Mar 29, 2006

LONDON – I wedged onto the Underground at rush hour, bolting Bath-London for a media-luvvie cocktail party. Standing room only – and not much of it; sod's law.

A savvy traveler had cracked the window, gusting stale tunnel-air through the carriage. My long hair flowed in the breeze, caressing the bald chap sardined in front of me. I couldn't maneuver my arms enough to knot a bun.

This oddly intimate moment stretched three minutes, five ... then six. Someone had to break the twitchy silence.

"In a lot of places, you'd have to pay good money for this," I observed.

Guffaws all around. "Hey, at least he can remember what it's like to have hair," a friend teased.

"Always happy to oblige."


Imagine this scene exported elsewhere. In New York, someone would be pepper-sprayed. In Japan, we could be engaged already. And in extreme Islamic regions, I might face a ritual stoning for indecent exposure and sexual assault.

All this made a few awkward jokes a mild price for fresh-ish air.


The Journobiz party was tame in comparison: several hundred journalists indulging their chattering-class tendencies over free plonk. Amusingly, the second person I met was Chris Alden, the British-Cypriot journalist who briefly filled The Athens News post I fled.

Well, to be accurate, I rejected a permanent-job offer after ten months of visa limbo. Ultimately, this chain of events led to the export of two feral cats from Greece and the adoption of two more in the Northwest, so the sum of the world's happiness is much greater than before. No bad result, really.

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