Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Here, Goddess!

The tropical fish have always thought I was their God(dess). That's because I give them food from above, and fresh water when they need it. This week, they rewarded me by hatching more than 20 tiny baby tropical fish, which I presume they though would be a marvellous surprise. However, the fishtank has now become massively overcrowded in a matter of hours. Whitebait, anyone?

I have found a photograph of the Chefs making a video: I'll upload it when I find a friendly computer.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Obsessive posting, when nothing better to say

1. I used to work in an x-ray darkroom at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne. There I learned that it is possible to read Mills and Boon paperbacks in the red light that illuminates a photographic darkroom. I also had my ears pierced in sterile surroundings by a radiographer's dad, who was a jeweller. We all did. Ouch.
2. When I was 14 I complained to my mum all the time because the bellringers in the village church got on my nerves with all that dinging and donging. She suggested that I join them. I did, and so did my friends. We all learned how to ring bells, but we didn't do our homework.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

New songs on Myspace

Hill of Fools was written for Gina Birch's birthday, and Songbird for Diana Mavroleon's!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Recording next album

This is the plan: I have written over 30 songs in the last year and a half- and made rough recordings of most of them. I'm finishing 20 of them and then I'm going to ask 20 people to choose the best 15, and that's going to be my solo album. I thought that might be a good way to do it...
Allan Bradbury from the Irrepressibles played some beautiful cello stuff on Tuesday; I had been thinking of other instruments for those tracks but the cello finished them perfectly. It's so hard not to put too much stuff into the music- recording is just so exciting, and songs are like puzzles that you can put together in millions of different ways..so easy to get it wrong.
I went to see the Irrepressibles last night. Jamie McDermott has one of the best voices in England, and they played a new song which reminded me of those big Shirley Bassey blockbusters. He should write the next Bond song- but only when Sean Connery clones and duplicates and we don't have to make do with what movie moguls think is a suitable male lead. Oh those eyebrows! Mmmmm.......
I have uploaded the mad song on to myspace- www.myspace.com/helenmccookerybook
It's called Songbird.
I'll put another one up to replace London as soon as my computer stops crashing.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

And a good time was had by all

Songbird2 was great last night- William Blake poetry sung beautifully, Russian poetry doomily booming across the room, the fantastic harpist Serafina singing and playing (ever heard a harpist sing 'wanker' in a beautiful voice before?).
I was looking for a soloist to do the solo in Diana's song but there wasn't anyone there with an easy instrument. However, Chris from Utrophia turned up- he had been working with a man with MS, bathing him and so on, all week, and he mentioned that he wanted to brush his teeth, and he had his toothbrush with him. Luckily I had some toothpaste with me (don't ask why) so I could provide the missing element for him. Witin minutes, he was up there on stage, doing a toothbrushing solo, which was possibly the most beautiful and poignant toothbrushing solo I've ever heard.
Ah what a night... just then, John Hegley and the Popticians turned up and played a fantastic set, rowdy and shouty and boisterous and lots of audience participation, dancing, jokes about purple plectrums- must be fun to play a gig to a bunch of sharp-witted poets and musicians, lots of witty banter, what a successful night! The best bit was when Serafina joined in on their last song. I think she will play on their next album. And their baritone sax player is xlnt!!!
They used to share Russ Greenwood, the drummer, with us. RIP Russell, I think you would have enjoyed last night.

I left my hat behind. It was a wreath made of twisted stalks of ivy and only just balanced on my head.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

'I am cross', indicates shop assistant

Well, I don't like to rant, but in this case I feel justified, having worked in a shop myself for two years after art college, and having never been surly or rude to customers, even when suffering from the after-effects of the night before, poverty, starvation, or general sadness of the misery kind.
I took some CDs down to Rough Trade's shop yesterday to replenish their stocks, because I am recommending that people order from their website (and this is by no means criticising their mail order service, or anything else to do with them for that matter).
First of all, the guy claimed he couldn't find the CD on their shelves, then he claimed he couldn't find any record of the CD on their computer, then he got rid of a couple of customers by rudely telling them the shop was short-staffed because of sickness. Then when he finally found that the shop had stocked the CD, he very reluctantly took more; I asked for a receipt (I'm not the record company, I'm the artist and I'm trying to help out) he refused! So I asked how I could prove that I'd given him more CDs, and he said "I've written it in the book". What levels of grumpiness he rose to when I asked him to show me! He went off on a mini-rant about Rough Trade being there for 30 years etc etc.
I had to say to him that other people too might not be having such a good day...
At no point did he make eye contact, make an unprompted remark, or make any sort of pleasant attempt at social interaction. Because I had to work so hard at getting him to be helpful, I didn't do what I normally do at Rough Trade- buy CDs by other people while selling my own.
So Mr Crossbeardman, you have lost sales at the same time as upsetting an artist whose stuff you sell!
(but at least they have the CD now if you want to order it- search their website under Helen McCookerybook)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Songbird 2, this Saturday

28 Harrison Street- The Harrison Bar's the place to be this Saturday- John Hegley and the Popticians (a very rare treat) and lot of other music and poetry.
Last one was great, and this one will be too.
Come and witness my one-off performance of the song I wrote for Diana- and sing along with the most unusual backing vocal since Rubber Bullets by 10cc (the exercise yard, the exercise yard). See previous posting, should you wish to learn in advance!
Free parking. Everyone pays to get in (3 and 4 pounds) so everyone gets paid for playing. Please buy drinks- manager of venue needs revenue for us to contnue there and it's a fab venue!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Diana's Party

Went to my friend Diana's party on Saturday at the Utrophia studio- Gina Birch showed her films and sang- one of my favourite tracks, I'm Glad I'm Me Today, makes me want to cry every time I hear it.
Lots of mad acts. I wrote a song for Diana, and a man dressed like Rembrandt held up the chorus lyrics for guests to sing (oak, ash, sycamore, holly, elm).
Steve f rom Utrophia played a last-minute and very moving kazoo solo. I'll put the track on Myspace soon to replace Temptation, 'cos nobody listens to that. It's a HelenandtheHorns track anyway so I might set up a separate page for that and put some rare stuff on it.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Thank you Arnauld

Thank you for your lovely comment, Arnauld. I know I never got particularly famous, but reading something like that makes it all worth while!!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


This year, I resolve to make an album (or even two) and to promote songwriting of the outer kind whenever and however possible.
Ad to go to as many weird gigs as I can, starting with Diana's birthday party on the 14th. I am writing a song for her birthday- very slow as it's on the piano and I can't play much but I'm learning- principally by mimicking school assembly-type playing, both in sound and physically (you know, the wildly enthusiastic music teacher attacks piano with whole body style of playing). I wrote a song for Gina's birthday and also for my friend Mandy (we drink champagne together when we can afford it and it's called My Champagne Friend). So that's why there might be two albums- one with normal songs and one with songs for friends.
Song Club will probably start up next week too if we have got the funding- with Barnet Football Club coming along to inspire us this time.
And I will be starting the Salon de Chansons (pretentious, moi?) where people come round and try out songs while eating chocolate cake (and I clear up afterwards).
And I hope I'll be playing lots of gigs- only one scheduled at the moment, with Helen and the Horns featuring two originals- Paul Davey on sax and Dave Jago on trombone, with John Eacott guesting on trumpet.
Please to see The Chefs track 'You Get Everywhere' is on Everett True's baby tape!

January Joke (for by God we need a joke this month!)
Knock Knock:
Who's there?
M.A.B. it's a big horse
M.A.B it's a big horse who?
(sings) M.A.B. it's a big horse I'm a Londoner...
I think you might have to tell it out loud to make it work.