Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sci fi! Crime! Horror! Romance!

I am currently being extremely fashionable in a London juice bar. My fashionability has nothing to do with my dress (stolen from my sister circa 1998) or my shoes (second hand Converse that were battered and horrible when I bought them in 2005) or my bag (rucksack and suitcase "borrowed" from my Dad) or my hair (brown) or my make-up (smudged).

I am only feeling fashionable because I am typing importantly on my Apple Mac Laptop Computer. I am not the only one in this Juice Bar to be engaged in this activity. Just in front of me are two women and a man, perched uncomfortably on some blocky stools, staring and pointing at a similar device in a distinctly business-y way. In another corner a man sits, staring over the rim of his MacBook Pro, clearly wishing he was in a pub or a swimming pool or, in some glorious way, both.

There are other people in the Juice Bar, including the two muscled young men behind the counter who witheringly acquiesced to my request for "just a tea, please". I wanted very much to say, tartly, "well, I'm not paying bloody FOUR POUNDS for a cup of juice, even if you do have baskets of apples on the counter and peppy euro-pop blasting from every pore", but I didn't. Anyway, I think I clawed back some pretension points by asking for soya milk.

I have been on the Megabus since eleven this morning. It was actually kind of OK, which is approximately twelve million times more OK than I was expecting it to be. Apart from being forced to dart some stern looks at the man behind me for playing loud music on his laptop*, I was quite happy to read my book and stare outside at the scenery sliding past, rendered post-apocalyptic by the thick grey grime on the windows.

*this did not work

On my way to the bus station in Manchester I decided I needed a crime thriller to see me through the journey, so I spotted a small yellow shop proclaiming "BOOKS! Sci-fi! Crime! Horror! Romance!" so I rumbled my case across the road and pushed through a small door with smaller, cheerful sign on it: "We are open! Come on in! Open!". As the bell tinkled I looked down to manoeuvre my case through the door. When I looked up again I was staring down the business end of floor-to-ceiling extremely hardcore porn.

"Oh" I said, perceptively.

At the end of the shop three men were hunched furtively at a counter, and I suddenly noticed the sweet sweat stench of alcohol.

"Er" I continued, astutely.

One of the be-anoraked men hurried over, seemingly trying to use his body as a human shield between my eyes and the luscious ladies of the adult world.

"Can I help you, love?"

"Yeah, um, I just wanted a book?"

He awkwardly took on the jovial demeanour of a Dad at a barbeque.

"Oh, yeah, what book were you after?"

"Just... a sort of... reading book."

"Right, yeah, 'course, love. Martina Cole?"

I tried not to immediately wonder whether that might be some kind of niche "men's interest".

"Yeah, that sort of thing. A crime thriller, maybe."

He swept his arm along another wall, which contained shelves full of crime thrillers.

"Sorry about all... that" he then said, gesturing behind us an expression of shared distaste. "It's just, you know, we're having the roof done."

"Oh, right. Of course. No worries."

As I made my selection he made small talk with me ("so, how long does it take to get to London on the coach nowadays, love?") and stood in between me and the DVDs, even moving the heater closer to me and knocking fifty pence off the price of the book I chose.

It was quite sweet, really.

Anyway. What's going on? I don't post for months and then I roll back in with a weird, pointless story about a book shop full of pornography? I think the Juice Bar is sending me slightly mad. Too much vitamin C in the air, probably.

I'm down in (That) London for birthdays and Easter, and because Ben is now back from Australia so the whole of England is clamouring to see him. He was gone for two months! It kind of felt like ages. I only cried at him over Skype once. Maybe twice. Apart from that I was super-cool and independent and only a little bit ragingly jealous when he talked about it being "so hot the suncream melts in your eyes" and how swimming with dolphins is "actually quite hard work".

It is lovely to have him back, in spite of his tan and slew of kangaroo-related anecdotes*. While he was away I did gigs with Eggs Collective (we have subsequently been booked for Latitude!) and on my own. If you want, you can come to see Eggs perform in London (April 6th at DUCKIE! and April 7th at Finger in the Pie, see our website for more details). We are also performing more soon, in very exciting ways, but it is all TOP SECRET and if I told you I would have to kill you, or maim you, or at least delete this post really quickly.

*He does not actually have any kangaroo-related anecdotes. I am suddenly suspicious! Where has he really been?

I did a few solo gigs as well. My favourite was at the Royal Exchange where, in spite of having to quickly adjust my whole set when we realized the cello-through-the-loop-pedal thing wasn't going to work in such an enormous, reverberant space, I totally and utterly enjoyed myself and played for nearly an hour on my own without once getting anything thrown at me.

I will be doing more solo music gigs very soon, during which I hopefully also won't get anything thrown at me! Fingers crossed (not when playing the cello).

The Juice Bar feels like my new, weird home. All the other Fashionable Mac-Users have gone, having been replaced by a man gazing dejectedly at the Metro and another one closely inspecting a lime green jumper, respectively. Perhaps Apple Mac Laptop Computers have suddenly gone out of fashion! Things in London certainly move very fast.

I am hoping that Ben will soon come and find me and take me for a proper drink so I can grill him further about his lack of marsupial-based stories and tell him about a kindly man in a booze-soaked porn emporium.


Ben just called to tell me he was on his way to find me.

"Where are you?" he shouted over the howling winds of Wimbledon. "Which pub are you in?"

"I'm not in a pub. I'm in a juice bar."

"A juice bar? Why aren't you in a pub? Who are you, and what've you done with my girlfriend?"

I'm going to the pub.