Thirty Thousand Streets

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wet Wednesday..

I'm not working this week.. which was an actual decision on my part. Firstly because I've got some boring stuff to sort out, secondly because I've got some interesting things to do, and thirdly, because last week at work was so boring it was in itself a strong argument for entire new sub-categories of tedious. Most of the week ground agonisingly by making minute cosmetic changes to a bit of direct mail that was, ultimately, always going to be a bit of direct mail. I must have reworked the same 'roundel' device regarding the amazing value of an offer at least three times. But mostly I didn't have very much to do at all, which meant I just sat in the corner of the compact agency I was ensconced in, alternately browsing the internet and fidgeting. Easy money in some ways, but excruciatingly dull in most others.

On the subject of boring stuff I've sorted out some outstanding NIC and PAYE contributions that I thought had been paid ages ago. Obviously the black hole of the British postal service had simply swallowed the cheque as I kept recieving ominous letters from the Inland Revenue. What always gets right on my tits about this is that the office in question is perpetually un-contactable, the phone eternally engaged. In idle moments I imagine it off the hook in a chained and locked, airtight filing cabinet somewhere beneath the Bristol Channel, but the truth is probably far more prosaic (a single phone in an office, everyone is trying to ring).

I've also just managed to pay a bunch of cheques in, having waited quite a while for the full hand to appear..

Other things I need to resolve are my tax self-assessment, though before I can do that, the next major hurdle on the horizon is sorting out who does my accounting, as the current bunch have totally failed to impress me. I requested a breakdown of what I paid them last year, and when it arrived (via email, a week or too later) I practically had to steady myself. To say: "they're not cheap" would be a gross understatement. Theyre singularly inneficient as well.. I rang up yesterday for some advice on a relatively simple matter, was put on hold for ten minutes, cut off, rang up again, asked what my number was ("er, this one you just rang me on") then promised someone would ring me back later in the day (they didn't). Crap. So I think I'll take my money elsewhere.

In other news, having a quick rifle through my wardrobe the other day I discovered that moths have been dining out on my Katherine Hamnett suit. It's riddled with tiny holes, and looks like someone has been exchanging blowbacks with hash reefers over my left shoulder. In truth, I only wore to job interviews for jobs I never wanted anyway, which is good as it's probably only good for sacraficial moth food now. However, in a quest to limit the spread of this rot, I hastened to the 99p store on Butterfly Walk.

I just finished reading a book called 'The Animal Factory' by Edward Bunker (who played Mr Blue in Reservoir Dogs), which is set in San Quentin prison, California, and circumnavigating the aforementioned store is much like what I imagine it to be like crossing the yard in that – both physically and psychologically hazardous. Nonetheless, I got got out alive and in posession of moth balls, which I proceeded to secrete around my wardrobe.

I've since removed them all, for the simple reason that they fucking stank. I've little doubt that they might have some success at repelling moths, but at the almost certain cost of repelling or poisoning me as well; I get the distinct impression they are insanely toxic, in spite of their benign, mint-like like appearance.

I hear cedar wood is the classic moth-repellant, though I don't think I'm in the market for a cedar-wood wardrobe just yet. The internet tells me a more expedient solution is to simply give clothes a good airing every once in a while, though of course this presents problems of its own, living in a gardenless flat in London.

Anyway. I've got some interesting things to do, and am going to look at a flat this evening.. though it costs a bit (alright, quite a lot) more than I really want to spend..

Friday, May 25, 2007


I went to Streatham today..

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

28 weeks later

I went and saw 28 Weeks later at the Ritzy with Ed on Monday night, having planned to go and watch Zodiac, which was suddenly cancelled.

It's intense. If you've seen the original, you know what to expect: mobs of beserk inhumans, infected with bloodlust, rampaging through the streets of a post-apocalyptic London; only in this, the second installment of what seems destined to become at least a trilogy, its creators have dialled up the volume to about 15. This is Aliens to 28 Days Later's Alien, replete with marines and an exponentially vaster bodycount. This is a sequel that's been chained to a radiator in a basement, injected with crystal meth and forced to watch shaky handcam footage of war.

After a terrifying opening with Bobby Carlyle and some other fugitives hole up in a cottage, the action switches to London, where the American Military are seeking to repopulate London from the Isle of Dogs, now that the infected have starved to death. To cut to the chase, the disease of the first film has not been eradicated (there is a carrier) and with a fresh outbreak things go from bad, to worse, to extremely bad with extreme rapidity. Quarantine compromised, the jarheads running the show proceed to the zombie equivalent of defcon 1, liquidating everything in their crosshairs, infected or not.

It's an extremely effective film. A nasty cathartic hit, exhilerating and terrifying. There are some barnyard door sized holes in the plot which I could feel the draught from three rows in, but then, this is a genre that thrives on gross errors of judgement; on people going into cellars when you know they shouldn't have. As with most horror films, suspension of disbelief is key.

The political analogies of the film have been written about enough already, and in some ways they are pretty rudimentary, but the hubris of the military and indiscriminate firestorm that ensues seems – bizarrely – believable, as refugees and the infected alike are indisciminately shot to pieces in the canyons of Canary Wharf.

A common criticism of the film was that the slender development of its principal characters made empathising with them problematic, but it felt to me that the main character in this film is London itself, which is evoked in a tremendously atmospheric style: familiar yet terrifyingly empty, a vast necropolis resonating with distant gunfire. Here the film is tremendously successful, and taking in the sights is a mesmerising experience.

Ultimately, 28 weeks later is very bleak. There's little in the way of any moral message to it, as everyone ends up dammned, regardless of any nobler motives they may labour under. In spite of the political satire the might aspires to (which is actually more effective than you might expect it to be) this beast is essentially all about the action, at which it performs very well. By the end of it my heart was (to quote Big L) "pumpin' like Reeboks", and I left the cinema swaying on an adrenalin high. It is extremely gory though, and anyone with an aversion to blood might want to steer well clear (the span of a helicoptor's rotor blades clear, in fact).

Some trivia/slight spoiler:

In once scene a huge fireball erupts from the foot tunnel crossing from the Isle of Dogs to Greenwich, and the Cutty Sark is clearly in shot. I saw this on the day that the bits of the ship that they left lying around went up in smoke.. which was kind of freaky.

Also, prior to seeing the film, I saw plenty of 'guerilla' marketing for the film, consisting of stencilled ads directing you to the website Apparently the ad adency that masterminded this had neglected to actually buy that domain name, so when some happy shopper discovered this and snapped it up, they were obliged to purchase it off them. Fancy that.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sick kicks

Fresh out the box.. Oi Polloi Mocc's (with a free pair of Corgi socks). The smell of the leather on these almost knocked me over when I opened it on Saturday morning. Tanned in England the hide is then shipped to the states for assembly, which perhaps accounts for some of the price, but never mind, the summer shoe has arrived.

It's been a quiet weekend. On Saturday morning I went to view a flat, before going for a nose round Camberwell. I stayed in in the evening and watched Pitch Black and The Boys from Brazil, which is a kind of Nazi-based version of The Omen, with Gregory Peck playing the maniacal Doctor Mengeles, masterminding a impressively evil conspiracy.

While half watching this, I also cannibalised one of my old housemates picture frames for a poster by one of my favourite illustrators – Frank Quitely – that I've had knocking around for a while. It's from a comic he did the covers for called Bite Club (which I never read), which depicts a vampyress drinking blood from a milk carton. I don't think it'll be going up in the lounge.

Today's been even quieter.. drawing and listening to music, though I did pop out to get some chorizo from the Portugese deli on Coldharbour lane. Back at work tomorrow, and the booking I was on last week is continuing up to at least Tuesday this week, though it may roll on. Yawn.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sleepless in Camberwell

I couldn't sleep last night. I thrashed around in my sheets, restlessly turning my pillow to the cool side, and flipping my duvet. Every forty minutes or so I would switch on the light and read another few pages of Cormac McCarthy's 'Cities of The Plain'.

It was impossible. I felt restless and couldn't get comfortable, and even though the linen was clean the bed seemd to itch against my back. At around half three I gave up, and got up, and pulling on some jeans and a hoody, went out for a walk.

Camberwell seemed impossibly quiet. The only other people I could see were two of the guys from Morley's Fried Chicken pulling down the shutters, accompanied by the whoosh of the odd lonely car. It was cold. Birds were tweeting. It felt like I'd got up to go on holiday somewhere.. I hadn't.

I stumbled up Camberwell Church Street, crossing by the green to head up Denmark Hill. Bolu Kebab was open, as was the Golden Grill – slowly rotating pillars of sweating meat being a twenty-four hour commodity. I looked through the windows as I passed. If I'd thought about it, I might have found the the sight of my fellow travellers purchasing chilli-soused grey flesh oddly comforting, but I felt a bit too vacant for that. I stared in at their faces, hollow in the artificial light.

I walked up past the hospital by Ruskin Park, the turned left by the Salvation Army headquarters. I passed a few people. At the end I turned left again, and headed down Grove Lane. Half way down, two guys walking up, slowly, going nowhere. One drifted to the centre of the road as I passed:

"Hey mate, got a minute? come over here yeah?"

I glanced back, without breaking my stride:

"Nah mate I'm going home" I said

And I was. The last I saw of him was staring ambiguously after me in the streetlight, as his friend trudged away beyond him.

I got back in ten minutes later, shucked off my crumpled attire and collapsed into bed. A sleep, or semblance thereof, came after half an hour or so.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

It's Bigger Than

I think I'm going to knock these vaguely tedious 'where I got pissed this weekend' type posts on the head, because they're well, vaguely tedious, but for old times sake, here goes.

Last night was the final It's Bigger Than at 93 Feet East, which has been running now for over three years. I went for this final outing as I did for the first night I went to at the beginning of 2005, in jeans and a svelte-assed DAKS jacket, though on that occasion I also had a bag of beat-up disco 12s to rock.

I think they managed to leave on a high note.. it felt like that incarnation of the night was cruising into run-out groove territory anyway, and the people who run that venue sound like twits. The crowd (which is always going to be a bit of a mixture on Brick Lane) seemed now more than ever a rag-tag coalition of plastic party people and badger-haired post-curry beer boys, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it did seem to have lost some of its spirit.

We sat outside in the courtyard for for a bit (Steven Merchant of Extras fame was sat right behind me) before going into the main room, where I out-popped crouch to a mixture of funk, disco, hip hop, and er, minimal that the guest DJ Dave Tope was laying down. Al popped his head round the corner from the back to let us know it was going off, which upon inspection, it was.

As Ade observed, the big guns were well and truly out tunewise, with the Timo Maas remix of Doom's Night and Super Sharp Shooter calling the faithful to prayer. Even the final tune from Bugsy Malone by Paul Williams got a look in, and everyone knows what a club hit that is.

The crowd was tearing the roof off though, with people dancing on every available surface, and whooping enthusiastically, and for this final chapter of the night (at least at 93 Feet East) they seemed to have reclaimed the spirit of fun which made it such a delight when it was young.

At one o'clock concerned looking security types in black MA1 jackets lumbered over to try and pull the plug, but they let them past the alloted hour, as I'm guessing the big lumps realised they'd have a riot on their hands if they didn't. I departed shortly after, to catch a lift back down south, with a fond farewell glance at the percolating throng behind me.

I guess I'll miss it, but on the other hand, it might force me to seek out pastures new for late night thrills. The quest is on.

Friday, May 04, 2007

I just saw..

No, not Paris Hilton riding a zebra naked through the fountains of Trafalgar Square (though this is London, and anything is possible). No, What I actually saw was what looked like the worst sandwich ever.. on Tottenham Court Road, and no, not actually on the road but it might have well as been.

It was one of those interchangable pseudo-Italiano sarnic joints hawking focaccia based confections, which are usually a bit suspect anyway, but this one took the proverbial biscuit.

It consisted of:
Chicken Escalope

and ladelled over the top..

Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce