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Blog Archive: April 2017

Listen To The Bands
Today I'm EXTREMELY happy to FINALLY reveal yet another of the Secret Things that I was on about ages ago. For LO! no less an authority than The Official Davy Jones Facebook Page has announced that myself and Mr J Dredge have a track on the forthcoming Monkees tribute album "Listen To The Bands"!

Our song is "The Day We Fall In Love" which, I am told, is widely held to be THE WORST of all The Monkees' songs. I had never heard it before this, but once I had I fear I was forced to agree entirely with critical consensus, as it is BLOODY AWFUL. It's a terrible, cack-handed song which is performed with the air of people being forced to do so at 5:15pm on a Friday when the sun is shining outside and everyone VERY CLEARLY knows what a STAIN on their otherwise excellent OUVRE they are recording.

Unfortunately for me I had to listen to it A LOT in order to work out how the guitar part goes (NB I am Not Very Good at the guitar and thus it takes me FOREVER to work out parts) and then EVEN MORE times to try and find some sort of structure to the wretched thing. Happily though, once I had WRESTLED it to the ground, I was able to meet with the aforesaid Mr Dredge in the tiny little rehearsal room underneath Store Street to record his vocals. He did a SPLENDID impersonation of Alec Guiness and then we added a METRIC TONNE of sound effects to create something which, I feel, improves the song NO END!

As you can see from the tracklist we are occupying the coveted Second From Last On A 26 Track Album position, which I believe is TRADITIONAL for "The Weird One". We're thinking about doing a VIDEO for it too, with John as GEORGE SMILEY, as we are RATHER PROUD of what we have done with (or perhaps TO) the song. I am relieved that this news is finally OUT THERE, and can now not WAIT for people to hear it!

posted 28/4/2017 by MJ Hibbett
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Twenty Golden GRATES
Last week someone on the Anorak Forum was asking for recommendations of albums to listen to in preparation for their forthcoming trip to Indietracks. They needed help because some of the bands had such ENORMOUS back catalogues that they didn't know where to start. One of these acts was US, and I thought "If only we had a greatest hits that I could recommend them. IF ONLY."

The Validators have spoken of a Greatest Hits album MANY times over the years, usually over curry and often in DRINK, but I, as LABEL, have never gone anywhere near trying to actually MAKE one, mostly because I have HUNDREDS of CDs in my flat that I would quite like to sell before I go out and pay to make hundreds MORE. Now though it appears that PHYSICAL PRODUCT is on the way out (according to The Guardian ) with everybody listening to stuff on STREAMING services instead, and I realised that doing a HITS PLAYLIST would be a) the right thing to do in this futuristic age and b) a piece of cake!

I put the matter to The Validators, expecting instant debate and heated discussions on what should BE on the playlist, but was greeted by almost total SILENCE. Part of this was doubtless because The Pattisons were on holiday (Tim has OPINIONS about this sort of thing), but even when they returned we agreed the songs to include with the minimum of fuss, especially when Mr FA Machine suggested expanding the original shorter list I had suggested to "Twenty Golden Greats" and from THAT it was a very short hop skip and a jump to the playlist you can enjoy below:

MJ Hibbett & The Validators - Twenty Golden GRATES

For those who don't have access to Spotify, here's all the tracks with links so you can listen on Bandcamp instead and then perhaps have your OWN Mild Discussions about what should be on it.
Hey Hey 16K
Payday Is The Best Day
Born With The Century
Things'll Be Different When I'm In Charge
You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor
Easily Impressed
Better Things To Do
The Gay Train
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Billy Jones Is Dead
Leave My Brother Alone
Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
Do The Indie Kid
My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
It Only Works Because You're Here
Theme From Dinosaur Planet
A Little Bit
20 Things To Do Before You're 30
(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
We Did It Anyway

We hope it DELIGHTS one and all, however you listen to it. We're also planning to do a companion volume of our favourites that AREN'T stellar mega-hits like what these are. I feel that that may involve a LOT more internal debate!

posted 27/4/2017 by MJ Hibbett
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I Tried To Sell Out But The MAN Kept The Receipt
Anyone who saw my first Fringe show, My Exciting Life In ROCK, will be familiar with the story of how I got the idea to do it - it was based on a ROCK AUTOBIOGRAPHY I was going to write, but the chap who suggested the idea lost his job when he told his boss about it.

Well guess what? It looks like it's happened again!

Last week I got an email from my AGENT to say that she could no longer be my agent. I don't know what exactly happened, but it seems that she's leaving the company and, as I'd only just signed up, they weren't going to be keeping me on with somebody else. She was EXTREMELY nice about it, and has been very lovely and helpful since too, but still, it was SOMETHING of a kick in the nuts.

People who see me at gigs sometimes say "Cor you are SO Optimistic, are you like that all the time?" and I would like to present this occasion as evidence that the answer is "Not all the time, no." I was in fact A Bit Cheesed Off and so NOT in the mood for JOLLITY, which was a shame as I had an appointment at NOON to meet Mr J Dredge to make some HUMOROUS CONTENT.

As I approached him along the street he said "You look like something really rotten's happened". "It has", I said, and told him about it. He reacted EXACTLY how one would hope, by being DEAD ANNOYED and almost knocking over a parked bicycle! ROCK AND ROLL MAYHEM!

We were booked into the tiny rehearsal room on Store Street to record the AUDIO of a stand-up routine he'd been working on, and a VIDOE for Iain Lee's YouTube channel. I may not have been in the mood to begin with but it was a FLIPPING TONIC and no mistake. John is an IMMENSELY amusing fellow, and it took all my willpower NOT to CHORTLE throughout the recording of the stand-up bit. The VIDEO was even more JOLLY - he was doing it in CHARACTER, which was immensely confusing as he kept addressing bits of it to ME. "Is this part of it?" I had to ask, for LO! he was doing The Acting.

It was a LOT of fun, and came out pretty well too. In fact, for those who may ALSO need a bit of cheering up, here's the final version of the VIDEO:

I thus returned to work feeling a LOT cheerier. I was still pretty upset about it all though, OBVS, so when I got home The Pages In My Book and I had a Big Talk about it all, which made me feel MUCH better and ready to ROCK once more. We agreed that YES, it WAS disappointing, but there was still a whole heap of GOOD to come out of it. My (former) Agent had been SUPER KEEN about the book and her ENTHUSIASM has given me the confidence to go out and try to get it to some more people, and it's ALREADY been sent out to a bunch of publishers who might still be interested. And even if NONE of that comes off, I can always publish it myself on the Amazon Kindle thingy!

So I'm sure it'll be all right in the end - after all, I managed to turn the DEFEAT of my Rock Autobiography getting someone sacked into a SHOW (and the chap concerned has done all right for himself since), so who knows what'll happen this time? SOMETHING, that's for sure!

posted 26/4/2017 by MJ Hibbett
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Going Nowhere
I was quite SHAKEN last week by some news from Chris T-T. "A Scary Announcement" was how he billed it but even so I was a bit stunned to find that he was, basically, announcing his retirement from doing solo gigs. Crikey!

I have been to see Chris MANY times (he's one of the few people that I'll still make an effort to go and see at ALL, to be honest) and been HONOURED to have played with him on quite a few occasions, so was very sad to think that, once he's done his Farewell Shows, it won't be happening again. We've known each other a LONG time in ROCK and though I've never been quite as up there in terms of sales, audiences, or Big Gigs as he has, I've always felt we are CONTEMPORARIES, so it hit me on a Proper Personal Level too. After all, if HE's packing it in, maybe I should think about doing the same?

It's not the first time I've wondered about this lately I must admit. It's felt like a LOT of endings recently, notably with Fortuna Pop jacking it in last month. Sean Fortunapop is a contemporary in much the same way as Chris is, we both started around the same time in many of the same places, and I was on their THIRD ever single (actually, I think I'm now the only person from Fortuna Pop!'s first few releases that is still AT IT) so that DEFINITELY felt like a big ending to me. Also this years's Pop South Weekender was the last one and apparently Going Up The Country is ending too, so it feels very much as if this whole Indie Scene is drawing to a close.

However, like GALACTUS surviving the end of a previous universe, this is not the first time a SCENE has ended around me. This is, I think, at LEAST the third iteration of The Indie Scene that I've been through, although it's definitely been the one that I've felt most a PART of and where I've made most friends, so as it drifts off into retirement it's made me think about whether I should do the same. After all, I've got a LOT of other stuff going on, with The Writing, doing the PhD and... er... having Netflix at home, so it's not like I'm able to dedicate as much time to ROCK as I used to is it?

Whenever my thoughts lead me this way I always think "Yes, I shall give it all up!" and then IMMEDIATELY add "But I'll still do Totally Acoustic, obviously." After all, it doesn't take THAT much effort, the pub's only round the corner from my work, and it's ALWAYS a fun night out.

"And OF COURSE I don't ever want to split The Validators" I then add. The very idea of not getting to occasionally spoil a nice night out with THOSE GUYS by doing a gigs is too awful to contemplate. And for similar reasons I immediately add "See above with regards to gigs with Steve - that's FAR too much fun to pack in, clearly!"

Basically I go through everything I do and decide that I still want to do it. I mean, I doubt I'll ever get near my old record of 72 gigs in a year because I don't go round doing solo gigs so much anymore (and don't really want to), and it'll probably be a while before another Validators album appears, but then the world is hardly CRYING OUT for one is it? I'll spend my time mucking around with my PALS instead, and having a good time, for LO! that is what ROCK is for.

In summary then, it's sad to see people go, especially GRATE people like the above, and I salute them ALL for their bravery in giving up something they have so obviously loved for very sensible reasons. I, however, will be continuing on my plan to stick around for SO LONG that everyone assumes there's a reason for me being there OTHER than sheer bloody mindedness!

posted 25/4/2017 by MJ Hibbett
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Pointless Football
After trips to both Sheffield and Cornwall you might think that I had done quite enough travelling for one Easter Weekend, but NO, for on Easter Monday I was bound for distant KINGSTON, for some particularly pointless football i.e. AFC Wimbledon vs Peterborough United in a battle to decide who would probably end up somewhere in the middle of League One and who would also end up somewhere in the middle of League One. It was SURE to be a THRILLER!

My travelling began at The Kings Arms in Waterloo, a lovely pub which seems to be known to one and all as THE lovely pub in Waterloo. It was here I met Mr P Myland and Mr C Dowsett, my companions for the rest of the day, also a whole HEAP of other Poshies, with whom MUCH nattering would be undertaken. Also undertaken were pints of MILD (lovely) and Plum Porter (30% lovely, 30% all right, 40% A Bit Much in that order).

We headed back to Waterloo and took the train to NORBITON, then had a long walk to the Kingsmeadow Stadium, interspersed with a CHIPPY LUNCH. The walk was familiar to me as I have been there BEFORE on two occasions, both times supporting Boo Hewerdine. I remember the Social Club, where I played, being quite big, so was surprised by how DIDDY the ground itself is - I reckon that if a capacity crowd from the stadium went into the social club all at once you'd still get served within five minutes!

It was a DELIGHTFUL ground though. I mean, all right, the roof on the terrace was so low that you couldn't see what was going on in the far corner, but it had a friendly atmosphere and you were VERY close to the pitch, which led to a LOT of Trying To Wind Players Up. The best bit was when one of the players told one of his colleagues to "{flipping}> throw it!" during a Throw In, which caused much hilarity. I'm not sure WHY it caused such LARFS, but it seemed very funny at the time - perhaps because we were desperate for ANY amusement.

For LO! it was not exactly a Classic Match Of End To End Play. There was nothing at ALL to play for, and it showed. There were SOME good bits (I was delighted to see both Craig Mackail-Smith and Junior Morias in action, I officially LIKE them) and the fact that it didn't matter made the whole experience much less stressful. I have seen MUCH WORSE when it DID matter!

When the game was FINALLY over we sloped back to the train station and I traveled back listening to Messrs Myland and Dowsett sharing opinions on lower league players with an AFC fan. I didn't have sufficient knowledge to join in!

Back in town Mileage went to check into his hotel (he was in That London for a weekend of CULTURE with Mrs Myland and son who had, INEXPLICABLY, gone to do something else that afternoon!) so Chris and I went to the St Stephens Tavern for some further NATTERING. While there I got into a MINOR DISAGREEMENT with Bar Staff who refused to accept a tenner I had proferred because the EDGE had been torn off. I apologised and opened my wallet to get a different note and as I did so thought "I wonder where I got that note from? HANG ON!" I turned to the barman and said "But YOU gave me this in my change from my last pint!" The manager was called and he silently tucked it back into the till and I was given my beers and change without further comment. Now I think of it he never apologised nor nothing, that's a bit off isn't it?

Anyway, the evening carried on without further unnecessariness - Mileage came back, further chat was chatted, pints were finished and I wobbled my way back to the tube for home and an end to my many travels. It had been a MARVELLOUS Easter but I would need a couple of days to get OVER my days off!

posted 24/4/2017 by MJ Hibbett
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A Bit Of Cornish Summer
After our trip to Sheffield on Thursday, Good Friday found myself and The Lines In My Network heading for CORNWALL. This may seem like an excellent use of the long bank holiday weekend (spoilers: IT WAS) but it did involve a certain amount of PANIC, as Good Friday is THE VERY BUSIEST day in ALL of the travelling calendar.

We knew what to expect well in advance - all of the cheap tickets had LONG gone, and when we'd tried to at least reserve seats in Standard Class we'd found that it was FULL, so came up with a PLAN. When we arrived we cunningly HACKED into the system to work out which platform our train would come in on (i.e. looked at which platforms had trains on but no destination yet, then cross-checked this with where they'd arrived from) and then casually went and stood near the gates. It seems that we were not the only H4X0Rs in the station as quite a crowd developed, all panting for SEATS. Things got tense/exciting as people got OFF the train, and as soon as the gates were opened (painfully slowly, one by one) for people getting ON we all RAN - RAN! - for the train! Our team went STRAIGHT for First Class where we knew a) there were SOME unreserved seats and b) Weekend Upgrades were in operation (i.e. you pay a bit extra for a First Class SEAT). We managed to NAB a two-er and watched as the carriage filled up, and then got FULLER, all around us, with people STANDING and LEANING on tables all the way to Exeter. MAN we were glad to get sat down, and even more glad that the RAMMED train meant that nobody could get down the corridors to ask us to pay an upgrade fee. WINZ!

The weekend itself was DELIGHTFUL, as we met with PARENTS and did what we always do when we go down to see them i.e. went straight to the pub on the first day, and on the second went for a WALK and then a CURRY. It's a system that works VERY WELL. We also had Family Christmas, which involved quite a lot of WHISKY and then everyone feeling Mysteriously Unwell the next day.

We had our big walk this time on Crantock beach which is HUGE and GORGEOUS. The Toes On My Foot suggested de-shoeing so we had a PADDLE and a SQUIDGE through the amazing SAND. It was an idyllic day made even more so by a stop-off in The Hevlas Licensed Tea Gardens, where we had CAKE and BEER in the sudden glorious sunshine while one of the owners played his guitar and birds sang along. It was bloody lovely!

Having gone out on the busiest travel day of the year we came back on Easter Sunday, which is apparently the quietest, and the train was NOTICEABLY calmer, which meant that we DID get charged for the upgrade but didn't mind - we were in such a good mood, in fact, that we didn't even getting DETRAINED at Reading and being put onto a MUCH slower service instead did not harsh our VIBE. I suggest The Mayor Of LONDON take a leaf out of Cornwall's book and bring in sunshine, beer, whisky and CAKE for everyone, it would make the tube MUCH more relaxed!

posted 21/4/2017 by MJ Hibbett
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Sheffield sans ROCK
The start of my Easter Break last week found me doing something DEEPLY WEIRD: I went to Sheffield WITHOUT my guitar!

It felt STRANGE all the way there, knowing I was heading to somewhere which has so often felt the power of my ROCK but this time lacking the TOOL of its allocation. Myself and The Knives In My Cutlery Drawer were heading that way to see The Landlady, who has moved NORTH and bought a house. She came and met us off the train and then we walked back over the station where ANOTHER common event became WEIRD - we got on The Supertram, as I have so many times, but went in the OPPOSITE direction to usual! My very being screamed out in PANIC as we headed AWAY from the centre of town, but I soon relaxed into a highly pleasant assisted trundle out to Gleadless Valley where she is now situated. There turns out to be a lot more Sheffield than just the bit in the middle with PUBS and Universities - who knew?

We had a good look around the new house, ate an M&S PICNIC, and then set off for a WALK. As anyone who lives, has lived,or has just BEEN in Sheffield will tell you, it is surrounded by Beautiful Countryside, but it also appears to have a fair bit of Picturesque Landscape stored within it, as we walked back down from the suburbs via ANCIENT WOODLAND. You could tell is was Ancient Woodland because there were Wood Anenomes everywhere don't you know, it is a SIGN.

It was GORGEOUS, with old trees, looming hills and trickling streams, so it felt ODD to emerge into 60s housing estates, especially such UNUSUAL ones - instead of building huge blocks stacked on top of each other the architects of this one had gone for blocks of FOUR houses, one on each corner, scattered around a field. I've not seen anything like it before, it was like being in a SCI-FI film, although not necessarily a particularly SCARY one!

We got the bus back into town, where The Landlady's stories of her adventures in her new town were gradually taken over by MY stories of adventures in the same. We nipped into the Cathedral for a quick NOSEY and then headed to The Blue Moon Cafe where I DELIGHTED everyone by going on about all the places in Sheffield what I have done gigs (including the cafe itself). It's a LOVELY veggie cafe, where we had some ACE grub, much as I had done when I played there that time - did I tell you about all the places in Sheffield I have done gigs?

And then it was time to head home (via The Sheffield Tap OBVS - some things you HAVE to do) with our first trip of The Easter Break completed successfully. As I say, it felt WEIRD not to have done a gig, but I think Sheffield rose to the occasion magnificently - next time though, I'm bringing the AXE!

posted 20/4/2017 by MJ Hibbett
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A Photo Shoot
On Sunday I staggered round to Tottenham to visit The Hewitts. I say "staggered" because I was returning Steve's TENT what he had kindly loaned me last summer - I had originally planned to use it for the Towersey Festival but had then noticed that Travelodge's NATIONAL OFFICE was about 15 minutes walk from the site (and had a hotel attached too) so stayed there instead. Sensible!

The tent returnage was not my main purpose, however. Last week I started filling in our info for when we do Still Valid at the Camden Fringe, and realised that we didn't really have any appropriate pictures. We couldn't really use the ones we'd had for previous shows as a) most of them featured props etc from those shows and b) Steve now has a VOLUMINOUS beard, so we decided to capture his hirsute magnificence in a new SHOOT. This entailed a thoroughly enjoyable ten minutes of Meg snapping away taking pictures whilst her husband and I pulled faces and mucked about. We got some pretty good photographs in the end, with THIS one being my choice for the Camden booklet:

I reckon any sane person would go and see that show based PURELY on the picture!

We also discussed a RANGE of vital issues including NOT doing The Buxton Fringe (the place we were supposed to be playing let us down last week, and everywhere else is now booked up), possible other places to play, and BEER, with Steve very kindly giving me a carrier bag FULL of it (contained within bottles, fear not).

All in all it was a very successful SESSION, which will hopefully make it PEASY to provide publicity stuff for the next year or so of shows. I just have to hope that Steve doesn't SHAVE!

posted 11/4/2017 by MJ Hibbett
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Flag Fen
Saturday found The Dates In My Diary and I heading to Peterborough to visit PARENTS and go for an OUTING. The train was Quite Full on the way there but everyone was quite jolly (probably due to the GORGEOUS weather) except for one Strange Man who got on around Stevenage. As he struggled along the aisle the pleasant older lady sat on the seats next to us said "I've got a spare seat here!" He turned and said "I'm with my WIFE!" as if she'd just propositioned him. It was most odd and I mention it here because i keep thinking about he overall WEIRDNESS of such a statement - he was only in his twenties, so maybe he was PROUD of being married, but if so why would he not take the seat for his BRIDE? It was a PUZZLE!

Anyway, we got to Peterborough and found, outside the station, an amazing TACTILE MAP that showed where everything was on the station in GRATE detail, with raise BUMPS to show the different areas AND braille. It was FAB - look!

We met The Parents and headed out to Flag Fen, which is apparently one of the most important archeological sites in all of Europe. It's been open since 1982 but of course, like all native Peterborians, NONE of us had ever been to it. My little brother has, but that was for a school trip so doesn't count. When we arrived we found it VERY quiet, with hardly any other visitors except for a few families, almost all of whom turned out to be of Eastern European origin. The proud tradition of people from Peterborough not going to look at things remains!

I tell you what though, my fellow Potato Heads are missing out - Flag Fen is BLOODY GRATE! It's basically a field with some buildings and LAKES, under which runs a prehistoric wooden CAUSEWAY which appears to have perhaps joined maybe two communities: as ever with archeology they're not sure exactly what it was for, but AS USUAL they reckon that at least part of it had "religious significance." It always makes I LARF when i see this - "religious significance" is Archeology Speak for "we haven't got a cluewhat it was for." I look forward, in the space year 5017AD, to archeologists saying "These ancient Britons would carefully place Biro pens beneath their furniture as offerings to the great god 'Telly' what they worshipped in private household rituals which held Immense Religious Significance." Yes, I am RIGHT looking forward to that.

Anyway, we were greeted at the entrance by a Very Knowledgeable Young Man who told us A LOT of things about the site. As The Facts In My Pamphlet said, it is GRATE when you talk to volunteers like this who are SUPER KEEN on the thing they work at and are eager to share their MIGHTY BRANES. He was quite excited about the LOT of it, which made US excited too!

As part of the general prehistoric VIBE they have a flock of Bronze Age SHEEP on site who seem to spend their whole time RUNNING around as fast as they possibly can saying "Mair". There were lots of lambs amongst them so it was DELIGHTFUL, especially at one point when we stepped into a building to look at the actual causeway. From outside we could hear what sounded like a bunch of schoolchildren saying "Mair" repeatedly. It got louder and louder and then a STORM of SHEEP ran by, in order of size from biggest to baby. The "Mair"s faded away and then came back two minutes later as they thundered past in the opposite direction, like a large family lost in an airport with a connection to make. Maybe "Mair" is SHEEP for "I told you we should have turned left at the John Menzies"!

The main exhibit was the causeway itself. There's a special building built over one section so you can go in and see it - it doesn't look like much, to be honest, just some rotten wood being constantly SPRAYED to keep it from disintegrating, but the idea of it is AMAZING - it was ENORMOUS! The rest of it is buried underneath the ground and also a LAKE, which had another building floating (sort of) in it where you could see the oldest wheel in Britain. They had pre-empted every middle-aged man who ever visits by putting a notice next to it that says it is "wheely old". Curses!

Another building contained some ANCIENT BOATS that they dug up out of an old river. The boats are Quite Interesting but the best thing about them are the NAMES.

Our party disagreed about which were the best - some went for "French Albert The 5th Museketeer", others preferred "Alan", but we all agreed that we'd be interested in finding out WHY they were thus named. We also saw a reconstruction of an Ancient Droveway (i.e. path that they herded sheep along), a HUGE nest with a swan sat on top of it, a display about Britain's Pompeii, a reconstruction of a Bronze Age roundhouse and TONNES more. It was EXCELLENT - if you're in the area I would HIGHLY recommend a visit, even if you're originally FROM Peterborough!

posted 10/4/2017 by MJ Hibbett
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Spring Into Totally Acoustic
Last night found me back in one of my favourite places in London Town, The King & Queen, there for my monthly dose of ROCK ACTION i.e. Totally Acoustic. It was a GORGEOUS evening as I strolled round, light and sunny with all the pubs thronged on the outside with happy drinkers and so delightfully cool and half-empty within.

Ms H McCookerybook, one of the night's acts and all-round LEGEND, arrived not long after me, and we had the traditional chat of People Who've Been Doing This A While i.e. "Daft gigs I have done". Mr J Rosies, other act, arrived soon after, and I was amazed to find out that he used to live in The Olympic Village like what I do (but don't like to go on about). WEIRDLY the original THIRD act of the evening, Mr RG Saull (who'd ended up not being able to make it) used to live two floors up from me, ALSO in The Olympic village (which I rarely mention). What are the chances eh? What are the chances?

Our audience gradually arrived, and I was DELIGHTED to find that, for the first time ever, it was nearly ALL made up of REGULARS. This made it a bit strange for me doing the introduction, as almost everybody in the room had been before so knew full well what was going to happen, but otherwise it made it feel like a spontaneous gathering of CHUMS!

It also meant that the songsheets weren't really required for the theme tune, as most people knew it already! Once that was all sorted out it was time for ME to get things going, and I did this with a couple of songs I've not played live for AGES. The other day we listened to Say It With Words at home and I'd remembered how much I used to like Stop Look and Listen because the lyrics (I used to think) were DEAD CLEVER in their construction, so I did THAT. It seemed to go all right - I looked on the gigs list for that song later and was AWESTRUCK to discover it's SEVENTEEN YEARS since I last did it live!! I'm sure I've done it a little bit more recently, at least during the Validators gigs at the turn of the century, but I've been recording setlists for a good DECADE so it's definitely been a while. My other song, Only A Robot was last played five years ago, during the many performances of Moon Horse. I'd listened to that in the past week or so too (I think I'd been singing it to myself, so had looked it up) and rather liked it, although it very much missed the KAZOO SOLO and background messing about that was usually supplied by Mr S Hewitt.

With that done it was on to our main acts, who were GRATE. Jack Rosies, like Matt Shephard from a couple of months ago, is one of those extremely personable young singer songwriters you get these days, with their songs and ability to sing and stage presence - it must be a new innovation, we didn't used to have them when I was starting out! He was lovely, with a GRATE line in between-song REMARKS and a bunch of tunes that I found myself singing to myself as I headed down to the bar afterwards.

The second half of the evening was a FAB set by Helen McCookerybook. I've gigged with her, I think, twice before - once in Sheffield and once in Brighton, YEARS ago and years apart and yet, as soon as she started, I recognised the songs. She has a similar sort of JAZZY playing style as Mr I Game, also from a couple of months ago, though my idea of "jazzy" is probably different from other people's! She was wonderful, the only downside being that it she was so ENTHRALLING and GRATE that she appeared to only be on for five minutes!

I'm listening to the recording as I type this, and have high hopes of it being a BRILL podcast - as ever it'll be over on the Totally Acoustic podcasts page, which has a WEALTH of amazing sets. If you've not listened lately, or indeed ever, pop over and have a go, I guarantee you will find some BLOODY BRILLIANT stuff there!

posted 7/4/2017 by MJ Hibbett
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The Guided Bus
Tuesday found me in bucolic CAMBRIDGE for Work Reasons. The work reasons need not unduly concern us here - we were there to look at a new way of setting up our databases and forms, which was a) Quite Good and b) JUST (but only just) within the realms of my understanding - but what DOES concern us is the GUIDED BUSWAY!

The Guided Busway is a length of CONCRETE TRACKS designed JUST for buses to go down. The bit I travelled on between the railway station and Addenbrooke's Hospital is an old train track that has been converted into two pathways with concrete sides and another length of concrete down the middle, sort of like a track for wheels. The idea is that the bus can drive along normal roads quite happily, but then when it gets onto the busway little extra wheels attach to the side of the normal wheels (or maybe they're there already, I was too excited to check) which then touch against the concrete sides and steer the bus, so that the driver can (if they wish) wave their hands in the air like they just don't care. NB This is definitely what I would do, as it ALSO means that the bus can go REALLY FAST without fear of hindrance from other vehicles or pedestrians, as the track runs beside a FENCE so nobody ever has any reason to cross in front of it.

I'd read about it before we went, largely because people I know in Cambridge had tweeted pictures of what happens when idiots try to drive their cars along it (they get their exhausts knocked off and crash almost straight away). This RESEARCH however did not prepare me for the THRILL RIDE of ZOOMING along on it while jiggling from side to side as the bus steered itself. It was brilliant! Apparently local train enthusiasts had campaigned against it as they wanted the TRANE to come back, but I say unto them GUYS! have a go on the guided bus instead! It is GRATE!

The rest of the day was, as I say, all well and good, but the only thing that compared to riding the Busway there was... well, it was riding the Busway BACK again! MAN ALIVE! It is one HECK of a thing - they should make it a TOURIST ATTRACTION, it is approx 10,000 times more exciting than looking at a posh people's polytechnic!

posted 5/4/2017 by MJ Hibbett
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64bits Exhibition
I didn't have much KIP on Saturday night - as previously stated I was FULL of FOOD, but also I was in Nottingham where the shouting in the streets goes on until 4am and the church bells start ringing not long after! Thus it was a slightly bleary eyed Hibbett who arrived back in London on Sunday lunchtime, having spent the morning reading comics featuring Doctor Doom on the TRANE (me, not him). Doctor Doom isn't a nice man, it turns out - who knew?

My day perked up significantly that afternoon when The Features Of My Locality and I went out for an ADVENTURE in E20. We've had lots of flyers and emails about a Cheese & Wine Festival happening in Victory Park (the central area of East Village, where we live - did I mention that we live in THE OLYMPICS? Did I?) so we went for a look. Previous events have featured a few stalls and people vaguely wandering between them, but this one was VAST. Maybe it was because it felt like SUMMER had come slightly early, or maybe it was because THIS event featured BOOZE, but there were HUNDREDS of people there, queuing up for BOOZE and FOOD and/or lounging around on the grass. Say what you like about THE BRITISH, but you can never say we do not make the most of even the tiniest GLIMPSE of sunshine!

It was all very jolly, though as ever I GOGGLED at the idea of people queuing for food in areas where food vendors are plentiful. I see the same thing when I go into Soho - there's always LENGTHY queues of people basically spending their entire lunch hour waiting to get a sandwich from a particular shop, when there are LITERALLY HUNDREDS of other places within a 60 second walk where they could get served immediately. The People In My Line reckons that they must ENJOY it somehow, and that being SEEN to be willing to wait for The Cool Foodstuff is now GROOVY amongst the YOUTH. It seems daft to me, but then I guess that is how it's supposed to be. Anyway, we went to Ginger And Mint instead and had VEGAN CURRY PIE which was BLOODY BRILLIANT. We even got to sit outside, where we had a great vantage point for watching young people queuing and NOT eating. HA! Take that, young idiots!

That done we strolled across the Olympic Park (which is where I live, in case you didn't know) to Here East to see an exhibition called 64 bits about the history of the early internet. It was VERY MUCH within my range of interests, and was DEAD INTERESTING. It was in a VAST space which had boxes spread out across the floor each with an old computer on it showing an old webpage, often surrounded by people COOOING with delight. As the exhibition said, lots of the original websites are now LOST, never backed-up (because why would you, then?) and overwritten/replaced over time. Also, as Steve and I found whenever we were at The Centre For Computing History, there is something WONDERFUL about seeing old computer hardware again. We spend YEARS of our lives interacting with these things and then just chuck them away when something new comes along, so when you see them again it always comes as a SURPRISE how emotional it is.

The BEST things about the exhibition were some large prints by Eboy which, as above, I hadn't seen for YEARS, some ASCII art, and that vector game thingy where you draw lines together, put muscles on them, and try and create moving creatures. I cannot for the LIFE of me remember what it was called - at the exhibition I nearly took a photo to remind me, then thought "No no, I'll remember!" - but it was BRILLIANT to see it again. Back in the late 90s I spent entire DAYS sitting BORED at my desk at Leicester University trying to make a line creature that could totter across the screen. As noted above, I cannot now remember NOUNS for more than 20 seconds, but I could remember exactly how to work the interface on this thing. It was gorgeous!

I only had two complaints really. One was MINOR, in that approx 25% of the exhibits weren't working, but I guess that was pretty realistic for the time they were talking about. The other was that there was rather a concentration on Advertising Agencies and the annoying Flash websites they kept creating. MY memory of the time is that the exciting and FUN stuff was being doing by KRAZY LOONS off their own back, creating amazing things which the aforesaid agencies would NICK for their own use. Also, those flash sites were BLOODY ANNOYING because they only ever worked if you were in the same building as the server where they lived. Trying to access them online was IMPOSSIBLE, even if, like me, you had access to super fast JANET bandwidth. More things like the HAMPSTER DANCE (which was there, and looked LOVELY) would have been a clearer representation, I feel.

All in all though it was a FAB exhibition and I didn't even mind that there was no mention of the first free download single or even early viral videos.

Well, maybe I did a TINY bit, but it was GRATE other than that - go see it if you can!

posted 4/4/2017 by MJ Hibbett
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Tying The Knot In Notts
On Saturday I was in Nottingham, there for the wedding of Mr & Mrs A & L Handcock Hale. I wasbooked in at the Ibis, where there have been some CHANGES i.e. they don't have a check-in desk anymore, just some people in t-shirts hanging around in the lobby. Banks have done this too, and it seems a bit mad to me. Surely having a DESK means you know where to go, staff can keep all their info to hand and, BY CRIKEY, you can have a proper QUEUE. I expect this to be TOP of the list of things that get sorted out post-Brexit, along with 5 billion quid a minute extra for the NHS and a land invasion of Majorca.

Anyway, apart from that everything else was very much the same as ever. I was allocated My Usual Suite, desposited my bags, and then headed out across town to the reception venue. It was at The Canal House, which I only needed three goes to find (including one attempt where I could SEE it, but could not cross a WATERWAY to get to it!), and eventually got in to find THE GROOM looking happy if BAMBOOZLED by all the EVENTS he had undertaken over the previous 24 hours: pretty STANDARD for the occasion, I reckon!

What followed was a DELIGHTFUL evening that, for me, was a sort of mini-Indietracks with everyone dressed up POSH. There was a TONNE of lovely people there to chat to, also some GRATE bands - they'd booked the fantastic a) Thyme Machine b) Simon Love & The Old Romantics to play, although these were BOTH slightly overshadowed by the activities of The Best Men, a BESPOKE band featuring Alex singing COVERS. It was a glimpse into a future where we have all bowed to sense and formed covers bands - every time anybody in an indie band DOES something like this it is always AMAZING, it's a wonder what you can do when you (and the audience) know the songs already!

Other exciting events included myself and Mr R Kirkham persuading Mr K Foster to play at this year's Hibbettfest (we used the cunning tactic of ASKING him), Mr S Love showing us one of the NEW One Pound Coins (he had sourced it via the cunning tactic of getting it in his CHANGE) and, best of all, the VAST buffet. When it was being put out I saw signs saying "Vegetarian" and "Vegan" and thought "Aha! Those are the sections I shall aim for" but did not realise until later that EVERYTHING was either V or Vg! HECKERS KNECKERS but I stuffed my face full of food... and then had to do it all again when the desserts came out. When I eventually staggered back to my hotel room I was FLIPPING STUFFED, I kept rolling off the bed so ROUND had I become!

It was, all told, a flipping LOVELY evening for a DELIGHTFUL couple - well done everybody, well done INDEED!

posted 3/4/2017 by MJ Hibbett
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