Chapter 14

Friday 11th June

Since my younger brother Tom has been able to walk, I have offered my services as his musical mentor in order to protect him from nefarious, brain-numbing kiddie pop. Exposing him to the delights of Public Enemy and Nirvana at an early age has enabled him to foment an appreciation of contemporary music that will see him safely through life.Tonight I meet him is Islighton to see three bands at the Highbury Garage: Kill Kenada (very loud, very shouty), Yourcodenameis: Milo (very loud, very shouty) and Ikara Colt (very loud, very screamy in an "Iggy Pop" stylee.)

The audience is around half my age and a majority interpret my Marks & Spencer terylene trousers as some kind of ironic statement and/or an attack against High Street consumerism rather than not being bothered to change from my work clothes. I make a brief socio-demographic survey. A lot of arty, "my parents don't understand me" teenagers, one mullet, the maitre d' of The Garage who looks like Sharon Osbourne's younger sister and a sprinkling of Goths in their black Camden Market garb, regulation morose expressions and a tectonic plate of make-up. Ikara Colt are particularly fine, a maelstrom of thrashing guitars and sweat that causes some serious stage-diving at the front. I remain seated like an arthritic grandad towards the back, nodding my head gently in appreciation and thinking that I should be at home with the imaginary kids.

Saturday 12th June

The vacuum-cleaner has committed hari-kiri. After 8-years of undinting service it seems to have packed up and gone to the great vacuum cemetry in the sky. Tomoko is quite excited, in fact I suspect a little domestic appliance skullduggery has transpired in the middle of the night, but I have no concrete evidence.

We spend the morning getting increasingly confused by the array of vacuum-cleaners now clogging the market. Cylinder, bagged, 1000 Watt power, 2000 Watt power, transparent vacuums, vacuums that will tap you gently on the shoulder each morning and say: "Wake up, Sir." After visiting a few electrical shops down Purley Way, we venture towards Croydon town centre and find a nice Bosch whose colour matches with the settee and is half-price. I take it for a test-vacuum as soon as we return home and it manages to suck up the plaster from between the wooden floorboards. It is my new favourite toy.

Jude's Chicken

BBQ at Jude's in Fulham. The perfect BBQ was DJ Jazzy Jeff's in summertime in the early 1990's, Will Smith rapping amongst a harem of bikini-clad babes surrounding a swimming pool on a scorching day in Miami. Unfortunately BBQ's in Britain are slightly different: a disposable tin-foil tray purchased for £5.99 at Tescos, three bottles of Tizer, a pack of economy blue-line hamburgers (20% meat and the rest unidentifiable) and a packet of chicken legs that insist on getting charred to a cinder (see right) before agreeing to be cooked on the inside. At one of my impromptu teenage "parents are away...let's have a party" soirees circa 1988 someone (allegedly Sven the Hippy) marinated the chicken in laxatives, which resulted in a panicking queue for the toilet after about twenty minutes. Fortunately Jude does not have a penchant for such infantile pranks and her skewers of pork and asparagus accompanied by chicken marinated in a mustard and honey sauce are delicious, comme d'habitude.

Jude's Chicken

We are joined by Shelley, her boyfriend Steve and Jude's Dutch pal "JP". Whilst tending to the barbecue I interrogate JP about Holland's contribution to the world, which we reduce down to clogs painted with windmills and the Venga Boys. As the dissection of JP's homeland intensifies, just as we discover that the Dutch line their clogs with straw in the winter, the leaden clouds gather overhead as if God had suddenly become bored of Mankind and would end the world this very Sunday afternoon. He begins his Armageddon by deluging our barbecue with torrential rain and unlike Will Smith and his homies, we are forced to finish the food in Judes slightly cramped back kitchen. Obviously God decided that watching Jude and I attempting to finish off the chicken legs under an umbrella amidst a typhoon was amusing and postponed the end of the world until another day.

Sunday 13th June
Wayne Rooney

A glorious day of sunshine ruined by the French. Tomoko and I sit down to watch the England v France match. I am terrible watching sport, a mass of fidgets. I spend the whole time shouting at the TV in a suspended state of agitation. Wayne Rooney (pictured left) is magnificent (24/25), as is Ledley King (21/25) and Frank Lampard (21/25). Except for his cross for the goal, Beckham was a shadow of his former self (12/25) and Michael Owen might as well have stayed in Liverpool (12/25). With full-time virtually up we are on the cusp of a famous victory and then Zidane scores two goals in injury-time. I spend the rest of the evening swallowing the bitterest pill, wondering what the hell Gerrard was doing.

I seek solace in Big Brother 5, which is going from strength to strength and is easily the best of the series. Putting two hyperactive, solipsistic girls in the bedsit is a masterstroke sending them both insane with voyeuristic frustration. Well, that's my social life sorted until August.

Monday 14th June
Bloc Party

Tonight, myself and my trusty cohort Jude are off to the Islington Academy to see Bloc Party, a band so hot that they could spontaneously self-implode and turn into a white dwarf at any moment. Jude is not your indie-music die-hard like my brother, but does her best and comes attired in the most indie outfit her wardrobe could offer: a white blouse covered in cherries, jeans and bright red shoes. Unfortunately the ebullient Jude constantly exudes sunshine and she has not quite mastered the faux world-weary expression of your archetypal indie apostle.

Our evening begins with food: a pleasant eaterie at exclamation mark deprived "Est Est Est". The headwaiter sports a tight pair of trousers that impedes respiration and is a doppelganger of Jean-Claude Van Damme. Perhaps it is the "Muscles from Brussels" since all his films have hovered within or just below shite since 1987 and a pizza parlour in Islington High Street offered a more promising career. His testosteron-fuelled peacock strutting is ruined when I notice large patches of sweat under his armpits. My other observation is the guy at the adjacent table wearing a "Beautiful South" t-shirt. I can only assume that he was not concentrating when he was getting dressed this morning .

We head down the road to the Academy and order beers. The first band soon begin: with the exception of the drummers, the two guitarists and the lead-singer, the four-piece are fine. Jude is unimpressed by Komakuni, who epitomise the words "self-indulgent dirge" with considerable aplomb. With beers being consumed at a steady rate, Jude and I soon befriend the Bloc Party t-short sellers by informing them that sales would increase if they had been ironed beforehand. Felix and Sam are both students at Kings College London, who have adopted the altruistic, caring/sharing philosophy instilled into any Left-wing student by offering their services for free.

Jude and I, the hardened capitalists that we are, begin our sermon upon the importance of money, that out there it is a dog-eat-dog world and that they should be on a commission at least. I worry that we have transformed the Entertainment Officer for Kings College into an aspiring Gordon Gekko. We begin selling the t-shirts on their behalf, whilst Jude demonstrates her masterful sales technique, which is why a significant percentage of Londoners are sporting Bloc Party t-shirts the following morning.

Bloc Party themselves are absolutely brilliant, especially "Banquet" which may win my single of the year and their debut album is due next month.

Tuesday 15th June

I have decided,
To write my diary,
As haikus.

Wednesday 16th June

Dumping "haiku" idea due to its limitations of how much one can convey to the world in but a handful of syllables. But they are an inspired conception. I can imagine some lazy Edo-period Japanese poet in Kyoto who could not be arsed to compose something long and verbose and so invents the haiku in order to churn out three-line poems that take an average of 37 seconds to write.

Staying with high culture, I admit that I am completely addicted to Big Brother 5. Now, you couldn't say that about Nightmare on Elm Street 5, or Police Academy 5 could you?
I end up watching the live-feed on E4 until 12:30am, just in case a fight breaks out.

Thursday 17th June

My head is still buzzing from last night's "Carry On Lord of the Flies" a.k.a. "Big Brother 5". By lunchtime I learn that it descended into fisticuffs and the bouncers had to step into the civil war to prevent them from killing each other. Who needs "Cathy Come Home" when we have TV like this?

In the evening I sacrifice watching the England football team thump Switzerland 3-0 to attend a publicity event for Michel Rolland's Argentinian wine "Clos de los Siete". I walk down to the Argentinian Embassy where most of the UK wine press have convened, everyone attired in suits except yours truly who looks like a "Gap" reject. The wines themselves are fine (article next week) and then we are treated to an seminar courtesy of Jean-Marie Chardonnier from Dourthe. There is the usual PR spiel with the "iconic" mentioned every three words.
Why can't they just say "we are making a great bottle if vino for around a tenner".
How many people actually say "Oh darling, I really fancy an iconic wine tonight."?

Following a few tricky questions aimed at Chardronnier (e.g. why did you not seek the co-operation of the Argentinians) we retire back to the main room where I eagerly await the Ferrero Rochet to be passed round since we are in the ambassador's residence. They do not appear, but we are treated to trays of immaculately prepared canapés of which I manage to scoff about 35%. I have a quick chat with Linden Wilkie about next week's Climens tasting, a word of two with Charles Metcalfe and whispering Neil Beckett, whose holdall carries a copy of the new "Fine Wine Magazine" fresh of the press. I am disappointed that there is no music section. I have given myself twelve months to get an article printed in it.

I hurry home in order not to miss the highlights of Big Brother (and to see Tomoko of course.)