Sunday 23 June 2013

London Calling

It’s been a strange few months of hospitals, high streets and an awful lot of hooha. Poor Dom was taken ill and spent a week in a medical facility that seemed a million miles from anywhere but especially from here. This unforeseen sojourn sadly for him coincided with the bank holiday, the only free weekend before a very busy period. Work has been intense and a little surreal as I’ve spent the last week or so installing an indoor garden in a studio in Covent while yearning for my real little garden in Belleau. Oh and on top off all this, we’ve moved to a new flat in London

London is a place I still love, but like with any long-term relationship it’s sometimes soured by familiarity, all those cute nuances that you found so appealing at the start of the romance annoy the hell out of you now. It’s a city that sucks you back in and sucks away any amount of patience you’d built up being away from it.  All I could think while trying to move around the West End was for a city of hurry up there sure are a lot of lumbering people here.

It’s very unusual that I’m in London at the weekends so I’d forgot how it operates, people go about their business with intensity and no small amount of showmanship. As I travelled into town in the early mornings to work, I passed through Regents Park, watching the exercising tribes, the joggers, the skaters, the cyclists, all, almost sweating but not enough to spoil the designer sportswear. The dawdling young created a slalom course to the runners, while they moved their legs slowly but kept their thumbs in shape with rapid ‘textasising’.  

Then on to the heart of the city with the coffee shop chains serving the early rising tourists or the late to bed revellers, the tired looking traders trudging head down to work while the traffic tunes up for its noisy opera of revving engines and hooting horns. I must admit all this activity gave me teensy tinge of sadness, that is the memory of youth and the good times had.

I went out last weekend, watching the nectar rich bars delivering buzzing and bumbling drones with uneasy, queasy flight paths to the fast food stops to pick and then puke their greasy choices onto the ever-growing mounds of litter.

I rubbed shoulders with the young and desperate to be different, as long as you’re in a gang of similars that is. In my day it was no less tribal but I was a part of it. On Saturday though I noticed something, the invisibility of the grey moving unnoticed between the flocks of the coiffured and quiffed. Watching these older wraiths silently slipping past the noisy preened and pickled made me feel I had some sort of 6 sense until I had the awful realisation in a Bruce Wills fashion, that behind the beard, beneath the hair and under the Paul Smith jacket I was one of them

Age can be a strict tutor, the lesson the realisation that I have nothing to offer but memories, nothing to give but bad advice, a man out of place and out of time, ‘why’ instead of  ‘why not’ ‘who’ instead of ‘its you and of course you can come in’ late but not in the fashionable way.

However, it wasn’t always like this, there was a time as a young club promoter when this town felt like mine and I just chose to share it with everyone. Wrists ached from nameless handshakes, lines were jumped and drinks were free and free poured, not a door closed or a bar dry but this is a game you have to keep playing, nobody saves your place in this queue.

It’s a marathon and a sprint, a tough race to run, you have to train endlessly with smiles and all the latest styles. You have to push and gush, check your emotion in with your bespoke jacket and always look like you could spend a packet.

There was of course the winners and the losers, the losers boozed and oozed charm but didn’t hear the alarm and clung to the ship while the winners left with the rats for their careers and sneers.

Admiration turned to aberration, not dinner party material but strangely still cocaine fuelled dinner party conversation. A middle class medal to be worn until the kids wake up and the business trip calls.

It’s amazing how quickly high on hope can become high on dope, a little pick me up becomes ‘should we pick him up’,

Wide eyed with wonder becomes wide eyed with powder and no matter how glamorous the surroundings the toilets soon were the best seats in the house.

The phone rang like tinnitus, pleading for attention and a place on the guest-list no matter how pissed. Their demands ate answer phone tape and fuelled phony friendships. 

If childhood is remembered through days, youth or at least the impression of it is recalled through nights, nights where music played, lights flashed and threw possibilities in and out of focus, but maybe age isn't so bad as I can say thanks for the memories but an even bigger thanks for the safe haven I now have to reminisce from.

This is dedicated to all those who didn't make it.