Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Music, loss, laughter and some conversation dégoûtant (part one)

I need to take you back to last Thursday. Actually I need to take myself back to it. The last four days proved to be fairly full on and I'm hoping recollections will be prompted as I walk (Well, I say "walk") my way back through what I laughingly describe as my career. I'm mates with a bloke called PJ who runs a record label called "Dirty Water". He is not to be confused with another bloke I know called PJ who lives in South London and according to my mate Terry, looks like he might have been in "Dances With Wolves". PJ the former had let me know that one of my favourite bands, King Salami & The Cumberland 3, were playing with a Japanese three piece called Minnesota Voodoomen (Of course) at The Stags Head in Hoxton. On the map it only looked a stone's throw from Essex Road station so I hatched a cunning plan to drive over to Steve's pub in Luton, drag him down there and then on our return stay over as I had an ulterior motive. Steve is also a fan of KSATC3 and took little persuading. My car had been serviced and MOT-ed earlier in the day and miraculously had come in at  under thirty grand so that was transport over to Luton sorted.

I got over to the pub a shade after six to be met with a bizarre groaning by pretty much all the regulars in the pub who then talked about me rather loudly to each other in the hope I would join in the conversation. I'd not been in there since before Edinburgh and clearly they had missed me. Mex (The one gentleman among them) bought me a Guinness. Steve and I left before half past and got to Luton bang on time to get the 18.42 to St. Pancras International. It arrived. It then spent ten minutes at every subsequent station because of signalling problems at Blackfriars. I hate that journey at the best of times as it's a real dawdle into London (not like the magical east Coast line that I enjoy to and from Herts & Kings Cross) but this was made particularly bad by one of the most extreme eejits I've ever heard get on a train. He was with two women. It became apparent over the (hour and ten minutes plus) long trip that he was a trained chef, lived in London, had been single-handedly responsible for the success of some barbecue thing on Brick Lane, had ripped a guys ear off, bitten another guy's nose off, didn't exactly speak the Queen's English (When "like" became "lark" I have no idea) and was liable to go off at any point, man, but thanks to a combination of therapy and having to take some very strong tablets for the extreme acne he had suffered as a teenager he could now use his brain and exploit his interpersonal vocal systems to talk his way out of extreme violence. His words, not mine. No one else on the train was expecting the line interpersonal vocal systems, believe me. Most worryingly of all the girls hung on his every word, even when he told them that he had only ever hit one woman himself but she deserved it.

Things improved when we got off the train. We were straight on a tube to Highbury & Islington, immediately onto a train to Essex Road and then immediately walking down the road towards the pub with time to spare for a rumoured 8pm start. Obivously I had led us entirely the wrong way. Obviously when we then got back on a bus back to where we had started we overshot our stop. Obviously we very quickly gave up trying to be clever and got a cab. Obviously our taxi driver wasn't sure where the pub was. Obviously Steve came to our aid with his iPhone thingy (I still hate them but this one got us out of a pickle) and obviously when we did get to the pub we walked in to find King Salami had just finished sound checking and wouldn't be starting until 9pm. Panic over then? Not really.

The Stag's Head is great. The beer is really good and (for London) relatively cheap. The bit where the bands go on is a pretty tight spot but (right down the front on the right) there's a handy little table to put your beer. There's a lovely big outdoor bit with a massive orange Opel Manta in the middle of it. It's also a very good place for Steve to drop around sixty quid on the floor and it unsurprisingly vanish, presumably into one of the regulars' pockets. We didn't notice that had happened until after King Salami though, who were suitably brilliant. Ooh look! I took photos!

King Salami And The Cumberland 3 - yes they are THIS bizarre.

And Seb the lead singer is good at pretending he has severely injured his right leg

And sometimes they wear comedy Native American headgear - you can only get these photos if you have gone to the front so there is somewhere to put your beer.
After they'd finished I went into the beer garden to have a chat with Eric the drummer and his wife, Maki. It turns out they are fans of "Paul B.'s Last CD" and particularly like the track "Skegness". He gave me permission to chat her up (He had once chatted up my wife while in a band called The Parkinsons and when, a year later, I told him we had recently split up he said simply "Great - now I can chat her up legitimately"). The universe was once more in balance.

Eric, Maki and myself - she was quite genuinely a rose between two thorns in this photo.
Steve and I then returned inside where I explained to the rather voluptuous assistant manageress that he had lost his money. She felt so sorry for him that she would later give me a hug when I left. He lost all of his money, I effectively copped a feel off the bar staff. Some guys get all the luck. We didn't like the second band as much as we thought we would so we left early, got a cab to Old Street tube and had a ridiculous (and vaguely drunk) conversation that can't be repeated but was found very entertaining by one particular woman sat behind me. I can't go into more details than that, sorry. Another terribly slow train later we got to Luton where we got the remaining chicken from a budget KFC substitute, took it back to the pub and scoffed it like pigs. The long-suffering Lisa was there to furnish us with booze and around 4am I told Steve that no, I didn't want any more red wine and buggered off to bed. I had an early start.

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