bored of excitement – the griefjunkie blog 

Fun With Electricity

Dear Rachel,

Anyone who can remember the documentary that Channel 4 unexpectedly made about us will recall the first heat press we ever had, with which Gerry and I prepared t shirt stock for that summers’ festival season.   It had a strange malevolence about it, and would crackle and hiss of its own accord, which as I nervously explained to the watching millions gave it a certain charm, like a vinyl record.   The other thing it would do is play the Chinese national anthem every time the pressing process was complete, meaning of course you had to stand to attention and observe it, and which got a bit tiring after the several thousandth rendition.

As annoying as it was, however, we needed to have it, because you can’t not have one in our line of work.  For the unfamiliar, a heat press is not a complex piece of machinery: it comprises two heavy iron plates, each containing a heating element, thermostat and timer, so that a desired temperature (200 degrees centigrade in our case) and time (fifteen seconds for us) can be set.   The iron plates are then clamped together, usually by a hydraulic assembly or physical force (if you’re me) while steam and (fingers crossed) non toxic fumes go all over the place.    I have been known to take my underwear from the washing machine and speed dry it in the heat press, a process which also renders it pleasingly warm.

Sharing and donating equipment is commonplace among traders with similar businesses, and when I finally treated us to a new, less annoying press (which is still going strong, although due for a refit) I gave the old one to Gary and Lawrence and Lawrence.   As I may have explained before, Gary and Lawrence and Lawrence are two people, but one of them – and I’ll let you guess which one it is – has to everything repeated twice in order for them to hear it once, hence the nickname.    Anyway.    They used it for a while until they too could not stand the endless repetition of the Chinese national anthem and gave it the then new kid on the block Alan Killer Strawberry, who had just arrived in the Camden Lock East Yard.   By this time, the slightly sinister crackling and hissing had been joined by occasional sparking and smoking, although the official prognosis was still that it was probably just all fine and nothing to worry about or anything like that.

I am in Camden often at the moment, dropping off stock and generally wheeling and/or dealing.   Last week, this enabled me to catch up with Alan, which was handy as I’d like to enlist him to do some work with us next year.   Without revealing too much, it is stuff that will need printing, but that I don’t actually want to print myself: therefore it will need to produced with someone elses’ heat press.   Someone else, for example, like Alan, as I suggested to him during the course of the discussion.   I had until that point forgotten about the eccentricities of our old press, although Alan hadn’t – which is understandable, considering it had suddenly melted in a big electric explosion one day, hurled him eight feet across the room, wiped out his short term memory for several weeks and, according to the ambulance services, provided enough of a jolt to cause certain cardiac seizure had he not been wearing trainers.

I suppose you shouldn’t larf, but you shouldn’t eat fried food either, and everyone does.  Eating fried food would, however, be difficult if you were bent double chortling along at an account of a near fatal malvoltage episode which happened to a valued acquaintance, as I’m slightly embarrassed to confess that I was as Alan retold the incident.  Alan is an internationally reknowned decent bloke, so he started laughing too: I am a git, so I just carried on.    In this regard, we were both playing to our strengths.   I did point out, though, that he might want to avoid watching too much of the Olympics when it comes to London, as China have a strong squad and are bound to win a lot of medals, meaning potential horrific flashbacks what with their national anthem playing all the time and all that.

Twitter: Lordy.  There are more people on the Twitter page than in the Facebook group now.   #whodathunkit

Facebook: Down to 116 at one point, but then someone joined, so back up to 117.   Not sure who it was, might have been Audrey Trapolski, who seems like a nice sort.   I’m quite pleased Paul Sutton is still with us, as he looks authoritative, but kind.  I like to think we could go to him with problems and he wouldn’t judge us.

This week’s golden moments from the photographic archives are:

Top: Dave, who is a freestyle mentalist, at Keith’s stall.   The last time Dave was at my stall he gave me Theo Pathitis’ phone number and promised to organise me a £1 billion loan.

Middle: The Elephant’s Head, Camden High Street.  This isn’t supposed to be some kind of moody effect – I just have no idea about photography and as a rule find people who do really quite profoundly dreary.

Lower: Keith’s stall again, this time with a sale sign on it.    He wasn’t having a sale.


  1. Alan Burdett

    Nov 15th, 2010
    11:07 am

    Brilliant!!! :D

  2. Paul

    Nov 15th, 2010
    3:31 pm

    Thanks. And sorry again for indirectly nearly killing you, although I can’t promise it won’t happen again at some point.

  3. Rachel

    Nov 24th, 2010
    12:18 am

    is the heat press in the film? when can i see the film??? i don’t actually know the chinese national anthem. it’s time i learned.

  4. Paul

    Nov 24th, 2010
    10:41 am

    Yep, I am using it fairly extensively in the film. Gerry has a copy I think, I’ll ask him to whip me one up next time I bump into him at Spitalfields. I’ve never watched it all the way through, as it seems a bit self indulgent to watch yourself on the telly. It’s a good film, though, by all accounts.

  5. Rachel

    Nov 27th, 2010
    2:43 am

    yeah, come to think of it i can’t stand watching myself on film. which is more like another form of self indulgence rather than an avoidance of it, however, as i like to indulge myself in the fantasy that i look all right most of the time.

  6. Paul

    Nov 30th, 2010
    10:49 am

    I counted four sentences in that sentence.

Leave a Comment