THE UNWANTED, WANTED CANADIAN
All I could hear as I tried desperately to close my eyes and sleep was the monotonous ringtone of the iPhone. Helvetica font spelling ‘Lee - Global Streetart’ imprinted in my eyelids from occasionally opening my eyes and checking whether it was an important caller or not. Needless to say I managed a further 2 hours of disturbed sleep before giving up (that and I desperately needed a piss). It was a Sunday, I had a heavy night the night before and the last thing I wanted to do was leave South London, leave my home or even leave my orthopaedic mattress. Earlier on in the week I promised Lee that I would meet with him and a travelling Canadian nomad that went by the name of Jarus. It had been a while since I filmed anything and a visit from a foreigner is always a tempting offer so I blindly agreed, forgetting the day and the messy birthday party that took place the previous night. Despite my 1st world issues I rolled a joint, packed my bag and headed for ‘Boom City’ aka Walthamstow
Once in Walthamstow I hooked up Google maps and headed on to the address given to me by Lee. It led me to Walthamstow 6th Form College. At first I was ecstatic…I mean it was a school. Big fuck off building with plenty of large virgin walls ready for cherry picking. Once my excitement had calmed down, it struck me how many strings he would of had to pull for this one, hang on…this is ridiculous. After a swift phone call to Lee he informed me that I was actually meeting him at the end terrace residential property behind me. Nice wall but a slight anti-climax for myself. The time was now roughly midday. John aka Captain Crunch, who has shot and edited many of the Spraying Bricks videos, was on his way down to help capture and shoot Jarus in action. By this point Lee had text through Jarus’ phone number to me, but with conditions…
This should be interesting. This guy has been in London for less than 5 days, he’s on his own with no means of contact, no money, nor is he ever going to find out where the fuck I am or how to get here. What did people do in London before phones? Midday slowly made its way to 2pm, 2pm crawled its way to 3:30pm. By this point Crunch had turned up, so I jumped into the whip and sparked the joint that I had rolled earlier. I would have chong’d this whilst standing in the cul-de-sac waiting, but in the midst of a late get up and hangover I forgot my lighter. I also didn’t want to leave the site to grab one in case our Canadian friend had made an appearance.
4pm…contact made. Jarus was in the area and had found a local coffee shop with wifi. That was the easy part believe it or not. Imagine trying to give directions to this remote location within the depths of ‘Boom City’ concrete jungle to a dude that hasn’t a clue what side of the river he is on. We were waiting for a tall, long haired guy, with a large rucksack (paint) and a beanie (of course he had to fit the stereotype but this is not just for story purposes as you can see) and just as Crunch was about to lick the last mm of Rizla before twisting the end, I hear a ‘Hey bud!…are you Louis?’ After we had a quick quip at his concept of time, Jarus took one look at the spliff and his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. He asked if he '...could hit that?’ Naturally a man in need of weed is a friend in need indeed, or something along those lines. Being well gone 4pm at this point and the middle of winter, the night had drawn in and the light had dropped. Graffiti is a different kettle of fish but it's not a good look when you’re painting murals in the dark, especially realism. At least I hadn’t waited outside the front of a school all day to then not film…oh yes, I did. Thank god it wasn’t a Monday, otherwise that could have looked suspicious.
Jarus suggested we grab some food together. I was still feeling the effects of the night before and along with the constant self medication I was in the mood for some comfort grub. I was also in the mood for chicken, and luckily for me Jarus had yet to indulge in the Nando's experience and tantalise his tastebuds with the sweet spice devil that is Peri Peri. Crunch had prior engagements so dropped us off at the station and headed off. After I had brought Jarus up-to-speed with the ordering process we gave each other a rundown on our backgrounds over a bowl of hummus and a whole chicken...medium spiced. Jarus had been staying at Lee’s pad after arriving into London, but tonight Lee had company he was entertaining, most probably with his 90’s boy moves, so he needed somewhere to crash. Although Jarus mentioned he had family in London, he also mentioned that he hadn’t heard or spoken to them in over eight years. I couldn’t let the mandem randomly knock on a relative's door without giving prior notice asking for a roof and bed for the night so I suggested he stay at mine. Those who say blood is thicker than water should meet my family. I settled the bill and we headed across the river to my humble abode.
Now I often burden my girlfriend with a constant flow of artists and friends staying at our pokey 750sqft flat, where our bedroom also happens to be the lounge and studio, but this time it was someone we didn’t know from Adam. I said it was just for the night as he was due to stay at graffiti artist, Bonzai’s the night after, and that he had 'long hair and smoked weed so he must be alright.’ As always, like all ride or die chicks, she went with the flow.
The next day we got up early-ish, 10am…don’t judge…creatives are nocturnal creatures. Making our way to the wall Jarus was unsure what he was going to paint. As he hadn’t seen any images of the wall, yesterday was his first glance. The wall was almost perfect in terms of surface, pre-primed brick wall, painted enough times the mortar was non-existent and the wall rendered, but the problem was its shape - about 25ft in length but 5ft in height. Jarus paints realism and it usually involves portraits. We were talking about tattoos the night before and how Jarus hadn’t quite found the right one to take the plunge with yet. I mentioned that the process was like opening a pack of Pringles (we all know how that goes). So, with that, he decided to use my right arm as a reference point, due to the Word To Mother piece on my forearm, prime body real-estate. Jarus told me about his plans for the next couple of days and the fact he was heading to the small village of St Neots in Cambridgeshire to the paint shop ‘Alfreshco' with Bonzai. Knowing Bonzai, I decided to give him a call and arrange the finer details. Jarus likes to go on hunches and whims, whereas I like to plan things…to a certain extent. The next minute I’m on the blower to the missus to pick up some extras for dinner tonight and to expect two staying guest. No qualms…I’ve got to marry this woman!
En route back from the remote St Neots, Jarus was still at a loose end for a place to stay (probably wondering what happened in between, you can find that here). It was late, it was a Friday and our train didn’t reach London Victoria until 9pm. What's one more night!? He had to arrange somewhere to stay eventually…right? I mean he was here for another month, albeit a trip to Barcelona in the mix of that but nonetheless. Once we pulled into platform 3 at Victoria we jumped straight onto the underground and ended up East. It would have been rude not to have a beer after a arduous few days in the cold. A beer turned into an ‘out out’ situation and the next thing you know we’re in the karaoke bar, rapping along to ‘Gin and Juice’, which I must add they adapted with notification due to the language…fassie's! A few hours later, a bag of the naughty, and we’re declaring love, peace between nations and toasting to new friendships.
The next day was difficult, fuck it...that's sugar-coating it. It felt like I had been hit in the skull with a rusty pickaxe and the wound had rapidly turned septic causing all over body gangrene. Now was time to introduce Jarus to my ideal hangover day. After a painful walk to the shop (downstairs) I started with the ’set up’ in my studio/lounge/bedroom. For this you will need a tray (for the munch obviously), a big ass telly (preferably smart for the Netflix steez), weed + rolling box (minimum half oz), a pint of tea (I’m sure you have one that has your name or some gay ass meme on it) and a pillow to put in the middle (not only does this act as a rest for your arm and remote but it also acts as a partition reducing the risk of a brokeback situation). We didn’t move for 6 hours. As time went on it seemed pointless in our fragile states to expect Jarus to even think about looking at a place to stay. It's a big ask for a practically dying man, plus I was kind of getting used to having him around, so was the missus and my housemate. Working alone from home can sometimes give you cabin fever so having someone there can save you from going mad.
Weeks started to go by, we’d been hanging out, painting and filming. Jarus was happy to come with me on shoots and we spent a lot of time with Meggs when he was over for his show ‘Rise and Fall’ at Stolen Space Gallery. The issue of where he was staying and what his plans were hadn’t been addressed. They didn’t need to be addressed; things were fine the way they were. Well, apart from the fact that he had been sleeping on a 5ft wide sofa which remained folded rather than extended into a sofa-bed.
After a few weeks Jarus headed off to Barcelona, Spain to paint for two weeks at the Montana condo. There was a sense of emptiness back at the flat, which can also be taken as a metaphor. Both my housemate and the missus are usually relieved when my guests leave as peace and normality ensues, but this time there was a sense of grief in the air, as if someone had died. 'Don’t worry’ I assured them, I’m sure he will be back, as I read the misspelling of his goodbye note. Time being a healer we got over it and back to normal life after day 4. I kept up-to-date with his latin antics on instagram. Barcelona isn’t what it used to be for writers and artists but it's still such a vibrant and buzzing city.
Two weeks later whilst on a shoot I receive a phone call from a unknown number… ‘Hey bud…I’m at Gatwick!’ ‘Cool my dude, I’ll see you at home in around a hour?’ ‘Sweet…see you soon bud!’
Its hard graft in London. Its the city of opportunity but it's a costly venture. I have artists stay a night here and a night there and usually I can cope with 2/3 nights and I’m ready to have my own space, some alone time with the missus. But there was something about Jarus. Although when I tell people about Jarus it can almost come across as if he took the piss. Weirdly, if you were there, I doubt you would have got that impression. Then again I hope I’ve projected that.