Sunday, August 22, 2010

London Calling

The best thing that happened in London was firing the cork from a four pound bottle of fizzy wine bang into the middle of the pond below Camden Lock, scattering the swans while a pack of wasted youth beat the guts out of 'London Calling' on their acoustic guitars. I promised at one point that I would use this blog to write about my feelings, and the feeling I had then was one of the ones that the Germans have a word for but we don't - the nostalgia for a thing that never happened. Because when was their age, I didn't know all the words to London Calling, or even any songs by the Clash, but I sure could beat the guts out of an acoustic guitar. So to make it even better, we joined in on the bits where you howl 'I live by the river' and the night was pretty much perfect.

The worst thing about London is trying to drive in it - especially in Darth the Merc, who is left hand drive, and has a tendency to take the bit between his teeth when he sees a car with French plates. Mavis the authoritarian GPS was intermittently helpful, but she has a fondness for uncontrolled right turns, and she reserves the right to change her mind in the middle of roundabouts. Basically, we gave up on the driving thing pretty early on, and got to all of the gigs on the tube. I really like the tube - it's a great excuse for grown men in suits to run down really long flights of stairs and bump into people. I think Londoners would be a lot more aggressive above ground if the weren't allowed to push each other around in the subway. On the whole, though, I found that the best way to travel was to walk around central London pretending to be in a book. You've got a lot of material to choose from in that town.

Senate house at London University - the
inspiration for the Ministry of Truth in 1984,
and it's in the Day of the Triffids too.

We discovered pretty quickly that if you want to make money playing music in London, the best approach is to take all of your instruments and gear to the pawn shop on the morning of your first show. This will give you a little bit of ready money, and you won't have to pay any sound engineers or anything for the duration of your stay. Fortunately, making money is only about fourth on the list of ambitions for this tour, after growing a beard and a couple of other things. That meant that the shows were all really pretty choice, especially the Spice of Life in Soho, where apparently Bob Dylan and some other famous dudes used to play when they were considerably less famous. They like to claim that this is the bar where the Sex Pistols played their first and famously poorly-attended show, but seriously I don't think it was. There are so many places in the UK that make this claim that it's no wonder there were only seven people at the show - the Pistols must have been playing in about a hundred venues across the country on the same night, so the audience was bound to have been thin on the ground.

Hyde Park

We're in Paris now, and it's a pretty OK town if you like to watch people pashing. Personally that's something I can take or leave, but I understand that some people are into it. Also you pretty much have to like churches and the smell of ten million people pissing under bridges. The churches are really quite fine though.


  1. That church looks magnifique!

    Hey a deer is "le cerf" (if it's a boy), hope you got to pat the cerf yesterday!

  2. Speaking of deer, you guys should meet our latest Berlin flea market acquistion - a miniature stag made out of shaped leather. Tim has named him Reichstag. Well, he's miniature in that he's not life-sized, but he's not tiny, either. It would probably take 120 or so (animate) Reichstags to inflict any real damage on a real stag, and even then only if they worked together, by forming an attacking phalanx, or similar.

    Sam - what is this German word? Sounds like it would give Schadenfreude a run for its money!

  3. I patted him! Actually he kissed me, which was nice. I will provide further details when my blog catches up with my life - I'm currently about a week behind, because of like time zones and stuff.

    Helen - the word is, I think, 'sehnsucht,' but I learnt all of my German from Google Translate, so it probably isn't really.