Archive | January, 2012

(IT’S CONSPIRACY)

25 Jan

Tonight, I find myself reclining in a wicker armchair listening to (and unironically enjoying) a dodgy ’90s trance album. WordPress tells me that because it’s a Wednesday (?) I have to post something, and since I’m feeling a bit perturbed by the events described above, I thought I’d put up some photos of the various doom-mongers I’ve seen around town recently. Y’know, just to reassure myself that there are people doing even more pointless things than me…

I met Mr. Yoghurt in Earls Court last Friday when I went to buy cigarettes. He was performing incredible magic tricks with a wad of five pound notes. One of my friends sees this van everywhere, and is sure that Mr. Yoghurt is following him.

I don’t know who or what this “Troll Boy” is, but he scares the shit out of me.

Will that do, WordPress? I think that’s enough rubbish for now.

 

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BATCAVE

23 Jan

Living next to a cemetery where several vampire movies were shot, I get a pretty weird crowd turning up at my house. These particular ghouls turned up at an acutely opportune moment this weekend while I was sitting an exam on Post-Structuralist theory.

If you’ve ever wondered whether a pair of drunken Goths might be an aid to understanding the key tenets of the panoptic structure, take it from me; they aren’t.

Release the bats!

Gates of the West

18 Jan

This is the West Cross Route at the Shepherds Bush Roundabout, a 1970s planning disaster and the de facto frontier between Central London and the inner suburbs of the West. It was built as part of the GLC’s “Box” scheme, a plan first dreamed up by urbanists as early as 1943, intended to bring London into the 20th Century.

As anyone who’s ever been in a car at rush hour will know, London isn’t a great place to be a motorist. By comparison to many other Western cities, it evolved almost organically, sticking to the illogical street plans of the various towns it swallowed up over the course of the 19th Century. In the late ’50s, as it became increasingly clear that the age of the automobile had arrived, the GLC began to take the plans of architects who had previously been written off as fantasists seriously. It was at this time that work was begun on the Périphérique (ring road) that now encircles Paris, defending it from the suburbs just as the city walls that predated it had (unsuccessfully) defended it from the Prussians. Motorways were officially IN.

Had the Box been built, I would not be sitting here now; my street would have been bulldozed out of existence to make way for a new elevated highway. Much as I love the Westway in all its present-day Ballardian state of rot, it’s easy to understand why these people weren’t too happy about it. As the film in the link shows, the plan was dropped by the Labour Governmant in 1974, and not even Thatcher’s lot dared take up the issue again. What was left was a sporadic punctuation of flyovers and extra lanes that tapered back in as suddenly as they’d sprouted out. The effect is just as schizophrenic as you’d expect; The half-completed Shepherds Bush section directs southbound traffic to Holland Road, a normal street shouldering six times more traffic than it was designed for, which means it is almost always at a standstill. The section in the photo is my favourite part of the Box. The towers of the Edward Woods Estate (to the right of the image) have always reminded me of Thunderbirds, which, frankly, is as good a reason for liking a building as I can come up with.

The area to the right has another significance in West London mythology; quite apart from being home to the narrator of Colin MacInnes’ novel Absolute Beginners, in 1977, it briefly became an independent country. The story is as bizarre as you’d imagine; the buildings around Freston Road had been pencilled in for demolition, and the squatters who occupied them immediately declared their separation from the United Kingdom. Although attempts to secure United Nations protection as a safeguard against the GLC failed, Frestonia (as it became known) was recognised and encouraged by no less a figure than Geoffrey Howe, and incredibly lasted until 1984 when its inhabitants agreed to be collectively re-housed on favourable terms. Apparently the Clash even recorded an album there. Bramley Road, Frestonia’s other thoroughfare, was featured in a scene in Franc Roddam’s (he of Masterchef fame) Quadrophenia, in which a mod gets beaten up by a gang of rockers. While it may not be a pop cultural Mecca, it’s at least a damn sight more rewarding as a tourist spot than that tree in Barnes where ghoulish Marc Bolan fans hang about.

Freston Road is now lined with offices, and is about as clinical a street as you’ll find in W10. For better of for worse, the ruins of Frestonia have been sterilised. What amazes me most is not any of this stuff, but how much shite I can squeeze out of a single photo without the aid of Wikipedia. Perhaps the blackout has been a good thing- maybe after all, THERE IS HOPE!

Mind you, seeing as I’ve spent the entire day waiting for tomorrow so I can find out the population of the Falkland Islands and the typical diet of an ocelot, I really shouldn’t get too excited. The sole reason I’ve written this drivel is to soak up the time I’d normally spend reading this sort of forgettable trivia on Wikipedia. May you rot in hell, Jimmy Wales, may you rot in hell.

174 Walton Street

15 Jan

Last Sunday I took an extended walk around Knightsbridge. It’s an area I don’t know too well, and considering the quasi-mythological role it plays in the general perception of London, I thought it was worth an hour or two of my procrastination.

Horrids aside, the area doesn’t give off many clues; Knightsbridge is devoid of the grandiose villas and Victorian delusions of grandeur that make Kensington, its neighbour to the North West such a great setting for conspiracy movies. The streets have private annexes forbidden to the general public, and I saw but a couple of people in the streets. The oligarchs must like staying indoors, I suppose.

The first thing that struck me was how empty it all was. The chap above was the only soul I saw in a full hour of aimless wandering. No shops, no noise, no dogs- and consequently, no shit. I’m unsure as to whether it would be more or less spooky in daylight.

The phone booth above is pure Mysteron, no? I started to believe it possessed the ability to recreate the exact likeness of an object or person- but first, it must destroy.

At that point I realised I the music on my headphones was too loud, and I should never have put the Captain Scarlet theme tune on repeat anyway. This broke the spell- it was time to go home.

I walked along Walton Street towards Brompton Cross, past the squat Victorian Ikea terraces, and saw this;

Something (or rather someone) had fallen through the cracks of gentrification, and I’m fully aware that I’m on dodgy moral ground for taking these intrusive photos and putting them on the internet. In my defence, It felt like a relatively important bit of urban teratology- that is, of things (or “monsters”) which simply don’t fit into a context. The decaying house is quite extraordinary- in stark contrast to the monotony of the rest of the street, and indeed the area. There’s an opportunity for a neat simile- like James Bond surrounded by Blofeld clones in Diamonds are Forever, this is the only address on Walton Street that hasn’t been facelifted to the point of losing its identity.

It reminds me of a house on Ongar Road, near to where I live. The street was scrubbed up in the mid-90s to prepare for yuppie colonisation, but the occupier of 128 refused to comply. In contrast to the rest of the sandy-coloured street, His property was soot-black, and resembled something from an Edgar Poe story. It was a local landmark, and strangely, most people seemed to like it the way it was.

It’s now covered in scaffolding, getting its inevitable makeover. My friend Ben, who used to live next door, told me the owner died without anybody noticing, and a police squad had to break down the door to get in. Apparently the corpse had been there rotting for two months.

TANGO IN THE SHITE

9 Jan

Well, it finally happened.

Today I was in a charity shop when whatever shit radio station they were listening to played a song I really, really liked. It was an absolutely gorgeous bit of mid-tempo eighties fluff, and for the first time in ages, I did what any true pop fan should do when confronted by an unfamiliar song of such supreme excellence. I got my pen out and started scribbling the lyrics on my hand, much to the bemusement of the shopkeeper.

I raced home and immediately punched my transcript into Google: You You You You You/Under strange forbidden skies/You You You You You/With the love that will not die/You (you you you) and I/You (you you you) and I/You You You You You/Where the strange wind blows/You You You You You/With the secrets no-one knows/You (you you you) and I… etc, etc.

I don’t know what I’d expected, but the search result disturbed me profoundly.

SEND “YOU AND I (PART 1)” BY FLEETWOOD MACK RINGTONE TO YOUR PHONE NOW!

I think I almost vomited. If there was one thing in the world of which I was ever sure, it was that I did not like Fleetwood Mac.

More disturbing still was my quest to download it. Yes, I know, if I’d wanted to make things easy, I should’ve forcibly erased all knowledge of the said song upon discovering the identity of its creators, but something about it just wouldn’t leave me alone. It was one of the most perfect pop songs I’d ever heard. I had to have it.

Much as I despise iTunes, it’s at moments like this that it comes in handy. I resigned myself to making Apple and Lindsey Buckingham very slightly richer and entered my search term.

But no, nothing- it listed only You and I (part 2), which appears to be a completely different song, and, I’m relieved to say, not a very good one. Reassuringly, it seems I am not quite ready for an unconditional surrender to the charms of Fleetwood Mac.

But this was (actually, is) really annoying. The ghost of the melody infiltrated every attempt I made to work, and I spent the entire afternoon trawling the internet for a site that would sate my desire. Things did not go well. There are some extremely low-quality versions on YouTube, which go some way to satisfying the cravings, but any sort of download remains infuriatingly elusive.

I’m completely disgusted by myself, yet something is driving me on, and I know I shall not rest, I shall not sleep until  “YOU AND I (PART 1)” BY FLEETWOOD MACK is builded here on my iPod’s green and pleasant hard drive.

I need you to tell me- Is this what it feels like to be a fetishist? Have I finally lost it? Can you reassure me?

Please?

And, more importantly still- WHERE CAN I DOWNLOAD THE BLOODY THING?

THE HANCOCK INDEX

8 Jan

Hancock is in the process of inscribing his baffling taste in music onto a deck of cards, bringing a whole new nuance to the iTunes Shuffle function. This compendium is not only a nice little objet de fart, but quite a good playlist, too…

Groovy? Without a doubt. Lucky? Possibly not. On Friday night, Hancock used the cards to play the noted zombie expert and former Halford Road resident J.G.W Peile at poker, and lost an entire packet of cigarettes. The Devil has the best tunes, etc, etc.