Thirty Thousand Streets

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Yesterday, with a day off, I hoofed it off to West Acton to see framing guru and general all round nice guy Ricardo at Pauli Frames.

He's done the honours with a Paul Insect print I'd bought from Lazarides Gallery on Greek Street in Soho, and done a great job, that really shows the image off to its fullest. The painted wooden frame feels incredibly smooth to the touch, and looks soft. It's classy, without distracting from the art itself. When I told my housemate Cecilia how much it cost, she visibly blanched, but really, it was pretty much par for the course, and the craftsmanship is impeccable.

What's more, he even gave me a lift to the station with it. I told you: nice guy.

The image itself is from Insect's 'Bullion' exhibition that Damian Hirst snapped up all the paintings from. It feels like 'dirty pop' to me – something from the sixties or seventies with a nasty noughties twist.

Love it.

It actually has a sister print, on silver, with 'Peace' spelt out in revolvers, which surfaces on Ebay quite regularly. Might have to hope for another tax rebate next year if I'm going to afford that puppy though.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Post Office

There was a piece in the Metro on Wednesday about a bizarre craze in Holland, where people are buying English Royal Mail jackets and wearing them as 'Fashion Wear'.. something to do with the colourways reflecting those of the royal coat of arms and national pride and post modernism blah blah blah..

All I can say is I'm glad something good's come of our postal service as it was in a pretty poor state last time I checked. Today I embarked on a now familiar Saturday institution.. going to pick up a parcel from the depot.. to discover a qeueue of people snaking out onto the street and thirty or so feet up the pavement. When after ten minutes or so I got to front of the qeueue today, there was a missing sign taped in the window, for the lost 'depot puppy' – their version of the 'firehouse dog' I suppose. I felt tempted to suggest they have another look for it out back, as it was probably just stranded somewhere behind the mountains of undelivered parcels, keening pitifully.

The post on my street usually arrives around eleven o'clock, well after everyone's gone to work (so in truth there's unlikely to be anyone in to sign for things) but in any event, the Postmen round here don't tend to bother delivering parcels anymore, preferring instead to just drop those little red cards through the door, summoning you to pick up the package in person (after a period of 48 hours). This is if they even manage to get it through the right door in the first place, of course.

I wouldn't mind this so much, if the hours they opened weren't so inconvenient.. the parcel depot only opening its doors between 8am and 1pm during the week – 8am being timed timed precisely to coincide with when I have to go to work – and 8am and 12.30pm on a Saturday.

Why is this so awkward? Why, given that people increasingly shop more and more and more over the internet, and I at least recieve parcels more frequently than at any time in the past, don't they open earlier and or later, to allow people to pick up the parcels they quite often failed to deliver in the first place? it's wierd.. has this not ocurred to anyone as the obvious conclusion to an apparent problem?

The Post Office these days seems to be one of those anti-success stories, wherein a service that was once supposedly the envy of the world has undergone a process of reverse alchemy, transforming a silk purse into a sow's ear (that probably arrived a week late).

On the strike I can't really comment.. I guess I'm all for the idea of unions, and having read Charles Bukowski, I can't imagine delivering mail is necessarily the nicest job in the world (hence the phrase 'going postal') so why strip the job of any minor perks it might have, but it really is a fairly dismal service that needs something of a cultural overhaul.

Anyway.. it brought to mind this sketch by Spitting Image.. enjoy.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Deptford, New Cross, Greenwich, Control

Yesterday I went to Greenwich to catch a film with Ed. We went via New Cross and Deptford. First stop was a Deptford high street, which gets full marks for its eccentric independent retailers, with quirky signage. Some points deducted for the high number of shut boozers, now masquerading as Halal butchers and the like.

From here we wandered over to St. Nicholas's church in whose graveyard Christopher Marlowe is buried. The gateposts are surmounted with carved skull and crossbones, which are reputed to be the inspiration behind the pirate flag, the Jolly Roger. The church itself is ancient, but appears a rather clumsy agglomeration of building styles – the result of indifferent repair work for gale and wartime damage last century.

We took the post-industrial approach to Greenwich, past gently rusting machinery, and new business parks behind anodised aluminium fencing. Further down the road we popped into a crumbling second hand bookshop on the outskirts of Greenwich, whose walls are shored up by wooden butresses. I really wanted to buy a Glenn Baxter original ink cartoon that was hanging on the wall, which was (unsurprisingly perhaps) not for sale. I'll probably go back as it seemed something of a treasure trove of secondhand books, and moreover, the owner is petiioning to keep it open as the developers move in, so its time might soon be up.

After arranging tickets for the film, we stopped for an ice cream, and wandered round the park, which was heaving with tourists taking pictures of the view of Canary Wharf from the hill beneath the observatory, before wandering back to catch the flick.

We saw Control, the new film about Joy Division, which I really enjoyed. I can't pretend I know all that much about the band, or indeed that part of Manchester's history, though a friend recently told me I should milk it for all its worth, so perhaps I should get brushing up. It's certainly cool; pretty beautiful, in a bleak black and white way. I also thought the acting was very good, though afterwards, Ed and Martin (who works at the Picturehouse) agreed that they thought the script pretty flimsy.

Working in Soho this week, and my social calendar seems pretty busy too. A potential last-minute reunion with some friends this evening, a 30th birthday tomorrow, and two club nights at the weekend, including the wrap party for the DLA Film Festival my housemate was involved in, and Allez Allez's night at the Amersham Arms in New Cross, which I passed yesterday, twice.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


"I'm everlasting, like the toe on Pro Keds"

Rasped Craig Mack on 1994s infamous posse cut, the Flava In Ya Ear remix, and while the intervening years haven't been so kind to the big guy's rap career, the fact remains that Pro-Keds Court Kings are one durable assed (or toed) sneaker. As much as I like the look of Converse, they have their design flaws: notably that the tongue usually works its way down the side of the shoe, and it's fabric often tears at the heel – a point of stress where it is notably weak. Compared to this, Pro-Keds are incredibly durable and comfortable, as a shoe to walk, dance and lounge in.

Pro-Keds are like the Marmite of the trainer world.. you either love them or think they look like clown's shoes. I regularly used to get cussed at work for sporting them, and a nocturnal walk through the shady environs of Burnage was never complete without a round of jeers from a posse of Rockport-toting ballers hanging round outside some rough-assed pub, if I was flexing 'the Keds'.

That said, a friend who's a fashion designer was feeling them, and some dude on an industrial estate in Acton the other day (don't ask) said "Nice Keds mate!" approvingly, as he walked by.

There's something endearingly ugly/beautiful about them.. if Pro-Keds were a dog I'm 90 percent certain they'd be an English Bull Terrier, in a white colourway with pink nose, and they seem to inspire a certain degree of cultish fandom. Coming from a sneaker dynasty of some vintage, these basketball kicks have been namechecked by Rappers from Blackalicious through to Ghostface (and they even did a Rocafella Records collaboration, though we won't go into that).

Shame that I can't find any in the UK at the minute, then. Ebay (my usual port of call) has a few knocking about, but they're all Converse style hi-tops, where as what I'm after are the lo-cut Court Kings with their mega-durable soles and bumper car-style toe. Indeed the UK website is of some vintage (it urges you to download Flash Player 5) and a trawl of various other UK sites has so far proved fruitless. It looks like if I want to get hold of a pair, I'll have to buy from the States.. which probably means exorbitant shipping fees. Bummer.

So, if anyone knows where I can find Pro-Keds Court Kings in UK 9 (any colourways), please let me know, as my existing pair are starting to look somewhat rough.