My lofty life

Novelist Carole Hayman's postcard from the cutting edge of London living - Shoreditch
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Ah Winter solstice, Yule, Season of Song, Goodwill and Wassail. Try this on the derelict who obliges me, hand held out, with "Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer".

Tatiana now using the sofa more or less full time ("Sorry, Kaz, it always gets busy at Christmas"). I barely even get visiting rights, no matter how bad the hangover. Head not improved by grinding of mechanical digger, now carolling with drills and crane at 7.30 in morning.

Tatiana furious about the noise pollution. "I've been down to the site, and told them I work nights. They've got no consideration." Suggest she offers some deal with reciprocal favours.

A slew of invites to Xmas Fayres. Suspect these, promising "mulled wine", are more about artistes marketing their wares, than seasonal celebration. But the dreaded Christmas list looms, can no longer avoid buying presents.

First, in "galleries" converted from stable mews. The Ditch once had horses? How quaint. Dickensian. Mulled wine has run out, however. Tell the boyfriend crossly, it's his fault we're late. "I was shopping," he mutters darkly.

Jewellery very big this year. Tempted by massive steel ring that could take out the teeth of a mugger. Unfortunately, would have to wear arm in sling to carry it. Ditch-style pagan necklace dangling what seem to be shrunken heads. One looks familiar... recognise Syd's ex-dealer.

Next room, mould of a human torso dripping with blood. Cannot immediately think who on my list would benefit from this. Do I know any serial killers? Mmm. Perhaps Tatiana could find a use for it? Whole occasion somewhat pagan.

In the pub, mulled wine at last and man selling Armani jeans for a fiver. This is more like it. Buy 15 pairs, will match them to people later.

On to another sales party. Walls (like guests) plastered. This time it's photos of celebrities. None at the party, but plenty of photographers. Know this, as they all have cameras slung over their shoulders. Also because they are stuffing down canapes by the tray load. Approached by one who fingers my hair: "Mmm. Gorgeous. Is it all your own?" Run, leaving him with a hank of it in his hand. He can draw his own conclusions.

Distressed to receive nothing for indie bookshop bash. They've sold at least three of my novels. "Those bastards," I fume, "I bet they've invited Deen Perry." Proved right when we crash the party. There he is in undertaker black, with sycophantic manager auctioning one of his novels! Put my hand up, satirically, to bid 20 pee. Now the proud owner of Deen's latest masterpiece, Stench of the Sewer. Will give it to my landlord for Xmas.

Accosted by drunken American wanting to know where to find cheesecake at 3am. Tell her rather tersely that we are not in New York, more's the pity. Boyfriend indicates beigel shop. Tatiana and client already there, wolfing down salt beef with lashings of mustard. Client looks anxiously at mustard lingering round Tatiana's lips. Maybe this is pre, not post, festive action. Return home at four, drunk, stoned. Have lost bag of jeans somewhere.

Set off early for market. The usual collection of Uzis and Kalashnikovs, now tastefully wound round with tinsel. May buy one to take potshots at mechanical digger. And here's a set of Bosnian films, nestling in holly. Syd might appreciate a sniper's account of "Life in Sarajevo".

Bump into mate Jim, social worker. Ask what he wants for Xmas. "Another job," he says dolefully. "Fancy a bevy?" Pub full of revellers. Several pints later, am cheerily singing. Stuff shopping... as I was saying, season of goodwill and wassail

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