Good day. Hang on, it’s bloody freezing in here, just turn on the heating. Christ it stinks too, bear with, I’ll open a window. That’s marginally better, I guess.
So. Been a while, I know. I’ve been pre-occupied with other things, not had time to post and for the foreseeable future this will be the case, nothing personal, just the way it is.
The reason for this sudden surge of activity is down to various ventures, long gone are the days of sitting wretchedly in my office chair lazily typing nonsense as business drips slowly into my bank account. That aspect of my work-life has changed, these days I can pretty much do all of that shit twice a week and dedicate the other three days to finer things, such as writing about motor powered bikes.
Admittedly it isn’t proving to be particularly lucrative (yet) but it’s going very well and I’ve some rather splendid stuff in the pipeline. And I guess the company I write for like me enough, they’ve just bought me a 750 quid camera for taking snaps to accompany my wordings.
There has been another fundamental change too; I wouldn’t say ‘I’ve grown-up’ but I’m just not feeling the same degree of deranged manic bitterness toward everything and everyone. This is partially down to IC and my present location in the universe -nothing whatsoever to do with my advancing years, I hasten to add (if anything I’m worse in this respect).
Also responsible for this marginal quickening of the step is the aforementioned writing. I went to the Bike Show in Birmingham a couple of weeks ago, in addition to getting paid expenses and, indeed, paid, I had a press pass which meant I could legitimately talk to whomsoever in an official, professional (for want of a better word) capacity. It occurred to me that instead of lamenting the wasted years of doing a job I’d never applied for or enjoyed (after previously pulling myself up by my bootstraps and getting a Masters Degree following a truly pathetic school education and abuse of natural artistic tendencies etc.) I was starting to move on. And it felt alright.
So, what else? The usual routine of going out, enjoying myself with IC, my bro and friends. Nothing out the ordinary save a trip to Italy but that’s fairly common these days, here, I’ll tell you all about it.
On Saturday IC and I got up at some ungodly hour to get the train to Stanstead. As we trundled East and London gave way to marshland I noticed the first real frost of the season, it was a beautiful sunny morning and the aurulent light picked out the ice crystals in the passing grasses and shrubs, fucking lovely, ‘almost a shame to leave the city,’ I screamed down the carriage.
It being a Saturday am, and the only flight of the day to Milan, I was concerned that we’d not be able to sit together on the plane, something I was very keen to avoid after the flight back from Barcelona. Decided it was best to nip to the bar and have a few wines in case, take the edge off it all. Despite the plane being packed we managed to get a double seat next to some misery-guts. IC generously allowed me the window which was fortuitous because it was so clear I could see land/sea/Alps all the way, another wine prevented any worries about crashing in flames or exploding mid-air. Or suffocating at 30,000 feet.
We landed and met Leonardo and his missus who whisked us off to IC’s place in Brescia where we were greeted by the mum and sister-in-law, just in time for lunch. Following this delicious pork and tomato-based intervention, we went out for a walk round the city which was packed with shoppers preparing for Santa Lucia. To the unenlightened, Italians don’t really do the Santa Claus thing; instead they celebrate the martyrdom of Santa Lucia on the 13th December. Unlike Claus she rings a little bell to announce her presence and flies about on a donkey instead of reindeer, like Claus she leaves children presents following the latter’s fervent letters on the eve of the day. But, unlike Claus, Santa Lucia is blind. My pointing out that she can’t read the children’s letters, then, went down like a lead balloon.
It was nice wandering about the town with IC’s family, my family these days, and I felt very much part of proceedings. The wide-eyed days of yore consigned to history as unfamiliarity is no more. Even the language is starting to permeate the grey matter, er, Ciao!
IC and I stopped off for Apperitivo in a favoured bar and returned home for dinner before going back out for a drink in the bar/restaurant closest to IC’s house where we’re friends with the owners, as it happens. The place was half empty so after all the punters had cleared off G&G closed early and we four played cards, smoked, drank, until 2-ish.
I’d been looking forward to Sunday for weeks. Simple plan, avoid church and drive to Sirmione on the shores of Lake Garda (where we had our wedding reception) and enjoy a meal as the guests of the staff who presided over our sickeningly lovely day. This was no empty gesture, the restaurant, next to where we had the time of our lives, is no greasy spoon. It has stars, it’s fucking expensive and the food is astonishingly good, some of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat. It was a splendid afternoon, I didn’t cane the wine as IC was driving -and the last thing she needed on the way home was her English partner rolling round the front seat demanding she pull over in order to relieve his swollen bladder- and the food was better than ever. The roast sucking pig and the tasting dishes (each course is preceded by one) particularly excellent.
Before we returned home the manageress insisted we visit the house she owns with manager husband, bit odd even by Italian standards but a pleasant invitation. The couple are in the process of refurbishment so the place is only half done, nonetheless, it was abundantly clear by the size and contents (to date) these folks have both taste and a lot of money. Professional kitchen, vast living area with vaulted ceiling, glass and chrome staircase, solid marble bathrooms, a sauna room, a fucking pool on the roof… They even invited us over for dinner when we were next in town, and as guests in their restaurant again.
That evening we spent some time with the family before heading back to G&G’s gaff for a drink and, as previously, some cards after-hours. On the Monday we visited the church in which we were wed and popped by the vast mausoleum in which my father-in-law in interred. Pisser I never got to meet him, bit of an Anglophile as it turns out, massive fan of Sherlock Holmes and Alfred Hitchcock which suits me just fine.
After lunch, IC, sis and I went and played cards in a coffee shop and chose a film for the evening. This was tricky, after much prevarication we got ‘Robots’, an animated job that wouldn’t offend mum (strict Catholic, when the Pope’s on TV she calls IC into the room. Also this was the first time we’d been able to sleep together in the house, previously, as unmarried partners, we’d had separate rooms) or send me to sleep. We grabbed some pizza’s from a tried and tested eatery and headed back for the evening, though, of course, we weren’t done until we’d seen G&G before retiring, this time we were joined by Michele, a friend who helped the wedding day go to plan.
Tuesday morning I was awoken by the sound of Santa Lucia’s fucking bell and ushered into the kitchen. I was given a pair of slippers which was splendid as my old shit pair had just split. Following this bit of good fortune we all hopped in the car and headed to the mountains to visit IC’s uncle, auntie and cousin.
To our surprise they’d bought IC and I a hard drive on which they’d copied all the wedding footage, this gesture was warmly received and IC’s Auntie smokes so I didn’t have to suffer the pain of abstinence. Perhaps even better than that, IC’s uncle makes his own Grappa which he insisted I tried. I don’t know what the proof of this stuff was but after one shot glass I could feel its effect coursing through my face. When he asked if I liked it he presented me with a fresh bottle. Happy Santa Lucia!
We had a spot of lunch back home before we were forced to take a bus to the airport, there was just enough time for a wines before boarding and we headed home, tired, sated, chuffed. Marvellous.
Right, that’s it for 2011. I’ll post early New Year unless I feel otherwise. Have a good Christmas break and enjoy New Year. Oh, spare a thought for me on Boxing Day, it’s my 43rd birthday. Forty-three, how the fuck did that happen.
Over to Gerry…
NO. ARTIST SONG TITLE Last Week Weeks On High Pos
30 Jane’s Addiction Irresistable Force 21 12 1
29 Friendly Fires Blue Cassette 28 2 28
28 Twin Atlantic Free NE 1 28
27 The Wombats 1996 19 8 13
26 Young Guns Learn My Lesson NE 1 26
25 Chase & Status Flashing Lights NE 1 25
24 2:54 Scarlet 20 4 19
23 Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds If I Had A Gun NE 1 23
22 Hurts Blood Tears And Gold 16 7 12
21 Snow Patrol This Isn’t Everything You Are 24 4 21
20 Blue October The Feel Again (Stay) 26 2 20
19 Mastodon Curl Of The Burl 13 13 1
18 The Subways It’s A Party 23 3 18
17 Cerebral Ballzy On The Run 14 9 4
16 Bush The Sound Of Winter 11 8 7
15 Adele Rumour Has It 18 3 15
14 The Maccabees Pelican 22 2 14
13 The Kills Baby Says 15 4 13
12 Pulled Apart By Horses VENOM 12 4 12
11 Kaiser Chiefs Kinda Girl You Are 8 6 4
10 Zola Jesus Vessel 9 3 9
9 Band Of Skulls The Devil takes care of his own 5 6 3
8 The Vaccines Wetsuit 10 5 8
7 Kasabian Re-Wired 4 8 2
6 King Blues The Future’s Not What It Used To Be 6 5 6
5 You Me At Six ft Oli Sykes Bite My Tongue 7 5 5
4 Korn Narcissistic Cannibal 17 2 4
3 The Black Keys Lonely Boy 3 5 3
2 The Joy Formidable Cradle 2 5 2
1 Rammstein Mein Land 1 5 1
I’m having another busy week, too busy for this nonsense.
Just enough time for Gerry’s chart, choon, and to inform whomsoever that I fell off my bicycle yesterday evening cycling to (note ‘to’) the pub, right in front of my brother.
I was attempting to mount the pavement when, instead of simply popping the front wheel over the kerb –something I’ve successfully managed thousands of times since I was five- I managed to jam said whorl into the side of the kerb resulting in me upending, rolling a foot or so with my face gurning at the concrete before gravity prevailed and I went crashing down.
My bro looked at me as if it was the most normal thing in the world and said ‘evening dude.’
I’ve a graze on my knee, it feels oddly familiar.
Its IC’s birthday this weekend so I’ll be posting a little more pedantically next week, probably.
NO. ARTIST SONG TITLE Last Week Weeks On High Pos
30 Snow Patrol This Isn’t Everything You Are NE 1 30
29 Airship Algebra 18 7 12
28 The Kooks Junk Of The Heart 27 2 27
27 The Duke Spirit Surrender 16 8 4
26 Deaf Havana I’m A Bore Mostly NE 1 26
25 Modestep To The Stars 28 2 25
24 Arctic Monkeys Suck It And See 17 6 15
23 Cage The Elephant Aberdeen 20 4 20
22 Band Of Skulls The Devil takes care of his own NE 1 22
21 Willy Moon I Wanna Be Your Man 26 2 21
20 Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds AKA What A Life 13 8 7
19 The Wombats 1996 24 3 19
18 Manic Street Preachers This Is The Day 14 5 14
17 Enter Shikari Sssnakepit 10 7 8
16 Red Hot Chili Peppers Monarchy Of Roses 15 3 15
15 Hurts Blood Tears And Gold 22 2 15
14 The Howling Bells Into The Sky 8 8 2
13 I Am Giant And We’ll Defy 9 5 9
12 Bush The Sound Of Winter 19 2 12
11 Birdy People Help The People 11 5 11
10 Nightwish Storytime 12 3 10
9 Delilah Go 21 3 9
8 White Lies The Power And The Glory 6 6 6
7 All The Young Quiet Night In 5 7 4
6 Kaiser Chiefs Kinda Girl You Are NE 1 6
5 Battles ft Gary Numan My Machines 3 7 2
4 Cerebral Ballzy On The Run 4 4 4
3 Kasabian Re-Wired 7 3 3
2 Jane’s Addiction Irresistable Force 1 7 1
1 Mastodon Curl Of The Burl 2 8 1
Sorry this is late…
I’m up to my clock weights in it hence the short posting. Just time for Gerry’s chart and a tune within, and an urge that you all get Breaking Bad by any means necessary. One of the best TV shows ever.
NO. ARTIST SONG TITLE Last Week Weeks On High Pos
30 Cherri Bomb Spin 19 8 8
29 Kate Bush Wild Man 25 3 25
28 Modestep To The Stars NE 1 28
27 The Kooks Junk Of The Heart NE 1 27
26 Willy Moon I Wanna Be Your Man NE 1 26
25 Bombay Bicycle Club Shuffle 17 11 1
24 The Wombats 1996 28 2 24
23 The Horrors I Can See Through You 14 9 3
22 Hurts Blood Tears And Gold NE 1 22
21 Delilah Go 26 2 21
20 Cage The Elephant Aberdeen 22 3 20
19 Bush The Sound Of Winter NE 1 19
18 Airship Algebra 12 6 12
17 Arctic Monkeys Suck It And See 15 5 15
16 The Duke Spirit Surrender 10 7 4
15 Red Hot Chili Peppers Monarchy Of Roses 21 2 15
14 Manic Street Preachers This Is The Day 18 4 14
13 Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds AKA What A Life 9 7 7
12 Nightwish Storybook 16 2 12
11 Birdy People Help The People 13 4 11
10 Enter Shikari Sssnakepit 8 6 8
9 I Am Giant And We’ll Defy 11 4 9
8 The Howling Bells Into The Sky 5 7 2
7 Kasabian Re-Wired 20 2 7
6 White Lies The Power And The Glory 6 5 6
5 All The Young Quiet Night In 4 6 4
4 Cerebral Ballzy On The Run 7 3 4
3 Battles ft Gary Numan My Machines 2 6 2
2 Mastodon Curl Of The Burl 3 7 2
1 Jane’s Addiction Irresistable Force 1 6 1
The Bloody Victoria Line! I cried, sat on the bus to Brixton from Liverpool Street with IC on Saturday night. The Line was closed due to some engineering nonsense so we were forced onto a double decker, creeping slowly over hill and dale, round the houses -all of them, in order to deliver us into the ever-loving arms of SW9.
Finally we alighted and made our way to a pub crammed full of thirty-forty, even fifty something’s, dressed for the most part in black, essentially barring us from any sort of civilised comfort which wasn’t going down well with the Memsaab. I have to say I wasn’t best pleased either, the people were okay and everything but we had to keep moving out of peoples way and… Christ, a seat! There! A FUCKING SEAT!
Instantly the word became an enchanted place again. It wasn’t just one seat we’d bagged but a table for four, two minutes later Gerry appeared with Justin. It was so perfect I could’ve shit gold, instead I ordered another pint.
Gerry had bought us tickets for Fields of The Nephilim and The Mission as a wedding present, which was jolly nice of him. But he knew as well as we that his gift could either be marvellous or just okay. Lately we’ve been disappointed by seeing old bands that’ve come together and made a fist of their history by trying too hard to modernise proceedings leaving the audience bewildered and largely pissed off.
We were all philosophical about this and treated the evening as a chance to catch up with a gig factored in, like. We left the pub with plenty of time to spare for the bands, at least we thought we did, and took the short walk to the Academy which quite literally had a queue going all the way round the block, right back to the entrance. Annoyingly this setback cost us the first song of TFotN, we could hear it as we passed the emergency exit five minutes before making it inside.
We rushed in via the bar and took a half decent spot by the mixing desk. The sound wasn’t great but the band were, in fact they were as good as when I last saw them in 2007. The final song, Last Exit for the Lost was as good, if not better, than when I’d seen them four years ago.
We grabbed a fag and some awful wine in the interval and got back to our spot for The Mission. I have to say, I was more dubious about this than anything, the last time Gerry and I saw them they were a bit, well, shit. Wrong again, admittedly they looked completely different, almost as if they’d accepted mortality, but rattled through the very best of their tunes accompanied by yours truly screeching his fucking head off. I enjoyed every second of it; they even played one of my favourite songs of all time, Wake. Marvellous. Brilliant night, fantastic present, missus and I were as pleased as punch.
I’ve no idea what time arrived home or went to bed but I did know I wanted to be up at 8am for the MotoGP. I woke in time but discovered that the zinging in my neck the previous day was, as I had suspected, the pre-amble to a bloody cold and thought it best rest up for a while. For the first time ever, I decided to watch the whole race later on the i-player.
A few text messages beeped, before I’d a chance to read them I got up and padded into the lounge where IC was doing some such and such on her PC. She asked me how I was before suddenly interrupting herself with a certain sort of ‘oh no’ and looking me directly in the eyes. I instantly figured that something awful had happened in the GP, then I recalled the text messages early Sunday morning. I asked her, and she reluctantly told me. ‘Marco Simoncelli has been killed,’ and I lost it for a good 15 minutes.
Now this may seem like an overreaction, I didn’t know him personally, but that doesn’t matter. I’ve always loved motorcycles (been riding since I was 7) and by default, motorcycle racing. If I had my way I could happily spend the entire weekend sat on my arse watching blokes racing bikes before getting on mine and riding until my bum fell off, but this isn’t the best way to act in a relationship. As a sort of compromise I focus my attentions on the MotoGP, to such an extent I get paid to write about it, not much but a fucks site more than what I get for doing this…
Thing is this. If you grow up loving bike racing you’re inevitably going to have heroes, Barry Sheene is/was mine. This sort of adulation doesn’t go away. For the past few years I’ve been a big fan of Valentino Rossi for his flair, his genius, and more recently MS for the same reason; though he was at the beginning of his career, Rossi is coming to the end of his. Indeed, MS reminded me of Rossi back in the day (they were very close mates –he was involved in the accident that killed him and by his side when he died) he rode old school, aggressive, determined and had a charismatic personality to match. I liked him instantly and he became my out and out favourite. And yes, it felt as if I knew him in an abstracted sort of way, this may have something to do with watching someone on the brink of mortality week in, week out. It’s complicated.
I wanted to see the accident before I watched the live coverage; I didn’t want to sit waiting for it to happen and it was sufficiently awful to cause me to shake uncontrollably for a good hour. This wasn’t just shock but an emotive, empathic reaction, track or not, riding a motorcycle comes with universal risks, mixed up with the tragedy of watching a decent bloke being killed.
Needless to say it didn’t make for nice Sunday and I’m still feeling the repercussions as I write this. Ciao Marco.
A thank you Gerry chart and tune. Thanks Gerry, Therry.
NO. ARTIST SONG TITLE Last Week Weeks On High Pos
30 The Kooks Is It Me? 18 9 10
29 The Big Pink Stay Gold 26 4 26
28 The Wombats 1996 NE 1 28
27 Alice Cooper I’ll Bite Your Face Off 21 3 21
26 Delilah Go NE 1 26
25 Kate Bush Wild Man 30 2 25
24 Brett Anderson Brittle Heart 19 5 19
23 The Subways We Don’t Need Money 16 10 2
22 Cage The Elephant Aberdeen 28 2 22
21 Red Hot Chili Peppers Monarchy Of Roses NE 1 21
20 Kasabian Re-Wired NE 1 20
19 Cherri Bomb Spin 13 7 8
18 Manic Street Preachers This Is The Day 24 3 18
17 Bombay Bicycle Club Shuffle 11 10 1
16 Nightwish Storybook NE 1 16
15 Arctic Monkeys Suck It And See 15 4 15
14 The Horrors I Can See Through You 9 8 3
13 Birdy People Help The People 17 3 13
12 Airship Algebra 12 5 12
11 I Am Giant And We’ll Defy 14 3 11
10 The Duke Spirit Surrender 4 6 4
9 Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds AKA What A Life 7 6 7
8 Enter Shikari Sssnakepit 10 5 8
7 Cerebral Ballzy On The Run 20 2 7
6 White Lies The Power And The Glory 8 4 6
5 The Howling Bells Into The Sky 3 6 2
4 All The Young Quiet Night In 6 4 5
3 Mastodon Curl Of The Burl 5 6 3
2 Battles ft Gary Numan My Machines 2 5 2
1 Jane’s Addiction Irresistable Force 1 5 1
We arrived at Barcelona (or ‘Barcelona’ as Freddie Mercury would’ve said, actually, he’d have loved Sitges the big girls blouse, no offence) at four-ish. We located our hotel near the old part of town, dumped our bags and took the metro to the Sagrada Familia, which was a bit of an anticlimax to be perfectly honest. The Gaudi part was more than acceptable, it’s the new part that’s so awful, it somehow resembles the aesthetic modernity of Milton Keynes made out of piss yellow sand.
Disappointed, we made our way to Las Ramblas (crowded, tourists, corporate) via Gaudi’s famed houses, more of a question box-ticking I’m afraid -don’t get me wrong, I like them but they didn’t have that ‘FUCK!’ factor I was expecting- and arrived in the old part of the city and a bar therein.
This was more like it, up until this point I was feeling a bit disappointed with the Barcelona, especially after having heard so much about it with regard to Madrid, a place I’m both familiar with and fond of. Getting lost in the cool alleyways that snaked and twisted endlessly through the tall, close buildings was just the ticket, at last I found myself being charmed by the city, then beguiled… Oh look! Another bar! Cava please, I mean por favour. And one of those meat things, Stavros.
We had dinner in a tiny seafood restaurant that featured a scaled down version of Picasso’s Guernica on the wall, the staff were very friendly and the food excellent, though I couldn’t help thinking we’d caught them off guard. We were the only two diners in there for the duration of the meal but lots of little blokes kept coming and going, I’m sure there was something going on but we couldn’t have cared less.
After a final snifter in a beautiful little gaff we went back to hotel. IC had managed to get a deal (£50 a night for a four star job close to the centre) but the room, albeit very acceptable, was a bit small with no view to speak of. Still the bathroom was good and the bed comfortable so we were happy.
The following day the weather was particularly hot so we dived back in the alleyways where it was cool and relaxed. We had a few hours to kill before setting off for the airport at four so we allowed ourselves time to eat tapas and have a few farewell glasses of cava which was most agreeable. I decided that I’d only just scratched the surface of Barcelona’s true potential, and that the people in this corner of the world were very nice, I certainly didn’t feel ready to leave.
We made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare, so I was rather alarmed that our flight was called just as I’d ordered some wine from the bar. I popped over to the gate and noticed people were already boarding, yet we still had more than an hour before we were due to depart. IC was very laid back about the whole thing but I wasn’t, the thought of flying stuffed in between a couple of wankers was far from ideal. I insisted we drain our glasses and join the queue which was diminishing from the front and increasing on the end as other passengers started to arrive, reluctantly she agreed, probably sensing the rising panic in my face.
When we finally boarded the plane I was half cut, just as well really because the flight was packed solid, there wasn’t a double seat available so we were forced to separate and sit where we could. In front of me a plump woman in a floral dress suddenly burst into tears.
‘I want to sit with my husband!’ she cried. Behind her in shorts and sawn-off Slayer tee-shirt was yours truly, I decided to comfort her.
‘S’alright love, I wanna sit with my missus but we can’t have everything, sit there…’ I gesticulated generally to a space between a pair of middle-aged real-ale types.
‘You’re not helping!’ She bleated, as if I’d knocked her buritto out her fist, at which point a stewardess approached and very calmly asked me if ‘that was my partner.’
‘Piss off!’ I said, rather loudly I’m afraid (it just came out) which had the duel effect of instantly making the woman sit in the nearest seat, I can only assume I’d offended her into submission, and giving the stewardess a fit of the giggles, to the extent she had to rush down to the end of the plane to contain herself.
As it happens the flight wasn’t too bad, but that was only after taxing about on the runway for half a sodding hour. I could see IC a couple of rows ahead of me which was of enormous comfort and I was nicely arseholed to boot, I even bought another glass of wine for good measure. Fuck Easy Jet, by the way, I’d actually rather Ryan Air, and that’s saying something.
Speaking of Slayer tee shirts, I’ve just taken delivery of my first ever pair of reading glasses, apparently my regular pair are no longer able to cope with my dwindling eyesight when it comes to close-up views. For practical reasons I’ve had to attach my reading glasses onto spectacle keepers, a length of cord that enables you to dangle them off your neck when not in use, the sort of thing old fuckers have. Think Hinge and Bracket if you’re of a certain age. Anyway, they don’t work with the aforementioned attire.
Gerry’s chart, tune et al.
NO. ARTIST SONG TITLE Last Week Weeks On High Pos
30 Kate Bush Wild Man NE 1 30
29 Foo Fighters Arlandria 17 8 11
28 Cage The Elephant Aberdeen NE 1 28
27 Evanescence What You Want 20 6 14
26 The Big Pink Stay Gold 28 3 26
25 Blink 182 Up All Night 15 8 3
24 Manic Street Preachers This Is The Day 30 2 24
23 All The Young Welcome Home 19 16 1
22 The Jezabels Endless Summer 23 3 22
21 Alice Cooper I’ll Bite Your Face Off 24 2 21
20 Cerebral Ballzy On The Run NE 1 20
19 Brett Anderson Brittle Heart 21 4 19
18 The Kooks Is It Me? 12 8 10
17 Birdy People Help The People 26 2 17
16 The Subways We Don’t Need Money 10 9 2
15 Arctic Monkeys Suck It And See 18 3 15
14 I Am Giant And We’ll Defy 22 2 14
13 Cherri Bomb Spin 9 6 8
12 Airship Algebra 16 4 12
11 Bombay Bicycle Club Shuffle 7 9 1
10 Enter Shikari Sssnakepit 14 4 10
9 The Horrors I Can See Through You 5 7 3
8 White Lies The Power And The Glory 13 3 8
7 Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds AKA What A Life 8 5 7
6 All The Young Quiet Night In 11 3 6
5 Mastodon Curl Of The Burl 11 5 5
4 The Duke Spirit Surrender 5 4 4
3 The Howling Bells Into The Sky 2 5 2
2 Battles ft Gary Numan My Machines 3 4 2
1 Jane’s Addiction Irresistable Force 1 4 1
It’s all been a bit hectic, if I’m honest.
The day before we left for Spain I managed to do some office-based work in the am, attend the bloody gym at lunch, get a haircut in Clerkenwell, go on to Oxford street (in order to procure some American-styled Jeans) in the afternoon which left me with over an hour to hang out in a horrific coffee shop before meeting IC at a gallery in West London for a private view in the early evening, if you please… It was quite a posh affair, lots of micro foods and champagne, and, I have to say, the waiting staff were very accommodating. By the time we left a couple of hours later the missus and I were a little bit fucking tipsy don’t you know.
On lunchtime Friday after a fine sleep I met IC at Borough in order to arrive at London Bridge at a prescribed time for the purposes of train travel to Gatwick, travel that would see us board an Easy Jet flight bound for Barcelona, but first IC had to have her bags checked at security for carrying a miniscule tube of some emollient or suchlike, before we hit the bar for food and perhaps a glass of wine, for the nerves of course.
The plane was packed but the journey under an hour and a half so it was acceptable; we arrived at 8pm local time and took a train to Sitges where we were met by Claire and her two year old daughter Lindy, who was sat at the back of the car looking puzzled. First stop was a bar, but not in the usual sense. In addition to booze this place sold side-plates of food, a vast variety of meats, cheeses, pickles, traditional tapas concoctions, all of similar size and all attached to bread by a cocktail stick. It’s a simple concept, you eat what you want, keep the sticks, and they’ll determine how much you ate and therefore how much you pay. Of course, this marvellous system relies on honesty, a few discarded sticks on the street outside and on the floor indicated that not everyone was perhaps being straightforward, but still, do you think this system would work in these emerald isles?
After stuffing my face and a few glasses of Cava we took the short trip to the flat and we were ready to settle into our holiday. Claire is pregnant and her partner, Carl, works nights as a chef in nearby restaurant, so to some extent we were restricted with activity on account of Lindy. This wasn’t an issue though, we were happy to sit around drinking wine, eating, playing with the Lindy and watching kids movies -I saw Rio which I’d never have done under my own steam and I’m glad I did too, excellent stuff. Carl came home after midnight, he and I stayed up for a bit smoking and chatting. He’s a smashing bloke with a very colourful past and makes for excellent company and his grass was fantastic.
The flat was situated in a quiet residential street with a panoramic view of the Mediterranean framed by mountains to the East and West, when we woke in the morning the air was warm, the sky perfectly blue and it seemed frankly rude to not pop by the beach, but a specific one. Sitges is well known for its large gay community which has a reputation for being somewhat uninhibited. Carl informed me that certain beaches in the area, in addition to offering cotton-soft sand, crystal clear water and million mile views, often feature naked men indulging in acts of a sexual nature, to wit, sucking, fucking and spunking up, without so much as a by your leave.
As it was low season the designated beach was relatively un-crowded so we were free to pitch where we wanted, sort of equidistant between water and a bar and hang, so to speak. Carl and I played with Lindy in the sea and then decided to go for a swim. The water wasn’t Mexico-warm but it was more than bearable, the waves were a little pedantic I’m happy to report and it was all a jolly good wheeze. By the time I clawed my sorry ass back onto the beach I was knackered and a bit annoyed that this would be it for me ‘n sea this year. Bollocks.
After a few hours gallivanting we went for a late lunch at a nearby eatery, the meal was to celebrate our recent nuptials, which was bloody nice I must say. The meal kicked off with wine, naturally, and a small tree from which hung a variety of ten or so chorizo sausages recalling the partially torn bodies in Goya’s Disasters of war, if you’ll fucking please. I have to say I went to town on these bastards, by the time my main dish of roast lamb arrived I was already stuffed and, believe me, this was not a good idea.
The plate that was popped under nose contained, I’d say, about a quarter of a lamb. There was enough for four people, easily. I inwardly groaned until I saw Carl’s plate, a t-bone steak the size of a healthy cat, it’d been my second option and suddenly the heap of flesh and bone on my plate seemed more approachable-ish. The sea bass and roasted vegetable medley that had been chosen by IC and Claire were themselves of a robust size, but in comparison to the meat, minuscule.
It was delicious, of course, and I was inspired to eat until on the brink of consciousness. It was fortunate that I had to work my round a number of bones as I was able to hid parts of the dish that if consumed would’ve seen me in hospital. It wasn’t helpful that Carl was insisting I help him with his behemoth steak which was red raw in the middle. It was very good though, how on earth I survived lunch without CPR will remain as one of life’s mysteries.
After lunch Lindy wanted to go outside and play on the swings and slide, the restaurant had them just out the back so the place was full of families cheerily munching away, though perhaps not on our scale. I helped Lindy on and off the slide when it was her turn, some kid of about five decided to jump the queue and shoved Lindy away from the steps as she was about to ascend, so I told him to piss off. His mum wasn’t very impressed, especially when Lindy made friends with the little shit’s sister and decided to hang around Carl and I as we puffed away on our tabs.
We returned to the table which had been furnished with four bottles of lethal liquor, we were told it was on the house and encouraged to help ourselves (turns out Carl knows the manager, which is handy) so we did. Believe it or not I was actually rather restrained, simply because I had no space left in my stomach.
We left at 4 and went back to the flat; unbelievably Carl went off to work while the rest of us took a siesta. We were up by 7 but still feeling odd because of lunch, it was decided we’d spend Saturday night in lazily playing with Lindy and watching Elmo -rock and roll. It was a nice night, I drunk a few litres of water with a tentative glass of Tempranillo and by the time Carl came back I was feeling as if I could fart without the liquid consequences.
On Sunday morning we went back to the beach and sat outside a cafe by the promenade. There was some sort of zombie festival (yes, really) taking place so the place was peppered with stalls selling lots of horror-based gaff. I came very close to spending 25 Euros on a realistic-looking severed head (inverted, dangling tongue, dripping bloody etc) but really couldn’t justify why. I wished I had I hasten to add, just on the odd chance of getting stopped at customs.
We walked by the sea in the sunshine before saying our goodbye’s. It was time to go to Barcelona.
More of this crap next week, I seemed to have mislaid Gerry’s chart too, bear with me…
On Saturday morning, IC ushered me onto the train for Liverpool Street and bought some tickets for somewhere, or other, once we’d arrived. I was having a surprise, I was informed.
It was already too hot and I was feeling lazy, I wasn’t overwhelmed at the prospect of having to walk to Fenchurch Street when she discovered that the train to wherever didn’t depart from Liverpool street at the weekend. I put on a brave face.
We took a pleasant stroll through the city; it was as if some Hollywood virus had removed the usual clamour of people, leaving the buildings and streets devoid of content in anticipation of shoe leather and gossip, a kind of explosante-fixe if you’ll pardon me.
We arrived at Fenchurch Street after a fifteen minute meander, very picturesque, clean, and boarded the 11.20 to Southend via Leigh-on-Sea, our destination. I was rather chuffed, especially after learning it was only a fifty minutes trip and IC had bought some Prosecco for the outward journey.
You would be forgiven if you assumed the train was stuffed full of people with similar intentions, after all it was unseasonally hot, sunny, and the weekend. On the contrary the train was gloriously empty, surprisingly comfortable, which made the journey a pleasure.
We arrived at lunchtime and walked the short distance down to the front which overlooked the estuary that reached out into the channel. The little street that ran behind the small collection of sea-facing pubs and seafood restaurants was pretty with a quaint, timeless, aspect, but we were more interested in the food/drink deal in the sunshine.
Despite the weather and location Leigh on Sea was busy but not rammed packed; we found a table outside (for example) and got to work. There was a nice pervading atmosphere, families, couples, no gangs of arseholes, we ordered drinks and a platter of fresh seafood and soaked it all up. Bloody lovely.
The afternoon rolled lazily on by, we watched the tide come in over the estuary, grounded boats were slowly righted and the sun began to head West. By now we were merrily pissed and at five, full, decided to head home. We shot back through Essex and the East end and arrived where we’d started a few hours previously, the sun was still making itself known so thought it best to round off the day with a final pint at the local, itself solid with punters, and home for a film and some easy food.
Sunday, still very not, a bit too much to be honest, so we hung around the flat following a spot of shopping gasping and in my case, moaning. At 3 my bro popped by and we all headed off to Paul’s gaff who’d invited a few of us over for a Barbeque on his roof. Thankfully there was some shade so I could enjoy the rest of my day stuffing meat and beer into my face without the risk of my brain broiling in my skull. My bro popped back to the flat with IC and I after we’d filled and we watched a couple of Come Dine’s etc., before launching into another Curb Your Enthusiasm session –they get better and better, do it.
I’ve had a busy week with office shit and writing, but plenty of time to relax, of course. I’d go into more detail but I’m off to Barcelona with the missus in about an hour so must fly (Christ, literally.)
First, Gerry’s chart and a tune, er, Ole!
NO. ARTIST SONG TITLE Last Week Weeks On High Pos
30 The Big Pink Stay Gold NE 1 30
29 Bring Me The Horizon It Never Ends 22 9 5
28 The Strokes Macchu Picchu 18 9 5
27 The Jezabels Endless Summer NE 1 27
26 Marina And The Diamonds Radioactive 27 3 26
25 Kasabian Switchblade Smiles 20 10 2
24 Brett Anderson Brittle Heart 29 2 24
23 Arctic Monkeys Suck It And See NE 1 23
22 White Lies The Power And The Glory NE 1 22
21 Kasabian Days Are Forgotten 13 7 5
20 Airship Algebra 26 2 20
19 Snow Patrol Called Out In The Dark 16 5 16
18 The Vaccines Norgaard 10 10 3
17 Enter Shikari Sssnakepit 23 2 17
16 Evanescence What You Want 14 4 14
15 Mastodon Curl Of The Burl 19 3 15
14 Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds AKA What A Life 17 3 14
13 Foo Fighters Arlandria 12 6 11
12 All The Young Welcome Home 7 14 1
11 All The Young Quiet Night In 21 2 11
10 The Kooks Is It Me? 11 6 10
9 Blink 182 Up All Night 5 6 3
8 Cherri Bomb Spin 8 4 8
7 Battles ft Gary Numan My Machines 15 2 7
6 The Subways We Don’t Need Money 4 7 2
5 The Duke Spirit Surrender 9 3 5
4 Bombay Bicycle Club Shuffle 1 7 1
3 The Horrors I Can See Through You 3 5 3
2 The Howling Bells Into The Sky 2 3 2
1 Janes Addiction Irresistible Force 6 2 1
It’s been a hectic few weeks, hence the lack of postings lately.
The weekend before last I met my bro in Angel after a long journey from Chichester, where I’d spent a superb weekend working (details available next week on request, they’re not for here). I was damp from a drenching earlier in the afternoon, knackered out from all the walking I’d undertaken but still keen to see off the weekend with a self-congratulatory pint. After a couple of beers and a tiny plate of smoked salmon and ‘leaves’ (six fucking quid) I lazily made my way home and, most unlike me these days, took a hot bath to reset myself.
Monday and Tuesday were manic. In addition to the work resulting from the weekend excursion, I also had to see to my more regular blathering. It was intense, hard work, but also very rewarding. It feels good to get paid for writing stuff and due to positive feedback and more readers than I expected (about 5000 an hour) more is in the pipeline, not enough to give up the office-stuff just yet I hasten to add, but it’s all coming on nicely.
It also helped fill the gap left by IC’s trip to Italy, the same trip that I was forced to spurn in favour of the weekend job. By the time she returned Tuesday evening I was ahead of the game, dinner in the oven, flat cleaner than a surgeons digit and just plain happy to have her home in one piece.
The following day I went to the office (on the Triumph, which is now running again. The breakdown, dad discovered, was due to a wire that had fallen off the kill-switch A single bloody wire caused all that hassle.) She’s still pissing out oil but the quantity isn’t too worrying and she’s running beautifully, so for the time being I’m happy…
I didn’t stay there long, just enough time to get a few things done then back on the Triumph home. I can’t begin to tell you what a difference it makes, it’s not just the having-to-face-public-transport gig –a protracted, uncomfortable and expensive affair- it’s the sheer joy of riding her again.
On Saturday IC and I took the train to my sisters gaff in Surrey, we were supposed to meet my bro en route but he’d had a bit of a significant Friday evening and spent most of Saturday morning throwing up his toenails.
My youngest niece is two so we were there to do the whole cake/toys thing. The afternoon rolled-on cheerfully, IC, my parents, sister and bro-in-law, dividing our time between the garden and lounge depending on where the shrieking kids were playing. At six my parents took the kids off to spend the night with them leaving us four, then five when my pasty faced sibling suddenly made an appearance, for some wine and eventually, Chinese food from the local takeaway.
I wasn’t sure about this stuff, it was okay but not a patch on Vietnamese food to which I’d become accustomed. In places it was delicious then it got overly greasy and sweet when it needn’t have. Mind you, I stuffed myself full, we inadvertently ordered piles of it and I’m sure there was enough left over to keep my sis and family full for the rest of the week.
After arriving home, which took a bloody age, IC and I were about to call it a day when we stumbled upon Straw Dogs on the tellybox. After a load of warnings from some doom-laden voiceover before it began, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, while slightly flawed, it was so gripping I’d gladly allow myself to be repeatedly hit over the head with a shovel in order to forget it so that I may enjoy it over. Depressingly I’ve been informed it’s to be re-made.
Sunday was a day of rest, a spot of time in the pub, some comfort food, a few Come Dine with Me’s before a film, then bed in good time for bloody Monday.
I had a drizzling ride into work but I wasn’t fussed, I was more bothered by what a shocking waste of time it was when I got there, nice ride home though and on the way I was inspired enough to make dinner for IC and I in the evening.
Tuesday was the first day of this weird post-summer weather that we’re bathing in now. Everyone seems to be in a state of shock over it… Come on! It’s still September, it’s not an Indian Summer by any stretch of the imagination, for a start that so-called phenomena only occurs following the first frost and secondly ‘Indian Summer’ is an American term. The European term, and therefore the correct one, is ‘St. Martin’s Day Summer.’ Either way, we’re not having either of them and it’s too hot.
In the evening IC and I went out for dinner at a favourite near-by eatery in order to celebrate a calendar event. I had the pork belly, IC the haddock; both were excellent, the small potions belying their sufficiency. The walk back to the flat was undertaken in bloated satisfaction.
I chose to go to the office on Wednesday; it was a bit too hot for the Triumph who let me know her feelings by running lumpily and offing a more than generous portion of oil to the concrete when we stopped. Still, better than the pissy tube and accompanying trains.
I saw my bro in the evening at the local, we sat outside in the dark with our pints discussing his job and the characters he works with, one of whom is the son of an eminent film director. Apparently this chap is pleasant enough but he’s inclined to fart deadly clouds of gas in confined spaces, he also has a mild tick causing him to repeat ‘do you get me?’ in street-slang. My bro and I discovered it’s highly addictive and we’ve both found ourselves doing it, at first for amusement but it’s easy for it to just pop up, most peculiar.
Thursday evening I met up with Pete and Kate in (another) local, this one renowned for its excellent ales. Nice evening with a sensible finish at home with IC and the latest season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’s refreshing stuff in so far as it’s actually funny, in places brilliant, and shows that our American cousins do have a sense of humour if you dig around.
Right, time to go back to complaining about this fucking heat. Here’s Gerry’s chart, a fantastic tune from some old favourites and a cloud of noxious gas, do you get me?
NO. ARTIST SONG TITLE Last Week Weeks On High Pos
30 Cults Go Outside 20 5 17
29 Brett Anderson Brittle Heart NE 1 29
28 The Drums Money 21 5 21
27 Marina And The Diamonds Radioactive 28 2 27
26 Airship Algebra NE 1 26
25 Florence And The Machine What The Water Gave Me 22 4 22
24 The Wombats Our Perfect Disease 15 7 13
23 Enter Shikari Sssnakepit NE 1 23
22 Bring Me The Horizon It Never Ends 14 8 5
21 All The Young Quiet Night In NE 1 21
20 Kasabian Switchblade Smiles 12 9 2
19 Mastodon Curl Of The Burl 23 2 19
18 The Strokes Macchu Picchu 9 8 5
17 Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds AKA What A Life 25 2 17
16 Snow Patrol Called Out In The Dark 18 4 16
15 Battles ft Gary Numan My Machines NE 1 15
14 Evanescence What You Want 17 3 14
13 Kasabian Days Are Forgotten 7 6 5
12 Foo Fighters Arlandria 11 5 11
11 The Kooks Is It Me? 13 5 11
10 The Vaccines Norgaard 5 9 3
9 The Duke Spirit Surrender 16 2 9
8 Cherri Bomb Spin 10 3 8
7 All The Young Welcome Home 4 13 1
6 Janes Addiction Irresistable Force NE 1 6
5 Blink 182 Up All Night 3 5 3
4 The Subways We Don’t Need Money…… 2 6 2
3 The Horrors I Can See Through You 6 4 3
2 The Howling Bells Into The Sky 8 2 2
1 Bombay Bicycle Club Shuffle 1 6 1
On a beautiful September afternoon, just after lunch, the Triumph rumbled back into life. I’d spent Monday re-assembling the chaincase with dad and was about to launch into the ether when the bike stalled and we discovered that one of the carb rubbers had perished (causing an air leak). My heart sank, but at least it wasn’t a big deal, more rubbers were ordered and by Wednesday, had arrived.
On Wednesday, another unexpectedly glorious day, the bike eventually started. It should have started first kick but took a few minutes of pounding at the kickstart. Putting this down to the accepted characteristics of a British-built machine over thirty years old I was happy to confidently set off when it fired. And by Christ did we set off. The engine was peachy and responsive; indeed, it hadn’t run like this in a decade.
We flew down the A3, my intention was to pop by the office before pointing the bike Eastwards for home, but something wasn’t right. As I approached my destination round lunchtime, in a corner of South London too close to my old flat for comfort, the engine started to get fluffy and it stalled at a junction. It started again but it still wasn’t happy, when it stalled again I knew something was seriously wrong.
I spent a good ten minutes leaping up and down on the kickstart until I was literally drenched in sweat. It was no good; there wasn’t even a hint of life, so I prepared myself for a long wait after calling the breakdown unit. I parked the bike off the gridlocked road in full gaze of the static occupants, who seemed to be relishing my efforts with some self-satisfied glee, and retrieved my phone and the number I had printed on a card in my wallet.
It was then I discovered my phone was dead.
Of course, these days, unless you live in the sticks, there is more chance of finding a WMD than a phone box, working or otherwise. My heart sunk to my Doc’s, what to do?
Across the road I noticed a newsagent stuffed full of school kids buying crisps and porn, for a split second I figured there was a solution in buying a phone card for the phone box that didn’t exist, until I realised it wasn’t the 80’s and I was boiling hot. I wandered up the road for a bit and happened upon a pub.
I entered and sheepishly asked the worn-out bar man if there was a phone, of course not, but he agreed to lend me the pub one. I thanked him, ordered a coke, called the breakdown unit and after much sweating and puffing (I was still in my gear and weighed down by helmets, rucksacks and tools) I finally arranged for a pick up, ‘in the next 90 minutes’.
The bar man said I could use the pub phone number as a contact number for the unit when they arrived, so I figured I’d sit in the boozer until they called. Despite having solved the immediate problem I was still immensely pissed off, I didn’t even have a phone to check stuff in the office (let alone tell them I wouldn’t be in) more annoyingly the time-killing Angry Birds was out of my reach. Some degree of solace lay in the book I’m currently reading (god help me, Bill Bryson, but his ‘At Home’ is highly recommended) and the coke was a bonus after all the efforts employed trying to start the sodding bike.
I literally peeled off my jacket; my t-shirt was wringing wet, when the cool air hit it I sighed with relief. I arranged my accessories and sat down to read, drink, pass the time… A quick glance round the pub was enough to inform that this wasn’t a happy place. The shabby bar man leant over the bar cradling his chin in his hand, eyes glazed over a handful of middle-aged men sat alone staring into pints of lager or the flat-screen TV featuring a sport of some kind near the Gents.
I was just about to return to my book when I accidentally met the ping-pong eyes of a piss-pot sat a few feet away from my table. Before I had a chance to look away he suddenly started on me, ‘You looking at fucking cuntface, you cuntface?’ And then he said again, only this time a bit louder with an additional ‘f’ word and a troubling amount of animation.
That’s me, then, I thought. I wasn’t going to spend five minutes, let alone an hour and a half, in the company of some special needs case who’d taken a disliking to my having been born, with patently nothing whatsoever to lose. I sighed, drained my drink, picked up my gear and, before telling the barman where I was when the breakdown unit called, left them to it.
I walked out into the sunshine and sat by my bike on a wall with my back to the traffic, now slowly moving. It occurred to me that this would inevitable delay the rescue unit. ‘Bollocks’ I shouted.
I spent over two hours sat there, occasionally I’d try and start the bike, go over obvious signs of fault but a lack of tools prevented any real progress. The battery was charged, tank was full and as we hadn’t disturbed the timing or carburetion logically that had to be ruled out too. Fuck knows. I passed the hours getting increasingly frustrated, hot and bored. Finally, at the end of a queue of traffic I saw the unit, which promptly u-turned and disappeared down a side street. I grabbed my stuff and ran after it and, following a sprint of some note, managed to catch it up.
The bike was pondered over by the driver/mechanic, I curtly advised him not to touch it, just take us back to my folks and the garage full of necessary tools. This took an hour as by now it was rush hour, I then had to get home from there, another two crawled by as I was cheerlessly packed and stuffed into a variety of trains and tubes.
I was a little livid ball of fuck-off when I finally got home, with just enough time to push bread and cheese into my gob and meet my bro at the pub at 8 for a well deserved pint. It took me a while to unwind, and the silly cunt in the beer garden wasn’t helping either. We went indoors to escape her loud lectures on the why’s and wherefores of her horrific sex-life, later on one of her crew (the big-nosed arsehole had already annoyed me by not saying ‘thank you’ when I let him pass through a narrow gangway) dropped a tray of his/their drinks in the middle of the pub. Made my night that did.
Tonight I meet IC in town; she’s taking me out for dinner which is marvellous. She’s off to Italy in the morning leaving me to my own devices for a few days. Can’t say I’m thrilled at the prospect but it’s my own doing. I have a job this weekend which I am both dreading and excited about in equal measure. I’m afraid this entails an enormous amount of work next week so it’s likely they’ll be no Piqued…
Gerry’s chart, a tune (though not from the chart this week, I fancy something more insane) and I’ll be back soon yeah. Cheerio.
NO. ARTIST SONG TITLE Last Week Weeks On High Pos
30 Baxter Dury Claire 24 7 14
29 The Horrors Still Life 20 15 1
28 You Me At Six Loverboy 30 3 28
27 Cerebral Ballzy Cutting Class 21 8 7
26 The Fixers Swimhaus Johannesburg 23 5 23
25 Florence And The Machine What The Water Gave Me 29 2 25
24 Red Hot Chili Peppers ……..Rain Dance Maggie 18 8 14
23 Evanescence What You Want NE 1 23
22 She Wants Revenge Must Be The One 15 8 6
21 The Drums Money 22 3 21
20 Kids In Glass Houses Animal 16 7 16
19 Snow Patrol Called Out In The Dark 25 2 19
18 Mona Shooting The Moon 12 8 4
17 Cults Go Outside 19 3 17
16 The Kooks Is It Me? 26 3 16
15 Cherri Bomb Spin NE 1 15
14 The Blackout The Storm 10 6 7
13 The Wombats Our Perfect Disease 13 5 13
12 Japanese Voyeurs Cry Baby 9 7 2
11 Foo Fighters Arlandria 11 4 11
10 The Horrors I Can See Through You 17 2 10
9 Bring Me The Horizon It Never Ends 6 6 5
8 Kasabian Switchblade Smiles 4 7 2
7 Blink 182 Up All Night 14 3 7
6 The Strokes Macchu Picchu 5 6 5
5 Kasabian Days Are Forgotten 8 4 5
4 The Vaccines Norgaard 3 7 3
3 The Subways We Don’t Need Money…… 7 4 3
2 All The Young Welcome Home 1 11 1
1 Bombay Bicycle Club Shuffle 2 4 1
The Triumph has been sat quietly in my dad’s garage, chaincase off, clutch out, waiting for its drive sprocket to be removed in order to attend to the oil seal in the gear box that, until its cessation, has been pissing transmission fluid all over London.
Said oil seal, about the size of a basic-range ginger nut, is supposed to fit tightly into the gear box casing, not flop out like a dead dog’s tongue when touched. Nor is the casing from which it has flopped have parallel score marks that could cost literally thousands of pounds to repair.
So far, so good, then.
Tomorrow, after having glued in a new oil seal with Araldite (yes, really) I’ll re-assemble the cited components and pray it’s worked. Then, hopefully, the only time you’ll hear mention of my bike will be as a result of a wonderful ride rather than yet another thing dropping off.
It’s not just motorcycles that have been making my life difficult/unfulfilled, bicycles haven’t been on my recent list of ‘yay’s’ lately either, not since the one I bought in the spring got stolen the night after I brought it home. The monster I’d been using up until this point -and by default, after- I’d purchased some five years ago and I despised it with its wanky peddles and lack of engine. It’s one of those mountain bike things, sprung forks, knobbly tyres, the bicycle equivalent of a Mitsubishi Shogun, and despite being of reasonable quality it’s a relative dinosaur when compared to the current crop of razor-wheeled singles that populate this part of that there London.
Not that I care, a bicycle is a means to an end for me. I use it three times a week to get to the gym for the sole purpose of preventing my spine from coming off. IC, on the other hand enjoys this peddling lark, she uses hers every day to cycle into the city and has been vocal in her keenness to involve me in going on bikerides. I have, of course, contemptuously spurned this idea.
A few weeks ago I was about to clamber aboard my dishevelled velocipede when I noticed that my rear tyre was flat. I shouted some rude words into the ether, fucking cunts, I think it was, and retrieved my bicycle pump from the flat. For weeks after, before I darkened the doors of the gym, I had to spend a minute or two pumping up my rear tyre. It’s not as if attending the gym is easy in the first instance, factor in the addition pumping, and the fact I hate cycling anyway, it’s a miracle I’m not bumbling about Hackney in a mobility scooter.
A handful of days ago I decided enough was enough. I briefly considered taking my bike to a repair shop but that would’ve been an unnecessary expense, fixing bicycles is easier than farting. I just couldn’t be arsed to do it. Reluctantly I ordered a new inner tube (I thought it wise to get a fresh one, the current, flat, incarnation hasn’t been changed in half a decade) and then decided that whilst I was about, why not fit more suitable tyres as well. The knobbly ones, aside from being about as practical as Stephen Hawking’s trampoline, were virtually worn to the carcass. I was certain you could get more road-friendly mountain bike tyres so after a quick search ordered a pair in my size.
On Friday afternoon I left the office with my recently delivered orders and set off home to fit my new purchases. I brought the bike into the flat, turned it upside down and set to work. As anticipated it was a very straightforward affair, half an hour later I had a new rear inner tube and a pair of knobble-free tyres.
With a good hour before I was due to meet IC (in the pub) I took it on myself to give the bike a bit of a clean, remove the surface rust, get the grunge and muck out of the derailleur, even adjust the brakes. I found myself rather enjoying the whole process; unlike the Triumph matters are resolved relatively quickly and your achievements are feedback to you instantly. By the time I tuned the bike upright and wheeled it into the sunshine my relationship with it had altered somewhat.
First off it felt like a new bicycle and secondly, peddling towards the pub, it felt smooth, easy and, Christ on a bike, actually fun. Sort-of. Would’ve thought eh?
Before I leave you with Gerry’s chart and a tune, I was fortunate enough to catch Tim Minchin at the Greenwich Comedy Festival (quick thanks to the operators of the DLR who, on our return excursion, left hundreds of us literally dangling over Canary Wharf for almost a fucking hour). I have to say I wasn’t expecting what I got, for a start his act is truly hilarious (largely because it’s darker than Burzum) and he’s single handedly restored my faith in the whole comedian-with-instruments deal.
NO. ARTIST SONG TITLE Last Week Weeks On High Pos
30 You Me At Six Loverboy 30 2 30
29 Florence And The Machine What The Water Gave Me NE 1 29
28 Black Keys Howlin’ For You 21 5 15
27 Two Door Cinema Club Undercover Martyn 20 7 7
26 The Kooks Is It Me? 29 2 26
25 Snow Patrol Called Out In The Dark NE 1 25
24 Baxter Dury Claire 18 6 14
23 The Fixers Swimhaus Johannesburg 24 4 23
22 The Drums Money 27 2 22
21 Cerebral Ballzy Cutting Class 16 7 7
20 The Horrors Still Life 12 14 1
19 Cults Go Outside 25 2 19
18 Red Hot Chili Peppers ……..Rain Dance Maggie 14 7 14
17 The Horrors I Can See Through You NE 1 17
16 Kids In Glass Houses Animal 19 6 16
15 She Wants Revenge Must Be The One 9 7 6
14 Blink 182 Up All Night 22 2 14
13 The Wombats Our Perfect Disease 15 4 13
12 Mona Shooting The Moon 6 7 4
11 Foo Fighters Arlandria 17 3 11
10 The Blackout The Storm 7 5 7
9 Japanese Voyeurs Cry Baby 4 6 2
8 Kasabian Days Are Forgotten 13 3 8
7 The Subways We Don’t Need Money…… 10 3 7
6 Bring Me The Horizon It Never Ends 5 5 5
5 The Strokes Macchu Picchu 8 5 5
4 Kasabian Switchblade Smiles 2 6 2
3 The Vaccines Norgaard 3 6 3
2 Bombay Bicycle Club Shuffle 11 3 2
1 All The Young Welcome Home 1 10 1
I met IC on Friday evening in the pissing, pissing rain by Liverpool street station. We bust our way through the busy Tesco in order to glean some food for the journey ahead and some wine for the same reason, boarded the train and set off.
Regarding my comments a few weeks ago about trains and how they’ve improved blah, blah. I take it all back to the point of deleting said post and doing a steaming fat shit on the very idea. The thing we took to Ipswich -and, believe me, you need all the help you can when you’ve that waiting for you- was a disgrace. Even the wine and Upper Crust ham salad did little to take the edge of it. And the train was choc-full-o-cunts.
After a miserable hour we arrived at the ‘Switch but there was worse to come. If I thought the train we’d alighted was bad, the fucking thing we boarded to Beccles (Norfolk) was Hitler mothering his dog. This object was diesel powered and moved like granddad on a Sunday afternoon going for a drive over Scafell Pike, in addition it was so bumpy I was being physically ejected from my seat every two seconds for a full thirty minutes. Apart from inviting grave spinal problems the perpetual up and down-ness wasn’t helping my constitution, if it hadn’t stopped fifteen minutes before meeting Eugene at Beccles station I would’ve greeted him by screaming at his hips and vomiting over his shoes.
Instead I greeted him like a gentleman and he whisked us back to his pile in the sparsely populated hamlet where he dwells. For the second time in a month we were greeted by fine country architecture, lots of space, outbuildings (filled with all manner of toys and delights –that sounds dubious, I can assure you it’s not. It both hobby and business based) in the rich gardens in which to potter. And deafening silence save the odd passing car.
It was nine-ish by the time we settled down with his missus for freshly smoked fish (delicious to the extreme) cheeses and bread, and perhaps a spot of wine. By eleven-ish I was cunted, which wasn’t altogether my fault. I’d not been feeling right all day, neither had IC, and the following morning confirmed we both had fucking colds.
After a breakfast of kippers Eugene took us off in his car for a tour over the Norfolk Broads and we stopped off by the seaside to play the penny arcade on the pier. I manage to bag whole 12p on penny drop/drawer thingy, which I then recklessly blew. We spent a good hour on the pier, most of it on the machines therein rather than looking forlornly out to sea.
After lunch we visited Norwich, a place now so synonymous with Alan Partridge it was hard to resist screaming ‘Ah Ha!’ at shopkeepers and pedestrians. In some ways Norwich is locked in a sort of time bubble, in addition to a feast of ancient buildings it retains a sense of ‘Englishness’ that is almost disquieting. Put it this way, the word ‘multicultural’ doesn’t feature anywhere. Still, it’s very pretty and historically speaking fascinating; this aspect was helped along by Eugene who, since moving East, has acquired a vast knowledge of the city’s past.
We finished off at Norwich cathedral to admire the stained glass, fading frescos, ceiling bosses (some which seemed as far away from God as I) and a right nice rood screen an’ all, phwaor. Slightly more irksome were first hand encounters of stone statues that had been vandalised by that pus-faced prick Cromwell and his army of reformers. Twat.
Before we set off home we had a pint in a pub reputed to be the oldest in England. It was very pretty and the Adnams, a local ale, was spot on. By now IC and I weren’t feeling too clever but, after we returned back to base camp, mustered enough energy to walk a country mile from Eugene’s place to a marvellous restaurant in the village where we ate and drank handsomely. The walk back, undertaken in pitch black on a grass verge flanked by countryside and a virtually empty road, was both precarious and hilarious. The evening ending with Eugene and I sampling an excellent single malt and catching up on past times.
IC and I woke Sunday with the cold-thing in full swing. We had a lazy breakfast before being taken to the station and saying a fond farewell to our excellent hosts. The fucking bumpy train was worse than before and seemed to take an age, we then had to get a bus to the next station, change to a slightly more contemporary train, get yet another bus to the arsehole end of the Underground from where we traipsed home. Took over four bloody hours and by now we were both pike-ill. Still, it was more than worth the effort.
I’ve finally managed to clear my desk of all the office-based drivel that’s been making my weekdays a stressful misery. Since February this year I’ve been forced to meet a succession of ludicrous deadlines that have left me out of pocket and exasperated beyond compare. It’s not even as if I like the fucking work which makes stressing about it both pointless and humiliating.
But I’m not entirely stupid, there is a reason why I’ve not jacked it in, it does allow me space to do other things, and ‘other things’ seem to be starting to come together, or at least, are facing in the right direction. Unfortunately these enigmatic otherthings require time and effort as well, but it’s stuff I actually enjoy, the sort of stuff that requires me to write this shit for no money, or readers for that matter.
Chart/tune Ah Ha!
NO. ARTIST SONG TITLE Last Week Weeks On High Pos
30 You Me At Six Loverboy NE 1 30
29 The Kooks Is It Me? NE 1 29
28 Skindred ft Jacoby Shaddix Warning 17 9 3
27 The Drums Money NE 1 27
26 Hard-Fi Fire In The House 24 3 24
25 Cults Go Outside NE 1 25
24 The Fixers Swimhaus Johannesburg 26 3 24
23 Machine Head Locust 13 7 3
22 Blink 182 Up All Night NE 1 22
21 Black Keys Howlin’ For You 15 4 15
20 Two Door Cinema Club Undercover Martyn 10 6 7
19 Kids In Glass Houses Animal 21 5 19
18 Baxter Dury Claire 14 5 14
17 Foo Fighters Arlandria 22 2 17
16 Cerebral Ballzy Cutting Class 11 6 7
15 The Wombats Our Perfect Disease 18 3 15
14 Red Hot Chili Peppers ……..Rain Dance Maggie 16 6 14
13 Kasabian Days Are Forgotten 25 2 13
12 The Horrors Still Life 8 13 1
11 Bombay Bicycle Club Shuffle 28 2 11
10 The Subways We Don’t Need Money…… 19 2 10
9 She Wants Revenge Must Be The One 6 6 6
8 The Strokes Macchu Picchu 12 4 8
7 The Blackout The Storm 9 5 7
6 Mona Shooting The Moon 4 6 4
5 Bring Me The Horizon It Never Ends 7 4 5
4 Japanese Voyeurs Cry Baby 3 5 2
3 The Vaccines Norgaard 5 5 3
2 Kasabian Switchblade Smiles 2 5 2
1 All The Young Welcome Home 1 9 1
On Saturday lunchtime, following a horrific shopping experience in the big Tesco in Hackney –which featured open swearing- and a waddle home with too much stuff, IC went out again to collect a shoulder of lamb from the Turkish shop near the gym. She prepared it with garlic, rosemary, salt (name that tune, as it were) and wine, left it to marinade and at three pm slammed it in the oven.
That afternoon the delicious cooking odours became almost intolerable, I paced about the flat with my mouth micturating saliva with one eye on the clock. At sevenish my bro and Mary showed up and the lamb was released from its enclosure and left to rest on the side as I fixed up some roast potatoes and IC dealt with the starter of scallops and pancetta.
There was no earthly reason why we were going to all this trouble, in fact, IC doesn’t even eat meat, it was just we fancied having a big slap up meal with some friends and wine, of course. Following the excellent starter my bro carved the lamb which I’d already had the pleasure to sample, it was giggle-good. In fact it took all of my strength to not chuck it on the floor and eat it with my fucking teeth, pausing only to growl at approaching, and probably very concerned, dear ones.
For someone who hasn’t eaten meat in well over a decade IC has an almost savant understanding of how to select, prepare and cook the stuff. It was softer than a French Fancy with more flavour than that dick from Public Enemy, best of all there was loads of it, and enough leftovers for a private growl during the week (well Monday, when I nearly broke my jaw trying to get as much of it into my gob as possible.)
Speaking of the week, as I did just there, workwise it’s been beyond awful. I seem to be going from one disaster to another, in addition to it being an utter waste of time (time that would be better spent writing) it’s expensive traipsing to and from the office –something I’m required to do on yet another bloody deadline- just to go sit in a cauldron of stress and worry. On the other hand it’s been a busy week of socialising and hanging out with her indoors, so it’s sort of made up for it in one respect. Trouble is that I’m worryingly skint, my day to day business has been shite and I’ve not financially recovered from the matrimonial delights of May. To add insult to injury the Triumph is off the road, this oil-leak issue still hasn’t been addressed and I’ve had no time to look at it because of fucking work. The only consolation is that the weather has been so dreadful it wouldn’t have been much fun riding it in the first pace, but still, bollocks.
I maintain optimistic mind you, actually, fuck that, I don’t.
Right, shortly off to Norfolk to see Eugene and his missus. Doubtless it’ll rain all weekend but I’ve been promised smoked fish, ales, wines and a go on one of the big-eared boys he keeps tethered out back.
Here’s Gerry’s chart (incidentally, the Cerebral Ballsy track I played off his chart last week has led to a mild obsession, check their vids on you tube, marvellous stuff –reminds me of the wonderful Minor Threat) and a timely if just-about-carried-it-off tune from therein.
NO. ARTIST SONG TITLE Last Week Weeks On High Pos
30 Limp Bizkit Gold Cobra 17 7 12
29 We Are The Ocean Runaway 22 6 17
28 Bombay Bicycle Club Shuffle NE 1 28
27 Arctic Monkeys The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala 20 5 13
26 The Fixers Swimhaus Johannesburg 28 2 26
25 Kasabian Days Are Forgotten NE 1 25
24 Hard-Fi Fire In The House 30 2 24
23 The Joy Formidable A Heavy Abacus 15 7 6
22 Foo Fighters Arlandria NE 1 22
21 Kids In Glass Houses Animal 24 4 21
20 Nero Promises 16 8 12
19 The Subways We Don’t Need Money To Have A Good Time NE 1 19
18 The Wombats Our Perfect Disease 26 2 18
17 Skindred ft Jacoby Shaddix Warning 12 8 3
16 Red Hot Chili Peppers ……..Rain Dance Maggie 18 5 16
15 Black Keys Howlin’ For You 19 3 15
14 Baxter Dury Claire 14 4 14
13 Machine Head Locust 6 6 3
12 The Strokes Macchu Picchu 23 3 12
11 Cerebral Ballzy Cutting Class 8 5 7
10 Two Door Cinema Club Undercover Martyn 7 5 7
9 The Blackout The Storm 10 4 9
8 The Horrors Still Life 4 12 1
7 Bring Me The Horizon It Never Ends 11 3 7
6 She Wants Revenge Must Be The One 9 5 6
5 The Vaccines Norgaard 13 4 5
4 Mona Shooting The Moon 5 5 4
3 Japanese Voyeurs Cry Baby 2 4 2
2 Kasabian Switchblade Smiles 3 4 2
1 All The Young Welcome Home 1 8 1
I met IC at Euston at six thirty; we grabbed some food and wine from a shop inside the station complex and boarded the train for Shropshire. In spite of all the criticism directed at public transport I’ve noticed that the newer trains that leave London and the home counties are fast, comfortable and, for the most part, reliable. They’re also ludicrously expensive, it would be cheaper to get to Italy and back and still have change for Aperitivo.
On the train we played cards, ate supermarket sandwiches and drank the bottle of Cava we’d bought. After an hour or so we changed trains at Birmingham, the local turd we boarded was a far cry from the swish affair we’d taken from London and it came free with screaming kids.
We arrived at Oswestry at nine thirty and were met by Jack in his fucking Range Rover if you please. Apart from our wedding I’d only ever seen Jack in London in various bars and clubs so seeing him in a different context was intriguing, if not altogether surprising.
Jack’s parents recently died and he and his brother have inherited their farm and all the land, all four hundred acres of it -they quite literally own all you can see from the farmhouse- complete with cattle, sheep and horses and necessary stables, barns and yards to cope with it all. Shame it borders on Wales but you can’t have everything in this life, right kids.
After a Postman Pat drive through winding lanes we arrived at the Farm house and settled down for the evening with Neil, Jack’s partner and had a toast to celebrate the fact it was Friday and we were on the right side of Wales.
IC and I woke quite early, not sure if this was because we’d had a relatively early night or whether it was because we were in strange surroundings, either way, everyone else was already busy doing stuff. As IC and I took a leisurely breakfast people in welly’s would occasionally appear in the kitchen, smoke a fag, drink tea over the paper and leave to go about their business, or whatever. At eleven IC, Jack, Neil and I went for a long walk over hill and dale. The scenery was breathtaking, every conceivable shade of green under an ever changing sky that boiled with white cloud as we walked the land, drifted through meadows and passed by the old canal where we happened across a pub at lunchtime.
It was a lovely old place, no fucking about, tiled floor, roof beams, few horseshoes and a bar. And some reprehensibly dreadful local ‘art’ on the walls, it was actually infuriating it was so awful. We settled down with some Cava and I ordered shoe leather and rancid butter in ciabatta with a side-order of mushy salad and some crisps. Quite probably one of the most revolting things I’ve had in my mouth save a drop of contaminated piss that flew out of an old lady’s burst catheter when I was an auxiliary nurse. Bit shocking when you consider the bucolic location and all the fresh produce therein.
We took a leisurely walk back and relaxed in the lounge. At four we went onto the roof, via the scaffolding in situ for repairs to our location, and had a little vodka tonic before climbing back down to get changed (-ish) and taking a cab to a restaurant in the town a few miles away.
This meal was a country mile away from the boot heel I had for lunch, we shared a few starters of whitebait and crab and I opted for the chicken mushroom pie for main. Simple but spot on, IC, Jack and Neil seemed to be getting on well with their respective choices too. The food was good enough to forgive the state of the nouveau riche venue. Massive, massive menus too, no idea why.
We took a cab back, all of us a little flimsy, and had some more drinks, even a bit of a dance, back at the farmhouse. It was a lovely evening, though a bit bizarre being outside the confines of our home and plonked in the middle of nowhere at all. Before we turned in we stood outside and watched the clouds float round the moon in perfect silence.
On Sunday we woke and jumped in Jack’s Land Rover to take some feed to the horse in one of the top fields. Jack’s trusty little dog ran behind the Rover for almost half a mile before climbing in the back, at one point he was running alongside the vehicle and I was genuinely worried he was going to go off pop under one of the wheels. Rick then took us on a drive round the country roads and through some villages that were as far from Hackney as I am from the lord.
Before we took the train we visited a pub by the river in Oswestry, for the first time that weekend it suddenly got very hot. It was a beautiful spot and we were sorry to leave. We repeated the food/drink order on the train home and continued with another hand of cards, time slipped effortlessly by.
We went home via our local and arrived home at seven feeling knackered and wondering where the bloody weekend went. That’s always the downside of going away I find…
On Monday I wrote my Moto GP column (would love to share but it’s published under my actual name and I get paid for it so never the twain shall meet) which is going so well I’ve got some other work out of it. Sadly this will affect Piqued for a week or two but as no one is reading this tripe anymore it’s no bother.
That evening I met up with Mark in The Worlds End, Camden, to prepare for an evening with pop-combo The Suicidal Tendencies. Mark had accompanied me to Sonisphere last month and we were expecting Andy, the second mate who came along, to attend this evening’s musical offing, but sadly he was forced to remain at work. Mark and I had a couple in TWE then moved on to a bar by The Electric Ballroom before going in.
As expected the place was rammed with huge blokes (it’s odd how a band with large men will have a similar audience, put it this way, I wouldn’t fancy going to a Bowling for Soup gig) and after grabbing some refreshments at the bar the band kicked off with one of my favourite songs and half the front of the stalls turned upside down in a maelstrom of mosh.
Great band, great gig, and funny in places too. Mark and I slipped off before the very end as we’re not in the twinkle of youth and didn’t fancy the crushing journey home. I was back at a reasonable hour and hoarsely described the evening to my patient wife whose quiet evening I’d bundled into.
You know the score… Turn it up.
NO. ARTIST SONG TITLE Last Week Weeks On High Pos
30 Hard-Fi Fire In The House NE 1 30
29 Birdy Shelter 24 4 21
28 The Fixers Swimhaus Johannesburg NE 1 28
27 Elbow Lippy Kids 29 2 27
26 The Wombats Our Perfect Disease NE 1 26
25 White Lies Holy Ghost 16 10 2
24 Kids In Glass Houses Animal 21 3 24
23 The Strokes Macchu Picchu 28 2 23
22 We Are The Ocean Runaway 17 5 17
21 Cults Abducted 12 8 4
20 Arctic Monkeys The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala 15 4 13
19 Black Keys Howlin’ For You 23 2 19
18 Red Hot Chili Peppers ……..Rain Dance Maggie 26 4 18
17 Limp Bizkit Gold Cobra 13 6 12
16 Nero Promises 22 7 12
15 The Joy Formidable A Heavy Abacus 9 6 6
14 Baxter Dury Claire 18 3 14
13 The Vaccines Norgaard 20 3 13
12 Skindred ft Jacoby Shaddix Warning 6 7 3
11 Bring Me The Horizon It Never Ends 19 2 11
10 The Blackout The Storm 14 3 10
9 She Wants Revenge Must Be The One 10 4 9
8 Cerebral Ballzy Cutting Class 7 4 7
7 Two Door Cinema Club Undercover Martyn 11 4 7
6 Machine Head Locust 4 5 3
5 Mona Shooting The Moon 8 4 5
4 The Horrors Still Life 2 11 1
3 Kasabian Switchblade Smiles 5 3 3
2 Japanese Voyeurs Cry Baby 3 3 2
1 All The Young Welcome Home 1 7 1
There was a funny atmosphere in Hackney on Monday when I rode in from a dreadful day in the office. An uncanny stillness on the streets punctuated by pockets of people gathering in various points close to both of Hackney’s main stations and up towards the gym close to my old flat.
I parked the bike and wondered down to the local Tesco to get some bum fodder and a couple of onions. There were about forty people outside Hackney Downs, double the amount I’d seen thirty minutes early and Tesco was in the process of shutting the steel blinds over its window. For that tight fisted bunch of pariahs to close early signified a definite change in the atmosphere. It was then I noticed two low-flying helicopters –not an uncommon sight in Hackney per se- but their close proximity was slightly alarming, especially so close to our flat.
By the time I got back to the flat it was clear things weren’t right, there were now three Police Helicopters hovering, a fourth higher up (turned out it was the BBC) and sirens coming and going in every direction.
My priority was IC who’d yet to set off from work, she didn’t want me to collect her so I suggested she deviate from her normal route and to absolutely not come home via the gym, especially as I’d had reports from friends that trouble had already started in that area, a two minute stroll from the balcony on which I was perched. IC arrived home at six; fortunately her journey had circumnavigated the trouble which had now taken its fist tentative steps towards a balls-out riot.
The Helicopters were now so low I could virtually grab hold of them, one in particular suddenly changed direction got so close I saw the pilot’s grimly determined face and felt the blast of air from the rotor, in the near distance I could see people running down the road with covered faces carrying stuff. I went to the front of the flat and saw the same thing. Less than a quarter of a mile away black smoke began billowing from two equidistant points in either direction and over the sound of the helicopters I could hear yelling and banging. It’s worth noting that I felt quite safe, we were on the third floor and our front door is strong enough, but I was very concerned for my motorbike parked in the communal courtyard, and to a much lesser extent, my bicycle.
We were joined by Rick who’d only just moved into our block, his girlfriend was away and he wanted to be with friends during the trouble. Calls came in from other friends checking we were safe and reporting on their circumstances, Paul whose flat is on Narrow Way, one of the epicentres of aggro, had moved out to his girlfriends flat in Stoke Newington as he feared for his safety. We later learned his flat was robbed.
On the corner the BBC were reporting right outside our old flat, inside were Patty and Mary who had a bird’s eye view of Clarence Road which was full of smoke, flames and people chucking debris at the waiting riot police. Both were very scared as access to their flat would’ve been a simple kick to the door that faced the violence. Rick and I decided to go and get them but we were told the road to the building was sealed off and our mission was aborted.
It was an odd sensation watching events on the news taking place in one’s own back yard, the TV made familiar places visited on a daily basis unimaginable. The sound from the screen being heard in real time from the window was positively eerie. Inevitably the chaos began to settle, looters and troublemakers began to disperse and finally the police were in a position to gingerly take action, up until this point the sheer scale of the rioting had prevented any intervention.
At around eleven it was clear that the worst was over. Rick left for home and IC and I pondered on what had just happened. I think we were both in state of mild shock, both of us positively depressed that we’d been witness to such shocking events but I have to admit, it was all rather exciting too.
Of course, now we’re being subjected to all the why’s and wherefores of the event by both sides of the media and flabby faced politicians who were on holiday when the trouble was in full swing. And if you’re expecting an opinion from me with regards to the cause you’re going to be disappointed. This has been on the cards for a long time and what just happened needed the merest of sparks to set it off. The fact is, it did happen, and instead of finger pointing and making casual threats in the direction of the perpetrators we need to learn more about why these people felt justified in smashing up theirs and my community.
On Tuesday I decided not to go into the office so I sent a pithy email to my colleagues stating that I wouldn’t be in case things kicked off again and that I had a load of trainers for sale, all sizes, all brands. Five minutes after I sent it a colleague, in all seriousness, called me to ask what I had to sell.
The atmosphere in Hackney has been odd since. Tesco remained shut (which annoyed me almost as much as the riots. When a Tesco opens local grocery business’s suffer, sometimes fatally, in short, they kill communities, and just when said community need them, the fuckers are cowering behind steel shutters) and the gym shut at lunchtime just as I was leaving as further trouble was rumoured. At least the trip there and back gave me chance to see the aftermath first hand, a miserable sight if ever there was one. On Tuesday evening Hackney was extraordinarily quiet, busses and trains empty and for all intense and purposes the streets deserted.
It was a little more business-as-usual on Wednesday, my bro and I ventured to our local which was unharmed and pleasantly full. On the walk home at eleven I was annoyed to find myself feeling vulnerable, I’ve never felt that in Hackney before and I hope I never do again.
For me these lyrics perfectly describe the nature of a riot, they’re intelligent, succinct and the tune is mind blowing. The video, Gerry’s chart and a tune from within to follow. Play safe.
Rioting—the unbeatable high
Adrenalin shoots your nerves to the sky
Everyone knows this town is gonna blow
And it’s all gonna blow right now….
Now you can smash all the windows that you want
All you really need are some friends and a rock
Throwing a brick never felt so damn good
Smash more glass
Scream with a laugh
And wallow with the crowds
Watch them kicking peoples’ ass
But you get to the place
Where the real slavedrivers live
It’s walled off by the riot squad
Aiming guns right at your head
So you turn right around
And play right into their hands
And set your own neighbourhood
Burning to the ground instead
Riot—the unbeatable high
Riot—shoots your nerves to the sky
Riot—playing into their hands
Tomorrow you’re homeless
Tonight it’s a blast
Get your kicks in quick
They’re callin’ the national guard
Now could be your only chance
To torch a police car
Climb the roof, kick the siren in
And jump and yelp for joy
Quickly—dive back in the crowd
Slip away, now don’t get caught
Let’s loot the spiffy hi-fi store
Grab as much as you can hold
Pray your full arms don’t fall off
Here comes the owner with a gun
The barricades spring up from nowhere
Cops in helmets line the lines
Shotguns prod into your bellies
The trigger fingers want an excuse
The raging mob has lost its nerve
There’s more of us but who goes first
No one dares to cross the line
The cops know that they’ve won
It’s all over but not quite
The pigs have just begun to fight
They club your heads, kick your teeth
Police can riot all that they please
Tomorrow you’re homeless
Tonight it’s a blast
NO. ARTIST SONG TITLE Last Week Weeks On High Pos
30 Motorhead I Know How To Die 18 10 6
29 Elbow Lippy Kids NE 1 29
28 The Strokes Macchu Picchu NE 1 28
27 Grinderman Mickey Mouse…….. 17 5 11
26 Red Hot Chili Peppers ……..Rain Dance Maggie 30 3 26
25 Enter Shikari Quelle Surprise 15 6 8
24 Birdy Shelter 21 3 21
23 Black Keys Howlin’ For You NE 1 23
22 Nero Promises 16 6 12
21 Kids In Glass Houses Animal 27 2 21
20 The Vaccines Norgaard 28 2 20
19 Bring Me The Horizon It Never Ends NE 1 19
18 Baxter Dury Claire 23 2 18
17 We Are The Ocean Runaway 19 4 17
16 White Lies Holy Ghost 11 9 2
15 Arctic Monkeys The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala 13 3 13
14 The Blackout The Storm 25 2 14
13 Limp Bizkit Gold Cobra 12 5 12
12 Cults Abducted 7 7 4
11 Two Door Cinema Club Undercover Martyn 20 3 11
10 She Wants Revenge Must Be The One 14 3 10
9 The Joy Formidable A Heavy Abacus 6 5 6
8 Mona Shooting The Moon 9 3 8
7 Cerebral Ballzy Cutting Class 10 3 7
6 Skindred ft Jacoby Shaddix Warning 4 6 3
5 Kasabian Switchblade Smiles 8 2 5
4 Machine Head Locust 3 4 3
3 Japanese Voyeurs Cry Baby 5 2 3
2 The Horrors Still Life 2 10 1
1 All The Young Welcome Home 1 6 1
The 1976 Triumph Bonneville is finally running. It’s taken me and my old man over three bloody months of hard work and tinkering to get the bugger started and on Tuesday it passed its MOT, just.
I’ve spent a couple of days over the past twelve or so week traipsing to Surrey from Hackney (a good two hours each way) for the pleasure of skinning my knuckles, rifling through tools and hearing my dad fart the doors off the garage. We’ve rebuilt the top end, changed the clutch and gearing and sorted out an electrical problem that was finally resolved when we discovered the new battery was fucked.
Funny things MOT’s. In theory the bike was sound, brakes/lights/horn all work but the pipes aren’t legal due to noise regulations and it has an oil leak, of course. Nothing spectacular but pedantry would’ve seen a fail. The fact it’s a classic bike and my enthusiastic explanation of all the work done might have helped scrape it through… that and the fact one of the mechanics is an old school friend may have helped as well. Not that I knew this when I went to the designated garage in question.
It’s very disconcerting meeting a person you’ve not seen in over twenty-five years, last time I saw this bloke we were sixteen. There I was chatting to the MOT bloke when this man in his early forties approached me with a smile and uttered my name. I quite literally stepped back feeling all confused and weird until quite suddenly his name dropped into my mouth and was cautiously delivered.
The next twenty minutes were pleasantly peculiar. We ran through a list of school friends/enemies, many of whom I’d not even thought about since leaving that fucking institution and he updated me on their progress, or not as the case may be. What was strangest of all is that a lot of the people I went to school with still lived, or had returned, to where they grew up. One of the buggers, a lad I recall as dishevelled and perpetually drooling, retired at thirty-two after making a killing on the stock market.
Fifteen minutes later the MOT bloke sheepishly appeared and explained to me that the brakes needed work; he then nodded at the pipes and told me he hadn’t bothered starting it. Then he wrote me a certificate and after saying goodbye to my school friend I blasted off into the ether.
Despite the oil leak (s), which will be resolved on an ad hoc basis, to the uninitiated it’s indescribable to explain what it feels like to go from having no bike to a bike, especially when one has been riding for over thirty years. And it’s not just any old bugger either, it’s a classic machine that looks and sounds beautiful. It may not be as fast as other bikes I’ve owned but it’s just as rewarding.
Chart, tune etc. (the video is intently annoying on account of the lead singer who misses the whole coquettish, cutesy thing by a country mile… and as for smashing up your equipment, Jesus. I thought the Butthole Surfers killed that one off when they came on stage and smashed up their gear before playing)
NO. ARTIST SONG TITLE Last Week Weeks On High Pos
30 Red Hot Chili Peppers ……..Rain Dance Maggie 30 2 30
29 Miles Kane Inhaler 15 7 4
28 The Vaccines Norgaard NE 1 28
27 Kids In Glass Houses Animal NE 1 27
26 Maverick Sabre Let Me Go 29 2 26
25 The Blackout The Flood NE 1 25
24 King Blues I Want You 14 7 10
23 Baxter Dury Claire NE 1 23
22 Japanese Popstars Joshua 10 6 8
21 Birdy Shelter 25 2 21
20 Two Door Cinema Club Undercover Martyn RE 2 20
19 We Are The Ocean Runaway 22 2 19
18 Motorhead I Know How To Die 7 9 6
17 Grinderman Mickey Mouse…….. 13 4 11
16 Nero Promises 12 5 12
15 Enter Shikari Quelle Surprise 8 5 8
14 She Wants Revenge Must Be The One 21 2 14
13 Arctic Monkeys The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala 18 2 13
12 Limp Bizkit Gold Cobra 13 4 12
11 White Lies Holy Ghost 6 8 2
10 Cerebral Ballzy Cutting Class 24 2 10
9 Mona Shooting The Moon 16 2 9
8 Kasabian Switchblade Smiles NE 1 8
7 Cults Abducted 5 6 4
6 The Joy Formidable A Heavy Abacus 9 4 6
5 Japanese Voyeurs Cry Baby NE 1 5
4 Skindred Warning 3 5 3
3 Machine Head Locust 4 3 3
2 The Horrors Still Life 2 9 1
1 All The Young Welcome Home 1 5 1
It’s been a funny old week newswise, as it were.
At the end of last week we were still being spoon fed news on this phone hacking business, a vaguely interesting story that was hyped into the stratosphere of life and death by the sorts of crude hyperbolic and hypocritical journalism that lead to the press bounding over boundaries in the first place. Just as it got a bit more interesting following Murdoch’s school-play trial, the part where our very own cunt-faced PM’s name began to appear alongside the protagonists, the story fizzled out and as far as I can see, it’s business as usual.
Putting everything into context last weekend came the news from Norway regarding the bombing and killing of dozens of innocent people by, allegedly, some far-right penoid. Unlike the phone hacking scandal, people died, lots of them, allowing aforementioned news item to do the same. The situation in Norway dominated the news, and rightly so. It was one of those situations that manage to combine astonishment, disgust and intrigue all in one vicious package.
Then came the news that Amy Winehouse had died and the phone hacking story seemed further away than ever, almost as if it had never happened. All those loose ends left dangling in the ether, the unanswered questions regarding Murdoch’s son’s lies, the meeting with our PM at Downing Street (via the back door) days after the election, his friendship and associations with editors and journalists. A few cops resign… then fuck all.
It may be worth noting, if you’re in any doubt that Murdoch is alive , kicking and carrying on as if he’s merely had to sit forward and brush a fly off his chip supper, then it’s worth noting Saturday’s headline.
“Al Qaeda” MASSACRE: NORWAY’S 9/11
For crying out loud.
As for Amy Winehouse, The Sun’s ex-bread and butter, today we’re informed that stopping drinking killed her. That remains to be seen but the point is that Murdoch, despite everything, is still in the business of making shit up with impunity, without evidence.
Absolutely nothing has changed.
Here’s Gerry’s oddly listed chart with a tune on the floor.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie
Let Me Go
One Big Family
Future Starts Slow
We Are The Ocean
She Wants Revenge
Must Be The One
Time For You To Stand Up
Bring Me The Horizon
Blessed With A Curse
The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala
Shooting The Moon
I Want You
Mickey Mouse And The Goodbye Man
The Joy Formidable
A Heavy Abacus
I Know How To Die
Skindred ft Jacoby Shaddix
All The Young
Last Friday week I met up with Mark and Andy in a restaurant near Kings Cross. We ordered some wine and some food and discussed heavy metal in dulcet, nay academic tones. We three acknowledged its importance in our lives, even now as adults approaching middle age. We talked of growing up with it and how enormously important our music was to us, how this connection to the music and the bands seemed to mark us out differently.
The hair has gone, jobs have arrived, families established. But it doesn’t stop the love. By the time we three left for the train we’d bonded, in metal. Even if Mark was wearing brown corduroys and a cagoule.
A short walk to Kings Cross then a balls-out sprint to catch the train, through a busy concourse, up some steps, onto the platform and into the rammed carriage just as the doors was closing. Thirty minutes later we were at Stevenage where we alighted and waited for a coach to take us to the festival site.
Here we waited, waited in a stagnant queue of a good thousand people in a huge parking lot by the station, until we three decided the hour long walk to the venue would be preferable. We rambled in the direction of our destination which had been helpfully signposted, we were all feeling sluggish from the wine consumed at lunch and rain loomed angrily over us occasionally giving way to sprinkles of rain. The early weather forecast didn’t bode well for the afternoon either. We trudged on.
We arrived at the outskirts of the site then made our way to the gate through tents and campervans. Suddenly I got the whiff of times past at Reading and I began to regret we’d not decided to stay for the full three days. After another half hour and a bundle at the ticket-check we finally made it into the inner sanctum.
We’d been too late for Diamond Head (bit of a shame, seminal band) but were in time for Anthrax who opened just as we’d got tangled up in an enormous scrum for the bar. We’d decided to get six pints and three shorts the latter we’d do on the spot. We all arrived at the bar at the same time, I got the shots, they were distributed and sunk, then handed a pair of pints which I raised over my head in order to get out of the crowd waiting to get served.
I’d been expecting beer but there had been a cock-up with the order so instead we had cider. Not too bad actually, after a pint I decided it was rather good. Andy said it was better anyway because it’s better when it gets warm. The second went down nicely with Anthrax (sans Scott Ian, annoyingly) pulling off an exuberant set. Before Megadeth came on we went back to bar and repeated our order.
By now we were all in excellent cheer having a lovely time, and ‘Deth were superb too, in fact it’s lead to a renewed interest in them (I bought Dave Mustaine’s biog last week, it’s jolly good). I thought it’d be a good time to get out my little bag of drugs which we all dabbed at with impunity, the whole lot was gone in a minute and we all started to rush our faces off. We got some more booze but due to excesses were forced to navigate as a three, Mark led, Andy held onto his shoulders and I in turn did the same to him. It was the only way. After taking another leak and furnishing ourselves with cider we made it safely back to our spot. Then Slayer came on.
The opening of Raining Blood shot electricity into my head, I think my smile was so wide that you could’ve seen it from behind. I was also rather wasted by this point and utterly lost myself in the set, I didn’t jump about or swing my brain, I just let it inside and gave it some space to explode. Sublime.
By the time they finished I was a mess. We took the three person train to get some more booze as darkness fell, all of us giggling like actual idiots. At some point round eight Metallica came on, I don’t have much memory of this save being a bit jostled and trying to remain upright. I’ve no idea how long they’d been playing but quite soon into the set my fucking back went with an internal ‘pop’ and down I went.
You know who your mates are at times like this. I was utterly incapacitated, so much so I started to straighten up (unfortunately not literally) as the internal emergency services took over. Mark and Alex abandoned Metallica in favour of literally dragging me out of the arena. For this I’m eternally grateful.
After a long drag we managed to find a cab on the perimeter of the site to get us to the station. The cabbie thought I was fucked (I was) and wasn’t too happy about having me in his car until I informed him I had a perforated disc and off we went.
We boarded the train to London; it occurred to me that I’d called on two mates to cut short their day in front of the biggest (if not best) metal band on the globe to help me out.
Can’t imagine the same sort allegiance exists between fans of Take That.
Ladies and gentlemen.
We arrived at the restaurant just after lunchtime, the place was decked out with lilies, roses and immaculate staff waiting to fill glasses and proffer mouth-gargling hors d’ouvres that sat on a tables groaning with food, one featuring a parmesan cheese the size of a lorry wheel. The last of the guests arrived and we mingled on the deck in the heat and acid-bright sunlight. I still have this overriding memory of looking over the lake as blinding white-light exploded off the water surface before turning to IC, friends, family, as they swirled about each other clinking glasses and enthusing about the venue, the food. Us.
We called the guests in for the speeches, the English version first followed by the Italian translation which sounds a lot more awkward that it was. My brother’s and IC’s speeches nearly finished me off, the former was flattering, funny in addition to being emotive, and my sister-in-law spoke perfectly for my new wife (my turn has been previously documented and the less said about that the better.)
IC and I had planned the table seating but, apart from the speeches, guests were free to mingle, hang out on the decking, sit as they pleased (I’m not sure how the staff coped when it came to serving the food but they did). Being the main attraction IC and I got served first but more often than not we were elsewhere and had to be advised when our food was placed on the table. It may be worth pointing out that the wine was flowing like tap water and it wasn’t your typical 3.99 bottle from Tesco’s either.
The food itself was ludicrously good, there were about seven courses and due to all the excitement I can only recall much of it as delighted bad language, save the lamb ravioli. I took time out to savour this, it was sensational to the very extremes of this planet we call Earth.
The afternoon seemed to zip past; perception of time can be a cruel mistress. The three minute journey in a concrete-packed stinking tube between Liverpool Street and Bank seems to last for a weekend, yet occasions of unadulterated joy occur at some point between a snap of the fingers.
Later in the afternoon, after much revelry, the wedding cake was wheeled onto the decking. It was enormous, the bottom tier the size of an inflatable ring with the smaller top tier reaching to my shoulders and all the gubbins on top dwarfing us both. IC and I awkwardly plunged the knife into the middle of the cake to much applause and, from the staff, laughter. Some ‘icing’ broke away and I automatically stuffed it into my mouth and crunched it down. No one had told me that only the top two tiers were in fact cake, the plaster of Paris I’d just eaten most certainly wasn’t.
When the sky changed from azure to violet, the silver on the water became shimmering gold. IC and I took some time out to sit together on our own and take it all in. By now it was time for the first dance, a distinctly unstable but heartfelt reaction to ‘I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You’ by Elvis. Some of the older guests said their goodbyes leaving us younger-types *ahem* to see off the evening by the lake, now softly dark with lights glittering in the far distance.
My wife and I stayed until about nine o clock before getting a lift to our hotel. A bottle of champagne awaited us; it was opened on the balcony and down it went. Fucking lovely.
I’ll leave you with Gerry’s chart and a tune from within.
Good after the noon.
NO. ARTIST SONG TITLE Last Week Weeks On High Pos
30 Foster The People Pumped Up Kicks NE 1 30
29 Blondie Mother 24 3 24
28 The Wombats Techno Fan 19 8 16
27 Beady Eye Beat Goes On 29 2 27
26 Chase And Status ft Tinie Tempah Hitz 28 3 26
25 The Joy Formidable A Heavy Abacus NE 1 25
24 Frankie + The Heartstrings That Postcard 18 7 12
23 Arcade Fire Speaking In Tongues 27 3 23
22 Nero Promises 30 2 22
21 Adele Set Fire To The Rain 16 10 3
20 Martin Solveig ft Kele Ready 2 Go 14 7 8
19 Limp Bizkit Gold Cobra NE 1 19
18 Twin Atlantic Time For You To Stand Up 21 2 18
17 Grinderman Mickey Mouse And The Goodbye Man 26 2 17
16 Avenged Sevenfold So Far Away 13 4 11
15 Airship Kids 17 3 15
14 Enter Shikari Quelle Surprise 20 2 14
13 Kaiser Chiefs Little Shocks 10 6 5
12 The Kills Future Starts Slow 11 6 10
11 King Blues I Want You 15 4 11
10 Japanese Popstars ft Tom Smith Joshua 12 3 10
9 Bring Me The Horizon Blessed With A Curse 6 11 1
8 Foo Fighters Walk 5 9 4
7 Miles Kane Inhaler 4 4 4
6 Motorhead I Know How To Die 8 6 6
5 Cults Abducted 9 3 5
4 White Lies Holy Ghost 2 5 2
3 Skindred ft Jacoby Shaddix Warning 7 2 3
2 The Horrors Still Life 1 6 1
1 All The Young Welcome Home 3 2 1