Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Glug Glug Glug

I feel as though I am drowning in work at the moment: this morning saw a 50 mile round trip to the University of the East to drop off three sheets of paper, applications that I am not allowed to sign so they have to go in someone else's in-tray.
On Thursday, I will travel to Liverpool for the day to examine someone's MPhil, and during all this I am still trying to get my expenses back for a trip to Scotland to be an external examiner for a course up there.
All this, and I earn less than a tube driver.
Think of some good things... think of some good things...
Martin has cleaned, polished and re-strung my Hofner bass (the one I used to play in The Chefs) which now looks bonny and beautiful.
I am going to interview Viv Albertine this afternoon for the paperback version of my book. I have had no luck in my search for Lesley Woods, Jane Munro or the women from Delta 5. This is a shame, because without them the book will be rather focused on the south of England. It would be nice to balance the book  (ha ha).
I finished the drawing for Roberto Cassani's CD and Martin is doing some lettering for it.
I completed two songs yesterday and have discovered that the iPhone that I got when I renewed my phone contract last week has a very good quality microphone.
I had the piano tuned yesterday and it sounds lovely when Offsprog 2 plays her pieces.
More good things than bad things I think!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thrilling Twillings

It's Song Circle tomorrow, and for the first time, I have had no inspiration. Our subject this time has been football, and I have written so many songs about football with kids that I just couldn't take myself away from that scenario. So I am going to cheat and take my uke and play Baked Alaska, which was the last song but one I wrote.

Nadya had her 'I'm a Doctor now' dinner last night at a lovely vegetarian Indian restaurant in Chapel Market in Islington. I gave her a dolls-house grocery set in a little basket, which I thought might come in useful.
Steve Beresford was there, and he mentioned the fact that he was constantly disappointed by not meeting a ladies' ukelele band on a train like the one in Some Like it Hot.
'Aha', I said, The Gluts busked on the climate-change train on the way to Copenhagen, which Gina captured on film to prove it.
He smiled, enigmatically.
We chatted... we talked about concertinas with a woman called Claire who works at the V&A; she was shocked at the price; we talked about accordions and I told them how I'd bought two, thinking I could sell them on eBay and then discovering that they are worth practically nothing, so I paid for some studio time with one and kept the other to maybe fix up some time when I can get to Allodi, the accordion specialists in Hither Green.
We talked about the accordion shop on the Kilburn High Road and I told them about taking the metronome back to Blanks Music Shop (actually run by a Mr Blank, according to Andy Warren from the Monochrome Set, who may have been pulling my leg), because it didn't keep time.
Steve is a Proper Musician and wondered what had been wrong with the metronome.
It was me, Steve: I couldn't keep time, having just learned to play guitar, and Mr Blank and his sons, the Blankets, roared with laughter at me, and I blushed with a terrible shame that is with me to this day.

Last time I saw Steve was at the University of the West. I told him how I thought of my colleagues there, whose replies followed an interesting format.
You know, you pass them in the coffee queue and ask 'How are you doing?'
Steve, the past: 'I played at a really nice venue last night...'
Mykaell Riley, the present: 'I'm working on a big project at the moment...'
Shirley Thompson, the future: 'I'm going to be writing a symphony for....'
Past, present and future.
There must be some sort of psychology there.

And I have noticed I'm teaching a group of students who habitually answer a different question to the one I have asked.
'What's your name?' 'I have written two songs this week'.
'What is your song about?' 'I am using the piano instead of the guitar'.

How can you tell it's Sunday night? I'm clearing out the dust from the crevices of my head.....

Martin has made a beautiful book for his Buck Easley music project. He's designed it himself, using his lyrics and my illustrations. We are proof-reading it together, by email. I am really enjoying venturing into illustration again, and I've started designing characters for the Medea comic.

Today, Offsprog One's birthday celebration: chocolate cake and pineapple upside-down cake, relatives bearing Easter Eggs (no grudges).
I had bought her a gigantic black mixing bowl and a silly gingham pinny with a cheery hen on it, amongst other things.

Time to hit snoreland, I think.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Scanner Joy

I wearied of negotiating with a snarling teenager to use the scanner I bought a while ago, and that now lives in her lair.
'Ha', I said, and tossed my blonde hair attractively, looking askance with my violet-blue eyes, their long lashes fluttering in the warm breeze.
I drew on my silken robe and slipped my tiny feet into my crystal driving shoes, picking up the keys of the Bentley from the key-room next to the Georgian parlour with its original cornicing and shutters.
I roared up the North Circular, scattering scrawny chickens and spotty male teenage drivers in souped-up Escorts in my wake, heading for the Church of John Lewis, where the middle classes congregate and worship.
There, I traded a small rectangle of stiff plastic for a shiny new scanner in a huge box (so it looked as though I had bought something much, much bigger!!!), and roared back home to plug it in.
The servants were on their annual holiday in Broadstairs, but after reading the complex instructions I soon heard the exciting sound of technology grunting, and Saw the Light of bright function.
Alas, after placing Roberto Cassani's illustration on the flatbed, the Computer Said No, and I was forced to call the 5-pence-a-minute Hewlett Packard unhelpfulline.
It took 5 minutes to get through , and a faraway voice from a faraway place took a minute to say each sentence, costing me 45 pence just to say 'hello'.
While I was delighted to hear that the faraway person had a name, it took 35 seconds for them to tell me (two and a half pence), and after they had left me on hold for another five minutes because they didn't understand Mac computers (25 pence) I realised I was being taken for a ride, and hung up.
It's a jolly good job I am a millionaire, and also that I have so much spare time to visit the Church of John Lewis, not only to buy the faulty equipment, but also to take it back!
Why, if I had two jobs and an Offsprog to take care of, life might seem a tad difficult.
Excuse me, the butler is running my bubble-bath before he polishes my gold bars; after that, I'm off to Harrods in the Roller to buy a bag of crisps.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


It costs 30 pence to relieve yourself at Liverpool Street Station nowadays.
I intend to spend my entire week's pay one week and see how many (or how few) times I can 'go'.

At London Bridge Station, a croissant costs £1.49.
I asked the guy behind the till if they contained gold dust. He laughed, as though I was joking.

A poor French Horn in the second hand shop on Holloway Road had no mouthpiece.
All that potential to make a din, and no chance of doing it!

Brick Lane is full of greedy pin-striped bankers, soaking up the vibe and eyeing up the property.
Soon it will be bland, bland, bland, steamrollered under the weight of ill-gotten gains, a Costa on every corner, a Starbucks on every street, a Cafe Nero in every neighbourhood and Gilbert and George wincing down Fournier Street, trumped by the very guys they have been parodying for so many years.

Last week, I vowed never again to buy any second hand clothes.
My room smells like Oxfam, even though it is full of vintage treasure.
However, I have never before bought so may second hand clothes in such a short space of time!
This week, I shall make the opposite resolution.

I have just finished reading Just Kids, Patti Smith's book about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe.
It is touching, honest and full of poetic moments, and one of the best descriptions of pure love that I've ever come across.

I'm On At 9.30

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Acton Bell's Night

I ma playing a set at Acton Bell's Musical Variety Night at the Perseverance, 11, Shroton Street, Marylebone, tomorrow (25th)
Her nights are always veryspecial and I'm looking forward to it!

Viv Albertine's EP

I am listening to Viv's EP, which has four tracks and two vids on it.
The first track, Never Come, was a surprise straight away because I expected her to sound like her live self, and this is a full production job.
These songs still have that capability to make me laugh out loud- Viv doesn't make jokes, but she has the ability to wrap up all those young feelings you never lose, all the simplicity of being hurt, and hoping, and getting annoyed, and wishing...
Oddly, it's a relief to listen to this; it's all right to cast off all the pretendy layers that you cover yourself with in order to be an adult and a woman, and shout yourself back to childhood.
I get an excited feeling in the pit of my stomach. Yes! I still want to climb trees and run along the tops of high walls as fast as I can, and I still want to boil up rhubarb soup in McDad's old oil pan in the smoke of a home-made bonfire! I want dirt under my fingernails and dust in my hair! I want to wear my brothers cast-off Levis and a pair of sandals with the toes cut out of them to accommodate my child feet that are growing alarmingly fast like courgettes in the night-time vegetable patch!
Viv doesn't care about what people think she should think. She thinks just what she wants to think, in an angry way because life has hurt her, but she builds a beautiful and poetic nest of scratchy guitar and chanting choruses to protect herself, and in the process sounds as fresh as the morning sea and as strong as a stormy wind.
I love the way she almost slips into speech while she is singing, reminding us that she is a real person and always has been, and not a Britney or a Kate Bush. You can tell what she brought to The Slits, and this is intriguing.
Being a guitarist, of course, I wanted to tear away the other instruments and hear just her and her guitar. I have said this before- she's a brilliant guitarist with a unique style and she ties in the way she sings with the way she plays in that spontaneous way the old blues guys used to.
You Go Girl Viv!!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


My friend Lucy told me she'd been picked off the street to pose in one of those teenage photo-love stories.
I was a bit jealous, until she told me they had to actually say the words in the speech-bubble while they were being photographed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lazius Interruptus

Yes, well, on Saturday night I'd thought I would be sitting watching Wallander, that slow and beige detective show with the slow and beige Kenneth Branagh squeezing onion-tears from beneath his sandy brow.
Offsprog 2 had other plans. With Offsprog 1, she had gone to The Garage at Highbury Corner to see her father play in a reunited-for-the-night King Kurt.
 All had become too much, and I got a call to go and collect her, so in my striped pyjamas and a pair of hiking boots and I southwards, through the plethora of large, posh and drunken cars reversing out of one way streets in Whetstone, the small, drunken and beat-up cars doing U'ies in Finchley, the police and ambulance sirens of the Holloway Road and finally, the shouting and drunken young people outside The Garage.
I did get my rest yesterday (resterday?) with Martin, and I'm back at my computer today, wondering at the quantity of Myspace plays I've been getting- 164 today! Has the opposite happened: are they overcalculating? I have never had this many before! It's terribly exciting.
And I have just heard that the book is going to come out in paperback at last. I do so want to find the Au Pairs and Delta 5 and will be applying myself to finding them this week, and contacting Poly to ask her about songwriting in X-Ray Spex.
I have also been asked to contact the Chefs about doing some songs in October. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Oldies, and why I am so tired tonight

I have put a whole load of oldies on my Myspace.
The night at Cafe Oto was fabulous- a mixture of environmental films and photographs and three helpings of The Gluts: the place was packed. Some of the speakers were a little heavy on the shouting-agitprop-man stuff, but there was a lovely little film about the police raid on the bicycle activists at the Copenhagen conference.
Hayley's other band, the Dollies, were cheerleading out front with pom-poms made of frilly lettuce, and The Gluts themselves were hilarious. It's the ad libs... I loved the cruel chef joke (he beats the fish and batters the eggs) and the good humour that radiates from the stage. All sorts of people had turned up: Akiko was there with her Bunnies, Val was there with her pen and notebook, Judith was there at a table across the way; there were people making instant fanzines and films, and James from Temperatures was working there, and I haven't seen him for ages.
I was desperately reciting the words in my head the whole way through and half dreading, half excited about my bit, talking away to people with the words tumbling through my brain at the same time.
It went fine though- it was wobbly and yes, I forgot the words of the last verse, but I really enjoyed it.
I am pretty sure I got quite a lot of the chords wrong but not enough to stop a chap in a white beard and a black hat coming up and asking if he could have the words of the song so he could play it (later Gina told me he was from the Swell Maps). I accidentally banged the uke on its mike a couple of times and grinned like a maniac: but isn't that what Friday night is all about?
Thank you Gluts for the invitation to play with you, I was greatly honoured to be an honorary Glut for the night!
Nope, no party.
Solitude is delicious.
Just me
And a cupatea.

Unbelievably...*ckered... so much to say, so little energy to say it... yet still I can't resist a party... may post later on, as I shall be home way before my coach turns into a pumpkin!

Friday, March 19, 2010

With The Gluts at Cafe Oto

Of course, I got off at the wrong bus stop; I was away from my manor, and East London is an exciting mystery, even under the stress of thinking one is going to be late.
I bought an A-Z from a kindly gentleman in a wunderkammer store, and charged through Richmond Road, north of London Fields, to Kaff's warehouse, toting my ukelele and some lyrics.
The Gluts have asked me to guest with them tonight at Cafe Oto in Hackney, and I had an hour to teach them the Baked Alaska song and learn it myself.
I thought it would be nice to debut the ukelele Gina bought me a couple of years ago when I learned some of her songs to play at the Stella Vine exhibition that land of many one-way streets, Oxford, and had worked out some chords.
New pain, to play uke; it's not the same as guitar-agony because the whole instrument is a different shape and size and you have to hold it up too. Oh, I'm being silly! It's as light as a feather... but you do have to scrunch your fingers up, exactly the opposite of what you do to play guitar.
The Gluts themselves were spread around Kaff's apartment, relaxed and smiling, and within minutes we were almost there (what good singers they are!) after they'd finished a song about Arctic Rolls, which had an endearing camel-like rhythm and vocal layering reminiscent of Anglican psalms.
So I'm actually looking forward to tonight.
At 3 o'clock this morning I remembered I am supposed to paint a wooden spoon black to thread through my hair, and went downstairs to get one out to leave on the side for this morning.
Alas, they were all covered in tomato paste from various cooking exploits (has Offsprog 2 been playing Macbeth witches with her pals at dinnertime?), so I've given them a scrub and I'll do that when I get back from work.
So tatty-bye for now: come to Cafe Oto if you can, as they are very funny.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You've GOT To See This Exhibition

Tweetly-derr! Tweetly-derr! Tweetly-derr! tweetle the finches, dressed in neat grey livery, with brown and white spotty sides, black and white striped tails and bright red beaks.
In their minds, they are trumpeting a magnificent fanfare, but all we sorry humans hear is silly squeezy-toy squeaks.

I had taken a break from immersion in a funding application to do another part of my job- visiting students at their workplaces where they were doing placements. One was at a studio in Old Street, the other in Brixton, and between the two I treated myself to a lunchtime visit to Celeste Boursier-Mougenot's exhibition at the Barbican. It's free, and you Must Go.

A selection of guitars and basses are set flat approximately 3 feet from the ground, plugged into amplifiers; a flock of tiny and uncomprehending finches flutter about, having conflabs in groups on the floor, perching on levers, and peering in curiosity at volume knobs.
One inserts a twig hopefully between the strings of a bass.
Was that a 'C' chord I heard? Hopping down the neck, a little bird almost manages to play the beginning of Rock and Roll Music by Chuck Berry. There is a small dropping at the 6th fret.
Here and there, seeds are irreverently piled in upturned cymbals.

'Peep!', exclaims a bird as three of them inadvertently play a complex jazz chord high up the neck of a Gibson. Preening and drilling its beak on a wound-metal E-string, it elicits a dark and sinister drone.
Eat yer heart out , Stooges!
All over the gallery, strange and random guitar sounds emerge, all created by the finches as they potter about birdily.
Here, two of the little mites are carefully building a nest out of ornamental grass and fluff between the bridge and pickup of a bass, oblivious to the interesting twangly sound they are creating.
The jack plugs poking out of the sockets of each guitar and connecting them to the amplifiers at the sides of the gallery make perfect perching-places for the smart wee chaps to glance quizzically up at the humans above, wondering what on earth it is they find so interesting.
Scurrying up and down the fretboards on their spindly red feet, they are foley artists for their own accidental performance, busy being birds in birdworld and bringing a smile to the faces of the clumsy punters who find it difficult to leave this extraordinarily imaginative exhibition whose combination of charm and invention is totally unique.
It's free, it's on Level G at the Barbican, and it's on till May.
If you can't go, I believe there is some footage on Youtube that has been garnering rather a lot of hits!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pauline Black

One of my favourite gigs back then was The Selecter and The Specials: I particularly liked The Selecter, who bounced around the stage with a fresh and exciting energy, a positive and vibrant band.
Pauline Black was a fantastic front woman and I loved her sartorial style too.
There are about four days left to listen to this, Pauline's take on the late 70s and women musicians.
One of the best bits is Jean Jacques Burnel from the Stranglers trying to re-write a history in which his band of stupid *rseholes weren't a boring load of sexists jumping on the punk bandwagon!
I also like the Viv Albertine comments; she is an original punk band member who has resurfaced as an original solo performer. Very interesting.
I hope to interview Pauline if I get to do a paperback version of the book.

Second Instalment of F-word Article

Caz Blase's second instalment is up on the net!


Rushing down by car to the University of the East, I noticed I was almost out of petrol, and I pulled in to a station just off the cold and dusty North Circular. Within seconds of opening the fuel cap, there was a queue of young men in cars, beeping their horns with testosterone-fuelled impatience.
I tried not to care, in my new cool, calm and collected persona, but as I closed the car door after getting out my purse to pay, I neglected to notice that my face was in the way when I slammed the door.

Suppose I was lucky it wasn't my eye; but I've got an egg-shaped purple bump on my cheek and

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Tollbooth, Stirling

Darling, I bought a starling in Stirling...
After an unfeasibly early start and a seven and a half hour journey, I rolled up in Stirling to be met by Martin at the station.
Stirling on a Saturday afternoon resembles Delhi, or at least the Delhi you see on the telhi (ha ha!); cars point in different directions, trying fruitlessly to manouevre themselves into impossible places, and people spill across the streets in front of, behind and between them, anywhere they can get run over, really.
But in Stirling it is spring already. The sun was warm and the sky was blue, which was probably why so many people were hanging out in the street enjoying being outside.

The Tollbooth is up a steep hill; we puffed up it, joined by Fin McCardle the legendary percussionist.
It used to be the magistrate's court, which is funny after doing a broadcast from an ex-police station on Thursday.
The promoter, Ian, is a proper promoter: in the dressing room was a large quantity of piping hot mushroom stroganoff and rice, bread, salad, choccy bickies, fruit, crisps, various liquids. So I felt like a proper musician. Fie on you London venues with your no-pay attitudes!
The sound checks were proper too. It is an arts centre with proper lights, proper acoustics and a wooden floor- a bit like the Stratford Circus room, actually. You could hear pins drop, hearts beating, farts forming and clothes rustling, so it was going to be either a very good gig or a very bad one.
The two Dunn brothers arrived, cheerful and cheeky and I abandoned my planned 'I feel sorry for myself because I'm tired' routine and just joined in. I feel like one of the family with The Daintees. They are so welcoming and so funny.
Just before going-on time, the Djay Buddha appeared, and I took this to be a good omen.

I thoroughly enjoyed playing, even after an unfortunate double-entendre about plugging my lead in the right hole and a couple of mistakes in a slightly rusty Temptation. The crowd started laughing at the idea of the Daisies song before I even sang it, which was a good sign, and Martin came on for Heaven Avenue and Loverman to add a bit of polish and sparkle. It's amazing to be given so much help by the quality of the acoustics and a good sound engineer.

The Daintees were brilliant. I said to Gary afterwards that it was a bit like watching a different band doing cover versions of Daintees songs because the sound was so crystal-clear. There was none of that rock-venue mush that obscures little interactions and sound detail, and no crowd chatting, so the songs sounded as clear as a bell and for me as a musician it was really interesting to hear how the parts all interlocked together.
Martin was on form, demonstrating a foot-pedal dance that he claimed came from watching Simple Minds' guitarist who had a massive array of foot pedals that covered half the stage and tripped forward every so often to switch one on or off with a pointy toe. He had the audience in stitches.
Roberto Cassani came on halfway through at Martin's invitation to play a saucy song about putting yer best knickers on and going into town, and one of Martin's pals played harmonica on one song too.
We did Sweet Saviour, and as usual I forgot the first verse and Martin forgot the second one after making a fuss because I forgot the first one. Every time we do this, we say 'we must learn the song properly' and then don't!
He told the story of the Daintees driving down from Newcastle, stopping to pick some magic mushrooms and turning up at Camden's Dingwalls to support The Smiths. Finding the dressing room inexplicably full of daffodils and no Smiths around, they decided to float all the daffodils down the Regent's Canal, much to Morrissey's fury when he came back. I think he had to have tulips from the local florist's in his back pocket that night.

It was a night for Daintees fans and the guys did all the songs justice. Highlights were Boat to Bolivia and that one about Thatcher that I can't remember the name of but it's got a really good bass riff at the beginning. Martin also played Solomon solo and I really like that one.
The audience absolutely loved them and it was a lovely gig to play. In turn, they were a fab audience, all ears and smiles, and I do hope Ian puts the gig on again next year. He used to like Helen and the Horns so perhaps if I dig out a vinyl album to send him, that will be a suitable bribe!

The pics are from the mad dash from Glasgow Central to Glasgow Queen street to catch the Stirling train. Glasgow was full of madness: this man had an ankle length red tartan coat, a kilt and spats; he was weaving in and out of the crowd which is why you can only see half of him. The man in the foreground, who incidentally stared at Mr Redcoat as though he was mad, is also wearing a kilt, but teamed with a black leather biker's jacket, and as you can see, he's making a mobile phone call, possibly telling his pal how stupid Mr Redcoat looks.
Round the corner, a large group of people in purple tartan were doing a busking Scottish dancing display with squealing bagpipes, and large men with red necks (quite liderally) and ginger crew-cuts were wandering around in nylon football-supporters shirts and kilts, toting cans o' lager.
At Queen Street, the RMT had a loud hailer and a loud banner (sorry for the shaky photo), and were picketing the passengers; and when I went to the Ladies, it was had been taken over by a hen party with bunny ears who were tottering down the stairs on their precariously high heels.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Counter Rant

Last week, my Myspace song counter started subtracting, and going backwards.
It's been stuck on '8' for three days now.


An Evening at Optical Radio, and More Things

I enjoyed the broadcast and interview experience with Val Phoenix last night- she is a warm host and the Old Police Station that it broadcasts from is an interesting building- we were in a cell with all the broadcast equipment and two very friendly engineers who came in and out, winding and minding leads and microphones and making tea. Val played Thrush and Two Strings to your Bow, and Sweet Saviour, and I sang The Song of the Unsung Heroine (live video from my front room now up on Myspace) and Little England.
The rest of the building houses a cafe with an interesting collection of teapots and cameras, and old and frightening police notices dotted about. Well worth listening in next week, and the week after, and the week after... Val knows her stuff about music!

I had a really interesting meeting this morning with a woman called Jade, who has asked me to make a comic that tells part of the story of Jason and Medea; it's for a theatre production that is going to Brazil, and its going to be a very exciting project to be involved in; she gave me croissants and coffee, and we admired her baby girl (George's too), before I went off to Stratford and a tense half hour in which I persuaded a panel of people that they should give me a teaching qualification (which I haven't got). Or at least, I hope I persuaded them.

So now, of course, I am flopping about the place; I've noshed a curry with Offsprog Two, had a couple of incoherent telephone conversations and packed my Green Goddess

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

And Another Thing

I will be supporting Martin Stephenson and The Daintees at the Tollbooth in Stirling on Saturday night. Tickets are £12/£10
See you there!

Odd Girl Out

In case I get caught up in shenanigans tomorrow and forget to post:
Listen to tomorrow evening between 7 and 9.
Val Phoenix, the journalist and film-maker, has a show called Odd Girl Out, and I will be playing some songs, live and from CD.

On Not Seeing a Gig

I went to the 12 Bar yesterday evening to see a former student play at eight o'clock.
The place was pre-gig resting and there was no sign of him.
Drifts of attention-seeking young men passed through, in character hats.
I did not pay any attention to them, and I didn't want their attention either; I tried to merge with the walls and the floor, but I felt like a giraffe. Everyone stared, but out of curiosity rather than hostility.
Had I bumped face-first into a freshly painted white wall?
In the stage area, a lone singer songwriter tuned his guitar, and fiddled with a self-important looking set list written in thick black felt pen.
A girl arrived, tall and bohemian. 'If it's crap, you can always stop and go home', she advised him helpfully.
I examined the grubby chic around me, and felt alone.
No sign of the former student: in a rush of release, I decided to go home.
Across the gloomy street, Andy the promoter sped past on an invisible mission, blond hair sailing behind him in the shadows.


I'm inundated by staring-into-the-computer-type work!

An application for funding- torture through the prison bars of an Excel spreadsheet but a fantastic project...
A presentation to try to become a qualified teacher- I get half an hour on Friday to rip through 25 Powerpoint slides and sweat and gabble...
My students are out on work placements... some of them. the others are sending me little-lost-lamb emails. Oh no!
My other students are panicking about their songs (some of them)

I've got cold feet because I haven't moved for three hours, and tingly fingers from typing too much instead of laying guitar. I'm allergic to my wooly jumper (stress, I imagine) so my arms are itching.

In two hours, I will stop and do a proper posting. This is a distract-o-post, designed to stop me fomr going mad!

Monday, March 08, 2010


On the way to Gina's this cold and frosty morning, a restless chap in an expensive-looking tartan jacket and tawny moustache leapt on to the tube and plopped next to me, shoving my arm off the armrest with his assertive elbow, which he kept there forcefully as I timidly tried to regain ground.
Ugh. I got up and sat somewhere else. I could not understand his blatant rudeness.
Later, we both got off at the same stop. He raced ahead so he wouldn't have to feel my affronted vibe.
But then of course, I understood why he'd been like that, though I did not condone it. He was so short, he barely reached my armpit.
There are better ways to make an impact than being irritating.

I was cheered by this musician at the end of Queensway, who was playing rockabilly and didn't need anyone else.
Boom-ska boom! Boom chaka boom-click!
Boom-ska boom! Boom chaka boom-click!
He sang Whole Lotta Lovin' Goin' On and did the rhythm and music between his voice and his bass. I gave him 50 pence although he deserved ten times more. When I win the lottery I will find him again and pay him properly for cheering me up!

As always, it was lovely to meet up with Gina and our chatting feels as though it is going to bear ideas-fruit very soon!

Sunday, March 07, 2010


I am having a quiet weekend; I'd been going to travel to Newcastle for the guitar show and Martin's rockabilly band performances, but I was worried about leaving Offsprog 2, who used to have Whippersnapper there to watch TV with.
So I've been cooking
gardening in the cold (yardening? it's a yard, not a garden)
working (the pile of paper on the table is shrinking)
cleaning (guitar playing fingernails snapped and gone)
watching TV (Poirot and more Poirot: it's the black and white in colour that does it)
reading the newspapers (ha ha about Ashcroft!)
trying to sort out the knitting needles I inherited from McMum and giving up
sleeping (hooray)
and generally looking forward to Spring (was that a snowflake I just saw?)
I have uploaded a very rough film on to Youtube, of a gig I did quite early on in my revived career (2006) at the Carnaervon Castle in Camden. The audience is very noisy, because they'd come to see the heavy metal act I was supporting. The funny thing was that the heavy metal band loved my music!

Friday, March 05, 2010

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She's a Punk Rocker

Last night's excursion to The Merchant's Hall in Islington was fun; Gina and Caroline were there, and we watched Zillah Ashworth's film, She's a Punk Rocker, sitting on a motley collection of old chairs. The sound wasn't up to much (strange speakers I suppose) and it was bloody freezing until Zillah's partner Sid fixed the enormous gas heater blaster thing which then roared like mad and made it even harder to hear, but the film looks great- it's really colourful and does the whole subject justice.
Afterwards, Ginger Baker's daughter Ginette read from her book. The microphone wasn't up to much either and in several people's opinion the reading went on for too long; one audience member told her afterwards that she had reduced punk to just fashion and f*cking which made it just the same as any other subculture. I think she had; but then I also think that it was the sort of subculture that had room for everybody.
That was the point.
So for her , if it was just about finding a sexy boyfriend and dressing up, that was OK.
Her Mum was great- she came and took the microphone afterwards and talked about her other daughter, who played guitar in Zillah's band, and who was constantly being asked by guys she was trying to be in a band with if she was 'foxy'. The Mum was incensed by this, and articulated her feelings very well. Gina wants to interview her for her documentary!
We met one of the artists; he told us that he painted the right hand side of the paintings and his partner painted the left side. What a great idea! He was rather pleased, as he was obviously a better painter than his partner; he let us discover this for ourselves, which I thought was very funny.
Rob Ayling, who runs Voiceprint (that's the label that releases my records) was sitting in front of us, much to my surprise; but he's distributing Zillah's film on Voiceprint and that's why he was there.
We talked about crying when cats get put down, which wasn't much of a business-like conversation, but the whole evening was slightly surreal, with a black labrador wandering around trying to get in the photos.
The chap sitting next to him was probably famous: as he left he said 'I've got to go, I'm producing Leonard Cohen's new album at the moment'. That is the sort of thing probably-famous people say, isn't it?
This is how I know I'm not; the thing I say is 'I've got to go, I haven't had any dinner yet and I've got last night's curry in the fridge'. If that changes, you will know I have crossed the divide and become a star.

The photographs are of Zillah and Ginette (and the paintings- you can see my fave of John Cooper Clarke and the budgie), and Gina sitting next to Gina, painted by the left-hand-side artist, which is why the painting looks like somebody else.
These screenings and talks are fun. Go if you get the chance.
Oh yes! I am supporting John Cooper Clarke and Don Letts in Hereford later this year! I am really excited. Years ago, Helen and the Horns supported John Cooper Clarke at Ronnie Scotts. I remember Molly Parkin pursuing him hotly, and, I think, rather a snog going on. The man is a genius, and put him next to Don Letts- that's a dream gig to see, let alone to play at.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


I had always wanted a tortoise, until later I found out that you have to keep them in a run that they can't see out of, and that seemed cruel to me.
Anyway, now I don't have so much as a blade of grass in the back yard.
But when the Offsprogs were little, I dreamed that I worked in the nursery part of a primary school, and they were giving away their tortoise.
How exciting! Of course I volunteered to take it, thinking how excited the Offsprogs would be.
Suddenly, in a moment of self- awareness, I realised that it was all just a dream.
'Aha', I said, 'This is all a dream and although I can even feel the scaly tortoise in my hands, as soon as I wake up, it will be gone and I will have no present to give to the Offsprogs'.
'Aha', said the dream back to me, 'This is a special sort of dream in which if you are given something to take away with you, it is actually real, and it's there when you wake up.'

So, of course, I believed the special dream; and so, of course, I woke empty-handed and sheepish with no tortoise to give to my little girls.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Couple of years ago, there was a terrible clattering commotion at the cat-flap in our kitchen door.
Alarmed, I stood up from where I had been working at the kitchen table, and went to have a look.
Enter the Whippersnapper, triumphantly bringing his booty home for his family: a dead mouse... complete with the whole mousetrap that had deaded it.

Monday, March 01, 2010

On Being Sarah Cox

Out in the yard, helplessly moving plant pots around like blank chess pieces, I overheard Radio One. 
It's being listened to by the adjacent builders.
How can this be? 
Sarah Cox, standing in for Fearne Cotton, teases the (male) listeners with constant references to breasts, as though she is a man herself, and a misogynist one at that. 
She must be utterly desperate to be one of the lads: I have never heard such pleading to not be a woman in my life.
She interviews someone called Davina (could it be McCall? I hope not! Surely she has more sense!). Davina is riding a bicycle for Sports Relief and, over and over again, tells us how sweaty she is in her lycra gear. This seems infinitely more important to her than raising money for a charity; did she work out this priority for herself or did the producers of the show persuade her to demean herself in this way?
And the BBC is axing BBC 6, the station that plays proper music to proper listeners.
That's what happens in a recession, isn't it? The tw*ts return from the wings, triumphantly brushing aside any sort of social progress, and if you don't go with their flow you get stuck in a backwater and labelled boring and worst of all, 'a feminist'.
Well, a 'Sarah Cox' is not a good thing to be, is it?

Two Interesting Articles

Cazz Blaise's article in the f-word on women and punk: the intro
Caroline Coon blogging about images of women musicians on British stamps