Thursday, 23 September 2010

I think I'm coming down with the boogaloo flu

The ringtone (Ride Of The Valkyries) of my mobile telephone woke me at just past eleven (in the morning). I fingered phone. Tom was at the other end. I knew this because my eye spotted ‘Pink Tom calling’ on the telephone’s screen.

Pink Tom remained half friend/half enemy.

“Knock, knock,” he said.

“Who’s there?” I sighed.

“I done a Puh,” replied Tom.

“I done a Puh who?”

Tom shrieked down the telephone.

“You’ve done a poo!” he called.

I ended the call and laid back on bed.

Seconds passed; my phone rang once more. Tom spoke.

“What you doing tonight? Fancy free drink? Money? I have a preposition for you.”

The mist of sleep vaporized.

“Proposition,” I corrected. “Carry on.”

Pink Tom told on. I stroked my bandage. He was hosting a party. Tom, you see, was a part-time party organiser. Media companies (PR people, that sort of thing) would call him up, quote a budget, name a date and pay him to hire a function room. Tonight, he was to hold a party for ‘Nil by Mouth’, the acclaimed theatrical company. His problem, he said, was that the DJ he’d booked had pulled out because of gastroenteritis. And the reserve DJ had torn a ligament through excessive scratching. He remembered that I’d Deejayed at my 25th birthday party to much critical praise. He wondered if I could help him out.
I admitted that my 25th birthday party had been a triumph.

It’ll be a great place for networking, said Tom.

Pink Tom offered free drinks and fifty quid. I would spin the decks from 2100 to 0100 (when the event ended).

I agreed to do it. The fifty pound would keep me in claret for another week.

The rest of the day was wasted watching TV and wondering whether to remove eye bandage. During the tedium, I even picked up a book. The afternoon’s highpoint was receiving an email from Quiz Call, inviting me to audition. It was to be held at a venue on the Southbank (you know, opposite Parliament, with the wheel). Reader, I was unsure whether to attend. The CV I sent was even more full of lies than these here words. I rubbed my bandage and pondered.

By the time I left for East London, the dressing remained over my eye. I was a good boy.

Pink Tom had hired out an entire bar. And the bar was Legion, Shoreditch. Shoreditch is a gentrified part of East London. Gone are the squat houses and squalor to be replaced by fusion cuisine and pretention. Reader, I would go to Legion. They sell San Miguel on draft and (on a normal evening) the music is pleasant.
I arrived, as Tom asked, at 2000 hours. The place was yet to open and there were half a dozen white-bloused servants scuttling around, tying up balloons and emptying ashtrays from a day’s worth of custom. The venue reminded me of a bierkeller – it was long, brown, full of benches and built of brick. Green lighting made it seem green. Three-quarters of the left wall was bar. Opposite this stood a thin stage. Placed on this platform was a wooden trestle table. Two turntables and some black wirey boxes rested on top. This was to be my music station.

The evening was … problematic.

Let me structure this section of narrative by presenting, in turn, the problems I encountered:

No Music

Is this the greatest problem a DJ could face? I think so. Pink Tom was mincing about the interior, checking tills and hassling waitresses, when I entered the venue. The second he saw me (which was the second I entered), he rushed over (clipboard tightly gripped) and yelled ‘Where are your fucking records, Bluebeard?’. I told him that I didn’t know to bring any. He laughed a laugh stained with hysteria and said ‘You’re fucking joking, right? Tell me you’re fucking joking’. I told him that I wasn’t ‘fucking joking’ and that he should have told me on the ‘phone that I needed records.

He thrust the clipboard to my chest. I held it loosely. He shoved one arm into camo-trouser pocket. This arm sported bands from wrist to elbow. They spanned the spectrum of colour. His hand brought out a wallet that looked as if it had been made solely from gaffer tape. He took a credit card from this wallet and held it before me.

“Take this. Get £100 worth of decent CD’s from HMV – it’s around the corner. Get compilations.

Indie/dancey stuff. Don’t fuck it up, Kay. Indie or dance. Ok? Indie or dance. The pin’s 0345.” I nodded and handed back the clipboard. “Kay. After this, you’ll have to be stunning for that £50.”

“There’s still free drinks, right?” I asked.

But Pink Tom shook his head, turned away, and whined at a ginger waitress about canap├ęs.

Walking to HMV (in the rain, Reader, in the rain), I wondered whether I shouldn’t use the credit card to buy myself fags and booze, before returning home. Pink Tom had spoken to me in a harsh tone. And he hadn’t earlier told me that I needed music. It was me, Kay, doing him a favour, for fuck’s sake.

I was doing him a favour.

I didn’t buy cigarettes and alcohol. I bought £97 worth of Ministry of Sound/bland indie shit. I also bought a ‘Best of Disco’ compilation because everyone dances to Disco.


Lucy was assistant to the assistant director of Nil by Mouth and she didn’t dance, she attacked air. Between 2130 and 2230 she also talked at me. Initially, I was willing to suffer her company, for she seemed happy to deliver my free alcohol.  Pink Tom had tricked me, you see. I was permitted free alcohol, but I wasn’t allowed to leave the DJ table. I imagine he felt immense satisfaction at this - my personal Catch 22. Tom stated that there was no way that I’d be paid if he saw me leave my post. He’s a devious bastard, but he hadn’t reckoned with Lucy. And she brought me many a beer.

At 2215, I began to tire of Lucy’s company. She didn’t have much of interest to say and didn’t know anyone in the theatrical company with influence. During these three quarters of an hour, she wasn’t approached by any other party-goers. This suggested that she wasn’t a popular member of the company. And she never mentioned my eye bandage.

“They all went to college. I didn’t go to college. I didn’t see the point in getting in all that debt,” she shouted into my ear and I could only nod.

At 2230, I told her to ‘fuck off’.

I had been intimating that I wanted her to leave for ten minutes before the ‘fuck off’. As much as I repeated ‘Anyway, better get on’ and ‘It was nice to meet you’ and ‘I’ve got a girlfriend’, she refused to understand that she was persona non grata.

“Well … I’ve got a boyfriend,” she said and winked.

Frustration grew to anger and at 2230, I told Lucy to ‘fuck off’.

Her face crumpled as if her very bones had crumbled. But ‘fuck off’ she did. I played Sister Sledge and the crowd went mental.

At 2236 Tom appeared in the booth and told me not to tell punters to ‘fuck off’. I told him to ‘fuck off’. He told me to play less Disco. I told him to ‘fuck off’.

Getting Drunk

Drinking was a fair and natural reaction to Tom’s officious and offensive behaviour. I was already fairly tipsy after eight pints of San Miguel. There was a waiter named Pete that smiled at me with hungry eyes and I managed to convince him to bring vodka on a number of occasions post-Lucy.

The drink didn’t adversely affect my ability to DJ. I’d say it definitely improved it. Some club DJ’s ingest handfuls of E’s during their sets. I didn’t take any ecstasy. I did play ‘Fuck da Police’ and the dancefloor emptied and Pink Tom came and changed CDs (mid-track) himself, but minutes fell away and the partygoers danced and three praised my spinning skills. Pink Tom smiled at me across the room on one occasion.

Skipping CDs

During ‘Jump Around’ by House of Pain, I was forced to make a request, through microphone, that people didn’t jump too heavily. The reverberation of eighty pounding feet caused the CD to skip.

Lucy’s boyfriend
The nadir of my evening was also its conclusion. During the full version of ‘Love to Love You, Baby’ by Donna Summer, I sensed a presence over my left shoulder. I assumed it was Tom checking up, so ignored it for a full four minutes.

It wasn’t Pink Tom.

“Oy! Cyclops! Did you feel up my bird?” said a big man when, eventually, I turned around.

The guy was large. He wasn’t just barrel-chested – more brewery-bicepped. My head reached his nipples. His T-shirt was tight and black and voluminous.

“What was her name?” I asked.

His fist flew and in an instant I was on the floor, right (and unbandaged) eye booming with pain.

Reader, he’d punched me.

“And don’t you ever come near my Lucy again,” he said, looming, fists clenched.

Donna Summer continued to play as I sank into unconsciousness. My last memory was of Lucy’s smug face gurning in the firmament.

Tom refused to pay me. He claimed the alcohol “I stole” amounted to over £100. The theatrical company for whom he’d organised the evening demanded a deduction because of ‘the wildly indecorous DJ’. Tom reported that they complained about the amount of disco played. I didn’t believe this – the punters danced all night as if their shoes were alight. 


Kimberly Kinrade said...

Thank you for saving me from the tedium of trite twitter tweets with your (as always of course) entertaining prose and humor.

H.J. Hancock said...

I think I was there. What were you wearing?