Louise, Alex’s girlfriend, takes us to station as everyone else is long gone. Goodness knows how they got up! We train up, and head home, then I pop to the Royal Free for travel booster jabs (gulp). It takes forever, through bad buses and having to wait at the hospital, so by the time I’m done, Pippi is already waiting for us at Paddington and our train to Oxford is about to leave. She’s researched the trains, and apparently you can’t use the cheaper tickets during evening rush hour, unlike the trains down to Whitstable. Moneygrabbing sods!
So by the time we get there, we are about to miss the 4:22, but as it’s a few minutes late we just make it (recurring theme!). However, our cheap day return tickets that the machine sold us are apparently not valid. Luckily as it was jammed and late, no one checked tickets, so we made it to Oxford and out the barriers several pounds richer!
Will was coming from Reading, but Sandy works near the station, so we were to meet her first.
No contact though, so we found the pub in their home street, the Kite, and settled in to wait.
Finally they turn up, and we go together to a Chinese restaurant round the corner, which apparently they frequent. We’re told not to be embarrassing, but we did have to wait a bit, and I’ve sampled a few specimens of Greene King IPA.
Anyway, Sandychan orders, and the food is good. They also introduce us to a revolutionary idea which I’ve never come across before… Peking Lamb! Who would have thought? Same format, but instead of duck.. lamb! Got you thinking about where this could lead?! Anyway, it’s all delicious, and is rounded off by a visit to a nice but small pub, The Honey Pot, afterwards, with Timothy Taylor’s Landlord on tap. We ask the barman whether Timothy Taylor have any other beers, but he doesn’t know, he doesn’t drink ale, only lager. I choke on my pint.
We head back to London on one of the last trains.
Monkey Swallows the Universe
In the morning, we meet Pippi at Selfridges, and I offload Thuzar to do some shopping,
whilst I have other stuff to do, including some wrangling with the Inland Revenue to try to get tax back from last year (oh yes they took it off me so readily, but giving it back, ooh they hadn’t noticed that they owe me a load of cash!). I also pick up a copy of Rum Doodle, always good to have in the pack when travelling. Like a copy of Dambusters on DVD as (I think) Nicholas Soames says!
Next over to the Old Tea Warehouse to attempt to meet up with the COLTies again. I’m there bang on time at 5pm, and sit and wait. No one shows up. I sip my pint. Hmmm. Eventually Stu and Al turn up, then Leggo! Hurrah! So good to see you all.
Next a dash across to Tottenham Court Road and into Soho to meet first Dad and Hedge at Carlyle Pub, then Pippi, her friend Rachel, and Thuzar turn up too and we head into Nandos across the road for some food before the gig. Of course, I cannot help but cane the Extra Hot sauce, something which I invariably regret later. It’s an experience, geddit?! We’re not sure the band order tonight, so finish food quickly and get to Madam Jojos at about a quarter past eight.
Madam Jojos, according to Bill a well-known transvestite hang-out (how does Bill..?!), is right underneath the old Raymond Revue building in the basement. We get drinks at the bar, then wait as the stage is being set up and a DJ plays in the corner. I notice a couple of girls sitting across from us with CDs etc.. they look familiar. I whip out my copy of The Casket Letters and try to compare. Yep, I think it’s them… so I wander over and do the embarrassing “Are you in the band?!”. Yep, it’s them!
We chat for a bit, and I introduce Thuzar to them. Oh right, says the lead singer, I’m from Birmingham too. No no, Burma. Ahh! Anyway, they’re really nice, and sign all of our CDs, including the copies we pick up there (I grab another copy of their old album, as goodness knows when I’ll get my hands on mine in the attic of No.9). The other bands start up – first Ken and Kerr?, then some terrible Scottish idiot who clearly thought he was being different and funny, but in reality was just annoying everyone with his shouting and ridiculous costume.
MSTU are about to start so I head down underneath the stage to be closer to the action. They remark that it’s the highest stage they’ve ever been on, before kicking off and playing through a couple of teething problems, feedback etc, with the lead singing girl giving up laughing only a couple of times! They seem to work their way through all the tunes I like the best, but as I only picked up the new album a couple of days ago, I have to resort to saying things like “Oooh this one’s great, it’s track 6” to Pippi.
Dad and Hedge are still at the back, and when we head back we realise what they’re missing out on – for some reason the sound is not playing out of the speakers at back, somewhat irritating as all the crap bands earlier were all piped out at alarming volumes, and by now the whole joint is filling up with people who are not very interested in the music - perhaps the club night after.
MSTU wind up to lots of applause and we head out. Dad and Hedge will be on the 00:05 train, which, it turns out, is a bus for half the journey. Nightmare. Thuzar and I pop into the 24hrs Burger King for tourism purposes.