded, nuzzling up to him. He wriggled from my grip and sauntered out, our friendship gone. Our secret bedroom meetings behind Gareth’s back, over.

Just as he left me, Gareth called. I was too upset to hide my emotions and told him everything.

Reminds me of that story your Grandma (always) tells us, Gareth laughs. You know, the one about the Welsh dog, Bedd Gelert, who was just trying to do a good thing and protect the baby. But his owner came in, saw him covered in blood and jumped to the conclusion that he’d tried to maul the baby, and shot him. Only later did he see the dead fox and realise the dog had protected the baby from the fox.

Great. So Chairman is likened to a hero baby saving dog by the very man who originally didn’t even like the bloody animal, and I feel even worse.

Think I’ll go open some tuna and buy back his love.
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