Monday, April 02, 2007

Alea iacta est

After the blissful weareone party, we go to All Saints Road, to the place that was Mas Cafe in the days before All Saints Road became chichi to the power of chichi. It is now called Ruby and Sequoia - a cocktail bar doing a nice line in Mai Tais and mochitos. The interior is black ceramics and a shimmery gold flock effect, very Wallpaper magazine. Downstairs the vibe is loungey, with clusters of people still high after the weekend dancing with verve and energy. The DJ is rinsing a nice line in near nostalgia uptempo, with Groove is in your Heart followed by Boogie 2Night by Tweet. The last song has been playing in my head for the last two days - it was good to hear it out in the world.

I return from the bar to see a guy sitting near us studying me. I return his stare and smile. We introduce ourselves. Alex works in film editing. He looks vaguely Middle Eastern, perhaps he is Lebanese. His hair is shaven. His skin looks fresh, his eyes large and a little doey. We talk about the British film industry for a while. He asks if his friend, sitting next to him, can cadge a cigarette. My friend sitting to my left obliges and reaches over to pass him the packet. His friend, to his right, has a crutch. There is something in his face that scares me a little, an implicit violence. His face is pale, his hair shaven, his eyes blue-bloodshot. After a while, he goes to sit with my friend. I leave them to buy more drinks, wondering if they are gay or not. A certain macho metrosexuality wafts between glances.

A little later, the pale skinhead sits next to me. We shake hands, in the overly glamorous geezer way. He tells me his name is Danny. I ask him what he does:

I do mate. That's all you need to know.
He smiles a watery smile.

I don't fuck anyone, and no one fucks with me, you know what I mean? I don't fuck, and no one fucks back. It might have something to do with having a three foot machete back home.
This time he laughs.

My family are tinkers mate. You know what tinkers are?
I search my internal wikipedia. They’re Irish traders right? They buy and sell stuff?

We’re the bottom of the pile mate. We’re gypsies. Everyone hates us. We fight. That’s what we do. Everyone hates us, so we fight back. I’ve been fighting all my life. I got it from my mom. She smashed three guys faces up. Right in the face, with glass. She done ‘em up proper.

We're the Murrays from Kensal Rise. You ask anyone about us. The things I’ve done… you don’t want to know. I’ve ruined some people’s lives. There’s things you wouldn’t do, I’ve done ‘em. Where you or someone else wouldn’t go, I’ve been there..

We talk a little more, Danny’s banter a mixture of diluted charm and menace. Then he decides to open up.

I’m a drug dealer mate. Its what I do. I’ve had 9 E's, 6 grams of charlie, a good amount of speed since Friday.

I take a few seconds to study his face. It shows. I think I would be dead if I had consumed so many narcotics in 48 hours. Danny frowns.

I got to fill me head. I read three books a week. I'm reading a biography of Noel Coward, a book on Latin and some schlock horror crime novel just to pass the time. Do you know what Alea iacta est means?

I admit I don’t know what it means.

It means “the die is cast”. Alea iacta est. I’m going to have it tattooed right here.

He moves his fingers over his neck, like the ‘you’re dead’ sign. The bar man comes over. It’s time to leave. Danny reaches for his crutch.

I’ve got osteoporosis. I’ve only got a little time left. My bones are going to crumble soon.

We reach the top of the stairs, then make our way onto the street. We say goodbye. Danny hobbles off into the night.


Fred 3:05 pm  


You Brits are so cute when you try to be tough. I'd like to introduce this guy to some Inner City guys I know, see where things end up.

saul 3:11 pm  

... reminds me of a bizarre night being chatted up bar a one armed pool player in the Royal Oak on Columbia Road - a mixture of menace and intrigue. Whatever he'd been up to in his life you could tell he'd been 'up to something'. The machismo was interpolated by the 6 ft drag queens working behind the bar and my friend, who was a little worse for wear, running around the pub pretending to be an airplane.

It lacked vengeful rebellion of fight back from the bottom and the coup de grace of the crumbling bones.

vindication through innocence 10:05 pm  

There are some seriously weird people in london!!goondess!!

Pseudo-Independence? 10:29 pm  

it's too late, the guy has now crossed the Rubicon...

Lolita 12:15 am  

My question is how is it that you, Jeremy, remember everything the geezer said verbatim?

Did you have a tape recorder on you, mate?

Honestly, I agree with that person, I think five or so posts from this one, who believes you are some sorta spy :)

St Antonym 2:12 pm  

Great story mate. Well told.

Ugo Daniels 9:51 pm  

Well mate, you've gat yaself a fan here. Can't help but marvel at da way you flawlessly tell your story!

way to go!

Jaycee 8:12 pm  

Lollll...u basically are summarizing the story of the dead end of a crack already shows in the conversation...

About This Blog

  © Blogger templates Psi by 2008

Back to TOP