an idiot in london


Sunday, 31st December.

This afternoon I was pottering about the house, and Brendan was home as well.
"Did you find your bedroom last night?" I asked.
"Ah, yes," he said, "I woke up on the couch, but managed to get myself to bed. Don't know how I ended up on the couch. I didn't disturb you last night, did I?"
"Uh, yes!" I said.
"Oh sorry," said Brendan, "when?"
He has no recollection of it at all! I thought to myself.
"When you came into my room and turned on the light!" I spluttered.
"Sorry!" he apologised, genuinely, "I don't remember it at all! Did I really go into your room?"
"Yes! Twice!"
"And both times you came in, turned the light on, then turned it off as you walked out!"
"Oh. I must have been sleepwalking..." pondered Brendan.

On Friday I won a pair of tickets to the New Year's Eve bash out at Alexandra Palace (or as the locals refer to it, Ally Pally). I'd entered the competition ages ago and had forgotten all about it. Ordinarily I'm asleep by midnight on New Year's Eve, I think it's all a load of crap, but Primal Scream were playing at Ally Pally and Primal Scream rock!

So I had a spare ticket to give away. And do you think I could give it away? Hell no! Everyone else already had plans (my dislike for New Year's Eve celebrations, which usually involve drunk 16-year-olds who are too old to support Essendon running around making noise and throwing up, is so well known that no-one even bothers inviting me to New Year's bashes anymore!) or were out of the country, so I ended up going on my own.

The icy weather has given way to rain, and it was in the pouring rain that I waited half-an-hour for a bus from Wood Green tube station to Ally Pally. I could've walked it in that time.

It was after 11pm by the time I got inside the venue, and I had no idea when Primal Scream were going to be playing. So I wandered around and cased the joint. In the "Guest Area" there was a bar and a dance floor that was deserted. Up the stairs and past the disinterested security guard and I was in the dance hall, strobe lights freezing the dancers. I fought my way through the throng to the Palm Court. Opposite was a room, just a room, with loud music. Next to that a small stall selling cigarettes, and next to that a "refreshment bar", selling food at no doubt extravagant prices. Left, the cloakroom, where I deposited my coats (2 a pop!) then the main hall.

The main hall had a stage up one end, where Liam from The Prodigy was DJing. In the middle was the standard conglomeration of sound desk, video projectors, and people who were "with the band". At the other end were three or four "rides", with their tacky lights, dodgy attendants and thumping second-rate music.

No-one seemed to know when any of the bands were playing. I figured Ian Brown would be one first then Primal Scream. I was pleasantly surprised when Primal Scream came onstage at about 12:30am. (pleasantly surprised? I make it sound like I was at a gardening fair or something. IT F*&%IN' ROCKED!)

They are rock stars, let there be no doubt. It wasn't quite the same as their amazing set at the Reading Festival, but they still rocked out. They came back for their encore, crowd went wild. After their last song Bobby Gillespie stood in the centre of the stage, glowering, being a rockstar, gripping the microphone in his right hand. The audience was captivated, screaming and yelling at the stationary figure in the middle of the stage. He had the audience captured in his headlights, and just as he's about to let fly with whatever he was going to say, some moronic DJ came over the PA with "YO YO YO LET'S GIVE IT UP FOR PRIMAL SCREAAAAAAAM!" At which point Bobby said "F&^k you" and threw the mic down in disgust. "YO YO YO BIG RESPECT FOR PRIMAL SCREAM!" The DJ then proceeded to play the most shite music I've heard since the Spanish heavy metal I was treated to in a supermarket in Logrono. The audience turned around and walked out.

Bought a kebab on the way home. Mmm, kebabs. Met some blokes from New York on the bus into central London, then met a bunch of South Africans on the bus from Hyde Park corner to Fulham.
"Have a good night tonight?" one of them asked me.
"Yeah, it rocked!"
"What did you do?" another asked.
"Went out to Ally Pally, Primal Scream were playing, good value."
"Plenty of g-strings?"
"No, actually, there weren't any fit women out there at all." I realised that it was more of a rock festival crowd than a club crowd that had been out at Ally Pally.
"That's no good! Did you have one, two lagers maybe?"
"Eh? Oh, nah. What about you fellas?"
"Oh, we've had one, two lagers maybe. Hey, are you an Aussie?"
"We're South Africans."
"Yeah, I could tell."
"Pretty bad, ay?"
"Nah, could be worse: you could be New Zealanders!"
They all laughed, and proceeded to torture the other people on the bus.