One of the most triumphant events in my recent life had taken place fewer than thirteen hours earlier, and it had been not much more than five hours since my friends had left and I had fallen into bed, when I shuffled through to the bathroom and found that the toilet seat had become detached from the toilet. A cold reality struck me as I was standing on the hard floor examining the scene for clues as to how the relationship between seat and bowl could have ended so prematurely, dishevelled and in boxer shorts, like a hapless detective who has been summoned to a murder in the dead of the night. There was a lack of witnesses around the scene who I could question about the fate of the seat, and evidence was inadequate, if it existed at all, so I stepped around the victim and conducted the business I had come in for, before cordoning off the scene and returning to bed, leaving the investigation for another time.
When I finally made it up for the day, the plastic throne was still lying prone on the bathroom floor, and I was forced to accept that as a single occupant these are the sort of things I have to take responsibility for. In a stroke of fortune, just as I was viewing the daunting little plastic bolts and pieces with a look of consternation, I discovered that for reasons I couldn’t quite fathom, I had kept the assembly instructions for the toilet seat. It was an unusual instance of hoarding – I could only assume that when I moved into the flat I had feared a day where I would encounter a shortage of reading material – but it made the task of reapplying the seat to the bowl a lot easier. As I was kneeling on the bathroom floor, reaching around the lavatory to tighten the bolts – the first reacharound I had in an age – I was considering how many other people, hours after one of their finest moments, have fixed a toilet seat.
Much of the remainder of the week was spent with me trying to regain the glory I had briefly flirted with days earlier, although four nights of roadworks across the street from my flat was making my pursuit of success more arduous than it usually is. Each time I would try and read a chapter of a book, somewhere in the distance a drill would be driven down into the road and my concentration was shaken like the water in the glass on my bedside table. This continued late into the night, where my restlessness was synchronised to the sound of pneumatics, and whenever the drill penetrated the tarmac I would toss and turn in my 200 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. They were working on the road outside the Parish Church, and although it isn’t my church, I couldn’t help but feel that this was God’s way of sending me a message, albeit a message which was lost in a fog of noise.
Ordinarily my sleepless nights are caused by a constant noise in my own head, rather than a constant noise outside my window, and the frustration and sleep deprivation seemed to be affecting me as the week wore on. On the night of the day when the recycling bins had been emptied, I went through a sequence in the space of a few hours where I drank the last drops from a bottle of orange juice, milked the remnants of another bottle for a cup of coffee, used the last sheet of kitchen roll and emptied a few stray Earl Grey teabags into a decorative glass jar. It struck me that doing all of this after the recycling bins had been emptied was similar to a scenario where you have been coveting a girl for a while but she has always had a boyfriend, then she finally becomes single just as you have started to date another girl. Though in my experience it would be more likely that the girl in the scene simply finds another man, while I am left single and with a collection of recyclable rubbish on my kitchen counter.
A thin mist had enveloped the bay on Thursday morning, and as I was walking home in the evening I couldn’t be sure if the sleep-deprived fog of my mind was leading me to see strange and unusual things when I passed a woman who was jogging whilst pushing a pram in front of her. I had only ever seen a dog being run in this manner, though the pained look of panic on the runner’s face suggested that the act wasn’t part of an exhaustive mother and child fitness plan. I continued to saunter along the seaside, daydreaming of sleep, as I was considering all of the events in this woman’s life which had brought her to be running along the Esplanade with a pram in tow. Was she moving at pace from or to something? Was she late for a bus or a boat? Would she have any regrets when she saw the mess all of this activity had made of her hair? What had she eaten for lunch? How was she able to run whilst pushing that pram when I can barely walk while shuffling a Spotify playlist?
I received an invitation to a wedding dance happening in the summer, and as always the addition of a “plus one” had me questioning if it was a joke or a challenge. I decided that I would treat it as the latter, so when I arrived in Aulay’s on Friday it was with the intention of starting the search for a plus one, which wasn’t terribly different from every other Friday. The endeavour to enchant began in typical fashion when, over time, the two women who were being courted by The Beatles post-1970 arrived and I was inevitably sandwiched between the two would-be couples. It was all I could do to order a Jameson as Primal Scream were playing from our Scottish band themed jukebox selections. The entire thing seemed to be in keeping with my role in the romantic ecosystem as the lumpsucker fish, acting as a species which makes the salmon more palatable to consumers.
Aulay’s was beginning to take on the appearance of a modern cocktail lounge when a dish of sliced cucumber appeared behind the bar, seemingly to satisfy the appetite of gin drinkers who enjoy it when their drink is garnished with water in the form of a plant. The pub was busy with revellers who were attending the annual music festival at the Royal Hotel next door; crowds of people massed around the bar, while a man walked in and managed to find a table which wasn’t occupied. He was of average height – approximately 5ft 9in – and was mildly bearded. A beige baseball cap was sitting atop his head and he ordered a pint of Guinness. In the meantime, the man was transporting black cases from the public bar into the lounge, where he was sitting them on the seating around the table. They appeared to be instruments, and they kept coming one at a time, like the old routine about clowns emerging from a clown car. I quickly understood why he had asked for a Guinness to be poured.
Eventually there were three or four instruments gathered in the man’s company, presumably all from the string family. It was a scene I couldn’t take my eyes off. I asked the barmaid with the dreadlocked hair, who had once served us with fresh mango, to speculate on why the man was carrying so many instruments. She suggested that he is a “one-man band”, which was a line I was wishing I had produced. I nudged two other people into commenting on the situation, and when the moonlighting banker also remarked on the chap being a one-man band, I was kicking myself for being the only person who had not thought of the joke.
We were never able to find out if the man was performing as an individual band at the ‘Royal Rumpus’, however, as the queue was stretching out of the hotel and down the street when we left Aulay’s. Instead, we decided to go along to the Cellar, where the sixth installment of the electronic dance night ‘Bassment’ was taking place. The bar was busy and the dancefloor was writhing with people who were enjoying the sounds of the technology before us. In the men’s bathroom, the hand towel dispenser had run out of paper towels, which was making the washing and drying situation more awkward for those of us who choose to support hygiene. I have always been self-conscious about dancing with wet hands, and it added to the yawning realisation that whereas my regular dancing is so lacking in rhythm that it can often give the impression to a casual onlooker that I don’t know how to move my body to music, I actually do not know how to dance to electronic dance music.
Although Bassment was not entirely terrible, it is not an environment which is particularly conducive to meeting and talking to people, and the night ended like any other. My search for a “plus one” was going to have to continue, but at least when I went to bed I was able to get some sleep.