Thursday, 16 January 2014

New Year, New Me Allusions


First of all the title is bollocks. I’m still me, the same one from last year and previous years.

(The reason for the writing hiatus, that's what I wanted to write about here.)

In the light of New Year I can see now there’s a lot of work to be done. The world is a scary weird and collective place, and the city makes this very apparent, but that’s too much of a tangent. I have been trying for the last few weeks and days to organise a plan, and failing still to do that, I have turned back to writing. What a game plan.

Today was the first day of one of my jobs (!) I should have others in the pipeline but maybe the Fates won’t look favourably on those. I was doing a full day of postering on the streets of London, North London, well actually Camden. But man did I dig those rubber booted heels into the ground and tread on every pavement stone of the Camden Borough (surprisingly vast). Postering for one of the great comedy clubs, The Great comedy club in my opinion of London, which showcases new and undercooked talent; those who are mottled with angst and hatred and paucity of esteem.

I realised whilst doing the job solo, like some crazy bitch ninja with hidden agendas, that a lot of people are mad. Or mad stuff happens a lot. And by mad, you don’t really know if that person/thing is good or bad. Just uncategorisable.

On a double-decker bus, and a guy with his sodden beige hood up (it's been raining and apparently we Brits don’t use umbrellas, steadfastly walking through rain like some poignant rugby anthem) is singing in a strained squeal, ‘Country hooolm take me hoooooolm to a place we haaaave goooone’. I’m not going to be the one who jumps in to say it should be country roads but what’s more odd is you can’t tell if he’s sad or happy. Everyone else averts their eyes and the bus steams up with condensation. I came across a thirteen year old smoking a cigarette as if it was his last, or like he needed a big hit of something stronger but all he had left was that damn cigarette so it would have to do. He had a hood (but not up) too. A perfectly normal man walked through London Underground barriers carrying a suitcase and I subsequently saw the barriers slam shut on to his case, locking it in to position, and then I watched him having to kick it back through the gate at unbeknownst commuters who were trying to go forward. It was like a jammed pinball machine. The man kept kicking and the people kept shuffling forward then aside. He could still be there for all I know living out a minor Sisyphian struggle.

There was a record shop dedicated to heavy metal. When I opened the doors the volume of the noise from within (a din) is all I can recollect. Metal din crashed past me onto the street and probably sledgehammered some Neil Young lovers across the skull, and rightly so. A little poodle with dreadlocks came wagging its tail up to me, sniffed my boots and then went away and came back again until I left the premises with one less poster, confused. A woman yelled in to her unsuspecting husband’s face on the street, ‘That man over there - that one getting in to his car - he’s off of X Factor. Tim, Tom, I can’t remember but it’s him, it’s definitely him!’ The boy-husband couldn’t care less and neither could the blank-faced baby in the pram. The dad gave this knowing look to his kid in the basket; a look of understanding, commiseration and love all encapsulated in to the shake of a head which said, ‘Let her have her fun’. There is a newsagent off the main street of Camden where you can buy a sheep, a whole one at that, for £2.99. That surprised me. I’m guessing it’s a carcass but if it was alive what would you do with it in Camden anyway?

I distinctly remember entering 2 separate picture framing shops, and the conversation in both shops going exactly the same:

Picture Framer*: You can put it up where you like

Me: Thanks. You don’t mind how it looks? I mean, having to deal with pictures and walls every day

Picture Framer: No

Long pause

Me: So… Do you make your own picture frames?

Picture Framer: No

*Both had distinctly non-London accents, like either Welsh or Scouse or both.

Reminds me, there was a real indie aesthetic moment when I entered the room at the start of the day to pick up my load of posters. The whitewashed space was filled with five or six post-adolescent pre-adulthood types, the boys far to thin and tall to not be wearing socks and the girls looking like sexy grandmas, myself included, but we all had a take on it like “denim gran” or “prefab nana” and so on.

Me: (Feigned nonchalance in her voice) So like what do you all do?

Everyone: [Mumbles or shuffles about not making eye contact with said speaker]

Me: (Turning to the beautiful bearded boy) What do you do?

Boy: Photography.     What do you do?

Me: I don’t know

Boy: Good.     (After some thought) That’s cool

At around 4pm I made a detour under a bridge and down a canal. I had just walked in and out of a pub called The Constitution where inside time stood still, even the people in the there looked liked faded photographs, I couldn’t remember seeing any of them move. The area used to be known as Somers Town but now it’s just a forgotten throw of London inbetween the Google developments at Kings Cross and Koko in Camden. I curtailed my wander along the canalside when I helped an arts student from Central St. Martin’s write out a word in the water with string. It was an experimental graphic design project with the aim to write messages in nature, or something, and she’d used a ball of string to write out in cursive lettering the word “Wander”. Carefully manoeuvring the string in the shallows of the pondwater and fishing out a Drum Tobacco packet with a twig, I asked her coyly if the word she’d chosen to use Wander was in fact meant to mean Wonder, as in the wonderment of nature? ‘Or actually did you mean to write wander like an amble through the woods?’ There was a pregnant pause that ensued as she clicked away on her analogue camera pointing the retro piece at the reflections in the murky green. ‘I don’t really think the meaning of the word matters’, is what she said and I just smiled and changed the topic. We exchanged numbers after that and I trundled back to the city thinking of ways to claim housing benefits.