Sunday, May 26, 2013

Birds, Lobsters and Honeybees

Level of conviction in own genius: 6
Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24: 1
Watching: Mike Leigh's 'Another Year'
Hair Day: Bit dank, post-swim

It's not hard to miss New York (see previous post) and it's gum-chewing, get-on-with-it insouciance, but, as my friend Dannie yelled gleefully last week, 'London's GREAT!', and I shouldn't forget it. Sometimes it's good to get oneself to another city, where - as you're on your hols - you throw yourself into everything that the relevant Time Out issue can offer, to remember that you can do EXACTLY the same thing back home. Minus the comradely banter between strangers, of course. That would be INSANE.

We took ourselves off to Dalston's (London's?) loveliest dancing club, Passing Clouds, for our burlesque champion/stylist/glamourpuss mate Char's birthday last weekend, for a night of silly music and big grins all round. Oh, and, as it was promoted by 'Badgerfest', most people were dressed up as woodland animals. Hurrah! Andy and I did our best with a limited dressing-up box palate and went all birdy - in more impressive efforts from other punters, we boogied amongst glittery frogs, fishnetted badgers, onesied squirrels, and terrifying Donnie Darko-esque rabbits. The first band was a classic Passing Clouds outfit: the sextet Sea of Mirth, appearing to comprise 18th-century pirates, who banged out a set of funk/stomp/ska/sailorfolk-tinged music that I can only class as shantycore. They had a song about a wrestling match with a crustacean, in which the hulking melodica player (looking very easily like an extra from 'Pirates of the Caribbean') dived offstage to tussle with a small man dressed in a massive lobster costume. Brilliant!

Alas, I had to get home a bit early due to my morning appointment as occasional pop hymn choirmistress at The School of Life's Sunday Sermon. This weekend, it featured writer Jon Ronson discussing his latest research subject, humiliation, and recounting delightful stories of the familial and human minutiae of life in his slightly giggly, wetly witty style. I leapt up, with Matt Dibble as trusty keys man, to lead the sold-out congregation of Conway Hall in singing Britney Spears' 'Oops I Did It Again' and Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain', before limping home to Brockwell Park to snooze and cold-swim in recovery for lack of sleep. I've STILL GOT IT.

THIS week saw me and DOLLYman bassist Lucy Mulgan head up to the Beeb's Salford headquarters to record for BBC Radio 3's 'word cabaret' show The Verb, as fronted by Ian McMillan, the poet whose radio voice is as claggy and scrumptious as Yorkshire pudding. The Verb had asked me to write a new You Are Wolf song for their bee-themed show, so I drew upon a few black-and-gold nuggets of beelore for a wee song that included drunken vocal buzzing and double bass 'prepared' with tissue paper. I was also interviewed a bit, got to listen to wonderful poet/beekeper Sean Borrodale and poet Jo Shapcott, and performed my song 'Cuckoo' at the end too. Ian fed us apples and honeycake (with almondy bees atop it) and told me about Barnsley FC's Greekly dramatic end of the season. Happily, my 'honeybee' song was also chosen to be on Radio 4's Pick of the Week, so a double radio whammy for me this week! You can hear it for the next week here on The Verb and here on Radio 4 (at 33 mins).

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