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Blog Archive: April 2011

We Went To A Wedding
Like most of THE NATION yesterday I woke up slightly confused - after all these bank holidays (and especially Extra University Statutory Days) it's getting hard to know what DAY it is - although you could hardly miss the fact there was a WEDDING going on.

Now, I defer to nobody in LIFE and especially not on Constitutional Reform - as ever, my proposal for a tricameral system of government is available for explanation at a moment's notice - and obviously think it's foolish that we STILL have a hereditary head of state. HOWEVER! HOWEVER! HOWEVER! I am also 93.75% ENGLISH (Exciting Family FACT: my great great grandmother was FIRED from her service as a MAID for Vita Sackville West when she became PREGNANT by Virginia Woolf's French French Tutor - this story ALSO available in greater depth at a moment's notice) and so am GENETICALLY PROGRAMMED to think of THE QUEEN as an extra NAN and go a bit PECULIAR whenever I hear "Jerusalem". I can't HELP it so long ago decided not to worry and just GET ON with it.

So it was that The Vows In My Wedding Ceremony and I decided that, as we do actually LIVE in That London, we might as well go and LOOK at The Big Wedding. After watching the start of it on TELLY we set off about half eleven, ASTONISHED to find the streets and tube NOT entirely DESERTED. Who were these non-telly watching TRAITORS? And why were they all going in the same direction as us, carrying FLAGS?

We arrived at St James' Park tube station to find ourselves STUCK in a crowd of people who weren't allowed to go anywhere, including a small girl SOBBING because she couldn't see anything. Her dad picked her up on his shoulders so she could see the Horse Guard far off in the distance passing The Abbey, but I thought that that would be as much as we would get.

HOWEVER! AGANE! The police line stopping us from getting into St James' Park itself BROKE and we, along with a load of other people, STORMED through, DASHING through the park towards The Mall and CHEERING. We got there just in time to see A Carriage go by, having no idea who was in it, and then some land rovers, mini-buses, and LOADS of soldiers. It was weird seeing them with their ARCHAIC UNIFORMS combined with MACHINE GUNS, but lovely watching them try to be STERN about everything and stay in TIME as hundreds of children sang "LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT!" at them.

Once more i thought that they would be as much as we got to see, but we hung around a bit as the RUMOUR was that The Mall would be opened and we could wander down to maybe see The Royal Family On The Balcony and definitely get a good view of The Fly Past. Our house is under the usual ROUTE for Buckingham Palace fly pasts, and so i have become a BIG FAN - especially when they have a LANCASTER BOMBER.

We stood around then I saw a thick line of about a HUNDRED POLICE come marching along, with a huge crowd behind them. "How did THEY get to be first down The Mall" I, and probably loads of other people, thought. Then we realised - it was The Cubs And Scouts And Brownies And Guides! OF ALL NATIONS! HOORAH!

By this time cynicism was ALL GONE and LO! there was much HALLOOING... for about five minutes until THE SHOVING began, closely followed by THE CLAMBERING as everyone SURGED up to and quickly OVER the barriers. HOORAH! AGANE!

Along The Mall we trotted... and got stuck behind The Victoria Memorial. We thought we'd be STUCK there, but the line of POLICE were moving around it like the hands of a CLOCK, with The Scouting Organisations following behind, so the crowd continued to MOVE. There was shoving and bumping some more (LOTS of people had big back packs and even SUITCASES with them) but no more than on The Central Line of a week day morning, and we found ourselves moving closer and closer and closer until BLOW ME DOWN but we were stood ON the memorial RIGHT in front of the palace. We couldn't believe it!

We waited twenty minutes or so for anything to happen and then GOODNESS ME but WE WERE THERE as everyone came out on the balcony. Now, once again we can have a Serious Discussion about The Monarchy, The Class System and Deference, but at that particular moment, knowing I was THERE while TWO BILLION PEOPLE were watching it on Telly, i for one would NOT have swapped it for being at home, moaning on twitter. We saw The Kiss, also The Other Kiss, and pretty much COMPLETED the full set of Members Of The Royal Family I Have Seen. It was all TREMENDOUSLY exciting and YES, we DID wave back when they waved to us. IT WAS GRATE!

The fly past came by... and was a bit disappointing really. The Lancaster Bomber, Spitfire and Hurrican were MEGA BRILL as ever - especially when we saw them turning round over Green Park VERY LOW INDEED - and the modern planes were OK, but where - WHERE?!? - WHERE were the Red Arrows? Eh? DID THEY HAVE A PRIOR BOOKING?!? Everyone stood around waiting for them, but NO! Poor show, Mr D Cameron, POOR SHOW INDEED!

And then there was about half an hour waiting to MOVE anywhere, during which you couldn't help but notice that THE CROWD was an incredibly diverse range of ages, nationalities, class, races, languages and pretty much anything ELSE you'd like to be diverse about. They always SAY this on the telly commentaries and it always LOOKS like it's actually just five thousands slightly bonkers MUMS and NANS from Essex, but when you're in it it's INCREDIBLE, also rather LOVELY.

We shuffled along to a police line where they alternately said "You can't come through here", "You can come through here", "Please turn back", and "Just leave to the left". You'd think BY NOW the Police would have realised that ACTUALLY TELLING PEOPLE WHAT'S GOING ON tends to help keep things calm, also ORGANISED, but the whole crowd was so POLITE it didn't really matter.

We completed our big day in town by going for POSH LUNCH and then THE SHOPS, before we SPLIT, with The Groceries In My Shopping Bag doing a bit MORE shopping, and me going off to a slightly scary pub in Mile End full of GEN-U-INE COCKERNEYS having a KNEES UP, to share a couple of pints with Dr Neil Brown. He TOO is hardly a monarchist, but had ALSO been down for the day. "It's history", he remarked, correctly, "And anyway - so many people were droning on about how uninterested in it they were that I thought I'd go and have a bloody look." TRUE!

We got home to see if we could see ourselves on THE TELLY and to LARF at the Portentious Commentary, of which there was A LOT. I don't know why they have to always do that - I WAS THERE and it all felt a bit daft, a bit silly and a LOT of fun, as opposed to SOMBRE and IMPORTANT. We had a lovely day - but next time there's a big do, book the Red Arrows please!

posted 30/4/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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The Price Of Politics
Thanks very much INDEED to everyone who's so far re-posted, mentioned, embedded or TWITTED the I'm Saying Yes video, it's been very exciting seeing the numbers go up, and it's started to appear in all SORTS of places.

One of my favourites so far as been on the Total Politics blog. The Points In My Argument gets the magazine through the post, so we are AVID readers of it (particularly, in my case, at just after 8am every morning...) and thus i was VERY excited when it popped up on the referall STATS from YouTube. But what's this I see in the comments? It's someone a) deliberately misunderstanding/perverting the TRUTH and b) being RUDE about my physical stature! The swine!

This seems to be the case GENERALLY for LOTS of people who want to say "NO" to the video - deliberate falsehood/misunderstandings and ABUSE. I am trying my BEST to rise above it where it happens, but sometimes I have found myself WADING IN to say "OI! No!" On the YouTube comments, for instance, some idiot said "If AV is a voting system that will help destroy those eeeeeeeeeeeevil Tories why didn't Labour give us a referendum during their 13 years of office? Cool vid, but your 'arguments' suck. "

I was rather annoyed by this because a) I never said anything ABOUT AV destroying the Tories or why Labour didn't give us a referendum so that wasn't even my argument and b) my opinions do not suck anyway, you rotter. So I called him a pillock (I KNOW this is IMMATURE but hey - he totally was being a pillock) and he called me "RUDE", which i thought rather RIPE. So - HA! - i BLOCKED him!

I then had HOURS of doubts - was this right of me? Was this democratic? Or - hang on - was this like someone coming and writing abuse on the front of MY WEBPAGE? In the end i thought it was OK to do it, but like a very very low-key Andrew Marr, felt a bit bad about it. Whenever I put a video up I generally try to keep ALL the comments, unless they're obvious SPAM or abuse, but even then I feel a bit guilty about it.

So that, i conclude, is the price of Politics: mild guilt and being called FAT. It's not so bad - don't worry, Nick Clegg, you'll get over it!

posted 28/4/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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A Little Bit Of Politics
I've just sent out the latest edition of The Newsletter, which in some ways is very LATE (I appear to have FORGOT to do one last month - how did THAT happen?) and in other ways is slightly EARLY, because I couldn't WAIT until the ACTUAL last working day of the month to tell everyone about THIS:

It's the long threatened VIDEO for I'm Saying Yes which, as you can probably tell, I had an AWFUL LOT OF FUN making. I know I'm always asking people to re-post / re-tweet / just sort of MENTION our videos, but I really am ESPECIALLY KEEN on people doing so this time around. The referendum (sorry UK types - we're having a referendum on May 5th about whether to change over to the Alternative Vote for our elections rather than the antiquated, unfair, inherently corrupt First Past The Post system) will, i reckon, set the tone for the next GENERATION of politics. Saying "Yes" this time will open the door not only for fairer elections but also for reform in GENERAL. If it goes "No" then The Establishment (i.e. The Tories) will use it as an EXCUSE to poo poo and generally IGNORE calls to reform the House Of Lords, the way MPs are chosen and paid, and even stuff like Press Complaints, privacy laws and goodness knows what else. "The public have no appetite for change" they will say, meaning "The proles are happy with the status quo, WE KNOW BEST."

"Oh Mr Hibbett", you may cry, "What on earth makes you think THAT?" GOOD QUESTION. I think the evidence for this FEAR is the HUGE amounts of money the Tory funded "No" campaign have spent on their outright LIES (e.g. AV will cost pretty much the SAME as FPTP - they MADE UP a figure of 250 MILLION POUNDS for AV and put it on posters. Also: AV REDUCES the likelihood of extreme parties getting seats [which is why the BNP are campaigning for "no"), leads to LESS coalitions [see AUSTRALIA] and is used ALL OVER THE WORLD for elections including, oh my, THE TORY LEADERSHIP ELECTIONS). Tories keep coming on telly to say "Oh it is so boring! No-one cares about changing the voting system!" and then GOING ON ABOUT KEEPING THE OLD VERSION and spending MILLIONS on posters, almost as if THEY ARE SHITTING THEMSELVES.

Because - aha! - the OTHER reason they are so AFEARED of Actual Democracy is that, apparently, the Tories reckon they'll lost up to a third of their traditional voters to UKIP, if people are allowed to vote for who they ACTUALLY WANT rather than GUESS who they think MIGHT WIN. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm not particularly in favour of UKIP running the country, but i AM in favour of a) DEMOCRACY and b) the Conservative Party PANICKING. Everyone's a winner!

I could go on for HOURS - DAYS - about this, clearly, but I guess I should LEAVE IT there and let the video do the talking. Hope you enjoy it, and if you get a chance, do please spread the word!

posted 26/4/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Easter Action
It's been busy busy busy here in the GARRETT, as I've been trying to get VARIOUS things finished to a point of High Quality before myself and The Days Off In My Bank Holiday head to deepest CORNWALL for a few days.

Yesterday saw TWO big projects in action - first of all the latest Totally Acoustic podcast which is now UP and features not only Vom Vorton, Owen Tromans, ME (and Steve) but also the most MELODICALLY DELIGHTFUL version of the theme tune that we've ever had. I spent a very happy few hours editing it, reliving a lovely evening, and I recommend it to you wholeheartedly!

The other BIG JOB was sorting out the video for I'm Saying Yes, which is now DONE. I was going to put it up today but I think I'll wait until Sunday when we get back from Cornwall - partly in case anything HAPPENS, but mostly to stop me from checking my email every five minutes to see if anything HAS! There is a HECK of a lot of stuff in it, much of it GOOD i think (my favourite bit is around "a chance of second votes mean that they'll have to broaden their appeal" which features ACTING, and also the Concise Explanation of how AV works... oh, and also David Cameron's exploding head. And ... well, like i say, there's LOTS in there, I am really having to HOLD HARD to stop unleashing it on the world RIGHT NOW!

I also made a RHUBARB CRUMBLE. This was actually RIGHT UP THERE with my other achievements of the day, but I can't really share that with you as i have nearly eaten THE LOT. Sorry!

Anyway, all is full tilt for a few days off before we launch into SAVING DEMOCRACY next week - have a nice Bank Holiday, those who have one, and seeee you on the other side!

posted 21/4/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Poet Fight In Bloomsbury
Every time we do TotallyAcoustic I always WORRY. We've only very rarely had troubles, like the time we got double booked and nearly had to cancel, but usually it's fine. "Don't worry!" I tell myself. "It'll be FINE!"

So at least I knew i wasn't worrying NEEDLESSLY when, yesterday afternoon, I did a PLUG for the gig on Twitter and someone asked me whether that was the SAME Lamb where the Poetry Night was happening. I looked it up and - OH BLIMEY - it WAS! Same place and also same START time. GRATE.

I spent a couple of hours trying to find out who was running it, to no avail, and managed to BOTHER a couple of people who'd advertised it but didn't know who was in charge. I also rang the pub to find that, yes, they DID have my name in the book for the night... but also had "Poetry night?" just underneath it. EXCELLENT. The Bar Manager reassured me that WE'D be OK as we'd definitely got in first, but STILL: while I was pretty sure we could TAKE a bunch of poets if need be, I'd rather not have to.

I arrived early at the pub to make sure I'd got my CA$H laid down, and was reassured AGANE that all was well. Mr Owen Tromans was already there, as was Mr S Hewitt, and when Mr V Vorton aka Tom arrived ten minutes later we had a WORLD RECORD for Performers Being There EARLY! We got the room upstairs set up and went and SAT there to be in SITU and waited for THE POETS.

We waited for AGES. Occasionally people who were Very Obviously There For The Poetry (including one man who gave me a pile of leaflets, featuring a picture of him looking a bit uncomfortable, apparently taken by CLAIRE GROGAN?!?) who left discreetly when they realised and/or were told that this WASN'T poetry. Eventually, at nearly twenty past seven (we BOTH had start times of half past) a young man STRODE in looking like someone who wanted the world to know He Was A Poet. "Are you here for the poetry?" i asked. "Yeah, it should be starting soon!" he said. "Er... no, it isn't" I replied and, after explaining, followed him downstairs and next door to where the organisers were still having their DINNER in the restaurant. I didn't say at the time but - goodness me! Still eating ten minutes before showtime when you're the promoter? Is that how they do it, in The World Of Poetry? Yet again, ROCK outshines other artforms in its DILIGENCE!

On the way round the Young Poet had said "There's 100, 120 people coming" and "There's going to be trouble." When I arrived at the restaurant the Poetry Chap was MOST annoyed. "I've got 20,30 people coming!" he said. Ah! "Me too" i replied, and we went back round to the pub... where Adrian The Bar Manager once more reassured that we'd have the room - and then went to sort it out with the poets. Which he did with APLOMB - they ended up doing their POEMS out in the beer garden, for which it was a LOVELY night. I felt a bit bad about it all, but hey! we DID have the room first and goodness knows we'd been in the room a heckload longer!

And let's be frank: POETS! I'd have a lot more respect for them if they could be BOTHERED to learn an instrument. Come on! It's EASY!

In comparison the rest of the evening went off CALMLY. Steve and I did the following for our set:
  • Totally Acoustic
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • The Battle Of Peterborough
  • Dinosaurs Talk Like Pirates
  • Moon Horse
  • That Was Margaret Thatcher
  • We're The Mars Men Of Jupiter
  • We've Done Something Evil
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • It was the full Comedy Gig SET, which seems to be falling into shape. The revised version of We've Done Something Evil (now a pastoral WALTZ) especially seems to work well. It was still a BIT wobbly - we really need to sort out what we're saying between songs and, indeed, IN songs - but i think it's going to be FINE.

    Then it was the turn of Vom Vorton who, as ever, was ACE. Earlier we'd all been discussing GIG CRAFT and the difficult job of managing an audience when you're SOLO rather than with a band. Tom was thinking about going back to having a band and I think this ended up with Owen and (mostly) ME giving him HOT TIPS FROM VETERANS about how to FORCE people to pay attention. "SWEAR MORE!" i said, but really he doesn't need much in the way of advice, he was ACE. So many songs! So many IDEAS! So many TUNES!

    As well as his own GRATE songs this also saw the live debut of Brokeback Workbench, our co-composition for the GeekPop festival. We'd had a quick practice beforehand and I think we managed to perform it pretty much RIGHT, if a bit nervously, much to the relief of us both!

    Tom's set finished with an impromptu Q&A Session (an EXCELLENT idea which I may well make into a Regular Feature in future SEASONS) and then, once we'd all managed to waid through the SEA OF POETS at the bar, it was time for the final act, Mr Owen Tromans. I'm Listening Again (hem hem) as I type to the recording of last night for the podcast, and GOODNESS ME but he's good. He's a bloody lovely chap who's always DELIGHTFUL when we've chatted before and after gigs, and so it's always takes me back a bit when he goes on stage and is SO imposing and SO GRATE. It's like "Whoa!There appears to be a ROCK STAR in the room!" It was bloody GRATE from start to finish, tho I feel i may never stop singing "Why don't you levitate me Judith", and the end, when he did an acapella song - GOLLY! It was FAB!

    And that was that, except for, five minutes post-show, a quick BURST of I'm Saying Yes, which a couple of people had requested. Inspired by Owen's acapella performance and aware of the presence of poets in the building i delivered this as a SPOKEN WORD BEAT PEACE, a decision which had almost NOTHING to do with the fact that I'd forgotten the chords. At all.

    And so we left, drifting out into a surprisingly summery night, full of the joys of ROCK. ROCK! It's totally the BEST!

    posted 20/4/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Ready For The This Week Sofa
    FILMING continued last night for the I'm Saying Yes video, the HIGHPOINT of which was me having to stand outside my own front door wearing a Dinosaur mask carrying a sign saying "KILL ALL HUMANS". It is going to be a thoroughly STERN and WORLDLY video, can you tell? Typically that most PUBLIC and Vaguely Embarassing BIT was the ONLY bit that needed re-doing, so I had to sort it out this morning before leaving for work - I'm giving the Dinosaur mask BACK to Mr S Hewitt tonight, along with the other props that I have borrowed, and wanted to make sure I did it all in one go lest CHAOS ensue.

    Having done that I then spent many MANY hours doing EDITING. Slotting the filmed bits together was fine, and it's really starting to take shape now, but I soon realised that though the VERSES are full of ACTION the CHORUSES were looking a bit DULL. Eventually I hit upon the idea of getting Famous People Saying Yes to ZOOM past the door of the room I filmed it in, a RATHER GOOD idea which took BLOODY AGES to get to work. Throughout this particular PROJECT I have thought "This'd be so much easier if I could do it with a proper green screen" but been put off by the EXHORBITANT cost. More and more, however, I'm starting to think it might become WORTH it.

    Still, after much BRANE STRANE I got it all going quite nicely, and am left today with a few bits and bobs to sort out. I'm using some HOMEMADE ILLUSTRATIONS throughout, and have just had a rather lovely lunch hour drawing a REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE of the POLITICAL MAKE-UP of our DEMOCRACY! It looks lovely - ALAS it only lasts about 2 seconds on screen, but still, i think it will be NICE.

    I really must crack on with it though - every day I read the news and see the lying bastards of the NO campaign starting to get ahead and think "Hold on, I'M COMING!" As I may have said before, i have a GOOD FEELING about this one - it feels as if I am using MY MIGHTY POWERS FOR GOOD and if it results in a grateful nation wanting to get me onto THIS WEEK with Andrew Neil then, well, who am I to argue. I'm already practicing Looking Slightly Uncomfortable Standing On The Edge Of The Set for the beginning of the show.

    I really am. REALLY. If I don't get to GIGGLE live on telly when he mentions Blue Nun i will be QUITE UPSET.

    posted 19/4/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Culture Club
    We had a weekend of CULTURE round my way this weekend just gone. Not satisfied with our trip to an ACTUAL THEATRE (all right, to see a gig, but still) on Thursday, the Acts In My Cabaret and I popped round to The British Museum on Friday night. Well, it's rude not to - it's less than 120 seconds from my office AND The Minutes In My Hour is a MEMBER of that fine institution. Yes, that's right, a MEMBER of The British Museum - some might say this is evidence of her having some kind of SUPER BOYFRIEND or something, who got her membership for her birthday but i decline to comment hem hem oh i say.

    SO anyway, we popped round and had a look at the Afghanistan Exhibition, which was pretty good. It was a lot SHORTER (good!) and a lot less MENTAL than the Egyptian one was (that was MAD), and also gave pause for thought - lots of stuff came from an entire settlement/civilisation that we had comepletely FORGOTTEN ABOUT until evidence was found again in the 1950s. Just imagine that - whole generations of people, all those lives, just dropped off the mental map of human civilisation. I had a bit of an old PONDER about THAT one i can tell you!

    We also went to see the Eric Gill exhibition, which was TINY but GRATE. He did all sorts of public art, including sculpture, stamps, and indeed the font GILL SANS which i use all the time. My favourite thing was how EVERY time anyone asked him to do a Major Piece Of Public Art he would CUNNINGLY SUBVERT IT... although not THAT cunningly because pretty much every time he did it The Establishment NOTICED and said "Er... that wasn't really what we were after Eric, thanks" and got someone else in instead. If you look at the self-portrait on his medallion on the exhibition's page you can imagine him being just the SORT to think this was a clever idea, and I could just imagine him SNIGGERING away and then kicking a waste paper basket when THE KING noticed he'd put him on Oliver Cromwell's horse. It was ACE!

    Then we went to an RESTAURANT in the Glittering West End - i know! It is like people on TELLY or somethinG!

    Next day I was a bit poorly, and only managed a LIGHT DINNER PARTY (i.e. some Nephews/Nieces various came round and we had CRISPS. That is how we BOHEMIANS roll at Dinner PArties these days) but on Sunday it was back to the artistic GRINDSTONE as I properly started work on the VIDEO for I'm Saying Yes. There'll be more on this later on in the week, when I hope to get it all done by (there is, after all, a pretty big DEADLINE for this one!), but the current report is that it's going rather well. There is a LOT of stuff in it, and a LOT still to do, but the most COMPLEX bit, where the AV system is EXPLAINED using FOUR HIBBETTS is all sorted out, so it should be pretty plain sailing from henceforth. I've got a good feeling about this one - prepare to MAN THE BARRICADES in a few days time!

    posted 18/4/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Another Visit To The Comedy
    Last night Mr S Hewitt came round to The Rehearsal Studio (hem hem) to continue our EXTREME DILIGENCE in readying Moon Horse for public consumption. It was an EXCELLENT practice, not even SLIGHTLY marred by the fact that SOMEONE forgot to bring the guitar with him. It's not important who it was, and anyway, he'd been harrassed all day by PRINTERS trying to get them to JUST BLOODY PRINT the flyers for Edinburgh. PRINTERS! If they're not being PERNICKETY about CMYK and RGB they're being BLOODY MINDED about BLEEDS. Would it not save them YEARS of man-hours if they just invented a machine that PRINTED WHAT YOU TOLD IT TO, rather than having to mess around with all sorts of nonsense just in case it didn't? Has 561 years of development not got THAT far yet?

    ANYWAY, with our rehearsing done we retired to the PUB, where we were joined by The Ink In My Inkjet and, after a delightful CONFLAB, we bade farewell to Steve and HOPPED into a taxi (GLAMOUR!) to head off to see a comedy night at The Kings Place, a new SUPER SWANKY venue just behind Kings Cross. It was POSHALICIOUS - it reminded me of The Barbican Centre, with all the rooms and that, but very much a 21st Century version, like a HOTEL rather than a CAR PARK.

    Actually, maybe that's the main change in public buildings between the 70s and now - they USED to build them to look as much like car parks as POSSIBLE, now everything looks like a HOTEL. Can i have PhD now please?

    We were there to see Jim'll's Brain, who we hadn't seen for AGES - we later discovered he had taken a year OFF to move house and to re-appraise his ACT. The most visible change was some SPARKLY TROUSERS, otherwise he was as GRATE as ever. My favourite part was when, having done three FUNNY songs, he finished with a stark honest song about mental breakdown. It was AMAZING - even the Incredibly Annoying Woman Who Shrieked At EVERYTHING shut up by the end, and yet he did it with such JOY and CHARM everyone loved him all the more for it. ACE!

    Some of the rest of the evening was not QUITE as ACE - but we shall draw a VEIL for politeness sake, except perhaps to say what IS it with comedians and people's jobs? They are OBSESSED with what people do for a living - nearly EVERY comedy gig i have EVER been to has involved at LEAST one act asking people in the audience what jobs they do. WHY DO YOU WANT TO KNOW? Also: WHO CARES? I thought I was going to a COMEDY GIG not a JOB FAIR. The compere asked ME this time and it was all perfectly amicable and everything but REALLY - who gives a toss? I can't help thinking that there must be a BETTER way to start an evening of comedy than an uncomfortable 10-15 minutes checking how many people in the room work with computers. Some JOKES maybe?

    Apologies to anybody who has ever spoken to me before, after or during a comedy night, i am aware that i SAY this all the time, but that is because it HAPPENS all the time. SO ANYWAY the rest of the night was a bit of a mixed bag but one BLOODY EXCELLENT thing that happened was that i FINALLY got to see Kunt And The Gang in the LIVE ARENA. I've known OF him for YEARS, via B3ta and especially Kooba Radio, but have always been a bit SNIFFY. "Oh, it's just someone being rude and outrageous for the sake of it, not my cup of tea at all" i would think, but OH HOW WRONG I WAS. I mean, he WAS very rude and "outrageous", but he did it in such a delightful, friendly way, he just came across as LOVELY. When someone's singing about assisted suicide for their grandmother and you're thinking "He seems like a nice chap" he is obviously doing SOMETHING right, tho I'm not sure what it is. We LARFED a GRATE deal, and now I just feel sorry for the years of not finding out how HILARIOUS he was.

    So yes, all in all a pretty good night out - and pretty much the POSHEST feeling gig i have ever been to! Well done everybody, well done!

    posted 15/4/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Wonderful Wednesday is GO!
    A very Merry Monday to one and all! If you're reading this via the main webpage you will hopefully have noticed that we've had a bit of an old REDESIGN. This is to celebrate the availability of Wonderful Wednesday from all MANNER of download stories, including iTunes and of course directly from us via our bandcamp page (where you can LIVE STREAM it for FREE too!).

    Unlike the PHYSICAL RELEASE from last month, you don't get a BADGE with these versions, but you do at least get the correct running order! It's a lovely little album, I reckon, which came out surprisingly CONCEPTUAL... with the concept LARGELY being "Goodness me but I'm a bit fed up of having to go to work, can I stay at home instead?" Do have a listen if you have time - I'm not going to do any BIG PUBLICITY for that one as there's MORE than enough coming up later in the year that'll require it, but if you fancy passing it on to other people via blogs or twitter or, you know, THE PUB, I would be most grateful!

    posted 11/4/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Bands For Japan
    I found myself once more heading South and West after work on Friday, for balmy Brixton where Damnably were running a Bands For Japan night at The Windmill, in aid of... well, Japan, really.

    I arrived just in time to see More Band Times aka George of Damnably (and Former Utopia) and Chiara. I've known George for MANY years and gigged with him MANY times but I think this was my MOST FAVOURITE time i have EVER seen him, for LO! it was the GEORGIEST gig i have ever seen him do i.e. LOVELY, also FRIENDLY and FUNNY and just all round ACE. This was probably helped by the inclusion of Chiara and songs like "Those Trainers Are Fucking Crazy", but whatever it was led to my wandering around with a big GRIN for the rest of the evening.

    There were other delights too, not least the first band in the MAIN room i saw (whose name began with K, but I can't remember the rest - the event was sponsored by ASAHI, of which there were SEVERAL free samples for bands...) who were DRUMS and... well, it looked sort of like a GIGANTIC WOODEN BAGPIPE, but it was more of a DISMEMBERED CHURCH ORGAN. It was AMAZING - look!

    wooden bagpipes!

    I had a chat to the chap afterwards, who a) described it as a WOODEN SYNTHESISER and b) said "it's all to do with resonant frequencies". I felt that it was a GRATE SHAME that Dr Neil Brown had not been there to see it!

    I wandered about a bit, watched "No Cars" who were GRATE, then went in and watched Rebekah Delgado with her STRING SECTION, which was ALSO GRATE. They were playing in the same room as George had, also that i WOULD, which was the tiny little SHED on the side of the actual pub. It was a lovely little room, dead cosy, and was indeed a lovely NIGHT. At one point I stood outside in the warm glow of an early evening at the end of a glorious sunny day, listening to the hubbub within, drinking cold lager, and it felt like being on HOLIDAY.

    Then I went inside and helped to put out a FIRE that had broken out. THAT'S RIGHT: HEROISM. The cigarette butt collector was AFLAME, a nice Spanish (i think) lady had got a pint of water and was FLICKING it at the smoke. I LEAPT IN and POURED water in instead. I don't expect MEDALS or anything. The knowledge of a building saved is the only reward I require.

    Once Rebekah had finished I was asked to CRACK ON with my set - there were MANY bands to get on - so did exactly that. There was a microphone set up in the shed, but I reasoned that this was totally unnecessary, so ESCHEWED it. Also I had been telling everybody else they didn't need it, so it would have been RUDE if I had gone against my own much proferred advice. I did THIS:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • The Gay Train
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • Now, sometimes I do gigs and think "That was perfectly ably performed. Well done everybody, a job done to acceptable standards." Sometimes I think "Oh dear. You have let yourself down, you have let the audience down, and you have LET ROCK DOWN." And then there are OTHER times when I think, just for a moment, "You know what? Give me a small room and 10-20 people and i will TAKE ON ALL-COMERS!"

    Or to put it another way, i had a WHALE of a time and I think the people who'd ventured into the shed quite enjoyed it too. We did a LOT of joining in - when you're that close together it's hard not to - and my FAVOURITE bit was right at the start, when we all called out in unison "It's Starting! Come On In!" It didn't get any more people IN or anything, but it was all rather beautiful, and set the tone for a singalongy twenty minutes or so in the company of delightful people. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and, as I say, felt some PRIDE in my performance. I think small rooms with an intimate selection of friendly people are when i am at my BEST. Why, it's almost as if little rooms and small audiences is the kind of area I have done MOST of my gigs in!

    Towards the end my friend Ms S Jenkins arrived with her COUSIN and so i got to spend most of the rest of the evening sat out back, drinking beer and having a bit of an old CHAT. MAN ALIVE, is their anything better than sitting out the back of a pub in lovely weather, having a chat with your PALS? It's the sort of thing that I reckon could CATCH ON!

    It was a GRATE night out all round, and I was very pleased to discover they raise eight hundred and fifty quid from it - crikey! that's not bloody bad is it? Charity AND a good gig AND a lovely evening? I've got to do MORE of these sort of things!

    posted 10/4/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Brand Extension
    Sorry for the lack of BLOGS this week, i have been otherwise engaged EXTENDING my various BRANDS!

    After the LOVELINESS of Totally Acoustic the other night I had e DELIGHTFUL morning on Wednesday doing the Podcast, which is very much available to download now. It is a thing of JOY!

    There's only two more to go for this series, but i've ALREADY got a too-long list of people I'm going to ask for the NEXT series. I'm not sure when that'll be - maybe around Christmas, maybe even in 2012 - but before then there will be a couple of Edinburgh Fringe Specials, for LO! I have BOOKED us for two shows during the Fringe on August 10th and 17th! HOOPLA! That nice Mr Buckley-Hill gave us two empty spots at the Buffs Club at 6.15pm and I've pretty much BOOKED the acts for it already. It's going to feature MANY veterans of past shows and, if I can get the software loaded onto my laptop, will be podcast WHILE we're there. MODERN! also, EXCITING - my only worry is if the act in the slot BEFOREHAND over-run. I understand they are RIGHT Divas...

    And talking of Moon Horse (for such it is), did I mention the SNAZZY new website what I have made? It is a bit SNAZZY - I sat myself down and decided to FINALLY learn how to do page layout using CSS, after being told for YEARS that "it's so much easier than using tables." It TOTALLY isn't, but DOES mean you can stick in some Faily Funky Features, which I did. You can also see this year's poster, which i think is ACE! I know, i know, you'd expect me to, but still. IT IS.

    If all this has made you ALMOST as excited as ME (which would be a LOT), rest assured I am working on ways to SATE this IMPULSE, as I am busily booking up our PREVIEWS. Yesterday I got not one but TWO gigs in Fragrant Lewisham sorted out, one to do a full preview and the other doing me and Steve's ROCK SET, which we'll be doing if anybody asks us to do a Short Set Somewhere. If anybody, by the way, would like us to do a Short Set somewhere, do let me know!

    Details of the GIGS are, as ever, over on gigs page - I've just got the WEST END PREVIEW to book and I think that's just about all sorted. Then I can go back to thinking about the Dinosaur Planet album, the SECRET Normal Island PROJECT and this idea for a new VIDEO I've had.

    I tell you what, I'm glad we've got all these Bank Holidays coming up, I reckon I'm going to need them!

    posted 8/4/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Totally Acoustic
    It was back to The Lamb last night for the latest episode of Totally Acoustic, where I was rather relieved to discover that the floor in the function room was no longer BROKEN. Last time there had been what appeared to be a TRAPDOOR appearing - apparently something had LEAKED and made the floor go SPROING. Leigh The Landlord showed me some photographs of WORK that had occurred, and I was VERY happy that it had been happening last week, not this!

    All of our acts arrived in a very timely fashion, though for some reason the audience mostly left it to the last minute - it was ODD, at 7.20pm the room was empty, ten minutes later it was FULL, in good time for me to go on and do THIS:
  • Totally Acoustic
  • Just One Finger
  • A Little Bit Excited
  • That Was Margaret Thatcher
  • Privatising Everything
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Easily Impressed

  • There was a LOT of new material in there, which made me a bit NERVOUS and forget-y. It all seemed to work OK tho - A Little Bit Excited and That Was Margaret Thatcher seemed to work particularly well in The Live Environment. I'd been a bit worried about doing SO MUCH that I'd not done before, so was DELIGHTED to find that there were LOADS of my "hits" that I'd not played in this series AND that had never been podcasted (and so would be back-ups for the podcast in case the new ones didn't work out) and so was able to offer consumers a CHOICE of which they'd like to hear. It was a RELIEF to be able to do them after the stress of new stuff - i don't know why Bands On Tour complain so much about doing the same songs every night, it's MUCH easier!

    After the break it was The Understudies, who came to the party WELL PREPARED. All four of them had different instruments, and swapped around SPEEDILY between and indeed DURING songs, with a variety of guitar, ukulele, shaker, tambourine, melodica and especially GLOCKENSPIEL in use. It sounded BEAUTIFUL - a really gorgeous balance of sounds (I know I'm always going on about the fact that instruments sound GRATE when played acoustically together because they're DESIGNED to be played that way, but it is TRUE) allied to some beautiful songs, and played excellently too. That may make it sound a bit DRY, but the very opposite is true - one of the most AURALLY PICTURESQUE sets of any run of Totally Acoustic, it was SPELLBINDING.

    As indeed, in a slightly different way, was Keith Top Of The Pops And His Minor UK Indie Celebrity Allstar Backing Band, who were playing a STRIPPED DOWN ACOUSTIC SET insomuch as there were only FOUR of them. Another thing I say because it is true is that Keith has a GRATE gimmick, which he uses to hide some BRILLIANT songs behind (i.e. people tend to be so busy going "Arf! There's nine guitarists!" to realise how ACE the actual songs are) but here he was EXPOSED to the world... and it sounded BLOODY LOVELY. The guitars all together sounded gorgeous, complimented by a wide range of VIOLIN SOLOES - violin players! none of them have ever succeeded in Pretending To Look Annoyed At Having To Do A Solo, they LOVE IT!

    It was a joy to behold, building up to a GRAND FINALE with special guests and EVERYTHING. The evening then largely DECAMPED downstairs where some of us stayed right up to nearly closing time. Some of us are feeling a little bit hungover this morning as a direct result, but HECK it was worth it, that was a GRATE night - now to sort out the podcast!

    posted 6/4/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Read Through
    The Trains On My Line and i headed out on Saturday afternoon for not very distant South Tottenham on Saturday, to attend that hallowed institution of Us Getting Ready For Edinburgh: THE READ THROUGH.

    I say "hallowed" - we did it last year, but it feels like an Exciting Part of the whole preparations, and THIS time it was even MORE exciting, as it was taking place at Hewitt Hall - where there is a CAT! ZANG!

    It was an DELIGHTFUL afternoon, even the bits that DIDN'T involve me and/or The Lines In My Script looking/stroking/gazing longingly at/planning to kidnap PUSKAS the cat. Oh, there were nibbles, there were drinks, and there was PHOTOGRAPHS! For LO! our first job of the day was to get our pictures taken, first a couple of SNAPS for one of the proposed Dinosaur Planet album EXTRAS ("Play In A Day The Dinosaur Way") and then the all important PUBLICITY PICS. As ever The Memory Card In My Digital Camera was on hand to take them, and I think they came out RATHER WELL - you can see for yourself over on the rather snazzy new Moon Horse website which I done make. NICE, isn't it?

    With that done, and more nibbles nibbled, we launched into the readthrough, performing the whole thing for Mrs M Hewitt and The Members Of My Audience, utilising nearly ALL of the PROPS for the first time. It seemed to go down pretty well - there were LARFS, there were ENCOURAGING SMILES, and at the end there was a lengthy discussion during which Many Excellent Points were made. The main thing was to make various aspects a bit CLEARER and to maybe TRIM some bits down, which I shall be attempting to sort out this week.

    It was a LOVELY afternoon all round, and as we wobbled off back to the Overground for home I couldn't help but feel a bit EXCITED about it. Moon Horse is on the way!

    posted 5/4/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Guitar Shop Shame
    At the otherwise ACE gig in Leeds on Sunday i had a bit of upsetment when my lovely little travel guitar refused to work when plugged into a DI box. This meant that on Tuesday I had to go off to Croydon with my NORMAL sized guitar, which felt suddenly HUGE, like i was lugging a DOUBLE BASS around with me. There's more non-acoustical gigs to come, so I thought I'd best go and get it sorted out as soon as possible.

    I checked the website of Wunjo Guitars, the DELIGHTFUL guitar shop where I'd got it from (or, rather, where The Stock In My Warehouse had bought it for me last year for my BIRFDAY) and arrived at ten past ten to find it... CLOSED! Their website said they opened at 10am, but here it was SHUT. I could see through the window a STAFF MEETINg going on, and didn't know what to do. As I stood there I could see people seeing ME, so did the I AM LOOKING AT MY WATCH thing in case anyone wanted to come and tell me they'd be open in a minute. No-one did, so what to do? I didn't really want to come back at lunchtime as i was Otherwise Engaged, but should I just stand here and wait? I decided to slope off round the corner for ten minutes to look in a BOOKSHOP, but when I got back the meeting was still going on.

    But it said on the website they were open at ten! I am VERY EASILY RILED by this sort of thing, and found myself transforming... transforming into SOMEONE A BIT MIDDLE CLASS. "Well!" i thought, looking at my watch AGANE. "Goodness! I am a valued customer don't you know! MY MY MY!"

    Don't make me mildy annoyed. You wouldn't like me when I'm mildly annoyed.

    It probably didn't help that i ALSO needed a WEE by now, so was hopping about anyway, and ended up GLARING through the window. GLARING, i tell you! I don't feel proud of this - the guy who owns the shop had his back to me, so had no idea that there were customers LURKING outside, some AS if not MORE Mildly Irate as/than me, and we've ALL been in Those Kind Of Meetings where ALMOST everyone is thinking "OH GOD LET IT END" but SOMEONE has a point they are absolutely determined to make.

    BUT eventually the meeting ended and they let us in. I went straight upstairs to the WORKSHOP (which by the way was BRILLIANT, like a proper WORKSHOP with soldering irons and CLAMPS and bits of WOOD and TOOLS and all sorts) where a very nice gentleman took a look at my guitar. "I think it's a connection to the jack plug", i explained "It'll probably just need a bit of solder." Imagine my IMMENSE JOY when that turned out to be EXACTLY what it was, and he fixed it IMMEDIATELY.

    Imagine ALSO my mild SHAME when I thanked him and walked back downstairs and through the shop at the people i had GLARED so CALLOUSLY at. I HAD been a bit annoyed but now felt slightly CHURLISH for being so. It's a whole lot of fun Getting A Bit Middle Class in posh shops where the staff are GITS or even in Department Stores, but here I felt like an OAF. On the way out I was moved to APOLOGISE for the GLARING to the manager, who didn't seem TOO devastated, i am relieved to say, but still. Going in guitar shops is STRESSFUL at the best of times, i think i may have made it even MORE so!

    posted 1/4/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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