I’m at a bar mid-way up The Shard. Corporate party. Assholes in suits. And because I’m now also an asshole in a suit, I’m obliged to attend. It’s an evening of salesmen backslapping each other and subservient waiters handing out lukewarm canapés.
I hate these things. Even though I know a bunch of people, I think, well, I don’t really want to talk to them, so they most certainly won’t want to talk to me. I have an inability to make small talk. I’ve never been able to inanely chat about the weather or my most recent holiday or the fucking Kardashians. I just don’t care. So I stand alone at the window with my glass of shiraz, looking out onto London.
A distant colleague approaches. “I’m not sure about this wine.” He’s lonely, too. Maybe we’ll become friends.
“Yeah,” I say, trying to give it an air of authority. It’s hard to be a connoisseur when your wine education started and ended with a Budgens bargain bucket. All I know is that if it doesn’t turn your mouth blue, it’s probably okay. I can talk about Scotch and vodka for years, though. There are some luxuries I’ve afforded myself in my old age and premium liquor is one of them.
“Game of Thrones tonight,” says my new mate.
“I’m not really bothered about it.”
“Are you mental? It’s the best TV show ever.”
So then I launch into my monologue about how it’s essentially Dallas with tits and decapitation and is a show for teenage boys, written by teenage boys and that the main way they develop female characters is have someone rape them.
“But that’s what it was like back then,” he says.
I down my wine and leave.
I guess maybe I have some form of social anxiety. I suppose that’s how it could be diagnosed. Really, though, I just plain don’t like people sometimes.
Parties are tough when you do most of your living in your head. Work parties, tougher still. You haven’t even chosen those cunts as your peers.
And it’s not like I can talk about regular hobbies.
“Yeah, marathon training’s going great.”
“Sporty. Love it. Next weekend I’m hiking 18 miles.”
“You boys are too active. I spend all my spare time fixing my collection of vintage cars.”
“What did you do at the weekend, Jack?”
“Me? I wrote a short story where guy files his boss’s stiletto heel into a point so she gets her foot stuck in a drain while crossing the road and then is hit by a bus.”
I usually just lie and say I went out for dinner with friends or some sort of anodyne anecdote like that. You can be pretty damn sure I didn’t go out for dinner with friends.
I tend to make excuses for not attending these things. My brother has had six birthdays already this year. I don’t know why I went to that one. I guess sometimes you’ve gotta remind yourself why you don’t do certain things.
Anyway, it’s all good material. Taking in the London skyline with a bunch of swinging dicks and pretending I have an opinion about the wine. It’s all good character stuff.
I’ve been quiet recently and that’s because I’ve been writing. Keeping at it. Head down. Dedication, etc.