Sunday, September 29, 2019

Caroline Coon at Tramps, Micawber Street

This is Caroline with Stephen Mahoney (of La Beat Route fame) at the opening of her show of magnificent paintings this evening. The heart of London arts were there: Peter Doig, Gina Birch, Jeremy Dellar, Bishi... it was humming with conversation, champagne and chocolate doughnuts.
You must go to see it!

Scaledown Is Mad

These are from Scaledown. Where else can you see a woman singing along to self-punched code run through a wind-up musical box and jumping with two feet on a gigantic plastic piano to accompany herself (Pettaluck), wild improvisation form double bass and sax (Martin Clarke and Otto Willberg), projecting tarot cards on to the ceiling (Blanca Regina), dressing as a monk with a speaker for a face and overcoming a technical hitch that involves pulling a jack lead through your habit and plugging it into your face (The Order of Limerant Monks), a poet whose private parts have appeared in a book of private parts (Carl Chamberlain), an utterly charming multilingual ukulele player who plays the instrument as well as an old blues guy might strum his axe (Rita Braga), and a final act who performs their set despite white noise emanating from a mixing desk manned by two drunken hosts (Papernut Cambridge)?
Scaledown. Unique, friendly, annoying, fantastic, entertaining, and always unpredictable.
This one, I nearly choked to death on my lime'n'soda when Mark asked the bass player of Papernut Cambridge to 'try his bass now' after a lot of knob twiddling on the desk, consulting Sean, muttering, quizzing, and taking another swig of red wine, trying to get a sound out of it.
'It's not plugged in', said the bass player, holding up the lead with the jack plug hanging from the end of it.

The Monochrome Set and Jetstream Pony

This is just a very quick posting because I am supposed to be catching up on housework and things today (but I'm not, I'm procrastinating as usual).
Jetstream Pony were absolutely ace last night. The sound in the Lexington is brilliant and the mix was perfect. They had new songs and I loved them. I can't describe their style but I'll find a good Youtube thing to post in the week.
Then the Monochrome Set, on top form. Andy Warren actually smiled, and Bid's singing was spot-on: again, the sound engineer did them proud. No The Monochrome Set, alas, but lots of back catalogue and new stuff too. I played The Monochrome Set on my phone on the way home and I've learned the chords this morning, not that I'll ever do a cover version.
And now I'm learning Johny Brown's songs for a gig in the New Year.
It was one of those lots of pals gigs too- Akiko was there, Ruth and Dave, Daisy, Damian, Petra, a woman who thought I was Gina, and of course Caryne and Dave in fine fettle; it was very friendly and happy. And who should be there but Johna, who I haven't seen for about 30 years!
I'm off to Caroline Coon's exhibition later today.
It's all go for La Flaneuse Extraordinaire who actually spends most of her time watching Holby CityCome Dine With Me and Four In A Bed, but don't tell anyone that.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

O Politix

Curiouser and Curiouser!

Working, Writing

Up at 7, watching BBC Breakfast with a fantastic interview with Gina Miller. Between her, Carol Cadwalladr and Greta Thunberg, I think women are doing pretty well in the ethics and plain speaking department these days.
I started writing at 7.30 and will be writing until this afternoon. I hope to send the second draft of my book to the editor on Friday.
University work starts again tomorrow, I've got a lovely gig in the evening (bliss!) and then some fab musical collaboration stuff coming up- with Robert Rotifer and Johny Brown.
Thankfully, it's raining and there's no temptation to go out walking.

Thursday Night in Central London: Totally Acoustic

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Raincoats Anniversary

It is the 40th Anniversary of The Raincoats' self-titled first album this year! They have gigs to celebrate and since they are a fantastic and energetic live band, you must go to see them.

London's gig is at Earth in Hackney on 10th November and you can get tickets here:
They also have a limited edition gold coloured vinyl album on sale.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Actually, Still Writing

I think I wrote for six hours today, punctuated by a dull grey walk down the side of the main road to Whetstone and back to buy some bad food from Marks and Spencer.
Lungs full of lead, I sat back down to it all before uploading the video that was much more fun to make than writing is to write. But the book is slow politics, and I've gone back to the original interviews to see what's missing so that all the producers have their say. I can only do my best.
Part of it all is taking out the pomposity!
Tomorrow morning I'll go through the pile of stuff in cardboard files (almost ten years' worth) on the cooker and see if there's anything there to include and Wednesday, when I was going to be travelling to Canterbury to work with Robert Rotifer on our co-writes (now postponed to next week), I'll go through all the red bits in the manuscript and see if I can sort them out ('notes to self').
And I might have a listen to some songs I'm going to play on for Johny Brown. They are just lovely and it's going to be great to dig in to working on them.
Now, I am going to have a cup of tea

A Good Life with a Bad Apple Video by Ruth Tidmarsh


What do you call it when your muscles stiffen up after too much songwriting?
Burt Backarache.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Hard Work

Started at 8.30 this morning preparing things for the new University term...
It's now 11.30 and I'm Taking Five before beginning work on the book manuscript.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Thirty Five Minutes

I have beaten the record for the least time ever spent working on my book in a day.
Remedy? Entire day tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Recording Today

One of my most favourite things. I have new songs and new ideas for the future!
I have done a morning's planning for the University of the East, and the rest of the week will be spent doing that and working on my book, but today I will be song heaven.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Art Boat

This art boat is floating on the River Thames outside the Tate Modern. I'm surprised no-one's hijacked it and sailed off into the dawn. It is only a matter of time.

Friday, September 13, 2019

John Bull

Hello Sir!
This chap turned up today in the service of the DIY miniature album that I've made, and will be put to work doing the sleeve notes.
I'm waiting for a sample of the rubber stamp design for the front of the sleeve, and the rest of it is proving to be a lot more complicated than that.

Deleted by Virgin

They were plugging their Barbies on Twitter- Barbies dressed in their branded uniforms.
I replied that this was wrong on so many levels, on earth as it is in heaven.
They deleted it, and I can't understand why.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Full Day

Oh God. Up at 6.30 to rush to Docklands for a course that started 45 minutes late and ran out of coffee!
Then to Stratford to show a prospective student round the studios, after eating a sandwich on the go that squirted its contents out all over the place, as I tried to eat it like the delicate lady I am, and carrying a cup of coffee that splashed through the little hole in its lid all over the place.
Then home to listen to some new masters that have been de-essed, to send back to the cutting engineer at the vinyl manufacturers.
And then a spurt of writing lyrics, for verily I'm recording next Tuesday and things are looking busy till then: more writing tomorrow, another article has turned up for corrections, some marking, some social life, some writing of student schedules for the very-soon-to-begin term.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Squirrel Stops Play

Or rather, squirrel stops work.
I've done about three hours of writing this afternoon and I'm no longer feeling that I can't finish it. The good news also is that a couple of the women I've interviewed have won prizes recently- Janet Beat and Olga Fitzroy. I hope there are more to come.
Rather depressingly, my boiler is on the blink. It will cost two holidays, a Christmas of presents and an interesting diet to fix, unless I hit eBay with a guitar. May well have to do that.
Here's the squirrel anyway. It got such a fright after I scrabbled up the fence to take this shot that it scarpered and looked even more spectacular with it's white belly and fluffy tail, but I had to keep my balance and couldn't take another photo.

Girly Swot Starts Writing Again

After a virus break (self not computer) I'm going to start again this afternoon.
I will start by reading all 30 interviews and see if there's anything to be included after 'finishing' the complete book.
The introduction and the first four chapters feel fine: it's the last three which are baffling me, the ones with the message!
Ha ha! Serves me right for being political, innit.
This morning, the practicalities of life will interfere with cerebral events: the boiler being serviced, planning the years' modules, and the laundry, now the sun's come out.
Gah! I wish I had a butler or a life intern to help out, but I'm sure everyone feels like that!

Sunday, September 08, 2019

In Production


I have come to a halt. I am having a day off to recuperate from a strange mutating virus that has sapped my energy. It's rampaging about: throat, head, nose: quite an adventurer.
I admire its creative explorations.
There is a mountain of work to climb, but I am sitting at the bottom of it having a cup of tea next to my batteries, which are plugged in for a recharge.
See you l8r.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Country Soul Sessions Video by Steven Tagg-Randall

Photo from the Country Soul Sessions

This is by the amazing Steven Tagg Randall, who also films the nights.

I have taken a pharmacy's worth of Paracetamol this morning because of the necessity of getting out and demonstrating this afternoon. It's one of those things which I will regret if I don't do.

There have been some fantastic speeches by Labour MPs this week sticking up for people who the Tories have tried to destroy.
I felt proud to be a member of the Labour Party, something I can't always say but I have felt it this week. That's you, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi and Jess Phillips. Thank you for your honesty and for the care you have for other people and bravery in sticking up for them in the middle of a mud bath of vanity and corruption.

Seems a bit 'vanity' to post a pic of myself after saying that, so I'll wait till later.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Next Gig

Challenging! Completely acoustic. I'll do this on the Spanish guitar and very probably will play some new songs. These nights are fab.


I'm really, really looking forward to the time when psychopaths go out of fashion.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Steam Train

Oh yes and I have a virus that makes my head hurt.
I am going to call the computer technician to fix it.
I've tried switching myself off and on and that hasn't helped.
Here's an extra track that didn't get on to the album
It features Simon Walker on fiddle, who I have known for my entire musical life and I am delighted that he played on this.
Thanks to Ian Button for recording, mixing and mastering too.

Writing and Musing

I'm multitasking: simultaneously writing the last two chapters of my book (oh, so slow and painful!) and at work doing my shift in clearing.
The Northern Line is not working so it took me two and a half hours to get here by bus and the Jubilee Line. I can hear the technical staff whistling and singing next door in the store room.
I stopped writing to stretch my legs. They have now been stretched.
The news is so distracting! On purely emotional level, it seems like a battle between lying psychopaths and decent and ethical people. Because psychopaths always want to be top dog, surely they will just end up obliterating each other?
The alternative (obliterating us) does not bear thinking about.
Back to work.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Monday, September 02, 2019

Making a Video in St Albans

We were going do this months ago, and now we've made a start: a tree festooned with scratched old 78s and CDs, apples crashing from its boughs, a guitar painted with blackboard paint, garden sheds, the Green Goddess... Ruth Tidmarsh is making a video for the A Good Life with a Bad Apple track.
It was fun!
Thanks also to everyone who came last night to the Country Soul Sessions. That was fun too. Family an friends plus a request from the floor for the song; and Emma Goss making up double bass lines for the songs in her head. One day, definitely: she's the best double bass player in town.
I'll be playing Mark Hibbert's totally acoustic night in a couple of weeks time and will try out some new songs there.
It's been interesting reading the reviews of the Green album, a reminder that songs belong to the imagination of the listener once they leave your own imagination as a writer.
I write about my own life a bit, and other people's lives even more; often I'm using things that seem straightforward as metaphors for something else. Thats what it's all about, innit?