Saturday, 14 April 2007

The Touch Typed Diary - Party

Some background to what follows can be found here. Other installments are here.

I started this as a way to train at touch typing (hence the title) which I have finally taken up learning more or less seriously. At first I was typing what nonsense came across my mind and deleted it once I had finished. Gradually, it just turned into a diary relating the events (not very numerous) of my life. This has also the advantage of keeping me relatively busy at work when I have nothing else to do which seem to happen rather frequently these days.

04 February 2002

Once again I have been very bad this weekend. I have not been able to go running again. Perhaps though I can be redeemed by the fact that I had to take a long walk at a rather good pace in the middle of the night of Saturday to Sunday.

It all started on Tuesday, with MPB asking me to accompany her to this birthday party, as she felt nervous about going there on her own. On Friday night, we talked on the phone and decided to meet at Waterloo station around 4.20pm, which would allow us to be in Sidcup around 5.

On the day, of course, MPB was late which meant it was 17.40 when E., the husband of J., the birthday “girl”, picked us up from the station at New Eltham. I was now well and truly on my way to what was to be the worst party I have ever been to.

It all started well enough and in the most mundane way possible. Greetings, handing out of the presents, Can I take your coat?, introduction to the other guests; the usual.

The hosts had apparently just moved in to this place and they were duly congratulated. J. was turning 40 or 41 that night (that night, officially, anyway) I am not quite sure.

She is a tallish woman dressed in black with dark red dyed hair. Her face is like her body: round and without grace. And like MPB is of Polish origin like most of the guest would be that night.

In fact apart from one Ukrainian (the husband), one Brit. and one Turk, I was the only none Polish of the ten-strong group. I was being introduced to a new culture!!! with its strange rites and allegiances.

MPB had warned me, beforehand and several times, about the ways of your average Polish host. The man of the house is in charge of the party and must make sure that each and every guest is entertained and has enough to drink and to eat. This, apparently, can lead to your glass being refilled more often than you might reasonably wish; hence the French expression “soul comme un polonais”, I suppose.

Another important trait of the Polish partygoer is his thirst for gossip and his unashamed and persistent quest for it.

I was soon to discover how true this was.

As soon as MPB set foot in the living room where the guests were gathered, she was assailed by questions of a rather intimate and insistent kind. These were soon extended to me has I was assumed to be MPB’s boyfriend.

The interrogation was lead by Jh, someone in his 40’s, rather ugly, and the happy owner of the most tactless self-assurance I have ever seen. The guy just poisoned the atmosphere of the whole party and it was not until he had left that things started to really lighten up.

In Poland, it is apparently considered as humour to try and get your own back at the other guests of a party and to practice what can only be called back-stabbing to entertain yourself. People will be rude to each other, husbands will discuss their former conquest in front of their wives, total strangers will be asked about their sentimental (or even sexual) life.

The other major characteristic of the party seems to be that everything has to revolve around sex. This is how, as I was engage in conversation (or should I say lecture?) by my Ukrainian host about his early political conscience of the downfalls of communism, that he ended up informing me of his view that the only important things in life are the sexual intercourses you get to experience with women (the more, the better, obviously).

I will not talk of all the rubbing that took place between almost anyone present under pretence of dancing.

Still according to MPB’s information, people are not to remain single; they are expected to marry and have children. In order to ensure that this happens parties are occasions to set eligible bachelors up in the hope that some happy conclusion will take place.

MPB, although still technically married, is obviously regarded as single and was therefore duly introduced to a single man who had been invited for the purpose. This person, not withstanding my presence (I was the boyfriend apparent, remember?), proceeded to assiduously pursuing MPB the whole evening and eventually asking her, if she was at least up for a shag.

MPB and I had decided that we would be back in Central London for 11pm, but time went on (almost!) unnoticed and it was 1am when MPB realised, with some difficulty, that she could not go back home. She had intended on asking for a lift from one of the other guests, but all those who remained had decided to spend the night. There were half-hearted talks of taxis but nothing happened.

Since, for some unknown reason, I could not face spending the night there and feeling almost panicky at the idea, I enquired about night buses and decided to take my chance.

After waiting for about an hour (during which 2 buses should have come and gone), I decided to start walking towards a point on the bus route where buses became more frequent, though hoping I would manage to catch one on the way.

I was unfortunately not that lucky and had to trail along about 6km of mostly deserted residential streets with only the sporadic help of bus stop maps to guide me. I reached Eltham around 3am and finally got a bus to Lewisham were I had to wait again, for N47 this time. It was 4pm when I went to bed.

When I woke up I was obviously quite still tired after the night’s events and my legs felt stiff and ached. I managed to drag myself to B&Q though where I bough insulating rubber to put around my bedroom door (to fend off the cigarette smell coming form next door) and a plant, a spatyphilum, which I baptised Julie. From my experience, I know they are quite resilient and seem to be OK with having little daylight; which is convenient as my room faces north and is therefore quite dark.

During the following afternoon, MPB rang me and we had a three hour long conversation about our ordeal in godforsaken Sidcup, Kent (and related matters).

Tonight is my third rehearsal with the chorus. I brought on ad for the reading group, which I will try to post on one of the notice boards available where we rehearse.

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