Sunday, July 31, 2011


Harvesting the local charity shops for books has been interesting: I was charmed by Boxy and Star (by Daren King) and loved the way it was written in thinkspeak (if there is such a word).
I have just finished The Secret History by Donna Tartt, a book I bought yesterday afternoon and couldn't put down. It's quite a horrible book, with more than a nod in the direction of Particia Highsmith, but very well-observed indeed.
I am saving Treasure Island and a Trollope that I haven't read before, The Small House at Allington for a train journey. I have managed still to enjoy Trollope, in spite of John Major liking him! I could not, however, buy The Big Issue (guest edited by David Cameron) for obvious reasons although I did give the poor Big Issue seller the money anyway, so he didn't lose out.
McMum has broken a shoulder and I am off to see her soon. I can understand an elder not wanting to use a walking-stick because it makes them look old, but her doctor has become less sympathetic as broken bones become more frequent and I am wondering what I could do to make walking sticks appear glamorous!
There is a large pile of academic books to be read too, but it's the vacation (although I seem to have been working a lot) and they will have to wait until the run-up to the new term.
I shall spend the rest of the afternoon looking at the tiny olives on the olive bush and wondering if they will ever turn into big olives.....

A Narrow Escape

I had a narrow escape yesterday from an organisation called The Coaching Academy. My Friend from the North invited me, because there was a bring-a-friend offer; she is a very good pal and I thought, 'Why not?'.
However, within five minutes the combination of being patronised by the facilitator and her cynicism started to make my heart sink. I looked at the literature and could see that this course wasn't validated by any official body; there were no names of companies that the speakers had worked for (just vague terms like '... in the corporate world'). There was a lot of stuff about NLP (that's neuro-linguistic programming to you and me), and a vague quotation from The Observer that on close inspection was not an endorsement, but a description of the size of the organisation (what came next, I wondered; 'Don't touch this with a barge pole?')
I imagined indoctrination, and I imagined a whole load of people who had been asked to leave their companies for various reasons setting up a coaching programme for other people who had been asked to leave their jobs to learn to coach other people who had been asked to leave their jobs (for a fee).
We laughed at the idea of people liking to talk about themselves. We sat in front of coloured banners displaying tailor-made coaching programmes; we had booklets and were encouraged to write down what we wanted to get out of the programme.
All I want at the moment is an end to the famine in Africa, and I couldn't see myself getting that out of the course. I love my friend dearly but I just couldn't do it. As we rose from our seats to network, I slipped out into the freedom of Regent Street and came home to an unexpected free day.
I bought four books from the British Heart Foundation shop and sat in the sun reading one of them. I even started to write a new song. I fretted in empathy with Offsprog Two who is having a terrible time thinking about leaving her close friend network to go to University (unbearable!).
I forgot to send money to the Disasters Emergency Committee, but I am finishing this posting to do that Right Now.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mixed Fortunes

It's been an odd week, during which my car was towed away and I was fined £250.00 to get it back, I had a couple of lovely days with Martin to celebrate his birthday, met my first possible prospective PHD student, proof-read Offsprog One's interview with the Chefs ex-manager who now gardens for the actor James Wilbey, and started reading the memoirs of one of the chaps who provided a photograph for the book (and they are very entertaining). I also stood for an hour listening to the boiler with a plumber this morning, listening to the boiler behaving itself impeccably with an air of innocence. How embarrassing!

Audio Solutions to Plumbing Problems?

After waiting an hour with the latest plumber for the boiler to fail to make it's noise, I sent an MP3 to the technical department at the manufacturers, who think it may be the bearing plate.
Watch this space!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sunderland Book Project Submission

These little books are a limited edition of 6 submitted to the Sunderland Book Project, a travelling exhibition of books about Sunderland. I did my Art Foundation Course there, made some great friends and had some fantastic adventures; it was one of the best years of my life.

Sunday, July 24, 2011



They did not flower and the stems went dry and brown so I decided to tip out the compost and throw it on to the flower bed and then I found....

Sunday Bits

With no News of the World, I hereby offer my own Sunday paper, or to be more exact, Sunday Screen.

Well, a few days ago I heard the news that The Raincoats were to be called upon to present Johnny Rotten with a Lifetime's Achievement Award from Mojo Magazine (incidentally, the only music mag that I buy and read in spite of the fact that their marketing department assumes that Dr Reddington is a man, see past postings for hilarious phone conversation with young man who should know better!)
Gina found this exciting and amusing in equal measure; I find it perplexing that the mag should simultaneously honour the band by asking them to do it, while insulting them by never running a feature on them.
Are they too frightened? I hereby lay down the challenge!!!!

Next up... a funny conversation by some shop assistants (sorry, sales staff) overheard in Iceland:
Girl to male colleague: 'Pooh, that aftershave smells a bit strong!'
Other male colleague: 'Yeah man, I can taste it from here!'

Then to last night's Rrrants gig at the Camden Eye, mercifully not as over-stuffed as they are sometimes. The collective always has a spot-on selection of acts and this night was devoted to female performers, poets, comedians and singers. What struck me was the relaxed and gentle delivery of the older women; I am not sure whether this is because I am one, but I find everything more appealing if it has a warm heart, even unappealing subject matter, if that makes sense.
For this reason I thoroughly enjoyed Joolz's set. Hers was the poetry I wanted to see or hear again, because it was not designed for those with short attention spans. There was poetry there, actually: words you could feel, eat, smell, whatever, delivered with a sense of rediscovery and fizzling semi-suppressed anger.
I am being a bit lazy in not reviewing the others (I should be in Epping performing at a campsite but I am not); they were very good and raw and funny! You can trust the Rrrants Collective's judgement: there is more tonight at the Camden Eye or look at their site
I enjoyed playing: they have moved the stage area so you can play to streams of traffic (including blaring emergency vehicles of every description) heading straight at you, one floor down. Headlights, traffic lights, ads, bustle, noise: it's Camden in all its seedy glory. Pissed-up youths sang along noisily to dance tracks downstairs, but everyone upstairs was listening in an oasis of disrupted calm. Voices from various collective members joined in on the choruses of my songs and the set went by in a dream, one of those gigs where in your head you return to where you were when you first wrote the song, and adventure in memory.
Viv was headlining and the audience had been joined earlier by members of the Vibrators and New Model Army. Her guitar was a star, walloping the audience with nasty riffs and humorously flowing punctuation. Viv is a great player. It takes a lot of rehearsal to be that fluid and to edit out all the crap; there are no unnecessary notes in her playing, and no unnecessary lyrics in her songs. After seeing her a few times, this was an opportunity to listen properly to her lyrics, and yet again I felt that she should be given on prescription to teenage girls, middle-aged mums and seeking elders to show them that there is another side to the gloriously dull prison of housewifeland with all its shiny white buzzing equipment and Daily Mail-demarcated rules.
The night finished with an energetic song by Paul and Ian, rewarding the loyalty of an audience some of whom had been there since 5 p.m.- now that's commitment!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Line-up and Times

9.00pm Kit Richardson
8.35pm Mary Spender
8.25pm Mel Jones
8.00pm Dodobones
7.35pm Helen Arney
7.10pm Jammie Sammy 
6.45pm Lanre
6.30pm Sola
6.00pm Betty Steeles
5.35pm Miss Jo Williams
5.25pm Victoria Laxton Bass 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Saturday Night (Tomorrow) at the Camden Eye

It's the Rrrants Diva festival tomorrow: Viv Albertine is headlining and I am playing too.
At the Camden Eye (upstairs) next to Camden tube, in a good cause (poetry books for schools), and only £3.00 to get in!


I spent almost the whole afternoon drawing after McSis came to brunch.
I'm drawing more spoof sheet music with my own version of what notation should look like (I can read it perfectly and I think all the big music publishers should copy me).
I thought that I had nearly finished and then I realised that I had made a book with only one page apart from the front and back covers.
There is a solution (ain't there always if you look for one?) which I shall put into operation later today, after schlepping to Docklands to pick up some Women Out of Line books to sell at tomorrow's gig (upstairs at the Camden Eye with Viv Albertine and other woman artists) and having a cup of coffee with Lucinda Sieger, the first woman to sing live on Top of the Pops.
What does one wear on a day like that? Hmmm.....

Thursday, July 21, 2011

On Being Helen Reddington

My alter-ego is bringing out a new paperback version of The Lost Women of Rock Music: female musicians of the punk era on October 1st, published by Equinox.
And she has also contributed to this:


Network Awesome has curated 30 shows containing almost 400 video clips to explore the role women have played in Punk music from the 70's to today. With rare interviews and concerts, videos, documentaries and feature films, Network Awesome broadcasts a compelling week of TV designed to entertain and provoke.

Network Awesome Magazine also pulls out all the stops with feature articles and interviews with many of the leading figures of the day such as Alice Bag and Gudrun Gut, with essays by Dr. Helen Reddington, Jessica Hopper, Kathryn Fischer, Candace McDuffie and more.

Images and video for re-posting and blogging are attached. 
All shows, video clips, and articles are free to be re-posted.

We are a new online TV network that programs 4-6 hours of daily programing.  All our content is curated from You Tube and our innovative system stitches the various links together and presents it linearly to the viewer. Sure, that's innovative - but our programming is the main feature and it's exquisitely entertaining and fun! 

We feature an extensive digital Magazine with more than 60 writers commenting on fascinating media.  Network Awesome has been up and running since January 1, 2011 and has been featured in NYTimes, BoingBoing, Dangerous Minds and many others.

Upcoming Network Awesome specials include:
- The Cremaster Cycle by Matthew Barney July 25-29
- The Films of Paul Grimault July 23rd
- Nuke P*rn Weekend: Aug 6&7
- Early Japanese Animation Aug 8-12

The Women Of Punk - July 18-22, 2011:

Live Music Show - The Women of Punk vol. 1  (article by Jessica Hopper)
Collection of Clips showcasing the varied women of Punk.

Doc - The Runaways
Recent interviews with many of The Runaways looking back on the wild times of the past.

Jem and the Holograms - The Beginning
 (pending interview with series creator Christy Marx)
Slyly subversive 1984 cartoon about rival good vs evil all-girl punk bands.

Doc - Siouxsie and the Banshees
Archival interviews and concert footage from all eras of the iconic singer and group.

L7 - the Beauty Process
Amazingly weird film about L7 made by Nirvana Bassist Krist Novoselic.

Vivienne Dick - Beauty Becomes the Beast
No-Wave art film shot on Super-8 and preoccupied with female sexuality, relationships and 'transgressive behaviour'. Staring Lydia Lunch, Lizzy Mercier, Klaus Nomi.


Live Music Show - The Women of Punk vol. 2 (article by Kathryn Fischer aka Mad Kate )
Collection of Clips showcasing the varied women of Punk.

Doc - Who is Poly Styrene?

Documentary on British musician, songwriter and singer for the punk rock band X-Ray Spex.

Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (G.L.O.W.)
Special feature on "Hollywood and Vine", "Dementia", and a few more of the Punk villains of GLOW.

Talk Show - Punk Women
Collected interviews from: Wendy O. Williams (Plasmatics), Ari Up (The Slits), Lydia Lunch (Teenage Jesus and the Jerks), Penelope Houston (Avengers), Gee Vaucher (Crass) & Cherie Currie (The Runaways).

Collection - 60 minutes with Kate Bush
Rare interviews, concert footage, and videos from this iconoclastic artist.

Red Aunts - Saltbox

In 1995, Red Aunts shot homemade videos for every song on their "Saltbox" album. These are the shambolic results.

Live Music Show - The Women of Punk vol. 3 (article by Dr. Helen Reddington)
Collection of Clips showcasing the varied women of Punk.

The Bags - Live in Hollywood 1978 
(Interview with Alice Bag from The Bags)
Entire legendary concert shot on VHS. Watch Tom Waits get punched in the face!

Jem and the Holograms - Video Wars
A particularly cutting episode of the cartoon series.

Collection: Girls Bite Back

Startling interviews and live performances from an almost-lost 1984 documentary by Wolfgang Büld. Features Malaria!, Nina Hagen, Liliput, The Slits, and Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Doc - Coup D´Etat: Re-socializing Gender Roles

Follows cutting edge female musicians, comic book artists, film-makers and performance artists to convey how artistic expression continues to be used as a tool to create social change while articulating the problems of American society. Produced & Directed by T. Khyentse James, 2008 and features Kathleen Hanna, Miranda July, Sharon Jones and many others.

Live Music Show - The Women of Punk (2000 - present)
Collection of Clips showcasing the varied women of Punk as it's manifested today. 
Features Bikini Kill, Team Dresch, Cobra Killer, Finally Punk, Erase Errata, All Girl Summer Fun Band, Mika Miko, Vivian Girls, The Need, Bleach03.

Live Music Show - The Women of Punk vol. 4
Collection of Clips showcasing the varied women of Punk.

Collection: Gudrun Gut + Malaria (Interview with Gudrun Gut)
Historic fixture in the German punk & industrial scene and influential radio show host and runs 2 women-centric record labels.

Collection: Vivienne WestwoodInterviews with the British fashion designer largely responsible for bringing punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream.

Collection: A Brief History Of Peaches (article by Candace McDuffie)
Rare interviews, concert appearances and getting to the bottom of "Peaches Christ Superstar".

Doc - The Gits
The Gits were a promising band from Seattle, poised to explode on the national scene when powerful singer Mia Zapata was brutally raped and murdered. This is a heartbreaking look at the band and the aftermath of Mia's murder.

Movie - Lovedolls Superstar

1986 indie movie following the all-girl punk band The Lovedolls, features cameos by a wealth of indie rock heroes like Jello Biafra, Redd Kross and Sky Saxon.

Live Music Show - The Women of Punk vol. 5
Collection of Clips showcasing the varied women of Punk.

Doc - Blondie
Brutal documentary tracing the ups and downs of this great band that just happens to include Debbie Harry.

Patti Smith Live - Rockpalast 1979

April 22, 1979 special on the Patti Smith Group filmed live on German TV's "Rockpalast" show. 13 songs in glorious color.

Vivienne Dick: She Had Her Gun Already (1978) (Interview with Vivienne Dick)
No Wave art film shot on Super-8 and starring Lydia Lunch and Pat Place.

Trailer Trash: The Women Of Punk
Compilation of Movie Trailers focusing on our week's subject. Includes the films: Times Square 1980, She's A Punk Rocker UK, Tank Girl, Liquid Sky and many more.

Movie - Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (feature article)
This excellent film shows Diane Lane as an angry teen who starts a punk band and attracts a cult following. The film was a flop at the time, but re-runs on TV influenced the Riot Girl movement. Also includes a behind the scenes documentary.

Network Awesome Salutes the Women Of Punk - July 18-22 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Skating Backwards

Gina had some ice skating vouchers and we skated today at the Queensway Rink: both of us were a trifle rusty (we used to go regularly about a year ago).
I watched a woman show a young man how to skate backwards, and started to have a go.
She skated over and told me how to do it... and very slowly, I began to inch backwards... and now I know how to do it!
I will have to practice, because I am so slow, and you need strong legs. But I was delighted and whizzed forwards with renewed excitement for the last five minutes of skate-time before we went off for coffee and pastries (to replace the lost calories after all that exercise!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Overheard in Robert Dyas Hardware Store: a Surreal Oh Susannah Moment

"I've brought this doorbell back, I want to exchange it... it plays 'Banjo on my Knee', and then three minutes later, it plays 'Banjo on my Knee', and then three minutes later, it plays 'Banjo on my Knee' again.
I don't like 'Banjo on my Knee'. I wanted a different song.... I want a different doorbell!".

Once Upon A Band

Monday, July 18, 2011

King Slug of Barnet

Tina Weymouth

I was very kindly offered an interview with Tina Weymouth before the Tom Tom Club gig at the Jazz Cafe in Camden yesterday.
She is a very articulate person, and also very warm and forthcoming: so I think you could say, the ideal interviewee. There is lots to transcribe, all of it interesting and relevant to the field of research I'm doing at the moment. Many thanks to Jenny, who organised it!
So on to the gig: Gina Birch came as my plus one and we smiled and bopped our way through the evening, alongside a very appreciative crowd who sang along heartily. The band is testament to Tina and Chris (her partner and drummer) who have an open attitude to musicianship; lead vocals were shared out between all of the band including Chris and a feisty additional female vocalist who played guitar on several numbers. It was refreshing to see such an ego-less performance from a band who have generated endless inspiration through copious use of their music as samples, and a woman who invented possibly one of the most influential bass lines ever. Back in the seventies, female bassplayers fell into three categories: the reggae girls, the Stranglers Peaches girls, and the Psycho Killer girls. I was one of the latter, and even today I feel quite overcome to have not only been able to do the interview but also to see the band in action. We spent part of the time talking about 'the groove'; this was very much in evidence last night and I'm just about to log on to Amazon to buy their latest album, a live set recorded at their house and a collection of remixes of their best known stuff.
Photo by Frank ('by name and by nature'), Tom Tom Club's tour manager who used also to work for Suzi Quatro!

Sunday, July 17, 2011


It's a serious issue with this teasy weather.
I have the perfect rainy-weather hat, but inside it says 'Do not wear in rainy weather'.
I have a sun-hat that says it is made of paper and will dissolve when wet (the sun just came out for five minutes).
Wooly hats will sponge up as much drizzle as they can.
I guess it's gonna be a supermarket bag, rolled up and inverted.
Thank God the Offsprogs have gone to their Nan's for the day!

I am going on a secret mission today. Tell you when I get back.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I roadied for Martin yesterday, driving him to deepest Kent for a small private festival organised by a group of people who started off as Grateful Dead fans.
That part of Kent (somewhere east and north of Hastings) is liberally sprinkled with huge and beautiful Elizabethan mansions and cherry farms. Having lived and worked in Sussex in the 1980s, I always feel a little uneasy in these gorgeous English rural villages, which back then hosted small and efficient National Front enclaves.
Who knows what lurks behind the wisteria?
The festival goers, however, were friendly and relaxed. They wandered round with sausages and cider, and watched Martin's set tapping sandalled feet and smiling into their beards (the men, I mean!).
The venerated guitarist and songwriter Nick Harper was there; he is a total gentleman, not only carrying our guitar cases over to the stage for us but also refusing to let a tall and brusque festival organiser interrupt a conversation we were having, making sure we carried on talking despite the interruption. He and Martin have many friends in common and Martin invited him up to play on a couple of songs, which he did with skill and aplomb, locking in straight away to what he was playing. I have learned The Cannonball Rag to accompany him, and we played that and a couple of others together before sitting on a bale of hay and eating festival food under a scented lime tree.
Poor festival-goers, it's chucking it down with rain. I hope it clears up for them later.
And I got home to find that the central heating has broken down again.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Plumbers and Slugs

The household theme of the summer is plumbers and slugs; the fifth plumber is on his second day, wrestling with a boiler that has invented a problem that even the manufacturers are totally stymied by.
Not being a heating engineer, the only way I can describe it is 'glugging'.
'It shouldn't do that', said the plumber. 'No, no', I agreed, rubbing my chin with my hand knowledgeably, a pencil tucked empathetically behind my ear.
So he's coming back, yet again, this afternoon.

And the other... oh, I can hardly bear to write the word! Where do they come from? Like a new type of cuisine, or perhaps the Australian Cane Toad phenomenon or Japanese Knotweed, enormous orange slugs the size of Porkinson Bangers are expiring all over the garden (for verily, I am a slug-pelleter).
They are HIDEOUS and they are TERRIFYING: too huge for birds and toads (although one disappeared the other day: have I inadvertently slug-pelleted the toad?)
I have never seen the like before. The first lot even had green rims. Do you think they could be edible? Could I roll them in flour and tempura batter and serve them up to my guests as a new delicacy, Deep-Fried Pacific Rim Tangerine Garden Boys?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I feel as proud as anyone could be over the achievements of the sweet sixteen- the songwriters who took a leap of faith on Friday and ended up with some pretty damn good song recordings on Monday and Tuesday. I can't wait to hear the final mixes. I feel like I have borrowed the body of a very elderly woman and at any given hour of the day I have at least one of the very catchy songs charging through my brain at a rate of knots. But tomorrow, I will have fully recovered. I miss them all already.
Hats off to The Premises Studio for dreaming up the idea!
I have been asked to do it again: thankfully, not tomorrow, but possibly in the cold wastes of January.
I'm not going to blog about what happened; that is between myself and the sixteen, the house band The Daintees (augmented by Phoebe on keyboards/piano) and our visitors Romeo, Green and Paulette.
Why not come along next time?
Photo of Helen (producer) and Jason (engineer) by Martin Stephenson

Sunday, July 10, 2011


3 eight-hour days with 16 songwriting students down, two to go, see you Wednesday x

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Oh So....

... knackered, brilliant group of songwriters doing a 5 day course, three to go. Green Gartside today, Romeo Stodart yesterday. Just swell!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Spews of the Worms

I hope it goes down and stays down- by that I mean, no Sun on Sunday, end of tabloids, end of Murdoch.
My father-in-law (ex) when he was still alive was a printer who was locked out by News International in what was called the Print Strike. It was not a strike, the printers were locked out, but it was called a strike because... Rupert Murdoch owned most of the newspapers, and he censored anything that explained the true situation (does anyone remember the blank white columns?).
I have never read/liked the Sun or the News of the World but the men of almost a whole family lost their jobs in one fell swoop. We went on a family march, only to be charged at by mounted police in crash helmets with truncheons, and my mother in law and myself would have been crushed under the galloping horses' hooves had a quick-thinking person not pulled us to safety through some bent railings.
That was the first time I had ever seem the British riot police in action: it was shocking, like being in the middle of one of those films of the Russian invasion of Prague.
We are all used to seeing them now, but it was a nasty surprise to see just how violent and frightening the British Police Service (yes, it's supposed to be a service, answerable to the public, not a force) could be. And now we find they are corrupt too! What is going to happen? David Cameron is good friends with the flame-haired Rebekah, isn't he? Will they let Murdoch buy BSkyB? Is everything going to be covered up, or is everything going to be cleaned up?
Will the baddies live to see another day?

Retread, Perhaps... Traditional Song

On the baby's bottom, on the baby's knee
Where will the David Dimbleby?

Generation Indigo

I am making a playlist for the songwriting course; I took a break to listen to Poly Styrene's album Generation Indigo.
The last track, Electric Blue Monsoon, is brilliant- it makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. It was played at her funeral, on that sunny and windy day in an airy chapel on a hill in Hastings. She was a magical girl with a smile in her voice, even when she must have know how terribly ill she was.

Blogs I Follow (but not officially!)

I follow a lot more than this but not everyone updates regularly:

A variety of different blogs for a variety of different reasons!


Just dropped a nylon-strung guitar over at the hotel where Roberto Cassani will be staying tomorrow- Martin, Roberto and Bruce Moreton have a 3 Wise Men gig tomorrow at the King's Head in Crouch End. Stephen Foster Pilkington will be dropping by to play fiddle and so will I (but not to play fiddle).
It was p*ssing down with rain on the way over and I realised why I find using both the back and front wipers so distracting- it's the same as that game where you simultaneously pat your head and rub your tummy in a circle.
Had to switch the back one off.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

On Bureaucracy

I have often said (although not to you) that working for these huge corporate Universities is a bit like being a camel's toenail- you are miles from the heart, miles from the brain, miles from the centre of logic.
I have been trying to get the photographers paid since the beginning of June.
First of all, requisition forms for each photo.
Then possibly, a new supplier form ( but it's trial and error whether they qualify for this or not)
If not, a status questionnaire (5 pages)
Then a payment request form.
Then a Bank Details form.
So I did them all, and they got lost in the post.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

More Writing Experience

At the weekend I finished an article for this:
And today I went librarying, which is a bit like blackberrying but without the eating fruit at the end.
I interviewed Tessa Pollitt and Gina Birch again a couple of months ago for the paper at the University of the East's Music, Politics and Agency Symposium; now I'm making it into a formal essay.
I am also writing some exercises to do at a song writing course this coming weekend. It lasts for 5 days and seemed quite daunting but now I'm looking forward to it. The guest song writers are Romeo from the Magic Numbers and Green Gartside, and John and Kate from the Daintees will be the rhythm section for the final recording, with Martin coming in on guitar one of the days as well. My job is to make sure that all sixteen aspiring song writers leave with something they are proud of....
There are book towers in the front room, all high enough to leave a little floorspace but no so high that they topple over. I am a drawer and musicker rather than a writer, but Universities value writing more than anything else and so I have to do it; then I eat masses of ice cream as a reward, which almost compensates, actually.
Sometimes I think the pressures of doing things that don't come naturally mean that by the time I get a chance to draw something or write a song, I'm like a pressure cooker that someone has let the steam out of:

Monday, July 04, 2011

The All-Day Writing Experience

I have been writing almost all day; I am taking a punt at doing a piece for an academic journal, which means lots of being precise and exact and saying exactly what you mean and not a bean more.
If the boiler had not broken down yet again (shall I 'out' the Barnet boiler-breaking plumber? It's so tempting but he is a frightening man) I would have been going to spend a day in the library tomorrow. But instead I will be waiting in for the heating engineer and making cups of tea.
I wrote something for an e-zine over the weekend. Although none of these things are paid, I think you could say that I am trying hard not to drown in the negative misery that we are all being force fed at the moment!
I have also been planning  for  a songwriting course that I am working on this coming weekend. It is the first that I have done entirely on my own outside a University environment and I am hoping that none of the participants are expecting a 'this is how you write a hit' experience. Writing hits involves as much being part of a network as what you actually write, and that network is cruel, and closed to outsiders.
It has been full for a long time, and I will tell you what happened next week.
Meanwhile, I sit here and look forward to finishing the album that Martin and myself have been working on later this summer: The Cafe of Tiny Kindnesses. Roll on, roll on!

Bins of the 'Burbs: Outreach, the Daily Mail

Here in the Conservative outer London Borough of Barnet, even our street cleaners have snobby tastes in reading; witness the Daily Mail peeking out of this cleaner's pocket. I wonder if the Mail would approve of this chap's readership, or whether they would regard him as beneath them?
He is a treasure, this man, out in all weathers, and I can report that the contents of the bins of the 'burbs is every bit as smelly as that of the supposedly more grimy inner London areas!

New CD from Martin Stephenson and Graham Shipcote

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Epping, Mark Two

Romantic Garden Peotry

'Give us hugs',
Request the slugs.
'No, not I',
Snarls the fly.
'Not for me',
Purrs the bee.
'I'm too frail',
Wheedles the snail.
'I'm too cross!',
Snaps the wasp.
'You can't dance!',
Mock the ants.

'Have you heard',
Chirps the bird,
'Just gently sneak
Up to my beak...
Birds kiss bugs,
Especially slugs'.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Computer Nerd

I dressed as a computer nerd when I took the bulging ancient Macbook Pro to the Apple shop in Regent's Street- baggy men's sweatshirt, skateboarding shorts and sandals, geek's face.
The dorkish charm worked: within seconds, a new battery had been snapped into place.
'Do I have to pay for it?', asked this nerd.
'No', replied the other nerd.

New Neighbour

How exciting! Jamie and Jacob have moved in round the corner and they are setting up a rehearsal studio.
I took round a tub of ice cream and we sat and had tea up high in the little living area; Anja the accordionist was there too. Real musicneighbours!