Monday, October 26, 2009

Awe-tumn in London

Level of conviction in own genius: 7
Amount of creative activity achieved today: taking a break
Reading/Watching: Time Out, delivered 4 days late via Royal Mail to my door / 'The Thick of It' - brutal, coruscatingly witty, with unbelievably obscure, only-for-the-literary-highbrow-and-not-many-of-them-neither reference to my fave poet Robin Robertson amongst the multi-swearing.
Hair Day: awight. Self-made fringe bearing up decently.

On Thursday I tagged along to a discussion on Ethics put on by Andy at Foyle's, though mostly for the prospect of free food rather than the debate (though remarkably, I kept up); after all, I don't often accompany clever writers/philosophers (eminent scholar on contemporary Muslim Britain and journalist Zia Sardar and popular philosopher/writer Julian Baggini) to dinner at their members' clubs in Soho. Funny, I thought I would be all up for swanning about, wallowing in the exclusivity of it all, but I hated just that: it seems utterly un-egalitarian to elbow out the hoi polloi just so can eat your steamed venison pudding next to Ken Stott. Though the pudding was rather moreish.

Felt much more on top of things over the weekend, going itinerary-crazy for Mother's Birthday Trip To London. Ma's incredulity at the ways of the Big Smoke never ceased to divert; Mum on the tube: 'they're all plugged into something! No-one talks to each other!'; Mum at Broadway Market: 'everyone is so stylish! It's like being on the continent!'). We managed to take in Turner and the Masters at Tate Britain (so-so; rather too old-school for moi) and then hop on the Tate-a-Tate boat (sightly regretting the ample scone just scoffed) for Miroslaw Balka's big black box, which is good for about two seconds and then is a bit silly; not dark, not scary, and the only thoughts provoked were how to trick people into colliding with the end wall. In the evening we sat amongst a hundred crisp-crunching, texting, guffawing teenagers at the Novello Theatre to see the revival of Stephen Daldry's lauded version of An Inspector Calls. Rather over-shouty, I thought, and very heavy-handed use of music, including a nicked bit from Bernard Herrmann. Over the rest of the weekend we visited markets Broadway and Columbia Road Flower (the former for Ultimate Art Toff-Spotting Championship, the latter for stereotypical East End flaaaar-sellin' comedy vaudeville), went to the British Museum (hotly busy, favourite thing was the 3rd/4th-century BC Burmese monster made of lacquer wood, all antlers and long tongue like a tie), and had a great walk down the Parkland Walk, a disused railway line which has reverted back to nature between Highgate and Finsbury Park. Add to that a smashing meal at our local Cilician restaurant, Solche, MOTD, and a spot of DVD-watching (The Reader, bit lacklustre) and you've got a zinger of a weekend. As my main man down at the DVD store said after chatting to him about Driffield, where Mum lives,:'you wouldn't imagine moving away somewhere quiet, would you?'. Hellll, NO, sir!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

International Woman Of Mystery (well, Experimental A Cappella Music)

Level of conviction in own genius: 7
Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: NONE, hurrah!
Reading / Watching: 'The Women's History of the World' by Rosalind Miles, to continue my feminist reading. I am transforming into a empowered Female Fighter of Misogynist Crime by the day / Catching up on 'Generation Kill'.
Hair Day: Just re-done. As usual I told Barry it was a wonderful haircut then promptly raced home and made my own extra snips to adjust. Thus I am now sporting a slightly wonky purple fringe. Ahem.

Have just reached the other side, spitting sand and blood, of a Saharan whirlwind of creative activity. Man, it has been quite ludicrously busy. In the last few weeks I have:

a) Completed the soundtrack for Kazzum theatre company's 'Beginning With Blobs', including tackling the Herculean challenge of mixing 45 minutes of music in about FIVE DAYS. When I've never mixed anything before. The show is now tickling small childrens' ribs and brains around the country.

b) Made my French debut with juice, with three different gigs in three days in the Champagne region, where it would have been rude not to break my abstinence from alcohol by quaffing fine, gossamer-light bubbly after every performance with the locals. The concerts were rather marred by me being ill of the cold/throat variety and Anna being ill of the MADFLUPOSSIBLYSWINE variety, so much so she was shivering under blankets with cold flannels on her forehead mere seconds before going onstage. We were also rather too experimental for some in our first gig, but we are sticking fast to our 'anarchic Brits' label given by 'Sir' Bob Chilcott. I threw my first ever diva hissy-fit upon seeing our last venue, a boat, moving backwards whilst we read music. I can't a) travel backwards or b) read whilst travelling without feeling vomitous, so this was not ideal. In the end it turned out possibly to be our nicest gig, at least because I had developed enough confidence to ad-lib en francais.

c) also gigged with juice in Manchester and Brighton, and spent a week doing exhaustive/exhausting workshops with schools for children with disabilities for Live Music Now in Newcastle.The highlight was a very small girl interrupting our song to tell us proudly she had Tinchy Stryder on her iPod. Rock on. We also did a training sesh for Sing Up,which I meant I got to see underneath the shiny fat-rolls of the Sage Gateshead.

d) had a lovely You Are Wolf gig at Lemon Monkey (hhm, images of gnashing canines and ape-carnage abound), probably my best yet, helped largely by the crowd of friendly faces brought along by birthday gal and chief You Are Wolf photographer Dannie.

e) Had meetings for new projects like the Music Orbit team (another Gobsmack experimental night to be curated by moi in March), Music for Youth where I've been invited to be a mentor, plus the prospect of ticking other Music Education boxes like Creative Partnerships looking likely too. One day I WILL be Howard Goodall.

I have found time to squeeze in some nice arty social things too, namely: seeing Conrad Shawcross' installation 'Chord' under Kingsway in the old tram-tunnel (a joy for Londonist nerdlings like Andy and I - we were much more excited by the peeling layers of 1930s posters than the work itself); taking tea with new buddy MaJiKer, who is writing juice a piece, at the very snobby top of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, before being ferociously inspired into further Feminist Acts and Statements by their re-hanging of work solely by females in the collection, 'elles@Pompidou'. Grrrrrrrrr. Oh, and being an international woman of mystery, I intercepted my husband who was returning from Frankfurt for a gevaarlijke liaison in Antwerpen. Well, alright, it was less that than tripping about the mostly cobbled streets, looking at Rubens' buff Jesus' in the cathedral (they all looked like they'd been doing too many press-ups in Gijsbert's Gay Gym), using our in-built Cool Radar to source the three coolest bars in town, avoiding the hoardes of very clean scouts traipsing around, and liberally lathering ourselves with Warme Chocolade. Yum.

And NOW! Well, plenty more things, but at least for a few days, I can do them whilst lounging under the duvet watching 'True Blood' on Channel 4OD and scoffing at how much of a poor, haemophiliac relation it is to the supreme 'Buffy'...