Love Eventually



I can't believe there is a human on this earth whose heart doesn't start beating in double-time as they walk through the doors into an arrivals lounge of an airport, clinging to the hope that someone might be there waiting for them. Even if not a soul on the planet has any way of knowing you're even on the flight, there is a part of you that still holds out hope the love of your life might be standing there expectantly with open arms. I'm basically alluding to chicks, but family i suppose would do. Besides, if you're a parent the love of your life basically is your kids. Either way there are worse places to be than an arrivals lounge at an airport. There's a lot of goodness and happiness and beautiful human emotion at play.


When's the last time you watched Love Actually. The end credits are a montage of these exact moments.






So with this in mind, off went my alarm at 4.30am, and as the sun rose reluctantly to thaw an especially butt-cold morning of spring, i roused myself from slumber and picked my way through empty streets and across London to Paddington. After six months in Argentina, my old man was returning to his adopted country. His flight was landing at Heathrow's Terminal 5 at 6.25am and a strong pang of filial duty was going to have me there, a smiling face in an indifferent crowd, awaiting with open arms. So we too could share in a Love Actually moment.


I had money on the fact that this show of filial devotion was gonna make my old man's year. I did some maths and figured that a 6.25am landing time, factoring in passports and baggage-reclaim and all that stuff, meant i could confidently take my place at the barrier around 7am. I arrived at three minutes to seven precisely.



The place seemed strangely deserted. 







So i waited.



And as i waited, all around me i saw beautiful scenes emerging. People reunited with their loved ones. All colours and creeds, of all ages, locked in passionate embraces, happy to be together again. All of a sudden life became so simple. Love was the starring role. Three generations of an indian family in a rugby-scrum of affection. A mother back from some exotic land being smothered, literally throttled, by her two young daughters, as their father looked on smiling sleepily. A woman bounding up to her ageing father, of such beauty, that in the blinking of an eye i'd imagined our life together and was thinking up subjects with which to seduce my new father-in-law the moment she introduced us.



But no sign of pops.






The information board told me his plane had landed slightly earlier, at 6.17am. And as the second hand ticked on, i furrowed my brow and attempted some more maths. It was nearing 7.30am, over an hour since he landed. But T5 is massive, i thought, and with respect my old man is no Usain Bolt, not after two hip operations and six months of fine argentine cuisine. Something must've been holding him up.



Something, or someone.



I did some more thinking. He hates other people, he hates flying, he loathes airports, odds-on he'd be marching through passport control with a scowl of unabated black-thunder etched onto his face. Marry that with his insistence on wearing dark glasses and a panama hat at all times, his not-unnoticeable latin-infused english accent, and he'd comfortably take his place on any FBI's most-wanted list. I mean, of course he got stopped.


I then smiled at the thought that even if he was packing 23 kilos of uncut columbian, stopping papa on the back end of a 14 hour flight, in his least-favourite environment, having just touched down in a country he doesn't even want to be in, with the moods he's capable of mustering, and the scenes he's capable of making, it was resoundingly in Customs' best-interests to leave that man alone.



On i waited. 



I took some dope selfies.



I did some more maths. 



It was now past 8am, and still T5 remained papa-less.



I wondered if he'd even got on the plane.






It was when fifteen rowdy Hasidic Jews came through the double-doors barking yiddish, and looking up i saw a flight from Tel-Aviv that had landed over an hour after the one from Buenos Aires, that by now no longer even featured on the information board, that i admitted defeat. My watch read 8.17am.






If my old man had spent two hours in between landing and arrivals and was only coming through now, he'd most likely be absolutely livid. And i'd be damned if i was going to wait around for that shit-storm. I shrugged my shoulders and thought of that line from Alien, in space no-one can hear you scream, and how it had no relevance whatsoever to the present moment.



So i lensed a final selfie, as proof of my heroic odyssey, and bailed.






Sitting there on the train rolling back into central London, i thought about plane travel, and how although our horizons would obviously be much narrower without it, maybe this ability to fly all over the earth wasn't necessarily that healthy. That planes had fucked shit up in some way. The slickness of T5 had definitely fucked my shit up, i remember a time when getting from the cabin-doors to the arrivals lounge was the work of two hours, easy. Now an irate Argentine nursing a couple of titanium balls for hips can motor through in under 30 minutes.



It made me sad.






Because at the end of it all, life is made up of moments. And the heightened emotions attached to these moments. The time you first set eyes on the love of your life. Your first dinger. Your child's first steps. To a lesser extent, the time your son comes to meet you at the airport unexpectedly at 7am on the morning of some idle Thursday, and you ride into town together in a cab and shoot the breeze. The precise moments i saw unfolding between strangers as i waited for my old man to wheel his trolley through the double-doors. But he never did. Nevertheless, being a witness to these moments and their warmth was plenishment for the soul. It was a reminder that the really truly important things in life aren't that many in number. There's really just one of them.



The old L word.



It was a reminder to go and put the old L word into practice.



And hurry up doing it.









Sundaze


Yesterday was Easter Sunday. As far as how to pass the day in question, i lay somewhere in a No Man's Land between spending the day in church and flatlining on Dairy Milk. My Catholic Guilt has been dimmed of late, and i chose to spend the morning cycling around north London. It was a spring morning of piercing sunshine, the city was empty, the few people in the street strolled at half-pace and clocked each other in solidarity, as if we were the chosen guardians of our capital. A good morning to be alive.






Either to cultivate an allure of mystery or perhaps as a coping mechanism to avoid rejection, i've trained myself to be pretty self-sufficient in my own company. So it was strange to me that after a couple of hours of cycling around like this, i got a physical urge to be with someone. This could have been something to do with the day. Like Christmas, Easter is a time for being together. And on days characterised by their togetherness, those on the fringes are rightly so even more lonely than normal.


As late morning morphed into pre-lunch the streets got busier, the demographic became by-turn tourists in large groups or couples pulled lazily along by gently-swinging arms and interlinking fingers. And those on their own became more conspicuous by their aloneness. As i wheeled my bike through Covent Garden faintly beating the drum of my own self-containment, it dawned on me that this feeling of loneliness couldn't so well be explained by the date in question, so much as the day.



This wasn't an Easter thing, but a Sunday thing.






I came to a realisation. Sundays are the Holy Grail of a good life. If you're living your Sundays well, you're doing something right. If you wake up on Sunday morning with a childlike excitement as to what you're going to do that day, you're doing something right. If you manage to bed down on Sunday night with just enough satisfaction about the day you've had to distract you from the abyss of the coming week, you're doing something right. Apply both of these feelings to life in general, and you realise Sundays are a microcosm of life itself.


Whatever is going on in your week, more often than not Sunday is a day you mark off to indulge in you. In a time when so many people can't wait to get to the back-end of friday, the early part of the weekend seems to be made up of letting off the requisite steam. And so Sunday becomes the only day when we calmly get to do some actual living. The day for doing the things we love, that we never get the time to do otherwise. There can't be a feeling quite as dank in life as nearing the end of a squandered Sunday. Sunday is the day for loving the shit out of ourselves.


If you're spending your Sundays recovering from a need to forget the shittiness of life by getting royally screwed up most weekends, odds-on you're compensating for something. Sundays don't need to smash it the night before. Sundays dig the fresh continental-breakfast vibe. Sundays crack open the papers with the intention of not missing a single page. They read an article to the end they're not even interested in. That's how much Sundays love themselves.







The thing about Sundays is that they don't need highs. They've seen enough of life to know that contentment isn't a high, but a longterm removal of lows. Not an endless excitement so much as the skill of minimising the list of things that are worrying you.


My Sunday started well but petered out. I ended up getting tired and going home around 4pm, then i rookily got myself involved in a youtube marathon which lasted til around 6pm. I roused myself, went for a walk to tescos, came back and fell asleep listening to the radio without having supper. I woke up around 11pm fully clothed and disorientated, ate some cheese and an apple and went to bed. It wasn't quite the Sunday i'd been holding out for. 



*



Some old Greek guy once said eating and drinking alone is the life of a lion or a wolf. 



I don't totally agree with him, but i think what he was alluding to was that all-in-all, humans are better off doing things together. And wheeling my bike alone through the city on that morning of piercing sunshine, breathing in the expectation the air is so thick with on sunny-days of springtime, i realised that i'd prefer to be doing whatever i might be doing, with someone. And this is what Sundays serve up on a plate so perfectly. The opportunity to kick back and do whatever it is you truly love doing, and indulge in it in someone else's company.


Not wanting to be anywhere else, doing anything else, with anyone else. So if we haven't already, we need to find a person we'd like to spend our Sundays with, and start spending our motherfucking Sundays with them.



Boneshaker



Last year my mate Wilma and i took on the world's toughest endurance mountain bike race. We came back changed men, and life has been a series of fog-enveloped snatched memories ever since.



Boneshaker magazine published my account of what went down, which came out yesterday.











It's an incredible magazine full of great bike stories, so it's a real privilege to be in there.



If you zoom in enough you might be able to read the article from my snaps, otherwise you can buy it online in print here, or in digital format here. They also sell it in Foyles and Stanfords and artsy bookstores, and loads of sweet bike shops. 



Best get down there quick though, i think my mum just bagged 500 copies. 



Are We There Yet



Scorsese ain't no fool. 






On top of a score of some of the best gangsta films since forever, he also made a couple of music documentaries, one about the Stones, and the other one about Dylan called No Direction Home.



It was on bbc4 last friday, all three and a half hours of it.






I've now watched it twice in the last week. 



It's still on iplayer but for not very long, you can find it here.






Best things about it were:



1. Dylan.


2. The advent of folk music and the cultural a-bomb exploding out of Greenwich village in the 60s.


3. Allen Ginsberg the beat poet saying that when he first heard Hard Rain, he cried.


4. Footage of crowds everywhere booing Dylan and shouting Judas! at their idol, when he decided to go electric and perform with a 3-piece band, instead of doing his classic solo with acoustic guitar and harmonica act.


5. Dylan being told someone was about to shoot him, because of this.


6. The general feeling that this man was one of the most important things that happened in the 20th century. That he wasn't human. That he was only a portal, for something far bigger beyond our understanding. Someone upstairs chose him to be the messenger. As one of his friends said, 'Look... i like to give credit where credit's due, but Dylan don't deserve none. You know when they say 'the hand of the Almighty reaches down and taps you on the shoulder and all that, well the Almighty kicked him in the goddamn arse. You only need to look at him to see there's something of the holy spirit in him'.



My favourite bit was when Dylan looks into the camera and says...







And then he added...



If you can understand this, you're gonna be alright, i think.



I suppose what he was saying was that every single thing that happens to us, every little detail, be it good or bad, all elation or tragedy or fear or love or lack of it, even sitting in your Y-fronts alone as the rain thrashes against the window thinking you can't go on while you calculate how many days and hours and minutes until the first robin of spring appears and bounces gingerly from one shivering branch to the next and says yo whaddup i'm back again, even when you're not doing anything you're still somehow doing something. Each one of these moments is integral to your state of becoming


They are all ingredients that make up the dish. The dish never gets cooked, it is one long drawn-out session in the kitchen that lasts a lifetime. Important thing is to keep adding ingredients. At times it tastes awful, at times it'll be some michelin-starred shit. But we're never there. We're always becoming. 






Paterson



Came to the conclusion recently that when people palm films off saying 'literally nothing happens', then those are my favourite types of films. Someone said that to me recently about The Revenant, while i thought it was one of the heaviest films i'd seen in ages. Same goes for American Honey, which you might say plot-wise was a bit thin, just a bunch of kids road-tripping through america, but the study of characters within it is incredible. You might not get some angry 16ft green guy breaking his fists through a brick wall, just a close-up of a face staring out of a car window. On paper nothing is happening, but you could also say everything is happening. 






I saw a film called Paterson last week. It was great.




Nothing happens.








It's about a guy called Paterson, who lives in a town called Paterson, through which he drives a local bus, and observes all the life around him and writes poems in a notebook which he always keeps by his side. He has a slightly annoying artsy girlfriend who to her credit is always telling him how good his poems are, and persuading him to make copies of them and send them off to publishers. Which he says he will but never gets round to. Most of the film is made up of him, staring into space, writing these poems in his notebook. 



She has a bulldog which he hates, that he takes for walks every evening.



One day they go out to dinner, and come back to the house and his notebook has been ripped into a thousand tiny pieces by the bulldog. All his poems, gone. Months and months of poems, years probably, chewed to pieces by the mandibles of some idiot dog.






Paterson being Paterson takes it pretty chill on the surface, doesn't say much at all, rides it out. But you can tell it has screwed him. He goes to work the next day, does his shift, impassively, trying to digest the loss, but not being able to. He just looks confused. The next day after work, he goes and sits down on a bench looking out onto his favourite scene, a waterfall by a railway bridge. The place where he'd normally get his book out and write. But this time he just sits. And looks.






After a bit, this random japanese guy comes up and sits down next to him. He's on a pilgrimage from japan to the birthplace of William Carlos Williams, the famous poet born in Paterson who wrote that well-known i have eaten the plums that were in the icebox poem. They get into a stilted conversation. 






The japanese guy asks him if he knows William Carlos Williams personally. 



Paterson smiles and says no. The japanese guy explains that he himself is a poet.



Then the japanese guy asks him if perhaps he, Paterson, is a poet. 






Paterson looks into the middle distance, and after a long pause, says no.



Just a bus driver, he says.



The japanese man nods. Then he gets up. As he walks off, he turns and reaches into his bag and gets something out. 'In japan we have a proverb, with every blank page, an opportunity' he says. And hands him this beautifully bound japanese notebook. You see Paterson opening it, and carefully leafing through the crisp empty pages. He looks up again and the japanese man is gone.



He sits there, thinking. Then after a bit, you see him feel around in his pocket for a pen, which is there where he last left it. He gets it out, looks at the notebook, and after an age, he looks up, into the air, furrows his brow, and begins to write the words of a new poem. It's pretty much the last scene in the film.



*



Somehow that last scene in the blinking of 12 seconds succeeded in giving sense to the whole two hours. And in a way i can't explain, it hit me for six to the point where i only eventually came to, well after the credits had rolled and the lights had come up and the guy in the cap with the bin-liner had been prodding me for over a minute, slumped horizontal in row C with a blood-curdling gurn branded across my face. The film affected me.



Nothing i write will give you the full impact of watching it, but for me it was like a parable, a very subtle way of saying... life goes on. Which is handsdown one of the most awful lines in the english language, considering the context in which it is ever brought up. Bleugh. It's awful. And in films and music and such it is a well-trodden theme. But the way in which Jim Jarmusch the director, dealt with it, through this story of a guy losing all his poems, all the meaning he gave to life, and then chance coming straight out of left-field, bringing with it a new dawn, and him having a little think, and starting over, and writing the first line of a new poem. It was phat.



All those hundreds of poems trashed, and mourned and put to bed.




And then starting again from scratch.




What other choice do you have.







The idea that what matters only is going forward



What you make, from now.




*



From now.



Alive



The most disappointed i've ever been at a gig was when i saw Tracey Chapman one night in Edinburgh, 2002, back when i was keeping shit debatably real at university. Her voice was incredible, completely pitch-perfect, but the reason it wasn't good at all, was because it was too good. It literally sounded like she'd hit play on some cd-deck and rolled metronomically through the whole album. There was no diversion from any of the recorded tracks whatsoever.







And that's what's phat about seeing live acts, when they do off-the-cuff unique shit that only the people at that particular gig ever get to see. So you can get all music-snob about it and be like... fam talk to the hand, not like you were at Brixton in '13 when Young Fathers got meta and came back for that 28-minute encore and shit got weird.



My favourite 3 live performances are:




Kimbra - Withdraw




Just watch it, she is a weirdo and ridiculous.








*



Al Green - Simply Beautiful



Funny thing about this is, after multiple viewings, one still can't be sure if The Reverend is singing about chicks or proclaiming his enthusiasm for the Good Lord. Notwithstanding i defy you to watch this video and not feel slightly aroused. One thing for certain, following acute forensic analysis, that sound on 3:28 has been affirmed to be the sound of 63 virgins being simultaneously deflowered.


ps notice when he gets especially excited, how far away he has to get from his guitar (3:35)




And just generally his eyebrows.



nb Don Julio el Putacelli who first introduced me to this tune also informed me of the caveat that there is no melody on the face of this earth more capable of coaxing fair damsels into the confines of the bedchamber. Check him out. Motherfucker knows what the diablo he's talking about.



video




VoilĂ .









K'Naan & Mos Def - My God



K'Naan is a Somalian rapper who used to be proper ghetto. He still is, he just does much cheesier shit now. Watch it cos it's phat, Mos Def's freestyle on 2:11 is so heavy. But the best bit is from 3:20. K'Naan stops the beat and goes a cappella and talks about growing up as a child soldier in Mogadishu and it's spine-tingling.






*



Bonus:



Camille, on french tv, she's nuts and incredible and uses that machine that copies shit and sounds great.