Sunday, February 19, 2017


Self Portrait With Green Goddess

B*gger selfies. I stretched my arm out just a couple of minutes ago and took a photo while I was rehearsing for tonight's gig in Croxley in a café that used to be called Coco's, and is now called something different. The Green Goddess is out to play tonight because the style is doo-wop and she has been called forth to match the music with her f-holes. Somehow that sounds rather rude.
I'm learning one of Paul Eccentric's songs, probably somewhat late in the day, and will be singing that with him, and then a clutch of my own selfies, which is the new name for songs you write yourself (I've decided). I will probably do Femme Fatale because I have 3 more CDs to sell, and Paul's partner Donna will be there doing all that selling stuff for us all. Ten people will be singing, playing or reading poetry tonight, all for a fiver.
Yesterday's thing in Colchester was brilliant even though the whole day lasted 13 hours. I met some great people as I learn to be friendly to strangers and not to hide behind extrovert friends. I will write about it in the week. I am spending most of today eating because all I ate yesterday was some Syrian soup which was very nice but I was starving when I got home, and the cupboard was bare.

The Tiniest Garden

Nature does not care where she plants a garden; even the top of a concrete post at the tube station will do.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Philip Leo

Many moons ago Philip used to go to a music workshop at Peckham Settlement where I worked. I wonder what happened to him? He had a great voice and wrote some lovely songs. And Patrick, and John, and Dawn, and Cecil, and Hilary and Trevor and Louis, and Nicola and the man who sold Holiday Property Bonds and played the trumpet.

I Try Not To Go To Charity Shops

But I did. And I bought a cheap Fables of La Fontaine illustrated by Gustave Dore because I wanted to look at the black and white lines. Two pounds fifty.

First Site, Colchester Tomorrow

Blimey, that's come round quick.
Tomorrow a bunch of ne'er-do-wells will be heading by charabanc to First Site, Colchester for the Cultural Traffic Fair.
Follow the link- it's gonna be a good day.
For the first time in my life, I'll be reading a bit from The Lost Women of Rock Music (and also singing some songs and selling some of my vintage comics and some CDs). I will have money-off vouchers for the book.
There will be food- a Syrian pop-up cafe!
And the second last day of the Gee Vaucher exhibition which I am REALLY looking forward to seeing.
Not to be missed if you live within hiccuping distance of Colchester, and worth a day trip if not, I'd say!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Engineer's Friend

This is commitment. Out go the sewing things, into a plain metal box; this tin is now at the ready to be charged with a fresh batch of Fisherman's Friends Originals.
The entire studio session has been fuelled by these little peppery drops. When I'm desperate, I can usually find a few kicking about in the bottom of my bag from a burst packet a month ago, but I don't share those ones because they are a bit grubby.
Hey-ho for seafaring sound engineers!
(We had competitions at school to see who could keep one in their mouth the longest. I never got one into my mouth in the first place, because I was scared of them at that age).

Hearing Things

One of the best things someone said to me once about one of my drawings was that it was 'loud'.
I love the idea of a picture making you hear sound.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Icarus Dive in Camden

I'd left them at home; a thorough search of the bottom of my bag revealed seven assorted pens but not what I needed; luckily the bar guy had some. You can call me a wimp, but I need my hearing for my job as a musician and I can hear just fine through those blessed little foam plastic earplugs!

Icarus Dive are on tour at the moment and this was their only London date, so I headed on down to the pub with no name in Greenland Place, and followed the swarm of people up the stairs.
Progressive rock is alive and strumming in Camden! Guitars were tuned, the lead singer/guitarist Joe mounted the monitor (ahem) and off they went.
Time signatures blasted from the stage and the audience nodded along with enthusiasm; the band are skilled musicians, well-rehearsed and very tight, which they need to be in order to weave their complex arrangements into atmospheric and sometimes surprisingly poppy music (they are good singers and know how to craft a harmony). Louis the drummer is a master of dynamic drumming and Alex picked some fabulous guitar chords, face hidden behind a mountain of red curly hair.
They also have a very funny rapport with the audience. The bass player Harry asked for a bit more of his vocals and guitar on stage.
'Me! Me! Me!', quipped an audience member in a whiny voice.
'Can I have a bit less Harry on stage?', enquired Joe.
'More Harry! More Harry!', chanted the crowd.
This was a short, punchy set that culminated in Joe leaping into the crowd at the end; some people appeared to be rather surprised. It was Wednesday, wasn't it?
They have more dates to come, and if you're a fan of neo-prog you should definitely go to see them; Bristol, Peterborough, Guildford and Brighton all at venues on the poster below:

(I have to declare an interest- I am the aunt of one quarter of the band).

A Beautiful Pigeon

Walk Tall

Why can I remember the entire lyrics of Val Doonican's song Walk Tall, yet not remember the lyrics to some of my own songs?

The Mad Bicycle Song

On the final stretch of recording the album, and feeling quite sad in a way. What a journey. I have three vocals to re-do because I'm singing much better now than I did last summer, and I'm going to record them in the kitchen where I feel most at home (hardly surprising, considering my moniker). Here is another preview, up for a week and then gone.
I've got twelve tracks in all, and I've almost finished the drawings that go with them, too.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Not Making Banana Bread

I woke up this morning.
Sounds like a song title? Yes, that's what I did. I wrote a song and recorded it in a very rough and ready form just because the recording stuff was set up in the kitchen and I seem to be embedded in a very deep seam of music at the moment.
It was a song about trains, surprise surprise: steam trains. I think I will spend Tuesday writing, finishing and recording songs so that I don't get bored with playing the ones that I've just finished recording.
It's hard to leave the music alone but the house needs to be cleaned, and there are two old bananas on the side that should probably not be wasted. They should probably be made into banana bread and it should probably be me who makes it.
I hate throwing food away; this is a legacy of having a ten year period of time when the fridge had nothing in it and I would never let people go to get milk for their tea in case they saw that that was the only thing in the fridge.
It is difficult to jettison the bananas without an enormous amount of guilt, and banana bread smells lovely when it's baking and tastes lovely when you eat it.
I also need to finish marking some essays, which is why I am writing blog posting. I am putting off making decisions because it's been so lovely to make some music.
My hands feel happy because I have been playing guitar such a lot and my heart feels happy because I have been singing. I don't care if it's cold and rainy outside and for once I have stopped worrying about other people for a few hours and realised that I can't solve their problems on my own, because I can't even solve my own problems on my own.
A bit of music making is like having a holiday from yourself without even leaving your body.
Actually, that's rubbish because you take your body on holiday with you if and when you go.
I'm not a very successful consciousness-streamer so I'm just going to shut up.

Saturday, February 11, 2017


Ten years ago a cold winter spell brought a redwing to the garden of the big house I used to live in because fallen apples had clustered underneath the fruit trees the previous autumn. The next day, the bird came back with a collection of pals to share the feast. I had never seen one before and was blown away by the jewel-studded breasts of the birds and the flash of red under their wings.
They almost looked as though they had been embroidered on to the garden.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw what resembled giant sparrows in the graveyard yesterday; one of them hopped up on to a weather-worn gravestone from the grey winter grass, and sure enough, it belonged to another small flock of redwings that had probably floated in on the cold February winds from Scandinavia.
What a beautiful sight, and echoing such a similar personal situation; maybe they are magical messages of hope. Or maybe they are just pretty birds.