really not in the pancake zone at the moment

Up a bit late, breakfast.

Absurdly, pick up the guitar after deciding that I’ll definitely not do that and get another bright musical idea, that demands to be webcammed. This slows me down, and after showering and dressing I get in to Walker ridiculously late. Luckily I’m working on my own recognizance at the moment. Also, there’s a big meeting on so I’m unlikely to have been missed.

Do more of the job I was working on yesterday, with lunch in the middle. I don’t go for a walk around the block, partly because it’s raining, but mostly because I’m a bit rubbish, probably.

Having done Some Stuff, I sneak off early in order to do some exercise – getting home I change into unflattering exercise gear and go for a run – as I head out it’s still light and as I return it’s getting dark. I kind of like doing exercise on the cusps of the day, and this time is much easier to approach than dawn, although a lot busier.

Stretch and shower and get dressed again.

Off up to the shop to get things for dinner (which I end up not using for dinner, but I’m sure they’ll be used for something).

Dinner and pancakes. The pancakes aren’t that great actually – I’m really not in the pancake zone at the moment, so they’re all scrunched up. Maybe next year.

February/March toast, with now traditional Chilli Gonzales accompaniment. The problem with having basically given most things up anyway, is there’s nothing to give up for lent. We’re not in any way religious, it’s just that we like the idea of lent. I think I’ll avoid biscuits.

I’ve never been one to play down my eminent hateability.

Wake up at 7:00, though I don’t feel like getting up or even moving very much. I didn’t manage to get to sleep last night, so am shot through with a fatigue. I think that if I stay in bed it will go away, even though long experience has told me that this is not true.

Lie there for a very long time before getting up, so that my morning schedule is not only not early, but is shot to pieces. Do have coffee, which is much needed.

Despite the fact that I told myself that I was definitely not going to pick up the guitar this morning, I pick up the guitar. Find that I’ve written another something-that-would-be-a-song-if-I-could-be-bothered-to-add-lyrics-to-it. Eventually get dressed. I’m wearing a grey suit with a dark red and blue shirt and a red tie, and on account of the fatigue I’ve not shaved my weekend beard off. I look like one of those hateable characters from 80s comedies – like Walter Peck in Ghostbusters. Decide to go with it. I’ve never been one to play down my eminent hateability.

Into Walker, finally.

Spend a few hours transferring and resetting text from Illustrator documents into an Indesign document. It’s the kind of thing I enjoy, but I take advantage of the flexibility inherent in my status to slip off early, get home and have a cup of tea. Somehow the fatigue has softened and become less domineering.  Collect my guitar and walk up to Islington.

Another night at the VAC, this time with Silver Sam and Anna in attendance, having made the trip up from the deepest countryside. I play River Rise and My Bumper Book of Lies. Interesting. Feels maybe a bit ragged, but with a fair amount of juice – in the PA it sounds a lot louder than usual, but i decide to enjoy that. Anyway, excellent night.

Walk home with a detour to buy shower gel. It’s cold in a bracing sort of way.

to make up for the veglessness

Way oversleep. Up and make traditional Saturday breakfast, despite the fact that it’s Sunday. My foot is feeling a lot better today (was hurting yesterday and very early this morning when I felt the bathroom call, so the fact that it’s not hurting when I get up is slightly mysterious).

After breakfast, sit around for a bit.

Write and test a setlist, or a pair of setlists, for Friday. It might work, if I can remember it all. For some reason, two lists of five songs seems to be more difficult to memorise than one list of ten songs.

Go out for a run. A little less strained than the other day. Maybe I’m suddenly fitter. Maybe it’s because that was Thursday and I was tired, and this is Sunday, and I’ve done basically nothing for two days.

After running, spend far too long dithering before I stretch and shower, so it gets very late.

Go to the supermarket, get beefburgers and apples. Get home, cook the burgers and get chips. Dinner is basically burger and chips, then. Self-indulgent, yet austere. I eat apples afterwards to make up for the veglessness.

YouTube has decided that because I watched a documentary about Lynch’s Dune I’m suddenly interested in everything Dune-related, which isn’t strictly true. Do watch some of the out-takes on offer. The original ending, for example, is very Shakesperian.

An old edition of Have I Got News For You, made before the referendum. What larks.

Total Recall (the original and proper one). I miss the irrefutable evidence that the whole thing is a dream, but it’s obviously the case. The film it’s most like, in a lot of ways, is Existenz, though that has a lot less nasty violence, and this has a lot less mutant fish guns. 100% less.

This wasn’t on my list of things to do.


H gets up early and goes out to a meetup in Cambridge. I have a list of things I really should do. I lie in bed for a bit wondering what to start with. Then I realise that I need butter for breakfast. I dress and go to the supermarket to get butter. When I get home, I realise that there was already a packet in the fridge. We now have a lot more butter than we actually need. I turn on the computer in preparation for all the things I’m going to do.

Have breakfast.

Change the strings on my 6-string fretless for the really-quite-expensive Thomastik flatwound. This wasn’t on my list of things to do. But they do sound good. Noodle for a bit. It’s incredibly 80s, but I love it.

Go out to get coffee, which is probably going to run out before the next time I have an opportunity to go. On the way back I stop at Robert Dyas to get Robert Dyas stuff. When I get to the counter, the person behind it says “The time has arrived”. Which was a bit odd and cultish, and not really what I was expecting from a chain of household goods sellers. I ask him what he’s talking about. He looks unsure and repeats what he said. I obviously look confused, as he points at a display of Red Nose Day stuff. I suppose it must be their slogan. Robert Dyas probably shouldn’t force employees for whom English is a second or third language to do that, as it doesn’t really help anyway. Or maybe I’m just a git.

Get home again and dither for a bit. I’m thinking that I should go and do exercise, and then chicken out on account of the rain.

H gets home. I do a lot of ironing, accompanied by the extended TV cut of Dune, which is on YouTube with Greek subtitles. It has lengthy explanations of the backstory intoned over artists’ impressions of the scenes. I suppose they felt that audiences didnt’ like the original because they needed more explained, but rather it was because it was very strange. The ‘splaining just makes it strange and dull.

Out to get fish and chips, the traditional Saturday dinner.

It’s not a good sign when I’m writing this and find that a lot of it is a list of television we watched, but it was Kill Bill Part One, the Alan Davies chat show and an old episode Have I Got News For You.

I did nothing on my to do list.

I don’t know if that’s hardcore or just sad.

Up, sit, breakfast.

Do some practise – I’m trying to get my fingers to do something slightly uninstinctive naturally, so I have to drill them every so often until they get the idea.

Into Walker.

Work is extracting text from Illustrator files and resetting it in Indesign. It’s the kind of systematic, potentially dull, task that I find quite restful. Spotify gives me a bunch of French pop music, which is nice. For lunch I have some leftover crisps and ginger nuts. I don’t know if that’s hardcore or just sad. Probably both.

On the way home drop by Greensmiths, where the Ginger Pig crew are having their last day. It’s quite sad – I understand the reasoning behind it (supporting small suppliers, which GP has outgrown somewhat), but it’s still a shame.

Cook dinner.

Pop out to the supermarket to buy a bottle of fizzy water to dilute the white wine that’s been sitting in the fridge. Ought to have some, if only to justify giving it up for lent.

Eat dinner with Mastermind and Only Connect on. Friday night is TV night, even if TV fails to live up to its side of the bargain.

Watch the new episode of Legion – which is still fun, but becoming more normal, the remarkableness slowly dripping off it like soap suds – and then have the TV – Newsnight, the usual BBC4 music doc repeats – on in the background.

the firstworldiest of first world problems

Up, sit, coffee, short practise, more coffee, shower and dress.

Into Walker. I’m late, today, so I catch a bus. Carry on working on the various things.

At lunchtime, as I’m not doing lunch, I walk around to the Tate Britain. This is more challenging today, on account of the arrival of Hurricane Doris (they’ve started naming hurricanes in the UK, another sad attempt to be American, like having Proms and taking Halloween seriously) giving some very high winds indeed. Halfway down the Embankment a bin leaps out and attacks me, and a couple of times I need to hang on to things.

Getting to the gallery, I wander around the 19th century rooms for a bit. Late Victorian British painting is very odd, and once you go beyond the well-known it’s even odder, and astonishingly twee a lot of the time. Also, looking at Sickert, for example, it strikes me that people dressed differently from the way we think they dressed. I’ve previously not really paid attention to these paintings, since they lack the intense madness of the Pre-Raphaelites, but perhaps they have a sort of bourgeois madness of their own. I’m sure there wil be more Thursday lunchtimes, at any rate.

Back to work until about 6:30, then home.

Although I’m actually quite keen to do some exercise, I manage to achieve some displacement activities first, including listening to and tweaking some Rock! tracks I threw together last years and making four bars of quite groovy bassline. I know not why.

Eventually, though, I do go out for a run, or rather jog, let’s not overstate it. I’ve reset the Couch to 5k app, so today is Week 1 Day 1. Hopefully there’ll be a Week 9 Day 3, though the last time I tried my legs gave up after about three weeks (although I was heavier and my shoes were knackered, and I’m open to any other excuses that anyone can think of). Also, my bluetooth headphones keep falling out, which is like the firstworldiest of first world problems.

Post-jog dither, then shower.

I don’t think our preferences count at all when it comes to the design of trainers

Up, sit, breakfast.

Make a packed lunch. This is a major development.

Shower and dress.

Walk in to work via a Tesco where I buy a bag of pre-chopped cauliflower, carrot and broccoli.

A day of mixing up to flavours of job, with my packed lunch in the middle and another turn around the block. I eat the veg I got from Tesco as snacks. However, although it might be acceptable cooked, raw they’re… really not very nice. I appreciate the veg from Greensmiths more after eating them.

Walk home.

Make dinner. Eat dinner.

Try on the running shoes. They fit. They have a green flash on them, which is probably a bit ostentatious for someone of my age, but I don’t think our preferences count at all when it comes to the design of trainers. We should be grateful we can walk at all, and just wear the trainers we’re given.

Correct and send a small job.

Try to do stuff in After Effects, but my head’s too bubbly for it.

Play through a lot of songs I might do next Friday, and somethat I definitely won’t because I’ve not written the lyrics yet.

Stay up too late eating mint imperials, which somehow balances all the veg I ate. Possibly the least productive staying up too late yet.

Which would probably look good on my tombstone.

Oversleep. Up. Breakfast. There’s only enough milk for one cup of coffee. Marco’s updated Overcast – on the one hand the way to edit and play individual shows is much improved (by which I mean, actually working), but the adverts seem to be more prominent. As one of the people who paid for the first version, I feel everso slightly peeved that adverts have come back.

Again, about ten minutes goes missing somewhere, so I end up being late, when I thought I was on time. Which would probably look good on my tombstone.

Into work, carrying on with the fish books.

At lunchtime, after eating, I take a turn round the block to clear my head. After lunch it seems that someone has put out bowls of penny-chews. That is to say almost pure sugar in brightly coloured packages. I try to resist, with very little success. I particularly enjoy the Parma Violets, which taste like Sunday afternoons in the early 70s. Or mine, anyway. Other people’s probably tasted of Rothmans and Watney’s Red Barrel, but I was far too young for that, and all I could afford was Parma Violets.

Work is juggling an ongoing job and prep for an upcoming one. Slightly messy, at least in the mind.

Dinner and some practise. My head is too fuzzy for anything more complicated than that.

I go out the the supermarket to get veg to make myself a lunch with tomorrow. Interesting to put the price of the items into a spreadsheet with the price of (organic and delicious) veg from Greensmith, and find that not only are the GS veg nicer, often they’re less expensive. So.

Some more practise.

Stay up late noodling and trying to understand how to fit suspended chords together. I could have spent a lot more time over the last few days doing this, rather than failing to do other things. I don’t think I’d be any closer to understanding, but I’d have had fun.

the Walking Unnecessarily Long Distances With a Guitar Case Fitness Plan

Up later than I’d like (though earlier than late), and have coffee.

I have a to do list, but ultimately none of it gets done. Still too distracted for anything serious that requires concentration, annoyingly. I do some practice, but am generally bewildered. This goes on all day. Useless.

In the evening, I walk up to the Library – my usual guitar just having had its strings changed, I take the ancient 70s Ovation. This doesn’t fit in the gigbag (it has a significantly longer scale length), so I have to put it in its original and rather heavy brown Ovation case, and lug it. However, lug it I do all the way to Islington.

Arrive at the VAC.

Not quite as overstuffed as on some previous weeks.I have a seat behind someone who never stops moving, which I find – in my intolerant snowflake way – difficult to live with.

It’s a more traditional VAC where many of the performers have buggered off after they’ve played – but that sort of goes to show that they don’t get it. The audience that’s left is one of quality, certainly. If, perhaps, a bit overbeered in some quarters.

When I go out to tune my guitar, the person on immediately before me is tuning his. Sort of. He’s had a number of beers while waiting to play, and is unhappy that having arrived early he’s playing so late – but surely David lets performers choose their slot in the order of arrival (I have to play late, but I like to play late).  Anyway, he manages to break my clip-on tuner, and almost does the same with his guitar, which plummets to the stairs. I tune it for him.

Anyway, my performance is fine – Shame and Sem Nome, which I don’t bugger up at all. It’s nice to play the old Ovation, it’s just a shame that it doesn’t have a cutaway (which gets in the way of playing some pieces). It certainly sounds great – despite the fact that the newer Ovation has a top-of-the-line preamp and this one no preamp at all. They really knew what they were up to in the mid-70s, I have to say.

The walk back with the big Ovation case is quite different from the walk with the gigbag on my back. Perhaps it will give a small workout to my arms. It could be the germ of a fitness plan – the Walking Unnecessarily Long Distances With a Guitar Case Fitness Plan.

Whether it’s the walk or the performing, I feel significantly less bewildered now. Let’s see how I feel tomorrow.

meadows being in short supply at the Elephant and Castle

Up early, but not quite as early as the alarm suggested we should. Toast and coffee, a bit of dithering, then a shower and get dressed.

Leave the flat a little later than intended.

Get to Liverpool Street a lot more quickly than I expected, but that’s fine. It’s more slowly that’s the problem when you’ve a train to catch. Buy tickets and wait to be told the platform. Then get on the train and it eventually pulls out. I map out suspended 11th and 13th chords in my notebook. I might as well.

The train stops at Audley End and decants us onto a coach, which then creeps round the villages. They’re all very nice about it, but this particular journey isn’t really supposed to take this long.

Eventually the bus arrives at Shelford, which is where we were trying to get to.

Ben’s birthday lunch, which is lovely. I’m taking a day off logging everything I eat precisely, because I think it would probably be a bit difficult. Also, it might incline me to eat less of the cake, which would be a shame, as the cake is very nice.

We go for a stroll around the meadow, which is nice and not something I usually do, meadows being in short supply at the Elephant and Castle.

Tea and more cake and a chat.

Train home. I keep falling asleep.

I elect to walk home from Liverpool Street – which is, according to my Fitbit, not as far as I think it is – over the Milennium Bridge, and I get apples and pears from the supermarket on the way. That’s not cockney rhyming slang, it’s actually fruit.

SSGB being on, we watch it. I expect that there will be Talk about the fact that the main character communicates entirely in an incomprehensible whisper (which is actually quite an odd choice), but I’m mainly looking at the suits. Would a detective wear a black shirt in the 1940s?

Tonight’s movie being X-Men: Days of Future Past, yes, mostly for that scene with Quicksilver. I’m not altogether convinced that that giant computer could have been made with 60s transistor technology, but then that’s quite a minor thing to be not altogether convinced about in an X-Men movie.