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Blog Archive: October 2013

My Records Are Better Than The Beatles'
At the moment i'm reading Mark Lewisohn's INCREDIBLE Beatle Biography "Tune In" which is part ONE of a proposed three book series called "All Those Years". It is TOTALLY BLOWING MY MIND. As anyone who has ever spoken to me in a pub for more than 0.3 seconds will know i am a bit of a Beatles Nut and have read a LOT of books about them (i.e. I mean REALLY a lot), yet this book keeps coming up with ASTOUNDING new facts. I don't want to give any spoilers away (or indeed HEAR any - I'm only on page 267 out of 840) but I will give this as an example: they had a whole OTHER NAME for MONTHS that I'd never heard before! A whole other NAME!!!

It's all TERRIBLY exciting and also IMPRESSIVE. This volume only goes up to 1962 (I'm a third of the way through and they've not even all MET each other yet) so almost everything Mark Lewisohn is talking about is based on the things they and their friends did as TEENAGERS, and young teenagers at that. He's looked through old newspapers and asked people for their memories but, CRIKEY, how many of us remember ANYTHING we did as teenagers in any depth? And how many of us kept NOTES as we were going along? There's huge chunks of time where Mr Lewisohn says "nobody knows what happened at this point" because why would they? But there's also AMAZING pieces where rather than rely on what everybody "knows" about The Beatles he's actually gone and LOOKED and found out from old newspapers, adverts and interviews with the people who were THERE. It is ACE!

Anyway, so the other day I happened to look back at the page for gigs in 1993 on the webpage (I was Bored At Work and thought "I wonder what I was up to 20 years ago?") and noted that there was quite a bit of DETAIL missing. As it happens I also had a bit of an old SORT OUT at home last week, part of which had involve putting all the mementoes of my time in VOON into one FOLDER. "I could totally sort that out!" I thought, so on Monday night spent a couple of hours trying to do just THAT.

Now, obviously, two hours of rifling through an old folder of magazines, posters and diaries isn't QUITE the same level of effort put in by Mr Lewisohn, but it did yield some pretty good results. I've kept quite a few old diaries, lists of BOOKINGS, and some other bits and bobs which allowed me to work out EXACTLY when some gigs happened, who we played with, and sometimes what SONGS we played too. A really good example of this is the page for gigs in 1992, where I found out all SORTS of bits and bobs. All right, maybe there aren't a HUGE amount of people who care who else was on the bill for the Princess Charlotte All-Dayer on September 19th 1992, but it was quite good fun having aged brain cells gently PINGED by the memory.

I'm thinking about maybe taking this a bit further and digitising some of the many many TAPES I have of those gigs. I've thought about this BEFORE and have always given up BORED before very long, but I could at least use them to hear what SONGS we played. I've also got PILES of photographs which it'd be nice to put online, rather than just have them taking up space in my drawers.

We'll see how it goes - goodness knows there's plenty of other stuff in my LIFE at the moment that I need to get on with - but whatever happens I can take one thing from all of this: I do have some pretty good records of what happened in my early years of ROCK, and looking at all the evidence I can say with all due FACT and ACCURACY that MY records are MUCH better than The Beatles'.

If I can get independent verification I might start putting that on posters!

posted 30/10/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Joyfest
On Sunday afternoon myself and The Bands On My Bill set off to distant New Cross, to play at the Joyfest All-Dayer, celebrating ten years of Joyzine. I'd originally planned to just GO to see Chris T-T, but then Paul Who Runs Joyzine saw I was going and asked if I fancied playing too. I said "Yes Please!"

Getting there was made a bit more difficult than usual by the fact that the Central Line was OFF, so we had to get a BUS to Stratford, which made it all a LITTLE more stressful than i would otherwise have preferred, but DID mean we could pop into M&S on the way for a LUNCH SALAD. Sophisticated! We'd just finished these lunches and were sat on the Overground to New Cross when Mr Eddy Bewsher, long-time pal, Hull Promoter, and all round good guy, got on our carriage. I knew Eddy was coming (he'd requested a song which I'd been re-learning in the morning!) but it was a bit of a KRAZY COINCIDENCE to bump into him on the way!

At New Cross we rounded the corner to The Amersham Arms where we found the gig in full swing although, as ever with All-Dayers, not going EXACTLY to plan. My slot had been put back by 45 minutes which was GRATE as we'd been a bit late arriving due to aforesaid Central Line Lackage, so it gave us time to sit with Eddy and have a BEER and also a CHAT, which was DELIGHTFUL.

Soon, however, I had to get on stage and ROCK, and i did so THUSLY:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • Call The Lyric Police
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • If You're Too Turned On
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • I Want To Find Out How It Ends
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • I really enjoyed this set - it felt a bit strange to be so FAR from the audience (I was on stage, everybody else was about ten feet away, in the dark) and I found it quite hard to ENGAGE because, as usual, my ears were attuned to the few people chatting at the back, but I was VERY happy with the songs I'd chosen. Over recent years I've been a bit TIMID about what songs I play live because I worry about knowing the words to the ones that I DON'T do ever gig, so it ends up that I DON'T do them at ANY! However, over the course of these few solo gigs I have developed an exciting new strategy of PRACTICING BEFOREHAND - it works! THUS I re-learned Call The Lyric Police on Eddy's request (he filmed it too, so evidence of me {mostly} remembering the words will be online soon) AND did I Want To Find Out How It Ends at a solo show for the first time. This latter was WELL overdue - I should really have been doing it at ALL gigs, it being our CURRENT SINGLE and all.

    UPDATE:Eddy HAS uploaded Call The Lyric Police, false start and all!



    My favourite song this time though was 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 as I could hear somebody going "HA!" and "YES" after nearly every line. I think I might need to issue a CHECKLIST for future audiences, to see how many of the 20 things they a) have done so far or b) DID. My other favourite bit was a SEGUE into "Waiting For The Man" at the end of The Lesson Of The Smiths (we'd heard of the death of Lou Reed just before I went on) which ended up being a VERY short - one line - TRIBUTE, as I realised I didn't know the chords OR most of the words. It's the thought that counts!



    With the show done we retired to the front bar for more CHAT, where we were joined by the ever delightful Chris T-T who had laboured through STORM LAGGED TRAINS (NB readers of the future: there was a bit of a storm across Southern England that night, and the news had been getting everyone PANICKED about it for several days beforehand) to be there. It was LOVELY to see him for a chat, and GRATE to hear how well things are going with his current tour and new album "The Bear". If you've not got a copy yet I would HIGHLY recommend BUYING IT as it is ACE.

    Chris went through to the GIG room and we joined him a few minutes later, to see he'd SOLVED the problem of Audience Distance by simply moving the microphone to the floor IN FRONT of the stage. I'd never thought of that - I've often just done these sort of gigs Totally Acoustically but I don't think it'd have worked in the back room of the Amersham Arms, whereas playing WITH PA but OFF stage totally DID. He was magnificent - I mean, he always is, but this time particularly so with a mix of old and new songs and ESPECIALLY the best ever version of "Market Square" I've ever seen him do.

    Afterwards we hugged our farewells to Eddy and The Hull Contingent then darted round the corner to the Overground Station where we got CONFUSED by an almost complete lack of SIGNAGE telling us where to go. Eventually we located Chris's platform, HUGGED some more, and then myself and The Carriages On My Train headed back home. We were girded for more rail replacement buses, but it actually all went FINE, especially when our bus back to Leytonstone dropped us off NOT at the station but opposite the Red Lion. It would have been rude NOT to have popped in for lasties and a game of PINBALL, and I am happy to report that RUDE was something we weren't. We thus ended a busy day and VERY busy weekend overall enjoying a lovely glass of beer at the bar. It was ACE, but I was pleased that the working week was starting in the morning, I needed a rest!

    posted 29/10/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Derby Badger Demo
    Myself and The Badgers In My Sett were up early on Saturday morning to head up to Derby to take part in a demo against the Badger Cull. Rolling into St Pancras before 9am reminded me of all those occasions last year when we were doing the final mixes of Dinosaur Planet and this was COMPOUNDED by popping into Pret for Breakfast, as I had done every time back then. Whilst there we spotted Dominic Dyer of Care For The Wild, one of the main organisations campaigning against the horrifically corrupt, incompetent, and all round SHITE government policy of killing badgers. I would refer you to my earlier post about the Witney Badger Demo where I expressed my feelings on the matter thus: "AAAAARRGGHGGHH!!!!! " My feelings have not changed since then.

    At Derby we strolled into town along a route I have traversed many times, past the Vic and the place where our practice rooms used to be, arriving in the market place to find our pals The Bates family amongst a hundred or so people, ready for the demo. Mrs Angie Bates had brought some CUDDLY TOY BADGERS with her, one of which I borrowed (he was lovely and warm!), and there were people in Badger Costumes/Onesies, lots of banners and a general feeling of happiness to be there on top of SEETHING ANGER at our government of witless shitheads using the poor old badger as a scapegoat for appalling mistreatment/mismanagement of cows and yet ANOTHER disease outbreak being spread by money grubbing NFU members who want to wipe out any aspect of the countryside that doesn't turn a profit.

    Dominic Dyer got up and made a speech which ended with him reminding us that we CAN win this and hopefully WILL. You can see pictures of us listening in the Derby Telegraph report, see if you can spot ME!

    We then went off for a march around town, with Miss Pippa Bates leading our group in shouting "Save the badgers!" and "Stop The Cull!" while waving her cuddly toy badger at passers by. Magically it ended up being mostly ladies doing the first part of the chant and gentlemen the second, which made for a rather nice NOISE as we stomped around town. I kept hearing someone doing it WRONG, completely out of time, and LOUDLY... I looked round to see who it was, and it was Mr D Dyer himself, his excitement at the SUCCESS of the event overtaking his adherence to rhythm!

    We got back to our starting point after about half an hour, all very happy with how it'd gone. Passers by had smiled, applauded, taken leaflets and generally AGREED with us - everyone involved keeps expressing surprise/pleasure that this cause ISN'T just being taken up by traditional "nature lovers", it's making people ANGRY because it encapsulates this fucking awful government's lack of respect for EVIDENCE and blatant pandering to their own moneyed interests. Because they are SHITS.

    With the meeting over we headed over to The Cube where we met with The Family Machine for a well earned beer and catch-up (and LEGO) before strolling back to the station and then home again. It had been a long day but very worthwhile. We felt we'd DONE something - it's easy to just get upset or feel impotent in the face of this sort of crap, but it does feel like the campaign against the cull is picking up, helped by people getting out and expressing their support. Dear reader, if you hear of a demo near you or know of a Hunt Sabs group that needs help (or CA$H) do try and pitch in, this is a clear example of EVIL being done by our government of twats that we can actually DO something to stop!

    posted 28/10/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Oval Tavern
    I don't think I'd ever have expected Croydon to become one of the places I've played most, but over the past few years I have been there a LOT, especially to The Green Dragon where I've played a whopping FIFTEEN TIMES over the past five years, always under the watchful eye of Mr T Eveleigh and his Freedom Of Expression nights.

    However, change must always come and last night change DID, as I was playing at a TOTALLY DIFFERENT pub in Croydon, under the watchful eye of Mr T Eveleigh at his NEW Freedom Of Expression night at The Oval Tavern. The change has occurred because Esther Who Used To Run The Green Dragon has moved to The Oval Tavern - it's a LOVELY change I must say, it was like wandering into a country pub plonked in the middle of town, with ACE beer and a very very pleasant atmosphere. LIKE!

    There were Pals Aplenty Too, not least Mr & Mrs Superman Revenge Squad, Mr Dave Green, and Ms J Lockyer, so I spent a LOT of time bobbing around YAKKING to chums. However, it was eventually time for me to do MY spot, and this is what I did:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • If You're Too Turned On
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • It all went pretty well - unfortunately there was a group of people RIGHT at the front talking REALLY loudly. Well, I say "group", it was one of those situations where there's ONE person who is DETERMINED to talk to everybody at their table throughout - in this case she didn't even LOOK at me until the very end of the set, and then only for a glance, concentrating on gathering all her pals towards her. However, I have come across this a LOT of times in the past, it is the downside of playing gigs actually IN pubs where anyone can come in. It used to happen quite often at The Fox & Firkin in Lewisham, for instance, so I did what I ALWAYS do and kept reminding that the UPSIDE of these gigs is that there's LOTS of other people who've not heard me before who WERE listening and could hear me a lot more than anyone talking. Also I could amuse myself by catching the eye of her pals and doing BATTLE for attention! THUS it all went off good, and I was ESPECIALLY pleased to revive If You're Too Turned On - Markie in Sheffield has asked me to play it nearly every time I've played up there, and as he's putting me ON next month I thought I ought to have a go!

    After me it was Martin Austwick and The Sound Of The Ladies, who I'd never MET let alone SEEN before. INDEED when I was getting on the tube at Euston I saw somebody I thought MIGHT be him walking just ahead, but said nothing just in case. It turned out that it WAS - he works just round the corner, so after their marvellous set we had a chat during which i RAVED about the convenience of working in this part of That London. ALL of The Midlands is within PEASY striking distance for gigs, I said, and most places have an IBIS. Man, Ibis should be paying me commission!

    Soon it was time to ZOOM off for the last train back to London Bridge before The End Of Tubes, and I toddled off round the corner full of BEER and SMILES. I wonder if I'll end up doing fifteen gigs at THIS pub? I do hope so!

    posted 25/10/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    In The Amphitheatre
    I had a bit of a trip down memory TRAMLINE on Saturday, as I was back in Sheffield to play at the University Students' Union. I used to play there about twice a year for AGES when my friend Ms P Blackham was Ents Manager, but it's over four YEARS since I was last there, as Penny has since left. HOWEVER it just so happened that she was back again for a month and so I got BOOKED again, to appear at the Late Lunch Sessions all-dayer. This was the all day climax of a THING they've been doing at lunchtimes to launch "The Amphitheatre", a new BIT they have built on the side of the Students' Union, where BANDS come and play in it.

    The Trams Of Sheffield were part suspended so I had to WALK half the way and as I did MEMORIES flew in of all the other occasions I'd been there. I found the Amphitheatre by following the noise of guitars being tuned up, and arrived just in time to see Mr Matt Abbott of Skint & Demoralised introducing The Mini Skips.

    I plonked myself down on a deckchair and had a delightful half hour watching them, before getting up for HUGZ with all and sundry. After a short gap between acts it was my turn to go on - Matt gave me a choice of poems, a "fumble" or an "epiphany" so I chose the LATTER. He did a poem, and then I was on, doing THIS:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • Get Over It
  • The Perfect Love Song
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • I had a LOVELY time - there wasn't a HUGE amount of people there (it was Saturday lunchtime, I assume most students were in BED) but those that WERE there seemed to like it. I'd broken a string just before starting so borrowed Vinnie from the Mini-Skips's AXE and was wearing my new ZENITH t-shirt under a raincoat. I looked like i WAS Zenith, doing a very low key comeback gig!

    Afterwards two young first year ladies came and offered me a BANANA - they'd bought far too many - and I had a chat to pals various before we relocated to the Interval Bar. As we entered EVEN MORE memories flooded in, not least the time I played there with Frankie Machine and I did my cover version of "Stan", which had been BANNED by the Student Union. Nobody noticed, but it's the thought that counts.

    I've just looked that gig up - it was OVER TWELVE YEARS AGO. Crikey!

    There were beers, there was a MASSIVE burrito (it took me half an hour to get through it!) and soon it was time to wobble off homewards again. I'm back in Sheffield in a few weeks, playing at The Rutland Arms on November 16th supporting Helen McCookerybook - it can't come too soon, Sheffield is GRATE!

    posted 22/10/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Beta Males
    I had a very strange experience on Friday evening. I was meeting Mr S Hewitt at The Pleasance for a beer and to see a show - so far so NORMAL. This is something we have done approx 100,000,000 times in Edinburgh over the years. The STRANGEST came from one simple fact: we were in LONDON!!!!!!!!!!!

    I know!

    It turns out (NB i did sort of know this, but anyway) that the people who run The Pleasance in Edinburgh, home of The Courtyard Where You See Famous People, ALSO run a similarly named theatre in London, and it was here that Steve and I had gathered to see The Beta Males doing their show "Superopolis". It was advertised as a superhero-themed sketch show and we had been prevented from seeing it in Edinburgh because it was on at about the same time that we were. We were thus pleased to have the opportunity to see it down this way, and wondered if it would be anything like OUR superhero based show.

    Funnily enough, it sort of WAS, in that it was ACE! Also it featured some grown men titting about playing a wide variety of characters differentiated by a wide range of HATS and WIGS. There show was a little less story-centered than hours, tending more towards LARFS (and by heck there were a LOT of them!), and also not having the SONGS. And there were five of them. Otherwise though it was very much in the same VEIN, including the fact that it was CLEARLY written from a point of LOVE for superheroes. There were MANY gags that displayed an inherent affection and indeed KNOWLEDGE of the genre, including up to date jokes about crossovers. At no point, however, did it go to far, and I think if anyone completely unaware of superheroes went they'd enjoy it too.

    There were LOADS of GRATE bits, some of which were DEAD THEATRICAL and others which RIGHT SILLY, and we came out with massive great big silly grins all over our faces. These were only increased when we bumped into Mr Dec Munro, our HERO of Edinburgh, wandering in to see someone else. We also had a quick chat to some of the STARS, saying how much we'd enjoyed it, because we REALLY had. It's on again this Wednesday I think - if you're about, do GO!

    posted 21/10/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Proper Meetings
    I was back at SKOOL again on Monday night for another Production meeting about The Christmas Party, a series of short web dramas that a bunch of us are putting together. I arrived armed not only with the MINUTES of our last meeting but also a printed AGENDA. As I was putting it together earlier i'd thought "Do i really need to DO this? It's just some CHUMS getting stuff sorted out, do we really need APOLOGIES at the start?" but then wiser aspects of my BRANE said "You might as well do it properly Hibbett - Meeting Procedures have evolved this way because they WORK."

    And WORK is exactly what they did, as over the course of about 90 minutes we made DECISIONS and LAID PLANS and generally got stuff sorted out. The best bit was at the end when Mr R Dasu did a talk about SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY. It was one of those occasions when you can FEEL your BRANE understanding something properly for the first time, mine eyes were opened to not only the possibilities of a properly planned CAMPAIGN,but also how a) easy b) sensible it would be. I also realised that I had a delightful excuse to spend the next few days "researching" Christmas cracker jokes and Christmas songs!

    Talking of which, when the meeting finished we adjourned to a nearby classroom to record the THEME TUNE. I'd suggested we do a HUMMED version of "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" as it is a) relevant b) easy c) out of copyright, and we did four or five different takes, some with words, some with DYNAMIC MIDDLES, and some without. It came out sounding pretty GRATE, tho the BEST version is one where a PAINTER MAN enters the room halfway through, apologises for interrupting, and advises us not to touch the walls as they have just been painted. This, I think, will be prime contender for Twitter Content!

    posted 16/10/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Light It Up
    After a morning full of EMOTION and POLITICS it took a while to calm down MENTALLY as I zoomed North to Manchester, where I was due to play at the inaugral Light It Up night at The Star & Garter. When I rolled into Piccadilly I was a bit SLEEPY from the early rising and marching about, and that may be why I proceeeded to get A BIT LOST, stomping 10 minutes in entirely the wrong direction before having to turn tail and try again.

    I got to My Usual Suite at the Ibis in the end, but too late to go and meet Mr T Pattison, in town to see Johnny Marr, who had been in The Lass O'Gowrie for the afternoon (OPPOSITE where I was staying) - I know this because I went to look for him! Disappointed I walked round the corner to The Star & Garter where I discovered Danny who'd organised the night and The Sweet Nothing all ready to ROCK.

    I'd been worried beforehand about the fact that I was on LAST, especially with FOUR bands on before me, as I feared BEER might make my performance less... PROFESSIONAL than what people might hope for. My fears were allayed slightly by one band dropping out, but then ADDED to by the evening starting a bit later than planned, as we waited for audiences to arrive. SPOILERS: it all worked out fine in the end, in fact I had a LOVELY evening watching bands and chatting to many and various PALS who I hadn't seen for AGES. My support slot in Cambridge last week had been my first solo set for six months, and as I stood around catching up with people on Saturday night I was aware of how much I've DROPPED OUT of the indie scene over the past few years. It was VERY NICE INDEED to be back and to see everybody!

    Eventually, LONG after my bedtime, it was my turn to ROCK. I decided to do the gig Totally Acoustically as I thought the audience was thinning out, but when I actually went on to DO it I realised that quite a few MORE people had rolled in, so it was to quite a big crowd that i did THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed
  • Boom Shake The Room
  • Clubbing In The Week

  • It all went DEAD WELL - 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 seemed to work all right, despite me STUMBLING a few times, and I think I'll be playing (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock at ALL of this year's remaining gigs. I had a LOVELY time!

    Things continued in this vein for several more hours - I came off "stage" at midnight and went downstairs for BIG CHAT with Tim (who'd hurried back from J Marr to say hello) and Others Various that took in many ISSUES, also NONSENSE, and it was PAST TWO IN THE MORNING when I eventually stumbled out and headed down the road to bed. Two in the morning! I haven't been up that late since I DO NOT KNOW WHEN!

    It was a good night, and it felt good to be back, but by heck i have been KNACKERED ever since!

    posted 15/10/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Witney Badger Demo
    Myself and The People On My March were up EARLY on Saturday morning, as we were heading down to WITNEY to take part in a demonstration in David Cameron's constituency against the Badger Cull. It's entirely WEIRD that the Badger Cull is even happening, as everything about it screams wrongness. All the scientific evidence says that culling Badgers won't work (and may even make Bovine TB worse), there's no moral argument for butchering a protected species of indigenous animals, and the way it's being done STINKS of corruption - for instance, they're "monitoring" the "humaneness" of SHOOTING BADGERS by asking the people who are shooting them to BRING IN a few dead badgers that THEY have chosen. To reiterate - they're checking that the badgers have been shot NICELY by getting the people who shot them to bring in examples of NICE KILLS that they themselves have chosen.

    Professionally speaking, as someone who has WORKED on pilot project A LOT, I am enraged by the fact that even the way they're running the PILOT is an insult to trials. DEFRA claim that they're running a six week pilot to see if they can shoot badgers effectively. That's ALL it's meant to be - they're not even testing badgers to see if they ACTUALLY ARE infected with TB (possibly because it would show that only a very very tiny percentage of them are) - so surely, after six weeks, they should look at how that WENT and base a decision on it. However, what's happening is that they DIDN'T manage to shoot as many badgers as they want to ... and so, rather than saying "Aha! That is the result of the pilot: it doesn't work" they are planning to EXTEND THE PILOT to shoot more.

    THAT IS NOT HOW PILOT STUDIES WORK! In a pilot study you TRY SOMETHING OUT to see if it works, then ASSESS it, not KEEP DOING something that isn't working until you've finished! AAAAARRGGHGGHH!!!!!

    As I say, every single thing about this moronic action is ANNOYING and UPSETTING and makes you wonder if maybe you've got the wrong end of the stick - SURELY nobody can think this is a good idea? It almost feels as if the National Farmers' Union (who are pushing for this) just want to kill ALL wildlife that their members aren't making a profit out of. It's the only explanation that makes any kind of sense, however crazy it may sound.

    If you're thinking "What on earth is Hibbett on about?" then I recommend reading this article which deals a lot more calmly than I can with FACTS. My summary: AAARRRGGGGHHHH!!!

    So yes, we headed up to Witney where we met a PAL who moved to the area a few years ago then met up with a bunch of Concerned People and strode the short distance through the (very nice) town up to the village green. There was genteel chanting (call me old fashioned, but "Cameron Cameron Cameron - Out Out Out" doesn't really work that same way that the THATCHER one did - new material please guys!) and inner RAGE mixed with happiness that there were so many of us there. There were also not one but TWO sets of goalposts which moved along with us!

    When we reached the green Dominic Dyer gave an AMAZING speech detailing calmly and unsentimentality a LITANY of how utterly utterly fcuking ridiculous, incompetent and corrupt the whole affair has been (NB he didn't put it like that, i am unable to think about any of it without the RED MIST descending!) and again it was wonderful to see so many people there. It was also great to have Sky News there covering it - there've been so many lies told about the cull, it was good to think that other people around the country would know they're not alone in being angry. Here's the speech in full, see if you can spot me agreeing with him!



    It was an emotional afternoon's activity, which ended with a bunch of us standing outside the door to the local Conservative Association, slightly sheepishly shouting things politely, while laughing at the fact that the shop next door had a huge sign advertising a line of clothes by a company called "BADGERS"!

    In order to recover we went for a well-earnt PINT in a lovely local pub, where the young barman proudly introduced us to his entire family, who owned and worked in it. We went to get a bus, which didn't come, and while we waited chatted to another marcher who we'd met coming down.

    I know that just going on a march probably won't change anything, but hopefully lots of people going on lots of marches will make some kind of noise, if only to reassure everyone that they're not alone in being concerned. Living in a city means there's not a lot of call for ACTIVISM but there's alwasy CA$H if anybody wants to help - there's loads of local Hunt Sabs (who are BACK!) who are out every night monitoring and protecting badgers need cash help to do so, or there's this group, who are ACTUALLY TESTING BADGERS so as to demonstrate the truth (or otherwise) of the government's claims.

    Apologies for this post veering into SHEER RAGE, it's impossible to think about ANY of this without getting angry. Tomorrow's post will feature ROCK again!

    posted 14/10/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Hibbfact 2000
    Over the past few days I've been tinkering with and on the HIBBFACT 2000, the super advanced (hem hem) COMPUTER BRANE that powers most of these webpages and will probably one day end up gaining consciousness and taking over the satellites, nuclear weapons systems etc ect. Don't worry though - I have programmed it specifically NOT to understand this human emotion we call "love", so just giving it a hug should sort things out if/when that DOES happen.

    I built the whole thing from SCRATCH a few years ago when Blogger changed/closed/went a bit funny (i can't remember exactly) - I thought it might be FUN to build my own blogging system that I could control myself and, while I was at it, automate the webpages in general. It turned out to be a BIG PROJECT, largely because it WAS such fun, and I ended up tying it all together with an automated system not just for blogs but also for GIGS, songs, all releases, newsletters, articles and pretty much EVERYTHING. It was TOTALLY worth all the effort though, as now I can, for instance, add new gigs from my PHONE and know they'll pop up in all the right places. It's lovely!

    One thing I never got around to however was sorting out COVER VERSIONS. I'd done a bit of a BODGE FIX by setting a rule that the system THINKS a song is a cover version if there's no lyrics, and so doesn't show it on the list of new/unreleased songs and doesn't say "Published by Wipeout" when you get to it. This didn't really work though - for instance, I didn't put any of the lyrics for the Total Hero Team songs in the database, so they didn't show up, but on the other hand SOME cover versions DID show up because I'd put the original authors in instead of lyrics.

    It was MOST unsatisfactory but I lived with it by mostly forgetting it worked that way. However, this week I noticed it again while tidying up all the various songs from the last couple of years. I've added LOTS of lyrics and notes (though I still have a few to do) for odd songs I've written for various purposes, and while doing so thought "I really ought to FIX this". Thus at 10pm last night I found myself sat PROGRAMMING... for about half an hour, by which time I'd DONE it. It was VERY SATISFYING INDEED, not least because it means (for various de-bodging reasons) you can now see information about nearly ALL the songs I've ever played at gigs and, for instance, see every time I've played Boom Shake The Room over the past ten years. SPOILERS: it is a LOT of times!

    As I say, I'm trying to get ALL the spare lyrics in there now, though I can't promise they'll necessarily be the FINAL lyrics for all the songs. One of the several Nice Things about the run of solo gigs I'm doing at the moment is that I'm trying out NEW SONGS as I go, so the words may change. Still, at least I'll be able to check them on my phone if I forget them now!

    posted 11/10/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Plotting Plotting
    As regular readers may have noticed from previous entries, I've had a LOT of fun so far doing my screenwriting MA, and it looks like this is going to continue. For LO! I am now into the SECOND half of the course, which involves writing a full-length script of our own.

    I know for some of my co-students this involves Serious Study and Research of a social, psychological and metaphorical BENT. For me it so far mostly involves thinking "What would be a REALLY COOL THING to put in this bit? Oh, i know, a DUKW! HA!"

    And the best bit is that it totally counts as WORK, as I'm trying to get a first draft of the PLOT sketched out ready to send to my MENTOR at the end of the week. I've thus got it in the back of my head at all times, so that while I catch tubes, eat my tea, or stare at screens my subconsciousness is working away, occasionally tapping me on the MENTAL SHOULDER and saying, "hey! front-consciousness! How about destroying Trafalgar Square? Does that sound like fun?" "Yes," i reply, "it does rather."

    It's sort of similar to how I wrote the SHOWS - I distinctly recall getting stuck halfway through Dinosaur Planet and my subconsciousness piping up with "How about some GIANT ROBOTS?" - but this time around I'm trying to do as instructed and work out the whole plot BEFORE I start writing dialogue. Hopefully this'll make life easier. It was a right pain, for instance, to have written a whole load of songs and GAGS for Total Hero Team that I then had to drop when the PLOT had to change. Having said that there probably WON'T be any songs in this one (I'm only writing a pilot episode, so the FULL MUSICAL episode will have to wait until it's INEVITABLY commmisioned) but it should still save some effort later on. ALSO it's quite good not to have to keep thinking "Yes, but how will me and Steve be able to PLAY a thousand angry 3 foot tall sharks eating the National Gallery?" I can leave THAT for Mr S Spielberg (surely) to worry about!

    posted 8/10/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Saints Alive
    Myself and The Pictures In My Gallery had ANOTHER arty weekend of Normal Couple Stuff this weekend, as we went to not on but TWO galleries in central London. We are DEAD CULTURED!

    The first was The National Gallery, where we went to see Saints Alive, a BRILLIANT (REVIEW) thing where he'd built a bunch of moving sculptures of SAINTS, based on picture elsewhere in the gallery. Each sculpture had an allied BUTTON or PEDAL which you pressed, making it BANG into life, usually THUMPING itself. It was all very exciting, jolly and LOUD. The one about Doubting Thomas had WHACKED LUMPS out of itself, and TWO of them had done so much self-damage that they were BROKE. There was also a Wheel Of Fortune based on a Catherine Wheel, which gave sort of FORTUNES based on the fates of Saints. It was FUN, but also THORT provoking INSOMUCH as it brought home the physicality of what is supposed to have actually happened to these people, which has then been CELEBRATED for centuries. MOstly though it was like somebody had BUILT and bunch of Terry Gilliam cartoons and made them THUMP themselves. It was good!

    We DRAGGED ourselves outside - it's always hard getting through somewhere like the National Gallery as every few steps one or the other of you catches sight of something REALLY FAMOUS and has to be pulled away - and went round the corner to have a quick look at TWO exhibitions, both of which seemed to be based on OTHER things the painters had done. The first was by Jonathan Yeo, which was massively ALL RIGHT. It was a load of pictures of FAMOUS PEOPLE that would have been Quite Nice if you'd seen them at a Graduate Show (of which i have been to SEVERAL due to my baby brother doing that sort of thing) but were nothing special at all. The more I looked at them the more ANNOYED i got - he'd had his big break drawing small pictures of party leaders during the 2001 General Election (they were the best thing in the whole exhibition by a long way), having got access to them by... being the son of Tim Yeo, former Tory Cabinet Minister - and it was clear that this was yet another case of The Children Of The Powerful being lauded FAR beyond their abilities.

    The staff came and TURFED people out, so we dashed round the corner to look at an exhibition of paintings by Bob Dylan. They were RUBBISH, but I didn't mind so much this time - when Bob Dylan wrote some of The Best Songs Of The Twentieth Century he did it HIMSELF, so if he wants to tit about with a paint brush now it's fine, and nobody's wielding Executive Power to help him do so.

    It was a day of ART and POLITICS - a standard weekend for us!

    posted 7/10/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Back in CB2
    After all the fun and frolics of Total Hero Team at the various Fringe Festivals I've enjoyed/NEEDED a LONG old lay-off from ROCK. It'd been nearly SIX WEEKS since last I gigged when I met with Mr S Hewitt at St Pancras yesterday, ready to kick off the NEXT batch of shows in Cambridge.

    I do like playing in Cambridge, it's like a version of Peterborough run by ACADEMICS, with everything full of WISPY HAIR, bicycles, and posters in the windows of houses. For years I've been doing my Cambridge gigs at The Portland Arms but as this has now DOUBLED its capacity our esteemed promoter Mr S Macallister thought it might be a rather big ASK. Thus he'd booked us into CB2, a lovely lovely place that I played regularly for a while about seven years ago, at gigs run by The Living Room. I always had a WONDERFUL time there so was very happy to be back, although it did mean we had to ESCHEW our usual B&B and find somewhere different.

    The one we ended up at was INCREDIBLY handy - about halfway along the route from station to venue, in fact - and VERY old-fashioned. You know how B&Bs always appear in 1970s TV shows? It was like THAT - we both experienced DEJA VU as we spotted LINO or SHEETS or WALLPAPER that our parents (or our parents' friends) had once owned. I slept in a super-tightly made bed of SHEETS and QUILT for the first in about 30 years which, delightfully, SMELT of the same washing powder used by my Nan!

    Safely ensconced we headed for the venue, with me having to DRAG Steve past a Famous Bottled Beer pub, with him casting longing looks backwards at the FRIDGE weeping "Got! NEED! NEED! Got!" We met Steve M at the cafe , dropped our gear off, and enjoyed a leisurely PINT before show time. During this I was astounded to meet She Who Must Not Be Named from Kooba Radio Days, who is now a proper REGISTRAR at Addenbrookes - she was not to be named in their podcasts LEST the associated HIJINKS got her in trouble at medical school, so it was lovely to see she'd got through unscathed, and indeed lovely to see her again - it was SWMNBN who first listened to "Milk & Baubles" all those years ago and made the rest of the Kooba crew listen to it, so if not for her I would have missed out on MANY adventures!

    The gig kicked off with an EXCITING NEW TALENT (hem hem) supporting us... all right it was ME, doing my first proper full solo gig since... wow, APRIL! If I'd known that before I'd started I might have worried more, as i stood (pretty much) in the middle of the room and did THIS:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • I Come From The Fens
  • The Perfect Love Song
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • Easily Impressed
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths


  • I had a FINE old time - much to my amazement i KNEW all of the words, including those to (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock which got its LIVE DEBUT. I was VERY HAPPY INDEED about how that went, especially when the audience very gamely tried to do PUNCHING THE AIR. I think I might need to explain that more at future gigs - I appear to have a STRING of solo gigs ahead, plenty of time to work up a BIT!

    Steve and I went upstairs to have some TEA and then came back down for Mr Gaz Jones, who did a selection of cover versions, all of which seemed to come from The Britpop Era, thus forcing me to realise that they were all about TWENTY YEARS OLD. I especially enjoyed his versions of "Great Things" (even though he sang the WRONG WORDS in the chorus - it's "I don't wanna compromise" not "I JUST want to compromise", tho SCHOLARS might argue that the latter is more apt to Britpop hem hem KULTURAL INSITE) and "The Outdoors Type", though I was surprised to hear him say that "The Boy Done Good" was his favourite Billy Bragg song. Come on chaps, it's on the same album as "Brickbat"!!

    ANYWAY then it was time for me and Steve to take the stage - the actual proper stage, as CB2 HAS one, and launch into the show. Short version of events: it was BLOODY GRATE.

    Slightly longer version: it REALLY WAS! It turned out that we TOTALLY still remembered how it went, and the audience WENT for it - there were BIG LARFS pretty much EVERYWHERE we'd ever hoped there'd be, from people getting The Watchmen "Joke" to HUGE GUFFAWS throughout "Come On Pussy". Steve said to them halfway through, "where were you guys in Edinburgh?" for LO! it was like a DREAM AUDIENCE. We even got to do that thing where you have to WAIT for the laughter to die down, and get to RIDE it, like a HILARITY SURFER. It was JOYOUS!

    We finished the evening with beer, chat, and generally saying "COR! that was FUN!" Steve M said we could come back whenever we wanted and BY CRIKEY i certainly want to. It was brilliant!

    posted 4/10/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Taking The Minutes
    You find me AGLOW with the joy of a task I have not done for many years: writing up MINUTES.

    For LO! last night we had another meeting about The Christmas Party, the web series that a bunch of us from SKOOL are putting together. We had a LOT to get sorted out, so we worked out an agenda and STUCK to it. I do love a good agenda - it means you can talk about what you need to talk about and get stuff DONE, and though it always feels a bit weird to start with everyone always gets into it within about ten minutes. INDEED I was gratified to find that I wasn't the only one going "Ah! That is the NEXT item!" when things looked like veering into disorder and MAYHEM.

    And if you've got an Agenda you must of course have Minutes to follow, so's you can get your ACTION POINTS sorted out. There were many of these, and there needed to be. We're hoping to get it all FILMED by the end of October, edited and publicised in November, then RELEASED on December 1st. There's a heckload of work to be done between here and then, especially the FILMING bit, but I think we might just be able to get it done. I will be reporting back at regular intervals to let you know if we do!

    posted 3/10/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Mentor Meeting
    As regular readers of these mighty missives will know I'm currently halfway through an MA in Playwriting And Screenwriting at City University. It has been almost universally GRATE (and even the non-GRATE bits have usually led to moaning about them the pub after, which _was_ GRATE) so far, but this year sees a big change. Instead of going to class every Monday and Wednesday night we're now only expected in four times a term, as we're expected to concentrate on our Final Project. This can be EITHER a full-length play, a full-length film or a pilot for a TV show.

    I'm doing the TV pilot, because much as i like films and have managed to sit through SEVERAL plays, it is TELLY that I love the most. To help us plan and develop our scripts we each get a MENTOR, and I had my first meeting with mine this morning. I was a bit nervous about how it would go - he's someone with a history of proper telly (including stuff i LOVE) and all sorts of other things, and I did worry a little about what he might think of my proposed plot, but he said on the email that he really liked it and he turned out, in person, to be ACE. We talked a little bit about my story, and how I should plan to go about developing it, but mostly we had a RIGHT OLD NATTER about various TV shows and films. I was delighted to find that we both liked "The Mentalist", pretty much AGREED about various blockbusters, and I came away with HOMEWORK, to watch "World War Z" and "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"!

    I left our meeting excited and full of IDEAS for how my story, "Storm House", could grow. It's already got MUMMIES and ALIENS and SHARKS in it, but I'm sure there's room for more. I think this year is going to be fun!

    posted 1/10/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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