Wednesday, January 20, 2010

On the road for the Citizens

Rearranged semi-final derby day, City’s home leg. With no Euston trains from Manchester after 8 and a need to get back to London that night, I had no option but to shit on my carbon footprint by driving solo there and back. Having done the usual by pissing around at home, stocking up on CDs and reading the City blogs with their mixture of bearish fear and bullish confidence until at 2:15pm it became imperative I go, I took a lucky omen in a banal R1 A-Z football club quiz. They got to M and the caller said City, not United.

The drive up waged the usual attrition against the soul, despite musical accompaniment including French new wave comp So Young and So Cold, R&S classics, late 90s Ideal techno (some of which hadn’t aged too well, Chris Nazuka and Isolee excepted): An hour and a half to get to the M1 from south-east London in the early afternoon, the realisation that the fifty-year-old motorway is now too small to take the weight of traffic even at that time (big up the travelling salesmen!), M6 roadworks most of the way from Stafford, congestion on the M56. The M6 toll, aka the Midland Expressway, is the only place you can make up time, and I did have time to snap this toiletry pledge in Norton Canes services:

With the sign adjacent to some heavy plastic compound, I believe their commitment amounted to piping birdsong into the loo. Quite simply, pathetic. It is my real job to publish in clear and simple English so let me also say that 'building' is always better than 'constructing'. By the time I parked up at Oxford Road for a quick Abduls with Bruce, I reckon I’d exceeded several ‘average speed checks’, had a few near misses and gone through the odd red or two. Indeed, I parked up having turned right at the Firkin not realising it’s no entry that way any more. Class. Now I know why the constant ‘keep-on-the-ball’ passenger heckling of my partner can be necessary.

Parking again nearer Ancoats Street (little swedge of a car’s wiper on his front light), I got to the game dead on time as they delayed the kick-off 15 minutes. City started too deep, were too respectful and conceded through Ryan Frigs. United fans took their customary piss for the best part of the first half. Amazing how many songs they have with us as the subject, with just a few about themselves (half-arsed creation in comfort). The patronising obsession of the superiority complex. Mancini then changed it round to 4-5-1 and we won a penalty which Tevez smashed home. Carlito got a second in the second half to stick it to their fans, ‘siraleggs’, Neville, Rooney and co. The atmosphere changed completely, City fans urging their team (Blue Moon, Come on City and We’re Not Really Here, only the lame irony of Fergie Sign Him Up and Carlos Tevez is a Blue projecting the passion onto the other team) to keep on going. We held on as United couldn’t make their possession pay. Job is only half-done but it’s just great to shut them up. Now we need another 90 minutes of catennacio to keep them shut. I got away early with the predictable sound of police sirens and City song.

Only when on the M56 did I celebrate with a sonic surge of Energy Flash, Outlander's Vamp and Didgeridoo, the car rattling all the way to the M6 and provoking memories of packed cars driving into London for the rave. I then stopped off in Burton to get some filming equipment back to McClintock director Craig, now doing well in software development. Green tea and whatever there and then testing driving round the rural and suburban roads of the A511 into Leicestershire ahead of the M1. But it’s driving in the early hours that motorways are made for. Music on full blast. Just me and the freight haulers. The trick is to lock into the neon passage of the halogen lights, to be entranced by it without trancing out. Again, this was made easier by yet more nocturnal roadworks slowing us down on occasion.

I could put the CDs on hold as Nihal then Gilles Peterson, who was going back to back to with Thom Yorke, put on a brilliant few hours of shiny One FM music. Belying his populist daytime show (though he’s no Scott Mills thankfully), Nihal had a brilliant selection of not-just-Asian street beats, the pick of them being the purple rhythm explosion of Nucleya's Beat One. Will find out more on this. Then Gilles and Thom come on with Squarepusher-esque beats, a few Floating Points (those slow woozy offbeat grooves are so deep house, not that I’m complaining), Madvilliany, Sun-Ra, Darkstar and the like. The Radiohead goes on about his experience of the Copenhagen climate wash-out, and where he gets some of his music from – Boomkat. By that stage it’s getting a bit circular with some of my own buying habits, but it’s great to affirm after all the decadal stuff that music is in fine shape. I switch to Get Lost, a Lazarus-Styles minimal and oddities comp from a years back, and finally get into London. At Blackfriars Bridge, I miss a sign for my lane but duck back in on time. The guy behind me who did the same must have been black or Asian because he got stopped. Finally back in the house at 3:45am. wired, happy and expectant for the return leg.
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