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Blog Archive: May 2019The Down The Road From My House Fringe
There was a miniature THEATRE FESTIVAL in The Olympic Village Where We Live last week - they'd hired a "Pop Up Theatre" from Paines Plough and booked a bunch of SHOWS to put in them and, being less than five minutes from our front door, it seemed RUDE not to go to at least one or two shows, so that is what we did!
Once we got inside the theatre for our first show on Sunday we found it to be LOVELY, surprisingly so in fact. From the outside it looked like it was going to be a HOT TENT, but inside it was Actually Comfortable teired seating in the round with proper facilities and not BOILING HOT. The only downside was that it didn't have a bar in it!
The show we saw that night was Not Very Good. From the blurb it looked SUSPICIOUSLY like a two-man musical featuring general titting about, which FOR SOME REASON appealed to me. Unfortunately for all concerned, however, it was just a bit rubbish - I had had cause to listen to a little bit of Moon Horse earlier in the week, and I can tell you this: It was NO MOON HORSE.
It started off OK, but it soon became clear that this was very much a Work In Progress. This would be FINE if it had been advertised (and charged for!) as such, but if definitely wasn't. Actually, saying it was "in progress" would have been charitable anyway, as they gave the distinc impression that they'd not done it ANYWHERE before. The "Work" bit was questionable too, as we both thought it needed A LOT OF WORK doing to it. There was no proper story, the songs were a bit boring, and there just weren't enough GAGS in it.
We DID enjoy slagging it off on the way home though, which is always a big part of the fun of going to the Edinburgh Fringe anyway! When we got back I did my usual thing when I see Rubbish Comedians In Fancy Venues: I googled them to see if they went to Oxford or Cambridge. INVARIABLY they will turn out to be one or the other, and I was not disappointed this time, especially when I got the BONUS RESULT of discovering that one of them is also the POSH SON of a POSH HUMOURIST!
The next day's show was MUCH MUCH MUCH BETTER, when we went to see a double-bill of Rob Auton and Rhys James. Again, this was a Work In Progress and again it wasn't advertised as such, but a) it was a double bill so basically HALF PRICED and b) it was GRATE. I've never seen Rhys James before, but he was very good indeed - I mean, he's very much a young white male stand-up comedian doing stand-up comedy, but he was EXTREMELY good at it and had A LOT of Actual Jokes, although it was a bit unsettling hearing him talk about the 1990s as a long time ago and MEAN it.
Rob Auton was something else altogether, he is ACE. We've seen him before and thought similar thoughts e.g. that what he does is very close to being POETRY (especially this time as he was reading most of it out!) and also THOUGHTFUL with INTERESTING IDEAS and NEW OBSERVATIONS. On top of that though he is SUPER-ENGAGING and has, again, LOADS of Actual Jokes. It was, in short, a FAB night out which more than made up for the night before!
It also kind of made me want to pop up to the Fringe again sometime. A Day Return's doable, right?
posted 30/5/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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Staying Up For The Results
On Sunday evening The Numbers In My Poll and I did our usual exercise of Staying Up For The Election Results, for LO! it was the night that the results were announced for the European Elections, and we had WHISKY in the cupboard!
As is traditional on such events I was also in communication with my long-term ELECTION NIGHT BUDDY Mr T Pattison, who commented that it was very nice to have an election where the results came in EARLY. Not long after midnight most of the UK Results were in, which was EFFICIENT even if not particularly encouraging for the wellbeing of our NATION.
Having said that, there was a surprising amount of happiness for me in the results, especially when the people on telly FINALLY LISTENED to me shouting at them through the screen, and pointed out that a) the Br*x*t Party had actually NOT gained 31% from NOTHING as they were basically UK*P and had just taken all their votes and b) if you added up the Definite Remain votes then we had MORE than the Definite Brexit ones. Also, as a lifetime Lib Dem, it is always nice to see them doing well again, and ESPECIALLY so when that happens alongside The Greens. It was at least SOMETHING to maintain good cheer in the face of the UTTER LOONIES who were BRAYING all over the television otherwise.
Having it all get mostly announced before 1am meant that we had some WHISKY left to put back in the cupboard, but I am not resting on my BOOZE LAURELS as yet - we've got the Peterborough by-election to get through soon, and then I suspect we may have at least one more WHISKY NIGHT before the year is out!
posted 29/5/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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A Festival Band
On Saturday afternoon I headed back to Derby, where only a few short months ago The Validators and I had played at A Beer Festival. This time we were going to play at... a beer festival!
For LO! The Furnace Inn (AKA Frankie's local) was having its Annual Beer Festival, and we had been invited to play! Well, I say "invited", it had actually come about due to the aforesaid Frankie fancying doing a gig at the end of his road, and so negotiating with a member of the Brewery Staff there to get us on the bill i.e. his own FIRSTBORN SON. What on earth they think they're doing employing a SIX YEAR OLD to brew their beer I am sure I do not know, but it certainly worked out for us!
So it was that I met my fellow Validators in the beer garden, where the main band (we were on at 6.30pm - they had got in a proper local covers band to do the headline set!) were setting up their MASSIVE PA system beneath the GAZEBO. We had a DELIGHTFUL ninety minutes of CHAT, during which Tim was presented with The AAS Football Trophy for his success in The AAS Football Competition, and we hammered through some THORTS on our forthcoming recording session(s). The upshot of the latter was that The Validators are going to have a practice WITHOUT ME, as this is "easier to organise", apparently. I am sure it is not a COUP.
The beer garden filled up with a wide range of lovely people, even including some who were not directly related to Frankie, and we took to the stage and did THIS:
20 Things To Do Before You're 30
Can We Be Friends?
Two Blokes, One Pub
Have A Drink With Us (Drink Doch Eine Met)
Hibbett's Golden Rules Of Beer
Billy Jones Is Dead
My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
Do The Indie Kid
We Did It Anyway
To be honest, I do not think I was at my GLORIOUS BEST for this set, as I couldn't really hear myself so SHOUTED to start with and thus lost VOICE towards the end, but everyone else was GRATE and people seemed to like it, which is very much The Main Thing!
With the all done with we settled into a DELIGHTFUL rest of the evening which featured much discussion and MANY and various types of BEER, which was flipping delicious. As I always say, the GIG bit of Validators gigs are all well and good, but I mostly turn up for the hanging around before and afterwards!
It was a lovely evening, although when Tim suggested going for a curry I had to excuse myself as being "too pissed for curry". I was actually too pissed to a) stay awake and b) communicate with other humans, but I made up for the lack of curry by joining The Pattisons and Chums next morning for a GINORMOUS Premier Inn breakfast! HOORAH! More of this sort of thing please!
posted 28/5/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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It's been a long long time coming, but I'm happy to say that there will be another Plinths EP out in a few weeks time. It's called "Plintshmania" and you can see a thrilling trailer for the lead track HERE:
It's good isn't it? Originally I was going to have a go at making something vaguely similar, but after approx 900 hours of trying I realised I had absolutely no idea what to do. Luckily Mr J Dredge had been talking to Jeff from Popaisy Productions who had a a) similar b) much better way to do it that invovled c) actual ability and competence. PHEW!
"Idiots Run The World" is the first track, but there'll be three more available on Bandcamp, iTunes and all that. We recorded them WAY back in September last year alongside Pancake Day, so it will be a DELIGHT to finally get them out in the world!
posted 23/5/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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Game Of Thrones
I got up at 6am in the Actual Morning on Monday, not for Work Reasons but to watch the final episode of Game Of Thrones. I did something similar a couple of weeks ago when I went to see Avengers: Endgame for exactly the same reason i.e. to avoid Annoying Sods Doing Spoilers, and this was the only way to do it!
It's not the IDEAL way to watch the conclusion to ANY long-running franchise, but it did mean I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen, and I enjoyed it a LOT more because of it. In fact I enjoyed it quite a LOT - it wasn't packed with ACTION but then the best bits of the series have always tended to be People Saying Things In Rooms, and there was a LOT of that about. Also, there were several JOKES which I particularly enjoyed!
Having got to the end I'd really quite like to go back to the start and watch the whole thing again. I haven't read the books and I've never re-watched an episode - I watched the first three seasons at HIGH SPEED on DVD boxsets, so there's LOTS I'll have missed along the way. Whenever I read a review it's always full of references to PROPHECIES or STATEMENTS from past issues that I have absolutely no memory of, so I'm sure I'll get something out of it. The only problem is that I've been watching it on the Now TV box, which DOES have all of the episodes on it at the moment, but only for another four weeks or so. I guess I COULD watch the lot between now and then, but I don't think I can face getting up early EVERY day to fit it all in!
posted 22/5/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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The London Mithraeum
This weekend The Provenance Of My Artifacts and I went to The London Mithraeum. It was DEAD GOOD!
A mithraeum is a Temple Of Mithras i.e. a Roman church, and this one was discovered during an archeological excavation of a former bomb site in 1954. It's a bit like what you get at Vindolanda i.e. the layout of the walls up to about 3 feet high, and it's contained in a specially built museum underneath the new Bloomsberg Building. When it was first uncovered it was moved down the road to a new site for display, but when Bloomsberg bought the original site they decided to put it back (almost) in its original place, and build a museum around it.
The Squares On My QR Code had heard about it when she'd been to a Thing at the building a little while ago, so we booked our (Free!) tickets and rolled up. I am on record as saying that my favourite sort of museum is a Museum Of One Thing, and this was NEARLY that - they had an art exhibition on the ground floor, but otherwise it was ALL Roman Stuff, including a really clever display of artefacts found on the site, shown in a vertical glass cabinet.
Downstairs from that was a darkened room, which the aforesaid Text In My Caption suggested was to prepare our EYES for a darker room to come. She was correct, and we remained there for a while as we waited for our turn to go in, reading some VERY good computer display screens that told us all about the MYSTERIOUS cult of Mithras. Actually, it didn't seem all that mysterious to us - it was an all-male sect made up of ex-soldiers, civil servants and building contractors who met regularly for secret rituals and then a lot of booze. Surely that's The Masons isn't it?
When it was our turn we headed down another level to the mithraeum itself, seven metres below current street level. This is something that always bothers me - why is Old Stuff always so far underground? I know about rubbish and rubble and dust and all that, but surely that stuff must COME from somewhere? Did the world used to be populated with gigantic mounds of Loose Earth that gradually blew over everything? Or did there used to be Old Stuff that would now be hanging in mid-air?
When we all got into the room it was indeed a bit dark. A member of staff said "The EXPERIENCE will begin in a couple of minutes," and then clsoed the door. Sure enough we could soon hear VOICES engaged in some sort of ritual which was a) very cleverly done, especially as they used the Quadrophonic Sound to make it seem as if the voices were moving around the room, but b) a bit daft, as they'd just told us upstairs that nobody knew what went on in these rituals! The BEST/CLEVEREST bits though were the way that they made it seem like much more building than it actually was - there was MIST all around the room which was lit from above, so it looked like a BOX, but there were seven little dangling SHELVES along the sides which created shadows that looked like PILLARS all around it. It's hard to explain, but it looked REALLY good!
The whole thing lasted, as we'd been promised, about 20 minutes, after which we went back upstairs, looked briefly at the ART, and then went to the new (ish) branch of TIBITS round the corner, which was FAB. The entire endevour was, in fact, GRATE - I do like a Museum Of One Thing!
posted 21/5/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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Going ON In A Meeting
Being in a job that I Actually Find Interesting is still a bit of a novelty to me, even after being IN it for over a year, so when I went to a meeting on Friday that was Quite Good I was a bit surprised. When it turned out to involve a certain type of academic behaving like a certain type of academic, however, I was less so!
The meeting was all about research data, and gathered together a bunch of people from the London area who deal with it in academic environments. Rather than have presentations we were put into groups on tables and given a series of QUESTIONS to discuss. For each question we got about 15 minutes, and then at the end each table fed back to the group. I always DREAD this sort of thing, largely due to my long history of working in subject areas that I neither know much about nor am hugely interested in (sorry, all my previous jobs) but this time around I was delighted to find I was not only interested in what other people had to say, but had some remarks of my OWN to make! Even better, I was able to access the BRANES of people who were significantly more experienced than me in such matters who were VERY happy to share their knowledge. What made this especially handy was that the FORMAT of informal chats meant that they were able to share the SECRET knowledge as well about e.g. How To Get People To Archive Their Data and How Not To Fall Out With The Library Forever. It was DEAD good!
Most other people were from the Library, Scholarly Communications or Research Department at their relevant institution, but one person there was an Actual Researcher, a fact which he seemed to think we would all find FASCINATING. "This is your chance to talk to one of us!" he joked, apparently unaware that Talking To Researchers is approx 40-60% of most of our JOBS. I could hear this chap talking in his Loud, Confident, Posh voice behind me throughout the first half of the meeting, and ended up sitting on the same table as him when we came back after a break - we had all been told to move around, and it was VERY NOTICEABLE that every single person who'd been on the same table as him before had gone to one of the other two instead!
I soon found out why as he entirely DOMINATED the conversation for the entire rest of the session. MAN ALIVE but it was frustrating, but everyone was TOO POLITE to call him out on it, so what had been an Interesting Conversation turned into an unasked-for monologue, with two people gently trying to move things along when they could get a word in and the rest of us fairly quickly giving up. He had that way of talking where a sentence never ever ends, just pauses very briefly before the next bit starts, and a voice that seemed to have an UNDERLYING DRONE like a SITAR or something so there was always SOUND going on even in the gaps, so there was no space for anyone to jump in. At one point, after a series of ANECDOTES about Times He Had Been Proven Right someone LEAPT in and quickly asked "But how is this different in the Arts?" Others amongst took up the conversation and we then got about 60 seconds of discussion before The Researcher smiled and said "I'll give you another example..." and then smilingly carried on from exactly where he'd been before, completely ignoring what the rest of us had just said!
The thing is, I know many people will think "AHA! Welcome to my world! This is THE PATRIARCHY in action!" which, of course, it surely is, but this sort of behaviour is surprisingly Not That Common in my line of work - not to this INSANE DEGREE anyway. Most academics I meet are, if anything, PAINFULLY AWARE of the fact that they COULD be like that, and do at least TRY to remember that other people sometimes need to be heard too. That also gets a bit frustrating after a while, but after Friday's meeting I will hopefully appreciate their efforts a bit more - there are some people who have a propensity to GO ON A BIT and think themselves FASCINATING, but it's a lot easier to forgive if they at least recognise this fact about themselves and try to temper such behaviour.
Er... what do you think?
posted 20/5/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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A Practice In The Wasteland
On Saturday morning my alarm went off at 7.20am, just as it does on most other mornings when I have to go to work. On this occasion, however, I was heading not to a desk but to ROCK, for LO! I was bound for Leicester to meet The Validators!
As recorded previously on this blog, I tried out a whole HEAP of new songs whilst I was on tour with Mr M Tiller, and now The Validators were getting together to see if we could turn them into BAND songs. We'd originally booked 1pm-4pm in Quad in Leicester, but then the unexpected elevation of Derby County to the play-off finals necessitated moving it to 12-3pm so that our resident Derby season ticket holder could get back in time!
Annoyingly for me there were WORKS occuring on the trains, so instead of zooming straight to Leicester from St Pancras I had to go round to Euston, get a train to Nuneaton, hang around Nuneaton Station (REVIEW: "Not worth hanging around in") and then get another train to Leicester, where I met the aforesaid season ticket holder on the concourse. We got a taxi and ZOOMED over to the studio, which is based in Frog Island. It's a WEIRD bit of Leicester almost entirely comprised of abandoned, disintegrating factories. It basically looks like about half of the UK did in 1979 - an as yet un-redeveloped wasteland of bombsites and industrial decay, so that you expect to trip over an early indie band having moody promo shots taken.
Talking of which, once we got inside we discovered the rest of our own indie band already there getting everything set up. Or, in Emma's case, CROCHETING. It was, as ever, BLOODY LOVELY to see everybody again, and we had a LOVELY few hours of conversation, occasionally interupted by ROCK. After revisiting Two Blokes One Pub we delved into I'm Doing The Ironing, which took a LOT of working out. Over the years we have all assumed specific roles in the band, with Mr FA Machine taking on the mantle of "Musical Director", which basically means that whenever we try a new song everyone looks at HIM to tell us EITHER what we should do OR what we were doing wrong. He is very good at it, not least in his willingness to politely listen to people going "Can we do the bit that goes EEEE for a bit longer, and maybe sort of stringier?" or similar without murdering them (me). We tried several different ways of doing it, and ended up with a PRETTY GOOD version that involved some STRUMMING in the chorus that was a bit complicated for me i.e. different to the way I always do it otherwise, but ACE.
We then moved on to I Don't Have To Worry About That which was MUCH eaiser, before tackling You're A Tory Now which sounded GRATE, although sadly REALLY SHORT, so we had to do it again. Here our Musical Director had made a couple of suggestions for adjustments which I had put in (an extra "you're a tory now" to a slightly different tune at the end of the second and last choruses) and which WORKED!
The PLAN is to record SOME songs and then release them as SINGLES, hopefully backed with b-sides. The idea here is that it means we get to release something during THIS century, rather than having to wait to put an album out, and I proposed an IDEA to The Validators about how we might market these as PHYSICAL ITEMS. I will not reveal details of the idea here, lest THE MAN steals it before we can enact it, but suffice to say that we all had a good think about reasons why it might NOT be an ASTOUNDING IDEA THAT WILL CHANGE MUSIC FOREVER, and could not think of any.
It was soon 3pm so we sent Frankie off to catch his train while the rest of us ventured out into the RAIN to find a PUB. We ended up in The Salmon which, weirdly, is a pub in Leicester I have NEVER been in. That, I suppose, explains why it has not yet been knocked down. After a pint the Pattisons had to go, leaving myself and Mr T 'Tiger' McClure to have a RIGHT old chat about Diverse Subjects, which was FAB. Why do they all insist on not moving to London so that we can do this sort of thing more often?
It was a LOVELY day only slightly marred by my return journey. On the way to the station I checked the times on my phone and saw an ALERT saying one of the connections on the journey back had been cancelled. I went into the Customer Services office to check and MY WORD but the staff there were HORRIBLE. They GLARED at me with completely undisguised CONTEMPT, almost SPAT at me in their DISGUST that I was asking them for information, tutted at my question, gave me WRONG info, and then claimed that THEY had said exactly what I had said all along. It was most DISCOMFITTING, but then was very much made up for by the staff at CORBY, where we had to get off the train and change to a BUS. They were BLOODY LOVELY, with lots of information and clear guidance off the train, a bus driver who walked down the bus saying hello and explaining the toilets in a JOVIAL fashion and another member of staff who came aboard to apologise for us being there and explaining what would happen next. They were a DELIGHT!
The Validators gather again in a couple of weeks, for the Furnace Beer Festival in Derby (with us onstage at 6.30pm). I've checked and it's all proper trains that weekend - I can't wait!
posted 13/5/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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Meditation and ASMR
You find me in a rather unusual state for me: that of Not Having Too Much On The Go. There is ROCK stuff ongoing (we have a Validators practice this weekend and a gig in a couple of weeks), I'm working away on the PhD, and waiting to hear about The Book, but otherwise a gentle quiet has fallen.
Rather than sit around and be BORED I have investigated some of that MINDFULLNESS what the young people talk about. Part of this has been via MEDITATION, what has turned out to be BLOODY GRATE. There's a weekly session at work and, it turns out, loads of Guided Meditations on YouTube, so most days I sit down and do 10-20 minutes of THAT, and CRIKEY but it is good stuff. For most of my life my BRANE has chuntered on pretty much NON-STOP with worrying about things, but doing meditation seems to lead to a CALMNESS that is like being on HOLIDAY, without having to spend a whole day getting even more stressed in airports to get to it!
I've also had a little look at all this ASMR (Autonous Sensory Meridian Response0 stuff. For most of my childhood I thought that a) everybody felt super relaxed and vaguely tingly while getting their haircut or at the optician's and b) I possibly had a MAGNET in my forehead like a HOMING PIGEON, as I got a weird buzzing up there if I put everything close to the spot between my eyebrows. It's a bit hard to explain if it's not something you've experienced, and as I got older I started to think maybe it was just me. Imagine then my DELIGHT when John Allison mentioned EXACTLY these sensations in Giant Days #1 and I finally had a NAME for it!
So it was that last night I ended up watching the first ten minutes of an HOUR LONG YouTube video that was a Pretend Optician's Appointment from the patient's point of view. It was all a bit odd. It certainly WORKED - I felt INTENSELY relaxed and fizzy round the back of the neck - but I also felt like maybe I should feel a bit GUILTY about it, like it was some sort of weird PORN or something. There was no RUDENSS of any kind, just a woman doing a pretend eye examination, but still, I stopped it before she got to the "is it better with this lens? Or this lens?" bit which, at the best of times, turns me into the DALAI LAMA of prescription glasses. Maybe another time!
posted 8/5/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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An Artists Against Success Presentation