Thirty Thousand Streets

Friday, December 30, 2005


Just popped into Wordsworth books en route to the supermarket, and as has been mentioned in the Camberwell online blog, it is indeed in the midst of its closing down sale, which from a selfish and shot term point of view means 25% of all stock, but also sadly means no more bookshop in Camberwell.

I also read that one of the contributory factors was the fact that there seem to have been ongoing 'rennovations' there since last year – and surely the term rennovations can only be used in the loosest sense of the term as it looks fucking awful, even I imagine without the attractive chipboard cladding which has pretty much concealed the exterior for the year, and put all and sundry off venturing within. Has anyone the lights they've installed? God they're a travesty. For those that haven't borne witness yet, they consist of a double row of harsh bright spotlights pointed directly at the floor and brightly illuminating a spot of ground a foot in diameter.. wasteful and unattractive! And this is what we get in exchange for our bookshop? Thanks.

Thanks a lot.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


I'm back at my flat and its all good. The journey down on the coach was predictably tedious; with the added bonus of carting a bag of stale washing and assorted small presents on the packed 436 from Victoria. I hate journeys home, though actually getting in is fantastic – I almost wanted to kiss the really bad swirly blue 70s carpet in the living room.

Rustled up some pasta and watched Eastenders (such tosh) followed by Tomb Raider, also tosh, but to be honest I'd take Angelina Jolie's 'bee stung' lips over Phil Mitchell's red grimacing face anyday.

I really want to get a good nights sleep. Last night Stockport felt like the North Face of the Eiger. Lay shiverring on my brother's couch until I was woken in the morning by the host of budgies chirping that the 'birdman' of Churchill Street keeps next door.

Earplugs and camomile tea tonight.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

So this is Christmas.

Well, the arse end of it anyway, and it's been a funny old one. Truth be told, coming back to the area I grew up in always makes me feel slightly melancholy, jostling for space with the ghosts from my past that pace the streets round here, in the perpetual drizzle that bathes Stockport.

Every time I come back, I feel at an extra factor's remove from everything around me. Christmas always seems to plunge everything into a supernatural stygian hush, but round here it feels like a veritable ghost town.

Stockport. I heard a while ago that it was the biggest town in England, and was frantically attempting to attain city status by transforming one of its churches into a cathedral; which may be so much apocryphal bullshit, but is also laughable as it would instantly be transformed from a somewhat dismal (in my opinion) northern town, into a city that could probably give Hull a run for its money as one of the crappest places to live in the UK. Actually, that's stretching it a bit, but whats it actually got going for it?

The largest brick structure in Europe (The viaduct)

A big college

Err.. a hat museum.?

Other than that its OK. Reasonably well to do, good employment etc, but coming back I'm reminded of why it was starting to send me under when I lived here. Living in London, the sheer plurality of humanity seems to foster an attitude of studied indifference, or perhaps as my friend Will has it, a "mind your own business" ethos, where everyone gets on with their respective missions at very close quarters, but blinkered to one another, which sounds quite bleak, but is actually somewhat liberating.

If I was given the unenviable task of 'rebranding' Stockport, as Slough have apparently done since 'The Office', I'd have my work cut out, because no-one would want it rebranding, and they'd just as soon settle for something like "Stockport, A Local Place, For Local People"

In London you could walk down the street wearing day-glo furry boots, sporting dreadlocks, wearing full plate armour whilst pushing a pram full of broken dolls, and while you would get some slightly odd looks, some people would almost certainly ignore you as though you'd just activated a Klingon cloaking device (that might just be Camberwell though, so don't quote me on that one)

Stockport seems to breed a really heavily parochial mindset, where anyone behaving slightly 'strangely' (students, foreigners, gays, weirdos etc) is regarded with a faintly xenophobic suspision, and runs the risk of being strung up from the nearest lamppost. I still fing it absolutely hilarious that the regulation townie uniform of stripey top (Henri Lloyd) tracksuit bottoms - importantly, and this cannot be stressed enough - tucked into simpsons socks, along with a pair of 'boater style shoes or trainers, is viewed, admittedly by default, as something to aspire to wear. If Stockport were a football team (and I'm not talking the 'hatters' here) it would be sponsored by Rockport.

The area I'm from, Heaton Moor is even worse, as despite being a very nice residential area, it has its own elite cadre of numb-nuts plastic gangsters, self appointed fake hoods who think that knocking out a bit of weed to their mates qualifies them as working class icons. Wrong, wankers.

A bit of grafitti I once saw at Stockport train station kind of summed it up nicely.

"The Heaton Moor hard men from their middle class backgrounds, lots of mouth when they're in a crowd, but when they're alone they're not so loud"

Made me laugh anyway. So there you go. I love Manchester, and could quite seriously contemplate living back (t)here but and Stockport? We're through like a tunnel.

Well, 'The Italian Job' has just finished, or at least I think so; the specific portion of by brain that can register it has been worn down by too many repeated viewings, a bit like an old C90 cassette. Cliches abound when it comes to Christmas viewing. Personally, I'd like to lob a metaphorical 'gat amonst the pigeons' if I was director at the BBC. There was a show on a couple of years ago about really super adapted predators. One of the featured beasts was the japanese hornet, (which are hard as f*ck by the way) and the show features five of these 'insecticons' butchering a hive of 30,00 bees. I'd just show that. Back to back.

Well I return to London tomorrow, and can't wait, frankly. I'm tired of sleeping on couches. Staying at my brothers is a bit like living in the Ice Station in John Carpenter's 'The Thing'. Blokey, messy, and crucially - very cold (thankfully free of superadaptive extra-terrestrial life though)Intermittently my brother stamps in from the cold, from whatever roof he's been working on in Denton, dressed head to in performance snowboarding gear, and looking like he's just been on some black ops mssion to take down a puppet state in the arctic circle.

One good thing about this Christmas is that I've given up smoking. Seriously. Tore my fags up on boxing day and chucked that shit. Should I feel compelled to buy any in the future, I might just cut out the middle man and mail the money directly to whichever super-rich American arsehole's pockets I'm ultimately lining.

There's now this 'Spelling Bee' type programme on TV. A bit like the film Spellbound, but with this huge disembodied head lurking behind the contestants reading out the words. She's either a kind of avatar of spelling - a bit like the Dixons girl is of cut price electrical goods, or a sphinx like creature who devours the losers after the show.

Right. I'm getting out of here. London, I'll see you tomorrow.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Day

"My Style Is Crazy Fat, Reminiscent of a Whale"

Thus sing A Tribe Called Quest from my brother's stereo. I'm about to drive with him to, ahem, Wales to see my mum and dad.

Exciting times indeed. Went out for the annual pub excursion in Heaton Moor last night, which always consists of going to local pubs and talking to people you've not seen since.. last Christmas Eve.

Anyway later. I'll write when I've got the stamina.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas

Right. I'm back off up north. Behave yourselves.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

NEWSFLASH Funny Chinese Product Sighted in Camberwell.

Ha Ha etc.

The V&A

Today, I decided to go to the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington with my friend Dunc, to kill a few hours in the afternoon. It had been a pretty quiet day. The most exciting bit up to this point being watching half of the slightly duff 70s version of King Kong which I've now seen bits of twice in the last month - the second half first, and the first second - which doesn't really matter as it is slightly wack anyway, and I only really watched it to marvel at how much of an airhead the blonde girl is (Jessica Lang), and how a lumbering, shaggy Jeff Bridges actually makes a slightly more convincing monkey than the fancy dress rental costume we're presented with as the titular ape.

So anyway, the V&A. There was no way I could resist after that, especially as the easiest way there is probably the 345, which is a favourite bus route of mine (and I'm glad to report, still crosses over Battersea bridge).

Way back in March I was seeing a girl I met at a crazy party in a rented office block in Borough complete with an 'in house' band doing funk covers. Twas all too brief alas, but there were a few things that stood out about her.

1. Her name was Lucy.

2. She was from Newcastle, but was very well spoken – not once did she utter 'Howaay Man'.

3. She was an ex lap-dancer.

4. She was a dance student, and on some crazy theatrical course where she did strange things such as research 'the history of the greeting', and bowing, and the things she couldn't tell you about Restoration era clothing e.g. bustles, you could probably have written on the back of an acid tab.

And the V&A was one of the places where she went to research this kind of thing. And I can see why. It's fucking huge and compendious and stuffed with all manner of historical stuff from all corners of the earth – so much in fact that you'd be really hard to absorb it all if you camped out there for a week.

From the entrance hall dominated by a huge colourful glass sculpture by David Chihuly, who I believe also has loads of stuff amongst the plants at Kew Gardens, we proceeded to an exhibit about architecture in Germay and thence to the Chinese exhibition, which featured a whole range of stuff from those itsy shoes women in China used to have to crush their feet to fit into to avoid being beaten and ostracised etc, to paintings and sculptures.

I recently went to an exhibition of old Chinese ink paintings at the British Museum, and have to admit to feeling slighly underwhelmed by the experience – the entire thing was presented in low lighting so as to stop the things fading and crumbling, and as they all seemed to consist of much the same motifs and brush in slightly different monochrome arrangements, I found the entire thing something of an interesting, yet slighly inscrutable squint-fest.

Tastes differ of course, and there seems to be more substantial stuff at the V&A to get your teeth into, and even some modern, more abstract paintings. There was even a token loon, sauntering round and chattering lyrics to himself.

From here we checked out the Japanese gallery whih I loved. Basically the Japanese are uber craftsmen and designers. I NEED a set of elaborate Japanese swords or 'Daisho' , modelled on a sword I saw there with an octopus and crayfish embossed on the sheath. A suit of armour with a moustachioed helmet wouldn't go amiss either. Please Santa? No, a Lynx gift set won't do.
There was also some amazing sculptures and printed fabrics to look at.

From here we went and looked at the Korean stuff, before having a gander at the two halls full of plaster casts of foreign buildings and sculptures; stuff even lightfingered England didn't have the bare faced cheek to try nicking. It has to be said, going to war and sacking Rome actually seems like probably more of a straightforward proposition than doing a cast of most of Trajan's column like someones done here – and guys, you could have fitted Michaelangelo's David on the back of a big enough cart, surely, so that's just lazy. On the other hand, the Greek government is making one hell of a fuss about Elgin's marbles, and that Henry Moore sculpture is only good for scrap now, so maybe it's all for the best.

After that it shut, so we went home, via Somerfield, where a girl at the checkout was telling her mate she liked my scarf. I don't even think this was girl code for something else, and fair enough, it is pretty hawt if I do say so myself.

I also photographed quite an amusing couple of newstands that seem to suggest that one car seems to a particular hotspot for crime in Saaarf London – gotta thank Dunc for spotting that.

I've just gorged on pasta in my usual tomato and pancetta sauce. My ex Hyo-Jin sent me a load of chocolates from Australia the other day. I've only actually eaten one while my housemate Jess fed her face on all but one of the rest which I've got stashed, so am contemplating eating it, but might give it a miss to be honest. Basically they're like Cadbury's Caramels, but minus the 'sexy' rabbit that now seems to be doing voiceovers for Marks and Spencer, its stand-in being a chirpy looking koala, (which I thought was a bit unimaginative – why not a platypuss for example or even that perennial cute favourite the box jellyfish? but then originality aint the name of the game here.. They've changed the name to 'Karamellos' for fucks sakes).

Ahem. Cheers Hyo, anyway.

Right, I'm now going to get on with my Christmas 'E-card', and doing an iTunes playlist for my friend Renee, whos leaving Blighty to return to New York next month.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Just gone to the nicer looking of the Dentists on Camberwell church street, to have the first of three fillings. Opted to have the harder of the standard silver colour fillings because I might as well, y'know.

I'm not scared of the dentist, but the entire experience does feel slightly uncomfortable.. a couple of people staring into your mouth, and by extension up your nose, while they stick a needle your gum then pad out your cheek with a mini tampon. My upper lip feels like a dead slug at the minute, and as you can't put too much weight on it for an hour and a half or so, I'll have to forgoe my customary Monday lunch of half a pound of kola kubes.

Damn you dentist.

Actually very good job, and very professionally done.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Quiet Friday

A quiet friday indeed, and as if it wasn't quiet enough, I used some of it to go and buy earplugs from Boots.

Other than that have mostly been listening to techno (notably the Carl Craig 'Landcruising' album, and the 430 West mix CD, which pounds alond in an endearingly bassy fashion) and trying to do some illustration.

Have returned to an image for a Threadless t-shirt competition I did a while ago but never finished. The theme was 'In Love And Death', and although I didn't get it in on time, and since accidentally deleted it, I decided to rework it. It's not quite finished yet.. I'm not sure it needs the keyline or the type, even if the font is right..

All done in Illustrator, which recently I've been finding a little frustrating. A very powerful package, and exceedingly good for certain applications (eg graphics, logos), but also very time consuming to high end, or very complex stuff. In short, it's not all that intuitive for actual illustrations, ironically.

I think I should focus more on hand drawn stuff for a while, then play with Photoshopping them some. Yeah.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Christmas Do

Last night was the Christmas do for the group which I've been freelancing for within M&C Saatchi on and off since Easter, and considerately, they invited me along. "Eyechild, you shall go to the ball!".

Normally, Christmas bashes are endurance rituals on the scale of the Ironman. Protracted meals and dodgy discos where consuming as much alcohol as possible is necessary to counterract the mind numbing conversation, the obvious tensions simmering beneath the surface, and the glaringly obvious fact that you'd rather be off somewhere with your real mates, or even just watching TV of the order of say, Trinny and Susanna (oh alright, maybe not). At the last place I worked, where you had to part the cobwebs to even see your neighbour and the smell of 'Advertising Old Fart' was cloying; there were times mid way through the evening where I wasn't sure whether I hadn't consumed a poisened breadstick, died and gone to hell, or at least purgatory.

Has to be said, these are a nice bunch though. A lot of young people up for fun, and some 'nice gyal', so some fun was guaranteed.

The evening began in the Waterfront on Formosa Street, Maida Vale or 'Little Venice' as some refer to it; which is also the residency of an ex girlfriend (Maida Vale, not the pub) Despite walking round the block and taking my time getting there I still managed to be the first person there.. And look like a proper herbert.

From there it was onto a barge which went up river to Camden and back. There was a buffet, a free bar, crackers, and people dancing. People were singing badly - to the tune of "We Are Sailing".

"We are retail, super retail, no-one likes us, we don't care"

Seriously, you had to be there. There was also a slighly awkward "Dance Off", where if this was Breakdance the movie, Shabba Doo would be headspinning in middle in a Kangol hat and lime green baggy pants. As it was, it consisted of slighly stilted dance moves performed by people who were not yet kaned enough to not care if they looked like pricks or not.

From there, the hardcore progressed to a pub in Soho – Digress I believe, where I have vague recollections of attempting to breakdance and making eyes at the account executive I really like (she's dreeaamy yo).

Woke up today, and my brain felt like it had been dropped at the end of a corridor full of angry bees. I had some toast spread with vegemite, and as the butter I stole from the fridge was all cold and hard, I popped it in the microwave to warm it up, forgetting it was Lurpak and hence had a reflective wrapper. It lit up like a christmas tree and started smoking, making ominous crackling sounds. I manged to wrestle it out on time, but I think on balance if I was masquerading as a DC Supervillain, I couldn't legitimately claim to be 'Brainiac' after that one.

My bedroom also smelt of pets, but I've lit an incense stick so everything's copasetic yo.

Anyway. Went for a mooch round Dulwich, and ate a stir fry. I might go and see my mate Dunc in a minute.

God I'm bored. With no work at the minute, I'm trying to use the time to do my own stuff, but it does feel a little like I'm rattling round in my flat, whilst everbody else is in festive wind down mode at work around me. No fair. I'm not sure whether to take it as an opportunity to piss off up north for an extended hiatus, or go and stay in a barn in Wales with my mum and dad (no really). In the first case I'll be sleeping on couches and going to the pub lots, and in the second I'll be in a barn in Wales with my mum and dad.

Decisions.. *sigh*

Saturday, December 10, 2005

New T-Shirt design

Here's something I cooked up for a competition on the Threadless website. Go vote high for it. You know you want to..

My Submission

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Hermits Cave, Camberwell.

Man, I love the hermits cave. Unashamedly spit and sawdust it sits on its corner of Camberwell church street, with the uncomplicated agenda of serving good beer in a unpretentious environment. There seems to be a trend these days, especially in London but equally true elsewhere, to gentrify anything that doesn't move. To give it some ersatz designer chic, hire some DJs, and serve 'gastro pub' style food drizzled in something and bedecked in rocket... which is all very good if you do this kind of thing exceptionally well, but just another hook to hang your hat on otherwise (hook probably bought at Habitat).

I suppose you could argue that this kind of environment is more modern, female friendly etc, but what is inarguable is that in any area in London, you'd be lucky to find a nice pub which isn't harbouring some bar-like aspirations, with one eye on the profit margins. In short, decent pubs are in short supply.

Into this vacancy steps the Hermits Cave, and as me and my friend Will mused over beers one Thursday it's pretty much the Platonic Ideal of what a boozer should be. Unpretentious and cosy, beery and smoky. It's also got a wistfull greek looking hermit on the sign, probably regretting the entire solitude gig and wishing he was in the pub.

Reasons to like the Hermits Cave:

First off, the beer in the Hermits is very well kept. I don't know much about whatever industry aracana describes the art of selling a good pint as, but they do it.

Second is the music policy: There isn't one, or indeed any music – which I actually find suprisingly refreshing. Let's face it, most people like music – who hasn't at one time written 'music' under interests on their CV.?* But it can ocasionally be somewhat trying when some aspiring mixmeister is drowning out your conversation with his 'selection'. The calibre of DJ's in bars in Camberwell is passable, but of somewhat unimaginative stock (If I hear 'Billie Jean' or 'Sex Machine' much more I'm probably going shit kittens out of my neck) so it makes for a nice change not having to shout above the soundtrack to a wedding reception circa 1970 onwards.

Thirdly, the decor – or lack of it. There's your usual amount of tat that any self respecting pub accrues over the years, and some nice cut-glass panels in the doors, but no zinc topped bar, no substandard art, no post-modern furniture garnered from a reclamation yard, just chairs and tables and a respectable amount too. And a fire. And no slightly menacing guy brandishing lollipops and cologne in the toilets.

As for the food.. well I haven't got a clue actually, it's probably alright, but who cares. I was slightly suprised to find a pub in London not yet serving Thai food, but I'll get over it. It's a pub and It serves crisps and nuts too, and I might petition them to start selling pickled eggs from a huge jar actually positioned on the bar.

Finally: the crowd who come here seem like a generally nice mix of young and old, professional and studenty, and nobody seems too fussed what trainers you're wearing. Basically what you've got right here is your quintessential local boozer, and it's proper.


Thursday, December 08, 2005


After two days rest and relaxation and general chill I fell off the wagon with a vengeance last night, cementing my pact with alcohol with lashings of the sauce and Marlboro 'lights'.

I feel typically hung over. My skin feels like a pez dispenser, with weird humours seeping out of every pore, and the aroma of the pub last night shrouding me (I'm sure) like Pigpen from Charly Brown's dustcloud. I just warmed up a couple of Pain o' Chocolat I had in the fridge, then had a sudden crisis of confidence and opted instead for toast.

Actually it's not that bad. But unfortunately I've said I'll got for 'drinks & nibbles' with a recruitment agency this evening, a pleasure I could probably forgoe at the best of times but which seems at the minute massively less preferable to say, playing snap with a nest of pit vipers.

To counteract this, I might make an Itunes playlist comprised solely of Daniel Beddingfields 'Gotta Get Thru This', while drinking espresso through my eyes. Or I might not.


Monday, December 05, 2005


A quiet day indeed. No work so far this week, so spent a couple of hours doing my turn on the flat cleaning rota. Braved cleaning the oven using 'Mr Muscle', whose use must surely be contravened by some UN resolution.. After applying it my throat was tingling for a good five minutes or so. Must remember to spray it in the oven next time. Also went out and did some shopping for my ill housemate, who is currently laid low by the flu, and mainlining olbas oil in the kitchen as I write this.

Then went to Brixton on the 35, my aim being to see if some stuff I'd been involved with in the early stages of design for a major high street chain was instore. It wasn't, so that was a fine waste of time right there. Bought some chorizo from a deli under the arches, and returned to make a sausage and chickpea stew.. which was nice.

Just watched a harrowing programme thing on TV about the Tsunami at the beginning of the year, lots of which consisted of authentic footage from people's holiday videos, whose sunny content makes for uneasy viewing when you're aware there's a huge wave on its way to flatten everything. The eeriest bit was when the water was sucked out prior to the waves arrival, and lots of people were just standing around unsure of what was going on, but crucially JUST STANDING AROUND as opposed to running. Everybody seemed to be bemused as much as anything, as though this was just another entertaining interlude in their holiday paradise.

At the risk of trivialising, it was a bit like watching Jaws when the first strains of the cello start murmuring in the background. And the waves, when they came, looked absolutely terrifying. Probably the strangest looking bit was when the sea came crashing through the buildings of the resorts and and towns, sweeping up everything in their path: chairs, plants, trees, cars, cds, glass, cutlery, etc. and people were literally being crushed by this tidal wave of kibble. It was fucking apocalyptic.

Just goes to show how illusory civilisation is really, when the whole facade can get washed away in about five minutes flat. And to think much the same thing happened in New Orleans a few months ago. Seems like it's getting increasingly like a JG Ballard novel on Earth these days. Hope the Thames barrier isn't next.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Crypt

Went to the crypt at St Giles Church on Camberwell Church Street last night, which I've failed to go to on several occasions over the last year and appears to be one of South London's best kept musical secrets.

The venue itself is charming enough, a basement with pillars dotted about, and a tiny stage in the corner, and being in a church has a faintly quaint informal air - I kept expecting to see some props lying about from last years production of 'Joseph' or a table with jumpers on it for sale for 50p. But no, not even any scouts who'd come on the wrong night. Just some excellent jazz.

The act consisted of a five piece combo, with a guitarist, drummer, saxophonist, trumpeter and keyboardist, all laying down tight grooves on everything from 'Kind of Blue' era Miles Davis, to more funk-a-sized numbers like an excellent rendition of The Meter's 'Sissy Strut', which got heads a boppin', and would if there was room, surely have got people dancing. Looks like these guys jam together quite a bit, as the performance was consistently tight, with all the performers getting the opportunity to shine on a solo, with a barely perceptible nod as a cue. What is such a pleasure about performances like this, is that the joy that the players obviously take in their art prevents it from ever descending into out-and-out showboating; jazz's excesses are often equated with wankery, but I would challenge anyone to sit through a performance of such artistry, soul and skill, without smiling and tapping their toes by the end (not to mention howling, like a wolf, for an encore).

There was also a bar (of course) selling wine and bottled beers at very reasonable prices, and a kitchen selling food which I didn't get to sample. It probably pays to arrive early as it does get quite busy, and tables are something of a premium commodity here, but in any event the cramped conditions just kind of add to the atmosphere. Suffice to say, I'll be returning.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Pirates of Greenwich

Damn, It was a good weekend. Not satisfied with going and having loads of fun on Friday, me and fellow blogger Gridrunner decided to up and leave our respective areas in South London, Camberwell and Clapham respectively, for a grand day out in Greenwich.

Quite a hike too, and we had to get two (count em') buses to get there. But a childhood in a Northern city prepares you for this kind of shit so we didn't care. And what a jape filled day it was

Don't know much about Greenwich really. It's the home of Greenwich Mean time - in the sense of average rather than a harsh species of time that might make you late for a job interview, or date perhaps (or just grow old and die). It's also quite near the Millenium dome, but no-one can hold that against it. No-one saw that one coming.

Basically, Greenwich is quite posh - but in a nice way. If Greenwich were a facial expression I wager it'd be a ruddy cheeked royster-doysterish grin, perhaps champing on a pipe, and attached to a person tending a stall mayhap (probably selling strong, organic ale, no doubt!) There's just something downright wholesome about the place - but critically, without actually being boring or catshit.

Having been decanted from the bus onto the cold pavement we walked along the high street, while my associate took the opportunity to photograph lots of stuff with his new digital SLR, which is actually really good and does everything short of record in bullet time. He's taken some amazing stuff with it, but then, he's taken some great stuff with all his cameras. I've got something a bit more like the ones out of the flintsones.. It manages about 10 shots to a charge these days, after which time, the homunculus inside which records the image feels knackered and goes back to bed.

My uncle owns a gallery there, selling antiquarian prints, and we popped in to see him, I think slightly surprising him, but then, the entire mission was something of a spur of the moment decision. Should hang out with him more, he's a dude. From here we went to the covered market, checking out the wholesome wares on display, and this is where the pirate bit of the title of this post came in.

While passing a stall selling t-shirts I saw one I recognised from a website called, where people can basically post their t-shirt designs to a public vote, with the most highly rated getting printed. My mate had been furtively taking photos of various market-mensch all this time and, snapped one of this shirt. To which the (actually quite nice seeming) girly behind the stall stall said:

"Er, I'd rather you hadn't done that - copyright reasons?"

Heh, Ok lady. My buddy deleted it, and she then relented and let him take it again. She did seem frankly unaware it had a double on the internet when I suggested it might be indulging in 'the highest form of flattery', but maybe it's a little rich talking about copyright whilst selling designs you bit off someone else.

Has to be said, I've no problem appropriating other peoples stuff, if you put a bit of a different spin on it, but this was a pretty wholesale bit of plunder. You can check out the original one on the website here.

It must be said, the dudes who blog on that site luurve their t-shirts, so there might be a bit of a lynching in Greenwich if they get wind of it. Or some very catty words said in cyberspace.

Anyway, from here went on a bit of a wander up to the university, and thence onward to the Cutty Sark, which is a big landlocked ship, frustratingly close to actual water. It looks a bit like a giant hand emerged from the clouds one day and plonked it there because it was getting tired of carrying it. Near there there's also a tunnel, that goes right under the Thames. It looks exactly like the kind of location which would feature in a photo shoot for the now sadly defunct Jockey Slut magazine, featuring a moody looking DJ who's probably impatiently awaiting a callback from his dealer for the duration of
the shoot. Alongside the Japanese tourists underneath the Thames, we dutifully mocked one up. Anyway, great place, and if maybe not quite an industrial marvel by today's standards, certainly impressive and actually, what do I know, man who's never wired a plug.

This is what's good about Greenwich though, it's actually got good stuff there. Maybe it's familiarity, but stockport's own industrial marvel - the biggest brick structure in Europe (the viaduct) never seemed quite as affecting.

After that, we went and ate Pie and mash round the corner, which was reassuring winter stodge, and just what the doctor ordered, before proceeding to a pub called 'the Gipsy Moth' to quaff ale (OK, lager) and talk rubbish for a bit. Interesting crowd as well. Quite bright eyed and bushy tailed, and there was a girl there with a complex tatoo that looked really like a pair of knickers riding up her crack, which was fascinating. Having fully discussed the merits (or lack therof) of Sony Erricsson phones - specifically the one I inherited off him, we resignedly got up and left for the seedier environs of Camberwell, and that grand boozer, 'The Hermits Cave'.

But what a day. For a nice winters day out, SE10 excells. Greenwich, I salute you!


On Friday night last, I 'bowled' out of work early (Five-Thirty to be precise) and jacket firmly buttoned against the wind caught the tube down to Elephant, where my good friend Ade and his erstwhile colleague and co-fried-chicken blogging scamp Robin were having their birthday at the bowling alley there.

That's right: Bowling. Truth be told I myself was a bit apprehensive, bearing in mind that the last time I went bowling (at Grand Central in Stockport I expect) the actual game of bowls was little more than a precursor to the arcades afterwards, where we played Streetfighter II and marvelled at the heady realism of Pitfighter's graphics.

As Notorious BIG might have it however 'Things Done Changed', and there was to be no grubby shovelling of my hard earned into machines tonight (unless you mean the cig dispenser at the centre, which is different and I went halves anyway) No, bowls it was all the way, and damn fun it was too.

The evening began, for me, with a solitary pint at the Elephant & Castle pub in, you guessed it Elephant & Castle, a pub which Wikipedia informs me is the orgin of the areas name; Accounts differ, but It in turn got this either from the crest of a local cutlery company which bore an elephant and castle, or a Spanish princess slumming in South London (Infanto de Castille).

Either way, it had very little to do with Elephants or indeed castles, unlike Swiss Cottage, which clearly has everything to do with chalets. In any event, I quite like this specific locality's knack for misappropreation. Incidentally, the big shiney cube which dominates the huge roundabout and sits above the warren of 'mug-me' subways is a tribute to Michael Farraday, apparently, and not I suspect, where the Aphex Twin parks his tank, as has been suggested to me in the past.

After there, it was a quick bite to eat at the reliably hot Nandos, before heading into the bowling centre.

Elephant and Castle shopping centre reminds me a bit of the Arndale centre in Manchester, which for any of you living in Modern European cities is well worth the plane fare alone to see as an example of how NOT to do city centre planning. In fact it should be an indispensible part of any architect-in-training's curriculum to visit this eyesore, whilst perhaps wearing a black armband and blinking back tears.

Basically both look like they were comissioned in the Sixties, when the material concrete seemed full of utopian possibilities, and using brightly coloured plastic cladding on the exterior of buildings was deemed as being actually a pretty neat idea. It wasn't, as the intervening half century or so of polluted rain and pigeon shit have proved.

Not much better inside really, but the bowling... was actually really good fun. Best to check your cynicism in at the door though, as this is birthday fun for big kids. What's not to like though? First off you get to wear these cool assed two tone bowling shoes which make you look as though you probably own both brylcreem and a Cadillac, and you don't even have to check in your own shoes to rock.. so assuming you're not too fussy about the accumulated sweat of several thousand other Londoners, could probably do some walking of their own at the end of the night.
Secondly, though it does require some effort, this isn't snooker, and swigging a brew actually seems de-riguer (mind you it did for most snooker players) In fact, I'd like it to go on record that my bowling skills actually improved commeasurately with my alcohol intake, and it is insanely satisying when you get a strike... the sweet clatter twixt ball and skittle.

Things started off slowly for the eye, who after an initial couple of good bowls, started hitting the gutter, big time.

"Never mind mate, 'least you've got the shirt"

Observed someone, with reference to the pin striped Stussy number I was wearing, which I have to reflect is a fair observation and perhaps alludes to a deeper truth in my life: I've never been to Uganda, or been a member of the South West African People's alliance, or indeed know much about the band 'Cut Copy' but based on my T-shirt ownership, one could be forgiven for reasoning otherwise.

But things picked up on the second game, saving me face, and giving me cause to partake in 'the posse shot', where we all posed in front of the aisle, shoes and beers in hand.

From here we headed up to Hoxton for our bowls equivalent of the ninteenth hole. I had suggested Chaplins round the corner for an authentic glimpse of South London boozers, but most people seemed inexplicably happy with their teeth were they were, so Shorerditch it was.

We ended up in Bluu bar, the name of which sounds quite like an onomatopaeic rendition of what you might be doing afterwards if you drank too much. Anyway. It's big, long and quite trendy, and we had a table reserved at the front. Chatted and drank for a while until it was time to leave, whereupon we headed to...

Cargo. Which really wasn't such a great idea, as it was quite pricey, and I probably had enough alcohol in my bloodstream by then to get a stag party of Sea Lions pissed. It was all quite 'Nathan Barley' as well, and above the plodding strains of average house music, rose the voice of an MC on the stage who as Ade later confirmed, was indeed wearing a white suit and top hat. Riight. Anyway. Stood at the back swigging beer, and feeling at a distinct arms length from the revelry around me until Ade suggested we make like shepherds and get the flock out of dodge.

As with so many other nights, the rest was a bit of a blur as my patron saint the 'home fairy' magicked me safely back to my flat, unlike the birthday boy, who woke up at the end of the line in Clapham Junction.

All good fun though, and I think I'm going to make the bowling alley at Elephant a repeat destination.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Bus Route Review: The 12

Part two of my very infrequent review of different routes on London buses, and this week, it's a biggie.

I read on the Camberell Online blog, that some cats been hating on my favourite bus, the good ol' 345. In particular, some chump who writes for Time Out, claiming as they do that it takes forever to get anywhere. Tsch, eveyone knows you don't get the 345 if you've got to be anywhere fast, fool.

But fair enough, if you've actually got a job and don't just dispense comments like 'Camberwell is a bit shit' while tittering over your laptop in starbucks, then maybe you want to get there fast.

I am occasionally compelled to Work, necessary evil that it is, and In such situations, the bus for me has recently been the Number 12. In practical terms, it's theoretically unrivalled. It goes right past my flat, up the Elephant, and thence to Waterloo and ultimately Oxford Circus. The reality however, is somewhat different.

This is what some Christian website had to say about the number 12:

"Twelve is a perfect number, signifying perfection of government, or of governmental perfection. It is found as a multiple in all that has to do with rule. The sun which "rules" the day, and the moon and stars which "govern" the night, do so by their passage through the twelve signs of the Zodiac which completes the great circle of the heavens of 360 (12 x 30) degrees or divisions, and thus govern the year."

"Twelve is the product of 3 (the perfectly Divine and heavenly number) and 4 (the earthly, the number of what is material and organic)."

Blah blah blah, yadda yadda. Whoever wrote this clearly never rode the number12, because it really is shit. Shame really, because it's a really useful route, just massively oversubscribed. They really should put on about 50% more, because every morning and evening, it's rammed to capacity. It's kind of what I imagine a bus from purgatory to hell would look like, with serried ranks of grim faced commuters lashed to posts trying to ignore each other, and their own misery.

A wise man once said:

"If you want to see real grime in London, don't look to the streets - you've got to go on the buses for that"

Actually I made that up, but its true. The endemic lack of civic pride in this country reaches it's Apex on buses like this, where no journey would be complete without several small heaps of sweating chicken bones, swirling round your ankles. One of my quintessential bus experiences on the 12 recently was when some guy sat opposite me wolfed down a couple of Muller Fruit Corners, then cast the detritus under his seat (which was considerate) whilst across the aisle, some guy was sat openly weeping next to his stoney-faced and oblivious (and presumably newly ex) girlfriend, whilst all around strove to ignore it.

The number 12 is also one of London's new breed of buses the much reviled 'bendy bus'. In practise these are supposed to be more efficient and quicker, as the driver doesn't check tickets. In reality though, this generally means that he has no way of restricting the flow of passengers, so anyone can ram their way on, and generally does. The number of times I've waited at a bus stop and the 12 has rolled up, packed to capacity with a sea of piteous faces staring out of the gloom.. In anywhere sane, people would simple wait for a less crowded bus, as I usually do, but Londoners actually seem to relish hanging out in someone elses armpit, so force their way on anyway. When you're on the other side of the doors and people start inserting themselves, the overwhelming urge is do draw a concealed hedge trimmer and repel boarders.

In fact, so sardine like is the net result, that you could pump a 'bendy' full of olive oil and it would make a covenient snack for a balrog on whatever circle of Dante's hell the 12 is currently stopping at.

Uggh Hellish.. But as I said, it would be a hell of a lot better if there were just half as many again. In the space of time it took for one 12 to arrive at the top of Regent Street last night, three 453s (I think) themselves of the bendy disposition, sauntered past like vast empty red corridors; you could install driving ranges on some of them, and for practically a fraction of the cost of the buses themselves.

As you may be able to tell, I aint got a whole lot of love for the 12. It seems to bring out all that is worst about public transport, and the unflinching meanness of modern life in the modern city. Needs must though, and I gotta say, it gets me to the coalface on time. I was going to give it a (1+2=) 3 but for sheer handiness:


Thursday, November 17, 2005

I hate 'free'lance

Or anyway, freelance work where the emphasis is on the 'free' bit anyway. Working in the creative industry, albeit at the relatively lowly rung I currently occupy, I find no shortage of people (usually people I know personally) who want a hand with a bit of design, but don't actually want to pay for it.. The assumption being I suppose that as it's a predominantly a visual (for this read 'arty') medium, and therefore 'fun', that I'm in such a state of unfettered joy every time I do it that, hell yeah! I'll do it for free, in fact, can I pay you for the opportunity to do it?

I know musiscians who experience similar woes in actually getting paid, people who've played in professional venues and received a pittance, which seems scant reward in recognition of the love for their art, and years of dedicated practise and study they've invested in it.

But nobody really wants to pay, even though they could probably appreciate that no-one really wants to work for free. "Hey, I've got some rocks need digging up on the bottom of the Irish sea, fancy giving me a hand? I'll buy you a pint.."

Actually though, the idea of doing pro bono work for little or no money is not complete anaethema to me, providing it's an interesting project, and I least get beer money. There have been occasions though, where I've actually ended up out of pocket, and even the smallest job has the tendency to become a royal pain in the ass, usually more because you embarked upon it as a favour.

Much the same is happening to me this week, as 'a little job' I'm doing for my housemate threatens to become a full blown albatross, cawwing and flapping around my neck. I'll get it done, no problem, as I believe that once you've commited to something like this, you should try and do it with all the good grace that you can muster.

This really is it though. Next time? Pay the hell up!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Fire: Works

Fire really does work, as anyone who's seen the top floor of their house ablaze aged 11 or so can cheerfully attest. Fickle fire, man's friend or foe? This bonfire night, the eye determined to find out by crossing the river to check out a display of pyrotechnics at Alexandra Palace, donning mittens and remembering of course, not to tuck my jeans into my wellingtons - imagine what would happen if a firework flew in.

I suppose you could argue that in today's climate of heightened fear regarding the proliferation of terrorism, bonfire night is a cultural event of real resonance, celebrating as it does the foiling of a bomb threat that thratened to strike at the very heart of our government. Personally I think people just like to look at shiney stuff and say "wwwooooh!" lots.

Certainly there were no shortage of people thronging out of Wood Green train station, when we decamped there en-masse for our fix of the sparkly stuff. Indeed it took at least fifteen minutes mereley to get up and over the footbridge. Once there, we headed to an off-license for Bonfire night essentials (2 cans of Heineken, pistachios, fags) before climbing up to 'Ally Pally' with our fellow pilgrims. Once we arrived we were treated to a Capital FM DJ 'working the crowd' over cheesey records before the fireworks began, and I must admit, it was pretty impressive.

There's something curiously hypnotic and soothing about loud bangs and explosions viewed at a distance; a sentiment seemingly shared by those around me judging from their reactions. Pickpockets must make a killing at events like this - assuming that is, they can tear their eyes away from the gratifyingly bright stuff ocurring overhead themselves. I could however imagine it getting somewhat banal after a while as the novelty bright lights afford is pretty limited; There's basically two types of fireworks at an event like this, those that explode with a boom over a radius of several hundred metres - which is what everyone goes to see, let's be honest, and the multitude of crackly sparkly ones which as act dramatic counterpoint to the big boys. In light of this, the timeframe of half an hour was ideal.

After this display, the crowd promptly spun 180 degrees, and with very little ceremony began the trudge back down the hill which it had ascended half an hour or so before. A crowd also congregated outside the entrance to the palace where we waited for a while in the vain hope of sighting my friend's brother, who'd arrived seperately from us. Luckily for anyone who hadn't quite got their fix of the festivities, someone took it upon themselves to start casting live fireworks into the crowd, creating pyrotechnics AND mass panic. Great! Luckily a PC was there with the grit to run over and stamp on the firework just pror to its explosion, for which he was awarded a muted round of applause.

After this we exited as fast as crowds would allow, and in truth it was slow going all the way to Wood Green. Me and my friend Dunc reasoned we might cut through the crowds a great deal quicker if we both had catherine wheels strapped to our chests.

From Wood Green we caught the tube to Liverpool Street, and from here hiked to my friend's night 'It's Bigger Than', at 93 Feet East on Brick Lane, where we drank Red Strip and swayed to electro disco.

After this, we popped into a bagel shop further up the road. Can't remember what it's called, but there's two of them, they both spell bagel 'beigel' in their titles, and it was the secondmost of the two. Here we ordered saltbeef bagels/beigels with mustard and mayo which are delicious, and not something I've experienced outside London. Wolfed these down, and headed for the 35 nightbus home.

So fire, friend or foe? Both actually - in the hands of experts, it is a thing of great beauty my friend, but lit, and in the hands of chavs... actually I'm not so bothered about them being in the hands of chavs, it's when the little fuckers chuck them in my general direction that I start getting twitchy.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


On Friday last, upon swiftly exiting work, I headed beer-wards in the company of fellow blogger Gridrunner. Can't remember exactly where but it was just off Oxford Street, and had some interesting stained glass - the image of a pugilist remaining particularly firmly etched in my conciousness. The other thing is it was owned by the brewery that makes that pokey Prinz Beer.. which has the virtue of being cheap and looking German, but tends to make me feel like I've had an ethanol brain-rub the morning after.

After that headed back to Clapham, which was choked with people down for the Bonfire night festivities. We wanted to eat so headed for one of my fave eateries, Bodeans, only to discover it was predictably rammed with the 'fire-folk'. Indeed our request for a table was greeted with the kind of amused negative the American waitress must usually reserve for questions regarding the availability of moon-geese. Whatever. YOUR LOSS.

So went to Bentos round the corner, where, despite it being busy we got a table almost immediately, and they then proceeded to dish up good food in a really uncoordinated fashion. I like Japanese food very much, and was really looking forward to this, so was a bit pissed when I only got main course jut as my friends were finishing theirs. The waiter said it was because they were so busy, but considering my friends were served in about 15 minutes I think everyone would have been happier if they'd just taken an extra ten minutes and syncopated the arrival of everyones food.

Told them we didn't really want to pay the service charge, and with a pen stroke through this, yet nary an apology, the manageress wrote us off as collateral. So anyway, good food. but slightly duff service.

Then went to the Smoke Rooms next door, which used to be the 100 Pub (club?) and which despite changing hands, doesn't actually seem very different at all. The DJ was playing the kind of records for which they could practically invent a new genre: Forgettable house. Beer was nice and expensive though, which reassured me I was experiencing a 'premium' quality evening.

Then I went home.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Bus route review: The 345

I practically only use buses these days. After a period of initial fascination, my love affair with the tube has ended, and to be perfectly honest, it was more like a series of increasingly unpleasant dates, cruel mistress that she is. Tubes are grimey, especially Elephant, that looks like a level from Quake that they couldn't actually be arsed including in the finished game as it looked too rough. Actually It's probably more like Castle Wolfenstein, though I'd probably take a member of Wolfenstein's badly rendered mutant SS Guard over a South London monday morning commuter anyday. And then there's the dirt.. That filthy warm burp that preempts the arrival of a train, and the dark sooty kiss imparted should you actually touch any of the props in this infernal warren. Eww.

Now where was I? Ah yes buses. Can't get enough of them. Use em lots. So I thought I'd write about the routes I used in this big bad city, for little other reason than it kills dead minutes between drinking/working (though as I write this I'm swigging a catering size grasshopper)

I'll start with the 345, as I took it just the other day when this 'amazing' post occurred to me. Depending on which way you ride this mother, it's basically a rags to riches parable told in the unfolding vista surrounding you, or a riches to rags parable told in the unfolding vista surrounding you, sweeping as it does from the grime of the Sarf East, to the plummy bling of the East South East.

From my end, It starts in 'Grime-Town' Peckham. I feel like I should like Peckham, but in reality rarely feel compelled to visit there, apart from when stocking up on salt cod. Basically Peckham's so street level it's untrue. The last occaision I went I boarded the number 12 (of which I'll speak later), and headed off with the intention of scouring Charity shops for vinyl and cool t-shirts. Unfortunately, school had just ended for the day, and the bus filled up rapidly with rude boys giving everybody cold assed stares. I reasoned against my original plan and opted for something safer like, I dunno, smacking box-jellyfish with spades, and headed off home at a brisk pace.

From here it rocks up Camberwell Church Street to the green, where in Summer you can see lots of people sat drinking cider, and at least in this respect it's Summer all year round in Camberwell. Camberwell's alright though, Camberwell's got soul, and of course, I live there.

From here the bus heads off to Loughborough, which I can't recommend having never visited save to use the train station one particularly bleak new years eve, and probably won't bother going again to be honest. It was where that MacIntyre(?) guy filmed the documentary in which he walked round for two days pointing at a laptop and phone silently mouthing "MUG ME" until, god bless em, a crew of hoods dutifully did. Great journalism Mac, I see what you did there. Anyway. This is the kind of place BBC researchers come up with when they wants somewhere suitably inner city, now that Brixton has a Sainsburys.

Thence on to yay! Brixton, which is great, but not as nice as the 35 route, as it just whips up past the Ritzy. You do get to see the skate park on this route however, though the other day it was being resurfaced. On a good day there's kids injuring themselves in all kinds of interesting highly kinetic ways.

Then to Stockwell. Now, I can't I go to Stockwell much, and in fact the most time I spend there is when the 345 stops at the tube to change drivers for 10 minutes or so, and by then I'm already getting twitchy.

Clapham next, shining like a big smug grin. I've got some friends who live there so I'll not be be rude about it, and actually it's alright. Heading up the high street on this route however, you get to see the mile or so of crappy aspirational bars that line the high street. Especially great if you're not really interested in music, people or atnosphere, but don't mind paying a premium for your beers. It's got some good places to eat though, Bodeans being an especial fave, and the common is lovely in Summer. In fact, you drive straight through it en route to:

Clapham Junction, which is busy, and has the busiest train station in Europe. You do get to go up Lavender hill though, which is where the mob lived I suppose. It's also got a few interesting shops.

Battersea. It's got a huge, empty derelict power station, and an overcrowded dog's home. Maybe they should combine the two. Whatever. At this stage you cross over Battersea bridge, or would do normally, were it not for some div smashing a barge into it about a month ago. Apparently it might have to close permanently as the ancient Victorian structure was so badly damaged; but it's a cool view even if you're walking I guess. I love crossing bridges.

Better ditch that hoody now kids and rock your Hackett sweater cause now as we enter the final leg of our journey, we roll into Chelsea. Basically, this place is scarily 'money', and everything looks like it should cost loads, and it probably does. Huge fuck off white Georgian houses and expensive cars. I find this place weirder than places like Peckham sometimes, and ocasionally come here to wander round In the vain hope of soaking up some of the ambient wealth via osmosis. Small hope.

Then it's South Ken, which is basically more of the same, though it has the British Museum, and the V&A, justifying riding to the end of the line if nothing else. The Conran shop's also nice if you like that kind of thing.

So to sum up: This route is actually great to ride all the way from a cod-anthroplological point of if you've got 45 minutes to spare (or an hour or three in rush hour) and want to stare at peaks and troughs in property value. It's also interesting the way the buses clientelle shifts slightly fom end to end, and there's loads of places to go en route etc. If I had to come up with a 'Mayor of Lond-ON' type slogan to sum it up it probably wouldn't be this, but you get the general idea.

You'll see palaces and dives on 345s (erk)


Disturbing Decorations

I mentioned in an earlier blog about the appearance of Christmas decorations on Regent Street. I spotted this the other day. Now, is this the kind of thing you'd like to see while innocently buying presents for your loved ones? I think not. Unless you're buying porn for some rats of course.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


I awoke this morning at around six o'clock feeling dessicated and parched. The room felt like an oven, and stumbling over to the radiator I discovered you could cook an egg on it. The entire experience was akin to being trapped inside a giant, hot, pop tart (probably strawberry flavour knowing my luck) although unmitigated by napalm like jam.

With the passing of Summer one of my roomies has taken it upon themselves to crank up the heating to degree that it feels like an oven – simply because it's not sweltering outside. Maybe it's the northener in me. but I was actually quite enjoying it being a little cooler, and it's clearly, clearly, not even that cold.

I find this kind of siege mentality slightly odd. The person who did this was the same who burbled about being unable to sleep because it was too hot in Summer, but the minute the weather turns slightly, ups the ante like there was a glacier bearing down on London, and polar bears capering across the green.

Hmm. This is a bit of a non post really, especially as I turned the heating down right after so the problem is resolved.

NEXT EPISODE: Has anyone seen my milk? etc...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Ben's leaving do

Well doing this retrospectively as it happened on Saturday and this is now Tuesday if I'm not much mistaken, but anyway here's the deal. Basically my friend and drinking buddy Ben is escaping from the grimey metropolis that is London (where the streets are paved with chips, don't ya know?) for pastures new, in this case Bologna, Italy. Good luck Ben! or actually, maybe good luck Bologna, as I've had firsthand experience of Ben after he's had a few.. harharhar but anyway great lad etc.. and I'll stop before this turns into a wedding speech.

Anyway. Met up with him and various other friends on the roof terrace of The Lock Tavern in Camden, which is actually rather a nice place if you can get a seat, and the perfect place to enjoy the fag-end of this 'Indian Summer' the papers tell us we're enjoying. I've had the food there before and it's also rather special, so definitely worth a look on Sunday. Beers were consumed the breeze was shot, until, somewhat anticlimactically, the place decided to close at about 11.

We then ended up in some oriental themed cocktail bar up the road, where we drank bottles of Sol or something similar (limes were involved), and Mojitos – a snip at six quid each. There was a DJ playing somewhat generic soul and disco, and though it didn't really sound like he'd been diggin' in the crates too deeply no-one generally goes to oriental themed cocktail bars around midnight for the sounds I'm sure.

Lesser mortals might have taken baulked at even this much hedonism, but following our auspicious leader we sallied forth once more into the night (numbers admittedly depleted) in pursuit of yet more 'action'.

Next stop was some pokey shebeen in the city centre, manned on the door by an earnest looking Spanish guy who explained to us the rules of Spanish Drinking Club: "First rule, you don't ake any drinks inside, second rule you don't bring any drinks out" OK fair enough, but we can talk about it yeah?

Inside it was predictably bare with lots of graffitti, and a trestle table at one end selling bottles of Carlsberg. It was quiet for a while, but eventually filled up with lots of Spaniards, dancing enthusiastically to slightly ropey spanish music. There was some girl who had lots of white fabric bandaged round her legs, and none of us could quite work out if this was Halloween related or not. Eventually we'd seen (and drank) enough, so exited, whereupon the doorman exercised the second rule of Spanish Drinking Club, and filleted a bottle from where I'd secreted it in my jacket though it has to be said, was very nice about the entire thing, and even offered to let me finish it. Didn't. Went home.

Monday, October 31, 2005


Ah, shopping. Has it been so long? Well no actually, though as the year grinds on, Summer finally saunters off, and the 'imminence' of Christmas is revealed unto us in the form of miles of festive tat already appearing on Regent street and thereabouts, our thoughts once again turn to the accumulation of yet more things that we don't really need. Yes, already the streets thicken with the first protean stirrings of the years consumer festivities, and we must take again to the streets, jostling for space alongside the tourists, overpriced hot-dog stands, and men bearing 'golf sale' signs for our slice of the pie.

Don't get me wrong though, I subscribe as keenly to the cult of retail therapy as most, and am currently seething with jealously as one of my roomies has picked a rather fetching 60s leather jacket for a song in Wimbledon, having appeared to have tapped an untouched seam of charity-shop wealth thereabouts.

But some people take this stuff waay to seriously, as a brief stroll round Soho/Carnaby street will attest. I popped into Cinch the other day - the Levis flagship store, to find the following legend embazoned on the window:

'Levis recreates original GI clothing'

'For remembrance Sunday LEVI'S VINTAGE CLOTHING have created a GI style bag which includes a GI's wardrobe staples and tales from original GI's. This limited edition package is available for £300..'

What you get for your three hundred quid here is basically a pair of distessed jeans, a worn T-shirt, a Laundry bag, and some bits of paper printed with some pretty unconvincing script font. Now admittedly £30 of each sale goes to the Royal British Legion, but who's buying..? it's not even real vintage.

This pales into insignificace besides the Bathing Ape 'busy workshop' however, tucked away just behind Golden Square at the Regent Street end of Soho. A favoured haunt of fashion-hounds everywhere, this place seems particularly popular with Japanese kids on a style pilgrimage to London, and generic sportswear fetishists from all over, who clog the aisles gawping at the wares wondering if they actually dare ask how much any of it costs. Indeed some of these cats are dressed from head to toe in nothing other than this 'Holy Grail' of post Stussy brands, though to be honest they probably had to remortgage their carboard box in SE36 to get just one of the t-shirts, so attaing the full kit probably required something like auctioning all extraneous bodily organs on the black market.

An example of the genral silliness of all this would be an ocassion a fortnight ago, whilst I myself was in there (see, I love it!) when I overheard one of the shop 'assistants' telling a punter about a t-shirt they would shortly be selling at the Glade store two doors up for wait for it...£300. The T-shirt in question was for Nigo and Pharrell Williams' dubious 'Billionaire Boys Club' imprint, which, although it was going to be studded in Swarovski crystals, is clearly such a laughable purchase that you don't even need to leave the shop to get mugged for it.

What I find stupid about this is that these are brands obstensibly influenced by Hip Hop and skate culture. Both thrifty and durable irrespectively. In the first case Hip-Hop fashion was all about poor kids rocking these incredible styles on a shoestring, while going out and actually doing stuff like I dunno, dancing, painting, DJing and having sex, and secondly, I find the idea of any of these guys endangering their baggy ape jeans by actually doing anything as physical as skating improbable to say the least.


Another thing I ocasionally find bothersome about these places is the all pervasive aura of superiority that lingers everywhere. Indeed, a question directed at one of the 'experts' who work there, unless delivered with exactly the right intonation and inflexion will probably be met with a monosyllabic response and an icy stare that would stun a basilisk.

This isn't just restricted to clothes shops of course. I was in Sounds of the Universe in (yes) Soho, when I was lucky enough to hear this textbook of example of customer service:

Customer: Hi mate, alright if I have a listen to these (brandishing an admittedly large brace of records)

Shopkeeper: (Stares incredulously) You having a laugh mate? It's five records only in this place.

Customer: Oh sorry, maybe it'd be helpful if you put a sign up, I'm in town for the day from the country.

Shopkeeper: (archly) We don't believe in that kind of thing in here, this is London mate.

So you don't believe in 'that kind of thing' but do believe in being curt to the point of rudeness with your customers. Tsk. He might have even bought those tunes pal.

All this serves to remind me of 'Comic book guy' Jeff Albertson in the Simpsons, who similarly seems to belive that relative expertise and a career in retail are a license for offhand treatment of customers. This quote kind of sums it up.

"I must hurry back to my comic book store, where I dispense the insults rather than absorb them."

Anyway. Enough, I must be off to go and spend my hard earned. Happy shopping aye?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

William Booth College/Crack Squirrels

Well, it was a nice crisp sunny Sunday today, so I hiked up Camberwell Grove to gawp at the William Booth college, which is basically the Salvation army international headquarters. It's f**ckin' huge. Big enough anyway to house a private army, so I rather like to imagine it as being like an MI6 training ground from a Bond film inside, replete with SA corporate ninjas abseiling down ropes, and brass bands with machine guns hidden in their instruments, though in reality it's probably given over to admin.

After that walked over to Ruskin park where I bumped into my friend's housemate who was also taking pictures, and we did a bit of trespassing to look at the fenced off bandstand, and mooched around looking at the various critters that live there e.g ducks, geese, drug crazed squirrels (bear with me here). Apparently she told me, there's a problem in South London with squirrels finding drugs that dealers have stashed in parks, gardens etc. and becoming addicted to crack. And if you don't believe me.. here's what the Guardian has to say about it.,2763,1587733,00.html

Personally - and I'm going out 'on a limb' here, but I rather suspect the average tree-rat isn't going to have time to get addicted to anything once it's wolfed down a rock of crack, being primarily concerned as it will be with overdosing massively and shuffling off this mortal coil.

Anyway. Did that then hooked up with a mate in the evening at BRB in Camberwell for one of their tasty pizzas, then went and watched as much of 80s 'classic' cocktail as I could stomach.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Top Tens

Top Tens are great aren't they. You really know where you are with a good old numbered list, w-why, between 1–10 of course!

Everyone does it from poncey music mags listing fave tunes of the moment to er, poncey weekend newspaper mags listing their favourite.. forks? or something. Hell, lazy TV producers love that shit, and I think the formula goes something like this: think up a concept for a top-ten-based hour long Saturday programme e.g. top ten things I never did in the 70s, then get a load of Z list celebs to wax lyrical with about 10% of their brain, while planning how to spend their fee with the rest. Then everyone can knock off early and go to the pub. Simple.

Anyway, truth be told, I'm getting a little sick of the genre, so I thought I'd end it all in one fell swoop. So check it out playaz, here it is, the one, the only, the definitive:

Top Ten Top Tens

10. Ah nostalgia.. Top ten Kitsch TV moments from the 70's! Everyone loves 70's TV it's OLD, and people dressed differently then!

9. Top ten Kitsch TV moments from the 80's! Everyone loves 80's TV it's OLD, and people dressed differently then!

8. Top ten Kitsch TV moments from the 90's! Everyone loves 90's TV it's (slightly less) OLD, and people dressed (slightly) differently then!

7. Top ten favourite foods. This, if it was on TV would probably have the guy from 'Ready Steady Cook' on it.

6. Top ten favourite sweets.?

5. Top ten favourite ..smells? I'm getting bored of this.

4. Top Ten Cartoons, and yeah The Simpsons will be at number one..

3. Top Ten films, though damn, if Star Wars aint at number one there's going to be hell to pay..

2. Top Ten Bands, everone loves music, and everyone loves top Tens! Though yeah, it's probably going to be the Beatles at number one. Snore.

1. This top ten of course! See what I did there! Oh shit the universe has ended.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Eyechild for president

Well maybe not. But if anyone reads this and fancies voting for my t-shirt design, well go knock yourselves out. It'd be much appreciated.

My Submission


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Your dad attacks!

Well its been a quiet old two weeks, and I've done little save ring recruitment types, look for work, and attempt to coax a pigeon on to my landing with a bacon sandwich wrapped in string. Actually one of those is false.

I did however stumble across this 'gem' which I thought I'd share with anyone fortunate enough to be reading this blog. It's basically a link to a reasonably arbitrary beast-based combat system. You heard of Pokemon? Tekken? D&D? Well forget that shit - this is as real as it gets. Basically you type in a name, phrase, or just gibberish and the magic of the interweb fleshes out your avatar with a randomly generated form. For a name I chose 'Your Dad' which (aside from the psychological edge) gave me a huge flame wreathed moth with metal jaws. Believe.

So if any of you are as bored as I've been, perhaps you might like to do battle in the digital realm etc etc.

Your Dad

is a Collosal Moth that has a Metal Jaw, and is Wreathed with Flames.

Strength: 10 Agility: 2 Intelligence: 4

To see if your Giant Battle Monster can
defeat Your Dad, enter your name and choose an attack:

fights Your Dad using

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The best sandwich ever.?

Despite this being a blog that deals primarily with the miracle of 'vision' and things I 'see', even eyes must eat, so I feel compelled to write about what might possibly be the best sandwich shop ever.

Actually, forget that: it is the best sandwich shop.

Located just off the bottom of Wardour street in London's Soho is Il Panino, a little Italian sandwich shop run by REAL ITALIANS, (and everone knows those guys love their food). They sell a whole load of stuff like coffee and tiramisu, but it's the Ciabatta Panini which I'm buggin' out about. They are, quite simply, outstanding.

It never ceases to amaze me how people manage to stuff up the sublime invention that is the sandwich. Lets face it, it's a pretty simple equation: two slices of bread, loads of top stuff, er, that's it (and no, you can keep your 'club' sandwiches - I don't want to be part of any club that promotes bread as an extra filling) Indeed, most sandwiches taste more of the clock on the wall that the poor unfortunate who was making them happened to be staring at while transferring a pinch of waterey iceberg lettuce from a tupperware box than actual food.

But these guys have got it right. Simple, top ingredients, generously applied, and very reasonable too. £3.50 for almost more sandwich than you can physically eat. They're all (I presume) pretty good, but I might particularly recommend the special: salami, roasted peppers and some amazing cheese that actually makes your gums tingle.. so I suppose it's the cocaine of the cheese world.

Anyway, if anyone other than me and Gridrunner read this, I reccommend that you give it a try if you're ever in Soho and feeling hungry.. And tell 'em the Eye sent you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rat Guy!

It was as I was wandering toward the bus stop on Denmark Hill that I spotted this character.. one of the more 'unique' denizens of Camberwell- 'Rat Guy' . Rat Guy's thing is to wander round Camberwell with rodents slithering around his neck like a kind of living scarf. One has to admire an individual who can dodge the near unilateral contempt for people who wear fur clothing by actually sporting living things. "..The fuck you lookin' at?" the white one is saying. Either that or "Stop the world I wanna get off (this guy)".

Monday, September 19, 2005

Noodle Monday

Today for tea, the eye visited the local Chinese supermarket on Denmark Hill in Camberwell. I could spend hours (well, probably more like 20 minutes) trawling through the aisles, staring in open mouthed wonder at the wonders on display. Today I treated myself to a bevvy of instant noodles (just which is the best brand though?) some bargain chilli sardines, and a bundle of incense at the bargain price of £1.99 for 50 or so. A staple in the weekly grocery shop for any discerning flaneur.

I managed to resist the temptation of the 'Sliming' powder though; Ectoplasm being a very real fear of mine.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Today was an afternoon of coincidences. Whilst perusing the wares of Uniqlo on Oxford Street, The Eye encountered an acquaintance from the past.. A girl I had studied with at university. Initially I couldn't quite work out if it was indeed her, and I had left and walked for a good five minutes before finally deciding to return and see if it was indeed she (her name's Lucy by the way, though I can't for the life of me remember her second name).

It was. (But it took further surveillance on my part to pick up the courage to ask, and she was initially I fear completely at a loss to whom I was) Anyway. We 'shot the breeze' for a while, discussing old acquaintances and it turns out she's headed for China and then um, Tibet I think; which accounted for the bag o' jumpers she'd just purchased. Ah well. Swopped numbers and arranged to meet up for a drink.

Scarce had I turned off Oxford Street after this, when whom should I run into but.. er, my mum and dad? what are you guys doing in Soho? Actually, I knew they were in town, but still. Anyway, seeing them again tommorrow.


Originally uploaded by Bevan Beast.
Well, I need work.. soon. Freelancing in London is a competitive affair, and I dwell under few illusions that there are far more people out there than there are jobs.

Often it's a case of proving yourself, and if you can get a foot in the door and demonstrate yourself capable of getting the job done then there's a very chance you'll get invited back. But it can also be pretty unforgiving at times. Ah well. Up and at 'em.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

My First Posting

So here it is. My first posting and hopefully the first of many. Come, friends, and join me on my adventures around London and beyond.