Tangled yarns from London's passers-through

003 : Craig Mod in the basement of SOAS, Russell Square
Born in 1980 in Hartford, Connecticut, US. Craig Mod currently works as a hitotoki flagwaver. Why London? Strange connection from Tokyo. He digs the following London bits: deciphering British English, the multicultural mixing, black women with afros and British accents and the novelty of beer in movie theaters. He is, however, a bit miffed by the hit or miss food, walking through Brixton at three in the morning with a laptop in tow, that poison temptress that is Special Brew and puke on the top floors of city buses. For more info on Craig Mod you should send an email or visit craigmod.com.

image: Jonas Clemens

“Bobo-the-hobo, swag, mighty mezz. It's all there right in front.”

He (that’s me) wakes up dazed and finds seated to his right a slightly plumpy, rumpy dumpy young man with a thicky thick beard and some black rimmed glasses. This plump young fellow has carelessly lined up small sacks of the ‘ole grass, the puff, chronic, Aunt Mary. Need I say more? Yes? OK: Blue sky blonde, bomb, blunt, bobo-the-hobo, swag, mighty mezz. It’s all there right in front, right there on the coffee table, clear as can be, no mistakin’ these. This dazed fellow (your humble purveyor of this mess) who has been awoken naturally looks a tad here and there wondering if the cops are about, but this café of course has no cops. Not a cop here, no no, nope.

And where’s here? Somewhere between the sewers and sky, near the British Museum, in the basement of SOAS.[1] Rotten meat pies, worn chairs, dank and full of stink and smoke. Boys and girls of the Occidental school, brows furrowed and eyes down.

Thick young man with the glasses peels out a Rizla, pinches off a peck and rolls in a flick a not too shabby little ditty to puff on, all the while being gazed at in a dense sort of not-quite-up yet sort of way by the sleeping fellow. ‘Puff puff?’ he asks Sleepy. Drowsy Eyes nods and takes in a teeny weeny bit to be polite, just to be polite of course. He coughs a bit and hands it back. ‘Ole Thicky takes the roll and shoves it between his lips.

Drowsy Head (wishing very much to be in bed) starts a conversation to be polite, just to be polite of course.  But Beardy sizes Sleepy up. Too un-beardy thinks Beardy. Not ratty enough jackey, not scruffy enough pants. And so response after response Beardy weights his words with just the right amount of disinterest.

But Beardy, in a one word jab, reveals a stint in America. Oh, Beardy, do tell Drowsy Eyes why you were there? Oh, ‘twas nothing. Nothing at all. Was just about, around and doing my thing in the ‘ole California. My thing up near the good Berkeley you know. A smoke here and a thought there. Sporting nothing short of a beardy beard and my scruffs.

Drowsy pokes a bit more with a word here (and there), and in a slip of the lip, Beardy reveals he was nothing more than schooling while his mum took on her PhD.[2] Of course, this lets a bit of the old dust out from beneath the floorboards and Beardy backs away saved by a certain young fellow dressed all shabby and tattered, carrying a shaker in one hand and a coffee in the other, reaching out with a bill between the shaker and pulling back with a sack.

A class lets out and our pal Drowsy watches the crowd roll in, with smart-dressed heads to one side and the rattered, tattered shaker boys and girls comin’ this way, eyein’ Beardy and smirking and smiling and laughing about. They sit and ignore Drowsy, rattle their spoons and start to swoon with that blue sky blonde.

referenced works

  1. SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies) has long been a hotbed of radical left-wing thought and the accompanying drug use that lends such political views their air of unassailable credibility. The school’s bar, through an obscure legal loophole, was able to offer marijuana smokers an almost entirely safe haven until a university-wide smoking ban in 2005 sent its ubiquitous gaggle of dreadlocked trustafarians packing for good.
  2. Although our bearded friend is clearly reluctant to reveal that he is not the working class hero most such denizens of SOAS would like to be seen as, he need not worry. Far greater than he have pretended to be impoverished political freedom fighters during their time at the university, including children of ambassadors, lords of the realm, and even foreign royalty.

location information

  • Name: the basement of SOAS
  • Address: 10 Thornhaugh St, London, WC1H 0XG
  • Time of story: Morning
  • Latitude: 51.52228257089722
  • Longitude: -0.1286172866821289
  • Map: Google Maps



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