So, are we all in then? Sitting comfortably? Good. Now, let’s get on with it..
Several months ago I was staring down the bottom of a glass in a Godforsaken hellhole of a bar in downtown Cairo, broke, homeless and with the useful years of my miserable life long since behind me. ‘How did I get here?’ I appeared to ask, although in reality I was more concerned with shaking out the last piastres from my pockets as it was dangerously close to closing time. A young man walked in and sat down on a stool beside me. He was well dressed, freshly shaven and surprisingly clean. He ordered a Manhattan from the bar and for several minutes he observed me closely. Then, without warning, he patted me gently on the shoulder and offered to buy me anything my heart desired. ‘Anything?’ I asked gingerly. ‘Anything at all’ he replied, smiling.
‘Well blow me’, I thought, ‘that doesn’t happen every day’, but just before I put in for a vintage Bentley, leather seats, walnut dash, wire wheels, complete with Page 3 dazzler gazing adoringly at me from the passenger seat, I stopped to consider. These talismans of success were all very well, but surely in essence they were ephemeral? The fleeting trappings of, say, a footballer or rock star. If I was to turn my life around, I needed something of substance to build on : Something I could look back on in later years and be proud that I had made a courageous decision in the face of temptation. And at that moment, I knew what I wanted.
‘Decided yet?’ asked the young man.
‘I have indeed’ I replied, swelling with self-knowledge.
‘So then, what’s it to be?’
Dropping down from the stool and drawing myself up to my full height, I turned to the benevolent stranger to give him the answer that would change my life forever :
‘Sir, what I would like more than anything else in the world would be to write the weekly blog for West London’s Idle Hour pubs, giving the readers regular updates on events, promotions and gossip in what will become known and anticipated as my own wry take on life but simultaneously informative & entertaining. Thank you for giving me this chance, I shall never forget your kindness and perhaps one day I too will be able to pass such an opportunity on to another..’
‘A fine choice’ he replied. ‘For a moment there I thought you were gonna go for the vintage Bentley, leather seats, walnut dash, wire wheels and the Page 3 bird. Guess I’ll have to shift them elsewhere. Have fun with the writing, my friend’, and without warning he was gone, leaving me the tab for the Manhattan, the bastard.
So, that’s how it started. And that’s how we’ll carry on, you and me. And if, at any time, you’re not too sure where it’s all going, just remember what I gave up. For you, dear reader, for you..