Lunchtime in the Springtime


Leather Lane, under creative commons from archimandrills photostream. Click pic for link

Leather Lane, under creative commons from archimandrill's photostream. Click pic for link

I decided that I really needed to haul my fat backside off my comfortable office chair today, having not cycled in this morning. And so I did, ostensibly to make a research trip to Age Concern on Leather Lane, but just as much for Daddy Donkey to get my taco fix. And what do you know, a lovely day it is out there.


I walked up through the heart of legal London, past the burnt out shell of Breams Buildings, past the Seven Stars (new rule, no riots), past the distinct lack of protests at the edges of the city and into Leather Lane. It’s like a little piece of Romford has been picked up wholesale and dropped into the most prosperous part of the city. Nestled between the myriad jewellers of Hatton Garden and the vast red-brick Victoriana of the Pru building, Leather Lane is a tatty, dirty street market with knock off clothes, cafs and a charity shop. I love it. 

It’s lovely walking around London in the sun, and there’s always snickets with interesting names: Chichester Rents; Took’s Court; Furnival Street. I love London sometimes, it’s so redolent of history, of life.


“I write on his wall” (Throwing Muses, Pearl, 1992 – 12 years Before Facebook)


from zioWoodys photostream

from zioWoody's photostream

Sometimes I find a real bargain. Sometimes it’s deceptive – the coffee machine I snagged for a tenner turned out to be a Nespresso machine. Que? Charlie Brooker tells me that I’ve inadvertantly bought into a lifestyle, which I wasn’t really aware of, although others seem happy. I’m not sure I fancy buying into some coffee club, I plan to stick with my ethically-unsound-but-dirt-cheap-and-still-quite-good Aldi coffee. Anyway, my point is, sometimes a bargain isn’t always as bargainous as it seems.


However, sometimes it patently is. How about a Springsteen classic for just an English pound? I’ve got a 60 year old copy of Bertrand Russell’s history of Western philosophy, I’ve found Half-Japanese singles, and much more, but it’s still nice when one finds something really good for really cheap. In a charity shop in Loughton, on Saturday, I purchased Throwing Muses’ Red Heaven for just £1.75. Having found some other delights, I’ve not listened until now, but it’s brought back a little of what I often forget: I heart Kristin Hersh.

Next year, Kristin Hersh will be celebrating a quarter of a century in the biz, since she and Tanya Donelly released the Stand Up EP in 1984. So when I was two, a teenaged Hersh was cranking out spiky guitar lines over thwacking great drums and screeching about her many problems. It’s a little frightening, but then consider REM started before I was born, Nick Cave’s been frightening pretty much everybody since the seventies, Tom Waits released his debut in 1973. Goodness, even Cliff Richard is still going. Red Heaven was released when I was ten, in 1992. By this time, the band had already released a couple of classics, had said goodbye to Tanya and were going strong.

Red Heaven is absolutely up there; its sound is (to my untutored ears) most reminiscent of Limbo, which came 4 years later. Either way, it’s a cracker, and that’s why I love rifling through bargain bins and charity shops – you never know what you might find.


The weekend has been a charity shop themed one: as they often are. It’s really the funnest way of spending time that you can have with your clothes on. On Saturday, my good buddy and I went around as many as we could (thirteen – we think we can breach fifty in a day if pushed – it might be a future challenge…) in Loughton, Waltham Cross and Epping, cheaping it up Essex style. What it does mean is that I’ve got a new (another!) coffee machine; more books, DVDs, records, CDs to go with my framed maps and clothes at home. I has a happy! and to celebrate, Charity Shop Tourism and Used Adventures In Hi-Fi are both updated.

Today, on the other hand, I’m suffering the fallout of a busy morning modelling (yes really…) and a weekend with no voice – I’m not ill (I’m really not!) but I am getting tired from all the heavy-duty whispering, so I’m considering getting off a bit early and flopping out at home with a lemon and honey. See you tomorrow, then!

Charity shop tourism

Generally speaking, if i fin something interesting my automatic response is to start a new blog about it. Music? I’m interested. I got a pedometer: I’m interested. Everything else? I’m interested. And so it is today.

My new best hobby is charity shop tourism, and if you want to know what I did over the weekend (although why you would…), you could do much worse than to relive Leamington Spa in the rain with me at my new blog, Charity Shop Tourism. Say hi!

A Delightful Day

Saturday was the birthday of Simone. Huzzah! I arrived in the world 26 years and two days since, and I am now a year nearer 50 than from being born. I am old, creaky and quite definitely balding.

This year’s celebrations (how my birthday became such a deal I’ll never know) were bigger and bolder than ever. Firstly, the much-vaunted Paris trip, with its many varied gourmet delights, was just out of this world. More recently though, the Delightful Day was spent in pretty much everything ideal.

Starting in Marmalade (with the most wonderful tarte tatin you are ever likely to have), the day continued with lunch in Muswell Hill’s semi-legendary Crocodile Antiques, followed by a pile round a couple of charity shops (emerging with Paul Theroux’s My Other Life) then on to Highgate to blitz the cemetery. We did the west side (previously I’ve only been to the Marx/Adams/etc. East), to see Litvinenko, Faraday and some other cool stuff. Not to mention the awesome, megalithic vaults and the Circle of Lebanon. Photos to follow on flickr, no doubt.

After a swift caffeine in Highgate, back home and then to La Kera for a mighty Keralan feast. A very fine restaurant indeed, with a nice line in pink decor.

Charity shops, cake, cemetery, curry – my life is filled with happy C’s.


CATPoor old Cat. Clearly fed up with being stuck with Gordon Brittas for the rest of eternity, he appears to have gone “berserk” in Kensal Green, as one does around this time of year. The ever-helpful Londonist records the deterioration in linguistic accountability in the newspapers’ reporting of the event, from the Beeb’s impartial and polite rendering to the Mirror’s over-dramatic inclusion of the ‘samurai sword-waving’ incident in its Showbiz section.

Much as I love these celebrities-gone-wild stories (my own personal favourite was Alan Davies’ recent tooth-based attack on a vagrant, although they range all the way to the Chris Langham/Pete Townshend, Jonathan King, iffy end of the scale), I can’t help but think that if I had gone after an errant binman with a sword, it would have just about made the Harringey Independent. Maybe I should restyle myself as a reggae-themed Merry Man, I would have more chance of notoriety.

Tody was characterised by an eye-test (new glasses coming soon!) and a charity-shop outing to Epping. Only managed Ten in terms of bargain CD’s, but got some ace books.