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