Wednesday, January 12, 2005

December 26 (Boxing Day Sunday): The Half Eaten Sausage Will See You In His Office. Today I awaken from the strangest dream. In my dream, I return to BS to visit for a meeting. The office has change, it now semi resembles the house in the Young Ones, which actually would be a fair comparison to what Chernobyl was like. I go into the reception and the big boss is on the phone (a pay phone in the hall). In the reception area, Dr Who is working at the main secretary’s desk. He is visibly pissed off at me but he speaks to me regardless. Leslie is there and, acting like a Hollyoaks character, has decided to move to Manchester to experience life (huh?). The big boss gets off the phone and comes into the reception to see us. He is scruffy, unshaven and wearing jeans, he looks like he has spent the night on the town (on the piss). He tells me he has news and I fear my blog has gone and gotten me into more trouble but he tells me how XXXX (Dad’s “employers”) have been struck off and are going into administration and will go under. This is good news for Dad and the big boss then tells me “now he won’t be able to speak him”. I go “who? Burt And Ernie?” and big boss replies “no, the chancellor of the exchequer”. What? An external camera (camera?) then moves upstairs on the building and sees Rik (from the Young Ones) bouncing and prancing about with poetic claims, he has had something published and is flying.

I awaken from this dream, the opposite of screaming.

All in all, the fantastic dream means I start the day in/on high spirits. I go into the kitchen where my parents are already up for the morning and I look out of the window and outside it is a beautiful, sunny day. Dad cooks us breakfast, bacon sandwiches cooked on a George Foreman grill, let’s call this a George Foreman moment.

I re-enter the frontroom and TV and on this morning is Citizen Kane. This is rightfully regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time, it’s all so current too with regards to a tycoon running the media, talk about foresight. Sadly however, I don’t get/manage to see all of the film as Dad comes in and wants to watch the football on Sky.

With it being such a beautiful day, I don’t have any second thoughts on going out into Clacton to get a newspaper and get a heads up start on the post-Christmas sales. And it turns out I am not alone in this/my mentality, there aren’t many shops open but the ones that are (Woolworths, WH Smith, Dixons) are filled to the rafters with families bored of eachother already. I don’t buy anything however, the queues just prove far too long.

I wind up eventually finding a News Of The World in a run down 7 to 11 (WH Smith didn’t have any). When I step in the shop, I get the usual evils from unhappy, resentful Clacton shop assistants obviously wanting to be home on the holidays. I also see however a client of the old accountants I used to work for. My god, won’t that place stop haunting me, having remembers for me everywhere I look! This particular individual reminds me double trouble, he was some wheezing sod who used to smell (stink) of fags and used to try to flirt with Sara with suggestions of jetting over to Paris whilst repulsing us in the process. He was the chatty type, a client the partners didn’t even like (wanted to get rid of) and whenever he would come into our room, I would attempt to find excuses to leave and making eye contact was an infinite no no. Today however he seems less chatty, as in nothing at all. I’m actually really surprised to see he is still in this business/property. As soon as I enter the shop, I want out.

The drive home is taken slowly and casually as I break the new camera out and take snaps on a sunny day of Clacton from behind the wheel of my car (reckless guerrilla photography).

When I get home (my parents home), my parents report to me how today’s Colchester United game has been called off. The plan was intended for about half a dozen of us to head out to it (the game) today and then go straight into town for an aftermath. And I chose this over going up to see Millwall v Ipswich. Stevo was also going to come along.

I phone Ben to confirm the facts (doubting Thomas me, doubting the parents). He says he went past the ground really early this morning and he had seen much activity outside the ground, thinking to himself “that doesn’t look hopeful”. I look on the BBC and about three games have been postponed and sod’s law one of them just had to be the one we were going to. I ask him about his Christmas Day and he says “so so” and goes to me “didn’t get your iPod then”. Whoops, I was only joking when I whinged about not getting one.

Almost immediately after getting off the phone from Ben, my phone rings and it is Stevo. He sounds rough and when I inform him the game is off (he didn’t know) he proceeds to sound even rougher. He tells me how he has had food poisoning (or at least thinks so). The devil in me suddenly hops to the hope that it was gained from the works do the day before Christmas Eve and I suddenly put together a mental (very mental!) picture of all my ex-employees on the toilet for Christmas. Stevo sounds really down though in addition to unhealthy. I ask him about Christmas and it sounds like a description from a bad sitcom. He tells me how he bought his Dad (a trainspotter) a Thomas The Tank Engine book and the man promptly returned it to him, saying he “didn’t want it” and to “give it to your god son”. And it sounds like Stevo got bupkus in return. I feel really bad for him and ask/tell him about tonight’s going out regardless but he turns down the invitation with the excuse “I wouldn’t be able to drink”. Stevo is missed by me.

Millwall v Ipswich kicks off at 1PM today, which sucks because were it kicking off at 3PM (as normal people kick off), I could still have hitched my way up to Bermondsey (by hook or by crook) and gone along. There are two things I want from this Christmas and one of them is for Millwall to beat Ipswich. I don’t care how or by what margin, I just want one over the “Tractor Boys” (grief, even their nickname conjures up images of stupidity). Getting a commentary on the internet proves next to impossible but Radio Five is in full flow, so updates are regular. Early reports are good when it is told that early on Millwall go close but from there, reports suggest a complete seachange in the other direction as Millwall go under siege from Ipswich’s notorious free flowing (and free scoring) play. And things only appear/sound to get worse when Paul Ifill gets stretcher off after 12 minutes (again!). I have to admit, with my recent suck luck I spend a lot of the time staring at the text commentary on the BBC internet bracing myself for an Ipswich goal. However right on half time, Barry Hayles bashed home a goal, much against the run of play per the commentator. It’s a gift (for me) from Santa. And the shortly after half time, once more apparently against the run of play, Dichio adds a second and I hear jingle bells.

Around this time, Chris phones me up and asks me what I am doing. I tell him how plans with Ben for football went tits up and now I am lounging slightly longer around my parents’ crib in Holland. Chris then promptly invites me to dinner around his house before going out this evening. Good call, I know I just had turkey and chips but fantastic food is guaranteed at Chris’ house. While I am on the phone, Dad comes up to me and gestures that the Millwall score is now 2-1 and I later discover that the granite Fin (ahem!) Kuqi scored a goal (an Ipswich player I have to admit to rating). Suddenly I begin to get/feel nervous as Ipswich are notorious for being free scoring generally and a comeback today would not be beyond them. However, joy beyond joy, Dobie adds a third late in the game (once more against the run of play I would imagine, as Ipswich would make themselves vulnerable pushing for an equaliser). And then that is it: Millwall 3 Ipswich 1 and my Christmas just gets better and better as the treats don’t appear to end with Christmas Day. It is only the second time all season Millwall have scored more than 2 goals and it is all excessive, with all three strikers scoring.

I leave my parents around 3.30 in order to return to Colchester to check out the PC World sale (and get some CD-Rs). As I drive home to Bohemian Grove, I continue to take photos and I (by accident) get the greatest photo of the Boxing Day dusk.

The PC World sales appears a bit of a no goer. I get my disks (at a reduced price) but the Playstation game bargains of last Boxing Day do not appear to apply.

I get home and proceed to burn CDs for Chris, a really half arsed Christmas gesture (so cheap it couldn’t even loosely qualify as a present). While I’m doing this, Chris comes online (MSN) and asks me if I could burn some stuff onto CD for him, if he emailed it to me (Monkey Island etc). I say "yay". The files however never turn up but that’s doesn’t matter because as 7PM nears, I find myself still burning his “gifts”.

6.50PM and I’m still burning and I get a stern MSN from Chris going “shouldn’t you be leaving now?”. I get there about five minutes late (blush) but I beat Tom, so he kind of covers for me inadvertently. Again the food is amazing, I have no idea what it specifically is (I’m later reminded it was “layered sliced potatoes with spinach in a ricotta cheese sauce also stuffed mushroom)” but I eat it out of good manners but find myself enjoying it in the process. Especially surprising as they do not seem/appear to have/use salt in this house. Tom turns up and it is the first time we see him this Christmas. He is Tom, with plenty to report from his Christmas.

Eventually we head to town, to hook up with Ben. Our original destination intended to be the Hogshead but when we arrive there, chairs are being put on tables and there are puddles (ponds) on the floor. Something must be leaking. We revert to plan b and when Chris accidentally calls up the wrong Ben on his mobile, I get the right Ben, Ben Wright (geddit?) we hook up with him in the Playhouse.

Again Ben is out with his “crew”, none of which are really like us ex-Gringo types. We stand surrounded by what seems to be a Suede convention. They make nice nice with us but it’s all too dumb and positive for us. We look around the Playhouse and it has seen better days. And I don’t mean the days (the era) in which the posters on display come from. Indeed we find a poster describing an old Playhouse performer as “everyone’s favourite chocolate covered coon” and suddenly it feels slightly like a scene from Ghost World. We all titter but really it is unbelievable that this establishment hasn’t been forced to remove it from a complaint. It could be said that the majority of patrons at this place can barely read but that would be unfair. Ron Atkinson might enjoy it here.

Eventually we split from the group when we find a table tucked away, where we can hear ourselves actually think and talk in the process, prime spot. The latest news from Nottingham sounds as per usual, only with names being replaced with new ones. I suspect it is only a matter of time before Chris gets fully sucked up their into that lifestyle. Tom is Tom, always concerned with the world and it’s good to talk. He comes up with a great suggestion of us going to Prague in the new year for a long weekend; I think travelling would do me good. And especially now I have my digital camera. We manage maintain healthy conversation for the duration, even with the knowledge that pubs are open until 1AM today/tonight.

When we leave we fail to see Ben to say “goodbye”. When we go through the town Tom sees for the first time the new sign posts in Colchester town. He points out that they appear like the stone in 2001: A Space Odyssey by making ape noises.

Plans are set afoot to hook up with Robin at a pub near the castle with the promise of a lock in, providing we get there before regular closing time. Unfortunately however the place is the other side of town and we get a bit too comfortable in our spot and only manage to make moves around 11.30. We eventually get to the pub, in one of the best parts of town (an area that gives me a warm tingly feeling) and we cannot get in, despite hearing the voices of our acquaintances inside.

We resume our search in town for a late night drinkery. The Castle proves fruitless and as Chris and Tom buy late night pudding in Spar, rescuing the poor shop assistant from a div Chav chatting her up (“he’s been talking to me for half an hour already”), I suggest we “throw the towel” in on the night. The others undaunted though still want to go for it (admittedly they have been on the juice, while I have been on the cokes).

Walking up High Street in the witching hour at the end of Boxing Day never used to be this intimidating, I must really be getting old or sensitive to my surroundings. Even when Chris takes a whiz down an alley, I get paranoid. It is decided that we check out the Hole In The Wall in the vague hope we might/may recognise faces there. As we walk there we pass the enlightened Jumbo looking like, as Tom points out, something from Blade Runner. It really does look great. And the foot of the building has been really cleared and tidied up also. We arrive at the Hole In The Hall and the lights are off (thankfully). With it getting frosty, I once more press for a return home but the others decide to swing into/onto O’Neills, which is always open late.

We step in and inside it is warm and quiet. We see some of the Suede convention from earlier, obviously having broken from the group. Tom points out that we are being served by a Steve Albini lookalike while we settle down in/at a proper bar. Despite it being late and us all visibly shattered, we maintain a good times morale. For being so tired so late, the sheer occasion of things helps me maintain in good spirits and it is around this point Tom invites me up to Nottingham for New Years. I reply gratefully “maybe” knowing there is no way.

Eventually our night comes to an end as the Irish bar closes and Chris polishes off another Guiness (you can take the boy out of Ireland but you can’t……). When we get back to my car, the windows are caked in frost while on the radio some weird sounding reggae bounces about. I attempt to clear the windscreen while, like little bastard kids, Chris and Tom amusingly lock me out. Fortunately I have this invention called the “key” and I get back inside, ready to pull off but the windscreen is still clear as fog/mud. My passengers no longer see humour and begin to express concern as I start up my engine to pull away. Like a trooper, Tom jumps out and clears the windscreen with his gloves (he had gloves all the time????).

We drive back to Stanway, to drop the pair of them off, doing impressions of Little Britain and generally acting like dickheads. Its all good, good times.

np: Roy Green – Let ‘Em Come


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