...as a witches tit, in case anyone hadn't noticed.
Between bouts pf shivering this weekend I managed to squeeze in a curry at Safa on Saturday, which has always been pretty decent every time I've been. It certainly looks the part, with its modern designer styling and funny shaped bowls, and happily, the food itself bears this out.
On Sunday went and saw 'Hidden', which Time Out gave six stars (out of five), suggesting that it's the best film..ever? A bold claim, but neverthless an excellent film, and one that will have you pondering for a while, or at least chatting about it in the pub afterwards. It's dark, chic, and existentially nightmarish, and there's no obvious conclusion to be drawn (or at least no single obvious conclusion; at the end the guy sat next to me was spluttering with meldrew-ish fury at the catharsis denied him) I can't be bothered giving you a synopsis, but if you're the kind of person who enjoys whiling away (some) Saturdays staring at art with your head cocked at an acquisitive -yet knowing- angle (like me), I bid you go see it. No really, it is top.
And I won a bottle of wine off the nice chap who runs the The Sun & Doves.. which is cool. I never win anything usually, apart from the odd quid on those irritating National Lottery scratchies, so maybe things are on the up. One of the conditions is that I drink it with someone else (it'd be a bit sad otherwise really, hey) so I gotta find a drinking buddy. In an ideal world, it'd be a date, but it'll probably end up being a cross section of my housemates or DJ PHAZE.
Anyway. I'll blog more when something actually happens.
I wonder how the scene starts. I imagine a bank of security monitors, monochromatic, grainy, fluorescent against the darkness of the dark room that houses them. There are many places shown here, many homes, but on this ocassion, the one who watches these screens chances across my flat. On one of the screens, there's me in bed, turning restlessly in my sleep, as though troubled by some presentiment of what is to come.
The watcher pauses, a gauntleted fist pausing mid stroke above the back of the Gila Monster cradled in his lap. A burst of low, throaty laughter suddenly bubbles forth from unseen lips as the mailed fist darts forward to a bank of buttons inset in the hard wood desk before the screens, rising in pitch and incoherence as fingers dance between buttons labelled 'Gas', 'TV Licensing' 'Electricity' and 'BT bill'.
Of course that's probably not how we were suddenly got landed with about five bills, but hey ho.
Well the weekend was OK. My friends Vic and Paul were down from Manchester and sleeping in our living room on the fold-out sofa-bed, lulled dreamward by the incessent freight rattling up Camberwell church street at all hours. A weekend with these two usually promises enough booze to sink the Bismarck, though proceedings were actually pretty civilised this time.
Went and saw my friend Sam DJing, this time at the Lock Tavern. Regular readers will know that I see this guy play an unholy amount.. it's almost like a contractual obligation built into some unspoken friendship agreement. He was on form, though this time it was a bit busy. If any of the management of the Lock Tavern are reading this, unlikely as it may be: TRY MOVING SOME OF THE CHAIRS, TABLES AND SOFAS OUT OF THE WAY WHEN IT'S REALLY, REALLY, BUSY. Seriously. It gets like an assault course in there, or maybe 'It's a Knockout' is more apt.
To escape the clutches of Camden we had to walk to Holborn, as the N68 is no longer N. Yawn. Some guy was trashing a phone box on the way back, and we left him to it. A complete 'jobs-worth' bus driver also drove of leaving my mate Dunc AKA DJ Phase stranded because he didn't buy a ticket before boarding. Twat. Went back and sipped some ropey white wine and listened to fresh beats.
Sunday I went for a few beers with Gridrunner, Vic, Paul and Dunc, before returning for a house meeting. Cecilia, the Argentinian girl I live with was somewhat disappointed when the realisation dawned that 'House Kitty' wasn't referring to a pet cat for the flat, so much as a new way to spend money on cleaning products.
Also did an ad for my housemates recruitment agency, which he was pleased with, and from the sounds of it, it's a good recruitment agency so I haven't gone over to the darkside.
And that was that. Now Vic and Paul have gone, and the old routine reasserts itself. My friend Will was going to see Oldboy tonight which I had to decline being A, skint and B, skint and knackered. Shame..
Well, I said today promised excitement, and by my standards these days it delivered.. as I went on the London Eye, which is a personal first, even if the weather was 'as bleak as a cheek seeking beak'. I went with my mum and dad who are in town at the minute, and duly met them as arranged at 11 in the morning, where we stopped for a coffee and danish while being mobbed by a crew of greasy pigeons, which kept getting a little close for comfort – hoping I suppose that we'd trade them some crumbs for interesting bacteria; Salmonella anyone? There was a crew of Schoolies on day release sat at the next table, one of whom was feeding the flying rats bits of his crisps, which eventually got them away from us at least.
And then the eye. With the spectre of terrorism looming over London a bit like the Overfiend from that Manga film, there is a phalanx of staff at the gates armed with metal detectors and X-ray machines, and I'm glad to report that they managed to find my crappy Sony Ericcson phone whilst totally failing to locate my (admittedly small) pocket knife. I was almost tempted to go on the rampage with its lethal one-inch blade and/or Phillips screwdriver attachment to teach them a lesson but didn't instead.
Anyway, the ride was good, though It'd maybe have been better if London wasn't shrouded in grey wetness. I was looking to see if I could work out where my flat was, 'cause I can see the eye through my bedroom window. Unfortunately the vista my window affords is somewhat more limited than that gained from ascending the eye, and I couldn't spot anything looking vaguely like Camberwell, unless you count the rest of South London, if you see what I mean.
Took some picures as well with my ageing digital camera, which probably look like most tourist photos taken from The London Eye on a moderately miserable morning in January, ie not that good. I'll see which are worth salvaging.
Once we'd disembarked we wandered up the South Bank Tate-wards. There was a chap writing something in the sand at low tide, which was along the lines of "Everything doesn't suck, love etc." except longer and not as well spelt. He'd got quite a crowd watching him, but once he'd finished he simply got his coat and departed with the minimum of ceremony. Personally, my money had been on him transforming into a huge two headed swan and ascending heavenward, to further spread his message of love throughout the cosmos. No such luck, and he probably just went back to his flat to watch Trisha, or at best to shout at some people on a high street somewhere.
Got to the Tate, where Rachel Whiteread's got an installation in the turbine hall. It's made up of lots of white plastic moulded boxes, and is pretty good, though it does feel like you're walking amidst a load of huge sugarcubes in 'Land of The Giants'.
Also checked out the Henri Rousseau ehibition, which I really enjoyed. his stuff is almost naive in style, but pretty wonderful all the same. Lots of tigers and leapords and men biting and fighting each other amidst luscious looking foliage under blood red suns. It's almost amusing that Rousseau actually never went anywhere tropical, and acquired all his material from second hand sources – which probably accounts for the dreamlike, fantastical element that makes them so charming. One of his later works, 'Snake Charmer' I think, also really reminded me of the cover of 'Tango In the Night' by Fleetwood Mac. What do you reckon? The 'charmer' seems to have metamorphosed into a herd of elephants whilst the snakes have got bored and fucked off, but all the same.. Anyway, that was that, and the rest of the day was quite dull. I wanted to buy a copy of Design Week from the shop but there were none in stock. One of my housemates is having a baby (or his girlfriend is, to be precise) and the two girls I live with are working so hard and getting so stressed it's not even funny. Arg.
Well the culinary experience that is Moro was excellent, located on Exmouth Market in Clerkenwell its 'thang' for the uninitiated – as I quite certainly was, appears to be Moroccan and Spanish food. Now, it aint especially cheap, but it is definitely worth it, especially if you're rocking on somone else's dime, as I was on this ocassion.
Vegetarians don't get much of a look in though I don't think.. Unless you're one of those dubious 'vegetarians' who eat fish.. which is something I have never understood; the essence of the proviso usually seeming to run along the lines of "They're not meat", when clearly even a five year old could tell you, "nor are they a vegetable". Anyway. Legume based dishes were in evidence, but they were heavily outflanked by their meat based cousins.
I had some calves kidneys on toast to start, followed by Sea Bass with a cream sauce and leeks and yes I know I'm possibly starting to sound a bit like Michael Winner in his Sunday Times column 'Winner's Dinners', but consider kind sirs: in my reduced state I mostly subsist on noodles and sardines, or whatever marrow I can extract from the bones the kind people at the workhouse let me smash.
All very nice anyway, and afterwards I hooked up with my friend Will at some unlikely sounding pub on upper street for a couple of jars.
Then today it was back to the dentists for my second filling, which was pretty straightforward. My dentist appears to be the most mild mannered man possible as well, which is reassuring. Then again, I don't think he'd be a very succesful dentist if he modelled himself on a more unpredictable role model, 'The White Angel' from Marathon Man, for instance (though having said that, such characters did seem to prosper in the 50s, if my mum's tales are anything to go by).
Hopefully, tomorrow promises excitement. I'll keep you posted on that though.
I'm really addicticted to a Mashup I heard on an Erol Alkan podcast which is 'In The Club' by 50 Cent blended with 'Closer To God' by Nine Inch Nails (and not Frontline Assembly as I wrongly guessed) It's top, that's all.
I feel slightly ill at the minute. Nothing major, just a sore throat, and general bunged-upness that makes my head feel under disproportionate preassure. My eyes ache too, actually. And I seem to have chewed the inside of my right cheek, though I can't remember when and I don't think that counts as a symptom.
Off to Moro in Clerkenwell tonight with Moms and Pops, so I'll be able to write some kind of restaraunt review tomorrow and pretend I'm Jonathan Meades or something. I hear Nigella is a fan, but I'm not going to let that put me off.
My friend and general king of the keys Al lent me an album yesterday by a collective he played with up in Manchester, and who I've seen a few times. They're called Love The Action, and count amongst their number post-garage supremo Zed Bias, though the project as a whole is obstensibly fronted by Dave 'handsome' Connally. It's... ace. Part soul, part disco, part jazz – all good. Really I think it's the lushest thing I've heard in a while.
I'm listening to a podcast by Erol Alkan. He's currently mixing 'God Only Knows' by the Beach Boys, into Billy Jean, oh wait.. now its some 50 Cent/Frontline Assembly bootleg.. Tsk, bloody DJs eh?
Well, the date on Wednesday went well, and was good fun. Met up in The Old Dispensary on Camberwell New Road, which is pretty much the ideal place to go for a date in Camberwell. Dimly lit, lots of candles, paintings that look like someone actually paid for them, and lots of mirrored surfaces. Oh, and amazing wallpaper.
Of course all this bling shit comes at cost – and you'd be better of getting an appointment with your bank manager prior to eating stroke drinking here, and perhaps arranging some kind of loan; it aint cheap, put it that way. In fact, with prices like these, their annual turnover would probably rivals the GNP of several small African states if they could get enough punters in. As it is it seemd quiet-ish, and somehow I can't see it attaining the critical mass Funky Munky does on a Friday. Which is a good thing, by the way.
So good date, though not sure if it's really got legs, or especially long ones anyway. I always wonder what to do in these kind of circumstances. Ach.
Well, the Inland Revenue finally sent me a missive, further to my telephone conversation with a geordie lassie over the phone last week. Rather than send me the necessary form to set up a direct debit for the weekly self employed NI contributions for the coming year, they decided to invoice me for £120.80 unpaid National Insurance from last year instead. Which I have paid, incidentally. OH YEAH, I have paid.
Anway, all sorted now, hopefully.
Reading 'Where You're At' by Patrick Neate at the minute, which is one man's personal quest to discover the state of Hip Hop today, across the world; and it appears to be either dead, or in rude health, depending on your perspective. His description of Japanese 'B-Boys' obsessive appropriation of Hip-Hop's superficial trappings, e.g baggy jeans, over anything of substance will amuse anyone who's seen the ubiquitous posse of Japanese style hounds camped outside the Bathing Ape store in Soho in the morning, (all for the opportunity to buy some £300 quid trainers or something. Bathing Ape is wack, guys). It's also got a shout to my friend Sam at the beginning, man that dude gets about.
Still trying to work out what I'm doing really.
Did anyone see George Galloway on CBB last night? Man, I usually avoid that shit like the plague, but had the misfortune to catch it last night – and 'catch it' is right.. I actually feel unclean having watched anything that cringeworthy. For anyone who missed it (you lucky people) it involved George 'look at me' Galloway pretending to be a cat, while being, urg, stroked by some Z league actress whose name I think I'll make a point of not learning. Man, there have been ocassions where I've embarassed myself, usually after a few drinks, but George, you're teetotal mate, and on live TV, and an MP.
Cleaning rotas in shared flats are great.. As long as everyone bothers to do their bit. Slliightly annoyed as three people over Christmas haven't bothered to do their stint, and it's now back to me already. Fair enough to some extent, short of ringing Cecilia in Argentina and asking her to pop back over to give the place a quick once over I can't really see how she can be held accountable, and hey, it WAS Christmas. But still irritating considering how pious and generally holier than thou some people have been about the whole thing in the past.
Anyway. Forget that.
Am trying to customise my blog a bit, by tinkering with the templates.. it's all a bit trial and error really, as I haven't really touched html or style sheets in years. I have a sound grasp of the underlying principles, though some of the conventions evade me. I just want to give it a new header, and maybe style it out slightly - nothing too fancy.
Am reading a book called 'Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned', which I presume was the inspiration behind the title of self-styled dance/punk has-beens The Prodigy's last album (not counting the contractual money-spinner that is their recent singles collection, that is) It's by an author called Walter Mosley and is shockingly good, written in the same afro-american 'street' vernacular as Iceberg Slim, if more nuanced in style. The protagonist is one Socrates Fortlaw, an ex-con anti hero who I could best describe as a cross between Lawrence Fishburn's character, Jason 'Furious' Styles in 'Boyz n the Hood', and Marv from 'Sin City', a kind of rough and ready patriach with huge fists.
I might have to go and buy some more by him from the balding shelves of Wordsworth books closing down sale (sniff).
PS: I've just noticed, having written the above that Lawrence Fishburn actually starred in the title role of a film adaptation of the book. Whaddya know.
An interesting weekend, then. Friday evening, given the choice between David Cronenburg's Crash at the Price Charles, and the delights of evening beers in Camberwell, we opted for the latter (me and my friend Dunc). What started off as a fairly civilised premise rapidly became somewhat hazy however, by the time we reached 'The Funky Munky'.
I don't know about the 'Munky'. It's alright. For your two quid entry you bascially get to see lots of Camberwell folk guzzling alcohol, and get to hear pretty much all of Motown's back catalogue played back to back, interspersed with some Michael Jackson for good measure. Music that's guaranteed not to offend, but neither, however, get the pulse racing. Space is at something of a premium also, so one to avoid if you're of a claustraphobic disposition or wanted to indulge in some spontaneous cat-swinging.
We went in any event as my mate had arranged to meet a girl there, and he somehow, as he always does, managed to blag his way in for free while I paid. We got a table thankfully, and were shortly joined by the girl and her friend. The rest is something of a blur.. but lots of people bought me beer, that towards the end I couldn't actually be bothered drinking. I also had a few drags on a roll-up, and for those who don't know, sudden deep intakes of nicotine after not smoking for a bit aint actually that pleasant – a bit like the sensation of vertigo, which, crossed with being drunk, is even less life affirming. Imagine standing atop a flagpole at night, having inhaled poppers; it's nothing like that, but you get the idea.
Somehow though, I actually managed to pull, so I can only suppose she was as pie-eyed as me.
Saturday was a bit of a write off after that. I intended to go to see some art with my friend Will, but actually ended up staying in bed 'til two, rather than brave the wet rainy misery squinting at me through the curtains.
Saturday night, me Dunc and Ade went to the Thai house on Camberwell Chruch Street, which is nice, though, tip: when eating prawn crackers be wary of how much of the oily chilli shit they serve with it you actually ingest; if you actually want to taste anything for the next hour or so, of course.
Thence we progressed to Brick Lane and some some slightly odd Cafe-cum-barbecue-cum-bar-cum-club called 1001 I think. It was OK, though a slightly unlikely looking proposition.
Then we went to my friend Sam's night 'It's Bigger Than' at 93 Feet East, which I go to an inordinate amount, and is reliable fun, though it ends a bit abrubtly at one. This time one of the guys from Lemon Jelly was playing, who, in my opinion, looks a bit like Chris Finch from 'The Office', and wasn't actually all that amazing at all.
On a couple of occasions at that night I've ended up making a bit of a dick out of myself – weirdly, by mistaking my friend Dunc for someone else. On NYE 2004, while admittedly quite squiffy, I mistook someone at the bar with their back to me as him, and (don't ask me why) sidled up and bit them on the neck, only realising as my teeth made contact that it was in fact, a complete stranger.
A similar if less extreme example happened last night, when while passing someone who I thought was Dunc in the corridor chatting to a girl (again, back to me) I jabbed them them in the lower back then continued without looking round, only to step into the main room and see... Dunc. Sigh.
Anyway. Grabbed a salt-beef bagel after and headed home.
Well. Sunday was Sunday. Wactched some of 'Ace Ventura Pet Detective' where Jim Carrey's twittering rubber faced antics did actually make me laugh some. The movie highlight of the night has got to be the Aussie horror film 'Razorback', who's central conceit is the time honoured gambit of taking a creature, any creature, and making it either really big, or featuring loads of them, and imbueing them with malevolence and a taste for human flesh. In this instance it's a Razorback, which is kind of a wild boar (topical eh?) on the rampage in the outback. It aslo features a couple of nasty redneck types, who are the true villains of the piece, and a rugged outdoorsman type, transformed by hatred for Razorbacks after the huge one ate his grandson (top line: "Those Razorbacks destroyed everything he had") He's basically a landlocked equivalent of Robert Shaw's salty sea dog character in Jaws, and yes, he gets eaten.
Funnily enough my housemate had one of his colleagues, an Aussie guy, over, and they were getting pissed in the kitchen and generally being quite loud, so between the film and him I could basically hear Australians shouting in stereo.
Well, just got an appointment to get my fillings done on the 16th. Still quiet otherwise. Have registered as self employed, so should start chasing up potential work through other avenues. January is legendarily quiet though.. or maybe that's just me. Dole perhaps?
Anyway.. date on Wednesay evening, so we'll see how that goes. Interesting to see what the girl I met on Friday is like in a more sober light.
Well, it's been over a week since that fatefull day, boxing day, when I tore up my packet of Lucky Strikes and declared that I'd quit smoking, and it's all been pretty plain sailing.. apart from yesterday, when I got got crazy stressed in the afternoon, then went and drank beer in the evening.
Got home and really wanted to smoke, so started frantically turning over my room to find a tab; but there were none in evidence. My housemates door was open, and I assumed he was out so strode in and switched on the light to see if he'd got any cigs stashed for 'special' occasions.. but he was in, lying in bed staring at me slightly bemusedly.
"Er, alright paul, got any cigarettes?"
he replied, and that was pretty much that. All for the best really.
Well, I'm not sure what I'm doing at the minute. Feeling a bit low, and I've got no work lined up in the immediate future. Truth be told, I'm really questioning what I'm doing in London at all. I really want time to sort out my portfolio, so should use time off to address this. Money is still a bit of a worry though.
New year was about as civilised as it's been in the last four years or so. My friend Dunc organised a party at his house, and in total, nine people showed up.. It was good fun though, and there were decks there as well, my main gripe there being that all of my records got spun about three times.. I don't think that the fabric of the universe itself could have withstood another play of 'Teardrops' by Womack & Womack in such a localised vicinity.
New Years Day involved a hike to Manor House to bid farewell to my friend Renee, who's off travelling. We'd all chipped in for an iPod for her - one of those insanely flashy video numbers which I coveted for myself. Various people had done a mix cd for her with various songs on, and as my playlist was clearly all she'd ever need, I offered to 'look after' her new bit of kit, and ease her burden while she was on the road. I don't even think I got a response beyond a polite laugh for that one.
Watched 'Catch Me if You Can' the other night, with Walken DiCaprio and Hanks, which was really good and features some excellent animated titles that are reminiscent of Saul Bass's ouvre. Followed this with Death of a Salesman, starring Hoffman and Malkovich.. which is also brilliant if very tragic and almost painful to watch in bits, and with at least one glaring continuity error (vanishing glass of scotch in the washroom).
And then yesterday sucked. Ah well. Back to the drawing board.
I've had the worst day of the year, so far, and though that aint saying much, my spidey sense informs me it will also take some beating. Basically I went for an interview for a job which I had no interest whatsoever, as an artworker at a repro house. It was all very technical and pre-press, and required someone fastidious with little interest in creative input. It was also shift based, so one week was 7am to 3pm, and the next 3pm to 11pm. I basically said yes to the interview because I had very little else on, and once I'd agreed, felt duty bound to attend.
But I really wasn't arsed.
On relection of course the fault lies with me completely. If you do anything purely out of a sense of obligation, then you are fooling nobody but yourself, wasting everybody's time, and making 52 varieties of prick out of yourself.
Within five minutes of the interview starting, I wanted to get up and say,
"Look guys, I'm wasting your time, I'll get my coat" etc.
But still floundered and ad-libbed away. I really wished I was somewhere else. Sample exchange from interview:
Interviewer: "So, why do you want to work for (company's name)?"
(Thinks "I don't")
I can't even remember what I said, but it was rubbish. I think the guys actually tried to give me some advice, even though they were annoyed and actually stated explicitly 'you're wasting our time'.