Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What's Cookin'

I'm playing at a pub called the Sheepwalk in Leytonstone on Wednesday (tomorrow). The night is called What's Cookin' and I'm supporting Martin Stephenson, who used to be in the Daintees. Looking forward to seeing him play- I think he does rockabillyish stuff now- and looking forward to meeting him too. I'm going to be supporting the Daintees at Christmas in Newcastle Upon Tyne so watch out you Geordies.
On Thursday, of to Birmingham to do two all-day children's songwriting workshops so I will have to stock up on the chilled Snickers (who needs Cristal?) and work on the fat stores.Here's a joke to make you laugh so much you get thin.
What do you call a herd of cats? Cattle.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


A very famous and funky academic attended a conference I helped to organise. I have a problem with gravitas because I don't look very intelligent, so often people ask me very mundane things at conferences, that they think my little brain can cope with. This chap strode up to me and asked if I knew where he could find a pharmacist. Of course I told him, but it did cross my mind to wonder what it was he wanted. Always trying to be helpful, I offered him painkillers as I always have a supply of those with me. He turned them down.
Later, I left the conference as I wasn't feeling well. He was coming down the street and had obviously been fretting about my speculations about what he might have been buying at a chemist's shop.
"DEODORANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!", he bellowed to me across the street, maximum volume, to the alarm of a huge crowd of tourists on Marylebone Road, who jumped out of their skins in fright.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

June Songbird

This will be good. John Hegley is brilliant!


Played at Scaledown last night. I really liked it- it's upstairs in a pub in the West End and has little rows of red velvet chairs, almost like an old-time music hall if you use your imagination. The first act was Tristan Burfield who plays miniature tunes on his computer and gameboy, all very short and different, bit like a bag of sweets. Then there was me. I have divided all my songs into categories- loss, fantasy, biblical, lust, and people could choose what they wanted. Except I never did the lust one, I talked too much and missed it out. I wore glasses which gave a different twist to the occasion (i.e. I couldn't see beyond the microphone but at least I could read the little cards with the categories). Then there was Michael Ormiston, who played a Mongolian string thing with a wooden horse head carved at the top of the neck, which I desperately wanted, and did Mongolian throat singing. I have never heard it live before; it sounded like an electronic machine. Extraordinary. The club is having a rest for a while because of the World Cup but it's worth checking out in July www.theorchestrapit.com (sorry it's not a proper link but this computer won't do that at the moment). Thanks to Steve Beresford for putting me in contact with Richard who runs the club!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Finished book


Socks and Hats

I've just realised I missed Offline last night! And I'm going to miss Songbird next week as I'll be in Birmingham doing a children's music workshop. It's a bit like missing Brownies one week and having to meet Brown Owl's enquiring gaze the next time.
Living is a confusing soup of writing... I went to bed early and as I fell asleep I started thinking of re-christening socks 'footnotes' and hats 'chapter headings'. At the point where I re-christened the act of breaking wind a 'paragraph' I laughed, and woke myself up.
Talking of sleep- I had a dream once about travelling up England in a helicopter- I didn't know why. But I got to Yorkshire and spied Richmond, which was built on a hill that stuck out of the landscape. I flew closer, and closer, and hovered over the market square. There I saw the guitarist from Joby and the Hooligans, Nick, dressed in a kilt and jaunty Scottish hat, holding a set of tartan bagpipes and sitting on a donkey right in the middle of the square. He had a funny little smile on his face and had obviously been waiting there for ages, possibly days, waiting to see if I'd find him.
I burst out laughing in my sleep and woke up. I have admired Nick ever since, for going to such trouble just to make me laugh in a dream.
I'm off to number the pages.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


There really is a skeleton in the cupboard in JG63

Grey Box

The grey box that I work in has its own weather system.
It was cold and wet this morning so I wore a thick coat to work, switched on the computer to warm my hands against and settled down to work. By typing furiously, I could just about keep the blood circulating. Sometimes I even have to eat a Magnum Classic to get warm. Later I drew my coat about me (was too cold to take it off) and went out to get the post- and it was a HOT SUNNY DAY outside and people were SUNBATHING.
Could have fooled me
in JG63
cold grey box
where's me socks?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Totem Pole

My gran was American and used to work on a Native American Reservation for a while. This was her totem pole.
When mum and dad went on holiday she came to look after us. Mum and dad gave us scissors and made us promise not to cut our hair. I had an idea. We cut off the cat's whiskers. Gran was very upset, but the cat didn't mind, she was purring when we did it.
Gig alert: Friday this week at Scaledown, the King and Queen, Foley Street (near Cleveland Street) in the West End. I'm on at 9 p.m., it's a short set but there are lots of good other things on. Free.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I think it went OK

Oh... their DAT player was broken but I brought my own and I had to do the show backwards with the music first and the interview afterwards but I think it went well-the band were really relaxed and we actually had a laugh between things. Of course every time we went back on air I forgot the funny quips that I'd thought of in between. And Nadya has given me a fantastic fake leopardskin jacket and I look like the bees knees in it. (or the leopard's knees- just YOU try spellin lepperddd after half a gallon of wine!!!). Tried out loads of guitars in rare and vintage beforehand, thinking of buying a vintage acoustic but then change my mind and want to be a rockabilly. Which way will the wind blow? Who knows, but Johnny cock crow. Who writes fake nursery rhymes? I do, all o' de times.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Making a radio show

Tomorrow, Tessa Pollitt who played bass with the Slits, and the new girls, are coming to Resonance and we are going to do a broadcast. I've never done anything quite like it before and I lay awake for ages at about 5 a.m. worrying about it until I realised there's nothing I can do about it at that time in the morning.What a relief, I thought, they sent me guidelines a couple of days ago, all I've got to do is look at those guidelines they sent me and I'll be fine! So I got up, logged on,looked for the guidelines... and I'd trashed them for some reason!
Why is 50% of my brain so utterly foolish? How can I possibly succeeed in my plan to be first elected anarchist Queen of the UK or at least of our road? Why does anybody like Jack Johnson's music?
Anyway, I am sure it will be OK (probably).It's going out at 7 p.m. UK time and can be streamed from the internet www.resonancefm.com and afterwards I will be in the pub if you want to buy me a pint.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Just one more thing...

... I was just wondering why all the cars in Britain drove to Hackney yesterday just to get in my way?

I was a birthday present

A few weeks ago, someone emailed me and asked me if I would come to play at a birthday party for her husband, because on the front page of my website it says I will 'play a gig near you'. At first, I thought it might be a hoax, because normally, only Mick Jagger and Rod Stewart do that sort of thing- playing for billionaire businessmen on their yachts and things like that... but it was real,and that is what I did last night. Paul Davey came along to play sax, and we set up in the living room and played some songs for the Birthday Chap. It was lovely because we were a surprise- his wife told him that she hadn't managed to get tickets for a gig so she had brought the show to him instead, and he though it was a windup until we walked in. He says he will live to be a hundred, and I think it is probably worth it, with a wife like that. Happy Birthday,Birthday Chap,it was a pleasure to play for you!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

All part of life's rich tapas

Had a funny few days. First thing on Thursday morning, Caroline Coon phoned and offered to contribute towrds a launch party for the book. I was so touched I almost burst into tears. It has been such hard work- or rather, it's still being really hard work. More information keeps turning up at the last minute. So I was manic all day at work and din't manage to get anything done- I have 60 songs to listen to but didn't even start. Then yesterday, I phoned Poly Styrene to ask her permission to use the interview in the book and while I was talking to her, realised I wasn't using any of it anyway apart for some anonymous stuff. We were yakking away for ages about the Cathars, sage tea, Boy George, all sorts of stuff. Almost late for the rehearsal with Tash but got there. And then played, and little Bruv came and also firstcousinsonceremoved, Neil and Callum, hello Neil and Callum! I don't know about anyone else but I drank more beer than usual and my head hurts and I'm lying down writing this. The cat is jealous and thinks I have a mechanical fur-free cat on my lap that is getting all her attention. At some point I know I must become vertical, but not just yet. And today... well, I'll tell you what I am doing today, tomorrow, because it's a secret. I sort of wish I was going to Deptford Festival though- my friend Debbie makes fantastic clothes, skirts out of parachutes- I have got one- and she has a work unit in the Cockpit Arts place. I also met the lady with the bread stall, Charlotte, when I went to pick up the music from Ben. And I met a man who is writing a football song... Paul who plays sax for me has played on another one that gor played at an England/Germany friendly and Gazza is in the video. Joby rightly pointed out that quite a few expat Geordies are not as cool as I thought they were- poor Gazza squirty-eyes being one and Ant and Dec being two (more). So I was wrong on that count but I still reckon I know better jokes. Oh, soup is where my brain once was. Gonna try to get more shuteye. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Fact: last night, I put together 20 tracks out of 30 I have written, so my 'ears' can listen and choose the best 15. I have timed them and I think 15 tracks would give about 45 minutes of music... I have some very short little ones that I might put on the CD if it seems to need them (they are all less than a minute long). Its going to the international ears first.I still haven't managed to catch up with the chewingumpainterman- perhaps he is lost, or perhaps he was a figment of my imagination... the Big Issue seller, Rose, believes in him too, though.
Fact: When I was a seedling, I used to do under-5s music sessions in Clapham. I couldn't afford to buy lunch and sometimes used to eat my sandwiches and knit in the snow on Clapham Common. I used to use the loos in McDonalds. Once I went in there and got locked in. I was too embarrassed to call for help, because I hadn't bought anything, so I climbed on to the toilet-roll holder and squeezed over the top of the door and ran away.Do you think they were worried in case someone had been taken ill in there? This has plagued me ever since.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Friday's Gig

I'm playin with TashBryant, the wizzo cellist, at the Red Room, the Cartoon pub just of Piccadilly Circus. It's £5 to get in and there are lots of other bands playing. We are on early- 8 p.m. and playing for half an hour. I haven't done a gig with Tash for ages so it will be good.
Sorry about the mistakes- computer's being creative again.
Backing vocal of the day- Hum Drum Tickety Gum
Don't use if you want to be taken seriously!

Back to the writing
The academic fighting
I'm drowning in words
I think
Books are for nerds

Hum drum tickety gum.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Past, present, future

Past: story about Alan
Ha ha, I've just been laughing with Joby about that squat we used to live in in Brighton. Alan put his trousers in to soak in a plastic bowl in the bathroom one day. He went off somewhere for a couple of weeks, and meanwhile, a pigeon flapped in the window and made a nest in his trousers. It was really happy there, so we all just left it. When Alan came back, he was furious.
It's been so hot today the cats came up and complained, and asked me to turn the heating off. So I took off their little fur coats and hung them on the washing line, and they felt better after that
That's tomorrow, isn't it?
(Happy intergalactic Joby day, Joby, Celestial Seasonings to you)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Chewing Gum Painterman

The Chewinggumpainterman is going to paint me a big green lawnmower on a bit of gum in Barnet. I'll tell you where it is when it's done; I'm taking him some music tomorrow so he can listen to it and get an idea of what he's doing; meanwhile, he's got into his gig, and is researching big green lawnmowers.
I have got some more gigs- 26th in Central London and 31st in Leytonstone, but I've left the details in my office, which is roughly a million miles from here, the library, and it's too far to go and get them. I'll put them here tomorrow.
Spent yesterday making little cardboard stratocasters in the Barnet Football Club colours, orange and black, for the children at Song Club to pose with. Don't tell them, it's a secret! They were incredibly naughty yesterday, because it was sunny; quite a lot of our song involve prolonged chanting episodes, because that's the only way we can get them to behave.
Spoke to a really feisty keyboard player who used to play with Hazel O'Connor. Interesting.... At the end I said 'Ha, ha! We're still here!' and she said 'That would be a good song title!'...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I'm planning a tour in the autumn. Newcastle and Cardiff are on the cards, very close to each other! Might go to France too...
Here is a rubbish joke, to celebrate.
What do you call it when you hit a seal?
Sealing whacks.

Monday, May 08, 2006


I played the Hope and Anchor last night- which I play every few years, and every time I go back there's been a re-design. There's really no need, you know, to do this especially for me, guys!
Thank you for coming, Rowen and Ludek! (and of course, Monty) The sound guy is brilliant- he's called Elias and he comes from Geordieland (all the best Geordies are exiles).
I saw a really sarky review of the Slits gig in Dublin- funny how some people in the audience try to rely on their bands to bring back their youth for them! Heritage versions, suppose. They are a good Now band- different from the Then band, but still a damn sight better than almost any band I've seen in the last ten years, and that is a LOT of bands.
I'm having a rest from the book, it was driving me mad. Someone was going to read it for me but now they are not. So today I'm doing picture research, and then I'll pretend I'm someone else and read it later this week. It's raining, but I don't mind; it's not so hard to be a swot if the sun's not shining.
I washed my cat on Saturday because he was dirty. He loved it.

Friday, May 05, 2006


You know that really annoying music they play when you are waiting in the telephone queue?
Write lyrics to it about how annoying it is and sing them along while you wait!
Did you see Popworld when that funny bloke with the curly hair interviewed Sean Paul? At the end of the interview, the backing track for 'I Never Can Say Goodbye' started up and the funny bloke started singing it in an awful whiny voice to Sean Paul- the whole bloody song! Poor Sean Paul was looking desperately off-camera for someone to shout 'Cut!' or something, but nobody did and he had to endure it right till the end. It makes me laugh so much just thinking about it, my tea comes down my nose!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Northern Line Game

I took Mike his sporran-splitter today- I'll know when he's consumed it because his sporran will be split! The fantastic Actionettes are dancing on Saturday at The Pleasure Unit in Bethnal Green- see www.actionettes.com
On the way back I was remembering the game we used to play. Who lives at Mill Hill East? The Mill Hill Beast. What does he eat? The Mill Hill Feast. Does he eat the Mill Hill most? (and so on, all the way to the Beast being married by the Mill Hill Priest). You could do all the others as well- the Belsize Park Lark, the Golders Green Queen, and perhaps south of the river, the Tooting Bec Wreck. All a bit of a Burnt Oak joke, innit?
Guess what- Martin from the Daintees has asked me to play support with them in Newcastle in December- they are doing some reformed Daintees gigs. That's where I was born, Newcastle General Hospital, used to go ice skating at Tynemouth Ice Rink, a few years after I was born of course, and for years they had nothing to play but 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You' by Andy Williams. To this day, every time I hear that song I get sore feet along the line where the blade presses through the sole of the skating boot.

Oh yes- the interview with the SLits will be broadcast on Tuesday 23rd May on Resonance at 7 p.m. and streamed on www.resonancefm.com

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hope and Anchor, Sunday 7th May

My next gig is at the Hope and Anchor, Upper Street, Islington on Sunday 7th May- it's £5 to get in (there's a £4.50 price with a flyer but he hasn't sent me any yet) and I'm on at 9.20.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Is it that time already?

Ho..hum.. I have been sleeping... went out on Saturday to interview the Slits, just Ari and the new girls as Tessa wasn't feeling well. It was very interesting, we were talking about the Charleston and Bo Diddley and Dancehall rhythms and how similar they all were to each other. Stupidly, I'd put the wrong DAT tapes in my bag and only could record 35 minutes but the slot's only an hour and I think Nadya will give me some of their new tracks to play and of course, I'll play Charleston, Bo Diddley and Beenie Man. Nadya was saying how she's interested in being a rhythm guitarist and not a lead guitarist, and this is what Viv thought too, so that's interesting. Ari was on top form and saying how she wants to play prisons and girls schools (not much difference!). Then we went to a Thai vegan restaurant and talked girl talk- mind your own business!
As for the book- now I have to find 15 copyright photos that no-one's used before- urgh! But I think the thing is almost finished although Caroline Coon sent me an email just the other day with a new female keyboard player I should talk to particularly as she played with the Stranglers and I have a very interesting quote from Hugh Cornwell saying that girls shoudn't be in bands because they are too emotional. How odd- I always thought emotion was rather important to musicians!
Which reminds me, I am halfway thru a new song. I think I'll go and play that.