sure you were swift when the handsome greek boys dropped by with gifts

April seems to be getting away from me! It started excellently with our return to Rumpus, this time in our best intrepid adventurer gear (First Prize to E's pith helmet), where a couple of bands that I had seen at Glastonbury last year were playing: Tell Tale Tusk and later King Porter Stomp, I also saw a more chilled out gypsyish outfit late on in proceedings called The Debt Collective. A good time was had by all and I went out clubbing on the Saturday night as well, having decided to celebrate my birthday back at Feeling Gloomy, who were having a Depeche Mode night, one of N's favourite bands. It worked pretty well, with a wave of people just coming for some drinks beforehand, then a mostly different bunch coming from about 10pm, who all came downstairs to the club. It took a little while to fill up and I had the usual birthday experience of feeling like I didn't talk properly to anyone but dancing occurred and people seemed to enjoy themselves. I'd left the rest of the weekend pretty empty, figuring I'd need plenty of recovery time, but I did manage a walk out on the Heath with M on Sunday.

I went back to the Sam Wanamaker theatre on the Monday and watched Cymbeline with Cousin A: it wasn't quite as uncomfortable, having learnt some lessons from my first visit there, and the play was pretty entertaining, with an amusingly long explanatory sequence at the end as all the play's secrets are unfolded. The rest of the week was pretty quiet: my actual birthday was the Wednesday which I just spent at home and cooked some food for M and N.

On the Friday I headed down to Southampton and spent the weekend trawling around some of the usual suspects: R & family Friday night, then down to my parents Saturday daytime (we went for some pleasant little walks along the Milford coast and Keyhaven Marshes) before heading back up into town to The Dolphin in St Denys where the tail end of a cool little 'festival' the pub was having in its beer garden was taking place; I'd gathered together Jonny, Allen and a guy I'd got to know through one of my London friends who'd gone to Uni down there. Jonny let me crash over again and, after going out for breakfast, I headed back to Totton to hang out with Lee on Sunday before getting the train (rather later than planned thanks to some annoying timings) back up to London.

I went out to Chelmsford on Monday evening, then Tuesday saw Midnight Special (which wasn't that special) at a cinema tantalisingly close to home with M & A, only to head off to N's afterwards so I could get to see him post-show, although some pleasant late evening socialising and food with his housemates made it well worth it. I went to FNB on the Wednesday, managed a stroll though Hyde Park on my way home on Thursday (having been feeling like I was stuck inside through all the Spring sunshine), then went out to The Black Heart on Friday night: it was put on by Sisteray, but they weren't playing, instead it was Paradise Underground, along with Lighthouse and The Bulletproof Bomb, who I'd previously seen supporting Sisteray there.

The weekend was mostly given over to decorating (we've nearly finished!), although I did sneak away for the last Angels game in Egham on Saturday evening, which finished very satisfyingly with us trying to steer a middle way between the relentless machinery of heaven and the orchestrator of our woes, who was happy to destroy everything in her efforts to take it down.

The shelters have now been closed three weeks but work doesn't seem to be calming down yet, especially as we've been having to deal with re-absorbing the numbers from the second drop-in, which we open over the winter, and a couple of difficult situations on top of everything else. I had anysbryd and ksirafai over to dinner on Monday, went to see the show N was working on this week (Godspell, which was pretty hectic but enthusiastically performed) as a means of seeing him on Tuesday, was back at the Sam Wanamaker with A to see A Winter's Tale on Wednesday (a grim first half giving way to lots of bucolic comedy in the second) and yesterday had a lovely night at the Griffin catching up with barty and ditzy_pole.

Not much on this weekend: N & I went down to check out the Shakespeare Walk along the South Bank today: 37 screens were supposed to be showing 10 minute excerpts of all of his plays but lots of them weren't working when we wandered along, which at least made it a more manageable endeavour, even if some weren't especially audible. It was nice to see the chronology, though: I think I've got to see four more to catch 'em all! My only plan for Sunday is to pop down to the end of the Marathon as a couple of my colleagues are running to raise money for us.

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain

I was at the nightshelter on Monday last week, then Tuesday went to see Vukovi at the Barfly: unsurprisingly, the support were both on the heavier end of the scale. Chasing Cadence were impressive youngsters, very much of-a-type but done well (the lead singer had definitely perfected the rawwwk voice), whilst Empire's singer had a much more impressive range but their songs grabbed me less overall. Vukovi were good, with a more responsive crowd than last time: although it didn't really get completely into it until a chap slipped forwards, threw himself bodily into a few people and then slipped away again as carnage ensued. I wondered whether some bands have ringers they plant in crowds to get them going.

I was at The Garage the next night where Sisteray were doing one of their 'guerilla gigs': this usually means they announce at the last minute that they're going to open up for a band they would usually feature above on the bill. Their set was punchy and fun: I was going to get my fiver's worth and stick around for the other three bands too but the next one on (a keyboard and drums duo) were so bad that I figured I could go home and still have plenty of evening there instead.

N came over on Thursday night and then I launched off on my usual Easter Weekend trip to a muddy field for Empire. The new (last minute) site had the playing area quite a distance from the OOC camping field and given the site was already very muddy, no-one was allowed to drive their IC stuff onto the site, which is where we began to regret having gradually accumulated such an elaborate set-up. We were pretty exhausted by the time we'd lugged it all up there and erected everything, which didn't leave us much energy to throw ourselves into the Friday night game on a field we hadn't had the chance to explore in the daylight. A bunch of us did manage to make the most of the evening, although I woke up the next morning to the realisation that the zip no longer worked on my tent and the strong winds were making it pretty chilly in there. We were lucky with the battles on both Saturday and Sunday, which were fun and took place in the dry, but the weather was generally sub-optimal: there was only one really torrential downpour while I was there, so I never actually got wet, but the winds didn't really abate and having to constantly sure-up our awning and trudge through the mud got pretty tiresome. I was able to move into the South Wing of urizen's tent mansion for the Saturday night and Sunday daytime was actually pretty sunny but the promise of more wind and rain for all of Sunday night and Monday was enough to convince us to beat a retreat, so we packed up after lunch and headed home a day early. Everyone got a lot less done in game than usual but still had a good time: nice to see some old, familiar faces too, who didn't seem too put off by the weather!

M had also been away for Easter, so I made the most of my unexpected Monday at home, with the flat to myself, and the drop-in has been closed for this week so I've been mostly spending the week trying to catch up with stuff as much as possible, although I did make my last visit to the shelter, before it closes at the end of the week, on Tuesday evening. I went over to N's yesterday and his whole house was all in together for once, which was lovely: N cooked mac & cheese for the seven of us and we broke out the Cards Against Humanity.

stop making me older, start making me new

The Monday before last had Model Aeroplanes playing at the Barfly: they're a Scottish band I've been following since last year's Great Escape, they have a poppier, more uplifting sound than I usually go for but are pretty infectiously danceable: of the support Shiners were a straightforwardly guitar-heavy band, whilst Lisbon had more of an electronic element. Model Aeroplanes' singer was losing his voice and they perhaps weren't at their best but still nice to see them headlining shows at last.

Rather bigger in scale was seeing Fat White Family play on the Wednesday, down at the Coronet; first on were the gloriously named I, Ludicrous, who were kinda like a comedy version of The Fall, and then blaring dance music Paranoid London: there are situations where I may have enjoyed that kind of thing, as a support act was not one of them. "I'm glad he's looking more healthy," one FWF veteran was saying as we stumbled away from the gig, "But they did have more edge when he was on heroin." There may have been less on-stage antics, but the seething mass of sweaty flesh that constituted the crowd certainly had edge enough for me.

I went to a pretty weird event with N at some Google building near Old Street the next night: it was the launch of an app called ReVu, which helps you edit video footage, remove the fish-eye effect from GoPros etc., which comprised of a demo of the app, a talk from a futurologist and then a career overview from a sound artist called Scanner, whom we were mostly there to see; he performed some music for about 10 minutes at the end, which was really lovely, but not really worth the hours of talking we'd sat through first.

I was at the shelter on the Friday, then spent pretty much the whole weekend decorating, other than escaping to Kentish Town on Saturday night for one of N's old friends' 40th: we kinda huddled in the corner with the people we already knew but it was still fun.

I was supposed to be going to the BFI on Monday with Cousin A, but he was sick so I trekked to Ealing to pick up the tickets, then back in again to take N instead: we saw High Rise, which we'd read for Book Group and had been pretty faithfully translated onto the screen, and there was a Q&A with Ben Wheatley and some of the cast afterwards. Spanish seems to have sputtered to a halt for now and I ended up on a boat in Gallions' Reach on Tuesday night instead.

N & I were also celebrating our 4th anniversary this week, so, either side of going to the Shelter on Thursday, we went out for dinner around here on Wednesday and then on a gin-tasting at the City of London Distillery on Friday. It was suavely delivered, with an expert blend of history, science and drinking.

Saturday was mostly taken up with more decorating, but then I headed out to the gothic splendour of Oakley Court (further from Windsor than it looks on the map!) to celebrate anonymous_james' 40th with a very nice meal; it was good to see some familiar faces I don't really cross paths with anymore. N & I checked out the Wellcome Collection's rather unsubstantial exhibition on states of consciousness this morning and now I'm trying to just take it easy for the rest of the weekend.

not in a Roman tomb, or an Italian womb, but buried deep in English slime

The Saturday night in Manchester turned out to be less a party than a bit of a hanging out: it was just a few of us sitting around, even the usual bedroom dancing didn't happen; I think I would have benefitted from being spurred into action a bit more but it was still fun and for once I'd managed to book a train back home on the Sunday, meaning I wasn't rushing off too early and could spend some more time chilling out with Joe, although I couldn't quite face dealing with M's Mum and friends when I got in and skulked off to my room like a teenager.

I had a pretty standard week, Rad Spanish, the shelters, some evenings in with N, before escaping work early on Friday to meet up with K and another friend mid-afternoon at Gordon's Wine Bar to celebrate her birthday: N joined us for a bit, then wisely left us to it as we careened off around the Strand and Old Compton Street, picking up a random Mancunian from the Retro Bar on the way, then back to a hotel-room in Southwark to dance around to 90s tunes until the early hours.

We parted ways after some brunch, then I engaged in some productive domesticity before heading down to Leatherhead to watch the Godalming Operatic Society's production of The Grand Duke, one of Gilbert & Sullivan's most rarely performed works. The audience and ambience were much as you may expect but, although the singing by a couple of the men could have been stronger, the production values were actually pretty impressive. On Sunday a bunch of us met up for a tour of the Roman fort gate which it turns out exists locked in what is essentially the back office of a car park next to the Museum of London: it felt like the tour could have had more substance to it but it was definitely worth a fiver to see. I headed on to the pub for our Empire group's pre-season planning meeting then on from there to the shelter in the evening.

With M and C from Book Club, I took advantage of The Royal Court's £10 Mondays again to see Caryl Churchill's Escaped Alone, a shortish piece interspersing four old ladies sitting in a garden and nattering over cups of tea with lurid post-apocalyptic monologues, which was better than it may sound. On Tuesday I was at The Lexington for a consistently impressive line-up of oddball-duo Her's, confident, soulful singer Tom Grennan, chirpy band Motes and finally Yonaka, who I'd come to see, having caught them as support somewhere before: they were thrashier than I remember and no worse for it.

A straightforward and successful cooking session at FNB on Wednesday gave way to an exciting coda as some local chancers tried to extort £150 out of one of my fellow volunteers to return the keys he had lost; I did a lot of standing around guarding his bike in ill-lit New Cross backstreets whilst he went off to tense rendez-vous, but it all ended happily. I checked out the Whitechapel Art Gallery's late-opening Thursday with N, where their little exhibition on the Kindred of the Kibbold Kift captured my attention far more than any of the art, and was gigging again last night with ketchgirl: one-girl-and-guitar Charlotte Carpenter had a good voice but struggled to keep the crowd's attention, an issue that energetic purveyors of Bedfordshire bluegrass, CC Smugglers, did not have any problems with.

This weekend's going to be pretty uneventful: M and I are spending it starting to decorate the hall (the last room that needs doing!), although I mixed it up by going off to work at the shelter this evening.

the canals in Camden are filled with bottles tonight

N has been in Show Hell for the last few weeks so two Saturdays ago, having taken some stuff to the tip in Kentish Town, I took a surprisingly easy stroll over to Holloway, where he was camped out in the Pleasance Theatre and managed to spend some time with him on his lunch break. I wandered home through Camden then went out again in the evening for the Feeling Gloomy Bowie Night we had booked before his death and which had obviously taken on a whole different significance since. It was nice to see emilydongray and barty there, in addition to my usual clubbing compadres, and much dancing ensued.

I reunited with some of the same people out in Egham the next day for Daniel’s 1st Birthday: if the rest of his childhood birthdays are as well attended he’ll be doing well, although he may want more guests his own age at some point. On Monday I took advantage of the Royal Court’s £10 Tickets On The Day policy to go to see Yen in their upstairs space with Cousin A. It was a depiction of Feltham youth and really good: not exactly cheerful but often funny as well as visceral and powerful.

I was at the Shelter on Tuesday then had hysteria74 over for dinner the next evening, which was also pretty much the last time I got to hang out with our Temporary Housemate S before she headed back to Canada at the weekend.

On Thursday the 2016’s Gig Schedule got going in earnest: I popped over to Dingwalls to see Pretty Vicious (with decent support from Fronteers and, especially, Baby Strange). On Friday I went back to the Pleasance to watch one of the shows as an excuse to see N for a bit: alarmingly I was coinciding with a musical about cheerleaders, Bring It On, but it was actually well produced and pretty fun.

When I headed back home from his on Saturday, the flat was in chaos as M’s Mum and partner had descended and all kinds of DIY was going on, turning the place upside down, albeit in a good cause, so I wasn’t too sad to be heading back to Dalston in the evening to see Arrows of Love. I knew a couple of groups floating around, which was nice: T&A and friends, for whom the Shacklewell is their local, as well as A&co., who know the band. The supports both purported to be playing their first gigs: “and our last” according to first-on High Wasted Genes, although that hopefully won’t be the case for Lead Sister, who really impressed. The Arrows’ set was the most coherent I’ve seen them manage to deliver and afterwards we went back with some of them to a little warehouse party somewhere near Hackney Wick, complete with a box of wine bottles that A had bought. People were really friendly although I danced more than I socialised before an arduous trek back on early-morning buses to snatch a few hours’ sleep before the DIY started back up.

I made lunch for the workers then went up to Stoke Newington for tea with ex-housemate R, who was in town en route to her next adventure in China: we ended up in an atmospheric cellar wine-bar, although I think we may have been taken for a Valentinesing couple. Then I headed down from there to the Peckham Plex to watch Deadpool with lawrencegillies, who it’s exciting to have move into the city, rather than out of it.

I was at the Shelter on Monday this week, then Tuesday at the 100 Club to see Spring King (more energetic young indie rock, much as Pretty Vicious were) as well as catch Beach Baby and Fews, of whom the former were probably my favourite, in support. Then Wednesday what is rapidly becoming The Usual Crowd turned out for another Gaz Brookfield gig at The Monarch: of the two other solo acoustic guys supporting him, Trapper Schoepp had a good voice but sang heavily about Americana (his fondness for prairies and wagons prompting venta to speculate that Trapper may be his profession rather than his name) and Nick Parker was very funny.

I managed to fit in two of my many friends with February 18th birthdays this year, a bunch of us (mostly school friends) went out for dinner to Belgo with Ralph on the day itself and then yesterday I slipped away early to take the 6 ½ hour coach trip to Manchester to celebrate with Lovely Joe. We eschewed the usual Friday night out to hang out in his flat and have a 1am roast dinner and now I’m just waiting for the others to get up to start making preparations for tonight’s party.

where's the harm spending an evening manning the old barricades?

Work was the predominant flavour of the week post-N's gig, with an evening in the shelters on Thursday then heading into work on the Saturday too, as there's quite a bit of pressure to try to move our working guests on out of the shelter at the mo and that was the only really way to be able to sit down properly with them. I did meet up with N for some food out on Friday evening though, and then on Saturday we went to the BFI to see a showing of Todd Haynes' Poison which I've been on the look-out for for years. It's three interwoven, unrelated (but all Genet-inspired) stories in various pastichey styles; I quite enjoyed it, although N was less convinced. We headed from there up to Leytonstone for my ex T's boyfriend's birthday, which followed the usual formula of parties at their flat but it was good to catch up as it had been a while.

On the Sunday I headed out to Surrey to do family things: I had suggested teaming up with my cousin to visit our Granny on the same day that she had arranged to meet my brother and his family for lunch, so we had decided to combine them both. It was good to see them, as we'd not spent Xmas together, and visiting Granny mob-handed didn't go too badly: she didn't seem overwhelmed, as she had sometimes previously been by the little ones, although I think conversation would have been easier for her with a smaller number.

I was back at the shelter in the evening on Monday, then Tuesday evening was the first evening of a Rad Spanish group I'd heard about: a group of people from the activist community coming together to self-teach Spanish (inevitably in Hackney), there were around 8 of us, although I was the eldest by about a decade, and it was all pretty encouraging. Some were real beginners so it's been mainly going over old ground so far, but the main thing I want is conversation practise outside of the same things I use again and again at work. I took Wednesday off as TOIL and had a gloriously uneventful day and evening, catching up with home stuff, the we went out for a flat curry (plus N) on Thursday as our temporary flatmate is trying to eat it as much as possible while she is over from Canada, where (like Australia) they don't really do it well.

Last Friday we celebrated N's housemate's birthday, a nice contrast of cocktails and Mexican streetfood at the hipsterish bar attached to her Tottenham studio then pints and pool locked-in at the rough and ready Irish pub round the corner, N trekked down to Chelsea with me for brunch before I went into the office and then the shelter in the evening on Saturday. I'd pretty much forgotten until I left that I'd said I would go to Debbie, the wandering gayish night that only plays female-fronted acts, with our friend T over at the Shacklewell Arms. I headed over, drank my way through the lingering hangover and we danced as best we could in the crush of its packed-out back room. I was back in work on Sunday too (but only for a couple of hours before heading up to poke around the William Morris Gallery with N and D) and had to cancel my Monday night plans to head down to Roehampton to hand over a wodge of cash to a dodgy landlord, but at least it meant the extra hours had paid off.

We had Spanish again on Tuesday and I was back at FNB on Wednesday, we're probably just going to manage once a month until our co-ordinator has finished her finals but there were a couple of new volunteers and lots of people came to eat. I went to the shelter Thursday night but yesterday went to the National Gallery with a couple of Book Group folk to see Ali Smith do a talk related to How To Be Both, which we'd just read, and its relationship with all of the art in the novel. She seemed pretty lovely and the whole thing left time to head home and have a bit of an evening in as well.

we're not down with electronica, but we've all got a harmonica

I've realised that I edited out of history a visit to the British Museum in my last entry, N & I catching the Egyptian Religion After the Pharaohs exhibition between Xmas and NYE, which traced the shift from Roman to Christian to Islamic dominance, and the blurring between the various traditions, pretty effectively.

I started last week with a couple of evenings in, hanging out with our new flatmate, N came over on the Tuesday too. I was at the shelters on Wednesday and then a few of us went to see Hapgood at the Hampstead Theatre on Thursday evening: it's a Cold War era Stoppard, one that didn't do so well when it came out, although it seemed pretty much up to his usual calibre, exploring our capacity for duality via both spying and physics in typically wordy fashion.

On Friday N and I poked around the Kings Cross end of the London Lumiere light festival: it was pretty crowded, despite the cold, and I enjoyed the experience of lots of people out and about on the streets of London, sharing something, probably more than the installations themselves, some of which we couldn't really get near, and we warmed up with a curry rather than head into town to catch the rest. After another Stoke Newington brunch the next morning, I met up with D (who was briefly over from Switzerland) on the South Bank and it was lovely to catch up, even if he's having a bit of a tough time. I popped home for a couple of hours before heading out to Egham for our Angels game, then back in and up to Stamford Hill for FNB M's birthday at his fabulously hostel-style house there. It was definitely a young person's party, of the kind I rarely get the opportunity to go to these days, with giant cardboard structures, friendly strangers and hallway DJs, who were still going when I bowed out at 4.30 in the morning, traipsing back across a London being gently dusted with snow.

It mostly didn't seem to settle but when M and I went for a tramp around the Heath the following afternoon, there were some scattered clumps of white stuff, which had been dragged together to make a couple of very sorry looking snowmen here and there. We'd invited some people over for a Sunday roast in the evening but it turned out to be just the three of us plus N, which was their loss as it was definitely one of our better efforts.

I had Monday off to head up to Oxford to help out at the Iris 'Festival of Lost Cities' at the Classics Centre there, which largely involved trying to cut up food as quickly as the ravening hordes of school children were devouring it whilst dressed as a Roman soldier. I didn't make it to any of the talks this time (Bettany Hughes and Martha Kearney were among the dignitaries) but it all seemed to go really well.

Last night I was at the Fiddlers' Elbow, a gloriously scuzzy Camden gig-pub I hadn't encountered before, to see N make his muscial debut at Zero Wave an Experimental Music night our friend B runs. N was performing as a guest artist with B's duo Far Rainbow: his modular synths adding to their percussion and looped sounds for a single 20ish minute piece with a very urban feel, underscored by some quite sinister industrial sounds. It was definitely an emotional journey. Also on the bill were a Classical experimental collective, who had one piece I really liked, based on the Tube Map, which changed with each performance depending on which lines they took. The big draw was Peter Zinovieff who played four recent compositions through his laptop. We rather guiltily snuck out before the last act and bundled back to Tottenham with N's housemates in my first Uber.

he left the coast and overdosed on that London sound

I managed to get ill the day before NYE, which was unfortunate timing, throwing all my "Catch Up On All The Things" plans for the Xmas-New Year lull (at home and at work) into disarray, at one stage I also wasn't sure I would be up to travelling down to Devon and a Little People laden environment for NYE itself. In the end it's just as well I went, as others had bailed, so we were a smaller than expected house party in an idyllic stone millhouse right on the water's edge at Lee Bay. I was still not full of beans for most of the weekend but no-one else really seemed to be either and we mostly huddled in front of the fire as the rain sheeted down outside, enjoying having no greater demands on us than keeping the kids entertained with the occasional game of Banangrams and failing to do justice to the enormous quantity of cheese and pate that we were presented with. We did manage a walk one day, up and down along the stunningly craggy coast, to the lighthouse which looked out to Lundy Island, and it was a wonderfully pleasant way to spend at least the start of 2016 in an oasis of peace, before the return to London and the rush of life started up again.

The first week of the year was largely spent celebrating N's 40th: we made a return to Pub Quiz on the Tuesday, went out for a meal* with our respective Other Other Halves on Wednesday, the birthday itself; I had Book Group on Thursday (where my choice, How To Be Both, was largely well-received) followed by another meal as one of our member's imminent fatherhood is putting us on hold for the time being. I was at the shelter Friday evening then on Saturday we marked N's birthday in all the most appropriate ways: cake in the afternoon, cocktails at Scenario, a games-themed bar in Dalston, then brunch for a small kernel of survivors the next morning.

I had to be back home for Sunday afternoon as our guest for the month, S (an old friend who now lives in Canada), was arriving: she's over here to study for a few weeks and staying with us, so yesterday and tonight we've been hanging out with her, readjusting to living with a third person, temporarily at least.

*N had settled on a vegetarian restaurant to go to (making it all the remarkable that M agreed to come at all) only when we approached it we could see there seemed to be some big rally going on inside, with dozens of people standing around. A sign on the door informed us it that it was closed in order to launch: "2016: Year of the Pulse." We went to a Turkish place and ate lots of meat instead.

when I get stoned and sing all night long it's just a family tradition

Wow, two weeks into December already: I think I've seen all my bands for the year now, but I did sneak in a few this month. The Wednesday before last, I headed down to the O2 for a gig in their bowling alley (the Brooklyn Bowl), rather surreally, which started with the rather over-groomed and soulful Secret Company, I was there for Broken Hands, who continue to impress, then The Family Rain were headlining: a bit too straightforwardly rock for me but decent at it. I was rather closer to home the next night, at The Black Heart in Camden: two enthusiastic young supports set the tone, Lighthouse and a very energetic set from The Bulletproof Bomb, they were followed by the equally energetic Sisteray, Walthamstow boys fresh from making their views about the Syria vote known to Stella Creasey.

We've never gone in for big Christmas festivities at work but on Friday we followed our staff meeting with some tree decorating and a few drinks int he pub, which I had to scooch off from early to have dinner up in Dalston with T&A, which was very nice although festive drink-mixing made me pretty sleepy. I stayed over at N's but he had to head off pretty early on Saturday and I went back to spend a lazy day at home. We met up again in Greenwich the next day to go round the Pepys exhibition at the National Maritime Museum, it didn't really draw all that much out of the diaries that was a surprise (Great Fire, Restoration Theatre etc.) but some of the context of his life (Royal Society, Tangier colony) was pretty interesting and a lot of the quotes did make him sound very much like an erstwhile Boris, bumbling around the great institutions of the land without much of an idea of what they were all about. I headed from there to Chelsea to do some bucket-shaking for work, while carols were sung at Christmas shoppers, then was back at home for the rest of the day.

Last week I went to catch Cracker on one of their rare visits to the UK, thanks as ever to Professor W. I've scraped the name of the execrable rawwwk support act from my mind but luckily Cracker were fantastic. I love going to see all my laddish indie with its thrashy guitars but it is nice to see instruments being played really well every once in a while. Alternative country rock is not something that I would ever seek out, but it does make me wonder if I am seriously missing out or if it is just because they are so strongly associated with my late teens that I loved it so much.

Whilst I tend to rotate the evening I work at the Shelters, so all the venues and volunteers get to see me, I went back for my second Tuesday in a row, not a terrible thing as they definitely put on the best spread that night, and I even made it to FNB for the first time in an age on Wednesday, which seems to be thriving with the new generation of volunteers. N came over on Friday, we watched the Nick Cave film from a couple of years ago, which was pretty good but had some moments of horrible irony in the light of subsequent events.

On Friday I ventured out to a club called Rumpus for the first time, in honour of cream_horn's birthday. It was billed as Santas v. Pandas and most people had made some kind of fancy dress effort and the night made good use of the labyrinthine Electrowerkz, with three rooms of bands and DJs, some stalls, a courtyard and various random entertainments. It was a fun night with enough distractions and friendly crowds, a bit Planet Angel-y albeit with more live music and a slightly younger crowd. Most of the music that we saw had a strong 'gypsy'/Balkan influence with energetic sets from Buffo's Wake, Shambolique and special gallic guests Jabul Gorba. It's an all-night affair but I flagged about 5am and headed home, not the worst thing in the world as I had agreed to be in Petersfield by midday to meet up with K and our usual crowd for a Christmas celebration: it was pretty restrained, mostly eating and containing three excitable small children, but lovely to get together.

I hung around until after lunch on Sunday then went home for a couple of hours before going back out to the Shelters in the evening. I's feeling okay yesterday but by the evening it had all caught up with me and I crashed out early: luckily I'm in tonight as well.

All my friends are getting married, mortgages and pension plans

I wasn't on top form this week: Monday and Thursday were particularly hectic in the drop-in, I didn't manage to take my morning off and I came down with a cold, leaving me pretty worn down. I think Tuesday evening was probably the start of it, when I headed out to the Arrows of Love gig at The Lexington. They were preceded by Shark Dentist, who started off as though they were going to be pretty out there but formed into something a bit more identifiable as they went on, and WAW whose best song was sung by a different guy to the rest of the set. Arrows of Love are certainly never boring and after an indeterminate length of chaotic guitar fuzz, which may or may not have included their actual songs, some unexpected instrument smashing brought things to an end. I want to love them, especially having met them a little and found them lovely, but there wasn't quite enough energy in the room to make it fly.

I stayed for the shelter on Wednesday, then was already wiped up by the time I met up with M&E for the Frank Turner show at Alexandra Palace on Thursday. Will Varley was first on, who alternated whimsical comic songs which didn't quite work for me with some really good straightforward singer-songwriter stuff, then came Skinny Lister, who I guess were somewhere on the folk-punk spectrum and had plenty of energy. I perked up enough to enjoy the gig, Mr. Turner roaring through plenty of tunes old and new, although the interminable journey home didn't do me any favours.

I joined N over in De Beauvoir Town for an art exhibition linked in to the Hackney Queer Film Fest, which had some good pieces (some photos chronicling trans experience in particular) but mostly I wanted a bit more context to the endless representations of genitalia. N came back to mine for ease of heading up to Finchley the next morning for brunch with his cousins which was enjoyably rowdy, then I trekked down to Mottingham in SE London to say my goodbyes to Mogwai, the only cat I have every lived with, who is sadly not long for this world. She was certainly a shadow of her former elegance but responsive and seemed comfortable. In spite of the sad occasion, it was lovely to catch up with ex-housemate D and family before I headed home for a lazy evening in.

Today's also been pretty relaxed: I headed up to Didcot to see azrayus for the first time since his wedding and we had a nice afternoon board-gaming: Arctic Scavengers and Dead of Winter, in deference to the cold wind howling outside, as well as Machi Koro.