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Archive for January, 2011

Let’s Not Go To The Pendulum Club

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Dear Rachel

In Ontario in the Seventies there was a thing called the Pendulum Club.  The Pendulum Club’s deathless catchphrase was ‘Where The Single Minded Come To Swing‘.  This information was imparted to me by Vinny, who runs the Duke of Wellington public house, Toynbee Street London E1.  I had been drinking steadily through Real Madrid v Mallorca and Villareal v Real Sociadad by this point and was well lit up, so as soon as he did so I immediately set about transferring a generous amount of snakebite from my pint glass to the bar and surrounding upholstery via my mouth and nose, in the form of a fine alcoholic mist.

No one is entirely sure why Vinny and his mates left Plaistow for Canada forty years ago for a very long weekend indeed, and he is of a generation of Eastenders about whom we know better than to ask. Any enquiry usually meets with a symphony of slammed doors – large chunks of my own family are just the same.  However, perhaps a typical escapade from the halcyon days of the Pendulum Club might offer a hint: one night, a mate of his had got hold of a local lady, who was probably well ropey.   Not because Vinny or any of his friends needed to settle for less, but because in all pictures of people from the Seventies, everyone looks about 35 as soon as they hit 16. Anyway. Vinny’s mate was all set to drive the lucky Canadian young/old lovely home or whatever in his new car, which was probably a Ford Zodiac or something. ‘He didn’t get very far though’ said Vinny, his face bathing in warm reminiscence, ‘We’d cut his brake cables while he was at the bar’.

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Hairdresser On Fire

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Dear Rachel

If I can feel my hair blowing about while on the escalator at Tottenham Court Road tube after the Monday morning stock run, I know it’s time to get it cut.   This takes place at the excellent Hobbs’ in Borough Market.  Another excellent barber is – yes, that’s right – Gino’s on Dean Street, Soho, but as I spend more time in Southwark than Soho, Hobbs’ usually gets my vote.

I prepare for a haircut in much the same way as I prepare for a train journey – well fed and armed with a nice reading book – as both can take longer than you expect and you don’t want to be sitting there hungry and bored if they do.   If memory serves I was reading Stephen Louvish’s biography of Laurel and Hardy and efficiently digesting egg and chips when one of the barbers popped his head around the door of the small annexe which serves as a waiting room at Hobbs’, and in an unexpected turn of events said ‘Does anyone fancy a lager at all?’

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A Face You Could Slap All Day

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Dear Rachel

The trading year started on Saturday, after an extended breakfast and discussion of What Everyone Did For Christmas with Danny, Keith, Cartoon Ben and the Amiable Shrivelled Book Seller.   Danny’s Christmas, if his report is to be believed, involved good food, fine wine, and ‘getting noshed off by Keith’s wife in front of Shrek 2′.   Sensing that the familiar tone for the year had already been set, I removed my coat and started to heft stock about.   I wouldn’t normally remove my coat for this, but I have a nice new one which suggests that I have a pistol with a silencer attachment in my inside pocket, and I don’t want it getting ruined.  Incidentally, Cartoon Ben was in Kidulthood, you know.   I know nothing about the Amiable Shrivelled Book Seller other than his general demeanour, posture and livelihood, although I would doubt he was in Kidulthood.

My first non-customer of the year was a man whose wife had a face you could slap all day.   It was the woman’s friend’s birthday, apparently.   She loved to cook, was well known in their circles for eating a lot of hummus, and had just had a new kitchen put in.   An apron would be a brilliant gift, they agreed.    I also agreed, already sensing the direction this was going, but nonetheless pointing out one that had ‘Stop! Hummus Time!’ on it.   The woman’s friend’s husband was also did a bit of part time dj’ing, so it would tie that in nicely, too, he explained.    In return I explained that destiny was clearly with us, thinking as I did so that Destiny would be the kind of thing they’d call a daughter.

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Don’t Mug Yourself

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Dear Rachel

A favourite game of mine on the tube on a Monday morning, when I have usually been running about picking money up, dropping money off, and charging in and out of wholesalers, and have clattered onto the Central Line at Tottenham Court Road all flushed and sweaty, is to pretend to have stolen my own wallet.  Well, I say this as if I do it all the time, whereas I’ve never done it at all, but it struck me once having sprinted onto a westbound tube that if I sat down, got my wallet out, and quickly rifled through it, putting the cash and cards in my pockets, discarding the wallet itself and anything else in it on the floor and running off at the next stop – which can either be Holborn or Oxford Circus, depending on my mood – it’s quite likely that someone would think I was a crime man and call the old bill.   Finding myself subsequently apprehended, I could confuse the arresting copper by saying ‘Thank God you’re here officer – I’ve had my wallet stolen’ and then stating that my assailant was of disheveled appearance and murky repute, describing his clothes as being exactly the same as my own – rough military coat, hoodie, jeans, money belt – and pushing a barrow. ‘Exactly the same as this one’, I would explain, offering my own for inspection.

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