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Below are the 17 most recent journal entries recorded in thisisben's LiveJournal:

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007
1:34 pm
It was a pointless journal anyway...
I've stopped posting here pretty much. However, I have started a blog about arts events in London. It's in its infancy but I've already posted to it more times in a fortnight than I ever posted here. It's at www.artslondon.blogspot.com

Monday, September 10th, 2007
3:34 pm
So it’s Sunday morning and I wake up in another person’s bed at the wrong end of London. I have a slightly hazy memory of this other person getting dressed and going to work but my head is cloudy from over indulgence the night before and it’s slightly difficult to put events into the correct order. I laze in bed for a while and flick through her copy of Atonement by Ian Mcewan, struggling to imagine Keira Knightley as Cecilia without expressing a shudder. My head begins to clear somewhat and I prop myself up, lean over from the bed towards the bookshelf and yank out the Time Out London Walks guide which is sitting there (WARNING: Although I am generally an honest chap who can be trusted when left alone in your room whilst out, I will still inspect ever book and record that you own with the greatest scrutiny).

I browse through it for a while. It consists of mapped out walks through London, written by various well known writers in which they describe places to visit, things to see etc. It being a Sunday, I have no commitments for the afternoon. Well now I have a plan and the walk through East London look interesting.

I’m quite sweaty and the room feels stuffy. By now it’s coming up to half eleven and it’s about time to get started so I haul myself out of bed and try to ignore the fact that my legs feel a little weak on the floor. I can hear the sound of housemates coming from upstairs and consider showering, which unfortunately will mean making conversation. The prospect of feeling grubby and nasty is weighed up against the fact that I will most likely not be seeing anyone I know for the afternoon. I walk out the bedroom door, downstairs and straight onto Blackstock Road. Twenty minutes later I’m at Old Street station, the guide handily placed in my bag. I’m determined that I won’t walk around with the guide out the whole time like a tourist. Also, I vow not to be too strict in following the route of the walk and to take it at a nice, leisurely pace with plenty of stop offs for shopping and coffee.

I walk up Rivington Street, slightly disappointed that none of the shops are open at midday on a Sunday. Following the route, I’m also let down to discover that the early parts of the walk are wholly unremarkable. It’s only when I get to Spitalfields Market that things start to get a bit more interesting. Now I’ve been to Spitalfields plenty of times but I haven’t been there on a busy market day since the refurb. The whole place is a rather confusing mess of glass. There isn’t much with any character and they seem to be going in a sort of Borough Market direction food-wise. Nonetheless, I pay for a rather overpriced chicken wrap with coffee, plonk myself down in a café and sit there for an hour finishing off a bad, occasionally anti-semitic novel by Graham Greene.

Feeling a bit more with-it, I head onwards. The walk took me onto Brick Lane before cutting through the back where all the estates are. I’ve been to Brick Lane numerous times but I’ve never walked off onto this side of it and East London suddenly starts to look rather grim. It makes me think of Clement Attlee. The estates there are of the low rise type but, like a lot of estates they give off a still vibe and you feel very exposed as you walk amongst all the space and the patches of grass. I make it to Whitechapel via Sidney Street. There’s nothing to mark the siege of Sidney Street which I know next to nothing about but was apparently very significant. I pop into an “Ideas Store”. This is what the East London councils are now calling their libraries. I like the idea of trying to make these places more inclusive and it’s a great place-modern, welcoming and they’ve obviously spent a lot of effort on it all. It’s just a shame that, walking past, you’d have no idea that there are books inside.

On Cable Street there’s a mural to the showdown with Mosley back in the 1930s. My grandfather “fought” at the battle of Cable Street. He told me once about how he recognised many of the fascists from his school and that he managed to land “a few whacks” on a couple of them. There certainly aren’t many Jewish people here now. In fact, all the Jewish buildings have now been converted into Muslim buildings. The central mosque on Brick Lane used to be a synagogue until the demographics of the area changed.

The mural is massive and it’s good that the event has been properly marked. Other than that, Cable Street is quite unremarkable and I expected it to be rather more dense. I tried to imagine what it must have been like to be there -There was a genuine sense of danger and urgency about blocking the march and it’s hard to picture that now. Even if 2 million of us took part in the Iraq war protest, I’m not sure many people would have gone if there’d been a guaranteed threat of violence. People’s political choices must have seemed a lot more important than they do now.

I walk on and the space starts to open up as I continue south towards the river. Wapping is all warehouses, shipping docks and of course the usual loft apartments. I barge my way through a gate marked “Riverside Walk” and, slightly exhausted, come out gasping onto the Thames which opens expansively in front of me. I can see Canary Wharf on the other side of the river and most of the Docklands redevelopment. There’s too much glass everywhere. The saltiness in the air finally rouses me from any last vestiges of drowsiness. I’m awake finally. Time to head back.
Friday, August 31st, 2007
2:47 pm
We're Going Out...In Camden Town...
Just another night out in the stinking cesspit that is Camden Town. When I was 16 I loved Camden Town and I don’t feel that differently now. It’s still probably the area of London I most enjoy visiting for drinks with friends. Sadly though, repeated visits at the age of 16-18 have ruined it for me slightly. It’s always the same places, the same food stalls and the same dealers. Obviously this is part of its charm-you know what you’re going to get when you walk out of the tube station. Sometimes this is comforting, sometimes it irritates. It’s always lacked a decent club night too. When I was about 16 I used to frequent a club night called “Loony Toons” near Tufnell Park tube. This later changed its name to “Toony Loons”, presumably because of a threatened lawsuit. Loony Toons used to sell very reasonably priced Hooch and the resident DJs-Jonathan and Eko would take my requests for Symposium B-Sides without laughing in my face. They even played the mighty Disappear for me once. Sadly, once you reached the age of about eighteen it became rather socially unacceptable to visit Loony Toons and you *had* to go instead to the rubbish Afterskool Club or the equally crap Candybox on Wardour Street. Oddly though, it was still considered acceptable to visit Feet First at Camden Palace even though it had both the same crowds and DJs as attended Loony Toons. I suppose that Club NME at Koko is the current equivalent of what Feet First used to be but it seems odd to go to a club night which is part of the now massive NME franchise.

Anyway, despite its flaws, my love for Camden knows no bounds. And last night I ventured out with Ms. K, her two housemates and my mate Sophie who I really don’t see enough of. We started in the Good Mixer which appeared rammed from the outside but it turned out that the inside was half empty. I don’t know if this was the result of the hideous smoking ban or merely a result of the pleasant weather. Anyway, I was slightly early but was relieved to find K’s mate already there so I didn’t have to sit on my own like the social pariah that I usually am. Once everybody else had shown up we took advantage of the current Time Out 2 for 1 offer at a well known noodle emporium. Upon eating the delicious meal I was lightly mocked for my unwillingness to give my real name or e-mail address on the voucher. In retrospect, there’s probably not that great a danger that Wagamama would use my name for sinister purposes. It all turned out being slightly more expensive than I expected and there was a slightly awkward moment where I got shouted at, probably with good reason. I was later informed this was an indication that the mate who shouted at me now felt comfortable with me, so it was possibly a good thing. Possibly.

We later ventured to The Hawley Arms. Now as far as I know, this is not named after Richard Hawley although he deserves to have a pub named after him for his occasional role in Pulp, even if I’ve personally never thought his solo albums to be as good as people make out. Actually, every member of Pulp should have a pub named after them. The Fox and Candida, The Three Marcus Russells, The Red Jarvis…Anyway I digress. The Hawley Arms has attracted a rather fashionable crowd but there wasn’t an overly trendy vibe about the place. I’m sure you could still get hold of some Pork Scratchings there if you really wanted. The drink began to kick in and I was relieved to see that Sophie appeared to be getting on okay with everyone else since she hadn’t met them before .There was another awkward moment when I again committed a social faux pas when ordering drinks, but apart from that, all was good and it was another fine night out in Camden Town. Fine enough to make the Younger Younger 28s very happy indeed.

So all in all, we were a satisfied bunch as we boarded the night bus back to Finsbury Park. Camden Town is Groundhog Day every time and sometimes that’s just what you want.
Wednesday, August 15th, 2007
2:28 pm
I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve seen Darren Hayman play live. I first saw him in 2000 when I went to see Hefner, a band I knew nothing about, at the Hop and Grape in Manchester. I only went because I was trying to ingratiate myself with a guy called Bob who I met in my first ever lecture at University. I thought Hefner were rubbish (same-ey and whine-ey), but I made good friends with Bob and we ended up living together a couple of years later. I was wrong though, about Hefner. They subsequently became one of my favourite bands. There’s something indefinably special about any band who have lyrics like “I don’t want to get laid. I just want to be held in your arms” or “When she lies with me, will she forget I’m ugly”.

There were many special gigs that followed. On one memorable occasion, they headlined the New Bands Tent at Reading, playing opposite Eminem on the Sunday night (“We are Hefner. We are not Eminem. If you want Eminem, you’ve come to the wrong place”). There was the night at the Underworld in Camden where they were only playing songs off The Fidelity Wars and We Love The City. I remember that Hymn For The Alcohol made me tearful. I interviewed Darren Hayman for my friend’s website and he was witty, likeable and worthy of admiration. We talked for about ten minutes about our dogs. His had just been spayed and he was feeling very guilty about it.

When Hefner split up, it was never the same. Darren formed a band called The French with those members of Hefner he was still talking to. They made a fantastic album called Local Information but absolutely no-one bought it. One song was about a girl who was only ever happy when she shut the door to her room, closed the curtains and danced around to the Wu Tang Clan. Another encouraged Peter Gabriel to stop writing world music and spend more time with his family. Unfortunately, they never really worked live and his cohort didn’t want to tour anymore, so it became Darren Hayman solo and then eventually took the form of “Darren Hayman and the Secondary Modern” who I saw last night.

What was most impressive about last night’s gig was that, for the first time since Hefner, Darren has a band who are up to the job. He’s now able to pull off the old Hefner songs without them sounding tinny or irritating lo-fi. He also played plenty of stuff off Table For One, his occasionally cloying, but generally ace solo album. Seeing Darren live can be a bit like retreating into a comfort zone but it was improved by being in good company. Also, we didn’t have to pay to get in because my mate Olly, who I used to be in a band with was running the club night in which Darren was playing. I’m very fond of Olly even though I hardly ever see him and he has become rather trendy, working for a variety of fashionable record labels. He’s still the same though, with the best laugh of anyone I know.

Afterwards, we walked out of the main bit of Soho and down Charing Cross Road towards Trafalgar Square from where we could catch the bus. For the sake of it, we took a detour into Chinatown, mainly because it just smells so nice when you walk through the busiest parts. As we wondered through I thought about all the times I’d been there before-so many family meals, lunch with people I didn’t like from law college, a final meal before The Lady left for Israel, getting drunk with Fiona and ordering pretty much everything off the menu in a dodgy box of a restaurant. I also wondered if anyone who I’d refused asylum to in my job was working in any of the buildings and whether they were actually Falun Gong practitioners and I’d been wrong all along.

Soho only ever looks good when it rains, but Chinatown always looks the same whatever the weather. At the same time, like Brick Lane, it causes frustration in me. It’s about time I went to China rather than hanging around being nostalgic about a Disneyland style architect’s impression of China.
Sunday, August 12th, 2007
1:37 pm
It’s been an odd sort of weekend. In one way it has been slightly frightening because I’ve realised that I have less money than I’ve ever had at any time in my life and I don’t know if I can afford to eat between now and the end of the month. The stress of this has increased my appetite for both food and cigarettes. And the horrible cycle continues.

One of the main reasons I’m broke though is that I’ve signed up to a course at Citylit to study “Introduction to Freelance Journalism”. This excites me and it will be good if it motivates me to start doing more writing since I can be very lazy with that kind of thing. One of my new year resolutions was to get paid for writing something and I haven’t fulfilled it. Actually, now I come to think of it, I failed in every single one of my three new year resolutions. I have no willpower, discipline or sense. Nevermind.

Friday night was spent in Clissold Park with Ms. K and a bunch of her friends. It was a bit intimidating to meet so many people all at once and I was reminded of just how inept I am when placed in social situations with strangers. However, once I’d relaxed a bit it was alright and I even started enjoying myself. Fancy. At one stage I was asked the tremendously awkward “what drugs have you taken/what are your views etc.” question and I had to give my usual mumbling, not very well thought through, not very cool answer. I also ate lots of chocolate biscuits and slightly upset someone by drinking their beer.

Unfortunately the police arrived at about 2am to break up the party which was sort of irritating. We thought they were going to search us all and hold us for ages, but in the end they all had to run off to deal with an Actual Crime somewhere else so we evaded their dastardly clutches. I was impressed though by their athleticism in leaping over fences which took us 10 minutes to climb over.

Saturday afternoon was spent in my local hating football and the misery it brings To think that I was actually excited about the start of the football season. What a fool I am.

Finally, I went to see The Hothouse at the National Theatre (http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/hothouse)
Unfortunately it was very poor. I love Pinter but I hardly ever enjoy going to see his plays. Often the actors just seem to miscalculate and sound very fake. I think it’s because his dialogue is so unnatural and relies so much on repetition that it’s very hard to actually suspend your disbelief and it requires particularly strong performances to overcome this. There was some horrible over-acting and the second half didn’t really go anywhere. I think the flaws were with the play itself as much as with the particular production but still, it was rather a disappointment. Then again, I’m never satisfied. With anything. Ever.
Friday, July 6th, 2007
5:29 pm

It'll be okay. Honestly.
Thursday, May 31st, 2007
3:12 pm
I don’t understand how people are able to update their journals so frequently. I don’t usually have time at work and I can’t be bothered when I’m at home when I could just have a bath or eat mature cheddar cheese instead. It just seems like a big commitment.

However, I feel the need to update. Morocco has been and gone. It’s a week since I got back now and I can’t bring myself to do a full description of the holiday. Suffice to say that it was beautiful, terribly relaxing, invigorating, made me itchy for more foreign travel and that I was never bored for even a minute. I even got on pretty well with my ex despite a short bout of over affectionate touchy feeliness. After 2 days in gorgeous weather my skin suddenly became almost healthy looking and spots disappeared. Now, a week later, they have returned. Damn.

Unfortunately, by the time of my return I had returned to being a full time smoker. This was fine whilst on holiday, but much more grim when at work, having to go out for a cigarette halfway through the afternoon and being made to feel so sick I almost puked. I smoked for years, gave up in December last year, slipped increasingly from April and, having started again properly, my wimpy body couldn’t cope with it. So I bought Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking and haven’t smoked since 6pm Saturday. We’ll see. There’s nothing more boring than a smoker who’s trying to quit.

And last night I went to see Equus, starriong Richard Griffith and Harry Potter. I was suspicious of it because it had a celebrity in it. But it proved to be very good indeed. I like wordy, dark plays and it was both wordy and dark. Richard Griffiths is so talented he hardly appears to be trying but watching him makes you realise just how crap most actors are. Also, the horses in it were scary, beautiful and, most eerily, felt like actual horses, even though they were just actors with masks on. Weird. The play was followed by drinks in Norman’s Coach and Horses, a Soho pub that’s been around since forever. I like it, I just don’t know why. It’s expensive, unpleasant, has a slightly towny crowd and is usually too packed to get a seat. Rubbish. It’s no Bradley’s.

Then I got home and discovered that Naomi was out the Apprentice which I was pretty happy about. I’m rooting for Tre, but Kristina is clearly head and shoulders above the rest. I haven’t made up my mind yet about whether to commit to Big Brother this year…We’ll see. Could surely spend that time doing something more productive, like reading War and Peace or finally assembling the computer desk that’s been leaning against my wall for two months now.

Beth Ditto is naked on the cover of the NME. The world has gone mental.
Thursday, May 3rd, 2007
3:03 pm
DIY Barbecues Rule!
I’m never one to turn my nose up at a tacky restaurant idea. So when my mate Richard suggested that we should eat in Koba (http://www.toptable.co.uk/details.cfm/qs/rid%7C2267/) where you cook your own food on a sort of makeshift barbecue in the middle of your table, I was happy to oblige. Now to me, this seemed like a rather lazy restaurant, where they don’t even cook the food before giving it to you. I quite liked the idea of a grumpy waitress flinging a piece of meat into the centre of the table and grunting “cook it yourself you ungrateful lowlife” at us. However, it was actually quite a classy experience. The meat was all thinly cut and had been put in delicious and extremely strong marinades which meant it was super-tasty. And it was quite fun to watch it sizzle away as you snacked on sticky rice. It reminded me of that brief fashion for fondue sets that died out years ago. But this was more fun and generally less ridiculous. Tasteful décor too. Much recommended.

We also made our way to the superb Bradley’s Spanish Bar. Now anyone who knows me will be aware that this is pretty much my favourite bar in central London. One of the things I like about it is the way that it can really divide my friends. Some of them consider it to be too scummy. I think this is to rather miss the point. Its location, just off Oxford Street but hidden away down an alley, is great-It’s like a little secret that only the indie types know about. Some of my favourite London evenings have been spent sitting on the pavement outside discussing Britpop also-rans Straw, socialism and Doctor Who whilst smoking relentlessly. I can’t really do the place justice but it has character and in central London that’s pretty rare.

Meanwhile, I am currently training groups of people at work to do my job. This is quite a mentally exhausting experience. It’s hard work to be patient for 8 hours in a row. I’ve been told I’m a pretty good teacher, but I’m constantly tempted to shout at people, insult their work, their intelligence and their dress-sense. That I have restrained myself thus far is merely down to my general mental laziness.

In two weeks time, I will be going to Marrakech. I was originally supposed to be going with my girlfriend and we booked the holiday together. Unfortunately, we have since split up. This is quite an awkward situation. Nonetheless, I am extremely excited about the prospect of sunny Morocco and it will be particularly nice to travel somewhere that’s genuinely a bit exotic. It looks like being a rather glamorous trip, albeit one that is predominantly spent in shitty hostels. All the accommodation out there looks beautiful. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to stay in any of the nice places and will be packing my own bog roll just in case.

Tomorrow night should be spent at How Does It Feel To be Loved (www.howdoesitfeel.co.uk), London’s most incestuous and downright fabulous indie-pop-soul night. This week it’s being held a mere ten minute bus ride from my home so I will be luxuriating in my south London flat till the early hours. My “assistant” on this trip will most likely be my mate Fiona who is always one to enjoy a bit of indie dancing and has perfected the art of looking both aggressive and moody whilst dancing to Belle and Sebastian. It’s a special skill, and a constant source of personal envy.
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007
2:48 pm
It seems that the national press has forgotten to report on the fact that 200,000 people went on strike yesterday. Instead they’ve preferred to focus on the MD of BP apparently having used an escort service to meet his ex boyfriend. Hmm. I’m not going to get too annoyed about it. I wonder though, how many people will be directly affected by Mr. Browne’s resignation compared to how many were affected by yesterday’s PCS strike.

The beautiful mippy is coming over to my house tomorrow night. She has promised mix tapes aplenty. I’m hoping she brings some Irn Bru/ Vimto as well so that we can raise a toast to unfashionable soft drinks and indulge our geeky sense of humour.

Liverpool Vs. Chelsea last night oddly reminded me of the Hamiltons-Al Fayed libel trial in that you wanted both sides to lose and they were both so thoroughly depressing. By the end, I think most people just wanted the game to be over and didn’t really care who won. That said, it was fun to see The Special One obviously nervous about his future job prospects. Penalties always seems such an unimaginative way of deciding games though. Perhaps some kind of mud wrestling match between the two opposing managers would be more exciting. I’d fancy Rafa to win this but then, you have to suspect him of having a heart condition. Jose would be a bit like the Roadrunner to his Wile E Coyote.

Perhaps I’ve spent too much time considering this.
Monday, April 30th, 2007
11:24 am
Another Weekend Without Makeup
This weekend whizzed by in a blur of forgettability. Or it would have done if forgettability were a real word. Friday evening was spent at Darbucka in Islington (www.darbucka.com) for the birthday party of my close friend Sophie. This was the kind of place where they play “world” music at a volume which means you can’t hear anybody but the person next to you. They had those Hookah pipe things on which you can smoke rocks of stupidly flavoured tobacco substitute. I didn’t know many people there and it’s quite difficult to get to know people when you can’t hear a word they’re saying to you. I hate being one of those people who mouths off about the loudness of bars, but what can I say-I’m clearly old before my time. The décor was all brown with nice comfy sofas and friendly staff. Unfortunately, Corona was the beer of choice and this is truly the worst of all beers, usually served with a chunk of lime so you don’t need to taste the foul, chemical tanged stuff at all. Like so many places in Islington, it’s a venue that’s both bland and best avoided. That area really needs a few places with genuine character to open up.

Yesterday evening, to the Ritzy Cinema, Brixton (http://www.picturehouses.co.uk/cinema_home_date.aspx?venueId=ritz)

Wandering around Brixton after dark, it sometimes feels as though you’re wading knee deep in shit through the last days of Rome. However, the Ritzy is clearly the best thing to happen to this chaotic corner of south London. It nicely borders somewhere between arthouse and mainstream. It has an extremely wide repertoire and isn’t ashamed to sell popcorn, unlike some more pretentious cinemas (BFI, ICA-I mean you!). It has 2 beautiful bar areas which aren’t too pricey and aren’t in the least bit pretentious. Unfortunately I was making the socially retarded gesture of visiting the cinema on my own, always a nervy but pleasurable experience.

So I went to see Half Nelson (www.halfnelsonthefilm.com). There were plenty of things about the film which should have sucked. Primarily, it included that most lazy of cinematic characters, the inspirational but flawed teacher. In this case, he’s flawed to the extent that he’s smoking crack in the girls’ changing rooms after gym practice. Ryan Gosling’s teacher was supposed to be inspirational with his long diatribes about the civil rights movement. As it was, it just made me think-“stop filling your students’ heads with all this quasi-philosophy bollocks and teach them about Martin Luther King”. Still, he’s certainly a better role model than Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society or the dreadful Drew Barrymore in Donnie Darko.

Half Nelson is actually a thoroughly charming film. Both Ryan Gosling and his favourite schoolkid give great performances. Gosling in particular, manages to just about keep our sympathy despite fucking up the lives of pretty much everyone around him. I liked the fact it didn’t have any easy answers to the problems facing the two main characters. I was particularly glad it didn’t end with Gosling checking himself into rehab. It had a great sense that both the two characters were doomed and there was nothing they could do about it, in the same sense that the world around them was doomed, as shown by lots of references to Iraq and the supposed uselessness of political dissent. Thought provoking and well worth checking out.

In other news, we have found a new housemate. In the end we weren’t as critical as we might have been, but she seems friendly, if a bit manic. We will see.

Tomorrow, I am going on strike, along with thousands of other PCS union members. This is in protest at the Home Office’s recent pay and recruitment policies. We are protesting to prevent compulsory redundancies, compulsory relocations, outsourcing and the forthcoming sub-inflation pay rise. I don’t really think they should be going on strike but a scab is a scab, so I will be staying away. I could do with the money though.
Friday, April 27th, 2007
10:10 am
Agony Advice From A Popstar
Beth Ditto has started writing an “ask me anything” column for the Guardian. You can view the introduction to it here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/women/story/0,,2066817,00.html. It’s essentially a twist on the agony aunt concept. The Guardian did a similar thing a few months ago when they hired Anne Widdecombe to answer questions like “should I let my boyfriend/girlfriend touch my private bits?”. She actually came across as a surprisingly well balanced individual ,but with occasional bursts of well intentioned lunacy.

Anyway, I can’t make up my mind about Ms. Ditto. When your unique selling point is that you’re a)fat and b) don’t care, then there must surely be nagging doubts. On the one hand, Standing In the Way of Control was a brilliant record, albeit one that didn’t deserve to be played to the point of mental agony on daytime XFM. But The Gossip still come across as a bit bland. I don’t think they have any genuine glamour. I also don’t like seeing “our” pop stars on the cover of heat magazine. I’m not even going to begin to address the “I’m fat and I don’t care” issue as it’s just too tedious.

Here are a few choice cuts from her column:

“I live with two of my best friends in Portland, Oregon, and I'll say to them, "What do y'all wanna do tonight? You want me to make devilled eggs?" And they'll nod, "Yeah, that sounds gooooood."”

“If you don't accept the obvious options that are laid out for you, it's up to you to work out where you're going and to create your own specific rules and goals.”

“I don't think that honesty is always the best policy, because you can really hurt someone's feelings that way.”

You can’t help but feel that this is going to go the same way as Alex Kapranos’ column on food or Alex James’ column on life in the countryside. The main impression from the column is that she’s an extremely strait-laced and dull lady. And that certainly isn’t how she has come across onstage and in interviews. It does rather seem like one of those eG2 sub-editor ideas that isn’t really worth the effort and money involved. Next month, expect Jarvis Cocker’s guide to contact lenses and a fashion column by Calvin Harris.

Then again, there really seems no point in getting upset at the Guardian’s uselessness. What’s the alternative? The Independent is just too dull and the front pages are so misguided. As for everything else well…I’d consider reading the Daily Mail regularly for comic value but I’m afraid I’d end up a reformed character like Melanie Phillips and end up trying to cure all my friends.

In other news, the search for the perfect housemate goes on and the stress continues. I’m just so bored of being nice to people I’ve never met before. I’d like to design some kind of written test to give people when they arrive but that would be twattish. We’re so desperate now that we’ll probably just have to take the first person that comes along and isn’t holding a meat cleaver.
Thursday, April 26th, 2007
3:45 pm
Breaking John Reid's Heart
So I’m sitting on the computer at work and somebody walks past me wearing a Hefner “Breaking God’s Heart” T-Shirt. It’s a girl. I have never seen her before. I’ve never seen that T Shirt before. I’ve never known anyone in the Home Office who has heard of Hefner before.

Immediately, I am attracted to this girl. I know nothing about her. She is not especially attractive although she definitely has a cool look to her. All I know about her is that she likes a band who I also like. I wonder if I have ever seen her out and about at Darren Hayman gigs. I want to jump up, tap her on the shoulder and say something like “You like Darren Hayman. And I like Darren Hayman. Let’s go for a drink”. Obviously I don’t. And this is probably for the best. It’s quite odd really that the mere fact of having a band in common is enough to make me think “I fancy you”. But this is quite a common thing really. Most of the things I love/am interested in have a pretty limited audience so it’s always good to meet someone who shares in them. There can’t be many Hefner fans working for John Reid can there?

So about 5 minutes later I prepare to get up and innocuously wander past her, complementing her on the T-shirt, but she has vanished. Vanished!

It’s like a sort of indie version of sliding doors. But set in Croydon. With malfunctioning lights and Grade 7 civil servants.

I need some air.
2:55 pm
The Contradiction Clause
So I’ve decided to start keeping a proper livejournal after many years of refusing to do so. I realise this is quite a mega change of tack on my part but, like the Manics, I reserve the right to contradict myself at any time.

I managed to get two sentences into my livejournal before mentioning the Manics. For this I am happy.

Perhaps I should talk about what I did last night as some kind of introduction to my day to day life. Last night is typical in so many respects. I currently live in Vauxhall. For those outside London, it may help you to know that Vauxhall is based just south of the river. It’s not a particularly salubrious area but I think it’s deeply underrated since it contains a) The beautiful Bonnington Square gardens (Bob Marley lived there you know) and b) A large Portuguese community who are frighteningly friendly and seem to be genuine believers in “café culture” which I’ve always thought was bollocks. Anyway, I like living in Vauxhall because I can travel into the centre of London in about ten minutes and drink nice European beer outside at a table whilst spluttering on exhaust fumes. It makes cigarettes seem superfluous.

So last night I went to meet my ex at the BFI Southbank. This used to be known as the National Film theatre before a marketing company got paid lots of money to confuse people searching for what is, essentially, a cinema and which is not, despite their attempts to portray it that way, an all purpose multimedia retail complex which happens to show films. Grrr.

My pint cost £3.30. Hmmm. Popped over the road to Pizza Express-I find that I am genetically programmed to order the “American Hot” pizza. Occasionally I attempt to order something else and get nervous and bottle out at the last moment. This is not a healthy personality trait. I’m probably going to be one of those sad old men who always wants to eat fish on a Friday and meat on a Sunday etc. Sometimes I think I have a mean conservative streak that is resistant to change and I don’t think this is a very attractive thing.

Night out with the ex was surprisingly non-awkward. At the same time, it wasn’t so ace as to make me think “whoa-I wish we were still together”. We’d only gone out together for 3 months and had been friends for a few years beforehand. I’m hoping that we can go back to being friends. This does happen sometimes-it’s not an impossibility. Sometimes knowing so much about somebody can mean you’re even better friends when your attempt at a relationship goes horribly, disastrously wrong. But we’ll see.

We are searching for a new housemate at the moment. This means that we are having people snoop around our house and wrinkling their noses at the horribly damp ridden bathroom. It also means we have to do those incredibly awkward interviews “so what sort of places do you go out to”, “are you a tidy person”, “what do you do”, “Blur or Oasis” etc.

(The correct answers to these questions are: “Bradley’s Spanish Bar and loads of cool indie nights I’d like to introduce you to”, “Yes-I’m quite tidy and don’t like living in a pit, but I’m quite chilled and the place as it is right now, seems about right”, “I work for the BBC as the person whose job it is to choose music for sports based programming-It was me who chose to use the Pet Shop Boys when England were knocked out of the last world cup” and “Pulp”).

I suppose a lot of this journal will be taken up with me reviewing London’s bar, club and cultural attractions whilst moaning about the big break up of 2006 (not the ex mentioned above). But what I’d really be interested in is if people recommended cool places to go in London. I could then go there and do some kind of critique.

Anyway, I wonder if anyone will read this.
Thursday, October 13th, 2005
3:53 pm
A quiz to make things a bit more "interesting"
I am fasting today and as such am attempting to pass the time. So I shall update anyone who might read this with a lovely quiz.

1. Ben
2. Bambino
3. Bozo

1. Eyes
2. Shoulders
3. Skinniness

1. Bad skin
2. Jewish nose
3. Chicken legs

1. Judaism-I am a firm atheist/sceptic but the Jewish thing is always there nonetheless.
2. Russian revolutionaries
3. East Londoners

1. The possibility of loneliness.
2. Most of Oldboy (well it's more disturbing than scary but nevermind)
3. Losing the dog.

1. Satsumas
2. Music
3. Speaking to people who like the same things that I like.

1. Tight red t-shirt
2. Blue jeans
3. Converse

1. Les Miserables
2. Blood Brothers
3. South Park: The Movie

1. Louis XIV- Finding Out That True Love Is Blind
2. Super Furry Animals-Fire in My Heart
3. Dexys Midnight Runners-Let's Make This Precious

1. Someone who likes many of the same thing I like. They don't have to have the same tastes or anything like that, but it helps if they have a similar way of looking at the world.
2. Physical compatability. Makes things so much easier and is great when you feel that someone is passionate about you in that sense.
3. Someone who can make decisions for themselves and doesn't always rely on me to decide what to do when we go out. I like people who re a bit independent and can stand up to me when necessary. It's also nice if they have interests of their own and can introduce me to new things.

1. I think girls wear clothes much better than boys. Anyone who can match their style of clothing to their particular body shape scores a big bonus.
2. Sensitivity
3. More likely to laugh at my jokes and easier to shock.

1. Writing crap poetry that I don't have the guts to show to anyone.
2. Reading
3. Collecting suit jackets

1. EAT! It's been nearly 24 hours!
2. Convince The Lady to stay in this country.
3. Move out of my parents' house.


1. Evil corporate bullshit.
2. Journalism.
3. Opening a bar.

1. Cuba
2. Paris
3. Far East
4. New York

I don't really want kids at the moment. I used to be very against the idea but have become slightly more positive in recent years. Nevertheless, I refuse to think up names already. I'll save that for when I'm 30 and have nothing better to do.
1. Although Jarvis would make a nice middle name.

1. Be a proper published writer.
2. Find someone I love who loves me and wants to be with me foreverandever.
3. Go to Laredo, britain's authentic Western town. And also that village in Wales where the Prisoner was filmed. And Ramsey Street obviously.


1. I fancy boys.
2. I rely on other people too much.
3. I have a habit of either being ridiculously happy or stupidly depressed.

1. I fancy girls.
2. I have a set of genitals.
3. I like plenty of geeky science fiction and get annoyed when people use the term "sci-fi" in an incorrect way. Blade Runner is not sci-fi.

1. Scarlett Johanssen
2. Kate Beckinsale in Shooting Fish.
3. Susan Kennedy from Neighbours.
Friday, July 1st, 2005
5:13 pm
Something which annoys me

Dear Daily Mail Letters Page,

 Why oh why oh why oh why oh why (note irony) do people on Livejournal refer to others using their livejournal usernames. As in "Met mippy today for a drink in SoHo (fat chance)". It's as if people are being reduced to their livejournal profiles, when in fact, as we all know, people are rarely similar in conversation to their livejournal identities. It's a way of reducing people to an internet character rather than a real human being. Now obviously, you might say, this is to ensure that you can go and visit this person's journal, but surely it would be better to at least put the person's real name next to the link. Anyway, that's my pearl of wisdom for the next six months when I will post again. Next time: "Isn't cellophane wrapping annoying!"

Wednesday, October 6th, 2004
11:51 pm
in case you're interested
The \\
Last Cigarette:Had a pre bedtime fag five minutes ago
Last Alcoholic Drink:Hmm, can't remember. Probably lager but i drive lots now so i hardly ever get to drink
Last Car Ride:today and every day to miserable but reliable edgware
Last Kiss:The Lady. It was a soppy goodbye one. I hate goodbye kisses.
Last Good Cry:I haven't cried since about halfway through 2002.
Last Library Book:Sadly i don't really go to libraries anymore and tend to buy books instead. I suppose if academic books count it was probably a very dull tome about land law or something.
Last book bought:Last Exit To Broklyn as part of a two person book club with the lady. I haven't started it yet.
Last Book Read:Just finished the very sad hey nostradamus by douglas coupland. It was sad. Doug c is one of the holy trinity of aouthors (him, graham greene, jonathan coe) who can genuinely make me feel very upset.
Last Movie Seen in Theatres:Collatteral (Probably spelt wrong). First half was great and then it all kinduv fell apart and got silly apart from a kickass gunfight in a club
Last Movie Rented:Oooh. Can't remember. Last dvd i bought though was the last episode of the prisoner
Last Cuss Word Uttered:"fucking". As in: "This fucking mouse isn't working"
Last Beverage Drank:Coffee. Good clean fun.
Last Food Consumed:Chicken wings. Thanks mum.
Last Crush:I fancy just about all girls these days. I'm really far less indiscriminate than i used to be. It's a late hormone rush i suppose. *sigh*.It appears i'm increasingly turning into graham greene, except without the writing talent.
Last Phone Call:The Lady
Last TV Show Watched:Six feet under. Going downhill.
Last Time Showered:yesterday. I should have one before i go to bed really. So sweaty nowadays
Last Shoes Worn:Converse of course
Last CD Played:Fold Your Hands Child you Walk Like A Peasant. And it sounded good.
Last Item Bought:A toothbrush with a revolutionary advanced brushing action
Last Download:bearshare. it almost destroyed my computer within forty minutes. My dad genuinely tried to hit me.
Last Annoyance:Having to stay in the library and work late
Last Disappointment:Prisoner final episode
Last Soda Drank:Coke
Last Thing Written:Something about whether car parks are technically roads for the purposes of drink driving legislation. Creative huh?
Last Key Used:?. Or the backdoor key. I don't understand
Last Words Spoken:"Come On Sam, inside"
Last Sleep:Til half eight today
Last Ice Cream Eaten:galaxy caramel
Last Chair Sat In:Big black swivelly thing so you can spin in circles til you get bored or sick
Last Webpage Visited:Bowlie


Current Mood: busy
Sunday, August 1st, 2004
1:38 am
A slight change of heart
OK, so I said I wouldn’t do a livejournal. And I’m not. Really. But I am possessed with the desire to write something, even if I’m not really expecting anyone to see it, unless they randomly stumble across it, which seems unlikely since, according to livejournal, I have no friends. At all. Here then, is a review of the TDK Cross Central festival, peppered with my own experiences across the night. It’s not really supposed to be journalistic, unless you count harassing Jarvis Cocker as a journalistic duty.

TDK Cross Central Festival-Kings Cross Freight Depot
August 28th-29th 2004

For all the fuss about Reading and Carnival, the number one festival this weekend is here in Kings Cross. We have everything we could possibly want. Top bands, top DJs, a fabulous venue and a buzz in the crowd that you only get when something is new and unexpected. Walk around Glastonbury or Reading and you’re surrounded by people whose constant vibe is “Weary festival goer, knows the site like the back of their hand”. Here, in the first year of Cross Central, anything could happen.

After parking the car in perhaps the dodgiest area of all Kings Cross, directly opposite an estate on “Killick Street” (obviously the ick had long been spray painted out” and walking nervously up York Way, we finally catch sight of a parade of pink and purple lights flashing into the sky. It’s like a rave. Only not full of wankers and with the happy hand of corporate sponsorship. The site consists of six mini venues and a couple of outdoor stages. The line up can best be described as eclectic. LCD Soundsystem sit alongside Kosheen.

We begin with Sir Jarvis of Cocker fame. He has heaved his lazy ass over from France to platy some records for us. In theory. As it turns out, Jarvis does not touch the decks all night but gets his mate to cue everything up and make sure he can’t be allowed to play anything at the wrong speed. The set is pretty perfunctory with a nice mix of Scissor Sisters-the first of many we would hear over the weekend. They’re a bit of a novelty band and being this year’s Electric Six is no compliment, but they make party tunes and this is very much a party. I cling to The Lady, too shy to approach Jarvis for a chat, but she has more courage than me and springs forward to speak to him, taking him warmly by the hand. Feeling a coward I slope up next to them where they are engaged in intimate conversation about the future of Pulp and Relaxed Muscle. We learn only that relaxed Muscle will not be continuing because they “can’t be arsed really” and that Pulp have not split up, and will make their next album when they’re good and goddamn ready. I make a lame attempt to bond with Jarvis over the need to keep Blondie records on hand when DJ-ing in case nobody dances. I don’t make a complete twat of myself. It’s a result. The Lady leaves with her cigarette packet signed in lipstick. Heh-like it won’t smudge.

We hear a bit of the new Libertines album in a playback session in the Kill All Hippies room and again it appears Mick Jones has worked his destructive magic and made them sound only half as good as they should. Slightly annoyed, we head over to see the marvellous British Sea Power. Until this point we are slightly underwhelmed and then.

Bang. The Sea Power have been a bit patchy live in the past few months but this is more than a return to form. I had expected the crowd to be stand-offish in a dancey way, but it turns out plenty of Sea Power fans have made the journey and there is a frenzied mosh at the front. The sound is fantastic, people are jumping, the band are throwing themselves on and off the stage, foliage is flying across the air. They play with a tightness that has been lacking until now and unlike normal, they manage to keep the tempo high all the way through the set. It ends with a memorable stage invasion, encouraged by the band. The room looks much larger from the stage. It’s all simply wonderful. Fuck off Matthew Pinsent- THIS is British patriotism.

After that, anything else can only be a disappointment. Step forward Chicks on Speed. Occasionally brilliant on record, this SHOULD be good. However, if they had spent as much time learning to play their songs as they had on their costumes, it might have been a half decent gig. As it is they are shambolic, and in a precocious rather than endearing way. The make a mess of “We Don’t Play Guitars” and hence commit the cardinal sin of fucking up their best song. It’s a mess and we leave. Come 5am, we are sleeping like babies.

Sunday is a very different occasion. The indie slant is pretty much gone and makes way for the likes of DJ Yoda, Derrick Carter and Soul II Soul. Still, two things made it worth turning up today-2 Many DJs and LCD Soundsystem. Unfortunately, the promoters seem to have missed the fact that virtually everyone on site wants to see the Belgian duo. So we’re left queuing for one and a half hours, whilst the fun takes place right above us. Pushing, shoving and hugely dangerous crowd control procedures occur. As tempers rise, the bouncers are forced aside. We rush up the steps, scared for our safety but excited at what lies ahead. We get half an hour of 2 Many DJs which is good enough to make us super-cross about missing three quarters of their set. Oh well.

I don’t expect much from LCD Soundsystem live. I know only their 2 most famous songs and their singer is old and podgy. It doesn’t bode well. As it turns out, they rule the roost, whipping the crowd into a hedonistic frenzy. Every song is belted out with as much energy as early Idlewild, but you can dance to it. And we all do. After some obligatory technical problems, they finally manage to play Losing My Edge and create the kind of “festival moment” that the likes of Colin Murray and Jo Whiley would never spot on Glastonbury coverage. The fabulous and seemingly never-ending “Yeah” brings our list of bands to see to a close. We stop on the way out to lie down and watch a performance of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest with the sound turned down and a DJ providing appropriate music over the top. It adds a whole new aspect to one of my favourite films so I leave on a happy note. If you haven’t already both seen the film and read the book, get down to HMV as fast as your legs can carry you. Oh yeah, I forgot, there’s nobody reading. Nevermind.

This was Cross Central, made fabulous by a stage invasion and a perfunctory conversation with a minor member of rock’s aristocracy. It was an original event with an intelligent and unique choice of bands. Maybe next year, they could sort out a decent sized venue for the bigger acts so we wouldn’t have to sweat so much. And make the drinks prices lower. And the security better. But I’ll definitely be back-Let’s hope those town planners don’t get their way first and knock the place down before we can repeat the whole sordid experience one more time.
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