For the love of the Ivy

It’s been a sort of West End/East End week for me over the past few days. There have been many exciting adventures, some of which the world is not yet ready for. You’ll have to forgive the “edited highlights” nature of today’s entry, I fear.

The Ivy

I'd only had two pints when I took this. For Christ's sake.

On Wednesday, I found myself in an unusual environment, namely the Ivy. Now, I know what you’re thinking – how does scum like me get invited to the Ivy? Well, this is what we might term a blog crossover event, because it’s thanks entirely to Shoinan that I ended up there. Shoinan’s girlfriend was some distance away in one of those non-London places, and so he found himself with a spare ticket to a party held by Activision to promote whatever it is they do.

Ah, Wikipedia tells me that they produce games except – and this is the clever thing – the games are played using a computer especially designed for playing such games. The complexity of these electronic devices is such that games more advanced than even Cluedo can be played upon them, utilising a television set. I don’t understand this myself, but I have no doubt that these “con souls” will soon become commonplace.

The evening began in Leicester Square, where my choice of footwear caused me to reflect that there are few worse sensations in life than cold, wet feet. I also discovered that the soles of those boots were so very smooth that I considered selling them to NASA to see if they might be used on the outside of spacecraft. Shoinan and I had dinner and a couple of drinks in a rather indifferent South Indian restaurant (my suggestion, I’m afraid) – if you want a good curry, go to Tooting or Southall. Then, after some attempts to remember where the Ivy actually was, we headed to the party.

On the way, Shoinan explained the basics of Activision to me. They were responsible for the Guitar Hero series (I understand Steam Calliope Hero comes out in the autumn), various Star Wars games and something featuring quite a lot of Spider-Man. Apparently among gamers they are regarded as somewhat moneygrabbing – I am told their CEO has gone on record as saying that he doesn’t much like gamers. Shoinan compared attendance at this event to “partying on the Death Star.” But for free beer, frankly I’d not only party on the Death Star, I’d be part of the group of drunks blowing up a planet just for the hell of it. Spiking Darth Vader’s drinks. If he noticed, I’d be all, “Ah, the Force is strong in this vodka and Coke.”

I do not remember taking this picture. What is this.

Contrary to popular belief, and I say this as a total outsider to the scene, professional gaming types are not the total social outcasts you’d think from hanging out on the Internet. All the ones I’ve met have been delightful, friendly people with a good sense of humour. Sure, there are people who conform to the stereotype, but you’ll get that in any subculture. Speaking as someone who’s into London, cartooning and railways, I can confirm this to be so. The only person I found unlikeable at this event was a young lady who, like me, appeared to have been invited almost by accident – one of these “Well of course I’m far too cool for all this” types. I always think if you’re not going to go with the flow, of course you’re not going to have a terrible time.

We were there until the end, having exhausted the possibilities of free beer and having explored the frankly baffling toilets. Had anyone observed me trying to figure the handbasin out, they would have been put in mind of the early scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. You know that bit, where the apeman tentatively picks up a bone, plays around with it for a bit, then invents tool use? Like that, only with an expensive handbasin.
We staggered back to Tottenham Court Road (I think – I don’t remember clearly, but as Shoinan lives on the Central Line and I live on the Northern, that would have made the most sense). The following day, I reflected that there is a worse sensation than cold, wet feet, and that’s being hungover at work.
Yesterday, without any forward planning as such, I ended up not far from Tottenham Court Road. You see, a friend of mine is having a wedding on Wednesday (yeah, I know, second wedding in a month, they’re dropping like ninepins), and I needed an outfit.
Well, I did have an outfit planned. The jacket was good. The shirt was good. The cravat was good (indeed, I’d tested it on Wednesday and received positive feedback from total strangers). The waistcoat – ah, there’s the rub. See, the one disadvantage of losing weight is that you have to buy an awful lot of new clothes. My waistcoats all hung off me, even tightened to their fullest extent. And for some reason, stylish waistcoats in my size are impossible to get. I searched many vintage shops – all were too big, too small or too horrid. I am now classed as “average size,” so what the hell people.
Eventually I found what I was looking for in Camden – a rather pimp-looking silver waistcoat. One problem – it was missing a button. Button, button, who has buttons? Well, Berwick Street in Soho (seen in the photo above) has a few tailors and, as I recalled, a few ancillary shops. I found appropriate buttons in The Cloth House.
Might I just say that, of all the insufferable students, I think fashion students might be the worst? I studied drama myself, and one of the reasons I didn’t pursue a career in acting was because the idea of spending the next 50 years surrounded by dramaramas was a bit too much to bear. So I know whereof I speak when it comes to annoying students, is what I’m saying. Politics students are pretty irritating – lots of opinions, little experience. Art students are fairly dreadful. But fashion students may, I think, take the biscuit. They exist and the intersection between know-it-all arts students and fucking hipsters. In the fairly short time I spent in The Cloth House, I got more exposure than any one man should have to very loud and bitchy opinions on unimportant subjects. I visited the hospital on the way home, though, and they think I’ll be fine.
Now, students, lest you think I’m being patronising, or maligning you unfairly, I say this – wait until after you graduate. Within a week, you will share my opinions on students. Sad but true.
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Filed under Arts, Booze, Camden, Current events, Fashion and trends, Food, Geography, London, Politics, Rambling on and on, Randomness, Shopping, Soho, Weird shops, West End

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