Saturday, July 17, 2004

Waterloo Sunset 

I’ll bet you didn’t know that Mike “Dry Your Eyes” Skinner of ‘The Streets’ also works for Ryanair. They’ve got him mumbling unintelligible boarding announcements, and for one worried moment we thought he might be flying the plane too. I knew it was going to be a wicked weekend when I realised it was him bellowing at us through the otherwise tranquil calm of Blackpool International Airport’s departure lounge at some unholy hour on a drizzly Saturday morning, and you know, for once I was right.

The plane ride to Stansted positively whizzed by, much faster than the time it had taken us to check in, and faster still than the ride from Stansted to Liverpool Street.
We eventually emerged blinking into the daylight at Waterloo Station to be greeted by a clever and confusing combination of bright sunshine and a heavy rain shower - you Londoners really like to have it all, don’t you?

You might recall that I’d asked for your suggestions on What To Do In London when I first booked this trip. So we took your advice and started at the London Eye, which we didn’t go on, stopping to snoop round the Second Hand Book Stall, wandering round the gallery and poncey shops of the Oxo building, before heading towards the Tate Modern. We had lunch at that pizza place with the awning outside, where we witnessed a man guzzle a whole bottle of wine faster than I’ve ever seen anybody guzzle a whole bottle of wine before 12:30 in the afternoon. And he had a pudding too, the greedy pig.
We crossed the wobbly Millenium Bridge which didn’t wobble in the slightest, and watched the beginning of what I guess must have been one hell of an expensive wedding at St. Paul’s. I counted at least five clergy blokes, and the army were on standby too, just in case. How much must that set you back?
I took a few photos, on the off chance that the official photographer screwed up, or the films get lost when they’re taken to Boots afterwards.

We mooched around the streets, past literally thousands of Starbucks and Pret A Mangers, every single one of which was closed, and checked out Somerset House, where the evening’s entertainments would be taking place. Then we shuffled along to our hotel, to have a bit of a lie down and enjoy a hot shower. Only the hot water was off. I went downstairs to tell the reception staff, but they seemed to be going through a living hell at that moment, with dissatisfied customers demanding transfers and rowdy Australians being hilarious and calls to taxi firms being ignored - it was the hotel lobby version of the Battle of the Somme - so I didn’t make a fuss and hoped the water would be back some time during the weekend.

The support band The Shins were very good, and the main act, Belle and Sebastian were just brilliant. That’s the fourth time we’ve seen them now, and I can’t wait until the fifth. I took a few photos, on the off chance that the official photographer screwed up, or the films get lost when they’re taken to Boots afterwards.
They did an unrehearsed and slightly shambling rendition of Waterloo Sunset, struggling for a while to find the best key. I could have told them G - you get to do a nice descending bass note around the A minor shape - but they wouldn’t have heard me. All the same, it was a beautiful moment, with the evening sunshine on the tax office, being right next to Waterloo Bridge with one of the best bands in the world singing one of the best songs in the world.
Girlfriend managed to get hold of one of the much coveted set lists that the technical crew threw into the crowd afterwards.

Stuart Murdoch, who I suppose you could loosely describe as the lead singer, keeps a really good online diary , by the way.

Afterwards, we stumbled through the crowds and buskers in Covent Garden, and crashed out knackered but very happy. Then we went back to the hotel. Ha ha ha. (See what I d - oh, forget it.)

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