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Blog: The Actress & Bishop

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I had a spare half day's annual leave to take before the end of September, so on Friday i TOOK it, and thus got on the 14.20 Chiltern Railways train to Birmingham Snow Hill, leaving from Marylebone. I've said it before and will now say it again: it's SO much nicer going to Birmingham this way. YES it takes a bit longer than the Virgin Trains, but only about half an hour (and the Virgin train STILL takes a ludicrous 2 hours to get to our Second City from our First, is STUPID), and it COSTS about a THIRD the price (£18 for an open return!!). ALSO you get to go FROM Marylebone, which is a lovely station, TO Snow Hill, as opposed to FROM Euston (London's LEAST pleasant station) TO New Street (THE WORST PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE). It's lovely!

ALSO fairly lovely was wondering through Birmingham. I was a bit alarmed at first as I thought I'd stumbled on a major crime scene, as there were loads of COPS everywhere... then realised I was going past the police station. AHA! It's a funny old place though Birmingham, it's like a SIM-CITY town where someone's got the cheat codes and put EVERYTHING all on top of each other. It makes NO sense whatsoever.

THUS I walked out of an old 70's railyway station, through a skyscraper, into a PLAZA, then past some factories, a Victorian Police Station, a hospital that looked as if 15 different REALITIES had crashed on top of each other, over a 60's flyover and straight into OPEN FIELDS and a LAKE! This last bit was the campus for Aston University. I'd booked a room in their Conference Centre via Late Rooms, and was expecting to be staying in an unoccupied Student Room, but found myself in an INCREDIBLY plush room. It was all a bit weird tho, it was part of the University Business School so was a BUSINESS HOTEL, as imagined by UNIVERSITY LECTURERS.

This meant that the ROOM was really plush, but the TV only had 5 terrestial channels - Business People have no time for TELLY!! Check-out was at 9.30am, as Business People need to get to BUSINESS! There was access to FITNESS CENTRES, as Business People need to be FIT... but it was the student swimming pool, and you needed vouchers to use it. ALSO it was staffed by giggling students, who were lovely, but very very giggly, or,in the evening, EXTREMELY SURLY members of the Estates Department.

It was VERY cheap tho, and VERY nice - I would recommend it, especially as I seemed to be the only person staying there!

Having left work extra early I had a SMASHING couple of hours sat around reading, doing PUZZLER PUZZLES and watching Telly before I had to head off into town to The Actress & Bishop, where I'd been invited to play with The Graham Parsnip Liquidiser Torture Think Tank (revival) - formerly The Graham Parsnip Liquidiser Torture Think Tank (project), but they'd briefly split up and so the project became a revival instead.

I was met at the door by Jon Bon Jovi, who turned out a) to be a lovely chap b) a new member of The Graham Parsnip Liquidiser Torture Think Tank (revival) and c) a lovely chap with MANY ideas about cooking. We went upstairs and met everyone else, did our soundchecks, got some beer and were pretty much ready to GO.

On the way there I'd seen a bloke coming out of an underpass (these are LEGION in Brum) carrying a guitar. I thought "I wonder if he's going to the same place as me?" He WAS, and he was the first act on. It wasn't my sort of thing - he was MUMBLING incomprehensibly between songs, then bursting into that GRUNTING YELPING noise that some people think conveys SOUL and BEING FROM NEW ORLEANS or something, singing the usual stuff about skies being high, and, furthermore, why? NORMALLY I don't like to go on about that sort of thing on the blog, and if I don't like something try not to mention it, but I was REALLY annoyed with the fact that he'd brought some MATES with him who'd SEEMED to quite like my first song... only to be IMMEDIATELY taken downstairs by him. I wouldn't have minded so much if he hadn't come back just before the end of my set to pick up his gear, making clear that he didn't have any urgent appointments or anything, he just didn't want to listen to anyone else.

ANYWAY, this is what I did in the aforementioned SET:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • I Did A Gig In New York
  • Red & White Sockets
  • The Gay Train
  • We're Old And We're Tired (and we want to go home)
  • Fucking Hippy
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • It felt strangely LIBERATING to be doing songs NOT from the show, and I really rather enjoyed myself. It was quite a noisy room, and not everyone was too bothered about listening to me, but i don't mind that - i only mind when it's someone who I've sat patiently and listened to for half an hour! - and instead concentrated on playing to the people who did want to listen, of whom there were SEVERAL, and had a GRATE time. This may sound like an obvious policy to anyone else, but it really is something I appear to have LEARNT from going to Edinburgh - rather than getting PETULANT and UPSET, remember some people have ASKED you to come and play, and play to them. I did, and it was lovely!

    Even better, though, was getting to see The Graham Parsnip (etc.) afterwards, who were AMAZING. They're one of those bands, like The Lovely Brothers, in fact, who are so JOLLY, fun to watch, and full of WIT and HUMOUR that you FORGET that they are HUGELY TERRIFIC and ROCKING in The Live Environment. That were absolutely FANTASTIC, making a COLOSSAL noise, having a GRATE time with the audience, and generally exuding GOOD TIMES.

    Shortly afterwards I walked back to my Lush Countryside Residence with a HUGE GRIN plastered all over my face - that was BRILLIANT!

    posted 31/8/2008 by MJ Hibbett

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