Wednesday 10 March 2010
It would appear that I feel asleep during the trailers on my DVD last night. Now that’s tiredness in action.
Today is Day 100 of the One Hundred Days To Make Me A Better Person project for the London Word Festival. With it comes a sense of excitement and accomplishment coupled with relief that it is now all over. There is a party in Dalston tonight and we indeed shall celebrate.
When I get to the station this morning ticket checks are heavy for some reason. If only National Express East Anglia put as much effort into the actual running of their service as they are squeezing pennies out of their customers today. We can all dream.
The ride up to town is OK today until inevitably somebody decides to sit next to me at Ingatestone. Have I really reached the point/stage now whereby I get offended when people choose to sit next to me? I’m a touchy motherfucker these days.
Eventually the train pulls into Liverpool Street slightly late. This is typical considering I wanted to get into work early today and catch Josie from 100 Days on 6music.
Through some kind of victory though I manage to get over town speedily and wind up being first into the restaurant to deal with the alarms (and an Eastern European gentleman waiting with an alcohol delivery). Happily this is all in time to catch Josie on 6music plugging tonight’s event in Dalston. Unfortunately when she does so it would appear that she doesn’t even appear to know the name of the venue and a person begins to wonder what it is all about.
From here people slowly filter in to begin the day and soon The Girl is complaining about the radio being tuned to 6music. With Josie now gone there seems little point in putting up with her complaints and leaving the station on. It is always strange with this one, she kicks up about what station the radio is tuned to and complains how boring and repetitive Radio One is (fair comment) but whenever I take a day off I always return the following day to find Radio One in place on the radio. Truly I believe she just complains about these things in order to annoy me.
Today the morning turns out to be another aimless one. Around lunchtime the consultant turns up out of the blue and with him proceedings take an explicit turn for the worse. I had been told he wouldn’t be in until tomorrow (Thursday). What is going on with this guy?
In the end thankfully it is not too painful. When it transpires that I have not been alerted to an off balance sheet transaction of half a million he actually appears to sympathise with my cause.
As my boss heads off to watch his daughter play netball not long afterwards the consultant leaves also prompting a huge sigh of relief and a sense of joy to proceedings. In the end the day closes without drama and as a result is a breeze.
Once 5.30PM comes around I find myself slow making moves, I’m paranoid about getting to the place in Dalston early and finding myself a no mates where lots of other 100 Day project types will all know each other.
In the end I head off around 5.50PM aiming for Highbury & Islington with view to getting an overground train to Dalston Kingsland. First however I make a detour to the St Johns Wood Starbucks which unfortunately appears to be going through something of an overnight makeover when I arrive at it. Denied. From here I briefly walk up and down St Johns Wood High Street frantically looking for coffee before throwing in the towel and hitting the tube.
As ever it’s something of an ache going through Kings Cross during the rush. Just when I begin to think that nothing beats the Central Line for travel agony I find myself being reminded of just how rotten Kings Cross can be.
When I eventually get to Highbury & Islington typically I find myself met with an overground service that is not in operation. This is fucking bad.
Confused I head straight to Starbucks with view of getting a comfort drink. That makes sense right?
Eventually after staggering around dizzy for a number of minutes I finish off my venti Caramel Machiatto and board a bus heading towards Hackney Wick. That’s the correct direction right?
On the bus I head upstairs and sit next to some tightly wound girl. As the names of places flash up on the information board it all just serves to confound me. During the brief journey next to me the pikey looking girl begins rolling a cigarette which I guess means I’ll be having to get up for her soon. If you ever want to see a Monk-esqe OCD reaction from me, do this.
Finally I wind up on what I believe is Dalston Junction and Kingsland Street. This is an area nicer than I recall it being. The people walking past me on the streets however appear to be crazy so yes I think I am in the right place. I see a blonde Chinese lady in those shiny leggings (girls are still wearing those?) having an argument with who appears to be her husband and who she promptly takes a child (her child) from. I am ashamed to admit this but when I first spotted her I thought she was on the game. Yes, I fancied her.
Soon I find myself passing the closed Dalston Kingsland train station where the lights appear to pale in comparison to those coming from the KFC and McDonalds in the vicinity.
I find Work Dalston almost by accident. As I pass The Vortex I think I recognise people sat at a table outside and as I slowly approach them soon it becomes evident my vision is failing me. From this I gain the realisation that everyone looks the same in this circle. Luckily I then spot a queue.
Once inside the building the 100 DAYS TO MAKE ME A BETTER PERSON event appears to be kicking off into a crazy scene. The queue indeed did reflect a huge interest and word is that tonight is a sell out.
Immediately I spot JOSIE LONG and head over to say “hi” to her for the first time since last summer’s Answer Me This event. Straight away I drop a bollock by asking, “is there a bar?” just as she suggests that I check out the 100 Days Museum.
From here I indeed step into the museum and it all looks fantastic. Many of the projects I have been following over the past three months are present including my favourites the Laurie Blog and Edward Ross’s 100 Tiny Moments.
On almost an entire wall is spread a wide selection of the various entries over the course of the project. Like the true egotist that I am I go off in search of my own entry and indeed soon find it. As I smile to myself I spot an attractive lady reading it also. There is great temptation to say to her “that Facebook Cull is my contribution/idea” but tactfully I remain modest and silent.
Thankfully Ryan who has been on a self-improvement/press up kick for the project soon joins me and in our way we celebrate our miniscule accomplishments.
Soon the show begins as JOSIE LONG takes to the stage. Early into her introduction she finds herself being heckled by a nine year old who can exhibit some slight middle class display of intelligence. Its funny the first few times she cuts into the JOSIE delivery but soon our apparent leader begins to subtly lose her rag with the kid. Unfortunately it would seem its parents are the owners of the builder or tenants or something.
From here JOSIE does a brief set of her pretend div spiel mentioning her own 100 days vows, pledges and efforts relaying her weird experiences of general niceness and doing things such as approaching strangers in something of an on paper legitimate attempt to better herself. It offers yuks.
After the introduction to proceedings ISY SUTTIE follows with a bright-eyed description of her previous 100 days that come via some doodles on a large canvas containing a small drawing per day. Often her tales suggest she is something of a happy drunkard but its fun all the same which occasionally leads to her performing a song in conjunction.
It has now been literally years since in last saw her perform and now with her Dobby from Peep Show persona it would appear that it is heavily spilling into her act. Which came first? She’s the chicken and the egg.
A couple of times she touches upon events via Facebook (including a song about it) which only serves to make me more feel validated in my choice of pursuit over the past three and a half months.
Shortly after her bit/set some kind of interval gets called as we head back to the bar to freshen up, invariably finding ourselves back at the museum.
After a piss where I fear I may have accidentally flashed some female punters (munters) with my ailing fella, we reconvene around the cool stuff. Slowly Ryan and I begin introducing ourselves to people and thus begins the mini ego ride I had been hoping for from this evening. In the process I meet Eddie Ross who has been producing the amazingly daily comic blog 100 Tiny Moments From My Past, Present And Future. For the event he has brought down with him a number of the pieces of original artwork lovingly and impressively framed in a very stylish manner. His incredibly talent is matched with his friendly personality.
Elsewhere I meet Gemma Seltzer who did the Speak To Strangers blog where she wrote daily 100 word stories about conversations with strangers. We all get are own samples and they are wonderful gifts. When I introduce myself as the guy that did the Facebook Cull she begins asking me various questions about, as if it featured a heavier degree of depth. It’s a gas.
It is at this point I return to collect my certificate for completing my 100 Days project and when I tell the girl which one was mine she tells me that it was one their favourites. All this stuff is cream to my fevered ego.
From here the second half of proceedings begins with a film by ALEX HORNE which features a seamless collection of daily five-second videos of his baby which serves to put everything into perspective. As the baby expresses fresh wonder towards the world around him in his gestures it is a piece of work to make the coldest person broody. Needless to say the baby is gorgeous, all babies are gorgeous, but with this piece of work ALEX HORNE really taps into something beautiful and special.
After the video the night takes a strange turn when SARA PASCOE picks up the baton and proceeds to run through a description of her 100 days of writing letters. Tonight we get treated to the long version of her project as she acts determined to include every letter she sent with lengthy descriptions of who and why. The piece really lacks pace and by the end even JOSIE LONG is making gestures to wrap it up. Being a piece comparable to my own project naturally I see areas of fault where I believe mine succeeded in comparison. Halfway through she breaks down as she explains how her gran passed away and she hadn’t sent her a letter as part of the project and it brings a real humanity to her work but ultimately lacking much of a bite or purpose her read through often feels like an extended meander.
The event closes with a ceremonial cake and a set from THE PICTISH TRAIL who far from being the lame folk singer as advertised/described turns out to be an energised Scottish songwriter who pumps out a stonking selection of thirty second songs in short sharp shots of fun. If Guided By Voices, Wire and the Minuteman have taught us nothing else, it is that half-minute songs can often represent a symphony. Perhaps this is the key to curing music.
As the barrage of tracks continue ADEM joins him for some percussion on anything at his disposal. The song subjects vary greatly but more times than not they are expertly executed, the quality of which allows a person to forgive him not keeping up with producing a song a day for the allotted one hundred. The only gripe I would have is how he failed to make the songs available, instead just streaming them via Myspace. This sadly lets down the DIY ethos of the project.
While the set is occurring out back in the museum Ryan polishes off his final set of press-ups, doing one hundred in front of a small audience and meeting his own goal. In many ways this represents a more worthy project, one that has exhibited more dedication (as opposed to producing/writing 36 songs that haven’t even been made available as MP3s).
With a cheer from the main room suddenly the event comes to a triumphant close as the day/night creeps towards midnight. I have to concede that the event turns out to be something of an anticlimax and disappointment, desperately lacking in the high five spirit that the project had been exuded throughout its course.
After wishing Eddie Ross a safe journey back to Edinburgh I head to the nearest bus stop in the hope of getting back to Liverpool Street and home tonight. Eventually a bus turns up and I escape the clutches of Dalston through Shoreditch until I finally recognise Bishopsgate. Not used to riding buses predictably I get off a stop early, almost getting sliced in half by the closing doors in the process.
By this point Day 100 is officially over. With a wait ahead of me I buy a McDonalds meal, half from hunger, half from celebration.
The train journey home turns out to be as tiring as you would imagine and ultimately sees me getting back around the wrong side of 2AM.
Football season is over.