Time Out’s Executive Editor Michael Hodges has been dallying with danger so you don’t have to. This week’s thing not to do in London: spend the evening with an arse
Nigel’s buttocks rub against each other. Restive and unhappy, the two pallid globes of podgy flesh strain and quiver to escape the flimsy hold of his underpants and jeans. No longer completely under Nigel’s direct control, they bounce about so vigorously that they threaten to escape their fragile captivity and land on the small patch of bar floor that separates my table from Nigel’s bar stool.
Glistening with unseasonal sweat which refracts the shafts of halogen light that come down from the ceiling, they fascinate and appal the unwilling onlooker. It is as if Nigel’s arse wants to disassociate itself from Nigel. Which, from my viewpoint, stuck next to Nigel and with nowhere else to go, is the bitterest of ironies because Nigel is by some distance the biggest arse in here.
I know Nigel’s name because my low stool is directly behind the high stool he occupies at the bar in this Soho pub. As well as enjoying an intimate view of his backside and its ongoing activities, this means I have no choice but to listen to his conversation. This conversation is easy to follow, as it only amounts to, ‘Hello, I’m Nigel,’ and is directed at every young woman that comes near him at the bar.
Whenever women come in – every minute or so – Nigel speaks to them, and the women leave. What else can they do? Even if they were attracted to Nigel, how could they develop a relationship with a man whose conversation is limited to ‘Hello, I’m Nigel’? But the women are not attracted to Nigel. His shirt is untucked and unbuttoned, his hair is on end and his face is scarlet. Nigel’s in a state, but strangely convinced that he is in the best condition that he has ever been in his life. Nigel regards himself as a catch and he greets each new female arrival in the certainty that she will agree.
The latest arrivals are two girls in their twenties. They are wearing spangly dresses, and until Nigel delivers his signature chat-up line, they are having fun. When they fail to respond positively he follows this up with an equally signature thrust of his buttocks in my direction. Without, I hope, being sexist, if I do have to look at someone’s bottom this evening I would rather it belonged to one of these girls. Although aesthetically pleasing compared to Nigel’s, more importantly there is a very good chance that it would be clean. Nigel’s bottom doesn’t offer such reassurance; indeed, the faint discolouration at the top of the cleft between his buttocks that has recently appeared hints at horrors below. Nigel’s bum needs need some attention.
The girls down their drinks and leave. They are here to have a good time with interesting, exciting and attractive people. Nigel comes nowhere near qualifying, and in thinking he does, is making a mistake. In essence, there are two kinds of men in London’s bars: lovers and drinkers. Although drinkers will occasionally express an interest in sex – sometimes going so far as to have it – and most lovers when meeting new sexual partners will have a drink or two, the two types are after very different things, and the trick in life, for men anyway, is knowing which you are and acting accordingly. Nigel isn’t a lover, he’s a drinker. He shouldn’t be chasing 25-year-olds in spangly dresses in Soho, but chasing beers in Barnes.
The serious lover would never reveal his undercarriage until he reached the bedroom with another person, but now Nigel, as if to prove he is an amateur when it comes to amour, goes early and on his own. His jeans and underpants finally give up on the struggle to hold his buttocks in check and fall down – as Nigel does himself, violently, from the stool and on to the small patch of floor in front of my table. ‘Hello’, he says on landing, ‘I’m Nigel.’
And Another Thing…More bad news about backsides
PANTS ARE DOWN: For aeons, men wore trousers that fitted properly. Then, saggybottomed jeans took over – a triumph for trendsetters, a tragedy for lovers of tight buns.
BUMS ARE OUT: London’s ongoing male craze for showing underpants outside trousers was actually started by former Tory PM John Major. The hard-loving straight-outta-Brixton politico also invented crunk in the summer of 2003, while addressing Croydon Conservative Association.
LOOS ARE BLOCKED: Sewer blockages caused by rich Londoners using wet wipes instead of ‘common’ loo roll costs £12 million a year to clear. Problems arise, according to a Thames Water spokesman, ‘in Kensington and Chelsea’.
SEATS ARE SHRUNK: Since 2012, some of London’s top public schools have equipped their classrooms with smaller chairs to discourage members of the underclass – statistically five times more likely to have somewhat larger bottoms – from attending. Charging fees of £11,000 a term not enough?
Read more about Michael Hodges’s adventures