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 (, 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!