large German women in cast-iron bras

Today I shift from Maisosity to artworking for Eddie and the Bear. After the slow grind of the Maisie pages, the E&B pages, smaller at a slightly lower dpi, seem to zip along, and I manage to do most of the book in one afternoon. Which will come as a relief to Ciara, who had been expecting it to take all next week and some of the next. There’s still one tricky spread, though, so perhaps it may grind on yet. In fact it almost certainly will – most jobs look at first to be one-act comic operas and then unexpectedly transform themselves into Ring Cycles when you’re not watching. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for large German women in cast-iron bras.

Spend the evening jotting down various ideas. No idea what they might be ideas for, but it’s best to keep on top of them. I didn’t get where I am today by throwing potentially useful things away, although where I am today is, admittedly, completely surrounded by junk.

I look at the junk, plotting its immediate reorganisation, dispersal or disposal. I also intend to find cures for AIDS and cancer, invent the time machine, Unify the Fields and bring and end to the wars between the Protestants and the Catholics, the Israeli and the Palestinians and the cats and the dogs. And then I can turn to the signifantly less likely outcome of tidying up.

I listen to the copy of Karma Part One by Joe Frank that I downloaded, and realise that it concerns his tempestuous relationship with a younger actress from Wales called Kate. Hmm. a young Welsh actress called Kate on the ascendant in LA in the mid-90s with a thing about older men…. ring any bells?

crank up the nervousness-index

Tired after last night’s excursion.

Go to Walker’s to carry on Maisieing.

One thing I have realised, to make my day calmer, is that my old Walkman has a radio in it, so I can listen to Radio 3 as I work. This morning, on CD Masters, the chap was playing a Palestrina 8-part motet, and I called up my sister (who knows about these things) to ask a couple of very basic questions about motets (the most basic of which is "Are they all singing something different from everybody else?"), which is interesting. She says she’ll get me some Grove information on the form.

It being Ciara’s birthday, cake crisps and divers goodies are produced. There is a jar of Chili Cheese Flavoured Dip, which I eat despite the fact that it’s almost certainly not food. I find it worrying that there is someone whose job it is to think up things like Chili Cheese Flavoured Dip, more worrying that it’s doubtless the end result of a long process of development which must have involved identifying that a fairly large group of people really felt (once they had been alerted to the fact) that their lives lacked Chili Cheese Flavoured Dip and positively nerve-wracking that the person who put together the recipe for Chili Cheese Flavoured Dip is allowed (with no irony involved whatsoever) to call themselves a Nutritionist. Of course, these worries make no real impact on the background levels of Terror that mark Modern Life, but crank up the nervousness-index all the same.

Then home to carry on doing nothing – the whole sitting-in-an-office-all-day thing just knocks me out (the combined readership says as one, "No shit, Sherlock. Who would have thought working for a living was tiring? Shaddap, yer whining so-and-so"), but all the same…

I call Imogen to arrange a guitar lesson (for her, not me – I’m too arrogant and self-absorbed to want a guitar lesson, but suitably arrogant and overbearing to want to give one) for next Monday evening.

Another trawl through LimeWire provides me with several gems, including tracks by Paolo Conte, Leon Redbone (such as his version of Frosty the Snowman – I feel a Christmas compilation coming on), a couple of Goon songs and some Henry Cow, National Health and Hatfield and the North. I can’t imagine how I presumed to have a progressive rock collection without any of these things in it (I do have one Henry Cow album, the Henry Cow/Slapp Happy album In Praise Of Learning but it’s not as good as their Unrest album, as far as I can tell, and certainly not a patch on the other HC/SH collaboration, the wonderful Desperate Straights).Indeed one of the National Health tracks appears to have a short speech from Peter Blegvad (on Numinousness, a pet subject of his) in the middle of it.

like a rejected idea for a Pink Floyd cover

A significantly less confused start to the day than yesterday, but I still get in late. Pfft!

Of course the fact that I’m working in-house means that I have a lot less daytime detail to share. The very nice lunch catches up with me and tries to get me to fall asleep at 3:30, so I have to go outside for a breath of fresh air (on the newly refurbished balcony – very nice).

I borrow Ben’s headphones and his copy of Thrak to listen to as I work. I’m surprised by how old it is (1994) and finally twig that the positions of the names of the musicians on the inlay relate to their positions in the mix. Which is quite groovy. The whole Double Trio thing was actually quite a deep concept, perhaps too deep for Rock and Roll, but with application, headphones and that map, it’s possible to see how it worked. Cool! I’m actually rather looking forward to hearing the new Level Five stuff, orderable from DGM as soon as the American Tour finishes (December 14th).

Then off to Tower Bridge. Someone who actually lives there suggested overland from Vauxhall to London Bridge via Waterloo, which i wouldn’t have thought of, and is surprisingly painless even in post-rush-but-still-quite-hectic hour. The main problem is walking on the concourse of Waterloo Station through the besuited figures standing in rows staring up at the departure board, like a rejected idea for a Pink Floyd cover. Then from London Bridge I pootle down Tooley Street. I get there for 7:00ish and then spend a couple of hours watching the soundcheck and mooching around. I meet up with Terry and Denise upstairs for a general converse about things.

After the gig, Phil H gives me a lift home (he’s on his way to Streatham to see off a returnee to New York) and I get in and go to bed – almost midnight by the time I apply head to pillow.

they outranked him

An electrician sent by the landlord wants to come into the flat to fit a smoke alarm just as I am about to get dressed and leave the house. He is not pleased. Did he imagine that all the flats would be full of happy smiling people ready to welcome him into their homes with no prior warning at 9:20 in the morning? Perhaps so,

Because I have a couple of quite disparate places to go to, I blag a lift (because he’s out and about at that time in the morning) from my Pa, going to collect a parcel that they couldn’t post through the letterbox while I was at the gym yesterday (they could, I’m sure have folded it in half to get it through the letterbox, but they only do that if it’s marked "Do Not Bend" or, at a pinch, "Fragile"). I was assuming that it was the Britten Programme, but it was, in fact, something from Walker. Where I’m going to. So all in all a constructive trip. Then to Walworth Road, and I pop into the building society.

Someone manages to call just as I am about to approach the counter, as Sara called just as I was about to leave the flat this morning.

I discover, on leaving the Building Society, that whil my Pa was turning into a sidestreet, a cyclist, nipping up on the inside of a bus that had stopped to let Pa through, bounced of his bonnet, denting the front of his car and buckling the bicycle front wheel. There are several people hanging around offering different opinions. At least one belligerent fellow seems to be of the opinion that it was my Pa’s fault purely because the cyclist came off worse – a kind of egalitarian approach where the suffering should be distributed equally. But I can’t see how that can be – the angle and the nature of the dent shows the speed that the cyclist must have been going as well as the angle at which he hit the car, and there’s no way in which Pa could have (a) seen him coming or (b) done anything about it.

I’m sort of biased, tired of cyclists zipping through public pedestranised spaces or crowded pavements with no concern for pedestrians, and assuming that people will just get out of their way. I am (guiltily) glad to see one of them get a sort of comeuppance (the cyclist isn’t hurt, by the way apart from a slight limp, a dent in his pride and a warped front wheel), although it’s a shame that it had to be here and now.

So much for saving time. The police turn up and ask questions, the cyclist limps away. My Pa stopped at the first available place, which happens to be a yellow line. I can see a traffic warden sidling around the edges of the scene, obviously seething with suppressed resentment because the police were lending a sort of tacet support to my father’s presence in a restricted area and they outranked him.

I do get to Walker’s eventually.

At lunchtime, I read an article in the Observer Magazine about the siege of Leningrad and the part that Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony played in lifting the spirits of the population. I had forgotten (or perhaps not properly learned) how appalling the siege was (even unto cannibalism and auto-cannibalism). When I went with the school to the Soviet Union in 1982 (the Falklands War was beginning to rage at the same time), the thing that struck me, especially in Leningrad, was how the propaganda was designed to promote peace, and when I returned home to Britain how British and American propaganda revelled in war. While we were in Leningrad, one of the teachers blagged a visit to a local school (totally unofficial and non-Intourist). A sizable part of the ground floor of the school was given over to an exhibit telling the story of the siege and they were very keen for us to visit the Piskariovskoye Memorial Cemetery.I have to say that I began to form the opinion that we had much less to worry about from people who kept the tragedy of something like the siege and its very tangible, physical reality at the front of their minds than we did from our own governments. Oh, well, it was my opinion and I was entitled to it, I suppose.

No desperate gentleman on the way home today, so that’s all right.

Evening not used to its best advantage. A return to the popular post-office (as opposed to Post Office) pursuit of Just Sitting There Staring (Drooling Optional).

The array of props alone was astounding

Off early to the gym again, hurrah, and then to Walker’s again for excessive Maisie-ing, also hurrah.
Mr Sherwood of the VAC calls to say that since Davide Sanna (who was supposed to do the Tinderbox tonight) has unfortunately been required to remain in Sardinia, would I like to replace him. I would be delighted to do so. Also a call from Debbie at Up All Night ensuring that I will be there on Wednesday. For sure. Sound check at 7:00 (!) for appearance at 9:25, so I probably ought to take a book with me. And I call Dave to arrange a rehearsal next Tuesday, which will be interesting. Quite a productive morning, all told.. And there’s the work as well, of course.
On the way home I am accosted by a distraught fellow who regales me with the most extraordinary litany of woes I think I’ve ever heard in real life. After a few minutes I give him such money (£5..00) as I have in my pocket, because if what he’s saying is true, then he needs it, if not, then the story (and the performance that goes with it) was worth at least that much. The array of props alone was astounding – tickets, address books, scars, yachting magazines. If he was for real, I do hope he found his way home. As I explained to someone later on in the evening, performances are not measured in duration, but rather in intensity.
I hope that doesn’t seem callous. I think If I’d been callous (more than any SE1 resident normally is) I would simply have ignored him. It’s just that one should always take into account the possiblilty that these things might be scams, and if they are, whether they are worth the money. This one definitely was.
Then immediately out to the Tinderbox.
Get home at 10:30, malinger, Late Junction, bed.

jiggery-pokery may be necessary

Can’t remember. Not much, that’s for sure. But wait! I do manage to make hi- and lo-res mp3s of Plucked and The Secret Agent’s Dream for the Music page, and upload them and put in all the links. Which does take a long time, but isn’t really enthralling stuff. Ah, well. Now I’m all Multimediad up. I’ll see if I can get bits of the Ross Bandstand videos up there at some point, although Peter Michael Rowan told me that on the VHS video they give you, the picture is straight off the board, whereas the sound has been bounced off a remote station somewhere and is thus noticeably out of sync. So some sort of jiggery-pokery may be necessary, but then it nearly always is.

Coherence? Ha Ha! It is that which is the the thing at which I laugh! At.

Not a day of Herculean achievement, but then I suspect you would not expect that.

I record some more demo versions of songs on the minidisk, but in my excitement at discovering that I can cut out all the silences between takes merely succeed in removing the few passable versions of songs that I manage to do and leaving the silences intact. I also have a mildly sore throat, but I suspect that this is my body playing silly-buggers with me. Well, obviously. What I mean is that there might be an element of psychosomaticity involved.

I may have made that word up. A new word, and it’s all mine. I’m very proud.

A Miguel Cardoso Blog, written in Portugese, and so best viewed via Babelfish. Mr Cardoso is a prolific Metafilter poster who has been advised to get his own page, a challenge that he has taken up. At the risk of appearing a complete mindless, monoglot bigot (which would be absurd, because I’ve never achieved completeness at anything, but the mindlessness, monogloticity and bigotry are spot on), I do enjoy the absurdist poetry that Babelfish comes up with, almost as much, I’m sure, as I would enjoy the page were I able to understand it in the original. Why does Portugese cause such problems, linguistically speaking? Let us not forget that Portugal is where English as She is Spoke originated from (although Mr Cardoso’s English is flawless).

Things that remain undone: Actual useable demos; tidying; tax; world peace. Thing done (unexpectedly): half an entry for a W.H. Smith novel-writing competition (as suggested to me by Charlotte at last Wednesday’s VAC). The done half is the 750 word first chapter, I have yet to do the 500 word preçis of the rest of the novel, largely because there is no rest of the novel, as such.

It’s actually quite fun to do, working to a fixed word-count. If I want to add anything, I have to decide where I’m going to cut from to make space the word count zips up to 850, back down to 680 and then hovers around the 750 mark for a while. In that sense, it’s a bit like programming – calculating how to do what you want in the minimum amount of code. There came a sticky moment when I began to wonder whether it was any good. Of course it isn’t. I shouldn’t, under these circumstances, worry about whether it’s original (no), enjoyable (the jokes were the first things to go) or coherent (Coherence? Ha Ha! It is that which is the the thing at which I laugh! At).That would be missing the point, or at least my point. Also, I suspect that the fact that I effectively jammed the 750 words would make writing a passable plot based on it nearly impossible. Still, that too ought not dissuade me from trying.

It ought not. But it will.

better than working in Tesco’s but not without its longeurs

Gym, supermarket, collect keyboard (hurrah!).

Apple keyboards are very beautiful, but for that kind of money ought to be beverage-proof, or certainly indestructible. No, wait, doesn’t indestructible imply beverage-proof? An egg is beverage-proof, but not indestructible. Was Captain Scarlet beverage-proof? Did we ever see any of the characters drinking coffee, even the Angels, whose lifestyle seemed to consist of sitting around reading magazines and occasionally leaping into a supersonic fighter jet and shooting down malefactors, which is probably better than working in Tesco’s but not without its longeurs?

And don’t get me started on the lonely life of John Tracy.

Problem with the Britten (bugger bugger bugger) which isn’t my fault, but certainly embarrassing, since it involves some of the dates being wrong and that’s the point of a programme. The season has been running for a couple of days now, so I imagine a fair amount of tutting has occurred. Bugger.

I spend several hours getting this journal up to date after a week of keyboardlessness.

with clicks alone

St Cecilia’s Day.

Wander around in a haze – general bodily abuse has mounted up over the week. I honestly intend to go to Devizes to see Sara perform, but don’t make it off the sofa. I probably needed the rest. Long chat to Phil about his acquisition of a computer. Tomorrow I will get a keyboard. Today I stare into space and do whatever I can with clicks alone.

I finally test out the Minidisk as a demoing device. All the performances that I record are full of unnecessary mistakes, but the principle seems sound. I have to get a demo of the newer stuff to Dave H soon, so I ought to do it in the next couple of days.

a whole world,

Back to Macmillan, more of the same, but this time with added fatigue, and the tropically-inclined central heating (on Monday a welcome change from the Arctic conditions at home), resulted in my developing a headache. But I got the work done. Because I’m a hero.

I walk up to the VAC from Macmillan to say hi to Stephen and David. I’m suprised by how quick it is – it looks a lot further in the Philip’s / Ordnance Survey map I’m using. This will be of some relevance later on. It’s also a bit of tedious pedantry in itself.

Have a nice long chat to S & D and the nice woman at the bar downstairs, whose name I never catch but who is trying to acquire a knowledge of Flash as well, but by the legitimate route (that is to say getting someone to teach her rather than just stabbing around at it). The Sphere of Chaos (things braking down / not working / working strangely) appears to be affecting her too – certainly her litany of glitchfulness beats mine into a corner.

I am on first (as I asked), and play Little Games and Waltz Without Touching. Not sure how that last one went, really. It seemed to be going well while I was playing it, and I do like it, but perhaps it’s just a bit dull. An album track. Shudder.

Stick around for a few more acts and then sneak off to see Will off.

I’ve been told that the best way to get there is to take a 73 to the New North Road and then walk from there, but when I check in the book after the bus has gone what I think is that distance, I’ve travelled twice as far I thought I would. That is to say, distances in the Philip’s book look twice as far as those in the A-Z. So it’s all the map’s fault. Yeah!

Anyway, I’m on the Ball’s Pond Road, subject of a million Barry Cryer gags, but a place that one would want neither to visit not (God forbid) live. I have to walk all the way back again (the only considerable distance travelled all day, and the only unnecessary one and I have to do it on foot. There is a Divine Being and he doesn’t like me very much).

Will and folks have met up in the Babushka on the New North Road. There used to be a branch of Babushka near me (chain of bars, named after the Russian word for “Grandmother”, with a vaguely Soviet-retro feel to them. I think they specialise in Vodka, but am not that sure. Or indeed, as a teetotaller, very interested), but the incredibly low lighting always gave the impression that they were closed. They are not such a branch any more (although M-Bibe, the new styling, is no better lit). This one might go the same way, since Will’s extensive social circle are the primary occupants.

There is a mirror in the loo with the motto “If not you, then who? If not now, then when?” printed on it. Strategically placed near the condom machine.

Over the next couple of hours I chat about various things (Yugoslavian music; the Elephant and Castle; the magnificence of the incipient Jeays album; the fact that to the English-speaking world, untranslated writers from the rest of the world might as well not exist, though I’m one to speak since I only speak English and a smattering of BASIC, and twenty-year-old computers are not really vibrant conversationalists), and then Phil gives me a lift on his way home. Which is nice of him.

Strange to think that Will’s going off around the world with no intention of ever coming back (he plans to wind up in Italy). Still, the Internet is a great bringer-together of people, so that they can share love, friendship, information, viruses and that petition about the plight of women under the Taliban.

Soon Kalihari Bush Men will be being asked to pass on that petition. And they’ll send it to the Baka pygmies. And we will be a whole world, united in idiocy.