mardi 17 novembre 2009

Kennel Club

Some things are just too good not to post about, right?

Yesterday was as jet set as my life gets...I got up early, sped across to London on the Eurostar (they do such a nice breakfast in first class, I find) had a day of meetings before heading back.

As the train emerged from the tunnel and back into France, my telephone beeped with several messages. Le FP had been trying to contact me, and had ultimately caved in and left me a message. Suffice to say that he doesn't 'do' voicemail. He believes that other people are there to take messages for him, so why should he do so himself. God help me.

Anyway, the message went along the lines of...

"Hello mon amour, I forgot to tell you that we are invited to the Gala de la Truffe this me when you get my message...."

Great. I had no idea what the Gala de la Truffe was, or why my presence was necessary, but hey - what's Monday night without a gala to attend?

I get home and le FP is sat on the sofa waiting for me. He has a big dumb smile on his face and in his lap is something particularly spectacular. A beautiful French Bulldog. Gorgeous.

"What the.....?" said I. After the addition of two fish and two cats recently, a dog is a step too far, even for me.

"We've borrowed her for the Gala this evening"

Seems the Gala is at Lancel, the fancy bag manufacturer, at their flagship store on the Champs Elysées, and it's all about stars and their gods.

I get changed into something suitably 'fashion' and we head off.

We rock up at the store and there's a red carpet, paparazzi and a legion of uniformed bellboys, each with a little dog on a lead, welcoming us to the craziness.

Inside is even crazier - Dachshunds, Bulldogs, Pugs and Jack Russels. Chihuahuas, Poodles, Afghans and Dalmatians. Labradors, Beagles, King Charles' and Pomeranians. All sniffing each others perfectly groomed asses, apparently unfazed by their Dolce and Gabbana outfits and Gaultier leads.

The owners are equally well groomed, equally 'fashion'. The champagne is flowing, the free gifts are flying off the shelves and everyone is beautiful, having a lovely time, darling.

The highlight of the evening for me?

Was it watching the photographers from 'Studio Harcourt' at work, taking their timeless and celebrated black and white shots? Was it watching the dog masseuses carrying on their dubious trade? Was it seeing the bold and the beautiful with their puppies-de-luxe?

No. It was none of these.

It was watching a small pug take a huge crap next to a display of thousand-euro handbags, and then seeing a very tall, very blonde, very glamourous lady (no stranger to the surgeon's knife, this one) step in it, slip and squeal before landing flat on her ass.

Free Champagne? Excellent.

Watching pretty dogs? Fabulous.

Seeing the mighty fall? Priceless.

jeudi 12 novembre 2009

I'll be right back

Hey there lovely readers....

It's with a heavy heart that I say that I'm struggling to keep up with blogging at the moment.

Now, I'm not walking away and I'm certain there'll be another post up here within a week or so, but I just didn't want you to wonder what had happened to me.

The thing is, I just don't have two minutes to breathe at the moment - work is going to hell in a handbasket, homelife is the opposite and my social life is pulling me in another direction altogether.

I don't want to post crappy posts, just for the sake of posting, so for the time being, watch this space - I'll be back faster than you can say "what the feck happend to TBNIL?"


mardi 3 novembre 2009

Paris by night

Yesterday evening we picked up a rental scooter for a couple of days. I worry that I just said 'we' but hey, get over it. Anyway, it's a very cool, black Piaggio X9 (if that helps).

Leaving the house, le FP took the control and, with me riding the back seat (oh yeah, baby), we headed out into the Paris night.

We zoomed up to Bastille, rue Saint Antoine, Rue de Rivoli. We took our life into our hands at the Place de la Concorde and then there we were - three minutes after leaving the house, l'avenue des Champs Elysées.

Let me tell you that, even as jaded and blasé as I am, there are still moments in my life when Paris really gets me. Pulling onto the Champs, with the red tailights on one side of the road, the white headlights on the other, the Arc de Triomphe at the top and the cobbles underwheel, I felt like my life was perfect.

I put my hands in FP's pockets, stroked his tummy and thought to myself "does it get any better than this?"

FP had promised me a good old-fashioned sightseeing tour of Paris by night, so, at the Place de l'Etoile I was expecting that we'd hang a good left and head to Trocadero and then down to the Eiffel Tower. Alas, this wasn't what he had in mind.

Within five minutes, we're cruising the Bois de Boulogne - the rue des Branleurs (Wanker Street) to be precise. The truckers are all parked in a line, the lights on and curtains open indicating that they're looking for, erm, company. As we sailed past they looked out of their windows at us. Some winked.

We moved on to the Bois 'profond' where we came across the street of Brazilians Transvestite hookers, turning tricks amongst the bushes. There were all sorts there, including taxi-drivers, waiting for their customers to get their business over and done with.

The traditional hookers stand by the roadside, and as you approach they open up their coats to reveal alarmingly small underwear (barely) holding in place their alarmingly large breasts.

One of the girls looked like a librarian at a bus stop until she opened her mac to flash her dayglo peekaboo bra and pantie set.

Just as we were leaving the area, we happened upon a group sex 'event'. At least five men with their pants round their ankles, servicing each other and the couple of trannie hookers that were amongst them. Yikes.

Then, as if it had all been a dream, a glimpse of hell, it was all behind us. We re-crossed the boulevard periphérique and were in the 16th, the home of all that is French preppy BCBG-ness.

We whipped on home and rolled into bed.

"He was quite cute, that last trucker we saw," said le FP.

I had to agree. But hey.

Having sex with that's an period of my life that I don't need to re-visit.

lundi 2 novembre 2009

You're not one of us.

I've started to notice, working in the 'banlieues' as I do, that there is a difference between Parisiens and suburbanites.

The difference is generally in the clothes, the hair, the make-up. I take the train from Paris to the suburbs every morning and it's filled with smart, stylish Parisiens and Parisiennes - elegant, generally, in a very understated kind of way.

The platform when I arrive, however, is a different story altogether. The folks from the banlieues look like they are dressing 'as if' they are Parisien, but are overcompensating for it in some way or another - the hair is too extreme, the jacket is too fashionable, the boots too crazy. It all reminds of Melanie Griffith and Joan Cusack in Working Girl - with the immortal moment where Joan Cusack's character finds out how much the Manhattanite boss paid for a dress "but it's not even leather!" she screams....

Anyway, I left the 'burbs behind on Friday afternoon and headed back into Paris to join le FP for lunch at the fashion shoot he was working on. It was a world apart from my office and the area I work in. As I sat eating with the models (they ate tissues, mainly) I couldn't help but feel that this was all a bit on the ridiculous side, going from one extreme to the other so quickly.

This morning, inspired by all of this elegance, I got dressed and headed out to the office.

I felt very stylish in my work ensemble of jeans, black/white gingham shirt, black cashmere sweater, calf length boots and long black cashmere coat. I felt like I was looking good, like I belonged in this city where style is everything.

Until I got to the office.

I walked in the door and Debbie looked me up and down. I felt like Anne Hathaway in the Devil wears Prada, meeting Miranda Priestley for the first time.

"You may live in Paris," she said "but you are not FROM Paris".

"What's wrong today?" I asked, startled by her reaction.

"Hmm. It's the hair" she replied, "I think..."

vendredi 30 octobre 2009

Space invaders

Somedays I like to just come home, put my feet up, sit on the sofa with the boy and slowly fall asleep in front of a badly-dubbed episode of CSI.

I know, it's hardly rock and roll, but hey, even Joan Jett needed a rest from time to time, right?

Last night was one of those nights. I've been out every evening for 11 days now, and have a full weekend of visitors from the UK ahead of me. I'm struggling with my extended commute and thus my extended day, and I needed a rest.

When I got home, le FP was sat on the sofa with our lovely Dainty Friend - a truly beautiful, petite, gorgeous French girl who is an old friend of le FP. She's easygoing, funny and fun and the three of us ate bowls of pasta and then cuddled up in an ugly old pile of arms and legs to watch TV.

I was enjoying the love-in when the doorbell rang.

It was a crazy French-Canadienne friend, turning up to show us her latest purchases - a pair of rubber trousers and some Louboutin-esque red, sparkly heels. My evening immediately descended into chaos as she stripped off and threw on the rubber pants before giving us her best ANTM runway moves.

The champagne got opened and I figured my cosy evening was over.

The doorbell rang again.

It was the other le FP, le FP Light we'll call him. FPL had brought his boyfriend round to show us his broken hand - he'd fought off some muggers in the cité where they live two days ago and was visibly hurting.

So, amidst screams and whelps and cries of delight - this group hasn't been in the same room as each other for some time it would seem, and they had lots to catch up on - I headed off to the drinks cabinet. Well, it's actually a white leather trunk stocked to the hilt but I like to call it the drinks cabinet.

I opened the 12 year old Japanese whisky and retired, gracefully to my bedroom.

I popped open my freebie webbook (thanks Sony) and did a bit of surfing whilst sipping at the single malt.

Within minutes, I wasn't alone.

Le FP arrived and lay down on the bed next to me.

"Sorry" he said, looking sheepish.

We were in the middle of a tender moment when the door to the room opened to a chorus of screams and a round of camera flashes. Le FP got everyone out of the room eventually and, feeling like a party-pooper, I went and joined them in le salon.

As I got steadily more drunk, I relaxed and started to appreciate the company of these crazy people a bit more - either that, or I started to care less....

At 2am, they all headed off home - except for the one that had decided to stay overnight - and me and le FP went to bed.

I got up with my alarm at 6am this morning, leaving le FP in bed - he had at least two hours of sleep ahead of him before he needed to leave for work - a day's fashion shoot at a fancy design hotel. He didn't even wake up when I rolled him over to kiss him goodbye.

Now I desperately need a night off.

I need for no-one to turn up unexpectedly.

It's going to be Sunday evening. Lights out, no-one at home.

I'm hanging out the do not disturb sign.

Heaven help anyone who comes a-knocking...

jeudi 29 octobre 2009

She stoops to, erm, conquer?

Me and le FP had been out for dinner the other night with a friend who is back in town from L.A.

He's a photographer friend who, amongst other things, publishes 'arty' books of photo's of handsome men, scantily clad. He did the Dieux du Stade calendar once too - naturally I'm very jealous of this and wish I'd known him at the time - I might have worked my way onto the set for that one....

Anyway, we'd been for dinner at the Gai Moulin - a lovely restaurant but for the fact that the owner sings. He sets up his little electronic keyboard in the corner and belts out showtunes and home-grown material. It's not a little tragic, but always fun, always funny.

Dinner had been full of anecdotes of semi naked rugby players, shoots in Mauritius with boys from Sex and the City, and curiously, tales of Brazilian transexuals. Safe to say we laughed a lot and were sad to say goodbye at the end of the evening.

Le FP and I decided we'd walk home. We do this every night, but usually end up hailing a cab, but this particular evening we did indeed walk home.

We headed through the Marais, across place de la Bastille and down my street. We'd been playing the fool all the way home, giggling like schoolgirls and laughing at nonsense.

As we approached my block le FP suddenly stopped. He looked horrified.

He pointed.

And then I saw what he was pointing at.

Next to a tree was a 'lady' crouching down. Squatting.

It was evident that she was taking a shit.

And not just a small, rabbit-dropping-style one either. This girl was laying cable.

We started to laugh. We were far enough away for her not to hear us, but I'd be surprised if she didn't notice the two grown men, bent double with laughter, tears rolling down their cheeks.

When she'd finished her 'business', she just pulled up her trousers and walked off. No wiping, you'll note.

Me and le FP pulled ourselves together and headed home. To get home, however, we had to walk past the scene of the crime. It was horrific.

Goodness knows what she'd been eating. But by the looks of what she'd 'delivered' my best guess was that she'd made a lovely meal out of a length of rope.

Yet again, I felt lost for words.

Le FP looked at me and uttered the immortal line "Erm, oui, mais, erm...comme on dis....Welcome to Paris" and once again collapsed into a fit of giggles.

God help me. God help this country.

mardi 27 octobre 2009

Sous le ciel de Paris

"Sous le ciel de Paris s'envole une chanson
Elle est née d'aujourd'hui dans le coeur d'un garçon.
Sous le ciel de Paris marchent des amoureux
Leur bonheur se construit sur un air fait pour eux."

I love Paris, but you already know that.

This morning, on my hellish commute, I was thinking about how fabulous life in the city of lights is. Or, more specifically, how fabulous my life in the city of lights is.

Yes, it's expensive. Yes, it's polluted. Yes, it can be frustrating. But I love it.

I hate my commute, but every single evening the view from the C train as it crosses the Seine and heads to the Rive Gauche makes me happy. I look up from my book as the train leaves the station at Avenue Kennedy and the Seine opens up before me - the view is straight down the river and the Eiffel Tower fills the frame. My heart sings a little and I know that I'm almost home.

When I head out of an evening to meet friends in the Marais I always go on foot. 200 metres from the house and I'm at Bastille - the grande place with the striking Colonne de Juillet at the centre. The traffic is crazy, there are motards everywhere, the cafés are buzzing and the city is alive. Again, my heart sings a little and I thank my lucky stars.

Sunday morning and I slip out of bed. I throw on a pair of joggers and some kind of jumper and head to the boulangerie Bazin. I wait in line (there's always a line at the best bakers in town) and take in the sights and the smells. I buy my chouquettes, my pains au chocolat and a baguette. I head home, undress and slip into bed next to my boy. We sleep a while longer knowing that when we wake up the best breakfast ever is waiting for us.

I stand at the bar at my favourite nightspot - the Freedj - and I chat to my friends. We speak a mixture of English and French together, depending on who's in town. We laugh - boy do we laugh - we share our ridiculous weeks and we down a few drinks. We leave the bar and head off for cheap chinese food.

Crossing rue Beauborg, we pass the Centre Georges Pompidou - beautifully lit at night and causing controversy even when closed, even so many years after it was opened.

the Pompidou centre reminds me of myself in so many ways. It is so clearly not born of the city in which it has been planted. It has a style that is different to the local style. It expresses itself using a different language. But despite this, it has been welcomed into the hearts of Parisians....even if they didn't like it particularly at first.

I love Colette, Monoprix and Galeries Lafayette.

I love donning my sunglasses and strolling 'les Champs' on a crisp, sunny Sunday afternoon.

I love taking taxis (alarmingly inexpensive) and riding the last métro home. I love ordering a noisette and a tartine for breakfast, vite-fais. I love a Salade de Chêvre for lunch and a carafe of rosé. I love walking 'la Coulée Verte'.

I love Paris, but you know what? What it is that I love most of all?

I love being in love in Paris.

But I think that's a different post altogether.

mercredi 21 octobre 2009

Beats so big I'm steppin' on leprechauns

I'm determined to get my posting back on track but I don't want to post any old crap.

The two subjects I could easily post about are a) run-ins with the law, but that's over and done now and b) soppy, doe-eyed posts about le FP. Which, let's face it, no-one needs right now.

Luckily, my family are alive and crazy and provide never-ending blog fodder.

Take my Aunt for example. No, really, take her. As far away as possible. Ha ha.

She's the older sister to my Mother, and trust me when I say that Aunty definitely got the crazy gene. uh-huh. She got it.

Problem is, she drinks a lot and she's accident prone. Things that don't go together very well. Last time she visited me in Paris she ended up in hospital having dislocated her arm. She did this when she tripped in the middle of the road in front of the Eiffel Tower. When I asked why she wasn't watching where she was going she said simply that she hadn't seen anything quite so phallic in a long time and was just 'admiring its beauty'....

Equally, let's not forget that this is the same woman who - when pretending to be blind - fell down the stairs, having mistaken the door to the stairway for the door to her bedroom. That ended with a broken wrist.

At the moment, my Mother is living with this sister, my Aunt. Mom sold her house recently and has bought a new place, but it's being 'brought up to standard' as she likes to say to her friends. So while the works are being carried out, she's shacking up with her big sis.

The first day that they are room-mates, I get a call from my Mom.

"Your Aunt is in hospital", she said wearily. "She's broken some ribs"

"How on earth...." said I.

"She was stretching to trim her clematis when the rabbit she was standing on gave way. She fell backwards, hit her head on a tortoise and broke her ribs on a little girl with a puppy."

I kid ye not. This was my Mother's explanation of events.

"Did you explain this to the doctor?" I asked.

"Yes" she said. "He didn't seem impressed. But then I don't think they have garden ornaments in India, or wherever it is he's from."

You see, my Aunt's garden has for a long time been a health hazard.

On many occasions I've nearly twisted my ankle on a concrete frog, or bruised my shin on a donkey with baskets. It's like an awful, babes-in-the-wood-meets-tim-burton nightmare of a garden. Wherever you turn there are dull concrete eyes staring at you, lifeless, desperate to be turned back into their living, breathing forms.

"The thing that has upset her most" said my Mom, "is that she broke her 'I wuv you' when she fell".


"The little girl with the puppy. She's always called it her 'I wuv you' - that's what she thinks the little girl is saying to the puppy".

"Please stop"

"No, really, she fell on her 'I wuv you' and she broke the girls head off. She's planning to get it fixed though, once she's up and about again."

The next day, my Mom called me again.

My Aunt had returned home from hospital the day before and gone straight to bed feeling queasy and shakey.

The next morning she had woken up blind. Yes, blind. Couldn't see a thing. She couldn't open her eyes and when she did so manually she couldn't see anything.

"Doctor says it's the shock" said my Mother.

"Just tell her to stay out of the garden" I replied. "And away from the staircase".

mardi 20 octobre 2009

Choose your friends wisely

He walked into the flat and we held each other.

Each told the other that he loved him.

That moment lasted forever. I never wanted to let him go and, by the way he was holding me, it was evident that the feeling was mutual.

I looked down at the big manila envelope in his hand.

"What's that?" I noticed that it was marked with the logo of Hopitaux de Paris.

"It's some x-rays that I had taken at the hospital" he said.

While 'in custody' he'd had some kind of panic/anxiety attack that, at the time, looked like a heart attack. The police had taken him to hospital where he'd been hooked up to monitors, poked, prodded and x-rayed.

All this was happening, yet whenever I called the commissariat they didn't say a word. I can't believe that they would send him to hospital, that he appears to be dying and that they would contact nobody to let them know. Well, I can believe it - it's the police.

Anyway, turns out all was ok, and it was an anxiety attack. Goodness knows the situation was stressful enough to enduce one.

Having finally let go of each other, we lie down on the bed and he tells me what has happened.

Two girls that he knows - good friends with whom we've spent many a great evening - have, it seems, been running a scam on their banks. They've been using each others credit cards overseas and then claiming the cards to be stolen.

It's a good scam - after all, if I'm using my debit card in Paris, how can I also be using my credit card in Montréal at the same time? That's the line they used with the banks.

Seems the banks are wise to this though, and refused to refund the purchases. Faced with a huge bill, the girls implicated the person who had been - innocently - on one of the shopping trips with lovely FP. He'd paid for one of the girls to go to Montréal with him in the summer and this was how she was repaying him.

They told the police that he'd stolen their cards, that he'd been shopping with their credit and that he'd refused to repay them when they confronted him.

Luckily, much like the banks, the police aren't stupid. They see this kind of thing everyday.

As le FP was released, he'd seen the two girls being led into the commissariat. They've been charged and they're awaiting trial is all the police will tell us.

I hope that's the end of it for me and le FP. It certainly isn't the end for the two evil, nasty, hateful women behind the scam.

I look forward to hearing that they are behind bars, fined up to their eyeballs and left to live ruined lives with criminal records that haunt them forever. Really. I do.

Forgiveness isn't coming easy at the moment.

lundi 19 octobre 2009


I left the apartment and walked to the Commissariat de Police. Luckily the Commissariat du 12ème is just 100 metres down the street from my apartment. FP had been taken there in a police car and was well inside by the time I arrived.

I asked at the 'welcome' desk for information and the 'helpful' policelady told me to go home. I insisted and refused to leave until I'd spoken with one of the arresting officers.

In time, one came to see me. He took my name, my address, my proof of identity. Everything short of fingerprints. Nice to know that I'm officially on their system now, at least.

He said "let's discuss this outside" and walked me out to the street.

Once we were on the street outside the Commissariat he said "there's nothing I can tell you. We're keeping him here overnight, at least, and the only thing you can do is go home".

And that's what I did.

The first night that we'd spent apart in five weeks and he was in a police cell.

I barely slept. When they were at the house, the police had alluded to the fact that it was something to do with a credit card scam and so, left alone with my thoughts I started to panic. I checked all of my accounts online - nothing unusual - and immediately felt bad for doing so.

I woke up the next day, as usual, at six a.m. I immediately felt sick and ran to the bathroom to vomit.

I called the commissariat.

"How old is this person?" they asked. I told them.

"Well, he's an adult. We cannot give you any information".

I went to work feeling sick, feeling helpless and useless. Confused and uncertain.

I wanted to believe him innocent. I needed to know he was ok. I was worried, scared and totally disconnected with everything around me.

The morning was spent on auto-pilot. I sailed through an interview and then, feigning sickness, I went home.

Back at the house I called the Commissariat again. Telling them that they had held my 'husband' (I figured that might help me get some info) for nearly 18 hours, I demanded some information.

"He is here, he is feeling better and we can keep him for up to 48 hours". This was all they would tell me. The line 'he is feeling better' scared me.

I paced the house and called a couple of friends. Both helped me - by offering advice, by not judging and by distracting me with long phone calls.

At around nine pm I finally cracked. I was in the kitchen, thinking about cooking something. I stood in front of the fridge, looking at all of the good stuff he'd bought only the day before and I started to cry. I was verging on hysterical. It was awful. Never have I felt so helpless.

I didn't cook anything. I walked back to the lounge, curled up on the sofa and tried to sleep.

At ten pm the doorbell rang.

I opened the door and he was there. Le Fabulous Pairisien. Looking dishevelled, tired, drawn, exhausted.

He walked into the apartment and we literally fell into each others' arms.

"Je t'aime" he whispered into my ear. "Je t'aime, je t'aime, je t'aime".

"I love you too", I whispered back.

All charges had been dropped and he was a free man.

vendredi 16 octobre 2009

Arrested development

I'm sat with le FP watching TV on tuesday at midnight when there's a knock at the door.

This is at the front door of my apartment - so the person who is knocking has already got through the door on the street (with a code) and then through the interior door to the apartments (with a key).

Having experienced the stalker, I'm cautious these days and so I looked through the 'spyhole' before opening. I'm especially wary of anyone knocking at midnight.

To say I was unnerved is not an understatement.

Stood outside were two handsome guys, both holding badges in the air.

"Police National", the one said "open up please".

I opened the door and immediately asked to examine the badges. I asked for names of the officers - they wouldn't give them to me.

"You are Monsieur TBNIL*?" he asked me.

"Oui, c'est vrai" I replied.

At this point le FP appeared behind me in the doorway.

"You must be Monsieur le FP* then?" he asked le FP.

"Yes, I am" replied le FP, as visibly stunned as I by the whole thing.

"Will you come with us please." It was a command, not a question.

He looked stunned, shocked, amazed and like he was about to cry. Neither of us seemed to know what was going on. He got dressed and two minutes later, he was gone with the police officers.

He'd been arrested.

I stood in my hallway in shock.

What on earth had just happened?

*they used our real names, honest.

mercredi 14 octobre 2009

Sex and the City

In Barcelona, in a taxi to a nightclub.

"You're such a Carrie" I said to le FP. He was going on about the pair of Louboutin shoes he wants - to put on a shelf and admire from afar, such is their beauty.

"Yeah, well if I'm Carrie Bradshaw, then who are you?" he asked me.

"Honey, I'm most definitely Samantha" I said.

"Mon Cher", he said, turning towards me with a big silly grin on his face. "You're not Samantha".

"Well I'm not Miranda" I said, huffily.

"Chéri, if I am Carrie", he continued, "then you are my Mister Big".






mardi 13 octobre 2009

They call me Ellen, they call me Rosie, they call me KD, that's not my name.

So, it's all been a bit whirlwind-ish around TBNIL Towers recently.

I feel like I need to share.

Le Fabulous Parisien blew into my life 5 weeks ago. Since then, we've not spent a night apart. We've not spent an evening apart, not a weekend, not a day. Except when we're working of course. Even then we speak two or three times a day.

I'm starting to think that I may be a lesbian - you know, the whole 'moving in together immediately', 'talking about whether there's room in our lives for a couple of cats', 'shopping for scented candles together' thing.

When I found myself sat on the sofa with him last night in what can only be described as a 'scissor fuck' position, I decided enough was enough.

I turned off the TV (we were watching Arrested Development on DVD and appreciating Portia de Rossi - I kid ye not) and demanded we go do something butch, manly, macho.

We went for a cocktail. I know, it's not very butch, but I was reassured...if we truly had turned into lesbians then we'd have gone for a pint of guinness and an arm wrestle, so all's well on that front. I shan't be drinking from the hairy cup for the near future.

Anyway, me and FP. What's it all about?

Well, it's kind of weird.

He's been back from Montréal for a few months and has been sharing with a friend. His stuff is still all chez the friend (which leads to many huffy 'where's my shirt' moments) but he is chez moi.

Above all he desperately needs to find his own place. Neither living with me, nor sharing with his friend is ideal. He's looking but the Paris real estate market is difficult, to say the least. To get my apartment, the company had to pay a year's rent in advance - that was the only way to get straight to the top of the list.

That said, he has two viewings today so hopefully one of those will work out.

It's not that I don't love having him at my house - I truly do.

Because he doesn't work every day like me there are advantages to him being around...he cooks my dinner most evenings, the house is the cleanest and tidiest that it's ever been and there's always food in the fridge.

I love knowing that he'll be waiting on the sofa when I walk through the door. And I know that he'll always have something ridiculous, hilarious or stupid to tell me. Seeing his dopey face when I walk through the door makes my day.

But he still needs to move into his own place.

We both agree that if this is going to stand any chance of lasting, then we both need some space.

Having no time to myself leaves me exhausted, tired, overwraught and fatigued. I'm sure it's the same for him too.

I'm not a natural sharer. I could be, but I need time. Let's hope he gets his own place soon.

Meanwhile, I'll put up with his tidiness, his great cooking and his bedroom demands.

I mean really, it would be churlish not too...

mercredi 7 octobre 2009

What's it all about? (they scream and they shout)

So, firstly, I've not been blogging as much recently...there are a few reasons. It's not that I have nothing to say - quite the opposite in fact.

You know how life is split into three - worklife, lovelife and social life, but maybe not in that order? Well, the theory is that all three should be in harmony, in loving equilibrium with each other. When one of the three demands too much time, effort, energy, then the other two suffer.

My problem is that all three are demanding too much time, effort and energy at the moment. I'm exhausted. Literally, falling down tired, sleeping as soon as I sit down somewhere even remotely comfortable. I'm wiped out.

And the thing is, I'm not sure which one of these areas can give. Which one I can draw back from to try and sort this whole she-bang out.

Work is madness, but it's the season for that. This is always my busiest time of year and it's made worse by the fact that my campaign budget has doubled, thus the work has doubled and the new staff member I recruited started and then quit not 48 hours later.

I'm currently travelling almost every day, leaving early and getting back late. Crazy.

Social life - and I include blogging in this area - is as demanding as ever. I've always worked hard to maintain a good network of friends. Living in a foreign city, this is more important than ever. My friends - on and off line - are really important to me. Alas, with work, I'm finding it difficult to see them as much as I want. I'm struggling to get online and visit friend's blogs and I can't tell you the last time I was picking up the phone to chat the evening away.

None of this is made any easier by my current 'in love' status.

Yeah, you heard that right. In. Love.

Well, at least I think so, but maybe not. Aaargh! I don't even have the time to think this one through properly either.

I've been seeing le FP for four weeks now - and we haven't spent a night apart in that time. I appreciate that this is far from healthy, normal or sustainable. But when have I ever been any of those things when it comes to relationships.

The time I spend with him is fabulous, I love having him round the house and I really look forward to seeing him at the end of the day.

He's generous, kind, loving and sexy.

But that doesn't stop the sick feeling I get in the bottom of my stomach when I think about where this is heading.

Why can I only see this ending in heartbreak for me? Am I really that damaged? That screwed up? That insecure? Why can I not sit back and think that this guy is with me because he really likes me? - goodness knows, he tells me often enough.

Anyway, maybe I have good reason. He told me this morning that he thinks he has to return to Montréal some time in the next couple of weeks. He started with "I'll be gone for a week" and this mutated into "maybe I'll stay there until Christmas - but you can come over for weekends..."

I hate maybes. I hate having no time. I hate feeling insecure.

But most of all I hate sitting here in Calais waiting for a meeting to start with someone who doesn't have the decency to call and say he's going to be late .

Doesn't he realise? It's not like I have time to spare.

The mood I'm in, God help him when he does arrive.

jeudi 1 octobre 2009

If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it

Marrakech is one of those places where a rub and tug is almost obligatory. If you haven't been scrubbed and lathered and sweated and twisted in a hammam, then you haven't really been to Morocco.

This trip I visited two - the luxury Hammam at the fancy hotel (thanks Céline) and a 'public' hammam in the medina. Both were very different to each other. Although the routine is pretty much the same in both - sweat in the steam room, scrub down with black soap, lather up, rinse, rinse, rinse, massage, inappropriate touching, rinse, leave.

Yes, I did say inappropriate touching.

For those of you who are a little sensitive of nature, I suggest you stop reading now and wait until I post something a little less, erm, intimate.

Right, so you're all still with me, then?

In the luxury hammam at the hotel, all was going swimmingly. The gommage - black soap thing - was amazing, the lather and rinse was wonderful and revitalising. As I lay down to get massaged, I started to truly relax.

Now, let's just set the scene here. I've undergone all of the above procedure naked, and now I'm lying on my back, on a slab of hot marble, à poils, being rubbed down with oils by a handsome, nearly naked, hairy Moroccan.

His massage starts well. He pays attention to my trouble spots (shoulders, neck, lower back) and I'm starting to drift off. He then moves to my lower body.

He works his way up both legs, rubbing as he goes. He massages my inner thighs. It's unbelievably good.

He opens my legs as wide as they'll go and sits between them, one leg one each shoulder.

I sense trouble.

Before I know what has happened, my prostate is being massaged - from within - and I'm lay there with my eyes closed, a smile on my face and, yes, a big old erection. It all took me so by surprise that I didn't really have time to think about kittens, poor people or anything else that makes my ardour die off. I had no choice. I was flying the flag for England in this poor man's face.

I figured he'd seen it all before though, so just relaxed and hoped it'd fade away of its own volition.

Unfortunately, his choice of 'next place to massage' didn't help it die away. Well, it did finally subside - but not in a way that left me with any dignity or self respect.

As the masseur rinsed his hands (oversharing, I know - sorry) he told me that I should think about giving him a big tip. I thought that's what I'd just given him to be honest.

The public Hammam was a different experience, but again it all kicked off during the massage.

This time the masseur was a stocky, well-built Moroccan guy who could have played for the national rugby team had there ever been such a thing.

As he rubbed away at my lower back, he made sure to place my hand in such a way that I had 'something to play with' whilst he got on with his job. I never had toys like that as a boy, trust me. Gosh.

Again, he finished the job with a winning smile and took me off to the showers to rinse off the oil.

I took off my loincloth - for such is obligatory in the public hammam - and headed under the tepid stream of water.

So did he.

Yes, he joined me in the shower.

As he soaped me down, I'm afraid that my loins got the better of me again - but then, as luck would have it, so did his. And he had no problem with asking me to get him into a lather.

A big tip later, I left the public hammam unsure of what to do on the last day of the trip. We'd committed to a hammam a day and there was still sunday to go.

Le FP wanted to return to the public hammam. I wanted to go to the hotel spa again. We both went our separate ways with a promise to meet up back at the hotel.

And boy did we meet up at the hotel. After our hammam experiences, we both seemed to be in the mood for a spot of pre-flight delight. I'm sure I can stop the tale there....

lundi 28 septembre 2009

Dancing on the Céline

After a moment of craziness that I won't go into (but which left me with five minutes to pack...) the limousine arrived.

We bundled our sorry asses into the Merc and headed to le Bourget. Halfway there and the Fabulous Parisien's phone rings at exactly the same moment as the driver's does. The driver pulls off the autoroute and back on the other side - we're now heading south, not north.

"There's been a problem with the jet", said le FP. Apparently it was Ghislaine on the phone - sister of La Dion. "Robbie Williams has brought his vist to Paris forward a day and the jet has gone to Stansted to collect him".

"So, we're not going?" I said, stunned at the turn of events.

"No, Chéri, we're going. But we have to get to Orly in the next hour - Céline's people have got us business class tickets on the late flight tonight."

Well, it's no private jet, but hey, I'll cope with business class, right?

A 2 hour 45 minute flight later and we're in another limo heading to the hotel.

Marrakech is dark, warm and smells foreign. The roadside stalls selling grilled snacks are surrounded by people dressed like Obi Wan Kenobi. The world is in motion all around us. En route for the hotel we ask the driver to stop for a few minutes at the Djemaa el Fna - the great square that is the centre of the Marrakchi world.

Snake-charmers, story-tellers, water-sellers and fire-eaters are all around us. We hold hands and walk through the human soup. Every class is represented here - the Dior-clad Eurotrash and the street urchins, the Casablanca urbanites and the blue men from the desert, the rent-boys and the veiled ladies.

It's a long way from Paris. It most definitely isn't Kansas.

Back in the car for ten minutes and we arrive at the hotel. I say hotel, I mean palace.

The large wooden doors open to reveal an amazing, surreal, beautiful palace, straight from the 1001 Nights. A palace with all mod-cons, naturally.

We are taken to our room - a traditional 'caravanserai' style tent in the gardens - complete with our own private terrace and a bathroom to die for. The host lets us into the tent and it's like entering a dream.

The log fire is lit, the champagne is on ice. The room is twice the size of my apartment and is lined in beautiful moroccan silk, with furnishings in chocolate leather and dark wood. Too beautiful.

An hour later and I'm curled up on the immense sofa, in front of the log fire with le FP. We have champagne and from under our fur blanket (I kid ye not) we're watching a movie on the enormous television.

Le FP turns to me.

"I never want to leave," he said. "This is as happy as I've been in ages."

What could I say? How to answer?

I leaned in and kissed him. It was the best answer I could find.

vendredi 25 septembre 2009

Near, far, wherever you are

Salaam alaikum. Greetings from Marrakech.

"Marra-fucking-kech?" I hear you cry. Well, me too. That was my reaction.

It was Wednesday when I got a call from le Fabulous Parisien.

"Can you get friday off work?" he asked.

"Well, I can always work from home the morning....what do you have in mind?"

"A friend wants to give me a weekend away for my birthday - can you come with me?" he said, mysteriously.

"Sure - but why isn't the friend coming with you instead?"

"She's busy. Very busy. I'll make the arrangements and call you back".

And call me back he did.

"The jet will be waiting for us at le Bourget on Thursday evening. A limo is coming to get us at 7pm. Is that ok?" He presented all of this in a very matter of fact way. "We're going to Marrakech, by the way".

"Hold on!" said I. "Whose is the effing jet? Who is this friend?"

"It's Céline's"

"You're taking me to Marrakech in Céline Dion's Jet?" I said, astounded.

"Oh yeah baby," he replied. "But you don't know the half of it..."

mardi 22 septembre 2009

See you later, boy.

Yes, he was a skater boy. Yes, I said "see you later boy". He wasn't good enough for me. Or whatever it is the song lyrics say.

The awkward moment of the weekend really does go to Skater Boy and his arrival chez TBNIL on friday evening with his overnight bag.

See, everybody there knew that it was le Fabulous Parisien who was staying over. Everybody except Skater Boy, it seems. I mean really, I don't know why he didn't work that out for himself. It's not like I hadn't hinted and suggested that that would be the case - several times.

Does a boy need to be clear, honest and open these days or what? Since when was a heavy hint not enough?

Yeah ok, it's my fault. I'm guilty as charged - guilty of not telling him that his invitation was in the capacity of friend only. But I had said to him to bring some of our mutual friends along because "I don't want you to have nobody to talk to". It's not my fault he arrived alone.

Lord help me. I'm now officially ruining peoples' lives. Well, that's how it felt when I saw his little face, clearly unsure of the situation that he had walked into.

Anyway, he soon recovered and threw himself into the spirit of things. He chatted to me, to my other friends. He danced and he had a laugh with the rest of us.

Malheureusement, he was also drinking. And the more he drank, it seemed the hornier he became. The more, erm, demanding of my attention he became.

As he bumped and grinded in front of me, busting his best moves and using me as his pole for a bit of a pole dance, it became obvious that this was his mating dance. I stepped back. He followed. I stepped aside. He followed. I squirmed. He upped his ante.

By now, his arms were flailing, he was doing that bollywood neck thing and he was giving me the old Shakira hip shake. Really, it was intense, embarassing and without an end in sight.

Such was my shame, that there was only one thing for it. I walked away and went to the bathroom.

He followed me. Of course.

I got out of there quickly and went outside. Got me some air.

After ten minutes breathing time, I went back in.

"I've been looking for you" he said, as soon as I hit the area where my friends were.

"Sure. Of course" I said, unforgivingly.

"I just wanted to let you know that I'm heading home. I'll collect my things from your house sometime in the week."

And with that, he was gone. He looked more drunk than upset; yet more upset than happy.

I felt pretty bad about the whole thing. But then I thought about it.

I'd never said "you're not sleeping at mine", but equally I'd never said that he was either. I've always been clear with him that we're not heading for a relationship. And he has a boyfriend already anyway. I'm kind of feeling that a guy who has a boyfriend can't really give me a hard time for not wanting to sleep with him.

But equally, I know that I acted badly and it could all have been prevented.

You live and learn, right?

Well, you'd think that I would, wouldn't you. It seems that I don't.

lundi 21 septembre 2009

Let's paint the town and shut it down

I'm in a taxi heading home at four thirty on Saturday morning, and I'm happy. It's been a funny night. It's been a ridiculous night.

It all started well with drinks chez TBNIL - there were cocktails, canapés and gifts that included a cabbage and a rubber duck (best you don't ask about either, really).

When it came time to leave the house, we headed for the Marais and for the fabulousness that is Gay Paris. We worked our way around a couple of bars - and it was at the second bar that we lost le Fabulous Parisien.

Apparently, he had met up with a couple of old friends and stayed out with them all night. I don't know if this is true or not, but I'm not really too worried - the fact that he showed up the next morning with a dozen croissants, a sheepish look and a determination to keep me in the bedroom kind of told me that there was another story somewhere....

After losing le FP, we headed for a big old dance at the Tango - the ropiest club in Paris which plays the best music. It's actually great fun there - with music ranging from the Gossip to Cyndi Lauper; from Madonna to Dalida and French pop from Yelle to Claude François. We danced and danced. And then we danced some more.

At one point, my Lovely Irish Bookish Friend found his way up to the stage at the front of the dancefloor. Accompanied by his Certain Someone they showed Paris how it's done in Waterford. And boy did they. It was all going swimmingly until Certain Someone realised he'd been shaking his booty with his flies undone. Pure class. Especially when a young French hottie pointed this out...

The Fierce People were also with us - and the American half was very very drunk. God bless him, he was like a sex-crazed chihuahua, humping everyone's legs and generally driving people crazy. Very funny, and good fun - if you like an undersized American gyrating himself up and down your extremities. Personally, I don't.

And Skater Boy was there too. But that's a whole other post. I'll just say 'tears before bedtime' for now. I do like to keep you in suspense.

After the Tango, after we'd danced ourselves damp and silly, we decided that enough wasn't enough.

At three thirty Saturday morning we headed to the Dépôt. The nasty, dirty, yukky, sexy, filthy Dépôt. I've posted about this place and its labyrinthine sex-club basement before. Needless to say, it was a fitting end to a funny night.

It was with our boundaries pushed and our horizons further widened that we left Sodom and Gomorrah behind and headed home.

Leaving the club, none of dared look back at what we'd left behind. After all, let's not forget what happened to Lot's wife.

At that time of day, and with the debauchery that we had just left behind, the likelihood of somebody turning into a pillar of salt seemed only too real...

jeudi 17 septembre 2009

How to make a birthday last two months

So, this weekend is the final party in the TBNIL 40th birthday party season.

The first was the friends and family affair, back in the UK. That's the one that saw me wearing pink rabbit ears and a 'Birthday Princess' badge, dancing at a gay club with my bosses and generally being a very hot and messy hot mess. Hilarious. At the time, it was, anyway.

The second was the family only party, laid on by my lovely Mother. This was at her house and involved the TBNIL UK family sitting round, eating lovely food and telling tales that became more and more ridiculous, disgraceful, hilarious as the wine disappeared.

Both were great fun.

This weekend is the big party with the friends who couldn't make it over to the UK. Friends from Paris, from Holland and from Ireland. Friends for whom a weekend of festivites in Paris seemed like a better offer than an evening in Birmingham. Yes, these are the wise ones, ha ha.

Firstly, I need to sort out the sleeping arrangements. All was going well until I realised that I wouldn't be sleeping alone - yep, le FP is going to be around this weekend too, so he needs adding in to the 'where to sleep' question. Debbie, god bless her, is taking me off at lunchtime to buy a self-inflating double mattress. Greater love hath no assistante, he he.

See how I just casually slipped in that mention of le Fabulous Parisien?

Anyway, we'll be starting tonight with the first arrivals - my Lovely Irish Dutch Friend and his beau - but we'll be trying to avoid having too big a night out because tomorrow, my Lovely Irish Bookish Friend and his Certain Someone arrive and we've promised them that we won't be hungover.

Yeah, right.

As you'd expect, the weekend promises fabulous cocktails and lots of beers. Drinks at the 'local' followed by an almost obligatory visit to the bar where the boys dance in the showers - IBF loves to get his hands on the dancers. Even if it's not strictly allowed. At least he never got thrown out of there...unlike me.

As well as fabulous cocktails, or maybe because of them, I'm sure there'll be plenty of laughs and much blog fodder.

Any of you who are in Paris over the next few days are welcome to join us - just drop me a line for details ;-)

The rest of you? Well, have a great weekend - and be sure to watch out for updates from the birthday weekend mayhem....

mardi 15 septembre 2009

All I want is a room somewhere...

I'm sleepy. Falling asleep at my desk.

I fell asleep on the RER this morning, waking just in time to not miss my stop.

At lunch, I could feel myself heading down into the pizza, face first.

I'm exhausted.

Thing is, I had Florida Boy over for ten days - which meant ten days of running all over Europe, with late nights and early starts. Then, the day he left I ended up with le Fabulous Parisien on an overnight visit.

I left le FP behind and flew to the UK for a weekend of moving house - heavy stuff - late nights with my cousin and breakfast chats with my Mother. Exhausting.

I got back late sunday night - nearly midnight - then was up again for work at 6am monday. Monday evening saw le FP come round - not an early night - and he's back again tonight.

Tomorrow I have a long-standing date with a really lovely guy who's back in town having recently moved to Switzerland. That's gonna be a late one too, I'm sure.

Thursday, My Lovely Irish Dutch Friend arrives with his beau in tow and the party weekend begins.

I'm not sure when I get to sleep, when I get to re-charge my batteries.

I just know that I'm already exhausted and it's going to get worse before it gets better. And I absolutely refuse to have my Final Fortieth Birthday Party Weekend (yes, I know my actual birthday was back in July) ruined by my being too tired to enjoy myself.

What's a boy to do?

I have the feeling that I'll be working from home one day this week....

lundi 14 septembre 2009

One of these things is not like the other one

I flew to the UK on friday evening to spend two days with my Mom, helping her finish off the packing.

She's moving house today and so I went on a last-minute mercy mission to help her go through the 30 years of accumulated junk, mayhem and memories. You can imagine how it went.

As always when clearing a house we found a cache of old photo's.

I looked at a photo of my Dad and his sister and something wasn't right.

"My aunt looks like she's got some black blood in her" I said to my Mom. Really, this girl looks nothing like the rest of the family in the photographs.

"Yeah, she was always dark skinned. And she never did look like your grandfather".

And so, we carried on working our way through the photo's.

"Who's this in the photograph with Nan and Granddad?" I asked. The photograph showed my Nan aged about 21, looking very elegant - beautiful, even. And she was with my Granddad, who was equally dashing. They were with a very handsome gentleman, and someone had written on the picture 'the boozers'.

"That's Mr. Frank. We always heard tales of him as Mr. Frank," said Mom. Seems he was a close family friend when my grandparents were kids, when they had just started dating. And it seems he was a permanent fixture in their lives until my Aunt was born.

Now, looking at the photograph and those that were in the same wallet, two things were crystal clear.

Firstly, Mr. Frank and my Nan were very close friends. There was no questioning the body language in some of those shots.

Secondly, Mr. Frank was a very handsome, very dashing, well-dressed, well-built gentleman of colour.

"Do you think...." I started.

"No" said my Mom. "No. It's not possible. Although. Oh. Oh! Do you think?"

She looked like someone had opened her eyes for the first time.

She stood up and started to giggle. "Oh my. Oh my oh my."

We laughed and laughed.

My Nan had made my Mom's life hell for a long time - nothing was ever good enough for her, and my Mother was certainly not good enough to marry her blessed son. She'd run the family like a power-crazed despot, whose only rule of law was that she was always right. She spun tales about her sisters, about her neighbours and was always there, ready to judge, ready to point out someone else's failings - especially my Mom's.

My Nan had been such a moral crusader, judgemental about the slightest thing, yet it seemed highly possible that her daughter was not her husband's offspring.

It's a shame that there's no-one around on that side of the family anymore. It's a secret that has truly gone to the grave.

If only we could get Jerry to give us a DNA test.

Alas, we're left to draw our own conclusions...and boy are we enjoying that.

vendredi 11 septembre 2009

C'est SO Paris, baby

"I know we said we'd do next wednesday," said le Fabulous Parisien, "but how about tonight? I've been invited to a party. You want to join me?"

"Sure," said I. "That'd be great".

"OK, well I'll call you later to arrange where we'll meet" he said. "Oh, by the way, it's the party for Vogue - you know, the magazine?"

And at that point I started to panic. What's a boy to wear to a party being thrown by Vogue in the fashion capital of the world? Damn. Why did I agree without finding out more?

Later that evening, dressed in a black shirt (open three buttons), black velvet jacket, dark jeans and the yellow sneakers, I found myself on the fabulous Avenue Montaigne in the company of the bold and the beautiful of Paris. I was only slightly uncomfortable. The champagne soon took care of that.

We started at the Diane von Furstenburg party, at her Paris flagship store. The champagne was cold, the DJ's were hot and the queens were screaming. The place was full of people considerably richer and skinnier than both me and my date, but I like to think we pulled it off.

From Diane, we went to the private parties being held at Dolce and Gabbana (fabulous Martini cocktails), at Nina Ricci (champagne), at Dior (champagne), Versace (champagne and nibbly bits) and Ferragamo (champagne).

It was chez Chanel (champagne) where we ended up in the company of true Paris royalty - none other than the fashion god himself, Monsieur (Herr?) Karl Lagerfeld. Looking fabulous in his trademark sunglasses and black and white, hair tied back in true fabulous style, Karl was werqing that joint.

At one point, a classy looking lady approached him.

"Karl darling, can I take your photograph" she asked, with obvious trepidation.

"Madame", he replied in his German-accented French, "You may do exactly what you wish with your 'camera-thing'. I, however, will do absolutely nothing."

It was all I could do not to clap like an idiot.

From Chanel we headed off to the Plaza Athenée for the real party. Guests were ferried from the other parties in a fleet of Vogue logo-encrusted soft-top Mini's. Others arrived in long black cars and short black dresses.

By the end of the evening, the cocktails and fabulousness had started to take their toll. I was tired and needed to get home.

I jumped a cab with le FP and we headed back to the 12th arrondissement - to my hood, to where real people live, back to planet earth.

As we lay there, dropping off to sleep, he turned to me.

"Have you ever had a more 'Paris' evening in your life?" he said.

What could I say. I'd had the kind of evening that the Sex and the City girls would kill for. It had been ridiculous, fabulous and outrageous. I'd air-kissed more people in one evening than I'd done all month (and let's not forget that I'm gay, therefore I air-kiss a LOT). I'd seen the shoes that I'd sell my mother for (at Zadig and Voltaire, curiously enough - a pair of pewter leather ankle boots) and I'd had enough free champagne to refloat the Titanic.

And on top of all that, I'd had great company in the form of le FP*.

How could I not have had a great time?

*I'm seeing him again on Monday, btw, just in case you're interested...

mercredi 9 septembre 2009

Death in the darkroom

As a concept, the darkroom is a very, VERY gay thing. I'm guessing it only exists in a very specialised type of straight club, way removed from the mainstream.

In the gay world, at least over here in sunny Europe, the darkroom is pretty much a bar/club staple.

For the uninitiated, a dark room is pretty much what you'd expect - a room with no lights or windows - thus dark - where you go to get felt up anonymously, by strangers whose faces you can't see. Or it's the place that you take the hot guy you just met in the bar, before you take him home (or instead of).

Anyway, this all makes it sound very seedy, which, of course, it is.

Paris bars do have their fair share of darkrooms, and it has to be said they are usually full of American tourists who are appreciating this 'European' novelty.

When Florida Boy and me were faced with a dark room at a bar in Rome last weekend we decided we'd give it a whirl. Neither of us was looking for 'action' but we figured it'd be kind of fun to go in there can imagine.

Anyway, whilst in there there's a bit of a commotion and I feel something come whizzing past my leg.

There's a massive bang, like someone has dropped a massive bag of potatoes on the floor.

Someone screams and the mobile phones are pulled out so that the screens can shed some light on the situation.

"è Morto!" someone screams.

I look down and there on the floor, face down, arms at his sides, is a silver-haired guy. To all appearances he is, indeed, dead. Very dead.

More screaming (what is it with the screaming boys? Come on lads, let's butch up a bit) and the darkroom empties.

The barman runs into the room with a first aid kit and within a couple of minutes the silver-haired guy is being helped to the toilets. Seems he's not dead.

He has blood all over his face - from where he hit the floor, I'm guessing - and he's visibly shaken.

Me and FB get a couple of drinks and down them fast. We try not to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation and order some more beers.

As we prepare to leave 30 minutes later, I notice a guy stood against the wall of the bar.

"Isn't that him?" I say.

And, true enough, it is the passing out guy, stood with a bloody handkerchief in one hand and clutching his groin 'provocatively' with the other. Obviously he's not going to let a little blackout come between him and a good time.

As we walk home past the colisseum, I can't help but wondering if such things happened in ancient Rome. I'm fairly certain they did.

At least, I hope so.

Those Gladiators had to do something with their evenings, right?

mardi 8 septembre 2009

My friend and me

So, I just got back to Paris. I left Florida Boy in bed at an ungodly hour and came to work. And this is where I'm sat, at my desk, au bureau. Joy, eh?

Well, I do have reason to be happy. The whole Florida Boy thing is sorted. Sorted in my mind. Sorted in my heart. Sorted between us.

This trip was always going to be about getting to know each other better. Deciding if we really like each other and seeing if there's anything of a future for us.

This trip was about falling in love, or not falling in love.

It was about saying 'this is who I am, this is what I want' to each other.

He lives on the other side of the world to me. Physically, emotionally and mentally, we do not live in the same place.

What I need isn't him.

He is a great guy, a wonderful friend, a truly fantastic Florida Boy. But he's not the man of my dreams.

If he lived in Paris, then maybe we'd stay together for a while until our differences got the better of us. We'd fall in and out of love until we didn't like each other that much anymore. And that would be sad, and a shame.

So, we talked.

I told him how I didn't want to commit to anything more than friendship, but that he has friendship from me in spades, forever.

Transatlantic love affairs need a whole load of energy, emotion, time and commitment. We both agreed that if it's going to be a long distance relationship then it has to be with the person that you really want to spend the rest of your days with.

And neither of us is that person to the other one.

Am I sad that it didn't turn out to be true love? Do I regret that there are no bells ringing, heartstrings twanging, cherubs singing? Do I wish that he had been the love of my life?

Sure. Of course. Without a doubt.

Am I thrilled to have a great new friend in my life? One that I will share great times with over the coming years?

Absolutely, yes.....especially when that friend comes with privileges, ha ha.

vendredi 4 septembre 2009

dimanche 30 août 2009

Tomorrow, tomorrow.....

The sun'll come out, tomorrow, apparently.

Whether it does or not, it kind of doesn't matter.  A little bit of Florida sunshine is currently winging it's way to Atlanta to connect with his plane to Paris and then straight to yours truly....yes folks, Florida Boy will be here in the morning.  





Fucking hell.

Everybody shout panic!

jeudi 27 août 2009

Why I don't *heart* falling in love

You know the feeling.

You meet someone that you really like, you swap numbers and you wait for them to call.

You get excited when the phone rings - ecstatic when it's them, woeful when it's not.

Your life becomes a rollercoaster as you swing from date to date, wondering where this is going, whether this is the one.

I hate that shit.

All of it.

I hate the lack of control, the inability to judge where I stand, the feeling of vulnerability.

I hate the other person for having such an effect on my emotions.

I resent how the whole process takes me - completely involuntarily - out of my comfort zone.

My body betrays me, my mind drives me to distraction and I am no longer myself.

The guy sends me flowers and I turn into a giggling wench.

He doesn't return my call and I'm Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.

He returns it too soon and I turn into the queen of keeping-my-distance.

My life turns upside down at the drop of a hat and I detest it.

I hate how being in love makes me feel, but most of all I hate it for being missing from my life.

Florida Boy arrives in four days time.

Can you tell?

mardi 25 août 2009

Do you take this man....?

The thing with weddings is that everyone is looking pretty good and, usually, any singletons in the camp are looking for a bit of a wedding hook-up. Well, this is how I see it, anyway.

Alas, for the gayers amongst us, there's often very little chance of such wedding night bliss, unless you're willing to go for one of the cater-waiters or the guy who delivered the flowers. Occasionally there'll be another random 'mo in the room, but he's never what you'd hoped for.

And this wedding was no exception. Zero potential action for yours truly.

Well, that's a lie. There was a long lost cousin who had 'never had a girlfriend' but was yet to confirm which bus he was on. Having met him, I think he didn't need to confirm anything - he just needed his family to open their eyes a little. But hey, as gay as he was, he was no looker - not someone to make one's heart flutter. Not even a little.

There was also a very nice man in charge of the waiting staff - earlier in the day he said he'd 'show me his catering equipment' if I stuck around late enough (no lie, those were his words). Alas, I didn't see him at the end of the night - maybe he'd already left with Cousin It.

But just as I thought that all was without hope, lady luck shone her torch brightly in my face and woke me up again.

You see, one of the other guests was a guy that has always made me laugh. We've gotten on well the few times that we've seen each other - and although he's never said anything about being gay, I've definitely never seen him with a girl.

During the day, as the photo's and garden chitchat went on, he came to find me to gossip. I thought he was just bored, being on his own and without plus-one, just like me. When we sat together for dinner, he spent the meal giving me his full attention and even laughed at my crappy jokes.

When we went on the mini-train tour of the wedding venue (yes, it was big) he made sure that he sat next to me.

We drank buckets of champagne together during the evening, avoiding the dancefloor as much as possible. And then, as the night drew to an end, he came over to chat to me. He put his hand on my shoulder and leaned in.

"Great day eh?" he said.

"Yeah, really good" said I.

"I've really enjoyed myself, " he said and winked at me.

"Me too," I said. "It's been fun."

Then he grabbed my ass, kissed my cheek.

"I'll be coming to see you in Paris soon..." He said - and then he skipped off to get on the bus back to his hotel.

I know, it's not a lot to get excited about.

But hey, it made my day.

lundi 24 août 2009

The most dangerous wedding guest ever?

Saturday saw the wedding of the year - with me as 'Best Man'. Can you imagine anyone less well equipped for the role? Me either.

Anyway, it all went pretty smoothly - despite the major panic that seemed to set in for the bridegroom as the event approached.

At the dinner table I was seated next to the groom's father - a lovely old Ulsterman with a questionable past. He was explaining to me - at length - about how he had been a 'bad lad' when he was growing up.

"You know I had to leave Belfast when I was 14?" he told me. "I'd held up a local factory with a shotgun and stolen their wagepackets, so it was time to leave."

"Gosh," said I. "That's, erm, great"

He then alluded to having something to do with the Birmingham pub bombings - which I presume was a drunken 'boast' - but by this point the musical 'entertainer' had arrived. As the music guy got into his set the Groom's father turned to me again...

"This guy is terrible" he said.

I agreed.

"Someone needs to shoot him" he continued, in his thick Ulster brogue.

I've never felt so sorry for a wedding singer.

I hope he made it home without being jumped by men in balaclavas.....

vendredi 21 août 2009

Miss Snippy

I've been in the Uk for two days now and yet again I find myself being 'told off' by my boss.

Thing is, she's been reading some management twaddle about effective communication and, it seems, I'm not up to scratch.

Apparently, I am:

- snippy
- sarcastic
- insensitive

and I make people feel uncomfortable with my over-use of innuendo.

Well, to be honest, she does have a point. I can't argue with much of that.

Apparently, instead of the above, I'm supposed to be:

- collaborative
- supportive
- empathic

Equally, I think she does have a point - all of these are good things to be. As we discussed this, I pulled out a few examples of her behaviour to illustrate her points.

Example 1

The time she said "Well, I wouldn't want him to think you're a queer" when explaining why she'd told a customer that I still hadn't found the right girl.

Example 2

The time she left an advert for diet pills on my desk with a note saying "saw this and thought of you".

Example 3

How she'd said to me, this very morning, that my fitness regime seemed to have been overtaken by an "eating regime".

Example 4

The occasion where she'd seen fit to remark on how I looked young, but how "it's so diffcult to tell how old a fat person is, their skin is pulled so tightly".

You can imagine, that after we'd had our 'chat' she was looking desperately for an olive branch and regretting having started the whole conversation in the first place.

I know I'm not an ideal employee. I'm rude, obnoxious and sarcastic. I'm garish, loud and I talk dirty. But equally, I'm thoughtful, friendly and welcoming - and I'll go out of my way to include people and make them feel at home.

Now, I don't want to get all religious on her ass, but hey, sometimes the good book speaks sense...

"Yo Hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye..."

I added the 'yo' myself to make it a bit more ghetto.

You get my point.

jeudi 20 août 2009

Yes, I'm the best man for the job

Thursday, and the nerves have started to kick in. Well, not the nerves so much as the despair. And the anger. And the pissy-ness. And the general feeling of 'why me?'.

I'm the best man at a friend's wedding on Saturday and I'd be underselling the situation if I said I was not happy.

Firstly, I'm not sure how I got the gig in the first place - this is a friend that I see once a year (if I really work hard to coordinate our diaries), that I didn't speak to for ten years (a falling out that involved broken noses, smashed teeth and a bottle or three), and who has an ex-wife and two fairly old kids that I have never met.

Secondly, the cost of the whole thing is now starting to annoy me. Here goes:

€500 - travel to Amsterdam, accommodation and spends for Stag Weekend
€400 - new suit for wedding
€250 - accommodation for the night of the wedding, renting a car to get to wedding, etc
€180 - shirt and shoes for wedding
€150 - wedding gift

So, it's cost me well over €1,000 euros to go to this wedding and be the Best Man. In what world is that right?

And to make matters worse, they had the cheek to say "don't buy us a wedding gift, we're asking people to make a cash donation to the honeymoon". If you can't afford your honeymoon, sweetheart, don't go on one....or so I'd suggest.

The final nail in the coffin happened yesterday evening.

My Crackberry pinged to tell me an email had arrived...

"Hi everyone, the friday night pre-wedding dinner has been booked and we're really looking forward to seeing you all there" it said.

"The restaurant is lovely, the food isgreat and I'm sure we'll all have a great time - see the menu attached".

I clicked on the link.

Starters - £18 to £24
Main courses - £30 to £40
Desserts - £15 to £20

I closed the link and sat there stunned. On top of everything else, I have to spend a hundred quid on dinner the night before the wedding?

How do I get out of this one?


I guess I should have said no when I had a chance, right?

lundi 17 août 2009

Les liaisons dangereuses

Last week, I was in the bar with the Fierce People having a lovely beer or three.  The aircon was cranked up, as was the music (Vanessa Paradis, if you will) and the French half of the Fierce People was off to the toilet.

"Hey, I have something to tell you," whispered the American half of the FP combo, conspiratorially.

"Do tell..." said I, intrigued.

"Well, you know how we had our German friend staying over the weekend?" he said.  "Well, while the husband was out at work on Monday, I had a little indiscretion".  

He smiled at me with a very large twinkle in his eye.

"You mean that you and Herman the German did the dirty?" I asked.

He nodded, winked and smiled.  

"I take it husband doesn't know about this?"

He nodded again.  I gave him a good old gay high five and we giggled like schoolgirls.  Husband soon joined us, fresh from the bathroom and we dropped that subject and started to chat about other things that have been happening in our uneventful and quiet lives.

A couple of friends came and joined us, told us about how their cocktail party had been curtailed by one of the female guests dropping her cumbersome breasts into a bowl of crème anglaise that was destined for the mille feuilles.

They left and were replaced by a lovely boy with whom I had a thing a while ago.  He pushes the snack trolley on the TGV to Marseille and so was, naturally, never real boyfriend material.

When he left us, so the American half of the FP headed off for a cigarette on the bar terrace.

"I have something to tell you," said the French boy.  "But you must promise to keep it as our secret..."

"Okaaaaay....."  I said.

"Well, while my Hubbie was out walking the dog on Sunday, I let our German friend do terrible things to me."  He said this with one eyebrow raised and a very large smirk.

"Wow" said I.  "You are a disgrace"

And, with that, we too high-fived and giggled like schoolgirls.

"What's to laugh about?" said the American returning from his cigarette.

"Oh, nothing really" said I.  "I'm just so glad I met you two.  You make me feel so less cheap than I normally would."

They exchanged confused glances and I headed off to buy drinks.

See.  It's not just me.

Everybody's doing it.

Must be the summer.

dimanche 16 août 2009

Sticky fingers

I'm stood in the Marais.  I have a beer waiting for me at a table, but it's getting warm while I speak on the phone to Florida Boy.  God bless him, he's trying to pretend that our conversation last week never happened.  Full marks for effort.

As I stand there next to the café, a woman and her daughter approach me.

The mother is around 70 years of age, a big lady but well dressed.  The daughter - around 35 years old.  She's wearing a lovely white dress with a purple floral print.  She has a purple short cardigan and the most amazing lilac silk platform pumps on her feet.

The pair of them are accompanied by a standard poodle.  White/blonde, the poodle is an elegant dog.  Not clipped or trimmed, but au naturel.  Nonetheless very elegant.

As they get close to me, the dog drops to its haunches and takes a dump.

I appreciate that this has to happen so, in itself, the act of the dog shitting doesn't really offend me.

However what happened after DID offend me.

The daughter bent down and picked up the dog shit.  She picked up all four/five pieces and took them over to, and dropped them into the nearest bin.

She did this totally bare-handed.  I mean really.  No glove, no bag, no nothing.

She then took out of her pocket a tissue.  She wiped the shit off her fingers onto the tissue and returned it to her pocket.

The mother turned to her.  She was clearly as amazed by this behaviour as the rest of the people in the street.

"You may have had a good education," she said in French to her daughter, " but you are a fucking idiot".

And with that, the daughter slapped her (with her shitty fingers) and walked off.

The dog, torn between the two of them, didn't know which way to go.

As the mother stood there crying, I ended my phone call and returned to my beer.

Really, some things you just couldn't make up.  

Nasty, nasty, nasty.

jeudi 13 août 2009

If I knew where I stood, I'd be standing there

So, Wednesday.

It was never going to be a good day.  I had to travel to and from UK head office in the same day, in order to be back here for a meeting the next day.  Before I went to bed on Tuesday night I knew that Wednesday would start early and finish late.

Unfortunately, it started late as I hit the snooze button on my alarm clock one too many times and fell asleep.  Running through the shower and jumping into clothes, I heard the crackberry ping - an email.  But I truly didn't have time to look at it.  

I got my shit together and walked - very quickly - to the Gare de Lyon to get the train out to the airport.  It's now 6.00 am.  

Halfway to the station, I remembered the email. 

It was from Florida Boy and innocently entitled 'Hey there!'

So I open it and start to read.

It wasn't the romantic start to my day that I usually get from him.

"I love you is this ever going to work? it possible to make something from what we have....I don't know how we can ever make this work long distance....I wish you lived closer...." and so on.  

You get the drift.  

It's true, the distance is a huge deal.  I'm not sure how we ever would make it work.  But maybe some things are worth struggling for.  Maybe this is one of those things.

But then I read on.

"I don't expect you to be a saint while I'm not in Paris....I'm sure you've been seeing other people...."

Well, you all know that I've not been a saint.  But we'd discussed our attitude to sex vs love many times and neither of us were under any illusions.  

"Thing is, I've been seeing someone too....I don't know where it's heading....but I really like him....I think it might be something good".  

Well, that was kind of like getting shot.

And, no word of a lie, as I read this line, the telephone rang and it was him.

"I didn't mean to send it, don't read it" he sounded panicked.

"I read it" I said.  "What does it mean?"

"It means nothing, really, nothing"


"Well, I still really want to see if we can make something together, but I just wanted to be honest with you" he said.

Turns out, he had sex with this guy - which doesn't at all bother me - but then the sex dates turned into proper 'date' dates - which we said we wouldn't do to each other - and he's 'not sure' how he feels about him.  But he's desperate to see me and see how that works out.

The more he talks, the more he tells me that this guy isn't anything important.  Nobody special.

But you know what?  He has three weeks before he comes to see me, the other guy is local and I may as well be a million miles away.  If this guy likes FB, he's going to be going all out to get him before he comes this way.  

I really hate this kind of situation.  Being put in competition with someone else.  Having to prove you're the best man for the job.  My natural instinct is to walk away.  Close the door.  Save my heart.  But this time I think I should persevere.

So I talk awhile, but ultimately have to leave the conversation with him.  I have to go to the airport and get to the UK.

In the UK, I lurch from dreadful meeting to dreadful meeting.  My final meeting of the day ends with my boss asking me to stay behind to speak to her - and she then cusses me out (impressively so, I'd say) for being 'snippy' with her on the phone the previous day.  I give as good as I get, but still, it's hard.

I leave the office in the UK, and head to the airport.

I get on the plane and fly to Paris.

I get back to my house at 11,30pm.

At this point, I'm knackered.  Emotionally drained.  Exhausted.

Florida boy calls.

It's all I can do to answer the phone.  It's as much as I can do talk to him.

I tell him that we'll talk again tomorrow.

I go to bed wishing that my life never sees another day like this one.

So now it's Thursday and I spoke to him again today.  I felt like I was just going through the motions.

How easily we are let down. 

I honestly, truly do not have a clue.  I don't what to think.  I don't know what to feel.  

I don't feel let down, much, but more that we agreed on a policy of 'no dates other than sex' and he reneged on the deal.  

But the thing is, long-distance will always be like this.  There'll always be a chance that one of us will have his head turned by someone local and the other will get his heart broken.  Is that anyway for either of us to live?  Under constant threat of being replaced?

Really?  I just want to walk away.  But I don't think I can.

mercredi 12 août 2009

lundi 10 août 2009

Nanterre Préfecture > Gare de Lyon

On the RER A, heading home.  As everyone in cars takes advantage of the empty August roads and gets home early, for those of us who travel underground it's the opposite.  August means less trains, less frequencies.  August means getting home later than usual.

The woman sat opposite me has an amazing wig on.  She's quite beautiful, but I wonder if she hasn't picked up on the fact that the wig looks like it's made from black bin bags, so shiny and plastic-looking it is.

The man next to me has beautiful forearms and chronic body odour.  Those arms are like a slice of heaven reaching out from the hell of his mansmell.

Across the aisle there is a middle aged woman, sat on a carrier bag - obviously the seats on public transport are too dirty for her.  She's not so germ-averse though.  She's been biting the skin on the knuckle of her thumb for the past ten minutes.  What's she so nervous about?  The germs?

I'm listening to Little boots on the iPod.  Stuck on repeat.

I turn her off and reach for my book.  The Secret Scripture.  Beautiful.  I hold my bag on my knee and turn the pages.  

The stinking guy next to me gets off at Etoile.  

He is replaced by a North African guy.  Short, stocky, filling his jeans in a good way.  He's with someone - friend?  colleague? - and they sit next to me and opposite me, respectively.  The black woman with the wig shifts uncomfortably and grips her bag.

The guy next to me smells totally different to the previous occupier of the seat.  The smell is pure 1980's.  Kouros?  Paco Rabanne?  Aramis?  It's pure 80's and hot to the point of distraction.  I fold the page corner and put the book in the bag.  I close my eyes and enjoy the trip back in time.

He gets off at Auber and is replaced by a shopgirl.  She's about fifty, wearing the trademark black and red of Lafayette.  I wonder which department she calls home.  Mens socks?  Ladies evening wear?  Small electrical?

I think about what's lying ahead this week.  Drinks with friends.  Dinner with others.  More friends arriving at the end of the week to spend the weekend together.  I have housework to do first.  I need to do some grocery shopping.  Remember to buy champagne.

The shop worker starts sending text messages, giggling to herself as she does.  It makes me think of the messages I got today when I announced online that my day wasn't going so great.  I have some calls to make tonight.  Friends.  

Smiling to myself, I get out my book and open it again where I left off, unfolding the corner as I go.  

I read the next line.

"It is always worth itemising happiness, there is so much of the other thing in a life, you had better put down the markers for happiness while you can."

My markers are here.  Right here.  Right now.  I don't mean the train.  I don't necessarily mean Paris.  I mean in my heart.  In my head.  

This is the time I will look back on as the time I was happy.

I'm throwing down my markers.

dimanche 9 août 2009

Burning up for your love

In my last post I told you how I'd planned a big weekend - to get back my mojo, to re-discover my missing muse, to find my groove again.

Well, no sooner had I posted, than I started to feel a little bit hot.  A bit sticky.  Hot behind the eyes, achey of limb.  And that's how I ended up spending the last 36 hours in bed.  


I even had to cancel a date that I had organised for yesterday evening.  And trust me, this isn't a guy I'd be cancelling unless I really had to.

So, do you think it's a higher power reining me in?  I've asked myself this question over the last couple of days.

There are two weekends now before Florida Boy arrives - the first one I have friends visiting me, the second I'm in the UK at a wedding, so there's no chance between now and his arrival of me behaving badly.  This was the only weekend where such a thing would have been possible.

This was the weekend that I was planning to be a bad boy.  Planning to get me some loving that I wouldn't be telling Florida Boy about.

And that's why I question whether someone 'up there' struck me down on purpose.  Gave me a bug that lasted from friday afternoon until sunday morning to keep me out of the cheating zone. 

I wonder.

Fate?  Anyone?

vendredi 7 août 2009

Absent muse

I'm back from holidays, back from birthday weekend and back in the office again.

Somewhere along the way I lost the muse. A temporary blip, I'm sure.

In fact, so concerned am I that I've organised a weekend of TBNIL style fun....hopefully it'll be enough to help me get my groove back (the writing groove, that is) and may even provide me with a couple of tales for y'all....

And with the weekend I have in mind, if there aren't at least two posts from it then I'll be disappointed.

Wish me luck.

jeudi 6 août 2009

And the French for "excuse me" is...?

Well, apparently there is no French word for excuse me.  It's 'stand and point'.  Or just 'stand'.

I appreciate that this is the second post of my forties and it's a rant.   Yes that scares me too.

I promise you that I'm not yet the grumpy old man that I am destined to become. But the thing is, I'm just back from the cinema, and you know what drives me crazy?  People who can't say "excuse me".

You see, I like to sit on the aisle - more leg room, more elbow space, etc.  But this does mean that people need to get past me.  Here's a typical scenario:

Boy to girl - "Let's sit there", gesturing at seats in my row.

Girl to boy - "Yes, that seems like a good spot", again, gesturing to the seats beyond mine.

Boy to girl - "So, shall we sit there then?"

Girl to boy - "Yes, let's do it"

And then they stand there.  They hover in the aisle next to where I'm sat.

Me to girl and boy - "Are you OK there?"

Boy to me - "Yes fine thanks", gesturing towards seats next to me.

Me to boy - "Did you want to get past me?"

Boy to me - "Yes, we want to sit there" points at said seats.

Me to boy - "The accepted protocol in these situations is that you say 'excuse me, may we come past you please' and I say 'of course you may' and then I stand up and let you past".  Well I don't say all of this, but I allude to it with a tut and an eyeroll.

This happens a lot.  

At the cinema, on aeroplanes, on trains.  What happened to a simple "excuse me"?

I'm a nice guy.  I don't look all that intimidating.  I don't touch (too many) people inappropriately as they pass.

I just like a bit of courtesy.

Too much to ask?

(note to self : do NOT let this become a habit.  An occasional rant is fine, but people don't want to hear your moaning self complaining all the time.  Stop it now or people will start calling you O.L.D.)

lundi 3 août 2009

Missing a bit

In the photo I received by email this morning, it's Saturday morning, 3am and I'm dancing in Birmingham's oldest, biggest and gayest gay club.

Dancing with a whole load of friends, plus my boss and two other members of the board of directors where I work.

Yes, it seems that I invited them. Don't ask me why. I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time.

In fact, the birthday party went really well - it was a good mix of 40 friends, family and a select few colleagues who have become friends over the years.

I'm not sure that my boss expected to ever see me stood in front of a room of drunkards, wearing a pair of bunny ears, demonstrating a pair of furry handcuffs and drinking champagne from the bottle through a straw shaped like a penis, but hey - she needs to love me or leave me, right?

Now, I'm sure exciting/crazy/worrying things happened and that hilariousness did indeed ensue, but I was just a little too, erm, drunk to remember. I'd love to be recounting tales of crazy mothers and idiot friends, but I truly don't remember.

See, the thing is, I remember telling people at the restaurant that we were off to the nightclub, and then I remember waking up at my Mom's house.

The whole period between those two events is lost forever.

At least I hope it is.

Please don't tell me what I did. I don't want to know....

jeudi 30 juillet 2009

The roaring forties

I'm in mourning.  Although not dead yet, a good friend of mine is at death's door.  Not long left at all.  Hours, in fact.

Who is this friend?  It's my youth.  My younger years.  My pre-middle-age.

That's right folks, I turn forty tomorrow and I'm pretty sad to be leaving my thirties behind.  But hey, time waits for no man, right?  I guess I'm lucky to still have these rugged good looks.

With it being my fortieth and all, I thought I'd give you a list.  We bloggers love these lists, right?  The big question is what kind of list to give you.

I've been thinking about it these last few days, and in the end I decided that it would be a happy list.  A really happy list.  A list of the things that make me smile, things that I love, things that bring me joy.

Here goes.

1. Waking up in Paris, never gets old.
2. American Boy, the song, not the Floridian.
3. But while I'm at it, Florida Boy also makes the list
4. My 5 year old niece and her curiously well formed opinions
5. My 7 year old nephew and his big heart
6. Dancing to seventies disco classics
7. French toast, with maple syrup
8. A hairy chest on a handsome man
9. A cold beer with a view of the sunset
10. Trainers/sneakers - all of them
11. The Air France Lounge at Roissy 2E
12. Thorntons Continental
13. Overnight train journeys
14. Massaman curry at the Thai Rainbow
15. My Mom and all of her little foibles and idiosyncracies
16. Yes sir, I can boogie
17. Gin and Tonic, with a squeeze of lemon
18. Big C and nights out being stupid
19. New glasses, choosing them, buying them, wearing them
20. Late night taxi rides in foreign cities
21. Holding hands with someone I love
22. The DumbAss Yank and his ropey Aussie accent
23. Tokyo
24. Falling in love with a book
25. Sudoku
26. McVities Digestives
27. Friends meeting me at the airport
28. Free upgrades.  Anytime, anywhere
29. Hawaii
30. The Fierce People and their Paris madness
31. Arguing about what rocks with my Lovely Dutch/Welsh friend
32. Café Crème, rue de Birague
33. Trocadéro at sunrise
34. The first view of the sea
35. Sex, of course
36. Weekends in foreign cities on my own
37. Blogging
38. My Friends
39. My Family 
40. My Life

How's that?

I realise I'm lucky.  I realise that I have everything I could wish for.  

So many things on my list are just luxuries that make life great, but you know what?  

You could take them all away and leave me just my friends.  

I'd still be the luckiest guy on earth.  

My life is good and complete because of my friends.  

Without them, it'd be an empty shell, an idea of a life, a life unlived.

I know that the good times are officially here.  Instead of hoping for better things round the corner, I'm just going to ask that things stay as good as they are at the moment.  

Whilst I mourn the passing of my thirties, I step into my forties as a happy, lucky, smiling man.  

Really.  How great is that?