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Blog Archive: August 2012

Towards A Total Hero Team
Earlier on this summer I spent quite a while working on next year's Fringe show, which is now pretty definitely going to be called "Total Hero Team". I put it to one side about five weeks ago so that I could apply my BRANE wholeheartedly to the Dinosaur Planet live revival, but was MUSING about it whilst on holiday and have this week returned to the actual WRITING. It's been going quite well!

The weird thing about returning to the show after a few weeks away is almost being able to read it like it was done by someone else - and thus thinking "What on earth is THIS for? Why did he think THIS was funny? And how did the TUNE go for this one?" This latter has been especially fun as it means I've gone back and provided MUCH BETTER tunes for some of the lyrics - this was partly inspired by seeing Mr G Osborn at Green Man and thinking "Yes! Songs with HOOKS and GOOD BITS, that is the way forward!"

Most excitingly, the PLOT has started to gently slot together - and is starting to make SENSE. Again, this has been a bit weird as it turns out that a LOT of the MAIN points I'd originally thought of turn out to be ENTIRELY WRONG. The ENTIRE ENDING, I realised this week, completely goes against the entire THRUST of the show, and the more I looked at it the more I saw that I actually needed to have the OPPOSITE thing happen.

Another big change has been in the relationship between the two main characters - I was explaining the PLOT to The Words In My Story while we were on holiday (yes, she IS a very lucky woman, it is TRUE) and she stated some FIRM OPINIONS about the fact that they were Father and Son - why did that have to be the case? Not all fathers and sons even get ON, let alone try to pass on their entire IDENTITY, why should THAT be something to promote? In the original plot the MANTLE of a hero name is passed down in this way, and I saw that, again, this was against everything the story was about, so i AGREED with her, and CHANGED it. Now they're a pub landlord and top regular, and they both stay as they were. MUCH better!

Apologies if all this sounds a bit VAGUE and/or UNHELPFUL - if it's any help, that's exactly what it's been like in my HEAD these past few weeks! Now though the script is very nearly reaching the point where there are no GAPS - these are places where the dialogue stops, there's a paragraph that says "INTERLUDE: Something brilliant happens with Total Hero Team that leads into the finale, and has a GRATE CHORUS", then the dialogue gets going again. "Wandering Scenes" (usually things I thought would be AMUSING but didn't know where to put them) are being PINNED DOWN, and I've even managed to SHOE-HORN in a couple of OLD songs - something which I wanted to do in BOTH the previous shows, but never quite got round to.

It is, as I say, all terribly exciting and GOOD FUN too. With any luck I'll have this first draft finished in the next week or so... after which I'll probably change it all again and CUT OUT half of the "jokes" ready for the second version, and then do it all again once we have a read through. Still, it's getting close to the first big MILESTONE in what, hopefully, will be taking up large chunks of the next year. In the words of one of the lead characters: "Good eh?"

posted 30/8/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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The Sheffield Pop Weekender
Yesterday I headed up to Sheffield once more, for the The Sheffield Pop Weekender. There's already been a club night on Saturday and an ELECTRICAL gig on Sunday, I was heading over for the Acoustical All-Dayer in The Rutland Arms.

First, however, I needed to check into the Ibis (USUAL SUITE) and then popped to a pub nearby there to meet Ms S Jenkins for a) beer b) NATTER. We got onto THE OLYMPICS and thus slightly more beer than predicted was required, which MAY explain why I spent the next 20 minutes trying to get from the Roebuck Tavern to The Rutland Arms - it's about a five minute walk normally but I got HOPELESSLY LOST and ended up, I think, going round in a massive circle TWICE.

EVENTUALLY I got to the pub to find a PACKED room enjoying the end of The Sunbathers (who were doing a song about why nobody writes songs about living in the East Midlands!) and then to watch Owl And Mouse, who were ACE. There was beer, there was DISCUSSION, also HUGS, and then it was time for The Bobby McGees. I was on after them, and KNEW that they're ALWAYS a hard act to follow ... but this time they not ONLY pulled out all the stops for a GRATE show, but halfway through Jimmy said "It's ten years to the day since me and Eleanor played our first gig... so I thought this would be a good time to ask her to marry me." AND THEN DID!

Everyone sat there a bit stunned - was this STAGECRAFT we wondered, but NO! It was all entirely real and DELIGHTFUL - she did say yes! - and LO! there was much cheering and HALLOOING before the finished off the set. It was AMAZING!!

"Follow that!" I thought to myself, as I set off for the bar to get my In-Gig PINT. "Follow that!" said Mr P Green, and about TEN OTHER PEOPLE in the space of two minutes. I got the message! Here's what I did to attempt to fulfil my duty:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • Don't, Darren, Don't
  • Strangely Attractive
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • Hey Hey 16K
  • The Gay Train
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • It all went EVER so well - well, apart from about halfway through when I thought it would be a good idea to involve everyone in a heated discussion about Which Star Trek Series Was Best, despite nobody even MENTIONING it or, really, wanting to talk about it that much. Otherwise it turned into a bit of a SINGALONG. I was stunned to find that nearly everyone there knew ALL of the words to MOST of the songs - which was very helpful, as the long afternoon of Fine BEER meant I did forget a couple of bits. I'm sure nobody noticed!

    It was ACE, and I ended up getting over-excited and doing a THREE SONG Request-led ENCORE, and managed to finish by half-nine, which allowed for another HOUR of sitting around downstairs with a huge mob of DELIGHTFUL people, YAKKING.

    It was a fantastic day out for all concerned, really, and a huge feat of organisation to have it STILL be working to time on Day Three. Do it again next year chaps, GO ON!

    posted 28/8/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Crickhowell Adventures
    After a FAST-FLYING and FUN weekend at Green Man myself and The Days Of My Week settled into a kind of routine for the rest of our hols in The Charming Brecon Beacons, which seemed to involve a WALK, an ACTIVITY and BEER every day. It's the kind of routine one can fall into very happily indeed.

    THUS on the Monday we had a walk down and along a nearby CANAL, which featured a visit to a Disappointing Pub followed by a sit down by the Bloody Lovely River Usk, with can of BEER and some Pringles. It was a PICNIC. On the way back we took a shortcut through Crickhowell's churchyard and found that the Church was proudly OPEN. This was such an amazing thing (they're usually LOCKED UP) we went inside for a look, and LOVED it. My favourite thing was a memorial plaque on one wall from hundreds of years ago which started off with all the letters BIG and spaced out, but then had to make them about half size and rammed together at the very bottom to fit everything in. We have ALL done that at some point!

    Next day we had an excursion into Abergavenny - I must admit our INTENT was just to go to WAITROSE, but we ended up having a right proper day out. We went for a look at the Castle which was AMAZING - HUGE! IMPRESSIVE! Fully Annotated! - then took a trip a little less far back in time to the Indoor Market. We were both ZOOMED back to our youths, when we'd visit similar affairs near our homes, and it struck me that a market like this is a fantastic thing when you're a child. Once a week WEIRD THINGS become easily available, like a visit from a world of different possibilities. In this instance I had to TEAR myself away from a stall selling unboxed Action Figures of Wrestlers, at only three quid each. BARGAINS!

    We did get to Waitrose in the end, which turned out to be a LONG way away, but were rewarded with a) a lot of Convenience Food b) an unexpected RIVER WALK back to town, after which we went to The Swan Hotel, possibly my favourite pub of the whole week. It was VERY old fashioned - not in a Purposeful Show-Off way, but just looked like not much had changed since the 1960s, with plastic seating half full of regulars and a proper Friendly Enough Barman enjoying a (actually very funny) chat with another regular on a stool. The whole of the holiday was a bit like that, as if we'd stepped back in time 20 years to when people still went on UK holidays. I really REALLY liked it.

    Wednesday took us on our BIG EXPEDITION up Table Mountain. It was EXHAUSTING but INCREDIBLE when we got to the top, with views for zillions of miles, and it enabled us to POINT at it for the rest of the week, saying "Bloody hell! We went all the way up THERE!" In the evening we had our second trip to the MAGNIFICENT Beer Garden at the Bridge End Inn, where we sat in the glorious early evening sunshine listening to the river, waving at the AndyLoos lorries taking the Green Man toilets back to their homes far away. It was a beautiful spot, and you could watch the other people arriving, sitting down, and just GAZING at the wonder before them. I liked it a LOT!

    On our last full day we went round The Local Shops - another Old Fashioned Aspect of Crickhowell was that the A40 runs RIGHT through the middle of it. When I was little I remember going to Cornwall with an I-Spy Book, thinking "Why does it keep saying things like 'How Many Butchers Can You See'? Those are in TOWNS surely?" for even then BYPASSES were being used, so it was odd to see a major road that STILL went through a town. Apart from the busy traffic and slight WHIFF of exhaust fumes you could see the benefits though - this was a small town that could support two chip shops, two barbers (one with three DOGS constantly asleep in its window), two galleries, a book shop, at least five PUBS and a whole host of Other Local Shops. The only real chain was a BOOTS, in fact - it felt like being in an early 70s Costume Drama or something.

    Having supported The Local Economy (i.e. MORE BOOZE) we set off on another walk to a nearby Nature Reserve. The walk up Table Mountain had been done via a handy GUIDE, which was JUST the sort I enjoy i.e. very precise, also ACCURATE, so you never feel like you're getting lost. THIS time we just used a low quality MAP in a LEAFLET and so were in constant fear of going the wrong way, not least when we spent 20 minutes clambering up a SHEER ROCK FACE. I was VERY worried - the Very Unclear PAMPHLET said "The easiest route to the Nature Reserve is via the old tram lines" and the pile of RUBBLE we climbed up, which was at LEAST a 60 degree angle, sure LOOKED that way, but when we finally reached the top there was no sign AT ALL that we'd got to the right place... until The Degrees In My Gradient said "Oh look - a park bench."

    And LO! there was a park bench! Sat on this five minutes later we heard voices, so I went to talk to an Older Couple who'd come the same way. I was relieved to have them confirm that it WAS the tram lines we'd all climbed, but slightly ashamed to find them hardly out of puff compared to my SWEAT DRENCHED state, and also to see they had Proper Boots, Ordnance Survey Maps and A Clear Idea What They Were Doing. I felt like a prat with a pamphlet, but they very kindly pointed an easier direction home, so we took a MOUNTAIN PATH back... all the way to the Bridge End Beer Garden, in fact!

    And that was that - next day we packed up and took a taxi, two trains and two tubes home, amazed to find ourselves back in Leytonstone just four hours after leaving our cottage in the mountains. The whole holiday had begun as a convenient way to avoid camping at a music festival, but turned into a marvellous ADVENTURE full of surprises, fun, and beer. It's a model of festival going I'd hope to return to in future too - it was GRATE!

    posted 27/8/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    More Green Man
    The Saturday morning of Green Man festival found us making life EASY. The Beer In My Pint Glass bought herself a COLLAPSIBLE SEAT in Crickhowell and we got a TAXI to the festival, two things which we were grateful for all day long. We got there just in time to see the AMAZING Mr Ben Moor, who I haven't seen for TOO long. He did his "A Supercollider For The Family" show, which was ENGROSSING. also HILARIOUS and BEAUTIFUL. I was still thinking about parts of it a week later, it was GORGEOUS, and we were very excited to be told he has a whole NEW show almost ready to start trialling. HOORAH!

    The rest of the afternoon was spent seeing RM Hubbert (whose act was very nearly INDISTINGUISHABLE from mine, hem hem, you can see why people get confused NB actually it wasn't, but was SMASHING), Mr Robin Ince, Scritti Politti (who must be applauded for clearly thinking "SOD IT - if we're doing HITS from The 80's let's go the whole hog and make them sound PROPERLY 80's") and bits and bobs of others. The big hit of the late afternoon, however, was the discovery of our SPECIAL AREA. It was a piece of grass near to The Far Out Stage, between a BAR and a CHIP STALL where nobody else seemed to want to stand. We spent a LOT of the weekend there, sat on collapsible chairs/the ground nattering, drinking, and generally watching the festival go by. LOVELY.

    We finished off our day with the ever magnificent Mr Gavin Osborn. I've seen him load of times in small rooms (usually with ME playing too) but never here, in his natural environment, on the comedy stage at a festival. He was AWESOME - there was a TONNE of brilliant new songs, as well as cracking versions of ones I know well. It is always wonderful seeing someone at the PEAK of their GAME, WOWING a crowd, and we saw this ESPECIALLY when he started to do "Albert Went Out To See Rock Bands" . I was worried when he started - this was a festival! People had come for comedy! There was some CHAT at the back - was this REALLY the right thing to do? Wouldn't people DISENGAGE? Oh foolish Hibbett! By the end of the song the massive tent was SILENT, hanging on the beautiful end of the story, and we had the sound of a couple of hundred people SIGHING with HAPPINESS at the payoff. As I say, MAGNIFICENT!

    Sunday started with PANIC, as our taxi was late in arriving and we thought we were going to miss Being 747 doing "The Clockwork Universe." As luck would have it, however, they TOO got delayed so we got there just in time and it was MARVELLOUS. Having seen their previous show "Ameoba To Zebra" several times it felt odd NOT to know what was coming next, but it was another excellent ROMP, this time through the history of science, with slightly less ENORMOUS PROPS...but still quite a few of them! They ALSO are off to Edinburgh again next year - 2013 is already looking GRATE!

    We had one of the highlights of the weekend shortly afterwards, when the PARADE came through featuring about 30 kids banging drums, some hippies leading them in PERCUSSION and some HUGE PUPPETS. It was FAB! We also saw "John Peel's Shed" (which we'd wanted to see ages ago at Edinburgh), Robin Ince again (this time doing some JAZZ JAMMING with a fantastic SCRATCH BAND, DADDIO), and the excellent Jonathan Richman. I got to do some ADMIN too (sorting out payment and visiting the MERCH stall), but again most of our time was spent in our SPECIAL AREA, this time listening from a distance to the likes of Friends and Beth Jeans Houghton, occasionally saying "Ooh, I think this is the hit!"

    The whole weekend went by AMAZINGLY quickly, and was fantastic throughout. We had an absolutely lovely time - the prepondence of CHILDREN makes it a very friendly festival with a distinct lack of Outright Naughtiness or AGGRESSION, and it was just the right SIZE too, with plenty to see and do but never too far to walk. We also managed to not see a single band on the main stage!

    We said our farewells and headed off to our taxi, ready for a relaxing rest of week, and hoping to one day come back. Green Man: BLOODY GRATE!

    posted 26/8/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Dinosaur Planet At Green Man
    The Moisture In My Mud and I set off last Thursday for a GRATE ADVENTURE, which would feature Mountains, The Green Man Festival, and quite a lot of pubs. It all began with a night in Abergavenny, which somewhat to my surprise was ACE. We had a LOVELY B&B (Blorenge View, we HEARTILY recommend it) and spent a fab night in local PUBS drinking local a) beer b) WHISKY (Penderyn, it was NICE) also CURRY, and when we got home Christine The Landlady had waited up to check we were OK. Next morning she made us breakfast too, it was GRATE.

    On Friday morning we got a taxi to Crickhowell, the village we were going to be staying in for the week. We couldn't get into our cottage until later, so left our suitcases round the corner in an OUTHOUSE belonging to the person we were renting from, then headed off to the festival site. I'd read online that it was only about a 20-30 minute walk to the estate and had heard rumours of a SHORT-CUT via the river, so when we found a sign saying "Footpath To Green Man" we took it with Glee. This would be easy!

    IT WAS NOT EASY!! We were carrying the bag of costumes (LARGE), Mr Squish (big green dinosaur), two rucksacks of STUFF (inc. Merchandise) and a guitar across what soon became VERY MUDDY TERRAIN in the POURING rain. It wasn't an awful lot of fun, and it took us nearly an HOUR AND A HALF to SCHLEP round to the Artist's Box Office. Things weren't helped by someone saying "Nearly there!" about 40 minutes in, but they WERE helped by the fact that we'd found time to buy some WELLIES from Leytonstone Homebase the morning before coming. MAN ALIVE but we were grateful for those wellies!

    EVENTUALLY myself and The Shelter From My Storm got our wrist bands and made our way to The Solar Stage, where we were VERY happy to discover that the backstage area was a TENT where we could shelter, and I could WRING OUT my t-shirt - not from rain, but from SWEAT. It had been a LONG hard trek!

    Mr S Hewitt had camped the night before, and when he arrived things started to improve. I got some BEER, bumped into Mr J-B From Carter, and it was soon SHOWTIME.

    I'd been REALLY worried about how this would work, but actually it turned out BLOODY GRATE! We did the new improved (shortened) version of Dinosaur Planet and by jiminy it WORKED. To be honest I had an inkling it might beforehand, when I heard a small boy singing "Theme From" in the TOILETS, and throughout we had a rank of 6-7 similar small children paying VERY CLOSE ATTENTION to the story, and occasionally SINGING ALONG. A large adult crowd came along, apparently on PURPOSE, and STAYED (helped by the rain, for the most part, holding off, tho one small child DID get hilariously DRENCHED [NB he thought so too] when the stage covering tipped onto him) and all through I could see people dashing over to see what was going on. It was HUGE fun - even the Van Morrison Guest Star NEW BIT - and we were both VERY HAPPY with it. HOORAH!

    Afterwards there was time for Merch Sales (which went so well i SOLD OUT of CDs and even flogged a couple of t-shirts!!) which was especially nice as people were sending their TODDLERS over with fivers to buy stuff, and also some PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES, before going for some more restorative BEER. I had thought about staying to see Dexy's but i was KNACKERED and the weather was HORRID, so we decided to head back to the cottage for the evening.

    This turned out to be a GOOD IDEA - I'd been somewhat afeared that we might have to WALK again with all the gear, but as we exited the site I saw a TAXI pulling up dropping someone else off. "Could you possibly take us back to Crickhowell?" I asked, and LO! like an HANSOM ANGEL he said "Of course!"

    It was MAGICAL, and soon we were IN out cottage - very nice, if somewhat upside down in layout, and also fully kitted out with A MILLION HAND WRITTEN NOTES from the owner ("Do not put glasses in dishwasher", "Wipe window shelf with cloth", "Firmly pull flush", that sort of thing) where we both WASHED before heading out for Light Shopping and BEER.

    It was a marvellous end to an EXHAUSTING yet SUCCESSFUL day. There was more ACTION to come though!

    posted 25/8/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Out Of Office
    You find me this afternoon in a state of HIGH PANIC, for LO! The Grass In My Field and I are off to The Green Man Festival this morning, and it's all a bit COMPLEX. I've been dashing around trying to get TWO seperate Work Jobs into a position to present to two different bosses, while doing Warm-Up shows (SEE PREVIOUS YAKS) and preparing for a two centre holiday AND a trip to a festival site to do a gig.

    My head, it is SWIMMING. I'm going to need a a) holiday b) BEER pretty soon, so it's pretty handy that that's going to happen. First tho we have to lug two suitcases, a guitar, a big box of props, wet weather wear and MR SQUISH all the way to ABERGAVENNY!

    If you're about at the festival do come and see us if you can't won't you? We're on in Einstein's Garden at 2.45pm on Friday, then I hope to be gently staggering about for the rest of the weekend, before spending the following week RELAXING. We're back in London town next Friday, so I'll let you know how it all went when I get back.

    Don't forget to water the plants while I'm away, check the cat isn't trapped anywhere, leave the telly switched on (I'm taping stuff), and see you soon!

    posted 16/8/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Cultural Croydon
    I arrived in Croydon last night on a lovely Summer's evening and wandered through to The Cultural Quarter. Croydon's one of those places which is TERRIFICALLY EASY to slag off, but like HULL (for example) it's usually a brilliant place with a THRIVING community of people DOING STUFF and immense local pride in what it is. It is, basically, pretty GRATE.

    I thus strolled down lanes and back streets until I reached St Matthew's Yard, wherein I met with Mr T Eveleigh to spend a couple of hours recording his show for Croydon Radio. We had a MARVELLOUS time - REMAKRS were made, several SONGS were sung, and we even got TWEETS from people, proving we had listeners! Hopefully it'll be up in a couple of days as a podcast, so you too will be able to hear why Tim must now be referred to, glamorously, as Twinkle Eveleigh, and why he LOVE USB STICKS SO MUCH. You wouldn't want to miss out on that, right?

    We ambled round the corner to the Green Dragon where we found Mr S Hewitt ready to ROCK. We'd booked in for Tim's regular Freedom Of Expression night so we could have another go at some Dinosaur Planet songs, this time with MICROPHONES. We managed to get ourselves put on SECOND and this is what we did:
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet (overture)
  • Don't, Darren, Don't
  • A Little Bit
  • The Battle Of Peterborough
  • Strangely Attractive
  • Dinosaurs Talk Like Pirates
  • My Grandad Is Nuts
  • Please Don't Eat Us
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • OH but we had a WHALE of a time! It's always good fun doing these songs, but it's even MORE so when you're freed from The Tyranny Of Narrative and can just LARK AROUND a bit, which we did quite a lot. It all went SO well, in fact, that we thought "SOD IT" and finished off with an unplanned version of "Boom Shake The Room". It was ACE.

    Also ACE was the presence of Mr Ben Cosh, who went on last. He was GRATE - funny, charming, MOVING, and all round BRILLIANT. It turns out he used to run his own Open Mic night (where he first met Tim... sorry, Twinkle) and you could SEE the EXPERIENCE in his act, especially when, in order to QUELL some people talking loudly at the back of the room, he stepped off the stage and sang a LULLABY completely unamplified. It was wonderful!

    And so we hugged our goodbyes (having tried to BERATE Ms J Lockyer into doing a Fringe show next year - this MUST HAPPEN) and headed off for another farewell at the train station, with me heading to London Bridge and Steve to Victoria. Next time we meet it will be in WALES, where it's possible we could be faced with the biggest single audience this show has ever had. YIKES!

    posted 15/8/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Return To Camden
    I arrived bright and early at The Camden Head to attend a TECH RUN for that evening's REVIVAL of Dinosaur Planet. As I believe I MAY HAVE MENTIONED we're doing it at the Green Man Festival on Friday (2.45pm in Einstein's Garden, do come along if you're about) so SENSIBLY decided to book ourselves a WARM-UP show at The Camden Fringe.

    The venue Tech Guy was VERY insistent on us attending a tech run - I told him we only needed to turn a light on and off, but he was determined that things be done CORRECTLY, even RINGING me on Sunday to remind me, and so I dutifully trooped off to attend the instruction session. I had snobbishly been saying "It's just turning a light on and off" but WHAT A FOOL i had been for LO! you don't switch it on and off: It's a SLIDER.

    Duly chastened I sat downstairs while Mr S Hewitt went to get himself a Festival Phone for the weekend, then we went over the road to one of my FAVOURITE Indian Restaurants, The Maharani. Which was closed... so we popped down the road for a Quick Beer in The Wheelbarrow and got back to find it open and providing DELICIOUS food. OOOH, it really is good, tho it did lead to some BURPING later on in the show. BURPING.

    There was a gently flow of DELIGHTFUL people into the pub when we got back, even including some people we didn't KNOW, and soon it was time to LEAP into action. The odd thing about doing this show again after 18 months is that it didn't feel odd AT ALL. I guess Dinosaur Planet has remained SUCH a large part of my life in Other Media since then that it felt like we'd never really stopped. This version is slightly TRIMMED, with some characters and dialogue removed to make it flow better, and by golly it seemed to work. When I sat down to write Moon Horse i was determined NOT to have the occasional LULLS which the original version of Dinosaur Planet had had, and this NEW version felt very much in the same VEIN. It felt, strangely enough, like a continuation of the adventures of Mr G Livingstone and friends, in many ways.

    There were a couple of STUMBLES, and it could be argued that, of the NEW GAGS, The Van Morrison Interlude MAY have been unwise, but apart from that it seemed to go pretty well. We've already had THE REVIEWS in, from the Camden New Journal, who said:
    A very silly but charming & fun musical from @MJHibbett that questions just where dinosaurs disappeared to. Could giant robots be involved?

    It's a TWEET review, hence the @, and one I am very happy with!

    Afterwards we had another pint and a chat, then as I was about to head off Steve suggested that, as we were launching ourselves into Pretend Edinburgh (we'd been FLYERED before and after the gig, had got REVIEWS, and were off to spend a weekend watching comedy and drinking BEER) that REALLY we should end the evening with a WHISKY. He was ENTIRELY correct, and so we did.

    Next stop is CROYDON, tonight at The Green Dragon, where we're doing A Song Selection, and then - EEK! - we're off to WALES on Thursday evening ready for the BIG GIG. I hope GLANUSK is ready for DINOSAURS!

    posted 14/8/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    We Went To The Olympics!
    We went to the OLYMPICS on Saturday and it was GRATE!

    What, you need more detail? Well, it was basically like St Pancras Station i.e. something very British yet ACTUALLY GOOD, with everything done REALLY NICELY and ACE. Getting in was extraordinarily simple, EVERYONE was HUGELY FRIENDLY, there was almost no advertising AT ALL and everything was LOVELY. We had a wander round marvelling at the MEADOWS full of flowers everywhere, then went into the HOCKEY which was FANTASTIC. It felt a bit weird to be at a sporting event and NOT be singing Slightly Rude/Naughty Songs, but I soon got used to it and was thus SHOCKED when we heard one of the players using some Non-Olympian Language.

    The whole afternoon was just GORGEOUS tho - right at the end, as we left the ENORMOUS (it's HUGE!) Olympic Park we saw a young lad on security. I'm used to seeing similar young lads on security at big events looking BORED and slightly AGGRESSIVE, engaging with people only to SCOWL, but here he had a giant pink HAND that he was WAVING at everyone with a HUGE GRIN, occasionally using a megaphone to say "BYE!" and "THANK YOU!" It was WONDERFUL!

    We'd WALKED to the arena and thus hadn't used the Zones 1-9 Travelcards that had come with our tickets, so I asked one of the other MANY Nice Young People who were Games Maker Volunteers if we could use them on our Javelin. MAN, I already MISS being somewhere FULL of Cheerful Volunteers who are happy to help with ANYTHING. She said we COULD so The Trains On My Track and I went to Stratford International and caught a JAVELIN to St Pancras... then crossed the platform and came straight back again. It took 15 minutes and was MAGIC!!

    Our Olympic Trip ended with us stood in Tap East (where ever-hopeful bar staff were trying to persuade people of all nations that they might like MILD) both watching Mo Farrah win the 5,000 metres, surrounding by a crowd which grew bigger and LOUDER the closer he got to the end. WE SHOUTED! A LOT!

    Sunday found me on Birdcage Walk with Mr P Myland, watching THE MARATHON. Mileage had some running friends with him too, one of who was following the rest of the race on his phone, so we became an INFORMATION POINT for various people, including a couple from Kenya and Belgium and, most exotic of all, some POSH PEOPLE! WHO SPOKE TO US!!

    I had to dash off at the end, so found myself walking through a Parliament Square RAMMED with THOUSANDS of happy, smiling British people, enjoying the Summer Sunshine and cheering on athletes they'd never heard of. It was GLORIOUS.

    I even did some SPORT later, as we met with various FAMILY for some ROWING in Leytonstone. We then went to see the film "Ted", which was a bit odd. It was the first thing I'd watched in weeks that WASN'T an incredibly moving evocation of the human spirit. It was just sort of all right.

    And then we watched the closing ceremony which was... well, exactly what everyone expected the Opening Ceremony to be. Like "Ted" it would probably have been better if it wasn't being compared to the AMAZING fortnight of wonderful, exciting, BEAUTIFUL events, stories and people that we'd just enjoyed.

    And now we've got a fortnight to a) recover b) get in some extra HANKIES, for LO! PARALYMPICS next!!

    posted 13/8/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Merchant Ivory Pints
    Me and Mr S Hewitt had what turned out to be our FINAL Dinosaur Planet rehearsal after work yesterday - we were going to have another on Sunday, but IT WENT SO WELL we decided we didn't need to. HA! Take THAT, rehearsal schedules!

    BOUYED UP by our success we headed off to OLYMPIA for the Great British Beer Festival. I hadn't been since the LAST time it was at Olympia, and was commenting to Steve as we arrived that it looked like being a MASS PARADE of CAMRA STEREOTYPES. "No no", he said, worthily, "I'm sure it won't..."

    And then we looked around us. As far as the eye could see there were BEER BELLIES, also Utility Waistcoats, Beer-based t-shirts, FACIAL TOPIARY, grey hair and GENTLEMEN of a specific age and demeanour. If this had been the cast for extras for a TV Detective Show SET at a CAMRA event you would have scoffed at how ridiculous it was, but it was REAL. It was GRATE!

    CAMRA always seems to be making vague efforts to shake off this sort of image, but i say HEY! CAMRA! Embrace it! It's actually quite nice to go to a thing where people are SO not edgy, not groovy and THEMSELVES that it BECOMES edgy and groovy!

    Inside the venue, to be fair, there were a lot more non-Standard CAMRA types and the atmosphere was DELIGHTFUL. I spent a happy few hours stumbling around trying beers, returning to a huge table which Steve's Lot had managed to CLAIM. I FROWNED gently on their insistence on drinking HALVES tho - yes yes, I know it means you can try more beers etc etc but to me this demonstrates a) a distinct lack of COMMITMENT to the beers you choose b) an emphasis on BEER TICKING over getting to sit down for longer between PINTS. Sitting down is important!

    Also very much enjoyed by ME was some PICKLED GARLIC (which Steve had mentioned earlier and I had BAULKED at, but which turned out to be LOVELY) and getting RECOGNISED on the way to the loo, when someone shouted "MJ HIBBETT!" and then got embarrassed when I turned round to say hello. OH BOY but i LOVES it when that happens!

    INDEED I had SUCH a nice time that I ended up buying a FEZ at the HAT SHOP. This, I think, is a stroke of MARKETING GENIUS: surely a beer festival is the best place EVER to have a hat shop? After a few pints EVERYONE wants a hat!

    A pint AFTER buying the hat I said my farewells and headed home. On the tube back I found myself sat next to two other chaps who ALSO had hats on. "Beer festival?" said one of them, and we ended up having a VERY jolly chat all the way to Liverpool Street. Hoorah for HATS, and hoorah for BEER!
    posted 8/8/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Hibbett In Flight
    It has been a weekend of non-stop action and HIJINKS - if you think Andy Murray looks KNACKERED, he is a veritably Spring Chicken compared to my WORN, yet HAPPY face.

    On Saturday we welcomed The Pattisons to our house - they're here for a few days for Olympic Excitements VARIOUS, and we got them all set up in our front room before escorting them to the tube, and thence to LONDON. Once they were safely despatched i headed to glamorous TOTTENHAM for another Dinosaur Planet practice. I must say it seems to be going TERRIBLY well, and we BOTH a) expressed then b) dutifully REPRESSED the idea that we don't really NEED so many rehearsals. Two more to go before the GIGS commence in Camden and Croydon, then we're off to Green Man. EEK!

    As I said the other day, one forgets quite how EXHAUSTING it is to LEAP AROUND singing about Dinosaurs whilst wearing FULL FACE MASKS and, especially in my case, a MASSIVE WIG. I seem to be spending more than half of the whole show wearing General Muriel's WIG and HAT this time - surely it wasn't so prevalent in the original version?

    Then it was back home to set up the kitchen ready for the return of our guests and a BIG TEA full of BOOZE and WATCHING OLYMPICS. Man ALIVE what an evening of telly that was - Jess! Mo! The Jumping Man! All evening I kept thinking "But it's only a mile or two down the road! From HERE!"

    During Jess Ennis' medal ceremony Miss Edie Pattison came by the kitchen and saw myself, her parents, and The Person On My Podium all STOOD TO ATTENTION for the National Anthem. I like to think it will leave a lasting impression on her vis ADULT BEHAVIOUR.

    Next day we went off to Victoria Park, where we went through some simultaneously strict yet half-arsed security. Bags we checked and we were FRISKED in a way I've never been FRISKED before, and THEN whizzed all over with a magnet wand thing. HOWEVER, before that I'd put my keys phones etc in my jacket and put THAT in an Airport Tray. Normally they put THAT through the x-ray machine, this time I just put it back on and wandered off. SURELY this is what we call a Possible Security Hole?

    Anyway, we got on-site, found a spot in front of a big screen and for the first time in my life I a) watched b) enjoyed an entire game of TENNIS. When Andy Murry FINALLY WON the entire PARK was on its feet cheering, shortly following by everyone in TEARS when he hugged that little lad, then LARFING 2 seconds later when the aforesaid young boy expressed ALL of our relief. It was LOVELY!

    Upon arriving I'd been for a bit of a stroll round the site, and noted that the ZIP LINE was working, which B.Johnson had famously got stuck on the week before. THUS while we waited for the mixed doubles to get going I thought I might as well have a go. We'd all had a DRINK, I was feeling pretty EXCITED, so why not? I paid my fifteen quid and QUEUED, with Tim stood by as my SECOND.

    It took about half an hour to get to the front of the queue then ANOTHER Young Man MANHANDLED me as I got into my harness. "Grab your balls", he said, "You don't want to get them caught". I DID NOT.

    I clambered up the HUGE TOWER and queued for another ten minutes with another bunch of people who were thinking "Hang on, what? This seemed like a good idea before." I got hooked onto a big wire and stood on the very edge of the HUGE TOWER looking down. I'd been thinking how odd it was not to be TERRIFIED, then got about 30 seconds of FEAR: I was about to LEAP off the HUGE TOWER, it was a LONG WAY DOWN!

    But then I lifted my legs up and SWOOSH! I was FLYING! And it was LOVELY!! It was 30 seconds or so of going ZOOM and WAVING at people, and then that was it over - it was BLOODY GRATE!

    I BRAVELY strode away to find Tim FILMING me, and we returned to the group for some BEER and to watch MORE TENNIS. I liked the fact that they played TWO sets and then said "Oh sod it, let's do a tie-break then we can go home." MORE tennis should be like that - in fact, why not just do a first to ten? MUCH quicker.

    On the way home I joined in a WEIRD VOICE competition with Miss E and Miss L Pattison (I WON) and after a brief dumping of GEAR we headed round the corner from our house for a CURRY. I got to our local curry house a couple of times a month to pick up takeaway, but haven't been there to eat-in for about eight YEARS. I should do so more often - it was FUN and we didn't have to wash up at ALL!

    Back home we rewound the telly and watched the 100m a couple of times before heading to BED, TIRED but JOLLY. And now it's Monday morning and I appear to be at WORK. How can that be right? MORE OLYMPICS please, and MORE JAPES!

    posted 6/8/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    They're Back!
    On Wednesday afternoon i TORE myself away from watching OLYMPICS (er... whilst studiously Working From Home, of course) and went round to Chez Hewitt, for our first practice of the REVISED version of Dinosaur Planet, ready for the GIGS we're doing the week after next.

    I must admit I have been a bit worried about this - we're doing the show at GREEN MAN a fortnight tomorrow, which will be one of the biggest audiences I'VE ever played to (obviously not the biggest Mr S "Opening Ceremony" Hewitt has had, but STILL) and certainly the most people who'll have ever seen the two-man show in one sitting, and I'd like it to be GOOD. The fact that we haven't performed it for nearly 18 months was a bit frightening, and also I was haunted by memories of the LONGEURS in certain sections. We'd agreed some judicious CUTS to certain sections, but I still FEAR how it might go over For A Festival Crowd.

    The Hewitts are currently very MUCH in The Festival Mood, as they've both got the whole fortnight off to see MILLIONS of Olympic Events, also to go to pubs, loaf around having lie-ins, eat fast food and drink BEER. They appear to be doing the Edinburgh Festival without the travel, hills, or comedians asking them what they do for a living, and so I am INSANELY JEALOUS!

    After some tea, cheesecake, and CHAT we set to it - I'd envisaged us doing this first practice hunched over the script, stumbling through it, but Steve got THE PROPS out and we LAUNCHED into it full throttle. And blow me down but it was PRETTY DARN GOOD - MUCH better than I'd've DARED to DREAM to HOPE it might have been! We did stumble over some bits, but CRIKEY! It appears that we pretty much still KNOW about 90% of the songs and script, and the rest we are sufficiently COMPETENT to mostly get through anyway!

    The CUTS worked really well too - every time we did the show I was acutely conscious of how SLOWLY it got going, so we've cut almost ALL of the first scene ("Not my Darry-Lamb", that bit) and EXCISED Professor Peter Probersite COMPLETELY. It feels a bit sad to lose these bits, but CRUMBS, it doesn't half make things get going FAST! There's a few other places we've applied SNIPPAGE, though when we actually did the run through many of those slipped back in anyway.

    We finished in about 50 minutes and, with the addition of LARFS (hopefully) and SUBTRACTION of occasional FLOUDERING, I reckon that's how long it'll take on the DAY(s), which is IDEAL really. We celebrated with a BEER, and then I stumbled out, KNACKERED (I had forgotten how exhausting it is to dance around playing a guitar while wearing a DINOSAUR MASK), but rather relieved. I think it's going to work!

    If you'd like to see for yourself you have roughly two and a half opportunities to do so - we're doing the show at The Camden Head, London on Monday 13th as part of The Camden Fringe (doors 7.30pm, show starts 8.00pm, click here for tickets), just the songs on Tuesday 14th at Freedom Of Expression in Croydon (at The Green Dragon, starts 8.30pm and is FREE) and then on Friday 17th at The Green Man Festival (we're on at 2.45pm on the Solar Stage in Einstein's Garden ). Do come along if you're around for any of them, we're going to try and make it GRATE!

    posted 3/8/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Dinosaurs On A Spaceship
    I imagine that most people think I spend my time doing SPORTS, maintaining vehicles, and ROUGH HOUSING but actually I do occasionally tend towards the GEEKIER side of things. NO, really, I do!

    THUS I was very excited this morning to be able to watch the new trailer for the next series of "Doctor Who", which looks BLOODY GRATE. However, I couldn't help noticing that HUGE CHUNKS of it seemed EERILY FAMILIAR. "Dinosaurs On A Spacehip, you say? And Giant Robots? Hmmm... where have i heard that before?"

    Now, OBVIOUSLY, I do not for a moment think Mr S Moffat and co are ripping me off (i DID send him a CD of the album, but I would think this episode was about to start FILMING aruond then, and would have been written AGES before) but I do think the similarities are worth... well, half-arsedly attempting to cash in on. And so, after making myself late for work by spending an hour and a half on Sony Vegas, I present to you: DOCTOR WHO VS DINOSAUR PLANET!

    It is, I believe, one of these "mash up" that the young people appear so keen on. It is also, I must admit, a bit LASHED UP AT SPEED and could have been improved immeasurably by spending ANOTHER hour or two on it, but to HECK with it: I was EXCITED! and it was FUN!

    And hey, if it DOES lead to me getting to do a MUSICAL EPISODE of Doctor Who in the future, who's to complain. The Moff! CALL ME!

    posted 2/8/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Dinosaur Fashion Parade
    Since the last batch of Dinosaur Planet T-Shirts went in the post I have been deluged - DELUGED! - with photographs.

    Initially this seemed a bit odd - when they first went on sale I actively encouraged people to send me photographs of themselves thus garbed and nobody DID. Then about a month ago I had TWO pictures sent to me on the same day, and this week I've had FOUR! FOUR!

    Investigating further it turns out that SEVERAL of the new pictures are of KIDS, and people DO like taking pictures of their KIDS, which goes some way to explaining the rush, but even in this new batch approx 40% of those pictured of ADULTS.

    And then the answer struck me - of course! LOOK at these people! Clearly they are FASHION TRENDSETTERS, and fashion has AT LAST caught up with us! I fully expect to open next week's Sunday papers and see Ms K Moss and co CAVORTING at/out of some party fully clad in Dinosaur Planet t-shirts and Mr D Beckham sporting one as he pilots his speedboat down the Thames. IT MUST HAPPEN!

    And hey, if YOU would like to be as COOL and FASHIONABLE and GROOVY (that's the right word isn't it?) as these HEPCATS, t-shirts are still very much available. I've only got one SMALL one left tho, so if you think that's for you GET IN QUICK!

    posted 1/8/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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