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Blog Archive: February 2016

DVD Issues
Last year Mr C Evans (not that one) of Go Faster Stripe booked a room at The Bloomsbury Theatre for a weekend to film a whole BUNCH of acts in order to release them subsequently as downloads or possibly even DVDs and, as previously mentioned, this included me and Mr S Hewitt doing Hey Hey 16K.

Since then MANY things have occurred, not least a decisions about the FORMAT our show would be released in. SENSIBLY we'd just stick it out as a download but to be honest I really fancied the idea of having it as an Actual DVD, mostly for the SHOWING OFF benefits. I spoke to Chris about it last week and we had a lenghty discussion which mostly boiled down to negotiating who would be storing all of the unsold copies! This is the IMPORTANT stuff!! We agreed to take half each and to produce them in nice, small, easily transported/stored wallets, and the deal was DONE.

Since then we have been ROCKETING forward. While Chris has been getting the edit, sound and wotnot sorted I have been beavering away on the COVER, which features a 256 x 192 pixel image with 2 colours per 8 x 8 box JUST LIKE a ZX Spectrum loading screen which, WONDERFULLY, Chris has since transformed into an ACTUAL ZX Spectrum loading screen for the DVD menu. It looks BRILLIANT!

The whole thing is looking pretty tasty in fact, and we're now talking about doing a LAUNCH GIG, possibly with another act on the bill, in an attempt to minimise our storage requirements. Hopefully we'll get the DVDs made BEFORE we book it though - I am only too well aware of the STRESS of booking a launch gig before you've actually got something to launch! More news on this - SOON!

posted 26/2/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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From Pilot To Series
Monday evening found me heading for Theatre Delicatessen again to do some more filming with Mr John Dredge. A few months ago we'd filmed a "pilot" for a new series of sketches we want to make (calling it a "pilot" sounds Mr & Mrs Wankerton-von-Toss, but that's still kind of what it was) and we were regrouping now to film a series of THREE episodes, all in the space of two hours. As I sat on the tube on the way there I went through all the things that I'd packed into my special Laptop-Carrying bag - the camera, the sound recorder, a couple of props. Yes, I thought as my train neared Farringdon, I'd brought everything I needed, all packed into my special Latpop-Carrying Bag.

Everything except the actual laptop. Which would be used throughout. And is part of the script. CURSES!

I met John outside the building and apologised profusely, for LO! I had been a bit of a twit. "I'm sure we can borrow an old laptop though", I said, confidently. "Every office has a broken laptop in it somewhere."

John wasn't so sure, and when we got to the reception desk it looked like he would be proven correct. "Could we borrow a laptop?" I asked, and the lady shook her head. What a question! "A broken one will do", I added. "AHA!" she said and LUNGED for a drawer where, lo and behold, there lurked an entirely kaput laptop. Every office has one!

Upstairs in the rehearsal room we discovered our NEXT challenge: building the set. Last time we were there we'd created a small office environment using various desks, sheets of wood and STUFF that was hanging around. SINCE then, however, it seems that Theatre Delicatessen has had a bit of a tidy up, as the piles of ASSORTED JUNK, tables and STUFF had disappeared. We wandered up and down the corridors PEERING into other rooms, only to find the same thing everywhere, until we spotted one room with a HUGE grey board in it which would be IDEAL for us to use as a false wall. We crept in and asked if we could borrow it. "That's actually our set," said the theatrical troupe who were in there. They were VERY nice about us basically barging in, and we crept out again full of apologies.

Undeterred we scouted round and BUILT a desk out of lumps of wood then set the camera up so that (hopefully) you won't be able to tell that we were in a VAST OPEN SPACE rather than a tiny little room. Here's John, checking the shot:

Once that was all done everything got a lot easier, although we did find time to implement a radical new idea for film making i.e. we REHEARSED the scenes BEFORE we filmed them, not during. I know, I know, it sounds KRAZY but trust me it sort of worked. We did each of the three scenes in order with both of us on screen and then went back and did all three with a close-up on John and a close up on ME, as well as a couple of other BITS. We got it all done JUST in two hours, and now I have the delightful task of matching sound and vision and then MIXING it. I hope it works out - we LARFED a LOT while we were making it, it'd be great if we could actually SHOW people this version!

posted 24/2/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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The Hollywood Pitch
On Saturday night I did a PITCH to a Hollywood Executive! Typing those words my BRANE fills with images of Hollywood Pitching as I'd always imagined it to be - me in a big-shouldered 1980s suit (I have been imagining this for a long time) striding past PALM TREES into a room full of various BIGWIGS smoking CIGARS. "It's like Jaws with machine guns - IN SPACE!" I shout and they all give me milion dollar notes and then flash forward to the opening night of INTERGALACTIC FIGHTING FISH at The Chinese Theatre with me weeping over a BOURBON saying "It was meant to be ARTHOUSE."

Turns out it didn't go QUITE like that. I'd got the chance to DO a pitch as a result of 6 Billion To One getting into the finals of the Final Draft Big Break Contest. I got a VOUCHER for a free go on the Happy Writers Pitch Sessions, where you basically PAY for an 8 minute slot with a Genuine Hollywood Executive during which you can pitch your big idea and try and persuade them to read the script. It sounds a bit odd, PAYING to talk to someone, but it's definitely more straightforward than moving to LA, getting a job in a bar, and desperately hoping that an EXEC will come in for a drink.

The whole thing was done on LA time, which meant that at 10:20pm UK time on Saturday night I was sat in front of my computer trying NOT to look like I'd had an afternoon on the beers, POISED to be persuasive. I sat thus poised for 15 minutes then got an email from the organisers to say that the pitchee was having interweb problems, so that when we DID get to chat about 20 minutes after THAT it was audio only. This was probably for the best - I'm not sure Hollywood Insiders say "What we really need is someone that looks like a frightened potato who's just come in from a hurricane, also who hasn't shaved."

I had eight minutes and they FLEW by - I kicked off with my New Concise Explanation ("It's a world where six billion people look identical... and one person doesn't") and then Spoke Enthusiastically And Rapidly about how it would work. He seemed interested, especially when I casually let it slip that I am also an International Rock Star (hem hem). At the end we HAD to stop because he had several more HOURS of people to get through, but I could have banged on for AGES!

I should know how it went in the next week or so - one of the good things about the Happy Writers sessions is that you get FEEDBACK on how you did, so you can improve for next time - though he DID say he'd be asking to see the script, so that's surely a WIN. I even think I might do it again - it was a LOT of fun, though maybe next time I'll ask for someone smoking a CIGAR!

posted 23/2/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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A Day Of Two Halves
Saturday afternoon found me in London's London Bridge area of London, where I was meeting Mr P Myland and chums for a few BEERS before heading off to the distinctly less salubrious environs of Millwall to witness Peterborough United. It would be very much A Day Of Two Halves.

The first half involved the aforesaid gentlemen and me wandering round various PUBS. I was a little wary about what pubs we'd end up in, partly because the original meeting point was a Weatherspoons and partly because I've been in Football Pubs on match day before and they can be LESS than delightful. However, the pubs we DID end up going to were LOVELY, especially The Sheaf which was a right nice cellar bar full of all SORTS of beers. We had a MARVELLOUS couple of hours talking a right load of old nonsense and having an LARF. I don't tend to go out the the pub with a bunch of people as often as I used to, so tend to forget quite how much FUN it can be standing around drinking beer making REMARKS at each other. Memo to self: the amount of fun is Quite A Lot.

Unfortunately we had to finish the FUN and move on to the second part of the day, which was The Football. Beforehand there had been much talk of the REPUTATION of The Den and the people who go there, but when we arrived we walked down a miserable path to a corrugated iron shed in the middle of nowhere, with no-one talking to us at ALL. It was a bit disappointing really!

Inside a few people tried to do The Aggro At A Distance, which tends to be more comical than anything, with home supporters trying to get as close as they can to the away lot (but not too close) so they can shout ABUSE at each other and wave their arms around in a threatening manner. The only ACTUAL violence/disharmony happened within each side's own area. Near the start of the match some Millwall supporters had a rubbish SLAPPY FIGHT with the Police, which we all enjoyed enormously, and in the second half someone was rude about someone else's wife in the Away End, so we all turned round to GAWK at the ensuing (LENGTHY) argument.

It was all a lot more entertaining than the actual football, which was DISMAL, seeing Posh lose 3-0 having apparently forgotten how to be GOOD like what they were on telly the other day. We got on the train and SLUNK back to London Bridge, where I spotted an old school chum in our carriage. "Are you here for your one visit a year?" he asked. The ruddy cheek! This was AT LEAST my second game this season!

posted 22/2/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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The Most Dangerous Band In The World
Recently The Shows In My TV Package and I have VERY much enjoyed ploughing our way through the various Saturday Night BBC4 Music Documentaries on the iPlayer. We've seen LOADS of great stuff, not always about bands I particularly LIKE (it turns out The Bay City Rollers really were NOT an under appreciated gem) but always interesting. Being in a band means you get to have STORIES!

Well, usually you do. For LO! This week we watched "The Most Dangerous Band In The World", an HILARIOUS film about the Guns N' Roses who, it transpires, were not particularly dangerous and had approximately 0.5 stories.

Take the Getting The Band Together section. This is usually one of the best bits of a music documentary, featuring a rise from poverty, early struggles, fights, tragic early members and BOOZE. For Guns N' Roses the AMAZING early years story is this: they were in a band in LA with various other bands which gradually swapped members. One of these bands had the word "Gun" in it and one had "Rose" so they thought it would be good to combine the two. THE END. <

Ah, but then you have The Early Touring days! More booze! Sex! Escapades! Danger! My hopes were raised when it was announced that they went on a tour that became known as HELL TOUR. Hell Tour! What KRAZY things occurred? What difficulties did they overcome? "The van broke down one time." GET OUTTA TOWN!

How about Getting Signed? Surely this would be a tale of intrigue, favours begged, opportunities missed? Here's how it happened: one of the most famous A&R men in the world, based in LA, heard that there was an LA band who were Quite Good so he went to see them, in LA. He liked them, so he signed them. WHAT THE?!?! If you made it up nobody would believe it!!!!

And so it went on - they struggled to get their video played on MTV, with executives stating they would NEVER play a video by such a DANGEROUS band. So what do these MADMEN do? They get their major label plugger to go and ask MTV to play the video, and MTV play the video. IT'S LIKE THE SEX PISTOLS BUT MORE KRAZY.

Admittedly towards the end it did get a bit more interesting, with the break up and the other bands that Axl put together, and this was handily covered in a two minute montage featuring approx 2 seconds of footage of Buckethead. Come on man! That's who I came here to hear about! It all ended with a subtitle saying that they're reforming at Coachella - I can only suggest that everyone steer clear, GOODNESS KNOWS what might happen!

posted 18/2/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Weekend Of ROCK: epilogue
After all the excitement of the Weekend Of ROCK I was looking forward to a nice calm trip back down to London on Sunday. I met with Mr T McClure at Glasgow Central Station to board a train which would take him to Derby (then Leicester) and me to Edinburgh (then London). As we stood waiting for the doors to open I noticed that the train was a CrossCountry Service, which I'd not used on the way up, so thought I'd best check to make sure I'd be OK to use this for my first connection. For my Northward journey I'd checked the webpage, the online help, barrier staff at Kings Cross and had passed through THREE ticket inspections so assumed it would be FINE going South, but it's better to be safe than sorry right?

The first chap I spoke to, at the ticket barrier, had no idea and directed me towards the Virgin Information Staff, who insisted there was no possible way I could do anything but travel via the West Coast Route. "It said on the website I could", I said. "No it doesn't," she replied. "It was fine on the way up," i PARRIED. She looked at me CLEARLY thinking I was lying. "It couldn't possibly be". I explained the 3 ways I'd checked and the 3 people who'd seemed to think it was OK and she said they must ALL be mistakes. She went off and asked somebody who agreed with her and then pointed me towards the CrossCountry guard who got VERY angry at even the IDEA of me travelling on his train. "I'll definitely charge you!" he said.

Annoyed I thought "Sod this then, I'll go over to Glasgow Queens Street, where I'd arrived on Friday, and see what they say there". I said farewell to Tom and stomped off to the aforesaid station where I was WAVED THROUGH the barriers as if they see it every day and then passed a ticket inspection with flying colours. I texted Tom to tell him this and he replied with the news that the Angry Guard on CrossCountry had SPECIFICALLY told everyone on his train that they COULD NOT use a Virgin Ticket, or they would be FINED!

I got off at Edinburgh to find the train to London on the next platform, so hopped aboard. I thought I might as well QUADRUPLE check that this really WOULD be OK, but the staff member I spoke to thought that I COULDN'T use the train unless there were more problems on the West Coast line. PANIC. Is THAT why it had been OK on Friday? She said I could speak to the guard and so there followed 15 minutes of FEAR and DREAD while I waited for him to arrive. Would I have to go all the way back to Glasgow? Would I have to pay for a whole new ticket? Would I ever get home?!?

PANIC levels rose as we got to within 3 minutes of the train departing, at which point the train guard arrived and said, smiling, "That's fine". "Even with an advance ticket?" I asked. "Oh yes, no bother, on you get," he replied. PHEW and MEGA RELIEF! Later on this same fellow would turn out (via a conversation with someone sitting near me) to be a massive fan of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and later STILL another staff member would heartily recommend watching ALL of "Extant", which I'd just started watching on my laptop, and it made me realise what was going on here. The West Coast Virgin Trains route IS a Virgin Trains route, with horrible crappy Virgin Trains and staff trained to be Not Very Nice. The EAST Coast "Virgin" Trains route however is still the East Coast Mainline, formerly semi-nationalised and lovely, still staffed by the MARVELLOUS people who have always worked there. This explains EVERYTHING!

It was a slightly FRAUGHT way to end my weekend of ROCK, but it did at least allow me to win one last victory over THE MAN - take THAT, Richard so-called Branson!

posted 17/2/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Weekend Of ROCK: part two
The second day of my weekend of ROCK began with SNOW! We've not had snow in That London for over two years so I was DELIGHTED to see it, although glad that I didn't have to actually walk around in it too much. Mr T McClure and I were going to the PICTURES, which was only approx 2 minutes walk away from my hotel, followed by as long again going up in the LIFT to our screen - apparently it was the highest cinema in the UK. I believe it!

The film we saw was "Dad's Army". Now, I bloody LOVE Dad's Army and any trepidations i might have had about this remake were calmed when I saw who was in the cast. It's basically as if some people in a PUB had sat around thinking up the DREAM cast and had GOT it. "Bill Nighy as Sergeant Wilson! of course!" The BEST person in it was Michael Gambon as Mr Godfrey, MAN ALIVE but he was wonderful, and the whole film was pretty much LOVELY. The only complaint I would make would be that several characters didn't get a look-in, with hardly any Corporal Jones and almost NO Mr Frasier. Maybe they could carry on and make about a hundred sequels, to give them all a go? They DID say all the catchphrases tho, and in the end they DID get to be BRAVE, so that was all good, and it's always nice to see a film where you're the youngest audience members by a good decade or two!

Not long after that Tom and I zoomed to SOUTH Glasgow to the Glad Cafe, site of the Pop!South Weekender, where we met The Pattisons, just arrived. It was incredible that they'd got there on time really - Tim had been working in Mauritius two days before so had flown to Paris overnight and then to Newcastle that morning where he'd met up with Emma and The Girls (who'd been staying over) and driven up from there. They were only staying in Glasgow for a few hours tho as they were off on a family holiday that evening. This is how they ROLL!

There then followed an INTENSELY BRISK (Most Of The) Band Meeting (Mr FA Machine hadn't got there yet) during which we sketched out plans for the album cover, final mastering, and tour dates. It was INCREDIBLE how easily and amicably it all flowed - previously there have been ROWS and almost HARSH (not that harsh) WORDS, but this time we came round to mutually acceptable agreements. This album has been PEASY in this regard - are we getting better at negotiation, or just MELLOW in our LATE YOUTH?

With that done we went in to see Milky Wimpshake, who were BRILLIANT. "It must be YEARS since I saw them last" I thought, then later wondered if I had EVER seen them. Surely I must have done - I knew half the songs, but maybe those have just filtered through via Indie Discotheques? They were GRATE anyway, and also made us feel like SPRING CHICKENS for only having been going 17 years as opposed to their 23!

And then it was US on stage! We were well aware that there was only 15 minutes between bands and then just 30 minutes of PLAYING time so we had written out our setlist with a song we could DROP if need be and were POISED to leap on stage as soon as was polite. Indeed, so POISED and READY were we, and so SMASHING was the sound man, that we were ready to begin several minutes EARLY. "We might as well start," I said. "I'm off for a wee" said Frankie, and so I introduced us until he returned from the loo and then we leapt into THIS lot:
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • Can We Be Friends?
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • That Guy
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • Easily Impressed
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Cor, I tell you what, when you play on your own most of the time you FORGET quite how much a) LOUDER b) FASTER c) more TERRIFYING it is with the band. As we began all of us went "WHOOAAAA!" like we were being lifted by an great WAVE. When it was over we all agreed that it had taken most of the set for us to get USED to it again, for LO! it is sort of like SURFING, kind of. It was great bucketloads of FUN, also SWEAT, and we even, for the first time in all of our history, managed to ADD rather than DELETE a song from the setlist as we had more time than expected, with Do The Indie Kid being snuck in. Note for future gigs: next time that happens make sure it's a song I can remember how to play without spending the entire first verse trying to work it out! Second note for future gigs: Don't try and introduce everybody in the band as if they are characters in Dad's Army, it doesn't really work.

    We staggered off smiling and sweating and ready for the rest of the evening. We all thoroughly enjoyed Mammoth Penguins (featuring some EXCELLENT Drummer Faces) and then The Pattisons set off for the final stage of their KRAZY ITINERARY, leaving the rest of us to enjoy the delights (BEER) of The Allison Arms down the road. One of the many MARVELLOUS aspects of Pop!South was how incredibly well organised it was, including a FOOD BREAK halfway through the running order which we took full advantage of the aforesaid Allison Arms, getting back in time for a GRATE set by The School before spending the next hour or so having more BEER, chatting to the likes of Ms E Pemberton and Mr G Urquhart, and generally enjoying the AFTERGLOW of a LOVELY gig EXCELLENTLY run by BRILLIANT people and full of audience members much the same.

    We ended up hopping on a bus about 10pm so that everyone else could go back to their hotels. I, of course, totally went out clubbing and taking the drugs and everything, and definitely did NOT have a medicinal Jack Daniels and watch Match Of The Day. That would be almost TOO KRAZY!

    posted 16/2/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Weekend Of ROCK: part one
    My weekend of ROCK began, as so many have, with minor panic at Kings Cross. I had booked tickets from London to Glasgow (where The Validators were due to play at the Pop!South Weekender) via the West Coast route, but since then a VIADUCT had fallen down, meaning there were huge delays and diversions. However, I'd discovered via online research and the Virgin Trains Online Help that I could go via the East Coast instead (i.e. the old East Coast Mainline route which is approx a MILLION times nicer) but this seemed almost too good to be true, so when I got there I NERVOUSLY approached a Customer Service Man at the ticket gates to asked if it'd be OK. "That's fine!" he said, waving me through breezily as if it happened hundreds of times a day. SPOILERS: this wouldn't be the case on the way back.

    Several hours of watching TELLY on my laptop on the train later (I can see why so many people do it, it's ACE!) I arrived in Edinburgh, where I felt duty bound to pop into the Halfway House and text Mr S Hewitt, just so he knew what I was up to while he was at work. I am CARING like that. Another short train hop later and I was finally in GLASGOW. Glasgow! Land of EXTREMELY friendly people! When I got to my hotel someone came over to chat while I was doing my automatic check-in, and this determination to NATTER was to become a THEME throughout the weekend!

    A few hours later I met Mr T McClure, who had asked at HIS hotel if they knew of a decent curry house. They did - it was next door! Like every time I go for a curry I was DETERMINED not to eat so much that curry was coming out of my EYEBALLS so said "No thank you" to Naan bread. "Are you sure?" said the waiter. CURSE HIM! I buckled and got a PARATHA to share with Tom, then when the food came they brought some FREE "special" Naan which seemed to have Chutney coated all over it. Thirty minutes later my eyes were, as usual, OOZING with excess GRUB.

    We staggered out in search of pubs - I'd checked online and written some Apparently Nice Pubs down, so went in search of some of them and after a while we found The Pot Still. As we walked in a couple leapt in after us, saying "WAHEY!" and grabbing us by the shoulders. Mr and Mrs F A Machine had come in at EXACTLY the same time! AMAZING SCENES!

    There followed BEER and CHAT and even more Friendly Glasgow People with whom we had a LENGTHY chat before heading off in search of another pub. The first one we came to, which had been heavily recommended, seemed to be a WEATHERSPOONS with a DISCO on, but the second, The Drum & Monkey, was DEAD sophisticated, so it was here that we finished the night.

    It was a good start to a WEEKEND OF ROCK, and we hadn't even met up with The Pattisons yet!

    posted 15/2/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Can't Stop Winning
    I got home from Leicester last Thursday to find myself in a day when, in the words of Keith Top Of The Pops, we Could NOT Stop Winning!

    The WINZ began when we got a taxi to Leytonstone - myself and especially The Unwanted CDs In My Donation had had a clearout so we were LUGGING a load of stuff to the charity shops (one for electrical goods, one for Other). When we arrived the taxi driver (who really should have a career as an Arts Council Storyteller, he was ACE) looked in one of our bags and saw that we were giving away one of those huge LAMPS people use to light garages, building sites or, in my dreams, FILM SETS. "You can have it if you like" said The Bulb In My Lamp, for he really had been lovely. He took it very happily and then let us off the taxi fare! EVERYBODY was a winner!

    We dropped off the PILES of STUFF then popped into The Red Lion for a cheeky lunchtime pint and some chips. We were told that the kitchen had just stopped taking orders BUT, upon asking, it turned out they WOULD do us some chips after all. WINZ again, although really just BEING in such a nice pub on a Thursday afternoon was WINZ enough already!

    That done we went to Tesco to get some underbed storage boxes for me (GLAMOUR) and to MARVEL at Tesco's range of Free From items, including, to my astonishment, VEGAN SALAD CREAM!!! You can get Vegan Mayo until it is - almost literally - coming out of your ears, but Vegan Salad Cream? I POUNCED!

    More MINOR WINZ on the way home as the bus missed our bus stop and instead stopped right outside our flats, after which there was some ADMIN before we got GLAMMED UP and headed out to our CLUB. Oh yes yes, we have a club, it is called The E20 Club don't you know and is... um... the bar at The Holiday Inn next to Westfield, where you get a discount on drinks and grub if you show your CLUB KEYFOB. It is actually pretty ace and we'd gone along for a RE-LAUNCH event, mostly to find out more about the future of this valuable community hub and not at all for FREE BOOZE. We got there JUST as the event was finishing... so the nice chap running it got us TWO FREE PINTS from the bar to APOLOGISE!

    What a day! We had our tea and went home and had to go to bed, it was the only way to STOP the WINZ!

    posted 12/2/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Upstairs Of The Globe Is A Stage
    Wednesday afternoon found me meeting Mr S Hewitt upstairs at St Pancras Station, ready to head to Leicester for the Comedy Festival as we had SO many times before. This time, however, things were DIFFERENT as we were a) only doing one night and b) NOT playing at The Criterion.

    The reasons for this were twofold, firstly we'd left it a bit late to APPLY, and secondly when we DID ask it turned out that somebody was doing ALL the bookings for The Criterion and this particularl somebody wasn't keen on Actually Answering Emails. We tried THREE times to get hold of him but he never even bothered to reply, so we had to turn elsewhere. Luckily The Cookie Club were VERY accomodating and offered us a slot at The Globe, which was actually very fitting. The Globe is the place where I had my first ever PINT in a PUB and, as that's partly what the show's ABOUT, it all worked out very nicely!

    We arrived in Leicester and checked into the Ibis but NOT our usual rooms! For some reason we both got Disabled Rooms which were STRANGE because they were DIFFERENT. My room was PARTICULARLY different in that it had a loose light switch so that when you had the lights ON they would occasionally turn OFF, and in the night when you wanted them OFF they would keep flashing ON. It was all a bit discombobulating!

    We regrouped and headed to The Criterion ANYWAY, to have a lovely pint and a tasty pizza before going to The Globe itself. As we arrived the landlady asked if we were the ACTS and, when we confirmed her suspicions, said there were two girls from DMU Performing Arts who wanted to speak to us. Always happy to oblige when it comes to INFORMING THE YOUNG Steve and I went round and had a very nice chat that basically could be summarised as "Don't do it how we do it, ooh everything has been knocked down, we are OLD." We are nothing if not helpful!

    Mr C Lawson arrived and we went upstairs to find that, as at The Criterion, the DOOR was being done by some more DMU students, who were lovely as ever. A modest crowd arrived and soon it was SHOWTIME, and it all went very pleasantly. Most people seemed to enjoy it (three young men near the front were determined not to, so I took GRATE delight whenever they cracked a reluctant smile!) and Steve and I certainly did. It's a fun show!

    Afterwards we thanked our very jolly door people and headed downstairs to meet Ms M Miller (who was once again WORKING the festival) for PINTS and chat. It was a good night, a shame we were only doing the one really!

    posted 11/2/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    I Do Like Doing Gigs
    This Sunday just gone found me at Kings Cross Station, boarding a train for Cambridge with Mr S Hewitt for what currently purports to be the PENULTIMATE performance of Hey Hey 16K (at least until it has a BROADWAY RUN when the DVD comes out, OBVS).

    We were setting off in very good time so that we could pop into The Cambridge Blue an EXTREMELY nice pub with a HUGE fridge full of beers which Steve has been forced to walk PAST every other time we've done a show round there. We did not pass this time!

    We were doing the actual show down the road at CB2, where we discovered not only Mr S Macallister (promoter) but also Ms H Llewelyn, who a) was helping b) put out the Christmas Blues EP many moons ago. All seemed to be in order and once the audience arrived (including a LARGE party brought by Mr and Mrs M and H Sutton) we kicked off with a support slot from ME, which went like THIS:
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • That Guy
  • In The North Stand
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • It was a LOT of fun - it feels like AGES since I did a proper gig (as opposed to the show or bits at Totally Acoustic) and I'd kind of forgotten how MUCH I enjoy it. The talking! The more talking! The occasional song!

    Next up was Chris Mork, apparently doing his first gig in 2.5 years but not really giving any sign of it i.e. by being FAB, and then it was time for me and Steve to take the stage. I'd had a SLIGHT worry that, having not done the show in front of an audience for three months, we'd be a bit rusty but that was NOT the case - INDEED we even managed to keep things fresh by making entirely NEW mistakes, never seen before! The audience were WELL up for it from the start, which made it a JOY to do, and were the first EVER to ask a question when I said "Any questions?" Brilliantly the question was "Are there handouts?" because there WERE - the song sheets!

    They even laughed at the "doesn't beer make you lose your memory?" joke which almost NEVER gets a laugh! I Come From The Fens got the biggest reaction EVER (I wonder why?) and I found myself LARFING out LOUD at the "a week next Tuesday" bit. It was an HUGE amount of fun!

    We even managed to FINISH early - a vital point for getting a non-chugger train home! We said our goodbyes to Mr Macallister (it's always a good gig when he promotes it) and hopped into a car with The SUttons who very kindly dropped us off at the station where NOT ONLY were we in good time for our train but ALSO Marks & Spencers Simply Food was still open - TRAIN BEERS!

    It was a lovely evening which reminded me how much FUN all this is. There's only one more Hey Hey 16K show to go (in LEICESTER, tonight in fact!) but I don't think this'll be the end. As we waited for our train we had an IN DEPTH (approx 30 seconds) discussion on the FUTURE - I think there's going to BE one!

    posted 10/2/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Vulture Of Culture
    I had a RIGHT cultural time of it on Friday, visiting an ART show and talking of PLAYWRITING. Get me!

    The Art Show was an "Open" at The Florence Trust a church which has been converted into Artists' Studios in Islington. Apparently it's been studios for 25 years, but GOODNESS my dears you wouldn't guess as it looks like a church that somebody put some sheets of wood up in a couple of weeks ago. Still, it was a very groovy space and after buying a VERY reasonably priced bottle of beer (i.e. approx what they would have paid for it at the shop down the road) I wandered around until I happened upon the SPACE of The Artist Tom Smith. I have been following the work of this young artist since... well, all right, since he was BORN for LO! he is my baby brother, and thus I was very excited to find that the latest ART PIECE is a series of replicas of the SATCHEL he had aged about 11. "I got you into that band, and that one, and I took you to see THAT one" I pointed out, at some length, during the evening. It must have been DELIGHTFUL for him to have me there to help!

    Various chums and other halves arrived and we had a VERY jolly time standing around in his AREA, avoiding the temptation to say "As a MILLIONAIRE art dealer I would DEFINITELY buy all of this for a MILLION POUNDS if only I had my wallet on me, I just hope nobody else SWOOPS in before I get the chance" whenever other people came in. I also resisted the urge to pop into the SPACE next door, where The Artist had thoughtfully put out some NIBBLES - nibbles which it took me 10 minutes to realise were not actually ART.

    When I got home, full of PRIDE, I found that not only were tickets now available for my play "Captain Wonderful" (12 March at The Place Theatre, Bedford) but they had also released an INTERVIEW what I did about it. I have done MANY an interview for ROCK but I think this may be the first one I have ever done about THE WRITING. It didn't really make much difference to what I said, I don't think (I even managed to get one of my VIDEOS in there!) but it did feel a bit strange to be talking about The Writing like that.

    If anyone's around in Bedford then do come along - I'm hoping to be there but I promise I won't sing - as evidenced by my behaviour earlier in the evening, I am MUCH too sophisticated to do anything embarrassing like that.

    posted 9/2/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    February's Totally Acoustic
    When I strolled into The King & Queen last Thursday night I was met by Mr S Hewitt bearing ALARMING news. "Change!" he exclaimed. "There has been CHANGE upstairs!"

    And indeed there HAD - the bar that had always sat in the corner near the door was GONE and a NEW one had been set up in the window corner where we do the gig! PANIC! Also, after a few seconds, NOT PANIC as we realised this was fine and - VITALLY - meant that we could introduce the prestige format game "What Pub Landlord Would You Be?" into the live environment!

    Back downstairs the pub was busy and WARM as usual, also LOVELY. CJ the Bar Manager was worrying about whether our July show would clash with the semi-finals of the Euros, and we had a delightful few minutes discussing options - it was something to think about, but mostly I was touched that he'd worried about it so far in advance!

    Our acts arrived and so did the audience, full of all SORTS of pals, chums and first-time visitors, and we kicked off promptly at 7:30pm with a rousing rendition of the theme tune. I then remembered that I was supposed to be doing a couple of songs to get things going, but had NO IDEA what. Luckily Mr FA Machine was there so I got him to pick a couple of songs from the new album, and so it was that I played (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock and That Guy.

    Our first proper act was Daniel and Norbert Dentrassangle, but before I got him to play I asked him to stand behind the bar for a round of "What Pub Landlord Would You Be?" The way this works is that someone stands behind the bar and everyone else guesses, well, what sort of pub landlord they would be. It's a deep, psychologically revealing exercise but I'm not entirely convinced it works in this environment - it felt a bit like a mass JUDGING exercise. Dan emerged from it seemingly unscathed though and did an excellent set, climaxing with Onion Ring (He Couldn't Wait For Warrington).

    After Dan, Beattie aka Captain Lovelace took to the stage - everyone playing, I realised, was doing so under a false ROCK STAR name - and, after a slightly confusing game of WPLWYB, did a gorgeous bunch of songs. I always say that Totally Acoustic WORKS because instruments are DESIGNED to be the right volume to accompany the Human Voice, and she certainly proved this point with a GORGEOUS sound.

    And then it was time for our own, our very own, Frankie Machine, kicking off (post WPLWYB) with "Black Eyes" and then doing a set perfectly mixing HITS, new album tracks, and BRAND NEW songs. He said that his favourite Totally Acoustic was the one he came to a couple of months ago, as he got to relax and enjoy it without getting up and singing. It's a point I can FULLY understand, but I'd rather he WAS singing, as he is dead good!

    Afterwards we retreated downstairs for a big chat around the big table in the window, relaxing with celebratory WHISKIES of all different kinds. Mr M Collins, late of Amphetamine Trash and Leicester in general, commented that the night worked so well because it was DIFFERENT people doing DIFFERENT sorts of songs but all with the same sort of idea of how to go about it, i.e. (editorial comment) BEAUTIFULLY. I do believe he was right!

    posted 8/2/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Album Droppings
    Whenever I hear about a HEP young band dropping their new album I think "OOPS! Butterfingers!" because i a) am HILARIOUS b) struggle to accept that new generations require their own terminology for their culture. NO WAY DADDIO! Albums seem to get dropped all over the place these days, often without any prior warning e.g. by Radiohead and Mr D Bowie (RIP), but I think we might be the first band to have our OWN album DROP without knowing it was going to happen.

    For LO! that is SORT OF what happened yesterday when the rest of The Validators got an email from Mr T "The Tiger" McClure telling us that yeah, he'd finished off the whole album? And we could download it? From - suitably - dropbox?

    What had occurred was that Tom had been booked into Snug to do some TWEAKS to various tracks. He had a list of tiny changes we'd asked for, but generally it was TUNINGS i.e. mostly violin tracks that had got slightly WONKY and could be fixed with SCIENCE. It's odd, I can never tell when violins are out of tune (I just assume it's meant to sound like that), so it's good that Tom has his EAR set for that sort of thing - thank goodness my VOCALS are never in any way less than perfect, right kids?

    Anyway, that was what he was there for but it seems that he and Mr R Newman got the WIND behind them and decided to basically MASTER the LOT, do the GAPS between songs, and do us a HUGE file that had EVERYTHING in it, in order too! When first I heard of this I was DISTRAUGHT - surely we needed several WEEKS of further discussion and heated debate before we got to that point? Then I thought "Hang on - this gets us out of several weeks of further discussion and heated debate! Ace!"

    I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, but early reports suggest it's a massive step towards finishing, so maybe - maybe - MAYBE - we could have one more PUSH and have it actually FINISHED this month! That would also manifest as a BOOT up the BUM for me to get the artwork agreed and the - BLIMEY - we could be off to the manufacturers before Easter!

    That feels almost UNSEEMLY in its haste, but who knows, it COULD happen? Even with delays it looks like "STILL VALID" will be dropping before summer - watch out for it, and please, make sure it doesn't land on your toes!

    posted 5/2/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    I'm Considering A Move To L.A.
    Last year (as mentioned previously) my script 6 Billion To One got into the final 3 of the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest. This was VERY gratifying and has since turned out to be a bit of a Big Deal. Usually when I've "placed" in these competitions that's your lot, but this time around there's been additional STUFF.

    For instance, last week I got to take part in a WEBINAR with the screenwriting COACH Lee Jessop. This was a bit of a LUCKY HAPPENSTANCE, as it was seeing Lee talk at the London Screenwriting Festival in 2014 that made me START sending scripts out to these competitions. She said then that they were a way of getting "pedigree" i.e. telling Hollywood TYPES that you are good at The Writing without having to live in Hollywood or anything. THUS I spent a year doing exactly that, doing quite well at it, but never seeming to GET anywhere further. One day whilst MOPING around thinking "But where is MY big Hollywood deal?" I realised that I hadn't written down what to do NEXT i.e. AFTER getting placed in these competitions. I considered paying out for a PRIVATE online chat with Lee but then The Cash In My Account asked if she had a BOOK or anything I could buy instead. She did, I bought it, and saved approx 195!

    ANYWAY, it was only a few days after FINISHING the book (Getting it Write: An Insider's Guide to a Screenwriting Career - highly recommended, it was ACE) that I found out I'd got on this webinar, so you can imagine my MONEY SAVING DELIGHT! In the book she'd said that the Actual Next Thing To Do was to try and get a LITERARY MANAGER, and to contact ones you liked to see if they'd read your STUFF. She didn't actually say how to FIND literary managers you liked, but DID say so in the Webinar - listen to PODCASTS. There's LOADS of these, where all sorts of Hollywood types talk about their careers and what they're looking for, so I've spent the past week or so listening to American people telling me, repeatedly, that I need to move to LA.

    That really is the BIG ADVICE that they keeping coming out with - apparently it IS possible to make a career in The Writing if you don't live over there, but you do have to be, as Lee Jessop said, "LA Forward" i.e. happy to hop on a plane a couple of times a year to go to meetings. I must say it does sound very tempting - I've been BROWSING air travel websites at slow moments each day, and it IS lovely and warm over there, but I'm a bit worried about how I'd get anywhere, lacking a driving licence as I do. Also, it costs LOADS!

    While all that was going on I also got an INVITE to go to the Final Draft AWARDS ceremony next week in ACTUAL HOLLYWOOD. Unfortunately it's on Thursday 11th, right between the final Hey Hey 16K in Leicester on the 10th (LOTS of tickets still available!) and The Validators in Glasgow on the Saturday, so I can't go - though let's be honest, it's also quite fortunate in that it lets me off the hook from having to PANIC about whether I really should or not!! Still, it's nice to know that it's not ENTIRELY KRAZY that I COULD do something like that and, who knows, if I get anywhere again I might end up going!

    The only problem is I need to get going on writing the NEXT Hollywood script. Quick! To the TYPEWRITER!

    posted 3/2/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Once More With Booking Issues
    Sunday afternoon found me in scenic Clerkenwell, at Theatre Delicatessen to meet Mr S Hewitt for a rehearsal of Hey Hey 16K, preparing for our final two shows next week (tickets still available!). That was the plan, anyway - when I arrived I discovered that our booking had been made for 6 January (i.e. the day after I'd rung to book it) by mistake!

    The lady behind the desk was very apologetic and ran upstairs to find us a MUCH nicer (smaller, thus not as cold) room than the ones we usually use, and soon Steve and I were LIMBERING up for the pre-penultimate runthrough of a show we last did back in November. And LO! it actually went Surprisingly Well - there were a few spots where we stumbled a little (but then that happened when we were doing it every day!) and all right we DID have to go back a bit because we'd missed out 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 but otherwise it was pretty good. We're ready to ROCK once more!

    In order to celebrate this fact we popped over the road to The Betsy Trotwood for a Swift Half which became two Slow Pints largely due to the DISC JOCKEYING of Ms S Gill. I'm not sure if it was officially The Hangover Lounge or not, but there sure was a lot of decent music being played. "Is it Baxendale?" we said, on more than one occasion.

    It could EASILY - VERY easily - have become SEVERAL slow pints the way things were going, but we sensibly packed ourselves away and headed home. There will be time for BEERS in Cambridge on Sunday 7 and Leicester on Wednesday 10 - do come and join us!
    posted 2/2/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Twenty First Century Kicks
    This weekend myself and The Days In My Week experienced the RAW THRILLS of living at the cutting edge of the twenty first century. It was AMAZING!

    On Friday evening the aforesaid Cast Overview On My IMDB Entry said that she'd like to see the film "Overboard" starring Goldie Hawn. This is not an unusual thing to be said chez nous and usually I look through the Radio Times or something and say "It's not on this week", but THIS time I thought "Hang on, we've got a SMART TV, maybe that can help?" I looked through the Amazon Telly listings, found it, logged onto my Amazon account (which took longer than anything else), paid 2.45 et VOILA! There it was, waiting for us to watch!

    I know some people might say "Yeah so wot daddio we do that all the time" but i never had before and was ASTOUNDED. The film we thought of was THERE! I mean, I still get EXCITED every time I buy a book for my Kindle and it POPS UP next time I switch it on, to me that is Flipping Fantastic, so THIS was incredible. Imagine a world where you can watch pretty much any film you want! IMAGINE!

    Next day we decided to go out on a BICYCLE RIDE. In The Olympic Village Where We Live (have I mentioned that I live in The Olympic Village? Sorry if not, it is the kind of information I tend to keep to myself) they have just recently installed docking stations for BORIS BIKES. Yes yes I know they are really called "Santander Cycles" but who wants to waste half an hour saying all of that? Also I also know they were really Ken Livingstone's idea, like all good ideas that Boris has tried to take credit for, but STILL: that is what they are called.

    As with Amazon Video, the longest bit of the process was logging onto the system. We stood at the computer screen next to the docking station for a good five minutes scrolling through the rules and warnings, and if we'd read all THIRTY SEVEN PAGES of the terms and conditions we'd have been there a lot longer! Getting the bikes themselves, however, was PEASY and we were soon zooming off towards Victoria Park in Mile End, a place we'd spoken of visiting for AGES.

    Victoria Park in Mile End is ENORMOUS! Just when you think you've got to the end of it there's a gate and then you get a bit MORE, it's KRAZY! We zoomed around on our futuristic hire bikes having a DELIGHTFUL time, though I had to keep stopping myself from waving at other people riding them - it doesn't seem to be A Thing.

    They were fabulous fun though and, as I say, PEASY to get hold of. Who knew the future would be such a doddle eh?

    posted 1/2/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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