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Blog Archive: December 2011

Up To And Including The 29th Day Of December
A very merry 29th Day of December! We know a song about that, don't we?



Why, it's as true this year as it was... er... last year, for LO! there has been a GRATE deal of sitting around and watching telly since last we spoke, also ACTIVITIES. The Words In My Dictionary and I had a DAY OUT just before Other People's Christmas, when we went to the Samuel Johnson HOUSE in London (it was ACE), and then I spent a DELIGHTFUL couple of days at my parents' watching TELLY. "We never do this normally" said my Mum, as we REVELLED in SOFAs and DRAMA, but we also did the sort of thing people only do in newspaper articles i.e. played CARDS and CHARADES! No, really, we totally did - the fact that I'd had CHAMPAGNE and WHISKY by 10am probably helped the jollity along!

Since returning to London there's been great events on the ROCK front too, as I've spent many hours packing PROMO copies of the album. I posted THE LOT yesterday, though not without some difficulties - I went all the way into London Town to post a pile of them through The Secret BBC Window... only to find that The Secret BBC Window was SHUT for "Corporation Day", their extra day's Christmas leave. ARGH! NONE of the SEVERAL BBC buildings I visited would take them, so I had to stomp all the way home and affix STAMPS instead. Still, after the many and various HURDLES we've faced with getting the album MADE this was but a small bump and they're all safely on the way now.

Today's job is a trip to look at the THAMES BARRIER (ZANG!) and then, from tomorrow, I expect to be spending the next month frantically SELF-GOOGLING and reading radio playlists. For LO! Dinosaur Planet is about the hit THE MEDIA - we can only hope that THE MEDIA can take take it!

posted 29/12/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Melford Road Boxing Day
Happy Melford Road Boxing Day to one and all, for LO! last night we had... well, obviously, Melford Road Christmas Day round at CHEZ NOUS.

This is a DELIGHTFUL tradition which arose several years ago to counter the FACT that myself and The Baubles On My Tree tend to end up going to respective FAMILY for Christmas. We realised we could have our OWN Christmas Day whenever we liked... so we DO, and it is BRILLO. The shops are still open, you can choose your own specials and movies to watch, AND you get everybody else's Christmas Day TOO a few days later!

This year we had the traditional INCREDIBLY MASSIVE TEA cooked by myself, although this time I finally GAVE IN and DIDN'T cook a massive pile of Roast Parsnips which I would then end up eating MYSELF for the rest of the year. Presents were exchanged in the gap between Roast Potatoes and STUFFING going in the hour, and DRINK was VERY MUCH drunk. As was i - OHO! And, for a grand finale, our Christmas Movie was "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming", which was EXCELLENT.

The STRANGE thing though is putting the telly on today and thinking "EH? Why is everyone going on about Christmas shopping, it's a bit late now isn't it?" or popping down to the post office to send some more copies of Dinosaur Planet out and wondering why there were so many people about... and, indeed, how come the post office was open. It's all lovely though, and we've still got a) LEFTOVERS b) "Planes Trains And Automobiles" to look forward to tonight! Merry Melford Road Boxing Day everyone, and a Happy Melford Road New Year!

posted 22/12/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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At Last - Otway!
It's been a KRAZY BUSY couple of weeks, what with Germany and Albums and Mailouts and Gigs and Christmas and wotnot, which means I have been rather DELAYED doing the latest episode of the Totally Acoustic podcast. However, after a lengthy LISTENING session last night (while doing my Christmas wrapping) it is finally finished and ready for downloading right here!

It was lovely sitting listening to Otway's full set, he really is BLOODY GRATE, and it was also rather jolly to be reminded of the KEY JANGLING that we did during the theme tune, which comes out DEAD Christmassy! Go on, have a listen, it's ACE!

posted 21/12/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Ready To Be On Holiday Now
I've been up to all sorts of Christmassy Fun this past week, as I gradually become even LESS willing to go to Actual Work. HURRY UP SANTA!

At the weekend myself and The Towns In My Country went up to the Midlands to see our pals The Bates's. We had a LOVELY time, especially when we went to see The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum in Lichfield. Their eldest daughter was considering NOT going to a kids' party and coming with the adults instead, so asked what we were going to do. "We're going to a MUSEUM!" we enthused. She looked unimpressed, so we added "It's about DICTIONARIES!!! And if there's time, we might go and look at a Cathedral!!!!"

Amazingly she went to the party instead. STRANGE. Still, the museum was ACE - i do love a Museum Of One Thing, and this was an EXCELLENT example, with JUST enough interesting stuff to WOW yr BRANE, but not too much to give you Museum Back Ache. Half an hour in and out: EXCELLENT.

On SUNDAY we had RELATIVES round, and were honoured to a performance by Legendary Covers Band MJ TRIBBUT. They'd changed their line-up a bit (i.e. two nephews weren't there, so replacement nephew and niece were drafted in) but remained EXCELLENT, and we had a MIGHTY SINGALONG to The 29th Day Of December and I Got You What You Want For Christmas. I think there should be MORE bands covering ME, i like it a LOT!

Feeling we had not had ENOUGH Christmas singing The Tinsel On My Tree and I then went to our local CHURCH of a CAROL SERVICE. We'd seen it advertised when we did that Blitz Walk a few weeks ago and decided to have a go, and MY WORD i'm glad we did, tho it DID make me understand Religious Intolerance a bit more. A few weeks ago we went to a CATHOLIC advent service, and I had BRISTLED with ISSUES relating: "They changed the words to The Lords Prayer!" i RAGED. "And I didn't know most of the songs! And the ones i DID know, they changed the words!"

Nestling in the welcoming HUG of The Church Of England, however, I felt much more at home. The CORRECT words (sorry, THE POPE)! Songs I knew! And a general air of RAMSHACKLE fudging things together! There was a constant RACKET of kids mucking about at the back and the occasional TODDLER pummeling down the nave with Harrassed Parent in HOT PURSUIT, various GAGS, Children's choirs, haphazard organ playing, and a MASSIVE CHRISTMAS TREE that has somehow been SHOEHORNED into the event. I don't think it was necessarily the most scripturally EXACTING event, but I loved it.

And in typical Christmas fashion, as well as laughs and Feeling At Home, there was SADNESS too. As (i think) usual we finished with "Oh Come All You Faithful" and I was suddenly reminded of all the other carol services I'd been to at my Nan Bertie's church when I was little, and all the fun my Grandad had had dressing up as Santa and LARKING about - he was born on Christmas day, and was never very far from LARKING ABOUT anyway. When you're TINY Christmas is meant to be just a time for presents and fun, but the older you get the more you realise how many people aren't THERE any more, and though the memory of them makes everything MORE special, i reckon, it doesn't half involve a lot more MANLY SNIFFLING.

I sniffled all the way home, in the cold, holding on to The Arms Of My Hugging, Christmassed up to the MAX. What do you mean I've got to keep coming to work until the end of the week?

posted 20/12/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Hey There Emo Boy
On Thursday night I headed out to END my year of gigs exactly as I had started, by playing at The Fox & Firkin in Lewisham. That night me and Steve were making our triumphant return with 'Dinosaur Planet', this time it was just me, although I did have some copies of the album to sell.

There weren't many people there when I arrived, and there weren't by the time I went on either - I did think to myself "Hasn't this happened before? Aren't ALL my End Of Year gigs a bit MUTED?" It took me a long while to realise that MAYBE this is to do with the fact that it's CHRISTMAS and people tend to have other things that they have to be doing rather than sloping off to gigs!

One of the nice things about it being a bit quiet was that I ended up sitting chatting to Carl TwoBob for most of the night - Carl organises gigs at the Fox & Firkin and although I've known him for YEARS one or both of us has tended to be dashing around sorting stuff out. Turns out he is ACE!

Anyway, it soon came to SHOWTIME, and this is the SHOW what i did:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • A Little Bit
  • Please Don't Eat Us
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • I'd thought about slipping in some Christmas Songs, but it didn't really feel right - people were there just for a chat and a beer, so I thought I'd stick to a fairly normal set. When I began there was a table right next to the stage who were talking LOUDLY - I dreaded a repeat of the last time me and Steve were there, when things descended into an ARGUMENT with people who would not shut up, but this lot very sensibly decided to go and sit somewhere else where they could hear themselves. Well done them!

    At the beginning people weren't really that bothered, but I plugged on and gradually the group who'd been crowded round a laptop with their back to me turned round, the people playing pool stopped to watch, and gently, oh so gently, they were gathered in. It Only Works Because You're here seemed to get everyone INTRIGUED, which worked out rather nicely for what was to come.

    For LO! Just at the EXACT MOMENT that I launched into the "Hey there Emo Boy" section of Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid, four ACTUAL EMO BOYS walked past the stage on the way to the smoking garden. I realised what was happening as they did, and bless them but they WAVED in recognition as I chuckled through the words. The whole audience was AGHAST - someone actually asked later on whether I'd orchestrated it!

    It was a BEAUTIFUL MOMENT which, yet again, shows that even a slow night where nobody's there on purpose can provide gigantic moments of JOY. I finished the song, finished the set, finished my beer and strode out into the night.

    It was my 79th gig, and to be honest I would quite like to get to EIGHTY if at all possible, but if I don't at least I'll have that memory of SERENDIPITY to round the year out!

    posted 19/12/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Validators Tour Germany: Part Three
    It was a significantly subdued bunch of Validators who found themselves in the Dresden hostel's breakfast room (which, of course, had a Mezzanine) the day after our long night of ROCK. It was AGES since any of us had been in a hostel, so it was a bit surprising to be reminded that you needed to wash up your dishes afterwards. Kati and Ulrikka clearly saw we weren't really up to it, and helped us - even the fact that we had our STOLLEN PRIZE wasn't enough to ROUSE us as yet.

    We struggled back round to Ostpol, where Wickes were already gathered. The resemblance of two of them to Simon & Garfunkel had already been noted, and so I was treated to the sight of Art Garfunkel riding Paul Simon round a car park whilst singing a word perfect version of 'Patio Song' by Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - INCLUDING the Welsh bits. I don't remember THAT being in Mr A Yentob's documentary.

    Skint & Demoralised arrived straight after us, and our hearts went out to Matt The Singer, who said "I was really worried about us being late and holding everyone up." They were there TEN MINUTES after the stated time, and NOBODY was anywhere NEAR ready to set off yet - it's not very rock and roll to be so cautious about upsetting other people's travel plans, but it WAS in fact BLOODY LOVELY.

    At this point we also noted Martin perched precariously on a STONE BANNISTER, trying to look inside the venue to see if his record box was still there. I felt unequal to the task of standing on the GROUND, so admired his bravery.

    The rest of The Validators got in the car with Kati and Ulrikka, whilst I got into a VAN with Skint & Demoralised, leaving Martin to wait for the venue to open so he could check for his records, also for The Lovely Eggs. I got myself in the FRONT for the drive back, leaving S&D to get all SNUGGLED UP TOGETHER in the back (NB I have a LOVELY picture of this event) while I had a snooze. I got back just after The Vlads and we had a very sophisticated TEA and STOLLEN break.

    I think it was around this time that the FUNNIEST THING ALL TOUR occurred: I cut the Stollen up to share, and me, Tom and Frankie all took a piece. "I think I'll have a crisp sandwich instead," said Tim.

    "TIM!" said Frankie. "The BAND are eating STOLLEN!!" "You're RUINING OUR HOLIDAY!" I added, and Tim capitulated. Then we LARFED. REALLY A LOT. It may not seem THAT hilarious now, but goodness me it was at the time.

    After various SHOWERS we headed off to the venue, stopping off on the way to look at a MACABRE SIGHT that Tim had spotted earlier - a gravestone with NAME and BIRTH DATE on it... but NO DEATH DATE. "They must be waiting to see if she'll live to the New Year", said Tim.

    It took us AGES to find Gretchen, the venue - I hadn't got a street number, and though we found a handy POSTER in the street, that didn't help much as the HOUSES didn't have numbers, and there was no SIGN. Eventually we heard DRUMS SOUNDCHECKING round the back of some buildings and forced our way in through the fire escape. Other people managed to get in the FRONT!

    It was a MASSIVE place - 700-1000 capacity, apparently - and the dressing room ALONE was far bigger than most places I've ever played. We did some Olympic Level LURKING AROUND for a bit, all still feeling a little delicate, before enjoying the HEMP BEER provided. I thought it was rather nice, but others found it a bit WEIRD. We also played a game of "What Publican Are You?" This was achieved by taking it in turns to stand behind the bar and... er... see what sort of publican your looked like. It was kicked off by Tim CLEARLY being BORN to run a country pub, then Tom turned out to be serving cocktails, Frankie was clearly a Regular who'd been left in charge for five minutes, and I... well, I looked (AND FELT) like a Divorcee who'd blown all his Redundancy Money on a pub which he didn't know how to run, and had regretted it ever since. Clearly I belong on the CUSTOMER side of the bar.

    Standard Fare arrived, all the way from GLASGOW, and there were SOUNDCHECKS with a very STERN sound man. I found him a bit TOO stern, but it was probably just the language difference. He DID keep telling Tom to turn the violin down... which, of course, UPSET ME NO END.

    TEA was provided in the form of PEA SOUP (with or without SAUSAGE) which was dead nice, and soon it was SHOWTIME once more. First on were H Hawkline aka 60% of Wickes, who were ACE, before The Lovely Eggs and then US! I think we did rather well in terms of AUDIENCE SIZE - there were roughly as many people in as there had been the night before in Dresden, but it FELT a bit less due to the size of the room. By the time we got on people had all ARRIVED and been brought forward by The Eggs, though afterwards they gently leaked out a bit - I think this was PROBABLY due to it being SUNDAY and Quite Late, rather than us forcing them away!

    For LO! I think we were ACTUALLY ALL RIGHT! Here's what we did:
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Please Don't Eat Us
  • Don't, Darren, Don't
  • Family Wedding 2021
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • Easily Impressed
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • We did a shorter set because I THORT I'd heard somebody say we'd played longer than anyone else the night before - we may well have done, but I suddenly became PARANOID that it was too much. Doing THIS length worked pretty well, I think, as the Stern Soundman did a TOP job. Everything felt GRATE on stage and I had a WHALE of a time just playing the songs - playing with all these GOOD BANDS is a bit scary, as they all look like they know what they're doing, whereas I'm pretty sure that we DON'T most of the time. On this particular evening, however, I think we carried it off pretty well!

    I kept the German Chat to a MINIMUM this time around, as it hadn't gone down awfully well in Dresden (one man said to me "The Lovely Eggs made an effort, but YOU... you should really ask people how things are pronounced before you speak these words") and used the ENGLISH BANTER to deal with English Heckling... which was actually just some people I met later who wanted to hear Fucking Hippy. I'm taking that as our REQUEST for next time!

    Wickes were up next and, much to our horror, announced that this was their final gig! For heaven's sake - it takes us AGES to find Modern Young Bands we all like, it's simply RUDE for them to pack it in five minutes later!! The reason, it seems, is just because they're all in different, more ACTUAL bands (this was only their 2nd gig in 14 months, apparently) so we determined to follow THOSE instead.

    Then it was Standard Fare, who were GRATE... and I'm pretty sure they knew we thought so, as the four of us spent the whole gig at the front of the audience SINGING ALONG. We really really like them, and they were AMAZING. I've got the new album on my MyPod so spent much of the time DELIGHTING other Validators by NUDGING them and saying "This one is MY FAVOURITE!"

    We had a JIG AROUND to the marvellous Skint & Demoralised at the end, and then that was that, the gigs were OVER and it was back to some LURKING and HUGGING. Having sold almost NONE CDs we went around FOISTING them on all the other bands - the box they were contained in was soaked with BEER, so it would be hard to carry and, anyway, i had STOLLEN to fit in my bag. I think we MAY have embarrassed Standard Fare with our ENTHUSIASM for them, as they insisted we at least take a t-shirt in exchange for CDs. I was very happy to do so!

    We HUGGED all and sundry, thanked Martin HUGELY for having us, introduced him to Mr E Argos, who had come along (and who I got EMBROILED in a lengthy Marvel VS DC debate with) then headed off for some GRUB. We saw the Argoses again outside a Kebab Stand, where I got MORE SALAD. It was like being on a HEALTH DRIVE!

    Back at the flat there was time for a little more chat, some GRUB HOOVERING, and an almost PERFECT rendition of "Do They Know It's Christmastime" (Tom got The Bono Line and - APPALLING - didn't know how it went!) before bed. Next morning we nipped out on the tube (yes, we DID Validate this time) to a Christmas Market for some SOUVENIRS (it wasn't as good, oddly, as the one in Hyde Park I went to a couple of weeks ago) before coming back for one last bit of EATING UP and TIDYING and then heading off to the airport.

    The journey home was a LOT less incident packed - Tom got stopped AGANE, but that was about it, and a few hours later we found ourselves saying our goodbyes at the bus stop at Luton Station. So much had happened but, for me, it hardly felt like any time at all since we were meeting there. It had been a bloody fantastic weekend with some actually RATHER LOVELY people, and we agreed that we'd all LOVE to do it again.

    Maybe not for a little while yet though - I'm KNACKERED!!

    posted 16/12/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Validators Tour Germany: Part Two
    We got up on Saturday morning to find that Tom has brough his TARTAN SUIT of pyjamas with him, and that Tim had been out to be BREAKFAST SUPPLIES. We feasted heartily on various breads, tea, jam, cheese, and tomatoes, it was DELICIOUS. I thought we were being picked up at 12.30pm, so we had to DASH out of the house when the phone went at NOON, and we went outside to meet Kati, who was going to look after us. Kati was GRATE, and would later attempt to teach us several German Phrases to use on stage. "ARSCH FACKING KALT" was one such gem, which I think means "really rather jolly cold" but made people GASP when I said it.

    We got a taxi to a train station, had a cup of coffee, and then met a man with a van. We weren't quite sure what was going on, especially when two random other people got in the van with us, but I _think_ it was some kind of Ride Share scheme - he, and the other two passengers, all had various appointments in Dresden, so we all went together. We managed NOT to get stopped by the police this time (things were picking up!) and a couple of hours later found ourselves in our hostel in Dresden.

    The four of us were all sharing a single room, which was actually rather COSY and once we'd set our beds up we met Kati downstairs again. She was VERY excited - as the largest group of people there we'd won their Advent Calendar Prize, which today was a STOLLEN!! We'd pick it up the next day and eat it back at the flat - it was DELICIOUS!

    Round at Ostpol we met The Lovely Eggs and Skint & Demoralised, the latter being slightly alarmed when we WHOOPED WITH DELIGHT when they said "We think we're in... The Artistes' Flat?" This was where, two years ago, me and Tim and Frankie has shared a mattress, but we later discovered a) they were staying in a hostel and b) the "flat" had been done up a bit in the interim. There was no a shower room, sofas and a heater, and the MEZZANINE floor was still a single mattress but they'd filled in the gaping holes in the floor. It had, we thought, lost some charm!

    We were STARVING, so went up the road to the kebab shop. Tom was wandering what to have so I said "You could always have falafel." "Falafel?" he replied, "What's that?"

    The rest of us stood AGOG. "It's falafel Tom!" we helpfully pointed out, but it turned out he had never even HEARD of falafel! In the 21st century!! We were thus privileged to see him try his FIRST falafel kebab, and ENJOY it. We had massively increased his takeaway options!

    Another oddity in the kebab shop was that, while we were there, ALL of our football teams playing that day went a goal down whilst we ate. It was STRANGE.

    Back at the venue there was chat to other bands, who all seemed DELIGHTFUL, and then soundchecks. I find it WEIRD doing soundchecks these days, having not really DONE them for a couple of years. Every time I spend the first five minutes thinking "This is AWFUL! It sounds TERRIBLE!! Who IS this idiot? The whole thing is DREADFUL!" and then being amazed when it all starts to sound better - you know, almost as if someone has been CHECKING the SOUND.

    When all was done we sat down for TEA which at first seemed to be MEATY BOLOGNESE. I was actually quite happy to have Pasta And Parmesan, but it turned out to be VEGAN so we tucked in. Whilst doing so Frankie issued a CHALLENGE. "Do you DARE" he said "eat a whole spoonful of parmesan cheese!?" "Er... yes", said Tim, "It's quite nice". So we all had a small level spoonful of parmesan. It was quite nice, but afterwards we thought that maybe we weren't quite living the rock and roll lifestyle as it is meant to be led.

    The gig itself kicked off with Wickes, who were BRILLIANT - I'd never heard of them before, but they turned out to feature parts of Sweet Baboo, who i HAD heard of, and Voluntary Butler Scheme, who I've nearly played with at LEAST four times. Towards the end of the gig they pointed out that no-one was anywhere near the front, so Tim BRAVELY stepped forward... and then everyone else did too. They then said "We're going to do a Simon & Garfunkel song!" and Tim shouted "Keep The Customer Satisfied!". They looked a little surprised... and did "Keep The Customer Satisfied." It was SPOOKY!

    Next were The Lovely Eggs, and so began our OBSESSION with them - we would end up singing their songs all weekend, ARGUING about the lyrics. If anyone in Germany heard a heated debate about whether on not a house can be in a yard, or vica versa, then that was us.

    And talking of US ... we were next! Suitably relaxed by one or two free BEERS we stomped on stage and did THIS:
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • A Little Bit
  • Family Wedding 2021
  • Better Things To Do
  • Don't, Darren, Don't
  • Please Don't Eat Us
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • Easily Impressed
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • Hey Hey 16K

  • It was a big old long old set, but people seemed to be pretty into it. I was DEFINITELY into it, and spent much of my time onstage thinking "I'm doing EVERYTHING CORRECTLY!" although for some reason everyone else thought I'd messed some bits up. I'll just point out that THEY had been DRINKING and that clearly their JUDGEMENT would be impaired, and leave it at that. Although I did nearly fall off the stage at one point, when my foot got TRAPPED in a guitar lead, and at another point knocked the microphone stand into the audience before rather SUAVELY leaning forward and saving it.

    The highpoint of the gig was possibly Family Wedding 2021, which we'd practiced ESPECIALLY because last time a chap called Sven had requested it, singing the whole song at me (you can see him singing it to me on YouTube, in fact). Sven was there again and seemed very pleased with the dedication, and I must say it sounded pretty darn GOOD, I reckon. My REMARKS didn't seem to go down massively well, but the only explanation for that, surely, is the language difference?

    I think we might have gone on a bit too long, as Skint & Demoralised DASHED on after us, and ALSO were ACE - lovely chaps too, as I would find out the next day. Before then though there was a whole lot of MINGLING to be done, chatting to the other bands and bumping into people generally. For instance, Tim got TOLD OFF by someone who didn't like the fact he was drinking POLISH BEER, while I ended up in a long conversation with a bunch of chaps which ended with us all necking EISLICKER or "Egg Nog" as we know it, in KRAZY little chocolate/ice cream cup shot cups that you then ATE. There were also some SQUADDIES at some point, but things were getting a bit bleary. Certain Other Bands were ordering SHOTS, and not wanting to appear FUDDY DUDDY we had joined in (although Certain Other Bands were BARRED from drinking any more Jaagermeister - young people are LIGHTWEIGHTS!) so it was all rather WOBBLY.

    At one point I thought it would be a good idea to write in the GUESTBOOK, which we'd been looking through earlier and marvelling at how many PALS were already there. I clearly remember it being VERY VERY DIFFICULT to write ANYTHING, but DID eventually finish an illustrated message. Wonder what it said?

    By four o'clock we'd agreed we'd had enough... all apart from Tim, who had found someone to talk about THE SPECIALS too ("last time I talked to him about The Fall" he reported the next day) and insisted that he'd just got another beer and so had to drink it. Once we eventually prised him away we STAGGERED back to the hostel, where Tom was briefly accosted by a man who said "aha! you have a violin! I too have a violin!" he said. Tom was not in the mood to CHAT, so we hustled in.

    Once in the room Tim said "It's...all... spinny. I feel sick" and then lay down to sleep. I too collapsed into coma, waking only in the night to go to the loo and get horribly horribly lost on the way back. Tom and Frankie, meanwhile, report that they were both kept awake by hideous snoring. I don't know what they were on about - neither me nor Tim heard ANYTHING.

    And so our day ended in noise and fury - in far too short a time we would need to be up and off for our return to Berlin!

    posted 16/12/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Validators Tour Germany: Part One
    Last week 80% of MJ Hibbett & The Validators (Emma stayed at home) set off to do some gigs in Germany. There were shenanigans, adventures, accidents and a little bit of beer.

    It all started off well - I arrived slightly early at Luton Airport to find that Tim, The Tiger and Frankie had arrived even EARLIER. I'd been nagging them about getting their on time so there was much Delightful JOSHING about it... until we turned round to see Tim clutching his hand, clearly in AGONY. He'd reached into his bag to take out his drumsticks (which were going in one of the bags for the hold) and rammed a MASSIVE SPLINTER down his fingernail!!

    AARGH! It looked - and WAS - intensely PAINFUL. When we got to the check-in we asked if there was a first aid point or something on the other side. We NEEDED a needle or something, but you don't get those in airports, so thought we pop in and see someone who MIGHT. The check-in guy rang for someone, and we stood by to wait.

    We waited. And waited. AND WAITED. Tim said things like "My hand is going all tingly" and "You go through without me" but before he could say "Here - take my biscuits" we BADGERED the guy a few more times until, after waiting 45 minutes, four ladies arrived, three of whom appeared to be played by Matt Lucas in that airport programme they did. "WHO'S GOT A SPLINTER?" boomed one of then. "You called FIRST AID for a SPLINTER?!?" she SCOFFED.

    Now, I'm no expert in customer relations, but I'm pretty sure that AGGRESSIVE MOCKERY is not the first choice of action when you've kept someone waiting for three quarters of an hour, even if it is just for a splinter. "What do expect US to do about it?!?" she demanded. "Er... first aid?" we said, noticing that none of them even had a first aid box that might have, you know, a needle in it, or a tweezer. She continued to angrily take the piss, and Tim pointed out that if someone had TOLD us that a splinter didn't count as first aid FORTY FIVE MINUTES AGO we would not have stood politely waiting for them. "You need a NEEDLE for that!" she said. "Where would we get one of those from?" "Not here - this is an airport!"

    I'm actually making her sound more pleasant and caring than she was - she also said "WE SAVE LIVES! We've just dealt with a woman with KIDNEY STONES!" which a) i don't think it life threatening b) probably isn't first aid either. We stormed off through security with Tim's hand THROBBING and he bought a pair of tweezers and did the job himself. It was a MASSIVE splinter, he was very brave, and got a Medicinal Brandy as reward.

    We were almost the last onto the plane due to all this (also due to having a much needed BEER) so didn't get to sit together, but the flight itself went fine, and we marched through the airport collecting bags with supreme efficiency, emerging through the gates 2 minutes before Mr Martin Petersdorf arrived to meet us. "I hope he's got a BIG SIGN" we said, and indeed he DID!

    We'd been told we were on the guestlist for a TECHNO CLUB later on, featuring Mike Skinner from The Streets. MArtin introduced us to his pal who rang the club, and was waiting for Mike Skinner from The Streets to arrive. I looked around and saw, stood directly behind him, was Mike Skinner from The Streets, calmly waiting to be met. "Are you waiting for Mike Skinner from The Streets?" I asked. "He's just there."

    It was a bit odd really. Anyway, Martin gave us a STOLLEN, some BEER, a TRAIN TICKET and 50 Euros in case we wanted to get a taxi into town instead. He bloody well looked after us, did Martin, he is GRATE! We hugged our goodbyes and stomped off to the railway station, where after some confusion we found a train going into town and hopped onto it.

    Five minutes into the journey ticket inspectors arrived, and I handed them our ticket. "No" said the ticket inspector. "This is not good." His MATE arrived to back him up, and he insisted that we pay him 40 Euros as a fine. I took out my 50 Euro note to show him that that was all we had (NB it wasn't, but still) and he TOOK it! He then said "Each. 40 Euros EACH."

    I rang Martin to talk to him, and it turned out that the problem was that our ticket had not been validated. Yes. That's right - the irony was not lost on us, nor would it be by EVERYONE WE MET FOR THE NEXT WEEK. We gradually, very reluctantly, handed over the cash. Tim EITHER said "I haven't GOT any money, SCREW YOU!" and tried to hop off the train OR cried and said "Mister, I haven't got any money" (depending on who was telling the story) but in the end we were 160 Euros the less. It was MASSIVELY ANNOYING - it was almost as if they had deliberately gone to the AIRPORT where people unfamiliar with the rules of German Trains would be boarding. No wonder they can afford to bail out Greece!

    These and MANY OTHER REMARKS were made on the rest of the journey, which led us to a copy shop in Kreuzberg where we picked up our keys. The instructions on how to find the flat itself were a bit confusing but eventually we found it and got in to discover the first, but not the last, example of what appears to be every German citizens FAVOURITE THING EVER: The Mezzanine!

    Man alive! You cannot MOVE for Mezzanines in Germany, they're EVERYWHERE! Here there were two small living rooms, with sofas below and BEDS on the Mezzanine. We agreed that Tom and I would share one room (I initially went upstairs, but then realised short-sighted toilet visits in the night would be DANGEROUS) and Rob and Tim the other. We found a bottle of PINK CHAMPAGNE in the Fridge which me and Tim drank (Rob and Tom had the rest of the BEER) and then headed out into the NIGHT.

    Over pizza and BEER we discussed potential songs for our next project together, "The MJ Hibbett & The Validators Party Album" then wandered round the corner to what turned out to be a COCKTAIL BAR. "We're on holiday", we said, "SOD IT" so had COCKTAILS. This is how we roll!

    Our final port of call was The Junction, where we saw a JAZZY band called Send More Cats - we were of course attracted mostly by the NAME - who had a very pregnant singer, and who sounded NICE. We then popped into a shop for some crisps and various supplies, where they appeared to be very anxious for us to get out quickly. Goodness knows what was going on, we were very WELL MANNERED, but they even foisted FREE BISCUITS on us to get us to go.

    And so our first evening in Berlin came to an end with a light crisps, beer and tea SOIREE back at the flat. The next day would see us head towards Dresden... and ADVENTURE!

    posted 15/12/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Here Come The Dinosaurs
    I've just got back from the Post Office, where I spent a happy 15 minutes sticking stamps onto a huge pile of envelopes, for LO! The first batch of Dinosaur Planet albums and t-shirts have gone in the post!

    I was very glad to get them sent out - as you may have noticed from me CONSTANTLY BANGING ON ABOUT IT, it has been quite a lengthy process getting to Actual Album Status, especially in the last few months when I have been SORELY TESTED by Manufacturers, so the very IDEA of people actually being able to BUY them has felt like a KRAZY FANTASY at times. I've had a lovely time today filling orders, writing notes, printing labels and so on, and the fact that I've checked and re-checked everything about five times each (in the words of The Lovely Eggs, "well, you've got to check") made the final posting all the MORE satisfactory.

    There's still HUGE piles of albums and t-shirts left, so do please wander over for a look. The OFFICIAL release day is 23rd January, which is when there'll be in the shops and when we'll be trying to get PUBLICITY going, so for now this is pretty much going out to people who already know of us, which means that when - SURELY INEVITABLY - the entire WORLD catches on to the album, you'll be able to say "Dinosaur Planet? Oh yeah. I got that LAST year daddio. Groove on!"

    And who would want to deny themselves THAT pleasure, right kids?

    posted 14/12/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Dinosaurs Unleashed!
    Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, at long last the Dinosaur Planet album is available to buy!!

    We'll be officially releasing it via Amazon, Actual Shops and so forth on January 23rd next year, but I thought I'd get some copies out NOW in case anyone would like it for Christmas. We've also got t-shirts and combo deals for those who like a BARGAIN!

    It's taken us a long long time to get thus done, but I think the results are WELL worth it!

    posted 13/12/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Otway!
    I was as nervous as I think I have EVER been before a Totally Acoustic last night, for LO! we were playing host to one of my all-time absolute HEROES in the shape of Mr John Otway. Otway! Playing at Totally Acoustic! I could scarce believe it!

    We arrived to find that Mr S Hewitt had already got the room set-up, so there wasn't much to do until the man himself arrived, and when he did he and I SQUEEZED back through the THRONG downstairs to get some beers in. There was CHAT, which remained normal until he got his setlist pen out - all around peoples eyes lit up and the REQUESTS started coming in. "Well, that's another ballad" he would say, as we requested, well, BALLADS.

    Soon it was time to kick off, which as usual started with ME leading the group in the singing of the theme tune. After I'd demonstrated the tune someone pointed out that it should be a bit more Christmassy than usual, so we all got our KEYS out and jangled them - it sounded rather wonderful! After this BEAUTY I launched into THIS:
  • Totally Acoustic
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • A Little Bit
  • Please Don't Eat Us
  • The Advent Calendar Of FACT
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • I was a bit worried that at any point Otway would leap up and say "JUST A MINUTE! That's one of MY bits! And so's that! AND SO IS PRETTY MUCH ALL OF IT!!" but we passed through without incident. The highlights of the whole thing were Steve joining in for the children's choir on Please Don't Eat Us (which really needs some joining in there, or else it sounds a bit ... weird) and the EXCELLENT audience participation in The Advent Calendar Of FACT, aided by a song sheet. Best version EVER i think, I reckon that'll definitely be on the podcast!

    After the traditional BEER BREAK Otway himself took to the stage. I'd worried about how I'd introduce him, but he said, joking "The Star of The Show!" when I began and I thought, well, yes, that's pretty much exactly it, and off he went.

    Man! It was Otway!! As soon as he began the whole room was in the palm of his hand - the people who'd never seen him before were AGOG, smiling, laughing and generally being AMAZED, while those of us who'd seen him a good few times were delighted to see him in such a small, cosy place. There were the USUAL songs, with the USUAL intros, which was brilliant - I've heard some of those introductions more than twenty times over the years, but they're still funny, just because of the way he does them. Mind you, there was also some UNUSUAL stuff - "Her Eyes Were The Lasers Of Love" doesn't get played very often, I think, and I don't think I've EVERE heard him do "Remember The Alamo" before either.

    The highpoint for me though came, as it so often does at an Otway gig, when he did "Poetry And Jazz". He did it in a speedy way, in the manner he sometimes does where he cuts out unneeded BEATS so it becomes a bit more like a poem or SPOKEN WORD sort of thing, which I was initially surprised by, but which made it even MORE moving. By the end a LOT of people were looking up, eyes moistened and hearts moved.

    It was fantastic, and I can't WAIT to start editing it. He stayed for a couple of beers and a chat, and when he said goodbye you could feel the entire room RESTRAINING itself, pretty sure that you should just WAVE when someone leaves a room, but actually wanting to break into APPLAUSE. Marvellous!

    And then there was time for a little more discussion before setting off - for lo! some of us had to be up early the next morning to fly to GERMANY! YOINKS!

    posted 9/12/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    At Last, A Dinosaur Planet
    Yesterday morning there was a knock at our front door, and behind the frosted glass I saw the familiar figure of The DHL Delivery Man. I went out and helped carry in EIGHT boxes which I knew contained the THIRD attempt to manufcature the 'Dinosaur Planet' album.

    I put them in the hall. And didn't look at them for a couple of hours.

    Normally when a new CD arrives I can't WAIT to tear into the box and ADORE them but this time, after all the hassle and ANGST that's been caused by it going WRONG so much I was too TERRIFIED to look. Eventually, after some prodding from The Text On My Document I opened them up, gritted my teeth, and LOOKED.

    The outside was fine. The outside looked perfect, in fact, all shiny and THIS time cut properly. The inside looked great too and the booklet had come out lovely ... but the CD onbody was THE WRONG COLOUR.

    AAAAARRRGHGGHHHHHH!!!!!!

    It should have been a green background with red artwork and white lettering - the lettering remained white but the art was PURPLE and the background FLOURESCENT YELLOW! I'd like to say I couldn't believe it but i totally COULD as it feels like this has been CURSED!

    However, actually, it looked all right - a bit deranged and psychedelic, in fact, which fitted rather nicely. I showed it to The Colours In My Spectrum and she concurred - if it was going to be wrong, it was a pretty good type of wrong to be. Now all that lay ahead was to listen to the album, which I did TWICE with two different copies. It sounded FINE. I'd like to say it sounded AMAZING, but at this stage I was in SUCH a PANIC and DREAD that i was listening almost HOPING, definitely EXPECTING, for something to be wrong and when it wasn't it was more of a CuRT NOD of ACCEPTANCE rather than sigh of relief.

    As you may have gathered, the whole experience has been JUST A LITTLE BIT STRESSFUL, and it wasn't until later in the day that things began to feel more real, as I bagged up the copies for the CAST and some other various TYPES. It was only this morning, in fact, that DELIGHT started to creep in, when The Stamp On My Letter and I went to POST them off. As the first little packets went into the post box I started to think "This is finally, actually, really HAPPENING. Within the next few days OTHER PEOPLE will have copies of this beautiful thing we've done!" We then went to the post office to send some bigger packs off and I could feel something STRANGE happening to my face. Once they'd all gone off, and we stomped towards the underground I realised what it was - a big GRIN was spreading! IT WAS DONE!

    And now, an hour or two later, sat in my nice New Office (my Department has moved to MAIN SITE, it's all rather exciting) it feels like someone's taken a PAVING SLAB from off of my chest and given me a nice cup of tea. I think the BLOODY ANNOYING times are over, and the good times are about to BEGIN!

    These good times include Totally Acoustic tonight, when we are BLESSED with the mighty Mr John Otway (show starts 7.30pm - REALLY starts then!) and them tomorrow we're off to GERMANY again with The Validators. I'll be selling CDs at ALL these events, and t-shirts too in Germany, then I'll put them all up online to buy from Tuesday onwards.

    So, come back and see us on Tuesday and you'll be able to FINALLY see what I've been going on about all this time. It's been a long time coming, I know, but I think it's going to be worth it!

    posted 8/12/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Thank Goodness For Christmas
    The Christmasiness keeps on coming today, as we have our second (and final) Christmas Advent Calendar appearance on the Fika Recordings/ Mr D Hayman collection Christmas In Haworth. Our song is Thank Goodness For Christmas which we wrote and performed ESPECIALLY for it.

    This will, of course, become an OFFICIAL part of The Christmas Selection Box in time, but for now I've added both songs as a SECRET (not that secret, it just means they're not listed) FREE EXTRA on the download, so if you get it this year there'll be EIGHT Validators' Christmas songs on it. EIGHT! Only a few more years and we'll be ready to rival THE BEST CHRISTMAS ALBUM EVER (i.e. 'Christmas In The Heart' by Mr B Dylan)!

    Also also, do have a listen to some of the rest of the tracks on that calendar - there's loads of other good stuff on it, and all kinds of people I know from other parishes seem to be turning up on it, with Mr G Osborn the other day and I believe soon Mr J Mellin will be making an appearance. Old acquaintances turning up out of the blue? What could be MORE Christmassy?

    posted 6/12/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Oh Christmas Tree!
    Christmas ACTION continued chez nous over the weekend, as we put up our CHRISTMAS TREE!

    In previous years we've had PLASTIC trees - a really big one for a few years and then in recent times a much diddier one - but this year it was decided that we would have a REAL tree. Thus myself and The Doors On My Advent Calendar went round to our local Homebase on Saturday and picked out a TREE. There were two different ones - the old fashioned SPRUCE and the Super Modern EverFrond Nordman Luxurious (something like that anyway). The modern new ones looked LUSTROUS and smelt GORGEOUS, and I almost felt sorry for the traditional trees, which looked like they'd been pre-loved by a squadron of trained toddlers, wobbling it about until most of the needles had already dropped off.

    It felt GOOD to WRESTLE a mighty tree down the road, and it was a LOT of fun getting it decorated. All right, maybe somebody DID have a bit of a sulk when it was suggested that we keep the tree sparse and sophisticated... but I was allowed to LATHER it with TINSEL eventually so cheered up no end. Also I made an ANGEL out of cardboard, Pritt Stick, Cotton Wool and a piece of ribbon. Blue Peter! I AM AVAILABLE!

    The Bulbs In My Light Fixtures had also got some new FAIRY LIGHTS, and when the entire tree was finished and the lights switched on it looked BEAUTIFUL. All weekened we kept wandering in just to LOOK at it, also to SMELL it, often accompanied by the first several plays of The Bob Dylan Christmas Album. It all felt rather wonderfully Christmassy!

    Later on in the weekend we also went to a Kids's party (HECTIC) an Advent Church Service (CATHOLIC) and then to the PUB, where there was some JAZZ (JAZZ). It was all rather lovely, but whatever was happening it was never as Christmassy as that little tree that we'd spent so much love on. Christmas! It's bloody GRATE, isn't it?

    posted 5/12/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Christmas Commences
    Goodness me but I had a busy day yesterday, combining the two traditional elements of the season: CHRISTMAS and PROMOTIONAL AGENDAS.

    For LO! I spent an Actually Quite Pleasant couple of hours sat in the kitchen watching Strictly Come... er... I mean, POLITICAL DOCUMENTARIES what I had taped, while doing the Promotional Christmas Cards. It took AGES - there's over a hundred names on the list (basically all the UK-based types who'll be getting copies of the album next year) and each one needed a sticker with details of their review download, some WRITING, then putting in the right envelope with the right address label, a STAMP and my Return Address stamp on the back. It was a LOT to get through - I must admit I was harbouring lingering worries about using CHRISTMAS CARDS in such a self-promoting way - I wonder if curry houses go through the same Moral Doubt every year?

    I also spent quite a whilepacking up PACKS of Christmas Cards which people had bought - I wasn't sure how these would go down, but we had quite a RUSH on them after the newsletter went out and there's only a few left now - so if you'd LIKE to send Dinosaur Christmas Cards this year, do get in quick. They look BEAUTIFUL, especially when packed up with the envelopes and TENDERLY STICKERED into bags. If only I could find a way to do this sort of thing for PROFIT I think I would drive headlong into a career in Gift Stationary!

    And while all THAT was going on there was even MORE Christmas, as the Joyzine Advent Calendar got started and, oh, who's that behind door one? Why, it's ME - ably supported by The Baubles On My Tree, doing our EXTRA FESTIVE version of "Walking In A Winter Wonderland". By heck we had some fun doing this one, I hope you like it - as soon as our OTHER Advent Calendar Contribution appears on the Fika Calendar I'll be adding them BOTH to the Christmas Selection Box, there to keep them for THE AGES.

    It really is beginning to feel a bit like Christmas isn't it? Tomorrow we get our Christmas Tree, and which point I think it will be time to get out THE BOB DYLAN CHRISTMAS ALBUM! Merry Christmas, one and all!

    posted 2/12/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Leaving Of Bedford Square
    It was a funny old day yesterday - I was the ONLY person in our building for most of the day, which isn't _that_ unusual, especially in recent years since we've gone down to about seven staff, but felt strange yesterday as it was also my LAST day in the office. We're moving round the corner to the main Birkbeck building next week so everywhere I looked there were CRATES and BOXES labelled with their new destinations. Right at the end of the day I packed away my computer and took a last look round the building that has been my main destination for the majority of days over the past nearly NINE YEARS. I felt as if I should feel more emotional... and then when i left suddenly DID. It's not as big a WRENCH as the one that's probably coming in March, when my job actually ENDS, but still it felt weird - I've spent so much TIME there, and now I'll probably never go back!

    Luckily emotional stability was soon restored by a trip to the PUB where I met Mr K Top Of The Pops for a CHAT before heading round the corner to a GIG. He's a delightful chap is Keith who I already hold in high esteem but this was MULTIPLIED when he very casually mentioned that he can FLY A HELICOPTER. "Oh yes... wait, WHAT did you say?!?" I replied. He can totally fly a helicopter! Imagine that!

    Still REELING from this realisation we went round to the Buffalo Bar to see Allo Darlin' who were, of course, AMAZING. Surprisingly few NEW songs but otherwise HIT after HIT after HIT - it seems a bit like CHEATING when a band with only ONE album can come back with a song like "My Heart Is A Drummer" for the ENCORE, or lodge a new one like "Darren" in yr BRANE for the next 24 hours, but that's just how it is. Like their colleagues Standard Fare one thing that constantly amazes me is how GOOD all the individual band members are, and how INTO it they all are - for instance, I was AGOG at how BRILLIANT the GUITAR SOLOES were. I do like a proper guitar solo, and these were GRATE, all TUNES and PURPOSE but so PART of the song that you wouldn't really notice their ACENESS if you weren't looking. And EVERYTHING is like that, and when you look at people PLAYING they always seem to be thoroughly enjoying the music they make... which is BRILLO. It was just a fantastic fantastic gig!

    I think I must have been even MORE emotionally effected than I thought - I don't half feel a bit poorly today, it's the only explanation!

    posted 1/12/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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