We had a session with Emily about how themes and connections will start to emerge in our work. I realised that I had an interesting location with Village Underground and that there was something subconscious in why I liked it so much. During the class I realised that the trains were a metaphor for the whole city-rural tension in the novel — something that connects the two halves together and they were also an inversion of the natural order — underground trains being on the top of something rather than the bottom.
But other odder influences are at work in my mind. One CD I’ve been playing in the car is possibly the most untrendy album ever released by the untrendiest of the Beatles — it’s ‘London Town’ by Wings. I’ve always liked the album since I recorded it on cassette from someone over 30 years ago. It was released just after ‘Mull of Kintyre’ had become the biggest selling single ever (until Band Aid) — and this was just as punk was coming down from its heyday. There’s little classic rock/pop on the album in the mould of ‘Band on the Run’, which might have gained it fans. In fact some of the album is pretty rubbish — the Elvis style rockers for example. However, it has the fairly ground-breaking single, ‘With A Little Luck’ which is almost all synthesizers and was released a good three years before the Human League, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode and so on got started with Synth Britannia. Also, the title track ‘London Town’ that was McCartney’s first flop in years is a beautiful piece of music with Linda McCartney’s harmonies sounding beautiful, especially at the end — it’s a shame the lyrics are so ridiculous. When I’ve been walking round looking at London with an eye to finding usable locations I’ve had ‘silver rain was falling down upon the dirty ground of London Town’ going through my mind on many occasions. The main strength of the album, to me, are the four or five folk-rock tracks mainly co-written by McCartney and Denny Laine — ‘Deliver Your Children’ and ‘Don’t Let It Bring You Down’ are cracking songs. The last track, and this is the point of this diversion into ‘London Town’, is called ‘Morse Moose and the Grey Goose’ which is something of a concept song made of a few fragments but the ‘Grey Goose’ bit is a salty sea-shanty type song — complete with West Country sounding accents: ‘the Grey Goose was a steady boat, people said she’s never float, one night when the moon was high the Grey Goose flew away’.
So I’ve had this playing in my car recently.
I was writing about Kim getting herself hammered in the putative first chapter of ‘The Angel’ and I was wondering what she might drink. I thought gin maybe but opted for vodka as it’s in less need of mixers so I wondered about a suitable brand — being the proud owner of a botle of Smirnoff Blue that I bought in 1989 on my first BA staff travel flight and have never opened since. I don’t think I’ve ever actually drunk vodka at home. So I got on the Ocado website to check out some vodka brands — and there are plenty of variants with all kinds of provenance and flavours. I had to go through about 30 before I found one that I’d seen advertised in an expensive magazine like the Economist and that cost about three times the Waitrose own brand stuff. This seemed like something that might be served in the bars of Shoreditch too — it’s apparently distilled from wheat in Cognac and was sold to Bacardi as the most expensive spirit ever at $2bn apparently. The website is very Flash.
It’s called, of course, Grey Goose.