(A party in Stockholm)
A meatball hit me in the head and I felt a bit aggrieved.
Swiveling around, viagra as opposed to slowly turning (to show my hidden enemy that I was in fact, for sale a foe to be reckoned with), I scanned the party for my sure throwing attacker, only to find my immediate view filled by a cheerful drinker from London lying about his age to two French girls. He seemed to be making some ground and threw me a merry wink before stretching out a paw for me to shake as I stood before him. “Damn it, Churchill!”, I thought, taking his hand. “Never shake hands with a man in the wake of a frozen food assault!”
Returning to the task at hand, I tried to get to grips with the crime scene. Our apartment was full of drink and music, the people floated between the two, dancing and dodging around it all. A group of French people stood by a corner window, smoking nonchalant despite the spread of general decadence through the place – suspicious enough when you consider that’s exactly where any stereotyping investigator would expect them to be. A good place to start.
Now, I speak ok French, but for the time being, the less they know about me the better. “Bonjour amigos,” I say (playing the fool), only to find myself cursing the damn international vibe of the party when a spritely Spaniard steps forward from the smoke and greets me with a happy, “hola! How is your head?” Not to be put off by this latest twist in the plot, I turn my thumbs out the sides of my pockets to remind her and anyone that could be watching that I mean business. “Bueno amigo! Are you enjoying the party?” I reply, and she nods furiously above an almighty grin. I give her a nod, wondering if all Spaniards are as enthusiastic or if she is just a bit crazy, and take a look around the group.
Most of them are quite small, even for girls, except for one tall beautiful Parisian watching things develop from the very furthest shadow of the corner. I find myself thinking that that the throw felt as if it came from a height, something that seems to rule out all but the Parisian, who looks like she might throw up at the thought of a meatball… It couldn’t have been them. Pretending to speak Irish, I laugh, wave and spin around, my eye caught by a movement near the door.
I surf my way through the dance floor/living room, whistling inconspicuously as I pass the kissing strangers and barely-moving bad dancers. Stopping before an Ethiopian and Canadian who are comparing beers far too heatedly to have had anything to do with my recent misfortune, I peer round the open door frame into the corridor off our kitchen.
It’s a long asylum-style corridor, the kind that usually has you scared and looking over your shoulder when you find yourself walking down it for a glass of water on nights you can’t sleep. Tonight it’s different. The blinking bright lights are covered in red and green paper, the spaces along the walls between the twelve bedroom doors are filled with chairs and sofas. It’s a carnival from a bad scary movie, a seedy street in Amsterdam. Right now it’s dominated by stylish Swedes sliding onto each others knees on the sofas. I try and block it all out, narrowing my eyes in search of my elusive assailant, but a skinny, hair-slicked-back, fast-talking Swede grabs me by the shoulder.
“Hej man! I ‘ere ou’r fram Iearland?!” His girl swings her legs over his, she leans forward and joins in. “Yea! Youur Maria’s husemat!” God damn Swedes! For the most part they seem a bit reserved, carrying life off with a floating ease, but tonight they’re excited. “I am indeed,” I say, looking over the girl’s blonde head into the depths of the corner where an argument is breaking out. “Sow kwhere zis youur beer?” (Here comes the stereotype…) “Yea,” continues the girl, “zif ou haavve noo beer ou ayr nouut Irishh!”
I think about it. On the one hand, they are almost certainly right, though maybe not in the way they think. The two guys arguing down the corridor walk up it now, each with an arm over the shoulder of the other. I should have a beer in my hand. Not just because I am Irish, but because it’s the second week of a new term at college in Stockholm and there’s a party raging through my corridor, into my living room, and around my kitchen. The whole thing is flying like a rocketing ether-filled hot air balloon and I’m playing Sherlock Holmes searching for a frozen-food thrower – and for what? I throw the Swedes a smile and take off my metaphorical detective coat, telling them I’ll be back, I have to grab a beer.
I spin on my heel and move through the door to my left. As I make for the fridge there’s a group of Irish girls singing in the middle of the living room; a 29 year old from Greece mixing economics over shots near the sink; my Swedish housemate jumping on my back; and the Parisian, looking out, narrow-eyed, from behind her veil of cigarette smoke at the place, shakes to the sound coming through the speakers. Piggybacking my singing housemate through the crowd, the windows bounce the screaming words of the song back at me and the place is alive.