Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday 13 January 2011

Thursday 13 January 2011

Dream: I am staying in a house on the street that I grew up on (Holland Road).  The place is not quite how I remember it but the important people from/in my life are there.  It has a post-Christmas feel and with this I take a dog for a walk down to the end of the road (a thirty minute walk).  As I get to the end things begin to change.  There I bump into hip but seemingly responsible adults.  Naturally their initial reaction is to love the dog.  Then as I begin to hang around their enthusiasm wanes.  At this point I begin to notice that they are acting cagey and suddenly their drug dependence stories come out.  And these stories appear to be quite current.  The illusion shatters, they are fakes, they are frauds.  From here I head towards the playing field where I grew up and it has been replaced by a college.  This turns out to be a college where I once started a course but didn’t continue with it (see it out).  I guess this appears to be recognition of my outstanding CPDs (continued professional development) forms that I need to complete and evidence.  Somehow I wind up in conversation with a tutor regarding how I am going to pick up the pieces.  It’s all hot air.  As the place clears out I find myself walking the dog in amongst students which is a very attention seeking action on my part.  Even stranger is as I near town suddenly I find myself walking up a variation of Queen Street in Colchester which then leads to some Portobello Road/Notting Hill hybrid.  Eventually I wind up bumping into Andy Zaltzman who is stressing out over a programme he has just done with unemployed people which at times might be perceived as slightly mocking them.  Cheekily I listen in as he expresses concern for his safety while John Oliver assures him that only about twenty people will see it anyway.  I am being intrusive.  This may be random but tonight my friends are heading to see Zaltzman at Soho Theatre where an invitation was not extended to me.  This is plainly playing on my mind.

In the early hours the computer at the end of my bed reboots as a Windows update occurs.  This always serves up a terrifying end of the world noise/sound.

At 6AM my alarm buzzes when feeling ahead of time and early.  This has a natural illusion of injustice attached to it.

Instinctively I flip on Daybreak but there is nothing on.  The news is of more floods in Australia which are being reported and commented on through gawping fake forced smiles.  It must be disorientating for the senses to be on this show.  Is there a producer permanently in their ears screaming: “be happy, be happy!  No!  Be sad now, be sad!”  It all just leaves a gaping mental wound within the viewer.

Before long I am dragging myself out of bed.  My reflection is astonishing.  If nothing else I need a bath but there is no room/gap in my diary/schedule until Saturday to work one in.  This is truly pathetic.

Once dressed my breakfast consists of two yoghurts as I try once more to work my failing external drive.  Again there is no sign of life.

From here I exit into the dark of another grotty day.  Thank God it is Thursday.

The drive to the station is mild with minimal annoyance and before long I am on the station platform awaiting my doom.  At least when the train arrives and I board I manage to get my seat.

It would appear that the magic beans are making me fart.

My new measure of a day is now whether a person sits next to me at Witham or not.  If they squeeze in at this point and cause premature discomfort then it is bound to be a shitty day ahead of me.  Thankfully this today is not realised.

After passing through Stratford the train beaches twice (once at Bethnal Green and then just outside Liverpool Street).  In the end the train crawls pathetically into the station at 8.16AM.  Late again.  So let me get this straight, I now have to rush in the mornings to board a train that leaves two minutes earlier than my old train but arrives into London twenty minutes later than that one.  I see a few faults in this.  Congratulations National Express East Anglia.

Upon arrival onto the tube platform things fail to improve (get worse) as the tubes appear dead and at a standstill.  Why bother?  When a tube finally turns up the time now is almost 8.25AM.  I am wasting my life away on public transport.

On the tube today I spot interesting and attractive looking girls reading Kurt Vonnegut and Charlie Brooker books.  Why do I never meet these females?

With this the tube crawls across town at a slovenly rate.  Unfortunately the PA on this train is fucked so when Information Jimmy attempts to speak to us it is just a dull mumble meaning that we are none the wiser when our train beaches in the dark between stations.  At one point we clearly hear the words Kings Cross though.  That makes sense.  And then suddenly he finds his full voice, reporting severe delays as a result of signal failures.  Was this guy only pretending that the PA was broken (not working) earlier on?

The time is 8.51AM when I finally get onto the Jubilee Line at Baker Street.  Without doubt this is going to make me late arriving into work.

It is while I travel between Baker Street and St Johns Wood that I recall this time two years ago I was stocking up on painkillers with view to overdosing on them.  And despite that part of me suspects that I was happier back then.

The final kick in the balls occurs when as I exit St Johns Wood station the powers that be have rolled out their drones to physically inspect tickets.  Shouldn’t they be concentrating their efforts on making the actual system work first?  I can’t even be bothered to groan at the man.

In the end I step into work only a couple of minutes after 9AM.  It used to be a rare thing for me to be late but now with this new National Express timetable I suspect it will become a regular occurrence soon.

Likewise The Girl is late but in comparison she had to stand all the way.  Basically public transport appears rubbish in general today.

The auditors are finally in today.  I recognise and remember the two guys from last time but now there is a seemingly dotty Scottish/Irish/Scouse (delete as applicable) girl in parachute trousers with them.  It’s a strange look that almost prevents me from fancying her.  Viewed from behind the trousers possess a zip where the arse crack is.  Is she wearing them the wrong way round or maybe its just there for quick assess.

I get hit with the usual queries (mostly the breakdown and supply of figures and schedules).  For a first day it runs impressively smoothly.  Hopefully this is not a false dawn.

With this we soon reach lunchtime.  As per usual we supply the auditors (all three of them) with dinner.  I guess technically this could/might be perceived as some kind of bribe.

In the afternoon the Filipino says a strange thing to me as she confides that she has only ever kissed one man and had only one boyfriend.  Why is she telling me this?  Over share.  Should I at this point by telling her the dingy manner in which I lost my virginity in Earls Court?

Eventually the afternoon winds to an end with minimal anxiety being caused by the auditors.  I don’t want to jinx things but it just might run smoothly this year.  Famous last words.  Then again the accounts they are reviewing are ones that haven’t actually be finished.  Who am I kidding?  Anything with the consultant on board or involved is doomed to failure.

Once more I exit work with The Girl as the rain pisses down from above.  She attempts to make space/room for the pair of us beneath her umbrella but its futile.  Also being that tonight I am heading to the Bloomsbury Theatre to see STEPHEN MERCHANT with two hours to kill these conditions are far from ideal.

As I head towards Bloomsbury when I exit at Euston Square I predictably wind up in the Waterstones cum Fopp on Gower Street were I sought refuge from the rain.  Originally my plan was to grab a coffee at the Costa in the basement but when I get there it would seem I was not alone in this concept as the shop is rammed.  Scrap that idea then.

Instead I end up buying shit in Fopp in order to waste time (and money).  Tonight what tips the purchase is a £5 limited edition version of that shitty last Cribs album.  To this I add the recent Pavement compilation and the second Neil Young album.  Then with that I am done.

With the rain still belting down outside I linger in the Waterstones for an extended period flicking through books I have no intention of buying.  In the music section I happen across a big book on fanzines, which I leaf through it in hope of recognising some titles/issues, maybe even my own.  Unfortunately it appears to miss (neglects) the late 90s DIY resurgence/revival, instead choosing to concentrate on the Riot Grrrl movement a few years earlier.  What a missed opportunity.

Then later when I am flicking through the movie books I discover one that just reprints the Wikipedia entries of all participants attached to Barton Fink.  This is such a cheap concept, a terrible book.  Then I notice that it costs £75.  What is going on with this world?  No wonder nobody is buying books anymore.

By now the time is closing in so I head over to the Bloomsbury Theatre.  Within seconds I have my ticket and am heading to the famous Bloomsbury canteen with its impressive collection of Chinese caffeine drinks.  This is quite literally the future right here.

After downing a cold can of Nescafe milk or something a weird thing happens as I head towards the theatre when a girl approaches me asking me if I am “going to the STEPHEN MERCHANT show tonight?”  Naturally my instinct is to think that she has mistaken me for somebody else (somebody real).  As I hastily remove my headphones with a panic to explain her mistake it turns out that she wants to quickly interview me for her website commenting on why I am here to see STEPHEN MERCHANT this evening and what I am expecting from it.

I actually have lots of reasons for coming to this show tonight (such as one upping my American friend) but I figure it best that I keep them to myself.  In the end I just tell the girl that unfortunately my mind has gone blank.  With this smiles and hands me a token for her website with the address and tagline “communicate happiness”.  Really?

From her I leave her and step upstairs to my seat in the high up section.  In that case then I guess it’s a good job that MERCHANT is such a big person.

Looking down at the stage there is a big backdrop of a painted version of a smiling MERCHANT with the words “work in progress” strategically placed so as not to mislead our expectations.

Before the main set DAN ATKINSON does a solid job of support as he whips through a short set of funny observations before getting into a weird bit of heckling with a Polish man sat higher than me who declares that he scientifically fluffs animals for a living.  This occupation is too easy for even ATKINSON to touch, there’s just no sport in it.  Then after various jokes about cats and shops and London, the usual stuff, he heads off for the evening.

At this point things begin to get exciting as expectations rise and the crowd gear up for their hero.  Tonight I can’t help but think about Mindy and whether she is still as obsessed by MERCHANT as ever.  I guess she got her action figure version and now she is content with that.  If only she had stuck with me, she would be doing pretty good right now.

STEPHEN MERCHANT steps out onstage like the gangly figure that he is.  To his credit he does not deny or attempt to hide this fact (although admittedly it would be pretty impossible) and its very cool to see him in person.  Early on he points that he is wearing a “Madonna mic” as another question regarding his stand-up abilities gets addressed.

Obviously the set is tainted with the stench of Ricky Gervais (or rather “you know who” as he refers to him).  MERCHANT would always have been a fool to pretend/deny this so early on he makes sure he addresses his comedy partner and, more or less, the origins and reasons why we are here tonight.  He executes this in a slick manner that comes with an annoying degree of swagger that does not necessarily rub.  Happily he then flips this by displaying how his height has in the past tended to undermine his efforts.  I would say though it does not all necessarily work.

From here he runs into his find a wife spiel.  Anyone who has followed his radio/podcast work will no doubt feel a sense of having been listening to this for years.  And thus as a result it proves a tough sell.

Initially I find this MERCHANT persona a tad fake and without charm as for too long he plays the part of the victim and the loser when in reality he is accomplished and now long past such concerns.  And worse than this as a result at times he actually comes over as slightly smug.

Fortunately about halfway through something great happens as he becomes likeable.  For some reason after revealing his Blue Peter badge it feels like the real geek is stepping out and with his spiel of the guy that does not get the girl he becomes something of a hero.  Not least in his efforts to save money.

It is his dating/sex material that does it, not least as he points out how initially it is the man doing all the hard work.  It is hilarious as he taps into a question that I have genuinely held: what do you do with your glasses during sex?  On the job MERCHANT is quite the sight.

Then it comes to an end on a very good note.  MERCHANT wins.

After the big ending he returns for an encore where he re-enacts one of his old school plays entitled “Choices”.  He does this with the assistance of two people from the audience and, obsessed as I am; when I see a short dumpy girl storm to the stage I think that it is my American friend.  Fortunately I am wrong.

From here he puts them the wringer with his politically correct teenage verse that is unintentionally funny.  With the references naïve and the situations unlikely you couldn’t make this material up.  This is how it was in the eighties.  These are big ideas on a big budget done in the cheapest way.  And they couldn’t be any funnier.

It ends with satisfaction.  The night managed to surpass expectations.  Down the road my friends are watching Andy Zaltzman at the Soho Theatre and originally I was half intending to join them afterwards but tonight this show is more than enough to see me go home happy.

With this I skip to Euston Square where I board a tube across to Liverpool Street where I board a late train home to Colchester.  Things are looking up.

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