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|Saturday, March 4th, 2017|
|And as much as I love the West End part of London to the core
Joe's birthday has maintained its form while getting quieter year on year: we even only managed a short burst dancing around his bedroom on the party night two weeks ago, mostly it was just half a dozen of us sat around watching 90s music videos, although I still hadn't really slept by the time morning came round and I decided clearly the thing to do was walk from Chorlton into the centre of Manchester when the others finally crashed. Unsurprisingly, Sunday didn't feature much beyond the coach back to London.
I had Aberrant on Monday, the shelter Tuesday and on the Wednesday evening N, finally free of weeks of musicals, came over. I finished the week with gigs: down at Jamm
on Thursday, where Arrows of Love
were supporting The Wytches
, although first up were all-girl rockers Brutalistas
. Arrows gave one of their best sets and the enthusiastic young crowd responded well to them, I also got more into Wytches than the last time I'd seen them and had a nicely sociable night thanks to a friendly student and Nima. Then Friday I was at the Hoxton Bar and Kitchen
: they had Young Native
and female-fronted Berries
in support and were good, although could have done with more of a crowd.
Last weekend I got the train down to Wiltshire where K was celebrating her 40th at a gorgeous converted chapel in the equally picturesque Malmesbury, not that we saw much of it. Inevitably there was a Murder Mystery Dinner involved, although the original plan to do this in the afternoon, then go out for dinner and on to a pub soon devolved into drinking through the afternoon, doing half the Murder Mystery, getting distracted, half the people insisting we finish it in some kind of jumbled and chaotic fashion then stumbling across the road to the pub at about 10pm, although I took K back after about half an hour, the put-upon locals not responding well to her usual drunken sociability. We danced around the kitchen to all the usual songs until the others came back to hang out for a bit. I got to poke around the town a little before getting the (surprisingly swift) train home on Sunday, vegging out in the afternoon, then heading over to N's for an evening roast.
I had an evening in on Monday, M and I polishing off Westworld
, then had the resurrected Book Group, albeit a trois, Tuesday (all of us more or less having enjoyed A Tale of Two Cities
) before heading back to N's for pancakes with a rare Full House. I was at a work conference Wednesday and Thursday: Homelessness and Health, which was interesting but a bit above my pay-grade and, me being me, I didn't really chat to many people: good to hear Professor David Nutt speak and poke around Brompton Cemetery in the lunch breaks though. Wednesday evening I met up with ketchgirl
to see Travesties
in the West End, which was pure bliss: Freddie Fox in a Tom Stoppard may be some kind of 'die happy' moment. I went back to the office after the conference Thursday as there were some after-work drinks planned: N came along but it didn't go on very late and we went to the Stockpot before an interminable bus home. Last night I was at the shelter again, which at least kept me away from the flat that's once again been turned into DIY chaos by a visitation from M's Mum & her partner.
|Tuesday, February 21st, 2017|
|Written offline, Saturday morning
I had a nice day down in Southampton the Sunday before last, I met up with R & family for a walk in the New Forest and home-made rice pudding during the day, then hooked up with J and L to watch Gaz Brookfield
at Talking Heads in the evening. He was supported by Nick Parker
, who I’ve seen play with him before, and it finished early enough that I didn’t have to get the absolute last train back to London.
As at the shelter Monday night, then had a day off on Tuesday to head up to Oxford for this year’s Iris Project Festival, which was themed around Science Ancient & Modern: such luminaries as Robert Winston were speaking, although I was keeping the hordes at bay on the food stall with the whole time, so didn’t see much of it: there was a fabulously eccentric old professor at the drinks reception though, who had come with his telescope and habitually miaows down the phone to his wife.
Wednesday night our occasional school friend meet-up dinner had become a birthday dinner for Fiona, who brought some Outsiders along, that for once I think we managed not to scare off, then I had Aberrant the following evening. Friday night I indulged in the privilege of living where and when I do: having dinner and chilling out at home, finding out exactly what time a band I wanted to see (Desert Planes) were on at the Monarch (stage times are one of the things Facebook has been great for), popping into Camden just to see them then popping home again to chill out some more.
I had a pretty busy weekend, all of my plans involving M&E, who hopefully didn’t get too sick of me: we had a meet-up with the Empire group in town Saturday afternoon, in theory for planning but mostly just hanging out, then E and I had a brief interlude where I actually tried to spend some time with N, although this mostly just involved being in the background while he worked in various different locations; we headed up to Tottenham to reunite with M and brace Styx for an event called Gypsy Disco. We had taken their event times rather too literally and ended up being way too early: it was an endearingly shabby but rather cold warehouse space, although people were friendly around the braziers in the courtyard. We were mostly there for Jabul Gorba (who we’d seen before at Rumpus) but I may actually have preferred the other band playing, Crinkle Cuts, and their infectiously danceable funk/reggae/ska. I mostly missed the circus acts trying to get to the bar and once the bands were done, having got there so early, we didn’t really have the energy to stay on too late: luckily the night tube made getting home a breeze.
On Sunday I headed out to Egham for the hottest social date in town: Daniel’s 2nd Birthday. It was another good crowd at TBFKA The House of Plot and even the birthday boy throwing up in the middle of the lounge didn’t seem to dampen proceedings. I headed back into London with M&E: we seemed to be specialising in the North East as tonight’s gig was with the Walthamstow Folk Club, above Ye Olde Rose and Crown. I was a proper old school folk club, with members of the audience coming forward to sing fold standards at the start of each half before giving the floor to Grace Petrie, but much friendlier than my traumatising experience with the Islington one.
On Monday I went back to the Pleasance Theatre and watched N’s students perform Rent, which was great, although they did need to restart due to a microphone issue at one stage, and actually got to spend some time with him. Tuesday I had at home, Wednesday at the shelter, then Thursday I was supposed to see Yonaka but had come over all shivery and feverish: I had a lie down when I got in and never made it up again until the next morning. I was only working a half day on Friday so managed to make it through it then hopped on the bus up to Manchester for my annual attendance of Joe’s birthday, the end of an era as he’s finally moving out of his studenty Chorlton flat.
|Saturday, February 4th, 2017|
I felt slightly like I had betrayed myself when I came back from the wedding a couple of weekends ago: my friend M was having a party for his birthday at his brilliantly rickety place in Stoke Newington which was themed around bringing your awful teenage poetry and diaries to read to everyone (something I have in abundance); it was only about 10.30 when we got back into London but I felt quite tired and wasn't going to know anyone there except M and wasn't really drunk enough to push on through so I bailed out and went home. I disappointed myself on a number of levels: not only do I not get to see M very often these days but drunken late-night house-parties are one of the things I miss most about everyone growing up and the chance for me to go to one come around about twice per year at best, most of all though I felt like I'd offended against my self-image of someone who doesn't flake-out on things and worried that this was a sign that I was slowing down. And since I didn't get to read out any angsty teenage diary entries, you get to read an angsty journal entry instead ;-)
|Sunday, January 22nd, 2017|
|see them try to bring the hammer down
Last Sunday involved eggwhite
's exceedingly civilised Stag Do, which comprised of meeting up in town for lunch, perusing the Wellcome Collection (I went back to the Bedlam exhibition and got to watch some of the great video exhibits all the way through) and an Escape Room up the Caledonian Road: our group seemed to blitz its way through (once we'd got out of the cell we'd been locked in to start with), although I'm not sure made a particularly sterling contribution to it all. The others headed back out to Staines for a meal but, being a Sunday night, I lingered in London.
I stayed in Monday night (M and I have started on Westworld
), then went to see Love Labour's Lost
the next evening with ketchgirl
and others: it was pretty good, a fairly effective Edwardian setting, some really funny scenes and quite a bit of random singing. On Wednesday I was going to see some music at a cafe (MostArt
) in Stoke Newington with M&E, only we couldn't really cope with the set-up so went and hid in Scenario (where N popped in for a drink en route home) until it was time for the music. Tell Tale Tusk
were their own support, backing a guy called Kai Carter, who I'd previously seen playing with the Debt Collective
; the band themselves were in their four-piece folky format and enjoyable despite the slightly random set-up.
I was in Lewisham for Aberrant on Thursday then headed out to Feltham for dinner with molez
and their other halves on Friday (steak fondue!), then back out in Staines yesterday for eggwhite
& K's wedding itself (or the UK leg at least) which was lovely and perfectly suited to them: lego-building competitions instead of awkward discos a definite winner and also lovely to see a couple of lesser-spotted (one-time) Eghamites. Spending today at home, then heading to the shelters this evening.
|Friday, January 13th, 2017|
|He died on Christmas Day and looking back it's really quite profound
I'd taken the Friday off before New Year's Eve and we once again appropriated N's work van to drive out through the fog to Suffolk, where twelve us of (mostly school-friends), plus four children, were spending a few nights in a converted barn somewhere near Southwold. It was a lovely place, albeit rather open plan, meaning that several of the sleeping areas weren't partitioned off from the main area by such niceties as walls or a door; it wasn't too bad, although did make the sound of plague-bearers coughing in the night and children playing table-football early in the morning more audible than usual.
We all had a meal and settled in the first night, then on New Year's Eve itself ventured into Southworld for some general wandering around of the beach, church and town before being joined by another couple for a pretty epic Murder Mystery Dinner in the evening. We went for that most traditional of English New Year's Day walks, tramping through unremarkable fields in the drizzle to a pub, then back again, hung out playing games (some of the kids had recently been gifted Keys to the Kingdom which I got dragged into several interminable games of) and tried to make a dent on our enormous stockpile of leftovers. We tried to get out early on the Bank Holiday Monday to experience the delights of Lowestoft, which sadly seemed entirely lacking in delights: my high hopes for the signs indicating a "Historic High Street" dashed when the most historic thing about it appeared to be a Wimpy. We said our goodbyes on the blustery sea-front and drove home.
Tuesday was officially the end of the lovely festive period with the drop-in back in full swing, although I had Aberrant in the evening, which was a welcome return. I was at the shelter on Wednesday, then was very excited the next day to be finally making it to DIY Space for London, a gloriously ramshackle venue on a surprisingly badly connected industrial estate in Bermondsey, to see Onsind
, with cream_horn
and M&E. Support came from very DIYish Megaflora
, a one-woman act who I really liked some of; I'd heard Onsind's name a lot from my compadres but never properly checked them out: turns out they played awesome queer, political, acoustic folk-punk and were cutely self-deprecating Northerners, a great discovery.
|Wednesday, January 11th, 2017|
|We all know the words to that Pogues one
The week before Christmas was pretty busy: we watched Rogue One
in Walthamstow on the Monday, which was good fun and had dinner with N's cousin the next evening. I stayed in Wednesday evening to Make Christmas Happen and was at the shelter in the evening the next day. Friday was the annual December 23rd shindig in Winchester and I's able to slip away from work early for N to drive us down: we had a confluence of overseas visitors this year, with lesser-spotted friends pitching up from Canada, Fiji and Iraq. The usual suspects among us who were left awake after all the departures wandered into town, where we returned the next day for breakfast before driving back to London. I spent Christmas Evening making pastry for the first time in the cause of a Boxing Day dessert before heading over to N's.
I was spending Christmas in Bruce Grove with N's housemates for the first time, which turned out to be pretty lovely: no real pressures, the freedom to do stuff together then wander off and do things apart and obviously lots of food. We had a 10 year old with us for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, which engendered lots of Christmassy kids films but also playing with lego: she was whisked back to her Mum's after an enormous breakfast so N and I went for a wander around Tottenham, enjoying the weirdness of empty London streets (but not everything was closed: we ended up going shopping for tupperware, almost certainly a Christmas First) then started to prepare dinner for when the others reconvened, after which we hung out and played games.
On Boxing Day we drove up to my brother's, which was actually really nice (although could have done with a bit of activity between Enormous Lunch and Enormous Dinner): my nieces interacted really proactively with me, which is quite a change, I'm not sure whether because they're getting older or because I spent that time with them on their birthday.
We came back to London in the evening and on the 27th we went down early to Tate Modern to meet up with S&P, over from Canada for Xmas, who were going to stay at M & my place for a few days: we went straight up to the top and marvelled at London in the crisp December sunlight before trawling around a few galleries. We took P to Rough Trade then I returned with them to West Hampstead and hung out. I was back at work on the 28th & 29th, which was actually blissful as hardly anyone was around and I completely caught up on all my admin. I was at the shelter too the Wednesday evening and Thursday evening we all went out for a curry (often the thing that friends who live in other parts of the world say they miss the most about the UK) with S&P before they headed off; I nipped into Camden afterwards to have a couple of drinks with Joe, who was down for Christmas, as I was heading out of London for the New Year.
|Saturday, December 10th, 2016|
|Life goes on and round we go and words can kill these things I know
I went up to Walthamstow on the Tuesday after we got back from Somerset to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
with N, which was perfectly enjoyable. I was at the shelter Wednesday evening then N came over on Thursday.
Last weekend was one of those where all of the plans piled on top of one another:I hung around after work on Friday to head down to the Royal Court with some Book Group buddies to see The Children
, which I really liked: it's a three-hander about some nuclear scientists reuniting after a meltdown at the plant and combined some entertaining inter-personal drama with a thought-provoking exploration of inter-generational responsibility. Afterwards I popped back to the office to change into Rumpus-gear (the theme was Captains v. Bandits, I'm not entirely sure which I was going for) then headed up to Islington to join the usual crowd. I only saw a couple of bands this time (Buffo's Wake
, who I'd caught there before, plus Shamus Oblivion and the Megadeth Morrismen
, who in truth I don't remember all that much about) but there was a little selection of belly-dancing/juggling/gymnastics as well. I was reasonably sensible and left at 4, although my travel choices were less sensible and I still managed to spend an hour getting home.
I'd partly bailed early because my cousin was having a birthday lunch on Saturday, at a steak place in the West End, which I actually made it to in reasonably good shape. We retired to a nearby pub afterwards until it was time for me to head down to Brixton to re-unite with E to see The Levellers
. The crowd are definitely starting to look like they've seen better days but nothing has dimmed their enthusiasm, even if there wasn't quite such a solid mass of pogoing as I remember from bygone years. Gaz Brookfield
was opening for them, as he was the first time I saw him four years ago, and it transpired that that was the "London final show" he references in his Land Pirate's Life lyrics. Next up were Ferocious Dog
, who seemed a bit more disjointed than the last times I'd seen them, before the Levellers played Levelling the Land all the way through (they were marking 25 years since its release), followed by a bunch of other songs.
Sunday was a lot more chilled out, although I did head out to the Museum of London's Great Fire of London exhibition with N: I enjoyed it more than I expected (fearing it may just replicate things I'd seen from the recent Pepys exhibition) as they had lots of items of the day that gave a really good feel of how society looked at that time.
I was home Monday then went up to N's for a cheese-fest with his housemates old and new the next evening. I was supposed to be going out to a gig Wednesday but had an energy crash and didn't make it. I did make it to the Lexington on Thursday where Arrows of Love
were being supported by "dark psych" Southamptoners Melt Dunes
and post-punk heroes The Homosexuals
. The Arrows conjured a pretty coherent performance out of their usual chaos.
I was at the shelter last night and am just heading back to London from Oxford, having come up for an Iris Project Trustee Meeting today, so it's not felt very weekendy so far but was good to catch up with iruineverything
if nothing else!
|Monday, November 28th, 2016|
|As much as I love the West End part of London to the core . . .
I spent most of the weekend at home, two weeks ago, catching up on stuff and work and only venturing out in the evenings. On the Saturday it was to Nambucca for bands: first off The Trap
, who had a sneering appeal, then highly danceable Mancunians Dantevilles
; I was there for White Room
, who continue to impress, there was another band afterwards but I scooted off home. On Sunday evening I trekked up to Walthamstow to see I, Daniel Blake
: I wouldn't say it was the best written or acted thing I've even seen, the over-expositiony dialogue maybe particularly stood out because I'm so familiar with the processes it was portraying, but it did a good job of presenting the commonplace processes and situations, by which aspects of the welfare system dehumanise people and wear them down, in a fairly engaging way. It was pretty restrained in only presenting the everyday outrages too, rather than be tempted to portray some of the more extreme examples of institutional abuse that occur.
I went to Lewisham to roleplay Monday night, to the shelter on Tuesday, had my ex T and his partner over to dinner Wednesday, hung out with M's Mum and boyfriend, who had descended to inflict DIY on us, the next evening, then headed out to the Hoxton Bar & Grill on Friday night. I was in time to see Fizzy Blood
, who I've been following, and then stayed for Jpnsgrls
, touring Canadians who turned out to be a really good find, sardonic-lyriced rock delivered with hip-wiggling elan.
I spent the weekend mostly trying to avoid the chaos filling the flat: I headed out into Surrey on Saturday, had lunch with cousin H & family before we went to visit Granny, who was on pretty good form, blissfully unaware that her nursing home is closing down. They say they can't retain the staff to make it pay, which seems pretty weak given this is the Church of England not a private company, and we're all pretty worried about the effect the upheaval will have on her. I headed over to Egham afterwards, dropped in on urizen
and their new arrival, then proceeded to the Englefield Green Social Hall for out latest local LARP. On Sunday I poked about town with N: we checked out the board game exhibition at the Museum of Childhood, eventually found somewhere to have cake, saw The Debt Collective
(who I'd encountered at four in the morning one Rumpus) play some Sunday afternoon jazz in a pub called the Enterprise not far away, then meandered over to T&A's in Dalston for dinner.
Last week I had ketchgirl
over for dinner on Monday, back from what sounded like a magical time in Chicago, played Aberrant on Tuesday and headed to the Old Queen's Head on Wednesday for a trio of Brightonian bands: breathy-voiced duo Realms
, who had one song that made me think they were going to be amazing but the rest didn't quite sustain it, then Yonaka
, who really got the glitter-clouded crowd going. I was at the shelter Thursday night then headed over to N's on Friday for fondue.
We headed off early on Saturday, driving down to Glastonbury, which happened to be in the midst of its annual Frost Fair, lots of stalls and bands spreading themselves through the town centre for us to poke around. We were down to visit my friend L who lives near by with her family and exponentially increasing number of animals. They've started a smallholding and we went down in the evening to the friends whose land they use for a bonfire, mulled cider, pulled pork from a pig they had reared themselves and to hang out in the Anderson Shelter and corrugated iron Land Girls shed they have in their garden. The people were all lovely and we came back the next morning to help L with her daily routine, seeing to all the animals, before driving home after lunch.
|Saturday, November 12th, 2016|
|You're living for nothing now, I hope you're keeping some kind of record
Saturday before last was the annual Halloween Party at N's aka: David Boowie's Spook Oddity, as Bowie had been honoured as this year's theme. There were some pretty good efforts, more from his films than music (I went as Hunger Bowie) and pretty much the ususal suspects as guests, although M&E came too this year. Quite a few of us made it to brunch in Tottenham the next day, then I headed home to catch up on some work.
It's getting to the busy time of year and the new caseworkers started on Monday so I was in full on induction mode all week: it went pretty well but all the talking the first couple of days was pretty tiring. On Tuesday N & I had managed to find some common-gig-ground in the form of Teleman
, who were playing at the Kentish Town Forum. The core of the band used to in the more-guitary Pete & the Pirates, who I saw quite a bit, but their new incarnation is closer to N's preferred, electronic end of the spectrum. They were good though, although I remained unexcited by the dreamy Babeheaven
in support, there was also the unexpected pleasure of running into venta
& C up on the balcony where exhaustion had convinced us to settle.
S came over to see me on the Wednesday and we simply sat and chatted for a few hours. Then on Thursday I popped into Camden just to catch one mid-bill band (Paradise Underground
) at The Black Heart before heading home again. N & I went one of Fiona
's private-views, in a wonderfully dilapidated house in Lambeth (where the Palma Violets also rehearse apparently!); we headed up to the bar at N's housemate's studio in Tottenham afterwards but didn't stay long.
Last Saturday we headed out early to see David Bowie's art collection exhibited pre-sale at Sotheby's: mostly 20th Century British art, not my usual area, but still fascinating and impressive. We headed on out to Ealing afterwards for a long lunch at with Cousin A: it was great feeling no pressure to finish and be off by a particular time and it stretched pleasantly through the afternoon. I headed home for a bit then went back into town for Feeling Gloomy's Pulp celebration of 21 years since Different Class, which played plenty of alt indie classics between the Pulp. There was more art on Sunday when M, A and I re-convened for the Beyond Caravaggio
exhibition at the National: it was pleasant but we zipped round it fairly quickly, the few Caravaggios stood out markedly from his apparent imitators.
This week the shelters themselves opened so I stayed for the first night on Monday then headed up to Walthamstow to watch Dr. Strange
at the cinema Tuesday. I didn't intend to stay up for the election results but after checking my phone when I woke up at 2.30 and seeing that things weren't going well, I couldn't go back to sleep and spent the rest of the night compulsively refreshing. As such, I was not disappointed that roleplaying was cancelled on Wednesday and I managed to get earlyish nights both then and Thursday where I once again popped into Camden just to see one set (neo-grunge youngsters Subterranean Popular
at Proud) then home again.
It was fortunate that I had pre-existing plans to spend Friday night back in Kentish Town with some school friends, brought together by T being down from Sheffield, which took some of the edge off the week's second bombshell. We raised a toast to Leonard in the restaurant, then carried on drinking in a subterranean bar: I've mostly spent today home alone, doing not much at all while the hangover subsides. No more weeks like this, please.
|Saturday, October 29th, 2016|
|wake up to see your true emancipation is a fallacy
Last week we had our occasional KES crew meet-up on Tuesday at a pub in Paddington which was fun, although we fall so easily and naturally into the same old nonsense that we never really catch up with what everyone's been up to. The next night I went to see Tony Kushner's The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures
at the Hampstead Theatre which had Tamsin Greig in it and was okay: it had some nice moments and was trying to explore some Big Ideas but it was hard to get past the artificiality of the set-up. I had Aberrant on Thursday then popped out to Hoxton Friday night to see Marsicans
at the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen. The support bands were both solid: Shanghai Blues
, who seemed to have brought quite a crowd with them, and Chester-lads Idle Frets
but the poppy exuberance of their headlining fellow-northerners was hard to match.
N & I chained several small exhibitions around Bloomsbury Saturday daytime: a rather under-signposted and oddly curated affair on Utopias and Dystopias in various locations around the University of London Senate House (which had some interesting material in nonetheless), then two cool little exibitions in the British Museum on South-East Asian puppet theatre and damnatii memoriae in Roman coins and statues. We headed back to his and had a nice evening hanging out with his housemates. On Sunday I had the slightly random experience of being interviewed about homelessness live on Premier Gospel Radio, which was basically just a plug for the charity and seemed to go fine. I went on into the office afterwards to try to get on top of stuff before the shelters hit.
This week's been pretty gig-heavy: N came with me to see CC Smugglers
at the Courtyard Theatre in Hoxton, with pleasant enough support from Megan & the Common Threads
, on Tuesday. After an Aberrant interval, I saw Yak
at the Scala on Thursday, supported by Splashh
and then the dreamier Goat Girl
Then last night I managed to finesse two different events: the Spring King
gig was early in the evening to allow Koko to become a club venue afterwards, whilst just down the road at 229 This Feeling, who put on band/club nights, were celebrating their 10th birthday with a night that had the bands I wanted to see on quite late, as it was carrying on with DJs until the early hours. I got to the first gig in time to catch most of Get Inuit
who I also like, the next support were Kagoule
who had a less formulaic, edgier sound, then Spring King
themselves provided the predictable sweat-fest, much as Yak
the night before. I made it to the This Feeling bash in perfect time to see first White Room
and then Broken Hands
, two of my favourite bands of the moment, perform their psychedelic rock: the crowd were attentive but less interactive, it being a more general event, although a very friendly dude, who was clearly having a very good time, buddied up with me to make sure there was some dancing going on for the headliners. It was an unexpectedly sociable night in fact: one of the guys from Lighthouse
, who recognised me from their gigs, came over and said hi and I also ran into some friends of my gig-buddy J's. I slightly regret not hanging around more for the club night and cultivating their acquaintance further but I was pretty knackered by this stage and headed home.
|Sunday, August 28th, 2016|
|feel the heat of all the years you were never mine
As usual, the drop-in has been closed for August so it's been all pretty chilled at work and I've been walking in across Hyde Park, making the most of the sun and the opportunity to take back some of the hours I worked over in the winter, although we've already hit that 'getting ready for the shelters' period which is all pretty depressing as the month draws to a close.
I stayed over at N's last Friday and then went home early the next morning to do my domestic duty in time to head out in the afternoon to The Windmill in Brixton where a bunch of bands organised under the Weird Sin
moniker were playing, although I never really got a handle on the theme drawing them all together. It started with Mig21
, who had a punkish feel and some unique dance moves, then were The Pink Diamond Revue
, the day's most remarkable offering, who combined a mesmeric mix of electronic and guitar sounds with projections and a mannequin; I hadn't previously noticed Crack Foxes
were on the bill, who I'd actually seen before, riot grrls mostly playing covers, then (after the carefully rationed free BBQ) came Flash House
, who were the day's heaviest band, and the europunk chaos of Raw Fun
. Hands off Gretel
were the nominal reason for us being there, cream_horn
having seen them at Whitby, and did not disappoint, then came the testosterone-fuelled silliness of Kiwi lads The Cavemen
; there were a couple more bands due but we pretty much called it a day at that, although I ended up going on a random work-related mission to Willesden before heading home.
On the Sunday M, N and I rendez-voused on a train out to Wendover and we re-did a walk around the Vale of Aylesbury which M&I had done before, crossing the Chequers estate and popping in on the amazing C14 wall paintings in the church in Little Kimble, which was really nice, and then had R and his (relatively) new girlfriend over for dinner in the evening.
I went out to the Shacklewell Arms on Monday: Alexander Teller
was opening up the program but seemed to have brought the most vocal crowd with him and the support was deserved; Carnivals
were fine but never quite distinguished themselves from your standard four-blokes-in-a-band for me and Haus
were more modern and musically complex but not really my thing. I was there for White Room
's psychedelic rock, which topped the night off nicely.
On Tuesday I actually went out in West Hampstead itself, for some drinks with E who has moved over this way. I went over to N's on Wednesday and we had a really nice night out at The Beehive with his housemate D. I was local again on Thursday, seeing bands at The Good Ship in Kilburn, which is even closer than Camden for me. It was another full bill and I really enjoyed the grungey Subterranean Popular
, they were followed up by Daisy Punch
and the trippy Lead Sister
, who were the reason I was there, being (like White Room) a band I had seen and enjoyed as support previously. Ice Baths
finished it off but they probably left me the coldest.
I ended up going up to Hendon for some drinks with E again quite late on Friday: poking around the limited nightlife options as we crawled our way back to his new place in Colindale. Then yesterday N & I were back in the van heading South: we stopped of for elevenses with Rachel & family near Southampton and then for lunch with J&E in Brockenhurst, going for a pleasant amble around the village and having to lure a horse out of the village hall grounds with a trail of apples, before heading on to my parents for dinner. We were down there to help N's new(old) housemate move up from Bournemouth so we headed down to load up all her stuff this morning, after a bracing wander along Branksome Chine in typical English Seaside weather, and drove back up to London.
|Monday, August 15th, 2016|
I'd come home early from Plas Dinam so I could attend a Housing Benefit tribunal on the Friday, which turned out not to be like the other tribunals I have attended and actually involved having to present a case to a judge: it wasn't my finest hour but it turns out there wasn't much we could have done. N came over that evening and then after a day of pottering I went over to his Saturday evening for a BBQ after which I headed out with all of his housemate to Whirl Y Gig: a club we've had recommended to us a few times on our nights out. We were a bit surprised to discover that The Camden Centre, where it is now held, resembled nothing so much as a school assembly hall, although we did eventually discover a nice little chill out area behind the stage. It had a nice crowd but suffered a little from a lack of variety in comparison to other such nights, although once we had finally got into the music a good time was had by all.
Sunday was pretty much entirely given over to recovery and I was back up in Tottenham Tuesday night when we went out to The Beehive to say goodbye to his housemate S, who's moving back to Germany. The next night I had my first gig in ages back at the Black Heart in Camden: there were four bands up, metallers Snakes
started off then it was This Year's Ghost
and Fizzy Blood
, who were new to me but really good. I was there for Allusondrugs
, who I've been trying to catch again since last year's Great Escape and were endearing, energetic fun.
N came over Thursday and on Friday I went to Brixton to hang out with Joe, who was down from Manchester: I was back there the next afternoon for a BBQ to celebrate a friend of N's birthday, which turned into the most indulgent, gourmet BBQ I've been to with her boyfriend producing course after amazing course all through to the evening. I stayed at N's then went down to the British Museum the next day to see the Sunken Cities exhibition with ketchgirl
, which was really good: it focused very much on the mix of Greek and Egyptian culture but had some incredible, monumental pieces as well as an added excitement from so much of it having been newly discovered. It was a gorgeous day so I wandered home up through Regent's Park and Primrose Hill.
|Saturday, July 30th, 2016|
|I'm leaving but I don't know where to
That's all my holidays done now: I had a pretty quiet couple of weeks before going away to Wales. The first week I just caught X-Men: Apocalypse
before it disappeared from the cinemas with S on the Wednesday, popped down to Lewisham for the Aberrant game Thursday and went to some drinks for a friend of N's 40th on the Friday, then all I did at the weekend was head down into Surrey on the Saturday to visit my Granny, who seemed to be doing fine. We had another Aberrant session on the Tuesday night the next week but otherwise I was in (mostly catching up on GoT with M) until heading off on holiday on the Friday.
Our biennial 'Buckland House' holiday with the Egham folk had this time decamped to Plas Dinam, near Newtown in Wales. themadone
drove me down to what turned out to be a big Victorian country house with a lovely view of the hills, a billiard room, it's own little museum and a mysterious door to the vaults. Pretty much all the usual folk were there (although, just staying for one week again, I did miss some of them) and it followed the usual pattern of relaxation, games and outings during the day whilst we took turns to cook big communal meals in the evenings. I feel like I did more 'nothing' than usual, which is a something that takes some adjusting to but probably did me some good: M, E & I set out for a walk up the local hills on the Sunday (which turned out to be one of the drizzliest of days), we ended up wandering through a wind farm, which I didn't mind in itself, I find them quite beautiful, but it did mean that all the paths had been made accessible to vehicles so we never felt particularly away from civilisation and we manged to go slightly off course on the way back, angering a local in the process.
Monday was the only day I went away any distance, getting a life up to Chester to walk around its ancient walls and poke various historical remains, as well as the unusual town centre. Tuesday was my cooking day and chorizo stew and fudge brownie pudding for 17 went pretty smoothly. We ventured out on a simpler but sunnier walk on the Wednesday, to the local town of Caersws, and marked my last night by staying up to see the dawn. I headed home a day early (due to work) on the Thursday, winding my way back to London via 4 trains, which I hadn't thought would be a big difference but it did make the whole thing seem noticeably shorter than usual. Still, many games were played (Scythe, Eldritch Horror, Concept, Nevermore, Tigris & Euphrates, Super Rhino, Camel Up, Captain Park's Imaginary Polar Expedition) and it was a lovely week.
|Sunday, July 10th, 2016|
|I was thinking, let's forget about the car
The journey back from Glastonbury on the Monday took about as long as the one there but was made much more bearable by the fact that I slept through most of it: I was straight back to work the next day but easing myself in gently by going to a conference until the drop-in was safely closed and N came over in the evening. Our Aberrant game got fully underway on the Wednesday and then a few of us went to the National on Thursday to see The Threepenny Opera
, which was one of those things I've always heard of without really knowing anything about: I think I was the least whelmed of our group by the play, there was nothing wrong with it but nothing that really engaged me either, although the others all seemed to be more positive in their appreciation.
With M away, I spent a lot of the weekend just hanging out at home, although I did go down to the pro-EU march on Saturday and met up with my old friend S, who had come up from Winchester, at its terminus in Parliament Square. It was nice to share the frustration, no matter how little effect it may have had on the course of events: there was a definite sense it was a lot of 'ordinary' people too, not just the usual protest suspects. Lovely Joe had announced he was in town so in the evening I went down to Brixton for his friend S's birthday: there were only about 15 of us dancing around her bedroom but a full-on DJ with decks pumping out tunes all the way through until morning and I had really good night. M arrived back from her hols in the afternoon on Sunday and we eagerly started devouring Games of Thrones, having denied ourselves until it was purchasable.
After some off-site work in her vicinity, I dropped in on hysteria74
last Monday for dinner. It was really nice to hang out and chat without it having to be some big thing: something I should be doing with friends more. N came down and met me after work for a drink on Tuesday: I went in late on Wednesday and it was such a nice day that I walked down and through Hyde Park. I was supposed to be back there for a mini version of their BST gigs Thursday evening but it had relocated to Tufnell Park. First up were Dream Wife
: an enjoyable riot grrrl band, next came provocative punk from Shame
: I couldn't decide if (musically) I liked them or not but I definitely wanted to see them again. The first two bands had been in the Boston Music Rooms, then we moved up to the Dome for the bands I'd mainly come for, the cheerfully bouncy Magic Gang
and now familiar favourites Spring King
, both of whom drew an explosion of energy from the young crowd. Headlining were The Wytches
, who I didn't know and had a rockier sound: I didn't really get into them but it may just be that, age catching up on me, I had worn myself out.
Friday night was a BBQ at N's with quite a few housemates and friends, which was a really nice evening. I headed down the next morning to meet ketchgirl
at The British Museum for the Sicilian Exhibition: it was good, focusing on the Greek and Norman amongst the island's many periods of foreign dominance, although oddly made no mention of the great Athenian disaster there. I headed home for a bit then went out into Camden in the evening to see The Smith Street Band
(lyrical Aussie punk) at The Underworld; the support band, Apologies, I Have None
, were also good value, although possibly more for their banter than their music. Three of the four of us then headed down to Brixton for Rumpus, which had moved to Jamm for their Summer party: we're hoping it will move back as the smaller venue allowed for less of the wandering and characterful touches which have been such a feature of our Rumpuses. The bands were pretty good though: The Filthy Spectacular
were a slightly more goth take on the usual gyspsy/carnival/steampunk mash-up, Prinz Friedrich
a Northern Europe flavoured melange of waltzes and weirdness in German military dress and then good old Tankus the Henge
. We weren't really feeling the DJing this time around so left after the bands had finished. Today N & I went down to Peckham to visit C&M, who I hadn't seen for an age.
|Sunday, July 3rd, 2016|
|the sun arose revealing goosebumps on your arm
So we had survived to the start of the festival, which began with the sound of swearing from neighbouring tents as the Referendum result began to make itself known. I think it's safe to say that had Glastonbury been its own polling district, its results would have born a remarkable similarity to Gibraltar's, so it did cast an odd mood over proceedings. There seemed to be a collective decision, however, that while we stayed in our own little bubble we could pretend the rest of the world didn't exist and try to avoid accepting the painful reality until spat back out into it on Monday.( Glastonbury Details Part IICollapse )
|Saturday, July 2nd, 2016|
|so much went unsaid so we stared at clouds instead
Glastonbury Executive Summary: it was fun! I had an Actual Ticket this year and was camping with M & E but managed to meet up with pretty much everyone I planned to who was there. We didn't get rained on that much, but the occasional shower was just enough to make sure the pre-existing mud never dried out, which made trekking about the site pretty hard work. Every year that I go, I seem to spend less and less time at the main stages and I mainly spent the festival watching small, fun, energetic acts that I've seen before, which I had some regrets about: there was a whole other festival I could have had where I saw PJ Harvey, Sigur Ros, Rat Boy, Kurt Vile and Muse but I was mostly surprised that there weren't more bands playing that I knew, since I've made quite a bit of effort to keep up with 'new' bands this year. The atmosphere was great as usual, a sense of community which was particularly welcome in the wake of outside events, although I didn't have any standout 'magical moments' or encounters with strangers this year.( More Details Part ICollapse )
|Tuesday, June 21st, 2016|
|Hey June, why d'you have to come around so soon?
We were up in the Lake District for a week, having hired a cottage for 8 in Grasmere: the basic plan for the holiday was to walk up a hill every day and then cook an enormous meal every evening. A larger group meant people less enthusiastic about the vertical could do their own thing a couple of days, although we all stayed together for the first few days while H and baby were there. We were really lucky with the weather and I lived in shorts the whole week: there was only one day of rain, which we used to check out Grasmere's Wordsworth industry. Cousin A, N & myself headed into Keswick one evening to meet up with another cousin who lives there, his parents happened to be up as well so it turned into quite a gathering.
Mostly so I remember where I've been:( Here's a blow-by-blow accountCollapse )
A few hours after getting home, I headed out to Planet Angel with cream_horn
and some enthusiastic first-timers, now also up at Electrowerkz, which was a lot of fun, even if I did bail shortly after 3 in pursuit of other adventures. I spent most of Saturday recovering enough to head up to Nambucca to see some bands in the evening: Lighthouse
, The Shantics
, rocky Irish dudes Otherkin
and Baby Strange
. I met up with N to poke around some bits of the British Museum on Sunday but otherwise spent it at home.
I was back into work last week but it finally seems to have started quietening down. I went to the post-Orlando shooting Old Compton Street vigil on Monday night, which was an odd kind of affair: the street was totally jam-packed but when the appointed hour clicked round there were a couple of minutes of silence, then a couple of minutes of cheering and that was about it. I spent much longer trying to make my way to the other end of the street afterwards: it's not often I have much of a sense of 'my community' but this one time it did feel important to be there and among them.
I met up with S for the first time in an age on Tuesday and we went to see Captain America: Civil War
in Leicester Square, pretty much the only place it was still on. Thursday evening saw me back in Lewisham for the Aberrant game which is starting up: conveniently, I'd had to go to Woolwich for work in the afternoon, where I had all my prejudices confirmed by witnessing a fight within two minutes of exiting the station. N and I ate out in Seven Dials on Friday, then on Saturday I headed down to Havant to spend the day with K: a couple of her friends came over for a BBQ and we had a really nice evening hanging out. I got back into Waterloo just as N was hanging out on the South Bank on Sunday so we wandered along there before I headed home in time for ketchgirl
to come over for dinner; correspondingly, we were the dinner guests last night for my ex T over in Leytonstone. Glastonbury tomorrow so busy spending the evening packing waterproofs!
|Sunday, June 5th, 2016|
|I took a nightbus down to the park
We had a work event a few Thursdays ago to say thank you to all our volunteers, funders and other supporters: it was swankier than usual, at St. Columba's Church with posh canapes, and I did wonder whether it might elicit grumblings about whether it was the sort of thing a small charity should be spending money on but the staff had all turned out to help and it seemed to go really well.
On the Friday N and I ate at the last remaining Stockpot before cousin A drove us up to his folks' where we were staying the night before we all headed over to Wales the next day. Another cousin was over from Chicago with his family and so a convocation of the clan had been called: pretty much everyone was there, including one of my Mum's cousins who I've only really got to know as an adult but I really like. It was lovely and meant N has now been completely integrated into that side of the family, although it rushed by in a few hours without feeling like I'd properly spoken to anyone, before we started the long trip back to Oxfordshire, then Ealing, then home. I then didn't venture from my flat at all on Sunday, knowing it was going to be a while before I had the chance to spend some time at home again.
Monday night I ventured down to my old (now undergoing massive construction) haunts in SE London (via some very dubious travel choices) to meet up with people to plan some potential tabletopping, which is pretty exciting. Tuesday I was out at Dingwalls to see Yak
: I got there pretty late but still saw one support band, whose identity I have lost to the mists of time but I remember being a little more straightforwardly rocky than the chaos of screaming guitars, flailing limbs and a crowd-surfing frontman that followed. N came over on Wednesday and then I was back out for another lively gig on Thursday: Spring King
at the Scala, although the crowd were already full of energy for the two supports, Get Inuit
(who've been on my list to check out since last year's Great Escape and were really good) and the also impressive Magic Gang
I had Friday off to head up to Empire, which turned out to be a great event: dry weather, more and more familiar faces popping up, some fun battles, lots of stuff going on for those that like that sort of thing and some enjoyable evening carousing: songs around fires, an IC debauch, bars, old friends and invading strangers' camps to find somewhere to carry on drinking. We came back on the Monday and, despite my limited engagement with the plot that's out there, it didn't feel as much as though we had run out of things to do as it sometimes does on the 3-night events; it's just a shame that impending parenthood will keep some of our group away for a while.
I had three days back at work and in London before heading off on holiday for proper, which did involve some pretty hectic getting things done, especially for the former. I stayed at N's Tuesday night, spent an evening-in sorting out holiday stuff on Wednesday then, when I finally escaped work on Thursday, headed over to Hackney Wick to a warehouse space where Arrows of Love
were playing a show to be recorded for NTS Radio. It was all very Hackney (the girl filming it all with an enormous VHS camcorder was a particular highlight) but gloriously so and the support from The Primordial Soup
and the rockier Gang
were enjoyable entrees to the usual Arrows of Love chaos. I slipped away pretty much as soon as they were done but then made some epically bad transport decisions, ended up in the desolate wasteland of the Stratford Westfield and didn't get home until 2.15am, relieved that I was already on holiday.
|Sunday, May 8th, 2016|
|when at anchor we ride on the Portsmouth tide, we have plenty of time for play
Last Sunday was M's birthday and we seemed to successfully manage to fill it with things that make her happy: brunch, kitchenware for presents, art courtesy of the Delacroix: The Making of Modernism
exhibition at the National Gallery and then friends over for roast beef in the evening. I enjoyed the exhibition: it did focus a lot on his influence on later artists, so we had quite a lot of the impressionists and beyond thrown in, which did leave me feeling that it could have stood to have more actual Delacroix, a couple of the rooms only had one piece by him in them.
N had stayed over and we went off to a practically deserted Spitalfields and met up with Tammy for coffee at Rough Trade, but I otherwise had a Bank Holiday of home-stuff and catching up on some work. After work on Tuesday I got the train down to Portsmouth to have dinner with cryx
, whom it was lovely to see, before heading back to London again. Determined not to miss all of the hot weather being stuck in an office, I sat in Hyde Park and read for an hour and a half after work the next day and again on Friday evening. In between, I managed to enact a rather convoluted plan to go home to vote after work on Thursday, then immediately back into town to see The Maids
at the Trafalgar Studios with the Culture Club folk. It was very deliberately not played in a naturalistic way, which suited Genet's typically lurid subject matter but sometimes became a bit of a distraction; it didn't change my world but certainly provoked plenty of discussion.
Yesterday N & I went up to Birmingham to catch up with some school friends I'd not seen for a while: we wandered around the city centre, admiring some of the architectural developments, had afternoon tea and checked out some art: some Dan Flavin light installations at the lovely Ikon gallery and then a wander through the city's grand main gallery/museum, which mostly featured a large collection of Pre-Raphaelites and the Staffordshire Hoard of Mercian gold.
The train back to London handily deposited me not far from The Water Rats
where I was going to see some bands: they were all good, White Room
my favourite new discovery, although the more anthemic Judas
seemed to have the most adherents in the crowd, Clay
had a more electronic sound and were probably the least my-kind-of-thing; I was mostly there to see Sisteray
, who were on last and slightly suffered from the crowd having thinned out by then. A guy from another band I've been to see, who I've never spoken to but added me on Facebook recently, ended up sitting next to me at one point but, in an almost parodically English way, neither of us made any attempt to turn the online link into a meat-space one.
|Sunday, May 1st, 2016|
|it's fair to say the turbulence was kicking in
I went over to N's on Monday night, then had dinner chez ketchgirl
, to facilitate more sharing of graphic novels, the next evening. Since then it's mostly been music :-)
Wednesday started with a bit of art as N & I dropped in on one of Fiona
's private views, which was conveniently just round the corner from The Lexington, where I was going to see Beach Baby
. First up were Tones
, who were young, rocky and probably my favourite of the night, then came Babeheaven
who had an ethereal electro kinda sound and a lead singer who seemed effortlessly lovely; Beach Baby
were one of those bands I'd seen supporting someone and thought deserved further investigation, although for a lot of their set I couldn't really work out why I'd thought that as they seemed fairly MOR, not helped by a pretty moribund crowd (apart from one very drunk Frenchman), then right at the end they pulled out two or three really good songs, which I guess must have been what drew me to them last time.
On Thursday I was much more certain about the band I was going to see : Broken Hands
at Dingwalls. As with Tones the night before, I had a vague feeling I may have seen the first support, Tangerines
, before: what they played wasn't quite my thing, there was an Americana edge to it which felt a bit pastichey, but they nonetheless seemed very good at it. Dolomite Minor
were more up my street but Broken Hands
were definitely a cut above: they had filled the stage with enormous silver umbrellas, enhancing the ideas of dissociation and liminal states of consciousness that already exist in their music, and although they have some more average songs, as well as some real stand-outs, Dale has enough energy and stage presence to carry the crowd through.
On Friday I met up with TQS for a couple of post-work drinks, sitting out on a square in all that new development behind Kings X, before he hopped on the train back to Sheffield, then headed home for a bit before going out to Negative Creep at Nambucca, a rocky bar up on the Holloway Road I've wanted to check out for ages, with an Italian friend. It was billed as a grunge night, although it seemed to be all kinds of early 90s rock and alternative: it wasn't rammed but had a friendly crowd of regulars and there was a bit of dancing.
Yesterday N & I went to an afternoon gig, back at the Lexington: the Loud Women collective, whose event we'd really enjoyed before, were putting on a gig that was specifically parent-and-child friendly, so there was face-painting available, dancing competitions, swearing edited out of songs and some bands pared down their noise levels too. I'd been most keen to see Argonaut
, who had probably modified themselves the most, so I slightly regretted not having taken another recent opportunity to see them. The Wimmin's Institute
were very funny again and Crack Foxes
were the only band new to us, a rocky trio doing mostly covers (Hole, Elastica, Nirvana). Piney Gir
was headlining, although she slightly suffered from kids who had been there from near the start (they were mostly 2-6 year olds) having worn themselves out and needing to be taken home before she came on, although she remained her usual, perky self.