Friday, August 29, 2008


Quick money running out at Prestwick airport
Tonite- Accies Glasgow
Village, Edinburgh
New cds with me
Hope you camne come!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thorts: Meowmachines, Munchausen and Mellotrons

Ha Ha- my friend Kim sent me a wry observation about artists and musicians and their generosity- and how sometimes this is not so welcome! The boundary between sharing and blowing one's own trumpet is very quivery indeed, I agree.
That was a thort on the way back from Tom's.
He is going to New York in October for good and I'm scurrying to finish stuff before he goes. I was re-doing the vocal on The Apple Tree which I've tried to put on Myspace but not sure if it's there.
There were other thorts; as the furious cats realise they're off to the cattery again (gigs in Scotland this weekend), I thought of them yelling in their boxes and how funny it would be to march into a poncy studio with a cat carry-box and announce that it's a Meowmachine and I want it on my track. A bit like the human piano in Munchausen that prod-uces sound when the poor caged captives are jabbed in the bum with a sharp bumjabber operated by the person playing the piano keyboard. Which made me think of its similarities to the Mellotron, whose tapes had to be re-wound at the end of every gig.
Ah, technology! Good old Rabelais, predicting the recording of sound with his story of frozen battle sounds melting in the sun years later and being perfectly preserved, even though the battle was over centuries ago.
Meanwhile there has been more interest about a Chefs compilation. And Amazon has listed Poetry and Rhyme as Poems and Rhymes. That's hilarious, as I'd changed the name from Polyhymnia because I thought it would be difficult!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Antiques and Old Songs

I'm having a troublesome day today; whichever way I turn there's a prickly barbed-wire bush throwing out its sharp tendrils to entangle me.
I think they call it One Of Those Days.
I was thinking about antique furniture and how people value a rare and old object for things aside from its functionality, and how one of the things they value most is their exclusive ownership of that object.
It's very different with old songs, the audio antiques, because their value is in their generality and the way people want to share them. Sometimes I think about owning nothing but the thoughts in my head and the words that come out of my mouth, and how different that would be.
I am throwing away masses of stuff at the moment- old memories, clothes that no longer fit, things that I thought would be useful but weren't; the charity-shop bin bag is puffed up and bloated with my past, fake valuables and awkward disappointments.
Just think, if you owned nothing, you could imagine your environment in a different way every day! Sometimes, in order to be a better guitarist, I pretend I'm someone else who plays better than me, or in order to be unafraid in certain situations, I pretend to be someone I know who isn't frightened by anything. I find this works very well. You should try it.

A Present from Peter and the Penguins

Look what Peter and the Penguins sent me, all the way from their fjord in Norway!
Something is happening in the world of Penguins; first, one gets knighted, and next, they learn to paint!
Listen to their sunny music at

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rochefort en Accords part three

Left: Karel Beer, facilitator of the festival and general catalyst
Below left: BJ Cole and Martin Stephenson relax together. BJ accompanied lots of different artists throughout the festival in spite of having to play a borrowed pedal steel guitar, after Ryanair damaged the pickup on his own. Apparently there are only 40 pedal steel players in the whole of France, so he was lucky to find one.
Discovery of the festival was Gabriel Yacoub, a singer songwriter whose music had a real mediaeval feel to it. It actually sounded really French and fitted in perfectly. As for the audiences- they were great: they listened, laughed, and danced in all the right places.
That's not a miniature rhinoceros standing on Martin's head- it's part of the decor of the hotel, that he was sitting in front of!
The fantastic sax player, Rob from Canada, said that he'd learned age 14 with Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown, to play in three part harmony in Clarence's brass section; Clarence would sing and the three of them would have to mimic his line, which was nearly always improvised, in harmony straight away. No wonder he's such a good player!

Rochefort en Accords part two

Left: on the main stage sound checking ('balance' en francais). The sound guys were great- they turned up at the shows that they weren't doing the sound at, just out of interest. I don't think I have ever been to a friendlier gig

Above: On the stage at the garden of the museum; I sang a spectacular bum note but managed to pull myself together; it was a lovely afternoon, with Angie Palmer doing a set (liked the train song!) with the house band, then I did a couple of songs and Martin Stephenson did a set too, which went down really well.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rochfort en Accords

Just got back yesterday from the festival at Rochefort; it was an amazing experience and I will take a bit of time tomorrow to write about it properly. Hats off to Karel Beer, who was one of the main organisers. I have some great photos and it will be hard to decide which ones to post here but I'm sure there will be a festival website.
I've just spent the day writing songs and eating cake with Jane (Morvern Callar) which was a pretty damn good way to spend a bank holiday. She brought round a lovely pear and almond cake, and in between stuffing our faces with that and strawberries and raspberries, we wrote a folk song (2 guitars, 2 voices) and a punk song for a special bingo evening in South London (Jane on bass, me on guitar, both of us shouting and singing). We filled the kitchen with instruments, even carrying in the wheezy harmonium from the front room that requires the energy to power six exercise bicycles to get a squeak out of it. She'd brought her violin and clarinet, and after the writing bit, I showed her how to play Two Strings to Your Bow on the guitar.
The other bit of news was receiving a box of preview copies of Poetry and Rhyme. The official release date is the 4th October and I still have to find a suitable place for a launch. The CD looks and sounds beautiful and I am really proud of it and the musicians who played on it, Tom who recorded it and Em who did the cover. It will be available on Amazon (isn't that amazong?).
I'm tired. Goodnight.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I almost forgot...

... every L-driver in the whole of North London, stalling just as the lights turned green (at least ten of 'em), and the dear little ancient old man and old lady who were stranded on a traffic island. looking beseechingly at the oncoming traffic as it whizzed past, dangerously close to their bunions. Conscience made me stop, but I sweated buckets as they edged painfully slowly across the road, and I couldn't start up again until they were both safely standing on the pavement, much to the annoyance of the car behind, which was probably being driven by an even more stressed person than me!

Whooshing through Wednesday

Calm, calm, calm... calm,calm,calm...
The cattery called last night.
'Where are your cats?', they asked.'We've had a power cut and want to go out for something to eat'.
I had forgotten to take them; I'm going to play at a festival in France tomorrow.
They kindly offered to keep open till 1.30 this lunchtime, so I whizzed over to Dalston first for Headway East's Songwriting Workshop.
The guys were amazing- in an hour we wrote an entire song, verses, chorus and other bit (bridge?) and more importantly, everyone joined in singing it at the end. It was really, really fun and I hope to go back there and do more.
After, I leapt into the car and sat behind every slow dust truck in London, every little old man driving at 20 miles and hour in a 30 mile an hour zone, at least four slow u-turns, a half-hour traffic-light controlled roadworks at East Finchley and a series of annoying red traffic lights till I got home, threw the poor cats, who had been snoozing peacefully on the chairs they're not allowed to sleep on, into their cat boxes and roared up the road to South Mimms, getting there in the nick of time.
'What?, asked the cats sleepily as I vanished over the horizon.
Meanwhile, member of the household had locked themselves out and was sitting sadly on the doorstep, sending forlorn texts.
I put my foot down on the accellerator, screeching to a halt outside the front door, receiving a text as I turned off the engine, 'Mannged to get spare key from neighbour'.
Stressed, moi?
I tried to go to sleep for a nap, which I just can't do; I don't know why I ever bother. I wrapped the arms of my spare sweatshirt round my head several times and it was still too light. I could hear every grain of dust (and there are many) rustling around the house, the windows rattling, the little boy next door having a funny game, cars bumping past the window and then the phone rang.
How I wish I had a multi-pack of walnut whips! I ate seven of them the other day, one by one, and they improved the flow of the daily angstfest no end. Note to self: lay in supplies for the Winter now, while they are on special offer!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Zombies

My friend in the USA, photographer Daniel Coston, has sent me a whole bunch of CDs. At the moment I'm listening to the Zombies, who feature the wonderful Colin Blunstone on vocals, and a string quartet. The music is utterly delicious- I bought Colin's single, Say You Don't Mind from a record sale in Barnet about a year ago; it was a huge lesson in songwriting for me when I was a little girl, because it is all there as clear as daylight, and has his beautiful, easy, soaring voce overlaid on it to make you want to listen to it over and over again. You MUST listen to them, they are fabulous, like sun-warmed raspberries and fresh cream on a sunny day.
Daniel takes distinctive photographs- he did some in the USA when I was over there. He is mostly non-digital, which means his pix have a dreamy feel that you just don't get with high-definition digital photos.
(I like this style of photography; when I was at art college in Brighton I took loads of photos with my grandpappy's old camera which didn't focus properly, and they were most unusual, misty and overcast and odd).
Daniel came to the UK a few months ago to see the Zombies with his wife, Sandra, and we wnet out for lunch on a cold rainy London day, and that's when we discovered that we were all Blunstone fans.
He's sent a load of other music too, which is a lovely treat. Diana's coming over this afternoon to edit some film about Indian musicians, and we will listen to it together, eating raspberries of course, even though it's raining.
Above: one of Daniel's photographs, taken on Dolph Ramseur's porch in North Carolina

Monday, August 18, 2008

Why I Ranted

It was because I got to work at the University of the East this morning and dumped in a pile on my desk were:
The wooden babushka Elvis Presley-through-the-ages set;
The plastic Vincent Van Gogh with a replaceable head with/without ear;
The plastic Spice Girls with heads so huge in comparison with their bodies that they tumble over unless supported;
The tin robot Little Bruv gave me;
The Bratz Rock Star Doll, still in its pack;
My bunch of red Valentine roses (now dried)
My postcards
They had left Colourchange-hair Ken in his red suit made from an old sock with holes cut in it (YES!)

But where all the other things had been was a cardboard 2007/08 calendar from a printers, neatly assembled, as a Statement.
Somebody thought I was silly to have those things on my shelf in the office, didn't they?

Putting My House In Order

I've spent the day looking through the CD collection, intending to throw some out, but that time will come when I finally move house. It was interesting, though- I found a lot of missing darlings and I'm gonna have a good old play through them when I have finished the current stage in the operation, Sitting Down For A While.
I found a couple of Helen and the Horns Etc CDs which I'm not sure whether to take down to Rough Trade or not- I will have to check to see if it's still up on their website. I found two Christmas ones (I wonder if Bendi want some new Christmas tracks? That was a lot of fun!).
Nude Magazine have been in touch to say they are going to review Poetry and Rhyme in their September issue. I'm dead pleased because I really like the magazine; they do a lot of stuff about illustrators and artists at the margins, and I love all that. They also advertise lots of weird clothing and jewellery and I love all that too.

Anyway... off to Rochefort en Accords on Thursday to a collaboration festival that will have to be my holiday this year too. BJ Cole's going, who played on Songbird, and lots of other people too. It will be fun.
I'm going into the studio again next week to finish a song off because Martin and myself have almost finished our distance-collaboration album. He is recording in Ross-shire this afternoon; I shall be recording in good old Kenton above the pub and the Indian sweet shop. You know the one.
I understand that musicians and artists are Up-Their-Own-Arseists. We were born this way and we can not help it. I remember being shut in a room at the Employment Office in the 1980s, the door bolted by a man in a pale blue nylon shirt who proceeded to harangue me for ages about how I saw myself as an artist in a garret, and how I should just get a normal job like everyone else.
He summed up something during that shoutfest: some people hate artheads because they can not understand them. They think we want to deliberately get up their noses by sewing our embroidery on the bottom left hand corner of our shirts instead of in the middle like everyone else (seriously, that was another one!!). But I hereby make a statement for our rights! Not for nothing did we get bullied mercilessly at school and despaired of by our parents! We are here, on our own planets while simultaneously treading the Earth with you; tolerate us, love us and we will share everything with you because part of being a true artist is a massive generosity of spirit, and we would like nothing better than for everyone we meet to enjoy the pleasures of creativity as much as we do.
So there.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Prayer (suburban)

Lord be Praised for Vanish stain remover, for its help in purging carpets of bilious cat vomit.

Venues and Sock

1. Anyone suggest a good venue for my CD launch in October? I'd like somewhere not too fancy but a little unusual: close to a tube station and fairly central London so people can get to it!
2. I have just put my one hand-knitted odd sock on eBay!

Bohemia, the words

What a beautiful place! Mown green lawns glowing in the overcast light, a quaint chocolate-box cottage, woods, sky, balmy breezes, old fashioned tents and bunting, and the air scented by Hampstead money; the minibus from the car park rolled through secret woodlands with shady ponds and sunbeam-lit glades into Eridge Park.
Nobody seemed to quite know what was going on; I was tired from a round trip to Leeds the previous day and was tempted to be grumpy but I inhaled the 1940s Sussex atmosphere, all of it, counted to a hundred and marched to a tent with a PA, where I announced that I was due to play at 3, and found a PA guy with a very cross face. So I played for half an hour, to the copious bar staff and a charming little girl who took to the dance floor and danced all the way through; people wandered in and out; a woman in a red coat sat at the back and a couple of guys in forties garb supped pints to my right. I sang to the invisible hordes and out of the hole in the top of the tent.
After I'd finished, I strolled past people playing ancient games that involved items on the grass and shouting, past the lawn tennis, and spied Katy in the distance, clearly not enjoying having to organise her tent. Yes: I discovered that I'd played not only in the wrong tent but also at the wrong time! Katy got me a coffee, we sat on a swingy seat for a while and chatted, and then went on down to her tent where Steph West had struck up on her harp.
The only other harp player I have seen recently is Serafina Steer, who is funny and loud; Steph's style was very different and probably a lot more traditional. She has a lovely aura about her and sings a combination of achingly sad folk songs and merrier music in a beautiful clear lyric voice, at one with her harp and at ease in front of her audience. She is very much a pastoral performer; where Serafina is brittle and urban; Steph's music fitted in perfectly with the dreamy atmosphere of the late afternoon and the assorted Bohemians loved her.
Afterwards, I played some songs (Little England, Temptation, Love on the Wind and Heaven Avenue), and I was glad I did; Katy danced like the free spirit that she is, and a singer-songwriter called Sarah Spade asked if she could do some of my songs in her set. I was absolutely delighted and now have to find out what the chords are so I can send them to her.
So what looked like being a disaster for a weary person turned out quite well in the end; pity I was too knackered to stay the night.
Just one thing though, posey men with waxed moustaches: there is no such thing as ironic vanity, you know. Billy CHildish allows his moustache to flop and floff about his mouth when it is off-duty. I saw enough self-admiring gentlemen there yesterday to take me through to the end of the year. Hats off to the baffled-looking chap who had come dressed as a 1960s doctor!

More pics

Sleeping Bohemian with Waxed Moustache; Harp Player

Bohemia Festival: pics (1); review to follow

Dancing Bohemians and Bohemian Audience

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bohemia Festival, Eridge Park

Today I'm pootling down to Tunbridge Wells, where I'm playing the Bohemia festival; I'm on at 3 p.m.
Seeya there!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More Sock Stuff

Who would have guessed that this cool wristband was once an odd sock?

Jazz Cafe Review: self aggrandisement and bigging up The Daintees

What a gig last night! I really enjoyed playing my set because the audience was listening and I seem to feel so much more confident these days. I loved it, I loved it! Thank you audience for listening to me and thank you to the people who came up later and said they liked it. Thank you to The Daintees for inviting me to support them, too! It more than made up for all the awful ones where people haven't paid any attention. And if anyone had told me a couple of years ago that I'd play the Jazz Cafe I don't think I would have believed them.
The crowd carried on in good spirits for the Daintees- they were really looking forward to seeing them and they weren't disappointed. The band wasn't the big festival band of last year- there was no Andrea Mackie and no John Steel, but they were much more focused and much rockier. Interesting to see how the songs work whatever way they are presented. The sound was great out front; Martin sang really well and they'd been rehearsing which really showed, because they were as tight as a ducks arse in a sandstorm! Like last year the audience sang along to loads of the songs- Little Red Bottle, Rain, more than that, and when the band left the stage after a two hour full-on set, they were still yelling for more twenty minutes later. What a brilliant night! Daisy Flowers was there doing the merchandise, a proper rock'n'roll girl, and Johnny Guitar went up and played harmonica on a couple of songs (earlier he told a wonderful story about being on Gardener's World with his band, having won a competition to write a song to celebrate the Year of the Potato- you have to have met him to see how funny that is- he is just like the missing member of the Rolling Stones!)
Rob from Voiceprint was there too, smiling away. Poetry and Rhyme will be out in September so I shall have to organise a launch party, won't I?
Today, knackered. But Sean's emailed to say he's put Loverman on Youtube, with a bit from the interview I did with Shippy when I was in Newcastle.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Consequences of Guilt

'Why-o-why', I wondered, 'Do I break an important guitar-pickin' fingernail every time I have a big gig?'
Because those at home make me feel so guilty that I have a day of frantic housework beforehand (or beforefinger, actually), using vicious products that leach all the calcium from my nails at the same time as scalding the limescale off the bath.
Rubber gloves render my hands flabby and juicy and make my fingernails soft and snappable. What to do? Get rid of the guilt or stop doing the housework?
I just don't know.
But I've lost the second finger right hand nail, the one that twangs the jangly bits of my songs, and I'll have to run through the songs for tonight and get used to having the digital equivalent of a limp!
Last night, one at home had a little barbecue, expecting ten people. Each of those people turned up with an unzippable secret compartment inside which two more people were hiding. I had to keep going downstairs in my pyjamas to make myself cups of tea in order to cramp the style of the party.
At eleven o'clock I was looking fearfully out of the window for more tipsy revellers when I saw a massive hedgehog charging up and down the pavement in the dark, blundering into the road and trying to get run over. We wrapped it in a jacket and took it into the back garden. Sorry hedgehog, if you were looking for a mate, but you were at risk of imminent flattening by a suburban car, and the safety and sanctity of the garden is probably a better place for you until your urges die down.

Jazz Cafe with The Daintees tonight- what a treat. Time to get my best dress out of the wardrobe, and hoover off the moths.
By the way, here is a household tip. You know those strongly-scented lilies with the bright orange pollen that sprinkles about and ruins everything? Hoover the stamens with the pollen on. Either the pollen will disappear into the vaccuum, or the stamens will actually snap off and vanish. Its exciting and fun, though not as much fun as dance-polishing the floor with dusters tied to each foot.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Secret Agent's Wedding

I went to another wedding this weekend, a music booking agent's wedding in Norfolk (what a fantastic place!).
Entertainment was provided by Farmer Jason, a genuine pig farmer from Tennessee and children's entertainer '(Where are you from?' asked Shippy later. 'Illinois' replied Farmer Jason,'but I live in Nashville now'. I daydreamed.. all those piggies being housed in down-time studio space and hastily moved before the country stars arrived for their sessions, and grunting sulkily at the indignity of being constantly shuffled about from studio to studio and never getting a good snuffle for the truffle).
Who else was there? The bass player from Slaughter and the Dogs, dressed in tails and making the wedding video.
The wedding happened in a windmill but I missed that bit, unforchly; the reception was pretty groovy anyway.
Tomorrow, I'm supporting The Daintees at the Jazz Cafe; will be wearing my best dress but clumping down there in the Doc Marten's for the soundcheck. I've just bought a flight case for the festival in France, and next Saturday I am playing at the Bohemia Festival in Kent (want to come along Father Tobias and family?)
It's all go in McCookerybook's kitchen, I tell you.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Radio Joy

The Band of Holy Joy have their own station that broadcasts on Sunday evenings at 8 p.m. on
Johny has just emailed to say they are playing one of my tracks tonight. If you can't listen tonight the shows are archived so you can listen later if you wish.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Two nights out and an afternoon's recording

I've had two nights out on the trot- unheard of for me!
First one was Wednesday, a real gem of a Songbird. I can't remember the names of the performers so I'll review that later or tomorrow as I've got a couple of nice photos. (now I can- Alexander Robinson, sound layerer and processor with cello and acoustic guitar and billions of pedals in chains on the carpet in front of him; Petronella the belly-dancer; and Country Dad, a band that can only be described as a trad jazz experimental band with songs!)
Then last night I went to see Shimmy Rivers and and Canal at a pub down Rosebery Avenue called the Wilmington Arms. They were brilliant- as close to seeing a proper punk band in the seventies as you could get, but also genuinely manic. The funny little guy who turned up late on his bike wearing a tie the last time had a lime green sort of Teddy-mouse suit on and was bouncing around like a toddler on a trampoline thrashing his guitar like nobody's business. Other side of the stage, Mu had a white teddy hat on with ears; Jane was concentrating on her clarinet playing (she plays like a proper player now, albeit a punk one), Ben stood belting his drums like a demented Test Departmento and Rod opened his mouth to huger cavernous extremes to yell than I'd ever seem before. Although it was mad, they have a sort of poise which is difficult to describe. I suppose it's when a band has gelled or something; they just seem to know what they're doing even when they don't. Go and see them, they are brilliant and often when bands get this good they break up!

Jane is going to bring her harmonium round on Bank Holiday Monday and we are going to play Bank Holiday music, which we will make up specially. I like that idea.

Oh yes- I went and played guitar for Rowen Bridler earlier in the day, over to White City. Her songs are very beautiful and mysterious and it took me ages to get into the groove as the song I was playing on has a fantastic drummer on it. I hope I did OK- I did enjoy it, and I am sure that playing guitar for two hours solid is a really good thing to do. By coincidence we had identical hairstyles. And just as I met her at Notting Hill tube, Tessa Pollitt walked up, with her shopping.
Things are going well for the Slits at the moment, but she was concerned as she's looking after a friend's hamster and its cage was broken so she had to glue it together again. Bless.

Above: Teddy-mouse gets laid back after his own fashion, and Petronella spins through the darkness

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Hot Slug

On the way to the shops there was a slug on the pavement, looking rather hot and dry. I don't like slugs at all so I just left it there to shrivel in the sun on the hot concrete.
But it was still there on my way back, neck erect, peering about hopelessly with its eyes on stalks for somewhere cool and damp to crawl to. It had drawn a star-shape on the pavement in slime, as it had tried to head in every direction looking for respite.
I couldn't bear it. I got a leaf from someone's garden and wrapped it up and put it on the soil in the shade.
What a hypocrite: I kill them with horrid poisons when they destroy the garden but I feel for the buggers when they are not in a marauding pack.
Bit like teenagers, I suppose.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Hardest Sock To Throw Away

... is the one I spent days and days knitting on teensy skinny little knitting needles, out of thread-thin wool, and just could not even contemplate knitting its twin; the labour-intensity beat me, and the poor solo sock has moved house with me about eleven times. It's resting next to me now, unaware that it's gonna be binned tomorrow.
I've fed it a last supper of fish'n'chips and strawberries and cream, washed down with dandelion and burdock, followed by a coffee and an After-Eight.
Excuse me while I shed a tear!

Biological Washing Powder and the Search for a Suitable Guitar Case.

This blog was supposed to be about my gigs but I waver and digress, because to me it's become more like a diary: a cross between an appointments diary and a journal.
Every so often, the biological washing powder thing pops into my head, so I will share it with you.
I was at a funeral a few years ago and I met a violinist whose dad had worked with McDad. Her dad had been a scientist and was employed at Port Sunlight by a big washing-powder manufacturer to reassure the public that there was nothing harmful about biological washing powder, and he ran a series of experiments to prove just that.
Unfortunately, he found that the tiny particles of powder that became airborne when the powder was put into the washing machine began to digest the lining of the lungs when they were inhaled; it was impossible to use the powder without particles entering the respiratory system, and probably, even when the clothes had been washed and dried, enzymes could find their way into the lungs of the wearer. He told the manufacturer that their powders were not safe and he was dismissed and his research shelved as it was too inconvenient financially for the company to withdraw its products.
McDad never wanted biological powder in the house and that must have been why.
Meanwhile, after diverting towards science, back to practicality. I have to find a fliight case to take the Green Goddess to France for a little festival of collaboration. I've been looking on the net and they all look gigantic and very ostentatious. It reminds me of going to Berlin in their year of culture with Paul sax player, and getting on a plane with Clock DVA and their computers. We shuffled up with our battered instrument cases and shabby clothes, and they strode up with aluminium computer cases and equipment boxes, dressed head to toe in black and wearing shades, even though it was night-time. They may have looked at us, but you couldn't tell; they certainly didn't smile or anything uncool like that.
At the gig, we played the Loft, the little upstairs venue, and they played the Big Downstairs (can't remember what it was called), with TV cameras on swooping cranes and mega-banks of lights. When we'd finished, we went downstairs to see the Big Goings On, and up trotted Clock DVA, all friendly and sweet. "Our equipment crashed as soon as we got on stage and we couldn't play', they told us.
I think they needed to talk to some prats to make themselves feel comfortable. So we were nice to them for the rest of the evening, and didn't even comment when one of them squeaked in fear when the plane landed at Gatwick with a mighty thump the next day.
What a pity! I have a video of that gig, and in every song we play, either me or Paul makes a cringeingly awful musical mistake. We actually went down quite well, but you wouldn't think so from the tape.

Monday, August 04, 2008


Dammit, I've just got back from the shops and discovered raspberry juice all down my cream coloured coat, my favourite one.
What about the black coat? I brushed past some newly-painted white emulsion in that one.

Yes, it's time to throw that one sock away!

I don't know about you, but I have had a tendency to hang on to single socks for years, in the vain hope that the other one is going to turn up, tucked into a duvet cover or under a jumper in the wrong drawer.
Well, it's not!
Liberate yourself!
Throw away al those miserable solo socks and celebrate the pairs, even if there are less of them and they are full of holes!
Alternatively, twin them with similar socks and enjoy odd-sock delight; just don't let them creep around the chest of drawers pretending their sibling is creeping around too, only in a different direction. They are liars, the lot of them, and should be punished by a journey to Oxfam, where they will be usefully recycled into insulating materials and chair-stuffing, a much better place for them than your bedroom storage furniture.

Sunday, August 03, 2008


Yesterday I went to a perfect wedding. One of my cousins got married to a lovely woman, in a Quaker Meeting House in Oxford. It was packed, and looked like one of those paintings of Dutch interiors; there was a lot of light oak panelling and the sun shone in beams through the windows and through leafy trees in the garden. I had never been to a Quaker meeting before and was intrigued to see what happened. The Quakers I know include my gay foster cousin's partner and Shima from NIgeria who used to board at our house when I was little. He was a Tiv and went to the Meeting House in Jesmond in full tribal gear. We dropped him off and then went to Jesmond Presbyterian Church, McDad wearing his kilt, before picking him up and going home for Sunday lunch.
Anyway, this was the quietest wedding I have ever been to; every so often friends got up and spoke, before we all signed a huge certificate. Nobody was ordering anyone around; a vicar didn't tell the couple what to say- they just said it without being controlled by a Religion and without Pomp and Ceremony. Rather nice, I thought, for a second time around marriage with two people so utterly in love with each other.
Later, we went and scoffed very nice food and caught up with family talk; I sang them Autumn Love (much scarier than a gig, somehow), and then drove home feeling very happy that true love had been celebrated that afternoon.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Seed Cake

Up with the lark this morning (the Magpie, actually, scruffy old thing). I took the car to the MOT centre and it passed with flying colours; when I got home I made a seed cake with caraway seeds in it because I'm going to Joan's for tea. She has made some cakes and we are going to wear dresses and sip tea daintily with our leathery artist's hands clumsily grasping the china.
I wrecked my hands by being a printer- I had ingrained black ink for years round my nails, and the turps and swarfega that I used to try to clean it off with dried my skin to the texture of toilet paper.
McMum and McDad gave me a food blender for my 21st birthday. I was very disappointed because I had wanted a scooter but that's a very expensive thing to want (I have a motorbike now but I'll tell you about that another time!). I used the blender to make paper at art college for printing my etchings on to. When I tried to clean the blender with white spirit, it melted into a very interesting shape that was interesting to look at, but no good for blending in.
I also am living testament to the acid-proof tendencies of Doctor Marten's boots, because I had the same pair for three years and used to splash nitric acid on them regularly (that's what you use to etch on zinc plates) and they never wore out. Eventually, my big toes poked through the front, but I have Scottish feet and any Scotsman will tell you our feet are made of steel, strengthened by a diet of Irn Bru, deep-fried Mars bars and Haggis.