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Archive for January, 2012

Margarine Dreams

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Dear Rachel

Whenever I think of supermarkets, I think of slow people with fat arms putting huge bags of crisps into trolleys, and I therefore avoid going into them whenever possible.   This means that until last Wednesday I had no idea that you can’t buy margarine anymore.   This in turn means that an austere speciality of my old dear’s and feature of my childhood – dry Weetabix with margarine on top – can sadly no longer be prepared.   It’s difficult to spread margarine on dry Weetabix, as they are fragile and break easily, with the result that the recipient of such bounty is often left sitting in front of Blue Peter with a joyless bowl of wheat dust and hydrogenated fat.   As I write this, it’s just come to mind that I also ate dripping as a child, which is revolting.   If you’ve never eaten dripping, think of things that drip, and then think about how hungry they make you feel.   It isn’t even an appetising word.   How my arteries survived adolescence continues to baffle the medical community.

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Collins, Hughes, and the Camden Nepalese

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Dear Rachel

Some years ago, I consumed an estimated seventy bottles of vodka and five hundred Kit Kats on a ninety day festival trading tour with the Camden Nepalese.  Midway through, concerned that we hadn’t had quite enough vodka yet and remembering that it’s always better to be safe than sorry, we blagged our way backstage at V and swiped most of Babyshambles’, too.

Although I found myself happily free of lasting health problems when the whole remarkable jaunt finally shambled to a close, I retained the Nepalese habit of rubbing the proceeds of the first sale of the day across my forehead in order to – so the superstition goes – encourage more to follow.   I was explaining this last week during idle discourse with a common shop-girl of my acquaintance.   Our conversation was made more interesting than usual on account of the fact that she’d had some stitches in her mouth earlier that morning, which rendered her unable to move her jaw or tongue in order to facilitate speech.   A side effect of this was that she spoke in exactly the same way as one of the endless parade of Yorkshire terriers trained to say ’sausages’ on demand through bared teeth that were a staple of early evening light entertainment shows in the 1980s, which is an unfortunate look for someone working in a patisserie.

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Goodbye, American Jeff

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Dear Rachel

When Camden is as unfashionable as it is at the moment, the Good Mixer – a well known Camdenite pub at the end of Inverness Street, midway between the market and the tube station – is an enjoyable place in which to take refreshment. I myself often do this of a Saturday evening, having first attended to commercial interests in the Lock market, and usually find myself in the company of the Goat Bag Man, American Jeff, Wolverhampton Mike, Bibbsy and sundry other traders. The evening is usually punctuated by a wandering Camden victim called Blue, who simply isn’t funny enough to be as intrusive as he is although, to his credit – and I have a soft spot for the relentless – this does little or nothing to stop him.

However, it is to American Jeff that our attention must turn on this occasion. Jeff has the ultimate showbiz marriage of abrasive voice and ill-advised subject matter, the overall social effect of which is quite remarkable. A conversation with him is strangely like being repeatedly slapped round the face, and you find yourself unwilling to disengage in case he jumps on you and continues to shout words into your ear as you walk off towards the tube station, go down the escalator, and make your way home.

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