Charmed Life

My friend gave a quick profile of everyone at the table. The words "alternative", "workshop" and "community" were recurring. Then she came to me. Oh no, oh no. "What is it that you write about, again?" Everyone was silent and staring, waiting for my response.

Last week I found myself in a basement in North London full of lots of plastered people in sombreros; it was a friend's 30th birthday party. On arrival I stepped off the street into a small room which had those plastic streamer curtains, a worn leatherette sofa and no people. It was like the sort of bar you might walk into, by mistake, in the Caribbean, where there would be one stoned guy behind the bar, and only one bottle of chilled Carib left. I pushed through the plastic streamers and descended a narrow staircase.

You know those places which are always full of hen and stag parties, which if you are a twosome you must avoid like the plague? Well, this was birthday-party-city. I looked in horror at the tables, packed with revellers in sombreros, who were all about 18. I was just beginning to wonder if I had taken a wrong turn when, through the whoops of teenage laughter, I heard someone call my name. There was one quiet table at the back, peopled with the over 30's (for the record, I am only just 29) This was my party. They were not wearing their sombreros.

I only knew the birthday girl. Introductions were made. They were all gay, and right-on. I was neither. My friend was opening her presents - her favourite was a book called something like "Queer Humour". Everyone knew the cartoons, of course, and could discuss them at length, because they were in the Pink Paper. Right, should I pretend that I have read the Pink Paper, or say "Do you mean the FT?" I said nothing, and hoped I would get the jokes.

My friend - great at talking and introductions, gave a quick profile of everyone at the table. The words "alternative", "workshop" and "community" were recurring. Then she came to me. Oh no, oh no. "What is it that you write about, again?" Everyone was silent and staring, waiting for my response. "Umm. Social issues." I said. Everyone nodded in approval.

This was a sangria and slammers sort of place, and entertainment of the night, apart from an 18-year-old birthday girl taking off her top and revealing her green bra, whilst still wearing her sombrero (to the delight of our table) was the waitress, a large Australian woman. To "What's happened to our Tequila?" she replied "Did you ask the bloke for it? Oh, don't ask him, I always come quicker". She obviously had not read the sexual orientation of our table, as she kept saying to the one male there "Oh you lucky man - surrounded by all these women".

The Ladies' was worth checking out, apparently, so before leaving subterranea, I had a look, and sure enough it was pretty wild - a sort of jungle-john. Whilst there, ever curious, I took a peek at the gents. Boring as hell - white walls, chrome loo and that was it. I reported back to the girls. Final acceptance - I must be OK - I'd gone into the gents. They hadn't dared.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

    Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

    Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

    £15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

    Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us