Baked in South London

Pubcast listeners will know that we’ve been baking edibles lately as we try to move away from delicious tobacco to more sustainable departures from reality. And that’s resulted in some confusing adventures for me, and for the people around me. But there are learnings to be learnt and mistakes to be made. Getting the right amount for the right occasion is a matter of trying and failing and trying again. And failing.

It takes about an hour for the enchantment to kick in, so a bite before setting out for the evening means you can arrive at the pub, meeting or funeral, secretly tripping off your tits. 

The other night, on the way to a gig in a pub in Camden, I started coming up on the train. I began to feel a little different; the mind, lively. I welcomed the feeling. It makes public transport seem like a ride. I hopped off early at New Cross and headed to the Shirker’s for a pre-pub pint of Elusive’s lush collab with Hop, Burns & Black. There I ran into Mr Celery, Cyclo, Fouldsy and an old friend, ‘Paul’, who was frustrated by his lack of nickname. 

Hello Kitty

I was flying at this point, but I think I got away with it. Something about Wayne Rooney doing a law degree. A wig on top of a wig, a granny, a purse, a leopard skin gavel. What? Time to go. I was glad to get back to the safety of the train, where I couldn’t say anything mad or inappropriate. 

I was headed to Chalk Farm, so at London Bridge it was the Edgware branch I needed, not the High Barnet. I used to have a high Barnet, I reflected. But nowadays it’s hard to get a quiff to stand up without serious product.

I checked the scoreboard on the platform. Second train, six minutes to wait. I could do that. Six minutes was actually a very long time, I found, but eventually I got on the train. When I got to King’s Cross I realised I was somehow on the High Barnet branch. No worries, I could change at Camden. Easy.

I got off. But it wasn’t Camden, I noticed. It was Euston. It’s a pig of a change there. Lengthy and confusing. But I was calm and enjoyed the walk through the busyness, moving at a different speed to the world through the myriad tunnels, unseen by and unaware of anyone around me. The Edgware branch, that was the one I needed. Good job! I got on.

When we pulled out of Camden Town, I thought to myself, ‘You’re doing grand’. Next stop Chalk Farm. Except I wasn’t on the Edgware branch. I was on the High Barnet again. How did that happen? Ah well. I could probably walk to Camden Assembly from Kentish Town, the next stop. 

“The next station is closed. This train will not be stopping at the next station.”

I thought briefly about walking from Tufnell Park, but that would have meant negotiating Google Maps and North London in an impaired condition. I got the Tube back the way I came. Back in time, perhaps. As usual, everyone seemed gloomy on the Tube. Why so glum, I wondered? At least they were going where they intended. I had been going in wrong directions all evening and I was as happy as pie. 

Changing at Camden was simple and I headed towards my actual destination at last. I’d left home early because if there’s one thing I like to do before I go to a pub, it’s go to a different pub. I can’t just go to the pub without having had a pint. Which came first, the chicken or the pint? It’s the same on the way home. I need to decompress and make the journey in stages, taking in pubs until I am eventually home, or at least in someone’s home. 

Decent

I stopped at the Haverstock Tavern for a decent ale. I don’t know if it was the beer or the weed in the brownie, but I had an urge for a rollie. All tasks are both more complicated yet more enjoyable in this condition and I congratulated myself for finding the door to the garden without having tried all the other doors in the pub at least twice. Outside though, there was nothing. Do you call this a garden, I scoffed, mystified and slightly appalled? I rolled my rollie. That’s how I roll. Then I noticed the steps to the actual garden right in front of me. If the steps had been a snake it would have bitten me, I was that close. And quite right too. 

Pints and edibles perform a little magic dance to create more than the sum of their parts. And their parts were pretty good in the first place. I went on to the Assembly. I couldn’t find my ticket on my phone but they didn’t seem to mind and let me in on the basis of having my name.

The beer was disappointing, but it was in my hand so I had to drink it. I listened to the support act. He was amazing. Funny and smart. By the third song I’d gone off him and went for a snout outside. 

Nose bleed territory

I was chatty now and got talking to a woman in London on business, making the most of her visit by taking in a gig. She was from Tel Aviv, or as she put it, “Tel-Aviv-don’t-hate-me.” 

She was very pro-ceasefire, thankfully, so we chatted. Now I had the opportunity to ask a real live Israeli what it was like to live in an apartheid state, whether she realised her government was committing genocide, if she believed Palestinians were subhuman and whether she had lost anyone on October 7th. I gave it to her straight:

“My Israeli Premier League team is Hapoel Tel Aviv,”

“Mine too,” she shrieked. And we did a little footy bonding. 

This is the level of depth I can bring to a social situation. The unfolding atrocity in Gaza had made me so angry, depressed and helpless, yet a quarter of space biscuit had moved all those feelings to a less accessible part of my brain and allowed my happy idiot to return. Yes, that’s shallow. But my fury was solving about as much, if not less, than my baking.  

I went upstairs for Craig Finn’s show. I was used to hearing him with a band, but he must have left them on Spotify, as he was alone with an acoustic. His songs are often sad and perspicacious short stories. He told tales in between them that were funny and poignant. It was a nice show. 

One of his lines hit me and I drifted off into his world:

“Rachel always recommended messing with the settings
She said it’s better than settling for whatever they give you.”

Rachel was right. And I had definitely messed with the settings.

Not a single person had their phone out to film or photograph. They’d come to listen to the songs, not to tell Instagram how cool their life is. This reminded me I should take a photo or video. Instead, I bought another beer. It wasn’t good beer but I hate it when it’s all gone. 

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