Wednesday, December 27, 2023


On Christmas Eve I nipped out to the shops to get something last minute. As I closed the front door, I heard jingling. 'No', I thought, 'That's impossible'.

But further down the street, a Santa Claus in all his splendour had strolled into the little café and was standing at the counter alongside a bunch of astonished customers.

Well I never.

On another note, my complaints about a lack of Lindt Chocolate Santas were alleviated today by the fact that they have already started stocking Lindt Easter Bunnies in the local supermarket. Bliss.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Mini Boxing Day Task

In between finishing the mint creams (any more than four and you're tasting chocolate-covered toothpaste), eating a cold repeat Christmas dinner, watching North by Northwest (never seen it before- what a fantastic film), and a bracing walk in the soggy greenery, I have been embroidering Gina's labcoat for the Beefheart musical. Mine already says 'Dr Punk' because I once thought that I was going to a fancy dress party in Whitby as a frightening dentist with a necklace of false teeth, until I discovered that it was a children's Hallowe'en party and not for adults at all! 

Anyway here it is in progress, ham-coloured and imperfect. Everything I do is imperfect, though not everything is ham-coloured. Why 'Blinking Ham'? You'll have to ask Gina.

Funny Little Chaps

These are what I gave to Offsprog One and Offsprog Two. The arm has already fallen off one of them but I think Superglue will work.

They're very small, and are supposed to look as though they were made in the 17th Century, which is what I decided when I realised that I hadn't got the skills to make them look neat and tidy!

We're All Breathing The Same Air

There isn't anywhere else to go. 

Getting along with each other has to be the only way.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Getting Ready, Rambling and Merry Christmas from Me, the Imaginary Cat, and the Moths

Yesterday I had a lovely wander around Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane, only just resisting fish and chips from Poppies. The market was in full swing and it was great to see how many stallholders were selling things they'd actually made themselves: clothes from recycled fabrics (there were some great giant anoraks made from garish floral duvet covers, for instance), and a woman with a stall selling bags made from Ghanaian fabric (including a bag made with fabric with bags printed on it, which she said was her most popular one). The most expensive stall had very stylish bags made from recycled roofing fabric from Jaguar cars. Anyway, it was fun; the crowds were nice rather than oppressive, and bumbled around as though they had just woken up from the awful Covid years. 

It's looming over us again, and I'm wearing a mask on public transport and in most shops. I never stopped, despite people staring at me, and I haven't been ill with anything for ages. I feel like I should be touching wood here! I just don't want to catch it. Although it's supposed not to be so debilitating in its current form, nobody knows what repeated infections might do to you. 

I still don't know if the illness that I had back in February 2020 was Covid or not. It was that vicious virus that, pre-testing, could have been anything but was much worse than normal 'flu. I haven't had it again and I definitely don't want it again. Three people I knew died of Covid at that time (they were all under the age of 55), and numerous people that I knew of died of it. I know a LOT of people with Long Covid. There seems to be some sort of awful shaming about this, as though by having Long Covid they are reminding people who've recovered that there was actually a global pandemic a very short time ago. 

No thanks! You can stare at me as much as you like, but I'll keep the mask on, and keep washing my hands when I get back to my house.

Ramble ramble, mumble mumble. I suppose these are pre-Christmas misery musings. The local shops are sold out of Lindt Chocolate Santas, there are no Pannetones either, and the blackberries that I got out of the freezer to make a cake with have started fermenting so the sparrows in the back yard are going to have a boozy Christmas Eve feast tomorrow. However, I have sourced (modern terminology!) a supply of lychees, so that's very good news. Eyeballs all round! 

Best of all, Offsprog One turned up this evening with a tub of Cheese Footballs that sits proudly on the side in the kitchen waiting for Christmas Day. I'll be driving to Camberwell to pick up Offsprog Two first thing on Christmas morning, sporting my Lidl Christmas Jumper from two years ago (I bought it on eBay) and listening to BBC6 on the car radio, perhaps with a cheese football or two for company. 

Yum yum!

I found a stash of sticky old unused Christmas crackers on top of the kitchen cupboards, and have piled cheap ugly clementines from the shop over the road on to a huge vintage plate from the charity shop that I bought immediately after vowing never to buy anything from a charity shop again. The cheap ugly clementines are all different shades of orange and all different sizes, but unlike the supermarket ones they taste absolutely beautiful, and there is also something aesthetically pleasing about the fact that a lot of them still have stalks and leaves, so I know they definitely grew on a tree and weren't simply created by Artificial Intelligence, like most things these days seem to be.

Ramble ramble, mumble mumble. All I'd logged on for was to upload my seasonal greeting 'card' and I've ended up droning on for so long that I'm even boring myself. If there had been some chocolate Santas in the shop, I would have just eaten one of them and then sat here feeling guilty for the rest of the evening instead of writing a blog posting. Here is the 'card' anyway: Merry Christmas to my readers, whoever and wherever you are! Some days sixty people read this blog, yet yesterday more than a thousand did. I rather like the randomness of that and not having any advertising on it, too. 

Let's hope for peace in 2024; wouldn't it be incredible if humans learned how to live like that?

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Cult Figures, Micko and the Mellotronics and Helen McCookerybook at the Hope and Anchor

Gigs this close to Christmas are wonderful- they are celebratory for the performers, in particular, because you've got another year under your belt. That's another milestone in validating a really peculiar lifestyle, with a switchback of ups and downs that don't make any sense to anyone apart from your musical compatriots.

When Micko contacted me to ask me to open for the Mellotronics and Cult Figures, I jumped at the chance. This is a different musical world to explore; lots of them overlap and I'd seen the Mellotronics at The Lexington several months ago and enjoyed their twangling, Kinks-inspired songs a lot. I was not so familiar with Cult Figures, though of course any band with the always-engaging Lee McFadden in it is worth seeing.

I got out one of my best stage shirts and even prepared a song I'd never sung live before (Things Like This). Playing an unfamiliar song seemed unrisky, because I was first on and sure nobody would be there at the beginning.

How wrong can you be? The room was pretty stuffed right from the start, which for a support act is the best Christmas present you could possibly have. The Wine Tipster and Simon Horsemanjockey were there, disappointingly not in their diaphanous dance dresses, but forgiven for making the effort. And reader, I managed the new song fine although I played some pretty sh*t guitar in the couple of songs leading up to it, partly out of Fear Of The New Song. I honestly don't think people heard the mistakes, actually, though any musician will tell you that they remember each gig as a series of linked mistakes with a bit of clapping in between! I also had to contend with having used my guitar to rehearse lead-licks in the Beefheart project with a pick, and also a missing fingernail. But no more excuses! People seemed to really like it all, even though I left out several of my regular anchor songs and played a  slightly different set to normal. The woman behind the bar loved it, which is always a good barometer. How do I know? I could see her at the back smiling, and she told me afterwards. There were quite a few people there who had been to Chefs gigs, and someone who didn't like Helen and the Horns! Ha ha! we had a nice chat afterwards. It was great to see Tonje out again, with Pete, and also to see James out and about, and to be invited to Chris's birthday party in February.

Well its not All About Me, is it? Micko was playing with a brand new band that included the bass player from The Boomtown Rats, and they played a very tight set. Their songs are about quirky subjects: Imelda Marcos, the noisy neighbour, Holloway Road (about Joe Meek). Micko has a real star quality and enviable guitars in his collection and played some mean guitar licks. I have their latest CD here to listen to and I'm really looking forward to that. Apparently it was mastered by an analogue genius in Devon, and I'm looking forward to earwigging that too. We had an ongoing joke about the volume of the bass and he messaged this morning to say he'd turned it down! It's just that if someone is a really good guitarist you need space to hear what they are doing. It was a really neat, appealing set of songs and the audience thought so too. Cult Figures were the headliners for the night, promoting their new release as well. They started with some older songs and then played their new album. I liked the way their used harmonies, especially because you could hear relatively new member lead vocalist Fraser Gillespie singing in a Scottish accent alongside Lee's London one. I know their guitarist died recently and it must be hard to carry on, but they delivered a strong set of powerful pop songs that went down very well with the audience.

Can you imagine what fun it is to play a gig, and then stand back and watch the next bands playing, so you've got a night out as well? That's what it was like. There was a great atmosphere in there!

The photos show Micko and the Melleoronics from close to the stage and Cult Figures from further back. Christmas gig done: now to buy the parsnips!

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Christmas Crush

Saturday involved a small peace march and a visit not only to Caroline Coon's punk photography exhibition in Jermyn Street (hello Mykaell Riley, my friend of many years) but also Don Van Vliet's paintings in Upper Brook Street, which started off as a duty visit but actually, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed his paintings. I'd had a sneery thought that he was indeed just swishing paint about like a jackass' tail (his words, not mine), but he was very good with colour and proportion and the paintings are exquisite. If I was rich, I'd buy one!

Sunday was a different day entirely: we joined Reimagine London, an offshoot of Fossil Free London, for a guided walk through Vauxhall's green and revolutionary spaces, starting in Archbishop's Park and ending in the small cluster of houses where Mat Fox from The Happy End and Pat Holland, whose feminist TV programmes I used to write music for, used to live. It's now a thriving community with two community gardens, a community café and a community centre. It was a positive and enlightening peramble, at the end of which we sat and drank hot chocolate and coffee at an outside table and chatted about things with a generation of people who have an entirely different perspective from ours. This was a rare privilege, and very entertaining, especially the young Spanish woman who'd been brought up with snails as part of her diet and who feels pangs of hunger occasionally when she sees a garden snail in England.

Monday and Tuesday, I was doing more writing and rehearsing with Gina for Beefheart, The Musical. We now have five songs and they are really complex so will need a lot more rehearsal (we have three days for that in January). On the way back on Monday, I couldn't resist a little Christmas tree from the pub car park not far from where Gina lives. It's the smell, walking past it in two directions every day and inhaling its gorgeous tang. So I took it home on the tube in its lacy condom. The family decorations we used to put on the tree are up in the loft, but I found some limping old lights in the back of the kitchen cupboard, and enough of them are functioning to be able to twinkle in a very nice retro way.

Tonight, I have the last gig of the year at The Hope and Anchor, which is sold out. It has surprised me how busy the year has been with gigs, and of course that wonderful three months of illustration. Life never ceases to amaze me, in the good ways as well as the bad ways.

There will be time later this week to hoard a few Lindt chocolate Santas and add to the shaming little red and gold bell collection. There have been no tickets left for the Southwark Cathedral carols this year, but my Champagne friend has Covid, unfortunately, so we would probably have not been able to go together. The good news is that she will be better for Christmas.

Now to post the last couple of cards...

Friday, December 15, 2023

A Little Something For The New Year

Live in the Greater Manchester area? Why not hop on the tram to Bury and come to our free screening of Stories from the She-Punks, plus the special one-off performance of Beefheart, the Musical (not a musical) by Gina Birch and me. Put the date in your diary- the afternoon of Saturday 6th January!

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Outside the BBC Experience

This photo by Nikita is from Tuesday's Christmas get-together organised by the ECDC. It was a chilly night, but there were a few people there from the community art workshop and it was really nice to chat with them. There was also a supply of possibly the most delicious drinking chocolate that I've drunk for years!

Some of the portraits that I drew of local people are on display upstairs at Conversation Corner on Lillie Road. Nikita showed me this, which is on a hoarding outside the BBC Experience. I didn't know about it! I still feel that it was one of the nicest project I've done in my life, for more reasons that I could possibly enumerate. Partly, to have a project in my head and then an immediate opportunity to realise that- well, that's very rare.

Anyway, more working on Beefheart, the Musical today. We had a good working day yesterday resulting in one complete song and one to complete this morning, plus two in the pipeline and another idea to work on early next week. Because of the January deadline we're working very intensely, and I slept like a log last night.

Somewhere in the middle of this is Christmas. I walk past fir trees piled up for sale and inhale that wonderful scent. Should I get one this year? It's so tempting!

Tuesday, December 12, 2023


Last gig of the year is at The Hope and Anchor, Islington, London on Wednesday 20th December supporting Cult Figures and Micko and the Mellotronics.

Here we go!

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Q Magazine Article

Q is back- I think just online.

I was contacted about this a few weeks ago and wasn't expecting to appear in it myself as an interviewee- I thought the interest was more in the book. So I'm chuffed!

Big thanks to Dominic Utton.

London Marches and Gatherings

Yesterday was the first time that I could go on a Peace March. I call it that because Suella Braverman, who is an extraordinarily divisive and unpleasant lawyer and disgraced politician, the architect of the plan to send refugees to Rwanda (where she has undeclared commercial interests), calls them 'Hate Marches'.

I deplore the terrorism of Hamas. I deplore violence and I deplore war. So I deplore the military response of the Israeli government to the terrorist attacks. When has action like this ever worked? 

I do not understand how there can be men who have the imagination and sophistication to develop technology to explore space and land on Mars, yet we can not as a human race develop our consciousness enough to resolve political, social and religious differences without resorting to murder. That is what taking a human life is called.

And I can't get the image of a tiny Palestinian toddler out of my head: she sits in the rubble, stunned and quaking with trauma and fear. She often appears in front of my eyes. No child should experience that, whatever 'side' they are on, whatever the justification of the person with the bomb. And to call this violence religious is the height of opprobrium.

How are any of these children on any side of the war going to grow up to be well-adjusted adults?

Like many people, I feel completely helpless. I have spent my life opposing racism and working through my career as an educator to ensure fairness and equality for everyone that I have come into contact with, absolutely to the best of my ability. 

There are too many fancy words for killing people. It's murder.

As we walked along amongst thousands of other people, we saw the Santa convention in a parallel street. Oh London, you peculiar city. Drunken Santas roared with laughter and screamed in excitement, in an entirely different representation of human gathering.

The streets got more and more crowded as we got towards Parliament Square; XR were there with their drums, and we'd seen a bunch of children with noisy yellow vuvuzelas. We saw the police form a line and slice into the crowd to extract someone to arrest, but actually everyone seemed fully aware of the gravity of the protest. Later, I read that there were only 13 arrests out of what looked like 20,000 people (at a conservative guess).
The final twist was at the top of Charing Cross Road as we walked up towards the tube station at Tottenham Court Road. There was a scrum of people and a phalanx of motorcycle police. As we walked up the road we saw probably 20 or 30 trotting carriages with horses blocking the road and queued up along the pavement. I've been completely unable to work out what on earth was going on there. Another protest? Another gathering? And all of this mixed up with Christmas shoppers, looking baffled. London is not a postcard city. We go out, rain or shine, and wear our hearts on our sleeves, whatever our hearts tell us.

Saturday, December 09, 2023

Wrecking Ball Arts Centre, Hull

In the afternoon, I got the bus over to Barton to Yuba Studio to meet Lee, who will be remastering The Chefs tracks for the vinyl release some time next year. I found out yesterday it's going to be a double, and will feature some of the tracks we recorded for an unreleased album for Graduate Records. Lee is great, and we could have talked all afternoon about sound, music and everything around it. He gave me advice about drying out DAT tapes with silica packs, which was really useful. I've had my mini-DAT player fixed, but alas one tiny screw is missing, and irreplaceable, apparently.

Anyway, I headed back through the cold wind into Hull, checked in to the hotel and walked through to Wrecking Ball. What a wonderful treasure that place is! Big, warm, yellow light, loads of vinyl, a cassette section, a really eclectic selection of books and a café at the back. I had a great chat with the co-owner Gary, scoffed a pasty and a cup of fresh coffee before heading upstairs to sound check. 

The room upstairs is a miniature theatre with wooden floorboards and a great sound. It's didn't take long to set up, and Graham Beck showed up and sorted his sound out quickly. We'd not sold many tickets but Mick, June and Laura came and sat in the front row, and the small audience was thoroughly committed- they joined in Graham's song with gusto, and gave me the support of four times the number of people. 

I'd been hoping to play Things Like This, but messed it up in the sound check so kept the set fairly straight and normal, though we did have a good Bathing Pond singalong. The sound was superb. Hats off to the staff for being super patient and friendly! What a lovely venue- a little slice of New York in cold, grey and rainy Hull!

After the gig, Mick, June and Laura dropped me off at the hotel. we sat and talked for ages in the car when we got there. It really was nice to see them again.

Here's one of June's videos, Woodwide Web. Two of the women in the audience recommended another book about trees but I can't remember the author or the name. And there was a man there who had seen Helen and the Horns at Imperial College in the 1980s. So there you go!

After a day recovering from the chilly travel, I went to Gina's on Thursday and we began writing stuff for Beefheart, The Musical, which we'll be doing on Saturday 6th January in Bury. We'll have to work out ladybollocks off to do that, but we have the work ethic and we have the guitars. Wish us luck!

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Nest Gig: Wrecking Ball Arts Centre, Hull on Tuesday with Graham Graham Beck

I'm looking forward to this one, to seeing Mick, June and Laura too.

This is the ticket and info link: 

Barnet Christmas Fair, A Joy To Everyone

I felt so sorry for them, out in the cold and rain far too early on a Sunday morning for teenagers to be up and about! They quite obviously felt sorry for themselves too. Why couldn't they be in the shopping centre like the brass and woodwind band who played later?

Ping Ting!

It was fun though. There was even a House of Fun this year, so it must have been. There were so many rules about what you couldn't do, it might have spoiled the fun if anyone read them.

There must be a lot of people who do crafts who are hiding away in the streets here... I hope they come out next year.

We made friends with the Hadley FC people who were mega-enthusiastic, so I guess we'll have to go and see a game this season, up there by the Windmill. 

At the end of the street, there was a stall big coloured plastic bins full of toys and tat. I did wonder if the bins were for the tat you'd bought at the beginning of the street, and now regretted. You could pop it in the bin on your way back to the tube station. When the bins filled up, they are taken to the start of the street for a new lot of people to buy and later regret. Perfect recycling.

Small town living: doncha just love it?

Friday, December 01, 2023

Shane MacGowan

The world is flowing with Shane stories at the moment, unsurprisingly, because he was a profoundly social chap. Our musical careers ran parallel to each other and Helen and the Horns supported The Pogues at The Mean Fiddler in Harlesden one time. Rumour has it that Van Morrison was in attendance.

I used to go to the record shop that he worked in in Hanway Street in the West End of London and just chat. When the shop premises moved to London Bridge, I went there too. I used to get him to recommend records (the shops stocked lots of old-school rockabilly and hillbilly music), and I always walked out with a couple of great albums under my arm.

Years later, I was in The Boogaloo Bar in Highgate and he was standing at the bar. He recognised me immediately, and complimented me on my fluffy black jumper. I was taken aback (but very pleased) to be remembered, and felt very respected as a musician. Not all male musicians are like this, but he was. We talked about music, and then he disappeared into the bowels of the building; the owner was, apparently, his PO Box address.

It's a miracle that he lived as long as he did. He lived life more than to the full, always alongside large quantities of alcohol (as many people do). Not many people can be so creative with booze as their buddy. I understand that he let people down sometimes- his bands, especially. 

Over my lifetime so far I have come to the conclusion that all musicians are mad. How we deal with this fact can be very taxing. The fact that we are able to collaborate with each other at all is a miracle that involves our madness synchronising temporarily. Sometimes, this creates wonderful musical outcomes, and Shane definitely had his share of these, in particular with Kirsty MaColl.

Our musical world gets smaller as the years progress. I still think we have been the luckiest people alive to have been born at that strange time that gave us a vacuum to fill in the late 1970s. It felt so depressing and awful- but look what came out of it!

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Recording and Mixing and Recording and Mixing

It's been a soup of a day. I started off mixing a track that me and James recorded, Let's Make Up, then took a break to record a new demo, during which time I discovered that my best microphone has stopped working. I recorded the vocal using an SM58, but the sound is not that clear and it's hard to work with. 

I moved to the laptop to quantise the guitar parts to 24 Hours, which took ages and they still aren't quite right. During that process, and after sharing my panic on social media about the non-working microphone and failing to find anyone to repair it, I discovered that it does work as a USB microphone, and I recorded an OK vocal for 24 Hours.

I went back to listen to the demo, and decided that I need to record it 5 bpms faster and revisit the backing vocals, though the guitar (the green goddess) sounds really gorgeous.

It too me almost as long to clear up everything and put it away as it did to record things in the first place- guitar leads, mic leads, interface leads, two sets of headphones and one mini jack to normal jack converter, two guitars and two microphones.

I have no idea whether it's been a productive day or not. It's been A Day. Sometimes you need Days to just get back into the groove of things, and I've certainly done that.

Monday, November 27, 2023

The Wouldbegoods at The Betsey Trotwood

I feel very lucky- I was offered a ticket so see Gina Birch supporting This Is The Kit at The Barbican tonight as well, but applying cab-rank principle, this came first!

Last time I saw The Wouldbegoods, they were a duo. You could hear how good the songs were, but the Bush Hall was swallowing up sound that afternoon, and the squashed, people-cramped, boiling basement of the Betsey was altogether a different kettle of fish. This time they had Andy Warren on bass and Debbie Green on drums and backing vocals, both of who formed a sturdy and sometimes delicate underpinning to Jessica Griffin's songs. The sound of Andy's bass is to die for: it's so distinctive, yet it never overpowers the music he accompanies. He looks alternately scared and bored on stage, but that look belies the secret strength he has, for verily he has magic bass lines that work perfectly with everything his bass touches. Debbie Green is also an ace musician. She doesn't just thump along; she plays the music with poetic punctuation, delightful rhythms that augment the meaning of the songs with imaginative subtlety. On top of this Peter's clear riffs slice through the sound and complement Jessica's rhythm playing. The songs are like puzzles: why does it do this here and that there, and how does it work? I was admiring the quality of  the writing and Razz, the manager of The Betsey, came downstairs. Sergio, one of the best engineers, was doing the sound. 'He says they remind him of Helen McCookerybook', said Razz. What a compliment!

Anyway, it was lovely to see Caryne, Dave, Amelia and Rob. It just got too hot in the end. Too many tall men came and stood in front of me to get out of the hot crush. I was baking in my thermals and duffel coat (see how Indie I am!). We left just before the end, into the cold and sparkling Farringdon air. The photo shows the view round someone's head with my arm fully extended! 

It was a really good night and I wish I'd bought their album now.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

I Saw A Red Squirrel

I forgot to say!

I had peeled off from the gang and was wandering back alone to where we were staying; as I got to the entrance I noticed a pair of beady eyes looking at me from a hiding-place in a laurel bush. 

I gasped in delight, and off ran the squirrel up into the highest tree, camouflaged in the white sky and black network of branches. I fumbled for my camera but couldn't keep up with it.

What an unexpected surprise in a lovely holiday. The social times were great and so were the alone times.

Monday, November 20, 2023


Four days in Perthshire, two of them with about 15 family members and assorted others, have well and truly blown away the cobwebs. I have eaten more in four days than in the whole of the rest of the year, and exercised the same amount, by going up and down the steep hill once a day. I've driven 1000 miles or more in a titchy little car, getting about pretty quickly, but I'm still in transit in my head despite arriving home more than six hours ago.

On Saturday night we had a wonderful semi-violent galumph around a dance floor murdering Scottish dances (I realised at one point that I'd been dancing the Military Twostep to the St Bernard's Waltz with Offsprog One). We charged up and down in Strip the Willow and Offprog Two begged it to stop. Small children dressed as fairies risked being decapitated and elders held their eyes aloft to ignore the displays of incompetence we provided for their delectation.

I always miss Scotland when I'm not there: the colour green, the rain, the humour and the food. On the way back into the hotel two days ago, a red squirrel was sitting in a bush by a garden wall. I was so delighted that I gasped, and the terrified animal rushed up a tree so fast that I couldn't photograph it. We also saw a greater spotted woodpecker and all sorts of fungi. And mist!

Now back in Barnet, I will have to get used to normal breakfasts of just cereal, and also No More Sweets.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

On The Move

I spent a day in Newcastle, and visited my friend Carol in Whitley Bay. We had a walk along the stormy seafront to Tynemouth, accompanied by huge clashing waves that were battering the cliffs relentlessly. Now I'm in Perthshire, taking in the fresh autumnal air. It's good to be away for a bit; large parts of my dwelling have been re-plastered, and I'd been inhaling faint whiffs of dust for several days. I hope when I get back it's all fully dried and the dust has settled. I'm keeping the pale pink, I pale think.

Today's walk was wonderful: misty, fresh and colourful in a way that only Scotland seems to be in autumn. We saw two huge buzzards roosting in a tree, and heard wrens singing. No red squirrels though: you have to pay extra for that, I heard.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Cambridge Indie-Pop Alldayer

This was a train journey and a walk away from home, a walk through Cambridge streets of small houses like mine, with miniature pubs halfway down, and the occasional shop punctuating the terraces. It was a really nice walk from the station to The Blue Moon; there was hardly any traffic, just the occasional bicycle gliding quietly past.

When I got there, Back gave me a warm welcome and Tape Runs Out were sound-checking. There are six of them, and the line-up includes a hammer dulcimer. Apparently there used to be seven, but one of them has left. The stage was pretty full; I decided to forego a sound check because there was a lot for the sound engineer to do. He didn't mind, but there was no need to create stress. I sat in the bar and chatted to Dave Hammond, whose Cambridge Community Radio Show, Smelly Flowerpot, I'd been on several times.

Tape Runs Out have complex songs that manage to sound poppy despite that; the arrangements are intricate, and in an odd way they reminded me of very early Soft Machine, minus the quirkiness. It was something to do with the textures in the music and the thought that had gone into the vocal arrangements.

I was on next and despite swallowing a cough sweet minutes before I went on, I managed to sing OK. Unlike last Saturday in Rochester, I didn't ramble. The set length was 30 minutes and there wasn't time, although I did feel that I'd had time to showcase what I'm doing at the moment to an audience that might not be familiar with my songs (apart from Dave!).

Next were Darren Hayman and Emma Kupa, he on a magnificent Rickenbacker and she on an acoustic guitar. They sang duets, often as conversations and sometimes in unison, with Emma's three year old son dancing on stage for much of the set. I found sound intriguing; they both sing high in their vocal range, and that factor combined with their guitar arrangements made me think of early country/gospel recordings, just before rock'n'roll burst into life. Maybe Ginny Wright, or Maybelline Carter. I really enjoyed it a lot and hope to see them again.

I had to come back home early, and had the unfortunate experience of being the target of five teenage boys on the train who thought they could freak me out by screaming at me, making obscene gestures, staring at me, making faces, reciting scenes from pornography and at one point deciding to hit me before getting off the train (they didn't). I sat there thinking of Offsprog One's mantra 'Take up your space'. 

They were extremely loud and volatile and stank of weed, and I presume no-one helped me because the gang were so frightening. But then I thought 'I've just played a really nice gig. I travel all over the place, often on my own, playing gigs all over the UK and sometimes in Europe. I am brave and they are not: it takes five of them to pick on me'. So I asked them: 'Does it make you feel brave, five of you men picking on one woman? There are babies and children who have had to listen to the things you've been saying. Only one of you isn't horrible [that was true], and I feel sorry for him having you as his friends'. I think they were surprised. When, after 50 minutes, they finally got off at Bishops Stortford, the 'nice' one looked ashamed and said quietly 'Have a nice evening'.

Apart from that, I cry when I watch the news. Such cruelty and violence, first from Hamas and then absolute genocide from the Israeli forces in retaliation. And the march for peace through London is described by our Government as exactly the opposite. Our Government instead support right-wing fascists who break though barriers at the Cenotaph on Armistice Day, peace day, to fight with the police, encouraged by the Home Secretary. It is so terrible to witness the gratuitous killing of festival goers, children, babies, and now hospital patients, all in the name of opposing religions and cultures. 

Underneath all of us is a skeleton, and inside all of us is a heart. We are animals who have created culture and learning and science to understand and document our societies and communities. I have seen the graceful intersection of cultures first-hand this year in community centres everywhere. 

I do not understand why anyone thinks killing people takes the human race any step further towards enlightenment. We have the means of peaceful, if heated, negotiation at our disposal. Instead, we venerate hatred and destruction not only of fellow humans, but also of our environment. 

It is hard not to despair. I am so thankful for art and music, without which life would be utterly bleak.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Women in Revolt

It's a two-posting night, and if I wasn't missing (much to my regret) a screening of short music documentaries this evening, there would be three.

Oh this exhibition! There is so much to see, lots of it art, lots of it political expression, lots of it both. There is such treasure! 

I started off by going into Bobby Baker's prefab to inspect her family of cakes. There weren't a lot of people around yet (this was a press day) and so we had a really nice chat. It transpires that she knew Helen Chadwick, and that Helen did a really great job of supporting Bobby earlier on in her career. Good. Helen was a dude.

In the main gallery, I bumped in to Everett True, Billy Reeves and Cassie Fox, who had brought a bunch of students down to see the exhibition. Samira Ahmed arrived and we went around the exhibition separately, although she was so delighted by the photographs of Shirley Cameron, pregnant with twins and dressed as a bunny girl and guerilla-exhibiting herself amongst the real rabbits at agricultural shows, that she pulled me over to see them!

There were some really humorous articulations of fury here.There is a short film of Linder in her meat dress, singing a great song, then revealing a giant phallus as she rips her dress off- apparently inspired by Buck's Fizz's similar disrobement at the Eurovision Song Contest!

The Marxist Wife Still Does the Housework byAlexis Hunter also has a humorous spin- a series of photos of Karl Marx being dusted, with the word 'Man' being smeared in the final frame.

The overwhelming feeling in the first room- and also parts of the others- was of the value of ready-reachable, cheap, accessible materials. There were tons of pamphlets, zines and mags full of collaborative content. I particularly felt an affinity for the postal art project of Femisto, where a group of women artists, fed up with being ignored by an impossible-to-penetrate (sic) male art community, decided to post each other small pieces of art on a regular basis. What a catalyst this exhibition is going to be.

There was art by many people I knew here: Jini Rawlings (who I used to work with), Suzy Varty (who I've been in comics with), Roshini Kempadoo (who taught at a University where I once taught), Gina Birch whose 3-minute scream is at the very heart of the show; Caroline Coon and Helen Chadwick, of course. Black and South Asian artists are well represented, and Lubiana Hamid's life size racist white man with weapon dog (I can't remember the name, but I'll find it) was a chilling articulation of how it feels to be a black woman in a racist white neighbourhood.

This is a very truthful and emotionally-wrenching exhibition. The series of photographs of women who worked in a metal box factory alongside their daily schedules shows just how harsh life can be for women. There are no angels here, and there's very little artifice. Lots of the work is literal, and all the more powerful for it. I was there for three hours and didn't even manage to take in the films (apart from Linder's).

Here were very many examples of group activism, exhibited alongside individual statements, curated as a massive and powerful collective statement of twenty years of campaigning. I know everyone who sees this will have a personal internal discussion about this period of time. Greenham Common looms large, yet I didn't go at the time. I'd find it hard to explain why not, but I didn't.

I came away buzzing with ideas, went home for a few hours then to Front Row (link in earlier posting). Then, believe it or not, I dropped into Ian Damage's packed 60th birthday celebration at the 100 Club, where I bumped into Dec Hickey who I haven't seen for yonks.

This morning I did a podcast interview which I'll post a link to as soon as it's ready. And this afternoon, the plaster came. He's just sweeping up now. The heating has been off so I'm swathed in woollies. What a busy few days it has been.

Scroll Back to Saturday

Kevin Younger is a quiet supporter of oddball and marginal music in a lot of different ways. During Lockdown, he arranged the weekly online Mr Unswitchable cover-version sessions, where a large group of musicians performed a themed cover version each Saturday sometimes with very professional-looking videos, sometimes much more amateurish (me!). Kevin cued them up one by one as the evening progressed and we were able to watch and comment on each other's versions. I was telling him on Saturday that real friendships emerged from this: Saskia and Russ travelled down from Dumfriesshire in thei VW camper to a gig I did in Stockton in that weird between-lockdown period, and months later I invited them to play with me at The Glad Café in Glasgow.

It was a delight to be invited to play at his latest venture, the 12 Degrees micro-brewery in Rochester, alongside Dave Goggins, alias Little Storping in the Swuff. The trains looked encouraging too- I'm trying to drive as little as possible as an environmental commitment.

The music venue is in the basement, a low-ceilinged space with a dartboard, amps (it's a rehearsal space a lot of the time), and artfully-arranged beermats on the wall. The PA was a Roland busking amp, which gave out a surprisingly lovely sound. I guess you can get about 50 people in there- and it was sold out, apparently. Dave's music is quirky, part played on guitar and part played on keyboard (the more serious songs). I particularly liked his random song Cheese Bible, which he made up on the spot after asking for two random words from the audience; it was very funny. He also sang a song with a paper bag on his head, which gently floated off perfectly on cue at the end of the song.

It was a friendly crowd, augmented by a very nice surprise- Pete Fender, Vi Subversa's son, who I haven't seen for 45 years. He'd seen a posting that I put on Facebook and living locally, he showed up. At the age of somewhere between 12 and 13, he'd played drums for Joby and the Hooligans, lent by his ever-accommodating mum. It was really great to see him again; I couldn't quite believe it was him, but it really was. He honestly doesn't look that different! I had a really nice chat with Kevin's partner Xtina about mushrooms, too. And one chap who was heading off to a reading by Billy Childish, promised to come back for the gig- and did.

Well I did ramble on a bit (the story of Pete and Joby and the Hooligans), but it was a thoroughly enjoyable gig to play and seemed to go down pretty well too. I played Three Maple Men, which I rarely play these days, but it felt right to do so. No Chefs or Helen and the Horns songs this time: I stuck to 'now'.

Pete very kindly gave us a lift to the station and we accidentally got on the express train to London. It was anxiety-inducing at first, but the guard at the gates was in a good mood and kindly let us through without surcharge or shame.

It almost seems a pity to be coming to the end of this year's gigs- only three more to go. Gigging remains a glorious adventure, full of surprises and affection. I love it.

Front Row With Samira Ahmed: Women in Revolt

The 'Women in Revolt' exhibition at Tate Britain is an absorbing and inspirational collection of political artwork and communications from a period between 1970 and 1990. 

I went yesterday to report back for BBC Radio 4's Front Row. I'll write more about it tomorrow (and of course will catch up on writing about the Rochester gig). There is so much to say about it all but the house is topsy turvey with a half-finished plastering job. The poor guy got really ill on Monday and wanted to come back today to finish it but I'm talking to an Irish podcaster later this morning, and then will need a bit of time out. I was at the exhibition for three hours and still didn't see it all.

Until then, here's the link to Samira's show in case you'd like to listen:

Monday, November 06, 2023

The New Beatles Song

I was a very wee thing when I was given my first Beatles single- my first ever record, in fact- by a friend of McMums. She was a genius present giver. It was a copy of I Wanna Hold Your Hand, from Shepherd's of Gateshead, and I've still got it in it's original cover. I preferred the 'B' side, This Boy. I thought the way the Beatles sang 'I wanna hold your hand' sounded like 'I wanna hold your hen'.

I grew up with them as a sound track. I bought a silver-grey plastic guitar brooch with my pocket money; it had a bubble of clear plastic in the middle with George Harrison's photograph in it. He was my favourite, and John Lennon next. I didn't like Paul McCartney- somehow I thought he was an actor, and the others weren't.

I watched their films: Magical Mystery Tour on TV one Christmas, and I took my baby brother to see Yellow Submarine at The Tatler Cinema off the Haymarket in Newcastle upon Tyne. He loved it, but was scared of the Blue Meanies (so was I, and I still am). I knew the band travelled to India and came back fascinated by sitars. I wasn't wild on their hippy phase because by then I realised that they were older than me, and I didn't want to grow up to be a hippy lady, all flowery and decorative and pretty. Their music started to sound congested (I suppose that must have been the George Martin phase), and I started to prefer bands that sounded simpler, like Slade. Then they split up and everyone was Terribly Upset, but I don't think I was. It just seemed logical that they would grow out of themselves, just as I'd grown out of them.

Afterwards, I quite liked George Harrison's records and some of John Lennon's. I admired Paul McCartney for making the banned Give Ireland Back to the Irish, but hated Mull Of Kintyre, which just sounded fake to me. I was upset when George got taken to court over My Sweet Lord, but then completely understood when I got into girl group music when I was fifteen, and heard He's So Fine properly in context. 

I cried when John Lennon was shot. What a pointless thing to happen.

The experience of punk rolled everything back to zero. A lot of music from before that time started in retrospect to resemble a house of cards, ever-closer to toppling over with its self-importance. I started listening to a lot of reggae and later, a lot of rockabilly and hillbilly music.

I revisit Beatles songs occasionally, but I prefer listening to Northern Soul or the new offerings of my contemporaries. No-one has made me listen to The New Beatles Song, so I haven't heard it. Ethically, it all seems a bit suspect: a bit like finally obtaining control of John Lennon and George Harrison when they can't talk back and say 'no'. I think if I'd had an urge to seek it out, that factor alone might have put me off. 

But having watched aghast as Cliff Richard (yet again) complained in a recent TV interview about his records no longer getting played on the radio, I also think 'How much fame do you need, famous musicians?'. Part of the appeal of music and bands is their mysteriousness. If you know everything there is to know and hear everything there is to hear, where is the unanswered question that keeps you curious?

It could be that I'm missing out on the Listen Of The Century, but I am perfectly able to live with that. The Beatles as a quasi-religion, I'm perfectly able to live without.

Au revoir!

Little Clip of Woodwide Web from Rochester on Saturday


Tuesday, October 31, 2023


Being of Scottish extraction, our Hallowe'en lanterns were made of turnips and not pumpkins. What a trial they were to carve out! The poor fingers, all cuts and turnip juice, the knife slipping just as you were cutting the triangular nostrils. And what a funny smell, burnt turnip!

And then, nothing happened. 

Trick-or-treating is an American idea, and although McMum was American we just never did it. Could it be that we were a Presbyterian household? I don't think so: nobody else in the village seemed to do anything either. The turnip lantern sat all lonesome in the garden, its candle flame flickering and guttering until it was extinguished by the October wind.

Bonfire night was another matter altogether, though. Have I written about that before?

Monday, October 30, 2023

Last Gigs of the Year

Managed to miss off the letter 'B', and also the dates, first time around.

I don't think I've ever got a poster right first time, but this one took the biscuit! 

Ticket links are here:

Sunday, October 29, 2023


Disembarking passengers gaze at astonishing workmen.

Workmen gaze at astonishing disembarking passengers. 

Victoria Station concourse, around 12.45 a.m. Saturday morning.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Did That Really Happen?

Almost devoid of cameras, in a bubble of bonhomie a little treasure of a gig happened last night. The first part of it was like a Hollywood film- the door banging open at intervals, and shellshocked-looking, soaking-wet people, with hair askew, tumbling into the room with a sense of relief that they'd found us and that they were out of the grim and gruesome weather.

The next part felt like Time Bandits: doors safely closed, apart from the occasional forays of smokers out into The Weather again, the whole room felt like one big smile. Foldy seats were out in rows, the bar had an extraordinary selection of mismatched glasses that randomised the consumption of drinks, and after making the effort to get there, everyone seemed determined to have a bloody good time. 

No telly! No screens! Life in three dimensions with all it's happy accidents and spontaneity!

I'd been so worried about this gig; remind me not to be a promoter again. We had honourable competition (Johnny Hanna's postcards exhibition with free booze, and Swansea Sound in Hove), but we managed to pull a pretty decent crowd with a healthy proportion of young 'uns (actually, people in their late 20s and early 30s). 

Everything was set up for our sound check when we got there. Simon Hill, the studio owner, was really welcoming and even stretched James's guitar strings for him. 

James played first, and included a Smeggy and the Cheesybits song (Stuck on You) and a cover of You Get Everywhere by The Chefs. I played almost straight after, and noticed that people were singing along to the Bad Apple song (especially Kaya Kendall, Asbo Derek's drummer, who arrived with two friends and gave not only massive good vibes but also formation dancing at the back of the room). We ended with the best-ever rendition of the Bathing Pond, absolutely roaring down the storm, then James and me played The Chefs mini-set. For some reason (sibling empathy, perhaps), we managed to both make mistakes at the same time in Records and Tea, but the rest of it was fine, I think.

At the very end, I played Beachwalk as an encore, largely at Kaya's request. There was no time to hang around- the trains back to London were being cancelled left right and centre: a cab arrived, and delivered us (my nephew Alex and his friend and me) to the station just in time for the last train back. The cab driver even let us off some of the money- I'm not sure why.

The conversations: chatting with Rachel Dollymixture about song writing, and terrible press and record label people who have come and gone, and here we still are. We used to do a lot of gigs together, and I love them to bits. Sally Smith, the Helen and the Horns live sound engineer through all those gigs and adventures, brought her daughter and one of her sons. Alison, from Bradford via Brighton or perhaps the other way round, who should receive a gold star for loyalty, arrived. She is known for turning up unexpectedly at gigs in both places. Jonathan Chrisp, The Chefs London manager, came with his family. David McLean, who singlehandedly documents Brightons' music history on his page DJ Gremlin's Rocking Stompers, while the Punkbrighton website is resting, was there. Kaya, of course, and her friends cheerleading from the back. Nick Linazasoro, darting around with his camera (there must be some photos somewhere). There were lots of other familiar smiling faces: thank you so much for your good cheer, audience. You really were the stars last night. And of course, thanks to Simon Hill for volunteering his studio as a venue- and Gary, who manned the mixing desk and who runs a singing school there and got us a truly excellent sound.

This morning, I feel as though I was given an amazing gift last night. Sometimes, it all feels worth it.

Review of the gig by Nick Linazasoro in Brighton and Hove News:

Friday, October 27, 2023

Tonight's Gig

Only the second gig we've done like this, this one in a studio/community centre in Woodingdean, a suburb of Brighton, put on by Chefs fan Simon who runs the studio.

James went down a storm last Saturday, and we're recording the four Chefs songs we'll be performing. I believe James will be playing a cover of You Get Everywhere, and dammit, I'll do Northbound Train.

Stage times James 8.45, 

Helen 9.45 or straight after James, 

Pop-up Chefs straight after that.

Tickets here, will be taken off sale at noon today: 

Thursday, October 26, 2023

A Stiff Upper Lip

I went to the dentist this morning for some fillings. I was frightened. 

I didn't mind childbirth, but hurty things in my head are a no-no.

The local anaesthetic lasted most of the day. I forgot about it, and made a cup of tea which went in one side of my mouth and out of the other. 

The trauma of the drillings and fillings experience allowed me to have a really lazy day, and read three quarters of an utterly crappy crime novel that appeared to have been written to order for a focus group of Marks-and-Spencer types. It's finished now, and ready to go to the bookshelf at the tube station for a poor commuter to be troubled by it.

I've been worried that I've been lazy since walking out of my lecturing job last summer, but Champagne Friend says that I haven't, so maybe I really haven't. I used to structure each day very tightly to get everything done, but now the structures are much more wobbly. It is, though, quite amazing what you can achieve when you're not being undermined by neoliberal managers whose sole philosophy is being an underminer! How British society has changed: we used to have a strong mining community, and now we have a strong undermining one. They flit about from one University to another, managing decline and cutting budgets, leaving the academics to deal with the students' ire at not getting what they had been promised. In my last meeting with a manager, which was online, I decided to sit with a notebook and write down anything she actually said. She didn't say anything- she giggled for an hour. What a waste of time! 

I think I've been worried by not finishing any songs recently, but that is about to change. Plus I've learned/rehearsed four different sets over the past month, starting with Robert's backing vocals, then the Helen and the Horns set, then The Chefs quartet of songs for tomorrow, and my current songs.

I've also dug through tons of archive tracks, and sent off the unreleased Chefs album to Hull to be remastered, and made a bit of progress with recording me and James's duo versions of the four songs we've been playing together live.

I've been writing stories for a possible animation if I can get a story that will make sense in two minutes or less (a bit like the early Chefs songs, I suppose), and starting to have ideas for Beefheart! The Musical, which me and Gina will be writing in December, and performing early next year in Bury.

Now I have to prevent myself from worrying about whether I should drive to Sussex tomorrow, or get the train. It's so much quicker to drive, but will I feel sleepy? I bought some giant marshmallows to eat on the way home just in case and have eaten two already, even though they're disgusting. 

That's no way to treat fresh new fillings, is it?

Design for Puppet, from Sunday Drawing Club On Wednesday


Wednesday, October 25, 2023

An Unfocused Posting

Alas, there's not enough time to divide events into pocket sized postings! I have to get ready to go to James's to rehearse for Friday, and a half-hour splodge on the sofa is what's needed to gather my thoughts.

Saturday night was about as perfect as a gig could be- minus a few people who couldn't get there either because of the torrential rain, family issues, or it being sold out. People got there early for James's set and thoroughly enjoyed it- there were quite a few guffaws at his lyrics. Poor Performer went down very well too, as I knew they would. It was nice to hear Simon Rivers sing in a higher register than normal- very sweet-sounding vocals. They did a Jake Thackray cover too- very much a man of the moment, as they commented that James's stuff has that influence and people have said that about mine too (and Robert's! The net spreads wide). All those Sunday nights spent with McDad compulsorily watching Jake, with McDad in silent fits of laughter! I bought him a CD compilation when he was in his last months, and he was quite thrilled: I think he had forgotten how much he'd enjoyed him back in the day.

Anyway: less digression, more focus... The Horns played fabulously well on Saturday. They have developed a way to blend that breathes new life into the parts. I've slowed the pace of the songs down a bit so that it's easier to hear how they work together, and that has had the knock-on effect of allowing me to enjoy singing the songs more. It just felt really good to flow through the set like that, with the occasional error that proves that live music is always the best option wherever possible. How great to be able to pick up where we left off, and just do a gig again. I think I can speak for them to say that this is a line-up we all enjoy, and we loved our audience too. Lester Square and Mike Slocombe were there, original members of the band before I realised that I couldn't afford the £5 to get the drum kit to rehearsals, which we got for free because Dave had kept a copy of the key to the jazz rehearsal room (hardly used) at Imperial College after he left. I was living on such a shoestring budget at the time that I was practically counting the grains of rice I put in my dinner! All for the sake of being an independent musician. Anyway- lovely to see lots of artists in the audience (hello Doug Shaw), Karina, who had been at the Calton Studios gig in Edinburgh where a chant of 'Ho-runs, Ho-runs' got us back on stage for an encore, and where we sat for ages afterwards drinking vodka with Muriel Gray and the band So You Think You're A Cowboy, who we'd played with the night before in Dunfermline. Oh happy madness!

Yesterday evening, I went back to The Hub in Earl's Court, where after many conversations and a lot of hard work on Mimi's part and flexibility on Kimberley Gundle's part (she's the current artist in residence), Joan Ashworth's film on Sylvia Pankhurst was previewed. I had no doubt at all that the film would go down really well, and it did. The funniest thing was the crazy descent on to the pizza slices before the screening, but once everyone was settled, the women in the group became completely absorbed. As I watched the film that I've seen grow from just a little seed of an idea ten years ago, I realised the amount of different ways it resonates with contemporary women who are left out of mainstream narratives, and how much it validates the experiences of people who have terrible things done to them because they seek progress rather than regression and control. Sylvia went to prison for her beliefs, and was force fed- tortured- to humiliate her and make her back down. This is exactly what is happening to women in Iran. And she fought against Italian fascism in Ethiopia, supporting Haile Selassie. She supported working-class women who had the most horrendous health problems because of the lack of Health and Safety regulations at the time. Bonfire of regulations, David Cameron? We all know where that led us. It was immensely moving to watch the film amongst a community of women who understand many of these things from their own cultural perspectives. Champagne Friend came with me, and really enjoyed it too.

Mimi, Champagne, me, Kimberley, Joan, Audience member

Then Dan Whitehouse, who I taught at the University of Westminster, and worked with at the (now closed) Barnet Hill Primary School running Song Club, invited me out of the blue to a concert he was doing at the Pizza Express in King's Road. He's been collaborating with retired glass makers in the Midlands, and this show had songs from that collaboration and also an improvised section with a dulcimer player, Max ZT. This was a gentle set of meditative music: there was a lot of subtlety not just in Max's playing but also in the interaction between Dan and Max when Dan sang in response to the bed of dulcimer music that Max created. Dan is in fine voice, and has been travelling around as a songwriter collaborating with working people, including chain-makers, which was a real coincidence because Joan's film features a small section on women chain-makers in the West Midlands. It was really nice to see him again- fifteen years down the line! 

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Sam's Clothes

Here they are! The books have arrived. 

This primary school story book was written by Jennifer Rudd, a scientist at Swansea University. It's a story about sustainability in clothing, written in both Welsh and English, and I was invited to illustrate it last year. What a blissful three months! I sat and drew for three hours a day, thirty illustrations in all, with lots of emails between us to get things absolutely right.

The book totally resonates with my own beliefs and I hope it becomes a fixture in every primary school library. Fingers crossed, we shall do another. It was great to work with Jennifer!

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Ruth Miller

I need to make a posting specifically about Ruth, who started and maintained Unglamorous Music in Leicester. I found it heartbreaking to read a couple of weeks ago that she knew she hadn't got much time left; this week she died. It's so very sad.

Anyone who came into contact with her will tell you what a remarkable person she was. She brought out the very best in people, both through the zine Punkgirldiaries and the Unglamorous Music project in Leicester. She was funny and clever, and a very good musician. She was extraordinarily generous with her time and her knowledge, and was exemplary in carrying on right up till the end with her work, both loving and political, on the enabling of women musicians.

When I heard in January that she'd started a new 'batch' of Unglamorous bands, I wrongly assumed that he illness was treatable, and mentally celebrated. Alas, this was not so. How very glad I am to have met her, gigged with her, and watched her project grow successfully into a positive and celebratory articulation of the joys of being an older woman! I hope all the bands she encouraged continue to thrive; that would be a perfect legacy.