Monday, March 23, 2009


Level of conviction in own genius: 8 (but probably should be higher)
Amount of creative activity acheived in last 24 hours: 0, but just you wait!
Reading: 'Winter in Madrid' by C.J.Sansom - marvellous, intelligent wartime-spy-thriller/ Watching: 'Red Riding' - unbelievably dark, brilliant series featuring our most local actor, Sean Harris as a devilish bent copper.
Hair Day: quite good, actually

The project that has mostly consumed my working life for a few months has now been and gone: Connecting Across Difference, in which I worked with three totally diverse classes in three schools in Tower Hamlets over many workshops, writing/devising them a piece on the way for a final multi-media, theatrical performance at the V&A Museum of Childhood. The project posed a completely insane amount of challenges for me, demanding a feat of juggling fit not even for the best fire-eating sword-tossing etc Covent Garden busker: I had to meet the needs of not only 50 kids with a wide array of abilities and access requirements, but teachers and three associate musicians/trainee workshop leaders, compromise with a wonderful but oft-differing-of-opinion 2nd composer, squeeze in a visual artist's physical/musical installation way too late in the day, and make it all work in a public museum with a daft acoustic and bleaching amount of light. And the kids didn't even meet until one session before the day! Bonkers.

I think I did pretty darned well considering, waking up only once or twice with cold sweats and heart-clutches, and thus 'The Spell', a 40-minute piece was performed last Friday, all very close to the bone but just about there, with the kids and staff rising to the occasion beautifully. It had a questing, magical narrative written by me and inspired by the imagery the kids came up with; tried to draw on kids' strengths in a very personalised way; and used a marvellous cornucopia of technological delights, created by wide-eyed mus-tech wunderkind Nick. I felt pretty proud of the result and rather gutted that the artistic director didn't ask me to take a bow! But man, am I glad it's all over. Now it's all onto fun things: working on my solo EP, writing a few little pieces, preparing for lots of juice work namely Wigmore Hall, and exercising/eating only seeds in order to fit into the long dress I've bought for it...

Had a nice Ma's day weekend which highlighted the wide gulf between my hood and our opposite end: the evil and horrible West. Ha. On Saturday night we went to our fab local curry house, Al-Amin on Cambridge Heath Road, for sharp hot fish curry and rubbed shoulders with the shouty East End locals. On Sunday we couldn't fail but to rub shoulders with the locals as we squeezed past grotesquely broad poshos heaving great long shiny rowboats into the glittering Thames for several races at the start of a knee-throbbing walk from Putney Bridge. The rowing fraternity (Andy slightly offended by my ogling of 50-year old men in gumboots and revealingly high tight shorts with, as Mum said, 'remarkably impressive physiques') are an irritating lot, all scrubbed, smug faces and what-ho's, and it was good to at least get onto the more rural tow-path. Star-spotting a rather hefty-looking Matthew Macfayden jogging past on the way (he slipping in our estimation as he must live in the hideous environs), we crossed to Hammersmith and through a sea of white rugby-loving middle-classes drinking lager next to the river, past ludicrously posh houses and onto Barnes and more rowers. Ugh. Back home for the evening it was a different story: to the seedily theatrical Palm Tree pub in Mile End next to the canal, we sat on stools drinking St Clement's and thick ales whilst three extremely cool sixty/seventy-somethings, jammed into a tiny corner, crouched over their piano, bass and drums, seemingly not even thinking about the fantastically deft, dextrous trad. jazz and brilliant they were tossing out. They were occasionally fronted by a very square, boxily-jacketed smoothie who crooned some standards whilst nodding and winking to the locals, a mix of 70-year old men and women dressed up for the evening, European girls dancing in front of them, and hardened artsters. YES! The East rules.

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