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.

(no subject)

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.

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.

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.

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 )

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 )

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!

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.

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.

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.