Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dumfries and Galloway

From the sighting of a silly red squirrel charging across the road (what wrong with grass verges, and, er, trees?) on the way over from Edinburgh, I knew it was going to be an interesting and quirlky songwriting weekend.
The Friar's Case Hotel is a beautiful, small and old-fashioned red stone hotel just outside Dumfries, set in lush woodland on the River Nith. Martin, Scott and myself went for a walk to steady our nerves and a huge owl skimmed the lower branches of the trees by the river, almost like an omen of learning and wisom.
At dinner we played a game or two- favourite songwriters, the song we wishes we'd written, that sort of thing. The fifteen songwriters visibly relaxed and we began to laugh together, always a good sign.
The next morning, the workshops began. I was cruel. I got my groups, split into two, tow write songs in half an hour, then play them to the other half, who then had to do a cover version. I strode round, timekeeping in a gently bullying way, and it worked- amazingly enough! I started seeing the people in terms of colour, accidentally pitting two pale blues against three reds: but it seemed to work.
The afternoon was spent wroiting songs for the competition. Luckily, Scott and MArtin were the competitive ones. I suggested to my group the we wrote a spoof publicity song for the Dumfries and Gallowway Tourist Board (is there one?) and we got to work, writing dreadful puns (thanks for your input Liza P!) and cheesey hooks. At one point I dashed out and grabbed a handful of leaflets from the hotel's display to boost our content!
We had a urried rehearsal outside. Where was Steve? We couldn't find him anywhere and decided to go ahead, standing in the grass strumming in a parody of the Sound of Music. we got to the end bit: 'Our Sol-way Firth', where we built up a cheeky barbershop harmony, 'Our-Sol, Our-Sol, Our-Sol...', when bang on cue, Steve came leaping down the slope from behind a bush with his guitar, singing his harmony and co9mpleting the song. Eat yer heart out, Maria Von Trapp!
The evening concert was brilliant- started off by Liz with her hilarious songs, and running through anyone who wanted to sing and play. Alistair played a song of his own comosition for the firat time ever, other played infront of an audience for the first time, Andrew Bailey, the organiser, played and sang his song (bless his cotton socks), and then it was time for the competition.
The three hotel guests were commandeered to become judges. Martin's group went first, singing a gospel song with a preacher section featuring Jim Byrne, and a walkabout; next up with Scott' group, who sang a layered harmony song about inspiration and floating. Then it was our turn with our silly 'Dumfries and FGalloway' song, or 'D and G' as Liz had re-branded it. We pretended that some guys from the tourist board had popped into the hotle for a coffee, heard us playing, and commissioned our song.
All the puns were there: Alan's joke about the weather and the sun ('even Robert Burns') jokes about meeting sheep in the Baa, all that sort of nonsense. But it was a hoot to play.
The judges had fixed themselves, and each song got one vote, until the bar manager leapt into the fray, appearing from the gloom by magic, and voted for 'Dumfries and Galloway'. So we won a million pounds each, of course.
What a mad weekend! It was great, with all sorts of sub-features such as the profiteroles with unintentinally sour cream (following broccoli and stilton soup: maybe the idea will catch on?) and lots of supportive ceativity, questioning of ideas, and laughing.
Naturally, it was knackering, but I can't wait for next year!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Quick Post

I am in the library, typing as fast as I can. I will only be able to blog the Sapphire Club, and the Song Writing weekwnd will have to wait till tomorrow when I will be at work (so long as Offsprog 2 doesn't test positive for Swine Flu this afternoon)
The Sapphire is Lorna Brooks' club at the Guilty Lily in Edinburgh and it's a totally funky gig to play as a performer and to go to as a punter.
The bar is a bit like an oddball theatre in a village hall or something- you eat off wooden tables, surrounded by chaps in sandals and old ladies; the staff are really friendly. Then you go down behind a curtained area to see the bands play. There was a good crowd of listeners, thanks to the clever trick of lining up the seats so people weren't clustered together in gossiping gropups, and it meant that as a performer you could chat to the audience properly and really enjoy playing. Lorna kicked off the night, playing a couple of songs that showed off her lovely voice (creamy chocolate? How do I describe it?) and she was a hard act for me to follow, but after a couple of songs I felt really relaxed and enjoyed it hugely. There was a little break, Lorna played again and the Martin went on and played a hilariously surreal set, making everyone smile,. We did a couple from the album to finish off (Hamilton Square and Sweet Saviour) and were very happy to find a lot of plas to chat to afterwards. Lorna and her partner Mandy are perfect promoters, calm, hospitable and with a vision and I know their club is going to be a success (this was only their second night).
What a difference from the surreally weird behaviour of the Kelevedon hosts
(it's written, but it's hiding for a while!)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

An Exercise in Patience

Hello blog, I am back on a cranky computer at work. You have to shove the keys down with your fist, and put the spaces between the words in later, as it joins them all together.
Everyone will be familiar with my experience yesterday- three hours on the phone, first to Talk Talk (the person couldn't understand a word I was saying and consequently spent about half an hour trying to pass me on to someone else), ten minutes talking to a very rude salesman called Craig at BTinternet who clearly didn't want to sell any more Internet packages yesterday, and two exceptionally nice Asian gentlemen at Netgear who tried their best to help.
Defeated, I went up the road to the library to try their machines (our only Internet cafe has closed down, a recession victim), only to find their machines were broken, due to a virus. Could it be swine flu?

Tomorrow, I'm heading to Edinburgh for a gig at the Sapphire Club (details on my Myspace page) and then to Dumfries for the Song Writing weekend. I believe there is still a place available: look at www.myspace.com/guitarweekends for details. It is in a beautiful place with a river, trees, a nice oddball hotel and great teachers(Martin Stephenson,Scott MacDonald and..er..me), and is lots of fun, all-in for under 300 quid.
That's it for now, I have RSI from walloping the keys of this surly computer keyboard and I'm off to usemy fingersfor what they are meant for- playing me guitar!

Monday, June 22, 2009


Home internet's down (silencesilence, not talktalk) so excuse lack of postings till sorted!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Hamilton Square Launch

We stood at the Sea Shell eating fish'n'chips.. Paul Davey appeared at the other side of the road and we called him into join us before wandering along to the Perseverance; the sound guy David was there, Jim the Fiddle turned up and Daisy, who is the ace merchandise person, followed soon after. We had a rambling soundcheck ( we were a bit tired after assembly and recording with the Song Club in the daytime), and settled down to chat with people as they arrived.
I kicked things off with a short set, joined by Paul for London and Martin for Poetry and Rhyme and Heaven Avenue; then Martin did his short set, putting Jim through his paces. We had a short break (a cake break- yes I did make the cakes but the black writing icing I'd bought to draw music notes on top was too stubborn to come out of its tube and it was a hell of a lot easier to just bung a smartie on the top of each one)
Then it was straight into the CD tracks- I dedicated Loverman to you, Foolish Girl, as you were with us in spirit. It was informal and friendly and warm and just about perfect in terms of playing a gig, as everyone in the audience was smiling and so were we.
Martin sang beautifully and the guys played really well, complementing the songs. A guy in the audience liked Hamilton Square so much he stood up and shouted 'That was the best song of the lot!'; we finished with Sweet Saviour (the first time I have been able to remember the words), and then did the Airship Song as an encore.
What a perfect launch party! Thank you for coming, everyone, and thank you to the family for turning out completely and being such good eggs!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


This is Enfield Caractacus, a stag beetle hero famed for his glossy hide.

Music, Music, Music

We managed a rehearsal in the park yesterday, sitting on huge rough wooden chairs carved out of tree trunks, with two lads who were revising for their accountancy exams under the trees as our audience.
We were worried about disturbing them, but they told us they liked it and they came over for a discreet listen at one point.
Assorted dog-walkers, joggers and skateboarders smiled as they went past and it was cool in the shade, which made it and ideal spot for a harmony and a melody to settle together.
Song Club has made a rough recording- we are performing at Assembly tomorrow, so if the children can manage not to pinch each other for five minutes, we might get there. They are amazing actually and as always they have jumped on board and are roaring along in full energy mode.
I have made some cakes for the launch tomorrow- they were meant to be sweet little things but they are lumpy and mis-shapen and the big heart cake broke into pieces because I made it in an old cake tin and it got stuck. However, i am not superstitious, and as far as the little lumpies are concerned, a spot of creative icing will do the trick. The big broken heart will last for nanoseconds once Offsprog One returns home tomorrow, so all is good.
I went to the dentist today and I didn't even cry!
Fancy that!
So, hope to see you tomorrow at:
The Perseverance, 11 Shroton street, Marylebone
Music starts at 8.30
It's £8.00 to get in
We will have CDs, badges, and... cakes (unless I eat them all first: I've had three already!)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Beady eyed and only coming up to our elbows, the Song Club children run rings around us, with their own little codes of misbehaviour, able to turn each other into quivering jellies with a withering look ('evils') and turning us into exhausted bags of bones and spent muscle by the end of an hour's hard work.
How come I ache so much? I didn't think I had moved. I have nearly lost my voice, and I smell of pencils.

Three boxes of CDs turned up this afternoon (thats three hundred!). It looks fab, but I've been too busy Song Clubbing and re-stocking on the family toothpaste and shampoo to listen yet. The gig's going to be good, we're rehearsing on Thursday evening. The tickets are selling (good idea to get one in advance as it's such a small venue, from wegottickets.com, details on my myspace, www.myspace.com/helenmccookerybook) and I am trying to learn my words, difficult with a brain with so many leaky holes in it.
You will have gathered that I am a physical and mental wreck this evening. I am sitting on one of the cats, who doesn't seem to mind (likes the attention) and looking out of the window at the sunshine. People are walking past, spilling their secrets into their mobile phones in loud voices, as though the magic of the mobile will deafen strangers to their conversations.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Car-and-a-Half, and a Backwards Heron

I drove to Leeds and back today to pick up Offsprog One's stuff.
On the way, I passed a car-and-a-half. Someone had got a Hillman Imp and painted it grey and green, and was towing the back part of another Hillman Imp, painted the same, as a trailer, with a flat bit of metal or fibreglass blocking off the gap where the front bit wasn't.
Extraordinary! Everyone was slowing down to take a look,
Stylish, too.
Later, I was sure I saw heron flying backwards. Of course it wasn't but once you see one strange thing you start expecting loads of them like number 42 buses all coming along at once, doncha?

Saturday, June 13, 2009


One of my cats has learned a miaow that sounds worryingly like late-phase Thatcher- that sort of almost honking, harsh, urgent, assertive and aggressive yarp that means business.
I've told her not to bother: I ignored it back then, and I can ignore it now, too.

Ray's Jazz Shop

I've just got back from Ray's Jazz Shop, where I went to get a CD for Little Bruv's birthday.
I was talking to the Man at the Counter, and asking him if Steve Beresford still books people to play in the cafe at Foyle's- apparently he doesn't any more as nobody got paid for it.
We were talking about the short sets people used to play there- I got there 20 minutes late once and missed the entire thing.
But the Man at the Counter told me that when jazz artists are promoting an album they sometimes play very short sets indeed- Evan Parker played a ten minute set once!

I like Ray's Jazz Shop as it's calm and hasn't got too many CDs. Those it has are unusual.
I am bound to dislike about 75% of them due to my prejudice against most forms of jazz, but those I do like I really, really like.

I have fun imagining what Ray is/was like.
A portly, late middle-aged gentleman, with a jazz beard, horn rimmed spectacles on a chrome bobbly chain and a worn-out Hawaiian shirt, baggy dark brown cords and folksy sandals, with socks with a toe poking out of a hole on one side. His fingers on one hand are yellow from the roll-ups he used to smoke, and his teeth are a little brown from drinking French red wine.
He always has a 78 rpm record in one hand, which he is filing in his collection, and when he remembers to eat, he eats sushi. He is divorced from his wife, who lives in Hampstead and works in a charity shop (family money) and he regularly falls in love with Japanese girls who are not the slightest bit interested in him. He used to play tenor sax rather well, but gave up after a hurtful experience in New York.
Am I right Ray?

You may be interested in why there is no review of the gig last night. It was hilarious in a macabre way, and may crop up on the blog as an anonymous gig later in the year!

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Kelvedon Institute, Tonight

Tonight- the Kelvedon Institute, Kelvedon, Essex!

The Letter 'H'

I was pootling about on Myspace and looking at the McCookerybook page before exploring this morning. Little England started to play just as I left for another artist's page, and all I caught was the quick intake of breath before the work 'Heartbroken'.
I remembered when Helen and the Horns recorded Footsteps At My Door for RCA back in the 1980s. They insisted that Adam Kidron (the producer) and myself went into an editing studio to remove the sharp inhalation from the beginning of sentence 'Here's the place my one-time lover lay....', which began the track
We spent a morning doing this, which was possibly the most let-them-eat-cake-ish moment of my entire life!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Just look at the ground under this Flufftree!
It had covered the whole car park with fluff at the University of the West, and fluff was floating gently around in the air too, and rolling across the tarmac. Inside, it will form tumbleweeds of fluff and tumble down the empty corridors where the students used to be.
There were even bits of fluff up at the roundabout, about 1/4 mile away. Talk about expressing yourself! 'I am fecund', says the tree, 'Most of the year you don't even notice my grey-green leaves and dull bark, but just look at what I can do when I feel like it!'.
I was impressed.

Picture Disc

Amongst the twenty or so Freecycle emails this morning nestled an offer of a Billy Ocean Picture Disc.
Life's essentials, offered for free by email!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Didn't realise- I have a gig supporting Martin on Friday at the Kelvedon Institute in Essex.

Part from that (and I need to rehearse- I have bitten my right-hand nails right off due to some stressful family stuff this week and need to practice blunt finger guitar pickin').....

Today has been OK: up early to meet the Deputy Head at the little school I do Song Club with. It is being closed down and absorbed into a much bigger school miles away from the estate, and the secretary was in tears.
It will be the last ever Song Club, the last little box of boisterous fireworks who spill out their ideas for song lyrics onto gigantic sheets of white paper with coloured felt tips so I can tease and bash them into verses like a pizza-baker with a lump of volatile dough!
It will be sad, the end of a professional era for me, but a new beginning for them, which is what the song will be about.

I think the CD will be ready in time, so very exciting: 300 of them will be delivered here next week to join the badges and the dream of cupcakes for the launch next Friday.
Sometime between now and then we have to have a rehearsal, but suburban life throws up its surreal routines: off to the vet with the cat for his yearly vaccination: 'Miaoooooow' a hundred times in the car in the pouring rain; as I got into the car afterwards, i noticed a dead baby rat on the ground in a puddle, its mouth stretched in a nasty mock-guffaw, its eyes closed in the relief of permanent sleep after a destiny of ratdom was cut short by an unseen assailant.

I found a bag of guilty empty booze bottles in Offsprog One's cupboard, including an empty very expensive bottle of wine I was saving for a special occasion, and was looking for the other day, because the other day was a special occasion.
Offsprog One blamed Offsprog Two, and Offsprog Two blamed Offsprog One in a perfect mirror of innocence.

I wrote a song about failing to become famous.

A gig with Jude Cowan and Kath Tait is brewing, with a special CD, which I think I will write something new and funny for.
We will have a theme, and meet here in suburbia to put our plan into action. Take that, neighbours with twitchy curtains and Daily Mails under your arms!
More lady musicians with personalities and style walking down the street, lowering the property prices and raising the insurance premiums in one fell swoop! Last week it was the Song Circle girls. Will my miss-demeanours never end?

Then I made a cake, with too much vanilla (I'm a vanillaholic) and ate half of it at once while it was still warm, looking out at the rain-sodden garden and listening to the new album by The Bird and The Bee, which is brilliant, and shines even when the sun doesn't.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Meeting Gina for Coffee

On the way to the tube station I walked past the man whose dog bit my leg, who has been taking his dog the long way round since then in order to avoid bumping into me.
'Your dog should be wearing a muzzle', I told him.
'Really?', he said.
'That could have been a child's face!'.
'She likes children...'
Just then, his dog leapt across the pavement and barked wildly, ending with a nasty snarl. It had seen another dog across the road and almost pulled him over there with it.
'... but she doesn't like dogs'.
I explained to him that I know once a dog exhibits uncontrollable tendencies, it is time for it to wear a muzzle. The dog is clearly stronger than him- it was on a lead when he allowed it to lunge at me and bite me.

We met in the Wolseley, a beautiful Poirot-type building, with tiled floor, old-fashioned aproned staff and a strange clientele: partly stiffly-clad business types who might as well be anywhere such is their lack of interest in their environment, partly day-trippers both National and International, and partly funky types. I have seen Carol Vorderman there with her mummy (bless! bet you didn't think she had one!). And of course, us, and people like us, special occasion types.
We were having a sort of research/business meeting, a very positive one, and afterwards we wafted through Bond Street marvelling at the prices of Alexander McQueen's clothes (a ton-and-a-half for a belt), up to John Lewis's haberdashery where I replaced my embroidery cottons, into Top Shop to browse (Gina: Kate Moss, me: Mikey sparkly earrings), and then goodbye at the tube station.
On the way back as I sat on the tube, a man sat perusing the details of my house-for-sale on a stationary tube on the other line.
Isn't that strange?

Monday, June 08, 2009


I thought I might find some magic in the attic yesterday, but I didn't: just dust.


After searching the whole house, including the loft, I finally have to come to terms with the fact that I have lost my embroidery stuff.
I am planning to animate an embroidery while I am doing it- this was the plan last summer and I never did it, so I thought I'd do it now.
What a pain, to look so far and wide and deep. It has either accidentally moved out with a former resident, or possibly gone off to the charity shop by mistake in a carrier bag left by the front door.
Who knows?
It was an old pale blue vinyl Chipie skate bag, with a transfer of three over-coloured children on it, and it was full to brimming with embroidery hoops, my youngest offsprog's first embroidery of beautifully clumsy and colourful animals, spare canvas and a little tin I was given full of toffees when I was twelve with a picture (again in garish colours) of a twee little girl in a hairband, and a canary.
There were stranded cottons in many shades of pink and brown and grey and white (I wanted the embroidery to look like an old photograph), and a random collection of needles.
It was a complete nuisance until it was in use, when it was a source of excitement and imagination, frustrating to lose when I have the time and motivation to get started!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Aliens Have Landed, Or Could It Be A Modern Light Fitting?

Politics and Education

Who can it be? A group of bitter bankers? Oligarchs from afar? UKIP?
All this stuff about MPs and their greedy troughings must have been floating around for years. Who decided to pay for the 'security expert' to tout it around to the Tory press just at the point that the recession started to bite?
Someone is trying to destabilise democracy in Britain and let the nasties in, to put people off voting so only those with extreme views get into powerful positions.
First Thatcher and then Blair made the position of Prime Minister undemocratically powerful. I know this from the horse's mouth because I used to have a job that involved taking politicians from emerging democracies round the House of Commons.
The MPs and councillors I took round were horrified by the House of Lords and baffled by the tradition of Black Rod; they were impressed by the debate in the House of Commons and the fact that you are allowed to go and watch. They were an intriguing lot: one, from Serbia I think, had rather a lot of other financial agendas going on. The guy from Croatia was a radiologist who had not been allowed to practice under Communist rule and wanted to visit a doctor he admired in Hammersmith. The Hungarian took off his Communist Party badge on the plane in case people gave him flak.
It was very interesting. I learned that people enter politics for a lot of different reasons; we should not say 'they're all the same'.
It is a very difficult job, almost impossible to get through with any grace and self-respect. I imagine it to be similar to teaching, where there are constant extremes of aggression and gratitude, and a set of rules that mean that you have very strong guidance about what to do and what not to do, while at the same time knowing that your personality and individuality of style will make a huge difference to the quality of work that you do.
The bottom line is that these jobs are about public service; you are paid by society and trusted to develop and use a particular sort of expertise to benefit the people who pay you to be there.
The pay is not good, and the stress is endless, but you are a small part of a very interesting machine!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Goose Observations, and Shouting

Offsprog Two has finished her exams for this week- seven already, and it's only Thursday. They are all round, the friends, perfuming and sparkling. They are SHOUTING because they are all VERY EXCOYTED!!!!

They didn't hear me pulling the old laundry basket off the top of the wardrobe, under the impression I could take its weight.
CRASH! A million cassettes fell out, slipping out of their hard clear plastic cases and slithering around all over the place. A fine layer of sneezy dust fluffed up and filled the room.
I sat in the middle of them all, stacking them and investigating. The Chefs live at Basildon! I remember that one, talking to a woman with long blonde hair who called herself a dwarf-lady, and who was dripping in gold jewellery she had bought from her earnings as a film star. There was a live tape from a South London venue where we played with a band called Talkover, a rambling reggae outfit who did a great song called 'Short Time Living and a Long Time Dead'. There were songs I'd forgotten I'd ever recorded, and piles of old computer disks with Akai samples on them; there were videos of programmes I did the music for, and some dusty slides of ancient artwork.
It's all tidy now. I took the laundry basket into the yard and hosed off years of grime; there was a tiny yellow Airfix galloping horse tangled in its woven willow side. I am very grubby, and have been doing other messy jobs while I'm at it- piling up old books to go to Oxfam and cleaning the shelves.

And thinking about cakes: could I make little cakes with guitars on top for the Hamilton Square launch? I liked those cakes at the poetry club and Jamie had cakes at the Union Chapel gig too. They are obviously de rigeur, aren't they?

Before I go, I must tell you about the goslings at Enfield. I took a picture of them but you can't see what's going on in that so I'll tell you instead.
Their mum took them to the fountain in the park for a drink, about seven of them, and they all lined up round the side, dippled their beaks in the water and then stretched their necks up and poked their beaks at the sky, smacking their beaky little lips as the water trickled down their scaly throats, which you could see glugging and gulping as they swallowed.
It was really funny, as it looked like an activity that should be synchronised, but they were all slightly out of synch with each other. When they had finished, Mummy Goose took them back to the grass and they all sat down and had a corned beef and beetroot sandwich... oops sorry got a bit carried away there!

The shouting is beginning to make its way down the stairs so I'd better go.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Y Tuesday Poetry Club

Upstairs at the Three Kings in Clerkenwell there is a teeny room stuffed with comfortable chairs, coffee tables and a juke box, with hardly any room for people. There are fairy lights, funky pictures and double windows opening onto a balcony, also with hardly any room for people. The Y tuesday Poetry club happens on the first Tuesday of every month.
My companion and myself walked up the stairs and settled down to watch; a music stand stood ready; the tables held clusters of fairy cakes with candles and strips of paper with quotations; interesting looking people squashed together on the chairs, some scribbling on sheets of paper, others just smiling comfortably.
Burgess the Rhymer has had his hair cut. His accomplice was a comely lass from Durham, sporting bright ginger hair, a huge wide-brimmed hat and a low cut chiffon top, all held together by a wide and happy grin.
She was the mistress of ceremonies, and told us she'd divided the evening into three halves.
First up, a solid little chap with half-moon glasses settled himself behind the music stand; he bore the air of a character from The Wind in the Willows. Most of his poetry involved blood; the last one concerned birth, the theme of the evening. He looked at us over his spectacles to make sure we were paying attention. We were.
Next, a serious man with an Eastern-European accent got up. He was tall and like a diplomat. His voice was husky and dramatic, and a tiny trickle of perspiration gradually made its way down his face as he spoke. His poems were dark and eloquent, describing complex relationships. The last one had a little bit of humour, and he declaimed it with a wry smile from time to time. You could close your eyes and just enjoy the words without even thinking of the meaning.
Next, a bright woman from Lancashire got up. Her words were sharp and colourful, and her birth poem had been written on the bus on the way there. 'I wiped it off afterwards', she laughed. Her partner and herself had thought about having a baby, tried and failed. So they planned a World Trip. At that moment, 'These old blocks produced a chip!'.
A sleek dark-haired and dimpled woman was next. She had never read her poetry live before. She had a strong, clear English voice and her imagery was similarly clear and defined; she seemed confident and delicate at the same time.
How interesting it was! Each poet only read a few poems but the entire atmosphere of the room changed with each voice and vocabulary!
A young man in a stylish charity shop shirt was next: in his best poem, a letter writer went from signing off with one ambiguous little kiss to a whole tangle 'like barbed wire' in the space of a few weeks. He seemed to have been pursued rather a lot by charming and persistent young women, one of whom managed to break into his flat in order to kiss him.
The it was my turn: I sang Two Little Girls and Me as my birth song, then Three Maple Men and Little England. It was so nice to play to such a compact and quiet audience who were listening instead of guzzling booze at the bar and whispering more and more loudly as their idea of what constituted a whisper became distorted by the alcohol!
There were more... a man told us about his grandfather, more, more.
We came away awed at the power of words

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Square Badges, Hamilton

How exciting! Here's a muzzy photo of the Hamilton Square badges that turned up yesterday... I have just approved the artwork... will the CDs be ready in time for the launch? I believe so...

Monday, June 01, 2009

Day From Mars

Every so often, you have a surreal day...
The Song Circle met early morning: Katy turned up in the most enormous red and pink sunhat and fuorescent yellow mac; Nadya came in a fetching black sun visor and massively high platforms; Rowen came with a huge red flower in her hair.
Me? I was wearing a Westwoodesque silk shirt, worried by Offsprog One's plan to take me to a hippy cafe in the afternoon in Leeds.
Anyway- it was an emotional Song Circle morning, but a good one- we laughed and we cried. The others went off to the park and I went off to the tube station, heading for Leeds.
On the train sat a slender man in short black shorts and black vest, suntanned arms and legs and celtic tattoo, with sunglasses and an iPod, gazing about him in that blank way sunglass-wearers have. He suddenly reached into his expensive leather bag and got out a black leather roll, which he unrolled on his lap, to reveal a barrage of the most expensive looking paintbrushes I have ever seen- some of them had white and black fur (badger?) and were fluffy, some of them were a rich brown (sable?) and sleek, all shapes and sizes and all brand new. There must have been more than fifty of them. How weird! There was something sinister about the way he displayed them on his lap in such a way, all splayed out and pointing at the passengers on the train. Then a man got on with a large double bass in a padded case. Then a woman got on and sat beside me and opened a little book with squared pages. There were tidy notes in the book, and the top one said 'square rings'.
On the way to Leeds I marked three labour-intensive dissertations, one with excruciatingly long sentences taking half a page each so by the time you got to the end of them you had forgotten how they started, and one by a very intelligent person who had no grasp of writing in the English language, but I could tell what they meant, and it was very clever. How do you mark that?
In Leeds, I visited Offsprog One's art exhibition, and I thought she was brilliant, but I would say that, wouldn't I? She had made a hand out of melted wax crayons, and the fingers were turning into crayons.
On the way back, the ticket barrier spat my ticket back out at me, contemptuously. I feebly went to the station man and he let me through with a hiss of disgust. As I got on the train I noticed I had bought a ticket for the first of August by accident and hoped the ticket inspector wouldn't come round. No such luck! He spent almost half an hour admonishing a woman a few rows away who had lost her ticket, and told her to get off the train at Doncaster and get two hundred pounds out of the cashpoint to buy another one for her and her daughter. Oops! So I handed him my ticket and I think he knew I had the wrong one, but he had blown himself out by then, and he just clipped it and moved on.
Phew! That was close.
As I walked down our street, I noticed a lumbering shape by the fence. It was a little hedgehog, who rolled up and then unrolled to see what I was doing. I was taking a photograph of it, of course, which I will put here tomorrow.