Saturday, 9 January 2010

Jane, Charlotte and me

Over the past week or so I’ve found myself in a terrible quandary. You see first I loved Jane. Then I loved Serge. Now I think I’m in love with Charlotte. It’s terribly fickle but I just can’t choose between them; it seems that once you fall for one Gainsbourg, you fall for them all.

It all started when I interviewed Jane a couple of months ago. It was my first “celebrity” interview for the paper and I wanted to be armed. I read every article about her, every profile, looked at every photo. “Your questions are bit complicated,” Mindy sniffed, as we role-played beforehand, “I don’t think you need to tell her about things she herself has said and done. She knows more about her life than you do.”

This was debatable. By the time I was whisked to her dressing room, backstage at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, I felt I knew her intimately. My heart fluttered, my tongue was tied. This, I decided, is what it feels like to really be in love.

She could have said anything to me in the fifteen minutes that followed. I was sitting next to my idol sipping tea: I let her do all the talking whilst routinely pinching myself. Hard-nosed hack I was not; the last thing I wanted to do was upset her.

The next day I woke up transformed: I was clearly channelling Jane. From this moment I only adorned bum-skimming jumper dresses and copious amounts of black eye liner - on the lower rim and the top lid.

Maggie and Mel got behind my new persona quickly. They agreed, after flicking through Google Images, that she was babe. “You are looking so Jane Birkin today,” Mel began saying, slightly salaciously, whenever I walked into the kitchen. As far as I was concerned if this look was working for a lesbian as hot as Mel, I was onto a good thing. I could tell when I was having an off day because she would simply say I was “cute”, which left me feeling wretched until I could change into something more Jane.

Fully channelling my heroine in the style department was all very well but it was not enough for me. Jane was cool on her own to be sure, but she was so much cooler with Serge. All the sexual provocation and creative passion left me insanely jealous.

With Serge being dead and thus not an option, I’ve been keeping my eye out for a Serge-alike and I thought I’d hit gold a couple of weeks ago when I came across a jazz ensemble in an American bar. The saxophonist, in his lumberjack shirt and slightly greasy flop of hair across his forehead, didn’t display talent as a genius lyricist it's true but he did look a bit arty and his fingers possessed such a degree of dexterity that I was hypnotised into a trance.

During a band break I made my move, approaching, with my business card aloft, under some pretense that I was going to write a story for the paper about local jazz musicians. “That was brilliant,” Mindy nodded at me as she returned to her seat, carrying inside with her the scent of stale cigarettes. I frowned. “The way you just swooped in then. The whole manoeuvre was caught on a giant screen. I was watching from the terrace.” I shrugged: manipulating my job to snare a Serge? Jane would approve. “I can feel an infatuation coming on,” I tilted my head and gazed at him, aiming for coquettish, “it’s quite exciting, I haven’t stalked anyone for ages.” “And he’s on crutches,” Mindy pointed at the metal poles resting against his bar stool, “that makes it much harder for him to get away.”

Back in my bedroom, I was scanning Deezer when an advert flashed up for IRM, the new album by Charlotte Gainsbourg. I clicked on the link instantly and loved every song, listening to them on repeat as I trawled through the web for images, interviews, articles…

“Actually,” Maggie said, not looking up from the Nana she was cutting out for our Niki de Saint Phalle scrapbook, “I like Charlotte’s music better than Jane’s.” “I know,” I widened my eyes, “I didn’t think it was possible but I may be even more in love with Charlotte. Physically, she’s a quirkier version of her mum and she has the musical talent of her father. I’ve got the biggest crush.” Living with lesbians, I can declare my love for other women without as much of a raised eyebrow. And it was true: I really couldn’t decide if I wanted to be Charlotte or just make-out with her.

“You know, I went on, suspending my paint brush in the air, “it was thanks to Charlotte that I went to hospital the other day. I was reading about her brain hemorrhage on Wikipedia when it occurred to me that I could be having a hemorrhage too. Do you think I should write to her? I mean, she basically saved my life.” “Oh you should. Definitely,” Maggie said, ironing out a glue crease. “And we’ve been through a similar experience, you know IRM is inspired by all the MRI scans she had.” “Plus you interviewed her mum,” Maggie interjected, her eyes still fixed on the Nana. “That’s true! We should be friends.”

I felt a pang. “Oh I’m so disloyal,” I wailed. Only a week ago I was all set on Jane, now I’ve dropped her for a younger model. I love Jane.” “It’s alright,” Maggie soothed, ”there’s no rule saying you can’t do Jane and Charlotte, switch depending on your mood.” You can always rely on Maggie to be practical. She’s right of course: some days I instinctively want to channel Jane, other days Charlotte. And sometimes I just want to be Serge.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

All I want for this year is a French doctor

“You do realise,” Maggie grabbed my elbow, “that he’s basically given you an engagement ring.” We continued to walk down the street, now with our arms linked. “I think you’re right,” I tried to turn my head to face her, winced, went back to centre. “He's so clever, with the Velcro, it fits perfectly.” I reached up and tugged at the neckbrace to loosen it a little.

Rewind to Monday: my life was hanging in the balance, I was just waiting to have the prognosis confirmed by Dr McFrenchie. “Well, the good news is that the CAT scan came back clear, nothing wrong with the brain,” he informed me without smiling. “And my spine?” I frowned. “Oh nothing serious.” I tried not to look crestfallen. “You’ve had a bang,” he continued briskly, “there’s a small fracture and a lot of bruising. You’re head too. I’m going to give you a,” he put his hands around his throat. “A neckbrace?” I asked, my eyes lighting up. “Oui. You wear it for six days.”

“You work?” he asked, whilst simultaneously scribbling on his clipboard. I grabbed the newspaper I’d been reading, “Yes, yes. On this,” I shoved it at him, “I’m the editor.” Contrary to the impression I was probably giving him, I was in fact also a serious, professional. Look, I was saying, we’d actually make a great couple. “Er, right,” he looked up vaguely, “it’s just I sign you off if you have to go to work.” “Oh no, I’m on holiday until the New Year.” “OK, good. So now you rest, you watch TV, you do what the British do, drink beer right?” “No,” I mocked horror, “no beer from now on.” I widened my eyes like a young doe. He didn’t look convinced. “After five days, if you have pain still, then you are allowed to come to see me again.” I thought the choice of the word allowed interesting. “What about the neckbrace, don’t I need to return it?” He finally cracked a smile, “No, you can keep that, a Christmas present.”

As he helped me down from the trolley I pressed the newspaper in his hand, “Here, you can have this. To practice your English,” I added quickly. “It’s bad, isn’t it?” he nodded gravely at me. “Oh no, not at all, perfect. I just meant, um well, just to read something in English, if you wanted.” Obviously, I couldn’t tell him that I hoped he’d use the contact details on page 2 to track me down, after he’d realised that I was the girl he wanted to marry. That would have probably scared him.

At our flat the next day, Maggie and I were sitting around the kitchen table. At intervals she rotated her head and pressed her hand to her ear. “I have an ear ache. Do you think it’s an aneurism?” “I’d say that’s likely,” I couldn’t nod so I blinked affirmatively. “Hey, why don’t I take you to A&E? It’s almost lunchtime, I’ll take my doctor a sandwich at the same time, he’d like that.” “Your fiancée,” Maggie corrected.

We typed aneurism into Google. “You can,” I read from the screen, “either have a true aneurism or a pseudoaneurism. I’d say, of the two, you’re better off with the pseudo one. You’ll still have to go to hospital. It’s a win-win situation.” Would this, I wondered, count as Munchausen by proxy? I was aware that it was a slippery slope.

“Perhaps we should open a worst-case scenario clinic,” Maggie mused. “Someone comes in with a bruise, we diagnose gangrene and prescribe immediate amputation. That kind of thing.” “I think I get it," I interrupted. "Someone comes in with a funny looking mole, we tell them it’s stage four melanoma, you’ve got 24 hours if you’re lucky." It sounded like a winner to me. "Just think of all the people who’d get a second chance at life. I know that my own recent brush with death has made me see the world with fresh eyes. I feel more alive than ever. It’s why I have such a connection with my doctor…” “Fiancée.” “…my fiancée. We’ve been through the very worst of times and the best.” Suddenly Maggie rubbed her temples. I could see pseudoanuerism was getting worse.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

All I want for Christmas is a cerebral hemorrhage

For many people, no Christmas is complete without a visit to casualty. Thanks to the copious amounts of alcohol consumed and the constant presence of near and dear ones, there's never a better opportunity to cause injury to yourself or to others.

Before now, I have had only one festive trip to hospital: I was eleven and my pierced ears were infected. My dad, after he’d finished his turkey, rushed me to Malmesbury A&E where my mum’s cousin. Dr Brummit, wiped the lobes with disinfectant and gave me antibiotics. Since that one genuine medical emergency I’ve spent most Christmas’ convinced I’m dying of some serious disease or other, having self-diagnosed myself online. All I can suggest is that I must have too much time on my hands over the holidays.

Not that my hypochondriac tendencies are exclusively a Christmas thing. As far as I’m concerned it’s never a headache, always a tumour. On average I become infatuated with a new illness every couple of months. Recently my focus has been on cervical cancer: I’ve already played out my tragic death over and over but at no time have I actually been to see a doctor. I never do. Normally I’ve moved on to the next condition before I’ve got around to booking an appointment.

This week, however, I’ve been suitably ill enough to be rushed to hospital for a second time. “Have you just Googled the symptoms for brain bleeding?” my mother eyed my suspiciously. As a child, she would often catch me behind the sofa with The Reader’s Digest A-Z of Medicine, bypassing the likely causes for the terminal ones. “Maybe,” I shrugged, “but all it’s confirmed is that I am, in fact, showing… a number…some of… signs of cerebral hemorrhage. See,” I sighed, “even my speech is starting to slur.” “You sound alright to me,” mum retorted. “Come on Dad, if my brain’s bleeding then there’s no time to spare.” My dad reluctantly turned his back on his full plate of chicken and rice and grabbed a baguette. I drove myself to the emergency room.

“What happened?” the doctor looked me up and down. “Je suis tombé.” I mimed falling off the side of the trolley. “I was drunk,” I added, holding up my hands, “my fault.” I laughed. He didn’t. I hadn’t imagined I could ever feel more embarrassed than I had the morning before, when my flatmates told me I’d passed out in the pub on Christmas Day and been carried out like a small child by their gay best friend. “Did you lose consciousness,” the doctor went on sternly. I shook my head. “Oh but I did pass out, quite soon after. I think.” “So you lost consciousness,” he nodded. I looked up at him, eyes wide and slightly teary, “Is this bad?” He paused before stammering, “No, er I not sure but I zink it not very important. Perhaps a problem with your brain,” he diverted his gaze, “or with your spine. We send you for a scan.” This was serious: I could tell I was on the brink. At least my medical assessment had been right for once: I mean, I really was dying this time. This provided me with some comfort as I began to change into a gown that was going to make me look like a pasty frump.

The porter had the cheeky chappy cliché down to a fine art. Since Casualty, I’m fairly sure that this is a pre-requisite for the job. He laughed at my French accent, corrected my pronunciation and winked a lot. “Bon courage,” he grinned as my head disappeared into a tunnel of infrared, “a tout a l’heure.” He must have been ordered to be especially nice because the doctor feared the worse. As the scanner turned around my head, I wondered if he was actually cute or if it was simply the hemorrhage talking.

Back in A&E I was pushed into a large communal area. The old men and women looked at me a little bewildered. At least they’d had a good innings I thought, what had I got to show for my life? I was too young to die. “If I make it through this, I will write that book.” I nodded over to an elderly gentleman. He pointed at his hip, “Je suis tombé.” “Moi aussi,” I pointed at my head. We were bonding.

The headache was bad now; I could feel the pressure building under the skull. And where was the doctor? Any time I saw a member of staff rush past panicked they appeared to me looking at me mournfully, as if there was no hope. This would never happen in Seattle Grace. Doctor McDreamy or McSteamy or whoever would have had me in surgery in seconds. And they would have saved my life. If only I was in a TV hospital with a TV head trauma, the prognosis would be so much better.

Not that the French doctor couldn’t give Patrick Dempsey a run for his money in the looks department. If death were around the corner, I’d need to have sex at least one more time. I might have to play on his kindness and get him to give me a quickie in a cubical. If he weren’t willing to break our patient-doctor bond or whatever, I’d settle for the porter. And if he had gone off duty, I’d probably take the guy next to me. He gave me a grin as his trolly was pushed into a private room. Fortunately, the doctor came over flustered and waving papers at me before I had a chance to go after the hip-replacement. Now, he really was cute…

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

A Single Girl’s Guide to Dating Men Who Don’t Know They’re Dating You

‘Maybe we should go for a drink with the boys this evening,’ I leaned back against the window ledge, rested on the pane and raised my eyebrows at Mindy. She frowned, ‘Are we going to bother to tell the boys?’ I shook my head. ‘So we’ll rock up, sit down at the bar and “have a drink with the boys” without the boys realising that they are having a drink with us?’ ‘Exactly,’ I replied, ‘just because our other halves don’t know we’re dating them yet doesn’t make the actual date any less valid. Mutual consent is only a technicality.’ I was, in fact, coming to the conclusion that things might be much easier with a faux boyfriend: they won’t cancel you for the football and they don’t complain when you turn up late.

Mindy and I met our new "boyfriends" in an underground Old Town sweat pit last Saturday night. As per usual, I had been monopolising the dance floor, using my hot lesbian flatmate Maggie as a pole, when I span around and recognised an English lad from the Irish pub. His black curly hair and blue eyes shimmered like an oasis in an otherwise parched desert and I quickly went about instigating a conversation about how we may or may not, possibly, know a couple of the same people. As coincidence would have it, my new boyfriend’s friend recognised Mindy from their university days. ‘It’s terrible,’ she said as we stumbled home at 5am, ‘I don’t remember him at all. And he says that he was the only boy in the whole class. Perhaps he wasn’t fit back then. I’d definitely have made a mental note of him if he looked like he does now. Maybe bumping into him, my French classmate, in France, is destiny or something.’ ‘I quite fancy his mate,’ I interrupted and grabbed her hand, ‘we should double date.’ Mindy smiled and nodded at me like I was a child, whilst at the same time trying to tug her fingers free from mine.

The following lunchtime, we rolled out of Mindy’s bed and shuffled to the kitchen in our pyjamas. ‘You know,’ she said, her throat hoarse, ‘we could be onto something with this concept of dating someone without them knowing.’ I agreed: there’d be no waiting around for phone calls (well, he can’t call if he doesn’t have your number can he?), there would be no arguments. I widened my eyes at Mindy, ‘We’d never get dumped.’

We sat opposite each other, quietly mulling. ‘Can you imagine,’ Mindy broke the silence at last, ‘going up to a random bloke in a bar and acting like you were on a date? Rush up to him all flustered, apologise for being late, call him honey, ask him if he’s ordered you a drink.’ ‘You could lick a napkin,’ I interjected, ‘and scrub at an imaginary mark on his face, compliment him on the shade of his shirt, ask him about his day... Oooo,’ I squealed, as if I’d hit on the theory of relativity, ‘we should totally do it, one night this week. See how men respond.’ ‘Hang on,’ Mindy waved her cigarette at me, ‘are you suggesting that we cheat on our imaginary boyfriends by going on dates with other guys who don’t know that they’re dating us?’ I nodded slowly, ‘No harm in keeping our options open, is there? I’m sure that there’s some relationship manual that advises you to keep dating as many men as possible until you’ve had at least five dates with one of them, then you can think about committing.’ Mindy was momentarily silenced by her smoke inhalation but managed to wobble her head to signal that I had a point. On reflection, I wasn’t sure if I had remembered the manual, accurately: I think the rule is five dates before having sex. Or maybe that’s three. Either way, I wasn’t sure how I’d get around it with my imaginary boyfriend; by the time I’d got to my third or fifth date, he’d still be stalled on zero.

When we arrived at the pub later that evening, Mindy’s date was already there, working the floor. ‘God, I really do like my boyfriend,’ she whispered as she watched him walking into the bar, ‘He’s shaved since last night, he looks even better.’ ‘He probably did it for you, because you don’t like beards, that’s pretty thoughtful. I think my boyfriend’s inside,’ I craned my neck but couldn’t make out the shadows through the doorway. After five minutes, I made a strategic trip to the bathroom. ‘So,’ Mindy said as soon as my bum touched back down on the plastic seat, ‘did you talk to him?’ ‘Of course I didn’t,’ I sighed as if stating the obvious. ‘He’s working. I’m not going to interrupt him when he’s busy. Besides, I’ve not suddenly become a limpet just because I’m going out with… with… with what’s his face now.’ I wondered if it is always necessary to know what your boyfriend’s called. Or perhaps a name is a dating technicality too.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

The Best Boy Friend

This week I started Backwards in High Heels, a book given to me by a dear friend who felt, with my current lifestyle, it might prove to be an inspiring reading. I knew she’d got it right on page twenty: ‘There are some men that you will never, ever, want to sleep with,’ authors Tania Kindersely and Sarah Vine stated. ‘This is not an insult, because you know perfectly well that you have leapt into bed with humans whom otherwise you would rationally cross the road to avoid… But it is possible not to fancy someone and still adore them unconditionally.’ ‘Hallelujah!’ I shouted aloud, clutching the hard cover to me chest; surrounded by hormonally charged Frenchies, I was starting to think that I was the only person left in the world who believed men and women could be friends.

‘But surely it is obvious that a relationship between a man and a woman is better with sex than without,’ the Professor said matter-of-factly over a petite café on Tuesday afternoon. ‘No,’ I frowned at him, stalling my cup in midair, ‘it is not obvious. Can’t you enjoy a person for their intelligence, their warmth, their sense of humour?’ He smiled slowly, as if charmed by my innocence. ‘I think that when men and women spend a lot of time together, if they enjoy each other’s company, then something physical is simply a natural progression.’ ‘That’s not true,’ I retorted, trying to regain the upper hand, ‘some of my best friends are men and sex has never been an issue with any of them.’ Alright, so the “never” and “any” were added to bolster my argument - like most people I’ve had a couple of perfectly good friendships ruined by a drunken fumble or a declaration of love in a fleeting moment of lunacy – but on the whole, it’s true that most of my best boy friends are, and have always been, just my mates. The Professor shook his head in disbelief, ‘Really? Perhaps this is the way in England but in France men do not have women friends, not unless they are hoping for something more.’ ‘But what about us, Professor, you’re French and we’re friends.’ He didn’t say anything, just gazed out at a boat pulling out of the port, and I realised that it was safer to leave him in his own little world.

In all fairness, there is truth in what the Professor was saying: the concept of platonic mixed-sex relationships doesn’t seem to wash in the continental climate. Sure, you see groups of guys and gals out on the town together but most often they are in couples. When I occasionally come across a French male-female friendship, I nearly always find that there are underlying sexual tensions.

‘Surely, in England, you have… what’s the name? Fuck friends?’ my Argentine Neuroscientist batted his eyelids at me innocently and took a sip of his pression as he waited for my reply. I’d only mentioned my conversation with the Professor because I’d assumed a bright, young brain specialist would understand my point of view; instead, he seemed to have misread my intentions. ‘Yes,’ I nodded, ignoring the predatory nature of his enquiry, ‘but I have a lot of non-fuck friends too. Don’t you?’ ‘Actually nearly all of my mates in Buenos Aires are women,’ he replied, puffing out his chest. ‘Well there you go then. You haven’t had sex with all of them, have you?’ He shrugged, ‘Si. Pretty much all of them,’ he paused to do some mental arithmetic, ‘at one time or another.’ No wonder he prefers having female friends, I thought; like I said he’s a clever boy.

The only place in Nice that I have managed to make bona fide male mates is in the safe haven of the Irish pub. Celts don’t seem to have any problem sharing a few drinks with a lassie without trying to get in her knickers. Okay, they do try sometimes, but only on the off chance that you might be drunk enough to say yes. Where they differ from the Latin-blooded male specie is that, if you’re not up for a bit of intoxicated bed-hopping, they’re happy to hang out with you anyway.

Only the other night I was having a beer with the Scot, watching our friend Frankie play an acoustic set at the Scandi bar. Frankie, another highlander, launched into a song that celebrated his platonic friendships with the opposite sex. I glanced at the Scot and smiled. ‘I know’ he said over the music, ‘that we annoy the hell out of each other but I am actually going to miss you, when you bugger off back to England. We’ll stay in touch, won’t we?’ ‘Of course,’ I said, looking him in the eye, ‘you’re one of my best friends now, even if you do shout at me when I get questions wrong on quiz night.’ ‘Ach,’ he slapped a hand to his chest, ‘stop it, you’re killing me here.’ Getting up to order another drink, he punched me softly on the arm, ‘No ifs or buts, you’re having a pint.’ A Stella and a Magners landed on the table, he settled down and returned to our unresolved argument over the origins of 1990s pop sensation, Whigfield (no matter how much a person says South Africa, it doesn’t make DENMARK any less the right answer, sheesh). At 2am the debate was still raging so we agreed to disagree until the next day, kissed goodnight and stumbled to our own beds. No ifs and definitely no butts.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Confessions of a Teenage Alien Lover

Many years ago, when I was doing my A-levels, I developed an obsession for a US teen drama called Roswell High. It was on BBC 2 at 6pm on Wednesdays and during season one I didn’t miss a single episode. At the end of every show I would sit on my Granny’s living room floor (because she had a bigger television) refusing to avert my eyes from the screen, hoping that if I stared hard enough it would magically fast forward to the next episode.

My appetite was fuelled largely by the on-off relationship between an alien, Michael, and a human, Maria. Unlike the full-blown, starry-eyed love affair between Max (alien) and Liz (human), there was something honest and real about the budding romance between this emotionally stunted extra terrestrial and mouthy waitress. No hormonal seventeen-year-old was as soulful and sensitive as Max but every boy I liked at school reminded me of Michael, only he was a much better kisser. And was better looking. And the actor Brendon Fehr was probably not a spotty teen but a Hollywood actor in his twenties. These were all minor details though. As far as I was concerned Michael was a boy, the same age as me, who had the ability to be passionate and poetic and fall in love. Surely there had to be at least one moody bad lad in my History class who could be as deep and meaningful? Alas, by the end of season one the whole alien-human thing had ruined the romance for Michael and Maria whilst the boys in History continued to ping the girls’ bra straps and throw rubbers at the backs of our heads.

When I started university, I became so consumed by my own, real life romantic traumas that I didn’t have time for the likes of Roswell anymore. Fast forward ten years and my brother, possibly as a joke, possibly not, gave me the DVD box set for my birthday. It was a thoughtful gift; he had remembered my old infatuation when I had long forgotten that the show ever existed (probably he retains mental scars from being forced to watch it week in and week out for half a year). I promptly put the box on my shelf to collect dust next to Pretty Woman and the Peep Show. I once took it down and momentarily considered putting on the pilot episode but I couldn’t quite go through with it. Then, last Sunday, a friend and I lay curled up in my bed after a reckless Saturday night out in Nice. The first disc was missing from my Grey’s Anatomy box set and we weren’t in the mood for a movie. Roswell was all we had left.

My friend and I settled down and got through four episodes. The next night we watched five. I was seventeen all over again and as soon as the credits rolled I immediately wanted to go on to the next one. After my friend returned to London I did consecutive nights propped up in bed: two episodes, three and then another two. I eked out the last disc and had an additional session dedicated to the extras. This morning, when I woke up and realised that it was over, that there would be no Roswell tonight, I felt bereft. I got out of bed and immediately ordered the second and third seasons on Amazon.

I hadn’t been expecting to love Roswell as much now as I did the first time around but, if anything, I think I may love it more. I laughed out loud when Michael and Maria bantered like Hepburn and Tracey, was breathless when Max strapped his biceps around Liz and kissed her for the first time, and was a weeping mess when Maria comforted her distraught boyfriend after he’d had a fight with his abusive foster father. And he may be seventeen and an alien but Michael still makes me swoon. To think that all these years I’ve been hell bent on having a human boyfriend, when what I actually need is something extra-terrestrial.

In all seriousness, I have found it slightly disturbing to discover that my dreams and desires haven’t developed that much since my adolescence. You’d imagine that my experiences with men over the years might have taught me that such intense, absurdly romantic relationships don’t exist anywhere but in American teen dramas. Well apparently not, because I’m still holding on to the slender chance that there’s a Michael out there to make me his Maria. On the flipside, the fact that I’ve clearly not progressed mentally or emotionally since I was a teenager is helping me to view my infatuationist ways in a whole new light; suddenly my fantastical imagination, irresponsible behaviour and short attention span are making perfect sense.

Does this mean then that I am destined to spend the rest of my life snogging boys behind bike sheds? Probably. You never know my luck though, I may happen to stumble across a tortured, poetic, desperately handsome alien on the Promenade des Anglais…or, better still, Brendon Fehr.

Until that day - or until I grow-up - I’ll just settle for a poster.

Thursday, 9 July 2009


This summer has seen me go raving mad. Literally. As in I’ve gone crazy for Ibiza anthems, repetitive drumbeats, glow sticks, whistles – the whole lot. I caught the rave bug after a number of late night dance sessions around a camper van whilst on holiday in Sicily in May. The music of choice was a lurid techno/cheesy house mix and when I got back to Nice the rhythms went on banging and banging and banging in my brain.

Thankfully, at the beginning of June Kitty threw a party up at the villa and I had an opportunity to rave on once again. I was so excited that I deigned the event an official rave-a-thon. One of the boys at the party took to the idea immediately but felt that the concept needed clarifying. ‘Explain to me again, why rave-a-thon?’ he asked. In all honesty, I just liked the word. ‘Imagine raving but seriously, seriously hardcore,’ I tried. ‘What? That’s it?’ he frowned, looking disappointed. ‘I had been imagining something along the lines of a marathon, only with dancing.’ Hmmm, 26.5 miles of raving? I had to admit, this had legs. At that moment Kitty’s DJ brother started to spin 9pm (till I come). It was our starter gun. The boy and I looked at each other and nodded. We were off. For the rest of the evening revellers were split between those sipping rose and having civilized conversations and those bouncing up and down like lunatics and waving their hands in the air. I was, of course, the life and soul of the latter; right up to the point that I stumbled to the lounge and lay down on the sofa. It was intended to be a power nap. Not long after I’d dropped off, a hand shook me roughly. ‘Oi, there’s no way you’re going to sleep yet.’ I swotted at the boy. ‘Seriously,’ he continued, sounding annoyed, ‘what’s happened to the rave-a-thon?’ I lifted my head and managed with surprising force, ‘It’s only a fucking warm up.’ I dropped back on to the pillow, now beyond the realm of napping, and the boy tiptoed away to complete the remaining 24.5 miles by himself.

The following week, I had a chance to salvage my reputation at Kitty’s housemate’s party - same venue, same music, same vibe. Alas, due to my dalliance with the bus stop boy the night before, I’d had an hour’s sleep and was heavy with hangover. By 6pm everyone else was well on the way to having a very merry time, whilst I remained sober and sombre. ’Rave-a-thon?’ Mindy looked me up and down with disgust, ‘More like rave-a-non.’ Realising that I couldn’t take the humiliation of another failed performance, I rallied myself and, ignoring the stabbing pains in my stomach, I forced down a cocktail of gin, cava and larger. It didn’t take long for a wave of Ibiza-esque euphoria to wash over me. Suddenly carried away by this new surge of energy I grabbed JC by the hand. ‘Shots!’ I shouted and dragged him to the kitchen. ‘Steady on raver, we’ve got no mixers.’ ‘And?’ ‘We’re not having neat vodka,’ JC looked at me with concern, he clearly thought I’d had enough. His compromise was to dilute the spirit with citron syrup found at the back of one of the cupboards. I downed five of these in the space of half an hour. Half an hour after that I was passed out on the same sofa as the week before. At 1am I had declared on Facebook: “Rave-a-thon! Whoop whoop!” By 1.30am Mindy had added: “Yeah, rave-a-non.”

The following weekend, I felt the need to prove, if only to myself, that I still had the youthful stamina to pull an all nighter. Unlike the majority of my fellow ravers, I was not having it large in the dance tent at Glastonbury but was rather jigging wildly to a schoolboy folk band at a steam engine rally in the heart of the Kentish countryside – an altogether more hardcore affair. After the live music was shut down at 11pm, my five friends and I felt suitably pumped to take the party down a quiet country lane. We turned up the car stereo, took swigs of vodka from the bottle and jumped without coordination. Despite the attempts of the fairground security crack team to shut us down (at one point we were involved in a high speed car chase around rural Kent) we managed to keep going until the wee hours, and I was up until the bitter end. I’ve now come to the conclusion that the key to a successful rave-a-thon is ensuring that one always dances around a stationary vehicle.

‘Sounds as if you’ll be in need of some peace and quiet when you get back to Nice,’ my mother said on the phone, ‘You’ll probably enjoy having a bit of a break.’ ‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ I scoffed, ‘it’s the Riviera and it’s summer, the next two months will be one long party.’ ‘Dear,’ mother tutted, ‘you’re nothing but a playgirl. Only you’re not rich. I don’t know how you manage it.’ I swear underneath the pretence of disdain, I could detect a little pride.