Thursday, December 29, 2005

It's a headache, not a hangover

Shouts for Uncle Andy- that bugle solo in 'Three Little Fishies' on the fake bugle from a stall in Portobello Market has got to be the baddest thing I've heard all year. Big up the Charlton Brass Band (Uncle Andy). Best excuse for non-attendance? Second cousin once removed's family- car got written off by a tractor. Comiserations (how you spell?) and glad you are OK, Netty.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Track listing- Helen and the Horns etc

Here's a tracklisting, by popular request. Sorry, I can't remember the exact order, I'm in the library and want to do this before Christmas- I'll correct it afterwards:
1. 24 Hours- The Chefs
2. Femme Fatale- Skat
3. Freight Train- Helen McCookerybook, The Horns, Lester Square and Mike Slocombe
4. Hell Hath No Horns CD:
Lonesome Country Boy
My Black Rose
Northbound Train
Oh Boy
(why can't I remember what the other track is?)
Two Strings to Your Bow
Freight Train
Pioneer Town
Southern Belle

Leavin' You Baby- Helen McCookerybook and Plato Page
Truckdrivin' Girl- Helen McCookerybook and Plato Page
Riding High- Helen McCookerybook and Plato Page

Demo: Monday's Mood
Demo: I'm in Love for the First Time, with Paul Davey on sax
Demo: Temptation

Shelf Lives (film soundtrack)
Blue's Song

From Voxpop Puella song cycle:
Hermit Crab
The Past is Just a Dream

There are 24 tracks altogether, with sleevenotes by Lucy O'Brien.
You can hear new tracks on
Sorry I can't do a proper link- have left my handy html hints at home!

Thank you for your feedback, it's very encouraging to know that people actually look at this from time to time!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Merry Christmas!

The Offline party was brilliant on Friday, especially the Actionettes who were completely fantastic!
The launch of the Songbird club was great too- lots of people came, and it all went swimmingly well. Thank you to everyone who played or spoke, and to Allan, who played cello beautifully.
Computer's broken, so taking a rest from blogging for a few days (how will I manage without my electronic mirror?). This blog has reintroduced me to some lost friends, who are now found again.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Peace on Earth, don't forget the people in Pakistan, who need all the spare money you can give them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Hello if you're visiting from Urban75!

Looking forward to Mike's party on Friday- I'm playing with just one Horn, sadly- although if you play trumpet or trombone, drop me a line- the parts are written out- let's go for it! (you do have to be a good reader). I'm REALLY looking forward to it, Offline is a great laugh and has got to be the friendliest night in town!
Then Saturday, at Songbird...
Then on 28th, if you are my relative, at my house- musical birthday party. I'm going to be a million, this year, and the theme is hillbillies and cowpokes. I will have woollen plaits (blonde, of course (well, yellow) and am planning to make a dress out of material with glamourous cowgirls printed on it although this may Fail. I make clothes by putting the material on the floor and drawing round myself with a black felt pen and then cutting out the material and sewing it up by hand. I used to use a sewing machine but one day I went out of the room to make a cup of tea and the sewing machine started sewing all by itself. I was so frightened it was difficult to go back in, and I haven't liked the sewing machine ever since. My little brother may well play the teapot; I hope for this at all times, but especially on my birthday. I plan to dance all the troubles of the year away to make way for next years troubles, which should arrive around January 1st as usual.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Saturday, December 10, 2005

How to make a Funny Little Chap in 10 Easy Steps

1. Get some pipe-cleaners or other thin wire and make arms, legs and body with a bit poking up for the head.
2. Get some Fimo or Das and make hands and feet and a head
3. Stick the hands and feet and head on the body
4. Get some pins and some wool, and knit mini-socks and a mini-jumper using the pins as knitting needles
5. Get some denim and make mini-jeans
6. Gst some cotton wool and make a padded body
7. Paint features on the face and fingernails on the hands
9. Dress the Funny Little Chap
10. Finish with a shirt-collar made with a bit of ribbon

Give the Funny Little Chap as a present- stand back and watch the reaction!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Songbird Club Flyer

Beautiful bass came back

This is a true story. I had saved for weeks to buy a Hofner semi-acoustic bass someone told me about, from a shop in Worthing. I bought it, and it sounded beautiful, a real 'sir' with a tone like the bass strings of a piano. Unfortunately for live gigs I had to stuff it with cotton wool because it fed back dreadfully.
That summer, The Chefs played at an all-day festival at the University of Sussex. It really over-ran- a band called Gong would not get off the stage and our guitarist Carl got up on stage and started getting really annoyed. I leaned the bass on his Mini and rushed up to calm the storm. When I got back, my beautiful bass had vanished. Some students had seen it happen and had taken down the registration number of the car it had gone off in.
It was awful- I had to borrow bass guitars off people who very kindly lent them, for gigs. I couldn't afford another one and it hadn't been insured (couldn't afford that either). One guy phoned the shop I was working in and said the police had been on to him as he had a very similar guitar, and could I stop them from harassing him. I was in the pub ith Dougie one evening and he said he knew who had it, and I could get it back if I kept the police out of it. He told me some Hells Angels had been at the gig and stolen my guitar, and he told me which pub they drank at. I asked him to tell them that it was really mean to steal from me, as I had no money to replace the guitar, and they couldn't sell it anyway, as there were so few of them around that everyone would know it was mine. Each evening, I went and stood outside their pub, but they were big and scary and I was small and scared.
Then one day, I was sitting waiting to do a gig with a borrowed bass, and my brother walked into the pub with... my beautiful bass guitar! I had thought I would never see it again and it was really weird to hold it in my hands once more.
He had been on his way back home to get changed for our gig, and had seen a woman walking into the police station with it under her arm. 'That's my sister's bass!'
She had been sunbathing in the park and had found it under a bush. He persuaded her not to hand it in, because the police would have hung on to it and I wouldn't have been able to play it that night. So it came back- via my brother. The Hells Angels must have realised that they couldn't sell it, and just dumped it.
Quite soon afterwards, I did manage to buy another one- a horrid violin bass which (sorry Paul McCartney) looked a bit like a giant wooden spoon when I played it. My beautiful Hofner spent a lot of time tucked up next to me in bed after that, but now it lives on the wall where I can keep an eye on it.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Tea and Donkeys

Played at Barnet Church and The Bull on Sunday, with Paul Davey who used to play sax in Helen and the Horns. There were people drinking tea and eating biscuits inside the Church and donkeys outside it. Some indie kids came in and sat down but went out again pretty quickly. Could have done with some black hair amongst the grey.... had to almost scream out the songs but it was fun. Then over the road to sing at the Bull, after a dance group or two- the microphone was a complete luxury. I wish Barnet had more 'things' like this- I might start up a songwriters night at the Bull next year.
Next gig is Helen and (some of) the Horns at Jamm in Brixton (the Offline party) and then.. Songbird! It's a new regular night of song and poetry at the Harrison Bar in King's Cross. Playing at Songbird with Allan Bradbury on cello, who plays for the Irrepressibles most of the time.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

More gig info...16th December

Ha ha, beginning to get really excited about Christmas, as always. Playing at Mike's Christmas version of Offline at Jamm in Brixton Road on Friday 16th December. It only costs 3 quid to get in and it goes on from 8 p.m. all night, and there are some fantastic bands playing- e.g Tiger Force, and the fabulous Actionettes will be dancing their fabulous dances and I will be trying to copy them and failing. Then more recording next week- I hope Anja who plays with the Irrepressibles will be coming to play accordion on a new song. This picture is really for one of my songs (called London) but I couldn't get it to upload to replace one I have on Myspace already, so it's here instead, because I like it.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Song Club!

Me and my friend Dan run Song Club in a tiny primary school in Barnet on Wednesday afternoons.
We choose a different subject and write original songs with the children. Once we worked with Barnet Football Club and sang the songs at a match on the pitch at half-time. Once we went to London Zoo to learn about the animals with the children, and returned there to sing songs about cleaning the cages with 9 orange plastic buckets. We've just done a recycling project (and 3 cheers to Gary at the recycling depot for finding 3 huge umbrellas to keep us dry) which the children sang wearing newspaper suits to the Mayor of Barnet early one morning. Stuff the music biz, stuff the X-Factor!!!!!!! Long live ideas, spontanaiety, singing, creativity, and fizzzzzz!!!!!!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Gigs, gigs, gigs

Playing at Barnet Church on Sunday 4th December, and at The Bull theatre afterwards, with Paul Davey (the Horns sax player) on Clarinet. Unplugged!
Also at the Harrison Bar in King's Cross on Saturday 17th December, with cello player Allan Bradbury (he plays for the Irrepressibles). Other artists confirmed include Elle Osborne, and The Valley, plus poets and DJ Johnny Brown. I'll be playing there at the end of January, and also with the Horns at the end of February.
I have just finished mixing some Helen and the Horns tracks with Tom Greenwood and will put at least one of them on Myspace this weekend, and shift some Myspace stuff to Isound (you can put more tracks on Isound). I'll find out how to put downloadable tracks on this blog too.


The Chefs went to play at an agricultural college in Shropshire. On the way there we drove past loads of pig farms. When we arrived, they gave us a huge plate of ham sandwiches.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


The God of War strode into a childrens' party.
"I'm Thor!!!" he bellowed.
"Tho what, I'm five!" said a little girl.

Monday, November 21, 2005


This is the photo I'm going to use for my sad songs. Actually, they are nearly all miserable although they have very happy melodies. But this is for the ultra-miserable ones. I just have to cheer myself up by checking out fun sites...
Thinking of giving nothing for Christmas? try
Thinking of playing games? try realruffstuff
Thinking of being jealous of a good artist? try
good artist
(Sorry Jacob- it's all in the name of art!)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Chefs, Slugs and Fleas

Russell Greenwood, The Chefs drummer, had a mouse that ran around his room at night and kept him awake. He bought a mousetrap and was really excited when it snapped shut one night very late. When he put his light on, he discovered he'd caught a huge slug, which had exploded very messily all over his room.
There were 3 cats in that house, all of which had millions of fleas. When you put a cup of tea down on the floor, masses of fleas jumped into it, attracted by the heat. Russ got some Old Spice aftershave for Christmas, and we discovered that the fleas loved the smell of it. We poured it into lots of glasses and left them lying around- then when we were bored, the five of us had competitions to count how many fleas we could find in the nearest glass- the record was 103.
Next irrelevant posting might be about The Chefs manager running himself over, or possibly John Peel's breakfast visit wearing Dave Lee Travis's underpants on his head to keep his ears warm on his bicycle.
(I originally wrote that Russ had a muse that ran round his room at night- that would have been quite a poetic thing, wouldn't it?)

Friday, November 18, 2005

At the Komedia in the summer....

Had a great gig last summer at the Komedia in Brighton with Helen and the Horns. Everett True DJayed and played an amazing set including music from Byron Lee's Allstars (I thought I was the only person in the world who had that record in my collection). Check out his blog on
Another interesting site is Caroline Coon's- she did the most fantastic interview when I was researching female instrumentalists in punk bands (I'm writing a book about them). Caroline was a journalist on Melody Maker at the time and now is a brilliant artist and has been politically active ever since setting up Release in the 1970s.
And 3 cheers for Mike Slocombe for finding my lost blog- it disappeared yesterday and it's my new best friend- he found it!
I'm going to Offline on Thursday 24th next week to see one of my favourite bands Mon Fio- go to see them, they have great songs!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Swedish music website

Check out this Swedish site for lots of interesting stuff!

Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers- and Joby and the Hooligans

This is a photo of Joby and the Hooligans taken in the infamous Vault in Brighton. We were among the 56 bands who rehearsed there, and Joby kept a human skull which he intended to drum on in an old filing cabinet in one of the arches. But we couldn't work out how to mic it up. I'm on the left with wire in my plaits and clothing I found on the landing of our squat, then Steve who played guitar (but not sax, that was just wishful thinking), Ricky the drummer who wore drag a lot, and Joby in his stage gear. We all loved Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers and when they came to play at Sussex University we took along our stuff and begged their manager to let us play on the bottom of the bill (REALLY begged). But he said no, and we were utterly miserable and went off to drown our sorrows. Because we were so disappointed, we drowned our sorrows even more than normal and were completely drunk by the time he changed his mind and said we could play after all. So we got up there- mega-lights, mega-p.a., mega-audience, and started... all at different times, Joby completely out of tune, I couldn't even see the fretboard of my bass, the guitarist seemed miles away in a world of his own playing a song we hadn't even written yet, look of complete panic on the drummer's face....they pulled the plugs on us. At the time, we never intended to live up to our title of the Worst Band in Brighton, but I think we deserved it that night (probably).

Monday, November 14, 2005


This is a page that Bambos drew for 'Blimey! It's Slimer' in 1990. It features King Kurt and a band not unlike Helen and the Horns. The dogs won the competition.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Poster of The Chefs

This is one of many posters I drew for the Chefs- at this point we were a 3-piece band with Carl Evans on guitar and Rod Bloor on drums. We played a lot at the Alhambra and I was really upset when it burned down (like a lot of the venues that punk and post-punk bands played at). Dick Damage was the support band- everybody loved his bands- they hardly ever had the same personnel- he used to phone them beforehand and tell them the chords for the songs over the phone. Anti-Art was Glenn and Eric's band (hi Eric and Glenn!). I loved drawing these posters.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Music link
There are 4 tracks on this site, and I will keep changing them. They can be downloaded.
Alo check out Emerald's site,

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


On the common at the top of Barnet there's a ratpond. It is disguised as a duckpond to lure lots of little children with their breadcrusts- when the ducks are stuffed, the rats slither out of the drainage pipe and gobble up the leftovers.
Horrible duck joke: Q. How do you turn a duck into a soul singer? A. Put it in the microwave until its Bill Withers.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I knew the radio was full of tiny people with loud voices. When my mum told me I was mistaken and went into a long explanation about radio waves and broadcasts, I kept silent because I knew she was completely wrong and I felt a bit sorry for her.

Barnet Gig 4th December, totally acoustic

I'm playing a totally acoustic gig in Barnet Church on Sunday 4th December as part of the Barnet Christmas Street Party. Paul Davey (the sax player with the Horns) is playing with me and also possibly cello. I think we're on at about 2 p.m. And there are chestnuts, footballers from the Bees, stalls, win a fluorescent giant teddy thing, and even reindeers sometimes (they are so small, I don't know how they manage to pull that big guy with the red suit and white beard all over the place)
The Story of Justin's Boots. I lived in a grungy bedsit in Willesden, in the front upstairs bedsit which was handy if I got locked out because I could climb up the front porch and into the little window at the top if I forgot my keys. In the middle of the night one night I heard yelling in the street and I looked out of the window to see Justin standing in the middle of the road, shouting. Justin was a sax player who went out with Rachel from the Dollymixture for a while; he could make pigeon noises with his sax keys). He was sort of a bit mad, but OK, so I opened the window to see what was up. He'd been locked out of his place and I told him he could sleep on my floor. Our house was always warm because our coin meters weren't fixed to the wall properly and you could put the same 10p piece in over and over again and get electricity for almost nothing, so Justin was happy with that.The next morning, I woke up to a terrible smell and I could not see Justin on the floor at all- there was a thick layer of yellowish green smoke covering the whole floor and up to the height of my bed. I heard a lot of spluttering and swearing and Justin sat up with a furious look on his face. He had fallen asleep with his feet propped on top of the electric fire, which had competely melted the soles of his Doc Martins- he'd been so drunk he hadn't felt the heat at all. Rock'n'roll, or what?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Dr McCookerybook's Wordgery

When I was little I read loads of books by an author called Cnid Blyton. I knew there was a writer called Enid Blyton and lots of people I knew seemed to have read her books, but nobody else seemed to have read anything by Cnid.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bull fiddle case

Played the Brighton Ladyfest on Sunday- I've always wanted to do one, and was very flattered to be asked. Sally (who was the H and H sound engineer) played cello and we went on after someone who didn't seem terribly female.... It was good fun anyway, saw my first female-led hardcore band, there were three ukeleles and a trombone in the dressing room and I put on huge quantities of blue mascara to celebrate.
I found this picture of a double bass case being put to use in the Peter Hunt's how-to-do-it book. Reminds me of when the friends I shared a house with in Willesden bought ne a violin for my birthday. I couldn't play it. There were about 9 cats in that house and they all came and put their paws on me to shut me up- although I did do a gig in Victoria with Dr Devito about 2 days later and there's a bootleg recording on which you can only really hear the violin! Lester Square had borrowed the choir's uniform from his dad's church (he was the vicar of Fulham) and Bid read from the Bible while we all played along. Anyway, I went to Portobello market to buy a violin case. The one I bought had a brass handle on the top and someone told me it looked like a baby's coffin so I sat on the step and painted it with white emulsion. The problem was, when I opened it to do the inside, all the woodworm had surfaced to get away from the paint fumes and the case was crawling with horrible little wriggly things and I had to throw it in the bin. I wonder if the same thing happened to Peter Hunt?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

3 Cheers for the Barnet Chewing Gum Painter

Barnet is pretty boring, unless you like climbing trees (I do) although it does have a shop that sells antiques and hoovers (a bit like clothes and onions). But we do have the man who paints on blobs of discarded chewing gum on the pavement. I thought he had fainted when I first saw him painting and went to assist. Then I realised what he was doing. Everybody talks to him now- I think he's a sort of village psychotherapist as well as being a painter. I took this photo outside a horrible burger shop (I think). Someone with a digital camera should come and document these properly!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

electronic mistakes...

I've just done a vanity-search and found yet another site, this time the BBC archive, that says Helen and the Horns split up because I had stage-fright. This is completely untrue- H and H was the first time I realised that stage-fright was pointless, because an audience comes to see you play, not to see you be frightened. We split up because I hated being with a major label, having my band's wings clipped by whatever a large corporation felt like doing, or not doing. We had a talk about it as a band, I went to the A&R man and asked them to release us from the contract, they did, the band pooled their money, we formed Rockin' Ray Records and released our album, and then split up, because we didn't want to be categorised as a sort of novelty cabaret band- we'd been playing proper venues to proper audeinces and didn't want to become a parody of ourselves. I also found it very difficult to work in the studio with producers who had never seen us play live! Freight Train had been self-produced and had been played on daytime Radio One (the Breakfast show, every day) and daytime airplay's supposed to be the reason for employing a producer. I'd asked for Dennis Bovell or John Collins ( both reggae producers who know what to do with female voices and horns and sparse instrumentation) but ended up with perfectly nice people who didn't understand the 'sound'. Blogs are for ranting, aren't they?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Magic computer posts blogs without being asked to

Yes, it did. Thank you computer! As I was saying, it costs £5 or £3 concessions. Line-up is Shimmy Rivers, solo me, The Beautiful Valley and Grassy Noel.
I think I'll be playing in Barnet Church as part of the Barnet Street party on 4th December.
Next posting, I'll upload some photos of the Barnet chewing-gum painter's pictures, if they come out. Had to photograph them with my ancient Pentax as I couldn't borrow a digital camera, but I think they'll come out.
Such an exciting place, Barnet, with our Daily Mails tucked under our arms and our green wellingtons! (that's what they call them here, you know!)
Since I can now progrm links in html, here is Mike's and Paul's again:
Mike (partyclubdrum- man and webdesigneur extraordinaire):
and the trombone poet, Paul:
Will upload an old Chefs poster next posting.....

More details of Klinker gig (28th), etc

The Klinker is at the Sussex, 107a Culford Road, London N1

Friday, October 14, 2005

Music download

I have a track, Heaven Avenue, on this site- more will follow.
I'm doing a lot of recording at the moment.
Helen McCookerybook on iSOUND.COM

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Ladyfest Poster and thanks to Jacob

Here is the poster for the Ladyfest gig, and a big thankyou to Jacob Stevens for the photo on the previous page. Jacob takes great photos, makes videos and puts on events at the Diorama.
Thanks also to Mike Slocombe( a big pirate-radio-dj-type-shout) for designing this site- his site address is, and if you haven't been to Offline, you haven't lived!
You might want to check out the H&H trombone player's site- it's
I have some music posted on (if you are in a band) and also on (if you are not) and I'll be uploading more tracks soon.
More sites next posting!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Further Details- Ladyfest

Performance Time- 5 p.m.
Place- The Engine Room, 1 Preston Street, Brighton
I'll be accompanied by Sally Smith, who used to be the sound engineer for Helen and the Horns, on Cello. She played with me at the Strummerville gig at Concorde 2 last November.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Brighton Ladyfest-23rd October

Playing the Brighton Ladyfest on 21st of October in the afternoon- further details soon.
Also The Clinker in London on Friday 28th October.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Solo gig at Birkbeck Student Union

Friday 7th October 7pm-midnight

Solo gig at
Birkbeck College SU Bar
4th Floor,
Malet Street
London WC1

Onstage around 9:45-10pm.

Also featuring:

Dubversion and Editor

Vic's Cabaret Corner
Your host Vic Lambrusco
Ant The Rant "Acidic Verse From Colostomy Del Mar"
Sarah Daggar-Nickson "A Finger Of The Wise On Triviality's Pulse"

Entry: FREE!

Click here for poster