A bit of Stuff

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“Don’t come too early, cos I’ve got a late night with Renault people. And Hannah.”

Jac’s certainly not wasted time since his release from a long termer a couple of months ago. One woman in particular seems to have become a regular fixture at his new house in Putney, and this latest snippet of information was like a red rag to a bull. Nick and I were due at Jac’s on Saturday morning to visit the Stuff Show in Hammersmith. We hadn’t met Hannah, and decided it was about time we forced Jac’s hand. We turned up on his doorstep at 8.30am, eager as a couple of beavers. It was a freezing morning, and after a couple of rings of the doorbell, I gave him a call.
“Morning Jac. How are you feeling?”
“I see. We’re outside your house.”
“Let us in please.”
“You utter *****.”
It still took him a few minutes to gather his senses and open the door, by which time we were slowly turning to icicles. Turns out he wasn’t too impressed with our early start, his hangover still in full force – and Nick and I instantly made the most of it, laudly stomping round the house and requesting breakfast. We took ourselves for a short tour of his new pad, and as we entered the front room he hurriedly removed items of clothing and underwear from the chairs and floor. “Had a good night?” I asked, catching a glimpse of Hannah round the door. “Hmmmm,” he replied. Nick and I gave ourselves a look of mirth.
A couple of sausage sandwiches later, we’d met Hannah, teased Jac (“she seems nice,” was met with a Jac-based scowl) and hurried him along. After discovering I’d got a parking ticket for NO REASON AT ALL (complaint pending on that one, let me assure you) we arrived at the Stuff Show and took in the gadgetry. It was actually a little disappointing – far less stands than the year before, and the stands that were there were mostly selling MP3 players. We left a few hours later for lunch, discovering that Putney is actually very nice, and that Gourmet Burger Kitchen is an amazing place to go for cracking burgers.
So, a bit of a revelation – I’ve found a bit of London I actually like! Check me out…

An Element of Security

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“Do you want to be security for me for one night next July? He’s rich, and there’s ?100 in it for you.”
So here I was, one year later, sitting in the pitch black at the entrance to one of the largest houses I’ve ever seen. Paul D, old friend and Event Manager, was organising the night, I’d enlisted Jac as my comrade for the evening, and together our remit was to parade the substantial grounds, making sure no border mischief took place in the grounds. The event? A combination of one birthday, one A-level completion and a 25 year wedding anniversary. The location and family involved I’m sworn to secrecy about, but suffice to say that the party cost around ?35,000 and was frankly enormous.
The evening begin with a stutter. Jac had managed to catch the end of the M25 roadwork nightmare, and issued an urgent text message from the depths of his Renault, indicating a degree of lateness. No matter, I surmised, we’d built in lateness – and sure enough Jac turned up in time for us to don our bouncer attire – suit and a bow tie – and leave for the event. It was about 2 miles from my house – by no means a difficult journey but easy enough, we found, to turn up in completely the wrong place. A few minutes of calling loudly for Paul and a quick phone call ensued, before we bundled back into the car again, following revised instructions. We arrived – and took in the sheer enormity of the estate. The long gravel drive swept past the first field, a huge white tent gracing the area in front of the house and containing the dining area, dance tent and catering section. Leading from the tent, around the side of the house, were fairground entertainments – the Bucking Bronco, Laser Clay Pigeon Shooting and Dodgems. Round the back was the car park – and the headquarters for the event management and security team. Jac and I parked, bristling with excitement.
Paul briefed the team at 1700 hours, informing us that the whole thing should be finished by 2am, as he had to get home to London and up to a Farmer’s Market for 6am, the poor soul. Having had a tour of the grounds, we helped with the flowers (don’t ask) and then headed to our lookout points. Jac, as usual, chose the tradesman’s entrance, with the job of ushering in the staff and bands. I, meanwhile, stood imposingly by the front gates signing off party arrivals, while the third man (and joint organiser of the night) stood by the tent, offering help to drunken revellers.
And that, essentially, was that. The job of a bouncer is not to enjoy the event, but to enforce security – and we were barely challenged the whole night. We rotated our points throughout the night, spying for the slightest breach of security. And save for a passing policeman and a jogger, I can proudly tell you we weren’t breached. The intercom radios provided entertainment (“I’ll take them round the back, over”) and the fireworks at midnight were so loud and spectacular my mother rang from our house miles away to congratulate us. But other than that the night passed peacefully and enjoyably. We left Paul and the rest of the team and drove our weary selves home at 1.30am, hungry – and chortling at the thought of Paul and his imminent Farmer’s Market. Even Event Management has its downsides…

Poor Jac’s wallet

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“Money talks…but all mine ever says is good-bye.”
A message from Jac this morning, listing his reasons for being broke: “It is Christmas. I also have a girlfriend. I have also just bought shares in Renault and a new Hugo Boss suit (cursed mother). Credit card is in hospital recovering from repeated blows to its magnetic strip and the wallet is under medication for trauma”.
Poor boy.

Jac’s Grand Prix prize

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Workwise, my good friend Jac has landed, like the proverbial cat, on both feet. After an achingly long time scraping a living in the post-university abyss of job-searching, he landed a graduate role at Renault. A new, free car every 11 months, a steadily increasing salary, courses, trips, everything you could want. he even went on a Positive Thinking course the other day – and now he regularly comes out with wishy-washy positive drivel. “There’s always a bright side”, “but think of the positives”, “every cloud has a silver lining”. Try telling that to Robert Maxwell.
But now, he’s really come up trumps. After entering a Renault competition – a frighteningly easy task of taking pictures of their newly-designed (and highly suspect) Megane. He duly took the thing all the way to Cardiff, took some snaps, brought them back and won first prize – 2 tickets to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Not just any old tickets though. Oh no. Helicopter travel to the ground, Champagne breakfast, meeting the drivers, tour of the track, VIP seating, the whole caboodle. Lucky, lucky tyke. Make sure you take a camera, Jac…

Shunta’s Foot

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*ring* *ring*
“Hello mate.”
“Ah, Shunta, how are you?”
“Well, fine. Apart from the soft tissue damage to my left foot.”
And so it goes with Shunta. His tried-and-tested shock approach has been well-worn over the years, but always manages to catch me unawares. It turns out he has no idea how he did it, so I couldn’t even get a story out of him.
As I’m reporting on friends:
Jac has finally settled down into his new job at Renault, spreading his seed and quietly planning to take over the company with the minimum of fuss, while supplying me with enough anecdotes to justify the expense of the blasted servers.
Nick has changed his car, house and financial status in the past week. He upped sticks and left his bachelor pad in Aldershot about a week ago, making a tidy ?55,000 profit. More to spend on me then, tremendously. He’s moving in to a new, bigger bachelor pad in Woking with a friend, buying a new car (a Peugeot 206 CC cabriolet, the bastard) AND has rid himself of a girlfriend. Crikey.
Shunta is still engaged (all bets are now off), and managing to settle down remarkably well to a life of marital bliss in Cranleigh.
And me? Still trundling along, scraping by on the financial pittance I have spare a month, trying to find a nice place in Guildford to calm my bank manager down. I’m quietly waiting for a lottery win.

Bye, Jac

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Well, Jac’s off. He had a leaving bash on Saturday night in the Cranley Hotel, which we all duly attended with aplomb. After the final rendition of Oh Lord, Won’t You Buy Me A Horse and I’m The Only Gay Eskimo, we said our farewells, and even Jac won’t deny he got a little emotional.
He’s started a new job at Renault, moved into his new house in Ealing, and just received a new company car. It’s the end of an era. We’ll miss you…
On a lighter note, I slipped on a small button mushroom this afternoon.