If all goes according to plan, my co-workers and I will soon be able to regularly avail ourselves of the services of a bona fide Reiki master, in one of the unused meeting rooms upstairs. Wow, how cool is my office?
While K meets a business contact in town, I do what I always do when he’s out of the house these days: burning CDs and importing them into iTunes. While simultaneously rating every tune which comes up on the Party Shuffle function, dragging particular favourites them into various themed playlists. Or else tidying up the standalone and “various artist” MP3s, by placing artist and genre titles in all the correct boxes. Once again, rock and roll brings out all of my darkest latent-Asperger’s librarian tendencies, as I obsessively mine order from chaos.
All I need now is my own iPod. And some portable speakers to go with it. And one of those FM adaptors that let you play it through your car system, or any other radio for that matter, without having to fiddle around with cables and input jacks. And then I will be happy, and freed from desire. In perpetuity.
A quiet, relatively ordered day, enlivened only by a haircut and a fifty-quid-bloke visit to Fopp (Interpol, The Go! Team, Chungking). At home, still on his major folk/roots kick, K orders CDs by Oi Va Voi and La Talvera from a specialist world music store.
At the hairdressers, Ant and I discuss the slow stagnation of Nottingham’s gay scene. The sense of progress which characterised most of the 1990s has long since gone, as existing venues atrophy and a renewed sense of marginalisation creeps over everything. Not the marginalisation of an “oppressed minority” – for those battles have largely been won – but the marginalisation which comes with the realisation that vast swathes of us no longer need a gay scene, and have accordingly all but abandoned it. Consequently, there is now something curiously reductive about visiting a gay venue. It’s the feeling that rather than experiencing the freedom to “be yourself”, you are instead shutting down your options and selling yourself short; just another sheep-like punter in a dumbed-down temple of trash.
Still, there’s always dear old George’s. Thank God that there’s still one last bastion of polymorphously perverse Bohemia left in town, at least until it closes its doors for good in the new year. Then where will we all go to discuss contemporary Japanese cinema and trade stories of skanky blowjobs whilst tango-ing with trannies to Ethel Merman’s Disco Album?
The meeting at the offices of the “well-known car company” near Schiphol airport goes quite splendidly – especially when I discover that I will not be required to spend three days a week in Paris between now and the rest of the year after all. A single day in Barcelona in the middle of November, and that should just about do it. (I’ll have to miss the Beta Band, but you can’t have everything.)
K rings me in the duty-free: could I let him know when I’ve landed, so that he can prepare the mise en place? Have you ANY IDEA how lucky I sometimes feel to have him as a boyfriend? Heart swelling with gratitude, I head straight for the Neuhaus chocolates. Which, if nothing else, is at least a step or two up from picking up a cellophane-wrapped bunch of mixed blooms from a garage forecourt.
Standing in the motionless queue at the gate, after numerous delays, I remind myself that none of this could possibly compare to the rigours of our journey back from the jungle this summer, via Porto Maldonado, Cuzco (where our connecting flight was delayed by a full day), Lima, Miami, JFK and Heathrow. Five flights, three days, minimal sleep, minimal food and drink, countless delays and frustrations, incompetent travel companies, surly cabin crew, ignorant and hostile immigration officials, lost baggage, a creeping feeling of absolute misanthropy AND the worst haemmorhoidal pain in six years. Hey, at least we survived. By comparison, this evening’s hour and three-quarters delay feels like a stroll in the park.
A couple of minutes later, a text flashes up from K. John Peel has died of a heart attack on holiday in Peru! As I read it out to my colleague, startled heads turn all around me before quickly snapping back into position, embarrassed at having betrayed themselves.
This news dazes and disorientates me. (Hey, Cuzco might have been grim, but at least we survived it; poor old Peely didn’t even get to see Macchu Picchu.) However, I carefully place any further reactions on hold until after dinner, when we switch on the telly. Shortly afterwards, I go upstairs and start scanning my regular blogs. Just about everyone I read has already posted a tribute to Peel. I scan wider; it’s the same wherever I go. Before I know it, it’s nearly 1am and I have been listening to Radio One’s tribute show for the past couple of hours, while wading through the mammoth discussion threads at ILX. I had no idea that Peel had meant so much to so many, for much the same reasons, at similarly formative times of their lives. It’s all a bit overwhelming. I resolve to write my own tribute in the morning, when my reactions have settled down a bit. (Yeah, like that was ever going to happen.)
(My personal pick of the Peel tributes: Caitlin Moran in The Times; Momus; Mo Morgan; Pete Ashton; Blogjam; “favourite Peel quotes” thread on ILX; digest of further links at No Rock & Roll Fun. Update: a superb late entry from Hydragenic.)
The flight to Amsterdam is half an hour late, but I’m used to that: in my experience, roughly two-thirds of Bmibaby flights to and from Nottingham East Midlands are delayed by 30 to 40 minutes.
I’ve booked a hotel on the Rembrandtsplein, only a few doors down from the same Irish pub where I first met Caroline back in March. We pick up where we left off, discussing Bono and blogs and travel and music and politics and food and ooh, y’know, Life. I recommend the Hidden Cameras, whose current album would be sitting at #1 on my “We Listen” chart if only I could be arsed to update it.
(Everything about Mississauga Goddam suddenly fell into place on the day after Elisabeth and I saw them in concert at The Social three weeks ago. Before, I thought it was a pale retread of The Smell Of Our Own. Now, I think it’s the superior album by some distance. If you’re curious, then start with Builds The Bone, one of the most mysteriously beautiful songs of the year.)
Caroline (whose pioneering and consistently worthwhile blog turned five, yes five, years old this week) gives me the background gossip on the recent unearthing of Bono’s missing notes for the October album; a story which first came to light via her U2log fan site. However, as scoops go, this is as nothing compared to her promised… no, perhaps I shouldn’t really talk about that yet. I’ll let you know if and when it happens. Soul of discretion, that’s me.