Not The Dealer

Recent outings. Three birthday parties in London pubs, one for Mr Stephen Harwood (Browns, St Martin’s Lane), one for Ms Shanthi Sivanesen (The Duke, Roger Street), and one for  Ms Heather Malone (Big Red bar, Holloway Road).

At all three I notice I’ve cast myself yet again as the lone invitee who knows the birthday person but who doesn’t really know any of the other friends there. So I do wonder what the others think when I turn up and greet the birthday person affectionately, but politely wave and try to catch the names of everyone else. To this end, I’ve been sometimes mistaken for a boyfriend, or a hoped-for boyfriend. Though I’ve yet to be taken for that other role fitting such a position at parties – the birthday drug dealer.

Big Red in Holloway Road is a curious place. The decor is a kind of crossover rockabilly, heavy metal and Goth – black walls, low lights, barmaids in gingham and punkish hairdos. Two pinball machines: one based on the band Kiss, the other on Doctor Who. With Sylvester McCoy as the main Doctor.

In amongst this tattoo-compatible gloom, one rare source of brightness  is a small TV mounted high above the bar showing, inexplicably, a golf match.

Friday before last was an early evening event at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. Organised by Travis Elborough. I’m employed to do a spot of DJ-ing, Cathi Unsworth reads a short story of hers (Ms U being a Good Hair Author), and the band The Real Tuesday Weld – who once supported Fosca in Athens – play a set, starting with the singer and clarinettist performing on the open top deck of one of the vintage buses in the museum. Even better – the singer holds an umbrella. Their set is slightly curtailed by a power failure towards the end, and I’m now wondering if it’s to do with the use of an open umbrella indoors, thus invoking bad luck. Worth it for the bus top performance, though.

I get the impression the LTM is one of those word-of-mouth museums in London which more people really need to know about. Since it was revamped a few years ago, everyone I know who’s been sings its praises to the hilt. Favourite exhibit for me is the London Bus Conductor’s Dressing Mirror, with a list of cardinal London Transport rules from a time outworn printed along the side, such as ‘Always Be Clean Shaven’.

My DJ playlist:

Tom Lehrer – The Masochism Tango (single version)
Louis Armstrong – Mack The Knife
Eartha Kitt – I Want To Be Evil
Bugsy Malone Film Soundtrack – Bad Guys
Peggy Lee – Fever
Andy Williams – House of Bamboo
Frank Sinatra – Let’s Face The Music And Dance
Ella Fitzgerald – Night And Day
The Chordettes – Mister Sandman
Louis Armstrong – Cabaret
Buddy Greco – The Lady Is A Tramp
Marilyn Monroe – Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend (Swing Cats Remix)
Dory Previn – Yada Yada La Scala
Bryan Ferry – These Foolish Things
Topsy Turvy Film Soundtrack – Three Little Maids
Anita O’Day – You’re The Top
Nancy Sinatra – These Boots Are Made For Walking
Ute Lemper – All That Jazz (solo album version)
Glenn Miller – In The Mood
Alessi Brothers – Oh Lori
The Flamingos – I Only Have Eyes For You
Shirley Bassey – Big Spender
Serge Gainsbourg – Initials B.B.
Brigitte Bardot (subject of the above song) – Everybody Wants My Baby
Blossom Dearie – I’m Hip (contains the lyric ‘once again, play Mack The Knife.’ So…)
Bobby Darin – Mack The Knife

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