Friday, April 30, 2010

The Green Note, Camden

Life is full of little adventurettes; as I walked through St Pancras underground, there was Josh from Casualty, casually striding off the escalator, as though he wasn't famous at all.

Last night's gig at the Green Note was a real rip-roarer!
They treat their musicians well, and gave us dainty plates of vegetarian food, and drinks; sound checking was informal and quick, and Paul Davey arrived with his clarinet and a smile, and so did former Daintees photographer Mike Chavez: well, a smile, anyway, if not a clarinet (lots of his photos at
'Ee must be populaire', commented the waiter as the place filled up to the brim.
In spite of being hayfeverish I think I turned in a good set (Martin and Paul said I did anyway) with Paul joining me for Autumn Love and London, Martin for Heaven Avenue and both for Loverman.
Martin soon had the audience bonded, included, laughing and singing; it was someone's birthday and Martin and Paul went to her table to serenade her.
There was an Italian fan who had seen him supporting Bob Geldof in Italy when the fan was eight, who requested a song called Daffodils which I'd never heard before (the fan was a little bit of a trainspotter). Martin challenged me to a flower-song singoff, and gave me his guitar to play Daisies (which I had thought I was putting aside until further notice).
He played a mixture of old-timey, Daintees and solo songs, sold a lot of CDs and generally turned in a fine performance; it's cool being his support act and co-roadie!

Thursday, April 29, 2010


I have recently noticed how easy it is for builders to mimic the timbre and gusto of Amy Winehouse as they sing along to her on their al fresco radio sets.
Could this be a clue as to her continuing popularity?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Humph. I have been having one of those days when I can't seem to get anything right.
Well, maybe I did, because Offsprog 2 liked her birthday presents (a tent for Glastonbury, a big red and white striped basket, an Ed Hardy Tattoo mug, and other little things.
And I made a nice chocolate cake and iced it, and put pink, white and blue flowers on it and matching candles.
Yes, I did two things right.
But more than that wrong.

So I am looking for things to make me happy; Cazz Blaise's next women in punk article is up now at
It's a refreshing slant on how things were back then, with interviews with myself, Gina Birch, Lucy O'Brien and Caroline Coon.
I had a very fruitful meeting with Gina about her film this morning; it's always really interesting talking through ideas with her, and we are going to try to find the mag cover that had Thatcher done up as Britannia- I looked for it when I did my book (I'd thought it was Vanity Fair) but couldn't find it, even though I googled till I was blue in the face.

I wish I could think of more to write... mainly because the dishes need to be washed and I can't bear the thought of having to walk through the kitchen and see them. 

What else can I write about? 
Hank Williams trying to sell his songs to other artists to sing, but if they liked a particular song he would not sell it, thinking it must be a good one that he needed to keep for himself... or 
Wondering what would happen in a reverse-Jesus moment, if wine turned into water and people couldn't get drunk and therefore didn't become aggressive and get hangovers... or 
Wondering which came first, the Celtic Knot design or the Eightsome Reel that would tie a Celtic knot if the dancers were pieces of string... or 
Wondering why a tourist would want to come to any part of Britain that had a strong BNP presence, and if Brand Britain will go down the pan... or
Wondering why Delta 5 have disappeared, and where to... or
Wondering whether to write a fake Swedish poem, using only words from the IKEA catalogue... or
Wondering if I will ever be able to play the complicated guitar part I have written for The One-Note Rock'n'Roll

Stuff it, dishes here I come!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Green Note

Thursday this week- Martin Stephenson plays the Green Note in Parkway, I am supporting him and Paul Davey is playing clarinet with both of us.

Oh No!

Oh no!
It looks like we are going to be governed by toffs from Eton!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Eyre Chapel and Beyond

What a lovely drive it was: the M40 buzzards were hovering on the thermals above the motorway, and somewhere close to Chesterfield six brown parachutes suddenly opened in the clear blue sky, floating like jellyfish in the air and looking for a moment as though they were going to land on the road ahead.
After checking in to the b'n'b, it was time to head for the chapel, where David Lelievre was setting up the lights and Mike and June were ready for the gig.
The chapel is beautiful, a tiny stone box painted white inside, with shield-shaped memorials to the Eyre family dotted across the walls, and an embroidered and patchworked wall-hanging on the back wall.
The audience sat on lines of chairs and there was a raised area at the front, which is where Martin set up the little Fishman P.A. system. There was a really nice atmosphere, a really nice audience.
Last year when we played there I was still mourning McDad and I found it very difficult to sing, but this year things felt a lot more relaxed and I enjoyed it a lot more. I left out the Daisies song, not because of the stinky teenage rant that someone posted on Myspace, but because when I play it people only seem to notice that one, so it's having a rest for a while.
As usual, Martin had the audience roaring with laughter but he played very well too with the best rendition of the Joe McKue song I've ever heard, and a lovely version of Nairn Beach.
Yesterday I went with him to Knutsford (once the land of Neil and Christine Hamilton), a very pretty and slightly twee town just off the M6. His gig was at the Liberal Club, an odd building that looked like a warehouse from the outside; inside, it had that youth club/community centre vibe and a lot of very jolly and very loud people who obviously spent a lot of time shouting at their TVs at home, and who yakked loudly all the way through the set of the poor support guy and his cellist, which was a real shame as they were good. Martin wasn't having it, and managed to tame them by about two songs in. Bravely, he didn't sing shouty songs- he sang a lot of the quieter ones and soon had them eating out of his hand, but it looked like very hard work.
We went for a walk in Tatton Park this morning before he headed north and I headed south; as we walked back though the gates, a voice from the pay-booth called us over. It was a lady called Jenny who had been at the gig, and loved it. How sweet and surreal!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I am grumping because I haven't been well. I've had to cancel loads of stuff, and everything is getting on my nerves. Offsprog 2 is playing David Bowie upstairs. I have never been keen on the man, but tonight he sounds like a singing dentist, lips drawn back from his teeth, whining like a drill.
On the tube home from Diversity Training this afternoon, an assertive fellow thought he could get away with shoving his electronic game-playing elbow not only on the elbow rest, but beyond and into my seatspace. O no, assertive fellow! My own elbow was soon assertively yet gently shoving his elbow back where it belonged, relentlessly, until he was sitting neatly within his allotted area and out of mine.
Woe betide anyone who crosses me today! I am nastily articulate, sending cold emails through cyberspace in between bouts as an armchair TV critic, muttering unprintable words. I have been shunting duties further and further into the week and they are going to collapse into a pile tomorrow, I know.
Why has food poisoning given me backache? I've been swallowing little chalky aspirins that fortunately work, but they leave my irritable mood intact.
Even the dishes trembled as I put them away strictly in their cupboard, daring them to wobble or obstruct the door! I have folded vicious creases into my clothes and shan't be playing guitar tonight in case I snap the strings.

Tomorrow, I will be mellow again.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ugg Boots

Remove the last letter of the word 'Ugg' and replace with the next letter in the alphabet, 'h'.
There you have it!

Monday, April 19, 2010


For two days now, I have been trying to send the photo of Drunk Granny playing to my computer. (just done it!)
Silly: I have an iPhone and it should be easy. But no, because I write my blog on a different Mac from the one I set up my phone on and I don't want to buy any more i-Applications to confuse my life. the phone doesn't appear as a hard drive on my desktop like my old non-Mac phone used to.
If Mr Mac isn't careful, he will find himself targeted by Microsoft-type virusmakers, feeling grumpy about the tied-up feeling that's beginning to appear with Mac products.

Well, what I was trying to say was that I hoped to review the Bristol gig two days ago but have given up on the Drunk Granny photo and here's the review anyway, slightly threadbare due  to the fact that I drove there and back in one day and therefore left as soon as I'd played.

Hmm... it hadn't been publicised properly and in spite of a brilliant line-up featuring the Stingrays at the top of the bill, it wasn't exactly packed to the rafters.
But that gave me a chance to enjoy Drunk Granny's mad set. They have been in Berlin and have come back as tight as a cow's harris in a sandstorm.
Their songs are short and shouty and their personnel (Debi on guitar and Edie on drums) are mistresses of thrashy economy. No song lasts for more than two minutes, I think, which in my book makes them all hits.
Breath of fresh air, mate, breath of fresh air.
I have their DIY CD and will review it in a few days time.
Next up were Denial Factor, a trio of young women from Yeovil aged between 17 and 20 who had been sitting quietly eating cold pizza from a biscuit tin in the dressing room for most of the evening. They were all very good musicians, especially the drummer. The singer/bass player had a strong and piping voice and their music was more rock-inspired than punky; I can imagine them being signed up in the twinkling of an eye. I had supplied them with a top E string for the electric guitar, and therefore claim credit for their entire gig.
Then it was my turn, with my not-punk. But it was okay, I think.
The guys from the Stingrays said I was a very good guitarist and Drunk Granny seemed to be enjoying it, and the drummer from Disorder was grinning along as well. So I was happy, and I drove home just managing to keep my eyes open.

What I would now like to know is... what did I eat that gave me food poisoning?

P.S. I met Dave Laing today, and the paperback of The Lost Women of Rock Music is going to go ahead, published by Equinox. I have to finish the extra interviews by July and finish the amendments by September, and with any luck it will be out in a year's time!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Yet again this year, I am playing at precisely nil festivals, although I would love to.
So I am organising my own: Squirrelfest.
I haven't decided where yet, but I plan to pitch up in a grassy park somewhere, entice my audience with a bagful of stale bread crusts, and regale them for four hours with a unique set including specially written songs such as Where Did I Put My Nuts and Beware Of The Dog.
Their little bushy tails will sway to my anthems and they will go back to their dreys at nightfall, happy and contented, with just a few complaints about the toilet facilities, and singing my hit, Humans? Who Needs 'Em?.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wild Excitement for Barnet's Residents

I've just seen eighties superstar Paul Young in the supermarket. Unfortunately I didn't get to look in his basket. Later, he was withdrawing cash from Barclays on the High Street.
It's all go in Barnet on a Friday afternoon!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bletherings: Greek

In Crete on holiday, I very gradually began to understand the writing on the signposts; this was very odd, watching sense gradually materialise in front of my eyes from something that had been incomprehensible.
This made me remember McMum and McDad earnestly moving their lips and staring and making noises at me over and over again when I was a baby, and my feeling that they were trying to make me understand what they were doing, until eventually I did, and that's when I started to understand the English language.

When we were in Crete, a teenage member of our party, a girl, was overcome every time we saw one of the many stray doggies that cringed around the tourists.
'Oooh look at the little doggy-poggy-woggies!', she would coo in a baby voice.
So me and her mum started noticing the old ladies who walked by the side of the road with their bundles of shopping or whatever.
'Ahhhh! Look at the lovely little old lady-pady-wadies!', we trilled, tears pouring down our faces with laughter at our clever idea.
We were probably just as sickening as the teenager doggy-poggy-woggy lover.

All this is inspired by a visit to one of my students who is doing work experience at London Greek Radio. They have been fantastic hosts, allowing her to do her own show. But it was an eccentric experience as most of the other staff appear to be Greek men of a certain age, grizzled, polite and exceptionally bossy.
'Everyone upstairs!', one chap would say and we trooped upstairs. 'Right! Downstairs everyone! You can talk for five minutes. Sit there please. Now you have to stop talking for a while; we are going upstairs! Stand over here and be in the photograph. And another please. One more photograph!' Everyone wanted to shake hands and join in, and the poor student grinned at me helplessly as the tide of people swept upstairs and down again, collecting more excited chaps as we did so.
After twenty minutes, I took my leave with a happy heart, enthused by the enthusiasm of people who love their job and put their heart and soul into it.

Finally: McDad produced a bottle of wine called 'Grk' once at the table. A wag in our company asked him if he had another one called 'Ee'.

Well, that's really enough bletherings for today.

Rebel Music: Bristol, Saturday

Years ago, the Chefs played a very eccentric gig at the Trinity in Bristol, after which a young man physically shoved our manager aside to try to get to me in the dressing room and a very nattily dressed African businessman in a navy suit said to me 'Don't worry little girl, I can make you famous'.
This gig on Saturday celebrates those bands who played the Trinity back then. Don't know what time I'm playing yet but I'll let you know!

Event: Rebel Music:  Trinity Center, 17th April, 2010, 2pm-2am

A day long celebration of Music, Fashion & Art inspired by Punk, Nu Wave and Ska
at the Trinity Center St Philips as part of a HLF funded oral and archival history project What's Your Trinity Story.

Daytime 2-6pm
2.00pm Talk by Debbie Withers,  (Author of 'The Kate Bush Theory')'Do it yourself/ Do it together': A guide to punk cultural production.

3.00-4.00pm Motiq and Earthwormkim present Punk Fashion Show.  w
4.00-5.00pm "Rebel restyle" - Mash up, remake clothes led by final year fashion students from UWE
Evening 6.00-2am
6.00-7.30pm Film Screening in conjunction with Watershed Media Centre "Filth and the Fury" (cert. 15) *
Live Music Featuring: Disorder, Stingrays, Blak Flamez, Denial Factor, Helen Mc Cookerybook, Drunk Granny plus DJ Hackenbush.
 £10.00 ticket for the whole day
 £5.00 daytime
 £5.00 Evening
* £1.00 payable on the day
Tickets available from Bristol Ticket Office Bristol 0117 929 9008
Please note daytime activities are open to all ages but entry in the evening is restricted to 14 + if accompanied and 16 + if not.
For more information about the event and the project, please contact Outreach Worker Dr Edson Burton on 0117 935 1200 or email

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I went to see the quilts today at the V&A with my friend Joan, who works nearby at the Royal College of Art.
It is a fantastic exhibition and very popular: unfortunately we arrived at the same time as what appeared to be a coach party of opinionated grey-coiffed ladies, all very tall and assertive.
But the exhibition itself was inspiring, with some beautiful and touching work. Joan commented that it was all based on systems, a sort of art that is often associated with ruffty-tuffty macho artists. The mathematical precision was extraordinary, sometimes taking a full day to calculate and realise. There were quilts there by men too- a lovely one that took a tailor eighteen years to make and that was peppered with moral thoughts, and a collaborative effort from inmates at Wandsworth prison (unfortunately not given a full showing the the catalogue: perhaps it wasn't ready in time).
Some of them were funny; many had hidden details that you only saw up close.
It's very pertinent at the moment, particularly given the need for recycling, for of course they are all made from unwanted scraps of material, and they are as evocative of different eras as samples used on hip hop recordings that live again in a completely new context.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Teenage Joy

Well, I suppose it's teenage logic: smash glasses, a lamp and one of your mother's precious delft tiles. Leave piles of unwashed dishes, use up all the toilet roll, leave a kitchen chair out in the yard all night. When your mother mentions these small peccadilloes, SHOUT AS LOUD AS YOU CAN TO SHUT HER UP and SLAM THE DOOR!!!!

At least I had a lovely couple of days in beautiful Dumfries-shire at a hotel on the banks of the river Nith, with the calls of the eagles and small birds and big trees, spending the day playing guitar with a large group of mellow middle aged men (actually there were two of us middle aged women) and Martin's daughter, wearing the ends of my fingers to rags and eating big Scottish dinners in the evenings.
The highlight of this year's evening concert was a little girl who was a guest at the hotel, seeing all of us getting up in turn to play, and asking her mum to get her guitar so she could play too.
She played a little guitar exercise (50 seconds) and a one-verse song about spring (30 seconds), completely no-nonsense, with not a Simon-Cowell inspired I-want-this-so-much-I'll-die-if-I-don't-get-it hair on her head.
Now I'm tired and I have just eaten a totally disgusting Sainsbury's ready meal; I should've known better.
Sorry for the short posting. I am off to the land of nod, once I have stopped seething about the resident teenager!
I will leave you with Brian's joke.
'I was walking down the road and I came across a guy playing a didgeridoo. He was playing Dancing Queen, Waterloo and some other Abba songs.
I thought, well, that's aboriginal.'

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Punk Weekend in October

The Chefs (or a version of us) have been asked to play in Brighton at a weekend do in October to celebrate ten years of the Punkbrighton website (
I have emailed Carl but the email bounced back: there is a letter in the post to him. Bruv has said yes so we will see what happens. There had been a stumbling block that would have prevented me from doing it but this was unblocked this morning.
I baked a seed-cake for McMum this morning. The Offsprogs and I are off to see her for two days in Edinburgh in her new gaff. I will be putting pictures up on the wall and cleaning the sofa. Then it's the guitar weekend, which is always brilliant. I hope it's sunny in Dumfries so I can wander about under the lovely trees and think silent thoughts (pretentious, moi?). There's definitely something surreal about a bunch of middle-aged people (mostly guys) wandering around in different directions on the thickly-grassed lawns in the sunshine, guitars slung about their necks, smiling serenely as though they have just died and gone to heaven. Sweet!
I will be taking the Medea ideas (Mideas!) with me to look at on the train and I'm looking forward to dawdling through the streets of Edinburgh marvelling at the red tartan berets with faux (pretentious moi? again) ginger hair attached and the cruddy bagpipers on every street corner with tourist-hatred in their eyes.
Edinburgh's a bit like Waterloo in London: there is often a chill in the air and a chilly nature to its citizens that percolates through their bohemian clothing. I'm immune, having been a visitor for years and having been initiated by having my foot run over by a bus in Princes Street when I was about nine. It was my fault, but my Grandpappy felt furiously guilty and bought me a pair of red shoes to say sorry, which led to a scolding from McMum because I couldn't wear red shoes to school. Which, of course, was exactly the point.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Tie: Ever Wondered Whie?

Black Ink

I've got black ink all over my fingers: I'm doing a page from the Medea comic.
It's taking ages, because I have a gothic take on Beano-style drawing and that involves layers and layers of inky cross-hatching.
Also the paper I'm using (which is now no longer available but I think I've got enough for this comic) is coated with avery fine layer of china clay, which means you can scrape away mistakes with a surgical blade when the ink is dry.
I'd forgotten how long it takes the ink to dry- it needs to 'set'- and there are lots of smudges on the paper and on me, which means lots of scraping tomorrow.
So I'm having a poppadum and blog break.
If I"d finished earlier I would have gone out and bought some multibuy Lindt chocolate bunnies from the supermarket and gorged on them, but at least there's a whole pile of poppadums left over from yesterday when Offsprog 1 and her friend came round unexpectedly and made it necessary to make a curry which they gobbled up in a trice (students with empty fridges).
Life is surreal, still: the kitchen is awash with pink balloons from Offsprog 2's surprise party for her friend. She won't let me pop them, and because the cat died a while ago I'm respecting her request (there's some sort of logic in that, I think). They drift towards the cupboards as though they want to put themselves away, and make the cupboard doors bounce open if you try to slam them without hooking them away with a foot, so many normally-swift kitchen procedures are happening in slo-mo today.
There's a bowl of lemon and orange sweets on the table from the same event (they were horrible sweets anyway and the lemon and orange ones are particularly rubbery-chemical in flavour).
No-one is going to eat them but I can't bring myself to throw them away just yet.
There is also something mysterious and brown under a tea-towel next to the cooker, but I'm too frightened to look.
Well, off to the poppadums. There's no space for me to work in this mini-house and I've been following the sun around with my drawing book; evening is drawing in (I'm not drawing it though), the light is going and my black and white working day is over, though I'll be playing some colourful music later on.
N.B. I was asked to do the Medea comic because I know how to draw loud drawings!

Saturday, April 03, 2010


It was Jamie McDermott's 30th birthday yesterday, and he had a get-together at the George in the Strand.
His band, The Irrepressibles, have been doing incredibly well, he's been very busy and I haven't seen him for ages so I decided to go along and party with him.
That part of the Strand is weird- it seems perpetually winter, even in summer (I went to a wedding there a few years ago and even in high summer it was gloomy and a chill pervaded the air), and also seems to have lagged behind the march of history (it seems to have stuck itself in the 17th Century in spite of modern buildings that have settled on it's old soul).
Inside the pub, though, all was cheerful. His extended family sat at tables, draped in black lace and eating crisps. Jamie was late, but arrived in high spirits with his consort, Jacob, and the night became jolly and musical. His father, an actor, and his brother sang a set of songs that included some Brecht and Weill numbers, and a duo followed them on Casio keyboard, scrunched together and roaring with laughter as they sang.
Piece-de-resistance of the evening was Jordan Hunt, who appeared from the back of the room wearing half a white paper horse strapped to his head and assorted ruffles on his naked torso, playing his violin and miming to a cacophonous medley of diva songs, at one point applying copious quantities of fucshia lipstick to his mouth... then the area around his mouth... then drawing two lipstick hearts on his chest.
He pulled Jamie from the audience and gave him a big sloppy smacker, transferring greasy smudges of fuchsia on to Jamie's face.
What fun! It shut me and Helen White up: we hadn't seen each other for ages. She used to be a student of mine, and she's now doing really well, making a classical album for Boosey and Hawkes amongst other things. There was lots to say.
Eva the singer was there too, good natured and smiling; her boyfriend used to be in a band called Moses who had supported the Daintees, and he told me he recognised me from the Jazz Cafe which was very flattering.
At the end, Jamie was joyfully in his cups and clamped me to his side with a loving arm. He's very strong and very tall and very affectionate. He gave me a big kiss and made my face pink too, and this morning when I woke up I still smelled of his delicious aftershave!
I did take a photo of Jordan and if it's any good I'll post it later.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Two Places Still Available on Martin's Guitar Weekend

This is such a friendly weekend and is suitable for medium-skilled people or those who like myself wish they were better!
It's a beautiful part of the UK and the hotel has its own bit of river and a huge garden full of lovely and interesting trees. There's a bothy nearby with Rabbie Burns' scribbles on the glass of the windows. The all-in cost is £290 (accomodation, tuition, food).

Fri, Sat & Sun......   8th 9th & 10th  
Auldgirth, Dumfries, Scotland DG2
Teachers: Martin Stephenson, Gary Dunn & Bryan Younger
Contact: Andrew Bailey; 07778 558015 email: 
Friars Carse Hotel, Auldgirth, Dumfries, Scotland DG2 0SA:
Tel: 01387 740388

Thursday, April 01, 2010


I've just got back from Liverpool where I was examining an M.Phil. alongside the lovely Marion Leonard.
Now I am tired, but the day went well in spite of a Virgin Train scented, as usual, with Eaudor de Toilette and in spite of mishearing the train announcer at Euston reading out 'Leyton Buttocks' (that should have been Leyton Buzzard, for my international readers) (the Scottish ones!).
Jane Munro from the Au Pairs has been in touch, which has made me very happy, and I am now very much looking forward to revising the book.
I do not like writing very much, even though I have lots of ideas of things to write. It's not laziness: it's a problem with sitting still. I would rather be out doing gigs, and if I do sit still, that's for drawing.
Tomorrow will be filled with nice things: doing some sketches for the Medea comic, thinking up ideas for the Desperado Housewives magazine, listening to girl group compilations, catching up on correspondence, maybe even recording some songs; mostly, though, toastly.

A big pile of toast and a huge pot of tea
Shabby old clothes
That's the day for me.