I do actually get into Walker’s today, and settle down to the work. There’s still some indeterminacy as to which computer I should be using – I start on a low-powered Mac by a window (much squinting to see the screen, let alone what’s on it), and gravitate to the training Mac downstairs (G4, used to have a horrid "hockey-puck" mouse, but now has ludicrously over-featured but nevertheless useable 5-button mouse). Andrea finds me a graphics tablet, which is sweet of her, but it doesn’t work exactly as promised.
After dinner I begin to clear the junk away from the window where the telephone socket is for the chap to fit ADSL tomorrow. Fingers crossed. Suddenly the room descends into chaos – it takes twice as long to organise the room into a navigable space than it did to clear the stuff from by the window.
That gigantic file: It’s the Animorphs covers, bouncing back at me again. It’s been a week, now, I really should put them on a Zip and take them in manually. Complete incompetence day, where I start by assuming that I don’t need to be in Walker’s until 11:00, decide to go in after lunch, end up not going in at all. Turns out I was supposed to be in at 9:30. Ouch.
Still, I managed to g to the gym, get a briefing from Tim Rose about some more covers he wants me to do, have a fruit-only lunch, cut a swathe through the Breathing Space cover, remix Peter Cadle’s tracks again, send out over £500-writh of invoices and check out Aiden McGee at Up All Night. And write a song, or at least the lyric bit.
When I deliver the disc to Tim, it turns out that he received it anyway. he suggests a few changes, and briefs me on a new series of covers he wants done. Quite mechanical, I suppose, but it’s indoor work with no heavy lifting.
Up All Night is at the River Bar, by London Bridge. I last went there in October last year, when I played for Joe Quillin. That was nice, because it was quite a cohesive evening. Tonight, however, the evening is suffering from audience compartmentalisation – a bunch of us have gone to see Aiden, so it starts quite nicely. But the audience for the next act come in in the middle of Aiden’s set en masse, which is quite disruptive for one hting, and then stand around talking loudly while he’s playing, because they haven’t come to see him. This happens quite a bit. A lot of the people who are there are not there specifically for the music, but to support Their Mate. This can often interpret as a kind of cotempt for the other performers. Bad energy.
The band following are hanging around by (indeed in front of) me, although admittedly I’m sitting right at the back on one of the sofas with Tessa W. They are a miasma of negative vibes, the bass-player particularly. When they go on, I am gratified (in my negative, backbitingway) that they are staggeringly ordinary. I don’t think the bad-vibing and unexceptional performance are unconnected. Worth remembering for those occasions where I might be tempted to put down other performers.
It’s a Karma thing.
On the way home I work on a lyric in my head. I walk all the way to the New Kent Road and catch a bus home where I write the lyric down and finish it. This is an interesting inversion – usually I have tunes in search of lyrics. Here’s a lyrics waiting for a melody.
I call up BT to find out what time today they’ll be installing the Broadband and they say June 20th. I bluster and go "what?" and they reschedule to June 1st (this Friday). It’s a seller’s market, I suppose. And at least it means that I don’t have to shift all the stuff where the telephone socket is.
I do some NST Primaries and classical scales and file my nails – probably a bad idea given that I have a gig tonight. They may well be too short now. Moan moan grumble grumble, I’m never satisfied.
Not a terribly productive day – I’m in a bad mood. The e-mail is down to a crawl again, and I have to try to send a couple of documents with large attachments – the Animorphs stuff to Tim, and a replacement file to Antony Rowe for the Guildhall stuff. This takes several tries, and will probably cost a fortune and gets in the way of my getting to the gym again. Or at least that’s my excuse. It is always good practice to externalise one’s own shortcomings and pin them on a scapegoat.
I have a Linda McCartney Chile Non Carne for lunch. Indistinguishable from a ready-meal that actually includes meat, although do note that I’m specifically talking about frozen lazy-person’s food here. Nothing that could be related to the word cuisine except as a marketing ploy. From my present vantage point (as an inadvertent non-meat-eater) it seems curiously fetishistic to use real meat in the production of junk food if the results are indistinguishable or at least as pleasing (more so in the case of burgers). Perhaps we have a fetishised relation to meat – it’s always said that people are divorced from the reality of meat production and I suppose this is true, but I think they are very aware of the symbolism of meat production, the Bit Of An Animal as an icon.
It does seem to me now like quite an odd thing to do (meat-based junk food), but perhaps not. I’ve certainly noticed not having all those extraneous hormones swilling about my body.
I listen to the Thierry sessions I recorded at Peter Cadle’s a few weeks back. I wonder if there’s any way I can separate out the instruments more. And the guitar sounded much better at Peter’s . This is the drawback of not having a top-of-the-range recording studio at one’s disposal. I pile the effects onto the guitar and then peel them back off again. What I get always sounds better than what I’ve just had but still needing something. I should probably remix from scratch. I also try a couple of VSTinstruments on it (although if I can’t keep what I’ve already recorded under control…).
I have a bath, do some scales and get ready for my gig, and then go there.
When I get back I check my email. There’s a mail from Bill Brickey and at least one of the huge attachments has bounced back on me. After waiting for half an hour with very little progress in the progress bar I decide to leave it for the morning. Abed.
After the Kaycee excitement last week, Metafilter is closed to new subscribers. This is the second time I’ve got in the doors just before they closed in the last couple of months (the same thing happened at PopBitch)
I have to get the Postscript files for the Guildhall thing off today. I spend the morning downloading the Linotype 300 driver from the Internet and getting the settings right. Fingers-crossed right, anyway. Then I have lunch while I’m printing out PDFs I’ve made from the files (to be sure that they are getting the right things). Then there’s that terrible period when I’m trying to motivate myself to leave, and then I somehow impel myself out into the street and I’m off.
Although not as convenient as Saturday and a stopping train (and working to an unspecified Bank Holiday timetable) the trains are still being kind to me. I have remembered to take a book with me this time – The Inner Game of Music.
Sara and Dan meet me at the station and we go to get a coffee (I have decaf, oh what a good boy I am isn’t it sickening) and chat. Sara appears to have entered the Freemasonry of High-Level Amateur opera and wish her well. Who knows when such connections will come in useful?
The train back is non-stopping. O joy! Pa lifts me from the station to Tescos, where I load up with fruit, and presents me with a suede-effect jacket that has come, quite literally, from the back of a vehicle.
Big bowl of fruit for dinner, and then I settle down to try to get this diary up to date.
Brushed with Oil, Dusted With Powder, the last track from Scritti Politti’s Anomie and Bonhomie album comes on. I realise that it’s that tricky Green fellow appropriating the aesthetics of the boy-band. Quite brilliantly, even though it’s taken me nearly two years to realise it. Let me say it again – the album is superb, easily as good as Cupid and Psyche 85. And perhaps one day they’ll remaster Songs to Remember.
Later on, it’s Angel No by Yello, from the New Mix in One Go album. Twenty years old, and it’s still as groovy as it was then, not really dated by it’s heavy Fairlight (or possibly Synclavier) use. That’s quite an achievement. Where are they now I wonder?
Later on it tries to force me to listen to Macchi and Xenakis, but I’m not really in the mood.
I wake up and get dressed. When I’m in the loo, I look at the time on my Handspring Thing (very small. I wonder if there’s a downloadable Palm OS big graphic clock?) and it’s 5:30am. Oh, for goodness’ sake. I go and lie down again.
Resurface at 7:03am (I check the clock first this time) and go downstairs to the dining room to attempt a sitting. The lodgers across the courtyard are going out and see me sitting motionless, staring out of the window at 7:00 in the morning. The presence of palpable nutters at the Buzzos’ house will be all round Newmarket soon as snapping your fingers.
I stroll over to the bus station to see whether there are any buses on Sundays. I have to get back in time for the Kamel Klub this evening. Prefereably, I have to get back with enough time to have a bath and mung out before going. There are – every other hour, twenty to the odd hours. I resolve to get the 12:40.
I make some instant coffee and have a slice of cake (I suspect that I went to bed before the cake last night). Then I get out my guitar and metronome and have a couple of hours practise before anybody else wakes up. Janine comes down with a headache. It’s quite a shocking thing – I’m the first up, feeling absolutely fine, no hangover at all. they must be wondering if I’ve been possessed. This isn’t very "me" behaviour.
Everybody drifts in and Dan makes breakfast – much tea and many croissants.
I get to the bus station in planty of time for the bus and sit down to wait. And wait. And wait.
Apparantly the buses are held up in traffic because of the airshow. Airshow? I’m assuming Mildenhall. They could have put up warnings or something. Some of the people waiting have reservations for particular trains and are getting a bit jumpy. There is talk of hiring a colossal taxi. When the bus finally arrives (an hour and a half late) we are afraid to believe that it’s the right one until the driver confirms it. He tries to be helpful and drives very fast and changes the route to go to the Station first so people by and large make their connections, but people are still pissed off. Waiting for 90 minutes with the threat of having major journeys buggered up will do that to you. A scottish fellow who needs to make a 14:10 train (and does) decides to torture the driver by sitting up the front and chattng to him ("I don’t mean any offence, but it’s fucken disgusting") which seems to rattle him more than outright screaming would have. And rattles out of him the confession that if he hadn’t been feeling public-spirited he would have cut straight to Cambridge to pick up passengers and left us marooned.
There is a train waiting for me at the station. A non-stopping one, too. Why are the railways being nice to me?
King’s Cross – someone scalping Travelcards. I hate that. I don’t know why.
I do get back in time for a lie around, a big plate of chips and quorn-burgers (and the bowl-o-fruit meal promised such a healthy lifestyle) and a bath.
I am expecting quietness at the Kamel Klub, because… well… because I a miserable pessimistic bastard. I suppose it is a bit quiet, really. Rob Mullender is the music headliner, Sally Smithson the poet, a couple of poet floorspots turn up, as do Terry and Denise (which is nice – actual Klub members!) and I do a full set to open. Well, there’s enough time, and I want to. I’m actually playng quite sloppily (ironically, considering the amount of practising I’ve been doing recently), but it doesn’t seem to matter.
Sally is marvellous – she has some really nice new ones and manages the split between "funny" and "sad" very well. My sister calls on the mobile in the middle of Sally’s set (I have the ringer turned off – it just flashes) – while Rob and the boys are setting up, I call her back and get the audience to say hello. They make a gratifyingly large noise, too.
Rob is transcendant. He starts with his hymn to Lucifer (no, not really Crowleian at all), which is just breath-taking. He has one of those soaring, almost-falsetto voices like the Buckleys, that are very much in fashion at the moment – yer Travises, yer Coldplays all affect it. But his is the real thing. He also has a very fine double-bass player and a new percussionist who spills frappables all over the tiny B&R stage. Rob has seven songs. I ask if he wants to do an encore, and he tells me to. So I do.
We must find our ego-massages where we will. I do Iodine which, I hope, complements Rob’s set.
After it’s all finished, I ask Guy the double bassist whether he’s available for work. In theory yes, but since he lives in High Wycombe and has MS (and so doesn’t like to travel too much) it might make it tricky. I take his number anyway. Who knows what configurations I’ll need in the future. I start to plot nefarious recording plans.
As often, the actual night leaves me full of goodwill and a warm feeling – I only book peopple I really like, so I do get pleasure from seeing them play, and people are, on the whole, glad to play. But I find the whole situation surrounding the Bread and Roses so stressful. I’d love to do it in a tiny, living-room sized venue, perhaps a handful of floorspots (not the endless list that a wholly open-door policy ends up with). I’m not really afraid of success, but weary of… well, if not failure, then certainly the labour of trying to wrest something from the jaws of failure. Perhaps that’s the condition of life.
This morning there are 17 emails to download, but they download very slowly indeed. The server is obviously not happy and bouncing as one might hope. No doubt it’s the fault of the heat (despite the fact that I know there are email servers in Arizona, where it’s hotter than this all the time).
I clean the kitchen area, spurred on by the fact that if I dont my flat will smell very chocolatey for a while. I also clear up the living-room floor.
I get to the gym for the first time since the gout set in. I don’t exercise to excess, but it’s nice to have done at least a bit of it. I especially appreciate the sauna (despite the fact that it’s hot out). I ought to try to work out how to get more exercisa. It’s amazing how little MTV changes in three weeks. I mean pop is supposed to be a high-turnover, here today and gone tomorrow business, and they’re still showing last year’s Sporty Spice Wannabe Ibiza Anthem. The one where she has all that long hair and smiles a lot in a manner that I can only assume all involved thought would be mistaken for winsome. Personally I see someone smiling like that and I hope they’ve not been let near the sharp implements.
Remember children – implements are sharp; instruments are blunt. Unless you are a surgeon. But blunt implements are always a waste of time.
Bowl of fruit for lunch. So a relatively healthy half a day.
I pack a duvet some CDs and a guitar and am off to Dan and Janine Buzzo‘s in Newmarket for their barbecue. They’ve just (relatively) recently got back from Hong Kong.
The rail bit of the journey goes relatively smoothly – I’m not sure but this could be as a sort of payback for all those years I sat forlornly on railway platforms in my early twenties. Or perhaps they’re just lulling me into a false sense of security.
I’m not sure, but this could be the first time I’ve left London since I started doing this diary.
I have neglected to bring a book. I spend the journey reading from Robert Fripp’s Aphorisms, like a good cultist.
At Cambridge I catch a bus from the rail station to the bus station and then another to Newmarket. Whenever I’ve caought a bus to Newmarket previously it’s been a dinky little single-decker. This one, however is a stonking great be-off-with-you mofo of a coach courtesy of Stagecoach. They’ve also reorganised the bus stops so that whereas previously the buses pulled into a parking space, stopped to pick up passengers and then drove off again, now the narrow Cambridge streets are jammed with buses of different shapes and sizes. Total chaos.
Have they recently deregulated, I wonder?
On the coach to Newmarket are a couple who are evidently just taking their A levels. She maintains the conversation with a string of questions, a lot about his brother – How tall is he? Does he have long hair or short hair? Does he wear shoes or trainers? What kind of Trainers? Like your trainers or like my trainers? What kind of trousers does he wear?
She has a fine job cut out for her working for the Interrogation section of MI6. I’d give away national secrets just to get her to stop asking questions.
He’s answering all the questions perfectly amicably, though. I, on the other hand, am, after half an hour, ready to turn around and scream "For God’s sake, show her a bloody photograph!".
But then we arrive in Newmarket, so I don’t have to.
Dan has recently acquired a Big Square Car. The house is in chaos, large amounts of it are occupied by lodgers, the rest is being redecorated. The cellar is covered floor, wall and ceiling with industrial bubble-wrap.
It is, of course, a celebration for Janine’s birthday on Tuesday. I put the date into my Handspring Thing, so at least next year I’ll be able to get a card in advance.
Much quieter this year than last – no Titus, Nathan, Andy P, etc. There are Matt & Janette (who have to rush off to see to their very ailing cat), Andy (who’s asserting his right to be Drew at the moment), Paul and the Newmarket regulars. My first barbecue as a vegetarian. So successful that I stuff myself beyond capacity, although the fact that there are a lot of other vegetarians here means that it was quite a smooth ride with much food courtesy of the late Mrs McCartney. Would I have held up if there’s been nothing but chicken legs and hamburgers? We’ll have to see.
M&J bring a copy of a flick book, a flythrough of a male upper torso based on the Visible Man Dataset – an executed prisoner who was sliced vertically into 1800-odd 1mm slices and digitised. Someone comments that he looks like the kind of person who’d be condemned to death –"look at that neck!" – but I point out that that’s just a symptom of being Texan, and, anyway, we weren’t seeing him at his best.
It’s nice sitting around and chatting all evening as people drift in and out and become more and more drunk, but I flag at 11:00 and have to go to bed. This is a child’s bed (child in question is sleeping elsewhere, you’ll be pleased to know. I certainly was). There’s an X-Men comic in the bedroom. I was reading X-Men twenty-five years ago. Good lord. I notice Wolverine’s temper hasn’t improved.
I’m back at Walkers today. The SoloEtte (as well as drawing admiring/mocking looks and remarks) is proving more useful – I can do scales during long opens and saves.
Walking home (in the lovely summer evening, incidentally), I see a couple of A3 posters stuck to a billboard. I think I’ve found someone worthy of my vote. I try to put the link on Metafilter, but they (quite reasonably) have a cooling down period for subscribers before they can post links. The traffic generated by the Kacee Swenson Saga has put them out of action for the last couple of days, or as NTK say in their typically sarcastic coverage, "[Metafilter], in a sympathy attack, decided to not exist itself this week, vanishing off the Net at its most popular point ever." Bandwidth restrictions and irony are very close friends indeed.
E-mail comes back on line, just in time for the end of work on Friday (and this from "Britain’s Leading Business ISP" – news to me too). But only a handful of mails. Presumably all the rest are clogging up directories on their server in a kind of chip-fat/artery sort of a way or are lost forever.
Hot chocolate tragedy.
(I use the word tragedy very loosely here, you understand.)
The wire rack is still in the combination Microwave/grill/oven thing. As I am trying to put the hot chocolate in the microwave and remove the wire rack at the same time I end up with not-yet-heated chocolate everywhere. I mop up the worst and then make some more hot chocolate, because I’m tired and I want to go to bed.
(Constant reader is horrified – "He makes cocoa in a microwave? Ugh! How déclassé!")
The twingeing in my ankle refuses to go away. Going up and down the ladder to my bed is slow and difficult.
The mail server is still not accepting messages. Neither is it sending them out – a technical document from Dan Russell about setting up the Guildhall files to print and then nothing.
After my bath I get on the bus and go down the Walworth road to pay money into the bank and the building society. I get to the front of the queue and realise that I’ve brought my paying in book. Not the cheque book. Chiz. I go to Argos and but some earphones to use with the SoloEtte.
The 344 is held up again at the Lambeth Bridge roundabout. This time, it’s someone attempting to buy a ticket with a £20 note. I don’t know how much sympathy I have. As usual it would be quicker to walk, but I don’t want to walk all the way to Walkers with my leg. As it were.
I get into Walkers at 11:00 (I’ve been asked to get there late, though not this late, perhaps), and Donna sets me to work in the Maisie mine.
Fajitas for lunch. And very nice they are too.
The SoloEtte does it’s job, but I find it difficult to do scales, probably needing to get used to the neck. Also I need to raise it up a bit (but the cushion I use instead of a footstool would make the bag too bulky).
There is a rumour of a postal strike. Presumably they’re jealous of the tube workers and want their share of the sunshine. This might bugger up the Guildhall thing. I really ought to listen to the news occasionally, I might be able to work out what’s happening in the world.
Charley very decently gives me a travelcard he doesn’t need, so I go up to the Embankment and wait for a bus. More high jinks – the driver tries to leave a trio of women stranded at a bus stop, and at the next stop he closes the door on an elderly gentlemen with a stick as he’s trying to get off the bus. The E.G. treats him to the kind of abuse that one would more readily expect from the Youths of Today. I suspect that he’s been saving up his anger from previous brushes with bus drivers to let out at one time. There really are some terrible drivers on the buses. I noticed on the 12 coming up Walworth Road this morning that one company is explicitly trying to recruit over-fifties, presumably because they hope they’ll be less crap.
Now the mail server refuses to respond altogether. Bastard. I log on to the zoo.co.uk Customer Support page. Yup – there are "issues" with the mail server. Of course, when I log on after they’ve got it fixed and have to wait for hundreds of messages to download…
I’m too washed out to do anything but sit on the sofa and write this. Hopefully I’ll catch up today and I can post it on the website. If you are a constant reader of this nonsense and want me to alert you when I update in future, please drop me a line. Obviously my email will have to be functioning for this to work…
I ought to tidy up, but I don’t have the energy. I stare at the mess, but I cannot intimidate it. I try clicking my fingers, but nothing happens. Bloody Mary Poppins. She lied to me.
I do half an hour of NST primaries, but no scales. I’ll do those later. I prepare the Scholastic stuff (and the Animorphs) to go, and Kirstie is sending a bike over.
Have another look at the next four Animorphs.
E-mail from a Dondestan subscriber who is getting her messages bounced. Sort it out. Meanwhile, I find that the server is refusing my messages. This is very annoying.
Robert Wyatt is on Front Row on Radio 4. They mentioned it yesterday, but I managed to forget. Damn! I grab a tape which I think was sent to me as a demo when I was running Fridays at Bunjies and jam it in the machine just in time. I manage to catch the interview with a brief break in the middle where the tape turns over. Hopefully I’ll be able to transfer it to the computer and perhaps even encode it as RealAudio and put it up on the Dondestan web page. That would be cool. That would be a brownie point magnet.
Notice that there are messages on my answerphone.. How did they get there? I haven’t left the flat all day! Hell, I’ve hardly left the room. One is from Sally Smithson asking for confirmation of the gig on Sunday (I phone her back with it and also the news that it might be a selective audience). The other is from George with a few final corrections and conditional sign-off on the Guildhall thing.
I sit and finish reading Skintight by Carl Hiaasen. I have now read all the Hiaasen books in my possession, and will hopefully be moving on to… oh, I don’t know… Tolstoy or something. Or maybe I’ll pick some of those Elmore Leonards that I haven’t read yet.
Hiaasen is very much a blokes writer. Usually these books don’t appeal to me (all right, apart from Elmore Leonard), but he does the hard-bitten stuff with a kind of liberal bent. It’s that strange dichotomy that you sometimes find in American writers, the combination of left- and right-wing points of view. So he’s very into the individualism bit, all is heroes are Real Men, but they all vote Democrat and are keen on protecting what’s left of Beautiful Florida. If, like me, you read four of them in the space of a week, the flaws and obsessions start to become a bit obvious. The same with Terry Pratchett, I suppose, but Pratchett is a lot nicer in the long run. Too much Hiaasen leaves you a bit flat.
I try to e-mail the covers over to Tim, but the mail server is having none of it. I’ll try again in the morning.
Work from Kirstie at Scholastic arrives (I think it was intended to get here on Saturday).
Place falling into chaos, but I’m putting off tidying it until… I’m not really sure when. Hopefully it will be soon.
Tim calls about the Animorphs stuff.
There is a gratifyingly long response from other Dondestaners, almost like having a real list. I hope it keeps up – we all mean well, I’m sure.
I try sitting with a piece of A3 paper brainstorming am arbitrarily chosen concept in hopes that I might get enough material together for a lyric. In fact, I get more than enough material – half of it seems to work together. I manage to get most of a lyric for an old song I’ve had lying around for a while down on paper. Only most, though. And now I have bits of A3 paper lying around.
Yesterday’s mailing from the Misanthropic Bitch yields a link to the Kaycee Swenson Saga on Metafilter. Extraordinary. I have a feeling that this may be legendary stuff, a bit like Mr Bungle, and I get to see the tail end of it play itself out. I sign up for MeFi immediately.
I do the work for Kirstie. Hurrah!
I get tickets to see Mark Thomas at the South Bank, same night as the Soupsongs show. Also courtesy of Mr Wyatt and his Meltdown thing.