Skill tells a story

JUNE 8 03 – The satisfying thing about smoking the shisha is exhaling long continuous plumes. A good smoke that. Smoking the shisha Saturday night with Hogan and Skill. That and Asahi bottled beers. And champagne. Frosted champagne glasses, less mousse. First tasting of the 1998 vintage: 'less biscuity than an average Lanson, bit of a Bollinger kick to it – tastes like it should have Pinot Meunier in it, but it hasn't.' When I arrive they're watching the 'dirtbirds' in a taped episode of 'Harry and Kosh'. Later that night ended up in 'The Tramshed', Islington, on double brandies.

Skill tells a story: Annoyed at loosing a darts match, on the way home late at night he pulled up a large bush and chucked it into the street. Long roots, took him quite a while. Curtains twitching. Walks on. Soon a squad car passes by eyeing him up. Thinking on his feet, he throws away his umbrella after it's passed, realising that the description will be of a man wearing a suit and carrying an umbrella. Shortly afterwards three squad cars and a paddy wagon screech to a halt all around him. He denies any knowledge of the bush, giving an alternative route home when asked. Just as it looks like he's got away with it the copper says:

'Could I take a look at your hands sir?'


Skill turns over his muddy hands.

'Been doing some gardening have we sir?'


Sunday. Observation while buying pitta, humus, and tzatziki before going out to get drunk again: little girl studiously drawing a picture in the grease on top of a rectangular tin of Greek butter with the tip of a large white feather.

Smoking the shisha again before ending up in 'Bar Lorca', Stoke Newington.

'Some good smoking there.'

cough cough 'Yes.'

'Shit like that makes yo' momma cry…'

While painstakingly assembling the pieces of glowing charcoal on top of the silver foil in the final stage of preparing the shisha, thoroughly absorbed, Hogan glances my way as I'm watching the process and comments:

'Women just wouldn't do this. Too juvenile.'