Cash and Curry
At about one this morning I was standing around watching three jazz musicians argue about how best to get a drum kit into the boot of a car. They were standing around in various ponderous poses, quietly contemplating matters before all suddenly leaping into action to try and fit more in. I waited, patient and tired under the street lamps.
We had been paid for the gig with a curry, some drinks and a grubby ten pound note each. Underselling ourselves, perhaps, but it had been fun. When we had arrived at the little café/bar in London's borderline-insalubrious Catford, it had been filled with clusters of be-capped youths shouting to each other over the tinny RnB pulsating from the speakers. As I set up my PA the amplifier kept buzzing loudly, screeching angrily every time I plugged it in. Each time this happened the groups of kids turned at looked, laughing loudly and calling comments, and I turned slowly redder. Martin and I were just concluding that there was something wrong with the plug socket when a tracksuited man shambled over. He sniffed. "Hey baby!" he said to me, leaning back and looking at me through narrowed eyes. "Have you got the X-Factor? Ha ha ha ha!" I laughed vaguely and turned back to switching off the equipment. The man sniffed again and turned his attention to Martin, who listened as the stranger launched into a protracted tale of woe, revolving around the fact that he had one hundred and seventy one firearms convictions (one of them, apparently, was not even a firearm! It was a machete! O, the injustice!) and therefore had a curfew from his parole officer and could not stay and watch the gig. The clock ticked as the man chattered, his sentences punctuated only with the occasional sniff and wipe of his nose. Martin stood rooted to the spot so I flicked the switch again and a loud howl of anguish emanated from the speaker, causing more laughter, but a thankful distraction. The man forgot his self-pitying monologue and patted me on the arm. "Can you even sing, baby?" he growled, eyes shining. I ignored him and turned to the sound mixer. He nudged me again. "Nervous, are you? Are you any good? Let's hear you!" I turned my back. Martin did the same as I felt the anger bubble up. "Fuck off" I muttered under my breath, then suddenly regretted it, picturing the headline "Girl Killed In Coke-Fuelled Machete Frenzy After Accidentally Swearing A Bit Too Loud". Luckily for me, he appeared not to hear and, after a few moments, man slid away, presumably to talk to someone else. A lot.
The gig was cool. The crowd became less of a crowd and more of a small group, but they were nevertheless appreciative and clappy. The kids had sloped off, having finished their shared Diet Cokes. We played for two hours, pausing only to eat some delicious curry and accept drinks. The band (piano, bass and drums) were really good, and I felt that we worked together really well. The bar lady was happy because we played her favourite song (That Old Black Magic) and the rest of us were pleased because we tried out some new tunes, and some new versions of old ones. I arrived home at about one-thirty. The car journey home had included a particularly delicious moment when, whilst paused at a junction, we had looked up to see a woman in an upstairs window, energetically playing a solo boxing game on her Wii.
Today I am a bit tired, but tomorrow is my last day at this job so I can cope. I am casting about restlessly to try to work out some kind of great Last Day Rebellion, but honestly I have had so many temp jobs and therefore so many Last Days that after a while it just loses its thrill. There's only so much stationery one can usefully steal.
On Saturday I have another gig. This time it will be a private one, and therefore much better paid, but I suspect it will not be as fun as last night. There is always someone who makes a hilarious joke about the X-factor and so makes me want to kill them. I suspect that even if I did a gig in Buckingham Palace itself there would be some wisecracking footman doing a Simon Cowell impression.
I am off now to scout for things to steal/systems to alter slightly/salt to put in the sugar pot. Don't let anyone tell you that I am not a rebel.