Thursday, September 23, 2004

August 18 (Wednesday): Inspector 34. This morning I wake up panicking as I am not wearing my watch: did I get drunk and leave it somewhere? Have I been robbed? I awaken from a dream set in Ipswich (looking like Norwich) where I have been shopping, for part with Lulu, searching out Wayne's World on DVD. I also go into some poor bookshop, where in the sex/erotic section I find an illustrated Bettie Page and when I open it up, it is a complete illustrated history of professional wrestling.

I see the news and its kicking off in Viet-Iraq as usual. A gentleman called Moqtada Sadr is causing trouble and everytime his name is mentioned, it sounds as if some mad Scotsman has taken over.

We get some more early morning MSN with Sara this morning and she is giving me shit for the X consecutive day running it seems/feels to me. I also receive an angry Ebay related email and my piss poor start to the day is complete.

As I walk into work Sarah from Hays tells me about the firm that I am going to have an interview at this morning, I am kind of suspicious of the place because it does not have a website, which these days is now unbelievable for a company/firm not to have.

For another day running, I turn up into work slightly late. I finish the lesbian garden centre accounts and blank Leslie. I have a few words with Louise about things, not least "what happened with Jammin?". Lulu says she is keeping tight lipped, so that means everyone is now able to make up their own minds as to just what happened and to just how bad it/I was. Mean.

After the incident though, and now that people are coming back round to me, I have learned that you can get away with next to murder providing you move on, acting as if possessing a clear conscience and the courage of your convictions. You just have to ride through storms and rise above and this is how BASTARDS get through life. Kudos.

I leave work at lunchtime, just basically announcing to everybody that I am taking the afternoon off work holiday. Like a coward I do not approach any partners about this, instead I just write it in the diary.

When I arrive home there is a letter from my new property management, Pier Management group. They are kicking off because I have not paid them the ground rent. I don't usually pay the ground rent to them so I have waiting for some kind of confirmation that they are the correct people to pay but now I receive a demand letter from them, adding charges and threatening all sorts of legal actions towards including the ultimate threat: forfeiture of leasehold (ie my being evicted). I get on the phone and ask them what's going on. It takes an eternity to get through to them and this holds me up on leaving for London. When I finally speak to someone at Pier Management, the woman is fucking useless and not giving me any leeway on the admin charge they have added to the bill. And not only this, when I resign myself to paying the full amount over the phone, the scamming cunts go and add a £2.50 credit card transaction charge to the bill payment. And what can I do about all this? Sweet FA.

Oh dear, so this all puts me in the wrong frame of mind for going up to London and the interview on Marylebone High Street. I board a train around 3pm and this means I get into town around 4pm, managing to avoid a rush hour hold up. My interview is set for 5pm so this gives/lends me plenty of time to head to Dean Street and the Soho Theatre on a whim and to see whether I am able to get any tickets for David Cross (this is such a hot ticket now). Joy of joys, perhaps indicating a change in fortunes, I manage to get a returned ticket and soon I am set/made up for an evening in London watching the apparent heir to Bill Hicks. Yes! As I walk triumphantly up Oxford Street towards Oxford Circus to catch a train I find myself passing Mutya from the Sugababes on the footpath/pavement. My god, she is so small and koala bear like. I love her so!

From there, semi elated, I hop aboard a train to Baker Street. Today is the best of all interviews so far in The City, I am really blase about things and completely on time, early almost. I arrive at Baker Street, map in hand and hop off to my destination. This is now Sherlock Holmes territory and by it I am more than impressed, this really is not a part of London I ever come to. I head towards Marylebone High Street and in the process I pass Madame Tussards and instantly I know that I am on the map! Personally I think there cannot be any city anywhere else in the world as exciting as here. Eventually I find Marylebone High Street and it looks a very posh part of town, full of strange fashion “shops� that look like galleries. As I walk up the high street I pass a cafe and sat outside it is DJ Gary Crowley and by spotting this Z-list celebrity I am turned on, how fickle can Graham get? I check my phone for texts and emails and there I find an email from Azmei. Apparently she popped into the office today to see if I wanted to go for lunch. Fantastic! She wishes much luck in my interview and its gives me a warm feeling to think that she still cares. As the time soon approaches the interview hour, the clouds come over London and it is inevitable things are about to rain. I however have my own minor crisis when I reach the end of Marylebone High Street and cannot find my office destination. I eventually find a door and the tiniest of address panels for the office, I guess they don’t want to advertise the fact that they’re there too much. At this point the heavens open and drench everything insight. I stand beneath a shop cover next to the office and wait for the final five minutes to die before my interview. As I stand, I have a lady come up to me asking where Maida Vale is. For once I am able to help out a stranger as I pull out a map from my pocket.

Eventually I bite the bullet and go for the interview, search and destroy (ho ho!). The office building is strange, proper old style London but modernised at the very same time. Sneaking into such a building, so invisible from outside, I feel privileged as if let into some kind of hidden bunker secret. The building looks like Cadogan House all over until I actually enter the office floor where it is ultra modern, looking like something out of Boiler Room. I have to admit I find it unnervingly quiet as no one appears to be still at work in the office, with the company seeming so new without a website suddenly there is something really REALLY Boiler Room about the whole operation. The receptionist leads me into the meeting/board room where sat in the centre is a bottle of Evian. She asks me if I would like a drink and I say "I'll just help myself to some water". I choose the Evian, is this a psychological test and/or faux pas? And then next comes the other headtrip, where to sit? In interviews, body language I am lead to believe screams almost equally as much as speech and knowledge. So, in choosing where to sit you need to consider such factors as: which is my best side? Where will I be best lit? How will I be facing my interviewer? Blah blah blah, this is all ridiculous psychobabble of course.

After a mighty wait (weight) my interviewer eventually turns up, just as I am fidgeting with the inside pocket of my jacket of course. In the room steps a very lively man. This man looks like the singer from Black Lace gone fat, retired and become an accountant. He actually turns out to be a really interesting person that I feel I click with. Interestingly he has never qualified as an accountant and here he is looking to take on someone like me, someone eagerly trying to make it but baggaged by being unqualified. Go figure. The job sounds primarily like assisting him, him who comes over like a younger version of Jack with city versions of Melchard's little income and expenditure jobs. It pretty much sounds like a job I can do easily although the man comes over as if being what I would imagine to be a real arsehole to work. He is also kind of amusing, letting slip that he is more in place for his marketing/promotional expertise rather than his actual accounting ability/knowledge. And what makes me think this? Its when he tells me “I’ve been pissed with about 20% of my clients� and “they’re always saying to me, are you sure you are an accountant?�. This is a comical individual. During the course of the interview I do feel I give a few answers that do let me down slightly, I guess my knowledge is not as vast as I thought it was. The interview runs quickly and is pretty much over just past the thirty minute point. Once more, my interviewer heavily pushes the commuting angle, seriously questioning whether I am up to it. Personally, I think so. The interview ends and I get led out, the pair of us continuing to bullshit eachother royally. He asks me if I’m “off back to Colchester now� and I am able to say that I am staying in town which I think/expect impresses him most about me in this interview. He asks me what I’m doing and I tell him that I am going to see “an American comedian called David Cross� and he starts telling me how he has a couple of comedians on his books who are currently doing the Edinburgh Festival. He throws some names at me and I pretend to recognise them, actually convincing myself that one of them is the lady that I heard on Mark Radcliffe’s show from Edinburgh last night. I then go on to add that I once considered taking a stand up comedy course in Soho at the beginning of last year. Maybe this was a dumb move.

I emerge from the interview semi-elated, the closing exchange seemed to be a winner, basically tonight felt like rapport! As I stagger back out onto the streets of Marylebone I find myself texting everyone I know with jollies and good vibes. Surprisingly however, no one answers my texts. Outside, once more the environment has turned again and the weather has turned nice, blooming into an August summer evening. As I walk back to Baker Street I discover an Oxfam book shop and find myself going inside. What is wrong with me? I never go into second hand/charity shops, they are for the poor and the pikeys and the pikey students and the general lamestains that are from rich families but don’t work and are pseudo poor/broke. Yes, I fucking hate you! I am here however finding myself looking for a novel called Billy Budd by Harold Melville. No dice. I do instead find a Woody Allen script book of four of his movies including Annie Hall, Manhattan and Interiors. Four pounds, a bargain! I then also discover the book Eddie from Frasier wrote (honestly!). I guess it must have been ghost written. This typifies the city, this is most definitely a charity shop several levels/notches above those I experience at home.

Once back on Baker Street I find myself in the middle of a bustling gotham. The evening is young and promising, it just post work and everyone has been let out to play. And everyone is from everywhere. A lot of people have me down as close-minded, to the pointed of bigoted but here the whole multiculturalism of this place just fills me with excitement, unlike home where a coloured face is the exception, a hundred different textures/tones is the norm. I opt out of taking the easy route, just hopping aboard a train to my given destination and I decide to just get lost on purpose. I walk streets in London that I have never before and see buildings and sights I previously never knew existed and now I get a buzz on. In an act of ultimate irony, I find myself passing a building called Seymour House as I contemplate my career. This point in my life is perfect, if only I wasn’t flying solo.

I do indeed lost and it doesn’t feel very clever. I now see why some people compare London to New York, wherever you go and whatever they have done to them, tall buildings remain tall buildings. I look up, looking for some kind of beacon, some kind of monument of recognition and there I see Centrepoint in the distance. I turn a corner and find myself walking side by side with some loud Italians. And they appear as lost as me, one of them evening asking me the way/direction to Edgeware Road. Hey, I must pass for regular, a London inhabitant. Apologetically I tell him I don’t know and prey he does not pull a knife on me out of anger. Nope, instead he asks a real townie. I stagger on, losing and just as I think I am arriving on New Oxford Street, it appears that I am nowhere of the sort, I am still very much far from home.

Finally I arrive on somewhere I know, as I find myself back in the midst of humanity and the thriving retail Armageddon, here I am on Bond Street, all by accident and not design. I walk up the streets macking all the people around me, compared to Colchester this feels like another country, maybe another planet. On the streets random people are handing out bibles and I wonder what their angle is whilst also being too scared to ask. I continue up the road and I pass the street where my original interview occurred, the one with Slaven Jeffcote where I fought above my weight, held my own and only got criticised for being bedraggled. Would I still succumb to such a fate right now, tonight in a rematch? This evening the world is my oyster.

I have a real failing when I am in a good mood, my worries seem to exit me. And with worries, I mean financial concern/care/sensibilities. After hitting not one but two HMVs I find myself eagerly purchasing Wayne’s World on DVD just for the scene where Wayne speaks to Cassandra in Cantonese. Loser! What do I expect/hope to repeat the scene with Phoebe or something? Well, yes. I also snap up two Relic Hunter DVDs and unconsciously make my purchase a hat-trick of Tia Carrere DVDs. Oh my, that is what you call obsession. Still in the same shop, I find myself being hounded/stalked by security and almost not realising it until it is too late. And does he find myself doing? I am scrutinising and looking at the latest seven inch single the record label I used to run has put out. It costs £4 and looks really shitty. I put it back in the wrong section and turn around to find myself being macked by a security guard thinking/expecting me to put it into my carrier bag. Hate you!

As I walk up Oxford Street towards Centrepoint (and more importantly Virgin Megastore) my phone beeps and it is Mark asking me if I am DJing at the Cat On Form show tomorrow night. Whoops, haven’t asked. I immediately text Staff to ask and gives it a-go-go and I am set for the decks.

By now, retail begins to wail and when I find myself in Virgin on Oxford Street, I find myself rather bored and now wasting time before David Cross begins at 9pm, the time now being just 7pm. Initially I stagger into the basement Costa but the Ukrainian bean merchant behind the counter (Steve Boyle © 2004) tells me that he is shutting up shop. I still head over and use their bathroom though and when I see my reflection in the mirror I feel I have never looked more adult or more magnificent in my whole life, this is my time, I have arrived (ha ha ha ha ha!).

As I plod around the comedy DVDs looking for In Sickness And In Health DVDs my phone beeps again and suddenly out of the blue it is Syra asking if we are friends? My world, my god! This is the most unexpected text ever received by man I suspect. And sadly she finds myself buzzing on good vibes so I only reply with like, being kind saying “its all gravy�. Bad Jason, this is an insane girl I need to CUT out of my life. For tonight however, she is my latest friend.

From Virgin I stagger back out onto the seat finding the time only just hitting 8pm and me waiting forever for 9pm. Not really hungry, I weigh up my options. Number one is to go to a stinky pub to watch England v Ukraine with a bunch of strange/stranger pissheads and get my suit filthy, stinky and in dire requirement of a dry clean (yeah, like it isn’t already). Or two, get a Burger King. To me, the latter options seems/feels the least humiliating of the two and I plump for a chicken sandwich jobby with one of their McFlurry, only this is BK so its probably a King Flurry or something. I take my feast downstairs into the eating area and it is empty save for a sole man on his own. Initially this is fine, the man is scruffy and probably just some pikey student slumming it. That’s the bad thing with first impressions, you only get to make them once. As I look via my SAS peripheral vision it turns out the guy has no food and not only this, he begins to root around the plastic pot plant looking for something, like a dire cross between David Bellamy and Indiana Jones with AIDS. I much nervously as it occurs to me that this guy is obviously probably a homeless smackhead, out to smack heads. And in my suit, I look like I have money because, let’s face it, I am SO money. Fortunately my sphincter loosens as fellow patrons come into the eatery/establishment and Mr Wino disappears back off to his box home. This home however is full of chit chat tourists and soon it is apparent that I am the only English speaking person that frequents this hole. Our languages however are universal when some poor girl falls down the stairs/steps. Ordinarily I’d laugh my arse at the girl but today I am nice and her fall looks fucking painful, I am basically astonished that she can even fucking walk beyond it (I guess I gained some ankle empathy when I almost broke drunkenly broke the pair of mine this year). As I leave the fine BK establishment I find myself reunited with smackhead (smackdown) friend who is now comfortably sat/propped upstairs.

I walk over to the Soho Theatre in the full knowledge that England are beating Ukraine 1-0. This is Soho on a school night and to me it is terrifying, I don’t think I have ever really been here before. And unfortunately I have time to kill just as it starts/begins to rain yet again. As I walk up Dean Street a police car stops right in front of me. Are they out to get me or just put me in their back seat and drive me home to safety? Neither, they’re doing their routines probably on their way to Tesco Metro to get some doughnuts. It goes without saying that I get to Soho Theatre really early and stand outside alone for too long a time, looking like a stood up date (a look, with life, I have now managed to master).

Finally after convincing staff I am not some crazed stalker, they let me in. Or rather, the open doors to the public. I take my seat in the third row and sit awkwardly in my suit while hipster kids and indie rockstars gather around me. To them, do I represent selling out and being the MAN? Intimidation for the nation. Around 9.30, after a PA soundtrack of uber-college/indie rock, David Cross hits the stage. But this isn’t just David Cross, it is DAVID CROSS! And it is the old cliché of “he looks a lot smaller person�. He opens his mouth and this is not Ronnie Dobbs. He starts out by pacing and doing a lap/circle of the audience before launching into his righteous set of stories. And of course this being a hip audience, the utter Americanisms do translate comfortably even if they only garner nervous “that was clever� laughs instead of gut wrenching belly laughs. As a person used to listening to and hearing jokes of my favourite comedians mainly via CDs and TV, it is really weird taking in a set from a person and already knowing the punch lines to half the jokes. But still, fuck it, stood there right in front of me performing like a chimp is Ronnie Dobbs, the guy from Mr Show and the guy who tried to hit on Rebecca in Ghost World, this event has a really sense of timing attached to it, a real sense of now, like this month long stay at the Soho Theatre will go down in comedy history. This guy ain’t Lenny Bruce. In David Cross, certain quarter will have you believe we an apparent heir to Bill Hicks but this just is not true, in comparison Cross’s style seems to lack composure, spite and downright nastiness that Bill Hicks had. I actually think David Cross’s rambling style of performance is more akin to Henry Rollins, a lot of tame venom aimed very high and a lot of “I like you, you like me� audience interaction. Cross takes aim and fires at the obvious such as Bush and although not getting bogged down by being too specific with targets (like Michael Moore) but never really manages to get a clean/clear balance between PC and un-PC targets. Halfway through the set, after a top heavy blast at his and our president, he does some visual impressions of first a smack baby, followed by Stephen Hawking having sex and ending with an impression of a drummer with stump arms. Either way, he had to be feeling dirty at this point. Ultimately I feel the performance is/was all about being intelligent rather than being funny. And such performances do feel like a meeting of some secret society with this week’s guest speaker from out of town. I adore Mr Show and love Ronnie Dobbs but the man David Cross on his own is little more than a TV comedy writer/performer stretching too far. All that said, I have a fantastic watching a man in motion who you feel is on your side and doing all his best to make it happen. His set ends with a thud rather than thunder but I still leave having had a fantastic time, if for most his off colour sex and abortion and if for least to namedrop. One last opportunity/chance of redemption is offered when some beautiful girls with beautiful voices yell helplessly “do Ronnie Dobbs� which either Cross doesn’t hear or care for.

As I leave, his new CD is being hawked in the foyer, his new CD signed! I’m always a sucker for a souvenir (especially considering I have already downloaded the album off/from Soulseek). For the record, my CD says “sorry for America�.

I saunter out onto Dean Street in a rush to get the last intercity train back to Colchester (on its way to Norwich) but I also emerge from the show dryer/more thirsty than a Desert Rat. I get me some liquid in the Tesco Metro and as I storm towards Oxford Street, out of the sick hands of Soho, an unmarked cab shouts out to me, asking me if I want a ride. I have finally arrived!

I get my train without problem, even having time to stop for a coffee. My night ends on a high as I listen to old stylee Mark Radcliffe on the radio on my cellphone and exchange text messages with Phoebe and continues to compliment me on my Cantonese, asking me who is teaching me “all this�. All in all, it makes my hour plus train ride from Liverpool Street to Colchester feel like ten minutes.

I get home shattered but with one of the biggest smiles possible on my face. And if that is the aftermath of going to a David Cross show, I only want to do it again.

np: The Kinks - Lola


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