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Elli gets spliced

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It’s been a long time coming. In fact, scrap that. Who am I fooling, it’s been an undercurrent in my group of friends for a while. I’m talking marriage. George and Ala’a did it unfeasibly early back in 1999, and Milly did it in style with my colleague-turned-friend Alex back in 2004.
We’re all getting to the creaky late-twenties, and it’s probably about time to settle down, hitch up and get with the family life. For a good few years, my good friend Elli was destined to be waiting in vain for the perfect man. She was hankering for the handsome knight in shining armour and now – as always with the nicest people – her knight has already turned up and rode away with her into the sunset. Yes, ladies and gentlefolks, Elli is now married to her longtime boyfriend Ed Russell. That’s another one to strike off the list then…
Elli’s parties were always debaunched and ultimately brilliant, and so we knew we were in for a good time when the wedding invitation popped through our letterbox a few months ago. The day arrived, and Michelle and I dolled ourselves up for the occasion. Michelle had bought a whole new dress, top and shoes. I had bought a new tie – no expense spared. Still, I cut a dash. We arrived at the church in Shottermill, near Haslemere, with minutes to spare thanks to the unhurried taxi driver and the infamous Hindhead crossroads, and dashed to our places in the pews. It was a hot day – perfect to be sitting in a church in full wedding gear. St Stephens Church – surprisingly from its traditional exterior, a modern, open-plan building, with one big main room, several large windows and doors, and two large screens on the main wall – which I later found a great help in following the less than familiar hymns. There were large hats everywhere, and as we sat down, I saw Ed looking a tad white and very nervous. Last chance, I thought as we sat down for the ceremony.
It all went without a hitch, and after the event we all bundled into cars and drove to a large former school near Hindhead. It was an enormous place, and turned out to be the old school of several of the guests. As they reminisced about the good educational times, I started to wonder how much hotter the day could become. I was aching to strip off and dive into a pool of cold water, if only I could find one. Elli had opted for a free bar – a large mistake, I surmised, as I saw the guests waiting three-deep at the bar. Still, better make the most of it, I thought as I waded in…
After a hearty meal, we heard speeches full of anecdotes and laughter, and then there was nothing for it but to get down to business. The tie came off, the music came on, and we all jigged around into the early hours to a live band that managed to be utterly brilliant. David H turned up half way through to show us all up on the dancefloor, and even managed to drive us back to our house without throwing me out the car for stupid drunken conversations.
So, that’s Elli married. Congratulations to them both. But i’m a little worried. Who’s next, I wonder?!

Love is in the air…

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The text message came through at 11.30, ruining my attempts at bedding down for some sleep. “Oh no,” I thought, remembering the incessant phone calls at 1.30am the night before. “It’s another drunken message from Simon H telling me how much he’s sunk down his throat.” I blearily reached across to my bedside table and tried to focus on the message. It was from Elli.
“I’m engaged!”, it read to my utter astonishment. “Yes, really!” she finished, to counter any accusations that she might be joking. That woke me up with a start, and I immediately tried calling her. In fact, I tried for the next thirty minutes, but her phone reception defeated my chances of a congratulatory message.
So, this morning, I ambled into work (yep, I know its a shocker during the Christmas holidays…) and decided to forward Elli’s message to the rest of my phonebook and then call her. As I was tapping away at the phone keypad, my colleague Kate came in the office. “Oh, how are you, nice Christmas?” I asked innocently. “YES!” she replied, and immediately flashed her hands are me. In fact, what was actually flashing was the enormous rock on her engagement finger. “Dear God!” I said, “Not you as well!”. Any available females in the office immediately crowded round her and cooed at the ring while Kate recounted how, where and when her fiance asked her to marry him.
I’d barely recovered from the shock before I pressed “Send” on my Elli-based text message. Almost immediately, a text message came back, this time from David B, who I’d only seen on Christmas Eve. And this message, my dear readers, was the kicker – the one that sent me into a spin.
“Strange story,” the message said. “So did I.”
So, two close friends and a colleague have all got engaged in the last couple of days. Serious, hearty congratulations obviously goes to all of them (I give good rates for Best Man speeches, by the way) – but seriously, is someone trying to tell me something?

Elli’s birthday

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Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.
Chili Davis
Elli has a birthday every year. As, I suppose, you’d expect. This year Michelle and I ventured up to her house in Balham, followed by a cracking meal in Pizzeria on the Green in Clapham, where even the severe lack of seats didn’t ruin the mood – and then onwards, across, deep down into the depths of Brixton. My Daily Mail-fueled expectations were not met, however – there were no drug dealers on every corner, no drug-fuelled brawls, no gay policemen smoking spliffs. In fact, it was a very enjoyable night, and Plan B nightclub managed to play an entire night of tunes I had never heard of. “House” music, apparently. I considered asking the DJ for a spot of Bon Jovi, but my life may have hung in the balance.
So, welcome to another year, Elli! Thanks for the night, and the bed, and expecially the chocolate…

BBQ and a Comedy Club

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Now, last night WAS fun. Michelle, Jac and I packed ourselves off to Elli and Mel’s in London for swift barbeque and a visit to their local comedy club. The barbeque went without a hitch, with Jac and I reminiscing about our previous debauched parties there, while flipping the burgers and tossing the sausages like the true barbeque professionals we are. I almost tipped myself over the first floor railing (that broken fence is a deathtrap, I tell you), and we all drank substantially, in an effort to deaden the embarrassment if any of the night’s comedy acts were as funny as a dustpan and brush.
But we needn’t have worried. As all eight of us settled in the front row of the venue and the first act started, it dawned on us why our seats were the only ones available – we were picked on mercilessly. Well, most Jac, to be fair. By the end of the night, he had been accused of both sleeping with an 11 year old girl, whilst also fathering her baby.
4 comedians paraded their wares in front of us, and as is usually the case, each one was better than the last. The comedians of the night were Ian Stone, a self-effacing and self-parodying Jewish man and Reginald D Hunter, a black man who had kindly come all the way from America to make us laugh.
The tables were cleared away after the acts, and the obligatory stupid dances were in full view as Jac and I twirled around the dancefloor, strutting our stuff. Ed, Michelle and the other girls could only look on in embarrassment.
I’ll be honest, I was worried about the comedy – about the awkwardness if the acts just weren’t funny. But on the strength of that I am most sincerely up for another one.

Nick’s surprise party

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Nick‘s surprise birthday party (in which we lured him on the inexplicably unrealistic “come and help get a piano out of a taxi” – what a large taxi that must have been…) was a huge success, culminating in Jac getting ‘married’ to a lovely blonde woman, with Simon H as the vicar (complete with wig), and the host’s mother losing her pants…
And I’m doing it all again tonight for Elli’s sister’s 21st. Christ, someone fetch the asprin…

Quotes of the moment (an idea blatantly stolen from Jac’s site):
Jac greeting a fully standing, 5’1″ Michelle: “Hello Michelle, nice to meet you, don’t get up.”
60 year old woman: “Has anyone seen my pants?”
Jac, hearing of a piano removal:”Does anyone have a piano shoe?”
Shunta, several minutes after the surprise party is revealed: “So, where’s this piano then?”

Birthday knees up

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Well, what a weekend! a BIRTHDAY weekend, to be precise. An enormous knees-up with subsidised drinks in Bar Zuka and The Drink with Michelle, Becki, Nick, Paul D and Tom, followed by a good old get-together in Cranleigh watching Sparky sing away splendidly, with Jac, Simon H, Shaun, Elli and Zoe. I am now recovering. And trying to get the photos online before I fall asleep.

I should think I’ll probably fail…