Friday, December 03, 2010

Friday 3 December 2010


Last night I fell asleep listening to Test Match Special and this morning when they announce that it is 6AM the thing is still playing on my computer.  I bet my neighbours fucking loved the sound of that blaring through the night if they can hear it.

This morning when I get up I have the bassline and mantra from A Love Supreme rolling around my head.  It almost serves as my guide.

I take my time today, not even getting out of bed until 7AM.  Why should I?  On TV the weather makes the world appear hostile which makes it all unappealing and unfriendly.  I wish I could just stay in bed.  The unemployed are so lucky.

Ironically with no urgency attached to my movements I manage to pull myself together speedier than usual and before long I am leaving my flat with still A Love Supreme bouncing around my mind.

As I leave I notice one of the Trash Humpers’ bikes is sat in the entrance.  I’ll give them a pass on this one (this once).

To my surprise there isn’t much snow on my car today but instead there is incredibly thick frost on the inside of my car.  How does this happen?  How come sometimes the inside of my windscreen freezes more than the outside?

Leaving later today the roads are much better than earlier in the week and soon I get to the station in around fifteen minutes.  Not that the NCP have done anything about the ice that is carpeting the actual car park, which remains something of an ice rink.

As I step onto the platform just past 7.30AM I get lucky as a Norwich train rolls in and then very lucky when I manage to snag a seat against the window on a table seat when really it didn’t look/appear that there were any spare seats.  From here I ride to town listening to last week’s episode of Kermode And Mayo.

When we finally pull into Liverpool Street it is at a surprisingly decent time.  Less impressive is the manner with which people exit the train.  Eventually I manage to get out just as some daytripper bitch puts on her coat by swinging it into my face.  In reaction I proceed to walk through her, lodging/ramming my left elbow into ribs which only causes her to squawk and complain.  The hypocrisy!

Eventually I get into work late but still before 10AM.  As I step into the restaurant there is a fairground horse in the way, sat in the middle of the restaurant.  What kind of party was it here last night?

Again today it is just the Filipino and I.  And straight from the off the end of the day feels so far away.

Yet again I find myself wrestling with putting the October accounts of the new(ish) company to bed.  This comes coupled with the consultant suddenly returning on the scene.  This is never a good thing.

Around mid morning the chef phones to inform us of the abundance of Christmas dinners left over from the party last night.  It would appear that due to the weather only half of the invitees managed to turn up thus slicing our sales in half.

When lunchtime arrives so does our premature Christmas dinner and it all tastes amazing with the vegetables amazingly prepared as the whole plate including turkey is lovingly drizzled with a wonderful gravy that I suspect might have some alcoholic content/element to it.  It just felt a little bit more like Christmas in here.

The afternoon turns out to be a slog as we clock watch our way through proceedings as we wind up being the last people remaining in the office.

In the end 5PM does not arrive before time but with time to kill I decide to perform a long standing exercise of mine: print off my posts on Twitter (my tweets).

It turns out to be surprisingly hard work interrogating the Twitter website as past a certain date it begins to get very sluggish and reluctant.  Just as I reach my goal (back to the end of March) and begin printing them off the angry boss returns and pops his head in asking me what I am doing still at work.  I tell him I’m off to see comedy tonight and thus am in no rush at which point he begins telling me about seeing Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle (“he goes a bit too far”).

Not long after this I head out but not before the fill-in manager grills me on my movements for the weekend as I leave.  This guy barely used to acknowledge me but now for some reason the floodgates have royally opened.

Eventually I get on the Jubilee Line at St Johns Wood and fly down to Waterloo.  Originally I was planning to head there via Trafalgar Square to see the Norwegian Christmas tree and experience what it is like to cross the Golden Jubilee Bridge at Christmas but things being what they were my late exit prevented this.  Oh well, another time maybe.

When I get to the South Bank it all looks genuinely beautiful as fairy lights surround various Christmas stalls spread along the bank.  This all comes with effort.

Stepping inside Queen Elizabeth Hall there is the usual Friday night entertainment of an unknown singer I have never heard of and will probably never hear of again.  As ever it is niche, not necessarily appealing to my working class sensibilities.

Tonight I am the Southbank Centre to see JOHN WATERS do an event to promote his new book Role Models.  I have rarely seen the place so busy or colourful as several people in attendance look like characters from his various movies.  Myself as I stand around like a lemon feeling awkward I eventually get a drink and take a seat.

A few minutes after sitting down I spot Neil Tennant with some guy taking the seat next to me.  This is my biggest star spotting in ages and soon I remember that I used to see him regularly at Sarm a few years ago when he was recording there and occasionally he would say “hello” to me.  Small world.

Eventually the Foyles stall puts out copies of Role Models so briskly I join a jostling queue of weirdoes and hipsters in order to buy a copy for the signing afterwards.  This does not come without its issues as people off in their own world cut the queue and cause impatience as the clock clicks down to performance time.

With book in hand I am soon taking my seat which is fortuitously placed to perfection, central and possibly the perfect distance back.  A few minutes later Neil Tennant and his mate take their seats two rows in front of me.  I assure you all that I am not stalking him.  I do however get a full on view of his bald spot.

Then JOHN WATERS steps out on stage with Philip Hoare in tow hosting proceedings and asking the questions this evening.

JOHN WATERS looks fantastic, impeccably dressed and very stylish in a suit that appears to be barely held together.  He begins by taking to the podium and doing a reading from one of his older books which is a resounding declaration and celebration of what it is to be an oddball and how the club is somewhat more exclusive people perceive it to be.  It’s a colourful shopping list of necessary authenticity, almost a rallying call for people to just be themselves regardless of whether it is strange or not.  It is at times subtly bitchy with it.  This is the glory.

“Be prepared, always wear stylish shoes.”

With the introduction done he promptly sits down and settles into conversation as the interview ensues.  Immediately it becomes apparent that these two are longstanding friends which only serves to help tease out the best elements of WATERS’ life.

After Hoare goes through a description of how he first met WATERS it leads to a description of what it is like to visit his house in Baltimore and how the place it more of a gallery (a work of art) rather than a home.  This comes with the small detail that WATERS insists on taking a Polaroid photograph of everyone that visits and that it houses all kinds of paraphernalia that can easily shock the faint hearted.

Unsurprisingly WATERS is the king of conversation.  He explains the basis and origins of his new book Role Models and what it was like meeting his heroes.  Some it seems were incredibly nice and accommodating while others (such as Little Richard) were less so.  He gets into discussing what makes a role model and states how there isn’t much originality in being an oddball anymore, how it has become too commoditised and too much of a lifestyle choice.

One of the things revealed it how organised and structured WATERS is.  Before going to bed each night he plans the following day with filecards and with that his life takes on a rigid but efficient routine.

Talking literature WATERS shares his early experiences of working in an unconventional bookshop back in Baltimore which fostered an affection for books in him.  With that declaration the conversation moves onto discussion back to his own book which Hoare highlights as being somewhat autobiographical.  Ever gracious WATERS offers that the people included in the book (his role models) are/were more interesting than him.

Speaking of his mother he does so with great affection and appreciation for her support of his endeavours, save for her concern at the Manson Family having their home address when in correspondence.  In contrast she would drive him from suburbia to bohemia and beatnik bars in Baltimore as he reveals that she became the mother other parents would call for advice.

“I committed a thousand crimes in my movies that I never did in real life”.

WATERS reveals that his first role model was Tennessee Williams as it was he that revealed there was another world out there that prompted the question in him of “how can I get that?”  On that note though he suggests those were different times, when there was currency in being an outsider.  Bleakly he offers that today there are no real outsiders in society stating that “George Bush thinks he’s an outsider”.

Hoare confirms that WATERS is a rapid reader able to read/consume an entire book during a night (“I’m able to as I am a single man and I do not watch television”) and literary figure wise he states that Denton Welch is a major hero of his.  Naturally this is an obscure writer that WATERS appreciates for his explicit recollections of adolescence.  To further back up these credentials is that William Burroughs was also a fan.

Despite being a role model, he states that Little Richard was the meeting/interview that went wrong (“didn’t end well”).  As it appears the man remains living a restrictive existence where so much needs to be approved WATERS remains a fan stating that when he emerged in the fifties it was like a Martian had landed.

Also in the book is an appreciation for pornographers Bobby Garcia and David Pearls partly based on how they had to trailblaze censorship laws while living extreme existences at their expense.  To this Hoare suggests that WATERS has served as some kind of bridges the gap between mad outsider extreme art to high contemporary art and the mainstream (“really?  I’m against art for the people”).  Continuing on the subject of art he discusses Andy Warhol (championing his movies) and the origin of his purposely tatty clothes designed by Rei Kawakubo, of the value in dressing down and being minimal.  Eventually discussing clothes and travelling leads to the admission that when Divine would go through airports and customs, being a pothead he would hide his medication in his fake tits and vagina.

“The minorities of the minorities are weary of rainbow flags.”

Returning to WATERS’ existence in Provincetown he states that on Friday nights he likes to go to straight bars because he likes minorities adding the gay person he likes is the one that does not fit in at a gay bar.  With this he recalls how when Divine met Richard Simmons he felt homophobic.  Provincetown is a place that appears to have a parade every week, the favourite of Hoare’s was Bear Week.  On the subject WATERS recalls a time when even he was shocked when he saw a Bear pushing along a twelve year old retarded girl in a baby carriage.  Where did he get that ultimate accessory.  With that image he states he doesn’t know how he feels about it and that it haunted him as the room doubles over in laughter.

Continuing to discuss the book Hoare comments that it reads like a series of screenplays as WATERS addresses the fact he cannot get his own movie made at the moment when the ironic thing is that he is very cool with a new generation after appearing on The Simpsons and indeed tonight he is appearing on the Graham Norton Show with fellow guest Justin Bieber to who he gave a moustache pencil.  WATERS states that he is very for Bieber, for that insane success that makes a person unable to leave their home without supervision/security/protection.  In contrast he resumes expressing his fondness for visiting blue collar bars and the characters he meets such as the man that confided he traded deer meat for crack as a living.  On the question of feeling threatened in such places he states they’re fine: “if the people that work there are rude get out but otherwise they’re fine” before adding “I’m afraid at shopping malls”.

At this point Hoare opens up the questioning to the audience the first of which is regarding his photography and why he hasn’t had an exhibition in London.  WATERS just shrugs stating he doesn’t know why adding that off the back of his large photo of a bottle of Poppers he received a lifetime supply before offering that it’s something that should not be mixed/crossed with Viagra.  It all ends as a maybe.

The second question is regarding the movie he cannot finance and get made.  It is entitled “Fruitcake” and is a children’s Christmas movie about a very functional family of meat thieves that they have in Baltimore who arrive at houses with the call “meat man!”  The story sounds typically WATERS after the family gets broken up and the son goes on the run with his black girlfriend.  The reality though is that he has somewhat been priced out of filmmaking.  He states that his films used to be regarded as “moderately priced independent movies” which cost about $5 million but these days it isn’t possible to get a movie made at that price anymore.  He adds that New Line is no longer the studio he recognises but he will continue pursuing the production while also having a secret project on the cards that he cannot speak (“throw enough shit at the wall and some of it is bound to stick”).

On that note Hairspray is brought up and how it has become quite the franchise as WATERS enthuses what it has become championing one production in which Tracy is played by a skinny black girl with an all white cast (“that’s really not traditional”).  He adds that he always hoped it would be in high schools which it now is with the fat girl and the drag queen getting all the parts.  As John Travolta is brought as playing the role of Edna WATERS vocally defends him as being fine as jeers ring around the hall.  He adds that it worked because they reinvented it and that Travolta assisted in getting it funded.  Ultimately with its grand popularity with the general public it has turned out to be the most subversive thing he ever did.

Next he is asked whether it is tougher to be subversive these days as WATERS responds that the key thing for him has always been to make people surprised and laugh bringing them into subjects that way, to be a guide in taking people in a world they might feel uncomfortable in.  He says it is important to use humour as politics, as protection, as aggression and as terrorism.  He is all for humiliating his enemy.  With this he moves onto discussing sex and drugs seemingly expressing nostalgia for a more innocent time when such things were relatively harmless in comparison to today.

Moving on the subject of Christmas is brought up and what WATERS has on his list for this year.  This is rightly acknowledged as a good question as he states that his favourite gifts are books: “I believe you should sexually reward people that give you books.  A book by your favourite author: you blow them.  A book by your favourite author you didn’t know existed: you rape them”.  To this he adds: “never give giftcards as it means you think people are stupid or have no interests.  A bad present is better than a giftcard.  And never regift”.  At this point Hoare reveals that WATERS gave a present to himself: a baby which he reveals as being called “Bill” and looks very realistic.

Turning morose the next question asks what is one line obituary would be and what he would like to be remembered for.  In response WATERS relates the Charlie Brown/Peanuts line “There was boy.  He was born.  He died.  The end.” Adding he doesn’t think you should have anything funny on your tombstone stating that he already has a plot next to Divine and Mink Stole etc which has been described as “Disgraceland”.  Then with regards to being remembered for one thing he states “for making bad taste 1% more respectable” and general pride in what he has done concluding “I’ve had a great life”.

Nearing the end he is asked about his favourite British culture as he lists Denton Welch, The Krays, Gitta Sereny, Lionel Shriver and Tracey Emin.  At this point another voice pipes up suggesting that he could finance his “meat film” by doing answerphone messages such as in Desperate Living to which he adds “oh I’ve done that for charities” before adding “actually Boy George at one time, when he gave me his number five years ago, I called it and he had on his answering machine “Cocksucker Residence” from Serial Mom”.

The final question comes from a hairdo that stands out above everyone else’s as it asks “who is coming to your Christmas party this year?”  With that WATERS states that for his Christmas party the Saturday before Christmas he has invited 200 people a quarter of which he only sees at that party, people he has known in Baltimore for 40 years which includes everybody from his next door neighbours from his old apartment (two 85 year old women) to the guy that played the singing asshole in Pink Flamingos, who it turns out used to attend screenings of the movie when it was re-released and during the pivotal scene would tap patrons on the shoulder and say “that’s me”, which WATERS states is “terrorism”.  With that he adds the man also said “the only good thing about his parents dying was they never found out” and at this point WATERS says “shall we end with that?”

With that a very entertaining evening comes to a close as the promise of a book signing session excites people to the point of bundle as people leave the venue.  Soon I find myself stood next to Neil Tennant and I almost say to him “I was working at Sarm when you recorded there” but how would that fact help any of us?  Soon he is cutting the queue, finding an alternative route out of the room.  Godhead.

Soon I get outside and onto the end of the book signing queue.  Immediately it dawns on me that it is going to be a long night.  Ahead of me are people that look like characters from his movies.  In addition to this a few people possess tattoos of his face while other people just appear generally dysfunctional and off their tits.  In a way all these people deserve to be ahead of me in the line.

As I wait patiently I spot Simon Price exiting the venue as I begin to wonder whether I am actually going to get my book signed and my moment with WATERS as the queue moves painfully slowly.

Thankfully after a slow start the line begins moving at a decent pace as it begins to occur to me just how many amazing looking females are in the queue.  I think here I find my favourite type of woman: slightly Goth, damaged girls who like JOHN WATERS.  Its all in the heavy eyeliner.

Finally I get my moment in the sun as nerves begin to kick in.  What am I going to say to the man?  Thankfully just prior to my time a Southbank member of staff asks me if I want my photo taken with WATERS.  Do I!

Then it happens.  As I approach him he gentlemanly says “you are all so patient”.  With this he asks me who to sign the book to as I crouch down to pose with him.  In the end it all happens within seconds but it is no less elating as all I manage to tell him is “that was amazing” as I head off buzzing.  Its in the little things.

Immediately I check my iPhone and the photo of the pair of us and thankfully it looks good (I look good).  This feels like the official start of Christmas right down.

From here I literally skip towards Waterloo and then up to Tottenham Court Road before flying across to Liverpool Street onto the Friday night happy rutter train home.  In the end I wind up on the 10.30PM Norwich train and that doesn’t actually leave until 10.45PM.  After regularly beaching by 11.30PM it has only got to Shenfield.  Fortunately not even this can bring me down this night.

Invariably I get home long after midnight, thankful that tomorrow is Saturday.

There is a lot of love.


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