Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The Neo-Naturists, and Gina Birch at Tate Britain

Cold and grey outside, warm and pink inside. We'd turned up at 2.30 to see the Neo-Naturists before Gina's show.
I remember them from Le Beat Route in Soho in the early 1980s. Heralded by the disco version of The Sound of Music, the dance floor cleared and two body-painted women enacted a mysterious ritual before the club started up again with its hectic music and flirty vibe.
It was interesting to hear their history. I liked the body prints, and especially liked the tartan body paint for Scottish performances! Ha ha! I liked the black and white photograph in Soho outside a porn shop advertising spanking amongst other things, but didn't like my own intrusive thought that the Neo-Naturists had freedom to choose their nakedness, but the prostitutes didn't. Am I a killjoy? Maybe. The Eric Gill nude needed a bit of contextualisation too, I thought. But overall this was a very interesting narrative, and it was also very funny. They are very entertaining raconteurs, and had the audience snorting with laughter at several points. Apart from anything else, a group of women who are still clearly friends after all these years was really inspiring to see.

Yellow, pink and blue: Gina, Marie and Jenny stood in front of the huge painting of Goredale Scar, glowing with bonhomie. Just what we all needed! They had reworked I Play My Bass Loud, and amongst other songs played/sang both a Yoko Ono song in homage to her exhibition over the river at the other Tate, and an exceptionally moving Bob Dylan Anti-War song that brought tears of sadness and frustration to my eyes. They finished with Digging Down. The set was short and sweet and much appreciated by the audience.
So is this posting. A small branch from a potted tree poked me in the eye yesterday when it blew over in the wind, and it's made me feel rather unwell today. Nice thing, a batch of remastered Chefs tracks showed up in my inbox yesterday, and I also managed to get down to Honor Oak Park to record about ten seconds of James's' missing guitar in the guitar duo version of 24 Hours.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Talk on Christine Bott at The Bonnington Café

Kate Hayes (Catherine to you, perhaps), was one of the singers in one of the best bands in Brighton- The Objeks. Right from the start, the band were overtly political and shared with The Chefs a love of the Velvet Underground. Kate's tour de force was her version of I'll Be Your Mirror. You can hear a song by the Objeks here: https://www.punkbrighton.co.uk/downloadmp.html

Kate came along to the screening/gig that I did at the University of Westminster a few weeks ago. We went off afterwards and had a really nice chat, and she invited me to this talk, and gave me a copy of her book, The Untold Story of Christine Bott. Christine was the partner of Richard Kemp, who manufactured huge quantities of LSD back in the 1960s. Both were evangelical about its properties as an agent of change for humankind.

Of course, the authorities clamped down on them when they discovered their whereabouts, and both did jail time. Christine and Kate became friends many years later, and Christine bequeathed her diaries to Kate, who has used them as the heart of her book. More on the book here: https://theuntoldstoryofchristinebott.uk/

Up high in Vauxhall in the enclave that is the Bonnington area, we sat in a sunny room and listened to Kate talking about her relationships with Christine's family and associates. Audience members seemed to have used LSD at very young ages: twelve, and fourteen. I remembered a guy on my Art Foundation at Sunderland Art College, telling me that he's been able to buy tabs of acid for sixpence on the streets when he was ten or eleven. No-one expected LSD to be imported via Jarrow: too full of working-class thickos, he told us. 

My own memory is when I was a child, of a young woman in mourning coming to stay with our family. Her boyfriend had taken LSD and flown from the roof of his student residency in Newcastle, and he had not survived.

Yes I have taken LSD, and yes I enjoyed it. But only once: I couldn't imagine anything better at the time, but I could imagine how it could have been really frightening in other circumstances. Its advocates don't dwell on the bad trips. But that's beside the point: Kate has thoroughly researched an unwritten history and put an important figure back into it, and such histories are always to be lauded. It was an interesting afternoon, for many reasons; Kate has been entrusted with a lot of material that would not have seen the light of day were it not for her her diligence as a researcher and her empathy with Christine and her family.

Here is my story of my good trip, and my friend's simultaneous bad trip. A cautionary tale:


Thursday, February 22, 2024

Creating Through The Rain

It's been a low-energy week in some ways, but also a planning and 'feeding the soul' week. Like most people, I've been surfing the sewage of politics, both National and Global. 

About five years ago I dated a man who explained the major flaw in Darwinism: survival of the fittest inevitably means survival of the psychopaths. It is they who have the time and wherewithal to form masterplans than involve annihilating anybody or anything that gets in their way, because their brains are completely devoid of normal human emotions that might interrupt their ferocious focus on the goal of their own empowerment and enrichment.

He was an ex-prisoner, he later explained. I guess this gave him quite an insight into that particular realm of neurodiversity. He was right, though. Just look at the calibre of world leaders and tech supremos we currently have. They get to the pinnacle of their power and then start smashing things to pieces and destroying everything. Can we sue Darwin for giving us the impression that evolution will give us supreme beings that will benefit humankind? Nope, too late for that.

On that cheery note, I've been hunkered down most of the week hiding from the rain. I've done a bit of tinkering with Margaux, the puppet who will be telling a story not-yet-written. She has proved to be remarkably strong minded, and leapt off her perch a couple of weeks ago, which was pretty unnerving. I tried making two separate hats for her, neither of which looked right, although one of them suited her. I tried making silky paper hair but that didn't look right either. She is therefore going to remain bald, with a little skull-cap that I painted on her. I was going to make her a lovely cartridge paper blouse, but she looks quite good with her clumsy fuse wire hinges. Once she had her voile skirt (sorry, net curtains!), she looked complete. Now I have to move on to other things...

I also made a start yesterday at recording songs for my new album. As usual I have more than enough songs, but not necessarily songs that fit together or feel good enough to put together as a collection. I've recorded four guitar tracks, straight off. The guitar tone is lovely and I don't think I'll have trouble with the playing of them at all. I'm going to write a song today as soon as my brain wakes up. I had a sleepless night last night because of politics, and I suspect that a lot of other people did too. 

I thought I was having a terrible uncreative day, but then I misremembered a song (about memory) and made a melody that works much better than the original one. It's hard to leave it for another day but sometimes that's the wisest thing to do. Listening back to the guitar tracks from yesterday, the tone isn't lovely, but it's well-recorded. I'll have to change the tone settings to make it sound right and give it the full sound it needs to underpin everything. 

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Granny's Typewriter

American Granny had a little folding typewriter that I used to type my fanzine and the odd letter to John Peel on. It's been on a shelf for a while in its neat black box. The ribbon doesn't move any more, the type is worn and it's showing its age. It's very sweet though.

The musician and DJ Tom Robinson put a call out on Twitter for someone with an old typewriter so his graphic designer could use an originally-sourced typewriter typeface to do his tour poster with. I responded, and typed out an alphabet and set of numbers, moving the ribbon along manually and whacking the keys really hard to get as dense a black as I could. Capitals, lower case, numerals...

I think Granny would have been delighted that her typewriter has contributed to a 21st Century tour poster. She was fun!

Saturday, February 17, 2024


It's such a long time since I've been ill that I'm not used to it. I'm an impatient patient, straining at the reins to feel better. I think tomorrow at least is cancelled; today definitely has been.

I don't even want to watch TV (too loud and juddery), so I'm sitting here listening to my tinnitis and the cars hissing by my window (rock lyric reference). I am also wearing a dress.

I managed to pack a bag of DVDs into a box to put up in the loft, which I thought was quite clever considering how feeble I am today. Luckily, I sourced (!) some decent hot cross buns after being furious with Waitrose for shrinkflating them. With the latter, you open the packet and inhale an aroma, and that's it. Iceland has nice stodgy sticky ones that taste of cinnamon and work well with the 50% butter/50% HCB ratio.

I did such a lot last week that I'm not feeling that time is being wasted. I've been lucky not to succumb yet to the ten week cough, the fifth-time-around (for some) Covid, and the various other evil ailments that have been slicing through the population recently. It's annoying not to be able to go out to town (but I have a proxy doing that for me), not to be able to walk on the soggy common and visit the furniture ducks (little brown ones that look like bedknobs), or even to the shop to buy more tea. Let them drink coffee, or even water. I'll stick to the hot cross buns for today.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Ladies And Gentlemen Who Lunch

Ah, just relaxing with a cup of coffee. The tracks that I did for Gina wouldn't upload (only the other end of the street has Broadband, and apparently I never will), so I took them down there this morning along with croissants. Gina made the coffee, and we transferred them to her computer. Natasha is going round this afternoon to put cello on some of them. I can't wait to hear what they sound like next time I'm there!

Tom Hardy a.k.a. Lester Square emailed me out of the blue last week, and it seemed like a good idea to meet up with him and Mike Slocombe, the original Helen and the Horns, and have lunch together. 

Here we were, when Dave (trombone) and Paul (sax) had just joined, recording at Cold Storage studios in Brixton, playing the first version of our song Freight Train in all it's glory: https://helenmccookerybook.bandcamp.com/track/freight-train-featuring-lester-square-on-guitar

Music leads people into such interesting avenues. Tom is now writing on environmental issues for Byeline Times, and Mike continues to run the non-profit site http://www.urban75.com/ and also the Brixton Buzz https://www.brixtonbuzz.com/ (again, non-profit) as well as DJ-ing in Brixton to packed houses. We went to Mildred's in Soho and squashed ourselves into a corner. It was very noisy, but we ended up making our own noise and carving out a noise-space for our own conversation. Probably some of it I can't recount (the Priti Patel thing), but we talked about music industry and band behaviour, finding archive songs, and hierarchies in families until home-time. 

I was delighted when I got home to have an email from James to say he likes the mix of 24 Hours that I sent to him. Now I have to go through all four Chefs tracks we recorded, and check for unwanted noise, then match them up to each other sound-wise. 

But not today. 

I may need to go out for a bit to escape from next door's perpetually-yapping terrier, or I may just tune it out and slob about with this coffee all afternoon. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Yet Another Music Posting

How boring these postings must be if you're not a music recorder-er!

Today, I erased the vocal that I did for 24 Hours. It wasn't good enough and I couldn't re-sing it (tired voice), so I'm saving it for later in the week. I finished one of Gina's songs and almost finished another one, but I'm in a non-Broadband area unfortunately, and they wouldn't upload to Wetransfer to her so I'll have to take them round there. Old-fashioned! A person goes to another person's house and gives them something!

I opened a project for one fo my album songs, then realised that the guitar I needed for that is upstairs and I was too lazy to go up to get it. I did work out the correct speed, though. 108 BPM, FYI.

On Sunday at the Small Label Fair at The Betsey Trotwood I bought a couple of CDs, and one of them had a bitter and twisted song on it that made me realise that bitter and twisted songs aren't a good idea after all. I looked at the new words I'd written for my own previously bitter and twisted song, and decided that they would be OK to sing instead. I tweaked a couple of words and will probably record that soon, when I've been upstairs and collected the different guitar that I record with.

I think it's been one of those days where it seems that nothing as happened, but it actually has. I'm going to Dublin in April: that's all being planned. There are gigs in the pipeline, and I'm trying to be sensible and clump them together in a vaguely 'tour' formation, but let's see how that progresses. I'll be singing backing with Robert Rotifer in his band at the Country Soul sessions on the 3rd of March. Right up there in the sky of my head, trying not to squeak. Serves me right for seeing how high I could sing on his record! It's worth it for Robert's gorgeous songs though, and for the craic of hanging out with his band of buddies.

Monday, February 12, 2024

24 Hours

I've got the backing track sounding really good, and I've had a couple of goes at the vocal and simply can't tell if I've done a good enough job. It might not be a Monday track to sing: I'll take a listen tomorrow and see what it sounds like.

I sent Gina one of her tracks this morning to listen to as well.

I really feel like eating a ton of chocolate but I'm sure that's not a good idea. I'm going to do some drawing later on (a vinegar valentine, just for a laugh), while listening to a couple of purchases from yesterday's small label fair: Treasures of Mexico and Broderick and Turner.

There is only horrible tea in the tea bag caddy. Maybe that's something that needs to be rectified first.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Propaganda Textiles at The Fashion and Textiles Museum, London

I had a break from it all yesterday; this exhibition is due to close on the 4th of March and I swerved away from the Jewish Tailoring exhibition at the Museum of London because there was disruption on the Elizabeth line, and that one's on for longer.

The London Bridge area was thronging with tourists, which I suppose is a good thing. I was intrigued to see a container restaurant covered in giant red ants made by a member of the Mutoid Waste Company. I remember them from the late 1980s; they were often present with their customised buses and lorries at festivals and demonstrations, and my friend Saffie Ashtiany commissioned an upside-down bathtub light fitting for a video that she made. During the shoot, they all parked up outside to watch. I was a runner for her videos at the time, but on that particular one there wasn't much running and I could stand outside and wonder at the feats of creativity that they'd undertaken to construct their vehicles.

Once I'd got to the museum, I was appalled to have my photograph taken. No other museums do this, and I was so taken aback that I didn't protest (this time). But I'm not going there again, because it's an infringement of people's civil liberties. Having this happen in the same week that I was told I had to use the NHS app to order future prescriptions, then watching the app connect to my doctor's surgery, all ready for the information to be sold off to the corrupt multinational Palantir, I've had enough of data-gathering for one week, and indeed a lifetime.

So I suppose it was apt to be seeing in exhibition that concentrates mainly on propaganda and textiles. There were some truly beautiful examples of prints made to promote often macabre Communist, Western Allies and Nazi principles, and a triumphalist Boris Johnson We Got Brexit Done tea towel. There was a red pro-Trump kippah exhibited next to a red Pussy Riot beanie. By far the best exhibits were the prints, because of the fact that they were designed to graphically and ingeniously illustrate wartime escape routes, political dogma, and positive depictions of heavy industry. There were also dresses made from farm-feed sacks, and Japanese clothing with factories printed on them in subtle greys and silvers.

There was a lot missing (I've been interested in this subject for years). There wasn't any Soviet agricultural propaganda fabric, for instance, and there was a gaping hole where the curators couldn't see Capitalism because of being in the middle of it. Every single branded garment that we wear is an advertisement not just for the brand but for our stifling (and lethal) embedded-ness on the Capitalist system and the way it drains our creative energy and physical resources. This is propaganda, right in front of our noses, and is just as significant as a Chairman Mao tapestry or a Third Reich headscarf.

Anyway, as you can see, there was a lot of food for thought at the exhibition. I regretted never being able to make the NHS headscarf that I designed probably ten years ago- it was simply too expensive to manufacture, and I wanted to make something that people could afford to wear. 

Water under the bridge, water under the bridge.

So I came home with a head full of angry bees and wound down by replacing all of the vocals that I did on Gina's track yesterday, this time using a much better microphone. I will put a little bit of guitar on it later and then do a mix, either before or after I meet Kath Tait for a cup of tea. Heading in different directions, we bumped into each other about a month ago in Clerkenwell, and it was she who asked expectantly if I am going to release a bitter song. Well thanks Kath, yes, now I am since you asked, and I have been thoroughly enjoying re-learning it before I record it. Sometimes you need to shove dignity to one side, and just go for an empowering and cheering slab of revenge. Yay!

Friday, February 09, 2024

Laptopping Again

After a lovely day catching up with Joan yesterday, I got up early and started work on 24 Hours again. At least an hour's editing was wasted by the fact that I don't properly understand the way that this upgraded version of Logic, the music program, works. But I'm getting to the point where I think the track is sounding quite good. When you're mixing, your aim is to get all the sounds talking to each other, and that's just beginning to happen. In some parts of the song you have to be subtle, and in others, much more radical. A little section of it is playing in my head even now that I've stopped for the night: scritchy, scratchy, scritchy scratchy...

And this afternoon, Gina sent me a different mix of one of her songs to work on. For expedience, I plugged in a brutally simple microphone and just improvised probably far too many things on to the song. Tomorrow I'll take a listen, and maybe weed a few of them out then replace the keepers with vocals recorded on a proper microphone.

In between all that, I've been rehearsing some of the songs I'm going to record for my next album. Some of them are stretching my technical abilities as a player, but that's the name of the game. I know from experience that difficult things to play become easy suddenly, and you don't have to think about them any more.

Oh yes, and two mastered Chefs tracks turned up in my inbox from the studio where the album is being rescued. You could hardly hear the vocals on one of them but the guitars sounded amazing, and I guess I just have to put my ego aside and acknowledge that there is more to a song than the vocalist.

When we recorded the album, I was very ill with a duodenal ulcer. The whole idea of releasing it reminded me of that time, but listening back to the songs, well: nobody else wrote songs like we did, and I do feel proud of what we did. We were total amateurs, a group of self-taught and not very sophisticated young people who spent as much time fighting between ourselves as we did writing songs and rehearsing. We were completely naive about the music industry and rather prone to friends, family and music industry people interfering in what we were doing. I remember going to meet Pete Waterman, and the Moody Blues' producer being interested in us. As a musician I've probably got several hundred near misses to my name, and I definitely have several hundred dark stories from the underbelly of life as a musician. Unfortunately, they are not at all entertaining! On the plus side, we had a great relationship with John Peel, and I reckon we were the forerunners of Twee and of course, checked-shirt-and-fringed-jacket band couture (pretentious, Moi?), a style that I wear to this day. We also learned to play quite well through rehearsing all day, every day, for weeks on end. And I can still conjure up a harmony from thin air.

So it's time to release our vintage Chefs songs and set them free from the attic!

Everything is set up in the kitchen ready to start up again tomorrow morning. I'm going to have a weekend of singing, guitarring and mixing, which is exactly perfect for early February, doncha think?

La la la!

Thursday, February 08, 2024

A Good Session

Funny how laptop technology can demystify things. In one large bag I packed the laptop, interface, a couple of leads and a microphone, and headed down to Sarf London to record James's backing vocals. He'd thought of a nice part for 24 Hours and although I'd re-recorded it at 130 BPM, James preferred our original version and we worked on that. If it's slightly slower, you can hear the interplay between the guitars and I can understand his preference. I'm going to replace my own guitar part on it with a solid-body guitar to give it more guts.

As soon as I woke up this morning I had an idea for one of Gina's songs. That will have to wait until tomorrow, because today is going to be a social day. My friend Joan is coming to rummage through charity shops: unfortunately a walk is out of the question because the local area has turned into a soaked sponge and squelches even if you think about it.

It's good to have to wait. I'm a strong believer in ears-rests between recording sessions; sometimes it's hard to do but it allows a bit of objectivity to kick in, and also allows you to make aesthetic decisions about edits and so on.

Anyway, what I'm doing is procrastinating. I should be cleaning the house because of visitors, instead of splodging about writing this. Outside the rain is dribbling like an over-ripe melon. 

I'll need to get motivated to go out and buy bread, but right now I just need the energy to



Wednesday, February 07, 2024

From Wayback When

This video was made by DJ Patterson and has just shown up on Youtube. The gig was organised by the artist Martin Stephenson in Newcastle; I'd been in contact with Gina, Viv and Pauline after updating The Lost Women of Rock Music. The DJ was Michael Clunkie, and the audience was supportive right from the start. I think it may well have been Pauline's first solo gig, and Viv's almost-last (we did another in Manchester a few months later). What a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then!

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Recording- A Lot

We're getting to the final strait of re-recording The Chefs songs, or doing cover versions of them if that's a better way to describe it. I was surprised at how good they were sounding after having a few weeks off from listening. Tomorrow, I'll go to James's and we'll do a bit more finishing off.

It's the same problems as always: during the process of recording, you get better at playing the parts and start chasing your own skills. It becomes a case of knowing when to stop, and in fact for one of the songs I've taken it back to zero to effectively roughen it up. There's not need to make ultra processed food out of things that sound better with a bit of spontaneity.

I am also working on some of Gina's songs, which is (pardon me for the Beatnik terminology) a gas! They are so different from my own songs, or indeed any of the other collaborations I've been involved with. With these ones I load the track into Logic with the microphone on and ready to go, and just start singing. I'm going to listen to what I did yesterday and see if I need to weed anything out: it's tempting to go overboard.

And then... soon it will be time to start recording my next album. I did a version of one of the songs to pass on to a potential collaborator, and then realised that its tempo was too slow. Also, one of the things I focused on while I was away was detail. Every time I write a song I like there to be something new in it, and that's what I mean. Then another thing happens; as the songs become finished, new ideas for songs pop into my head and ask to be developed properly.

Alongside this, I know I need to sort out more gigs for this year. I do miss Jane-in-Sheffield, who used to do PR (and much more). Starting from zero experience, she ended up as a really good supporter and strategist, and I so appreciate what she used to do. It was she who bagged a page in Bass Player magazine for Shanne, Gina, Emily and me; she has a great imagination and ability to think laterally. This is a time in people's lives when illness swoops in and clips people's wings quite suddenly and viciously, and we all conduct our lives around these things. Massive gratitude to you: you're a genius!

It's astonishing that the retirement age is going to be raised yet again. It's like working people to death, isn't it? How incredibly cruel! I think I would have worked in my job for a few more years if the atmosphere created by senior management had not been so toxic, but so far I have been relatively lucky with my health. This is not the case with everyone, and people with a lifetime of work and often parenthood behind them deserve a little peace in their later lives.

Anyway, before darkness descends on my mood, I'd better stop writing and get on with a bit of musical creativity. The worse things look out there, the more I need to be creative so I can put fairy lights on the trees in the scary forest; It's not so frightening if you do that. 

Friday, February 02, 2024

Yesterday's Gig and Screening at Soho Poly

This was a rescheduled gig from before the pandemic, and was an absolute pleasure to do. Guy and Matt, two lecturers at the University of Westminster, have made the decision not only to document the music heritage of the former Polytechnic of Central London, but also to revive its live music tradition.

Back in the day there was a thriving University music circuit, predominantly run by Student's Unions. Even when I started lecturing, the neoliberalisation of even Student's Unions had started- sharing websites and communications, for instance. Gradually, the live music circuit on campuses has died and an outlet for live musicians has dried up.

So here, in this tiny venue, is a real grassroots initiative, supported by Independent Venue Week in this case. In the 1980s, Helen and the Horns played at PCL and I think The Chefs might have done too (must check with James!). Yes and Jimi Hendrix plus a host of other musicians. Apparently Pink Floyd used this room for rehearsals, and there was once a miniature theatre here too.

Guy and Matt are putting on a lot of events here, mostly with a focus on ex-students and staff. On Monday Sherika Sherrard played to a full house. When I was a lecturer there, I entered Sherika in the Musicians' Benevolent Fund Songwriting Competition and she quite deservedly won. I've watched her career progress on her own terms since then; she is a proper grassroots performer and still busks alongside her more formal career as a singer songwriter.

Well, we got there at 12 to set up and plan the flow of the afternoon. Film 1 p.m., Q&A after the film for 15-20 minutes, short break, then live music till 3. Would anyone show up? Late lunchtime gigs are a new thing for me. But the first two people who came in both had copies of The Lost Women of Rock Music and asked me to sign them, which was a good omen. Then Kate Hayes from the Brighton punk band The Objekts arrived all the way from Norwich, and the room started to fill up. There was Yen, an ex-student from the Westminster music course and now teaching Creative Writing; there was my Champagne Friend, and there was Chris Plummer. It completely filled up, mostly with people I've never seen at my gigs before.

I'd hoped to nip out for a coffee before the film started, but was trapped at one side and sat through it again. Actually, though I've watched it scores of times I still like it. There are bits I wish we'd done differently, but it is a product of its time and place and I still can't believe that we managed to get it off the ground with so little money behind us. Proper DIY, just like punk. I am proud of what Gina and me did.

Afterwards Guy chaired a quick Q&A of really perceptive questions from audience members that gave me a lot of food for thought. At the end, he asked me if I was going to make another film. No I am not, though Gina is making a film about The Raincoats. I think I'd like to make some radio shows, using the audio from our interviews; I'd also like to do the same with the interviews from She's at the Controls, but 'no' to podcasts. I don't listen to them: I like the idea of radio being a medium where information is contextualised and frequently presented live. Podcasts: life's too short to stuff a mushroom as the late Shirley Conran said.

Then it was music time! They haven't yet got monitors, and I had to keep an eye on my guitar playing to make sure that my fingers and hands were in the right place on my guitar. That's one of the drawbacks of playing electric: there's no ambient sound around you to tell you what's happening with the music. However I soon got used to it. I'd thought people had only come for the film but they all hung around for my set too, and I got a really great reception which I really wasn't expecting. I played Women of the World, which I rarely do live. It turned out later that some of the people in the audience had been Helen and the Horns fans, and chatting with them afterwards was really fun. At the end a few of us went off for coffee and more talking, What a lovely afternoon! I really hadn't expected so many people, and such a positive reception. It was grey and miserable out there, but warm and cosy in the venue. 

Guy and Matt, you're doing an amazing job. It was well worth the planning, and proof that it's possible to put events on even in the middle of London with all its distractions and Better Things To Do going on. I was also blown away by the travelling some of the people had done- Norwich, Colchester, Brighton, Littlehampton and another faraway place which I can't remember because of all the talking.

January, I love you.