Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Day Off (UK Trip Day 14)

The morning after gigs is always an experience in not heeding the lessons of history. You wake up with a headache, your legs hurt, your eyes are blurry, and you swear that tonight will be different, you are going to take more care, get to bed earlier, eat better. By the time breakfast is over, all of that is forgotten, and the next day ends up being like the previous one. I don't know if it's more a case of not learning from the past or not giving a crap.

Wednesday was my "day off", as it was for the band and crew. I heard from Chris C., who was hanging out in his hotel farther North. I'd hoped to have a drink with him later in the day, but by the time he contacted me, all the trains running in that direction were seriously delayed, so I decided against it. I didn't dare consider taking a cab in either direction--given London rates, it probably would have cost me £200.

I did catch up with a couple of other friends, Garry and Tapio, both of whom were excellent gents, buying all the rounds (and just about everything else) for the entire day. When my lovely scrape from the previous night started acting up, Tapio was even prepared enough to have the right first-aid with him, saving me the need to walk to a chemist. I met Garry around noon, and we walked around Holborn and Covent Garden, up Charing Cross Road so I could satisfy my bookstore fixation. Garry knows this area very well, and was even able to tell me which bookshops were crap and which ones were good. I found an old 1930s hardcover edition of "Ghost Stories From an Antiquary" by M.R. James, an A.O. Spare grimoire (two, actually), and a copy of Crowley's "The Vision and the Voice", a timely purchase considering my recent readings on Enochian magic. The latter was actually published in Texas, which made me think of my friend Phil. The shop owner of Atlantis Bookshop and I had a conversation about Crowley, and she recounted something I did know previously--that the bookshop was the site of the old Mandrake Press. "Crowley has touched the same door handle you just touched when you walked in." I had been looking for Rodney Orpheus's new book, and also volume 2 of Jake Stratton-Kent's Geosophia (she had shelf full of Scarlet Imprint material), but she didn't have either in stock at the moment. When I said goodbye, I found myself thinking of the old Monty Python bookshop sketch, originally performed pre-Python by John Cleese and Marty Feldman ("Funny, you've got a lot of books here.")

We walked up through Hawksmoor, and I mentioned another bookshop I wanted to visit, Treadwell's. I think they used to be on Tavistock St. in Covent Garden, but apparently they had moved to Store Street. Garry reminded me that Store Street is mentioned by John Foxx in his "Electricity and Ghosts" essay. They had closed up for lunch, so we had a pint and then headed over. After that we went to Camden and met up with Tapio. We sat drinking in a Wetherspoon's, for good reason--it's cheap. By the time we left there and realized we were not going to get over to see Chris C., we headed to a small pub in Euston near where I was staying, which had been a Victorian train station waiting room. We were there until last call, which was not far off. (Highly recommend the Redemption Dark Ale, which is a porter).

Today is the last John Foxx gig, and I'm hoping to see a few more people tonight. Tomorrow is my last day in the UK. Going home will be a surreal experience after all of this.

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