Summer loving and the art of hangover management.jpg

Summer loving and the art of hangover management

Skip Bandele reflects on life and his world – as he sees it:

WHY DO some girls insist on going out in the evening wearing off-the-shoulder tops, only to spend the rest of the night readjusting their skimpy garment every couple of minutes, while fending off admiring male glances with thunderous scowls? This is only one of many questions bothering me as the thermometer continues to rise in line with the amount of flesh exposed to appreciative eyes. Not that I am a voyeur, you understand. Unless you are teetotal, alcohol plays a certain role in all these considerations – it breaks the ice. When did you last go to bed completely sober these last few weeks, dare I say months? I certainly haven’t, although I can feel at least one week of abstinence heading my way!

This piece was almost going to be entitled ‘tinpan-alley blues’, but that sounded a little bit too downbeat. In fact, I am not exactly sure where I am heading at this point, but that can be fun too. I do feel a great big black hole looming somewhere nearby, threatening to suck me in. I am sure everyone experiences similar moments, the secret lies in not submitting to them.

Every time I switch on the television, I am bombarded with death and destruction, supposedly civilised people waging war on each other with the utmost disregard for human life. What do we do? Bury our heads in the sand, or merely avert our eyes and thoughts to concentrate on our very own immediate reality? But here too, on a different level, not all that glitters is gold. It has become increasingly difficult to digest universal truths without becoming a closet cynic on the way, or even an outspoken bore. A soulmate would help, were it not for fear and egocentricity prevalent in today’s society, turning such creatures into very rare commodities indeed.

Men are always accused of not communicating, and that is because they cannot find someone to talk to about the things that really matter on the same wavelength – no, I am not referring to football. Anonymity can provide a welcome cloak from intrusion, but it can easily develop into a burden if you fade to such an extent, that other people fail to register the space your physical manifestation occupies. Someone sat down on my barstool the other day, which is not such a heinous crime in itself, but I was still perched on it! In a similar vein, the above example apart, the private sphere we create in public can turn into an impregnable shell, unwittingly keeping out that which you seek.

“Touch me in the morning, talk to me all day, kiss me as the sun drops into the ocean and I’ll be yours for now and maybe forever”

Love is a fairytale, but it doesn’t have to be. I am 43-years-old (this is not an extended lonely hearts column plea, I’ll come to that later) and still blush with reverence and joy when I perceive beauty, inside and out. I close my eyes and dream, instead of opening my mouth and, when I dare to look again, the fat bloke with the beard is chatting her up – that is life in dreamland. And it leads me to conclude that I am searching for a fellow dreamer, a synchronised believer, who can imagine that which is not immediately obvious. But how do you do that erring around in self-imposed darkness?

This is the holiday season and, although the inexplicably renewed tragedy in the Middle East has taken the edge off the traditional seasonal void for many news hounds, some tabloids nevertheless find it within themselves to offer up some more than useless advice to the lovelorn abroad – or maybe it does work, you be the judge!

Under the heading How to learn a foreign language … of love, notoriously non-linguistic British holidaymakers are urged to try their luck with gems like: “Do you believe in love at first sight – or shall I walk by again?” Or even: “Excuse me, I seem to have lost my phone number. Could I borrow yours?” Apparently, the latter sounds slightly less toe-curling in French, while, “was your father a thief? Because he stole the stars from the sky and put them in your eyes” translates well into German.

I cannot agree, and am absolutely positive that were I to utter such nonsense to a Fraulein of my choosing, derisory laughter at best and a smack at worst would be my reward, despite the fact that my delivery would be accent-free!

The new phrasebook containing these one-liners in French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese claims that English-speaking Romeos will impress the girl of their dreams whatever country she is from. Personally, I rather lean towards the advice that this literary masterpiece will also help British girls wise up to foreigners cheekily trying it on. Then again, there is no accounting for taste!

Back to my overcrowded barstool – or should that read spacious bed? There, at least, I am not invisible and have a television for company, which is threatening to turn me into an insomniac. A review in an English newspaper recently praised the hard-hitting crime series The Shield, starring Michael Chiklis as rogue police detective, Vic Mackey; it went on to lament the fact that the programme is on so late – 11pm. I have been following it on Portuguese television, usually at around 3.30 in the morning! Is that a sad reflection of my life, or of local viewing and sleeping patterns? SIC would surely not bother broadcasting at such an hour if there were not legions of fellow night owls with nothing better to do than tune in.

Loneliness, according to latest research (I always wonder who exactly produces all these amazing scientifically proven facts – more lonely people?), is responsible for the premature death of thousands of people every year.  

Professor Sir Michael Marmot explains that the lack of human contact is especially high among the divorced and separated, a single existence leading to excessive feelings of isolation and seclusion, and hence an earlier than anticipated demise. “Call your mother more often”, the eminent scientist suggests. Whereas I would not argue with the merits of that piece of advice, I do not think it will help mine, or anyone else’s love life!  

Speaking of which, I actually got roped into agreeing to attend my fist-ever singles lunch a few weeks ago. While my slightly skeptical enthusiasm remained within bounds, the lunch was cancelled due to a lack of interest – it is a desert out there! I think I will just have to employ reverse psychology: come out of my shell, close my eyes once more and sit on a random barstool in a crowded bar. Who knows, I may be lucky and break into someone else’s cocoon – be warned and don’t yell too loudly if I am squashing you!