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Blog Archive: November 2013

80p Weekender
On Sunday I was due to head to the South coast once more, this time heading for Brighton, but before I could do that The Dates In My Diary and I went for a) a VISIT b) a PINT, at Antic's new Leyton Technical pub in... er ... Leyton. We are BIG FANS of The Red Lion, their pub in Leytonstone, so it was good to see that this one was similar, though not QUITE as nice.

I ZOOMED off to the station and thence to Brighton, where it was COLD and also, due to an extra Cheeky Half earlier on, slightly later than I'd planned. Looking at both these factors I decided to get a TAXI to The Horse And Groom, which was a way off anyway, and had a very nice chat with the driver, agreeing about Hastings and moving on to the pros and cons of The Isle Of Wight. It was delightful!

I got to the pub to find things in FULL SWING, or as full as things CAN swing on the Sunday afternoon after an all-day drinking Saturday. Everyone looked a bit TIRED, also POORLY. It was lovely to see so many friendly and familiar faces and there was much chat, not ALL about Doctor Who, and a couple of BEERS before I strode manfully towards the stage and did THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • If You're Too Turned On
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • Get Over It
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Do The Indie Kid

  • I was pleased to finish on Do The Indie Kid as I hadn't PLANNED to do that one at ALL - I do worry about doing the same set from gig to gig, so it was nice to surprise myself, even if only by doing one that wasn't on the setlist! The set itself was FULL of REMARKS and I had a THOROUGHLY lovely time doing it. I've never managed to fully bend Brighton to my WILL, but every time I've played the Horse & Groom it's been LOVELY. More please!

    After me there was a CHOIR. Last time I played there I'd supported an ORCHESTRA, this time a CHOIR - I expect there to be a chorus line of TAP DANCERS next time. There were about 40 of them, so it felt like the entire pub was turned inside out as they all walked through the room, emptying the back where they'd been stood and FILLING the stage. It was the same sort of deal as the choir The Singers In My Ensemble has been in, with a conductor at the front and four part harmonies, and was similarly lovely.

    And then it was pretty much time for me to head home, walking through a FREEZING cold Brighton, MUSING on how much fun it is to be able to go out and do this sort of thing. Gigs are FUN!

    posted 28/11/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Badgers Of Hastings
    On Saturday The Normans In My Norman Invasion Force and I set off for HASTINGS, a place I had never been to before but had, obviously, been told about a LOT at school. We took the High Speed 1 train down to Ashford and were surprised to see a few people actually getting ON at Stratford. Admittedly we've only ever used "the Javelin" for DRUNKEN LARKS (going back and forth during the Olympics or after BOOZE in Kings Cross to get home quicker) when NOBODY gets on or off at Stratford, but it was still a surprise.

    When we arrived we were met by the husband of one of The Staff On My Payroll's ex-work colleagues who took us out to their house for a Proper Old Fashioned Lunch of SOUP and SANDWICHES and a BIG catch-up. It was LOVELY - I'd not met either of them before but had heard a GREAT DEAL so felt like I also was meeting old friends!

    We then got dropped off at the pier where a very impressive crowd had gathered for the Anti-Badger Cull demo, including some people in SPLENDID badger costumes. There were HUNDREDS of us as we trooped along the promenade, singing and banging instruments and waving at passing motorists who pipped their horns in support. It was BLOODY FREEZING though, especially as we were walking alongside the beach.

    We also met some NEW friends - The Badgers In My Sett has got to know a whole BUNCH of people on twitter who are also concerned about the corrupt, idiotic, murderous, shittery of the Badger Cull (EDITORIALISING) so we went and found them to say hello. It reminded me of old uk-indie meet ups from MILLENIA ago, when people would greet each other by their email names!

    When it was all over we walked back to the station through Hastings itself, which is an ODD place - it's like someone took a copy of Brighton then removed all the excitement, glamour, showing off, diversity and general FUN, leaving a very pretty but also rather DEPRESSING sort of place. We couldn't even find a Cosy Pub, so ended up having a cuppa from WHSmiths - something I've never come across before - then ZOOMING home.

    We capped off a DELIGHTFUL day with a trip to Tap East - it's just next to Stratford International, it would have been RUDE not to - and got home in time for Doctor Who. Which was AMAZING - HOORAH!

    posted 27/11/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Eric and Little Ern
    Regular visitors may have noticed a slight dropping off in BLOGS just lately. Usually when this happens it's because not much has been going on, but THIS time it has been due to QUITE the opposite: LOADS has been happening, in ALL areas of life!

    For instance, on Friday night myself and The Lines In My Script met with The Hewitts in London's Fashionable THEATRE LAND, to go and see a SHOW! It was "Eric & Little Ern", which three of us had seen in Edinburgh back in August. That had been GRATE, even though we'd seen the whole thing from the SIDE. We hadn't seen any facial expressions, but because most of the show was a re-enactment of classic Morecambe & Wise routines that didn't matter, as we'd SEEN the facial expressions so many times we knew them off by heart!

    We had SUPER POSH seats for this performance (which Steve had spotted in a DEAL), and it was TWICE as long as the version we'd seen. The play (for that is what was wrote) starts of with Ernie Wise in bed after a heart attack, where he's visited by The Ghost Of Eric. In the original version they chat for a bit, go off, then come back on and do a traditional Morecambe & Wise Show, with all the old routines. I thought that this expanded version would do a bit more of the show and then return to the hospital bed for the pay-off, but that didn't happen at all. Instead they expanded the hospital bit into the whole first half, using a sofa and the bed to recreate a lot of the sketch material from the shows, with them hanging around the flat together. This was LOVELY, as none of that part of their shows had been in the original version, and they even managed to squeeze in and adapted version of the Andre Previn sketch, to CHEERS from us!

    However, they DIDN'T ever go back to the first scene, ending the second half with "Bring Me Sunshine" and that was that, which all felt a bit odd and/or a missed opportunity. Still, it was WONDERFUL to hear the old jokes once more, though a bit STRANGE to get the feeling that, for a lot of the audience, this was the first time they'd heard them. Afterwards I thought maybe that's The West End for you - in Edinburgh the room was packed with people who LOVED Morecambe & Wise, but maybe a lot of the audience this time were tourists who come to see a West End Show. For instance, as I went back to my seat at half-time one chap said to another, as I passed, "What do you think to the show so far?" OF COURSE I turned round and said "RUBBISH!" and he replied "Yes, it was a little weak, hopefully it will get better." WHAT?!? That's not right - i hope that when they DID the "What do you think of the show so far?" gag in the second half he realised his mistake!

    So all in all it was a delightful evening of FINE entertainment with LOVELY CHUMS (especially as NONE of us had to rush back from/to a show of their own at any point!) but I think I might have preferred it when we couldn't see as much!

    posted 26/11/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Another Production Meeting
    I was back in Angel last night for another Production Meeting for The Christmas Party, the web series that a bunch of us have written and indeed MADE ready for launch on December 1st.

    Since last we met we'd actually managed to FILM all seven episodes of the series, and they were now being edited, which was pretty amazing really. Usually with this sort of thing everyone goes "Whoo! Yeah! Let's make a thing!" then talks about it LOTS but never actually DOES anything,but somehow we seem to have managed to PUSH ON and arrived, pretty much on time. I guess having CHRISTMAS as an unmovable deadline helps!

    The meeting sped along at high speed with DECISIONS and IDEAS, with the most EXCITING section being when we talked about PUBLICISING it. As a WISE HEAD (hem hem) said, the big achievement will be when we've FINISHED them and we have an Actual Proper Web Series What We Made available for people to enjoy. The FUN bit will be all the extra stuff we do telling people about it, entering it for competitions, and seeing what ADVENTURES come about as a result. In this respect it is VERY MUCH like when you spend ages and ages making an album - the end product is the ARTEFACT you produce (whether that's a vinyl album, a CD, or a set of mp3s), but the FUN comes from all the unexpected things that happen after.

    Talking of which, if you're reading this and are INTERESTED, you can LIKE the series on our facebook page, FOLLOW it on twitter or subscribe to the YouTube Channel, where everything will be uploaded at the start of the next month.

    There's also a fair chance i'll be mentioning it here too.

    Job done we headed over to the PUB for BEERS and so forth, where I was AMAZED to discover that I had not told anybody the story of Hey Hey 16K. I was astounded at my own self-control - I'd known these delightful people over a year and had STILL not got around to showing off about it! I set that right straight away - AT LENGTH.

    We left the pub full of the joys of MOVIE MAKING, also BOOZE. There's only ten days left until it'll be available for everyone to see: EXCITING!

    posted 21/11/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    An Actual Band Practice
    Usually when I stay away from home I wake up at about 6am and am unable to go back to sleep due to PINING, so on Sunday it was WEIRD to wake up and realise it was 9:30am and I had to get up to catch my train. The reason for the change was that The Hands On My Clock had come to Sheffield with me for the night before's ACE gig, and thus PINING was not required.

    We gathered ourselves up and got the train - herself going all the way to London, me getting off at DERBY to go to An Actual Band Practice. For LO! it turned out that (nearly) all Validators could MAKE IT for a lunchtime practice in that fair city, so we DID.

    We were booked in at The Music Shed, which is where we USED to practice until about six years ago when, as far as we can recall, we couldn't get a booking for a specific date so started using the Abbey instead. It's REALLY near the station though, so we gave it another go. It has MOVED since we were last there, but luckily there was a Francis A Machine wandering around looking for it too when I got nearby, and a man sat outside showed us the way in. It was MUCH NICER than it used to be, CLEAN in studio AND in toilets (RARE for a rehearsal room), with decent sound seperation, DELIGHTFUL staff, reasonable gear and a CAFE right next door to it. At half time we had Proper Coffee and I had a CORNFLAKE CAKE!!

    Amazingly I was the LAST to arrive, as me and Frankie stepped in at 2 minutes past noon to find that Tom and Tim had already got there. This was UNPRECEDENTED! Emma wasn't there - for some reason she felt she could afford NOT to spend two hours watching the rest of us fight over ARRANGEMENTS and/or talk about Doctor Who - but the rest of us were in FULL EFFECT. We kicked off with a go at Burn It Down And Start Again, which The Vlads had JAMMED UP when they last got together. They were all VERY KEEN on it but I'd never quite got WHY... until we actually played it. COR! It sounded AMAZING!

    Next up was (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock, the one which I was most keen on. I'd try to SELL it to The Vlads as being based on one of the other songs they'd jammed, but this policy BACKFIRED slightly when Tim got A Bit Upset because his FAVOURITE BIT was no longer in the song. We worked through these issues and ended up putting A LOT of work into the song - poor old Tim found himself laden down with all SORTS of fills, BITS, stops and dropouts but, as we agreed, this was all part of it being a HIT. BY the time we finished it sounded AMAZING!

    We then had the BREAK mentioned above, during which we all agreed that we should do "a thirty minute album full of hits, recorded really simply." I pointed out that we ALWAYS say this before recording an album, which Tim disputed but which was confirmed by EVERYBODY ELSE. Maybe this time we WILL?

    We regrouped for a quick go at Can We Be Friends which sounded ALL RIGHT but needed a Better Chorus. This is my HOMEWORK! Finally we worked on 20 Things To Do Before You're 30, which managed to work in the parts that Tim had LOST from (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock by becoming A Right Old Chugger. It sounded GRATE, especially in verse 3 when The Tiger slipped into PIZZICATO.

    We finished with a runthrough of What We Have Done and then headed round the corner to the pub - we went to The Alexander, which I've never been to before, because it was about 20 seconds closer than our usual haunt The Brunswick. It was very nice and, oddly, had a PUB RABBIT. I very much approve of and enjoy the increased tendency for PUB CATS, but was a bit thrown by a RABBIT.

    It felt like the start of a NEXT PHASE for Validators... and also was a chance to go back to discussing DOCTOR WHO and STUFF in general. This is always the best bit of any Validators get together, when we get the ROCK stuff done and then just sit around having a bit of a NATTER, and it was LOVELY to be back doing it. Hopefully next year will see a bit MORE of this sort of thing, as I'll a) finish my degree b) not be doing an Edinburgh show. Another thing we always do at this point is confidently predict that the album will be finished within a YEAR, which ALSO never happens, but this did at least feel like the START of new sessions. Set your alarm clock for 2019 when we'll doub tless be releasing a triple album of BAROQUE POP!

    posted 19/11/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    My Little Owl
    Myself and The Steels In My Works set off for SHEFFIELD on Saturday, as I was booked to play at an acoustical My Little Owl night. I have been to Sheffield MANY MANY times but I've almost always been on my own - having The Sheets On My Bed there BLEW MY MIND a little as I kept thinking "OOh, I'll ring/text home" and then realising she was stood next to me. It was ACE!

    We booked into My Usual Suite at The Ibis, had a coffee, then wandered along to The Rutland Arms for what would turn out to be (SPOILERS) a MAGICAL night. Unfortunately Mrs V Ransome (Promoter) was poorly, but her deputies Mr D Ransome and Mr M Popstar did a GRATE job sorting everything out. I was also DELIGHTED to see Mr P Knight who I haven't seen for AGES, largely due to him being INCREDIBLY ILL. His Mum & Dad were there too, and they told us how, basically, they'd saved his LIFE!!

    Also there was Mr Alex Hale, who took possession of the GTR I was offering last week, Dave The Gardener (who provided us with the TREE we asked for on our rider in HULL many years ago) and Mr Martin Stephenson aka Martin Stephenson Of Martin Stephenson And The Daintees Who Seemed To Play Leicester Phoenix Arts every other week when I was at Poly. It turned out he's the PARTNER of Helen McCookerybook (who was headlining) - Markie was ALSO very excited about this!

    Soon it was SHOWTIME and the first band on were Seven Tors, who I knew nothing about in advance but were EXCELLENT. Everything they did sounded LOVELY, especially when they were all singing along together - they had a brilliant SOUND, it was a TERRIFIC start to the evening!

    Next were Robberie - I'd never seen them or heard any of their stuff, but had read rave reviews online which, somehow, had given me the idea that I'd find them a bit twee and/or boring. I was ENTIRELY WRONG and indeed BLOWN AWAY by the same - they were AMAZING! They too had a brilliant SOUND and GRATE songs that were a) moving b) FUNNY. I must adjust my Preconception Generator and Enthusiastic Twee Review filter to prevent this happening again - they were my favourite band I've seen for AGES!

    Then it was MY TURN to go on. I had been Careful and Professional (i.e. had at some point had a pint of Diet Coke instead of BEER) so managed to get the following pretty much RIGHT:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • If You're Too Turned On
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • We Did It Anyway
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • It was a HUGELY enjoyable thing to do - there was LARFS there was REMARKS and, as Helen McCookerybook reports, there was a LOT of singing along. I had a GRATE time!

    And then it was Helen McCookerybook herself who, in line with the whole rest of the evening, was GRATE. I played with her donkey's years ago in Brixton and enjoyed it then, but this time, sitting VERY close (we were at the front) in a lovely room full of lovely people, she was magical. Excellent , distinctive, songs sung in a lovely voice, open emotions, and all round BRILLIANCE. I was also moved by Martin Stephenson spending the whole gig trying to Be Supportive (by being nearby and playing some VERY GOOD guitar) while not Taking Over The Attention Himself. It was very sweet!

    The music ended and the rest of the evening turned to more BEER and more CHAT and a general air of everything being DELIGHTFUL. It was a totally magical night, really, and JUST THE TONIC as WINTER kicks in. The only downside, really, is that it made me REALLY want to re-start Totally Acoustic sooner!

    posted 18/11/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Filming The Back-Up
    It was a big night on Tuesday, as we met up at SKOOL to film my episode of our "The Christmas Party" web series, "The Back-Up". After months of talking, writing, arranging and LINE LEARNING it was finally time to DO it, and I was AFEARED.

    I didn't think i WOULD be all that worried, as I've done lots of filming stuff before but never this PROPER with an Actual Crew and Actual Lines and Actual CAST in it. One thing I was extra worried about was actually getting IN to the location - we were filming in the office of our course leader (he works in a basement!) and there had been some negotiation with SECURITY to let us in, but as it happened everything went FINE. Once in we had our first LOOK at the room - it was nothing at all like I'd thought it would be, so some on the spot RE-IMAGINING was required. It was around this point that Don pretty much BECAME the director. In theory I was meant to be doing it myself, but Don (who was theoretically just there with his pal Dave to do the filming and lights) totally knew what he was on about, came up with all sorts of suggestions, and when we DID the filming was the one suggesting re-takes when necessary. It was actually very similar to going into a studio with a GOOD engineer who cares about what's happening - it's much more sensible to listen to The Person Who Has A Clue, so that's what I did, which allowed me to concentrate on forgetting my lines and doing The Acting.

    The rest of the cast - Madicken, Harry and Jenny - were all GRATE and the whole experience FLEW by in an oddly JOLLY haze, as you can see from this in-depth VIDEO DIARY what I did of the proceedings:



    We got everything done by about nine o'clock and fifteen minutes later we were stood outside DONE. It felt weird having FINISHED after so long preparing stuff, but then it's not REALLY finished at all. There's still editing to do and then we FLY into the HUGE MEDIA FRENZY of our Social Media Campaign, but this felt like a Big Milestone. Mine was the LAST to be filmed, so that means we've actually DONE it - seven episodes planned, plotted, written, re-written, cast and FILMED, which is pretty bloody amazing i reckon!

    The series gets released on December 1st, and I will doubtless be banging on about it AT LENGTH here, but if you'd like to be sure to get the updates you can follow the series on twitter, LIKE it on Facebook or SUBSCRIBE to our channel on YouTube. SO MODERN!

    posted 14/11/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Yorkshire Birthday Party
    On Saturday morning I was due to meet The Hewitts at The Railway Station in order to head North to distant LEEDS, to take part in the celebrations for Paul and Steve Morricone's 40th Birthday. I arrived at Kings Cross in good time... then PANICKED. What station was I meant to be at?!? I'd been to Kings Cross a couple of times lately, and thought I must have come there by force of habit so, chiding myself, crossed over to St Pancras. There were no trains at all for Leeds there - was it mean to be Euston? I had just enough time to get there, but before I did I checked on my Train App.

    Two minutes later I was back in Kings Cross where I was meant to be all along. I met The Hewitts and the rest of the journey was a lot less panicked!

    We arrived in Leeds and I settled into The Brewery Tap while they went to get checked in to their hotel. It was very nice, but CRIKEY it was LOUD - EVERYWHERE in Leeds is LOUD! The station also had been a RIGHT RACKET of people SHOUTING at each other. They weren't being angry or anything, that just seems to be how people in Leeds talk. I've noticed it when I've been before (you can't miss it!), everyone just BELLOWS all the time. The only other place like it seems to be East London, where pubs are DEAFENING!

    The Hewitts returned, we had another pint, then got a taxi over to The Brudenell Social Club. I last played there about ten years ago, and the whole building had clearly BEEN a Social Club, but since then they had changed it a little bit so it looked more like the Circuit Venue it has become. It's not changed a LOT - one side of the club is STILL a Social Club, and they'd mostly put a carpet down and made the stage a bit standard - and it still looked LOVELY. We hugged Morricones generally, had a beer, watched Mr D Cooke do a set of acoustical Being 747 songs,then went on and did MOON HORSE Total Hero Team.

    I'd wondered about whether this would be the right thing to HAVE in the afternoon at a birthday party, and it turned out that people turning up to say hello to family and friends don't really EXPECTto be subjected to an hour long ROCK OPERA, but everyone was very nice about it and applauded in the right places, so it was all FINE. I was, however, VERY PROUD INDEED of Steve throughout - there was a time when he would have FLAGGED or become DISHEARTENED by the fact that this wasn't really the right place for us to do such a thing, but he maintained his end of the act MANFULLY throughout, GOING for it, ad-libbing and generally covering when certain other members of the team forgot great chunks of story.

    Job done we returned to the rest of the day, which featured A Small Dark Stranger, one man with a backing tape and a LOT of dance moves who was VERY MUCH suited to the time of day and event, he was EXCELLENT!

    And then it was time to go home - we got a lift back into town together, and were driven by a Proper Yorkshire Taxi Driver i.e. a bloke with a MASSIVE Yorkshire Pakistani accent (which sounds oddly like a Derby accent) and a LOT to say. He was ACE and a delightful finale for my brief expedition into Yorkshire. I'm back again THIS weekend, in the South rather than West of the region, to play the Rutland Arms in Sheffield on Saturday. I can't wait!

    posted 11/11/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    I Upset A Chugger
    Walking home from the tube station last night I met a chugger*. (*NOTE FOR FUTURE READERS: these have probably been OUTLAWED in The Future, but here in the early 21st Century "chuggers" - "charity muggers" - are people who stand on the street, usually in town centres, trying to get people to sign up to donate to charities. They're don't WORK for charities, they're not volunteers or anything, and the companies they work for take a healthy SLICE out of your donation for their own purposes.)

    I work in Central London, so I'm well used to chuggers - INDEED that very lunchtime I'd walked through a gauntlet of several of them as I popped out for lunch. What usually happens is they say "Hello!" and come over all smiley, so I reply "Hello!" or, if they've tried a different form of engagement (sometimes they say "Hey! How are you today!" or pay you a compliment) I reply POLITELY. To be honest the whole thing makes me angry - they're pretending to be friendly and to just want a quick chat, but they're really after your CA$H and, as I say in the above NOTE, they're NOT actually charity workers themselves - but I don't want to become the sort of person who is uniformly GRUMPY to people in the street. I think if we all get ARSEY with chuggers like this then it bleeds into the rest of life and we become ARSEY with people who might genuinely want to say hello.

    So yes, I do TRY and be polite, and say "No thanks" when they continue "have you got a minute?" even though I know IT'S NOT JUST A MINUTE they'll a) take b) want. HOWEVER, there is a form a Chugger Ploy that makes me SO ANNOYED I am UNABLE TO BE POLITE, and this is what happened in my interaction later that evening. I was coming up to the corner of Leytonstone High Road when this guy saw me coming, prepared himself, and LUNGED for me, hand out for a Pally Handshake, saying "Hello mate!"

    This makes me SPITTING MAD - it's an invasion of personal space, it's a perversion of ACTUAL HUMAN PLEASANTRY and, as I say, by ABUSING people's natural POLITENESS and unwillingness to appear RUDE they're ACTIVELY WORSENING SOCIETY by making us all a lot less likely to accept the friendliness of strangers. SO when this pillock LUNGED at me all false smiles and SPACE INVASION saying "Hello mate" As he stood there, half blocking my way, I swerved round and replied, not angrily or loudly but certainly grumpily: "No mate. Piss off."

    It's not the biggest of swears nor can it POSSIBLY be the worst thing a chugger will ever hear, but this guy was UTTERLY MORTIFIED. He could not BELIEVE that anyone would speak to him this way. "WHAT?!" he yelped. "WHAT did you say?" I did not pause to explain, though I did consider stopping and telling him EXACTLY why I was annoyed, but had visions of this being a NEW METHOD to force you to talk to them. I turned round to see if he WAS actually upset, and saw that he'd part followed me down the street, arms outstretched, OVERACTNG HORRIBLY about how ASTOUNDED he was that anybody - ANYBODY - could take his act of goodwill as anything but PURE PHILANTHROPY, still demanding an explanation from me and anybody nearby.

    He was, not to put too fine a point on it, being a TWAT, but being ME I then spent the rest of the walk home worrying about it. WAS he really upset? HAD I been harsh? But as I neared home I remembered another incident a few years ago. I was walking down Tottenham Court Road and saw some Chuggers ahead, who I politely rebuffed. I was musing about how they were actively making people less likely to react in a friendly way to strangers when a man leapt in front of me, hand outstretched for a handshake, saying "Hello sir!" He didn't have a High Vis Jacket or charity t-shirt or even a LANYARD on, and I thought to myself "Come on Mark, don't let the chuggers stop you being friendly - look, here's another human being offering the hand of friendship", so I took it and shook it.

    The man then turned his back on me without saying a WORD, turning towards a group of young people and said "And that's how you get people to engage with you, easy isn't it?" He had USED ME AS A DEMONSTRATION OF HIS EVIL! This memory made me angry ALL OVER AGAIN - I know there are more pressing, unpleasant and harmful things going on in the world and INDEED on the streets, but I genuinely think that this is something that is making society LESS POLITE and LESS FRIENDLY. It's certainly having that effect on me - next time this sort of thing happens to me I may escalate and say "RUDDY piss off!" YOU WATCH ME!

    posted 8/11/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Guitar To A Good Home
    As part of the ongoing CLEAROUT that is going on chez moi at the moment I've been thinking about what to do with my various GUITARS. I have TWO gig guitars, an electrical guitar, a bass guitar, two ukeleles, the use of a (very nice) guitar belonging to The Strings On My Fretboard and also my original guitar, what I first learned to play on (as much as I ever have anyway), which has been sitting in a corner of the room for a decade, secured inside a grey foam guitar case. Last night I thought I'd get it out for a LOOK, and here's what I saw:



    As you can see from the above, it got a LOT of use in the mid-90s, but hasn't really been out of the box since then and is unlikely ever to be used by me again. It's a fairly cheap Hohner in desperate need of a CLEAN and re-string but I think it could suit somebody quite nicely as a first guitar so I thought, rather than LUG it around with me for another decade, or try putting it on eBay, I'd see if anybody who reads THIS would like to have it? I'm giving it away for FREE to anyone who can meet me in That London for a handover in the next few weeks, my only condition is that it goes to someone who will LOVE it i.e. to do GIGS with or for somebody to LEARN guitar on.

    Or, of course, if there is a ROCK MUSEUM who would like it - it is, after all, a BIG SLICE OF ROCK HISTORY.

    So yes, if you would like it, can give it a good home, and can meet me sometime this month in Central London to pick it up, let me know!

    posted 7/11/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    New Video Evidence Emerges
    As mentioned the other day, I'm having a bit of a clearout at the moment, part of which involves going through my BUREAU and finding loads of old PHOTOGRAPHS. I've got a big pile of these on CD - back when people were first putting pictures on computers BUT were using cameras with film in, you used to be able to get a CD of all your pictures from BOOTS along with prints, and I did this a LOT! Looking at them I had a sudden BRANEWAVE: you can fit a LOT more than 24 pictures on a CD, wouldn't it be more sensible to stick all of these together onto an external hard drive instead, thus saving a TONNE of space and maybe even leading to LOOKING at them some time?

    Thus on Monday night I started doing exactly that, transferring them all onto my computer disk by disk, ready for a BIG TRANSFER. As well as my own CDs I'd also got a few from other people, including one from Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey that had a VERY exciting listing of VOON and The Council gigs on it. Imagine then my disappointment to find it didn't WORK - there weren't ANY pictures on it and just some weird video files that... hang on, could this be an actual DVD?

    I clicked a couple of THINGS and suddenly - KER-POW! - I found myself watching an ACTUAL VIDEO of The Council (in the Neil + me + drum machine formation) playing at The Physio & Firkin! The ENTIRE GIG was on there, as was TWO complete Voon gigs at The Durham Ox, TWO complete recordings of The Council's HEADLINE GIG at Abbey Park Festival and ALL SORTS more. It was amazing - I dimly recall Dave giving me the DVD but had forgotten all about it, and now found myself looking at the events of 15 years ago with astounding clarity. We looked so THIN! And HAIRY! And ... otherwise pretty much the same. I was MOST astonished about how GOOD it sounded - well, some of the Me And Neil Council was a bit MARDY, but the Voon gig sounded FANTASTIC, and the three-piece Council (feat. an INCREDIBLY DRUNK Tim) was AMAZING. I remember us being too pissed to play anything, but it sounds ACE, and there's an ACTUAL GENUINE CROWD!!!

    I'm going to do my very very best to get these onto YouTube in the near future - I might even set up a new channel for it, so I can do whole gigs (song by song) without it mucking up the normal "service". I'm even thinking about MAYBE doing a proper edit of the Abbey Park gig - with two camera angles,it could be a DOCUMENTARY for the ages!

    If it DOESN'T happen by Christmas please do feel free to pester me about it, these artefacts are ROCK HISTORY and must be seen!

    posted 6/11/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Hardest Job In The World
    I was back at SCHOOL on Thursday night, not for BOOK LEARNING but for some Actual Filming, for LO! I was in to do ACTING in an episode of our web series, The Christmas Party. I was a bit nervous, so arrived early to meet everyone in the University foyer. Unfortunately I was in the WRONG FOYER so ended up arriving when everyone else was in full swing, PLANNING.

    There were only two of us ACTING, but there were FIVE other people - Madicken (writer/director), Don (cameraman), Dave (Don's mate, sound and lights), Lars (assistant directing and editing) and Tamara (wig technician!) - and while they discussed how they were going to DO filming me and Nikki (ACTING) went and sat and had a runthrough. I'd been diligently learning lines but hadn't otherwise considered what we were actually going to DO until this moment, and FEAR started to seep in!

    We're doing EXTRAS for all the episodes, so we did an INTERVIEW bit which was good fun (I like this sort of thing,it is licensed SHOWING OFF) and which hopefully you can see by CLICKING HERE.

    That done we headed upstairs to the room we were using. A floor grille plays a VITAL part in the story, and we all stood around impressed by how easy this was to simulate using a grill lid TAPED to the floor over black paper. MOVIE MAGIC! The rest of the evening seemed to mostly be me and Nikki having to shuffle around into the right place while cameras were set up for ages, then doing sudden tiny bits of THE ACTING. You read about FILM ACTORS doing this sort of thing but I'd never really DONE it before, and they are right when they say it is WEIRD. Whenever I've done LIVE acting/titting around stuff it's mostly been about lairing around and making people LARF, but this was mostly about getting the right things in FRAME and doing it the same from take to take. You can see why STAGE actors look a bit HAMMY on screen, and also why people like Keanu Reeves get so much work - he's ALWAYS the same!

    The main thing I took away from the experience is that film acting hurts your BACK, as I had to do a LOT of stooping and then HOLDING the position to get camera positions right! I also got to listen to people SAYING things between takes, which was very handy - we're filming MY episode on Friday, so I am intending to pretend I know all about the Clever Stuff ALREADY and will try and Pass It Off Lightly. Nobody reads these blogs, right?

    posted 5/11/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Scott Of The Antarctic
    On Wednesday last week night I met with Mr S Hewitt for another night of post-Edinburgh Edinburgh NESS. It started off with a MEETING to discuss future Total Hero Team PLANS. I've been FRETTING and WORRYING about how on earth we were going to record a version of the show for THE AGES. With previous shows we have recorded them as a multi-media extra , a full on concept album and a series of podcasts but this time I was planning something MORE AMBITIOUS i.e. a full-on VIDEO SERIES. However, the more i've thought about it the more i've realised that this would be a LIVING NIGHTMARE - for instance, I spent a MONTH trying to work out a SCRIPT for it, and only got about a quarter of the way through before the sheer HUGENESS of trying to film the whole story with JUST the two of us overwhelmed me. It would, it turns out, be like recording an album of sixteen songs then filming a hugely complicated video for EACH AND EVERY ONE, always making sure they lined up together.

    After much WORRY and BOTHERING Steve and The Lines In My Script about it I FINALLY realised that this might all be A Bit Much so, after wavering through various other ideas, I think I've decided to do it instead as a six part WEB RADIO series, like what they did with A Brief History Of Time Travel but SHORTER and a bit more lo-fi. This way I can do a small re-write to include more NAMES in the script (obviously mine and Steve's mastery of ACCENTS means most people will be able to distinguish between characters easily, but we don't want anybody left behind...) and we can add some SOUND EFFECTS where necessary. It will, I think, be two things I look for in a project: EASY and GOOD!

    With that decided we headed over to The Star Of Kings where we were joined by the aforesaid Actors In My Play to see "Scott Of The Antarctic", the new show by Fran and The Cheshire Liberation Front, our top PALS from The Buffs Club a couple of years ago. We shared our slot at the Dram House with them at Edinburgh this year - we did the first two weeks, they did the last - so we never got to SEE them, and thus were very grateful for this second chance to do so.

    Here is my review of the evening: it was GRATE! There were SIX of them larking about with HATS and WIGS and a LOT of being very silly indeed - like when we saw The Beta Males the other week this MYSTERIOUSLY appealed to me A LOT. Can't think why. There were songs, including a theme tune that i am STILL SINGING, a proper story and a LOT of GAGS. It was lovely - I do hope Grown Men Titting About In Hats becomes a BIG TREND that the newspapers CA$H IN on soon!

    posted 4/11/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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    Still On About The Beatles
    I'm still reading that Beatles book - well, obviously I am, it's MASSIVE - and it's doing something I thought would be mathematically impossible i.e. making me love The Beatles EVEN MORE.

    The reason for this is that I'd never realised how RUBBISH they were when they started out. The bit I read this morning had them going up to Scotland as Johnny Gentle's backing band. It's a story that appears in ALL Beatles biographies, but usually only as a paragraph right at the very start. This time around it's a whole CHAPTER nearly 400 pages in, so you get the full sense of the YEARS they spent hovering around the edges of other bands beforehand, being CRAP. Ringo's band, Rory Storm And The Hurricanes, are really GOOD, so get paid properly and have just got booked to play at Butlins. The Beatles (who have just finally decided to call themselves that) are STILL scrabbling around looking for a drummer, STILL don't have enough amps so have to keep borrowing them, are STILL having to lug everything on the bus to what few gigs they can manage to get, and appear to STILL be TERRIBLE.

    And all the while that this is going on George is at work, Paul's revising for his A Levels, and John and Stu are living in squalor in a bedsit... which George and Paul come and stay in, FOUR to a room, at weekends, freezing cold and hungry, while their PARENTS (what parents they're in touch with anyway - George is the only one with both parents at home) worry about them. I'm sure ANYONE who's ever been in a band will remember that bit, the DREARY STRUGGLE of trying to get gigs and then being crap when you DO do them, especially compared to The Popular Local Band who practice, have proper gear, and who people LIKE.

    There's other lovely bits, like the terrible letters Paul and Stu write to promoters to try and get gigs - the same terrible letters that local bands now send as emails, talking about their competence and growing reputation. I also love the fact that they do STUPID things, like walk out of regular gigs and just not turn UP for others, in the way that only idiotic cocky teenagers do that MYSTIFIES anyone over 20 (including Mark Lewisohn). Best of all is the image of Paul and George, a year younger than the other two, being allowed to go to STUDENT PARTIES, and Paul thinking it's a good idea to PRETEND TO BE FRENCH as a way of getting girls to talk to him. There's a beautiful description of him sitting in a corner in a black polo neck, smoking a PIPE, strumming a song with some made up french words on a guitar in a corner. It's something that STILL happens all around the country, although usually the daft song DOESN'T turn out to be "Michelle" a few years later and be covered a zillion times all over the world.

    To be honest, that's probably what's making me happiest, the fact that they went through EXACTLY the same sort of stuff we did in the band Voon EXCEPT that a) we used a shopping trolley to lug gear around instead of the bus and b) they went on to become the biggest band on the planet. Otherwise we were the SAME!

    Because that's the big thing - from other biographies there's a sense that it was all ALWAYS going to happen, that there was something special and unusual about them right from the start, and all they had to do was follow their destiny. This made it seem WEIRD when, interviewed later, ALL of them said "we were just a band", but this book's finally made me realise they WERE. They started off the lowest of the low, with no hope whatsoever of even getting a Butlin's booking, no money to get gear, and nobody helping them, and that's what makes the story all the more amazing, and that's why it's made me love them even more.

    I'm not even halfway through the book yet - expect MORE!

    posted 1/11/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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