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Blog Archive: January 2015

Graduation Day
Wednesday morning found The Scores On My Marksheet and I up and about early and heading into London Town to collect my mother from Kings Cross, for LO! it was finally GRADUATION DAY!

Originally we'd been told that my MA course would be graduating at 2pm, which would have been DELIGHTFUL. We could have had a leisurely morning, perhaps a spot of lunch, and then after the ceremony relaxed in a PUB. They changed it to 10am a few weeks ago though, which mean some hurried re-arranging and a terrifyingly early start which felt, to me, like it wasn't early ENOUGH. I'd worked out the timings for collecting Mum and getting to The Barbican in time, but it all felt VERY tight. When I catch a flight I like to aim to be there before check-in even OPENS, this time we'd be arrived just before GOWN COLLECTION finished!

It all went all right in the end, though I did have a slight panic when I realised that Mum DOESN'T have an Oyster card, but the queue didn't take long and we got to the Barbican in good time. We collected tickets, got gowned up, and I was sat in my seat (with The Audience In My Auditorium and mother on the other side of the hall) well in time for the ceremony. PHEW!

As we waited we had a chat and glanced through the programme. Louisa, sat next to me, said "Well done on the distinction!" and I was SURPRISED as I had modestly hem hem not mentioned it, but it turned out that it was marked next to the names of those who had got one, which was OBVIOUSLY MORTIFYING for me (I mean gosh, I mean golly, really chaps) but also FUN for finding out who else had got one! It also showed that we were right near the start of the ceremony, which was GRATE, i thought, as it meant less waiting around.

As it happened it didn't make much difference as there was two whole hours of sitting around, clapping every single person who crossed the stage to get a certificate (TWICE if they got a Phd), and after the first HOUR it all became a BLUR of black robes and hats differentiated only by SHOES. My bit went by in a FLASH - I couldn't resist a wave to the audience and then suddenly I had my bit of paper and was DONE. I guess it's meant to feel like a Big Moment but in all honesty it felt like just a bit of PROCESS. Getting the results felt HUGE, but the fact that most of us are keeping in touch (and are putting on a show soon) meant that I knew I'd be seeing people again soon so nothing was particularly ending.

Still, it WAS fun seeing everybody all poshed up, and it was very nice to go and talk excitedly to chums and their PROUD FAMILIES afterwards! There was even free BOOZE, as evidenced in this candid snap:

When all was done me and Mum went for a slightly boozy lunch and The Signature On My Certificate went off to work. It's been a long old JOURNEY since she and I first talked about me doing an MA but, as I've said every other time there's been one of these "endings" for the course, it feels like it's just the first part of something. I certainly hope so anyway!

posted 30/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Abs, Bums and OW!
On Tuesday nights The Activities In My Fitness Regime and I usually pop down the road to The Sir Ludwig Guttmann Health Centre to attend the free HULA HOOP class run by Our Parks. We've been going for months and it is GRATE. This Tuesday just gone, however, we got an email from the organisation in the morning saying that our usual teacher was poorly so our class would be replaced by an "Abs Bums And Thighs" one.

My first reaction was that this was a bit like ordering a bottle of BEER via online shopping and getting FABREEZE instead, but I talked about it online with my SPORTS PARTNER and we agreed to give it a go. I thought it'd probably be OK - I mean, I'd never done Hula Hoop before I'd started classes last year, and that had turned out all right, so this should all be fine. Right?

It was only as we set off down the road that I remembered how TERRIFYING the first few weeks of Hula Hooping had been. I have a TERRIBLE PHOBIA of doing things I'm really bad at ("Ho ho!" you may say, "You are so brave for dealing with this every time you do a gig no?" to which I reply "SHURRUP") especially when surrounded by people who know what they're doing, and ESPECIALLY when I stand out like a sore thumb. You can imagine my distress, therefore, when we arrived to find that none of the other Hula Hoop regulars were there but that instead everybody else was a) a lady b) in proper gear c) with a mat. I felt like an ANTELOPE sighting a LEOPARD, my whole body screamed "FLEE! FLEE!" but I thought "No, whole body, I shall not. Sometimes it is good to step outside yr comfort zone."

I don't think I have ever been further outside my comfort zone than this. COMFORT was about a billion miles away as I spent the next fifty minutes in SWEATY AGONY. Christ! Bits of me hurt that I had forgotten existed, and I felt a right pillock sat on the cold floor trying to lift my legs up while everybody else did so daintily like they were born to it.

I wonder if George Harrison thought his wise words "All Things Must Pass" would ever be used in this kind of situation? For LO! all through the experience I kept reminding myself that, at some point, I would NOT be in an Abs Bums And Thighs class and, who knows, might even be watching telly again. After an age it did end and I staggered home, quite PROUD of myself for sticking with it but relieved it was all over.

What a fool I was! Over? Two days later I am still EXTREMELY aware of my abs bums and thighs because they all RUDDY HURT. Oh comfort zone! How I long to return to you!

posted 29/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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A Contretemp
Following on from the devastating events of last week, when London's supposed street of supposed Guitar supposed equipment totally let me down, I bought myself a new case for my guitar online. The nice people at GAK told me it was due to arrive on Monday, gave me a tracking number, and so yesterday morning I settled down to wait. Waiting in for a home delivery? Surely nothing could go wrong!

At around 12:30pm I looked at the tracking page and was surprised to find it was marked "Delivered". This was news to me, so I went downstairs to our mailbox to see if the delivery driver had left me a note - our INTERCOM has been playing up lately, so I thought maybe he'd tried to ring and failed. There was nothing there so I came back and emailed GAK to see if they knew what had happened. I also GOOGLED the FedEx customer helpline (it wasn't showing on the tracking page) and got through to a someone who looked it up and said it had been "left at the maintenance office". When I came off the phone there was an email from GAK saying exactly the same thing - excellent customer service on all counts so far, surely the day would continue in this way?

The "management office" they were talking about is a few doors down the road from us, and is the base of the people who manage all the flats here in THE OLYMPICS. They introduced a scheme last year whereby you could register to have your post left with them if there was nobody home to collect or sign for it, which seemed like a good idea until it turned out that a) they couldn't start it until every single person in all of the blocks had signed up and b) then it didn't work because they refused to tell the postman who lived there, for "data protection" reasons.

Yes. They wouldn't let the postman, who has mail with someone's address on it, leave post for someone AT that address, because admitting they lived there would be "against data protection". I wonder has any government act ever done more to provide excuses for pillocks than the Data Protection Act?

I was thus surprised that the scheme had worked, but pleased that I'd be able to just go and pick up my package. I went down the road, rung the doorbell, was let in, and then... was ignored completely by the lady on reception who'd let me in and was stood with her back to me, watching a colleague fold a bike.

After 30 seconds I said "Hello?" and she turned around. I explained the situation and she asked if I'd had an email from them. I told her no, but knew the package was here because FedEx had told me. "You need an email", she said.

This seemed odd - the package had arrived there at noon (according the FedEx) and it was now twenty to two. That seemed long enough to send an email but still, here I was so all was well. Did she have the parcel?

SOmething of a FUSS was made about having to go and look, then she noticed something under the desk. Hoorah! It was my guitar case! "Collection is from 2pm", she said.

I wasn't quite sure what she mean. "Collection is from 2pm", she repeated. It was 1:40pm now but apparently I couldn't collect my package, which she'd just picked up and was holding 2 feet from me, until 2pm. "What happens at 2pm that makes things different?" i asked. "It's collection hours", she said. "Why's that?" I asked. "It's on the email," she replied. "I didn't have an email," I reminded her.

It felt very much like I was about to say "I don't belieeeeeve it" - surely this couldn't really be happening? I calmed my inner rage/befuddlement and considered just standing there for 20 minutes until The Magical Collection Window opened, and while doing that said - Actually Quite Politely - that this was all a bit ridiculous wasn't it but I'm sure it wasn't her fault as she didn't make this ridiculous policy. To be fair to me, if I'd known there WAS a collection window I would have been a good citizen and waited, but as they'd left me sat around in my flat for ages waiting for a package that they'd already got and hadn't bothered to TELL me about it, I was feeling a little misused.

Anyway, after much tutting, eye rolling, and generally being like an actor in a low quality "That's Life" consumer re-enactment, she very very reluctantly scanned the package into her system (which took so long it nearly WAS 2pm by the time it was done) and handed it over. I smiled and said thank you very nicely but she didn't even look at me, such was her disgust. Still, I walked out of that office with my head held high and a new guitar case under my arm.

I think this may be the most rock and roll story that has ever appeared on this - or ANY OTHER - blog. Take that, THE MAN!

posted 27/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Loco London Film Festival
Sunday afternoon found myself, The Frames Of My Film, Mr J Dredge and some PALS in POPLAR, to attend part of the Loco London Comedy Film Festival. We were there specifically for the Loco Local section run by Poplar Film because they were showing our short film The Job Interview as part of an afternoon of shorts.

It was all VERY INTERESTING. The event took place at Spotlight in Poplar, a rather GROOVY arts/community centre that should have been dead easy to get to from Stratford except that the DLR was shut so we had to get a taxi, which felt DEAD glamorous - all it needed was a red carpet and the PREMIERE experience would have been complete!

There were eleven films on including ours, and some of them were GRATE - I particularly enjoyed Russian Roullette, Two Dosas, The Elevator Pitch and Orange Charlie, probably because they were all funny and sort of sweet too. Some of the others were what they call "dark" comedy i.e. has lots of bits where you go "ew!" and not many actual LARFS, which isn't my sort of thing. Oddly, it seemed to be these ones that had had the most money spent on them, though that may just be my PUNK ROCK BIAS coming in. It was very noticeable though that some of the title credits were almost as long as me and John's entire film!

I did feel a bit NAUGHTY being there with our little film which we'd spent a couple of days on, when some of the others were clearly such TITANIC EFFORTS. One person came to talk to me about her business helping filmmakers get their work into festivals. She talked about strategies, identifying markets and the range of approaches you could. I thought "But we just sent it into one film festival by email and got in, it was peasy" but decided that perhaps saying that might seem rude.

At the end there was a PANEL discussion, which John sat on - they'd asked one or both of us to do it and I thought John would be best as he has a proper background in comedy that he could talk about, and I was right for LO! he was brilliant. Our little group sat and nodded enthusiastically as he made Excellent Points and also Humorous Remarks - as with all my previous encounters with The World Of Comedy, everybody seems to think it's WRONG to actually be funny in person, so John stood out a bit!

As we left we said a proper thank to the organisers for a) having us and b) running such a brilliant event. I'd never been to anything like it before and had had a LOVELY time - I guess we'd better get strategising and see if we can go to some more!

posted 26/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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An "In-Town" Day
My colleague Mr J Dredge referred to my lifestyle as "The life of Riley" yesterday. I was mortally offended -is one to be slated simply for slipping into town to see one's hairdresser and take coffee with chums? Where is James Blunt to stick up for me when I need him?

Actually, my afternoon in town started off with some Serious Business as I needed to go to Denmark Street, the soon to be knocked down Street Of Guitar Shops, to try and buy a guitar case. These days I'm using my LOVELY Cort mini-travel guitar for gigs, as it is nice and SMALL so easy to lug around and also just the right size to fit into the overhead racks on trains. It came with its own gig bag but it isn't particularly sturdy or padded, meaning that the both bag and guitar have been knocked about a bit, so I thought I'd go and buy a NEW bag ready for the epic TOURING that is to come with Hey Hey 16K.

I went into every single shop that sells acoustical guitars and NOT ONE of them had a bag that would fit. I even took my guitar WITH me, to make it easy, but no. To be honest I felt rather LET DOWN. Surely when there's an ENTIRE STREET of shops selling guitars ONE of them would cater for a Slightly Different Sized But Still Fairly Popular type of guitars? Later that evening I would buy one on THE INTERWEB and not feel bad about it.

My next port of call was Store Street, where I undertook SEVERAL missions. I went into ANOTHER guitar shop which didn't have a gig bag to fit, got some posters done for our forthcoming Leicester shows, LOOKED at the big model of London in The Building Centre, got my hair cut (graduation next week, and thus graduation PICTURES) then went to meet the aforesaid Mr Dredge for a coffee. It was QUITE the giddy whirl and the giddiness only INCREASED as John and I discussed a Very Exciting Opportunity. Actually it is a VERY VERY exciting opportunity which I can't fully describe in public yet, but basically involves us PITCHING something to a TV/Radio company. Not getting PAID for anything so far, but still, a step in the right direction hopefully!

With all that done I left for my final appointment, in distant Tottenham Hale where myself and Mr S Hewitt were booked for our penultimate pre-Leicester practice. As mentioned before we've split the show up into four quarters and last night we were doing the final section, which seemed to go by in SECONDS. It IS quite a short bit, but also it's all songs we KNOW and tying up loose ends and so "all downhill". We ran through it a couple of times then decided to do THE WHOLE THING.

We've only ever done the WHOLE THING a couple of times, and then always with SCRIPTS, so this was quite exciting, also a bit FRIGHTENING, but do it we did and... crumbs, it worked! There were several spots where we had to stop, check we'd got it right (we usually had) and go back a bit, but we got through it all in just over 45 minutes and it was Actually Pretty Good. I'm already seeing where we'll need to make changes post-Leicester (a lot of songs are followed by Steve saying "So - " then asking a question, for instance) but all in all we were both PRETTY PLEASED with it.

We've got one more practice next week, which will be the DRESS REHEARSAL i.e. WIGS and PROPS and SECRET THINGS which on the one hand means another week of line learning, but on the other a whole range of new opportunities to get confused, and then we're off to Leicester. I've just heard that, on our first night, we've got some REVIEWERS in. Nothing can go wrong!

posted 23/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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A New Hey Hey 16K Website
The title of today's blog is perhaps a little more PROSAIC than usual because it's about... well, a new website for "Hey Hey 16K".

I bought the domain name AGES ago just because I thought i OUGHT, and first used it properly last year when we had the 10th Anniversary re-release, but now that there's a whole FRINGE SHOW coming with that title it seemed like time for an upgrade.

The new design looks different from most of the sites I've done because, apparently, things have CHANGED on the interweb since I first learnt HTML coding way back in the last century. The most recent BIG difference is that these days people tend to use phones and tablets to go online, which means that the MENU bars that I used to use, which looked SO exciting in 2007, now don't always WORK for most users. THUS I embarked upon several HOURS of Professional Development, reading up on CSS and sizable buttons and wotnot and have tried to create a page that'll be easier to use on these more futuristic interweb portals.

There's not actually much ON there for now, but as we move along there should be pictures, press releases and all sorts of other things. At the moment it mostly says "It's a show! We're doing it in Leicester soon!" (which reminds me - people in Leicester! We're coming your way soon, perhaps you might like to buy a ticket?) but it will GROW soon. In the meantime though please have a look and let me know what you reckon - hope you like it!

posted 22/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Monday was a day of EXCITING NEW VENTURES for me, as I was starting both a new course and a new DIET!

The DIET was the 5:2 Diet, also known as The Fast Diet, also known as The One That Everyone Is Doing At The Moment. "But Mark," you are doubtless saying, "you are so SVELTE, surely this is unnecessary?" but actually I have been feeling like a man wearing a man suit a bit lately, so thought I'd give it a go. Usually I find these fad diets STUPID (or in the case of Atkins, decidedly Not Suitable For Vegetarians!) but this one seemed quite sensible (don't eat a huge amount two days a week) and DO-ABLE (you can PLAN it!). Also everything I've read about it says "We really wanted to find something terrible about it, but haven't yet" and I know a TONNE of people who've done/are doing it who all seem to like it. Having said that, I don't necessarily want to slim down to SUPERMODEL SLENDERNESS like Mr T Pattison has lately!

So I thought I'd give it a go, and day one was FINE. I did spend a lot of time THINKING about food, but luckily I had a really bad back all day which took my mind off it, and when that wasn't working I got to do LISTS. I also had something else to take up my BRANE space: Stand-up comedy!

Towards the end of last year a part of my weekly meetings with Mr J Dredge would consist of us talking through his HOMEWORK for a stand-up comedy course he was doing. I THOROUGHLY enjoyed thinking up extra gags for this, so when he finished the course I was a bit disappointed. Also around this time I was attending a LOT of courses and events where ALL of the working writers were former stand-ups. It struck me that this might be a sensible thing to have a go at, if it could advance my CAREER and also, more likely, be quite good fun. To be honest, I've been thinking about having a go at stand-up for YEARS, so if nothing else it'll get it out of my system!

THUS I rolled up at The Old Coffee House in Soho at 7pm for Chris Head's Stand-Up course. There were about 15 other people there and we spent a very jolly two and a half hours going through some of the basics of stand-up (microphone technique, Rule Of Three), and doing some exercises (e.g. that one where you interview somebody else and then introduce them to the group). It was all very interesting - some of the stuff, like Rule Of Three, I knew already, but it was all very well put and clearly explained.

The most fun bit was (stand by to be AMAZED, People Who Know Me) when we got to stand up and SHOW OFF - sorry, I mean, get used to the microphone - in front of the rest of the group. We were encouraged just to talk for 90 seconds and engage with the audience, something which I do regularly between songs at gigs, often for MUCH longer and without actually being asked to. It was a LOT of fun and it made me wonder if this was the sort of thing i COULD do. I had to stick to the brief of talking about a Specific Topic ("food", given that I was DIETINNG!) but wanted to refer to things other people had said, which made me think about maybe trying some compereing again. I used to do it occasionally YEARS ago but always found it ANNOYING as I wanted to play my OWN gigs rather than introducing other people's, but maybe if I didn't have a guitar round my neck it'd be all right?

Anyway, as you can probably tell, it gave me MUCH to think about, and also some new comedy writing homework to do. Roll on next week!

posted 21/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Gotta Dance
On Sunday morning I had a very early appointment. With SHOWBIZ!

For LO! after YEARS of talking about it I had finally managed to book Steve and I some TAP DANCING LESSONS, and the way it came about was UNUSUAL. A few weeks ago I was sat at home, in my M&S Relax-At-Home Trousers (definitely NOT Pajamas) when there was a knock at the door. This happens very rarely as people usually have to buzz to get in, so I went and opened the door to find two young ladies there, looking a bit surprised to see someone IN at that time of day. They were going round handing out leaflets for a dance class they were doing and explaining about the other sorts of dance work they do. I smiled politely but wasn't listening very closely as something was bothering me. It was only when they left and I looked at their leaflet that I realised what it was - they were twins!

A few minutes later I had ANOTHER sudden realisation - they'd mentioned "dance lessons"! Hadn't I been going on at Steve for YEARS about how we should learn to do a bit of Proper Dancing for the SHOWS? When we'd done our "tap dancing" during A Very Special Relationship in Moon Horse VS The Mars Men Of Jupiter it had always gone done really well, so imagine how well it would go if it was ACTUAL tap dancing, not just us waving our feet about! And here were potential tutors right on my doorstep!

Steve agreed to the plan, arrangements were made, and so it was that on Sunday just gone I met with Emily and Jess from The Twin Swing and went down the road to meet Steve at a local DANCE STUDIO in Maryland. Who knew such things existed?

As soon as we got in the room Steve took his trousers off. I thought this was a little odd, but apparently this is normal for dancers, and he was just putting his special Dance Trousers and Dance Pumps on. He IS trained in Performance Arts, I suppose, so knows what he is doing and, as it turned out, was WISE to bring a change of clothes because CRIKEY we didn't half work up a sweat! We started off with STRETCHES and then the girls showed us some BASIC TAP. I felt pretty good at his point, as the "tapping one foot on the floor" was just about within my reach. Unfortunately things got a LOT more complicated, with all SORTS of jumping around, stamping, wiggling of ankles and basically DANCING going on.

It was pretty knackering, but I didn't mind that as much as the BRANE MANGLING that went on as I desperately tried to keep up. My colleague, MR JAZZ HANDS, seemed to cope better me, but it was hard remembering what went where and when. Jess and Emily were VERY patient, working up the ROUTINE gradually around us, and by the end we'd got the IDEA if not the ACTUALITY of the whole thing. We finished by VIDEOING first them doing the routine (so we'd have something sensible to help us remember what we were meant to be doing) and then me and Steve doing it (so we'd have something to show when we got home!).

Looking back at the video later I was amazed by how ALMOST GOOD it looked - they'd picked some FLASHY moves that were fairly simple to do, and I reckon that with six months of practice we'll almost be able to DO them. The twins had PLANNED for us to do some "comedy" moves, but as Steve wisely pointed out, the fact that he and I are even DOING proper tap dancing will hopefully be MORE than amusing enough!

It was a GRATE morning, and brilliant to meet people who are REALLY GOOD at something that looks so AMAZING. I must say tho, my back has been killing me ever since!

posted 20/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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On Saturday we saw an anteater. It was AMAZING.

The location of this experience was, in itself, not so amazing, because we were at Howletts Wild Animal Park again - if we'd seen the anteater in Sainsbury's then the location it would have been EVEN MORE amazing - as The Wildlife In My Natural Setting were back in Canterbury. We'd had SUCH a lovely time there (and especially at Howletts) when we went in November that we decided to go again, not least because we'd got an offer of a FREE night in a Premier Inn (due to having had four stays in Premier Inns during the course of the year). As anyone who has been within 15 feet of me whilst I am on tour will know, I do like an IBIS when on the road but I have very much come round to the JOYS of the Premier Inn just lately, especially the beds which are LOVELY.

So yes, we went back to Canterbury and marvelled once more at a) the peasiness of getting there b) how hard it is for the BRANE to take this information in. Living in That London as I do, when somebody says "This place is only 40 minutes from London!" I IMMEDIATELY think "Aha! But then you need to factor in approx an HOUR to get to the mainline station". This happens even when I know - even when that was part of the original reason for GOING - that the train from Canterbury goes from Stratford International which is THREE MINUTES from my front door. Over a decade of living in the nation's capital means it is hard to SHIFT this idea.

Once there we had a lovely night out and then a VERY pleasant afternoon wandering round the park. As with our last visit it was RAINY and COLD so quite a few of the animals had sensibly decided to STAY IN, but there seems to be a SHIFT system in operation as nearly ALL of the animals we missed last time for this reason were out and about, allowing, for example, the BONGO to remain in the warm.

We had technically SEEN the anteater on our last visit but it had been curled up in a ball fast asleep in a corner. THIS time it was wandering about searching for food (I'm guessing ANTS) and basically BLOWING OUR MINDS. I have seen pictures of anteaters in BOOKS and on telly and so forth, but none of that had prepared me for what a MONUMENTALLY WEIRD looking animal it is, with it's GINORMOUS tail and long pointing face and STRANGE LEGS and ... well, it was a VERY ODD thing to look at, like someone had decided to go HECK for leather on the CGI animation studio and make the KRAZIEST looking creature they could think of.

It right did our heads in, so much so that I think we hurt the feelings of the ruddy great TIGER who was growling away behind us, expecting our attention for being MAJESTIC.

It's a great place, Howletts, and I reckon we'll definitely be going again, as we didn't see QUITE all of the animals we missed last time. We only glimpsed GORILLAS through glass inside their private quarters again, so I guess we'll have to go back again. Who knows? Maybe this time we'll go when it ISN'T tipping it down with rain!

posted 19/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Meeting The Director
On Thursday I had another meeting to go to, this time with Ms E Lally, who is going to be DIRECTING The Sexy Seven show at the Etcetera Theatre in February.

I've just had a look back at previous blog entries and am surprised to find that I haven't GONE ON about this very much at all, so let's set that right! The Sexy Seven is a series of 7 short plays written by a bunch of us who did the MA Creative Writing at City University. Mr A Dawson suggested the theme of "Sex" as something people might be interested in (where he gets these ideas from I do not know), especially if we staged it over the Valentine's Day weekend. The Etcetera Theatre agreed and so a bunch have us have been writing away while Alex has been doing the main work of being PRODUCER. It's been amazing seeing him go through this process, finding out about and DEALING with all of the various problems that arise in a FAR more professional way than I've ever managed.

The main illustration of this professionalism is the fact that he's got ACTUAL ACTORS involved and is PAYING them! Well, we're all paying them really as we're all funding the evening, but it's Alex who's had to sort it out, and the cunning way he did this was getting a DIRECTOR in who knows actors. There's been auditions and all sorts, it's really rather exciting, and yesterday this excitement continued with all of the writers going in to meet Eloise The Director.

I thus rolled up at The Blacksmith & Toffeemaker (the pub over the road from college), got myself a cheeky half, and joined her for a DISCUSSION. This basically boiled down to her saying she liked it, me saying thank you; her asking if there was anything I wanted her to do and me replying that I didn't really mind. It was PEASY!

There was a bit more to it than that, but that was the general idea - I'm really keen with this thing to let her and the actors do it without any interference from me, partly because it means I don't have to DO anything, but mostly because I have a TONNE of experience doing things myself, but very little of someone else doing it without me! It's kind of like having someone do a COVER of one of my songs - if I want the song done a certain way I can do that MYSELF, whereas letting them do it THEIR way will hopefully bring out something NEW.

So, we had a lovely chat then I went off to ANOTHER pub (The Shakespeare's Head round the corner) to spend a very pleasant hour learning LINES, for LO! I had yet ANOTHER appointment with Mr S Hewitt to rehearse "Hey Hey 16K". This was a PARTICULARLY excellent rehearsal as we worked out LOADS of aspects of the show, not least deciding to reinstate the swannee whistle and ABANDON plans for puppets! It's a radical decision, but hopefully it will mean we can DO certain sections of the show without the need to grow extra LIMBS.

If any or all of this THEATRICAL ACTIVITY has INTRIGUED you then you can, thrillingly, BUY TICKETS for it! We've got tickets for "The Sexy Seven" available on the Etcetera Theatre site and you can buy tickets for the "Hey Hey 16K" WORLD PREMIERE via Leicester Comedy Festival. I hope some people DO come - there's been Actual WORK done on the both of them!

posted 16/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Meetings Meetings Meetings
I had a very very busy day full of MEETINGS on Wednesday. It all started at noon with my usual weekly LUNCH with Mr J Dredge. This week we spent a while saying "HOORAH for US!" with regards to all the competitions we'd entered and views we'd generated for The Job Interview but the bulk of our time was taken up with filling in an interview/questionnaire that I think was meant to be asking Searching Questions about John's views on The Comedy, but which ended up being mostly about Bananarama.

We finished with a FLOURISH of FUTURE PLANS and then I strode off to my next meeting, going for a Posh Coffee with a nice chap from an Advertising Agency who wanted to talk about A Project. I can't say much about it - mostly because I don't KNOW much about it - but it was all very interesting, and I got to say things like "narrative" and "character development" as well as getting a free coffee, so WINZ.

Amazingly, in all the time I've been "freelance"/"unemployed" I have NEVER gone to the pub on my own in the afternoon just for a PINT. I decided to set this right by popping into the King & Queen for a quick one, but slightly spoiled the LOUCHENESS of it all by doing a bit of ADMIN i.e. checking that next month's Totally Acoustic is all set. It was!

As I sat enjoying my beer it occurred to me that it was nearly three HOURS until my next meeting. I'd planned to sit around in cafes or something, but I'd already HAD two coffees and also a BEER, so more consumption would lead to at LEAST needing a wee a lot and at WORSE some form of horrible DISASTER, so I checked to see if there was anything on at the PICTURES. The only film I could find starting at roughly the right time in roughly the right place was "The Imitation Game" at the Vue in Islington. It's not the sort of JUNK FOOD film I usually go to in these situations, but I thought it would at least pass the time.

CRIKEY! DId it EVER! It was BLOODY BRILLIANT - surprisingly funny and VERY moving and all round ace. By the end I was Emotionally Drained, so had to OFFLOAD a bit at the start of my NEXT meeting with Ms E Morgan. We were there to discuss the Sitcom Spec Scripts we're both working on, and soon DID. It was all GRATE although I do always worry that I'm telling people off a lot when we do this sort of thing!

With that done it was time for the FINAL meeting of the day, with the Lost City Writers' Group i.e. chums from college. This was the FOURTH time we'd got together but oddly the FIRST time we'd done what Writers' Groups are MEANT to do i.e. READ stuff. Previously we've been catchng up and planning the forthcoming Sexy Sevens show at the Etcetera Theatre so it was GRATE to get down to reading some actual scripts. Part of the way through we read MY bit of the show, which is called "The Invention Of Sex" and I was RELIEVED to find it got LARFS. Phew!

With all that done there was time for a second Delightful Pint of the day over the road before heading home. It had been an EXCELLENT day, but it's quite nice today to NOT be doing quite so much meeting!

posted 15/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The System Works
Monday evening saw me sat on the train to Tottenham Hale CRAMMING like a 50's schoolboy, for LO! I was on the way to a Hey Hey 16K practice and hadn't QUITE done all my homework. CRIPES!

As it turned out I'd remembered the EXERCISE slightly wrong and, actually, HAD done the required amount of line-learning. PHEW and also WOT A SWOT. As discussed previously, we've divided the script up into four segments and on Monday we were doing section TWO which I thought INCLUDED the "Dad Jokes" section but, in fact, did not. What a thrilling insight into the process this is, right kids?

Last week I was able to show Steve the BADGES and also a new PROP. This time I didn't have any badges but DID have another EVEN MORE thrilling prop which I shall not describe here in order to maintain the surprise should you see it in a show. Suffice to say I was only able to demonstrate it briefly before knocking over half the studio drumkit. Another prop which i CAN tell you about, however, was Steve's HIBBETT WIG which turned him into an alarmingly accurate copy of me aged 15. Well, me aged 15 if I'd had a big ginger beard anyway.

The rehearsal itself went really well, with us discovering again that rehearsing small SECTIONS of the show, and going back and doing them AGAIN until you get them right, actually WORKS as a way of getting it learned. All those years spent doing the whole thing from start to finish once a week and then wondering why it took so long to learn - if only we'd known there was another way! I just hope that our Amazing Discovery is a help the THE ARTS in future!

posted 14/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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A Gym Pound
On Sunday evening The Water In My Pool and I went to the London Aquatics Centre for our regular weekend swim. We usually go on a Saturday evening when it's nice and quiet but couldn't this week, so ended up being there in PEAK time when it was A BIT BUSY. Anyone who feels they don't get enough human contact would do well to go at this time of day, you would get enough to last you a MONTH.

Afterwards we returned to our lockers, which are the sort where you put a pound in to get the key out. When we go together I act as Guardian Of The Gym Pounds so once we'd both got our stuff out I went into my cubicle with two pound coins (one from each of our lockers) which I placed on my seat before getting on with getting changed.

A few minutes later I was nearly done, sitting on the seat to put on my socks, when I heard a little "clink". "Oh", I thought, "I must have sat on one of my pound coins and knocked it onto the floor." I stood up and looked on the seat but couldn't find EITHER of my pound coins. I looked on the floor but couldn't see them there either. "They must have gone under a divider wall into another cubicle" I thought, so knelt down to see if I could SEE them.

Now, obviously, this was a little delicate as I didn't want to be sliding underneath the walls and find myself peeping up at someone, so I just had a quick glance and, sure enough, saw a pound coin just under the dividing wall behind me, with a pair of feet nearby. The pound coin was under their seat so, realising that they wouldn't SEE if I reached under, I did just that, grabbing my coin and standing quickly up. I couldn't see the OTHER pound, but thought I'd done well to get at least one back.

I kept these gym-specific pound coins in the "ticket pocket" of my jeans so placed this one back there... only to find that I ALREADY had two pound coins there. I must have picked them up off the seat and put them in my pocket when I'd put my trousers on which mean that... er... it was somebody ELSE'S pound coin I'd heard drop, and had leant in and KNICKED it!!

On the way home I told this story to The Cash In My Wallet who asked if, on realising my error, I'd replaced the money. I must admit I hadn't - I was too ALARMED by the experience to go back and, anyway, it would have been weird enough if the occupant of the other cubicle had seen my hand reaching in to TAKE a pound coin. Imagine if they'd looked down to see me GIVING them money!

posted 13/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Popular In Poplar
I had a VARIED weekend this weekend just gone. On Saturday I went back to the land of my ancestors to meet Mr CM Smith and watch Peterborough United play Colchester. It was... well, I think you can gather best how it all went by reading the "astonishing twitter rant" unleashed by the Chairman shortly afterwards. Spoilers: he wasn't happy.

Afterwards I met Mr P Myland who summarised the situation by saying "I do enjoy going, it's just the football that's interminable". WISE WORDS. Whilst in the pub I was surprised to see Mr G Gilchrist in the company of various Leicester cohorts, having a pint on their way home from the Straw Bear Festival in Whittlesey. It was lovely to see them, though when I went back to my seat I thought "How funny, to still be palling around with the same people as when I knew them all 10 years ago back in Leicester." It was only on the way home that I realised I'd spent MY time in the pub with somebody I'd known since I was eleven!!

Saturday may have been slightly TRYING on the Live Event front, but SUNDAY brought some DELIGHTFUL news, for LO! mine and Mr J Dredge's short film The Job Interview has been accepted for the Loco Local Comedy Film Festival! I've actually just got home from posting them a copy on DVD, it's all VERY exciting. We're both going to go, and John's even going to be on a PANEL!

I must admit to being a) pleased b) a bit surprised by how WELL this film has gone down so far. We're hoping to enter it for some more things, but in the meantime we've got to get going on doing the next one!

posted 12/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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A Band Reunion
Yesterday afternoon I set off for DERBY for the first Validators practice of 2015. We had a list of new songs to try out ready for the second half of album recordings, and I was very much looking forward to seeing everyone again. I was expecting good times but I wasn't expecting the Indie Story Of The Year to break while I was on the train.

For LO! the news is out that PROLAPSE are reforming for some gigs in May! This was a HUGE relief to me as Tim told us about it back in October after the last recording session, and ever since I have been on the verge of EXPLODING with the effort of not telling people about it. It's also, OBVS, great news as Prolapse were one of my favourite ever bands and definitely one of the BEST live bands I've ever seen. They were very much a pre-internet band too (tho they did have a webpage, set up by ME to start with!) so it'll be interesting to see how it all goes now people can TWEET about them and so forth, tho OBVS (again) it's going to be a bit troublesome googling them!

Remarks such as the latter, and many many more, were heard APLENTY during our practice that evening. It turns out that yet another GRATE thing about Prolapse reforming is that there are HUNDREDS of HILARIOUS remarks that we can make to Tim again, as well as a whole heap of new ones. I don't think Tim minded the fact that me, Frankie and The Tiger spent so longer LARFING about that fact that all the songs will be a bit slower this time, or that he'll have to fight NOT to keep doing stops in all the songs, or get confused about using so many drum patterns that he's re-used for our songs or... well, you get the picture. We're all EXTREMELY happy for him, it's going to be FANTASTIC for him to play some proper big gigs again, and maybe even get paid for a change too!

Aside from all the HILARITY and HAPPINESS we also managed to find time to try out some songs. We ran through "The Future Is Amazing", "Get Over It", "In The North Stand" and "Can We Be Friends", all of which sounded PRETTY DARN GOOD. I wasn't sure about whether we should do "Can We Be Friends" or not, but once we'd PEPPED it up a bit it sounded like a HIT, which is of course the SOLE CONDITION for any song being allowed to be on the next album.

We had a bit of discussion of the album title too, with Frankie (as per) coming up with something which I think will be close to the Actual Title, but ALAS there wasn't time for chat AFTER as I had to dash off down the road and catch the last train home. There'll be plentiful opportunities for further rumination - it's not like there's a rush to get the album finished, and after all, certain members of the group have other ROCK ACTIONS to worry about!

posted 8/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Back For Badges At Bally
On Monday evening Steve and I gathered back at Bally Rehearsal Studios to kick off the grand 'Hey Hey 16K' campaign of 2015. It's only a few weeks until we DEBUT the show (in a "work in progress" hem hem version) at The Leicester Comedy Festival (tickets very available!) so Steve DRAGGED himself (BRAVELY) out of his poorly bed and we had a bit of a practice.

We're trying a NEW PLAN this time, in that instead of doing the whole thing from start to finish every week without stopping we're doing PART of it several times over. You know, like other people do. It seemed to work - I could FEEL my BRANE filing it all away and, once again, I thought "You know what? This is quite good!"

The rehearsal also featured Steve being shown not one but TWO delightful aspects of the show - firstly a PROP that LIGHTS UP (we are ready for the West End already!) and secondly the BADGES. THESE badges, in fact:

Nice aren't they? As ever they were made by the MARVELLOUS people at Wee Badgers who i would HIGHLY recommend to ANYONE as they are ACE!

You'll be able to get the badges at ALL our forthcoming shows, and we'll have a bit more news on those soon as I'm hoping to get a new version of sorted out in the near future. In the meantime the practices go on - latest news is that we've booked a tap dancing lesson (A TAP DANCING LESSON!) for a week on Sunday at 10am. Pray for us!

posted 7/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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New Year New Film
Happy New Year one and all, hope you had a delicious festive BREAK!

That is, if you had a break, obviously. I've found not having a proper job at this time of year a bit WEIRD - after 23 years working for a University and having lovely long Christmas breaks my BRANE insisted that I still spend the two weeks REVELLING in not going to work (even though I no longer do anyway) and, if possible, doing a PROJECT.

In previous ACTUAL Christmas breaks I've done all sorts of things, mostly music related and/or watching loads of telly. This year I continued the theme by doing something VAGUELY music related and DEFINITELY watching lots of telly. The highlight of the latter was watching the whole of STAR WARS over the final weekend of the hols - it's good, Star Wars, isn't it? It's so EMBEDDED in the culture that you tend to forget that they're all dead good, especially "Empire" which I thought was a bit boring aged 10. The Films In My Trilogy had never watched any of them before, so it was fun a) realising that they really are dead good b) getting to do CHEWBACCA impressions again c) like Yoda talking all day.

The PROJECT, meanwhile, was a FILM. THIS film, in fact - "The Job Interview":

This is the MOVIE that I was on about filming before Christmas. Myself and Mr J Dredge spent many happy hours going back and forth over the editing, and also REDUBBING the "lines" one afternoon, to try and get it as good as we possibly can. I must say I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. I mean, I know the picture quality and lighting and that is not quite OSCAR READY but I have watched it approx 1,000,000 times putting it together and have not tired of it yet, so it must be at least all right. I was also very happy to get to do a remix of Candida from Hibbett's Superstore for the SOUNDTRACK. I like that tune, so it was nice to be able to use it properly at last!

We've got plans and THORTS for various other films which I will DOUBTLESS be banging on about throughout 2015, but in the meantime I hope you like this one and, if you do, please spread it around!

posted 5/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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