Monthly Archives: December 2002

Rain, Vila and a new year

Two days of dark grey weather. Yesterday also included perpetual rain – not heavy but just wet and constant. Never have I been as wet whilst wearing clothes. Serves me right for going up town I suppose but I was bored and wanted to get a present or two.

I met up with Mod who was working…not as bad as it sounds, her boss wasn’t there so they all brought their games and toys in. Her and a couple of mates were meeting in an O’neils (I know I know, but this one was empty and not too expensive, in fact quite a find for a west end pub.)

After years of avoiding it, I’ve finally started using IRC. Not chatting of course, I’ll leave that to the h4x0rz n w4r3z d00dz, teenage twats and social inadequates, no I’m using it for something far sadder: downloading Blakes-7 episodes. It’s taken me two solid days to get hold of two episodes but with ADSL who cares ? Cheaper than a video, DVD or Sky subscription. Might start on the Simpsons after that.

Well, New Years Eve – and with it the usual let-down of the celebrations, forced jollity and drunkenness. Then we’ve got the hungover misery of New Years Day. Rather than looking like a glowing, joyous, prosperous time, the future looks just like the past – grey, unfulfilling and with a bit more debt.

Happy fucking New Year.


Even though we’re still firmly in the christmas break, sunday still feels like sunday. It’s all so sunday everywhere. Why ? What’s different about sunday ? It’s not even like I’m going to work tomorrow, so why should it feel so sunday ?

Last night Toby, Tony, Zap, a few others and I met up in the Jordan (formerly the Hogshead (formerly the Jolly Farmers)) for a few. It was one of those nights when last-orders is totally unexpected; it feels like 7pm, in fact it’s drinking-up time. So we all came back here and got stuck into some whisky, cobra and collie. We ended up watching a magic-eye video followed by a classic sweeney. Mundane as it sounds it was all good – nice to do that sort of thing from time to time. Toby and Dan had problems walking by the time they left. Mehehehehehe!

American Beauty was just on and I watched it again. Such a good film. People who slag off the US film industry really need to see it…and “Election” too for that matter – equally as good but for some reason it never got the same amount of attention.
It’s usually the same bunch of people that slag off American films who really like the French film industry…which is identical to the US one, only with the addition of a pretentious gloss that fools the eyes of the terminally dim.

Good night.

The festive season – good bye for another year

Despite three months of campaigning by every retail outlet in the western hemisphere, Christmas is finally over. Michele has gone to the States to see her family leaving me here alone with nothing but a collection of videos of christmas telly, two bottles of irish whiskey and ADSL…actually now I come to think of it that doesn’t sound too bad really. It’s just not as fun without Michele.

Ours was a most english christmas. Too much to eat, too much to drink, sprout-avoidance, christmas telly, feigned good spirit, elderly relatives who are reluctantly playing the part of “the ball” in an extended-family tennis match. Well, I enjoyed it anyway. Pity my sister wasn’t there but she was up from Plymouth the week before so we did a pre-christmas christmas…sort of thing.

Christmas in England is very TV heavy. At least it is in my house and seemingly for most other people in the country. Of course there are many instances of self-righteous middle-classism where people deliberately don’t allow themselves to watch the telly and then spend the rest of the year going on about how much purer and healthier their lives are as a result…well bollocks to that I say. Only fools and horses, Chicken Run, Steptoe and Son, Carry on Cleo and the Eastenders Christmas special is what counts. Oh and Eastenders really did us proud. In previous years we’ve had deaths, weddings and pregnancy scandals so I couldn’t imagine how the BBC would be able to top it. The answer was to combine all of the previous years stories into one giant traumafest. Not only did a central character die, but there was a wedding, the eviction of a pregnant woman by her husband (because of getting up the duff by another man) and more Slater family strife than you can shake a stick at…at the same time.
Love death and misery – thats what we want on Christmas day please.

Even DFS did its bit for christmas telly. It was looking like financial success was going to ruin their advertising campaigns by making the commercials all professional and polished. But their latest campaign has shown us doubting thomases how wrong we were to
think they would betray their northern nouveau-riche roots: hundreds of people doing the conga to an Ibiza dance anthem through a suburban industrial estate down to DFS. There they can party all night long around a load of overpriced, poorly-constructed sofas, a complementary glass of sweet fizzy wine in one hand and a 1 year interest free credit application form in the other. Sheer brilliance.

OK it isn’t a patch on the motorised poofs ad from their heyday, but how are you going to top that one eh ?

Even my bastard cold didn’t get a chance to spoil things. Hah! Well in fact it did: I felt so rough on christmas eve that I couldn’t make the,now traditional, south-east london drink with Toby Jenkins et al.
Instead Tony and Zap came to ours and we polished of the entire christmas red wine supply I had dragged back from eltham that day through the sweating fever of my cold.

Ah Eltham. Why does this bloody place keep cropping up so frequently in my life when I hate it so much ? Its almost like ambivalence. Apart from the fact that my mum and dad live there, every visit will produce some sort of nostalgic twinge in my soul. Fuck knows why. Millions of little memories spring to mind every time I see the church, the post-office or the White Hart Pub. Weird. It’s not like they’re places of joy or anything. In fact today I had the most intense nostalgia experience of my recent life… oddly it was as if was deliberate. I went to the “Eltham Grill”. Now to be known as Eltham’s only redeeming feature.

A digression:

My parents used to own a rather groovy record shop in the 1960s, imaginatively entitled “Chris Wellards”; this name would be just as good for a record shop these days but for totally different reasons. It was a very popular shop as far as I can tell and there are several reasons for this which I can inferr:

  • It was near Goldsmiths College
  • It had my mum and dad in it
  • They sold records that no-one else would touch at the time

Not wishing to sound like a namedropping namedropper, but all kinds of famous people used to shop there at the time, including…Prince Buster… It was only last year I found out about that – Chris obviously didn’t think it was worth mentionning before….Prince bloody buster buying records off my dad….damn…
Anyway in the 1970s they opened a second branch in Eltham. This was nowhere near as successful and led to the demise of the business and the near demise of my dad… The best thing about the Eltham shop was it was next door to the Eltham Grill and when I was a wee wee chavvy my mum would take me up the high street to meet my dad their. I’m pretty sure we went there a lot, and I vaguely remember going there with my nan and grandad too. Regardless, my memory of the place is very strong and full of nice feelings. It always seems warm, friendly and cosy there.

Visiting it again, 30 years later, it seems that nothing at all had changed. The same, huge illuminated pictures on the wall. The same red carpet, the same 70s wood panelling on the walls and the same friendly turkish staff. Little vivid flashes of memory kept coming back and it was like regressing. The staff were as friendly to the next generation of toddlers and kids in there as they were to me at that age.

Anyway, don’t know why I felt the need to write all that. Go there, it’s good and the food is nice.

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To celebrate the end of work for a couple of weeks, my body has given me a nice shit cold to ruin my free time. It’s one of these new 21st century ones that just hang around making you feel a bit crap, snotty and coughy without ever knocking you out for months.
The only cure seems to be red wine, which has a miraculous effect. Either it cures it every day or makes me ignore it. Regardless, highly recommended.

The last week of college was totally OTT.
Tuesday was the Information Services Christmas Meal. As the organiser, I decided to take the afternoon off – a good idea. We started at mid-day. At midnight Zap and I left after behaving very, very badly to all in insulting distance.
Everyone said they enjoyed it which is all that matters, despite having totally fscked up my magic tricks by being forced to reveal how they were done. The worst one was when I went to the bog, leaving a small magnet that I had ‘cleverly’ concealed under my behind on the chair, behind. Kind of gave that one away.
Wednesday: the IS staff party. Exactly as everyone involved expected. As an added bit of excitement we vacated the “Library Staff room” and relocted to the Warmington kitchen. You may think that this sounds like a really crap, work-based, tedious, drunk-too-much type work event. Well it was. We really tried, honest, to make it good. But what can you do when you work in a fucking library ?

The finance party on thursday was pretty good. Mainly because they can afford a really good selection of drink and food. In fact, an excellent selection. We even had a choice of wine where each option was quite good, rather than cheap crap.

Friday was the last day before christmas….pub…nuff said.

So over the weekend I just rested and tried to fight off my bastard cold. Failed. Sunday was pretty fun. We had an early christmas at My mum and dad’s place because frances, my sister, was up. It was genuinely good! Even though the situation in the extended family is generally shite, we managed to have a good laugh at the expense of an utterly insane relation (whom I can’t mention for legal reasons – seriously) whose letter they had just received…..
Frances managed to buy totally appropriate, thoughtful presents for everyone. Why does she do this ? She never used to… she used to be reassuringly crap at present buying. Just like me. Now I just feel crap because I gave her a bloody WHSmiths voucher. How wanky is that ?

Well, tomorrow is christmas eve. I’m trying to make a digital clock for my mum, but like all jobs, it’s taking longer than expected. Not helped by the fact that I only started today….

The christmas party season

The christmas party season has started and so has my annual optimistic plan to stop drinking…at some point in the future. It was going to be december, but Ian pointed out what a stupid idea that was. So it moved to January. After careful consideration this too has been ruled out on grounds of stupidity; the coldest, greyest, miserable month of the year needs to be fought off somehow. So the current favourite is now February.

Ian was right, giving up drinking in the build-up to the let-down of Christmas would be a mistake, if not impossible. The start of the festivities was a weekend in Brighton to celebrate Mod’s birthday. Mod’s friend Claire had rented an excellent little house in the south lanes and a bunch of us went down there on friday night. Needless to say it was one long pissup and very, very enjoyable. Michele only stayed one night and went home on saturday to nurse a hangover. Persevering, I stayed another night…not that I had a choice. Ben, Ian and I had spent the day in various pubs avoiding Christmas shopping with Mod et al, and so by the evening I was in no fit state to catch a train anyway. Ben introduced me to a bar called “ali-cats” or something. You know sometimes you get a feeling like you are really in the right place ? OK it could be the fact I was quite “merry”, but there was more to it. For a start, when we got there half the bar was turned into a mini cinema and they were showing easy rider. It’s been years since I’d seen it and all of these nostalgia neurons started to fire. Even Plumstead can look nice through rose coloured specs. Not only that but there was a poster on the wall for an upcoming hawkwind concert – supported by Arthur Brown and Gong! Damn. This was ultranostalgia. After the film, the bar went back to being a bar and they decided to put a CD on of really rather groovy music. All good.
In the cold grey light of sunday morning I woke up feeling the usual aches of post-alcohol depression and shame and decided to bail out. I get this frequently but two days on the trot was probably enough. Mod and the others bravely stayed another night and went back to work early monday morning. They win.

After the excess of Brighton I needed a break. But didn’t get one. The Language resource centre had a party after work on tuesday. It was probably very good because I can’t remember most of it. Just shocking flashbacks involving being an obnoxious twat – I tried apologising to people the next day but luckily they couldn’t remember anything either.

Finally, thursday was the Staff Ball at the glamourous Rivoli Ballroom. Usual thing, nuff said. This year I managed to bore the arse of people demonstrating a magic trick I’d learned that day in the Magic shop in London: making a hankie disappear and then reappear.

Tired and emotional I was woken up, surrounded by detritus from a carribean takeaway, on Colin’s couch by Michele telling me the cab had arrived. A good night all in all. Next week is the I.S. christmas meal in the pub, followed by the I.S. party. Oh dear.