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as this entry deals, in a somewhat extended fashion, with (among other detritus and ephemera) the geographical redistribution of my, and hostess elisabeth's worldly goods, and is therefore more epic in nature than previous entries, it has been neatly dissected into three parts. each section is accessible individually, by clicking on the (ir?)relevant asterisk below, or in chronological order as one piece. thank you for your attention.
"your woraciousness, fellow critters, i don't blame ye so much for; dat is natur, and can't be helped; but to gobern dat wicked natur, dat is de pint. you is sharks, sartin; but if you gobern de shark in you, why den you be angel; for all angel is not'ing more dan de shark well goberned."
from 'moby-dick' or 'the whale' by herman melville
so... in an attempt to further distance ourselves from the idiocy of others (inasmuch as that's possible), we're moving house. -it should be said at this point that our own idiocy, which can never be escaped, will no doubt be illuminated for all to see at some point during this whole ugly affair. yes, hostess elisabeth and myself are upping sticks, deserting pentonville mountain and sodding off east. we may never see anyone we know ever again... moving is something neither of us has done for thirteen, count em, thirteen years, and it promises to be a soul destroying, back breaking, horrible, nasty little business. packing your crap into boxes, loading said boxes of crap onto some kind of vehicle and then reversing the whole operation after a short trip is apparently in the top five most stressful things you are likely to experience in life, beaten only by divorce, bereavement and... christmas.
unfortunately, i got caught up in the whole 'three minutes silence for the victims of the tsunami' malarkey. stuck in a strange office in holloway, i was without anyone to talk to anyway and so complied by default. what utter fucking nonsense. what good does such a thing do? where does this idiocy come from? if you want to give money, give money, christ knows that's one thing these poor buggers can use but staying quiet for a prearranged period of time? what?! i looked at the people around me during the silence and couldn't help but see them as a bunch of sanctimonious, self-congratulatory wankers. once the three minutes had passed you could feel the glow of self-love coming off them like a heat haze: aren't we good people, we stayed quiet for a bit while unclaimed, unnamed bodies of the dead floated around in the sea thousands of miles away. surely our sainthood can't be too far away?
and how many times are newsreaders going to pronounce it 'toonami'? (www.toonami.co.uk)
may the lard bless ebay, the organisation that, in anticipation of our move, has taken so much of our crap and clutter off of our hands and given us what we're choosing to look upon as free money. dog bless the acquisitiveness of others and their willingness to buy any old shit.
my surprise, someone called daniel has been reading the unsong
'chaos theory' - www.2flashgames.com/f/f-1211.htm - try to create a chain reaction that destroys all the dots with a single click. strangely addictive.
our estate agent is an alarmingly young, toy-like chap called max, trundling around in his toy suit, garish ties and irritating toy foxtons mini. he was keen to please but drove like a man possessed and always looked about eight or nine coffees behind his obvious overwork and ever present sleep deprivation.
"make headlines - use a corduroy pillow." wise words from stileproject.com.
there are plans for at least one unsong release this year -i have plans for two but if last year's catalogue of poverty, forests of insurmountable hurdles and furious inactivity is anything to go by then a second release is highly unlikely to materialise.
this will no longer be my bedroom... this will no longer be my bathroom... this will no longer be my living room... (repeat to fade)
antiques programs on television: where bad puns go to die. stop it, just stop it.
when will people stop typing 'imho' (-for the blissfully uninitiated meaning "in my humble opinion" or "in my honest opinion") in forums etc.? there's something just so self satisfied about it; it's like that 'wtf' nonsense; (ofo) -o fuck off. let's get this straight: abbreviation is not an intellectual act. it's not clever, in this case it's not even helpful. this culture of half-arsed acronyms is retarding the world. if you disagree, try to text me your complaints, i dare you. i mean, 'imho'... it's like the fucking idiots who, in arguments, say things like "well that's just your opinion!" well of course it's my fucking opinion, who else's opinion would i be using you leprous cretin?!
cats suck. no, no, really - www.saaitmedia.com/media.php?wm=suckitbaby.wmv
i've learnt while packing for this move
is how to fold t-shirts japanese style -frankly, the sense of achievement
once you've grasped the method is incredible.
release of pope compilation 'il programma di religione' is now imminent! available through boyarm.com, it contains (among its 265 tracks) the unsong track 'st. sixtus i'. the cd promises "one tribute for each pope serving the catholic church from 32 ad - 2004 ad", each track clocking in at a mighty 15 seconds. i have my copy and it certainly makes for unusual listening.
another drink at the white hart, waterloo. an evening typified by mr. roast's declaring that there are two kinds of people in the world: if you were lying in bed and a spider (a spider you knew to be lethally poisonous) landed on your chest and bit you, would you -choice 'a': think nonchalantly"ok, fine, so it's bit me. i'll soon be dead. ok, no biggy." or -choice 'b': scream like a girl, throw the spider off of you and run around like a mad thing trying to get help to keep you alive. he said that he was type a. i had to admit that i was type b. no doubt the authorities would find him dead in bed, looking peaceful and serene; whereas i would be found in my pants, face down on the floor, one arm extended pathetically towards the phone... which type are you?
in the dingy toilets at the white hart i spy what appears to be a spray of shit, about eye level, on the wall. i'm quite impressed at whoever's sphinctoral skill managed this feat when i realise that it's not shit at all but blood. and then i'm not sure which is more impressive.
in one of a number of girly moments, i'm drinking a glass of 'timmeran's peche' beer and knock the glass over. it shatters remarkably easily and in a split second i manage to cut open my finger and get beer in my eye. i'm left for a moment to consider that the reverse would have been far worse.
following the drink, another trip to the fishcoteque, the best named fish and chip shop in london (though hardly the best culinarily speaking). i introduce american john to the wonders of the great british savaloy. he asked me what it was, what was in it etc. and i was surprised to admit that i had no idea. he says it's the most blatantly artificial thing he's ever eaten, and he's american for christ's sake. it must be noted that the outer skin of the savaloy does resemble something distinctly vinyl (should a sausage crunch quite like that?) -john said there was something of the 'all weather paint effect' about it. still, he finished it nonetheless.
last night i glance out of the window and notice a mariachi band climbing out of a car and dressing in the street outside my house. that's a mariachi band, in full garb, huge elaborate sombreros and everything, tuning up outside my window. it occurs to me that they look like the three amigos + friend. wholly unexpected and therefore not a little enjoyable.
our house has been known for years among friends as 'the mountain' for reasons too uninteresting to mention... my thoughts turn to what to call the new abode... front runners at the moment are 'the fortress' and 'disgraceland'.
the andrew liles release 'new york doll' is now available to buy from andrewliles.com -this lavish, richly textured two disc album features a commissioned unsong composition -utilising mildly processed gong sounds- amalgamated into the last track on the second disc; the title of this track is:
so go and buy it.
the cat is so old now (10) that she's started to click when she walks. at first we thought it was one forepaw, but now i suspect it's both of them. if only there was some way to mic up her feet, i think she'd sound like early panasonic.
the snakey bastards that we rent the washing machine off of turn up to collect said machine before we move. one of them stays on his mobile phone the entire time they're in the house and for some reason spends minutes trying to hypnotise the cat; he gives up "that never works" he says. no, really? where do they get these people? then, because one of the pipes is slightly corroded, they refuse to disconnect it as "the pipes aren't our responsibility" and can't do anything without a plumber. slimy fucking weasels, they can install the thing ok but don't have the wherewithal to disconnect it? o, no, for that we need to pay pete the plumber £60 + vat. grrrr. the amount that will go wrong with any enterprise is directly proportional to how many people are involved in it. the human factor: guaranteed to fuck up any endeavour.
"Heaven have mercy on us all - presbyterians and pagans alike - for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending."
from 'moby-dick' or 'the whale' by herman melville
the bloke that bought our freezer turns up with a friend in a nissan micra. that's a 5ft freezer. in a car roughly the size of a small dog. there's no way they're gonna fit that huge freezer into that tiny little thing... is there? to their credit and to my great surprise, they do squeeze the thing in, plus both of them and manage to drive away. incredible.
recommended: (audio) 'new york doll' -cd- by andrew liles / (comestible) the wonders of the savaloy / (visual) freezer in a micra / (sensorial) folding a t-shirt jap-style
reviled: (audio) the savaloy crunch / (comestible) the 'wonders' of the savaloy / (visual) so... many... boxes... / (sensorial) a creeping dread
not surprisingly the move itself turns out to be something of a gargantuan epic of pain, stairs and lifting... o, and more stairs... with some pain and lifting thrown in for good measure. mr. roast, mr. cheeses and the venerable gude have been drafted in to assist and they each do a sterling job, with very little complaining and negligible irritation and growling from the venerable gude. i can't thank them all enough, as without them the day would have become a whole weekend, and the weekend would have become a hell on earth. as a last symbolic act at the old place (symbolic of what i've no idea), i throw an acoustic guitar we've somehow acquired over the years out of the third floor window -it breaks but somewhat unspectacularly, and i'm forced to finish the job at street level, rock and roll style against the pavement, suffering a nasty cut on my finger in the process. o very rock and roll. as we pack the vans, scavengers crawl out of the estate and pick over the useless shit we've thrown away, discarded furniture vanishes in between trips, squirreled away to god only knows where, one of the scavengers climbs into a wheely-bin full of glass to root around for treasure and a strange old man steals away with part of the guitar. shouldn't these people be in a post apocalyptic film starring charlton heston?
in between trips up and down the stairs i manage to eat what amounts to roughly my own body weight in cadbury's mini-rolls. sugar = zing!
having been off tea for a few years (for reasons too bizarre and embarrassing to go into here), during a blissful tea break i imbibe a brew the likes of which i have never tasted. best. tea. ever. no wonder those monkeys needed some after shifting that piano.
chicken tikka pitta. try saying that ten times fast.
the new flat quickly fills up with boxes, in a scene reminiscent of the last shot in raiders of the lost ark. too... much... stuff... quick! jettison furniture, lest we sink the building...
and in another filmic reference, by the end of the day my hands look like a scene from the passion of the christ, cuts, scratches, welts and gouges... i've also acquired an impressive selection of bruises of many hue, without the memory of how i got a single one. mr. roast and mr. gude both report a catalogue of lumps and bumps acquired on the day. naked we' probably all look like we're smuggling blue walnuts. now there's an image.
i go back a day or so later to pick up a few bits and pieces. the last moments i spend in the old house are spent hunched over the toilet bowl painfully trying to disengage our leopard skin toilet seat. a fitting end to my time at pentonville mountain i think.
recommended: (audio) the words "that's everything" / (comestible) tea at half time / (visual) an emptied van / (sensorial) this part of the move done
reviled: (audio) the words "now all we have to do is unpack" / (comestible) lettuce in a chicken tikka pitta / (visual) a sea of brown cardboard / (sensorial) my screaming arms
and much has been the discussion of a piece of furniture's 'footprint'.
on the first night we try out the local chippie. i order a burger, in my opinion the test of any good chippie. hostess elisabeth has cod and chips. good burger, good fish. thumbs up. ok, we'll stay.
the new place is just that: newly built. all white walls and untouched surfaces; the sickly odour of wet paint loiters in the corridors... it's a few days before the council can agree on our full post code and for a comforting period of time it's almost like we don't exist.
the carpet in the bedrooms moults like a startled afgan hound, and we have to vacuum away the excess pelt before it clings to everything. is this the new building's stress response to being inhabited?
the bathroom / toilet has an extractor fan that's triggered by the light. now, while i'm well aware that the extractor has a purpose within the vicinity of a toilet, it is a little irritating that while having a shower / bath, it tends to suck all of the steam out of the air and render the room considerably colder... o, and call me stupid but it sucks all this out of the air but where does it all go?
it's the choreography of the old house that's so difficult to shake off, the physical habit of the space; the light on-step-turn-lock door, the cooker on-turn-saucepan-turn-open cupboard-reach-close cupboard etc. i'm having to re-learn the dance steps of living in a space... it's like that morcombe and wise sketch where they get up in the morning and the simple act of making breakfast becomes a full scale musical number... well someone's changed the song and it's rehearse rehearse rehearse...
the surrounding area, once i've walked past the immediate vicinity, looks distinctly dodgy. horrific looking blocks of flats and grimy housing estates proliferate... i have to keep reminding myself that pretty much 90% of london, when viewed through the eyes of a stranger, looks just as questionable... that and the fact that i have just spent the last thirteen years of my life living in kings cross.
perhaps in an attempt to ameliorate the surrounding squalor, a nearby garden has been decked out with a plethora of brightly painted garden ornaments: gnomes, windmills, foxes, clowns, you name it and some tit has cast it on concrete, slapped some red, green, yellow (or all of the above) paint on it and sat it in this garden. it looks like a circus has been sick.
however much we try, it seems to be almost impossible to get a radio signal in the new flat. even the new digital radio bought by hostess elisabeth gets little but dead air, ditto the 'analog' radio in the bathroom. there would seem to be no discernible reason for this phenomena, unless of course the flat is built on an ancient indian burial ground (unlikely, being east london an ancient indian takeaway seems more likely).
a short journey on the toy trains of the dlr finds me in the thick of canary wharf, a strange concrete and glass maze that manages to be both horribly sterile and quietly calming simultaneously. chief among it's attributes is the fact that for roughly 90% of the time, its streets are empty and quiet, disturbed only in the rush hours. it's a shiny mini metropolis that demands a kraftwerk soundtrack and a ballard novel to fully entrench it in the public consciousness. i particularly like the way the canary wharf building always looks like it's on fire.
it's so quite here that when i turn on the television, i hear the soft, gong-like sound of it powering up, something i've never heard before.
for some unknown reason we had no power to the washing machine (kind of essential) or the dish washer (ok, a new luxury). after nearly a week of back and forth they send round dave, an aging rocker with long thinning hair, seaside tattoos and biker boots. a genial sort of chap, he tells me that they've had this trouble with other flats in the block; apparently the fuses for the machines, stupidly placed behind said machines (so as to make them impossible to get to without the machines' removal) were only 3 amp, whereas they should of course have been 13 amp. dave's boss trev (younger, clipboard, wearing the construction company's fleece) turns up to explain that when the fuses are in the packet all you can see is the 3 and you can't tell the difference. g e n i u s. so if this is the standard of construction then what other gems are we to expect? i think i should check all fixtures and fittings for the lego trademark.
the reinstallment of the washing machine, while laying on the kitchen
floor kicking it back into its hole under
the worktop (no, really) dave tells me that he was called out
to a job in harlow last week where the dishwasher had packed up...
all day sunday hostess elisabeth and myself beaver away to build a frankly huge desk / cabinet / storage unit from ikea, bought to house the pc and assorted accessories; imagine the black monolith from 2001: a space odyssey in tasteful 'antique pine' and you're on the right lines. this move was also marked by the loss of my ikea virginity; and i have to say i was dreading it. i'd heard the horror stories. thankfully we managed to go when it was virtually empty and so it wasn't really much of a chore -crowded though i can imagine it being a fucking purgatory. a few days after we go, there's a report on the news about a new ikea opening in edmonton; they opened the doors at midnight and there were riots. several customers were hospitalised and they were forced to close. people. idiots.
Apparently no one is an upholsterer until they have their own magnetic hammer...
the heaters in the flat have a strange 'off peak' heat storage system involving, so it says, bricks inside the units... i don't claim to understand it, it all sounds a bit medieval to me but as long as hostess elisabeth understands it then as i see it, i don't have to.
our new building backs on to the limehouse cut canal, which seems to go some way to fulfilling hostess elisabeth's elemental needs, not to mention a possible handy dumping ground for murder weapons / bodies sometime in the future (note to self...) yesterday i passed the canal and saw two swans gliding lazily along it, glancing disinterestedly about them like visiting dignitaries; proving that serenity can exist, if only in the blissful ignorance of the animal kingdom...
recommended: (audio) the gong-like t.v. / (comestible) good burger / (visual) two swans a-swimming / (sensorial) smug satisfaction at having built the antique pine monolith
reviled: (audio) unintelligible radio reception / (comestible) re-heated pasta / (visual) a garden of circus vomit / (sensorial) an inescapable disconnectedness