Naked Lunch

An interesting couple of weeks or so. Last week I went to a sushi bar in London. The most notable feature of this restaurant is that all the kitchen staff are in the centre of the room behind a conveyor belt upon which all of the small dishes of food are precariously balanced. Rescuing a plate as it sails past your elbow can be something of an art-form. The appearance of the bar is perhaps best described as conforming to the typically kitsch Japanese preference for the synthetic over the authentic (or the faked authentic, which might described many European restaurants). One of the more unusual features of the bar was that it had a pair of robotic drinks trolleys performing a circuit round the bar. In the event that anybody got in their way the trolleys would start to vociferously. Having been informed of this in advance, our party regarded it as a point of honour to obstruct the trolleys as much as possible in order to hear what they had to say. “Get out of my way. Honestly – some people,” lisped one trolley in a voice that sounded disturbingly like a Japanese Kenneth Williams. Even more disturbing was the fact that the bar was loudly playing Abba and the Village People at the time.

Returning home quite late my arrival at the station was greeted by some football supporters starting a riot. My own view is that football simply lacks enough violence to satisfy the supporter’s need for vicarious entertainment. It may well be time to reintroduce the eminently civilised practice of throwing christians to the lions – my suspicion is that crowd violence should drop dramatically in that event.

On a similar note, I recently happened to purchase some carnivorous plants.
The shop assistant looked at the Venus Fly Trap I had selected and asked
if it was a cactus. I politely explained what it was, observing the mortified expression on her face as I did so.

On that subject, a film once told us that you’re nobody if you’re not on television. Visiting my parents recently I was able to find a somewhat disturbing confirmation of this precept. We had gone for a stroll in a nearby nature reserve. As we walked back to our car, we saw them. At first I was unable to determine why this couple walking their dog looked so out of place. Then I realised: it was precisely their intention to look out of place. To be more specific, it was their intention to look exactly like David and Victoria Beckham. The overall effect was close enough to be somewhat unsettling, and we did wonder what was the appeal of two individuals who have always seemed to me the epitome of all that is insipid and banal.

More recently, I went to attend a live performance of Howard Shore’s soundtrack for Naked Lunch, while the film itself was projected onto the screen above. In spite of his embarrassing involvement with Mrs Doubtfire, Shore is one of the few soundtrack composers of any merit (other examples perhaps being John Cale and the soundtrack for American Psycho), having first impressed himself upon me with Cronenberg’s film of Crash. The idea of performing a film soundtrack is one that is rather more common with silent films, and it was somewhat difficult to avoid concentrating so much on the film (which, unsurprisingly, has far more to do with Cronenberg than with Burroughs) that one heard very little of the score. In the case
of this particular film, Shore’s own rather brooding style sits uneasily
alongside the rather more violent jazz of Ornette Coleman (although the dissonance between the two is wholly appropriate for such a film).

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