Either is possible. Both are probable.

The latest sets of search terms from my referrer logs:

#reqs: search term
—–: ———–
5: john peacock
1: amanda holden car stuck
1: remixed hindi midi files
1: make spats
1: gif under construcktion
1: bonnington square community garden

"Make spats"?

Imagine the disappointment. Compounded now that I’ve repeated them here. More search terms as they occur.

In the evening to Shepherd’s Bush, the Bush Hall, for a Jeays gig.

 



I have blagged a lift with my Pa – a hell of a lot better than lugging my bass amp across town, I can tell you, and we overcompensate on the amount of time we need to get there and arrive very early, so I exploit the situation and check out Music and Video Exchange. Nothing. Either I’m becoming jaded in my old age, or there’s less interesting stuff out there, same as Gramex last Saturday. Either is possible. Both are probable.

Get to the Hall again at 6:00, and after a bit of a kerfuffle getting in (there are three doors and one buzzer. On ringing the buzzer, I’m told to "go to the other door", and choose the wrong one to be at), I am greeted by Robb Johnson and his sound fellow Simon. Set up the bass and guitar – the bass is going through the DI to he mixer and then back again to my amp for monitoring. The band arrive one by one – Phil, then Jezza and his drums, then Janet and we all anxiously await the arrival of Dave.

Into the back room, which is dominated by a big white curtain (apparantly the ladies’ changing area) and where I noodle on their classical guitar (part of the kids’ music room set up).

The hall is really nice – it has the air of somewhere that people would have gavotted, although perhaps it’s not that old, and has been done up recently. It has a very big acoustic, which would be superb for classical music, but does rendered amplified music a bit boomy.

Dave arrives and we soundcheck and then that’s that. More hanging about (there’s always this hanging about period betweent he soundcheck and the gig). Apparantly last night’s was really quiet, and people are a bit apprehensive about tonight. We get about twenty, which is a little too few for the hall, although the acoustic amplifies the applause wonderfully.

Barb is hosting and does some songs before the first main set (Leon Rosselson – venerable and legendary proponent of political song), then a break, then Barb again and Robb. Robb is doing more songs without the guitar, I notice (accompanied by The Lovely Russell Churney, which must be his official name now), and it does add another dimension to one’s ability to put a song across.

Then another break, then us.

Curious little things happen, like the DI box has somehow got disfunctional since the soundcheck, so during Olivier the bass is completely silent (I keep moving my fingers, though: hopefully people will assume that it’s their problem that the can’t hear anything) and quickly have to replug the bass straight into the amp while Phil and Janet are doing Voices which I still think is amazing. I think it goes quite well (it’s difficult to tell unless you are watching it), but at least a couple of us feel it’s a really wierd gig. I tell them about the Wee Fat Bob experience and the Unexpected Tabla Player. I’m used to wierdness, and it’s not entirely unwelcome sometimes.

Lift home. Very late. Very tired.

"Oy, you, use a chair!"

Ben calls with a problem with a map in the book that I set on Saturday night.

I learn from Metafilter that Spike Milligan has died. Although obviously not a great shock (a radio news report says that he had been ill "for several years" – like half a century!) it’s still very sad. I got to shake his hand once at an audience taping twenty years ago. And he was unpredictable (in a bad as well as good way) and cantankerous but the nearest thing we had to a Comedy Peer (can you imagine him in the House of Lords…. heh). Loved children and animals. Hated adults. It’s easy to see his point. He was a much-loved national institution in two nations – Britain and Ireland- and was voted Britain’s favourite poet once as well.

Ah, well. I should dig out the Ying Tong Song tonight.

Gym in the afternoon, a place designed to shatter whatever Equanimity I might have built up. Apart from the MTV and Idiot FM the (female) cleaner is in the changing room constantly. I’m not sure what my problem with the situation is, probably the assumption that the gym is set up for the benefit of the staff rather than the users. I do manage not to get too worked up, but I know that I still look annoyed. No fixing that. I have one of those faces that has a default setting of "annoyed". Some people have a default "happy" face, and they can get away with all sorts of nonsense, because people think that thay they’re happy all the time.

Supermarket, then I make a big pot of soup and noodles. Possibly a mistake as I go straight after to the Shinay meditation at Samye Dzong. A very different proposal from the courses I’ve attended, much more focused, much quieter (although it’s quite restive in the last ten minutes or so. I am, certainly, my legs screeching for relief). I arrive at about ten past, while they are still chanting. I don’t join in the chanting, because I have no idea what’s going on.

I do find staying awake difficult, so I find that I’m concentrating on my breathing and then find that I’ve been having a nice dream about something and my leg’s saying "Oy, you, use a chair!". I do feel better for it, though.

Still, rule one: don’t meditate straight after a meal.

Today is a Day of Great Tiredness

Back at Walker’s for what turns out to be the last day of my current stint, so mostly tidying up with the merest hint of Photoshop. Sue also graciously lets me appear wise on the subject of imaging software by listening to me drone on about Displacement Maps and Custom Fills and not yawning once, despite being very tired (everybody is very tired today. Today is a Day of Great Tiredness). At lunchtime I retreat under the desk with my radio and sleep for half an hour. I think someone else does the same. A bit lie that episode of Seinfeld where…

Whatever.

On returning home I settle down to some kind of chilled, end-of-term state. I find myself playing along to Strangers in the Night by UFO. I’m often surprised by my ability to remember UFO/Michael Schenker riffs, which are still good riffs – better than most heavy rock bands of the era and almost miraculous coming frm the fingers of a teenager, but all the same Ithink I might have been better off memorising Charlie Christian or Jim Hall licks when I was fifteen, seeing as how they are going to lurk in my fingers for the rest of my life. Since it was the era of punk, that would have been equally as inappropriate.

thrashing

Sitting at the Powerbook all day thrashing out Schnittke. I manage to set all the text, but am still shaky re the visuals. And my legs are very stiff after the Weekend of Radical Inactivity, so the process is quite painful as well (I still haven’t found a place to put the Powerbook so that I can use it while sitting on a chair). It doesn’t seem to want to print. Bum.

we just need to identify whether it’s the right process

Back to Samye Dzong, arriving just before 10:00, this time armed with biscuits and crisps.

The morning begins as yesterday did with the breathing meditation, but this time it’s far more successful, a much greater stillness and clarity. In fact the whole pattern of the day more or less follows that of yesterday. At the first break I pull out one of the packets of biscuits and am gratified to see people eating them (people like biscuits! what a major revelation), then there is further breathing meditation (balancing the breath), then lunch (the crisps come out here: people also seem to like crisps. I take it that I am entitled to some of a vast number of egg and cress sandwiches that have been brought) and then I go to the library for a nap. I set the alarm on my palm-thingy for five to wo, but I needn’t have worried, firstly because the library is full of people today, also because `I wake up of my own accord at ten to and go and have a cup of tea.

The afternoon is spent with external objects again: a pebble and a written Tibetan syllable. I have problems with the syllable, partly because there isn’t any sense of meaning. We are told what it is (a Tam, related to Green Tara), but there isn’t the welding of signifier and signified that there is with a word in a language one speaks. Still, perhaps this difficulty is part of the process. It’s all part of the process, I suppose, we just need to identify whether it’s the right process.

Today I speak to more people – yesterday I kept myself to myself, largely because I haven’t very much of value to add to the conversations, although it is also of value to listen, I suppose.

It was a remarkable weekend. I have a feeling I’ll get more out of it retrospectively when I’ve got some time between myself and it, much as happened with Guitar Craft. Although differently so, of course. There is a sense of "Is that it?" when you are up close. Only later do you realise that it’s a pretty big it. The thing is that any experience you have where you are present will seem to lack special effects. You need perspective to see where the special effects actually were.

I will go back as often as I can, though I’m not sure how often that is. Weekly at least I hope.

Home, with stiff legs, to try to bring the diary up to date and force myself to do more typesetting.

(apart from the buttock)

I get up and sit as usual, despite the fact that I’m going to spend the whole day doing just that, and potter about the house, bathe and then realise that I have to rush to get to Samye Dzong, buying a lof of nice bread, a pot of humous and a packet of cheese on the way. And then I forget to log in when I arrive.

The first exercise is a basic shinay breathing meditation. My left buttock almost immediately makes its presence known. There is presumably some reason for my left buttock to resent sitting on the floor (more than my right, anyway), or at least sitting on cushions on a carpet on the floor, but I’m hard pressed to figure out what it might be.

But Lama Zangmo does allow leg stretches and tea breaks, and these are very welcome. One curious thing (apart from the buttock) is that no matter how awake I might be during the tea breaks as soon as I sit down I begin to nod off, and my eyelids twitch. In the second half of the morning we work on balancing the breath.

When lunch comes, I take my loaf of bread and my pot of humous and my packet of cheese and eat some of it. But rather than look for a knife I tear pieces off the loaf and dip it in the humous. Having eaten my fill I leave the food where others can take some if they want and am mortified to find that no one wants any bread that looks as though an animal has been at it , or danish blue cheese that I must admit was a check-out misktake. But I was in a hurry. Then I go to the library and sleep in one of the chairs.

Not hearing the bell I oversleep and have to slip into the class after it has started (feeling suitably naughty). I lurk at the back until I have an opportunity to take the same place I had this morning (curious that – everybody sits in the same places. I suppose we must need the stability. When I did the six week course I deliberately sat in a different place each week).

Now we are each given a pebble as an external object to meditate on. There are fleeting moments of only the pebble and I being real, but I have to admit the effect is worryingly close to Eraserhead – this moon hanging there in my consciousness.

Throughout the day the sessions get longer and longer. I am trying to let the aching in my legs just be there but am not finding it as easy as that.

After the day is finished I walk to Gramex to see if it’s there. It is, but with a sadly depleted stock, largely Naxos and other mid price stuff, and mostly soggy 19th Century stuff too. it being Saturday afternoon, the shop is full of men just hanging out and chatting about stuff. A very effete locker room experience. After a long contemplation I buy:

  • Magister Leoninus – Red Byrd
  • Piano Trio/Quintet – Schnittke
  • Guitar Music of Argentina
  • Works for Violin and Guitar – Paganini, De Falla, Piazolla
  • Sinfonietta – Janacek

I realise I already have the Janacek, but thise version is an old Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra version, who are apparently big on the Farty Horns needed for a really good Sinfonietta. I return home and confirm this: major farty horns.

(They also had some Brassens on vinyl, but it was unpriced and I felt too intimidated to ask. Sad, eh?)

The evening is spent typesetting a novel for Walker. Don’t enjoy it as much as some of the others for reasons I won’t go into here (although having to do it on a Satruday night might have something to do with it).

furious sitting

Today work keeps me occupied until 8:00, trying to get something ready for putting on to disk on Monday (in my absence). I’m not sure whether it is ready, but I did my best, and I’m sure whoever is responsible for doing the disking will do theirs and we can pick up the pieces on Tuesday. And Ben gives me something else to do this weekend, on top of the several things I already have along with the long stint of furious sitting still I have planned for the weekend. Oh well.

Return home. Dribble. Go to bed.

I stagger home under the weight of my massive instrument.

Work, slip away a bit earlier than usual so that I might go…

Up to the VAC to play bass for `Yuka, arriving at 7:15 (that is to say not as early as I’d hoped). I unpack the bass and am absentmindedly plucking it when I notice an appalling rattle, and looking down I see that the strut under the bridge has come misplaced and there is a crack next to where the foot of the bridge is. I carry the bass to the other end of the room and slacken the strings, remove the bridge and try to retrieve the dowel. With the assistance of Yuka, Alastair, SAC and others I manage to get it back into position (directly under the foot of the bridge). Then we soundcheck.

Yuka isn’t best pleased at the non-existence of a guest-list (but then if they had a guest-list, no one would ever pay, so…)

We kick off at just after 8:30. Halfway through the second song (Borning) there is the sudden arrival of Mr Tears with his Djembe, his Trombone and his Shakuhachi (something of a surprise for David, who doesn’t have a mic for him). And then halfway through Chocolate Desire there’s a spot for Human Beatbox, which is filled by a friend of Yuka’s and is another surprise for David.

Shifting the bridge has slightly changed the intonation, which provides an interesting challenge for me – when I put my fingers where C# is supposed to be and get not-quite-C# I have to work out where to put my fingers. This process continues through all the notes, each of which has subtly moved. Still, as David points out later, double bass is a very forgiving instrument intonation-wise in exactly the way that the violin isn’t.

The next set is a very fine soulful set from Akayzia and then Mr Artingstall headlining, and playing only one "old’ (i.e. from-the-album) song and then another one by popular demand. And then I stagger home under the weight of my massive instrument.

several different kinds of Scandinavian harp

This diary is now a year old.

I had been intending to go to the shinay meditation at Samye Dzong, but Ben needing cheering up I went to the pictures with him, instead. We walked up to Leicester Square and ate at the Wagamama that has (recently?) opened there.

As widely advertised,. at just after 8:00 pm it was 20: 20.02 2002. But I was to busy enjoying the digestion of my Pure Wagamama meal to notice, sadly. .

Then Monsters Inc. This is as magnificent as we have come to expect from Pixar. What’s charming about Pixar’s movies are that they are both dispatches from the cutting edge of digital animation (This year Hair is In) but beautifully imagined, written and created works in their own right, which is why Toy Story, although no longer cutting edge is still as powerful as it ever was. And they are deeply sentimental, but in the case of Monsters Inc I only realised this after the film was over. In a lot of ways it functions as a love story, much as the novel Dog, that I typeset for Walker a few months ago. In that case it was the relationship between a dog and a small girl, here it’s a toddler and a monster. And there’s all that Pixar stuff about responsibility and (possibly) masculinity. And maybe, just maybe, it’s a parable about the Banality of Evil.

We notice (again- there’s a sort of fishbowl memory thing going on when one visits a place only occasionally as we do with the Leicester Square Odeon) that there is a sculpture either side of the screen – on the left-hand side, there are four nymphs, on the right-hand side, threee nymphs and… well, a male nymph. What a party he must be going to.

We also get an opportunity to see the (widely derided) teen-flick trailer for Attack of the Clones. It features one of the most irritating, self-indulgent, pouty, vile teenagers I have ever seen outside of a Porky’s film. In the lead. I’m sure the film has more to it than that, or at least I bloody hope so, but if this is the way they’re selling it, it’s dead in the water. Oh, well, I’ll wait for the DVD.

Afterwards I walk home, listening to Late Junction on my pocket radio (featuring today – several different kinds of Scandinavian harp).

70s technology at its 70s-est

I’m getting back into the technique of playing vinyl again. It was a bit of a shock at first remembering that I had to get up and turn them over half way through. And that that half-way point comes twenty minutes after you sit down. And that playing any track that’s not actually at the beginning of a side is a matter of aiming at the general direction and hoping for the best (although I’m using a linear tracking deck which makes that very difficult and if you have to ask what one of those is you probably shouldn’t bother. Suffice it to say it’s 70s technology at its 70s-est). Remote control? Hollow laugh.

Then again, when I was at college I knew someone who wanted to build a record deck that relied on its own (mammoth) weight to turn the turntable using some fiendish pulleys system (like the weights-on-chains mechanism on a cuckoo clock only much much larger). The downside of this would be that it would take a lot of physical effort and quite a lot of time to crank the mechanism into place. The upside of that would be that one’s listening habits would improve immeasurably: One would only play records one really really wanted to listen to. And after all that effort, you’d have to appreciate it. The lecturers didn’t agree with him, which is a shame, because I think it’s a genuinely visionary idea. But product designers (I think he was studying product design) are trained to make things easier for people, without considering the possibility that it might be more valuable for something to be more difficult.

But then I actually don’t know what I’m talking about.

Tonight’s classics of musical theatre are A Little Night Music and Company. The Original Cast recording of Company is one of my old favourites, but I’ve hardly listened to A Little Night Music, again one of those things (like Into The Woods a couple of days ago) that I thought I knew but in fact didn’t. I do recognise it, but with more of a sense of spooky deja vu than actual familiarity. I think the thing I had against the OCR when I was a kid was how much it didn’t resemble the versions of some of the songs on Side By Side By Sondheim, which I used to listen to an awful lot in the mid-70s, before I was able to get away with playing my father’s records. It is intensely lovely, though. How I can have waited such a long time to make its acquaintance I don’t know. One thing about it is that it is all done in pastiche (all waltzes – I love waltzes – Strauss mostly). And Send in the Clowns makes so much sense when it’s in its proper place (just before the servant Petra’s song The Miller’s Son). All those people who sang it twenty-five years ago and didn’t get the point of the song. Ah, well, I’m sure it made Mr S an awful lot of money.

And of course it’s another show that I completely missed a recent revival of. At the National. If I can’t be bothered to walk a mile up the road to see a show, there’s no hope for me.