Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Tuesday 17/07/07

So where I live is a very touristy area and there are lots of hotels around and you really can’t walk down the street to take the rubbish out without stumbling upon some group of Canadian or central European tourists dragging those annoying suitcases on wheels behind them looking at an internet print-out trying to find their hotel.

I am definitely not complaining about the tourists like many other Londoners do because: a) I like living in an area that people want to visit from around the world and if I didn’t I’d move out to Leytonstone, b) I was one of those tourists on several occasions when I used to visit London in my teenage years, c) I am one of those tourists now when I go anywhere else. So in conclusion we like the tourists.

We like those wheelie suitcase things less though, because you can’t really see them when somebody’s dragging them behind and you end up walking into them or you try to get in the lift that takes you to the tube platform thinking there is space left, but no, the space is occupied by a stupid wheelie bag.

But we’re not here to moan. Other benefits of having all these tourists around are:

- You go to Tesco on Sunday mornings and see lots of inappropriately dressed tall, fit American boys with nice calves wearing board shorts and sunglasses

- (I haven’t put this to the test yet because I have a boyfriend but) you can easily meet somebody walking around here, go to their hotel room and sleep with them, spend a couple of days there, think you’ve fallen in love, then never see them again, i.e. have a brief holiday romance on your doorstep, without the need to trave

- Finally, when the summer finally arrives in London, you can go to the park which is 2 minutes from where I live and stare at all the people mentioned in points 1 and 2 with their shirts off, throwing a ball at each other whilst drinking out of beer cans. For the time being unfortunately, you can only see them walking around in rain jackets

But the main reason why I started writing this tribute to my area is a bar that’s located very near my house on the main touristy street around here. Let me give you a quick overview: Tiny entrance that gives you no clue of what it’s like inside. Big plastic white sign with palm trees painted on above the door. Open all the bloody time when I walk past – presumably 24 hours. Stairs that go down once you step in. Darkness looms. Never seen anyone enter. Sweaty, overweight Middle Eastern guy stood outside as security looking bored.

I speculate that once you go in, you go downstairs to find an uninterested, lonely barman in waistcoat and bow tie, with Bacardi stained sleeves glazing over at the TV screen which is showing Columbo repeats on a constant loop. There is a single mumbling drunken guy sitting on a bar stool holding some kind of malt and a small group of Danish teenagers who stumbled in and decided to stay because at least they can get served – they’re on Budweiser. The music (Laura Branigan’s Self Control followed by Alphaville signing Big In Japan followed by Francesco Napoli) is relatively quiet and the tapes are a little worn out but still playing.

I’m becoming obsessed with this bar, because it seems so drab, decadent and tatty. It might have been a destination in 1988 (I can even imagine a relatively big opening with people dancing to Taylor Dayne’s Tell It To My Heart) but now it just attracts lost tourists and alcoholics. It won’t close down though, it just keeps going. For some reason I’m attracted to that, it’s so sweet and melancholic.

What I want to do is go there when I’m feeling really down and really be part of this. I can see the following happening: Scott dumps me, I’m devastated, I go there on a Wednesday night, get hammered drinking vodka straight, pass out and get thrown out by the Middle Eastern guy, fall asleep on the doorstep not being able to walk for 2 minutes and get home. I wake up around midday, obviously having missed work, drag myself to my flat where I stay until 8pm crying / drinking more / listening to Roxette, then I go back and repeat.

Here are some pictures of the place (both real and imaginary).

(Speculation) This sign hangs next to the TV. The letter R is broken though and is not lit.

(Speculation) This is what it looks like inside. Lots of neon. Helf empty bottles. The fridges are empty though.

(Real). Actual picture of the bar I'm talking about. I've blocked out name so you can't google it and find where I live.

On a more positive note, I think after a week of not eating again I’ve got my abs back.

I have 1 song by Auf Der Maur and I have played it 4 times
I have 1 song by The Automatic and I’ve played it 4 times
I have 3 songs by The Avalanches and I’ve played them 30 times


Matt said...

I think these bars are a quirk of London life...there is a similar one in Pimlico too, although a little more classy; no plastic tacky sign--it is carved wood! Never ventured in and never cared to.

JohnnyM said...

I know the exact bar, as I used to go there in 1991-92. I lived over in the next post code to the west at the time, was playing 'straight' at the time, and it was a regular feature for me and the boys once the Slug & Lettuce or Rat & Parrot had called time but we still wanted more.

I would reckon the bar was then at the height of its powers, though we slightly celebrated its naffness even then. Its claim to fame was that it was open *late* - one of those bars for which 11pm had never meant last orders. In 1992 that was a rare prize. Sticky tables, cramped, warm bottles of beer - but still serving! I think you may have even been required to buy a very cheap pizza that no-one would actually eat.

I can't say for the inside decor, but you will be comforted to know that the outside - from what I see - has not changed a jot in 15 years.

What a shudder of a memory you just brought back...


Steven said...

I do the same thing for my abs. Starvation is the best exercise.

Ben said...

I don't know London very well at all, but I think I may have dined at the chinese restaurant next door. Is there a cinema across the road?