Dickon Edwards - Diary At The Centre Of The Earth
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Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005

Time:7:38 am.
Time slips through my fingers, while piles of things keep growing. Piles of CDs to listen to, piles of books to read, piles of magazines and papers on the floor to sort out, piles of rubbish, piles of emails. Too much to do, too much to read, and I hate to throw anything away at all. I appear to have forgotten How To Live.

A strange thought: I am not getting any work done, because I am far too busy. Doing what? I'm not sure.

I keep saying Yes to far too much, and my appointments diary quickly fills. Oh, but this is London. Everyone's got a gig or club or an art show or a birthday party to go to... Everyone is talking... and... no one is listening! No, that's unfair.

But I don't feel so worried about it any more. It did seem until recently that I woke up, spent my entire waking hours apologising to people by text or email that I can't make their gig or party, then so to bed. A full time job! No more. One mustn't worry about losing friendships. People know where to find me if they really need to. Come to the Bistrotheque cabaret every Friday night, or come to the Boogaloo in Highgate.

A Tiresome Frequently Asked Question: "We haven't seen you for ages, where have you been?".

Answer: Trying to Live! Trying to Create!

Recording sessions with Tom E going well. Have also been offered recording time with Tommy B and Aug S. Very pleased about that. I turn up with guitar, lyrics, notebook and ideas, and we make recordings together. The DIY solo recording thing is not for me: I always need a producer.

Enjoying my weekly residency at the Hanky Panky cabaret at Bistrotheque, but still get terribly nervous about performing solo. Still, the more I do it, I can only improve. Have been singing using the brand new Tom E demos as backing. Hot off the press music, indeed. The debate panel is fun, and last Friday I was roped into improvised acting as part of a bizarre sketch. I was a toyshop owner presenting three Courtney Love dolls (all male: David R-P, Ryan S and an appallingly drunk Citrone, all in Ms Cobain drag). Xavior as a townie dad and Lucinda as daughter wanting a present. To impress her, the Courtney dolls then lipsync, then perform 'Doll Parts' live, then play musical statues. Ye gods, what Nu-Romo chaos. It's the sort of thing that could only happen in Camden circa 1995... which is now Old Street / Hackney 2005.

Toying with the idea of going up to Edinburgh for a few days at the festival. Accommodation might be a problem on a zero budget, though.

The cabaret aside, I'm taking any excuse to get out of town right now. Too hot, too hot-headed. I hear a man was stabbed to death on the Holloway Road-travelling 43 bus (which I use frequently) last Friday night, purely for asking a hooded youth to stop throwing chips at him. The feeling is if the Night Lads and the bombers don't get you.... Well, they shoot electricians, don't they.

Monday, July 25th, 2005

Time:9:50 am.
Reading As You Like it. At the start of Act 4, Rosalind mocks Jacques for his grumpy affectations:

look you lisp, and wear strange suits

She appears to be accusing him of trying to be me.

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005

Subject:Narrowboats and Spaceships
Time:1:28 am.


Last week - stay a couple of days with Captain Hughes on his green and red narrow boat moored at Oxford. See photo, taken near Folly Bridge. Capt H would like to point out the actual mooring work here was carried out by himself, and that this photograph is more of my attempt to strike a manly pose while holding onto one of the the boat's rope.

He takes it down the Thames to Abingdon, and I get the chance to rope the vessel to the bank while it waits at the locks for the water level to change. It's my gentle nautical debut. Iffley Lock has two lock keepers (one wears a blue lettered jumper reading 'Assistant Lock Keeper') and a small lock keeping dog who stands on the towpath staring out the boats. When I get back to Highgate, I re-read 'Three Men In A Boat, mainly for the bits about Iffley and Abingdon. The Hampton Court Maze scene inspires me to write 'Narcissus In The Maze' for Scarlet's Well, with Martin White's music.

Saturday - catch The Would-Be-Goods and Scarlet's Well at the Water Rats. I've seen both bands a few times now, but can never take for granted a concert by these two previously studio-bound artistes I've adored for years. For me, the concert is a celebration of Ms Griffin and Mr Bid's musical existence. I am paying homage, even if I don't pay to get in. Both should be winning awards for songwriting and fearless dedication to original British pop music. Ms G is backed with other cult legends - Andy Warren (Monochrome Set / Adam and the Ants), Peter Momtchiloff (Talulah Gosh / Heavenly), Bongo Debbie (Mr Childish's Headcoatees). Ms Griffin herself looks like no amount of stifling July heat could begin to affect her delicate-yet-invulnerable BBC announcer's poise and singing voice. She does a couple of late 80s Would-Be-Goods crowd pleasers: The Camera Loves Me and Velazquez and I; but it's the achingly desolate solo rendition of Too Old, from her most recent album The Morning After, that steals the show.

Scarlet's Well are as giddy and colourful as ever, and air a new song about mermaids by Mr White, which has a particularly fantastic melody. Ms Dornan takes lead vocal on Pirate, and is rather superb at it too. Mr Bid still swears too much. Night of the Macaw is pure El Records. Bid tells me he likes the new song I've written, so I'm obviously biased.

Sunday - to brother Tom's new home studio in Radlett to record demos for the new Fosca album. Well, I say 'demos' but with unlimited studio time one may as well keep polishing, mixing, re-doing takes, trying out ideas and working on the tracks till you can't hear anything that could be improved. And if you do that, you may as well release the track properly on the album, I say. It's nice to not have the stress of being up against the studio clock, a factor which must affect the way many records turn out.

That said, if Fosca can afford to use a studio and producer with a history of making proper records, we should do, even if it's just for a few 'stand out tracks' (if not singles). Regardless, I do hope Tom can work with me more regularly now he's living closer to London. Not least because we get on, which is something one can never underestimate with producers, related or not.

He's managed to salvage a piece of our childhood from the Suffolk garage and mount it on the wall of his new home. It's a present from our artist sci-fi-loving father from when we were both small - a huge piece of hardboard, painted and cut to resemble one side of a silver Flash Gordon-like spaceship, complete with portholes and "D & T" in Roy Lichtenstein-esque lettering. We would spend many endless afternoons with it propped up in our bedroom (by our bunk beds), and pretend we were in a spaceship by sitting behind it. Tom points out today that although we couldn't see any of the painted side of the hardboard ourselves, and there was no one else in the room to watch us behind it, this didn't seem to matter. We knew we were in a spaceship together, that was enough

I can't help equating this example of unfettered, uncynical childhood faith in imagination - and the fact Tom now displays the hardboard ship over his new staircase - with our work in his studio. We go in and have creative adventures that please us both. Except this time, I want people to watch us from the painted side.

Saturday, July 16th, 2005

Time:1:03 pm.
Friday - Perform at Mr Xavior's now weekly Hanky Panky Cabaret. I decide to read selections from the eavesdroppings website Overheard In New York, my flimsy excuse being the editor is a Fosca fan.

Three selections I read out:

St Mark's between 1st & A:
Girl: I'd sleep with a big midget.
Guy: A big midget is a normal person.

Toys R U, Times Square:
Girl 1: So when I was in Italy, I went to France.
Girl 2: What did you do there?
Girl 1: I went to the Leaning Tower Of Pisa.
Girl 2: Still Italy.
Girl 1: Really?
Girl 2: Yeah. So what did you do in France?
Girl 1: I guess I didn't go to France, then.

91st & Amsterdam:
Girl 1: You know, if you think all songs are sung by a penis, they suddenly become funny.
Girl 2: You are high, you know that?

Then I sing a new number written for the band Scarlet's Well (though I don't yet know if they'll like it), 'Narcissus In The Maze'. Vamping music by Martin White, lyrics by self. Parts of it are like a Gilbert & Sullivan patter song. Rather proud of the line:

If a fop falls in the forest / does he make a sound impression on the trees?

Finish with a rendition of the Fosca song 'Rude Esperanto', self on vocals, Xavior on piano and backing vocals at end. Am also involved in a debate panel, which is a lot of fun. Questions put by the audience include 'Is Cheddar overrated?' and 'Who will kill you?'.

On the whole, rather enjoy myself and look forward to the next week; I can only get better at this sort of thing. I also use the spot as a writer's discipline tool, ordering myself to have a new song ready for the next cabaret.

Have been teetotal this past week due to dentist's antibiotics. Is it a coincidence that I've also been more creative in that week than in the past 18 months? Or recent events emphasising the 'live today, for tomorrow you may die' sensation? Am considering giving the teetotal thing a try for much longer. Only danger is, as a substitute I've been consuming more caffeine and sugar than usual. This can sometimes be good for a frantic writing pace, but renders onstage performance a little jittery to say the least.

Board a tube for the first time since the bombs last week. As it goes through Kings Cross without stopping, my stomach turns.

Thursday, July 14th, 2005

Time:11:01 pm.


Mr Shaw writes to remind me I've made an appearance in the latest edition of 'M' magazine, the business publication of the MCPS-PRS Alliance, who collect royalties for the UK music industry. It's sent to all kinds of recording artists and composers across the genre spectrum.

He suggests my readers might want to see a scan of the anecdote I was invited to recount, as part of a feature called 'My Worst Gig'. I'm next to someone from The Stranglers.

Typically, I end the story being toyed with by inebriated women rugby players with 50s quiffs. They kept singing Japan songs at me, I recall.

M Magazine also used my photo for the contents page, as scanned here.

Note that I'm by my computer, looking at a photo of myself on someone else's web diary.

The pattern of the curtains was also used on photographer Sarah Watson's business card.

She was rather taken with my curtains. The credit can only go to my tolerant landlady of 11 years.



Elsewhere, I've stumbled on a new photo of myself (below) from the site of Mr Michael Malice, who runs a successful and very amusing site of NYC eavesdroppings.

He is also the subject of a forthcoming graphic novel by Harvey Pekar, of American Splendor fame.

In the photo, I'm posing with Mr Grace from the band My Favorite, at their London gig the other week.

Mr Malice writes "this is quite possibly the gayest photo ever taken." I think I must have been in an usually silly mood.


Wednesday, July 13th, 2005

Subject:NOTICE: sponsorship sought for Edinburgh Fringe play
Time:1:54 pm.
A friend of mine, Sam Peter Jackson, is seeking sponsorship for staging his comedy drama, "Minor Irritations" at this year's Edinburgh Fringe.

If you know of someone who could help, or have any advice, please read his appeal at:

http://www.dickon-edwards.co.uk/sam-jackson.htm

Thanks.

Time:12:18 am.
I watch Closer, and rather enjoy it. Despite the explicit dialogue, it's otherwise entirely old-fashioned. Consisting mainly of couples shouting clever but cruel things at each other, it has much in common with the 60s Burton & Taylor film Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, not least the same director. Although there's many generously detailed references to sexual acts, there is no nudity, and no sex scenes. The film is about people talking in the hope of sex, people discussing the sex afterwards, and the taking down of clothes to be used in evidence against them. But the only on-screen congress is undertaken via an Internet chat room, and even that's part of a practical joke on the part of the bored (and fully clothed) Mr Law, pretending online to be female for the unwitting Mr Owen.

The dialogue may be peppered with Grade A swearing, but otherwise the characters speak in theatrical, well-honed sentences that could have come from any British 20th century playwright pre-Pinter. Mr Owen says things like "Oh, the moronic beauty of youth" about little Ms Portman, before promptly requesting her to bend over. It's George Bernard Shaw does gynaecology.

Though the film is an ensemble piece, Mr Owen steals it effortlessly from the others. I understand he is the only actor to have been in the original stage production, and it really shows. He first appears in the aforementioned Net chat room scene, when the camera pans from his PC screen to his charismatic fingers typing on the keyboard. Before we even see his face, we know instantly the film is all his. A safe pair of hands indeed.

I've not seen the stage play myself, but I have read the book. There's a particularly memorable line I was waiting for when watching the movie, only to find it's been cut. This occurs in the strip club scene, as said by Ms Portman's character (who appears to have stolen Ms Johannsen's pink bob wig from Lost In Translation). In the original play, she declares "all men really want is a girl who looks like a boy." Not so in the movie. Perhaps it was omitted because this argument-starting statement is not really discussed or developed, just thrown out as if to make people sit up in the theatre. Perhaps the writer changed his mind. It makes sense, though, as Ms Portman is not a girl who looks like a boy. She is a girl who looks very much like a little girl. In a bedtime scene with Mr Law, she jumps on the mattress as if she were his pet kitten. And very apt too, as the movie is really about possession and the battles for power in the relationships it depicts. Mr Owen's marriage is even likened to a dog and its owner by Mr Law. Some pets give the orders to their owners.

The analogy has been touched upon before in The Good Father, an excellent 80s British film about middle class CND-supporting people being unkind to each other. Its principals are Anthony Hopkins and Jim Broadbent, and though a young Stephen Fry has about two lines in it, it's a very serious film. To gain custody of their children, the men use the 'old boys' network' against their estranged wives. In their own uneasy phrase - challenging their liberal views - they have to 'jerk their leads a bit'.

Both films are engrossing and intelligent looks at anger and emotional damage in relationships. Though perhaps not recommended for watching on a first date.

Tuesday, July 12th, 2005

Time:12:47 am.
I've submitted an album review for Plan B magazine: 'Has A Good Home' by Final Fantasy. It's the solo project of Owen Pallett, violinist for umpteen Toronto bands. They said 'no word limit: it's for the web'. Regular readers will know this is something you should never ask of me. I do have a tendency to go into Alistair Cooke mode and ramble on about some broader subject that occurs to me halfway through. All very nice if you like seeing my brain flail and flounce skittishly before your eyes, but not so readable if you actually want to hear whether the album's any good.

So I gave them a more concise piece, and present the offcuts below. The Gregory's Girl quote is as remembered, so it's probably not verbatim.

=========

Perhaps there's something about the way a violin seems above the grubby indie band world. One can play it standing up, dancing about. Unless you're Mr Chuck Berry, dancing with a guitar can look very embarrassing indeed. But it's hard to look a fool with a fiddle. Is the violin the haughtiest, purest, most edifying of instruments? Would Mr Pallett's life and work be quite the same if he were playing a trombone? Did he choose the violin because it suited his character, or was his character shaped over time by being a violinist?

An instant survey suggests itself. If you have ever played a musical instrument, Dear Reader, what was the reason for picking up that specific item? Did your parents have a thing for the oboe? Why did the tilted circles and spider-like poles of the drum kit speak closest to your heart? Was the bassoon the only one left on the list, and you were late getting to class that day? Just what is it about violinists that have all the fun, that get to play the catchy bits? I'm reminded of an observation on this theme in 'Hymn' by Alan Bennett:

"An orchestra has a class system all its own, of which the strings are the aristocracy, the intellectuals the woodwind, and the proletariat the brass. The players take on the characteristics of their instruments, brass jolly and fat, clarinets and bassoons soulful and reedy, most of the raffish romantic players in the violins and cellos. Of course, it's not hard for the strings, who so often have the melody, to seem transported and full of feeling. They have none of the handicaps of the brass, and had they to stop every so often to empty the spit out of the violins, it would be a different story."

Lately I saw the unquestionably raffish and romantic Mr Pallett on the dreaded Jools Holland programme, sawing frantically away as part of The Arcade Fire. Wonderful stuff, but the perfection of the set-up did remind me of that less perfect, more decorative cliché which TV often indulges - The Rock Band Recruits A String Section. I'm thinking of the Manics playing A Design For Life on Top Of The Pops, dressing down with their own clothes but dressing the song up with a string section. Cue instant hit. Likewise The Verve with their Bittersweet Symphony, Oasis with their Wonderwall cello, and pretty much every Britpop band with a decent budget. Menswear's fourth or fifth single down the line? Time to call in the violins. Even the original version of the most recorded Beatles song, Yesterday, is dominated by a string section. Guitars be damned, most real people prefer strings, really.

Even the most token and lazily-arranged of string sections will bring a tried and trusted illusion of ingratiating sweetness against an uninspired XFM-targeted guitar sound. Even the most rotten and tuneless rock song becomes a listenable and approachable Radio 2-baiting number that your mother would allow into the house. Poor old string sections- what must they think, phoned up only when some hyped indie rock band needs a lazy, desperate stab at a chart hit? No wonder Mr P refers to his lot as a musical rent boy. A gaming boy on the game.

Another quote suggests itself, this time from the film Gregory's Girl:

"Is he still a virgin?"
"Wouldn't have thought so. He's been in the school orchestra for over a year now."


So, if we're all agreed that string arrangements in rock are usually a Good Thing, why not sack the dreary old guitar band and let the string section write the songs?

This may be one reason why the Final Fantasy album is a record so instantly classic-sounding, yet still tangential and clandestine.

Sunday, July 10th, 2005

Time:11:58 pm.
I'm tending to leave announcements of my events to the Fosca or DE mailing lists, so if you're interested in not missing out, Dear Reader, do go and sign up at www.fosca.com or www.dickon-edwards.co.uk.

Next Friday and every week after that (until further notice) I've got the following intriguing little residency.

LONDON - Every Friday night from July 15th.

Hanky Panky Cabaret.
9pm to Midnight at Bistrotheque, 23-27 Wadeson Street, E2.
Transport: tubes- Bethnal Green; Old St plus 55 Bus; Liverpool St plus 26 Bus. Rail - Cambridge Heath Rd.

Entrance is Free.

Mr Edwards will be part of the general cabaret goings-on, trying out
new spoken word and song ideas.

More info at:
http://ebeau.co.uk/hp.htm


It's all the work of Mr Xavior. He plans panel games and debates, and chat-show bits. A bit like on the radio or TV, but in a Bethnal Green bar. I'm doing it partly to shake myself into a creative and performance routine, and mostly because it sounds like fun.

Subject:Abi Titmuss and The New Fake Narcissism
Time:9:36 pm.
Watch a documentary about the rise of Ms Abi Titmuss, a youngish blonde cypher of a woman whose face and body regularly dominate the UK tabloid press and men's magazine covers at time of writing. The curious thing is, she admits to being a fraud as a celebrity and a fraud as a model. Her position, such as it is, is because she has realised how to make an enormous amount of money very quickly, doing fairly easy things and have a rather nice time doing it. It's an opportunity that she'd glimpsed as the girlfriend of a famous man, then pursued with the dedication and relentless tenacity of a zealot. The tabloid spotlight first hit her as The Girlfriend of Mr X, while she was still working as a nurse in a London hospital, earning much less money for much less fun. The day she decided to get a PR person of her own, quit her job and 'do' fame, she felt she'd 'paid her dues' to the world, and wanted something more.

I can't possibly blame her for that. But I'm just not convinced the hospital's loss is really the media's gain, and I don't think she is either.

There are accidental celebrities, those who do something successfully enough that their name is known to millions of strangers, but who accept the fame as a necessary side-effect. Then there are deliberate celebrities, who actively enjoy and encourage the trappings of fame, but also like there to be something to point to by way of explanation for the attention-seeking. A song, a book, a film, a TV series. Something to qualify them. These two types have existed since the invention of showbusiness. It's only recently that I believe a third category has come into being, of which Ms Titmuss is very much a member: disposable celebrities.

It's an oxymoronic tag. If you can earn money from being a famous Name alone, that surely suggests you can't be undone. But with Ms Titmuss, she admits she is not unique, that it will be over sooner rather than later. Blonde women willing to be photographed are not in short supply, and she has not made herself into anything more than a blonde woman with a name. Fame itself doesn't really suit her. In one interview, she tries to say what she does for a living. She can barely describe herself as a model, though that's what she technically is, because she says she doesn't feel like a model. So you'd think she'd have something interesting to say about the nature of modern celebrity, about mass sexuality, about why she does it - money aside. But no. Money aside, there really seems to be no other interest in fame for her. It's just a job she can do which is better paid than nursing. I'm fascinated and appalled at the same time.

If a celebrity gets on a train full of great thinkers and scientists, and the train crashes, the newspapers will report their name first. That's what fame means. At the time of the tsunami disaster, one newspaper devoted its front page to an unsmiling photo of the great director and actor Richard Attenborough, because he'd lost his granddaughter in the tragedy. Other bereaved grandfathers were not given a look-in. Even when the great anti-showbiz DJ John Peel died, there were photographers at the funeral service poised to snap celebrities in attendance. The implication being, if a celebrity is involved with an event, the event is somehow elevated - even death or disaster. It can only be a matter of time before there is a publication devoted to funerals attended by celebrities: inevitably called Goodbye! Magazine.

During the BBC TV coverage of the Live 8 concert, a blonde woman called Ferne Cotton was employed to ask inane questions of celebrities in the backstage area, helpfully mentioning the word 'amazing' in every other sentence. The cameras cut away from a glimpse of exiled Zimbabwean singer Thomas Mapfumo at the Eden Project concert, in order for Ms Cotton to speak to Neil Morrissey.

Friday, July 8th, 2005

Subject:Only In London
Time:2:23 pm.
Spend the late afternoon of the London bomb attacks in the Archway Tavern, with London friends old and new. Including David Barnett, now of the band The Boyfriends, who was one of the first Londoners I befriended when I moved here in 1994.

It's the pub featured on the sleeve of "Muswell Hillbillies" (left) by that sine qua non of London bands, The Kinks. Today there's a few less flat caps and few more Archway waifs with fantastic hair, but it's otherwise unchanged. The album photo was taken in 1971, the year of my birth. My parents may have chosen to bring up children in Suffolk, but they met as students in the capital, living in Blackheath while Dad worked at an art bookshop in the Charing Cross Road. Consequently I've always thought I had London in my DNA. London brought them together, so London made me.

Ms Seaneen is at the pub, and hands me a CD of Bonzo Dog and Viv Stanshall songs. More Only In London types.

Today, as late yesterday, there's a rather moving spirit in the air, celebrating the better qualities of the city and its people. Anger is the first emotion - anger at terrorists targeting public transport, where politicians never, ever go (unless there's an accident to be photographed at). The people who suffer are those who can't afford to get taxis or be driven about with security guards.

But that passes - perhaps more quickly than in other cities. London doesn't like to get too sentimental for too long about things - Liverpool rather has the monopoly on that. One silver lining, apart from the cancellation of a ghastly Queen concert, is how people are recognising the capital in 2005 as a paradigm of unfussy optimism. Of annoyed sighs, but of adapting and getting on with making things better. Where that infamous English aloofness and fear of social embarrassment mixes with the capital's international embrace, forming a unique resolve all its own. The strange convenience of the bus exploding directly outside the British Medical Association - where the nation's top doctors raced outside to help. World convenience alongside frustrating inconvenience - another very London formula.

I think of the men on the platform at Old Street the other week who giggled at my appearance as I passed, shaking their heads and saying "Only in London. Only in London." They didn't mean it nastily, and I didn't take it nastily. I'm now prouder than ever of that particular cat-call.

I'm in the mood for a Kinks song. A band that can be wry, sarcastic and satirical with one glance, then sincere and poignant (in a perfectly pitched tone similar to Ken Livingstone's recent speech about the bombings) with another. Very London indeed.

Waterloo Sunset is far too obvious. Instead, here's a lesser-known early 80s song of theirs, Better Things. Perfect for today. It even made me cry when I played it just now. But without being too silly about it.

Chin chin, you dirty old city.

Be an optimist instead,
And somehow happiness will find you.
Forget what happened yesterday,
I know that better things are on the way.
It's really good to see you rocking out
And having fun,
Living like you just begun.
Accept your life and what it brings.
I hope tomorrow you'll find better things.
I know tomorrow you'll find better things.

Thursday, July 7th, 2005

Time:11:12 am.
I'm entirely safe and unharmed here in Highgate. Sorry to disappoint you, Unkind Reader. Woken up by a phone call from my father checking I was okay.

It's just as well that I'm in a not-going-out-in-London mood at the moment. After a series of bomb attacks in town, London Transport has been pretty much closed down for the time being (tempting the Dorothy Parker quote about the dead president - 'How can you tell?').

The bombs were initially reported as 'power surges' on the Tube. Later it transpires this was an accidental interpretation rather than a deliberate euphemism, but at the time I assume the latter, and muse if this is the 2005 terrorist equivalent of the theatre fire signal, 'Mr Sands is in dressing room 3.' Anything rather than shouting 'Fire!'

It seems silly at first, even insulting and deceptive, but when the level of panic alone can make a difference to casualties, one has to admit it makes sense.

The only time I understand you are meant to actually cry 'Help! Fire!' is when you're being raped or mugged. The psychology of alarm.

Two pictures on the news take me aback before I turn off. One is a dark, cave-like photo of people walking along Tube tunnels. The other is of splattered bloodstains halfway up the wall of the BMA building in Tavistock Square. The stains are level with the top deck of the exploded bus.

Sunday, July 3rd, 2005

Time:4:08 pm.
Bill Gates speaking on eliminating poverty from the world, onstage at the Live 8 event -

"The best thing that humanity has even done... And now, Dido."

Friday, July 1st, 2005

Subject:DE's Music Club - Cursor Miner plus Animated Video
Time:12:48 pm.
Something cheering. Today's mp3 offering is 'Library', a fantastic song by Cursor Miner, released far too quietly in December 2003.

It's a bouncy, impossibly catchy and entirely sincere laptop-synthpop song with rough-boy vocals, all about how wonderful public libraries are. Possibly the only track regularly played at Kash Point that could also feature in a children's educational programme. Dedicated to all the gorgeous librarians among my readership. As Mr Miner says, their kind are indeed 'often sexy'. Though perhaps not in the case of Mr Philip Larkin.

There's also a terrific animated video to go with the song, which I thoroughly urge you to watch.

Cursor Miner plays in London tonight, at Club Hemisphere. I shall attend before going onto Mr Price's Stay Beautiful.

the library the library
it's a place where books are free
the library the library
it's a lot better than watching tv

there's sections about almost everything
you'll always find something you're interested in
plate techtonics or embroidery
michael portillo or the banyan tree

the library the library
it's a place where books are free
the library the library
librarians are often sexy

Time:1:51 am.
A thought-provoking comment from Momus, made while he was railing against the state of 2005 London:

I admire your dandyism, I think you're basically what people become in Britain when they remain defiantly defensive of basic aesthetic values. But I think the danger is the same as the danger of being a satirist: there's a possibility that you become nothing more than the mirror image of the things you hate and revile, a walking challenge to the challenge. And there are so many other things you could be, in so many other cities. You might even find that there are places where people think, dress and feel as you do, and that it's nice to be part of a community rather than some sort of stubborn sacrificial lamb out on an increasingly fragile limb.

Granted, he was speaking from the point of view of a Grumpy Old Ex-Pat passing through the capital, seeking evidence to fit his argument. But it has made me think. I've lived in this one room in North London since February 1994. It was Bristol before that, Suffolk before that. I always loved the idea of living in London when I was growing up, and regard it as a kind of ambition realised in itself. But have I now been here too long? Are all my current problems just symptoms that the moss is beginning to choke? How can I know if somewhere else is better for me right now, unless I up sticks and see for myself?

I always admired Mr Quentin Crisp's ability to live in a Chelsea bedsit for most of his life, but then he was really waiting until he could afford to move to New York. I am not and will never be Mr Crisp. Thank goodness - I'd have to say nice things about Mrs Thatcher and unkind things about music, and I'd have to happily speak on the phone instead of using email. I detest speaking on the phone; particularly in these mobile-dominated days where most callers have to shout against traffic noise, and then the signal breaks up. Added to which most calls to my landline number are by automated recordings of Americans trying to sell me something. Thank you, Alexander Graham Bell.

Which is where you find me tonight, Dear Reader. Considering my life, feeling too tired too often, feeling every one of my 33 years and more, feeling that I will never be anything more than too many people's Less Close Friend (another possible song title...), that people drift in and out of my life with their Dickon Edwards phases. I have one of those too - it's just lifelong.

And still no closer to finding and retaining An Appropriate Source Of Regular Income. I need something to get me out of this turgid, soporific, failing state where every waking hour is spent just wanting to go back to bed. Lately, I've found myself ashamedly spending energy trying to get out of clubs, gigs and gatherings I've been invited to, plumping for an Unquiet Night In. I realise it's rather hard to elicit sympathy for that, Dear Reader.

'Poor Mr Edwards. He gets invited to too many London parties. It must be awful for him.'

I could say I enjoy being alone, but that's clearly not true either.

But what is it I need? A Sex Life? A Proper Relationship? Or could it be A Move? Certain cities suggest themselves: Edinburgh, Oxford, Brighton, Toronto, NYC, perhaps even Gothenburg or Stockholm. I've still not even been to NYC or Toronto.

Right now, I do feel weighed down by the might of my life's To Do list. Where to start? And I feel weighed down by this room's decade of accumulated possessions. Evidence of time passed rather than a life lived.

My mother told me the other day, 'If there's something troubling you, you either do something about it, or you stop worrying about it and accept it.'

So, I must do something. But oh - the effort!

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

Time:3:59 am.
To darkest East London for Andy Roberts's funeral on a day of sunshine, lightning and eventually Biblical rain. Someone I used to see around is no longer around. Underlying sense of horror in the air, which I'm not prepared for. I've been to funerals before, but those were for my grandparents, both elderly. Death is not the great leveller if someone has died far too young, in a road accident. There is normal grief, and there is shock-grief.

It's hard to say things like 'superb turn-out', and 'fantastic service' without sounding like you're actually envying the deceased, or judging a life by counting heads at a funeral, but those two things are certainly true, and it's proof that Mr R was certainly famous for more than 15 people. Touching, beautiful and poetic tributes, and an Order of Service that comes with a pull-out comics supplement - comics by Mr R, of course. A terrific touch.

I repair to a pub in Limehouse for the wake, drink too much and say too much. At once point I start a sentence with the Freudian slip 'My boyfriend's girlfriend...'. (meaning to say 'my brother's girlfriend') Possibly a title for a song. Music played at the wake includes the Hidden Cameras excellent b-side 'Heavy Flow Of Evil'.

Walking my way up from East Ham tube, I turn a corner too sharply and collide with a large Asian gentleman whose swagger involves swinging his arms. The result is his hand connects directly with my crotch as I pass. He apologises at once, and of course so do I. As I think John Cleese put it, England is where you say sorry to the person treading on your foot.

At the funeral, I relate this incident to Tim Chipping. He imagines the man being far more horrified than I, rushing home to scrub his fingers at once. To some minds I must resemble the sort of person who would rather enjoy such a collision, or even arrange it deliberately. All I can say is it's the closest thing I've had to a sex life for some time.

Sunday, June 26th, 2005

Time:2:51 pm.
A Poem for Glastonbury by Dickon Edwards

Pictures of teenagers wallowing in E.coli
Make me feel so terribly lone-li

Saturday, June 25th, 2005

Time:3:58 am.
An email from yet another Swedish Fosca fan:

I was wondering if Fosca was planning to do any Stockholm dates in the near future?
I know that you went to Gothenburg and Malmo, but that's a bit far away from here.


Well, we'd love to play Stockholm right now, but like any gig outside of London, until we get an international booking agent and decent support from a record label, we have to be asked by a promoter over there.

It's not like this sort of request is like some lone fan writing:
'When are you going to play my home town of Tinyville, Ohio? You've cruelly overlooked it so far'
(Answer: Because you would be the only person in the audience!)

But with Sweden, Fosca do have this intense little following, and the emails from that part of the world do keep coming. I can't help thinking that, with a decent professional Swedish-compatible agent and record company behind us, we could even be having proper hits over there. That we've played Sweden five times entirely due to fans becoming promoters of their own volition, investing much of their own time and money, purely in order to see us play must surely count for something.

I did hear of a travelling music festival that Plan B magazine was affiliated with, calling at Stockholm and Gothenburg. Perfect for Fosca, so I emailed the people at once. Turns out the chap in charge is a kind Englishman I've met years ago, Mr Gooch. But too late - the bill's full.

All I can suggest to Swedish fans out there is to put the name of Fosca forward to local promoters and festival organisers. Approach them to approach us, and we'll do it.

At least now Fosca have a manager. And we're looking into getting merchandise made. Badges, bookmarks and pens. Not t-shirts, though, obviously.

Onwards and upwards.

Time:3:23 am.
Some people enjoyed the My Favorite song I shared with the world the other day, so here's another offering from a Current Music Artiste I like.

This time, a brand new video offering from Toronto's Gentleman Reg, aka the ultra-blond singer-songwriter Mr Reg Vermue. Mr Vermue is part of that entrancing Toronto scene that includes Arcade Fire, Hidden Cameras, and Final Fantasy. In Canada, he's appeared on the radio and on the cover of magazines, and has provided several songs for the soundtrack of the US TV series Queer As Folk.

I liked his last album Make Me Pretty so much that last year I got out of bed and did something about it. I helped to organise his first UK live dates, even getting to play 2nd guitar for him onstage.

This video is for The Boyfriend Song, from his latest album Darby & Joan. It appears to be entirely filmed in someone's flat via 'night vision', rendering it rather like a scene from Big Brother. All kinds of naughty goings-on in the background, but poor Mr Vermue can only look on with his acoustic guitar and sensible jumper. A familiar predicament indeed.

http://www.mymeanmagpie.com/boyfriendsong.html

Friday, June 24th, 2005

Time:7:59 pm.
Wednesday 22nd June - A historic date for some. The head of the UK Civil Service announces the wearing of ties as no longer mandatory for male employees. As long as they're still smart, office boys and men alike can now wear their shirts open-necked as they oil the cogs of government. Must be a relief for those suffering under the current heatwave in offices built before the invention of air conditioning.

It may just be the Civil Service, but I suspect the trickle-down effect for the world of work will be ineluctable. When a similar guideline was made with bowler hats in the past, the trademark headwear of the English businessman soon disappeared from the streets and onto the naughty head of Ms Minnelli in Cabaret.

I personally welcome this news. Soon, when a man is seen in public wearing a tie, he will no longer be accused of having come straight from work. Tie-wearers will at last be deliberate tie-wearers. All ties will be nice ties, not ugly arrows of drudgery.

This apparently follows an industrial tribunal where a man claimed the forcing of ties upon male workers but not their female colleagues was tantamount to sexual discrimination. He won. The times are indeed a-slightly-changing.

==========

In the afternoon with Ms Silke to see the excellent Batman Begins at the North Finchley Lido VUE. Tickets are 2 for the price of 1 - a welcome discount due to my ownership of a Orange phone. Orange are one of those curious companies who pay to admit their product can be thoroughly annoying, at least when used without consideration for others. Their adverts are getting a bit annoying in themselves, though. Don't let a mobile phone spoil your ad break, I say.

There's currently a campaign to promote UK cinema going, as opposed to DVD renting at home. I certainly agree that watching Lord Of The Rings on a small screen really isn't the same experience as seeing it at a proper Odeon, but I have some suggestions to make to cinema chains if they want to increase ticket sales.

Firstly, please make the outing more affordable. The Orange Wednesdays thing helps, but what about the food and drink? A Coke and a packet of popcorn for more than the price of the cinema ticket? To me that's a profit margin worthy of investigation by a trading watchdog, but it's been like that for years.

Secondly, O Cinema Manager, if you want to save on your overheads, how about replacing the sound system with a cheaper, older one that doesn't physically assault me? Sometimes the rush to upgrade can go too far. After all, digital watches didn't quite replace the analogue variety. New doesn't always mean better.

My father has to take earplugs to the cinema, and I may follow suit if this goes on. Do people really appreciate surround Dolby sound at immense volume? The other day in a cinema I had my ears blasted apart and my seat submitted to intense shaking every other moment. And that was just Ladies In Lavender.

Still, I'm grateful for the air conditioning.

Dickon Edwards - Diary At The Centre Of The Earth.

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