Thursday, May 31, 2007


At last, back in the studio. Martin Stephenson came down to record some guitar and sing on a couple of tracks, which I will put on Myspace at the weekend. I'd been practising the stuff quite a bit and didn't make as many mistakes as usual, so we managed to record 2 of mine and one of his for our album; both of us have written loads of songs but he lives Far North and I live Deep South. Perhaps we just need to yell very loud and buy massive amps and deafen the land between.
Ahh... I've spoken to Woman's Hour about the Lost Women book, but I'm not sure if they will do anything; let's say they are 50% interested at the moment. the celebration plans are going well; I'm trying to decide if I can afford a new dress. I think probably not, but no-one will guess if I wear an old one, especially as they will be looking at my fiendish red shoes anyway. Four bass players are coming- Enid Williams, Tessa Pollitt, Gaye Black and Jane Woodgate. That makes 5, if you add me. I know Gina will come too, actually, so that makes six! Ha ha! Just imagine how much ground we would shake if we all plugged in and played at once! Buildings would tremble, cheeks would wobble and dogs would howl mournfully at the midday sun.
What a thought.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

News Book

What a relief- Tom's back from New York and I can start recording again! Martin Stephenson will be playing on a couple of tracks on my next album, and I almost have enough new songs- in fact, I do, but I'm getting fussy about what's on it!
I visited the chewing gum painting of Suburban Pastoral this morning- it was still there on the pavement by the Courthouse in Normandy Avenue, glistening in the rain and looking beautiful. Barnet Council has ripped up all the paving stones in the High Street and replaced them and all the lovely little paintings have gone. Mike emailed to say that Ben was arrested, so I'll have to find out more about that and help if I can. What a silly thing to arrest someone for- it's art, not graffiti. he's a bit of a laid-back Banksy I suppose- it's not something that can be done guerilla-style with a spray can, it's a laborious process.
My little painting might stay there for a while- not many people have walked on it and I can't imagine them changing the pavement there. It's maturing nicely. Perhaps I should take a picture as it decays and put that on the cover of the next CD.
Talking of decay I'll upload the skeleton hoover later.
There's a house in Bedford Avenue that has been totally neglected for what must have been years- it has plants sprouting out of its windows, rotten frames, overgrown garden, letterbox stuffed with redundant leaflets, you name it. Someone spent all last week clearing it out, and there are things in the front garden including a couple of hoovers; the bag of one has completely rotted away to just a couple of threads, holding up al the solidified dust that had collected within it. Perfect.

Happy birthday Em!
Best illustrator in universe!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Pauls without beards

Well, what a gig last night! Unwisely, I asked the guy to make a DVD and consequently forgot the lyrics of the first song, but managed to get it together after that. It reminded me of the video of Paul and myself playing at the Loft in Berlin in 1990, where each of us messes up a song in turn, and there is no song that hasn't got some lurid mistake on it.
There was a rowdy table in front of us which was a bugger although they shut up after a while; the people who came to see us play ( hiya Helena!) arrived too late and missed us! But I think we made some new mates...
But what I really wanted to do was to write about Paul the Girl- she was absolutely fantastic, and it was great to see those well-fed North-London faces actually sitting at their tables with their mouths open! Attagirl Paul, you really rock and there's a deffo Black-Country rock goddess in you somewhere. It reminded me of the occasion when I took a whole bunch of huge black-garbed chain-bedecked punk rockers to Brighton's premier smooth disco- nobody knew what to do, whether to be impressed, scared, affronted, or just pure interested. I'll bet Vivaviva has never hosted anything like Paul before. She's just SUCH a good guitarist, picker, effects, songs, noise, dynamics, stompin', the lot. Amazing. Afterwards I gave her a lift to the tube with her shopping trolley of effects pedals, which gave me a whole new perspective on shopping trolleys- perhaps those old ladies in the supermarket are secret wizzo guitarists too!

Funny, only a couple of days after the Japanese pirating of Helen and the Horns, Keith from Setanta (used to be The Divine Comedy's label) wrote to see if we'd like to re-release any Helen and the Horns stuff with him. I think I will ask him if he'd like to release the Peel sessions, because we did 3 of them and there is some stuff on them that sounds quite good (I'll leave out the rubbish!).

Oh yes- Paul Davey and Paul the Girl, neither of whom have facial hair.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bens with Beards

There are two Bens with beards that hang out at Utrophia- possibly more but I haven't met the others yet!
I picked up Diana and her sprite, Merlin and we drove down to Greenwich. Things had started up already; the whole place was looking very tidy (strange since they will have to leave quite soon), all painted and partitioned. The spider plants were still thriving though, having taken on the characteristics of vast lion's manes.
The music was great- I don't know which photos to post so I won't post any yet- there was a really good band with a guy yelling and playing a black fur and gaffa-tape covered guitar, with a female drummer who looked fantastic- a bit like Lily Allen'a younger sister, perhaps.
Then Temperatures played, right up high in a warehouse- we had to go out into the delivery yard to watch them. They were fizzing with energy and anger, really really good, the best I've seen them, and even though it was cold and damp they radiated enough heat to keep everyone out there watching them.
I have a photo of them, as well as the girl drummer from the other band. The last thing I saw (I left early and missed loads I know) was a duo called the Children, who I thought were mesmerising. I'd been chatting to the guitarist earlier, and they'd just come back from New Orleans watching marching bands. The duo consisted of him, playing a semi-acoustic guitar, and a woman playing a 5-string semi-acoustic bass. They were incredibly hippyish (of that era, I think, as they were older than me!), but their first song was really good, sort of languid with harmonies and new-age lyrics. They transformed the evening into a happening circa 1968, with the audience sitting on the floor just absorbing them. I potographed them, too- they did look good as the woman had long hair and a little hat and the guy had ginger hair and a yellow duster over the microphone (germguard?). But one of the best things was the way they moved- they obviously do a lot of playing together because they swayed in unison with the same hip movements. Great. You must see them if you can- although they are completely in a time-warp, they take you back there with them, and it's quite an experience.
Utrophia just put on the best nights, always unexpected, a different atmosphere every time, and that rare thing-about-town: unposey fun!
And I have been given the new CD by Shimmy Rivers and Canal, which I shall review as soon as I have bludgeoned my way to the CD player.
Oh yes- I'm playing tonight at Viva Viva in Hornsey High Street, an unusual gig for me as Paul's coming along.
Starts at 8.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Just got back from running through the songs for tomorrow night with Paul.
We're going to play A New Day (first time I've ever done it live)- I lost my voice cos I'm not used to singing so early in the morning. So it's guitar, vocals and clarinet tomorrow, an oldfashioned sound I think.
I got the badges with the Suburban Pastoral chewing gum painting on them- almost too late but at least I can give some to the chewing gum painter next time I see him.
I think I'll go to the Duets gig at Utrophia this evening

Friday, May 25, 2007

Debbi's Lovely Dresses

I took this picture last Saturday of Debbi Little's dresses hanging up in her workshop

Hello Stranger

Well blog, haven't seen you for a couple of days; had a strange week in many ways but that's not the same as a boring one.
I have a gig at Vivaviva in Hornsey this Sunday 27th, which I'm doing with Paul Davey who will be playing clarinet- early morning rehearsal tomorrow morning to see if we can do any new songs. Paul the Girl will be there too, also playing new songs- she has decided to use the gig to try out new stuff and I thought it might be fun if we played on the same night. If you get there before 8 we will have cheap drink and food tickets to give away.
I'm going out for a walk this morning- there's a farmer's market a couple of miles away and I'm going there to get some tomatoes and to take advantage of the sun before it starts chucking it down.
I've had yeses from Tessa Pollitt and Gaye Advert to the Lost Women celebration- wow- two ace bass players under one roof- fantastic!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dog in Car

My car has stoppped smelling of dog. Because it is an ex-disabled-persons-car, I assumed that it had belonged to a blind person and the smell was their guide dog, until I realised what I was assuming.
I was musing on the way to work about the Bay Hotel, Gourock. It was a fantastic venue up the road from Greenock, owned by an altruistic millionaire who booked bands there at weekends and bussed young people up from Greenock, there and back, so they could have a nice time seeing current bands. All sorts of bands did the gig- Carmel, King Kurt, loads. For bands, you got to stay in a really nice hotel by the sea with a shoe-polishing machine and a plopping ice-machine on the landing, a guaranteed audience, pay, and the most fantastic breakfast you could possibly imagine. And free drinks, which led to Helen and the Horns staying up half the night with the trumpet player, Chris, playing tunes on those plastic telescopic plant-watering tubes, and much noisy merriment. My partner and myself got to stay in the honeymoon suite, which is how I know that if you get into a jacuzzi after drinking too much, you throw up.
Stu Jones has sent a link for you to look at:
..and if you read the comment below (thank you hangthedj) and follow the link you will find that a Japanese record company appear to have pirated the Helen and the Horns CD!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Some Silence For You


Sweet Feelings

My current nerdy activity is comparing two recordings of 'Sweet Feelings', a lovers' rock song, one by the Blackstones and one by Paul Dawkins. The Blackstones one has really sweet harmonies and a laid-back summery feel; it's very smooth and soulful and led by the vocals. Paul Dawkin's one seems to sound much more Jamaican, almost like one of the early Bob Marley recordings, and it has a fantastic bounce to the bass drum that makes me feel ludicrously happy. I'd love to play bass in a band with a drummer who played like that!

On the way to work this morning, the Northern Line tube driver made an announcement that made everybody smile, even the grumps: he called us 'You lovely people'. We all suddenly felt lovely, social-worked by a stressed tube driver. How sweet!

And on Friday, I was taking my vandalised car (a pedestrian snapped the wing-mirror off for me on a Sunday afternoon) to be fixed. The traffic halted up ahead and I craned my neck to see what it was. Some mechanics from a local garage had stopped us to let a panicking mummy duck and two ducklings scuttle across the road on to the opposite pavement! It was almost worth the trouble and expense to see a sight like that, especially since the people with the soft hearts were rufty-tufty mechanics in oily overalls, not usually associated with acts of gentleness.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Start the engine, check controls*

I was disappointed the other day when Vi Subversa called from Spain to say she's not up to travelling over for the Lost Women lunchtime celebration. Nothing life-threatening, just lots of boring appointments. I was looking forward to seeing her so very much, by hook or by crook I will get myself to Spain to visit her. She says she has a caravan I can stay in.
Today, I'm going to see Debbie Little- she is a clothes designer and she made the gold suit that I wore for the Voxpop Puella tour that Gina and mydelf did in 2001. I have also got a skirt that she made out of an old parachute. Once I went to see her and she was wearing a beautiful brown silk sheath dress (a sort of Audrey Hepburn thing) with a scalloped hem, a frilly pinny and a pair of slippers. She is just one of the most stylish people in the world, and very funny too. She's the Champagne Friend's sister so I get to see her too- double fun. It's one of those open studio things at the Cockpit in Deptford. I got lost the last time I went to see her and never got there, but will try to be more clever this time.
Then I will be writing out loads of addresses, all the women I interviewed for the book, because tomorrow Caroline and I are going to write out the invitations. She has designed a really good invite, and now's the time to send them off. The book is being printed right now.
As for music- well, I'm looking forward to Tom coming back 'cos I've got itchy fingers- two new songs to record, and a lot of tidying up and re-recording. I think I have enough songs for the next album, but I want to wait a couple of months to see if anything else materialises. Also, we had a really good Song Club session on Thursday- Jamie McDermott from the Irrepressibles has taken Dan's place and I think we were both a bit anxious about whether it would work, but the children took to him staright away, we had written the chorus for the first proper song literally in minutes, the children loved it and learned it and all got carried away on a wave of creative energy that put a whacking great smile on my face for the rest of the day. And in the north of Scotland, Martin Stephenson has been writing songs and in the south of England, I have too. So it looks like that musical collaboration is well on its way too
Time for breakfast.
*Like these little star things? Then here's another one. This title is a lyric from the Song Club's first song about planes and I thought it was a good start to a beginning-of-the-day posting

Friday, May 18, 2007

Java Sparrows and Peach Faced Lovebirds

At art college I had a platonic friend called Simon. He was impressive for two reasons- firstly, he had a strong aroma of freshly-ironed clothing. Secondly, he sat at the table one lunchtime (cottage pie and boiled cabbage followed by a rock bun*) and told me about this great band he'd seen called Joby and the Hooigans with a girl bass player, without realising that the girl bass player he was telling me about was me.
So we became friends.
He liked my birds (Toby the budgie who used to belong to Joby, two canaries and Peter Finch) so much he got himself a Parakeet called God. God flew away one day and Simon cried. He put postcards in lots of shop windows, till one day an old lady phoned and said she'd been riding her bike down the street and God had landed on her handlebars- so he got him back.
We hatched a plan to open a cafe in Brighton full of beautiful birds and we came to London to Palmers Pets in Camden to look.
I fell in love with the Java Sparrows- just like black and white penguins with go-go-gadget boy stretched red legs and feet, and a funny little private squeaky noise that they made between themselves.
And what about those weirdos, the peach faced lovebirds? All in a cage together, they followed each other in line in a one-by-one procession like coloured birdy sheep, along the bottom of the cage, very slowly, up the side of the cage, foot over foot, in perfect synchronisation, up across the underneath of the top of the cage bars, until they were all hanging upside down, and then, very slowly in turn, each bird turned its head round to peer at me and Simon, as though that had been the plan all along.
As I said,

* What rock stars eat- did you know this?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Proper set, tonight

Just heard from the gig tonight- I'm on at 10 pm and playing for 40 minutes- wahey- a proper set!
It costs £5 to get in, come along if you can, it's a lovely restaurant. Just along from the Dublin Castle in Parkway, Camden, 5 mins fro Camden tube

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Green Note Cafe

Tomorrow night (Wednesday) I'm playing at the Green Note Cafe in Parkway in Camden. I'm on some time after 9 pm, not sure exactly when. It's a vegetarian cafe and it's supposed to be very good.
I have put a new song on Myspace, 'Poetry and Rhyme'. It's a lady-in-waiting, because it will have tenor sax and cello on it and a better vocal (an after one pm vocal), but I thought you might like to hear it.
Can't do anything in the studio at the moment because Tom's in New York but he'll be back next week sometime and I can start my recording life up again.

Monday, May 14, 2007


I'm just about to go to pick up a hundred songs to listen to, written by the West songwriters.
Warm ears all week

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Baby boy, I still got sexy freak in me!

Oh boy, I had to review the Eurovision Song Contest!
What a pity the sugar-pink Danish transvestite didn't get through- I rather liked him and his song....
...but we got the fierce Irish song, the Hungarian woman with the excellent voice who sang a song that appeared to be constructed from discarded fragments of every song lyric ever written (bit like those DIY Dylan songs here on the internet), the Lithuanians with a Proper Song, the Greek man with the wobbly shoulders (shakidup, shakidup, bringitdown, LAWDHAVMERCEH!).
What a lot of Goths there were, and what a lot of guitars!
Here's Georgia, Cherie Blair with curls! Sweden, a melange of 'Love Grows where my Rossemary Goes' by Edison Lighthouse (remember that?) and The Sweet, with a dash of electronica to spice it up!
So many of them trying to do a send-up, arrogant grinning buffoons!
Here come the French, looking like children's TV presenters from the 1980s, singing in Franglais!
Germany, all Mack-the-knife, the guy getting over-excited by the 60s vibe and nearly wobbling his head off, bearing an unfortunate resemblance to the butcher at the supermarket counter in his white trilby!
Or what about the tin men from Ukraine, singing the Y Viva Espana of the evening, perfect panto-vision; scary, OTT, with their slightly fascist goose-stepping dance: Hitler youth dressed in aluminium foil?
At last, the UK's vote-catcher. Did they mention your country? Thought not! And what do they have to say to the international community? "Babada, babada!'. Wow! Deep, man!
And the Romanians, trying to outdo them by singing in as many languages as possible in 3 minutes and 45 seconds. Oompa oompa, Romanians!
I liked the Bulgarians with their percussion and gothic wailing!
Oh, that poor Turkish chappie, a singing robin who licked his lips lasciviously from time to time and winced when the decorative fires burst into flame at the end of the song!
Well, got to stop now for the results... I'll leave you with a Russian finale, from by far the best worst song of the night:
My bad ass spinning for you (eh?)
Feel my vibration! Get it!

Electronic Babies

All the teenage girls in our neighbourhood have been given electronic babies to persuade them that it's not a good option to be a single teenage mum.
Unfortunately, the school has programmed the babies to wake and cry at identical moments, and the girls think this is very amusing. They also pick up and channel that rhythm from mobile phones that is so irritating when it interrupts music on the radio or over speakers, so as the girls text each other to complain about the constant crying, another SFX is added to the cacophony.
There are groups of girls wandering round town with big plastic babies in babyslings; does this make their mums electronic grandmas?
I remember when Justin and Colin, those well-known gay interior designers ('now it's time to dress the room') adopted an electronic baby. They fell in love with it and cried when they had to give it back. I thought that was very touching.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Song Club

Yes, Song Club. It happens in a little primary school down the road, and I happen it.
This time around we are writing songs based on a visit to the RAF Museum at Colindale, and we're taking the children there next Thursday to see those huge scary planes with their bombing-mission markers and their thousands of rivets.
I was so knackered after yesterdays session- I'd forgotten what it's like trying to have ten eyes on ten very lively children who have been sitting still all day and who want to bounce around like superballs singing at the tops of their voices. But we managed to write the first song- very spontaneously. We are called the Sky High Song Club, and that's what the song's about. We got the benches out, got felt pen on the floor, drank blackcurrant and apple juice, had a chocolate digestive biscuit, tore some paper, each child went to the bathroom once (or was it twice), took off their sweatshirts, lost them, I forgot their names, didn't shout, lost my voice anyway, we put the benches away, said see you next week, and I came home exhausted.

Eleven Teabags

We used to have really good parties in those houses in Camberwell- mad.
At one of them I spent the whole night talking to my Champagne Friend's best friend from Norwich. She had a bright fluorescent green top on that reflected off her face, and it was fascinating to talk to a green person all night long.
At 5 o'clock we went down to have a cup of tea; the kitchen was full. Some people were going to Brick Lane, others were just hanging out and talking nonsense.
We worked our way through several cups of tea until someone noticed that we could only get two cups of tea out of the massive teapot that had poured tea for ten. It was a complete mystery, which kept us occupied for about 45 minutes until Champagne Friend looked in the pot and discovered eleven teabags. She's been boiling the kettle, shoving in a couple of teabags, and had not thought to remove the old ones.

And then, as we were looking out of the window, the sun suddenly came up- not gradually sliding over the horizon, but pop! like somebody switching on a light bulb.
Never knew it did that.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Do you think his mother meant to call him Levi's, after the blue denim jeans, and couldn't spell?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Strange fruit and an even stranger cardigan

Let's start with the cardigan, my failed attempt at one of those 1950s-style jackety things with a knitted picture on the back. You know, I'm good at the knitted picture part but making the thing into a proper shape, forget it. It has definite 1980s shoulders- urgh- and I have had to pull out one zip (because I bought a dress zip that doesn't open at the bottom) and put in another and I hate sewing. And it is far too short and has a sort of humpy back. And it's so tightly knitted it stands up on its own.
But because I have a weakness for the non-standard one-off, of course I have fallen in love with it and I am defiantly wearing it and defending it against all sorts of pss-taking. It is also incredibly warm, which is great because it's turned incredibly cold. So there.

Fruit? Oh yes, two things about my Sis. She was in hospital once and her friend took her in a bag of tomatoes. Sis loves tomatoes as much as anything, and her friend knew that, and took her just what she wanted.
The other thing was a very odd man-in-a-mac from the Wylam Plymouth Brethren took rather a shine to her when she was a teenager, and marched up the front path with a very nice big bag of freshly-picked Brussels Sprouts to woo her with. Not the best plan, really.
Oh that's enough. I had breakfast with my Champagne Friend in the Wolsey this morning. We were sitting next to a businessman chatting to a French lady. He had a smart suit and a sling across his chest with a very tiny baby in it, who he was feeding with a bottle as he chatted. There was a napkin on the baby's head so it didn't get crumbs on it.

What made me think about the tomatoes is that Sis's friend who took her the tomatoes lives in North Carolina and I might be going there to do some gigs with Martin Stephenson in September. Now that is something to be very excited about, especially if I can get myself on to a plane!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tuesday? Must be museday!

Yes, musings...
Three girls used to travel round the UK to see King Kurt play on a Family Railcard. They were all 14 and 15; one, Zoff, used to dress as Mumgirl, with a headscarf, specs and a big handbag and mumsy skirt. Her sister Laura and a girl called Saffron Aldridge who is now a famous model, were the Girlgirls, who pretended to be her daughters. They never got caught out. Brilliant.
More disguises: when I lived in Willesden, R and L decided to do a very naughty thing. R borrowed a little 50s suit I had and some spare spectacles, and L got dressed up too. They went to Windsor or Slough- somewhere far off, with L's credit card, which she'd wiped her original signature from with lighter fluid, and forged a new one on to. They 'bought' masses of audio stuff with it- a beatbox, a Walkman; the salesman was so delighted he threw in loads of free stuff too- cassettes, batteries and so on. Later, they came back roaring with laughter and spread out their electronic spoils on R's carpet to look at.
R was fine, but L started to have bad luck upon bad luck- everything went wrong in her life.
Finally, someone broke into her flat and nicked everything she'd 'bought'. It was only then that her luck changed and a cloud lifted for her; she told me she was sure she was being punished for instigating such a dishonest thing!
* * * * *
Musicky things- there's a short review in Folkandroots e-zine of Suburban Pastoral.
Think that will probably be the last one- I'm a no-go Mojo person. What a shame, since I subscribe to it: but I'm not bugger enough to cancel it.
Oh yes! I ordered some badges from a company with the picture of the lawnmower that Ben painted on the pavement outside the courthouse in Barnet, and they haven't turned up. I'll have to badger them for them.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Take a walk with me while I ramble on.....

Just thinking how grateful I am to Mike for setting this site up for me- I must go to Offline this month. I haven't been for ages because of book proof gazing and staring, multiple gigs-as-therapy to cope with book proof staring and gazing, and various life complications, both nice and not.
Today's menu consists of a roughly 50/50 mix of ousting a rat from under the cooker (I know you are there, furbag, even if the stoopid cats and even stoopider dog can't smell you) and refining (yes, I am poncy today) a new song I started yesterday, inspired by listening to Arthur Big Boy Crudup (genius). It has a complicated thing in the left hand, which I am going to have to do some serious practicing to get right. Already my fingers hurt, which is something, because I usually play guitar for more than an hour a day. But although I am fairly happy with my fingerpicking (I can usually learn what I need to reasonably quickly), I don't know much about the rockstar boystuff like hammering-on, and I'm definitely crap at doing runs; my left hand is a lazy slowcoach and was hoping to get away with it for the rest of my life. But I've taken it in hand (har har), and it's gonna have to learn some new stuff as I have PLANS that involve becoming a much better guitarist. I've found a postcard with Mahalia Jackson on it and she's there to inspire me, along with a postcard of the Carter Family (Maybelline invented a fingerpickin' style called the Carter Scratch and I think I play a bit like that, having been a bass player and needing those little riffs going on whenever I play). Combine that with Singing Season (I have between June and September to do the best vocals I can of the year) and I hope the new album and any other recordings I do will be a step up from the last one, which, after all, was an accident.
I still want to bring out a vinyl EP befre then with lots of short tracks on it but it costs £600 to press up 300 which is just too much. I know someone who has done a vinyl release before and I think I'll ask her if she knows anywhere cheaper.
I have a distributor now which means that soon Suburban Pastoral will be available on Amazon, but not the Helen and the Horns Etc one, as the record company has gone to ground. I still have some and take them down to Rough Trade when they need them.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


I suppose you can get into your gig with hoovering just as much as anything else, really.
I have just hoovered my room.
Headstocks on all electric guitars, and dusty necks.
Ladyshapes of fiddle with broken tuning peg
Banjo- boy does she look better all shiny! I can forgive that viciously high action that makes her impossible to play! And what a nice resonance when I ran the brush along her strings!
Hofner semi-acoustic bass I used to play in the Chefs- not too grubby.
Spanish guitar, sorry I keep forgetting to play you, mate.
Bookshelves, in between the silly things I can't prevent myself from collecting
Accordion, sorry I never got you fixed petal, give me time and I'll take you down to Allodi's in Lewisham, other side of town, to get tuned and fixed, too expensive at the moment.
Put photos of Chefs and Helen and the Horns on the bed so I don't hoover them up- must remember to scan them later
Under old Electrovoice microphone not worth a thing on eBay unforchly.
Door mouldings, windowsill (this is serious detail, folks, I am not usually so thorough!)
Computer keys- put Archie Bell and the Drells 'Let's Groove' on pause by accident. Starts up again- 'Can't Get Used to Losing You' by Andy Williams, one of the most frighteningly sinister songs in the universe, next to 'Green Door'. Thought about The Beat and 'Stand Down Margaret' dub version, absolutely brilliant, shame it didn't make her stand down.
Harmon Kardon fancy speakers- couldn't get 'em to work until I realised you had to switch them on at the computer. All shiny and space-age now although I can't get the bits out of the middle of the bass speaker- howja do that? Boom boom boom.....
Finally the vaccuum cleaner turned on its back like a turtle and died.
What a relief.

I have hidden the last Walnut Whip from everybody, and when they are busy I'm going to go and eat it.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Oh All Right Then

One last posting. The Last Post.
Uncle James won a piglet in a raffle in Wylam.
He lived in Leicester, so he gave the piglet away.

Chatting Away to Blogger

Well, the thing is, you're such a good listener- and you never interrupt!

My friend Joan makes brilliant films. She's going to Lancashire where a farmer has a meadow that's just right for filming in: all the grasses and weeds are in a perfect tangle; the film involves a moss bikini and a wooden hare made in Poland. A man with a massive collection of vintage cars is the cameraman. If I was a film-maker, I'd make a film about Joan making the film. It would probably almost be as good as Joan's film.
But I'm not a film-maker.

Suburban Pastoral got reviewed in Wearsthetrousers e-zine (you should have a look, it's great). The reviewer made a big deal out of my middle-aged-housewifeness and I felt a bit hurt until I remembered that that is exactly what I am. But I am a lot of other things too. It reminded me of The Chefs, when we made a big thing of our simplicity and I overheard a guy going into one of our gigs saying 'That's the band with the little girl in, isn't it?' to his friend. Somebody has to big up the ordinary in this world of superstars, Kate Mosses, Posh Spices, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstalls, the cross chef who shouts a lot, and so on. Everybody is making such a cacophony, whispering has a great appeal.
At least the reviewer said I could sing!

(Joan's brother in law Marlon rode a motorbike and died five weeks ago on the M25 when a lorry jacknifed. At his funeral on Wednesday, 300 Harley-Davidsons turned up and closed Enfield town centre. What a fantastic send-off for a lovely bloke.)

Twee-but-true: the story of Freight Train

I wrote Freight Train while I was walking up the road with a bagful of laundry that I'd just washed at the launderette at the bottom of Chatsworth Road, in Kilburn. That's why it has a pace like that- left/right/left/right, walking speed. When I got to the top of the hill where our house was, I got to the bit of the song where there ought to be some sort of solo. There was a tree in our garden where a blackbird used to sing its heart out. It was there, singing its usual song, perfectly in pitch with what I'd been writing in my head.
So the song was completed by a bird.

Next: the West songwriters did themselves proud on Thursday, I was absolutely delighted by their lovely music and also their dignity.

Next: I have finally read the final final final proofs of the book, and now will be able to catch up with lots of people I haven't seen for months. Watch out, everybody!

There are grand plans afoot for songwriting projects, and also Song Club starts up too this week, with Jamie taking over from Dan. Next week I also hope to finish Joby's soundtrack with Pete's weird sound toys on it, and then I'll begin to finish the next album!

P.s. hello blogreaders from Birkenhead!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Should Crap Spellers Write Blogs?

This has been taxing me. I re-read yesterday's posting and was ashamed at my spelling errors.
It's because I write this at stupidly early times (6.30 this morning)
Anyway, enough self- fgallietation!
The Mayfest at East London was great- it was so sunny and people just hung out and ate ice creams (2 in my case). The East songwriters did a short-but-sweet set; they were very nervous but I know they felt really glad they had done it afterwards.
Today, I am spending all day with the West songwriters.
Lucky, inni?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Songwriters Anonymous

This was at a different place to last time but it had a very similar 'vibe' man- very informal, comfortable chairs. As I got there, Nev was singing and telling everyone about his Jennifer Jones collection on Myspace (that's the title of one of his songs). Two women sitting next to me were singing along. This seems to be the new thing and it's lovely- at Katy and Sharon's gig a few weeks ago everyone was joining in as they picked up the songs... informal.
Next was a guy called Eddie's Brother, who did comical songs with some fantastic guitar playing; he had a very relaxed and casual playing style but he knew what he was doing with them chords. The songs were very funny except for the last one which was not one for a rabid feminist's ears, being about women leaving hair all over the house and liking shoes. Men like football and fart, don't they?
The best one was Harry Cheeseman, who had a shaky start but not only writes really good songs (they sort of reminded me of the Monochrome Set but with less arty lyrics) but has an incredible voice that probably has Elvis turning in his grave. Huge, deep, powerful and very mature for a young chap. Luckily, he didn't make any attempt to look like Elvis, because he had long hair. But if I was a nice record company (they don't exist, unfortunately), I'd give him an island in Scotland and tell him to go off there and write 15 albums. I was very surprised to see someone so much a cut above the normal singer/songwritery person on a Tuesday night in King's Cross. very rough around the edges, but very good.

Well, I actually really got into my gig, too. I was just in the perfect mood to live the songs. Nev asked me to cut the set a bit short because it was all running late but as I was playing I heard him exclaim 'Good Songs' and he came up and asked me to play a normal set after all. I managed to play Poetry and Rhyme all the way through, so I havegot you, you difficult song. and singing came easy and my throat didn't attempt to strangle me as it does sometimes.
It was a good evening. Nev chooses good acts.
Pete, nice to see you again, and also Ian from Nude Magazine and your friend who likes the Chefs. Gabriella was there too- must mean Katy is away somewhere.Nother busy day at Docklands work today, but it's sunny and I am happy.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Gig Tonight

Playing tonight at Songwriters Anonymous, The Cross Kings, 126 York Way, King's Cross
Nev's a good promoter, things run on time. I'm on at 10.30.
By the way, I spent yesterday afternoon clearing a stinky mouse's nest from a cupboard under the sink. What's wrong with me cats?
Coincidentally, Martin Stephenson had just told me a poem he'd written about a mouse in Scotland.