Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Christmas is sick.

Wednesday 22nd December 2004

Christmas is sick.
Peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind yet the fighting in the supermarket is outrageous. Are we desperate for food? Will it all run out? I don’t think so, then why am I being pushed out of the way whenever I reach for something off the shelf. I am so glad I’ve been doing my Christmas shopping since September (I never thought I’d say that) and I’m going to do the rest on line as I can’t take the pressure of the supermarket – the feeling of stress and panic is infectious.
A woman I knew completely ignored me as if saying hello to someone under such circumstances would have tipped the balance for her and some sort of breakdown would occur. People in there are like the owners of dogs who are doing the obstacle course at Crufts, or show jumping riders – if they stop to say hello they’ll pick up time penalties, they’re trying to smile for the judges but it looks like a grimace there’s so much tension there.

Tune of the day

Anything that slags off Christmas
by Anyone who slags off Christmas


Saturday, December 11, 2004

All hail the mighty Cornwall

Saturday 11th December 2004

Falmouth – fresh sea, bracing breeze and a lovely reception at the Princess Pavillion.
There’s a great shop in town that does Hong Kong Phooey t-shirts as well.

I’m not sure if it was the release of last gig in this run but the gig was one of those getting jiggy with your godself experience to an immensely appreciative and inspiring audience.

Drove home through the night so I could sleep in my own bed for a change, and be up for my boy wonder’s first school Christmas concert.

Tune of the day

Mr. Sea
by Johnny Osborne


Friday, December 10, 2004

Glorious Glastonbury!

Friday 10th December 2004

Glastonbury is a very special place.
I’ve never known such a mellow gathering of normal folk, hippies and freaks living alongside one another in seeming harmony.
Mad shops, great shops, weird shops and the best £1 shop you could hope to find.
But on the calm and mellow streets there’s danger - I’ve never know boy racers like it, you fear crossing the road!

We’ve all been split up and are staying at different B&Bs. I’m staying with Sig – an American and leading authority on dousing, and Karin - a Dutch painter. We are straight in at the deep end on spirituality and organised religion over a fruit tea. Love it.

Legendary gig in the town hall as always with the Lentil Soup organisation. I always get asked to dedicate tunes relating to local deaths, births and birthdays – strangely colloquial but meaningful. I drew the line at dedicating a tune to the Stoke on Trent Anti-BNP crew who were in the audience! In the old days sad to say I probably would have but now I’m politically disillusioned and cynical…

Tune of the day

by Zion Train


Glorious Gloucester!

Thursday 9th December 2004

Had good time all round in London (3 days in total – was due to be in Reading last night but gig cancelled at the last minute). Have caught up with extended Ezer family; been to see my sisters stunning creations at the Royal College of Art; been to the dentist and for the first time in my life had an appointment with a dental hygienist/comedian (in my day the dentist scraped the tartar off the back of your teeth and that was that, and it never cost £45); had 2 injections and 2 fillings (£120).
Then last night (talking of new friends as I was in the last entry) I went out for a drink with a bloke I met on the plane on the way home form the Anti-Rascist World Cup in Italy (see 11th July 04 entry). Mad. Had a really good laugh and my instinct that he isn’t a psycho has proved good (so far – when he’s making soup from my children’s goldfish having broken into my house I might revise that!). And what’s more Steven Gerrard put Liverpool through to the next round of the Champions League with a stunning goal.

Headed down to Hakey’s a little the worse for wear this morning. Collected Bigga and the gear, picked up a cream cheese beigel from the supreme beigel bakers by Victoria Park and headed for Gloucester Guildhall.

Lovely reception there, nice people, it would have been an all round top experience but for the Gloucester one way system, the venue on a pedestrianised street and an ill German (Bigs is sick poor dear). Top last gig with Pama Outernational – one love lads.

Had to drive to a gloriously glamorous trusthouse forte just off the M5 to kip, where I foolishly stayed up late watching a Dianne Keaton film about a liberated 60’s woman who had lovers galore and a good time all round until she got stabbed to death at the end by a junky. I couldn’t believe it, I really hadn’t forseen that ending – a moral tale from righteous America. So girls, don’t shag around – you’ll get stabbed.

Tune of the day

Blank Expression
by The Specials


Monday, December 06, 2004

Healthy is happy...

Monday 6th December 2004

Started the day feelin rough.
Stayed up til 4am drinking with a very nice friend of one of my oldest school friends whose house I was staying at. It’s funny but about 5 years ago I decided I knew enough people and I didn’t have the headspace or energy to get to know anymore! But in the last year or so I’ve abandoned the idea as a stupid one and put in a bit of effort with some people. If they prove to be interesting/intelligent/entertaining with some degree of emotional depth then I make more effort…I subsequently have a few new friends. Which is nice! I’ve also linked up with and got on really well with a few friends of friends which is inevitable I suppose, and generally rewarding.
When you have kids you start to meet a whole group of new people – a cross section of society brought together because their children attend the same playgroup/nursery/school. You interact with them all and gradually gravitate towards those who you get on with and start to go out for meals etc… so more new friends!

Before the Brighton gig last night met up with my old school friend, who was diagnosed with epilepsy a few months ago. I’d known one other person in my life who had suffered from it and she’d been a teenager – quite cool and dismissive of the whole thing. She ultimately had a frontal lobotomy. My mate had a mouthful of ulcers, clenched and twisted muscles particularly in his back and ribs from the spasms (which hadn’t unwound from the first fit 5 months ago) and bruises from having fallen. He can’t drive until he hasn’t had a fit for a year.
Your health is your wealth and your freedom.

Brighton gig was a really nice social and a lovely experience – Sarah and Nuala Headmix guested on melodica and vocals. Singing harmony vocals has to be one of the most rewarding and uplifting experiences and I LOVE IT!

Back in London now. Been for a walk on Hampstead Heath then just spent some time
driving round – nice music courtesy of ipod and pirate radio (some of the latest ragga and hip-hop is SO experimental and brilliant) then went to a fantastic (not expensive) Lebanese restaurant on Beauchamps Place? just off High St. Kensington.

Tune of the day

by General Levy


Stinkiest venue ever?

Sunday 5th December 2004

Went back to the Oxford Zodiac last night.
I have never known a venue smell worse (with the exception of the toilets at The Shrine – Fela’s old club in Lagos) but lo and behold an audience shouted like Poland. Didn’t get to talk between the last few tunes as the screaming was so loud. Felt very invigorated by such generous people – thank you all. Very much.

The support band on some of these dates are Pama International featuring Lynval Golding on guitar. As a teenage mega fan of The Specials I’ve felt a bit shy but last night I outed myself to him as a fan. He’s spent the last 8 years living on a Native American Indian reserve in the USA and seems such a humble, peaceable but lively bloke – am going to ask him for an interview as his life has been so varied I’m really interested in his perspective.

As regular readers will know I’m a crappy shopper so on this tour I’ve been dealing with the Christmas shopping thing by doing half an hour per day - seeking out specific items in each town so I don’t have to deal with any last minute stress lunacy. Done my food shop online so won’t have to face any supermarket rage.
I have one friend who does a lot of her Xmas shopping in the January sales ready for the next year – I’ve always ridiculed people who start Xmas early but the older I get the more I realise that last minute packing for trips away/Xmas shopping is actually shortening my life expectancy. If I start early I don’t notice. Not being smug here just feeling a sense of relief and liberation from the pressure/judgement I put on myself, and finding my way of navigating pressure that society puts on us all…

Tune of the day

Let’s Start II the Dance Again
by Hamilton Bohannon


Sunday, December 05, 2004

Travel expands the mind...

Saturday 4th December 2004

Yesterday drove from London to Torrington with Hakey as co-pilot regaling me with stories of his recent trip to Japan. Mind expanding.
Travel is one of the best things in life – educational, awe inspiring, challenging. Going to places where nothing is familiar and you don’t speak the language strips you of some your confidence and knowledge. Not knowing what’s what in a supermarket, what shops are from the signs outside, not able to even contemplate public transport. Felt like this when we went to Russia earlier this year, but Hakey’s tales from Japan sounded incredible…

The Plough Arts centre in Torrington is lovely – collective run, nice warm space. Got to speak French for a change with the bloke who runs the café (top food).

Went back to b&b after soundcheck and dinner – was watching kiddies do spelling on the telly one minute then the next the alarm on my phone had been going for ages with me trying desperately to make it part of my dream. Staggered off to the venue from such a deep sleep I didn’t really feel awake til 3rd tune in of the gig!
Mellow and appreciative audience…bless.

At all the UK dates are old friends – some people we’ve worked with, some fans we’ve befriended, some promoters who have become friends. Going back to places is in general a really nice experience, thank you all for being there.

Tune of the day

Back to My Roots
by Odyssey


Saturday, December 04, 2004

London's alright really...

Friday 3rd December 2004

Played at 93 Feet East on Brick Lane last night and it was really nice. Aprreciative, intense but mellow crowd, fantastic sound system, people I haven't seen for years and years.
The only shoddy point of the night was that the soundman turned us off and bouncer's refused to let us do an encore, but that's the way things go some times.

I did discover that it's possible to open a bottle of wine by placing it on the floor and pressing down on the cork with a stiletto heel. Everyone watching gets sprayed with wine but it's an impressive thing to behold - respect to Mr and Mrs Beveridge!

I've always slagged off London since I moved out - it's dirty and aggressive - but coming back this time I've enjoyed and appreciated the cultural diversity, the different interior and exterior spaces (Hampstead Heath to Knightsbridge to Brick Lane) and the fantastic food!

Tune of the day

Crosstown Traffic
by Jimi Hendrix


Thursday, December 02, 2004

Wild wild Hitchin...

Thursday 2nd December

Did 5 hour drive yesterday to Hitchin where Zion train were booked to play.
I'd never been there before, we'd never played there before, but I thought the promoter's must be confident of pulling a venue full of ZT fans or they wouldn't have booked us.

As I stepped into the venue it was like going back in time ten years to a free party. 30 seconds after I arrived I was offered a reiki massage by a nice gentleman with dreadlocks, who wasn't actually going to touch me physically but was going to enter all my chakra's with his cosmic energy...nice.

The night only got more surreal culminating in going onstage to 'The Birdy Song'. The gig was wild with people leaping around and screaming for 'Babylon's Burning' for the last third of the gig. We duly obliged and they duly went wilder.

Maximum respect to the collective who run the venue (Club 58) and thankyou for your hospitality and time travel experience!

Tune of the day

Red Gold and Green
by Burning Spear