West Hill Community Association committee members Ray, David and Vinod had just left. It was a shame really because they would have gotten to meet Paul McCartney. Their early departure meant they were to miss the best party since my return from both St Leonards-by-the-Sea and my pilgrimage to Mecca.
Casser Lucas had brought me a crate of very rare Mancunian Champagne as a thank-you for my not standing up against her in the election. Accordingly, the dinner table tongues were hyper-fuelled with tales of derring-do and assorted gossip. Biggins had come along with his guest, little big man Jonathan Meades. I have always rated Meady as perhaps, possibly the most intelligent person in the world. He is one of my oldest buddies with a wit to match. His humour, like his trademark Rayban sun glasses, is black, in fact so black, how much more black could it be? Needy Meady, as I call him, was on fine form and he held the floor with his lyrical diatribe. “I love Brighton. It is a south coast Sodom, a moral sump covered in stucco dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure, a hedonistic Beau Brumellian dandy of a place.” South Today anchor woman Sally Taylor nervously uttered her mockney laugh in reply. Poor old Sally is always hopelessly out of her depths at these soirées. I quickly came to the rescue and, self-effacingly as always, diverted the attention away from her to myself.
“Did you know Shami Chakrabarti, Biggins and I ran the inaugral Brighton Marathon?” I announced. “From the very start I could have been the first woman home, but instead I kept alongside Shami and Biggins to encourage and coax them to the tape in 6 hours 42 minutes.” “A new personal best” bellowed Biggins. “Hurrah” exhaled a now nervous Sally Taylor who went on to eulogise, “The Marathon was a Brighton triumph. Did you know that, amazingly, the winner actually won whilst using a pacemaker that stopped running about halfway. That really is Incredible!”
Biggins blurted and bellowed to all that the Marathon’s organisers have recently engaged me to advise them on how the event could be improved. “Yes,” I affirmatated, “and I’m proposing they shorten the distance.” For some reason, lost on me, that started up the laughter once again but I carried on regardless, feeling it important to finish what I might say next. “And don’t be surprised if next year the route leaves the seafront at Montpelier Road and continues to the Dials to make several circular circum-navigations of our historic Dials Roundabout, before doubling back to the seafront and onwards to Shoreham harbour.” This was greeted by applause from representatives of our local shop-keeping glitterati, quite rightly realising this will bring considerable unit spend to our local economy. Hakan, from the excellent Grape and Grain, called for a toast in my honour as the champion of the Dials’ West Hill economy. It’s true, due to my efforts five storey homes still sell at the asking price within hours of going on the market, while other local economies like Greece and Portugal sink in toxic debt and junk bonds.
I had the floor and was encouraged to continue by a sea of fascinated, absorbed faces compelling me to continue being fascinating. Judging this to be a seminal moment in time, as well as exactly now, I offered to let everyone into a secret. This drew them in like the drooling disciples of gossip I knew them all to be, except for Shami, who like moi, can take it or leave it. I went on to tell them that the local dentist on Dyke Road is about to launch an open-door policy that will revolutionise how people view dentistry. They are to make the clinic open plan so everything is visible from the street. The air was palpable. ‘Ooh la la, sans figure evident,” gasped my French maid. “Brrrrrilliant” said Meade surrealistically. My web was cast. “Yes, they had got the idea from reading about the olden days when there was a glass blower who worked at his shop window in Queen’s Road making glass animals. He was cleverly called the Glass Animal Man. Crowds used to gather in awe at his dexterity, expertise and skill. The dentists conclude that if it can work for glass giraffes, it can work for them.” “Indeed,” said an enthralled Fred Dinenage. “Hairdressers and barbers do it all the time, tell me one good reason why dentists shouldn’t?” No one could.
“Now I see why this area is so popular” said he with the dark Raybans and full length black cashmere coat. “This place is an island of innovation in a sea of branded corporate mediocrity, a magnet to intellect wit and style.” At that moment Meade keeled right over, falling asleep where he stood. Biggins guffawed and bellowed, then announced, “He always does that. It’s because, medically, he has such a big brain.” Next to go was Shami, followed by Cazzer. This bizarre phenomenon, often associated with Mancunian Champagne, was striking my guests in order of their brain sizes, although I was mystified as to why it wasn’t affecting me because by now even Sally Taylor and the French maid were in la la land. One by one the party guests were ravished, and at the end of the night it was just Paul McCartney, Hugh Grant and me still awake.
Hugh was in floods of tears because he and wife Julia Roberts’ combined Travel Book Shop & Patisserie project at the old Threshers Off Licence had fallen through. Hugh was obviously devastated. The slump in the travel book trade caused by the Icelandic volcano ash debacle meant the bank had pulled the plug. Maccer cradled the emotionally demolished sobbing Hugh in his powerful arms, rocked him like a child as the second hand went around the clock. He sang to Hugh (accompanied by me on guitar, tom toms and kazoo) selections from his extensive Beatles back catalogue. For over two incredible, amazing, magical, wonderful, glorious hours we played. And that, dear reader, is how Ray, David and Vinod missed (along with the rest of the party) a Paul McCartney concert in my West Hill front parlour.
Everybody woke up in time to go to work. Julia and Hugh have gone back into film making. Jonathan Meades has bought an apartment in Homeless House. The old Threshers Off Licence has opened as a new Off Licence maintaining the number of Dials Off Licences at a congenial seven. Sir Paul McCartney and PeeGee are planning to tour together next spring and local property prices continue to be buoyant. This is all available on Blu-ray at £12.99 but offer must end tomorrow at the latest.
PG says : Copyright PG – absolutely, definitely, no reproduction in any form without written permission from PG