I sit down in The Rocket next to a guy who it later transpires is called Tim. I’ve ordered a Carslberg and a cheap burger and I need somewhere to sit. I ask the two guys if it’s okay to sit down at their table. Friday and the crush of bodies isn’t as thick as I’d expected. There are still no free tables though. People are being served. I’d just been listening to James on my iPhone preceeded by Phoenix. I walked right past Pret without stopping for a little mini sandwich. They are playing a game with each other and one of them leans over and asks me where the toilet is. The sign ‘Toilet’ at the far end of the room is huge but his friend has told him they were at the other end of the pub. We exchange a momentary, conspiratory glance. I defer to the joke, but the guy tells me he’s about to piss himself and so I tell him to turn around. One of them is from Wolverhampton, and grew up not more than 10 miles from me. I tell him I’m a West Brom fan and he tells me he thinks he can see a free table at the other end of the pub. They have been drinking since 11 am and I keep tasting random violence at the back of my throat. One of them is from Derby. They’re drinking hard, pints and black Aftershock shot, they top and tailed last night and one of them woke up with a "stonker". Was it a tent, was a sheet, one of them mused. He couldn’t tell. I don’t hazard a guess. We swap stories, I eat a chicken burger, I give them some chips and wait for Brian to turn up. They tell me what their plan is – to pay £1 in a pint cup and watch girls strip at The Scotsman. They’d earlier been at the Big Chill House but it had been empty. We discuss the roof terrace there. I talk, I give them the requisite banter. I can feel my pronunciation changing and in a way it sickens me. Legend, he says. You’re an absolute legend, to be fair. He shakes my hand a lot. He ends our night by giving me a hug from the back and I wonder if there hasn’t been some sort of crossed wire. London, then, where you meet people from your hometown in The Rocket on a Friday night and get a round of Jagermeisters in and neck them and feel the tension headache for tomorrow already start to build and then we’re walking, walking all the way up to Mornington Crescent and Camden and I tell Brian we probably should have taken the Tube all of the three stops but at least we get to see the new cycles, Boris Bikes. They’re really heavy. You’re two boys cycling through West Bromwich town centre and one of the bikes is a racer. Barclays branding, big tyres. The sun is setting as we walk Camden Market and the Proud Galleries, boho and indie people everywhere and then Brian tells me we have Gold Passes to Phoenix and it seems groovy to be up on the balcony but they look like their having fun in the pit and I get at least to stand 10 yards from Fearne Cotton and her make up woman, waving and wafting around like a butterfly with a fix up stick or whatever its called and Fearne is really small and I reckon she’s really bored. I want to throw my pint into the crowd. I want to thrown my pint over Fearne. It’s not a pint. It’s 440ml of Red Stripe from a can and it’s nearly £4. We have GOLD passes and we get a great view and everyone looks really cool. The meeja types up here are well dressed and I realise I’m in the meeja too. Maybe it’s different when you publish monographs and have a drink problem and feel the dull haze of accumulate dissolution weigh heavy around your neck. Phoenix put on a great show. I think of that scene in American Psycho where Bono looks at Bateman and Patrick gets a hard on, rock hard and painful and its a connection but I can’t make a connection when I’m this drunk and unfocussed and so we stumble to a pub to get another Guinness and I go home on the Tube and think about the two blokes I met in the The Rocket and what they got up to The Scotsman with the 50p strippers. I think of a corruscating passage from Martin Amis and then I think of something else and then I get tired of thinking and I’m not entirely sure the thoughts are all that rewarding when all you want to do is deconstruct everything and everything is just words in big amalgam masses and at least I didn’t open that last bottle of Budweiser 66 which, sweetened, lightly carbonated and 4% abv, is a terrible beer.
I’m walking through Genoa with my clothes stuck to me in black espadrilles and River Island clothes and it’s 31 degrees at ten o’clock at night and I pay 28 euros for three courses, water and wine and am I going back for the Tube, for the overpriced shit wine, and black snot? For Cameron’s
Big Society? Genoa gave the world pesto, banking and blue jeans but I take it on trust from the tourist leaflets and it’s
gullibility to think the grass is greener; the grass is just
I drink an old fashioned and I get antipasto and think of bars in London with their 9 pound cocktails of nothing and I’ve been had, it’s/
and someone knows
what the joke is/
The joke isn’t funny anymore.
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You make a decision on the paper you pick up. The train is two minutes away; the platform is approaching full. People mill about but all you can really see are two train tracks heading off into a distance. Two parallel lines. There’s someone talking loudly into Nokia handset, moving the microphone closer to their clacking jaws so that it gets a full blast. There’s a decision hanging in the air. You can’t deal with the bus wankers. You dont like your new bag. You’re burdened by the pointless guilt of it all. You turn to page ten and there’s a review of a new restaurant where the wine costs as much as the shoes you’re wearing. You ponder the levels of guilt, guilt by association. You know that the train will be full when it arrives. That much, you cling to. These things, you cling to, the fabric of a life. Threadbare, waiting for reupholstering, furniture skeletons making silhouettes in the varying light of variable days. By accumulation, the sum of our parts is revealed.
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