Saturday, July 11, 2020

Recording

I spent the afternoon recording. I like doing that. My fingers are worn through from playing the guitar, and my ears are shot from listening.
I feel quite happy about my ability to record what I need to record, but mixing is a different matter and that's what I'm trying to do: not the 'getting it technically right' type of mixing, but the 'making it sound good' type. Getting a guitar and a recorded voice to sound just right is really hard. In the headphones they sound one way, over the speakers they sound another way and on the laptop... they sound crap.
Craptop.
It's an interesting puzzle to solve, and I shouldn't wish it would rain so I don't mind being inside doing it. The point is that once you get going, you get so absorbed in it that it's difficult to stop. I had crisps for my tea because I couldn't be bothered to cook because I was recording. That's how much it make you concentrate. I had to make myself stop because there's a certain degree of fatigue beyond which there's no point in carrying on: you have to stop nanoseconds before it stops being fun!
I've recorded two songs, one new one, and one that is so new I haven't even really finished the words and I'll have to change them any way because I mention Amazon and also say 'arsehole', which isn't terrible poetic, is it?

Respected Doctor


Friday, July 10, 2020

Songwriting Circle

This afternoon, it's songwriting circle. Katy Carr set this up years ago, and we've been doing it intermittently ever since. It started at her flat in Marylebone on Mondays, which meant a scrabble to write a song on a Sunday night. Then it rested for a while and now it's back, this time on Zoom, with two of the other 'originals', Rowen Bridler and Nadya Ostroff, joining in last week. One year, almost a whole album came out of it (this one: https://helenmccookerybook.bandcamp.com/album/take-one-download-only), and I think k that happened for Katy too. Sometimes it's just about a creative exercise, flexing your song writing muscles and perhaps writing something that just passes the time fo day in a creative way.
Whatever, it's great to have something to look forward to: a mini project every week that stimulates that part for the brain that other things can't reach. The cabbage soup Katy made isn't there, but the humour and encouragement are, and that's much more important.
Katy has just completed Chris Difford's song writing mentor course so I'm sure she will be really fired up by that.
Got to go now and practice this week's song, and then this weekend I'm going to do some recording and remind myself of ways of working in sound. I have another project in the offing.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Songs from the Kitchen: Set in Stone

Last Night's Dream

Last night's lockdown dream was every bit as complex as the one the night before, but it slithered away swiftly like a snake as I tried to grasp it and remember what happened. I
 just saw its tail disappearing into the distance and couldn't hang on to it.
Maybe that was a dream as well.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Lockdown Dreams and Frozen Fridges

I don't normally remember my dreams but during lockdown that have been vivid, exhausting and sometimes alarming. I wake up in the morning with what feels like a headful of panicking pigeons. A couple of nights ago I had to get a coach load of tourists out of a French chateau and back into the coach with half an hour to go before their ferry left. When I went to find them the stair carpet, which was made of cloth, came undone and I had to try to fix it back again on to slippy wooden stairs, all under the watchful eye of duchess Thandie Newton. I did manage to collect up the tourists but then had to convince the tour operator that we were in a hurry, and she didn't seem that bothered.
What a relief to wake up!
Meanwhile, there's a gap in my working life where my book was. I am going to write a book chapter on Oh Bondage! Up Yours but I know I need a couple of weeks of not exactly rest, but catching up on University work stuff. Online courses, you know.
Double meanwhile after a year I have finally admitted that it's time to defrost the lump of ice that my fridge has become. It has taken more than 24 hours to not melt and people have been recommending that I get the hairdryer out.
Sounds good. I think I will, but that might mean the kitchen smells of melted and pre-rotting food.
I have scrubbed away at the top bit with bicarbonate of soda. Some dill went mouldy in there and it's been very hard to get rid of the smell. That, and half-onions.
I think this is called 'domestic bliss'. I'm looking for the bliss bit: it's probably embedded in that huge lump of ice in the freezer compartment, I think.
Postscript: I got bored with the hairdryer hint pretty quickly. It's better to just wait.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Interview in PunkGirlDiaries Zine

This is a top-quality zine, lovely paper and ink (how can you tell I used to be a printer?). I was delighted to do an interview with them.
Issue 2 available now! https://punkgirldiaries.com
Also featuring an interview with Alison Statton from the Young Marble Giants and Weekend.


Thursday, July 02, 2020

Bandcamp Friday 3rd July

Bandcamp are doing a fee-free day tomorrow. This track will be up for 36 hours only. It's a song I will re-record for my next album, but this version will generate 100% of its sales income for Crisis, the homelessness charity, if you buy it this time around.
Please do listen to the rest of my music too, if you're visiting!

https://helenmccookerybook.bandcamp.com/track/all-i-want-is-the-sun-to-shine-for-you





Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Dreamings and Ramblings

I dreamt a song about pigs last night, and awoke to news of a new swine virus in China. It's hard to work out if we'd find things like this anywhere if we looked hard enough. I still remember our British infected chickens, the phenomenon that Edwina Currie drowned in, eventually.
Go to work on an egg, they said.
Meanwhile, I'm drowning in Mick Herron. Rather craftily, he doesn't give you enough information about his spies to allow you to visualise them completely: just bits and pieces. This means that when it's made into a TV series, the actors chosen to play the parts will 'become' the characters unimagined in the mind's eye of the existing fans. Brilliant strategy. The man should be a spy!

I thought today was tomorrow, and I thought that yesterday too. This means I have an extra day this week, which is a nice feeling given the way that the entire year has imploded.
I have a task to do, one of those nice/nasty ones. The editor has finished and I'm ready to go, but she has recommended that I read through the book to check once more for typos before I send it to the publishers. Yes, I must. I think that will be a job for the rest of the week, because I have now become remarkably anxious and protective over the women that I interviewed. I know I have shown them in the best light they can be presented in. Would I read the whole thing, if I was one of the people interviewed? I hope so. There is strength not only in their sisterhood, which maybe not everyone was aware of, but also in the technical skills and the strategic thinking. Strategic thinking is a craft as much as any other sort of creativity: it's the imagination that makes us survive, and is also a threat to the status quo.

What else?
I did an interview for a podcast called Red Jumpsuit on Sunday evening. I was put in touch with them by Jerry Thackray a.k.a. Everett True, and big luv to Jerry for that. It was really good fun, and they say the podcast will be available in July so I'll post it here there and everywhere else when it's ready.
Last night, another nice thing happened, completely unexpectedly: David Gedge emailed with an invitation to contribute a song to the virtual Edge of the Sea Festival on the 15th and 16th of August. The Wedding Present host these festivals every year and I played a solo one in 2017, and one with Helen and the Horns in 2018, all down at Concorde 2 in Brighton. They have a devoted audience, who follow the bands alternately from one room to the other, and who were incredibly welcoming to me both times. First time, I have to say thank you to Rocker, who put my name forward for it. I had been having a difficult few months and it was one of the events that made me feel life was worth living again; I seem to have started from scratch more times than anyone else in the business, but being able to play to a room full of people at the festival who didn't know my stuff and just feel a wave of support and affection meant masses to me.
Apart from that, I am writing songs and they are pouring out like water from a tap. The pig one has a home (aaah!). I have still to finish editing and mixing the song Michel and me have written. I need to contact Robert and revive our collaboration. There's are other collaborations in the pipeline too (shh!).
Doodle-e-doo!
Postscript: the pig song has new lyrics, not about a pig any more.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Detective Novels to the Rescue!

I've reverted back to an old habit: speed reading crime and spy novels. Currently, I'm steaming through Mick Herron's books which are cruel, but full of little word-jokes that you miss if you're not careful. They also have interludes of sheer poetry, and I can imagine him wishing he'd been a poet instead of a spy novelist, a bit like comedy performers wishing they could sometimes sing a set of serious songs.
I have ordered a zine from female:pressure that consists of interviews with behind-the-scenes staff at raves, and I'm saving up for Desmond Coy's book, which I've already read but it seems churlish to have had the chance to read the preview, and not to buy the actual book.
The non-fiction pile is groaning, but having read nothing but academic articles and books for the past few months, the lightweights are a welcome relief.
That being said, I'm also halfway through Akala's book (thank you autocorrect for correcting that to 'Azalea'  and not being able to autocorrect 'Autocorrect'!), and Renni Eddo-Lodge's, and I have yet to finish White Swans, which is a fantastic read but it's making me want to travel, which is hard during lockdown. Not to China, but just to travel.
Katy Carr has revived Song Circle and we have been playing each other a new song every Friday. Rowen and Nadya will join us too, I hope.
I've started properly using my home studio, and I have been quite pleased by the results, which basically just involves me experimenting with reverbs, compression and EQ until the track sounds the way I want it to. It was a breakthrough to make a decent recording of an acoustic guitar through a microphone. I'll have to learn to make templates of the projects so I can copy them in future- I've found a particularly nice vocal sound with just a tiny bit of reverb to give it sparkle.
Anyway- that's odd- a digression from the digression. Back to the spies.

Friday, June 26, 2020

So Hot!

It's been to hot to sleep. Early this morning, I lay awake and remembered the lovely smell of bread that used to waft along the back gardens from the Victoria Bakery. Now it's closed down and I don't just miss their bread- I miss that awakening too.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Wood Art

These photos were taken in Hadley Wood. The little chair is lovely.
The other artwork did make me think of Simon Armitage and his poetry carved into rocks on the moor in Yorkshire, which felt to me like sanctioned graffiti.
Surely the point of isolated areas is to be able to feel isolated?
I feel completely differently about the Chewing Gum Artist, Ben Wilson, who is making ugly examples of urban human disregard for their surroundings into beautiful miniature paintings. Yet it was his work that was destroyed by Barnet Council when they ripped up the paving stones.








Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Fine Tuning

I have spent a couple of hours finishing off bits and pieces to do with my book today- double checking web addresses and things like that. The editor, Sarah Raine, has been fantastic. And I also have to say that Sarah Killick was an absolute Godsend- everything got moving when she started transcribing the mountain of interviews I'd accumulated.
I have worked really hard at things during lockdown- two lots of article/chapter sub-edits to respond to, starting to finish the book, lots of music writing and recording, six online gigs... and marking and online courses for work as well. I've got another article to finish by September, and then I'll take rest from academic writing. I turned down a jammy thing- a chapter on women songwriters in London venues in the 1960s- that would have been wonderful to research and write about, but I am completely written out academically.
I have an animation to finish, but being animation, it is taking ages. I've been doing it since 2010!
Ironically, I've accrued rather a lot of holiday, and like most other people, won't be able to go anywhere. I don't believe it's safe.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Lime Trees

What a lovely fragrant flower they have.
The horrible cars have started roaring through our roads again, spewing smoke into the air, but it's not enough to interrupt the flow of lovely perfume emanating from the lime flowers on the hot summer breeze.
Breathe in!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Hooray! I Have a Title!

Writing an academic book takes a tremendously long time (especially if you are mildly dyslexic). More than ten years, in this case. There are still some edits to do, and then of course it will go to the sub editors, who are almost like cleaners who remove every speck of dust from your writing. I've just had two articles back that have sent me hunting through back issues of the NME and pleading in a Facebook group respectively (most of my books are still locked up at the University of the East).
I am very happy to say that this book now has a title! It is long-winded, but then its an academic book, and this time around I want to own my idea right from the start.
It will be She's At The Controls:  sound engineering, production and gender ventriloquism in the 21st century. 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Betsey Trotwood on Saturday

Look at this! We are all people who have played at this sweet London venue. Robert Rotifer is also contributing to this:

Bandcamp on Friday

This Friday, Bandcamp are donating 100% of their profits to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
I donate privately to other charities, but if you like my music and haven't bought any of it yet, here's the link to my Bandcamp page. I support their donations wholeheartedly.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Music to the Rescue!

Another article to be edited landed in my inbox this week. A missing title from the New Musical Express sent me burrowing through piles of cuttings until I finally found it- and realised that the journalist wasn't writing about Ari Up, but it was Poly Styrene they were referring too. The consequence of that was moving a paragraph from one part of the article to the other and then checking to se if it all still made sense. Through hay fever and lockdown stress, this felt really difficult, but I sent it off an hour ago.
In a more fun inbox, my friend Kenji has written a gorgeous verse to a song we are co-writing. There was something just so beautiful about it, the lyrics and his singing, that I began to cry.
Life is such a combination of brutal things (the chapter is on violence and punk women), and delicate things that affect your emotions in a positive way. Little Bruv remembered that yesterday was the anniversary of our mother's death. I didn't realise how much I needed to hear Kenji's singing till I heard it.
Long live music, the best invention of humankind.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Dedicated To My Daughters

Because I miss you both.

Miss Melody's Film

When you interview people you bond with them, and you feel gratitude towards them for sharing their stories. One of the producers that I interviewed, Miss Melody, was in the process of developing a new business in a building in south London when we spoke. Then suddenly, for no apparent reason, the landlord tried to take the building away from her. To cut a long story short, with a lot of tenacity and over a period of months and a court case, she managed to stop him and is now in possession of her building again. She is making an 8-minute film about her experience; more to come soon on this.
Yesterday I sent a (hopefully) finished version of the book to the editor. Putting true histories of women out there is absolutely vital. Something has to replace all those crusty statues.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Song Day

Today is going to be a song day. Retrieving the lost music yesterday was like pushing a boulder up a hill, but I got to a satisfactory point where I can have an ears-rest from that one, and start the backing track for another.
It's inevitable that such accidents will happen when you're sailing in such a sea of music. I have never written so many songs, all so different from each other: it's probably a release of pressure. Lockdown also has given me and  a lot of other people time to take stock and consider deeply what we think and feel. Sometimes I have felt uncomfortable about speaking out and acting on things that I felt were wrong, but I won't feel like that again. I also feel ashamed of people who have deflected completely reasonable and fair moves to make change in such a way that you could see they had their fingers in their ears, and were making faces at you: just that they weren't doing that visibly. Now perhaps they might listen more, just as we all listen more, and act on what we believe.
And....
I so wish live gigs could start happening again. I miss the adventure and the two-way feeling, though the online ones have been lifesaving. That feeling of the flow of songs down your arms to your guitar, and out of your mouth singing is such a great sensation, especially when there are people listening with a drink in their hand and a smile on their face on their night out.
Come back, life!
I filmed a track in support of the Betsey Trotwood at the weekend, and their 'gig' is going to be on Saturday. I'm also taking part in an online discussion based in Liverpool on Saturday, which will be webcast at 8 p.m. and details will surely follow. How adaptable we have to be. After this, we will all be in different mental shapes, let alone our physical ones.
I drew this for someone's project:



Monday, June 08, 2020

Trapped and Angry

A flood of people have taken to the streets: the tipping point has been reached.
Successive governments (all Tory) have dumped on everyone who isn't a privileged straight white male, basically.
Eventually it had to come.
News channels and social media are buzzing with fury, and so are the streets. All that fluffy stuff about being kind has evaporated, all that 'neighbours clapping for the NHS'.
The fuzzy feel good ads on TV seem more and more redundant. In fact, as soon as Dominic Cummings 'went to Durham', that was the end of goodwill and into that vacated space, marched anger.
It is massively impressive to see this uprising of oppressed people. Trapped at home by the pandemic, I feel frustrated at not being there to join them, and agitated because I fear for them all. They are brave, but they feel like that because they have nothing to lose.
And who should come seeping out of the cracks but Tommy Robinson, always ready for a fight. He gets a large personal income boost from every conflict he stirs and inflames so here he is, thugs at the ready.
Meanwhile, I try to learn as much as I can and listen as much a I can, so that I can understand as much as possible. I'm keeping off Twitter now. There's no point in e-conflicts. I feel that it is better to talk to people face to face about the things that matter.

What should be soothing at home is utterly frustrating. Making music! I lost an entire mixed songs-worth of audio files yesterday and have spend most of today trying to reconstruct it, with everything else that was going to happen having to be pushed to one side. If my head hadn't already been full of buzzing bees, the added buzzing wasps make it feel as though there's a road drill going on in there. It's time to stop and get some fresh air, medicine for the soul.

Friday, June 05, 2020

Suburban Pastoral Available Now

From here, just in time to catch Bandcamp's no-fee day. 14 track with some groovy guest musicians!

https://helenmccookerybook.bandcamp.com/album/suburban-pastoral

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Suburban Pastoral on CD

I have found an unexpected box of Suburban Pastoral CDs. It was my first solo album and I thought I'd run out, so it was only available digitally on Bandcamp.
I'm going to put them up there tomorrow because Bandcamp are waiving their fees for the day. I have also reduced the price of the digital version to £5.00

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Online Gig From Last Month

More Geesetenders

The pond has shrunk to the size of a puddle, which is a bit worrying. A couple of days ago, Mr White Goose and Mrs New White Goose were there (their normally have their own pond, because Mr White Goose is so grumpy). The male mallards had all gone, all eleven of them, but the Egyptian geese were there with their brood of giant goslings, round the other side f the pond. Had Mr White Goose bullied them round there? Suddenly, they all started running round the side of the pond at once and began to take off! They are learning to fly!
They settled next to the white geese and just got on with their normal preening and wandering.
Up at the White Goose pond, a batch of men were shooting bread into the water with catapults, trying to tempt the fish. One man has set a dart board up in a tree and was playing a game of solo darts. The ground was decorated with beer cans.
Next day, the White Geese were back at their normal pond, but the Mandarin Duck had left and was scavenging down at the main pond, looking rather bedraggled and miserable.
We need some rain, and we need the pubs to open again so people have somewhere to go that doesn't damage nature, which is so fragile and lovely even when it has its own brutality.


Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Thinking Like A Fish

I remembered a TV documentary on the coelacanth, an extremely rare fish, almost like a dinosaur. The crew spent a long time looking for one in the Indian Ocean. They are very hard to find, because they live at such depths. Day after day, the camera crew dived down, until eventually they found the huge fish far, far below the surface. As they shone their lights on it, it tipped up vertically and stood on its head.
The crew were astonished, and back at the boat they speculated about why the coelacanth had reacted in such an extraordinary way. Eventually, they concluded that it was so surprised by the situation that it had no control over, that it's reaction was the only thing it could think of to do.
In home prison, how do we demonstrate? It's dangerous out there, with a deadly virus stalking us all. Those who are demonstrating are desperate and very brave. I feel like I'm standing on my head.



Monday, June 01, 2020

Dartz

Shouts to the chap at the top pond this evening with a dart board rammed into the fork of a tree, doggedly having  game of solo darts. Shouts!

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Travelling

Restless legs, I have.
Whether it's hopping on trains or driving around the UK to play gigs, wandering around London town, or travelling abroad to conferences, it's rare to send so much time at home.
Barnet is full of secret walks that have opened up in the past two months. Some of the pathways have been mowed by the council to make sure people remain distanced from each other. Others are more hidden; my house guest has searched them out and we have walked through woods, fields and grasslands that I never even knew existed, hemmed as they are by forbidden and forbidding golf courses.
A different isolated world; we are all living in different isolated worlds. How frustrating to think that this is all going to be prolonged by the actions of an irresponsible government advisor who hasn't got the integrity to resign.
At the beginning of this all, the mother of one of my daughter's friends died from Covid 19, before we were even locked down. We were already being careful; a trip to Edinburgh felt risky and we all but emptied a tube of hand sanitiser on the way back on the train.
Too little, too late: later that month, another bereavement happened which underlined just how out of touch the government were (and are).
Impatient and nagged at by their business funders, they are now pretending everything is all right.
It so isn't.
It is unbearable not to have seen my daughters for months, not to have been able to hug them and sit around a table and laugh with them. A screen is not real life.
I feel so much for the  people, who have lost loved ones, and we are all living with the fear that we are going to be next.


Dexter Bentley at Noon

Dexter Bentley is playing an hour' and a half's worth of one-minute tracks today at noon. I have contributed to the show, alongside lots of others including Spinmaster Plantpot, Lucina Sieger, Tigersonic, Jude Montague Armstrong and so many more!
Here's the playlist: it's well worth tuning in!
https://hellogoodbyeshow.com/2020/05/26/playlist-one-minute-wonders-2020/?fbclid=IwAR1t5-CGKhSOAWB6H4wlaRrySN4OSuTHZS8aChnwyCeWTho3b1pmHrTYvOI

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Release for Domestic Violence Charities by the Women Composers Collective

https://womencomposerscollective.bandcamp.com/album/her-indoors?fbclid=IwAR0KR-f97p8ZSdMjVJsnhOar7q4jYnbT6r0Vg2F9IHcet4K2evtMtsOyWFM

This compilation is curated by Jude Cowan Montague, with help from Linear Obsessional recordings. We wanted to show our support for women in domestic violence and coercive control situations, especially now during lockdown where these situations are made worse.

This is my track:



Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Apple Blossom

Before reading the newspaper and getting upset by it and before jumping into the rage on social media, I want to write this because I want to remember it.
The smell of a neighbour's apple blossom drifting across out back yards and gardens in the cool of the early morning and the heat of the early evening....
I have never caught such a beautiful aroma in the air from apple blossom before.
Bossy jasmine, pushy lilac, sour elderflower; but not a tree that has always seemed more of a sturdy bearer of fruit than a scenter-of-entire neighbourhoods. Just to breathe it in, in these terrible and turbulent times.
Soon it will be over. The tree will become a useful provider again, but oh, such unexpected bliss!

Monday, May 25, 2020

Desperado Housewives Song

We did this over the last couple of weeks- a musical and lyrical collaboration with a video by Jude.
I hope you like it!
The Egyptian Goose is the star, obviously.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Goosekele


A New Mrs White Goose

A new Mrs White Goose has arrived at the top pond- one with a fractured wing.
Could she be a present from a bird sanctuary? She could not have flown there.
Demure, she is walking round pecking the newly-mown grass, with Mr White Goose following her at a respectful social distance.
Meanwhile, there are still feathers from the deceased Mrs White Goose strewn about the grass away up on the common. It does seem a bit soon: geese mate for life, apparently.
But someone obviously thought he must be lonely, him and his hissy temper.

Further on, a Goose Van was parked so I knew I was right, and then I looked at the logo and felt like a fool.


Thursday, May 21, 2020

Right Chord Takeover Gig

This is from a couple of weeks ago. I'll post the video of yesterday's online gig soon; it was cut short by a Facebook update but I managed 19 minutes before that happened. Blooming' internet, eh?
Many thanks to Right Chord for putting me on their weekend bill!



More videos from the weekend here: https://www.rightchordmusic.co.uk/the-best-of-the-takeover-festival-presented-by-bose-in-support-of-nordoff-robbins/

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Online Gig Tonight

This one is in aid of Gig Buddies, a Brighton charity who support people with learning disabilities so they can go to gigs with other music lovers. What a brilliant idea! I'm on at 8 p.m.
https://www.facebook.com/coronavirusfest/

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Sliding Timetables

When there is no schedule, you wake up at random times.
The earliest so far has been 5.30 (mistaken for 6.30) and the latest, 10.30.
I'm driven from bed by a takeaway curry last night.
Something in curry causes my body to superheat and I don't want to be in bed with me.
The back yard was cool in temperature and ringing with birdsong; a little blue tit landed on the fence beside me before deciding that I was a dangerous prospect, and it whizzed off again.

I also had a thought that wouldn't go away (and yes, I had a nightmare about the Prime Minister again, but let's not go into that).
On a cookery show last night, a chef was being interviewed. He was absolutely dripping with sweat because of the heat in the kitchen. It was pouring off him.
'I like to put a bit of myself in every dish', he explained to the interviewer.
Hmmm.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Watching Out For Dogs

The giant size baby Egyptian Goslings are so brave that they can walk right up to you without being afraid. Mother Egyptian Goose and Mr Egyptian Goose hate dogs after someone let a Jack Russell jump into the pond and scare them, so they stand guard. Mr Egyptian Goose honks 'Dog, dog, dog, dog' if anyone walks past with a dog, even on a lead, and Mother Egyptian Goose takes the goslings straight into the pond.
Did I tell you about the stupid man who brought a pedigree cat on a lead, just to scare them?
Anyway, here they were yesterday with Mr Egyptian Goose in the background standing guard. 
It's getting tense. 
We know there's a hungry fox about and we want the goslings to grow up and fly away: we really do.






Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Chefs in the New York Times!

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/13/arts/music/power-pop-songs.html?fbclid=IwAR38DO1jBwFZTWfHhZcpX-FONfpnaEkUUx4UMLRAOHdHpOme2XYttiIKUPM


Another Nincompoop Nightmare

It's every night, now.
Because I've been marking student professional practice work, last night's nightmare involved the Nincompoop doing a SWOT analysis (you know: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).
He only did the 'strengths' bit, because he couldn't conceive of any of the others.
I woke up and wrote a little song that lasts probably five seconds.
It was no compensation. I'd much rather not have the nightmares.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Goodbye Mrs White Goose

Mrs White Goose was snatched by a fox last night, despite Mr White Goose's ability to clearly articulate the words 'F*ck off' if anyone got too close, and to see off any marauding dog with a flurry of beating white wings and aggressive hisses.
"How did it happen?", socially distanced lockdown goose fans speculated.
I had reported a couple of men with a lethal-looking black metal catapult to the police a few days ago. They were actually back in a car this time, but this slaughter really looked like the work of a fox, because it was obvious there had been a scrap that pulled the poor old lady right over to the edge of the common. We couldn't work out what had happened to the eggs she had been sitting on, and how the fox had got at her while she was in the duck house, either.
The Mandarin Duck and his wife sailed happily on, oblivious to last night's drama. He reminds me of a Cyberman with his beady little eyes peeping out of his helmet.
Apparently the Egyptian Geese at the main pond had started with eleven goslings, and have managed to raise seven of them. The fox was down there yesterday, but only managed to catch a couple of pigeons, whose pale grey feathers larded the grass patches in two guilty spots. We think the fox has cubs to feed.
Oh nature, thou art cruel!
At yet another pond (there seems to be a new pond every walk-time), the one with the African Ducks,  Mrs Canadian Goose (who was sitting on a nest two days) ago now has six bright greenish-yellow goslings; Mr and Mrs Moorhen have at least four stalky-legged moorchicks, and another moorhen is sitting on a twiggy nest that she and her mate have wisely constructed right in the middle of the pond.
It's all go in Barnet Birdland, believe me.
I'm not sure I can take this rollercoaster of life and death. It might be time to find another route to walk!


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Early Morning, Blue Sky

I thought it was an hour later than it is, but it's too late. Or it's too early. One of the two.
The sky is a fantastic blue, unglazed with pollution.
Birdsong rings across the back gardens, treble and clear, no longer engulfed by traffic noise.
The day's wobbly timetable stretches out, begging for structure and being refused.
I'm listening to Johny Brown's Bad Punk show from last Friday in this spare hour: it is a welcome chance to catch up on some underground culture.
Week after next, we were to have played three gigs: Brighton, Bristol and The Betsey.
Johny had written a clutch of fantastic songs and I had learned how to accompany him.
I have lockdown hair, long and tangled, just like everyone else. There is no need for new clothes, cosmetics, or comparison: each bubble is aware of the next door bubble and the bubble after that.
We pretend we are all thinking the same way but how do we know, under the layers of bravery, anger, fear and hope?
We are all afraid, especially the people who say they aren't.
Outside, rare wildflowers burst joyously into bloom, hedges and trees explode in a riot of untamed green. Like shooting stars, tiny birds dart across paths below human head level from nest to bush and back again. They have their world back, temporarily.
People amble: life is circular. Round to the park, and back again.
Stand in the queue, and back again.
Into the kitchen, and back again.
Up to bed at night, back down again in the morning.
We are waiting.


Monday, May 11, 2020

The Nincompoop

You know who I mean without me even mentioning his name.
He seems to imagine that he is a Roman emperor throwing the elders, the sick, the poor and those people who are not white-skinned, wealthy and entitled like him to the lions.
Eventually, there will only be him and similar blond haired nincompoops (I don't even need to mention the other one's name) and of course, a large number of willing nubile young women so they can repopulate the world with psychopaths like them.
Stay out of the way of the deadly virus, in my opinion.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Link to Yesterday's Online Gig

https://www.facebook.com/RightChordMusic/videos/3214520838612608/


Online Gigs and Offline Gigs

It's been really fun doing online gigs: so different from actual playing for so many different reasons and I'm so looking forward to getting back to that again.
The travel, the social thing of meeting new people, then buzz of wondering whether the gig will go down well or not, the come-down afterwards, the rituals of planning and publicising. At every single gig there is a moment where I become acutely conscious of what I'm doing: I am a middle aged, divorced woman with some disastrous life events behind her, two grown up daughters and a responsible job, yet in this moment I am standing on a stage with a guitar in a pair of hands that are doing complicated things, putting my body and soul into singing words and melodies that I have written, and people are listening to what I am saying. What a strange thing! I did not ever imagine this would happen in my life, yet here it is. And upstairs a stupid amount of guitars rest, waiting for me to pick them up and write songs on them. 'Me first!!', they jostle.

Home gigs are weird- the getting ready (I have to sit on a  pile of tottering cushions to be high enough), the people walking past the front window as I'm playing, the wondering who is watching, the occasional forgetting of the words when a small unexpected thing interrupts, then the end where nothing happens, apart from putting the furniture back in place and having a cup of tea.

Mostly, I miss my gig mates.
 Over the past four years, I've been doing gigs with some brilliant people, a friendly straggly gang of like-minded writers, musicians and audience members. When you see them at the next gig, it's as though you only just saw them the day before and you carry on where you left off; you look forward to their next album or gig as though it was your own.
I appreciated the openness that allowed me to be part of this as soon as it happened, and I have never stopped appreciating it because it's been so energetic and affectionate and vibrant.
At the moment it feels like a dormant desert flower: I can't wait for it all to burst into life again!

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Coffee and Hope

Song Writing

I'm not posting a lot at the moment because it is marking season.
I confess, I'm touched by the writing of the third year students this year: it is thoughtful, mature and positive.
These young people deserve a better government and a better future than this.
Maybe I should have gone into politics instead; it was on the cards, because I worked at the Labour Party headquarters for a while. But there was no music in it, and if I don't do music it's as though half of me has gone. It was amazing what rats coming up our toilets did to my motivation to become involved in changing things. Imagine feeding a baby at three in the morning, and hearing them splashing about in the toilet bowl in the bathroom next door.
Even if I became a millionaire nothing would convince me that it's OK for anyone to live like that, anywhere.
Meanwhile, in between marking, long distance song writing is happening. The Desperado Housewives song is all but finished: I just have to assemble it in Logic, because my chorus bit finishes it. Kath has written some hilarious verses, and Jude has written a dreamy middle-16. My job is chorus mistress.
Writing this way is fun because it's rather like assembling IKEA furniture without a plan and without an Allen key; you don't quite know what is going to happen, and you know it's not going to be 'normal'. I'm doing one with Michel, and one with Vinnie, and out of the blue Jem from Asbo Derek sent me some words. They are all so different, and what we can do technically with the limited equipment that we each have at home is part of what goes wrong and what goes right in the song.
I like it!
It's like being a song scientist, daisy-chaining these bits together. At first, I thought they were just demos we were making but now I think it's a genre with its own aesthetic.
BTW excuse my spelling mistakes. I'm dyslexic and I don't care any more. We are in the middle of a deadly epidemic, still functioning as well as we can, and governed by nincompoops.
Ring-a-ding-ding dyslexia! Bring it on!

Friday, May 01, 2020

Lost Geese!

Something about lockdown and all these bereavements...
Mr Egyptian Goose disappeared yesterday. Had someone stolen him?
Mrs Egyptian Goose had gone this morning.
The day was ruined.
I had a lump in my throat.
The RSPCA said 'Let nature take its course'.
Seven goslings, not ready to look after themselves, and a fox in the undergrowth?
The wildlife sanctuaries are closed: no people, no money.
The day fell flat on it's face.
Oh.

But by teatime, they were both back!
I am so furious with them.
They didn't say where they had been, but they mustn't do that again.
My heart won't take it.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Helen and the Horns etc.

Newly available on Bandcamp for a short time only- I normally sell this only at gigs.
Download version has 21 tracks, CD version has 24.
Buy from Bandcamp tomorrow if you can- they are waiving their slice of revenue!

https://helenmccookerybook.bandcamp.com/album/helen-and-the-horns-etc


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Her Indoors

I have contributed to this album, which is raising funds for domestic violence victims. Today, Bandcamp is waiving its fees so more money goes to the charities.

Raintime Thinktime

Here we are, all rainy: the first proper rain since lockdown. The birds are yelling with glee, and the plants in the back yard are displaying specially happy shades of green.
The inept splodge is back at work and I won't be able to watch news broadcasts again until he's gone. In between emails from very stressed students, I'll be trying to finish my book in the next couple of weeks.
The more research I've done the more horrified I've become at the layers and complexity of the structures in society that push women downwards.
At a certain point in my life, I think I am simply going to burst.
Anyone like me would do so.
There are so many of us!
Smiling when you're being insulted because to admit what is happening would break you.
Putting up with toxic relationships, because of your fear (note the 's' there: it hasn't just been the one). Knowing that in the workplace you have to work five times as hard just to stick where you are, and not slip into the pit.
The entire framework of society is set up to make us feel worthless unless we are (a) breeding or (b) caring. These two energy sapping activities, if we are embedded deeply enough in them, will prevent us from thinking or doing anything that might enable others of our gender, and ourselves, to dig ourselves out of our prisons.
It would be amazing not to be a feminist writer.
Just imagine!
I could write about the music I love just because I love the music, like male writers can!
I wouldn't have to think about the imbalances that go on behind the scenes, the sexist lyrics, the women who take their clothes off to sell their music because they know that's what men like.
I wouldn't have to have an opinion about Madonna!
I could be a song writer and producer without ever having to think of it as a battle!



Monday, April 27, 2020

Homework

About 150,000 words worth of student work is going to be handed in this week. I sat and wrote for two hours to try to get a grip on the book, before I start marking it.
I do wish the book would be finished. I'm waiting for an e-book from Bloomsbury Press to be delivered to our library at the University of the East o I can check out some page numbers, and I've had a think around some other citation problems.
I have managed to finish an article for Popular Music History on punk women bass players and reggae. It's been around for years, but because of bereavement (amongst other things) it's taken till now to finish it.
I've got to do the Oh Bondage! Up Yours article before September too.
No more writing after this! I did get asked to contribute a chapter on 1970s women pub rockers which would have been huge fun to do, but managing my teaching workload with all this writing and making the film has been really tiring. Gigs and recording and general music making in real life is so energising! I do love solitude, but those bursts of music activity make life worth living.
Foraging in the loft might have been fun. I've foraged in a cupboard, but there has been too much to do and I'm almost 100% certain that I won't be able to take any leave this year because of the virus, even though that's exactly what we all will need!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Julia

I feel that I can write a bit about Julia now. It was profoundly shocking to hear that she had died because she'd posted on Facebook that she was getting better, and she was so vibrant and full of life that it's almost impossible to imagine that she is not here any more.
Julia was the studio manager at The Premises studio in Hackney. Even if she hadn't been great fun and a fantastic organiser, mediator and deviser of projects, she would have been great just for being so good at her job.We first met almost ten years ago, when a small group of people got together to devise an MA in Songwriting, which would have been run in a specially constructed suite at the studio, and which would have been validated by the University I was working in at the time. Alas, that university badly let us down, delaying the project by two years before deciding not to validate it, because they were validating a similar MA at another small college.
Always positive, the group approached me and with massive amount of input form Julia, ran the first of five weekend songwriting courses at The Premises, which aspiring song writers came along to to devise a song, learn how to market it, and then arrange and record it with guest musicians. They were all so different in terms of numbers (the first one had sixteen song writers, the last one, five), personalities, and time management but Julia steered us all through each of them, and was an absolute bedrock of support. Instinctively, she knew when to give advice and when to ask for it: one of our very best masterclasses was with Green from Scritti Politti, and I asked for him to return to another one. Piney Gir was another really good guest songwriter. Those sessions spawned all sorts of musical collaborations, notably that of Feral Five, who have done really well since then.
Maybe closest to Julia's heart as a practising Buddhist was a different songwriting project with Hackney Carers. This one ran across four Thursdays and involved sixteen people again, all of whom had responsibility for a relative or partner who could not manage on their own.
I can't write much about it, except to say that as a community songwriter (where I started after being in bands), it was the most moving and inspiring project I've ever worked on. Carers live in an odd, magical and sometimes very dark world of their own, where their goodness and kindness is sometimes overshadowed by exasperation and exhaustion. Rather than writing about this in their songs, almost all of them chose to write about love in a move to escape the prison of their caring responsibilities. Julia trusted the group and me to just get on with it, and even the sometimes recalcitrant engineer worked through his lunch breaks to make the project happen. We had some ace session musicians from Julia's address book, one of whom had to deputise as a conductor ,which stressed his drumming skills to the max. In the end, almost everyone got to write and sing not just their own song, but other people's too.
Every so often, I still listen to the CD  and it moves me to tears.
Julia had much more than just a business head necessary to run the studio and its educational arm; she had  an ethical heart and a sense of detail (she never forgot to invite us all to the Premises parties) that was quite extraordinary.
Oh, and she was also one of the most glamorous people on the planet.
I don't know if anyone who knew Julia reads this blog, but I'm pretty sure that everyone who knew her has the same sense of appreciation and love for her. I had to write this for myself, as much as anything else. There are a lot of awful people that we are forced to share this planet with: Julia was a good, good person and I am eternally thankful that I was lucky enough to know her.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Night Work If You Can Get It, High Barnet

A flock of steamrollers, a murmuration of lorries, and a gang of men in hi-vis. It's resurfacing time in the High Street! We may be all locked down, but these guys are bright eyed and bushy-tailed, and working away like beavers to make sure they complete the council contract for their bosses (apart from phone box man), in case the money gets spent on care homes.
Quick, quick!!!



Thursday, April 23, 2020

Lockdown Friends

I've bene watching far too much TV.
These are my new lockdown friends: Constipation Lady and Bad Art Man.
They are both weirder than anyone I've ever met, which I find quite reassuring in a  funny sort of way.



Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Women Composer's Collective Compilation

Jude Cowan has put together this compilation to raise awareness of domestic abuse. I am honoured to have a track included on it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Sunday 19th Covid 19 Online Gig

Chefs Posters

I have something else to write, later on or tomorrow, but I need to think about it for a bit.
I found a pile of Chefs posters last eek- they won't scan properly because they are not A4. But here are the backs of a couple of them- a takeaway order for us and Midnight and the Lemon Boys (we must have been doing  gig together), and a scribbled set list.
It was such an odd time- wild. I was in my very early twenties, and had almost no contact with my family apart from my brother, who joined the band because Carl walked of stage and left me on my own with the drummer at a gig at the Alhambra.
Me and Rod just carried on anyway, to the end of the set.
Captain Sensible was there for some reason, and he later told me it was the funniest thing he'd ever seen.
So here are the backs of the posters. We lived on cheap takeaways and booze.
It was even worse when we moved to London; I lived on Weetabix with squirty cheese out of a tube spread on top of it, and Cup-a-Soups.
And booze.





Saturday, April 18, 2020

Tomorrow's Online Gig

Tomorrow's online gig is on all day, and is run by the artist and general scamp Calum Kerr.
My slot is 4.30 and I'll be trying something a little different! I will also be dredging up a blast from the past that I've only played twice due to it's fumbling finger difficulty, and will probably play a new song too.
Right- back to the peas (eight shoots coming up in soggy toilet roll cardboard), the courgette (one out of twelve vintage seeds doing very nicely), and the tomato (bought at the supermarket). I'm going to look at them encouragingly rather than speak to them, which is a bit out there really, isn't it?

Link here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2622932461287099/

Friday, April 17, 2020

Duck Pond Delights

The Egyptian geese have seven goslings that sleep together in a breathing pile. One of the ducks has three ducklings that bomb across the pond so quickly it's impossible to take photos, and Mr and Mrs Moorhen have eight black fluffy chicks that they tenderly feed with crumbs.
Oh nature!
Yet for some reason, today people have climbed back into their cars and are roaring around making the town stink with their exhaust fumes and drowning out the sounds of cheeping and quacking that have become such wonderful therapy during this weird time. Their car stereos are playing full blast, and they are driving around far too fast, as though they can outwit the virus by sheer nastiness and offensive speed levels.
Geese, go puncture those tyres with your sharp spiny beaks!

Monotony

I've invented a new game, Monotony. It's the same as Monopoly, except the board is blank and there are no pieces, money or properties.
D'you think it will catch on? It's free!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Lyrics/colouring Book in Online Shop

http://mccookerybook.com/buy-the-sea-lyrics-colouring-book/

Perfect for those boring lockdown days.
Even I've been doing it. If you make a beautiful page, scan it and send it. You could win an original illustration!


Link to House Concert Tonight

Join me at 7.15, followed by sets from Texas and North Carolina. How exciting!
Thanks to Rob Ellen for putting this on!

https://www.facebook.com/events/535308507178421/

Monday, April 13, 2020

This Boy Cover

The Sainsbury's Checkout Dream

Dream fodder is thin on the ground at the moment and this post is very boring.
Last night I dreamt that I was at the checkout at the supermarket, trying to pay for my shopping. The checkout was more like a stainless steel chute that a flat normal checkout, and you had to wait until the person in front of you had paid before you could shove your shopping down the slide.
Someone walked up and added a banana to my pile of provisions, and everyone had to explain that he shouldn't do that.
I think the person before me had mostly onions.
It got to my turn and the woman at the checkout (who looked remarkably like someone who has been annoying in real life), strolled over and told me the checkout was closing now, and she couldn't understand why anyone used the checkouts with assistants, when the self-checkouts were so easy and just over there. I started the usual pious speech about keeping people's jobs by making sure I paid at manned checkouts but I could see she wasn't listening, and gave up after the first sentence.
There was someone at every single self-service checkout. Whenever anyone was finished there, the checkout they had been at went out of service.
I waited, and waited, and waited.
Finally, I managed to find an available one. I piled up my bananas and raspberries ready to scan. There was a complex log-in process and I did that, then searched for the code for bananas on the electronic price list.
As soon as I found them, I typed it in and then got taken back to the log-in page. Over and over again.
I looked at the raspberries. They were soggy and mouldy and had bits in that could have been dead insects.
I looked at the bananas.
They were squashed and soft and under-ripe at the same time.
I gave up, left them there in the supermarket dripping rancid juice all over the checkout, and went for the bus.
There were no buses. I wasn't where I thought I was.
All I could do was wake up.

Life is a Minestrone

A Beatles cover today from Life is a Minestrone; I'm playing at 3 p.m. embedded in lots of other good music (all Beatles!):

https://www.facebook.com/events/215119559707792/permalink/223817568837991/

Sunday, April 12, 2020

This Boy

The 'B' side of the very first single I was ever given when I was a little girl- I Want To Hold Your Hand. They were very good songwriters, weren't they.

Music

I was feeling miserable about cancelling so many dates at so many lovely places and with so many lovely people. But music is so adaptable. I have sold a few records and downloads (I'd been relying on the tour for selling those), and 'gigs' are still happening- one on Wednesday evening, one next Sunday and one in May.
Today I'm recording a Beatles cover (This Boy) for Life is a Minestrone, who have been releasing a Beatles cover on Youtube every hour. I've just got to get those chords into my hands before nightfall.
Tomorrow I'll record the song I wrote for Linear Obsessional's domestic violence compilation, and Kath has finished the first part of the Taking a Song for a Walk chain song we are writing. I'll also do more work on the song with Michel tomorrow.
I am also drawing a bit too. The pressure's off a bit: the TV, dishwasher and bathroom extractor fan all broke within a few days of each other. The TV is fixed, the bathroom extractor miraculously fixed itself, and the dishwasher is classed as a non-essential worker and will just have to wait.
The day lies ahead. Coffee, then a search for a thermometer and soup- I've realise that there's only a few days provisions in stock because I haven't been panic buying. Not that I'm panicking, but perhaps I should do some buying, just in case.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Two Strings To Your Bow

Thinking

What is the point of complaining? There is the fear of becoming ill, but we all share that.
There is the bereavement, circling closer all the time.
I have cried for people already. We all have that, too: or we will.
I could not clap for Boris Johnson, a man who deliberately shook hands with people who had a deadly virus, and passed it on to the mother of his unborn child. No.
To the virus, we are insignificant hosts. It has already won 'the battle'.
All we can do is get used to it and adapt, which is what living creatures do.

The music creatures write songs, and we are doing that, and it lifts my spirits.
A couple of days ago, Jude, Kath and me had an online chat and it was heartwarming. Jude's beloved dog had had to be put down in the middle of all this: what a last straw. Wisps of normality, the life experiences that hurt so badly in another lifetime, pass by our windows like feathery clouds in the distant sky.
It's so hard.

In January I wrote a song that sort of predicted all this, and I can't sing it at the moment because we don't know where we are going until we have been there, and can look back. I have written another for a compilation that Jude is making for Richard Sanderson's label, and will try to record it this weekend (it involves recording the Spanish guitar acoustically, and being able to do that depends on my neighbour not using the angle grinder all day in the tiny back yard that abuts mine).
I am co-writing remotely with Robert, sporadically. He has the keys to the magic chord cupboard, as Kevin Hewick once put it. Working with him is like Christmas morning as a child: you don't know what's going to be in that Christmas stocking! I'm writing a song with Michel Wallace, slowly, because we haven't worked together before. And I have a plan to write with Vinnie Wainwright.
I'm saying these things so that they happen.
For two weeks, doing anything has been really difficult.

How do you make people you are responsible for feel OK when you're not feeling OK yourself? People who should be able to lead us out of chaos, from our political leaders downwards, are exposed as weak people who can only function when things are going well. The people that these 'strong' people despised turn out to be stronger by far; those who have had a hard lot in life, like cleaners and carers, have survival skills that would shame Scott of the Antarctic and Major Whatsisname and all those derring-do heroes that our politicians learned about at public school, and that they feel they have a direct timeline connection to.
History will not be kind to them.
I think some people thought it was silly to go on those NHS marches. It really bloody wasn't.

Today, I'm thinking about Margot's family.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

The Egyptian Geese

The Egyptian Geese have become a feature of the Lockdown Walk.
They started off with nine goslings, and currently have seven. They are wonderful parents; they bark frantically whenever a dog appears on the horizon, and became apoplectic when a woman with a dog on a leash walked up to take shots of them (as you can see, they are remarkably photogenic).
They rushed splashing straight into the pond with their brood, and swam away as fast as possible.
On a night walk under the glow of an enormous moon, Father Goose stood on guard, his neck erect and alert and his eyes beady in the moonshine.
Mother Goose crouched nearby as she sheltered the goslings under her flattened feather breast; they have now grown quite big.
'Bark bark bark BARK BARK!', honked Father Goose.
'Bark BARK', honked Mother Goose back to him.
What was going on?
There were no dogs about, only lone people drifting around in the half darkness, keeping their distance like magnets repelling opposite poles.
Suddenly, a young rusty fox made a mad dash from patch of spent daffodils, horse chestnut seedlings and torn grass. Across the road he pelted, narrowly avoiding an oncoming Range Rover that was bossing its way down the road at maximum speed, even though there were no other motorists around to bully.

So still seven goslings... there's enough food for the young foxes in our rubbish bags.
Eat that instead, Reynard!


Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Plumber's Grip

This is a photo of the plumber's bag I bought to carry Offsprog One around in, when I was expecting her and was trying to imagine what it might be like to be a mother. I was such a tomboy. I remember wanting to take my Doctor Marten's boots off and throw them at the looped video of the breastfeeding mother on a floral couch cooing with her baby that was being shown at Guy's Hospital when I went for my appointments.
Everyone expected a pregnant woman to be so gooey and motherly and I didn't feel like that at all. I felt like me, but with a heavy thing in my stomach.
I just kept throwing up, feeling sick all the time (which is worse) and eventually felt like a gigantic elephant, even though I can't have been that big because a myopic chap chatted me up at a cartoon event about a week before I gave birth!
So I bought this to carry the baby around in- seemed ideal- and had an idea of wrapping it in paper towels because babies grow so quickly and I couldn't see how we could afford the clothes (kind relatives passed things on to us in the end). McMum thought this was a terrible idea, but I just thought I was much more practical than anyone else had ever been.
I though I'd lost this, but I found it today dug deep in a cupboard. I'm going to give it to Offsprog One for her birthday.
It does look a bit like a Moses basket though, doesn't it? Especially through half-closed eyes.



Monday, April 06, 2020

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Stanley Unwin Gives Advice To Bill Wyman

Lockdown

Funny how the voluntary solitude of an introvert turns into passive fury at fate when that solitude is imposed on you. And of course it turns inwards instead of outwards.
However, this afternoon I got hold of the guitar and did a bit of writing; not the forced kind, but a nice gentle flow of ideas that aren't set in stone, but that were really therapeutic as they materialised.
Adapting to working from home has been very difficult; we had to change things quickly, and make sure that they were appropriate for everybody.
The most difficult bit has been not checking work emails constantly, and reminding myself that I work part time, and not 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
On social media, people are making up rules for each other, amplifying untruths, and generally stirring panic and paranoia. Meanwhile in Bookface HQ, Twitter Towers and Instagram Megaplex, economic psychologists and populist sociologists are working hard to monetise reactions to the pandemic as quickly as they possibly can. Oh blah to the lot of them!
I got annoyed by the 'solidarity-r-us' poster in Boots the Chemists window today, given that they have been avoiding tax for years. If they had paid up like everyone else, we might have a better funded NHS; it's as simple as that. How can you pat yourself on the back for being supportive of the community when you are secretly salting away money that should be paid in tax?
I wasn't going to write all that but I did. Humph.

The songs I'm writing are not the most joyful pieces of music. Lockdown has concentrated my memory somewhat. I'm usually too busy to think about the past, but this strange state of suspension has crystallised out a a lot of things in great detail. It's cathartic to do this, I suppose.

Meanwhile, the detective novels are still on a conveyor belt as reading material. I've read some good ones recently, but they are upstairs and I'm downstairs, and that's miles away innit.

Oh yes- me and my house guest thoroughly enjoyed Asbo Derek's online high jinks last night. Unco-ordinated, colourful, chaotic and occasionally rather musical. Very funny! I miss them , and my other pals, musical, arty and everything else under the sun.
Roll on freedom!







Daisies