Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hallelujah, for strippers and Muslim owned off licenses

Hello Lums,

So Reeking Lum, what were you doing deep in the dark depths of London's anus looking for Buckfast? Well lums, I'm glad you asked.

I had been invited to my bosses home for a house warming party, which sounds like the opening of the pitch to Hollywood producers for a Terry and June feature film, but actually promised to be a right good night.

She lives in leafy Kew which is very nice, apparently Elle McPherson lives down the road and you never know, she might have turned up to complain about the noise and people pissing in her close, but I digress.
I of course wanted to bring a Scottish gift that would be appreciated by all the guests and my host in particular. Shortbread, too predictable! Square sausage, too impractical! Haggis, come on, who in all of England would appreciate that? So I plumped for Buckfast, Scotland's other, other national drink. Made by millionaire monks in an industrial estate somewhere in Devon and a social pollutant in Britain's council estates that makes BP's efforts on Gulf of Mexico beaches seem a bit half arsed.

In Scotland of course you can purchase a bottle of Bucky in any good newsagents, bookmakers, bakers, dry-cleaners, travel agents, butchers, post office, cobblers, tobacconists, ironmongers or haberdashers. Not good off-licenses funny enough, they steer clear of it like a DJ steers clear of Leader of the Gang at a 10 year olds birthday party.

I thought in a city of 10 million people, at least a million of them drunk homeless Glaswegians, I'd be able to pick up a bottle no problem, but it turned into a quest worthy of Sir Chavelot himself. I tried the local merchants, the first one I asked wanted to know if it was sweet or dry? Red or White?, no muddy plum colour, so he obviously didn't know what I was talking about. Next place asked me to spell it. By this time I was at London Bridge so thought I would try an Odd Bins, you never know I thought, maybe they have an ethnic aisle, no they didn't.

That's when it hit me, like a moment of pure unhindered and unhinged thought, an epiphany if you like. Where are there a lot of drunk Scotsmen in need of a reliable stream of the monks molasses? Kings Cross, that's where.

My arrival in Kings Cross I vaguely remember living down to my expectations, but I didn't have much time to take in the grimy down at heel Sweeney sets. I had to find somewhere to have a pee and the first likely oasis I found was The Flying Scotsman, a bar with a fine name, and surely willing to provide a hospitable welcome to a lost son of Alba.

I went in, the first thing that struck me was the gloom, no windows you see, but that didn't worry me, I just needed to find the toilet. I ordered a quick pint, asked for the necessary directions and went to make some room while the barman poured my Guinness. When I got back it crossed my mind how small the bar was, it looked much bigger from the outside, then the music started and it all began to make more sense.
Through a flimsy partition with windows not quite large enough was a little stage where the strippers took off both their items clothing. Now, when I say strippers, don't think for a moment we're talking Las Vegas table dancers, or even Chloe from X-Factor, this lot looked like they might have played in the big leagues once, but now were playing out a season in The Pub League, before hanging up there bootys.
The business model appeared to be that after each "performance", the girl, or er, lady, would go around the bar-flys shaking a little plastic coffee cup, that we had to put a pound in, this was a classy place.

It takes me about fifteen minutes to drink a pint of Guinness, each little dance last about three, give the girls two minutes to change over and that's still three naked strippers, and three pounds more to the point, during my one pint. One girl, lets call her girl No 2, was unusual in that she was actually relatively fit and attractive. She also had a Scottish accent and recognised mine when I said something like " There you go sweetheart, nice tits" or something just as charming when I dropped my contribution in her cup. I of course asked where she was from and guess what, she came from Stirling, virtually my home town. There is a fair chance I know her Dad, (or her Mum) though I didn't ask who he was. I thought that would be ungentlemanly.

I had had my fill of Guinness in plastic tumblers and naked eastern beggars, whether they are from the Cornton or not, more truthfully I had a party to get too and had to fulfil my quest to find the Ejaculate of Buckfast Abbey.

I tumbled out the Flying Scotsman and into the first offy I found, and success. I couldn't see it on the shelves behind the shopkeeper, but no worries there, my Muslim friend, reached under the counter and in a gesture surely full of religious symbolism, respectfully rested the bottle on the counter. And then spoiled it by saying £8.99. I could have bought a bottle of Chateau Neuf de Pape, from the Popes own vineyards for that. Still, I had travelled this far and I'm sure Sir Percival wouldn't have said "Aye, right ya chancer, I'm no payin that" if he was offered the Holy Grail for a vastly inflated price by some opportunist Arab stall keeper.

So, that was that, quest complete. I was able to present myself at the court of my boss with suitable gifts. Six Peroni, One party pack of Twiglets and a bottle of Chateau Neuf de Ned. It ended up getting drunk out of shot glasses instead of just necking it straight out the bottle, mind you, we were in leafy Kew.

Lang may yer lum reek.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Greggzos and the curse of the Gypsies

Hello lums, after a self imposed exile on the Island of Lost Afflatus, I have kindled up the lum, and have began to reek once more.

"One armed waiters, eh! They can dish it out, but there not so good at taking it!" That was my favourite joke at this years Edinburgh Festival, that and "My mate Dave drowned, we got him a wreath the shape of a lifebelt, well, its what he would have wanted". I like jokes, Bob Monkhouse had a good one "People laughed when I said I wanted a career in comedy, well, there not laughing now". You of course are under no obligation to find them funny, and that's the great thing about jokes, the worst thing about them is they don't translate very well to a Blog, so before I diminish that little glowing GSOH kernel in the midst of your noggin , I'll not reek about them anymore.

Reasons for my extended muteness really boils down to not having a little notebook to jot things in when I see something curious or the least bit funny, I have a new one now. And also, I've been a bit morose, and missing home too much, and its hard to see anything humorous in anything when your in that mood, so instead of reeking for sympathy or depressing both the people that regularly tune in, I have kept schtum until the clouds lifted, which they have, hooray.

Or perhaps it has something to do with a curious episode in Covent Garden a couple of weeks ago.
After tackling the stairs, there are an incredible 192 of them. I know that from a little warning sign at the bottom, certainly not from counting them on the way up. I couldnt have managed that, not with the burning lungs, furiously protesting thigh muscles and the sweat stinging my eyes while trying to climb over the expired that went before, the desperate skeletal remains in their Mind The Gap T-shirts, still clutching faithfully to the handrail.

As I crawled, gasping, out into the throng of tourists, blissfully unaware of the hell going on beneath them, I fell into the clutches of a gypsy woman. She popped a sprig of something in my pocket and started stroking my palm with her long painted finger nail. Telling me how lucky i was about to become, and how I'll live a long and prosperous life without being a burden to anyone. All I had to do was keep these two crystals with me always. I say crystals, they looked more like half sucked spangles, and of course, cross her palm with silver. I did, with 3 pound coins, then she said, in her menacing gypsy rasp, what about some paper? That's when I got the use of my lungs back and told her to be happy with my already generous gift and stomped off. But I'm sure she must have hurled some pykie curse after me because on the two occasions I have worn the jacket with the spangles still in the pocket I have fallen asleep on public transport and endured horrific frightening journeys that Sinbad the Sailor would have baulked at.
First I woke up in a tube train in High Harrow which is as North West to my South East London destination as its likely to get, second time it was a bus as it stopped at Elephant and Castle just as the tube stations were shutting at midnight, of course, also just at precisely the same time the battery on my phone, therefore Google Maps, ran out.

I had to take the night bus lottery, jumping from one to the other hoping that each would get me closer to home. Deptford, Woolwich (scary) and finally Greenwich where I decided I was close enough to try walking, it was half past two by this time. I did walk, and walk and walk some more, finally hailing a cab near Greenwich park that carried me home arsus intactus and with no stab wounds or robberies.

Other developments include my gym membership. Yep, Lewisham Fitness First has a new disciple. It really is like the exercise yard at Shawshank in there. Lots of big hulking black guys, lifting free weights and looking dangerous. I meanwhile try not to bring attention to myself unloading weights off the machines, but the little clink-clink noise it makes when I'm er, pumping iron, kind of stands out against the clunk-clunk noise the machines make when they boys are on them. Still, its a start, I've been going a week and still haven't run more than a £3 taxi ride but I'm aiming to have a body like a Greek God, preferably not Greggzos, God of Pies.

That's enough from me, I have a few more things to tell you about another day. My London wide search for Buckfast, and why, The Flying Scotsman Pub, fly tipping and the most Irish pub in Ireland, in Lewisham.

Lang may yer lum reek.