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Twenty-odd Questions - Alex Story
6.07.11 by Dazzler

How old are you? 26 years young.

Where were you born? Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

How long have you been a courier? Three years and a bit, broken up with lifestyle-based hiatus and short stints of general existential ponderment.

Hang Name? 471 (Reuter Brooks) and Sideshow (City Sprint), though I wish I could lose the latter, it worked better when I had dreads.

Who do you ride for? I don’t know, so many companies have been amalgamated into one big stew of confusion. Reuter Brooks? Mach1? Bonds? A-Z? You tell me.

What was your first bike? I can’t remember but it had three wheels and I would crash it into nearby shrubbery rather than brake.

What do you ride now? Lemond Fillmore, covered in stickers, no gears no brakes and all that jazz.

What’s the best docket you’ve ever been given? Some guy called me at 4am once, from “the office”. Just when I thought that they had finally caught me, he explained that he was working the night shift at the ‘Sprint and could I make it to the queue at the Indian Visa place on the Aldwych within the hour? Clocked up like a hundred big ones in waiting time. Picking up a job from 10 Downing Street was weird; I bypassed the entire security procedure because “nah, you’re alright mate, X-Ray’s broken. It’s the one down there with the coppers outside.”

What’s the worst thing about being a courier? 6 jobs in your bag, two on the double, raining hard but flying fast, shard of glass in your tyre, impecunious and despondent somewhere in SW3. And dealing with ego-trip security guards who haven’t got the perspective to realise how far down the chain they themselves are. Give a man a uniform, eh…

What’s the best thing about being a courier? 4:30 on a hot Friday afternoon, exploding through Oxford Circus, epic sunset at the tip of Oxford, hammering southbound down Regent, bag full of doubles, Metallica – Orion kicks in, beer so soon, alleycat tonight. Days like that, and getting to bump into people on an hourly basis with whom I drink out of choice.

Describe your childhood in 3 words. Generic witty answer.

What is your earliest memory? Flying down a snow-covered hill on a toboggan with Uncle David, Dad and my little brother. We all spotted the picnic table at the bottom and bailed, except for young Jasper, who kept the reins, what a guy. His forehead met the bench at an incredible speed. Ambulance sirens. Two years later, I six him four, arcing back to earth from great heights on a metal horse swing (you guys don’t have them over here, they rule), young Jasper walks casually into my path, stops thoughtfully, turns to look at me, ambulance sirens.

Who are your heroes? David Foster Wallace, Jimi Hendrix, my parents and my older brother Julian, who got fired from his job as a messenger in the 80’s for writing NO BLOOD FOR OIL on a package for Shell.

What’s on your music ipod tho? Iron & Wine, Tipper, Metallica, Sun Kil Moon, The Smashing Pumpkins, Chemical Brothers, Tame Impala, Slipknot, Leo Kottke, Bob Dylan, Deftones, Daedelus, Fleet Foxes, At-the Drive-In (their album ‘Relationship of Command’ is the best for a busy afternoon, and has to be heard to be believed), Archers of Loaf, Tom Waits, Gillian Welch, Crosby Stills & Nash, Arcade Fire, Zen Mechanics, Flying Lotus, Cannibal Ox, Yo La Tengo, Noisia, My Bloody Valentine, Jose Gonzalez, John Fahey, Jane’s Addiction, Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake etc.

What’s the best piece of clothing/equipment you carry? Easy, my Pac bag. You could fit my controller in that thing. Just.

What advice would you give to any wannabe couriers? Avoid the bitter messengers on the road, they’ll just bring you down. Pack your own lunch. The best messengers prefer riding on over engaging in road rage. You can ride through Senate House to get to Russell Square faster.

What’s the best lunch deal in town? Oh man, I found this place the other day, ‘Simply Sandwiches’ on Strutton Ground SW1. They offer a staggering plethora of filled baguettes and local workers crowd at the window attempting with much futility to make a decision on which one to get. All for like two quid. That and Krugers in the City.

What’s the best chat-up line you’ve ever given to/received by a receptionist? One offered to spray my face with water today. She was far from attractive. It creeped me out.

Favourite place to stand by? Nowhere! But my favourite place to wait for a job would either be the top floor of Centrepoint or the Peruvian embassy, the former for the views, the latter for the friendliness. What made you become a courier? I called about a sandwich delivery job, from the Job Centre on Mare Street. I told the dude I had my bike with me, so he said if I could make it to his office in fifteen minutes the job was mine. I made it to the building in ten but had neglected to get the unit number off him. As I returned to the street, defeated and frustrated, a bicycle courier (Asen ‘Honky-Tonk’, I I’d one day learn and befriend) whizzed by at a frightful pace. Fuck delivering sandwiches.

In a parallel universe you would be… Like the Bizarro Jerry episode of Seinfeld.

What one thing would improve the quality of your life? A laser gun.

Who’d play you in the film of your life? Edward Norton or Mike Myers. Whoever was available at the time.

What would be your catchphrase? “Well this has been fun.”

It’s the dream dinner party – what 5 guests are there? Louis CK, Dave Eggers, Hunter S. Thompson, Sam Beam and Dean Moriarty.

What has your been your proudest moment/greatest achievement? Playing my own music to 10,000 people on a beach in Bahia, Brazil. Cycling-wise, winning an alleycat, just the one.

If you could go back and edit the past is there anything you would change? I wish I’d discovered CGDGAD sooner.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever done? Hugger mugger, door to door, jeez.

What is the most important lesson life on the road has taught you? I want to say ‘smile, because people respond well’, but I don’t employ that philosophy often enough to validate saying it. I guess I’ve learnt to know my limits, and push them a little bit every day. How would you like to be remembered? Made a f**king amazing Thai green chicken curry.

When were you happiest? Most recently – sitting in a birdwatching tower with the most excellent of company, moderately spangled and overlooking bleak Scottish hills and a folk festival, hearing a sample lifted from a Jackson C. Frank number looping and echoing around the valley.

What would your superpower be? To see the entire future lives of passersby flash by in a sequence of Polaroids like in Run, Lola, Run.

Freedom is… Under-rated.

You have a time machine – where would you go? Next Saturday, my knees are killing me this week.

You are allowed to pass one new law – what is it? Parents aren’t allowed to make their kids fat.

How do you relax? Playing acoustic guitar, culinary feats, with friends.

Tell us something about yourself we would never guess. I’m Sarah Palin trapped inside a bohemian man’s body.

What was the last book you read? I’m currently getting through Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace slowly, but it’s pretty intense and very lengthy. The last book I finished was The Curse of Lono by Hunter S. Thompson, which I’d recommend to anyone with a good sense of humour.

You’ve got one youtube link – what is it? This!

Tell us a joke. Did you hear about the anaemic and dyslexic convention? They had a cake which jumped out of a girl.

  1. great interview

    — curly    7 July 2011, 00:30    #
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