Friday, October 03, 2003

Homage to the Blainster

"Yeah, the great man, the boy Blaine is over the bridge"

"Thanks very much". And with that I’m off across Tower Bridge accompanied by a whole raft of expectant gawperatti. Half way over and I see him, well not strictly true, I first see the crane, then the tiny, tiny bit of clear plastic dangling from it - and within that there appears to be a gently undulating bin bag lying on the bottom.

Closer still and the pushing and shoving intensifies, I’m over the bridge now and wending my way down the stairs towards the tatty bit of waste ground underneath the plastic box. The place is humming, and all manner of seedy low-life is here….

"Sprig of lavender dearie?…. Or how about one of these beautifully designed light-flashing necklaces?"
"Begone, ancient wizened old hag!" …..
Tyburn obviously doesn’t have a show today…

So here it is ….’Above the Below’ – so not too pretentious a title there then. Channel 4 have erected naff pvc banners all over the place – ‘David Blaine, Above the Below’

He is ‘above’ – and the ground, plebs, chancers, gawpy people and winos are all below. All below with cricks in our necks and wonder in our hearts that we are here in the presence of the great St Davieness. I feel blessed, anointed even, or is that just condensation or body fluids dribbling from the box joints above?

God, this place is tatty. I look around and there are lots of young dolly birds shouting "David, David, DAVID…. Give us a wave!"

The bin-bag clad shape in the box duly obliges.

"OOOOOOhhhhhhh, he waved at me!" One of the dolly’s squealed.

I queue to get into the compound directly underneath the box… everyone is getting searched by big, ugly, bulky, baldy blokes with ear-pieces. Well I can understand that, after all, Dave’s a Yank so he’ll have enemies all over the place. They’ll have to check that none are bringing in weapons and stuff. One of Dave’s crew approaches me. Christ, he’s massive.

"Looking for weapons?" I enquired as my hands shoot skywards. He doesn’t answer.

"Got any eggs, fresh, rotten, hard boiled or raw, golf balls, satsumas, tennis balls, sprouts, hamburgers or equivalent?"

"Err no, the only thing I have in my pocket is this"

"Best keep it there" he says. I readily agree.

Satisfied, the gate opens and I’m in. I gaze up to the egg-stained, food-spattered plastic box…….. and there he is – isn’t he? A podgy face peers out from the bag he is residing in. David is not in, but his fat, pie-loving, pizza-hugging twin brother is.

Geez, whatever they are putting in the water, it’s keeping old lardy arse up to his bouncing weight all right.

"Hi Dave, how are you doing, been anywhere interesting lately? Do you want a sweety? Are you keeping regular?"

He looked at me like I was the Prince of Titheads. "Miserable sod." I muttered. I circle the box and put on my most menacing countenance – like I’m from the magic fraud squad…. I’m looking for smoke and mirrors. Is he really in the box – or is it just a projected image? Is he actually in L.A. and eating a pie, The Big Apple and eating a pizza or sunning himself on a beach somewhere and eating a seafood banquet?

But what’s it all about, what’s the point of it all? World peace, saving the rain forests, inflating David Blaine’s ego, inflating David Blaine?………

Are there any loaves and fishes here – or do we have to get our own meals? Is Dave gesticulating to us telling everyone to go forth and multiply? Is he thinking outside the box – is the box an envelope? Is it a window on the World or a box of delights? Is Dave mad, bad, sad and pretentious to know?

Who knows …. who cares?

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Gullible Northerner vows never to ride the white knuckle experience that is Virgin Trains – again…..

Thick Northern punter, ‘Alfie the not too bright’ has definitely vowed never, ever, ever under any circumstances whatsoever to use the getting from A to B via "sorry for the delay" services of that crap carrier ‘Virgin Trains’…….

After his last train journey, the 4 hour late express to Glasgow 3 years ago, Alfie had resolved to put his iron horse tribulations behind him. In future he would travel by car, plane, donkey, pogo stick or shank’s rather than fall again for the Branston sorcery.

So when a meeting was arranged with the European Head of one of the largest financial institutions in the World for 11 am on Monday, in the City of London, the travelling options were carefully trolled through…….

"Right, I mustn’t be late - so the donkey is out. Car? I’ll be damned if I give sucker, money and endorsement to Mayor Ken. Pogo stick? – Too bouncy …. ‘Plane? - Christ, are you having a laugh, never heard of terrorism? So that leaves ‘The Train’ then…… Never mind, if I get the ‘crack of dawn’ express, I can easily be in the square mile by 9ish. That’ll leave 2 hours slack – should anything go wrong …….. easy"

6:45 am ….Make the train – just! Bloody hell, Alfie feels blessed! The iron-clad leviathan is kept waiting as ‘Alfie the corpulent’ struggles up the stairs to platform 5…. "Thank you God, and thank you Guard" Alfie, in his rather myopic, puppy trusting way thinks today is going to be a good day……..

Alfie stretches out in his seat, "Bloody hell, hardly any people on the train – Nice!" Smug snoozing interrupted by lack of train type ‘dee dum dee dum’ noise activity……….. Mushroom syndrome kicks in.

Eventually, ‘Ian’ the on board travel manager tells us that the air brakes have lost all their air. We have no brakes.

7.15 am - Ian says the engineer is coming from Crewe.

7.25 am – Ian says the engineer isn’t coming – but that he and the Guard are going to get the engine from the back of the train and put it to the front. Ian says it will take 10 minutes.

7.52 am – Ian says "Bugger that, we’ll wait for the engineer"

8.08 am – Ian says the engineer isn’t coming "The engineer isn’t coming" he says.

8.10 am – Ian says a towing engine is coming from Crewe, to take us to Crewe, so we could get another train - from Crewe.

8.14 am – Alfie wonders were the nearest donkey depot is.

8.30 am – Ian tells us the towing engine is definitely on its way, "Almost definitely …… probably"

8.40 am - Alfie says "Fucking Hell I’m going to kill someone" as he watches his business / career / sanity go down Ian’s ‘out of order’ Virginal bog.

8.50 am – Towing engine pulls us the 1k to Crewe at 10 miles per hour. Ian issues his 53rd apology.

8.52 am – Ian issues his 54th apology "I’m very, very very sorry" He says.

8.53 am – Alfie’s knuckles reach the colour dynamic of Dulux Ultra Brilliant White.

9.00 am – Ian says that there is a train due in for London any minute on platform 1. "Yes, the train from Liverpool is due in 2 minutes, on platform 1"

9.01 am – Train stops on platform 8 at Crewe. Passengers pile out and struggle upstairs, heading for platform 1.

9.05 am – Alfie struggles with luggage past platform 5 and a rather good looking stationary imitation of a train bound for the smoke.

9.07 am – Huddled masses arrive at platform 1.

9.08 am – No show on the train front. Railway announcement "Theghgh traihgn on pletfrghm fife is theghgh 9.09 am to Loughgndod Eustoghn.

9.09 am – Wheezing throng, including Alfie arrive on platform 5 to get London train - just….. Ian keeps a very low profile.

9.10 am – Alfie and fellow passengers dig pretend sleeping, spread out students and fat arsed businessmen in ribs to pick up bags, coats, butties to let us sit down. Train is as full as an over full train.

9.30 am – Leave Rugeley station – Alfie reckons he should be in London by just past 11.

9.33 am – All stop. ‘Alan’ – the on board travel manager apologises. "Signal failure just in front of us"

9,34 am – Alan says we are going to have to reverse and get on the slow line – to get past the fault.

9.35 – Alfie spends post nervous breakdown time gazing through the glazing at a bull and his harem copulating like rabbits.

9.38 am – Rugeley Station revisited. Alan says he is sorry
"We are very sorry for the delay"

9.40 am – Alfie foams at mouth.

9.41 am – Alfie has to relieve himself, gets up and searches for a toilet. Train crawls out of Rugeley.

9.50 am - Toilet located, Alfie starts to relieve himself down bowl. Unbeknown to him, the train is about to jerkily relocate back onto the fast track to London. Alfie widdles all the way down his light olive green mix wool trousers.

9.55 am - Having used up all the available paper towels, Alfie limps back to seat.

10 00 am – Alan is done apologising. Alan is now triumphant. "The train will arrive at Euston at 11.20 am – and you had better believe it baby!!"

Just time for Alfie to wrack tattered embolic brain cells for the mother of all excuses to tell head financial honcho …….

Tomorrow – Alfie meets David Blaine, and sets a new World record for the most one sided conversation ever. (Well, I didn’t feel like talking to him).