Saturday, June 30, 2018

What Is The Best Thing In The World?



KISMIF stands for 'Keep It Simple, Make It Fast' and it's an annual week-long conference held in Porto; last time I went was in July 2015; so much has changed since then.
On Wednesday I'm due to present a lecture on the influence of reggae music on women punk bands; later, The Raincoats are also doing a panel.
The lecture-writing is almost finished and today has been the playlist day. I hope to play at least 20% music because that's what it's all about, innit?
Playlist below; you might be able to do the lecture in your head, but maybe not the Paul Gilroy and Dave Laing bits:

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Research, and Heat

It was worth braving the scorchio temperatures today for the University of the East's Research Conference. There was so much to learn: about the increasing focus on property in literature aimed at women readers, about the different stories behind buildings in an Iranian city (with a charming shoe metaphor: ancient, religious and trainers); a Glaswegian girl who at the age of 12 was at the forefront of the Glasgow Rent Strikes; and class and magic in children's books.
On the way home I dropped in to the soundcheck at the Camden Working Men's College showcase night, but it was just too damn hot to stay for the evening. It was very busy and looks slick to was going to be really good fun.
But it's hot!
Why aren't people crying on the tube?
It's horrible nestling up against those armpits and lumpy backpacks in the sweltering heat.
At least I have a good book to read- actually, a brilliant one that I thought would be crap, but I couldn't resist buying it. It's title? Eurovision! A History of Modern Europe through The World's Greatest Song Contest, by Chris West. It puts so much into perspective by tracking European (and more) history from the inception of the contest onwards. We have lived through troubled times, and the song contest has sometimes been directly involved in revolutions, with particular songs signalling that it's time for a coup, for instance. There's lots about the songs and their titles, and one of them made me laugh out loud. The book is a real romp with a serious heart, and because it's episodic, with each chapter concentrating on a consecutive year, you can read it on the train to work without missing your stop.
.... well, maybe just missing a stop once.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Roller Coaster

Jonathan Richman is a genius.
We used to cover this song in Joby and the Hooligans.

And Actually

Today has involved charging around London with USB sticks: to Gina's to copy the sound file for the Doc, to the University of the Union to pick up a USB that I left stuck in one of their computers yesterday after teaching there, then to New Cross to deliver the first soundtrack one to our intern.
Somewhere in the middle was a tranquil episode of sitting in a cafe garden watching robin get braver and braver, and a wren building a nest. Right in the middle of London.
The tube still smells of sweaty feet; is it everyone, or just one or two really aromatic commuters?

The Spice of Life, Sunday

I had thought that I was going to have some medical treatment this week and was cancelling things- but now it has been put off for a couple of weeks. Thankfully, I'm still playing a couple of songs at The Spice of Life in Soho this Sunday as part fo a cavalcade of artists supporting Drew Morrison and the Darkwood for the launch of their album. It will be night to remember- all sorts of people playing including Robert Rotifer and the Tennessee Rhythm Riders. One of those gigs, I think!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Punk Rocka, 1978


Several hours of writing and editing today after meeting the series editor, and my former PhD supervisor, in Hastings on Wednesday. I did a first draft edit a couple of weeks ago and this is the second time around. It's very absorbing: now it is mostly to do with structure and style. The only time I stop working is when the computer runs out of juice and I have to recharge it.
Why not bring the charger upstairs? Probably because it's good to take  break from time to time.
Meanwhile, the sound for the documentary is being cleaned up by our intern, and we should get a  chance to listen to that next week.
I have never worked so hard before in my life- at least not since the Offsprogs were small and I had a full time job as well as being a Mum to two children under the age of five.
Blimey, I remember those days!
Having a sabbatical that runs out in July, and having an intern whose contract runs out at the end of next week, have concentrated matters greatly. I've still had loads of marking to do as well, and some teaching too. I think it would feel stressful, except for the fact that gigging keeps me sane, and also there is the feeling that I'll have a sense of achievement when all this has finished. The book started in 2011, and the documentary in 2015; it will be great if I/we can finish both this year and move on to new things. I have been invited to do more writing for academic publications; at the moment, running a hundred miles has more appeal, but it's an honour not to be taken lightly and things will feel different once this book is off the computer and on its way to the editor.
In anticipation of finishing all this off, I'm starting to book gigs for the autumn; by then I hope to have a box of vinyl singles in the living room. That will be very exciting.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Interview for Loud Women Gig, 14th July

It was lovely to meet Cassie, and Concrete Bones (thanks for taking this pic)- looking forward very much to the gig at the Hope and Anchor, headlined by Tokyo Taboo.
It was bloody hot down there in that basement yesterday: fringe curl alert!

Interruption, Mining and Bypassing

Every time my Smartphone updates it's operating system, it gets harder to take information from it (like photographs, notes and music) without engaging with the internet. And of course, every time a user engages with the internet, your content is intercepted, mined and stored without your consent.
I've dusted off my digital camera; I use a dictaphone to record interviews, and now I have started carrying a notebook again to write things down in.
I only want to share what I want to share, with people who I want to share it with, don't you?

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Father's Day

More than ten years Dad, and I still want to phone you for a chat. I miss you.

The Song of the Landsman's Soul

Till the soil in the morning
Plant a seed in the sun
Dig your troubles into the earth 
To dissolve when the day is done
Start the day with a smile
Watch the future begin to unfurl
Till the soil in the morning
Sing of the Landsman’s soul.

Till the soil in the daytime
In the heat of the midday sun
Helping hand for the green shoots 
Whose journey has just begun
Start the day with a smile
Watch the future begin to unfurl
Till the soil in the daytime
Sing of the Landsman’s soul.

Seasons pass; a living painting is not meant to last
Here and now, the fragile beauty that blooms in a  flower, in a  flower.

Till the soil in the evening
Rose gold blush in the sky
Close your eyes in the sunset
At the end of a harvest day
Your started each day with a smile
You watched the future begin to unfurl
Till the soil in the evening
Sing of a Landsman’s soul.

Seasons pass; a living painting is not meant to last
Here and now, the fragile beauty that blooms in a  flower, in a  flower.

Till the soil in the evening

Sing of the Landsman’s soul.


Just spent an hour cleaning the fridge. Hell on earth.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Fiddler's Elbow: Northern Soul on a Friday Night

Linda Yarwood and Kevin Birchall, DJ-ing at The Fiddler's Elbow in Camden, and filling the dance floor. All vinyl, and all good stuff!

Grenfell Tower

It is so massively frustrating reading about the Conservatives fighting and posturing over leaving the EU, as though all that matters is their stupid political party. Meanwhile, it seems as though the entire United Kingdom is collapsing underneath them. They are supposed to be a government, not a group of teenagers squabbling in a boarding school common-room. They are supposed to represent all of us, not just themselves and their face-saving and money-grabbing behaviour.
Sorry, it's the Grenfell thing.
Normally I don't post my political opinions because reading other people's rants is boring; but the complete disrespect that has been shown to this group of residents of the capital city of England is completely impossible to comprehend.
I don't know if you have been past that building but it is the largest tombstone in the world- it is utterly desolate. It stands there and makes you want to scream with the horror of it all. It's a burned-out skeleton of a place that is a monument to everything that is wrong with the greed that wracks property development, and the profits that are made in large British urban areas by landlords who think money is just so much more important than human beings.
Oh, how dignified the survivors and relatives have been! They must be so very, very angry, mixed up with feelings of terrible bereavement and loss. Meanwhile, the rest of us feel completely impotent. And actually, ashamed: we can do better than this, surely?


I can't find my newest earrings anywhere. I tried 'Find' on the laptop, but that didn't work.

In The Thunderbolt Garden

This is Rocker, who runs Dandelion Radio. We recorded some songs yesterday lunchtime (I think we did five) and Tim Rippington took this photo; he says it looks as though we're in a garden centre.
Rocker sports a t-shirt with the new name of the multiply-nomenclatured Charlie Tipper Band, many of who were in attendance last night and it was lovely to see them- I miss doing stuff with them. There were so many of them that band members seemed to appear and disappear every time you blinked.
Big thanks to Jane Barnes for putting the gig on- and choosing such excellent bands to play the night. Pearls had delicate, ethereal songs with lovely minimal drums and gentle interplay between the cello and the vocal; Bush and Fey's songs interrogated middle-aged manhood with ruthless humour and a surprising amount of tender perception.
Good audience too- up for a bit of singing along, even at the very end. Thank you.
I am knackered (that's why my hair is hanging round my face, so I can hide in it). Back home, I'm slumped in a chair but Kevin and Linda are down from Congleton doing Northern Soul, so I'm going to have a siesta. Best physical therapy for a body wracked with pain after carting a guitar around for miles- a bloody good dance!
A demain, tout le monde.
P.S.  I 💕 The Thunderbolt. 
Where else does the venue owner hoover the stage carpet before the gig starts? 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Saturday Night With The London Set

Filmed at Oporto, Leeds by June Whitfield. Thanks to Gary Stewart for inviting me to play- I enjoyed your set; it was lovely to hear you again. Four Sessions were great too!

Decision Made

It's going to be 'Saturday Night with the London Set' and 'These Streets'.
Thank you for your help!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Proofreading, Leeds

Yes, I am. Here is proof (ahem).
There are lots of corrections to be made and some re-structuring; that's a job for Wednesday.
Bit more of this today before the gig.

Saturday, June 09, 2018


Hull tonight with Sleeperman, Graham Beck and Doodlebugnuggets, Leeds on Monday with Paul Handyside.
Bag loaded with CDs and a draft of my book to read through and continue editing on Sunday.
Have never worked so hard: we did two days of editing the She-Punks film on Thursday and Friday and there is still more to do.
Being this busy is great though-all of the projects are really stimulating to work on.

Naturally, there are a lot of background stresses; life would not be normal if everything went smoothly. No point in going on about those.

Sometimes it is nice just to stare out into space for a while, and dream about the countryside and proper fresh air that you can breathe deep into yourself.
No computer (ah: the ball and chain in an aluminium shell!); no phone (nobody ever used to phone me, apart from the Offsprogs, and I didn't even notice how unnecessary I was: now it pings and beeps like a baby android wanting a feed).

Thank you to those who are listen-voting to the music on Soundcloud. It looks like there are front-runners already!

Friday, June 08, 2018

Daniel Coston's New York

Daniel is a talented music photographer and historian (and a fan of The Zombies), who mainly chronicles the lives and times of musicians in North Carolina.
He blogs too, here: and he has very kindly sent some photographs he took of New York.
It is truly a photogenic city.
You'll have to fly over to see The Zombies again, Daniel- and take some photographs of London to see if you can make it look as good as this!
I was hoping to go to see them in Bexhill, the only place left with any tickets, but too may early mornings frantically writing took their toll and I had to sleep!

A&R Choices

Please can you help me to choose what to put on the vinyl single? The  two tracks with the most plays before Tuesday are the ones that I'll use. Thank you!

Wednesday, June 06, 2018


And the tracks have arrived from Tom. Four... and I can't decide which two to put on the single. Have the worse ones turned out better, and the better ones turned out worse?
You can't A&R yourself- it's impossible. Much harder than doing and album where you're making a jigsaw and aiming for a particular picture.
I think I might post all 4 on Soundcloud and see which gets played the most over the weekend....
Watch this space.

Stay Out Of The Zone

This morning we re-did the mix of Shola's song to re-balance the vocals. Working out how to bed vocals properly in a track is an interesting puzzle; the idea of is sounds so easy but in actual fact, it's not, and the recording has to sound good on phone speakers as well ask big bad brutes, and that's another puzzle.
When the song sounds right (ears rest, always, after a mix) and Shola has approved it, I'll ask if I can share it.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Mountainous Terrain

I want to review Sunday Shenanigans but I'm waiting to be sent a poem by one of the poets, Andrew, which is about how much he hates Outer Space. Send it, Andrew- it's great!

At the moment life seems to consist of mountains: like the bear who went over the mountain, as soon as one has been climbed, there's another one looming on the horizon.

The academic article got accepted yesterday; this is terrific news. It has been redrafted more times than you could possibly imagine but the editors seem pleased with it. What helped enormously was when Offsprog One read it. She was shocked at some of the stuff I'd found out but she suggested that the conclusion should be more simple, and she was right. Sometimes it is hard to state awkward facts without pussyfooting around them, and that word is used advisedly. Half of me, brought up by a strict Presbyterian McMother, doesn't want to state the obvious and rock the boat; the other half, a punk feminist, wants to tip it right over.

The marking is almost finished; the second year at University is a difficult one for students, sandwiched between the newbie first year experience, and the semi-excited, semi-terrified third year.
They have achieved loads this year, best one for songwriting so far, and Mike, Stuart and Bridgette really pulled out the stops with their lectures. Big thanks, you lot! And big thanks to David for the massive marking workload he did for the third years.

Next mountains? I got up at 6 this morning to start reading through the draft of the book, and to try to strip the sound off a version of the documentary. The first thing worked (up to the limits of my attention span: a few more days to go before re-writing it), the second didn't. Off to work this arvo, remixing Shola's track tomorrow, working on the doc on Thursday and maybe Friday, then gigs in Hull and Leeds.

These are not dull, boring and tedious mountains; they are exciting!

Monday, June 04, 2018

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Hull Next Weekend

From Glastonwick This Arvo

I honestly hadn't imagined this little festival to be such a peaceful and pastoral affair. In the back of my mind were images of rufty tufty old punks in ancient leather jackets wobbling about slopping beer all over the place. There was beer aplenty, but it was being dispensed by genial people with the seriousness of apothecaries and consumed by smiling picnickers in the Sussex sunshine. As I pulled up, Smiley and the Underclass were just finishing their reggae flavoured set. That's them in the first photo, trying to train their lazy eye to see a thrown tennis ball. That's what bands do after they have finished their set: did you know that? The guy on the right trained for the air force, I do believe.
Joe Solo went on next, leading the thronging crowds in a sing-song with his electric folk, followed by Barnstormer 1649, Attila the Stockbroker's band. He can play a multitude of instruments, many of them with a pint of beer in one hand (air force training again, perhaps?) and has a phenomenal amount of energy. He organises this festival every year, with Alex Hall, brewer extraordinaire, and is on-hand to introduce every band. The song dedicated to Robina, his wife, was incredibly touching. She is lovely.
Before I went on we had very rapid catch up. Attila's band Brighton Riot Squad and Joby and the Hooligans played together in The Vault in Brighton, thousands of years ago. He even remembered Joby's mum, Daphne, driving us around.
It's extraordinary to think of all those punk lives, those punk people spreading out all over the place (56 bands rehearsing in the Resource Centre alone), some still playing, some not, and some no longer here (Dick Damage, Big Dave, Dick Piranha to name but three). And of course, Smelly came. He had bumped into Nick from Nicky and the Dots (and later, Stomp!) who basically doesn't have to work because Stomp! have been so successful. Now why didn't I do that instead of this?As he stood there, someone came up and persuaded smelly to be carried aloft through the crowds on an inflatable mattress. despite claiming that his boots were too heavy, he agreed to do it. He is an amenable fellow.
One or two people had identified themselves as Chefs fans (hello Nick Linazasoro!) earlier on. And it was nice to see Simon Pickles from The Pop Guns, who had cycled over- they had played the day before. Afterwards, Combat Shock did a fast and furious set which was really enjoyable, especially the 58-second song about phone sex. And somehow, Attila had the energy to whizz though a one-minute Grime spit when I mentioned Grime music. I had a nice chat with Ese from Ese and the Voodoo People, who I'll see in London next time they are playing, and of course Nick and his pal. It was a very friendly affair.
To crown it all, the perfect shade-bed was growing in the shape of a bendy tree, and that's where I sat and chilled out, with a lovely view of the sky through a filter of leaves.

This photo by Nick Linazasoro, who has reviewed the whole festival.

Review of Saturday here: