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Blog Archive: June 2014

The Showcase
When I started on my MA course - which was, I think, about a month ago? Definitely not nearly TWO YEARS AGO anyway - the Big Thing that we always seemed to be aiming at was The Showcase. This was a night when Professional Actors would be Professionally Directed in extracts of our work for a THRONG of Industry Professionals. The only way it could be MORE Professional, it seems, would be to have Bodie and Doyle drive through a window in the interval.

It's always been a big thing and, last night, it was DONE! As there's so many of us on the course this year it had been divided into two evenings, so the first showcase was actually last week, mostly for people doing playwriting. Last night was for screenplay people, and this very much included ME! As previously mentioned, I'd been to a rehearsal at the weekend, and had since been to another on Monday. The first time around I'd been slightly worried that it might all be a bit Crash Bang Wallop, as there's a LOT of running around and EXPLOSIONS, but the second time I was relieved to find it working REALLY well. I was, in fact, DELIGHTED, and emerged from the building EXCITED - a level of excitement that was only slightly dented by seeing one of our Course Leaders coming INTO the building with a nervous young person, clearly off to interview them for NEXT year's course. It may all be coming to a climax for us, but life keeps on rolling and courses keep on recruiting!

I thought I was FINE with it all happening, but that night I had one of those nights where you have a MILLION DREAMS, all of which are basically your BRANE going "OI! Stop ignoring this big important thing - I'm worrying about it, you should be too!" It seemed to involve a lot of DRIVING TESTS.

Come the day itself I was A Bit Nervous all day long, and became gradually MORE so as I strode in at 3ish, hoping to catch the gap between Final Rehearsal and The Dress Rehearsal, as I had a Small Re-Write for my title page to hand in. Well, I thought I did - I wasn't entirely sure whether it was needed or not but thought I ought to show willing. As it turned out I needn't have done it, but it was worth turning up anyway as a bunch of us decided to go to the PUB for the afternoon! HA! This was an excellent idea and gave us a chance to Not Think About It for a bit, and instead concentrate on not having TOO much to drink before we went back.

Soon it was 6pm and time to head over for half an hour of worrying about guests turning up, wondering if there'd be any Actual Agents come to scoop us up, and drinking FREE WINE. At half past we went in and, after a brief pre-amble from Phil, the big boss of the course, we were off... and it was GRATE! The actors were really really good, we had TITLES up on a screen for each piece, and the extracts themselves were ACE. I swelled with pride for our collective efforts, we'd done DEAD well - indeed, Phil, in his pre-amble, had seemed genuinely surprised by just how good they were!

My extract was near the end of the first half and it all seemed to go well - people said they enjoyed it afterwards and I must say I was very pleased with it. The only sad thing about it is that i really LIKE the story, so every time I do anything with it I remember that it's FAR too expensive/ridiculous to actually MAKE!

That said, I did talk to someone afterwards who said doing it as RADIO might work, so you never know. This was in the Post-Show SCHMOOZE time - we'd had a MID-SHOW break when we'd gathered in a groups for chats (during which myself, my baby brother and lovely sister-in-law were provided with our own personal bowl of NIBBLES by The Crisps In My Bag, who'd HALF INCHED them for us!) but afterwards we were meant to TALK to people. Unusually for me i did actually manage to pluck up the courage to say hello to one person, but other than that it was saying "HA! We did it!" to course colleagues and then THE PUB.

The pub! As I have said many times this has probably been the BEST bit of the whole course, where large numbers of us would gather and LARF and pitch ideas and DRINK and encourage each other and generally have a good time. We've only got one more Formal Teaching Session left, and so only one more PUB after school, but luckily arranging a visit to the PUB is Not Exactly Rocket Science. There was much talk about keeping in contact and doing Other Projects together, and I think we actually WILL do that thing. There may not have been many (or possibly any) Professional Industry People there to SNAP us up, but I don't think that really matters - whatever happens next will come from US!

posted 26/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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Competitive Writing
As part of my PANIC RIDDEN THRUST to WRITE as many things as possible and send it out to as many PEOPLE as possible I've entered a LOT of writing competitions over the past six months. These have often involved writing something NEW, which has been lots of fun, much like back in the first year of my MA when we'd get a new writing assignment every week. It's been especially good while I've been working on the Big Script for the end of the course - being able to spend a couple of days writing something a) new b) short gives the BRANE a bit of a holiday.

The only downside of all this is that it IS a competition, which usually means at the end of it you don't WIN. Now, if there's one thing that The Krazy World Of ROCK has prepared me for it is REJECTION, but in ROCK this rejection usually comes in the form of INDIFFERENCE. In The Distinctly Less Krazy World Of Writing rejection is a lot more organised, so you tend to (eventually) get TOLD about it, which, after a while, can become a bit depressing.

I was in one of these depressing bits the week before last - I've got a big list of everything I've sent off for the past few months, including what happened to each script, and it has become a long list of "NO". I'd been telling myself this was FINE, but when I finally GOT something (the internship and the course from last weekend)I FINALLY admitted to myself that I'd been a bit SAD. A moment of self-realisation? That calls for a SONG!

Anyway, what all this is leading to is that a couple of OTHER results have come in, and they've come in quite nicely. Last night I got an email from Pint-Sized Plays saying they'd announced the longlist for their 2014 short play competition. I went to have a look, fully expecting not to be included (the type of competition I have entered more than ANYTHING, and thus have had the most rejections from, is short plays competitions) but BLOW ME my play "The Green Ghost" was in the list! This is ONLY the longlist (cutting 300ish plays down to 50ish) which leads to a shortlist which THEN leads to 5 plays which actually get performed, but still, I was rather chuffed!

Then this morning I got another email about the first round results for ANOTHER competition - The NYC Midnight Screenwriting Challenge. The idea of this one is that you get a genre, a subject and a character and have to write a 12 page screenplay in 8 days. There's HUNDREDS of people in this one, so they divided all the entrants into 25 groups of 30ish people, each with a different assignment. The top five from each group go into the next round, where you write 8 pages in 3 days, and then the winners in THAT round have to do 4 pages (i think) in 24 hours.

It's a GRATE idea, and having to write a MYSTERY STORY (as my group did) was a whole heap of fun. The only trouble for me, if I got through, was going to be the timing - the next round takes place this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and I'm spending this entire weekend going to, attending, and returning from my sister's wedding in Cornwall. I had various plans for taking laptops and writing on the train, but it was going to be an ALMIGHTY hassle, so part of me thought "I really won't mind if I don't get through." The rest of me, however, thought "No! Me! Me! Let ME get through and get the ACCLAIM!"

I thus went to look at the results not knowing WHAT i wanted. If I'd got through I'd be glad, but worried about how to do it, while if i DIDN'T I'd be SAD. However, when I looked i found it was the best possible outcome - i HADN'T got through but I HAD got an Honourable Mention, thus getting the PRAISE I so clearly crave but without having to LUG a laptop round the south west for the weekend. HOORAH!

I think what this all points to is that I'm going through a GOOD BIT at the moment. I know these GOOD BITS of old, when you have a flurry of things going well and fun stuff popping up (they often come around the time of an album release) and I know that they don't last all that long, so you have to enjoy them while you're IN them. So that's what I'm going to do. The only trouble is, most of the results from my competition entries are IN now - I've got to get entering some more ready for next time!

posted 24/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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Musical Theatre Initiative
I had a very LONG very BUSY very MIND EXPANDING weekend this weekend just past, as I spent it ALL at the Stratford East Musical Theatre Initiative. This was a three day WORKSHOP where they got together a bunch of people from different Musical Areas (e.g. DJ types, jazz singers, poets, proper musicians, playwrights... and me) to come together, TALK about how musicals work, and write together.

Put like that it sounds a bit airy fairy but GOOD GRAVY it was a LOT of WORK. We were basing everything around the play A Raisin In The Sun which is, by the way, AMAZING. It's like an alternate universe version of Arthur Miller or something. A few days before I'd been sent the WRONG play (which was a bit boring, to be honest) so ended up having to get up early on Saturday morning to read the RIGHT one (we'd gone with parents to see The Pajama Game on Friday night. REVIEW: it was Quite Good, especially the bits that featured GARY WILMOT) and RACED through. It's ace!

Anyway, we talked a LOT on Friday about Musicals Stuff and then looked at the play, TALKED some more, and then got put into pairs, given a character, and told to work out a part where they HAD to sing i.e. where we could say "In a musical, THIS is where the song has to be." I'm not explaining it very well because my BRANE is still full!

On Saturday I met with my writing partner Suzann in the morning and we WORKED on the song. By HECK but we WORKED on it, for THREE HOURS, talking EVERYTHING over, working through WORD by WORD, until we had something we were pretty pleased with. We then presented it to everyone else, as well as some people from the theatre (including Philip Hedley who was BRILLIANT) who then gave us feedback. Next day we were back in AGANE for ANOTHER three hours working on the song. This was, i reckon, the BEST bit. Usually when I write a song it gets tweaked a bit at gigs and so on, but I'd pretty much never go back and do a full RE-WRITE on every word, line, piece of tune etc etc. It was also GRATE working with someone who could actually SING, who went through every line of vocal melody making each one a) unique b) suit what the words were saying. When we took it back THAT afternoon it was approx 100 times better, with something approaching a proper arrangement too, and with all sorts of parts that I'd never have even THOUGHT to have put in myself, and wouldn't have been able to sing even if i could.

So yes, it was fantastic and will DOUBTLESS inform my FUTURE WORK e.g. me and Steve's next show. We then got bought a BEER and sat downstairs for a bit having an Actual Chat, as opposed to DISCUSSION of THEORY, which was lovely. They're doing a fortnight long version of the workshop later in the summer, and OBVS i would love to do it, but even if I don't I've learnt several TONNES of new stuff over this weekend. It's going to take a while for my BRANE to file it all!

posted 23/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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A Motivation For Saying RRRAAARGH
Life is ALL GO at the moment. Along with the rest of the nation we were up late on Saturday night watching the FOOPBALL (my verdict: it was actually ENJOYABLE, I'm not used that THAT with England, though a draw would not have gone amiss), but I had to get up early next morning to go to SCHOOL. On the way there it looked like I was the last man on EARTH, everyone else had clearly had a lie-in!

The reason for my early-ish rising was that we were having the first rehearsals for our SHOWCASE. This week there's an evening where all the people who specialised in playwriting have excerpts from their final scripts (i.e. our MA dissertation equivalent) performed by professional actors, and then next week us TV/film screenwriters do the same thing. Striding through an eerily silent Islington I was full of NERVES - I've been IN rehearsals many times for AMATEUR things, but had no idea what it would like being a) with PROFESSIONALS and b) The Writer, sat in the corner.

Luckily there were a few other people booked before me, so I got to sit and watch how it all worked, and decided that the best thing to do would probably be to sit to one side SMILING and AGREEING. I followed this plan to the LETTER (except once correcting the pronunciation of "Margot", while also smiling) and had a GRATE time. It was AMAZING to see and hear my WORDZ being done by Professional Actors, it was SORT OF like when you write a song and then see and hear someone else perform it - they put words in different places, bring NEW things to it, and you get the credit!

It was ACE and also seemed to actually WORK as a THING. I was especially pleased with how much dashing about there seemed to be, and that it appeared to make some kind of SENSE. There's a horde of mummies, an elephant gun, and a 12 foot tall Easter Island Head involved, so there was always a tiny chance that it WOULDN'T make sense, but I think the bit where the Easter Island Head went "RRRAAARGH!" and the Mummmies all go "UUUURRRGGH!" was BRILL!

I staggered out, delighted, and walked down to the British Library to see the Comics Unmasked exhibition. It was ALL RIGHT - it's always a bit odd seeing exhibitions at the British Library, as it's mostly just peering through glass cases at BOOKS or, more usually, trying to look over someone else's shoulder at them. I mean, i like books, but I have loads of them at home, and the same applies to comics - I have the same copies as many of the ones on display, so it wasn't quite as exciting as it might be! ALSO there was a weird early-90's BIAS to the display. I think (as I said to Mr Seb Patrick, who I bumped into on my way out) that more people read "Crisis" in the many many times it was featured in the exhibition than ever BOUGHT it at the time. It was EVERYWHERE, and yet there was hardly ANY mention of Viz, and I don't remember seeing Leo Baxendale ANYWHERE. And GOODNESS ME but I think one dummy wearing a "V" mask would have got the point across!

That said, there was lots of interesting stuff I'd not seen (though the BEST BIT was NOT a book, but was the actual helmet Karl Urban wore in the Judge Dredd Film), but I think I had more fun in the shop afterwards, where you could PICK UP comics and READ them!

posted 17/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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Moping Made Right
I had right mopey old day on Friday. MOPE i went all morning and MOPE i went (to increasingly high levels of MOPE) in the afternoon.

The reason for this UNUSUAL activity was that Friday was the deadline for TWO emails I was hoping to get. One was to find out if I'd got an internship at the TV Development Company that I'd gone to the week before, while the other was about taking part in a three day WORKSHOP for people who wanted to Advance Their Work In Musical Theatre. I know right? BOTH of them were very exciting opportunities - the first for reasons described the other day, the second because a) it sounded like fun b) it COULD lead to meeting Actual Broadway Producers!

Friday morning went by without event, and I thought "They both said I'd know by today - it'll probably be the afternoon then." The afternoon went by in quiet, the only noise being the sound of me clicking the refresh button on my email REPEATEDLY. I tell you what - since all this happened i have unsubscribed from a LOT of mailing lists. Every 5-10 minutes my phone would PING to let me know I had a new message, I would DASH to have a look at what it was, and then be upset to find it was ANOTHER newsletter/opportunity/idiot estate agent. It was like that episode of Ally McBeal (APPARENTLY: i, of course, was busy watching SPORT when it was on, ALWAYS) where a woman bought a case against a telemarketing company, who had a ROBOT ring her every five minutes when she was desperate for a Romantic Call. Like THAT!

It got to 5pm and I let loose all the thoughts that said "Oh well, it was never going to happen was it? Perhaps NOTHING EVER IS?!?" Yes yes, I know these are MOPEY thoughts of foolishness, HENCE their labelling as such. This led to me PANICKING about this whole Not Having A Job And Trying To Write For CA$H idea - i mean, it has been just over a MONTH, a whole FOUR WEEKS since I finished work officially, SuRELY by now I should be poolside in LA deciding which global conglomerate I would bless with my next pitch? I MOPED around the flat, did a MOPEY tweet (which several people reacted to with NICENESS), and generally felt SORRY for myself.

And then, about 7pm, an email arrived to say that I'd got a place on the Musical Workshop! And then about ten minutes later another arrived to say I'd got one of the internships! SUDDENLY I had to RETRACT the mope and do THE DANCE OF GLEE all around the flat, occasionally interspersed with going "EEP!" and "ZANG!" I texted The Headlines Of My News about it, and we went to the PUB to celebrate with PINTS! HOORAH!

The only downside to all this was that I was going to have PARENTS over this Friday and then some BEERS with chums on Saturday but now coudn't because of the Musicals Thing, so had to apologise all round, and also move a couple of other ITEMS to one side. That done I went back to dancing round the flat - this is going to be EXCITING!

posted 16/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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The Final Curtain
Yesterday Steve and I gathered at Kings Cross once more for an afternoon out in YORK. It was only a couple of hours later when we arrived in The Distant North that it struck me quite what a daft thing it is just to pop up to the other end of England for the evening and come back. "Whose idea was this?" I thought. Then remembered.

We were up there to perform Total Hero Team for the last time, at the York New Musicals Festival, run by Mr Jim Welsman. After a very very pleasant stroll through picturesque, sunny, York, we met the man himself at the theatre. Jim turned out to be LOVELY man who was full of enthusiasm for the whole IDEA of new musicals, and keen to make a big thing of this festival, which was only in its second year. He took us upstairs to the Actual Theatre we'd be playing in, and the three of us toyed around trying to get the lights working. After a while a proper Lighting Guy came and did it - he and Steve discussed the lighting effects, and I got told off for stepping straight through the back curtain into the dressing room. Dressing room! Curtains! SIDES! We were not used to such exotic items!

With the lights done and the props set up we had no option but to pop down the road for a couple of pints in the tranquil beer garden of the Tap And Stile nearby. We got back to the venue at about twenty to six and waited round nervously. We knew we'd sold SOME tickets, but nobody turned up at all until ten to, so we were AFEARED! As it turned out we had a very decent crowd of about twenty in (including at least ONE person who writes The Avengers, which is always exciting), who saw us do a slightly nervy (especially at the start) show that blossomed into a WHOLE LOT OF FUN. We discovered in this, our final show, that the way to FINALLY get a laugh out of the "Musical Pirates" joke is to EXPLAIN it at LENGTH. I'd been talking about this with The Punchline In My Gag the night before, and she'd said "OH! Is THAT what that jokes about?" and it turned out that the reason nobody ever laughed at it is nobody knows what we're on about. They're two people discussing an Extended Metaphor for music piracy, who do so in a song, while dressed as pirates. "Musical Pirates"! If only we'd known that sooner!

There were quite a few children in the room too, which always means that Come On Pussy gets a lot of TITTERS, and the whole thing ambled gently to a CLOSE with me saying, on Steve's suggestion, that "Fufu the future kitten will be back to try again at" rather than at the next gig, for LO! there would not be one! It felt a bit weird!

We thanked and hugged the marvellous Mr Welsman, promising to come back with the new show NEXT year (a new show which Steve and I had had our first meeting about on the way up - it will feature a TOP HAT somehow) then went back to the pub to meet Mr J Smith with Miss L and Master L Smith. I'd earlier been presented by some rather brilliant Dinosaur Planet FAN ART by Loula, featuring a lovely picture of a dinosaur harassing the main heroes and a RADICAL design for the Actual Dinosaur Planet, and now we were presented with PINTS by the senior member of the group. That's my kind of family!

With all that done we wandered back to the station for another beer in the York Tap and a very SNOOZY trip home. We arrived with Total Hero Team completely DONE, which means I can now FINALLY listen to the podcast of Moon Horse without confusing myself, then get on with writing the NEXT show!

posted 13/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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Olympic Feats
After staying up until 3am BOOZING the night before I was up until 4am on the final night of the tour due to TOOTH and related EARACHE. OW! It really hurt! This was especially galling as I had to be up at 7:30am in order to catch my train home, which meant that when I finally DID get home I was KNACKERED. What I really needed now was a nice calm weekend of relaxation. Instead I embarked upon a ROLLERCOASTER RIDE of ACTION!

The first part of this was a trip to the VELODROME, where we were booked to go CYCLING round the road track to celebrate The Landlady's birthday. I thought this was going to be a delightful potter around a quiet path for an hour, but it WAS NOT. The Velodrome appears to be JUST as organised as ALL sporting venues i.e. Not Very At All (I stick to my theory that all Sporting Venues are run by PE Teachers, and are thus CHAOTIC) as we had to go back and forth down a long corridor 200 times to get IN, get bikes, get helmets, and then get a "release form" for our under-18 group member. When we got ON the bikes it then turned into a PE lesson, with a man giving us very fast and complicated instructions for how to operate our very fast and complicated bicycles. Get this: I didn't really listen and only used the back wheel gears - apparently you can use them on the front wheel too nowadays IF YOU ARE A SQUARE. I was a REBEL! HA!

There was a LOT of huffing and puffing and ARSE ACHE and struggling up hills and general BIKE RIDING. I haven't been on a bike for about 20 years and it is true that you don't forget how to ride one, but it is also true that you don't forget quite how unpleasant it can be. SLOGGING round the course I thought "Can't i just walk instead?" It DONE ME IN!

After our hour was finished we staggered out, jelly legged, and went to have some LUNCH, before myself and The Seat On My Bike went and did a bit of SHOPPING. This has become a bit of a post-Rock Ritual for us. A couple of weeks ago we went to do a gig in bath BATH, had curry and beer, then came home and bought a TOWEL. Last week we went on a POLITICAL DEMO then had SCONES. This week I came off tour and we went and bought BEDDING. Then we went to Waitrose, then we went to the PUB - that sound you hear is THE MAN, WEEPING because he is unable to comprehend.

On SUNDAY we were out and about yet again - the Queen's Baton Relay was coming through the Olympic Park on its way to the Commonwealth Games, so we thought we'd go and have a look. It took a while to find, as there was no indication ANYWHERE where it would be or when, but eventually we tracked it down by the simple expedient of wandering around EVERYWHERE. We spotted a group of people, many in the same t-shirt, walking slowly behind a golf buggy with a policeman nearby. "That'll be it!" we said, picked up our beers (it was SUCH Holiday Weather that NOT having a Holiday Beer would have been rude) and followed them... and soon found ourselves PART of the procession. It was DELIGHTFUL - when the Olympic Torch had come through London there were huge crowd, loads of massive vehicles blasting out music and sponsorship, tons of police, and a fiercely regulated parade. Here there were, as I said, some people in similar t-shirts and a bobby, all following a golf buggy. We stood around and watched the baton being passed and then strode home, VERY happy with our experience.

And THEN i went into town to meet TWO batches of pals - Mr & Mrs FA Machine, who'd been down to London for a wedding, and Dr Neil and Ms C Tornbohm, my long-term CHUMS and erstwhile housemates, who'd met up slightly earlier. It turned into a rather MARVELLOUS couple of hours of chat, during which it emerged that not only did Cathy and Frankie come from the same area, but they'd been to the same SCHOOL (Frankie in the same class as Cathy's brother!) and when Cathy's family had left the area Frankie had taught TRUMPET to the child of the family who moved into their house! It was SPOOKY!

It was also a much needed FINALE to a very very very long weekend. I was looking forward to having a massive lie-in next day, but alas i needed to go in to work. WORK! UGH!

posted 11/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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Tour Diary 7: Nottingham
The last day of our tour dawned, for me, just after 9am with a MASSIVE KLAXON going off. I LEAPT out of bed... then got back in, sure that if it WAS a fire then someone would tell me later. Gav leapt so far out of HIS bed, it later turned out, that he ended up in a nearby Weatherspoons having breakfast, and discovered that the KLAXON had come from the pub next door to the hotel, who liked to test their KLAXON about once a week. If I had a KLAXON I'm sure I would test it as often as I could too, but I'd like to think I'd wait until later in the day.

Shortly before NOON Gav and I regrouped, and hopped into his car for the 40 minute journey to Nottingham... which took us nearly two and a half hours. His SatNav wasn't working to start with, so we tried to navigate BY INSTINCT. This wouldn't work well under the best of instinct-navigational conditions, and it definitely didn't work in BIRMINGHAM, which has been legendarily designed to CONFUSE. Even when the SatNav DID come into action we kept going a bit AWRY, mostly because we were swapping HIGH POWERED TALES OF ROCK. Well, i say "swapping" - an outside observer might have said that it was mostly me YAKKING ON.

We eventually made it to Nottingham, parked in an UPSETTING CAR PARK (all the corridors and ramps were too short/thin, and it seemed to be upside down), got me checked into the Ibis, then went for LUNCH. Suitably refreshed we embarked upon an Afternoon Out. Gav bought a toy Robin Hood Bow And Arrow in the Tourist Information Centre which gave me a PROUSTIAN RUSH as I'd had one exactly the same when I was about six, then we went to Forbidden Planet where I met Ed, who I used to know in Leicester but hadn't seen for about 15 years! After all THAT excitement we went to Nottingham Castle for a stroll through the garden, an ice cream, and a look at the gallery. Gavin TWINKLED at the lady on reception SO MUCH that she let us in for a pound each - move over Motley Crue, rock and roll has NEW KINGS!

Sated by culture we went back to the car and drove to distant Sherwood, where our venue for the evening was located. I'd never heard of The Guitar Bar before, but was won over by it IMMEDIATELY. It's sort of the function room for Hotel Deux, a big very old-fashioned hotel to which it is joined by a proper old-fashioned BAR, with those round copper topped dimpled tables from days of yore (the 1970s). The room was garlanded with GUITARS, a POOL TABLE on the wall and ROCK memorabilia, and there were THREE Real Ales on tap, the first of which was bought for us by the landlord. LIKE!

The Addistock Sessions. The idea is you do one of your own songs and then a cover. I did (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock and "Bring Me Sunshine" (which I'm considering learning up for Live Utilisation) and it was while Gav was doing a rather marvellous cover of "Don't Think Twice It's All Right" that Grace arrived, along with Jess aka Mrs Grace. We sat down for a quick chat (including tales of ROCK from our LONG night the night before) then Grace did HER session, we got soundchecked, then the four of us went to get CHIPS. Jess went for SLIGHTLY healthier options than the rest of us, and when she emerged to see us eating CHIPS said "Now THERE'S a photograph!" Here IS that photograph:

Next tour poster: SORTED! In fact there may BE another tour poster required, as it was agreed by all that we should TOTALLY do this again. There's a whole SLEW of towns we didn't make it to this time - Leicester, Sheffield, Brighton, Cambridge, Norwich, to name but a few - and it was a whole HEAP of fun that must surely be repeated.

The fun continued as it always has with a SMASHING gig. Gerry went on first and was dead good, then I went on and discovered how VERY VERY HOT it can GET in a small function room. It was the worst possible night to forget to bring my post-gig clean t-shirt as I was WREATHED in sweat, partly because of the sweat but also I think partly because of the RAGING TOOTHACHE I'd had all day. I BRAVELY carried on though, and did THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • Get Over It
  • That Guy
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • I Did A Gig In New York
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • It Only Works Because You're here

  • Previously Gav and Grace have done the "La la la la" bit in the MIDDLE EIGHT of "Only Works" so I thought i would leave this BEST BIT to the end. Look upon my DELIGHTED face in this video of it, to see how much I LOVED this happening!

    Good eh? Gav and Grace were as AMAZING as ever and, rather than me just SAYING that like I always do, allow me to DEMONSTRATE it with further videos:

    And thus the evening and tour came to an end. There were more hugs and high-fives, agreement to further UK touring (around October/November) to be followed maybe by a trip to EUROPE, and then Gav gave me a lift back into town. He'd been hoping to stay with CHUMS, but they seemed to have forgotten about it, so he set off into the night to get as far South as he could - Chelmsford, it turned out - before having a little Car Kip. I walked back to the Ibis, KNACKERED, but full of the joys of ROCK. I really hope we DO do this again, it was GRATE!

    posted 10/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Tour Diary 6: Birmingham
    Last Thursday I came into town for an early lunch with Mr John Dredge, to discuss WRITING STUFF. We usually do this on a Friday, but we had brought it forward this week for LO! I was on TOUR!

    This was the final leg of the "Two Men And A Little Lady" tour with Ms G Petrie and Mr G Osborn, and for me it kicked off with a relaxing hour sitting in the First Class Lounge at Euston Station. It was RAMMED, but the seats were quite comfy, and definitely nicer than the First Class on Virgin Pendolino trains, which is much like Standard Class on Virgin Pendolino trains i.e. HORRID, except they give you free BOOZE on weekdays. I often feel like i have SNUCK IN to First Class as I use High Level Pre-Organisation to book cheap tickets, but I felt even MORE so this time because everyone else in the carriage was doing BUSINESS. Oh the BUSINESS TALK that was flying around - meetings were arranged, events were discussed, discipline was applied and DEALS were being done.

    I felt a bit left out, but luckily I had my own appointment with a HIGH POWERED BUSINESSMAN when I got to Birmingham. I trundled round to Digbeth to visit 100% Vegan, the SHOP of Mr R Kirkham. I'd been to pick up some Vegan Chocs for him a couple of weeks ago in London, so was a) delivering them b) having a right old NOSEY around the shop. It was AMAZING - PACKED with every size, shape and flavour of every Vegan product you could IMAGINE. There was a Vegan version of pretty much EVERYTHING, and if I wasn't spending the next couple of days away from my FRIDGE i would have bought the LOT.

    With that done I trundled on to the Ibis, and texted Gav to arrange a meeting. He was ALSO staying in the Ibis, but as I went down to the lobby to find him I suddenly thought "Hang on, what if there's more than one Ibis in Birmingham?" JUST as I was thinking this I got a text from Gav saying "Are we in the same Ibis?" Spoilers: we were.

    With plenty of time to spare we headed off for a Cheeky Pint, and ended up a pub called The Crown, where a Local came over to tell us ALL ABOUT his encounters with the NHS, offer tips on where NOT to go should we experience issues with our Gall Bladders during our stay, and explained WHY he was voting UKIP. UNFORTUNATELY we couldn't stay for another pint, and FLED into a taxi and thence to Moseley. We got THERE really early too and, not being able to find a pub we went for a coffee instead. Earlier on that day I'd been checked into the Ibis by someone on his first day (it took AGES) and at the cafe I was dealt with harshly/weirdly by other First Dayers. It was little odd, but only made MORE so when the owner came out and gave the impression that he would be having them all SHOT!

    Eventually we were at the Ort Cafe at the right time for ROCK. Grace arrived, we had a long CHAT, and were offered food. It was a Veggie Cafe, and as soon as this was mentioned you could see the FEAR in Grace's eyes at the idea that she might have to eat a VEGETABLE. "Is there any cake?" she asked. I had a MASSIVE, also DELICIOUS, Full Veggie Breakfast, it was LOVELY.

    People arrived, the room gently filled, and it was SHOWTIME. As usual Gav and I had agreed, before she'd arrived, that Grace would be on last, but weren't sure who'd be on first. The matter was settled at 8.10pm when Gav got up and started SINGING. It was GRATE, obvs, and involved a LOT of singing along. Then it was my turn and I did THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • I Did A Gig In New York
  • A Little Bit
  • Get Over It
  • That Guy
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • Clubbing In The Week
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • I had a LOVELY time! I got on stage at 9pm so knew there was PLENTY of time to WAFFLE ON, and very much DID. I seemed to spend a lot of time talking about the benefits of having a My Waitrose card, which everyone seemed to take well. They were less appreciative of my peroration of praise for The Mentalist, probably because it the only people in the room who'd ever watched it were Mr Osborn and I. Anyway, apart from that I had a WHALE of time, it was GRATE!

    And then it was Grace who, as ever, ROCKED the entire room, and rocked it HARD. Post-gig there was some lurking, then some hugs, and a small group of us hopped into a taxi for MORE BOOZE over at the legendary Hare & Hounds pub. It turned into rather boozy, also LENGTHY, evening, which ended in the hotel bar with rather too much WHISKY not long before 3am. ROCK AND ROLL? We done it!

    posted 9/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Day Of Future And Past
    I had a funny old day yesterday, not least because I had to get up, get dressed, and COMMUTE at the same time as other people. I haven't done that for AGES and I did not like it one bit!

    The reason for my hideous TRAVAILS was that I had an INTERVIEW at 10:15am - not for a job, as such, but for an internship at a TV Development Company. We'd had an email about it come round our course, and I thought "Why not?" It would be for two-weeks over the summer, so I'd be free, and it would be interesting to have a look how it all works. The more I researched it, also, the more I thought that it would be a good thing to do. In the UNLIKELY event that i DON'T sell a script for a million quid before September I'm probably going to need to get another job, and it might be rather a lot more fun to get a job doing something similar to what I've done before, but in a more INTERESTING field. Epidemiology has been good to me over the years, but I'm a LOT more keen on Telly!

    It felt very strange when I got there as I was TREMENDOUSLY AWARE that the other people applying would probably be about 20 years younger than me, and a lot less OAFISH and SWEATY. Despite all that, the interview itself was ACE - we sat and basically talked about TELLY for half an hour, something which I THOROUGHLY enjoy doing, and I even got to do my "Why The Mentalist Is BRILLIANT" speech.

    I think it went OK, but it's over ten years since I last had any kind of job interview, so have no real way of knowing. Whatever happens, it was VERY interesting to have a look around and certainly gave me THORTS about my future work. I should put that on my LinkedIn page shouldn't I?

    After all that FUTURE THORT I took a gentle step into the recent PAST later that day, as I travelled out to distant Tottenham to meet Mr S Hewitt for a REHEARSAL, ready for our performance of Total Hero Team next Thursday in York. Since moving to the Olympic Village EVERYWHERE has become easier and usually QUICKER to reach ... EXCEPT for Tottenham, which is now an almighty pain in the behind to get to. It's actually, I think, NEARER to us geographically, but without direct access to the GOBLIN Overground Line it takes FOREVER to get there!

    Thus I ended up running slightly late when I got to Tottenham Hale, and saw a sign saying "This is an Abellio Greater Anglia" (stupid name) "ticket barrier - Do not use your Oyster tickets at this barrier... Use Alternative Exit" as I SWOOPED by. "All right", I thought, "I'll follow the signs to the other exit". However, when I got there it turned out the other exit was CLOSED, with signs saying "Use alternative exit". Was i TRAPPED? I went back and interrupted two Abellio Greater Anglia (stupid name) staff having a chat and asked how to get out. "Through the barrier" they said. I pointed at the sign. "No," they said - if you read on, to the FOURTH LINE of the poster, which you would only see if you STOPPED, read past the FIRST LINE, continued reading further, and digested the message, it said (in bold) "Do not use your Oyster tickets at this barrier" then (not in bold) " if you already have a paper ticket for your destination. If you have a paper ticket PLEASE USE ALTERNATIVE EXIT." They seemed astonished that anyone would not stop and read the entire poster before eventually discovering it did not have any relevance to EVERYBODY USING THE TRAIN or that, even for the few to whom it might apply, it was WRONG as there was NO OTHER EXIT. It was all A Bit Annoying!

    ANYWAY, for all of the above reasons I rolled up a couple of minutes late to find Steve back in our usual rehearsal room, with our usual "audience" i.e. Diana Ross and a range of Motown Stars in pictures on the wall. She loves us, Diana Ross, she never misses a practice. Neither of us had done a HUGE amount of revision (I'd practiced most of the guitar songs a few days ago, but that was it) so hopes were not HIGH. Still, we've got ANOTHER practice booked before the show, so I said "this is the one that makes us panic, learn it, and do it properly next week".

    We launched into the show and - blow me! it was GRATE! There were a couple of places where we stumbled, occasional lapses in concentration and confidence but, as Steve said at the end, it was better than several actual PERFORMANCES! Clearly NOT doing the show for a couple of months is the best preparation for doing it again!

    We emerged VICTORIOUS, also EARLY, and headed of home light of heart and RELIEVED that it was probably going to be OK. It'll also probably be the last time EVER we do it, which means that, in a week or two, I can start writing the NEXT show. We have a DRAMATURGY meeting pencilled in for the trip home from York, where we discuss what we'd like to see in the next show and what we WOULDN'T. I'm asking for MORE tap dancing and LESS heavy props - I bet this is EXACTLY how the RSC work out their shows!

    posted 4/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Tour Diary 5: London
    Sunday found me back on the road, heading all the way into... well, Central London, where Mr G Osborn, Ms G Petrie and I were due to continue our tour with an afternoon show at The Lexington, arranged by those fine fellows of The Hangover Lounge.

    Things got off to a delightful start when I STOMPED up the road from Kings Cross, stopped, turned, and realised I had just passed Mr S Lamacq, who was also on his way to the gig. Bumping into marvellous people would become something of a THEME for the afternoon, as when we arrived there were yet MORE, not least organisers Mr J Jervis and Mr B Clancy and , shortly after, my colleague Mr S Hewitt. Also in atendance was BEER, of which I would enjoy quite a bit.

    Gav was already there, and Grace was Running Late - this has happened with MOST gigs so far, though this time it was due to a Rail Replacement Bus Service. They're like flares, Rail Replacement Bus Services - they always seem to come back into fashion.

    At about quarter to two I went upstairs to sort out chairs, only to find that Jerv had already been up and DONE it, becase he is so ACE. All that was left to do then was to wander round downstairs HERDING people up - we had to start at 2pm because we had to finish at 4pm prompt, and I was KEEN to get people in. I expected about 20 or so people, but in the end there were over EIGHTY! It was PACKED!

    Gav decided to go on first (we argued the point for Artistic Reasons, and not at ALL because we were both aware of Afternoon Drinking occurring) and was ACE. I badgered him into doing his "Over 30" song, which he's not done on this tour so far because, he said, it overlapped rather with my 20 Things To Do Before You're 30. He was sort of right, it does SHARE THEMES but with a different TWIST. Also I like the bit about going "Unh!"

    Then it was me, and I did THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • Strangely Attractive
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • That Guy
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • IT Guy Addendum
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • I think maybe doing Strangely Attractive was a MIS-STEP - I had a NARRATIVE worked out in my BRANE which required something to be done from Dinosaur Planet but it meant I was doing a Rather Quiet song right at the start - but otherwise I had a GRATE time. The "stage" area (i.e. one end of the room) was large and I'd had a couple of beers so there was quite a lot of DANCING ABOUT, and also REMARKS and VALID POINTS. It was HUGE fun, especially having such a large group of people there to tit around in front of, most of whom had never seen me before. Hoorah!

    And then it was Grace who was, as per, BRILL. There was a group of Noticeably Younger people in the room who we'd (correctly) identified as Grace Fans and they WHISPERED along to nearly every song. It was wonderful - at one point Grace stopped and gently encouraged them to sing up a bit, and they did in choruses, but every now and again you'd catch a trace of some of them WHISPERING along with the verses. It was beautiful!

    And after THAT we returned downstairs for a couple more hours of DRINKING. When introducing 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 I always say that there are some things you SHOULD do before you're 30, as you won't be able to do them half as well later on, and GOOD LORD but this is SO TRUE of afternoon drinking. By 6pm I was a COMPLETE WRECK and had to tell myself to STAGGER OFF HOME, though not before a) hugging everyone b) knocking a pint of BEER over a pair of Producers talking to Grace and c) hugging everyone AGAIN.

    When I got home I had to have a BATH and a NAP, which only really helped insofar as they kept me CONTAINED for a couple of hours when I might otherwise have been FALLING OVER things. When I eventually went to bed properly I didn't get to sleep until nearly 3am - this might have been partly because of the NAP, but it was largely because my BRANE kept remembering bits of the day just gone by and thinking "HA! That was BRILLIANT!" I'm really going to miss this tour when it's over!

    posted 2/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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