Eating My Way Down Goldhawk Road 2
There is something about large organisations. I really resent handing money over to them and it is especially true of phone companies. This is one reason why I no longer have broadband at home and that Ariana at Goldhawk Road is, for me, a kind of office. I write a list of all the online tasks I need to do before I go there and leave when they are completed. It does away with all the broadband time-wasting which can eat into a day spent working at home. Ariana is not one of those internet cafe with dreary rows of computers. There are a couple of computers but it is best suited for the laptop-and-sofa kind of working. They also provide printing, writing paper, envelopes and pens so I don’t need to keep a stock of stationary. It is run by three Afghan brothers with various helpers one of whom is Kathia, a young SpanIsh woman with a husky voice. If a Spanish woman doesn’t have a husky voice I feel a little disappointed. Kathia does not disappoint.
Previously, Ariana was called Pacific Net and was run by a Kurdish family. They were forced to leave by a bullying local council and the local library service. There is a an important rule in business: don’t compete with your customers. Someone should tell that to London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. Book lending has declined significantly over the years so the local library moved in to records and CDs. Result: all music retail shops in the borough closed. They then went into video and DVD. Result: all video shops shut down. Then they started to become internet cafes. At first, the family-run operations held out but then the libraries, greedy for market share, allowed the first half hour of computer use to be free. The family-run cafes could not compete and so Pacific Net, who were paying thousand of pounds a year in business rates, had to to call it a day.
I used to love libraries but now I just don’t see the point of them. Last year I borrowed Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall but they refused to let me renew it because someone else wanted to borrow it. Being able to renew a book is a basic function of a public library. This must happen a lot when a book is both long and popular. Thankfully, I wasn’t that bothered because I think Woolf Hall is over-rated. Thanks to the Library Service I didn’t get to read the last hundred pages so there is the possibility that the novel redeemed itself at the end but I doubt it.
This week, I asked if they had a copy of Joseph Conrad’s Almayer’s Folly. The reply was: ‘Sorry we don’t do it.’ instead of ‘We’ll see if we can track down a copy for you’. I have vowed never to bother with the service again. It would be much easier and cost-effective if the Government contracted a company like Amazon to provide a mail order service.
Looking for Almayer’s Folly was part of my Year of Conrad project. At the beginning of the year I resolved to read nothing but Conrad. There is so much written about him that I decided to keep my comments brief and personal. The two big complaints about Conrad is that he is overly serious and difficult to read. Conrad is a Modernist in that he often deliberately obscures a narrative for artistic effect. I started the Conrad series with Lord Jim because that is regarded the as the novel that launched him as a literary great. The idea was to read the canon in chronological order but it hasn’t worked put that way. His first two novels were set in Malaya and are known, unremarkably, as his Malay novels. They are Almayer’s Folly and The Outcast Of The Islands. I read the latter first which is a pity because they should probably be read in order because one of the principal characters in The Outcast of The Islands is a man called Almayer so it seems to be a sequel.
Another reason for using Ariana as an office is the lunch. The time taken to shop, cook and clear away can eat into the working day and I am determined to make a more effective use of my two days a week I work from home, managing Chico Chica, my Latin/Lounge/Jazz band. It’s strange that a trio should have three genres but remember it is a trio and Barbara Snow best represents Latin, I represent Lounge and Hilary Cameron, Jazz. The new album will have songs sung in three languages: English, French and Spanish. That’s enough about the number 3. One thing I have noticed about the live music scene is that it is now much, much more difficult to get the diary full than it was back in the ’80s and ’90s. There used to be so much more work in bars, restaurants, pubs, hotels and night clubs. There also seemed to be more work in parties and weddings as well as in the thriving corporate hospitality industry. My hunch is that there is a shift away from naffness and white-suited function bands playing ‘Celebration’. There is a much stronger demand for authenticity and this is the thinking behind the album project.
My favourite Ariana lunch is the lentil ravioli. No doubt it has a proper Italian name but I don’t know what it is. Weekday lunch is the meal to eat here. They close at 8pm and there is a limited selection of hot food at the weekend. I usually sit on the sofa at the back. Feel free to introduce yourself if you visit.