Wasn’t full strength, but the least painful (in terms of not feeling well) RHLSTP for a month! And a real honour to meet Suggs, who is still a scamp after all these years! And lots of fun to chat with Sophie Duker about the differences in our generations and how jealous I am of all the pansexuality going on.
Watching the recent Madness documentary and listening to Suggs’ autobiography I got a real sense of how important the band was to people (especially) of my generation, but they continue to make new music and there were younger fans there too. The stories from before the band made it big are a real snapshot of 1970s Britain and how tough things were for the young especially. And Madness are a shaft of illuminated nuttiness to lift us out of that quagmire. I realised that when I think of my schooldays it is the music of Madness that accompanies it.
As I left to get the tube up to my car in North London, I was walking through the tunnels of Leicester Square and a young man was bouncing a basketball along the corridor. He didn’t look like he’d just come from a match and was dressed in regular/work clothes and he wasn’t bouncing the ball with a sense of fun or joie de vivre or with a nod to the fact that this wasn’t normal. He was bouncing it quite mechanically and aggressively, with no mirth in hie eyes and if anything a sense of menace. I couldn’t work out what he thought he was doing or why he had a basketball or why he bounced it with such a lack of artistry, but I suspect he was looking for trouble, hoping to get a comment or for someone to accidentally touch the ball so he could start something.
That’s what it felt like anyway.
But my overwhelming urge, having played basketball with Phoebe, was to attempt to steal the ball from him and then bounce it down the corridor in the other direction: to turn this weirdness into an opportunity for a game. He could try and chase me and get it back, but I would do my best to outrun him and then, when at the platform, in a further display of skittish fun I would throw the ball on to the tracks and declare that I was winning one nil (the fact that this isn’t how basketball is scored made that even more appealing).
It would absolutely be the most stupid thing to do, like poking a stick into a beehive and rattling it around and I knew that I mustn’t even catch the weird basketball man’s eye, but that just made the idea more funny and appealing. And what if he didn’t try to kill me. What if the other late night tube travellers loved the idea and joined in and we ended up passing the ball and having fun. It could be the greatest spontaneous sporting moment since the Germans and the British soldiers played football in no-man’s land.
On the other hand he might stab me in the eye.
I went on my way without shooting some b-ball outside of the tube.
Next week’s RHLSTP guests are sorted out - I will be talking to Rhys James and Janet Ellis. Come along if you can.