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Posted on Jan 5th, 2009
New Year’s Day, Vegan, Unemployed, The Diary


It is nearly 6 pm and I still have a headache from too much Peroni last night. It is very nice, that draft Peroni. Bridie and I (that’s us in the photo) saw in the New Year at our local pub, dancing to the traditional hootenany sounds of Midnight Oil, Ray Parker Jnr and Desmond Dekker. The DJ’s technique was to have Stevie Wonder’s Greatest Hits permanently in one deck and then to change selections in the other. Hence every other song was from little Stevie. Is it normal to announce at 5 to 12 that the bar will close at quarter to 12 so that the staff can have a drink and see in the New Year? Aside from announcing it after it had happened, surely the one time you definitely want a bar to be open is round midnight on 31 December? Still, we had a brilliant time, and were last ones out, by which time we had both developed seemingly unstoppable hiccoughs.
Today, New Year’s Day has been very very cold and very very grey. We went for a walk round Whitehall and Westminster to shake hangovers. All was quiet, as Bono predicted. He stood on my foot once, in the bar in that hotel which they own in Dublin. He was heading through to the bar with that chap from The Waterboys, when he trod on me. He did stop and apologise though. He has probably been dining out on the story of how he stood on Shirley Lee ever since.
Could be a quiet night in with a movie or two tonight, I am feeling decidedly queasy…
We have decided to go Vegan for the month of January. I do not anticipate this being too hard as I have been Vegetarian since the age of 20, but we shall see. I think having to have Soya Milk in coffee will be the main thing, although I have just realised that honey is out too. We are doing it out of interest really, giving things up for a while makes you think about what you are consuming. We cut out wheat in October – it didn’t make much difference to us except that it was bloody inconvenient. It was very interesting though to figure out which things did or did not contain wheat. The hard one for me will be giving up alcohol for a while; we are thinking of doing this for Lent. We briefly considered axing alcohol for January, but the prospect of a long cold month including my birthday, with no booze seemed unappealing. Especially as I am now unemployed.
Last year I worked for a company called EUK. They were a wholesaler of CDs, DVDs and Games, buying them at advantageous prices from suppliers then preparing them for the shopfloor and selling them onto retailers including Woolworth, Zavvi, WH Smith and Sainsbury. They crashed and went into administration about a month ago. The administrators moved in and tried to sell the business, but failed. Nobody at work knew what was happening, communication was poor and rumours were rife. On Wednesday 10 December signs appeared in the canteen saying that Christmas lunch would now be served the next day. Canteen staff were openly discussing the fact that they had been asked not to provide food for the following week. On the Friday we were all called into one of the warehouses and told that the company was insolvent and that we no longer had jobs, no notice, no redundancy. There was a lot of tears and a lot of anger, directed both at the administrators for not managing to sell what was a profitable business, and also at the board for allowing it all to happen.
EUK had supplied about a quarter of the market in Britain, but it was part of the Woolworth group. Woolworth had been struggling for a while and had drawn up various plans to re-invent themselves, but as the recession took hold during the year, suppliers found they could no longer get insurance for doing business with them, or EUK. This meant that purchasing had to be managed on a weekly or even daily basis, which proved very difficult going into the busiest and most expensive time of the year. It got to the point where the cash needed to move forward was too great, and there was no choice except for both companies to go into administration. Neither company was sold and Woolies are about to shut their doors for ever on Sunday. A small team are dealing with the stock left at EUK. Zavvi have gone into administration too, as a knock-on effect of EUK going under. They follow all the other chains of record shops who have gone over recent years: MVC, Our Price, Virgin, Fopp, along with a host of Indie stores. This leaves HMV with a high street monopoly. They should be safe, for a few years at least.
In addition to this, Pinnacle went bust last month. They were the main distributor of Indie music in the UK, including our hitBACK label. This signals the end of an era. The music will still be made, but there is now a very narrow route into high street shops. We will be buying the weird and wonderful online – there will now be no alternative. I will miss being able to browse Indie CDs and LPs, but there is no point moaning about progress, it was inevitable that this would happen sooner or later, it is just that the recession has made it happen now.
So, I am out of work, and considering what to do next. Of course, my ideal would be to focus on writing full-time, and not get a day job, but this does not stack up financially. We live in a small flat in Shepherds Bush and we really like it, but the rent is high. I fear I have no choice but to look for another job. We are also considering moving out of London – it would make sense to be nearer to my mother in Yorkshire, as she is 80 and lives alone. I do not think that would damage the band, after all Ronan has lived in Hastings for a couple of years, he just comes up to London for rehearsals etc. It all needs some thought, and I need to sort it out by February, or money will run out. I should get some time during January to do some writing though, which will be a treat.
I plan to write this diary this year only and then stop. I will aim to write at least one entry each week, and to be honest about what is happening, hopefully capturing what it is like to be me in London in 2009. I find when I read other people’s diaries, that it is the day to day things that are of interest, so I make no apology for talking about the mundane. There will also be a lot of jibba-jabba about movies, which is a particular passion of Bridie’s and mine.
I remember reading in Brian Eno’s diary that one day he got up and decided to try drinking a glass of his own urine to see if it had efficacious effects. Perhaps I will try that…
But then, where would I get a glass of Brian Eno’s urine?


I’ve got a fridge full of the stuff, Shirl. I’ll cab a few bottles over.

• Posted by Rhodri Marsden at 12:33 pm on Jan 5th, 2009

Don’t you make a lovely couple.

Maybe you should start touring again now you’re at a loose end, even if it’s just on your own (especially as you’ve got a solo album on the way)?

Good luck, whatever you decide to do.

• Posted by Simon B at 7:25 am on Jan 6th, 2009
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