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Misery Guts

The miserable old Pakistani man behind the counter in the corner shop was this morning in an even gloomier mood than usual. For some odd reason he always calls me Steve.

‘Mr Mishri, I keep telling you, my name’s not Ste – ‘

‘What’s that, Steve?’

‘Never mind.’

I asked him why he looked so despondent.

‘Business is so bad these days, Steve. The closer we get to Christmas, the fewer people come into the shop. It’s a self-fulfilling vicious spiral.’

I don’t quite know why but I have a vague suspicion that he actually enjoys being miserable. He seems to take great pleasure in constantly reminding his customers about how awful his life is; or perhaps, when he is not expertly mixing his metaphors, he is on some kind of personal quest to redefine despair and hopeless depression. ‘I think I’ll end up having to close the shop, Steve.’

‘I’ll alert the media,’ I told him as I was paying for my milk and frozen peas.

On my way out, the little bell above the door sounded its optimistic ting! and Mr Misery asked me a question: ‘Do you think we’ll ever find what we’re looking for, Steve?’

I was slightly taken aback. ‘I hope not,’ I told him, after a pause.

Just before Audrey and I reached the house, I started to indulge a fantasy in which I contrived to meet Jennifer Aniston in the Navigation Inn in Newark-on-Trent and asked her to marry me. She said yes, of course. My ex-wife came in while we were busy celebrating, and began to cry. She looked old.

Legless in London

‘I was still completely rat-arsed when she walked straight past me. She had a bag on her head, fer God’s sake!’

Nelson has just got off the phone telling me how, after a yet another drunken night in the West End, he found himself standing outside the High Court in London early this morning when Heather Mills McCartney arrived to attend the day’s proceedings for her divorce settlement from Sir Paul. ‘I couldn’t believe it,’ he continued. ‘I thought it was Spongebob Squarepants at first.’

He was making me howl with laughter. ‘You’re still drunk even now, aren’t you, Nel?’ I asked him.

‘You hate me, don’t you?’ he moaned.

I ignored him. ‘She’s going to end up getting about a thousand million pounds from him, isn’t she?’ I ventured.

‘I know!’ he replied. ‘What did you get in your settlement when you got divorced from that unfaithful French floozy?’

‘Not as much as that,’ I told him.

‘How much, Napoleon,’ he insisted. We were both giggling like idiots.

‘Ten bob and a conker,’ I said.


I do not watch much television, but I must say that seeing Dannii Minogue on The X-Factor on Saturday evening didn’t half make me feel fruity.

I used to quite fancy Kylie, but my attention has now been drawn to her dark-haired sibling. She reminds me somewhat of my ex-wife who, if the truth be told, I still really miss when I am feeling lonely and weak.

I was telling Nelson of my nascent attraction to the Australian songstress and he quickly brought me back down to earth. ‘I saw Dannii Minogue in a bar in the West End last month. When she came back from the toilet, she had a wet patch on her crotch,’ he told me.

Dear old Nelson, he does tend to make me focus and see things in a much more sober light when he thinks that the situation demands it. But even so, his observations have not dampened my resolve to keep watching this egregiously bad television programme so that I might continue to drool over my new antipodean object of desire.

On the Fantastic hi-fi today:
Rilo Kiley – Under the Blacklight
Jimmy Eat World – Jimmy Eat World
Perfection – Dannii Minogue

Spice Rack

Nelson rang at 9pm last night. He sounded a little down. ‘What’s wrong?’ I asked him.

‘I’m out on the town again. West End,’ he told me.

‘I detect a certain ambivalence in your voice, Nel,’ I said. He told me that he was celebrating ‘all the possibilities that summer in this city offers in such charming abundance’ with some glamorous friends and was anxious about the hours ahead.

I could sympathise with him only too well as he continued: ‘I’ve reached that acute stage where I’ve had too many beers to stop, but I know that if I carry on, it will be much worse.’

‘Just enjoy yourself, Nelson,’ I told him. ‘You’re only young once. Don’t worry about the consequences – and anyway, you should be used to them by now. And remember: a rolling stone gathers no moths.’ That last bit confused him as I knew it would, I could hear him frowning over the phone. I felt I had put his mind at rest, though. But I also feared that I would be getting a call from a London hospital or a police station later on – a usual occurrence in the early hours of Saturday mornings. Luckily, I didn’t, so I am assuming that no great harm came to him on this occasion.

Before he said goodbye and hung up, he told me that he had just seen Geri Halliwell – aka Ginger Spice – in a bar in Soho. ‘She looked like mutton dressed as pork,’ he happily informed me.

‘Don’t you mean lamb?’ I asked him. ‘Mutton dressed as lamb.’

‘No, pork,’ he insisted, beginning to slur his words.

I’m afraid that it was just further bitchiness and drunken invective that informed our conversation from that point onwards. I promise to one day record one of these strident discussions, transcribe it and post it here in all of its uncensored glory. I know you will be thoroughly enthralled by his colourful views and perceptive observations. I keep telling him to start his own blog. ‘I would do,’ he insists, ‘but I haven’t got enough lawyers.’

On the Fantastic hi-fi today:
Parallel Lines – Blondie
Transatlantic Ping-Pong – Glenn Tilbrook

It’s not the Paris Hilton

It is in fact a Los Angeles County jail in Lynwood, California.

‘I’m definitely scared, but I’m ready to face my sentence,’ Ms Hilton told reporters on the red carpet at the MTV Movie Awards only hours before the 26-year-old heiress turned herself into authorities on Sunday.

She may be rich, and she is certainly very pretty, but Nelson met her recently and told us, ‘She has the personality of an oyster.’

Such a foodstuff is something that she will not be consuming for a few days – not fresh ones, anyway. Maybe they have tinned oysters in jail.

And of course, the above portrayal is merely that of a provocative and nascent, transvestite pop star. Although he was being very unequivocal, it is simply Nelson’s personal opinion, and the description has not – as yet – been officially confirmed.

L’Etoile Mystérieuse

Nelson is back home in London now and he rang today to tell me of a stimulating evening he spent in the company of a famous French movie-star.

‘I can’t tell you who it is, Nap, but suffice it to say, he is very, very well-known and respected,’ he told me over the phone.

Apparently, they spent an intense and exceptionally drunken night out together exploring Nelson’s favourite Soho bars and clubs. The ‘movie-star’ eventually managed to jump into a black cab and return to his hotel, whilst Nelson ended up wandering half-naked around Soho with a portable TV under his arm, talking to a planet.

God knows what happened to him after that, but from what I can gather, he managed to affect an eventual return to his flat after first visiting the casualty department of The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel – a favourite of his.

I sometimes feel that Nelson is the focus of some terrible energy as he constantly seems to be in the middle of some acute and absurd adventure that only he can conjure up.
‘No, I really can’t tell you who it was, Napoleon. But get this: the guy wears a nappy! Yep, that’s right – a diaper, a man-nappy – under his boxers!’ he insisted. I am sure that Nelson – knowing him as I do – will now be seriously considering the adoption of this bracing Gallic system of emergency bowel management.

He went on to explain to me that this mysterious Parisian star sometimes ventures out of an evening knowing that so many drugs and alcohol will be consumed that he has resorted to wearing such a device for fear of soiling himself in public.

I shall try to find out who this person is that has decided to utilise such finely tuned methods of enterprising preparation, and I promise to report back should I discover his identity.

I do, however, consider the whole thing to be less of an amusing revelation, and more of a sober and prudent warning for us all.

On the Fantastic hi-fi today:
40 Greatest hits – Hank Williams
A Weekend in the City – Bloc Party

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