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 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….