VOC, King's Cross | The New London Cocktail Review
VOC, King's Cross ~ The New London Cocktail Review

Monday, 20 June 2011

VOC, King's Cross

2 Varnishers Yard
Regents Quarter
King's Cross
London N1 9AW

Ross Sutherland


King's Cross is an enemy generator
pumping out crackhead versions
of my old schoolfriend Ian Yarrow.

In each doorway, a mail clerk
putting in a call to a girl up North.

& a sky like the back of a spoon.

For the last week I’ve been
on a reading tour of the Cornish Riviera,
where I managed to tear open
the crotch of my jeans.

(Each night I had to assure the audience
that the hole wasn’t part of my act)1

Now, back in London,
in a borrowed pair of grey slacks, white shirt,
I make my way across Varnishers Yard,

which still looks exactly like
the artist’s impression of Varnishers Yard
I saw on a pasteboard four years ago.

Named after the world's first megacorporation,
the VOC is a modest establishment2

with a maximum capacity of thirty-two people
and a globe of the world that you are free to spin.

On my first turn I get Tanzania.
Then Gdanzk. Sadly, on my third spin
I drown off the coast of the Solomon islands.

And now, the cocktail review:

I bring a Martinez to my lips.
A jester falls through a roof
into a bale of smoldering hay.

Next, the Veiux Carre. A nervous dog
interrupts an anecdote from an art dealer
about the time he met Merle Travis.

Finally, the Bergamot Grog. A turquoise stamp
on a metal coffee table, schoolboy French coming
from the kitchen. Rain added in After Effects.

God, I’m trying tonight.

Why is it
that the move from the office to the bar
is rarely the dramatic change
it ought to be?

Like when the cursor on my computer
turns into a beachball.
If anything, this development
just makes things worse.

Next to me, a food blogger
with an arse for a face
is lecturing the proprietor on his own livelihood.
Yeah, this drink definitely has a flavour, he says.
I mean, if I wanted, I could look it up…

I go to make a note of this
as yet further evidence
of the death of opinion,

but when I look down, I notice
that I’ve somehow popped a button.

I wait
until no one is looking
then take out a stapler
and punch a new fastening
into the shirt
that I borrowed for the evening.

Much like the way
the launch of a bar
themed around a 17th century punch house
might slip itself quietly
into 67 acres
of perfect investment opportunity.

1 i.e. Chekhov says that if an audience
is shown a gun in act one, it must be fired by act three.
Which makes a gaping hole in your crotch
not only bad tailoring, but terrible dramaturgy.

2 The Dutch East India Company possessed
quasi-governmental powers, including
the ability to wage war, imprison and execute convicts.
Similarly, this cocktail bar possesses
an incredible cigar collection, exposed brickwork
and Nouvelle Vague’s second album on the stereo.

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