Brick Lane (2004-05-09 - 7:04 p.m.)
Been posting a lot lately, but just had to today. We were meant to go out last night but Tom ditched out (due to ex-girlfriend issues) and then Francis and Rob ditched out as well, leaving me as the only one who still wanted to go somewhere. I wasn't going to brave the London nightlife on my own, so I stayed as well... but it was kind of frustrating. So I woke up grouchily today and even more grouchily noted that the sky was the same grey as the buildings, which was the same grey as the pavement. Not a nice sort of day.
Still, I decided to go see what was going on in the Old Spitalfields Market, the cool one I found last week. I got as far as Brick Lane (just down the road from me) and discovered a huge crush of random people. I ducked into a little vintage store to check it out and when I came out, I saw that there was a guy playing on an old piano - this great sort of boogie-woogie & bluesy stuff. Both the piano and the man looked like they'd seen better days. So I asked him how he got a piano on a street corner, and that's how I met Big John Carter.
Big John was busking without a license, but the Met Police that were wandering by certainly didn't care. He is a burly old guy with no front teeth (all four were missing) and tattoos all up and down his arms. He's been playing the piano since he was eleven and now gives lessons and plays the occasional gig. And sometimes hauls his piano out of the bar on the corner and busks! To me, Big John looked exactly like Tom Waits sounds - like he's had quite a life of it. And his piano looked as beat up as he was. It was pretty fascinating talking to him.
Big John told me to go down the street just up and check out the fair that was going on. I had no idea there was a fair, but I went to check it out. Turns out it's Bangladeshi New Year. It was a fair, all right - carnival games, carnival rides, stages, food booths... And just packed with people, most wearing gorgeous saris in all different brilliant shades.
I was watching the big screen next to the booth where they were handing out free SoBe drinks when a cute Aussie guy called me over and asked me if I wanted a free SoBe. Ended up hanging out with him for part of the day. His job is driving around in a big SoBe van to concerts and festivals all over the UK and handing out free drinks... not so bad! And of course I was very pleased. Normally no one in London will talk to me. Today, everyone did. It was well worth getting out of bed for. I even got to go up on the top of the van (where there's a little deck) to look at the crowd from above. It was a sea of colour.
I did eventually make it down to Spitalfields, where I (finally) found a present for my friend Michael (can't say what though!). Got in trouble from the guy at the stall for sending it a week late. oops. Also got accosted by someone handing out fliers. "End government imperialism!" he was saying as he thrust them into peoples' hands. I said no thank you, and he said, "Too imperialist, are you?" I had to laugh.
Anyway, speaking of Michael (my friend in New Zealand), have been getting a lot of texts from him lately. His friends gave him a bungee jump for his birthday. If you knew Michael you would laugh as hard as I did. I've never met someone as uncomfortable around heights. I couldn't believe he would actually launch himself off a bridge (I'm okay with heights, and I'm almost positive I couldn't do it.) But he psyched himself up and I got a text this morning saying he did it! I'm impressed beyond belief, of course. I'm awaiting an email with the full details.
So what might have been a pretty boring weekend has actually turned out to be great. (Although Friday was pretty good as well - stayed up all night with Tom, Francis and Rob.) Guess it's proof positive that even when the sky is grey, I should get out there and do something. This is London - there's always SOMETHING strange going on.
happy Bangladeshi New Year, everyone!
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