Saturday, August 22, 2009


Saturday 22 August 2009

Today I am 33 years old. As I honestly attempt to fight back the blues, I only feel depressed.

Early on a few birthday wishes trickle in but its not the flood of messages I was hoping for and even expecting. Maybe its because it’s the weekend, maybe its because my stock has dropped over the past year. Its too early to tell.

My day begins with sitting down to watch some more episodes of Saxondale season 2 before getting out of bed and starting the day (my birthday). The episodes are much better than I remember but perhaps watching the episode with a suicidal Kevin Eldon isn’t such a good idea. Also Ruth Jones reminds me of Zoe which has always been a bit funny considering at some point in the past I was told I looked like James Corden (pre-fame when he had flies circling him in Hollyoaks). As the on-off thing happened between those two in Gavin And Stacey wackily I always hoped that it would be echoed in my reality with Zoe and if they eventually came together in the TV show she and I would come together in the real world. Often I am a hopeless romantic bordering on blind fool with not necessarily both feet firmly planted in facts. Obviously it never happened, that would be too Disney. And obviously she is not going to get in touch today but I dearly wish she would.

Eventually I head out to Asda, later than usual. Outside the store some kind of photoshoot appears to be going on. Stood at the doors are ladies in boots and shiny leggings looking and sounding loud. For a moment I think they are dressed up as superheroes before I realise that they are on their way to the V Festival. Yikes, when did the festival demographic turn into this? Maybe when Britpop replaced grunge and pop music television began covering bands playing guitar and suddenly Ocean Colour Scene were handed to the public as a credible going concern. My confusion at the dressed up punters only serves to feed the unfortunately reality of how closer than ever I am to resembling my parents.

Inside Asda my heart is truly not into the shopping this week, which is subsequently reflected by my bill only being around £17 this week. When I stagger up to the self service checkout my milk is spilling out everywhere as if to represent birthday tears.

When I get home it is to a few more birthday wishes but not enough to make feel popular as of yet but it is still early in the day.

Soon I find myself heading to my parents’. The dog is much happier to see me today, which is great because he means the world to me. This I guess is my happy birthday greeting. My parents chip in and wish me a happy birthday before mum hands me four birthday cards, one of which is apparently from the dog but I am sceptical that the handwriting on the card is actually his. All the cards come from relatives. This is what I have become.

Shortly afterwards dad is giving me a lift to the station and I am boarding the train to my laboured birthday celebrations in London. The train is surprisingly lacking in as many V Festival dwellers as I was expecting. I think the last time the V Festival was on my actual birthday Pavement, James Brown and a post-Trainspotting popular and pre-Stooges reformation popular Iggy Pop were performing. My memory may be failing me there though.

When I board the train I wind up sat opposite a guy in a QPR t-shirt. He looks like a paedo and also an older version of the boyfriend of my American Friend who I refer to as “The Teeth.” Go figure, this shit still haunts me, even on my fucking birthday.

As the train reaches Chelmsford a loud person sits to my left repeatedly talking on his phone in an annoying chav accent at an antisocial volume. He then begins pull out piles of £20 notes and counting them. I begin to wish I possessed the muscle with which to clout the mug and rob him. While envisaging the scenario I look at the fat scary looking guy in a Motorhead shirt sat with his family a few rows down and I wonder if I should enlist him in the scheme to rob. One phonecall later it transpires that guy has been touting V Festival tickets for £250 a pop and before the event has even started his day is done.

Eventually I get to Liverpool Street a 12.20PM. From here I grab the tube over to Tottenham Court Road in search of a can of Red Bull to liven me up.

With can of Red Bull in hand Soho Square looks truly beautiful today. With time on my hands I search out the Private Eye offices on Carlisle Street and the building is none too subtle. I would so dearly love to go into this place and write for them, which would be a dream for another life. I find myself very excited by the sight (yes, I am sad like that) and would even have taken a photo were it not for people having a fag break in a doorway nearby.

Still with time on my hands I head into Sister Ray and flip through the records. This is a dead record store these days. I look for some prized seven inch singles but those are truly dead also.

I get to Argyll Street for 1PM but Racton is nowhere in sight. I take another glance towards Facebook to see who now have added birthday messages. It’s a surprising mix, especially considering the number of old school chums who I have not seen in over 15 years. I guess they know the same boat that being this age is.

When Racton eventually turns up it is just as an angry red-faced guy walks past me. As Racton pasts me on the back for a moment I hop in fear that this is redface starting on me.

Ready for birthday yucks we head to Great Marlborough Street for Ping Pong dim sum and cocktails. As we order up the waitress flirts with him over his choice of cocktail but completely neglects me. This I resent with it being MY birthday and all. In response I fucking steal their Ping Pong pencil. I think that makes us even.

Gifts occur as Racton hands over Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon and a Great Gatsby mug. These gifts are too cool. I have to admit I am not familiar with the book but its by the guy that wrote Wonder Boys which pretty much guarantees it will be great.

I make one last valiant attempt to snatch the waitress’s attention by ordering the same cocktail as Racton but I fail miserably. Didn’t fancy her anyway. The cocktail is great though, it comes with a tiny flower bud that you are supposed to chomp before drinking and it is one of the most pleasantly sour sensations on the gum you could ever imagine. In the cold light of day my facial expression and clown jaw must resemble across between a cocaine fiend and Snowy when we used to give him toffees.

An original plan for today was to hit Madame Tussauds but knowing that it will be a true pricy tourist trap at the height of summer our feelings towards the idea have been slightly lukewarm.

Recently on the Scott Mills show his girl assistant mentioned a horror thing housed in the Trocadero called Pasaje Del Terror. Like a couple of real marks we buy tickets in a supposed two for one deal. It’s a weird thing to be doing and our efforts are most definitely fuelled by being a little bit tipsy.

It all begins with a 3D film but I suspect my contact lenses undermine the affects of wearing 3D glasses. Its utter hogwash and then at the close of the story the Richard O’Brien lookalike comes storming through a door on the left and leads us to the beginning of the passage of terror where there is lots of noise occurring.

We enter with a family ahead of us, big tourists and marks than us. We let them go first and trail towards the back which doesn’t really serve Racton at the back well as he misses a number of the frights as they occur but then finds himself being chased most closely as the various monsters leap out at us. I have to admit with shame that I do jump as Freddy Kruger, Regan from The Exorcist and Leatherface etc all jump out on us. The truly classic moment occurs when Leatherface runs across the other side of some bars trying to get at us before the bars suddenly fly up and he “escapes” and begins chasing us out of the passage. Should I really be having this much fun indulging in something so tacky?

It ends with us being spewed out into the recesses of The Trocadero. Was it really dizzying or is it the drink? We look over at the family and smile who gesture back with a sense of fun and friendliness. We got through this together man.

From here we head for more drinks at the Cheers bar on Regents Street which I now want to turn into my new birthday tradition. Shock horror then when the fucking thing is gone. Disaster.

Shouldering another birthday blow we head across Soho to pick up tickets for Terminator 4 at the Prince Charles Cinema before heading over to Chandos for some drinks. Easily we snag some seats and settle into birthday conversation.

Eventually it comes time to head over to the cinema stopping via the Chinese supermarket Yang Guang on Newport Court (just off Great Newport Street). Inside this shop I love buying all kinds of weird drinks and sweets that I have no idea are about. This is the place in London where you get your Pocky.



Terminator 4 turns out to be a very loud movie. I have to concede that I had a lot of fun watching it in the cinema and having my head blown off by the sonics emitting from the screen in addition to Christian Bale feeling the new to shout every line. The plot is full of fucking holes but when wasn’t it going to be? It is fun to note that the first music in years to be heard in the future turns out to be “Rooster” by Alice In Chains. Elsewhere there are some truly harsh moments but when the movie makes throwback references by playing “You Could Be Mine” by Guns N’ Roses and the eventual CGI Arnie turns up it is tough not get to get caught up in proceedings. I still can’t work out what the deal with Helena Bonham Carter’s character was though. And I find it kind of sad that despite his infinite talents as a rapper how Common feels the need to appear in such a mindless movie. This was very much a big screen experience and a movie that’s flaws will be truly revealed when watched on a small screen when it won’t have its action dynamics to paper up the cracks.

Afterwards Racton and I emerge out onto Leicester Square/Chinatown feeling somewhat shellshocked. At this point I feel it is probably best to cut my (our) loses and call it a day. In the process I thank Racton profusely for his efforts on this day. Were I more popular possibly more could be made of my birthday but really I would prefer not to bother but thanks to him I was not given the chance or opportunity to get/feel morose on such a tough day. What a guy!

Swiftly I head over to Leicester Square tube station with view to heading up to Holborn and across on the Central Line. As I board the train a lady smiles at me, perhaps this is my real birthday present. Then however as the closed doors behind me decide to reopen I almost fall out of the carriage onto my arse. These turn out to be my birthday blushes. Now the lady is smiling more than ever.

In the end I find myself on a weird 9PM train back to Colchester that only stops at Chelmsford on the way. I have never encountered this train before, maybe it is the birthday express. On the way once more I fire off a message of thanks to Racton that does the job to appease my gratitude and guilt all at the same time.

Once back in Colchester as I head to collect my car from my parents flat I notice a light on at home so I pop in and make the most of the remainder of my 33rd birthday.

Inside Bobby is still awake and bouncing to see me; even to the point during one leap I accidentally catch his foot causing him to do a mid air flip and painfully land on his back. I immediately reach to him with concern but luckily he is OK despite the hard tumble.

With The Shadow on the TV in the background mum hands me a bag of presents. There is no DS inside just toiletries and food treats. Sometimes I forget that I am an adult now and still desire days of old. I fear I react ungrateful as I focus on what is missing from the bag rather than what is in it, although I suspect I am actually being hard on myself. I do not exhibit such ill manners externally anymore. That has come with maturity.

As the day heads towards its end I leave and head home before my birthday is over. Upon arriving home I discover that Mindy has left a comment on my Facebook in response to my remark about last year being at Ripley’s at this time. In a way I engineered this response, partly in the hope of garnering it but also partly in the hope of her not responding and it giving me more capacity to highlight/bemoan her shortcomings in some fashion or other (despite not really having an audience for it). Her message bums me out and closes the day on a confused, downbeat note. I don’t know whether to be happy or sad about this. In the long run I suspect this will be a bad thing as I find myself reminded of what I have been down about all year and how close I think I may have come to happiness. The response/remark is along the lines of “has it been a year already” coupled with “I hope you have a great day.” Is this the extending of the olive branch I have desired?

Beyond this I fall asleep watching some shitty Clive Anderson clip show about the history of TV in one area or another (I forget). Around 1AM I am awakened by my MSN beeping profusely by Justin just as Jay And Silent Bob begins on TV. I speak to him briefly as he sends me birthday wishes and now 33 I crawl into the early hours of my new age.

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