MJ Hibbett & The Validators

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Indietracks Saturday
Saturday morning dawned with a DOUBLE EMERGENCY. First of all I felt MYSTERIOUSLY UNWELL. I can hardly fathom it, i felt tired, headache-y, and my stomach - which should have felt happy to be full of GOPAL's curry again - was oddly jumpy. Maybe it was a bug?!? Secondly, my GLASSES were broken! Somehow the inner nose pad had got twisted overnight (also due to the mystery ailment perhaps?) and in the morning the pad broke OFF. I spent several minutes thinking "It'll be fine. OUCH!" before bringing the problem to the attention of Tom. Within 15 minutes we were in the Tigermobile once more, HARING to Boots in town, where they very kindly put TWO new pads in AND cleaned my glasses for FREE. Thanks Boots!

It was odd being back in Leicester town centre on a Saturday - not only did we go into the Car Park near where The Phoenix used to be, which I'd never been into before, but I also got very very low level Proustian Rushes from knowing where to go in Boots. It's like nostalgia for something I did loads of times during my 14 years living there but which never really had any emotional resonance, a sort of strangely flavoured very gentle emotion that you only get from old places like that.

Anyway, with that done we headed back to Tiger Towers, filled a HUGE BOX with literally HUNDREDS of CDs (also badges, posters and vinyl) then put it, along with various amps, instruments, drums and US into the Tigermobile and ZOOMED to the festival site. This time we went to the Swanwick Junction entrance, so got to wave at people walking up from the Campsite, leaning out of the window to say hello as we swept past at over ten miles an hour. ROCK STARS! When we got to the car park we met The Pattisons, fresh from a wedding the previous night, and then LUGGED gear into the site itself. Me and Tom went to the Gear Store from three years ago, which isn't there any more, so had to turn round and lug it all the way back to the new one. We had a lot of heavy stuff!

The next hour featured some light beer intake, watching some of Skeletal Shakes (who were ace) saying hello to more pals, and general lurking around. I said hello to lots of small children, many of whom were wearing Dinosaur Planet t-shirts, and got the distinct impression that, though it may not have gone down totally brilliantly with The Indie Community, the Dinosaur Planet album DOES have fans among the under-10s. In ten years time we'll be playing it in stadiums, you mark my words!

After being told by various concerned people that it was nearly show-time (or "Hibbett o'clock" as some people hem hem were calling it, i wish they wouldn't but wot can one do eh?) we gathered at the stage and got ourselves set up. The sound crew were REALLY nice and took their time with us as we MARVELLED at the fact that we were each getting our OWN mix in our OWN monitor! We also got bottles of WATER, it was well swanky.

With soundcheck done me and Frankie went to get a beer. There was a big queue so I went for a WEE, during which I passed several people heading to see us and looking CONFUSED that I was going in the opposite direction. When I got back to the bar there was PANIC as we were due on NOW but Frankie hadn't got served. Luckily Mr A Hale offered to get them in and save the day. PHEW!

We gathered nervously backstage, ready for our Walk-On music. I'd spent weeks (honesty time: actually YEARS) thinking about what we could go on stage to for this, our GRAND RETURN, and had settled on "The Boys Are Back In Town". The other day I mentioned this to The Hits On My Compilation who said "Naaah", thought about it for a minute, and came up with a MUCH better idea. As the song played Frankie got a bit over-excited and had to be RESTRAINED from running on-stage too soon, so that we could all go on stage together to the chorus of "Back For Good".

Here is the short summary of what happened next: basically, it could not have gone any better, not even in the many many many times I have daydreamed about it for the past three years. How could we fail with an audience that looked like THIS?



If you click on that image you'll see a REALLY BIG version full of lots and lots of familiar faces (almost) all of whom are smiling (the exception being our two biggest fans to the right!), it's lovely. Is it any wonder that I forgot the words once or twice? I kept being distracted by spotting PALS!

In technical news, it turns out that practicing your entire set, in order, is a REALLY good idea, as it means you all know what's coming next AND know you have time to make some REMARKS and also get to do actual SEGUES. Here is what we did:
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • I Want To Find Out How It Ends
  • The Gay Train
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • And do you know what? It seemed to WORK. I'd been imagining myself saying "65 million years ago the Dinosaurs disappeared, and now... WE'RE back" for THREE YEARS and it was just as satisfying as I'd hoped it would be. The new songs went down well, much to my relief, and 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 was the song people asked about later more than ANYTHING (Emma's PROPS in this worked dead well too - cardboard signs which will be RE-USED!). Perhaps the only mis-step was going STRAIGHT from The Lesson Of The Smiths into Easily Impressed - as Tim said afterwards, we don't get the chance to be applauded by hundreds of people THAT often, it felt a shame to do ourselves out of a song's worth by doing a segue!

    My biggest memory of the whole thing was standing and saluting the audience, walking off stage to the sound of Shania Twain singing "Still The One" (also as suggested by The Verse In My Song), looking back and seeing Frankie at the top of the gang plank, PUNCHING THE AIR! "That was the best gig ever", said Emma, and after a VERY VERY VERY SWEATY group hug (it was HOT!) the following selfie was taken:



    Very happy Validators! With that done we packed up, lugged our gear round to the equipment store (stopping to say "Thank you - we enjoyed it too!" to several people) and then headed for the Merchandising Tent for our alloted hour of selling CDs. We'd announced a Special Deal - any item for a fiver or FOUR for a tenner - because we are dead generous and certainly not because Tom and I have TONNES of boxes of unsold CDs cluttering up our houses. We'd worked out a system - Tom in charge, Tim and Frankie on sales, me and Emma front of house, looking delightful - and it seemed to work as we spent most of the hour DOING SALES. It was VERY exciting, we shifted BLOODY LOADS, although to be honest quite a lot of things (especially vinyl) went by us chucking more and more stuff at people, saying "No! come back! let me give you more things!" I'd stamped lots of paper bags with the "VALID" stamp which was a dead good idea, as you could fit loads of stuff into them to force people to take away. We also ended up SIGNING lots of stuff, which we all enjoyed VERY MUCH INDEED.

    After a joyous stock-take, during which Tom and I saw huge bright vistas of CLEARED SHELF SPACE back home, we all went and put stuff back in cars, then returned to enjoy an afternoon of SMILES and SUNSHINE and BEERS and PALS and the general loveliness that is Indietracks. My main memory of this section involve me, Frankie and Tom sitting in the train carriage bar UTTERLY DAZED by it all, unable to do anything but stare into space. We'd end up there again several times over the course of the day, but not before wandering over to the Indiepop Singalong to a) SINGALONG b) do a quite "refreshed" version of "Boom Shake The Room" in a sandpit.

    By about 11pm I was feeling like I'd been stood in the sunshine all day drinking beer and sweating and, after checking, discovered a similar feeling amongst my colleagues. After hugging as many people as we could on the way out we hopped back into the Tigermobile, dropping Mr & Mrs Machine off in Derby and before too long Tom and I were back at Tiger Towers, drinking whisky and thinking "Cor! That was GRATE!"

    Next day the reality of post-Indietracks comedown hit me. How long is it until next year?

    posted 29/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Indietracks Friday
    You find me sat gawping into space, very happy and very exhausted, for LO! it was Indietracks this weekend!

    On Friday I met Mr T McClure at Tiger Towers and, after a STRATEGY MEETING re: maximising sales potential (or, to put it another way, "Oh God, where did all these old CDs come from?") we headed off to Ripley. We arrived at Butterley Station and were IMMEDIATELY embroiled in saying hello to people, also HUGGING. The train seemed to be taking AGES to arrive, so Tom, myself and Mr G Anderson CALLED IT by walking off towards the site on foot. Within SECONDS the train arrived. MAGIC.

    It's been ages since I last went to Indietracks, so when we got to the main site it took me a while to reacclimatise to the fact that at least 50% of the people I know in the whole world were in THE SAME PLACE and also that there were ALSO loads of people there I didn't know but who DID know me. This is the only place on the entire planet that we get to find out what it's like being slightly famous, and it took some time to remember how to deal with it, but once I did - SMILE at everybody, HUG anyone within grabbing distance, and if you DON'T know them you will within a few seconds - it was lovely.

    Mr FA Machine arrived not long after us, and he, Tiger and I settled into a steady rotation of BEER and Ambling About. We were joined for much of the evening by Mr & Mrs P Wilson and had a DELIGHTFUL time of it. LOADS of people had told me that i HAD to listen to The Chills so I did, and can confirm that yes, they certainly did sound like a Legendary Indie Band and I reckon if I knew the songs it would have been MIND BLOWING.

    The highpoint of the day though was seeing Allo Darlin who, it may surprise you to know because I hardly ever mention it, I REALLY REALLY LIKE. The first half of the set featured a lot of new stuff, which sounds great, but things really kicked off about 30 minutes in. I'd gone off to the bar for BEERS and came back to find the ENTIRE SITE in SILENCE, all listening to "Tallulah". It was astounding, and then it was HIT after HIT after HIT. They got Emma Kupa on for "Silver Dollars" and THEN got Katie and David from The Just Joans on for "If You Dont't Pull". EVEN BETTER than all that though was at the end when they segued into "You Can Call Me Al". You could feel the tension growing as everyone in the audience thought "Hang on - this is the one with That Bass Solo in it, surely they can't..?" and when Mr B Botting DID do That Bass Solo the whole site ERUPTED!

    When the gig was finished we stood AGOG in a crowd of similarly stunned people, GRINS plastered all over the place. "They're like a proper band!" we all said, for LO! it felt (as it so often does with them) as if one of OUR bands had not only Become Big but had also STAYED as one of our bands. I suggested that surely we could all pack up and go home now, as nothing could possibly top THAT and that any band attempting to play afterwards would be on a FOOL'S ERRAND, then remembered that WE were playing next day. Ah!

    We set off to go home but accidentally had loads more beer on the way, so by the time we fell into the Tiger Mobile two thirds of us were a bit tiddly. Back at Tiger Towers we had a nice settling whisky before I concluded that, what with one thing and another, BED was probably the best plan. We had a big day planned for tomorrow!

    posted 28/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Most Professional Band In The World
    On Monday night I was in Leicester yet again for ANOTHER Validators practice. This was our second practice for Indietracks - that's two more practices than we have most YEARS!

    I met Mr FA Machine at Leicester station and we got a taxi to The Forester's Arms, opposite our rehearsal room. It's an amazing pub, as it's EXACTLY like all the pubs I first drank in in Leicester back in 1989, even down to the green paint on the outbuilding doors - I suspect that that's probably because it hasn't been redecorated since then. We had a cheeky half then wandered over to Stayfree, but when we got to the entrance I suddenly realised that it was 6pm and we weren't booked to start until 6.30pm. I've never been that early for anything in my life (and i VERY MUCH DOUBT that Frankie has!) so we went back to the pub for a pint. You can be TOO professional.

    Half an hour later we were back and once the full set of Validators had arrived we set to work. At the last practice we agreed a list of ten songs and, on the train to Leicester, I worked out an order. To my ASTONISHMENT everybody seemed fine with it, so we tried it out and... it worked! We even TIMED it, leaving gaps between the songs for REMARKS and including a rather lengthy Phaser Pedal Repair Section (it was - AHAHAHAA - just a "phase" it was going through, but - ROFL MAX - Tom was not "phased" by it) we got the whole set done in 42 minutes. We've got 40 minutes on stage, so I reckon, including Playing More Quickly On Stage in the mix, we should be PERFECT.

    Also during the session we discussed a PROP that Emma's making for 20 Things To Do Before You're 30, discussed alternative lyrics for That Guy (which mostly involved saying "wanking" a lot: INTELLECTUALS AT PLAY) and said the phrase "he's dead now" repeatedly and LARFING. For some reason this has become a new BUZZ PHRASE amongst The Vlads. I'm sure it is something that will NEVER EVER EVER go horribly wrong and be said in the wrong context. Inevitably, by me.

    With all that done we fell to the lengthy process of discussing which pub we would go to and eventually settled on The Criterion, where we had a lovely pint, told several stories, and appeared to agree to start recording a new album in NOVEMBER. This time we're planning NOT to have huge explosions or orchestras, and try instead to do a 30 minute Mostly Just The Band album of HITS. Mind you, we always say that, so who knows?

    posted 23/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Making Use Of The Facilities
    After all the FAMILY that we'd been surrounded by on Saturday, Sunday found us all in need of some QUIET TIME, so I headed to my local Biggest Shopping Centre In Europe to try out a NEW THING: sitting in a cafe with my laptop!

    Yes I know people have been doing this for donkey's years, but not me. Usually the given reason for doing it is that it makes you GET ON with work you have that needs doing, but this is not usually a problem for me. HOWEVER I'm working on ONE particular thing at the moment that a) i am way behind on b) has a very definite, very soon deadline and c) is not as interesting PER SE as playing Candy Crush. THUS I sat down for two hours and ... well, DID IT! It was amazing - the complete lack of distraction (apart from other people obvs) meant I had nothing much else to do (except for use the M&S Cafe WiFi) and the sooner I GOT ON and FINISHED IT the sooner I could go home. The only problem was the need for having a WEE. I've got EVERYTHING on this here laptop, so had to time wee breaks for when I'd finished a cuppa and could pack everything up. Still, it felt dead MODERN to be sat drinking tea typing away in a cafe, I reckon I'll be doing it again!

    In the afternoon I saw an advert for "Guardians Of The Galaxy", which reminded me that I hadn't seen "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes" - the BRANE process was "Ooh! I'll go and see that next week! Hang, I've not seen that other film I want to see yet. Can't go and see TWO films in one week , must go now!" - so DID. COR! It was bloody brilliant - i LOVED the first one, and this one was even better, also DIFFERENT. It was a PROPER science fiction film, with thought and ideas and ACTION and EXCITEMENT and TALKING MONKEYS. Crikey oh riley tho - the special effects were AMAZING. I completely FORGOT it was all wizardry and tricks, they were SO good. I've seen a few reviews complain about the effects, but maybe seeing it in Sensible 2D rather than BRAIN BLEEDING 3D made a difference. Either way, it was the best film I've seen for AGES, and is STILL lingering in my MIND.

    Then, on the way home, just round the corner from our house, I saw this:



    STANDARD EVENT for East Village my dears. If you look very very closely you may be able to detect the look of SHEER CONTEMPT on the face of the driver, who is trying to make a phone call while MANY MANY PASSIING MEN keep stopping, staring, and taking pictures!

    posted 22/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    London Sightseeing Tour
    We had a whole batch of PARENTS over the weekend. A large part of this was my Dad and Step-Mum, who had come up to see my brother off at the airport (he was in London for a bit after my sister's wedding a fortnight ago - there has been a LOT of my family in our lives lately!!) and then came to stay with us for a couple of nights.

    On Thursday we went out for drinkies, and I MOOTED my cunningly devised plan for A Stroll Round Westminster, including going to see The Changing Of The Guards. Before I could get to that bit, however, they said "Ooh! We went to see The Changing Of The Guards yesterday, also hung around in Westminster!" Ah.

    Seeking new ideas I asked if there was anything else they'd like to see while they were here, and Dad suggested a) The Cutty Sark b) Tibits restaurant. These were EASILY agreed to, and so come Friday we set off to SIGHTSEE.

    We started off by catching the DLR from my (VERY) local station, Stratford International. I pretty much NEVER use this line, as it doesn't really go anywhere I need to go to, but this time we went STRAIGHT to Royal Victoria (getting Dad and Lin to sit in the front and DRIVE) then wandered across some tarmac to the Emirates Air-Line. This is the ludicrous SKI LIFT that goes across the Thames, starting in NOWHERE and going to a BUS STATION. It is one of the very most RIDICULOUS things that that idiot Boris Johnson has done while Mayor - it's actually one of the few things he HAS done too - so all the way there I was thinking "What a stupid construction this is!" However, it IS an awful lot of fun, and you DO get jolly good views, and it was WEIRDLY ENJOYABLE to be able to gain access using your Oyster Card. It was a bit alarming when the wind blew though, so I don't think I will be adding to its numbers and becoming its FIFTH regular user!

    We continued our London Transport Odyssey by getting a BUS to Greenwhich, where we had the first of TWO visits to the Admiral Hardy pub. It was dead nice, I liked it IMMEDIATELY due to the big picture of Brett & Bernard from Suede on the wall. Once PINTED we went to the Cutty Sark, which was GRATE, especially the collection of figureheads which a) looked like a Steampunk Sergeant Pepper and b) appeared to feature Ms J Lockyer.



    We popped back to the pub for LUNCH then used ANOTHER form of transport to get to Westminster - a BOAT! Appropriately enough post-Cutty Sark we used the Thames Clipper which took a WHILE but was rather luxurious. It was also rather WARM, as it was London's Hottest Day Of The Year and London's Air Conditioning Systems were not equipped to deal with it. We got off the boat (Dad only JUST managing it, as he'd lost his ticket) and went for a RECUPERATING DRINK in St Stephen's Tavern which, as ever, was full of tourists who have read about how pubs work and WILL NOT BE SWAYED. This is usually Quite Sweet, but was a bit annoying this time as they seemed to be getting ONE DRINK AT A TIME for large groups, and then SHRIEKING.

    Next stop was St James's Park where, ALARMINGLY, we saw a Pelican trying to eat a Pigeon, which did NOT want to be eaten. That's not normal, is it? It wasn't pleasant, so we went to look at Downing Street (gates), the Cenotaph, Trafalgar Square and then came back to meet The Sights On My Tour and headed off to Tibits for tea. We got a TUBE home - all we needed to complete the set was a TRAM!

    On Saturday we did THE OLYMPIC PARK which was amazing as per, then waved off THOSE parents only to head back into town to meet my Mum, Step-Dad, Sister, FOUR NEPHEWS and also my brother for a evening when it was, to be honest, US doing most of the shouting and shrieking as we introduced the aforesaid nephews to the joys of "The Lady on the horse goes NIM NIM NIM" etc etc etc. It was GRATE!

    posted 21/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Geek Show-Off
    On Tuesday evening, after a busy busy day of TYPING, I set off into town to The Star Of Kings in Kings Cross (formerly The Crossed Kings, which was far too confusing a name) where I was due to do a spot at Geek Show-Off. This is the spin-off from Science Show-Off and Museums Show-Off, which in themselves are related to Bright Club in that it's an evening where (usually) non-comedians do brief stand-up sets about a subject they're interested in.

    This was originally meant to be a science or museum night, but I saw Mr S Cross, host, mentioning on Facebook that he was thinking of changing it to a geek night if he could get enough speakers, and asking Mr A Sarll if he could maybe do something about comics. Alex couldn't do it, so I thought "Hang on! I've got that THING that's been in my BRANE for months, maybe I could do that?" I volunteered, was accepted, and thus the booking got booked.

    When I got to the pub I found Mr S Hewitt at the bar. This has happened EVERY time I've met him recently (maybe he's just ALWAYS at the bar?) so, conscious of how often this has led to him being forced to buy me BEER I politely declined his offer and went downstairs to check in with the organisers. As ALWAYS happens when I do ANYTHING to do with the world of comedy I had arrived about an HOUR before anybody else, so said "I'm here!" and then came back upstairs for a pint with The Hewitts. We decided to SENSIBLY have some tea, so I had a Kimchi Quesadilla which was a) very very nice b) basically a cheese toastie.

    Soon it was showtime, and I spent the next couple of hours enjoying enthusiastic people enthusing about (variously) corsets, personality tests, dung beetles, Kanye West, and many other topics. I was on LAST, so my turn didn't come around until just before 10pm, when I strode MANFULLY and slightly nervously towards the stage to deliver my talk, entitled "Marvel vs. DC - which is better?"

    My idea was to compare the two companies in terms of political attitudes - the basic idea is that most of DC's main superheroes come from incredibly privileged backgrounds of unearned powers (Batman is a billionaire, Wonder Woman is a Princess, Superman got powers simply by arriving etc etc etc) whereas Marvel's are mostly Working Class Intellectuals (Spider-man, Captain America, even Doctor Doom). YES I KNOW there are flaws in this argument (tho NOT MANY) but I was surprised, once I got going, by how strongly I felt about it, especially when talking about efforts made by each company towards diversity in recent times. I did try to mostly do it for LARFS, but in Informal Breakout Groups (the pub) afterwards, I found I could expand it a) seriously b) in other directions. Maybe this will be my PhD after retirement??

    It was a lovely evening, and GRATE to be able to exert myself in a completely different way to normal. The only trouble is, now I've got the slides done, I want to do it AGANE!
    posted 17/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Tour De France
    This afternon I nipped out to see a Major Sporting Event, for LO! The Tour De France was coming through the Olympic Park, 10 minutes from our flat. It would have been rude not to really.

    I'd looked up the times online and felt a bit cheeky rolling up at 3.05pm, expecting the leaders to come by in exactly 6 minutes. It turned out I needn't have felt so bad, as they didn't turn up for another half an hour, so instead we watched loads and loads of cars, motorbikes, and a van full of GENDARMES go by. There was a really big, happy, excited crowd stood lining the route all the way that I could see, and I found the whole thing rather WORRYING. A huge mob of high speed vehicles were going to be zooming past, yet there were no barriers and nothing to stop people (and the MANY small children) wandering out into the face of it. Clearly I have missed my calling as a Health & Safety Officer.

    I was thus RELIEVED when people around me started getting texts from chums who were stood earlier in the course. "They're in Walthamstow!" somebody called. "Lea Bridge Road!" someone else said a few minutes later. PHEW. There might be a crash of bikes and bodies LOOMING, but at least I would't have to worry about it for much longer!

    Excitement built as the stream of vehicles got denser and denser, and soon we heard clapping and shouting as the leaders approached. ZOOM! The two cyclists in front went by at lightning speed and suddenly it was all quiet. I knew that that wasn't IT, but it wasn't half STRANGE to get this miniscule burst of ACTION and then nothing again.

    Two minutes later the PELOTON whizzed past and GOODNESS ME but they didn't half go fast! It was about 30 seconds (if that) of COLOUR and BIKES and ZOOM and suddenly they were gone. It was AMAZING - lots of people got cameras out, but I just stood and GAWPED, i have never seen anything quite like it, an almighty FLASH of ACTION, followed by some more cars, a couple more lonely bikes, and then the whole thing was over. The whole crowd paused, thinking "What do we do now?" and then dispersed. Ten minutes later I was back in the flat, wondering if it had happened at all.

    It was marvellous - I hope it comes back to the UK again, next time I'll get there a bit later so I don't need to worry so much!

    posted 7/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Year Of Experimentation
    On Thursday I was booked on a THING at Central St Martins, "The Year of Experimentation", which was advertised as a festival of new writing SLASH series of masterclasses. Some of the masterclasses looked interesting and I wasn't doing anything ELSE that day so I signed up. This was all good until the night before when I got a text from a delightful PAL saying he'd be around in London town on Thursday, would I care for a delightful afternoon PINT or more? It HURT to say I couldn't, but I thought it was for the best.

    Also for the best was the fact that I double checked where it was - Central St Martins has MOVED from its old home on Charring Cross Road to the Granary Building at Kings Cross. This was MUCH handier for me travel-wise (although it wouldn't have been if I'd not checked first!) and also a GRATE opportunity to wander round on Friday morning and have a LOOK at it. It's a GORGEOUS building - they've done some amazing things with the regeneration of Kings Cross, and I think this is one of the highlights, it's so LIGHT and AIRY and all-round ACE. I strode towards the back of the building where I found the Platform Theatre where the day was being held and ALSO Mr H Ali from off of my course, and ALSO Ms A Smith from the Stratford weekender. It felt like we were NETWORKING just hanging around together!

    The actual masterclasses were a little bit of a let-down - to be fair, I have just spent two YEARS attending classes about THE WRITING and all that so there wasn't much new - but as the day went on it did feel like we were at a big open day for Central St Martins' own MA in Creative Writing. Most to the time was spent talking about what the speakers had done, rather than what WE could do, which was all right, but not quite what I was after. There was one REALLY interesting talk about the possibilities of dramatic writing in DIGITAL media which made the old BRANE fire up a bit, but it was a little bit spoiled by the advice given by the speaker on how to progress in this brave new world. "We all know 10 people who work in this area, ask them," she said. Hmmm... not sure we do! Then when asked "How do I get noticed/recruited into this area?" she advised "Be a really good writer." I think there might be a little more to it than that, like maybe applying?

    The bits of discussion i got MOST out of was talking with Ali and Hakkim at lunchtime, so at about 3pm I thought "This is about enough for me" and said cheerio to my chums (who were also leaving) and BUNKED OFF to go to the PUB. It turned out that the aforementioned chum was still free, so we went and had a Wide Ranging Discussion covering SEVERAL Vital Areas, also SEVERAL vital pints, in the Parcel Yard at Kings Cross station. I staggered off back to the Javelin train safe in the knowledge that I might not have learnt much from the Formal Lectures, but had gained a GRATE deal from the Informal Seminars!

    posted 4/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    The End Of The Beginning
    Last night I found myself stomping down St John Street in Islington as I have on so very many Monday (and Wednesday) nights for the past couple of years, heading into SKOOL for a lecture. This time, however, was the LAST time I would do this.

    For LO! it was the final ever Formal Lecture on my MA Course and it felt... weirdly not very weird. After so many GOOD TIMES and so much THORT and LEARNING and also FUN you might expect that the last time this would ever happen would feel EPOCHAL, but it didn't really, because it didn't feel like an ending.

    The night itself was GRATE - Kay Stonham came and talked to us about Comedy Writing, which was VERY interesting, and towards the end we got into groups and wrote a sketch ourselves. This was lots of fun, not least because i FINALLY got to say "HULK SMASH!" out loud in a crowded room. She also gave us a TONNE of useful links for places to send stuff to, a list of the sort of things were should try writing, and then came to the pub after for more of the same.

    It was in the pub that things did feel a LITTLE different, partly because it was a Monday night when we don't usually GO to the pub so much, partly because it was even fuller with us than usual, and partly because of the HUGGING that went on as people left. At this point it did feel a little like something ending, as there may well turn out to be a few people I won't see again after graduation, especially as so many of our group are from other countries. However, what it really felt like was an end to a chapter - we won't be back in for lectures again, but loads of IDEAS and PLANS were buzzing round for what we'd do next, together and apart. I know that that's an easy thing to think, and that inevitably some ideas won't come to pass, but with this group I know that SOME things definitely WILL happen, especially if some of them involve meeting in pubs to PLAN!

    A big group of us left at the end, saying our goodbyes at the tube station as usual, and that was that, nearly two years of Formal Education coming to an end. We hand in our final project by September 1st and then graduate next January, but I've got a feeling that before then we'll be up to something else. I wonder what it'll be?
    posted 1/7/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Showcase
    When I started on my MA course - which was, I think, about a month ago? Definitely not nearly TWO YEARS AGO anyway - the Big Thing that we always seemed to be aiming at was The Showcase. This was a night when Professional Actors would be Professionally Directed in extracts of our work for a THRONG of Industry Professionals. The only way it could be MORE Professional, it seems, would be to have Bodie and Doyle drive through a window in the interval.

    It's always been a big thing and, last night, it was DONE! As there's so many of us on the course this year it had been divided into two evenings, so the first showcase was actually last week, mostly for people doing playwriting. Last night was for screenplay people, and this very much included ME! As previously mentioned, I'd been to a rehearsal at the weekend, and had since been to another on Monday. The first time around I'd been slightly worried that it might all be a bit Crash Bang Wallop, as there's a LOT of running around and EXPLOSIONS, but the second time I was relieved to find it working REALLY well. I was, in fact, DELIGHTED, and emerged from the building EXCITED - a level of excitement that was only slightly dented by seeing one of our Course Leaders coming INTO the building with a nervous young person, clearly off to interview them for NEXT year's course. It may all be coming to a climax for us, but life keeps on rolling and courses keep on recruiting!

    I thought I was FINE with it all happening, but that night I had one of those nights where you have a MILLION DREAMS, all of which are basically your BRANE going "OI! Stop ignoring this big important thing - I'm worrying about it, you should be too!" It seemed to involve a lot of DRIVING TESTS.

    Come the day itself I was A Bit Nervous all day long, and became gradually MORE so as I strode in at 3ish, hoping to catch the gap between Final Rehearsal and The Dress Rehearsal, as I had a Small Re-Write for my title page to hand in. Well, I thought I did - I wasn't entirely sure whether it was needed or not but thought I ought to show willing. As it turned out I needn't have done it, but it was worth turning up anyway as a bunch of us decided to go to the PUB for the afternoon! HA! This was an excellent idea and gave us a chance to Not Think About It for a bit, and instead concentrate on not having TOO much to drink before we went back.

    Soon it was 6pm and time to head over for half an hour of worrying about guests turning up, wondering if there'd be any Actual Agents come to scoop us up, and drinking FREE WINE. At half past we went in and, after a brief pre-amble from Phil, the big boss of the course, we were off... and it was GRATE! The actors were really really good, we had TITLES up on a screen for each piece, and the extracts themselves were ACE. I swelled with pride for our collective efforts, we'd done DEAD well - indeed, Phil, in his pre-amble, had seemed genuinely surprised by just how good they were!

    My extract was near the end of the first half and it all seemed to go well - people said they enjoyed it afterwards and I must say I was very pleased with it. The only sad thing about it is that i really LIKE the story, so every time I do anything with it I remember that it's FAR too expensive/ridiculous to actually MAKE!

    That said, I did talk to someone afterwards who said doing it as RADIO might work, so you never know. This was in the Post-Show SCHMOOZE time - we'd had a MID-SHOW break when we'd gathered in a groups for chats (during which myself, my baby brother and lovely sister-in-law were provided with our own personal bowl of NIBBLES by The Crisps In My Bag, who'd HALF INCHED them for us!) but afterwards we were meant to TALK to people. Unusually for me i did actually manage to pluck up the courage to say hello to one person, but other than that it was saying "HA! We did it!" to course colleagues and then THE PUB.

    The pub! As I have said many times this has probably been the BEST bit of the whole course, where large numbers of us would gather and LARF and pitch ideas and DRINK and encourage each other and generally have a good time. We've only got one more Formal Teaching Session left, and so only one more PUB after school, but luckily arranging a visit to the PUB is Not Exactly Rocket Science. There was much talk about keeping in contact and doing Other Projects together, and I think we actually WILL do that thing. There may not have been many (or possibly any) Professional Industry People there to SNAP us up, but I don't think that really matters - whatever happens next will come from US!

    posted 26/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Competitive Writing
    As part of my PANIC RIDDEN THRUST to WRITE as many things as possible and send it out to as many PEOPLE as possible I've entered a LOT of writing competitions over the past six months. These have often involved writing something NEW, which has been lots of fun, much like back in the first year of my MA when we'd get a new writing assignment every week. It's been especially good while I've been working on the Big Script for the end of the course - being able to spend a couple of days writing something a) new b) short gives the BRANE a bit of a holiday.

    The only downside of all this is that it IS a competition, which usually means at the end of it you don't WIN. Now, if there's one thing that The Krazy World Of ROCK has prepared me for it is REJECTION, but in ROCK this rejection usually comes in the form of INDIFFERENCE. In The Distinctly Less Krazy World Of Writing rejection is a lot more organised, so you tend to (eventually) get TOLD about it, which, after a while, can become a bit depressing.

    I was in one of these depressing bits the week before last - I've got a big list of everything I've sent off for the past few months, including what happened to each script, and it has become a long list of "NO". I'd been telling myself this was FINE, but when I finally GOT something (the internship and the course from last weekend)I FINALLY admitted to myself that I'd been a bit SAD. A moment of self-realisation? That calls for a SONG!

    Anyway, what all this is leading to is that a couple of OTHER results have come in, and they've come in quite nicely. Last night I got an email from Pint-Sized Plays saying they'd announced the longlist for their 2014 short play competition. I went to have a look, fully expecting not to be included (the type of competition I have entered more than ANYTHING, and thus have had the most rejections from, is short plays competitions) but BLOW ME my play "The Green Ghost" was in the list! This is ONLY the longlist (cutting 300ish plays down to 50ish) which leads to a shortlist which THEN leads to 5 plays which actually get performed, but still, I was rather chuffed!

    Then this morning I got another email about the first round results for ANOTHER competition - The NYC Midnight Screenwriting Challenge. The idea of this one is that you get a genre, a subject and a character and have to write a 12 page screenplay in 8 days. There's HUNDREDS of people in this one, so they divided all the entrants into 25 groups of 30ish people, each with a different assignment. The top five from each group go into the next round, where you write 8 pages in 3 days, and then the winners in THAT round have to do 4 pages (i think) in 24 hours.

    It's a GRATE idea, and having to write a MYSTERY STORY (as my group did) was a whole heap of fun. The only trouble for me, if I got through, was going to be the timing - the next round takes place this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and I'm spending this entire weekend going to, attending, and returning from my sister's wedding in Cornwall. I had various plans for taking laptops and writing on the train, but it was going to be an ALMIGHTY hassle, so part of me thought "I really won't mind if I don't get through." The rest of me, however, thought "No! Me! Me! Let ME get through and get the ACCLAIM!"

    I thus went to look at the results not knowing WHAT i wanted. If I'd got through I'd be glad, but worried about how to do it, while if i DIDN'T I'd be SAD. However, when I looked i found it was the best possible outcome - i HADN'T got through but I HAD got an Honourable Mention, thus getting the PRAISE I so clearly crave but without having to LUG a laptop round the south west for the weekend. HOORAH!

    I think what this all points to is that I'm going through a GOOD BIT at the moment. I know these GOOD BITS of old, when you have a flurry of things going well and fun stuff popping up (they often come around the time of an album release) and I know that they don't last all that long, so you have to enjoy them while you're IN them. So that's what I'm going to do. The only trouble is, most of the results from my competition entries are IN now - I've got to get entering some more ready for next time!

    posted 24/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Musical Theatre Initiative
    I had a very LONG very BUSY very MIND EXPANDING weekend this weekend just past, as I spent it ALL at the Stratford East Musical Theatre Initiative. This was a three day WORKSHOP where they got together a bunch of people from different Musical Areas (e.g. DJ types, jazz singers, poets, proper musicians, playwrights... and me) to come together, TALK about how musicals work, and write together.

    Put like that it sounds a bit airy fairy but GOOD GRAVY it was a LOT of WORK. We were basing everything around the play A Raisin In The Sun which is, by the way, AMAZING. It's like an alternate universe version of Arthur Miller or something. A few days before I'd been sent the WRONG play (which was a bit boring, to be honest) so ended up having to get up early on Saturday morning to read the RIGHT one (we'd gone with parents to see The Pajama Game on Friday night. REVIEW: it was Quite Good, especially the bits that featured GARY WILMOT) and RACED through. It's ace!

    Anyway, we talked a LOT on Friday about Musicals Stuff and then looked at the play, TALKED some more, and then got put into pairs, given a character, and told to work out a part where they HAD to sing i.e. where we could say "In a musical, THIS is where the song has to be." I'm not explaining it very well because my BRANE is still full!

    On Saturday I met with my writing partner Suzann in the morning and we WORKED on the song. By HECK but we WORKED on it, for THREE HOURS, talking EVERYTHING over, working through WORD by WORD, until we had something we were pretty pleased with. We then presented it to everyone else, as well as some people from the theatre (including Philip Hedley who was BRILLIANT) who then gave us feedback. Next day we were back in AGANE for ANOTHER three hours working on the song. This was, i reckon, the BEST bit. Usually when I write a song it gets tweaked a bit at gigs and so on, but I'd pretty much never go back and do a full RE-WRITE on every word, line, piece of tune etc etc. It was also GRATE working with someone who could actually SING, who went through every line of vocal melody making each one a) unique b) suit what the words were saying. When we took it back THAT afternoon it was approx 100 times better, with something approaching a proper arrangement too, and with all sorts of parts that I'd never have even THOUGHT to have put in myself, and wouldn't have been able to sing even if i could.

    So yes, it was fantastic and will DOUBTLESS inform my FUTURE WORK e.g. me and Steve's next show. We then got bought a BEER and sat downstairs for a bit having an Actual Chat, as opposed to DISCUSSION of THEORY, which was lovely. They're doing a fortnight long version of the workshop later in the summer, and OBVS i would love to do it, but even if I don't I've learnt several TONNES of new stuff over this weekend. It's going to take a while for my BRANE to file it all!

    posted 23/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Motivation For Saying RRRAAARGH
    Life is ALL GO at the moment. Along with the rest of the nation we were up late on Saturday night watching the FOOPBALL (my verdict: it was actually ENJOYABLE, I'm not used that THAT with England, though a draw would not have gone amiss), but I had to get up early next morning to go to SCHOOL. On the way there it looked like I was the last man on EARTH, everyone else had clearly had a lie-in!

    The reason for my early-ish rising was that we were having the first rehearsals for our SHOWCASE. This week there's an evening where all the people who specialised in playwriting have excerpts from their final scripts (i.e. our MA dissertation equivalent) performed by professional actors, and then next week us TV/film screenwriters do the same thing. Striding through an eerily silent Islington I was full of NERVES - I've been IN rehearsals many times for AMATEUR things, but had no idea what it would like being a) with PROFESSIONALS and b) The Writer, sat in the corner.

    Luckily there were a few other people booked before me, so I got to sit and watch how it all worked, and decided that the best thing to do would probably be to sit to one side SMILING and AGREEING. I followed this plan to the LETTER (except once correcting the pronunciation of "Margot", while also smiling) and had a GRATE time. It was AMAZING to see and hear my WORDZ being done by Professional Actors, it was SORT OF like when you write a song and then see and hear someone else perform it - they put words in different places, bring NEW things to it, and you get the credit!

    It was ACE and also seemed to actually WORK as a THING. I was especially pleased with how much dashing about there seemed to be, and that it appeared to make some kind of SENSE. There's a horde of mummies, an elephant gun, and a 12 foot tall Easter Island Head involved, so there was always a tiny chance that it WOULDN'T make sense, but I think the bit where the Easter Island Head went "RRRAAARGH!" and the Mummmies all go "UUUURRRGGH!" was BRILL!

    I staggered out, delighted, and walked down to the British Library to see the Comics Unmasked exhibition. It was ALL RIGHT - it's always a bit odd seeing exhibitions at the British Library, as it's mostly just peering through glass cases at BOOKS or, more usually, trying to look over someone else's shoulder at them. I mean, i like books, but I have loads of them at home, and the same applies to comics - I have the same copies as many of the ones on display, so it wasn't quite as exciting as it might be! ALSO there was a weird early-90's BIAS to the display. I think (as I said to Mr Seb Patrick, who I bumped into on my way out) that more people read "Crisis" in the many many times it was featured in the exhibition than ever BOUGHT it at the time. It was EVERYWHERE, and yet there was hardly ANY mention of Viz, and I don't remember seeing Leo Baxendale ANYWHERE. And GOODNESS ME but I think one dummy wearing a "V" mask would have got the point across!

    That said, there was lots of interesting stuff I'd not seen (though the BEST BIT was NOT a book, but was the actual helmet Karl Urban wore in the Judge Dredd Film), but I think I had more fun in the shop afterwards, where you could PICK UP comics and READ them!

    posted 17/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Moping Made Right
    I had right mopey old day on Friday. MOPE i went all morning and MOPE i went (to increasingly high levels of MOPE) in the afternoon.

    The reason for this UNUSUAL activity was that Friday was the deadline for TWO emails I was hoping to get. One was to find out if I'd got an internship at the TV Development Company that I'd gone to the week before, while the other was about taking part in a three day WORKSHOP for people who wanted to Advance Their Work In Musical Theatre. I know right? BOTH of them were very exciting opportunities - the first for reasons described the other day, the second because a) it sounded like fun b) it COULD lead to meeting Actual Broadway Producers!

    Friday morning went by without event, and I thought "They both said I'd know by today - it'll probably be the afternoon then." The afternoon went by in quiet, the only noise being the sound of me clicking the refresh button on my email REPEATEDLY. I tell you what - since all this happened i have unsubscribed from a LOT of mailing lists. Every 5-10 minutes my phone would PING to let me know I had a new message, I would DASH to have a look at what it was, and then be upset to find it was ANOTHER newsletter/opportunity/idiot estate agent. It was like that episode of Ally McBeal (APPARENTLY: i, of course, was busy watching SPORT when it was on, ALWAYS) where a woman bought a case against a telemarketing company, who had a ROBOT ring her every five minutes when she was desperate for a Romantic Call. Like THAT!

    It got to 5pm and I let loose all the thoughts that said "Oh well, it was never going to happen was it? Perhaps NOTHING EVER IS?!?" Yes yes, I know these are MOPEY thoughts of foolishness, HENCE their labelling as such. This led to me PANICKING about this whole Not Having A Job And Trying To Write For CA$H idea - i mean, it has been just over a MONTH, a whole FOUR WEEKS since I finished work officially, SuRELY by now I should be poolside in LA deciding which global conglomerate I would bless with my next pitch? I MOPED around the flat, did a MOPEY tweet (which several people reacted to with NICENESS), and generally felt SORRY for myself.

    And then, about 7pm, an email arrived to say that I'd got a place on the Musical Workshop! And then about ten minutes later another arrived to say I'd got one of the internships! SUDDENLY I had to RETRACT the mope and do THE DANCE OF GLEE all around the flat, occasionally interspersed with going "EEP!" and "ZANG!" I texted The Headlines Of My News about it, and we went to the PUB to celebrate with PINTS! HOORAH!

    The only downside to all this was that I was going to have PARENTS over this Friday and then some BEERS with chums on Saturday but now coudn't because of the Musicals Thing, so had to apologise all round, and also move a couple of other ITEMS to one side. That done I went back to dancing round the flat - this is going to be EXCITING!

    posted 16/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Final Curtain
    Yesterday Steve and I gathered at Kings Cross once more for an afternoon out in YORK. It was only a couple of hours later when we arrived in The Distant North that it struck me quite what a daft thing it is just to pop up to the other end of England for the evening and come back. "Whose idea was this?" I thought. Then remembered.

    We were up there to perform Total Hero Team for the last time, at the York New Musicals Festival, run by Mr Jim Welsman. After a very very pleasant stroll through picturesque, sunny, York, we met the man himself at the theatre. Jim turned out to be LOVELY man who was full of enthusiasm for the whole IDEA of new musicals, and keen to make a big thing of this festival, which was only in its second year. He took us upstairs to the Actual Theatre we'd be playing in, and the three of us toyed around trying to get the lights working. After a while a proper Lighting Guy came and did it - he and Steve discussed the lighting effects, and I got told off for stepping straight through the back curtain into the dressing room. Dressing room! Curtains! SIDES! We were not used to such exotic items!

    With the lights done and the props set up we had no option but to pop down the road for a couple of pints in the tranquil beer garden of the Tap And Stile nearby. We got back to the venue at about twenty to six and waited round nervously. We knew we'd sold SOME tickets, but nobody turned up at all until ten to, so we were AFEARED! As it turned out we had a very decent crowd of about twenty in (including at least ONE person who writes The Avengers, which is always exciting), who saw us do a slightly nervy (especially at the start) show that blossomed into a WHOLE LOT OF FUN. We discovered in this, our final show, that the way to FINALLY get a laugh out of the "Musical Pirates" joke is to EXPLAIN it at LENGTH. I'd been talking about this with The Punchline In My Gag the night before, and she'd said "OH! Is THAT what that jokes about?" and it turned out that the reason nobody ever laughed at it is nobody knows what we're on about. They're two people discussing an Extended Metaphor for music piracy, who do so in a song, while dressed as pirates. "Musical Pirates"! If only we'd known that sooner!

    There were quite a few children in the room too, which always means that Come On Pussy gets a lot of TITTERS, and the whole thing ambled gently to a CLOSE with me saying, on Steve's suggestion, that "Fufu the future kitten will be back to try again at www.totalheroteam.co.uk" rather than at the next gig, for LO! there would not be one! It felt a bit weird!

    We thanked and hugged the marvellous Mr Welsman, promising to come back with the new show NEXT year (a new show which Steve and I had had our first meeting about on the way up - it will feature a TOP HAT somehow) then went back to the pub to meet Mr J Smith with Miss L and Master L Smith. I'd earlier been presented by some rather brilliant Dinosaur Planet FAN ART by Loula, featuring a lovely picture of a dinosaur harassing the main heroes and a RADICAL design for the Actual Dinosaur Planet, and now we were presented with PINTS by the senior member of the group. That's my kind of family!

    With all that done we wandered back to the station for another beer in the York Tap and a very SNOOZY trip home. We arrived with Total Hero Team completely DONE, which means I can now FINALLY listen to the podcast of Moon Horse without confusing myself, then get on with writing the NEXT show!

    posted 13/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Olympic Feats
    After staying up until 3am BOOZING the night before I was up until 4am on the final night of the tour due to TOOTH and related EARACHE. OW! It really hurt! This was especially galling as I had to be up at 7:30am in order to catch my train home, which meant that when I finally DID get home I was KNACKERED. What I really needed now was a nice calm weekend of relaxation. Instead I embarked upon a ROLLERCOASTER RIDE of ACTION!

    The first part of this was a trip to the VELODROME, where we were booked to go CYCLING round the road track to celebrate The Landlady's birthday. I thought this was going to be a delightful potter around a quiet path for an hour, but it WAS NOT. The Velodrome appears to be JUST as organised as ALL sporting venues i.e. Not Very At All (I stick to my theory that all Sporting Venues are run by PE Teachers, and are thus CHAOTIC) as we had to go back and forth down a long corridor 200 times to get IN, get bikes, get helmets, and then get a "release form" for our under-18 group member. When we got ON the bikes it then turned into a PE lesson, with a man giving us very fast and complicated instructions for how to operate our very fast and complicated bicycles. Get this: I didn't really listen and only used the back wheel gears - apparently you can use them on the front wheel too nowadays IF YOU ARE A SQUARE. I was a REBEL! HA!

    There was a LOT of huffing and puffing and ARSE ACHE and struggling up hills and general BIKE RIDING. I haven't been on a bike for about 20 years and it is true that you don't forget how to ride one, but it is also true that you don't forget quite how unpleasant it can be. SLOGGING round the course I thought "Can't i just walk instead?" It DONE ME IN!

    After our hour was finished we staggered out, jelly legged, and went to have some LUNCH, before myself and The Seat On My Bike went and did a bit of SHOPPING. This has become a bit of a post-Rock Ritual for us. A couple of weeks ago we went to do a gig in bath BATH, had curry and beer, then came home and bought a TOWEL. Last week we went on a POLITICAL DEMO then had SCONES. This week I came off tour and we went and bought BEDDING. Then we went to Waitrose, then we went to the PUB - that sound you hear is THE MAN, WEEPING because he is unable to comprehend.

    On SUNDAY we were out and about yet again - the Queen's Baton Relay was coming through the Olympic Park on its way to the Commonwealth Games, so we thought we'd go and have a look. It took a while to find, as there was no indication ANYWHERE where it would be or when, but eventually we tracked it down by the simple expedient of wandering around EVERYWHERE. We spotted a group of people, many in the same t-shirt, walking slowly behind a golf buggy with a policeman nearby. "That'll be it!" we said, picked up our beers (it was SUCH Holiday Weather that NOT having a Holiday Beer would have been rude) and followed them... and soon found ourselves PART of the procession. It was DELIGHTFUL - when the Olympic Torch had come through London there were huge crowd, loads of massive vehicles blasting out music and sponsorship, tons of police, and a fiercely regulated parade. Here there were, as I said, some people in similar t-shirts and a bobby, all following a golf buggy. We stood around and watched the baton being passed and then strode home, VERY happy with our experience.

    And THEN i went into town to meet TWO batches of pals - Mr & Mrs FA Machine, who'd been down to London for a wedding, and Dr Neil and Ms C Tornbohm, my long-term CHUMS and erstwhile housemates, who'd met up slightly earlier. It turned into a rather MARVELLOUS couple of hours of chat, during which it emerged that not only did Cathy and Frankie come from the same area, but they'd been to the same SCHOOL (Frankie in the same class as Cathy's brother!) and when Cathy's family had left the area Frankie had taught TRUMPET to the child of the family who moved into their house! It was SPOOKY!

    It was also a much needed FINALE to a very very very long weekend. I was looking forward to having a massive lie-in next day, but alas i needed to go in to work. WORK! UGH!

    posted 11/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Tour Diary 7: Nottingham
    The last day of our tour dawned, for me, just after 9am with a MASSIVE KLAXON going off. I LEAPT out of bed... then got back in, sure that if it WAS a fire then someone would tell me later. Gav leapt so far out of HIS bed, it later turned out, that he ended up in a nearby Weatherspoons having breakfast, and discovered that the KLAXON had come from the pub next door to the hotel, who liked to test their KLAXON about once a week. If I had a KLAXON I'm sure I would test it as often as I could too, but I'd like to think I'd wait until later in the day.

    Shortly before NOON Gav and I regrouped, and hopped into his car for the 40 minute journey to Nottingham... which took us nearly two and a half hours. His SatNav wasn't working to start with, so we tried to navigate BY INSTINCT. This wouldn't work well under the best of instinct-navigational conditions, and it definitely didn't work in BIRMINGHAM, which has been legendarily designed to CONFUSE. Even when the SatNav DID come into action we kept going a bit AWRY, mostly because we were swapping HIGH POWERED TALES OF ROCK. Well, i say "swapping" - an outside observer might have said that it was mostly me YAKKING ON.

    We eventually made it to Nottingham, parked in an UPSETTING CAR PARK (all the corridors and ramps were too short/thin, and it seemed to be upside down), got me checked into the Ibis, then went for LUNCH. Suitably refreshed we embarked upon an Afternoon Out. Gav bought a toy Robin Hood Bow And Arrow in the Tourist Information Centre which gave me a PROUSTIAN RUSH as I'd had one exactly the same when I was about six, then we went to Forbidden Planet where I met Ed, who I used to know in Leicester but hadn't seen for about 15 years! After all THAT excitement we went to Nottingham Castle for a stroll through the garden, an ice cream, and a look at the gallery. Gavin TWINKLED at the lady on reception SO MUCH that she let us in for a pound each - move over Motley Crue, rock and roll has NEW KINGS!

    Sated by culture we went back to the car and drove to distant Sherwood, where our venue for the evening was located. I'd never heard of The Guitar Bar before, but was won over by it IMMEDIATELY. It's sort of the function room for Hotel Deux, a big very old-fashioned hotel to which it is joined by a proper old-fashioned BAR, with those round copper topped dimpled tables from days of yore (the 1970s). The room was garlanded with GUITARS, a POOL TABLE on the wall and ROCK memorabilia, and there were THREE Real Ales on tap, the first of which was bought for us by the landlord. LIKE!

    The Addistock Sessions. The idea is you do one of your own songs and then a cover. I did (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock and "Bring Me Sunshine" (which I'm considering learning up for Live Utilisation) and it was while Gav was doing a rather marvellous cover of "Don't Think Twice It's All Right" that Grace arrived, along with Jess aka Mrs Grace. We sat down for a quick chat (including tales of ROCK from our LONG night the night before) then Grace did HER session, we got soundchecked, then the four of us went to get CHIPS. Jess went for SLIGHTLY healthier options than the rest of us, and when she emerged to see us eating CHIPS said "Now THERE'S a photograph!" Here IS that photograph:


    Next tour poster: SORTED! In fact there may BE another tour poster required, as it was agreed by all that we should TOTALLY do this again. There's a whole SLEW of towns we didn't make it to this time - Leicester, Sheffield, Brighton, Cambridge, Norwich, to name but a few - and it was a whole HEAP of fun that must surely be repeated.

    The fun continued as it always has with a SMASHING gig. Gerry went on first and was dead good, then I went on and discovered how VERY VERY HOT it can GET in a small function room. It was the worst possible night to forget to bring my post-gig clean t-shirt as I was WREATHED in sweat, partly because of the sweat but also I think partly because of the RAGING TOOTHACHE I'd had all day. I BRAVELY carried on though, and did THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • Get Over It
  • That Guy
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • I Did A Gig In New York
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • It Only Works Because You're here

  • Previously Gav and Grace have done the "La la la la" bit in the MIDDLE EIGHT of "Only Works" so I thought i would leave this BEST BIT to the end. Look upon my DELIGHTED face in this video of it, to see how much I LOVED this happening!



    Good eh? Gav and Grace were as AMAZING as ever and, rather than me just SAYING that like I always do, allow me to DEMONSTRATE it with further videos:





    And thus the evening and tour came to an end. There were more hugs and high-fives, agreement to further UK touring (around October/November) to be followed maybe by a trip to EUROPE, and then Gav gave me a lift back into town. He'd been hoping to stay with CHUMS, but they seemed to have forgotten about it, so he set off into the night to get as far South as he could - Chelmsford, it turned out - before having a little Car Kip. I walked back to the Ibis, KNACKERED, but full of the joys of ROCK. I really hope we DO do this again, it was GRATE!

    posted 10/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Tour Diary 6: Birmingham
    Last Thursday I came into town for an early lunch with Mr John Dredge, to discuss WRITING STUFF. We usually do this on a Friday, but we had brought it forward this week for LO! I was on TOUR!

    This was the final leg of the "Two Men And A Little Lady" tour with Ms G Petrie and Mr G Osborn, and for me it kicked off with a relaxing hour sitting in the First Class Lounge at Euston Station. It was RAMMED, but the seats were quite comfy, and definitely nicer than the First Class on Virgin Pendolino trains, which is much like Standard Class on Virgin Pendolino trains i.e. HORRID, except they give you free BOOZE on weekdays. I often feel like i have SNUCK IN to First Class as I use High Level Pre-Organisation to book cheap tickets, but I felt even MORE so this time because everyone else in the carriage was doing BUSINESS. Oh the BUSINESS TALK that was flying around - meetings were arranged, events were discussed, discipline was applied and DEALS were being done.

    I felt a bit left out, but luckily I had my own appointment with a HIGH POWERED BUSINESSMAN when I got to Birmingham. I trundled round to Digbeth to visit 100% Vegan, the SHOP of Mr R Kirkham. I'd been to pick up some Vegan Chocs for him a couple of weeks ago in London, so was a) delivering them b) having a right old NOSEY around the shop. It was AMAZING - PACKED with every size, shape and flavour of every Vegan product you could IMAGINE. There was a Vegan version of pretty much EVERYTHING, and if I wasn't spending the next couple of days away from my FRIDGE i would have bought the LOT.

    With that done I trundled on to the Ibis, and texted Gav to arrange a meeting. He was ALSO staying in the Ibis, but as I went down to the lobby to find him I suddenly thought "Hang on, what if there's more than one Ibis in Birmingham?" JUST as I was thinking this I got a text from Gav saying "Are we in the same Ibis?" Spoilers: we were.

    With plenty of time to spare we headed off for a Cheeky Pint, and ended up a pub called The Crown, where a Local came over to tell us ALL ABOUT his encounters with the NHS, offer tips on where NOT to go should we experience issues with our Gall Bladders during our stay, and explained WHY he was voting UKIP. UNFORTUNATELY we couldn't stay for another pint, and FLED into a taxi and thence to Moseley. We got THERE really early too and, not being able to find a pub we went for a coffee instead. Earlier on that day I'd been checked into the Ibis by someone on his first day (it took AGES) and at the cafe I was dealt with harshly/weirdly by other First Dayers. It was little odd, but only made MORE so when the owner came out and gave the impression that he would be having them all SHOT!

    Eventually we were at the Ort Cafe at the right time for ROCK. Grace arrived, we had a long CHAT, and were offered food. It was a Veggie Cafe, and as soon as this was mentioned you could see the FEAR in Grace's eyes at the idea that she might have to eat a VEGETABLE. "Is there any cake?" she asked. I had a MASSIVE, also DELICIOUS, Full Veggie Breakfast, it was LOVELY.

    People arrived, the room gently filled, and it was SHOWTIME. As usual Gav and I had agreed, before she'd arrived, that Grace would be on last, but weren't sure who'd be on first. The matter was settled at 8.10pm when Gav got up and started SINGING. It was GRATE, obvs, and involved a LOT of singing along. Then it was my turn and I did THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • I Did A Gig In New York
  • A Little Bit
  • Get Over It
  • That Guy
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • Clubbing In The Week
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • I had a LOVELY time! I got on stage at 9pm so knew there was PLENTY of time to WAFFLE ON, and very much DID. I seemed to spend a lot of time talking about the benefits of having a My Waitrose card, which everyone seemed to take well. They were less appreciative of my peroration of praise for The Mentalist, probably because it the only people in the room who'd ever watched it were Mr Osborn and I. Anyway, apart from that I had a WHALE of time, it was GRATE!

    And then it was Grace who, as ever, ROCKED the entire room, and rocked it HARD. Post-gig there was some lurking, then some hugs, and a small group of us hopped into a taxi for MORE BOOZE over at the legendary Hare & Hounds pub. It turned into rather boozy, also LENGTHY, evening, which ended in the hotel bar with rather too much WHISKY not long before 3am. ROCK AND ROLL? We done it!

    posted 9/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Day Of Future And Past
    I had a funny old day yesterday, not least because I had to get up, get dressed, and COMMUTE at the same time as other people. I haven't done that for AGES and I did not like it one bit!

    The reason for my hideous TRAVAILS was that I had an INTERVIEW at 10:15am - not for a job, as such, but for an internship at a TV Development Company. We'd had an email about it come round our course, and I thought "Why not?" It would be for two-weeks over the summer, so I'd be free, and it would be interesting to have a look how it all works. The more I researched it, also, the more I thought that it would be a good thing to do. In the UNLIKELY event that i DON'T sell a script for a million quid before September I'm probably going to need to get another job, and it might be rather a lot more fun to get a job doing something similar to what I've done before, but in a more INTERESTING field. Epidemiology has been good to me over the years, but I'm a LOT more keen on Telly!

    It felt very strange when I got there as I was TREMENDOUSLY AWARE that the other people applying would probably be about 20 years younger than me, and a lot less OAFISH and SWEATY. Despite all that, the interview itself was ACE - we sat and basically talked about TELLY for half an hour, something which I THOROUGHLY enjoy doing, and I even got to do my "Why The Mentalist Is BRILLIANT" speech.

    I think it went OK, but it's over ten years since I last had any kind of job interview, so have no real way of knowing. Whatever happens, it was VERY interesting to have a look around and certainly gave me THORTS about my future work. I should put that on my LinkedIn page shouldn't I?

    After all that FUTURE THORT I took a gentle step into the recent PAST later that day, as I travelled out to distant Tottenham to meet Mr S Hewitt for a REHEARSAL, ready for our performance of Total Hero Team next Thursday in York. Since moving to the Olympic Village EVERYWHERE has become easier and usually QUICKER to reach ... EXCEPT for Tottenham, which is now an almighty pain in the behind to get to. It's actually, I think, NEARER to us geographically, but without direct access to the GOBLIN Overground Line it takes FOREVER to get there!

    Thus I ended up running slightly late when I got to Tottenham Hale, and saw a sign saying "This is an Abellio Greater Anglia" (stupid name) "ticket barrier - Do not use your Oyster tickets at this barrier... Use Alternative Exit" as I SWOOPED by. "All right", I thought, "I'll follow the signs to the other exit". However, when I got there it turned out the other exit was CLOSED, with signs saying "Use alternative exit". Was i TRAPPED? I went back and interrupted two Abellio Greater Anglia (stupid name) staff having a chat and asked how to get out. "Through the barrier" they said. I pointed at the sign. "No," they said - if you read on, to the FOURTH LINE of the poster, which you would only see if you STOPPED, read past the FIRST LINE, continued reading further, and digested the message, it said (in bold) "Do not use your Oyster tickets at this barrier" then (not in bold) " if you already have a paper ticket for your destination. If you have a paper ticket PLEASE USE ALTERNATIVE EXIT." They seemed astonished that anyone would not stop and read the entire poster before eventually discovering it did not have any relevance to EVERYBODY USING THE TRAIN or that, even for the few to whom it might apply, it was WRONG as there was NO OTHER EXIT. It was all A Bit Annoying!

    ANYWAY, for all of the above reasons I rolled up a couple of minutes late to find Steve back in our usual rehearsal room, with our usual "audience" i.e. Diana Ross and a range of Motown Stars in pictures on the wall. She loves us, Diana Ross, she never misses a practice. Neither of us had done a HUGE amount of revision (I'd practiced most of the guitar songs a few days ago, but that was it) so hopes were not HIGH. Still, we've got ANOTHER practice booked before the show, so I said "this is the one that makes us panic, learn it, and do it properly next week".

    We launched into the show and - blow me! it was GRATE! There were a couple of places where we stumbled, occasional lapses in concentration and confidence but, as Steve said at the end, it was better than several actual PERFORMANCES! Clearly NOT doing the show for a couple of months is the best preparation for doing it again!

    We emerged VICTORIOUS, also EARLY, and headed of home light of heart and RELIEVED that it was probably going to be OK. It'll also probably be the last time EVER we do it, which means that, in a week or two, I can start writing the NEXT show. We have a DRAMATURGY meeting pencilled in for the trip home from York, where we discuss what we'd like to see in the next show and what we WOULDN'T. I'm asking for MORE tap dancing and LESS heavy props - I bet this is EXACTLY how the RSC work out their shows!

    posted 4/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Tour Diary 5: London
    Sunday found me back on the road, heading all the way into... well, Central London, where Mr G Osborn, Ms G Petrie and I were due to continue our tour with an afternoon show at The Lexington, arranged by those fine fellows of The Hangover Lounge.

    Things got off to a delightful start when I STOMPED up the road from Kings Cross, stopped, turned, and realised I had just passed Mr S Lamacq, who was also on his way to the gig. Bumping into marvellous people would become something of a THEME for the afternoon, as when we arrived there were yet MORE, not least organisers Mr J Jervis and Mr B Clancy and , shortly after, my colleague Mr S Hewitt. Also in atendance was BEER, of which I would enjoy quite a bit.

    Gav was already there, and Grace was Running Late - this has happened with MOST gigs so far, though this time it was due to a Rail Replacement Bus Service. They're like flares, Rail Replacement Bus Services - they always seem to come back into fashion.

    At about quarter to two I went upstairs to sort out chairs, only to find that Jerv had already been up and DONE it, becase he is so ACE. All that was left to do then was to wander round downstairs HERDING people up - we had to start at 2pm because we had to finish at 4pm prompt, and I was KEEN to get people in. I expected about 20 or so people, but in the end there were over EIGHTY! It was PACKED!

    Gav decided to go on first (we argued the point for Artistic Reasons, and not at ALL because we were both aware of Afternoon Drinking occurring) and was ACE. I badgered him into doing his "Over 30" song, which he's not done on this tour so far because, he said, it overlapped rather with my 20 Things To Do Before You're 30. He was sort of right, it does SHARE THEMES but with a different TWIST. Also I like the bit about going "Unh!"

    Then it was me, and I did THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • Strangely Attractive
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • That Guy
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • IT Guy Addendum
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • I think maybe doing Strangely Attractive was a MIS-STEP - I had a NARRATIVE worked out in my BRANE which required something to be done from Dinosaur Planet but it meant I was doing a Rather Quiet song right at the start - but otherwise I had a GRATE time. The "stage" area (i.e. one end of the room) was large and I'd had a couple of beers so there was quite a lot of DANCING ABOUT, and also REMARKS and VALID POINTS. It was HUGE fun, especially having such a large group of people there to tit around in front of, most of whom had never seen me before. Hoorah!

    And then it was Grace who was, as per, BRILL. There was a group of Noticeably Younger people in the room who we'd (correctly) identified as Grace Fans and they WHISPERED along to nearly every song. It was wonderful - at one point Grace stopped and gently encouraged them to sing up a bit, and they did in choruses, but every now and again you'd catch a trace of some of them WHISPERING along with the verses. It was beautiful!

    And after THAT we returned downstairs for a couple more hours of DRINKING. When introducing 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 I always say that there are some things you SHOULD do before you're 30, as you won't be able to do them half as well later on, and GOOD LORD but this is SO TRUE of afternoon drinking. By 6pm I was a COMPLETE WRECK and had to tell myself to STAGGER OFF HOME, though not before a) hugging everyone b) knocking a pint of BEER over a pair of Producers talking to Grace and c) hugging everyone AGAIN.

    When I got home I had to have a BATH and a NAP, which only really helped insofar as they kept me CONTAINED for a couple of hours when I might otherwise have been FALLING OVER things. When I eventually went to bed properly I didn't get to sleep until nearly 3am - this might have been partly because of the NAP, but it was largely because my BRANE kept remembering bits of the day just gone by and thinking "HA! That was BRILLIANT!" I'm really going to miss this tour when it's over!

    posted 2/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Showcase
    I've just got back from the (exciting, recently opened, new) post box down the road, where I was posting some INVITES. Next month (June 25th, to be exact) we're having the Showcase Evening for my MA. There's going to be 14 excerpts from our final scripts, and the idea is that we invite Industry Types along to see it and EITHER offer us huge wads of CA$H, contracts and GLOBAL FAME... OR say "that was very nice well done everybody" and drink some FREE WINE. Either is fine.

    The only difficulty I'm finding with this is that I don't KNOW many people who work in the TV industry. In fact I know TWO, both of whom have invites in the post. The rest are a) some people I've hassled in the past who have been nice enough to reply b) the producers of Newsjack c) the producers of some shows I like. I think that's the general idea, but it does strike me that there MIGHT be people reading this who either ARE linked to the world of TV (or radio or theatre or film or games or comics) and would like to come along or who KNOW someone similar. I know SOME people read this blog but I don't know WHO, so if you're now thinking "I would be up for FREE BOOZE and/or know somebody else who might" then do please let me know otherwise there's going to be loads of FREE BOOZE leftover at the end of the evening and... well, actually, that wouldn't be all bad would it? Every cloud!

    posted 29/5/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Closed Shop, Sheffield
    On Sunday I took a break from the GRUELLING RIGOURS of travelling to do gigs with Gav and Grace by... er... travelling to do a gig! This time i was heading to wonderful SHEFFIELD to play at a weekender organised by Mr D Hartley at The Closed Shop. The pub had been awared Pub Of The Month by Sheffield CAMRA and asked Dan to arrange a weekend of Acoustic Sets to celebrate. When he'd first asked me I thought I might be booked for going to WEMBLEY, but as Leyton Orient kindly decided to make the trip in place of Posh i was free to head North instead.

    I'd been a bit worried about the journey there, as it involved a Rail Replacement Bus. When I first started gigging around the country it felt like I was having to take one of these every bloody week, but I've not been on one for YEARS and, actually, it was FINE. I got the train to Doncaster, then walked out of the station onto a bus which was ALL RIGHT, left early (it was full) and then arrived in Sheffield early AND slightly closer to the Ibis than the train station. It was FINE!

    After checking in to My Usual Suite and a quick WASH I went in search of a taxi. The bus station taxi rank had no taxis, nor any sign that it ever WOULD have, so I popped to the railway station instead and was soon up in a bit of Sheffield I'd never visited before. It was lovely, like something off the TELLY, and inside the pub was full of PALS, also a BEER FESTIVAL. I was quite CAREFUL with the BEER, having a pint of Diet Coke to OFFSET it at one point and also taking BREAKS from drinking all together... well, I did before I went on anyway!

    First up was Mr Alexander Chrisopher Hale, playing my old guitar. We were all crowded into the back room, squidged in around a pool table, but Alex handled it WELL, including a dead good NEW song. After him it was Mugshots Of Criminals, featuring Dan's DAD as lead singer, doing Americana style covers (mostly). It was dead good, and I admired Dan for putting his Dad on - I'd always be too worried if my Dad played, in case anyone dared not to like it!

    More and more chums rolled up, and there was more chat, including a discussion on how ACE John Lewis is. ROCK! Mr Pete Green was next and was fab as ever. It was during his set that the THEME of the day was detected - everybody was doing at least one new song and FINISHING with a cover. I took note!

    The original plan for the day had been to have everything outside, with a BARBECUE, but the threat of RAIN had made the pub decide to move the gig bit inside. The barbecue was still going - i had a delicious Falafel Burger from it - and around this point in the day a consensus was reached that it would probably be worth the risk to move out into the beer garden. This turned out VERY well, as a large crowd had gathered for Robberie, who were GRATE and ALSO complied with the new song + pop cover RULE.

    Then it was my turn, and I took to the "stage" ("gazebo") and did THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • I Did A Gig In New York
  • That Guy
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • Do The Indie Kid
  • It was a lot of FUN, but also a lot of WORK! I was surrounded by Very Small Children running about throughout the set, and also had to keep a wary eye out for CHAT - occasionally during Robberie some people had chatted a bit loudly, probably unaware of their volume due to BEER, so I announced that chatting was NOT ALLOWED while i was on. I thought it was a bit STERN, but it seemed to work! I also did quite a lot of BELLOWING, to get across to everyone, and was very happily surprised to find my voice coped with it FINE. Usually when I do this I get HOARSE halfway through, but it seems that TOURING has toughened me up a bit! I finished with a cover, as was the rule (and inadvertently came close to LOSING the audience and being AWFUL - I delivered the "hello cutie" line in "Boom Shake The Room" to a very cute toddler who was passing by at the time... then realised that the rest of that bit was INCREDIBLY INAPPROPRIATE for delivery to a child, and had to talk my way out of it), then was very pleased to be dragged back for an ENCORE. I gave people a choice of songs and they CHOSE the one with "extreme audience participation" in, so had no qualms about DEMANDING that everyone got up and danced!

    After that there was gentle migration back into the pub for the beer festival and some Conversation, which covered diverse Adult Topics, also some DAFTNESS. There was a young man in the pub who seemed Oddly Familiar, and it was later confirmed (definitely "confirmed"!) that it was Harry Styles From One Direction! It seemed WEIRD that he'd be there, but I guess quite sensible - if you're Harry Styles From One Direction then an old man's BEERY PUB is probably the last place you'll get recognised and hassled!

    There was a BAGATELLE tournament, more chat, more beer, and then suddenly it was 10pm and me and Dan were the only ones left, doing a Pub Quiz. I blame the 7% STOUT! I found myself just a bit too tipsy to see it through to the end, so thanked Mr Hartley and then STAGGERED down to the bus stop, and got the bus back to town and to bed. It had been a BRILLIANT day - the perfect holiday from touring!

    posted 28/5/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Tour Diary 4: Bath
    Last Friday saw a monumental moment in the relationshop of The Trains On My Tracks and I, for LO! we got to use a TWO TOGETHER railcard for the first time! It was Quite Exciting and would have been even more so if anybody had actually checked it!

    We MADE the train with time to spare - I'd spent a WEEK panicking about it - and were soon in Bath, where we strolled to our hotel. We were in the Holiday Inn Express this time, and NOTED with interest the large Indian Restaurant over the road. A quick change then we hopped into a taxi and zoomed out the The Rondo Theatre, where I was DELIGHTED to see that they'd printed out some of our tour posters and stuck them in the window - nobody else has been brave enough to do this before!

    Inside we met Mr G Osborn and Mr J Hare, who'd be joining Gav on piano later on and, after a quick soundcheck, we decamped to the lovely pub down the road. I was very keen to visit it as last time I played with Gav in Bath we'd gone there and I'd had the best pint of London Pride I've had in my LIFE, it was DELICIOUS. I am happy to report that it still was, and we celebrated by having an HILARIOUS and lengthy chat about Diverse Subjects, including the value and use of microwaves, the miracle of induction cookers, and CREEPY HORROR. I laughed a LOT!

    Back at the venue Ms G Petrie arrived after ANOTHER heinous car journey - she'd taken over four HOURS to get there from Leicester, which was bad enough but she'd be heading back after the gig to FLY to a family holiday at 4am next day. She was going to NEED a holiday after all that!

    People were gently trickling in and I asked the nice soundman what time I was on. He looked surprised - it clearly said 8pm on the tickets, so that was when I was starting! I'd been a bit worried about whether the audience would all BE there by then, but as we got to SHOWTIME they all turned up, and it was thus to a healthy sized crowd that I did THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • The Perfect Love Song
  • That Guy
  • Things'll Be Different When I'm In Charge
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • It felt like quite hard work, not because of the crowd, who were lovely, but because i couldn't SEE anybody - I'm so used to playing in lit rooms that the traditional STAGE set-up feels a bit weird, though it was fun going "Whoooooooo!" when the lights first went down, then coming out like a Variety Star! My nervousness did lead to a LOT of REMARKS and chat though, which was excellent fun, for me at least.

    After me Gav and John were MARVELLOUS, especially when they did "You Were Invincible", which he'd not done on the tour before then. Also Grace did some DELIGHTFUL and UNEXPECTED harmonies on the end bit of "Closing Montage", before going on to do a GRATE set herself, featuring a song called "The Distance" which a) I'd not heard before b) was BRILL. Gav and I sat together clucking like a pair of mother hens throughout the set, taking it in term to nudge each other and say "I like this one!"

    By the time we'd all finished, packed up, and said our cheerios we'd JUST missed last orders, so there were final hugs and then The Number On My Card and i HOPPED into a taxi and back to our hotel. We'd not had any tea so decided to go for a CURRY over the road at The Mint Room. Initially we were told they'd stopped serving, but the waiter took pity on us and we got to go in and have a GORGEOUS meal. Having mentioned them in That Guy I thought I ought to have a DOSA, and was glad I did as it was GORGEOUS.

    Usually on this tour I've returned to the hotel and gone to bed, without even a Dirty Pizza, let alone an ACTUAL CURRY, but with The Bourbon In My BOttle there for the ride things got even MORE Rock & Roll, as we sat in the Hotel Bar and drank us some JACK DANIELS! It was a full-on aftershow!

    Next day all vague plans to go to either the Spa Baths or the American Museum were turned down in favour of a lie-in, a hotel breakfast and a trip to ANOTHER great Bath Pub, The Crystal Palace. They'd had a refurb since our last visit, but it wasn't HUGELY different, and a great place to have (basically) BREAKFAST BEERS! Life on the road, it gets a little bit KRAZY sometimes!

    posted 27/5/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Let The Right One In
    On Tuesday night I went to the THEATRE to see an ACTUAL PLAY. It's AGES since I've done this - I mean, I went to see "Jeeves and Wooster" a little while ago, but I thought of that more like a musical, probably because it was FUN. I usually associate Actual Plays with HOMEWORK, to be honest, but this turned out to be DEAD GOOD.

    The trip was instigated by Mrs M Hewitt, so I met with her, Mr S Hewitt and Mr P Baran for pre-theatre drinks just after 6 o'clock. The night before The News In My Bulletin and I had been discussing our enjoyment of Clive Myrie's presentation style on BBC News, and I commented that he always seems like the sort of chap who would a) drink a glass of wine in a pub and b) not care what anybody thought of him for doing so, and with this in mind I decided to start on the wine EARLY. I do like having a glass of wine at The Theatre, it requires less LOO breaks and makes the whole experience more FUN.

    The play was "Let The Right One In", the first to be staged at the Apollo Theatre since the roof caved in on the audience a while ago. We were a little disturbed to find what appeared to be PLASTER on the floor in the bar, but that MAY have been STAGECRAFT of some sort as the play itself featured quite a lot of SNOW on the stage. The roof stayed up throughout anyway, so that was a relief.

    The play itself was GRATE - not least because we got UPGRADED from the upper circle into the very nice comfy seats in the stalls. It's an adaptation of the Swedish book/film from a while back, and the adaptation was done by Jack Thorne, who did The Fades (which was excellent). It was set in the 80s and, as he'd transferred the setting to Glasgow, it felt a bit like a long lost Bill Forsyth movie - "Gregory's Vampire". Maybe that's just me. I really enjoyed it, it was spooky and oddly funny and very charming all round.

    It was a lovely night all round really - maybe this "theatre" thing isn't so bad after all?

    posted 22/5/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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    Tour Diary 3: Bristol
    I was up EARLY on day 3 of the tour, as B&Bs tend to want you checked out a lot sooner than Hotels. On the plus side, they do also give you the second "B" of the B&B, which in this case was a MASSIVE, also DELICIOUS, veggie breakfast. I WADDLED downhill to the station, full of GRUB, and ended up getting an earlier train that expected. I then (after getting SLIGHTLY but not irretrievably lost) found my hotel in Bristol a bit nearer to the station a bit quicker than I thought, so ended up in the lobby of the Ibis asking to check-in at 11:45am. "Check-in isn't until noon" said the lady, a little sharply. "Oh, " I replied, looking equally Slightly Stern, "I can wait then!" I think we both then felt a little self-conscious, and there was much apologising and jolliness on both sides as she searched and found me a room that was ready a bit early. PHEW!

    After some loafing about I headed down the road (getting slightly lost again - Bristol is BIG, also slightly confusing) to the Showcase Cinema, where I watched "Godzilla". About 90 minutes into it I realised that i was BORED - this surprised me, as GIANT MONSTERS FIGHTING is something I am usually very happy to watch, but somehow they had made it DULL. They did that thing where you only see glimpses of the MONSTERS, which is fine except that the people they concentrated on instead were RUBBISH. It was a bit like "Man Of Steel" in a way, as they presented you with the US Army and expected you to applaud them just for being the US Army. The lead character was IN NO WAY A MAVERICK, and it felt like you were meant to cheer for blind obedience, also a bunch of big necked men shouting "SIR! YES SIR!" a lot. I did not enjoy it.

    What i DID enjoy however was a stroll in the sunshine through Bristol to Millenium Square where I met Gav. We had a beer in the sun outside an Indian Restaurant (Kingfisher is an EXCELLENT holiday beer!) and then walked to The Grain Barge, which reminded me a LOT of Charters in Peterborough. This was a good thing!

    We soundchecked, got fed AGAIN, had a free beer AGAIN and then greeted various CHUMS as they rolled up. As with all previous gigs I worried beforehand about how it would go, but it went LOVELY. Gav kicked off, FINALLY doing "Sweet Bedford" after me asking for it every gig, and announcing the arrival of Grace, who'd DASHED back from playing at a wedding in Gloucester, by saying "Here's Grace Petrie, who's come here straight from a wedding." It sounded like he'd said "her wedding", and she was CONGRATULATED by several people!

    Then it was ME, and I did THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • Can We Be Friends?
  • That Guy
  • The Perfect Love Song
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Boom Shake The Room
  • Different songs AGANE here, including the debut of That Guy which went down DEAD well. One of the many lovely things about this tour has been doing NEW songs and having them go down WELL. I'm really rather looking forward to doing the album! Also, people did the "la la la la" bit in the middle of Boom Shake The Room and it was so delightful I had to stop and get them to do it again!

    Then Grace went on and once again was MARVELLOUS, winning over the whole room - there was talk of rotating the running order as the tour went along, but I think both Gav and I favour Grace closing, neither of us really like the idea of following her!

    Then, after some more BEER and CHAT and HUGS, that was that - stage one of the tour was OVER. I returned to the Ibis VERY happy with how it had gone so far and looking forward to the rest of it. Next stop BATH on the 23rd, do come if you can!.
    posted 21/5/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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