Friday 18 December 2009
This is a crunching day much along the lines of earlier this year in February and Snow Day. Looking at the footage on TV it would appear that Essex got it worst through the night and when I did approach my car at the station the many in which the wind swept the snow into my face was something alien and foreign to me that I haven’t experienced in years.
I have to admit I do enter into the day half awaiting a phonecall from work telling me not to bother going in. The reality however that London has not been hit so hard by the snow really serves to work against me and my situation does not really translate to the powers that be.
I leave the flat at around 7AM to witness first hand the carpet of snow in our courtyard. As I do so my neighbour Michelle is outside scraping the snow and ice off her own car. The idea of driving to the station never enters my mind, I just find these conditions too terrifying to drive in. As ever my neighbour tells me not to bother going into work and I wish she held that kind of authority to dictate things in this manner.
Looking around our apartment complex seldom does it look so pretty. Rather than doing anything of use or sense I instead begin taking photos of where we live caked in snow. I am such a tourist sometimes now that I have the ability to take photos once more.
Eventually I take the bull by the horns and decide to walk to the station in the hope that much like last time I will get five minutes down the road and have the boss telephone me to tell me not to bother. Unfortunately the best-laid plans do not necessarily always come off.
The walk down Layer Road is a heavy trudge that I can’t recall ever experiencing before. With the day still young cars occasionally pass by and with it I concentrate on how they are moving and coping with the conditions. On the whole they are driving at an OK pace, both sensible and realistic that doesn’t disturb or disrupt the flow too much. Then I see a man on a bicycle and he really does not look safe as houses.
I decide to cut down to Maldon Road rather than taking the Butt Road route (if for nothing else to avoid both memories of Action Park and where I used to work). Upon crossing the road I see a stranger who bids me “good morning” in a rare gesture of friendliness seldom encountered here in Colchester.
Moving along Maldon Road proves a slushy experience and occasionally a slippery one as the paths feel more bedded in here. There is something about this street that I love, the houses look welcoming and I have always felt that this would have been a great place to grow up. At the end of the road there is a first floor flat that I once viewed with the intention to possibly buying. It was a horrible squalid place that caused me to question the realities of my social positioning in the grand scheme of things.
Despite the nuisance of the snow it is a very beautiful sight and as I reach the roundabout at the police station I get my first full glimpse of Colchester town caked in snow. As I cross towards Crouch Street I see the Hogshead looking charming covered in snow. From here I head down Balkerne Hill passing where my parents live and the complex that is currently causing me potential legal woes.
To my pleasant surprise I manage to climb up and down the hill without slipping over and as I reach Middleborough a number of photo opportunities arise as some of the nicest views and sights of Colchester suddenly find themselves covered in white.
Just as I cross the street onto North Station Road a voice shouts “good morning young man” and it turns out to be my parents’ neighbour trudging to work with his other half (the lady that once told how her family had a dog called “Nigger” growing up). I get into some kind of nice nice conversation with them as I skirt around the subject of where they live trying to glean whether the threatened legal action against me for the website has been mentioned. It would seem not.
Eventually I get to the station where National Express are apparently laying on a “rolling service” which means trains are leaving for London as and when. When I finally board a train the time is 7.55AM and I am covered in snow to the point that I have to remove my coat to avoid melting in my seat and turning the train damp.
At this point I send a text message to my boss half annoyed that he hasn’t told me not to bother going in. Perhaps the snow isn’t so bad in London after all.
As the train runs parallel to the A12 and nears Chelmsford it is funny to observe on the road the sole car driving towards London in a determined manner. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason behind driving on this day. This truly looks like the last man on earth.
The train finally pulls into Liverpool Street around 9.15AM. For all my efforts I really am not all that late after all. With view to cheering myself up I head to Starbucks where I buy an eggnog latte. Initially the lady serving tries to give me a normal sized cup but I apologise and insist that she give me a venti. Mere minutes later while on my tube as it pulls into Moorgate just one stop later I am already polishing the drink off with an obscene pace. Is this bad?
I’m in a Henry Fool mood today, I genuinely feel that I resemble something of a lo-fi version of him with my shaggy appearance and delusions of grandeur with regards to my knowledge and writing. My coat I feel sets me apart from the majority of people around me. Rightly or wrongly I feel I can look down on these people and their stupid Oyster cards. My travelcard is gold, it costs me £4600 and is still made of card. I guess at least The Man cannot trace my whereabouts through my train ticket. With this I maintain some of my freedom. Suddenly it becomes apparent to me that it is the latte that has caused some kind of euphoria and mania within me.
Interestingly today the front page of the Daily Mirror features Simon Cowell bemoaning Rage Against The Machine and how they are getting biased treatment by/from the BBC. What television network were his shitty programmes on the last time we looked? Get over it.
From here onwards beyond the rough start the day plays out pretty successfully. I spend the day awaiting a response from the solicitors once again but it doesn’t come. I wonder what are they playing at?
Soon the rest of the day sails out devoid of negative drama and with a meeting time of 6.30PM this evening I head to Bond Street with view of buying everybody a Christmas present of the Rage Against The Machine single on CD. Unfortunately this ultimately isn’t to be, they haven’t done physical copies of the single, which I guess in the long run is good for the environment fitting in with their flower punk mentality/ethos. Still, it would have been a great thing to possess.
Tonight Bond Street is carnage. I guess it is the final Friday before Christmas but really, why the panic? I didn’t think anyone had any money this year. Oh yeah, that’s the rest of the country, London in comparison is doing just fine (well, as fine as fine can get in the nations capital).
When I fail to get the CDs I return back into Bond Street tube station where I find myself confronted with bedlam and the realisation that it is only hassle that lay ahead by taking this route. Promptly I turn around and exit the station with view to walking to Green Park and getting the tube up from there.
Walking through Mayfair is one of the nicer strolls you will ever take in London, even on a chilled dark night in December. As I walk past the US Embassy it looks mammoth and intimidating much like the arsehole country itself.
Soon I find myself lost in amazing streets amongst the most regal of buildings. I wonder just what it is you have to do to get to this point. Is it something you are born into? Are these fruits of hard work and labour?
It is at this point that I decide next year at Christmas this is where I want to be. I want to awaken on Christmas Day and go for a stroll around central London and see the sights deserted and peaceful. That is my idea of luxury.
Eventually I get to Green Park tube station and get a ride up to Highbury & Islington where we are all supposed to be meeting. Not long after emerging from the station I get a text message from Racton saying that they are at the Albert And Pearl. When I get there Racton is already with Matthew where everyone appears jolly and in Christmas spirit.
Tonight I come filled with tales of post-ATP woe, of dealing with the snow and my latest shower of shit in the form of the apparent legal threat I am being subjected to. Considering that it was only four days ago since I last saw these guys a lot seems to have happened.
Finally Mark turns up and we are set for the evening. In full flow we slowly head towards Akari on Essex Road, the Japanese restaurant where we are eating this evening. When we arrive there the décor is not as expected, instead managing to represent the best of both worlds.
Soon we find ourselves tearing into more alcohol as various unrecognisable dishes are ordered off the menu and dumped into the middle of our table where we collectively pick at the food. The portions are small but the quality is high, this is not a place to come when you are feeling hungry.
The menu has plum wine on it and soon I am downing my favourite tipple, almost to an extreme point. I polish off my first glass and soon I am ordering my second and then a third.
Tonight the food is good and conversation flows. Later as we hit the sushi and sake combination and I pass on a second shot of sake Mark makes comment that “I was never much of a drinker” to which I seem to take great offence, neither thinking this is true or a necessarily a bad thing, basically on the whole being a comment that didn’t need making seemingly only delivered to undermine my role in the evening. At the time however immediately it took me back leaving my trying to compute just what the fuck it meant for the longest time.
As I continue to make stupid but sometimes funny observations, after a wrestling reference Matthew tells me that I should speak to Wil Hodgson because he is into similar things such as me and indeed himself used to be a wrestler. At this point we almost make a date to hang out with him the next time he does London.
Eventually we finish up the meal, exiting the restaurant and heading to On The Beach at the Buffalo Bar. I have to concede that despite spending around £30 on the meal I leave feeling still very hungry. As we stagger along Essex Road we spot a Banksy tag and I have to concede it is the first one I have across away from East London. As I take a drunken photo of it with my iPhone Mark calls me a “tourist.”
After a slight detour and loss of direction we finally wind up back on Upper Street where despite only being halfway up the street it gets decided that we get a bus up to the Buffalo Bar. Have we really become so lazy as a race?
By this point of the evening I now have the song “For A Million Pounds” by Kunt And The Gang playing in my head and being in high spirits I apply this externally (sing it) to a number of examples involving everyone and anyone around. This decision garners mixed results.
Soon we get off the bus at Highbury & Islington and arrive at the Buffalo Bar and enter On The Beach. Like Z-Man from Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls “this is my scene and it’s freakin’ me out!”
Tonight I am feeling on good form. By this point in proceedings I have stopped drinking for fear of going loco so instead I feel focused enough to channel my energy into more productive movements for the evening. Unfortunately this is not universal as when my little legal issue gets brought up again (my bad) my friend now does some kind of u-turn and literally drunkenly berates me for my actions telling me “of course you are in the wrong.” What about the nuances? Nope, I am completely in the wrong but it would seem I am regarded as stupid. Thanks for the support great mate.
Eventually the roller derby girl from ATP turns up and once again I make a fool of myself as I stumble into some kind of one trick conversation with her along the lines of “I work with a couple of roller derby girls.”
As the night heads towards 11PM I begin to make moves. It would appear that this is potentially the last time I will be seeing these people this side of Christmas so things almost get emotional. I briefly make enquiry with Mark about Christmas Eve night in Colchester but my sad fears get confirmed as my old Gringo Records cohort has already set about attempting to make plans for the night and thus a Christmas Eve Massacre looks likely to occur. I just shrug with some kind of resignation instead of indignation. These things.
I wind up on the 11.30PM Norwich train home half surrounded by tourists with the other half being salarymen returning home themselves from Christmas drinks all relatively merry. As the ride continues I guess the night’s excesses catch up on me as I nod off halfway through the journey.
Without delay the train finally gets back to Colchester just before half past midnight still caked in more snow than London.
As I leave the station I find myself met with a denser carpet of ice than was evident this morning and while I head under the bridge the stoop is visibly precarious. After a couple of serious slips the inevitable occurs as I going flying onto my back. While I sprawl around on the floor a couple follows me equally cautious and fearful of falling over also. I note how they do not stop to check that I am all right.
Beyond the initial fall the late night walk home turns out to be an enjoyable one. In the world nowhere ever feels truly dark anymore as instead everywhere gets saturated with a sickly neon orange glow but sometimes this is a beautiful thing to behold.
Walking up North Station Road and onto North Hill it is a struggle not to slip and fall again but eventually as I land in the centre of town many venues are still wide open with spirits flying high and bad music playing loud. This is truly Christmas now. As I pass Yates’s two policemen stand shivering on the corner as Mariah Carey and “All I Want For Christmas Is You” booms out from the venue. Its all so wrong it is right.
Later as I pass The Playhouse it is to the vision of a police van and two cars parked outside with a girl lying on the ground with her legs akimbo. It’s a great sight.
From here I head up Butt Road and almost pass Chernobyl without realising. As I look across at the main Butt Road office so many memories return and I wonder if inside things are how I remember them. It has been literally years since I have walked along here.
As I stagger up Butt Road ahead of me a couple stumble through the snow trying not to slip. Their pace is slow so I figure it is safer to walk on the other side of the road rather than attempt to pass them. Soon I am pass the pair, managing to avoid acknowledging them, and eventually I arrive at Action Park, yet another scene from my past that saw many lofty dramas and experiences unravel. Again it has been so many years now since I have passed this place, it is scary to think that it is almost ten years since we lived in the house.
On my journey home tonight I am listening to an episode of Tank Riot where they are talking about space and as I walk beneath so many stars for the duration of it I cannot think of a better time and place to be listening to it.
When I hit Layer Road there are a couple of chavs wrestling with the snow. In order to head up the road there is no avoiding them and I have to expect a torrent of drunken comments (abuse) but happily as we cross paths we ignore each other.
The final leg of the journey feels the longest. Was Layer Road always this long?
By the time I eventually get home the night (the day) is heading towards to 2AM and I genuinely cannot remember the last time I was out this late. For some reason it feels distinctly festive (the snow) and when I get home it is one of the most relieving moments of 2009.