Monday, 21 December 2015

All I wanted was to look like Elizabeth Taylor

November has been big - we watched Psychic TV play live, drank a lot of craft, went to Brighton to the Mutations Festival and drank a lot of craft. Here are some bits... 

Craft beer is everywhere. We were there first

Tapas in London in November

Big guns

Terrible rules

Dive in

A very unhealthy meal

Alfresco WC

Best TV moment of 2015 - watching Murs fuck it up



Nob rot

Butterflies in the pop up Museum of Food

Pre-Psychic TV Wetherspoon's din dins

Josh T Pearson giving it some in Brighton @Mutations Festival

Freaky fingers

Chicken cam

Mike Skinner is my hero

You might have noticed the ongoing trend for bands reforming is currently reaching ever greater and deeper lows.

As we gaze fondly towards the new hopes of 2016, it's now very much the fashion for older, not hugely successful Britpop outfits to dust down their guitars, polish those stage pants and start preparing to get back out there for one last musical hurrah. You can kind of just about stomach this self-perpetuating taste for nostalgia when it's the likes of Fleetwood Mac ironing out their differences and returning to the stage. But over recent months, bands like Space, Cast, Kula Shaker, Garbage, even Marion have either played or announced new gigs. It's like they've just cynically realised they've got more chance of paying the mortgage off by being mates and playing together than being adversaries. Which in some ways, gives cause for despair. Many of these bastards were totally shite to start off so it's hard to imagine now they're 20 years older, grey of hair and pot bellied that they'll be any more cop.

With all this aural shite flinging going on, it's ace to see someone like Mike Skinner being willing to throw caution to the wind, dump his past and live properly in the here and now. Not least because he could quite easily be one of those currently cashing his chips in. Over the course of numerous albums, he earned the tag of genius via a bedroom soul sound hybrid blending garage, house, hip hop and grime that got him in the cooler ends of the music press and also, refreshingly, in the higher end of the charts. 

Now, after some time away, he's dipping a toe into the biz again, this time with his label and party Tonga. Handily, it goes on just round the corner from ours and we went for our first trip just the t'other month. Refreshingly, our second jaunt was just a sweaty and as stupid as the last one we attended. All hail Skinner and all hail those willing to leave their pasts behind and keep it totally future... 

It's a rave dave
Pre-Tonga Saturday night power juice

Lost in the rave clouds

Arresting Murphy

Many a time the phrase, 'don't met your heroes' has been uttered by folk both stupid and wise. 'It'll only lead to disappointment' is the consensus offered up by the vibe police but sometimes fate throws them at you and it'd be downright rude to not interact.

So it goes in me current journo job where interviews with interesting and not so interesting folk are always popping up. As an interrogator, sometimes your heroes let you down, but on other occasions those you didn't give much thought to offer you enough wisdom to attain hero status. It's certainly a case of swings and roundabouts but with Roisin Murphy it was a no brainer about chatting. And lo, although we only met via the phone, it proved to be a suitably weird 30 minutes veering from cock jokes to high art. 

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Take me to Chicken Town

If you want to eat fried chicken, then there are few better places than stinky old London town. Apparently there are something like 8,000 fried chicken joints clogging up the arteries of the capital as well as those of its eaters. From Perfect Fried Chicken to Roosters via Dixie and the Chicken Cottage, all the poulet is here, being plucked, fried and dished up in greasy cardboard boxes. Plus, it tastes fucking amazing. It does - our tongues know full well, from about two years dining out in Hackney's Carolina Pizza and their infamous Chicken Lover (same price without drink mate), that it's fucking delicious. The saltier and greasier the better although your bowels will never forgive you for it.

So, with this deep-rooted appreciation of chicken lodged sloppily in our guts, you can imagine how excited we were when the Viking-like prince of prime electroclash Batty Rymer announced he, and agency Create London, were teaming up to set up a social enterprise dealing in, and you guessed it, fowl play. Their new eatery Chicken Town launched in Tottenham in November and is aimed at ensuring that the teenagers of the area will not kill themselves through their love for chicken. Instead, the team, all sourced from Tottenham, steam the chicken, cutting out the salt but keeping the flavour to offer a healthy alternative.

Having backed it in the Kickstarter campaign, one of our crew treated us to the works - a full chicken meal, coleslaw, mac and cheese, kale and a shitload of Beavertown all soundtracked by Winston Hazel's Jive Turkey mix. It was glorious - you should go, get down and stuff some steamed chicken in your life...

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Oh you think you're a writer? Why don't you tell me all your stories?

So where we've been you may or may not have been asking?

Well turns out working, drinking, drinking and drinking a bit more, then doing an online Open Uni course are all time consuming beasts.

But now that's all done we can get back to the essential vibes of staying up all night, talking utter shite.

For your information, here are the final low hanging fruits of the studying. This Start to Write Fiction thing is eight weeks long and pretty inspiring when it comes to getting your pen on the paper and making it verk gal. Make it work. This is a 1,000 word opening to a story... of some kind... ooh err...

‘Turn up. Log in. Work out’. Ed would utter the same words under his breath as he clambered behind his desk every morning. He sometimes shut his eyes as he sat down. If he closed them hard enough, he could almost imagine himself as an air pilot, about to strap himself into a plane and soar off into a sun-drenched horizon. The reality, when he opened his eyes, was always far less glamourous.

 The crumbling office was Ed’s best and worst friend. He was forced to live and breathe it, like a crustacean clinging to the underside of a clammy rock, sucking as much life from his 9-5 as possible. It sometimes gave him some much needed ballast but, sitting there amid a sea of paper and furrowed brows, he still despised what he did for a living.

 A sharp ring punctured his reverie. It was the phone screaming for attention: ‘Yes Cartwright Estates, Ed spea … hello - hi yes. How are you? Yes I’ll be there at 11. I’ll see you at the property.’ He wasn’t a natural estate agent. His sales patter was weak, his handshake too firm while his uneasy manner didn’t so much as put people off as make them feel sorry for him.

 Despite the prickles, Ed enjoyed some success in flogging homes in south east London. Occasionally, he used to brag to those in his local, unlucky enough to be lumbered with him at last orders, about his prowess at work, how he’d close in on a sale like a leopard, fangs bared, legs a blur. But beyond the bluster, the reality was a little different. Frantic buyers, usually in their early thirties, powered by a financial gift from their parents, queued at his door as he bewildered them with talk of leaseholds, freeholds and stamp duty. They threw notes at him like an elderly drunk at a stripper, desperate to get a toe on the property ladder while he signed them up, packed them in and moved onto the next willing victim. A little part of him died every time he made a sale but at the same time, money was money. That’s what he said to himself.

 Today, he had an earlyish appointment speaking to a potential vendor about putting their property up for sale. Usually Ed would wobble in just about on time, grunt a hello at his co-workers and spend the morning with his eyes glued to his emails. But today was different. He needed this house, and to sell it for a price to help him hit his monthly target and secure the elusive bonus that would be his ticket out. Despite his odd foray in the pub, he’d been saving over the past months to give himself enough money to try something else, something he thought would offer more nutrition for the soul. Ed wasn’t sure what, but in his mind’s eye, anything was better than this. He was determined that this would be his last role of the dice and this elderly seller the last person he’d take for a ride.

Ed looked at the clock on the far wall, realised he was late and stood up quickly from behind his desk, narrowly avoiding sending a pile of papers flying. He had a slurp of coffee, nodded goodbye to his co-workers and closed the door behind him. None of them even noticed him leave. As he sloped off towards his car, Ed cast a critical eye over his attire. He always felt like a school boy in a shirt and tie. His suit showed off his discomfort, both over-stated and in-expensive. Ed wore it but never quite knew how to stand or move in the clothing. His hair was slick with grease, so caked on that you’d have difficulty keeping hold of him if you’d tried to pin him down. It mirrored the way he moved around the office, not so much walking as slithering, all six feet and four inches of him, leaving a stale scent in his wake like a slug leaves a trail.

He located his battered old car, squeezed inside and screeched off towards the property. Ed knew the seller. This was the third or fourth time they’d met but Ed had never been able to convince him to put his place up for sale. It was in a great location, a prime spot with transport links and local amenities aplenty. But the old man had always left him hanging, never calling him back instead always avoiding his calls and acting increasingly … oddly until he’d get back in touch and re-start the game of cat and mouse.

He’d always found the elderly man slightly off-kilter. But Ed didn’t think too much of it. Property was a cut throat world where money talked. Being eccentric didn’t matter. Ed pulled up outside the house. As he scooped himself out of his vehicle, the rain started to come down, almost as if whoever was controlling the weather was laughing at him. Ed scrambled around in the back seat for an umbrella but to no avail. Instead he took shelter beneath his clipboard as he cowered around for the old man. He was nowhere to be seen. But he did notice that the door of the flat was open, gently bobbing in the breeze. Only he had keys. He knew that for a fact. Or so he thought. Ed opened the gate and walked up the path. As he got closer, it became clear that the door was open but there was no sign of forced entry. Whoever was here had a key. And carelessly, had let themselves in without shutting the door, as if they didn’t care who knew they were here… Ed stopped outside the open door, took a deep breath and stepped inside…