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Blog Archive: July 2022

B-Side Ahoy
Earlier in the week I sent details of the new album to John The Publisher, who very sensibly asked what the release date would be for the album AND SINGLES. I had planned to do some VIDEOS but wasn't thinking of Actual Singles (and by "Actual" I only mean "Actual Digital Things On Spotify" rather than anything physical). I asked John if there was any point, and he suggested it was a way of driving interest and getting people to pre-order UNITS, so I pencilled that into the Launch STRATEGY too.

This was all fine and dandy, and I know exactly which track is going to BE the aforesaid single, but a small yet persistent part of my BRANE kept saying "Well, if you're paying a tenner to put a SINGLE on Spotify, you might as well do a B-SIDE hadn't you? Eh? Don't you think?" The only trouble with this THORT was that I didn't actually HAVE any tracks i could use as a b-side. Initially I had vague ideas about keeping four songs OFF the album for later use, but it all worked really nicely as 14 tracks (and even then it's only 33 minutes long) so I ended up using THE LOT.

"Not a problem", I thought, "I shall just record another song. How hard can it be?" And the answer is: not really very hard at all! It's taken me a few months, all together, to record the album, but an awful lot of that time was spent learning how to do things - stuff like how MIDI works, or how to get decent COMPRESSION, or record tracks directly onto my computer, all took AGES to work out but now that I know how to do it is PEASY.

Also, I had a couple of songs that I liked that only ever appeared on Hibbetts Hoover (which was a bunch of demoes and suchlike given away to newsletter subscribers a few years ago) so I listened to those, picked the one I liked most (which also, ENTIRELY COINCIDENTALLY, was the one I had the chords already written down for), and started recording it.

Here, now, 48 hours later I have it pretty much half DONE. There's still VOCALS to do and some tinkering and MIXING, but then it'll be ready to upload to emubands and we're DONE. It's all rather lovely really, and it sounds QUITE NICE too! Making ROCK: it's PEASY!

posted 28/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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ROCK Admin Continues
I have been having a THRILLING time of it over the past few days, as ROCK ADMIN for the forthcoming new album has reached previously unattainable heights of excitement.

For LO! I have now uploaded THE LOT to Emubands, where it has been PROCESSED and prepared for distribution via All Streaming Services. Excitingly that means that, somewhere in the Emubands Corporate Structure, there is somebody other than ME who will be able to hear it... if they want to. WHICH THE SURELY WILL.

Doing that means I had to finalise a RELEASE DATE, which will be revealed along with the title in the newsletter on Friday. I've also booked AN ACTUAL GIG to mark the official LAUNCH, and will be on the lookout for more soon too.

In addition I have been doing further ESSENTIAL ADMIN in the shape of mixing RADIO EDITS for some of the songs (to ensure that I definitely get on KEN BRUCE) and INSTRUMENTALS. This latter is something I do at the behest of my lovely publishers, Wipeout Music, who I am also supplying with LYRICS and CODES and all sorts - that gets me onto various DATABASES of songs used by media types, and though LABORIOUS to fill in has resulted in one of our songs being used as background music on a Radio 4 show and ANOTHER being used as the theme tune for a cooking show on Radio Sheffield! I have also uploaded details of all the tracks to the PPL Database which, as anyone involved in the world of ROCK will tell you, is an UNFATHOMABLE JOY. This logs the MECHANICALS of all the tracks, which is something SO EXCITING that it would be unwise for me to discuss it now for fear of causing an outbreak of FAINTING.

On top of all THAT I have now completed the first VIDEO (which will probably be the SECOND video to actually be released) and am working on plans for at least THREE (3) more. I keep thinking "Maybe I should do a video for every song like DURAN DURAN and RIO" but then WISER parts of my brain reply "Don't do that, that would be a right pain in the wotsits".

As you can probably tell I am having a LOVELY time getting into all this again. I do enjoy the ADMIN part of the process, almost as much as the proper SHOWING OFF bit at the end. I have decided to go ALL IN on the "solo" aspect of the solo album and try to do as much as I can MYSELF, which means I'm going to have to wheel out my MEDIA SKILLZ soon and start hassling radio stations to play it, which is always fun. To be honest, I don't understand why your Professional Full-Time International Rock Stars don't do more of this - I mean, they haven't got proper jobs to do, so what else are they doing all day?

posted 26/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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A Graduand No More
Last Friday was a momentous day, for LO! it was my graduation ceremony, the point at which my PhD was fully totally completely DONE! Or, as it turned out, NEARLY done.

It was a gorgeous sunny day, even at the ungodly hour of 6am (IN THE MORNING!) which is when I had to get up in order to get to the pre-ceremony preparations. I did NOT go to ART COLLEGE in order to get up early, but I was prepared to make an exception here at the very end.

I thus left the flat bright and early to get the high speed to St Pancras and then the Thameslink to Blackfriars, which meant I got off the train at Blackfriars Bridge with its AMAZING view of That London. This was followed by a lovely walk along the river to The Royal Festival Hall, arriving with 15 minutes to spare before the building actually opened. All the advice said "You MUST arrive super-early" and even though I knew that this was unlikely to be the case I wanted to be sure I got there in time, and by the looks of the small crowd MILLING ABOUT I was not alone.

Once they let us in it all went very smoothly - I got my ticket, proceeded to the GOWNING area, and got GOWNED UP. I knew that people being awarded a PhD get a SPECIAL HAT, but I was not quite prepared for the SPECIAL GOWNS too, nor indeed the colours i.e. BRIGHT PINK AND PURPLE. I looked around and saw that I was currently the ONLY person wearing such vivid colours, as everyone else was in BORING black gowns with PEDESTRIAN mortar boards. I don't mind telling you that I felt PRETTY FLIPPING SPECIAL at this point, and you can see why BELOW:

me in my pink and purple robes

Even the HAT fitted properly, which is something that no hat in my LIFE has ever done before! I then proceeded towards the PHOTO STUDIO section to get my Official Photograph done - I know there is mixed opinion about the worth of doing these Official Photographs, but after six years of study I thought "SOD IT, I am going ALL IN" and so DID. It was all super efficient and I was all done and dusted within about ten minutes. I was Quite Impressed.

With that done I went to have a cup of coffee, and was soon joined by The Tassle On My Hat, who had not had much difficulty finding me, due to the aforesaid OUTFIT. Shortly after this we made our way to the auditorium, where I was surprised to find myself sitting right on the first row, right at the end nearest the door. "Hang on," I thought, "does this mean I'm going on first?" At this point a Nice Young Man who looked very much like TV's Gian Sammarco (i.e. who played Adrian Mole in the telly series and thus looked also very much like a young ME) came over and said "Are you ready to start the whole thing off?" It turned out that there were only TWO PhD students getting awards for this session, and as the other was my pal Dr T Yu-Kiener that meant that I was alphabetically in the lead. YIKES!

The ceremony began with everyone processioning in, including our esteemed Chancellor The Artist Grayson Perry in his ROBES (which I fear made mine look slightly LESS flashy) and various Professors, including mine and Tobias's supervisor Professor Roger Sabin, who gave us a big THUMBS UP as he went by. Next was the HONORARY FELLOWSHIP award which, to my GRATE delight, went to ACTUAL GLEN MATLOCK, who did a LOVELY speech, then we were rustled up and taken through a Secret Door to the backstage area. Something else was going on onstage while this happened (I later worked out it was conferring some Professorships) but I wasn't paying attention. I was too busy worrying about what to do as I marched across the stage - should I do something HILARIOUS? Or be very SERIOUS? In theory I was setting the tone for EVERYBODY who followed so the responsibility weighed heavy, but in the end I just stomped on and WAVED THE HECK out of the area. It seemed to go OK, but you can judge for yourself below!

After all that I skipped merrily along a corridor to collect my certificate and thus finally bring all proceedings to a halt. I was full of excitement and delight, so was just a little bit miffed to find out that they had FORGOTTEN my certificate! They'd forgotten Tobias's too - apparently PhD Certificates get printed somewhere else, and either hadn't been done or had been left behind. This was SOMEWHAT annoying, but not entirely out of the blue - in the nicest possible way, of all the many educational establishments I have worked and/or studied at, I would rank UAL at around #7 for Efficiency.

After a bit of a grumble we went back to our seats for the rest of the ceremony. The nice thing about going first was that it meant our bit was DONE, but it also meant that we had the whole rest of it to get through. We were both VETERANS of this sort of thing though, so we very much paced our Gentle Clapping and got through it without injury.

When it was all over we went to sort out the certificate issue with an EXTREMELY apologetic lady (she's going to get them posted to us) and then went in search of our other halfs. We found Mrs Tobias and then got an Instant Message from my own Steps On My Stairs saying she'd discovered FREE BUBBLY on the fifth floor, so we all made our way there where we had a LOVELY time. We grabbed Roger and there was much LARFS and FIZZ and it all felt rather wonderful. As the most colourful people there, a number of people came over and asked a) to have a photograph with us and b) what the robes were all about, and we were VERY happy to oblige!

Roger went off to have his Official Luncheon with Glen Matlock, the Yu-Kieners headed home, and we soaked in the atmosphere a bit more. The View Of My Vista had been particularly moved by it all, loving all the speeches (I must say they had been good - especially the Student Representatives) and the general feeling of everybody all being VERY proud of each other. "It's been one of the best days of my life," she said. I personally loved the fact that these were all Central St Martins students who had spent the past three years being SUPER DISRUPTORS but were now just the same as any bunch of students, hugging all the pals they'd spent the past three years with and then being taken out for a Slap Up Feed by parents.

I went to hand my gowns in and something WEIRD happened - I spotted Ian From Poly Poor. "Ian?" I said, and LO! it was him - the person who had been PRESIDENT of the Leicester Polytechnic Poor Theatre Company (aka the Drama Society) in my first year. He used to be a BBC News reporter a few years ago, and I would regularly point at him on telly and say "He was President Of Poly Poor two years before I was" and now here he was in real life. He was there for the graduation of one of his children, and though I suspect he did not have a clue who I was we shook hands and it was all very jolly, but also WEIRD. He'd been there right at the very start of my UNIVERSITY EDUCATION, and now here he was at the other end!

Gowns were handed in and then we wandered off, first in search of coffee, then LUNCH. We went to Mildred's Covent Garden, which was very nice indeed, and then I went and spent money in a) Milfoy's (WHISKY) and b) Gosh (COMICS) before we headed home, tired but very happy. It had been a lovely day!

posted 21/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Mixing Complete (Probably)
This week I reached an important milestone in the recording of my forthcoming solo album: I finished the mixing! I think!

I say "I think" because I'm now in the process of listening to it a few more times to make absolutely sure, but so far it is sounding PRETTY GOOD. This is a relief as, at various points, I have veered wildly between thinking it is ALL amazing or ALL bloody awful, and there has been a LOT of mixing, re-mixing, re-recording, and especially Learning About Different Plug-Ins along the way before reaching this point.

The biggest surprise at this juncture was working out the ORDER. Usually this takes FOREVER, with about 17,000,000 different permutations tried, but this time it was PEASY. Once I'd worked out what should go first and what should go last everything else filled itself in. I recorded 14 tracks and had originally considered leaving a couple off, but when I did the aforesaid order it all seemed to work SO easily with THE LOT that that's how I left it.

There's still a LONG way to go before it's ready for release (which I'm currently thinking will be in October), including getting it onto the streaming services, sorting out the publicity, doing some videos, and WHO KNOWS maybe even doing some ACTUAL GIGS. I'm going to be unveiling the Exciting Title in the newsletter , which will be out at the end of next week, and then after that there will hopefully be a swelling tide of NEWS FACTS. All I need to do now is try and remember how this all works. Do I still send a tape to the Melody Maker, for instance, or have they gone all modern and switched to DAT?

All this and more to be sorted out over the next few weeks, but for now: watch out, THE MAN, there is ROCK on the way!

posted 20/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Records And Books
On Saturday I headed into London town for some CULTURE. It began with a trip to Coal Drops Yard in Kings Cross for the Independent Label market. Over the past few years I've read about this happening and wanted to go but never actually got round to it, so was Quite Excited about finally making it this time. I arrived to find everything in full swing, with lots of people (mostly people who looked a LOT like ME, to be honest) mooching around various stalls, some of which featured BEER. I got myself a DELICIOUS pint of QED Session Pale from London Beer Lab (it was ACE) and then set off for a stroll round.

I had come prepared to splash CA$H on lots of fun records, but soon discovered a tiny flaw in this plan: I had no idea who any of the bands WERE, except for a tiny number whose records I already had. It is a FINE old state of affairs - what are these bands THINKING of, when they are unknown to a hep young rocker like what I am? I mean, I listen to Greatest Hits Radio every week and I'm sure I've been to almost several gigs in the past three years, so surely they should be getting through to a core market like me?

I did spot a copy of the new Prolapse single out in the wild though, and also found Mr J Jervis on a stall for a quick chat, so all was not lost. And, as I said, the beer was BRILLIANT.

It was a GORGEOUS sunny day so I set off on foot for my next port of call, in ISLINGTON. I stomped off along the canal and arrived quite quickly at the ANGEL end of Islington, but then was reminded that it is a HUGE place and a massive stomp to the HIGHBURY end where I was going. Also, it is WEIRD because Islington makes almost no sense whatsoever, and somehow obliterates my sense of direction so that I always arrive from completely the opposite direction to the one I thought I was coming from.

Still, I got to The Hen & Chickens in good time and got myself a PINT... which was entirely the opposite of my ealier pint i.e. DISGUSTING. It was so awful that I had to be Very Brave Indeed and take it back, and got a much nicer pint of lager instead. PHEW!

With that drama complete it was soon time for the ACTUAL drama, which was Book Talk Book Talk Book feat. Ben Moor and Joanna Neary. It was the last show I needed to complete my Ben Moor Collection, and it was worth waiting for as it was BRILLO. It was very much in the same MODE as Ben's solo shows i.e. with nested stories referring to each other, lots of GOOD WORDS, and multiple sub-plots and recurring themes. Also it was v.funny and both ACTORS were GRATE, to the extent that everybody stuck around for a bit too long at the end, unsure if it had really finished or not. I think it had, but I might need to go again to check.

With that I set off home, only to find that my train back to Stratford had been cancelled "due to weather", according to the sign in the station. It was a small hitch in what had otherwise been a DELIGHTFUL day of CULTURE!

posted 19/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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In The Meerkat Family Stand
Last week a Major Life Event occurred for me. After years of dreaming, hoping, and thinking it would wonderful if it could ever happen, one magical day, finally it has: for LO! my Peterborough United Season Ticket has arrived in the post!

It is a lifelong ambition that has, to be honest, come slightly sooner than expected. For many years I have promised myself that, come the day that I lay down my TOURING TROUSERS, I would replace Going To Different Towns And Shouting In A Pub For Thirty Minutes with Going To Different Pubs In The Same Town And Shouting In A Football Stadium, but I always thought this would be somewhere in the distant future when I had RETIRED. However, over the past couple of years what was once a MIGHTY TORRENT of GIGS has reduced itself to a BABBLING BROOK, and I felt that the time was right to finally take the plunge.

This decision has been helped along hugely by the agreement of Mr P Myland that he would move HIS season ticket so we could sit together - for the past few years, whenever I've gone to The Football, he has GALLANTLY made the trip into Peterborough City Centre midweek to sort out our tickets so we could sit together, so this will at least save him the trouble of that. I am hugely appreciative of it as a THING though, it is not something what one does lightly, and we did spend quite a while last season LOOKING at where to sit in The Family Stand for best a) view b) access to the loo c) distance from possible loonies.

My excitement was only DOUBLED however when I received my ticket and saw that the aforesaid Family Stand has been RENAMED, and is henceforth to be known as "The Meerkat Family Stand". I assume this is some DEAL that has been done with Compare The Market and am fervently PRAYING that it's going to involve a new MASCOT. We hardly have ANY mascots at the moment - just Mr Posh, his daughter Miss Posh, Peter Burrows (a rabbit), Mick George (a builder) and PB (another builder). A few years ago we also had The Giant Letter 'A' (a giant letter 'A') and Mattressman (a mattress) so it's all felt a bit deserted lately. Last time I went there was A PARADE OF DINOSAURS (NB actual ones, not the Directors) so I have high hopes that we are entering a new era when the stadium will be FULL of Delightful Characters. And also Barry Fry.

It all kicks off for me in a few weeks with our first home game, against MORECAMBE. If I tell you that the prospect of seeing us play MORECAMBE is filling me with excitement, you can perhaps understand how excited I am about it in general - this is going to be GRATE!

posted 11/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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RIP Andy Wright
People in ROCK of my a) inclination b) vintage have been stunned this week to hear the awful news that Andy Wright has passed away. Andy used to run The Princess Charlotte in Leicester during the 90s and 2000s, and as well as running the actual pub bit he was also responsible for booking the bands... and CRIKEY what bands they were.

People often go on about all the really famous bands that used to play at the Charlotte, and it is extremely true that he booked pretty much ALL of the bands who would go on to become big in Britpop and beyond. The Charlotte became a staple of the so-called Indie Toilet Circuit (and, let's be honest, along with The Hull Adelphi it was one of the main reasons it was given that name!) and EVERYBODY came and played there, which was AMAZING if you happened to live in Leicester at the time. We used to spend many many happy evenings sitting in the front bar pretending not to notice when people who either WERE incredibly famous or would very soon go ON to be so wandered through looking for the way to the stage.

More than that though, he gave a stage to the huge number of local bands who grew up around it, and there was a MASSIVE local scene that would shuttle between the Charlotte and the Mag most nights, before going on to The Mud Club just between or, if feeling adventurous, the Fan Club/Sector 5 a few streets away. Gigs happened every night, and whoever he was booking Andy would always put local bands on as support. He also used to do Bank Holidy all-dayers when he'd get LOADS of local bands to come and play, and we'd all spend the day getting utterly plastered, fed on his trademark Veggie Chilli, dispensed from a big bowl on the bar.

It remains one of the places I personally have played the most, and was the site of MANY incidents which have since become Favoured Anecdotes, including Zodiac Mindwarp And The Fire Escape, The Voon Reunion Gig, Tim Stopping A Fight At Razzle Club, Nigel Blackwell Doing An Encore Despite Phil The Soundman Switching The PA Off, The Band Posh Not Enjoying Remarks About Barry Fry, Voonlapse, and The Reason We Didn't Get Paid For A Half Man Half Biscuit Gig.

I would like to close by performing this last anecdote for you, as an example of the ACTUALLY LEGENDARY way that Andy dealt with local bands i.e. helpful, encouraging, but not in a way that besmirched the purity of the relationship by actually paying you if he could help it. Way back at the turn of the century, when The Validators were just starting out, I BEGGED him for AGES to let us support HMHB and he eventually agreed, promising us an actual FEE if enough people came in. The gig was RAMMED so, at the end of the evening, I approached him expecting a hearty congratulation and a wodge of CA$H.

"I can't give you anything," he said. "There weren't enough people in."

"But the room was packed!" I, not unreasonably, replied.

"Yes, but they were all very fat."

All I could do was salute his cheek and retire defeated. He was an excellent human who did a huge amount for the bands of Leicester, and he will be very very much missed - RIP Andy!

posted 7/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Pop At The Lock
After getting home late on Friday night I had to do a super swift turnaround and get the train from Euston to Crewe, in preparation for me and The Validators playing at Pop At The Lock in Middlewich. I was met at the station by The Pattisons, and we ZOOMED off to the Premier Inn where we checked in, met up with Tom, and headed off to ROCK. We were only at 80% capacity as Frankie is Not Very Well at the moment, and he was MUCH missed throughout the day.

We got to the pub and instantly bumped into several THOUSAND (approx) old chums of the INDIETRACKS persuasion, for LO! it was very much like a mini-version of that. There were PALS, there were BANDS, and instead of trains there was a CANAL. It was a lovely atmosphere that continued all day!

We played at 6pm, and did THIS:
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • Can We Be Friends?
  • Have A Drink With Us (Drink Doch Eine Met)
  • My Grandad Is Nuts
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • Good Cooking
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • We Did It Anyway
  • Easily Impressed
  • The first half was a bit shakey, but we settled in and I think the second half was PRETTY GOOD. My very most favourite bit was doing It Only Works Because You're here, which sounded FAB - well, it did to me anyway, you can judge for yourself BELOW:

    Afterwards we agreed that it would have been MUCH easier with Frankie around to GLUE us together, but otherwise we didn't do too badly. There was some CHAT, and it turned out that quite a few people there had a) never seen us before b) liked what they saw! I am always surprised when people see us live for the first time and LIKE us, possibly because my BRANE is still stuck in Gigs Of The Early 2000s when sound systems were AWFUL and we'd just sound like a right old racket. The sound on Saturday was BRILLIANT, which I feel allowed the delicate NUANCES of our outporings get across properly hem hem.

    We stuck around for the whole day, having some chips, drinking QUITE A LOT of beer, and watching bands - I must admit I WELLED UP a bit when The Just Joans did "What Do We Do Now?" - and it was a remarkably JOLLY 60% of The Validators who staggered to the car with a Significantly More Sober Tiger to go home. We had had a LOVELY time, and like pretty much everyone else who went we really really hope the organisers do it again!

    posted 6/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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    Dun Laoghaire And How To Pronounce It
    Last week I had my first trip out of the country for approx 100 years, as I went to Dun Laoghaire in Ireland for this year's International Graphic Novels And Comics Conference. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: it was dead good!

    I flew to Dublin Airport from London City, which was DELIGHTFUL, then got the BUS into Dublin Actual, with a bus driver who was firstly ARSEY and then REALLY ARSEY when I asked to get off at an earlier stop. He did not like it AT ALL and refused to help me get my bag, then got ARSEY-IST at my lack of professional experience unloading suitcases. I would have felt bad about the whole bag business if he hadn't been such an ARSEY TWIT to begin with!

    I then went to get a DART to Dun Laoghaire and it is a Good Thing that they have ticket machines as I would have spent ages trying to get a ticket to "Dun Low-g-Hair" when it is actually pronounced "Dun Leary". I've been saying "Dun Low-g-Hair" for MONTHS without a clue where it was - I did wonder why people in other countries do INSIST on such spellings ... then remembered i spent about 14 years living in Leicester.

    The DART was the least DART-like transport ever, but was quite nice as it reminded me of one of the rattly old trains at Indietracks. Some 12 year old YOUTHS glared at me from the platform at one point, but from then on everyone I met was LOVELY. I got to Dun Laoghaire, checked into my hotel, and started as I meant to carry on by going straight to the PUB.

    It was WEIRD to see everyone, as it's been three years since we last had an in-person comics conference, but it soon got into the usual GROOVE. For the two main evenings of the conference proper everyone went to a very nice pub called The Lighthouse which had a wide range of beer and also Vegan burgers, which meant that's where I had my tea! There were new people and old people, but it all smushed into the usual EXTREMELY good-natured camaraderie that these events have. Comics Studies really IS an extremely friendly field!

    The conference itself was really good too. There was much discussion of the high quality of the TALKS as a reflection of how Comics Studies is growing and becoming A THING e.g. there were NO talks where people from other fields turn up and say "Have you ever read Watchmen? Let me tell you what happens" or similar, as there have occasionally been in the past. ALSO all the talks were highly relevant to the theme of ETHICS, and there were lots of SUPER INTERESTING THORTS to be had.

    I did my presentation on the last day, which went pretty well, and I was then a bit sad to have to ZOOM OFF to get home. I chose NOT to go back the same way as I'd come, instead getting a coach direct to the airport, which worked out really well. Everyone had been worried about flights home because the news was full of plans to get the ARMY in to sort out "CHAOS" at the airport, but actually it was all DELIGHTFUL. I learnt a LOT, not least how to pronounce "Dun Laoghaire"!

    posted 5/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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