What the hell just happened? It’s 1.43am. I just got into a bus on Shaftesbury Avenue. I’m covered in glitter. I’m wearing my three piece, with polished shoes. My feet hurt. My head feels like it’s full of cotton wool.
I woke up this morning anticipating a day without work. I didn’t like it. I’ve got bills to pay and I’ve fallen behind. Then I get a message from Kerry, whose baby I looked after a couple of days ago. There’s last minute work of an unknown nature. A phone number and an amount of money. Fine. I can do this. I ring the number. They need me smart, in Soho, in an hour. Once again thank God I live central. Wash, polish, pluck, shave, change, run. “Hi. I’m Al. What am I doing?”
It’s a party. For a very big Russian internet company. I’m helping build and run the party. I never knew parties could be so much work.
Today I’ve lugged furniture, built sets, designed displays, blown up balloons, made a dress that holds champagne flutes. Then there’s been a party. Then I’ve done everything again in reverse. Dismantled dress, popped balloons, took apart displays, struck sets, put furniture back.
In the middle I met a lot of people and told them what they’d be doing and where. I also did lots of the obligatory walking around the party smiling and making sure everyone is having funtimes. Once everyone was drunk I had the added weight of fending off drunk people who want to dance with the smart sober guy. I was on constant rounds to the acts, checking in with them in the way I appreciate when I’m the act. It was fun. My job, for the party bit of the evening, was to be genial and fun and helpful. That’s what I do for breakfast.
The acts were awesome. They were working in a tiny tiny little space. Excruciatingly beautiful boys rippled through the crowd serving Moet Chandon with twitching biceps, jutting chins, dimpled smiles. Sharp and pretty young girls danced suggestively on platforms. A woman in a spinning hoop wearing nothing but a few golden hankies pretended to be comfortable and happy serving champagne to smokers. It was definitely a mistake when one of them got kicked in the head. People made flowers and words and symbols with poi. Women casually balanced upside down on the heads of oiled men, or became powdery flesh pretzels on top of gargantuan mirror balls. Bands played, and singer songwriters, and soloists. A stoic woman with a sore back smiled convincingly for a million photos while wearing hundreds of champagne flutes.
But for the nightingale tongues and the shagging it could’ve been a Roman orgy.
I was just making sure it all ran smoothly. Good job I’m not drinking with all that free Moet. That would’ve made for a very different party. But all that decadence for an office party! I had some glorious vegan food and there were two suckling pigs, but even though lots was eaten there was loads of waste. And they have a party like that monthly.
It seemed like a good place to work, but even so I suspect it would kill me. People making work for people making work for people making work for people etc etc ad infinitum. I was happy to build a party for them, watch as they all got hammered in it, and then go home thinking about our coming Beowulf party show and what I’ve learnt. That and the invoice. And the fact I can barely move my legs.