Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday 4 August 2006

Today when I awaken things are grey.  I was hoping things would be better than this.  Yes I am nervous as I have the day off to head up to London to finally meet Jay my kinky Korean email buddy.  Indeed this is a date.

With this I spend most of the morning endeavoring to pull myself together, to make the most of my being.  It’s now or never, all or nothing.

Before long I find myself flying up London on a daytime train.  These are so strange in comparison to the cramped packed commuter trains that I ride daily.  As I speed up town once more “Getting Away With It” by Electronic plays on my iPod and this very much feels as if this is the right song for this time.

Jay Kim is a mature student from Korea living in Manchester.  She is studying sociology in music and her wealth of knowledge and experience has blown my mind, immediately it appears that we have a huge amount in common.  However again the internet is not proving the most ideal way to communicate and meet people as after the initial burst of enthusiasm soon the overriding characteristic of Jay Kim has been her intense neurosis.

So far to say that she has been reserved would be an understatement.  She has been giving away no clues.  I have asked her about her life in Manchester but all it would appear to contain is studying and cooking and rarely leaving the house.

Despite this Jay Kim is not without intrigue.  She has told me that she is a distant cousin/relative of the lady that plays Sun in Lost which obviously has piqued my interest.  And teasing a photograph out of her has been a bit more laboured emotionally than desired, not least when the JPEG finally arrived it had purple smears over it but the image shining through was super attractive and my peaked interest higher than ever.

Today she is coming down to London to look into her career options.  With her university course coming to an end she is looking for a job in the music industry and with my feet being solidly in the door it seems that I might be able to help her.  Unfortunately her English is not the greatest and her skills in the workplace appear limited at best despite her huge wealth of knowledge.  With this though one of the employment agencies is holding a seminar in London for music roles/positions which I suggested she come down and register with which would then give us the opportunity to meet up afterwards.

In addition to this Jay Kim appears to be obsessed with Syd Barrett and she has been telling me stories of his Japanese girlfriend, a young lady called Iggy that had something of her own obsession on him.  The way Jay Kim has been recounting the tales she knew has displayed just how very sensitive she is herself.

As a result of this we have set a meeting time for midday in the Pink Floyd section of the record shop on Piccadilly Circus.  I guess this could be perceived as romantic and when the time arrives for a while it does feel like it but when she turns up late after I began flicking through the racks for releases on Gringo Records the mood gets somewhat killed.

When she finally arrives I barely recognize her.  She does not look like her photograph.  When she said showing people that photo usually cursed things she was not kidding.  Although this is not the curse she stated, more her flagrantly just showing me a photo that was not (quite) her.  I know we have all done this in our time, used a picture of ourselves that was perhaps a tad overflattering, but this does not appear to register with her.

Now, as shallow as that may make me appear or sound, I am still really happy to see her, once of course I finally establish that I have the correct person.  Unfortunately immediately it feels awkward and stunted.  Her English is worse than I expected and her voice really low/quiet while her posture is that of a petrified child.  This is not much to work with.

At times like these I fear I overcompensate in an effort to appear warm and friendly, to take away the edge and put people at ease.  Occasionally however this only serves to act overbearing.  As I say not much to work.  With this I gesture towards getting something to eat at the Pizza Express between Regents Street and Golden Square, which in theory this should be just a two minute walk.  However we only manage to get lost.

When we finally get to the restaurant we are sat down in a great spot and seemingly feeling equally very hungry.  We look at each other wondering just what on earth the other is thinking and more importantly – what are we doing?

I really try hard to drum up conversation, to make things fluid and flowing but we never emerge from the stunted stage.  I try to discuss all things Korea, all things Manchester and all things music but this only garners the shortest of responses.

To say I am surprised would be an understatement.  And to say I am disappointed would probably ring true too.  After weeks of exchanging exciting and interesting, if odd, emails this meeting is not living up to expectations.  Occasionally she smiles in conversation and it feels like a victory, that I have accomplished the near impossible, but those are too few and far between.  I should also note that worryingly the biggest smile I get from her over lunch is how she tells me that she used to tease her cats by feeding them curry powder.

Today should have worked out.  The food is good, the company isn’t awful, the sun is out and it is a Friday for fucks sake. 

After Pizza Express it begins to look like our meeting will soon be coming to an end but she does invite me along to the IBPI where she has made a booking to view their library in order to get statistics for part of the research for a paper about music the Korean government have commissioned her to write for them.  So obviously this isn’t an idiot girl I was dealing with here, just an awkward one.  Then again have we ever established just which side of Korea she is from?

From here we enter the offices of the IBPI where the afternoon continues in near silence.  While she photocopies pages of figures about bad music and dwindling record sales I find myself reading academic music books about the explosion of the internet and how MP3s are killing the music industry.  Living the dream.

After what feels like a couple of hours finally she finishes up and we head back out onto Trafalgar Square.  With the evening approaching she says that she has to catch her train home to Manchester so we exchange farewells including a hug that feels like I’m crushing a corpse.  She tells me she will call me next weekend but I won’t hold my breath.

Then that is that.

Fortunately for me Chris is also in town today.  He is with Sofie who is showing her little cousin (non-English speaking) the sights of London.  After Jay has gone I waste no time in calling him up and when I hook up with them I feel in a state of confusion coupled with an air of failure and perverse amusement.  Who was that person I had just met for lunch?

Away from this, tensions between Chris and Sofie soon become evident and suddenly it occurs to me that in the long run I am probably better off being single.

We head to the huge Fopp on Tottenham Court Road where I proceed to indulge in a past time I find far more fun and entertaining as I find myself feeling the happiest I have all day.

Then instead of going home and licking my wounds I head to the Prince Charles cinema just off Leicester Square and watch WALK THE LINE where it is playing to a packed house because it is £1 ticket night.  With this I bid a fond farewell to my friends and settle in for what might prove the highlight of my day.

WALK THE LINE turns out to be OK.  I know friends that have seen it and loved it but these people also love Johnny Cash for some reason.  In recent years I have had lengthy disagreements (arguments) with my friends over how he was always just a “yee-ha!” singer (a country singer) first and his later day reinvention did not suddenly make everything he ever recorded good (quite frankly I’m pretty positive that on the whole it was dross).

In the end the movie proves likeable and more interesting the man it is representing.  I am sure the piece served to make the scene appear a lot more eventful and exciting than was the reality.  Joaquin Phoenix is always good value and once past her annoying accent (put on voice) Reese Witherspoon does a valiant job as his wife.

On the whole I didn’t love the movie but did appreciate the positive message about relationships playing out in front of me, especially after what I encountered today.  I still remember the day Johnny Cash died.  I was working at Beaumont Seymour on Butt Road and I heard the announcement on Radio One as I played it on my Nokia mobile phone in the Chernobyl office.  For some reason it really made me sad.  It was probably due to the fact that his wife had only just died a few months earlier and it was as if he had died of a broken heart.  I then remember later phoning home that evening and when I mentioned this to mum I actually started welling up.  This was incredibly out of character for me.

As ever with biopics you sense the truth gets stretched as I again begin to worry that one day there will be a biopic about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana that will only serve to represent him in the most stupid manner.  I hate how Hollywood portrays life and how people believe it.

After the movie ends it is still relatively early, not even 9PM.  From here I board the tube at Leicester Square before heading to Liverpool Street and wheeling home on a happy summer Friday night.  This was a day.

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