An idle, aimless drifting around the clock governs my opening days of January, so I decide to impose a strict timetable. I force myself to be out of bed at 6am, into a sandblasting shower, strap myself into the uniform and start writing a diary entry by 6.30. The aim is to get a daily entry posted by 7am. I feel a diary should be written either last thing at night or first thing in the morning. I prefer the morning – the sense of being the first in the queue, as it were.
An announcement, first of all. The splendid Toronto singer-songriter Gentleman Reg, aka Reg Vermue, is coming to London to play a few gigs. He’ll be in town from the 10th to the 15th and tells me he’s looking for floors to sleep on for himself and his two bandmates. “I have the last few nights covered but not the first few. Let me know if you have friends with huge london apartments…”
I wouldn’t normally make such an appeal if I hadn’t got to know him in person the last time he visited. I can therefore vouch that Mr Vermue is as Gentlemanly as his recording name suggests, the very opposite of that rather uncouth young rock singer on Celebrity Big Brother. If you can help, Dear Reader, please contact Reg via his site at www.gentlemanreg.com.
He’s playing the 12th at the The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, and on the 14th at the Windmill in Brixton, and is well worth catching.
RIP today to two favourite London institutions: the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden and the Monday night club Trash. The former saw many a pleasant visit from my teen years to one of the rare attempts to use my college training as a Stage Manager in 1992. This was when some fellow Bristol Old Vic Theatre School graduates mounted a production of Mr Godber’s “Bouncers” in the Museum’s performance space. Still Bristol-based at the time, I stayed in Lambeth with a kindly gay gentleman who worked at the Drill Hall. His huge record collection consisted solely of classical and opera, with the exception of one pop album: “Behaviour” by the Pet Shop Boys. While I was staying there, I bought the latest Unrest album from Rough Trade (“Imperial” – still a favourite) and tried it out on his hi-fi. The stylus must have recoiled in horror.
I was last at the Theatre Museum a year or so ago, when it hosted some panel debate on circus arts versus burlesque or some such. The museum itself was always gorgeous and magical, and it’s a genuine shame it couldn’t keep going. Exhibits which spring to mind include the sinister skeletal horse costumes from the original National Theatre production of ‘Equus’.
Last time I was at Club Trash, I felt my age all too keenly: the clientÃ¨le always tended to be under 25, if a fashionably dressed under 25. In fact, I’m pretty sure some young acquaintances said “Aren’t you a bit old for this, Dickon?”. I’d been going since it opened in 1997 and was once featured as a ‘Face’ of the club in an Evening Standard feature circa 2000. In fact, I’d started going to Erol Alkan’s previous club Going Underground in 1995, recalling him spinning Pulp’s ‘Common People’ before it was released. Trash was more of the same, but gradually morphed from just another indie disco popular with students, NME readers and tourists into Britpop, and into something unique. Entirely down to Mr Erol’s infectious spirit, I think. For me, he’s always been one of the few London well-connected types who manages to buck the cliche of being stand-offish and unfriendly. He was serious and ambitious about the club, yet retained an amiable and open attitude. It’s impressive that he never missed a single Monday night for ten years, and that he kept the door price far below what he could have gotten away with given then club’s international reputation in its latter years. Again, bucking that London cliche of charging what you think you can get, and then adding more, just because it’s London.
I was a regular for about seven of its ten years, and Trash provided many happy memories. I’m sad it’s closing, but I’m sure Mr Erol will be okay. He’s passionate about what he does, always walking about with a bag full of records and a pair of headphones. The proper DJ all-enclosing sort, not those ubiquitous little white iPod bugs.