Sunday, November 14, 2010


Friday was an oddity of a day.
At work, I got a text from the lecturer who was intended to talk to my students that morning to tell me that she was stuck in a never-ending traffic jam, so I had to wing it and do the lecture myself.
I grabbed a copy of Suburban Pastoral and a CD player, and talked them through Heaven Avenue, Songbird and Don't Know Why as sound productions before they went off to their song writing workshops. Two of the students asked to buy copies of the CD (unprecedented!) so I gave them half price copies as it seemed morally dodgy to be marketing my music to them in a lecture, even if it wasn't pre-planned!
They are in groups writing songs, which they will soon start to record, and the morning was spent visiting their rehearsals and giving feedback.
At 1 p.m. I climbed into the McCookmobile and sped up to Stansted, fielding calls when I got there about the song writing competition at the other University, where yet more students have disobeyed the rules and tried to sneak into the competition. A guy did just that three years ago, and I got egg all over my face because of it (the competition organisers withdrew him and I had to take the blame), so I actually got quite angry that people are trying it on again.
One of the members of the internal University judging panel is upset because a very good and interesting lesbian rock band has not got through; but five years ago, I took The Irrepressibles all the way up to Liverpool for the final and they won not a cent, so I know that the organisers of the competition are looking for 'safe' sounds and 'safe' performers and I will not enter a group, no matter how good, who will have the bad experience of being rejected by a mainstream competition.
It's just not fair on them.

Dazed by work, I disembarked at Dublin airport to be met by a taxi driver bearing a laminated card with 'Ms McCookerybook' written on it. The taxi was posh with aircraft seats in cream velveteen and I started to feel a bit like a pop star. We wound our way through Dublin's rush hour to Whelan's and arrived just as The Daintees were finishing their sound check, so I nabbed Martin's Yiari and played a quick Love on the Wind to learn the shape of the guitar neck (quite different to mine) before nabbing him and going for tea in the caff next door.
The gig had been really well publicised and was jammed to the rafters ( a week ago Martin had been flown over to do some pre-publicity). The support band, the Gandhis, were a four-piece who were all good singers. Their songs harked back to The Beatles but twisted into odd directions that gave them an original slant. My favourite one was actually sung by the drummer; all four group members were singers.
I played for about twenty minutes and Martin came up to join me for Heaven Avenue and Loverman. The crowd were lovely and shushed the talkers at the bar (well, it was Saturday night in Dublin) and I felt very happy with the way my set was received.
The Daintees bounded on next, with Kate Stephenson on drums, John Steele on guitar and Lou Short on bass. Martin was on top form and the band rocked; the audience were in seventh heaven. All the way through the set, the guys pulled different things out of the bag that kept the energy at an amazing level for two solid hours. There were some great harmonies in Running Water, and everyone sang along to Rain like I'd never heard before.
Somehow on the way out we lost each other and I ended up in the vice-like grip of a young woman who wouldn't let me go. She clamped her arms around me and even though I tried to duck down to wriggle free, I actually had to fight her to get out! Even when I managed that she grabbed my hips and tried to drag me backwards. Scary!
Next morning we all piled into the caff for breakfast and had a right larf. All of the various line-ups of The Daintees are very good company and an absolute joy to do gigs with.

So here I am, back down to earth, with fifty study skills essays to mark and a tired face. No wonder I've written a long posting!
Anything to avoid the essays.... shall I put the kettle on?

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