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Blog Archive: January 2020

All This Vegan Business
The other night The Dishes On My Menu and I DINED OUT. The new hotel down the road from us were offering a Vegan Set Menu for Veganuary, so we thought we'd give it a go. The aforementioned Food On My Plate booked us in at 7pm (as the set menu wasn't available much later than that) which was EARLY for us, so, as she said, it felt more like we'd gone out for TEA than a Posh Dinner, and it turned out to be DELICIOUS.

It always seems rude NOT to go and do this sort of thing, like you're letting the side down if you DON'T buy a Vegan Thing when an organisation who normally wouldn't do something like that DOES. This makes wandering round the food hall in Marks & Sparks a bit of a GUILT TRIP as they have TONNES of new vegan stuff, and we don't have a fridge big enough to fit it all in - see also The Vegan Fridge in Waitrose.

It is all a LONG way from how things were when I first went Vegetarian, approx 7 million years ago in 1991. Back then you could only buy Special Vegetarian Foods in health food shops, and that was nearly all POWDERED. I did used to like the packet burgers and LOVED "Sizzles", the bright red powdered "bacon substitute" that tasted nothing like bacon but when EXTREMELY well with a hangover, and though I do miss them a bit I am aware that they would probably not be quite so nice if I tried them again. I had a BEANFEAST a few years ago which proved this theory to be correct!

It also used to be a PAIN eating out, as often there would be NOWT suitable, even for a cheese-friendly veggie like me. I distinctly remember going to a conference in FRANCE in the mid-90s when I spent several days explaining that no, HAM wasn't vegetarian no matter how much you grated it up onto a lettuce, and ending up eating my own body weight in RAW BEETROOT. There were always Veggie Cafes, with their Cork Noticeboards advertising protest marches and yoga classes, bead curtains into the kitchen, and "ethnic hat"-wearing proprietors, but if you didn't like falafel and flapjack you were a bit stuck. I really DO like falafel and flapjack, however, and miss those cafes too!

Nowadays it's all very different, with special MENUS at most of the chain restaurants, Actual Properly Nice Veggie Restaurants too, and the question "So why did you go vegetarian?" is being asked less and less often. It's lovely, but slightly disconcerting in that it appears to have happened because of CAPITALISM. There is clearly a market for this sort of food, so THE MAN answers the demand by providing Delicious Tasty Vegan Grub, which makes a "plant-based diet" much easier to follow, so MORE people do it, so THE MAN provides more food, and so on. It feels a long way from cork boards and powdered breakfast products, but if it's stopping people killing and eating quite so many animals then it is, I reckon, a good thing.

Having said that, if anyone knows anyone who works in purchasing for M&S, could they see about getting SIZZLES brought back please?

posted 30/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Winter Lights
On Thursday night myself and The Bulb In My Lamp went over to Canary Wharf to look at Winter Lights. I must admit I thought it was going to be a brisk stroll around a few underwhelming light thingies, but in actual fact it was GRATE, and ended up being nearly two hours of us walking around Canary Wharf going "OOH! Look at THAT!"

There were 26 different sculptures spread around the whole of Canary Wharf, linked by lots of Surprisingly Good Signage and an EXCELLENT (if slightly oddly numbered) map which took us round the whole lot with ease. There were lots of staff on hand giving these maps out, and LOADS of people using them. Again, I'd thought it'd be just us but there were HUNDREDS of people trekking round, all having a LOVELY time. It reminded us both of London Lumiere which we went to a couple of years ago, except with less MASSIVE things but the whole thing much more compact and easy to get round.

Amazingly for something like this there was nothing RUBBISH or annoying, and (incredibly for something relying so heavily on electircs) everything WORKED! Highlights included an incredible sculpture that broadcast words onto a moving fall of water which... actually, rather than me trying to say what it was, here's a video someone else made:

There was another one showing light on MIST called "Constellation" that looked AMAZING, a fab garden of light called "Squiggle" and what looked like a Christmas Tree forest, modelled here by your correspondent.

I think my favourite was an INSTALLATION called "Chromatic Play". We had to queue up to get in, and when we did it was just some rather underwhelming half-globes in the ground that looked a bit like slime monsters. They were meant to be sensory, so everyone vaguely waved at them but it didn't seem to do much... until one of the guides came in and explained EXACTLY how it worked, with them changing colour according to people standing near or far from their sensors and then with each other. She explained it all so clearly, getting us all to step backwards and forwards to make it work, that something that had seemed disappointing suddenly made SENSE. As The Words On My Description said, if ALL Installations had someone like this to explain them it would help REALLY A LOT. I concurred!

posted 27/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Crowd Sourcing A Crowd
As well as ROCKING OUT at Totally Acoustic on Thursday night, I also engaged in some GUERILLA recording, using my four-track to record various delightful people singing along to the end coda of People Are All Right (when they are given half a chance). It's going to be our next single, but whilst listening to the (AMAZING) initial MIXES provided by Mr FA Machine I felt that we needed a crowd singing along for the final section, and realised that I would have access that night to a bunch of people very used to singing along!

My initial plan was to get the whole ROOM singing along at once as part of my set, but I eventually accepted that this would actually be Rather Annoying. My bit at the start is meant to just be a quick warm-up to get everyone used to the idea that it's a gig (some people take a while to realise this without lights, stage or PA) rather than the GUEST ARTISTES having to do it, but if I tried to orchestrate a recording session it would quickly descend into ADMIN and RE-TAKES. Also, I couldn't think of way to do it that wouldn't involve being able to hear ME bellowing over the top, or going wildly out of time with the actual recording. THUS I chose instead to use the multi-tracking capabilities of my recording device, and grabbed people and/or GROUPS of to record it as a series of seperate tracks.

Much to my surprise it worked REALLY WELL, as at various points in the evening I GRABBED people, stood them on the pub landing just outside the loo, put headphones on one of them, and then got them to sing along. Some people went solo, others in groups (with one person using headphones and the others following along with them), but everyone seemed to get the hang of it. Surely ALL recording sessions should be this peasy?

Over the weekend we recorded one extra vocal from The Notes In My Harmony, and then I began putting it all together. Again, it was DEAD EASY - it turns out that if you mix together a crowd of people singing the same song they sound like... well, a crowd! The oddest thing to my ears was that you could also REMOVE people and not make much difference. I wanted to check that no one voice was dominant, and so MUTED indivual tracks as it played through, but each time I was surprised to find it didn't make much difference. Taking HALF the people out obviously DID, but when there's LOADS it doesn't seem to matter. It reminded me of mixing APPLAUSE, which I always find DISTINCTLY odd. You can pretty much SPLICE together ANY two bits of applause, so long as they're of roughly the same volume, without anyone ever noticing. I do this all the time when putting together the podcasts and always MARVEL at the fact that you can never hear the join.

Anyway, the crowd recording is DONE now and sent to Frankie. I am hopeful that he will find his own mixing experience as straightforward as what I did, and then we are one step closer to unleashing another HIT!

posted 21/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Po! and Panic Pocket
I was DELIVERING TRAINING at The London College Of Fashion on Thursday afternoon (if you want to take this to mean I was TEACHING FASHIONABILITY then I am powerless to stop you), which was extremely handy as it left me at the end of the day with a ten minute walk round the corner from Oxford Circus to The King & Queen, where Totally Acoustic was due to occur.

I was delighted, as ever, to discover Mr S Hewitt already in place, but then AMAZED to find BOTH of the evening's acts arriving shortly afterwards! All performers were in the building by 18:38 which is a definite record, although rather than reassuring me I was UNNERVED - surely this was AGAINST NATURE?!? My unnervedness continued when we went upstairs just after 19:00 to discover that the room was already set out, but in a Very Slightly Different way to how it usually is. It worked really well as it meant that the DRUMKIT (Drumkit!) could be put further away from the band and audience than usual, but it did feel odd (if only to me) to have the vast majority of the audience all in the same part of the room rather than, as usual, in two seperate ends of the "L".

My mind was taken off this issue by the arrival of MANY lovely people, notably almost ALL of the TA regulars (including Susan who had ONCE AGAIN brought a whole bag full of SNACKS for everybody) and Non-Performing Pop Stars all OVER the place. The room was pretty nicely filled up by the time I took to the stage and, after the traditional performance of the theme tune, did this:

  • I Think I Did OK
  • The Perfect Love Song

  • I Think I Did OK is a NEW song what I wrote a few days previously, the morning after seeing The Just Joans, and it seemed to go down quite well. I was very happy to be able to involve Mr G Gilchrist in the final verse, citing him as evidence that I have NEVER been, as the song suggests, "better at drinking" than I am now, and this led me to do The Perfect Love Song as a song from the far off days - surely at least a few years ago now hem hem - when Voon were playing in the same places as Po!

    After me Panic Pocket played and they were GRATE. I asked them to play because I've really enjoyed listening to their songs on Bandcamp, and they did not disappoint in The Live Arena. There is a WIT and a WAY with their songs that I really like, like they're talking ABOUT stuff but do so in an ENGAGING and often quite funny way. There's lots of bands around that do the talking ABOUT stuff thing, but I must admit I usually find the actual execution a bit DULL, like they've found an ISSUE to say, say that it exists, and don't do anything else with the information. Panic Pocket have a bit more STYLE about them - I did say I'd been teaching at LCF earlier, so surely I should KNOW!. INTERESTINGLY* (*to me) their songs came out sounding more TRADITIONAL when done with Guitar and Battery-powered keyboard than they seem on mp3 - I am pretty sure this is both a) a good thing and b) a fascinating insight. They were GRATE!

    After the break we got Po! on, who demonstrated that even a band who have been going since (as their BADGES stated) 1987 can STILL experiment with radical setlist methodologies. Ruth had prepared a SHEET like a PICTURE ROUND for a pub quiz, with each picture being a CLUE to one of their songs. There were a few of us who knew their songs who got SOME of them, but it quickly became a RANDOMISATION FUNCTION as people yelled out LETTERS and the band played whichever song it applied to - I don't think the rest of the band knew which songs were represented by which picture either, but luckily Ruth helped them out. There were UTTER CLASSICS of their earlier career, some new songs, and even a cover of The Ruts! It was BRILLO!

    With all that done the evening took its usual course of YACKING followed by WHISKY downstairs. It was a whole lot of fun, as will hopefully be demonstrated soon when I get the podcast done!

    posted 20/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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    Versions Of Watchmen
    Ironically, since starting a PhD in COMICS, I have read a lot less COMICS than I used to. Well, for fun anyway - I'm still doing my Marvel Age Doom blog going through EVERY appearance of Doctor Doom from 1961 to 1987 (back this week with some EXCITING stories!), and that involves reading a LOT of comics, but they're not always hugely FUN, and that doesn't leave a whole heap of time for reading just for the sheer HECK of it.

    That means that I've missed quite a few comics that I'd really like to have had a look at, one of which was Kieron Gillen's "Peter Cannon Thunderbolt" series. I must admit that in the past I've been a bit off and on with his stuff, as it often felt like I didn't know enough about what he was on about to fully appreciate the stories he was writing (e.g. I like Kenickie but don't really care about DJing, so lots of Phonogram passed me by), but this appealed to me because it was apparently about/an answer to/a sequel to WATCHMEN, which I have read approx 7,000 times. SO, when I saw that it was available on Comixology for 69p an issue over Christmas I LEAPT at the chance to read it.

    COR! I was REALLY glad that I did! I spent half of boxing day reading through the whole thing, then RE-reading it, then reading his writer's commentary, then forcing myself to go to BED rather than read it all AGANE. It was GRATE!

    It is INDEED an answer to/analysis of Watchmen, using analogue characters and EXTREMELY CHEEKY quotations, visual and textual, to make points not just about the original series but also the other (rarely mentioned) series that influenced it, the influences it has had itself and the responses to it since it came out, and also where comics might go next. It manages to do this whilst also being EXCITING and FUNNY, with regular chunks where I LARFED out loud at how VERY CLEVER it was being, and also somewhat NAUGHTY. There's a bit which directly quotes Watchmen Issue 1 page 6 (Rorschach climbing through the window) that is simultaneously a SIGHT GAG, a statement on what's happening in the story, and ALSO a commentary on how the original is not necessarily as FORMALIST as we think it is. I'm probably making it sound dead po-faced and annoying, but honest, it is GRATE.

    A few days later I also BINGED the TV series "Watchmen", which was also dead good and Thought Provoking, but not in the same way. The first few episodes were AMAZING, partly because of the excellent job it did working out how the world might have moved on, but mostly because of the THEMES it was dealing with. I'm sorry to say I'd never even HEARD of The Black Wall Street Massacre, but the way it looked at race was something I certainly had not expected and thought was dead good. As with Peter Cannon, I also appreciated the constant NUDGES towards the original, with certain phrases repeating and images popping up, although it did get to the point that, when they went to a graveyard I was looking out for The Angel from the cover of issue 2, and cheered when I saw it.

    As everybody else in the world has said, it did tail off a bit towards the end, and finding out that EVERYBODY was somehow related to everybody else and It Was All A Scheme was a bit much, but I did VERY MUCH appreciate the fact that having a final episode that goes VERY MUCH off the rails and drives FULL STEAM into LUDICROUSNESS was a clear and intentional tribute to the original, which did exactly the same thing.

    What I think I'm saying is that if you've have read "Watchmen" and would like someone's idea of what might happen next, give the TV series a go. If you've read "Watchmen" a LOT and would like someone's idea of how it works, what it means for comics, and how it might be developed differently, but with jokes, read "Peter Cannon". And if you haven't read "Watchman" at all, give it a go, it's pretty good too!

    posted 16/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Just Joans
    After work on Friday I met with Mr S Hewitt and chums in Fashionable Islington's Fashionable Craft Beer N1 in preparation for seeing The Just Joans later that evening. It's quite nice, Craft Beer N1, although for some reason the table we were sat at had rather high seats, so there was a lot of going "OOF!" whenever one needed to clamber down to go to the bar.

    The pub featured a gentle stream of people coming and going to the same gig, and for this reaosn it was not until after 9pm that Steve and I wandered down the road to The Lexington and into a mini-Indietracks of delightful people. I bumped into Mr J Osborne (POET) and Mr J Jervis (LEGEND) almost immediately, and spent large parts of the rest of the evening seeing people I hadn't seen for AGES. The gig was part of the Winter Sprinter, a FOUR DAY series of gigs for which people had come from far and wide, which meant the room was PACKED with familiar faces. It was lovely!

    The gig itself was BLOODY FANTASTIC. Steve and I watched from our usual position in the EXECUTIVE SUITE (i.e. the far end of the bar at the back) where you get a GRATE view, as can be seen below:

    No, that picture wasn't nicked from a high quality music periodical, I took it myself, honest!

    As has been noted on many previous occasions, the full-band live version of The Just Joans is a ROCKING PROPOSITION, and they have SO MANY HITS nowadays that they can do a whole set FULL of them and still have some to spare. They are also GRATE fun to watch - David is an EXCELLENT frontman, and many were the LARFS between songs. They are basically the last survivors of the Holy Indie Triumvate of Allo Darlin/Standard Fare/Just Joans (they are PULP to the others' Blur/Oasis) and so there was MUCH love in the room, especially when they did songs like "What Do We Do Now" which are ABOUT thinking nostalgically about friends and bands you used to know and now INDUCE exactly that.

    The gig was a launch for their (excellent) new album The Private Memoirs And Confessions Of The Just Joans and happily the new songs what they played off it MORE than matched up to THE HITS. I bought a copy from Mr Jervis on the way out and would HEARTILY recommed!

    It was a lovely night, but to be honest it was a bit disconcerting to be back at a GIG again with people I knew, doing something I used to do ALL the time but don't really much anymore. It didn't make me want to rush out and start GOING to loads of gigs again - not least because, to PARAPHRASE "What Do We Do Now", most of the bands that I loved back then ARE dead, and though the people I used to see at those gigs are still with us, they only go out to gigs about the same amount that I do i.e. a couple of times a year - but it was brilliant to dip my toe back in again for a bit. Maybe I WILL go to Indietracks this year and do it again!

    posted 14/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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    If Only There Was A Pun About 2020 And Visions
    Over the holidays I very much enjoyed reading the gradual countdown of Mr John Kell's Top 100 Albums Of The 2010s, partly because it is a thoughtful, entertainingly written, big list of some records I know and like and others I don't and might, and also partly because I MUST ADMIT I was wondering if we'd be in it.

    I was thus GRATIFIED to find that we're in at Number 18 with Still Valid, in the same group as Frankie Machine and The Just Joans (who I was UTTERLY DELIGHTED to see John comparing to ME!). However, the thing that REALLY got me thinking was where he says that it had been "a hugely prolific decade for Hibbett".

    "Has it?" I thought. My OUTPUTS over the past few years according to me, have mostly been to do with the PhD and My Writing Career, with You're A Tory Now the ONLY actual ROCK item we released in 2019. It seems, to me at least, that not much has gone on for AGES, but then John goes on to say that my "output in the 2010s has straddled scripts for stage, screen and radio, at least one novel, four Edinburgh fringe shows and, oh yes, two albums with the Vlads". Oh yeah. When you put it like that, I suppose I have been quite busy - and that doesn't include doing a whole MA course and all the Totally Acoustic podcasts either!

    Still, I'm hoping that the 2020s are going to feature a bit more ACTUAL ROCK in them. As I keep saying to anyone who'll listen (notably in this interview with The Fountain) we have BIG PLANS to release THREE (3) brand new Validators singles in 2020, in a THRILLING new format, and I'm hoping that we might even get to sneak out a Christmas one at the end of the year too. Who knows, we might even do some GIGS to promote them!

    There will hopefully be some more LITERARY output too. Since I self-released my NOVEL back in 2018 I have signed up with an LITERARY AGENT and spent much of the past twelve months doing RE-WRITES on it until it was basically a whole other book and a half, with a new name, new characters, and even a couple of new JOKES! I did write a SEQUEL to the original too, although the first book has changed so much I'm going to have do do a complete DO-OVER of that, and in the meantime I've just started work on a NOVELISATION of Dinosaur Planet!

    And then at SOME point in the decade I will be FINISHING the PhD. Last time I saw my supervisory team we'd agreed on May 2021 as a hand-in date, and I am DETERMINED to try and get it done by then, if only so I'll have time to finally do OTHER other stuff - I'd like to do some solo gigs, for instance, and maybe even turn the frown of Mr S Hewitt upside down with a new SHOW at some point.

    There's also that wedding to go to next year too!

    Most of all though, I'd rather like it if the FUTURISTIC SPACE HIBBETT of 2030 looks back to now and says "Poor foolish Medieval Hibbett of 2020! He had no idea that he would end up as Poet Laureate/President Of The Moon/Professor Of Doctor Doomology at Latveria University!" Let's see what happens!

    posted 13/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Meeting of Validators
    Saturday saw me travelling to distant LOUGHBOROUGH, to attend that most hallowed of institutions - the Validators Christmas Curry And Band Meeting. Here is the Executive Summary: it was GRATE!

    We gathered in The Organ Grinder, which turned out to be a LOVELY pub. There was much catching up to do and, as Mr FA Machine pointed out, we really should get together more often as there was almost TOO MUCH to talk about, not least because we had a full agenda - or VLADGENDA - to get through.

    When I say agenda - or VLADGENDA -I do not mean a vague list of things to chat about, I mean a properly agreed, typed, printed out list of topics which we spent the next 90 minutes working through like the CRACK TEAM what we are. As usual I was struck with the idea that if we ever turned our attention to other matters - some form of business proposal perhaps, or world domination - we would be UNSTOPPABLE.

    It began with a presentation of the Financial Report for the year. We have recently changed our funding model to bring in SUBS from each member, as well as putting the proceeds from gigs, publishing and online sales into a central pot, so this was the first time we needed a financial report of this nature. I was glad to have the FACTS verified by Mr T McClure (who'd checked the details on our shared Paypal account before coming out) and the whole report passed as VALID by the assemblage. We then discussed the "You're A Tory Now" campaign, with KEY LEARNING POINTS. It turns out that the old days of getting something all ready two months before release to meet PRINT deadlines are very much BACK, except that now it's Spotify and Bandcamp you need to send press releases too, not NME and Q.

    All of this LEARNING was then utilised during the main discussion about what we're going to DO in 2020. We're going to release three EPs, and during the meeting we agreed what tracks we'd put out on each, with Mr T Pattison having a GRATE idea about putting some extra material on the (EXCITING) Bandcamp version. Mrs E Pattison was also persuaded to do some SPECIAL T-SHIRTS for it all!

    With that complete we then moved on to Ryan's for CURRY. Alongside Intellectual Discourse and Musical Recommendations we also had a BLOODY DELICIOUS tea. When we went in it looked like it was going to be one of those Posh Indian Restaurants where you don't get to have a Balti, but in actuality it was an EXCELLENT also PROPER Indian Restaurant where you definitely COULD have a Balti AND they brought out complimentary mints and liqueurs at the end. It was BRILLO!

    As we said our goodbyes afterwards I was filled with joy from a meeting well met, and also from the prospect of EXCITING ACTIONS to come in 2020. It is going to be AMAZING!

    posted 9/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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    Festive Art Day TWO
    The New Year began with us being DEAD SOPHISTICATED and heading out for EVEN MORE ART, as myself and The Hangings In MY Gallery went to the Tate Britain for a look around. We had a full itineray of THE ART planned, but got even more than we bargained for when we arrived to see that the front of the building was ALSO Art. It had been decorated by the Artist Anne Hardy to look POST APOCALYPTIC, with torn banners, lights falling off, and ice and snow on the steps. There were also sound effects like THUNDER and raging seas. It was dead good!

    Once inside we headed into the William Blake exhibition, which was ALL RIGHT. It certainly gave you a broad picture of his life and what he DID, and it certainly generated a LOT of Intellectual Discussion between the pair of us (all right mostly The Lines Of My Drawing) about how MODERN it was, and how similar a lot of his thinking was to modern comics, but there was nothing in it that really made either of us go "WHOO!" Part of the problem was that there was just SO BLOODY MUCH of it. It took FOREVER to get through, with each room PACKED with STUFF, often in the form of Very Small Drawings with a lot of TEXT to tell you about them. We agreed that it would have been A LOT better if there had only been a THIRD of the content - I know it is a Blockbuster Exhibition that people PAY for, but come on curators! CURATE!

    We then went to the cafe for a LOVELY cake, an all-right beer, and quite possibly the WORST cup of coffee ever created. It was like MUD that had been left to go off and then had vinegar added. UGH!

    Things picked up after that, however, when we went to look at Year 3 by Steve McQueen. This is a HUGE Project where Steve McQueen invited EVERY Year 3 pupil in London to have their photograph taken, and it ended up containing SEVENTY SIX THOUSAND children in Class Photographs variously GRINNING, GURNING and everything in between.

    It was COMPLETELY WONDERFUL and astonishingly MOVING. To start with we looked at the pictures one by one (or tried to, they go up to about 20 feet above the ground), then stepped back, then stepped in again to look more closely, and back and forth around the HUGE room with photographs EVERYWHERE. It felt like the entire FUTURE was in the room, all together, bunched up looking a) massively diverse but also b) just a bunch of kids with their teachers. Apparently, once the exhibition is over, all the pictures will be sent to the individual schools i.e. split up, just like the kids themselves one day will be. I teared up a bit when I thought about that. The Clothes In My Uniform made the Interesting Points that a) most of the male teachers looked like they should be in Indie Bands and b) almost all of the schools had some sort of UNIFORM, while I noted that c) approx 50% of London schools have exactly the same climbing apparatus on their wall.

    It was, individually and en masse, UTTERLY BEAUTIFUL, also FUNNY and TOUCHING and HOPEFUL. Of all the things what we saw on our two ART DAYS this is the one I'd recommend most!

    After all THAT we went to look at O' Magic Power Of Bleakness by Mark Leckey, which is a recreation of the underside of a motorway bridge, with FILMS playing and WEIRD EFFECTS and stuff. My favourite part was when we walked into what appeared to BE the underside of a motorway bridge where a medium-sized crowd had spread themselves out to watch stuff. It was Quite Good, but I did get slightly SPOOKED when it all turned a bit BLAIR WITCH with the videos.

    With our gallery trip complete we then walked up to Parliament and saw the Christmas Tree there, to Trafalgar Square for ANOTHER (slightly less impressive) tree (plus German Market) and then to Covent Garden for ANOTHER Tree (best of the lot) and a GORGEOUS use of LIGHTS where they'd taken a whole street and basically outlined the whole thing with Fairy Lights. It was Somewhat Atmospheric!

    We then stomped some more down to Leicester Square then took a SCENIC ROUTE (which was definitely not me getting us lost) to Regent Street and Carnaby Street for MORE lights. It was a) lovely b) super-Christmassy and c) KNACKERING!

    It was an EXCELLENT way to end what had been a BLOODY GRATE Christmas break. The working week was going to be hard-pressed to match it!

    posted 7/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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    Festive Art Day ONE
    Christmas CHEZ NOUS wasn't all about watching telly, eating food, and holding on to the Washing Machine to stop it RATTLING TO BITS while we waited for someone to come and fix it. It was a LOT of all those things, but it also featured myself and The Notes In My Booklet being dead sophisticated and seeing lots of THE ART.

    We first ventured out on New Year's Eve to see some SHOWS what The Descriptions In My Pamphlet had spotted. We met Mr T Eveleigh in TIBITS and then went into the Tate Modern where we first of all we went into Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life which was AMAZING. It was a series of INSTALLATIONS, including a room where everyone cast multi-coloured shadows, a MIND-BLOWING dark room where tiny flashes of light illuminated a fountain so it looked like it was still, and best of all a long corridor full of coloured FOG where everyone got completely disorientated. I'm not really explaining it very well, so below is a video which explains it slightly differently, if not necessarily very well either:

    It was basically WONDERFUL. What I ESPECIALLY liked about it was that it felt FRIENDLY, as if the artist had made it specifically for PEOPLE to go and see e.g. most of the artworks were actually BETTER for having crowds of people there, rather than worse, and the Art Bollocks in the descriptions was kept to a minimum because you didn't really need to read anything to GET what was going on. All around us people were laughing with DELIGHT, kids were dashing around genuinely enjoying it, and we could all feel our BRANES expanding.

    After some light refreshments and Intellectual Discussions the three of us went to look at the Nam June Paik retrospective which was... not nearly as much fun. There were lots of IDEAS and the room with TVs nestling amongst foliage was quite nice, but the Art Bollocks was back, and it felt as if this was someone trying to show us how much cleverer he was than we were (and not particularly succeeding). One thing, for example, was a PIECE that claimed to be a film response to John Cage's 4' 33", but was just a reel of film with nothing on it, rather than the WHOLE UNIVERSE that is in the original. Still, it did enable The Lens Of My Camera to take the RATHER EXCELLENT picture below:


    We did have plans to go and look at even MORE Art, but by that point our BRANES were FULL so instead we walked across the Wobbly Bridge (which was FAB as usual) and then stomped to Liverpool Street station, where we had a pint in the Wetherspoons. As we sat there it gradually filled up with Young People who were VERY dressed up, getting some Pre-Drinks in before heading out to wherever they were going to celebrate New Year's Eve. We, however, said our farewells to Tim before heading home for some TEA and also BOOZE, for LO! There was more Art to come the next day, also the next year, also the next DECADE!

    posted 6/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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    What I Did On My Holidays
    Happy New Year one and all! I hope that 2020 is proving delightful for everyone so far - if nothing else, we are FINALLY back in an actual properly named decade AT LAST. There are people drawing salaries, driving cars and indeed eligible to VOTE who have never lived in one, so to them especially I say welcome to THE TWENTIES!

    Keen observers of this blog will note that it has been exceptionally quiet over the past few weeks, and this was because I have been away on HOLIDAY for much of it. I finished work on Friday 13 December and, after the events of the election the night before, I was DELIGHTED to leave the country a couple of days later to spend a BLOODY BRILLIANT nine nights in Tenerife with The Lounger By My Pool. I can HIGHLY recommend a pre-Christmas holiday, especially if you go somewhere where it is basically A Lovely Summer's Day pretty much EVERY day. We got into a lovely routine of sitting by the POOL during the morning, with BEER commencing at noon, then wandering down into town to GAZE at the sea, drink coffee, and do our shopping before heading home for SHOWERS, a trip to the BAR, and then TEA. We did go on one trip, to La Orotava (where we saw EVEN MORE Nativiy Scenes than we did last year - they bloody love their Nativity Scenes do the Tinerfinos) but otherwise it was a glorious week and a bit of sunshine, books, relaxation, high level intellectual discussion, and BEER (though not necessarily in that order).

    We did worry before we went whether nine nights would be too long, but it turned out to be EXCELLENT, not just because we got two more nights than normal, but because we KNEW about it in advance. My BRANE turn out to be naturally attuned to the standard seven day holiday, so every time I'd think e.g. "Oh no, we are nearly halfway through our holiday" I would have the DELIGHT of realising that NO WE WERE NOT!

    We'd also wondered whether it would be a good idea to travel home on Christmas Eve, but it turned out that YES IT WAS. For one thing, the plane was not quite as full on the return trip, so The Window By My Windowseat was able to ASK one of the stewards if we could move, and we got a WHOLE ROW to ourselves all the way back. The flight out had felt like it had taken FOREVER (partly because of headwinds, partly because we were in a metal tube with approx. 19 million people, 33 million of whom were TODDLERS) but on the way back it felt like we were in the EXECUTIVE FIRST CLASS. For another thing, it meant that we flew straight back into CHRISTMAS, rather than into WORK!

    Our first full day back in the UK was thus CHRISTMAS DAY ACTUAL, and saw us wandering to Leytonstone for CHURCH. I do like CHURCH on Christmas Day, especially at St Johns in E11 where they feature Extremely Serious Rituals like making the whole congregation shout "MERRY CHRISTMAS!" to make the Christmas tree lights come on. When we got home we had our diligently pre-planned Store Cupboard And Freezer Christmas Dinner which was GRATE because a) it was easy b) it was delicious c) it was diligently pre-planned and worked out PERFECTLY.

    All in all, it was a GRATE Christmas - I very much hope we do the same again next year!

    posted 3/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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