Sunday, 13 July 2014

Drag queens and footballers

It's been incredibly muggy today; the sort of day which you spend with beads of sweat permanently dancing on on your forehead. It's the sort of day when old ladies sit on terraces, flapping their crimplene skirts and wondering when the storm's going to come! It's also one of those days when giant flying ants appear and start randomly crawling all over anything that doesn't move. I find them particularly unpleasant to look at, with their giant abdomens and tiny heads. The pavements are covered in little purple streaks where people have trodden on them and they've exploded like miniature black currents.

Aside from this, the majority of today was very much like every other day this week. I'm still orchestrating Brass. 14 songs so far with seven to go, which I suspect means I'm 2/3rds of the way through. Each morning I wake up and die a little inside at the prospect of opening up the computer and selecting another file. It's okay once I've dived in and made a start, but those moments after I've had my Weetabix and checked my emails are deeply unpleasant.

Philippa rescued me today by insisting that I went to her house to watch the World Cup play-offs, or whatever they call the bit when they work out who's come third. I arrived at about 8.30 with an hour of work still to do, which I did in front of the match.

I'll confess to being a little surprised that the World Cup was still going on, but I enjoyed the match as one with no knowledge of football enjoys a spectacle. I liked looking at the people with painted faces in the crowd, and the little men in hi-viz jackets whose job it is to simply stare at the crowd - one assumes to make sure they don't start rioting. Philippa is hugely knowledgeable about football, however. She was talking about dives and off-sides and genuinely seemed to have an interest in the quality of football being played.

My favourite thing was watching the little men being stretchered off the pitch. From above they looked like they were being carted off in tiny blue coffins. One of the Dutch players was called Dailey Blind. He got stretchered off rather rapidly. Of course he did. He's blind. Do you suppose he has a sister called Venetian?

My god daughter, Deia, poor thing, has chicken pox, and she made an appearance at one stage with her little sad face covered from top to bottom in Calamine lotion. I would have thought in the 36 years since I had chicken pox that the cures might have moved on, but it seems Calamine is still the only way forward.

Dylan and Philippa took it in turns to tuck her back into bed, but every so often she'd appear again, feeling all hot and itchy. Today is not a good day to have chicken pox!

Dylan was on good form and kept me well entertained with delicious sandwiches, and thought-provoking  conversation. Today I learned how many countries are entirely in the South equator (41) and about "confirmation bias," which is probably too elaborate a concept for 1.30am!

We also had a long chat about the joy of drag queen names. For the uninitiated, a good drag queen name needs to be a pun on a girl's name, preferably with a sexual innuendo somewhere in the mix or a reference to camp culture. Chrystal Balls, for example, or Ginny Tonic. The fun game is trying to come up with your own. I, for example, would want to be known as Flo Parr, and Nathan favours either Delta Blow, or, if he was black, Rachel Hatred. I was impressed by how speedily Dylan arrived at Anya Littledogtoo! See how fun drag queen names can be?!

Philippa lives around the corner from Old Street, which has to be one of the least pleasant parts of London. I've written more than once about how awful it is during the day with its fashionistas and ├╝ber cool be-skinny-jeaned-start-up-internet-company types. But on a Saturday night, when the bearded hipsters have vacated the area and cleared off to the equally try-hard mini-district known as Broadway Market in Hackney, Old Street becomes the terrain of slags with cellulite and Ben Sherman-shirted men, who stare aggressively whilst drinking beer with one hand in their pocket. It's a desperately primal scene. Essentially these men, many of whom have shaven heads, are looking for an excuse for a fight. I suspect they think it attracts the women folk. They are like peacocks attempting to strut  their stuff in front of a ghastly row of drunken, curiously plain peahens. Part of me wonders if straight men feel the need to behave like this because a woman in one's life is inherently emasculating.
As I walked home tonight, the first drops of rain arrived. Like tiny crystals they were, filling the air with a beautiful rainy smell, which you rarely find in the city. I believe the smell of summer rain is amongst the most glorious scents in the world. It's right up there with creosote and truffle oil!

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