Monday, September 18, 2023

Pauline Murray at Stereo

A while ago, the designer Russ Bestley got in touch with me to ask if I'd be interested in reading Pauline Murray's autobiography, Life's A Gamble, and writing a short review for the back cover. No question of it, yes!

I suppose everyone's life is unique, but Pauline's had a particularly extraordinary journey through life. There was so much here that I recognised, especially in the odd 'world' of the north east of England in the 1960s and 1970s. Poles apart in terms of background (although I had a bit of a shock to my system when I came south to Brighton Art College in the 1970s and discovered that I wasn't posh!), there is a particular 'thing' about the north east and the way it seems cut off from everything else that makes you either give up and stay there, or have to escape. 

My escape was to go to an art college as far away as I possibly could; Pauline's was to get together with a fellow musician, and make music as soon as she could- and go to as many gigs as she possibly could, too.

The book is a riveting read, and last night she talked through some more episodes of her life to a rapt and loving audience that included both her son and her daughter. In between stories of her life, she played songs from each different part of her musical journey, which worked very well to consolidate the changes that happened to her as she toured and recorded with different bands. She had a lovely guitar (I think it was a Martin) and was in very good voice, playing confidently and with a degree of strength that shows how powerful she has become as a solo artist.

After a break, Gaye Black joined her on stage  and did a short interview before throwing everything open to questions from the crowd. Gaye and Pauline are long-term friends, and you could tell from their rapport in this part of the evening. It was like sitting round a table with them and having a laugh.

I hadn't planned on staying so long (still on the planet Mars with antibiotics and earache) but it was so nice to be there that we managed to stay almost till the end. There were lots of interesting people to talk to: Pauline and her Offsprogs of course, Gaye and Eric, Simon McKay fresh from a theatrical production and still missing Fenella; Chris Plummer, and Steve from Retroman Blog with his partner Mayumi. It was a slightly different crowd from normal: I suppose the Penetration and Invisible Girls fans. My favourite story, especially because of writing about the attitudes of producers to female artists, was the recoridng of Pauline's vocal in an Invisible Girls track by Martin Hannett. She sang it in the vocal booth, got no feedback from him, and the track simply started again, so she sang it again- six times. Eventually, she went into the control room, and he was fast asleep under the mixing desk! 


Thanks, Pauline, for a really different and welcoming Sunday evening.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Stony Stratford

Pics only to start with- I've been unwell, and in fact got out of bed to do this gig. I'm bloody glad that I did- it was a really nice evening.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023


Trailblazer is the name I have just given to the small slug that lives in my house. In the morning, I can see where it's been, blazing a silvery trail across the rug. It's rather confused: there are many changes of direction. In this respect it's like many human beings that I know, including myself.

Stony Stratford Tonight!

Long time no see! Looking forward to seeing The Antipoet and other chums tonight!

Monday, September 11, 2023

Hamsto Derek

This is Hamsto, a drawing to be auctioned for the Wasbo Derek new album fund. I was sorry not to be able to play their afternoon fundraiser at the Prince Albert in Brighton, but I'm singing backing vocals for Robert at The Lexington that night (cue a lot of 'shouting in a bucket', not about Robert but about something else). 

Anyway- the fundraiser will be great- Vic Godard is also contributing a drawing and I believe Johny Brown is due to do a solo set, and there will be more music too. The date for that is Saturday 14th of October in the afternoon so do go along if you live in Brighton!

This weekend? I had a lovely lunch in York with Mick, June, Laura and Danny. Although it was a sweltering day, June had booked us into a restaurant in the old Assembly Rooms that was huge, airy and relatively cool. We managed to relax and catch up for a very nice three hours before I dashed through the heat to the train home. I'm looking forward to playing in Hull on the 5th of December again with Graham Beck at a record store called Wrecking Ball. I'll post the ticket link soon!

Friday, September 08, 2023

Gnome's Hat

I had such a huge list of things to do. It built up over the week and became almost unmanageable.

One of the things was to paint the garden gnome. I haven't really got much of a garden, just an overstuffed back yard, but the gnome had become more and more dilapidated and really needed a coat of paint.

I cracked open the red enamel and got to it: the right soft brush, a tissue, a little stirrer...

The paint was mad: dribbly, smelly and seemingly having a life of its own. Soon, it was all over my hands and everything I touched. It splashed on to my best green shorts, and while I was panicking about that and trying to tear off a bit of tissue and open the white spirit, the paintbrush flipped over and splashed the table and the floor. And a pen. Red paint dribbled all over the gnome's neck and I had to rest it on the side of the sink and stop it from dribbling on the sink too.

I had to put the shorts in the washing machine because the tissue disintegrated all over them because the white spirit dissolved it.

This was so exhausting that I went to lie down a bit. It was so hot.

I fell asleep for two hours, and as a consequence, didn't do anything else on the list.

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Revisiting Portraits

The portrait that I did for the Nurse at the Demo got lost in the post so it seemed best to deliver it personally. It was an excellent chance to return to The Hub in West Kensington, and see some of my art workshop pals at the same time. Alas, the Nurse had been held up, but I had a quick chat with my pals and said hello to the current, third artist in residence, Adam, before heading up to Earl's Court to meet Offsprog Two for a cup of tea.

On the way there, I spotted Sol, the second artist in residence, in the gallery where I'd had my own show. Nestled in his paintings, he laughed as he told of a five-year old who'd come in and told him he should do better. Children are always blunt! I love his work, anyway.

Then just outside the tube station, a tube worker I thought I recognised was having a fag break. 'Excuse me, are you the person a did a portrait of, with your colleague?'. It was! he said thank you, and that the picture was on the wall of their rest room. They hadn't been there when I'd delivered their portrait and I was touched that they had hung it on the wall.

Here's Sol with his work:

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Part Hand-colouring The Sea Lyrics and Colouring Book

I had twice as many of these printed as CDs made. The CD sold out, and now I have a whole load of these left over. To encourage people to buy them and colour them in, I started doing it myself figuring out that if I did that people would see how nice they could look in full colour. It took bloody ages to do two colours on each page. I am pondering whether to put books like this on Bandcamp tomorrow but I'm not sure yet!


I didn't in the end because it took so long to colour the pages! Here's a link to the book and download codes if you'd like to have a go yourself:

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

She Punks in Hastings

For all you south coasters, Stories from the She Punks is going to be screened at the Electric Cinema in Hastings on the 16th of September, supported by a punk choir! Now that's something I'd like to see!

Ticket link here:

Monday, August 28, 2023

Southwick on Saturday and Wreckless Eric in Clerkenwell

It was a long, long drive to Southwick in Sussex. Being a train strike day (and I support the rail workers 100%) and a Bank Holiday, everyone was in their cars: one long, slow-moving traffic jam all around the London Orbital. It took three hours to get there. The strike had affected the ticket sales quite a lot, but I was still happy with the audience for my set (I think Attila had been out and collected them from the garden!). They were lusty-voiced for the Bathing Pond song and later, for The Sea. The afternoon had started off with local 3-piece band The Piece, followed by Lee Pryor, apparently the lead singer of Britain's primary Led Zeppelin covers band. He was accompanied by a wild rhythm man on cahon. Attila told me he'd been told not to play Led Zep covers, but to play his own original songs. They were bluesy and well-arranged and I was secretly glad that the looping pedal had refused to work (perhaps in sympathy with the rail workers) because there was plenty going on anyway. Joy of the afternoon- Sally turned up, who used to be our live sound engineer in Helen and the Horns. It was a lovely surprise and we sat in the sun and talked for a while. Later, we were to miss The Men They Couldn't Hang, which was a shame because I shared at least one bill with them back in the day.

You know what, it was a really enjoyable afternoon. Attila asked me to play for an hour and I was a bit concerned because most of my gigs are 30-40 minutes long, but it was nice to have the time to kind of 'unfold' over a longer period of time. Also, after such a long drive, it felt worth it! Big luv to Attila for appreciating my music and inviting me to fill a gap after another band pulled out. The whole afternoon was a nice surprise, and it took a lot less time to drive back afterwards.

Yesterday afternoon, Wreckless Eric was playing (along with a lot of other artists) at the Clerkenwell Festival. Last year it was Slady. Someone has a great idea of programming for the glamorous 50-something crowd who turn up for the beer and the vintage stalls. The crowd was impeccably attired in their Sunday Best and very enthusiastic. Debsey and Paul from Birdie were there, Ian Button too; Micko Melletronic, Mike Slocombe in tartan and a bowler hat, Fifi Russell, Chris Plummer, Gaye Black and Eric, Spizz, Ian Damaged and Alison Wonderland, and of course Amy Rigby. Circling, wandering, eating ice cream and finally enjoying Eric's humour and his songs, it was a lovely lazy sunny afternoon. I particularly liked the Dachsund who gently howled along, accompanying Eric's singing at a low volume appropriate for its leg-length.

And by jove, my own new songs have suddenly started appearing. They also have been on strike, but here they are, bustling through my head as I'm driving or trying to sleep. About time, too.