Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Things That I Can't Write About, Don't Write About Or Won't Write About

Sometimes, I'm simply busy doing stuff and don't have time to post anything. Sometimes, the time is better spent upon reflection than writing blog posts. At other times, the life-revelations are simply so completely appalling that I won't write about them.

On this morning's walk, I thought about shame and how it's wrong to put people you love into a position where they have to feel ashamed about aspects of their lives. I looked up and saw a kestrel hovering above, ready to pounce on any words or thoughts that were unwise, even if they were truthful.

Further on, I thought about revelations that suddenly crystallise out things that have happened, atmospheres, not getting the memo. Suddenly I understand the wobbly branch that I've been perched on for so many years. 

Once more, I welcome music as a refuge and a skeleton to build something sane upon, despite the fact that it's an insane creative process. I am glad that I have survived and 'managed on my own' (one stalker will recognise that phrase very keenly). A simple collection of guitar chords and their resonances and relationships makes me feel powerful. I've no idea why. It's a bit like taking thoughts out of your head and making them material, so you can feel them and taste them. My hands, my guitar, my thoughts and my voice. Thank you.


Thursday, June 10, 2021

Evening

In the past ten days I've seen two Munjac deers around here, one in the Nature Reserve and one just up the road not far from the duck pond. Brilliant.

Also, there is a large family of very lush-haired rats at the duckpond: mummy and daddy and at least four young 'uns supported by sliced bread donated by the public and their own young 'uns. 

It's all go, isn't it? 

Statue Toppling

Of course: the problem with the statue-toppling is that the Old Etonians all imagine themselves being made statues of! Just imagine, the Chief Blob daydreaming about his place on a plinth at Trafalgar Square, or even annexed to the stone Churchill outside the Houses of Parliament, only to have his dreams dashed by whippersnapper egalitarians. Quel Dommage!

Morning

I was up with the pigeons and took my car to be serviced. It is iced with mud from woodland excursions, but I did tip a generous bucket of water over it to wash off the Sahara sand that arrived a couple of days ago.

It would be nice to go for a walk, but the pollen is thick in the air this morning and I'm blinking through grit and breathing through soup. Maybe the antihistamine will kick in. Meanwhile, I write.

Hysterical barkydog, who lives in an indeterminate location and who signals its distress all day every day, hasn't been put outside to yelp yet, so it's quite peaceful.

Morning thoughts drift through my head. Why isn't the Chirpomatic app called Cheepo? Did someone else trademark that? Why didn't I patent the... oh no, I'm not going to say that idea. Someone will nick it!

Would it be scary if I left courgette plants on neighbours doorsteps if they weren't in? I've rehomed two already.

Should I prepare for this afternoon's work meeting, or go out? How far should I go? Should I wear shorts? Do I dare to eat a peach?

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Sounds and Feelings

I thought I'd been one of the first people to hear a new genre of music: I could hear an unfamiliar timbre floating across Burgess Park. As I tuned in my ears, I realised that was the sound of a strimmer, wielded by a council worker along the way.

Later we sat in the town garden as it got dark, listening first to a loud neighbouring electric lawnmower, then children in a nearby playground. The noise died away until all we could hear were birds. The app Chirpomatic identified a Goldfinch's call. There really is an app for everything.

It was a very odd feeling to have had a night out, to have been a stopout. I got home after dark, bringing a flush of night air into my stuffy house. Summer has arrived: the pandemic has busted through the seasons as a timetable of our lives, which are now divided by lockdowns and vaccinations and punctuated by an occasional funeral. We breathe in and out: sadness and fear, sadness and fear. 

Government lies float about us like clouds of flies, those irritating bluebottles that you can't get out of the house: bzz, bzz, bzz. We must drown out the sound with music.

Interview with BBC Radio London's Robert Elms

Thank you for this, Robert. Another person who gets the idea behind the book:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p09j3n95

Interview in Deviation Street Online Zine

https://deviationstreetmagazine.com/the-helen-mccookerybook-interview/

Monday, June 07, 2021

After A Walk In The Woods

Saturday's walk in the woods was remarkable. At one point the cacophony from the birds sounded like a tropical rainforest: there were so many different calls, and such a quantity of birds, all in a slice of woodland between two golf courses and only a stone's throw from the M25.

It was also Giant Hogweed Eradication Day- except boots aren't really enough. Protective gear is a better idea, because they are poisonous and their poison droplets spray into the air if you trample on them.

Today was writing with Robert day. He arrived with his guitar and a box of cakes and believe it or not, by the time he left we had five almost-songs in the bag. I almost didn't mind that we might not be able to play in Vienna, because Austria has banned British flights. Thanks Boris Johnson, for reigniting the flames of Covid by waiting two weeks before banning flights from India. Thanks for that.

We will be match fit for whatever gigs arrive in our inboxes. It's a workout for the hands learning another person's chord palette, but I feel so lucky to be collaborating with a song writer like Robert. He has the ability to weaponise language where necessary, or be a true poet when the mood takes him. It has been hard working day interspersed with some late marking, but the internet packed up and isolated both of us from our real lives so we ended up just getting on with it all. I've got a pile of lyrics to learn and a separate pile of chords, and so has Robert. 

Tomorrow I'm going to Joan's to work on our collaboration. My whole blood supply has been replaced by creative juices, and I'm not complaining. And here's the poster for our gig in November:



Thursday, June 03, 2021

Writing Songs

Song Circle is resting at least for the summer. But I was trying to play a cover song the other day and I found a chord sequence that is teasing me with its potential. I've been out in the back yard playing it to the ants and bees. I'm not sure what they think because I don't understand their language, but I imagined that they were listening.

Also yesterday me and Robert did a Zoom together, and started to finish some of the song ideas that we have been collaborating on by text during lockdown. I think we will have an album- next week we are going to meet up in person and see what happens when our two guitars speak to each other.

I know all this sounds terribly hippyish. It's an antidote to marking and admin. If you'd been data inputting and cross-checking feedback and moderated marks for days you'd be like this too, believe me. You keep thinking you've finished, and then a late piece of work comes in and the whole house of cards collapses again.

I'm working on something else with my friend Joan. I'm learning a lot, but more about that another time; for the rest of the day there are lots of pernickety things to sort out plus there's a huge bluebottle snarling around the room looking for food, or possibly just being irritating. Did my enemies send it? I'm going to trap it, tie a message to its back and send it on its way. I have guitars to play.