Beirut Bloopers

SHANGHAI BLOOPERS

OK I lied—one last post. But only to advertise my new blog, creatively named, Shanghai Bloopers. Bookmark it and see you there, where I will hopefully be narrating a life story in which I don’t have to worry about whether I can flush the toilet or not.

LIKE SQUEEZING A BITCH SPOT

I’m homesick and feeling a bit moany so I thought I’d come and have an emo dear diary moment on my cobwebby chunk of cyberspace. I’m on a comedown off a load of cheap vodka and knock-off Red Bull that I drank on Saturday night; I haunted my flat all of Sunday, then managed to perform this incredible kind-of self-dumping act, as I’d been seeing a guy for the past couple of weeks who it suddenly got awkward with. It was never going to last because we were cut from such different cloths; a bit like if Khaleesi in Game of Thrones had been packed off to marry Alan Partridge instead of Khal Drogo. I’m not sure who’s who in that scenario but what I’m getting at is that while he was fit and reasonably nice, we were from completely different universes and I was unable to act as awful and abrasive as I truly am around him and was constantly battling a bubbling desire to say something acerbic, so it was always going to have limited shelf life. Anyway I could tell he was done with it, and so preempted it with a kind of zen ‘good to know you’ sort of line over Facebook that made it sound mutual before hitting the brakes and brutally reversing over it by proceeding to make him explain exactly what had gone wrong. It was kind of like squeezing a bitch spot, you know, the bumpy ones under the surface of your skin, in that you know you shouldn’t because you’re just going to exacerbate it but in my frail and hungover condition I was unable to stop myself. Then went round the flat shouting ‘DUMPED!’ at disparate intervals before hiding in bed with the shutters closed drinking a mug of chicken stock.

It’s mainly, though, because it’s lovely and sunny in London and that’s when being there is really fucking great, as opposed to when I went back for Christmas and it was apocalyptically cold and rainy and windy all at once. But even that, I’ve started to romanticise. A Lebanese girl who worked for my last company moved to London for some sort of course, and came back to visit the office. ‘How’s London?’ somebody asked. ‘Cold and unfriendly,’ was her response, and I felt a warm swell of pride. Just how I remember it. But now, basically, I want to crack open a Magners and read the Sunday newspapers in Clissold Park because that’s the kind of bourgeois cunt I am, but here, there is no cider (!!), no Sunday newspapers (that I can read, anyway), and not even really any parks.

The other thing about Lebanon is that it’s so bloody miniature; it’s smaller than Wales and it only takes about two hours to get to any of the borders, which are all no-go areas anyway. And Beirut itself, it gets claustrophobic. Socially, you live in each other pockets – I suppose it doesn’t really need a metaphor, even, because all of my best friends pretty much live on the same street. Before you know it you’re in a kind of weird marriage with eight other people; throw into the mix that pretty much all of us are journalists and you can’t tell where personal ends and professional begins (although to be honest ‘professional’ is a pretty null word here anyway because a lot of the bosses are batshit and they forget to pay you and some of my lot recently nearly got knifed in their office, but that’s an entirely different, absolutely bonkers story). I guess by moving here, I’ve kind of done the reverse as many people who moved to London from small towns have done. I’m getting used to village life; if there were such things as postmen and milkmen here, I would be waving at them in my dressing gown and hair rollers. You basically encounter your entire Lebanese sexual history every Saturday night, and you’ve just got to learn to put up with it.

Anyway, I’m going home in July for two weeks, and I hope it’s as charmingly miserable and anonymous as can possibly be. If I know you, feel free to blank me on the street, I’ll get a kick out of it.