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Saturday dawned on me, the conference centre, lake, flyover, ancient alleyways, canals, spacecraft landing point, and all the OTHER multi-various architectural features that can be found within any ten square metres of Birmingham, and I headed off to get some breakfast then LURK ABOUT, reading the paper, drinking TEA and generally having a bit of a mini-HOLIDAY. It's not very ROCK AND ROLL, I know, but a lot of the NICEST bits of being On The Road are when you get to just sit around, because there's not really much else you CAN do. The best bit was reading the paper in the grounds of Birmingham Cathedral, MARVELLING at the huge RANGE of black-clad EMO TEENS moping around, trying to look tortured and troubled while also being GLEEFUL to see each other. Aaaah, it were lovely!
A swift train journey (during which two old ladies got on - i was just ADMIRING their shopping trolleys when one of them took out the exact same issue of PUZZLER as I had with me - these pensioners in The Midlands are SO rock and roll!) found me in scenic STOURBRIDGE, where Ray picked me off and we ZOOMED away to the CO-OP OFF WINE STORE. I'd never heard of such a thing, but there it was, flogging BOOZE on strict socialist co-operative principles. Whilst in the shop I was reacquainted with the clear FACT about people from The Midlands: they are just the right kind of LOVELY i.e. VERY lovely, but not so over-friendly that it gets oppresive. I know i am FROM The Midlands, but still, it is a purely unbiased analysis of THE FACTS when i say it is THE BEST BIT.
Loaded with BEER we went of to his house where I met Mr & Mrs Ray's Parents again, also Charlie The Dog, who took an IMMEDIATE shine to me so that I spent much of the rest of the day LOBBING his ball over the fence for him. Many other people gradually arrived, including Mr & Mrs Pete Green, with whom I discussed Primary Care Trusts, Communications Strategies, and Creating Art For Financial Gain: Can It Be Done Without Compromising Your Integrity?
And we drank some beer too. Ray got the BUFFET out and we all tucked in while Pete gave us a GRATE set, then there was more GRUB before I went on and did THIS:
It was a LOT of fun, copying Pete by taking REQUESTS as we went along. My favourite bit was a SUPER-EXTENDED version of It Only Works Because You're Here, made longer a) by me starting it off coming down some steps, realising how GRATE that was, so doing it again b) getting chased around the garden by a WASP and c) accidentally half SWALLOWING said wasp when it got a bit too close during the chorus, spitting it out, and watching it STAGGER away, DEFEATED.
Just as I finished the taxi arrived, so there was HURRIED farewells to those not coming with us into town, and then we were AWAY. On the way i MORTALLY OFFENDED Ray by confessing that I thought his cheesecake was actually Shepherd's Pie. What i MEANT was that that's what I thought it had been BEFORE EATING IT, but at the time it seemed funnier to ask if he had any GRAVY with it. To me, anyway.
Once in Brum Central we went to The Wellington, an AMAZING Real Ale Pub with FIFTEEN different beers on the go, also CIDERS and PERRY, SEVERAL of which we managed to have a taste of between us during a HIGHLY enjoyable SESSION during which SEVERAL wrongs were righted. If you noticed the world being nudged slightly more towards CORRECTNESS on Saturday afternoon, that was us.
All too soon it was time for me to head off home - I was worried about the trains being PACKED, as Virgin had CANCELLED all their trains for the weekend, but it was FINE. Virgin have been running a campaign saying "No trains on Saturday or Sunday - what a great excuse for a long weekend!!" because, like all major train networks, they think people only ever use trains at weekend on a WHIM and never actually have to GO anywhere for any reason. I can only assume usual train users were so ANNOYED by their patronising/stupid attitude that they chose to BOYCOTT travel.
It was a long journey home, but I got in just before midnight, KNACKERED. The GRATE thing tho is it was SUCH a long activity packed weekend that my BRANE is CONVINCED that today is Monday, and I'm bunking off! HOORAH!
The Actress & Bishop
I had a spare half day's annual leave to take before the end of September, so on Friday i TOOK it, and thus got on the 14.20 Chiltern Railways train to Birmingham Snow Hill, leaving from Marylebone. I've said it before and will now say it again: it's SO much nicer going to Birmingham this way. YES it takes a bit longer than the Virgin Trains, but only about half an hour (and the Virgin train STILL takes a ludicrous 2 hours to get to our Second City from our First, is STUPID), and it COSTS about a THIRD the price (£18 for an open return!!). ALSO you get to go FROM Marylebone, which is a lovely station, TO Snow Hill, as opposed to FROM Euston (London's LEAST pleasant station) TO New Street (THE WORST PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE). It's lovely!
ALSO fairly lovely was wondering through Birmingham. I was a bit alarmed at first as I thought I'd stumbled on a major crime scene, as there were loads of COPS everywhere... then realised I was going past the police station. AHA! It's a funny old place though Birmingham, it's like a SIM-CITY town where someone's got the cheat codes and put EVERYTHING all on top of each other. It makes NO sense whatsoever.
THUS I walked out of an old 70's railyway station, through a skyscraper, into a PLAZA, then past some factories, a Victorian Police Station, a hospital that looked as if 15 different REALITIES had crashed on top of each other, over a 60's flyover and straight into OPEN FIELDS and a LAKE! This last bit was the campus for Aston University. I'd booked a room in their Conference Centre via Late Rooms, and was expecting to be staying in an unoccupied Student Room, but found myself in an INCREDIBLY plush room. It was all a bit weird tho, it was part of the University Business School so was a BUSINESS HOTEL, as imagined by UNIVERSITY LECTURERS.
This meant that the ROOM was really plush, but the TV only had 5 terrestial channels - Business People have no time for TELLY!! Check-out was at 9.30am, as Business People need to get to BUSINESS! There was access to FITNESS CENTRES, as Business People need to be FIT... but it was the student swimming pool, and you needed vouchers to use it. ALSO it was staffed by giggling students, who were lovely, but very very giggly, or,in the evening, EXTREMELY SURLY members of the Estates Department.
It was VERY cheap tho, and VERY nice - I would recommend it, especially as I seemed to be the only person staying there!
Having left work extra early I had a SMASHING couple of hours sat around reading, doing PUZZLER PUZZLES and watching Telly before I had to head off into town to The Actress & Bishop, where I'd been invited to play with The Graham Parsnip Liquidiser Torture Think Tank (revival) - formerly The Graham Parsnip Liquidiser Torture Think Tank (project), but they'd briefly split up and so the project became a revival instead.
I was met at the door by Jon Bon Jovi, who turned out a) to be a lovely chap b) a new member of The Graham Parsnip Liquidiser Torture Think Tank (revival) and c) a lovely chap with MANY ideas about cooking. We went upstairs and met everyone else, did our soundchecks, got some beer and were pretty much ready to GO.
On the way there I'd seen a bloke coming out of an underpass (these are LEGION in Brum) carrying a guitar. I thought "I wonder if he's going to the same place as me?" He WAS, and he was the first act on. It wasn't my sort of thing - he was MUMBLING incomprehensibly between songs, then bursting into that GRUNTING YELPING noise that some people think conveys SOUL and BEING FROM NEW ORLEANS or something, singing the usual stuff about skies being high, and, furthermore, why? NORMALLY I don't like to go on about that sort of thing on the blog, and if I don't like something try not to mention it, but I was REALLY annoyed with the fact that he'd brought some MATES with him who'd SEEMED to quite like my first song... only to be IMMEDIATELY taken downstairs by him. I wouldn't have minded so much if he hadn't come back just before the end of my set to pick up his gear, making clear that he didn't have any urgent appointments or anything, he just didn't want to listen to anyone else.
ANYWAY, this is what I did in the aforementioned SET:
It felt strangely LIBERATING to be doing songs NOT from the show, and I really rather enjoyed myself. It was quite a noisy room, and not everyone was too bothered about listening to me, but i don't mind that - i only mind when it's someone who I've sat patiently and listened to for half an hour! - and instead concentrated on playing to the people who did want to listen, of whom there were SEVERAL, and had a GRATE time. This may sound like an obvious policy to anyone else, but it really is something I appear to have LEARNT from going to Edinburgh - rather than getting PETULANT and UPSET, remember some people have ASKED you to come and play, and play to them. I did, and it was lovely!
Even better, though, was getting to see The Graham Parsnip (etc.) afterwards, who were AMAZING. They're one of those bands, like The Lovely Brothers, in fact, who are so JOLLY, fun to watch, and full of WIT and HUMOUR that you FORGET that they are HUGELY TERRIFIC and ROCKING in The Live Environment. That were absolutely FANTASTIC, making a COLOSSAL noise, having a GRATE time with the audience, and generally exuding GOOD TIMES.
Shortly afterwards I walked back to my Lush Countryside Residence with a HUGE GRIN plastered all over my face - that was BRILLIANT!
It's that time of the month again, and so The Last Working Day Of The Month has just gone out - as ever, if you'd like to get it delivered DIRECT to your inbox, and also get SPECIAL OFFERS and stuff, just sign up!
One thing that came in SECONDS too late to be FEATURED was the news that the latest issue of Thee Humbug, the fanzine from Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation is now available to order. In amongst all the usual GRATE stuff is an interview with ME, and the attached CD also features the brand new recording Honey Honey You Work Too Hard. There's only 200 copies available, so PANIC BUY NOW!
Further Adventures In Advertising
When I got home from work last night there was an email from the Advertising Guys, for whom I'd written my History Of Data Storage Sea Shanty. They liked it, but didn't really want to do it as a Sea Shanty, felt the chorus could be catchier, and that, all in all, it did read like a bit of a HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT.
This is the GRATE thing about doing Work For Hire - normally you write a song and The Vlads either like it or DON'T, and there's very really and to and fro, especially with the lyrics. You don't really NEED to go back and move things around, as there's an INFINITE supply of other songs out there. With THIS sort of thing tho you're working to a BRIEF, so having to go back and change things to order and generally IMPROVE things is EXCITING and BRILL.
That's not to say, of course, that i don't have an ATAK of PETULANCE every time it happens. "But this is MY ART!" I always think. "How COULD you?!?!"
As ever this last about as much time as it takes to make a cup of tea, and by the time I was back at my desk I was having a good old THINK. They wanted something looser, funnier, and in the RAP style. There were LOADS of suggestions so I set to WORK, taking a few bits from the old version, several of their ideas, and coming up with a couple of extra bits. As I went along i was forced to admit they were RIGHT and ended up having a WHALE of a time writing it.
I got the drums, bass, and electrical guitars done last night (I was up until 11pm doing it! ROCK AND ROLL!) then this morning did all the vocals, mixed it, and sent it off. I have to admit I was PRETTY confident this one would go down better, largely because I spent the journey home EITHER singing the chorus OR laughing at the bit about Uncle Steve on a roundabout OR (my favourite bit) going "UNIVAC! UNIVAC aaaaaah".
It makes sense when you here it, honest. Anyway, it DID go down well and is being Pitched To The Client (ADVERTISING SPEAK!) tomorrow, so we'll see what happens. I REALLY hope they like it, as I'm WELL chuffed with this one.
Meanwhile, here's the lyrics for the sea shanty version. As you'll see, it DOES come across a bit homework-y, and has a rather HARD SELL at the end, which they also asked me to remove. I've taken the product name out too, as I'm pretty sure you're not meant to disclose that, but otherwise here it is in full, the history of spinning data storage devices!
It was in 1725 Falcon and Bouchon
First used a perforatated loop to spin their loom
Then Thomas Edison devised
A phonograph that could transcribe
The spoken word onto a cylindrical tube
Invented by Pfleumer in 1928
The giant spinning wheel of magnetic tape
Which led to the Magnetic Drum
Eckert-Mauchly's UNIVAC 1
And many hours loading ZX Spectrum Games
Come let us spin spin spin Through data storage history
As we sing sing sing The Data Storage Sea Shanty
IBM's rotating 350 Hard Disk File
In 1952 could hold 5 Megabytes
Bubble Memory's spinning bits
Lost out to 8 inch floppy disks
Which shrunk to three to fit neatly in my A Drive
DAT was back to wheels of whirling 4mil tape
But come the 80's Compact Discs were all the rage
As Pyres of vinyl were all burnt
RPM fell to kiloherz
Because they worked better when spread with marmalade
Come let us spin spin spin Through data storage history
As we sing sing sing The Data Storage Sea Shanty
But like a wheel that slowly stops rotating
Or a satellite which eventually descends
The history of moving parts
Although it lives on in our hearts
Is today at last, coming to an end
So come let's bid farewell to punch cards and cassette tapes
Adieu HD-DVD and Blue-ray
Bye bye to all things that revolve
Now Data Storage has evolved
Into the **********
A new chapter begins
In Data Storage History
As we sing sing sing
The Data Storage Sea Shanty
Come let us sing sing sing
Of the *******D
An end to spinning in
The Data Storage Sea Shanty
IT Folk Songs
I was sat at home last night settling down to what I thought would be an evening of COOKERY and TELLY when an email appeared, asking me if i fancied writing another song for a possible advert. The BRIEF was to write a history of data storage devices: HOW COULD I REFUSE?
Thus I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours suddenly having to READ UP about the history of data storage since the 18th Century... and to make it RHYME. By tea-time i had used my BRANE so much my hair was standing on end like Yahoo Serious, but I was quite CHUFFED with the results. A DEMO was knocked off, mixed this morning and sent off, ready for COMMENTS. On previous occasions I've done a full big old demo, and then had to take it all to bits to make changes, so this time I am GIRDED for alterations. I will FACT the words on here when it's done, whatever happens, as I think they are WELL CLEVER.
And all this gave me an IDEA for what I could/should do next year at Edinburgh. I've been thinking about "Dinosaur Planet" quite a lot, and indeed have written a THEME TUNE, but it struck me this morning that a possible BETTER idea would be to do ALL of the songs that I've had videos of, like Hey Hey 16K, The Ballad Of Alan Moore, Do The Indie Kid and so on, telling the stories about why they were written and what happened afterwards. There's LOADS of songs written for adverts that I could wheel out, SEVERAL stories, and I could try and do it all LIVE, playing along to the videos!
FUTURISTIC huh? It DOES mean that I'd have to fork out for a data projector, but the money I'd save NOT making dinosaur costumes would probably cancel it out! "MJ Hibbett: As Seen On The Interweb", BOOK NOW!
Bank Holiday Update
As the world reflects on a GRATE Olympic games and the British Nation feels an overwhelming sense of RELIEF that Boris managed to keep his hands out of his pockets for most of the closing ceremony and DIDN'T fall over/grope one of the volunteers/drop the flag, it's time for a small UPDATE on some gig bits.
ITEM! I've just confirmed a VERY last minute gig in BIRMINGHAM this Friday night (29th) at The Actress & Bishop, with the very lovely Graham Parsnip Liquidiser Torture Think-Tank. This is rather fab as a) it's been AGES since I've played with them and b) it's the night before the traditional Ray's Mum's Back Garden FESTIVAL in Stourbridge, so should all work out RATHER nicely.
ITEM! I've also just confirmed my first foray into the world of THE DISC JOCKEY! ZOINKS! I am going to be manning the WHEELS OF STEEL at The Hangover Lounge in That London on October 12th, and GOODNESS KNOWS how I'll get on with it. Even now I am SOURCING a klaxon, a posse and some of them lights that flash on and off in time to the music. SCREAM IF YOU WANT TO GO FASTER!
ITEM! I'm currently looking around for possible venues to do a mini-tour of My Exciting Life in ROCK later in the year, so if anybody has any ideas for good places to do that, do please get in touch. In the mean time I've done a quick update to the webpage with some REVIEWS, and have remembered that the interview I did for ThreeWeeks is now online, should you wish to read it.
And that's about the lot I think. I return now to my TASK of trying to remember how to play some songs that WEREN'T in the show - it feels like MONTHS since I played any of them!
Only 364 Weeks To Go!
I went to the PUB last night for the vital Edinburgh DEBRIEF meeting with Mr S Hewitt which ended up being something of a MICROCOSM of our week there - we drank beer, ate curry, watched some of the Olympics and spoke to Steve Lamacq! Once again he dropped in, this time on the way to talk to the Stuart Maconie who was sat on the other side of the pub, it was a GLITTERING ARRAY! What a lovely man that Mr Lamacq is tho, he was all EXCITED about the Live Satellite Link Up, and i was moved to give him a BIG HUG. Aaah!
Mr Hewitt and I had SERIOUS BUSINESS to attend to tho, and DID - I am very happy to announce that we agreed a BIG YES to going back to Edinburgh next year, hopefully doing TWO weeks in the same venue (if possible) at a SLIGHTLY later time! HOORAH! All we need now is a SHOW!
My Dad, At My Age, Planned To Become A Butcher. Or An MP - Whichever Was Easiest
I've just had a conversation with an COLLEAGUE wherein i discovered that the Big Contract we were all relying on for future employment hasn't come through. This means: TERROR! Come January 2010 I could be UNEMPLOYED!!
No, it's not exactly a situation PINING for a Mike Leigh dramatisation, but it did bring me up short. A few months ago when my boss told me I might have another four years working here I must admit I did think "But surely I'll be an International Rock Star by then?!?" By this I mean a PROFESSIONAL International Rock Star of course - if there was an OLYMPICS of Rock Stars I would certainly be eligible for competition... if only in one of the categories nobody's ever heard of until we win a bronze in it. The Unloading A Van Relay maybe?
ANYWAY, the vague prospect of MAYBE having to look for alternative employment in 12 months or so, COMBINED with recent thoughts of how much i LIKE the lifestyle of a) doing gigs and, as I have been doing quite a bit lately, b) WRITING bits and bobs has made me think that MAYBE I should use this time to try a bit harder to move in that direction, ESPECIALLY the latter. I LOVE it when I get a request for an article or something from a fanzine, and also sitting down to write my bit of the PopArt Digest is always a JOY, so maybe I could have a go at some more of that? Does anyone NEED Articles Of Varying Length on diverse subjects vaguely related to ROCK?
The fact i have TIME to explore this idea is rather nice, though I am PAINFULLY aware that my current AGE may well be influencing my current thinking. As I approach, from a distance, a certain LANDMARK AGE (which certain Validators, MUCH older than me, will be celebrating next month: EEK!) I am very much on the LOOKOUT for apparently sensible plans to start riding a MOTORBIKE or going to live on a COMMUNE or something.
But still, AUTHORS are still considered YOUNG when they're MUCH older than me... and if THAT fails, I've got four years to be ready for the 2012 Olympics! Anyone got a spare SHOT PUTT?
Going For Gold M'Duck
Like pretty much everybody else in the country at the moment i am a) SWELLING with NATIONAL PRIDE as our Fabulous Athletes storm through the Olympics and b) more informed about The Keirin than I ever thought I would be i.e. I now vaguely know what it IS. That little old bloke who keeps accidentally getting onto the track with his moped, he's my FAVOURITE.
One of the BEST things about it all is how NICE they all seem to be - after years of watching very talented but INCREDIBLY DULL footballers who've been media-trained to the point where they probably call a press conference to ask for a cup of tea, it's BRILLIANT to see all these Actual Normal Human Beings on telly, and best of ALL is the fact that they've all got PROPER ACCENTS. I'm thinking especially of Rebecca Adlington's MANSFIELD accent, also the over-excited road cycling ladies - you get so used to hearing ACTORS doing the same standard accents all the time (e.g. brummie for ALL Midlands accents) or politicians being either POSH or SCOTTISH, that to actually hear normal British accents outwith the M25 is rather strange and rather wonderful.
And, of course, now we FINALLY have a Peterborian Olympian, in the form of Louis Smith - he went to school in WERRINGTON! He lives in EYE!!! - to rival our previous big champion, Geoff Capes. I don't know if Louis has any intention of going on to a career in budgerigar breeding like Mr Capes, but if he does I shall certainly have a visit.
It's all rather brilliant anyway, although it's STILL a bit strange watching an International Sporting Competition where... well, we seem to be doing quite well. Shouldn't we be baying for the blood of the manager by now, and wondering whether we can bring ourselves to support Germany?
One of the GRATE things about doing gigs on a Friday is that you can travel at a reasonable time of day for an only SLIGHTLY more ludicrously over-inflated price than normal. Any other week day, heading North means you have to be on a train before 4pm or it'll cost about TWO HUNDRED QUID (Note to people who don't use trains between London and The Midlands much: this is NOT an exaggeration, even though it sounds like one), but on a Friday you can get a "Weekender" ticket for only ten pounds more than normal and travel pretty much any time you want. This does rather beg the question WHY it's so much every other day (A spokesman MENTALLY replies: "Because it CAN be - AHAHAHAAAAHAHAHAHAA!!"), but still.
I got to Derby and checked into the Ashton Court Hotel, DIRECTLY opposite the station - hotels in Derby are a bit of a mystery to me as usually I'll kip at Machine Mansions, but as they're off getting all MARRIED at the moment it wasn't really an option. I'd originally intended to check out the Holiday Inn Express, where myself and The Kettle In My Room and I will be stay for the aforementioned wedding party in a couple of weeks, but Ashton Court is NEARER to the required bus stop, also CHEAPER. It was actually fine - one of those old-style hotels with BIG staircases and slightly stained carpets, but it was otherwise CLEAN and, unlike most of these sort of places that i have bedded down in ON THE ROAD, all the TV channels worked!
One cup of tea later I was AWAY, STRIDING through town to the bus stop where, for the second time this month, I got the 9.2 bus to Mansfield, ZOOMING through Denby Potteries and this time alighting in Marehay, where I was soon MARCHING up the drive to LUMB FARM, where this year's Blyth Power Ashes weekender was being held. Pretty much ALL my summer festival activity this year is taking place on Friday nights in RIPLEY: it is the only way forward.
I arrived the find a Weddings And Other Ceremonies venue FULL of Old Punks - it's always a LOVELY type of crowd this, especially as Old Punks (much like their successors, Old Goths) are LOVELY people who are DETERMINED that growing up doesn't mean growing boring THUS there were a LOT of tiddly dads trying to marshal HORDES of RAMPAGING CHILDREN, all of whom were up for a bit of POGOING.
When I got in Steve (Steve from Sheffield, that is, not Carsmile) told me that things were running a bit late, so I settled into a pint and then wandered in to watch Paul Carter, who was STORMING through a rather GRATE set, which involved a LOT of singing along. It culminated in a couple of GRATE cover versions including "Rentaghost" and finally "My Ding A Ling", with the whole room BELLOWING out the chorus. It was BRILLIANT. "Poor old POG" I thought, looking at the running order to see who was next, "I'm glad it's not ME who has to follow him!"
I went over to put my guitar away and was apprehended by Annie, one of the organisers, who said "Oh good, I'm really glad you're here - Pog are playing later, you're on next!" OOF! THUS I got myself tuned up, got another pint in, and did THIS:
I was right to be a little nervous, as after THAT barnstorming performance people were correct to be WARY of some pillock coming on and singing about New York, but I think most people WARMED to me as we went along, and the audience participation was pretty good. I broke a string during I Did A Gig In New York, which hasn't happened for YEARS, so plans to do The Fight For History and It Only Works Because You're Here had to be ABANDONED.
When writing the setlist I was SURE there was a song I'd missed out, and whilst looking at the MOSH PIT of four year-olds who'd gathered at the front I realised that, as they were jigging about ANYWAY (a career as a children's entertainer surely beckons?) I should do Do The Indie Kid. So I did - one little girl GAMELY had a try, though it was Steve who put in the most impressive display. Small children doing The Music Of The Future tho - FANTASTIC.
Once it was all done I got me another pint, this time of STONES BITTER, which isn't a great drink BUT was my Grandad's constant choice of home tipple, so when I see it I always think I ought, and watched POG, who were as SMASHING as ever, although now appear to have almost completely different personel, and had a chat to Mr E Bewsher, who I'd not seen FOR AGES. It was LOVELY to see him, as it was to see several OTHER people I'd not seen for YONKS - especially when asked to provide a copy of Modern And Vivid to replace a CHEWED tape copy. ALWAYS a pleasure!
Soon, however, the downside of my booking policy came into effect - ONLY playing the Friday night of Festivals (ONLY in Ripley) means I'm always leaving too early, this time having to dash off to get the last bus home. Sorry, I mean of course, PRIVATE HELICOPTER. Much to my relief my... er... HELICOPTER arrived, accepted the Day Ranger Pass Steve had leant me, and dropped me off in Derby City Centre. On alighting I got a bit confused, as it appeared to have CIRCLED ROUND and stopped on the same side of the road as it had left from five hours earlier, so rather than risk getting LOST again (which seems to be happening alarmingly regularly after gigs at the moment) i got a TAXI home.
I felt oddly guilty about all this LAVISH travelling, as I'm sure it's somehow against The Spirit Of Punk, but next morning when I woke up (TERRIFYINGLY early, but still), i was very glad NOT to be doing so in a tent, where there probably weren't ensuite bathrooms or complimentary coffee!
I'm not sure if it mentioned it in the GIGA-WRITE UP of Edinburgh, but the only clear and definite evidence I had of any profit from the Media Blitz beforehand was that someone came one day PURELY from reading an interview in The Morning Star. Nothing else seemed to have made much difference, as far as I know, but as he left he specifically said that he'd come because of it. COOL!
And now you TOO can read it on their website! I can only apologise if doing so instils in you a desperate DESIRE to see the show as, unfortunately, none are scheduled at present. Ooh, which reminds me - if anybody DOES get so RABIDLY ANXIOUS to see it as a result do let me know, I'd love to do it again!
Back To Life, Back To Reality
After the months and months of preparation for Edinburgh, it feels a bit strange to be suddenly on the other side of it all, but also rather nice. I find myself with evenings free in which i can go to the PUB with PALS, just for the HECK of it, which is really rather lovely. I'm also catching up with a PILE of emails and admin, including updating my bits on the PopArt Digest again. We're still on my Scottish Tour of 2004, with the Edinburgh gig coming up tomorrow - it would have been nice to have been able to get it online last week, but the place i was BLOGGING from didn't have a USB port, so the carefully pre-prepared entries never made it on there.
Other admin included spending a VERY happy couple of hours last night recording a new song, Conkers Bonkers. As the name suggests, it's NOT exactly a sequel to Born With The Century or anything - it's a theme tune for a feature on Mr Bob Fischer's Gobstopper programme on BBC Tees, where he gets guests to bring in Conkers with him. As I spent most of last week saying in the show, sometimes you have to ask yourself "Would Bobby Gillespie do this?" If the answer, as in this case, is "NO" then you can bet it'll be a LOT of fun, and indeed it was. After MONTHS of pretty much sticking to the same eleven songs it was LOVELY to be doing something NEW again, especially something new which features about twelve tracks of backing vocals all done in SLIGHTLY different accents.
I've also been thinking about DINOSAUR PLANET a bit too, and in the middle of the night last night had a GRATE idea about what The Point of it all is. I do like to have a POINT to this sort of thing - some might suggest that DINOSAURS and GIANT ROBOTS would be enough for anybody, but it's always nice to think it MEANS something, and I think I've thought of something that might make it all quite poignant. If we do it there'll still be DINOSAURS, GIANT ROBOTS and, as of last night, THE BIG BLUE CITY OF TOMMOROW (which looks like a massive blue jelly mold floating in space) tho, so don't worry, it'll still be THRILL PACKED too!
Edinburgh: Day 7
I didn't get much sleep on my last night in Edinburgh, as I was all EXCITED - about everything that would happen, about the possibilities of doing it all again, and about getting HOME! I drifted off just before my ALARM went, so had a wash, got packed up, watched MOST of the Big Olympic Bike Ride, then had our final MAN HUG of VICTORY before trundling off to the bus stop.
My bag was a LOT lighter than it had been on the way up, mostly because it DIDN'T contain about 1,500 flyers - most of which we'd taken to the recycling centre the day before! Still, it was a bit of a struggle on the bus with EVERYTHING, especially as a lot of people seemed to prefer to stand next to me and TUT rather than GO UPSTAIRS WHERE THERE WERE SEATS. PAH!
I got to the station with plenty of time, and as the train came in early was pleasantly SETTLED well in advance of setting off. Nearby was an Annoying Couple who'd booked tickets seperately so had reservations in different parts of the train, but kept trying to turf other people out so they could sit together. A succession of NICE PEOPLE allowed them, only to have the seats THEY'D moved to claimed by other people, and move back. It was like MUSICAL CHAIRS.
When that finished a lady got on who was... shall we say TRADITIONALLY BUILT. "Please don't sit next to me", I thought... just as she DID, bringing with her a small, cute, but EXTREMELY STINKY little dog. I was TRAPPED, and it was not a very pleasant second half of the journey home!
It passed quickly enough though, and eventually I was HOME, RELIEVED and somewhat SURPRISED that it was finally over, and VERY pleased to be back.
So, what have we learnt? Here's some HIGHLIGHTS:
A SHOW is not like a GIG, especially at The Fringe where people dash STRAIGHT off to see other shows. THUS you really really don't need to bring 100s of CDs with you, and especially not a huge back full of t-shirts.
You also don't need 100 posters and 3,000 flyers!!
It really does get better as it goes along, and with the first week (we now discover) being Traditionall Quiet, it would DEFINITELY be worth doing another week, though if we did that I'd PACE myself a bit more!
Edinburgh is FANTASTIC - always a beautiful place, but everybody there was SO friendly. Maybe it's because we look like Grown-Ups rather than Students, but the much spoken of antipathy towards the Fringe was nowhere to be seen, everyone was AMAZINGLY nice!
Getting up at midday every day is FANTASTIC. Why aren't comedians and students gleefull ALL the time?!?
For effective busking, you need more than ONE crowd pleaser - next time i will learn up a SUITE of cover versions!
Also, learning to play them on UKELELE is a GRATE idea - a uke is a LOT easier to lug round pubs than a guitar!
The final conclusion though is that it was GRATE - that fact that I've already emailed several OTHER comedy festivals shows how KEEN I am to get out and do it again. That was BRILLIANT!
Edinburgh: Day 6
It was a quieter, more sombre household that gathered next morning around the TV, as we contemplated What Had Occurred. HANGOVERS were somewhat in evidence.
I had a proper student LUNCH, combining WORLD CUISINE to make Balti Pasta out of everything left in the cupboard, and eventually we struggled up and out, away to The Royal Mile where I was due to do my LAST bit of busking, as follows:
It was quite BRIEF as people were drifting past somewhat, though they did once again gather around for Boom Shake The Room - LESSON LEARNT: next time, learn some more covers!
We dropped into the Fringe Office to hand in our PRS form (to ensure the CA$H for playing all those songs goes to ME and Will Smith, not Phil Collins) then into The Alabanach to find it BUSY, so round the corner to the LOVELY Halfway House. I dealt with my hangover with a PINT, Steve forced down a lemonade before relenting with SHANDY. It helped a bit, and we ended up NOT talking about next year, but rather THEORIZING about shows one COULD do if one were so minded. For me, the top choice was decided when Steve said "But surely that would have to involve me walking up and down the Royal Mile in a Dinosaur Costume?" SOLD!
It was nearly SHOWTIME so we went back to The Medina for the last time, me checking emails, Steve doing a bit of flyering, and then going downstairs to find that Amateur Transplants had got all their gear set up. We'd agreed beforehand that they'd leave their stuff on stage, as we had a NO Minutes handover time, but they'd very kindly moved all their gear to the side so I had PLENTY of room.
We got set up, open the doors, and people started coming in... and KEPT coming in! I'm not sure how many we had, as I got a bit excited and also TOO BUSY to write everything down, but we reckon it was about FIFTY - ZOINKS! It included many PALS who'd come over from Glasgow, also The Comedian Daniel Kitson (HOORAH!) and a whole LOAD of people I didn't know at all. The show went GRATE, probably the best one yet, and ended with a big round of applause for my colleague Mr Hewitt, before we had to DASH to get everything off stage. Outside, in the POURING rain, was a queue of over a 100 people who wanted to get in QUICK for Amateur Transplants!
We popped upstairs to find Negociants FULL, so DASHED across to The Pleasance Dome for a refreshing BEER. I then went back to the venue where I saw the last 10 minutes of Amateur Transplants then went and properly packed up our stuff. I said a HEARTY THANKS to Andy, the venue owner, returned the float and paid our FEES and felt HOPEFUL that I'd see him again next year!
A Taxi ride with a very friendly driver with a VERY strong accent saw me back at the flat where I dumped gear, WASHED, then dashed for the bus, getting back to Our Team about an hour after leaving. There was MORE BEER, much RELIEF that it had all gone so well, and a JOLLY GOOD TIME all round.
After a while we hit MAGIC MOVING TIME: everyone finished their drinks almost simultaneously so we all made various moves, with a select group of us going round the corner for DELICIOUS Pizza, with Steve and I making a start on The Telling Of The Stories of The Week. Then it was back in a taxi and HOME, me for IRISH COFFEE, he for ROCK CHOCOLATE before bed.
Edinburgh: Day Five
OUr fifth day dawned surprisingly UNRAINY - I popped over the road the the massive Sainsbury's to get some bread and saw that all the papers were reporting FLOODING everywhere, it had been a Record Downpour, so not just us feeling a bit damp - so The Path Of My Trail and I decided to HIKE up Arthur's Seat. We took a slight diversion to the correct route to it and ended up in a Garage Forecourt, but a very nice man told us the right way to get there - I keep reading about how people in Edinburgh are very anti the festival, but I must say everyone I've met has been LOVELY.
Anyway, after some more directions we got to the bottom of the hill and decided to take a shortcut, by CLAMBERING up the side This turned out NOT to be a shortcut, as the path would have been somewhat easier, but we got to the top bit PANTING for breath and INVIGORATED by our Adventurous Spirit. We walked up the rest of the way to the very top, and it was AMAZING. Fantastic views over this beautiful city and a STRANGE feeling of being right in the centre of things, also in the middle of nowhere.
We STROLLED back down and then home where there was LUNCH and then packing, for today was the day The Ladies were going home. We made for the bus stop in good time but then i PANICKED as it looked like nothing was coming for ages - they have an Estimated Time screen telling you when the next bus was coming but still everyone else in the queue was looking down the road . I thought this was a bit daft until a completely UNscheduled bus arrived and, much to my relief, took us into town. We had ANOTHER chat to a nice lady then hopped off and walked to Waverley, where we met The Hewitts.
The train arrived on time but took ten minutes to get going again as there were SO many people struggling to get on. I took The Wheels On My Shopping Trolley's big suitcase on and had a NERVOUS minute when I couldn't get off again - much as I enjoyed it last time I was there, I didn't really want to go to Newcastle!
All was well tho and we said our Tearful Goodbyes... then, true to stereotype, went to the pub. Here we watched some of the Olympic opening ceremony and Steve shared his OLYMPIC KNOWLEDGE (which is MIGHTY). We then nipped into the Fringe Office to see if i WAS scheduled to play on the Royal Mile on Saturday, and after about five minutes frantic computer work they were able to say "Yes!"
Back to The Medina, where I checked emails while Steve went and did his Magic Flyering, and soon it was SHOWTIME. I stood outside for five minutes before we started, so that anybody who'd come to see us but wasn't sure where the venue was would see ME and think "Aha! It's there!" It was a good job I did, as four of our ten person audience might not have found us otherwise! I also noticed a MUM dropping off three teenagers, giving them their tickets and saying "There you go, have fun" and was slightly surprised to see them come in to US. It was reported to me later that - NAUGHTY - they'd had a HIP FLASK confiscated by the bar man once inside. THOSE KRAZY KIDS!
The show seemed to go pretty well again - I did it BAREFOOT this time, which didn't seem to make much difference. I NOTED how DOING this is changing my PERFORMANCE STYLE too, as once again the people I could see clearest were the ones not laughing. Rather than get AFEARED as I have done in the past I concentrated on looking at the people who WERE laughing, and rather enjoyed myself doing so. ALSO it appears that when the show is QUIET it gets LONGER - Steve posits that this is because I keep putting in extra bits to try and generate more LARFS, and he may be right.
We packed up quick and dashed off to the Underbelly to see Richard Herring. I was a bit worried about this, as I LOVE reading his blog but have never seen him live, so it would have been somewhat disappointing if he'd been rubbish. Happily he wasn't, he was GRATE - it was EXTREMELY funny, but also quite poignant in places, very LYRICAL throughout and felt PROPERLY worked out and written. It DID have a structure that kept paying back with bigger and bigger laughs as he expanded it, right up to a PROPER ending, and the LANGUAGE was lovely. It sounds a bit daft to complement the use of LANGUAGE in a show that covered Adult Material like that, but it was refreshing to hear someone who'd put the EFFORT in to make it that good.
The only slightly uncomfortable aspect was that, for some BIZARRE reason, a party of PORTUGESE SCHOOL CHILDREN had booked tickets and their teachers had decided that they'd all sit on seats RIGHT on the stage. Mr Herring was a bit distracted by them CHATTING at the start tho dealt with it with JOKES, but throughout I could see the uncomfortable faces of the teachers sat in the bright lights of the stage. What on earth were they thinking?
On the way out I VERY briefly said thanks to Mr Herring for the inspiration to come up and DO a show then we went and had some chips stood near a man who MAY have been doing a daring piece of alfresco acapella, but also may have been a LOONIE, then went back for a BEER and to decide what to do next. The night before we'd got a flyer for a show which, apparently, would be about old films so headed to the Nicol Edwards to see it.
It wasn't on for another hour or so so we decided to watch the show beforehand, and went in... to discover we were in Edinburgh's Premier CHILDREN'S PUB. It was MUST SHOW ID CENTRAL, as EVERYONE in there was a) dolled up to the nines b) about SEVENTEEN, it was FRIGHTENING and we felt OLD. We DIVED into the venue to watch The After Dinner Society, basically two young comediands doing 25 minutes each, bookended by some fairly poor quality banter. The first guy was RUBBISH - he appeared to have no act at all, mostly talking to the audience and repeating whatever they'd said. When there WERE chances for LAFFS he didn't take them, and spent a large amount of time saying how dead the room was. HOWEVER, when the NEXT lad came on he was BRILLIANT. He was Joey Paige, in the words of Mr Hewitt, a Comedy Pete Doherty, but a LOT funnier than that would sound. We LARFED a LOT, and felt a bit sorry for the first guy having to play with him every night. I also felt sorry for him as he was STRUGGLING at the door with the CHILDREN in the main pub continually trying to get in to SQUEAL - when I went out for a WEE i had to practically FITE him to get the door open to come back in!
We came out to get drinks, and found that the GUINESS had just run out. I asked for San Miguel and THAT ran out at the same time! It was that kind of pub really, becoming NOISIER all the time and I have to admit I was a bit relieved we HADN'T gone for the Free Fringe in the end. I guess it wouldn't have been like this all the time at all the venues - it WAS 10.30 on a Friday night in The Youngsters Bar after all - but it did feel a bit ROUGH AND TUMBLE to me.
This feeling only increased at the start of the next show, when a bunch of Pissed Up Lads came in, sat right at the front and started making their own jokes. As ever with these sort of groups you could straight away spot their individual roles, from the Alpha Male to the GIGGLING PILLOCK who'd laugh at whatever he said. VERY happily they left after five minutes, loudly and GIGGLING at their leader, which was a bit of a relief. Well, a LOT of a relief, especially for the comedian.
He was yet ANOTHER of these comics who felt the need to do the first half of his show talking to the audience - why do they always do that? As stated before, it is nearly always RUBBISH, also EMBARRASSING - write some more material and you won't have to do it! He was OK, but also a lot of his show was about trying to WRITE the show which, again, several people seem to do. I wish they wouldn't, it just points out how little they've got to say and you can't help thinking that they could save everybody a lot of time if they DON'T have anything to do a show about to just NOT do one!
The next guy, however, was BRILLIANT. It was Dr Brown (not MY Dr Brown, a different one) who in theory was a Character, a Norwegian lecturer. He spent the first couple of minutes getting laughs with funny LOOKS and not speaking at ALL and pretty much carried on in that way. It's hard to explain, but he was just HYSTERICALLY funny, especially when he started laughing himself halfway through and had to stop himself. There was a brilliant couple of minutes when the whole room KEPT ON LAUGHING, led by a lad sat next to me who couldn't stop. He was another Pissed Up Lad who'd wandered in to see what was going on, but turned out to be LOVELY. Dr Brown got him up as a volunteer and the pair of them became an HILARIOUS double act with the lad, Ross, just joining in and doing his OWN funny looks. It sounds daft I know but it was HYSTERICALLY funny throughourt and when it was finished we all felt a bit PROUD of Ross for doing so well!
We fled TEEN CENTRAL and went into Bannermans where we drank Heather Beer and talked to some more young people - it was WAY past our bedtimes but everyone was terribly friendly and we had a long conversation with a young Irish Lad. I couldn't really understand him and he couldn't understand me, but it was all very friendly.
Then there was a STAND OFF - all DAY we'd been joking about going CLUBBING and suddenly neither of us wanted to say "Let's go home" - INDEED, Steve, having been a bit WAN earlier on, suddenly got his second wind so off we went to an INDIE NIGHT, where there were even MORE of The Young People. I lasted about half an hour before having to gracefully admit defeat, leaving Steve to the DISCO DANCEFLOOR, but it was still gone 3am by the time i got home. ROCK AND ROLL!
Edinburgh: Day Four
After a morning sat around the flat relaxing we headed into town, where The Hewitts went for a bit of shopping and The Head On My Guinness and I nipping into The Albanach for a cheeky drink. 15.10 came around and I mooched across the road to the Lower Stage to find that, amazingly, there was far LESS demand for a slot than the other day when it HADN'T been TIPPING it down with rain. I clambered up, got out my ukelele, and did THIS:
Yes, I did do Back For Good twice - having CURTAILED I Did A Gig In New York (because, although CLEANED UP, it was going on a bit and not attracting anybody) I decided to go for COVERS, and by the end of Boom Shake The Room had actually managed to attract a CROWD! It was quite exciting - "I'm actually DOING it!" I thought, but then realised I was going to find it difficult to maintain. Easily Impressed got a LITTLE bit of audience participation, but for the end I realised it needed to be COVERS time again, and as it was a very Mobile Audience I realised I could happily get away with Back For Good again - especially as Steve was doing a BIT waving his lighter in the air. It was a GOOD bit!
Job done we went and got some tickets, for Mark Watson later on and, for myself and The Beam Of My Heat Ray, WAR OF THE WORLDS. I was VERY excited about this as i LOVE War Of The Worlds, both the original and the Jeff Wayne version, which this was advertised as BEING. I was expecting a cheeky sort of version as one man (it being a one man show) HUMOROUSLY tried to reenact it. However, it was DEADLY serious, VERY Actorly with VIBRATO singing throughout. It was all very sweet though, especially when he came back on at the end and thanked us for coming, but REALLY not what I was expecting!
Back to Medina and we got set up ready for an audience of about SEVEN this time and another THOROUGHLY enjoyable show. I added in a new bit quoting OTWAY's GRATE advice for A Career In Music (anyone who's ever met me will know what I mean as I quote it ENDLESSLY) and Steve FOOLISHLY going for a wee during Do The Indie Kid, so that I made him DEMONSTRATE the dance step when he came back. It were FUNNY!
We then LOPED off down the road to see Mark Watson - Steve CUNNINGLY decided the best way to spend the night's door money was on BOOZE, so while The Ladies queued up we went and spent THE LOT (well, nearly) on BEER. HOORAH! We got back to the queue just in time and went into the MASSIVE venue - I'd never heard of Mark Watson before, but 799 other people seemed to have done, it was amazing, and he was BRILLIANT. He did a lengthy bit talking to the audience IN the audience at the start which, unlike nearly every other time I've seen it done, was REALLY funny, and then he went on to do a GRATE set. The only thing i didn't like was that, like most other people I've seen, he finished by saying "Er... that's it." Come on Modern Young Comedians, give me a bit of STRUCTURE!
He was GRATE tho, and we popped back to the Pleasance Courtyard for a final drink before The Hewitts went off to another show and The Punchline To My Joke and i went home. Edinburgh, it's BRILLIANT!
Edinburgh: Day Three
Our third day at the festival didn't get off to a hugely auspicious start. We DRAGGED ourselves out of bed at an ungodly hour so that we could be down at The Canongait to see If You Like, a show featuring Chap From My Comic Shop. Having dragged us both down there, in the RAIN, I was a little... disappointed to realise I hadn't read the flyer properly, and it wasn't on on Wednesdays. Ah.
We then went and found somewhere to shelter from the raging storm ("Record Downpour, flooding in Leith": The Scotsman) and I persuaded a rather tired Steve that we should go and see "ABFCAP: The life and times of Ian Dury". We YOMPED across town for quarter of an hour, me leading the way PROUD of my ability now to navigate... and found that I'd taken us to the wrong venue, and that the one we wanted was 15 minutes back in the other direction, next to where we'd been before. Ah. Another STOMP and we made it just in time. Happily the show was GRATE - really funny, really moving, really GOOD.
There was then time for another ROUTE MARCH across town, pausing to say well done to the chap who'd played Ian Dury, to the station where Mrs Hewitt and The Rhythm Section In My Blockheads were due to arrive. Two Emotional Reunions later and we headed for the taxi, just as Gary From 6Music rang to sort out the PLAN for our Live Satellite Link-Up with the Steve Lamacq show later on. He'd ring us a while later and give us numbers to ring: SORTED.
We got back to the flat which was PLEASING to the eyes of The Ladies, though there was consternation at the lack of BEER, and after a sort-out we were back on the road of ROCK. Back at the venue Steve went off to do some flyering, Meg and The Ale In My Alehouse went upstairs for a beer, and I went to get set up. There was a bit of an Atmosphere downstairs as there were some RAPPERS who were doing a show later who'd thought they could come and do their soundcheck at 6pm. They didn't bother us, but there was a bit of a ROW between a couple of them about who'd messed it up.
We'd still not heard from Gary From 6Music when we opened the doors at 5.45pm, and nervously stood at the door waiting to see if anyone would come in. Beautifully, they DID, and some of them were people we didn't even KNOW! Moo aka Doktor Cocacola McDonalds arrived - and thus there was a WITNESS for the Derby story - Mr C Gilmour came again to witness the Glasgow one, and we had a chap arrive because he'd read my interview in The Morning Star! ALSO Steve's pal Al was there, who'd come with him for the disastrous trip 14 years ago that was part of the reason we were here today.
It was a lovely audience who were LARFING from the get go, and so it was probably the BEST the show's BEEN, even tho I was a bit nervous throughout about whether we'd be having the Satellite Link-up, and whether it would WORK. A quarter of an hour in Steve left the room to answer a call giving him the numbers to ring, and we were SET. As I was finishing "It Only Works Because You're Here" he left the room again to ALERT them that we were nearly ready, then typed the studio number into my phone, handed it to me, and we were GO.
Amazingly, it all seemed to go REALLY well. I put the phone onto SPEAKER and stuck it in front of a microphone - I was doing it Totally Acoustically again, but the microphone was set up SPECIAL. We had a Bono/THE POPE style conflab involving Audience Shouting and such like, and ended with him playing "The Lesson Of The Smiths" just as I was about to do it LIVE. I spent the next couple of minutes VERY distracted, thinking "COR! That was GRATE!" and had to HEAVE myself back to what I was meant to be doing. The rest of the show got back on track and I must say it was LOVELY, my favourite so far!
Afterwards we got packed up then went upstairs for a drink, as the rain was CHUCKING it down. They do table service upstairs, which is all well and posh but can be a bit frustrating when it doesn't work - my beer took half and hour to arrive, but they DID give us them for free, so all was WELL. After some discussion we dashed over the road to get some tickets for later then SPRINTED down the hill to Red Fort, where we had curry the other day and had another DELICIOUS one today. YUM!
We got the bill quick and SWEPT down to The Pleasance, Steve and Meg to meet a PAL, myself and The Patter IN My Routine to go and see Dan Atkinson's Credit Crunch. We went just because the name was intriguing, and it was OK - some bits very funny, but it did seem a bit messy, especially when he got to the end and went "Er... that's it." All that was left was to hop in a taxi and get home.
We got in a little bit before The Hewitts who arrived brandishing the latest copy of Three Weeks, which had a good review of the show in it - actually a DEAD good review, tho at the end it said 3/5 stars, tho it read like 4. No,honest, it did!
Eight hours later I was AWAKE again and ready for RADIO. I'd had a call on Wednesday to ask if I'd like to do "Toast The Nation" on the 6Music breakfast show. THUS I was up and armed with several facts about Peterborough...though the DJ, Wes Butters, seemed to think I was doing Northampton. He also wanted to know if I'd ever made a noise like a Badger while mating... yes, it was a LITTLE different to the 6music that I usually listen to, there were also Comedy Sound Effects, and I went back to bed feeling a little STRANGE about the whole experience.
And now we're watching Olympic Football, having another cuppa, and getting ready for Day 4 of The Festival. Let's ROCK!
Edinburgh: Day Two
Our second day at Europe's Largest Culture Festival started off with an extended bout of The Flintstones, followed by a trip to Sainsbury's. Our fridge now looks FULL, and after a slap-up feed so did WE, so we eschewed the bus and WALKED into town in order to burn off a couple of much-enjoyed calories.
We nipped in to the Pleasance Dome to try and buy tickets for later but found a MASSIVE queue, so instead had a chat to Mr Ben Moor (whose show is "Amazing ... it fried my brain": S Hewitt) then went in for a bit of flyering. To our delight we came upon people delivering the new weekly edition of Three Weeks, which was to have an interview with ME in it. Indeed it did, and Steve got a bit excited and started waving it around, saying to the people delivering it (and several others over the course of the day) "Look! It's him!" I, of course, was the picture of restraint.
Edinburgh, for some reason,is REALLY BUSY with people on pavements this week (can't think why) so it took us AGES to get to the Royal Mile, where I was due on at 15.10 for some BUSKING. We got there at 15.07, rather disappointing some people who were wanting to NAB my spot. I tuned up, leapt aboard, and did THIS:
It was a LOT of fun. I don't think it will have done us a huge amount of Commercial Good but I really enjoyed it, especially when a small baby was brought to the front of the stage, DANCING in his pushchair, also when Steve came to the front to demonstrate how do The Indie Kid. I was a bit worried about wearing my voice out (it is a DELICATE INSTRUMENT) so we immediately made for the PUB, in the company of Mr Alex Thomson,for some MEDICATION.
One healing draft later we headed back to Medina to check our emails then to the Underbelly to meet one of Steve's pals. I demonstrated the difference between Theatre (everyone else) and ROCK (us) by Crossing The Road Illegally. GUITAR SOLO! Things got more INSANE and KRAZY shortly afterwards when we found we were sitting in the wrong bar... so carried our beers into a bar where a) we hadn't bought them and b) glass wasn't allowed. BRING THE NOIZE! Shortly afterwards a LACKEY of The Man spotted our bottles and confiscated them but by then it was too late: THE KIDZ 1, THE MAN NIL.
Steve went off for further flyering, I went and got set up, and soon we were ready for SHOWTIME. We had FOUR people turn up - Steve's friend Keith, Mr Ben Moor, a reviewer from The Evening Herald and Darryl who, we eventually worked out, I'd met before when we went on the tour of Down Street Station. There do appear to be only 30 people in Edinburgh.
I decided to do the show Totally Acoustically and had a WHALE of a time - there were still a couple of mistakes but I was MUCH more relaxed and REALLY enjoyed it. Due to the stage lighting I kept forgetting that I WASN'T playing to a packed stadiumr, so it was a bit disconcerting to hear only four people clapping at the end of every song, but otherwise it was BRILL
We stood around having a bit of a chat after the show was over, then a BAND came in to set up for later on...who Keith knew. Only thirty people: FACT. We then wandered off to a VERY nice pub for a DELICIOUS pint of Ossian (LOVELY), then to a CHIPPY for a CHIPPY TEA and finally back to The Pleasance Courtyard to see some SHOWS. Yes, after 48 hours I FINALLY went to see something - first Josie Long (really good, I can see why so many people LOVE her so) then Doktor Coca Cola McDonalds, who was ACE. Afterwards he seemed to think it hadn't gone too well but I had a MASSIVE grin on my face. HOORAH!
We hopped into the taxi and headed home, getting in just after midnight for a cuppa and a nightcap. Another busy day of CULTURE, DONE!
Edinburgh: Day One
My first full day at the Festival dawned LATE, after a MUCH needed lie-in. Showered and breakfasted me and Steve got ourselves HEAVILY laden down with gear and headed out for the bus into town then LUGGED everything round to The Medina & Negociants, our venue.
HAPPILY they were expecting us - in the big list of Things That Could Go Horribly Wrong MANY of the items centred around the venue having forgotten about us/deciding against it/changing ownership/burning down etc etc so we were somewhat RELIEVED. We dropped off piles of stuff for later and headed out for ERRANDS, also to drop off some flyers.
The first place we saw that might coincide with our Target Audience was a Comic Shop... but even from afar I could see it was one of THOSE kind of comic shops, the SMELL as we went in affirmed it and the surly way the strange man behind the desk didn't even look up as he said no to flyers was just a formality. The next place was a Music Shop which, in comparison, felt more like a particularly eager to please branch of LUSH.
As we wandered about we were apprehended by other people flyering, which Steve reacted to by flyering them right back. I think I may not be entirely cut out for this, as i SQUIRMED every time, tried to drag him away, and said "No no, don't worry, you probably wouldn't like it." I am not a natural.
We popped in to the Fringe Office to find everyone looking a bit frazzled - the ticketting system has pretty much collapsed, and so when we asked the young lady if we'd sold many tickets she said "You should ask your box office." "He's the box office", I said, pointing at Steve. We asked about any reviewers coming, and they said to check with our press contact. "He's the press contact" said Steve, pointing at me.
Next I went to get my performer's pass for playing on the Royal Mile - the lady there was pretty frazzled too, and wrote my name out as Mike Sighting-Life-In-Rock. We went for some lunch, found my stage and, with 50 minutes before showtime, settled into a pub over the road for a well deserved pint.
Half an hour later we went to check in... only to find that we'd been told the wrong time, and was meant to be on half an hour beforehand! There were no spare slots so, after going BACK to the Fringe Office to check the times for the rest of the week (ten past three, through I'll probably not be doing it on Wednesday) and ensure I wasn't BLACKLISTED, we made for Medina to soundcheck.
That done Steve went off to FLYER some more while I waited nervously for a call from 6Music. The call came and soon I was GABBING ON about The Show - oddly I found it MUCH easier to sell when I couldn't actually SEE the person I was selling to!
That done it was time to OPEN UP and much to my a) surprise b) RELIEF people started coming in! We eventually got THIRTY people in, which is more than either Steve or I had in TOTAL during our previous expeditions. It featured a LOT of people who'd bought tickets from the Fringe Office, which seemed VERY organised, and a surprisingly large number who Steve had just been flyering. Also, a REVIEWER!
At LAST it was SHOWTIME, and it seemed to go pretty well. I was VERY nervous, especially when I noticed a chap sitting dead centre, arms folded, and when some jokes didn't get the BIG LAFFS they had when I'd done the show to PALS it did throw me a bit - it's a LONG time since I've done anything even vaguely related to COMEDY in the outside world, and I remembered why I'd not done it since! I fluffed a few words and kicked over a pint glass (ROCK!) but I think I pulled it back by the second half and started to enjoy it again.
The reviewer chap seemed to like it anyway, and as people left they seemed pretty pleased with it - EXTREMELY gratifyingly there were a couple of people who'd come wearing Official T-SHIRTS: GRATE! We had a bit of a chat, a non-spilled drink, and then it was time for me to be OFF once more, this time for GLASGOW where I was due to record a session for Mr Jim Gellatly.
I got my ticket and got on the first train for Glasgow, at which point my PUBLIC TRANSPORT SENSE started tingling - this was a tiny train with a LOT of stops, might it perhaps be a SLOW one? I asked a passing official and discovered this one took TWICE as long as one going five minutes later, so quickly changed. THANKS,Public Transport Sense!
One M&S Simply Food fuelled journey later and I was nipping to the taxi rank to find, as warned by Jim, that taxi drivers don't know where XFM is. He dropped me off at the wrong building but a very nice Security Lady showed me the correct way. I rang the bell for ages before a voice came on the intercom - it was Jim himself! He was just finishing off his show and was the ONLY person in the entire building! He put a long-ish song on and came down to get me, happily looking EXACTLY the same in real-life as in his photographs, blue mohican and all.
We had a chat in between songs and at 10pm he said "And this is a song by the guy I've got in session tomorrow!" "But I'm here NOW!" I said as he played The Lesson Of The Smiths, before handing over to his pal who was MINDING the networked signal from London and going next door to the other studio.
It was all done pretty quickly, with a lightly censored version of The Lesson Of The Smiths, preceded by a PLUG for the show, then for later on another plug, It Only Works Because You're Here, and a bit MORE plugging. By the end of this week I will be a MEDIA NATURAL!
We hopped into the Gellatlymobile and ZAPPED to the station where we said our goodbyes - I've been sending stuff to Jim for about ten YEARS now, so it was brilliant to meet him at last and especially to discover he is a GRATE CHAP - and I went into the station. It felt WRONG to be in such a brilliant city as Glasgow for such a short time, but hey, i have an Internation Festival Of culture to ROCK, so got back on the train, ZOOMED to Edinburgh, and got the taxi home, getting in on the stroke of Midnight.
It was a VERY long day, but a GRATE one. Hopefully the rest of the week will be as FUN, if not as busy - I've been here nearly 48 hours and haven't seen a show yet!
Come with me back in time to LAST week - this is the first of the blogs I wrote while up in Edinburgh. MUCH more to follow!
I set off on Saturday morning VERY heavily laden down with all the gear for Edinburgh - guitar, ukelele, flyers, CDs, t-shirts, clothes, easel, placards and a whole menagerie of other bits and bobs, but it was not directly to Edinburgh that I was heading.
For LO! I was heading to Derbyshire for Mr F A Machine's STAG do. I met with Francis and his two colleagues from his old band The Almanacs - it was a three band affair, with all male members of the Frankie Machine Band and The Validators in attendance. We arrived at a FIELD next to a PUB, and went to the PUB while we awaited the other attendees. After a delicious BEER we headed back to set the tents up - I had cunningly bagsied a space in Tim's ENORMOUS family tent as I knew he'd bring LOADS of gear - as well as a CONSERVATORY we also had table, chairs and kettle, and it was only POLITENESS that stopped me asking why he hadn't bought a telly and fridge freezer too.
After setting up we set off HIKING across the peaks to another pub where we had more beer also FOOD, including PUDDINGS. Ollie, formerly of The Validators, had a MOUSSE and when the lady said "I'll get you a small spoon" the look on his face demonstated his complete awareness that we'd all be calling him Small Spoon for the rest of the day.
Heading back we found two BULLS blocking our way across a field. There was debate about what to do, until the BRAVER, MANLIEST members of the group decided we'd be fine, telling everyone else that if we walked calmly across the field in a tight group we would a) not alarm the bulls but b) appear to large for them to intimidate. THUS we had the bizarre spectacle of nine grown men ZIGZAGGING in a mincing and increasingly speedy way across the field shouting "STAY CALM! DON'T RUN!" to each other while very excited bulls ran round them like horned sheepdogs.
Once back we spent a couple more hours in the pub NOT joining in with the folk singing, especially not the hugely bearded pensioner singing a VERY long slightly rude story that, I reckon, he was making up as he went along. We got kicked out at 1am,so went back to the tent and some WHISKY for a bit of a singalong, including an AMAZING bit where we sang HARMONIES in the chorus of "Waterloo Sunset". It was BRILL.
A scant few hours later we were up, packed the tents, then headed over the road for a DELIGHTFUL greasy spoon breakfast - DELICIOUS in fact - before saying our goodbyes. I got dropped at Chesterfield Station and ended up having a lovely, and very long, conversation with an elderly train spotter. It shames me to say that I would normally have made an excuse and gone off somewhere else, but this time I stayed and chatted and had a very nice time indeed.
I then had a LENGTHY, SLOW train journey to Edinburgh (in pre-booked first class tho, so FREE TEA AHOY) where I found NO taxis but a HUGE queue waiting for them. After 15 mins during which ONE taxi arrived I decided to walk... and ten minutes later, struggling uphill with HUGE piles of gear and MILES to go I was intensely regretting it. I'm VERY worried about making myself poorly before I've even started and this seemed like a very efficient way of doing exactly that.
LUCKILY a taxi stopped nearby to let someone out so i HOPPED in with GRATE relief and was soon meeting Mr S Hewitt at our DELIGHTFUL flat, where he had already put the kettle on. HOOPLA!
One MUCH MUCH MUCH needed shower later we headed out for some TEA, and as we walked over
NOrth Bridge we found ourselves suddenly NOT in Tourist Edinburgh and in THE FRINGE. It all felt very real at last, and also very exciting. We had a BRILL curry at a place called Red Fort, which seemed to be PACKED with thousands of essential vitamins - I'd been FLAGGING somewhat beforehand, but now felt MUCH better. We popped to the Pleasance for a quick beer - we met pals Ewan and Jo and their friends, looked at some people off the TELLY going by and - ZANG! - met Moo aka Dr Cocacola McDonalds doing some flyering. HUGGING occurred.
At this point I had to admit defeat, however, so said my goodbyes and came home, very sensibly. And now I'm typing this up at home in my bedroom, not quite believing this is FINALLY happening. Tomorrow it all kicks off!
Afternoon all - one last mini-update before i upload the VAST SWATHES of BLOG that have been backing up this week. Last night Mr Hewitt and I went out for a BIG NIGHT OUT.
It was LARGE.
We saw THREE shows, drank SEVERAL beers, and ended up CLUBBING. That's right: CLUBBING. I got home at THREE! A! M! and Steve got back even LATER! WHOO! ROCK AND ROLL! OH YEAH!
Today we are both very very very tired indeed. I'm off to do the last show in a few minutes but, in all honesty, I would much rather just go and have a bit of a nap. This dancing business seems to have become a lot more strenuous since last I did it.
In other news we had a happy trip to the recycling point this morning to get rid of several thousand flyers that, it turns out, we didn't need, and had a NON BINDING discussion about doing "DINOSAUR PLANET" some time. And watched a LOT of Olympic Swimming.
Right then, best go and do the SHOW - stand by for a HUGE information upload!
Edinburgh: STILL ROCKING
Hello from The Athens Of The North! Sorry again for the lack of updates, i AM writing daily reports but can't quite get connected to post them yet. STILL, it's all going LOVELY so far. We DID do the Live Satellite Link-Up with Steve Lamacq's show on Wednesday which was FRIGHTENING in its techinical complexity but worked out, i think, pretty well in the end. Mrs Hewitt and The Wavelength Of My Radio Signal have just left us after being here for two GRATE days - this morning we even clambered up Arthur's Seat: NO tourist avenue untravelled!
We've had some good reviews, in Three Weeks and The Herald and also seen some GRATE stuff - Mark Watson last night was GRATE, the Ian Dury show was BRILL and The War Of The Worlds was... er... interesting. Tonight we're off to see Richard Herring after our show, then tomorrow I'm on the Upper Stage on the Royal Mile at 3.30pm, doing the final show at six, and then that's it: Edinburgh DONE!
As I say, FULL REPORTS coming by the weekend - stand by for FACT!
Greetings from Edinburgh!
Hello from The Fringe! Sorry for the lack of updates this week, it's all GO and I've not had much time to get on the interweb. I AM writing up every day, so there'll be a mass BLURT of blog entries sometime soon, but here's the quick reports:
ITEM! Frankie's stag do was GRATE - we drank beer, camped in a tent, and faced down a RAGING BULL.
ITEM! I got to Edinburgh FINE, our flat is very nice, there have been many LIE-INS.
ITEM! First show went off pretty well - I FLUFFED a bit but otherwise OK, hoping for a review tomorrow.
ITEM! BUSKING yesterday didn't happen because they gave me the wrong time - I DID busk this afternoon, and tho I don't think it'll have made many people come to the show it DID make some small children DANCE. If anybody fancies coming I'm next on the Lower Stage at 3.10pm on THURSDAY, then the upper stage at around the same time on SATURDAY.
ITEM! I did an interview with Mr Steve Lamacq yesterday about the show... and MAY be on again later in the week...
ITEM! I went to GLASGOW last night to record a session for Mr Jim Gellatly, which should be on around 8pm tonight on XFM Scotland. After sending him CDs for ten years, it was VERY nice to finally meet him!
ITEM! That's about it i think - if anybody's up at The Fringe we're on at Medina & Negociants (opposite the Pleasance Dome) from now until Saturday night at 6pm. Do pop in if you can!
If I'm totally honest, as I set off for last night's gig I was slightly wishing I wasn't doing it. I was (and indeed AM) eager to see the main band, Apples For Everyone - there's FOURTEEN of them, and they run it as a DEMOCRACY. Dave From Them later told me that they have SUB-COMMITTEES to make various decisions and also have complex yet orderly ROTAS to arrange who is doing what. My love of ROCK combined with my love of Proper Processes makes me VERY excited about this sort of thing, but unfortunately I wasn't going to be able to see them, as I'd have to DASH home straight afterwards to sort out some WORK stuff, also (LINKED to this) preperations for Edinburgh next week.
As well as that slight disappointment, Tufnell Park isn't exactly the LOVELIEST of London's Delightful Boroughs. The pub window had posters advertising forthcoming gigs and RECENT MURDERS, and opposite their appeared to be a shrine to the MANY people who had recently been killed. In the current vernacular, it's "a bit stabby".
After catching the end of the first band and the first poet I was a bit NERVY as I went on and did THIS:
I REALLY enjoyed it! When i started I was worried further by the fact that it was a BIG room with people who'd come to see all sorts of the many different bands who were playing and were having pleasant CHATS all around. BUT I said to myself "Now now Hibbett, be calm, stick with it and all will be FINE". As ever, my Little Voice was correct, especially when i got to It Only Works Because You're Here. The first third of the song saw CHAT levels rising, then ebbing into the next third, then everyone got INTO it by the end, and from there it was JOINING IN with The Music of The Future, REQUESTS, and a singalong for the end. GRATE!
Also noticeable (NB to me anyway) was the way I was LINKING the songs. Doing My Exciting Life In ROCK so much is obviously rubbing off, and I was ending one song with a CONVERSATIONAL LINK into the next one. It seemed to work quite well - a career in Local Radio BECKONS!
Anyway, much relieved, I DASHED OFF in the company of Dr Neil Brown who'd popped along, and the journey home was full of talk of The Isle of Wight, from which he has just returned. I got home SWEATY but at a reasonable time, in order to start PANICKING about PACKING. Next stop, EDINBURGH!