or thought it through far too carefully

Further struggle with the intricacies of PHP. Which stands for PHP Hypertext Preprocessor. Someone has either not thought that through or thought it through far too carefully.

I manage to get to the gym relatively early and in a fairly good mood, which even MTV Dance fails to kill, although it does receive a bit of a bruising.

In the afternoon there’s a rehearsal of the Jazz Jam house band, which it appears I am now the bass player for, and we run through a bunch of things, including a very funked up version of Caravan which goes on for hours (almost literally). So if no one turns up, we can play that all night.

Then we sit outside and have a drink (well, a squash in my case) and then I return home to get my arrays passing properly.

I am struck with an appalling burst of insomnia, probably related to the bizarre post-gym euphoria I’ve been… suffering didn’t seem to be the right word at the time,but at 3:00am I’m not so sure. Coincidentally, this is the same time that I decide that I’m unlikely to be at the Samye Dzong at 9:30 for the Longform Sitting Around Thinking Happy Thoughts that they are offering.

a general truth re my relations with other people

The day is spent replacing a Witch in one of Nick’s books with the more-acceptable-to-the-midwest but not quite as magical Dancing Bear. Impressively, the dancing bear is the same shape as the witch.

Into Walker for the after-work drink for Ciara, who is returning to Canada. This is our loss and Canada’s gain – Ciara is one of those people with whom it is always a pleasure to converse. For me, I’m sure the conversation is as much of a drag for her as it is for anyone else who has to talk to me. After that I wander along to the Samye Dzong for Shinay – I keep falling asleep, which is a problem.

Then back to the coding. I’m slowly working out all those things that anyone with any sense would have sat down and made a list of first of all (variables, useful global arrays, that sort of thing). I have to learn programming languages the same way I learn any other language, which in my case amounts to waving my arms and shouting gibberish at people and them looking at me as though I were mad (this is actually a general truth re my relations with other people. And computers.)

That which does not kill us, usw.

Once more the day is spent staring pointlessly at the code, hoping that a really obvious missing comma or something will leap out at me, and by putting it in, the whole mechanism will work. Actually I have worked out that clicking a button on the diary page resets it all and I need to find a way to keep it stuck.

I spend an hour or so preparing my fingers to play for Joan C tonight and also test out the noodling-over-a-drone thing that I saw David Gilmour do at Meltdown last year. I have ascertained that River Rise is the only song in my current repertoire that will work over a drone and am tempted to try it.

Then up to Camden Town (which I identify as “Peckham that thinks it’s Chelsea”) and the sound-check. The gig is in the cellar of one of those bars. We quickly ascertain that all the gear does actually make sounds and have to pack up so that dinner can be served to … oh, to some people or other. Joan, David and Matt repair to a nearby Thai restaurant, whereas I don’t want to eat at all (it only makes me sleepy) so I buy a bottle of mineral water and set off for Regent’s Park. I pass a comic book shop and wander in. “You have one minute,” says the shop assistant with all the charm and guile that comic-book shop assistants are renowned for, so I immediately fire back “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume Two, Number One. It’s in the window.” He doesn’t seem to be impressed that I took considerably less than a minute.

So I repair to the park, with people playing softball and frisbee in the distance. They are doing this very badly – when you see Californians doing it on the television, they throw the frisbee so that the other can catch it, and it seems genial and relaxing. In England, someone throws the disk, it veers twenty feet up into the air, comes down and rolls, and they have to go running after it. It is nice to see that I’m not the only person who’s very rubbish at that sort of thing, though.

Mr Moore is obviously having fun with his series – this story starts with Gullivar Jones and John Carter on Mars, fighting alongside the Sorns from C.S. Lewis’ stories against the “molluscs” who fire themselves towards Earth from giant cannon. Essentially it’s set in fantasy fiction – there are references to Alan Garner and Michael Moorcock – although concentrated at the end of the 19th Century, and in the notes at the end we discover the sad story of Miss A.L. of Oxford who fell through a hole into another world (and later entered the same world via a mirror, returning with all her internal organs mixed around, and fading away). A party that enter the world the same way, comprising local tradesmen, come to a similar end…

After I’ve finished my bottle of water and my comic I take a stroll around the zoo and back to the venue where it’s already underway.

I’ve put my name down for a slot, although it takes a while to get to me – the chap in charge comes over to tell me when I’ll be on, but when that time rolls around has changed his mind. Eventually my turn waves from over the parapet. I play Mr Wrong (not so well sadly) and the with-endless-drone version of River Rise, which at least gets some attention (perhaps it was the entirely superfluous Chris Rea reference). It goes sort of OK, but I find it very difficult to “feel” where I am on the light-stringed Godin. Still it’s all interesting. That which does not kill us, usw.

Then there’s a break. We’re supposed to be on immediately after the break, but there’s been another rearrangement – firstly another spot, then a set by Katy Carr. During the spot I’m nervous, since I’ve left my guitar set up on the stand (thinking that I’d be right back after the break), but the chappy keeps walking past it on the way to fiddle with the sound and I’m afraid that it will get knocked over. Ms Carr alleviates some of my nerves – she’s playing with a drummer and double bass player. A very fine sound, somewhat reminscent of Kate Bush, but also the English folk tradition from which Ms Bush sprang. Ms Carr manages to overcome the, uh, lively ambience of the venue and the less-than-forgiving PA. I would very much like to see her play in a more congenial space.

A shorter set than the Donmar thing, but in some ways a lot more fun, perhaps because it was just a gig – the main criterion for the performance was that we should rock out and so we do, starting with the traditional One More Button, and then going straight into Summer Season, which means that I get to do my Gilmour solo early. The guitar seems very loud, but it’s not my responsibility, so I can live with it. Mother‘s clangy 12-string patch has a very satisfying noise to it particularly in the bridge. The best time we’ve done that bridge, I think. Anyway, I enjoyed it.

I exchange info with Ms Carr, and also give her some money for a CD which she promises I will receive post-haste.

I go half-way upstairs to pick up a long and complicated message from Glyn re the Jazz Jam (rehearsal this Sat?) and the sextet and something else and the bouncers are insisting that I go all the way up the stairs and into the street in order to listen to it. Power corrupts, absolute power blah blah blah.

The final act of the evening features the same bassist and percussionist, but ‘m so tired that I just go home (Matt has to hang around, since they’re using his kit…).

So, tube, horizontality, unconsciousness.

not wholly hinged

More font, more tweaking of site (though with less success) – I am trying to do automatic date formatting and it’s introducing a new level of insanity onto my already not wholly hinged life.

To the gym, haunted by the sight of myself on that video about to give birth to twins. I assure you that that vision will stop me wearing the big blue shirt, or indeed eating bars of chocolate that a family of four could quite literally live on for a month (assuming they had no other accommodation). I hope that picking up some fairly heavy objects will alleviate the problem, or at least being forced to watch MTV will rot my brain to the point where I don’t care any more.

I toddle off to shinay, where I sit and listen to the mindless jabbering that my mind fills itself with, whether I want it to or not. It’s like a celebrity interview in there.

Back to programming. I am convinced that at a fundamental level I am doing it wrong. However, in lieu of the right way presenting itself I continue to do it wrong. All roads lead to Rome, or at least one will eventually stumble upon Italians wearing bedsheets.

I look at sessions (there are a whole bunch of random things on the front page, which I hope to settle down by using sessions – I want to avoid using cookies if I can) with even less understanding than I had of the date thing.

And on lead guitar we have Blobbo the Sad Faced Clown!

The "work" part of the day is spent wrestling with a font. The font appears to be winning (two falls and a submission). Ciara calls with news of a minor Walker crisis – just a repro problem, although that is still a problem, and it sets me somewhat on edge.

I spend a couple of hours checking that I can still play the guitar, and then set off for the Joan Coffey rehearsal, This is in a different rehearsal room, less smelly but less gratifying – first it’s tunnel- or nissen-hut-shaped, second, while it has a set of monitor speakers, these appear not to do anything. Also there are a number of very loud (very loud) and very bad (ditto the italics) bands practising in the other rooms.

Joan has video shot of us at the Donmar gig. The big blue short-sleeved shirt that I was wearing looks like a maternity dress, and makes me look like I shan’t be needing the ante-natal advice for much longer. And on lead guitar we have Blobbo the Sad Faced Clown! Ugh. it provokes in me a deep self-consciousness and redoubling of Bridget Jones-osity (a quality which is unsightly in a woman in her late twenties and positively loathsome in a man in his late 30s).

The hole in road remains, now devoid of water, but the pipes and so forth lie exposed. It looks like they’re doing an autopsy on the road – "Just as I suspected, sergeant! This road was murdered!" Contrary to what one might have come to expect from Frenchmen, below the pavement is not the beach, but rather mud. You don’t have to go very deep to reach the mud, though. A reminder that a city is a very thin veneer of what we hope is civilisation, spread onto farmland.

out of the other end appears… an egg

Still worrying away at the PHP. I have no idea why it insists on requiring all calls to the MySQL to be converted to an array, but I’m willing to humour it in order to get results. It does get results. It’s like an educational toy – you connect all these pipes and tubes together, put a water down that tube and it comes out over here, pour sand into this pipe and out of the other end appears… an egg.

The washing machine has been playing up recently, needing to be ratcheted on by hand when it gets to the spin cycle. An ancient washing machine, a trifle forgetful and deeply resentful of newer technology like the computer (I think all old technology is jealous of modern technology, like a two-year-old with a new baby brother. people seem to be having terrible problems with photocopiers recently, which I am convinced is mainly tantrum at not being the grooviest machine in the room. The effect is especially pronounced around Macs). The fact that I manage to get a bit of (simple) code to (finally) work and the washing machine goes into its spin at the same moment is either (a) synchronicity or (b) proof that all technology is conspiring to make us look like fools. You decide.

the anything that I don’t punch is the screen

Today’s challenge is to apply what I’ve learned by writing johnpeacock.com to this site. This is less successful, partly because I can’t think of a way of bulk-dumping all the diary data into the database, partly because I’m trying to do something quite simple (the menu) in an incredibly complicated way without learning how to use functions and classes and partly because I’ve had too much coffee and the slightest little thing is making me angry.

Luckily I don’t punch anything and very luckily the anything that I don’t punch is the screen.

In the evening I go over to Denise and Terry’s and sit in the garden with a group of people eating very nice tortillas and trying to converse in English rather than my pre-school PHP. I’m very tired after the late night last night and all the staring at the screen, and by the time I am standing on Brockley platform (congratulations, Brockley station on the new indicator boards that give approaching train information, rather than the old implacable clock that merely said what the time was supposed to be, leaving the train late early or possibly non-existent but certainly not at the platform at the right time), my eyes are almost glued together.

So home, and Into Unconsciousness.

Technology willing

Spend the whole day continuing to write the site for johnpeacock.com in MySQL/PHP. You can find the results if you click on that link. The idea is that all the music stuff will go there (including more uploads and – Technology willing – video). It takes all day. By mid-afternoon I’m buzzing slightly as my brain reconfigures itself to absorb the new information (note – this may not be what is actually happening, but it’s what it feels like). Towards the end of the night (and I go to bed at 1:00) I listen to It’s Amazing What Some People Can Believe and Pause, judging them for suitability for inclusion. They will need completely remixing (after recording onto the computer), but I think I’ll go for it. At some point.

Anyway, the site works, and I realise that I’m trying to think in PHP (of such a basic standard that it’s the equivalent of Kindergarten French, which means that I’m not getting a lot done, thinking-wise).

deathly dull to the rest of the universe

In the morning there’s a quick dip into Walker to finish off the Quaker job. Then home, where I stare at the PHP version of johnpeacock.com.

The day is not, therefore, filled with excitement. Except that I work out how to get the Gig List database to split into dates that have already happened and those that are yet to be and list the former on the past gigs page with reviews and the latter on the future gigs page with info, and in lieu of there being any future gigs an apology for same.

I also institute a mailing list page. This is pretty exciting to me, but I realise deathly dull to the rest of the universe.

switching between them in a kind of haze

Back at Walker, Maisy-Quakerising.

When I get back in the evening I take the PHP/MySQL breakthrough and try to organise it into actual pages, in this case making a database for gigs and listing them with my reviews of them on a page of their own. I manage to do this and spend hours switching between them in a kind of haze – the Eeyore’s Jar Syndrome as listed above.