Tuesday, 24 September 2002

Barry, this one's for you

My flatmate claims to have noticed a drop in the quantity of self-obsessed angst in this blog.

I'd just like to point out that it's almost exactly a year since the first time I was righteously done over, and over four months since I last dallied where I shouldn't, and I think I've fitted in almost enough angst in the intervening period to suffice for a good while.

Mr Angry

The landscape of my mind is clean, bright and smooth, like rolling summer hills and meadows. I navigate smoothly and swiftly from location to location, absorbing memories en route, harvesting thoughts from the mental pastures and shaping them into coherence and action.

Somewhere in the landscape sits one dark and forbidding thicket, little visited for a while, its paths clogged and tangled and all but forgotten. I unexpectedly re-entered it on Friday.

I answered the knock on the door and she stood there, bags in hand, come not for me but for the transport and entertainment my flatmate was offering, proving the impossibility of a clean emotional break in a personal life complicated by shared friends and a common employer. My reaction was one of mute sullenness brought on by an utter inability to think of something I could possibly want to say in a suddenly oppressive house. I exchanged three civil if curt words before walking out to a different set of a friends and a different evening.

For a while I was left alone in the dark cloud of my thoughts. It's an unsettling place to be. I'm obscenely, greedily, jealously, angry. The rage stills my tongue but quickens my mind as it thrashes through the dark paths seeking an outlet.

De Botton writes that anger is a result of the frustration arising when the world does not conform to our expectations. I led myself to believe that my world at this point would include sharing life with her, my reading of her complex character was inaccurate, she had other ideas and now I'm angry.

When I think about talking to her now, instead of hearing the words, I rage at the loss of the bushels of joy she stole from my dreams and shared with him. It's not even that I'm unhappy at the moment, just at times I envy those who have someone to share their happiness with.

Monday, 16 September 2002

Shoe success

Four months of dithering have come to an end, I've found the trainers that will be my podiatric ambassadors for the immediate future.

They are a little bit grey, slightly chunkier than is perhaps desirable, respectable when needed but slightly childish in general. Unconstrained by tight, straight laces, they come with a clear window that gives glimpses to the very centre of the deep, comfortable sole.

I've no idea why I bought them...

Friday, 13 September 2002

Footwear dilemmas

My shoe wardrobe is always small and functional, only one pair of shoes for each specific need - work, walking, sailing, golf, cycling. The king of them all, the footwear that's good wear, is a single pair of trainers to support all my social activities.

I have always been a wearer of trainers, not for me Patrick Cox loafers or tassled slip-ons during my leisure hours. I partly define myself by being someone who at the age of 29, refuses to conform to the CEO-at-the-weekend look favoured by many of my contemporaries.

The current trainers are dying, the glue and stitching unravelling after a year of hard wear, and for four months I have searched shoe shops all over the country for the perfect replacement pair. It is not purely functional footwear I seek, although comfort, weight and ease of lacing are important, loftier factors sway my judgement.

My eye catches not just on brand, my decision is based not entirely on colour, instead I crave trainers where the ensemble of form and style say all that must be said about me, that will allow those that see me on the street to know precisely how finely balanced my particular blend of pragmatism, subtlety and fashion sense is. Trainer selection is an art, the path of trainer wearers is popular and well-travelled but with effort, commitment and an eye for detail it's possible to stay ahead of the shell-shuited, white-Nike toting masses.

I've found the perfect pair many times before although each time they've been different, from phat, black Nike Air Jordans, through chunky off-road types to the current slimline sprinting shoe incarnation. This time though, the search is more arduous, that one too heavy, this one too grey, those too obvious.

Perhaps this is the first real sign of youth slipping beyond me, this is the world's way of telling me a sensible pair of Hush Puppies is more my style nowadays.

Wednesday, 11 September 2002

Monte Carlo to St Tropez

The French Riviera is fabulous.

The boats in St Tropez moor with sterns to the quayside, the short and enormous gulf between polished transom and stone harbour bridged by roped gangplanks. Three decks of mahogany and white leather splendour on yacht after yacht tower above gawping tourists hoping for a glimpse of celebrity or wealth. Sun-drenched sun-loungers with plumped monogrammed cushions stretch out on top decks to invite recumbent bikini-clad beauties carrying gin and tonics. White-shirted crew stand with arms crossed behind their backs awaiting the return of their charges.

A hotel bar holds a balconied view of the entire harbour and the milling crowds below. Patrons drink Veuve-Clicquot and watch their friends carry designer shopping bags from the cool calm of the boutique-packed back streets to the pampered luxury of their yachts.

In Monaco, every third car is a Ferarri, Bentley or convertible Aston Martin, slowing cruising the small streets and bright, grassy square. The chips in the casino are brilliantly coloured and oil-slick smooth - no sharp edges here to stop their steady rain from clouds of punters across the taut green felt of the roulette table. The grey suited croupiers display their practised ennui to the tourists, whose tiny 10 Euro minimum bets must represent little mathematical challenge nor financial incentive to obsequiousness.

The Lady Moura yawns out from the shore, for mile upon gleaming mile of white and gold, a shining bright star at the centre of Monte Carlo marina's glossy solar-system. Larger than all other yachts, as vast as a cathedral, as quiet as a cloud, a shrine to wealth and status that all passers-by are drawn to stare at and silently revere.

The French Riviera is fabulous and I will only return when I can add to the spectacle rather than be awed by it.

Lazy advertising

Although far from my desires to turn this website into some sort of ranting forum, I'm irritated immensely by the current campaign for T-Mobile's picture messaging and need to vent about it.

T-Mobile is a mobile phone service provider who have just launched phones with a built-in digital camera and a service for sending the resulting pictures. They have accompanied the launch with a press and TV campaign featuring tennis players cum celebrity married couple Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi.

The press campaign carries the slogan "Be the First". But why, dammit why? If I walked into a shop tomorrow to buy one of these phones and discovered that I was indeed "The First" due to low uptake of the service, who ON EARTH would I send my low-resolution, badly lit pictures of gurning friends to?

The TV advert is worse, featuring Ms Graf being handed a picture of her husband with the words 'Find me' scrawled on the back. She photographs the picture and messages it to her many, globally distributed friends (all of whom already have the necessary phone, giving the lie to the print slogan) with the associated text 'have you seen this man?'.

If I was Andre Agassi I'd feel a bit miffed that my wife thought it necessary to send a picture of my really rather famous face to our friends to ask where I was, in case they perhaps couldn't remember what I look like. Fortunately a helpful tennis umpire is able to tell Steffi that her husband is in the middle of an important match by photographing him and sending it back. What the hell kind of wife is that anyway - managing to forget that her husband is in the final of the French Open.

It's a badly scripted, lazy piece of advertising, relying entirely on the allure of its stars. Grrrr.