Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday 24 April 2010
Dream: I find myself having an argument with the consultant as he tries it on yet again.  I cannot believe that I am now dreaming about this stuff.  This is a bad thing.

This morning I wake up at 6.30AM and proceed to reawaken at thirty-minute intervals.  I’m not really sure what this suggests about the healthiness of my mind but regardless it is pretty annoying at a time when I really need to be catching up on sleep.
I eventually through the towel in just after 7.30AM and finish off watching the episode of How To Make It In America that I keep falling asleep during.  It’s OK.

Once done I wash my hair at a much too early hour with view to heading down to Holland to get my haircut today.  It only seems/feels like a few weeks now since I last got it cut but I guess I am now due a trim and with the need/desire to make a good first impression impending I need to do everything I can in order to ensure I don’t mess up.

With my hair still dripping I watch the second half of the controversial 200th episode of South Park.  After the death threat suggestions this week the powers that be really pussy out with this episode both bleeping every mention of the word “Mohammed” (it’s a fucking word) and then putting a big “censored” block in his place whenever he (Mohammed) is wheeled onto the screen.  Truly the terrorists have won.  How can we live in a world where such prohibition through stupidity exists?  Certain people (Muslims) really do have the world by the balls.  Doesn’t anybody seem to think that this is somewhat unnecessary and concerning?  Just a thought.

Soon it is 9AM and time to polish this turd.  I then remember that I have not shaved and for some reason to go to a barbers unshaven feels like some kind of faux pas for me.  Needless to say this holds me up but eventually I am on the road to Clacton.

There feels too many obstacles on the roads these days, too many restrictions and too many traps with which to snare people.  Too often I feel that other drivers on the roads are plants put there to slow things down.  What else could/would explain why I get stuck behind so many jerks these days.

At Ipswich Road at the dual lane traffic lights I actually find myself sitting head to head, nose to nose, with a BMW (me on its right).  I fear some kind of race scenario so I hold back as if not to appear competitive but luckily when the lights hit green and I pull off he continues his poodle and he eats my accidental dust.

From here once off the A120 the drive to Clacton is arduous and bumpkin.  It is a very positive thing that I don’t live here anymore, I can’t help but feel I would have gone full on batshit crazy.

When I arrive at Colin’s there is only one guy already in the seat and once again within in minutes of arrival I am getting my haircut.  What is the deal these days, why is he not busy anymore?  Is this the recession?  Does he have competition these days?  Did his son scare the customers off?

I’m not on form today.  Early on he begins to try and have a conversation with me but it soon peters out and I clam up.  For some reason I actually feel myself going red today as I try to avoid looking at myself in the barber mirror – its not an encouraging sight.

In some way it is a painful experience today, a vibe I think Colin picks up on.  As he finishes he asks me if I’m out tonight and luckily I have GIL SCOTT-HERON in London tonight to offer him.

Once done I head back to Colchester and direct to Asda while listening to Paul Merton guest on the Danny Baker show.  There is much talk of Have I Got News For You and the apparent “show with a show” where every week people tune in to see if Merton is treating his team partner with much disdain.  Responding to this accusation Merton laughs heartily knowing that is exactly what he does.

Arriving there later than usual means that Asda is unsurprisingly busier than usual.  Suddenly any potential enjoyment attached to my weekly grocery shopping experience flies right out of my car window.

I am beginning to now think that I imagined that gherkin relish that I bought a few weeks ago.  Now in way of substitution I consol myself with Asda curry sauce.  This is bad bad stuff, low low foodage.

As ever I stagger around the store trying to be healthy but this is easier said than done.  It is also much more cheaper to eat/buy crappy food.  Go figure.  Where is the conscience in these people?

Eventually I find myself at the self-service checkout as usual where I try to hide my purchases so as not to demean myself.  Again this week the checkout lady recognises me and now we are beginning to become familiar as we routinely say “hello” to each other every week.

From here I head home with the time now well past 11AM.  Back home I quietly slope back to bed where I end up spending the afternoon watching a compilation of SNL In The 00s.  It was subtly an amazing decade for the show.

Finally I pull myself together and head out to the station and back up to London catching a train just after 5PM.  At this point I check on Millwall and learn that they have beaten Leyton Orient 2-1.  They’re on the march.

With ease I get to Liverpool Street and swiftly onto Waterloo where a bright South Bank evening is awaiting me.  By the time I get to the South Bank I still have an hour to kill so I take a wander around the area and suddenly I notice a “Free Palestine” banner being draped from the Golden Jubilee bridge.  Upon closer inspection I notice that it is GIL SCOTT-HERON related due to him doing a gig in Israel soon.  Now as I pass them it is with shaking my head and internally waving my fist at them.  Go fucking bug Coldplay.

As I walk towards the wheel and past an Elvis impersonator I eventually sit down at a bench in the shadow of the wheel where I take stock of my surroundings and take time to smell the roses of being in a most beautiful part of London.  At this point I notice a couple of toughs and ruffians sat to my right and I can smell that they are smoking a joint.  No wonder I am in a good mood, it’s the fumes!  Directly to our left is a playground so this is a bit naughty but boy does it smell good.  When I eventually stand up and head back towards the Royal Festival Hall they visibly hide their joint from me.  This is the first sign of respect that anyone has paid to me in years and I like it.  It does however give birth to the question: do I look like a narc?

Returning to the Royal Festival Hall the protestors are still out in force making some point or other so I make sure I grab a leaflet as a souvenir.  These things are never necessarily quite clear all the time.

Inside the Royal Festival Hall the Ether Festival has laid out some impressive interactive stuff including some Theremins.  I have just been thinking recently how much I would like to try one out (how hard could it really be?)  Meeting my obsession it turns out to be a lot of fun pretty impossible to actually create anything tuneful.

Eventually I step inside the hall and take my seat with the night still quite early and attendance sparse.  In the end I wind up being the meat in a very old sandwich including an annoying middle aged couple to my left while to my right are a couple of old ladies who were probably around for GIL SCOTT-HERON first time round.  What is it with old people and the desire to talk their way through everything and their inability to sit still for more than five minutes.

Tonight the support act unfortunately is not SPEECH DEBELLE as originally thought but some white people from New Zealand called LADI6.  This is a weird outfit that no one has ever heard of before.  Fronted by some kind of jiving female who tries too hard this is a kind of supermarket customer friendly version of urban music and it all feels like some weird Morcheeba like take on a vague version of music from the streets.  Occasionally the girl raps but on the whole she just croons in that supposedly alluring way that goes for sensitivity in the hood.

Soon it is her pouts and ensemble that is moving the attention away from the music.  Their lack of presence is further expressed/exposed by the manner in which everyone around me is chatting their way through the set.  It eventually ends with plenty of gratitude with the tone of a band playing to their parents at a school event.  I hate seated gigs.

Gradually people begin to shuffle in as eventually GIL SCOTT-HERON equally shuffles onstage to a standing ovation.  As he begins addressing the audience much shouting occurs.  Initially I think these are continued cheers of support but soon it becomes apparent that these are some of the free Palestine protestors that were handing out leaflets outside.  Immediately a bad atmosphere rises from the cheap seats as a scuffle begins to occur as SCOTT-HERON tells them to “shush”.

As soon as things above calm down GIL SCOTT-HERON strolls into his introduction making jokes about the Icelandic volcano and how it prevented them from turning up earlier in the week.  Don’t I fucking know.  He then says that they had another accident on the way when they got into a motor accident with a dwarf.  After the collision said dwarf then got out of his car and said “I’m not Happy” to which GIL responded “well which one are you then?”  The fairly lefty audience groans and I begin to wonder if the protestors were actually booing his jokes.

He continues with the gags as it occurs to me that these are the same jokes that he was telling ten years ago at the Jazz Café when Chris and I came up to see him.  The lesson I learned that night was not to laugh, it only eggs him on.  Then he ups the stakes by saying how “his friend is selling his set of encyclopaedias because his wife knows everything”.  Is he out to mildly offend everyone tonight?  Good work!

Eventually the comedy stylings of GIL SCOTT-HERON end with the theory that people need to find their “ology”, how people have to find something they love doing and turn it into an “ology”, open up an office and become a consultant.  He’s definitely onto something with that.

Finally we takes his perch behind his piano where he cuts a fragile but regal figure as he launches into his opening number.  His words flow out like silk, he still has that amazing voice.

Annoyingly after the second song somebody shouts “sell out” from the cheap seats and suddenly all the pro-Palestine protestors kick off again.  It adds an exciting sense to proceedings but also one that you feel is not warranted or worthy.  This feels like taking hard aim at a soft target.

As he remains in his seat GIL SCOTT-HERON drags out a keyboard player and percussionist to accompany him but sadly little of his A-game material comes with them.  When he introduces the lady her name sounds like “Kim Gordon” but it actually turns out to be Kim Jordan.  A Sonic Youth collaboration would have been interesting.

The set reaches a height as he gets up from his perch and begins telling the story of Pieces Of A Man, name checking so many great songs in the process, songs sadly that he does not play.  He does however launch into singing “Pieces Of A Man” in majestic fashion, a song that sounds as valid, important and relevant as ever.  The performance is truly stirring and very emotive, exactly what I was hoping to take/get from this show.  This is why he is able to pack out a barn such as the Royal Festival Hall.

From here he takes a break allowing his band to churn out an instrumental of utter cheese.  It is noticeable just how many people use this point as an opportunity to go to the toilet.

When GIL SCOTT-HERON returns he addresses the upcoming Israel gig that the vocal minority are protesting.  From behind his keyboard he announces that there had been some kind of mix up and that the show is no longer happening.  With this announcement the great unwashed, the people that have set out to ruin the evening, begin cheering.  SCOTT-HERON is then quick to point out that this decision has nothing to do with their actions.  He adds that one day he hopes they get their own show so that he can come along and heckle them.  This gets bigger applause.

The set ends on a whimper but still gains a standing ovation, in many peoples eyes in this mostly white audience he could never do any wrong.

As we filter out of the Royal Festival Hall there is promise of SPEECH DEBELLE performing in the foyer but as most people do not appear to be acknowledging this I am able to shuffle along and wind up at the front with full view.

Dare I say “now this is the stuff”?  With a full band behind her SPEECH DEBELLE possesses a more purposeful energy and presence to her even if it doesn’t deliver the songs at their full strength.  Playing with a live band certainly adds an element to the material but at the same time dare I say it softens the edge.  Processed beats probably serve her rhymes better than funk band but there is no denying the eternal power of a stand-up bass and regardless she is great to watch.  Soon “Turnin’” arrives and even if it doesn’t get nailed it is a great song.

Towards the end she asks the audience what all the shouting and fighting earlier was about.  At this point an ugly drunk middle-aged woman tries telling her what is was to which a confused SPEECH DEBELLE responds “they should just set up a Facebook page innit”.  Love that logic.

Not long afterwards her set comes to an end and I head home satisfied from my Saturday.

I eventually board the 11.48PM train home at which point bars begin to decimate on my iPhone at an alarming rate and I experience battery angst.  The inevitable finally happens as the phone dies and I no longer have music to shut out the outside world.

Before this moment however I receive an email from Nicole who I worked with at the studio in Notting Hill who is watching the movie Notting Hill and trying to remember what was the movie we went to see at The Coronet one night after work.  It was You, Me And Dupree.

As the train pulls into Colchester I suddenly spot my cousin from the wedding last August.  I bowl up to him (and his wife) and say “hello”.  It turns out they have been to see Rhod Gilbert.  He’s coolly receptive to me, which tends to make me feel like a freak in his company/presents.  I need to calm down.

When I get home The Aristocrats is on Channel Four followed by a double bill of The Sopranos.

High times.

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