Sunday, 25 May 2014

My Nerdy Night Out

I am no fan of a Big Night Out. In fact, just a Night Out is sometimes enough to make me want to climb under the duvet and not come out until morning: proper morning where you can have egg on toast or cornflakes and do something constructive, not morning where you eat a botulism infected kebab and get into bed leaving one foot rooted on the floor to stop your drunken self being sick. So this week I was unusually excited about Friday night because this Friday night I was Going Out.
It all started with Twitter as I'm more frequently finding the best things do. Dorothy Koomson, author of my favourite book of all time was going to be at Brixton library reading from her latest novel The Flavours of Love (which is actually an emotional thriller/crime novel, not something you buy at the airport and finish in twenty unsatisfactory minutes). The event didn't start until seven so I had at least two whole hours to kill in London by myself (because I know literally no one who'd go to this with me) so after obsessively looking at the library on Google Maps full of fear of becoming lost in Brixton, I realised it was very near Coldharbour Road, which was very near to Atlantic Road, which, hang on, houses Simply Fabrics. I could go there, thought I, and then, another brain wave: 'I'm going on the Ultimate Trousers workshop at Sew Over It next week, I'll get my fabric; Clapham's not far'. So I plotted bunking off work early (I do extra every day so this isn't nearly as naughty as it sounds) and go to Sew Over It in Clapham, then Simply Fabrics in Brixton, then use Tesco clubcard points to eat out (I am that skint) and then go to the library.
I was thwarted, as usual with these plans. First, I managed to bunk off twenty-five minutes early and that's it. Then I got to Clapham North and forgot the road name for Sew Over It and the 3G wasn't working. Eventually, though, I made it to Landor Road:
So I found it and things started looking up. The shop was smaller than I expected but this was actually quite a good thing. I wanted every fabric there. There is a wide choice of designs and fabric types and I spent some time looking for the perfect fabric. I ended up with this fabric for my trousers:
and then realised that it's the same fabric from the photograph advertising the class. But the staff in the shop were so friendly and were as excited as me when I announced I was off to Brixton to Simply Fabrics.
Back on the tube, where I got shut in the door (again) because I can never hear the beeps, and off to Brixton.
I have never been to Brixton before. I have been to Vauxhall because I used to work there, but I have never gone to the end of a tube line. I was incongruous for a multitude of reasons, primarily that I was nowhere near cool enough to be walking down Atlantic Road with its reggae music and jerk chicken shops. After several near misses with traffic (the traffic lights in London make no sense to me) I made it to Simply Fabrics.
It is somewhat different inside from the trendy Sew Over It but, my word, what choice. There was so much choice that I purchased nothing. I am putting this down to cowardice and fatigue and also that they didn't have the fabric I wanted to make my Coco dress. But I spent thirty minutes playing with fabrics, wondering whether a cute white fabric with daisies printed on was too see through for a blouse with no vest (it was) and stroking silks, linens, cottons, a weird neoprene and some ready quilted tartan. I will definitely go back to Simply Fabrics, but maybe when I feel slightly less on edge from a failed early off from work and the knowledge that I was the least cool person in the whole place.
My final thwarting was that I had failed to find a Tesco ClubCard participating restaurant that didn't involve going all the way to Herne Hill to eat alone in Pizza Express and then come back to Brixton to the library. What if I didn't get served and eat in time? What if the trains weren't regular enough? What if, what if, what if? So I went to Marks and Spencer and bought a salad. This led to another conundrum - I was alone, all the benches at Brixton Oval would have involved sitting with Other People, and I absolutely hate eating in the street, much less eating standing up. So I went across the road to the church yard having spied an empty bench, which I sat on and then realised my error. To my left, a group of hobos drinking cans and making a lot of noise. To my right, a pile of discarded trainers. By this time, I was both hungry and anxious to get into the library to get a good seat so I manned up and ate my M&S food with hobos and old trainers and tried not to sink into despair that I was never at one with my environment - I'm the one eating KFC in St James' Park and M&S in the hobo's churchyard, jeans when everyone's in a frock, a frock when everyone's in their onesie.
This near despair led me to a corner shop for a Yorkie and a bar for a whisky and coke. As I was alone, I spent my time on Facebook (naturally) and reading about interwar Britain on my kindle. I was the least cool person in the bar by a country mile.
Finally, it was time to go to the library. I sat in the front row, even though I know this is not cool and even though I know that this is not the done thing. I sat next to an American lady who was a food writer (I know this people despite hating Other People, they do like to speak to me. Everyone else there must have loved Other People because no one else was getting spoken to). I was not the least cool person at the library. People were outwardly very excited. Inside, I was very excited but I like to think I looked cool, a bit.

Dorothy (feels weird just using her first name) Koomson was excellent - she read twice, answered plenty of questions and then, LOOK! She signed my copy of my favourite book of all time 'The Chocolate Run'.


And then, she let me have my photo taken with her!
 So fabric, food, alcohol, books and Dorothy Koomson: my night may have been nerdy but my god was it good.

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