Saturday, August 04, 2007

A Grumpy Day

I've been ill for a few days. Not completely bed-ridden but suffering from a pretty heavy chest infection. Today though I ventured out for the first time since my trip up to Uffington White Horse (making that trip in just a t-shirt late in the evening probably didn't help the chest infection to be honest, but hey-ho) Anyway today I went into London for a job interview for a job I probably don't want. Well when I say into London I actually barely scratched the edge of the city as the interview was held at the head offices of a company situated just outside Paddington station, which is where my train from London arrives in town.

So, as the railways over here are about as reliable as the Creative Sources catalogue ;) I left far too early and arrived with an hour and a half to kill before I needed to be at the interview. There was little point going anywhere far, as there was barely enough time to make it down into the centre and back and no point risking getting stuck there so I decided to kill the time on Paddington station. I know this station well. Very well. Too well after spending more than one night there in the past after missing the last train home after a concert. Its changed a lot in recent years though and a lot of new shops and fast food atrocities have appeared.

Going for a wander around the grotesque shopping centre unfathomably named "The Lawn" just depressed me very quickly. The window of the Monsoon women's clothes shop informed me I would be "very smart" if I took advantage of their summer sale. Either that or a transvestite anyway. A wander into a music shop that used to be called Sanity but now doesn't seem to want to admit to having a name and included Chris Rea and Phil Collins-era Genesis albums in their special section entitled "Great Journey Listening" nearly drove me to arson until a helpful tannoy announcement reminded me that there's no smoking allowed anywhere on the station.

As I wandered about it amazed me just how many people had the inevitable little white earbuds in their ears. Maybe as many as one in five people seemed to have an iPod or similar about their person somewhere. Has there ever been a period in history before when so many people have listened to so much music? Probably not. The depressing thing is its probably all dreadful music however. For a moment I wondered how many of the people buzzing about were listening to the something from the "Great Journey Listening" selection, but then I remembered that most people departing from Paddington would be doing so on either a First Great Western or a Virgin train, so the term "Great" was unlikely to apply to their journey.

Feeling peckish, but also feeling pretty repulsed by the fact that the Railway Inn pub on the station has been renamed The Mad Bishop and Bear I walked straight past very quickly and instead went to a favourite haunt of mine, the West Corwall Pasty Co shop on the station. This place always puts a smile on my face and it didn't fail me today. Its furbished inside in the most hilarious fake Cornish fisherman's cottage style you could imagine, complete with a Welsh dresser to hold napkins and cutlery, and signs on the wall warning to "Beware of the Coastal Path". Knowing West Cornwall very well I think its safe to say that the main bedroom in the Taj Mahal has a more authentic Cornish feel to it than this place, but I'm sure it keeps the thousands of tourists that flock through Paddington en route from Heathrow every day happy.

One thing I hadn't noticed in here before though and certainly did pay attention to today is the music. I noticed today probably because as I walked in and ordered a beef and stilton pasty (this took a while as my command of Polish isn't up to scratch yet) The Velvert Underground's Venus in Furs was playing. (A great tune about S&M in New York back in the 60's so a good fit for the Cornish theme to the place) This was followed by REM's Losing my Religon but then oddly by a track by S-Club 7, Culture Club's dreadful The War Song and Don't worry, be happy by Bobby McFerrin...
I'm really not sure that a more bizarre, random mix of songs could be possible, and what's more this was no radio station playing, rather a CD of prepared music for the place that was interspersed by the sounds of (presumably authentic Cornish) seagulls and adverts for assorted flavours of pasty... a little odd to say the least, but it kept me amused for quite a while. Its only when Genesis' Turn it on again came on that I hurriedly left the remains of my pasty and ran for it. I wonder if they get their odd CD compilations from the "Great Journey Listening" section at not-Sanity? We may never know.

At this point I left the station and headed out onto Praed Street which was just about visible beyond the haze of smoke created by all those people that followed orders not to smoke anywhere on the station and instead created a gateway of nicoteine intoxication just outside the entrance to ensure us passive smokers don't miss out on our fix. As I headed for the exit I passed the Paddington Bear merchandise stall. This is basically a mobile shop that is permanently set up on the station with a mission to sell a cuddly Paddington Bear figure to every stupid person that passes by. They always seem really busy. Today I noticed they had a sign announcing that the Paddington Bear in a Union Jack overcoat toy would be back in stock next Monday. This made me wonder. As Paddington was a very proud immigrant of Darkest Peru, and as he isn't (as far as I'm aware) a supporter of the BNP, why would he be wearing a Union Jack overcoat? Maybe they were in the Monsoon sale.

Wandering aimlessly along Praed Street in awe at just how many different ways you can spell Shish Kebab I stopped for a while at the Big Red London Bus Gift Shop, but it was whilst trying to decide which Princess Diana postcard I needed the most that I realised time was getting on and I should head for my interview.

So why did I make this post? Its got little to do with music...Erm no idea really beyond the fact that my ill health has put me in something of a Victor Meldrew mood and I thought I'd share that with you all. I'm going back to London tomorrow morning. Think I might drive this time.


Alastair said...

For those of you who've never met Richard, this is exactly how he talks in the pub.

Ah, the West Cornwall Pasty shop...I remember meeting you in there once. On a station full of inauthenticities, it wins first prize.

Richard Pinnell said...

For those of you who've never met me, this is exactly how I talk in the pub when Alastair is around ;)