‘Mum, are you ever going to answer that phone?’
‘No. If whoever it is wants to talk to us, whoever can damn well leave a message.’
‘But they’ve been ringing for four days now and, if you answer it, you can tell them to leave a message next time. It’s not some kind of peeing contest, Mum.’
‘Oh, for pity’s sake.’
I snatched up the phone. ‘YES???’
A tinny voice emerged. Obviously a text message.
‘Blah, blah…Pisser…blah blah…three in a bed…ha ha…blah blah…Daddy wants to see you…’
What the…??? I threw myself over the machine so James wouldn’t hear what was clearly some pervy nutter. Fat chance.
‘Who is it? And why are you tackling the phone? And who’s John Warren and why isn’t he coming?’
‘I really don’t have the foggiest.’
But, hang about… John Warren. I knew that name. Way back in the mists of time. And, slowly, I deciphered it. It was my friend Fi, at Pisa (not Pisser) airport asking if I wanted to stay at her house as there would be room (because JW wasn’t coming). And Daddy? Another friend, usually called by her surname Dady (Daydee). Stupid phone, as Milla would say.
Turned out that tomorrow, now today, was the City Limits reunion party, in London.
City Limits was a London listings magazine, a worker’s co-operative, which started when Time Out stopped paying parity. I left my nice well-paid job doing the accounts for the Royal Tournament (where I was fed champagne and had my own pet Commander) to become the magazine’s office manager (on a pittance).
On my first day, I walked in and said hello to the first person I met. ‘Oh good. Glad you’re here,’ he replied. ‘The cellar’s flooded. It's full of shit - literally.’ Kinda set the tone.
I met some wonderful people there and, truth be told, some totally repulsive ones. I started reviewing (theatre, books, food and, weirdly, museums). Ended up as Shopping and Travel editor before being poached by the London Evening Standard. And, to be honest, by that point, it was all over. The spirit and soul of the place had been sucked out. It had lost its way.
But, in its heyday, it was wonderfully, blissfully bonkers and packed with some serious talent. John Fordham and Nigel Fountain were the editors. Duncan Campbell, Bea Campbell and Melissa Benn were in the news room. Ros Asquith and Lyn Gardner were the theatre editors. Sheryl Garratt was music editor. Kim Newman used to wander in swishing his black cape. And on and on.. Ah, the memories come flooding back… some good, some bad.
‘You are going?’ said Lyn (Gardner) on Twitter.
‘Yeah, I guess. Though I think I may be wearing dark glasses.’
‘I’ll have a wig,’ she responded firmly. I could her her voice in my head, clear as a bell.
‘Will we recognise one another?’
I also wonder this, as I pack my overnight bag and try to erase the bags under my eyes. Should one revisit the past? All those people who shone so bright…will they still shine? Many won’t be there. Some, like my lovely mate Nicky Pellegrino, cos they live so very far away. Others because they are, not to put too fine a point on it, dead. Daddy sent me an email (she was always of a depressive bent) giving a list of our deceased former workmates. 14 of ‘em. Fecking sad.
Should one go back? I dunno.
But I do know I’m looking forward mightily to going back to Dalston to stay at Fi and Andrew’s house (and seeing Daddy of course). Cos, in my twenties, I spent so much time there – at their kitchen table drinking wine; in their back garden chatting over the fence with the Jehovah’s Witnesses (and drinking wine). Arguing animatedly about art and politics, waving our arms around, laughing our heads off, occasionally shouting our heads off.
Should one go back? Time will tell.