It’s worth noting that while in London for so many years, the first half of that decade was spent with Carlo, my colleague, and his entourage of Japanese women. Every night was a party of sorts for all of us, and it was kinda like a Little Japan that nicely balanced a working life at a stuffy old paper like The Daily Telegraph.
I can’t say for sure if I have nice memories of those women, or The Torigraph, but certainly they are memories clouded by far too much free champagne (and if not for the stupid amounts of champagne perhaps I could remember what else a blood thirsty animal like me inhaled on those long nights because it was definitely something!)
We took to extremes to find the next new thing or night, or person or fashion label. We all wrote articles, we swapped cultural ideas and all of us had to read literature or see the latest film or art exhibition. I don’t suppose the better times were the exhibitions I attended on weekends – which have now surfaced 20 years later in an essay I wrote ‘on-spec’ for The New York Times about how modern art is good, if only for the shitter times in our lives. I guess I developed a love of art-house cinema of the more obscene genre under Carlo’s friendship – much to the despair of everyone I am left with today (“Surely not another Greek film on incest Erica?”)
The second part to London was Carlo’s legacy. We both always agreed years later that every office has a monstrous blonde PA but more importantly that there will always be life around the ostracised eccentric in the office, too. I met Cindy in 2007, while working as a fashion writer at John Lewis. Our friendship was cemented in an instance once I understood she was the office whipping girl, but one with a big box of fortune cookies for the bastards who whipped her so. It was love at first sight.
It wasn’t long before everyone thought we were closet lesbians. So, unlike Gwen Stefani and her sophisticated Harajuku girls, I had a singular plump Chinese friend and her big bright box of superstitious fortune. And everyone thought we were gay. Of course, in reality we spent most of our time going through the nitty gritty of the male mind and discussing the merits of the ridiculous acrobats who seemingly danced across our lines of vision in quick succession (seemingly forever). We shared our findings and offered each other a sort of ‘Petting & Vetting Service’ as best mates do.
I am still in touch with Cindy and we still speak of men. And I keep in touch with Carlo too, though he’s a high-flying art dealer in Milan so meeting is almost out the question. I don’t see either has much as I would like. The Japanese cohort seems to have moved on too, though they crop up on Facebook now and then. Growing old and still in search of the latest fashions. Me? I am growing old, and growing old. Today I purchased a smoking pipe and some suede M&S slippers to wear by the fire…