6 May 2008

If you're looking for a cheap sort...Set in false anticipation...I'll be waiting in the photo booth...At the underground station...

So it looks like I'm going Boston for my Birthday (which totally sounds like something you'd say to a prostitute, as Paul and I discovered. "Hey, baby...wha'choo want?" "Err...umm...I'd like to go to Boston...for my birthday?" Just don't ask her to show you her Boston Browns). Staci's brother is having an engagement party and she has to go back for the week for work so I figured I'd treat myself and hold my Amazing Birthday Festival in her home town. It'll only be for, like, 4 days or something but after my Chicagoan Culinary Calamity I'm guessing 4 days of American food is about all anyone can handle.

The weather this long weekend was amazing. I don't think there's been 3 consecutive nice days since I've been here, and these were spectacular. Needless to say, we made the most of it and slept in until about 12pm every day. Friday night we went to the Lobster Festival at The Big Easy B-B-Q House and Crabshack (yes, a B-B-Q house AND a crabshack...I didn't think it was possible either!) Sadly, the festival doesn't run on Fridays but we were lucky enough to get a table thanks to someone else not showing up. I flagrantly flaunted the festival bylaws and had myself a big-arse lobster anyway, cos screw you, fictitious festival organisers! I don't need your rules, you're not the boss of me!

On Saturday we slept in till midday and had brunch in Fulham and went to see the mighty Fulham Cottagers (yay!) play Birmingham City (boo!). They're called The Cottagers because there's a cottage in the stadium and their mascot is, of course, a badger called Billy. It was a particularly tense game because Fulham are fighting relegation and this was a must-win confrontation. Needless to say the tension was as thick as the BO in a comic shop and the atmosphere as electric as that avenue in Brixton that Eddie Grant entreated us all to rock down to before suggesting we elevate it to the next level. We had awesome seats right next to the pitch which lent an intimate feel to the whole affair and, because the action roamed over the entire field and involved frequent corners, you got to see the players right up close. Which, of course, made it even more effective when slagging off the opposition and cracking wise about their mammas. It was difficult to believe you could fit so many people into such a seemingly small arena and the crowd acted and reacted almost like a single organism: the sighs, the groans, the cheers, the jeers. It was quite formidable and I'm buggered how they all knew the songs as, even though the tunes were easily recognisable, it was nigh impossible to make out what anyone was saying. I'm notorious for my indifference to sporting fixtures but I have to say there's a real atmosphere at a live event that you just don't get watching it on tv at home or even in a bar. It's always thrilling to see talented people doing something they're good at and even die-hard dissenters like myself can't help but get caught up in the mass hysteria. Of course it helps to have a excitable Bostonian dynamo sitting next to you clutching your arm and leaping in the air every 5 seconds screaming "Come on, Jimmy!" and "Get in the game, Tall Guy!" Happily for everyone, (except Birmingham...heh heh) Fulham managed to pull off a belting 2-nil victory, thereby saving themselves from dropping down into the lower division and ensuring that a certain flinty-hearted jerk-off got some sweet sweet victory lovin' that night...

Sunday, despite the glorious weather, was one disappointment after another. After a lack-lustre brunch at the Troubador in South Ken, I had hoped to get along to The Can Festival, an outdoor graffitti exhibition curated by Banksy in an old Eurostar tunnel in Lambeth but, predictably, two-thirds of London had the same idea and by the time we got there the place was choked with the drooling proletariat masses. We then decided to take the ferry to Greenwich Markets but, of course, the last ferry left at 4pm and was absolutely chockers, so we took the Tube up to Greenwich where we managed to arrive at the markets about 10 mins before they closed. The only bright point in the day was catching up with Staci's friend Stewie, a laconic Irish rogue, for dinner at a quaint little pub where he introduced us to his very exotic friend Nadia who has a lot of passports and was almost recruited to be a spy for MI6.

Monday started in predictable fashion with a sleep in until 12:15pm and then a leisurely brunch at Smiths of Smithfield. Having repeatedly lamented over the woeful state of London cuisine this place was a breath of fresh air. Housed in an old warehouse in the former meatpacking district, it spreads over three levels of increasingly casual dining, culminating with soft leather couches on the ground floor and a separate menu comprisingly solely of hangover cures. I'm not a fan of the Full English but, having endured a billious eggs benedict the previous day, I was inclined for something a little more substantial. Whilst I would dearly love to give a hearty and glowing recommendation, the best I can say is I've had worse but in London I've not had better. And for this town that's pretty fulsome praise.

So, fortified with bellies full of protein, caffeine and carbs, we trekked to Highgate Cemetery in search of obscure dead historical figures. Karl Marx is buried here as are George Eliot and Emanuel Kant. Less notable are the dood who invented Chubb locks (Mr C. Chubb), the founder of the Krufts dog show (Mr C.Krufts), and the dood who introduced motorised cabs to London (Mr. D. Motorisedcabs). There's two cemeteries - East and West - but you can only get into the West one if you pay for the tour. We took the mooch option and paid £3 for the East side (bloods) which is where all the cool dead people are, anyway. Karl Marx was pretty easy to find given that there's this huge bust of his head looming right on top of it. I felt a bit sorry for the dude who was in the grave next to his (literally in his shadow, grammar fans) because no one bothers to pay him any respects and the grave is so neglected you can't even see who it is. So I took a photo in rememberance of all the anonymous dead doodz overlooked and overshadowed by philisophical communist giants.

It's quite a lovely cemetery, actually, nothing like any other cemetery I've ever been in. It's lush and overgrown and rambling and chaotic and everything you'd expect a celebration of life and death to be. It's not sterile and ordered and tidy like other cemeteries; trees and ivy and brambles and flowers grow wild and rampant, snaking around, over and even through the graves and gravestones. There's graves from the Victorian era right up until today all in various states of decrepitude and disrepair. But far from being a sad place, it's a wonderful testament to entropy and ageing and the temporary nature of human existence. What better way to celebrate your life than to return to the soil from whence you sprang, your nutritous essence fuelling and lubricating the fecund gears of that wonderous machine of new life, your soul becoming one with that of the very earth itself. It'd be totally awesome to have a shag there!

There's a lot of posh houses on all sides of the cemetery so the mind boggles as to how many little kiddies have been dared to sneak in after dark as an initiation into some secret neighbourhood club or other. I imagine the place takes on a much more spooky air after dark. Right before closing time a dood comes around with a bell to warn you to get out lest you become the latest hapless footsoldier in the zombie apocalypse for, let's face it, when the shizz comes down this place is Zombie Ground Zero.

I should get my bike in a couple of weeks so there's plenty of crazy, wacky (dare I say zany?) cross-country and downhill biking action planned with Dr Phil "Chuck Slavakia" Well'ard, who's champing at the bit to purchase ever more elaborate and expensive and ridiculous pieces of outdoor adventure gear. Not that I'm questioning his sexuality or anything but let's just say there's a peculiar preponderance of padded crotches. I'm just saying...Plus, now that I'm a card-carrying climber at the Castle, it's a mere 20 minute ride from my house and I can get my vertical freak on any time I like. Well, except Xmas and New Years when they're closed but any other time.

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