Thursday, January 30, 2020


On Thursdays I get up at six: if I leave the house too late it takes me two hours to get to work because of the crowds of people.
This morning, I woke up at 4.30.
A bird was yelling at the top of its voice in the garden next door, and I couldn't get back to sleep.
At about 5.30 I gave up, and got up.
I was suspiciously energetic, but headed off to work unfeasibly early. I spotted this in Camden: a half shod woman must have stumbled home last night. Nobody else appeared to notice it but it was there, definitely.
There wasn't even time for a tea break today; there were 12 tutorial slots of half an hour each, with extra people in the no-show gaps with queries and stuff like that. By 3.30 I was half dead; the suspicious energy had gone, but I still managed to remember to book a rehearsal for me and Johny on Monday evening so I can learn more of Johny's songs. And I found a song I'd blearily sung on to my phone at some point during the day, I don't know when.
It's early evening now, and I'm ready to sleep. Tea is on the go, the TV is swinging between mute and not (too many Tories: Laura Kuennsberg, Laurence Fox, Emilia Fox.... there's nothing I can watch any more!).
Where's that detective novel?

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Acid Brass, Under the Bridge

Offsprog Two and her crew! We got there far too early and talked about art exhibitions, Hastings and how posh Under the Bridge is, in a very quirky way (lampshades a-la-Anne Summers, according to one of the party).
Acid Brass is a project dreamed up by Jeremy Deller for this big band from Stockport, The Williams Fairey Band, playing predominantly 90s acid house songs. As soon as they hit the stage, the euphonium players hauling their massive instruments up to their lips, the music hit us with a bang and it was impossible not to dance. What energy- and what perfect tempo, timing, and all that jazz! Their drummer is a genius of marching band detail- I was wildly jealous of his hi-hat skills, but every member of the band is 100% committed and an excellent player. There are lots of women players, taking starring roles, and the conductor is what Action Man could only dream of being- he charges across the front of the stage, stabbing the air with his baton, mouthing instructions, papers and scores scattering in the wind of his energy. His holiday camp style exhortations between songs only add to the atmosphere, and the band laugh along indulgently. We were in front of the aforementioned euphoniums (euphonia?) close enough to hear the intricacy of the arrangements, which are detailed, very cleverly observed, and absolutely unique.
I have snippet of film which I probably can't upload here, but here's their best one on record.
Testament to how good they were, I danced for the entire almost an hour and a half that they played. I had gone out the night before too, and might write about that later when I take a break- and I had a very busy day yesterday. But they were completely energising and I'm so glad I went.
Now, I'm going to start finishing the book. I sent off the article on Friday: there was nothing more I could do, so off it went. I hope to get there with the book, too, this week or next week. See you later!

Friday, January 24, 2020


Good: sent off academic article (book still yet to be finished); wrote out chords for A Good Life with a Bad Apple for the double bass player for the Lexington gig; finished a new song.
Bad: locked myself out of my house and had to pay a fortune to get back in again; iPad appears to be dying and won't upload to Wetransfer.

I'm so tired! There's been so much music this week, so much writing, so much teaching. But look what it's like out there: GREY.
Might as well be busy, huh?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Terry Jones

The thing about Terry Jones is that he was political. No namby pambying about and being afraid of annoying people in the business- he had a company called Smith Bundy Video in the late 1980s/early 90s (I think) which made left wing videos, and made a promo film for Shelter, for instance, before it was afraid to be an actively political charity. I used to write music for them, that's how I know: Alexei Sayle charging down the street and pretending to be a rogue landlord, that sort of thing.
I met Terry Jones at one of their parties, and he was mingling with everyone in a very unfamous way. I rather liked the fact that he was there in his jumper in ordinary old Brixton with a bunch of feminists, black activists and wannabe film-makers before it got gentrified, while the others from Monty Python were in LA or Notting Hill drinking the best wine.
I am very sorry to hear that he has died, and sorrier still to hear how much he suffered from such a cruel disease. It is still great to have admired him for having principles though.
More people like that, please!

(and less people like Laurence Fox, please)


Teaching can be tiring but it's also extremely rewarding when you are working with talented people- not just mechanical or aesthetic talents, but with people talents.
It's heartening to know that despite feeling that the world is run by big ******s for the benefit of other big ******s, there are people who think and act for the benefit of the greater good.
This matters a lot.

Sunday, January 19, 2020


Despite it being January, these guys were out in the woods in full display on Saturday. Once you noticed them, they were everywhere. Later, my walking companion and me got lost on a massive, deserted golf course. It was terrifying- like a scene from Oh Lucky Man or something. At any moment, a golf cart carrying thugs in uniform and carrying rifles might have turned up, snapped handcuffs on to us and carried us off to be experimented on. Luckily, after about an hour's wandering and a huge leap over an impossibly wide, fast-running and very cold-looking stream, some golfers materialised and told us how to get out. Apart from that- I'm still writing. The dull and dismal days are passing at a fast and furious rate, but I do believe I'm getting there.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Progressive Punk Rock

It felt like there had been no progress with my writing at all today- a morning spent reading, searching for and ordering library books to be picked up next week; making some corrections and shifting paragraphs about this afternoon- but somehow I've reached the last paragraph of the article on punk. The last few sentences, even.
I have thrown away a stack of earlier drafts, and tidied up the reference book pile (yesterday's haul was useless, apart from the annoying male academic who slags off female academics and doesn't appear to notice that it's only the women he criticises).
So, progress has been made!

Part of the day has been spent being appalled at Laurence Fox. I don't normally watch BBC's Question Time because it has always had such an air of a set-up job, but clips of it were circulating on Twitter, and I couldn't help but see it. After the thoughts inspired by yesterday's symposium, it was almost as though fate served up a scripted example of a famous and privileged white man interrupting and talking over a woman from the audience who had been invited to speak, and who was trying to disagree with him. That's the last time I ever watch him in anything! I can't imagine what it must be like working with him.
Or rather, I can.
I have worked with people like him and it's shockingly awful.

I'm having a day off tomorrow, then going back to writing the book on Sunday. It's reached a similar point to the article, though scaled up to 70,000 words rather than 7000. There are tons of bits and pieces, loose ends to tie up, and it'll probably be another two weeks before it feels 'almost finished'.
I should probably start printing and painting the covers for Pea Soup soon. I should probably also get some new photographs done, but I look like an underdone Cornish Pasty at the moment: kind of pinched in and flabby.
I may just have to live with this: I have reached the point of future dread!

Friday Lovers 4 U

Thursday, January 16, 2020

A Day Of Failed Missions

Marched to Stratford campus library: picked up two books on Heavy Metal; marched to the other campus to a diversity symposium (fantastic as always). Hadn't realised it was morning-only, so found myself with spare afternoon.
Printed out academic article and last chapter of book. First printer I tried didn't work. Always happens.
Asked security guards if a book I ordered was there at the desk, because I'd had an email to say it was. Over-efficient, a porter had taken it upstairs to the post room, where it still is behind a door that I have forgotten the door code to.
Came home and sat.
Got bus to Post Sorting Office to pick up parcel. It won't be back there till tomorrow. Postman still has it.
Set off for evening class, and was almost there when I discovered that it had been cancelled.
Came home and went to supermarket to buy food.
Checkout lady was humming: 'It's very good for stress: you should try it!'
Came home and ate the food.
Just done another hour's work on the article: two crucial pages to go before it's finished, and I'm too tired to do them tonight so I'm writing this instead.
Excuse the hurryprose. It's just one of them sorta days.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Birthday Brown Things

I had a birthday not so long ago.
Luckily, I'm so old that I can't remember how old I was!
More luckily still, Gina took me to The Wolseley for brunch, and told them it was my birthday celebration. Big thanks, Gina!
They very kindly brought out these brown things, which are incredibly impressive.
I believe custard is involved somehow.
They will be cracked open after I've digested brunch, which happened six and a half hours ago, and which I'm still digesting.
Maybe I should eat posh grub more often: it's remarkably long lasting.
(and yes, I came home and started writing again. This part of it is called 'getting rid of the red bits' and mostly involves me copying them and pasting them into a file called 'Edited Out').
What is left may, or may not, make sense. I'm beyond being able to understand it.

Monday, January 13, 2020


Maybe it's to early to 'assess' the day.... I managed to read and take notes from three academic articles this morning, went shops, and then lost my drive for writing!

This afternoon I realised that I have to write out the chords for my songs for this gig at the Lexington on 21st of March, because (thanks to Drew Morrison of Country Soul sessions fame) I have recruited a double bass player. I had double bass playing on the Suburban Pastoral album and also the Christmas Assortment EP, and have used cello quite often- live, too, when I first started up again in 2006. But I've never played live with a double bass before, which is exciting and scary in equal parts.
Transcribing chords takes a long time, because I don't pay attention to what the chords are when I write songs: I just play what sounds right, and even make up chords if I have to, which is awkward it you're trying to tell another musician how to play your songs. I've done two so far, with another three almost done. I might send those ones off tonight if I can finish them, and then go back to academic writing tomorrow.
Work has started up again, too which means that it's going to be bloody busy, but I've been bloody busy before and managed perfectly adequately.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Fold Up

That's another day's writing in the can. I hope that the article for Popular Music History will be ready to send off after one more day's work, and I hope they accept it (!). Tomorrow, I'll work on the book again. I'm going through the conclusion and there are three academic articles to read before approaching it again.
Meanwhile, a few gigs are showing up and I hope to be able to call that a 'tour' in a couple of weeks' time!
It looked nice out there today. I was in here eating toast and cherries and concentrating, with the comforting backdrop of the washing machine gurgling through its load.
At least I didn't feel like the only thing working.

Friday, January 10, 2020

On Being Miniature

Somehow, I managed to work until 9 p.m. yesterday evening.
Bloody Presbyterian work ethic! If you don't do something socially useful for a living, you're socially useless... how I wish I could shake it off.
A lot of it has been academic reading rather than writing, and then there was the admin stuff to do with my job.
I'm just about to dive into 'Writing 2'. I am writing two things simultaneously; editor's responses have turned up for both of the pieces that Dave Laing was due to edit; and the deadline for both is roughly the same- the end of January. I spend one day doing one, the next day doing the other, writing songs in between (actually, in my head through the night: sleep is a stranger at the moment).
In about a week's time I'm going to start manufacturing the covers for the Pea Soup album.
Why do an album so tiny, a 7" piece of vinyl, with 5 miniature songs on each side?
Well, women are taught to be miniature, aren't we? We have to fit into spaces below men in the pecking order, being as invisible and as amenable as possible, otherwise we are 'loud'.
I'm not particularly loud, because I'm a natural introvert in extrovert land (the music industry), but I'm louder than a lot of women, thanks to punk, and my 'noise' has been remarked upon constantly throughout my life. By men! Just because I say what I believe, and not what I am supposed to believe. For the Slits documentary, I talked a bit about how when you are born (or at least, when my generation of women was born), almost the first thing were are taught was to 'shut up'. Even now, an invisible hand covers my mouth before I say anything, and I talk for a living. I have to bust through it every time, still. This is why song writing has been so great- the words sail out of your mouth without that happening.
Back to Pea Soup...  it's a celebration of that tininess, a parody of the Small World, recorded and made as carefully as any artist would make a Big One. Finished by hand, making a craft of an object that should be mass-produced. It's also a comment on the music industry's scale that shrinks music into a commodity, into 'units' that are 'shifted'.
Every one of these units will be carefully made; 'blah' to bigness, 'blah' to shutting up. My life is big enough for me, and my voice is loud enough too, thanks to music.

Monday, January 06, 2020

January Song 4 U

I loved this CD cover, designed by Emerald Moseley.
January in Paris a melancholy song of loss and lovelessness.
I'm not sad any more, and there's no sadness left in any of my memories of Paris, either.
I have learned that whether or not you're in a relationship, your happiness has to come from within. You can't solve anyone else's problems, nor can they solve yours; and nor should you, and nor should they.
It has been an enormous relied to realise this!
I travelled to Paris for the day this summer, because there wasn't time for a proper holiday. I put on my best party dress, got up early and caught the Eurostar. I spent part of the time at the Philharmonie visiting the Music Technology exhibition, then did a random Metro journey and found a secret garden beside a canal leading to the Seine.
It was a magical thing to do, and rather gave me the bug for spontaneous solo travels!

Graftuary (sorry, but it's all the rage to mutate the month, isn't it?)

At the moment I'm ricocheting between revising an article for an academic journal (I've been recommended to read my own work, somewhat ironically: referees are sent anonymised versions of your draft), and finishing my book. Today has been 'article' day; I've slashed, burned, re-written and also found an earlier, better version that I've pilfered some of.
I've sliced out two thousand words (they said it was too long).
I don't know how many hours I've worked on it today, but I haven't poked my nose outside the door.
Somewhere along the line, I decided that it would be a good proposal for a Radio 2 programme. Later, perhaps.

What is really said is that both of these pieces of writing were supposed to have been edited by Dave Laing. I'm still missing him dreadfully: his wisdom, humour and unique academic perspective.
Things move on, yes; but older and wiser people are absolutely priceless as mentors and advisors.
Real male feminists are also incredibly rare.

Tomorrow is admin day, and later in the week I'll spend time on the book, which I really believe is almost finished. I'm waiting for some material from the new editor, which I'll have to email and remind her of.

In the breaks between writing, I'm still writing songs. The current one is rather bleak although like almost everything else I write, it's got a merry tune.
I can hear traffic sloshing thought the rain outside, so maybe it's not such a bad thing to be grafting through January, although I do understand that my blog postings are rather tedious at the moment.

Maybe I should tell you more about my research? I could write a book on that!

Sunday, January 05, 2020

The Clash, Museum of London

There's a tiny exhibition of Clash memorabilia at the Museum of London that I went to with some friends yesterday- it's worth it, even though you can look around it in half an hour. I particularly liked the song books- lovely! Not so sure about the smashed up bass guitar, though.

Friday, January 03, 2020

Writing (again)

All I can do is write something that I can be proud of, I think.
I still have more research to do, but I can say that the end of this massive project is in sight.
I gave up one of my part time jobs in order to finish this book.
Is that dedication or am I a fool? I have no idea, but in my heart I feel that this is slow politics and there might be some effect from it.
I feel so powerless, just like so many other people; so much of this has to do with my gender, and like a lot of women I can't speak out, or I will be silenced. The sound so dramatic, doesn't it? But it's true.
The concept of equality is the biggest joke I've heard in my lifetime.
Not only that but as I writer I've been completely stereotyped as only writing about punk.
This is enormously irritating!
Sorry for short 'barking' sentences. I've been writing long ones.