Thirty Thousand Streets

Friday, February 16, 2007


It's been a pretty barren week really. A featureless desert of mediocrity punctuated by the odd spike of misadventure.

On Valentine's day I stayed at work 'til eight, photo-shopping visuals of sub-menus on mobile phone screens. That was my hot date. As I left the building I smashed my knee against the plate glass door in the lobby with a crack like a rifle's retort. A couple (it would be a couple) passing by whirled round in surprise, and determined not to add insult to injury, I feigned insouciance, strolling up the street until I'd turned the corner, whereupon I collapsed double, clutching at my knee in agony.

The rest of the night was redeemed somewhat by the presence of a couple of bottles of Czech beer, and 'Preston' storming off Never Mind The Buzzcocks because Simon Amstell was taking the piss out of 'Chantel'.

Thursday night I went to Allez Allez, which was good, but I was fairly pissed before I even went there as I quaffed about four pints in the Bath House on Dean Street with my production homies. I wobbled out around eight, and purchased some food from the Japanese place on Oxford Street. Two triangular rice briquettes with teriyaki chicken hearts.

The night was good, anyway. The journey home wasn't. I caught the 35, and promptly fell asleep, waking up just as it was passing through Elephant.. on its way back into town. The bus had gone all the way to Clapham, and I'd awoken on its return orbit. It was ten past three.

I walked, tired and confused, from London Bridge to Elephant, where I bought a Columbian pattie.. which was like a fluorescent yellow deep fried samosa. Caught the bus home and got to sleep sometime after four.

I was tired on Friday. Fucking tired. Work was dull, as it has been, but then ended suddenly, as these bookings do. I retreat a point of sale hero. Freelance bookings, when they finish after an extended stint, are always a bit like a mini redundancy, announced with minimal fanfare: "Tom, it's quietened down now, so we won't be needing you next week". Which is fine, but after three months, I have to undergo a desk clearing ritual – weeding sign-off sheets from the miscellaneous bale of paper chaff perched on the end of the desk, doing some cursory filing and sweeping flakes of breakfast pastry into the cold five milimetres or so of Starbucks Venti Americano in the paper cup abandoned left of the blurry monitor. Even though I was pretty content to be going, there was something slightly sombre about the affair.

Three months working somewhere also seems just enough time to get a broad understanding of a particular workplace's politics. Who's shagging who, who's good at their job, who's crap at their job (by general concensus or otherwise) what drugs such and such did at the last Christmas bash etc. etc. Kind of interesting in a gossipy kind of way, though I'm glad I don't have to get too embroiled in it all. Nice bunch of people there, generally, though it was all quite quiet and intense. A real heads-down graft type of place, or as one of the artowkers was saying " a bit like a library".

Desk cleared I hiked up to The Angel after work, to meet Fran in a pub on Liverpool Road with her friend Kev. It was really good to see Fran, who was over from Jersey for an audition. The part sounded really interesting, too.

I left around eleven to get the tube as I didn't want to sleep on anyone's floor. A huge poster for Orange Mobile opposite the platform was really getting on my tits. The current campaign's strapline is: "People are good together" and the poster depicted two girls lying in a park in the sun looking at something out of shot.. only, by some trick of perspective they appear to share a single head. Like most of Orange's advertising I found it to be annoyingly obtuse, but more than that — misguided. I think Orange are attempting to give themselves a kooky offbeat appeal by the slightly whimsical tone of their imagery, but this was just slightly creepy; hallucinatory, David Lynch-esque. I moved up the platform to get away from it.

On the tube I read Friday's copy of the Metro, which had a really depressing spread on the Peckham shootings. One quote in really managed to wind me up a bit, where Charles Bailey of anti-gun group Don't Shoot said (amongst other things):

"Guns aren't coming from black people but they are being sold to black people. We need help from the Government to stop this happening"

Huh? Meaning what? Shouldn't sale of guns be stopped full-stop? Is this some kind of conspiracy then? Surely of more paramount importance is demarginalising whole swathes of angry south London kids, and teaching people not to fetishise violence. A proliferation of firearms is no good thing, but more worrying still is that people—kids—actually want to buy them and use them so wantonly.

Anyway. A hairy topic that I'm not going to attempt to grapple with right now.

I arrived back in Camberwell around 12. There's an Eastern European alcoholic guy I see a round quite a lot. Mid-thirties. Stubbly. Generally wears a baseball cap and shades. He quite often sidles up to people and starts holding forth in a rambling pissed diatribe he finds hilarious. The other day I saw him outside a liquor store with a laundry bag stuffed with nine two-litre bottles of rotgut cider. He had a can in his hand. Last night he was involved in some kind of argument with a group of rudegirls who were aiming high kicks at his chest, and yelling things like "Fack off dirty tramp man". Oh dear.

I got in and retired to bed feeling slightly troubled by it all.

Saturday today, and on a more positive note.. Tlon books has had a stay of execution. Yes, rumours of its demise were greatly exagerated by yours truly, though things aren't looking too sunny. According to the guy at the counter the landlords (Southwark council no less) have been upping the rent, and seem to want to evict them so they can effect the much lauded renewal of Elephant with no strings attached. I signed a petition about it, and he's going to email me some info, which I'll post here when I get it.

I might go to Old Street tonight.. might not though. Not sure if I can be bothered. I'm also pretty skint until I can transfer some money on monday. We'll see.


Zeno Cosini said...

As a freelancer, I guess you have to get your "Littlest Hobo" routine down pat.

There's a voice that keeps on calling me.

Down the road, that's where I'll always be...

The Eyechild said...

Yeah, particularly fitting given the Star's (the dog's) name..

"The Littlest Hobo... Starring...


That's one pretty fucking big part.

Zeno Cosini said...

Yeah! Imagine casting London in your movie. But to play a different city:

"London IS... Sacramento."

I reckon the fact that its handlers called it London was actually a reference to The Call of the Wild by Jack London. But I guess we'll never know for sure...