I was born in London. I lived there for many years. I’ve travelled on the Underground thousands of times; in fact I could probably draw a pretty accurate map of the Tube from memory, with most of the stations marked on it too. Last weekend I went to go to a gig in London, at a venue I know, using a part of the Underground which I also know very well. After making no less than four navigational errors on the Tube (getting on the wrong line, going in the wrong direction, getting off at the wrong station, etc), I decided that no lesser person than God himself was trying to drop a hint that I shouldn’t go. In the end I gave up and decided to come home, convinced that on my journey back I’d be involved in some sort of ‘incident’ that would offer me the chance to become a national hero. A major train crash perhaps, a little old lady being mugged, or a cute kitten stuck up in a tree, that sort of thing.
Ready for action, I stood in the vestibule bit of the train from Paddington Station. (For the thickos amongst you who don’t know what that is, it’s the bit of the train where the carriages are joined together.) Now I was dressed in what I normally wear when I go to see bands, which means just a t-shirt and shirt on top; coats are a pain at gigs, but not wearing one in the winter means you can get bloody cold afterwards. So I was cold; and knowing that I was very likely to be called on to perform some sort of heroic action in the near future, I’d decided not to trap myself in the bowels of a carriage. The train was actually quite full, so I’d have been unlikely to find a spare seat to sit on that didn’t involve me sitting next to someone; and I didn’t want to force myself on anyone in that way and spoil his or her evening; (yes, I’m very self-confident I know). So anyway, there I was, standing by the door. Joining me in my vestibule was an early 20s no-one; let’s call him Puppy Boy. Puppy Boy decided it would be a good idea to open the window, a lot. This was bearable for a few minutes, but once the train got moving it got colder and colder, as the wind howled in through the window at over 100mph and made a bee-line for me. Meanwhile, Puppy Boy just stood there, playing with his stupid little phone, seemingly oblivious to the near absolute-zero, super-cooled air that was blasting into his face and then travelling across the carriage to crush my life force in its icy grasp.
Ever seen a dog in a car that likes to stick its head out of the window? Well now you know where Puppy Boy got his name from. In my hypothermic condition, I started to hallucinate about Puppy Boy sticking his head out of the window and being decapitated by a passing train and wondering where the emergency alarm was, so I could alert the drive to this fact; and considering, in some detail, how much of a mess the headless remains of his body would make on the floor in front of me.
However, revenge is sweet. So along comes the ticket inspector. Like the upstanding, pillar of society, good citizen that I am, I proudly brandished my ticket and Railcard for the gentleman to inspect at his leisure. Then he turned to Puppy Boy. Oh dear, Puppy Boy had ‘forgotten’ to buy himself a ticket. I guess at a huge station like Paddington that has thousands of ticket machines and a massive ticket hall, it just slipped his mind. Yeah, right. I personally think they should arm ticket inspectors and licence them to carry out on-the-spot executions on people who have obviously tried to avoid buying a ticket; and if you can afford a snazzy little phone on which to surf the web and text your equally annoying and boring Coldplay worshipping friends, you can afford a ticket. Anyway, Puppy Boy doesn’t have a ticket, so has to buy one for the full single price, which was more than my return ticket, which also included all my Underground travel too. This didn’t warm me up in the slightest, but it did give me a great deal of satisfaction. When we got to Reading, Puppy Boy got off the train in front of me and I pushed him onto the track into the path of an oncoming train, in payment for making my journey so bloody uncomfortable. No wait, I just imagined that last bit. And please, don’t ask me why didn’t I ask him to close the window; I’m a Brit, we don’t do things like that, we just suffer in silence! Oh, and I wasn’t called on to perform any feats of heroism either, so I’ve no idea why I became so clueless on the Underground.
Right now I’m listening to “My Lady’s Games” by Blyth Power.
Ever had the feeling you’ve been cheated? Last night I was at Paddington Station, coming home from seeing the New Town Kings (a great, 9-piece ska band) at the Camden Purple Turtle. 30p to use the toilets at Paddington Station. 30p! What especially pisses me off is the fact that I only had to do this as my train was delayed and the display boards didn’t say how long this was going to be for, (it was 20 minutes in the end). Was it really so hard for them to work that out? Didn’t they know where the train was and how fast it was going? Of course they did. Bastards; they waited until I’d paid my 30p before announcing that useful bit of information. Put together with my 65 minute delay coming into London that afternoon, (on a journey that’s only supposed to take 30 minutes), it’s a fucking disgrace that you’re then charged 30p for something you can do on the train for free, (well for no more charge anyway as you’ve already paid for it in your massively overpriced ticket), if it actually turned up on time. In fact, no one should have to pay to use a toilet ever, it’s not like it’s a luxury you can do without. And what’s more, I had to go and buy a cup of coffee for £2.00, to get some change to use the ‘little boys’ room’. So basically I paid £2.30 and waited around for 85 minutes on cold stations, just for the privilege of going to the toilet. What next? You’ll need a ticket for breathing in the air at a station? Well guess what? Last time I travelled on the same service I sat in First Class, even though I only had a Standard Class ticket. The train was totally bunged and some people couldn’t even get on it, so my travelling companion convinced me to make this futile gesture to The Man. (Not that we were alone, although we were the first of the proles to burst out of Standard Class; by the time the train left people were even sitting on the tables in First Class and in the luggage areas, it was so crowded.) So up yours Great First Western (or whatever it is you’re calling yourself this week). Next time I’m going to urinate all over the station concourse. And also, some random, young guy came up to me whilst I was waiting, shook my hand, asked if I knew him (I didn’t) and asked me if I liked people called Mohammed. What sort of idiotic question is that? What did he think I was going to say? That I hate all Muslims, especially ones called Mohammed? I just said that it depends on the person. Anyway, this seemed to suitably impress him and he went on his way. This film is about feeling someone else is having a better time in life than you are.
1991 – Certificate:15 – Belgum
This is a really interesting thriller, despite the fact that it comes from Belgium, which as everyone knows isn’t famous for anything, except weird chocolate and being boring. It’s about a guy, Thomas, who’s convinced himself that he was swapped for another baby (Alfred) when the hospital they were in after being born, caught fire and everyone was evacuated. As a consequence, he’s spent his whole life being jealous of Alfred’s apparently more successful one and feeling it should have been his. It’s like four films in one, covering him as a wide-eyed young boy, unfulfilled and underachieving middle-aged guy and bitter old man, as well as a fantasy version of his life with him playing the part of a private investigator / secret agent kind of person. The movie cuts between these and goes back and forward in time a lot, so you’ll probably need to write some notes if you want to keep things straight. Thinking about it today, I’ve realised that I entirely missed the point of whole parts of it, but that’s okay as it means it’ll be worth watching again. Despite it being quite a bleak sounding film, it’s actually quite fun in places and Thomas’s ‘solution’ to his ‘issue’ is quite unexpected. It also has a nice and positive cameo for his brother, who has Down’s Syndrome, who’s shown as the one person in it who’s content and happy with his life. Everyone else spends their time regretting what they did or didn’t do, lost and wasted opportunities. No wonder I liked it, it’s a film I can relate to. Yes, it’s a really worthwhile movie, so go watch it please.
Recommended for people who like high quality films that are a bit different.
1 cat and no decapitations. But poor cat; it’s all squashed at the side of the road! :-(
Top badass moment? Alice (Thomas’s sister) trashing the Virgin Mary in the church, after their father isn’t found quickly enough after an air crash. I’m not condoning such behaviour, but busting up a religious icon in a church is pretty badass.
Well well, it’s been a while since I wrote anything here. I guess that means I’ve been in prison again, on a secret mission for the Government, or abducted by aliens, (which in the latter case would be the third time, as far I can remember anyway). An alternative might be that I’ve just been too busy at work to want to type yet more stuff when I get home, or perhaps I’m just a lazy, old sod. Who knows?
Talking about being old, it was my birthday a couple of weeks ago. I spend the day in a place called ‘Up North’ at a meeting, to hear how we’re all going to be reorganised at work. I really like my job (most of the time), but I must say that I’m fortunate indeed to work for the organisation that probably restructures itself more than any other in the entire universe. (Okay, I appreciate that I’ve not actually got a total understanding of the universe and all the organisations in it, but I do have a good enough grasp on things to realise that it’s simply not possible to restructure more and not break any laws of physics.) But as I’m apt to tell the people I work with, if you don’t like the changes don’t worry, because it will all get changed again in a couple of years.
Anyway, back to my birthday. There I was, sitting on the final leg of my journey back to Reading, the last 30 minutes between Paddington and Reading, looking forward to getting home for my birthday; not that I had any plans, but there’s a principle here so stick with me on this. So anyway, there we are, speeding along at something over 100mph, when, oh dear, someone decides to get run over on the track up ahead and consequently turns my 30 minute journey into one lasting more than two and a half hours. Well done mate. Now this is of course, a really tragic thing to happen and call me self-centered if you like, but it was my birthday! And I’d had a long journey too. So much for partying the night away with a crowd of beautiful women, plentiful drugs, good music and an endless supply of beer. (As an aside to this, I only got two birthday cards, and one of those was just a 50p off voucher in a card from some company that I probably won’t use, but it did say happy birthday on it so it counts.)
And in other big news, I’ve decided to join the human race. What I mean by this is that I’ve now got a Facebook account. Having felt for several years like I was living off the grid by refusing to have one, ‘The Man’ has finally got me in his grasp. Bastard. I do need to point out that I’ve not done this because there’s been a huge influx of people suddenly thinking that I’m the best thing since sliced bread and wanting to be my mate; (sliced bread isn’t that good for you anyway, it doesn’t fill you up and it’s full of rubbish calories and salt, a bit like me really). The fact of the matter is I’ve only done it because hardly any bands are using MySpace anymore (as they’ve all gone over to Facebook as the new MySpace is virtually unusable now) and I’ve started to feel like I am loosing track of things. As this is basically all I care about in life (actually that’s not quite true but for dramatic effect I’ll say it), this is obviously a bad thing. I wonder how many Friends I’ll manage to pick up. None so far. I hate it’s ugly, blue colour and angular design too. The one good thing is that my having an account there has probably doomed it, as has been the case with several other social networking sites I’ve joined in the past. Facebook is the social networking equivalent of Tesco, minus the Clubcard Points. Oh God, I’ve even put a link in to them…
Right now I’m listening to “West Blanket” by Picked Dick (now known as Mike TV).