The little print shop next to The Gunners pub has collapsed. For several days workmen* had been gutting the building and digging down into its foundations, presumably in a madcap attempt to burrow into the public bar of The Gunners and steal some valuable signed photos of ’71 double-winning skipper Frank McClintock. Blackstock Road was closed for a couple of days so the buses had to come down our road. On Monday morning, as I tried to confront the usual nappy shit, Weetabix globules and The Tweenies at full volume, some people looked down into our sitting room from the no. 19 bus and collectively let out a sigh of relief that they weren’t me.
* I use this term loosely – it was actually just a few blokes with digging equipment which they were obviously using for the first time.
The big ploughed trackways are still there in the park, makeshift wooden fencing on each side. It appears they are connecting two major poo pipelines in the N16 area. This morning two blokes had a suction tube down a large manhole, presumably sucking up liquid shit then transporting to a part of the country that’s suffering from a runny faeces deficit.
Yesterday – 7th January – I saw the first ladybird of Spring. It landed on the screen of my Imac while I was checking the latest Premiership table. Then the phone rang. It was a woman from the Alliance and Leicester asking if I’d like a loan. They’re pissed off with me because I recently paid off the balance on my credit card and are trying strong-arm tactics to get me back on the high interest bandwagon. After I’d told her to get lost I went back to play with my new insect friend. But the ladybird had gone.
It rained all day today. Various little streams have appeared in the roads, all pouring down the Hackney Brook valley at different points. The two biggest run down Green Lanes and diagonally North-East through Clissold Park towards Grazebrook Road. I was splashing about in one of them when a car horn hooted and a woman leaned out of the window, fag in mouth, looking at me. I walked over to the car.
– Are you lost?
Then she stared past me, up at the block of flats accross the road, and blew smoke on my waterproof.
I’m trying to finish an outline for a new travel book, which might be about the Vikings in some way. This planning stage is the hardest thing about writing. Anyway, today I spent about 20 minutes messing about with the cut and paste function, then put on ‘Straight Outta Boone County’ (Cowboy Songs, Home Songs, Western Songs, Mountain Songs) and have so far spent the rest of my time attempting to recreate 1940s style vocal harmonies, every now and then popping downstairs to put on some more coffee. Pretending To Be A Country And Western Singer is a classic procrastination technique for a writer.
Due to my dodgy eye (detached retina) I’m having problems reading the type on screen. Full stops now appear as commas.
A mother is walking through the park with a small boy following behind, dribbling a football. A squirrel runs across their path.
“I used to see red squirrels when I was little,” says mum. The boy isn’t listening. He’s doing commentaries to himself as he jogs along.
” There were lots of them at my Auntie Jo’s house,” she says. The boy kicks the ball against the fence and makes a crowd noise. His mum sighs.
“They’re mostly grey squirrels now.”
The sound of Aled Jones singing fills the streets of Highbury Vale. Perhaps a fan of squeaky chorister recordings has moved in to the area. Or it’s the Welsh songbird himself (possibly showing off to a new girlfriend in his bedsit). Either way, it’s bad news.
Seeing as I was barred from using Stoke Newington library due to by inability to let go of their copy of ‘Water Nymphs and Fairies’, I decide to venture into town and browse around for stuff in the huge new Waterstones in Picadilly that used to be Simpsons department store. We went along for their closing down sale. Every tweedy sports jacket in the country had been rounded up here before being taken off to the countryside to be shot and burned on huge pyres. My Dad, who likes sportsjackets and has been wearing them since 1957, caressed them longingly but decided not to buy. I asked a sales assistant if they had anything about the masons and underground rivers. Sorry sir, this is a clothes shop. Come back in a few months time when Waterstones will ve here,
Not a cafe in the classic sense. The girls who work on the bread counter fumble about with the buttons on the coffee machine then squeal with delight when they evenutally get it right. Coffee not bad, if over foamy. They sell papers too though, generally, not the ‘left wing’ ones (whatever that means nowadays).
Wandering through frantic yet beautiful Holloway on a blazing afternoon I come to the junction of Camden Road, pleased with myself for managing to get this far without purchasing any second hand office furniture (it’s an addiction, you see). Suddenly a small motorbike appears on the pedestrian island in the middle of the road. Its owner, a mad-looking heat-crazed red haired bloke with a very red face, is screaming at another guy who apparently has just “laughed” at his bike. It’s all a bit over the top – lots of “come on then you slag” and “who’s laughing now!!?” etc etc. Tiredly, I put my hand on the biker’s arm as he tries to ‘run over’ the teaser and say, as calmly as possibly in my best hippy voice “hey man, there’s kids. In prams”.
Mad Biker turns his gaze to me and screams at the top of his voice “Yeah!?!?” Worried that he might now try to ‘run’ me ‘over’ I quickly walk away and head for the nearest second hand furniture
Back home to the sticks to watch it in a crowded smoky East Midlands pub. I’m stood next to a scouser and we get into one of those Glanevillesque conversations about history, technique and tactics. He seems like a reasonable fellow and I buy him a pint. As the pints flow, he starts to take the existence of David Seaman and the Neville brothers as a personal affront.
In the second half some younger lads come in and slightly obscure his view of the big screen. Words are spoken. It looks like it’s going to kick off. I try to calm him down, explaining that it’s only a friendly and not worht getting too upset about. He gives me a look of withering contempt and spits “It’s football. It’s ALL important.” Then goes to stand at the bar with his mates.
1-1. England were ploddy and Brazil having a laugh.