BB news

Our intrepid BB reporter, codenamelizzy, is on a day or two’s sabbatical from writing, and has requested someone to fill in. As I haven’t actually been watching, here’s my predictions for what has happened in the house over the last couple of days –

Day 17

‘the house has run out of food, and George has offered his leg as part of the rationing. This caused another argument with Traci, as she would rather die than eat meat, even meat from people she would rather were dead anyway’

Day 18

‘at maggot’s prompting, Dennis has been requesting a ‘Faria Special’. Unfortunately, his american accent was misunderstood, and BB supplied two horseshoes which Pete had to nail into Dennis’ feet as this week’s shopping task. They succeeded in the shopping task, though Dennis passed out from loss of blood and will never walk again. The housemates are divided on whether it was a worthwhile sacrifice or not. Never one to miss an opportunity, while lying bleeding on the floor, Dennis tried to tell each of the women in the house in turn that sex would cure his feet. None of them believed him, and managed to stay out of arm’s reach to avoid further molestation.

‘Because Chantelle has said she won’t kiss Preston as he has a girlfriend, they’ve skipped that part, and have applied for adoption. Big Brother is hoping to fast track the paperwork and deliver their new child to them in the house. The baby will not be eligible for eviction on its first week in the house, but after that, will be asked to nominate housemates like the rest of them.’

A day off

didn’t have any gigs or recording or NAMMing to do today, so had a mellow day pottering up the Pacific Coastal Highway – that’s Highway 1. It runs all the way from San Diego up into Oregon, I think (maybe even to Seattle – anyone care to put me right?) – I’ve driven it from LA to the Bay Area before, but never the bit below LA. As I was staying just south of Long Beach last night, I started there and headed slowly up the coast.

There were some lovely bits and some really grim bits – Seal Beach sounded like a nice place, but turned out to be largely just some hideous Naval war machine thing. then there was LA harbour – Steve Brown, if you ever need a location for some kind of post-apocalyptic industrial wasteland for a photo shoot, that’s the place!

and I got all the way to Venice Beach which I know quite well anyway.

Throughout the day I was phoning all my southern california chums, catching up and arranging where and when to meet up. Eventually got through to Kerry Getz, who I’ve played with in London before now, and so we were able to catch up this evening, which was lovely.

And now I’ve found that the house next door to where I’m staying has an unsecured wireless connection, so that’s how I’m online now! Gotta love untech-savvy peoples!

Soundtrack – Francis Dunnery, ‘Man’ (I’m struck once again by what an incredble album this is – the tunes and vocals are outstanding, Frank’s guitar playing is an glorious as ever, but the real revelation is Matt Pegg’s bass playing – some of the most amazing singer/songwriter bass playing I’ve ever heard – his sound, his phrasing and his choice of style is so unlike anything else I’ve heard before. Definitely one of my favourite bass albums.) The rest of the in-car tunage from the last few days – Juliet Turner, ‘Live’ (another glorious album); Foo Fighters, ‘The Colour And The Shape’; OST, ‘Bugsy Malone’; Scritti Politti, ‘Cupid And Psyche’.

Travelblog 2

Well, that was a long flight – about 6 hours in, a woman fell ill, and the plane was diverted to Winnipeg to take her to hospital. Apparently the paramedics on the ground said if they’d tried to make it to LA she may well have died, so we were glad they stopped. But it did make the plane three hours late.

Was planning on going to see Muriel Anderson in concert, and had been invited to sit in on a tune or two, but after the delay, I got to the gig about 20 mins before she started so just said hello, heard two songs and headed off to Ventura.

Staying in Ventura for the next couple of days with Jeff Kaiser – a fab free trumpeter, who I’m doing Monday’s gig with. We’re recording today, and he’s plying me with mint tea to help the jetlag recovery.

The weird thing is missing home already – TSP and the felines have house guests while I’m not here, which is dreadful timing – I get to miss hanging with friends as well as seeing my boys and the small person. I’m having a great time here, but it doesn’t stop me missing home.

Today’s plan is to record some stuff with Jeff, then buy a mobile phone (last year’s namm show phone bill was huge, so I’m going to buy a US phone to save me lots of money).

so, time to get moving!

travelblog 1

so I’m in the departure lounge at heathrow, waiting for my gate number. Bagel for breakfast, sipping mint tea.

Yesterday was a manic day – first the lost passport, the the found passport (we all like passports have gone astray… etc.) then 6 hours teaching, 5 hours with a bag of poo on my head (actually it was bodyshop henna, but it’s somewhat akin to having a bag of poo on your head. Packing, dismantling music rack and reassembling travel rack, software update for Looperlative, 10 minutes playing with said new software, which rules, one curry, about half an hour of Big Brother (keep reading Lizzy for the real deal on it), and then finally 3 hours of sleep.

A crap night’s sleep before a flight is actually a godsend – I’ll sleep on the plane, and may avert most of my jetlag.

Still buzzing from Thursday night’s gig – I enjoyed every single aspect of it, and good reports are still coming in.

more from LA in a few hours…

homeless shelters and tax returns

Catching up – three very very busy teaching days Thurs/Fri/Saturday – much fun. Busy days like those are a great confirmation of how much I enjoy teaching, I love getting to the end of a day, feeling that I’ve worked hard, and the students have all taken away lots of good quality stuff to work on, hopefully been inspired and are beavering away at their practice!

Saturday after teaching was a visit to see my dad – really ought to see him more as he only lives half an hour away. A most enjoyable few hours.

Had to leave fairly early as I was doing an overnight shift in the St Luke’s homeless shelter – long-time blog readers will remember said shelter from previous years – this is i think my fifth or sixth year of helping out. It’s hardly a huge commitment – I tend to do every other saturday night from january to march, excluding saturdays when I’m not actually in the country…

this was the first night of the new year for the shelter, and was utterly without incident. But it did give me a chance to finish one of my christmas present books – ‘Serious’ by John McEnroe. A good read, for sure, clearly aimed at tennis fans (a fair few play by play dissections of big games, big sets big matches). He didn’t turn out to be quite the sage I’d assumed he was from his commentary skills – he’s one of the best sports commentators I’ve ever encountered (and, to be fair, that’s not many, given my general antipathy to all sport except tennis), but his wisdom in commentating on the psyche of the players doesn’t really seem to have come from having lived a sage life. Maybe he’s just learned from having got it all wrong in his own life. Definitely a worthwhile read though.

So not much sleep last night, which meant two things – a) I missed church by not waking up til 1pm after getting to bed at 6.45, and b) I missed most of the Soil Association organic market thingie happening down by the Barbican. It was organised by the lovely Ruthie, and featured some lovely live music from the lovely Andy Buzzard and Jonny Gee. Great to see them play, if only for one number. Also gave me a chance to meet lots of cuddly musos and invite them along to Thursday’s Recycle Collective gig, which I’m getting more and more excited about the closer it gets – the potential musical marvellousness in a trio of me, Cleveland and BJ is pretty huge, methinks. We’ve played together before, when I did a gig at Darbucka last year that both of them guested on, and it was magical. Don’t miss it!

So, after getting back from the organic thingie, I’ve just finished, submitted and paid my tax return/bill for 2004-2005. Fortunately, I only had about £50 to pay over and above what I’d already paid on account for last year… well, fortunately for now, unfortunate if you think that it means I earned less than the previous year (main reason for that is that in 2004 I was still receiving HUGE PRS cheques for the Level 42 tour…) Good news is, online CD sales were higher in 04-05 than ever before, which is great news.

One of my resolutions for next year is not to leave it til Jan 2006 to submit my tax return. I’d LOVE to actually get it done in April for the first time ever, and then have all year to pay a figure that I actually know. In order to do that, I’ll have to get my financial records for this year up to date in the next week, so I can stay on top of it from here on in… here’s hoping.

As an aside, I submitted my tax return online – what a breeze! It does all the calculating for you, tells you the boxes you’ve missed, makes sure your sums all add up, and gives you a print out at the end. Couldn’t be easier.

And now I’ve done the taxation bit, I feel inspired to write some letters to my MP to do something about the representation bit. I’m a fan of tax, in principle, I’m happy to pay my way, and to pay more to help those who haven’t got enough. But I do wish we had more say over how it was spent, and a less wasteful exchequer – Government spending is a disaster, which while not doing away with the need for taxation, certainly makes most people’s loathing of it a lot easier to understand.

Celeb Big Brother

Sorry for waiting two whole days before blogging about this!

What a rum bunch of D-list no-marks we’ve got in the house! OK, so Barrymore is a ‘real’ celeb, and Dennis Rodman is a massive star in the US, if pretty much unknown in the UK, but Faria Alam? Come on, Channel four, you can do better than that.

The full list, in case you’re not watching it, goes –

George Galloway (Respect party leader and MP)
Rula Lenska (Actress and Ginge)
Tracey Bingham (ex-baywatch no-mark)
Jody Marsh (famous for getting drunk and getting her boobs out in lads-mags. A walking tragedy)
Preston (singer with mod also-rans, the Ordinary Boys)
Maggot (one of the blokes from thus-far one-hit-wonders, Goldie Looking Chain)
Faria Alam (shags footie blokes. No skills, no morals)
Dennis Rodman (one of the greatest basketball players of all time, but clearly a bit of a twat)
Pete Burns (fab singer from Dead Or Alive, trannie and indulger in much plastic surgery)
Michael Barrymore (beseiged mentally ill former lowest common denominator presenter of moronic game shows. Tragic home life, clearly not a well man at all. Really shouldn’t be there)
and some girl called Chantelle who is supposed to be pretending to be a celeb, but isn’t, except that she’s a Paris Hilton lookalike, and former page 3 girl. Car crash TV at its worst.

So, who’s interesting? Well, Pete Burns has always interested me – a fascinating mess of a bloke, sometimes seems incredibly self-assured, at other times overwhelmingly damaged. Maybe we’ll see which.

Galloway is a mixed bag – his speech in the senate was my number one media event of last year, but he’s an egotist and is definitely in dereliction of duty by being there – the man’s a serving MP, FFS!!!

Jody Marsh – if ever there was a case of someone whining about a world they’ve created for themselves, and could end at any moment it’s Jody’s world. Wears not very much, and complains at adverse media attention. Could turn out to be interesting if she has some kind of epiphany about her life. Hugely unlikely though.

Dennis Rodman – one of the most instantly unlikeable people I’ve ever seen on screen. It is interesting to see someone who in ‘normal’ life is always the biggest celeb in the room suddenly in a place where no-one except the Baywatch woman really knows much about him, and none of them could really care less.

Tracey Bingham – the female equiv. of Rodman – instantly gives a very very bad impression on screen. Seems utterly desperate for fame and recognition. Seemingly entirely without merit as a ‘media star’.

Barrymore, as said, shouldn’t really be there.

Faria Alam – are you kidding?

so it’s kind of down to Preston, Maggot and Rula to surprise us all by being really normal and interesting and keeping things in there calm, and generally counterbalancing the emotional pile-up that is already beginning to unfold between the less stable members of the house.

It’s horrible viewing, it’s a crass concept, but I’m going to watch because it’s the first year that we’ve had a freeview box and so can get E4. And that, my friends, is as good a reason as any for wasting all that time. :o)

For the best roundup thus far, have a read of Codenamelizzy‘s daily BB updates. In fact, read all of Lizzy’s blog, she’s a great comedy blogger. Mad in real life, of course, but a great blogger.

Baby It's Cold Inside…

Oh bollocks, the central heating’s broken. Woke up yesterday morning feeling particularly cold, and realised none of the radiators were on. Looked like the boiler was off too, so thought it had died, but switched on hot water, and it sprang to life. So looks like it’s somewhere between the thermostat and the boiler that’s not working. as even when the thermostat is turned up and the central heating is on, it’s not triggering the boiler…

Typically, our plumber doesn’t seem to be contactable, which is a pain in the arse. So we’re heating the whole house with two ancient three-bar electric heaters, which we’re not leaving unattended due to them being so old and therefor an unknown quantity.

At least they are keeping my office warm so I can still teach without freezing my students!

Recommendations for an honest cheap plumber in north london gratefully received.

Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire

believe it or not, I didn’t actually go to the cinema once in the whole of 2005. We saw a few films on DVD, but not one trip to the big screen. The last time I went was to see the 3rd Harry Potter film.

So tonight we went to see the 4th one! We usually go to Barnet Odeon – fairly nice old school cinema, though the sweets ‘n’ stuff are still massively overpriced. But they didn’t have Harry Potter on in the evenings, so we went to the Vue complex at Finchley Lido.

What a shit place! The design is like some really unimaginative 70s version of ‘the future’, with nowhere nice to sit down, and just stupid prices for munchables. Given that the two tickets booked online came to over £15, and the snacks came to over £6, I think it’ll be a while before we bother going there again, given that we could hire three films and get a rather nice curry for that at home. Those mail-order DVD clubs are looking ever more tempting…

Anyway, enough of the shitness of Vue, onto the film, which was fab! I’m a sucker for all the Harry Potter films(them being the only film series that I’ve ever been to all of them at the cinema… hang on, that’s really bad grammar… ah, well, it’s never stopped me before). As the kids grow up, the acting gets better and the plots get darker – this one had some genuine shocker moments, and some horror-type effects around Voldemort. Rupert Grint in particular is shaping up to be a fine lil’ actor.

I’m not sure if it was quite as good as Prisoner Of Azkerban, but definitely at least the second best of the HP films so far. And one of these days I’ll get round to reading the books!

Talking of books, I started one of my Christmas pressies today – ‘Serious’ by John McEnroe. I’m a bit of a tennis fan anyway, and particularly like Mac’s commentary, so thought his take on the world would be worth reading… interesting stuff so far!

New Year's resolutions

Part one, music/work-related –

1) – new solo album
2) – new album with Theo
3) – more gigs in Italy
4) – make headway on first book (any of the ideas will do, no really)
5) – record live DVD? possibly…
6) – establish Recycle Collective as THE monthly gig to be at (it already is, people just don’t know it yet)
7) – do band arrangements of my tunes and gig them (the quartet I’ve been talking about for about a year and a half)
8) – look afresh at distribution deal options
9) – more collaborations!
10) – less time wasted online, more time practicing.

happy new year!

happy new year, bloglings – hope your celebrations were fun, your resolutions realistic and your lessons from 2005 well learned.

onwards and upwards, my lovelies,


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