Tuesday, December 06, 2005

house-hunting high and low

december 6th

Current level of conviction in own genius: 7.5
Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 30 mins
Hair day: rather weighty and lacking in zest. am considering adventurous colour like a few slices of fuschia pink (am sure that'll go down a scream at school)

Phew. Currently counting down the resolutely-crawling hours until end of term, which is still several light years away, and stuffed to the gizzards with nativity plays and carol-singing to accompany, parties and assembly performances, all complete with fawning parents cooing over their babies' crowning moments in the spotlight. Amidst that am starting hefty flatsearch, what with Andy and I moving up east. We are curently mulling over two wildly different properties, an a) super-cute bijou basement flat in Stepney which'll allow us to enjoy cosy posho living and b) a preposterously large, drafty, tatty-round-the-edges 2-bed with not one but TWO utterly soundproof cellars which we could transform into a studio-cum-rehearsal
-cum-pottery-installation-room and still have room for the extensive poetry library upstairs. Argh. Either way, shall be leaving the beery, shouty, weed-reeking bosom of Brixton and the deep south for a while, with its handily near venues such as the Academy, the Telegraph (where we boogied to great rock-rap live act Shorty at the Campaign Against Arms Trade party on Sat)and the Dogstar (where we sighed to acousticy guitar-soothes on Sun) a mere skip and jump away. There is, however, compensation in the form of the mulleted Shoho and its countless pubs/bars/clubs/coffee-houses/boho art lounge galleriesjust a casual, over-swaggering stroll down the road...

In creative news, have had a couple of very positive rejections (ah, I'm a regular Pollyanna) from publishers giving me other names to send genius football book proposal to. I have been helping kids' co. theatre rites audition for singers, involving hilarious role plays which has revealed me to be comic master of the stage. juice had a kick-ass gig in Dartington and have now, most hopping-excitedly, bagged a gig at the lovely Cargo in Shoreditch next May. Ultra-cool fame breathily beckons once more...

peace out x

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Kerry's Student Card Is Finally Out Of Date, Aged 27

november 8th

Current level of conviction in own genius (out of 10): 6
Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: None, too busy teaching small annoying squirming things
Hair day: Currently brown with few remains of goldish highlights... quite au naturel pour moi. But shall prob not be too long before I can resist the urge to murder with cheapo blonde hair dye.

The good news is that the PhD is IN, baby. Trained it up to the land of cobbles to hand it in, with some light feelings of frazzlement at 5 years of occasional hard work suddenly being boxed up and deposited in impatient hands of stern lady in half-moon specs. So that's over with, at least until I am viva-ed up by cool composer Gavin Bryars and (hopefully) bowed down before as new doctor-of-music-type. Which'll be nice. No more cheapo student tickets to footy matches and things though, alas.

Not much other news to report, really. Too busy/financially-underendowed to launch into crazy world of gigging and theatre-going etc. School is hard work, occasionally rewarding but mostly would much rather be wafting about at home with mugs of tea and an aura of extreme artiness than toiling away to make lessons cool and groovy fun by storyboarding The Simpsons' theme tune or studying Arrested Development lyrics and writing our own raps before simply being reduced to Person Who Stands At Front of Room And Tries To Shut Children Up. There are occasional moments of hilarity, like the news of my hair colour change spreading like wildfire among the amazed 6-year olds, or a boy asking me quietly, during rehearsals for his nativity musical, whether this story was real or not. This being a C of E school (albeit one with plenty of Muslim kids), I had to say yes very quickly and pop him back in his place. Elsewhere, I am trying to encourage myself to oil wheels for Kerry Self-Promotion Bandwagon (choral music, poppier demos, football book, juice, oh, anything really) and doing very occasional juice stuff, like performing a lunchtime concert today to 7 (count 'em!) people. Ah, fame beckons, I can smell it...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

get in

november 8th

Current levels of conviction in own genius: 7
Amount of creative activity achiveived in last 24 hours: 0
Hair Day: Greasy unwashed hair befitting sickly pale invalid

Gagh. Bit ill with fatigue-making bug most probably caught from pesky germ-riddled kids at school. Have been using time stapled under sweaty duvet to do half-hearted PhD work and, more excitingly, complete proposal for girl-who-loves-football book, with the 'hilarious' provisional title of Fever Bitch. Oh yes. It's meant that I've been sinking slowly back into the unglamorous world of Coca-Cola Championship League 2 (oh, it's soooo silly, Division 3 sounds so much more salt-of-the-earth and much less ITV), and following the fortunes of my blue-beloveds, Wycombe Wanderers. And by jove, if the sagging form of recent years hasn't gone and taken an upturn: yesterday we wrestled the top spot from Grimsby's slippery grasp and are currently, along with Chelsea, the only unbeaten team in professional football. Get in!!!

Have been very gig-less of late, though did take a chance on seeing The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players (the self-proclaimed 'only indie-vaudeville cult Americana conceptual rock-slideshow act in town') at Bloomsbury UCL the other week. They're an intruiging trio, comprising skinny stylistically over-stuttering, wordy dad, plumper Daphne-in-Scooby-Doo-a-like mom and punky, hair-bunched 11-year old daughter on drums. They go round car boot sales collecting boxes of family slides which seem to capture middle America just so (it's amazing how many pictures were of huge plates of meat), and then create daft, squeaky rock songs around various sequences. Whilst it was completely unique and often very very witty, it somehow lacked a little substance for me; maybe I just wanted more slides of 1960s barbecues...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

primary colours

sept 13th

Current level of conviction in own genius (out of 10): 7
Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 3
Hair day: Captain of Team Lacklustre

Things I have been doing:
1) Getting to grips with new full-time employment....primary school is ok: grappling with dribbling three-year olds who tell me they've forgotten their make-up today and start some serious bottom-lip trembling if I raise my voice above a whisper, to the boisterous, 6ft tall top year who will be a handful; weirder are the Stepford Wives-esque staff, who are very keen to talk about Weight Watchers and Supernanny on Channel 4 and who are all a bit tense and scary. They make me - a happily-bounding soul in the right company - rather meek and bowed of head. Shall just get on with it I guess. At the other end of the scale is Junior Trinity, where I've now got a full day (shall miss Final Score EVERY SATURDAY CURSES!!!) of teaching 10-17 year-old clever clogs, including one lad who's got 10 times as many compositional accolades to his name as I have. Eeek. So, with BRIT School piano teaching about to be added into the mix, I am truly Loud-Voiced-Folded-Arms-Teacher-Kerry by day...
2) Which is why instead of completeing PhD work as I really should be doing if I had a scrap of sense, I am getting stuck into the idea of becoming the female Nick Hornby and writing a book about football, my love of Wycombe Wanderers mingled with autobiographical details and social comments on girls and footy. Have been inspired by boyfriend's publishing know-how and general encouragement...
3) Got mildly interested in the cricket rather too late... Andy has been attempting to explain to me the riddles of the game, from LBWs (which I keep getting confused with the rather more girly acronyms LBDs and VPLs) and bales to the pseudo-religious 'offering the batsmen the light' and I was just starting to feel involved. It helps that this is a sport which stops for tea, a sentiment I can't fail to admire, as well as one played with a gentlemanly tip of the hat and shake of hand rather than my preferred sport's face-spitting and torrents of potty-mouthed abuse, but dang! Couldn't they have gone on any longer?!
4) Making plum jam - our Brixton garden has sprouted forth with fruit, our plum tree raining merrily down after months of me squinting up at small hard green fruits and wondering what they were. Have been so inundated I've been giving them away to all and sundry in order to avoid breaking my record of 10 in a day - but now the jam experiment is bubbling darkly on the stove...
5) Oxford University Press are publishing another choral piece of mine in January - hurrah! That'll be another 60p in royalties a year then...

Thursday, September 01, 2005

scot free

Had a few days' escapade up in my favourite part of the world, the West Highlands, last week with my happy-camping partner-in-crime Andy. I benefited from a clean sharp shot of Scottish air, a good bit of muddy tramping around and a ridiculous amount of food. High(land)lights included:

1) The sleeper train: almost the most exciting prospect of them all, Andy and I couldn't stop breathlessly telling people that we were going from London on a TRAIN! On which you SLEEP! And wake up in INVERNESS! In reality, we had a hilariously spartan and tartan micro-booth and the unevenly lurching/rattling/shuddering motion of the train gave us about 2 hours' sleep each. Still, we lorded it up in first class with a full dinner and woke up in another dimension, rolling past glitteringly glamorous lochs and vast mountains up the spine of Scotland to doughty Inverness.

2) The Great Glen and Glens Garry and Shiel, which offered up view after preposterously grandiose view of hills as poetically craggy as Ted Hughes, sliced through with bright silver diamonds of water. I couldn't help humming the Lord of the Rings theme tune a few times - I swear I saw a few dwarves/preening elves/swarthy kings racing over the slopes...

3) Skye. Oh, just Skye. It was super-lovely, even if the weather did have severe multiple personality disorder and opened the heavens on us before soothing us with sun and then unceremoniously firing rounds of rain at us again before we'd had time to recover. Its name means the 'Cloud Island' but I'll think of it as the 'Rainbow Island', for we were blessed with singing arcs almost every hour: from glossy double rainbows to lagoon-coloured ones to single rainbows painted twice over.

4) Gastronomical Skye: we stayed near the capital, Portree, for two nights, and managed to ingest haggis, local mussels and venison and steak and fish, washed down with pricey Scotches which led to us developing our whiskyish terminology, faux-critiques involving the words 'peaty' and 'oily' and 'hints of lemongrass'. Ho ho.

5) Arty Skye: Whilst obviously naturally stunning, it was nice to fall upon a few galleries showing varying qualities of contemporary art. This ranged from the slightly rubbish (nice photos sadly bedecked with titles like 'heavenly splendour' and 'haunted boughs') to the cool and cutting-edge (lovely abstract exhibitions by An Tuirrean, prompting fusty comments in visitor book like 'If they can't paint properly, they should get a REAL job!!') to the all-out crazy and audacious (the NVA's 6-week installation, The Storr: a 2-mile midnight trek to the jutting stone of the Old Man of Storr, complete with light installations, live Gaelic wailings and recorded poetry - which so sadly we couldn't afford). Good to see that even in the remotest backwaters, there are very groovy artistic happenings!

Oh, I could go on.... and on.... the seal boat tour was BRILL, buttering and re-buttering Loch Dunvegan and inching up to lazily-lolling, mottled-brown seals; camping under Ben Nevis and amidst Glen Coe; shuddering at the chavvy horridness of Fort William and Glasgow.... all wonderful, if very cold indeed!

And back to the real world.... after 2 years of blissfully free, cleansingly invigorating creativity, I'm back to practically full-time teaching, which started today at the primary school and will pick up at Junior Trinity and the BRIT School in the next two weeks. And my PhD is sooooooo behind it's just silly! We may bid a softly weeping farewell to crazily creative, dreaming and sparky Kerry whilst we greet LOUD-TEACHER-VOICED, preparation-hounded Miss Andrew. Sob!

Friday, August 19, 2005

rock on, contemporary music

august 19th

Current level of conviction in own genius (out of 10): 7
Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: imparting much creative knowledge, complete with madly-enthused hand-waving
Hair day: bit sweaty

Coming to the end of my sojourn in Epsom, which has felt like its own little micro-planet – am going to have to get out of the cycle of three cooked meals on the dot (just as well - cooked breakfasts, obscure vegetable/bread bakes, soapy mousse and highly-sugared coffee are turning me into a right bloater) and a strict timetable of work and play amongst the coiffured lawns and creaky pipes…have had to log on to the Guardian website for my daily injection of current events (very sad about Mo Mowlam, lots of crazy plane crashings making me never want to set foot in an air terminal, need to absorb more about Gaza etc).

But it’s been great here, with intense tutoring sessions balanced by hard-drinking evenings shouting at the table football men for being so regimentally undisciplined whilst yelling lustily to the Kaiser Chiefs. My students have really been most impressive in creative output: tomorrow is recording day, and there will be 20 substantial compositions to perform, including quirky tangos, slightly pastoral cheese, a superb WW2-themed battle piece that keeps threatening to lapse into the ‘Casualty’ theme, a nod to Glass-y minimalism and some extremely nuanced avant-garde works. No surprise that our oldest students have breezed through their A-Levels and are off to York and Cambridge. Clever and charming kids.

Elsewhere, the younger kids have been writing shorter pieces but having much fun with improvisation sessions, as demonstrated in their concert tonight. We had abstract pieces based on Kandinksy involving Bee Gees discos and war dances, others earnestly depicting nuclear war’s effects on forests, and most impressively, a group’s response to a few scenes from Metropolis!!! Not only that, but it was more effective and affecting than the hammer dulcimer/Murnau South Bank gig of a weeks back. Really inspiring and inspired stuff!!!! It makes me enthused about the idea of getting 30 10-year-olds to improvise handheld percussion soundtracks to surrealist silent movies and making my Junior Trinity students write music for juice in response to abstract expressionist paintings etc!!! Am rather dreading the heavy teaching schedule, but must just remember weeks like this and how much these kids have got out of it.

At the other end of the scale, the most fun I had today was co-ordinating the 3-part vocals (and hula-hula swaying) to our version of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’, complete with 6 guitarists and samba drumming. Proper music, I say… ho ho.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

the invention of sound, kerry style

august 17th

Current level of conviction in own genius (out of 10): 7
Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: ooo! Quite a lot!
Hair day: bit woo, bit waaay

Am amidst a week’s work as an assistant composer on spnm’s Sound Inventors residency, whilst working deep into the night waxing lyrical about my last 5 years work for my PhD write-up…

Whilst we’re based at Epsom College, a undulatingly-lawned mecca of posho education (cricket pavilion? colt field? 3 farms? indoor rifle range? I ask you!) in deepest Surrey, the kids have come from far and wide, all in the name of spending a week working with professional players and coming up with a finished opus to take away on CD. I’m working with the head honcho and droll genius-teacher/composer Alisdair Nicholson with the top group, a motley selection of teenagers; these include several wan, flaxen-haired boys who look like they’d capsize if you as much as breathed on them, some über-confident choral scholar types who like to invent composite words such as ‘chordality’ in order to sound brainy and super-eyelinered girls who like to flirt with any male within firing range. But to a fault they’re all studious, musically literate and rather lovely to tutor.

It initially felt all very 1st-year-at-uni, what with being deposited in our spartan single-bedded rooms, attempting to make friends in that slightly panicked way, and being fed shedloads of stodge every meal time. There are about some very hardened professional musicians here, all indefatigable players but they all make me feel very studenty and idiotically young ... still, have been happy to paint the town red (ok, a mild shade of dusky pink) with the younger, funkier types, experiencing the chavvy delights of Epsom pubs, which included an al fresco blow job in the adjacent garden (cheered on by punters) and a lady drunkenly toasting her upcomnig divorce and showed off her arm-long tattoo: a phoenix rising from the ashes of her wedding bouquet with the name of her dog*, lost in the separation, inscripted at the bottom. Tasty.

Had a trial by fire yesterday having pluckily agreed to deliver a 5-10-minute vocal exercise in the whole school’s singing session – after hurriedly making something up the day before, I had to get up in front of 100 kids and 20 professional players and get them to improvise a vocal soundworld based on the phonetic breakdown of their first names. Agh! Heck, guess it went ok, and I’m proud that I was able to bounce about with confidence with all these faces looking rather quizzically at me, but the actual product was a slightly turgid mess and I’m left feeling that I either semi-pulled off an inventive vocal coup or made a complete arse of myself. Who knows….

However, also had a very good play of my hastily-composed piece for the awkward, potentially dirgy ensemble of oboe, bassoon, horn, viola and double bass; had a slightly frosty rehearsal two weeks ago but a much more successful reading today, revealing me not only to be (as we all know) a vocal composer of some genius but also a nifty orchestrator with a line in well-controlled, richly-timbred chamber music. Hurrah! (exit stage left, blowing own trumpet...)

* the dog's name was Spud. Touch of class.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

keep very cla'ham

august 9th

Current level of conviction in own genius: 6.5
Amount of creative activity acheived in last 24 hours: depends what you mean by creative - i slept in very creatively this morning
Hair day: fair to middling

Managed through top mate to bag cheapo tickets to Ben & Jerry's Summer Sundae on Clapham Common, all in the name of raising money for the Clapham Bandstand and revive the art of dancing a gentle foxtrot to the merry burblings of a septuagenarian band or something. Actually, seemed more like a whopping plug for said USA duo's cheerily-packaged iced confectionaries, given the encouragement to try as many flavours as possible in order to win a year's supply and buy cow-spotted rugs etc. The name was dropped like a lead balloon every introduction by the hyper- irritating, Nickolodeon-Wack-Summer-Picnic-aspiring presenter, who tried in vain to stimulate the lolling masses with shouts of 'Y'ALLRIGHHHHT CLAPHAAAAAAAM!!!!!!!' and weak attempts to get the Pimms-quaffing, oversized-shades-wearing Claphamites to do Mexican waves. Stil, for a tasty 5 quid we got some sunshine and some live music in the form of:
1) Yeti - formed by ex-Libertines bassist, 5-piece dullards attempting breezy summery indie pop a la Byrds/Beach Boys/Dodgy but just sounding like a half-decent 6th form band.
2) British Sea Power - highly fashionable, highly now art-rockers, slightly leaden set enlivened by appearance of 9ft bear who terrorised the musicians into battling him with their guitars.
3) Alabama 3 - highly unfashionable, highly 90s global trance/country hillbilly conglomerate, much more entertaining if only due to songs about Johnny Cash and plucking your 3rd eye out for Jesus, and for the addition of two kids playing harmonica and a very un-Bez-like member who stood, proudly pot-bellied and pint in hand at the edge of the stage, robustly singing along.

On the Kerry-musical-news front, have once and for all completed my new demo, now lovingly adorned with groovy spiderweb photo, and will now send off to lots of cool little labels like fat cat and one little indian before selling out and signing my life away to V2 hurrah! Really, I'm chained to my laptop doing hand-cramping and exceptionally snore-inducing PhD editing (light at end of tunnel being that I will be able to introduce myself, Tom Baker-like, as 'The Doctor'), doing some occasional madrigal-busking with juice in Covent Garden (fa la la la la la zzzzzzzzz) and knocking up new funding/gig/agent ideas with the trio. So much to do, so little time!!!!!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

boogaloo, euphoric gay house & drum'n'bass

august 2nd

Current level of conviction in own genius (out of 10): 6.5
Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 0
Hair day: short and sweet after barginous Saks Academy cut last week - bought unimpressive hair clay unfortunately

Had, for 27-occasionally-going-on-63-what-with-my-cream-tea-fetish-and-all moi, a highly active dancetastic weekend. It started by joining galpals at the Lady Luck Club (after fighting past the hellish zoo which is Piccadilly Circus on a Friday night), where we found ourselves woefully underdressed amidst the '30s-'50s-attired throng. Reflecting the ace mixture of blues, boogaloo, swing, mambo and rock'n'roll, we were surrounded by spats-sporting gangsters, girls with glam little-black-backless-numbers with pillbox hats jauntily perched, teddy boys and busty ladies with 50s-style tattoos threatening to take over their limbs etc etc. There was also a sweet old man making a hopeless attempt at red-leathered transvestitism, a beatnik, and, adversely, a punk. Channel 4 were there filming a show on burlesque, and so we tried to show some retro shapes in front of the camera (all very high school dance in Grease) whilst they recorded the floor show danced perkily to Tom Waits' Rain Dogs album. Class! Only downside was having my bag nicked and my idiocy at having left it unattended being ironically rubbed in by Ella Fitzgerald singing 'A-tisket, a-tasket, I lost my yellow basket' at that exact moment. Still, much-recommended night - shimmy over to www.ladyluckclub.co.uk for details.

Saturday saw a 30th birthday party in a hired-out pub in Kings Cross and a valiant attempt at enjoying house music with some mild box-stacking, chicken-feeding etc etc, followed by an all-dayer at Guilford's mini-festival, the Ambient Picnic. It being an eco-friendly affair, we tucked into our spicy vegan burgers, ambled around the stalls selling slightly rubbish handmade necklaces made by long lost Amazonian tribes, bongs a-plenty, exotic herbs such as peppered lemon verbena, chocolate basil and peanut butter parsley (or something) and cakes probably made out of tofu, hay and water in an effort to avoid the evils of flour, eggs, milk and sugar. I was there as groupie to Step 13, a recently-revived live drum 'n' bass act starring my beloved on bass. This meant I enjoyed the full tour experience of loading up at 9am in Ilford, rumbling down the M25 in our Tour Bus of Rock guzzling all manner of illegal substances (ok, it was a mini-bus called Amber Coaches, we all ate fruit and we stopped at a National Trust site for tea). STILL, the Step 13ers and other East London band and crew Electricity Comes From Other Planets were a world away from the juice trio gig experience of hiring an EasyCar, feeding each other double chocolate chip cookies whilst listening to India Arie and talking about pants...

Before Step 13 (www.step13.co.uk) crashed onto the main stage, we were subjected to some fairly terrible amateurish attempts at rock including nods to Blink 182 and Dire Straits (hhhmmm) before other East London pals, Lazy Habits (www.lazyhabits.co.uk), saved the day with their bouncy, jazz-inflected hip hop, including their beatboxing genius WanDan, who frankly knocks spots off any extra-vocal technique that juice can muster. Step 13 were on later, delivering a way-too-short set of eclectic, kick-ass drum'n'bass, to which I boogied around at the front with much admiration and a little envy cause damn! my boyfriend was playing big fat hefty bass in a great live band to thousands of people whilst I can only dream of playing to a couple of hundred chin-strokers...

But on that note, have finally almost finished tinkering away at a demo of wispy groovy songs and edits of my coolest old pieces. Am currently contemplating whether to call myself Kerry Andrew or come with a more ambigious, band-esque title like SpangleChild of Katmandu or The Sulphur-Dried Apricots or something. Suggestions on a postcard....

Saturday, July 23, 2005

from an unbombed kerry

july 23rd

Current level of conviction in own genius (out of 10): 6
Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 1
Hair day: bowing under the weight of overgrown length – any attempts at styling are futile

So, had minor heart attack on Thursday when I was told at school about the rumours of more attacks in London, before checking it out on the Guardo’s website and breathing a sigh of relief when it looked like 4 failed attempts. No deaths = no worries. Felt relatively blasé about my laboured journey home of snailing buses, and barely raised an eyebrow when the next day bore news of a man shot dead at Stockwell, even though the danger crept nearer, with not only that tube stop affected but possibly a bag put on the tube here at Brixton. And a house was later raided in my manor, 15 mins walk up the road. It’s obviously completely dispiriting, making us realise that we’re seemingly in for the long haul, in a battle with home-grown terrorists who will be impossible to trace unless every underground station comes complete with all-new x-ray scanners and specially-trained bomb-sniffing dogs, and every London bus with a gun-toting SAS man seated next to the luggage rack. Fucking bastards; these people (no matter how many times Tony et al say that brave stiff-upper-lipped Londoners will keep going about their hard-nosed business) are making every traveller dart-eyed and jumpy around their fellow passengers. I’ve watched people around me get into a carriage and check out every single passenger, face first, then bag. It’s making London a tense, suspicious, non-welcoming place.

Big bro has just reported that the man chased by armed police and shot 5 times in the head in front of tube passengers at Stockwell was an innocent man. Shit. It couldn’t be more inflammatory - an Asian man in a winter coat left the block of flats that they were watching and legged it when he saw 20 men (in plain clothes, remember) bearing down on him with guns. Of course, he might have been some dodgy crim who thought that they were after him for a different reason; or he could have been simply a completely terrified, possibly non-English-speaking, bystander. This will not look good. Muslims are going to start asking whether anyone of a certain complexion is going to be killed for looking a bit shifty. Feel like the city is already fighting against a tide of its own prejudice.

Yet London, at its best, is a thing of almost-graspable joy and beauty. Two richly eclectic gigs this week, both at the Purcell Rooms: the first was seemly multi-limbed percussionist Joby Burgess showing off his MIDIed-up marimba-like instrument, adding the feisty and fab Elysian Quartet for a second half of live Kraftwerk numbers. Last night’s event was a showing of brill German Expressionist movie The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1919), accompanied by Geoff Smith’s soundtrack on my new favourite instrument, the hammer dulcimer. In fact, not one, but three (tuned thusly - one diatonic, one chromatic and one microtonal, for the musos out there), to supplement the angular, shadowy sets and thick-kohled eyes and hilariously over-dramatic grimaces. This was followed by dinner at Studio 6 in Gabriel’s Wharf and a stroll to drink in my most-adored view of the capital: a low tide lapping at a muddy beach, and the iconic skyline of the glittering Gherkin, Tower 42 and St Paul’s - an in-yer-face visual boom with its bosomy dome rising over the rest of the dark city like a protective angel. Boy, do we need one right now…

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

the week after the thursday before

july 13th

Current level of conviction in own genius: 5.5
Amount of creative activity in last 24 hours: 1 hour
Hair day: Very floppy, refusing to be moulded by various hair putties. Needs cutting.

Humph. London's staunch defiance and stoicism my not-very-toned arse. People are not diving merrily onto the tubes waving two fingers in terrorism's general direction. We are getting on the tubes and the packed buses because we have to, otherwise no money would line our coffers. We're scared but we have little choice, unless we live near enough to work to develop calves like melons by cycling in. Sitting on the bus or travelling the underground fills me with a heavy-hearted resignation about my impending death (just to add to my feelings about flying then), and I spend the time trying to decide which seat will leave me with the most limbs intact, whilst it's inescpapable not to eye fellow passengers, scoping out bag size, skin colour and demeanour. Dammit. It's of course so much worse that 4 West Yorkshire lads, with decent backgrounds including young families and employment as a youth/disabled worker, are the perpetrators. They're not evil foreign intruders. They're ours, British-born; home-grown mass-murderers.

On a more sanguine note, in efforts to retain normal cosy mosey through life, I saw Sigur Ros at Somerset House on Sunday. It was a charming gig if not mind-blowing, with the setting making it: as it got later, the inner courtyard walls reddened in the twilight, and seagulls above seemed to sail on the glowing arcs flung up by the bowed electric guitar onstage, bellies warmed from the light below; clouds seemed to slowly darken and expand, like wool in water, and stars quietly unfolded themselves one by one. It was just the right kind of ambience for that horror-filled weekend, a gentle sonic embrace that allowed time to reflect, think on your own continuing unbombed existence, and savour the company of the ones you love.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


july 9th

Current level of conviction in own genius (out of 10): veering between indifference and must-get-on-with-being-a-genius vibes
Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: only PhDing at the mo, very very boring but necessary as deadline for handing in looms large
Hair day: Each hair has a distinct air of disinterest in volume and shine

NB The following is a little weighty but isn’t trying to be particularly poetic – I am not, after all, Will Self in the Indie or Ian McEwan in the Guardian, commissioned to put capital-goers’ horror into black and white. But I have to get it all down somehow... so forgive any elegiac undertones…

London. Beautiful, messy multicultural London, sweaty with workers and tourists and foreign students and immigrants, where the next person could be of any or no faith, could have a familial background from Nigeria to Ecuador, Poland to New Zealand, has been incisively dissected and gutted, its insides gouged out from deep underground.

It was always going to happen, and if you live in London, you’re going to have to be slightly savoir-faire about the possibility of an attack on the capital, particularly after Madrid and given our involvement in Iraq (that’s both Gulf Wars), as well as Britain’s general political masturbation of America, its involvement in the arms trade, etc etc. But that doesn’t make it any less galling and dumb-striking when it actually happens, made more horrific by mostly occurring in London’s underground maze, meaning we’re comparatively starved of the images that help us come to terms with it all.

Apart from, that is, the lasting picture of the mangled corpse of the no. 30 bus from Hackney Wick, packed to the rafters due to the tube being shut down, and peeled open like a banana in a millisecond. It was doubly appalling that only two were confirmed dead for all of Thursday, when the insides of the bus must have been popped out. The carnage of severed bodies and scattered limbs, of course, were making it tricky to estimate numbers.

I’ve been a little itchy on the tube of late, but more often than not it’s been due to fretting about being stuck underground due to a technical problem and thusly evacuated, a little traumatised and grubby and claustrophobic and cursing the bloody tubes. Or about being pushed in front of a hurtling carriage by some recent psychiatric outpatient. You forget about the prospect of a bomb. Or three.

On July 7th, 8.40amish, I was half-asleep on the Victoria Line and on my way to school in Little Venice; I would normally change at Oxford Circus, hop on the Bakerloo, and pass through Edgware Road on my way to Warwick Avenue. Just before Green Park, we were told that the Bakerloo was suspended up to Paddington due to an engineering fault (this being unrelated to the bombings) – I had two choices: either get on the Jubilee and change at Baker Street for the Circle Line to Paddington and then up, or change at Oxford Circus and go out and up. For absolutely no reason at all, except to ignore the weird tightness in my chest that kept giving me sharp twinges of pain, I stayed on until Oxford Circus and got out at Notting Hill. By then, after 8.50am, we’d had reports of ‘a serious incident’ or ‘an electrical fault’ or ‘a possible collision’ at Liverpool Street, conflicting enough to make me prick my ears up and text both boyfriend and brother to check it out. After waiting for a District or Circle Line to take me to Paddington, the reports kept trickling through, and both lines were then suspended. I hovered in and around the tube station, got on the Central Line to get back into the centre of town before this was also suspended and off I got again. As I walked back up, underground staff suddenly began telling us to leave, with not a little urgency in their voices, I noted.

I waited for a bus up to Edgware Road from after 9am for about 45 mins, as every crammed bus snailed past, not stopping. Still feeling weird, I got on another bus. I got off. I waited some more. I stopped in a Starbucks to warm up after 90 minutes standing in the chilly grizzly weather. I cursed the stupid underground system, a day after London’s cheery Olympic triumph and promise of regeneration, for seemingly being completely stymied by a (I had concluded) power cut at Liverpool Street that had somehow shut down the whole network. I waited for more buses. The countdown screens were by now saying that no buses were running in Zone 1. I tried to call school again, or anybody, before realising that the mobile phone networks had collapsed under the strain. I walked back to Notting Hill, and past a McDonald’s where people were peering in it the windows at the widescreen tv. I went in and joined other stranded commuters, taking in the news of 7 explosions on tubes and buses less with shock than with a seeping realisation. It suddenly seemed perfectly obvious why London had been paralysed.

I wandered round Notting Hill wanting to cry slightly, wondering whether passers-by knew what was going on or not. I queued up to use a payphone which then got jammed. I tried to use 2 more to no avail. I waited for buses to get the hell out of Zone 1 borders, but all the double deckers rolling up only ejected all their passengers and rumbled to a halt. Mum rang, beside herself. Dad rang, his sensibly advisory self. I walked to Kensington, and got on a bus to Hammersmith, rationalising that it was unlikely that I was about to be blown to bits out there. Hammersmith bus station was teeming and there wasn’t a chance of getting anywhere. I walked 3 miles to Wandsworth, passing the odd tv screen in a pub, in increasing rain. I walked past a cordoned-off area surrounded by police in which a dead body lay under a foil sheet, one female foot sticking out, in another incident. I finally got on a bus, and then another which crawled back to Brixton. Fell into the house, turned on the tv and cried my eyes out for an hour.

Boring details, I’m sure. I can’t help it. Since I got back on Thursday afternoon, my mind has constantly strayed to working through my movements, minute by minute, in order to see how close I came. Especially now that it has been confirmed that the 3 tube explosions went off virtually simultaneously, at 8.50am. Just one roll of the dice and I could have been on a Circle line train going westbound through Edgware Road, at, I swear, 8.50am. It’s not quite close enough to feel a thrill at being alive and want to go trekking in the Andes, but I’m obsessing over it in a way that is driving me crazy.

I realise that this is a very selfish way to react. Thousands of people were on the tubes at that time of the morning, and thousands will have altered their journeys slightly and thus definitely avoided incident. Bro tells me not to dwell on it. Everybody else, in comparison, seems to be acting relatively normally, but all I can think about is those chest pains and walking through underpasses, hopping on and off tubes and buses all morning.

And once I get fed up with that, and fed up with the idea of all of my friends, my boyfriend’s friends, my brother’s friends, old students and teachers and acquaintances filtering through the capital’s transport system every damn day, I just feel incredibly sad. I wonder what it’s like to be deafened by the sonic boom, or to have glass in your arms, or your clothes peeled off by the blast. I think of twisted horror-sculptures of metal and bodies, 100ft underground, or the postcards of the missing curling at the corners outside Kings Cross station.

I realise that London’s inevitable attack is no different from events all over the world and that the death toll is a drop in the ocean compared to so many horrors, but the difference is that it’s happened here, in my city. Not just close to home but at home.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

riding out east and other things

june 22nd

Current level of conviction in own genius: 6.5
Amount of creative activity in last 24 hours: 0 - too busy, like, WORKING
Hair day: slightly bedraggled, given extreme heat

Have been very busy with educational work and even a gig - some PAID and everything! Gasp. I premiered my kids' piece, waterworlds, at top venue LSO St Luke's on Monday, and my lovely rum lot from St Andrew's Primary in Salisbury did a fab job in making us the tightest and most enthusiastic act, even if they did look like 30 singing/playing smurfs with their all-over blue face paints (I opted for a Ziggy Stardust-esque glittery blue slash across the face which I sported on the tube home to absolutely no raised eyebrows whatsoever). Am hoping the success of this piece has impressed one or two people in the kids-contemporary-music-biz and might swing me a job or two.

Am already missing the cool kids from the country as I have done a couple of days work at my new primary, St. Saviour's, and had the joy of 60 5-7 year-olds today, including some real little terrors who really didn't want to learn 'How Do You Make A Hippopotammus Smile?' and more likely wanted to run down the streets stealing tyres or something. Still, it's quite fun to have 8 year-olds desperate for you to include them in their end of term concert, writing poems that rhyme 'school' with 'cool' (naturally) and 'fool' (ok) and 'tools', as in 'even if school is a tool' (erm), breakdancing haphazardly in front of you and, most hilariously, 4 boys singing 'Is This The Way To Amarillo' in 4 different keys whilst marching cheerily on the spot. Ho ho.

Juice had a gig in the eclectically-programmed Corsham Festival, which involved trying to keep Anna entertained and awake enough to drive us to deepest Wiltshire and back way into the night by talking about food and music and edible pants and things. Corsham is a preposterous chocolate box of a village, clearly straining to be cast as backdrop to a BBC1 World War 2 melodrama, and we sang a funky, candlelit gig to a respectable crowd. Barry Russell drove all the way down from Huddersfield to hear us premiere his cool stones-and-shakers piece, and is clearly a man to know and impress: he has work with a choreographer in the offing and is potentially keen to work with us on it for performances in London and New York. 'Spose that would be alright.....

Finally.... I can't go without waxing rhapsodic about my lovely weekend chez Ma in East Riding. Andy and I drove up on Friday, enduring the eye-glazing boredom of the A1 before bursting into the sun-basked meadowy Wolds to the burbling accordion tunes on the Amelie soundtrack. Of course, this being me, the accursed Rainbringer of the North (nary a single visit to my mum's and thus the beach has been free of lashing downpours and shouty winds), the weather soon gave way to wintry bleakness. Boo.

Still, Saturday was momentarily bright enough for us to enjoy a trip to Whitby via the ace smuggler's cove of Robin Hood's Bay, where the folk clan, the Waterson-Carthy's, live, a town piled onto the rocks, a maze of sloped roofs and cobbled alleys. Rather marvellously, there appeared to be a mini-folk dance festival going on by the jetty: four Yorkshire 40-something lasses cheerfully doing a slightly ragged clog dance to the intricate twangings of a 5-piece band who looked like they could have played everything twenty times as fast without breaking a sweat or taking their mouths away from their pints of thick ale. There was a gently appreciative crowd of locals and tourists and it just warmed my heart to see an English tradition still going strong. Dammit, I'm PROUD of being English and proud of its roots music and folk heritage, something that's still being clung determinedly to in places like the North-East, and I hate that it's so crowded out in our increasing urbanity and Londonisms. I love decent, conscious hip hop more than almost anything, but so many English kids (from any racial background) are Americanised and cityfied to the gills and have no concept of this land's traditional roots, and they're something to be cherished, even if some of them are a bit Wicker Man-esque. Amen.

Aaanyway, to Whitby, scene of many a family holiday, and fairly unchanged, with its lobster pots, twisty steps and smoked kipper house on one side, and the grimily glitzy tat and whalebones on the new town side. Slightly more disconcerting was the market stall selling SS memorabilia... Enjoyed fish freshly whipped from the sea and the fang-toothed abbey and glowering church on the hill, complete with eerie pock-marked gravestones - see http://andy501blog@blogspot.com for some ace pictures of all this, by the way.

On the way back, we had time to stop in Beck Hole and have a drink at THE SMALLEST PUB IN THE WORLD EVER - a full 3m squared. I kid you not. There was room for three people to enjoy their pork pieces and crisps whilst the other punters drank outside on the road, seemingly unfazed by the nuclear-midge-clouds and the occasional avalanche of runaway sheep. We also perched briefly at the lip of the Hole of Horcum, a vast grassy crater and minor natural wonder, before passing by the (blatantly un-secret) mammoth concrete pyramid of Fylingdales and, most excitingly, Goathland, the set of everyone's favourite intellectual challenge, Heartbeat.

Phew. Sunday starred rain in all its guises, from itchy drizzle to monsoons, and plighted our East Coast odyssey slightly. Still, managed to show Andy Filey Beach (spent half an hour entertaining Ray Mears fantasies by sheltering in a cave), the long arc turned gunmetal grey by the deluge; we then squeezed in a cream tea in the dead-end town, peered through our streaked windshield at Flamborough Head, had a sorry-assed walk along Bridlington's south beach and went home defeated. Still, for all the inclement misery, I have an absolute devotion to the East Coast. Whilst I'm enjoying the sunshine at the moment (under a layer of fake tan and Factor 325 of course), there's something about the unpredictable, earthy lack of glamour that you can't get anywhere other than on the seashores of the UK. Which is why I can't wait for possible camping trip to the West Highland Coast in August!! Hurrah!!!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

brixton springwatch

june 9th

Current level of conviction in own genius (out of 10): 7
Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 2
Hair day: quality!! leaving it to dry naturally before coating it intensively in special hair pudding seemed to work wonders...

We have our very own Springwatch here in South London. It's ridiculous that I live nary 5 mins from Brixton tube, and from all the lairy goings-on that could pass for street performance art if you looked at it in the right way (the besuited godfathers of shouty evangelical Christianity guarding their tv preacher on Coldharbour Lane corner, the barneys at the bus stops, the old woman steadfastly playing comb and tissue paper outside Iceland), yet once in the Sleepy Hollow-esque back garden of Baytree Court, I'm transported into a haven of proud British wildlife. Squirrels, foxes (whose nighttime conversations sound eerily like the bloodcurdling cries of women being murdered), starlings, a lovely pair of great tits (yes, yes, innuendo-spouters, have your fun) and an eerily tame blackbird who came so cockily close to me that for a second I was worried that it was going to turn into a re-enactment of The Birds. But to perch out there today, basking in the sunshine whilst munching on a salad of grilled peppers, rocket, parmesan and avocado, whilst all manner of birds fluted merrily around me, was just damn bliss.

Continuing to be inspired by new music on Leaf and Rune Grammofon labels, and concocting little songs of my own. Plus the DVD factory for sedna stories is now up and rolling!!!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

great danes

june 5th

Current conviction in level of genius: 7
Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 30 mins, scribbled on the Guardo Friday Review
Hair day: blondeness looks very lurid today. Need some kind of miraculous face bronzer to balance it out

Friend Des, who works for the supremely ace Leaf label (experimental beautiful acoustic/electronica) in Brixton, got me tickets to Efterklang's gig at the ICA. The ICA is great, if possessing risibly snooty bar staff who frown at your order if you accidentally order a pint rather than a .... whatever it is of their Dutch white beer, and is naturally full of peasant-skirted, thick-specced, pixie-cropped artbohos that I both scoff at and want to be. The support was another Danish band who were fairly rockin', but use of two drum kits playing identical rhythms was less novel and more plain annoying, and the pencil-thin/skirted front chick's breathy noodlings got a little too abstract. They paled in comparison to the wonderfully soulful, musically rich soundworld of Efterklang, a collection of charmingly rangy Scandinavians including a trumpeting drummer, electric violinist, trombonist, live laptop visual artist, fey singer who would occasionally spark up, bash a cymbal or two and croon sweetly-clipped English nothings into the mic. Of course, I'm a sad muso who got excited because they could play in angular time signatures (5! 7!) quite unobtrusively, but they were an inspiringly engaging lot who made me sigh dreamily to myself for half an hour afterwards. I want to be on Leaf. After encouraging feedback on my quirky little minatures, recorded on my hissy mic into crappy basic hand-me-down version of Logic, am fired up to work on more and create a whole new world of Kerry magic!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


june 1st

Current level of conviction in own genius (out of 10): 6
Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 0
Hair day: blonde. Very, very blonde. Peroxided it to buggery 4 times. A bird passing overhead might mistake me for a small cornfield and I’m considering a new career as a human torch, but hell! It’s more interesting than mid-brown.

Since I last blogged I have, somewhat miraculously given my previously spectacular lack of success, managed to acquire a job. Hurrah! In a speedy two days, I applied for a part-time primary school music teaching job, got a phone call, went in and taught a lesson, had an interview and was offered the job practically on the spot. Having been around a few roughish schools on my travels, and had friends teaching in the kind of establishments where torrents of abuse and often lockers are thrown at you on a daily basis, I’m rather gleeful that I’ve bagged St. Saviour’s, a haven of colourful calm in leafy, posho, canal-threaded Little Venice. The staff wear tranquil smiles and the kids are a cute and polite mixture of rich mop tops and slightly more raggedy estate kids. My interview lesson was a dream, my docile little class filing in, sitting automatically in rows with that funny high-crossed-arms-straining-to-be-good pose, and when I beamed ‘hello!’, all eerily chorused ‘Hello, Miss Andrew’, having clearly been briefed beforehand. Ho ho. It’s a C of E school, governed by a thankfully funky seeming Simon Schama-specced vicar called Gary, (meaning - ha! - I’ll be demurely at Mass every Monday), so is hardly a cutting-edge Shoho media job or anything, but I think it’ll be fun and rewarding. It starts in September, with a few days’ work this term co-ordinating their (bless) Expressive Arts Concert, and I reckon I’ll be ok til then what with various bits and pieces.

So THANK GOODNESS! Feel much more rejuvenated and back on my feet after being slapped about the face with so much rejection. Am ready to rock all summer, get back into old York-style routine of yoga and porridge and PhD write-up and extreme self-promotion and creating new things and summer walks and odd bits of teaching and gigging. Back where I belong, for the moment at least….


Thursday, May 19, 2005

the end of the moon....

entry oh whatever think i'll just put the date from now on

may 19th

Current level of conviction in own genius (out of 10): 5.6
Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 3ish
Hair day: lacklustre

Bagged the last ticket for Laurie Anderson's show The End of the Moon at the Barbican last night... she is just ace. The show loosely drew on her experiences as, get this, Composer in Residence for NASA (now there's one you don't see in Guardian Media Jobs), and was similar in style and presentation to her last appearance here 2 years ago. Part-theatre, part-music, part-visual art, she padded onto the candle-strewn stage and proceeded to deliver meandering monologues in her languid, singsong voice; monologues about everything and nothing - her dog, a phone call, light, the absence of time ... and how they are all connected. I often think what an odd job an astronaut or astronomer must have, being constantly confronted with our absolute, screaming insignificance. I try not to think about how damn miniscule we are in the whole scheme of things, try to concentrate on and celebrate the tiny details of life. But just occasionally, if you, like LA, are looking at Hubble pictures of vast cumulus clouds, your mind must go KERPOW. And I loved LA's musing that life was just 'bad art'; whether we awere all just failed writers; because people wandered in and out without explanation, dying at the wrong times, things keep repeating themselves... She makes you think.* It was a very warming show; she seemed to wrap the audience up in her lullabying voice, tucking us up with her rich, enveloping electric violin and pulsing samples.

The good thing for me in experiencing these Barbican-esque shows is that it gives my brain a nifty spring-clean: I remember what it is I should be doing, and artistic ideas just flood in. Must keep going with the whole album/one-woman plus band show on the English folk story thing. Grrr.

* You may have noticed that I am a bit more inarticulate and wandering when trying to grasp huge philosophical matters. My head looks at them, attempts to think about them and then curls up into a tiny, cowering ball in order to prevent panicked self-destruction, remaining there for several minutes whilst whimpering like a toy dog who's just realised that an extremely hard cat is coming its way. I'm better at relating hilarious anecdotes involving hairdressers, gibbons or cable cars really. So erm, apologies, but hopefully you get the gist.

Monday, May 16, 2005


entry 7 or so

may 16th cont.

Current level of conviction in own genius (out of 10): 2 at most glum moments/10 when at most indignant and outraged.
Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 1
Hair day: the back is curling. Am going to bite the bullet and go trashy blonde again.

Humph. Finally gave erstwhile prospective agent from high profile classical/crossover company another call, a follow-up after sending her sedna stories extracts on CD (which, I assumed, would make her realise juice’s general exquisiteness and my multi-faceted gifts of creation). She sounded surprised and a little fumbly at hearing my voice, and stumbled that, whilst what we were doing was exciting and fresh, well, the ‘quality’ just wasn’t there. Which wasn’t what she said in our face-to-face meeting after our big Radio 3 gig in December. I KNOW that she never promised anything, but she had seemed very keen and to backtrack so vastly is dispiriting at best. She said to stay in touch and I was as chirpy as a treeful of chickadees on the phone but dang! It’s just another slap in the face for Kerry in her Continuing Test of Confidence and Will and Unwavering Ambition.

Still, juice are now on the way to making our debut in Covent Garden in a couple of weeks. Busking, that is, ho ho. It's busking the business way though, with auditions and licenses and draws and sign-up sheets.... but we've got ourselves 4 slots in 2 weeks' time, which will be great. Plus we've been asked, provisionally, to take part in a recording of my tutor's piece for NMC. Which will also be nice. Slowly but surely.

Am trying to desperately to concentrate on future creative activity; need something to get my writing/musical/singing teeth into. Do feel semi-inspired by seeing the wondrous Laurie Anderson on the Culture Show (and managed to wangle last half-price ticket to see her on Wednesday!) and by browsing online for similar quirky gals – Joanna Newsom, CocoRosie, the fably-named Scout Niblett, Hanne Hukelberg – who are getting out there and doing lo-fi, raggedy-voiced, innovative stuff. Am thinking about future album project (hell! Might as well think positive!), as have done sea-themes to death and that was the last idea… might go with collection of modern takes on English folk stories ie reaching into my heritage in a wacky, avant-pop kinda way. Well, a girl can dream.

animal crackers

entry 7

may 16th

Current level of conviction in own genius: 3
Hours of creative activity acheived in last 24 hours: 0
Hair day: passable

Gagh. This weekend my throat turned into an amusement park for germs and I was left feeling like an amateur sword-swallower and sounding like the mutant love-child of Mariella Frosrup and an adolescent donkey. Decided to mostly ignore extreme pain and phlegmitude by doing nice weekendy activites like going to Brixton's kick-ass cinema The Ritzy (to see Hitchhiker's - verdict: slightly irritating) and, more excitingly, visiting London Zoo. I haven't been to the zoo since I was quite wee and I wasn't sure whether my adult self would be more inclined to feel slightly outraged at the sight of animals cooped up; however, once i was inside, I was as wide-eyed and gaspy as the 5 year-olds, if not more so, frankly. So we saw a few slumbering lions, some chilled kangaroos, a manically-depressed sloth bear in severe need of a manicure, a collection of very disturbing reptiles that wouldn't have looked out of place in a Ridley Scott movie and some bizarrely-put-together insects with sex lives that would have been deemed too obscene for Eurotrash (incestuous crickets, part-asexual upside down jellyfish, that kinda thing). There were creatures with quite maginficently self-explanatory names - see the Flouncy Flower Beetle, the Taiwan Beauty Snake and the Shovel-nosed Sturgeon. Absolute favourites, though, were the residents of the Ape and Monkey houses; where the other areas would leave you 'urgh!'-ing and squealing at their alien nature, here you really felt inclined to mimic, or in my case, actually converse with them because damn! they really didn't seem so far off our own kind (and some a good deal more sophisticated than the specimens in Leicester Square of a steamy Saturday night). Some of the expressions on the spider monkeys, gibbons and chimps really did seem to say: 'no, I will not be your performing monkey, you humanoid imbecile' or 'dave, pass the grapes, will you?' or 'i wish they'd do something with this place. If they knocked a wall through, they'd really open up the space'. Most awe-inspiring was undoubtedly the silverback gorilla. He looked like a grand, avuncular lord, a world-heavy sigh in primate form, with hulking muscles and thighs as wide as barges. I could have watched him (and possibly bowed down and done his every bidding) for hours.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

soy un perdedor

entry 5

may 12th

Current level of conviction in own genius (out of 10): 3
Hours of composition achieved in last 24 hours: if you count PhD write-up work, 2.
Hair day: not bad. not great, but not bad.

Back to the daily grind. The daily grind of jobseeking every which way but loose (although am starting to consider that course of ‘action’ too – must find my PVC corset…) to no avail, that is. No-one wants me, for jobs big (lecturing in creative music) or small (£5 an hour admin monkey); just got rejection letter from Young Vic, not even deigning to give me an interview for a job I’m perfectly and enthusiastically qualified for! Boo. I’m clearly either a skill-less wretch or, more likely, employers are taking one cursory glance at my CV and saying ‘Christ! Look at these glittering accolades! This girl is clearly a sparkling genius and we must not stand in her way by offering her a relatively mundane 9 to 5 job!’. Ho hum. Am now crossing fingers, thumbs, fallopian tubes etc for 3 month job as composer/musical director for community play in Thurrock. And thinking about downsizing my CV to focus on my ‘early work’ as a warehouse admin lackey and hospital cleaner. Class.


Monday, May 09, 2005

in a little spanish town

entry 4 (officially)

monday may 9th

Current level of conviction in own genius (out of 10): fairly uncaring either way
Hours of composition achieved in last 24 hours: 1 hour at a push
Hair day: decent cut, bit mullety at the back though... dullish colour. am trying to decide whether to go for broke and peroxide the whole lot but keep chickening out for fear of turning into satsuma impersonation

Who needs a job when you can swan off to Barcelona with top-notch super-boyfriend for a mid-week jaunt in the sun? Well, me still it seems, but blimey, the Catalonian capital wasn't half bad either... highlights were:

1) the flat itself - a cute bijou gem in the heart of the port, Barceloneta, slightly worn around the edges and authentically local, cats and dogs lording the streets etc
2) the public art - everything from the obviously celebrated architecture to the stretches of witty grafitti blistering up the walls to the contemporary sculptures on every corner; somehow can't quite imagine each new addition being met with Daily Mail-esque 'Call This Art' puffed-cheek outrage...
3) the Gaudi, naturally. Andy and I were reduced to Beavis and Butthead-like 'hur hur's at our first sighting, the opening of Parc Guell, unable to quite pass comment on the sheer outrageousness of it all. In plastic and MDF and placed in a theme park, the buildings would be beyond vile, but in stone and mosaic, and in crazy kindergarten colours, they're pure, audacious genius. The park looked like Hansel and Gretel's dream larder. The Sagrada Familia was utterly daft, with preposterous near-dayglo clouds of fruit nestling amongst melting towers; the bizarre 'Sanctus' lettering, in its 'Nando's' style font, seemed the tackiest advert for Christianity ever; the Gaudi end looked like it was slowly dripping into hell. My favourite building was the Casa Batllo, another kaleidoscopic fairytale of a house nestled on a glam corner of the Eixample district.
4) tussling with my fears of taking a starring role in some Jaws-attacks-Roger-Moore-in-Bond-movie-remake by taking the cross-harbour cable car over to Montjuic. Didn't die! Whopping views from the castle up on the mountain.
5) the exciting lottery that was going to hardcore Catalan restaurants and ordering off the Menu del Dia in the native tongue, not having a clue what would be served up. Most hilarious was the al fresco portside seafood place, Hispania, where Andy most definitely got the short straw - 1st course: asparagus and eggs (oh dear. he's allergic to eggs); 2nd course: two grilled whole octopi on a plate (ha ha ha) 3rd course: an apple on a plate (HA HAAAA!).
6) trailing through the quirky maze of alleys in the Barri Gotic and La Ribera quarters, filled to bursting with hip eateries and lowdown coffee joints and galleries a-plenty.
7) having proper beach-style holiday experience of wearing cossie and slathering on Factor 35 and reading book whilst laid out on a towel and enjoying 'bracing' gallops into and rapidly out of the sea. I am used to skimming stones on barren windswept East Yorkshire coasts whilst craving a hot sweet cuppa.

And much much more, making it back in time to see El Tone squirm behind Reg Keys' electrically-charged speech in Sedgefield.

And really, the following was maybe the simplest, but the best bit of all:

catalunyanpoem (4/5/05)

after the siesta, all hell breaks loose

Barceloneta erupts, streams of rainbow racket
tearing through the seamy mesh of streets
and colliding in our room through the two open windows
batteries of shutters clatter shops into being
and dogs fire barks like hot bullets in the alleyways
which ring and ricochet with cheap motorbikes
and their criss-crossing ammo-rattle
Spanish kids yell a tumble of colour
and lemonlime birds on the balcony opposite
overlap their tin whistle and piccolo riffs,
metal beads scattering on the bruising bass boom
of the cargo giant that stirs in the port

inside we’re our own Catalan sculpture
cool and still but for your dream-twitches
tiny electric shocks of sleep
as you lie, a curved weight in my lap

melting into me like Gaudi stone


Thursday, April 28, 2005

hair today, gone tomorrow

entry 6
thurs 28th april

Current level of conviction in own genius (out of 10): 4
Hours of composition/musical activity achieved in last 24 hours: 2
Hair day: see below

So, as my bank balance is less in the red than purple and mottled and not looking very well at all, restrained myself by not splashing out on £40+ haircut and trotted along to Toni & Guy's Academy for a freebie. It was a faintly humiliating experience, with a motley crew of 20 or so students/trendy OAPs/unemployed layabouts (moi) lined up against a wall and scrutinised by self-consciously foppish senior stylists, who selected a few at a time to be led away for slaughter - I mean, a lovely free haircut. My group were led to a gleaming warehouse-ish space to our louche student coiffure-choppers, who immediately all clambered for the American woman with the simple bob (it's a classic, you know, the boiling an egg of the hairdressing world) and ignored the rest of us overgrown souls. I was allocated Jordan, a monstrous Brummie, impeccably monochromed (all the way up to pertly-angled white flat cap), and something of a teacher's pet, carefully cropping a miniscule section of my hair before waiting 10 mins for the super-cool senior stylist (a kind of sexier Chris Martin dressed as Derren Brown; but with scissors) to saunter over and frown at my head. I listened to Jordan faithfully grasp the peculiar science of hair cutting, wrapping his preposterously midlanded vowels around such technical lingo as 'pivots' and 'graduations' and 'radials' (or 'riiiiiiiiiiieeeedeeeaals') and tried not to fall asleep. Jordan eventually grew in confidence, and by the end of the marathon sesh was chopping/slicing/back-cutting/layering my hair with merry abandon before throwing me blinking back into the street. Am now trying to decide whether I look ultra-cool and nifty with my super-short do, or more akin to a lesbian prisoner of war. Who is a bit cack-handed with a razor. Arf.

Enough of Kerry's Hair News. Am so fed up of sending off job application after job application and typing my GCSE results and why I am perfect for the part-time/full-time/minimum wage/royal salary/office/school/arts job that i could weep. Instead, should focus on the success that was my first visit to St Andrew's primary school with my piece waterworlds. My mentor Rachel Leach (ace composer/kids specialist, great trainers) came along, as did 3 wet weekends of women from various funding bodies. I ran two hours of musical fun, teaching them a few bits and pieces, getting them whispering, making insect noises, singing, adding actions and collectively devising a raindance, which clearly worked as the heavens opened as soon as they screamed off for break. I love working with this age group - they think you're cool, get excited when you choose to stand next to them, and, miraculously, do as they're told. Fab.

Had a groovy night down at the Bedford in Balham, a gorgeous venue with a cosy, candle-lit Round for live stuff. My buds and I were there to support Nizlopi (www.nizlopi.com), a duo (voice/guitar/bodhran & double bass/beatbox) who perform ear-warming songs with a dash of hip hop and a bucketful of soul. Yes, the lyrics would err on the side of cheesiness in another's band's hands, but if you throw in lovely pizz. basslines and spangly harmonics, a honeyed voice like a male Tracy Chapman, with a defiantly southern accent and deep-drawn inbreaths, plus a disarming passion for acoustic music (ie abandoning the mics to play right in the middle of the audience, daring them to really listen), you can't help but submit. You could see the audience slowly blush a warm, syrupy glow as they worked their magic. Go see them.


Monday, April 25, 2005


entry 5
april 25th

Current level of conviction in own genius: 2
Hours of composition achieved in last 24 hours: 0
Hair day: Beyond reproach. The back of my hair is recoiling in horror.

Oh sigh. Having complete non-day in which the most exciting event was walking all the way up Brixton Road to hand in a job application to the Young Vic Theatre whilst managing to avoid the flying spittle from the drunk dude staggering about the place, and rewarding myself with my near-daily KitKat and newspaper (Guardian, Mondays and Fridays, Independent the rest of the time) ritual. Plus buying an arty mug from Woolworths to sate my burgeoning need for trendy kitchenware, which, as I am still on a budget of Zero, I cannot wholeheartedly act on.

No word from Brunel Uni. This is the position, out of the 15 or so I have applied for, not counting sorry-assed temp jobs, which I am most wholly and resoundingly qualified for. If even they don’t want to see me for an interview I am clearly fucked. Perhaps I shall see if that cleaning job with Lambeth Council’s social housing unit is still available. Anything remotely close to my dream is clearly eluding me. Am so bored with looking for and applying for jobs that my eyes feel like they’ve turned inside out, tucked themselves in and retired for the rest of the day.

Still, juice were on Radio 3 on Sat, making it 3 times in the ether in 6 weeks for me and my pieces.

And lovely weekend with Andy in Cambridge, watching him do his assertive publisher’s thang at the city’s literature festival, including rubbing shoulders with the likes of John Harris, Alison Pearson, Meryl Wyn Davies and other assorted political commentators and authors.

Sigh again. Look on the bright side etc.


the story so far

So i thought about doing this last week, and pre-empted the actual blog-making rigmarole in favour of scribbling (ok, typing) some stuff down. Here's last week's 'gems':

entry 4
april 22nd

Current level of conviction in own genius: 5.3
Hours of composition achieved in last 24 hours: 0
Hair day: Weirdly wavy. Have booked emergency freebie haircut at T&Gs next week!

Desperately hoped for mail this morning telling me I’m on Brunel’s shortlist, but alas, nothing but bills. It needs to come tomorrow or I will trek to Uxbridge and sing stratospherically high notes at them until their spleens burst. Crazily sunny day (although freezing in our tiled Brixton villa – clearly designed for Mediterranean climes), which has improved my mood no end. Met up with terribly sweet if terribly-serious-about-her-music Nadja, who is keepin’ it real by moving to Loughborough Junction next week. Another friend joins the Sarf Lahndan flock. We warmed ourselves on the Ritzy’s café bar terrace along with about a hundred Broho Mums and plump babies, fresh from their Mums and tots special screening, gossiping loudly over the sounds of burbles and yells and giggles whilst demolishing rocket and mozzarella paninis. Have, following recent jaunt to Italy in which I realised I couldn’t look more preposterously English by requesting Earl Grey in the most hardened of local cafes, suddenly discovered the delights of coffee (albeit with a mountain range’s worth of sugar); now feel completely, heart-palpitatingly insane after two café lattes and a liberal slapping of sun. Possibly need to lie down.

Instead: to Harry’s to finalise our first demo DVD of sedna stories hurrah!

PS Carrot cake, incredibly, a roaring success at Andy’s lovely BBQ. Massively over-indulged on meat and wine. Need to go on spinach and cabbage diet pronto. And def. no more coffee.


entry 3
thurs 21st april

Current level of conviction in own genius: 5.4
Hours of composition achieved in last 24 hours: 0
Hair day: shocking. Am going to lodge official complaint to boyfriend about lack of conditioner in his bathroom.

Now that I’ve finished the kids’ (master)piece I officially have no composition work to do, for the first time since I was about 14. Should prod occasionally at PhD work I suppose, but heart not quite in it.

Still, the sun is shining, juice are on the radio on Saturday, and I’ve happily whiled the day away by a) browsing through Brixton’s cheapest and nastiest clothes stores in effort to quell growing urge to spend non-existent money on replenishing my wardrobe b) making a carrot cake for boyfriend’s birthday party tonight – result: a slightly blackened sponge and rather too liquidy frosting (note to self: be less ambitious next time and just make do with rice crispie cakes) c) perfecting other touches for his birthday including nifty and absolutely NOT soppy poems, Tesco’s Finest hot cross buns – his vice and one I worry about having to compete against - , a card that took me 3 hours to make (ribbons, pics, shiny paper, cut-and-paste poetry and general hilarity), and a kick-ass kite. He will be 28 by the way, and not 5. And I, incredibly, hold no ambition to be a Blue Peter presenter.

Went to Parker Place in Holborn (rather nice venue, cushy sofas, candles, chandeliers, rock ambience) to see my mate Jon’s band The Yards (swampy, stompy rawk) launch their debut album. Had fun guessing who amongst the crowd were A&R men, chiefly by looking for the most ridiculously over-coiffured barnets and flimsy boho scarves. Was very proud to see Jon rocking out so convincingly and demonstrating talent for backing vocals that I myself have utilised in the past. He, like a few of the other boys from York in his year, are starting to do good things: James L is gigging with his band The Flews and has had interest from Dizzee Rascal’s label; Dibble is bouncing his way enthusiastically through his 2nd demo album as requested by some producer at Universal; Paul J is doing production work for Morcheeba, for goodness’ sakes. They’re all younger than me! I plan, if success eludes me, to ride on their coat-tails of pop and hold on for dear life.

So Catholics (and that, officially at least, includes me) have a new pope, as heralded by that ace black-to-white plume of smoke thing, no doubt some age-old tradition that makes me think that we should revert back to a few more of our own in Britain, possibly involving archery contests to win ladies, beheadings for speaking ill of the Queen and mead and turnips and things…. The Independent gave an incisively damning portrait of Joseph Ratzinger (not, I hasten to add, suggesting that he was a raving Nazi as screamed by the red-tops); it seems a terrible shame that the Vatican seemingly went for the most stringent, backwards-facing contestant. He wants to revert to Masses all being given in Latin!! Like the first Christians who came over to this country and wanted to keep the English folk in the dark, fearful and uncomprehending! It means that rather than embracing change, seeing the Catholic faith as one of many ways of life etc etc, the Church will continue to trounce homosexuality as ‘intrinsically evil’, continue to exclude females, continue to terrify devout, poor Africans into not using condoms… Amazing that I, until even quite recently, was happy to trot along to church in order to sing a harmony line, go along with the rituals I’ve always found archaically fascinating and never really question a thing. So sure, most Catholics, at least the ones I know, are the most down to earth and pragmatic people, but it’s worrying what is being trumpeted from the top. I continue to feel completely dislocated from my light smattering of Catholic faith.


entry 2
tues 19th april

Current level of conviction in own genius: 5.5
Hours of composition achieved in last 24 hours: 1.5
Hair day: completely unstyled floppiness; considering T&G Academy freebie

So yesterday I had my big teaching interview. Shiny new college, sassy kids, probably a perfectly wonderful job for someone who wants to be a full-time teacher and throw themselves into organising extra-curricular gospel groups and counselling spotty 16-year-olds. Think it went decently, although they appeared to be expecting a glamorous presentation with snappy powerpoint bits and extra OHP fun, rather than my read-from-bits-of-paper approach. May have seemed too young and flighty. Came out of there desperately hoping that they wouldn’t give it to me, for it’s not the work I want! How am I to devote myself to creative time if I’m up all night preparing lessons on chord inversions and the history of the Baroque era with emphasis on Bach 4-part chorales? Am permanently worried about appearing to all my nearest and dearest as a layabout jobshy whore rather than one grasping feebly at her dreams of avant-pop stardom. But am holding out for lecturer post at groovy Brunel University, which I should hear about by the end of the week.

Missed two calls from the college this morning. Instead of replying promptly, have hidden from my phone all day, in case they wanted to offer me the job. Now that it’s mid-afternoon I reckon it’s safe to try them.

Didn’t get it. Feel relieved. Am clearly complete goon.

Still, managed to get the 3rd movement of my piece for primary school kids in Salisbury done and dusted. Have given them lots of chances to stamp and gulp and crash about and have a good sing. THIS is what I should be PAID FOR!


entry 1
sun 17th april

Current level of conviction in own genius (out of 10): 5
Hours of composition achieved in last 24 hours: 0
Hair day: a low-key shaggy mop. Needs cutting.

So tomorrow I have an interview for a teaching job in Islington. Like, for a REAL job with enough money to keep me in organic salmon steaks and skirts from JOY and very big glasses of Rioja in lofty leather/wood gastropubs for a little while…. Am now cramming the AS Music syllabus and practising my dfes-nonsense-speak (‘quality assurance’? what the hell IS that??) and hoping that waving my hands in the panel’s faces with deranged enthusiasm is enough to sway them…

I’m not sure if I want it. The problem is that I’m after a glorious, flexible, generously-salaried part-time creative job that allows me time off whenever I choose to swan off a do a juice gig or a workshop or record my next (ok, debut) album. And they’re not exactly coming in thick and fast. Oh sob.

So I think I’ll continue watching Point Break instead. Ahem. Dodgy surfer mullets ahoy!