Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday 24 May 2010

As I awaken on top of my duvet with the window open this morning it feels as if I am coming around from a nap on the beach.  It is a smooth entry.  Outside this Monday morning is full on, already brighter than most days in usual.

I have no idea what the time exactly is as I appear to be missing my watch.  What did I do with it?  I pray that I remembered to set my alarm clock last night otherwise I am royally late for work.

Eventually the painful buzz rings and I snap into action/command.  On GMTV this morning is a fresh newsreader and she is a step up on the old model.  At the moment they appear to be going through news anchors like buggery.  And they are always female, seemingly employed to sugarcoat and distract away from the dross that they are “reporting” on.

Leaving home today I spot The Ghost already in place opposite our building meaning that I am officially late exiting for the station.  As I spot him I give him a wave even though he still freaks me out whenever I see him.  Were I more suspicious (and were he younger) you could be forgiven for thinking he is either stalking someone or casing the joint.

Everyone appears tragically laidback and lethargic today.  The drive to the station is stunted by poodling cars and then the walk from the car park to the platform is then plagued by the obstacle of people mooching their way to the train.  Where is the urgency and life in these people’s existences?  These are broken bodies, spiritually if not physically.

As a result of all these shenanigans the train pulls into the platform before me and with it there is some kind of squeeze once aboard (was there a delay and the additional bodies stragglers?)

From here the train is not fun this morning.  As it begins to gradually fill with bodies and people have to stand around me suddenly I find myself with a growler stuck right in my face coupled with the joy of a handbag being repeatedly knocked/banged against me.  I sense somewhere someone is experiencing vindication from this.

When the train eventually arrives into Liverpool Street it truly is with a sense of relief and forgiveness, a long drawn out apology for daring to inhabit this journey in the first place.

Happily I board a tube, spotting Bellalike in the process, as I head across town and into work.  By the time I arrive at the restaurant the day is already baking and glorious.  Tactically I open the window of the office as wide as it will go as a gesture of awkwardness and getting my own way.  This is the way I stamp my meagre authority onto proceedings.

Looking around the room it doesn’t appear as if much happened in my absence on Friday.  On my desk my papers are unshuffled and likewise nothing appears jogged on any of the other desks.

9AM comes and goes with no sign of life, of anybody else deciding or bothering to turn up to the office today.  In fact the only other forms of life (the angry boss and operations manager) have also left by this point, leaving me to my own devices.  Some kind of bliss.

Eventually our boss comes in and he notifies me that The Girl is not coming in today (she has texted in sick) and it seems the Filipino is at home sorting out her washing machine again.  What is this?  A bit of sun over the weekend and suddenly all falls apart and I am the last man standing.

As a result of all this I have to man the phones, which is a chore that I truly resent.  With this in mind I brace myself for a barrage/torrent of abuse from angry suppliers chasing payment I cannot release.  It is at these times I begin to really appreciate and pity the Filipino; she has to deal with this daily.

Due to this distraction I don’t really do any work today, dealing with these arseholes is work enough.  Quite frankly we shouldn’t be placed in such a position.  To his credit my boss does take a number of calls when the suppliers request to speak to him but with the phone continuously ringing ultimately it proves impossible to build up any steam or momentum on the real work.

Soon midday comes around and with going out on the cards for the tonight I indulge in penne arrabbiata and chicken with view to filling up.

On the radio today I have flipped to 6music and at lunchtime they play “Runnin’” by The Pharcyde that just sounds amazing on a glowing day such as this.

In the afternoon in between phonecalls I set up Rant In J Minor, a monetised version of my main blog complete with adverts that will earn pennies should anyone feel inclined to click on the links.  Elsewhere I also update my JGRAM LINKS blog for the first time in a very long time.  There are certain areas of my blogs that really go neglected for long periods of time.  One day things will hopefully not be this way.

Around 3PM the boss gets tetchy about the Filipino (“where is she?”).  Who on earth is going to turn up now with only a couple hours of the day left to go?  He asks me if I have tried to get in touch with her and begrudgingly I send her a nuisance text message (against my instincts).

Also around this time when the Ndubz school kicks out there is suddenly screaming outside in our car park and I watch on as kids from the school act like animals outside our restaurant.  That’s a good advertisement.  It would appear that they are screaming at cars in between spraying/firing water on each other.  I hear a smash and it appears one of them has thrown a glass bottle at a car into the road.  Jesus Christ.

The only positive thing I can say about these kids of the future is that at least with their mongrel ghetto illiterate and incoherent method/manner of communication is that when they hurl abuse at you a normal person has absolutely no idea just what it is they are saying.

On a brighter note in the afternoon on Twitter Soho Theatre offers up five pairs/sets of free tickets (papering the audience) for tonight’s PAJAMA MEN show.  Obviously I respond and then just before the end of the working day an email arrives to say that I have won a pair of tickets.

In the end the final few hours of the day are played out with little in the way of drama.  When 5.30PM arrives I am out the door like a shot heading down to Bond Street and across to Holborn for tonight’s DANIEL CLOWES and CHRIS WARE event at the Cochrane Theatre.

As I exit Holborn the barriers are closed, refusing to let people into the station and onto the Central Line crush.  I can’t decide whether this is a good thing, whether it is best to be in a crush underground or overground.  The Central Line truly is horrendous at such times.

While I wait on the corner of Holborn for Racton I listen to the My So-Called Life soundtrack searching for something that just isn’t there.  Nostalgia is an evil thing, it makes you old.

When Racton turns up he has a beard.  In my experience beards are generally a winter thing, not a summer thing.  Regardless any change is a good thing supposedly.

After a quick stop by the Sainsburys we head to the Cochrane Theatre where it turns out that DAN CLOWES and CHRIS WARE are in conversation with AUDREY NIFFENEGGER this evening.  I still feel that I know this area fairly well because it was where the first college I studied in London was situated.  That is now scarily seven (maybe eight) years ago, which is terrifying to consider.

Soon we step into the theatre.  It’s a funny place that I have been inside before.  There is a merch stall set up by Foyles where they already have copies of Wilson, which both Racton and I snap up enthusiastically.  It has now been years since CLOWES has put out a new book.

Being early we head upstairs to the bar where we find ourselves offered an amazing panoramic view of Holborn via stretching windows.  Their tint only serves to make London appear more humid and heated but all in all it sets an amazing scene and glimpse of the rush.

Eventually the doors of the theatre open at which point a nerd crush ensues.  Briefly I lose Racton as some short dumpy girl in glasses pushes me out of the way but equally we still snag a pair of good seats, front and centre.

When the three of them come on stage and take their seats DANIEL CLOWES and CHRIS WARE resemble something of Frasier Crane convention.  The pair of them look incredibly awkward onstage, seemingly withdrawn as much as their work would suggest.

As you can imagine none of them appear comfortable talking about themselves but to my disappointment the misanthropic hero through my teen years (CLOWES) seems to have mellowed out and grown into his existence.  Can’t we just all stay hateful and immature forever?

The event begins with NIFFENEGGER pointing out how all three of them originate from Chicago and debating/questioning how much influence the city has had on their work.  I have to concede though that Chicago has never been a place where I envisaged any of CLOWES’ work to be staged.  For me his work, especially the early stuff, was all about small town America weirdness.  Even the realm of Ghost World never struck me as being housed/staged in a thriving metropolis (and thus why Enid was so bored).

Soon they move onto discussing their work in depth and where they draw inspiration from.  As you would expect both men are pretty unassuming about their work acting modest on a surface level but having read their work you suspect they are a lot more serious about their work than face value.

I have to concede that tonight I was hoping to see the angry DANIEL CLOWES that his strips have always suggested he is.  For me much of his work felt straight from the mind of a skilled misanthrope finding his voice that was otherwise going unheard.  As a result of this I always had the impression that he was some kind of recluse (maybe even a shut in), which made the announcement of this event feel like a once in a lifetime opportunity.  However against expectations CLOWES comes over as a person far removed from initiating such bile.  In other words he has matured and grown up in a way that I (and possibly other members of the audience) may have not.

All through the talk it is funny to watch the way in which NIFFENEGGER looks at the two artists, it’s an unintentionally scary glare that also appears a little lurid.

Very quickly the talk hands over to the audience for questions, of which all appear initially aimed towards CLOWES.  The questions vary in quality and occasionally they don’t even resemble questions.

Almost immediately both CLOWES and WARE clock that pretty much everyone in the room is also an artist as they try to explain and express their inspirations and what drives them to produce their work.  With this they express a healthy dose of enthusiasm for anyone looking to be creative.

The talk ends on a very technical question as a guy in the front row asks how long they take to illustrate and, more or less, what kind of pencils they use.  With this it seems a good point to call a close to proceedings.

Through the majority of the Q&A session there is the slight interruption of the sound of a person themselves holding court towards the back of the room.  I struggle to see why would you come to an event such as this to just have a conversation.  At the risk of sounding sexist, of course the voice is female.  Maybe French.

As we filter out of the theatre we head upstairs to where the book signing is beginning.  Originally I wasn’t going to bother but Racton is surprisingly interested in getting his copy of Wilson signed when really I just want to head to see the PAJAMA MEN.

Undaunted we join the queue which emerges as a slow moving one.  Just what are these geeks asking CLOWES and WARE when they get their moment?  Gradually Racton begins to lose interest/nerve as I still have my eye on the ball of the PAJAMA MEN.

 With the queue not really moving we eventually ditch the signing session to head to Soho and get some food before the PAJAMA MEN.  Our initial plan is to hit the burger joint right next to the Soho Theatre but upon arrival the gaff appears to have been closed down.  With only 45 minutes until show time procrastination ensues, which eventually sees us winding up in the Dean Street Subway.  We pay through the nose for a glorified fucking sandwich while its employees exude a true lust for life by playing explicit ridden hip hop tunes at an excessive volume.  It would appear that they hate us because we resemble an obstacle to their clearing up and heading home.  Ironically though the hip hop music just makes me want to remain.

As part of a papered audience it is a quiet night at Soho Theatre.  While we wait for the show to begin Racton gets quite excited when they play the Misfits over the PA.  He is convinced they would be the perfect band for ATP and I think he is right.  Unfortunately it is then followed by Gogol Bordello.  Never good.

The PAJAMA MEN show is one of twisted genius.  Visually they feel a familiar sight as Shenoah Allen possesses the look of Bruce McCulloch while Mark Chavez resembles some kind of Jerry Seinfeld/Stephen Mangan hybrid.

The Kids In The Hall comparison is a firm one as over the course of their show they take on the role of several characters, rapidly switching while at the same time still wearing their bedclothes.  It is slick stuff.

After a brief introduction the show opens aboard a train and flows as the interweaving characters get their tickets checked by a bemused inspector.  The characters range from gossipy old women to an Eastern European shuffling through pigeon English and finally into some kind of creature with flipper hands that spends the evening asking just what it is he is.

In performance Allen really has astonishing eyes as he stretches physical theatre comedy, fixing with a glare up there with Marty Feldman.  To maintain this must be truly painful.  Here is an act that suffers for its art.

As the show moves on it transports to a crazy man in custody being grilled by a hapless detective while elsewhere a Linda Blair-esqe dead girl attempts to woo a sweet and innocent lad into a bad place.  None of this show is straightforward stuff.

Eventually somehow the show ties up and closes with a montage then happy ending, one that serves to confound and end the show (and night) in the best possible manner.

From here Racton and I waste no time in leaving the Soho Theatre and heading off in our respective different directions.  At this moment a drunk Irishman (a cliché) begins asking me for some money and as I fob him off with an apology he begins shouting and laughing “I’ll get it, I’ll get it” at me.  With this my stride through Soho Square becomes that much swifter.

Beyond this I board my the tube at Tottenham Court Road then my usual late train home from Liverpool Street where I finally get home past midnight.  Thems the breaks.

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