On the plane opposite me on the aisle seat to my right, an Irishman / holy man who keeps stretching out his left hand as though he’s about to karate chop me in the neck.
Earlier he tried the conversation with the Bulgarian seated next to him near the window. An older grey haired man clearly with a limited grasp of English understanding. The interesting thing about this ‘conversation’ was that as well as pigeon talk from the Irish man, he also insisted in acting out some of the words to give somehow a clearer stronger meaning to what he was saying. However, these actions were not at all in synch with the words he spoke. So with his crazy karate arm swirling around, coupled with his head and other arm-acting-out-words that didn’t match his spoken words – the conversation soon came to a fairly abrupt halt. Funny.
Other passengers? Mainly Bulgarians returning home. Heavy-set race the Bulgarians, all rigid, solid looking, swarthy wrestler type, fellas and the women – the older of whom seem at ease in simple black mourning outfits. The younger women were born with D&G, DKNY, ARMANI etc embedded upon their psyche and hence their clothing and jewellery not to mention sunglasses which are worn moulded to the top of their head.
The karate chop fella getting a bit annoying now, invading my space with his flailing chopper blades, feeling like he’s about to scythe off my ruddy head. And the more he does this, the more I feel that he’s attention seeking…no one to talk to…wanting somebody to ask him exactly what is wrong with his arm and why he’s doing this all the time. Nobody does of course.
A row down and a mammoth Bulgarian fella sat drinking. There are 45 minutes to land and he is about two inches from the bottom of a 700ml bottle of Jameson’s Whiskey – imbibed all by himself. Now, just 20 minutes to land and the whole bottle is finished – and I bet so is he.
From a shared office within a local government building. Colleague in the same room providing a lesson in how to do everything but work: late arrival, heralded by overpowering whiff of perfume (clearly spent untold hours this morning to look the way she does), to sit and shuffle some papers. She took a bewildering look at her PC screen (which seemed to send a shudder across her shoulders), a glance at piles of papers on her desk, carefully placed two mobi-phones in front of her (one work, one private – I’ll not say which of these is the busier!), pushed the print button on her keyboard, leaves the room to go to the photocopier and that’s her gone for an eternity. Her return is a rerun of her arrival. Her next departure is a rerun of her earlier departure. And so it goes until lunch time. Before heading off for lunch, a ten minute excursion into her big leather handbag that looks like a massive wallet. Full, I think, only of cosmetics. Applied to the face. And off she goes. Afternoon and long after lunch, her return and a fixed, vacant gaze at her computer screen. She sits, frozen, until a silent message from her handbag telling her to fix her face, and so the cosmetics are once again applied. This time though, its out of sheer boredom as she’s going nowhere…for now. A few other colleagues come in to ask her some Q’s, her reaction is just noise and nothing more. Colleagues leave as mobi-one rings with a torrent of muzak and more noise is spoken into the receiver. The last few hours of the afternoon, desk top papers are untouched and pristine upon her desk as her eyes and fingers work between the touch screen phone and the PC keyboard and screen checking Facebook photos of friends and others, ‘whats-on’ city guides, flowers, and diamond jewellery websites.
The next day, the afternoon spent in preparation for the evening’s activity. A full two hours before the working day finishes. Mind boggling. The rest of the day as previously reported. Groundhog day in Kaunas.
No more than 30 in the audience, all spread out on deflated beanbag type cushions on the floor, all in lines, like pews in a church. The jazz fusion trio (drummer, bass, and Rickenbacker) kicking up a storm as much as they could in the circumstances. And adding to their numbers, on a stage built for no more than their number, came the basketball player sized saxophone player from Klaipeda, the portly, bowling skittle shaped Australian trumpet player, the slight looking, sandy haired, double bass player, and the beige flared trousered, safari-suited, pony tailed flutist (though it looked like a clarinet in disguise).
Royal Festival Hall…late and a game of hide and seek…pillars aiding ability to be invisible…too late…spotted… “how are you“…”bloody starving and you’re late mate“…”chewing gum because you have smelly breath?” …”no…but do I?”…quick brisk walk over the bridge…looking for suitable food venue…over the Strand in front of Charing Cross Station…stood and ran in front of traffic…”too many mad people here” you said…up through the back streets to Covent Garden…down stairs then back up stairs from the Punch and Judy bar…too touristy we thinks… instead to ‘real English bar’ with Thai bar maid for some pub grub…which we had…soup and tuna baked pots…and several pints of beer…fantastic!!…then brisk walk through to Neal street where you stepped in a puddle or on one of those wonky paving stones which made your lower leg all wet…urghh…wet shoe and foot…after we had avoided popping in to too many shoe shops – hey!! what are we here for!!! – …found ourselves on an open street and like rabbits caught in the headlights…we headed back into the back streets…and out past a fancy dress shop…some talk about the party we went to…people like Alf Garnet…Marge Simpson…Mr and Mrs Spock..and us…nothing special at all…wearing just what we could bang together…beehive wig and purple suede boots for you…and tatty old cord-u-roy jacket with purple ruffled shirt for me…both I still sadly have…into the pub ‘Spice of Life’…Time Out to check what’s happnin in Lahdahn tahn…not so much in fact on a Sunday… some beers…trips to toilets…more beers…raining outside I think now…through old Compton Street to Coach and Horses pub…promise of some piano and singer type jazz session spot on at 6.30…never happened…or rather we failed to wait for the delayed start…instead heading off to the Spanish Bar…at the bar…talking to a boxing psycho fiend…born in 1966…”you look younger” you said and later “you’ve got really nice teeth” !!! “d’yer box?” he said…”d’yer like the boxing?” he said…with a kind of foreboding sense of minor menace…and after you noticed that he had big pupils in his eyes …and all the time of course we piled in the coins to the juke box…that had not changed so much from 8 years ago…and 30 years before that!!…from here back to the Coach and Horses…although we were told to get here early because it would be busy…we returned to a bar still easily able to find a seat in…jazz was nothing special…although we did stay and have a beer…and you passed some comments to the people sharing our table…out of here…hunger taking its toll now…so into China town…(though not before – or was it after? – we passed the church where your mam and dad married)…and some lovely crissspee peeeeking duck and all sorts of other bits and bobs as part of a menu for two…struggled though most of it…though we devoured the crispy peeeking duck!! yum oh yum indeed…and from here to the O’Neils bar…finally hand in hand…with your head tucked in and under my chin…loud pub because today the Munster rugby team (unbeknown to us) had won the Heineken Cup semi-final game against Saracens…a lot of Toyota sponsored shirts around…on all floors…we sat on the second and later the third…and then left promising to return for the live music at 9 or was it 10pm…and so then to the Spice of Life again and this time downstairs for the ‘DJ’ set…though I think we were the only punters in there…the Italian bar maid recognised you…from upstairs earlier…we liked that touch of recognition…sat and listened to tunes spun by the DJ…and fantastic to hear a Bobby Mc Womack…’If you don’t want my love give it back’ was the tune…and another tune that we knew but could not remember what it was…you asked the DJ…it was Lou Reed… and from here as they closed up we returned once again to the O’Neils bar…and here we stayed for the night… up high on the top floor – 3rd or 4th I am not sure now – we stayed til the end…and even when we had to get some fresh air and left with our beers on the bar…and went outside to be surrounded by taxi-drivers and upwardly mobile homeless people…selling dog-eared copies of the Big Issue …liars all of them…and when we returned…the beers were still there waiting for us…O’Neils…where we sniffed and smelt familiarity on each other…“I love your smell” you said…“I love you” I said…down near the front…a live band playing cover versions of 80s and 90s songs…songs that we both knew quite well…familiarity breeding familiarity…people dancing soaking wet…sweat or drink poured over them by rugby celebrating friends…or strangers…some girls not as pissed as boyfriends…”With or without you” as the final song of the evening…we left… head tucked in and under chin… passed tube stations… all closed…deliberating our options… knowing that one of these was a crazy one that would never work…though we probably in heart of hearts wanted it to work…other options instead were explored…head tucked in and under chin… wondering how to get…where we wanted to go…home or…where to go…reality of course kicks in and we head to Trafalgar Square…thinking of night buses…lingering around here…and there…there being near to Charing Cross Station…almost back where we started… both of us supporting a huge pillar…a huge pillar supporting two people…a delay in sending each other home…somehow saying everything to each other…a long goodbye…two taxis…One going that way…
And the other…
The other way.
And so it goes.
Fantastic while it all lasted.
” Can we envisage a world in which time isn’t squandered as mindless working time? Work for most people usually means time spent doing something that has absolutely no meaning for the doer: an alienated activity, with an alienated product (if there is a product), controlled by an alienating organisation, all conspiring to shape an alienated self…” – Ivan Illich
This gallery contains 2 photos.