Monthly Archives: October 2011

neflim

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


barslona

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


spayns

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…


leeon

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