Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Johnny Foreigner, King's College

So, up to London, and a half day off work so I can do some reconnaissence for the upcoming zone 1 challenge.

Well, in theory anyway.

I'd planned a route checking out the interchanges at Vauxhall, Waterloo, London Bridge, Elephant & Castle, Paddington, King's Cross, Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations. The first up was Vauxhall, running (nay, sprinting) from the Victoria line platforms (making note that the second set of doors in the carriage would have been a better choice) up the escalators, through the pedestrian subway, up the stairs to the surface level, through the barriers at the mainline station, underneath all 8 lines to the far platform, and up the stairs to the platform. As I ascended this final part I passed someone rushing to get a train; I muttered "race you" to her not expecting her to actually be competitive. I made it to the platform just ahead of her, taking 1 minute and 27 seconds to do platform to platform, but my left leg gave out and I flopped onto the train most ungainly.

At Waterloo I was intending to time the run from train to Jubilee line platforms, but I quickly altered my plan and sat with a bottle of water against the statue of that painter fellow, in front of the old Eurostar platforms. Sitting there, watching the world go by, admiring the sun glinting off the Victory arch, I decided that on such a nice sunny day the last thing I wanted to do was spend it underground. Firing up Google Maps on my BT ToGo Phone (plug) I decided to go for a wander in the general direction of the King's College box office to pick up my Johnny Foreigner ticket.

Walking through Shell House and the Jubilee gardens, passing the London Eye I remembered days of yore where my family would come up to London for the Lord Mayor's Show, stay for the fireworks on the Thames in the evening and stand on the South Bank watching them, listening to the final scores on Radio 5 Live as it was normally taking place on F.A Cup first round day. This reminded me of the huge great second hand book sale that was usually found underneath Waterloo Bridge and so I headed off to investigate. Passing the Royal Festival Hall and Hayward Gallery (described on Wikipedia as "a good example of Brutalist architecture" - if it was a women, even after ten pints you'd still say no) I walked down by the river enjoying my ice cream cone to the book sale.

It was rather disappointing, actually, and I saved my money for the large Oxfam charity bookshop in Canterbury. My enjoyment was partly spoiled by the large amounts of loud youths enjoying the sunshine and being rambunctuous - I cycled through my weapon supply looking for a melee weapon such as a flamethrower or gatling gun before realising that this was actually real life and not Grand Theft Auto, so left them to it and walked across Waterloo Bridge (avoiding foreign men with umbrellas). I found, disappointingly, that I still had two hours to kill before the box office opened so I decided to have dinner at the Walkabout pub enveloping Temple station. As I'd be dining alone I thought a magazine might be a wise idea (else I'd be really bored) and headed off to Oxford Street to see if there were any decent imported magazines in stock.

After a roasting hot Bakerloo line journey (made bearable only by the slightly chestier Ellen Page lookalike sat next to me) I made it to an Oxford Street that was noticably quieter than usual. Wondering if I'd gone deaf (and why there was no traffic about) I walked towards Borders to find a large area cordoned off by the police. As I'd stayed round Katy's the night before I hadn't read the morning paper so grabbed a free paper off a vendor who was clearly relishing the old "extra, extra" cliche of yore - "get today's London paper, read all about what happened here in this very spot yesterday!" - and I found out about the stabbing. I ventured off along the pavement on the other side of the road, with the open shops, to see if HMV could give me something to read. Popping in to H&M to see if they had any Batman t-shirts, I found that the first floor windows (almost opposite the fateful McDonalds) was crammed full of people taking pictures of the scene. Outside one woman was videotaping it and providing a commentary. Disgusted with humanity I gave up and went back to get some dinner, grabbing the other freesheet on the way.

Possibly because it's an Australian pub and therefore catering to ex-pats, it was actually warmer inside the pub than outside. I finished my unappetising burger and went and sat on a bench facing the Thames outside. Due to its position overlooking the river and its age the wooden slats had plenty of give in them; this made them rather comfortable and I was reluctant to leave. Having finished the freesheets I once again took to caning the hell out of the unlimited bandwidth on my ToGo phone (another plug), keeping up to date on my board and poking people back on Facebook. Getting bored of this and realising that I'd want to buy a t-shirt to replace the one I left on the train after the last JoFo gig, I headed off in search of a cash point. I eventually found one, outside City Thameslink station (the only railway station in Zone 1 I've never been into - quite why I didn't break this duck yesterday I honestly don't know).

Back at the venue and I had a pleasent surprise when I found out that JoFo were supporting, not headlining, which meant I'd get an early night. The first band on were from Norway and called The Lionheart Brothers - I've deliberately not linked to their MySpace as the recordings don't do them justice. Five blokes, loud guitars, a very proggy sound. It drew me away from the seats where I was sat watching the sun set over Waterloo (I don't need to spell out every single song reference for you, do I?) and I thoroughly enjoyed them. JoFo didn't let me down either. Despite the overabundance of dry ice making it hard to see Junior on drums, the band got everyone dancing with a cracking opening of Champagne Girls I Have Known and The End (And Everything After). The swirling mist, harsh lighting and crap camera made it difficult to get any decent pictures so I just settled for dancing (well, trying to) and enjoying the set. After Eyes Wide Terrified and a new song that had been written while on the road, Alexis announced "this next song is called Cranes and Cranes and Cranes and if we see you singing along then we know you've downloaded the album and we hate you" - cue laughter and a shout of "what if we downloaded the London Calling set?".

They finished up with Sofacore, a b-side to Eyes Wide Terrified which has Burlesque in the title, and Yr All Just Jealous. I exchanged a few words with Kelly as I bought another JoFo tee and left, heading back to Victoria. As I walked down the stairs at Temple I saw a train waiting on the platform; hearing the doors closing chime I ran down the stairs and threw myself into an empty carriage, whacking my shoulder on the cental pole (damn District line stock) and feeling the door close behind my boot. Relived to have made the train I realised I was subsequently at the wrong end for the exit at Victoria and jumped out at Embankment to dash along the platform to the right door.

I made my train at Victoria with enough time to get some food and the current issue of Classic Rock, and I sat down at a table and started relaxing. As the train filled up someone sat diagonally opposite me, and I made room for him. Then a city gent took the seat next to me, moved my magazine out the way so he could read his broadsheet, and shoved my jacket (of which a small part of the sleeve was in the gap between the seats, the rest tucked behind me) up out the way so he could move the seating arm down. This display of rudeness pissed me off, especially when he harumphed (yes, he actually made that noise) when I got a text from Dana and my phone wooped, in a Zoidberg fashion. So I fought back, with the low level annoyance only a Tong can master. I snicked at everything in Classic Rock (even the obituaries) and, inspired by the Velvet Revolver cover story, decided to listen to Appetite for Destruction on my mp3 player. Loudly. By the time he left at Gillingham he was glaring evilly at me, and the other fellows around me laughed when I turned my music off, put my phone on silent and settled down to enjoy myself.

And and and, I managed to remember my t-shirt this time, so will be resplendent in it at tonight's gig.

1 comment:

Jack said...

That picture of the London Eye is from a few metres away from where my laptop desktop picture was taken from.