Saturday, April 16, 2011

Coming home to a shitstorm.

Hello, dear readers, it's been a long time. I apologise, and I'll even buy you a drink to make up for it. Anyway, enough of this, there's a story to tell.

So this week I got home after three weeks on the road in Scandinavia. Lovely places, lovely people, lots of strange foreign booze. It was lovely to be away, but it was nice to get home. Or so I thought.

Now, some background: I live in the town of Weymouth. It's a small place, it's by the sea, it has a certain faded glamour to it, I like it. I've lived here for 28 years, I'd like to think I know the town and its inhabitants fairly well. However, in my absence something ugly and terrible has reared its xenophobic head: A local branch of the EDL. If you don't know who these people are, start doing your research, because they'll be in a town near you soon.

And the most terrible thing? Not only are they preparing a protest in the town (on a bank holiday weekend, nice one), but I had a look at the people who 'liked' their facebook page. Shit. There's people I went to school with showing their support. What the fuck? Did I miss a lesson? I don't remember intolerance and bigotry on the curriculum. And I really don't understand what they're protesting about. The radicalisation of the towns youth towards islamic fundamentalism? For crying out loud, we don't even have a mosque here. Get some perspective, people.

Now, it would be easy to paint these people as thick, and some of them probably are. But not all of them. Some of these people will be educated, otherwise rational people. That's pretty scary. What's more, anyone who lives under a Tory government (don't be fooled, we do) and thinks that we aren't right-wing enough is clinically insane.

So what to do? Well, there's several things to do.

1) When in contact with these people, for it will happen, tut and slow clap them. Don't scream and shout, they enjoy it.

2) Attend the counter demo...and make it colourful. I might even bring a guitar.

3) Start reading the Koran in public places. Buses, trains, cafes and bars. You still have the right to read that book, so you may as well exercise it.

I'll let you all know what happens on the 30th. I for one hope the good people of this town do the right thing and let them know that the thing we really fear is a narrow mind. And if they don't, I'll try and get back on tour immediately.

Chin up,


Friday, September 24, 2010

It's The Time of The Season.

First of all, apologies for not writing in a while.

It's been a blockbuster summer, but it's come to a close. Some of you know, and some of you don't, that I've been away on the festival circuit for a few months. Here's some things that I've learnt:

1) There's far more white people with dreadlocks in the world than you think. And if you look closely you can see that they all use iphones.

2) No matter how musical and open minded you think you are, a drumming circle at 4am can make you contemplate murder. This may not apply to you, but it certainly does to me.

3) Camping is fun. For a weekend. Might be worth learning to drive and getting a van by next year.

4) It's not actually possible to get tired of music in fields. This is just a fact, and you may as well accept it. It makes all the painful backs and sleepless nights more than worth it.

5) Cider is your friend.

Anyways, I'm back now, fully recovered, and used to sleeping in a bed again. Hallelujah. And you'll pleased to know I'm going to be devoting more time to this blogging malarkey (I have some groundbreaking plans, believeyoume). Also, working hard on writing the next album, and I promise it will be a monster.

For now, toodlepip.



Saturday, June 26, 2010

Peaks and troughs.

Playing music, doing it live, is my bread and butter. I wouldn't like to guess how many gigs I've played, but I've been doing it since I was sixteen. Barely a week has gone by without a single gig since then, so I'm guessing it's a lot. Certainly hundreds, perhaps thousands, feels like millions. Not all of them are memorable, fuck, not all of them are even fun. But there's something to learn from all of them.

When it's good, it's great. Some nights it's the most beautiful experience imaginable, when all the stars align and everything is wonderful. Some nights it's just farcical enough to be hilarious. Some nights it's work. Hard, sweaty, unrewarding work. I know this: playing the night of an England football match is a surefire way to get the latter. On Wednesday I was subjected to a new heckle, or a new one on me at least. "Play some Neil Diamond you ginger cunt". I've heard plenty of memorable ones, but that's a new favourite. I can't imagine what it was about my act that made him think I would, but I'm sure there was logic in his brain.

But mostly, it's a great thing. Touching people without actually touching them, opening their eyes to something new, a song they've never heard, maybe even a sound they've never's a hard way to get rich, but I wouldn't trade it.

Viva La Songs,


Monday, June 7, 2010

Local Heroes

Another of my obsessions. The local loonies, that add colour to a town. You know the type. The ones that walk around mumbling, or shouting, or never saying anything.

There's one in particular round here who's a favourite of mine. Ivor. He's an old guy now, and I think he's always been old. He's been around for as long as I can remember. Always walking through the town centre, several yards behind his tiny wife, shuffling at a snails pace. Big long coat whatever the weather. Black fingers and mad hair. But his main selling point? Shouting the news at strangers, as only he can.

During the post strike a few years ago, he shouted at me "Postman Pat's getting a promotion".

"What to, Ivor?" I replied.

"Senior Postman, of course" was his genius reply.

He's come out with some beauties over the years. "Jesus Christ comes from Cornwall" is inspired, in my humble opinion. I once tried to start a campaign to get him made town crier - give him a robe and a bell and people will come from miles around to see him. I often wonder what he does when he's at home. What music does he listen to? Chas and Dave? Napalm Death? Lee Scratch Perry? Chopin? Does he watch TV? Films? Who knows?

Still, he's an old man now. What used to look like amusing senility has become something sadder. I don't want to say pathetic, but it's close. There's occasionally suspicious stains down the back of his trousers, and he's shaving less. It's sad to see, and it'll be a sad day when the inevitable happens. The town won't seem quite the same without some shouting "She's a very naughty girl, that Paris Hilton".

Any characters round your way? Tell me about them. Go on.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Way With Women.

I've been single for a while now. Not counting, but a while. I imagine that when you hear most people say that, it's a complaint. Not from me, though.

The thing is, I have dreadful taste in women. They're mostly nice people (mostly), but put me in a relationship with them and they turn into mentalists. It could be a lot to do with how I meet them, in bars and at gigs. People thrown together by drink are destined to be combustible, I suppose. But really, it's my fault. If there's a woman in a room that can really mess me around, treat me like shit, and break my heart, I'll find her. Then I'll buy her a drink.

Woody Allen had a phrase for the kind of woman I go for: Kamikaze Women. Because they're not just self destructive, they take the man out with them.

There was a good one, once upon a time. I'm not naming names, but she's only one who gets away blame-free. It was all my fault, and I'm not crass enough to blame it on the booze. She was a special woman, and it'll take a special woman to replace her. Or a shitload of average ones.

So yes, I'm happily single. That's not to say I don't get lonely sometimes, but in the long run, it's for the best. If it's a toss-up between occasional loneliness and constant full-blown heartache, I'll take the former.

Chin up,


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why do I bother?

If you're a musician, you probably hear the same sentence as me from time to time.

"When are you going to get a real job?".

I suspect this also applies to writers, artists, and other creative types. But I can't be sure. Still, I know from experience that I hear it. Let's move on. When am I going to get a proper job?

It gets me thinking, this question. I've always felt that music was not something I chose, but something that chose me. Perhaps I'm too pretentious for my own good. But it's true. I certainly didn't get into it to make a shitload of money. I didn't get into it for fame or glory. I got into it because it spoke to me, and allowed me to express myself, in an un-tangible but beautiful way. It's not a job, it's a calling.

So try this: Next time you're in a pub/club/bar/cafe and someone's playing their own songs, take the time and listen. It'll mean more to them than shouting "Sweet home Alabama/Mustang Sally/ Oasis" at them. If they have a CD, buy it. Trust me, before you know it, you'll end up with a bagful of lovely new music, and you'll have given someone some hope. If those songs eventually mean something to you, or that musician becomes a friend, it's worth it.

Real job? Keep it.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I Like Language.

It's true, I do. I have many favourite words. You might say I'm a dedicated sesquipedalian

"Absquatulate". That's a blinder. "Pontificate" too, I like that one. But my real passion is unsurprisingly for foul language and filth. Not the kind you hear drunken teenagers on the bus use, but the phrases that show some wit and imagination. Examples? But of course. Do you know what a Tokyo optician is? It's a woman of loose morals, one that has seen many Japs eyes. How brilliant is that? If you're not faint of heart, look up "Changing at Baker Street", but don't say you weren't warned.

You may wonder why I'm writing this. I guess it's just something I put a lot of thought into. I'm not afraid of "bad" language, and it's been known to find its way into my songs and gigs. I don't think it needs justifying, but plenty of people do. And occasionally, those people come to me for justification. So here it is: You've got to talk to your audience the same way you would talk to your friends. Anything less is just condescending. "Condescending". That's a bloody good word.

Anyway, I'm gonna go and have a cup of Earl Grey. Do you have favourite words? Let me know.