Saturday, April 29, 2006

Gordon's Breakfast - 2

The other thing about Susan is that her timing is always uncanny. This is confirmed once again as my phone starts ringing almost immediately after I walk out of Arsenal tube. I flip open my phone.

"Hey, Suze, what's up?"
"Well you for one. I just called you at home. No answer. Gord that's a little unheard of for you, isn't it, up and out of the house all before eight o'clock?"
"Oh just out getting a newspaper."
"Just popped out did you?"

I can't help laughing at this even though I feel it is somehow beneath me to laugh at such a double entendre.

"That's right," I say still smiling, "Just popped out."
"Is that how it happened for you last night? Just popped out?"
"Hey who are you today queen of smut?"
"More like queen of tut-tut."

She keeps me laughing with and as I walk along having to move the phone away from my mouth to stop my laughing cough blowing straight down the handset and into Susan's ear on the other end of the line.

"Isn't too early for double entendres? I'm thinking there should be like a morning watershed banning such smutty talk. Besides, I have a resolution. I'm a little late I know, but I figure if I get it in now I can go forward into the rest of the year with it, better late than never right?"

"It's January 29 Gord which is far too late to resolve not to sleep with people I work with."
"Are you sure? I was counting on a month's grace."
"There's no grace Gord, which is handy for you. I take it you're outside my building?"
"Funny you should say that. I was hoping you would offer me coffee and advice as I profusely apologised and owned up to the glaring error of my ways."
"Oh really, I was hoping we could skip that ritual this morning. Besides, I'm running late, I'll bring you some coffee down, you can apologise as you walk me to the tube station. I think you owe me some details anyway."
"Are you sure? Isn't it too early for cross-examination time?"
"Dream on Gord."

With that Susan hangs up. Susan is always hanging up on me. It's like she worships at the alter of the last word and she has been granted the power to hang up on people with impunity whether it is because she is in a huffy mood or merely wants to make it clear that she has made up her mind and things are going to be just so.

As Susan comes out of her mansion block building she is as good as her word. Dressed in a pair of perfectly beaten and faded Levis, a white blouse and fitted jacket, her shoulder length dark brown hair is tied back, and she is holding a plastic cup with a lid on it, which she duly hands over to me.

"So how sorry are you exactly? As a guideline, I think you should be very sorry."
"On a scale of one to ten, a lot and I just want to say in my defence that I have no idea how it happened. Honestly."
"Well let's recap. You drank lots of champagne and stuck your tongue in her mouth to which she responded to by saying why don't you come back to my place."

That's another thing about Susan. She has an uncannily ability to cut to the chase. I can't help laughing at this.

"Suze, that's just plain spooky. Were you watching?"
"Funny, anyway I'm only teasing you. Charlotte said she was in need of a quick shag and she thought you were cute and needy."

Needy? I'm shocked at this. A quick shag? Who talks like that? Oh wait, I think I know the answer to this one.

"Needy? I'm not needy. I'm the reverse I'm...I'm needless."
"You're needless?"
"Yeah...or something, but definitely not needy."
"Sorry Gord, but you are so needy. You are in need of a girlfriend guy. Oh I've come up with a new acronym, NAGG, need a girlfriend guy."
Susan claps her hands together at this under the impression that it is in fact extraordinarily funny and possibly the best joke she ever came up with.
"Nag? How appropriate, which reminds me why I don't need a girlfriend."
"Funny boy, anyway did she or did she not kick you out really early."
"And you knew that how exactly?"
"I just have to look at you and the fact that it's really terribly early. People linger more if they're not kicked out first thing."
"They linger? That's good to know. There was definitely no lingering."
Susan touches a finger to her lips.
"Oh how sad, you've entered the linger free part of your life."
"Oh cheers."

Susan smiles obliquely.

"Anyway, I've loved you and now must leave you. Maybe at the weekend?"

Susan makes that mwah mwah sound as she kisses me on both cheeks, but doesn't actually make contact.

"Hey, what's with the mwah mwahing?"
"Oh didn't I say? I'm going to a fashion party tonight that Mademoiselle is going to be sponsoring it's going to be chocker full of models. I'm just practicing. Mwahing is terribly important to models it makes up at least half of their vocabulary. If you talk mwah you're almost there to being their lifelong friend. I just want to ensure that I have plenty to say."
Susan has me in stitches, "Did you say models? I think you might want to take me with you. I'm fluent in mwah and have always wanted know meet more models."
"No Gord, you can't come. You'll get a little and then a lot drunk and convince yourself that for some bizarre reason you will be able to successfully chat one up. And whilst they are generally guaranteed to be blond and not awfully clever, they still won't sleep with you."
"Really? Are you sure? I mean shouldn't we put that theory to the test. I mean I like champagne, so we'll have something in common."
"I'm quite positive and besides someone on the magazine will see and there'll be gossip. Besides you're too poor, you don't take lots of drugs, don't have a large house, nice car and you don't belong to any private members clubs."

Susan's right, damn what can I say, I knew that one day I would suffer in later life for failing to take large quantities of drugs.

"Held back again by my overly sensible and clean living approach to life."
"Gord you don't have a clean living approach."
"Damn you're right again. I never knew I failed on so many levels. Did I ever tell you how lucky I am to have you?"
"Never, but Gord that's okay I've always seen myself as the vastly under appreciated but indispensable type. Look I have to go. I need to hit to the gym, starve myself, pick up my little black dress from the dry cleaners and have a facial all in the vague hope that I will look thin enough by this evening to not stand out too much. How do you rate my chances?"
"As always Suze, highly. And remember if you think you might suddenly change your mind and decide what your good friend Gordon actually needs is to meet some models..."

Susan places her index finger on her lips as if to give the indication that she is actually giving my suggestion serious consideration. And really I would be full of hope if I hadn't seen her do this a million times before.

"Oh let me think long and hard about that one. Thinking over. Dream on Gord. Speak later."

I watch Susan cross the road and head to Arsenal tube station as I head off down the street again towards home, which is just a few minutes away from Susan's place. I have a mountain of work to finish including my article on 'Men and yoga'.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Gordon's Breakfast - 1

I'm too old for one-night stands and I cannot hop. I realise all of this as I come crashing down and hit the floor with all the grace of a sack of potatoes. The hopping? To be honest? I'm less concerned about that. It's the other thing. Okay, maybe, at 34 I should have realised this thing about one night stands before I crashed down to the floor in the hallway of Charlotte's flat, but I had rather been under the impression that while this casual approach to relationships wouldn't exactly last forever it wouldn't end so abruptly either. I just always assumed that I would continue to have commitment free fun until I got married when I was like, you know, older. Yeah, older – that non-specific time in your life that is either a million miles a way or a step around the corner. Step.

Weird thing is there was no sign of it last night, I swear. It didn't happen in the bar and I'm pretty much convinced that it didn't happen during, well you know, during. Worse than not happening last night it happened this morning, you know like some weird morning after side affect of the night before. And I swear there is nothing worse than things happening when you are sober (you know'ish) in the cold light of day. What's with the cold light thing anyway?

Charlotte is kind of standing over me, arms folded, as I, heaped on the floor, struggle with my trainers. Pulling your trainers on while hopping looks so easy on TV, but with my poor balance, really it is not the case.

"That fall looked painful. Are you alright?" Charlotte asks, "You fell sort of oddly."

As she asks me this I lift myself up and finally pull on my second trainer. I don’t even bother with the laces, which are knotted beyond immediate help, and I suddenly have this flash back of me impulsively ripping them off my feet in record time last night. And I tell you, me and impulsiveness? It never ends well.

"Painful? No, not at all it’s just that I don't usually start hopping so early in the morning. It’s kind of like a bit of a shock to the system."

Charlotte smiles at this and crosses her arms, looking faintly amused.

"No, I think the door will work fine. Look sorry to rush you out of here without breakfast," she says.
"Or coffee, or water or...;"
"Yeah, errr anyway..."

Charlotte opens the front door and gently with her hand on the small of my back she helps me out of the hallway, which is of course nice of her but really I didn't need the assistance. On the doorstep I stand looking back with my hands stuffed deep in my pockets, arms rigid against my side, smiling as Charlotte, who is still dressed only in a white silk dressing gown, peaks out from behind the door, which she is slowly closing on me diminishing my view of her by the second.

"Sorry to rush you out like this, but I have this really early...meeting?"

I look at her blankly.

"...and it's I have to get ready for the weekend..."

And I think she's looking at me for some support, but I'm just looking back her still slightly in shock at my rapid exit so she continues with litany.

"...and, well, you know how it is I really need to get going, and you probably should too, you don't mind do you?"
"No, no, morning, meetings, at least you didn’t say you have a squash game to rush to," I say.

And I'm laughing when I say this and so wishing that I hadn't.

I wave her off, "Oh nothing," I say smiling, hands deep in my pockets.
"Well anyway, thanks for being so cool, other guys get really pissed off about this kind of stuff."
"Look, I was going to..."
"Yeah, look, errrm, really nice to meet you, last night was…great, of course, and everything, but," and Charlotte claps hands together, "really, don't feel bad about not calling me?"

Before I even have time to process any of this Charlotte is raising her eyebrows and offering me a big smile.

"Bye now."

With that Charlotte closes the door and I'm left looking at the white panel door with my face just inches from the brass doorknocker.

Don't feel bad? Don't feel bad? These words are ringing in my head as I walk away from Charlotte's and start to walk towards Notting Hill tube station and home. Somehow thinking that don't feel bad is possibly one of the worst phrases in the English language.

As I head down the steps of the station and arrive on the platform the terrible thing is that I know if I could have looked at myself just then I would have seen this slightly dazed and confused expression. Mainly because it felt like I was on the receiving end of a conversation with myself. That total brush off? Don't feel bad about not calling me? I've used that line. It was all so familiar. I just never expected to have it delivered to me. I mean how humiliating is that exactly?

Don't answer that. My point is I never even got the chance to say that I never had any intention to call her again. Okay, I never exactly had time to formulate that thought either, but I swear the words were on the tip of my tongue. It’s like she stole my thunder and you know the worse part? Oh yeah, there’s always a worse part. I didn’t even realise it was happening to me.

This brings us to back to the here. I mean look at me? I mean seriously. My face shouldn't be like this. No way. I should have a huge cat who got the every single last drop of cream smile on my face after last night. Charlotte is 25 and really rather gorgeous. And my demeanour? It shouldn't be like this, all sullen and dour. I should definitely have a swagger. I should be strutting or glowing or something. Rather than sitting on the tube as I am now looking like just another guy with a hangover at the end of a long night. I feel like my youth just got up and left the room. And to be honest? I kind of feel the urge to get up and follow it.

I need to retrench. I know I shouldn't be chasing 25 year olds, I should be dating women my own age. I mean we all should, you know more or less. It’s, oh what’s the phrase? Oh yeah scary, sensible and the grownup up thing to do. Damn, I knew there was a problem with that plan.

It’s not that I have a problem with 30 something women, Susan and Alison are among my best friends, and they are great. Alison for instance is best – best job, best looking, best house, and best husband, like I said best. She’s like this shinning beacon for the successful young modern woman. Just don’t tell her that, as she hates me calling her a beacon. Yeah, and you know what? I’m not sure what that’s about either.

And of course there is Susan. I have no idea where I would be without her. What can I say about Susan? We have an understanding. Susan takes me to great parties and I embarrass her terribly. I on the other hand offer her great advice on the men she dates, which she ignores. Susan likes to do the same for me with just as much success. That girl from last night for instance? Charlotte? She works on the same magazine with Susan, who only invited me along to last night’s party on the express understanding that my presence went unnoticed and did in no way involve fraternising with her colleagues on a one to one basis, which means I owe her something of an apology.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Demographic Shift - 100

As you know I've done a bit of internet dating on as have a lot of people that I know. It's mostly been miss and miss.

I've blogged about it a bit, as have other people, and possibly in retrospect that hasn't always been the best strategy.

There was Difficult Third Date Girl. She obviously read what I wrote, although that didn't exactly backfire at the time. She took it well and I guess in retrospect it was kind of cute. She had a good comeback and I do a good line in sheepish.

Then it happened again. I blogged about dating and then that got read. Whoops. While in the case of DTDG it was kind of amusing and in the end date enhancing, when I blogged most recently the results were quite different and I was on the receiving end of a deserved double barrel missive, which was fair enough.

It sort of reminded what I'd been thinking for a while that this blog was really starting to suffer a little blog fatigue.

And really if you want to blog about your love life really you should do it anonymously otherwise you're going to get it and, well, so are other people, which leaves few winners.

This blog started out being about one thing and slipped seamlessly into another at some point a lot of words ago. It has jumped around a bit, possibly more so lately, who knows, but it all added to the feeling that this blog had run its course.

The other thing this was kind of about (at the beginning) was trying to write some kind of Demographic Shift novel, which would have (or should have) been some of blokelit/chicklit thing. Let's face it lots of blogs are novels in waiting, but I could never quite get it right. Or I could never get something right that I was all that happy with.

Partly because I wanted to convention defy and mix some more serious narrative with witty amusing dating dialogue. You could see why that went wrong. Chicklit isn't so much about narrative, but about typing with dialogue and shallow inner thought. The rest is just filler. Sometimes quite good, but lets face it mostly not.

It took me a while to realise that resulting in the first two efforts not quite hitting the mark, being neither one thing nor the other. Both of those were called The Demographic Shift. Even the title (for a book) is not really 'lite' enough.

The third and final effort is closer to what it should have been. It's really not bad, but I don't think it needs to be aired anywhere else other than here. Like the world needs it. Besides, if I spend anymore time on it I will never actually get around to doing the so called real writing that I want to do rather than fun typing.

So anyway to cut a long story short. I had planned for a while to call time on this blog, this Demographic Shift, pretty much as it called time on me, and No 100 seems a good place to stop and here we are. Admittedly I posted three times today. Not that I'm in a rush to finish up or anything. I just got finish line frenzy and was hit by a last burst of speed. Job done.

That said what I thought that I would gradually do was post the novel that grew out of it, week by week. Title wise the third and final draft is called Gordon's Breakfast. Not my title. It's Suze's I kind of stole it. She did say that if she ever wrote a novel that's what she would call it. She still can. This particularly breakfast, however, will be served every Friday until it runs its course. First serving next week and thereafter.

The Demographic Shift - 99

I had to share this. Susan has been doing some internet dating again or at least "lurking on dating websites". The story kind of sums up how the whole thing can be a little more miss than hit sometimes.

"Dating lurking?"
"Yes, it's like window shopping, you don't buy anything or even go into the store. You stay quiet outside."
"Oh you mean outside where its safe?"
"Well most of those dating websites do carry messages warning you to date safely."

Susan has a point although I'm not sure that "don't date" was what they had in mind when they wrote the date safely rules. But hey, each to their own.

Anyway, I digress, different sites have, what if you're a bit techie you would call, different feature sets. Some allow you to do lazy stuff like wink at people, which is sort of cute, but really all it says is "well you seem okay, but to be honest I'm too lazy to send you a message and much get off my arse and do anything about it, but if you can be bothered to express an interest in me first then that could work".

Of course, the proper response to this is to ignore it. Unless rule one applies. Rule one, of course, is don't ignore it if they happen to be really good looking. That seems fair enough.

Like winking at people another thing that some of these sites allow you to do is add people to your list of favourites like a regular web bookmark, which can also be another lazy way of doing nothing. Pretty much like above.

Sometimes as well as allow you to send messages and do all the work yourself these sites do things for you and try to electronically match you up. My thinking is if people have trouble doing it for themselves the chances of a computer database being able to do it for you successfully are les than zero.

Anyway, this is what it did with Susan, it flashed up on her screen presenting her with what it said was a perfect match.

On her screen was a picture of someone with the following message: "It's fate. Getting a conversation started will be a cinch because for starters you share the same desire to have children, you both mention sailing in your profile, plus he was born on the 15th, too.

"His best feature is his eyes. He's 35 yrs old, 5' 10" tall and his body type is athletic. Find out more about him through email."

It even sounded good to me, but I knew there had to be a problem.

"The picture was actually pretty good. So I clicked through. Then I saw the problem."
"There was a problem, already? How could that be, you said you wanted a tall athletic guy who was into sailing? Not bad looking? What more do you want."
"Gord it wasn't that he professed to have a whacky sense of humour and enjoy drinking shots."
"Enjoys drinking shots? He put that? Whacky? Who does that?"
"Quite, but it was something even more fundamental than that."

More fundamental? I wracked my brain and delved into my detailed knowledge of Susan's hang ups. It could be anything.

"You got me what was the fundamental deal breaker?"
"The first date was going to be a bit of a stretch.
"A stretch?"
"Yeah, with me in North London and him in Ankara! How could that be a perfect match? I haven't even made my mind up about Turkey entering the EU yet!"

Technology is a wonderful thing. Just don't expect to try and let it do all the hooking for you.

The Demographic Shift - 98

I got a T-shirt in the post this week. This is not unusual. Normally they are oversized and in some garish primary colour with a logo so large and thickly applied to make it only useful in stopping bullets.

This one was slightly different. It was a sort of tawny beige with the words "Real men don't shave". I know something about this having not so long ago gone through a whole non-shaving period.

The t-shirt was connected to a US ad campaign that has something to do with the death of metrosexual man, which it seems to me has been greatly exaggerated.

No there has not been a collapse in moisturizer sales or anything as drastic as that, but a possible shift in attitude.

You can tell as earlier in the week The Times ran a pieces "Metrosexual, RIP?", which summed up modern man's dilemma quite well as it posited that while the name may change a man's dilemma remains the same: "what is the precise ratio between machismo and moisturiser that will get me laid?"

With The Times article and the T-shirt, that's once as rumour and twice as fact.

The Times piece was sparked by the recent closure in the US of Condé Nast's Cargo magazine, which was interpreted here and there as more evidence that metrosexual man had had his day, taken his styling products and gone back to basics.

Gawker for instance has this to say: "Let it be said that we’re never happy to see a magazine die. But if this signifies the larger, official and irreversible death of the metrosexual, well, it’s a noble sacrifice."

I'd been thinking about this and couldn't really agree less. Men are more than ever buying cart loads of product. The closure of Cargo was simply time being called on a bad idea: a shopping magazine for men? Can you see any sense in that as an idea? No me neither.

Clearly neither could many men. Ziff Davis Media closed its men's tech-shopping magazine, Sync, last November; Fairchild folded the men's shopping title Vitals in September.

Men's shopping mags going belly up aside, do a little digging and you'll find that all the things that apparently "made" metrosexual man still seem to be there in the market writ large.

After a quick look around and I found reports ranging from a booming shaving products market (it used to be easy: foam, now its foam, gel, oil et cet), which grew 24% between 2000 and 2004 and was worth about £500m last year, to the heavy discounting and the rise of 'metrosexual' man are driving the fragrance sector.

"The rise of 'metrosexual' man has pushed grooming up the agenda for young males, who have been targeted by manufacturers accordingly."

While teenagers experiment with hairstyling it’s the 25- to 34-year-old market that is the key audience for manufacturers partly because these men want to look good at work.

Women on average might worry about her body every 12 minutes, but men aren't far behind. Another recent study conducted by Ogilvy & Mather also saw no stopping metrosexual man, those urban straight men who are conscious of their physical appearance.

Metrosexual man is far from dead, but it's the phrase itself that people have twigged is naff. It was meant to suggest "just gay enough", but it was really always too gay to be straight, which is partly why we have seen the emergence of new (but the same) marketing buzz words to replace it such as Ubersexual and Heteropolitans.

The Ubersexual seems simply to be a reworking of the classic sex symbol (George Clooney and Brad Pitt are Ubers) while the Heteropolitans (Jamie Oliver, Andrew Flintoff and Vernon Kaye) seem to be lads...but didn't they morph into metros? It's all kind of circular and confusing.

There was the Retrosexual as well. Although I'm not sure what ever happened to him...other than his move to all things retro.

All of these new catchall phrases are essentially naff as well. Having never gone around describing myself as a metrosexual (it always sounded like a term of mild abuse), I can't really imagine ever wanting to attach any other marketing buzz word to the labels that I am already wearing.

I might once have tried a seaweed green face mask (it was a long time ago) and have been known to, you know, moisturize, on occasion, but firmly resist Metro, Uber (unlikely) or Heteropolitan tag.

Although, that said, I'm kind of likely to wear the T-shirt, the shaving thing aside.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Demographic Shift - 97

I went to a some media type party the other week and behaved badly. I didn't throw up or spill booze over someone vaguely important, but it was poor behaviour all the same. To be honest I feel kind of bad.

Before you ask, yes of course there was a woman involved, what other kinds of bad behaviour are there for men to get involved in (okay possibly plenty)? And before you ask no it was not a pretty sight.

It was the usual story of far too much free booze, a little bit of competition and a complete throwing out of everyone's favourite Gramscian dating maxim about those failing to learn from history being condemned to repeat it.

So repeat it I did. Besides I never thought there was an attractive brunette who plonked slap bang in the middle of my radar that I shouldn't at least try to throw myself at. It seems only fair. I think I have one of those throwable characters.

So this was the scenario. Several drinks into the evening waiting staff buzzing around a packed room of freeloading party goers also known as advertising and media types and I was away.

At first I had absolutely no intention of doing anything. Seriously, I was just going to have a couple of drinks and hail a black cab home. I can't out late these days getting up early in the morning totally kills me.

But then I got talking to a PR woman from those heady dotcom days who couldn't remember my name nor I hers.


Gideon? 0h come on, I'm not even close to being a Gideon even if I knew what a Gideon looked like. But I have set ideas about these kind of things and I was kind of imagining Gideon to be really tall, quite skinny and with curly brown hair. I happy to be corrected on this matter, of course.

But still after we had sorted out who was who she decided that she really had to meet another reporter who was there that evening, but all she knew was that she was terribly pretty, brunette, French and called Emily, but you know with a French accent on the Em and the ily.

We started scanning the room when right in front of us was a possible Emily candidate.

"It could be her? She's brunette and really quite attractive."
"Do you think? I wouldn't have said she was that attractive."
"Why don't you speak to her," my PR pal said.

Me? What just walk up and start a conversation? No problem. We were on glass four or so by then so really I'm sort of full of...errr something. I gate crash the possible Emily conversation and try my best to be really charming.

"Hello, you must be Emily?"

She looked puzzled.

"No, I'm Charlotte."
"That's kind of close, Emily's and Charlottes are very similar."
"I'd not heard that."
"There's the whole Bronte thing and...well that's all I have I'm afraid."
"It was a good start although I'm pretty sure I'm not an Emily."

And so it went on and everyone else drifted away and we were chatting along and it was going swimmingly until another reporter turned up and refused to go away. You know how people appear at your elbow and you find they are suddenly nodding along to your conversation about whatever like it's the most interesting thing they ever heard. It was just like that. What it also was, was competition and it rapidly turned into one-upmanship.

"Steve, I think someone's waving to you over there?"

He looked over his shoulder, looked back at me, shook his head.

"No I think that's someone else they're after."
"Maybe you should check," I said big with the urging.
"No, I'm okay, thanks."

Hmmm. This was really unfair. We were both running over ourselves to be witty and amusing and big on the impressiveness. I'm sure it was a total car crash.

A little later someone tapped me on my shoulder. I vaguely recognised her then proceeded to get her name wrong (I'm kind of thinking the evening had a theme and no one had told me). Damn I was going to have to talk to her. Steve was grinning at this. Clearly this was his chance.

I felt kind of bad as although I'd gotten her name wrong she was really nice so I'm sure would not have minded if I dumped (I mean introduced to) her on Steve.

"Hey Steve come here a second, have you met Jenny?"

I guided the two together. Promptly turned my back on them and back to Charlotte who having spent the last half an hour talking restaurants I asked out for lunch.

I saw Steve the next day. He had this wry grin on his face.

"I saw that last night."
"Saw what?"
"You dumping that girl on me whose name you couldn't remember."
"Oh yeah that...," I shrugged my shoulders, "Errr sorry about that. What can I say?"

He shook his head, smiling a little, clearly having taken it quite well.

"Don't worry about it. I guess you did see her first."