Outtakes: My lofty life

Novelist Carole Hayman's postcard from the cutting edge of London living - Shoreditch
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Indy Lifestyle Online
The car came back. Police found it in Dagenham. Surprised it made it that far. Nothing gone except the tapes. The only one I'll miss is Fleetwood Mac. Do not admit that to the boyfriend.

Celebrations cut short by sound of pneumatic drill. Workmen are erecting 12ft advertising hoardings in middle of pavement. Residents up in arms (not literally, I hope, though I have seen the odd Kalashnikov pass through in the building); derelict outraged, considers he has sole rights to the dog-ended pavings on this stretch; Tatiana, lady of the night, distressed - how will the kerb-crawlers spot her? Point out she's always complaining about her feet, and the hoardings can at least be leant on.

Ring the council. Am not reassured to hear a deal has been struck with the advertisers; they get our pavement but in return will provide a public convenience. Explain we already have one, there are never fewer than four blokes peeing on the side of our building, Told The People do not own the pavements, Highways can do what they like with them. Suggest a few options before slamming down the phone.

Now late for appearance at Ditch Arts Festival. Arrive flustered at Bar Bizarre to see Deen Perry, in Dracula frock coat, performing his epic poem. He is spinning like a dervish, whirling his arms, accompanied by a Bosnian zither. Apparently, he has been offered a million-dollar recording contract. Ponder if I should have brought my maracas.

We are half an hour into my slot but no one seems to have noticed. Repair to lavatory to practise whirling-arm gestures. Deen finishes, to a standing ovation. Ah, see they were standing to stampede to the bar. Audience now consists of 23 people, 22 of whom are personal friends of Deen Perry. Sense hostility.

Light fag to calm nerves and begin to read from my novel (unfinished). Just getting into my whirl when the boyfriend's cellphone goes off. He swore he'd left it at home! Humm. Must rethink, strategy. Leave boyfriend at home next time. Flattered when laughter breaks out, though surprised... have just read the bit about suicide. Realise I have set fire to my hair. Stub out fag quickly.

At reception, Yasmin takes me aside for PR advice. Style now more important than content. "You are what you wear, Kaz. Know wha' I'm sayin'?" She casts contemptuous look at my cardigan. Deen Perry surrounded by transvestites, fetishists and hollow-cheeked babes in new black.

Boyfriend brings me refreshments. Style definitely more important than content, African snails in a coulis of their own slime. Suppose it's preferable to someone else's. A few weeks ago, snails were trendy pets, now replaced by iguanas. Can't wait for compote of lizard.

Speak sharply to Syd on subject of Ditch comestibles. Do some more whirling- arm gestures. Syd offers condolences and drugs. Leave to sight of Deen Perry signing books and pocketing fivers.

Outside our building stands a yellow Portaloo. Yasmin, charmed with the novelty, rushes to sample it. Exposes Tatiana providing sex care. "Won't be a mo'. It's freezin' out there."

Yasmin stands back and considers the heaving loo. "See, Kaz, we could fly-post this with yer book jacket posters. Make a sort of installation." Wonder how I will break this to my publisher. Next morning hasten to see if car still parked, or mysteriously transported to Epping. Advert on hoarding for M&S glossy food. In my dreams.

The Portaloo lies on its side. Open door to find derelict peacefully snoozing. Bags stashed around him, he has taken up residence. Deluxe poverty. Lifestyle the Ditch has bought into.

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