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Blog Archive: December 2013

Back At The Bloomsbury
Last night was my second, and final, night at The Bloomsbury for Robin Ince's "9 Lessons" gigs. THIS time I knew what to expect, so very casually strolled up at 6pm, went down the CORRECT steps, took my backstage pass like i was BORN to such things, and swanned into the Green Room where I met Mr G Osborn, who had diligently arrived on time and already done his soundcheck. We had a chat, I went off and did a super quick soundcheck of my own, then came back for MORE chat, once again creating Songwriter's Corner with him, Ms G Petrie and Ms H Arney. It was LOVELY, especially when Helen was CHALLENGED on her assertion that the Uke is tuned the same as a guitar. "NO IT ISN'T!" someone (hem hem) said confidently, only for her to get it out and demonstrate that the strings ARE the same tuning (tho TRANSPOSED) as the last four on a guitar, so that you CAN just play the bottom bits of guitar chords. I'd never realised this before, and we all marvelled as Grace picked up the Uke and started playing it for the first time PEASILY. The look on her face was the same as the look on everybody's face as they pick up a uke for the first time: DELIGHT!

I watched a lot of the first half from the wings, occasionally sneaking down for a BEER - the fridge was FULL of beer, which the comedians seemed to be AVOIDING. They are a funny (peculiar) lot, comedians - they always seem to be TERRIFIED of something, but also Terribly Professional, at least compared to BANDS. You hear all these stories about them being KRAZY but I've never seen it, or perhaps I have become used to ROCK ANTICS and expect Falling Over, Shouting and Incompetence as a BASELINE?

When it was getting near the middle I went out to the foyer to see if i could spot Mr J Kell... and waited for AGES, as the first half ended up being TWO HOURS long! There was a huge flood of people emerging (i bet the LOO was doing a lot of work!) and I couldn't find John but DID bump into various other people, which made me feel more at HOME. I was a lot happier being there last night than on Tuesday, which was mostly SCARY, but still felt very much like it was Not My Place. Which, to be fair, it isn't really!

The second half began and it featured ME near the start. I did a short BIT about names for "Geeks" beforehand - I'd read a suggestion that we stop using Americanisms like "Geek" or "Nerd" and return to old British terms, such as "Brains" or "Boffin". I pointed out - correctly - that the only term previously used for "geeks" when I was at school wasn't anything as CHARMING as "Boffin", but rather "Sad Wankers", which was actually quite an accurate description. Yes, I HAD spent all afternoon thinking about what to say, and WAS quite pleased with it, HENCE the repetition here!

I did It Only Works Because You're Here again and STRODE off... and once again my KNEES went and I realised HOW scared I'd been. Gav said "I noticed you sang one bit slightly differently" for LO! my BRANE had been so busy thinking of STUFF that I'd gone into the second chorus when it should have been the first, then had to VEER round the words to make it up. I think it was OK tho!

In the second half Gav and Grace were GRATE again, as was Helen and I SUPPOSE the people i don't know too, and there was a lot of HUGZ as people headed off - including Excitable Discussion with Gav and Grace about maybe doing a TOUR next year. LOADS of people were leaving too - I know it's different from GIGS, but I still find it odd when people LEAVE before it's all over, and towards the very end the backstage area became DESERTED once more.

I stuck around, however, as I had a JOB to do: CD distribution! Once again I'd said during the set that I was moving house, so had loads of boxes of CDs to give away, and once again people seemed SURPRISED that I'd been telling the truth! It was lovely to stand there and hand out HUNDREDS of CDs, there is a special JOY in seeing CRATES of heavy moving items disappearing towards smiling people - my favourite was when one lady said. "God bless you! Oh, hang on, that's not right here is it?" I said it was FINE, then she came back a minute later for another CD and said "And happy new year too!"

Soon it was all over, I packed my bags, GENEROUSLY (hem hem) left the remaining CDs with the nice Merchandising Stand people to give out on other nights (SO GIVING!), hugged Mr Ince, and then strode out into the night. It's back to my normal gigs in the new year, with chums and beers and What I Know, but it was fun to play a BIG STAGE for a change - I wonder if I'll ever get to do it again?

posted 20/12/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Yesterday we went to THE OLYMPIC VILLAGE again to see our new flat, this time with FURNITURE in so we could assess how much room we're going to have. We skipped off to catch the bus and, after a couple of trips where I've thought "Why DO i always say I don't like buses?" i REMEMBERED: because when they don't work, they totally don't work, and there's nobody there to tell you why or what's likely to happen next. It wasn't so bad going - it did arrive, about 20 minutes after it was meant to - but on the way back my bus appeared to have been CANCELLED, though only in the direction I wanted to go.

ANYWAY, we got there in the end and the Delightful Young Chap who showed us the flat the first time came out again all smiles to show us again. Everybody to do with the flats appears to be LOVELY, and there's LOADS of them. I guess what's happening is that everything is staffed ready for when HUNDREDS of people are moving in, but as we're some of the first to move in we've got the luxury of everything being there just for US. Also all the staff have just started, so are still a bit excited about working on THE OLYMPIC VILLAGE and are pleased to have someone to show it off too.

As we approached the front door I thought "What if it turns out we don't like it after all? What if it ISN'T as fab as I remember?" but happily it was JUST as good, and indeed, for the most part, slightly LARGER. The lounge/kitchen seemed to be full of sofas and tables and chairs and sideboards, so felt a little more cosy, but the rest of it felt HUGE, with BIG cupboards and a LOAD of chests of drawers. It was SO exciting we had to go and have a cup of coffee, where we discussed Placement Of Items and Configurations. I'd MEASURED everything, so when one of us said "Maybe we could put (FURNITURE ITEM A) into (SPACE X)?" I was able to consult NOTES and say "Yes, yes we could". I can't wait to get moved in and start SHIFTING things!

After that I strolled round the edge of the Olympic Park to see our energy suppliers. It was WEIRD - it's a huge area with all sorts being built, but there's almost NOBODY around. The feeling of being in a post-apocalyptic landscape is added to by the fact that the remains of the Olympics are still there - slightly tattered Olympic flags still fly, and near the old entrance gates lie the plastic chairs that the stewards used to sit on. The Copper Box is especially eerie - a vast building that was hugely important, but is now sat there doing nothing.

I must admit I rather liked it. It felt like when we go on holiday slightly out of season - everything's ready, the whole place is going to BURST into life very soon, but for now it feels like it's all there just for us. The only difference is that, instead of heading home after a week, we get to stick around and see how it all works out. I can't wait!

posted 19/12/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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The Bloomsbury Theatre
On Tuesday I was full of NERVES because I was due to play one of the biggest gigs I have EVER played, at The Bloomsbury Theatre for Robin Ince's 9 Lessons And Carols For Godless People event.

It was also one of the Nearest To My Work gigs, so I got there bang on time at 5pm for the soundcheck, where I met one other participant, who was trying to find out where he needed to go. I worked out - and had verified - that he too was a first-timer, as everyone else would be used to it and not turn up quite so early!

We followed somebody into the building, got lost, wandered round various empty corridors, and eventually found our way to the stage area where I did a quick soundcheck, before going back to an empty dressing room and... sitting there. It was all a bit WEIRD, the whole place was DESERTED. It wasn't helping with my FEAR either - I was LIGHT YEARS (science talk) out of my comfort zone, playing the sort of place I've never really played before on the kind of bill i've never played before and I felt like I was suddenly on the first day at Big School with nobody to tell me where to be.

So i went to the pub. Like a friendly old blanket it welcomed and reassured me, and I was soonjoined by Mr S Hewitt for a couple of delightful HALVES. Happier, I wandered back to the venue... to find it STILL deserted. I sat around for a bit before going for a wander and THIS time found Mr R Ince sat in the green room. PHEW - at least this meant I'd come on the right day! Very quickly afterwards Mr G Osborn arrived, and LO! all was suddenly WELL. Gav is, as I have pointed out several times before, one of the most DELIGHTFUL people in all of ROCK, and his HUGS are most reassuring. The pair of us sat down to chat - Gav said "Would you like a beer?" and Robin Ince FROWNED. I pointed out that we are MUSICIANS, not comedians, and thus are ALLOWED beer, and had one!

Other people filtered in and we ended up in a corner with Mr Steve Pretty and Ms Grace Petrie having a FINE old time in a Musician's Corner. I felt at HOME again, and was then DELIGHTED to get a call to see that The Acts On My Bill has arrived. I strolled out to meet her and also The Hewitts for a chat and pre-show BEER. All was right with the world as I said my farewells, before wandering backstage again... to find it DESERTED again.

Where had everybody gone? SILENCE reigned once more, it was STRANGE, so I went BACK to the front of house, asked where I could sit, and strolled upstairs to watch the first half. I may possibly be biased but my favourites were Gav and Grace, who were both ACE. I found myself feeling PROUD of Grace, which is a bit UNWARRANTED - we've only played together a couple of times, but just seeing her being such a Performance Powerhouse these days fills me with East Midlands PRIDE!

I went back downstairs for the interval for some more chat, also beer, then hightailed it round the back again for the second half, where I was due on near the start. Stood backstage I discovered Gav, and we had a RIGHT old natter, also LARF, whilst in the background Robin Ince kept a naked Norwegian at bay, waiting for several minutes for JUST the right moment to interrupt some Improvised Jazz. I guess this is what it's like in the world of comedy.

After a little while it was time for me to go on. I strode onto the HUGE stage and felt like I was in the right place. I hardly ever play gigs THIS big, but every time I do I think "Yes, this is about right for me, more of this please!" Nerves evaporated and I felt this was the correct arena for a slice of ME ACTION - it's weird, it totally is NOT my natural habitat to be playing to 500 people at the same time (as opposed to doing so over the course of 3 months!) but it always feels like it IS.

I had a quick chat and then did It Only Works Because You're Here which went WELL at my end and seemed to go down all right with the audience. Happy with everything I walked off... then nearly FELL OVER due to the accrued FEAR that had built up inside me. BEER was needed!

Beer was HAD, I watched and enjoyed the rest of the show, then just before the end I nipped out the front with a hessian bag full of CDs. The Boxes In My Depot had suggested I just GIVE AWAY a load of CDs at the end, like flyers, which struck me as a GRATE idea - i am, after all, moving house very soon so could do with getting rid of Unwanted Stock, and you could always justify it as Promotional Activity if you wanted to. I stood ready as people came out and... it turned out to be a FANTASTIC idea! People happily took CDs (some took 2 by mistake, as I was giving away the double-sided My Exciting Life In ROCK EP - i did not correct them) and when Steve came over to help with distribution they FLEW away. We gave out about TWO HUNDRED of them! On Thursday night I'm going to do it AGANE!!

All too soon the surge was over and no more CDs could be handed out, so we packed what was left into a bag and headed home. It's all happening again on Thursday and I must say I'm looking forward to it a lot more this time, now that I know how things WORK. I'd really like to do MORE of this sort of thing, partly to get used to it but mostly because, once you ARE used to it, it's such fun. Big Promoters/Festival Bookers take note: AM AVAILABLE!

posted 18/12/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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The Christmas Party Christmas Party
Last night I gathered with COLLEAGUES at City University for the Launch Party for our web series - or, as The Beats In My Script put it, The Christmas Party for The Christmas Party.

I arrived to find nearly everyone else there, with WINE and NIBBLES set out and a computer projector switched on. I'd brought back-up versions of all the episodes with me and we decided that it was probably better to do use those, rather than relying on the interweb working for Youtube. We worked out how to do a Windows Media Player playlist, which took about 2 seconds. Computers are so PEASY these days aren't they? I mean, I know some aspects are still annoying and They Keep Changing Things, but CRIKEY at least you don't need a manual, three hours, eighteen floppy disks and a SCREWDRIVER to do anything these days!

Guests started to arrive, including the aforesaid People At My Party, and I found myself introducing people to her by What I'd Said About Them e.g. "This is KEN Who Set His Feet On Fire" (NB not a real example). Luckily in this case the descriptions were more like "who lives in Leicester" or "who leant me that book". PHEW!

With everyone in we dimmed the light and then SOMEONE (hem hem) got up and did a very quick intro. It wasn't my idea, honest... tho I didn't fight the nomination. We then watched all seven episodes in sequence, which you can recreate THUSLY, should you wish to do so:

Everyone was NERVOUS but it worked REALLY well - having it up on the big screen made it all look PROPER and Quite Impressive. Afterwards there was a Giddy Glow about the faces of the TEAM, as we realised that actually it had WORKED! Our course leader, the mighty Phil, seemed very pleased with it too. He didn't SAY we were totally the best group it had ever been his privilege to teach - he didn't SAY it, but it was certainly IMPLIED. "Subtext", we call it, in the Screenwriting Business.

After some generalised congratulating and happiness we went over to the pub, where we took a batch of photographs for use on the FACEBOOK. We're planning a TRANSMEDIA explosion of CONTENT, whereby the conclusion of all seven episodes will be a photograph album on Facebook, showing pictures of the actual party they end up at. MODERN, right?

It was all rather marvellous, and I tottered off for the tube home feeling really rather Christmassy. Now all we need to do is the whole thing over again for our NEXT project! PEASY!

posted 17/12/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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A Big Week
You find me today poised, slightly AQUIVER, on the verge of a BIG WEEK. Seven days from now a LOT will have happened!

It all starts off quite gently tonight, when I'm off to SKOOL for the LAUNCH for The Christmas Party the web series that I wrote an episode of and also done ACTING in that one and someone else's too. As stated before, I am HUGELY proud of the fact that we managed to MAKE the whole series, and also that it came out Pretty Darn Good - if you've not had a chance to watch it yet, do please have a look, we could do with some VIEWS!

Then tomorrow and Thursday I'm playing one of the BIGGEST - and certainly one of the Closest To My Work - GIGS I've ever played, when I'm taking part in Mr Robin Ince's Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People event at The Bloomsbury Theatre. As well as ME this features the likes of Grace Petrie, Josie Long, Gavin Osborn, Helen Arney, Mark Watson, Rich Herring, Phil Jeays and a TONNE of others. It should be quite a big night and I am, I must admit, AFEARED. There are still some tickets available if you feel like witnessing a) comedy b) music c) me SCARED!

And then on Saturday i am MOVING HOUSE! YIKES and DOUBLE YIKES! Myself and The Flats In My Block are moving to the ACTUAL OLYMPIC VILLAGE to live in a RIGHT swanky new flat. I can't quite believe it's happening - we've been daydreaming about going to live there for YEARS, and within a few short days we WILL be. Hence I am spending every waking hour WORRYING about change of address, bills, direct debits, van hire, clearing out stuff, buying new PANS, different transport arrangements and... well, a million and one other things, really. It's all TERRIFICALLY EXCITING, but I can't wait for us to be IN and SETTLED!

As I say, it's a BIG WEEK, so if you see me tottering around at any point over the next few days, do be gentle won't you?

posted 16/12/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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The Great Clearout Continues
As mentioned the other day, myself and The Furniture In My Room are moving house soon - in just over a week, in fact - so I'm having a MASSIVE clearout of STUFF. EBAY is BULGING with various comics and DVDs (and a couple of Musical Items) that I've been selling, the Oxfam bookshop in Bloomsbury is RAMMED with graphic novels that once dwelled upon my shelves, and I believe the Spitalfields Crypt Trust shop in Leytonstone is having to EXTEND the building to contain the books, CDs, albums and Items General that I dumped... sorry, DONATED there last week.

And I must say, it all feels GRATE. I've had mini-clearouts in the past, but have shied away from doing THAT much due to sentimental attachments to Owning Things. This time, however, I've GOT to get rid of stuff, as there just won't be ROOM in the new place, so I've applied Strict Criteria to my shelves. For example, if I'm very unlikely to read a book again, it's GONE*. If I might read it again, but it's out of copyright and so available on kindle, it's ALSO gone* (unless i have XTREME emotional attachment to it, in which case... er... it isn't gone after all). Similarly with CDs I thought "Is this an album I would happily play all the way through, in the living room?" If not: BYE BYE!

Doing this with books, CDs, comics and even GUITARS was easy, though i DID take my lovely lovely Burns Cobra electric off ebay a couple of days after putting it on (it's so PRETTY!). The only thing I had ANY issues with was DVDs - I came perilously close to putting my Buffy The Vampire Slayer boxsets on ebay! WHAT WAS I THINKING?!? If there's any show i am GUARANTEED to sit down and watch right from the start again it's Buffy! Or, actually, Deep Space 9, my OTHER favourite show EVER, which i rescued a few minutes later. PHEW!

The clearout is nearly over now - I took an old computer to Computer Aid International this morning (they were LOVELY!), cleared out fifteen years of COMPUTER LEADS the other day, and have another Sholley-Load of BOOKS to take to the charity shop at the weekend, but then I think I'll have shifted everything i possibly CAN shift.

The exciting thing is what I'm LEFT with. Now I've filleted out over half of all my CDs, EVERY album in the CD racks is a GRATE one. With most of my books GONE i now can't WAIT to start re-reading all the EXCELLENT books I've got left, not least the shelf full of CLASSIC COMICS COLLECTIONS. And when I tire of that, well, I've got all of Buffy and DS9 to watch again. 2014 is going to be BRILLIANT!

UPDATE - CLARIFICATION: The Strings On My Fretboard has asked me to make clear that the ACTUAL reason i took my Burns guitar off of eBay was that she TOLD me to take it off. "I remember you buying that," she said, recalling my GLEE. "We will find a space for it somehow!" I am more than happy to comply with this request.

posted 12/12/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Ukulele Cabaret
Last night I was due to play at Tricity Vogue's Ukulele Cabaret, a night which I'd had a GRATE time at during Edinburgh and was very much looking forward to playing closer to home. However, I was worried about running a bit late - the gig was billed as starting at 8pm so I'd planned to get there for seven o'clock, but wasn't going to make it - so emailed Tricity to apologise. She emailed back to say she wouldn't be there herself until 8pm, so not to worry. Comedy/Cabaret Gigs: they are DIFFERENT to ROCK gigs!

I thus rolled up just after eight o'clock to find a full pub, with a healthy proportion of the occupants carrying a ukulele under their arm. I was a bit worried about playing my planned set on the UKE as it featured at least one song I'd not done that way before, so when Tricity arrived and asked if I'd be OK to go on first I said "YES PLEASE!"

Before that though the show opened with a singalong of "Santa Baby", which was MARVELLOUS. More ukuleles were handed out, as were song sheets with the words and CHORDS on them, and the whole pub joined in. It was LOVELY, and I was also MOST impressed with Tricity's MC-ing skills. She spoke kindly but firmly to people talking (both whilst on stage herself and while other people were playing), involved everyone, told us what was going to happen, and then stood at the front THROUGHOUT other people's sets laughing, singing along, and generally being Encouraging. TOP COMPERE!

Anyway, it was then time for me to play, and I did THIS:
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • It wasn't what I'd planned to do - I'd learned up "It's Cliched To Be Cynical At Christmas", for instance, but thought it might not be sufficiently JOLLY for a pub audience, so ASKED them if they'd prefer Indie Christmas or Some Hip Hop (it IS hip hop, sort of), and they went for the latter. I'd also thought about doing Come On Pussy, as it'd gone down well when I did this gig before, but again thought it might not go down so well here. Thus I STARTED with the song i usually FINISH with, which felt weird, before doing a ukulele version of It Only Works Because You're here for the first time EVER. It sounds LOVELY on the uke, but the problem is a) it has some chords that are Slightly Difficult and b) I was nervous, so i did make some errors, but it seemed to all go OK. Once I got into my stride I must say i REALLY enjoyed it - I love doing these sort of gigs, where the audience isn't specifically there for you, or anyone, and you can enjoy getting them on-side. Good times!

    There were several other acts on, though my favourite was Stuart Bowden, who we'd seen in Edinburgh doing his show She Was Probably Not A Robot. It was a LOVELY show, huge chunks of which came flooding back to me as he was on stage, and I think I just about managed to tell him how much I'd enjoyed it WITHOUT coming across as a LOONIE when I spoke to him later on. PHEW!

    The NICEST bit of the night, however, was the start of the second half, when we did another singalong, this time of "Walking In A Winter Wonderland". The ENTIRE pub sang with ENORMOUS gusto, everybody played along, Tricity did HARMONY BACKING VOCALS and the whole thing just sounded BEAUTIFUL. It was MEGA CHRISTMASSY, and when i set off for home later on I found myself singing it all the way to the station!

    posted 11/12/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Lo! He Abhors Not The Carol Service
    Last night myself and The Baubles On My Tree went to CHURCH - to St Brides' Church on Fleet Street, in fact, to attend the Communication Professionals' (NB that is what she is, i snuck in as +1) Christmas Carol Service.

    St Brides' is known as The Journalists' Church, as it is on FLEET STREET where the journalists used to be. I've been to a couple of events there before, and it's a) GORGEOUS inside but b) a little odd because the seating is sort of sponsored by news organisations, so there's a couple of seats with a "Daily Mirror" logo sticky-taped onto them, next to one for The Sunday People etc etc. It was RAMMED last night because the Carol Service is a Hot Ticket, and indeed it was GRATE.

    I do like going to a Carol Service as it is CHRISTMASSY, but also because it brings back memories of all the other Carol Services I have been to over my life. The most emotional bit for me is ALWAYS during "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" when we sing the line "Lo! He abhors not the virgin's womb." EVERY time I sing that bit i ALWAYS think "What a stupid thing to sing" and EVERY time I am instantly transported back to me, aged 10, in St Mark's Church Peterborough singing that very line as part of a school Carol Service and thinking EXACTLY the same thing. And of course, once I'm reminded of that I'm reminded of my NAN being there, which in turn rapidly reminds me of ALL the people who used to be part of my Christmases but aren't with us anymore and... well, you get the idea. Getting A Bit Sad is very much a part of Christmas, especially a Grown-Up Christmas.

    Mind you, so is MUCKING ABOUT, and there was an almost UNSEEMLY amount of this going on as myself and The Humans In My Congregation heartily NUDGED each other at INCIDENTS throughout. A lot of this went on during "Good King Wenceslas" when ONE member of our group was singing it PROPERLY, ACTUALLY, which certain OTHER members of the group thought was so HILARIOUS they they ended up giggling all over the place. Some people just don't appreciate proper singing. My favourite bit was when TV's Kate Silverton (for it was she) did a "Christmas Message" during which she said "Oh dear me, isn't it awful how Christmas Is Commercialised?" (ME: (sotto voce) NOT REALLY. NO.) and then the VICAR got up and said, directly after, "The choir have CDs for sale and please give us some money to mend the roof!"

    So yes, it was a mixture of sadness, ROFLs, and, as in all church services, a continuing bafflement as to why Church Organists decide to play songs with Slightly Difficult Time Signatures when they have NO TIMING WOTSOEVER. I mean, The Organist Getting It Wrong is part OF the Church Service - if one ever got it right all the way through it would mean THE END TIMES, but why do they make it harder for themselves by choosing a song with an OFF-BEAT on it?

    Having said that, their version of "Stop The Cavalry" was ACE.

    Anyway, we left the Church feeling Quite Christmassy, a feeling only accentuated when we got back to Leytonstone and popped into The Red Lion, FESTOONED with Christmassy and supplying that most Christmassy of products: a lovely pint of beer!

    posted 10/12/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Box Club
    I arrived in distant Chelmsford on Friday night ready to play Mr George Death's birthday party at The Box Club. I was met by Mr C Flowers, and we had a very middle aged conversation about whether I'd played Chelmsford before. I thought I hadn't, he thought I had, and neither of us had a clue who was right! Similar conversations peppered the night, as we considered matters such as House Purchases and The Nature Of The Novel - he is a ONE MAN DINNER PARTY! I also realised we've known each other for FIFTEEN YEARS. It doesn't seem that long, but maybe that's because, between us, we have forgotten most of it?

    The Box Club itself was ACE - it's the Post Office Social Club, basically, which meant a) you entered the grounds of the Post Office depot to get to it and b) the BEER was LUDICROUSLY CHEAP: Getting a round in felt like they were doing a Buy One Get One Free offer. When we arrived George was - understandably - nervous about how it was going to go, as you always ARE when it's your party, but beautifully people ROLLED in over the course of the next hour, so it was pretty busy when I stepped up to do my short set, THUS:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • It was a Not Too Much Audience Participation (apart from Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid which George had requested) HITS set as I had identified it as room full of people who hadn't seen me before and would probably quite like to have a chat. It seemed to go down all right, with people being Very Nice afterwards, which made me happy. Then George came on and did his set which was GRATE - seeing him playing to a home crowd made me realise how ANGRY and ACTUALLY POLITICAL a lot of his songs are, as well as being charming, interesting and FUNNY. He really is VERY GOOD, and is one of the SEVERAL people who, when i see them, make me think "I really should get Totally Acoustic going again soon", just so I can SEE them again!

    After George finished it was time to head back for the train and Actual London again. It was a GRATE night - I couldn't have spent my 57th (57th!!) gig of the year better!

    posted 9/12/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Barks and Branches
    On Wednesday night I went to South Bank University to attend a Writers Guild Of Great Britain/International Game Developers Association event called "Barks And Branches". It was a strange coming together of WORLDS for me, in several ways, the first being that althoughI heard about it through SKOOL, when I looked it up I found that one of the people involved with it was Mr Dave Green of Fakebit Polytechnic. Worlds! CollidinG!

    The actual EVENT was a panel presentation/discussion about Writing For Computer Games and it was VERY VERY INTERESTING INDEED. I learned all sorts of new words and what they mean (For instance, "Barks" are the noises characters make in games when they're just doing stuff), and had a good old THINK about how games make you DISCOVER content, rather than in films where it's DELIVERED.

    It made the BRANE go WHIRR. My favourite bit was the talk by Ed Stern - it was EYE-OPENING and THORT PROVOKING throughout, but I must confess my heart LEAPT when he demonstrated how he writes "barks" and other repeated/looped lines for Multi-Player games using EXCEL! He was using spreadsheets in a database-y way to do WRITING - this was the SECOND strange merging of worlds, as he was using my current job to do the job I'd LIKE to do!

    It was a fantastic evening, which culminated in going to the PUB for further chat and discussion. It really made me think about the possibilities of writing games stuff in the future, even if (OH DEAR) it means i may simply HAVE to go and play more computer games. The big point everybody made at the end of the talk was that to get work in games the best thing to do was MAKE a game. They said it was easier than making FILMS, and hey! I've already been INVOLVED in that sort of thing, so maybe that's a project for after Christmas? That noise you hear is my BRANE, THINKING!

    posted 6/12/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Genuine Rock History For Sale
    I've been doing a LOT of ebaying and clearing out just lately, for LO! it all goes to plan we'll be moving house quite soon. It's not definite yet, so more news when it actually happens, but in the run-up I have been working HARD to clear out some STUFF. Living in the same house for 11 years does rather mean you ACCRUE a lot of THINGS, so in recent weeks I've been doing a big ebay of most of my comics, sorting out books, CDs and so forth, and making plentiful visits to the Charity Shop.

    It's all been rather INVIGORATING I must say. HONING down what you actually want/NEED is quite CLEANSING - for instance, I've got rid of about HALF of my CDs, simply by thinking "Is this an album I'd ever actually PLAY in full, or is it just here to complete a set?" It's also very satisfying INDEED to look around and SEE the room clearing out a bit. Giving away CDs at Total Hero Team gigs has been very helpful indeed with that!

    As part of this I couldn't help but notice that I had SEVERAL guitars. Until recently I had TWO full-size acoustics, my travel guitar, a posh acoustic belonging to The Strings On My Fretboard, an electric, TWO ukuleles, a mandolin, a BASS and a practice amp. This is clearly more than I need - it's more than most BANDS would need - so I began the process of WHITTLING DOWN by giving away my oldest guitar the other week. Since then I've gritted my teeth and decided to SELL the amp, my "gig acoustic" and my lovely lovely Burns Cobra guitar. This latter is most painful - it's a BEAUTIFUL instrument, but I have used it about TWICE for gigs and only get it out of its case once a year to either LOOK at it or play a guitar solo on a recording, which I can do JUST as well by plugging in my electro-acoustic TRAVEL AXE.

    I thought long and hard and decided that a guitar is a TOOL - this is something I usually say when I've WHACKED one on something - and so should be USED by someone. I really do think this, and so have put the LOT on eBay. The amp went pretty much straight away (I handed it over the Parcelforce this morning, in fact), but the AXES (and cases and stands that go with them) are still there. You can see the COBRA here (complete with its claim to ROCK INTEREST!) and the acoustic here. If anyone reading this buys it, and can meet up for an IN-PERSON HANDOVER then I'll chuck in a pile of CDs too. I am, after all, moving house soon!

    posted 5/12/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Song Is For Life
    A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Mr A Hale telling me that his band, Geoffrey And The Livingstones (excellent name) was putting together a Christmas Song, and asked whether I'd care to record a line, in BANDAIDESQUE style, for it? I said "YES PLEASE!"

    And now here it is done, LO! even with a VIDEO!

    It's really rather wonderful isn't it? Other people contributing include members of Allo Darlin, The Middle Ones, The Smittens, The Loves, The School, Ace Bushy Striptease, One Happy Island, Robberie, Mascot Fight, Daniel and Norbert Dentressangle, August Actually and Many Many More - nearly everybody, really!

    Best of all, the PROCEEDS are all going to Ashbourne Animal Welfare, a charity that rescues and re-homes cats and dogs, a rather MARVELLOUS cause at any time of year but ESPECIALLY around now. You can buy the single (featuring two exciting b-sides also) from their bandcamp page. Please do so - go on, it's Christmas!

    posted 4/12/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Christmas Party
    At last, after nearly five months of MEETINGS are DiSCUSSIONS and Generally Banging On About It, our web series The Christmas Party is finished and online!

    For those who have somehow MISSED me going on about it, the original idea was that a few of us on my MA course fancied creating our own web series, as a) it is The Cool Thing To Do right now b) it sounded like fun. Amazingly with a project like this it didn't just end with everybody saying "Yes, that IS a good idea" as we actually DID it, and we met several times to discuss the theme, the stories, and how they'd all tie together, then WROTE them, cast them, FILMED them and, the other week, edited them.

    And now all seven episodes (each about 3 minutes long) are DONE and ONLINE, and do you know what? They are pretty darn good! My favourite aspect is the way that they actually DO hang together pretty well, with characters wandering from one episode into another and creating slightly bigger stories, while also living quite happily in their main episodes. You can judge for yourself by going and having a look at our Youtube Channel. Go on, it's only 24 minutes long all together, you've got time!

    I wrote ONE of the episodes and am in two - though you probably won't realise it is me, what with the AMAZING ACTING and everything hem hem. I play a COMPUTER GUY! How DO i come up with these amazing ideas eh?!? Here is the episode wot I wrote, it's called "The Back-Up":

    For some reason Lars The Editor decided to remove ME from most of the shots I filmed and replace me with footage of MY DAD... but apart from that I must say I am RATHER PROUD of it and, indeed, the whole thing. There's various things we could improve upon if/when we did another series, but for a first go I think it works jolly well. If you get a chance to watch them all I hope you enjoy them, and in the meantime I shall be monitoring my phone for the SURELY INEVITABLE call to write AND STAR in that new James Bond film they're on about.

    posted 2/12/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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