In the mornings when it was time for work, Best Beloved, the Businessman went on his way to the City of London. 'Member it wasn't Southwark, or Islington, or Knightsbridge but the 'sclusively professional, stylish, shiny Square Mile, where there was much money and posh cars and 'sclusive bars. The Trader and the Banker and the Cityboy worked there too; and they were 'sclusively dressed like they had money and posh cars and could get into all of the 'sclusive bars, but the Businessman was the best dressed of any of the people in the financial district, and he fit in best of all in the flashy bars, with his flashy car sat outside. This was very bad for the Trader and the Cityboy; for he would lie in wait in a 'sclusive flashy bar with an expensive drink and his platinum card, and when the Cityboy or the Trader or the Banker came by with a nice looking lady-friend he would cock block them right out of their one night stands. He would indeed!
After a long time – men live for ever so long when they have access to botox and hair-transplants – they learned to avoid anything that looked like a well-dressed, monied Businessman; and bit by bit – the Cityboy began first because he was a bit more of a geezer – they went away from the Square Mile. They searched for weeks and weeks, pub crawls in all of the London districts till they came to Camden Town, 'sclusively full of cheap restaurants and market stalls selling 'handmade' crafts and neon sunglasses and ironic t-shirts and vinyl records; there they found live music bars and dim-looking pubs, in these they hid; and after another long time, what with hanging out in dim-looking pubs and listening to live music and buying vinyl records to impress the middle-class, skinny-jeans-clad ladies in their new locals, the Cityboy grew a shaggy beard, and the Banker grew anti-capitalist political ideals and the Trader began a fairtrade, organic baby-grow enterprise. They wore non-prescription thick-rimmed glasses and skinny jeans, and had their hair cut with a bowl, and began shunning their usual personal grooming regimes; and so, though you could hear them talking about their new fixed-gear push bike and smell their greasy hair, you could very seldom work out which one they were amongst the throngs of alternative 'individuals' at the bar. They had a beautiful time in the dark, sweaty basement bars of Camden Town chatting up girls with art degrees and trust-funds, while the Businessman drove around outside trying to find a place to park his BMW that would be safe from groups protesting the use of fossil fuels, wondering why he couldn't get a chance to make a move on one of these girls with famously low levels of self esteem. At last,he was so desperate that he ordered call girls from numbers he found in telephone boxes, the Businessman, and then he had to visit the GUM clinic. When he was in the waiting room, he read a Vice magazine – 'the Definitive Guide to Enlightening Information', which was quite the most excellent source of news about all of the bands he had never heard of.
Thought the Businessman to himself whilst reading Vice magazine,
“How can I get a girl who wears high-waisted skinny jeans and brogues to speak to me?”
And Vice magazine's Do's and Dont's section fluttered open, it knew.
Then the Businessman began to read this part of the magazine, it said,
“Mate, get a grip, the financial district is no place these hipster chicks want to be hearing about, seriously what are you trying to compensate for with -that- car? These girls don't want to know what your chin looks like and you dress like her dad, sort it out”
So the Businessman left his BMW at home one evening in order to explore Camden Town, taking the tube there instead, which took ever so many days; eventually he saw the piss-stinking tube station and emerged onto the street which was full of head shops and piercing shops and market stalls selling faux leather, all 'sclusively inhabited by punks and mods and androgynous people wearing their grandmother's jumpers and skinny jeans and ironic t-shirts. (Say that quickly aloud, and you will see how very alternative Camden Town must have been.)
The Businessman went into a pub and sat down at the bar, there he tried to find a young lady to buy a drink for.
“What is this,” said the Businessman to himself, “that is so 'sclusively dark and so incredibly sweaty smelling, why would anyone wish to drink here?'
Before he could finish his thought, a girl with a blunt fringe and thick-rimmed glasses took a seat beside him.
“Hello,” said the Businessman, reaching for his platinum card, “ I have lots of money, let me buy you a drink”
The girl ignored the Businessman and, turning herself away from him, ordered her own drink (she was a feminist, you see). The Businessman was shocked and surprised, never before had his advances been so 'sclusively rebutted. Shortly afterwards, another girl – this time one wearing her dead grandmother's 1950's summer dress (or at least one that H&M had made to look like that) and brown brogues, sat down near the Businessman; this time he approached with great caution.
“Hello, can I buy you a drink? Maybe I could take you shopping for some new clothes too, the ones you are wearing appear to be very dated”
The girl looked at him and, with perfect annunciation (which belied her many years of speech and drama training), “Piss off, you corporate wanker.”
The Businessman had never been so confused in all his life, normally offers of new clothes and the chance to spend on a platinum card had ladies falling at his feet, he thought that leaving the BMW at home would have been enough to bag a girl in one of these dive bars until he saw the Cityboy approaching, all shaggy bearded and looking as though he had been dipped in glue and kicked through Oxfam. The Cityboy alighted upon the barstool next to the girl dressed so 'sclusively in her vintage clothes and began to woo her with talk of independent label bands and radical politics; the girl was wooed almost instantly and began to run her fingers through his enormous ginger beard.
The Businessman remembered the Cityboy from past encounters in swanky bars of the Square Mile, where he had been clean shaven, dressed sharply and would throw his cash about like a drunk juggler; the Businessman also remembered the innumerable times when he had taken great pleasure in cock blocking the Cityboy, exactly as the Cityboy had done him just this instant.
“Well,” thought the Businessman to himself “isn't this a fine situation, beaten at my own game. This simply won't do... I am going to take Vice magazine's advice, I must hide my chin beneath an unkempt beard and dress like I have found my clothes in a bin; only then will I be able to get my own back on the Cityboy and the Trader!”
(The Trader, incidentally, had copped off with a girl wearing thick-rimmed glasses and her hair in a blunt fringe, who may or may not have been the girl of the Businessman's earlier failed flirtation attempt, he couldn't tell as they all looked alike)
The next day, which was a Saturday and his day off, the Businessman took himself to Shoreditch for an explore and to buy some truly horrible clothes then, over the next few months, he cultivated a rather impressive (to girls trying to upset their fathers) beard. From then on, he would visit Camden Town on a Friday night, after going home from work to drop off his BMW and to change into one of his many new outfits (bought 'sclusively from charity shops), to woo many a girl with tales of rare vinyl record finds and how he discovered his gluten allergy and by showing them the moustache tattoo he had on the inside of his index fingers (which he meticulously re-applied with marker pen each Friday evening before leaving the house).
And so he lived happily ever afterward, Best Beloved, always sure to go back to their place after last orders of course, lest they discover his BMW. That is all.
This work was inspired by one of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, “How the Leopard got his Spots”.