Tag Archive: Soho


Picking up the January pace

Intended for publication on 12 January. 

Salut,

The gentle beginning to 2017 continues unabated, eleven days into this new calendar. Only one person has complained of being broke but that’s because they cannot leave the sales alone rather than having overspent at Xmas or anything like that. Some of us can do restraint, it seems.
It was a pretty busy weekend at Casa Beaufoy. Friday night though was “lie prostrate on the couch”, particularly after the spicy chilli I cooked for myself. The week had by no means been busy – though exercise has been upped now leg is feeling better – but I felt drained and needed an evening of nothing/very little. Saturday morning, I pottered around the flat, finished off the chilli for lunch and then went out for much of the day. First stop was the board game shop in Finchley. Bought myself an expansion pack to Resistance (Hostile Intent), picked up one for Joey for Coup Resistance and 100 card protectors which will fit Talisman cards and Eldritch Horror cards. But if I were to protect all those games’ cards, I suspect well over 1500 will be needed. I don’t want to price that up…

Unlike most trips to Finchley, there was no time for coffee and pastries, it was on to the huge Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road for stickers (the mundane sort for identification mark purposes) and birthday cards. If like me and Adrian Mole, you find stationery buying vaguely erotic, then stay away because the sale will tempt you will all sorts of items. Exercise books, jotters, diaries, pens, pencils, weird and wonderful items…all designed to test the maxim “a fool and his money are soon parted”. Why Paperchase hasn’t supplanted WH Smiths as a good supplier I just don’t know as their merchandise is far superior. Distribution networks, I suppose. Why mention the stickers? Board games. My plan in the next month whilst things are still relatively quiet, is to begin to amalgamate/merge board games and their expansion packs together, particularly given the small space in the flat. If you remove the cardboard inlays, the boxes are far bigger than are needed but will hold more items. The problem is separating out multiple expansion items (characters, cards of various types, tokens etc). So different coloured stickers are my way around this. I don’t think _much_ space will be saved but it really needs to happen.

Back to the story-telling: post Paperchase, Orc’s Nest in Covent garden and the other board game shop where I felt suckered into buying the Eldritch Horror Expansion, Under the Pyramids. I just wanted to check to see if the price of Labryinth (the War on Terror Game, not the Ravensburger maze game) was cheaper. Somewhat poorer, I threw caution to the wind and had a late afternoon tea at Patisserie Valerie, chiefly killing time before going to Mr Butterley’s drink in the Welly. Vile place. I lasted an hour before my general antipathy drove me out of Soho. Certainly will not be trying that again without some fortifying Valium or similar. Way, way too busy, loud, obnoxious and full of nasty people. And no, not the people I was with, the general Soho-going masses.

Sunday was the board games day at the pub and it was utterly, utterly rammed. Tube strike didn’t deter _that_ many people. I was the principle target in Ca$h & Gun$ but my demonic leer made people drop out a lot (I don’t like using my powers for evil). Avalon – evil won three back to back games (idiot good types). One of the “children” in attendance had a mini-meltdown which served to put me in a ratty mood. Real childish stuff over losing games – if you can’t hack losing, don’t play.

This week, thus far, is your standard January week. We’re all doing our best to get through it even though there’s not much to get excited about. Routine hasn’t varied though last night we played a game of Shadows Over Camelot and the armies of good once again let Camelot fall to the armies of Mordred by siege engine victory. Did well on Spaceteam – level 12! 

Back hurts today. Was walking out the front door when I felt the stabbing pain of a trapped muscle/nerve. No painkillers yet…

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Random Dump

I think I’m going to have to take myself down to the glue factory – I’m headed for the knackers yard anyway, might as well recycle me properly. Ok, this is a piece of self-pity crap, I’m tired and sore and spent most of my weekend doing stuff rather than the customary recharge session so feel like I haven’t had a break. And only one mug of coffee to boot!

Saturday I met up with Brendan – for someone who “doesn’t mind” where we go to eat etc, I’d say the reverse of that statement is a more consistent aphorism. Granted I wasn’t having a great morning – my phone wouldn’t stop ringing and receiving text messages. In the end I had to switch the wretched thing off just to get a little peace and quiet. We went to Wahaca on Wardour Street and ate Tacos. And I had a Salt n Pepper beer which he wasn’t impressed with. I liked it, thought it gave it a kick.

After lunch, had a wander around the grimness that is W1, picked up the usual comic books at FP, bought another Bubble Bobble piece of merchandise (a mug) before slowly heading back home for an evening of leftovers and AoE Online. I did toy with the idea of a chair massage at Relax but Brendan wouldn’t go for it – didn’t want to sit there being pummelled on my own though I’ve done that before.

Also tried to track down a copy of Risk Legacy – hey, we have to think about these things once we’ve blitzed the current board. Went to Orc’s Nest and Hamley’s and failed twice in trying to track down a copy. They didn’t even have Civilization. So I wandered over to Stratford Westfield for the sheer hell of it, took several years off of my life through stress but did call into Game and bought a couple of Styluses for my 3DS + a dirt cheap copy of James Noir Hollywood Murder 3D which I assumed to be a knock-off of Professor Layton (and I was right).

Slept in quite late Sunday and after braving the tube crowds, made my way up to Kilburn to Lee’s House for a Trek afternoon which was S1 & S2 of TNG though I’d happened to catch one of the episodes seen on the Syfy channel earlier that day (eerie coincidence). It was nice watching the updated visuals and listening to the remastered audio.

That’s my weekend in a nutshell, not much more to report really or at the very least, there’s little willpower to pad the above out any more. Despite it being fairly grim outside, the weather is surprisingly warm this time of year. You can walk around with your coat undone (though a scarf is recommended) and not necessarily at a brisk pace – or so my fellow pedestrians think. Whether this lull endures or not is a matter known only to Gaia but it’s better than November’s sub-zero temperatures.

Broadwick Street Curry

 

Masala Zone once again didn’t fail to disappoint last night – had the Undhiyo Curry with Dal and Saffron Rice. It was, in the immortal words of Winona Ryder (à la Family Guy), most good. The only flaw in the meal was the table we were shoved into – right in the corner next to what I assumed were a Swedish couple who were shoveling in their Thali platters. Afterwards, Andy and I went to the Wellie – as Happy Hour had finished at Be @ One for a couple of jars. 

Soho 2013 – the area should just change its name to “Dying Slowly”. This is all the fault of Westminster City Council who is trying to cram in as many overpriced yuppie flats into the area as possible. The fun has been gradually squeezed out of the area for quite some time now – but if Lambeth, Southwark and Camden want to pick up the slack then let them. When the businesses move on, the residents will suffer a collective stroke when their council tax bills go from being some of the cheapest in the country to some of the most expensive. 

Am pleased to report that I was able to get eight hours sleep last night for the first time in…I have no idea the last time I had eight hours sleep.  It’s looking likely that the lack of sleep is the reason this stubborn cold won’t shift.  It’s not a full on cold, not one of those debilitating things, just the occasional sneezing fit.  And no, I doubt it’s an allergy (except to the office…) 

Oh, I managed to start Resident Evil Revelations on the Tube ride into Dante’s fifth level of hell…er… work.  Was immediately put in mind of Ghostbusters: The Video Game with all the scanning work you have to put in on various odds and sods in the game.  Still, in terms of visuals it appears to be a nice game.  I suspect my machine is going to give me some issues thanks to the repeated dropping of the console when I was trying to replace the bathroom light switch.  The Circular D Pad is feeling stiff and clunky.  

Looks like the weekend has just about filled out with activities – Brendan on Saturday for lunch/gaming and Lee’s Trek afternoon.  Which is going to require some thought for both.  Let me see, I think I have some thinking time available during those seven to eight hours I waste lying unconscious.

 

Saturnalian Repasts

One of the reminder post-its on my desk is a list of all the restaurants I’ve had Xmas lunch in since starting in Transport.

2000 – The Albert (SW1)

I’d only been working in Transport for two months by the time Xmas rolled around and rather than meeting all my colleagues, the Hatfield Rail crash which had occurred on my second day pretty much kept everyone megabusy as the clean up, 20mph speed restrictions and the like diverted a lot of attention away from the upstart new AO and on their business. The Albert is a pub about 10 minutes walk from work and has an upstairs function room. We were a late seating so had it to ourselves as Railways International and General. It was a good meal – a carvery and we all loaded up. Though I don’t recall hanging around after the meal for drinks afterwards.

2001 – The Albert (SW1)

Owing to a lack of imagination, the second Xmas meal was again at the Albert but this time we had an earlier sitting, the cast list was different and we had to share the upstairs with some other undignified crowd. The food was of a lesser quality than the previous year and there was only one helping. Again the Railtrack in Administration process had begun so that’s why faces were different.

2002 – Grumbles (SW1)

I think the meal I had in 2002 was the worst one ever. By now I’d converted to becoming a vegetarian full time and was forced to have their alternative Xmas offering – Semolina based Polenta which I remember throwing up several hours afterward as it was utterly foul. And again as I recall, I didn’t like any of the desserts so skipped pudding. The other issue was that we were shoved downstairs and forced to sit on six tables.

2003 – Porterhouse (WC2)

We broke out of the SW1 massive and ventured into Covent Garden for this lunch. The menu looked good – I had a vegetarian “Beef” Wellington with flaky pastry which disintegrated upon contact with the fork. Again, there are few positive memories of this lunch because we were kept waiting for an hour out in the cold so that the restaurant could prepare and again shared a restaurant with a group of nuisance patrons.

2004 – Gay Hussar (W1)

I organised this lunch, the first of many and I remember picking several fights with colleagues who whined about the choice. Y’see, the Gay Hussar is a Hungarian restaurant in Soho and I wanted somewhere that did something more than the traditional turkey crap which some people were utterly resentful about deviating from. I had the last laugh as the team went there the subsequent year and the year after that! But I left Railways in 2005… The post lunch drinks in the Coach and Horses was particularly memorable.

2005 – Kazan (SW1)

It was a return to Pimlico for my one and only Private Office lunch and I was asked to organise something a bit different but close to Parliament and so I chose Kazan as quite liked it so Kazza B took the office down for lunch on Wilton Road. Food was exquisite and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. After the lunch, we went drinking for hours at the White Horse – it was a great afternoon.

2006 – Spaghetti House (SW1)

We went on our Xmas lunch within my second week of restarting in Railways and the team stuck to the ultra-safe option of Spaghetti House near Victoria Station. It wasn’t my restaurant of choice in all fairness but I gather there’d been a fair amount of bitching and fighting in getting the shindig organised. The meal for me was a Pizza Florentine and I didn’t stick around long after the drinks as I quite new and there was a lot of rage going on so snuck off and went home; Wedding plans dontchaknow.

2007 – Morpeth Arms (SW1)

Paul G organised this one and I whined about it constantly owing to the complete lack of vegetarian options on the menu. Also there were two tables – a main one and a subsidiary one and guess who was stick on the subsidiary? S’right, me. Liquor in the restaurant afterwards was nice and I ended up insulting various people in a state of complete inebriation as the snow fell outside.

2008 – Belgo’s (WC2)

My third meal was another roaring success, being able to bully everyone into going to Belgo’s where everyone had a great time (other than Paul G who boycotted the lunch because he’s a dick) and much alcohol was had. And when the tray of Schnapps was brought out, that really sold it for everyone. Whilst the restaurant was full, it wasn’t obnoxiously so.

2009 – Chimes (SW1)

A return to Pimlico where I took issue with the vegetarian menu and so had a regular menu which everyone looked on with envy as it was way, way better than the Xmas special. Getting drunk in the Constitution was a mistake however as I got lost trying to find Pimlico Tube and soaked in the snow.

2010 – Grumbles (SW1)

Despite swearing I’d never go back (and considering not going on principle), we returned to Grumbles (aka the scene of the crime) but Polenta was not on the menu this year. The food was a great deal better though the liquor was not despite drinking two bottles of South African Sauvignon Blanc. Again the group went to the Constitution but having been abused by Richard’s wife the previous year, I elected to go elsewhere (possibly the Griffin quiz) instead.

2011 – Loco Mexicana

This is where we’re going this year – I like the place but it remains to be seen whether the lunch menu will live up to expectations.

The Turkish March

Came on to iTunes quite at random and I thought it made a great header. Even though I have no intention writing about Mozart’s classic – or one of the easier tunes on Donkey Konga.

Once again, bugger all happened yesterday. Did laundry, ate, had a temper tantrum at Zelda, went to XXL. But I’ve written a couple of interesting messages to people through Thingbox today and I wanna share them:

I was having a bitter argument with a colleague at work about this – I ventured the argument that the bear scene is all but dead these days. Oh yes there are the bars and clubs still but they’ve been so diluted with “non-bears” that the core group has dispersed in reaction to the influx of other people and it’s killed it off. He disagreed vehemently and I had to stop before I reached the point of strangulation. But I feel that sometimes, a door policy works out for the best because as soon as word gets out about a place, everyone goes there, the venue gets diluted and it loses what made it unique.

When I came (back) to London 11 years ago, many of the bars were segregated. There were a few “universal” bars but most had a particular punter they were reaching out to with unofficial dress codes. There’s been too much blurring IMHO.

Retro Bar was strictly the 20-30s alternative set. Now it seems to be 40+ for a good sized chunk of the clientèle looking out for 20-30 guys.

Comptons was the skinhead bar, very much the white vest, khaki trouser and bomber jacket set. Now it’s just a mess.

King’s Arms was a bear bar, now it’s a fatties bar.

The only venue that hasn’t really changed is Ku Bar and g.a.y. bar (though it was called Manto’s back then) and that’s because the management has been very strict about controlling it. This “diversity” has killed off the Earl’s Court scene and it’ll do the same to Soho, especially given Westminster’s urge to kick the businesses out of Soho and put in more residents.

I know, I’m ranting but I love the niche markets that used to permeate the scene because you would always get something different and now its so homogeneous and counter to what the scene used to be about.

Then there was:

Ha! Aussiebum. Y’know, a couple of years ago when I was really bored at work, I created a ‘gay bingo card’ sorta on the lines of ‘Bullshit Bingo’ but to be played in a nightclub where you have to spot the following gay clichés. I’m going to take out one of the cells and replace with ‘Aussiebum logo above waistband’.

And here’s the result.

Gay Bingo!