Fashion victim

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The Independent Culture
So you want to know what really happened during fashion week? It started Tuesday lunchtime with a letter from Zoe saying she's not coming to London for the shows, just doing Milan and then back to Paris. Damn, I cleaned the bath for nothing.

Zoe says her boyfriend, Jeff, has gone south to work and she's feeling tense and anxious. (Push away mental image of obvious stress-relieving technique. Wish her all happiness in the world. Find this distressingly easy.) Anyway, she may arrive after the 6th. She wants to see me. Great, we can talk about Jeff.

But I will listen to and savour every heart-piercing word, and if I get a chance maybe I'll recite the French poem I learned to impress her. But then again, maybe I'll just roll a fat one and open a tub of Ben & Jerry's Coconut Almond Chocolate Chip instead.

Katharine re-launched her shop in Sloane Street on Tuesday evening. Go along feeling weird (no invitation) expecting a scene that never materialises. A glass of champagne, then another and another, and pretty soon it's ten, which is not clever or grown-up because I don't usually drink and haven't eaten for seven hours. Argue with Sir Bob of Boomtown about the relative merits of Antoine de Caunes and Chris Evans, and win.

At 10pm, off to a pub across the road, everybody pissed. Collapse in a toilet cubicle, but cling to consciousness assisted by waves of fear surging through me: if I pass out I'll die of alcoholic poisoning or choke on my own vomit. Thirty minutes later, Katharine dispatches Jimmy Pursey to rescue me. Back at the table they ask how I'm feeling and I say "Fine", only the word emerges as a fountain of hot champagne, spurting across the room into Jimmy's top hat, which lies at the foot by his chair. Jimmy obviously thinks I'm an aristocrat, because he calls me "you silly Count Sharkey".

Katharine throws my paralytic form into a cab, takes me home, carries me up two flights of stairs, peels off my suit, makes me drink a pint of water, puts me into bed, places a basin on the floor, tucks me in and turns off the light before leaving. St Katharine of the Brompton Cross.

Next morning: what's this - no hangover? Result! Skip into bathroom, jump in the shower, lose my balance and nearly break my neck as I fall backwards flailing at the curtain rail. End up prone in gleaming bath with bruised ribs, wearing shower curtain over my head, water spraying everywhere, and realise I am laughing. Still blind drunk.

Wednesday. My knees hurt. This could seriously undermine my image as a vital, thrusting, underground media renegade. Fashion shows by Hussein Chalayan and St Katharine. Meet Desiree who says she is descended from Plains or something. Consider telling her I'm a bit of a count myself, but decide against it. Mental note: flowers for Katharine.

Thursday, meet David in Camden Town club to research possible feature on "Ro-Mo", the New Romantic-inspired youth phenomenon about to sweep the nation, according to Melody Maker. Inside, Gary Numan's "Cars" is playing. Bad peroxide, dodgy backcombing, wedge cuts finished with garden shears: this place is Hairdo Hell. Little boys with cheap shoes take speed in the toilets. One has an anarchist "A" symbol applied to his cheek in silver glitter, but it may not be ironic. May be a good thing. Roll on the Smiley T-shirt and bandanna revival, that's what I say.

Friday evening is Alexander McQueen at Spitalfields church. Typical fashion frenzy at the door with all these creepy little St Martin's students trying to lig their way in, blocking the way for important people with invites, like Bryan Ferry, Anthony Price, and me. Clinton Silver, formerly of Marks & Spencer, now head of the British Fashion Council, gets all pompous and starts shouting, "Open that door, somebody is going to get hurt out here." Back to the Pantheon store for you, Clinton. The worst injury yet sustained outside a fashion show was a dent to Suzy Menkes' Prada bag. Even then, she dined out on the take for weeks, quipping merrily, "Darling, if it's not Prada, it's nada!"

At Patrick Cox's party at the Roof Gardens, I bump into Amanda, in a coke frenzy and looking for a posing prop. Her "sort-of" boyfriend smiles and starts waffling and I'm nodding and scanning the room over his shoulder when he says the worst thing is that shadow you first notice in your mid- thirties, the looming notion that you may have blown all your chances, that this might be it, the best you'll ever know. Like you've undersold your whole life, cheated yourself by consistently opting for flash rather than substance.

I look him in the eye but there is no way of telling if he's talking about himself or me, so I pretend it doesn't matter either way, smile back, and tell him I'll die happy if I can achieve my ambition: to exfoliate Mother Teresa. Then I limp off towards the cloakroom, glad it's all over for another season

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