Thirty Thousand Streets

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saturday Night TV

Having decided not to go to Manchester for the Bank Holiday Weekend, Saturday was decidedly low key. Got up, bought bacon from kennedy's (5 rashers, no smoked alas) before jumping on the 12 into town.

Checked out UNIQLO (the clothes store from Japan) and discovered that apart from their usual quality basics, they've got a set of t-shirts in designed by Tokyo's Power Graphixx. Unfortunately, on further inspection, they were 68% polyester, and would probably itch like the clap, so I left it, which was a shame, as standing at the intersection between effortlessly crisp vector styling and misappropriated Japanish (I just made that up) the designs themselves were cool like the 70's, which is also, unfortunately, the only excusable cut off date for shirts constructed from man made fabrics.

It would also seem Oki Ni on Saville Row has shut up shop in London, which is aight by me as their shop seemed almost soley predicated to flogging a vast surplus of naff Duffer shirts on my last couple of visits.

Was looking for an album so trawled round Soho to no avail for an hour or so. Bumped into Gemma and her beau just off Kingly Street, who were drinking coffee and waiting to go and see Avenue Q, which is, as far as I understand it, a 'Muppet Musical' or somesuch, though by today's standards, the idea of hiring someone with a furry mitten to act the fool seems curiously antiquated when you could probably get Big Brother's Nikki for half the cash.

The rest of the evening was ok. Stayed in as due to the alignment of certain stars, I didn't have shit to do, which resulted in me watching a whole mess of Saturday night TV.

I don't watch too much TV these days. About the most entertaining thing right now seems to be Dragons Den. Lost had me interested for a while, but it's intricately silly plot twists and tortuous flashback sequences left me choking dust a while back (by now, no doubt, the maroonees have discovered all the Earth's missing socks have been hoarded on aminiaturee Death Star presided over by a mysterious blah blah blah all in a concealed cavern, somewhere under the Island etc).

Saturday night tv, like endemic alcoholism, is a problem england is all to familiar with, but no-one ever talks about, because all the people who actually give a shit are doing something interesting. Like going to the pub. The fact it really is enough to drive you to drink makes me wonder whether there isn't some kind of agreement in place between breweries and programmers, in order to lever people from their seats and send them to the Dog & Duck for ten pints of Brainfuzz.

First up was Casualty, which has been a metronomic constant in the Beeb's programming over the last couple of decades, though I've not watched it for a bit. In fact, the last time I saw it, the guy who, ironically enough, got stabbed in the neck by a broken bottle in 'The Long Good Friday' (by Bob Hoskins, no less) was still riding the BBC's drama gravy train, averting his eyes heavenward in a worthy attempt to combat bureaucracy on the floor of the A&E Department. Charlie I think his name was. Yawn. I sort of watched its spinoff Holby City for a bit, but it got shit when Dr.Meyer slithered off into the sunset, and his stubbly protege went off do do the tiresome Peugeot ads with the 'French' girlfriend (you know the one, "Fwance", "Ze Eifell Tower" and so on).

It was all boringly worthy and Beeb. But worse was to come in the cringe shaped 'How To Solve a Problem Like Maria' which lurched over the hill at nine o' clock, featuring a studio lit up like a particularly power hungry Christmas tree, and a hooting, baying mob, presided over by the puce jacketed demagogue Graham Norton, himself as camp as the festive season.

Also present was director/criminal Andrew Lloyd Weather, excreting thespian pronunciations from a mastermind style swivel seat like a turtle headed Pez dispenser: ("You're no Maria"). Scouse bore-next-door Clare Sweeny was also on hand to offer such germs of advice to the contestants during the farcical 'endurance test' as: "Stamina is so essential girls", though presumably her true role in the programme was to reassure them that anyone with one head could feasibly get as close to the nation's heart as cholestorol.

The wobbly fulcrum over which the programme's format labours it's fat arse seems to be them all taking turns to regurgitate nuggets of pop trash in an increasingly histrionic mode, and on a serious note, what is the current broadcasting obsession with this shit? Who cares? People often allude to the Japanese love of Karaoke as eccentric, but at least they've got as far as hiring private rooms to do it in with friends rather than broadcasting it across THE WHOLE FUCKING NATION and masquerading it as primetime entertainment.

The climax of the show was all the contestants lining up in pinafores and colour coded dresses, singing their fame hungry hearts out like a troupe of competing Teletubbies. No-one won. One of them lost, and retired to the sidelines to weep and be cajoled by the victors in some weak semblance of professional sisterly solidarity and oh god it's fucking rubbish. It's like a variety show without the variety, so come back Morecombe and Wise, all is forgiven.

Then it was the news, which despite being quite depressing, was actually an effective palliative to the supperating wound that was the night's television, as it did actually make me feel genuinely grateful to be alive and well in England. I didn't much fancy New Jack City at half eleven though, so staggered upstairs to bed, to reflect on my non-eventful evening.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Thursday/August Bank Holiday

London quite often gets on my tits. It's stern impassive visage, a bit like an Easter Island head set in concrete and wreathed in smog. can be all too forbidding of a wet morning.

On the other hand, sometimes I wouldn't be anywhere else. Like yesterday, on the way to work, there was a guy in Trafalgar Square with a falcon on his left hand, texting with his right, as though it was the most normal thing in the world.

This, for the uninitiated, is the guy who makes sure that pigeons steer clear of Trafalgar Square now that Red Ken's administration has served notice on their greasy feathered asses. Now that's a job. He's essentially a pigeon hit man, whose weapon is another bird. A rifle with a beak.

He was back there on Wednesday, only this time his feathered gun was 'stuck' up a tree. He was trying to entice it back by wafting what looked like a golden hamster pelt in its general direction, but it wasn't having any of it.

On a less inspiring note, there was a group of studded bracelet wearing alternative kids queueing for a signing outside the Virgin store on Oxford Street (and presumably to beg eyeliner tips off a favourite bandmember).

One girl, flushed with glee at her own wit, was brandishing a cardboard square, with the legend "Smile if you wank!" written on it in upper case marker pen. Happily, it didn't emote even the vaguest response in me as I stumbled past slurping Benjy's coffee, though judging from the faces of those clustered around.. well.

Hooked up with Sam last night, and we went to BRB in Camberwell for a pizza and a couple of drinks, then the Castle for one, before returning to mine where Sam raided some MP3s off me, before heading back to Hackney on the 35.

Bank holiday weekend eh? I notice Time Out is doing a guide The Notting Hill Carnival, with Lily Allen on the Cover like a smirking Queen of the May. If I'd got to curate that feature (unlikely, I know) I'd have just settled for a double page spread, full bleed image of some tarmac littered with: A half gnawed corn cob, a crushed Red Stripe can, some broken glass and rivulets of some unknown liquid, all stippled with an arc of clotting blood. The words 'Don't Bother' would be superimposed over this.

The myth of Notting Hill Carnival is that it's a kind of merry multicultural utopia, with jocular policemen dancing to reggae, while throngs of smiling people wearing bright primary colours eat wholesome food to the accompaniment of Steel Drums.

In reality this version of events is about as real as Sesame Street, as even putting to the side such awkward things as 'bad men with sharp things, sticking up chumps for change', it's impossible to actually do anything there, bar being swept in rivers of humanity, along roads steeped in piss and fishbones. Great.

The time before the time before last I went, me and my friends caught a bus down from West Hampstead. In a presentiment of what was to come, someone at the back asked an asian chap if he had the time, to which he replied "I aint giving you the time mate – this is the ghetto" (this was before the film Notting Hill, mind). A girl wearing antennae also mimed biting my arm, which was to become the highlight of the day actually. Immediately after we decanted from the the bus we were met with a troupe of dancers in Devil costumes, who were merrily slapping red dye on anyone and everyone they passed and though I did manage to escape this, my friends weren't so lucky, and looked like they'd in indulged in a spot of mid-carnival painting and decorating.

Later on, my friend's girlfriend were jostled by a rudegirl who kept jabbing her in the ribs (thankfully only with her elbow) and intimating violence, and I also glimpsed a Rastafarian guy threatening to throw a plastic crate at some asian shopkeepers through the doorway of a newsagents. And those were the bits I remember, though inevitably I suppose. it's always the bad stuff that sticks in your mind.

I've been since so I think I've given it a fair chance, it just does strike me as being the most overhyped thing ever prior to Coke Zero, though perhaps that's just me getting older and less excited by crowded places and Red Stripe.

So this year I think I'll take my chances with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or whatever Ian Fleming penned bank holiday crap is on the tv, and indulge in a fantasy world where I don't have to qeueue to use the bathroom. Either that or I might go to Manchester, which'll will probably take less time all time, all told, than an in excursion to 'the Hill'.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Monday 21

A quiet weekend.

Friday sat in and watched the Big Brother final with the housemates, with a Thai Curry from the Thai house and a couple of bottles of beer (Tyskie and Budvar) from the 'mini-mart' a few doors up. The eternally gestating Davina McCall looking less avian than she has in the past, the feathered edges of motherhood having presumably softened her corvine, beak-like features.

The blonde girl, Aisleyne, wept on cue while wearing mostly nothing, the Welsh lad reminded me why I don't go to Wales very often, and the winner Pete, dissolved into a series of fractured twitches and squawks like a self consciously 'childlke' Max Headroom, or a glitch remix of Frank Spencer and Woody Woodpecker.

After that watched Chasing Amy – one of Ben Affleck's better roles, which isn't saying much in my opinion.

Saturday didn't do a right deal. Went and bought a few cheap CD's, inluding an album by The Fall, a Slick Rick album from 99, and a New Electronica compilation from 1994. I'm getting quite into buying techno from this era, and trying to work out if its still any good – and some of it is, very good. Some of it has aged like old socks though. Also popped into Rat Records, where in a spot of Hi Fidelity style geekery, the guys behind the counter and one of the customers were comparing the basslines on Norman Connor's 'You Are My Starship' (as Sampled by Mobb Deep on 'Trife Life') and Freddie Mcgregor's 'Natural Collie'. Practically identical by all accounts.

Saturday night went to The Lock Tavern in Camden to see Sam DJ. I thought Kay was playing too, but she was absent, and Ade couldn't really be bothered going (presumably the thought of attending that venue without a drink to steady your nerves isn't worth contemplating).

True to form is was completely rammed by the time I got there, which was 09:15 ish, and it was one-in-one-out time already. Nevertheless I got in almost instantly, only to have my progress checked at the stairs to the upstairs bar by a buddha-like Eastern European bouncer who kind of looked like a set of stairs himself (belly, manbreasts and head stacked in order of decreasing size.

Somebody eventually rolled a natural 20 on my behalf, because after about fifteen minutes I was waved upstairs, and the spectre of irritation departed to vex the next person who had to wait.

I think it was Sam's last Saturday there, which is fine by me really, as regardless of influx restrictions imposed by bug-bear like bouncers, the place always has the sardine like air of a tube carriage in rush hour, with added beer and cigarettes. Someone had the bright idea of removing spare tables earlier this year, though they just seem to cram more people in now as there's no extra space.

In the end it was alright though. I sat next to Sam and chatted to him between him putting on records. Got a couple of beers on the DJs tab and smoked some roll-ups. Bailed around half Eleven to catch the tube from Chalk Farm.

Sunday stayed in doing some work, and only left to go to the Chinese Supermarket, where I found to my consternation that they've stopped doing three for a pound sardines. Luckily the Turkish place at the top of Camberwell Church Street still does, so a dietary crisis was averted. I noticed the continental market seemed to have departed the green early, for which I can't blame them. When I walked past on Saturday custom didn't seem particularly brisk, and the only other people on the green were a group of winos drinking tins of super strength cider. Not the sort of folk generally associated with consumption of premium deli foodstuffs.

Rounded the weekend off by watching David Cronenburg's 'Spider' on channel 2. It's quite different from most of his stuff, as it doesn't feature his usual technological fetishes, though it is nontheless very disturbing. I really enjoyed it.

Back in the studio in CHI. Managed to avoid doing very much last Friday but I suspect I'm going to have some retail ads sprung on me any minute now.. Sooner the better I suppose.

There's a cute Japanese freelancer at the other end of the room – she's got really short hair and is rocking a houndstooth dress, glasses with narrow frames and large earrings. She looks like she probably moonlights as an electro deejay. The entire ensemble is making me have to stuff my eyeballs back in intermittently.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Saturday 12

A grey, cool Saturday to be precise.

Awoke early and couldn't get back to sleep. Went and bought some bacon from Kennedy's, who sell the best pork round here. Anyone remember putting crisp packets in the oven as kids, and shrinking them to the size of bus tickets? That's what most bacon seems to do under the grill. Not Kennedy's. None of this '87% pork' for them. Just as well I went early as they quite often sell out by midday.

Came back, drank coffee, read the guardian, and listened to the Arvo Part CD I bought yesterday. How exceedingly middle class of me.

Saw Marvyn looking like he'd just invented a subgenre of hangover. Having gone to an award ceremony for the bank he works for last night, he was unashamedly late.

Not sure what to do now. Might hop on the bus (then the tube) and go 'somewhere'. My friend Vic is down this evening, for eight hours, to go to an Northern Soul all-nighter at the 100 Club on Oxford Street.. Don't think I'm going to make it there, but I might hook up with her for a few beers this evening.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

August, again.

It's old news now, but the above headline I spotted outside a newsagents on Camberwell church street the other week is either evidence of Wasps having read my last post and venting their collective wrath, or the standard of journalism at the London Evening Standard. Maybe they were killer celebrity wasps. Still haven't seen many myself.

I haven't blogged in quite a while because, quite frankly I haven't felt up to the task. Which doesn't mean I haven't tried. On numerous ocassions over the last few weeks I've sat down with the intention of writing something interesting, and promptly given up out of sheer apathy. And I couldn't think of anything interesting (frankly I was hard pressed to think anything other than "it's hot"). Indeed my blog dashboard is currently littered with half written blog posts, discarded like watermelon rinds beneath a rusting tractor.

Only the other night I began writing about a moth the size of a sparrow that was ricochetting off my bedroom lightbulb, tracking it's movements to a bottom left position on my 'Octopus, squid & cuttlefish' poster, before I came to from my reverie and went to bed.

All this low bloggage is a shame as it would appear some people actually read this thing, including, it would seem, the good folk at my local, The Hermits Cave, who somehow worked out who I was. This has in turn prompted me to put on ice my review of The Castle, in case the owner reads it and sends his ghostly dog after me. Watch this space though.

Apropos nothing, Big Brother has really started to wind me up, and actually stresses me out to watch it now. If stroking a cat lowers the blood pressure, watching grown men and women screeching at each other over trivia is the equivalent of watching a bag of kittens being thrown into the Thames and shot at by idiots. I wish they'd bring in Paul Verhoven as guest producer for a week and liven things up with some 'climbing for dollars' style games. I'd buy that for a dollar.

Also, Lily Allen has seemingly become as omnipresent as fried chicken joints in South London, thanks in no small part to the Guardian being on her (purely metaphorical) dick. I've got no real beef, as she actually seems likeable enough, though you know the nation's in thrall to someone when she gets her fashion tips from Pat Butcher and no-one seems to notice. Have you seen those earrings? You could pilot a digger through those no problem. If this seems unfair, remember the girl herself seems to have a fine line in invective, unleashing darts at celebs such as Pete Doherty ("I do think he should be exterminated") Madonna ("The most over-rated person in pop history") and James Blunt ("Rhymes with his surname"). That last one especially is fine by me.

I actually spent a good half hour or so looking for pictures of both Lily and Pat, with the aim of doing a 'separated at birth' type feature, but it didn't work out as they actually look totally dissimilar apart from the loud garments and out of scale jewellery. See what you think.

similarly, I intended to do a a profile on the similarities between the facial hair of Ja Rule and Blakey from 'On The Buses' last year, but sacked it off because no-one cares who Ja Rule is. I'll post it here so you can check it out, though looking at it again, it does seem more like wishful thinking.

In other news I'm working in a flat in Putney at the minute. Not sure what I think about Putney, though it's not somewhere I think I'd gravitate towards instinctively. The corner I'm in is in a suburban bit just off the Richmond High street, and it reminds me superficially of Didsbury in Manchester, only with less gentrified shops. I did spot a pub that doubled as a Thai restaraunt though, so it definately is in London.

Having worked in more urbane locations, one thing I find genuinely bothersome about places like Putney is finding a decent lunch (where's the sushi? The jerk chicken?). The nearest sandwich shop I found had offerings of the order of tuna and sweetcorn, where the readymixed ingredients glower at you from beneath fronds of tired lettuce, under crenellated peaks of some stiffening union of fish and mayonnaise.

Stifling a facial tic I headed next door to the local news agents who predictably dispensed gloomy looking prefabricated sandwiches in plastic containers. A quick scan of the list of the compedious list of ingredients revealed more E's than the Castlemoreton rave. Unbelievably I opted for a Ginsters pasty: a pocket of sick which had the texture of a freshly dead frog with none of the taste. I'm sure this all sounds very bourgeois, but once you've got dined at Il Panino in Soho, any other sandwich just seems vastly sub-standard.

This weekend has been alright. Went to It's Bigger Than last night which was good, though hot. It took two hours to get home too. The weather is generally a lot cooler now, and Summer already seems to be in the act of riding off into the er, sunset. I can't believe the unnerving speed with which this year has whipped past. I'm orking for some of this week, then I'm going to try and savour the last dregs of this heat, whilst getting some other stuff done.