Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sign O' The Times

Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 2
Level of conviction in own genius: 7
Reading / Listening: 'The Piano Tuner' by Daniel Mason / my composition on Sibelius, over and over
Hair day: It's too early in the morning to say

juice had a marvellously successful concert last week in our most prestigious gig yet, as part of the Park Lane Group series at the Purcell Room. Finally, I've made the South Bank! We shared it, rather oddly, with a 'cellist whose programme included Shostakovich, whilst we performed our brazenly contemporary mix with nothing written earlier than 1996, including a piece of mine. We had a sizeable and supportive crowd and delivered almost everything entirely from memory, which means that while I appeared the epitome of easy poise, inside my brain was imploding... Two days later we had our first British national press, with The Guardian finding us too 'joky' but incredible virtuosos and The Times considering us the stars of the first night, with 'big smiles, a delightful manner' (ah, but you didn't know about the brain-melting), fabulous technical skills and we proved, they said, 'as tangy as their moniker'. Ho ho. Knew our name would come in handy for a choice quote eventually....

Now we're taking a wee break as performers so that Anna can sprout forth with child. She hasn't got long, though: in 6 weeks we're performing a live soundtrack to a 1916 silent comedy at the NFT! Hurrah!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I Am Resolute (Scary Deer Girl)

2008 New Year’s Resolutions

1) To subsist on a diet consisting chiefly of rice milk, porridge, cashew nuts and spinach and very little in the way of wine, crisps and curry.
2) To ban TV in order to read more books, paint, compose, listen to new hot pink digital radio.
3) To flourish into hitherto-latent professional musical genius mode by composing again.
4) To stimulate latent, fitness-repelling muscles into life.
5) To dive back into London high-art-life and reinvigorate the cultural part of my soul.

Success so far

1) For three days I have consumed organic muesli and rice milk for breakfast, bananas-cashew-yoghurt concoction for lunch and have drunk only green tea. Three portions in a row of cheesy fish pie for dinner may have undone good work.
2) Andy has shifted the TV to the study where it sits, aerial-less, so that we can only occasionally settle down to watch classy, brain-enriching DVD fare such as ‘The Lives of Others’, ‘Wild Strawberries’ and ‘Legally Blonde 2’.
3) Am working on ‘wine, whisky and songs’ for Pulse and ‘The Contest of the Ivy and the Holly’ for Oxford University Press. When I say ‘working’ I do of course mean mulling over non-commitedly in my brain every, ooo, 6 hours or so. (Have been distracted by thrilling York-set historical novel, which means that at least no. 2 is being fulfilled.)
4) Have discovered that, as a Trinity College staff member, I can get free classes at our twin-centre and dance school, LABAN. So have signed up for hopefully grace-inducing, thigh-tautening contemporary dance classes! Plus plan to squeeze myself into my sporty Speedo two-piece and go swimming once a week, as the local pool can be seen from my window and thus I have no excuse anymore.
5) Andy and I bought ourselves membership of the Tate and visited the fabulous, splurgy, phallic, awkward Louise Bourgeois retrospective. I hope I’m like her when I’m 95…

These NYRs have been particularly spurred on by a few post-Christmas days in Wales with my beloved, as incisively refreshing as a kickback of very cold gin and tonic. Our journey to this most glowering and hidden-away corner of the Black Mountains caused panic attack-esque hyperventilations: driving through squalling weather, the tiny roads narrowed and starkly-regimented hedges hemmed us in; bright car lights blitzed our eyes in wing mirrors from a solitary car behind us. Having grown utterly accustomed to teeming, everything-at-grabbing-distance London, being in the dark in unchartered countryside did everything to fuel my macabre imagination, and my directorial mind was fashioning a imminent real-life remake of ‘Duel’/’Straw Dogs’/’The Wicker Man’/’The Blair Witch Project’/’28 Days Later’. I was astonished that a wasting zombie had not leered out into our path by the time we arrived at Flagstone Cottage. After a fitful first night - given the sound of the wind barrelling furiously down the valley and the rain tumbling down the roof like bags of marbles split open – I opened the curtains the next morning to find a view as special as snow: rust-coloured hills and sheep brightening up the fields, an unabashed blue sky and racing clouds. There was no TV, no radio, and no mobile phone reception. I was soon in my element, making three days whiz by in a blur of pots of tea, books on the sofa, slabs of butter on thick bread, DJ sets on our laptop, DVDs (decided ‘The Shining’ was a bit too much though) and a couple of bracing walks. We used the atmospherically-ruined local priory as the backdrop for a new series of portraits for my future solo album cover: me in my silver parka, seemingly faceless behind dark scarf, holding up two craziedly forked sticks behind my head like a 21st-century hiphop version of Herne, the tree god from ‘Robin of Sherwood’. Believe me, it’s scary.