What is it about the word generic? It seems to have replaced general in the sense that an info@ email address is described as generic rather than general. Well that’s my generic feeling. Playing at parties is an important part of Chico Chica’s work but usually has to be done through agents and they tell me clients insist on generic music because they want to know what to expect. So jazz trio cannot feature a harp or a Soul function band cannot slip a bit of Prog Rock in the set and hope no-one will notice. Being generic irons out all the quirks and idiosyncrasies that make life and music interesting. So if life is dull it’s because people don’t like surprises.
My big surprise with Renezio was that there were no surprises. It is a generic Italian restaurant. It’s a little bit of a throwback to the time when there were a lot more Italian restaurants. In the ’80s there were more Italian restaurants in London that in any other city in the world though I am not sure if that included Pizza take-away shops.
For those of you who enjoy lists, here is one I have compiled. It is called, The Ships in Joseph Conrad’s Novels and What Happened to Them. I should also record the names of the ships, the captains, the cargo and the ports of embarkation and destination. That will have to wait for another time.
– abandoned in the mistaken belief it was sinking.
– catches fire and sinks.
Heart of Darkness
– starts off sunk, the Captain fixes it, then goes to fetch a man who then dies.
The End of a Tether
– deliberately sunk as an insurance fraud.
Nigger of the Narcissus
– survives a storm and a sick man dies.
– survives a storm but Chinese passengers suffer the most.
– crew of becalmed sailing ship incapacitated by fever.
In one Author’s Note Conrad came up with a comment on literary theorizing. (If you are an academic, look away now):
‘It is an amusing and egotistical occupation of no use whatever to anyone and just as likely as not to lead to false conclusions.’
Renezio looks just as a 1980s Italian restaurant ought to look. That’s not a criticism, in fact it’s quite nostalgic. The food was reasonably priced and the service was efficient though a little joyless. I chose Spaghetti Vongole and did some menu modeling. By this I mean, I study the dish carefully and see if I can replicate it in my kitchen. I have done this very successfully with the Nando’s chicken and couscous salad.
The conversation centered on the two big, current projects in my life: the refurbishment of my home and recording Chico Chica’s debut album. The former is currently at its nadir, by that I mean the home looks as unhomely as I have ever seen it. It’s just rubble and builders’ tools. It’s a little upsetting to see it like this. It’s like seeing a good friend undergoing major surgery. Italian comfort food was much needed.
As a topic of conversation, the album was short-lived as I was reminded by my companion that it is ill-mannered to talk shop over dinner. But I’m an artist, I protested, – we don’t do social conventions and besides it’s not as if I work in a paper clip factory. The album project is at the rehearsal stage and oh what fun it is!