The morning light from the sun descends upon a windy day in little Pokesdown....the epicentre of antique shops and cafés and also where yours truly has lived and breathed in since 2012.
As I pass through it often on the bus, almost every place has now got ‘NOSTALGIC’ written all over it.
First up....is One Stop which is a “subsidiary” chain to Tesco’s but double the prices of what we’re all used to. Unlike my ex local Co-Op in Downton where my brother, his friend and I had shoplifted from in our teens and I was the only one to get caught....I have never done anything of the sort at my local One Stop BUT an ex flat mate and I did once (or was that twice?) managed to go round the back and find ourselves some rather tasty second hand edibles in their general waste bin one night.
Apart from that, it was probably the first local shop to notice me as a musician/busker and I even kept in touch with one of the singers who used to work there for a while. She actually quit working there to concentrate on her singing career. I wish I could remember her name but it’s totally escaped me!
Tiien Thai on the other hand used to be an Italian restaurant opposite One Stop called Da Maria but of course my family and I never once stepped in there until it of course became the Thai restaurant it is today after opening up its doors during the early months of 2020 before the lockdown rained down upon us.
Next up a long my bus route to Boscombe is ....The Bell which began as a well known rough pub called The Seabourne and I can only assume that most of the locals from there had then migrated down the road to The Grove Tavern ...one of the most backwards, naive minded pubs I have ever walked in AND played at. In fact, earlier this year I was lucky to get verbally threatened by one of its locals just because I told him “I am NOT a man!”.
Anyways, that memory belongs in the past and is totally irrelevant.
Anyways, back to The Bell....
Back when it was taken over by Mark Evans, he welcomed a regular open mic night hosted by local DJ Ross Maslin.
Despite performing at Tuesday’s Revolving Doors at O’Neill’s near town, Chaplins & Cellar Bar in Boscombe on a Wednesday and then a lot more open mic nights coming out of the woodwork for all the other nights....the one at The Bell was literally close to my heart and I met a few lovely people there whom I still try to keep in touch with.
Nothing ever lasts forever and so, when Ross’s open mic night became discontinued...Ian and I had already started making an attempt at running our own open mic night at Winton Liberal Club thanks to the mother of one of the acts at The Bell being their entertainments manager or something like that. Anyways, those nights didn’t really work out as it was a struggle to try and get people there and we eventually found we were getting ripped off by the club so Ian and I wanted to find somewhere and so for 3 nights only ....The Bell seemed to always be welcome with open arms until one of the bands that we put on AND paid as they came down from Reading....took the piss and cranked their amps up to 12!
Unfortunately for us, Mark and his fiancé were upstairs in bed feeling rather unwell.
Oh well, at least we tried and this is why Ian and I would rather play a gig or an open mic instead of hosting one!
Opposite The Bell is a burger bar called Mokobo which used to be called Monty’s Lounge. Despite their burgers being £14, I did get to perform in there once but was instantly told to turn the volume down because of the customers even though not a single one had complained.
One really must be tolerant and willing to comply to the system of another to be able to get on with things I suppose.
If you come out of Mokobo and walk down the street more towards Boscombe you will of course, not see the shop that used to be Classic Drums which closed down just before the lockdown.
I can’t remember the gentleman’s name ...perhaps it was Paul but the guitar strings he sold there were always cheaper than the music shop closer to where I live which now mainly sells all sorts of ukuleles but I will endeavour to mention Alex and his wonderful team another day.
Before Classic Drums closed down, the gentleman also gave me the contact number to a guitar repair technician who literally lives 5 minutes walk away from me.
Next up along that route is Southbourne Exchange & Mart which may look like a shop that’s full of electrical junk piled on top of each other on shelves but also has some second hand essentials such as camera tripods and instruments and this shop is where I bought my first keyboard and stabs after so many years before donating them to someone else.
Before I became vegan in April 2019, I used to frequently order takeaways from China Dragon which used to be my go to Chinese takeaway especially when celebrating Chinese New Year but since I was very disappointed with their mushroom curry which sadly was just your basic chip shop curry sauce and mushrooms.
That was enough to put me off and I am still searching for a proper local Chinese vegan takeaway ready for next years Chinese New Year celebrations in front of an easy to watch kungfu movie.
Moving on down the road by just several steps is Pantip which used to be called Chok Dee (or Chawk Dee which is ‘Good Fortune’ in Thai).
Despite becoming closely associated with the Thai mother and her son, I am always scared of her English husband for some reason ever since I went in there to ask if I could come and play Thai songs.
Anyways, there are 3 Thai restaurants on that same road....Sala Thai which is down the hill...Thai Smile which is 3 steps away from Boscombe high street and then there’s Auntie Tip’s Pantip in the middle.
However, when it was called Chok Dee....my mum, my bro and I had visited there frequently. Am pretty sure my ex wife and an old close associate of ours joined us there too as well as my stepdad in 2007 before I shot off to be an English teacher in Thailand.....but....erm....that and the ex wife thing....that’s another story!
Anyways, before Chok Dee closed down, one memory I will always hold close to my heart is when one day I was cycling back home and I was heading that direction back anyways.
One of my Thai associates comes out at the right time and asks me if I am hungry....I then said “of course I am”....tells me to wait then brought out a takeaway for me. Seeing as I was not vegan at that time, I would be too ashamed to tell you the contents of that takeaway but her kindness made me feel ‘homesick’ as my mum had brought me up on Thai and Chinese values my whole life influencing me to regard Thailand as the only country where my heart really is.
Next up is the Jasmine Thai Massage Parlour and I swear there’s at least 4-5 on my bus route to Boscombe. The thing is ....I have never taken advantage of any of them so why Jasmine?
Well, it used to be called Asian Trader and it mainly sold Thai products. The shop was also in conjunction with Thai Smile which is still running across the road. It’s where P’Gao the owner and headchef would grab his supplies from so obviously nowadays, I wonder where he gets them from.
Although I do recognise the very seldom Talard (Dtalard - market) Thai truck that’s driven all the way down from London parked outside.
Seeing as I have mentioned Thai Smile now, I shall elaborate that there was a point where we were seeking a place that had the most authentic Thai food and Thai Smile then became the go to restaurant especially for my family, my friends and even alone.
I haven’t been there since the lockdown happened but before the pandemic did all the damage, I took part in private karaoke nights and bringing my guitar along to sing Thai songs.
Wow! I’m tearing up now from writing that part!
Those were the days but I became more focussed on Ethereal and on my own music since then anyways so, que séra séra whatever will be will be....
It’s now 22:15 at the time of writing this so before I lose all my energy and fall asleep, here are a few more honourable mentions ...
Dorset Children’s Foundation has a few charity shops around Dorset and I did some volunteering at the one in Boscombe for a while until they started getting more volunteers in, making it feel rather crowded for me which in turn, brought on my anxiety again.
Anyhow, I thought I was the only Yui in the local area until I met my ex colleague Baz who’s partner at the time is also called Yui and just so happens to be Thai and they both have a mixed race daughter also!
....and then there is Yoga Lounge that used to be called Bikram and my bro encouraged me to try hot yoga there once and only once it was! It was WAY too hot....I struggle to breathe in there!
....and last but not least.....Mello Mello Bar. I met this agent wannabe once and he tried to get me a gig in there but with only 2-3 locals ....all men of course ....it just wasn’t worth it! At least I got to play 3 of my favourite cover songs but of course, the gentlemen felt more inclined to either look at the monitor screen or chat with each other.
Fast forward back to today....I was instantly greeted by a cosmic message as I got off the bus....‘Please don’t take life seriously....nobody gets out alive anyway’
I thought that was quite appropriate seeing as how I felt yesterday.
How are you doing? ....asked at least 3 local and familiar people to which I replied confidently “i’m fine, thanks!”
(Oh my gosh! It’s now 22:41 and I am still awake writing this!!)
It was kind of a nice gesture being referred to as Miss Knopfler today by a familiar gentleman although I confess I prefer it when people say I don’t sound like anyone they’ve heard before which to my distaste has gotten more and more seldom just because they know me all too well now...
As I was playing ‘Unspoken’ I wish I had filmed the crowd of pigeons that gathered from no where to peck at the breadcrumbs in front of me that a lady sitting on the nearby bench had thrown to them for her baby to watch.
It was quite a blessing indeed!
Later on, I received a donation of blueberries and a bottle of water from a Thai associate. As she walked up to me, I began singing a Thai song and then this guy took the piss out of my singing by trying to impersonate it. I was singing in Thai anyways no wonder why he couldn’t understand. However, thirds inspired me to think back to my memoir from yesterday to heal me.
Well, it seems like the beginning of October is a good earner unless it’s just cos I usually do well in Boscombe on a Tuesday. I think I got my bearings wrong somewhere because of how unpredictable busking can be.
At 12:05, there was a slight drizzle of rain and after 5 minutes, it had completely banished for a while.
15:42 - alkies were getting louder and louder but at least I had finished all my songs and a few covers for the day
I have no idea what time my bus is going to arrive BUT at least I am feeling positive due to the sun still being out and my fingers aren’t too cold. It’s 17:25....I’ve got my face mask on just in case the bus randomly arrives and I’ve already had vegan garlic mayo fries and a vegan vanilla milkshake to keep me content until I get back home.
According to the time table, I have more than 10 minutes to write this.
It’s sure helped that I made nearly £40 in earnings today and so my mental health seems to be stable again.
Ok...5 minutes to go until my bus arrives so I better pack my phone away!
Oh wait! The ticket is on my phone....but I still don’t have any way of entering my own flat but fortunately, my brother and his partner’s dad are doing work upstairs so I’ll chill and do some writing there instead!