Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Raincoats at EartH, Hackney on Sunday Night

It's almost impossible to describe the atmosphere at the gig on Saturday. The venue, which holds 1000 people, was packed with people of all ages, genders and cultures, all come out to support the anniversary of the first Raincoats album.
The venue looks like something from the set of Metropolis: cavernous, grey, with formal-looking animal panels on the ceiling, massive abstract wrought-iron panels on the walls at the back, a huge PA rig, and vast stylised lights that look like old-fashioned X-Ray machines.
Tiny Shirley appeared on the stage to introduce the gigs, and soon Gina, Ana, Anne and their guest drummer arrived on stage to play through the entire album as the first part of the evening. From where we were sitting the sound was odd, but the spirit was there and the songs came across beautifully. There was a VIP area down the front where we could have sat, but up on the football terraces (wooden steps where cinema seats had once been) you got a good view and also got to sit next to Karina and Andy. I suppose I thought I would be able to catch up with people at the after party but that was not to be (more about that later).
There was lots of history there: Vicky was in the audience and Lora Logic was invited on stage to play. Tall, elegant and note-perfect, she triggered quite an emotional response from the audience (including me: such a long tine since interviewing her for the book, when more people were alive and I suppose I thought there would be more of us around to celebrate this moment).
The first of the guests was Green from Scritti Politti, aided and abetted by Rhodri Marsden, the world's most session musician for the simple reason that he plays everything like he means it. Green's voice remains simply divine and this was a wonderful surprise, as was the next guest band, Big Joanie playing seated and semi-acoustic. The simplicity of their delivery came across really well; I'd never seen them live and I thought they were fantastic. They were well-rehearsed, they have great songs and a sense of humility that is really refreshing (they thanked The Raincoats for inspiration), in a world full of music-school arrogance. Brilliant.
The second Raincoats set was completely informal and released the audience from their tiered seating: there was a flood to the front of the theatre. Honey Birch joined the group for a new song called 57 Ways To Die, employed for her whistling skills; Ana took to the mini synthesiser, and Anne continued her multi tasking as guitarist, violin player and additional vocalist (what a complete asset to the group she is). Despite the audience's enthusiasm, the gig had run over time and there was no encore.
What a great atmosphere!
I missed the last train home, and have rediscovered the plethora of back streets in north London and Barnet on a freezing cold rattly little bus in the depths of the night: but it was all worth it!

Friday, November 08, 2019

All I Want Is The Sun To Shine For You


And I DJ-ed at the after party at Soho Radio!

Gina Birch: 'I'm Glad I'm me Today'

This is my favourite song that Gina has written. She was in excellent voice last weekend at the Doc'n'Roll screening of her films at the ICA. Lucy O'Brien did the Q &A, and was well-prepared as always to bring the best out of the conversations they had between films.
The films were shown in three sections, and the ones that I liked best were the New Order video that featured Jane Horrocks lugging an ever-growing suitcase, puffing and panting through rough landscapes, finally climbing into it when it got too large to carry any more; and the short film Jenny about a shoe-shop assistant's longing for fame and acclaim, and eventual fear of taking the opportunity when it arrived, which was particularly poignant given the context of Gina's life trajectory. There is such a thing as the wrong kind of fame, and Gina definitely has achieved the right kind. The final section showed some of her paintings, which deal uncompromisingly with rape and male power. The whole evening was intensely moving and greatly appreciated by the audience.
We loved it all, Gina.

Monday's Mood

More postings coming including Gina's film screening last Saturday.
I have been working like crazy at the University of the East this week....
I found this on my computer when I was testing some new (second hand, but utterly fabulous) headphones.
Good track for a Friday?

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

The Lovely Basement in Easton, Bristol

Somehow I'll catch up with what went on at the weekend...
Here's a little video of the Lovely Basement on Friday. Such songs! They played a particular beautiful new one about Lake Ontario where the twin guitars spoke to each other in a perfectly... well, lovely way. The bass player's ten year old daughter helped out on percussion (you might see her with her pineapple shaker in the shadows).
Thanks for coming along Rocker, Mark Wainwright and Tina from the Brighton punk scene (we haven't seen each other for 30 years) who looks about a year older than the last time we saw each other. And thank you to the couple who gave me a lift back into Bristol- I'd got lost on the way there after receiving directions from a woman who thought left was right, a man who thought a flat road was a hill, and a phone satnav that got even more lost than I was.
It was nice to play Big Brother Is Watching You as an encore, in response to The Lovely Basement's social media song. I haven't played that one for a while.
Big luv to The Lovely Basement for inviting me over!
The fairy lights around the microphone stands were perfect.

Friday, November 01, 2019


I discovered that my turntable plays too fast.
Big thanks to Richard for calibrating his, and testing the Pea Soup test pressing!
It's gone into production.
Stupidly, I bought a red ink pad for the rubber stamps, and will have to get another one.
Turntables... on the list to get a new one. My playing system is quirky to say the least.
Turntable line into old CD/cassette player, put on top of emptied kitchen cupboards to act as bass bins. The actual sound is great (so different to putting the player on top of the fridge) but the speed, not so great.
On the list.
Everything is kept in the chest of drawers until the need arises: socks, microphones, jumpers, leads, pop shield, interfaces, turntable, trousers.
I'm surprised the moths have managed to find anywhere to rest their dusty little silver heads, and indeed there are less and less of them as time passes.
Time passes: yes, just waiting to leave for Bristol. No spare arms for an umbrella, so it's going to be a wet journey.
Luckily, skin is a waterproof layer and my singing won't get wet.

S* L*ng Br*ns*n!

Getting his ideas off the ground again, this is dedicated to the eternal V*rgin and his team of spacetronauts. I will play it tonight!

Bristol Tonight!

Bristol's gig tonight is at the invitation of The Lovely Basement, songsmiths extraordinaire, upstairs at The Greenbank Pub, Easton. Hope to see all you Brissols there!

Thursday, October 31, 2019


Actually, I'm very happy because so many of the students I'm teaching have found work placements.
Yes, extremely happy!đŸ˜€


I'm trying to convince myself (again) that losing one earring doesn't matter.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


There's a new song on the way, to begin new sets with next year.
I had a great idea for the chorus- then realised I'd used that melody already.
Ha ha!
It's all the more fun to dodge around that and find something different.
What am I doing at the bottom of a well though?
That's where the lyrics have gone.
I'll listen to the echoes for the answer.

Friday at The Greenbank, Easton, Bristol

I will be playing in Bristol this Friday with The Lovely Basement at The Greenbank Pub in Bristol.
They are a great band and I might even play some new songs. Upstairs, from 8 p.m.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


I scheduled a tutorial for Dave yesterday.
I asked and asked, but he never piped up.
It turned out that there is no Dave in the class.
I must have misread the class list, but I like the idea of an invisible student and I will continue to teach him for the rest of the year.
Every University needs a Dave!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Vauxhall City Farm, Now And Then

From Record Mirror, in 1984. Kerstin Rogers took this photo, then we went to the Vauxhall Tavern for a drink. Those earrings got nicked from a gig at a London University shortly afterwards. The hat, which I paid for with £25 I found on a bus, got completely eaten by moths a couple of years ago. I've still got the green belt.
About ten years later, when I was a youth worker in Peckham, I took some young people to Vauxhall City Farm and they refused to sit next to me on the bus back, because I'd picked up a hen on that visit too!
The goats and the pig are new friends that I made on Sunday, and the vulture perches on top of a nearby house next to some allotments. Thanks to the Offsprogs, whose idea it was to go there.
McCookerybook, the animal's friend.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

An Afternoon with Asbo Derek and The Astronauts

It was sunny in Brighton yesterday afternoon, but with a nasty little nip in the air if you weren't careful. Thankfully, a warm welcome awaited those fortunate enough to know about the special matinée at The Prince Albert, the famous Brighton music pub a gnat's cough away from the station. Brian, well-thumped (more of that later) drummer of Asbo Derek was there already, but the pub wasn't open yet: luckily, Joe Davin, top session musician of the day, was walking up the road with his Dad and we went for coffee and a chewy sourdough sandwich while The Astronauts did their soundcheck. Joe was overcome by the amount of stylophones he had been offered; and not only was he playing stylophone for me, but he was also playing keyboards for The Astronauts. Almost as soon as we got back to the Prince Albert, so did the audience.
It was obvious that this was going to be a great afternoon.
Brian started the proceedings with a story that rambled along amiably with such finesse that I was always two beats behind with laughing at the funny bits. In a nutshell (yes, I'm going to spill the beans, or nuts if you like, because then he'll have to write more stories) when Brian was on holiday in Greece, an Albanian misunderstood him when he said he had been a social worker working with children, as being a 'sexual worker' working with children. The entire hotel turned against him and two of the guests wanted to thump him until the matter was resolved, and he spent the rest of the holiday dining out on the story.
Drinking out on the story.
Up I leapt for my bit, a selection of hits from my repertoire finished off neatly with The Band That Time Forgot, during which I hoped like hell that I wouldn't forget any of it, and knew that once Joe arrived with his stylophone the song was nearly over. Readers it was worth it, if only for the collective wince when the Stylophone solo began! And also for the lusty choral audience singing for the chorus of At The Bathing Pond, which was remarkably strong and tuneful for a Saturday afternoon when everybody's hangovers still probably hadn't worn off.
Then dear Asbo Derek clambered on to the stage: how I have missed them! Their good-natured bad temper ('Get on wi' it!'), their thrashing chords, their pure punk silliness, Brian getting cramp, Jem stomping about the stage waving his arms madly and digging about in his brain for yet more innuendo, Darcy and Mark looking at each other as if they are desperately imagining themselves to be in a different band. I loved the new song Pheasant Attack so much that I almost didn't sulk because they didn't play The Buddhist Lost Property.
Almost, but not quite.
Steve's live mix was so good that entirely new lyrical meanings emerged and new layers of grubbiness materialised. I could hear my friends, who'd been Asbo Derek virgins until now, roaring with laughter beside me.
Oh the joy!
I want Asbo Derek for Christmas please, Santa!
More stories from Brian, then Lee McFadden's dream of Lou Read singing Send in the Clowns was brought to life in front of our very ears. It was a hit!
Finally, The Astronauts landed on the stage and treated the packed venue to a feast of tightly-rehearsed progressive rock, sometimes sounding like early Pink Floyd, and at others like Soft Machine's third album. Their drummer is amazing: in fact all of the musicianship is amazing. Touchingly they were joined by Hawkwind's flute and sax player, Nik Turner, who happened to be in Brighton because The Hawklords were playing at The Dome last night, and Helen Robertson sang with them too.
It was fun, friendly, musical, warm-hearted and beat my normal poor sad Saturday afternoon occupation of watching the Come Dine with Me omnibus with a bag of Doritos hands-down.
What a great idea, matinée gigs! Big slice of pheasant pie for Asbo Derek!

Weird London Life

Chance found me in company in Vauxhall Gardens this morning, walking across the muddy wormcasts that had burst through the scrubby grey-green surface in the night.
A child-sized car (lurid blue) was whizzing about on the grass with a blond infant inside wobbling about unsteadily. On closer inspection, we saw that the car was controlled by distant Father, with a remote control box with an antenna in his hands; the infant was completely at Father's mercy, reversing and turning at daddy's whim. Backwards, forwards, on to the path and back on to the grass. A nearby family was in fits of laughter, watching the helpless baby darting about; they called across to Father and asked how it all worked.

'Don't take photographs!', ordered the Offsprogs.
I did, but mostly just with my eyes.
As we strolled into Vauxhall City Farm, a large carthorse had noticed the commotion and it ambled over to the wooden fence, hanging it's head over the wooden bars in curiosity.
We left it watching the baby intently, and went to visit the goats, whose visitors were screaming in terror as the animals nibbled goatfeed from their outstretched palms.

Ah, Sunday morning in London. Nowt like it!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Surfeit of Stylophones

What a lot of R*lf Harris conversations were conducted this afternoon!
Joe Davin, bless his musical cotton socks, sourced a stylophone (potentially an entire herd of them, in fact) from Steve Drennan, so he could play the stylophone solo in The Band That Time Forgot.
Apparently Brian Blaney instructed him to make all the mistakes that I made in my recorded version (recorded in haste and with a keyring stylophone with a broken connection in it's stylo).
Joe made his own deliberate mistakes, after coping with the fact that Steve's Stylophone was a tone higher than mine is.
Apparently Shend had offered him one too, and we wondered about a Stylophone Orchestra, but people were not keen on the idea for some unfathomable reason.
Thank you Joe, for stepping in so late in the day (and before playing keyboards for the Astronauts too!).
Steve offered Joe the Stylophone after the gig, but he politely declined.

Ah, the R*lf Harris conversations! Jem told me that The Court of King Caractacus was his favourite song. There was general agreement that an even worse revival of the wobble board should be avoided.
Somehow we got on to Chesty Morgan, and I discovered that I know a lot about Chesty Morgan (but I don't know how).
Jem was offered the loan of two Chesty Morgan videos.
Did this really happen this afternoon?
And we discovered that there's a p*rn video called 'Nine Elvises'.
Oh deary me!
Lovely to see Jon, Jill, Simon, Kim, Steve, Lee (who played a song he dreamed the other night, Lou Reed playing Stephen Sondheim), and a great big crowd on a Saturday afternoon.
I'll write more tomorrow.
And Steve on sound! Hooray!

I WILL Write About It, I WILL (but just not tonight!)

Friday, October 18, 2019

Tomorrow Afternoon (Saturday) at The Prince Albert, Brighton

Free McCookerybook will be playing a short set at 1.30 and then hanging around to spoil the afternoon after that. After all, I'm free!
I have eaten too many crisps today and I lost my voice from teaching long days this week, but I am sure everything will go swimmingly well tomorrow afternoon, even though there is 100% chance that I'll forget the words of my special tribute to Absolute Ferret or whatever they are called.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Lexington, March Next Year

This was Neil Palmer's initiative, promoted by Bizarro Promotions.
It's going to be a unique evening with each of us performing with a guest musician, I think.

Not-ify on Spotify

Nobody ever asks me if I'm on Spotify or not because I'm not important enough.
But if they did, I'd tell them it's because of their homeopathic approach to royalty payments: wafting a hint of money in the direction of the artists who release their music on there, and expecting that to do.
Under the radar is better at present.
If I suddenly develop the need to be megafamous, you'll be the first to know.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Miniature Vinyl Album Next Year

I've just picked up these test pressings, fresh from Germany, of a miniature album which will be released next year.
It's a 33 1/3 7" vinyl record with five tracks on each side, the shorter of which is 30 seconds and the longest of which is two minutes.
The sleeves will be hand-stamped with illustrations, and hand coloured and numbered- there are only going to be 100 of these in vinyl although I'll do a digital release too on Bandcamp.
I've got a box of custom made rubber stamps, a vintage John Bull printing set, and itchy fingers to get started, but it's going to take ages to do them all (hence next year release).
But I need to make sure it sounds good first!

Friday, October 11, 2019

The No Idea Bath

Yes, definitely poorly. Normally I have to get out of the bath in the morning to write down a storm of ideas. Nothing there today: blank grey felt in my head.

Extreme Cough

I have got a cough that could rattle the bars of hell.
The regular inhalation of my morning cup of tea at the antics of Sweary Bercow on Twitter probably doesn't help, but it's also probably to do with the volume of students and their combined viruses as the beginning of the new term.
Normally I can escape this by regular and frantic hand-washing, but a germ seems to have slipped through the net and taken up residence in my chest.
This morning I was going to record some guitar playing, which is OK because I don't need a voice to do that, but you do need energy and I haven't got that. I missed my evening class last night too, which is completely unheard of. Sometimes I wake up in my seat to the voice of the instructor saying 'Helen's fallen asleep' (Thursday's a busy day at work) but I always normally get there.
Looks like it's out to the chemist for some medicine, and a day in front of the TV watching Bargain Hunt and various cosy programmes that would drive me bonkers if I was feeling healthy.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Extinction Rebellion at Westfield Stratford

This was a really effective living statue today- she caused quite a stir just outside the temple of greed. A policeman looked on in puzzlement, maybe wondering if it's illegal to stand on top of a bin for ages or not.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

O Rest Ye Your Weary Buttock!

For a weary child?
A small person with a tiny B.T.M.?
Or a very, very tired person content to just rest half of their bum?
We'll never know unless I knock on their door and ask them.
Shall I?

I Remember

I remember what it's like to sit and yak with friends.
It's nice.
Sometimes, work takes over and pretends that's what life is all about.
It's not.
Yakking and laughing is the best!
A cloud flew overhead last week; while it was passing, a small thought flew through my head in the opposite direction.
'I don't believe in you!', said my thought.
It was a big help, that little thought.
The cloud flew away.
Tonight, I remembered the trick of pretending that a tough situation was a soap opera, with a cast of characters acting true to type and true to script.
Instead of being intimidated, I looked forward to the next episode where everyone behaved appallingly badly, just as the writers intended, leaving each episode with terrible cliffhanger.
It's an amazing way to cope with difficult situations: try it!

Monday, October 07, 2019

Z, Z and more Z

Well, that's one ticket to An Evening With Gary Crowley not used, much to my regret.
Somehow I have managed to teach for six solid hours today, and I was on the way to The Cockpit Theatre having used every trick in the book to stay awake (drinking water, eating food, forcing my eyelids apart with matchsticks) when I dropped off on the tube and decided that I should come home to save the potential embarrassment of being the audience member who falls asleep and snores due to complete wipeoutery.
This is a shame because I booked the ticket yonks ago, and was really looking forward to it. Gary has played my music a lot, he is really entertaining, and I wanted to return the support. I know it's sold out, anyway, so he will have a brilliant night.
Sadly, at 7.55 I am home and heading to bed.
This is desperately un-rock'n'roll I know, but I have been getting to know this year's song writing students, playing Northern Soul tracks to them, listening to their significant songs, and setting them a project for the first half of the year.
Energy gone. Good night!

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Paranoid, by Black Sabbath

There is something fantastically satisfying about listening to Ozzy Osborne's voice bellowing it's way through Paranoid after a hard day at work.
And those harsh guitars playing that crisp snarly riff!
Yes yes! That's the way to go!
No subtlety, no AMSR, no hair combing, purring, quiet zips or whispering.
Thank you heavy metal, for your complete lack of bullshit and your welcome simplicity!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Caroline Coon at Tramps, Micawber Street

This is Caroline with Stephen Mahoney (of La Beat Route fame) at the opening of her show of magnificent paintings this evening. The heart of London arts were there: Peter Doig, Gina Birch, Jeremy Dellar, Bishi... it was humming with conversation, champagne and chocolate doughnuts.
You must go to see it!

Scaledown Is Mad

These are from Scaledown. Where else can you see a woman singing along to self-punched code run through a wind-up musical box and jumping with two feet on a gigantic plastic piano to accompany herself (Pettaluck), wild improvisation form double bass and sax (Martin Clarke and Otto Willberg), projecting tarot cards on to the ceiling (Blanca Regina), dressing as a monk with a speaker for a face and overcoming a technical hitch that involves pulling a jack lead through your habit and plugging it into your face (The Order of Limerant Monks), a poet whose private parts have appeared in a book of private parts (Carl Chamberlain), an utterly charming multilingual ukulele player who plays the instrument as well as an old blues guy might strum his axe (Rita Braga), and a final act who performs their set despite white noise emanating from a mixing desk manned by two drunken hosts (Papernut Cambridge)?
Scaledown. Unique, friendly, annoying, fantastic, entertaining, and always unpredictable.
This one, I nearly choked to death on my lime'n'soda when Mark asked the bass player of Papernut Cambridge to 'try his bass now' after a lot of knob twiddling on the desk, consulting Sean, muttering, quizzing, and taking another swig of red wine, trying to get a sound out of it.
'It's not plugged in', said the bass player, holding up the lead with the jack plug hanging from the end of it.

The Monochrome Set and Jetstream Pony

This is just a very quick posting because I am supposed to be catching up on housework and things today (but I'm not, I'm procrastinating as usual).
Jetstream Pony were absolutely ace last night. The sound in the Lexington is brilliant and the mix was perfect. They had new songs and I loved them. I can't describe their style but I'll find a good Youtube thing to post in the week.
Then the Monochrome Set, on top form. Andy Warren actually smiled, and Bid's singing was spot-on: again, the sound engineer did them proud. No The Monochrome Set, alas, but lots of back catalogue and new stuff too. I played The Monochrome Set on my phone on the way home and I've learned the chords this morning, not that I'll ever do a cover version.
And now I'm learning Johny Brown's songs for a gig in the New Year.
It was one of those lots of pals gigs too- Akiko was there, Ruth and Dave, Daisy, Damian, Petra, a woman who thought I was Gina, and of course Caryne and Dave in fine fettle; it was very friendly and happy. And who should be there but Johna, who I haven't seen for about 30 years!
I'm off to Caroline Coon's exhibition later today.
It's all go for La Flaneuse Extraordinaire who actually spends most of her time watching Holby CityCome Dine With Me and Four In A Bed, but don't tell anyone that.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

O Politix

Curiouser and Curiouser!

Working, Writing

Up at 7, watching BBC Breakfast with a fantastic interview with Gina Miller. Between her, Carol Cadwalladr and Greta Thunberg, I think women are doing pretty well in the ethics and plain speaking department these days.
I started writing at 7.30 and will be writing until this afternoon. I hope to send the second draft of my book to the editor on Friday.
University work starts again tomorrow, I've got a lovely gig in the evening (bliss!) and then some fab musical collaboration stuff coming up- with Robert Rotifer and Johny Brown.
Thankfully, it's raining and there's no temptation to go out walking.

Thursday Night in Central London: Totally Acoustic

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Raincoats Anniversary

It is the 40th Anniversary of The Raincoats' self-titled first album this year! They have gigs to celebrate and since they are a fantastic and energetic live band, you must go to see them.

London's gig is at Earth in Hackney on 10th November and you can get tickets here: https://rockfeedback.seetickets.com/event/the-raincoats/earth-evolutionary-arts-hackney/1385693
They also have a limited edition gold coloured vinyl album on sale.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Actually, Still Writing

I think I wrote for six hours today, punctuated by a dull grey walk down the side of the main road to Whetstone and back to buy some bad food from Marks and Spencer.
Lungs full of lead, I sat back down to it all before uploading the video that was much more fun to make than writing is to write. But the book is slow politics, and I've gone back to the original interviews to see what's missing so that all the producers have their say. I can only do my best.
Part of it all is taking out the pomposity!
Tomorrow morning I'll go through the pile of stuff in cardboard files (almost ten years' worth) on the cooker and see if there's anything there to include and Wednesday, when I was going to be travelling to Canterbury to work with Robert Rotifer on our co-writes (now postponed to next week), I'll go through all the red bits in the manuscript and see if I can sort them out ('notes to self').
And I might have a listen to some songs I'm going to play on for Johny Brown. They are just lovely and it's going to be great to dig in to working on them.
Now, I am going to have a cup of tea

A Good Life with a Bad Apple Video by Ruth Tidmarsh


What do you call it when your muscles stiffen up after too much songwriting?
Burt Backarache.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Hard Work

Started at 8.30 this morning preparing things for the new University term...
It's now 11.30 and I'm Taking Five before beginning work on the book manuscript.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Thirty Five Minutes

I have beaten the record for the least time ever spent working on my book in a day.
Remedy? Entire day tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Recording Today

One of my most favourite things. I have new songs and new ideas for the future!
I have done a morning's planning for the University of the East, and the rest of the week will be spent doing that and working on my book, but today I will be song heaven.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Art Boat

This art boat is floating on the River Thames outside the Tate Modern. I'm surprised no-one's hijacked it and sailed off into the dawn. It is only a matter of time.

Friday, September 13, 2019

John Bull

Hello Sir!
This chap turned up today in the service of the DIY miniature album that I've made, and will be put to work doing the sleeve notes.
I'm waiting for a sample of the rubber stamp design for the front of the sleeve, and the rest of it is proving to be a lot more complicated than that.

Deleted by Virgin

They were plugging their Barbies on Twitter- Barbies dressed in their branded uniforms.
I replied that this was wrong on so many levels, on earth as it is in heaven.
They deleted it, and I can't understand why.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Full Day

Oh God. Up at 6.30 to rush to Docklands for a course that started 45 minutes late and ran out of coffee!
Then to Stratford to show a prospective student round the studios, after eating a sandwich on the go that squirted its contents out all over the place, as I tried to eat it like the delicate lady I am, and carrying a cup of coffee that splashed through the little hole in its lid all over the place.
Then home to listen to some new masters that have been de-essed, to send back to the cutting engineer at the vinyl manufacturers.
And then a spurt of writing lyrics, for verily I'm recording next Tuesday and things are looking busy till then: more writing tomorrow, another article has turned up for corrections, some marking, some social life, some writing of student schedules for the very-soon-to-begin term.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Squirrel Stops Play

Or rather, squirrel stops work.
I've done about three hours of writing this afternoon and I'm no longer feeling that I can't finish it. The good news also is that a couple of the women I've interviewed have won prizes recently- Janet Beat and Olga Fitzroy. I hope there are more to come.
Rather depressingly, my boiler is on the blink. It will cost two holidays, a Christmas of presents and an interesting diet to fix, unless I hit eBay with a guitar. May well have to do that.
Here's the squirrel anyway. It got such a fright after I scrabbled up the fence to take this shot that it scarpered and looked even more spectacular with it's white belly and fluffy tail, but I had to keep my balance and couldn't take another photo.

Girly Swot Starts Writing Again

After a virus break (self not computer) I'm going to start again this afternoon.
I will start by reading all 30 interviews and see if there's anything to be included after 'finishing' the complete book.
The introduction and the first four chapters feel fine: it's the last three which are baffling me, the ones with the message!
Ha ha! Serves me right for being political, innit.
This morning, the practicalities of life will interfere with cerebral events: the boiler being serviced, planning the years' modules, and the laundry, now the sun's come out.
Gah! I wish I had a butler or a life intern to help out, but I'm sure everyone feels like that!

Sunday, September 08, 2019

In Production


I have come to a halt. I am having a day off to recuperate from a strange mutating virus that has sapped my energy. It's rampaging about: throat, head, nose: quite an adventurer.
I admire its creative explorations.
There is a mountain of work to climb, but I am sitting at the bottom of it having a cup of tea next to my batteries, which are plugged in for a recharge.
See you l8r.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Country Soul Sessions Video by Steven Tagg-Randall

Photo from the Country Soul Sessions

This is by the amazing Steven Tagg Randall, who also films the nights.

I have taken a pharmacy's worth of Paracetamol this morning because of the necessity of getting out and demonstrating this afternoon. It's one of those things which I will regret if I don't do.

There have been some fantastic speeches by Labour MPs this week sticking up for people who the Tories have tried to destroy.
I felt proud to be a member of the Labour Party, something I can't always say but I have felt it this week. That's you, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi and Jess Phillips. Thank you for your honesty and for the care you have for other people and bravery in sticking up for them in the middle of a mud bath of vanity and corruption.

Seems a bit 'vanity' to post a pic of myself after saying that, so I'll wait till later.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Next Gig

Challenging! Completely acoustic. I'll do this on the Spanish guitar and very probably will play some new songs. These nights are fab.


I'm really, really looking forward to the time when psychopaths go out of fashion.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Steam Train

Oh yes and I have a virus that makes my head hurt.
I am going to call the computer technician to fix it.
I've tried switching myself off and on and that hasn't helped.
Here's an extra track that didn't get on to the album
It features Simon Walker on fiddle, who I have known for my entire musical life and I am delighted that he played on this.
Thanks to Ian Button for recording, mixing and mastering too.

Writing and Musing

I'm multitasking: simultaneously writing the last two chapters of my book (oh, so slow and painful!) and at work doing my shift in clearing.
The Northern Line is not working so it took me two and a half hours to get here by bus and the Jubilee Line. I can hear the technical staff whistling and singing next door in the store room.
I stopped writing to stretch my legs. They have now been stretched.
The news is so distracting! On purely emotional level, it seems like a battle between lying psychopaths and decent and ethical people. Because psychopaths always want to be top dog, surely they will just end up obliterating each other?
The alternative (obliterating us) does not bear thinking about.
Back to work.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Making a Video in St Albans

We were going do this months ago, and now we've made a start: a tree festooned with scratched old 78s and CDs, apples crashing from its boughs, a guitar painted with blackboard paint, garden sheds, the Green Goddess... Ruth Tidmarsh is making a video for the A Good Life with a Bad Apple track.
It was fun!
Thanks also to everyone who came last night to the Country Soul Sessions. That was fun too. Family an friends plus a request from the floor for the song; and Emma Goss making up double bass lines for the songs in her head. One day, definitely: she's the best double bass player in town.
I'll be playing Mark Hibbert's totally acoustic night in a couple of weeks time and will try out some new songs there.
It's been interesting reading the reviews of the Green album, a reminder that songs belong to the imagination of the listener once they leave your own imagination as a writer.
I write about my own life a bit, and other people's lives even more; often I'm using things that seem straightforward as metaphors for something else. Thats what it's all about, innit?