With its problems of prostitution and drug-dealing, King’s Cross in London had reached the end of the line, but £3bn of investment and an influx of artists and creative minds are changing the perception of this former no-go zone
By Lee Gale
In the not-too-distant past, when trains operated in pizzazz-free “rail blue”, King’s Cross in London was Hell’s waiting room, a den of iniquity with a dilapidated rail terminus and derelict goods yard at its core. It was unwise to hang about in N1. Travellers from the north arrived at the station, moved with the crowd towards an Underground exit and kept a tight guard of the money in their pocket.
While the weather did its best to ruin the superb Festival No.6 in north Wales, GQ took shelter with Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa and Father Ted director Declan Lowney, culminating in a Q&A on Sunday evening at Portmeirion’s majestic Piazza stage
Words Lee Gale
On The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan’s lavish 17-part cult spy series of 1967, there isn’t much in the way of relentless precipitation halting No.6’s daring attempts to escape the Village. It’s all well and good proclaiming, “I’m not a number, I’m a free man!” and scowling in a defiant manner when a Mini Moke approaches, but when the rain’s falling so hard that lyns form around your walking boots and the wind’s toppling metal fencing in a furious show of intent, there isn’t much you can do other than flap open an umbrella and hope that you’re not carried into the sky like Mary Poppins. Let it be said that at Festival No.6 – the nation’s most eccentric and all-round fun cultural gathering – it knows how to rain.
By Lee Gale
One of the main problems with casual fashion is that the Iberian peninsula and, by association, South America, holds too much sway over the way the British currently dress. Where once our fashion pointers were derived from All Creatures Great And Small, golf or WWII armed forces, today’s High Street hotsteppas are more likely to resemble Mario Kempes on a post-Argentina ’78 beach holiday.
After phenomenally successful Big Beach Boutique shows on the pebbles of Brighton seafront, Fatboy Slim makes a hometown comeback with Big Beach Bootique 5, two nights of DJ goal-lagging at Brighton & Hove Albion’s Amex Stadium
Slashing rain, and Brighton & Hove Albion in their new Amex Stadium are running out of viable ideas against a determined West Ham side whose average height seems to be that of King Friedrich Wilhelm I’s Prussian Infantry Regiment No 6 – the “Potsdam Giants”. Nil-one and an electronic indicator reveals to the assembled 20,686 that there will be eight minutes of injury time. West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has sworn at the fourth official at every juncture during the 90 minutes – world-class foulmouths can be entertaining ogres – and he swears again: “F*** that!” Brighton boss Gus Poyet, who had earlier blown a raspberry at the fourth official, now applauds and begins whistling at his players like they are obedient working dogs. But Brighton haven’t the rufty-tuftiness to break down that great, claret, Sbobet-sponsored wall. West Ham are impenetrable, a Thames Barrier across the seasider’s turf.
“Rick Waller? Fat fella on Pop Idol? Yeah, he was great. Kraftwerk? Never heard of them. Were they dancers on Britain’s Got Talent?” It’s easy to say there’s no hope for civilisation when educated people in top jobs speak this way. The ideal solution would be to take these ne’er-do-wells into a study, reach for a cane, and, while striking that sorry rump, repeat, “’Numbers’, ‘The Model’, ‘Pocket Calculator’, ‘Tour De France’, ‘Home Computer’,” hoping that a physical chastising in the quiet of your low-lit cultural headmaster’s office might open minds to music away from the ongoing Opportunity Knocks-plus karaoke pap of ITV1.
But you can’t lay hands on people these days, not in the workplace. All you can say is, “You want to get yourself on iTunes and open those big, flappy ears of yours.”
Feuds, addiction and beautiful bass lines – muscle-bound Salfordian Peter Hook discusses his new Joy Division memoir Unknown Pleasures, his plans for a New Order book and how his lawn-raking technique mirrors his low-slung playing style
For 32 years, there has been an otherworldly mist shrouding Joy Division, a lingering pall blanketing the memory of one of Britain’s most innovative bands. Various informed writers and film-makers have positioned gigantic wind machines by this immovable bank of fog but have invariably failed to give a true indication of what life in Joy Division was actually like. Much has been made of the elegiac soundscapes created by the foursome, of Martin Hannett’s insane production techniques and Ian Curtis’ deeply troubled lyrics, but until now the minutiae of band life, like the inability of drummer Stephen Morris to maintain a safe driving distance behind other vehicles and the semi-submerged bath-time dining habits of guitarist Bernard Sumner, have remained a prisoner of time. What was needed was a band member’s memoir – and now one has arrived.
The Guardian’s The Guide, 2007
You’d need to know New Order’s back catalogue
with McWhirter-like obsession to realise that the soundtrack to the Indesit
Moon washing machine commercial is Hey Now What You Doing from the 2005 album
Waiting For The Sirens’ Call. New Order and white goods – let’s Hoover up the
irony. I once asked bassist Peter Hook if drugs were ever a problem with the
band, and he replied; “Yeah, sometimes we couldn’t get hold of any for days.”
With its round window and centred, circular dial, the
curiously-named Moon resembles an Apple creation: it’s an iPod that’ll soak
your big, baggy Eddie Yates underpants. It costs £280 at one large supermarket
and comes with an A+ for energy saving, A for wash efficiency and B for its
spin. That’s all well and good, but is Indesit now targeting the potentially
lucrative market of students and football hooligans?
The word on the Manc grapevine reckons the Italian kitchen
appliance giant may be perilously short of stock – by now, New Order will have
sorted out Indesits for themselves, all their families, Bez, Shaun, Mani, MC
Tunes, Johnny Marr, Tony W, Fat Neck, Sir Bobby, A Certain Ratio, The Smashing
Pumpkins, Anton Corbijn, Deborah Curtis, the One True Saxon office, Jayne who
does their press, and all their mates’ mams in the north-west. You watch. Due
to freebies, Indesit will end up making a 5p loss on every washing machine they
make. Let’s recap. Blue Monday has been used on Sunkist and Mars ads, and Hey
Now What You Doing for Indesit. What’s next? Everything’s Gone Green for the
Kraftwerk in pants, and a grade two back’n’sides: there’s nothing Bad Lieutenant’s Bernard Sumner regrets, he tells Lee Gale
Snow is falling Christmas-card style in Kensington, an apt real-time video if you’re listening to the icy tinkles of an ARP Omni 2 synthesizer on one of Joy Division’s more elegiac compositions. Sickeningly, the sullenness is shattered as that ode to sad ski holidays, “Last Christmas” by Wham!, thumps through the flurry. Beyond the reach of Michael and Ridgeley’s mulled-wine mitherings sit the toasty Warner Bros offices, where, surrounded by biscuits and Peter Saville artwork, rests Joy Division, New Order and Bad Lieutenant drummer/keyboardist Stephen Morris. He’s wearing chunky Caterpillar boots, hardly surprising as Macclesfield resembles Lapland right now.
“You’ll never guess where Bernard Sumner [Morris’ bandmate] is at the moment,” says a black T-shirted music exec. “Going round the world on a yacht.” It’s in stark contrast to Morris, who is meeting GQ.com to discuss +-, a boxset of Joy Division seven-inch records he’s remastered with Frank Arkwright – a sound engineer notable for his work with Warp Records. It’s a must for serious collectors, but will Santa decipher the peculiar positive/negative symbols on Christmas lists?
That’s the elves’ problem, not yours.
GQ.co.uk advertorial, December 2016
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