MJ Hibbett & The Validators


Morrissey Goes Mexican
On Saturday night myself and The Chilli In My Burrito went to London's Barbican Centre to see a show called "Morrissey Goes Mexican". We'd seen it advertised as a Mexican Mariachi band performing the music of Morrissey and The Smiths, which seemed like it might be a lot of fun!

Clearly we weren't then only ones to think so as the show was a sellout. When we arrived we found that it was a mix of middle-aged Smiths fans (you know, THOSE guys), younger people dressed up in semi-fancy dress, and a few Actual Mexican people. We got a drink, waved to Mr J Jervis and cohort who'd also come, and then took our seats for the show.

You get LOVELY seats at The Barbican, comfy and nice and wide, and we'd booked early so we were right near the front on the second row, and thus could watch the roadies fiddling with DI boxes from up close. Someone a bit further back was clearly A Bit Over-Excited and/or had never been to a gig before, as every time (EVERY time) one of the roadies came on he let out a YELP!

After that was all done the lights dimmed and two men came out and picked up their instruments - one a small guitar, one a MASSIVE guitar which, if you closed one eye, made it look like he was an ELF with a ukulele - and proceeded to speak entirely in Spanish between two INCREDIBLY long Very Authentic sounding songs that went on for five minutes EACH. It was, to be honest, INTERMINABLE - at first I squinted with my ears trying to work out what they were singing ("Is this Jeane"?) and then a great worry descended over me and, i feel, the entire audience. Was this IT? Had we been LURED into an ART or - even worse - FOLK MUSIC project of some sort? We'd come for fun, were we going to get CULTURE instead?

Luckily for us, after ten minutes, the rest of the band came on, picked up ROCK instruments, said "Hello" and launched into a fairly faithful version of "Last Of The Gang To Die". PHEW! What followed was a whole heap of HITS, heavily biased towards "Bona Drag" (which we had revised thoroughly, well done us!) all sung in SPANISH and with a slight hint of Being A Bit Mexican. A few songs into this section I suddenly thought "HANG ON - we're listening to a covers band! This is CLEARLY a bunch of Mexican chancers who said to each other 'HAHA! Let's see if anyone in England will pay money to hear us do Smiths songs!'", sort of like YEARS ago when London Bands used to RAKE in audiences with double tribute bands (most famously "GABBA" - Abba songs done in the style of The Ramones). As I thought this I looked up and saw that this is EXACTLY what had happened, and warmed to them IMMENSELY. Each of the band was clearly thinking "CRIKEY!" (or the Mexican equivalent) "Look at us, we're in flipping London playing the flipping Barbican!"

With all that settled in my mind I had a GRATE time. Some of it was distinctly odd - a big rock stadium version of "Everyday Is Like Sunday" with the lady singer BELTING it out like she was on The X Factor, striding from side to side of the stage was particularly RUM, and the mid-encore decision to do "La Bamba" left much of us BEMUSED - but it was also ACE. There was a big screen behind them showing animations, and The Lyrics In My Songsheet suggested that it could have been put to better use showing us the lyrics - several times they said "Sing along!" but we all had to reply "We can't! We know the English words but are not sufficiently adept at Spanish to translate!" (mostly in apologetic facial gestures, but I think they go the idea) but other than that it was a LOT of fun.

Now, does anyone know if there might be a market in the Oahu Barbican for a set of slightly tatty indie versions of Hawaiin Folk Songs? It would be ART!

posted 27/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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More Meetings
I had a lovely day on Thursday doing some proper WRITERLY stuff i.e. not actually doing much writing but a lot of sitting around in cafes talking to people and/or reading books.

For LO! I was In Town for the afternoon, first of all meeting Mr J Dredge for our regular weekly CHAT. We covered a wide range of topics, including a new Character Idea that made us both LARF, and also secured a date to start filming our next THING. This one's going to be a WEB SERIES and will, I hope, be Quite Good.

After that I went and got a HAIRCUT ("A bit less mad Professor" I agreed with my STYLIST) and then wandered around town for a bit. It was a lovely day so I went and sat in Soho Square for a bit to read my book. The other week I finally got my hands on a copy of Steve Lamacq's "Going Deaf For A Living" biography. I'd wanted it for YEARS but it always seemed to cost about thirty quid, so when I spotted one online for Significantly Less i SNAPPED it up. It's dead good and very Steve Lamacq-ily funny, but also the fact that it came out about 15 years ago means it has a NOSTALGIC GLOW to it. Aaah! The days of Radio One being ALL RIGHT!

Around 4pm I headed over to my FAVOURITE PUB, The King & Queen, for my final appointment of the day, with Mr M Tiller. Matt came to the readthrough of The Department a few weeks ago and offered to get together for a PITCH AND PINT session. He works in TELLY so I was eager for his WISDOM - I reckon I've got time to do one more Big Script Project before going to Edinburgh but have THREE ideas, so I PITCHED each of them at him to see which he thought was the best to go for i.e. which was most COMMERICAL. He listened to my ideas (tentatively titled "The Utopians", "Mum & Dad" and "Mick's Comics") and LARFED in the right places for all of them, but suggested that "Mum & Dad" was the one to go for, though possibly with a different title. We then went through the same for three ideas that John and I are thinking of working on next and again, after Correctly Placed LARFS, he gave some Excellent Tips.

It was lovely and, I guess, a Proper Meeting, though due to the good times and also BEER involved it didn't really feel like a meeting at all. As ever with people I've known in ROCK for a while it's always a TREAT to be able to sit down and have a bit of an old chat WITHOUT one or both of you having to dash off after ten minutes to play a GIG and it was a SPECIAL TREAT to be able to do this in the aforesaid lovely pub where I pretty much ALWAYS have to go and do a gig instead of sitting around chatting.

It was a DELIGHTFUL end to a DELIGHTFUL afternoon - who says The Writing is hard work?

posted 24/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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A Thought Shower
I was back in London's Angel area of London last night for a BRANE STORMING session or, as I believe the current terminology would have it, a THORT SHOWER.

This was all in aid of the new show that Mr A Dawson, Producer of the SELLOUT "Sexy Seven" show, is putting on during The Camden Fringe this year. We've got The Hen And Chickens booked for 26-30 August for "London Calling" which will hopefully feature new stuff by about eight of us, and so we had gathered to talk about what we were actually going to DO.

When I arrived I found that Alex had gone to town with the Synergetic Creativity Processing Enabling, not only putting up sheets of paper and laying out coloured pens but also providing SWEETS! It was jolly exciting, and we were soon into the full swing of... well, having a bit of a natter really, but after THAT we got down to business with IDEAS.

I'm a great believer in The Big Idea MANIFESTING itself of its own volition i.e. The Big Idea can take care of itself and will appear unto you given time, rather than you having to bash it out first of all. To be honest I have mostly come to this approach via album titles, as the final album title is NEVER the one you spend three hours arguing about in the pub (or six months discussing on email), it's ALWAYS the one that pops into someone's head when they're not expecting it, and then everyone says "Oh yeah, of course that's it." THUS I argued strongly (bossily) against deciding the theme of the show first, suggesting that we read out what we'd GOT and then see what it all SAID to us.

Amazingly this seemed to WORK. Most of us had got snippets/sketches/SCENES to read out and/or discuss and as we did so, and Alex wrote them on his big sheets of paper, The Big Idea appeared before us on the wall - basically a theme of old vs new, or the constant cycle of CHANGE in London, how that works and what it means. SORT OF.

It all felt very good and there was a TONNE of ideas for us to take away and work up into Actual STUFF for the next meeting, allowing a small group of us to relocate to the PUB for the traditional "That was good wasn't it?" discussion and the even more traditional "oh go on then, just the one more" recital that always follows a good evening. Obviously there's a way to go before the show's written, let alone cast, rehearsed and performed, but I reckon it's going to be GRATE!

posted 23/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The Most Money Ever
Sometimes after gigs people come up to me and ask "Do you make a living doing this?" Sometimes they say it with barely suppressed disbelief, but sometimes they seem to think it is actually possible, so I do my best to disabuse them of the notion calmly without, if at all possible, SCREECHING with laughter and then bursting into tears.

For LO! I very much don't - in fact most things I do tend to LOSE money. Yes, incredible as it may seem, not enough people a) come to gigs b) buy my records to recoup the EXTREMELY MODEST expenses they involve i.e. my visits to the Ibis, rail travel, and essential nutrients hem hem BEER. However, every now and again something comes along which DOES pay out more than I or we have put into it, and when this happens it is a time for great celebration. Examples of this have been That Time We Played A Wedding, That Time I Wrote A Song For A Viral Advert Thing and, of course, That Time We Recorded The Soundtrack For An Online Sitcom. These have never ever been life changing sums of money but it's sometimes been WEEKEND changing money and is all the more enjoyed for that! This week however we have received more money than EVER BEFORE. Again, it's not going to involve moving house, but it's definitely a BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND changing amount of CA$H and it's for something we had pretty much NOTHING to do with.

Several years ago The Fighting Cocks released a song called "Hang Up The Moon" which featured a tiny sample of the instrumental version of Dino At The Sands from the end of WE VALIDATE!. Being a decent sort Charlie From The Fighting Cocks gave an eighth of the publishing of the song to ME - he didn't have to, but he seemed determined to do it and I was very grateful for the 18p or so that I subsequently got for it via the PRS.

However, some time later the song got picked up by a credit card company to maybe be used in one of their adverts. Sums of CA$H were spoken of, lots of negotiations were gone into, a Major Hollywood star was brought in to do the voiceover, a video was made and mixed... and then at the very last minute the advertising agency picked a different song. So near!

A little while after THAT, however, someone noticed that the version of the advert with The Fighting Cocks' song on it had been put onto the interweb. I guess someone just uploaded the wrong file, but nonetheless there it was online, and NEGOTIATIONS were re-entered, ending up with the various publishers of the song getting some Compensatory CA$H.

We got the aforesaid EIGTH of it, which I completely forgot about until this week when John The Publisher sent it on to me along with this year's PRS money, and LO! great joy did spread around - joy which was IN NO WAY DIMINISHED, indeed probably INCREASED when I remembered that this share of an eighth of the total wasn't all for me and that I had to ... I mean, was lucky enough to be ABLE to share it with The Validators.

I couldn't really complain about sharing it out though - after all, this was money for a sample which doesn't appear on the part of the track that was used, in an advert which was never really shown, which I had done absolutely nothing towards making happen! Even more to the point, there's a weekend coming up which will definitely benefit, when The Validators are all together in Congelton for Going Up The Country in June. When that occurs we shall definitely be raising a pint to The Fighting Cocks. Who knows, maybe even a pint of CHAMPAGNE!*

(* or probably Cava. It wasn't that much!)

posted 21/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Stand Up Put Up
A few weeks ago I did a stand-up gig (as reported previously) which was VIDEOED for posterity. I got the video a couple of weeks ago and haven't been brave enough to have a look at it yet as I fear that what I remember as CHUCKLES and LARFS may actually, in the cold hard light of an MP4, turn out to be coughs and uncomfortable shuffling.

So I thought I might as well put it online so that you, gentle reader, can have a look at it for me, THUS:

I think the main thing putting me off watching it is the cameraman's unusual choice to film it all in the old 4:3 aspect ratio and then stretch it out to WIDESCREEN. That IS what he's done isn't it? It's the only explanation.

posted 16/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Share Your Toys Launch
I was back in London Town on Sunday afternoon for a VERY auspicious occasion: the launch party for Mr Gavin Osborn's Share Your Toys album. I was VERY excited as it was a reunion with not only Gav but also our other touring partner Ms G Petrie, all hosted by Isy Suttie From Off The Telly, and it had SOLD OUT!

Unfortunately the dawning realisation that I was about to play to OVER A HUNDRED PEOPLE all in one go made me SICK with FEAR, so I spent much of the early part of the evening PANICKING and walking around nervously when I would much rather have been chatting to the aforesaid chums and indeed the ORGANISERS of the evening, Vinnie and Markie of My Little Owl. However, one upside of the pacing around was that I spotted someone upstairs who i thought was Her Who Wrote Those Two Episodes Of Banana (Charlie Covell, i later googled). I only watched the first half of her first episode (the one about the transgender woman getting internet stalked) because it was TOO UPSETTING but I LOVED the second one about the woman with a TONNE of neuroses who, for instance, has to have three goes to get out of the house NB just like I tend to. I worried about it for ages then decided TO HECK WITH IT and went over to say hello and that I loved her show. It turned out that a) she was coming in to the gig b) I'd previously forced a copy of 'Dinosaur Planet' onto the friend she'd come with and c) Grace had ALREADY gone up to her and said "Ooh it's you, can I have a picture please"?

By this time Mr S Hewitt had arrived with his supply of HUGZ, which was handy, and as we moved towards showtime I started to feel a bit better, helped by the aforesaid HUGZ, some BEER, Wise Words from THE LABEL, and also a bit of jumping up and down. Also, the fact that Issy, hosting the evening, was HILARIOUS cheered me RIGHT up and I LEAPT onto the stage full of beans and did THIS:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • That Guy
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • I had a LOVELY time! It was a Comedy Audience so they were very willing to LARF (which made for quite a lot of CHAT from me) and also ready to CLAP, which was brilliant to play for. I also managed to get ALL of the songs right, which was pretty bloody amazing. Four songs in I thought "Wow! I haven't made any mistakes at ALL yet! OH NO. That means I now INEVITABLY WILL" - I mentioned this to Steve after and he said "Yes, that's roughly when I thought that too." In fact the only FLUFF was during It Only Works Because You're here when the traditional tour-buddies "LA LA LA" sounded out and I got confused with DELIGHT, as I always seem to, but I think that counts as CHARMING rather than an actual error.

    Issy then introduced Grace, who was BRILL. As is my wont I stood at the back and felt IMMENSE PRIDE. As ever I know it's nothing to do with me how GRATE she is, but STILL. I've seen her many times now and always MARVEL at her immense stage presence, but this time I also had a SMALL CRY when she did a new song about her niece. CRUMBS. It was dead good!

    After a break we were back for the second half, which was Gav + BAND. Beforehand he'd been saying how relieved he was to have finally recorded all the songs, as he's been doing some of them live for ages, which was GRATE for me because it meant I could sing along with pretty much THE LOT. My favourite one at the moment is "In Another Lifetime" which he did last and was BRILLO!

    Alas I could not stick around for encores as I wanted to dash home, to where The Germs In My Contagion was lying in bed still POORLY. I went round and HUGGED as many people as I could find before FLEEING out of the door - in the process leaving behind a batch of MERCH which, happily, Steve was kind enough to pick up for me.

    Next morning my twitter and facebook feeds were full of people talking about what a lovely evening it had been. It's always a sure sign of a beautiful event, when people talk about it as a way of keeping it all going just a little bit longer. It's testament to the My Little Owl team for organising such a brilliant gig and of course to the sheer MAGNIFICENCE of Mr Osborn for making such a GRATE album. Go and have a listen, you won't regret it!

    posted 15/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Museum Of Computing History
    Saturday found me undertaking a FLYING visit to Cambridge to do a short set at The Centre For Computing History before a screening of the film Bedrooms To Billions.

    I've been playing gigs for well over a quarter of a century, so you'd think I might have realised by now that when people say "Soundcheck at 6pm" they don't actually mean "The soundcheck will happen ONLY and EXACTLY at 6pm and if you're not there THE SHOW IS OFF", but it seems not for LO! I RACED through the backstreets of Cambridge (noticing, as ever, that people in Cambridge are MAD for putting posters in their windows - they bloody love it!), practically RAN through an industrial estate, and found a surprised Aidy From The British IBM clearly NOT expecting me to be there at 5:59pm!

    We went and looked at the classroom I'd be playing in, decided I really wouldn't need a PA, then had a tour of the museum. COR! It was BRILLIANT! They had a TONNE of old computers, many of which were ON and ready for playing, similarly enabled arcade machines (including a proper table Asteroids machine which was BRILL), the original artwork for the ZX Spectrum manual cover, a wall of tapes, and then THIS:

    That may not look particularly exciting to the neutral observer, but it made me suddenly WELL UP with emotion, as it's the Amstrad word processor that I got for my 18th birthday (NB not THE machine, obvs, but the same model) and which went with me through my Polytechnic career. All of my first attempts at COMEDY RITING were done on it, and also a few essays (NB NOT MANY). I stood and stared at it for AGES... then went and spent half an hour playing DIG DUG in the main room.

    By then it was getting close to SHOWTIME. I was very very aware of my train times home and was eager to get things moving, so ended up following Aidy around the building as he rounded people up, him being polite and me saying "Come on! this is happening! NO ESCAPE!" We herded approx 35 people into the main classroom, turned the lights on, and then I did THIS:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • Programming Is A Poetry For Our Time
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • That Guy
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Hey Hey 16K

  • Some of these songs were performed as "single versions" i.e. my BRANE was nervous and so I missed bits out! The reason for the NERVES was because this was, after all, a screening of a FILM so I got the impression that none of the people trapped in the room had actually come to see ME and, indeed, most of them hadn't realised I'd be inflicting myself upon them before they could watch the film! Also, when I've played these sort of gigs before, Hey Hey 16K has gone down well while other, Less-About-ZX-Spectrum, songs have done markedly LESS well. I thought that if I explained all this before I started it might help, and the audience seemed to go along with it, although it was fun to look out and see the range of expressions from DELIGHTED to CONFUSED, from POLITE to MILDLY IMPATIENT. They were all very nice about it though, and several of them definitely appeared to like it!

    As soon as I'd finished I packed up, pausing only to be greeted by another former Peterbrugian who, it turned out, used to live near All-Saints Church Hall (as mentioned in The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)). I very very rarely meet ANYONE from Peterborough (apart from OBVS when I go there) so this was rather lovely, though I didn't have long to chat as I had to thank Aidy and then RUSH for the station. I hot footed it back through the poster-augmented side streets, over a rather bouncy pedestrian/bicycle bridge (which made me seasick whenever a cyclist passed me) and arrived at the station SWEATY but on time.

    ALAS my train wasn't, so I had 15 minutes waiting during which I MUSED upon the gig. It definitely fitted into the category of "Gigs Other People In Bands Don't Seem To Do" and in some ways I can see why, but then again it was a very pleasant gig in front of people who otherwise I'd probably not have met, I DID get to meet a fellow Peterborough escapee, DID see my old computer and, VITALLY, got on the high score table of Asteroids! Other People In Bands should do MORE of these sort of gigs, they're smashing!!

    posted 14/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Moving Experience
    It's a very special day for the website today as, after many years with my old service providers, we are MOVING. Best of all, we are going INDIE!

    It's all come about because Fastwebhost, who I was with until very recently, became RUBBISH. It's a terrible shame as, when I first signed up with them (when they were called eHostPros) they were ACE - everything was super reliable and the help was GRATE. However, once they changed name things went rapidly downhill and the site was forever crashing, especially when I tried to update any of the pages. I spent a couple of weeks FUMING and lying in bed at night GLARING at the ceiling with thoughts of SERVER RAGE before realising that I could just MOVE.

    Thus I asked online for TIPS and received a) lots of helpful advice b) a TONNE of automated spam from webserver companies and c) the offer of space with Eveleigh Information Systems AKA the server of Mr T Eveleigh, longstanding chum, promoter and Totally Acoustic Super Sub! We got ourselves sorted out and, after a fortnight of altering CODE (i.e. stuff that i FUDGED about 5 years ago and which needed doing) we have today set the wheels in motion to shift mjhibbett.co.uk, .com and .net all over here!

    It's all TERRIBLY exciting - the .com and .net move has already gone through and with any luck .co.uk will follow within the next 24 hours (the background on the new server is, temporarily, a slightly brighter shade of red), bringing with it all my various other sites. It's all a bit nerve-wracking to be honest, but once it's all gone through we can look forward to uninterrupted service and maybe even some NEW STUFF! Also, of course, getting back to regular blogging - I've got a couple of ACE gigs to tell you about once we get going!

    posted 13/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Rye Look
    Last weekend The Days Off In My Bank Holiday decided to have some TIME OFF i.e. not just do loads of JOBS at home but actually relax a bit. In order to help this cunning scheme along we decided to go on a DAY TRIP and, as it was only an hour and ten minutes away via the Javelin we thought we might go and have a look at RYE.

    Short version: it was all right. Slightly longer version: it felt like the sort of place that should have an enormous cathedral or Fascinating Legend and allied Museum but it didn't. The cobbled streets and pretty houses were all very nice, but it felt like there should have been something around which they were all prettily gathered. On the plus side, this meant that we could walk around the Nine Point Plan of Rye (an EXCELLENT document provided by the Tourist Information Centre), stopping for relevant a) historic towers and b) historic pubs as necessary and STILL be all done in a couple of hours.

    As we were so far ahead of schedule The Points Of Interest On My Tourist Map suggested we go to Camber Sands. She'd spotted it on the map and we'd got a bus timetable at the aforesaid Tourist Info so off we went, ploughing through the Fenland-ish landscape (apart from the hills, obvs) until we drew up outside an oddly familiarly building. For LO! It was PONTINS, site off the Bowlie Weekender what I went to approx 300,000 years ago, looking EXACTLY the same as it had done back then! We couldn't go in, of course, so we did something I manifestly failed to do all those years ago i.e. go to the BEACH!

    Ooh, it was lovely - huge sand dunes then a beautiful open beach full of people and dogs and fresh air. We strode along, we bounced up and down dunes, and generally had a Healthy and Pleasant time. To make the whole thing a pretty perfect day out we got the bus back to Rye and only had a short wait for our train, speeding us home. If you're ever thinking of a trip that way I'd highly recommend going to Camber, and maybe Rye if they manage to build a Cathedral between now and then!

    posted 10/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Quiet Night In
    Last Thursday was the latest edition of Totally Acoustic, this time featuring Mr P Buckley Hill and Mr J Osborne. I'd thought it might be a bit quiet, as a) it was the night before the Easter Bank Holiday and b) people would probably be at home watching The Leaders Debate on telly... and I was quite right!

    The acts both arrived nice and early, just after I'd got the seats set out (Steve wasn't even there, THAT'S how quiet it was, so I had to do the tables and chairs myself! Shocking!) and by 7:30pm we'd got just sufficient audience to outnumber performaners! We kicked off, and had a thoroughly pleasant time. I did a few songs and then the legend that is PBH got up and did his anti-pre-penultimate gig. Foolishly I thought this meant he had two more to go before retirement, but maybe it's three? Anyway, he played the room as if it was PACKED and we responded accordingly. Even the chap who I think is the father of the owner (and maybe the previous owner?) of the pub who usually sits downstairs came in to watch, which felt like a HUGE honour, and he enjoyed PBH hugely!

    After the break John Osborne did a set of his brilliant poems. It was ACE. I feel I should give more REVIEW than that, but that pretty much says it all - it was moving and funny and charming and, well, ACE. The only way I felt it could have been improved would have been if a young GTR TOTING lad with a funny haircut and 10 tonnes of JANGLE had rolled up and asked him to join his Manchester based indie band. In the 1980s. With gladioli.

    After that everyone went downstairs for a PINT - it was a shame more people hadn't been there to enjoy the show but it did mean that the whole audience could join the performers around a table for a BEER and a YACK before heading out once more into the night. The next show's on May 7th, and hopefully we'll have a bigger crowd - I don't think anything political's on the telly that night, is there?

    posted 8/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Easter Bunny
    It's almost that most wonderful time of the year - Easter! The Christmas for Grown-Ups, when the Spring Santa comes round and gives all the good ladies and gentlemen what they most wished for i.e. a couple of extra days off work, some chocolate and maybe a film. Hoorah!

    To celebrate the season myself and Mr J Dredge have done another one of our films, which you can see below. It's called "The Easter Bunny" and it features ACTING!

    posted 1/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    Break In Service
    Apologies for the rather drastic drop-off in BLOGS just lately - the reasons for this have been TWOFOLD.

    Firstly there hasn't been an awful lot going on. Well, there HAS, but it's mostly been "I spent all day sat at home AGANE doing Admin/Editing/Typing stuff out and then I went for a swim/to the shops". This is, of course, nice for me but would not make HUGELY engaging reading if repeated daily. Fear not though, more films, gigs, shows and even a Validators album* are on the way! (*terms and conditions apply, delivery may take up to three years)

    Secondly I've had all SORTS of problems with the website lately. I've been trying to set up a new section for just THE WRITING but every time I changed a page the entire site CRASHED. Then, when I didn't change anything, the whole site crashed ANYWAY. It got to a point where it was going down four times a day whether I did anything or not, which led to me going DERANGED with RAGE having to talk to the "live" "help" "desk" run by my hosting company. Every time someting went wrong they'd get the site back up OK but would refuse to answer any of my questions, give me a different CLEARLY MADE-UP excuse, then say "We are monitoring the server". After a while MAD VEINS in my neck would start to THROB whenever I even THOUGHT about the internet, so I decided it was probably best to get it moved elsewhere. THUS one of the "Typing" activities mentioned above has been me doing the necessary re-coding and adjustments necessary to get everything moved. We're not quite there yet, but hopefully when it is done the only differences you'll notice is that the site WORKS all the time! So, it's back to work for me then - these afternoon repeats of Wogan aren't going to watch thems... I mean, there is IMPORTANT CODING to be done!

    posted 31/3/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    For the past ten weeks I've been spending my Monday nights at a stand-up comedy course. I've not mentioned it here much because there's not been a HUGE amount to mention - we go to a room above a pub, Mr Chris Head tells us some things about stand-up comedy, we do some exercises and then each have a go at a few minutes of material - and also because I wasn't sure if it was something I wanted to be doing.

    I signed up for it after going to that Comedy Conference last year with Mr J Dredge. I noticed that all the people over 50 on the panels were saying "The best way to get into comedy writing is by sending stuff to the radio" but all the people writing things NOW, usually in their thirties, ALL had a background in stand-up comedy and had ALL got their first break that way. "Aha!" I thought, "If I want to get my WRITING to Producers I must do some stand-up comedy!"

    This had been my plan approx 25 years ago when I'd had my first attempt at this sort of thing (the attempt that ended when I got into BANDS and BEER instead!) and I'd based my entire career plan on that of Mr B Elton, so it was an idea I was familiar with and have TOYED with every now and again during this second attempt. The only things standing in my way were a) I don't like stand-up comedy very much b) I don't like most stand-up comedians very much c) I really really really don't want to have to go and do 2 or 3 open mic nights every week then spend a couple of years schlepping round comedy clubs. Apart from that it all sounded good!

    Around the time of the conference John was doing a stand-up comedy course so I thought "Right! Let's DO this flipping things and once and for all give it a proper go!" and signed up for the next term. Unfortunately, approx 0.02 seconds after paying my money, I had a sudden realisation: Radio was the way to get into comedy in the 70s and 80s, and stand-up was the way to get into it in the 90s and 00s but the way people were starting to do it NOW was ONLINE! This seemed to indicate that I'd signed up to spend ten weeks doing something I didn't really like that probably doesn't work anymore. CURSES!!

    Still, I'd paid up so went and DID it, even though pretty much every week I thought "Can i just phone in sick this time?" The actual sessions were fine - the other people were lovely, it was GRATE watching everyone develop and try new stuff, and much to my surprise (hem hem) i actually enjoyed the chance to SHOW OFF for 3-5 minutes every week. WHo'd've suspected THAT eh?

    The main problem I had with it all was that the course sat there in my MIND all week, saying "Have you written a routine yet eh? have you?" Every time I got worse and worse at actually writing anything, so that by the last few weeks I was thinking "Sod it. I'll just do one of the stories from My Exciting Life In ROCK." Admittedly it worked out all right - I know the stories, and it turns out that half the battle with stand-up is looking as if you know what you're doing, so 20 odd years of ROCK experience came in handy - but it did feel a bit like cheating!

    The final night of the course was an ACTUAL GIG, which took place this Monday just gone at The Wenlock And Essex in Islington. As per I thought "Right, I'm going to put some effort into it and write a proper set this time!" and come Sunday night found myself thinking "Yeah, I'll sort that out tomorrow." On the advice of various people on the course I ended up (mostly on Monday afternoon) WELDING together two stories - the time we supported Zodiac Mindwarp, and various things to do with Hey Hey 16K - into something that seemed OK, and set off for the gig.

    By the time I arrived I was BRICKING it. It would appear that making up something in front of 12 friendly faces is FINE, but doing it to a Paying Audience is a bit more scary, especially a SOLD OUT room of paying punters. Mondays are usually one of my "5:2 Diet" days, so I've stuck to Diet Coke for classes, but this time a beer was NEEDED. Beer was TAKEN!

    I was on in the second half, so got to relax a bit in the first half as people got up and did their sets. It was BRILLIANT to see how much everybody had come on - everyone had LEARNT and had GAGS and was confident in the room, it was thoroughly enjoyable. Chris who runs the course had said that this was the thing he concentrated on more than other courses - giving people the ability to interact with the audience and with whatever happened in the room, and this certainly came across as everyone made extra REMARKS and GAGS.

    Come half-time I discovered that First Gigs For Comedians have one very definite thing in common with First Gigs For Bands - everyone gets their CHUMS to come but some of those chums leave when the person they've come to see has finished. Thus by the time we filed back in the room was about 25% emptyso it was a bit more work for everyone, increased by the fact that there were TWELVE of us coming onstage, one by one, and everyone was getting TIRED, meaning that the poor mug who was on LAST was going to have his work cut out.

    And LO! It was ME! When I'd first seen the running order I'd gotten all excited and thought "Ooh hark at me, HEADLINING!" but very quickly realised that no, in this case it was very MUCH going on last! Still, this did take a bit of the Internal Pressure off me - I'd been worried that I was telling a STORY, which therefore had less LARFS in it than other people, but decided that if nobody laughed AT ALL then it was just because they were feeling worn out.

    Happily people DID laugh and I had a LOVELY time - it felt a bit strange not having a guitar round my neck but once I got up there it all felt perfectly normal and I thoroughly enjoyed SHOWING OFF once again. QUELLE SURPRISE!

    Afterwards there was CHAT and BEER and MUCH RELIEF. One common question buzzing round was whether people were going to do any more, and I surprised myself with how quickly I said "NO!" It's not entirely true - I quite enjoyed the Just Making It Up and talking to the audience stuff, so might do something else in that direction - but I certainly don't want to have to Write Comedy Sets or go out and do gigs. I always said that part of the idea of doing the course was to get it out of my system, and it certainly seems to have done that!

    It was an interesting thing to do, and I met some very nice people, but I'm RELIEVED it's all over - no time for a REST though, as me and Steve start re-rehearsing the new show this week, and that's got lines I really SHOULD know properly!

    posted 26/3/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    Double ROCK
    As mentioned yesterday I was in Leicester at the weekend, accidentally seeing the Richard III procession but purposefully there to do a double dose of ROCK.

    The first shift commenced outside Stayfree Studio at noon, where I met Mr F Machine to watch the various bands lurking around outside waiting to be let in. Everyone was dressed according to their GENRE - the Britop Dads looked very Britpop, the Metal Band looked very Metal, and we looked very half-arsed indie. All was right with the world!

    Inside we were joined first by Mr T "The Tiger" McClure and then by Mr T Pattison, who had probably been waiting outside building himself for the deluge of Very Mild Joshing RE: Prolapse Gigs that ensued. Once that was out of the way we moved onto the business of ROCK, rampaging through versions of the remaining four songs we had been rehearsing ready for recording - Can We Be Friends?, In The North Stand, The Future Is Amazing and Get Over It. The original idea was to have another practice before going back to the studio, but we WHIPPED through them so easily there didn't seem to be any need. Tim suggested having a go at History's Rewritten too and, after a bit of persuading, we did. It was dead good!

    We were joined by Mrs E Pattison for about 10 minutes (on her way into town for the procession) making us briefly QUORATE for the first time in ages before she left closely followed by Tom, heading off to ORCHESTRA. This left "The Dresden Validators" to have a runthrough of a couple of other things and vaguely discuss album titles. I told them how GRATE the "album" is sounding so far, and discovered that they hadn't heard the latest mixes so promised to get that DONE, and also to sort out another studio day. Who knows? We might get it finished THIS YEAR!

    With all that sorted out Tim and I headed into town, him to the procession and me to Cafe Bruxelles for my second slice of ROCK for the day - the traditional post-Leicesterval afternoon of Totally Acoustic, curated by Mr A Hale. I'd been worried that nobody would be there due to the Royal Events, but there was a nice cosy crowd and a delightful set of acts, including Alex, Mr Joey Chickenskin and Mr D Ransome. Unfortunately I missed large chunks of everyone else's sets due to INTENSELY SLOW bar service. It's a lovely place, Cafe Bruxelles, but crikey oh riley they can't half make a fuss of getting you a beer. At one point I was waiting 15 MINUTES for them to find a pump that was actually working!

    Apart from that it was lovely to see people and also lovely to be able to take to the stage and do THIS:
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Red and White Sockets
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • History's Re-written
  • In The North Stand
  • The Ballad Of Alan Moore
  • That Guy
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30

  • It was a slightly odd set botched together with suggestions and vague ideas - Red and White Sockets was a request from Mr M Whitaker, who had brought his son along for his First Ever Gig (always an honour to be there for such an event!) and History's Re-written was there because I'd enjoyed doing it earlier with the band - but it all seemed to go off OK, leaving me with plenty of time to actually GET some beers before the King went past! If only all gigs could climax so regally!

    posted 25/3/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Royal Funeral
    I was in Leicester on Sunday for reasons that a) I'll come on to another time b) were entirely unrelated to the fact that there was a procession going through the streets carrying the coffin of Richard III. When i first realised that I'd be there on that day my initial reaction was of Slightly Annoyance, in that it might interfere with getting there and/or the gig I was doing . As it turned out though everything went as planned and the procession itself was an Oddly Moving Experience.

    When I'd got to Leicester in the morning there didn't seem to be anything happening, but when I returned to the City Centre just after 2pm there were lots of people milling about. Temporary fencing had been put out, security people were wandering around in high vis jackets, and there was a Big Screen set up so that, I guess, people could watch the procession as it came towards them. The general idea, i GLEANED from speaking to the aforesaid security people, was that the coffin had left the University Of Leicester that morning for a TOUR of relevant parts of the county (including Bosworth Field) before coming back to the Cathedral where the body would lie in state before the proper funeral service on Thursday.

    I lived in Leicester for about 14 years so was WELL aware of the Richard-related history in the area. I could hardly miss it really, especially spending most of that time living just off King Richard's Road and walking over Bow Bridge nearly every day - this is the bridge where "legend had it" that he banged his spurs on the way to Bosworth Field, banged his HEAD when his corpse was carried back afterwards, and where his body was thrown into the river and lost later on. There's a big PLAQUE saying all this, with a smaller one next to it now saying "Yeah, not actually that last bit."

    My favourite part of the Finding His Body story though was when it turned out he totally DID have a spine condition. When we were taught the story at school my history teacher went on for AGES about how we should be aware that history is written by the victors and that the only evidence we have of a "hunchback king" was vile Tudor propaganda years later, so it was very unlikely that there was any truth in the rumour at all. HA! In your FACE, Mr Cook in 1982!

    Anyway, I had a gig to do so DID it (see next blog for more!) then hung around in Cafe Bruxelles with The Family Whitaker waiting for something to happen. The procession was going to go right past us, so we sat around watching the crowds get bigger until there was Definite Flurrying and me and Mr M Whitaker RAN out to have a proper look.

    It wasn't remotely what I was expecting - I thought there'd be POMP and GUARDS and OFFICIALNESS but it was all oddly homemade and low-key. Two police on horseback went by first, followed by TWO ACTUAL KNIGHTS IN ARMOUR! They were followed by an old-fashioned (NB not as old-fashioned as knights in armour, but still) horse drawn carriage with two people in full mourning sat up front and then a very very plain open cart behind with a very plain coffin on top. As it went by people weren't sure what to do - cheering a coffin doesn't seem hugely respectful, but it wasn't as if his death was a recent shock or anything, so instead we all made Remarks e.g. as the actual HEARSE went by more than one WAG was heard to ask if that was where his wife was etc etc.

    And that was that - the procession rolled on and people wandered off. It was one of the most LEICESTER things I have ever seen, a massive historical and scientific event carried off very pleasantly with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of polite good humour and then everybody just going home without any trouble. THAT is Leicester!

    I wandered off towards the station and found myself back on the route of the procession. On the other side of the city centre they hadn't even bothered with crowd barriers - people just stood on the pavement happily waiting to see the knights go past. When they did people smiled, said "Did you see the knights?" to any available children, and wandered off home again. It was lovely!

    posted 24/3/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    Luigi Shapponi
    Sorry for the lack of updates here this past week, I have been busy with all sorts of things, including putting THIS together:

    This is one of the sketches that Mr John Dredge and I filmed a couple of weeks ago and editing it has been a HUGE learning experience. I've edited lots of videos but they've pretty much all been free of dialogue, which (it turns out) is a LOT easier than trying to edit together talking! Apart from having to make sure everything was roughly the same volume and matched the talking I also spent AGES trying to remove extraneous noise like passing HELICOPTERS or people next door. I now have a) great respect for people who work in SOUND and b) a copy of Audacity downloaded on my computer!

    Anyway, hope you enjoy the film, and if you do please tell other people!

    posted 23/3/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    On Saturday night I headed to the Deep South (of London) on a lengthy journey to WALLINGTON.

    Wallington! It's basically next door to Croydon, which is AGES away. Living in Stratford I've become used to pretty much everywhere in London town being dead easy to get to, but this took nearly an hour and a half over three different forms of transport - the Underground, the Overground, and the Wombling Free... sorry, I mean the normal TRANE. Still, by swiping my Oyster on the Interchange thingy it ended up only costing me £3.20 to get there and back - amazing!

    The gig was organised by Mr A Brook, who used to run Studio Sonic on Denmark Street, where I used to go many many years ago to record demoes at lunchtime. He first asked me about it over a year ago and I couldn't go, then sent me some dates last MAY to choose from. Thus this gig had been booked TEN MONTHS ago! I don't think I've booked ANYTHING that far in advance before!

    The venue was unusual and, once I'd worked it out, IMPRESSIVE. At the front is a tiny little cafe with three tables and at the back is a small gig room, but in the middle, I discovered, is a CONTROL BOOTH which changes the whole thing into a fully functioning high tech recording studio that just happens to have a cafe attached! It was amazing!

    The gig itself was fun, if a bit quiet. It started off with the chap who used to be in Goldheart Assembly - I couldn't tell you what any of their HITS were but he was really really good. Proper tunes, really good singing, it was thoroughly enjoyable! After that was the marvellous Ms J Lockyer which was GRATE because a) she is and b) it's always nice to have someone to talk to at these things (Mr T Eveleigh was also there, which made the whole thing very pleasant). Then it was me and I did THIS:

  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • In The North Stand
  • That Guy
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • I enjoyed it (apart from completely cocking up Hey Hey 16K - someone had mentioned it beforehand so I thought I'd have a go, but made a right old mess of it), not least because I was SITTING DOWN. I haven't done a gig sitting down for AGES but the stage was so high and the atmosphere was so relaxed that I thought it would be OK. It was! The audience were RIGHT up for it and I had a lovely time!

    ALAS once it was all over I had to DASH off to get home, arriving another 90 minutes later just in time for a night cap. A very pleasant end to the evening!

    posted 16/3/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    Readthrough Night
    Last night I went to The Poor School on Pentonville Road for an Theatrical Event featuring a metric TONNE of delightful people.

    For the past couple of months Ms E Morgan and I have been meeting every couple of weeks to nudge each other along with / EDIT each other's sitcom scripts. She's writing one called 'Popscene!' about a band in 1995 who accidentally get involved in Britpop, while mine's called 'The Department' and is about a University research department. Write what you know! A few weeks ago Emma suggested we organise a readthrough so that we could a) hear what the scripts sounded like when read out load and b) get various CHUMS along to get some extra feedback. This seemed like a GRATE idea to me so we hunted round for venues, then for actors, and got ourselves a night sorted out.

    I thus arrived at The Poor School at approx 6.15pm and was immediately CONFUSED about how to get into the building. Luckily two of our cast, Mr J Yeah and Ms T Al-Bassam, arrived ten seconds later and together we found our way in. It was a funny old place - nobody seemed to be in charge - but a nice young man came and kicked some other young people out of our room for us, then left us to it. As more people arrived we set the room up and also laid out a splendid BUFFET of BOOZE and biscuits!

    We'd advertised the start as 7pm for 7.15pm, but ended up starting a bit late as I was lurking round outside looking for latecomers and Emma had to dash out for more red wine! When we came back in we found a room nicely full of people. The MIX of people did my head in a bit, as all the people I knew came from different parts of my life - there were people I knew from the MA, from ROCK, from computer stuff and ALL sorts. It was a bit like (comics reference) SECRET WARS: BATTLEWORLD would be, I expect, but with less fighting and more biscuits.

    The readings themselves were ACE - Emma's was first, then we had a break, then it was my turn. When you have one of your PIECES read you're meant to sit quietly and take studious notes, but I just sat there and LARFED, especially at my own jokes - hey! if you're not laughing at them, why should you expect someone else too eh? That's my justification and I'm sticking to it!

    The CAST were bloody brilliant, and also a MIX of people we knew. From college there was Tamara, Mr H Carr and Ms N Racklin, from South London ROCK there was Johnny and Ms J Lockyer, from the crazy world of comedy there was Mr J Dredge and from Fringe ACTION there was Mr S Hewitt. It was a whole bunch of people who'd mostly not met each other before, but it seemed to work well, especially during the dialogue scenes in Emma's script when suddenly a BAND appeared before us, in all its bickering glory!

    When we were done there was much CHAT and MINGLING like some sort of proper DO or something before we headed off down the road to The Parcel Yard for more of the same. I sat at a table and witnessed all these different delightful people YACKING away to each other in strange Not-Usually-How-I-Know-Them groupings, feeling proud and privileged to know such people, and to be able to get them together so that I can laugh at my own jokes!

    posted 13/3/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    Office Work
    Saturday found me in Farringdon this weekend, in the old offices of The Guardian which have now been turned into a) some other offices and b) THEATRE SPACE. It's basically some rehearsal rooms which they've converted from offices by taking most of the furniture out and... er... that's it.

    I was there with Mr John Dredge to film some MORE material, this time accompanied by Andy of Ah Gee Productions who was going to FILM it for us. This was all very new and exciting, as we've done everything ourselves before but this time both of us were in the films AND there was talking, so we needed someone with proper GEAR.

    We arrived at Theatre Delicatessen to find that not an awful lot had changed since it had been offices, which was EXCELLENT for us as one of the two SKITS we were filming was set IN an office. INDEED when I'd rung I'd asked for the most office-y looking room they had. It felt a bit odd at first that they really were just empty offices, but then I guess for a THEATRICAL rehearsal room that's fine - it's not like a ROCK rehearsal room where you need a drum kit and PA and soundproofing, all you need is SPACE. It fair took me back to me and Steve's first rehearsals together in my old office at Birkbeck!

    We got set up and got ON with it, and it felt a bit strange to be Just Acting this time - for previous filmings I've mostly been bossing John about from behind the camera, but this time it was Just Acting. The last time I did anything like this was over a year ago when we made the "Christmas Party" webseries and I remember that being EXHAUSTING, much as THIS all was. It should have been peasy, as I was sitting down all day occasionally saying things, so maybe it is all the BRANE POWER that wore me out that time and also this. Spending two hours CONCENTRATING on a) my lines b) moving my face correctly c) not saying other people's lines and d) pretending to be surprised every time you hear a line as if it is NEW took a lot of THORT!

    Another handy thing about the location was that it was full of all sorts of various FURNITURE which we borrowed for Set Dressing. Here's a picture of me and John pretending to be in a TV studio for the second film:

    As you can see we are both wearing METHOD TROUSERS. After a couple of hours it was all done and transferred over to my laptop, ready to be taken home and made into two more films. It looks pretty good, FILM-wise, I must say, though I am a bit nervous to actually watch the ACTING. John's is really good, but mine looks a lot like a man concentrating!

    posted 10/3/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Lunch Break
    As mentioned the other day I spent a delightful afternoon last week with Mr J Dredge filming a new short film. We've since spent many hours editing, CRITIQUING, and HONING it until it reached the present state of Being Quite Good which we are now able to share with the world at large. For LO! it is here and it is called 'The Lunch Break':

    We are quite proud of it it must be admitted, and as per would be very grateful to anyone who LAUDS, highlights, passes it on or just goes "That was quite good." Hope you like it!

    posted 9/3/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    An Edinburgh Frame Of Mind
    You find me today in an Edinburgh frame of mind i.e. like I tend to feel when me and Steve are at the Fringe: a bit tired, a bit hungover, and (literally) full of beans.

    For LO! last night it was Totally Acoustic and it was MARVELLOUS. I arrived just after six to find Liz From The School ALREADY there, and Charlie From The Retro Spankees arrived not long after, giving us a 100% attendance for the first time in MONTHS! Steve and I sorted out the tables and then EXACTLY the right amount of people arrived in PRECISELY the right mix of DELIGHTFULNESS to give us a right lovely evening.

    I went on first and, having researched which songs I a) knew b) hadn't done at all OR for ages on the podcast, did this:

  • Work's All Right (if it's a proper job)
  • The Ballad Of Alan Moore
  • Do The Indie Kid

  • It all appeared to go all right (you can judge for yourself when the podcast comes out) as did Charlie's set which was next. I particularly liked the "Orange Moon" one, and it was also fun to hear some of the Retro Spankee's multi-parted songs done on an acoustical guitar, something which I doubt was EASY but which Charlie with MANFULLY.

    After the break Liz took to the stage with a GLOCKENSPIEL and Mr S Love, fully recovered from last month's Stomach Troubles, on guitar, for half an hour or so of Liz's brilliant songs. It was GRATE, and I found myself singing along, hopefully not quite loud enough to spoil the recording!

    With that done there was time for another pint and some YACK before The People In My Audience and I headed home for an after party of Our Tea At Home and some WHISKY. She had the day off today so we didn't set an alarm, which meant I had that lovely thing which I only usual do during the Fringe of waking up every hour or so and then just NODDING OFF again. When i eventually DID get up I had to zoom BACK into town to meet Mr J Dredge where a) we discussed our new FILM what will be online on Monday and b) I had some BEANS ON TOAST.

    And so it was that I wandered back to the station in beautiful sunshine, full of Actual Beans, slightly hungover, with a BRANE full of a great night just enjoyed and the prospect of LARKS ahead. Or, to put it another way, very much in an Edinburgh frame of mind.

    posted 6/3/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    On Location
    On Sunday I was out and about in London Town with Mr John Dredge filming the SEQUEL to our film The Job Interview. As with the previous film we started out in Angel, filming the character coming out of the building he went into that time, but then wandered far and wide through various streets and then off to Hampstead and the Heath.

    It all felt very exciting LEAPING onto pavements, setting up the tripod and then taking a few shots. The nicest bit was in Hampstead when we were trying to film a short bit outside someone's house. People kept flipping wandering past, RUINING our shots, then when we finally got it done the owner wandered by and said "HO! I only charge a small fee!" gave us a CHEEKY GRIN and went inside. It was all extremely jolly!

    It was a lovely day to be outside filming and we were both EXTREMELY grateful that we'd not planned to do it on Saturday, as it had RAINED a lot. Unfortunately this meant that some of our more rural settings were a bit muddy and we had to SCHLEP around rather a lot more than expected. Still, we DID find some GRATE locations (the final scene was pretty much exactly as i'd imagined it), saw some PARROTS, and got to tit around to our hearts' content. Here's a few MOODY SHOTS from the day:

    It looks quite ARTY from those doesn't it? SPOILERS: it probably isn't.

    When we'd finished we made our way to Hampstead Heath Overground, where I was reminded that it was SUNDAY i.e. half the transport network was OFF and so I couldn't get the direct train home. Outside was a sign saying "Belsize Park Tube 800m", which didn't seem like far, but turned out to take about TWENTY MINUTES going up RUDDY MOUNTAINS. That sign was FIBBING!

    I was knackered for the rest of the afternoon, but was perked up by a) a trip to the pub for a Cheeky Pint with The Beer In My Glass and b) looking at the film we'd shot. It looks pretty good - let's hope the Editor (me) doesn't ruin it!

    posted 3/3/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    Hugging Your Heroes
    On Friday evening, as most other people in London were heading home from work, I was heading OUT to Euston and then to distant Northampton to play a gig with Mr Robin Ince and Mr Alan Moore!

    It was all very short notice - this was meant to be the first in a podcast series which would usually feature Ms G Petrie, but she had a prior booking so they decided to get me in as UNDERSTUDY. Unfortunately Robin forgot to tell ME about it until he came back from holiday, but luckily I was still FREE. Lucky for me, that is, as I wouldn't want to pass up a chance to do an Actual Gig with Alan Moore!

    I'd been asked to get there before eight, which I thought was when soundcheck would be, but when I rolled up at ten to I was surprised to see that the room was full of people. I knew it had sold out (before they'd told anyone I'd be playing: CUNNING) but didn't expect everyone to get there so early. As I entered the building Tamsin Who Runs It All told me there was FREE BEER as a new local brewery was launching, and then Mr Ince THRUST CA$H into my hands before I could even take my coat off. It was already turning into a pretty good night!

    The three of us then marched into the front room, for LO! 8pm was the time the GIG was starting! Robin then did "a quick intro" (25 minutes!) and I was ON. I'd been asked to do 2 songs at the start of each set, so did It Only Works Because You're here and then (because it seemed to very easily lead into it) That Guy. It all seemed to go well, much to my relief as I'd had NERVES all day. This is unusual for me, but then I've not done many gigs this year so far and THIS one was with Alan Moore!!

    After that Alan and Robin came and sat on big comfy chairs and had about 40 minutes of CHAT about a Very Very Wide range of topics - the show was being recorded for a podcast, so I guess it would all end up being very Radio 4-y, if Radio 4 could cope with the MIGHTY BRANE of Alan Moore.

    At half-time I enjoyed a free beer while chatting about DARK MATTER and The History Of Science Fiction with the two of them. All the time this was happening my brain was going "Holy HECK you are talking about that with ALAN FLIPPING MOORE!!!" but I think I managed to keep it under control. The second half was much the same as the first, with me doing 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 and The Ballad Of Alan Moore (it would have been rude not to) before another half hour of DISCUSSION.

    It was DELIGHTFUL, and also finished about an hour before I expected. I went to get sorted out backstage and witness Mr Moore being MARVELLOUS with people who wanted to talk to him about old stuff which he probably didn't want to talk about but he was CHARMING and, really, everything you could wish for in one of your all time heroes. Before he headed off we shared a MANLY HUG and then, when he was definitely out of the room, I allowed my brain to FREAK OUT. ALAN MOORE!!!

    After further goodbyes and hugs Mr Ince and I headed for the station and the London train, where we had a VERY pleasant chat on Diverse Topics, almost like we were two similarly aged people swapping SHOP TALK about our different, yet sometimes complimentary, entertainment backgrounds. It was lovely, even when I stood up to let him off at his station and realised that I was a BIT more drunk than I realised, knocking over a bottle, clanking my glasses against another seat and seeing them FLY off. He didn't seem to mind. PHEW!

    Things continued in this Turning Out Well VEIN when I got back to That London. I'd PLANNED for getting a night bus but I managed to get The Last Train Out Of Euston, walk from Moorgate to Liverpool Street, and then get the last train leaving THERE as well! I thus got home VERY late but in one piece, a bit tiddly but very happy. What a GRATE night out!

    posted 2/3/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    Ten Newsworthy Years
    It's The Last Working Day Of The Month today so this morning I sent out this month's newsletter, as I do every last working day of the month, PACKED (packed!) with its usual array of ITEMS. Once I'd done all the emailing I converted it into HTML and stuck it on the webpage, then went to check the newsletter archive to make sure it had all gone through OK.

    It was only at this point that I suddenly realised that this was the TENTH ANNIVERSARY newsletter! The number (120) should have given me a clue I guess, but it turns out that the first EVER edition of the newsletter was sent out ten years ago to this very day. Well, ten years ago tomorrow, anyway, but that's near enough.

    Crikey! Ten years! SO much has happened since then, in ROCK and elsewhere, but that first edition doesn't look a whole lot different to the current one. I stopped doing the "gigs we've done" section after a while and relaxed the rigid format of dividing everything into records, radio and "other things", but apart from that I'm still getting excited about The Validators SLOWLY recording an album, still doing the same sort of gigs, still hanging around with the same people (although not quite as often, a decade on, due to my growing attachment to Staying At Home Watching Telly) and, thankfully, still having LARKS doing so!

    I do wish I'd DONE something to make the occasion, like we did with the Like A Braunstone Cowboy album for the 100th Issue but I don't really have time now. I guess we'll just have to wait until Issue 200 - it's only about six and a half years away, reminded me nearer the time and I'll sort something out!

    posted 27/2/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    Get On With It
    I had one of my Days Of Meetings on Monday, when I ZOOM around That London meeting people. It's GRATE because a) dashing around having MEETINGS feels dead swanky and b) it means I get to spend the rest of the week sitting around at home catching up on telly NO WAIT I MEAN doing lots of writing.

    In between these various meetings I found myself with an hour to spare. I'd already had about 16,000,000 cups of coffee so rather than go and sit in ANOTHER cafe I decided to go and get myself some of that free culture that London town is so full of. I wandered over to the National Portrait Gallery to see what was on, and was very happy to discover a big exhibition about The Tudors. My delight was entirely because of my intense and serious political interest in this era and definitely not because I'm watching "Wolf Hall" and keep getting confused about who went where and killed whom in which order.

    It was all very impressive, with lots of GRATE Small Items like Henry VIII's rosary beads and an essay/autobiography by Edward VI. I love this sort of thing - actual real STUFF that has been used by legendary figures from hundreds and hundreds of years ago. It's kind of like when you find a TOY you loved as a child which you thought had been lost years ago, the actuality (HEM HEM PROSE) of a THING is suddenly surprising and exciting. I liked it!

    After that I went for a bit of a wander through various galleries full of Posh Twits Through The Ages until I reached a room of POETS and WRITERS, mostly The Romantics. All gathered together like that it looked like a Gathering Of The Prats, all gazing out pompously with luxurious hair, except for one tiny little picture in a corner of Jane Austen. This picture,in fact:

    This is the famous ONLY picture of Jane Austen actually drawn while she was alive, done by her sister Cassandra. All the other pictures of her are EITHER done from memory/entirely made up OR are sanitised versions of this one. I'd seen reproductions of this picture before, but usually CROPPED or cleaned up. Seeing it close up I realised that it wasn't just a face and vague outline, you could see the full position she's sat in, arms crossed, looking grumpy, clearly thinking "FFS get ON with it I have a BOOK to finish." I love it, and seeing her sat in a room full of POETS made it even more enjoyable, like she was sayinng "CHRIST! Stop PONCING AROUND and get ON with it you bunch of useless pillocks."

    In fact I liked it so much that I bought a postcard - nothing says dedication to your literary heroes like spending 70p - and it's sat on the table next to me, looking disapproving, saying "You've got things to do Hibbett, stop titting about!" I'd best got on with it!

    posted 25/2/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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