Sunday, January 21, 2007

Wankered with some, errr... ahem...

Yesterday as regular readers will be aware, was the inaugural Socialist Bloggers' Meetup in London. A small and select crowd assembled in the Doric Arch pub (resisting the urge to sign any crappy manifestos that might have been passed around). 'Twas a pleasure to meet for the first time with Dave, Andrew, John A, Jon R, Marsha and TWP, as well as, not for the first time, with Stroppy, Kit, Janine and of course me old mucker Mike, as well as my adopted child for the night, Jim "where's my fucking bag" Denham.

So, what actually happened? I'd arrived a few hours early, so having trundled off to Housman's bookshop to buy some sectariana, I settled in the pub round the corner from the Doric, and nursed a pint whilst reading the CPGB's report on their obsessive-compulsive topic of conversation, the conference of the Socialist Youth Network. This might seem a surreal topic for a double-page spread in a paper, but there again Conrad's gaggle of goons have been up to that sort of thing for years. Anyway, I was soon joined by Mike, and after loitering for a bit we headed for the Doric.

Already quaffing liberally were Kit, John A and in particular Denham, who seemed remarkably loquacious for a man who (according to Kit) was "on his first pint". Was he bollocks, in my humble opinion, but there again I'm more cynical than Kit is. All very amiable - myself, John and the three AWL bloggers merrily chatted and waited for others to arrive.

Stroppy turned up shortly afterwards, although in spite of three of us yelling her name and me gesticulating wildly, it took some time for her to notice us - an impressive feat in a grimy little pub that's about the size of a broom cupboard. Should we take offence? Anyhow, Jim (who was at this stage still manageable) raced off the the bar to get her some booze, and all was well with the world. She appeared to have a thing about dress sense around the table - indeed she's blogged about it in her own report of the event. Some people might think that a woman who dresses like Courtney Love might want to be a little circumspect about handing out sartorial advice, but obviously I wouldn't pass any such comment.

Then we were joined in quick succession (my memory is hazy) by Dave, TWP, and Janine. John A immediately made a bee-line for Dave, and appeared enraptured by Mr Osler's anecdotes about the good old days on the left. Touching, really.

Now, at this point some kind of weird demonic posession seemed to overtake Jim, who began to alternate between thumping his fists on the table and shouting at TWP about Palestine, and doing the same to John A, who he appeared to think was a supporter of mass murder. That's when he wasn't rooting around under the table muttering "where's my fucking bag" or (most amusingly) patting Stroppy on the head and calling her "doll", Sinatra fashion. I did intervene at one point when he appeared to be about to launch himself across the table at John, but thankfully my concerns were unwarranted. Indeed TWP was so struck with him, and he with her, that she's kindly agreed to become one of the team here at Shiraz. The invite is in the post, mate - you were very articulate and intelligent company, and anyone who can go ten rounds with Denham is more than worthy of posting here. Even if you are in that funny group that the SWP like to hang about with.

After several failed attempts to get a photo or video of Jim in table-thumping action, whilst also talking to Janine about whether Kit taking the piss out of Katy Clark MP's trainers is a sexist comment (we decided it isn't) and after an amusing if rather gloomy chat with Osler about how shit the British left is at, well, everything, we were joined by Marsha, Andrew and a (ahem) "tired and emotional" Jon R, who appeared to be trying to rival Jim in the sobriety stakes. He appeared very concerned about the collapse of the Soviet Union, which I had always thought was a fait accomplis, but anyway I was more concerned with the sight of a rather high-spirited Mike kissing the back of Jim's head, presumably in an attempt to distract him and thus preserve the table from further assault. However, Mike was still intact by the end of the night, so all was well. Besides, Jim was preoccupied with buying what appeared to be the world's biggest ever round, one drink at a time, and further frustrating the barman by repeatedly losing his switch card and forgetting his pin number.

I did have some sympathy with the member of bar staff who threatened to throw us out of the pub if we didn't desist from group hugging and singing the Internationale. Quite right sir. The song's as dull as dishwater, and besides I never knew the words when I was a Trot, let alone now.

As things drew to a close, there was talk of going on for a curry but Denham and I resisted, deciding to go home. I was actually quite tempted by the sparky Marsha's alternative suggestion of "more alcohol", but on balance I thought that I might die if I drank any more. And besides, I wasn't too sure if Denham would make it back unassisted. So we said our goodbyes and headed for the train.

The train was an adventure in itself; this being UK railways, there were of course engineering works and enormous delays, further compounded by the fact that we had no idea what was going on, largely because the Virgin Trains staff seemed to be averse to talking to the two paralytic blokes muttering garbage to each other in one of the carriages. Eventually we went our separate ways, and I left Jim on the train, sleeping peacefully whilst face-down on a table. I presume he must have got home eventually, but he'll have to tell you exactly how. If he can remember.

Anyway, it was pleasure folks, and I look forward to seeing you all again soon.


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