Archive for July, 1904

PJ Harvey and a long weekend

On Thursday I went to see PJ Harvey at Brixton Academy and she was FANTASTIC! An excellent set with 2 encores and songs ranging from very old to very new. It annoys me when people play their entire new album and nothing more; Polly however played songs I had nearly forgotten about!! LOVE that lady, she is back in September at Hammersmith Apollo I recommend that people go!
As I took Thursday off work to go to the gig I felt the need to take Friday off also to ensure I could drink and stay up late and have fun without worrying about my responsibilities whilst at P.J. However my 4-day weekend has not consisted of much, I went up to Canary Wharf and round Oxford Street but that’s about it.
On Sunday I decided I needed to spend some money and so bought these fantastic books:
Brick Lane By Monica Ali which I have been dying to read for ages.
The Coma by Alex Garland. This is the guy who wrote The Beach and the screenplay to 28 Days Later, also The Tesseract which is less well known but also fantastic.
Brooklyn is a guidebook as next time I go to NY I want to explore there. Hopefully this should be soon as my friend recently moved to Manhattan (bitch!).
I also bought about 10 others as I got a little carried away. I love Borders on Oxford Street it is huge and I could spend a whole day just browsing the books.
I recommend: “Life in the Triangle”, Ritzy Cinema Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW2 1JG. July 10th – July 31st.
” ‘Life in the Triangle’ is a fresh and original collection of photographs taken by young residents of three estates in Brixton collectively known as the Moorlands Triangle…..’ ”
The end, amen

Sign o’ the times

Plan, schedule, phone, sort, discard, pack, load, drive, unload, lunch, carry, pay, unpack, unsort, chase, liaise, argue, home, eat, telly, sleep.
The day after moving office from Camden to Chiswick, I decide exploring the area can wait.
Because today I just want to pop out to get a fresh sandwich from a proper sandwich shop.
I take the sprawling Hogarth Roundabout’s subway to emerge facing south. Leaving the bustling carriageways behind me, I stroll past the local Fullers brewery and within seconds feel miles away from the city. A leafy village lane with 16th century cottages, dominated by the old church, weaves the few hundred yards down to the Thames. This far downstream, water’s much calmer with swans and moorhen completing the picture postcard scene. Beautiful, but not a sandwich shop in sight.
Crossing back under the subway, I walk up Devonshire Road, past boarded-up shops and a couple of pubs, but resist the temptation for a pint. Besides which, I don’t want to eat in, I want to take-away.
Reaching the High Road, I ignore my groaning stomach discard a couple of delis disguising themselves as cafés. The aroma of coffee and sun-blessed tomato teases my taste-buds, but today I don’t want brushetta or ciabatta: I want a sandwich.
Shaking off my slight sweat from the lunchtime sun, I dismiss Spar, Cullens, Greggs Bakers and Boots: all renowned sandwich makers, but I want fresh. Likewise Starbucks, Café Nero, Marks & Spencer and Pret A Manger: all chains; I want a proper sandwich shop.
I’m on a mission, and compromising now would constitute failure.
Half-hour on, I’m very hungry, hot and tired. At the far end of Turnham Green I believe I’m hallucinating a mirage, until from the swinging sign before me emerge the words ‘Sandwich Shop’. Hallelujah! A proper sandwich shop, selling fresh sandwiches.
It’s busy. A middle-aged woman takes orders. Others prepare the sandwiches, fresh. It’s swift, friendly and efficient.
And today they’re giving away a free packet of crisps with every order.
I pay my two-pounds-fifty-pence, and walk the two miles back to my new office.
Exploring can wait. Today, I have found my sandwich.

The Umbrellas of London

The weather for today and Sunday: cloudy, rain, dark clouds, rain, clouds, suddenly dropping temperatures, clouds and rain.

How depressing this city is when technically, it should be warmer with at least some hint of sun, but alas, we’ve been forsaken again. Francesco is in Naples where it’s a comfortable 31C today. We haven’t really had one nice summer’s day since summer began a month ago, and temperatures haven’t gone much higher than 24C. No wonder so many Brits decamp to Spain and get leathery skin from worshiping the sun for so long. I even am wearing shorts and a t-shirt today in the vain hope that I will actually be able to sit in the sun at some point and feel heat.

Even in Sweden, one of my favourite places to visit, it gets really bloody cold in winter. But the air is free of pollutants so it’s really crisp, and provided you’re wrapped up well, it’s really great to go outside. Everything feels fresh and clean, and the country really knows how to celebrate various seasons with loads of festivals and crazy recipes associated with certain times of the year. This probably comes from their deep-rooted pagan traditions, but it’s really a difference from what life in London has going for it – a metropolitan city where the air is heavy and the weather is mostly tepid and non-committal despite the time of year – that is, if weather can ever be termed as “non-committal”. But you get the point.

Saw some more flats today – fortunately I saw some excellent places. One was really great – a flat in an Edwardian house, with some original tiling on the floors, a small back garden which would need some tending to, a very quiet street, and a huge lounge/living room. Only disadvantage I can see is that the second bedroom is a bit on the small side, so to rent it out I couldn’t get as much money as I’d hoped, and I might be faced with stomping neighbours upstairs running around at all hours. But these are minor quibbles. It was the best place I’ve seen so far, and in a city filled with lousy converted houses and mid-70s decor (including carpeted bathrooms) there was a ray of light. If only there was some bloody sun in the sky though…

The Ghostly Temp

n22Tomorrow, I start to look at some more apartments. After narrowing it down to 2 or 3 agents which I visited over the last fortnight who look as if they know what they are doing, I’m going to see a few of their choice properties. There’s one particular section of London I’m interested in, up near Alexandra Palace (aka “Ally Pally” by those in the know). Here’s a pic of how the last tenants left it.

Because I live so central at the moment, moving out to borderline suburbs is something I am trying to get over. However, there are advantages – no heroin addicts shooting up in the park across from where I live, the streets probably won’t look like a rubbish dump on Sunday morning after everyone straggles home from late nights, people will hopefully say hello to you if you pass them on the street (unlike in my building where you won’t even get a grunt from someone passing by on the stairs). An added advantage to that area is that there’s a nice oasis of great little shops plus it’s very close to decent transport (buses and trains). So perhaps there is some hope for me to find a decent place yet.

It really hit me yesterday how expensive this moving malarkey is going to be- aside from fees to solicitors, estate agents etc, there’s the fact that I want to buy a lot of new stuff for the apartment and chuck out all my crap furniture, I’m going to have to pay a deposit on a new place, probably have to put loads of stuff in storage while I’m in Edinburgh and on vacation, ugh. A potential nightmare in the making considering I’m earning so little at the moment, and the flat won’t complete until 7 Aug, a week after I leave for Edinburgh.

Speaking of so little money, I decided I couldn’t be bothered to go into my Crap Temp Job yesterday, as I had loads of production co work to do. As an experiment, I didn’t call in sick to see if anyone would wonder where I am. And surprise, surprise, no one called me to find out what was going on! Now this is a terrific scenario, really, no one notices when I’m not there, and when I am there, I never have any work to do, so I resort to doing all my own stuff and getting paid for it. What a great blag this has turned out to be.

Lemon Jelly at Somerset House 15 July 04

performed at Somerset House in W2 last night and it was awesome.
I was introduced to this duo about 2 years ago by a friend of mine, and it was so great to go to this concert last night and hear them just getting better and better. Rumour has it they are working on their 3rd CD and I can’t wait.
The rather different setting of Somerset House made for a perfect venue, with near-perfect weather (miracles do happen) and 2-pint beers. Yes, 2 pint beers. (Q-busters, though not at the toilets

The music of Lemon Jelly is mostly a (brilliant) way of re-making older tunes (even nursery rhyme type ones, like Ducks in the Water) into a mixture of mellow, cool, funky sounds with typically quite psychedelic backgrounds, projected onto the back of the stage and all over the walls. Last night saw Lemon Jelly do just that again, but adding quite a beat, almost break-like, to their music. They also performed a track with a back-up female vocal singer, the first time in concert that a 3rd performer was added.
The crowd was very pleased and from the general approving nodds of heads Lemon Jelly is sure to keep their loyal following and really go places.
More photos at my personal photo site.
Oh, and thanks for the free CD, Fred and Nick…..Go Lemon Jelly!
– Riaan

Lebanese food with a bunch of foreigners

The luxury of being able to choose almost any type of cuisine for a night out in London might be something we take for granted. I am very much aware of this when I visit other cities – London really spoils us rotten with choice.
I had a friend from Italy visit me over the last two days, and last night we decided to go to my local Lebanese restaurant. (Mes Amis, 1 Rainville Road, Fulham, W6 9HA, Tel 020 7385 5155).
It’s a fantastically small restaurant – no more than 8 tables – and it’s actually part of the guys house. (You walk through his living room to get to the bathrooms.) He’s got a very limited menu, mainly either a lamb, chicken or vegetarian dish but it’s the platters of starters that will really get the tastebuds going. Very nice indeed. It even impressed my Italian friend, which says a lot.
And there we were – 7 in total, comprising of South African, German, Italian, English and Hungarian nationalities. Which is the other really great thing about London – you can count on it being cosmopolitan.
If you plan to visit Mes Amis, make sure you call to reserve a table. It’s really tiny.
– Riaan

NEVER go to the Haelan Centre, Crouch End

…because possibly the biggest c*nt in all of London is manager there. I’m still enraged over a relatively minor incident that happened there almost 24 hours ago, but the manager has messed with the wrong person.

I had a day off from my Crap Temp Job and went flat hunting. Even though my own flat sale is still in the process of being completed, I thought I would check out some areas in London yesterday where I was keen to move. I visited a few estate agents in Green Lanes and Crouch End, and then later in the afternoon was going to meet Francesco, along with my friend David, for lunch. But around 12 noon I was feeling a little hungry, so I popped into the Haelan Centre, an organic wholefood “establishment” in Crouch End, specifically looking for some Atkins Diet branded food (I’m an Atkins devotee). I couldn’t see anything on the shelves, so I spotted this man stacking shelves in the fridge and decided to ask him if I was missing the Atkins stuff. After all, every health store in the UK carries Atkins range stuff.

“Excuse me,” I said, “but where do you keep the Atkins Diet stuff?”

This man looked up at me, and down his slightly greasy nose, and said, “Sorry. We don’t BELIEVE in Atkins here.”

No shit. If only I could relay the extreme arrogance that this specimen relayed in that short quote, your jaw would be dropping as far to the floor as mine did at that moment. I looked him in his beady eyes and said, “Well, it worked for me,” turned on my heel, and left.

I was vegetarian for 15 years before I started this Atkins diet, and despite attempting to eat well and with as much organic food as possible, I was always overweight, constantly having to take a dump, and had periods of extreme iron deficiency. Since I started Atkins in December and gave up being vegetarian, I’ve lost 20kg (44 lbs) and kept it off. I feel better than ever, my skin has totally cleared up, and I have so much energy I sometimes have trouble trying to sleep at night. So WHO the FUCK is this guy to decry the value that Atkins has had for me and millions of other people?

Turns out this shelf-stacker is the manager of the store as well. How nice of him to do a lowly job as replenishing stock, what a trooper. I found this fact out over lunch from David, who knows someone who used to work there and had even fewer nice things to say about the manager and his general c*nt-like tendencies.

So for anyone who lives in Crouch End, or spots this little organic centre on their travels, avoid it. People who speak to customers like that don’t deserve your business, even if their lofty and outdated ideals want to deter people from shopping there. Also, please note the evil, large hand over the organic parsley in the picture. It probably belongs to John, the manager, who couldn’t resist posing with some organic food. I just wish I could hack into that site and have every link go directly to

But man, having owned my own place for almost 7 years, and now looking for an apartment to rent for when I come back from Edinburgh, it’s hard work. For the most part, the estate agents I’ve visited have been alright, but the quality of flats is still as bad as when I was last renting. Standard colour for the walls – cream. Standard colour of the carpets – gray. Carpet in the bathroom. Old light fixtures, tiny windows, noise from another flat thanks to a bad conversion. Plus everything is so expensive, unless I move out to Zone 743, which I think is north of Inverness. My current thinking is to rent a 2 bedroom flat, and get a lodger to cover the rent. In the areas I want to live – I can either pay up to £850 for a one-bed to live alone, or split the rent of a 2-bed and pay about £550. Yes, I’ll have to live with someone else and it’s a compromise on the privacy I’m used to by currently living alone, but I want the square metre-age, and if it takes sharing with one other, I’ll do it. The goal is to find something before I go up to Scotland for all of August, so when I return, I will have someplace to go.


The picture of the unfinished lunch mentioned in Sally Crawford’s London post of Friday 09 July also featured a human male left knee.
The poet mistook this for Philipp Droessler’s knee – and indeed lunch.
It was in fact a fine example of the knee – and example of the generosity (regarding the salad) – of Johannes Grenzfurthner. To view, and then scroll down. (Careful, first pic is a dead person pic.)
Last week’s missing bits:
Villandry Magic Foodstore (05 July post)
Pics (09 July post)

1 Soho Square, London W1: people chatting and eating, man asleep in foreground

2 Soho Square, London W1: central building mock-Tudor tool shed and pigeon perch

3 Soho Square, London W1: lunch with a friend
PS: this is the poet’s second attempt to post the Soho Square pics. If it is not successful I will have to go to Sean for some more lessons.

Unlisted London

London’s a large, exciting, vibrant city of culture.
Any Saturday night, you can take your pick from a plethora of bars and restaurants, take in some theatre, catch an obscure film, attend a gig, watch live comedy, or wander round one of its many museums, galleries or open spaces. And there’s more nightclubs than you can shake a stick at (not that I’ve ever actually wanted to shake a stick). House, techno, indie, rock, garage, hip-hop, breakbeat, drum & bass; it’s all here.
The listings magazines are full to bursting with choices of places to see and things to do.
Yet there’s a counter-culture that never makes the listings magazines. Popular places that stay hidden, undocumented, known only to locals. Unlisted London.
And so despite my original intentions for a ‘quiet weekend’ I found myself accompanying my good friends the Dorset Boys to a club which came on recommendation.
Its name – ‘Infernos’ – was perhaps a clue to the shambolic disgrace it proved to be (in my experience, clubs ending in vowel sounds – ‘Pink Flamingoes’, ‘Bibas’, ‘Jazzos’ etc – invariably always are).
We made our way past the unpromising entrance to find a splendidly tacky oasis among the desert that is Clapham’s otherwise well-heeled, respectable, trendy bars. A meatmarket like I haven’t been to in years.
Beyond the cloakroom revealed an absolute tardis of a club. Flashing neon everywhere, the cavernous room was quite literally an amusement arcade; coin-operated glass-fronted crane-grabbing machines housing cans of beer instead of fluffy toys. Instead of breakbeat, techno or drum & bass, the huge main dancefloor played a succession of ‘Celebration’, ‘Oh What A Night’ and ‘Like A Virgin’. Whilst the only slightly smaller other floor offered a more ‘contemporary’ mix of Minogue, Eminem and Destiny’s Child.
It was classless in both senses of the word: lawyers rubbed shoulders with factory workers (though I suspect there were more of the latter), but stylish it most definitely was not. Lagered-up lads in Ben Sherman shirts circled groups of girls dolled-up to the nines. Sumptuous side-booths housed hen-parties, it occasionally seeming every other girl had a pair of angel’s wings on their back, along with the obligatory ‘L’ plates. I imagined how hellish it’d be for an ‘Infernos’ to represent my last night of singledom, but in the meantime it was like heaven on earth. When in Rome, I thought to myself, I don’t see nothing wrong with a little bump ’n’ grind, so I joined the masses to cut some rug on the dancefloor.
I’d been sceptical at my friend’s claims that it is the ‘ladies’ who approach the ‘gentlemen’ in this club yet, lo and behold, during an early play of ‘Angels’ (Eh? Slowies before midnight?), a pissed Kent girl lunged at me. The lads applauded this early surge. She passed me over to her buxom-breasted, fake-tanned mate, and though we danced and chatted for a few minutes I wasn’t seeking to close any deals this early.
Suddenly, pissed Kent girl was riding Dorset Boy #1’s back: his 6-foot-3 frame accommodating her with ease. Seconds later, she was riding Dorset Boy #2’s back: his slighter frame wilting with obvious discomfort. Within minutes, other Kentish mates were riding each of their backs. I shuddered as I received a smile from another of their friends, as I grew concerned at how I would carry her Jonah Lomu-like build, so decided it best to move on for my own safety.
As I single-handedly reinvented disco dancing, a sultry, dark-haired girl kissed me as she waltzed past. Dignity had been left back at the cloakroom. Alas my serenading The Tallest Girl In The World with ‘Deeply Dippy’ fell on deaf ears. And despite a couple of ‘near misses’ I found myself alone as the 2am deadline passed when any females had either collared a bloke, or had wisely left. I was too late. I’d managed to lose my friends. But at the end of a truly hilarious night I was not overly disappointed to be returning home empty-handed.
Sometimes, the best nights go unlisted.

Who actually looks at these?

When I first arrived in London, I was exceptionally impressed with these electronic billboards at most bus stops, apparently indicating the arrival of the next bus and it’s direction.
Not really using the buses that much, I kept my thoughts to just being impressed that this can actually be done.
I was soon to realise however, that obviously these signs were put up purely for entertainment. I am yet to find one which is actually accurate.
Thinking about it some more, one’s logic tells one that there is no way they can actually know when the next bus is due down to the minute, given London traffic and all other things thrown in the path of an orderly bus timetable.
I am now rather suspicious that my initial techie thoughts about how this worked are not entirely correct: I always thought they had a little transmitter on each bus and it just sorta connected with the bus stop as the bus went on its merry way. Surely this would be the easiest way to do this…just a simple little radio transmitter.
But then again, I am now rather convinced a lot of sterling has been spent on a project I can imagine spawning many project managers and involving very complicated mathematical calculations overlayed with routemaps, lists of influencing factors and so on. I am pretty sure they even had people on buses with timers at all times of the day to work out average times per route. Then they probably just programmed it into these red boxes and thought they did a good job.
Sorry for rattling on there. Sometimes it’s just best to keep things simple.
But I still enjoy these signs. (It can be rather boring at a bus stop in London. Mostly, for a very long time.) They make me imagine all the ways this system could have worked so much better.
– Riaan

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