Thursday, 10 June 2010

'Every day in every way I'm getting better and better …' Adventures Part 2

An actual summer's day. Ma gets the train over from Blackpool and we sit on Canal Street drinking cider with ice and having a proper chinwag and a laugh. It’s the loveliest thing we’ve done together for ages, my Mum is amazing. Around 8 pm I pour her back on the train and she gives me a wad of sweaty fun money to spend, as if I’m a teenager, bless her. I head down to Club Brenda at the Deaf Institute to liaise with my lovelies and to watch the wonderful David Hoyle introduce a lady who pulls a handkerchief out of her ladyparts. Normal Saturday night, in other words. Late, wreckless, brilliant.

The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

A gruelling but productive week at work. (I do have a job too, who do you think pays for all this? Apart from Ma, obviously.) A few days of work tedium is rewarded by dinner at Strada with Dee, Matthew, Marie and Jonathan, followed by a spectacular Mahler’s Ninth at the Bridgewater Hall which pulls me right out of myself but also makes me feel inexplicably lonesome. Well, not completely inexplicable I guess. Next night is a hit and miss Bourgeois & Maurice for Queer Up North at the gorgeous Spiegeltent. When they are good they are very very good and when they are bad they are torrid. Fun night though.

Frank Spencer

Saturday it’s up early and dry-mouthed for a trip to London with Shauny. Ohmygodfuntimes. The weekend is a heady mix of Camden falafels, the theme tune to Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, lager and vodka tonics, an interminable walk up Kingsland Road for drinkies with Malc and Craig at Dalston Superstore, and a trek to the Eagle in Vauxhall for Carpet Burn. On the tube platform I bump into my friend Jonathan, make a new friend called Harry, also on his way to Vauxhall, meet another new friend, lovely Martyn, in the Eagle, then at the bar there bump into Phil of Worrapolava fame, my longstanding-but-never-met-in-real-life internet buddy of mine, right there in the impeccable flesh. London is officially tiny and crammed full of friends.

Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea

Sunday is another hot day. I tube it to Victoria and walk the full length of the King’s Road, Chelsea, watching all the money laze about. Quick stop at the new Saatchi gallery where I admire some large crazy graffiti-collage-cartoon canvases which are kind of hypnotic and very POP. The artist turns out to be sixteen which means he is precisely half as old and twice as cool as yours truly. Fail.

Not a sniff of the King’s Road of the swinging sixties left, or of Viv and Malc’s punks. I find out after that I’ve been spitting distance from the house where Judy Garland died. In the window of one fancy Chelsea boutique is a mirror. A handsome young homeless guy with his arm in a sling is standing in front of it looking at himself. I walk close enough to hear him saying, ‘I’m very clean for a homeless person.’ It puts such a terrible lump in my throat.

The Black Cap, Camden

I keep walking down to the river, cross Battersea Bridge, walk through the beautiful park along the river, past the power station, mostly under wraps, past the dog’s home where they all yap like mad things, then tube back to Soho for lunch and coffee and people watching. I buy Mrs Dalloway and read it in the last of the sunshine in Soho Square. Shauny meets me and we have a drink before retiring back to Chalk Farm. We attempt to stay in but of course we’re unable to. Instead we’re lucky enough to catch the semi-final of Britain’s Got Drag Talent, or Drag Idol, or maybe it was Drag Factor? Whatever, it takes place at the rough and rowdy Black Cap in Camden and it’s shamazing. Okay it’s naff, but we stay ages and drink our hangovers away and are completely superior and un-ironic and gauche. Lots of smashed glasses and scraps and rough trade. Not us, of course. Shaun and I are from seaside towns though, so it’s like home for us. Shaun falls up the stairs at one point, which is just my favourite comedy move of all time.

Back to Manchester, yuck, short week at work, yay, then back to London again quick-sharp to see the Pixies play the Troxy out on the wilds of Commercial Road with Matthew and the Geordie. It’s a complete wet dream set list, take a look. I couldn’t have asked for better, honest to God. ‘River Euphrates’, ‘Sad Punk‘, ‘Gigantic’, ‘Broken Face‘, ‘Bone Machine’, ‘Caribou’, ‘Dig For Fire‘, ‘Alec Eiffel’ for Christ’s sake! Fuck it, they’re the greatest band of all time. I want a Pixies tattoo.

The Troxy

Next day it’s a complete scorcher. We pick our lovely Helen up at Kings Cross and travel out to spend the day at Kew Gardens which costs a fortune to get into it but really is worth it. Picnic by the lake, breathless Victorian greenhouses, gorgeous birds, cool grass. The highlight is the tree-top walkways, not just for the gorgeous views but for the pleasure of watching Matthew white-knuckle his way around the entire thing while it rocks back and forward ominously.

After Kew it’s back to the city for Pimms and Lemonade by the river outside the Royal Festival Hall until the sun goes down. Bliss was it that night to be alive, but to be young(ish) was very heaven. Helen gets her train home and we head on to The Enterprise pub at Chalk Farm which is rammed and sweaty and brilliant. Britpop and Madness and utterly sozzled punters cooling off in the rain and our last night there and oh I love you London.

Soundtrack: Shipbuilding, Dirty Old Town, If She Knew What She Wants, When Your Life Was Low, Sleeping Satellite, Schoolin',
The Best Of The Proclaimers, loads of Joni Mitchell, Edith Piaf, Pixies, Mahler and Schubert

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