Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday 13 May 2010

I wake up thinking that it is Friday.  There is also a headache on board.

The news on GMTV this morning is of the ConDem garden party yesterday.  I can’t imagine there is ever likely to be a more smug collection of people in politics.  At this point in time where are the terrorists when you need them?

I shake these things off though and exit for London in good time.  The mornings remain chilled with people still not really knowing what wardrobe to rock yet.

The train journey plays out uneventfully as the train pulls into Liverpool Street at 7.54AM.  Likewise the tube journey across town plays out equally smoothly.  This is until I change lines at Baker Street missing a tube on the Jubilee Line by seconds only to be met with an eight minute wait ahead of me.  Despite the wait I still make it into work comfortably and first in of our department.

Today I decide to chill out a bit.  To be honest I have little choice because the consultant and auditors are in and I’ll potentially be needing all hands on deck at some point.

Slowly people arrive including said consultant and the auditors.  From here the day proceeds/progresses on some kind of knife-edge in the expectation of being on call for queries at any moment.

It turns out to be a day of mixed fortunes.  The auditors don’t really bother me too much and after an initial address of cross words with the consultant he gets distracted with other duties including dealing with the auditors and getting them out of our hair.

As I said for the majority of the day I sit bracing myself for hassle but generally it never comes.  In the end I get roped into a few queries that come in from the auditors but it all proves minimal (nothing strenuous) and by the time the consultant is heading off (around 4PM) we have hardly done thing with regards to addressing ongoing issues.  Indeed towards the end of the day my attention edges away from the company being audited and back to working on the new company accounts.

Eventually 5.30PM arrives and as I run at the platform to catch the tube in St Johns Wood I experience my favourite piece of human contact for weeks as after I accomplish bursting through the carriage door with a look of fear and horror followed by relief some guy already aboard the train gives me a smile of victory.  It is perhaps my first experience this week of a moment free from cynicism.

From here I head to Euston Square station where I exit and walk down to Goodge Street where we are all supposedly having pizza at 6.20PM this evening at the Italiano Coffee Company.

As ever I am first to arrive as I indulge in memories while walking down Tottenham Court Road in a south direction for the first time in years.  I love Tottenham Court Road, in many ways this is the street that I suspect most resembles New York and what London should most definitely resemble.  It just feels so vast and impressive while also coming with a sense of being underused.  The enormous Fopp they used to have here a few years ago was a step in the right direction.

Walking along I pass the American Church where KB Kickboxing is based and when I pass the Starbucks I went after my final date with Phoebe suddenly uneasy memories of her come unwisely flooding back.

Soon I reach Goodge Street with thankfully my sense still intact and find myself the first person to get to the pizza place.  Thom turns out to be the next person to turn up as I spot him on the other side of the road going into the pub opposite.  Was the place of meeting altered and nobody bothered to tell me?  I cross the road and follow him into the pub where he is nowhere to be seen and quickly I guess/realise that he has probably gone into the toilet there and to external eyes this could/might be viewed as some gesture of stalking/cruising/cottaging or something leading to a drugs transaction.  These things.  Abort!  Abort!

From here I reconvene outside the pizza place and wait for him to re-emerge.

Gradually the others turn up and we head into the pizza joint.  Inside its grubby and metallic, fast food and negative.  It’s cheap.  As we queue I weigh up the options and decide to go for the pizza with most meats in the description (all towards 3 of my daily 5).  The place operates one of those buzzer systems where you have to take a buzzer away with you until it is baked and when I finally order my pie the div woman serving says she will put me on Racton’s buzzer.

Much of the talk is of the Joanna Newsom show last night.  I’m kind of negative towards it, unappreciative of what she was doing and how it was presented.  I guess I can afford to be so blas√© with it being that it was a freebie (as ungrateful as this may be).

Eventually the buzzer rings and both Racton and I go up to collect our pizzas.  Annoyingly only one pie has arrived and it is not mine.  As I enquire to the whereabouts of mine things become cloudy as at first they deny my order was even taken or exists before resigning to “we’ll bring it over when it’s ready.”  Lies, all lies.

Finally I get my Festa Carne pizza (I think) only to have a stroppy angry lady approach me seconds later asking me if I have actually paid for the pizza just as I begin to dig in.  “Of course I fucking have” as I don’t say as she proceeds to ask me who it was I paid my money to but unfortunately all the girls working at the place look the same to me (looking like Jersey Shore rejects).  In the end I just point at the lady with the headband (“it was her, it was her!”)  The fun never stops.

By this point the others have all but finished their own pizzas and soon we get finished up (the pie proves OK) and we head to Goodge Street and up to Camden on the tube where tonight we are seeing MISSION OF BURMA.  As we wait on the platform (and later on the train) I try to crowbar my way into conversation mainly based on subjects such as comedy and football.

When we get to Camden I find myself so deep in conversation with the new guy about Port Vale (and mainly Andy Jones) that the rest of the group nonchalantly just walks off and deserts us, heading off without even realising they are leaving us behind.  Are we really that irrelevant to the evening?

Finally we manage to reconvene at Camden Lock and head to Dingwalls to collect tickets.  From here we wind up in some dodgy looking pub on the Lock.  As we take to the bar the guy doing the duties moves with the velocity of a heroin addict with eyes to match.  When in Rome I guess.

Eventually he grudgingly serves us at which point Thom returns to the bar having decided that his lemonade tastes rank and off.  From here something of a contest of attrition takes place.  The process of this guy changing his drink and us getting two pints of Red Stripe turns out to be an excruciating one.

A mere few minutes after we get sat down Thom suddenly decides his replacement pint of Red Stripe is also off and promptly he begins hatching the idea of us all returning to the bar mob handed and demanding a refund.  These are the words and actions of a drug fiend.  For a second I attempt downing my pint to avoid humiliation but soon I give in to peer pressure.

When he finally gets dealt with he disappears behind the scenes as our drinks remain untouched.  What are we doing with our night?

In the end Matthew tells us he’ll wait for Thom and that we should go somewhere else.  At this point I discover the girl Sophie used to work for a literary agent and like a fly round shit I go off on the usual subject of writing taking my usual opportunity to talk about JGRAM WORLD.

We cross Camden Lock and head towards the Wetherspoons where a strange atmosphere is realised when the doorman now requests ID from Racton.  What the fuck is going on here tonight?  When did Camden get so rule heavy?  I seem to remember the last time I passed the Lock there were guys going “pssst” offering to sell me drugs.

As we head off to yet another place looking at the seats outside the Wetherspoons it appears the police are out in force feeling up a table of young people for drugs.  And it looks like they find some in the process.  It is all strangely sedate and resigned.  I guess this is the new Camden and suddenly I remember/recall that I don’t come here very much for good reason.

Bemused by it all we eventually pitch up in the Oxford Arms (home of the Etc Theatre), which is infinitely nicer.  They actually appear interested (almost happy) to serve us for starters.  Finally Matthew and Thom catch up with us.  In hand Thom has a full refund so the next round is officially on him.  As I look out onto the summer evening streets of Camden I almost begin to understand the appeal, even start to warm to the place.  These are good times, this is a good session.

By the time we enter Dingwalls the evening has finally calmed down.  This is my first visit to the venue and people have truly sold it short.

Not long after stepping inside we spot Bob Weston rocking the sound desk as soon after our arrival MISSION OF BURMA take to the stage and tear into their set as we surge towards it.

Tonight the set goes beyond itself as the band combine proficient musicianship with a wicked and jagged array of harsh guitar sounds that lend so much to the band’s intense legacy and staunch songbook.  As the songs swirl around the room and into the ether this band is Husker Du and then some.

Very soon as all the favourites get wheeled out suddenly I am faced with an early strong contender for gig of the year as MISSION OF BURMA unleash a series of songs that contain a degree of fight and intensity that should make acts half their age blush in comparison.

A song such as “Donna Sumeria” contains an abundance of pay off as proceedings tear into overdrive unlike any other outfit I have ever seen.  By the time the band is doing “This Is Not A Photograph” I am actually playing an air guitar in support.  This is something that I have never done in public before.

Towards the end they unleash “1001 Unpleasant Dreams” with its ballistic hook and chanting chorus, which seldom fails to arouse.  For some reason it comes as a surprise to me when they finish their set with “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver”.  I thought Moby and Graham Coxon had soiled the legacy and meaning of this song but still nobody does it better than MISSION OF BURMA as it reaches its enormous climax.

Eventually the band returns to encore with “Max Ernst’s Dream” before finishing off the audience with a rasping “2wice”.  Bang to rights.

After the set Roger Miller returns to the stage where he has seven inches for sale as I surge to be first in line.  At this point oblivious to Miller a scuffle occurs and somebody runs off.  Likewise it means nothing to me as I continue to lean on Miller with my £4 for a seven-inch.  Then just as I am shaking Roger Miller’s hand Racton returns with one of the MISSION OF BURMA pedals.  He has just been a have a go hero running after a kid that just swiped it.  As he hands it back he explains that he didn’t steal it and unfazed (and not necessarily grateful) says “thanks, it made you look good”.  Odd.

Swiftly we stagger outside exiting was has been a genuinely weird night.

On the way to the tube Thom steps back into the Oxford Arms for a piss when we half think he is going back to get the money back on our pints from here.

Finally we get on a tube at which point I wind up in a strange conversation with Thom and Matthew regarding who I voted for last Thursday.  Off the back of this I find myself explaining my distaste for the Lib Dems and how my experience of them in Colchester has not necessarily endeared me to them (not least the antics of those who have switched allegiances and shown their true colours).

We end the night in modern manner as the three of us try to turn #missionofburma into a trending topic on Twitter.  We don’t stand a fucking chance.

By the time I get back to Colchester it is past midnight and the weirdness has not ceased yet as I run into my cousin who is drunk and telling me how he has finally clicked with The Fall (“Middle Class Revolt!”).  His enthusiasm is infectious.

Next as I exit the station I bump into Chris’ parents all dressed up returning from some Classical Music Awards.  It all serves to act as a surreal conclusion.

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