Monthly Archives: December 2006

Mistletoe & Lager

The X-mas social (Whirl? Flurry? Splurge? Merry-go-round?) season got under way in the last couple of weeks, although I’ve not really been feeling the love. Last year I was right in the mood, with happy walks around the busy shopping streets, and eager anticipation of a nice Christmas day in the flat with Mairi and our new dog Shuggie. This year…meh. Couldn’t get into it at all, although I think this week will be the clincher.

Friday before last was the classic works* Christmas do for the bit of London Underground I work for. The very nice Azzurros restaurant in Waterloo was hired out, and a certain amount of canapés (pron. can-APES) were eaten, washed down with a couple of white wine spritzers. Lots of fun, with various senior managers strumming away on their guitars, and various admin staff singing. Lots of fun. There was a feeling that they should have provided photocopiers and stationary cupboards dotted around the place for office party frolics. Perhaps some toilet cubicles as well. Classy.


As the evening drew to a close, a colleague insisted that I go to a club in Elephant & Castle called the Corsica Rooms, which had a couple of hard electro acts playing live, and a couple of dubstep DJs. I hadn’t been to a club like that in years, and was somewhat intimidated, but went along – got to keep on. We got a taxi to Elephant and Castle, then walked down this road next to the railway, to an unmarked door flanked by large men in long black coats. I was ready to pay up for entry, but my colleague knew the staff, the ticket people, and most of the people in the club. All of them were introduced to this guy in a suit and raincoat, with non-dance-friendly smart work shoes, and very friendly they were.

Interesting place, the Corsica Rooms. I’m told it was an illegal venue until recently, but now its kosher, with all mod cons. Bar with cold beer at reasonable prices (only £3 a small bottle, which while expensive, is not as expensive as I’ve seen since – see below), facilities, cloakroom etc. All painted a uniform white with grey accents. It had the feel of a municipal building, which for me is a good thing.

The music and atmos were fantastic. We started in the dubstep room, characteristically dark with camo nets on the wall and a nice brutalist architectural structure for a sound system, which went well with the slow power of dubstep. I wasn’t familiar with the sound, but it has a lot on common with dub (obviously) but with a much cleaner, crisp sound, and immense sub-bass. Nice. That said, I suspect it’s designed to play out of your 24″ subwoofer in your Citroen Saxo while waiting in a queue down my street on a Saturday and I’m trying to listen to Radio 4.

Then it was into the main room to witness the main event. Various keyboards & stuff on a small stage. Stickered Korg. Battered Roland. Speaker stacks. Small dancefloor, DJ at the back. And I was there until 3am. My colleague said it went on until 6, at which point he and his mates were going to a flat in Hackney to continue the party – sadly I had to decline. While leaving I made sure I shook the ticket persons hand, which made them smile, and the bouncer kindly pointed out a taxi kiosk. A night to remember.

Unlike last Saturday, when I went to ‘The Mish Mash Bar’ in Clapham for the leaving do for someone about to travel around South America for a few months before settling near Brighton. Nice to see her, and to see her off, but the place was crap – the venue was everything bad about these money-grubbing places. As it filled up, they removed all the furniture so as to cram more people in. It was rammed, expensive, the music was dreadful (not even the good Take That song) and played on a dreadful sound system with screeching treble and poor bass response, and everyone screeching over it to be heard, so they turn it up some more. I left early (walking past the queue – queue!), having spent too much on alcohol in the mistaken belief that being tiddly would enable me to make conversation or have fun. I couldn’t find the leaver to say cheerio, and I couldn’t be arsed saying bye to her friends.

Sunday I felt hung over, and I felt annoyed at feeling hung over for so little reward. But this tale has a happy ending! I got into the Xmas spirit at about 6pm, after marching around tidying up and snapping at Mairi, for which I am sorry. We got some Xmas decorations up, wrapped some tinsel round the dog, and finally settled down to be disappointed by Torchwood again. And I finally got my Christmas webpage up – ta-da!

* “Works”? Gas works? Chemical works? Some kind of factory where a whistle blows to mark the shift change, and we all go to Brighton for two weeks together on the trolley-bus to bet on horses and throw acid at each other?

Ancient Christmas Poem

This here is a poem I wrote in a Christmas card to someone many years ago. What mood was I in? Discuss.

Now it’s Christmas time again
It’s time to reconsider
Whether or not to shut up shop
And sell to the highest bidder

But let’s not all get too depressed
Nothing is as bad as it seems.
So put the kettle on again
And pass the custard creams.

Sorrento Travelogue 1

The following has finally been written from notes made in Italy, September 2006. I’ve been busy.

Saturday – Ibsen’s ‘Ghosts’ and now Petty’s ‘Blog’ – all were written in the Tramontano Hotel, Sorrento, Italy. All possibly on this balcony? Doubtful. We arrived yesterday evening, after an interesting journey. With an excruciating start at 4am, the flight from Luton to Naples was uneventful. The coach from Naples to Sorrento, however, was bags of fun, due to the torrential rain, and 2-hour tailback due to a minor landslide on the coastal roads running around the cliffs. The slow progress did give us a chance to look at the cliffside olive and lemon groves though. Once at the (very nice) hotel, the first priority was food, so we nipped straight out into the narrow cobbled streets to find a trattoria for a pizza. Thus sated, it was quick nap time. 4 hours later at 9.30 we had recovered and it was time for dinner.

Another stroll led us to Fauna, which dominates the main square. There we partook of the local custom of sitting and watching the world go by – on foot, on scooters and in small Fiats. We rounded off our meal of pasta with Crème de Bananes for Mairi and Liquirizias for me, both delicious and a perfect ‘digestif’. Mairi also tried the local lemon juice, which is served fresh with ice, a jug of water to dilute it and sugar to make it not make your eyeballs cave in. Make your own lemonade, I guess. That was delicious too.

As well as the aforementioned rain, when I woke up this morning, lightning was flashing down, the thunder rolling around the bay, but Vesuvius was clearly visible for the first time, looming over Naples across the bay. When I got Mairi up to take a look, the clouds had suddenly descended, obscuring the view so much we could barely see our balcony railing.

Since then, it has brightened up, with Vesuvius sometimes being free from cloud, and sometimes (like now) only being visible from the waist down. We’ll be taking a closer look at Vesuvius and Pompeii later in the week.