Novelist Carole Hayman's postcard from the cutting edge of London living - Shoreditch
"We need some furniture, Babes," I say hopefully, "you know, sofas, for when people like, come round to dinner?" The boyfriend snorts derisively. Dinner parties are an unknown concept in the Ditch. The only thing that arrives on a plate is coke.

"Well, for chilling then," I say, thinking of those few minutes free of the mechanical digger. There is a pile-driver outside one window, five road drills outside another. Have now taken to wearing a Balaclava over my head. Look like the Shoreditch Ripper.

Discuss sofa problem with Tatiana who is similarly discommoded by nowhere to lie down. "I'll keep my eyes open Kaz," she promises, "you see a lot in my job." Not sure she is talking about furniture.

Off to the new "Throb" bar for evening to celebrate "girl-power". Despite invitation, told to "Queue like everyone else". Refrain from testing girl power by commenting that I take pride in being original. Unlike the bouncer. De rigueur Ditch: six foot, with shaved head and shoulders like the pile- driver.

Inside, all the girls beige-faced with brown lips, stripped, caged and hobbled. Is this post-feminist irony, or are we now post-ironic? A Performance Art troupe in PVC basques is doing a pornographic dance turn. If this is girl power, you could have fooled me. Looks like old-fashioned totty. Shoved head-over-heels down the stairs by one in a bra and orange tutu. "Gosh she's strong," I say, impressed. Boyfriend gives me a pitying look. Informs me she's a trans-sexual.

Recover from my chagrin in room full of aged sofas. Not your Habitat circa 1980 old, but the flock-covered three-piece suite sort. "Look," I say, batting eyelashes, "they must be trendy, if they're here." "Very Notting Hill Gate," sniffs the boyfriend. Flick through complimentary glossy mag. Girls display 10 most pierceable parts. Slam it shut, eyes watering.

"Have you seen any celebrities?" asks the owner anxiously, clearly, like the bouncer, he does not count me. Swear I have spotted several It girls. There are so many look-a-likes, I may not be lying. He announces he's developing the complex... a disused morgue... with shops. "All those freezers!" I cry, "Perfect for a supermarket." Owner looks at me as though I am mad. Complex is to be wall-to-distressed-wall Tommy Hilfiger.

In the chillout room, a videogame of Formula One. Semi-clad girls scattered over the track. Boys compete, with whoops, to smoke them.

See friend of Yasmin's, Paula, in the loo. She's in a fishnet frock with a spike through her fanny and a tongue-clamp. Tells me (with difficulty) she thinks girl power's great. Me too, I enthuse glumly.

Whine I want to go home now, batteries have run down. Boyfriend sighs long-sufferingly.

Tatiana hails me "Look what I found!" It's a genuine 1930s Rexine-covered sofa. Judging by the stains, she has already put it into action. Negotiate terms of sofa- share. How many hours will she need it? "Depends," says Tatiana, shrugging. "Blow jobs and hand jobs I can do standing up, but dominatrix is more difficult. See, I strip them while they struggle, tie them up, gag them and bend them over the sofa. Then I whip them, kick them, bite them and strangle them. Last I spray them with shaving foam and shove my stiletto up their bum." "How long does that take?" I say, seeing snooze time eroded. "Ooh... about two and a half minutes." Gaze at her, awed. Now that's what I call Girl Power

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