23 August 2001
Some of you may have noticed a change in me recently. Appearance, attitude; you name it, I've taken drastic measures to improve it. No more Friday nights in Wetherspoons followed by a dance at Chameleon and back to Jackie's for a smoke (and a shag, if I'm lucky). No more shopping in TK Maxx or MadHouse. No more slumming it in the shit restaurants, supping house wine and piling up high at the salad bar in Harvesters. Worzel Gummidge can fuck right off.
That's not me. Not any more. I've deleted my old life and installed a new one. This is Jamie v4.0.
About this time last year, I was supine in a smoke-filled tent at a festival, head-to-toe with several hundred like-minded potheads, discussing the merits of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. We'd travelled up in someone's mad aunt's VW Camper, and were living off Sainsbury's Economy Cola, Superkings and bread rolls crammed with processed cheese, processed ham (no more than 20% added water and lactose) and about seven spoons of mustard to give them some flavour. My face hadn't been washed in days; my hair hadn't been washed in months. My clothes hadn't been washed at all.
Looking back, I can't believe it took me so long to see how ridiculous it all was. I thought I was having fun; I thought I was free, shuffling off the tawdry coil placed on me by society, revelling in the role of rebel without a care. I thought, yeah, this is the way to go: I'm intelligent enough to be doing this for the right reasons, my eyes are wide open, I've chosen my path. Better this than rotting away in an office for eleven hours a day, sweat patches ruining the colours of my Thomas Pink shirt.
Then again, the more you smoke, the more intelligent you sound to yourself, and I had myself convinced. I've grown up now though. When it comes down to it, you've got to do something with your life; those tree-huggers and soapdodgers are doing fuck-all, no matter what they might think they're achieving. Although I never shared their crazy politics - I wasn't that stupid -I was well into the lifestyle, and that's a deadly trap. The glamour of being completely unglamorous, the buzz of inverse snobbery; thank fuck I got out.
And I'm still not sure exactly how I did escape. Probably a combination of not having any money and not wanting to become a criminal (contrary to my colleagues' ideals, I still saw stealing from the wealthy as theft). So I had a shower (to be fair, clean hair felt fucking good), wrote a CV (gaps filled by 'travelling'), took my suit out of mothballs and before I knew it I was employed. Say what you like about the old boys' network, but it's a fucking godsend when you've got no skills and no experience.
Everything else pretty much followed on from there, really. I couldn't very well go out with 'the chaps' (ok, a few things still took some getting used to) looking like Woking boy; Stamford Bridge is a much more suitable place for entertaining than Kingfield. And Mandy just wouldn't have dovetailed with all those designer girlfriends. No, some things you just outgrow.
It has to be said, I don't regret any of it. You get a better class of people in clubs around the West End; I've been told my suit makes me irresistible to the right kind of woman. And I hadn't realised that Stella stopped being cool to drink when they started advertising it on TV, or that Budvar is so 1995. If I didn't have the right people around me, I'd be making such a fool out of myself.
But I've got everything planned now: I know exactly where I'm going to have my house built, I'm going to marry someone who appears in Burke's Peerage, and we're going to have two dogs called Phaïdeau and Reauva [I'm actually quite proud of that last bit. It's funny on so many levels]. Kids when I'm about forty-two. They're on the list for Eton the minute they pop out. Unless they're girls, heaven forbid!
[And if I catch any of those gypsies trespassing on my land, or looking at my begonias a bit funny, I'm sending Nichols down with the twelve-bore. Send them all home, I say]