'Tis the season of strangers on the sofa
Saturday 18 December 1999
It was his shoes on my cushions, rather than the fact that I had never set eyes on the young man in my life that affected me. No one minds a chap staying the night. Well I don't, if he has missed his last bus or is too drunk to find the bus stop. But it's only manners surely to remove one's shoes before retiring. It crossed my mind to shake him roughly awake and scold him but he looked so peaceful lying there on my sofa that I didn't have the heart.
Besides, if his socks were anything to go by, he came from a good home. You know how posh laundries return posh socks, sort of half inside out and ready to slip your foot into as easily as a sandal. My late Uncle Archie, who sent all of his clothes to the laundry, or at least to the dhobi wallah as he called it (Uncle Archie was an old Calcutta hand) wouldn't have known how to put on a pair of socks any other way. The strange young man's socks reminded me of Uncle Archie because they were folded exactly as the posh laundry in Knightsbridge that said above the shop door "we clean to a standard not to a price" used to fold his socks.
Stacking plates, emptying ashtrays, scraping cake off the piano, I thought nostalgically of the Oriental Club, Uncle Archie's home whenever he was in England. He used to invite me for dinner sometimes. "I think there's time for a quick Harry Squeezers before dinner," he'd say, signalling to the barman. "Dry sherry for the lady, large pink gin for me and a stinger for old Bagshaw in the corner please Henry."
My reverie was interrupted by stirring noises from the sofa. The young man sat up, stretched, yawned and said: "Morning, any chance of a poached egg?" Possibly, I said, but only if you tell me why you take your socks off but keep your shoes on when you go to bed. "I didn't take my socks off," he said. "So whose are those?" I said. The young man looked at the socks and then at his feet and then back at the socks: "God, I must have had a skinful, they are my socks but I've no idea how they got there like that."
When the strange young man had finished his egg and carried several boxes of empties outside for me, he said, well, he'd better be going. He had to get to Canterbury. "By the way, who are you?" I said. It seemed rude to ask earlier but when you've cooked a fellow a poached egg you have certain rights. "Friend of Chris," he said. "Ah," I said, trying to place Chris. "Thanks, by the way, great party," he said.
You can never be sure if you've thrown a good party. Someone told me about an office party he went to this year where all the waiters and waitresses were completely starkers except for a fluffy white tail. It was the presence of the tail that somehow made it more shocking. Everyone wanted to know how they stuck - Blu-Tack? Superglue? Simple muscle retention?
Curiously, it wasn't sexy. It was embarrassing. You didn't know where to look when they were handing round the canapes. He asked a waiter who seemed to be holding his tray of chipolatas rather lower than is usual with trays of chipolatas why he had agreed to strip. For the money said the waiter. How much? A hundred quid.
There must be less traumatic and exposed ways of earning a hundred pounds. Either that or ask for an extra fluffy tail to stick over your face.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
- 2 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 3 Is Ebola coming to Britain? UK health officials issue warning to doctors as outbreak fears grow
- 4 Richard Dawkins says 'date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse' on Twitter
- 5 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
'Phallic symbols' found hidden in famous Pre-Raphaelite painting 'Isabella' by John Everett Millais
Top Gear Burma episode breached Ofcom rules over Jeremy Clarkson's racial slur
Freddie Prinze Jr on 24: 'Kiefer Sutherland was the most unprofessional dude in the world – I hated every moment of it'
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies trailer unveiled at Comic-Con
How did our legends really begin?
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
- < Previous
- Next >