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My sixtieth, and last, gig of 2007 was occurring on Saturday night in Lewisham, and as I wasn't needed until about nine o'clock I set off fairly late - usually I'm AWAY somewhere super early, but this time I got to have my TEA on the way there. When i first moved to London I popped into our local chippy to be met with FRANK ANGER when i DARED to ask for Curry Sauce, and THREATS OF VIOLENCE at the IDEA of Gravy, side orders which would at least have provided SOME taste to the grisly experience of eating them, but nearly six years and a change of management later (and now calling itself "Olympic", to tempt in those Marathon Runners in a few years I guess) it was time for a second chance. Good job too - they weren't HULL quality, but they were actually pretty nice, AND there was curry sauce. No pickled eggs as yet, but when demand flows in in 2012 I'm sure they'll sort it out.
So, I got to distant Lewisham well fed and met Mr N Dawes and Mr S ("C") Hewitt, followed by many MORE, for CHAT and also BEER. Another thing that has improved over time is the beer in The Fox & Firkin, which is now Actually All Right, where once it was RUN AWAY vile. I had a bit of a wander saying hello to the lovely sort of people you GET at The Fox, and soon it was time to go on and do THIS:
Before going on I'd been telling Steve and Nick about the FACT that EVERY time I've played The Fox someone has ALWAYS tried to come on stage and join in - either by DEMANDING specific cover versions ("I'll sing it for you!") or by wanting to HAVE A GO. This night was no exception - about halfway through an old skinhead guy, who'd been wandering round the room fairly clearly looking for trouble, came to the side of the stage and said "Can i borrow your guitar?" I smiled and just said "No", believing that a FIRM HAND is what is usually in ORDER. He persisted, wanting to sing "some Dylan" and i RATHER NAUGHTILY said "Ask the other band" - i know, i am a BAD person - but then handily Carl 2Bob, who was IN CHARGE, came over and led him away. Carl, brilliantly, STOOD GUARD for the whole gig and when the bloke came back after the next song had Kind But Firm WORDS.
The rest of the set went fine - the nice thing about The Fox is there always LOADS of people who've just turned up for the fun of it, which means you get NEW people who are ready to GET INTO IT, but it also means there's people who are just there to see their pals - this, of course, is FINE, though they always seem to sit at the front and so have to SHOUT over the PA system. If I have learnt one thing in ROCK this year though it is to ACCEPT that that DOESN'T mean everybody hates me and wants me to GO, so I looked over and round them to people who were up for a listen, and had a HIGH old time. It was GRATE to be able to do The Advent Calendar Of FACT again (Standing Validator GAG: Why DON'T we do that song more often?) and i got a DEBUT PERFORMANCE for We're Old And We're Tired (and we want to go home), and was ESPECIALLY please to see a LAUGH for the "I'm missing Newsnight for this" bit... even tho that was TIM's IDEA.
Sixty gigs thus DONE I settled down for some further CHAT with the many DELIGHTFUL types there, appreciating the skilful DJ SKILLZ of Mr Nathan Persad, who moved STEALTHILY from Christmassy Songs to Old Skool SKA, ready for the next band who were one of these Young People/Old Fashioned Ska bands. I never understand how these bands even FORM - do THE KIDS stand around in the school yard saying "Well, I play trombone and you play saxophone, let's form a SKA band"? I know it's TECHNICALLY no more unlikely than three friends HAPPENING to play bass, guitar and drums, but it seems ODD to me. we discussed whether this was the Ska Revival revival revival revival or just the Ska Revival revival revival and soon it was time to head home.
On the way out I found that the bloke giving me the hassle earlier HAD been trying to cause trouble and had ended up FIGHTING the Bouncer. Ah! I wonder what would have happened if I HAD given him the guitar? INDEED, i wonder if maybe saying "YES!" to the people who do that would actually get rid of them quicker?
With these thoughts in mind I set off on my weary way back home, sixty gigs done - I know I said this last year, but I'm REALLY not planning to do that many again!
Out Of Office Auto-Reply
I've just sent out this month's newsletter and am left with a slightly alarming pile of work to finish off before heading home for CHRISTMAS this afternoon. I'm off and away to all sorts of places over the festive period, including Lewisham tomorrow night for Gig 60, so may not have much time to report back. I'll try and do a GIG REPORT on Sunday, but if I don't manage to do it by then have a LOVELY Christmas everybody, and see you back here in 2008!
Lizards In The Upstairs Bar
I was in the pub last night with my brother, his Mrs, Mr P Knight, and The Pastry Round My Mince Pie, and we were having a FINE old time when we suddenly noticed a long line of IDENTICALLY attired men going by. They ALL had the same striped trousers, long black coast, shirts and tie, and they were ALL carrying identical briefcases. Wave after wave of them went up and we fell to discussing what on EARTH was going on - a BOUNCERS' convention? SPIES? Or - as the aforesaid Ties On My Apron asserted - MASONS?
We were loudly discussing it when a small GREY coated gentleman went by. "AH!" i said "He must be the leader, he's the only one allowed to wear GREY!" "No, it's this bloke just coming in" said someone to our right, and we realised that we were stood next to even MORE black coated blokes. These ones, however, were obviously the NAUGHTY ones, who, if back seats of a bus were available would SIT on them, as they were getting in a cheeky PINT before going upstairs. I asked what it was about and they said "DEVIL WORSHIP!"
We pretended to believe them, but i asked again when we got to the bar to find that they were indeed MASONS. AHA! You'd think a SECRET SOCIETY in thrall to our LIZARD OVERLORDS would make a bit more effort about a secret dress code wouldn't you? And possibly meet in a FLYING SAUCER rather than a pub. Mind you, it was The Ship in Holborn, where the BEER is DELICIOUS.
Once they'd all gone there was much more room and we rather JOYOUSLY managed to get ourselves a proper TABLE. Pete got some Mince Pies, we discussed Highlights Of 2007, and I inadvertently drank some VERY STRONG BEER. It was CHRISTMAS-TASTIC!
Into the MURK of THE PAST
As mentioned last week, I'm currently knee-deep in a CHERISHED PROJECT to work out exactly how many gigs I've ever done, and when they were. Some of this is PEASY - 2006, for instance, was RIGOROUSLY documented, but and since late 1997 I've had an archive of the webpage to go back to, but before then it's all a bit unclear, especially 1995, when I really haven't got a clue what was going on.
As well as not remembering dates there's also the KNOTTY QUESTION of what constitutes a "gig". In recent years I've been quite LOOSE and FREE about this, especially last year in my quest for GIG 50, but in the past much less so. I _think_ radio sessions should count - there's a performance AND an audience and there's a chance people i DON'T know could be there, which are pretty my criteria - but in the past i haven't logged them, so are missing from several years. I also think my brief career in stand-up counts, for the same reason, but surely AMATEUR DRAMATICS don't? HENCE in 1991 I've counted our CABARET CLUB at The Fringe, but NOT the MUSICAL that I played in - is that right? Or should that count too?
The weirdest bit is finding NOTES i wrote over a decade ago saying "Thursday - headline?" What does THAT mean? In that particular case I've got a VERY rough date for it, but no memory of what it actually was. In other cases i have a DETAILED memory of the event, but no clue as to when it happened - The Framlingham Festival, for instance, MY WORD I could tell you some tales about THAT weekend, or the time Brian & The Teenagers held a festival in their back garden, but when - WHEN? - did they occur?
Just in case anyone DOES remember any of these, here's my ROUGH NOTES on the missing gigs:
?/7?/93 Chris’s first gig was at Princess Charlotte with Prolapse, an all-dayer
?/6/94 Bull & Gate – Jon Fat Beast gig
?/6ish/94 Solo – Zac’s birthday
?/6ish/94 Solo - Supporting a Heavy Metal band?
?/?/94 K-Stars gigs?
?/?/94 Ernie & Joe?
?/?/95 The Council in Nottingham, with Bloom
?/?/95 5 or 6 AAS nights, 3 missing – when?
?/?/95 “Several” spots at City Acoustic Club at charlotte
?/?/95 Council at Physio (doing date booked for “Welcome To The Market”)
?/?/96 Solo gigs at Ox and Charlotte Acoustic Nights
?/?/96 “Leicester’s GREAT!” at the Ox
?/?/96 Brian & The Teenagers back garden festival
?/?/96 Framlingham Festival!
?/?/97 Hibbett/FPV gigs at the Ox
?/?/97 The Fabiens – Coventry, Physio & Firkin + 2 more
?/?/97 Durham Ox Singers gigs
It's not really very clear, is it? I think, in the New Year, I'll HASSLE some of the other people involved to see if they have A SINGLE CLUE - it's FAR too important to WORLD HISTORY to let lie!
As you can probably see, it's time for us to put up the Christmas Decorations, with the rather WHIZZY Christmas Logo you can see above you. If you're reading this on Myspace then yes, there's a new logo there too, but I suggest you HIE yourself over to the main site to have a look at it in its full MAJESTY.
Just in case it's not obvious, it's meant to be a representation of The Advent Calendar Of FACT. I've been meaning to do something like this for the past couple of years, and even set to trying to learn FLASH last year in order to make it happen, but in the end i've gone for a GIF. Really, if I'd've thought of it earlier, i could have made it open day by day, but maybe next year eh?
This is the album of people who've played at Pop Art gigs covering songs by OTHER people who've played it, and our contribution is the cover of "Songs About You" by The Language Of Flowers, which we recorded a couple of months ago. It all looks RATHER good I must say, i would COMMEND it to you!
It was AWAY from work and HO! for the super-delightful St Pancrac INTERNATIONAL on Friday night, where I discovered that in all the delight and excitement of setting uop nobody remembered that it MIGHT be an IDEA to put any signs up pointing to where to domestic tickets were on sale, so i nearly missed my train. I ALSO nearly went and had a bit of a COMPLAIN about it all, but that would have made me miss it altogether, so SILENCE, i felt, was the best policy.
In Leicester I was met from the station by Mr T McClure and we headed back to his house, on the way getting a call from Mr T Pattison telling us to get some Mince Pies on the way. I'm sure George Martin was always ringing The Beatles with JUST such demands, so we were powerless to deny him and set off for the local TESCO EXPRESS to get some. I was filled with NOSTALGIA when we went in, as this was the very same Tesco Express I would stagger to of a Sunday morning when I lived round the corner, to buy POSH THINGS for my Sunday Breakfast, but this nostalgia was slightly broken by the SMALL ROW I had at the counter where it took five minutes and two staff members before anybody would believe that £1.28 is NOT the correct change from a twenty for six quid. It felt as if The Dark Gods Of Being A Bit Middle Class And Stoppy were trying to TEMPT me over to there side, but I would not relent.
Next stop was Woodhouse Eaves to pick up Mrs E Pattison, where I popped in and said hello to Miss E and Miss L Pattison, the former of whom rather kindly made me a cheese sandwich. I was TOUCHED!
We headed NORTH to Stoke, SINGING all the way... partly due to Christmassy NESS, partly due to the FACT that me and Emma needed to learn the words to the Festive Tunes. We arrived after a small argument with Tom's SatNav to discover Mr F Machine and Mr Pattison just unpacking. They both appeared rosy cheeked and full of yuletide high spirits, largely because they'd spent their journey listening to, and discussing, The Fall, and once we got inside Frankie was DELIGHTED to find a painting of their OTHER mutual favourite (and the only band the rest of the Validators DEMANDED should be turned off whilst on tour), MARILLION. There were photographs taken.
We said hello to everyone and got ourselves set up and soundchecked nice and quickly, MOSTLY because we are SO PROFESSIONAL also CARING for the needs of other bands, and also very very slightly so that we could go off and have a CURRY. We went to Planet Bollywood (RAH!) and I must say it was LOVELY. We VALIDATE it as a place to visit should you find yourself in Stoke, the staff were dead nice, the food was GRATE, and we had a LOVELY time. I'm sure we were meant to discuss band policy, but I don't think we ever got around to it. EVERYBODY ELSE (not me) was too busy making RUDE JOKES. As you can probably gather, i was APPALLED.
We got back to find all SORTS of smashing people had turned up, like Mr Ray Dann, Rocker, and The Nottingham Posse, although there weren't QUITE enough people to eat the HUGE pile of Mince Pies we'd bought, so some ended up coming home with me. We'd arrived just in time for The Deirdres, who were EXCELLENT, and then those lovely Horowitz chaps, and then it was time for US to take to the stage and do THIS:
It was BRILLIANT. There was a BIG singalong during Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid, and after that i thought "I need a WEE". This NEVER happens to me during gigs, so maybe it is a sign of AGE, but during the FUTURE MUSIC section of Do The Indie Kid I thought "I might as well go then", and DID. I was just making my DRAMATIC RETURN to the stage afterwards when I was RUGBY TACKLED by Fairy, Drummer Of The Deirdres. Despite his nickname, he's a STRONG LAD, and I had visions of never making it back but eventually he RELEASED me, and I was able to get to the end of the song. It was BRILL!
There was a LOT of chat, a BIG (untutored) "Oi Hibbett!" in Easily Impressed and then we did YET ANOTHER of Tim's Christmas Ideas (see also Mince Pies, Tinselly Drum Kit, BUT NOT me being tied up in Christmas Wrapping during the first song) for The Advent Calendar Of FACT. Emma handed round song sheets and we made everyone join in on the chorus, ESPECIALLY at the end where we stopped playing, Tim came out to do lead vocals, and i CONDUCTED THE CROWD - if you're on Facebook (and haven't left due to overdoses of zombies throwing snowballs at you or whatever) i THINK you'll be able to see a VIDOE of it HERE. The best bit, I reckon, is right at the end when Tim RUNS back to the kit to come back in just in time for a ROUSING final chorus. It was GRATE!
After that we came back for an encore and did TWO songs, just because I wanted to, and then settled down to packing up and A Bit Of A Chat. As I say, there were a LOT of nice people so it took a little while, and it was rather late by the time me and Tom re-entered THE TIGERMOBILE for the voyage South. Next day I was bloody knackered, but by GOLLY it was worth it, what a LOVELY final Validators Gig of 2007 it had been!
HOORAH! I've just had a phone call from Carl 2Bob in FAIRY GODMOTHER mode: "Yes, Cinderhibbett, you SHALL play sixty gigs this year!" he spake, ENCHANTINGLY, for LO! I'm now playing next Saturday at The Fox & Firkin, on first supporting JD & The Longfellows. Sixty gigs! COME ON!
For now tho I must hurry to be away, for tonight we play in STOKE, and i am RIGHT looking forward to it!
Like Tourists Do
Ooh, we had a right proper LONDON Night Out last night, drinks, a meal and a show - DELIGHTFUL!
I went to meet The Date On My Ticket from work at St James's Park (POSH) and then we went for a STROLL - on the way we passed a street full of Gentlemen's Clubs, one of which had massive FLAMING TORCHES outside. It looked like the HELLFIRE CLUB or something, with the effect being slightly spoilt by the dribble of Top Man Suited mildly embarrassed looking middle-aged chaps who were shuffling in. I mean, they COULD have been our Lizard Overlords heading for a secret Illuminati meeting for all I know, but they didn't look it.
Anyway, we STROLLED across St James's Park which was LOVELY. It's very odd to be in the centre of London and be in almost total darkness, but that's how it was as there were no street lamps, and that meant that everything around the edge of the park showed up in glorious technicolour. It was like being in a dormant snow globe of LONDON, as all around us we could see THE SIGHTS - Buckingham Palace, The Houses Of Parliament, and hanging over the stream with a blue reflection, The London Eye. It was BRILLIANT.
We went and had our TEA then headed yet further NORTH to the 229 club, rather handily spotting Messrs Walsh and Dhanendran in The Albany on the way. This is the pub where they put on their London Loves nights, so I was just about to say "We were just talking about you!" as we put our heads round the door when James said "We were just talking about you!" KRAZY TIMES!
Once inside the venue (which is a bit like a student halls function room, and indeed MAY BE SO) we said a quick hello to a passing Chris T-T then bumped into Mr J Kell and DAN, so sat down for a chat with them. It's lovely going to gigs where you meet people you know, it is one of my FAVOURITE THINGS.
Soon Mr C T-T was on, and he was, as ever, GRATE. He played "Seven Hearts", which is my BEST ONE and I was so moved I shed a MANLY TEAR. It's a brilliant song that, and indeed the whole set made you feel like a Better Person just for listening to it, although I must admit afterwards I thought "I must try harder!" SUCH is the Improving/Invigorating nature of his gigs. ALSO there were a couple of new songs, which sound ACE. He was starting one about a discussion at a graveside (i don't know the name) and John turned round and said "Now, this is a good one." He was CORRECT. I was fully expecting "Preaching To The Converted" at the end, as "Giraffes" had been near the start, but instead got "When The Huntsman Comes a-Marchin'". There was a LOT of shouting along.
After Chris it was Misty's Big Adventure, who i will tell anyone who asks (and many who don't) that i saw at one of their first ever gigs. In fact, I think I supported them - it was at The Jug Of Ale in Birmingham, and all I can really remember about it is that me and my brother stood transfixed at the site of ladies playing Brass Instruments while wearing flourescent green brassiers. It's the sort of thing that sticks in the mind. This WASN'T the case this time, instead they had a blue-faced man with a suit covered in hands, which is the sort of thing i am officially Not Sure About. I know some bands like to Make It More Of An Experience Than Just A Gig, but I always find DANCERS (also "lightshows") a bit distracting.
Mind you, Hand-Suit Man had COMPETITION from a BIG FAN in the audience - it was really sweet, he kept turning round to other members of the crowd and THROWING SHAPES, exhorting them to join in, and singing ALL the words. People around him were at first ALARMED then AMUSED by the whole thing, as is CORRECT.
Finally it was The Black Arts, a supergroup comprising members of Black Box Recorder and Art Brut. They've got a Christmas Single out, so that's what they were there to do and, to be honest, although it reminded me why i like Art Brut, it also rather reminded me why i DON'T like Black Box Recorder. The Black Box Recorder guys sat in the centre of the stage and looked rather pleased with themselves, singing a pretty tuneless song about how this was going to be Christmas Number One. It was all a bit smug, I have to say, and not helped by the fact a large part of the lyric was saying that they're going to have to bring back Top Of The Pops for Christmas, to cater for this song.
Er... don't they already do that, every year? You'd think that if you were going to make a big deal out of namechecking an ICON OF POPULAR CULTURE then it might be an idea to have actually WATCHED it recently. I didn't like it, but it made the other half of the group even more loveable, as Mr Argos stood to the side shouting "Top Of The Pops!" like he meant it (which, I feel, he does) and when he sang HIS bits about Aunts and Uncles and stuff it actually felt VERY CHRISTMASSY INDEED. It were lovely.
ALSO there was someone else playing UKELELE on the other side of the stage. "That looks like the bloke from David Devant" i thought... and LO! it WAS! Eddy Argo was dressed up in an Elvis Jumpsuit, which one suspects he'd done especially for the occasion, but The Vessel was fully made up with hair done in a SPARKLY CATSUIT and I rather think that's how he'd have turned up anyway. I never actually saw David Devant And His Spirit Wife at the time, tho i know people who saw them REALLY A LOT, and now I wish I had.
So all in all it was a rather GROOVY night out, and we stumbled out into the cold and crisp and even evening full of festive spirit, also BEER.
My copy is stuck somewhere in the BOTTOMLESS PIT that is Leytonstone Sorting Office, which is rather frustrating as it is PACKED with Validator Approved bands like The Bobby McGees, The Gresham Flyers, and The Deirdres, and i must say the OTHER songs that I've so far managed to hear via MeSpace are also rather GRATE. It all sounds dead good, also FESTIVE, so I would encourage one and all to GET one. For lo, it is CHRISTMAS!
1995: THE FORBIDDEN ZONE
It was a strangely Old Fashioned weekend for me this weekend, tho it did not start that way - i got a stern knock at the door about 9am to tell me that my EXCITING New Computer had arrived! WHOO! This is all part of the general transformation of our Downstairs Spare Room into my UBER DEN, and I gleefully set to unpacking it. I'd tried to get as many BELLS, also WHISTLES as I could, but I was still surprised to find the immensity of the sound system I'd bought - my computer now has a SUPER WOOFER! ZOINKS!
Twenty minutes after THAT arrived there was ANOTHER knock on the door - my new SIDEBOARD was here! I'd got this for TWO purposes - as a means to hide all the guitar cases/sleeping bags/boxes full of tapes that were sitting around with nowhere else to live, but also for something to put my STEREO on top of. I was just about to get it BUILT when The Women went off to Tesco, so i nipped upstairs and did a quick TRANSFER of my files from our old computer onto my portable hard drive, then DELETED lots of old rubbish, so that it would be clear and free for The Command Prompt Of My Operating System to use as HER computer from now on.
Aren't I a GRATE boyfriend? So kind, so caring, so... accident prone when it comes to computers. Later on we switched it back on and it said "INVALID SYSTEM DISK". "Ah! It's just a floppy disk in the disk drive!" i thought, FORGETTING that nobody has USED them for about 9,000 years - what it LOOKS like has happened is that i had accidentally DELETED something. ARGH! THUS we were left without Interweb Access for the whole weekend - I didn't want to load BT Broadband onto the new computer yet, LEST it update EVERYTHING and make it inoperable on the OLD (Windows 98!) machine if we got that working again, so we spent an amazingly TRANQUIL couple of days NOT checking our emails. It was actually quite nice and like OLDEN TYMES. When I got into work this morning i was Quite Excited at the prospect of all the emails I might have got over the weekend... and got in to find 5 facebook notifications and some SPAM. WHOO!
Anyway, thus unhooked from THE FUTURE I was free to spend ABOUT SIX HOURS manhandling the sideboard together. You know those flatpack furniture items you get that are like clever MODELS, where everything slides into little slots and it's all done with 5 dowl plugs and a Securing Screw in about half an hour? THIS WASN'T ONE OF THOSE. By the time I'd finished it was DARK, i had BLISTERS on my hand and EVERYTHING ACHED. I might as well have made it myself!
STILL, it did look RATHER nice and all that effort meant I got to spend Sunday on rather more RELAXING pursuits, not least LAUNCHING into a Long Cherished Project: tracking down ALL the gigs I've ever done. For some parts of my life this was VERY easy - from 1991 to 1993 I pretty religiously TAPED every gig we did, and wrote it down somewhere, and KEPT it all, and then from mid-1996, when we did the big Voon Reunion, I did the same, leading up to late 1997 when I got on the Internet. HOWEVER, almost the whole of 1995 is a MYSTERY to me. I'm pretty sure i DID do some gigs - my diary for the year vaguely mentions some, The Council were still on the go, and I recorded the first of my cassettes that year, but when any of it happened I have no idea. I'm going to get it all sorted out and online soon, then get Those Who Were There to have a look, although to be honest most of them were in at LEAST as much of a STATE as I was, so I don't hold out much hope!
It was all very jolly anyway - I'm vaguely thinking of going back and doing a SIMILAR things with all these gigs as I'm doing with "My Exciting Life In ROCK" over on the PopArt Digest, though it'll be a while before I get the time to do it. There is still a LOT to get through - this week, the formation of The Validators and our first gig - Tomfoolery, also GIGGLING, AHOY!
I went to GOSH, the EXCELLENT Comic Shop this lunchtime, and was rather guiltily leafing through "Countdown: Arena", which is pretty much the HEIGHT of Utter Fanboy Nonsense. QUICK VERSION: they've just brought back the DC Comics MULTIVERSE, which means that there's 52 different versions of the ENTIRE UNIVERSE, each universe having it's own Planet Earth, and most of these Earths having their own versions of the DC Superheroes. Cleverly they've made a lot of these Universes the setting of one of their Classic Series - Earth 31, for instance, appears to be where The Dark Knight Returns happened, Earth 9 is The New Frontier etc etc. This opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities for interaction between these formerly seperated works of LITERATURE, and it also opens up the chance for these different versions of classic superheroes to be brought together. AND TO HAVE A BIG FITE!
So, I was looking at this, thinking "I know it's stupid... but I also want to buy it" when I heard an Oddly Familiar voice behind me. I turned around and there, stood in the entrance of the shop, was ALAN MOORE! ALAN MOORE! One of my absolute all-time OH MY GOODNESS HEROES! ALSO arguably the most influencial British ARTIST currently alive and still working in ANY artform - ALAN MOORE!!
You know how in Situation Comedies people tend to FAINT at this sort of moment? That is EXACTLY how I felt. Looking around I saw other people look over, appear STUNNED, and then try to act nonchalant, and the whole shop rang to the sound of quiet CASUAL HUMMING and people trying to contain the urge to scream "OH MY GOOD GOD! IT'S ALAN MOORE!"
When I told The Panels In My Page Layout about this later she asked "Are you sure it was him?" Well, he was with Melinda Gebbie, he had a Northampton accent and everybody called him Alan. Oh yes, and he was A NINE FOOT TALL WARLOCK TRAVELLING THROUGH THE IMAGISPHERE ON A MAGIC CARPET! ALAN! MOORE!
I wondered whether I should go and say hello, or even to just say "Thank You", but from past experience of meeting My All Time Heroes (e.g. nearly falling over when meeting Billy Bragg and then RUNNING AWAY) I thought I'd leave it. The shop owner soon came up and took him and Melinda downstairs, at which point the whole shop VISIBLY RELAXED, and there were outbreaks of NERVOUS GIGGLING.
As I paid for my comics I felt vaguely ashamed - I've not bought "Lost Girls" yet (tho i did get "The Black Dossier" last week - REVIEW: dead good, needs another read, gave up on the Beat Poet bit tho) and here I was buying "Countdown: Arena" instead? Thinking about it, it's probably a good job i didn't say hello, he might have punished my foolishness by turning me into a FROG or something.
Alan Moore tho! I think I'd better have a lie down...
Working From Home
I had a lovely day Working From Home Yesterday, as I pretty much ALWAYS do. There's something about not wearing any socks and listening to LOUD ROCK AND ROLL MUSIC that makes database design SO much more fun, I think.
I'd stayed at home SPECIFICALLY because my new computer was meant to be arriving, so when they rang me to say it wouldn't be coming i was ANNOYED. "BAH!" I said "I have taken the day off work and cannot POSSIBLY do the same tomorrow!" I HARRUMPHED, fibbing slightly. I was just about to say "It's SIMPLY NOT GOOD ENOUGH!" when i realised a) they'd rung at 10am to let me know, so i wasn't hanging around all day b) I didn't NEED it today c) they were apologising, and would bring it on Saturday and d) this meant i didn't have to sit around in SILENCE waiting for the doorbell. Ah! That's all right then!
THUS, once I'd got done everything I needed to do, I treated myself to a ROCK AND ROLL SESSION, recording a demo of We're Old And We're Tired (and we want to go home) for the Vlads at HIGH VOLUME, featuring My New Tambourine. While Christmas shopping the other day I saw that Habitat (yes, I Christmas Shop in Habitat, i am DEAD SOPHISTICATED) were selling tambourines, so BOUGHT one... just after knocking down a huge pile of them and made a racket like an indie band slipping down a staircase. ALSO it was fun wandering around the shop with it, sounding like RUDOLPH had come looking for a new SLED.
It sounded quite FESTIVE actually, i may take it with me to STOKE for our Christmas songs! MAYBE!
Old And Tired
It seems like a LONG LONG time since we last had a NEW SONG - there's not been one since the SONG FRENZY of the A Million Ukeleles SESSIONS, i don't think - so it is with some JOY that I give you We're Old And We're Tired (and we want to go home). As it says in the accompanying NOTES, it was writ after Sunday's gig in Sheffield, and has pretty much come our how i wanted it too. DEMO VERSION AHOY!
It feels like a very FITTING tune at the moment I must say, having had only ONE day not going out in the past NINE, i is KNACKERED. The revelry continued after work on Monday, when I went up to St Pancras INTERNATIONAL to meet my parents off the Eurostar. It was my Mum's 60th birthday, so we went to The Champagne Bar for CHAMPAGNE. This whole thing about it being "the longest Champagne Bar in the world" is a bit of a CON i reckon - you sort of get the idea that that means a really long BAR as in Serving Area, but actually that bit's pretty tiny. As far as I can see it just means that it's quite a long way from one end of the seating area to the other, which it IS, but i wouldn't have thought you'd promote that as an advantage - it's also probably the coldest, noisiest, thinnest, least well thought out Champagne Bar in the world too. When you've got a wheelie suitcase, as most people getting on or off the Eurostar HAVE, there's only room for one person to walk alongside the tables, and, as it IS so long and thin, you have to do that to see if there's actually anywhere to sit, BUT if someone else wants to get out you have to retreat ALL THE WAY BACK. It's DAFT!
Mind you, the whole rest of the station is ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC, especially the John Betjeman statue, that's BRILLIANT that is - after all the fuss about the Huge Snogging Statue, it was definitely the John Betjeman one that everyone was taking pictures of, as it is SO LOVELY. My parents also spotted The Designer, As Seen On Telly, and it was VERY tempting to go up to him and say "Well done", it's HEARTENING to see such a massive public project done so NICELY.
And then LAST night it was our work's Christmas Do, which was all going as to plan until one of our Fieldworkers revealed that NOT ONLY did she used to go out with Martin Carthy, NOT ONLY did she hang around at Ewan MacColl's house BUT ALSO she had been to see Bob Dylan play at The Free Trade Hall, a.k.a. THE MOST IMPORTANT GIG IN THE HISTORY OF ROCK!!!!
I was, and still am, GOBSMACKED! I speak to her on the phone nearly every week and had NO IDEA - next time she rings I'm going to try and get her to say "JUDAS!", just to check...
There was VIVID DISCUSSION of running orders and other matters on the trip North to Sheffield, followed by FEAR and CONFUSION as we got a little bit lost, but once we got to The Red House all was EASY. We parked The CMV VAN about 3 feet from the front door, and found the STAGE was not even as far again inside. SMASHING. We even took our empty bags and boxes outside again to keep them clear later on!
The night was promoted by King Of Men Mr Pete Green, who said to us when we arrived "Good news! There'll be no trouble with sets over-running, the bands can keep playing until MIDNIGHT!" I fear we may have disappointed him with our reaction, as we all INSTANTLY thought "OH NO - i'll be out WAY past my bed time!"
The Deirdres were soundchecking first, and as there were SEVEN on them we INTUITED that it might be a while before our turn, so we got back in the van, got slightly lost again, and found a kebab house so Tom could have some TEA. Back at the venue we found things were still going on with our INCREDIBLY YOUTHFUL gig-mates, and also that literally (not literally) MILLIONS of lovely people were turning up - it was BRILLIANT, everywhere you turned there was somebody we a) LIKED and b) EITHER had gigged with OR had a gig put on by. LOVELY!
We got our soundcheck, settled down with beers and soon the evening was OFF, with Nat from Monkey Swallows The Universe doing her first solo gig and obviously inciting a LOT of people to come down to see her - it was RAMMED. Next up it was me and Pete's TOUR BUDDIES The 10p Mixes, who it was GOOD to see again, and then it was US, doing THIS:
It was BLOODY GRATE! OH we had a marvellous time - there was SHOUTING, there was DANCING, there was SINGING ALONG and there was BANTER - i was especially pleased to have HONED the GAG about Songs Being Verified By People Who Were THERE. I tried it on Friday with Mileage being able to verify that his father had INDEED said "It doesn't really matter if you're straight or gay, all that matters is love" but it did BETTER when I pointed out that Mr Chris Gilmour having been present at the gig mentioned in Mental Judo, and that having songs verifiable was a practice to be encouraged. "I understand Bruce Springsteen's Midwife turns up at his gigs to confirm that he WAS Born To Run." This, i thought, was quite clever, until BOTH Tim AND Markie In The Audience said "But WHERE was he Born?" In the USA, obviously.
So yes, it was all VERY jolly, and things continued in that vain with The Deirdres, who were GRATE. LOADS of people have been telling me lately how brilliant they are, and they were CORRECT. It's SEVEN (7!) people all playing various instruments, shouting, clapping hands, dancing around, and very obviously having a FANTASTIC time, which becomes INFECTIOUS. The only thing i DIDN'T like about them was how VERY VERY YOUNG they all were, MAN, it made me feel old!
After the gig it seemed like EVERYONE was going to be coming to STOKE in a couple of weeks where it's us, The Deirdres and Horowitz playing together, and talk on the long journey home was very EXCITED at the prospect. We got to Tim's at about 1am and then by the time we'd got to Tom's and had a cup of MINT TEA (rather than the usual WHISKY) it was two in the morning. Two in the morning! Who says we don't ROCK LIKE BEASTS eh? Answer: NOBODY!
Life On The Road
Between Friday night's gig in Birmingham and Sunday night's in Sheffield I had a day and a bit ZOOMING around the Midlands. Here then is an INSIGHT into Life On The Road!
I woke up in the night to be SICK, which i have only done approx FOUR times in my adult life, so spent Saturday morning feeling a bit sorry for myself. We were just about to go for a Big Healthy Walk when i VOMITTED rather a LOT, so while The Family Bates and The Laces In My Walking Boots set off for a HIKE i returned to the Z-Bed and dozed off watching Football Focus.
LIFE ON THE ROAD! ROCK AND ROLL!
I was gradually feeling a bit better, so we carried on with THE PLAN, heading to Lichfield Trent Valley Station to get the train, along with LOADS of Aston Villa Fans, into Birmingham New Street. True to form, it was Hell On Earth - dark, stinking, ill-signed and all round horrible. The air was FULL of announcements about not smoking and not forgetting your luggage, but when The Time On My Timetable's train to London DISAPPEARED from the boards they said NOTHING. She ended up getting a train which, apparently, DID NOT EXIST, while i ran off to get my train to Leicester - formerly Central Trains, the WORST TRAIN COMPANY EVER, this was now East Midlands, tho still pretty horrific - i had to FITE to get into the train, and the LOCKED the doors five minutes before setting off as they could not fit ANYBODY else in. One woman next to me had a panic attack and her friend kept up a SCREECHING COMMENTARY about how awful it was FOR THE WHOLE HOUR'S JOURNEY. It was not fun.
LIFE ON THE ROAD! ROCK AND ROLL!
I was EXTREMELY grateful to get to Leicester, checked into my HOTEL, then got a taxi over to Scenic Aylestone Village to see The Lawsons. We had a LOVELY evening involving home cooking, chat, A Tour Of The House (in the nicest possible way,it seems FAR to nice for one of MY friends to be allowed to live in) and some RED WINE. OH yes! We watched a bit of telly too, as chosen by Chris's TEENAGE SON (surely that makes him nearly as old as ME?!?), "Peep Show", featuring SWEARING. It was EXTREMELY FUNNY to realise that this was making CHRIS incredibly uncomfortable, like someone's DAD watching Unsuitable Television with you when you're a teenager... because that's what it WAS! It's nice to know some things never change!
Soon it was time to go home and, still feeling a bit dicky, i was grateful to get into bed at a reasonable time to have a REALLY BIG KIP.
INSANE GUITAR SOLO! LET'S ROCK!
I got up LATE on Sunday and sat in bed watching The Andrew Marr Show and reading the paper. DELIGHTFUL. Just after noon Doctor Neil Brown arrived and we ZOOMED off to Mountsorrel, taking a diversion to see The Most Exciting Development In Leicester (Chris had also mentioned it and it was nearly the first thing Tim said to me later on) - the demolition of Upperton Road Bridge. It was BRAIN MELTING to drive to Narborough on FLAT LAND and NOT over a local landmark (known as "The Boring Bridge" in my day) that had been there for over a century. WEIRD!
Anyway, we got to Mountsorrel and visited The Stonehurst Family Farm, which was LOVELY. We enjoyed SCONES and rather a lot of TEA, popped into the Farm Shop, said hello to the Donkey, and walked around the Actually Rather Good MOTOR MUSEUM. A CHARMING interlude!
LIFE ON THE ROAD! ROCK AND ROLL!
Neil dropped me off at The Pattison's, and I sat in the kitchen talking to Tim while he made Sunday dinner, and then did some drawing with The Girls - i drew a Gorilla making pancakes, and was rather pleased with it. Emma got home from a CRAFT FAYRE she'd had a stall at, we had our TEA, and then Tom "The Tiger" McClure arrived, so we packed up the VAN and headed off to SHEFFIELD for our next gig.
As is my CUSTOM I took the love Chiltern Train to Birmingham, from Marylebone to Snow Hill, and as ever it was PACKED. It was the last train for their "Just £15" offer, so unsurprisingly so, but all was well and I spent most of the trip (and most of the rest of the spare minutes of the weekend) reading The Black Dossier, which I got on Thursday. REVIEW: it's very INTERESTING, but quite hard going, especially the BEAT bit, which i just gave up on. I needs to read the annotations i think!
Anyway, i got to Birmingham fine and impressed myself by getting NEARLY all the way to the venue using my BRANE instead of a MAP, and found Mr Ray Dann and Mr Timothy Pattison already there, with drums. We went downstairs to the cocktail bar and had some MOJITOS and as ALWAYS happens they took about 10 times as long to get made and be handed over than they did to actually drink, and the entire process was accompanied by the internatl THORT TRANE: "I wish I was having a PINT". I fear i am BEHIND in current bar trends.
Tom and Emma arrived and we piled into the Large Vegan Buffet provided by Ray, which was ACE, and then had a bit of PANIC re. Mr Frankie Machine arriving, also The Chickpeas In My Hummus - Frankie was stuck on a broken train for a couple of hours but made it just in time, while afforsaid Flour In My Muffin was met at the station by Ray. I rang to see if all was well and was ALARMED to hear that Ray was getting HASSLED BY THE PIGS, as a Drunk Man had claimed he'd followed him into the station. Ray turned up at the venue IRATE, weilding an Incidence Report!
We did the soundcheck fine, and people started to arrive, including The Lovely Mr & Mrs Bates, with whom we were staying, and Mr W Pilkington, erstwhile Merch Manager. We watched Winston Echo, who I've not seen in FAR too long, and then it was US, and we did THIS:
We had a LOVELY time - it's been AGES, it seems, since we played in the full line-up, and it's always a joy so to do. I think the sound was a bit Crash Bang Wallop, but people seemed to get into it, and i did have a LOT of fun talking between the songs, especially when i got a SURPRISE during the first song. My Pal From School, Mr Mark Guest, SWOOPED in just as we were starting and said "I've got a surprise for you!" and indeed he did, for he was followed by MILEAGE, as featured in both The Gay Train and Do The Indie Kid. Hilariously, as ever, he absolutely refused to be phased by me singing about him, even when I pointed him out to everybody in the room and went ON about it, he smiled beautifically throughout.
After us it was The Icicles, who were GRATE - and even better on the ALBUM which we all got ourselves copies of later - and also dead nice when we had a chat afterwards. TERRIFYINGLY there were playing IndieTracks the next night and then going straight to the airport to fly home to America, because some of them had to be in work today - YARGH!
There was a LOT more chat and wandering around, as the room seemed to be FILLED with lovely people I'd not seen for ages, and it felt rather late when we piled into the Bates Mobile to head to their's, via a chippy. WHAT a nice evening!