I wake up definitely ill – dizzy and with an incipient sore throat.

I write a post on how to deal with small audiences (a handful of people in a club intended for tens or hundreds) for the Muses Muse site, but worry that this might be too depressing a subject to start with. I post it anyway.

I’m finding it quite difficult to concentrate, though. For the first hour or so, the Giant Cup of Coffee bouyed me up, but after that I find myself sinking down into not-very-wellness. So not ill, exactly, more Not Very Well.

I talk to Laura on the Phone re going to see Jim Hall at the QEH tonight. She mentions possibly seeing Tortoise playing at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, which I didn’t even know about. Could be a good idea as long as we could get upstairs tickets. When we went to see King Crimson there last year, the lack of decent raking on the Stalls area meant that none of ups could see anything. People pushing past us all the time with armfulls of beer glasses. Hateful.

In the afternoon I go back to bed, occasionally surfacing.

At six I decide to have Linda McCartney vegeburgers, with chips. I go out to get the chips, but when I return find that the grill has reduced the burgers to hideous rubber objects, despite the fact that I cooked them for the amount of time it said on the packet. Perhaps I didn’t read the instructions properly, in my addled state. I eat the chips regardless, hoping that they have some nutritional value.

Thence to the South Bank. The Tortoise is looking less likely. I feel slightly hallucinogenic on the flu.

Mr Hall is on a sort of form – it is nice to see someone still on top of his game at such an advanced age (he looks like an eccentric grandfather, I suppose). He may not have the gravitas that having led a more, uh Jazz lifestyle can give a musician, but has made up for it in longevity. I really like the way that what he plays isn’t mediated through people’s expectations of what Jazz is supposed to be, as I often see at Jazz clubs proper. Apart from the saxophonist, that is – no offence to the saxophone player, but Hall works so well in ultra-chamber music conditions (famously duetting with Bill Evans and playing with Paul Desmond, both jazz classicists, as it were; I have a CD of him playing in duet with Ron Carter), that the addition of an extra tone colour (especially one that says “Jazz” so clearly) can sometimes detract from the sound – perhaps I’d prefer to see a Trio: guitar, bass and drums. The rhythm section are very good, too. As a guitarist, I find myself drawn to Hall’s comping rather than listening to the sax solos (I hope that’s just me, he didn’t seem to be barnstorming), endlessly effortlessly inventive.

His music still works along “modern” lines – angular harmonies, strange intervalic leaps, but there’s as much of the Modernism of Debussy or Bartok, particularly in the second half when he brings a string quartet on for some numbers.

Perhaps these latter pieces weren’t wholly formed and thought out – particularly one piece that was explicitly designed to set the Jazz Quartet against the String Quartet – but the nice thing about Jazz is that it’s a music of Process rather than Statement – Rock is music of Statement: the Album, the Tour of the Album, the Hype of the Album, and then round again. Jazz is a continuum and recordings are slices through it. Kind of Blue (as I was discussing with Della at the All Bar One a couple of weeks ago) is a prime example of that – as far as the band were concerned it was Just Another Date, it’s been history and fashion and critical fervour that have made it a Classic Album, but instead of being the Great Statement that we understand Classic Albums to be (cf Sgt Pepper, Dark Side of the Moon, Electric Ladyland), the Miles Davis Group of the late fifties was a great continuum of creativity, Kind of Blue a cross-section through that.

It’s nice to know that I’ve chosen a good instrument to get old with – Hall in his seventies, as is B.B. King. Les Paul is still playing, I think, in, goodness, his Nineties, it must be. Derek Bailey and Robert Fripp are still making the scariest noises imaginable from a guitar in their Seventies and Fifties respectively. Old men with guitars – it’s the new Rock and Roll.

When I get to bed, I notice that my gum (that was infected very painful at Edinburgh last year) is twinging again. Hmm. I suppose it goes with the fluiness, lower the resistance and all sorts of nasties flood in. It takes a while to get to sleep (partly because of the sleep I had this afternoon, partly the gum). We’ll see how it is in the morning.

No headache. This is good. General feeling of fluishness, though. This is bad.
See, I do know the difference between good and bad.
There’s a sort of smell inside my nose. It’s the same thing as when I went to Sassoferrato – it was Tuesday before I knew what the food tasted like. I don’t really want to come down with a flu now, though.
In an issue of the Muse’s Muse newsletter, there’s a request for people to moderate the forums (fora?) on the Muse’s Muse website, and I suggest myself as moderator of the Performance Tips forum.
Vacuum the living room carpet, and decide that I need to clear the top shelf of the bookshelf (currently home to bric-a-brac that’s been there for up to ten years, and considerable quantities of dust), to make space for the books that are currently piled up around the edge of the room, and in boxes and just all over the place. So I take all the objects of the shelf, dust them and the shelf and put the objects in a box. Of course, there’s a big questionas to whether I’ll ever create a place for bric-a-brac, but we’ll see.
Spend some time with the vacuum cleaner getting the dust out of my two most unfeasible hats (a green furry one and a red felt one – don’t ask, it’s not as if I wear them at all). which, due to their unfeasibility have hung on the top corners of the bookshelf for longer than I’d care to remember.
After lunch I find that my proposal is accepted, and I’m now moderator of the Performance Tips forum, and need to think of some topics to get people talking. I don’t know whether it will work, but we’ll see.
I put off doing next month’s leaflets for the Kamel Klub until it is too late to take them with me to the Bread and Roses tonight. because I’m a bad boy. And Im late leaving because I remember at the last minute htat I need a tape player and some tapes (all I can grab in the time are Scott Sings Brel, XTC’s English Settlement and something else that I can’t remember. I don’t play it anyway), and a standard lamp for stage lighting. Well, exactly.
When I get there, realise that I’m feeling more fluey – the first time I’ve been ill since I got back from Sassoferrato. I wonder how I’ll take it.
The Klub itself is very quiet tonight – to begin with there’s just me, Janet on the door, Aidan McGee, Beowulf and his girlfrend and Dave Russell. All performers, apart from Beowulf’s girlfriend. There is also a chap on walking sticks who may be coming in or not – he’s chatting to Janet. When I start, it appears that he is coming in.
I kick off at twenty-five to nine (the 8:00 prompt thing disappeared a while ago…), doing Where Did It All Go Right?, Deja Vu, and then, to my surprise I do a complicated instrumental that I haven’t had the nerve to perform in front of an audience (except at the Finborough a while ago, when it didn’t work at all). Once it’s started, I need to finish it. Finally, I do Mr Wrong, because I like watching my fingers in the Infinity Mirrors on the opposite wall (that reflects the mirror behind me that reflects the one in front of me ad infinitum. Well not quite infinitum, because the imperfections in the glass mean that the image breaks down after about five iterations.
After me, Aiden comes up and does some songs, including North to the Border and his scurrilous a cappella tour de force, Watkin’s Ale.
And then Beowulf, who takes charge somewhat – he’s got the sax out again, interposing poetry and jazz breaks, inviting people in and orgainsing things more. He ssems to have some new material – an awful lot of notes, in his pockets, on his saxophone, everywhere. Halfway through, Brinsley arrvies with reinforcements – a whole family party including his sister, who’s visiting from Canada. So byt the time that Wulfy finishes, there’s more of a roaring crwod vibe going on. Brinsley asks if he can do a couple of poems, and, wel;l, yes he can.
And then the mighty Dave Russell. I always think it’s an honour to see him playing up close, there’s definitely something of the legend about him. He plays au naturel (that is to say without the PA) for the most part, as we all have, except for the guitar for Bus Stop, which he also uses on Microscope which is not just amplifies, but also given a lot of echo. Whether or not to use the PA is a conundrum – the room is small enough to play to without it, but some people get lost in the (very resonant) acoustic, and are fighting the reverberation rather than having it work for them. So I’m finding out what works by trial and error. Usually, sadly, error. But the mixer is becoming so cranky that it can be eaasier to do without.
And then Brinsley does some poems and that wraps it up. I go to the tube with Janet and Dave and Wulfy and Wulfy’s girlfriend (whose name will hopefully stick in my brain the next time we meet – I have such a terrible memory for names. And faces, too. Very embarrassing). And then home and bed, feeling achier and fluier.
I have to admit to myself that even though I enjoy doing this sometimes, I’m really not good at the schmoozing and the cajoling and the roll-up-roll-up that’s necessary – I can just put the information out there and hope that peole take me up on it. I need to do more cajoling

I wake up with a sort of low-level sick headache. Whether this is down to some evil atmosphere in my Pa’s house (which is possible, I often come down with headaches there), uncomfortable sleeping position or yesterday’s all-cheese diet, I can’t say.
A follow up post to the one about modes yesterday has me noodling again – this one has the modes laid out in terms of "colour" (from the darkest to the brightest, Locrian to Lydian), and another post has the modes explained functionally – Ionian with raised fourth for Lydian, Aeolian with a lowered second for Phrygian – so I go through the modes again. I have encountered all this stuff before, and will no doubt come back to it again, and perhaps one day it will all stick.
I get to the gym, but can’t do that much – I do a mere half-hour on the bike, still reading Wonderland Avenue and a session on the bicep curl bench thingy, but the lifting really aggravates the headache, so I cut straight for the sauna. The sauna is nice. I should try to get down here tomorrow or Monday, do some proper exercise. In the sauna I muse on the possibility of renting a permanent locker – that way I wouldn’t need the big bag and could leave a lot of stuff there, and it might be easier for those times when I want to go on the way to somewhere else. £8.00 a month, though.
When I get home I have a big plate of spaghetti and then spend a chunk of the afternoon finishing Wonderland Avenue. Like a Shakespearean tragedy, huge swathes of the Dramatis Personae are dead by the end of the book. It’s a sort of LA Trainspotting in that way. The final moral is "Don’t Take Drugs Kids – Its’s Not Cool", but at least Sugerman has a right to say it, having demonstrated conclusively why. He’s also very good on the pathology of misbehaviour and rejection of authority. In a lot of ways he resembles Bart Simpson, hyperactive, prescribed Ritalin (in the late Sixties, which was a bit of an eye-opener, I thought that was only recent). Up against the school authorities and with a veritable asshole for a stepfather, his best friend and role model was Jim Morrison, and later Jim Osterberg A.K.A. Iggy Pop. Iggy’s a hoot.
But the inevitable pitch into junkie insanity is … well … so inevitable. It’s a shame to have to go through it blow by blow.
I came out of it with more respect for Morrison than I had, even though I still think that the difference between a Dionysian and a piss-head is often, largely, a question of biographical spin.
Or maybe the problem is that drugs are cool. In Almost Famous, Crowe has Lester Bangs say to William that William’s big mistake is to imagine that he’s cool, or want to be cool:

[W]e are uncool! … Good-looking people have no spine! Their art never lasts! They get the girls, but we’re smarter …the only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool

Which is, of course, hugely comforting to those of us who are terminally uncool and almost proud of it.
(The trick, incidentally and if there are any Young People reading this, not that there will be, is honestly not to give a damn about whether you’re cool or not. If you can care as little as possible and be relaxed, the Cool are comfronted with the possibility that you may, in fact, be cooler than they are, and may be afraid to attack your lack of cool for fear of exposing their own. Anyone who is obsessed with coolness will carry with them the fear that they are not, as it turns out, themselves cool. Consequently it’s possible to pick up a lot of unearned cool by default. Yes, I know it’s about as convincing as "It’s not the winning that’s important – it’s the taking part". And being thin would help, certainly).
The next question is why I seem to have pitched so whole-heartedly into researching The Wacky World of Rock – my Pratchett book of the moment is even Soul Music, which is his take on the mythology of rock, in the same way that Moving Pictures is about the movies.
Try putting links into the diary for March – I have a lot of catching up to do, links-wise, I realise this.
I play through some very old material – Answers and Questions, It and Dancing in the Kitchen (with the house on fire), having to change the chords of the latter, which was written in a D tuning. It might be worth working on, though, for that CD of Really Old Songs I’ve been threatening to do for a while.
Oh, and of course there are the new ones to finish, darn it.
Darn it all to heck.
I still have the headache when I go to bed. In the morning, if I still have it, I’ll chop my head off. Or get some painkillers. Whichever is the more convenient.

I manage to get a healthy chunk of practising done, including some work on modes, based on a music theory mailing list posting. i’ve never really managed to get my head properly around modes – I know what they are and how they function, but I’ve tended to look at them the easy way as a major scale (usually, to be extra-lazy, C major) just starting on different degrees of that scale. The post lists the modes of Major, Melodic and Harmonic Minor and Harmonic Major all starting on C (so mixolydian is C D E F G A Bb C). It does change the way you look at it – just playing through it like that, the character of each mode can come out.
After finishing Expensive Habits I begin reading Wonderland Avenue by Danny Sugerman, who also co-wrote No One Here Gets Out Alive, the best-known biography of Jim Morrison. Wonderland Avenue is also about Morrison up to a point – Sugerman began to hang out with the Doors when he was thirteen, becoming a manager (to Ray Manzarek and Iggy Pop) before he was twenty-one. At twenty-one he suffered a colossal collapse, virtually died and was put in an insane asylum by his father.
I have nothing but cheese in the fridge. So it’s a chees sandwich for lunch. Hmm. Supermarket time, perhaps.
In the afternoon, I pootle over to my Pa’s while he’s away to check up on the place. I spend a lot of time looking at DVDs, once I worked out which remote does what, which button I have to press to see what, and how the DVD player works. Either I’m losing the Knack that allows me to work stuff without reading the manual, or technology is getting more complicated. When it rolls around to dinnertime, I check his fridge to find that to all intents and purposes there’s nothing there but cheese either. So it’s another chees sandwich for dinner.
I watch Almost Famous on DVD. It’s interesting to compare it both with the screenplay that I read last weekend and also with Wonderland Avenue, with which it shares a certain amount of plot – a precocious boy wants to escape from an overbearing parent (with intentions of sending him to law school), into Rock and Roll. Diverges around there, though. It’s not until I see it that I realise how safe the film is.
Frances McDormand is her usual wonderful self, but her dragging the character of the mother into the third dimension (although presumeably based on Crowe’s mother to some extent), in some ways defuse the character, particularly since she can only get the character to two-and-a-half dimensions. Primarily this is because although she’s opposed to her son going off on tour with a rock band at fifteen, she can’t ba able to actually prevent him. Why she is impotent in this matter is a mystery (it is mainly because the character of William (the son)’s teacher, who convinces her that he should be allowed to go, and holds her metaphorical in the script, has been wholly excised from the film. I think. I’m pretty certain).
The very best thing in the film is Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs. I could quite happily have watched a film about Lester Bangs, although as he says himself, he doesn’t get out much, so perhaps it wouldn’t be that interesting a film (although on second thoughts, it could be a great single-set movie, a la Eighties Robert Altman). Like McDormand, Hoffman has a typical performance that he gives (usually involving a lot of profile shots, for some reason…) but it doesn’t matter, because they are so watchable.
Certainly, without bangs/Hoffman, the film is The Wonder Years with guitar solos.
And ultimately, Bangs is right – the rock and roll that Stillwater are supposed to represent is essentially deathly, whereas Bowie and Lou Reed and Iggy Pop are more alive, although, in a film full of knowingness (the nasty but successful manager sent in by the record company to spruce up Stillwater’s business acumen convinces them by saying that if they think that Mick Jaggers still going to try to be a Rock Star aged fifty, they have another thing coming. Ha ha), this might be a bit of 20-20 hindsight masquerading as post-post-post-punk wishful thinking. And you have to wonder (along with Bangs, I guess), if he’s got Velvet Underground and Bowie (and presumably by that time Roxy and Eno’s Warm Jets as well), why does he need a dumb-ass boogie band like Stillwater (or indeed Black Sabbath, who Bangs sends him to interview, for some reason).
And Stillwater sound like Spinal Tap, playing all the heavy rock clichés (although at least a couple of clichés which I’s swear didn’t come into common usage until well after the time the film’s set, but let that pass).
The problem is that since the film is so neatly assembled, you can’t be sure whether this is ironic or not. Whether we’re supposed to have a growing affection for Stillwater because of their resemblance to the parody band that pretty much killed off that kind of rock and roll last time, or despite it, or just strike the Tap from our memory. As I sit here writing this, the word "revisionist" is tapping at the base of my skull with a toffee hammer. I may have to let it in.
Whether my father has any sense of time-keeping, I don’t know, but his living room is full of Devices, which in this day and age means that his living room is full of clocks. All showing wildly diverging times. I put my money on the big clock with the hands being right, and lose my shirt. It’s an hour out, so I don’t get home until twenty past eleven, and even then, I have to go back out again to get cocoa, having run out last night, and managed to keep the thought that I needed to get some more in my mind right up to the time I passed the shop, at which time I forgot about it completely.

Get to practicing – the Envelope is duly collected (and another deposited in its place).
Gill e-mails over amends to the font and instructions about a third combination version I am to make. By taking a whiteboard pen and doing a small scrawl on an old kitchen cabinet, I establish that I can use any formica as whiteboard, rather than having to splash out for a proper one. This is a useful thing to know.
Deliver the Nick cover final files to Walkers. I meet Ben on the stairs and we go and do lunch, which is very pleasant, particularly since I don’t have much at home, so my lunch would proably be a roll or something. Lunch was sort of spinachy fried cakes (think "vegetarian fish-cakes" although that isn’t entirely fair), noodles, lots of salad. Delicious – I spend the rest of the afternoon on a "Good Food High". Long talk with Ben after lunch. About capitalism, mostly.Also speak to Donna about what I might be doing soon, and say hello to Amelia, who’s in for a visit (she’s looking well, I must say). And of course chat to Amanda on the way out.
So a lot of concentrated socialising.
When I get home, I do the corrections to the Font that have been sent through and mail them off to Gill.
Also, I’ve been reading Expensive Habits by Simon Garfield (who also wrote The Nation’s Favourite about Radio 1). Despite the fact that it was written in 1985, it doesn’t seem out of date. Basically it’s about financial affairs in the music industry and how the artists getted screwed. Well, usually. The portrait of Allan Klein is interesting, because although he is a bastard, he apparantly directed his bastardness towards getting much bigger cuts for the artists (and then taking a chunky slice of it for himself), whereas I just thought he was a bastard. I remember being surprised to hear the same thing about Peter Grant. The general tenor of the piece seems to be that the Artist cannot know exactly how they’re going to be screwed, even if they take some kind of legal advice. Just that they’ll get screwed.
To Clapham for the Zarathustra’s at the Bedford arms. At the tube station, a fellow accosts me, saying "Are you better than Jimmy Page?" trying to be funny. Why do people assume that because I’m carrying a guitar case, I’m naturally fair game for stupid comments. I reply "It depends what at," (after all, I don’t know how Jimmy Page is at ironing or cribbage), but he’s already moved on to a group of Spanish students, joshing them about something or other. I do realise that being instantly suspicious of any total stranger who exhibits friendliness may be a character flaw. I don’t know that I care, though.
Peter Simmonds and Tonia Thorne are at the Bedford Arms – I can arrange a rehearsal (for next Wednesday, as it turns out) with Peter. He isn’t playing tonight, he’s there to lend moral suport to Tonia, who is on second. I am on third.
Everybody’s fight against the sound, somewhat – he needs something bigger, with more top end, perhaps to cut the middle and some of the boom. Maybe even a compressor of some kind. But definitely more definition in the sparkly end of the spectrum. The room’s quite boomy anyway, so that might help. How it would work for feedback, I don’t know, but with a graphic, he could… Ah well. Not my problem.
Interesting gig – it’s very noisy, and I suspect the noisiest bit of the audience is directly in front of me – a small but excitable woman, a veritable Life and Soul of the Party. Just have to hope that someone out there is listening. I think they are. I do Little Games, Mr Wrong, Iodine, andComforting Lie.
On the way back, such is my keenness to get to the front carriage (facilitating easy exit at the Elephant end) that I almost miss the train altogether. I think there’s a moral lesson in that, boys and girls.

Ben sends a list of very fine suggestions to reverse engineer music from the genre description – for example, Phat Metal, Tech Bop or Ambient Bhangra. I am, as they say, well into that.
Final pesky turnaround on the Guitar thing. I can do it up to speed, but keep going blank and grinding to a halt. I’ll get there.
Do the Gym Thing – sadly, I don’t get there in time to do much of the running around. I try to make up for it by lifting more moderately heavy weights than usual.
On the way back I go past (yes, past!) Gramex, decide not to go into the health food shop and then fail to buy a White Board. So, well out of my way for nothing except the extra exercise (maybe that’s it, maybe I was tricking myself into exerting myself that little bit extra).
All the same I’m not going to be doing the London Marathon ever, unless they allow in people who just want to stroll it. And you can’t stroll twenty-six miles, it’s a contradiction in terms. Strolling is done until you reach a variable point defined as Whenever You Feel Like Stopping. Well before twenty-six miles, I’ll tell you that for nothing. When that point is reached, you stop. Possibly for an agreeable cuppa (or pint, depending on tipple of choice).
Tim will send the bike tomorrow. Means a lot to me, that does. Very useful information.
Finally get round to mixing Peter Cadles’s tracks and burning them to CD to send to him for review. Of course, there’s still the tricky "Actually putting the bloody thing in an envelope and sending it" stage to go. But the rump is laid. As it were.
My Apologia for Prog is ignored. The third way, possibly the least stressful.

Perhaps I should make myself clearer as regards the "guitar solo". Obviously, if I am a solo performer, and I stop singing at any time, anything that continues to happen ought, by rights, be considered a "guitar solo". What I am trying to do is find something more complicated to play so that the audience won’t get bored. Rather than merely widdly-widdly ad nauseam, which is what some people think a guitar solo is. I’m getting better at it.
I clean the bathroom and change the water filter. The fact that I am continuing to keep up with other human beings in the housework stakes does not fail to amuse me. They said it couldn’t be done. Or rather, they said it could be done, indeed really ought to be done, but was unlikely to be done by me.
After lunch I jet off down the Walworth Road to do Money Stuff – a further depressing pouring of my currency into other people’s bank accounts. I pop into the charity shops but nothing appeals – it’s entirely possible that I have enough shirts. Astounding!
I go into the library on the way past, and spend a long time pouring over the CDs. They are redecorating at the moment – I’ve got them out on loan until the fifth of June, which seems like an eternity away, but isn’t of course.
(I have that gig on the second…)
The reference section has been temporarily relocated in front of the jazz CDs. Don’t want to disturb them.
All the same, I look at all the CDs twice, and pick seven.
On the way through the Shopping Centre, I find that a tractor beam drags me into Tlön Books, where I spend another long time browsing. I sit down and read Toyah Wilcox’s autobiography, or at least the bits that refer to her courtship by Robert Fripp. We all have our prurient sides.
My prurient side is being heavily indulged at the moment – not only have I subscribed to PopBitch, but I found a Groupie web site (a link I followed up after reading the Almost Famous script the other day), which includes a lot of gossip. A lot of that is what is called "Blind Gossip", where they say – oh I don’t know – "Which teen idol has been caught in flagrante delicto with an inflatable cow?". To which the answer is, of course, "Well? Which one is it, then?"
To which the reply is silence, or perhaps a significant wink.
You’re just supposed to know these things.
On the one hand, this means that they can head off libel actions at the pass, on the other it suggests that they can just make it up as they are going along.
One can only hope that it doesn’t catch on in the respectable media – "Which major world leader was caught out today, when a certain Asian superpower declared nuclear war on them?", "This Third World Country has been struck by famine again!"
Of course, exactly who does anything doesn’t matter. The members of the various girl bands, boy bands and girl/boy bands are interchangeable to such a degree that any transgression or rumour might as well be associated with one as another girl, boy, whatever. The picture painted of the pop business is so sordid that I find it difficult to believe the… the…
Well, frankly, the stupidity of it.
So anyway, my prurient side has me buy No One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman (wait a minute – this book is about the Doors! I’m not that interested in the Doors! Damn, carried away again!); Wonderland Avenue by Danny Sugerman again (debauchery in the rock world of the 60s and 70s); Expensive Habits by Simon Garfield (more music industry unpleasantness, this time British and financial); and for a little light relief the Grimm brothers’ Household Tales (illustrated by Mervyn Peake) and The Double Tongue by William Golding (left unfinished at his death, so not one of the must-haves, but I’m a fan).
Donna calls from Walkers to ask if I can go in in a couple of weeks. So things are looking up workwise. Or squinting up, anyway.
Later, I write and post to the Corpses an apologia for Progressive Rock. I do hope I’m not torn apart. Or, worse, patronised.

E-mail Tim at Scholastic about the Animorphs cover for this month.
Back to the guitar exercises – this time from Jody Fisher’s web site – and readdressing the guitar solo. Again, I’ve forgotten whole chunks and need to rewrite those sections. My take on this is that if I can’t remember bits of what I’ve written, then they can’t have been that memorable to begin with. So it’s either a useful winnowing process or a gross rationalisation of my dreadful memory. But it’s coming on. Before lunch, I appear to have a whole Thing done, and can even play it all the way through, over and over, with only the odd hiccough, albeit at 80bpm.
The injured thumb is just enough of an irritant to impinge slightly on my consciousness. Let us see it as a Pointed Stick of some kind, shall we? A reminder that I’m not supposed to press on the neck too hard.
Chase up bits of work, but don’t catch any.
Write cheques to cover various bills and put them in envelopes ready to go in the post. But it’s only 3:00, I’ve plenty of time.
Mmm. Vast quantities of money out, but no money in.
Call Joe Q to see if the CD and cassette covers came out alright, and he seems quite pleased with them, even though it sounds like the printers thought the CD file, which had been laid out in spreads, had in fact been imposed. But that doesn’t actually mess with anything really badly, it just means that the credits (which were supposed to be on pages 6 and 7) are on the centre spread. And the other pages have been jumbled slightly, but then they were fairly jumbled to begin with. Apparantly I’m on the door for tonight’s launch, so that’s nice, if I’m in a marginally cashflow-sensitive frame of mind, which I suppose I am. We forgot to put a credit for me on the cover, but I don’t mind particularly.
My spiritual life has improved since I’ve been doing people’s CD covers for the karmic boost of it, anyway. And I’m sure it’s good design practise.
After more metronome work, I can play the guitar solo all the way through, and in a very raggedy and halting fashion up to 168bpm, which is faster than it really ought to go (and thus probably the speed I’ll end up playing it when I panic on its first outing). Still difficulty with the last couple of bars – do these need to be rethought even now?
The song now has the working title Almost Perfect but anyone using the title on conversation with me is likely to get blank stares – it’s one of those curious interior things. Any mention of it from the outside will just leave me confused. I’m actually pretty bad with titles – usually they’re just there for other people, so they don’t get confused. Sometimes I’m asked for a title, and tell it, and receive a sort of "that’s a rubbish title" look. Which may well be true, but by that time I’ve stuck the track on the internet and made literally dozens of CDs. By that time, it’s what the track is called.
But Almost Perfect is the working title of the track I’m labouring on. And when you finally hear the finished song and wonder where the guitar solo has gone, don’t ask. It will mean that I can’t play it.
Before you hear it from anyone else:

In the kingdom of the mixed metaphor, the one-eyed man is worth two in the bush.

Get to the post-box just before 7:00, but it makes a worryingly hollow sound as the letters rattle down into it. I have a vague sense that the chap locking up the newsagent is laughing at me, perhaps because I have obviously made the effort to get to the post-box just in time and have got the just too late instead. Or is it just that paranoia has finally taken complete control of my brain and he is in fact laughing at … I don’t know, a funny tree or something.
Random thought – I need a whiteboard.
Off to the 12 Bar to Joe’s launch. When I get there, I end up packing the CD artwork into the cases. I get carried away and do about fifty in the end – more than they need, certainly. It looks fab, I’m both relieved and impressed. And the cassette cover looks really good, too.
I must remember that printer for when I do my next CD.
Rob Mullender is the first on, while I’m still upstairs doing the CDs. I’d booked him for the Soundwave on the night I came back from Sassoferrato – I was totally fritzed before I went, and had my mind fairly expanded when I came back, and he didn’t play. The evening turned out well in the end – a lengthy set from Mr McGee, which I enjoyed tremendously – but I owed Rob, ao I’ve booked him for the 27th of May. Marvellous stuff – yearning, soaring vocals. And he has a double-bass player, which is always a good thing.
Speaking as one.
Naked Angel do the second set, with Kat using Joe’s Rhodes (sounds lovely, I think), and eventually Joe goes on. I stay for two numbers – a new song about suburban lads (I think) and Bones from the album, with Will from Naked Angel joining in on Djembe. Very powerful song Bones. Then I have to get home, bed, sleep. I’m turning into a sad old man. I probably mentioned that before.

The script for Almost Famous was delivered with Sight and Sound this month, and I find myself reading it.
I get practising early, and come up with an instrumental section for one of my newer songs, which doesn’t yet have atitle or formalised lyrics. It kind of needs an istrumetnal bit, though, structurally. Last year in Edinburgh, I though I had it, but was working on something that was in block chords (like the solo from Little Games), but because of its chords (Emaj7, Eb7b9, G#m7 to begin with) didn’t lend itself comforatbly to that sort of a treatment. This is more like arpeggios, using open strings wherever possible to navigate up and down the neck. It’s a lot more complex than I originally wanted, but that’s alright.
I interrupt its development to go to the gym, and when I get back to it after lunch find that I’ve forgotten whole bits and have to readdress them. Also, I realise that I need twice as much per chord as I thought. So back to it, and I’ll need to practise v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. Oh well, it’s a sort of upwards and onwards thing.
I can recommend Almost Famous or the script thereof, anyway. The end’s a bit pat, perhaps, considering some of the film’s selling power is derived from the idea that it’s a True Story (the film’s writer/director Cameron Crowe was a teenage writer for Rolling Stone like the lead character), and Real Life doesn’t really work like that. Or maybe it did, and I’m just being cynical. Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs, apparantly. Those bits – the Lester Bangs bits – ring true, as does some of the industry stuff. A lot of the things to do with plot and characterisation are less convincing, as though the story was an excuse to fit in the unconnected things Crowe remembers or has researched.
Perhaps it would be less noticeable if I had actually seen the film (perhaps Pa has it on DVD).
Keep worrying away at the guitar solo.
Change sheets, do housework, the usual stuff.
As I am opening the cupboard to get a cup for my cocoa, a cup falls, hits the stove, breaks and rebounds, deeply cutting my left thumb. Well, not hospitalisation deep, but ooh-blood-where’s-the-plasters deep. Iodine in motion. Hopefully it won’t cause too much annoyance guitar-playing-wise – after all it relies on my being able to press the thumb against the back of the neck.
Am trying to finish Interesting Times and am telling myself that I must read a book not written by Terry Pratchett at some point.

Almost total inactivity – feeling very tired, and put of any Exercise until a later date. Tomorrow, possibly. Try to get a One For All surrogate for the TV remote to work, with no success whatsoever. It (the actual TV remote) must be within five feet of where I’m sitting, but is hiding out. It will turn up eventually. Some kind of Unconscious Hint that I don’t really want to watch TV. (I can’t even remember the last time I turned it on). I had intended to go to the Soundwave tonight (to see Judith Silver, singer songwriter, and also Rachel Pantechnicon, ketchup-fixated poetry diva) but don’t make it. I’m feeling very tired for some reason. Probably the late nights last week.