Monthly Archives: August 2011

lam

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.

Laters, yeah.

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

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medow

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


ryot

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
Now

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


bonee

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