Going to London is not a regular excursion for me. I live out in the sticks (theoretically (sic) Essex but only 30 minutes from Ipswich in Suffolk) so I make the most of these little mini adventures. I left at 10 A.M. and was on a train by 10.20. I was occupied enough for the journey as I had received the new album for one of the local bands who I am in contact with. So for the most part of my hour plus journey, I was engrossed.
Just after 11 I pulled in at Liverpool Street Station and decided to be daring... I wouldn't get the tube, I would get the bus into Camden. I looked at the time table for the 214 (from Stand C in case you decide to do the same) and saw I had 30 minutes to kill so I went and checked out the CD store in the train station. The offers they had weren't too great so I got a can of drink and a lamb samosa from the little newsagents in tube station and wandered back to wait for the bus. Minutes later it arrived and I paid my £1 and sat down for the 30 minute journey, which I spent submerged in my earphones listening to Madness.
Just after 12 and I am on Camden High Street. I had arranged to meet fellow Dis writer Julia at 12.30 in Virgin so I made a bee line straight there. I went to the cyber cafe (£1 per 30 minutes) and while awaiting her arrival I listened to Shakira and Missy Elliot and checked my mail for anything interesting (which there wasn't) and then Miss Vergho appeared over my shoulder... time to shop.
The thing is, if you see me in London, it means I have been paid... I am a mugers dream, regular as clockwork I am! Anyway, with my appetite for CDs at a premium, we headed straight for the CD & Video Exchange (next to Camden Market, just down from the Electric Ballroom) and I returned to my spiritual home... down the stairs to the bargain basement! The 50p singles section is a dream for me. I love rummaging through and seeing everything for never will-be's to never were's to the indie fops of the mid 90's to the dance acts who no-one has ever heard of. I spent £18 in the space of 40 minutes with highlights being a Cypress Hill promo album for £3, a Jepp album for 50p and a signed Swedish import Dr. Alban single for a bargain 50p!
With a laden bag over my shoulder and a tray of chicken noodles (£1 from one of the street venders), we decided to head to Soho so Julia could try and get herself the Ladytron album and because it was in the general vicinity of where we were to meet the others at 3 (more on that later). A short tube journey later and we are on Tottenham Court Road with a mini mission of getting an E.T. tin from Burger King (which we promptly failed) before wandering into Virgin Megastore. Again, I made a bee line to the bargain section and made a few more purchases inluding a Soulfly single for 99p and the new Serafin & Electrelane singles for £3.99 each.
With our time quickly expiring before our 3 PM deadline, we headed up Oxford Street towards Berwick Street and I was in no way ready for what was in store... on Berwick Street there are at least 6 CD shops full of bargains! Because of said time restrictions, we only got to visit two. The name of the first escapes me but it is the first you come to on your lefthand side. Go down the stairs and you are in £1 heaven. Albums from the likes of New Kids On The Block, Jocasta, Bellatrix and even E-17 are all there for just a solitary pound. In a little room next to it, they have thousands of singles and they line 3 of the 4 walls... this is Colin bliss. I spent just under a tenner here which included me getting the Bellatrix and Cecil albums amongst other things.
After going to the CD & Video Exchange in Soho (where Julia managed to get her Ladytron album) we finally headed off to meet the others. At 3.30 we arrive at the Moon Under The Water on Charing Cross Road (just past the Mean Fiddler). Sean (head of Dis) is waiting outside and is obviously dieing for a pint so we go in. Adie (another Dis writer) has lovingly grabbed us a table, we sit down and I get free stuff, albeit mainly to review. A few minutes later Jenny, a very pretty young lady and a friend of Julia's, turns up. I won't bore you with the conversations that ensue from that point on (the rest of my article does that) but subjects include Richard E. Grant, my over priced Megatron Fan Club button up shirt, the future of Dis and whether E.T. has testicles (he has not! - julia-who-edited-this).
Several beverages later, we head off for down the road cuz Sean wants pizza. It transpires that he doesn't get any because no-one else wants any and we go to ANOTHER CD shop instead. This has 3 albums for £5 and I take full advantage of this offer with a combination of Mad Capsule Markets (Digdogiheadlock, not OSC-DIS), CO.UK & a compilation album with the likes of Outkast, NOFX & Pennywise on in support of the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 game and I also bought a Kinesis single for £1. By the time I complete shopping, Sean has made his excuses and left for a meeting, so I talk the other three into going for a Chinese with me. There is a place that does Eat As Much As You Can for £4.50 (it is opposite a pub called The Porcupine next to Leicester Square tube station) so we hit there and munch. Over eating we discuss hedgehogs, lemmings and pigeons (no, they weren't on the menu) and why people stared at me the minute I stepped into the establishment.
About 7.30 we left there and all made our way back to Tottenham Court Road. The day had been an enjoyable one. I had spent way too much money but I was happy. I was in good company and even the fact the heavens had opened and my Reel Big Fish hoodie was soaked, I didn't mind.
Approaching a set of traffic lights, I was slightly ahead of the 3 girls so I made my way across the road while there was a gap. As I reached the other side, I was vaguely aware of a guy with a shaved head approaching me. He stared me right in the eyes, shouted at me I was a 'Kiddie Feeler' and walked off. My mind was boggled. I was obviously upset about it and what happened from that point in London until me getting home about an hour and a half later is vague to say the least. I remember giving my Kinesis single to Jenny cuz she wanted it and sitting in between the carriages of the train next to the window cuz I was soo hot. I think it was that temperature of anger and frustration, as outside it was biting cold and raining.
The fact is, I am not a city boy (despite being brought up in Croydon) and I will always remember the day for that ONE moment. Why have I writen this? To be honest, I am not sure but I do know I feel better for doing so... use it as a guide to the cheap CD stores, as a piece of light reading or as warning to what could happen when you are unaware among the big scary lights... definetly a Saturday to remember.