3 April 2011

Guest Post: Book club tragedy

As you may recall from last week, I was on the brink of a colossal event - The third annual book club outing; the responsibility for which fell solely with me.

Last year’s book club outing (quite the success) comprised of a trip to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Not Tennessee William’s finest play I hasten to add, but with the phenomenal Adrian Lester in the lead (for the American audience you’ll know him best from the film Primary Colors and for the Brits, it’ll be Hustle) and supporting cast of James ‘Mufasa’ Earl Jones and Sanaa Lathan (who looks even better in real life if that’s possible) it was a mesmerizing performance. The play itself wasn’t quite the brilliance that A Street Car named Desire proved – there isn’t the complexity of character, like the raging Stanley and gargantuan force in the ironic diminutive frame of Blanche Du Bois……. Nevertheless it was a good production and we followed it up by shaking a leg in a club – where we were the only people not to be asked for ID on the door, not because we looked old (God forbid) but because we were distinctly dressed for the weather (clearly revealing our age). Those closer to 21 appeared completely averse to the cold, like an lien life form, their exposed brown skin (of which there was plenty on display) shined radiantly free as they queued in sky scrapper stilettos (with their brightly coloured toe nail extensions clawing over the front of their sandals) and micro dresses (it seems spandex is all the rage).  With so many clones, donning the same outfit (in a range of colours), for a fleeting moment I questioned whether we in our distinct ‘Carrie Bradshaw esq’ dresses were the odd ones. Nah!... True fashion is about being different, and standing out from the crowd.

The year before we’d sampled the best Ghanaian restaurant in town, Safari in Streatham (don’t let the smashed glass put you off, the food is heavenly) and then to a bar in Brixton where a girl had tried to pick a fight with us for accidentally leaning into her (can you imagine?). We had to remind her that we were grown ups with jobs and not in any way interested in pulling weaves out on the streets of Brixton. We promptly left and never looked back. The experience has since become a classic dinner party tale.

2011 and Collection (in Chelsea) proved to be something entirely different. As we approached the scene that befell us was like something from the Hills (a show I’m ashamed to say I’ve had the misfortune of watching on numerous occasions – I blame my little sister). There were perky young blond, tanned girl’s donned head to toe in designer gear (and not of the East Street market persuasion. – It was the real deal) talking on their phones, running jubilantly through the streets (in bras with little support), flirting with boys (who appeared to be in a uniform of jeans, polo shirt and immensely coiffed hair). “Mimi, Jasmine, Saffy” I heard someone exclaim as a trio of immaculately dressed slender figures emerged from a BMW that had just pulled up at the entrance. There were some air kisses, extended diamond clad fingers and waves before the mist of make up and perfume disappeared behind the doors.
I felt the poignant silence and wayward glances from my fellow book clubbers, but on hearing the sounds of Erykah Badu from inside we forged forward.
The bouncer, a long haired European looking wanna be in a suit, had the audacity to welcome us with an irreverent full body stare, followed by a point to my large afro and commendation for my effort that evening, before nodding his approval for our entry. I felt a strange pressure to my head as I passed but thought nothing of it, knowing my fro was perilously piled high and could flop at any moment. It was only later that my friends questioned why I hadn’t reacted to the moronic bouncer patting my hair (like a dog) as we entered the club. Five minutes later (our coats still on our backs) after a sadistic giggle at the expense of the token black men in the room, huddled together sipping champagne, hoping one of the inebriated girls would mistake them for famous rappers, we left. At 11.30pm we headed to our cars, forced to fabricate a tale of sexual propositioning, drugs, violence and general wildess to share with respective partners who would otherwise chide and goad us for our lame undignified and all too rapid dissent into middle age. 
The whole experience nevertheless confirmed what I have for many years sought to deny, that ‘raving’ in whatever guise, in whatever part of this complex and multifaceted city is long behind me - like my youth.  From here on in book club resumes its traditional monthly format of food, gossip, the discussion of life, love, fashion, politics and of course the books, all from the comfort and safety (where there is no hair poking) of a restaurant, bar or one of our homes. 


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