Thirty Thousand Streets

Monday, October 30, 2006

National Express

My trip to Manchester this weekend gone was moderately successful. I managed to see most of my friends, in spite of them inhabiting different areas, and having pretty different social commitments; arriving on Friday evening and departing on Sunday afternoon gives you a pretty slender window of opportunity to timetable everything in, though I did my best.

Caught up with Vic and Paul on Friday, and went to a bar called Common in the Nortern Quarter, which has lots of illustration on the walls, before getting a lift off Kenny back to Heaton Moor in his latest Japanese second hand motor (a Honda this time). Ended up sitting up round at Vic and Paul's flat well into the wee hours, listening to Northern Soul and other delights on this amazing old school DJing unit which Paul's dad lent him – all it's missing is the telephone handset to cue tracks up on and it could be the seventies again. I think we got a bit carried away as the landlord rang up the next day to say there'd been two complaints about the volume. Oops.

Saturday went for a trawl round Heaton Moor's charity shops, though didn't find a thing worth having. Wandered past my old place down into Burnage were I bought a few CDs at Sifters, before catching the number 50 bus into town.

Here I had my first encounter in years with a couple of good old Manchester scallies, who you almost forget about in London, but are instantly recognisable by their uniform grade one haircuts, and the fact that they tuck their trousers into their socks (I can't believe they think that's a good idea). The exchange was unremarkable. They called me some names, I wanted to bang their rodent-like skulls together but decided it really wasn't worth it. The end.

Got to Manchester and caught up with my brother Dan briefly, before heading over to Chorlton where I met up with Fran, and later Crenan, who'd just got back from Jersey. We sat in the horse and Jockey talking and it was generally a bit like old times.

After that I caught the 22 bus toward Stockport, and after quite a bit of walking eventually made it to my friend Stu's party in Reddish. Everyone but me was in Fancy dress, so I guess, in a sense, contextually speaking, I was the most outlandishly dressed of them all. My one concession was to fix a comedy moustache to my upper lip for a duration not exceeding twenty minutes. We partied until around six, before I caught a taxi to my brother's place in Heaton Norris and crashed in his front room.

And then it was Sunday and time to go home.

The worst thing about the weekend unfortunately, was getting there and back, as I'd opted (foolishly in retrospect) to take the National Express coach. Bad move, and as of yesterday I have made a solemn pact with myself to under no circumstances ever take the coach again of my own volition. Ever. Life is simply far too short.

It was bad enough on the way up when we ended up diverting through Alderly Edge, but the trip back down was the coaching equivalent of dropping brown acid, and ended up taking over six hours. It would have been more bearable, but the last person to get on the coach was a really fat lady who decided she wanted to sit next to me. I don't have a problem with fat people necessarily, unless they're sitting on my seat while I'm in it, and this lady's backside was threatening to annexe mine.

I sat, cramped up, feeling hung over and miserable, alternately reading a book about the Manson killings and watching the 'toilet engaged' light at the front of the coach slyly wink on and off at me.

"Please god, make this stop"

I thought. It didn't (draw your own conclusions here).

The worst bit was in Luton where the traffic was forced into one lane to pass a flatbed truck putting out traffic cones. It took an hour and a half to pull abreast of it, wherupon I noticed they'd just put out the last one.

I eventually got into Victoria and battled my way home, but by then it was getting on for ten o'clock. Nearly seven hours since I'd caught the coach. I could've flown to New York in that time. I hadn't.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Up North Trip

Right. I'm off to Manchester for the weekend. The iPod is strapped down with life affirming soul joints, and I've got a bag of limes to ward off scurvy mid coach journey. Yes it takes that long.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

'Washing Up Bowls'

It was my turn on the flat cleaning rota the other night, which, if nothing else, gave me turn to meditate on a feature of many kitchens, which I think is utterly superfluous, but still persists to linger on, like a kitchen based appendix (the wasted, vestigal stomach in the human body, rather than the bit at the back of that textbook you never read).

I'm talking about washing up bowls, and I'd like to invite each and every one of you to explain what practical purpose they serve. Feel free to use simple, childlike terms and intonation, diagrams, pictionary style sketches, or, if you peep me on the real (I can often be found in the Hermit's Cave holding forth about such trivia) maybe you'd prefer to communicate through the medium of mime, charades style.

Be as patronising as you wish, only please, can someone explain, 'cause I just don't get it.

Ok first and foremost I realise you can wash things up in them, but then you could also wash things up in the sink they're placed inside. To use an analogy it seems like placing a slightly smaller bath within an existing bath when bathing. Or building a house only to live in a shed inside it.

The restricted space the bowl allows basically means that you have less room to manipulate the crocks, less elbow room to grease the elbows so to speak.

But probably the worst thing about them is their materials however – as being constructed from low grade plastic they are subject to inummerable abrasions from the cutlery that shimmies daily across it's surface, or the scalding pans that brand weals into it.

These no doubt act as a matrix for a rogues gallery of bacteria, for whom the washing up bowl is probably to germs as the Costa Del Sol is to ex-pat British felons: Warm and accomodating.

Despite being cleaned regularly with the bleach equivalent of shock and awe, ours has still managed to acquire a 24/7 greasy sepia tinge, and a bum-fluff beard of frayed plastic. It looks rank. If it was a person it'd probably be someone like one of Roald Dahl's twits.. certainly no-one you'd want in your kitchen, let alone your sink.

Doubtless someone is thinking:

"why don't you just replace it then, if it's so manky?"

But I don't want to. I don't want another one when there's a perfectly good stainless steel sink there that everyone seems to forget about. I almost want to suggest flinging it out at a house meeting but I'm sure I'll just be met with an awkward, uncomprehending silence, because, of course, the bowl is the sink: and I might as well suggest we go and wash our dishes in the blood of newborn badgers for want of any consensual response.

In one place I lived in, the bowl (and I will stop going on about this soon, I promise) was circular, and only fractionally larger than a dinner plate, so when plates were stacked within and you needed to wash them you either required a gecko-like adhesive touch (which would be better served fighting crime) or to upend the lot into the sink anyway. Arrrrgh!

I used to hide it, but my housemate would simply find it and re-manifest it back in place like it was some kitchen based groundhog day – a utensil themed cycle of eternal recurrence. But why?

There was a piece in the Metro recently discussing the imminent relaunch of Smash, which for anyone lucky enough to have been not born yet or dead at the time, is what happens when people pretend something tastes like potato when it doesn't. It seems odd to think that in these nefarious, virgin olive drizzled times, anyone could excited about a powdered substance that isn't typically inhaled in toilet cubicles, but the allure here is nostalgia, apparently. People just have an unquestioning affection for the chintz that lurked in the cupboards and kitchens of their youth.

Another prime example of this would be those plastic swing top bins, which on the surface were really neat, but whose central design conceit (the swingy bit) was actually flawed, in that it either got too full to swing (though don't we all, eh?), or the act of scraping leftover food in would typically deposit a slug trail of food on the bin's lid.

Evolutionary pressures do seem to have edged that one out the door, somewhat, but in the washing up bowl a true design parasite persists, good friends, attached, remora like, to the seamy underbelly of the nations kitchens. A simple chrome sink, or ceramic basin will suffice for my loft appartment and/or country pile (if and when I come into posession of either).

So to return to my original point, is anyone up to the challenge of defending the humble 'washing up bowl'? can anyone be arsed? I suppose there is an industry built around the construction of this tat, so it's continued popularity probably ensures a subset of the nation's injection moulders have got jobs to go to on an industrial estate somewhere, but otherwise, I'm quite literally, not buying it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Went out to the Sun & Doves Tuesday evening, for the film night.

The screening in question was Tod Browning's 'Freaks', which a very succinct affair, clocking in at under an hour and a half.

It's quite a wierd beast, being a darkly comic tale about the members of a travelling circus troupe. Ed tells me the director is often lauded as 'the Edgar Allen Poe' of film, and it shows, as the final twist is really quite disturbing. There are definitely shades of it in The League Of Gentleman, I would say.

On a sadder note I was sorry to hear that a friend of a friend had been attacked on Sunday, and beaten quite badly on his road in Croydon – having been set upon by 15 youths. Having been attacked myself in the past (albeit by fewer thugs) I can empathise, as it's a pretty dehumanising experience.

The sad fact is that, aside from being aware of your surroundings, there's often not a right lot you can do about it. Sometimes your number gets called, you get singled out, and that's that. In this sense, aside from keeping aware of where you are, and what's going on, it's almost impossible to legislate fully for the actions of idiots, and hence hardly worth wasting your life worrying about it. Indeed, when it happens, it often occurs so quickly you hardly have time to be frightened, and the fear itself is somewhat mitigated by the adrenalin coursing through your system and blurring the edges of everything.

When I got mugged in 2003, it was about half one in the morning, just round the corner from my mum and dad's house. I was weaving my way home, quite drunk after a night out. The first I knew about it was being slammed into from behind, whereupon I tried to turn and was swept to the ground. The back of my head rang against the slabs.

I briefly remember being pinned to the pavement by two sportswear clad rats, one's knee in my kneck. "give us yer money and yer mobile" he hissed, while they rifled my pockets. Then I passed out.

I came too shortly in the street, pretty much the textbook definition of a punch drunk with empty pockets, and managed to stagger to my mum and dad's house, where I was put to bed. The next day when I awoke, the back of my head was matted with blood, and there was a footprint shaped bruise on my neck (you could practically make out the Rockport logo).

The emotional aftermath to events like this is usually a mixture of disbelief and anger: disbelief that people will do this kind of thing for chump change, anger that you were less able to stop it happening to you. In the abstract it's tempting to fantasise how these kind of scenarios might play out if you actually were as nails as fuck, and your hapless would-be attackers were soon to receive a lesson they'd never forget, delivered with bone crushing force in some brutal and esoteric martial art.

"Leave now" you'd intone, your voice cracking strangely as they slowly encircled you "we don't have to do this"

But, alas, this isn't The Bourne Identity, I was always better at drawing than fighting, and breaking off for a quick bout of sketching mid-brawl just isn't an option sometimes.

In any event, the police were extremely helpful and understanding in my case, which is something which doesn't seem to have happened in this instance. Indeed, it sound as if the interviewing officers were pretty unsympathetic, going as far to suggest that the chap in question did something to instigate the beating he received, which pretty soundly adds insult to injury. I think he's going to complain.

Anyway. Thursday night now, and tomorrow's Friday. Can't wait for the weekend. Cecilia mentioned a 'Festival of Light' which is 'gahn dahn' in Myatts fields tomorrow eve, from half six onwards. I wonder if it will be anything like the legendary 'Son et Lumieres' which we ocasionally asked directions to in GCSE french, but which along with Citron Presses I've zero empirical knowledge of, outside of vague references in the Escalier series of French textbooks (whose protagonist, Oliver Oignon, would inevitably be augmented by a crudely drawn cock and balls on every page which he appeared).*

Come to think of it, has anyone been to a Son et Lumiere, or drunk a Citron Presse, or better yet, gone to a Son et Lumiere and drunk a Citron Presse?* Are these genuinely French cultural predelictions, or the kind of useless bollocks you ocasionally get taught in school? Answers on a postcard please to the usual address.

* I googled hard for a picture of Oliver Oignon. Not a sausage.

**I guess that would count as light refreshment arf, arf.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Rat Records and Retail

They say you're never further than ten metres away from a rat in London, though in Camberwell it's probably closer to five. This doen't really matter though, as in rats' favour there is Camberwell's very own music vendor, Rat Records on Camberwell road.

Not many Saturdays are complete for the Eyechild without a nose through the racks of this place, similar to when when I used to live on Kingsleigh road in Stockport and was contractually obliged to stride down to Mr Sifter's place in Burnage for a shufti at the wares there of a weekend (Sifter's incidentally getting a mention in Oasis's 'Shakermaker' by the way).

Being a second hand shop, it's stock does fluctuate in quality quite wildly, so as ever when it comes to digging, the key is frequent browsing, because when you do hit a seam of vinyl gold, it's usually very fairly priced.

Yesterday while doing some auditory browsing through a stack of twelve inches I came across a tune I'd been searching for for ages, which featured on a pre-hyphy DJ Shadow mix he did for Kiss Manchester in 1996. My mum had since thrown out my shoebox of mixtapes and I'd devoted many fruitless minutes googling half remembered snippets of lyrics to try and get a fix on what it was. I can now report the record in question is the the 'Dedicated EP' by EDO.G, and the particular tune being 'Acting' off the B side, which I think Shadow then blended into 'Brownsville' by MOP (Damn that was a good mix). Anyway. Fiver. Result!

I do wonder how the owners of Rat Records manage to make a living out of it though, as by all accounts, trading in Camberwell isn't easy, unless your'e a fried chicken vendor or sell rotgut cider – the demise of Wordsworth Books alone is testament to this. (In fact, for a fascinating insight into the pressures which beset the Inn Trade round here, you should get yourself to Camberwell Online and read Mark Dodd's comments in this post. You might have to dig down a bit, mind.

The problems which beset specialist music retail are not specific to Camberwell of course. Looking at the amount of record shops which have closed in recent years in Soho surely gives some impression as to how tough the market is. My old mate DJ Phase once got talking to Nicky Blackmarket in erm, Blackmarket records, who was lamenting the impact online shops had had on trade. The counter argument to this I suppose, might run that buying online saves you the hassle of circumnavigating the bloated egos of people who quite often work in record shops; but we will all miss them when they're gone. Anally retentative vinyl enthusiasts will anyway.

The advantages of shopping online are obvious though, just in terms of it's convenience – and it always great getting a package in the post. Depending on an item's obscurity you are also far more likely to find it on the net – recently I tramped round all of Soho's specialist music stores searching for a copy of K-Def's rather wonderful instrumental album "Willie Boo Boo – The Fool" only to be met with blank looks. I eventually got a copy online from Fat City in Manchester, but someone in London lost a sale there, by missing a trick.

Speaking of retail there was a spot on London Tonight the other day reporting how Westminster council might use compulsory purchase orders to hound out the traders who perpetually hawk naff logo shirts and discount jeans round the Tottenham Court Road end. The main thrust of their proposal seemed to be that these kind of shops cheapen the tone of Oxford Street and their ousting would pave the way for a more gentrified shopping experience. There were a few gormless voxpops with the man on the street, mostly along the lines of "Better brands down the other end innit".

Now as I'm not in the market for nylon Union Jack knickers or a t-shirt with the legend "Nobody knows I'm a lesbian" embazoned across it, I'm probably the last person to actually frequent these places, but I have to admit, they do have their place in London, and do, in their own way, add local colour. The fact that Oxford street at times resembles an obscure plane of Dante's inferno is such a cliche it hardly bears recanting, but the spectacle of shops in perpetual liquidation and 'golf sale man' are merely props in this scene rather than their causal origins.

Frankly, I find the notion of discussing regeneration purely in terms of retail unimaginative in the extreme. Sure, the Tottenham Court Road end of Oxford Street does look as rough as dreads on white guys, but the kind of development I'd advocate would be things along the same lines as the proposed redevelopment around the base of Centre Point, which in it's current incarnation is to civic planning what daisycutter bombs are to human life.

Moreover, I find the prospect of simply copying and pasting the same mile of bland brands that populate the other end of Oxford Street immensely depressing. One of the things that does get me down about London is the flavourless corporate facade of high street chains that wallpaper practically every stretch of road, such as yes, you guessed it, Starbucks (a handy whipping boy in these kind of rants if ever there was one). Why anyone would want to allow these coporporations to gain more of a chokehold over London is beyond my ken (see diagram attached).*

So back off Westminster, You don't know jack.

*Photo by Cpl. Benjamin M. George. Apparently.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday 13th

Another day, another dollar.

This is turning into my longest stint so far this year – two and a half weeks so far and I'm booked in here next week too.

It's been a week of late(ish) nights, due to a pitch that's just gone down. Wednesday I was here til half one, and all in all. it's been quite tiring.

On the other hand, it hasn't really infringed too much on my generally nocturnal nature, as I don't generally get to sleep before half one anyway, and I felt more sorry for the account executive briefing me, who's been working as late or later than that most nights and has been in over the weekend.

She came into the studio yesterday and got a little weepy because she was so tired, and had been skipping her regular physiotherapy to get the job done. She was really under pressure to stay in right up to the pitch, but I think eventually managed to hand over what was essentially a job well done and go home and get some sleep.

Anyway. I've made some money which is good.

Bumped into S the other day in the lobby, who I worked with quite a bit last year. She really is quite distractingly pretty.. so much so in fact that I find it quite hard to work out whether I'm talking or breathing when in conversation with her. She's got a lovely face. I don't see much of her here anyway, though. *sigh*

It's now Friday the 13th, and I've just had fish and chips for lunch from the cafeteria, which was quite nice – the batter was good and crispy anyway. It also came with some homemade tartare sauce which was a nice touch. The chips weren't as good, mind. Bit flabby.

Thus far I've usually gone out for lunch and wandered up to Camden, to take in the sights (alternative looking people with eccentrically coloured hair and complicated boots) sounds (usually some warbling trance) and smells (joss mostly, and troughs of Chinese food).

Unfortunately I forgot my Freelancers pass today, which makes moving round the building a bit like Alien Breed when you ran out of keys. Indeed getting past the tag team of cheaply suited receptionists in the lobby is such a bore I won't even endeavor to face it today.

Anyroad. The weekend comes, my cycle hums. Groovin' all week with you. Not sure what I'm up doing over the next couple of days, but I could really do with getting a new digital camera. My old Nikon Coolpix is well and truly fecked (even when fully charged it now only takes about three photos before the servos within utter a piteous bleat and the lens retreats, turtle-like back into it's shell) Any suggestions as to make and model gratefully accepted.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tax Tuesday

I'm working back at a large ad agency in Camden. There's a variety of accounts, but I've mostly been occupied with that of a certain high street retailer.

For professional reasons I obviously can't divulge who this is, but if I said:

"This isn't just retail advertising, it's ..... ... ....... advertising"

In a breathy female voice like the Cadburys Caramel rabbit (remember her?) you might have a clue. And if you were to think of a certain 60s model who currently features in their campaign, I'm sure you'd soon twig who I'm talking about.

Also, this brand is very close to the national heart – you could almost say it's the opposite of sado-masochism.

On your marks, get set, go!

Anyway. I'm bored right now, hence writing this.

Weekend was OK. Went out for Ed's new housemate Madhu(?)'s bithday on friday. Thirty three apparently, but she looks much younger.

Anyway we went to, yes, the Hermit's cave and generally shot the breeze.. The place was thronged with art students in tight jeans, some of whom were ogling the Kinder egg I gave Madhu until Ed had a word.

About the most eventful thing was someone shuffling over and offering me 50p for a roll-up, which I refused, offering instead that he help himself. At this point Ed took receipt of the Pentagonal coin, and our new friend took this as a cue to calmly lift the packet of Golden Virginia from the tab and dart out the pub, causing all three of us to do a double take.

Exeunt me and Ed, pursuant, only to find the street outside as quiet as Margate in the winter, bar the usual usual convention of hop-heads, rudeboys and assorted lost souls who trickle down Camberwell Church Street's leg at all hours.

Slightly puzzled, we retired inside, only for odd-lad to return five minutes later brandishing the baccy pouch and demanding we return his 50p. Things get slight hazy here, but seconds later I found myself outside having to separate him and Ed, and telling the bounder to:

"Just smoke it all mate"

which was itself a a nearly subliminal uppercut I thought.. proving my innate superiority by refusing to brawl over tobacco of all things (plus tobacco is bad for you, so perhaps he'll smoke it all get ill and die. Which would be poetic comeuppance I suppose).

Perhaps he'll even contribute, in the grand scheme of things, to me giving up (again).

Anyway. Sunday went round for a roast at David's flat. Ate loads, then started playing board games – including Trivial Pursuit, which my team triumphed at, before receiving a sound birching at 'Cranium', which is over-wrought and stupid anyway. I also had a Pop Tart for the first time since, ooh, 1996? (and vowed to reacquaint myself with said toaster pastries soon).

Also trying to sort out PAYE on my limited enterprise, but the company acting as accountants seem, as usual, to be doing very little to help. I think the new year might be time to part ways with them, however much of a temporary inconvenience it presents.

In the interim I seem to spending a lot of quiet moments ringing an engaged number in Shipley. I'm almost glad it doesn't connect as the Inland Revenue is one of the more bureaucratic articulations of the human spirit, and trying to explain why I've not paid tax I'm not yet due to pay, to a bored someone-or-other in East Yorkshire on a tuesday afternoon (whilst at work) has fairly obvious limits in terms of enjoyment.

On the other hand, much like dental surgery, it really isn't worth deferring too long, so I would prefer to get it out of the way, pronto.

Film night at the Sun and Doves tonight, but I'll probably give it a miss as I've got some other stuff that really needs doing. Cheerio.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Something I ocasionally do when I'm trying to avoid getting down to more important stuff is have a nose through the referrals page for my blog, which (for the uninitiated) basically breaks down things like visitor numbers and frequency into statistics. The referrals section itself is a bit where you can see what phrases people fed into a search engine to rock up at the front door of your web place.

It really is quite fascinating in a limited kind of way. Recent searches that led to The Eyechild include:

lily allen earrings

funky eye glasses for kids

deven miles (That's ma boy right there)

funky town lipps ink (sic)

number 9 printed all over hip hop fashion t shirt (presumably bad buoy fave Akademics tings)

nearest cashpoint lock tavern pub

Given that my blog is about the least useful thing ever unless you're interested in wasps, me slagging off tv, or the Hermit's Cave, you can but feel sorry for the poor souls directed here by the web equivalent of faulty Sat-Nav. Without judicious use of quotation marks search engines do rather seem to snuffle excitedly at disparate words in any body of text, sometimes in my blog's case when the posts are months apart.

On the other hand, part of the internet's charm is that you can easily waste hours of your life being lured from point A to B by the graffiti that daubs the walls of the information superhighway, so maybe people enjoy the average 1:14 minutes they spend here once they've arrived.

This post is particularly low on content due to it's very self-referential nature, so for anyone led here looking for something critical to your continued existence, now's probably the time to hit return and revise that google search.