Strange that jatb was talking about letters yesterday – for some unknown reason I spent an hour reading old letters last night as well. Very weird. What’s particularly odd about this is that there don’t really seem to be any after about 91/92. Why? I guess my friends were (mostly) no longer at University and so either moved to London or had better things to do, but I suppose also by about 93/94 we had e-mail. This presumably means that for people who’ve always had e-mail there will be no letters at all – a whole delightful experience wiped out by the march of technology. Because there’s something about these letters – they’re much longer than e-mails and they’re funny and creative in a way you can’t be with text (or not easily) with drawings and asides scribbled between the lines. One envelope is charmingly addressed to :-
XX Xxxxx Road
London, The armpit of the World
I am in no way any kind of technophobe, but a line of text saying ’17 new messages’ is in no way the thrill equivalent of a crisp white envelope lying on the mat – it’s just not the same.
Many of these letters seem to have come from The Captain and it’s clear from reading them now that he didn’t enjoy university very much, that he didn’t meet very many nice people at university and that he didn’t get laid much at university. I’d forgotten all about that. I was also surprised to read a letter from another friend of mine who mere months later was sectioned under the mental health act as a danger to others accusing me of having stolen his copy if Malcolm Lowry’s ‘Under the Volcano’. In it he adds that he is extremely (underlined) angry and that this letter will be the last ‘peaceful’ attempt to recover his property. How can I have completely forgotten a letter like that? If it’d been e-mail it’d be lost in the ether. Of course sometimes that’s a good thing – letters can be very melancholic as they remind us of years past when we were still bristling with ambition and as yet unbowed by mediocrity! Coo – hark at Mr Maudlin here ;-)
There was also a letter that I read through, looked at the signature, looked at the return address and still couldn’t figure out who she was. Then it came to me – at the time she was my girlfriend. Now that did make me feel bad. Perhaps after all it’s a good thing to not have to collect all these mementos any more.
Last night to the Nipa Thai with my colleagues for our somewhat delayed Xmas dinner. As both Search & Extranet attended there were some really monumentally tedious people there. I could see Sarj across from me desperately trying not to yawn as Big Boss started his (and I really am not making this up) 2nd hour talking exclusively about Ealing comedies with the occasional foray into Steptoe and Son. When the conversation turned to the mechanics and execution of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang vs. The Lion King I seriously considered throwing myself under a passing drinks trolley but sanity prevailed. The food however was excellent – some of the best I’ve had. Of course my colleagues were not as aware of this as me given that all 8 of them ordered the set menu. Eesh. I just couldn’t bring myself to conform. It is odd when everyone else is ordering the same thing how excluded you feel ordering different things, but fuck ‘em. No way I’m going to order something I’m only indifferent to just to fit in. My food (deep fried crab & chicken sausages w/ plum sauce, hot and sour coconut chicken soup, prawn Thai salad w lemongrass and mint) was both more interesting and I could finish everything I ordered. I actually tried some of most of the set menu as well, because of course there was no way that they could eat it all.
The other thing of course is that these events tend to be very sober – I never drink on such occasions because if I start I will want a fuck of a lot more that would be considered seemly in these circles. During a meal lasting over 2½ hours between the 8 others they consumed a grand total of 3 bottles. Admittedly some of them were driving (because they always do) but even if they hadn’t been it would have made no difference. I know I’m an old soak but for any kind of a decent evening out you should really be looking at the bottles per head side of the equation instead of the other way around. I guess I shouldn’t moan because it was, after all, free, but all the same there does seem to be a certain type of corporate apparatchik who’s mission in life (all unbeknownst) is to carefully extract 50-75% of the fun from any given outing.
From the top deck of the 259 / 279 heading East along Seven Sisters just as it turns left at Amhurst Road look across and see Alexandra Palace. You can also see the Ridge Road housing project facing it from Crouch Hill looking like a great big overdeveloped cliff face – it’s really quite an odd view. Everyone know how much Ally Pally dominates the skyline in Crouch End, but it’s not always apparent how much the buildings on the North face of Crouch Hill answer back. Interesting.
Friday, January 16, 2004