Advent song for December 19: Black Christmas

Alright, this 2010 single is technically more of an anti-Christmas song, what with being inspired by the story of an LA killing spree by a gunman dressed as Santa and featuring lines like “A child was born on Christmas Day/But they crucified him anyway”, and its innate melancholy is further underscored by the fact that Poly Styrene, aka Marianne Joan Elliott-Said, died just a few months later from breast cancer at the horribly early age of 53. But the video also features her very-much-alive daughter, Celeste Bell-Dos Santos, who as well as looking nearly exactly like her mother is now busy making a film about her, and the spirit of Poly Styrene lives on in some of my favourite artists, including the star of tomorrow’s advent calendar, so although she may have left us, she isn’t gone, and here she’s perfect in the way that only punk superstars in their fifties ever are.

Days off

I work a nine-day fortnight, with every other Friday off. When I came to this arrangement I thought that I would use the free day for chores and writing, and waiting in for people to come and fix things. I do use it for all of those things, but I also use it to get my hair cut, because I have to get Koto the genius hairdresser to cut my hair. I have crap hair: it is not straight or curly, it’s quite thin, and it’s going grey. Only Koto can give me a haircut that doesn’t look awful within a week. So every few free Fridays, I take myself off on the train and go and visit her in Bromley.

I never used to like Bromley. If you lived in Beckenham, Bromley was the place you went to at weekends because it had a slightly better range of shops, and a McDonald’s, and pubs where you wouldn’t bump into your parents’ friends who knew you were fourteen. Tell someone you’re from Bromley, and they look at you sympathetically. The beloved and I had a drink recently with a friend who introduced us to her new-ish boyfriend, who lives in Bromley, and we spent most of the evening commiserating with one another. Bromley isn’t a place, it’s the punchline to a joke.

But, you know what? Bromley’s kind of OK. The high street is mainly pedestrianised, so market stalls have sprung up, and in the sunshine today it looked like somewhere you might want to go and have a look at:

Bromley High Street

The introduction of PAYG to South Eastern trains didn’t make my journey as easy as it should have done. I forgot to touch in at Herne Hill, so when I got to Bromley South, where there are barriers, I asked the guard if I could buy a paper return ticket to Herne Hill, which would both retrospectively cover the journey I’d just made and allow me to get back again later. Although it wasn’t strictly within the rules, she could see that it was the simplest solution, and fortunately was not of the breed of train guard who lives for being able to charge people a fine for being idiots. So I queued up and bought my return ticket, forgetting that I’d already arranged to go and see my parents after visiting Koto, so I wouldn’t be making the return journey by train. So I queued up and paid for a journey I’d already made, and a journey I was never going to make. These are the ways I fill my time.

I have a hen weekend to go to tomorrow. There will be games. I will post photos next week, if I survive the experience.

The burbs

My two-week period of homelessness has meant I am spending more time than usual in London’s leafy south-eastern suburbs. A couple of nights ago I went truly off-piste and ventured out to Biggin Hill by bus. And you know what? It’s nice out there! What it lacks in 24-hour shops and, well, people, it makes up for in prettiness and a cheery fellow-feeling that you don’t see so much of in town, largely because everybody is in too much of a hurry to stop and make conversation (and anyway, if you start a conversation with the wrong person you might get stabbed). All the bus drivers said “hello”, including the one who took me, and only me, from Keston to Bromley in about the same time it would have taken by car (thank you, Ken, for all the new bus lanes).

Also, I got to see horses in fields. I like horses in fields, as long as they are quite far away and separated from me by something solid (e.g. the side of a bus).