Saturday, July 23, 2005

from an unbombed kerry

july 23rd

Current level of conviction in own genius (out of 10): 6
Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 1
Hair day: bowing under the weight of overgrown length – any attempts at styling are futile

So, had minor heart attack on Thursday when I was told at school about the rumours of more attacks in London, before checking it out on the Guardo’s website and breathing a sigh of relief when it looked like 4 failed attempts. No deaths = no worries. Felt relatively blasé about my laboured journey home of snailing buses, and barely raised an eyebrow when the next day bore news of a man shot dead at Stockwell, even though the danger crept nearer, with not only that tube stop affected but possibly a bag put on the tube here at Brixton. And a house was later raided in my manor, 15 mins walk up the road. It’s obviously completely dispiriting, making us realise that we’re seemingly in for the long haul, in a battle with home-grown terrorists who will be impossible to trace unless every underground station comes complete with all-new x-ray scanners and specially-trained bomb-sniffing dogs, and every London bus with a gun-toting SAS man seated next to the luggage rack. Fucking bastards; these people (no matter how many times Tony et al say that brave stiff-upper-lipped Londoners will keep going about their hard-nosed business) are making every traveller dart-eyed and jumpy around their fellow passengers. I’ve watched people around me get into a carriage and check out every single passenger, face first, then bag. It’s making London a tense, suspicious, non-welcoming place.

Big bro has just reported that the man chased by armed police and shot 5 times in the head in front of tube passengers at Stockwell was an innocent man. Shit. It couldn’t be more inflammatory - an Asian man in a winter coat left the block of flats that they were watching and legged it when he saw 20 men (in plain clothes, remember) bearing down on him with guns. Of course, he might have been some dodgy crim who thought that they were after him for a different reason; or he could have been simply a completely terrified, possibly non-English-speaking, bystander. This will not look good. Muslims are going to start asking whether anyone of a certain complexion is going to be killed for looking a bit shifty. Feel like the city is already fighting against a tide of its own prejudice.

Yet London, at its best, is a thing of almost-graspable joy and beauty. Two richly eclectic gigs this week, both at the Purcell Rooms: the first was seemly multi-limbed percussionist Joby Burgess showing off his MIDIed-up marimba-like instrument, adding the feisty and fab Elysian Quartet for a second half of live Kraftwerk numbers. Last night’s event was a showing of brill German Expressionist movie The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1919), accompanied by Geoff Smith’s soundtrack on my new favourite instrument, the hammer dulcimer. In fact, not one, but three (tuned thusly - one diatonic, one chromatic and one microtonal, for the musos out there), to supplement the angular, shadowy sets and thick-kohled eyes and hilariously over-dramatic grimaces. This was followed by dinner at Studio 6 in Gabriel’s Wharf and a stroll to drink in my most-adored view of the capital: a low tide lapping at a muddy beach, and the iconic skyline of the glittering Gherkin, Tower 42 and St Paul’s - an in-yer-face visual boom with its bosomy dome rising over the rest of the dark city like a protective angel. Boy, do we need one right now…

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