Monday 19 February

February 19, 2007 at 2:47 pm (blog)

I am sitting at my desk. To my left is the front light from my bicycle. The mouse, my mobile phone, scarf and bicycle helmet are to my right. A woman with blond hair is at the photocopier, which is next to the plant, which is next to me. My colleague Stuart, a fellow freelance, has his leather jacket hanging off the barrier dividing out desk. Neil drops by and gives me a cautious hello. He is an editor on another magazine that owes me a small sum from last year.

“Did you get that invoice paid?” he says.
“No,” I reply. “I have given up on it.”
He explains that the accounts people responsible are based in the Philippines. I’ve worked with Neil for years. This is why I didn’t follow up my threat to involve our trade union. Not that I’m a member. “It’s almost a year,” I tell him. “I’ll send a birthday card in for the invoice in March, it’s only polite.”
“I’ll buy you lunch,” says Neil. “There’s a nice canteen downstairs.”
“It’s not your fault Neil,” I say. Neil is a lovely guy and has always given me work. It’s those people in the Philippines that should take me to lunch.

The mag I’m working on has just moved to the offices of the national newspaper group that owns it. It is my first time here today, and I was in the lift with one of the mag’s columnists, a woman whose style I am aping now. Her husband owns a weekly, which publishes a short story in each issue. If I had a copy of the 5,000-word short story I have written, I would think about handing it to her and, on second thoughts, refrain. You cannot go accosting newspaper columnists in lifts. At best, you could end up in their column. At worst you could be thrown out of the building. Besides, my ex-girlfriend ‘chele, says it has some clunky sentences and a few things have to be chopped out. I wrote back to her asking her to sort it out, but now realise that that’s my job.

Talking of which, I’m pleased to report it’s a quiet morning – 11.30 already. In an hour and a half, it’s lunch. More than enough time to tell you about the weekend. I lost my glasses inside my flat on Saturday. Then I went to meet my friends Sophie and Tim, not their real names, for an early dinner. I wanted to cancel because I couldn’t find my glasses, but knew that my friends would not believe this excuse. We then went to a Chinese restaurant. I suggested we go to this place because of a fine off-menu item I’d discovered. (Hai li ping, it’s called. I got the waiter to write it down in Chinese the other day.) But they didn’t have it. Hai li embarrassing. We were given a pork bun, which was also off-menu, but was only a pork bun. Anyway, the whole evening was out of focus for me because I had no glasses on. This was especially annoying because when I went to see my sister at the comedy store, she was out of focus too. In between her acts (there are two shows at the weekend), we went to Ed’s diner. There we were joined by a stand-up comic.

The stand-up comic sat down and when my friend Sam mentioned to him she was half-Iranian, he said: “Oh, I was dancing on the grave of some Iranians in Baghdad last week.” Stand-Up Comic clearly says things to shock. The challenge is not to be offended. He was in Iraq, he explained, to entertain UK troops. There he had the pleasure of “dancing” on an apparent mass grave. I said nothing. SUC, we won’t mention his name, reeled off information about himself such as the fact that he was about to receive £60,000 for a project, dropping in the names Universal and Warner Brothers. SUC is a pot-bellied Australian. He said: “What do you do?”
I respond: “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“No.”
My sister then tells him when we were young I was funny.
“He seems more cynical than funny,” says SUC.

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