My lofty life Novelist Carole Hayman's postcard from the cutting edge of London living - Shoreditch

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"Don't call it a loft, babes, it's naff," says the boyfriend. "What shall I call it then?" I respond testily. "Space," says the boyfriend, whirling his arms. "In that case," I snap, "I wouldn't mind having a little more of it." Am scrunched in a corner, hemmed in by three-day-old football shoot. The television is Blairing, sorry blaring, more football. England against Transylvania or some such. Boyfriend looks hurt. Perhaps as well I am going to seaside for Party, party, party conference.

Dismayed to find I have arrived at giant away match. Massive police presence. Stadium ringed off by crowd-control barriers. The ticketless poor press their noses to the razor wire, muttering abusively. Inside, all is joy. The team runs on in triumph, the fans cheer hysterically. When a goal is scored (after a couple of near misses), the players fall upon each other and practically shag in public. Team strategy immaculate. Sexual and racial abuse frowned upon, those off-side reprimanded. Before the game, deals are done for large sums of money.

At half-time, dash for refreshment, jostled and nudged by supporters. Fight desperately for a drink in the players' bar but am wrestled to the ground by Security. Is it because I lack accreditation, or have absent- mindedly lit up a fag, banned in Right-on Soma-Dome? "Ref," I bleat, but she's got me in a Vinny and won't let go. Boy, have these Babes got attitude! Here come the men in black. Will I be thrown into the void outside or force-fed to a family with values? Help! My boyfriend will never be able to afford the blood money. Reprieve. It was only the Captain's posse.

Crawl inside to find a player spread-eagled on the floor, decked for telling jokes; he'll be on the benches. At the cop end, fans are three sheets to the wind; peer closely at the passes to see which poor sods they represent. Relieved to find they are "Media".

Snatch drink (New Britain. Warm Chardonnay), search for food. Plate thrust under my nose. Aargh... think there's a foetus on it! Am assured by the waitress it's only a won ton.

Abandon second half (missing own goal, pity) for walk along the front. Above us hovers a barrage balloon. Smile and wave, until informed it is full of surveillance equipment. And, possibly, I muse, C S gas to quell notoriously fickle public. "Friend" makes me swear I won't repeat that. Agree, though fear I'm on a single red already. On the pier, The People snooze in the sun, seeming unperturbed by the Promise Makers. See player in "kiss me quick" hat taking advantage of new sexual tolerance. The sea churns merrily and flags flutter on the crazy golf. The big wheel turns endlessly.

Blag my way back in for after-match celebrations. Stepped on, shoved and kneed in private places. Gives whole new meaning to touchy-feely. Gasping, glass of corporate champagne half-way to my lips, am tumbled from my chair by tackle from paparazzi. Momentarily flattered, until I realise Our Captain is behind me. "Foul," I shout as I claw myself up. Receive elbow in the ear from caring, concerned supporter.

One Nation gay disco crashed by hooligans demanding home rule for Chelsea. Fights break out as they are whipped into toe-the-line-dancing. Feet now crushed and bleeding, feel like a land-mine victim. Do these people have two left... sorry centreleft feet? Can't be the drugs... only Nurofen apparent. Reel away to sound of "You'll never walk alone". No, indeed. Not with Big Balloon watching.

Hobble home and throw open door to "space". It is blocked by a 12-foot metal trolley. The boyfriend is kicking a cabbage round the rest of it. Music blasts from the radio... anthem of Modernisation, "Things can only get better". Humph

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