Monday, 12 March 2012

Happy birthday, my blog.

My blog is a year old! Who’d have thought it, my baby *wipes eyes* Now who wants cake? (the cake above was for my birthday last year. A Tooting Lido cake, what could be better? Eternal gratitude to the ever-glorious Maria Von Cake. )

In the last year, I’ve swum in 46 London pools, which is, at a rough guess,  40 too many. A few are great, some of them… well, let’s just say the words ‘fun pool’ will forever strike a chill in my heart. Flumes? Shudder. So far, a total of 870 of my minutes* was spent in Changing Villages, 560* of those 870 in showers of such piddling power it’s a wonder I ever get actually clean. I’ve straddled drains and swum through semi-skimmed milk, and I’ve been followed by some particularly persistent long black hair right across the capital.

*This is a made-up statistic.

And now, at the end of this first glorious year, it’s AWARDS TIME. Drag out your best gold lame costume, boys, and dig out your high-heeled flip flops. Yes, people, I have invented my very own Pool Oscars. In memory of John Cheever, who wrote the short story The Swimmer, I am inaugurating The Cheevers, random made-up categories for the best and worst of what I’ve seen. High Cheevers are good, and Low Cheevers are, natch, bad.

Monday, 5 March 2012

The anorak of life

Giffin Street 
London, SE8 4RJ

020 8694 9400

Memory is an anorak (is something that sounds like an Alain de Bottox saying). An anorak that promises to be waterproof, which you believe until you get soaked in a downpour. An anorak with lots of pockets, maybe a fisherman’s anorak. Some of the pockets are easily accessible and contain useful stuff (bits of nylon, fishing flies, if we’re going with the fishing theme). Other pockets have holes in them, so things fall through to the lining and you find the hem of your anorak weighted like old curtains with coins. Sometimes, you find another pocket that’s been there all along but you forgot, and when you put your hand in you pull out all sorts of stuff. A half-empty tin of Fisherman’s Friends, maybe. Some bait (now deceased). Other fishing bits (turns out I don’t know much about fishing).  Today I found one of those forgotten pockets, and what a good deep pocket it turned out to be.

Today I went to a pool in Deptford right near the Albany Empire where I used to work, where I co-founded the country’s first Black Comedy Club, and where I was involved with pre-TV Vic and Bob’s Big Night Out (blimey, that dates me, but as I've said before, so does my age). I’m not going to lay out all the memories my visit brought up, because I don’t want to give away all the good bits from the second volume of my autobiography; I’ll stuff them back in my memory anorak.  But suffice to say, it felt odd, good and bad odd; good for the actual times, bad that they'd been so carelessly tucked away, and were so long ago. The High Street looked quite the same but intrinsically different too, but again, so do I.  I can say, though, that if you want halal meat or gaudy sprays of plastic flowers, this is and always was the place to come.