Saturday, July 09, 2005

Article - Fear & Loathing In London

“Fear & Loathing In London” by Benito Di Fonzo

I was woken by an SMS from Vanessa formerly of The Gong, now living near Victoria Station and trying scrape up dosh for her Edinburgh show. It took me a while to read as I was sleeping off a hangover on the Dalston couch of Fuller, a former Newtown flatmate and paint dripper. The TXT read -

"this is terrible, is everyone alright?"

I assumed she'd sent it to the wrong person. Somebody she knew must have had a car crash.

I replied"What?" and she told me to turn on the TV.

London was under attack. A bomb had gone off at Kings Cross station as well as on some buses - there were pictures of tops blown off double deckers.

I felt guilty about it later, but at first it seemed exciting - like an episode of Dr Who. It even looked like the same people reading the TV news. The same streets. The same stations.

Do Al Qeuda watch Dr Who I wondered? Is this how they plan their missions?

It at least explained the number of police cars and ambulances sailing under my Kingsland High Street window.

I wondered what my duty was as a freelance Arts journalist and playwright. Review it?

“While the climax was visually spectacular it was unclear how this related to the motivation of the protagonist in a scene earlier…” etc.

Probably not. I knew they wouldn't let me too close, and I didn't have a Press Card. How would I get in, catch a bus? I looked at the bus stop downstairs. People were still lining up, but not many. What should I do?

Well, this was London, so I made a cup of tea. It was bitter and strong and it woke me.

Soon they started showing pictures from the hospital. Bodies; bloodied and burnt, being dragged in. Suddenly, it stopped being so exciting.

Fuller came home. He couldn't get into work. We decided to hit a cafe.

Nobody could get to work, what with the city under bomb attack and all, so the modestly titled Best Cafe In London was full of people cluttering their arteries with the £2.50 bacon, beans, eggs, and bubble & squeak, which is apparently English for burnt left-overs.

Almost fifty people had been blown up in five trains and buses. Nonetheless Londoners seemed surprisingly calm. They'd been through this before - The Blitz in WWII, the IRA campaigns of the 70s and 80s, Bloody Monday. They knew there was nothing they could do about it so they may as well just have an extra cup of tea.

Fuller went back to bed. The poor guy had been keeping up with a few oddly employed ex-pats and I and then going to work in the morning. I decided to go for a walk, the buses still not running, and ended up at a pub called The Green Man in Islington.

It was a bit rough. Of course BBC 1 was on everywhere, and people watched and, realising there was still nothing they could do, and that it was getting too late for tea, drank beer.

Fuller joined me as I hit The Kings Head which he explained was a reference to the decapitation of Charles I, something which happened a lot in the old days.

To cut it short we got pissed, then lost in the housing estates between Islington shops and a former bank now club, gallery and radio studio reputedly purchased by the group The KLF and rechristened The Foundry.

We accidently walked into a house at one stage where, for £8, you could sit in the basement watching porn on a big screen as long as you liked. The host was watching porn on two TVs as well as the English ripoff of Neighbours on another. I declined their invitation.

When we finally found The Foundry Fuller positioned himself under one of his paintings while I staggered downstairs to check out a friends exhibition in the former vaults. The opeining was a little muted, what with the fifty people being blown up and all, but we drank on regardless… it’s a bit of a blank here, but apparently it ended up at a 24hr Turkish cafĂ©, where they do a lovely stew, enough for two, for £5.

"And as for dénouement..."

The next day, catching the Tube to Shakesoeare’s Globe to see a brilliant rendition of ‘Pericles,’ the vibe was a little different. People looked at each other warily, wondering -

“Is he a bomber? No, probably not, I need a cup of tea, then a beer."

# Benito Di Fonzo. London. July, 05.