Friday, August 18, 2017

Temptation, by Helen and the Horns

And Another One For Slushymushy Friday: Where Is the Love

Thinking About Attacks

Fear has stopped me from writing about terrorist attacks, that and the impossibility of putting into words the feelings that they engender. From the old flat in Camberwell, we heard the bus explosion perpetrated by the IRA around 25 years ago, and London life has never felt safe. Even before that, a neighbour had lost her husband in the Victoria Station bombing and her little girl used to come round to ours to draw at the kitchen table, because after her daddy died they had no money and the bailiff had taken everything, even her crayons.
Now I have two adult daughters living in the middle of the city and it's not a good thought.
Over the past few years Barcelona was a favourite holiday destination, and it always seemed like such a dreamy place; once the layers of tourists like us had gone, it would revert back to Old Ways, with the hidden Spanish Guitar shops, hat shops and toy shops blossoming again, and a population of artists flowing back into the streets.
Barcelona stimulated two albums of lovely songs, and the sight of parakeets popping their heads out of upside-down nests in the palm trees in Gaudi's garden, still makes me laugh.
I feel for the people of the city, and the tourists alike, and I am so sorry that this terrible thing has happened.

At The Edge Of The Sea Tomorrow!

I am honoured to have been invited to play tomorrow in Brighton at this festival organised by The Wedding Present. The Popguns and The Charlie Tipper Conspiracy will also be playing, and many more including, of course, the Wedding Present themselves.
Today's drawing from the Birch-McCookerybook Artlab.


Summer Days (enjoy them while they last)

Thursday, August 17, 2017


Big Yellow Taxi

Poly Styrene loved this song.

S'Rainin'

I was just typing that and the sun came out!
Yesterday evening was really interesting. It wasn't filming, it was audio recording with Zoe Howe and  Celeste, Poly's daughter. When I got there Lucy O'Brien was just finishing her interview and it was fascinating to hear Lucy's stories. It's going to be a really interesting project when it's finished. It was very affecting meeting Celeste; Poly would be very proud of her. She has that same lovely vibe about her, and it must be incredibly moving for her to hear the high regard that her mum was held in by so many people; there must be a lot of filling-in-the-gaps. We so rarely get to know our parents through their interactions with other people, just through our closeness (or not) with them, and then the more distant pull of the things that they do for work, or with their friends.
The photo shows Celeste, me and Zoe in the studio yesterday.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Poly Styrene

This evening I'm heading into town to film an interview for Zoe Howe and Paul Sng's documentary about Poly Styrene. I envisage the footage being snugly curled up on the cutting-room floor at some later date, but I always think with these things that you are giving the project a positive boost just by going along and doing it. I hope I remember to sing the first song Poly wrote- all one line of it- when she was at primary school. It was a protest song, directed at the dinner lady for making the children eat meat. She taught it to her classmates in the playground.
Knowing how many people were influenced by her, and who also felt enormous affection for her, and knowing what happened in her life, I think of Vincent Van Gogh and what we do to artists and musicians. I was talking to a researcher yesterday who is working on a project about Scottish women songwriters, and thinking about how we actually fan the flames of people's narcissism to the point where they are completely dislocated from reality. I don't think narcissism is particularly rare: the potential seems to be there for anybody, regardless of their gender or occupation.
All that's needed is a crew of sycophantic people to shield them from responsibility and to massage their sense of specialness: these can be friends or even family members. I don't think Poly was a narcissistic person by any means, but I do think that people around her deliberately detatched her from reality. She deserves a lot of respect for rejecting it all and looking for spirituality in life instead, trying to seek out genuine friendships, rather than people who massaged her ego.
One of her friends asked me to go to the funeral as her representative because she was too upset to go herself. It was the most beautiful funeral that I have ever been to; I must have written about it here at the time. Lots of the London fishes were out of water (yes, I felt that too even though I don't feel like a London fish) and the day belonged to people who loved her properly: her mum, her daughter, her husband, and the proper friends that she made after being a pop star. Punk threw her into a position where her bravery and resilience were tested to breaking point and beyond. There's no-one else like her.
This was her first release (as Mari Elliott):


Monday, August 14, 2017

Dreaming of Narcissus

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Lexington Times


The beer, and the sticky floor when the moshing stopped.

French Footsteps At My Door

From The Helen and the Horns Archive


The orange poster must be from one of our first ever gigs. Dave had the key to the Jazz Room at Imperial College and we used to rehearse there every week. This may have been the one where the bar was hosting a delegation of Dutch miners who did a noisy conga in front of us while we were playing. I booted each one up the bum as they went past. By the last couple of chaps they realised what was going on and escaped before I got 'em.
The article is from Smash Hits- unbelievable that we got in there! I was/am such a pop-head that I was thrilled to bits, because they print the lyrics and I love that. I still had that shirt until just a few months ago.
The Newcastle gig was a hoot. The microphone was giving off electric shocks and McMum was there at soundcheck time with her friend from church. The first thing that I said through the P.A. was 'F*CK!' as it zapped me through my upper lip. Then later there was a showing-off competition between Cleo 'Hot Lips' Silver and Little Bruv, who was totally pissed and became the star of the dressing room ('Tomato sandwiches? Why is it always tomato sandwiches? Don't they know I hate tomato sandwiches?). Cleo 'Hot Lips' had swanned in expecting to be the centre of attention but was no match for Little Bruv, who progressed to throwing slices of tomato around the place. Oh, happy days.
The stickers? Well, we obviously used them!
The Simonics poster must have been a bit later as well, when we had our own label. Maybe? The band was formed out of three Nicks and Two Simons, who recorded at Elephant Studios in Wapping, with a Simon and a Nick engineering.
Finally, that's the original Helen and the Horns logo which was later tidied up by or first record label, Thin Sliced Records.
OK, back to the box......