Archive for January 2009
Looking forward to the weekend? I had a surprisingly good night out last Friday. Courtesy of a chance chat on Facebook (damn you, gods of social networking) I ended up in the New Cross Venue with a few people I hadn’t seen in years. And you know what? I had a whale of a time.
I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised – despite being a creaky 34 I still stick my head around the doors of clubs when I can, partly thanks to discovering How Does It Feel To Be Loved? a couple of years back and reminding myself that good music, a few pints and some familiar faces will forever be a winning combination, or at the very least better than putting up with the burger train home. And while I convince myself The Venue’s part of my distant past – I certainly went at least once a week when I was about 19 or 20, walking home to Greenwich nearly every time – I was still a regular there until about eight years ago. (And how I wish I hadn’t thrown away my stash of flyers…)
Of course, many years back it was a great gig venue – I’m reading Luke Haines‘ Bad Vibes: Britpop and My Part in Its Downfall at the moment and he reminded me of the NME gig he played there with Cornershop 16 years ago (I was there…) – but some point in 1995 the place hosted its last “credible” gig (I reckon it was Sleeper, myself, playing to about 60 people while they were in the top 20) before becoming the haunt of tribute bands.
And then some point after I stopped going, more floors were added and the place just seemed to become irretrevably naff. It quickly became only known for its tacky main floor disco, and the last time I went I scurried up to the indie floor on my own after sighting women old enough to be my mother down there. Ladies free before 11pm? The 19-year-old me would have been disgusted with that, but it was probably why the 34-year-old me found himself out with six women…
Now, old enough to be the father of a patron, how would I deal with it? Answer: Mostly by regressing to the state of being 19 again. Thankfully, I was with like-minded souls who stuck it out with me upstairs, and we had a terrific, boozy time. The biggest change these days is the smoking ban – fag addicts are catered for by a terrace with an incredible view of London, from the London Eye right across to the Dome. Funny how less than half the people on that terrace appeared to be smoking…
Otherwise, all was fairly comforting – the DJ’s the same as it was years ago, except he has less hair these days, and he’s probably mellowed his selection a bit, but otherwise he’s still damn good at it. Hey, if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have had a very, very brief career (alright, two nights, probably a couple of hours) as an indie DJ at the turn of the millennium. And the drink still tastes watery but goes down too quickly… (though the older me drinks cider rather than Stella these days).
But nostalgia usually turns me right off most things – on the whole, I can’t stand tribute bands, for example – and it dawned on me very late on; probably when I was getting a drink at 3am (couldn’t do that in 1993), that I was actually enjoying it for what it was – some tunes, some company, some music, some booze, and not far from home. I even thought about applying for membership. You know what? I’d go back there any Friday, and make that upstairs bar my home again. So who’s up for it?
I’ll tell you what, though – my legs ached the next morning; and that never happened when I was 19…
Not often I’ll say this, but kudos to my local MP Nick Raynsford for having the bottle to oppose the third runway at Heathrow in parliament last night. All that on his 64th birthday, too – I hope he got time to celebrate.
Mind you, from his speech in the debate beforehand, it seems he’s cautiously keen on the mayor’s much derided “Boris Island” idea for an airport in the Thames Estuary, which seems only slightly less mad, but it’s a start.
Mind you, the honorable member for Greenwich and Woolwich has a little bit of rebellion in his background – getting himself suspended from a Cambridge college for a year for climbing up the spires in an anti-Vietnam war protest. I look forward to seeing him join Plane Stupid soon…
Sticking old mobile phones in envelopes and packing them off to be recycled isn’t new, and it’s been a handy wheeze for charities for years. But while Greenwich council struggles with its new rubbish collection system (Why haven’t I received my bin? Did you complete a bin requirement form?), helping to trash the reputation of recycling, I noticed something nifty over the border in Bexley.
There, every household is getting some envelopes from simplydrop.co.uk – who’ll accept MP3 players, mobile phones and digital cameras for recycling, and will send you (or a nominated charity) at least a fiver per item. It’s a brilliantly simple idea, reminds people that there’s something for them in recycling their old digital goods, and having the backing of a local council means more people will be able to pick up the envelopes. They’ll also take old batteries, which is a better idea than Greenwich’s solution of having bins scattered in a few random locations.
So far it’s a pilot, taking place just in Bexley and Camden, but hopefully it’ll be rolled out to other areas soon. For now, there doesn’t seem to be any block on you ordering envelopes yourself, though, wherever you live.
(Or if you’re happy with your booty going to charity, you can get mobile phone-only envelopes in So Organic in Greenwich Market which donate £2.50 to the Woodland Trust and put you in a prize draw.)
I was going to post something exciting about what I did at the weekend, but I’m too tired for that, so here’s a dull but hopefully useful post about transport.
Thinking of travelling by train on the Greenwich line, or the North Kent line, on Tuesday evening? Forget it – it’s Charlton versus Crystal Palace at The Valley tomorrow, it kicks off too early at 7.45pm, there are no extra trains, and it will be a very grim ride home indeed. London Bridge station is likely to be particularly gruesome. Seriously, forget it. Take the Tube, or treat yourself to a boat home. And thank your lucky stars you won’t actually be at the match, which promises
to be gruesome and the cause of a bad mood round at 853 Mansions on Wednesday to leave me hoarse on Wednesday after smashing the twerps from Croydon 1-0.
Want more? How about some advance notice of 10 weeks of traffic problems on Blackheath? There, you knew you’d be pleased you read this post, eh?
Oh dear – if you live in Lewisham, ask your local councillor what they were doing last night…
COUNCILLORS spent more than 20 minutes praising American President Barack Obama at a council meeting last night, leaving no time to discuss other issues affecting Lewisham residents.
A motion tabled by mayor Sir Steve Bullock to recognise the importance of Mr Obama’s inauguration took priority over other motions such as the provision of free school meals for all.
The meeting was ended before councillors had time to discuss the motion tabled by Green councillor Darren Johnson.
There was also lots on astronomy, according to another councillor, Lib Dem Andrew Milton. Good to see the wheels of democracy turning well up the road.
Catching up with Barack Obama’s inauguaration speech last night on YouTube (I saw it while working, but missed most of it by having do actually do some work), I came across this video shot in the Galapagos Arts Space, Brooklyn, which is where I spent the end of last November’s US election night.
I managed to miss the moment the networks called it for him (I was just emerging from a subway station and trying to find the venue), but someone caught it and stuck it up for all to see…
Ah…. yes. Now that explains a few things.
Incidentally, I had the good fortune to be able to see Tuesday’s events in Washington via ABC News, flicking back occasionally to the BBC or Sky. Why good fortune? ABC may have stuck patrotic images up each time a US anthem was played (a bit unnerving) but they didn’t plaster the ceremony with wall-to-wall commentary – they shut up, and let the pictures do the talking. UK broadcasters couldn’t stop jabbering.
It seems to be a habit now, BBC1 ruined its New Year moment with some arse refusing to shut up, and sports commentaries are the same. Are they so short of confidence that they feel they need to keep talking? Is it rampant egotism? Or do they think we’re thick? I suspect it’s a combination of all three…
“Those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.” – President Barack Obama, 20 January 2009
Meanwhile, in the UK, MPs are voting on a proposal to change the law to keep their expenses secret. Perhaps you might want to write to your local MP to remind them of President Obama’s words. I’ve already dropped nice Mr Raynsford a line (as has Blackheath Bugle).
Has Bafta nominee Noel Clarke (the actor and director is up for the Rising Star award) got any south-east London pedigree at all? As far as I can tell he’s a west Londoner, but this poster Sellotaped up to the winos’ bus stop in Wellington Gardens, Charlton made me wonder. Either that, or he’s got a very dedicated fan around these parts.
I wonder what the Tennants Super lads who park themselves at that bus stop would make of his work?
The death of Patrick McGoohan yesterday brought back memories for me, but not of The Prisoner or Danger Man, but of a TV ad for LBC radio which aired in 20 years ago. I bet I’m not the only London child of the ’80s who feels this way…
I saw this ad before I ever saw The Prisoner, and I remember being a bit disappointed with the slow pace of the actual opening credits (having not seen them for years, I really shouldn’t have watched them before going to bed…) Being young and impressionable, and only being dimly aware of where the scenes came from, I thought the ad was pretty amazing and it probably had an indirect influence on the career path I was to take later in life.
Strange, really, how the ad’s dated twice over now, featuring the late ’60s stylings of The Prisoner and chunky late ’80s technology. LBC’s now a different company and a very different station – business pressures and changes to technology have seen to that – and I doubt you’ll ever see a commercial broadcaster ever call itself “the information station” again.