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.

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
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: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

    Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

    salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower