Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jumpin' Hot Club Gateshead Gig Review

Here is a link to a review of the gig in Gateshead that Martin did a couple of weeks ago:


I marched the whole march, but retired when they disappeared into a very crowded square, rather Pied Piper-ish for me... but here are some photos. There were lots of children; it was a well-spoken and well-dressed march. One mummy had a notice on her baby-backpack that said 'My mummy says I shouldn't lie'.

Big Thanks

Big Thanks to Martin for rustling up the Scottish and Canadian crew for the e-gig last night! x

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Stageit Show

That was a huge laugh!!! My computer crashed three times beforehand and I had to switch it off to cool down. It go so overheated that its battery has swollen up and burst through its casing (pregnant? let me know if you want any computerlets).
Thank you to anyone who signed up and watched, I really enjoyed the running commentary and I'm sorry I missed the encore button, I was busy singing!
I'm ready for a party now... guess I'll just have to pick up that gee-tar and serenade the duck hairdryer and the big spoon (in-joke)!


Help! This was not the plan! Four, five teenagers here with prom dresses in bin bags, hair spray, Beyonce blasting, cloppy shoes and excitement.
What about Mother's internet gig?
I shall have to sweep them aside with the yard broom!

Getting Ready

I haven't tidied the kitchen yet... as usual I'm prevaricating.
What if McMum phones halfway through? Or Offsprog Two comes back from the prom early with a bunch of noisy pals?
I might wear my new lime green and white pointy shoes, even though you can't see 'em!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Link to Voiceprint Blog about Tomorrow Night's Concert


What will David Cameron be doing when we are living off our reduced pensions after we retire at the increased age of 68, with zero savings because we are contributing so much more each month?
Will he be living as above?
No, for he is married to an heiress and he will be living off his wife's inheritance.

It's Cool in the Co-Op!

From out of the muggy heat I drifted into the Co-Op in search of potatoes.
It was dimly lit, and cool.
A feeling of unexplained melancholy overcame me as I sloped around, looking for bargains.
What could it be?
It was an aeolian chord, a minor seventh, produced as a constant drone by the air-conditioning system, kind of disturbing and comforting at the same time.
Almost as though Eraserhead had blended seamlessly with the Stepford Wives in a practical and real-life environment.
I thought about retuning the air-conditioning system to a jazzy major seventh, a chord that would raise positive expectations in their customers, causing them to pile special offers into their wire baskets at a rate of knots.

I found the potatoes, by the way.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Flies and Slugs

Gina is playing a Ladyfest in Paris next weekend, and showcasing a whole set of new material.
Ladyfest audiences are very supportive, so I can't think of a better place to do it.
Shamed by her activity, I realised that since my computer gave up the ghost, and then in fact reclaimed the ghost, I haven't done a single recording so I spent an hour this afternoon trying to record and finish a song, the rough version of which is on Reverbnation (look to your right and you will see the player to have a listen if you want to).
As it plays, I have been singing harmonies so I guess it's not finished. I also had to re-learn Garageband (how do you switch on the monitor when you are recording the guitar? I had to just listen out to what I was playing) which has become little more sophisticated since I last used it but now has a very useable equaliser.
I started recording another one and my imagination went wild thinking about girls-group harmonies, but it got too humid to carry on and I demolished half a tub of ice cream instead.
Offsprog Two is stuck in a traffic jam at Stonehenge. I have made a ton of food, although she merely sent a text saying 'Cheese'. I have some of that too.
Flies the size of bulldozers have lost their way and come into the house to ask for directions. Flattening myself against the wall to avoid them, I point mutely to the door, but they are apparently only capable of buzzing in spirals until they hit a window, at which point they 'Ahem!', and set off again in another blundering direction.
I can't decide which I like least, flies or slugs.

What's the Big Idea?

I have been pondering the concept of the Big Society especially living as I do in Barnet, that most Conservative of boroughs.
Our Council leader (maybe he's an ex- now?), Brian Coleman, is thoroughly spiteful. He appears on local TV with a dull, bored-with-it-all expression and a mean mouth. I think someone did something really horrid to him when he was a boy, because his policies reek of revenge and dislike.
The Arts budget in Barnet has all but disappeared, and out parking charges have more than doubled (£40 to £100 in one fell swoop) so those of us who don't have driveways and garages are now subsidising the wealthy who have.
It is in this part of Greater London that one would expect the Big Idea (sorry, Big Society) to flourish.
Alas, I beg to challenge!
About ten years ago Offsprog One attended a Girl Guide troupe run by a very kindly, but elderly and infirm couple, who did their level best to provide a very exciting experience for the girls: outdoor barbecues, visits from a bat shelter person, plus bats; bring-your-own-pet day (a miniature horse turned up), all sorts of things.
From the mums who dropped off the girls, they tried to recruit helpers.
Did they manage?
I rather grimly watched the well-turned-out mummies with their Daily Mails tucked under their arms and their critical sneers disappearing in their big four-be-fours, leaving me and sometimes a very pleasant German mum to do the honours, every week. I had a full time job and another daughter, but I became a chaperone (when they went to camp in Dorset with a male minibus driver), music tester, Scottish dessert maker, washer upper, whatever was required, every week. I took my other daughter with me, as there was no-one to look after her at home.
I would not vote Conservative in a million years and for a million pounds and I deeply resent their attempt to co-opt voluntary work as part of their policy.
When I was married I felt it was my right and pleasure to help people out. Now I am not, and things are more pressing, I still want to retain this right as an independent person.
the Arts should be funded, and so should any organisation that helps vulnerable people, from babies, though children, teenagers, all the way through to elders.
Who should pay?
Those guys in the City, please!
Rant over.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Utrophia: Evening Off Photos

This vehicle played lovely jangly tinkly music from a variety of tubes, cymbals, wheels, poles and a pair of upended garden edging shears that rhythmically clacked their blades like a toucan with a rivet eye.
There was lots to see, and lots of people seeing it!

Evening Off, Day Off

On the evening off, I went to the Utrophia closing-down party with my Champagne Friend. It was lovely to see the guys again and we enjoyed Mu's animation and the automated truck (photos to follow).

Today, my brothers and Sarah and niece met up to go to the Woolwich Arsenal Fun Day, an odd Army 'celebration' with automated guns, a plastic horse, a tank to climb in and out of aided by a tank soldier, burgers served by some very rufty-tuffty men who looked as though they would rather be barking commands at the beef patties rather than sandwiching them between buns, a deflated hot air balloon, fairground rides, a salsa band, and various Tudors wandering round (and Robin Hood).
An obliging hog lay on a trestle table being sliced at enthusiastically by more soldiers, and the General Public ( or should that be, Corporeal Public) pottered about en famille (just like us, I suppose) waiting to be recruited or whipped up into a frenzy of excitement by a half hearted clown called Iggy Piggy (I think). It felt like walking on to another planet for the afternoon: distinctly odd.
To be fair, I don't think it had really started up yet. I suppose I'd been hoping for shiny marching bands rather than a field full of trucks (what on earth was the bin lorry doing there?) fuming away in the humidity. It was hot if you had your coat on and cold it you didn't; strange weather!

After about half an hour, I think we realised that the event didn't have a heart to it and we wandered off, catching a bus to Greenwich and deciding to have lunch at a posh restaurant called Rivingtons, which was actually really nice. Highlight of the day was dipping chips in garlic butter (I was going to say 'Eat your heart out, high cholesterol', but that would be a bit morbid!).

Friday, June 24, 2011

Proof Reading

Four solid hours with one five-minute break! Now I will put it aside until tomorrow when I will write up the corrections and send them to the copy editor.
Where's that ice-cream?

The Avett Brothers

I will do a proper review when I have finished proof reading!

In Which God Steps In To Prevent Prevarication

The printed-out proofs of my book sat humming with urgency in a bag in the living room.
Nonchalantly, I made a cup of tea and took it back to bed with a bowl of cereal.
I was struck with a song idea:

The world and it's brother, it stands on your shoulders
To try to reach the sky
But don't cry
Annie, don't cry

'I think I'll sing that into my phone so I don't forget the melody'
So I did that.
And then I thought of some unusual chords (for me, anyway) and I hoisted up my guitar and played them into my phone, all ready for a lazy songwriting session instead of doing what I should have been doing. After all, what is more important, creativity or...


The phone plopped right into the centre of the remaining milk in the cereal bowl, covering itself in sugary yuk and demanding rescue on pain of death and cleaning and restoring to its former glory with materials that were not at hand.

So now I am Up, with the proofs beside me (but not yet out of their bag), prevarication well and truly stymied.
Or maybe, grrrl.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Walk Through Hyde Park And A Commute Home

I walked through Hyde Park this evening, which was a symphony of parakeets' screeches and whooping poilce sirens. Big old trees are thriving on a diet of centuries of dog crap and they loomed majestically out of a carpet of bright green rain-sodden grass. 
I chose one with a crooked pit of flattened branches to sleep in if I got accidentally locked in. I got lost, but I liked the feeling.
The Marble Arch Corner was full of pigeons whose ziggy-zaggy mating walk was much more important to them than the damp squib of the thudding rock concert that was failing to challenge Glastonbury.
I walked from Primark to Selfridges, the metaphorical walk of the upwardly-mobile Essex girl.
On the way home the rumble of the tubes thundering through tunnels could have been the sound of hell, like those terrifying vaccuum lavatories in planes. This is the time of a hot summer day when all of us are at our most identical, all glazed with a sheen of perspiration, each one of us sporting twin frown lines forking between our eyebrows, expressing our city stress as we scan fellow passengers for signs that they are going to vacate a  precious seat.
The picture shows some very fancy gilded railings, and some very un-fancy orange plastic ones that look as though they have been placed there purely to spoil the effect of the fancy ones. That's London for you!

Lucy O'Brien's New Blog

The author of She-Bop, the Bible of women musicians' history, has just started blogging here:
She has a lot of interesting stuff to say, so check her out!

Link to Stageit Show Next Wednesday 8.30 p.m.

Thanks to Val Phoenix for alerting me to the fact that I hadn't booked my showtime!
It's a half hour show netcast from my kitchen
Here is the link:

Sorry About The Gobbledegook

Rest assured, that will be the last time that I attempt to blog live!
It was very well-received gig and I can see why they are so popular: the Avett Brothers hit the spot with their audience, who treasure them rather than worshipping them.
I did indeed rise at 5.30 a.m., go to the front door and hand over a pair of wellies to Offsprog Two. Now I am at work, having done an economic micro-calculation and worked out that it cost less to drive here (50 mile round trip) and print out my book for proof-reading, than it would to print it out at home.
I hope this is the last leg of what I have to do for the book; its pages are emerging from the printer, complete with photographs, and it is looking rather beautiful. The typeface is delicate and the photographs have been printed in high definition. It is, dare I say it, stylish.
Now it's time to reply to the email backlog which has piled up for the last two weeks, roasting in the heat of my office while the sun taunts me by sending shafts of brilliance into the atrium next to my internal window.
'Think of the peas!', I tell myself, picturing the delicate pods with faint dots inside them. They grow so quickly you can almost watch them doing it.
Off on a prevaricatory reverie, I remember the moment of passing through a field on the way to Poly Styrene's funeral; from the train window a white chalk man spread his limbs over the dull green of the downs, simple and ancient. A white horse stood in a field next to the railway, nodding its head to some internal rhythm.
We turned a corner and there, lit up in the cold spring sunshine, was a feast of baby rabbits almost transparent in their newness. The sun lit up the fuzz on their arched backs and shone straight through their papery ears as they nibbled the sparse grass.
I do not identify myself as English, but I cherish the moments when England reveals it's Green and Pleasant Land.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Overwhelming audience response to that one actually. The other people in thaw audience liked it too!
Their roadie wears a tie!
They are playing a song called Laundry Room.
Lovely interplay between the banjo and the acoustic guitar
the cello sound is just like a pedal steel guitar, played in a higher register than normal.
This is one of the best songs in their repertoire, with a subtlety of melody and emotion. Even tough the audience seem to prefer the on/beat stompers, I like this one best.
They are in the wings. The headstock of a guitar poked out just mow. The crowd can sniff that they are there: they have just cheered.
The lights have turned. Blue... The house lights go down,,, YAaaaH! Shout the crowd. C C C strums the guitar
yes the sound is there
Spindly and wiry they strum their way through the first number. The baki player charges up to the drum riser, challenging the drummer to a duel
in with a bang!
What a well-rehearsed band they are, confident without being cocky.
The cello player had practically sawed his now to bits and it's only the second song. I know this one... Sorry no titles and names, Im sure someone else is tweeting them!
This band are dramatic, telling their stories with their bodies and hands as well as their voices.
Offsprig Two has locked her rellies in the house and also her key.
I will be rising at 5 to let her in.
Pop. Gping to stop blogging and watch.
Lots of striped shirts, checked shirts and beards (men)
Dry ice has started to appear tobtge left of the stage, lit up by shafts of red light against the black backdrop of the stage.

Live Blog: Avett Brothers at Shepherds Bush Empire

The double bass is snoozing on it's side on the Sargent and the drum kit is twinkling; thectiadues have already tested the guitar. A black towel lies folded on a speaker, waiting to absorb star's perspiration. A tall man has just settled in front of me. Hands grasp flimsy plastic glasses of scummy beer- rows and rows of them.
We are waiting...

A Strange Time

This is a strange time: my youngest child is about to leave home and I have a vista of life ahead to explore and populate.
I have been a single Mum for a few years and this means that battles and triumphs have had an intensity that they might not have had, had I remained married.
I have no idea how my Offspring feel about me, but I love them both very much.
I now have to work out  balance between showing that I care and that I love them, and leaving them alone to get on with things because they are now adults. What a tightrope! I have seen both extremes, of yoo-much-leaving-alone and interfering-beyond-requirements, and will have to negotiate a route that doesn't veer too much in one direction or another.
Imagine being able to watch what I want to on TV! Only my own mess to clear up! The washing machine will remain silent for the better part of the day! Refused food will not clog the fridge and shoes will not clog the floor! The house will no longer quake as the front door slams!
But the delicacy of conversation between two people behaving as adults for the first time will be confined to phone calls, and unexpected dinners will  not be waiting on the cooker after I've had a hard day. There will be no flocks of parrots (sorry, groups of friends!) yelling with laughter in the kitchen and treating me as though I am their Mum too. Surprising drawings will no longer appear on the table and the mutual rant at the early evening news will be silenced.
I have raided the library for books to see me through the silent summer, and I am looking at Martin's schedule to see when I can visit him. Maybe I'll become a virtuoso guitarist (maybe not!). Maybe I will write another book (definitely not!). Probably I will do a lot more drawing, and go out to art galleries more.
I think.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Relaxing at the Songwriting Weekend With Strange Leaf

Photo by Martin Stephenson

Stage It

I have an online gig on Wednesday 29th June at 8.30 p.m.
It's at and you have to register with them to hear it.
I will be webcasting from the kitchen!


I have been at a conference all day, one that was hugely stimulating but also hugely knackering. The one sour note was a panel member who joked twice about the hangover he got last night while hanging out with one of the other male panel members, a bit of man-chumminess and power-assertion that I didn't particularly enjoy.
It was attended by a group of people who work for arts organisations all over the UK and it was like being able to look through a door into an upstairs room that had previously been forbidden. I have learned a lot, and I enjoyed talking to every person I talked to, whether museum director or artist-in-residence. Brill.
In a five-minute break I listed all the things I haven't done.
I am two days late with peer-reviewing some conference papers, and I have to proof-read the entire book before Monday as well as marking someone's Masters Thesis. I am actually really pleased (shame!) that rain is forecast for the next few days. The Offsprogs will be Glastonburying and I shall either work at home or in a library somewhere until it is all done, slurping tea and sniffing the biscuit crumbs at the bottom of the biscuit jar as I try to lose my spare tyre.
The Offsprogs don't mind the rain idea, having found last year to be too hot and dusty.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sorry about mis-spellings in the last post, auto correction at play asi'm posting from the phone.
Joke: what sort of mobile telecommunications does a Geordie use?
A why-aye phone.

Songwriting in Scotland

It's possibly been the best ever Songwriting Weekend! With the usual wacky cast of charaters, including some familiar faces from a couple of years ago, we took a stream of songs from a title or an idea to a completed concert in the space of a day, helped by the occasional foray into the rainy greenery of the hotel grounds. People who weren't expecting to write dongs suddenly did, and people who had been coming along for years suddenly blossomed, confidently singing their new compositions with their companions joining in for the choruses. There were lots of funny moments: the chap who told us he had minimal lyrics, missed a chord and yelled 'F*ck!', which at least 90% of the audience assumed was what he had meant by s minimal lyric; Liz's dog Dylan erupting into wriggles as we sang a mass group version (18 guitars?) of 'Down By The Riverside'. We tucked into leathery steaks or porridgey risotto, depending on whether or not we were vegetarian, but alas thus year there were mo profiteroles with sour cream (we imagined the box bring delivered and left on the back step for too long in the sunshine, before being re-frozen and served up over a period of five years). There were do many good songs it's impossible to single out but bravery awards go to Berni, Laura and Jine for writing and performing their first ever songs- and to Hugh for the same. John entertained us yet again with 'The Conjuror Sawed My Wife In Half', Liz with 'Internet Love'; Alan gallantly held up the music stand for Tim (who had joined Martin and myself for 'Freight Train') before returning to his seat to hold down the chords for Steve to strum as they shared a guitar fir the last song of the evening, 'Will the Circle be Unbroken'.
This evening I am knackered and so is Martin, but in a good cause. Thanks millions to Andrew who organises these events with such efficiency, tact and diplomacy, and roll on next year!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Show at Sir John Cass

I have always loved the smell of art colleges: painty, inky, pencilly, gluey. Not for them the office-like neatness of grey contract carpet and pale beige computer monitors. I love the comforting grubbiness and the sense of ideas in transition.
Maggi's work is timely and apt, based as it is on the doublethink and veiled horror and ugliness if the nuclear industry. Radiation leaks at Windscale? Rechristen it Sellafield and the public will forget the drastic consequences of the invisible menace. In Maggie's largest paintings, the nuclear plant looms out if a fog of... Fog? Smoke?
Blood-like paint dribbles down the canvas, truth squeezed out of the tightly-managed public persona of British Nuclear Fuels (if that is stili it's name).
Elsewhere, postcards of her paintings are backed with disturbing information about the lies if the industry and it's consequences for wildlife and the essential food chain.
I enjoyed the exhibition if the final year work, and then it was concert-time.
The audience was small, select and appreciative; it felt like a house-concert or a Ladyfest because people asked me things in between songs. Th informality was perfect for a teatime gig (and it was lovely to see you Claire!).
Apols for bad spelling but I'm travelling and being auto-corrected into all sorts of interesting spasms of language!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Songwriting Weekend in Dumfries

Ah, madness, madness: lyrics, music, voices, but chiefly, madness!

Vegetable Soup

Whenever I make vegetable soup, the compost heap springs to mind and I end up throwing it away.
Sir John Cass this avo.

Chefs News

I am still negotiating... the double CD, which should feature all our BBC sessions and all the Attrix songs plus two never-before-released songs should be out later this year. What a complicated business!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

John Cass

I am playing a  free teatime gig at the Sir John Cass School of Art in Whitechapel tomorrow at 5.30 p.m.
My friend Maggie Learmonth is exhibiting her final year show, and she invited me to perform. I'm looking forward to it!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

OH NO!!!

OH NO!!!! Favourite yellow mohair jumper in wool wash... has turned to felt!!! And the front has stuck to the back!!!! OH NO!!!!! And it has shrunk to fit a mouse!!!!!

Misheard in Gateshead

'Let's have it, Big Phil!', called Martin at the Gateshead Town Hall gig on Sunday.
'There's no-one called Big Phil in the band', I thought to myself; 'What on earth is he going on about?'
Just then, Kate the drummer played a big fill across the drumkit. Oh yes, I see.
Travelling by train, I have often admired the railside garden of wild flowers at this time of year- toadflax, rosebay willowherb, flowering nettles.
This time, the A1 was displaying swathes of beautiful colour: poppies, ox-eye daisies and yellow rape that had escaped from cultivated fields.From the car they looked like pointilliste paintings, dotted clouds of colour and white for mile upon mile.

Another quirky natural moment caught my eye in Sheffield as we sat upstairs in the pub: in the cavity  wall of a house opposite, a pair of sparrows had nested. Mr and Mrs were squeezing through a tiny crevice to feed their invisible brood. The wall, of a new-build house, looked entirely innocent until the spuggies appeared and disappeared into it, only pausing for a brief lookout when they emerged again.

Ah, the joys of nature.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Teatime Show on Thursday

Next H McC gig is on Thursday in the East End opposite the Whitechapel Gallery.
It's free and you get to see the 3rd years' final show at the Sir John Cass School of Art

Showtime: 5.30 p.m.

Venue: Sir John Cass School of Art
Address: Whitechapel, London, HRT, TBC, UK
Details: This is a free concert in aid of the 3rd Year Fine Art students' show.
Located opposite the Whitechapel Gallery at Central House E1 7PF
Aldgate East tube


Where do Hip Cats live?
Stoke Mewington.

Gig, Greystones: Pics by David Lelievre

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Great gig lunchtime Gateshead Town Hall... The Daintees 9.45 same place tonite

Sold Out in Sheffield

It was everyone's local, and they all came along. Promoter Andy Whitehouse and his partner had made us home made curry, and Andy began the evening with a set of distinctive songs to a good reception.
Martin and I had plundered T K Maxx in Sheffield and I was wearing a 1950s style top with Daisies in it, very apt. Because there were minors in the audience (I misunderstood it as miners and looked around for burly men with blue coal-stained fingers) there was no bar in the room, which meant an audience of listeners not bar chatterers.
Martin played a red Stratocaster as the Yiari is being re-fretted, and as a consequence he managed to sound like an entire band of Daintees all by himself. Song of the night was Slaughterman.
We'd rehearsed the Cannonball Rag together and played that at the end of my set; at the end of his we played Hamilton Square and Freight Train.
It's been lovely in Sheffield. We stayed in a hotel in the countryside and yesterday watched a little Tree Creeper whizzingcapva massive tree. I thought it looked like a mouse. "A mouse with wings", said Martin.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Bear Went Over The Mountain

Keep thinking I'm on top of it all, then another peak that needs to be scaled appears.

Sheffield Tomorrow

I'm off to Sheffield tomorrow, Green Goddess in tow, to support Martin.
I want to play my new song but it hasn't got a title and the bridge is still dodgy. It's in my head the whole time.
Never play a song if you can't get across the bridge!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Messthetics Review (Can't Find Hash Key) 108 South Coast DIY

Well, you know for someone like  me this is totally evocative- listening to the Objeks again, I could almost be in the Vault listening to Negative Conversation; the recordings are authentically true to their live performance. And that speed-and-sincerity thing, exemplified by Again and Again's Wrong Again.
And that running bass-line in Poison Girls' Cat's Eye. We were inventing our own way to play instruments rather then kowtowing to what the music industry wanted. The music industry for us was the people who came to our gigs, many of them in bands themselves. It was a tidal wave of activity; you would move through one song to another without noticing, barely catching them on recordings.
Ah! Here's Air Conditioning by The Lillettes: they played this at the Punkbrighton Alldayer last October and it sounded just as good.
Renaldo and the Loaf have reinvented electronica in their Frankenstein's laboratory, where someone has been listening to reggae and insisted that it has a place here in this mix of the song Scottish Shuffle! I think this is my favourite track.
There's a version of Commander Lonely by The Chefs, a song that I wrote while in a rather dismal frame of mind.
I think a lot of bass players on this compilation were probably borrowing the same Ampeg amp, which was rolled generously from town to town and gig to gig. We had all been listening to The Monochrome Set, you see, and secretly coveted Andy Warren's sound (and his cool, but we couldn't manage that at the seaside).
The only thing that's missing is Smeggy and the Cheesey Bits's Stephen Was A Mod.
Oh, and Fan Club, too, but I gather they were hard to track down. Pete is a street person now, and Dave works as an office cleaner. A couple of years ago I played the Komedia with the Horns and Dave had been cleaning an office and found a copy of the Brighton Evening Argus with my picture in it and a blurb about the gig. He phoned the venue and I put the treasures on the guest list, and they both turned up for the gig. I was delighted to see them and we had a fantastic chat.
I had a tape of their beautiful song Moonbeam unitl they came to a party at my house in Camberwell and ran off with it. I do still have their vinyl 45, Night Caller, which is a Velvet Underground-ish romp through the dark streets of Brighton, and also an ancient red and green cardy which they dug out of one of their many bin bags of clothes and gave to me one night when I was round there for a cup of tea.

Out on Chuck Warner's label, see

Mary Hopkin

The blackbird out on the chimney pot two doors down is singing Knock Knock, Who's There?, a song that was a hit for Mary Hopkin many, many years ago.
Has someone been playing him guilty secrets songs from their iTunes?

Dusted Review of Messthetics No. 108

Here is a really interesting review of South Coast D.I.Y. Messthetics:

Domestic Day

Not always fun, but today was OK. 
I made an apple and ginger cake and some cheese scones for Offsprog Two ((I'm supporting Martin in Sheffield on Saturday) and tied up the potatoes and raspberries which were straggling all over the yard.
Commander Lonely, the track by The Chefs on Messthetics 108 got played on Radio 6 on Monday evening (thanks for letting me know, Ian) by Gideon Coe and I am going to send him some exclusive tracks soon, when The Chefs Compilation is more imminent (b*gger the hiccups).
I still haven't got round to listening to the whole CD to review it, but I will. Currently I am tiptoeing around Offsprog Two who is revising for her 'A' Levels and who has camped out in the whole house, carpeting every available surface with books, little lined cards with notes, banana skins, pens and nail polish remover, all apparently essential for passing exams.
The vegetables pose here for a photograph. They spent ages in front of the mirror getting their look just right. Such narcissism! Such vanity!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Round Trip

Two marks were missing from the electronic marks list. They were not on electronic essays, but on pieces of paper in my office at work.
Today I made a 40-mile round trip and foraged through a pile of essays to find them, switched on my computer (there's time to have a coffee and go to the post-room while it 'warms up' because the system is so slow), typed in the marks, and went home.

In the spirit of wasting a day, I spent the afternoon putting all my CDs in order. The toppling piles fell over several times, but they are now in A-Z order with compilations in their own section, and I am looking forward to listening to:

Horace Andy
Etta Baker
Ivor Cutler
Destiny's Child
Franz Ferdinand
Marvin Gaye
Phil Harris
The Irrepressibles
Louis Jordan
Janet Kay
Lotte Lenya
The Monkees
Tito Puente
Quiet Village
The Raincoats
Martin Stephenson
Shirley Temple
Rachel Unthank
Van Morrison
Muddy Waters
X-Ray Spex
Yma Sumac
Zap Mama

Yes, yes, I know, Van Morrison should be an 'M', but at least I only have to look in two places if I don't find them the first time around.
I have sections with girls-with-guitars compilations, French music, Salsa, Rockabilly (though most of that is on vinyl, with the Disco 12" singles), Northern Soul and General Stuff.

Oh nerdiness sublime!

Electric Eden

I have finally given up any attempt to read Rob Young's book, Electric Eden.
It looked so exciting and it's packed with information, but it is incomprehensible, jumping about from one date to another and back again, and populated by lists and lists of bands and artists, almost as though he was afraid to leave anyone out.
I think it should have been an encyclopaedia with a family tree in an appendix to show the links between the artists. Their stories are charming and quirky and it's an incredibly well-researched book, but its sheer comprehensiveness causes the problem.
I have tried reading it through, and I have tried dipping into it, but now it is resting on a shelf, and I am resting on the sofa, exhausted by trying to untangle a narrative from the heap of facts, dates, names and anecdotes.
What a pity.

Hello, Cello!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Luncheon Voucher

Pete Chrisp has just put this up on his Facebook: I don't even remember drawing it, and I thought we'd split up by then. Didn't Helen and the Horns start in 1985? I thought I'd had at least a year of grumping in bed and recovering from a stress-induced duodenal ulcer in between The Chefs and the Horns. What a mystery.

Writing Songs

Finally! Again! Desert springs, after months of nothing and squashed by the overwhelmingness of the day-job... new songs are here!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Bean Sprout

... and a Bean Sprout is a self-righteous person who mocks people prematurely!

Spanish Cucumbers

Introducing a new phrase to the English language, used to describe an individual, organisation (or indeed country) that tries to place the blame for a disaster that they have caused anywhere except on their own doorstep.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Stoke Newington Literary Festival

Pshaw! Drops of rain? Didn't put me off!
Armed with coffee and Portugese custard tarts, Gina, Caroline and myself went to listen to Lucy O'Brien on a panel with Simon Reynolds, Charles Shaar Murray and Paul Morley, chaired by Richard Boon, who used to manage The Buzzcocks and Magazine and who is now a librarian at the Stoke Newington Library.
the idea was thet each person played the inspirational track that set them off journalising.
Charles Shaar Murray played My Generation (The Who), Simon Reynolds played Bodies (The Sex Pistols), Paul Morley played Boredom (The Buzzcocks) and Lucy played Planet Claire (by The B52s).
ut of the four, Lucy is the only one who was actually in a band (maybe Charles Shaar Murray was: I don't know much about him). She told us how the B52s represented the 'fluorescent side of punk', like X-Ray Spex, and she told us about her kit-synthesiser, a Transcender 2000; she had chosen Planet Claire as an example of 'the keyboards showing off', which I thought was a wonderful reason.
Richard Boon was an amiable host and I forgave him for not letting me ask my question ('I subscribe to Mojo. Why do they assume that I'm a bloke?').
It was an interesting afternoon.
I came back out into the torrents of rain only to find that I had lost my car. I soaked up the rain like a sponge because it has been so dry recently. I expect my hair to grow luxuriantly as a result of the increased precipitation and have therefore booked a hair appointment for next week.
No I haven't, of course, thats nonsense.
Oh yes- Dec Hickey was there, with a proof copy of his labour-of-love book on New Order. He made 100 copies and sold the lot for £95 each apart from one that he put on eBay and got over £300 for. That's what I like to see: a bit of loving enterprise.
Tomorrow I will tell you about Martin's online gig this evening!

More Park Road

It was a great night last night! The venue is a medium-sized warehouse type place which reminds me of the old Utrophia warehouse in Greenwich; at soundcheck time it was full of musicians, Japanese sushi makers, performers in half-costume and various sound-people. Rebecca Bogue, whose brainchild it is, moved swiftly and silently amongst everyone making sure that it was all running smoothly.
Actually, it ran so smoothly that I got two sound-checks but I'm not complaining. This was the first outing for the Green Goddess since she's been overhauled and she did me proud. The sound-man clearly fell in love with her and we had a Gretsch conversation while he was setting things up.
I was the first musician to play: big stage, big speakers but great sound. I couldn't see a thing because there was a big lighting rig too but I could see shapes dancing and feel a nice vibe, and I think I had a good night. Someone said 'awesome', and I could not have asked for a better compliment. I know I probably played the best version of Heaven Avenue that I have ever played: the guitar just plays beautifully, it's as silky as a breeze and I felt it was helping me instead of getting in the way like it used to.
It was so friendly- I spent the the evening talking to people who just spontaneously chatted: sculptors, a film-maker. We talked about Ben Wilson, the chewing-gum painter (what has happened to you, Ben?) and the philistines of Barnet Council who took legal action against him and ripped up all the paving stones he painted. I hope he becomes really famous and then they will realise that they ripped up millions of pounds worth of beautiful miniature paintings (that's millions of pounds of honesty).
There were clowns, performance artists, an electronica duo called Night & Fog who reminded me of a cross between Phoenix and The Young Marble Giants. We ate sushi ( in aid of the Red Cross Japan Earthquake Appeal) and watched the final live act, Widescreen, a sort of Mexican/Cajun/Flamenco band who got everyone up dancing with abandon: their musicianship was beyond compare.
After that I left for the darkened wastes of Barnet, but a new crowd were arriving for the DJ set that followed. It was the friendliest London night I have been to for ages, really relaxing and fun. Big Up to Rebecca for transferring what used to be an intimate house concert type thing across London from Harlesden to Hackney without losing an ounce of its variety and charm.
Want to donate to the Red Cross? Do it here:
P.S. I never review the crappy places I play (just in case you think I only ever write nice things!) (unless they're really so bloody awful that it's fun to write mean things about them).

The Park Road Pilot Gets Ready

Saturday, June 04, 2011


Not my day. Typed a long posting and deleted it by accident. Bugger auto-save! It saved the deletion.
This morning I also lost a really long email that I wrote with all the locations for the photographs for the new version of The Lost Women of Rock Music, and had to re-write the whole thing.
It's been a complicated thing, keeping the threads of communication open with ten different sources of photographs (and wondering if the ones I have to pay will ever get the paltry sum I am able to pay via the University, or whether bureaucracy will nip that one in the bud).
I've ended up with a photo of Siouxsie playing the guitar ( a two-for-one deal) that I thought I didn't want but now I'm glad I've got it.
Thank you so much to the two nice people who simply donated pictures. So easy!
I have done  a huge amount of negotiating this year, what with The Chefs compilation and our track on Messthetics (Bruv says they have used the un-cleaned up version of the song, which is a pain, but I haven't had time to listen yet). The Chefs compilation has hit a spot of bother which is a complete bugger at this stage but I am trusting the Universe to sort it out as I cannot believe it is in anyone's interest to prevent it being released (although it seemed so, a coupe of years ago).
Now, huge quantities of food are in order, ending with a mountain of ice cream and strawberries.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Billy Childish at the ICA

I slept in; seven hours looking through student work in Scotland and the seven hour journey back had taken its toll.
This afternoon, I slipped out of the hot sunshine and into the cool environs of the ICA, settling into an ample red velvet seat to listen to Billy Childish.
He was interviewed by an artist called Neil Brown, who at first seemed too obsequious but later appeared more as a man happy to be passive and bask in Billyness, which seemed rather sweet.
Billy self-interviews anyway:
(at the beginning, to the audience)" Carry on talking- we're just here to watch".
"If you are high up in an organisation you should take the piss out of yourself".
"I was surprised that I sold lots of paintings, but previously I was surprised that I didn't".
"Art schools don't like the way I teach. I'm not into bullying students or deriding their work. (pretending to be a tutor) If you're doing something big I'll tell you to do something small, and if you're doing something small I'll tell you to do something big, then I'll go to the pub."
"I've got a strong moral sense and I deal with honour".
"The thing about painting pictures is: painting pictures. The end result is a nuisance"
"Good manners is very under-rated".
"Once I get to know people I can be a bit rude sometimes, can't I, Neil?". "Yeth, Billy".
Ha ha, I enjoyed it. I drew some sketches but couldn't get him right. My iPhone won't zoom so the photos weren't good.
Billy is an excellent entertainer. He's talked to my students in the past, baffling the arrogant ones and cheering up the ones with low self-esteem, which is exactly what the Doctor ordered.
Afterwards everyone trooped upstairs to watch Billy draw a volcano to make prints on a Gestetner machine (those machines that used to print illegible handouts at school). Buying a print for £50.00 was mentioned so I sidled out to avoid embarrassment and now I am at home throughly enjoying watching Batman and Robin.
Blissful restful Friday!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Poem: Sitting On A Train Choosing Houses I'd Like To Live In

That one...
That one...
That one...
That one...
That one...That one...That one...That one...That one...
That oneThat oneThat oneThat oneThat oneThat oneThat one

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Johnny Carter Cash

Here's a link to an interview with John Carter Cash with a lovely photograph by my friend Daniel Coston:

Good Morning Blogsters!

Here is a link to Caroline Coon's piece about the symposium I spoke at two weeks ago on Friday
I picked up the Green Goddess from LA Strings this morning, and she is playing beautifully, all ready for my gig in Dalston on Saturday 9see below). I do hope I have not caught Offsprog Two's deadly cold. There are rumblings in my throat....
Le soleil brille, die sonne schient, all is beautiful; I am growing courgettes, potatoes, peas, carrots, raspberries, strawberries, thyme, rosemary, chives,  parsley, bay, and would also have mulberries but the dry spell put paid to them, which is a shame as I was hoping to attract the blackbird into the garden (it sings on the chimney pot).
Looks like Helen and the Horns will be supporting The Daintees at the Jazz Cafe on the 16th September.