Saturday, July 27, 2013

D?B! In The UK Part Three

I wake early, it must be seven thirty. There is a thin shard of light seeping into the room from somewhere. Everyone else appears to be fast asleep. Viktor is sleeping what looks to be very uncomfortably on a sofa that is obviously far too small for him. I smirk to myself, thinking of last night and his moaning. I check my phone. Seven thirty-eight. There is a text message. It's from Kev and it was sent at five-thirty. WHAT'S THE CODE FOR THE DOOR?. I have to contain myself from laughing out loud. I roll back over onto my side and lie there, content for another hour at least, thinking of the state Kev must be in this morning, and wondering where the fuck he ended up.

Boulty has a band coming in to record at ten so we have to be up and ready to go by then. Our train is at twelve-fifteen anyway, so we're up in good time, taking turns to wash off in the toilet sinks. It's another gloriously sunny day. I'm feeling good this morning. Despite things being pretty fucked up last night, it was a really great show and I'm still buzzing about it. Sheffield was a lot of fun but poorly attended, last night was everything I'd hoped it would be. Apart from the whole murder thing of course..

Kev calls me just as we're finishing packing. The fucker sounds as bright as a button. How the fuck has he managed that? He tells us he'll be at the venue in five. When he walks through the door he does indeed appear unscathed by last night's excess. I ask him about the text message he sent a few hours ago, wondering where he'd slept. My hopes that he'd made his way back to the venue and sent the text from the locked door, freezing and tired, were soon quashed though. He'd sent the text from the Angel, of course. When he received no answer he simply crashed out there. And now he looks like he just rolled out of a hotel bed. Fuck knows how he does it..

I was wondering if Boulty would mention the door we broke in through last night, but he says nothing. He's his usual, happy self, flying about the place getting stuff sorted for the recording he's doing. Thinking back, I don't think we actually damaged the door, and we closed it behind us, so it should be fine. Best not to mention it right now though, I think to myself all the same. Boulty is still understandably a bit pissed off about what happened with the fire extinguisher last night, knowing he's going to be landed with a bill. But hopefully the scene here appreciates him enough to support him if he needs to put on a fund raiser to pay for the damages. They certainly should do, he's done a lot for the scene in this city, and if he's forced to stop the shows here it will be a travesty.

We thank Boulty again and then head off back on that trek to the station. The gear feeling that little bit heavier this morning, although Kev is powering ahead of us, fully loaded. Luk is walking beside me, telling me of his admiration for the old bastard. As we pass through the Seventies shopping mall again, Kev smirks to me as we pass by the cave tour entrance, asking me if I still want to go down there. I think next time I'm here I might just do that..

I'm hoping for a warm, cooked breakfast but there is nothing happening at the station. We have to settle for Spa snacks and a couple of pasties from Gregg's. We sit on the platform floor eating this rubbish whilst we wait for the train. The journey takes a couple of hours and we sit about eating more of the shite that is our breakfast and telling old tales, as usual. As I'm settling down in to the journey I pull out a Terry's Chocolate Orange, not the bar but the actual full on orange, the one you used to get in your stocking at Christmas. I hadn't thought anything of it, I'd bought it at Spa since it was on a deal for a quid. I love orange chocolate but I rarely eat it at home since Jen hates the stuff, says it tastes like sick. Kev takes one look at my Terry's and his eyes stretch open in amazement. “What the fuck is that?”

“What? Terry's Chocolate Orange” I reply, slightly bemused.

“Fuck me! That is extravagance in the extreme! Fucking Scando toff!” Kev exclaims, shaking his head in utter disbelief. I realise now that this must look like I'm completely taking the piss. Of course, the pound is very weak right now, especially against the Swedish krona, so for us everything feels pretty much half price. I hadn't taken the Chocolate Orange to fuck with him though, I'd just found it on offer for a quid and thought that was a bargain. Normally they cost three quid or something.. So I can see why Kev thought I was taking the piss. “It was only a fucking quid!” I say, looking in Vik's direction who is pissing himself laughing.

We had been talking earlier about fucking with Kev this weekend, starting a wind up campaign. One idea we had was to go to the cash machine when Kev was around, take out twenty quid, hoping to get two ten pound notes, and then when Kev is looking, inspect the notes, take the crispier of the two and throw the other one away. I reveal this, as well as other plans we had for Kev now, since I managed to achieve said wind up with a fucking Chocolate Orange anyway. “I would have just picked the fucker up and put in my pocket” he says, matter of factly. Hmmm, hadn't really though of that.

Kev is starting to look just the slightest bit hungover now, restoring my faith in physics a little. He always gets fucked up in Nottingham, there is no escaping if for him. Wayne tells us about the last time they were there, with BUGS, and Kev had to be pulled away from a scrap completely of his own making, outside the chip shop by the Angel, the place we were at last night whilst we were waiting for him.

Apparently, Wayne and the other BUGS had found Kev loitering outside the chippy, steamboats, rocking back and forth. Suddenly a random guy comes out of the chippy, probably pretty drunk himself, and stands there tucking into his bag for a while. Being pissed and presumably having drunken eyes bigger than his drunken belly, the guy turns to Kev and asks if he wants the rest of his chips. This apparently, is like a red rag to a bull. “What the fuck did you just say?” Kev barks at the guy accusingly.

Wayne jumps in directly, “Now now Kev, come on mate, calm down, he only asked if you wanted his chips..”

“No he didn't! He said, do you want the rest of these chips? Ya bastard!” riles Kev. We all piss ourselves laughing at this point of Wayne's story. Kev still swears blind that this is in fact what the guy said to him. The laughing just continues as Kev states his side of the story, Wayne shaking his head in disagreement. Kev soon gives up, smiles to himself and closes his eyes in the vain pursuit of sleep.

We arrive at St. Pancras a little after two pm. Kev had called ahead for a cab which is to be waiting for us. After some mild confusion the cab turns up and we pile all the gear and ourselves into it. It's hot and it's cosy in the cab, and the journey across London takes a little while. As we near Deptford I'm dying to get out and breath some air but the going is slow. We turn off down a narrow street with cars parked on either side, leaving no room to drive down. We're so close to the Bird's Nest we could probably walk it in five minutes but this street is blocked off at the end by traffic police. The cabbie backs up the car, attempting to turn around in this tightest of spaces. He hadn't backed up more than a meter when we hear a thud. He's driven straight into some car behind him. We look at each other, trying not to grin, but grinning anyway. The thud is followed by a loud horn and a female voice shouting. The car he's hit was following us up the road and he simply hadn't seen her. My grin subsides quickly when I realise this might mean a lot of fucking about and waiting, but thankfully the cabbie is back in the car shortly afterwards, it seems there was no damage caused, not to the cars in any case. Maybe his ego was a little bruised.

It's roasting hot when we pile in to the Waiting Room. Alec is working, as well as Karin, one of the troupe of Swedish girls that work at the café, funny that... Of course, Luk has spotted her and is already proffering his love for her to us. Telling us that he could make the rest of her days a happy affair. We sit outside the shop drinking ice coffee and melting in the heat. Goy, Kev's old co-screamer in Hard To Swallow has turned up and he's telling us all about his trip to Maryland Death Fest. Infest had played, what more do you need to know? It's great seeing Goy, always fun to hang out with him. It seems like he had a good time over there and he goes through the highlights of the Fest. We had an awesome show there with Victims a couple of years ago so I can only imagine how much fun it must have been seeing Infest.

There has been a growing phenomena about the Infest seven inch they released just before the Fest that they were selling at the show. First new Infest record in fuck knows how long. Goy had bought himself and Kev a copy each, for something like six dollars. I don't know how many they pressed but they're obviously sold out now and going for insane amounts of money on Ebay.

It's punishing sitting in the direct sunlight outside the café, and it's a relief when we have to go and sort gear out for the gig tonight, as much as it's been fun chatting to Goy. He's coming to the show later anyway. We head around to the John and Marv's practice space to pick up a couple of bass cabs and a head that Kev is hiring for the show. Kev is tonight's promoter. Kev and I head up to a music store down the road from the Nest to pick up a four by twelve speaker cab and Marshall JCM 900 amp. We have to wheel the thing across a suicidal junction with no traffic lights before pushing it back up the road to the Nest. I ask Kev how he can still be arsed doing this, letting him know how much I appreciate the energy and enthusiasm he still has for this lark. “You should try this on your own in the rain” he smiles.

We leave the gear at the venue, there are still a few hours to kill before things kick off. There are about eight bands playing tonight and we're third from last, right before EGS. We're all soaked in sweat and desperate for a shower, so after checking what time Slow Plague are on we head up the road to Viv's place to chill out for a while.

The sun is blaring through the open windows of Viv's living room when she walks in and finds the three of us, lazing about her floor bare chested. Viv's face lights up in delight at the sight of the half naked Swedes in her flat. “Ooooo allo! Is this my birthday present?” We burst into song, singing Happy Birthday to her. It actually is her birthday today.

It's a welcome rest, hanging out at her place for a couple of hours. The shower is much appreciated. Feeling a lot cleaner and a lot healthier for it, we head back down to the Nest, arriving a little while before Slow Plague are on. The whole Deptford crew are here. On the way from Viv's we'd bumped into Mucky and his brother, my good friend Karl and his wife, Jules. They've come up from Brighton for the show. It was great seeing them. Otherwise there is Alec, his girlfriend and the Waiting Room and Kids Love Ink contingents. Misa, our lovely Japanese friend is here, smiling broadly with a pint in her hand, laughing as always. Kelly Apple and Viv are here, the EGS guys, Neasan and Niall, old Speedhorn friends. It should be a great night, the place is already pretty packed.

We head next door to the pizza place to get some food. The pizza place is actually an old red London bus sticking out of a brick wall, with a courtyard beside it. Pretty cool place but the pizza isn't that great in all honesty. Still, it's nice chilling out there for a while. Some of Luk's old friends are here too, a Spanish girl called Bea who he worked with here who seems cool, as well as some other old work mates. It feels like there is a party on the cards. Shame I have a cab booked from Viv's place at five am to catch the eight am flight.. But I push that to the back of my mind for now. Besides, it will be nice to get home early to the family tomorrow.

The place is busy when Slow Plague start their show. It has been great fun hanging out with our friends for the last few days. I'm going to miss them. They play a good show as always, although it's kind of weird watching them perform in the Nest with daylight seeping through the windows. Their music is made more for the setting of a dark, dank cellar. By the time we play an hour and a half later thankfully the sun has left for the day.

The stage/floor at the Nest is set up in a tight corner of the pub. It's one of those places where the actual bar is situated as an island in the middle of the room, really old style London pub. It creates a pretty tight space for the band to play in and for anybody who wants to watch with a clear view. It works really well. I'm feeling the buzz as we're setting up. Lots of friends here, lots of other punks, packed into the corner of the pub to see us. I feel a hand on my arse as I'm bent over sorting my tuner pedal out, it's Chris from Kids Love Ink, giving me a big smile. Saucy sod.

The gig flies by, they normally do being that the set is only fifteen minutes with stops and tuning breaks. Still fucked by the end of it though. It feels like it sounds really good and I have a blast with Kev, flying in and out of the crowd. The small stage there is only big enough for Vik and his kit, although Luk finds room to fit in there somewhere. Kev and I spend the duration of the gig on the floor though. Wayne and another punk I don't recognise are up front for the whole show, enjoying themselves by the look of it. This is the third show and I can feel how tight it is compared to just a couple of days ago. It's the old third show rule. Shame we're not staying out on tour for a little longer.

Thankfully I don't drop Jamie's guitar tonight, and the damage from last night seems to be minimal. At one point during the show Vik asks for the microphone and takes the opportunity to thank Pablo and Wayne and the BUGS guys for helping us out with these shows and making it possible for us to be here playing. Funny seeing Vik on the mic, he seems to love it.

There is a good buzz from the show afterwards and it's fun as always hanging out with everyone. Luk's friend Bea has taken a load of photos and she's showing us them, a lot of cool shots in there. Luk is also making his first moves on Karin, the new love of his life. He's got the Brazilian charm on full throttle, she seems to be digging it too.

Before long Endless Grinning Skulls take to the stage. I'm stood with Luk right in front of Gords and the sound is fucking brilliant. It's one of those shows that forces a smile on your face. A lot of people in the crowd are friends. Kelly Apple and Misa are right at the front, Misa constantly laughing and falling about with a pint in one hand, giving the V with the other to anyone she falls into. Brilliant. There is this soft old Italian guy that normally hangs out at the coffee shop, wearing trousers and a woollen vest, very proper looking, although the look on his face gives him away, right in the middle of the mosh pit. He's getting knocked about all over the place by the punks but seems to be loving every minute of it.

EGS are simply a fantastic live band, even as a three piece in Pat's absence. Andy, Gords and Steve are tight as fuck together and just brilliant musicians. I spend the entirety of the show smiling my ass off. When they play their song Endless Grinning Skulls, I can't help but jump up alongside Gords and sing along to the chorus. It's that kind of night. Absolutely magic. Punk rock is a truly wonderful thing.

There is a last band on the bill but I'm spent after EGS. We spend the rest of the evening relaxing outside in the cool night air, hanging out with our friends. The night is getting later and later though and I know it's soon time to go. I don't want to but that's the way it is. There will be plenty of other occasions I tell myself. Mucky, Karl and Alec leave before I do though, but without a parting gem from Mucky. He's asking me if Viv has made a move on Luk yet, he's very excited by the prospect of her eating him alive as it were. I tell him no. He gives me and Vik a twenty pound note and raves, “Get Luk drunk on this and get him to make a move on Viv! It has to happen!!” We piss ourselves laughing, but Mucky refuses the return of the twenty. We put it straight behind the bar.

One more pint and I say my goodbyes to everyone. On the way out I bump into a by now very drunk Goy who gives me a big sloppy kiss on the lips and tells me he loves me. Viv asks me if I have lots of pictures of Polly on my Facebook page and when I tell her there are a few she asks if we can be cyber friends. I laugh and tell her of course, wishing her happy birthday again. She's a really nice girl. She tells me that when we're over next to play the Fuk Reddin' Fest her apartment will be empty since all the guys that live there are away working then and that we can stay there for the weekend. The group of friends we have in this part of the world and the hospitality they show us are truly wonderful. I hug her and everyone else, and leave Kev, Vik and Luk to the after-party, making my way back up the road to Viv's place in Brockley, alone.

It's late when I get back, and there isn't a sound in the house. I have a quick wash and then lay myself down on the double mattress on Viv's living room floor. My cab is booked for five am. It's now one-thirty. I know without any doubt that I'm not going to sleep. How many times have I been here before? All the same, it's nice just lying there resting. I wonder how the guys are getting on...

As it turns out they end up in a night club in New Cross. Quite an experience for the Brazilian and the Swede I imagine. I hear reports of Kev disco dancing, Luk being hit on by a guy at the bar, Vik finding some chav fucker with his nose pissing with blood in the bogs, having just been smacked by some other chav fucker. As Vik is standing there pissing some guy who works at the club comes in and mops up the substantial amount of blood from the floor as if it's nothing. All in a night's work..

It's around three-thirty when they come back. I haven't slept a wink. It sounds like there are a few of them here with Viv for an after-party but their tones are hushed and they hang out in the kitchen so as not to disturb me. It's ok, I've long since given up on the idea of getting any sleep. My cab will be here in two hours. Luk comes in a short while later and tells me that things didn't work out with him and Karin. Never mind buddy, there are plenty more fish in the sea and all that. That fucker is constantly sat by the shore-side with his rod in the water anyway. Vik comes in a while after Luk, laughing about the nights events, pretty drunk by now. Before long they're both asleep, Vik beside me on the double mattress, Luk on the couch. It's four am, cab will be here in an hour. These guys are travelling home on Monday, the day after tomorrow. Their flight is at six am. I guess that's worse...

I leave the house in silence at five am and stand on the empty high street waiting for my taxi to turn up. Fifteen minutes go by, just enough for me to start getting a little nervous, but then he turns up. I'm hoping to be able to just sit in the back and shut my eyes whilst he takes me to Gatwick but it's not happening. The driver is this really friendly African guy who is very happy to chat. We spend the next forty minutes talking about his family and his life here in London, about Polly and Stockholm, about the Master's Degree he's waiting on the results for and about the bar I run and the bands I play in. I'm fucking knackered but my constant curiosty in other's lives and their stories helps me forget about that for the time being.

It's just gone six by the time I get to Gatwick.

No sleep 'till Stockholm I guess...

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