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 don’t keep the drizzle off. But the weather doesn’t matter downstairs in the Arts Club, that half-lit bargain basement under a sixties parade where the indie clans gather for Rough Trade’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 don’t know. What else is there to do on a rainy afternoon? Sainsbury’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 doesn’t know anyone who went to All Tomorrow’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, London’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 hangover’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 mouth’s forgotten how to chew. He holds my hand but, to quote Stillman again, it’s really important there be more group social life, not just all this ferocious pairing off, so I go to find Dave who’s eating in Pizza Express down the road and I sit by his feet and hug him, much to his friend’s amusement and Dave’s chagrin, and eat not much pizza and I’m down to my last three quid, but go on anyway – Central Line, Victoria Line – 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 there’s no room, and so I go home alone, not too worse for wear.