Went down to London on Friday for Kake's weekend-long party. Travelled down there with lnr and ewx -- nice to have more company on the journey, particularly as sion_a was being very stressed about all the travel. The journey wasn't too bad on the whole except that they'd shut King's Cross tube station, so we had to walk to Euston, and by that time my back was killing me (the full 20-litre rucksack didn't help). Still we got there in the end (our arrival en masse resulting in the observation that "Cambridge has arrived!"), and daneel_olivaw (who is practically Cambridge-person-by-adoption now) arrived not long after.
It was great to finally meet marnameow in real life, and to meet Caro and Pete(?) (even if I did make an idiot of myself flirting with Caro -- but sometimes it's fun to flirt with people who you know aren't available).
I'm having trouble remembering what happened when, as a lot of the weekend has disappeared into an alcoholic haze. Friday involved pizza, and a game of "I have never" which descended into the realms of WTMI rather more quickly than usual. (jiggery_pokery's recent post makes me think I should perhaps write something about "I have never" at a later date...)
On Saturday we went to Borough Market to buy interesting food. Borough Market is wonderful -- they sell every kind of food imaginable, and I kept being tempted by beautiful vegetables that I didn't have the faintest idea how to use, and expensive chocolates that I really didn't need. Managed to be quite restrained in the end, although I did buy heaps of lovely beer. We'd been given a shopping list of stuff to buy for the people who wanted to cook specific things, and this list included crab meat (because marnameow wanted to make sushi). However, they didn't seem to have any crab meat -- only live crabs. doop was being indecisive about whether or not to get a live crab, and I persuaded him into it, because I thought it'd be more interesting -- and indeed it was. Forgive me, but I'm now going to go into great detail about the killing of a crab ... vegetarians may want to look away now.
When we'd bought the crab, I insisted that we had to give it a name. It seemed important to me to prove that even if we'd named the creature, we'd still be able to eat it; otherwise it would have felt like I was deluding myself that it wasn't a real, living, breathing animal. So we called it Irving (though it was later shown to be female) and carried it in a plastic bag all the way back home. (I suppose people must have carried live crabs on the underground before, but it seemed like a very funny thing to do at the time.) We had to wait a while before someone turned up with a big enough pan to fit the crab into, during which time Irving sat on top of the freezer, moving a little bit occasionally. He didn't look very well, to be honest, and I wanted to put him out of his misery as soon as possible.
Eventually the time came to consign Irving to the big pan of boiling water. It's surprisingly awkward to get a crab into a pan, particularly when you're worrying that it might suddenly realise what you're about to do to it, and try to escape or attack or something. Not that it looked lively enough to do either, but you never know. In the end we just tipped it into the pan, put the lid on, and watched as its legs floated upwards and the visible bits of its flesh turned white. I hoped that death-by-boiling-water was reasonably quick, though Beckett suggests that it isn't.
Once Irving was done, we had the fun task of dismembering him and extracting the edible bits. I can honestly say that I've never had so much fun from a fish-counter. I wondered if I'd be squicked by pulling the crab to bits, having seen it alive and moving around, but it honestly didn't bother me at all. And it was fascinating to be able to see all the various bits of its anatomy, even if we weren't always entirely sure what those bits did. Particularly notable were some wonderful lung-like-things which were roughly cone-shaped, greyish-white, and looked like they were slightly ridged, but on closer inspection turned out to be made of hundreds of flappy flanges. There was also some brownish stuff inside the shell which looked like random visceral goop but when it was placed in cold water turned out to consist of thousands of tiny tendrils. We were puzzled for a while by the heaps of bright red stuff that we were finding, and ended up throwing it away, but apparently it was just unfertilised eggs and was entirely edible. (This was the point at which we realised that Irving had in fact been a lady crab.) I'm not over-keen on fish roe generally though, so I probably wasn't missing much.
I must say, I now have a lot of respect for people who prepare crab in restaurants and so on; and I also see why the damned stuff is so expensive. It took me and doop hours to extract a tiny bowl of crabmeat from an ever-growing heap of fragments of bone, shell, and random viscera -- although I suspect that's partly because we got so carried away with enthusiasm for examining and poking at the various innards.
So anyway... after 24 years of eating animals, that's the first time I've actually killed one. I have a claw as a trophy. :-) I'd be interested to see if I was as unbothered about killing something a little more "cute" and/or mammalian ... perhaps a rabbit or something.
sion_a now thinks I am scary. I can't imagine why.
Back to the party... while doop and I were going into rhapsodies about the internal organs of crustacea, and scaring off a lot of other people in the process, a lot of more normal cooking was going on. marnameow made absolutely fantastic sushi, and various people made some nice pasta salads and suchlike. Thank you to whoever made them, particularly since I took three tupperwares full of leftovers home with me, and have just had the leftover potato salad for lunch. :-)
As the afternoon progressed there was less cooking and more drinking. A lot more drinking. I must say that my memories of most of the conversations I had that evening are a bit hazy... I remember a fair amount of obvious flirting with marnameow, which was nice (and I hope she didn't mind me behaving like a drunken slapper towards her); I remember having a long serious-ish conversation with julietk, the seriousness of which was slightly dented by the fact that we were both being rather giggly and flirty (and I hope she didn't mind me behaving like a drunken slapper towards her, either... um, there seems to be a pattern developing here) ... And I remember having a very weird conversation with Ingvar, who seemed to be alternating between trying to pull me, and explaining how monogamous he was. He then digressed onto the subject of cooking, and then on to killing people, and how he'd go about killing me. With demonstrations. Fortunately I got rescued before the conversation got any weirder ...
I didn't see much of daneel_olivaw during the Saturday evening, which was probably largely my fault; I felt like he was trying to cling to me a bit [which in retrospect a) probably wasn't true, & was probably just me being paranoid and edgy; and b) was quite understandable if he was clinging since he didn't know that many other people there!] and this was making me feel pretty twitchy. Having since read his LJ account of the party I feel horribly guilty about neglecting him so badly. :-( The problem is when I'm at a party I don't tend to want to just curl up in a corner with one person ... the way I see it, there wouldn't be much point in going to a party if I was going to do that. If I'm at a party where there's lots of people, I want to talk to lots of people. Also, I tend to want to have, well, partyish conversations at parties, rather than conversations about depression. And, above all, I don't really like having to try to be responsible for someone else's social interactions as well as my own. I guess that makes me a very selfish person and a pretty crap friend. :-(
Also feel in retrospect like I was neglecting lnr badly; I noticed she was being a bit mopey but she said she was just tired, and then I kind of got dragged into the maelstrom of general party drunkenness and loudness, and I'm not very good at noticing emotional subtleties once I get into that state. ... I just wish I was better at looking after people who are unhappy. :-/
Finally got to bed some time around 6am, and slept until midday, at which point I realised that we were probably going to have to abandon our (not-very-concrete) plans to go to BodyWorlds and/or the London Fetish Fair on Sunday afternoon. Certainly I was far too hungover to contemplate doing anything so energetic. Instead I pottered around, read the papers, and marvelled at marnameow's knowledge of Barbie dolls. "McDonalds Barbie" is just horrifying, particularly the "ethnic" version ("Hey, black kids, you too can aspire to the minimum wage!").
sion_a and I made our way back eventually in the late afternoon; I fell asleep on the tube. Got an early night for once, and slept so soundly that I didn't even wake up when sion_a came to bed. Still a bit tired now, but then we had to get up quite early, as sion_a had to be back in London again, for work this time. I'm joining him there after work and we're going to (hopefully) really go and see BodyWorlds this time!
Anyway, all in all, good weekend (apart from all the emotional guilt... will deal with that later); thanks to Kake and doop and the rest of London-house for a great party, thanks to all the people who made food, and thanks to all the people who let me flirt drunkenly with them. :-)
Lots of things that I want to wibble about more abstractly as a result of the weekend -- I'll leave them for later, with a few keywords here as reminders to myself. [drinking games & peer pressure; alcohol; parties and depression; flirting/friendship; the london underground; killing things; anatomy as art]