Sunday, May 17, 2015

Englishman at large in Grant Park

"Reg Prescott" - Kenny Everett's inept DIY expert.

Plastering is "mudding," filler is "caulk" and skirting boards are "trim" - welcome to DIY in the USA. 


My new office.  Note stippling (since removed). 

But I am not doing all of the home improvements on my Jack Jones. As I blog, highly civilized Mexicans are sanding the lofty heights of my 1920 house. It is a job, I am told, that will only take two to three days to complete. Nonetheless, the house is covered in dust, the cat is hiding in the towel basket of the master bathroom and I am unable to do any proper work until the Mexicans have removed all of the stippling and popcorn. Languid after all this DIY, I stepped out to recce the amenities of my new hood.


Stone Soup in Grant Park

Having a local cafe to go and read the latest issue of the Economist is a necessity for the Male Trailing Spouse. One establishment, a three minute walk from HQ in Grant Park, is Stone Soup, a cafe and restaurant with a fully licensed bar. Stone Soup has become a regular haunt this last month because it reminds me of a couple of places back home in England that no longer exist - the Sunshine Cafe on Lark Lane in Liverpool and Cafe Grove on Portobello Road in London. My regular tipple is a latte and a "buzz boy club sandwich."   


Octane Coffee and Little Tart Bakeshop in Grant Park

Another place popular with the white hipster demographic of Grant Park is Octane and the Little Tart Bakeshop. I am not too keen on these establishments - both of which share the same business space.  The coffee at Octane is expensive and the servings stingy. Worse still, the place is full to the gunwales with poseurs and bearded twats straight out of Shoreditch in East London. That said, Octane is a fun place to go and laugh at the bright young things and, though pricey, some of the pastries from the Little Tart Bakeshop are simply to die for. 

Front yard of the crazy house on Carroll Street

Just down the road, past the historic Oakland Cemetery, is Carroll St in neighboring Cabbagetown.  Carroll Street has odd echoes and fragments that remind me of Woolton Village in Liverpool. 


The house on Carroll Street

There is a small park with cankered oaks strangled by ivy; next to that, a barmy, uninhabited, ramshackle house with a rickety white fence. It looks distinctly out of place in spruced up Cool Atlanta, more like a tinker's hut from the old country. Yes, I was instantly enamored... 

The triffid oaks of Carroll Street 

But then I saw the hairy faced twassocks in skinny jeans and tattooed women with rings in their face. Does every man in Atlanta wear a stupid beard? Does every woman have a tattoo and a nose ring? It seems so.


The Carroll Street Cafe

I sat down to contemplate this irrational dislike of fornicators, charlatans, conformist-non-conformists and other riff raff of the day at the Carroll Street Cafe. I had forgotten the latest issue of the Economist at home; but life began to slow down when I took in the battered telegraph poles martyred with nails and staples; the street's clapboard houses of baby blue, Suffolk pink and mint green. "There are no second acts in American lives," said F. Scott Fitzgerald, but here I was, starting over, in a new and salubrious part of town. And sitting there, dining al fresco on a sidewalk table, watching the girls go by (Atlanta is full of hot women and ugly men), I began to morph into seedy Italian pop singer Ryan Paris in the promo for Dolce Vita


A Dance to the Music of Time by Nicolas Poussin (1636)

However, like Bangkok, my prior posting, Atlanta is a small city. And it does not do to fall out with folk, or make enemies, because you will keep bumping into them like a scene from Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time novels. In Stone Soup this lunchtime, the annoying man-hating lesbian cross fitness trainer from my old gym was having lunch with a beardy bozo. She hated my guts - and for reasons more irrational and unfathomable than for just being a man.  But my luck was soon to change. Two loud mouthed employees from the Attorney General's office sat down on the table next to me. One of them bitched about a know-all male colleague; the other about a deluded female client with a PhD. Despite their loud and indiscreet clatter, I managed to get through to the end of the leader article in the Economist about the dangers of Artificial Intelligence.   

Earth Tones: Gone.

The ceilings are done. The stippling and popcorn are no more. The earth tones of the lobby have been painted red with white trim. The boxes are slowly being unpacked and life is returning to normal after two and half years of cramped living in the bunker at Virginia Highlands. Will life prove to be happy here? I certainly hope so.

Until next time

The Male Trailing Spouse


The park on Carroll Street