Monday, 3 December 2007

Adventures In The Big Smoke

"Our weapons were our instruments,
Made from timber and steel,
We never yielded to conformity,
But stood like kings,In a chariot that's riding on a record wheel."

I made it there and back to London without sustaining injury, although of course not without incident.

Gin and I made our way to Newark to hop on the train and make our way down South. We were somewhat premature in our arrival in Newark and decided to pass some time in TK Maxx where I wish I'd purchased this hat:

I think it looks suitably eccentric I'm sure you'll agree. It's a damn shame it's not in my wardrobe. Anyway, after resisting the purchase of a hat and Gin not resisting purchase of a new skirt and handbag we made our way to the station where the train was running just three minutes late. All rather a smooth start to the weekend, which is a little unsettling in my world of chaos.
However, we made our way to our plush First Class seats and had the delight of being seated next to two of the most po-faced women I've had the misfortune to know. They also managed to be rude and ignorant, one actually holding a magazine between us when she spoke across the table. I mean really, did she think I gave a shit what she had to say?
The younger of the two managed to drop her case/bag on Gin's head, at which point she became profusely apologetic and proved that there was someone human living deep inside the miserable exterior.

The tube scares me to death. It's like my brain just refuses to even attempt to understand the map of the various lines. I stand in front of it and it starts to blur like a magic eye puzzle but fails to reveal any magical image. So I followed Gin around as we went off to buy some tickets to get ourselves from Kings Cross to Hammersmith. The last time I've seen queues like that I was hoping to buy tickets for Cambridge Folk Festival. We stood and queued patiently, finally reaching the front to be greeted with a screen asking us which zones we wanted to travel in. Hmm, you'd think we'd have known that, but no. We plumped for zones 1-6. Turns out we needed zones 1-2. Oh well. We made it Hammersmith, emerged from the tube and paused to check which direction we should head in to locate the hotel. At which point a hugely tall man accosted us, demanding fags whilst calling us darling. The guy towered above me and I fairly ran in the opposite direction dragging my wee case behind me.

Gin had made a rather splendid choice on the hotel front and it was above a lovely pub, the room was really good too (with the exception of my need for oxygen after climbing the stairs to get to it). I laid myself on the bed and marvelled at the fact in the space of just a few moments I'd heard more car horns and sirens than I've heard in the past few years. There's something about living in a village that makes you forget this other world exists. The sky started to darken and I drew the curtains, the room was cold and I wanted to keep the heat in. I flicked on the television at one point, sat on the bed, put my pillow behind me and leaned against the headboard. I hadn't realised that the bed and the headboard were not one. The bed suddenly shot away from the wall, leaving me flailing to avoid falling down the ever increasing gap. I'm the picture of elegance don't you know. Later as we got ready to go to the gig I pulled back a curtain to look out and remarked that it never gets dark. I'd forgotten that too. I'm so used to being able to step outside and see all the stars in the sky. Out at my barn the dark is so pervasive that you can barely make out your own hand held in front of you.

Eventually we made it to the venue. We joined yet another queue, this time to park our coats. I have no idea how the two girls checking coats in were so slow. It was painful. There can have been no more than a couple of dozen people in front of us and it took the best part of half an hour. I started to wonder if it would be possible to be in the centre of a crowd, bouncing and still wearing a heavy winter coat. I'm sure it's possible but whether you'd also survive I have no idea. As soon as the coats had been parked we went to grab some drinks and were told that if we had bottles of water that the tops would have to be removed. Err, why? We puzzled and asked and were told that they could be used as missiles. Yeah because the empty bottle would never be used as a missile. And as for the glass bottles that littered the floor later on? Hmm, I'm not sure I understand their thinking. Very soon after we got our drinks the support act started. You never know quite what you're going to get with a support act but I can honestly say that Ash Grunwald was absolutely excellent. His guitar playing blew my mind, at one point strumming so fast I couldn't see his hand.

Seriously, check it out at about 1:50. Oh my god! Obviously it doesn't hurt that he's incredibly hot with amazing hair.

So then it was time for The Cat Empire and oh my goodness how good were they? Fucking amazing! It was like being in the middle of the carnival. The gig was sold out. I danced and danced and bounced and bounced. I don't think I could ever tire of hearing Harry scat or watching Felix! It was a night for the beautiful men. Gin and I were a few rows back in front of the stage and right in the middle of the melee of dancing, I love being there getting soaked in the atmosphere, but I span round and looked at the three levels of stalls above me and every person was on their feet and dancing and jumping. It was as though you couldn't help but move to the music. The only downside was the incredibly drunk dancers who ended up slamming into you, smacking you in the head or such. One ended up almost collapsed against me repeatedly, I hope he bears the bruises from our wee skirmish!
I'm aching today from all the dancing, which is always a good sign that I had a great night!
For a good portion of the evening a pair of incredibly tall men stood behind us, talking about their desperation to hear them do 'The Chariot' (lyrics from which appear at the top of this entry), one of the guys was apparently quite desperate for the toilet but afraid to leave as he was sure as soon as he did that they'd play it. Gin and I kept exchanging glances and chuckles. Until we heard him say that if he didn't go soon it would start to dribble out the end. I collapsed into giggles as Gin advised him that peeing whilst standing behind her would be something she would be quite unhappy about. Ah, the extra entertainment.

They did play The Chariot, for their final encore of two. I love the moment when the sound of the crowd changes, there's this almost imperceptible moment as the noise changes from the applause and cheering to the slow stomp that demands more, increasing in speed until you're clapping and stamping as fast as you possibly can. As the band retake the stage you suddenly feel the stinging in the palms of your hands. I love it.

Sadly, as we were slowly shuffling off the dance floor to retrieve our coats there was a bit of a dampener on the end of the evening as we made our way up the stairs I saw a pint of beer thrown over a young lady. I went and checked she was ok, chatted with her a while, waited with her as we all retrieved our coats, made sure that someone would take care of her as she wasn't a Londoner either. The thing that got me was that she kept asking why I was being so nice and you know, I honestly didn't feel that I was being. I just know I'd want someone to be decent to me if the situation was reversed. I'm not sure what it says about the world that we are surprised when people are kind to one another. Again my village mentality where we look out for one another comes to the fore, I can't imagine being any other way.
Anyway, if you're out there reading this my lovely, I hope you're really well and that I hope you do really well at University. Lots of love and luck to you x

Gin and I headed off to find food, the gig had started unnaturally early at 6pm so we hadn't had dinner. I can't quite adjust to the fact that everything is open so late. The buses stop at 5pm around here! And places have stopped serving by the time gigs end. The only thing that was ever open as we ended an evening in Lincoln would be the late night chip shops. Gin and I headed into Cafe Rouge though and it was really very nice. A gorgeous spinach tart, followed by a trio of desserts. I'm ashamed to admit I only finished one of the trio. I couldn't even manage the chocolate cake! Then, back to the hotel and an early night although I was again amazed that the noise never stops. I don't know when my bumpkin persona will ever leave me. But I'm used to almost absolute silence and the incessant traffic and sirens stunned me.

Sunday came around, we slowly brought ourselves to life, showering, dressing and packing up. We sauntered down to breakfast and then set off for Liverpool Street to meet my niece, Chloe, for a spot of retail therapy.
As we met Chloe we endeavoured to locate the left luggage to stow away the overnight case we'd taken. We stood in yet another queue and finally the man yelled 'Next' and it was our turn.
"How many?" he asked
"One" I replied
"Are you all together?"
"And you just have one case?"
"Yes! We're girls AND we can pack our stuff into one small case!"
The look of disbelief and shock would have been less had Nessie herself strode into the room.

We wandered around Covent Garden where I think I found my favourite Christmas decoration ever. Just one of these and I could declare my house decorated. I could also however call it packed to the gills.

I'm loving the way the people posed in front so that you can get a good sense of scale. Quite considerate of them.

We wandered in and out of shops, my favourite obviously being the Cybercandy place. They sell Cookie Dough Kit Kat Chunky bars, what's not to like? I mean really. Although the Pinky bar I bought and ate earlier may have left me feeling a little sick. Turns out that mallow, caramel and chocolate isn't the greatest combination after all. My, what a disappointment that is. No, really. I'm disappointed.

A little while later a crowd had gathered and we joined them to see a woman performing on the circus silks. I was so completely absorbed in it, I only took one photograph - and it's not a good one, but I'm sharing it anyway. Oh you lucky people you.

It's worth pointing out that the only thing below her was concrete. She was holding herself up completely and it was absolutely brilliant, twisting herself up in the silks, then dropping to just a couple of feet from the floor. An unexpected delight, and something that made a tiny, tiny place for London in my heart, that you can walk around and see this. Or indeed watch the man juggling a chainsaw outside.

Eventually we said our goodbyes to Chloe and headed off to collect our case, which we could hear the man dragging in our direction as you would an excited puppy. In fact it had a habit of wobbling around like a puppy with an over-active tail. Both Gin and I took to talking to it. Hmm.

We arrived at Kings Cross early and decided to find a pub outside of the station to sit in and have a drink. And a huge plate of nachos as it turned out, my they were good! As the time for our train drew nearer we headed back to the station and as we entered we were hit with a feeling of dreadful foreboding. There was an incredible amount of people just standing around. We moved towards the boards to find the platform for our train. Oh dear. Every single train was delayed, for an unknown length of time. It's amazing how cold one's bottom can become when sitting on a platform floor for a while. Eventually they called us and tried to fit two trainloads of people onto one train. Accosted by drunken men as we stepped on the train we made our way towards our seats, hearing along the way that all reservations had been cancelled and immediately slid into two vacant seats. Relieved to have seats we relaxed and were pleased to note that the people sharing our table on our return journey were friendly. Hurrah! Sadly not everyone was feeling friendly as an altercation started in between the carriages. GNER staff seemed to appear from nowhere. We had an unplanned stop as they tried to eject the people involved. We were all thrilled for the further delay. It made for an interesting journey though. Well it would never do for it to be straight forward. I'd be lost without my chaos!

We eventually made it home, after relaying our tales of drama and hilarity to our fellow passengers and raising some chuckles, we dismounted the train and Gin thanked them for being a wonderful audience.

I had a great weekend. When's the next gig?

No comments: