Friday, August 24, 2012

Sketches From A City Lunch

Four men had gathered at their usual lunch venue for their Friday Review as they often referred to it. The first, who wore his mufti day clothes of camel jacket with top stitching and patch pockets, coupled with a red and white poplin shirt, had secured a table for two and then pulled the neighbouring table together to make it four. He had then spent the time waiting for the remaining guests by texting them on SMS and WhatsApp to ensure that he did not look foolish having merged the tables. Eventually Francis arrived in his navy power suit and white twill shirt, his initials embroidered in his liver in white, his shoes black and well-polished. He was holding his Blackberry as though it was foreign to his hands, placing it in his inside breast pocket as he seated himself. The two were quiet as they waited for the remaining two to join; and only once all four were seated did a familiar rapport begin to take hold on the conversation.

“Yesterday lunch time at Ucello…” began Damien.
“Where, at the Ivy Pool?” interjected Rich.
“Yes, yesterday, we were there for lunch and the sun was out and already the girls were looking smoking hot!”
“Ahhahahaaha” chuckled the rest in unison.
“Not bad on the next table Franco” said Rich.
“Uh, Ivy pool bar is so trashy” said Simon.
“I hear it is because they have Men’s Gallery there that they just tell all the girls to come up at lunch. That’s what I heard” said Rich with quiet authority.
“Well, what do I care, I mean, it’s eye candy at the end of the day, I am not intending to take them home to meet my mother, or my wife for that matter” chortled Damien.
“Quite right, quite right” said Franco. “Trouble with eye candy is that’s what it is, just eye candy, you can’t do anything to it”.
Although there was a common agreement amongst the married men that he was correct – they ignored Francis’ comment believing it was stating too much the obvious.
“It would just be great if we could trade places with Simon, he could have the comfort of our homely lives and we could use his cock for a Friday night, swap back on Saturday” said Francis, and again, his comments, though heard, were quietly ignored momentarily.
“Not a chance, Si’s life sounds way too hectic for me” said Damien “I mean you’ve been dumping girls left right and centre these last few weeks, haven’t you”.
“Not mention heavy on the wallet, I imagine” added Rich.
Simon, who was rather quiet when he was sober responded dryly “it’s actually cheaper to take a girl out and have a three course dinner and drive her home, maybe get invited up, than it is to go out with the boys from the office for drinks. You go out with a couple of bankers and they all want to buy shots and champagne and big note themselves in front of the girls and the next morning you just have credit card slip after credit card slip and you didn’t even get laid. I mean, you can spend 700 dollars over a couple of rounds of cocktails. Now, you can go to any top restaurant in Sydney and have a great dinner with matching wines and still come home with money in the pocket.”
“Oh ah, we missed the core issue of the week” said Francis over the clattering of cutlery which fell from the neighbouring table and the gradual increase of chatter sound which came not only from their table but from the gathering crowd of the lunch hour rush.
“How was your trip back?” asked Rich to Damien.
“I did a lot of shopping”
“Plus everything is on sale”
“Yeah, I do to, mostly because I get all the VAT back and I can…”
“We missed the core issue” said Francis again, lifting his fat head off the plate and opening his mouth again to speak whilst continuing to chew his salad. “We missed the core issue which is that bloody legend Harry! In Vegas! What a legend! I mean,  it’s made my week”
“ I went to Rockpool the other day” said Simon.
“I feel very sorry for the guy, why shouldn’t he go round and get naked if he wants – that’s what I would do if I was single and a prince.”
“Strip billiards, that’s a great game” added Simon and immediately the others looked to one another to verify whether they believed Simon had ever been afforded the opportunity to play.
“I could not work out whether the girl was hot or not”
“She must have been”
“She had a pretty tight body”
“I mean it’s all over the web”
“The Sun is apparently printing the pictures tomorrow”
“I thought it was the Telegraph who was going to print them”
“No, the Sun, they will”
“It’s draconian if you don’t publish them” said Francis, believing he finally had something worthy of consideration. He held off adding anything to see how the others might respond.
“Well” said Rich, embarking on his considered tone, “they have asked for the press to respect his right to privacy, I can’t see why not, it was a private hotel suite, he was not in the public view, it is none of the business of the rest of the world, but yes, I mean, if everyone else in the world can publish it, then yes, the English should have a right to see the same content”
“Yes” said Francis with a mouth full of ruccola and masticating quickly to allow himself to add his next point, “yes, a bit stupid if you can log onto every website around the world except those in your own country to see the photos. May as well live in China then.”
“The one downside to being a prince like that is that you would not be able to have unprotected sex” said Damien, who was often known to mix some quirk into his English accented rhetoric.
“Mmm” all agreed.
“Have you heard that Elizabeth Murdoch gave a lecture in the UK, the Taggart thingamajig, in which she praised the BBC, totally contradicting her brother”
“How does she contradict him?”
“It’s not just about profit, BBC is a great institution, journalists should be free to write the content they want to without political or management interference”
“Maybe it’s a ploy by Rupert to undercut one and then get the other onto the board as the new light”
“That would be very Machiavellian’ said Francis, believing that for a second time in the course of the lunch he had found the right word to play into the right context and then he fell silent again.
“She owned Shine”
“She was bought out by News”
“She's not head of News”
“No, she owned Shine”
“She doesn’t want a seat”
“It comes down to this” said Damien, pulling the conversation back into line, “if women were running the world, there would be a lot less war. Men with their macho bullshit, it’s just constant conflict. James was a scotch drinker, James was into kung fu… You see the difference”.
“I’m not sure about that Damo” said Rich.
“Trust me, the world would be a lot safer if we had women in charge”.
“Did you see the film Animal Kingdom?”
“Did you see these gits in the United States talking about legitimate rape? Excellent choice of words! Bloody morons”.
“Women are the reason we go to war to start with I think” said Francis, nobody listened. He wanted to add his reasons why, but the conversation moved too quickly.
“I can’t believe abortion is still an election issue there! It’s ridiculous that Romney has to articulate his position on abortion and rape. On the one hand they are the most progressive nation in the world, on the other they are still in the dark ages”.
“Anti-rape, for abortion”
“What? Who is?”
“Depends on what constitutes ‘rape’, I mean in Sweden sex without a condom can be considered ‘rape’. If you consider that a girl might consent to sex and you didn’t use a condom and she finds out afterwards and then cries rape, man, that’s fuckin’ bullshit. That’s insane that you can go to jail for that’.
“Well, what are the Swedes doing in that case?”
“The other thing is this, I don’t think date rape should be put into the same category as violent rape. I am not saying that….”
“Wooo, wooo hold up there”
“…No, let me finish, I am not saying that, well, it never happened to me, but say for example you know when you were in your early twenties, you know, you’ve at the snow, you’re drunk and you’re having sex with a girl that tells you she oughtn’t too, that she has a boyfriend and that she is feeling a little guilty, the consent, can be on and off. She wants it, she doesn’t want. That must be classed differently from somebody who is pinned down in a back alley by a group of strange men”
“You mean like Julian Assange”
“They should send the fuckin’ the SAS in there and get him out. End of story.”
“Now, hang on there, you can’t just….” Said Francis.
“No you hang on there, I’m sorry” ,continued Damien, “if you can’t respect the simple rule of law, and we’re talking about Sweden of all places, if you are so convinced you are innocent, then go back and fight the charges, no, I don’t agree”.
“I just can’t understand what he is in so much trouble for” asked Simon.
“Because once he lands on Swedish soil they will send him straight to the USA” said Francis.
“Oh that is bullshit!” said Rich, “why would they do that, the world has moved past this issue. The accused offence is in Sweden, that’s where it need be stopped. It’s not a global conspiracy for the US”.
“Yeah, they’re gonna put the bag over his head and take him to the Middle East to be tortured”
“Besides, he is not the guilty one, he just provided the site for the content, the content itself came from the US military guy”
“No, but he is said to have been on the phone working with the guy, so that changes the legality of the situation. He is an accomplice”.
“That’s not all true about the US” said Rich, “I was reading in Time magazine last week that a number of US draft dodgers in the US went to Sweden to escape conscription for Vietnam and the Swedish courts refused to extradite them.
“Time ay? That is bullshit, I didn’t see that anywhere in Time”
“Well, what difference does it make, whether it was Time or the New Yorker or The Times London, I read it”
“It makes a difference said Damien, it makes a helluva difference. I can’t build legal cases on what I thought to be my source”.
“I think you are wrong about the whole thing, I think you underestimate how high this goes” began Francis on his tangent regardless of the consequences.
“This is not some fucking blockbuster Franco” said Damien.
“I think you fail to understand how much the US must hate him. He totally humiliated them with the content he published. I read a lot of the cables.”
“Yeah, so what, the world has moved on from it”.
“It is treason” said Francis.
“Someone else stole it, he did not do anything wrong, but the only legal issue is that if he publishes it and then someone is hurt or killed by that information being handed over, then this is a grey area legally” said Rich.
“He was on the phone to Bradley Manning”
“Bradley Manning just put it on an iPod”.
“Did he even have sex with her in the bedroom anyway?” asked Simon.
“Yes, that’s a whole other kettle of fish” said Damien.
“May I clear the table?” asked the waiter.
“Coffees, who’s on for a canoli?”
The fingers went up.
“I want custard, I can’t have the ricotta” said Rich.
“Three ricotta, two piccolo lattes, one espresso thanks” said Rich.
“And then the bill” said Simon, who immediately put down twenty dollars onto the table. “ I have to go soon, I have a conference call with Tokyo, Franco, this is my share, can you fix it up. I will text you tonight”.
“Oh come on, you can’t possibly have to go” chorted Damien.
“Can I say something please, I really need to say something, can I please say something” said Francis. Simon was ready to move but stayed still to hear Francis’ last comment.
“…If you take a woman home and you have sex with her, consensual, and then in wee hours of the morning you lean over and you give her another nudge, and you go in for another insertion_”
“Is that what you call it, an insertion? Wow, you must get a lot of action”
“I am trying to be technical”
“It must be a delight for Helen when you get busy”
“Oh shut up Damien, I have a point…. Is that ‘rape’? Can she honestly be asleep and not notice that you have rolled on top of her? And if there is no resistance?”
“Do you know what the legal definition of rape is? Do you know what is extends to? If you are on top of a woman and having sex and during intercourse she says stop and you continue for even a moment, you have raped her.”
“If she says ‘no’ or ‘stop’ and you continue that is rape. Period” said Damien.
“Yes, but sometimes no means yes” retorted Rich, it was his age old reference to a judgement from an Australian court.
“Actually, I can tell you that sometimes you are truly not wrong Rich. There was this one time…”
By now Simon had left the conversation and the remaining four eyes universally trained themselves on Francis, peering at him with peels of laughter and scorn ready at the mount.
“…. Let me finish, I mean to say, I have been in situations where a girl says ‘oh, it’s too soon, I am not ready… I don’t want you to think I am a slut…. ‘ etc etc, and then the moment you chalk the cue and it’s in, you are not met with an ounce of resistance’.
“You should consider taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in Sydney my friend”.
The bill came and the men split the bill four ways and wished each other a pleasant weekend.
“Francis, come over on Sunday and I will give you that jacket otherwise I am going to give it away. It’s a shame, it’s just too small and I can’t send it back. You will love it.”
“There is a difference you know, between full sleep and half asleep. We’ve all had sex when we’re half asleep, maybe Francis has a point” said Damien trying to not isolate Francis too much.
“A bien tot boys, I really have to run”.

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