This is coming along (my chapbook) but one or two revisions are troubling me. And maybe its too easy to be cynical, negative. But finally I have a few things and they’re on the way to the Kindle Store.
The principle, of course, is old – as are so many of these things. They all come from something ancient. The idea is to limit yourself in a way easily accessible to you as a person. The idea is to be quiet, to practice a kind of omerta, but of course it has none of that import, so it just resembles a flippant vow. A silent vow, of silence. And how could it assemble any gravitas? All the gravitas I’ve seen in my life has been rich people telling people far less rich than them what to do. So there is no gravitas, no HBO contract for two series of naval gazing and sad nudity, no. It’s actually so basic, and so startling simple as to render me dumbstruck : the purity of it is amazing.
So the white guy that lost to the universally disliked snake oil salesman Ted Cruz is now the next best hope for the USA Democrats in 2020, behind the septuagenerian white guy that lost to Hilary in the primaries last time around. Slow hand claps: you have learned precisely nothing.
Today I treated myself to a ‘working lunch’. I took my laptop to Daebak in Vauxhall and had some bi bim bap whilst I read some documents. As always, the people watching in London did not disappoint. This was a mix of people. Hardly a melting pot, given that everyone was dressed like they had a half-hearted fight with last season’s Topshop catalogue, but sure.
At first my table buddies were two dudes. They were talking about hiring, seemed serious, and seemed oddly resentlful of their own seriousness. They concluded that hiring outside of the company was the way forward and to be scared of this. I was worried I might be hired into this humourless procession, and so I ordered some kimchi and got my head down.
They then paid ten pounds each (splitting the bill fifty fifty) and left, making time, also today at lunch, while I read documents, for my next set of lunch buddies. In came, and sat next to me, while I read documents, some development and sustainability types. These were two boomers, one male (who knew the place, and seemed based nearby somewhere, ordered soup noodles) and one female, a senior exec from out of town. They clearly worked for not for profit, or charity. All they did was use buzzwords, and gently beat around the bush. I couldn’t tell if they liked each other, or even enjoyed any kind of professional camaraderie. They spent a good while talking about where they wanted to fly to this year on ‘work’, and Canada featured high on the hitlist. Very sustainable, guys. They probably have great pensions.
The lady didnt know what miso soup was and asked why it was cloudy (soup man explained it was fermented and she conceded there were many different ‘types’ of miso, and then they changed the subject) and went on to say how much ‘more’ she had to offer the firm in HR and finance skills than was being currently used. He seemed oddly pained by this, as if it wasn’t the first time she had mentioned how much more she had to offer than was currently being used, while I sat there, reading documents, eating kimchi. Alhough how do you travel the world (it was mentioned that they might as well talk about the countries she hadn’t been to, rather than had been to, and then they laughed) and get to a decent age, what, 55, maybe older, not recognise miso and ask the clearly slightly peeved Korean waiter ‘what do you have that doesn’t have cabbage’ after LOUDLY announcing upon arrival that she COULDN’T HAVE CABBAGE? I genuinely don’t understand these fucking people. Jamming up the gears, gumming up the works, with their ridiculous bitching and whining and generational exceptionalism always expressed with the utmost sense that is reasonable behaviour that they have earned the right to. At least Millennials know and enjoy the fact they are taking the piss, and even make an art form out of it, asking for ping pong and Teapigs and unlimited holiday and flying cars on expenses. I once had an ——- complain her latte was in the wrong glass. (I was paying) On another occassion she regaled me about how great (and cheap) her life in —— was (they have two houses, another in England) and how the restaurant we were in was poor value. (I was paying) I had to listen to this as it was my job. She saw no issue with this, and felt it was entirely reasonable to complain about getting a latte in the wrong glass when I was paying and this was my job and we were there to talk about a ——-. She claims to be left wing but is of course married to a man who makes a lot of money. I remember it to this day, all of that, in a way that makes me think, either I have it so very wrong, and I should strive to moan about value for money (when I am not paying) or the right kind of glass to serve a latte in (when I am not paying) or maybe I am an adult and I learned not to whine about these things the second time my Mother told me to shut up and get on with it when I was five. I am unsure and there is no real possible way to be sure, is there? Maybe the problem is me and really, it could be.
I paid, and left, satiated, having read my documents. I want you to understand there is no way I can eat cabbage at this Korean restaurant, okay?
Of things to say, that aren’t already churned up like milk in an ice cream maker, frothed through by Tw*tt#r, which day by day resembles a postmodern anguish machine created by an idiot savant, tapped into the thing that would punish us the most.
It is still a slow progress, incremental.
Little by little, inch by inch, revelation by revelation, condemnation and recitation, I make my way towards something like a home. This isn’t a physical place, or even a metaphysical place. It doesn’t exist, in as much as it needs to be created and still has to be created and then, once created, it needs to be constantly recreated, every single day. That might make it the task we’re all engaged in, eyes down to the ground and a look of concentration on our distracted face. The problem is one of concentration. Glance away and it’s gone, a helium balloon at a fair, up towards the sky. It is a problem of application. It is a problem of buried pain and a source distraction and complication that can never be unravelled. No, here we are, homewards, but never home.
It’s official: East Ham is getting a tonne of new coffee places. I make it my business to review them. Some of the old, established places like Sunrise Cafe need no introduction, and there are places making the requisite noise on social media (Erstwhile Parrot). Some need a mention, a boost. Thus, I chose a simple method: an espresso in each one, compared. Like for like. A dipstick test. A benchmarking, a kind of apples against apples, or, to use a more Brexist analogy, cabbages for cabbages.
I begin wherever I chose : why be tied down by the weight of tradition? That weight of expectation will drown your soul. I visited Coffee Express on Barking Road by the Town Hall and the Denmark Arms. Here’s the frontage.
A rain-slicked tarmacadam and the overuse of the Express suffix benchmarks this part of town, which used to house a famous fast food joint that pioneered the three toppings for a quid personal pizza. Now its gone, like so much of our youths and the notion of the social contract.
The espresso was good. A long, slow pour, a very dark roast and a suitable glass. The coffee shop has diner style benches and bright lights and is done up in anti-hipster touches like shop-bought pastries and Indian finger food.
A strong effort with almost the hint of a Turkish coffee (reminiscent of some of the finer efforts of Sunrise and D&D)
As I drank, it left a crema and sediment behind like memories carved into the trunk of a beloved tree.
I left, having drunk the coffee, thus concluding my business at this establishment.
Rating: 6 beans out of 10