From Desk Till Dawn

My mainly music & nerd bird blog

Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

East London Loves. #2

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In April this year I moved to East London. I thought I’d be blogging almost daily as there is always something going on. In truth I’ve been so sidetracked by addictive coffee, wandering down Spitalfields alleys to find old buildings inscribed with Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor, discovering art in unexpected places. I started an East London section in June and since then have not updated it, or this blog much in general. Like many great ideas are born from bacon so was this blog post today.

Today, after a kick up the bum from my sister, I woke with a determination to blog. I decided to kickstart my brain by walking down to Dishoom for breakfast. I fell in love with Whisky Sours in their Permit Bar over my birthday and now I have tasted the future…. the Bacon Naan. I could dream of recreating this but it would be pointless, nothing could come close. Bacon with barely a trace of fat with coriander, chilli chutney and a hint of cream cheese with a freshly baked naan enveloping it. Washed down with chai of course.

I walked off breakfast along Redchurch Street, discovering lyrics from The National in street art from My Dog Sighs. And it was that band that carried my feet all the way to Chatsworth Road Market. Not my first visit to the area but the first time I’ve visited the market (think Broadway Market before it went too middle-class). Full of families, smiles and Pearly Kings and Queens sipping tea. My main reason for walking up there was to visit Clapton Craft’s pop-up in the LBJ shop. I can’t wait until they have a permanent home as the service was exceptional and choice staggering, I went for Elderflower Mikkeller and it’s taking all my will power not to crack open a bottle as I’m typing. Craft beer is my new safe drunk, pain seems lesser in the morning. I swear by it.

I stopped off at Dalston Eastern Curve Garden before heading back indoors for the afternoon and my walk coming full circle. As beautiful in the winter as it is in full bloom. The minute I walk in there I feel my shoulders physically drop (and that was with a back pack stuffed with second-hand books and bottles of beer). I sat down after my wanderings and took stock at how lucky I am to live here. Not just East London but London itself. Come April I’d have been here a decade and truly not a day goes by when I don’t think this. It can come to me at the most ordinary of times, sharing a smile with a stranger at a bus stop. Or it comes on days like this, when I get lost in places now so familiar to me.

A Hoxton Childhood (Back In The Day)

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Shortly after moving to east London this year the book A Hoxton Childhood by A.S Jasper came my way from my cousin. At the time of reading I had moved to the area where the book is set, an area where my paternal side of the family were born and raised. I blogged back in May how the words in the post script really touched me.

“Be thankful that you were born now and not then. Go forward, but try to be tolerant of your parents along the way”. A.S Jasper.

This Wednesday my aunt and I listened to A.S Jaspers nephew, Richard Penny, read that exact sentence at the books official reissue in the Broadway Bookshop, along with A.S Jaspers son Terry.  A cousin brought this book into my life, two cousins have met after researching their family tree and republished this historical document.

Living in the area, and being lucky enough to wander the streets with my Dad and hear his stories has meant the world to me this year. I walk down Crondall Street and laugh at dad telling me about the “Crondall crumpets” (it seems the girls living on this road were once quite up for it). My dad could run street tours on his life in Hoxton.

Until I persuade him to do this A Hoxton Childhood is a real east end family tale, where people still find something to laugh about when all seems hopeless and doomed, that stood by one another. Christmas is lurking fellow book worms, buy a copy for your families and heed those words I quoted above.

A Hoxton Childhood. Left, reissue and right, 1971 copy.

A Hoxton Childhood. Left, reissue and right, 1971 copy.

Written by Anon PA

October 11, 2013 at 8:14 pm

I Dream Of Silence

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It’s been a little while since I blogged about Tinnitus, seven months have passed since I wrote my last post I Dread The Quiet Of The Night. In October’s Cosmopolitan I get to talk about Tinnitus in an article called Just Be Quiet by Rosie Mullender (and I truly thank her writing about this). Today I met my new Doctor (not Capaldi), back on another NHS waiting list as I transfer to a hospital closer to where I now live. It seemed like time to blog about it again.

2013 is speeding past me in a blur, I can’t help but feel the older I get the quicker twelve months pass. Come November it will be two years with Tinnitus. I’d love to type that since I was diagnosed medical research has come on leaps and bounds but it seems stagnant. A woefully underfunded area and still little, at best conflicting, understanding around the condition. I am still as much in the dark as I was two years ago. But not alone in the dark, I am with my ever buzzing and ringing companion. Never completely in the silence.

But I am also very much not alone in my waking hours either. Since I started blogging about Tinnitus I have received emails from sufferers. A dear friend has also contracted it and we nudge one another to remember earplugs at gigs. Over dinner last week I chatted to my neighbour, a fellow sufferer. And you know, if there’s one little positive it’s having people to talk to about it that know exactly what it’s like. That you don’t need to try to reach for the words or comparisons. A look says it all between two people who know what it’s like to lie staring at the ceiling unblinking and frustrated. Honestly, unless you have experienced it I don’t think you can quite understand the levels of borderline insanity it can send you at times. I hope that you never do and wish none of us ever had.

Look after your ears beautiful music lovers.

Written by Anon PA

September 9, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Sunday Swoon. September 8th 2013.

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1. I always feel it’s terribly cliché to describe a track as haunting but I guess a collaboration between Natasha Khan and Jon Hopkins was always destined to be just that. Garden’s Heart is simply stunning.

2. I recently had the honour of hearing Margaret Atwood speak at Queen Elizabeth Hall. It was an inspirational reminder that I was lucky to be part of the generation that grew up with the likes of her and Kate Bush as role models. She was sharp, witty moving and wise and it’s an evening I will cherish forever. If you have never read any Atwood for some bizarre reason start with her poetry and The Handmaid’s Tale.

3. One  of the many terrible woes of suffering from Tinnitus is resisting the temptation to blare out tracks like Sleigh Bells Bitter Rivals through my headphones. Huge excitement that a third album is due out in the autumn.

4. Finally Gold Panda pays homage to Peckham is his video for Community. Making me think I really do need to drag myself south to nose at what’s happening down there.

Written by Anon PA

September 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Life Is Like Riding A Bicycle

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Back in January, when London was under a constant grey and weeping cloud, I trekked to Brixton and collected an old bike that I couldn’t yet ride. My blog entry on collecting my old Dutch explains all, I had decided in my mid-thirties to learn how to ride a bike. And I have. A mixture of listening to friends tips, a steely determination on a few Boris bikes when my friend Stephen and brother-in-law Adrian still hadn’t fixed mine up, a long bike ride sandwiched between my sister and Adrian which served as an unofficial cycling proficiency.

As my legs pushed up Kingsland Road in stifling city heat the other day (London has a habit of chosing between oxygen and sunshine, it’s impossible to breathe) I spotted a notice board with a quote from Albert Einstein.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

I instantly connected with this from the cyclists point of view as opposed to a new life mantra (Luther has been back on don’t you know? I need to sit very still for that). I think back to the many hesitations I’ve had as learner. Too slow when traffic lights change, too scared along the canal path that runs past my flat, too cautious around any movable object in general. The romantic, and slightly hipster, notion I had of peddling around care free like a scene from a French film isn’t the reality.

The point of my typing this is in The Guardian today Philip Hoare described not wearing a helmet as a case of civil liberties. How do I make my point without throwing too much weight behind the word helmet as an insult?

As someone who is effectively the Bambi of the cycling world I heavily rely on direction from responsible cyclists, courtesy and awareness from pedestrians and vehicles, unbreakable concentration and my cycling helmet. While I know that in a case of Hat Vs. Double Decker it wouldn’t act as a force field, it still helps as a reminder that I am vulnerable on two wheels. And you know, I think that’s a very good thing to have at the forefront of my mind while I practise and practise. Even after I stop ducking under the bridges along the towpath, and stop choosing to crash into concrete over the possibility of colliding with anyone or anything, I’ll never not wear one.

helmet

Written by Anon PA

July 24, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Don’t Stand Your Ground

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Over the past couple of years I’ve experienced, and been told many stories, of what I can best describe as bullying at gigs. Without exception it always involves people who are my age (thirty-five) and older, and a majority of the time it is men that behave this way. It’s also worth noting that I only ever see and hear about women being on the receiving end of this. During the day I am sure they are all utterly polite and hold a door open for a colleague, step aside when someone says excuse me. At gigs this all goes out the window.  Let me give you a few examples.

Recently at a Matt Berry gig a woman who I’d guess is in her late thirties was so incensed at a girl of about seventeen wanting to squeeze past just to take one photo that she screamed “obese bitch” at her and refused to move. At a polite girl young enough to be her daughter who made it clear it was just to take one photo and she’d be gone. Friends suffered men constantly, and on purpose, crushing into them at an Arcade Fire gig whilst being told to stop pushing them.

At Glastonbury I was told I wasn’t allowed to stand here by a man who was actually in front of me which I am still puzzling over. I had an experience so awful at a Battles gig with my friend Priyam that I still frown about it two years on. Men in their forties were stood behind us on the balcony. When I went to the bar they barely let me past, when I returned they formed a solid wall and refused to let me through despite the fact that I asked politely to get back to my friend, even strangers asked them to let me past and they refused. At the end of the night one of them pushed me in the back of the head with force. For no reason.

Last night at Public Service Broadcasting my bladder gave out after too many pints so I decided to run to the toilet. A relatively short dash in the intimate upstairs of the Lexington. Grown men crossed their arms and adopted a military stance. I had to squeeze through gaps a mouse would have problems getting through.

Let’s be clear. When you buy a gig ticket you are not paying to rent an exclusive square metre. I understand that views can be frustrating but I’m talking about scenario’s when someone is trying to dash to the bar quickly, not suddenly arriving on stilts in front of you.

Music is actually like a religion to me (without the wars). Going to see a band should be a shared experience, one of those oh so rare moments that you can look around at everyone and think “we’re all here for the same reason”. When the entire crowd sank to their knees during Foals singing Spanish Sahara at Glastonbury in anticipation of the song building up I felt like I utterly belonged. These were my people. Sadly there seems to be a growing minority of adults who seem to think they’ve paid for a private experience and are disgusted other humans are in the same room/under the same sky wanting to have fun. The only person’s night that’s being ruined is those guilty of behaving this way. They always look so miserable.

When an unstoppable force (my need for a pint or a wee) meets an immovable object (an adult refusing to budge even an inch to let me pass) chances are I will be tempted to lightly touch your back on my way back through to wipe a boogie on you. Karma is unkind. What can I say.

Written by Anon PA

July 18, 2013 at 10:57 am

Marylebone and Eton Mess

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I won’t name the person in question as she’s far too modest and wrinkles her nose up at praise. Pay her a compliment and she accepts gracefully but always adds “funny how people see you isn’t it?”. I’ll leave it up to her if she wants to share this post. Today is her birthday and well, she’s truly been a bloody brilliant friend to me the past year.

She’s helped me move house on a Monday night straight from work, carrying boxes and boxes of books to the top floor of my building. Shared many a glass of wine and gin. Shared some special gigs. Reminded me I’m well loved during tough times. I remember a particularly low day last July she sat opposite me in a pub in Marylebone. Her expressions a complete mirror of my own, she was genuinely as upset as I was.  To me that’s a dear friend, someone whose very expressions show they’re going through it with you. She’s an amazing person.

So, this mixtape is for her, you can play it on Spotify or YouTube.

Happy Birthday and I’ll see you later so you can blow out the candles on your Eton Mess. ♥

  1. Bonobo Feat. Andreya Triana – Stay The Same
  2. The Knife – Heartbeats
  3. Zulu Winter – You Deserve Better
  4. Jessie Ware – Taking In Water
  5. Polica – Lay Your Cards Out
  6. How To Dress Well – & It Was U
  7. Daft Punk – Get Lucky
  8. Kindness – Swingin’ Party
  9. Chromatics – Kill For Love
  10. SBTRKT – Pharaohs

Written by Anon PA

June 5, 2013 at 9:50 am

I Dread The Quiet Of The Night

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As I was about to leave the house the other day Fleetwood Mac’s Man of the World came on the radio just as my hand hovered to turn my DAB off. It’s one of those songs that will always stop me in my tracks, the regret croaking out of Peter Green in an act of a heartfelt confession.

I have the added built-in feature of the crackle and static of listening to it as if it was on Vinyl, or an old wireless radio not quite tuned in, because I have Tinnitus. I don’t mean to romanticise it, making it sounds as if a medical condition that strikes 1 in 10 gives a vintage sound to your world because it doesn’t. It’s funny, typing out the words ‘medical condition’ because I think of it as more of an annoyance, something to suffer and endure. Ultimately something I have been learning to live with since November 2011.

Since contracting Tinnitus I’ve had frustrating experiences from GP’s. When I finally got to see an ENT (Ears, Nose and Throat) Doctor I patiently tried different forms of medication. From tipping my head back to administer a salt spray twice a day to getting down on all fours like a dog and pouring a solution that was uncomfortable and felt like it was eroding the skin inside my nose. The gentle, but firm, smack of a tuning fork over my head is a stark reminder that I should have known better. Actually I had never given much thought to looking after my hearing in the same way I’d floss regularly or go to the opticians.

I dread the quiet of night. Working and living in London I have the constant distraction of noise to help drown out the ever changing noises in my brain. The rattle of the tube carriages and the building site currently outside my office window mean I can sometimes tune out of it during the day. It’s hard to describe how the sounds I hear shifts sides, changes tone and pitch. That I’m convinced alcohol heightens it but can’t know for certain, that some days are better than others. On the terrible and unbearable nights I sleep little, in the morning I am bleary eyed, exhausted and prone to make mistakes (from grammatical errors to not paying enough attention when crossing the road). When the sound suddenly changes I have to ask others around me if they can hear a strange buzzing, I’m sometimes thrown by what’s in my brain and what’s reality. This inability to communicate something only I can hear is frustrating and, how I wish I meant this literally, I sometimes end up suffering in silence.

Next time that song comes on the radio, the one that stops you in your tracks because it brings a long-lost lover to memory, reminds you of a cherished friend long gone, makes you sigh, skip, cry or smile with every facial muscle, pause for a moment. Think what life would be like with that melody, specific lyric, cowbell or the plink of piano keys ruined by a constant sound cutting across it. Or how the lack of sleep or stress will affect your life, and perhaps your relationships. If I’ve scared you then that was my intention. If you are in a band, DJ, just love standing by the speakers in venues or you’re one of those annoying types on public transport that listens to your music so everyone else can hear please think about your ears for a moment. It’s my one life regret.

NB: I started writing this post last year. A recent article by Eddy Temple-Morris for Huffington Post and the fact that it’s Tinnitus Awareness Week made me revisit this with a determination to tell it like it is. You can read his article here

Written by Anon PA

February 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm

My Old Dutch

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When I was a child I somehow managed to persuade the kind-hearted souls surrounding me to ferry my ass around. Back home in Devon it was our neighbour Kate Loram who would offer to take me on the back of her bike when we all headed out (not my own sisters I hasten to add). I also convinced my cousin, another Kate, to tie an old pram seat to the back of her bike with a ton of old roof rack straps and pedal me around as if I was Cleopatra propelled by mans invention of the wheel. It was named the Crazy Contraption and it lasted well into our late teens. I enjoyed the view while others done the hard work. As this got me to the sweet shop and back I never learnt how to ride a bike.

I can count the amount of attempts on one hand. On two of those occasions I have been extremely tipsy and therefore had that misplaced confidence that goes hand in hand with alcohol. On another I was concerned my sister had got lost on a family holiday to Ireland and as the sun set I decided this was the quickest way to find her (I managed about 10 metres before falling off). On the last of these occasions the friendly constabulary of Kentish Town told me perhaps I shouldn’t be trying to cycle drunk and sing songs from the Jungle Book at four in the morning. That was six years ago.

I quite frequently think it’s something I should learn, that I am secretly an amazing cyclist and will probably progress to the Keirin within a week. So when someone told me that I could have a free bike providing I collect it from Brixton this week I jumped on the Victoria Line without giving much thought as to how I’d get it back to Willesden Green. Despite a bit of rust and flat tyres I instantly adore this bike. The cousin who done so much pedalling for me in our childhood said it’s exactly how you’d want a bike to look. I now understand the excitement children felt at their first bicycle and understand why my friend Steve was able to send me photos of every bike he’s ever had, each with a life history.

To say my journey felt epic yesterday is an understatement. Pushing it from Brixton to Clapham Junction, so I could take it on the overground train, took over an hour. I was genuinely perplexed that Emeli Sande wasn’t following behind me soundtracking it. When I realised Clapham’s Long Road is a literal naming, a steely and naive determination kicked in and I cycled/wobbled my way across Clapham Common flat tyres and all. I arrived just after the curfew for bikes started but I’d come that far and wasn’t about to be turned away at the gates of Mordor (even if discovering Clapham had a retro Wimpy made me want to spend more time there). Knowing I had yet another walk at the other end and the fact it was getting dark made me rather defiant. By the time I got home I needed a nap and nurofen.

Now of course I have the job of cleaning it up and making it road worthy but what are YouTube videos and friends for. Then there’s the small matter of riding the damn thing competently. Watch this space (or watch your ankles if you live near Gladstone park).

My Old Dutch Bike.

My Old Dutch Bike.

Written by Anon PA

January 10, 2013 at 3:52 pm

2012 Was…

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I do not have a decisive enough personality to make definitive lists so just off the top of my head this year…

Has been soundtracked by albums from Crybaby, The Maccabees, Friends, Wild Nothing, Mystery Jets, Mary Epworth, Beach House, Zulu Winter, Kindness, How To Dress Well, Hot Chip, Sharon Van Etten, Sleigh Bells, Polica, Toy, The Futureheads, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Grimes, Grizzly Bear, David Byrne & St. Vincent, Jessie Ware, Bat for Lashes and Perfume Genius. I wasn’t blown away by Alt-J (someone had to not be).

I can count the amount of times I went to the cinema on one hand but adored all the films. The Hobbit, Avengers Assemble, Moonrise Kingdom. Most of all I loved Beasts of the Southern Wild and Searching for Sugar Man.

It seems to be a year where I’ve mainly read David Sedaris. However, Anna Richardson’s Little Gods would be my book of the year. Stunning debut novel. After reading Virginia Woolf, A Room Of Ones Own I am determined to work my way through the rest of her books next year.

The exhibitions this year have been the strongest since I’ve lived in London. From Charles Dickens writing desk at the London Museum to Grayson Perry at The British Museum.

It’s been a year where I finally got to see Mystery Jets live, and at the Royal Festival Hall with someone who’s support has been unwavering this year. There’s been Gigs where I’ve been with my parents and created cherished memories, gigs of sitting in Hoxton basements and leaning over Heaven’s balcony. Drunk gigs, sober gigs, gigs that have moved me to tears or where I’ve come away with aching feet from dancing so much.

Above all these things it’s mainly been all about London 2012 for me. I hope I am forever changed by the Olympics and Paralympics. It made me kinder, motivated, deliriously happy and proud to be British. Actually, proud to just be a human being. This Public Enemy song will forever serve as a reminder.

It’s been a year of pesky Tinnitus, goodbyes and job changes. It’s been a year where friendships have sprang out of the unlikeliest of places and where I will never underestimate the kindness of strangers. At times you have overwhelmed me with your support and general brilliance (I know some of you read this blog, most of you will never even know you made a difference).

Of course there’s plenty of things I didn’t get round to in 2012. Like swimming round all of London Lido’s, having tea with Ian Hislop, learning how to ride a bike or shaking Robert Jay QC by the hand.

It’s been a year where I’ve decided bravery is one of the most important qualities you can possess. A year of remembering I can breathe underwater.

2012. In equal measures I’m glad to see it gone and reluctant to let it go.

Here’s to 2013. Happy New Year.

NB: Huge thanks to Pete at Flush The Fashion for putting up with my contributions for another year. To Pub Diaries for letting me waffle on in a Q&A. The ever energetic and tireless Dan Thompson for printing my pop up shop piece. To Darren Hayman for letting me talk about my love of swimming and to The Guardian for printing my ‘Six Songs Of Me‘. To Tim for having me on Resonance Radio. And to everyone who reads this. Cheers.

final collage