Archive | July, 2012

All Nite Party

22 Jul

I couldn’t really give a rat’s arse about the Olympics, but the apparently desperate last-minute measures to make the terrain around Earls Court navigable have turned my neighbourhood into a sort of cheaply-reconstructed psychedelic wonderland. It’s really fun, and these guys were most obliging when I asked to take their picture. They’ve sent in the Army, too:

 

Σφίγξ

18 Jul

 

Indecent Proposal

16 Jul

Coming soon on Tesco Inferno TV- watch the fuck out, Channel 4

Last December, a dream that my sister and I had long-since shared was shattered: for years, we had been working towards a proposal for a TV show that would in its sheer gimmicky stupidity eclipse even Monkey Tennis and Youth Hostelling with Chris EubankThe idea was that we would bring together the estranged Hitchens brothers and give them a half-hour slot in which they would travel to regional restaurants to work as sous-chefs and argue loudly about god and politics. The title? The Hitchens in the Kitchensgenius.

Unfortunately, Christopher Hitchens’ death rather diluted the novelty potential and brought us right back to the drawing board: you can’t, after all, expect people to watch Mail on Sunday columnist Peter debating transubstantiation on his own for thrity minutes as he chops onions and garnishes cupcakes. Well, you wouldn’t, would you?

Yesterday, though, I was hit by an epiphany of such moronic clarity, such towering, glaring, damascene futility that I had to stop and check my reflection in the mirror to ensure that I hadn’t turned into some viral twitter thread: I tell you, it was like a fucking brain-wave. If you thought Desperate Scousewives was a pun too far, I would advise you to stop reading now; this may be the single worst idea for a television programme in the history of half-witted thought.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present Marx and Spencer, a meta-historical reality TV show in which Eden Hotel heir and Made in Chelsea dickhead Spencer Matthews takes a journey across Eastern Europe and Russia, exploring the thinking behind dialectical materialism and the difficulties experienced by the Soviet Union in establishing a true Marxist state. There could be a scene in which he discusses the implications of Capital and hegemony in a branch of Jack Wills, or questions differing views on the exploitation of the proleteriat from a swivel chair in the VIP box of a Moscow strip club. We could show him necking pints of vodka in an attempt to illustrate the corrupting effects of personal power, or interviewing Terry Eagleton and Francis Wheen at a Mahiki private function. There could be cameos from other recurring Made in Chelsea regulars: I reckon Francis Boulle would do a mean impersonation of Friedrich Engels, and the one with the smugly equine grin- Hugo, I think- could stand in as a personification of bourgeois decadence. As for Spencer himself, a little spin may be required: we could market him as, say, a low-rent version of Jonathan Meades, or a sloaney and less irritating Alain de Botton: believe me, it would be glorious.

A CIGARETTE, A CUP OF TEA, A BUN…

13 Jul

This is not the Mario’s Café: that one was in Kentish Town, and sadly went out of business about ten years ago. It is, however, a pretty great caff- a rather amazing sight amongst the generically tasteful lifestyle-choice emporiums of Clapham High Street. Be warned, though: If you visit, don’t have a black coffee. Before I ordered one there yesterday, I truly believed that it was impossible to fuck up the preparation of a cup of Nescafé instant to the point of biliousness. How wrong I was…

Shard Times

8 Jul

The last of these photos was taken from my kitchen window in West Brompton, roughly six miles away from London Bridge. I have read many, many complaints about the Shard, about its failure as a design, about the dubious megalomania of which it is symbolic, and of how it has invaded Londoners’ sightlines. Its critics see it as an attention-grabbing zelig, an imposition on every treasured panorama of the city skyline.

Despite everything, I rather like it. It’s comically out of place, ‘a giant alien mothership’ as London blogger John Godley has it. To put it into the grandiose parlance of tescoinferno, it reminds us exactly where we stand, both physically and figuratively.

For anyone allergic to its jagged thrust*, here’s a little-known fact: if you stand directly in the middle of Waterloo Bridge, it completely disappears, blocked out by the built-up curve of the river. Aesthetically- offended trolls rejoice!

*And no, it’s not ‘phallic’- well, not according to my experiences, at least. 

Places I Wouldn’t Mind Living: Hanway Street, W1

4 Jul

The first in an occasional series

I have a lot of London conversations, and the question that recurs more than any other is the following: if you could live on any street in Central London, which one would you choose? Difficult, I know, but I decided long ago that for me at least, it came down to a toss-up between Brewer Street in Soho and Hanway Street, a surprisingly quiet curve that connects Eastern Oxford Street to Sainsbury’s at the bottom of Tottenham Court Road. All shortcut-savvy commuters know it as a secret passage through the West End’s most congested square metres that outflanks the perpetual people-jam around the entrance to the tube station and reduces the risk of an early-morning act of sociopathic violence by approximately 38 per cent.

Hanway Street is also a minor Mecca for both Japanese and Spanish cuisine- admittedly not the most logical union of global gourmandise, but as culinary cultures go, a pretty satisfactory pairing. There are two second-hand record shops, and at the Eastern End, the semi-legendary West End DJ, a tech-head heaven of which the merest mention sends my friend Fred into a rapture of material lust.

Best of all, though, it is also home to The Bar, an after-hours basement dive that specialises in esoteric ’60s and ’70s Soul. Stumble down its rickety staircase at 3am on a Thursday morning and you could be forgiven for thinking you’d walked into the mise-en-scène of Antonioni’s Blowup. In terms of music Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues, just over the gushing ravine of Oxford Street, has nothing on The Bar: embarrassing dancing is currently my principle occupation, and Hanway Street is where I like to do it.

I took these photos on Sunday night, as Spain geared up to win the Euro championship: as you can see, the expat community were out in full strength around Bradley’s (bottled beer, ace jukebox) and Costa Dorada (tapas, flamenco). Not to get sentimental or anything, but this is the kind of sight that makes me inexplicably glad I live in London.