bored of excitement – the griefjunkie blog 

A Table By The Orchestra

Dear Rachel

An unexpected feature of Christmas trading was the amount of naked photographs of myself I was asked to sign in the grisly aftermath of the Greenwich Market Boys charity calendar, which I think we’ve discussed before. Usually, I apologised for the poor quality of the other models, who have reduced the thing to the status of a Victorian freak show, with the exception of Danny, whose picture has rather amusingly seen his fan base shift from badly tattooed forty year old Lewisham based grandmothers to physically impressive and sexually terrifying European homosexuals. My old dear, who is neither of those things, commented that he looked like ‘a dark Tom Jones’, which I’m not sure is a thing you can really say anymore. This was in November, and I replied that if I found myself calling him Dad over Christmas dinner I would disown my entire family.

Happily this didn’t happen, but stars of yesteryear featured again the next morning when, cycling at speed through a place called Iver Village before dawn, I absent mindedly rode into the back of a parked car while struggling to recall the lyrics of Russ Abbot’s extraordinary 1984 hit ‘Atmosphere’ in order to pass the time. It was a strange accident: essentially, what happened was that the car pulled up suddenly, and several hours later I rode into it. It would’ve been an awkward thing to throw away the gift of life over, and fortunately neither me nor my bike were harmed. The car was fine too, which is a shame because it was an Audi.

I was at the time returning home from Langley, where my old dear lives. A feature of this ride is the drag along the A4020, which threads together all the west London overspill towns between Ealing and Uxbridge that have given up on themselves. Well, this isn’t entirely true, as Southall has a good spirit to it. The inhabitants at least look happy to be there and although they are still as fond of wandering out in into the road in front of you as they are in central London, in Southall they apologise, step back, and wave you through. Incidentally, the first man in London to carry an umbrella is buried in Hanwell, a couple of miles further along in a drearier stretch of the A4020, in the crypt at St Mary’s. He was Jonas Hanway, and after giving his umbrella its London debut in 1750 had to endure twenty years of Hackney carriage drivers deliberately trying to run him over whenever he used it until his somewhat fruity idea caught on two decades later. I mentioned this to Danny recently, two hundred and sixty four years later.

‘Sounds like a bit of a bender to me’, said Danny, with the ghost of an eighteenth century cabbie coursing through his veins and sense of propriety.

‘For wanting to keep the rain off himself?’ I replied, feeling I should defend Hanway, despite never having owned an umbrella myself on account of the fact that they’re a bit fussy, ‘what if he was wearing a nice coat?’

‘Yeah, only a bender would wear a nice coat in the rain’ said Danny, with an expression that suggested he had won a conclusive victory.

I decided to agree because it makes things easier, and left him to his own devices. On this occasion, these consisted of draining a can of tuna into a cup of coffee belonging to Keith, who went mental when he drank it. I felt this contributed little to the dignity of either man, but the shouting was impressive and audible from my stall near the food court.

And so began another year. I don’t know many people who enjoyed 2013, which was largely dismal and marked by unscheduled deaths. These included that of our very own Vinny, landlord of the Duke of Wellington public house, Toynbee Street London E1. I last saw him a few weeks before he died, when he claimed to be ‘…in good shape. Oh no hang on, I’ve got cancer’. It is strange to now not hear the traditional ‘Fellas – whaddaya need?’ greeting, the offers to find us ‘a table by the orchestra’, or the banning of swearing and profanity when my old dear visits for an afternoon gin. I recall one Sunday when someone from the council spent over an hour trying to get Vinny to confirm his own name, age, natural hair colour or, after a while, even that he existed at all. ‘I might be a ghost for all you know’ he said at one point, going on to insist that he wasn’t signing anything unless there was a box marked ’supernatural being’. I can only advise the recently deceased to take a good book along with them to Heaven, as there may be a bit of queue at the Pearly Gates if he’s the same with St Peter.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

January 8th does seem a bit late to be promoting a calendar, yes, but if you had any kind of New Year at all you’ll only just have got up anyway. It can be purchased here, and it’s for a good cause and all that. Nice calendar too, although the running order is poorly thought out: my good friend Ray opens the show in January, then things build gradually until April when I appear in my breakthrough modelling shoot. You might as well chuck it away after that, to be honest, because otherwise it’s like buying tickets to see the Beatles and finding out they’re supporting the Dave Clark Five.

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Photards: This weeks trundle through the gallery consists of  -

Top: Having a naked Ray beaming down at me as I shuffle around the kitchen in the morning has taken some getting used to. Sometimes I have to turn him to the wall if I’m not wearing much as it doesn’t seem right.

Middle: Small boats made from sweet wrappers during post Christmas dinner conversation. Subjects this year included Keith Moon, George Orwell, the relative fortunes of Spurs, West Ham and Norwich City, the Varsity Boat Race, socialism in the 1930’s, the Situationists, arson, the overexposure of Morecombe and Wise and the names of childhood pets, all to the traditional musical backdrop of Chas n Dave. This is the same every year: Greatest Hits and A Cockney Christmas on random shuffle. Lovely. Depending upon timing v merlot consumption, Margate, Wallop and Snooker Loopy in particular are subject to a very spirited rendition indeed. It’s a double edged sword though: if Ain’t No Pleasing You comes on late in the mix, everyone bursts into tears.

Lower: I quite like these three porcelain statuettes on an antiques stall at Greenwich market one Friday. ‘I think they’re see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil’ said the trader concerned. I mentioned that there was nothing about them to suggest this. ‘They’re probably thinking it, though’, he replied. I don’t do more weekdays than I absolutely have to.

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