Let’s All Meet Up
In The Year 2000
Notting Hill Arts Club
He plays Smokey Robinson and The Shirelles and Dressy Bessy and I lie on the sofa bed in the living room and have paracetamol and chocolate biscuits for my breakfast, until he starts to indicate that he wants me to leave. I walk down on my own in the rain to Notting Hill, feeling ill and sorry for myself. The sky is the colour of a dirty duvet and the trees are broken umbrellas that donâ€™t keep the drizzle off. But the weather doesnâ€™t matter downstairs in the Arts Club, that half-lit bargain basement under a sixties parade where the indie clans gather for Rough Tradeâ€™s RoTa every Saturday afternoon, and where the under-used bouncers pull aside the rope to let pretty much anyone in. Everyone I know is here, and everyone I donâ€™t know. What else is there to do on a rainy afternoon? Sainsburyâ€™s? IKEA?
The espresso machine has broken down, so I have to have vodka for brunch. I skulk and sulk in the corner for a while and try to go back to sleep on a pillar before speaking to Matt and Jamie and Gareth. Matt says he doesnâ€™t know anyone who went to All Tomorrowâ€™s Parties, whereas everyone I speak to had a fantastic time there. Maybe next year. Lucy talks about fish shaped like Stuart Murdoch, which is horribly confusing in my post-addled state. I spot Percy, Londonâ€™s only helpful sound-man, who once produced welding tools in order to fashion the fatal fifth DI box needed by a band I know, and who manages to get a good sound out of any creaky PA system.
The first band comes on and so I sneak my way to the front, which is practically on the stage, and swap a coy smile with the keyboardist, who plays the melodica in a sexy way. The band have developed a Bez-type dancer with a tambourine in a hat.
I retire to the bar for cocktails and suddenly my hangoverâ€™s long gone and I throw my coat and bag at John behind his merch stall and get through a Winter Sunshine, a Black Russian and a Screwdriver (not all of them belonging to me), and feel goddamn OK. I chat to/up the keyboardist and down half of his White Russian and a Harvey Wallbanger and the last of the chocolate biscuits from my pocket, but have to spit them out because my mouthâ€™s forgotten how to chew. He holds my hand but, to quote Stillman again, itâ€™s really important there be more group social life, not just all this ferocious pairing off, so I go to find Dave whoâ€™s eating in Pizza Express down the road and I sit by his feet and hug him, much to his friendâ€™s amusement and Daveâ€™s chagrin, and eat not much pizza and Iâ€™m down to my last three quid, but go on anyway â€“ Central Line, Victoria Line â€“ to Club V at the Garage (Upstairs), where I seem to get in for free and start to sober up during the band who do a cover of A Forest by The Cure and I try to dance but thereâ€™s no room, and so I go home alone, not too worse for wear.