Stating the obvious
I just popped out from my office to go for a walk around the shops, even though I hate shops, and crowds, and everything. I did this because it is instructive to do things that you hate, and to have new experiences and stuff. So I attempted Oxford Street at the very height of sale mania.
I picked a shop I don't entirely hate - which is tricky - and so went to H&M, which at least understands that stripes are good. I headed up the escalator to be contronted by...
... pure, naked, ugly, stupid greed. Grown men fighting over jumpers. Downstairs in the women's section, the atmosphere was even worse. The most striking thing was the noise - everyone seemed to be speaking in a higher pitch than normal, so rather than the normal background 'murmur murmur' there was instead a background 'eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee'. Mothers guarded whole shelves of bargains with deathly stares.
And this is normal, right? This is totally normal behaviour, isn't it? This isn't really worthy of being commented on. And that's why I'm so afeared.
Now, I perfectly understand that we live under an economic system that depends on people buying more - far more - than they actually need. And yes, I know I live in a country where people are happy to give all their personal details - including when, and where, and how messily they are likely to give birth - to their supermarkets, but are scared to even admit to their local council what their favourite coloured bus stop is. And yes, we're all consumers not citizens now - we shop for politican parties, plumping for the one that gives us the best deal, complaining about politicians who put style over substance, and then voting for them because they remind us of that really cool Nike advert where Eric Cantona has a fight with a giant metal donkey on an oil tanker.
But what I want to know is, when did this happen? Why does being surrounded by useless stuff and guff equate happiness? When was this decided - when did it become the accepted norm? Has it always been like this? Because it's making me cross.
My Boxing Day so far
The alarm went off and it was still dark outside. A hand reached from the covers and felt for the digital radio's on button - if I did have to regain consciousless, at least I could do so while suckling on the reassuring teat of cricket.
Flintoff was on a hat trick! He steamed in to bowl and... oh dear, down leg side. No hat trick for Flintoff. But at least he's on a hat trick - that means we're doing well... wait, no, hang on, that means they've already bowled us out for some paltry total. It means we're doing really badly. Oh well.
Phone on, text arrives: 'Why is it called Boxing Day?'. No idea, sweetheart. My theory is that during the great plague of 1666 (which was ended, in the end, by the great forward-thinking medical technique of setting everything on fire then running around and screaming a lot) they ran out of boxes to put corpses into, and so the King decreed that the day after Christmas was to be a day for making many coffins. The great surviving peoples of England were told to make coffins out of any material available; such was the stench on that wintry night. So a great clamour went up across the land, and the wonderful English peasantfolk used their famous ingenuity and pluck; soon coffins were readily available, though some were made from other corpses, making a kind of corpse sandwich, or threesome.
And that's why it's called Boxing Day.
I stumbled downstairs, and found meat. My phone bleeped to say that my taxi had arrived. When I had pointed out to work that there were no trains to New Malden on Boxing Day, and that New Malden is beyond the sweaty advances of the tube network, they responded by ordering me a cab, the swines. Clearly I was expecting them to give me a day off and order me to spend it bathing in asses’ milk.
Thinking about it, isn't 'asses' milk' just a posh way of saying 'shit'?
I get in the cab. The driver's Australian. Brilliant. Don't mention the war, James. Don't mention the war.
We're driving down the high street.
"There's a lot of Chinese around here, aren't there?"
"They're Korean, actually. It's the biggest Korean community in Europe!"
"You'll be speaking it soon, then."
Uh-oh. Looks like this guy is a stereotypical cab driver - the kind of cab driver that gives the Radio 4 listening, Camus reading, olive oil glugging majority of cab drivers a bad name.
Being a kind soul, I move the conversation away from multiculturalism to one I assume he'll enjoy: the cricket, and England's incompetence therein.
"Yeah, you were rolled over for 150 odd, and we're 38 for nought."
"That Shane Warne though, fucking legend. I know him, actually. Total arsehole. Fucking legend, though"
Fine, good. You know Shane Warne. Of course you do. I sit back and half-listen as he rambles on about being in the Caribbean in 1995 with a girl in a dress made out of the Australian flag. Fine, all good. The conversation washed over me the way sleep used to.
"'Course, imagine if an English girl dressed in her flag - in the St George"
"The Muslims would complain."
Uh-oh. How did we get back onto this? I thought I'd managed to steer the conversation safely down leg side. But we're back in the corridor of uncertainty.
"Local councils aren't allowed to fly the flag of St George on St George's day; they're banned cos the Muslims complain. But y'know what they were flying the week after? The gay pride flag."
"Yeah. And that Ken Livingstone, I've met him, he's a total wanker. Remember that party that got in the paper? That party he was at?"
"... that was an Aussie party. I was there, and I was talking to him, and he said he didn't like the Irish, and he lives in Cricklewood, which used to be an Irish area... and that guy up the flag pole, he was English."
He was unstoppable now. Incessant. He was like a monkey with a miniature cymbal - a cymbal full of RACISM.
As we crossed Westminster Bridge, he was on about being in the jungle back when he was in the army - "I was a commando doing some training, and I was in full camouflage, with loads of zinc sun cream on, and we hit this beach... and we came across some English tourists! They were as red as anything." The English can't handle the sun, in my head I'm a big man, a commando, I'm not a taxi driver, I'm mates with Shane Warne...
Nearly there, nearly there...
"Anyway mate, good luck with the rest of the series".
Waitrose near-death experience
My first letter to a local newspaper: another exciting step on the long road to utter loserdom. I think I got the air of mild dottiness that defines pretty much all letters to such organs, but I don't think the buggers at the Surrey Comet had the testicles to print it. Actually, I have no idea - I didn't bother to check. I just assume they didn't.
To the asian man in the people carrier who just tried to run me over at the exit to Waitrose Car Park in New Malden, then wound down his window to shout at me: no, sir, you're completely wrong. It's a pavement, I have right of way. You already have complete, terrifying mastery of the roads - please allow me the small pleasure of being able to walk along a pavement without having to be on constant guard for lusty automobiles. Where else can I walk with some degree of freedom? I don't particularly wish to have to resort to clambering across peoples' front gardens instead - I dare say dogs will chase me and residents will shake fists at me, or possibly even call the police.
In other, local news, a family having a meal at New Malden Pizza Piazza were subjected to a bizarre wee attack. A man came into the restaurant with some piss in a see-through bag, threw it over the family, then ran away again. The owner of the restaurant, in sympathy, did not charge the family for their meal.
My immediate thought was that the whole thing was a crafty and elaborate ruse to get free pizza. Piddle-bag man and the family were clearly in cahoots. It probably wasn't even human urine - it may have just been dog piss. New Malden Pizza Piazza manager man, you are far too trusting.
Strange Mechanical Butterfly
Hello, denziens of the post-apocalyptic badlands of 20six. I'm here to tell you about a strange card I received this morning. Perhaps your latent detective skills will help me to solve this strange mystery.
I woke up very late for work this morning, and only had about fifteen minutes to eat breakfast and shower away the spunk and grime from the previous day's adventures. Ignoring the pressing hands of time, I stayed in bed till the very last minute and watched King of the Hill, in which the eponymous hero was confounded by yoga.
One 90 second shower later, I was running for my train, with card in hand, scooped from the mat in the style of a relay racer (had the previous person in the relay team had a heart attack and dropped the baton to the floor). Amazingly, I made it to the station with a full 20 seconds before my train was due to arrive. I relaxed somewhat, and decided to open said mail, just as the train was pulling in to New Malden station.
As I opened it, a strange mechanical butterfly flew out and hit me in the face, while making a loud "whzzzzzzrrrbbbrrrtt!" noise.
I was so surprised I nearly missed my train, and had to jump in while the doors were closing with that insistent 'beep beep beep' noise. A Korean woman, who presumably had watched all this, chuckled at me. I smiled confusedly back in acknowledgement.
The card features no address or signature, just SURPRISE written across in large letters. The handwriting looks vaguely familiar, yet fills me slightly with impending doom. Oddly enough, though the letter has a stamp, it hasn't been processed so it doesn't have a convenient postmark on the front. So I'm thinking that the stamp was put on just to try and mislead me.
Any thoughts? Or, anyone want to own up?
London Loves Britpop Special
First it was an anonymous internet chap espousing the wonders of Woodies. Then it was the gifted children of Golders Green. And now, to complete a hat-trick of me-not-having-written-it blog entries, here's fellow London Loves DJ Ant with news of the latest exciting installment of Soho drinking and dancing opportunities...
HELLO YOU FILTHY OLD BEGGAR!
Do you remember...
When you could still buy tickets for festivals more than 2 hours after they went on sale?
When Danny from Supergrass was so young he'd never even heard of wife-swapping?
When you actually paid attention to the Top 40 chart?
When boy bands were proper boy bands who just sat on stools and never went near actual guitars?
When every single place, event and thing vaguelly related to music was not necessarily sponsored by Carling?
When reading the NME just gave you inky fingers rather than a desire to kill indiscrimately?
If you have answered yes to all, some, or none of these questions, then you must come to London Loves' Annual Britpop Special on Saturday 5th August. You must. It'll be like a normal London Loves apart from there will be a massive tendancy towards mid-90's classic and obscure indie, but in a good way. No one's going to play "Place Your Hands" by Reef or Republica's "Ready to Go" (at least probably not). Anyway, you trust us by now don't you?
If you were there last August you'll know it was massively popular so you might want to arrive early this time. Like last year there will be some authentic 90's reading material and pictures and everyone is encouraged to dig out their Elastica/Bluetones/Northern Uproar (I jest) t-shirts and adidas trainers . Unlike last year, we'll try very hard not to play the Divine Comedy's "Something for the Weekend" 16 times.
Why not let us know what you'd like us to play! The comments box is at your disposal.
We look forward to hearing your suggestions.
The London Loves DJ's
ps. by the way, the website works again and has photos on it and stuff:
Push Bar, 93 Dean Street.
8pm-1am ('ish' - it's generally much later if they let us)
£2 before 9.30/£4 after