Tuesday, June 06, 2006

When The Moon Hits Your Eye...

Every week I expect the newspaper to contact me and dish out sagely advice about column composition, plot structure and subject matter. Stuff like, “For f*cks sake Neil, stop writing about pizza!” But since they never do…

When the sun is shining I find there is no better way to spend a Saturday than to drop in on old friends unannounced and help them consume their newly acquired stock of ice cold Czech beer. This may sound straightforward in principal, but in practice, the timing of your arrival is crucial if you want to reap maximum rewards from the visit. Turn up too early in the afternoon and chances are you’ll be handed a paintbrush or some kind of gardening implement with the expectation of physical exertion in return for your adult beverages. Turn up too late and the only thing left on offer will be a small bottle of supermarket-branded, light beer and half a cold spring roll.

So after years of trial and error I’ve discovered that the optimum dropping-in time is exactly 5.13pm. Chores for the day are coming to an end and your arrival gives friends the excuse they were looking for to finish up their grouting, decking, stripping, erecting, filling, laying or whatever the hell else it is that people in suburbia get up to these days. Their eternal gratitude will ensure you’re ushered smartly towards the back garden where you’ll be offered a selection of hastily assembled garden furniture in which to relax and enjoy your beer.

As time passes, thoughts inevitably turn to food. Even if your friends have plans to go out later in the evening it’s highly probable you’ll be invited to stay long enough to share a snack or two. But if you’re really fortunate - like I was on Saturday evening - their social lives will be as barren and desperate as your own and you’ll hear the magic words that, up to this point, have only ever been a long-held mythical fantasy, often whispered but never said out loud.

“We’re having home made pizza tonight. Why don’t you just stay for dinner?”

At this point, time will appear to stand still and you may have trouble breathing. But it’s important to try and compose yourself because your reaction in the seconds after hearing this statement will define your relationship with these people for years to come.

Obviously your natural instinct will be to leap from the garden furniture and career wildly round the lawn screaming some combination of, “YES! AT LAST! ABOUT TIME! YA F*CKING BEAUTY!” before sliding to your knees, Thierry Henry-style, and giving thanks to the Lord as if you’ve single-handedly knocked England out of the World Cup. Before you know it though, Christmas cards will stop arriving, phone numbers will be changed and you’ll become intimately acquainted with the precise distance of 100 feet, as defined by the restraining order.

So take a moment to slow the rhythm of your pounding heart. A useful tip to buy yourself some extra thinking time is to glance at your watch to give the impression that you might have somewhere more exciting to go. If you can manage it, attempt to cast your eyes to the floor in a sheepish manner so your friends will know that you really don’t want them to go to any trouble for you. And when you’re ready to reply, blush coyly and say, “That would be lovely. Thanks very much.” You may find you have to repeat this answer after your first attempt emerges as an excitable, high pitched squeak that only dogs can hear.

After dinner, it’s good manners to offer to help with the washing up but make sure you’ve checked that your friends have a dishwasher before tabling this proposal. And if you’re wondering which magic words should signal your speedy departure, stay alert for the phrase, “It’s time to watch Celebrity X Factor.”


At 9/6/06 5:47 pm, Blogger The Other Half said...

you should really aim higher than pizza neily

At 10/6/06 5:12 pm, Blogger DC said...


We're going out tonight & there is no, I repeat,NO, pizza or beer in the house.



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