Saturday, November 19, 2005

Pine Cones

On Friday evening a friend of Brett’s arrived from Austin for a few days. Another mutual friend (Dan) had arranged for us to meet up for dinner at a Soho restaurant and then to go to a few bars afterwards as Rich (the friend) was on the lookout for a new Brit boyfriend…

While Rich was pleasant enough, the evening was hard work. The restaurant (Busaba Eathai in Soho) was in the vein of Wagamama’s, but done a bit more pretentiously in dark wood and with incense in the air. You sit around closely-packed communal tables of ten with low-hanging lights; it’s also very noisy, so conversation across the table is virtually impossible. The food was decent though – although I inadvertently managed to eat a whole red chilli and suffered for a while – and cheap (£80 for five of us). It wasn’t a place to linger over coffee (which they didn’t serve anyway) so we headed on to a nearby bar.

I’m not a bar-fly and it’s a while since I’ve been out in Soho so I was caught off-guard by the wall of cigarette smoke that hit us as we entered. It’s something you just don’t get that often anymore! We stayed for one drink, which we had agreed should be the pattern to give Rich experience of lots of different venues, and then went on to The Yard (which is more ventilated.) We followed that up with a cocktail lounge (where we couldn’t get seats for all of us) after which Brett and I called it a night; it was too noisy and too crowded to really relax and catch up with Rich, plus I was sick of carting my work bag around with me and we were both fairly tired.

I must admit, I came away from the evening thinking how much I remind myself of my parents these days; please, nothing too noisy or smoky; I like to be able to have a conversation without having to shout. Don’t rush me to eat, I want to enjoy my meal…

Today has been more productive though. I did some maintenance on my bike this morning; removing an old dynamo-driven light that doesn’t work any more, fixing a squashed link in my chain that had been causing the pedals to jump under pressure, and getting a new rear tyre to replace the balding one I’ve been riding on since I bought the bike. The old tyre has had two punctures in the last six weeks, so I figured I needed both a thicker tyre and one with more tread as we head into the wetter seasons. Both tyres now have fairly expensive and good quality tyres on them – although being stronger tyres makes them a real struggle to get on the hubs…

This afternoon we went down into Wimbledon for an Out Coffee Posse. (Out is a gay social website that Brett and I are members of and the ‘Coffee Posses’ are basically like coffee mornings for members to meet each other.) This one was in Ely’s, Wimbledon’s department store. I’d never been in the coffee shop (Café Nero) before and was surprised to see it’s probably the best one in town; good views, lots of comfy upholstered chairs and not too crowded.

The event itself was a little stiff at times. Although I like the idea of chatting to new people without having to be in a pub/bar setting, I think the lack of alcohol at the coffee posses means that people aren’t as relaxed as they might be. Still, it wasn’t too awkward and John M turned up too about half an hour after we did, so there was at least one familiar face I could turn to when I ran out of conversational gambits with the others.

We stayed a little over an hour before making our excuses and going to look at suits for Brett.

Wandering around town, though, I was reminded how horribly close Christmas is, so this evening I’m drawing up Christmas Card lists and trying to write down gift ideas to give to my parents. Hmm.

We’re booked in to see the new Harry Potter movie at 9:30 though, so that should brighten the evening somewhat.

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