Saturday, March 31, 2007

Well, petals...

... just got back from the Park Road Pilot- what an experience! A huge house in Harlesden, wooden floors, scuffed walls, big table groaning under the weight of Eritrean food (yum yum!) glarse of red wine, art on the wall with artist talking about it, very stylish people (we ain't got none of those in High Barnet), friendly Rebecca organiser, the perfect gig. I played unplugged, everybody was quiet and laughed at the funny bits in the lyrics, even the bits I had forgotten were funny, and they clapped a lot, so they must have liked it, and they cheered. I liked it. You must go, it's brilliant. Lucy came and we sat and chatted. We haven't seen each other for ages; she's been writing an unauthorised book on Madonna which I can not wait to read; she's just finished it, and I've just finished mine. But we didn't even talk about that. We talked about something different.
Ah yes, and I have another gig, at the Twelve Bar on the 17th with Martin. But the actual next one is Friday 6th, at The Ship in Borough High Street, with Katy Carr, Sharon Lewis who was in Pooka, and Diana as mistress of ceremonies. It's another unplugged one: all the rage at the moment, innit?

Park Road Pilot, tonight in Harlesden

here's the blurb about tonight's gig, written by Rebecca, the organiser:
this month boasts yet another feast of interdisciplinary creative delights. In the visual arts, we have all manner of mixed media in Alke Schmidt’s deceptively beautiful and thought-provoking works. Andrea de la Dehesa shall lead us into the world of live art with a dance exploration of equilibrium and substantiality. Live music of all sorts will then follow with singer/songwriter Helen McCookerybook and her gentle, jazzy folky melodies of dark undercurrent. Pete too shall be here with his gathered musos to play welcoming the many musicians amongst you, so please do bring instruments if you fancy a live jam! All to be interspersed with the by now well-known readings of subVERSE schnooze...

inspired by subVERSE philosophy, prp will be raising money for Amnesty International ( by charging a mere £5 at the door. in order to raise a decent amount of cash, a cheap bar will also feature, so please leave your vintage wines and special brews at home. However, arrive before 9pm and your first drink will be FREE!

we love our contributors and want to keep them happy, therefore screenings and performances will follow a programme which will start at 8pm so feel free to get here early and hang out with the harlesden cats from 6pm onwards.

for more information about this month’s charity, speak to Monsieur Hahn, most probably behind the bar.

For those of you who receive a blank space rather than a flyer, ‘tis all happening on Saturday 31st March and the address is: 18 Park rd. NW10 8TA. The nearest tube is Harlesden on the Bakerloo line. If you are one of the many who come from Hackney like regions, the splendid Silverlink to Willesden Junction is the way forward. And lastly, if you are fond of buses, the 18 will drop you off very near indeed!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Guitar Strings

A few weeks ago my friend Dan told me he'd sent me some guitar strings, with a wound "G" which wouldn't go 'boing' when I played it, a problem Gretsch guitars have. When he played guitar for Naomi Phoenix he played a vintage version of the Green Goddess, and had the same problem that I have.
Well, the strings never turned up, but I've had a really good time imagining what might have happened to them:

1. The postman used them to re-string his tennis racket
2. Local cats grouped together and used them to make a harp in a tree
3. Girls at the local school used them to make exotic hair-decorations
4. A tramp used them to floss his teeth
5. The traffic warden stretched them across the street to trip up the cars

Perhaps, blogifers, you have some suggestions yourselves?

Another small thing: this morning at Heathrow Airport, I pressed the 13 button on the chocolate machine and a bar of Whole Nut came out, without me having to put any money in it.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

My gigs, wot this blog was sposed to be abaht

Bet you can't even read it- sorry!


Well, tonight I am very tired. The book is endless, the end is bookless. I am not as clever as I thought, and I didn't think I was very clever anyway. Not even James Brown telling me to get on up I am a sex machine is working. Everybody else looks tired too- walking past the window yawning, zig-zagging, following their feet, slumping, touching the wall lightly, bags on one shoulder. It's cat's hour, and they're all out slithering under cars, dashing across the road, hiding behind clumps of plants, all going about their business. they know everybody's gardens and everybody's secrets, all the things we don't know, big clumsy beasts that we are.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Book Cover

Well look, this is my book cover, with Tessa on it. Tessa is quiet and plays bass. Every band needs a quiet person, and the bass player is often neglected, so I chose this to big up the quiet and the boom-boom-boom (see, I know because I used to be one; the bass players are the ones who thump you in the chest and make your hips wiggle). This pic was taken by Caroline Coon.


Going, going, going to the National Sound Archive today to try to find some recordings of nasty shouty Thatcher to compare with soothing Boy George the emollient-voiced womanman for a talk tomorrow about Rock music and national maleness at the beginning of the 1980s.
Will I find any?
I don't know, but if I don't I'll go to the Victoria and Albert museum and look at the mechanical tiger.
Anybody else want to come?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Songbird next Wednesday

Mon Fio are playing. No other band can boast that I danced so much to them I threw up. If you feel that you, too, would like to experience such a thing, I can recommend this night to you wholeheartedly.


Olivia's dad's just walked past, with a smile on his face and his sunglasses on, head tilted towrds the sun. He's a very happy man, he loves his wife and his wife loves him. They go for walks together in the evening, just promenading around, happy in each other's company. He goes out shopping first thing...
Sometimes I see the man from the noodle bar coming back from the supermarket with a huge bag full of loaves of bread. He's my smiling-friend: we always say hello. And I have just started smiling at Mrs Smokinglady with her two children. She is very unhappy, I can feel it, and her face is a bit scary because of that, and I've walked past her without smiling for too long. So now I do it.
In a minute I'm going to East London. I hope I have some songwriters there. I promised to do antything to help them, play guitar, whatver whatever whatever. They are not very confident so I'll have to work hard at giving them a bit of strength 'cos I have a gig for them in May.
So goodbye. Have a nice day, whoever you are and wherever you are.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Jocks and Geordies play guitar

Just got back from the guitar weekend in Dumfries- about 20 guitar nerdies and me (guitar nerdy too), sitting in circles playing till we were dazed by chords and sequences. What a lovely thing to do- Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning, in a hotel with fantastic grounds next to a river. All sitting round a huge table at mealtimes with the punk waitress yelling out our orders (warning: the guy from Manchester know more dirty jokes than it is healthy to know, although his anecdote about a curry so hot his rear end resembled the Japanese flag was disgustingly funny). Oh I laughed though. Geordie humour is very dry. 'Ah, Scottish Brie... from Scotland'. And Big Jim told a story about a young guitar student who turned up for a lesson with no strings on his guitar. 'Just show us the shapes', he said. I am not sure I can remember anything I learned although it all might miraculously reappear in my brain next time I pick up the guitar. But it was fun, and there was a little concert on the Saturday night. I drove home today in the sunshine feelng on top of the world, even though there is not a single caff on the A1 that sells decent coffee. Thank you Martin for giving me a place on it, and to him, Jim and Gary for showing us so much mind-blowing stuff, and to Andrew for organising it.
N.B. prize for badly-designed bird goes to The Pheasant for having a red eye like a target, and a squawk that can be heard for miles. What's that all about?

Friday, March 23, 2007


Off tae Dumfries this morning for the guitar weekend.
Had no time to practice me riffs, I've broken the fingernail on me pinky and I can't read music so will have to look out of the window if they do tablature and then copy someone once they start playing, but what the heck, a weekend of pure nerdiness can't be sneezed at, so off I go, twang-dang-doodle!

Thursday, March 22, 2007


The perfect surreal start to the day- skipping in the snow in my orange pyjamas.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


For ages, being a person unable to remember even my own lyrics, let alone anyone else's, I have Fakelyricked. Once, someone said to me, 'Hey, I didn't know the lyrics to that song- what are they?'. 'Smorrdar lartle durr, pinkle twarting doop', I sang, sounding just the same as the singer.
Well, I've just read that Lily Allen's done a version of 'Smile' in Simlish. Simlish is remarkably similar (hurr) to Fakelyric, so I'll be fascinated to hear what the final version sounds like.
The Folk-singer in the Sims has long been a favourite of mine, sitting by the campfire whining away.

Jetzt Kommt Shakey!

There you were, lookin' for Shakin' Stevens all over the place, and where was he hidin'?
Behind this bag in a Charity Shop in Barnet, that's where!
Peek-a-boo, Shakey!

Tricking problems

That's what you have to do, innit?
The scanner won't talk to the computer, or the computer won't talk to the scanner; impasse.
Gonna trick that one by going up the library later and using their gear if I can.
See, technology, you try to silence me, but You Can Not Win.
Meanwhile, I'm going to Colindale newspaper Library, 'cos they've got th Brighton Evening Argus there, and I might at last be able to finish the damn book.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Perfect early morning; Bird and a Bee CD turned up and I could breakfast to exciting harmonies after a lazy start. Later I'll scan my Salon des Chansons flyer so you can see it- I'm going to start that up in April, honest I am, I have a Plan; and songwritery friends can come round and eat chocolate cake and write songs and when they are stuck they will start up again. I have a Plan about what to do, and where to play. Oh, I have so many plans to pepper the world with sparkly songs: I just need a barmy millionaire to fund 'em all. I keep trying to win the lottery, because I also want to get a mad house at Alnmouth in Northumberland overlooking the sea and fill it with pianos, strange old keyboards, guitars, a porch, yes, chocolate cake, guest rooms.. a jukebox with permanently changing vinyl singles. In Wylam I used to buy stacks of scratched vinyl singles for sixpence and listen to the lot. I've just bought a load of French singles in the Oxfam shop and the vinyl album of 'Hair'. Couldn't resist them. So no sandwich for lunch, just a Snickers, which of course will do.
And I have loads of gigs coming up. And the recording went well, but I think it needs a bass line and I made one up when I was lazing in bed this morning looking for motes of dust(there weren't any because it wasn't sunny, but there will be some another day). Great argument against dusting. Imagine inventing a word for specks of dust in the sunshine!
Track six is the best one.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Bo McDiddley

This avo I'm going to Goldtop Studio in Camden to start recording Joby's bit of music. I have borrowed an orange Guild semi-acoustic and I am going to put it thru an Ampeg Reverb Rocket and sound like Bo Diddley, king'o'the swamp rockers. I have a secret ingredient to the music that I recorded this morning.
Pom pom.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sunday sorts of thorts

I woke up this morning thinking of the joys of living life without a map, and where the non-roads lead you. I was going to tell you a negative story about the quantity of people I've worked with who have claimed credit for music I've written (no, not you Carl, we worked together brilliantly well) but that's a bit mean-spirited for a Sunday morning. There's a mega-story but I'll save that for another time.
Got lots of gigs coming up- some with Martin about the country which will be great because he is a diamond geezer, and some strange little unplugged ones- one in a private house in Harlesden, another down the Borough with Katy Carr and Sharon Lewis; possibly Gina will do that one too.
Today is a sort of rest day; I have a lot of little chorelets to do- phoning some lost lost women, for instance- but mostly peering at my pale winter face in the mirror (something I don't do much due to time constraints) and looking at the wrinkles, folds and bags in detail. If it wasn't my face, which makes the sight a little distressing, I would marvel at the collection of battle scars and sorrows thereupon. Actually, I do marvel, even though it is my face. I have had one of the frown lines since I was 20 and I don't mind my increasingly-hooded eyes: it will be brilliant to be a sinister old lady. I shall wear crackly black clothing, stumpy steel-toecapped boots and wallop people who offend me with my furled umbrella. The rest? well, I hope my eyesight deteriorates fast enough so I simply can't see it.
That's enough introspection about the exoskeleton.
Last chance to listen to January in Paris- it gets replaced by the all-new Memento Mori tonight.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Meeting Carl, and meeting Caroline

I liked yesterday.
I was a bit nervous of meeting Carl after 25 years, but it seemed that we should speak face to face if we are going to release this Chefs material. I was wandering down his road looking for the address and I heard 'There she is!' coming from an upstairs window- it was Michelle, his partner, who used to be in Brigandage. So I felt welcome, straight away, and everything was OK. When I saw Carl again, I realised that there was something very childlike that we had in the band- it was still there in Carl and I realised it was still there in myself, too. We talked about how much we used to care about getting our songs exactly the way we wanted them; about how clueless we were- none of us was a leader and we just used to revolve around and around aimlessly; what a good drummer Russell was, all sorts of small things. I am still not sure exactly which tracks we will be using- suddenly, it's become a viable project and there are a lot more opinions around. We will see.
I do feel proud to have been in the band, and of what we managed to do. I was a shop assistant and Carl was a yogurt analyst: what would have happened to us if we hadn't done The Chefs?
Next, I met Caroline Coon at the Dub Vendor. I picked up a couple of good Lover's Rock compilations while I was waiting, and we walked through the Portobello sunshine to the venue where the Lost Women's party is going to be. Caroline is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, and she calls me sweetie, and of course I love that. She found the most fantastic place- an upstairs room with dripply white wax candles, cracked gold walls with treasure embedded in them, upstairs windows looking out on to fifty percent sky and fifty percent Portobello Market, rococo furniture, cruddy statues, the lot. Beautiful, and I could just imagine us all there, talking, talking, talking. Afterwards we went for coffee and cakes in a tiny sweet tea shop, two excited ladies with a plan.
What a great day.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Something about the Spring

I burst out laughing at breakfast time yesterday. I remembered doing Jazz Studies at Art College with a very serious tutor, a frowning, intense enthusiast. I was fascinated to learn about Big Spider Beck, and spent the whole lesson musing about the origins of his name.
Later, I realised we were talking about Bix Beiderbecke, and was, of course, deeply disappointed.
Going to see Carl today and try to decide on some tracks for the reissue CD; Nude Magazine plopped on to the mat just now and there's a thing I co-wrote about the Chefs for them, with a photo in which I now realise I look horrid but who cares- we all have our off days, let's be honest.
Funny to think between the Joby and the Hooligans and the Chefs there was the Smartees, and Martin says the Chefs inspired the Daintees, which were a sort of toffee. I remember them- i think they were in a blue wrapper with a lady in a crinoline with a bonnet. God, I used to eat a lot of sweets in them days- sitting hidden behind a chair next to the storage heater (ugly thing) with The Arabian Nights which I had on almost permanent loan from the library at Prudhoe, wrapped in a blanket with the cat and a massive bag of Cherry Lips which gummed my teeth together in a gooey red cherry mess. Penny arrows (spearmint or banana split), refreshers and sometimes sherbert fountains but do not exhale while consuming or you will sneeze.
Ah yes, and then I'm going to meet Caroline Coon and we're going to look for a venue for the party for the musicians in June. I still haven't managed to get hold of Vi Subversa or the two Dollymixtures I talked to but I'll keep at it.
See you tomorrow, my pretty angels.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

It was interesting yesterday at work

Yesterday at work, lots of people gathered together to talk about what they were writing and music and stuff like that. It lasted for ages, right into the evening. The best one was the last one- this chap was really interested in noise and the fact that a tiny little broken sound signal can be carried over its breaks by surrounding it with noise. His illustration was crayfish in a turbulent rushing stream, being able to hear and sense very small changes in sound even through the chaotic rumblings and splashings of the water. I thought about that all the way home, singing all the while to my worn-out car tape.. 'It's a shay ay ame, the way you messin round with yer man, its a shay ay ame the way you hurtmeeee!!!'.
And it reminded me of going to Deep Sea World outside Edinburgh with McDad, standing laughing at this earnest prawn, crossing from one side of the tank to the other. You see, prawns gallop! There it was with its little beady black eye and near-transparent body, whiskers quivering, and little legs charging away ten to the dozen. You could almost here the cavalry horns blasting away!
Such drama!

I have been awake since 5 a.m.
There is a Bad Cat who comes thru the cat-flap and scoffs the cats' food. When it comes in they run round the house, growling, 'Grrrrr...' in a really feral way. I am sure it is good for them to be scaredy cats once in a while. The problem is, they then get hungry at dawn and they know who feeds them. So up bounced Charlie, with sharp paws (everyone who own a cat knows they can do sharp paws and blunt paws, depending on their intentions); just like a jolly fresh-faced schoolgirl with hockeysticks called Belinda: "Hi, its MEEEE! Time to GET UP this LOVELY MORNING and by the way WHY NOT FEED ME?'
When he realised That Was Not Going To Happen, he stapled himself to my chest with his claws to make sure I suffered along with him.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tom brought round...

... the final mix of Memento Mori, which I like a lot.
I have a few gigs in the pipeline, lots with Martin, whcih I will enjoy; also Katy Carr texted me this morn to say she'd been listening to Songbird all night and she wants me to do a gig at Borough with her in April; I texted her back but she must have gone to bed. What a compliment though- to keep a person up with your music! I grinned from ear to ear and my head fell off.
I am at work. I have bought in a bottle of Champagne that someone gave me for the woman I share an office with. She's not here at the moment. I like her, and she needs cheering up, so I hope it will help. She has very nearly finished doing a PHD and I know the last few weeks are agony.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Lily Allen

Went to see Lily Allen at the Hammersmith Apollo last night; bit of a treat really. It was packed and very joyful- she's great- a little tough woman with a very sweet voice. I'd like to imagine myself her adoptive songmama but I don't sing as well (but nor do I have invisible backing vocalists!). She's got a fantastic brass section, tight as a ducks ass in a sandstorm, and one of those bouncy boomthwack drummers that is a perfect joy to watch. She said she was drunk but I think not- much too good for that although she did make the minor mistake of saying the Specials came from London (I almost sent her to Coventry for that), and she sounded off a little too much about politics; ex-pupils from Bedales possibly don't realise what would happen to the poor people in GB if and when the Cons dismantle the NHS and make them pay 'market rents' for their subsidised housing. But that aside, the music was fabulous, happy, perfectly played and totally uplifting. And boy, can she sing- her voice sounds lightweight on record but she was doing the most amazing swooping glissandos that were totally inspiring. I'm jealous, I'm jealous, I'm jealous!!!
The support band, A Bird and a Bee, were great too- I have to get hold of some of their music; the harmonies were like taking a bath in hyacinth, rose, jasmine, honeysuckle and lily petals all together, and the lead singergirl was a gangly guitarwielding nutcase. Perfect.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Can't stop- a silly man called Mr Firextinguisher has asked to be my Myspace friend.
How dare he have a stupider name than mine?
Meanwhile my stinky dog Blogger has completely taken advantage of my poorly state and has taken to sitting on my lap and gazing into my eyes. He is far too heavy and has a body temperature of a million degrees but I'm too pathetic to shove him off.
Shoo, Blogger, shoo! (no, not shoe, you dolt!)

I've just put a new track up on Myspace, 'January in Paris'; it's a demo for my next album. I'm not in very good voice at the moment, partly thru being a bit under the weather but also because March and April are bad singing months for me because of the Cherry blossom. At a gig in Bournemouth once with the Horns, we went for a walk in the park beforehand. It was full of the most beautifully garlanded white Cherry blossom, but by the time we got to the exit I had completely lost my voice; to me, it was like trying to inhale soup.
Which reminds me: the next night was at Moles in Bath. I had sent the promoter a tape of the band and he called me up to say that not only did he not like the music, he absolutely detested it and no way would he give us a gig at Moles.
A few weeks later we'd done our first Peel session and had a manager (things happen quickly sometimes). He phoned our manager and begged us to play there! And when we did, it was so full, we were squashed flat against the back wall (there was no raised stage), playing all in a line. Brissols came (he was a KIng Kurt fan) and I have an abiding memory of his MASSIVE roofer's boot tapping along in time to the music. Bless!
Yes I did a little drawing for January in Paris.
I'm tussling with another song- bit like pizza dough, stretch it this way and that, fill in holes, biff it, sock it, chuck it in the air, catch it again, and leave to develop in a dark cupboard. It will have cellos and tenor sax, but the lyrics have to be completely perfect because it is a sweet song and I don't want to poison it with saccharine.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

For my tea

Couscous and lemon zest + grated knuckle

Choirmasters Eat Rice Krispies

They do! I've just seen the choirmaster of Barnet Church in the supermarket buying a large pack of Kellogg's Rice Krispies!
Snap, Crackle, Pop!
Now, if I didn't shop local, I'd never have known that, would I?


Don't know why I didn't think of this before- I've given the virus to a computer! I feel a lot better now. Ha ha!
The 'Is This Music' fanzine came today and they have given Suburban Pastoral 4 stars out of five, which is brilliant.
It was dead funny yesterday recording in Tom's new studio- it's a lovely place, really sunny with high ceilings and a wooden floor, no buses going past shaking the house, no sirens, no water pouring through the light fittings when it rains.
But he's new there, and we went to the vending machine to get some water and got lost on the way back- the place is a warren of studios, corridors and stairways. It's so 'proper' -there's a big goods lift with clanking metal concertina gates and trolleys for gear, and a sense of busy people behind each door.
I edited the best parts of Elle's playing and Tom's doing a mix of it, and did a bit of 'January in Paris' which I think I'll put on Myspace tomorrow even though it's a Winter song and Spring is pouring through the windows. And I recorded another new song, Apple. The thing is, evey time I record a song, it makes space for another one to be written. This is what I have discovered.

I would like to play at some festivals this summer. How do I do that?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Sun and laziness

At this moment, I should be out doing errands.
There is no milk, I am hungry and there's no bread and I can't have cereal because there's no milk. I should have gone to the doctors but I'd rather feel ill than sit in that queue, and anyway I'm going to the studio, Tom's new place at The Chocolate Factory in Islington, and I want to just sit in the sun and think about that and some other things that make me happy.
I also started a new song last night, and it's going to be one that is great to write; when the melody popped into my head it told me to spend time over the lyrics 'because I'm worth it'. I'll obey the instruction.
I've just emailed Joby as he's going to go to the Community Library in Brighton and look up some missing details from the Evening Argus; I thought it was a good swap for some music I will write for a mysterious toadstool project he is cooking up.

So I would call my mood comfortable shame; too lazy to feed myself, slumped on a chair in a patch of sunlight, more music on the way, it's Friday, look at the dust-balls on the floor: what the heck?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bobby Moore's Review

Bobby Moore's review for Suburban Pastoral.
It's great, and as the reviewee, I give you ten out of ten for your review, Bobby!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Last night I decided if my surname had been MacPherson, I would have called my first child Person.

Just got back from Headway, the centre for people recovering from head injuries. Monty invited me (Hi Monty!) to perform for his friends there, and I spent a lovely morning singing songs to the group and drinking tea. They asked me about my songs and about playing and music, and I could feel that lots of the people understood what my songs are about. It was a peaceful and calm thing to do in the middle of frenetic London and demands of jobs and things like that, and I floated out of the building afterwards on a sea of smilingness, leaving my guitar behind by accident.
I'm going to go back and do a song workshop for the Friday crew in April when I have finished my book.
Which reminds me, I'd better get started on that again.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Another thing in that encyclopaedia was a story about a little card in the 1970s that said 'Don't drop litter; when you have finished reading this card, please throw it in the nearest bin'.


Reviews, I've had a few...
and the latest issue (but they have put the review in the Commments section of my Myspace). DJ Sonny has sent me the Esquire one but it didn't arrive for some reason... and Bobby's reviewing in the US.
Oh, and a lovely thing- Pauline Black left me a really nice message on Myspace!
What else?
Well, I'm back at work with my little pink bottle of milky fluid from the medicinal cow, Boots (that looks like fun! said a member of my household, so rather than leave it with a felt-pen mark on the side, it's here in case I need it).
Stu Jones wonders whether anyone has a copy of the Chefs' Richard Skinner session.
I saw Naboo on the tube yesterday. He got off at Hendon (seriously! There are nerdier people than me!!)
And sometimes I make myself perspire thinking of the dare game skateboarders used to play in Brighton, zipping under the wheels of articulated lorries as they roared along the seafront road. Might have to go there to look up more references on Monday.
What else?
I am very happy.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Pepto-Bismol and the Encyclopaedia of Ephemera

Bloody virus won't go away; despairing, I went and meeped at the pharmacist in Boots and he sold me a wonderful pink bottle of Pepto-Bismol. I've been carrying it around like a trophy all day- i didn't realise how much I wanted one till I got it!
It took me ages to get to Colindale on the tube to the Newspaper Library- I had three little references from Sounds to complete. But on the way i finished the lyric to a song called Apple; and when I got there, while I was waiting, I found, next to The Shipwreck Index of the British Isles, The Encyclopaedia of Ephemera. What a great book! I found out that in Victorian times, there were things called Long Songs; 50 to 100 ballads all printed on one sheet of paper, sold in streamers from hand-held staves at places like 7 Dials in Covent Garden; apparently when someone made up a new ballad they could be printed overnight for sale the next day, often paid for by a pint of ale, and were often pirated within 24 hours.
And in 1925 the Fez was banned in Turkey, in an attempt to modernise ( i.e. suppress Muslims) and there are loads of unused Fez wrappers around, many of which were printed in Czechoslovakia.
Apart from the microfilm spool whizzing off its spindle and nearly catching me in the face, it went swimmingly well; I'm only three days behind, but need sleep.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Very small new track on Myspace.
Rod's just emailed me to say that Britney Spears is an anagram on Presbyterians! (of great fascination to religious people).

Finnish Student

Last night's dream was't quite so enchanting; I was at school and a Finnish exchange student was telling me off in Finnish for picking my nose.
I sat patiently throughout although I didn't understand a word of it, for verily it is a disgusting habit.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Wizzo Dream

Supposed to be going down the West End in a minute, but had to tell you about last night's dream!
I had a full-size piano on the tube with me to busk with- it was in the gangway between the seats. As the tube train rolled along, I was playing.. then 2 girls got on, wearing retro spectacles, headscarves, short-sleeved jumpers and tweed skirts. They were delighted- they were singers and were looking for someone to play for them. They had their songs with them and we played all the way down the line, till we got to Tottenham Court Road, where I had to work out how to get the piano off the train.
Neat, eh?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Dang Sure

I managed to get to Folk in Cellar to play last night; Little Bruv came along with his Brother-in-Law. Little Bruv thinks that the Cellar's a bit like Scotland; it is, really. There was a Scottish guy playing Irish Pipes and Little Bruv's Brother-in-Law's face took on an expression of total horror when he started up. 'Sorry' he spluttered in his quietest tones, which sent a reverb booming about the room, 'I really can't stand the sound of this. I'm going upstairs'. I was mortified by his subtlety, and had to concentrate hard on the piper for the rest of the set, to make amends.
Brother-in-Law came back down for the next act, a chap with unfortunate lyrics about The Love Glue That Sticks Us Together. Just as I (and I am sure many other members of the audience) reached a conclusion, after a little speculation, about what this might be, I sensed both Little Bruv and Little Bruv's Brother-in-Law reaching it too, and the latter's face contorted into an expression of utter glee. Unluckily for me, I was sitting in the sight-line of the unfortunate chap's girlfriend and I had to auto-Botox my face into an expression of glacial serenity as the two of them grimaced at each other like schoolboys.
Or perhaps it was my imagination... I was practically delirious by the end of the evening but it's such a nice place with such a nice atmosphere I couldn't bear to go home.
And I'm dang sure I didn't imagine those lyrics!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bandisch things

An Ampeg Reverb Rocket has moved into our house from Surrey, and it's sitting here, pompous and Egyptian-looking. I played through it last night and sounded like Bo Diddley, who is one of my all-time guitar superheroes, and that was great; I have some guitar chords that go with the sound and I might make an instrumental....
I did an e-interview for PlanBmag with Everettt True yesterday, too, and this morning I am going to scan over some old Chefs stuff to him to use; I think its going to be in the April issue.
And tonight I'm playing in Camden; I'm still not feeling that well but you don't blow out a gig, do you? Even about 14 months ago, I had an operation on the Monday and did a gig on the Friday. I did have to play sitting down though, like a frail little old lady perched on the bus.
Actually no. Not with a Green Gretsch!