from Friday, January22nd of the year2010.
I have had a very frustrating pageant of inefficiency in London today. I got an English mobile number last night – which, in itself, was a very complicated ordeal despite the fact that I only wanted a Pay-As-Þú-Go phone. (the complexity is beyond description; let me just say that it was only pharmaceuticals that kept me from eating a man’s liver on Oxford St) It worked, and I set up a whole series of interviews and social appointments on it. And then, I woke up this morning to a doomed “no service” message. Restarts, network resets, etc. I eventually called my Cervix Provider, Orange, to discover (after 30 minutes on hold, with actually kind of satisfying hold music), that my account had been suspended for Fraud. The only way, darling Yogesh from Tech Support informed me, to reättain service was to fax (?) my most recent credit card statement (?) to a certain number. Now. Let’s think about Things that Seeme Fraudulent. As far as I’m concerned, faxing my bank statement to some Bengali dude is like, Fraud level 9 out of a possible 10. Me trying to move to London and behave like a normal human being is like, 2 out of a possible 10. Anyway, I endured the Faxing Process (which, let it be said is not easy; it involved PDF’s from Citibank, reformatting from 8.5×11 to A4 sized paper, and an amazing scene of four generous women from the Roundhouse huddled around their fax machine trying to get it to work.) They had no way of confirming that it worked. I don’t know if it worked. My phone still isn’t working.
I am now convinced that England is essentially an enormous logistical game, like that thing where you tilt a surface to get a marble to fall into a specific hole. At a certain point today, after 45 minutes with Yogesh and fielding all the insane emails attendant to my failure to “answer” my “phone,” I seriously entertained the idea of just Going Home, where the streets are paved with pork belly and I can make my phone go. Tickets were investigated; fraudulent medical excuses were fabricated.
After a few hours of really horrifying logistical +44 hours, I decided to just abandon hope of leaving and repair immediately to St John, where I et: Snail, Sausage & Chickpea, and some Parsnipp Soup, with a glass of white wine. All of this set me straight: London is a place obsessed and consumed by inconvenience, with a few fortresses of awesomeness, St John being one of them. The physical space is heaven, the food is heaven, the staff is heaven, the font is heaven, the glasses are heaven.
Later that day, I went to the Roundhouse to rehearse. I adore the Roundhouse. It is one of the most beautiful spaces in the world. The bar? Was great. I sat there for an hour, from 3-4, answered emails, made some arrangements for friends, and then was informed that the bar was closing for “a changeover.” A changeover to what, I axt. “Dinner service,” was the answer. “So, can I sit here while you change over?” “No.” Now we come to a crossroads. Do I get hood with these people? Or do I just leave like how they are very politely asking? I left because I had to make a phone call, but this woman’s attitude stuck in my craw. What am I meant to say to her ass, “I’m playing here Sunday; can you please just let me keep this wee table in the corner during your changeover? can I stand up for 5 minutes while you reÃ¤rrange the candles and naps-kijn?” Instead I just sort of collected my things and left.
BUT THEN. Leitur. At 6 PM, I wanted to go to the bar, with an administratrix from the orchestra, to get a glass of wine. The barmaid on duty (I reïterate: barmaid on duty) informed us that we could not achieve wine. Why? Because. The fact that there were three half-full bottles of red wine literally within my arm’s reach was immaterial 2 her. I followed the lead of my administratrix hostess and we left. But then fifteen minutes later I said to myself, you know what? Fuck these people. So I marched back up and said, what amount of money can change your mind? The barmaid was horrified. I said, what can I say or do to achieve a glass of the red wine that is half open, slowly fermenting in front of my wery eyes. She said, “oh, well, you can have a plastic glass of it without any problem. It’s just a glass that we can’t do.”
Hello. What are we dealing with here? Was she saving face? Should she have said this bit about the plastic glass 30 minutes before? Am I a crazy New Yorker? Am I petulant? Is she crazy?
I want to use this space as an urge to Londoners to Stop the Madness. Question all the times that people tell you that you cannot do a thing that you clearly should be able to do. It’s wine behind the bar; it’s £4.30 in your pocket; surely we can make something happen. It’s foreign students and workers in your city: give a bitch a cellphone without struggle. It’s people who want to express their dollars in pounds: give a bitch a bank account without all this rigmarole. I’m really over the Eichmannesque behavior of everybody up in here. It’s 10 PM, I’ve been working all day, you have to let me eat! I would love (sort of) for there to be a place besides St John that is an Acceptable Atmosphere in which to exist.
One thing I have to say, though, amidst all of this, is that the Roundhouse is an amazing, amazing place. I did an interview for their in-house radio station and on my slightly curvèd walk to the studio, I walked past what seemed like almost infinite mini-studios with Macs with Logic and ProTools rigs. All these rooms were filled with fresh-faced 21-year old musicians who in some way establish tenure in this fabulous space. What this place amounts to, in New Yorker terms, is the thing that all of us have been dreaming of for years. It’s like Zankel Hall meets Terminal 5 meets a studio meets the American Music Center. I was beyond impressed with it; I was sort of moved by my brief walk past young people using the computer and very moved by one group of two of them: a gay boy and a (?) girl, riveted by the flashings of Logic on the screen of their iMac. I want the iTunes download of whatever it is that they made that day.
So, in summary:
London people: Resist this Bullshit!
London people: Support the Roundhouse!
London people: Eat the Snails & Chickpea!