I was fortunate to meet a very good Kiwi writer in London yesterday, Paul Ewen, whose Dad used to live in Runanga where I worked as postie for six years in the 1980s – and delivered his parent’s mail in Ballance Street. He gave me a copy of his excellent satiric skits, London Pub Reviews – fiction, but better than the real thing – do seek it out.
After reading a few of Paul’s re-imagined pub crawls in the Tube today on the way out to Mortlake cemetery, I felt I should respond in kind. As a recovering alkie, I found them a very cheap way to experience the effects of inebriation without partaking, and as such, I feel they could very easily become the answer to getting bladdered.
The insouciant effect of reading his adventures as a Real Ale Flaneur in Pub Wonderland soon had me seeing things on the Underground that may or may not have been there. A woman with fishnet stockings who expertly applied makeup and then rolled a fag, before alighting at South Kensington could well have been Medusa’s sister. When I observed shortly thereafter that one of the seats opposite was all but breathing as the covering swelled and died, I knew something was up.
The seat cover looked like a dying bouncy castle and reminded me that my heart was beating similarly, that there was a part of me indeed that would one day just stop and I would shut down, just like the District and Circle Line this morning, forcing me to take the 209 bus from Hammersmith.
It was a reminder that rogue elements in the body politic – something like the Tea Party in US affairs today – can cripple the entire system for no better reason than the fact they just can. You can see what soporific magic his words worked in me, and if I don’t stop, I’ll never get out of this studio flat and down to Waitrose. We are leaving town tomorrow and I have to pack.
Suffice to say, he has a rare talent: they are very funny tales, so don’t stop now, Paul. Just thinking about them set off a memory of the woman who interrupted me at the Sexton’s Office at Mortlake as I was getting details of my Grandad’s grave . She burst in and launched into a vicious attack on the helpful staff, Dan and Shirley – something about dirty loos. Goodness. I have found British dunny’s impeccable for the most part.
The Polish bus.
It was almost as strange as my taking the helpful Polish bus driver on the 209 for a Muslim – after he kindly went out of his way to drive me from the bus station where his run finished, while on his tea break what’s more. And all this, simply because I showed him my A-Z, and asked how I could get to Mortlake Cemetery from where we were. He hardly batted an eyelid when I mistook him for a follower of Muhammed.
He was close to a saint in my eyes and it just goes to show that some people smell the shit and others smell the roses. You can find Paul on www.myspace.com/shoeswithrockets . Where you can find my Polish saviour I have no idea, but there were a number of excellent Polish graves in Mortlake Cemetery with some stunning images of the crucified Christ. I think Brits need to stop knocking the Poles, period.
Marking my Grandad Holman’s grave at Mortlake.