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Friday, November 18, 2011

Charm Offensive

After a day’s sightseeing in Bath, Gareth and I showing off to our London friends, Matt and Emma, just how much green and space and air and fun there is in Bath, we settled on some Yum Yum Thai for dinner.

Having been drinking since lunch time, we naturally ordered a hundred starters and a plate of duck meat each, plus a few bottles of their finest house white. We continued to talk and eat and drink and talk. Times were merry, fun was plentiful.

Somehow, the conversation found it’s way to mathematics. Like it does.

From what I recall, we were accusing Matt of being very good at mathematics and possibly even enjoying it. At that moment, a sweet little Chinese waitress came over to deliver the bill.

I know what you’re thinking – I was in a Thai restaurant, the waitress wasn’t Chinese. But you weren’t there. She was. There’s no rules.

Again, I’m fuzzy on how it happened, but the next thing I knew, I’d been informed by the waitress, who surprisingly wanted to engage with us despite our decibels in an otherwise peaceful dining establishment, that she too was very good at maths.

Right then. CONTEST.

Sober, I could probably have come up with a trickier multiplication. But the first thing that came to my head was: ‘Alright then, Matt, Waitress Lady, what is 22 x 22?’

Now I say that wasn’t very tricky, but even as I type this I’m going to have to get out the old po-cal (pocket calculator yo) and check the answer.

My poor old Dad. All he ever wanted was a maths genius for a daughter. He tried to explain to me a dozen times (a maths term for him there) simple equations for doing multiple mathematics in one’s head. Divide one number, double the other, carry the ten, THINK, WOMAN, THINK! But in my fear of disappointing him, my brain would go into panic mode and literally start melting while I began spurting out my two times table in the vain hope it would impress him. It didn't.

Whenever I have to do maths now, my palms sweat. But I can still dish it out in Thai restaurants to other people, be they strangers or friends.

So where were we? 22 x 22, come on!

Matt looks skyward for a second, his brain doing a little multiply all over it’s own frontal lobe.

Our waitress, on the other very impressive hand, needed no such second. Within an instant, without even a flicker of hesitation, she said ‘484.’

Now, like all good judges, I got my iphone out to check she wasn’t banking on my being too drunk to know if she was right.

And by jove, she only bloody was right.

Suitably impressed, we asked her how she did it. ‘In China, we’re not allowed calculators, we have to learn how to do mathematics quickly, in our heads.’

Wow, that’s some pretty impressive education. Although I guess it meant she missed out on what we all know happens if you type 5318008 into your Casio.

She left the table and we returned to poking fun at Matt for being so stupid at maths he took a split second too long to work it out and got beaten by a girl.

Packing up to leave, we did as all good dinner parties do and discussed the tip.

Inebriated, we decided our waitress would love it if we left her £4.84

But, the worry was, what if she just scooped it up without realising what a meaningful tip it was? That would be a calamity. We didn’t want her to think it was just lose shrapnel. This tip had meaning. It was probably going to be her most meaningful tip of the night, we couldn’t leave unsure as to whether or not she’d notice it after we’d gone.

‘Don’t worry guys, leave it to me,’ I said, putting on my jacket. I do love making speeches, even to an audience of one.

On our way out, I went over to our waitress and said, with all the subtlety of a bull in a china shop: 'Excuse me, sorry to interrupt, just wanted to say thanks ever so much for the dinner and the mathematics. We’ve left you a very special present on the table.’

Confident that I was probably the best person in the room at that moment, I patted her on what may have been her head but was intended to be her shoulders, she was very short, and walked out. I think I might have even tried to wink at her.

A few steps from the restaurant old Maths Whizz Matt stumbles upon another great mathematical moment.

‘£4.84, while amusing and in reference to her impressive calculative skills, was less than a 5% tip. She probably would have preferred it if we’d just given her a decent tip.’

Good work Matt. There was I, Mother Teresa, dishing out donations, speeches and winks, and it takes you five minutes to work that out? I take no responsibility for it myself – my palms were already sweating at the thought.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

How not to win friends...

I used to like Noah and the Whale, then everyone got wind of what a great little band they were, which put me off somewhat. When one discovers something special, one hopes one can keep the gift a secret from the masses. The last thing I’d want is to like a song at Number One. I’ve got a reputation to uphold here.

(Having said that, I do love Cheryl Cole and I’m not ashamed to say it. Although I think that says more about her hair extensions than her singing.)

Anyway, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. His name is John Robins and one day, when he’s Michael-McIntyre-famous, a stadium sell out mega star, remember that you heard it here first. I liked him back when he compering gigs in Bristol pubs, a comedy whippersnapper.

Cesca (my best mate and his number two fan) and I developed a bit of a crush on JR at the last gig we saw of his a few months back. He’s a local Bristol comedian, so I’ve seen his star rise for a few years now. Indeed once, while hydrated by the intoxicating confidence booster that is gin, I told him post-gig that I loved him and backed him into a corner, literally, while Gareth tried in vain to let him know that when I said I loved him what I meant was, he was highly amusing. Sometimes I get the two mixed up. Because I don’t actually love him, obvs, I’m a loyally engaged woman*, but I do think he’s a very funny man, and funny is attractive. Just look at how well James Corden does for himself. It’s not the belly women are going for, it’s the funny.

*Ryan Gosling would make me reconsider this statement. But Gareth agrees, so that's fine.

Cesca and I were very excited about seeing John Robins again on Friday night at the Hen and Chickens, our local comedy box. We’d both stalked him on Facebook, I’d even gone so far as to befriend him - then sent Cesca a victory screenshot to prove it.

Then I’d cashed in on the fact my sister runs a comedy night by casually mentioning it to him via the safe-stalk which is Facebook. (Hey man, he let us be friends, it’s legal.) It was a low ebb, but what’s a girl to do? JR is the kind of comedian that you sort of feel is your friend. He’s just one of your mates, up on stage, being funny. I have to remind myself that John and I are not actual friends, try as I might. I really ought not even refer to him as John, so casual and familiar as that is. 'Mr Robins' would be more appropriate.

Fast forward to Friday night, and due to my penchant for falling asleep at comedy nights, I have recently made the bold decision not to drink during comedy gigs. The combination of gin, a dimly lit room and a stuffy lack of oxygen, meant even the front row wasn’t a guarantee that I wouldn’t head-nod. See Russell Kane, Lee Evans and Micky Flanagan for examples. I’m like a budgie with a cloth over the cage. Sobriety was an investment in my consciousness.

But, it makes for a slightly less gobby, less confident Kim. Old JR might have been slightly confused that the girl who last time pinned him up against the wall with the force of my banter alone and got so excited when he asked my friends and I if we’d like to join him for pizza that I nearly broke a glass was now too shy to even look him in the eye. (The pizza invite really did happen, I’m not dreaming. Friends did not let me accept the offer, for fear I’d make a tit of myself. I liked them less after that. Stupid friends looking out for me, ruining my chances of being friends with a funny person / making a fool of myself. How dare they.)

Cesca and I were embarrassingly early to the gig on Friday. We even beat the bar staff to the door. At least we had Gareth with us, so I didn’t look too insane. ‘John Robins, John Robins, look, your favourite fans are here, but we’re not mental, we’ve got boyfriends,’ was the kind of message we wanted to get across. Gareth was my token insurance of sanity. Crazy stalkers don’t have boyfriends, JR! Be friends with us!

From said front row seat, I did not fall asleep, hurray, what an achievement. However I was in his direct line of sight when he announced that, sorry ladies, he now had a girlfriend. Bit awkward. But I still think he’s one of the best comedians alive today / love him very much. The line is blurred.

Anyone a fan of Flight of the Concords? That's me. Crazy stalker lady. Husband in tow.
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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Girl in a Gold Bricked House

I can be something of an abandoned puppy when Gareth gets called last minute for jobs and leaves me at a loose end. I spend too much time not speaking and then when he returns and I hear his key turn in the lock, I sprint to the door, excitedly chasing my tail and pawing him for attention before he's even had a chance to put his bags down.

Having been left with little ado on Friday night, I was dying to get out and have some fun come Saturday, when he finally got home. We'd been invited out to a friend's birthday party in the snazzy Goldbrick House, Bristol, and I had my glad rags on at the ready.

Perhaps because I'd been a good girl on Friday night and abstained, I went a bit crazy bananas on Saturday night, as if I somehow had license to drink twice as much. And so it was that we'd had too much gin before we'd even arrived at the party. A party at which there were about 40 people, and we knew three. A party at which when we arrived, Gareth declared loudly 'Tom's got a lot of friends,' drawing attention to himself just as he tripped over his own shoelaces, hurtling into a stranger and coming within an inch of colliding with a tray of fancy wine glasses. What an entrance.

It quickly became apparent that Gareth and I were on rather more exuberant form than was in keeping with 8pm in a posh establishment like Goldbrick House, and so should perhaps have had a few soft drinks in order to get in line with the rest of the party.

Instead we continued to drink gin and were hugely disappointed when the party finished and no one wanted to go to a casino and risk their life savings on roulette.

As the party disbanded, Gareth and I made our way back to the clever place we'd earlier parked our camper van, Eddie, all the while congratulating ourselves on how much money we'd saved by bringing our second home and sleeping roadside, rather than paying for a taxi home. We passed the Lizard Lounge, a meat market with a queue of men dressed in togas (because they're absolutely mental) and women wearing clothes I will not be letting my daughter out in. We quickly sobered up. Ah yes, I remember my place in society now. I'm getting on a bit. Young, loutish behaviour annoys me. People dressed in 'fun' clothes. Students. Kebab vans. High heels. Doormen. Chips. Vomit on the pavement. Men in Ben Sherman shirts drenched in Lynx. Shivering women who refuse to wear coats because they Must. Not. Hide. Cleavage. All very annoying.

We got back to Eddie ready for a cosy night and realised we had a) parked on a hill and b) parked outside a nightclub. Great work.

Gareth then proudly got out his pre-prepared empty water bottle. Like a boy scout with a bladder problem he had already cut the top off for easy peeing. He did a wee next to my face and then, lying almost upright, we drifted off to the sound of tomorrow's graduates vomiting, arguing and having sex. The soundtrack to Bristol on a Saturday night. It was very romantic.
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