Chapter 5 – Introducing: The Life-Saving Flapjacks
Just to dispel any intention of mystery, the travelling quadro would be Luke, Josh, Aaron and I. Further down the line we would ultimately amalgamate with Vash’s sister Kizzy (thus, my sister) and her boyfriend Ian (thus, my sister’s boyfriend) into one drunken, travelling Cornish mess. That date would be December 5th 2011 on the King of Thailand’s 84th birthday. The only question to answer, then, is where the hell Eli fits into all of this standing around at Penzance but station at 4.30am waiting for the Megabus. I told you I digress.
Although only eighteen, Eli has given me some idea of where to get started upon our arrival in Thailand from his own previous three month stint: Koh San Road. The road itself is essentially a backpacker’s starting block with the usual tack of commodified culture. Instead of your Cornish stick of rock, you have the shock of scorpions, locusts and cockroaches to whet the palate, and in place of local theatre the ‘ping-pong show’ is ever pervasive in the onomatopoeic lip-slapping from the bait men who prowl the streets day and night ready to whisk you away in their tuk-tuk’s. The popularity of the street began maybe fifty years previously when locals realised they could rent out spare rooms to wondering travellers arriving into the south-east Asian hub. As such, it maintains an air of working-class poverty and ensures a respectable level of filth, seediness and food poisoning. Now Eli is heading solo to Morocco for a few weeks for a brief winter surfing break and with his flight landing conveniently within a couple days of our own, we have scheduled a final farewell blowout in London Town.
Apart from some general back-and-forthing, Eli’s struggle through a few doorways (the frame of his body-board-bag evoking of SpongeBob SquarePants) and a swift, recomposing Camden beer, we eventually find our London Travelodge despite incoherent directions from our flamboyantly gay bartender. But we had only booked and paid for a room for three. We hadn’t counted on Eli joining us to catch a long-awaited line-up at ‘Fabric’, the central-London club that was one of the many Mecca’s for the past, present and future of continually evolving drum and bass and dubstep scenes. Music, particularly electronic music, works akin to Darwin’s theory of evolution. Just with a little less bloodshed, an emphasis on ‘newest’ over’ fittest’, and a chemical and electronic preference over the natural and organic. By way of genre, sub-genre and micro-genres everything has a related predecessor, and is thus always somewhat inbred. Some genres can thrive only in a particular context or environment, by way of the people and the popularity of its response. And sometimes a genre branches off, develops its own sound and thus its own atmosphere and ecosystem. It becomes self-contained, but not for long. Ultimately it all becomes fertilizer and is accommodated, re-incorporated, sampled and regurgitated back into the musical circle of life. Yesterday is history, today is a gift; tomorrow is a mystery.
It’s decided that Eli will stay in our room, someway, somehow. The reception desk seems pretty watertight as we approach glass-doors which silently slide away, warmed air from within spilling out in arms against the November chill. The fog from our breath retreats back into invisibility, except for Eli’s which is a thick, smoky haze; a cigarette shrinking under a glowing, ruby tip. He sits waiting outside on a concrete garden bed, its only content a naked tree to which his blue, fading board-bag is the sky against its frail frame. With the size of his bag, and his build not far from the stick-like itself, we had considered smuggling Eli past the desk in his own luggage. But there is always that familiar moment when the fine line between genius and stupidity reveals itself and you have to settle for the more realistic, ultimately less-entertaining, approach.
We tucked the door key into the tin-foil wrapping of one of my home-made protein flapjacks which had kept us alive on the Megabus marathon (1kg rolled oats, 15 scoops whey protein concentrate, 1 jar natural peanut butter, 1 jar natural clear honey, 1 stick butter: enjoy twelve servings) and watched it fall gracefully, silver glitter refracting coarse sunlight like the re-entrance of a retired satellite. Luckily I had managed to fashion some of the most inedible, rock-like, oaten meal replacements known to the human digestive system. Whilst the foil bomb plummeted three stories, slipped through Eli’s hands and landed without recoil, only a resounding clunk, both key-card and flapjack remained intact. That flapjack would respectably become my lucky flapjack. I saved it until last. And in return, it would very soon save both mine and Luke’s lives from starvation in an utterly miserable Ukrainian motel.