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September 01, 2006

The fall of Arcadia – Reading festival and other recent happenings

So been busy busy busy, and loving the crap out of it. Let’s start from where I left off. My first day at the NO2ID office was really good, the bulk of it was just envelope stuffing supporters packs, but I also learned how to send things by parcel force and fill in their forms. It was fun chatting about the scheme and other stuff with the guys there (obv Doc Who came up at least once). But just as with going to Planet I got paranoid about going past MI6. It’s an ugly oppressive building which I intend to photograph to show just how ugly it is, there is one corner that has what looks like a Bauhaus statue surrounded by a fence and a concrete wall with a camera over it. There’s always a security guard outside the gate (why they hire in security instead of using police etc I can’t quite fathom). I love the road name of the office; black prince st. jokes! When I walk there from Vauxhall station I love to play the game Spot the Spy. The object is to look at all the people coming out of the station and guess which are going to turn into the MI6 building, it’s perfect for me to play as they seem to keep pretty much normal office hours. So here’s a tip spy’s look boring, you wouldn’t invite them around for dinner, they usually wear short sleeve white or cream checked office shirts and carry rucksacks and mobile phones. But top of the range mobiles with stunguns I suppose we’re to presume. Anyway to lighten my paranoia there is the amusing sight of the London duck boat’s ramp from the Thames onto the road.

Mi6 DuckTour

On Wednesday morning I went via Tottenham court road (a little out of my way) to try in at the camping shop that Alan recommended but when I got there (around 9:25) I discovered that they didn’t open until 10:30, lame. So I popped into borders (which I believe has replaced books etc on charring cross road, saddness) and flicked through the dr who comic books they had for sale. I returned after work and before I went to meet Becky from work. I got a sleeping mat and a gas stove. I was a little worried about taking a butane gas canister in my rucksack onto the tube but thought; och well.

I met Becky from work (though I stood in the rain for a while waiting for her) and then I rung the bell and went up to get her, the theatre agent’s office is quite nice (about 3 times the size of the NO2ID office, fair enough), pity about the view but it doesn’t look like the worst place to be of a day. We went to an amazing mule frites place across the road from her that does a cool pre theatre deal. We ate splendid food, a couple of delicious starters (churizos and summint else) and drank tasty beer (mine was a mango beer) and had a great main (I went for chicken wanting to have a hardy meal afore Reading’s makeshift cookery, and Bex had the famed mule frites woo!). After the meal we sauntered over to the Roundhouse theatre to see the AMAZING “Fuerzabruta”. It was an astonishing physical theatre piece from Argentina methinks. If you go to their website and click on the trailers page the lowermost trailer gives you a very accurate idea of what the show was: http://www.fuerzabrutalondon.co.uk/
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It was the perfect preparation of a weekend of music dance and partying in every respect except that it meant we got back to do our packing at about 10ish. But pack we did considering every eventuality and then we hit the sack.
High Frequency
On Thursday morning Becky took a minicab to Paddington at 6:30am for her coach ride to Reading. I figured woo, we’ll get a good pitch (and boy was I right, which I discovered as a swanned in well after midday) and I got up around 9 to check the house was in a fit condition to leave (locked up, cat’s cared for etc). Then I went to Southgate tube station by bus and by tube. The journey was wicked as the guys I was driving with were totally jokes. The weather looked promising and I even took a photo just in case it didn’t hold up so I could look at it and remember the blue skys (and perhaps to punish myself for an unknown crime punished with water by god). pre Reading skyWe listened to some proper tunes on the way there with roots music and some morcheeba to bring out even more sunshine. The guy who was doing the lift part of the liftshare was called Stef and he pitched up right next to us which was wicked as we had a nice little party village going on with plenty of banter knocking about.
The first night was jokes, we wandered down to the action aid tent and had a boogie and signed their petition it was lots of fun and tons quieter than it was on the other nights after the main arena had closed. While hanging around the main drag towards the arena entrance we caught a pillow fight that took place on the bridge at 12 exactly, it looked like a lot of fun. pillow fightWhen we got back to the tents we had a fire and it rained a bit I think, but it was light and didn’t last too long, it didn’t even put out the fire although for about 15 mins it did drive us under the cover of the more spacious tents. I’d brought along my wind up radio which gave a consistent background of music but which wasn’t needed when we got up around midday each day as we were near enough to the main stage to hear it perfectly.
Me & Bex indulged in some awesome cooking, with bacon sandwiches on the first 2 days for breakfast and some other delicish stuff. Camping was fun as we weren’t far at all from the long drop toilets (which I like for their fresh air) and we also were pretty close to a river/stream which doubled as a communal urinal. Woop! cooking + mess
So we had plenty of banter in the campsite and it was close enough that when tired or hungry or just wanting to see if we could find people we knew we could easily meander over to it.
But hey the festival is all about the drug of drugs; sweet sweet music and there was plenty of it. Highlights were in no particular order; Muse, Flogging Molly, Pearl Jam, The Arctic Monkeys, Less than Jake, Bedouin Soundclash & the Eagles of Death Metal. These acts were really special and you could really tell (and sometimes they said) that the performers were having the times of their lives or they were really connecting with the audience on some profound levels. The best thing is that they really comprised a great variety of music styles and all have great songs, and man, did I dance it up to each and every one of them, plus all the misc, dancing as we wandered around or at the action aid dance tent etc.
pearl jam1pearl jam2pearl jam3museless than jakeflogging molly

The other great acts I caught (none were bummers) or one’s that I only caught a wee bit of were: Yeah yeah yeahs (totally good fun mixed with good songs), Belle and Sebastian (chilled for a sunny afternoon and one of my CD faves), Panic! at the Disco (lead singer got bottled, I reckon t’were faked), Dashboard Confessional (great songs which I laid back and listened to horizontally), The Streets (I just caught “dry your eyes mate” & “fit but you know it” both good), The Futureheads (good band), Slayer (“war” ace old school metal), Peaches (really fun and grimsy), Goldie Lookin’ Chain (“your mother’s got a penis” nuff said) & Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (really happy shit).

I also got to catch some comedy with Bex and others, Stewart Lee was great doing some stuff I’d seen before (or heard on the radio recently) but still raised a good amount of laughs especially considering the fact he was competing with some very loud stages. I tried to catch him afterward to give him a NO2ID badge as he’s doing the fundraiser on the 1st of October at the Hackney Empire.Stewart Lee I sent the badge back to him and handed out a bunch of flyers. Later I got help from some of the guys (Alex, Pat and Adam methinks) handing some flyers out and they discovered how easy and fun it was. EVeryone was really aproachable and it was nice to be able to talk to randoms a phenomenon I’ve enjoyed at other festivals and raves (and occasionally on public transport). cnutI wish I took more flyers along with me, it’ll be a challenge for next year I guess, whatever happens festival wise. There was other good comedy from BBC3’s Ninia Benjamin and a cool Kiwi comic.
Toilets were annoying on beer bladders but the standard of toilet wasn’t what the stories had led me to believe. We often met each other by the red dragon Chinese noodle store, tho I never ate any, all I bought food wise was really some samosas and I think that’s more or less it, no dirty burgers for me.stageBex et al
It was great to hang out with and meet a few more of Bex’s friends; they’re a primo group with plenty of banter to be had all around. They really made the party atmos come alive. They especially helped this lame-o hippy get in the rock & roll mood (& encouraging a good amount of beer drinking to be sure). AdsThe time spent at the camp even when music was on was far from wasted (despite however wasted we might have been) and we all saw different stuff so vicarious enjoyment was the order of the weekend too, standard. I really enjoyed constructing our nightly fires, everyone pitched in to buy the wood which was sold at the entrance to the campsite and the fires were a lot of fun, except when stumbling people attempted to dive face first into them. On the last night it began to rain harder than it had before which I partly saw as a godsend as I had heard horror stories about the last night antics at Reading, where people would put gas canisters in fires etc and I assumed the rain was keeping those people away. But to keep the fire and the party going we went and borrowed the gazebo from the neighbouring camp whom all seemed asleep (they had been chanting CHUG, CHUNDER and Octo, Octo-bong at about 11am so burn out on the part of these gin swigging 15 year olds was hardly surprising). We then gathered a good number of people under the gazebo with everyone pretty knackered from the last night’s music and dance, it was a lovely lovely night, and we had the biggest fire to date (fire was selling cheap methinks).
Bex and I at Less than Jake
Me and Becky did a good little trip to Waitrose to top up our supplies on the first day, it was fun, hard on the arms by the end but we’re fricking troopers. We got a couple of boxes of wine which was such a good idea, on the last day we snuck in a couple of water bottles of wine (because there was a ban on taking alcohol into the main arena) which was perfect for chilling to good music in the sun, cheap sophistication. We also topped up our food and got some soya milk for teas. I insisted we go into the Help the Aged charity shop. I hadn’t brought a waterproof and I found an excellent one in there for £6 and it was Pierre Cardin, I think I had a suit jacket of the same make which was pretty hardy. I also got my self a pretty Perrón, which features extensively in the Catalan film The Tit and the Moon which we studied last year. On top of those I bought a citronella candle in a can which was great for keeping bugs away (remember the toilet river I mentioned) and for a bit of light and fire lighting, a proper practical bargain for a pound.
On, I believe it was, the second night we bumped into a couple of Warwick people in the action aid tent. We saw a thesp, Cag’s boy Craig and my ex-housemate Katy. It was great, later I caught up with fellow film studier and all round ledge Andrew Shaw, he told me he was having a pretty crap time but we failed to hang out properly, partly because my phone was dead, same happened with Katy but at least we got to hang out for a bit of dancing.
So it was a great weekend, we got so lucky, with weather, beautiful sunny days, good temperatures etc. t’were all good. We also got lucky in other ways, bumping into all these cool people, the fact that I got a liftshare and it was off a totally cool dude, the fact that the other guy we came with dropped out so Bex could come home with me rather than go by coach and have to get to mine from Paddington, and the fact that the music was scheduled really well to separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of music tastes.Pat and Stef Anyway, I hope that begins to give an impression of how good that weekend was. Nuff said.
When we got back we crashed for bank holiday Monday and then on Tuesday Bex went to work. On Wednesday I went into Vauxhall and did some volunteering at NO2ID. It was mostly filing this time, alphabetising our general correspondence, creating a new file for correspondences with no affiliated organisations and the press. It was a quiet day with not too much to do and I left early to wait for Bex in central London and do some window shopping. I then caught up with Bex and her housemates Cags and Jen and her boyfriend/my ex director on Rebel Jamie Hewitt and we went for what was to be for them pre show drinks (they were going to see our mate Ben Fowler’s play that me and Bex had already seen) but they hadn’t booked so by the time they arrived there it was sold out. I was mad hungry by this point so we wandered down to the Pizza Express café and had some munch. It was lovely, then we went to one of the gay bars there and had another beer, woot!
Yesterday I had my last driving lesson before my test on Monday (wish me luck, not that I need it ;-p) which went pretty well and I’m quite confident. During the day I did some general admin stuff, cooked, had a bath etc and I left out to the mass lone protest in the no protest zone around parliament sq. Big thanks to Karim for sorting me out a licence to protest, he and his mate Sylvia had some cool signs and I was rocking out the NO2ID mask and flyers (which stupidly I printed instead of thinking ahead and getting a bunch from the office). I got a text from a mate of mine Richard who had seen me on BBC London News check it out:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/5303558.stm

here’s the video, I’m the masked one behind Mark Thomas I appear briefly about a minute in. http://news.bbc.co.uk/media/avdb/news_web/video/9012da680050218/bb/09012da680050270_16×9_bb.asx

After that finished we went straight over to Angel to see A Scanner Darkly which was a pretty good movie, but which didn’t dwell long enough on it’s really good paranoid noir or sci-fi elements, but which had some great performances shine through the rotoscoped animation which gave the film it’s beautiful style but with much less substance than Linklater’s previously rotoscoped film Waking Life. scanner darklyUnfortunately a lot of the enjoyment comes from intertextual references in the castings (such as the fuck up in the opening scene who is the extrapolation of a character from Linklater’s Waking Life) to conspiracy theories (the camouflaged lizard men) and to actor’s personal lives which all might add up to alienate the casual view (like my driving instructor who saw it and didn’t get into it). Keanu Reeves is as wooden as ever but his part as the lead is in many ways the least demanding role. We hit the pub once more and I got the first chance of the summer to catch up with the delightful Albert and meet his firlgriend. All in all good stuff.
Strange thing’s been happening, I’ve been getting a lot of anonymous calls on all lines, home and mobile, I wonder if it’s a network thing or what? I got one just after I invited a bunch of people on facebook to the middle east peace march, and it was number withheld and at 2 o’clock in the morning and was just a bunch of guys chanting “Israel” for about 2 minutes. Bizzare and childish a classic combination, luckily I left my phone downstairs that night do I didn’t hear it ring, but if this is the same person they are obviously chicken-shit scared or they wouldn’t wait to get answer phone or withhold their number. It reminds me of the disgusting tactic used by Israel military to intimidate people out of their homes in Lebanon (obviously on a much smaller & more trivial scale) whereby they sent a blanket of text messages to a vast area of Lebanon basically saying leave your homes or else, pretty stupid as often in these large families the cost of getting all of your children etc away from the bombing area. I do hope these calls aren’t related and I’m simply being paranoid in a very Phillip K. Dickian way. I’d also like to share my anger about the news from the UN that Israel dropped 90% of its cluster bombs in war’s final hours. When ceasefire was in sight they used these inhumane weapons, spitting in the wounds of many innocent Lebanese who will doubtless be killed by unexploded bombs. It makes me feel physically sick and hateful, mostly towards the American government who supply these weapons, and our government who won’t use it’s perceived position as the rational arm of the US’s brand of Western Imperialism to condemn what has happened as a war crime. But how can we expect more from a government that passes off murder as a health and safety issue?!? Apparently there wasn’t enough evidence for a prosecution. What?! HOW MANY BULLETS IN THE HEAD TO COUNT AS EVIDENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!! How many witnesses were there!?! How come I’ve not seen a single piece of cctv footage of DeMenzes running or not running. How come I heard yesterday that one of THOSE firearms officers is now training the new British air marshals!!!!!!! Seriously!
Yesterday I sent my CV to one of the people I saw at the careers in television seminar at the roundhouse and she’s offered me some researching work experience on a show she’s developing for the discovery channel, I’m a little trepidatious about doing researching for TV again but this seems much more interesting and much less tabloid than 100 greatest sexy moments or Mike Tyson Laid Bare, so I might do some of that for a laugh and a reason to get out of bed (yes I can hear you all now, a bit late in the day to start thinking about that, wooo! you just punned yourself out of a point!)
So now to brunch (well after I’ve posted this and inserted a ton of photos etc) and then it’s Renoir time.

Ooh plans for the weekend, I was going to lose Becky to Harpenden as she was going up tonight for a mate’s party who I didn’t know and then hang there only coming back for Monday’s work and for a play (which I was going to tag along to and probably still will) tomorrow. I’ve gotta be back here tomorrow evening you see for my neighbours leaving do, I’m representing the house, I guess now along with Marina so I won’t be such a lemon. But Bex’s party seems off so I’m going to go up for the night. It’s my gran’s b-day tomorrow too but she says she hasn’t any plans but I’ll ring her tonight to check and I’ll make a card whilst watching Renoir, woop! Tomorrow there was also potential for some NO2ID flyering in highbury and Islington, but I reckon I’ll do that another week when we can also advertise their October first comedy fundraiser at the Hackney Empire. There is also a No Trident Replacement conference all day but I’ma have to skip that. To make up for it I’m going to donate a tenner to a big advert to coincide with the Labour party conference (ooh I’ll have my name in the paper) and you should all do the same:
For a minimum donation of £10, your name will be listed on the advert together with eminent individuals from all walks of life. To support this appeal and have your name listed on the advert, please ring Katy on 0207 700 2393 or support the ad campaign via our online shop. You may need to click through to the ‘Donate’ page or scroll down to find the statement donation, depending on your browser.
The deadline for signing on to this statement is Monday 4th September at 5 pm.
SAY NO TO NUCLEAR WEAPONS
TELL THE GOVERNMENT: NO TRIDENT REPLACEMENT


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