the Walking Unnecessarily Long Distances With a Guitar Case Fitness Plan

Up later than I’d like (though earlier than late), and have coffee.

I have a to do list, but ultimately none of it gets done. Still too distracted for anything serious that requires concentration, annoyingly. I do some practice, but am generally bewildered. This goes on all day. Useless.

In the evening, I walk up to the Library – my usual guitar just having had its strings changed, I take the ancient 70s Ovation. This doesn’t fit in the gigbag (it has a significantly longer scale length), so I have to put it in its original and rather heavy brown Ovation case, and lug it. However, lug it I do all the way to Islington.

Arrive at the VAC.

Not quite as overstuffed as on some previous weeks.I have a seat behind someone who never stops moving, which I find – in my intolerant snowflake way – difficult to live with.

It’s a more traditional VAC where many of the performers have buggered off after they’ve played – but that sort of goes to show that they don’t get it. The audience that’s left is one of quality, certainly. If, perhaps, a bit overbeered in some quarters.

When I go out to tune my guitar, the person on immediately before me is tuning his. Sort of. He’s had a number of beers while waiting to play, and is unhappy that having arrived early he’s playing so late – but surely David lets performers choose their slot in the order of arrival (I have to play late, but I like to play late).  Anyway, he manages to break my clip-on tuner, and almost does the same with his guitar, which plummets to the stairs. I tune it for him.

Anyway, my performance is fine – Shame and Sem Nome, which I don’t bugger up at all. It’s nice to play the old Ovation, it’s just a shame that it doesn’t have a cutaway (which gets in the way of playing some pieces). It certainly sounds great – despite the fact that the newer Ovation has a top-of-the-line preamp and this one no preamp at all. They really knew what they were up to in the mid-70s, I have to say.

The walk back with the big Ovation case is quite different from the walk with the gigbag on my back. Perhaps it will give a small workout to my arms. It could be the germ of a fitness plan – the Walking Unnecessarily Long Distances With a Guitar Case Fitness Plan.

Whether it’s the walk or the performing, I feel significantly less bewildered now. Let’s see how I feel tomorrow.

meadows being in short supply at the Elephant and Castle

Up early, but not quite as early as the alarm suggested we should. Toast and coffee, a bit of dithering, then a shower and get dressed.

Leave the flat a little later than intended.

Get to Liverpool Street a lot more quickly than I expected, but that’s fine. It’s more slowly that’s the problem when you’ve a train to catch. Buy tickets and wait to be told the platform. Then get on the train and it eventually pulls out. I map out suspended 11th and 13th chords in my notebook. I might as well.

The train stops at Audley End and decants us onto a coach, which then creeps round the villages. They’re all very nice about it, but this particular journey isn’t really supposed to take this long.

Eventually the bus arrives at Shelford, which is where we were trying to get to.

Ben’s birthday lunch, which is lovely. I’m taking a day off logging everything I eat precisely, because I think it would probably be a bit difficult. Also, it might incline me to eat less of the cake, which would be a shame, as the cake is very nice.

We go for a stroll around the meadow, which is nice and not something I usually do, meadows being in short supply at the Elephant and Castle.

Tea and more cake and a chat.

Train home. I keep falling asleep.

I elect to walk home from Liverpool Street – which is, according to my Fitbit, not as far as I think it is – over the Milennium Bridge, and I get apples and pears from the supermarket on the way. That’s not cockney rhyming slang, it’s actually fruit.

SSGB being on, we watch it. I expect that there will be Talk about the fact that the main character communicates entirely in an incomprehensible whisper (which is actually quite an odd choice), but I’m mainly looking at the suits. Would a detective wear a black shirt in the 1940s?

Tonight’s movie being X-Men: Days of Future Past, yes, mostly for that scene with Quicksilver. I’m not altogether convinced that that giant computer could have been made with 60s transistor technology, but then that’s quite a minor thing to be not altogether convinced about in an X-Men movie.

Saturday Concentration Failure

Up late. Breakfast.

Try to learn more CodeIgniter stuff, but my head is too fuzzy to get anything done.

Lengthy, almost random, shopping expedition: To Foyles for books, London Graphic Centre for a picture frame (I call home for measurement of the thing to be framed, which I really should have done before I left, although I didn’t realise at the time that I was going to do that), Robert Dyas for batteries, Boots for vitamin-rich fizzies.

Home, tea.

Spend a couple of hours doing somethings on the big computer – updating the Mervyn Stutter for another year is one thing, don’t remember the others. Having Saturday Concentration Failure.


Off to get fish and chips, which are then consumed.

Put the j in the frame I bought earlier.

How to Get Ahead in Advertising is on London Live. It’s not a good film by any means, but it’s probably unique. I love the bits where he’s explaining how advertising works. People should do that more often.

using ad hoc collages of words in place of actual sentences

Up very late. Breakfast.

Do some more of the CodeIgniter tutorial. Now I can do interactive stuff, as long as I’m allowed to copy and paste functioning code that someone’s already written. Which I’m not, really, now I come to think of it.

Change the strings on me #1 guitar, which I’m using for a gig in a couple of weeks. But being a nylon string guitar it will take that long for the tuning to settle down. I’ll use the #2 guitar (the scarred relic of the 70) in the interim.

Shower and dress.

Out to Woolwich and beyond to be interviewed by Rob Thom for his ongoing project about open mics. When I arrive, another candidate is being done, so I wait for a bit in the living room with a cup of tea and some Choc Leibniz, which is as pleasant a way to spend a Friday afternoon as I can think of.

Settle down to the interview. I’ve not really been interviewed before. Perhaps practice would help, but I don’t know. It’s impressive that I can reach the level of incoherence I’ve mastered without the assistance of mind-altering drugs.

I don’t really remember what I said, but I suspect that very little of it made any sense. Also, I noticed a tendency to answer a question with a rambling monologue about something completely different, using ad hoc collages of words in place of actual sentences. Which is possibly why I’m not that good at getting jobs by the traditional means.

Leave at about five. I walk back to the DLR station. The view of the nacent skyscrapers at one point is very impressive.

On the way back stop off at the shop to get tomorow’s breakfast and tonight’s dinner.

Make dinner – simple, but nonetheless gratifying spicy meatballs with tomato sauce and rice.

Mastermind and Only Connect. It’s got to the point in the series of OC that I can’t actually answer most of the questions, but I do pipe up for enough to give the impression that I’m clever enough to join in. Also, I’m good at the Missing Vowels round.

Go out to the supermarket to get milk. And apples and pears. And cauliflower. It’s always been a problem for me that I basically free-form grocery shopping.

Watch the first couple of episodes of Legion, which I’ve … um … got hold of. Anyway, it’s extraordinary, or at least the pilot is, and the second episode is lots of fun. Hoping the fun continues.

Which is almost as good, and damper.

Up, sit, coffee. Shave and shower and dress. Leave a bit earlier than usual. Or rather “not actually late”. Which isn’t I’ll admit, the same thing as “early”.

Get in and do a few minutes on the retouching I was working on last night before I decided I didn’t know what I was doing any more.

Working on companion piece to the book I was doing yesterday. It’s one long work day – I’m not eating today. I’d thought I might use the lunchtime to go over to Tate Britain, but the work keeps me going through lunch, and we just pick up immediately afterwards. So I don’t have a break, but I do, occasionally, have tea. Which is almost as good, and damper.

In the afternoon, sit with the art director working on a new book, which is quite exciting. Also, I have to hack artwork in real time, which has its challenges. It’s entirely possible I’m very good at a thing so specific that there aren’t enough other people who do it that I can outrank them in any way.

After finishing that work, I do an hour or so on the job I was doing when I got in this morning, and check it off with the designer. We’ll pick it up again on Monday. I tidy and clean my desk before going home. So, today I want to impersonate a human being. What gives?

Get home and have a cup of tea. I want to do stuff on the big computer, but my head won’t allow it. So I sit at the big computer and watch U.S. nighttime hosts being rude about Trump. I’m looking forward to finding out what they say about his implosive press conference. He’s pioneering a new form of comedy.

My iCloud account decides to demand a new password. I’m as suspicious as you are, but realise that with my bubbling head and everything all I can do is comply, and hope it’s just Apple being annoying. Go round reconnecting everything to iCloud. There will be devices demanding the new password at the least convenient moment for months, won’t there.

Try a tutorial on CodeIgniter, which is a PHP framework for writing websites. It seems very powerful, and I feel pleased with myself until I realise I just followed instructions and copied and pasted. It will take a few more sessions before I understand enough to actually do anything. And not tonight.

Even more so if you had a clear idea of what you were doing in the first place.

Wake up at 6:30 and lie for a long time. Get up after seven. Sit, then breakfast.

There’s a particular chord I like, which I’ve worked out all the inversions of. I’ve been thinking of it as an augmented minor seventh, but a chance encounter with a web page on music theory suggests that it’s a sus chord, which makes more sense to me. Probably only me, though. I do chord sheets of all the permutations, including a couple that can’t actually be played. I keep sticking them into songs willy-nilly, and it would be useful to have a clear idea of how they work.

Into Walker, walking as fast as I can and arriving sort of around the right time with a hint of lateness.

The morning is various bits and pieces, and then reconfiguring a book that was 300×300 mm into one that’s 190×190. I get all the preparatory stuff done before lunch.

After eating I go for a walk – upriver to Vauxhall Bridge (for a change, as usually I do it in the other direction), then downriver past Tate Britain and back over Lambeth Bridge. Bracing, anyway.

The afternoon is spent continuing to take a large book and put it into a small book. It looks fine, but I’m interested to see how it looks when it’s printed out actual size.

End up working late, retouching some images. Decide to stop when I’m not sure what I’m doing any more. That’s always a good time to stop. Even more so if you had a clear idea of what you were doing in the first place.

Home, via a supermarket so I can get some milk.

Dinner by H, followed by Japanese Candy. Which is nice.

Head is bubbling, though. Spend the evening peering at the internet, trying to make it make sense. It’s not going well.

It appears I’ll be interviewed on Friday – I have to go off somewhere for it, as this place is such a tip it would be shameful to commit it to video. Posterity shouldn’t know.

you can’t be sure with raisins

Up, sit, breakfast.

I manage to avoid picking up the guitar – which would have delayed me ridiculously – but do get drawn into changing the fonts on this website, which somehow doesn’t. Which is odd. Then shower, dress and walk to work.

Into Walker, and carry on doing things with pictures of fish.

After I eat lunch I go for a walk. However, on returning to the building there’s a stall where cakes are being sold for charity. I buy two, then immediately regret it. No one seems to want my spare cake – everyone’s caked out by this point – so I put it in a tupperware and then into the fridge, and maybe I’ll want to eat it tomorrow, I don’t know. I eat the primary cake. I’ve not had any sweet stuff for a while, and I find I get a tremendous and slightly worrying sugar high from the cake. This must be how I feel all the time when I’m pigging on confectionery. No wonder I never get anything done. Though it’s not as if I’m getting anything done anyway. Still, sugar, eh.

Carry on working, and get briefed on another small job that I can, hopefully, fit between the headline jobs.

Go to the shop and get a bunch of vegetables and some steak, because there’s a notion that it would be nice to do something a bit fancy for dinner. I mean, Valentine’s Day is essentially an excuse to do precisely that. Amongst other things.

Get home and cook dinner, including potato wedges (which is a fairly standard thing, I know, but it’s experimental to me).

So dinner is a bit luxurious, and is followed by rum truffles. The sugar and rum (and possibly the raisins, too, you can’t be sure with raisins) interact and make me feel a bit woozy.

I have to do a tiny change to a font, then save it to DropBox, at which point I get distracted by tutorials for CodeIgniter, which is a framework for building websites. I couldn’t really tell you why.

Good to have warm bones.

Up far too later, or far later than I’d have liked. Coffee. Turn the computer on. Practise some songs. Drink more coffee. File my nails, which are feeling a bit long and scratchy.

I don’t really get anything done today, either. The cold that gets into one’s bones seems to mitigate against doing things unless you really have to, and today I’m working from my own intiative, which appears not to be initiating at the moment.  Late afternoon I have a shower, which warms my bones up. Good to have warm bones.

Walk up to the VAC. The usual loveliness.

My set is not without its challenges – I think the battery is dying in the guitar, and I filed my nails too short this morning, so I’m playing with the tips of my fingers. But apart from that, generally OK. I think I can play Diplomacy out now, especially when my nails grow back.

Walk home. It seems to be a bit warmer than it was earlier this evening. Or maybe I just feel warmer.

Today I stay up too late looking at the song ideas I’ve dumped onto my macbook over the last few years. Actually, quite a few years. I do this every so often and think “I should write those”, but never seem to.

it wasn’t the ironing bit of my life that was essentially problematic

Up very late again, eat breakfast and then there’s the obligatory Sunday morning period of vagueness while the rest of the day swims into focus.

H goes out to another play. I consider the possibility of doing various outside sort of things, but instead write the bits of a song that aren’t lyrics. Somewhat unexpectedly, but that seems to be the way these things happen. It would be useful to write the bits of a song that are lyrics, though, if only to cut down the backlog. And then have a hot shower, because when it’s cold like this, under hot water is a nice place to be.

Wash the white shirts in the laundry basket, and watch more Mark Blyth talks on YouTube while I’m ironing them. I wish I’d realised thirty years ago that it was better to iron clothes when they’re just out of the washing machine (it is). The ironing bit of my life would have worked out a lot better. Admittedly, it wasn’t the ironing bit of my life that was essentially problematic, but every little helps.

Go to the supermarket to try to find something for dinner. Settle on chicken and curry sauce and come home and make it. And then eat it. It’s very cold out there.

Watch the BAFTA awards. I have no idea why.

Top off the evening with more YouTube. We both agree that neither of us realised that so many horror movies were getting made until we started watching these trailer compilations on YouTube.

Everything old is new again. Except me.

Up very late. Breakfast and vegetate.

Haru goes out for today’s matinee, and I dither for a bit. A lot, actually. A bit of practise, but nothing systematic. Also, my new drug is StumbleUpon, which was also my drug… it seems like twenty years ago. Could that be right? Everything old is new again. Except me. Still, it’s a really nice way to find a bunch of things I’d not normally have seen, even if the current pool isn’t as various or as odd as I’d like. I’ll need to tweak the settings, I expect, if I can find them.

I go across to the Decathlon at Canada Water. I look at running shoes. I decide that none of them are suitable (actually, most of them are effectively labelled “NO FATTIES”, which rules me out anyway), and go home again. Several pounds spent not very well on tube tickets, but I suppose it got me out of the house.

I do a lot of ironing, while watching random YouTube things. YouTube has decided I only want to watch reports on what I think calls itself “Geek Culture”. YouTube is not entirely correct about that, but since that’s what I’m offered, that’s what I watch. And since I didn’t feel inclined to interfere with the feedback loop, I suppose I’ll be offered a lot more of it in the future.

Fish and chips. Tonight the television gives us a programme about Terry Pratchett, which is nice and celebratory, but I don’t know if it told us very much. Maybe that wasn’t the point.

Watch a long interview with Trevor Noah. This is because sometimes I just want to watch someone talking rationally about things they’ve clearly considered at some point.

Tonight I stay up too late watching Mark Blyth lectures on YouTube. I like a bit of variety in my fecklessness.