Saturday, March 30, 2019


Gig Tonight at Latest Music Bar, Brighton

I'll be playing from 8 till 8.45, songs from the forthcoming album which I have been working on, (currently being recorded with Ian Button), and also some songs from the past which I'm hoping to remember the lyrics of after a late night back from Liverpool. Thanks to everyone who came, Doc'n'Roll for organising, Kirsty and Amy and it was lovely to see you, Holly Tessler and Sara Cohen.
I sat and watched the ferry cross the Mersey, and also the big guy who drew in from the Isle of Man with three kicking feet going round in circles. It reminds me of that Boy Scout thing, where if you stand a big group of people closely together in a circle all facing the same way, and someone shouts 'Sit!', you all end up perched on each other knees, perfectly balanced.
Actually, it doesn't really, come to think of it.

Asbo Derek are also playing and I know they have been recording new stuff so I'm really looking forward to that, and the Pat Fish, the Jazz Butcher. Everything finishes at 11 so you can go for a romantic walk along the seafront afterwards, if you are so inclined.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Coventry Culture Show Broadcast Saturday 8 a.m.

This will be broadcast tomorrow: it's an interview with Neil Wilkes about my gig at The Tin with The Sunbathers and Peter Hall on the 10th of May , and also the screening of the film at Temperance in Leamington Spa on the following day at 2 p.m.

Tickets for the Tin

Tickets for the screening

Come to both!

Stories from the She-Punks: music with a different agenda, at The British Music Experience in Liverpool

The film screening starts at 6.30 p.m. toning in Liverpool, and afterwards there will be a Q & A which I'm travelling up for. No Gina at this one, unfortunately, but w have shared out the travelling and there will be at least one of us, and sometimes two, at every screening.
If you can get to the Liverpool one tonight, here is the link to the venue:

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Mum's Revenge

Due to unfeasibly early start when a huge car transporter rolled up to take away my killer car, I'm listening to Vic's new album which turned up this morning and is going to 'drop' on Mother's Day.
I have stopped reviewing albums but this is a listen, not a review. So...

My favourite track is Opus, a wobbly Northern Soul track, although I also like Neil Palmer's spoken word track, and Lessons 2B Learnet, which is quite Beefeartish. I love Inertia, which is downright bonkers. There is a thread of scratchy Sterling Morrison influenced guitar all the way through.
It's not a schmoove album by any stretch of the imagination. Hooray!

Shouts to Ruth, Dave and all the others on this album. It feels particularly friendly.
Oh yes, and I sing a Francoise Hardy duet with Vic on it, too.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Doc'n'Roll She-Punks Screenings In Full

LIVERPOOL  @ BME 18:30 29th March + Helen Q&A
BRIGHTON @ PH Komedia 18:30 5th April + Helen Q&A
EDINBURGH  @ Cameo 18:00 26th April + Helen and Gina Q&A
NOTTINGHAM @Broadway 18:30 10th May + Gina Q&A
Leamington Spa Temperance 2 p.m. 11th May (not Doc'n'Roll) + Helen
MANCHESTER @HOME 18:00 1st June + Helen and Gina Q&A
BRISTOL @ The Watershed 17:00 14th June + Helen and Gina Q&A
GLASGOW @CCA 17:00 29th June  + Helen Q&A

More Writing

Yesterday I did more writing on the chapter on Oh Bondage! Up Yours. There is so much to say- and a lot of it has already been said. There is also a lot to read, and a lot to disagree with.
One of the books has a chapter that derides writing on punks for essentially, fake anti-racism.
This is very difficult to read, because it is untrue. The racists punks were completely blatant about it and this is one of the reasons why other punks decisively played gigs with reggae bands, and in solidarity with gay and lesbian bands, and so on. The writer castigates punks for focusing on 'British Afro-Caribbeans' instead of British Asians who were bearing the brunt of white racism.
There was a Dean here at the University of the East who made an appointment for me to see him about two years ago, just as he was leaving to go to a job at the UN. I couldn't understand why he'd done this.
At the meeting, he said that he had invited me there because I used to be a punk, and he wanted to talk to a person like me on behalf of his family. He had been brought up in west London, and Skinheads had regularly posted turds though his family's letterbox on Friday nights and harassed them by banging on their front door. He told me that the worst thing was the Fridays that they didn't do this; it was the stress of wondering if, and when, they were going to come.
His older brother had started attending a Youth Club and had met a bunch of punks, and he told them what was happening. The punks had immediately started supporting him and his family, against the grain of what the Skinheads were doing. He had wanted to say thank you to a person who had been involved in punk ever since.
For young people at that time, it was actually very difficult to go against the grain of what TV, the newspapers and some of the older generation wanted us to think, and who they wanted us to associate with. They were violent times, and sticking up for what you believed in could put you into frightening situations; it was moving to hear that some of our generation had been so supportive to a family that needed to feel safe and protected against racist Skinheads.
And now I have to go back to reading the book.
Just needed a rant.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

March, The Month For Marching

Everyone has a different opinion about this march and what it was about. I found it galling to listen to the Tories speaking from the platform when they are the party of cruelty and dishonesty, and they set this foul ball rolling in the first place.

What was my reason? I wanted to be part of a group of people who show the world that Britain is not a small-minded and xenophobic country, but that we have an open attitude and a generally loving population who accept other people and other cultures because we all share one small planet, address: The Solar System, The Universe.

We are insignificant mayflies who light up and are extinguished in a cosmic nanosecond. We are inextricably knitted together with each other and with the rest of nature and just because a bunch of pointless psychopaths have grabbed the microphones and are shouting through them, that doesn't make them noble, truthful or respectable.

Thank you Offsprog Two for coming with me. Ofsprog One was working, but we represented her.

Friday, March 22, 2019


Hanging Day

Its so peculiar to have a day when I'm not working flat-out.
I have so many things to do, but I'm too tired to use my brain for anything.
I have been moth-hunting, done a bit of half-hearted gardening, put a load of clothes on eBay, sold my car for scrap (pending) and painted a chair with Hammerite.
I have also eaten a pie (got the bug from recording sessions), paid the Council Tax and Water bills, and eaten a bag of chocolate eggs.
Now I'm sitting staring into space, and listening to birds announcing spring in various different voices and a variety of different styles.
How very lovely!

Dreaming of Narcissus

This was originally written for a children's musical performance at Brentford Sports Centre: 500 children who attended Kevin Dowsett's Theatretrain drama school sessions.
Lester Square wrote some songs and I wrote this one, which is about Salvador Dali. All of the songs were about artists, and the songs were arranged by Shirley Bassey's arranger apart from this, which was almost entirely acapella.

The Pub

Someone shared this photograph on social media a while ago, and yes, it's The Birthday Party, but it's also The Pub. I can't even remember it's name, but for about two or three years, this pub was our living room. I lived in a decaying bedsit in Chatsworth Road, a long road that stretched between Kilburn Tube station and the armpit of Willesden Green. There was only room for my bed and a piano, plus a borrowed colour TV set that only worked in red and green (psychedelic!) and that I used to change channels on by jabbing at it with a long pole from my bed. Around eighteen of us lived there with loads of cats, a dog and a budgie, I believe, and it could not have been a more diverse group of people. The chap downstairs used to watch Ayatollah videos at maximum volume and beat up his wife, so I sometimes had to go and knock on his door and threaten to call the police unless I heard her say she was OK. Paul McGann (the actor) lived upstairs with Annie, who was  stage manager, and his brother Steve lived there too for a while. Treacle and Charlotte lived there, and Ruth, and Marek Kohn (who is now a very successful writer). So did Glen and a whole bunch of other people including Andy, who fixed our electricity meters so we could put the same 50 pence in over and over again.
The Pub was over the road from Ark PR, Claudine, Chris and Gaylene's independent PR company in the basement of an anonymous building on Kilburn High Road. This was where 'meetings' happened (actually, bonding sessions) with their bands. Chris looked after The Birthday Party, but for us up the road, it was where we came in the evenings to hang out because our rooms were barely big enough to socialise in. We laughed, rowed, got drunk, planned, commiserated, and crossed the road with a tide of people at 10.30 to the pubs in Camden, which closed at 11 (this one was in Brent, and they all closed at 10.30).
I could look back on my life and see a senseless pile of disasters and crashes, or I could look back and see a crazy connection of accidental opportunities and extraordinary adventures. It's the latter life that belongs to me; there have been two funerals this year of significant people (not just to me, but to two whole communities of friends), and that makes it feel all the more important to reflect on the past from time to time. I love the way that we intersect with each other's lives, colonise places temporarily, talk, listen and just generally be human beings.
(excuse the mawkish post, this is the first day off I've had for about a month!)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

17 To 12

We have recorded seventeen tracks, and now I have to choose twelve to make an album out of. Some fo the songs have been hovering around for years, and others are brand new. There is a ten day ears-rest and think-break.
I still haven't got a name for it, either, but that's nice: almost like the icing in a cake that gets put on last.
I have loved every minute of doing this album, and will miss the recording sessions when it is finished.

I haven't been doing many wordy postings, mainly due to the amount that I've been working; lecturing has been full on but very rewarding, although the 43 websites being handed in next Thursday are a terrifying prospect particularly since I have to mark them straight away because online work can be altered at any time.

Life is surreal: moths have now completely taken over the house despite early morning hunting expeditions with a lurid green Robert Dyas 'feather duster' and a healthy dose of moth-rage.

And the poor car, languishing on Gumtree. Alas, it's the scrap merchants on Saturday so I can reboot and re-wheel, for very soon touring starts and so does travelling with the documentary.

Here on the red chairs, students have been showing up every half an hour since 10.30 a.m.
At 3, I got a tea break.
Will the late afternoon students show up?
If not, I'm off to TK Maxx to look for bargainz, or ugly things to feel pity for. In fact, I think I'll do that anyway.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Screenings Start...

This is off to Brighton: a hard drive with the film on it. First screening in Liverpool next Friday!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Brighton Gig Soon

This is coming up at the end of March- proper gig! With the amazing Pat Fish and Asbo Derek:


Today looked like a steep hill, until the chap at the coffee shop gave me a free coffee. I smiled all the way to work and I don't even mind that I got up early and the first student hasn't arrived, and hasn't sent an apology for not turning up. I almost feel like singing The Hills Are Alive or jumping in the air for joy and clicking my heels, but everyone would stare at me, and I'm not an exhibitionist.

I'm in a good mood, anyway. Yesterday's recording went extremely well, apart from the fact that I had messed up the cello arrangement which is beautifully played, but not written correctly. So that's a project for the weekend. And also, after three years of feeling like a robot, I feel like a human being again; I don't know what has brought this on, but it's a lovely feeling.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Squeezing Time

Yesterday was a good day. Sleepy morning students converted a Shakespeare sonnet into 'now' English by rummaging through a dogeared Thesaurus. Later, Mikey Georgeson (AKA David Devant and his Spirit Wife) showed up and charmed the songwriters, getting them to sing along to a song which he played on a handy uke. He told us about his first drawings at Art College: plumbing supplies. His lecturers complained so he made it into into a catalogue song, Work, Lovelife, Miscellaneous. It's always lovely when songwriters play their songs on guitar and then show a video of the fancy version. The students can see the nuts and bolts of the thing. Stuart Moxham did this last year; he did a fantastic talk and the students loved him. Katy Carr came the year before and did the same thing. I love my job, sometimes.
Newt week I'm going to talk to Mikey's illustration students in exchange.
Later, Karina Townsend and me squeezed into an edit suite, and recorded the tenor sax parts for two of my new songs. There was a short break to listen to a neo-soul track that three students were writing in the next door room, and then I came away with some fab music on the memory stick.
I can't wait for Wednesday!
I've got Gillian Wood's cello parts and also the stems of the version of Saturday Night With The London Set with Vic Godard, Dave Morgan and the amazing Ruth Tidmarsh playing on it, to mix to match the rest of the songs on the album.
Work this avo avo avocado.....

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Some Dates...

30thMarch Latest Music Bar, Brighton supporting Pat Fish and Asbo Derek

28thApril The Golden Guinea, Bristol; Pop! Not Hate benefit with Lonely Tourist, Jonny Kinkaid, the Tall Boy, the 12-Hour Foundation
(afternoon gig, free)

10thMay The Tin at the Coal Vaults, Coventry with The Sunbathers and Peter Hall

11thMay Spring Bank House, Hull, House concert

18thMay Star and Shadow, Newcastle, with The Band of Holy Joy, Oldfield Youth Club and Hector Gannett

26thMay The Lexington, London with The Band of Holy Joy, Oldfield Youth Club and Arrest! Charlie Tipper; Pop! Not Hate benefit

2nd June The Salty Dog, Northwich My Kinda Pop! Supporting BMX Bandits with Jetstream Pony, the Popguns, Nervous Twitch, Soda Fountain Rag: Sold Out

20thJune The Betsey Trotwood, London, supporting Pauline Murray: Sold Out

25thJuly  The Lantern Theatre, Sheffield with Duncan Parsons

4thAugust Middlesbrough Town Hall, with Gem Andrews

6th December The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle with Vic Godard and Subway Sect, GG Allan Partridge and the Noise and the Naïve

Sunday Morning Song from the Kitchen 4 U


Just done a count-up: seventeen songs recorded, to choose 12 from.
I got up at 8 to write a cello part this morning, and sent it off about an hour ago.
It's brilliant having a head full of music, just so much better than anything else on offer; that's why it's hard to stop.
I am going to secretly carry on. As in the previous posting, don't tell anyone.
I might be a musical gnat to you, but inside I'm a musical elephant, stampeding as we speak.
I need to think of an album title.
No, not 40 Annoying Hamsters. Been and gone.
Maybe I should dial 'Dream' tonight and see what turns up...


The wind blew me across the road a few times yesterday- having a guitar on your back is a bit like having a sail, and you tend to get thrown around a bit by nature.
It's fun, actually, but don't tell anyone I said that.
Yesterday after interviewing a student for the MA that I lecture on, I headed on the train to what felt like the depths of Kent but was actually simply a suburb in a different direction from mine, earwigging lots of conversations that I didn't want to listen to particularly, to start finishing the album. I had a fiddle part from Simon Walker to put in there, and also played a bit of Melodica, which I haven't put on anything since the first solo album that I did.
And I sang.

I am not sure whether to write about Friday. I went to a funeral in Shropshire. 
I think not yet; but it was fantastic to know that a person who we had all known when we were young tearaways had been such an amazing husband and father. The weather was chilly and damp and forbidding, but the love in that chapel was incredibly heartwarming and sincere. I am so glad I went.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Happy International Women's Day!

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Talk in Southampton

Talk in Southampton coming up later in the year...

In Which Machines All Break At Once

Car: it's going to have to be scrapped. It's tried to kill me too many times!
Washing machine: the man's next door sploshing away with buckets. I can't bear to look.
Freezer: iced up solid. So much for self-defrosting! Can I afford to waste all that food when I defrost it? How many peas can I eat in the next 48 hours?
Self: less said the better. Luckily I am busy working on stuff, so no time to mope.
Metronome: the battery ran itself down and melted and it won't count any more.
Strangely, all these einsturzende Maschinen are having no effect on my ability to write songs. Quite the opposite, in fact.
And the washing machine man has just shown me how to mend the problem. That's pretty nifty. I like that.

Monday, March 04, 2019

30th March in Brighton

I am SO LOOKING FORWARD to this gig! I have just sat and marked 23 essays; it will be a relief to tread the musical boards and have a good sing.
Big thanks to Nick Linazasoro for this article!
I think there are still some tickets left for this wizzer of a bill: Pat Fish from the Jazz Butcher, and jolly funsters Asbo Derek who make me laugh out loud with their risqué humour.
Come to Brighton for the evening!
You know it makes sense!
We might have exited the EU by then, or we might not (I sincerely hope the latter). It will be a night of commiseration or celebration depending on who and where you are.
I will be playing a solo version of The Chefs' Records and Tea as well as some songs from The Sea (2017) plus Saturday Night with the London Set (and I'll have vinyl singles with that on, for the princely sum of a fiver each) and some songs from the album-to-be which still hasn't got a name. One thing's certain: it's not going to be called 'Forty Annoying Hamsters'.
Ticket link here:

Almost Sold Out

40 Annoying Hamsters

I dreamt a great dream last night: a game called 40 Annoying Hamsters, or at least that was my final search word. I'm going to try to remember how to play it. During the dream, I also invented some rather funky little wicker hamster cages.
Two funs for the price of one!!!

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Bird Talk From The Kitchen

A day of marking. A girl needs a break.

Red Food

Listening to Happy House in a café that looked like it had been decorated with the dregs of an interior designer's cupboard, Offsprog Two and me each ate one of these each.
That was it for the rest of the day.
Glazed eyes, sugar high, sloth.
Worth it!

Friday, March 01, 2019

Shuffling In Wearing Slippers

iPlayer is shuffling some odd tracks this afternoon. It has apparently just woken up from hibernation, and can not decide whether to be manically energetic or to limp about forgetting where it's put its toothbrush (it's in the fridge).
It unearthed this amongst the buried peanuts.
Jim Hoyland mixed this.
Where is he now? He was good at this sort of stuff.

In Uncut, On Vic's Album

Serious Dottery

I can't stand jogging, but writing dots makes me think that even jogging would be better than this. Restless!!!! (but almost finished)

Twenty Five Quid

I got £25 from the MCPS today and started planning an enormous party for all of my millions of friends.
Then I looked again, and they have taken that much off it and made it zero.
I'm not sure how come they did that, but there are so many baddies in the world these days. Im going to tell the Sheriff so they can sort them out.
No, I was right to be talking in sharps after all.

Cello Hello

It's taken half an hour to realise I should be talking in flats where I've been talking in sharps.
Don't tell anyone!

Stumpy Tree

The people over the back have pollarded the tree where the birds used to sit and tweetle in the mornings.
Not only do the birds feel this loss (puzzled bluetits are hopping from branch to branch on a neighbouring sapling wondering what's going on) but I too feel it: I feel it as pain. Don't guffaw with derision! When the local soundscape is drills, cars, lorries, hammers and people in the street swearing into their mobile phones, the robins, bluetits, goldfinches and blackbirds who start carolling at dawn create a priceless start to the day. I love them.

In the back yard, I've planted a white-barked birch (there's a tongue twister in there somewhere) partly in the hope that it will stop people peering into the kitchen from their illegal loft conversion, but also in the knowledge that ants love birch trees, and birds love ants.
Grow quickly, tree!

Today I am looking for a stash of manuscript paper to write out cello parts. It's a very long time since I did this, and thankfully I've got some old parts to use as reference. Music theory is an absolute mystery to me still, but  I should be able to work out some of it from the sound waves on the computer. I am as excited as a child at a party about this recording, and desperately impatient to carry on with it. It's got to the point where I need to sit and make a plan rather than bouncing from one session to the next like a mad puppy, so that's what I'm going to do later on.

Tout a l'heure!