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Blog Archive: July 2014

Indietracks Saturday
Saturday morning dawned with a DOUBLE EMERGENCY. First of all I felt MYSTERIOUSLY UNWELL. I can hardly fathom it, i felt tired, headache-y, and my stomach - which should have felt happy to be full of GOPAL's curry again - was oddly jumpy. Maybe it was a bug?!? Secondly, my GLASSES were broken! Somehow the inner nose pad had got twisted overnight (also due to the mystery ailment perhaps?) and in the morning the pad broke OFF. I spent several minutes thinking "It'll be fine. OUCH!" before bringing the problem to the attention of Tom. Within 15 minutes we were in the Tigermobile once more, HARING to Boots in town, where they very kindly put TWO new pads in AND cleaned my glasses for FREE. Thanks Boots!

It was odd being back in Leicester town centre on a Saturday - not only did we go into the Car Park near where The Phoenix used to be, which I'd never been into before, but I also got very very low level Proustian Rushes from knowing where to go in Boots. It's like nostalgia for something I did loads of times during my 14 years living there but which never really had any emotional resonance, a sort of strangely flavoured very gentle emotion that you only get from old places like that.

Anyway, with that done we headed back to Tiger Towers, filled a HUGE BOX with literally HUNDREDS of CDs (also badges, posters and vinyl) then put it, along with various amps, instruments, drums and US into the Tigermobile and ZOOMED to the festival site. This time we went to the Swanwick Junction entrance, so got to wave at people walking up from the Campsite, leaning out of the window to say hello as we swept past at over ten miles an hour. ROCK STARS! When we got to the car park we met The Pattisons, fresh from a wedding the previous night, and then LUGGED gear into the site itself. Me and Tom went to the Gear Store from three years ago, which isn't there any more, so had to turn round and lug it all the way back to the new one. We had a lot of heavy stuff!

The next hour featured some light beer intake, watching some of Skeletal Shakes (who were ace) saying hello to more pals, and general lurking around. I said hello to lots of small children, many of whom were wearing Dinosaur Planet t-shirts, and got the distinct impression that, though it may not have gone down totally brilliantly with The Indie Community, the Dinosaur Planet album DOES have fans among the under-10s. In ten years time we'll be playing it in stadiums, you mark my words!

After being told by various concerned people that it was nearly show-time (or "Hibbett o'clock" as some people hem hem were calling it, i wish they wouldn't but wot can one do eh?) we gathered at the stage and got ourselves set up. The sound crew were REALLY nice and took their time with us as we MARVELLED at the fact that we were each getting our OWN mix in our OWN monitor! We also got bottles of WATER, it was well swanky.

With soundcheck done me and Frankie went to get a beer. There was a big queue so I went for a WEE, during which I passed several people heading to see us and looking CONFUSED that I was going in the opposite direction. When I got back to the bar there was PANIC as we were due on NOW but Frankie hadn't got served. Luckily Mr A Hale offered to get them in and save the day. PHEW!

We gathered nervously backstage, ready for our Walk-On music. I'd spent weeks (honesty time: actually YEARS) thinking about what we could go on stage to for this, our GRAND RETURN, and had settled on "The Boys Are Back In Town". The other day I mentioned this to The Hits On My Compilation who said "Naaah", thought about it for a minute, and came up with a MUCH better idea. As the song played Frankie got a bit over-excited and had to be RESTRAINED from running on-stage too soon, so that we could all go on stage together to the chorus of "Back For Good".

Here is the short summary of what happened next: basically, it could not have gone any better, not even in the many many many times I have daydreamed about it for the past three years. How could we fail with an audience that looked like THIS?

If you click on that image you'll see a REALLY BIG version full of lots and lots of familiar faces (almost) all of whom are smiling (the exception being our two biggest fans to the right!), it's lovely. Is it any wonder that I forgot the words once or twice? I kept being distracted by spotting PALS!

In technical news, it turns out that practicing your entire set, in order, is a REALLY good idea, as it means you all know what's coming next AND know you have time to make some REMARKS and also get to do actual SEGUES. Here is what we did:
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • I Want To Find Out How It Ends
  • The Gay Train
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • And do you know what? It seemed to WORK. I'd been imagining myself saying "65 million years ago the Dinosaurs disappeared, and now... WE'RE back" for THREE YEARS and it was just as satisfying as I'd hoped it would be. The new songs went down well, much to my relief, and 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 was the song people asked about later more than ANYTHING (Emma's PROPS in this worked dead well too - cardboard signs which will be RE-USED!). Perhaps the only mis-step was going STRAIGHT from The Lesson Of The Smiths into Easily Impressed - as Tim said afterwards, we don't get the chance to be applauded by hundreds of people THAT often, it felt a shame to do ourselves out of a song's worth by doing a segue!

    My biggest memory of the whole thing was standing and saluting the audience, walking off stage to the sound of Shania Twain singing "Still The One" (also as suggested by The Verse In My Song), looking back and seeing Frankie at the top of the gang plank, PUNCHING THE AIR! "That was the best gig ever", said Emma, and after a VERY VERY VERY SWEATY group hug (it was HOT!) the following selfie was taken:

    Very happy Validators! With that done we packed up, lugged our gear round to the equipment store (stopping to say "Thank you - we enjoyed it too!" to several people) and then headed for the Merchandising Tent for our alloted hour of selling CDs. We'd announced a Special Deal - any item for a fiver or FOUR for a tenner - because we are dead generous and certainly not because Tom and I have TONNES of boxes of unsold CDs cluttering up our houses. We'd worked out a system - Tom in charge, Tim and Frankie on sales, me and Emma front of house, looking delightful - and it seemed to work as we spent most of the hour DOING SALES. It was VERY exciting, we shifted BLOODY LOADS, although to be honest quite a lot of things (especially vinyl) went by us chucking more and more stuff at people, saying "No! come back! let me give you more things!" I'd stamped lots of paper bags with the "VALID" stamp which was a dead good idea, as you could fit loads of stuff into them to force people to take away. We also ended up SIGNING lots of stuff, which we all enjoyed VERY MUCH INDEED.

    After a joyous stock-take, during which Tom and I saw huge bright vistas of CLEARED SHELF SPACE back home, we all went and put stuff back in cars, then returned to enjoy an afternoon of SMILES and SUNSHINE and BEERS and PALS and the general loveliness that is Indietracks. My main memory of this section involve me, Frankie and Tom sitting in the train carriage bar UTTERLY DAZED by it all, unable to do anything but stare into space. We'd end up there again several times over the course of the day, but not before wandering over to the Indiepop Singalong to a) SINGALONG b) do a quite "refreshed" version of "Boom Shake The Room" in a sandpit.

    By about 11pm I was feeling like I'd been stood in the sunshine all day drinking beer and sweating and, after checking, discovered a similar feeling amongst my colleagues. After hugging as many people as we could on the way out we hopped back into the Tigermobile, dropping Mr & Mrs Machine off in Derby and before too long Tom and I were back at Tiger Towers, drinking whisky and thinking "Cor! That was GRATE!"

    Next day the reality of post-Indietracks comedown hit me. How long is it until next year?

    posted 29/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Indietracks Friday
    You find me sat gawping into space, very happy and very exhausted, for LO! it was Indietracks this weekend!

    On Friday I met Mr T McClure at Tiger Towers and, after a STRATEGY MEETING re: maximising sales potential (or, to put it another way, "Oh God, where did all these old CDs come from?") we headed off to Ripley. We arrived at Butterley Station and were IMMEDIATELY embroiled in saying hello to people, also HUGGING. The train seemed to be taking AGES to arrive, so Tom, myself and Mr G Anderson CALLED IT by walking off towards the site on foot. Within SECONDS the train arrived. MAGIC.

    It's been ages since I last went to Indietracks, so when we got to the main site it took me a while to reacclimatise to the fact that at least 50% of the people I know in the whole world were in THE SAME PLACE and also that there were ALSO loads of people there I didn't know but who DID know me. This is the only place on the entire planet that we get to find out what it's like being slightly famous, and it took some time to remember how to deal with it, but once I did - SMILE at everybody, HUG anyone within grabbing distance, and if you DON'T know them you will within a few seconds - it was lovely.

    Mr FA Machine arrived not long after us, and he, Tiger and I settled into a steady rotation of BEER and Ambling About. We were joined for much of the evening by Mr & Mrs P Wilson and had a DELIGHTFUL time of it. LOADS of people had told me that i HAD to listen to The Chills so I did, and can confirm that yes, they certainly did sound like a Legendary Indie Band and I reckon if I knew the songs it would have been MIND BLOWING.

    The highpoint of the day though was seeing Allo Darlin who, it may surprise you to know because I hardly ever mention it, I REALLY REALLY LIKE. The first half of the set featured a lot of new stuff, which sounds great, but things really kicked off about 30 minutes in. I'd gone off to the bar for BEERS and came back to find the ENTIRE SITE in SILENCE, all listening to "Tallulah". It was astounding, and then it was HIT after HIT after HIT. They got Emma Kupa on for "Silver Dollars" and THEN got Katie and David from The Just Joans on for "If You Dont't Pull". EVEN BETTER than all that though was at the end when they segued into "You Can Call Me Al". You could feel the tension growing as everyone in the audience thought "Hang on - this is the one with That Bass Solo in it, surely they can't..?" and when Mr B Botting DID do That Bass Solo the whole site ERUPTED!

    When the gig was finished we stood AGOG in a crowd of similarly stunned people, GRINS plastered all over the place. "They're like a proper band!" we all said, for LO! it felt (as it so often does with them) as if one of OUR bands had not only Become Big but had also STAYED as one of our bands. I suggested that surely we could all pack up and go home now, as nothing could possibly top THAT and that any band attempting to play afterwards would be on a FOOL'S ERRAND, then remembered that WE were playing next day. Ah!

    We set off to go home but accidentally had loads more beer on the way, so by the time we fell into the Tiger Mobile two thirds of us were a bit tiddly. Back at Tiger Towers we had a nice settling whisky before I concluded that, what with one thing and another, BED was probably the best plan. We had a big day planned for tomorrow!

    posted 28/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Most Professional Band In The World
    On Monday night I was in Leicester yet again for ANOTHER Validators practice. This was our second practice for Indietracks - that's two more practices than we have most YEARS!

    I met Mr FA Machine at Leicester station and we got a taxi to The Forester's Arms, opposite our rehearsal room. It's an amazing pub, as it's EXACTLY like all the pubs I first drank in in Leicester back in 1989, even down to the green paint on the outbuilding doors - I suspect that that's probably because it hasn't been redecorated since then. We had a cheeky half then wandered over to Stayfree, but when we got to the entrance I suddenly realised that it was 6pm and we weren't booked to start until 6.30pm. I've never been that early for anything in my life (and i VERY MUCH DOUBT that Frankie has!) so we went back to the pub for a pint. You can be TOO professional.

    Half an hour later we were back and once the full set of Validators had arrived we set to work. At the last practice we agreed a list of ten songs and, on the train to Leicester, I worked out an order. To my ASTONISHMENT everybody seemed fine with it, so we tried it out and... it worked! We even TIMED it, leaving gaps between the songs for REMARKS and including a rather lengthy Phaser Pedal Repair Section (it was - AHAHAHAA - just a "phase" it was going through, but - ROFL MAX - Tom was not "phased" by it) we got the whole set done in 42 minutes. We've got 40 minutes on stage, so I reckon, including Playing More Quickly On Stage in the mix, we should be PERFECT.

    Also during the session we discussed a PROP that Emma's making for 20 Things To Do Before You're 30, discussed alternative lyrics for That Guy (which mostly involved saying "wanking" a lot: INTELLECTUALS AT PLAY) and said the phrase "he's dead now" repeatedly and LARFING. For some reason this has become a new BUZZ PHRASE amongst The Vlads. I'm sure it is something that will NEVER EVER EVER go horribly wrong and be said in the wrong context. Inevitably, by me.

    With all that done we fell to the lengthy process of discussing which pub we would go to and eventually settled on The Criterion, where we had a lovely pint, told several stories, and appeared to agree to start recording a new album in NOVEMBER. This time we're planning NOT to have huge explosions or orchestras, and try instead to do a 30 minute Mostly Just The Band album of HITS. Mind you, we always say that, so who knows?

    posted 23/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Making Use Of The Facilities
    After all the FAMILY that we'd been surrounded by on Saturday, Sunday found us all in need of some QUIET TIME, so I headed to my local Biggest Shopping Centre In Europe to try out a NEW THING: sitting in a cafe with my laptop!

    Yes I know people have been doing this for donkey's years, but not me. Usually the given reason for doing it is that it makes you GET ON with work you have that needs doing, but this is not usually a problem for me. HOWEVER I'm working on ONE particular thing at the moment that a) i am way behind on b) has a very definite, very soon deadline and c) is not as interesting PER SE as playing Candy Crush. THUS I sat down for two hours and ... well, DID IT! It was amazing - the complete lack of distraction (apart from other people obvs) meant I had nothing much else to do (except for use the M&S Cafe WiFi) and the sooner I GOT ON and FINISHED IT the sooner I could go home. The only problem was the need for having a WEE. I've got EVERYTHING on this here laptop, so had to time wee breaks for when I'd finished a cuppa and could pack everything up. Still, it felt dead MODERN to be sat drinking tea typing away in a cafe, I reckon I'll be doing it again!

    In the afternoon I saw an advert for "Guardians Of The Galaxy", which reminded me that I hadn't seen "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes" - the BRANE process was "Ooh! I'll go and see that next week! Hang, I've not seen that other film I want to see yet. Can't go and see TWO films in one week , must go now!" - so DID. COR! It was bloody brilliant - i LOVED the first one, and this one was even better, also DIFFERENT. It was a PROPER science fiction film, with thought and ideas and ACTION and EXCITEMENT and TALKING MONKEYS. Crikey oh riley tho - the special effects were AMAZING. I completely FORGOT it was all wizardry and tricks, they were SO good. I've seen a few reviews complain about the effects, but maybe seeing it in Sensible 2D rather than BRAIN BLEEDING 3D made a difference. Either way, it was the best film I've seen for AGES, and is STILL lingering in my MIND.

    Then, on the way home, just round the corner from our house, I saw this:

    STANDARD EVENT for East Village my dears. If you look very very closely you may be able to detect the look of SHEER CONTEMPT on the face of the driver, who is trying to make a phone call while MANY MANY PASSIING MEN keep stopping, staring, and taking pictures!

    posted 22/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    London Sightseeing Tour
    We had a whole batch of PARENTS over the weekend. A large part of this was my Dad and Step-Mum, who had come up to see my brother off at the airport (he was in London for a bit after my sister's wedding a fortnight ago - there has been a LOT of my family in our lives lately!!) and then came to stay with us for a couple of nights.

    On Thursday we went out for drinkies, and I MOOTED my cunningly devised plan for A Stroll Round Westminster, including going to see The Changing Of The Guards. Before I could get to that bit, however, they said "Ooh! We went to see The Changing Of The Guards yesterday, also hung around in Westminster!" Ah.

    Seeking new ideas I asked if there was anything else they'd like to see while they were here, and Dad suggested a) The Cutty Sark b) Tibits restaurant. These were EASILY agreed to, and so come Friday we set off to SIGHTSEE.

    We started off by catching the DLR from my (VERY) local station, Stratford International. I pretty much NEVER use this line, as it doesn't really go anywhere I need to go to, but this time we went STRAIGHT to Royal Victoria (getting Dad and Lin to sit in the front and DRIVE) then wandered across some tarmac to the Emirates Air-Line. This is the ludicrous SKI LIFT that goes across the Thames, starting in NOWHERE and going to a BUS STATION. It is one of the very most RIDICULOUS things that that idiot Boris Johnson has done while Mayor - it's actually one of the few things he HAS done too - so all the way there I was thinking "What a stupid construction this is!" However, it IS an awful lot of fun, and you DO get jolly good views, and it was WEIRDLY ENJOYABLE to be able to gain access using your Oyster Card. It was a bit alarming when the wind blew though, so I don't think I will be adding to its numbers and becoming its FIFTH regular user!

    We continued our London Transport Odyssey by getting a BUS to Greenwhich, where we had the first of TWO visits to the Admiral Hardy pub. It was dead nice, I liked it IMMEDIATELY due to the big picture of Brett & Bernard from Suede on the wall. Once PINTED we went to the Cutty Sark, which was GRATE, especially the collection of figureheads which a) looked like a Steampunk Sergeant Pepper and b) appeared to feature Ms J Lockyer.

    We popped back to the pub for LUNCH then used ANOTHER form of transport to get to Westminster - a BOAT! Appropriately enough post-Cutty Sark we used the Thames Clipper which took a WHILE but was rather luxurious. It was also rather WARM, as it was London's Hottest Day Of The Year and London's Air Conditioning Systems were not equipped to deal with it. We got off the boat (Dad only JUST managing it, as he'd lost his ticket) and went for a RECUPERATING DRINK in St Stephen's Tavern which, as ever, was full of tourists who have read about how pubs work and WILL NOT BE SWAYED. This is usually Quite Sweet, but was a bit annoying this time as they seemed to be getting ONE DRINK AT A TIME for large groups, and then SHRIEKING.

    Next stop was St James's Park where, ALARMINGLY, we saw a Pelican trying to eat a Pigeon, which did NOT want to be eaten. That's not normal, is it? It wasn't pleasant, so we went to look at Downing Street (gates), the Cenotaph, Trafalgar Square and then came back to meet The Sights On My Tour and headed off to Tibits for tea. We got a TUBE home - all we needed to complete the set was a TRAM!

    On Saturday we did THE OLYMPIC PARK which was amazing as per, then waved off THOSE parents only to head back into town to meet my Mum, Step-Dad, Sister, FOUR NEPHEWS and also my brother for a evening when it was, to be honest, US doing most of the shouting and shrieking as we introduced the aforesaid nephews to the joys of "The Lady on the horse goes NIM NIM NIM" etc etc etc. It was GRATE!

    posted 21/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Geek Show-Off
    On Tuesday evening, after a busy busy day of TYPING, I set off into town to The Star Of Kings in Kings Cross (formerly The Crossed Kings, which was far too confusing a name) where I was due to do a spot at Geek Show-Off. This is the spin-off from Science Show-Off and Museums Show-Off, which in themselves are related to Bright Club in that it's an evening where (usually) non-comedians do brief stand-up sets about a subject they're interested in.

    This was originally meant to be a science or museum night, but I saw Mr S Cross, host, mentioning on Facebook that he was thinking of changing it to a geek night if he could get enough speakers, and asking Mr A Sarll if he could maybe do something about comics. Alex couldn't do it, so I thought "Hang on! I've got that THING that's been in my BRANE for months, maybe I could do that?" I volunteered, was accepted, and thus the booking got booked.

    When I got to the pub I found Mr S Hewitt at the bar. This has happened EVERY time I've met him recently (maybe he's just ALWAYS at the bar?) so, conscious of how often this has led to him being forced to buy me BEER I politely declined his offer and went downstairs to check in with the organisers. As ALWAYS happens when I do ANYTHING to do with the world of comedy I had arrived about an HOUR before anybody else, so said "I'm here!" and then came back upstairs for a pint with The Hewitts. We decided to SENSIBLY have some tea, so I had a Kimchi Quesadilla which was a) very very nice b) basically a cheese toastie.

    Soon it was showtime, and I spent the next couple of hours enjoying enthusiastic people enthusing about (variously) corsets, personality tests, dung beetles, Kanye West, and many other topics. I was on LAST, so my turn didn't come around until just before 10pm, when I strode MANFULLY and slightly nervously towards the stage to deliver my talk, entitled "Marvel vs. DC - which is better?"

    My idea was to compare the two companies in terms of political attitudes - the basic idea is that most of DC's main superheroes come from incredibly privileged backgrounds of unearned powers (Batman is a billionaire, Wonder Woman is a Princess, Superman got powers simply by arriving etc etc etc) whereas Marvel's are mostly Working Class Intellectuals (Spider-man, Captain America, even Doctor Doom). YES I KNOW there are flaws in this argument (tho NOT MANY) but I was surprised, once I got going, by how strongly I felt about it, especially when talking about efforts made by each company towards diversity in recent times. I did try to mostly do it for LARFS, but in Informal Breakout Groups (the pub) afterwards, I found I could expand it a) seriously b) in other directions. Maybe this will be my PhD after retirement??

    It was a lovely evening, and GRATE to be able to exert myself in a completely different way to normal. The only trouble is, now I've got the slides done, I want to do it AGANE!
    posted 17/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Warm-Up
    I headed up to Leicester once again on Saturday for a Weekend Warm-Up. The Validators were booked for a REHEARSAL and also a GIG as part of our ongoing preparations for Indietracks in a couple of weeks so, after checking into my usual suite at the Ibis, I collected Mr FA Machine off the train, went for a cheeky pint, then met up with everybody else in Stayfree.

    We had a JOLLY GOOD rehearsal during which we worked through most of our MENU of new songs, had a runthrough of lots of older songs, and even had a first attempt at That Guy. It's become so much fun doing the current batch of new songs that I'd forgotten how much EFFORT it takes to learn them. Can't we all just KNOW them right from the start? It would be a LOT more efficient. I think we'll get there with this one, though The Pattisons did object to part of the lyrics. It may end up being "weeping in a bush" for the radio edit!

    We finished with a surprisingly MATURE and ADULT setlist discussion (i.e. nobody cried) then headed off to The Cookie, where we were due to play later that evening. The High Street in Leicester has been pedestrianised, so this meant a TERRIFYING crawl through crowds of people setting off for their Saturday night. It was SCARY!

    We unloaded, then helped Tim set the drumkit up - logically I don't mind this at all, but I can't help feeling PERSONALLY SLIGHTED whenever we do this. Surely I should be backstage drinking cocktails from the jacket pockets of supermodels, not fastening the seat of a drum stool?

    That done we popped over the road to the Orange Tree for TEA, where I marvelled at how glamorous people in Leicester seem to have become these days. I'm sure it wasn't like this when I lived there - maybe I was bringing the average down? Back at the venue we watched Sweet Baboo and H Hawkline do their soundchecks (NB they are the same people, but in different orders) and then we did ours. It all took AGES. It's weird - when this happens I always feel a bit aggrieved at having such a pernickety soundman, but actually this is DAFT. A soundman who's BOTHERED and takes a while to get it right always makes for MUCH better sound, especially when you're as Crash Bang Wallop as what we are. He did a GRATE job in the end, it sounded lovely!

    We were on first, and this is what we did:
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • I Want To Find Out How It Ends
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • We Did It Anyway
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • It was highly enjoyable, also VERY HOT INDEED. I remember the cellar of the Cookie from A MILLION YEARS AGO when it was The Cellar Bar, and I don't remember it ever being like that. Mind you I don't remember it being a pleasant place to hang around in either! There were Proper Lights, so we couldn't see the audience, but they seemed to like it, I think. There was quite a good few by the end, including Andy and Nat from Indietracks, who'd clearly decided they wouldn't be seeing ENOUGH bands this weekend!

    Sweet Baboo and H Hawkline were GRATE, tho we did have to occasionally have to keep nipping upstairs, just to get some AIR. During one of these sorties I discovered Leicester Legend Stevie Marmite, who I'd not seen for YEARS, and who was on VERY fine form. It turned out that Tim hadn't seen him since before him and Emma had got MARRIED - crikey!

    With the gig done there was some beer, some chat, and then quite a lot of LUGGING of gear before everyone set off in their seperate directions. I stuck around for a chat, and then thought I should maybe go and ask about CA$H. The deal was that they'd give us two quid per person who'd come to see us - this would have amounted to about twenty quid, which is hardly OODLES (I'm sure most of us spent that much on BOOZE each!) but it was still a bit upsetting when the venue told me they wouldn't be paying us at all. Apparently they hadn't counted who'd come to see what, so "couldn't" pay us. I was a) stunned b) annoyed, not least because I'd just seen them paying the other acts, but there wasn't a huge amount I could do about it. I guess this is why Chuck Berry demands payment in CA$H before he goes on!

    Apart from that slightly sour note it was a DELIGHTFUL evening, and I strolled home in a cooling drizzle thinking thoughts of Indietracks. Not long now!

    posted 14/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Dur Brain Day
    I was a right old dur brain yesterday on not one but TWO occasions.

    The first instance occurred with regards to the Indietracks Compilation which is available right NOW. It's a rather marvellous selection of 56 (FIFTY SIX!) songs by people playing the Indietracks festival later this month, including US. It is a thing of beauty, but it inspired PANIC in me yesterday morning when the festival organisers emailed all the acts to tell us it would be online at 7pm. "Aha!" I thought, "I wonder where our song is in the listing?" and followed the link in the email to have a look.

    Our song wasn't there! PANIC! I immediately emailed them to point it out, thinking it had been forgotten - bear in mind that since last we played Indietracks I have spent YEARS dealing with various Theatre and (especially) Comedy organisations who are - SHALL WE SAY - not necessarily the most organised people in the world. I am conditioned to the idea that MISTAKES will be made and EVERYTHING needs checking... which in this case proved to be entirely correct, as when I CHECKED the email again I saw that the MISTAKE was mine. The message very clearly said that this year's album wouldn't be there until 7pm, and so what I was looking at was LAST year's compilation. Oops. What a DUR BRAIN!

    Several apologetic emails to various organisers later I was ready to go for a LUNCHTIME PINT with my old pal Mr C Lawson. I arrived bang on time at the pre-arranged pub, got a pint in, looked at the menu, and awaited his arrival. I didn't expect him to be as timely as I, as I don't think he'd been to that pub before, but after 10 minutes I thought I'd best send a text to check he was OK. I got my phone out and saw our previous text conversation, arranging to meet in this very pub on Wednesday the 16th. I had arrived for our meeting a WEEK early. Oops. What a DUR BRAIN!

    I slunk back to the office (I was working off one of the days I still "owe" them) where I spent the afternoon re-writing paragraphs about childcare in Kazakstahn (i shall miss the GLAMOUR when it's finally all over) and then went to ANOTHER pub to meet ANOTHER old pal, Mr S Wilkinson, for a couple of hours of nattering in an arena where DUR BRAINISHNESS would pass unnoticed. Luckily I had got this appointment correct, and we had a delightful time, culmminating in the pub filling up with a coachload of NANS. It was lovely!

    posted 9/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Tour De France
    This afternon I nipped out to see a Major Sporting Event, for LO! The Tour De France was coming through the Olympic Park, 10 minutes from our flat. It would have been rude not to really.

    I'd looked up the times online and felt a bit cheeky rolling up at 3.05pm, expecting the leaders to come by in exactly 6 minutes. It turned out I needn't have felt so bad, as they didn't turn up for another half an hour, so instead we watched loads and loads of cars, motorbikes, and a van full of GENDARMES go by. There was a really big, happy, excited crowd stood lining the route all the way that I could see, and I found the whole thing rather WORRYING. A huge mob of high speed vehicles were going to be zooming past, yet there were no barriers and nothing to stop people (and the MANY small children) wandering out into the face of it. Clearly I have missed my calling as a Health & Safety Officer.

    I was thus RELIEVED when people around me started getting texts from chums who were stood earlier in the course. "They're in Walthamstow!" somebody called. "Lea Bridge Road!" someone else said a few minutes later. PHEW. There might be a crash of bikes and bodies LOOMING, but at least I would't have to worry about it for much longer!

    Excitement built as the stream of vehicles got denser and denser, and soon we heard clapping and shouting as the leaders approached. ZOOM! The two cyclists in front went by at lightning speed and suddenly it was all quiet. I knew that that wasn't IT, but it wasn't half STRANGE to get this miniscule burst of ACTION and then nothing again.

    Two minutes later the PELOTON whizzed past and GOODNESS ME but they didn't half go fast! It was about 30 seconds (if that) of COLOUR and BIKES and ZOOM and suddenly they were gone. It was AMAZING - lots of people got cameras out, but I just stood and GAWPED, i have never seen anything quite like it, an almighty FLASH of ACTION, followed by some more cars, a couple more lonely bikes, and then the whole thing was over. The whole crowd paused, thinking "What do we do now?" and then dispersed. Ten minutes later I was back in the flat, wondering if it had happened at all.

    It was marvellous - I hope it comes back to the UK again, next time I'll get there a bit later so I don't need to worry so much!

    posted 7/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Year Of Experimentation
    On Thursday I was booked on a THING at Central St Martins, "The Year of Experimentation", which was advertised as a festival of new writing SLASH series of masterclasses. Some of the masterclasses looked interesting and I wasn't doing anything ELSE that day so I signed up. This was all good until the night before when I got a text from a delightful PAL saying he'd be around in London town on Thursday, would I care for a delightful afternoon PINT or more? It HURT to say I couldn't, but I thought it was for the best.

    Also for the best was the fact that I double checked where it was - Central St Martins has MOVED from its old home on Charring Cross Road to the Granary Building at Kings Cross. This was MUCH handier for me travel-wise (although it wouldn't have been if I'd not checked first!) and also a GRATE opportunity to wander round on Friday morning and have a LOOK at it. It's a GORGEOUS building - they've done some amazing things with the regeneration of Kings Cross, and I think this is one of the highlights, it's so LIGHT and AIRY and all-round ACE. I strode towards the back of the building where I found the Platform Theatre where the day was being held and ALSO Mr H Ali from off of my course, and ALSO Ms A Smith from the Stratford weekender. It felt like we were NETWORKING just hanging around together!

    The actual masterclasses were a little bit of a let-down - to be fair, I have just spent two YEARS attending classes about THE WRITING and all that so there wasn't much new - but as the day went on it did feel like we were at a big open day for Central St Martins' own MA in Creative Writing. Most to the time was spent talking about what the speakers had done, rather than what WE could do, which was all right, but not quite what I was after. There was one REALLY interesting talk about the possibilities of dramatic writing in DIGITAL media which made the old BRANE fire up a bit, but it was a little bit spoiled by the advice given by the speaker on how to progress in this brave new world. "We all know 10 people who work in this area, ask them," she said. Hmmm... not sure we do! Then when asked "How do I get noticed/recruited into this area?" she advised "Be a really good writer." I think there might be a little more to it than that, like maybe applying?

    The bits of discussion i got MOST out of was talking with Ali and Hakkim at lunchtime, so at about 3pm I thought "This is about enough for me" and said cheerio to my chums (who were also leaving) and BUNKED OFF to go to the PUB. It turned out that the aforementioned chum was still free, so we went and had a Wide Ranging Discussion covering SEVERAL Vital Areas, also SEVERAL vital pints, in the Parcel Yard at Kings Cross station. I staggered off back to the Javelin train safe in the knowledge that I might not have learnt much from the Formal Lectures, but had gained a GRATE deal from the Informal Seminars!

    posted 4/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    The End Of The Beginning
    Last night I found myself stomping down St John Street in Islington as I have on so very many Monday (and Wednesday) nights for the past couple of years, heading into SKOOL for a lecture. This time, however, was the LAST time I would do this.

    For LO! it was the final ever Formal Lecture on my MA Course and it felt... weirdly not very weird. After so many GOOD TIMES and so much THORT and LEARNING and also FUN you might expect that the last time this would ever happen would feel EPOCHAL, but it didn't really, because it didn't feel like an ending.

    The night itself was GRATE - Kay Stonham came and talked to us about Comedy Writing, which was VERY interesting, and towards the end we got into groups and wrote a sketch ourselves. This was lots of fun, not least because i FINALLY got to say "HULK SMASH!" out loud in a crowded room. She also gave us a TONNE of useful links for places to send stuff to, a list of the sort of things were should try writing, and then came to the pub after for more of the same.

    It was in the pub that things did feel a LITTLE different, partly because it was a Monday night when we don't usually GO to the pub so much, partly because it was even fuller with us than usual, and partly because of the HUGGING that went on as people left. At this point it did feel a little like something ending, as there may well turn out to be a few people I won't see again after graduation, especially as so many of our group are from other countries. However, what it really felt like was an end to a chapter - we won't be back in for lectures again, but loads of IDEAS and PLANS were buzzing round for what we'd do next, together and apart. I know that that's an easy thing to think, and that inevitably some ideas won't come to pass, but with this group I know that SOME things definitely WILL happen, especially if some of them involve meeting in pubs to PLAN!

    A big group of us left at the end, saying our goodbyes at the tube station as usual, and that was that, nearly two years of Formal Education coming to an end. We hand in our final project by September 1st and then graduate next January, but I've got a feeling that before then we'll be up to something else. I wonder what it'll be?
    posted 1/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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