Sunday, January 31, 2016

Huntrhymeswyth's Big Idea

Jeremy Huntrhymeswyth looked in the mirror. Great face! Unlined, smooth-skinned, punctuated with sparkling eyes (especially when he looked at his own reflection).
Could be years younger than his real age!
His eyes roamed upwards. The hair. Was it time to stop using gel?
He’d been applying Snake Oil Hair Restorer for weeks, which Beatrice, the receptionist at Thai Therapies (in Shepherd’s Market, where he went each Friday for a power massage they called ‘Gentleman’s Relish’), had given him with the assurance that it would solve his problem.
But it didn’t; like the retreating tide at Frinton, it was stubbornly pulling back from his face, half a centimeter at a time, its recession linked in an unnerving way with each step of the step-by-step dismantling of the bloody National Health Service.
This was a major problem; Richard ‘horseteeth’ Branson was waiting at the wings flapping his Bank of Bermuda cheque book, and at the other side, the fellows from The Lodge were murmuring things about putting off his promotion to Grand Farolera.
He inspected his hairline carefully. Transplant? Maybe, but Roger’s transplant, even though it had been done by the top chap at Harley Street, reminded him of miniature rows of vegetables.
He’d tried to get Torquil to look into repealing the Hippocratic Oath but Torquil had got back to him and said that it wasn’t a law, it was an agreement between doctors that had nothing to do with law or Parliament.
Moving away from the mirror, and the slightly distressing reflection, a thought occurred to Huntrhymeswyth; it lit up the dank parliamentary office like a light bulb.
If he could, in conjunction with that lab in Surrey, develop a brand new virus that knocked out The Poor, The Unemployed Shirkers, The Asylum Seekers, The Disabled and The Elderly, what a lot of money that would save!
In the short term, they’d have to cough up a bit to Murdoch to make sure that it got reported properly: ‘nothing we can do’ and so on. And keep the United Nations out of it: mind their own business.
Of course it would cost a bit to ‘treat’ them all, but they could commandeer a few of the luxury flats that the Chinese and Russians were pulling out of, now they realize that the London property market is going to crash. Ship ‘em all to London and let the new Labour mayor sort ‘em out; that will give him something to chew on, little upstart!
Cosmo in Statistics would be able to work of the ratio of the elderly that the Tories need to keep going- maybe a ‘vaccination trial for elderly people only’, so as not to lose too many Tory voters- ha ha!
Rubbing his hands with glee, Huntrhymeswyth strode across the room to pick up the phone to call Budgets. It was time to put the plan in motion, before anyone could stop him. A neat, white, rich UK population of Tory voters within the next five years, and no need for social anything any more.
A gleam of light shone across at him from the mirror.
With a sinking heart, he met the gaze of two greedy, sparkling eyes that were peering back at him from the dome of a shining, and now completely bald, head.

Big Yellow Taxi

Saturday, January 30, 2016


Perhaps you could call this research; I have spent two hours looking through a pile of cuttings and articles, weeding out the useful ones, discarding the interesting-but-not-relevant ones, and throwing away the rubbish.
There is still a fat pile of physical stuff to look through, plus a substantial amount of links and some notes-to-self to download some academic articles.
My research is looking miserably unsubstantial, but the upside is that it's really thorough. I have two volunteer readers and I think I might have finished in in two week's time. The might mean that the enormous pile of books that I've amassed in the last five years can be weeded out too and perhaps I'll see the surface of the kitchen table.
After all this is done (and I have an April deadline for another chapter plus two events in June and July to plan, more coming soon on those), I am going to re-boot my music life. I have had an album ready to record for six months but was clobbered by E Coli in September on the way to look at an analogue studio (yes, it was that quick). It's time I re-did my web page because I've had the same one for ten years. Stuff like that.
Now, however, I'm off to count houses. The neighbour over the back fence has build a humungous loft extension in place of a smaller one with obscured windows. I don't want to look at their child from my kitchen window, nor their teenage son apparently half-undressed, and especially not at what appeared to be two writhing human beings on the bed this afternoon, so I am going to post a tactfully-worded note through their door and advise them to put curtains up!

'Sweetie' Cover Photo By Claire Barratt

The Dansette Tour

This is a brilliant idea. It is the anniversary of The Daintees' album Boat to Bolivia this year. The band has made a re-recording of the original songs which will be released on vinyl, and Martin Stephenson will be going on a house concert tour of the UK with a Dansette, playing the album and talking about the songs.
It has sold out already- I think it took about a day to do so.
(I love the poster too, designed by Kieran Fitzpatrick)

Chefs Posters (again)

I am going through my 'archive' looking for the disc with the scanned Chefs posters on it- sadly, I appear to have mislaid it, but I did find these.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Cupboard Is Bare

It started yesterday; I needed to buy a bottle of water for a guest speaker who had come in to speak to the students.
No water in the University cafe (run by Starbucks- boo! Only used when desperate).
After racing up and down a few stairs, I found vending machine that sold water, which was a bit of luck.
Later, I went to Camden. I went into a cafe because I was starving. 'Sorry, no food', said the persona behind the counter.
So I went to the next cafe. Both of the things I asked for (first one, had run out, second one had... run out) weren't available.
Today, I struggled through ghastly Westfield Stratford to the best Lebanese restaurant, driven by my appetite after  avery busy morning. I was looking forward to a chicken wrap with spiced potatoes.
'No chicken', they shrugged.
No food then.
Everyone's cupboards are bare this week, which is completely unnerving. I always mean to make sandwiches before I set off, but you guessed it, every morning the cupboard is bare. I either have bread and no sandwich filling, or sandwich filling and no bread.
I can't think of a solution for this state of affairs at the moment.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Charity Shops in High Barnet Mini-Review

Sometimes I will do anything to avoid marking.
Well, here you are: a mini-review of High Barnet's charity shops, sometimes the source of rich and fruitful pickings, sometimes quite literally threadbare.
Cherry Lodge: can be rather disappointing, and really only for the most dedicated charity shopper who is able to make daily trips. I have sometimes seen nice china serving dishes here. Alas, I do not serve, so they remained languishing in the window.
North London Hospice: this shop used to have a canny manager whom I suspect bought some of the best stuff before it ever hit the selves. However, you still see the occasional camera in the window and I bought an acoustic guitar here which unfortunately has a twisted neck, but they weren't to know that. Sometimes they have small items of furniture, and it's definitely one of the best ones.
All Aboard: unlike the above, nobody weeds out stuff before it gets to the All Aboard chain. Some of their stuff is really peculiar but I've bought a couple of Western shirts here, and this is the shop that had an old fashioned gramophone with a trumpet once. What a good job it was far too expensive for me to buy! The lady in here is phenomenally friendly.
Cancer Research: they have recently redesigned the interior of this shop, which was a mistake. Now it's all tidied up and the desire to pop in for a rummage has evaporated along with its untidiness. There are sometimes nice women's shirts and tops, though.
PDSA: enormously untidy in the friendliest way, and I bought a great leopardskin coat here once. There are some superb men's clothes at the back. I once bought three brand new tweed shirts for two quid each. Now that's charity shopping!
Oxfam: pouf! the only one that smells like a charity shop. Come on guys, it doesn't have to! In spite of that, and the fact that it's rubbish for clothes, it sells records and CDs (some really good buys sometimes), and the occasional antique book. Well worth a visit.
Noah's Ark Children's Hospice: sells functioning electrical goods- some audio gear- and has been a godsend for last minute emergencies like old CD players and so on. Not very nice clothes though.
Willow, and another new one: avoid. Nylon, acrylic, bobbly wool. Pull up your socks guys. The lady in one of them refused to take my donation one week, then the following week they were appealing for donations. How very silly.
Last but not least comes my favourite, the British Heart Foundation, where someone takes the trouble to put the books in alphabetical order (yippee!! thank you! I buy all my books here), there's a fab selection of clothes for both genders, and the right ratio of space:rummage-rails to accommodate all sorts of people, buggies, waking sticks and lonely chatters.
There you go.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Dear Tories: a Sunday Letter

This letter is inspired (!) by Richard ‘horse-teeth’ Branson’s buying up of the NHS by stealth, and his acquisition of the East Coast Line from the state as soon as it turned a profit, then his subsequent abolition of the lowest fare band, making travel to Newcastle upon Tyne, where some of Britain’s poorest people live, the most expensive mile-for-mile journey in the whole of the UK.

Dear Tory Party

I know that many of you are practicing Christians, although I am really stretching myself to work out how this connects with what you are doing to the poor and sick in Britain, because I thought the whole point of Christianity was to take care of those people, not steal their money and opportunities and hand them over to the rich.
No matter- this letter’s about something else: a fabulous idea that I’ve had that I will sell to the Tories for a reasonable, negotiated fee to be agreed at a later date.
This is the plan.
There is one institution that you haven’t sold off yet- the Church of England! Just imagine how much money you could make. I am absolutely certain that Richard Branson would be interested in buying it and I’m sure he could run it at a profit.

Here are some tips:

Those cassocks, or prayer cushions that people kneel on, and that have been hand-embroidered in woolwork and donated to the church for scores of years- they are worth a fortune. Send them off to an auction and replace them with polyurethane foam pads covered in wipe-clean vinyl, which will be much  more practical and hygienic, and easier to maintain.

Archbishops’ robes: again, why bother with expensive repairs and embroidery? These too will bring in a fortune at auction, and can be replaced with printed nylon robes, lighter to wear and easier to launder.

Church organs and pianos. You don’t need these! Sell them off to Russian churches, perhaps? Anyway, they can be replaced with audio equipment and pre-recorded hymn backings (provided by Virgin, perhaps? I’m sure that they still have a functioning studio somewhere). 
As an additional income stream, I suggest that you register the canon of traditional hymns with the PRS, copyright of the Tory Party. This should bring a fair bit of income to party coffers, for ever and ever, Amen.

Church Services should be charged for. This will be easy for the congregation to understand because they know what the word ‘service’ means. Tickets can be sold at the door, or in advance from one of the proprietary Internet ticketing services.

Hymn books can be pulped and sold on to a recycling company. For a small weekly charge, your church customers (you don’t need the word congregation any more) can download an app from the Internet with the week’s hymns on it.
They can do this by paying a small charge for the wi-fi service you have installed in the Church itself.

As for staff: put this out to tender. Pubs are losing business at the moment due to the cheap supermarket booze everyone’s buying. Why not ask the bar staff to stand in? They could probably be hired for the minimum wage; as an alternative, Jobcentres should be able to provide volunteers to man the churches on Sunday mornings if you really want to save a bob or two.

So there you go. There’s a plan for you disgusting bunch of Tory greedballs.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Wot a Larf

I should have stopped reading this book by now. I've washed the kitchen and bathroom floors and I'm waiting for The Young Montalbano.
Mark Forsyth tells us rather a feet-of-clay snippet of information that I never knew: that T.S. Eliot used his middle initial because of what his name would spell backwards if he didn't.
Somehow I don't think that's the only piece of info the reader is supposed to take away from his book!

Awww! Astrud Gilberto

Technology Is there To Help Us

Yes. The global online marking system has crashed and won't let me see the million essays that I had to mark today.
It's weekend technical support; nice man, but 'no' still means 'no', even it it's a nice man who's saying it.
The purpose of the day has changed. I'm writing a lecture on lyrics, even though most of what I need isn't here. But Jimmy Webb's book Tunesmith is really interesting, especially if you allow yourself to skip the occasional copious list, and I've been to the bookshop to buy Mark Forsyth's The Elements of Eloquence which may or may not be useful.
I'm also doing a bit of online research, hoping to contrast Rene Lussier with Rogers and Hart:

Anyway, if you want to know any more, you'll have to come to my lecture on Monday afternoon.
Pip pip!


Rather like a condemned person, I'm having the last cup of tea before embarking on marking (see what I did there?).
It's going to be a marathon day, with almost thirty 1000-worders to mark and the occasional bleary-eyed break for a walk round the village and, of course, more tea.
January is the ideal month for marking because it isn't very nice outside; always, the beginning of the year has a worn-out, tired feel before it pulls itself up by the bootstraps some time around March.
I wish I had planted more bulbs to greet the spring, but bulb planting time coincides with busy with new teaching time, so that rarely happens. The academic calendar rules more than students and their assessments; it affects the spring display, or not, in my back yard too.

OffSprog One is screening the women's wrestling film tonight at the Cowley Club in Brighton; it's a great documentary about feisty non-stop competition and glamour with a few hefty thwacks and strong-arm moments thrown in. All hail the documentary (says the almost documentary maker).

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Snails Go Walkabout

Parked in stacked plant pots in the back yard were an alarming number of dormant snails.
I envisaged spring sunshine reviving and invigorating them, and all the precious shoots being decimated by the slimy horrors.
I devised a smart plan.
Although I saw on Blue Peter that snails and slugs have a homing instinct, I decided that if I took them far enough away, they might get distracted by a nice garden or park on the way home and decide that it wasn't worth coming back.
I picked them off the plant pots and put them in a little carrier bag, and went for a walk. I won't tell you where they are in case you try to find them and interrogate them, but they're quite far away. I tripped as I surreptitiously tipped them into the foliage; I'm not very good at doing dastardly deeds.
I feel a bit guilty for abandoning them, so I'm going to change my route for a few weeks until I forget what I did.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Working in Music: The Musicians’ Union, musical labour and employment

Although travelling to and from the conference was a prime example of why the railways across Britain should be renationalised, this conference was well worth travelling to. Far away on the outskirts, McDad's ashes are resting in peace; and Glasgow has been the city of many warm and friendly gigs, and also a great city to spring from to Ayr, where I used to be the External Examiner for the University of the West of Scotland's BA in Commercial Music.
After the opening event (described below), I was delighted that Marion Leonard from the University of Liverpool was presenting a paper that fills in huge gap in knowledge; she has studied working women in the business side of the Music Industry, and I can't wait to read the paper that her presentation was based on. Also on Thursday, I enjoyed Simon Barber's paper on Songwriting Strategies. Friday morning kicked off with a bang with Catherine Tackley's broad yet detailed sweep from sea shanties to cruise-liner musicians; what an enjoyable journey! Lots of thoughts were stimulated by her paper, not least because my ancestors were seafarers (from the west of Scotland, and I believe one of them pushed a sailor from the rigging during an argument, but we don't talk about that), but also because I know many musicians who play on cruises.
Dave Laing was the chair of the next panel, which started with Victoria Armstrong's (from St Mary's University) paper about the working lives of freelance musicians in the classical music world. Victoria's research is always enlightening; her book Technology and the Gendering of Music Education is really bang-on in its focus, and her paper built on this and didn't disappoint. Next was Laraine Porter from De Montfort University, who mainly writes on the history of cinema; however, this morning's paper was about the professional lives of the women who played as accompanists for silent cinema, and featured some probably rather embarrassing early edicts from the Musician's Union itself that led me, and probably everyone else in the room, to sigh with exasperation. I was last to present, and focused on the gender gatekeeping issue with producers, ending with a fantastic (appropriately inappropriate) malapropism that I will tell you about if you pay me a million pounds.
Regrettably, I had to leave early to make sure that I could get home at all, but Debi Withers accompanied me in book form on the way home, a book that I will review shortly after the 12 dissertations, 8 songs and 38 essays are out of the way, alongside reviewing five or six albums that I would have written about last year if I hadn't been mired in an administrative nightmare of trying to get people paid.
Although the common features of our research papers were depressing ones, it was oddly empowering to share this information with each other, and this, of course, is what conferences are all about. Hats off to the MU for now addressing the enormous (still) gender imbalance in all genres and forms of music. I'm not sure how much we can change, but it's sure as hell worth trying, innit.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Fowlds, Camberwell

I wish I was a better photographer. This is a small upholstery factory with a cafe in the front part of the building. I had a very nice cup of coffee and an even nicer chat with Joan there the other day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Surreal Day

Virgin Train carriages on the West Coast line have awful technological halitosis. There is always a sickening, stifling smell of diesel fumes mixed with toilets, and a poor traveller sat with the peel from his clementine held under his nose for the entire journey.
Another hapless chap tried to phone his secretary surreptitiously, although we were in the quiet coach. A lady told him off and he left for the lobby with his mobile phone, unaware that he had a big bright blue plastic carrier bag stuck to his arse, probably with static electricity.
When he came back, it had gone.
At the subway station in Glasgow, a man waited for the train with a wire supermarket basket full of shopping- raisin bran cereal, stuff like that. We didn't stare in case he was tough, although a fellow further down the platform was stifling giggles.
I got to the hotel. My room was vibrating and there was a low level rumble. It was so peculiar that I called maintenance.
Apparently there's a dodgy fan on the roof; but I'm staying here in case they give me a worse room.
From time to time, the wardrobe doors rattle.
Today I've been living in a parallel universe.

"If You Want To Put Yourself On The Map, Publish Your Own Map".

Pete Frame, you're a genius. the above quotation came form this evening's talk at the University of Glasgow, with Pete, Simon Frith and Dave Laing.
The talk was full of fascinating stories and observations; it was to celebrate the donation of Pete and Simon's archives to the University, and while the panel were talking, copies of Pete's magazine ZigZag, his Rock Family Trees, old letters from Dave to Simon, and an article that Simon wrote in Coventry about 2-Tone and The Specials, were passed round the audience.
So what did we find out?
Before Radio One started, the BBC totally disregarded rock'n'roll and you could only hear it on pirate stations like Radio Luxembourg, which Pete described as "legalised payola"; record labels bought half-hour slots to play their product in, thereby sponsoring the station. Never knew that.
Simon Frith declared a fascination with the ways the Mercury Music Panel (which he chairs) try to persuade each other to make choices, the way they describe what it is they like about their favourite music.
He is in favour of record companies because of their role in quality control; apparently the worst releases are by artists who have been signed and then dropped!
There was an anecdote about the three of them going to Graceland when Elvis (changed by autocorrect to Levi's, by the way) still live there and peeing over the wall.
Both men were asked of their stories about David Bowie and Simon observed that most of the obituaries were much more about how the journalists themselves felt, than Bowie. he talked about Coventry's Bowie Boys, who had their own fanzine and morphed into punks. And yes, I'd seen a whole pub full of David Bowies in Pontefract or Wakefield- girls and boys, with identical spiky red hair, braces and baggy trousers.
There were more stories and more insights. The final, and best, was Pete revealing that when Julie Burchill first went to work at NME, she was designated to type up articles written by Nick Kent and other men on the staff, who were submitting their articles and interviews written in longhand. Can you believe that?
Oh, the 1970s, I don't miss you one bit.

Thinking About David Bowie

I had no idea that David Bowie was so tightly woven into people's hearts. I feel really sorry for his family, and of course for him; these days 69 is quite young to die.
The stills from his last video are horrifying, especially if you have experienced the death of a relative or friend recently.
All his life, Bowie flirted with the idea of death (Please Mr Gravedigger) and a large proportion of his songs had mortality at their centre.
He seemed bent on control over his life and his persona; this worked positively for his family because he was able to become very private in the latter half of his life. The staging of his death, I find excruciatingly peculiar.
I loved his early material, and disengaged gradually after that because of a combination of a deep dislike of his politics, and the move away from Tony Visconti as a producer to Eno, whose work I find difficult to connect with.
The expressions of sorrow on social media I watch through a thick, obscured glass. Is it because he was a Londoner (us Geordie's couldn't grasp the appeal of the TV show Budgie, for instance)?
No, I don't think so: I loved the Kinks.
Is it because I had a completely rural upbringing and he was simply too sophisticated for my country-bred brain?
I don't think so, because I loved Frank Zappa.
There was something in his celebration of artificiality that I couldn't grasp, and that stiffness and control. Although he seemed to yearn for freedom from his body, everything about him seemed constructed to trap him. Even his voice seemed not to be able to escape, although it tried its damnedest.
I thought of Poly Styrene. I am glad Zillah is documenting her life; regrettably, my one audio recording of her, where she sings the first song that she ever wrote, is clogged up with terrible electronic interference. Poly will never have the global recognition that David Bowie has, but today I remember her, and of course, McMum.
Perhaps this is the significance of a global superstar passing away; in the wake of their trajectory, space is cleared to connect with our memories of our own close and significant people,.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

An Unintentionally Productive Day

Well, it's 4.30 on a Sunday and this is the first prevarication of the day, so that in itself is a marvel.
I woke stupidly early for a weekend (at 5.55: what woke me at that time?).
There was no point in trying to go back to sleep, so I worked on my conference paper for an hour and it is now completely different to the one I was working on yesterday. I have such a huge volume of information that condensing it into a 20 minute paper, even though I thought I am usually quite good at focusing, seems impossible.

The Sunday papers arrived and I depressed myself by reading about the wonders of technology.
Yes! Yes! We'll be able to digitally archive tons of film and photographs of animals that we will make extinct by our use of the wonders of technology.
No! No! I don't care about Mars trips, Hadron Colliders, sooper dooper computer games or virtual reality glasses that make people look like twats. What about addressing global poverty and stopping wars, and looking after the beautiful planet that we are destroying ever more quickly? What the feck has got into the human race?

Furious, I stomped upstairs and removed 100 layers of wallpaper from the bedroom wall, and a lot of rotten plaster too. After more than two hours my energy was flagging, but there were four stubborn bits of paper that just wouldn't move. The bottom layer of paper looked as though it was rather beautiful: 1920s, possibly; then there was a tweedy grey layer (1930s austerity?), then some ferociously stubborn gloss paint, then ghastly wood chip and finally a layer of emulsion.
There is now a bin bag in the garden bursting with flaps of torn wallpaper and crumbs of plaster, and my back aches, but I bet my bingo wings are now fully under control.
It's too cold to check, though.

After a quick rush down the road to replace Offsprog One's Christmas present candle that I broke when I was shoving furniture around up there, I burned my dinner but still ate it, and then did a bit more work on the conference paper.
The prevarication and the writing of this boring and pointless post are because I've got some emails to write that I should have written on Friday, but I didn't.
They are not difficult emails but a little voice inside my head is saying 'It's Sunday, and you've done enough for what is supposed to be a day of rest'.
Shut up, little voice. If I write those letters it will be one less thing to do tomorrow, when I go back to work.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Curved Air

We had been asking people what their influences were, and we asked each other what our influences were.
Completely forgot about Curved Air.
In my Sixth Form at Walbottle Comprehensive, the lads used to commandeer the record player. We listened to Led Zeppelin mostly, with Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Black Sabbath and Rod Stewart to add a bit of variety. All really pompous (with the exception of Rod).
At home, my brother liked Genesis and McDad listened to Melanie; my boy friends (not a joined together word) liked Frank Zappa. I liked pop, though not all of the singles McDad brought home- not Leapy Lee's Little Arrows, definitely, though I did like Sandie Shaw.
I saw Curved Air on Top of the Pops- Sonja Kristina  singing Back Street Luv. It has a mysterious melody, a very peculiar rhythm (quite sly and sexy) and Sonja Kristina's shivery vocal singing about a man's attachment to a prostitute (she sang quite a lot of songs about dark subjects like that until she became a pixie when Francis Monkman and Darryl Way left the band).
It was a really daring song, and a really daring subject. Of course the lads at school all fancied Sonja Kristina and talked about that all the time (what a great way to disarm the power of a woman performer), but to me she was a heroine.
She wasn't a twee Mary Hopkin type or a rock bellower like Janis Joplin. I loved the girl groups but they were American and they sang about dating, really. Back Street Luv was perverse and unnerving.
Sonja Kristina looked knowing and was quite obviously a really important contributor to the band.
She was really inspiring; I wrote to tell her that about five years ago but I don't think she was very impressed. Oddly, I found that inspiring too.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Writing a Conference Paper

I am writing a paper for the Musician's Union Conference next week, Working in Music: The Musicians’ Union, musical labour and employment.
It's always hard work doing something like this but it's also intellectually stimulating and completely absorbing. An hour has just vanished and the only indication of this factor is my frozen feet. I'll have to go out for a walk later to get my circulation going again.
What I'm enjoying about this one is the mining of information from the interviews themselves. For a year I've been working on the background essay (30,000 words and almost finished), and jus recently I've been editing the interviews (I don't know why I'm so surprised but it takes a really long time and I sometimes go back and un-edit some of them if I've cut out information that later becomes a theme).
I love interviewing people, it's one of life's greatest pleasures and this has been a very interesting project. By word of mouth I have found one or two female producers who work what can only be described as deep underground, but I am also happy to have a very brief interview with Sandie Shaw, who always produced her own records.
Like everything I've done academically, this is a complete labour of love. There are lots of parallels with the film that Gina and myself are working on. We have been reviewing our interviews this week and there will much to report about screenings of work-in-progress at some point over the next few weeks.
Back to the writing. See you soon.

Email Hacked

My email account has been hacked. Thanks to those who let me know. I never send links without my own message- don't click!

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Why Oh Why

They cast the same people as baddies in every TV drama and cop show. This means you know who did it as soon as they appear on the screen.

What I Said Two Days Ago

Yes, and the interesting one here is losing friends who you only meet in drinking situations. That's the only regret that I have, and a completely unexpected one; but I do remember being shocked myself when there wasn't booze at social gatherings, so it's understandable.
I also recall many years ago (during my own drinking years) speculating about the number of revolutions that would actually happen if people stopped taking about them in the pub over ten pints, and went out and did it. Strange to think we actually pay good money for the national anaesthetic that renders us helpless and stupid.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Man Flu

I've been living with Man Flu since Boxing Day, the illness defined by gender equality rather than a desire to compete with anyone for sympathy. No amount of Walnut Whips make a difference, neither do bracing walks or hot baths. I suspect patience and paracetamol to be the only options.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Dry January

I will be having a dry January (although the weather definitely won't be).
All the other eleven months of the year will also be dry; it's now nearly nine years since I gave up drinking alcohol and it was one of the best decisions that I have made in my life.
Very occasionally at party, I get bored as people ramble on about stuff, but I often forget that it's the booze talking. Parties are about talking and listening anyway, aren't they?
When I do buy a round in a pub (I'm not mean!) I never stop being shocked at the cost of drinks. There is no way I could survive financially if I was still a drinker.
All those pages in the Sunday supplements: wine-on-a-budget, craft beers, cocktail recipes ('You must try this one...'), mean nothing, because they are ways of dressing up an addictive poison so it looks charming and harmless.
All those TV soaps set in the pub- free advertising for the brewers!
Quite a few people that I knew have died because of alcohol, and many relationships and marriages have broken up (didn't know what they were doing, because they were pissed, apparently).
What a spoilsport I am! One of those drunkards who gave up, and now starts preaching about it; except that I don't most of the time.
I think it's everyone's own business what they do to their bodies, probably, although the hangovers are a nasty consequence that sometimes lead to violence and fear, and that's not so glamorous.
The best gift that stopping boozing has given me is time; the hangovers stole whole days from my life.
Quite possibly I would be fatter and less healthy as well, but how could I tell? It's the time that I welcome; time to write blog posts to explain how time is valuable, precious, and only noticeable when it's not there any more.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Kerb Garden

Space Lady

Here is Space Lady playing Strawberry Fields. We saw Space Man a few days ago down the South Bank, playing Yesterday with a little organ and with lots of stuffed animal toys arranged around him. He left out all the high singing bits; he probably couldn't reach them, but that's rather a lot of bits, and the bits that make the song The Song.
He tribbled the notes with his fingers on his small Casio instead; I thought that quite lazy, for a busker.

Thames Beach Buskers

Phil Spector had a wall of sound; these buskers had the South Embankment wall to amplify their trumpet and percussion. We watched them from above and threw coins down into their bucket. We missed.

National Grid

I am thinking of selling this powerful cough to the National Grid; it would power a street full of houses, even if they all put the kettle on at the same time.