Monthly Archives: January 2007

Ah Goan!

Firstly, I would like to report that rumours of my demise by means of a bloody anal prolapse have been greatly exaggerated, and if it is any consolation the purporter of said cloacal hyperbole has been forced to drink himself to the point of collapse ever since the hot gravy got a little extra bisto and finally turned into the familiar Mersey trouts, about a week ago. As you may be able to tell from the mangled prose above (and from the incredibly pretentious use of the third person), Coybag is well on the way again, as part of the night’s plan of killing time waiting for yet another night train and anticipating a possible date with Miss/Mr Eukaryote (asexual) 2007 as part of the package.

I have to say Goa has been a fine place to beat the bug: watching the bloke in the room next door go through the stages of smack withdrawal at the same time as watching several ex-supermarket Santa Claus wandering aimlessly and talking to themselves or orange speedo and stetson-clad Russians, always shouting the message “kids: don’t do drugs – well, do, but for fuck’s sake stop before you’re fifty”, certainly gets the “I can’t be that bad” mindset into action, and everything seemed to fall into place after that.

Next stop is Mangalore – thankfully at present not the homosexual haven that its name will make it once the gay community starts recognising puns – and a break from the beach for a while. It can only be healthy that someone with such a crushing ineptitude for approaching the (un)fairer sex should be taken away from wall-to-wall bikinis for a time.

And thus Good morrow, overcast ones!

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The state of the world according to Groovenstein

madFriday night, I stopped for a couple of beers after work and then decided to head back to the suburbs to link the cru and continue my consumption of beverages. I had drunk a few and had reached that stage of comfort that comes on getting to Moorgate station, beer stomach slightly padded out by two rank cheeseburgers and finding a train going the right route nearly straight away. I was slumped in a chair, practicing bad posture so that I could lean my head back on the cushion behind me, ipod on some good tunes, occasionally sitting up to read from the paper on my lap, telling me about spats in high class restaurants and heiresses flashing their clefts while exiting mahogany upholstered vehicles.

Not such a bad feeling and I was celebrating my good fortune while the train waited briefly at Baker St, calculating that I would be in the pub within half an hour, with a good two and a half hour’s drinking still to go and the prospect of seeing some old friends that I hadn’t seen for far too long. This is always a mistake on the tube and I suppose when the beats kicking in my ears, became interrupted by the harsh blare of the carriage’s intercom, I wasn’t really all that surprised:

“Ladies and gentleman, I’m afraid we’re going to have to hold this train back for a little bit as someone has reported an untended item of luggage. We should be getting going in the next few minutes, once I’ve had a look through the carriages.”

Not a big surprise to us city-dwellers in a city hyped up for terror. No taking chances in these oil-war blighted times, but no big scares either. Sure, the tourists leaped up like they had fireworks up their Angus steakhouse fed arses, but the residents moved slower, like me, shuffling off the train, one eye still on their papers. I got off the train about half a minute after the announcement, relatively sure that this was not to be the moment of destruction, just in time to get brushed past by a kid leaping on to the train. He looked down where I had been sitting, saw nothing, opened the door to the next carriage and bolted through. By then I was off the train and I saw him re-emerge from the next set of sliding doors down clutching a small rucksack.

He was just a kid, maybe about 11 or 12, tanned of complexion, another tourist and he made as if to move off, but he was stopped by the enquiries of a white girl in her twenties just in front of me.

“Oh she said, is that your bag?”

He replied that he did not understand – “Sorry, I do not speak” English.

That was cool though – by then my alcohol slowed brain had unseized and I realised what the young lady must have meant. She had surely made the deductive leap that I had failed to make and realised that the untended bag in question had now been collected, no doubt forgotten by this French accented young chap, a little face ashamed of causing trouble and relieved by having found his quarry unransacked. Just a friendly little Algerian fellow.

rageI whirled round to face the tube driver whose search antics had by now nearly reached us and uttered something along the lines of “it’s ok, this kid just picked his bag up”, pointing arm at the kid about to make his way off, but then I realised something funny was going on. Behind me a strange high-pitched shriek was sounding. I couldn’t place it for a second or so. What was all this noise? Then I realised, as the shrieking reached banshee crescendo that it was the girl. I had been wrong about her initial enquiry. It wasn’t meant as a quick-witted leap of deductive reasoning to get us commuters on our way. It was the beginning of an attack, because now she was shouting:

“What did you put on the train?”
”What did you put on the train?”

I turned again back to face the scene, the girl’s face taut, the veins in her neck bulging as he let off the cacophony, nothing but hate in her eyes, the kid, her alleged terrorist, the demon in our amidst, absolutely terrorised himself, uttering placatory “I do not speak English” statements, wild-eyed himself and rightly so. Perhaps there was danger of a Menezes type bullet in the head from a special armed officer, off-duty and sipping on a hip flask, but still tooled up with a glock pistol and itching to shoot a foreigner after reading the Daily Mail that day. Perhaps this screaming English lady was going to seize him, her harpy painted claws scraping at his neck while she buried her vicious incisors in the dome of his head. I stood: too shocked to move or do anything just looking at her. She was Hitler.

Then, blessedly, the moment broke. The kid took his chance and darted down the stairs to the Bakerloo line behind him and the lady seemed to return in my eyes to just another pissed PA in a smart coat. I got back on the train and sat down. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t feel drunk any more. I felt sick.

Two days later and I still can’t get that scene out of my mind. Maybe I read too much into it. After two weeks of no blazing I’m deep in paranoia and anxiety attacks, twitching and trying to avoid fast moves or foolish statements that may ruin my relations for months to come. Still, it seems to me that moment was symptomatic of a culture entrenched in ignorance and fear. A place where the good deeds and actions of a sizable minority are devalued by the hatred, the racism and the risk averse, selfish actions of the majority. I agree with what Bennie says in his previous post and in what Breakingstein and maybe others have added. It seems right now this is a sick world and I for one am not optimistic enough in myself (right now anyway) to plan how it can be mended.

reach(a day later:) On other subjects, I realised this weekend that potentially one of my ill-fated romantic exploits of last year had seen me take the role of one of the main characters from Chasing Amy. That twisted my brain pretty badly. Then I popped round to my parents to get my post and found that the inland revenue had decided to hit me with a fine for £100 for the heinous crime of ringing them up and telling them that I was keen to pay my taxes. Apparently being keen is not enough and though I had not missed any form of payment schedule or attempted to defraud them in any way at all, because I hadn’t popped my head up above the parapet within their arcane bureaucratic timescales, I now owed them.

Still today, after a day’s webdesign I find myself cheered up quite a lot. It seems like maybe all this hard graft is about to come to something. A number of fiendish plans appear almost on the verge of fruition and though I risk damnation again by mentioning it out loud, Crosbie points out that we’ve pretty much turned a distant lean dream into a business reality. A digital camera ordered somewhere out in the Amazon realms of webland should be on its move towards my hands, a plan for a film is in the offing and despite all the knocks, I find myself once again indomitable. Hooray for bi-polar flights of depression and optimism. I really couldn’t imagine it any other way.


A rare “Whoop! Whoop!” (big up) to Tony

I just thought it was worth mentioning an appreciative mental relief and approval at Tony Blair’s apparent failure (at time of writing) to cave-in to the pressure from the Catholic and Anglican churches, that famed Opus Dei member Ruth Kelly and his wife on the subject of gay anti-discrimination law.

Ultimately, it is discrimination. Get over it. You are fools to blindly follow some old book rather than simply being decent and respectful to people equally. I think Christians that believe this shit really need to get a grip on reality and stop losing their rag over matters of ‘faith’. Good decision, bad decision. Head in the sand, head out of the sand. Condoms, abstinence. Homosexual parents, closed adoption agency.

It really is a no-brainer.


Turn off the TV, you fucking idiot

I knew it was time to turn the Tv off when I caught myself watching a second rate crack whore’s digest entitled “Diet Trials”, presented by the oh-so-personable but probably a horse cock jockey Eamon Holmes. Oh yeah, he’s probably a terrorist too. I gather most people are these days (in my day all this were fields and the only time you’d ever ‘ave any bother was when you’d been apple scrumping with Farmer Giles’s three-legged wife).
Anyway, the moment of clarity ocurred when one of the failed ‘contestants’ was featured carting the burnt remains of her beloved Alsatian, Buster, up the M6 to see her parents in Liverpool. YOUR PARENTS DON’T REALLY WANT TO SEE THE DEAD DOG’S ASHES YOU DIMWIT. She was just in the middle of blabbing out through her tears something along the lines of; “he was my all, my everything, my world” when I leapt to my feet and disconnected myself from the flickering fuckwit. I mean, I do end up watching some shit, because I live in France and in terms of British TV we’ve got BBC Prime and that’s pretty much it, but there is simply no excuse for watching that inane tramp’s spunk is there? I mean, a man must have his limits. Masterchef Goes Large and The Good Life you can just about get away with, but fucking Diet Trials with Eamon fucking Holmes is beyond the realms of acceptable viewing. How many hours do we all waste watching inane tripe on telly? A belated New Year’s resolution for me is knocking that one on the head.
So, the first pay cheque/dole cheque/ration of salted beaver is upon is already. It’ll be the Summer before you know it – perhaps next week if we can pump enough filth into the atmosphere to speed up global warming just a little bit more. The Chinese are doing their bit by building a new coal-burning power station every week, so the least we can all do is try and arrange a few extra bonfires, or perhaps invest in 3 litre Land Rovers with child-killing bars on the front.
Excuse the negativity people but I can’t shake this feeling I’ve had recently that some things about our entire way of living need to change drastically. Exactly what, how and what I personally can do, I’ve no idea, but we’re all in the same boat there I think, and if we all just carry on waiting for something, or someone to come along and tell us what to do, it’ll be too late. I’ve been on about this before, shit, I suppose we all have. In our heads, with people at work, after a few pints….and I’ve heard some fairly lucid suggestions. Like the idea of a certain detoxee with a penchant for chatting on his mobile in the quiet coach; local responsibility and local action. And it is true that if everyone looked after their patch the world would be a patchwork of order and perfection – like a particularly well-kept picket-fence strewn and lawn endowed American street, but perhaps without the aircon units, 4 litre cars and total disregard for energy use. As an aside, I was once at an American mate’s place and whilst looking for the loo I discovered the spare room which had been converted into a drying room. There were two tower fans creating a gale to dry the clothes. Apparently this reduced the drying time by an entire half day. When I asked if they weren’t concerned about the electricity they were using, I was greeted by a conspiratorial smile – they didn’t pay the bill, the company did. Oh well, shit, why not turn the microwave on then. Empty. Just for the fuck of it.
Sorry about that, a little sidetracked. The point I was leading to is that even if every individual with half a brain and a lack of malice started behaving with a little more conscience, it would not be enough. There would be just as many, if not more people carrying on as normal, or not being allowed to do otherwise, perhaps even in China alone. How the hell are we going to say “Look, I know we’re all a bit fossil fuel mental at the moment, and that our industrial revolution was also based on burning dirty fuels, but we’ve all got to lay off it now or we’ll all be underwater, so if you wouldn’t mind just winding it up and doing some nice calligraphy…”
Perhaps I’m wrong, but it seems likely that the Chinese and everyone else will just keep going until something breaks. More cars, more power stations, more plastic statuettes of Mao…and who can blame them? We have, after all, created what is essentially a culture of mindless material worship over the last century or too, haven’t we? We’ve made Jade Goody famous, for god’s sake.
Well, this has become a real rant hasn’t it? I suppose I should wrap it up by asking if any boloists have any thoughts on either shite TV, naming dogs after Phil Collins films or the seemingly chronic mess we’re making of our chance on this earth….
I miss the days when I was 15, powered by cider and able to confidently reason away concerns over global warming with the steadfast logic that “eventually it will get so hot that solar power will be enough to sustain us, then we’ll stop burning fossil fuels and the earth will heal itself. Now let’s go and look for girls and kick a few bins over.”


Things you hear

Last night someone was telling me about an acquaintance whose wife has nipples the size of ashtrays – and I’m talking bar ashtrays. After five pints, it properly twisted my brain.


On the wagon (take 2)

rawhideBack on the wagon again and feeling, looking and acting a little like Wishbone, the cantankerous old and generally incompetent bush tucker chef on Rawhide. Unlike Gil Favor, capable of leading his merry band of whoremongers, gunslingers and well-tended cattle across the wild frontier and Rowdy Yates, able to shoot a rogue Apache from three miles away, I am mostly capable of moaning about the lack of supplies in my tuck-wagon and can only really cook well-spiced beans and commit entertaining goofs such as inadvertently setting fire to the ammunition truck.

Ah well, such is life and I suppose really it’s good to be back on the wagon. Good to feel the last tinges of lean-eye leave my face and the last vestiges of chilledness leave my mind. Good to abuse passing strangers when the nicotine rage takes hold, as yesterday when some rotarian informed me that my behaviour in talking incessantly into my mobile phone, while on a quiet carriage showed little consideration for my fellow man:

“You don’t understand”, I told him after unsuccessfully trying to deflect him with initial politeness. “I really don’t care about the quiet coach, and more importantly I really don’t care about any of you dicks.” This confused him, but the fear of violence saved him from uttering anything more in my direction.

Ah, the rage – constant gritting of teeth and erratic burst of thought. The nicotine patch on my arm helping by allowing a slow flow of poison into the blood stream, but not entirely saving the innocent and having the awkward side-effect of generating hot-flushes and moments of extreme anxiety.

Still, it’s really about time I got on this track again. The effort back in September was the right way forward and if it hadn’t been blighted by the best efforts of the fairer (surely unfairer) sex, I might have just made it. This time I am absolutely determined and if 40 days in the desert is what it takes, well then that’s what it takes. As Mr T once said when asked why he chose to wear so much gold: “Well if it’s good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me.”

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Mahatma’s Microbial Malady (Part [Number?] 2)

Nnnng! The latest instalment in what must seem to be the most depressing travelogue since “My trip to the West of Ireland” by the remnants of the Spanish Armada I was expecting to turn a little more Michael Palin by now, but Goa has not yet had the time to restore my shredded bowels from a ‘dose’ subsequent to and quite different from last time’s.

It was Kolhapur’s fault, or maybe Pune’s: either way, once my Duofountainitis had cleared up we had to get out of the head-in-a-cement mixer with the cast of Fraggle Rock rolling around inside atmosphere (all smoking cigars made from used tyres) to somewhere lovely and boring. Loony Planet (usually vicious liars or lazy ozzies and toffs with more misinformation than Lord Haw-Haw) certainly didn’t say much about K’Pur, so it certainly seemed boring enough. Boring enough to be compelled to visit a knackered old Maharajah’s palace full of his gruesome collection of the last 200 of about every endangered species on two continents (lovingly and hamfistedly stuffed), and get pecked by an emu that looked stuffed but wasn’t (yet), and boring enough to do what I had resisted doing for near on six weeks: go out at Midday on Saturday and get royally bolloxed.

That was the first of the mistakes. The second was to get another overnight bus the day after. I hope not to make a third by overdoing this, so to cut a short story shorter, I will just offer the following words: 5, days, hot gravy, pain, imodium, useless, acceptance, beach, beer, unfortunate timing of Birdman’s birthday, not long ’til next one, tits-a-plenty, what a waste.

Oh, the Israelis are back. One of these days……

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Typical Greek Night Out

night busOut with the Greek last night and he’s like “hey man, lets go to Tower Hill, to have a drink with my cru.” It sounded potentially perilous, and indeed on route, he somehow managed to leave his phone on the tube. This resulted in a delay to our drinking while we convinced reluctant station supervisors to phone ahead to their contemporaries to look for the phone as the tube pulled into their station. Sometime later we tracked it down – by now in Finsbury Park.

The Wetherspoons we dropped into was like all pubs of that ilk, cheap and full of elderly alcoholics. In this case, no less than four of them, each on separate tables, one with a pipe, one with a beard and one with a sailor’s hat, slumped unconscious, their drained pints to the side of them. Not exactly atmosphere of the first order and I’m grateful we took the opportunity to skip out, rolled up the road to Shoreditch and spent some time in the Light Bar. It was quite light in there actually, and certainly airy. I spent a couple of hours shoegazing and staring up the lofted ceiling. Sometimes you’re up for a proper dance and other times I just like to see how many pints I can plough through, cracking witticisms on the side. Eighties electro, house diluted sounds crashed around the place encouraging tapping of the feet and occasional shape throwing.

For once the night bus came within seconds of us getting to the stop and it moved at high speed through the quiet streets of Islington, empty at this time except for a few stray stragglers and a couple of puddles of spew. Got back to the Greek’s and we still had a bit of energy. Enough to spend a decent hour considering the foibles of the most recent Star Wars trilogy, put on Return of the Jedi. Remark that that was really so much better, even with the Ewoks and wrap a couple of zoots. Ouch, it’s seven in the morning again and I already knew today was going to be pretty much over before it began.

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Mahatma’s Microbial Malady (Part 1?)

Like an Indian bus I am still working but the value of my components is best added up now, lest I fail the next journey. People, as I write I am under attack. Everything that is small, mean and prolific has formed an army under the guidance of the Dark Lord of Shit Happens, and has been carrying out a guerilla campaign for something like 2 weeks.

As Errol Brown once contemplated before the correct lyric materialised ‘neath bald pate: ” It started with the shits – never thought it could flow like piss”. That was nicely timed for C****tmas Eve, and being a nice bloke, and always willing to help out a microbe in need, I decided to try and drink through it. Why not, I thought – I mean I do it all the time at home. Irrelevant that at home I eat a proper diet, receive proper levels of sleep and hygiene, well, exists. Consequently, it was Boxing Day before my rear end stopped playing English Cricket and went more, say, Bangladesh.

All went well from then until the Birdman and I decided to leave just about the hardest place in India to get anywhere from at the busiest time of the year and unbelivably found that we couldn’t. The only course of action in such a situation is to get ripped off for 500 rupees for a ‘double’ berth at the back end of a bus and travel 23 hours on said bus through desert, ploughed field, open-face coal pits and the world’s only 500-mile long cattle grid, all at a constant 80mph, from Diu to Mumbai. In between bouts of weightlessness and emulation of rice grains in an excited Spaniard’s maraca I managed some 1 1/2 hours of sleep, and that was when the cavalry arrived. I should have known when I kept waking up to crush things crawling on my face that there was definitely not peace in our time.

Only in the smoggy dawn light of an Andheri street did I get a look at the one arm that I had left exposed. A constellation of some 20-plus bites ran artistically from my index finger to my elbow. The fear element of guerilla warfare was now fully at work: the enemy propaganda convincing me to forgo Malaria pills and now the 9/11 strike that everyone said I should expect but I never would admit could happen to me.

That was the 30th: again all well for a few days – no further effects from the bites apart from some scars and itchiness, and no signs of the big M, so once again the blase attitude was allowed to instal itself. Come 7th January, Pune, Maharashtra. The Big One. Fountains from both ends, day in bed, small recovery. 8th January, one virus out, one in. The worst type of cold one that makes you feel lie you can get out of bed and do stuff in a polluted shithole and then leaves you in a clammy sweat and unable to breathe. These are dark times. I can only thank providence that the fact I am not dead is only probably down to the Indian viruses organising themselves like the people do.

Did I forget Happy New Year? Until Goa, and its bat-sized mozzies, I bid you farewell….

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Technical woe

back to the pencilsYou know you’re reading something off t’internet, or perhaps the Telegraph going uber-hip for the kids, if the person is talking about hardware problems or trouble with their connection. Despite wanting to avoid these nerd-based traps, I can’t help but report that my life is currently blighted by a wireless internet box that flashes orange when it should flash green. Despite it’s stylish white leather jerkin look and ever rotating blue light that fools you into thinking it’s doing something clever, it’s not getting any web juice. This of course causes the wireless adapter in my laptop to flash red and that means no work.

Actually, more to the point, all this means a distinct lack of posts on bolo.

Oh well, hopefully the thing’ll start working again soon. Either that or I’m going to smash it up and become a lyrical bard writing out of Whitstable, espousing all forms of technology. No more phone calls from me. I’ll be communicating occasionally to a chosen few via carrier pigeon and riding through the streets on a Penny Farthing bicycle. I will doff my cap to strangers in the day, quoting adages to old gentleman and the bible to young children , while at night carrying out vigilante raids with my barber’s shears, snipping broadband cables and throwing bricks through cybercafé windows. Oh for the joy of it.

On other subjects, something in this article appealed to me.

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A smidgen of truth and a fistful of creative lies

monkey-largin.jpgI think I was suffering some kind of precocious mid life crisis. I’d been accepted to Uni and opted to have a year out instead. Partly through fear and partly to give myself the chance to master a deadly martial art so I’d be able to kill monkeys simply by slapping them lightly on the back. Whodahhhhhh!

Sadly it wasn’t to be and after a very cushy few months spent on an EU grant supported language ‘exchange’ programme (there was no exchange, they just paid for eight of us to go and piss around in France and get wasted really), I found myself with THC weeping from Playstation weary eyes round at my mates house. It was good and bad. Non productive on the life advancement front but I’m pretty damn capable at Tekken 2 now. Eventually my ears started to ache from the battering waves of my mother’s insistent nagging and I had to find a job. As luck would have it, the end of my mother’s patience coincided with a phone call from an employment agency I vaguely remembered registering with. Would I like to work at the Western Docks, alongside the ailing and technologically confusing hovercrafts? They kindly agreed to take 50p an from my £6 an hour wage if I would – who could resist? I began the next day, my trusted half-ton Townsend mountain bike dragging me down the hill to be clad out in some itchy polyester trousers, a clip-on tie and a ludicrously fashioned waist coat. Dressed like a fallen gent in brightly coloured man-made fibres, I was to patrol the lines of waiting cars and try and tempt their passengers in to sample the wears of the run down Duty Free shop with my secret weapon : shite scratch cards.

The gig itself was alright, except that they made us wear luminous yellow jackets over our already adequate trainee tramp clobber. We began at 5am and the early mornings were fine, but when the summer sun came up it was oppressively hot down by the sea. Still, we only worked 8 hour shifts, so there was a golden slice of non-work life to be had in the afternoons and early evenings. I took the opportunity to rekindle my still fledgling social skills in the local pub where my mate was working. We played pool and tried to pretend everyone didn’t know we were permanently caned. Until a particularly pink-eyed evening when one cocky cock-muncher was loudly telling his mongrel pet to “GET THE SKUNK, MURPHY! FIND THE SKUNK!”. The fucking pleb. But I digress.

Perhaps because I was turning up looking a bit dead-beat and booze damaged, some of the Scouse, Geordie and Glaswegien degenerates, who made a living doing ‘non-landers’ to bootleg fags and booze, began to see me as a potential friend. Somehow, I ended up making some extra money selling some of the scratch card prizes, although why anyone would want to pay for the crap we were offering I’m not sure. Perhaps it was the extra act of crime involved – the fiver expertly concealed under a losing ticket and reciprocated with the stone faced handing over of shades or keyring. We weren’t supposed to like the fag runners, so it was frowned upon whenever they won at the scratch cards. Whenever one of the decent prizes had to be handed out, like the 90 stone Raleigh Mountain Bike, a nice white family was carefully chosen and asked to play the scratch card game by the Day Supervisor.

Once I was drinking in the local pub after work with a friend of a friend I’d bumped into. A lively guitarist fucker with mad eyes named Craig. After the icebreaking 5th pint, the inevitable explanation for the mad eyes came to the lager drenched fore – Cocaine. Would I like some? Yeah, why not. Did I like it? Oh yes, with a fist clenched tightly and pointed straight to the motherfucking sky I liked it. I liked it a lot. But did it like me? “Who gives a fuck mate, I’m invincible. Have I told you about myself lately? Oh, I have, well you’ll just have to hear it again then won’t you, because I am fucking awesome”. Such was my winning mentality during that brief period. Only chance and a residue of intuition saved me from becoming one of those geezers without teeth who sit outside your local shop examining the bunions on their blackened feet and asking unconvincingly for 26p to go and visit a sick relative in the neighbouring town.

After another summer afternoon spent bouncing self important, drug-fuelled twaddle at each other’s impenetrable ear drums, I was invited back to Craig’s for a taste of the latest gak. On the way we ran into a few familiar faces from the docks – haggard and hard looking fag runners from the wrong part of Liverpool. It turned out they knew Craig too. It may have been the realisation of this fact that began the subtle ringing of alarm bells in my head. For the time being though, it was all jovial and off we went together to get coked up.

These people were devious but they were no actors. Even through the chemical haze of my own brilliance, I knew something bad was cooking. And then there it was – the hoover bag was removed to reveal a large zip-lock pouch stuffed full of crack. And, would you believe it? I was the lucky lad chosen to take it for a walk through customs through to a drop off point when I started back at work the next week. My prize would be £500 in cash and a couple of grams of C for each delivery. It was presented to me like an opportunity and I grabbed it with both hands, knowing that there wouldn’t be any choice with the fuckers when it came down to it. So, they were happy and I retained my dignity. For the few brief sweaty hours it took me to get my stuff together and catch a northern bound train. I left for Uni 2 weeks early and spent a shaky week in Blackpool reassessing my ability to judge characters and calling home frequently to appease my paranoia about any potential reprisals. All was well and when the time came I embraced the safe, home made soup environment of student life. All was rosy and the memory of those Orcs in track suits kept me stress free for an entire term. But it never takes long to find other ways to complicate life does it?

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Adventures in Swansea

speedI shot up the M4 like I had cruise missiles strapped to the undercarriage of my small car. One eye glancing down to a speedometer that hovered around the 98 miles per hour mark, occasionally tipping up towards 110, sometimes screaming down to 40 in response to the break lights of the cars in front. At that kind of speed in a small car, the rules are different. Brakes largely inefficient, a quick tap liable to plunge you into some kind of death spin, pinballing it across the lanes taking out cars with a ‘baby inside’ sticker before being crushed to the size of a small crate by an oncoming tanker. No, the brakes are no good. Steering is compromised. The tiniest rotation of the wheel has massive ramifications for your road position and your arms must become super sensitive, making pica-decimal angle changes to hold you locked in position. Keep them relaxed though. That way when you hit a slick bit of road at over a hundred and the car skips into aqua plane mode, you don’t come down heavy handed, ending your young life in a twisted mess of metal.

The only way to drive at this kind of speed in a small car is to breathe in deep, clear your mind and keep your eyes open. Learn to read the universal rhythm of the traffic. Learn to appreciate your position in the flow. That way, you find you make adjustments to your acceleration which precisely alter your placement on that continuum. The car is desperate to go slower after all, small engine giving off a hum like a distorted mosquito mixed with a spitfire and smoke rising from the front grille. You just need to decide how much to make it go faster. Do that right and everything else sorts itself out.

Knagg’s rustic Swansea palace was a welcome sight after three hours of heel toe combinations. He had camped down in a state of domestic bliss with his chosen ladyfriend, his only disharmony caused by a new puppy that insisted on defecating at will around the house, the weather that buffeted the house, rattling windows with its Welsh belligerence, and the ever present prospect of causing trouble with the in-laws due to his habits of drunken argument and well meant faux-pas.

That weekend, whenever we came in from a night out and wrapped a late night zoot, Knaggs introduced me to a programme of immense wonderment, which he had handily available in digital versatile disc format. The Mighty Boosh, a comedy of sorts, tinged with strange visions, that exactly synced with our often surreal state of mind, flooding into our brains, causing us to imagine strange creatures and stranger situations. I think, we managed to watch every episode in the time that I was there, and I came away determined to put it on my Amazon wishlist, which I did, and now I have it and indeed there was much rejoicing amongst the resident cru down here.

But once again, I digress. A fair bit happened while I was in Swansea, and I particularly remember a stroll out on a public golf course, to reach the coast, a barren cliffline and a meandering river as being a particularly helpful part of the bolo tour in terms of putting my head back together. I remember a pub, which was effectively a house, pretty much unchanged apart from the installation of a bar, where we sat in the sitting room and waxed lyrical about the state of play and the barmaid’s efforts to programme in tunes to the cd changer in response to receiving pound coins. The human jukebox, blonde of hair and fair of face. Truly a fascinating thing to see and to muse upon on the way to the toilet, still outhouse based in that part of the world.

Still, I suppose those are sideshow based experiences when compared with the weekend’s true focus. A trip to visit the nightlife of Swansea.

Knaggs and I wisely took the first night off to store some energy to allow myself to acclimatise to the welsh way of life, plus jet lag from my trip, but by Friday night we were ready. Out into the cold, clad in clean pressed denim and my new shoes, offensively proclaiming their cyan stripes to the world. Jump on a bus and we were both feeling pretty rinsed, but keeping it to ourselves. Out on the fringes of town and Knaggs is pointing out his office then over the road to the local branch of rinse out convenience stores.

angry chapOur way was barred by a local inbred, big face, big arms, big fucker, standing in the doorway shouting incoherent slurs to passers by and rattling the doors of the surrounding doors. I’m used to this kind of madness, wandering about London, you get used to practicing the technique of ‘you do not exist, I cannot see you and therefore you can’t hurt me’. Still, it was a shame that this particular miscreant was right in the doorway that we needed and he nabbed Knaggs on the way through with a roared “you got a cigarette mate?”. Knaggs wisely informed him that though he did not, he might well be happy to furnish him with one having purchased some in the shop. It was a great tactic, because by the time we got outside again, he had picked a fight with some other chavs and was locked in some kind of wrestling grip with a burberry wearer. We took this as an opportunity to duck off.

First stop was the Riley’s pool hall where Knaggs had first worked, an Englishman abroad, trying to earn a crust. These days he was wreaking his revenge against the Welsh by enforcing bankruptcies on people, but back then, he had been living the minimum wage and concentrating hard on his pool game. It was a place of nostalgia for the young lad, full of friendly faces and we settled easily into a series of smoke filled, pint aided games where I took the thorough beating I could have predicted. Those that know me know that I thoroughly resist sporting activity of any kind bar bull baiting and as a result, it wasn’t really a surprise.

Riley’s was a place of respite really, because next we were off to the Swansea branch of Revolution. Knaggs insisted we start with a chilli vodka. “It burns man!”, he insisted, and sure enough it did. Can’t ever really imagine myself drinking it again.

The place was thronged with shirted blokes eyeing up docile girls, a scene I think we’ve all seen before. The difference was the presence of the gangs of older women, painted up like circus freaks, their ample frames covered by scant pieces of material. This is a sight that for whatever reason you only get outside of London. It was the same in Lancaster and largely I find it a pretty amusing thing. Still, Knaggs and I were drawing some attention from these harpies and it was definitely time to skip out.

drinkWe bopped into a couple of other places, avoiding disputes and draining pints. Bumped into an extremely fit girl in a very narrow bar who insisted on showing me her mobile phone and pictures of ace boxer Ricky Hatton, who she insisted was her boyfriend. Who was I to argue? She was off her face, like she’d been rhiaphanolled or something and I felt my foolish paternal side kick in. Found myself worried that maybe something bad would happen to this girl. Wanted to make sure she was ok, but no use really, she was pretty much incommunicado. Man, I’m a sucker for fit women, and I still find myself hoping she got home ok.

By now Knaggs and I were well on the right side of battered and it was definitely time to head up to Monkey Bar for a bit of leg shaking. Once inside, I instantly realised that I had come home. The other bars had been full of characters bristling for violence, lined faces forcing cocktails down with a smile to stumble into taxis later, throwing up over the driver. Monkey wasn’t like that. The clientele was a mix of hipsters, students (always no chance of violence), foreigners and funk appreciators and the queues at the bar moved at speed.

So lets have a drink. What’s the DJ playing. Is that the Verve’s lucky man, overlaid with James Brown (God rest his soul)? Yeah, lets jump to the middle. Unlock those drunk limbs, firing out arms and legs in mirth. Move around, lets make eye contact with those people, get chatting over there. Good to laugh and here the music move up a gear. Oh my, are they playing ‘Witness the Fitness’? Yes, for sure, throw the big moves. The crufetin liveth.

Climb the stairs to the toilets, tip the man in there heavily for passing you a paper towel and come down again. Knaggs holding out some kind of evil shot, with a smile on his face, his foot tapping to Billy Jean (an overplayed dancefloor track, but ever a classic). Take it from him and spill half of it down your face.

dancingBy now, we had been joined by a pal of Knaggs from work and formed some kind of evil trio, taking turns at the bar, throwing increasingly more elaborate shapes. Dim memories here of a large lady with strange moves, causing much amusement. Much engagement. Man, I love everyone’s dancing as long as there is commitment. Hours pass and I Felt my legs start to tire, words start to slur and suddenly it was time to leave. Just forget your jacket on the way out. It’s important to have a painful return trip to make the next day. Fall into a taxi and you are home again.

Back home the Boosh was just firing up, the rizla were in their allotted place. Wake Knagg’s lady up with loud chat. Go outside, smoke and you get those late night, good night moments of clarity. The feeling that all is right with the world, until you wake up on the sofa at seven in the morning thinking who put a cigarette out in my mouth and which fool had the audacity to pour this black stuff on my shoes? Oh yeah… that was me.

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