May 16th: Endless Booze Above Jack the Ripper’s Dungeon of Pee.
Great beer, though.
Today's fun hostel feature: whenever a drunkard bumps into the panic bar on the fire escape every alarm in the building goes off. This happened three times during the night and twice over breakfast.
Got a text from R, who was curled in bed in Melbourne trying to stay warm. Put a smile on my face. Watched a scene unfold in the eatery as I was packing up: a tall French guy with a Seventies-era cop moustache-and-shades, wearing a blue Autobot hoodie, kaleidoscope pants and golden shoes was trying to fast-talk something out of the manager for free. As I left she came over and asked if I'd like a coffee. I explained I was okay and about to leave. She said it was on the house and I could take it with me. So that was pretty cool.
Matt was waiting for me where we agreed and he took me over to the Ten Bells just off Fournier(?) Street. Next to a Christ Church, Spitalfields. Great place to drink and in all likelihood older than my actual country. At one point I needed to use the bathroom and discovered the place was actually built atop what can only be described as a secret piss dungeon. Impressively awful enough that I had to take pictures. The only wandering monster I encountered while wading through the ammonial miasma was a half-drunk punter who clearly wondered what a man in a leather jacket was doing down here with a camera.
Matt's one of those people who are really easy to talk to, and we back-and-forthed for about ten hours about... God, what did we talk about? Travel, England, prison, relationships, absent fathers, comedy, literature, movies, life and death, photography, Cuba, France, Germany, growing up, small towns, booze, drugs, mistakes, Jack the Ripper, Huegenots, kids, cats....
He and his wife were good enough to put me up in their seriously beautiful place, two of his four cats colonised me, Matt made a tasty-as-hell fish dinner and eventually we passed out a little after midnight.
Woke this morning, had a cup of coffee, said goodbyes and wandered back down Brick Lane. The previous night Matt had pointed out the Standard as the best curry place in London. He took Tom Waits' tour manager there once and the guy was blown away. Dmetri's been telling me for nine years now that I need to get a curry from Spitalfields, and I've missed it again. It was 9am when I walked past. Even if it hadn't been shut at that hour I couldn't have faced curry for breakfast. Rather than walk staight back to Liverpool Street Station I wandered around, found Petticoat Lane as the vans were unloading the stalls for the day. Just walked around with the sun on my face. But I do want to get to the British Museum today, so I cut it short, took a few shots and then headed back to Camden.