And if I am ever so inclined, please shoot me.

Up at 7:00. Vague comatose sitting, then drink coffee and chat (as well as I am able) with Ellie until I have to leave to go to the station.
I wait for bus but realise that I have no change. I end up walking all the way to the station, gettng there with enough time to get a big bottle of mineral water, a Guardian and some sandwiches. The train is more busy than the trip up, a combination of it being a Saturday and 9:00 am rather than 7:00 am.
After a couple of hours I have read the whole newspaper, am having no joy with the crossword and the journey seems literally to be taking forever. After all, the amount of time it’s taking is enough to watch two movies in. Or Titanic and an episode of Cold Feet if you are so inclined. And if I am ever so inclined, please shoot me.
I get home at 3:00, eat chips and just sort of lounge around.
Pa is back from U.S. so I ask him to tape the Brass Eye night on E4 for me.
Listen to Joe Frank The Red Sea, and a lecture from Sharon Salzberg on loving kindness. She is specific on this not being needful or sentimental, which appeals to me, anyway. One of her stories (All spiritual teachers have stories, like chat show guests) concerns her confronting her fear of a large neighbourhood dog called Max. I immediately think of shop assistants, for some reason., of whom I have an irrational fear. After all, I have that disposable camera to send to Boots for developing. I’m really looking forward to the expression on the assistant’s face when it becomes obvious that I’m the one who took pictures of his feet and what appears to be the inside of his pocket.

long and talony

Up at 7:00, drink coffee and chat to Ellie, before she goes off to work on her web site. I hava a long practise session. However, it feels like my nails have grown a bit too long and talony – if they are too long, I can’t get the attack, they scrape n the strings and sort of trip over themselves. There is an ideal length, but they are either too long or too short. I ought to try to work a daily filing-and-shaping routine into my practice, but I ought to do lots of things and only do a few of them.
I go back to the organic food place for brunch, where I have the soup this time – mushroom soup. Very nice. Wander into town looking for nail file. Find FOPP records, where they do an excessively seductive line in £5.00 CDs. I buy Lodger by David Bowie, Tim Buckley‘s eponymous first album, Kind of Blue and Miles Smiles by Miles Davis, Aqualung by Jethro Tull, Strangers in the Night by UFO, Pawn Hearts by Van Der Graaf Generator and Bone Machine by Tom Waits. I also buy Amnesiac by Radiohead in it’s "collectable" hardback book edition. Collectable or not, it’s nice bit of packaging, well worth the extra couple of quid. AS you can see, despite my best efforts, my reseduction by Prog continues unabated.
I get back to Ellie’s flat, watch Ruzedski (continuing the tradition that the best Englishmen are foreigners) winning his match and have a bit of a lie down.
At 6:25 I set off for the café, getting there in plenty of time for a sandwich and a couple of cups of decaf cappucino (or decappucino as the woman calls them). Peter and his son Seami arrive just after seven, Pam soon after and a couple of others soon after that. So it’s going got be a nice quiet evening. This is only their second week back here, and their first back in the cellar.
The café used to be Common Grounds, and Holly Tomas and Peter used to run a lovely cosy Friday evening session here until it closed just over a year ago, when it shifted to Lianachan. The place has been bought up by a successful local musician and reopened. Peter is tonight’s featured act. Pam does a few songs, followed by some floorspots then peter, who does about half an hour. I’m on after Peter and I do Little Games, Mr Wrong. Then a woman called Claire does a couple of songs, Pam again, and then I go back and do (a special request for Seami) The Things You Get and Iodine. Chatting afterwards, it turns out that Claire knows Steve Chin. And therefore Caroline Kendall. And Ian Coles. Small world. I’m booked to do a featured act there on August 17th (and an afternoon slot at Whistle Binkies on the 16th). So I get to play during the Fringe after all. Hurrah.
I slip off back to Ellie’s for a chat and hot chocolate, and then creep off to bed (after midnight!)

We have chat rooms for that sort of thing.

Up at five o’clock in the morning.
Well, you get the idea. Wouldn’t want to deplete the world stocks of exclamation marks. We have chat rooms for that sort of thing.
I sat for a bit and had some breakfast, followed by the inevitable dithering. I got out of the door at about 6:15 (to catch the 7:00 train), worried that i wouldn’t make it, or would get there just in time to see the train pulling out of the station. In retrospect there wasn’t any particularly good reason for me to believe this other than that it’s a traditional part of rail travel.
As it turned out I got there with ten to fifteen minutes to spare, so I was able to get some mineral water from WH Smith’s.
My seat was on the outside of a pair at a table. I diligently sat in it, despite the fact that people passing me would buffet me. I read the introduction to Essential Tibetan Buddhism, continuing my brush with that philosophy. I hadn’t realised the implications of the fact that Tibet was essentially run by monks up until 1951, dedicated to the enlightenment of the general population. No wonder people idealise it so. The writer suggests that this will be the case when Tibet is reclaimed from China (which, in light of the changes in South Africa and the former Soviet Union, he sees as inevitable). I think he’s being overly optimistic, given both the tenacity of the Chinese regime and the Multinational Corporation hegemony, which is likely to be at least as unsympathetic to an anti-materialistic runling philosophy as Beijing, even if it is up a mountain at the top of the world.
That said, my own instinct is that Buddhism is the natural spirituality for virtual or semi-virtual living, although I can’t explain it any more than that.
I spend most of the journey sitting there with my eyes closed, probably a bit disconcerting for the two women who get on at Newcastle. I care not.
Getting into Edinburgh Waverly, I buy some single-use cameras to record my visit, although I do find that I’m loath to photograph just anything on the grounds that the person at Boots is going to see them and give me strange looks when I go to collect the pictures. This is possibly an important self-censorship instinct for those of us who are overly intimidated by shopkeepers (where does that come from, I wonder?).
Then I bus it up to where Ellie is doing a web design course in order to collect the keys to her flat.
After that I wander off in the general direction of the Mercat (the venue du jour). I am dragged ineluctably into one of the many fine second-hand bookshops near Grassmarket, where there is a fine selection of sheet music (I am hoping to fine violin or cello exercise that I can adapt to NST for the guitar). I don’t get anything from the music cellar, but do find Games People Play by Eric Berne, Erewhon by Samuel Butler and The Autobiography of a Supertramp byW.H. Davies at seductively inexpensive prices instead.
I stop at an organic food cafe, where I get a cheese sandwich. It’s only after I’ve bought the sandwich that I notice the soup they are serving, and am drawn to the idea of coming back and trying it some time. Perhaps tomorrow.
When I finally set off in earnest towards the venue. Just around the corner from Ellie’s flat I decide to go down the left- rather than the right-hand fork in the road and find myself walking past the McEwan brewery in Fountainbridge (the reason that Edinburgh smells so malty. In fact it’s the maltiest city I know), and then on and on. When I have walked for half an hour at least, I check the map and find that I’ve gone off in the wrong direction and wandered three times as far as I needed to, am now at least twice as far from the venue than I was when I changed my mind and need to catch a bus. I get there eventually, though.
I am taking tentative shots of what I’ll call my progress all along the route. I am also, apparantly, taking photographs of the inside of my pocket, my feet and other unnecessary adiaphora. Oh what joy collecting the snaps from Boots will be. I love being treated to that contemptuous stare that only a junior shop assistant can master. No, really, these people scare me.
A bit quiet, but then it is a Thursday afternoon. When I arrive, one Stuart Blance is playing – it’s 2:30, and I’m on at 5:00. I sit and check out the various performers, and go on to an audience of four, inlcuding one paying customer. It’s fun, though. I enjoy it. I suppose I do about an hour altogether. Merri-May Gill, who’s the next act, arrives about three-quarters of the way through the set with her manager and percussionist.
M-M G is a bit of a whirlwind. I’m so glad that I didn’t have to follow her. Actually, she’s a reminder of how complacent I can be in terms of the being an entertainer thing. Being a nice middle-class English boy, I suffer from the "I’m going to play a few songs now, if that’s alright with you chaps" inferiority complex, which (although it’s nothing compared to the local Edinburgh Calvinist "This will probably be crap but I’ll give it a try" inferiority complex, which is absolutely crippling) does me no favours. People actually want to be entertained, and Ms Gill (in common with a lot of Australian performers) goes out and entertains them. It does give me a lot to think about, on top of the laughing and generally being entertained.
I slip away to get a pizza around the corner (all the take aways here do pizza, which is dead civilised, I have to say, because it means that you can get some decent veggie take-away food. Contrary to popular belief, these are not deepfried, even if this is Scotland) and run into a couple of Peggy Vestas on the way (they played on Tuesday). Nice to meet them again – the last time I saw them was backstage at the Ross bandstand last year.
I stay for a few more acts and then get back to the flat (just a step away, as it turns out) where I go comatose.

I think he’s earned the right to play silly-buggers.

Back to the Nick stuff, finally. My morning internet browse goes on for a little too long.
In the afternoon, I dash across town to pay money into building society, buy some more water filters and stock up on nutritious food from Safeway. It’s very hot. Probably a candidate for "Hottest Day of the Year". There’s something cramped and chaotic and unnecessarily complicated about the Safeway on Walworth Road. It’s as if the manager had skim-read an article about how if you jumble up the goods it increases impulse buying, but had got a bit carried away.
To the South Bank to see Elvis Costello and Ivor Cutler. Not together, sadly. Or perhaps not sadly.
I run into Joe Quillin and Jo on the way in, before scurrying off to find my seat (it turns out that they are sitting a few rows behind me, but we are not to know that at that point).
Robert and family have occupied the Royal Box again. A sort of socialist overthrow of the trappings of aristocracy I suppose. It’s good – I have a reverie whereby there’s a sort lottery for nights when the Royals aren’t in for occupation of that box. Scooped up from the back of the Balcony to the most prestigious seats in the house sort of thing. That said, the sight-lines are probably terrible. The royals aren’t supposed to enjoyconcerts. Merely attend them.
Ivor is very Ivor. Plays songs on his harmonium (which he didn’t when I saw him last year with the Divine Comedy) including A Wooden Tree, which is, I suppose, his Greatest Hit. Being in an audience reminds me how funny he is: listening at home, his world is so deadpan and self-contained that you could be forgiven for thinking that you’re the only person who finds it funny. With an audience of several thousand, there is no confusion.
We applaud him, correctly, at 40% of our usual volume.
What a great man.
Elvis plays his usual silly-buggers. But I think he’s earned the right to play silly-buggers. There is a big black screen at the back of the stage which we know conceals a drum-kit and bass amp, but he plays the concert using drum machines and electronic stuff for band parts anyway, with Steve Nieve playing keyboards and (largely unheard) marimba or glockenspiel (on the new material, and a couple of oldies like Green Shirt) and then brings out the Brodsky Quartet to do some numbers together. Then more one-man band. Then they go off and come back to do an encore – a track with the Brodskies, Shipbuildng with Nieve and a long Elvis and devices track that sounds more like Kraftwerk than anything else. Then off again. Then people rush on and dismantle the screens. Then they come back with the Attractions and run through another set’s worth of material very quickly indeed, fan favourites rather than hits. Then an encore for the Attractions. The whole set-plus-encores must have been over two hours, so we got our money’s worth, even if he was keen to strtetch the audience’s patience to breaking point. Although doing new material is part of the Elvis Costello thing, isn’t it? Proves he’s still alive. One new one too many for it to be considered finely-judged. Perhaps two.

Things are all a lot faster now

I lay into the Nick stuff finally. I’m doing this one in Photoshop exclusively: when I first started working for Nick, all I had was a Quadra 660 with 16MB of RAM, and most pub were similarly equipped. The only really good way I could do the books involved Illustrator and XPress and a bit of Photoshop. Things are all a lot faster now, so I can do it all in Photoshop. It’s just that this is the first one I’ve done like this.
it goes very smoothly, which is nice. Although it does appear that I’m one scan down.
I’m checking out more Internet Radio sites – I listen to one called Idiot’s Delights which has a playlist almost diverse enough to keep me happy, and also check out a few Prog Rock stations , which are actually a bit disappointing, since they tend to extend the definition of prog to generic 70s rock and 80s stadium stuff. However, one station plays Paranoid Android by Radiohead, and I realise that that’s where the title of When I Am King comes from.
Yes, I am having urges to do my own Live 365 station. How did you guess?

It’s the closest I get to closure around here, anyway.

The day begins with a track from Out of the Blue by ELO. I get more into the redesign of this site. I’ve worked out how to do shifting HTML files within the frameset (rather than having to reload the frameset each time), which will alienate all Netscape 2.x users. Or at least the one who views this site quite often. I have run out of food. Bum. I find a big band and jump radio station to accompany while I’m doing the typeface for Ken. I listen to the latest Joe Frank, Don’t Know Mind, in which Larry Block is obstreperous because he doesn’t want to seem like the anti-Kornfield, avaricious and grasping. Then he asks for more money. Because he’s decided to move to Chivas Regal. Joe threatens to stop doing the show… Odd little triva nugget: If you paste a URL into Google, you get a bunch of options, one of which is to show which pages link to that one. I tried it with this page (no links), and noticed another option: list pages similar to this one. In the top ten of similar sites to this diary page is Ego-Death and Self Control Cybernetics. I wonder if Google is trying to tell me something. (That said, the Google bot is my most avid reader, visiting several times a day). The CD player gives me the instrumental Believe Me Now from Out of the Blue, which I’ll take as a subtle hint that it’s bedtime.It’s the closest I get to closure around here, anyway.

Why not just sit there and enjoy the show?

Dreary chaos-type day: my original plan was to go off to the sorting office early and pick up Ken’s package, then jet off to Walker and do their stuff, then come back and do the typeface.
But the best-laid plans of mice and men gang aw awry, as dear Rabbie is so fond of saying.
The first thing was that I couldn’t find the card – I knew that I’d put it somewhere safe, but I had no idea where. I looked in all the places where I might have put it down, but to no avail. I tried noodling jazz guitar to see if that helped, but sadly not. Eventually I went off to Walker anyway, buying a Travelcard on the way (memo to self – the woman behind the counter asked if I’d prefer a Bus Pass, and I said no. Might actually be a good idea if Im just going to be using the busses anyway).
The final stage of the Maisie dragged on into the early afternoon. I had originally hoped to be out for late morning, but get home at 3:00. The card turns out to be blu tacked to the wall above the year planner, just inside the front door. The really obvious place I’d left it.
(You can use that in Scrabble now, you know.)
The problem with going to collect packages from Mandela Way is that it’s so far out of the way – I used to have to collect things quite a lot, and it alwys seemed to be winter there. But never Christmas. Just like Narnia.
It’s not winter today, very hot indeed. It’s a bit of a stroll from the bus stop and then a longer one back to the bus stop on the other side of the road.
I resolve to stop by at my father’s house on the way back (he’s away at the moment, and I’m checking up to make sure it’s ok) and borrow back an old camera that I found in a Stirling playground in 1977, handed in to the Police and had given to me six months later (so the System works!). Very basic, but also small enough that I can carry it around in my pocket. Hopefully it will do until I get the digital one.
I go into the Shopping Centre, and manage to prevent myself from going into the CD shop upstairs by only going into Tlön Books and buying Shikasta by Doris Lessing, Virtual Light by William Gibson and Notes From the Underground by Eric Bogosian. Phew, that was a narrow escape. I decide it’s too hot and I’m too tired and grumpy to walk to my father’s house, so I take a bus from outside the shopping centre. This goes halfway to Kennington Tube and then veers off towards Vauxhall. I get off at the next stop, but end up walking at least as far as I would have from the shopping centre.
So one of those kinds of day.
I get back just before 7:00, eat a bowl of pasta and set off for the Royal Festival Hall to see David Gilmour as part of the Meltdown festival.
It was packed. Well, duh. The stage had been stripped back and the choir stalls used for seating (I wonder whether they were cheaper or more expensive – on the one hand they are right next to the stage, on the other, you can only see the back of the performers.
The support are Sparklehorse, which I quite enjoy, anyway. Perhaps a bit narcoleptic, except for two noise-rock numbers. There is the massed sound of taxi-drivers and Floyd-fans’ girlfriends saying "I don’t think much of this", and heading off to the bar.I’ve listened to a couple of their albums and don’t remember them as being quite so sluggish, but perhaps that was the context. They seem to be as surprised that they are there as we are.
The Royal Box is occupied by an older gentleman and his family. I fantasise that it’s Syd, but surely not. It’s the kind of thing that he’d hate.
The Gilmour set starts with him doing Shine On You Crazy Diamond solo on acoustic guitar, using of reverb effects to do the synth drones. He seems quite tentative with the high notes, or indeed some of the middle ones, so I assume he hasn’t sung for a while. Dick Parry strolls on to do the sax solo and then strolls off again (not to be seen again until the sax solo on the second part of Shine on… which finishes the main set). The main surprise of the evening is when they do Comfortably Numb and a gruff voice is coming out of nowhere and we look and it’s Robert Wyatt! He has the words on a piece of paper and seems unsure of the tune or where the words go, and is probably completely terrified, but all the same. Another ambition fulfilled, even if I would prefer to see him doing a show of his own stuff.
The chap sitting next to me is constantly sniffing. I find it difficult to use this as a Pointed Stick, or address it with a properly amused attitude, since I have been so stressed out all day. All the same, though, I suppose it is amusing. As is the gentleman of some sort of Hispanic extraction who is sitting on the steps nearby, who jumps up at every opportunity, screaming and shouting and gesturing to his friends to join him. They all disappear out one of the side doors during one of the less Floyd-y numbers, presumeably to try to sneak into one of the more privileged seating areas. I wonder if they made it. It does seem like a lot of hard work. Why not just sit there and enjoy the show?
Sigh! I am getting old, aren’t I?
Question: How do some people get the idea that if they smile all the time they can do exactly what they want to? And why do they get away with it more often than not?

a sort of favourite absent-minded grandfather.

I get to the gym again, which is an incredible achievement for which I deserve a major award and the heartfelt thanks of a grateful nation.
On returning to the flat I find a card which tells me that they tried to deliver a package from Ken at Macmillan.So I’ll have to brave the wasteland of Mandela Way sorting office tomorrow.
In the afternoon to Walker’s, where I hope to finish up the Maisie. However, it takes a lot longer than expected. Not the doing, but the opening and closing of the files, so I have to come back tomorrow morning for the coup de grace. Bum. I was hoping to get on with one of the many other things.
To the Royal Festival Hall for tonight’s Meltdown gig: Max Roach, supported by Nikki Yeoh and Matthew Shipp and William Parker. I think Yeoh is a bit bland, sadly – no musical ideas, just a string of notions arranged end to end. Shipp and Parker are free-jazzers out of New York, and very impressive. Shipp covers the whole keyboard with rich bass lines and hovering top-of-the-keyboard gestures. Since the two acts are cheek-by-jowl it’s impossible not to compare him with Yeoh, whose playing was so in-the-box and flat, but Shipp (same piano, same mixer settings, no interval between them) immediately sits down and carves out sounds with far greater clarity and confidence and imagination. If you don’t mind the "free" bit. Parker plays a constant, shifting circular pattern on the double bass, incorporating brushing the strings with his hands and knocking the bass, and plucking above the nut and below the bridge into his playing. Not so much "bass playing" as a stream of There are no "numbers" per se, since the different parts of the performance run into each other. But some recognisable tunes emerge out of the sound, most notably (and startlingly) Take the "A" Train, Which appears to be dismantled and reassembled in different forms before our very eyes.
I’m afraid that I form the opinion that what’s wrong with Jazz in London is that no one wants to play anything that will put anyone off their pizza.
Max Roach was playing with a Chinese pianist (who veered between Chinese classical and jazz stylings) and a Chinese one-stringed violin player, who was obviously closer to the Chinese classical tradition, with Roach himself occupying the jazz corner. I thought it was a marvellously respectful coalition of two very different styles, not forced at all, a real curiosity, but that’s not a bad thing. When Roach appeared and walked slo-o-o-ow-ly across the stage, a wave of “Oh, dear” did tentatively cross my mind, but when he started playing I forgot his advanced age until the end, when he turned into a sort of favourite absent-minded grandfather. (Robert was in the Royal Box with Alfie, for those who want to keep track of such things).

what’s the commission on a £3.99 bike pump?

I call Woodstock to ask if I can stay with her when I go up to Edinburgh next week. I can.
On the way to meet my mother at the Tate Modern, I stop by Waterloo Station to buy my tickets up to the Athens of the North. It is surprisingly painless – no queue and I get a SuperSaver from King’s Cross at 7:00am next Thursday morning returning on Saturday starting at 9:00am. Well, that bit might be painful.Then, since Ma wants a bicycle pump for some kind of inflatable pillow (the seats are very hard at the festival she’s headed for – the Django Reinhart jazz festival in France), I go to the bike shop over the road. The Woman behind the counter is very helpful, considering.I mean, what’s the commission on a £3.99 bike pump? I arrive at the Tate and meet Ma. We lunch in the top-floor restaurant. And very nice it is too, particularly since we have a window seat with great huge views and everything.Then we have a quick look around although I have to dash off to be at home for a delivery (the Nick scans that we’ve been worried about).
A post on Metafilter makes me look into the possibility of Internet radio. I find that a lot of them are streaming MP3, for which I don’t have a suitable player, so I download iTunes from Apple’s absurdly oversecure website. i find a note that says that I can download it from my iDisk, but i can’t remember my password and the clue question doesn’t lead to the right answer.
iTunes works fabulously both as an MP3 player and for listening to radio stations. I listen to various stations – Folk, experimental, "Luscious Voices" (which means female singers, apparantly) and jazz, which I use for noodling purposes. Then I finish up the Animorphs and do some work on the Glitter Girls and go to bed.