Wednesday, May 14, 2003

The website for "This Is Uncool".
[via an excellent blog that's new to me: six different ways]
Regular readers have no doubt noticed my recent slump in output. When my side-bar is longer than the main bit, you know I have a problem. The last time this occurred was in December, when I threatened to give up blogging altogether. I thought I'd figured out what this was all about: I am scared of change. I stopped blogging in December when I took redundancy, and I'm doing it again now that I've started evening shifts at the paper.

I don't think it is change I am scared of, but uncertainty. On the surface, I sailed through the break-up with Marcus, blogging everything that moved. But that was a defence mechanism: graceful swan above, frantic paddling below. At least I knew the waters I was in, and I knew how to navigate out of them.

Much as I hate to admit it, I like routine. I like to know what my day is going to look like, I need to know that tomorrow won't differ from today. I like certainty. I require stability.

I am aware that sounds odd from someone who spends his life on the edge, or pretty damn near it. But I am a trapeze artist - I will execute death-defying manoeuvres as long as I know there's a safety net to break my fall. Right now, the net has been pulled away - I'm winging it. I'm employed on a strictly casual basis, which is a first for me. I could be out of a job tomorrow. Also, Marcus has recovered enough from our break-up that he wants to go out for a drink. Do I want that? I do. I don't. I'm scared.

I don't know what I want. And - for me - that's new, and frightening.

For a control freak like me, who needs certainty, it's a scary situation. Oh, it's a healthy situation, I suppose. I can't always predict what is going to happen. I can't always be in charge. I need to be challenged, to be surprised. And so I launch myself into a somersault, having faith that I will catch the swinging bar.

And if I don't? Hell, I've seen The Greatest Show On Earth - I always play the wounded clown.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Over the last few weeks, I have received some amazing presents from readers. Amanda - all the way from Australia - has sent me This Is Uncool - The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk And Disco. A few years ago, I read The Heart Of Rock And Roll - The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made by Dave Marsh. While I loved it, his choices were too American and completely dismissive of my favourite genre - electropop. "If only I had the willpower," I told myself, "I'd compile a book about the real greatest singles ever made." I don't need to now - Garry Mulholland has done it for me. He's about the same age as me, and our cultural references are almost identical. I checked the index, wondering if my favourite singles were included: "Atomic": check; "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye": check; "Uptown Top Ranking": check; "Coffee + TV": check; "Back For Good": check. And loads I'd forgotten: "Remember Me" by Blueboy; "You Don't Love Me (No No No)".

Mullholland's writing is pretty sharp, too. Here's his description of The Buzzcocks' "Spiral Scratch" EP: "None of the songs are actually about wanking exactly, but, if ever you've tried to masturbate while on a speed comedown and emerged three hours later with nothing but a cramped claw where your hand used to be, then you'll know what Devoto sounds like on this record."

Thank you, Amanda, and please don't take this the wrong way when I say I'm going to keep it in the toilet!
No, I haven't received my iPod yet. I placed the order on the 1st of May, and Apple's website said I should allow eight to ten days for delivery. It's now twelve days later, and no sign of it. Their clunky website tells me only that my order is being assembled, and gives no idea of how long this will take. I've just called them, and was told that my order is expected to be ready to ship on the 28th of May. So I should receive it about five days after that - over a month after ordering it - all going to plan, which I doubt. I really wish I'd just gone down Tottenham Court Road now.
New Lynx ad on TV: "Men's sweat only attracts other men. Is that really what you want??"

Er, yes.

Give me the natural smell of man [or 'manstink' as it's so charmingly referred to in personal ads] over deodorised pong any day.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Swiisssssshhhhh. That was the sound of a veil being drawn over this weekend's happenings.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

It's Freak Night on Kilburn High Road.

Outside Brondes Age bar, a middle-aged man chats on his mobile, wearing a full Spiderman costume, the mask pushed back off his face onto the top of his head. The kid who processes my Switch card in the computer games shop is all of nine years old. Across the road, the pug-faced woman is keeping up her usual ignored litany: "Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me..." The dirty, scary man is lying on his sun-lounger in the council block gardens again, his obscene crotch competing with his enormous belly and jellied thighs. Further up the hill, an old man stands by the side of the road, casting an imaginary rod into the imaginary river that is Cricklewood Broadway. A young well-dressed guy stands on a corner screaming and punching, wrestling with demons.
This working nights business doesn't half get in the way of good drinking time. For the last two weeks, I have worked from 9pm till 3am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Can't go out for a few drinks with The Boys before work. Too late to go out for a drink after my shift. Oh God, I'm becoming teetotal. But saving lots of money.

Saving lots of money for my nine days in Sitges at the end of June with The Boys, and drink aplenty.

Friday, May 09, 2003

<deja vu>
OK, who sent me The Manual (How To Have A Number One The Easy Way) by Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty [the KLF]? It arrived this morning, but the packing slip doesn't say who it's from. I'd love to know who to thank.
</deja vu>

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Monday, May 05, 2003

Ah, the logic of drugs. On Friday night Saturday morning, I went straight from finishing my shift on the paper to a Vauxhall after-hours club which is open from 3am to 3pm. Arriving stone-cold sober, I realised just how bizarre these places are. Clearly, everybody had been at it for hours - I've never seen so many unfocused people.

There were three guys at the door trying to get in. All three of them were much the worse for wear, but the one in the middle could not stand at all. His two mates were trying to hold him up. The bouncer took one look at them and said there was no way they were coming in with their friend in that state.

"He's just had a line of K," one of them explained to bouncer, "All he needs is a line of coke to sort him out. Is there anywhere here we can do that?"

I didn't hear the bouncer's reply, but I think I saw all three of them in the club later.

Friday, May 02, 2003

I've linked to Rob's amazing poem generator several times, but I never tire of the cut-up semi-sense it prduces [after a fair bit of editing]:
Swish Cottage walks across westwards directly to
my beer, of sore feet.
I was trying to
find the lion guarding
the warehouses, so I blocked
the stars.
My route was the average
age of the way. in pain.

Sipping my first beer of
bureaucratic delays. When, I had
driven Marc Bolan died, OK? Maps lie.
I considered climbing over the
gorgeous Buddhist peace pavilion
I was my name.
I was The road
I was holding forth about
instant history.

Swish Cottage walks
across westwards directly to
find the bleak industrial estates, with its surroundings.
I had stopped working.
An annual fixture in pain.
I discovered I was there in Battersea Home,
and a little zoo stocked with tangled weeds
An icon of blisters.

The Thames, littered with a beefy skinhead walking
a thirties stage actress:
An annual fixture in Rome

Swish Cottage walks across westwards directly to be ignored,
I considered
asking this magnificent building
the national Missing Persons Helpline, their
first, supervised swim,
proud parents escorting them

Swish Cottage walks across westwards directly
to entertain
I recognised you
instantly from the Eurovision compilation.
look very brave a little lost
abandoned hulls of time
Eyes of plate glass
their windows plastered with dodgy guys hanging
around, with peacocks... ...
In fact, I walked a likely tree
into decay like romantic pier.
Some quick thoughts after working nights at a newspaper for the first time:

1. Election night may not be the best night for your first shift. Those results keep trickling in, and the editor keeps putting back the time we'll close-off the paper's final edition.

2. The canteen shuts early, so ensure your bag is stuffed with durable nibbles.

3. Make sure you know which side of the huge building your car is waiting to pick you up. Running around a skyscraper at 3:30am in the rain is not fun.

4. When you do get home, go to bed immediately. Don't be tempted to check your email and surf the web 'just for a minute'.

5. Close your curtains before you go out - it's hard to sleep when the sun's shining directly on you.

6. Buy some earplugs, especially if your room is next to the front door, and if several sets of meter-readers and telephone-repairmen have chosen this morning to shout to each other down the hallway.

7. Try not to dream that you are sat in front of a computer terminal, re-laying out the front page, over and over.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

I am chipmunk, hear me roar. I'm convinced Audblog speeds everyone's voices up to make the file sizes a bit smaller. That's my excuse for sounding like a chipmunk on this Audblog post. A very loud chipmunk at that - you may wish to turn your volume down before clicking the icon below.

Powered by audblogaudblog audio post
"Two years after packing up his box of groovy tunes and heading south, DJ Juggy Jones makes a welcome return to the capital with the re-launch of Shake Your Tail Feather on Wednesday 7th May (and then every first Wednesday of the month) at FLIP, Lisle Street, WC2.

"Juggy is sure to keep the dance floor grooving as he takes the crowd on a musical rollercoaster ride through the Sixties and Seventies, with his funky blend of Motown, Northern Soul, Funk and Rare Groove.

"Dance the night away to classics from Diana Ross and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, get down to rare soul from the vaults of Stax, Hi and Atlantic, and get on up to funky tunes from James Brown, The O’Jays and the Fatback Band.

Shake Your Tail Feather, 1st Wednesday of the month (commencing 07/05/03), 10pm – 2am. FLIP, 30 Lisle Street, London, WC2 (Leicester Sq underground)"
Look what I just ordered think I might have ordered. There's a good chance I've just bought myself a 15GB Apple iPod - one of the new, even thinner, ones, laser-engraved with my name and telephone number.

Why the uncertainty? The Apple site doesn't accept Switch cards, so I had to place the order by phone and then transfer the money online. However, as I pressed 'send', I was suddenly logged out of my bank's site, and now I'm not sure if my order was accepted. I may have to wait a day to see if it's gone through.

I'm not going to press 'send' again just yet. Much as I covet an iPod, two would be plain greedy.
My London walk 2003

The full write-up of my birthday walk is now online. The page is pretty graphics-intensive as I took loads of photos, but there's plenty of text to read while the pics load. Click here.