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A quick newsflash from the interweb - The Tasty 2005 Compilation is now online, featuring my song "Zipcodes" which I don't think has been available anywhere else before, so if you fancy it why not go and have a listen?
And while I'm here - it appears that there's now only two copies of "Milk & Baubles" left, and four of "This Is Not A Library". There might be a few copies of the latter lurking in varous lofts, but definitely not of the former, and I've no immediate plans to re-press either of these any time soon, so if you've always dreamt of one day owning one of the above, now might be the time to get going!
Now I Have Arrived
Merry Christmas/New Year INTERLUDE, one and all! I hope that those of you who, like me, are halfway through a whole week off work are enjoying this traditional festive time of writing really long lists of things you're going to do this year rather than waste it sitting around watching DVDs and drinking tea, then sitting around watching DVDs and drinking tea and realising that, actually, it's GRATE and NOT a waste of time at all. And to those of you who have had to go back to work, my deepest sympathies.
Christmas has been LOVELY so far - on the 23rd we had our traditional CHRISTMAS DINNER at home, what i made, and was SMASHING, then on Christmas Eve i headed back to the FENS for my Christmas Eve DRINKIE with the rest of The Masters Of Nothing, then spent an Actually Rather Pleasant couple of days with the FAAMILY. Much drink was drunk, food eaten, cards played, and NAN listened to, it was lovely.
And now I'm home and RELAXING with NO massive trips to worry about nor Christmas presents to buy. It is STRANGE, but also rather pleasant, and as mentioned above i do now have a BIG LIST of Things To Do, not least of which is to get on with THE BOOK. Before all that could get going, however, we had a PARTY last night with The In-Laws, who came round for a FEAST of CHampagne and Snacks. It was DELIGHTFUL, especially when The Brother-In-Law And Sons performed MJ TRIBBETT, the first ever MJ Hibbett & The Validators TRIBUTE BAND. They played "Things'll Be Different", "Another Man's Laundry", "The Symbol Of Our Nation" and, as an encore, "Payday Is The Best Day" and my dears i was EXTREMELY MOVED, it was BLOODY GRATE! I was especially impressed by the way they DIDN'T go for the easy ones, choosing instead the WORDIER numbers and, indeed, remembering them a darn sight better than I ever do. It was LOVELY.
Today we're all stumbling around the house slightly dazed, but from tomorrow onwards its ACTION all the way. I've set myself the task of learning up a few new songs in order to vary The Uberset when we get going again, and of course there's that BOOK to get writing. Also several DVDs to watch and tea to drink - HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
... but I'm not the only one
I've just sent out the latest issue of our EXCITING newsletter The Last Working Day Of The Month for LO! it is INDEED my last working day of the month today, seeing as how a) i work for a University so we CLOSE DOWN between Christmas and New Year and b) my bosses had a Generosity FIT and gave us all tomorrow off. HOORAH!
I felt a TINGE of guilt though, as I thought "isn't it rubbing it in a bit, for those people who have to come in tomorrow and probably in the Festive Interim too?" Yes, you're right, i am DEAD SENSITIVE. However this was soon dispelled by the WAVE of Out Of Office Auto-Replies from people who are ALREADY off for the holidays. OK, i doubt that many of them have also only just got back from a FOUR WEEK holiday but still, it made me feel better.
So yes, that's pretty much IT for me for a little while now. If anything THRILLING pops up I will of course keep you informed, and if I get time there'll be a few changes on the website over the next couple of weeks, but if I don't get back here before Sunday, I'd just like to wish everyone a VERY Merry Christmas indeed, and a ROCK New Year. It's going to be GRATE!
What was that BLUR of FRENZY that just WHIPPED past the screen? Why, it was ME, getting down to some CHRISTMAS BUSINESS. Due to the fact I've only JUST recovered from The Jet Lag I've had to get myself SUPER organised for Christmas STUFF with ACTION PLANS. I do love a good list, and these have been VERY good lists, with WORK, SHOPPING and ROCK all included in them. The ROCK part is mostly sorting out our next RECORDING session, at the start of January in DERBY when we'll be re-recording "Better Things To Do" and trying to do "Dino At The Sands" and maybe a couple of other songs for the album. It's going to be a busy weekend, as we're recording on the Sunday, practicing the night before, and in the morning of that Saturday I'm doing a session for Phoenix FM in Essex. ROCK-A-HOOLA!
Another thing i got done was to collect the first batch of our holiday pictures, which are ACE. I did think about putting them online over Christmas, but I'm not sure if there'll be time as i have MANY projects to complete. However, NONE of them are going to involve travelling thousands of miles, so that'll be a bit of a relief. Indeed, i am looking forward MOST of all to December 28th when i shall be HOME and RELAXING without anything much to ORGANISE or WORRY about for a goodly long while. It'll be lovely!
Back Back In The UK
You find me sat back at my desk at work, irrationally worried because I haven't got all my worldy possessions packed into a suitcase and don't know what sights I'll be seeing tomorrow, and very rationally worried because I haven't done any of my Christmas Shopping yet. It's very nice INDEED to be home, and it does feel SAFE to know where everything is, but it's also VERY COLD INDEED! Man, it wasn't like this on the EQUATOR!
Also, in all honesty, and with all due to respect to My Job, it's not as much fun as jollying around the GLOBE with The Latitude And Longitude Of My Coordinates. Still, I'm starting to get into The Christmas Mood, and it IS better to be getting back now with all that to look forward to than it would be otherwise. ALSO i guess the fact that I'm feeling fed up now is testament to what a GRATE time we had. We saw some amazing things and DID crazy stuff I'd never dreamt I ever would, and it's one of those SECTIONS of my life I'll know I'll always look back on with GLEE and be IMPRESSED that we ever did it all.
Still, THE ROCK must continue, and I've been getting to grips with updating the Discography, QOLED and Past Gigs section, with a new edition of The Newsletter due out on Friday. Stand by for FACT!
Greetings from The Lion City! We had a MASSIVELY LONG flight here, during which we watched the Wallace & Gromit film (GRATE!) and the starts of "Must Love Dogs" (boring) and "Christmas With The Kranks" (boring, unpleasant, and annoying), both of which got abandoned. I also watched "Sky High", which was dead good. We had those nice seats at the back of the plane where it's just two of you, with a big gap between the chairs and the window where you can DUMP stuff, it was very nice.
We got to our hotel filled with DREAD as we had read very bad reviews of it on the interweb, but it turns out to be Quite Nice. Not quite Holiday Inn levels of LUXURY, but not quite down to MJ Hibbett On Tour Hotel levels either. It's odd really, some of it is DEAD POSH, like the lobby and the millions of people tidying plates away at breakfast, and some of it ISN'T, like the mucky marks on the walls and the water dripping on your head in reception.
Singapore is a bit of a strange place all round. It's NICE actually to be somewhere that IS so different, after New Zealand being basically ENGLAND, SUMMER 1976 with a few enhancements. The government and the way of DOING things is an odd mix of Venture Capitalism and Communism that I still haven't quite got my head around, but the people are LOVELY. Everywhere you go there's big reminders to be NICE and Mulitcultural and GET ON with each other, it's heartwarming. Sort of like New Zealand, the fact that NOBODY are the original inhabitants, and that everybody came here on purpose, seems to give it a very different feel to really old places like That Europe. There's also a very different TAKE on British Colionalism than the one I'm familiar with at home, where i grew up learning about it as The Great Evil. Here it appears to be looked back on with fondness and a sort of gratitude without ever wanting to have it back again.
ALSO all the people we've met have amazing memories, especially for faces, but are appallingly bad at giving directions, and keep getting their left and right confused. It's like a different country!!
As you may guess, we have been ACTIVE since we got here. We went pretty much straight to bed on Wednesday, then yesterday FLEW into action, with a stroll across town to catch a BOAT TRIP down the the Merlion and back. We then had a LOVELY bit of tapas (ooh, it was DEAD nice, roast potatoes and hot garlicy tomato sauce, ACE!) in a Spanish Bar, walked through the BEAUTIFUL Fort Canning Park, and thence to The Singapore Philatelic Museum. YES, it was a museum of STAMPS, and it was BRILLIANT. As we have seen on these trips, the BEST sort of Museum is The Museum Of The Single Subject Matter e.g. The Bread Museum and Cable Car Museum, both in San Francisco. The Philatelic Museum was typical of the genre - it was nice and small, and run by INCREDIBLY ENTHUSIASTIC people, who ended up having to give us some free chocolate on our way out to calm themselves down. The GRATE thing about Single Subject Museums is that you get the Executive Summary version of the local history, which is always helpful, then find out Things You Never Knew. This one had a big exhibition on CHRISTMAS, and also one about Singapore During The War. They had some lovely letters to and from PoWs and later between Colonial Officials. I got a sudden stab of PATRIOTISM reading some of these, as they were written in classic British Official Whimsy, jollying along with a bit of silliness in the face of appalling events. I was STIRRED!
We then got the Singapore Stopover Bus back to the hotel - Singapore Stopover is a GRATE thing where you get VOUCHERS for all sorts of things, including The Night Safari, where we went next. It's like a Safari Park, but at NIGHT. I thought this would mean that we'd finally see LIONS moving about, but in the end they were still asleep. We saw LOADS of animals, tainted with uncertainty about whether This Sort Of Thing was OK or not. We'd walk round thinking "But is this any different from an old fashioned ZOO, which is a Bad Thing? Or... OOH! MOUSE DEER!!!"
It was another occasion when my BRANE had difficulty coping with what it was getting from the eyes. A great big TIGER came RIGHT up to the glass to look us - i was about SIX INCHES from it, and was TERRIFIED but at one remove from myself. Similarly I stood looking for a LEOPARD for several seconds before being STARTLED by the realisation it was lying at my FEET, a HUGE great big cat seperated from my by an inch of glass, SNORING. We saw LOADS of different deer, Fishing Cats, Leopard Cats, a Clouded Leopard (with SABRE TEETH!), a RHINO, and all sorts of things. My favourites were The Otters (aah!), the various LEOPARDS, and especially The Tapir. Tapirs ROCK, they look like they were made in a night school class at The Community Centre, not even VAGUELY real but still LOVELY. Also Slow Loris was LOVELY too.
As I say, it was lovely, but a bit disconcerting. We decided NOT to go to The Creatures Of The Night Show, as it smelt faintly of Dancing Otters, which would have shoved the Dodginess Readings right into the BAD side, and walked about instead. We got home TIRED, and SLEPT. Today we ROSE early and went out on a City Tour, the best bits of which were a Hindu Temple (Hinduism: GRATE) and The Botanic Gardens, which were pretty amazing. We're now enjoying a gentle beer, then hopefully are off to RAFFLES.
And then tomorrow we're flying home! It's funny, for the past few days I've been REALLY looking forward to getting home to My Things in My Places, knowing where everything is and not needing to plan in detail where we'll get the next meal, or what we'll be doing tomorrow. I'm still excited at the prospect of HOME, but also feel a bit sad to know that today's the last day of our holiday. We've had a LOVELY time - before we set off I think we were too panicked about organising it to really think what an amazing thing we were going to be doing, but in the last four weeks we've seen and done all MANNER of things I never imagined I ever would. I'm looking forward to the New Year when I can just sit back and think about it all for a bit!
So yes, the next time i FACT here I'll be back in Dear Old Blighty, worrying about what on earth I'm going to get everyone for Christmas, and HOW on earth I'm going to do it all. See you then!
While I'm here: sudden realisation re. James Blunt. He's singing the songs that EARNEST LADY SINGERS usually sing, isn't he? The line "I saw your face/In a crowded place" LEAPT out at me just now on an advert, and i thought "Somewhere Natalie Imbruglia is missing a LINE that should rightfully be hers". Her or any one of the LEGIONS of earnest, sensitive singer/songwriter women could and SHOULD be singing the songs that he sings. Ugh! James Blunt! Pack it IN!
Hello once again from Scenic Auckland, which we have now pretty much DONE. This morning we lightly breakfasted in Starbucks on beverages and cakes or, as they same in America: breakfast, cake. I must say I am quite liking Breakfasting Out, it feels decadent yet necessary - perhaps i shall attempt it when i am back in uptown Leytonstone? Whilst there we decided that Auckland is like BIRMINGHAM, as it is biggish without FEELING too big, the people are really nice, it's got some BUSTLE about it, and it's rather hilly. It's nice after Whakatane to be back in a city - it was pretty there, but RATHER small townish. As we've travelled we've generally agreed which British (or European anyway) city each capital most resembles - New York is like LEEDS, San Francisco is like BRISTOL, Hawaii is either FOLKSTONE of PALMA. However, we parted company on Whakatane with The Tip Of My Sky Tower thinking it was like Calverley whilst I thought it was like Market Deeping. I thought Market Deeping because it's a pretty but QUIET little place where, with the best possible will in the world, nothing much ever happens. Also it has a lot of my family in it. Calverly is the similar in that it's where The Ferry In My Bay grew up, although we didn't spot any of her lot there.
ANYWAY, yeah, it was like Birmingham, except with 101 extra beaches i.e. 102, and probably all rather nicer. Having agreed upon that we wandered down Queen Street, which is the main Wandering Down street in town, apparently, stopping only to gaze upon the TERRIFYING GESTURING SANTA, which LOOMS above beckoning and winking HORRIFICALLY. We then got on the FERRY over to Devonport, which is a nice little town over the bay, and then got a bus round there. It was NICE. We came back and got straight on the bus tour bus, which was WELL relaxing and pleasant. I think maybe we're getting a bit blase about stuff at this late stage, as we're flitting from boat to bus to plane without blinking an eye - maybe four weeks ON TOUR is ENOUGH. After that it was back to the hotel to try and get out next stage SORTED, as our Travel Agents have turned out to be a load of *FIBBING* *TWITS* (some words may settle in transit) and have cocked up our hotels in Singapore. That done we went out AGANE to the Sky Tower (The Tallest Building In The Southern Hemisphere), went up it, LOOKED OUT, drank a beer, came down, and here we are back again. DONE!
When we got in I looked at my diary, to check out some dates for a possible NICE GIG, and noticed that a week on Saturday I'm headed for Peterborough. "What on earth's that about?" I wandered, then realised: "ARGH! CHRISTMAS!!!" FREAKOUT!
Greetings from The City Of Sails! We arrived here a couple of hours ago, and after the Rural Delights of Whakatane it is a bit of a culture shock to be back in The Big City... although quite a NICE shock. Shortly after I last BLOGGED i was told by several of the women in my family that I ought to show my left leg to a Pharmacist, as I'd been bitten rather badly on it, and it didn't look too good. The Lift In My Skyscraper and I thus WENT there, and the pharmacist said "Ooh, you'd better show that to a doctor". I thought that this'd be a torturous experience, but it turned out the doctor was next door. We went in, paid the (approx) 18 quid fee, and ten minutes later found ourselves stood outside having had my KNEE dressed, the whole thing full explained, also having CHATTED with both nurse AND doctor, and clutching a prescription. It was AMAZING! Then one of the people back in the chemists turned out to have grown up with my (now) sister-in-law, and all in all a pretty amazing trip to the chemists was had by all.
It turns out that when I fell over on The Diamondhead and hurt my knee in Hawaii it had got infected, which had spread down my leg when I'd got bitten by Sand Flies on the stag do. I am MR INFECTION! The upshot was that i got some antisceptic cream and some antibiotics. Last time i got these was just before i went to Cornwall to record the album, so i KNEW i was going to have to take them, and i KNEW it would infringe upon my drinking. They told me i could still drink a BIT, but not to Wedding Levels.
Next day was my brother Paul's wedding, and it was LOVELY. The ceremony was held on a beach that it took a 20 minute HIKE down a CLIFF to get to. It was all fine once we were down there - EVERYBODY pretty much cried, as they'd written their own vows which they'd also LEARNT and so spoke them with much EMOTION. It was a lovely idea, and was SO good to see, it'd be nice if EVERYBODY did it that way, rather than Repeating After The Vicar. Less lovely was the hike back UP the cliff after a couple of glasses of champagne, so when we got back to our MOTEL many of us SHOWERED.
Then it was off to Avaganda, where the reception was, and there was GRUB and some LOVELY speeches from the Best Men which, i have no shame in reporting, made me BLUB once again. After a short break I then got up and played a SET myself, and this is what I played:
Too Good To Be True
The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
Red And White Sockets
The Perfect Love Song
I Come From The Fens
Billy Jones Is Dead
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Clubbing In The Week
Boom Shake The Room
Payday Is The Best Day
Fly Me To The Moon
It was BLOODY GRATE! The first song had people DANCING, which worried me a bit as the rest were going to be MINE OWN compositions, but it turns out that Paul, bless him, has been playing my stuff to everyone he knows, repeatedly, so HUGE sections of the crowd knew the words, and most other people just joined in anyway. It was HILARIOUS, especially The Best Men, Chris and Max, joining in with interpretive DANCING. LOVELY!
Unfortunately, as soon as I'd finish, the combination of champagne, antibiotics, and All The Excitement left me suddenly short of breath, extremely dizzy, and wanting to vomit, so we ended up going home pretty soon after. Next day I woke up, forgot I was poorly, and got all surprised AND upset when I stood up and found that I still was. I thus spent much of the day moping around feeling sorry for myself, until The Film In My Projector and I went off to THE FLICKS that night to see The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill. It was PRECISELY what was required, it is a LOVELY and HEARTWARMING and FASCINATING film and just generally BLOODY GRATE. Here at mjhibbett.com we say GO SEE!
Then this morning we were off bright and early to go on a DOLPHIN TOUR. About 16 of us sat for over an hour on REALLY bumpy choppy seas in the POURING rain in an uncovered boat feeling cold, wet, seasick and generally fed up. AGES past and then suddenly we found ourselves in a school of ORCAS! That is, KILLER WHALES! It was UTTERLY AMAZING, and for ages we sped around with them surfacing beside and near us, and swimming under the boat. What huge elegant and beautiful creatures they were, just STUNNING.
We then hunted round for another million years for dolphins before heading for Whale Island for a quick bit of Swimming With Seals. To be honest I think most of us who leapt in just needed to go for a wee, as most of the seals weren't playing and, indeed, looked scary, and it was REALLY cold. We drove around for roughly the lifespan of the universe again getting colder and wetter until SUDDENLY, just as we were heading back to base, we spotted a family of dolphins and GASPED at them for a bit. They were surfing!
It was all very beautiful, and makes a much better MEMORY than a Thing Actually Happening as I've already edited out several lifetimes of Cold Wet Nausea in favour of extra bits of Surfacing Orcas. Ooh, they were BRILL. After that it was a matter of getting back to a Family Motel ROOM for SPA BATHS in rota (hey, it warmed us up!) before a rather emotional farewell, especially as it was the last time I was going to be seeing my brother James for nearly a year. It's been brilliant having him CLOSE AT HAND in That London for the past couple of years, and I'm REALLY going to miss him, so once again a few manly tears escaped my rugged eyes after we'd gone.
THEN it was back to The Golden Age Of TRAVEL at Whakatane Airport, where the guy who checks your luggage in also guides in the planes and loads the luggage, more goodbyes, then off here to Auckland. Nice as it was to see The Family, it's also nice now to be back to being just the two of us in a Luxurious Hotel Room, knowing that tomorrow there will be ADVENTURES, and on Saturday we will be HOME! HOORAH!
Far Away From Home
Greetings from the other side of the planet! I'm sat in an interweb cafe with The Lava In My Volcano, my BROTHER and his lovely girlfriend, and we're all enjoying THE FUTURE. New Zealand is very nice, it's like Matlock Bath on a really nice sunny day!
Anyway, the main news today is that the Christmas Albums have ARRIVED, and if you'd like one you'll need to visit the Artists Against Success homepage, where you'll find details of how to get a FREE copy! It is our beautiful Christmas Gift to you!
There's only fifty copies available tho, so I'd get there quick!
One Last Aloha
It's our last day in Hawaii today, and since last we spoke we've taken things a bit more calmly. We've seen some HULA DANCING, been to Duke's Bar for cocktails, and otherwise LOAFED around, mostly on the beach. It's been LOVELY, but now we're feeling a bit sad about having to leave. It's New Zealand next, which'll be LOVELY as there's a ton a family there now ready for my brother's wedding, which is the DRIVING FORCE behind the whole trip, but it's SO very lovely here, and we've had enough time to get properly settled in, that's it's going to be a bit of a WRENCH.
Still, the planet isn't going to circumnavigate ITSELF, so we'd best get moving. I'm not sure if we'll have internet access so easily in New Zealand, so fear not, if you hear nothing for a few days i shall be out catching some WAVES! ALOHA!
SO much ACTION! On Thursday we got up bright and early and got the bus to Diamondhead, the big dormant volcano down the road from here, and HIKED right up it. It was AMAZING, and also VERY HIGH, and when we came down again i got a bit dizzy and fell over and hurt my knee. OW. In the afternoon we went to the BEACH and i got a BOOGIE board and "surfed" i.e. paddled out on it, hung around failing to catch any waves, and then came back in again. But HEY! I DID go out there!
Yesterday we got up early AGANE and went on a TRIP, we went with Inter Island Airways over to The Big Island. It was AMAZING - we checked in at a small bamboo HUT, had a cup of tea, walked over to the plane and flew off, it was ACE. "THIS," I thought, "Is the way to TRAVEL!" We flew over an ACTIVE VOLCANO and saw ACTUAL LAVA and OH MY it done my head in. Then we got on a lovely Polynesian Adventure Tours bus with an LACONIC and ACE driver/guide called John From Missouri, and spent the day going "Oooh!" and "Wow!" around another volcano. BEST bits were having LUNCH in The Volcano House Restaurant, which is on the EDGE of the CRATER (which is still occasionally ACTIVE), and then later walking through Tropical Rain Forest and The Thurston Lava Tube. It was a) MENTAL b) AMAZING c) FAB.
And as if THAT wasn't enough, this morning we decided to take a HELICOPTER RIDE, and an hour later found ourselves getting into an Actual Real Life HELICOPTER. Helicopter's are GRATE - the pilot said "Let's just taxi round to see if we can get clearance" and suddenly we were HOVERING ten foot in the air and zooming round the roads. It was FAR OUT, and I took back my earlier statement - HELICOPTERS, THAT is the only way to get around. We saw LOADS of things, but mostly we saw the house that was Robin Master's Estate in Magnum, and it looked JUST like off the telly. Also holy waterfalls, world famous surfing beaches, yadda yadda, but mostly MAGNUM!
It turns out that i am TERRIFIED of flying in helicopters tho, as i was SHAKING LIKE A LEAF for two hours afterwards, but it was BRILLIANT. The only downside is that suddenly i feel SAD because we've only got two more days here. Hawaii is GRATE!
More Fun In Paradise
Aloha again, one and all, it's another Beautiful Morning In Paradise, as they say round here in downtown WAIKIKI, and very nice it is too. As mentioned the other day, Hawaiians turn out to be EXPONENTIALLY JOLLIER than mainland Americans, so there has been much LARFS and humorousity, talking to people in shops has been FUN, and even though lots of people still don't understand what I'm saying, they at least don't want to FITE me because of it.
As planned, we did spend much of our first day LOAFING around and being jetlagged, then yesterday we headed off to Pearl Harbour. It was another one of those situations where my brain REFUSED to accept what was going on. The whole thing was surprisingly Respectful and Dignified and Moving and Balanced, with a 23 minute Film about the whole thing that was dead interesting, before we shuffled out onto a boat and into a harbour. Five minutes later I thought "I'm in Pearl Harbour standing right above the USS Arizona" but couldn't really get it to fit inside my BRANE.
We headed back to town after that, strolled around Alo Moana Park (which, again, was too much like Off The Telly to accept), then along the canal and home, where i got a bit carried away with cooking and had a DISASTER involving burnt rice, hot pans, and plastic chopping boards. Luckily The Onions In My Stir Fry was on hand to sort things out, and all eventually became well again.
Oh, and in other news, I've been doing a bit of WRITING on THE BOOK - i've got to provide a sample chapter and structure by the end of January, and I think I've figured out how it's going to work. It's all rather exciting!
Anyway, must dash - today we're climbing a VOLCANO then going to the BEACH! WAHEY!