A Watched Livejournal Never Boils

As part of my birthday present, Dad sends me a package of old and curious books and bookmarks. One vintage bookmark is an advert for toothpaste (or rather, ‘dental cream’), in the shape of the product itself. Double-sided, too.

The toothpaste company is ‘Kolynos of Chenies Street, London W.C.1.’ I’m looking at this at home when Charley S texts me with a proposed meeting point for tonight, close to where she works: Chenies Street. No signs of any toothpaste companies there today. Just the Drill Hall venue, home of gay plays and BBC radio recordings.

From there we walk to the Artspace Gallery in Maddox Street, Mayfair, to see an exhibition by the Stuckists. Excellent paintings, though frustratingly without any labels to indicate artist or title.

Still, Ella Guru’s Last Supper is unmistakable. It really should be put on permanent display at the Tate Modern, given it’s a chronical of all the Stuckist types – Billy Childish et al.

Close-up detail here.
Annotation by Ella here.

Ella’s portrait of Debbie Smith with her collection of snuff boxes is another highlight.

More at Ella Guru’s site: www.ellaguru.org.uk

Am also impressed by Peter Murphy’s rendition of rock stars in the medieval Russian icon style. He uses your actual egg tempera and gold leaf on gessoed panels.

Taken from Peter Murphy’s website here.

My favourite work in the exhibition is Paul Harvey’s ‘Charlotte Church’ (2006). I love his clean lines style.  A touch of 1890s art nouveau mixed with 1960s psychedelia.

Taken from www.paulharveypaintings.com


Charley buys me dinner at Yo Sushi in Woodstock Street nearby, and I do what normal people call ‘catching up’. I’ve learned that whenever you look away from a friend’s blog or Facebook updates, that’s the time all the big events in their life happen. Moving to a new country, splitting up with their other half, getting together with a new one, getting married, getting divorced, babies. Always the last to know. As Del Amitri once sang. I know useless things like that.

If in doubt, I just assume people I’ve not heard from in a while have either moved to Berlin or had children. Or both. Seems to be the popular options.

Today’s lesson: A watched Livejournal never boils.

Also in Yo Sushi, Charley says hello to Rob Ellis, drummer with PJ Harvey and umpteen other notables.

Thinking about trendy musicians in Yo Sushi reminds me of the first time I went to one of these places. It was in the late 90s, in the then-new Poland St branch, as the guest of Nick ‘Momus’ Currie – a lover of all things Japanese – and Anthony ‘Jack’ Reynolds. Anthony kept trying to put the empty plates back on the conveyor belt, to get away with not paying, but was stopped by the more law-abiding (and I suppose, less rock and roll) Momus.

Actually, Momus’s cousin is the singer with Del Amitri. I really wish I knew less of these sort of things and more things that actually mattered.

We talk about the stress and strain of what to do on one’s birthday. Charley suggests I contact Seaneen Molloy, whose birthday is Sept 4th, the day after mine. She suggests we organise some sort of joint party.


On the overground train from Liverpool Street to Cambridge Heath, I bump into Marc Samuels. Marc tells me how he’s just interviewed one of his heroes, Andy McCluskey from OMD.  A new OMD album is doing the rounds. Original line-up, a tour in the offing.

In the midst of our 80s synthpop chat, a cartoonishly large spider suddenly scuttles across the carriage floor, prompting a yelp from a female passenger. The doors open at Cambridge Heath, and I expertly kick the blameless arachnid out into the gap between train and platform. The woman smiles at me as I get off. I have the glow of a Useful Gentleman. I’ll be putting up shelves next.

Used to have something of a phobia about spiders. Clearly no longer. Though downing a large bottle of sake helps.


Onto Wynd’s Little Shop Of Horrors (11 Mare St, E8) for a private view. Zoe Beloff – ‘The Adventures Of A Dreamer by Albert Grass.’ The moment I enter, I hear ‘Dickon! You know about Momus, don’t you!’

Wynd’s shop has a range of decadent and cult books, including titles from Dedalus and Atlas, plus several copies of ‘Lusts Of A Moron – The Lyrics Of Momus.’ Some customer was surprised that other people knew about Momus at all, hence the utteration.

Also at the private view is Robert V, boyfriend of the aforementioned Seaneen M. So that’s my message to her sorted out.

Zoe Beloff’s show is a sequence of comic book-like panels inspired by one Albert Grass, who apparently founded the Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society in the 1920s. According to Ms Beloff, he tried to have the resort’s Dreamland attraction rebuilt as a kind of Freudian theme park. He also created a journal full of oneiric images, which comprise this exhibition. Just how much is Ms Beloff’s own imagination and how much is Grass isn’t clear. I wonder if Grass himself is in fact her fictional avatar.  Regardless, I like the panels of dreams, particularly this one with a small badger whispering ‘Je t’aime! Je t’aime!’ in Grass’s ear.

Zoe Beloff: www.zoebeloff.com

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Fridge Madness

Quick announcement. Dedalus Books is once more applying for funding. They’re going to use their petition from last year as evidence of support, so please sign it now if you didn’t do so last time: http://is.gd/44qPb


Sat 11th Oct: With Anna Spivack to see the new play of Prick Up Your Ears. It’s based directly on the Orton diaries and John Lahr’s biography rather than the Alan Bennett 80s film. Matt Lucas as Kenneth Halliwell and Gwen Taylor as the landlady and neighbour.

Gwen Taylor for me will always be her characters in The Rutles: manager Leggy Mountbatten’s mother (‘He hated their music. But he liked their trousers’) and Chastity, the nazi-uniform-wearing Yoko Ono figure (‘a simple German girl whose father had invented World War Two’)

Despite allocating over an hour to get into town via the 91 bus, we end up gridlocked in Bloomsbury and have to race through crowded Soho, arriving at the Comedy Theatre in Panton Street just in time for curtain up.

We needn’t have bothered. The ushers and box office staff are standing outside, telling people the performance is cancelled and handing out details of how to get refunds. Matt Lucas is still out of the show due to his ex-husband’s suicide, which we were prepared for, but his understudy is off sick too. The understudy doesn’t have an understudy, so the play’s off.

We have a couple of drinks at 23 Romilly Street (where many of the old Colony Room regulars now go), before repairing for a bottle of wine at Anna’s flat in Archway rather than hit any clubs or further bars. One of the few ways I’m growing up, I suppose.  More restaurants and quiet dinner parties,  fewer loud clubs and gigs.

So sad about Matt Lucas’s ex-husband killing himself like that. I can understand Mr L pulling out of any play, let alone one about a doomed gay relationship where the non-famous one commits suicide. The tabloids have responded with predictable drool, flagging the word ‘husband’ in the headlines with smug inverted commas. One 21st century twist: the suicide note posted on Facebook.


Three weeks since varicose vein surgery. The bruises have faded okay, but am concerned about residual patches of numbness above my ankle. According to the literature, these could fade in 2 weeks, or 2 months, or 2 years, or in some cases not at all. I suppose given the choice between recurring pain (which prompted me asking for the optional operation), and permanent numbness, I’ll settle for the latter.  But I’d rather the numbness would go. And soon, please. Prodding the space above my ankle, I think of cold rubber. The type lining car doors. And the stuff used to make those thin mats in school gyms.

Other diary wishes: I really want the ability to write a decent amount every day, (as opposed to a habit for Olympic procrastination) but also the ability to just write and read faster. When I finally sit down and do it, I take far too long. I envy those people who speed through 800 page books in single sittings. I want to be one of those. I don’t mind having to do umpteen drafts – as long as they’re fast drafts.


Current madness: a fixation with the creaking and popping noises made by the casing of my fridge expanding and contracting when the motor is off. A bedsit hazard: I have to sleep and work in the same room. The fridge is only 2 years old. Did it always make those noises? Were the noises always that loud and frequent and distracting? Is it just me?

Other news: am back in therapy. Friday mornings, NHS so no fee, 90 minute sessions for six months. Have mixed feelings about whether I need them. But they were offered (after a year on the waiting list), and I’m clearly in need of something.

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