On the Tuesday night I had a return trip to South London for Julia Jacklin‘s premiere of her magical new record near London Bridge,
a handy place from which to finish off the London GBG entries.
But life has other plans. Or in this case, Matt, who was desperate to see Silent Planet, the best underground metal band of 2017. But you knew that.
And they were playing just down the road in New Cross. I judged Matt’s chances of meeting me at London Bridge to catch the 22.48 back to Cambridge at about 17%, coincidentally his age. He has a habit of being the last person out of gigs.
So we drove down to New Cross with Matt learning to navigate the back streets of Poplar and Limehouse for me, as we were diverted through Rotherhithe Tunnel, a rather narrower affair than Blackwall.
Excitingly, the Rotherhithe route takes you past the delights of the Surrey Quays Wetherspoons and Cold Blow Lane, attractions I pointed out to a frankly disinterested teenager who was wondering what we were going to do for two hours, and why I was parking my car so close to Millwall. I explained that BRAPA wouldn’t be there ’till Saturday.
I thought about finding an urchin to give a couple of quid to look after my car, but realised they only did that when the football was on. It didn’t look that scary, anyway.
We had a helpful reminder of our free parking spot, next to this fetching mural of Dickens, who wrote the unpublished “Bleak Public House” about Maidenhead here.
Just as Charles would have done before metalcore gigs, we found a Lebanese café for tea.
I’d tell you all human life was here, but it was almost entirely late teenage girls.
My spicy Lebanese salad was no match for Matt’s inevitable mixed grill.
At 6pm the roadies were setting up the PA at the New Cross Inn, which looked the part in the SE14 drizzle.
Matt suddenly realised he’d have to trudge along New Cross Road in the rain while I took photos, which annoys him intensely.
After ten minutes, during which I twice put my foot in it (literally, there were giant pools of standing water on the pavement) he said;
“Can we go Spoons for a cheeky pudding ?” That’s how kidz speak.
No Timbo outlet, weirdly, but I know an Antic that will always feed you gunk.
I kid you not, this is what the chocolate brownie (£5) looked like under my flash. Matt told me off for using my flash, even though he did it as well.
Just my luck they had Burslem’s finest the one night I was driving.
Still, I can vouch for the beer here, and anywhere that plays “Motion Sickness” by Phoebe Bridgers deserves to be in the Beer Guide. I’ll ignore the darkness, the dogs, and the bloke mansplaining the role of “Waterloo” in Abba’s success to a girl with a Hefe Weissbier.
The clock striking seven, I left Matt with clear instructions to drink water and not to spend his emergency fund on merch, and caught the (late) New Cross Gate train to London Bridge.
I’d forgot how tall the Shard was.
Driving meant no Royal Oak for me. Or Rake. Or Market Porter. Or even the craft temptations at the newish club venue at O’Meara;
A cave-like venue, songs from a new record from our greatest singer-songwriter, and no need to leave my spot the front to fight my way back to the loos after too much beer. Not a bad night.
And Matt was waiting for me at New Cross Gate, relatively unscathed by his rather noisier experience. We even made it to Harlow McDonalds before midnight, an achievement in itself.
But that’s the last time I drive him to South London.