There's a clip on YouTube of Peter O'Toole arriving on the set of the Late Show with David Letterman while serenely puffing on a cigarette in a cocktail-length holder and sitting on the back of a camel. As the audience whoops with delight, O'Toole jumps off the camel, cracks open a can of Heineken and gives it to the camel – who downs it in one – before sauntering off to the sofa. It's the greatest entrance ever made. I wish I could emulate it, but I'm terrible at arriving. I'm pretty punctual, but fail to make that first impression in a way that says "Yes, it's me, and what's more, my people have access to a camel."
If I'm introduced to someone as a writer, it sounds too interesting and I worry that I won't live up to the billing. ("This is my friend, he's an idiot" would at least give me something to build on.) So I downplay it with risible self-deprecation and outline my health issues instead. If I introduce myself, I've taken to saying my name twice in anticipation of it being misheard – "I'm Rhodri, Rhodri" – which either makes me sound repulsively over-eager, or badly afflicted by short-term memory loss. Anyway, my impressive social ineptitude reached a climax as I arrived at a social gathering on Saturday. We were asked to break the ice by revealing an interesting fact about ourselves, and the only thing I could think of to say was "I have genital warts," which isn't even true. So I went to the toilet before it was my turn, and didn't come back until I figured the ice had probably broken, which was about half an hour.
Later that same evening I encountered a serious-looking chap called Alex who had earlier given an arrival masterclass. His opening gambit was to give details of an inter-railing trip he'd made to the Czech Republic where he ended up sleeping in a baby's cot with a local girl who waggled her tongue at him and whispered hoarsely "You are sex maniac". Having dispensed the anecdote, Alex waited a while, made his excuses and left. "What an amazing guy," was the consensus. I want to be more like Alex. I suppose I could pass off his anecdote as my own, but my inability to lie means that it's probably easier for me to get hold of a cigarette holder, a can of Heineken and a camel.Reuse content