There we stood, gastro-pub diners flashing uncomfortable eyes our way. Jerome, by my side, fully fledged afro-punk, grinned. I was newly scalped, hair a faint memory-trace, my boots mud tarnished, sloughing water onto a respectable floor. This, surely, was the wrong place. Some upmarket shithole cowering on the Edgware Road, a nothing-hub for people travelling nowhere. “There can't be a gig here, right?” whispered Cerise, her hair striking off in blood red offshoots. She sometimes complained that this attracted attention, unwanted attention, and I would say...well. You don't make it easy on yourself, I had said once. We resembled a muddied, dampened line-up of British subcultures pulled in by the police accused of crimes we would yet commit. These lunchers, by the looks they sported, had the evidence to prove it.
This red flare now drew looks from bespectacled men and their grey wives, as they chewed sadly on pub lunches and gulped down house white. Saturday afternoon, the end of the world. I wished we'd never stepped out of Hackney, we had walked into negative space, culture-death scribbled on a chalkboard sporting the price of a full-roast with all the trimmings. Foamy bitter, tasteful décor, a gaping void in the middle of the room that no one could ever fill and blank hopeless faces pointed at us accusingly, pleadingly. Please, they said to me, let something happen.
It was pissing down outside. Here, this place, was where the gig was supposed to be happening, some contact of The Poet (who no one had seen in months) displaced from a squatted social centre had hastily rearranged. It couldn't be here. Even if it was, fuck it, we were gone, back into the cold rain and onto a Samuel Smith's for sanctuary, to plan the next move.