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Blog Archive: July 2018

Graphic Brighton
After work on Thursday I went to the PUB - nothing so fascinating or unusual about that, you might think, except that THIS pub contained Mr F A Machine!

For LO! we were off on an ADVENTURE to Brighton! A while back I'd seen a Call For Papers for Graphic Brighton, an annual comics conference looking this year at the link between comics and music. It seemed rude NOT to submit something, so Frankie and I worked up a paper called "The Swingin' Sounds Of Sixties Marvel" about the theme songs for Marvel series in that decade. It got accepted, so off we went!

We arrived in Brighton and set off for our hotel, stopping briefly on the way for a refreshing beer in a pub containing a GIGANTIC cat called Bailey. Our plan was to go to the BEACH to have a practice (so as not to disturb other guests) so after a DELICIOUS curry we headed down to the shore, and found that a) it's not as easy as you'd think to get onto the actual beach in Brighton and b) when you do it is full of people, so instead we went to the PUB and had a gentle sing through together of the various songs instead. Frankie had already sent me mp3s of his versions of the songs, but it was still good to actually go through them TOGETHER, even if only in hushed tones.

After a night of disturbances (heat, seagulls, people outside etc etc) we regrouped and took the long walk back to the railway station. Brighton is a BIG place, and seems to be full of HILLS, also HOTELS, yet it always seems really hard to find anywhere to stay there. Are there just a lot of people who want to hang around temporarily, or are the hotels FRONTS for the many Artisanal Bagel Factories that are required to keep the town running?

We got the train to Falmer, and followed some EXCELLENT fully illustrated instructions to find The University of Sussex, where the conference was being held. Frankie later told me that this was his first time back in a lecture theatre for TWENTY SEVEN YEARS and that initially it had given him THE FEAR. However, this ebbed as the day went on, especially during the first talk by Holly Casio, who was speaking about her fanzine about Bruce Springsteen. It was EXTREMELY interesting, and she spoke about it brilliantly. "Not all comics conferences are this much fun" I warned Frankie.

The rest of the day was GRATE - lots of interesting talks, excellent people, and great organisation. If Frankie ends up undertaking a DOCTORATE next I am pretty sure that this is where it will all have started! We did our bit towards the end of the day, talking about the perceived HIPNESS of the songs and, indeed, BELLOWING them at people. It appeared to go down really well, and though there wasn't a HUGE volume for the singalong at the end, people did CLAP a lot!

Afterwards we took part in a PANEL. I'd thought our bits would be all down to me, but Frankie happily joined in - I was VERY proud, he is a NATURAL at this academic lark! Afterwards a chap came up to talk to us about The Who's cover of "Batman", and it was only when we went back in for the final session that I realised he was HUNT EMERSON! He and Julie Hollings did the final session, which was BRILLO. They talked about the history of their work (including the fact that Hunt designed The Beat's "Beat Girl" logo, which I never knew) and did the GRATE thing where Comics Professionals get perplexed by Academics asking questions. "Why on earth would you want to know that?" they reply. "I have no idea! It was years ago!"

It was a GRATE day, topped off by having JUST the right amount of time to get TRANE BEERS at Brighton Station before heading home. I think both of us thought that this would just be an excuse for a JOLLY to Brighton (it was!) but it turned out also to be DEAD INTERESTING and, actually, quite a good thing to talk about. I think I would like to do it AGANE - San Diego! Call us!

posted 23/7/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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Hibbettfest 13
Saturday morning found me up bright and early to head to The Midlands for the annual extravaganza known as HIBBETTFEST!

When I had consulted with Mr R Kirkham about dates earlier in the year I had been well aware that this was the day of the World Cup third-place play-offs, but thought that a) there was no way England would still be in the tournament by then and b) who cares about the third place play-offs anyway? I had not banked on a) England doing really well and b) me loving the World Cup quite as much as I have, so I must admit there was a small part of me who would have quite liked to watch a bit more of it. However, all worked out well and my day turned out to be MUCH more fun than watching England getting beaten by (according to Match Of The Day later on iPlayer) a better team!

The fun commenced at Marylebone station, with my trouser pocket breaking and all my change falling on the floor. People FLOCKED to the area to help me, picking it all up and handing it over. A lady sitting nearby handed my the last pound coin and said. "Everybody helped - aren't people lovely?" and I had to agree that they were.

Talking of lovely people, I then bumped into Mr M Tiller, who was this year's special guest. Being sensible grown-ups we had both arrived SUPER EARLY and so had plenty of time for a cuppa before hopping onto the slow train to Birmingham Moor Street. The journey passed at high speed due to NATTERING all the way up, and we were soon changing and on our way to Cradley Heath where Venue Owner Mr K Kirkham (aka Ray's Dad) picked us up and took us, as is traditional, to the Offy to get some booze. This was the THIRTEENTH (!) Hibbettfest, and I think it's important to maintain some of these ancient traditions!

We rolled up at the venue not long after to find a whole bunch of lovely folk there, including the usual assortment of dogs and BABIES, although this time several of the babies appear to have become CHILDREN, and children who were more than happy to JOIN IN too. One of the aforesaid was Ray's nephew Luke who this year was wearing a high vis jacket, t-shirt labelled "security", dark glasses, a walky-talky and an earpiece. He even had a FLAG for guiding in traffic, I have never felt so well protected at a gig before!

After quite a lot of sitting around in the baking sunshine chatting, drinking beer, and eating the ENORMOUS Vegan buffet which Ray had supplied (featuring some particularly brilliant sausage rolls this year, also CURRY) Matt took to the stage - or, rather, awning of the SHED - to perform. He was joined not only by the security officer but also three DANCERS who FLOSSED and DABBED throughout his performance, which he coped with MANFULLY! It was GRATE!

After returning to the buffet area for DESSERT we then gathered outside once more for ME to take to the awning and do THIS:
  • The Fair Play Trophy (again)
  • Cheer Up Love
  • Two Nights, One Pub
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • We Did It Anyway
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • I had a LOVELY time, especially with my dancers helping me, and I think it went OK. I had been a bit worried in the days leading up to the festival that I would FORGET how to do a gig, as I have done so few lately, but it all came back!

    There was then more time for sitting around and BEER before a select group of us got on the PARTY BUS back to town for an INTELLECTUAL round table discussion in the pub on diverse topics, after which Matt and I said our goodbyes and headed to Snow Hill Station, where we JUST got into Waitrose before it closed to get some TRAIN BEERS. HA! The journey home passed, if anything, even more quickly, partly due to the BEER and partly due to the extensive chats we had on MEN'S ISSUES and POLITICS... which were probably also partly due to the BEER!

    It was a lovely lovely day all round - roll on number fourteen!

    posted 16/7/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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    Queen Again
    On Wednesday Night myself and The Fireplace In My Guitar went to our favourite Big Music Venue, the O2, to see QUEEN. Short version: It was BRILL.

    We'd been to see them late last year and had a GRATE time, so the aforesaid Chorus Of My Anthem was very keen to go again. I was not so keen - I'd really enjoyed it, but expected them to do exactly the same show again - but was persuaded to attend by having my ticket PAID FOR and the offer of DRINKS too. I never said I was a CHEAP date, but I can be bought!

    It was lovely being back at the O2, especially after going to the Olympic Stadium a few weeks ago, which isn't half as nice for this sort of thing. The O2 always feels COSY, despite being GIGANTIC, and there is AMPLE supply of bars to get BEERZ from, which there was NOT at the stadium. This time we were much closer to ground level than previously, so could not only see the BAND properly but could also see our chum Mr M Sutton, who WAVED to us from his position near the sounddesk where APPARENTLY he could see Anita Dobson watching the show and ROCKING OUT!

    I do not blame her for doing so, because it was a VERY ROCKING show. A lot of it was indeed the same as last time, but there was a LOAD of different songs, and anyway it was all HIGHLY enjoyable. We could not help but compare it to The Rolling Stones gig at the aforesaid stadium. MicK Jagger had been good but in comparison to Queen the rest of them looked like they could not be arsed to be there, the actual playing was distinctly ropey, and the SHOW element was designed to hide the fact that it was 3 old men standing very still and one old man jigging about. In contrast QUEEN looked like they were DELIGHTED to be there, the music was FANTASTIC, and the show was entirely integrated into what they were doing, and FUN. The highlight of the whole thing for me was near the end, when Brian May came on to do the solo in "Bohemian Rhapsody" wearing a SILVER JUMPSUIT which had LONG DANGLY BITS on the sleeves like ARM CLOAKS, JUST like he did in the video. It was a small touch, but endemic of the CARE and RESPECT for the audience that characterised the whole thing.

    Other highlights were B May doing "Love Of My Life" illuminated ENTIRELY by people switching on the "torch" setting on their phones, Adam Lambert HUGGING the senior members of the group, and the mass adherence by the audience to THE RULES OF ROCK demonstrated by the QUEUE for the urinals when everybody went to the loo during the DRUM SOLO.

    It was BLOODY FAB is what it was. On an unrelated note, where can I hire a smoke machine, giant robot and RISER STAGE for Tim's birthday gig?

    posted 6/7/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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    Unusual Sporting Emotions
    You find me today in a strange limbo of NO FOOTBALL. It is very weird indeed - it has been ALL FOOTBALL nearly every day for, as far as I recall, DECADES and now suddenly we are in a space of NONE. I can only hope it returns tomorrow or LORD knows what we will do.

    The only thing weirder than the lack of football is the presence of a strange new emotion that I have never previously felt in regard to the England Football team, which feels almost like LOVE. I don't know what it is, but every time I hear Gareth Southgate being Entirely Reasonable on television, or see him consoling a Colombian, or nursing a small kitten back to health, something WELLS UP inside me that makes me want to shake him firmly by the hand and buy him a pint. It's similar with the team themselves - most of my life I have seen them as wallies, prats and, occasionally, outright gits, but this current lot appear to be Delightful Young Men. It is probably my GRATE AGE, but I have an URGE to hire a mini-bus and take them all on an outing to ALTON TOWERS or a CITY FARM, because by golly I think they deserve it.

    These feelings were only increased watching the game against Colombia on Tuesday night when, in the words of a certain song they really DID behave like "a team of virtuous saints". I've seen England play nasty teams before, but seeing the Colombians screaming, fouling, head-butting and, most infuriating of all, DESECRATING THE PENALTY SPOT felt like watching the local sixth-formers who lurk around, giggling to each other, outside my local shop being suddenly SHOVED AROUND by some Older Boys who are SMOKING. I tell you what, it made me want to go over there and give them a STERN PIECE OF MY MIND!

    Overall I have been FLIPPING LOVING this World Cup (Spain VS Portugal! Belgium VS Japan! Korea VS Germany!) but I did not enjoy this game AT ALL. As well as feeling outraged I felt TERRIFIED at every stage, so when that last minute equaliser went in it felt like a long awaited DOOM descending. I was getting STOMACH CRAMPS during the extra time, and I must confess to considering leaving the room all together when the penalties began.

    However, as the shootout commenced myself and The Net Of My Goal (who had remained Remarkably Calm until this point) noticed something rather wonderful happening. Round the corner from our house a Big Screen had been set up, which had 900 people watching the same game as us but, apparently, approximately ONE SECOND ahead. THUS whenever an England player began his run up we would hear a MIGHTY ROAR just before he scored, or a MIGHTY GROAN if he didn't, coming from the future-viewers down the road. This made the entire experience SIGNIFICANTLY less stressful, especially when Jordan Wonderful Pickford SAVED one and ESPECIALLY especially when Eric Dier stepped up to take the final winning shot. There was a BEAUTIFUL moment when we heard a MIGHTY CHEER and KNEW that we were going to win, just it began to happen on our telly. It was one of those out of body experiences you hear about, when time itself slowed down to one elongated perfect moment.

    I think I would like it very much if ALL big events could have a BIG SCREEN round the corner in future, preferably about a WEEK ahead of me, to reassure me that things will turn out all right.

    All of the above has of course engendered ANOTHER unusual emotion related to the England Team: HOPE. I have been singing "Three Lions" to myself for the past couple of days, and am imagining England ACTUALLY WINNING THE WORLD CUP... well, all right, I am imagining England NARROWLY LOSING TO BRAZIL IN THE FINAL, but that's still a lot more than my usual expectation of them losing 7-0 to the Isle Of Wight and John Terry punching somebody, so I will take what I can get. For now at least, it is very much COMING HOME!

    posted 5/7/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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    PPI Pleasures
    Like every living sentient creature in this country I have spent the past few years hearing about PPI flipping EVERYWHERE. It's so omnipresent in spam emails, spam phone calls, adverts and newspaper articles that GDPR came as something of a BLESSED RELIEF!

    I had always been a bit sniffy about the whole business, taking the line that surely you would KNOW if you had taken out PPI and did not need all these people telling you about it. "It only applies to twits and wallies who can't manage their money," I thought, "I am sure it wouldn't be me!"

    HOWEVER, a few weeks ago somebody on Facebook (I can't remember who and can't find it now!) mentioned that they'd gone onto their bank's own PPI checker page, spent about half an hour putting in their details, and had received enough CA$H to get, as they put it "some nice bottles of wine." "Hang on," I thought, "I like nice bottles of wine AND have half an hour spare. Maybe I should have a go!"

    THUS I went onto Barclay's PPI Page and filled in a few details so that they could check whether I'd ever been mis-sold PPI. I was entirely sure that a) I wouldn't have ever been so daft to do so and anyway b) would remember if I had, so imagine my surprise when I received a letter a few weeks later saying I HAD had a PPI policy, for ELEVEN YEARS from 1998 to 2009!!

    "Oh yeah, I guess I did take out a loan didn't I?" I thought. "Yes," said my BRANE. "You got it to put out your half of the Clubbing In The Week single!" AHA!

    The letter said that I now needed to put in a proper CLAIM, to check whether I had been MIS-sold, rather than just sold, it, which did involve a bit of research - it turns out there IS a point to keeping piles of old payslips from twenty years ago! I typed it all in, pressed send, and then expected to wait AGES to be told that it had all been entirely above board. THUS when I got back from Bournemouth and found I'd had a letter from Barclays saying "We have received your complaint, it'll probably take ages to process" I was not surprised.

    Imagine then my GLEE when I opened ANOTHER letter in the same pile of correspondence which said that my complaint had been UPHELD, and that they were going to give me a load of CA$H! All right, not a life-changing amount by any means, but CERTAINLY enough for some very nice wine and maybe a bottle of whisky too! It turns out that me not really paying attention to what I was signing back in the last century was the BEST INVESTMENT I have ever made!

    I tell you this not to GLOAT over my good fortune - though as it is purely at the expense of THE MAN I think some gloating is fine in moderation - but to advise you, gentle reader, to have a go yourself. There is only about a YEAR to go to make these sort of enquiries, and as it only takes a few minutes to do the initial enquiry it is WELL worth a go. You don't need to go through an agency or talk to anybody on the phone or anything, apparently THE BANKS have to make it as easy as possible so they're all supposed to have dedicated sections on their websites where you can just do it yourself. All you need is GOOGLE basically. It's peasy - have a go!

    posted 3/7/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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    Comics, Beer And Football
    I spent most of last work in the absolute HECKHOLE that is an Academic Conference. Wot a TRIAL it was, spending every day talking about comics, only broken up by regular trips to the pub to watch football with supporters of many nations.

    Yes all right, it was jolly good fun, but it did not begin that way, for LO! there were Troubles On The Line on Tuesday night which meant that every service to Bournemouth, where the conference was, was BUGGERED. This meant that the pleasant 100 minute sprint to the coast just in time to watch the football that I'd been hoping for turned into THREE AND A HALF HOURS on a PACKED train with me having to STAND for most of the way. When I finally arrived in Bournemouth, having entirely MISSED the football I trudged across town to what turned out to be the WRONG Premier Inn. "A lot of people get confused" said the lady at reception. The lady at reception in the RIGHT Premier Inn said EXACTLY the same thing when I got there!

    The conference itself started on the Wednesday morning and it was GRATE. I did my talk (about defining 'The Marvel Age' as a distinct period) right in the first session of talks, which meant I could then RELAX for the rest of the week. It seemed to go all right, with some good questions and nice feedback afterwards, which added to my RELIEF.

    I also went to some ACE talks on Dan Dare, The Marie Duvall Archive, a cunning use of DATABASES to demonstrate changes in storytelling methods over time, digital comics collecting, and quite a lot of Alan Moore. I also ended up going to several sessions about WOMEN in comics, especially in early GIRLS' comics, which was fascinating - it was a MASSIVE market that ran alongside the BOYS' comics that we all know so much more about, and it feels like there's a whole ALTERNATE UNIVERSE where, instead of banging on about Pat Mills and Judge Dredd, people are fascinated by Anne Digby and Tammy! (NB I say Anne Digby because she was there and did an INTERVIEW, and she was BRILL)

    Another nice thing this year was that I actually KNEW a few people. It's always scary going to these things when you're NEW and don't have anyone to sit with at lunch. It is basically SKOOL for grown-ups, and like SKOOL it's much much easier when you have people you know from previous events who you can sidle up to for a chat. One of the people there was Mr J Senna, who I'd met when I was in Tuebingen in February, and who I ended up seeing several football games with. Watching Brazil with an Actual Brazilian was a lot of fun, only topped by spending one afternoon BUNKING OFF and going to the pub to watch South Korea beat Germany. That was PRETTY GOOD.

    The whole thing FLEW by so that I now find myself back at work once more, looking forward to the NEXT conference I'm attending in a few weeks. This one's only a day long but it will have the added benefit of featuring me CO-PRESENTING with Mr FA Machine - more on this ANON!

    posted 2/7/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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