P. Weil (pronounced Vile) objects to being referred to this way because he thinks it makes him sound like a bit-part player, when he aspires to be a leading man. He begs for a new blog name that will make him sound cool and alluring. In this, as in so many things, he is to be disappointed.
P.Weil and I are reading a new book by Northern Ireland writer Gareth Russell. Popular is set in a Belfast grammar school (selective, but state-run) and chronicles the teen sexploits of the Malone set. For those unfamiliar with Malone, be assured that this stretch of the city which runs (roughly) from the King’s Hall, Balmoral to the Bot contains Belfast’s very best addresses.
Although my own Belfast grammar school days ended the year Margaret Thatcher was first elected (look it up younger readers, look it up) I recognize much in the book. “But you were at school before sexting was invented” said P. Weil “and you didn’t even live in Malone” . I looked at him with the contempt that only a Queen B(iatch) can give a chronically uncoordinated nerd. “Girl group dynamics don’t change” I explained loftily “and Malone is more a mindset than a pin on the map”
P. Weil maintains that his school did not have a Malone set but I think that he was so far away from Popular that he failed to realize it existed. I have recommended that he write a book called Unpopular and I think the following incidents from only 24 hours in his company in California will illustrate why.
- When I arrived in San Diego the vile one greeted me wearing an ancient polo shirt that he had on inside out. Very unbeau (in the parlance of Popular)
- On my instructions, he had bought cool(ish) tennis shoes so that he would have proper resort footwear. He had invested in some white socks to go with these, having been told off for wearing black socks with unseemly too-short shorts on a boating trip on a previous occasion. Sadly, the white socks appeared under sandals last night. Eye roll, tongue click, big sigh.
- Usually P Weil is wise to cover his feet for normally they are cratered and fissured and cry out for moisturizer much as the Malone set crave Moet Chandon. I frog marched him to a nail salon for a pedicure yesterday only to discover that he is abnormally ticklish. His spastic flailing and facial contortions as the foot masseuse set about him with her pumice were matched only by his squeals of orgiastic delight when he spotted the San Diego tram system and a model railway shop (fortunately closed on Mondays)
- It gets worse. Our route to Laguna Beach took us past the town of San Clemente “The San Clemente?” asked P. Weil breathlessly “I’ve never heard of it” I replied “You ARE joking?” was his excited response, but I wasn’t. It turns out that San Clemente was once home to President Richard Nixon, first deified by P. Weil in 1960 because the Presidential candidate was too unattractive for TV, bad at sport and completely uncoordinated. The nerd’s love of Nixon grew at Cambridge a decade later when the social outcast realized he could make a statement against the Oxbridge Malone Rangers by speaking his love for the dark-jowled President in disgrace. Later, the Weil one met the President while filming a TV documentary and pointed out that the two had much in common. Nixon couldn’t see the similarity “Neither of us can work tape-recorders properly” said the techno incompetent. P. Weil avers that the wily former resident of the White House cracked a smile. All of this means that we are off to San Clemente this afternoon to dine at a restaurant supposedly frequented by Tricky Dicky and the long-suffering Pat. P. Weil has requested the President’s favorite table. Unpopular: look for it in all good bookshops in time for Chanukkah.
END NOTE: P. Weil has requested an addendum to the above. “If I am so unpopular” he says “how was I able to persuade the most beautiful girl in the school to take part in my puppet plays?” The poor fool does not realize that a mention of puppet plays does not exactly make the case for cool. He also appears to be ignorant of girl logic: the class nerd can be countenanced if he is promising to propel one to stardom. Take Spielberg and Woody Allen. Sadly however P Weil’s schoolboy crush remains undiscovered. At least he has stopped penning the puppet plays.