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Hasan Jones's Diary
A day in London

July 6, 2004

Sunday July 4
Alcohol units: 1 bottle wine, 2 pints of Guinness, 3 shotettes of Absinthe
Belly protrusion: Negligible
Reading backlog: 2,679. Read waterproof bath book to my baby cousin though
Hairline back: 00.03mm
Bill head-in-sand-ometer: On fire

Woken from slumber on sofa by man beating window of friends Nargess & Leigh's Notting Hill apartment. Some dude in denim. He's frantic. Realise he was at party and this nut drug dealer running away from gangsters. Let him in, drop dead on sofa. Poor dude has evidently failed attempt to get home and returned to party. He has nowhere to sleep and I am on sofa - small designer sofa - no room for us both. He shuffles around. I see him from the corner of my eye as it shuts.

Poor Bastard is sleeping on wood-plank floor using his hands as a pillow. Hands make a poor cushion. The whole point of pillows is they are not attached to your arms. He looks bedraggled and uncomfortable. Were he pretty I'd offer to trade places, but as it is there is no way I am giving up the bliss of this sofa. In spare room is a woman on futon. He should go in there and ask to sleep on floor - why should girl get all the comfort? Decide not to suggest as any communication might result in my having to give up sofa.

Open left eye to see Poor Bastard sat in big orange retro chair facing window. Draft from window, from which my blanket protects me, is obviously causing him discomfort in his sleep. Am too trashed to find jacket to place over him. Too trashed. I have been in his situation before and survived it. But of course if I knew this person there is no way I resolve to do nothing.

He is fast asleep. So am I. This is where morality stops and starts: the person opposite you, your neighbour, your brother is in need, do you help? The only option is for me to suffer in his place. I don't know him from Adam, sod him. It is morning. I need a toothbrush. Always forget toothbrush at Nargess and Leigh's. Always they trash me but why no toothbrush?

A city of empty glasses and bottles needs to be washed. Nargess is up and after considerable badgering shows me where the dustpan is - but no brush. She drags out the vacuum cleaner and we wash everything together. Her sister, Maryam, a Cambridge HIV specialist in India had been working on a project with sex workers who were evicted from their homes. This has upset her greatly apparently. "She's not thinking straight," says Nargess. "It's probably her first time." If only it took something as worthy as the eviction of sex-workers from their homes to stop me thinking straight. My sense of the worthlessness of existence can be triggered by a drunk guy in denim sleeping on the floor using his hands as a pillow.

Leigh realises what hell his guest has been through trying to sleep and lays the futon down in the living room, on the sticky floor. Poor Bastard looks more fortunate now as he snuggles under a blanket. Of course, I offer him the sofa but it is too late.

Nargess and I have finished washing up. PB has slept through hoovering and the hotel-kitchen chinking of bottles and glasses. Nargess shows me watermelon pieces in the fridge that we didin't use last night. We put them into big plastic cup add vodka, mint and coriander and mix using an electronic mixer and wake the boys up for breakfast.

PB is hoovering. Am v. impressed. Cocktails leave us hungry. We decide meal is in order. Leigh suggests this Greek place he knows. I trust Leigh with food, one of few people I know but I suggest we go to this little Lebanese place in London's Olympia. It's run by this woman from Lebanon, a real home-made menu in case Greek place is closed. Famous Greek-Americans: Michael Dukakis. Mr Snuffleupagus. America really needs to address the sheep paucity situation. People need lamb.

We are drinking Guinness in the Market bar in Portobello Road. PB and I have had a light spliff. The day is warm like our banter and, like us, is in no hurry. Market bar worker tells us not to smoke at the bar. I wasn't smoking.

Bar number two: we order oysters in preparation for the big Greek feast. Six on one platter. Four of us. I martyr myself and let PB have two oysters. Had he not spent the night in pain that oyster might have been down my gob sooner than you could squeeze a lemon.

Reach restaurant after prolonged walk. Leigh wasn't kidding when he said it's in Notting Hill Gate (the Gate is up the hill). Restaurant is closed. PB, who turns out to be an easygoing chap called Ian, responds well to his disappointment, as I suppose we all do. We jump in cab after waiting so long we talked about opening our own place. "Lebanese place on the corner, what do you think?" "Nah, Greek we wouldn't have to turn up." We decide on a Kentucky franchise just as our cab pulls up.

Time and also figure on meter as we walk in. In London cabs start their meters a few minutes before they have even spotted you.

With trepidation I run ahead of the crew in case restaurant is closed and I have to offer myself to them as a trophy. They would stuff me and I would overlook all future parties like moose, with antlers an all. Then Ian would look at me and say who's "PB" now?

Restaurant is open. We are reprimanded politely for not booking (this woman doesn't like it when customers walk in unannounced). She is a charmer and says I "look like a Bangladeshi".

3.30pm to 5pm
We demolish two bottles of wine a festival of meat, rice and salad. We roll to Holland Park - literally ghel as we say in Persian -- taking turns to push each other. We find a grassy patch and die in the sun.

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Book of the day

Journey from the Land of No
A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran

By Roya Hakakian

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