Saturday, 19 September 2009

Saturday 19 September 2009

This morning I wake up just past 8AM.

On cue once I am awake I head straight over to Asda to do the routine Saturday newspaper run and get my weekly groceries. Doing so slightly early each week is proving an ache and troublesome.

As I speed up Layer Road towards the store yet again the mobile speed camera truck is sat waiting to catch effervescent motorists. This is the third time it has sat in this spot in recent memory, why are they choosing to persecute people along this road? They’ve already put in the awkward island at the corner that prevents people from getting/building any speed rendering the process near impossible.

I trawl through Asda today with the minimum of enthusiasm. As I buy another oversized black v-neck (third in a week) it does first require me to slip in between an Asian couple trying on and closely inspecting a £6 jumper. Are people really so tight and cost conscious?

With a fair bit of stuff still remaining from my visit on Wednesday there isn’t much necessity in my purchases today, which only serves to increase my lack of interest.

As I hit the self service checkout the same woman from every week has to clear my till every time a light item gets dropped into my shopping bag and the machine fails to register it. I now feel I know this woman for the amount of times I have bothered her, I am almost apologetic in feeling responsible for making her life hell and having to do this shitty/crappy job. In a way she has come to represent a mother figure to me. This relationship is fully realised as when I leave and say “bye (see you next week)” my top heavy cold items and drinks bag immediately splits and she comes to my rescue repacking my bag. I feel really embarrassed in having her see first hand just how unhealthy my grocery options are. She is a modern day hero.

While leaving the store with a red face I see The Crab walking in and as ever I pretend to be invisible hoping that he doesn’t notice or recognise me.

After a swift drive home, remembering to slow down for the speed camera truck, I get home just in time for the beginning of the new Danny Baker show. With it booming in the background I put away my groceries then grab the newspapers and take my perch at my desk.

There is a news story in the The Sun today about Colchester United footballer Jamie Guy. Its none too complimentary as it describes how he had something of an argument with his girlfriend in the nightclub that used to be the Hippodrome on the high street. More interestingly though it says that he earns £400 a week. Is that true? Is his sum really so little? I earn more than that! Suffer!

I have to concede and admit that I lose interest in the new Danny Baker radio show today. This should be the perfect way to begin the weekend but I really do believe the woman drags him down and calms the tone to proceedings to a really dour BBC state and thus snuffs out his edge. There is a great little anecdote from years ago about taking the conker champion to New York and then having him break down in the hotel room afterwards with the resignation that “I have wasted my life.” This little story sends me spiralling off in a similar direction with such a set of thoughts – will I one day come to conclusion that I have wasted my life? I genuinely fear that I run the risk of that still living in the town that I was born in. That said I do at least spend the majority of my waking life in London, which does lend me options and opportunity, but at the end of the day I do wind up back in a flat I have been in eight years and am now bored of. This thought process is to be continued.

Back to the radio show and I think another thing that causes it to suffer and splutter today is the guest choice in the form of Alan Davies who I sadly feel these days is long past his sell by date.

Once the show ends I pull myself together with view to heading to London.

The saddest moment of my year occurs when I renew my annual Travelcard. I literally live in fear of my credit card failing while in the process of renewing it but happily this is not the case as the man behind the counter apologetically asks me for £4600, which is £100 more than I was led to the believe the cost would be. In sheer seconds the card goes through the terminal and the transaction is complete and suddenly I am now in debt by more money than my first two cars cost combined.

After being financially raped I hope aboard a weird orange train heading towards London at 11.49AM. On the train is a fat bloke with some of the most pungent BO in history. The orange trains do not have windows.

When I emerge at Liverpool Street Mark is already waiting at the WH Smith so swiftly we head over to Spitalfields and the Japan Matsuri event where FRANK CHICKENS are performing.

As we stagger across Bishopsgate immediately we are confronted by what Mark describes as the entire population of Japanese London at the event. The place is rammed with people looking over odd events, art and food. Entering where the main stage is set up it is difficult to move but quickly I spot Steve (Nice) in the distance who waves us over.

It had been Steve who had informed me about this event and now it suddenly turns out that he is dancing with FRANK CHICKENS. Its pretty cool to see him again, the old Hirameka days now feel a lifetime ago so now any possible bad blood from Gringo Records is long gone. He is very nervous ahead of the performance but I tell him that he is playing to a home crowd and that they will love it regardless.

The FRANK CHICKENS set is interesting. Back in the eighties they were part of the Red Wedge that meant the band rubbed shoulders with a lot of influential indie acts and managed to carve their own piece of legacy.

These days it would appear that the act is very much a novelty shadow of the seriousness they once exhumed. This does not make it any less fun, in a way it makes it even more fun but it is just at the cost of credibility. Of the originals it is just main lady Kazuko Hohki as she indulges in making a colourful spectacle with lots of costume changes and dancing, the theatrics of proceedings now taking over from the music.

As the set rolls on the comedy outweighs the music and eventually “We Are Ninja” turns up as the set turns out to be an all singing and dancing affair. Everyone has fun as I begin to think I recognise one of the dancers as a Japanese girl called Nao that gave me the time of day last summer.

Afterwards as compere Naomi Suzuki takes to the stage it should really be to do a set of traditional Japanese songs but instead she has to do a shout out to the crowd as there is a lost child crying its eyes out in front of the stage. As its parents rescue him there is a collective “ahhh!” from the Japanese audience. Is this some kind of Japanese tradition?

Naomi Suzuki looks amazing. Apparently she was in Bridget Jones 2 and has something of domestic career (in Japan) going on being located in London.

With the event being packed Mark and I don’t hang around instead choosing to get away from the stampede. Having not had anything to eat yet we head to A. Gold for an overpriced but plain sandwich. This I guess is lunch. We then get a wanky cup of coffee from another faux retro store along the road. I just want a Starbucks.

With this done we head over to Rough Trade around the corner from Brick Lane where we bump into Steve heading home after his appearance. Its actually really nice to see him and speak briefly. The old degree of smartness and cynicism is gone and now that we all seem established in roles that agree with us all appears well in our respective worlds.

As Mark and I enter Rough Trade we spot James Dean Bradfield in one of the best celeb spots all summer (definitely up there with Paul McGann). Its weird the guy is short but looks every part the rock star. Realistically you would have thought Rough Trade would be the last place an “indie star” would want to be seen but maybe he woke up this morning wanting some recognition.

Inside Rough Trade I flick through the seven inch racks and eventually spend a ridiculous amount of money on records I will only ever play a few times. It has been said before but these are definitely fetish items.

By now Mark gets word from some other people and we head back into Spitalfields into the bustling Matsuri to meet up with some people. I vaguely know a few of the people and it is nice to see them but I really have had my fill of Matsuri by this point.

As the final people turn up we head up Commercial Street where we get introduced to the Commercial Tavern. Apparently this is some kind of hip pub but I am only lukewarm to it. Behind the bar there are toys which does not necessarily seem fitting to me for a pub but then again this is East London where that kind of trendy shit seems to go.

With no seats available inside the pub we step outside and drink on the pavement while the busy traffic of Commercial Street flies past spluttering their fumes out at us. Thankfully by this point I begin to warm up and get involved once more in proceedings as people start to give me the time of day.

There is a weird adult feel to proceedings and with us are two married couples (English guy, Japanese girl) who are people that are my age. Perhaps it is time for me to grow up and get hitched. Slowly I find myself getting into weird conversations with people who all appear to have their own art and as I saunter into conversations that would otherwise feel dead end we persist with things through some sheer act of good manners it would seem.

Eventually I wind up in conversation with a guy called Martin who it turns out used to do a Shonen Knife fanzine (once even seeing them play with Huggy Bear) as well as various other bits and pieces of writing for skating magazines. Suddenly it occurs to me that this is now my generation. The guy is pushing forty with a Japanese girlfriend in her twenties and now discussing the good old days of grunge fuelled indie rock in retrospect outside a pub in East London in the summer is pretty much what we are supposed to be doing. We further click as he goes through my bag of seven inches purchased from Rough Trade and he is actually familiar with some of the acts and releases.

Soon the day turns to evening and things begin to get dark. With this dinner gets suggested and recommended so a toddle over to Shoreditch occurs. The word is that we are going Vietnamese which reminds me of coming here in Jan 05 for Justin’s birthday while I was unemployed from blogging. After a few false starts we wind up at a place called the Viet Grill. The owners seem reluctant to squeeze us in, giving us an eating time of about an hour and a half.

I wind up sat opposite the fanzine guy as we manage to discuss various things. At point he asks me what I think of the restaurant industry and suddenly it occurs to me that I have next to no interest in the work that I do. I literally stutter when quizzed on this. Thankfully I am able to steer conversation away from me and onto him.

For a starter I order Wicked Crispy Frog. I have no idea how it tastes I just like the idea of eating something that sounds so gross. When it gets served it resembles slightly something you might get in a good KFC, it is indeed crispy. As I tear into the critter the downfall occurs due to its many tiny shards that are its bones. When I actually manage to taste some meat it goes like chicken but this is not before I have to battle and crunch my way through dozens (maybe hundreds) of tiny little bones. For a moment I consider chewing and swallowing the bones as part of the delicacy but ultimately that is not a very good idea. In the end it tastes really good but I fear I leave more than I actually consume.

My main course option comes in the form of Campfire Beef and it remains the greatest tasting dish I have experienced all year. This was the recommendation of Martin and when it arrives it comes with the added excitement of the waitress setting the bottom of the bowl alight. For a long while I wonder just how I am going to eat this dish but the flames eventually go out. The taste that remains is the most amazing combination of sweet and hot beef I think I have ever tasted in my life. The flavours trickle through my being, down my throat and direct to my heart. As the heat fails to wane it tastes like eating a main dish and dessert all in one. I just look on in amazement at the bowl.

Afterwards with a full belly conversation flows at a lightning pace. It turns out that most of us have recently seen Fish Tank and as talk turns towards Essex I have to deploy my own theories on the authenticity of the piece. Suddenly people seem interested in Essex. They should be but still it is pretty unnerving to have them do so in a somewhat bourgeois and almost patronising manner. We then all pull out our iPhones and begin to compare applications much to the chagrin of those that don’t have them.

We leave the restaurant buzzing. The new couple are suddenly raving over us, their new friends and business cards begin to get exchanged. I have never had a business card and sadly I feel left out. The Japanese lady Kaoru makes up for this however by showing us her novelty business card with a hole in which you put a folded finger wrinkle in order to display a vagina. Everyone raves as if it were the greatest thing they have ever seen but I just respond in kind although she accuses me of being disgusted or grossed out by it. Did I really display my lack of being impressed so blatantly?

Eventually that couple leaves with suggesting (almost hatching) big plans to come to Colchester to visit and check out Essex. We’ll see if that happens, I’ll believe it when I see it.

The remainder of us (me, Mark, Martin and his wife Saki) now find ourselves heading to Hoxton Square where apparently a cool coffee shop awaits us. At this time on a Saturday night the world should be buzzing and I sense/fear we will have problems/trouble getting a seat there. Fortunately/thankfully when we arrive at Macondo there is a small table perfect for our party.

With the night now crawling to a conclusion familiarity now means we can drop our guards and begin really saying what we think. Saki really takes centre stage as she talks about food and annoyances. This really is a food based evening.

Tonight Macondo feels like the perfect place to be. It reminds me of Berlin from last summer and nowhere else in London (or England) I have experienced before. As a result the drinks are pricy for what they are but it is more about the conversation and company than the actual product we are consuming. Suddenly a sense hits me that I could stay here all night and as I look over at the “cool people” Hoxton Square begins to warm to me (and vice versa).

One drink later we begin to make moves through the gotham of East London towards Liverpool Street. Along the way conversation gets hijacked and the fact that we are with a married couple seems to be lost on my friend. Personally had I been the husband I would have taken him to task. This is almost cockblock in a strangely impotent manner.

With a bit of a rush (something that seems lost on my oblivious acquaintances) I manage to catch the 10.30PM Norwich train home having had perhaps the best of all possible Saturdays.

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