“I loathed myself again. My heart pounded beneath my stupid blousy gay shirt, and as ever, I found it absurd that I had done this a thousand times yet still battled with the same weary desire to be veiled in the shadows of a corner, to keep out of everyoneâ€™s way and let them enjoy themselves in peace.
I was conscious that the grey eyes of the French barman, who had now seen me emerge from the disabled toilet three times in the last fifteen minutes, were resting on me with an appropriately mixed signal of curiosity, admonishment and condescension.
This glance, on reflection, may have simply been the natural look of a Frenchman abroad, but it struck me at the time as a recognition of my ludicrously transparent capacity for procrastination, and my self-hatred ratcheted up another notch, making it even more difficult to shake myself from the immobilising stupor.
For all he knows, I have to prepare mentally and take time to choose my spectators with care and precision. So with a serious expression I surveyed the restaurant for the hundredth time and flipped over the deck of cards in my hand.