Sunday, October 02, 2005

91 steps in Central London, part 3

this is how many steps i have to climb to get to my host's front door.
it is painful and breathless and invigorating at the same time.

last nite, we all went to the poetry cafe to check out the cellar. hosted
by our favorite irishman NIALL. it was a bit wet after a quick shower that afternoon
but otherwise, just brisk wind to remind us that winter was near.

we hopped the 38 bus and headed into tottenham court road to meet with our
host for coffee before the mic sign up sheet opened. the bus system they have in effect is hilarious. you jump on the open-ended entrance at the tail of the bus. and pay whenever the dude that takes the money remembers to ask you for it. he didnt ask us, so we saved a pound twenty. we ge to our meeting place (yup. starbucks) and after the much needed (and expensive 8 pounds including the nasty panini i ordered) white chocolate mocha (w/soya) we headed to the cafe. there was a bit of hustle and bustle - which is always a great sign for poets trying to sell there product.

NIALL already had his features set in stone, but allowed us free entry and a lengthy open mic slot. to show appreciation to the cafe (also because i walked into the bldg with my starbucks cup) i decided to patronize the bartender and order a glass of water. 1 pound. he replied - but you can get a whole bottle of water for 1 pound 75. im like - that's whassup. then he pops open the tap of the water and waits for me to fish my pockets for coins. when i give him 2 pounds. he laughs and says - i said 3 pounds 75. im stuck. i give him his stinking coins, take my change and head to the table holding jive and agnes in a huff. i sit there for atleast 20 minutes, mad that i got played for almost 4 pounds (which equates to about 8 american dollars) until i couldnt take it anymore and headed downstairs. jive kept saying take it back, as did agnes. but i couldnt do it. took it as a lesson learned and waited for the poetry to begin.

during the evening there was a heckler by the name of Luke Skywalker "something" -- he was a damn mess. yelling at people while they performed and then when the audience looked at him - he would gush "my apologies". i think agnes said she thought he had tourettes - but i knew it was a hoax. homeboy wanted attention. so when my name was called - he started again, and i had to stop and look him dead in his face like WHAT? (anyone from NYC or OAKLAND - hell, anybody with a violent bone in their body knows what that means). and he quieted down enough for me to finish my small set.

fast forward. he finally gets called to the stage - but not before he yells at the crowd, tells jokes that only he (and jive poetic) find funny, and upsets the host so much that NIALL gives him a refund, snatches the microphone and invites him to leave - immediately. now that was priceless.

afterwards we make our way back to central london, stomachs growling and full of laughter, we stop at a bodega (they call them newsagents) and i grab some chips, soda and beef jerky. another 5 pounds. we board a bus and wait our stop to arrive swiftly. unfortunately, the dude taking coins is on patrol. so i start checking my pockets for fare and realize i just spent the remainder of my coins on the snacks. jive purchased half of the soda and realized he as well was outta loot. they don't do change and here we are -- at the top of the double decker, stuck!

that's when agness yells "JIVE!" and we say, uh excuse me, or something another and jump down the stairs of the double decker to find agnes already on the sidewalk waiting for our exit. we laugh, because this is our second bus ride for free and head to the chinese restaurant to celebrate our hunger.

chinese restaurants are so much different here. in london, they seat you - even if it's well after midnite (which it was). in brooklyn. the plexiglass doors and bulletproof windows separate you from the chinese food workers. you have to order your food in numbers (gimme the number 2 or 2 wings and fried rice special for 2 bucks). in london, they make it fresh. we feasted on lo mein and prawns, special fried rice extra chicken and kung po prawns and prawns and black pepper sauce.
the food was considerably good - or we were just crazy hungry. the tab arrived and we shoveled out 10 pounds a piece.

so by the end of the night, i am upset with myself for spending all that money - but definitely happy with the company of food and friends. no matter, i will stay home the next day eating leftover chips and coffee.

next stop manchester


Christa Bell said...

um...why do i only know that you're in london through the grapevine? can i get a call? an email? a telepathic message? a lucid dream?...just a little note to say "i'm out of town?"...cbell

my coffee is always said...

glad to hear you are living it up on a poet's budget. I'm with Jive, probably would have been a better idea to give the water back... But knowing you and my recollection of a certain Austin Steak House visit, you were consistentlty you... will be in b-more/dc area starting tomorrow... talaam and marc are out of town as usual... got any tips on places to hit? backchannel me..