Saturday, May 30, 2020


Restless legs, I have.
Whether it's hopping on trains or driving around the UK to play gigs, wandering around London town, or travelling abroad to conferences, it's rare to send so much time at home.
Barnet is full of secret walks that have opened up in the past two months. Some of the pathways have been mowed by the council to make sure people remain distanced from each other. Others are more hidden; my house guest has searched them out and we have walked through woods, fields and grasslands that I never even knew existed, hemmed as they are by forbidden and forbidding golf courses.
A different isolated world; we are all living in different isolated worlds. How frustrating to think that this is all going to be prolonged by the actions of an irresponsible government advisor who hasn't got the integrity to resign.
At the beginning of this all, the mother of one of my daughter's friends died from Covid 19, before we were even locked down. We were already being careful; a trip to Edinburgh felt risky and we all but emptied a tube of hand sanitiser on the way back on the train.
Too little, too late: later that month, another bereavement happened which underlined just how out of touch the government were (and are).
Impatient and nagged at by their business funders, they are now pretending everything is all right.
It so isn't.
It is unbearable not to have seen my daughters for months, not to have been able to hug them and sit around a table and laugh with them. A screen is not real life.
I feel so much for the  people, who have lost loved ones, and we are all living with the fear that we are going to be next.

Dexter Bentley at Noon

Dexter Bentley is playing an hour' and a half's worth of one-minute tracks today at noon. I have contributed to the show, alongside lots of others including Spinmaster Plantpot, Lucina Sieger, Tigersonic, Jude Montague Armstrong and so many more!
Here's the playlist: it's well worth tuning in!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Release for Domestic Violence Charities by the Women Composers Collective

This compilation is curated by Jude Cowan Montague, with help from Linear Obsessional recordings. We wanted to show our support for women in domestic violence and coercive control situations, especially now during lockdown where these situations are made worse.

This is my track:

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Apple Blossom

Before reading the newspaper and getting upset by it and before jumping into the rage on social media, I want to write this because I want to remember it.
The smell of a neighbour's apple blossom drifting across out back yards and gardens in the cool of the early morning and the heat of the early evening....
I have never caught such a beautiful aroma in the air from apple blossom before.
Bossy jasmine, pushy lilac, sour elderflower; but not a tree that has always seemed more of a sturdy bearer of fruit than a scenter-of-entire neighbourhoods. Just to breathe it in, in these terrible and turbulent times.
Soon it will be over. The tree will become a useful provider again, but oh, such unexpected bliss!

Monday, May 25, 2020

Desperado Housewives Song

We did this over the last couple of weeks- a musical and lyrical collaboration with a video by Jude.
I hope you like it!
The Egyptian Goose is the star, obviously.

Saturday, May 23, 2020


A New Mrs White Goose

A new Mrs White Goose has arrived at the top pond- one with a fractured wing.
Could she be a present from a bird sanctuary? She could not have flown there.
Demure, she is walking round pecking the newly-mown grass, with Mr White Goose following her at a respectful social distance.
Meanwhile, there are still feathers from the deceased Mrs White Goose strewn about the grass away up on the common. It does seem a bit soon: geese mate for life, apparently.
But someone obviously thought he must be lonely, him and his hissy temper.

Further on, a Goose Van was parked so I knew I was right, and then I looked at the logo and felt like a fool.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Right Chord Takeover Gig

This is from a couple of weeks ago. I'll post the video of yesterday's online gig soon; it was cut short by a Facebook update but I managed 19 minutes before that happened. Blooming' internet, eh?
Many thanks to Right Chord for putting me on their weekend bill!

More videos from the weekend here:

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Online Gig Tonight

This one is in aid of Gig Buddies, a Brighton charity who support people with learning disabilities so they can go to gigs with other music lovers. What a brilliant idea! I'm on at 8 p.m.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Sliding Timetables

When there is no schedule, you wake up at random times.
The earliest so far has been 5.30 (mistaken for 6.30) and the latest, 10.30.
I'm driven from bed by a takeaway curry last night.
Something in curry causes my body to superheat and I don't want to be in bed with me.
The back yard was cool in temperature and ringing with birdsong; a little blue tit landed on the fence beside me before deciding that I was a dangerous prospect, and it whizzed off again.

I also had a thought that wouldn't go away (and yes, I had a nightmare about the Prime Minister again, but let's not go into that).
On a cookery show last night, a chef was being interviewed. He was absolutely dripping with sweat because of the heat in the kitchen. It was pouring off him.
'I like to put a bit of myself in every dish', he explained to the interviewer.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Watching Out For Dogs

The giant size baby Egyptian Goslings are so brave that they can walk right up to you without being afraid. Mother Egyptian Goose and Mr Egyptian Goose hate dogs after someone let a Jack Russell jump into the pond and scare them, so they stand guard. Mr Egyptian Goose honks 'Dog, dog, dog, dog' if anyone walks past with a dog, even on a lead, and Mother Egyptian Goose takes the goslings straight into the pond.
Did I tell you about the stupid man who brought a pedigree cat on a lead, just to scare them?
Anyway, here they were yesterday with Mr Egyptian Goose in the background standing guard. 
It's getting tense. 
We know there's a hungry fox about and we want the goslings to grow up and fly away: we really do.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Chefs in the New York Times!

Another Nincompoop Nightmare

It's every night, now.
Because I've been marking student professional practice work, last night's nightmare involved the Nincompoop doing a SWOT analysis (you know: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).
He only did the 'strengths' bit, because he couldn't conceive of any of the others.
I woke up and wrote a little song that lasts probably five seconds.
It was no compensation. I'd much rather not have the nightmares.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Goodbye Mrs White Goose

Mrs White Goose was snatched by a fox last night, despite Mr White Goose's ability to clearly articulate the words 'F*ck off' if anyone got too close, and to see off any marauding dog with a flurry of beating white wings and aggressive hisses.
"How did it happen?", socially distanced lockdown goose fans speculated.
I had reported a couple of men with a lethal-looking black metal catapult to the police a few days ago. They were actually back in a car this time, but this slaughter really looked like the work of a fox, because it was obvious there had been a scrap that pulled the poor old lady right over to the edge of the common. We couldn't work out what had happened to the eggs she had been sitting on, and how the fox had got at her while she was in the duck house, either.
The Mandarin Duck and his wife sailed happily on, oblivious to last night's drama. He reminds me of a Cyberman with his beady little eyes peeping out of his helmet.
Apparently the Egyptian Geese at the main pond had started with eleven goslings, and have managed to raise seven of them. The fox was down there yesterday, but only managed to catch a couple of pigeons, whose pale grey feathers larded the grass patches in two guilty spots. We think the fox has cubs to feed.
Oh nature, thou art cruel!
At yet another pond (there seems to be a new pond every walk-time), the one with the African Ducks,  Mrs Canadian Goose (who was sitting on a nest two days) ago now has six bright greenish-yellow goslings; Mr and Mrs Moorhen have at least four stalky-legged moorchicks, and another moorhen is sitting on a twiggy nest that she and her mate have wisely constructed right in the middle of the pond.
It's all go in Barnet Birdland, believe me.
I'm not sure I can take this rollercoaster of life and death. It might be time to find another route to walk!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Early Morning, Blue Sky

I thought it was an hour later than it is, but it's too late. Or it's too early. One of the two.
The sky is a fantastic blue, unglazed with pollution.
Birdsong rings across the back gardens, treble and clear, no longer engulfed by traffic noise.
The day's wobbly timetable stretches out, begging for structure and being refused.
I'm listening to Johny Brown's Bad Punk show from last Friday in this spare hour: it is a welcome chance to catch up on some underground culture.
Week after next, we were to have played three gigs: Brighton, Bristol and The Betsey.
Johny had written a clutch of fantastic songs and I had learned how to accompany him.
I have lockdown hair, long and tangled, just like everyone else. There is no need for new clothes, cosmetics, or comparison: each bubble is aware of the next door bubble and the bubble after that.
We pretend we are all thinking the same way but how do we know, under the layers of bravery, anger, fear and hope?
We are all afraid, especially the people who say they aren't.
Outside, rare wildflowers burst joyously into bloom, hedges and trees explode in a riot of untamed green. Like shooting stars, tiny birds dart across paths below human head level from nest to bush and back again. They have their world back, temporarily.
People amble: life is circular. Round to the park, and back again.
Stand in the queue, and back again.
Into the kitchen, and back again.
Up to bed at night, back down again in the morning.
We are waiting.

Monday, May 11, 2020

The Nincompoop

You know who I mean without me even mentioning his name.
He seems to imagine that he is a Roman emperor throwing the elders, the sick, the poor and those people who are not white-skinned, wealthy and entitled like him to the lions.
Eventually, there will only be him and similar blond haired nincompoops (I don't even need to mention the other one's name) and of course, a large number of willing nubile young women so they can repopulate the world with psychopaths like them.
Stay out of the way of the deadly virus, in my opinion.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Link to Yesterday's Online Gig

Online Gigs and Offline Gigs

It's been really fun doing online gigs: so different from actual playing for so many different reasons and I'm so looking forward to getting back to that again.
The travel, the social thing of meeting new people, then buzz of wondering whether the gig will go down well or not, the come-down afterwards, the rituals of planning and publicising. At every single gig there is a moment where I become acutely conscious of what I'm doing: I am a middle aged, divorced woman with some disastrous life events behind her, two grown up daughters and a responsible job, yet in this moment I am standing on a stage with a guitar in a pair of hands that are doing complicated things, putting my body and soul into singing words and melodies that I have written, and people are listening to what I am saying. What a strange thing! I did not ever imagine this would happen in my life, yet here it is. And upstairs a stupid amount of guitars rest, waiting for me to pick them up and write songs on them. 'Me first!!', they jostle.

Home gigs are weird- the getting ready (I have to sit on a  pile of tottering cushions to be high enough), the people walking past the front window as I'm playing, the wondering who is watching, the occasional forgetting of the words when a small unexpected thing interrupts, then the end where nothing happens, apart from putting the furniture back in place and having a cup of tea.

Mostly, I miss my gig mates.
 Over the past four years, I've been doing gigs with some brilliant people, a friendly straggly gang of like-minded writers, musicians and audience members. When you see them at the next gig, it's as though you only just saw them the day before and you carry on where you left off; you look forward to their next album or gig as though it was your own.
I appreciated the openness that allowed me to be part of this as soon as it happened, and I have never stopped appreciating it because it's been so energetic and affectionate and vibrant.
At the moment it feels like a dormant desert flower: I can't wait for it all to burst into life again!

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Coffee and Hope

Song Writing

I'm not posting a lot at the moment because it is marking season.
I confess, I'm touched by the writing of the third year students this year: it is thoughtful, mature and positive.
These young people deserve a better government and a better future than this.
Maybe I should have gone into politics instead; it was on the cards, because I worked at the Labour Party headquarters for a while. But there was no music in it, and if I don't do music it's as though half of me has gone. It was amazing what rats coming up our toilets did to my motivation to become involved in changing things. Imagine feeding a baby at three in the morning, and hearing them splashing about in the toilet bowl in the bathroom next door.
Even if I became a millionaire nothing would convince me that it's OK for anyone to live like that, anywhere.
Meanwhile, in between marking, long distance song writing is happening. The Desperado Housewives song is all but finished: I just have to assemble it in Logic, because my chorus bit finishes it. Kath has written some hilarious verses, and Jude has written a dreamy middle-16. My job is chorus mistress.
Writing this way is fun because it's rather like assembling IKEA furniture without a plan and without an Allen key; you don't quite know what is going to happen, and you know it's not going to be 'normal'. I'm doing one with Michel, and one with Vinnie, and out of the blue Jem from Asbo Derek sent me some words. They are all so different, and what we can do technically with the limited equipment that we each have at home is part of what goes wrong and what goes right in the song.
I like it!
It's like being a song scientist, daisy-chaining these bits together. At first, I thought they were just demos we were making but now I think it's a genre with its own aesthetic.
BTW excuse my spelling mistakes. I'm dyslexic and I don't care any more. We are in the middle of a deadly epidemic, still functioning as well as we can, and governed by nincompoops.
Ring-a-ding-ding dyslexia! Bring it on!

Friday, May 01, 2020

Lost Geese!

Something about lockdown and all these bereavements...
Mr Egyptian Goose disappeared yesterday. Had someone stolen him?
Mrs Egyptian Goose had gone this morning.
The day was ruined.
I had a lump in my throat.
The RSPCA said 'Let nature take its course'.
Seven goslings, not ready to look after themselves, and a fox in the undergrowth?
The wildlife sanctuaries are closed: no people, no money.
The day fell flat on it's face.

But by teatime, they were both back!
I am so furious with them.
They didn't say where they had been, but they mustn't do that again.
My heart won't take it.