Time Out’s Executive Editor Michael Hodges has been dallying with danger so you don’t have to. This week’s thing not to do in London – No 921 find that brilliant party
‘It’ll be great,’ I tell her.
‘Hmm, I’m not sure,’ she replies.
‘No, really,’ I insist. ‘This sounds like just your sort of party. I promise, you’ll have a really good time.’
I really would like her to come to the party. I want to prove that it is possible to go out with me and have a nice time. So far, after several attempts, I haven’t managed it. Every date I have taken her on has proved to be a disappointment to her.
The first was the worst. A surprise visit to a trad jazz club in Beckenham, where she paused just before we arrived and said, ‘I’m game for anything apart from trad jazz.’
Then there was the disastrous day of inner-city angling on the River Wandle. ‘What made you think I’d like to go fishing in Wandsworth?’
‘But I bought you some waders!’
That was followed by the very short lunch at the insect restaurant. ‘I am not putting them in my mouth.’
‘But they’re dipped in chocolate!’
‘They have antennae!’
None of these worked out well, failing, as they all did, to feature any of her core interests: repetitive beats, non-insect-based food andjugs of alcohol. Now, unaccountably, I have been invited to a fashionable party in a cool East End pub. This is my chance to impress her.
‘No, really, you’ll love it,’ I continue.
‘Will I? I’m not sure. We don’t like the same things. I mean, you really hate trance, don’t you?’
‘No, no. Trance is great.’
‘So will there be trance?’
‘There’ll be trance coming out of your ears. Crunk as well. And a fair amount of slonk.’
‘There’s no such thing as slonk.’
‘It won’t be like that trad jazz club you took me to in Beckenham?’
‘Nothing like that. It’s not in Beckenham for starters, and it’s out east. The cool East End. Everyone will be hip.’
‘You won’t be hip.’
‘Well, everyone else. And there’s food as well as music.’
‘“Retro English summer classics”.’
‘Does that mean there will be Eton mess and Pimm’s?’
‘Baths of the stuff. Gallons of it.’
‘Hmm. Okay then.’
‘Great. I’ll meet you outside Whitechapel tube.’
I print the details and rush out of the office. On the tube I discover I have left the details on my desk. No problem, I can remember where it is. But 20 minutes after we meet at Whitechapel, I realise that I can’t.
‘Are you sure you know where it is?’ she asks. ‘Oh yes.’
‘Are we nearly there?’
‘It’s just round the corner,’ I reply.‘This corner here.’
It’s a gamble. It doesn’t come off. When we turn the corner we don’t find the hippest, most happening fun party in east London, we find a cul-desac, at the end of which is a small pub. Somehow this pub has avoided the tide of trendification that has swept through the surrounding streets. The woodwork is not painted in Farrow & Ball grey. The exterior is not hung with vintage-print bunting but carries a line of faded plastic union jacks above a blackboard, which announces ‘All TV sports here’. Entering the bar we find one other customer: a man of advanced years in a vest, swearing at his pint. In a display case on the bar five bluebottles do battle over a cheese bap that is embellished with a smear of margarine carrying a large thumbprint. ‘“Retro English summer classics”,’ says my date, not without bitterness. The man breaks into song.
‘Ah,’ she adds. ‘Slonk.’
Read more of Michael’s mad loves and cultural mishaps here.