In the Mood For Withnail and I

Someone, I assume a group of students from Camberwell College of Art, once constructed a giant carrot and erected it on Camberwell Green. I very much regret not taking a photograph of it as it was a work of genius. Simple but genius.

Though my days of drinking and taking pills continuously for days on end until I have a mental break are over (yeah, ok, I never went there but I do have friends who did and it wasn’t pretty), I occasionally need an injection of nihilism a la Bruce Robinson.

Some behind the scenes shots from the Proud Galleries.

Within a few months of landing in England over a decade ago, as part of fulfilling the anglophile dream, I did go to Penrith, though I didn’t know to search out Sleddale Hall a.k.a. Crow Crag. It was a mildly disappointing trip and it turns out that much of the film was actually shot in Hertforshire or something. I do have to say I ‘get’ the film a whole hell of a lot better having lived in the UK, though the dirty ‘edge’ depicted in the film has been refurbished out for the most part in the time that I have been here. Certainly, most London pubs have had the life stripped and sanded away, which is rather sad. The stench of booze and fags and nicotine stained ceilings are gone replaced by a new unsettling cleanliness.

The first flat I lived in, a one bed shared between 5 people,  had no heating so we slept in our jumpers (sweaters), with hats and gloves on and a gas heater which you had to switch off before falling asleep or die of CO poisoning. I was too busy looking for work to drink meths but it probably crossed my mind. The flat after that was an ever so slight improvement with 3 in a 1 bed above a kebab shop on the Caledonian Road. Our neighbors were a rastafarian downstairs whose smoke gave you a hit as you came up the stairs and whose dub bounced glasses off our coffee table, and an Irish coke head upstairs, who was a raving lunatic banging on our door yelling something about dole cheques. There was definitely something maddening about London then. And there was all the bomb alerts. London is cleaner and calmer and I am now lucky to know someone with a magic key to a magic cottage in the middle of nowhere (see banner photo). Free to those who can afford it…

Incidentally, after having been in love with Paul McGann since I devoured Monocled Mutineer when I was about 16, I did meet him a couple of times in the late 90s. Apparently he collects vintage linens. Never meet your idols. It’s just disappointing to realise they are just normal people.


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