Thursday, October 31, 2019


Actually, I'm very happy because so many of the students I'm teaching have found work placements.
Yes, extremely happy!đŸ˜€


I'm trying to convince myself (again) that losing one earring doesn't matter.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


There's a new song on the way, to begin new sets with next year.
I had a great idea for the chorus- then realised I'd used that melody already.
Ha ha!
It's all the more fun to dodge around that and find something different.
What am I doing at the bottom of a well though?
That's where the lyrics have gone.
I'll listen to the echoes for the answer.

Friday at The Greenbank, Easton, Bristol

I will be playing in Bristol this Friday with The Lovely Basement at The Greenbank Pub in Bristol.
They are a great band and I might even play some new songs. Upstairs, from 8 p.m.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


I scheduled a tutorial for Dave yesterday.
I asked and asked, but he never piped up.
It turned out that there is no Dave in the class.
I must have misread the class list, but I like the idea of an invisible student and I will continue to teach him for the rest of the year.
Every University needs a Dave!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Vauxhall City Farm, Now And Then

From Record Mirror, in 1984. Kerstin Rogers took this photo, then we went to the Vauxhall Tavern for a drink. Those earrings got nicked from a gig at a London University shortly afterwards. The hat, which I paid for with £25 I found on a bus, got completely eaten by moths a couple of years ago. I've still got the green belt.
About ten years later, when I was a youth worker in Peckham, I took some young people to Vauxhall City Farm and they refused to sit next to me on the bus back, because I'd picked up a hen on that visit too!
The goats and the pig are new friends that I made on Sunday, and the vulture perches on top of a nearby house next to some allotments. Thanks to the Offsprogs, whose idea it was to go there.
McCookerybook, the animal's friend.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

An Afternoon with Asbo Derek and The Astronauts

It was sunny in Brighton yesterday afternoon, but with a nasty little nip in the air if you weren't careful. Thankfully, a warm welcome awaited those fortunate enough to know about the special matinée at The Prince Albert, the famous Brighton music pub a gnat's cough away from the station. Brian, well-thumped (more of that later) drummer of Asbo Derek was there already, but the pub wasn't open yet: luckily, Joe Davin, top session musician of the day, was walking up the road with his Dad and we went for coffee and a chewy sourdough sandwich while The Astronauts did their soundcheck. Joe was overcome by the amount of stylophones he had been offered; and not only was he playing stylophone for me, but he was also playing keyboards for The Astronauts. Almost as soon as we got back to the Prince Albert, so did the audience.
It was obvious that this was going to be a great afternoon.
Brian started the proceedings with a story that rambled along amiably with such finesse that I was always two beats behind with laughing at the funny bits. In a nutshell (yes, I'm going to spill the beans, or nuts if you like, because then he'll have to write more stories) when Brian was on holiday in Greece, an Albanian misunderstood him when he said he had been a social worker working with children, as being a 'sexual worker' working with children. The entire hotel turned against him and two of the guests wanted to thump him until the matter was resolved, and he spent the rest of the holiday dining out on the story.
Drinking out on the story.
Up I leapt for my bit, a selection of hits from my repertoire finished off neatly with The Band That Time Forgot, during which I hoped like hell that I wouldn't forget any of it, and knew that once Joe arrived with his stylophone the song was nearly over. Readers it was worth it, if only for the collective wince when the Stylophone solo began! And also for the lusty choral audience singing for the chorus of At The Bathing Pond, which was remarkably strong and tuneful for a Saturday afternoon when everybody's hangovers still probably hadn't worn off.
Then dear Asbo Derek clambered on to the stage: how I have missed them! Their good-natured bad temper ('Get on wi' it!'), their thrashing chords, their pure punk silliness, Brian getting cramp, Jem stomping about the stage waving his arms madly and digging about in his brain for yet more innuendo, Darcy and Mark looking at each other as if they are desperately imagining themselves to be in a different band. I loved the new song Pheasant Attack so much that I almost didn't sulk because they didn't play The Buddhist Lost Property.
Almost, but not quite.
Steve's live mix was so good that entirely new lyrical meanings emerged and new layers of grubbiness materialised. I could hear my friends, who'd been Asbo Derek virgins until now, roaring with laughter beside me.
Oh the joy!
I want Asbo Derek for Christmas please, Santa!
More stories from Brian, then Lee McFadden's dream of Lou Read singing Send in the Clowns was brought to life in front of our very ears. It was a hit!
Finally, The Astronauts landed on the stage and treated the packed venue to a feast of tightly-rehearsed progressive rock, sometimes sounding like early Pink Floyd, and at others like Soft Machine's third album. Their drummer is amazing: in fact all of the musicianship is amazing. Touchingly they were joined by Hawkwind's flute and sax player, Nik Turner, who happened to be in Brighton because The Hawklords were playing at The Dome last night, and Helen Robertson sang with them too.
It was fun, friendly, musical, warm-hearted and beat my normal poor sad Saturday afternoon occupation of watching the Come Dine with Me omnibus with a bag of Doritos hands-down.
What a great idea, matinée gigs! Big slice of pheasant pie for Asbo Derek!

Weird London Life

Chance found me in company in Vauxhall Gardens this morning, walking across the muddy wormcasts that had burst through the scrubby grey-green surface in the night.
A child-sized car (lurid blue) was whizzing about on the grass with a blond infant inside wobbling about unsteadily. On closer inspection, we saw that the car was controlled by distant Father, with a remote control box with an antenna in his hands; the infant was completely at Father's mercy, reversing and turning at daddy's whim. Backwards, forwards, on to the path and back on to the grass. A nearby family was in fits of laughter, watching the helpless baby darting about; they called across to Father and asked how it all worked.

'Don't take photographs!', ordered the Offsprogs.
I did, but mostly just with my eyes.
As we strolled into Vauxhall City Farm, a large carthorse had noticed the commotion and it ambled over to the wooden fence, hanging it's head over the wooden bars in curiosity.
We left it watching the baby intently, and went to visit the goats, whose visitors were screaming in terror as the animals nibbled goatfeed from their outstretched palms.

Ah, Sunday morning in London. Nowt like it!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Surfeit of Stylophones

What a lot of R*lf Harris conversations were conducted this afternoon!
Joe Davin, bless his musical cotton socks, sourced a stylophone (potentially an entire herd of them, in fact) from Steve Drennan, so he could play the stylophone solo in The Band That Time Forgot.
Apparently Brian Blaney instructed him to make all the mistakes that I made in my recorded version (recorded in haste and with a keyring stylophone with a broken connection in it's stylo).
Joe made his own deliberate mistakes, after coping with the fact that Steve's Stylophone was a tone higher than mine is.
Apparently Shend had offered him one too, and we wondered about a Stylophone Orchestra, but people were not keen on the idea for some unfathomable reason.
Thank you Joe, for stepping in so late in the day (and before playing keyboards for the Astronauts too!).
Steve offered Joe the Stylophone after the gig, but he politely declined.

Ah, the R*lf Harris conversations! Jem told me that The Court of King Caractacus was his favourite song. There was general agreement that an even worse revival of the wobble board should be avoided.
Somehow we got on to Chesty Morgan, and I discovered that I know a lot about Chesty Morgan (but I don't know how).
Jem was offered the loan of two Chesty Morgan videos.
Did this really happen this afternoon?
And we discovered that there's a p*rn video called 'Nine Elvises'.
Oh deary me!
Lovely to see Jon, Jill, Simon, Kim, Steve, Lee (who played a song he dreamed the other night, Lou Reed playing Stephen Sondheim), and a great big crowd on a Saturday afternoon.
I'll write more tomorrow.
And Steve on sound! Hooray!

I WILL Write About It, I WILL (but just not tonight!)

Friday, October 18, 2019

Tomorrow Afternoon (Saturday) at The Prince Albert, Brighton

Free McCookerybook will be playing a short set at 1.30 and then hanging around to spoil the afternoon after that. After all, I'm free!
I have eaten too many crisps today and I lost my voice from teaching long days this week, but I am sure everything will go swimmingly well tomorrow afternoon, even though there is 100% chance that I'll forget the words of my special tribute to Absolute Ferret or whatever they are called.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Lexington, March Next Year

This was Neil Palmer's initiative, promoted by Bizarro Promotions.
It's going to be a unique evening with each of us performing with a guest musician, I think.

Not-ify on Spotify

Nobody ever asks me if I'm on Spotify or not because I'm not important enough.
But if they did, I'd tell them it's because of their homeopathic approach to royalty payments: wafting a hint of money in the direction of the artists who release their music on there, and expecting that to do.
Under the radar is better at present.
If I suddenly develop the need to be megafamous, you'll be the first to know.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Miniature Vinyl Album Next Year

I've just picked up these test pressings, fresh from Germany, of a miniature album which will be released next year.
It's a 33 1/3 7" vinyl record with five tracks on each side, the shorter of which is 30 seconds and the longest of which is two minutes.
The sleeves will be hand-stamped with illustrations, and hand coloured and numbered- there are only going to be 100 of these in vinyl although I'll do a digital release too on Bandcamp.
I've got a box of custom made rubber stamps, a vintage John Bull printing set, and itchy fingers to get started, but it's going to take ages to do them all (hence next year release).
But I need to make sure it sounds good first!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Friday, October 11, 2019

The No Idea Bath

Yes, definitely poorly. Normally I have to get out of the bath in the morning to write down a storm of ideas. Nothing there today: blank grey felt in my head.

Extreme Cough

I have got a cough that could rattle the bars of hell.
The regular inhalation of my morning cup of tea at the antics of Sweary Bercow on Twitter probably doesn't help, but it's also probably to do with the volume of students and their combined viruses as the beginning of the new term.
Normally I can escape this by regular and frantic hand-washing, but a germ seems to have slipped through the net and taken up residence in my chest.
This morning I was going to record some guitar playing, which is OK because I don't need a voice to do that, but you do need energy and I haven't got that. I missed my evening class last night too, which is completely unheard of. Sometimes I wake up in my seat to the voice of the instructor saying 'Helen's fallen asleep' (Thursday's a busy day at work) but I always normally get there.
Looks like it's out to the chemist for some medicine, and a day in front of the TV watching Bargain Hunt and various cosy programmes that would drive me bonkers if I was feeling healthy.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Extinction Rebellion at Westfield Stratford

This was a really effective living statue today- she caused quite a stir just outside the temple of greed. A policeman looked on in puzzlement, maybe wondering if it's illegal to stand on top of a bin for ages or not.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

O Rest Ye Your Weary Buttock!

For a weary child?
A small person with a tiny B.T.M.?
Or a very, very tired person content to just rest half of their bum?
We'll never know unless I knock on their door and ask them.
Shall I?

I Remember

I remember what it's like to sit and yak with friends.
It's nice.
Sometimes, work takes over and pretends that's what life is all about.
It's not.
Yakking and laughing is the best!
A cloud flew overhead last week; while it was passing, a small thought flew through my head in the opposite direction.
'I don't believe in you!', said my thought.
It was a big help, that little thought.
The cloud flew away.
Tonight, I remembered the trick of pretending that a tough situation was a soap opera, with a cast of characters acting true to type and true to script.
Instead of being intimidated, I looked forward to the next episode where everyone behaved appallingly badly, just as the writers intended, leaving each episode with terrible cliffhanger.
It's an amazing way to cope with difficult situations: try it!

Monday, October 07, 2019

Z, Z and more Z

Well, that's one ticket to An Evening With Gary Crowley not used, much to my regret.
Somehow I have managed to teach for six solid hours today, and I was on the way to The Cockpit Theatre having used every trick in the book to stay awake (drinking water, eating food, forcing my eyelids apart with matchsticks) when I dropped off on the tube and decided that I should come home to save the potential embarrassment of being the audience member who falls asleep and snores due to complete wipeoutery.
This is a shame because I booked the ticket yonks ago, and was really looking forward to it. Gary has played my music a lot, he is really entertaining, and I wanted to return the support. I know it's sold out, anyway, so he will have a brilliant night.
Sadly, at 7.55 I am home and heading to bed.
This is desperately un-rock'n'roll I know, but I have been getting to know this year's song writing students, playing Northern Soul tracks to them, listening to their significant songs, and setting them a project for the first half of the year.
Energy gone. Good night!

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Paranoid, by Black Sabbath

There is something fantastically satisfying about listening to Ozzy Osborne's voice bellowing it's way through Paranoid after a hard day at work.
And those harsh guitars playing that crisp snarly riff!
Yes yes! That's the way to go!
No subtlety, no AMSR, no hair combing, purring, quiet zips or whispering.
Thank you heavy metal, for your complete lack of bullshit and your welcome simplicity!