Wednesday, 18 December 2013

a little jar of sticky memories

Lately, many of my London journeys have taken me through the hipster valley of Shoreditch/Hoxton. In terms of being able to fit a little street art/graffiti photography into my working day, this has been very good news. So I've been going positively bonkers on Instagram over the last few weeks.

The single most productive spot for me has been Blackall Street, a tatty little alleyway not far from Great Eastern Street. Almost every available surface is decorated and it seems like there is fresh activity most nights of the week. New stuff seems to pop up on pretty much a daily basis. Spotted this week: a little piece by the prolific street artist Bortusk Leer.  The object depicted is something like a jar of Marmite or Bovril. Perhaps the latter, given that the label says EXTRACT OF BEEF CURTAIN.

This smutty expression transported me almost twenty years into the past, to a notable day on which a mispronounced version of that term was the cause of much hilarity for some. I was, that day, one of the weaker links in a seven-a-side football team playing in tournament on the rutted, unloved pitches of some university sports club in Kraków. My team mates were fellow Brits living in the city. We were the only non-Polish team, the other outfits including a group of (beatable) taxi drivers and a group of (bulky, intimidating) police officers. With one exception, no one in our side had paid any attention to the matter of the teams in the tournament having been given names. That exception was a guy named Phil. He had registered us as participants in the tournament and had deliberately failed to mention the team name that he had chosen. It was only when the results of the first tranche of games were read out over a crackly loudspeaker that the rest of us finally got to hear his joke. We were Beef Curtains F.C. That this meant nothing to any of our opponents only added to the hilarity of the gag for Phil and the other couple of goons who thought that our team name was the funniest thing ever. I thought I'd forgotten this entirely meaningless incident. But some things just stick.

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