Walking to work yesterday evening, I was stopped not once, not twice, but three times by strangers. This was inevitable of course, the evening being dark and rainy and your humble narrator being in a hurry to get to work on time. On occasion I have felt lonely and purposeless in this city but no one took the liberty of pouncing on me during those times. Only on this day when I am unable and unwilling to stop did people take an interest. The bastards.
The first stop-and-chat occurred when some kind of people carrier (I’m not good with naming cars – I only recognise people carriers, limos, minis and hearses) pulled up behind me and beeped it’s horn. What the fuck? This surely wasn’t someone I wanted to talk to: very few of my friends have cars let alone a great fuel-guzzling leviathan such as this one.
The window opened to reveal a middle-aged Chinese woman, with a child in the passenger seat beside her. “WHERE IS VICTORIA DRIVE?” she shouted. “DO YOU KNOW WHERE IS VICTORIA DRIVE?”
I didn’t. If she read this blog, she would of course know how terrible I am at giving directions. Speaking in my best English accent, I told her my usual lie of not being from this area. I find this is the best approach to giving directions now as I’ve certainly sent people in entirely the wrong direction before now and not realised until they’ve sped away. Moreover, I once told a couple of youngish blokes in search of the Kelvingrove area to look out for the “Spanish Baroque” architecture of the museum, resulting in initial bewilderment followed by much (understandable) chiding laughter.
The Chinese lady threw up her hands in what I would normally take to be comedy disbelief, but in this case was perfectly sincere.
I continued on my way only to be stopped by a second car – some kind of jeep. The window opened to reveal a Scottish woman looking for some Rugby club or other.
“I don’t know of any rugby clubs around here,” I said. No need for porky-pies this time.
“It’s by a pub called The Rock,” she said helpfully. Now, The Rock is a pub I am familiar with. It’s technically my local, though I seldom frequent it due to it’s shameful lack of Spanish Baroque architecture.
Yet for some reason I found it very difficult to direct her to it from our present position. Perhaps the fact that I do not drive is the reason for my inability to give directions to even the most familiar locations: I usually just meander à pied in vaguely the right direction, pigeon-like down alleys and byways and without the encumbrances of speed traps or one-way systems.
I gave the woman some very poor directions (“That Way”) and told her that The Rock was a local landmark and that someone else would certainly be able to direct her to the rugby club once she got a little closer.
I managed to get down to Byer’s Road uninterrupted save for the torrential rain hammering down upon my umbrella. But just as I was about to walk up Great George Street, known colloquially to locals as “That fucking big hill” (and on which I frequently cross paths with fellow livejournalist,
“Sorry, I’m in a massive hurry,” said I, knowing full well that most people she’d talked to that afternoon would certainly have spoken the exact same words and not meant them even half as much as I had.
“Please!” begged the chugger, “I need you!”
I’m sure she used similar statements of sexy submissiveness on many other men that day but, drenched in rain and cloaked with premature winter darkness, I knew that this time she meant it. She did need me in order to get her last subscription so that she might go home. This was indeed a romance of sincerity. But I was late for work and really couldn’t afford the ten minutes required for chugger chat.
“Well, that’s all very nice and sexy,” I complimented, “but it won’t work on me, young lady. I’m a gay, you see.”
She half-laughed and let me continue on my way. What she should have said was “I’ve never heard real homosexual use the word ‘gay’ as a noun. Something is not quite right here”. But she didn’t so I won.
Amazingly, I got to work on time.
Recieved an email today from the people at 5pm.co.uk requesting that I send them an invoice for some restaurant reviews I wrote for them about three months ago. In fact I have sent them a grand total of three invoices and in the absence of a receipt let alone payment had written off the gig as a failure. It’s annoying that they are so ill-organised and my payment has been so delayed but since I had written the whole thing off I was glad that they had made contact again and agreed to pay me some money. Nonetheless, I will believe it when the money is in my account.
As a footnote, I should like to recommend a doppelganger story by the great Reggie C. King. I do so partly because the story is good but mainly because I am honoured to be quoted in it.