Saturday, February 05, 2005

putting the urban back into the UB
This week has been more interesting than most. On Tuesday I had a ‘team offsite’ where a senior manager (if you can, imagine an American mixture of David Brent and Nathan Barley) talked to the team about the Microsoft account, but first we watched a corporate video of said manager getting made over, it was called PR Eye for the Geek Guy. Sigh. After all the chalk and talk we were sent off in teams on a treasure hunt. We scoured Covent Garden for hours, it was dark, I was cold. I left my team members as they headed to the pub and met up with TA for a coffee. TA had been to hospital for more tests. We felt so sorry for ourselves we thought it necessary to treat ourselves to a restorative dinner of steak and chips washed down with a bottle of rather nice Rioja. We used to do this kind of thing loads when we were first dating and TA was working for a merchant bank, but now it seems like a real luxury to be able to throw caution to the wind and just go out because we feel like it. Strolling home we stopped off at the supermarket for ice cream. Ice cream, Baileys and an episode of 24 - nice.
Last night, however, we really went bonkers. I met TA outside the Curzon cinema on Shaftesbury Avenue after work. We bought tickets to the 11pm showing of Steamboy, a Japanese anime film set in industrial revolution England. With four hours to fill before the film started we should have gone home, but instead we found ourselves strolling through Chinatown and then in Leicester Square. Our naughty feet took us down the spiral stair of the Cork and Bottle. For three and a half hours we drank, ate, talked and watched the world go by around us. By the time we’d finished our coffee I was ready to fall asleep, but the night was not over yet.
The Curzon was packed with human oddities – I love the sheer wealth of difference you see on the streets of big cities. There were the geeky, nerdy guys – all pale sweatiness and black tee-shirts; there were the boho girls dressed in strange combos of bright green and red, beads and straggly hair; there were anoraks, literally; there were the slightly overweight computer programmers; dyke girls with bleached and savagely cropped scalps; there were the design boys with their thick black-framed specs; there was us.
We filtered in and found our seats. All around us the theatre was filling up. TA reached forward and flicked the ear of the man sitting in the seat in front. As his head turned I recognised the diplomat’s son that TA went to Central St Martins with. We’d not seen him for months; he’d been travelling, skiing. Small world.
The film was beautiful to look at and the story was engaging, but still I slept through twenty minutes of it. I woke up wondering why TA had the television on so loud and why I was still wearing shoes.
We walked home through the still busy streets of early-hours London. There was a woman trying to chat up three workmen – asking coquettishly why they were digging up the road at this time of night. There were the foreign students and backpackers for whom mid-week partying is de rigeur. And there was a car full of rowdy boys who drove past us at a crossing. One lary lad shouted to TA “Your girlfriend’s a lesbian!”. TA was bemused, but I thought it was hilarious. Birdsong had been audible as we walked past Russell Square, but as we got closer to home the poor time-puzzled birds’ song got louder, sweeter.

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