The keener eyed of you will have spotted a recent exchange in the Comments between a chap called Johnny and I.
Johnny is one of the loveliest blokes I’ve ever met. We worked together for a time, during my vacations from college and then for a year after I graduated and had nowhere else to go, in the kitchen of a Happy Eater restaurant on the A1, which connected London to Glasgow and passed by fairly close to the villages where we both lived. And yes, that fingers-down-the-throat logo up there really was the one officially selected to best symbolise the chain of eateries.
It was a shitty job, but Johnny and I had a lot of fun doing it, trying to make each other crack up as we cracked eggs, fried sausages and definitely never picked anything up off the floor and served it anyway. Nosireebob, not us.
Here’s how good mates we were:
- We went to see Sonic Youth together (support: Pavement and Huggy Bear, extra cool points there) at Brixton Academy, circa 1993
- We wrote an “alternative” company magazine together. There was an official version (The Happy Eater Hotline) which we thought was utterly dull and rubbish, as corporate circulars generally are, so produced The Happy Eater Hitline, where we slagged off and made stories up about our work colleagues. We left it, anonymously, in the staff room, and when the shit hit the fan (as it inevitably did, when someone complained about how they had been portrayed), it ended up with us being asked to write something similar to go out to the whole company. We declined: that was too corporate and very much not cool.
- Johnny was a keen photographer, and got me my first (and only) ever album review published in a fanzine he took snaps for;
- We made compilation tapes for each other.
Has friendship ever had such a symbolic gesture as a mixtape?
I still have the mixtape Johnny did for me (somewhere); the front cover is a photo Johnny took of Dave, our deputy manager at the Happy Eater (now deceased, as you may have picked up from the Comments exchange) who we loved as he would let us sit in the manager’s office (adjacent to the kitchen) and chat and smoke whilst we were supposed to be working. When I find the tape, there’s a series just waiting to be written.
As I recall, the tape was full of tunes by Johnny’s loves: Senseless Things, Jacob’s Mouse (see also: Comments), Pearl Jam/Soundgarden ‘supergroup’ Temple of the Dog, and this, which I had never heard before but, if you were unhappy about last Monday’s selection, then this should snap you right out of any ongoing malaise:
You’re awake now, aren’t you?
Happy Monday. More soon.